Monday, July 02, 2007

To cut a long story short. - 1

In the past few months – every time something of interest happened – I’d think to myself this is one story I have to share. But as time went by – I think I have forgotten a great many of them. Here's one that I do remember.


Veil Wail.

The morning after we landed – we wanted to go to the lobby for breakfast. Hubby and I got into an argument – if the abaya ‘had’ to be worn in the hotel. Hubby insisted that the hotel was one from an international chain and it would be preposterous for them to ask their customers to wear an abaya. A quick call to the reception confirmed my fears – international or not – an abaya was a must. So down we went – me tripping in my gown – and sonny trying to tug at the scarf that I managed to wrap around my head.

Turns out families must be seated in a ‘family section’ only. We went in to see a couple of other families eating. One table caught my attention. 2 women sat and ate by themselves. Not wanting to stare I threw surreptitious glances in their direction. The woman’s head was of course covered by a black head scarf. Not just that she had an additional piece of cloth that extended from one ear to another, over her nose. Effectively you cud just see her eyes. And seeing hubby – she managed to produce another cloth that she dropped over her head – so now – look ma – no eyes to be seen as well. How is she going to eat, I thought. She demonstrated. She pierced a piece of fruit in her fork, brought the fork down, took it under the cloth covering her face, which she lifted ever so slightly and managed to put it in her mouth. Every single bite went through this elaborate procedure. Man, I thought, I would give up eating, if I had to do this.

I looked at her hands - whatever little were visible. Well taken care of, manicured, with a bright red nail polish to boot. Pretty rings adorned her fingers and she ate with great care.

And I wondered - what kind of a woman would would take so much care of herself - and then cover it all up? The feminist in me was befuddled - of course you dress for yourself - and not for outsider appreciation - so then is she the ultimate feminist? But what kind of feminist would put herself through this rigmarole at every meal? Is int feminism about liberation?

I dont know - but the more I see of these women, the more I wonder.

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11 Comments:

At 3:48 AM, Blogger Just like that said...

Unbelievable!! Terrible.How do non-muslim women cope? How long do you have to be there?

 
At 5:33 AM, Blogger artnavy said...

i guess when u r born and know nothing else it would not bother u - at least not too much

 
At 5:50 AM, Blogger the mad momma said...

stab me in the heart with a fork before you make me move to Riyadh or any of those places please.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger ~nm said...

Somehow it saddens me to see women in such situations. And like artnavy said, probably when you have not experienced anything different from what you have, you will probably not feel frustrated with the curent situation.

But its true, I would never visit a place where I would be required to wear something like this even in public places. I have no qualms about wearing such atires at religious places.

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger Orchid said...

Vow!....to hear a first hand account....how are you managing?

 
At 1:03 AM, Blogger Itchingtowrite said...

wow! what pains to do a simple & enjoyable task of eating.. like u said, i rather would not eat it..

 
At 12:08 PM, Blogger Rohini said...

This is just depressing. She probably manicures her hands because that'a all she's allowed to show...

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger iz said...

What's most saddening is that these peopel think thats there's nothing wrong with living like that. That's what has to change first.

 
At 7:24 PM, Blogger Alan said...

It's total oppression and has nothing to do with feminism. Just because something is "traditional" doesn't means it's right. Based on things I had read, I was somewhat surprised to learn that they allow women to have internet access (or are you doing this on the sly?) Very interesting posts though. Keep them coming. Wishing you the best in this chapter of your life.

 
At 7:37 AM, Blogger Usha said...

I have seen this in Qatar and Bahrain and similar thoughts have passed through my mind.
But tell me as someone who doesn't have to go through this kind of lifestyle,how does it make you feel to have to wear an abhaya and always have a man to escort you now?

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Big Zed said...

Wow! Is all I can say. It's really surprising how people live in different parts of the world. It must be hard for non-muslims.

 

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