Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Birthright

People ask me how I can put up with a place as restrictive as Saudi Arabia, where not only alcohol but harmless pleasures such as dancing and music are illegal.

In point of fact, I was born for it: I grew up in small town southern America.

Alcohol was illegal -- a "dry county" as they say. We needed to drive to the county line to get alcohol -- there were two liquor stores there. There were a couple of bars there, also, and if you've seen the movie ROADHOUSE you get the general idea.

Dancing was not illegal, exactly, but it was kind of like the small town in FOOTLOOSE, also, in that there were a lot of conservative religious Baptists and Methodists who frowned upon it (and everything else.) We frequently got lectures in our schools about how there were Satanic messages hidden backwards in rock music.

Women didn't have to go covered or anything, but shorts and skirts above the knee were not permitted in my high school. (Except for the cheerleaders, of course. I guess their short skirts represented clean, wholesome athleticism and not drunken teenage sluttery in the back of cars.(

As large gatherings of teenagers at the fast food places were also discouraged (or actively forbidden) we used to congregate at various desolate locations -- cemeteries, the field next to the city water tower, abandoned isolated farmhouses, etc.

(Some of my friends and I used to particularly enjoy an abandoned slaughterhouse on the edge of town; this never experienced any more mainstream popularity with Average Joe Redneck.)

Things have changed a bit now, of course -- there are a few bars in town with private liquor licenses, and even a nightclub.

But the after-church crowds at the all-you-can-eat buffets look pretty similar. . .

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Short Blog Entry

First holiday of the year starts tomorrow -- time to make a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, if you're of the faith.

Students have been rowdy all week -- keeping quiet and doing their work only after much monitoring, and then they've started abusing the act of going to the toilet. One guy was gone nearly 25 minutes. (Of course I just went ahead and marked him absent, and they actually care about stuff like that at this particular university.)

I fully expected them all to start coughing simultaneously today, or perhaps all come in wearing vampire teeth.

Off to America tomorrow. In three months I have worked about seven weeks, and saved about as much as I saved in ten months in Korea, and a bit more than I saved in the last two years in Russia. (Yes, I actually managed to save some money in Russia, especially year before last when the ruble was strong.)

Now, why was I slaving away in those shitty private language schools again? Pussy, was it? How quaint.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Compound Interest

When you tell people you live in Saudi Arabia, the enlightened travelers usually ask about the compound you live in.

Well, me, I don't live in a compound. I live on a university campus. The majority of foreigners who live in Saudi Arabia do, however, and I visited a couple the weekend before Halloween to go to some parties.

The first was at a British compound -- after going through a considerable amount of security, we ended up at a small place which indeed had been fixed up much like a small bar,with a DJ and darts and of course an actual bar -- selling locally brewed bootleg hooch -- you had a choice of a whiskey-like brew or a vodka-like grain alcohol brew -- for 10 riyals.

There were some older British folks there, but not many others -- they said that we'd missed the Halloween party, which had been the night before, and they said that around 60 women had been in there.

So of course we took off and went to another compound -- this was an American compound, which naturally was full of South Africans, most of whom were employed at local hospitals. They had a bar at this one too, but the party was in a big cafeteria-like space.

There were a lot of women there, but I felt out of place and uncomfortable -- probably because I wasn't drunk enough. I felt very white, also. And then all the South Africans started doing this, like, tribal dance or something. (Somebody suggested that it was just a South African version of The Macarena.) I stood around uncomfortably with my arms crossed and my hands in my pockets.

In order to satisfy the prurient interests of many of my readers, I will end this otherwise not particualrly eventful story with saying that some of the South African women there had steatopygous buttocks.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Opposites Attract

[10/16/2009 1:06:33 PM] English Teacher X: it's 36 degrees

[10/16/2009 1:06:52 PM] Uncle Cool: you should have got used to it by now

[10/16/2009 1:07:11 PM] English Teacher X: ah, yeah, 35 isn't too bad
[10/16/2009 1:07:15 PM] English Teacher X: compared to 42, anyway
[10/16/2009 1:07:33 PM] English Teacher X: it's kept so frigid inside all the buildings that one doesn't easily adapt

[10/16/2009 1:08:09 PM] Uncle Cool: Like the opposite of Russian winter eh?/-- you toast inside and freeze outside

[10/16/2009 1:08:33 PM] English Teacher X: yeah, it's the opposite of Russia on many levels.
[10/16/2009 1:08:38 PM] English Teacher X: no women and no alcohol, of course
[10/16/2009 1:08:42 PM] English Teacher X: hot and sunny all the time
[10/16/2009 1:08:59 PM] English Teacher X: people are outwardly very friendly but inwardly seething with hatred and resentment.

[10/16/2009 1:09:07 PM] Uncle Cool: NO women students either ??

[10/16/2009 1:09:09 PM] English Teacher X: (whereas Russians are outwardly seething)
[10/16/2009 1:09:21 PM] English Teacher X: there aren't any co-ed schools here[10/16/2009 1:09:33 PM] English Teacher X: there are in Oman and some other countries, but not here.

[10/16/2009 1:09:59 PM] Uncle Cool: Moslem hospitality -- Dont turn your back on your genial host

[10/16/2009 1:10:24 PM] English Teacher X: and unlike Russia there are a plethora of fine, cheap ethnic food restaurants
[10/16/2009 1:10:40 PM] English Teacher X: in Saudi I've yet to see a single sushi place, and only two Pizza places.

[10/16/2009 1:11:08 PM] Uncle Cool: at least you can have one earthly pleasure