Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Christmas Edition

I will be offline for the next 3 weeks.

Tonight I leave to spend Christmas with my family in Ireland.

The last picture is the pub where I plan to spend most of my time.

Happy Holidays Everyone - talk to you in 2011 !!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sand Storms

There was a sandstorm today. Sandstorms are strong dry wind blowing over the desert that raises and carries along clouds of sand or dust often so dense as to obscure the sun and reduce visibility almost to zero; also known as a duststorm. I was sitting on the couch (watching Y&R) and noticed it getting darker outside. I ran around the house closing all the windows.

The sandstorm in the pictures below occurred on 10 March 2009, the worst Saudi has had. The photos were taken from the Fasiliyah Towers in downtown Riyadh, I can see this building from my compound. Not surprisingly the airports were closed and flights cancelled.

It is not easy to envision how an entire city could be obscured from view and visibility at zero because of sand. There really is no way to protect yourself from the onslaught of sand if caught out and about. There is no warning. Luckily I have never been caught outside in a bad one - so far...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ahh Life In Saudi - The Muttawa

I have been living in Saudi for a year and a half and this is the first time this has happened to me.

I was sitting in the family section of Starbucks with my daughter. This section is for women only or a family. I heard someone speaking loudly, not yelling, just a raised voice. They kept repeating something. I turned around and standing by the counter was a man saying something in Arabic and then "cover" pointing to his head. My face immediately turned bright red and my heart began to beat faster. This was my first negative direct encounter with a Saudi and I was really embarrassed. I hadn't done anything wrong, and yet I felt like I had. I looked around for my scarf which I had in my stroller somewhere and covered my head. After this I noticed that the whole place had gotten strangely silent.

The Muttawa (religious police) are the only ones who would be bold enough to walk into a womens area. They patrol the shopping malls looking for un-Islamic dress or behaviour. At one time they carried long sticks with which to enforce their orders; for instance women who had not covered their legs completely might get a rap on the ankle with this stick.

Non-muslim women might be approached by the Muttawa and asked to cover their hair, as with me. The advice from the embassies was that women should always carry a scarf. If requested, the scarf should be worn until the Muttawa was out of sight, at which point it could be removed.

I finished my coffee and muffin, cleaned up the little lady, removed my scarf and walked out. I didn't see them again in the mall. I have forgotten the scarf at home a few times but I will be sure to keep handy at all times now.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Snow Day

I have been hearing alot about snow everywhere. It has been quite awhile since I saw any so today is dedicated to Snow Days.

Things I don't miss about snow...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Visit To Turkey

Due to the high level of interaction between countries in the world today, diplomatic offices are needed in each country to aid in and allow such interactions to occur. Therefore embassies and consulates are generally found in capital cities worldwide.The embassy is responsible for representing the home country abroad and handling major diplomatic issues, such as preserving the rights of citizens abroad.

In Riyadh there is an area called the Diplomatic Quarter where all these embassies are located. The ground on which each embassy sits is considered that countries soil and therefore Saudi laws do not apply.

This weekend I went to a party at the Turkish Embassy. There were vendors selling an assortment of items (ie. rugs, clothing, jewelery). There was also a large buffet lunch, don't ask me what I ate but it was yummy! There was entertainment with musicians and children folk dancing. I didn't purchase much just some DVD's (bootlegs are huge in Saudi due to the strict censorship). I got the Season One of Glee which I cannot wait to watch. I first saw this show on the airplane and fell for it. Also got some Christmas DVD's for the kids, a really pretty scarf and some earrings.

All in all a good day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - First Love

I recently re-connected with my first love. We met when I was 14, he was 13. We haven't spoken in nearly 9 years. We did connect thru Facebook this past year and had the odd email. But we finally spoke on the phone.

This edition of Wordless Wednesday is dedicated to him.