Friday, July 31, 2009

Parting is Bittersweet

We are going to miss you R & C! They left today. I probably didn't say a whole lot about this - if I even mentioned it - but we threw a big outdoor pool party last week for dear friends who are leaving The Sandbox - never to return. They are headed back to real life in the States. C is one of the women who comes for Tuesday Pool Day at our house - and R is someone my DH has golfed with for years. We've attended many golf tournaments together - dinners - parties... I am sad to see them leave.

The party, by the way, was a big success. I used the twenty ghutra's I had bought to make table cloths and napkins. We had the entire thing catered - and that was the smartest thing I could possibly have done to make the party the success it was. If anyone is over here - you NEED to get Tamimi to cater your next party!!! Spectacular! Just spectacular. And not at all pricey. American beef burgers on the grill, spicy links - beef [not pork], hot-dogs, chicken wings, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, chef's salad... All sorts of appetizers. And beautiful deserts - walnut brownies, cheese-cake, some other delightful pastry chef specialities... A real "American" barbeque / picnic. What was even better was the help that came with it - someone to do the grilling, someone to serve... Another person to pour beverages. The next morning? At ten o'clock everyone came back to clean up. Wow. I will never ever host another gathering without Tamimi's help.

Last night was a steak dinner at another friend's house - with guests of honor, R & C - one final good-bye. Then today, we helped them clean out their refrigerator and pantry. The pork! Oh, C, thank you thank you thank you. Tonight, as I cry, because you are leaving and I will miss you, we'll think of you both when we have pork cutlets for dinner... I am, after all, a pork-eating vegetarian.

Sand Being Blamed

Surely it was a contributing factor, but it is not likely the sole cause of PCRC. Six dead. Let's be frank. If all that was left from a head-on collision between two vehicles was "mangled steel" the drivers were going too fast. But the individual driver or speed could not possibly be a factor, right? It is never the driver's fault. That would mean accepting some "personal responsibility." And we all know that is an impossibility. Driving here in The Sandbox is something that must be experienced. You cannot actually believe it until you see it for yourself. My descriptions [in the archives] do not do the traffic and driving situation justice.

The season for maid demand is upon us - coming fast. The "holidays" here - where Ramadan is celebrated for an entire month. It starts in about three weeks. The article in today's Saudi Gazette is quite telling with regard to this "must find a maid now" dilemma. "...housewives are frantically searching for a professional maid to help them with the extra housework and with preparing special meals..." What did you do for housework before? How is there extra housework now? Who prepared your meals? The maids speak out: "When we ask for certain things, the housewife always accepts all of our demands, but after we arrive at the house, everything changes." Bingo! That is the money statement. According to one wife - who has five children - her demands are that the maid "is able to work for long hours every day... a maid who can work for long hours in the kitchen, and keep silent without becoming angry or complaining." My gosh. Who wouldn't want to work under those circumstances? As is always reported when an article on housemaids is published, there is the usual and customary explanation as to why maids do not fare well in many homes in The Sandbox: "The main reason that maids leave their employers it the bad treatment they receive." Bad treatment? If by that you mean horrific abuse! Let's not forget this one: "A large number of maids who complain of the treatment that they received in their employers' homes, in addition to not receiving their salaries." [Emphasis, mine.] Bad treatment for no pay. The word is getting out. Do not go to the Middle East to become a housemaid!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An "Awww" Moment

Saw this at Rachel Lucas's place:

Do they make a swing big enough for a Great Dane? I'm thinking I'd never, ever be able to get The Boy to do something like this. No way. I can, however, picture The Baby doing this...

Strangest Summer Weather

Another yellow sky today. Dust filled air. Strangest weather we've experienced in a summer in all the years we've been here. And, it hasn't been nearly as hot, either. Global warming and all... Last year it was so hot the pool was in the mid-90's through all of July and August. This year? Temperature hasn't gone above 85°. Not complaining. Still very odd though. Today is definitely an "inside" day. The Boy is going to want to be out - and I'll have to tell him no. Nothing going on in the news on this side of the world. It is the weekend. Guess I'll see if I can't find something on television - other than the news - which just makes me rant and rave - and get going on another mountain of laundry. I cannot bear the thought of hearing more about a health care plan that not only is going to bankrupt America but that John Conyers says is too much to even read. What the heck are those congress critters being paid to do?!? Good to know that they don't bother to read what they've signed. Yeah. Like that is a big surprise. Geez! Is it just me, or does anyone else wonder why these fools keep getting voted in?

"What good is reading the bill if its a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?" This man needs to curl back up under the rock he originally slithered out from - with his wife. Dumbass! If people in Michigan elect this buffoon again - they get what they deserve - but don't make the rest of us pay for it, too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sears is blocked. Sears!

What the heck has Sears done to its website that it has to be blocked here? Sears. As in Sears Roebuck and Co. I want to look at vacuums. And can't. "Access denied." Unbelievable. Well, no. Not really. There is little that is unbelievable or shocking, here, any more.

I know. I know. Satellite internet. DH keeps saying "we'll see." When the sites he looks at on a regular basis start getting blocked...

A "gang" has been arrested. No number given as to how many are in the "gang" that was "responsible for some 30 acts of kidnapping, assault and robbery." No matter. Let's just be thankful that they are off the streets, now.

Big crack down on the crack pots, lately. Every day another "magic man" is taken off the streets... My gosh. That people fall for this kind of thing... Like a snake oil salesman. In abundance in The Sandbox. [But then one made it to the White House, too.]

PCRC on what should have been their brother's "happiest day in his life."

No happily ever after, here, either. A young woman, 19-years-old, "suddenly fainted... and died" right before she was going to get married.

Nothing like personal responsibility. Remember the young woman that drowned a couple weeks ago? She was in a "no swimming" area, which as previous reports have stated, was clearly marked with signs, and she went into the water anyway. Has anyone considered that the possibility exists that perhaps her going into the water was not an as much of an accident as it has been made out to be? Was she trying to quit living? I don't know. Purely speculation on my part [from a conversation I had with a friend earlier this week]. Either way something terrible happened and she is no longer alive. But how is it the Jeddah Mayoralty's fault? The Saudi Environmental Association [SEA] wants to blame the Jeddah Mayoralty and says "that the location of the drain aperture was in violation of regulations." In response, the SEA's says "The mayoralty must move the drain out to sea and halt the channeling of sewage to avoid similar accidents. The mayoralty will be responsible for anyone falling into the drain." He said. She said. Whatever. Here's the thing, though. This statement: "...the drain was the largest in Jeddah, pumping out over 5,000 cubic meters of rainwater and groundwater per hour." Rainwater and groundwater. Not sewage. All that rainwater and groundwater in one of the driest countries in the world. Umm hmm. Sure.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meant to Warn Everyone?

All these notices of punishments being printed in the papers lately. I wonder if they are not being reported to serve as a deterrent to others. People who have been here for a long time will tell you that they used to be able to leave their wallet and keys in their car and both would still be there when they returned. Supposedly the gold shops used to just close a curtain when the shop-keeper left for prayer and when he returned everything was still there. Now? Let down your guard for just a brief second and your pocket-book will be ripped right off your arm, or your mobile snatched right out of your hand. I wouldn't leave my doors unlocked to either our house or the truck to run the quickest errand. No way.

Jail - two years, and lashes - 1,000 of them, for stealing "a handbag." The man who did it was caught "in a shopping center." Saudi Gazette identifies his nationality! And he is a Saudi. Not that it needs to identify him, because I think we're all pretty good at the "guess the nationality" game, at this point. We know that if someone is from somewhere else that it must be reported and that if they are from the Sandbox it goes unreported insofar as identification by nationality. The man said he did what he did "after being unable to find work." Calling BS on that. There are plenty of jobs here. They just are not all upper management and CEO positions. Man up. Take your punishment. Just because you cannot find a job does not give you the right to steal handbags!

This kind of thing... I don't even know the right snark for it. An African man has been arrested after being "accused of practicing magic and sorcery which enabled him to gain full control of a Saudi family for two years." Two years! My gosh the man only cast a spell on you. Apparently he took your balls, too: The Saudi man said "that he and his family of a wife and daughter had been under a spell the suspect cast on them... and that he [the African man] had turned them into his servants." Whatever.

The "Saudi Casanova" says he was "set up." He has been identified by name - and there is a picture of him - although you can only see his balding head, he is covering his face. Now that he has been caught, he is using "the victim card." I know that there is a YouTube of him from the show he appeared on - but I am not going to link to it, and I have not watched it. A friend has. Wonder what her take is on this, now? I'm going to go ahead with my own take on this - and that is that he is upset about this whole thing now, only after he's been caught. Some 200 people have complained about him at this point. The man says he went on the show, "Red Line," after a "presenter contacted him asking him to discuss xesual relations in a marital context on air." Who knew we had a version of the Jerry Springer show on this side of the world? I don't know all what was said on the show so I can't comment on that aspect of it. At this point, he is telling a different story, though, and says that "The channel took only about five percent of the interview we did and got rid of the other 95." Umm hmm. Sure. So now it is all the fault of the show. Abdul Jawad says he was "lied to" and has retained a lawyer to take the television channel to court. We'll just have to wait and see what happens as this continues to unfold.

In related news, there is a "campaign calling for a boycott" of the show. Is a boycott really necessary? How about switching the channel? Or turning the television off! The Lebanese television channel, LBC, has "announced it would discontinue the programme." Did viewers not have a clue as to what was going to be shown? And now, they are all in a tizzy about it because someone had the audacity to go on the show and boast of what may or may not have been a man's xesual conquests? The "campaign, entitled 'Isolation would make it good-mannered' [wherever that means?!], found fault with the channel for exploiting the gullibility of some young Saudi men and women and thus inflicting irreparable damage to the image of Saudi Arabia." [Emphasis, mine.] Sooo. That's what this is all about. Got it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pool Man is Back!

He has no idea how happy I was to see him this morning. I am glad that he is back. Not that Joo-wee wasn't going to do a good job... I just wanted to make sure that our "old" pool guy was okay. And, he is. Dayum. Had I of known he'd be here this morning I would have baked muffins. I'll have them ready for Wednesday morning, though. And serve them with a big glass of milk and his favorite juice [strawberry].

I'm sure I've mentioned it before - we have the best juice in the world here. Nada makes it. Could do with a little less sugar, but it sure is tasty stuff! My favorite is the Kiwi-Lime...

...more gruesome than yesterday?

At least equally so...

A Saudi man was beheaded yesterday for shooting and killing a compatriot. Interesting that he can be identified by both name and nationality. It must be okay only in certain circumstances. No idea what the count is up to at this point. But, we know we can add at least two more...

These two, who were arrested for the rape of an 18-year-old Chadian girl. According to the report, there are four men involved, all Chadian. Only a couple of hours after the victim reported the crime to police the men were caught. No indication of whether or not they have confessed to their crime, yet [expect it, though], and whether or not the two have identified the other two men who were involved. When that happens, add four to the running total...

Depending on which report you read, either four or five women of Arab origin - but not "locals" - have been arrested for running a prostitution ring. One report says that there were a "number of male clients," who are not identified by nationality. Care to guess? And, were they arrested too?

Three youths have been arrested after they were found to have a metal detector "concealed" in their vehicle, along with "a compass and books on how to practice magic." Who knew it was not permissible to have a metal detector? You know those things that you see men at the beach walking around with that scanning thing to find things people have lost in the sand? That would certainly explain why the "youths" had "large quantities of halala coins." Of course, they're going to have some 'splaining to do as to why they had the books and talismans. No mention of their nationality. Heck, there is not even any mention of whether or not they were male or female. Let's guess they were males. If they were females they wouldn't have been driving - and if they were - then that would have been the story. And if they were in mixed company? Whoa!!! That'd be the story because there is no mixing of the xeses allowed. Ever.

This guy is in big trouble. Twenty kilograms of hashish hidden in his vehicle? That's what? Like 44 pounds! I have no idea what even one pound of the stuff would look like. But how do you hide 44 pounds?!? That is more than just enough for personal consumption, isn't it? He had seven family members with him who did not know that they were in a vehicle carrying that kind of contraband. Supposedly. No matter. Say good-bye to your husband or your father whoever you seven other family members are. [Oh, and again, no mention of his nationality.]

Another group of teenagers arrested for trying to blackmail women. Blah, blah, blah. This is the "in" crime in The Sandbox. Happens every single day and no one - NO ONE - is learning from the mistakes of others. If it wasn't so pathetic it would be comical.

This headline is deceptive: "Cheating runs in the family." Thought for sure I was going to read about another philandering husband. Nope. Instead it is about a man wearing a woman's abeya and sneaking in to the "females-only market" when only a couple of days earlier a man related to him tried the "same trick."

Just another disposable housemaid. She committed suicide. An Indonesian housemaid. Must be important for us to know that. Although, reports on housemaids do NOT need mention the nationality. We know who they are not. Her sponsor was "shocked." I bet he was. In the same article, it is reported that ten people were arrested yesterday and accused of distributing "smut." Telling, isn't it? That the housemaid is not even worthy of her own article.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Memo To: The Censors in The Sandbox

Not every single blog that has the "F-word" in it has to do with "XES!"

Why - WHY - WHY! do they ALL have to be blocked?!!!

Probably this will come as a surprise, but amazingly enough, not everyone has a one-track mind in this part of the world. Some of us just want to be informed and enlightened. Bloggers use the word - the "f-word" in anger and to make a point. And usually, when the word is used like that, the posting they have done has absolutely nothing to do with "Forced Unlawful Carna1 Knowledge" ing.

Saudi Blogger Gathering

Gathering, as in two of us. I met the author of "Sand Gets In My Eyes," yesterday. We had a very nice visit. She and I often blog about the same things that are in the news, here in The Sandbox, but she does it from a very different perspective than I do.

If you've not visited her blog - do so. Beautifully written. [Of course, when you've been a professional journalist for thirty years like she has...]

I found her blog a month or so ago and was quite surprised. We truly are neighbors, living on the same compound, and virtually within walking distance of one another. It is a small world, isn't it?

In the News Today? It's Gruesome!

Man oh man. A quick glance at the papers and YIKES! Some of it is disturbing... And, gruesome.

PCRC. Two "thieves" in a stolen car that overturned were "rushed to the hospital." In another vehicle an Egyptian man was killed and six others injured when their car overturned. And in a third accident, a bus collided with a streetlight and two people were injured.

Eleven "persons" who got caught in a raid "months ago" have been sentenced to 6-month terms of prison and 120 lashes each for being caught making booze. "The raid involved 80 personnel of the Hai'a who caught the suspects red-handed."

Four children have drowned. Four! During a family picnic. Two of the bodies have been recovered and authorities are searching for the other two. How does this happen? Four children drowning at once?!?

How does something like this happen?!! A 12-year-old boy "accidentally shot dead his nine-year-old brother [in the head] while playing with a hunting gun." Do children NOT learn that guns aren't toys, here? What an awful thing to have happened.

A woman in Makkah is "demanding an investigation into an incident where her daughter and son were stopped and questioned by staff members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice." And, she wants compensation because she thinks her daughter's "reputation 'was tarnished in public.'" Well at least we know what that is really all about. Money. And the report would appear to be missing some details. The girl says that she "and her brother had to sign a paper... with their names on it, as people had started to gather and they were afraid of a scandal." Who was afraid of a scandal? The people gathering or the girl and her brother? Doesn't make sense. Well, not to me, it doesnt. Put your big girl panties on. Quit whining.

Interesting that in this report the subject involved is identified by both name and nationality. Even more interesting is that his punishment is so much more severe - his right hand has been amputated - than the punishment for these two men [who are not identified by either name or nationality] who got caught in the act trying to steal a boat. This gang of thieves who stole SR36,000 [$9,651.47] worth of electronics? Any punishment? The unidentified thief who "confessed" and then "revealed the identify of his accomplices" [nationality? care to guess?!] - what was the punishment for them? Good grief. What did the Yemeni man steal [he confessed to his crime - they all do] that his right hand was cut off?

In an act of forgiveness a Saudi man has "pardoned the Indian water-truck driver who was found responsible for the death" of his son. He does not want the "blood money." He does, however want SR40,000 to compensate for the damage to his wife's car - which his son was driving. The Indian "lorry driver" will have to come up with that money "before he can be released from jail."

This father is demanding the death penalty for the killers of his son. Cannot say that I blame him. The two men, the "killers," have instead been sentenced to five years in prison and 500 lashes for the alleged murder of a 19-year-old [which, in comparison to other cases, seems mild!]. The father of the 19-year-old says that his son was "returning home... when the two friends asked him to get into the car for a ride." According to police, and the statement of the two men "they planned to rape him." At some point, the 19-year-old "realized they wanted to harm him... and asked them to stop the car, which they refused to do." So he "jumped from the moving car." The young man died after being in a coma for 12 hours. The two alleged killers, Yehya Baqqal and Mutasim Ahmed, "deny having any intentions of harming" the 19-year-old - which rather contradicts the statements they gave to police that they wanted to rape him. That isn't harm? Apparently not.

More on the dumbass who allowed himself to go on television to boast of his "conquests." According to this, he could be beheaded for his acts - and he will have no one to blame but himself.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The jeja's Stunning List of Achivements

Oh yeah, it is. A stunning list. A stellar performance thus far.

I got this in an e-mail from a friend:

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVD's when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to Royalty in another country, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current on their income taxes, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the fourth of May [Cuatro de Mayo], and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had mis-spelled the word advice would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and potatoe as "proof" of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on "Earth Day," would you have concluded he is a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually "get" what happened on 9-11?

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again 10 times within years, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about the jug-eared-jack-ass currently sitting in our Nation's highest office, that makes him so brilliant and impressive?

Can't think of anything? Don't worry. The jug-eared-jack-ass has done all of the above in five months -- so you will have three years and seven months to come up with an answer.

1275 days and counting.

Oooh. Oooh. And let's just add one more thing to the list:

Just a few days ago - when he was doing his infomercial on health care... He called a police officer's actions STUPID! He actually used the word "stupid." If George W. Bush had done this, would you have approved of it?

I could not agree with James Manning more on this, when he says: "Get the long-legged mack-daddy -- this two-tongued liar -- this quasi... socialist communist marxist freak called barack hussein obama -- that half-breed -- that illegal alien -- that emissary of the devil -- that vice president of genocide and hell -- we need to get him OUUTTT of the White House!"

Personally, when he is hog-tied and hauled out of the White House in hand-cuffs, I will be happy. Not until then, though. Rush Limbaugh just wants to see this man's policy fail. I want to see HIM fail! "Elections have consequences, my friends." That is a quote from Rush...

Joo-wee the New Pool Guy

This is probably not a good thing. We had a new guy clean the pool today. He called and he said, "Yes, Madam. Is Joo-wee. I have new lock." I said, Excuse me? Who is this? Joo-wee? "No, Madam. Joo-wee." [That's what I said! He corrected me several times. His name is Joey but that is not how he pronounces it.] You have what? What are you talking about. We don't need a new lock? "Yes. Is Joo-wee. I have lock." I'm sorry. You must have a wrong number. It took us more than a few minutes - conversing about two different things - him trying to tell me that he has the key to the back gate so that he can clean the pool - and for me trying to tell him that I do not need a new lock. If he would have just said, "I am coming to clean the pool" we could have avoided getting off on the wrong foot. He probably thinks that I am a crazy American woman that cannot understand English! And, honestly, I do not do well with very broken English and an incredibly strong accent. I'm not blaming him - because yet again, someone else at least can speak "my" language while I cannot speak theirs.

I called Rev after "Joey" called but he wasn't answering his phone, thanks to caller I.D.! [Yeah - big surprise that Rev won't answer his phone when I call, right?] So I still don't know if our previous pool man is done for good or not. I hope it will all work out and that this blows over and passes, but I'm thinking... Does not look good for our other pool guy. Sigh. Heavy sigh.

Beauty Morals, Denial and Reprieve

The "Miss Moral Beauty" pageant has a winner. An 18-year-old woman who "trounced 274 rivals to win a crown, jewelry, cash and a trip to Malaysia, all without showing her face." I'd post her picture -- oh wait -- there wasn't one. She was "completely covered by the black head-to-toe abaya." Of course. Good for her. Beating out all those other women to be named "The Queen of Beautiful Morals." Interesting that the competition, in its second year, was held in Qatif at its "annual Mass Wedding Festival." Last year's winner got a marriage contract on the day she won the contest. So, for her, it was a twofer. The article says that, "Beauty contests focused on physical beauty are non-existent in the Kingdom." Oh really? How about the goat contest? Or the camel contest? Exactly how are those judged if not on appearance?

A couple of weeks ago there was the sad story about a woman who drowned when she slipped and fell in the sea near a sewage discharge pipe. Today we learn that the sewage discharge pipe does not carry sewage. It carries ground water out to sea. Because there is such an abundance of it. In one of the "driest countries in the world." Glad that got cleared up for us.

This woman got a reprieve. She was not beheaded yesterday, for killing a "young man" nine years ago.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Good grief. Idiot. A "Saudi man has been arrested for boasting about his xes life on television..." The man, Mazen Abdul Jawad, appeared on some television show that I have never heard of, "Red Line," where he "explained how he uses Bluetooth... on his cellphone to try to pick up Saudi women..." There were a whole lot of complaints about whatever it was he said on the show - boasting of his many conquests and whatever else - and he may now face charges. Either way, Kudos to the report that named the man, and perhaps shamed him.

Arresting Children

Didn't happen here. Happened in Baltimore, Maryland. Three boys, ages seven, eight and eleven, were arrested for stealing from a neighbor's yard. The kids were caught in the act.

If you missed it on the news, watch this [for whatever reason the video won't let me embed it - even though the code is there].

Right off the bat - out of one of the children's mouth - a lie. Steve Doocy asks the eight-year-old, "Did you steal something out of the neighbor's yard?" The kid says "No." And then has to be prompted by his mother "not to lie." The kid is going to be a felon in no time.

Do I think two children should have been hauled off away in hand-cuffs? Probably not. I don't think they should have been kept in a holding cell for several hours, either. But the kids - all three of them - definitely have to learn that actions have consequences. They need to have their little butts hauled before some juvenile court, that is for sure. And there has to be a punishment.

We can count on a lawsuit. Police will have to defend themselves against a senseless suit. The court system will, yet again, be tied up for a frivolous suit, at the expense of taxpayers. You just know these women are seeing dollar signs.

Wrong Place and Wrong Time

The man who has been cleaning our pool for almost two years -since we moved from the townhouse to this house - came and cleaned the pool for me again yesterday. It was off schedule - he comes on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday mornings. We had a party yesterday, and I wanted the pool cleaned. Lately, with the dust, it has been a mess. He is one of Rev's guys. Truly this man has had a very, very hard life. Not only hard, but rough as well. Guess I should have said good-bye to him yesterday. Little did I know when he cleaned the pool that I am not going to see him again. Not really sure of all of the circumstances around this, but I'm going to guess that he is a scapegoat. It isn't a pretty situation for him, whatever happened. Poor guy. I would like to think that I am wrong about all of this but I don't think so.

Our pool man is relatively young - I'd put him in his early thirties. He could even be a bit younger. Hard to tell by looking at him. He has one good eye. No clue what happened to his bad eye, but if he was in a fight or something when he was young, someone got the better of him. Very few teeth - the ones he has are brown. No, not yellow. Brown. [Stained from chewing something or other, too much smoking? I don't know. I'd be willing to bet, however, that he has never in his entire life been to a dentist.] Walks with a slight limp - one leg / foot either bothers him or has something wrong with it. Nice guy, though. Not a day that he has been here that he hasn't smiled and returned my morning greeting. [I go out as soon as he gets here to give him juice and water. If I make muffins or something in the morning, then I make sure he gets a couple of muffins and a glass of milk, too. Or a piece of cake if I've made one - or whatever. And leftovers. If there is extra something - I pack it up for him. I have seen what he eats - carries his lunch wrapped in a newspaper. Rice. That is not unusual. That is what many of the workers are eating, here, and that is how they carry it. Wrapped in newspaper.]

A couple of years ago - would have been the first December we were here in the house - we had moved in that October - 2007 - I made big, huge plates of cookies and fudge and goodies for a lot of workers. Along with any single-status men who work with my DH. I had also purchased presents - flannel lined shirts and gloves for the men who work for us - the pool man, our gardener, the houseboy we had at that time - Inom had been replaced by Sajeed at that point. I wrapped the gifts. I attached cards. And I had the big plates of cookies for them all. Along with a little "something extra" which I put in the cards. On the morning I gave the pool man his gifts, he had tears in his eyes. "Thank you, Madam. Thank you, Madam. You are good to me. You remind me of my Mother. She died when I was eight-years-old." [And, I'm tearing up now, just thinking about this scene - course it's probably my sinus problem and the dust... Yeah.] I have no idea what happened to this man's mother. But I can tell you from that day forward it was not easy for him. Like I said a very hard, very rough life. [I have often wondered if perhaps he may have suffered from "shaken baby syndrome" because of his eye problem. That, and the fact that he really isn't the sharpest tool in the shed.] No matter. He has done a good job cleaning our pool and has been nothing but polite and respectful to me. And, gracious.

So. Yesterday the pool guy cleaned the pool around eleven o'clock. Our pool is not the only pool he cleans, here. He cleans a lot of them. Everyone knows who he is - well, everyone - everyone that has a pool. He left to go about his business and work wherever else it is he works here. DH was playing golf [what a surprise!] when the pool guy was here. DH got home around noon and came in and asked, "Did the pool get cleaned already?" [As if you can't tell by looking at it.] I said yes, that it had just been finished. Apparently Rev had called DH as DH was putting home in his little Club Car and asked him if he couldn't go and talk to Security about something to do with our pool man. So, DH grabbed the truck keys and headed off to where he needed to go.

What happened is that some house was broken into. Our pool man just happened to be riding his bike by - going wherever he was going - and got stopped by the Security force who gave him the third degree as if he is the one responsible for breaking a window and robbing a house. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether he broke a window or not - since I wasn't there - but he certainly hadn't had much time to rob the place. He had just left our house! [Just how many TV's or DVD players can you carry on a bicycle?!!] DH explained to Security that he had just cleaned our pool. Big problem that he cleaned our pool and then did not leave the compound, apparently. Interesting that we are getting some grief about this as we are not the ones who sponsor him or sign him in. Although, to be honest, I have signed him in in the past. No idea who signed him in today. Wasn't us. Anyway, Security gave our poor pool man the third degree and after DH talked to them, he - the pool man - was told that he had to immediately leave the compound. Okay. No problem.

Don't 'cha know, after he parked his bicycle wherever it is he parks it, and was walking out, he got stopped again, by Security, who did a quick check of his "papers" and realized that he had just been stopped and questioned about the break-in. He is no longer allowed to enter our compound. Rev is going to have to find someone else to clean our pool. Although, really, that isn't as much of a concern for me right now as the situation of our current pool man.

There have been some problems here with break-ins and theft. It happens here, just like it does in any other community anywhere else in the world. Sure we're on a "secured" compound, surrounded by walls and gates and check points. But that doesn't prevent crime from happening altogether, for goodness sake! We have got a lot of teenagers on our compound. Some are what are called "returning students." They are the students that are not here during September through June, but once their school lets out, they return to spend the summer with their families. As well, there are a lot - and by that I mean A LOT - of local teenagers. A whole lot more of these than returning students. Yes. They are a problem. All of the teenagers. But what teenager isn't a problem? [Okay. There are probably a few that aren't...] Mostly the teenagers that are here that are causing the problems insofar as break-ins and theft goes are the ones that are bored at night and they break into houses looking for booze. [Not that they'd ever find it, but...] Which is not to say that there have not been teenagers that have burglarized houses and stole a lot more than that! Oh, no. Last year eight American students were caught running an entire grand scheme that involved breaking into homes and stealing whatever was not bolted down and then selling the goods! Every one of them was immediately expelled. No longer allowed to return. Just like that. Poof.

I find it hard to believe that our pool guy broke into a house and burglarized it, though. First of all he didn't have enough time to do it. And secondly, he was on a bicycle, in broad daylight. Did the robbery just happen? Someone was brazen enough to break a window and try to steal stuff in the middle of the day - on one of our "main" streets in this compound? And you - the Security guys - think it was our pool man? You've got to be kidding. I just don't see it happening that way. No one is going to do that in the middle of the day, on one of the main streets. Convenient, though, that the blame for this has been put on our pool guy. If he did it - then it was wrong - and he deserves to be punished. But I don't think he did it. And the Security guys must not think he did it either, or he never would have been released. He would have immediately been taken to jail. That is how that works.

But, instead, he has been expelled from our compound and will never be able to come clean our pool again. Guess in one regard I should be thrilled that that is all that happened to him. How is he going to make a living? Who sponsors him and who holds his papers? Is he destined to be another illegal worker downtown washing cars or something? I don't know. Perhaps Rev will have more information for us on Saturday. In the meantime, Security here needs to be looking for the real culprit!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Busy Day - And No Time For This Crap!

The crap that has invaded my sinuses. Nasty. Surely it is the dust. And, although it has greatly subsided, it is still out there. Harming everyone who breathes it in. Benadryl is helping, but makes me want to take very, very long naps - which, today, I do not have time for. So much for working lately. That has been a near impossibility with the dust. Pool gets cleaned in the morning - is dirty a couple hours later. It is a giant bowl of water masquerading as a dust magnet!

Head is pounding, right behind my eyes. Cannot hear properly - like hearing through a tunnel or something. Nose is puffy and swollen. Eyes are red and runny. And, don't you know we have big plans. Feel like crap. Time to put my big girl panties on and get with the program. Oh - and speaking of the pool cleaning guy... A whole 'nother story for tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Front Page? Nope. Not here.

"Adulterous Saudi princess granted UK asylum feared death by flogging and stoning."

Why isn't that in one of our two newspapers today? Apparently it is not news in The Sandbox.

"The Saudi Arabian princess, who is in secret British asylum after giving birth to an illegitimate child, told the British Asylum Tribunal that her country's law would award her killing by flogging and stoning if she was made to return home." I don't know if that would actually happen - I have yet to see a report of a stoning here - but I am not disputing it, either. Flogging, on the other hand... The article says that the woman "comes from a very wealthy Saudi family," is married to a member of the Royal Family, and that she met her "English boyfriend... during a visit to London." Doesn't appear as though she will be back to visit The Sandbox anytime soon ever again.

[H/T from Joseph. Thanks!]

No Kidney for You!

Back to that episode of Seinfeld... "No soup for you!"

A Saudi man - who of course is not identified by name - married a Filipino woman - and was "hoping to exchange a kidney in addition to wedding vows." Unbelievable. [Ya' know what? Actually, it is quite believable.] Some people will do just about anything, I guess. From an article in Variety News [Alarabiya], "The wealthy foreigner proposed to the woman... in an attempt to bypass the Philippines' strict regulations set up to fight the country's widespread organ trafficking." No mention of whether or not the woman was going to benefit financially from the deal, though, and neither of them has been charged. Pretty stiff punishment could be handed out, as "Foreigners are banned from receiving organ transplants from local donors and organ sales are punishable by up to 20 years in jail."

The man was not successful in his scam and hospital officials refused to do the transplant when they "noticed the couple spoke no common language and had wed only very recently." Good on the hospital for realizing that the man had intentions far more than just being married and living "happily ever after."

[H/T from Findalis. Thanks!]

Mamas' Don't Let your Daughters...

...Grow Up to Be Housemaids. With sincere apologies to Willie Nelson... Now, I'll be humming or singing the first couple line of his song all day. What is that called? When you get a tune in your head and you can't get it out?

It is sad that there is even such a system that so many workers who come here are "hired" [and I use that term loosely!] to be domestic help. "Hired." The word hire, according to Merriam-Webster means: payment for the temporary use of something; payment for labor or personal service [emphasis, mine]. It is not a secret that many domestic workers here never get paid. Nor is it a secret that many are abused. Countries throughout the Middle East have domestic workers. Gazillions of them. Almost all of the domestic workers are imported from other third-world countries. That there are no employment opportunities for these workers in the countries which they are from is unfortunate. But to have to go to another country - away from home and family - to be a domestic worker is probably worse than being poor and unemployed at home in your own country.

You could spend an entire day going through my archives to see how many cases of abused maids and other domestic help I have blogged on. Ditto for workers who never get paid. As well, in the archives you can find other cases where domestic helpers have tried to "escape" from their employers or sponsors. An article published in today's Saudi Gazette spotlights yet another unfortunate housemaid who, in trying to escape the abuse torture from the family she was working for, jumped from a second story window and horrifically broke not only both her legs but also fractured her spine. The housemaid, a 48-year-old woman from Sri Lanka is in a "medical complex" right now.

From her hospital bed, she says that she has only been in Saudi Arabia for two months, and came "to work as a domestic helper" [that is funny! but not in a "ha ha" way] after she was offered a salary of SR650 per month [$174.26 -- $2,091.15 per year; $40.21 per week!!! and if she is lucky she only worked forty hours - $1.00 an hour]. Of course she has been paid nothing. Not one cent for the work she has done for two months. And, instead, has undergone "physical torture at the hands of her sponsor and his family" from her "very first day of her job." The woman was "afraid to even sleep in fear of someone coming and beating" her. I just cannot imagine... She still has the bruises to show for it - along with fractured bones. Not only was she physically abused - beaten - by all of the members of the household - but she was not allowed to call home and she was "given hardly anything to eat." When she "accidentally spilled some milk" she was hit by two men in the household - her sponsor and another man. Well, "hit" doesn't quite describe what she describes: "I fell down and when they continued to beat me, I begged them on my knees not to hit me further. Then they beat me on my back and the pain was so sever that I felt that I could not endure such treatment any longer." That was when she decided that she had had enough and she made plans to escape, jumping "through an opening in the wall from the second floor."

Here's the thing. The article in today's paper identifies the woman, by nationality, name and age. Worse, there is a picture of her laying in her hospital bed. I don't have a problem with the picture - hopefully it will cause authorities to look long and hard at the situation. What I do have a problem with, however, is the fact that the sponsor and his wife are not named. How come we cannot find out who did this to this woman? Why is everyone so afraid of identifying perpetrators of such horrors? A little shame on those who have committed such heinous abuses would go a long way in rectifying the situation.
But, no. We can't have that, now, can we?!! We will likely not even learn if her sponsor and his wife or any of the other family members in the household will be punished for their actions. Will the housemaid even get the wages that are owed to her? I wouldn't bet on it.

By not naming and identifying those who commit such crimes, the problem will never be solved. The perpetrators need to be identified and they need to be put at the top of someone's list somewhere that does not allow them to ever have household help, again. [Of course, there are so many ways around the system, that that would be impossible to control, and we all know that. But do not make it easy for them.] Then throw them in jail. All of them. Fine them. Force the family to pay the maid her due, give her compensation for her pain and suffering, and make them pay for the abused workers way home.

The silence is deafening. And it speaks volumes...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Errands: Part of An Actual Plan

Do not know how I will handle my life once we return to the States. I have been so "privileged" here that it is going to come as a shock at some point when I realize I no longer have those "privileges" that I am so blessed with now. It will, no doubt, hit me and hard. BAM!

This morning doing errands... first to the bank to cash a check. Get there when the bank opens and there are no lines, no waiting. In and out. In just a couple of minutes. A good thing and no reason to complain about going to the bank today.

Then to the Commissary. Have quite a list of things I need. Juice, coffee, bread, meat... But while I am there want to order a delivery for water and soda. How cool is that that you can order cases of water and cases of soda and have them delivered to your door?! It is a good thing. So, I have my cart full of the stuff from my list - but not the water and soda. I am also at the Commissary early so it is virtually empty of shoppers - just a few other women and only a couple of children. Mr. Check-out does the scanning of all of my groceries and Mr. Bag Man bags them - properly. Important to note that - properly, meaning that cleaning products are not in the same bag as the bread or the tomatoes. I get the total and pay it.

I motion for one of the two Cart Guy's to go ahead and take my cart and hand him my keys. He will take my buggy full of groceries directly to my truck, unlock the truck, unload the buggy of its contents and put it into the back of the truck, lock the truck and deliver my keys to me in a matter of minutes. Just name ONE grocery store in the States where you can get that kind of service! As Cart Guy takes off to do his thing with my full cart, I ordered a half dozen cases of Diet 7-UP and a half dozen cases of Diet Coke and three cases of water to be delivered. They will be here this evening and the delivery guys will stack them neatly in our garage for me. In the meantime, I pay for that.

I leave the Commissary and as I am walking to the parking lot, Cart Guy is headed my direction with the empty cart. I get my keys from Cart Guy and in exchange give him a "little something" [these guys depend on us for a little extra money - I hope everyone tips them!]. I get home and open the back of the truck and get ready to unload it, but I only carry in one armful of bags. Inom is still here, and as soon as I enter with an armful of bags, he comes running to ask, "Is there more Ma'am?" Oh yeah there is. And off he goes to unload the truck and get the rest of the groceries.

Did I plan my trip - my errands - this morning this way? Oh, you bet I did. It is hot. It is sunny. It is still dusty out. And, I've got all this great help to do the lion's share of work for me here in The Sandbox. Just one of the things I am grateful for, every single day that we are here!

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's A Power and Control Thing

There is no excuse for it, either. Amazing - just amazing - what the men who come here from other third world countries - must do to work.

Inom comes to clean for us four or five mornings every single week. We are not his sponsor. Someone else is, but in return for sponsoring him, Inom pays an outrageous sum to his sponsor every single month which allows him the privilege of working for us and for several other families, here on our compound. If it is not illegal - it should be illegal - but it is all just a game and that game involves cash. Absolutely no different than the "pay to play" system which is set up in the States - you know - the government system.

This morning, Inom called me and said he cannot get in the gate because he is no longer on "the list." The list, apparently, is printed out and given weekly as to who is allowed to enter the gates to our compound and who isn't. Which - in and of itself makes no sense. The list, if it is done weekly, should have started with Saturday as that is the day our week, here in The Sandbox, starts. Inom was here Saturday, and he was here yesterday. But today, Monday, he is not allowed to come in.

I went to Security to see how I could get him on the list to make sure that for the next two weeks, until his sponsor who is on vacation and out of the Kingdom returns, that Inom will be able to enter. Inom needs a letter from his sponsor saying that his sponsor has no objection to Inom working for me. Therein lies the problem. How the heck is he supposed to get a signed letter from someone who is not in the Kingdom?

It was interesting to see some twenty men standing and waiting outside the office - all in the very same predicament that Inom is in - this morning. I feel sorry for them. Very sorry for them. They are here, like I said, from other countries, all toiling and working to support their families from wherever it is they are from - and they are forced, constantly, to jump through almost impossible hoops. The ante gets upped, regularly. The rules get changed, monthly.

First I went to Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff at the office who was of no help whatsoever. He said, "You must get paper." What paper? Care to be a little more specific? I have a dry-cleaning receipt, will that suffice? Truly I was an inconvenience to his entire morning - the five minutes I was there - while he was trying to drink his coffee. "Call this number 555-5555. Speak to Mr. Supervisor." He dials the number for me from his phone and motions for me to pick up a phone on the other side of the glass. [Picture something from a prison visitor's office - straight out of a movie.]
Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff dialed a fax number. Brilliant. Just brilliant - that one there - working Security.

For the most part, Security has been incredibly helpful and extremely professional for all of the issues we have encountered. I cannot complain and have, until this morning, had nothing but the highest regard for our Security force. When The Kids have gone ballistic barking in the middle of the night, Security has come right away when I call. When the little t!ts through rocks in the pool, Security came three times that night and has since kept a close eye on our house because of the issues with the teenagers who all mill about with no place to go. When I've had other issues, Security has been top-notch right there, pronto, to help in any way they can. I am not complaining about Security. That there is a bad apple in the bunch is hardly a reflection on the entire force.

Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff is completely and totally put out when I put the phone up to the little hole in the window so he can hear that he has dialed a fax number. He has to redial. Gimme a break, Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff, how difficult was that?!! Thing is, is that I started out with a completely different attitude when I headed out to take care of this situation first thing this morning. I was upbeat, happy, it is a nice day out, the sun is shining and the birds are singing. How quickly that all changed, all because of Mr. Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff. That I was allowing him to put a damper on my entire morning - thus far - and a black cloud over the sunshine - stop it! Just stop it, right now...

I speak to someone at the end of the telephone line and he tells me I have to send an e-mail to so and so. No. I want to go see so and so right now. Where do I go and who do I see? I am told to go to a certain building, to a certain room number and to see Mr. Supervisor. Fine. I get in the truck and head straight there.

Once I arrive, Mr. Supervisor's secretary greets us - Inom is with me. Wasn't really a greeting to be sure. Mr. Secretary is staring at his computer eating an apple. He glances up. Once again I have totally disturbed someone's morning and I am an inconvenience that he does not want to have to deal with. Beside the fact that he was dressed totally inappropriately for a professional office - unless Monday is dress down day - he was rude. And let me say that he was exceptionally rude to Inom. There is clearly a caste-type system in place here, and I am fairly certain that Inom had not have been with me that Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary would not have given Inom the time of day. It was pretty clear from Mr. Secretary's Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary's demeanor that he does NOT deal with such peons. Jerk. And he was not a whole lot less rude to me. I tell Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary what the problem is and ask how we can fix it. He says, "fill out this form, get this letter, make a copy of Form-UVW1234567ABC and get Form-XYZ56789DEF stamped here and blah, blah, blah." You're kidding, right? I can't do that. Inom's sponsor is out of the Kingdom for two weeks. [Actually he's been out for the last week and a half and Inom has not had a problem until today. Makes all the sense in the world.] I tell Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary that I need to see Mr. Supervisor and he says, "he is in a meeting." Well, when will he be available, then? "I don' no. Ten or fifteen minutes, ma'be." Fine. I'll wait.

Inom and I sit down and wait outside Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary's office for Mr. Supervisor. Mr. Supervisor, within about three or four minutes, comes out of his office into Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary's office - I can hear every word that is being said - but since most of the conversation [most - not all] was in Arabic, have no clue as to everything that is being said. Mr. Rude and Sloppily Dressed Secretary points at me, and Mr. Supervisor comes out and says, "How can I help you? Please come with me. Have a seat."

At least Mr. Supervisor was pleasant and not anywhere near as rude as his secretary or Mr.
Scraggly Beard I Am Far To Important to Deal With Riff-Raff. I explain my problem. Mr. Supervisor says, "We have new instructions from management. We must have these forms." Great. Total complete waste of time this is. In other words, you can't help me. So the point of my waiting to see you, again, was?!? "You see, we have procedures. We cannot change these procedures." Sure. I see you have these procedures that seem to change on a whim, and only apply to certain groups of people. The caste-system in full swing. "If we do not comply with the procedures then we can get sued." Really? "What if there is a problem and something happens? Who will be responsible?" I couldn't help myself and countered his argument with my own. "The workers who come onto this compound are not the problem. The problems are the ones that come on in hoards to visit "local" residents." Mr. Supervisor responds, "Yes. We know that. But there is nothing we can do." Sure there is. Make the visitors of the "locals" jump through the same dayum impossible hoops that the "visitors" to us ex-pats must jump through, and by ex-pats I mean us - Americans and other "western" nationalities - who are here, that want to have men come to do our housework, clean our pools, take care of our yards and gardens. We cannot get maids and drivers and other full-time domestic workers. We are allowed to have houseboys - and in some instances are allowed to sponsor them and they become "camp workers" which means they can stay on our compound in their own camp. [Getting and sponsoring your own help is a system that takes a great deal of time - and patience - and is only sometimes approved. But it can be done.]

Of course the whole situation is completely and totally unnecessary. It is a power and control thing. It is not the workers who come to this country from other third world countries who cause the problems here and everyone knows it. Much better to have this high and mighty attitude about the "riff raff" from those countries than from your own.
In the meantime, Inom has been sent off to collect some other papers, Form-BS101112131415 and Form FU-1617181920-99. Whether or not he will be allowed to come in and work tomorrow - or again, until his sponsor returns - remains to be seen. And, of all weeks. I really, really need his help this week!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sandbox is a Busy Place

Weekend is over. Back to real life. Articles on Thursday and Friday just don't seem to pack the same proverbial punch that articles during the week do.

Arab News has a first, today. "Saudi arrested for posing as official." That is the headline to the article. When have we ever seen that before? I cannot recall. No matter. We're on to the little game. Same one the main stream media in the States uses. In the States it is called "guess the political party affiliation," here it is called "guess the nationality." Same same. Must be some competition between the two papers, right now. Economy and all... Saudi Gazette, which has yet to publish a headline like that, has been much more forthcoming of late by reporting the nationality of the person or persons in their articles, regardless of whether it is an ex-pat or not.

The search for Fatima, the 18-year-old who [probably?] drowned on July 9th when she stepped into deep water, presumably wearing her full "out in public" black covering, continues. There is speculation that "she could have slipped on sewage channels and been caught in the powerful output from pipes beneath the water's surface." I shudder at the thought of this scenario. [Now that I know that sewage is being pumped into the ocean... That's it. I am done eating fish.] According to officials, "Fatima was seen in the sea at a point close to where two sewage pipes, one 100 inches in diameter, the other of 70 inches, are located." Big pipes! "The sewage outlets had also made the search operation increasingly difficult, and authorities requested that pumping cease..." Yeah. I bet. Perhaps now would be a good time for someone to think about building a sewage treatment plant and finding a different way to eliminate such by-products. Just a thought. Although the young woman's body has not been recovered - there are reports that "have come out about some more 'magical' underwater discoveries." A bunch of small bottles have been located - twenty-two of them - containing miscellaneous items; they "are magical spells." Saudi Gazette, for whatever reason, felt the need to provide a caveat, "A little explanation: It is common (and firmly discouraged by the country's religious police) for some locals to cast spells on people." One man, a local who we learn is "a senior telecommunications industry executive," who believes in the power of this kind of thing has been tracked down and is now being treated [how, exactly?] for "black m@gic." He was identified by the piece of paper in the "vessel" [a bottle] which was "a bank receipt which included the number and the name of that man." He "started to suffer from a massive headache and dizziness 20 days ago. Exactly the date of the 'spell.'" Couldn't possibly be sinus problems, could it? I was feeling much the same way yesterday and I'm blaming it on the dust in the air.

Very little information about a maid who has been charged with stealing. Heck. Even her nationality has been left out of the article. What does that mean? Supposedly the maid told the man she was working for that his "house has been burgled while he was away." Since there were no signs of forced entry, "the maid was interrogated until she confessed to the crime." Wonder how such an interrogation is conducted. Interesting, though, that there is always a confession.

Fools. All of the women and girls here who allow their photos to fall into the hands of unscrupulous men who then threaten to post their pictures on the internet and use "blackmail" as a form of getting their own way. And, as for the men. You know you are going to get caught. You are just as much fools. What authorities should do is use shame to end this ridiculousness. That would put a quick stop to it, I bet. Publish the name and picture of these men, which would actually serve a dual purpose. The first shaming the foolish man who thought he could get away with the practice, and the second being a warning to all of the other women out there to stay far and clear away from that man. Yet, another foolish man has been arrested. A husband and father of four children, threatened to post a woman's photos on the internet "if she did not accede to his wishes." The man could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble if he would have just gone abroad for vacation. Or something.

Calling BS on this. There is more to the story than what is reported, if you ask me. Members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice stopped a Pakistani man [important that we know his nationality] "to lecture him about prayers." Apparently they did more than just lecture him because they "searched the man's phone" and "they found pictures of a woman." In another case where questioning immediately leads to an admission, the man "allegedly confessed to his crime." Supposedly he "smuggled a Saudi woman from Jeddah to Riyadh, forcing her to live with him for five years until his capture." That is the part of the story I'm calling BS on. Five years? I don't think so. This woman wanted to be with that man. And now, she's trying to cover her own butt and blame the poor guy. Anyone wanna bet that my version is closer to the truth? Not that we will ever know...

I was under the impression that there were only five crimes that are punishable by execution beheading: murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking. There are six: practicing black m@gic and s0rcery. Well, kind of sort of. The report is here. Details are sketchy insofar as whether or not the man's "execution verdict" is based on "apostasy and not s0rcery."

Doesn't look as though cinemas and movies will be coming to The Sandbox any time soon, after all. The Jeddah Film Festival "was cancelled at the eleventh hour, literally." there have been rumors of movie theaters and cinemas being allowed going around for the past year or so. It is not gonna happen. Just isn't. I don't see it. Same thing for women driving... I digress. The film festival, which was scheduled to open a couple of days ago has been canceled. Attendees had already begun arriving when the official cancellation notice was received on Friday night at 11P. The explanation? "The festival 'lacked preparations.'" Apparently the festival's organizers made a big faux pas this year by not calling the "Jeddah Film Festival" the "Visual Festival Exhibition," which is has been called since it first started in 2006. According to Fahd Al-Osta, a Saudi movie director and critic, "The decision (to cancel the festival) came as a surprise to those who are familiar with Saudi society, which has already accepted the concept of cinema." Oh really? It has been accepted, has it. I beg to differ. "The film festival would have encouraged investors to invest in opening cinema theaters in the future..." and the decision to cancel the festival "would now push their efforts 10 steps backward." Hmm. Imagine that. Going backward...

Speaking of going backward. Interesting article, here. Just read it. It is almost too much to digest. Has to do with marriage and some of the views that are shared... Like the fact that it is okay to marry your cousin even though he is infected with HIV. Stuff like that. Enough to just make your head spin, though!

And, finally, speaking of marriage... "The National Society of Human Rights (NSHR) is currently investigating ten marriages involving minors..." [Emphasis, mine.] Ten marriages. When is that minimum age going to be set? Just keep talking about it. Nothing wrong with a twelve-year-old girl child marrying a man who is 37. Nope. Nothing at all.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sinus Headache, Etc.

Has nothing to do with the constant dust storms lately. Yeah. No way! But I can really, really sympathize with The Boy if this is what it feels like to have constant sinus problems brought on by dust allergies. I don't have dust allergies, but The Boy does. Poor little guy. Just feel like crap today. Eyes are runny. Nose is actually swollen! Big puffy eyes. Headache. Oh my gosh. Had no idea it could feel so miserable. Got up this morning. Had coffee, made breakfast for everyone. Did the morning routine. Head was just throbbing so I went back to bed. Just feels twice as big as it is - and very "dizzying." The throbbing is right behind my eyes. And, to think. The Boy feels like this all the time with the dust...

Nasty - this crap that has been blowing through the air lately. Cannot be good for us to be breathing.

It has been some very odd weather this summer. Temperatures not nearly as hot as usual. Lots of wind - and with the wind - dust. So much for working outside the past week or so. The newspaper reports that the dust storms were supposed to have subsided by today. Still pretty dayum windy out, though. [And you should see what happens to the pool after a dust storm. Just gross.] Staying inside as much as possible until the dust completely settles.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ghutra Shopping - Same Same

Should have taken the camera. What was I thinking?! Who knew it was going to be such an experience.

We're having a cook-out, pool party. I decided that I wanted the table-cloths and napkins made out of "ghutra" material. Ghutra's are the red and white checkered head-coverings men wear:

How clever I am. I'll just go downtown and buy a bolt of ghutra fabric and whip 'em out on my serger. Wrong. I call a dear friend and say, "Where am I going to go to get a bolt of ghutra fabric?" and she said, "You can't buy a bolt of ghutra fabric. You have to buy individual ghutra's." Okay. Well, then where do I go for those? We decided a couple of days ago that we'd go downtown this morning to get ghutra's. She has make neckerchiefs for the Boy Scout troop here, out of them and she knew just where to take me. Great. What a good friend. Willing to give up her morning to go downtown to shop for ghutra's.

Who knew there are a gazillion different kinds. Some "cheap" [both
in price and in workmanship] and many not "cheap." Like really not "cheap!" Well, since I'm doing this as a one-time party theme, there is no way I'm going to buy any ghutra but the "cheap" kind. The least expensive one was SR20 [$5.36]. It is the biggest size they have, 60 centimeters by 60 centimeters. Great. "I'll take twenty of them, please." And, that is where it became really, really tricky.

Big language barrier at the little shop we went to. Not the man's fault working there - he spoke a heck of a lot more English than either friend or I do Arabic. The Saudi man sent his worker - a young "imported" worker - to go collect my ghutras. There were only six of them - the ghutras that I wanted - in the shop. We were told, "You wait. Five minutes." No problem. During our five minutes [which was no less than fifteen] the shopkeeper tried to sell friend and me a variety of other things we did not need [men's shorts - underwear - "Calvin Kleim." Yes. "Kleim." As in knock-off "Calvin Klein's"]. We both politely declined the man's efforts to sell us socks and shorts and shirts. After our wait, the imported worker came running in with an armful of the ghutras I wanted - along with a bunch that I didn't want. The problem was that they were not all the same. Two completely different manufacturers [completely different shades of red] and variety of different sizes.

I cannot even begin to explain how long it took us to explain that I wanted twenty pieces all identical - the same, ALL the same. "Ohhh. Yes. Same same." Right. "Same same." Imported worker, somewhere along the way, collected a couple of other imported workers, and they got their new instructions - the three of them - and they scurry off again, while we are instructed "You wait. Five minutes." Mr. Shopkeeper offers us stools to sit on and we had the exact same conversation that we had had while we were waiting the first time for "five minutes." No we do not need socks or shorts, today, thank you. Imported workers return and have the eleven more ghutras I need to make twenty items of the same thing. But wait! They are not the same size. I can tell by feeling the packaging, then realize they have a size written on them. No. These are 48 and 50 and 55, but not 60. I need twenty size 60.

There was a great deal more to the conversation than that, although that was the gist of the conversation. "Same same," apparently does not mean same same insofar as size is concerned. Friend with me was giving it her best effort to help me to explain that we had to have the same sizes. We are taking them out of the packages to show that some are much smaller than the size 60 I need so that I can sew two of the ghutra's together to make the table cloths. I need six table cloths. I need 40-something napkins so my plan is to cut each ghutra and make six napkins out of each [when I can actually make nine from each - but that was my mistake - I could have gotten by with only 17 of the ghutras]. It was just a little more than amusing when Mr. Shopkeeper held up one of the smaller ghutra's to the large size I want, and folded the large size down to make it the size of the small ghutra and said, "See? Same same." No! It is NOT same same. I must have same same. As if we wouldn't have noticed that he was folding the big one at one end to make it smaller. Whatever.

As my friend and I are taking the smaller ghutra's out of the packaging to show that they were not "same same" we are attracting the attention of other imported workers. A couple more are now in this little shop with us - there are probably eight of us now - all together - in a teeny, tiny shop that has no air conditioning. Finally the shopkeeper got it and said, "You need twenty pieces. All same same." Yes! "All men same the size?" Dear friend with me started to explain that we needed to be able to cut them into equal sizes - and I cut her off and said, "Yes. All men are the same size." [Like I have several husbands or something!] Again, and for the third or perhaps fourth time, all of the imported workers go scurrying off. I turn to my friend and say, "There has got to be another shop, right?" Here is what she says to me: "That is where they are going to get you the ones you need. Either you can let them go to the different shops and collect them, or we can go and do it on our own." I had no idea. I guess I thought they were going to a warehouse or storage area or something. Sure enough, come to find out they went to some fifty of the little shops to collect all the ghutras that I need so that I can make the table cloths and napkins.

So, what I thought would be a quick in and out at a ghutra underwear sock store was an hour. No biggie. That is, after all, what I went downtown to buy and in the end, I have twenty ghutras that are size 60. They are all "same same." The imported workers were all very nice and helpful. The local man, the shopkeeper, did what he does - tried to sell us more things than we needed, but was very nice about it. [The whole while we were there, every few minutes he would pull something off of his shelf and say, "You need socks?" "You need shirt [men's undershirts]?" "You need shorts [men's underwear]?" Have to give him credit for trying. And "same same" is probably something that can be interpreted differently [!??] in different parts of the world, right? As we were leaving he said, "Come back for when you need more things." We will. Shukran jazeelan! [Arabic for "Thank you very much!"]

Tonight, I have a blog post to tell about ghutras - and it is something I never ever thought I'd have the opportunity to be blogging on. And the Saudi shopkeeper can go home to his wife, and in Arabic, tell her that two Western women were at his shop for an hour [or longer!] this morning looking for twenty "same same" ghutras for "all men same the size." The imported workers, who will have their only day off of the week, tomorrow, can sit around wtih their friends and explain that they had to run to every ghutra shop in the entire souk area looking for twenty "same same" ghutras for two blonde-haired women who were getting quite frustrated at not having "same same." And why would two blonde-haired Western women need twenty ghutras, anyway?!!

One Pedophile Arrested, Jailed and Lashed

But not the other. The difference? In one of the cases the man involved was a husband. Apparently if you are 37 years old and marry a child - a 12-year-old girl - it is not considered rape and there is no punishment. Oh, sure it was punishment, alright, insofar as the child - the little 12-year-old girl - is concerned, who did nothing deserving of such a punishment other than to have the misfortune of being born a girl to a man [her own father] who has no scruples. Yes the father of this child is to blame. For marrying her off at such a young age without her consent. [Emphasis, mine.]

Whereas, if you are a man and and you rape a 16-year-old boy [who, incidentally, is considered a minor - but a 12-year-old girl is not?], then you will be sentenced to ten years in prison and 2,000 lashes. The lashes will be "carried out in public places, including shopping areas where mobile telephones are available for sale at peak hours." Not quite sure why that is specifically mentioned, but it must be that they want for the general public to be using their mobile phones to either photograph or film the punishment. Perhaps to serve as a lesson to others so that the same crime is not repeated by someone else. [Unless of course you are a man who is marrying a little girl which is perfectly acceptable.]

A Saudi man was beheaded yesterday; he murdered another man. Saudi Gazette noted the nationality for this one particular report - and actually identified him by name. There are five crimes punishable by execution: rape [not always, though - see above], murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking. I have no idea how many executions have taken place so far this year. Lost count a while ago. Still not up to the 102 or 108 that took place in 2008.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I would never wish it upon anyone...

...and it is too bad that a young woman is dead, presumably drowned in the sea. But perhaps some of the blame for this young woman's death can be put directly on the shoulders of those who force women in this country to wear a full body covering before they are allowed to leave their homes and venture out in public. It is highly doubtful that the 18-year-old, Fatima, was not wearing her abeya and head scarf - and perhaps even the full face veil. Articles of clothing which certainly are not conducive to the sport of swimming. Who knows if she even knew how to swim?

I have seen girls in our community pools wearing what looks to be like sweatsuits - fully clothed, in the water. Next time you pull a sweatshirt out of the washer think about how heavy it is when it is wet - and not soaking wet since the washer goes through a spin cycle before you put the clean clothes in the dryer. Imagine wearing a sweatshirt to swim in - and imagine wearing the sweat pants, too. What it is is downright dangerous - to try to swim in such heavy clothing.

It would not be too far fetched to think that the young woman who drowned last week was weighed down before she could even realize what was happening if she was covered in meters of black fabric. There are some very lightweight abeyas out there, but there are also some very heavy, double-knit polyester ones, as well. Put a head covering on, along with the abeya - and a veil - and just try swimming. It would be close to impossible.

Fatima's family is rightfully upset. Mourning their loss... Did the young woman not know that there was no swimming allowed in the area they were at? It doesn't matter. Truly an unfortunate accident that might have been prevented if she hadn't fallen in the water wearing a mass of black material.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Friend Joins Husband in Beating Wife

Not much to the story - but enough. A husband and a wife were arguing and the husband was hitting his wife - this took place in public, in front of witnesses. Witnesses which "were further horrified to see a friend of the man join in the violence against the woman." No details about whether or not the husband and his friend were arrested for assault and battery. Probably not. The man was just exercising his husbandly duties and doing what he is lawfully allowed to do.

An Asian woman [very important to know the nationality!] who supposedly had "magic powers" has been arrested, along with her son. The woman's home was raided and the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice "found books on magic teachings, talismans and lists of names." A young female client [no mention of her nationality - guess?!] was "found at the premises and released... after being given 'guidance.'"

Interesting, though, how an Asian woman is arrested for something that others are allowed to charge big bucks for. All depends on who you are... A family with their own personal pyromaniac has suffered from 28 fires in one year, all of which "mysteriously occur after eight o'clock in the evening." A member of the family said, "We are continually having to buy new furniture." [How about installing a surveillance system to see which family member is starting the fires? It would be less expensive than new furniture every other week!] Nah. They are calling in a sheikhs and preachers to exorcise the "harmful spirits." For SR15,000 [$4,021.44] one sheikh has said "he could rid the family of their problem." [How much was the Asian woman, above, charging?] According to the article, even the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice's [which is also known as the Hai'a] "attempts to break the spell have proven unsuccessful." Like I already said... Two words: surveillance system. Problem solved.

Another family is having problems with the same imaginary phenomenon [IP] and claims that the IP is "attempting to evict them from their home by stealing their telephones and throwing stones at the children." Umm hmm. Sounds completely believable and logical, doesn't it? The IP is what is known, here, as "jinn," and the story was first reported a week or so ago with its very own snark, "'We have to look into this case and verify its truthfulness despite teh difficulty of its consideration,' said Sheikh Amr Al-Salmi, the head of the local court. If he thinks it's going to be difficult to verify these charges, just wait until the judge orders the genie to pay compensation." [Emphasis on the snark, mine. And thanks to Joseph for the link!]

For a country that allows no pork products, I'd say it is being hit pretty hard with Wilbur flu! 216 cases have been confirmed. [By all means, don't let the fact that you cannot catch this flu from pork stop you from confiscating bacon that people try to bring through customs...]
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