الشرقي البطل

December 15, 2010 at 11:50 pm (Diary, Society)

ذهبت شراء لحم حلال من محل عربي قريب من المنزل. بالطبع، إن لم يكن البائع عربي الجنسية سيكون مسلم. طلبت منه كيلو لحم. سألني بالانجليزية “هل تريدين الشحم؟” أجبت كلا. ثم نظر إلي و ضحك، وهز رأسة يميناً و يساراً و قال “توقعت أن هذه ستكون إجابتك. أنتي لا تعرفين أن هذا الشحم هو ألذ شيء في هذه القطعة” لم أجب عليه و اكتفيت بالابتسام. ثم سألني “هل تريدين أن أقطع اللحم كذلك؟” أجبت نعم من فضلك. ثم نظر إلي نظرة سخرية و أومأ بيدة و قال بالانجليزية “بنات هذة الايام لا يعرفون و لا يستطيعون عمل شيء،  رحم الله نساء زمان”. قلت له “هل انت عربي؟” قال نعم. قلت “الرجل العربي هو فقط الذي ينظر للمرأة في حدود قدرتها على تقطيع اللحم. بدل أن أقضي وقت تعليمي في المطبخ قضيته في الجامعة لكي انتج جيل متعلم بحق”. لم يرد على كلامي. قطع اللحم بهدوء ثم انصرف.

قمت بعد ذلك بطبخ عدة أطباق لحفلة اليوم. دجاج بالكريمة، كفتة باللبن، وكبسة و خنفروش (طبقي المفضل). سنوات الغربة علمتني الطبخ بسرعة و سهولة و اكتشفت انه عمل ممتع جداً خاصة إذا كان هناك من يشاركني الطعام. فكرت ببائع اللحم و قلت لنفسي، قد لا أعرف كيف أقطع اللحم و لكنني أعرف كيف أطهو الطعام جيداً. كانت الحفلة أكثر من رائعة و استمتعنا جميعاً بحق.

في اليوم التالي أخبرت أحد معارفي-  كان رجلاً من جنسية عربية – عن حفلة الأمس. أخبرته أن والدتي اندهشت من قدرتي على الطبخ و التنظيف و خدمة الضيوف بسرعة و انسيابية. سألني “ليش انتي ما تطبخي في بلادك؟” قلت لا. ثم سأل “شو شو شو ؟ يعني من بيطبخ لك؟” قلت ” الطباخ” انقلب وجهه فجأة و عليه علامات الإشمئزاز و التقرف. ثم سأل “و مين هاي الطباخ” قلت له “الطباخ اللي يطبخ الأكل!” ثم سأل و علامات الإشمئزاز لا تزال واضحة على وجهه “أيوا مين هيدا الطباخ من وين يعني؟” قلت “الفلبين”. ثم سأل “و مين بينضف” قلت ” الخدامة بتنضف و السواق بيسوق.. شو في شي؟”  فاجأني بكلامة التالي “أنا بعرف ان انتو الخليجيين هيك حياتكو، خدم و فشخرة لكن ما توقعت انك انتي هيك كمان. أحنا عندنا النسوان هني ياليي بيطبخو و ينضفوا و يعملو كل شي”. ضحكت و قلت “يعني باب الحارة صحيح؟ النسوان يخدمون الرجال الأبضاي”. قال “ايه هيك الحكي، المرة لازم عليها تطبخ و تنضف”. ثم تذكرت إحدى حلقات عمر خالد قال فيها أن أعمال المنزل هو فضل من المرأة و ليس واجب عليها. و تذكرت في درس ديني عن واجبات و حقوق الزوجة أن الزوج يجب أن يدفع لزوجته ثمن إرضاعها أطفاله.

و قلت له، لكنك تعرف أن في الإسلام الطبخ و التنظيف ليس واجب من واجبات المرأة. حتى عندما تقوم برضاعة الطفل فيجب على الزوج ان يدفع لها مقابل هذا العمل. غلى كالبركان وكأنني انتهكت حقاً من حقوقة و قال “انتي ما تحكي عن الاسلام انتي شو عرفك أصلاً؟” قلت له أن هذا ليس رأيي الشخصي و إنما هذا كلام سمعته من مصادر موثوقة.  ثم قال ” لأ هيدي حكي الشيعة عندكم في الخليج هيدا كلام مو صحيح. أنا بقرى القرأن و بعرف، المره لازم تطبخ وتنضف لجوزا”. سألته إذا كان قد درس تفسير القرأن، و بالطبع كانت إجابتة بالنفي. ولكن قال أن لديه عقل و يستطيع أن يفسر الكلام و يفهمة و لا يحتاج لشخص أن يفسر له القران. قلت له أن في هذا الزمن الرجل و المرأة يعملان معاً ليسدا تكاليف الحياة، فليس من العدل أن تضظر المرأة للعمل خارج البيت و داخله. يجب أن يكون هناك تفاهم و تقسيم للواجبات. لو كانت المرأة لا تعمل لربما كان واجبأ عليها الاهتمام بالطبخ و التنظيف. ثار ثوره و لم يعجبة كلامي. قلت له، لا توجد مرأة لا تحب أن تطبخ لعائلتها و تهتم بزوجها. واجباً كان أو لا، هذا الإهتمام هو من طبيعة المرأة و حبها لعائلتها. ثم سألني “يعني هلا جوزك ما يقدر يوفر كل شي؟” قلت له أن الحياة هذه الأيام صعبة و يجب أن نعمل سويا لتوفير منزل و سيارة و مستقبل واعد للأطفال. قال أنه سيصدقني فقط لأنه لم يزر الخليج من قبل بالرغم أن كلامي عكس ما يراه و يسمعة عن الخليجيين في لندن..

عندما تركتة قال “هلا أنا راجع البيت و الأكل جاهز شفتي شلون هيك الحكي” ضحكت وقلت له “عليك بالعافية”. المضحك في الأمر أن التي كانت قد جهزت له الطعام هي صديقتة الروسية التي يتشارك معها في غرفة النوم! – لا تعليق على قدراته في تفسير القران بشكل صحيح – أو قدراتي.

ناقشت إحدى صديقاتي هذا الموضوع مع أحد المسلمين الغرب فقال “المشكلة في الدول العربية هي أن العرب يترجمون القران بما يناسب عاداتهم و ليس بما هو حق لذلك لا نرى هذه التفرقة بين الرجل و المراة بين المسلمين الغرب”

هل هذا صحيح؟ أنا اسألك أيها الرجل الشرقي الذي أعشقه، هل فعلاً انك لا ترضى بدور غير أدوار البطولة؟

الأدلة:

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http://www.sunnah.org/msaec/articles/responsibilities_husband.htm

“10. If she works outside the house, it is praiseworthy for the husband to hire house help to relieve her from too heavy a burden. The wife’s duties do not require her to feed her child, nor even to nurse it, nor to clean nor cook. It is the husband’s duty to provide a nursemaid, food for older children, and servants to clean and cook. However, if the wife does those things out of mercy and love, it is a gift to the husband on her part.”

http://www.islamicfinder.org/articles/article.php?id=112&lang=

“Helping one’s wife with the housework:
Many men think that housework is beneath them, and some of them think that it will undermine their status and position if they help their wives with this work. The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.), however, used to sew his own clothes, mend his own shoes and do whatever other workmen do in their homes. (Reported by Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 6/121; Sahih al-Jami, 4927).
This was said by his wife Aishah (RA), when she was asked about what the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) used to do in his house; her response described what she herself had seen. According to another report, she said:
“He was like any other human being: he would clean his clothes, milk his ewe and serve himself.” (Reported by Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad, 6/256; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, 671)
She (RA) was also asked about what the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) used to do in his house, and she said, “He used to serve his family, then when the time for prayer came, he would go out to pray.” (Reported by al-Bukhari, al-Fath, 2/162).

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Randomness

September 19, 2010 at 12:46 pm (Diary, Just a thought ...)

1-      I still can’t wrap my mind around the fact that you were an hour away and I couldn’t see you because of that stupid exam I had to take. I was shopping in Tescos when my sister told me that you have left us. But how did this happen? I just spoke to Auntie and she said you were all right. You left in few moments. I wanted to come and see your face one last time. But you took the first plane back home.

2-      Sometimes I think that dates look like cockroaches. Very tasty ones!

3-      I made my little sister eat chalk when she was 3 years old. I really wanted to know how it tastes like but did not have the guts to try it. As she was crunching it I felt jealous that it was in her mouth and not mine. She said ‘It’s crunchy’.

4-      I can’t help but think that marriage is somehow a public humiliation. Everyone knows that you are going to ‘have some action’ that night. And everyone assumes that it’s the night where you ‘finally open your window of love’. I bet all the guests would think of this at least once. How do you face his or her family the following morning without any feeling of embarrassment?  So if marriage is public humiliation then having children is the ultimate humiliation because then people know for sure that you ‘did it’. LOL

5-      How come all the lesbian Qataris get married before the straight ones. And they actually have babies and are still lesbians and everyone knows and its ok!

6-      Every time I watch  Khalejee series I can’t stop laughing. The actors keep walking in circles with their backs to each other just to face the camera. Who talks like this in real life? And who wakes up with full makeup and accessories on?

7-      Why do women have period pain? Sex pain? Pregnancy pain? Birth pain? Nursing pain? Even when you breasts grow it hurts! Men have pleasure growing up; pleasure in sex; the baby comes after a pleasure; the just watch as the baby grows up.  And after all this pain we don’t have the same rights and authority that men have in a real world.

8-      I noticed that every time I say ‘I could never do such a thing’. I end up doing it years later. Do we secretly envy those who live their lives to the fullest? When I see someone doing something that I secretly want to do but can’t for whatever reason, this is what I say ‘I can’t believe she did that; I could never do such a thing’.

9-      If things were different, you and I would have been together right now. If only we lived in a different world were names didn’t matter. They are committing a sin against us and if we were to err it would be them to blame.

10-   What a strange feeling to have accomplished a dream. Still it doesn’t feel as great as I thought. I honestly think that it was exaggerated and not worth the trouble at all. But what else would I have done.

11-   I don’t know what happened but I think we are growing apart. Maybe it is because we have gone on different paths and want different things in life. I love you dearly but keeping you in my life like before puts me down. You bring so much negativity and I can see you do not like my words or my actions. I tried to help you so many times but the more I try the more you resent me. So my dear I cannot continue this relationship before you start helping yourself.

12-   It is very scary to live a dream.

13-   Slice of Rye bread + Turkey breast + peanut butter = Delicious!

Shall we continue our random thoughts?

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Yes I am tough

July 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm (Diary, Everyday life situations, gender discrimination, Just a thought ..., women, work)

You should be more like a lady he said. You became a little .. how should I say this .. a little rough and too bold for a woman.

Am I less feminine really? Maybe it is true. I see it too. I started putting less makeup and only buying comfortable cloths.  I didn’t do my hair for ages. I can see some violence in my speech and behaviour. It is like I am fighting with the whole world all the time. I shout at anyone who flirts or harasses me. I am ready to hit anyone who approaches me. I almost hit my friend once thinking she was a stranger who wanted to grab my bag.  I am always on alert for any danger; physical or emotional. I am always ready to defend myself from any kind of attack; physical or verbal. I became too honest in what I say that it might hurt others some time.  But why would you blame me because I am only the modern woman of today.

How do you expect me to wear nice dresses and high heels with hair and makeup done when I don’t have time to cook a proper meal for myself? How do you expect me to be gentle and kind when I have to work from morning till night everyday and squeeze myself  between people in buses and trains like a sardine, someone pushing me here and another shoving me there? How do you expect me to be a lady like when I have to deal with nasty people all the time? It is a fight everyday and I am fighting every day. I am tired and I feel a part of me has gone. People around me are taking a bite of me every day and I have to keep on going with whatever I have left. How do you expect me to be lady like when I cannot afford the luxury of staying at home and doing nothing but pampering myself? I am sorry baby but I don’t even have the option of waiting for you at home and welcoming you back with a passionate kiss.

I don’t want to hustle like this every day, but I can’t afford not to. Because men are not men these days. I have to do it all myself and I know I can never depend on a father, a brother or a husband. Maybe men were ‘gawamoon’ but not today baby, not today. Maybe it made sense that men inherit more than women but it doesn’t make sense today baby it doesn’t.

I have to do it all by myself and even better than you so that you don’t point the finger and tell me ‘emotional’. I pay for my rent, my food, my cloths, my tickets, my makeup, my shampoo, my lattes and even the water I drink. After all of this, how would you expect that I won’t become a little bit masculine? How do you expect me to give you all the care and attention you need when I am lacking so much? There isn’t any tenderness left in me. You drained it all out, the world has drained it all out.

I am stronger than you and a hundred man like you. I work twice as hard as you, and then I come back home to take care of the kids, I cook and clean and even wash your cloths. And you really expect me to put on something nice at the end of the day and squeeze the last bit of energy and emotions I have left to give you few seconds of pleasure? oh and not only you ask me to put something nice on, but you actually ask me to buy it. You actually want me to spend the little money I have left to buy something for you to enjoy!

And what do I get back from all of this? All I hear is you comparing me with other more feminine women, how I should take more care of you and give you more time and attention, how I have my priorities wrong, how I became cold. Who is the selfish one here? Who is the cold one here? who is the man here? who is loosing the respect here? I am a human, but I am a super human.

So yes I am tough, I am strong and I will keep fighting. For my education, for my freedom for respect. so just be quiet!

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Before Bed Time Thoughts

April 4, 2010 at 10:15 pm (Diary, Just a thought ...)

Sometimes I wonder if it’s us or life that has changed. They say there is nothing new under the sun. And I wonder, was Eid really boring for all grownups, and was only exciting for us kids because we were simply kids. Or was it really much nicer and better than now? The joy is different. Sometimes it feels like a burden, to find something new to wear and to visit the 200 relatives you have. Why was it much enjoyable few years back and not now? Why do everyone stay in their Abaya and don’t even bother taking it off inside my grandmother’s house?

I wish I was a kid again sometimes. Everything was less complicated and easy. No responsibilities, no one expecting anything from you but to eat well, play and sleep. Was it because children’s life is simple? Was it because I did not have to cover and watch how I behave and what I say? Was it that the only thing that was not allowed is to draw on the walls or taste sand?

I wonder if we really get more liberated as we grow up. Sometimes I feel that the older I get, the more rules I have to follow. Or the more strains are put upon me. It seems that everything is not allowed, it’s just complicated. If grownups do a mistake, people won’t think it’s cute or funny anymore.

I wish I can just dress up like a little princess, and eat so many cupcakes and extra cheese burgers and play on the streets with girls and boys every day.

This stage of life is difficult. You are not a child, and not fully grownup. You don’t get to play, and you don’t have your full freedom. Once you are too old to enjoy life, people will leave you alone. and so half of your life is wasted trying to follow rules, to please others, and meet their expectations. You must study something smart, like medicine, engineering, law, business, politics. You must get a respectful job. You must get married, you must have kids straight away …. etc! When do we enjoy life? or life should be enjoyed by following these rules … and suddenly you are old!

Who said we have to study these things? What if I wanted to be a pianist, or a makeup artist? An air hostess, a cleaner, a cook? Or nothing at all! What if I didn’t work and spent few years travelling and doing pointless things? Why does it have to be some fancy job at some fancy organization?

We must worry about exams, and then more exams. Then we must worry about the wedding. Then worry about buying a house, then worry about the kids! Hey wait .. I was a kid few years ago, how do I have one now! What did just happen! what are these new feelings? jealousy!

Maybe the only good thing from being a grownup is the pleasure of sex. But is it worth all the trouble really?

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Diary

March 10, 2010 at 12:56 am (1, Diary, Everyday life situations, Just a thought ...)

It’s late at night and I can’t fall asleep. I was very tired today and slept for 2 hours during the afternoon. I am frightened from this apartment I am living in; I keep having nightmares about people breaking in. I wake up not knowing if these dreams were true or not, it takes me few minutes to calm down and realize it was a dream. The mailman buzzed the other day and I didn’t answer. He buzzed again and I thought ‘Who would visit me now, it must be a mistake’. When he buzzed for the third time I answered ‘ who is it’. He said ‘mailman’. I buzzed him in, but how would I know he was the mailman, he could be someone pretending to be the mailman and once I open the door he will force himself in. So I go to the kitchen and look for that big Ikea knife, the sharpest I have. For some reason I clean it! I hold it in my left hand and hide it behind my back, I answer the door and the mailman delivers a parcel and leaves. My heart is still beating fast, and I do not comprehend that there is a parcel between my hands. I take few minutes to calm down, to realize that I am still alive and that the mailman didn’t kill me. ‘What is this?’ I wonder. I open it and it’s a gift!

The boiler is making noises and I jump every time I hear something. I stare at the kitchen window which is very big and think it would be very easy to break in through it. I check behind the sofas, under the bed before I sleep. There isn’t enough space for a killer to hide anyway! Double check that everything is safe, and fall again into my nightmares. I don’t know if these are dreams, I swear they are so real. I wake up feeling confused and continue dreaming but with my eyes open. I feel like I am floating, not really living, I do things without being aware that I am doing them. My mind is not with me, it’s like my soul is in another world and my body is functioning here by itself. And that music makes me float even more. And I like not being here. I like that I am somehow in my own world, no one knows where my soul really is. I only come to my senses when I eat, because I truly enjoy the taste of delicious food in my mouth. Only during these moments that my mind comes back to reality. The day ends and I continue dreaming with my eyes shut. The only constant thing between the dream, the food and the dream is the thought of you, and your perfume on the teddy bear.

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In Doha … In London

January 4, 2010 at 2:21 am (Diary, Everyday life situations, Opinion, work)

In Doha

The first time I met my manager was not the first day at work, it was a month after I started working, or rather after I started going to a place to sit on a desk and sip tea the whole day. The first few days I was surprised that none of my colleagues bothered to say hi, or introduce me to the place. And by the last few days I started getting headaches from hearing them chatting, chatting and chatting the whole day. The first thing my manager told me was ‘Don’t expect anything, we all graduated from the US and came here with high hopes and expectation, but let me tell you something. They will all be shattered by the system. Of course, I don’t want to discourage you from working, but this is the reality here. Try your best, but don’t aim so high so that you don’t get disappointed. Anyways, welcome and I hope that you will be different’. I went back to my office after this, sat on my desk which was in the middle of a big room that accommodated 16 women who never bothered speak to me for the first few weeks. I was feeling confused as I was not sure what kind of work I am supposed to be doing because simply, yet after a month, I was not given anything to do!

In London

The first day I started work in London, the receptionist asked for one of my colleagues to come down and meet me. She took me to my desk and introduced me to everyone, showed me the place and got me some tea and cookies. Few minutes later, my supervisor came and had a chat with me, he said ‘we are thrilled to have you here, and we would like to know your thoughts about our work here. We are in the process of developing this department and your opinion is very much valuable. How are you coping in London so far? Are you settled? Please let us know if you need any help’. Few minutes later someone comes in from another department. My supervisor stands up and says ‘Lewis, this is our new intern, Mimi from Qatar, its her first day here’ … ‘ Hi Mimi very pleased to meet you’. After that, I was trying to write down few things my supervisor asked me to, but was interrupted because my colleagues would introduce me to everyone who would enter the room.

In Doha

It has been few months and I still have not done anything. Time passes by so slow, I come to work from 7:30 till 1:30. Its not much but it seems so long since I am not doing anything. I had enough from drinking tea. Why bother be punctual if I am not doing anything. Most people here come late and leave early, it seems that no one cares.

In London

Gosh, it is 5 already and I still have so much to do. Shall I leave or stay for few more minutes? No one is leaving; everyone seems to be so concentrated in what they are doing. I can’t believe that I have been working since 9 am. Time flew by so quickly, I didn’t even notice that my tea is cold.

In Doha

What is that smell? Is that eggs and keema? Oh yes it is, who would eat meet and hammous at 8 am! Why don’t they have breakfast at home? Or at least bring something not so smelly. Its 11 now and they have ordered pies and sandwiches. Oh there is a buffet in the other room because someone has given birth or got married and the girls are celebrating the colleagues return. But we leave in 2 hours, aren’t they going to have lunch at home. How much money they spend on this every day?

In London

‘Here is the menu, what would you like for lunch?’. Wow, this is a whole book! Wow, menus from every restaurant in London and I get to pick any meal I want and it’s all paid by the company. Talk about investing in human capital! Ok I should act cool and just order what I want. ‘What are you having guys?’.. ‘We will order from what ever restaurant you pick’.

While working at night:

‘I heard that there is a nice burger shop here’ .. ‘Yes, the Carnaby burger company’ … few minutes later ‘Here, this is a cheese burger from the shop you asked about, it doesn’t have any pork don’t worry’ .. ‘Wow you guys, I didn’t even ask for it, this is really kind of you, thank you so much’

In Doha

‘Hello, I will have to go home early because I am not feeling well’ ‘ what is wrong with you?’. ‘I have a headache and feel dizzy’ ‘is it so serious that you have to leave’ ‘ yes’ .. a long pause to think if my health is worth giving me permission to leave early .. ‘but we have some work to do’ .. ‘ but I have been doing nothing all morning, how come you are giving me work now?’

In London

I cough … my supervisor says in panic ‘Are you ok? Do you need to go home?’ .. ‘ No I am ok’ .. ‘Are you sure?’ .. ‘Yes’. My colleague asks ‘Shall I get you some herbal tea?’

I cough again ‘Oh you should go home you are tired, let’s call you a taxi you shouldn’t walk home’

The next day I go to work with another team, and a girl from the team of the day before calls me during lunch hour and asks ‘Did they get you lunch yet? … I asked them to get you some lemon and honey for your throat, if you need anything call me’. She calls again when it started getting late and said ‘Let me know when you finish, I will call a cab to take you home’

In Doha

‘How can I write a response to this’.. ‘ Just see what it says and write’ .. ‘What do you mean? It’s a letter directed to another organization, and this is the first time you send me work, I don’t know what to do with it’ .. ‘Just see what it says and write what to do with it’ .. ‘you are not making any sense, can you teach me how to do whatever you are saying’ ..’You know what, just send it back we will do it’ .. ‘NO, I WANT TO DO IT, would you please just explain how I should do it’

In London

‘Ok, before you start I will explain to you how work is done and what you should do, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me at any time ok’

In Doha

Every day I hear my colleagues complaining about work, the same story every day, the same complaints every day .. I was complaining myself, I do complain a lot, but I got tired, there is no point of it. I complain because I am not working, and they are complaining because they are given work! for God’s sake, all they do is data entry, and for less than 5 hours a day. If they worked for 5 hours straight that would be a miracle. They pass by my desk and say ‘ You are so lucky you have nothing to do’ and when I say ‘But I want to be given something to do’ they reply very surprised ‘why?’

In London

Oh My God I am so tired, I have been working since 11 am and now its almost midnight! Don’t they get tired! They have a deadline tomorrow and they must finish this film tonight. I never heard anyone complain at all. How amazing! even though I can see they are tired but still they are very thorough in their work!


In Doha

I leave work in silence, no one notices if I am here or not


In London

Goodbye, take care, thank you for helping today.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmmm and I wonder why young people are depressed, or take drugs, or waste time chasing after the opposite sex, or not punctual, or don’t care about the quality of their work or or or!! Whose fault is it? Would you blame me for hating work in Doha, or for being depressed and frustrated? I remember those days, and I remember the stupid things I have done out of boredom. How my energy and ideas were vanished, how a layer of mud accumulated around my brain until I lost the ability to think. I could talk about this forever, give you more examples, of how we are Muslims without Islam, and how westerners have Islam without Muslims. Why can’t we be faithful, punctual, giving, caring to our work and colleagues, why don’t we care about the value of a human being? Most obvious evidence is the way we treat cheap labour and the lack of laws protecting them. Wasn’t the way I was treated in London, Islamic, Human! How come I wasn’t treated like that in my own country, in a place I have worked for, for two years!  Those strangers I met in London made me feel more at home than I ever was in that place I worked in, in Doha. They treated me better than my own people. How would that make me feel!

The West understands that to achieve highest profit possible, companies and governments should invest in humans. That is why they give their employees free food, and taxi rides. This is why they care about their health and give them sick leave when they need it. And in return of these benefits, the employees would work and give, because they know they will be taken care of and paid for their hard work. I know that this is not the case everywhere, but this is the general rule, and I know that there are exceptions.

“The only justifiable purpose of political institutions is to ensure the unhindered development of the individual.”

Albert Einstein

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Is it Culture or Personality?

December 16, 2009 at 1:23 pm (Diary, Everyday life situations, Women Today Magazine Articles)

First Published in Women Today Magazine December Issue 2009

Between running to lectures, the gym and the office, I encounter people that truly astonish me – not necessarily in a good way.I don’t know how to explain their behaviour or choice of words, and then I wonder if their behaviour is related to their culture or simply a byproduct of their personality. Every morning I experience sinus trouble not because of the cold weather, but because of the heavy clouds of smoke that surround the buildings on campus. More than 15 smokers gather on top of the entrance steps and smoke before and after lectures. The smoke is so thick that you can’t help but inhale some on your way in and out. Now, I don’t have anything against smokers, but this is too much, especially since it irritates my sinus for the rest of the day. I complained to one of the security guards, who is African. he said that he is equally bothered by this, but there is nothing he can do because according to the law it’s a public space. He ended up promising to speak  to a higher official in the university. The next morning, i saw this lovely sign prohibiting smoking near the entrance! wow, that was fast and considerate. I was so happy and went immediately to the security guard and thanked him. It is a great feeling when people are considerate to others’ feelings and thoughts;I wish we had more of that in the world. I wondered what made him go through the trouble of printing this note and putting it there, even though he was not supposed to! but, here in london, not everyone is considerate or taught the same manners.

Some  people do not even realize that they are offending others because in their culture such behaviour is not an offence. One day, I went to the post-graduate room to do some reading. The place has tables, chairs and sofas and the only available space was on one of the sofas.A western girl was sitting in front of me with her feet on the table, straight to my face. I thought she would put them down when she saw me, but nope! they were still up. I could see the dry and cracked parts of her toes and heels! not a pretty sight at all! then my Iraqi/British friend came, and I told her how bothered I was. she said, “Don’t take it personally – this is not an offence in their culture, though it is in the Arab and Indian culture. she simply does not realize it is an inappropriate act.” I know that in arab culture not only putting your feet in someone’s face is disrespectful, but so is showing someone your back in a social gathering.

But this is not the case with all cultures of the world. for instance, I enrolled in a Japanese class and my classmate, who was sitting on the other side of the room wanted to borrow my pen. so i told her to “Catch” and threw the pen at her. My teacher said, “this is not good Japanese manner. You must give her the pen with both hands.” I thought, “this is not an Arab manner either; I should have given it to her with my right hand.” but I remember in school we used to through things at each other. where does this vulgar behaviour come from?

A few days later, I went back to the smokers building and some people could not care less about the sign. They were smoking right in front of it. After class, I left the building holding coffee in one hand and my coat and bag in another. While I was just about to reach the exit, an englishman came through the doors. He saw the load I was carrying, and went back quickly to hold the door open for me. What a gentleman! I wonder if these small acts are because of one’s choice or the way one is raised. what do you think?

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I hate you for ruining my first visit to Mecca!

October 18, 2009 at 5:10 pm (Diary, gender discrimination, Mecca, religious police, saudi, women)

I was so excited to go to Mecca. It was going to be my very first time to see the Ka’ba. Well, I went once when I was six years old, but that does not count. My family was going to do Omra and we all started preparing weeks before departing Doha. My mother, sisters and I all made custom made Abayas for the trip. They were EXTRA wide, and we even bought that sticky band that is worn underneath the Sheila to ensure that our hair does not show even if the Sheila accidently falls. So I guess what I am trying to say is that we all looked super decent and properly covered. My mother memorizes the whole Quran and she knows a lot about Islam, so she was mentoring us during the whole trip and giving us advice on how to seek every second of this spiritual experience. My dad was very excited and was asking me to take pictures so that we remember this trip as our first family trip to Mecca.

We arrived safely to Jeddah airport and took a taxi to our hotel in Mecca. I still remember the taxi’s driver’s name, it was written on this huge white board behind the seat. I thought that was weird and so I took a picture of it. I also took pictures of many weird signs I saw during the trip which I might add later.

I couldn’t see the Ka’ba from the hotel window. We all hurried up to catch the afternoon prayer. As I was entering the Haram, my heart was pounding and my eyes were looking straight ahead waiting for its first encounter with the Ka’ba. I felt a rush of blood in my body the moment I saw it. How great, how peaceful. Finally, I am here. As my eyes were fixed on the Ka’ba, I kept praying in my heart and asking god to accept this Omra.

Anyways, the story I want to tell you actually begins with the first prayer inside the Haram. It was the afternoon prayer and while we were trying to find a nice spot to pray a man, who apparently was one of the religious police, shouted at us “THIS KIND OF CLOTHING IS FORBIDDON, ITS HARAAAM, HARAAAM, THIS WILL TAKE YOU TO HELL SISTERS”. Of course, everyone within teen feet of our radius heard that and stared at us. I was very confused, why this man was shouting at My mother said “Just ignore him”, I asked her “what is wrong with our cloths?”, she said “oh they just mean that we should wear the abaya on our head and not shoulders”, I asked again “Why?”. She said “Because they believe that this defines the body’s shape, and this is forbidden”. I did not know if I should laugh or be mad, but I was really bothered by the way he spoke to us. Plus, I decided to get rid of all negative feelings and concentrate on this spiritual experience. But that was impossible!

What happened was that in each prayer, one of those bearded men would shout at us. If not them, the religious police women would do. I did not understand why they were doing that. Is really my cloths so !!!! I do not even know which word to use. How can an extra large black abaya is not covering, or proper enough for them. How do they look at it? Do they think that my shoulder line will actually seduce someone? Or that it seems sexy and appealing? The thing is, I was wearing Sheila that falls over my shoulders, so what was their problem. Or is that they just like to shout at women? At one point, a very scary looking man, his beard was so long that it reaches his navel, and his clothes were too short that the almost reached his knees was speed walking after me shouting “THE PROPHET HAS PROHIBITED THIS UNPROPER CLOTHING”. I was walking really fast that I almost started running trying to get away from him. These kinds of things happened with each prayer, five time a day for three days. How can I concentrate on this spiritual experience while those scary looking men are pointing fingers and shouting that we will go to hell! Who are they to say that! On top of that, while we were doing 6awaf, circling around the Ka’ba, one of those men was hitting his stick on the flour and shouting “cover your face, cover your face”. I thought, that is it! Everyone knows that covering the face while doing tawaf is forbidden! Seriously, those people has gone too far forbidding things that are allowed in Islam. One of the ladies was already wearing niqab, a face veil, and the man shouted, cover your niqab! The woman just snapped at him and started shouting! Maybe we, women just ought to kill ourselves!

Do they really think they are doing good when they are embarrassing people and ruining their spiritual experience like that? I tried so hard to shut them out, but once I control my anger one of them start shouting again and the femenatzi monster in me just struggles to come out.

What we have noticed is that these shouting are only for khaliji women, Arabian gulf women, who are dressed in black. If I was wearing a colofull abaya, they would assume that I am Egyptian or Lebanese and leave me alone. When I asked my mother, she said that they know about this issue since they were young. I was really surprised. I also remember mentioning this story to one of my friends in Doha and she agreed with my mom : “my older sister knows about this, so every time she goes there she wears a green abaya and no one bothers her at all. I went once with her and saw the difference in treatment myself because I was wearing a black abaya and she was wearing a green one”. This made me conclude that this shouting is about their own backward traditions and has nothing to do with religion.

What hypocrisy! They pretend to by holy and religious and know everything about god. And then you find them all standing in front of the women entrances; the religious police and the regular ones, all gathering there. Staring so bad at women. They think we cannot notice that from our sunglasses, but I can see you scanning me. Damn it I can see you scanning me, I can almost see what goes on in your head! Damn it, respect that long beard, and respect this holy place! And then, if I try to escape their looks and go through the public entrance they start shouting again.

Even my dad and brother were not left a lone. My dad is a heavy smoker, so he was looking for some cigarettes. When he asked in one of the shops, the shop keeper shouted “KAFER (ATHIEST) , GET OUT OF HERE”. My dad was shocked and did not understand what happened, he went to another shop and the same thing happened. He then saw a man smoking down the street and asked him about what was going on. The man said that cigarettes are not allowed near the Haram and he must go to the suburbs to buy one. Couldn’t the shop keepers simply explain that to my dad instead of shouting at him and accusing him of being an atheist? Why this exaggeration?

My brother on the other hand found one of his friends there. They decided to go shopping for souvenirs together. In the market they were both talking on the phone which apparently was a very suspicious behaviour to the religious police. One of the bearded men approached them and said “Brother, I will have to ask you to leave the market right away because it is a family place”. My brother said “but I am here with my family, plus this is a public place you cant ask me to leave, I am doing some shopping”. The man replied “ I don’t see any shopping bags with you, and you are talking on the phone and flirting with women, fear god brother”. My brother just snapped, he said “listen, if I want to flirt I wont do it in this place. Do you think I have no manners that I would do such thing only few steps away from the house of god. And I am not leaving”. The man became nervous and said “I will have to call the police”. My brother said “ok call them”. A police man was already waiting behind the bearded man, he approached my brother and said that he must obey and leave. My brother just ignored them and went to another shop.

And to give the perfect ending to this story, I must tell you about the last incident. My little brother and I wanted to get some souvenirs before departure. So we went to the market which was only few meters away from the Haram. The moment we entered my brother and I felt very uncomfortable. Shopkeepers were staring in a way that made me feel naked. We both decided to go back to the hotel and not buy anything. On the way back (the hotel, the haram and the market are all few steps away from each other) an old man stopped his car next to us, rolled down his window and sticked his head out, he had white hair and white beard, so I thought he was 70 years old or something. He said “hey little boy, shall I give you a ride”. I looked at him and saw him licking his lips and biting them, then rolling his eyes between me and my little brother. My mouth and eyes were wide open form the shock! He repeated his words and said “Hey, let me give you a ride, come on, get in the care”. My brother, not realizing what was going on said “no thank you, we live right here”. I grabbed my brother’s hands and started walking really fast to the hotel. The man was still licking and biting his lips. I don’t know if he was perverting over me or my brother.

I was really put off by people there. I almost cried for not being able to pray in front of Ka’ba because of those extremists who prevented that. I hated that I was struggling inside me to keep my anger instead of focusing on prayers. They distracted me and ruined my first Omra. Other than that, Mecca was so beautiful. I enjoyed visiting the historical places that were mentioned in the Quran. But I felt so bad for those who were living in poverty. I could not believe that there are people living in such conditions in an Oil Producing state. They were living in small houses on the mountains that were in real bad condition. The roads were a disaster and even kinds clothes were torn and worn out. I guess, the most important thing I learnt was to wear a green abaya to be left alone. I hope to go there again soon.

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Random thoughts in London

October 9, 2009 at 12:33 am (Diary, Everyday life situations, Just a thought ...)

One:

Ok, so how to reassemble this table? Where is the screwdriver? Oh damn! They didn’t include one. Ok let me just try to do it with a knife. Hmmm. This looks easy, wait. No its not. The nail doesn’t go all the way through. Ouch, I just cut myself. Ouch, i cut myself again. Ok this is not working, i better go find a hardwear store or something.

Two:

I am not sure if I have enough credit on my Oyster card. I should remember and apply for the student one. Here is the bus. In the name of God, in the name of God, please don’t beep red, common its late and I want to go home. Oh, no its red. Hmm the bus driver doesn’t seem to notice let me just go in. Thank you god

Three:

Why is this old man doing this! I feel sorry for him. Someone in his age should be enjoying life with his family not having a student job. I wonder if he feels humiliated carrying this sign that dangles all over his body about a souvenir shop. Oh god, he is also holding flyers. He looks 70 years old. Why didn’t they give him a more respectful job? Poor man, he is not even looking up, his eyes are on the floor the whole time.

Four:

What is that? Oh no, did someone die here and police is surrounding the place. No wait, what is that noise. Let me ask that police man “excuse me sir, what is going on here?”, “ its a premier of a movie and all the celebrities are coming” hahahahah and I thought it was a murder, I better not tell him what was on my mind. Oh, cool, let me call the girls and tell them about it.

Five:

This man is still standing in front of the museum handing out flyers. It hurts me to see him. I wish that he finds someone to take care of him.

Six:

Oh nice, pomegranate. The fruit from heaven. I should get some. What? 2 pieces of pomegranate is for 4 pounds! That is 24 QR! I can buy a whole Kilo of pomegranate in Doha. Maybe I should look for a Sunday market and buy my food from there.

Seven:

Oh gosh, I hope they do not know that I am Muslim, now they will force me to be part of their activities. Thank god my place is nearby and I don’t have to go to the prayer room here. I had enough of those people lecturing everyone about everything. They should lecture themselves first. Why is this girl looking at me? “hello there, do you know about the fresher’s dinner?”. “no”. “well, you should come, its going to be fun, we also give the money we collect to orphan charity”. “ok, how much is the ticket?” “3 pounds”, “alright I will buy one but I don’t think I will come”. “oh you really should, we will have the Imam of Finsbury park”. Hmmm isn’t that the mosque where all the extremist came from? “ok, I will try but don’t promise”.

Eight:

I really don’t feel like reading this book for our book club.  The printing is bad and it hurts my eyes. Plus I hardly have time to finish reading for school. Maybe I should just watch the movie. Who will know? I hope Tuga wont be upset with me. Maybe I should give it a try this weekend.

Nine:

– Hi where are you from? – Qatar -Oh Qatar, yes yes – Do you know Qatar – I know about the race – Why did you ask? – Your eyes look different – What is your name? – Carlos – Where are you from? – Brazil – Here give me your pen – Wow this is nice, what is that? – Your name in Arabic – Wow! This is amazing, wait a minute – What is that? – Can you write it down here in this note book – Ok – This is Hebrew, is it the same as Arabic? – No its different, wow you have different phrases from different languages in this page – Yes I gathered this from people I met – Ok Carlos, this is my stop, nice meeting you – Nice meeting you too have a nice day.

Ten:

– I just saw a girl holding a Qatari passport leaving the police station – Oh, lucky here she is done, we still have two more hours to wait. – – Hello, are you from Doha? – (oh no, here we start) yes – Did you hear about what happened? – What happened? – They estimated 2 million cases of swine flu – (we don’t have 2 million people in Qatar) so? – Yes it is serious – Ok, I don’t really care – You don’t, I do …. so what is the procedure here? What are we supposed to do? – So you want to tell me that you have been waiting here for 4 hours in the cold and have no clue what is going on? – No I don’t – (shall I say, me neither?) …. you only need passport and 34 pounds – Ok thank you

Eleven:

– See, I did all of this myself. I built two chairs, a lamp and a dressing table that has three drawers and a mirror – This is a really bad job! It is loose. Look at this, it will fall on you. You have to do it again – Again! You know it took me 7 hours to do it. And now you are telling me to do it again – You probably used the wrong tools. Which screw drivers you used – These – Hmmm, these are very bad ones. See, they do not fix the nails properly – No way, I wont do it again. If you want me to take every piece off, then you do it – Ok I will just get me the right tools. We will do it tomorrow

Twelve:

Yeah right fix it with me tomorrow. Here I am building this all again myself. But I have to admit that it’s much better now using the correct screwdriver.

And many more to come.

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My London, don’t break my heart

October 1, 2009 at 3:46 pm (Diary)

Russle SqaureYesterday was 30 September. It’s been a week. I have not finished anything yet. I am still running here and there trying to get papers signed and carrying heavy items in my extra large suitcase.  I haven’t started yet and I am already exhausted. For some reason when I looked at my phone and saw 30 September I remembered myself when I was a teenager wearing a peach dress to my aunt’s wedding. I never thought that few years later on the same day I will be living in London. It was a dream that I never even thought of dreaming! Who imagined that this little girl in that peach dress will be on her own in a big city for many years?  This date also reminded me of something, but I didn’t remember. For some reason I was thinking of one of my friends and texted him just to say hi. Few hours later I realized it was his birthday. Maybe this is why he crossed  my mind! I thought that moving to London would be as easy as moving to Colchester. But I was wrong, very very wrong! Things were complicated even before I start my course. Finding a place was exhausting; it took too much effort and time.  I ruined my significant other vacation by dragging him to every apartment viewing I had.  I had to settle for the last apartment I saw the night of my departure back to Doha. And now I ruined my sister’s vacation dragging her with me to finish paper work and buying necessary things. Luckily for her, my other sister came down from Cardiff to spend a weekend with her. She also saved herself by learning how to use the bus and underground and went by herself sightseeing.

Silly me, I thought I could finish buying all the necessary things for my flat in one day. So I got my extra large red suitcase and went to Primark. I bought all I can and then dragged the bag from Marble arch all the way to Tottenham court road while making few stops for more shopping. The bag was so heavy that i felt like crying. When I reached Argos, I got so disappointed when most of the items I needed were out of stock. I got whatever I found and called my sisters crying for help. We got a cab back to the flat. I still have to go on another torturing trip. But this time with no one helping me.

My university is very disorganized! Not like Essex at all. I asked for a campus map and I was told “we are not that sophisticated”. It took almost 3 hours to register, and I am not 100% registered yet.  And yesterday, was a day I will never forget. I waited for six hours and a half to do police registration. The problem is that I had to do it on that day or I will pass my seven day permit. The queue went around the building all the way to the Borough tube station. The officer told me that I can come tomorrow morning and start queuing at 6 am and I will be done by 10:30. I thought it would be more or less the same so I decided to wait. There was a starbucks nearby so I got myself some coffee. I was standing for four hours and sitting on a chair for two and half hours.  My number was 273, and when it was my turn, it took less than 5 minutes to be regestered! When I went out I congratulated myself by doing “tololish”, which is a traditional way of expressing joy in weddings or someone’s return. it is a sound that is made by moving the tongue very fast from  opposite ends of the mouth; it’s similar to what native Indians would do when they go around the fire. I was like “kolololololololiiiiiish”. I felt so sorry for myself yesterday, I also though life was hard. My back is aching from standing in long queues and carrying heavy bags.  The bank however, was the most complicated of all. They all need different papers with a gazillion proof. I had to order this from uni but you already know how organized my uni is, so it will take few weeks to get it; which means I have to wait for few weeks to get a bank account which means everything else is put on hold. Since I cannot do anything or finish any paper work without having a local bank account.

 

Life in London is so expensive. I had to pay six months in advance for my “bird cage” one bedroom flat. Money which I didn’t have. Especially that Supreme council of education are so smart and think that living cost in big cities like London and New York is the same as living in small villages in the country or India! I pay 1400 pounds per month excluding bills and internet and transportation. While I only get 1200 from the government. My sister who lives in Cardiff gets the same amount while she pays 800 pounds per month for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartments. I really think that the supreme council of education should add a new rule about that, they seem to be great about adding rules that complicate things, why not add one that helps student. And on top of that, my work had cut down my salary! Aren’t they supposed to encourage their employees and give them incentive instead of making it harder. We are there to study and get straight A’s and come back. Not to worry about finance and look for part time job! So don’t blame us if we didn’t get straight A’s.  Honestly, I am better than so many students who do not have any allowance and still have to pay fees. I am thankful for the scholarship and my father and sister and brother who are always helping me financially. But I am a grown up now, my father should enjoy his money, and should not worry about us anymore.  I feel bad every time he gives me money.  So technically, my father is paying the rest of the rent plus my living expenses.

On the day of my arrival, I had a fight with the cab driver. I agreed with the company to pay 45 pounds. When we arrived to the hotel he said he will charge me extra because I was late. I don’t like being fooled. I asked him on what basis, he said I had to pay for parking ticket which was 6 pounds and waiting time. I said that I have been in this country longer than he has – he was from an Asian country- and that this never happened before, the customer doesn’t pay for parking ticket. To be fair, I said I will pay only 5 pounds extra. He was suddenly rude and shouting, so I argued back. It was not about the 10 pounds, I just don’t like it when people try to fool me and take advantage. I told him “I will pay not 10, but 1000 pounds, you better speak to me properly” I then called the company and complained. They offered to pay me back and that the manager will speak to me to apologize. I said I don’t want the 10 pounds or the apology; I just want to make a complaint. I was frustrated from the moment I was on the plane. For the first time ever I was sad, I was not happy for leaving. I left all my friends and loved one back in Doha. I realized that London is nothing without them. And in the middle of my sorrow that stupid cab driver started shouting at me, so I took it out on him.

It’s been a week. I wonder what this year holds for me. I wonder who will be my friend, who will think of me as a B****? Which coffee shop will be my regular spot? I wonder if my friends will come from Doha to visit? I wonder what will I do in my lonely moments? I wonder if you will come?

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