Thursday, January 15, 2009

Out of the House - Thinking Only ONE Thing

I went to go do errands this morning. Completely forgot today is Thursday, the equivalent of "Saturday" in the States - or I would have left the house at 8 instead of 10 - but, oh well...

My first stop was the library to return my overdue books - and as always, to check to see what new arrivals are on the shelves. The library is not big, but it is well-stocked, and I can always find something that I know I will enjoy reading, even though the non-fiction section leans - good grief, it almost topples it leans so far - a little too left to my liking. Right now I am reading for the second time - because there is a paragraph in the book that I so want to use on this blog - "The Saudi's: Inside the Desert Kingdom," by Sandra MacKey. A full review on her book will be posted as soon as I am done with it. Her book is one I read before we moved to The Sandbox, and one that I gave to all of my family members that year for Christmas gifts. Surely my perspective will be different now that I've been here for as long as I have - and I will be able to race through it and not feel as though I've missed anything. I read more than one book at a time, always, keeping one on the nightstand next to the bed, one on the coffee table, one on the treadmill... I digress. Moving on... At the library I checked out a couple of books, "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey thorugh his Son's Addiction," by David Sheff and "Why do People Hate America," by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies. They were both on the new releases shelf, even though Sardar and Davies' book was published in 2002. [Yeah. Okay. So things are often behind, here in The Sandbox.]

What was particularly interesting about my trip to the library this morning was that there were families there. [Remember, I forgot it was Thursday.] There were quite a few children in the "Children's Area" - with their Mother's - covered head-to-toe in black, and quite a few men sitting in the reading area reading newspapers and a few students studying. Catching my eye, though, as I was standing in line waiting to pay my overdue fines and check out my new selections, was that in the children's area was a little girl - probably four or five-years-old, sitting on her Dad's lap in a chair at one of the little "pint-sized" tables where they were turning the pages of a book together. It did not appear to be phasing the man - who I am assuming was her Dad - perhaps it was an older brother or uncle - who knows - in the least that the chair in which he was sitting holding his little girl was meant to be used by a child. It was very sweet. He may have been reading to her - or she "reading" to him - I couldn't hear either of them so if one of them was reading they were doing it very quietly. Actually, it wasn't something that I just glanced at out of the corner of my eye as I was standing and doing what I had to do. I was staring - and I continued to stare as I was exiting the library and I was thinking the whole while only one thing.

My next stop was the post office. We never have any mail, and we didn't have mail today, either. But I am waiting on a package that was sent from the States the last week of December. It was sent via priority air-mail, so I expect that we will have it any day. Sure. And it will be intact, unopened, in pristine condition. Not a chance!

After I left the post office I went to the cleaners. I had to wait my turn in line - there was only one person in front of me. While I was still waiting, another man with a little girl - not much older than a toddler came into the cleaners. He was holding her hand, protectively, as Dad's do when their little girls are still so young. Cute little girl - in brown and pink corduroy pants and a matching long-sleeved plaid tunic-style top. Short, pixie-cut hair and BIG brown eyes. She had sandals on with no socks - and even though it has been quite cold for this part of the world, that is not all that unusual - to see sandals. She was staring at me when I looked at her and I returned her stare with a smile and a "hi there." Her response was to put her finger in her mouth. So sweet. Young. Innocent. Again, I was thinking only one thing.

Walking to my car, a Surburban pulled up into the no parking area - the area reserved for taxi-cab drop offs and pick-ups. From the front passenger's side jumped a young boy - ten, maybe - and from the back a maid got out of the vehicle [it is obvious who the maid's are versus the mother's] both heading to go into the grocery store. A woman, covered head-to-toe in black, was behind the steering wheel. The reason I bothered to notice was that the Surburban didn't pull away - it remained parked there - as the boy and the maid went into the store - an entitlement - "I can park here," kind of thing even though the sign says no parking. The young boy had bare feet. Bare Feet!! What kind of mother lets their kid go out in this weather - it was 35 degrees this morning - and was probably only 40-something when I was out - with NO SHOES?!? What kind of mother lets her child go into a public builidng with NO SHOES?!? I was NOT thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw the little girl on the man's lap at the library; I was not thinking the same thing I was thinking when I saw the man holding his little girl's hand at the cleaner's.

Exiting the parking lot - heading around the corner past our community cafeteria, the "Dining Hall" - there "it" was again. The same scenario I had seen played out already twice this morning. With their backs facing me, a man holding the hand of a little girl who was just a little taller than his hip, was walking across the parking lot. My mind, again, immediately turned to just one thought.

Yes, I know it may be presumptious of me to think that all of these men were these little girl's Daddy's. But that is what Dad's do - they let their daughter's sit on their laps and read to them. They hold their hands in public places and walking across parking lots. They treat their little girls like Angel's and Princess's and they protect them from harm and evil. My Dad did. I like to think that most Dad's do. Except for the ones that let their little girls - eight, ten and eleven and twelve years old - get married. And, that, is a part of this culture in The Sandbox that for as long as I live here I will NEVER EVER understand!

Oh, and by the way, one of the reasons for my errands this morning was to go back to the pharmacy for more cough syrup. I wanted to see if the new pharmacist was still there and not the old one. Doesn't matter. I completely forgot I was going to go there. Apparently the little girls with their Dad's consumed my attention too much for me to focus on what it was I was supposed to be doing. Guess we know who will be going back out again this afternoon...


  1. Is the library still located on the North East corner of Recreation in Dhahran? I grew up in Dhahran and remember my parents taking me to the library. It had tall curtains that covered the wall and the children's room was located to the right as you came in.

  2. I can't tell you if it is on the NE corner of Recreation, Netlander. Call me "directionally challenged." The children's room, however, is still on the right as you walk in and the reading area is on the left. How long ago did you live in Dhahran?

  3. I was born there in 1952. My last year as a returning student was in 1973. The town looks like it has changed a lot.

    The building the library was in was on a huge block we called recreation right in the middle of Dhahran. So, standing in the middle of rec and facing the administration building (too far away to see), the library was in the right far corner, the swimming pool was to the right, the bowling alley was behind you, the movie theater was behind to the left, the ball field and tennis courts are to your left. The building the library was in also contained rooms that community groups could use and the pool hall with pool tables and shuffleboard.

  4. It is pretty much the same, Netlander. Only now the "Youth Center" houses the pool tables and shuffleboard; the theater has been completely redone, bowling alley is there, and we have several restaurants next to the bowling alley. The library has been expanded - just in the last six years that we've been here. Oh - and the pool and gym up there are now for women only. The ball field was taken out last year to make way for the King to come visit for the 75th Anniversary. It is a park now and "community gathering" area.

  5. I've looked on Google Earth and my old house is a parking lot now. We lived across from the Ad building at one end of Kings Road (do they still call it that?).

    There are a lot of us who used to live in Dhahran, RT or Abqaiq who still keep in touch. Check us out on

  6. I have to agree its also beyond me why these "father's" marry their daughters off so young.


  7. Kings Road is still Kings Road, Netlander. The speed limit on that road is 40Km. I got a speeding ticket on that road!

  8. Gill, those aren't "father's" - the ones that marry off their CHILDREN - those are monsters!


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