I had quite a crazy time mailing out my latest orders…but I shall not get into it right now. In the meantime, I did want to share something which happened last evening, which obviously, ticked me off.
After I mailed everything out I had a good hour and a half to wait until the compound shuttle could pick me up and since taking a taxi by my wee self back to the compound was pretty much out of the question for sanity, safety and monetary reasons I decided to kill the time by getting a snack & coffee (Thai Pad -one perk to life in KSA is GOOD Thai food, though the restaurants tend to be staffed by creepy dudes), pray my maghreb and Isha’a salaats and walk around a bit (I needed some new hejab pins).
After the first two I walked down to the Indian/Pakistani suq area as I was told I had a good chance of finding hejab pins there (Saudi women don’t use pins-usually) and although I did’nt spend to much time there, I did find a 3 pack of nice, big straight pins with big colored balls on the end (like quilting pins but longer) and oogled all the fabrics but I scurried my little chador wearing butt outta there because the atmosphere was decidedly hostile towards women—like I walked into the area and literally every man came out, stared me down and called me into their shops to check out what they had. Strange, really strange.
anyway, I then crossed the street to go and poke around this huge 5 riyal shop which was not too far from the Indian suq area. I figured, hey, I can kill time in there, easily…
As I’m walking to the Five Riyal shop I notice this very tall, very Afghan (I reckon Pashtoon) looking man walking towards me, He had on the poofy sort of woolen hat they wear (Pakol?) a thick shawl draped over one shoulder and a Shalvar Kameese sort of an outfit. He was very fair and had brown/reddish hair and a big beard. Anyway he gave me such a crazy, creepy look…like cold steely eyes boring onto your soul sort of a look. Quite unnerving. Not once did he look down or appear to have any hayah by averting his eyes from me. It seemed to take forever for us to finally pass each other. As I came closer to him,I began to hear him saying something to me in Dari which I couldnt really understand (his accent was very strange and Dari while almost like Farsi does have it’s differences, and besides, anytime I hear an Afghan speakDari I’m usually left confused anyway) and then suddenly he said, right as we passed each other (which by the way, he passed way too close! Like invading personal space-close) ASTAAAA-GHHHHHHH-FFFFFFIRRRRR-AAAAAAALLLLLAAAAAAAH. Really LOUD, AND REALLY ENUNCIATING every single syllable (like when you do something wrong and a know-it-all Muslim woman at an American masjid scolds you by saying astaghfirallah sister! astaghfirallah!) ! That enunciated outburst surprised me so I sort of jumped and gave him a “what the hell!!” sort of look.
It’s obvious that he was not saying astaghfirallah because he was staring me down, now lowering his eyes and not having any haya (modesty) but because I, person of the female gender that I am, was walking down the street, obviously to him, I’m such an abomination to God because there I was, a woman out by herself, all covered up, behaving modestly and walking down the street. How dare I do such a thing! God forgive me!
Being here has become an on-going educational experience for me…an education in how much women are despised and treated in much of the world – and really, truely, it’s not Saudi men which are the main problem-though they do have issues which Saudi society does need to address, it’s some of these uneducated male workers who come here from Asia which cause much of these problems. They bring their backwards, unedu-ma-cated, feudalistic viewpoints of women with them to the Gulf and then treat random women whom they don’t even know like they treat their wives and daughters back home ! Really I’m not a huge feminist, at least NOT in the western sense at least but since coming here I think I want to become one!
And at some point in time I must post about the problems which all the shops closing for salaat times causes…especially if your a woman! Because when everything closes the streets get flooded with men who take up every available place to sit outside of the shops, which leaves women having to stand around, being oogles like pieces of meat. this is why the women waiting outside for the shops to reopen tend to huddle up-Saudi, Filipino, Indian, Western…doesnt matter. There is safety in numbers!