Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Back in The Sandbox

Yesterday was our first day home - we got home at three in the morning. I got two hours of sleep... Got a full eight hours last night, though. So I am refreshed and ready to get back to real life. Still "rocking." It is worse sitting down. If I am up and about, I don't notice it as much. My gosh. How long does it take for the "rocking" feeling to subside?!! We've been off the ship for four days now. Enough is enough. It is an incredibly strange feeling that cannot be described other than to say it feels as though you are constantly swaying. Weird.

In the news yesterday...

Cookies tainted with E. Coli. Nice. 48 different kinds - all varieties of Nestle refrigerated dough. Dayum. I buy the packages of Nestle Toll-House cookie dough - the ones where you break off the little squares - and have fresh, hot, delicious chocolate chip cookies with walnuts in a matter of minutes. If and when I see them at The Commissary I buy a half dozen packages. Who can honestly admit to NOT eating a piece of the dough when you open the package? I know the package says not to, but come on. Glad I saw the article. No more raw cookie dough for me.

Swine flu cases are up to 39 confirmed in The Sandbox. Has absolutely nothing to do with pork. Could they not have called the H1N1 virus something else? Getting bacon and ribs and pork roasts across the Causeway from Bahrain is an almost near impossibility because of the Swine flu's name. Call it bristly-hair flu, or Wilbur flu. Something. But not swine flu... I had an interesting conversation at the outdoor lounge at our hotel in Istanbul with a Muslim woman. She was drinking her wine and says that although she considers herself to be devoutly religious, she does not think that drinking is so bad - she enjoys her wine - and that she has eaten pork. Her reasons for not eating more of it have to do with the fact that she just does not care for the taste - because she was not raised on it - but not because she considers it to be any worse than alcohol. I'll post more on her, later. Along with her picture, which she gave me permission to post.

An Egyptian man who ran over a boy has been pardoned by the boy's father. Most graciously, if you ask me. The little boy was seven years old. What was he doing where he could be run over in the first place? Where was the mother? The father? The maid/nanny? Who lets a seven-year-old child go outside to play in the traffic by himself? The accident happened twenty days ago. Do not recall seeing it in the paper - but then - there are far too many "road accidents" to be published. PCRC and all that. The Egyptian man, no doubt, would have been sentenced - beheaded? - or at the very least required to pay a sum of blood money that he would never have been able to raise and probably kept in jail for the rest of his life. The Saudi father has asked for nothing, but that man "pray for our lost child." It was an accident for goodness sake! No one intentionally runs down a small child.

President Sarkozy is in for some back-lash. 'Ya think? He says that the "Islamic burka (Abaya) is 'not welcome' in France..." I have my own views on the black bags we are required to wear. Without getting into the religious aspects of it - in Saudi Arabia - where temperatures are 110-125° every single day from May through October - nothing says comfort like wearing a full-black covering in the sun. [And who decided the men can wear white? A heck of a lot more comfortable in the sun than black, that's for sure!] Having just spent several days in Istanbul - another predominantly [98%] Muslim / Islamic country - we saw very few women wearing full-black coverings. Very, very few. Which is not to say that we did not see women who were following their customs by covering their hair and dressing modestly - we saw many - almost all of the women in Istanbul were covered. They were modestly dressed - no bare arms or legs - and had scarves on, covering their hair. But only a minimal amount of women covered head-to-toe in full-length black...

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, a grand mufti here, has says that "temporary marriages are forbidden." Creating a bit of a stir. Apparently these temporary marriages are more advantageous to women than I thought. And, here, all along, I've been thinking they were mostly advantageous to men. The mufti's "verdict" on these temporary marriages "was contrary to a fatwa delivered by 60 Islamic scholars..." There is confusion and misunderstanding about the issue and the mufti says that his "answer was regarding temporary marriages with the intention of divorce." Excuse me, but if a misyar marriage is only temporary - how else to you end it if not by divorce? Just curious. No matter. As I said, women are happy participants in these temporary marriages due to circumstances that allow them to have a marriage to a man - because you MUST be married to be in his presence - but not to have to have all of the obligations of a traditional marriage. Well. Okay, then.

In the news today...

More swine flu. Great. [I can't tell you how many thermal imaging cameras we walked through going on and off the ship into different ports on our trip. They are everywhere!]

A passenger arriving from an international flight attempted to "smuggle into the Kingdom quantities of opium and heroin." Are you crazy? You are likely a Saudi [as no nationality is reported] - and you know the rules, here. The signs are very clearly written in both Arabic and English that anyone caught smuggling drugs into The Sandbox will be executed - by beheading! So you - whoever you are - had opium hidden in a plastic container in the bottom of a bag, and heroin hidden inside of toothpaste tubes and sole of shoes. Ut-oh. Someone's in big trouble.

The pressures of her work are attributed to another maid trying to commit suicide by swallowing washing powder. She was unsuccessful. The problem is one that is not limited to only The Sandbox. While I was sitting in the airport in Qatar reading the local paper I read about a maid who threw herself out of a moving car in traffic in an attempt to kill herself. Her attempt, was successful.


  1. Wilbur flu. I like that :-)
    We landed in Riyadh June 16. Hubby had a slight fever due to a nasty sinus infection. Thermal scan picked it up. We were asked where we had been. Norway and England. Okay. Then we were asked who we had been in contact with. Don't you just LOVE that one? We told them family and didn't mention the 2000 strangers in Heathrow or the plane. Hubby was given the symptoms of Wilbur flu,(which are remarkably like the symptoms for common flu) and we went on our merry way. Wanna bet if we didn't have American passports and were a bit darker complected, we wouldn't have been let go?
    Go to Jordan. Very stylish yet conservative clothing there. Very very few black bags, even on the older women.
    Two types of marriage here. One is misfar. That is when the guy travels abroad and gets 'married' so he can have the good times. He divorces the woman as soon as he back on Saudi terra firma. Misyar marriage seems to be the ones the women here like. Most if the benefits. None of the responsibilty. Go figure.

  2. Too funny, Linda. Who have you been in contact with? 2000 strangers!

    We've been to Jordan - Amman and Petra. I don't recall seeing a whole lot of black there, either. But I do remember seeing a lot of strikingly beautiful women in Amman - and I wouldn't say that they were dressed all that conservatively, either. Dressed right off the pages of Vogue.


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