Greetings from the land of the Arabs!
I am writing this post from the immensely sunny Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
What am I doing here? That’s one question I keep asking myself as well. But to cut a long story short, hubby has taken up a position in his company which requires us to settle in Riyadh. Promotion, good job content, better standard of living and most of all proximity to home were the factors we considered before moving here.
Currently we are on a 2-3 week acclimatization visit here – and the way things are moving we don’t expect to fully move anytime before June. So in the meanwhile, sonny and I will shuttle between US, Canada, Mumbai and Riyadh. Some jet-setters we’ve become :)
We’ve read so much about the life here, the cultures and the changes that we will have to make from our current lifestyle. And yet reality is much different than what we’ve heard.
For starters, every second person is from the Indian sub-continent (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri-lankans). We never fail to wish the Bangladeshis good luck for the team’s World Cup endeavors (and how my heart bleeds every time I say it) and how nonchalantly they shrug it off. Are we only crazed cricket fanatics here?
Mostly people are sympathetic to me. Husband job? Yes I mutter. You bored? Pretty much I mumble. Awww… this is life here. From the housekeeper to the waiters – everyone has the same line for me.
And the ubiquitous black and white look. Black abayas for the women and white flowing gown like overalls for the men. Its like living in a black and white movie. Color comes in the form of the western men – who pretty much wear their shirts and trousers (Women of all regions, religions, countries, of course, have to wear the abaya).
While adjusting to any new place takes its time – there are some things I didn’t account for. Like being clumsy – 3 days and I’m still not used to walking, sitting and eating in an abaya. Like not being able to dawdle around while sonny checks out the ants and leaves in the sidewalk. Or that people either look through you or look down. Or that nobody smiles and greets unknown women – unless they already know you. That there are 3 categories of people: Caucasians, Arabs and the rest.
While I haven’t seen much of the city, the color that strikes you right away is sandy brown. Even the pretty white houses with their pretty red tiled roofs seem to be brown. Much later I figured, that the absence of a lawn, flowers, greenery just takes all color out of the landscape. Especially since I know, that its spring in the US and the crocuses and tulips would be blooming and people would be coming out in droves to enjoy the warmth.
Besides summer hasn’t yet begun. And the sandstorms here are legendary. Temperatures are known to touch 50 C.
But there are some things I look forward to. Like being able to employ house-hold help (not possible in the US). Like being driven around all the time (women cant drive here), without hubby muttering about how an MBA hasn’t yet managed to learn driving in the US. Like shopping being the official past-time for all women here (what else can they do –if they aren’t allowed to work?). Like being a SAHM, and nobody questioning my decision. Like having everything (yes everything, including Mc Donalds) home-delivered. Like having a women’s only mall (no hubby means I can try on innumerable clothes, make frequent detours, constantly change my mind about the colors without someone gritting his teeth exasperatedly).
Or am I just deluding myself here. I guess time will tell.
Labels: Life in Riyadh