I was reading another woman’s blog today about being an expatriate in Saudi. I want to add that I look at them in a different light because I have yet to find a woman blogger who lives in the desert in general population. I’m sure there must be some, right? I mean not all live on compounds, with neighbors who share the same common ground. The search is still on. Anyway… her husband had come home from work and asked her what she had done that day. Nothing, she said. (I’m paraphrasing the conversation she had, and thoughts that she wrote) Nothing can literally mean, nothing, which is nearly impossible for a man to understand. Then he asks if she went out. No, she didn’t have a driver. Did she hang out with friends? No, they had all moved away. Oh, well the house looks clean, he said. He then told her they could change and go out to dinner, to which she replied, “I don’t have to change. I just put on my black thing, and go out.”
I had to smile a bit, as it already feels a bit like home for me. Do I really have to spend time each day writing personal ads on expatriate sites looking for friends in this place??
Maybe I should go put my “black thing” on and go for a walk. I’ll get some sunlight on my face and fingers, and I’ll walk against the traffic when there is no sidewalk, so that I can see what’s headed my way.
Later: I just got back from an hour walk, and not once did I see a woman out. The residential areas of town can be pretty to look at, when there is money behind it. The doors to the homes are so beautiful. You can see the houses better if they are two stories or taller, as the homes are surrounded by cement walls on all sides. While the homes may be pretty to look at, the streets are uncomfortably empty of humans. So I would rather stick to the streets that have shops. This means that walking on busy streets, I will get honked at constantly. Two short honks means (from what I’m told) “do you need a ride?” No, I don’t. I’m not lost, I just look lost. I’m just a white girl wandering the streets and getting exercise. I’m not sure I burned off the donut and Doritos that I ate for breakfast, so my lunch will just be a bowl of fruit and some hadju cheese.
I can’t get my husband to understand what it’s like for me to be here. He is outgoing, and easily communicates with strangers of all kinds. And he is not a woman living in a Muslim Saudi society. I’m quite the opposite. I can be outgoing, but the atmosphere here is the exact opposite of what I call normal. And if anyone were to tell me it’s like living anywhere else in the world, I would laugh at them. That is so far from the truth! I can think of many other places where I could live, and feel like I could adapt and make friends because there is an environment for it. There isn’t an environment here for making friends as an outsider (that I have found). I’m sure that the women who work, or live on compounds, or are a part of some organization that automatically puts them in a social background of sorts, can and do meet others like themselves, much easier than a woman who just lands in a city not having any of those benefits. I don’t know how to approach women here. The whole blackness of the coverings feels like a brick wall that should not be messed with. Men and women don’t mix here, so that’s out too.
It’s only been two weeks…trying to be optimistic here, but yeah, I’m struggling a little bit with culture shock.