Another Friday morning in Riyadh, the start of the weekend out these parts. Friday mornings are always quiet. Inside the hotel or outside. Few people visible as many have a lie-in. The Prayer channel from Mecca is on, as usual, on the hotel lobby TV and some Imam lad is singing verses from the Quran as pilgrims walk in circles around the holy kaba. Music generally is forbidden in Saudi, except when it relates to singing verses of the Quran or belting out the call to prayer five times per day. But suppose it’s more chanting than singing. The Imam is not backed by acoustic guitars and tambourines like you might see and hear in churches back home.
In an hour or so men will appear in large hoards from every corner as they head for the Friday midday prayer at their local mosque, the main religious event of the week for the faithful. Very few women, if any, attend as they are excused from attending according to the Islamic rules. And as the lady who guided MB & family around Jumairah Mosque last year said – Muslims must prostrate themselves on the floor as part of the prayer. And what woman really wants some man looking at her ass from behind? Or comparing various female asses if groups of women were in attendance! Actually she made this point to explain why women must stay at the back of the mosque if they attend. Good explanation!
MB received some good new from home this week when he was informed that one of his pics will appear in the HX Lake 2014 calendar. Assume the lake committee wanted to include twelve of MB’s pics, but might have caused some political issues around HX. So they decided to take pics from many. Happy to see another Crosser also features, so congrats to Miss JD.
The rains fell this week in Saudi. And in Riyadh it fell by the bucket-full. Traffic in chaos, construction sites in chaos, basically chaos reigning supreme. Weather now gone a little chilly so the short-sleeved shirts are packed away for next three or four months.
MB received visit at work this week from two local gentlemen, Mr Mohammad & Mr Easa, who are managers of a Riyadh Subcontracting company. When the matters of business were dealt with, Mr Easa turned to MB and asked – “And how many wives do you have Mr MB?“. He was extremely disappointed to hear that a big Sheikh like MB only possessed a miserable ‘one’. “Surely but surely Mr MB might consider talking at least one more, or mumken (maybe) two, insha’allah“, said Mr Easa again. MB had to explain that such behaviour is referred to as polygamy where MB comes from and can lead to a stretch in jail if discovered. Both men were visibly shocked to hear that such unjust laws exist in the West, as they had previously considered that part of the world a most open and tolerant place. The two lads confirmed to MB that they happily accept that beheading is a fair punishment for adulterers as dictated by the holy book, but jailing a good man for taking an extra wife or two has to be totally insane. Makes you think ladies, yes?
Mentioned friend RM in the Three Amigos post few weeks back, and fact that he has one wife and now seven daughters with the recent arrival of a new baby girl. In attempt to finally produce a son he has decided to take a second wife. You can take a look at that post to get idea of his circumstances but in a nutshell his new wife will have share the existing apartment with the first wife and seven daughters. MB asked him how the search for Nr 2 was progressing earlier this week.
RM confirmed that there have been many enquiries, but surprisingly many of them are not interested to share a space with Wife Nr 1. And some of the girls who expressed a possibly interest appeared to be a little crazy. But the hunt continues and insha’allah in one or two months maximum the Nr 2 fish will be landed. Insha’allah. Report back to you all in few weeks from now with update.
Read a very interesting blog post last night and now giving it to you all to take a look. It’s written by a Muslim lady who grew up in USA but later moved to Egypt. It’s basically how she has always felt different wherever she has lived or how she has lived. It’s aptly called I’m An Alien and worth a read. Just click on the title. But it got MB thinking about his recent years out this neck of the wood and all the characters he has come across.
Of course the cultures out here are totally different from back home. But in the end MB concludes that we are all not so different after all. Remember meeting a Pakistani animal trader at the Eid market in the Emirate of Sharjah few years back and after a few minutes chat it struck MB that this man would not be out of place in the cattle market at Kilmallock back home, and would fit right in. A farmer in one country is not much different from a framer in another country. The religion, clothes, technology and lots more might be vastly different of course but the mentality is very similar. Both live a similar life. Working the soil or with the animals. Hoping the elements of sun & rain will be kind when needed. Remember asking that Pakistani man how much he was charging for the sheep he had at the market. About Euro 300 each was his reply. “And how much will you charge next week when Eid festival is finished?” asked MB. “Mumken Euro 100” he replied. MB thought for a minute and said in reply “farmers are the same in every country“. Within an instant both of us burst into laughter, as he immediately caught my drift, and no explanation of MB’s words were necessary. MB also grew up on a farm, and both of us knew that money is not easily earned in this profession. And when you get the opportunity to make some extra, even if that means taking advantage of huge demand to charge more, then you do so, as there will be many weeks and months when there will be no income at all.
So two completely different histories, religions and backgrounds where MB and the Pakistani man were concerned, but an instant respect for each other and a mutual understanding of how farming minds work. Have also come across other similar situations out here when noticed more similarities than differences when you go beneath the surface a little and really take a look. Mentioned this point also recently in the Two Tribes post. Has also often crossed MB’s mind that even the very conservative Muslims out here have much more in common with religious conservatives back home that they have with many of their fellow Muslims who are of a more live-and-let-live bent.
So MB is not an alien. Some differences with the people out here for sure. But not really in the things that matter most. Have made many friendships out these parts that will last a lifetime. MB is sure of that. So at the end of the day, the beliefs or backgrounds did not interfere with the friendships or prevent them forming. Mentality and common basic human values were far more important. A lesson in there somewhere, MB in thinking!
This weeks pics are from that day at the Eid festival animal market from two years back. Hope you like.
Have a nice weekend all. Take care.