Glimpses from Qatar – The other side

August 30, 2010 at 12:39 am (Everyday life situations, Qatari culture)

Picture One:

Reem is a Qatari engineer with Bsc in computer science and network engineering. She has been working in one of the semi-government organizations for two years. She and her Qatari colleagues convinced her boss that she can establish a network department with minimum costs instead of hiring a foreign company to do it. The project was a great success. The funny thing is that they did not even receive a thank you letter for what they did. Two years have passed and she was not promoted. When she asked for the promotion she was promised the management asked her to write a justification letter. The funny thing is that her expat colleague who happens to have only a diploma was promoted twice! Another funny thing is that there is no personal career plan as was claimed but the Qatarization department. So she ends up going to courses on her own expense in a lost attempt to develop herself.

Picture Two:

Hiba is a Lebanese but was born and raised in Doha. She was working in one of the banks in Qatar till 2007 when she was made redundant because of Qatarization. The funny thing is that the people who took her place were high school graduates while she not only a university graduate but also has several years of experience. After waiting for 2 years, she found another job in a Bank. But because she is an Arab expat she is being paid less than half of what others are getting in her rank.

Picture Three:

Jassim has studied and worked abroad for several years, he has a Bsc form the US, MBA from France and may other diplomas form different parts of the world. One might assume that it would be very easy for him to find a job especially that he is a Qatari who speaks 5 languages. The funny thing is that wherever he applies he gets rejected because there are no job vacancies. When he argues and says ‘But I can see on your website that you have 140 vacancies and 40% of them is in my field of work’, they reply ‘You are too qualified for us’.

Picture Four:

Khaled is a branch manager for one of the banks. The only thing he does is sip tea and watch movies on his ipad. He stays in the branch for few hours and then leaves to meet up with his friends and manage his private business. The funny thing is that he is a high school graduate and does not even speak English.  Another funny thing is that Abdulaziz who is a Qatari working in the same branch and who happens to have MA and speaks three languages was not promoted and does not enjoy the big salary khaled does because he does not have WASTA! What is even funnier is that Khaled and Abdulaziz started working at the same time. If you want to laugh even more maybe you should know that Abdulaziz writes for Khaled his emails and communicate with the management on his behalf because Khaled is simply never working + he doesn’t even know how to type on the computer.

Picture Five:

When a young Qatari footballer asked for more money he was accused of disloyalty for his country. The funny thing is that the loyalty of the old and expired African and Brazilian players with a fake Qatari nationality who are being paid millions is not in question. What is even funnier is that a Belgium orthopaedics who is being paid not less than 30,000 QR per day was brought especially for the wellbeing of those expired footballers while most Qataris working in public sector do not even have health insurance.

Picture Six:

May is an Egyptian pharmacist who was born and raised in Doha. To be given a license to work she has to finish three years of training. Because she is not Qatari she is not being paid for her work for three years. So after finishing her training in the morning she works as an assistant in a private pharmacy where she is paid 1000 QR per month! I wonder how she manages especially that she has to pay for rent and food.

Picture Seven:

Jonathan is a researcher who offered a petroleum company in Qatar to do a feasibility research about new machinery for 1 million QR. After he submitted the research the company discovered that they already had the research and it was stolen from their archive. The funny thing is that the study was made by a Qatari who did not receive any amount of money for the study!

Picture Eight:

Arjon has been working as a builder for more than 15 years. He was not compensated for the several on-the-job injuries he suffered, yet he remained slaving all day under the burning sun for 600 QR per month. He couldn’t take being shoved like a sardine in the accommodation and buses any longer. He decided to run away from his sponsor to find better opportunities. He ended up free lancing illegally until he got a serious injury and had to go to the hospital. He ended up being deported to his home land with nothing after spending 15 years under the sun.

Picture Nine:

Hamad is a Qatari business man. His brother holds a big position in the government. Because he has WASTA he was able to rent a tower he built for millions before it was even finished for the ministry where his influential brother works. In other parts of the world this is considered a crime and Hamad would be thrown in jail along with his brother. But here they are considered ‘Smart’!

Picture Ten:

The government spent millions if not billions on sports. Some new stadiums are being built up north on artificial islands and some on land. These stadiums could hold up to 45,000 people, the funny thing is that the population of the north is not more than 20,000. Actually, if you distribute the whole population of Qatar in all new stadiums there would still be some space. I wonder who is this space for?

Picture Eleven:

On the front page of all Qatari newspapers you see headlines of Qatar holdings buying Harrods, Barclays, Sainsbury and all other sorts of big business that cost again millions in the most expensive currencies there is. Then you turn the page and see the story of Sabika, a mother of five who’s husband conned her and made her sign checks. She ended up with a debt of 600,000 QR and was sent to jail for 10 years because she didn’t pay her debts. The funny thing is that the government is asking people to give charity for those jailed because of debt! Then you turn the page and read the story of Rashid who went to Family Consulting Centre asking for an air conditioner because he is so poor and cannot afford one for his family.

Picture Twelve:

A new project for old homeless people was being built. People were asked to give donations to create this new home. The people gave half of the money needed. But because the company was 5 million short it was sold to another company that turned it into a hotel! The old people then were compensated by giving them a raise in their welfare income from 400 QR per month to 600 QR per month! Wow!

And then, I walk down Cornich and see these tall electronic clocks saying ‘Enjoy Qatar’.

P.S: I know its not all that gloomy .. so spare me!

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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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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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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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I give up

September 2, 2009 at 12:50 pm (Diary, Everyday life situations, Opinion, Society)

(Just to warn the reader, i complain a lot in this post)

Sometimes people would ask for your help about something they assume you know. Or they see something in you, or something you do and would like to be the same or do the same. You go out of your way to help them. You get excited. You start pulling your strings and running here and there. You give them so much of your time. All you think about is how to make this perfect for them, how you can make them do better and how you can achieve it in no time.

And sometimes you expect people to be as considerate as you were in some situations. You expect them to respect their word and do what they have promised you. You expect them to finish what they have started. You expect them to be sensitive about your feelings. You expect all of that because you assume people are like you. But no

At the end, after all this tremendous effort and time. They throw what you have given them away. They forget that they were the ones who asked for your help and pretend that you are being such a burden on them making them do things they don’t want to do. At the end you are the “mad” person, the “psycho”, the “7annan” ….etc.

I had had enough of those people!

Here are some of what happened, only this month. Multiply this by my whole life, and you will understand why I am so freggin mad:

Situation one:

–  A girl, who we will call “Layla” just for the sake of the story,  recently graduated from France. She was very depressed for coming back. She felt sad for not being able to use the language so much here. After few months, she discovered that I speak fluent French. In one day she became my best friend. She would come to my desk at work every day and chat in French for an hour. I would give her the time even though I hate, absolutely hate chatting for more than 5 minutes at work! I thought she is depressed and that I should be there for her. Then she started inviting me out for coffee, taking me abaya shopping, and she also introduced me to all her four sisters. I told her that I have plenty of French friends if she wants to practice the language. She was thrilled. So I asked her if she wants to go to a Beethoven concert to meet all my French friends over there and she couldn’t be happier. She brought her other sister who speaks French and they both made friends with my French friends. Then my French  friends started inviting them for any event that would come up. One time, a young French lady invited us for dinner. Layla declined the invitation. The day after she asked me at work:

How was the dinner party?

good, too bad you didn’t come

To be honest with you I didn’t want to

Why?

I don’t like French teenagers, they disgust me.

Teenagers? The lady is 23 years old. I thought you miss France and loved the French culture. Weren’t you dying to get to know those people, how come now you don’t like them and call them teenagers.

Yes but I know French youth, I lived there for six years. They scare me. They are so irresponsible and crazy. I don’t feel comfortable being around them. They behave like teenagers, that’s why I call them teenagers.

Layla, this lady is my friend

Yes I know, I just didn’t feel comfortable going. Did something happen yesterday?

Something like what?

You know how they get drunk and go crazy and do sexual things!

Do you think that if they have one drink they will have an orgy on the table or something? Are you crazy? Did you forget that I was there yesterday!

No but you didn’t see what they used to do in France. That’s why I prefer to sit with older ladies, someone in their forties. They are calm and more mature. Remember when one of the older ladies invited us to her house. I told her I wont come if there were any young ladies. She immediately told me that she wont invite them, see she understand what I am talking about.

I said nothing more. I was confused. Few weeks later I asked her if she wanted to be interviewed for a magazine that I work for. I know that she has no problem for her photo to be published because she told me that she was considering a job as an anchor on TV in French. The girl was over the top when I told her about the interview. She even wanted me to interview her sister. She gave me a photo and told me all about herself  to write it down. I wrote the feature in English and had to translate it to her in Arabic because she doesn’t speak it. She told me that it was perfect and I can publish it. Two days before publication she called me and said that her dad was mad at her because of the interview and she wants to cancel her feature. I told her it wasn’t possible because it is already printed. When the magazine was out I showed it to few girls at work. One of them, lets call her Lamya, said “Mimi, how dare you write such thing about Layla“. I said “what are you talking about?” she said “Read, here. You wrote that she said that our organization is male dominated and work is not challenging? Did she say that?”. I said “yes, what is the big deal“. The girl seemed to be so scared, she lowered her voice and gave me the impression that she was talking about a conspiracy! “You could get in trouble, You could get her fired“. I ignored her. Silly Lamya went and told Layla what she thought. And ungrateful Layla was so scared, she thought she was going to be put in jail, she told the grils “no I didn’t say that. She wrote it herself. She knows I don’t speak English and she didn’t explain that to me. She tricked me its her fault”. Since that day, Layla treated me like her enemy. Even when I say salam, she looks like someone is strangling her throat and forcing her to reply to my salam. The girl stopped pretending to be my best friend. She didn’t come over like she did every day, she stopped nagging about going out, she stopped sending me forwards. At the end, everyone thought I was the mean girl, taking advantage of the poor girl who doesn’t speak English and introducing her to perverted crazy people!

Situation two:

– A girl, who we will call, Lamees, keeps asking me “How come you never drink fizzy drinks? How come you never eat junk food? Wow you look in great shape? Which gym you go to? What is your program?”. And I tell her everything I do, everything I know with complete honesty. I explain to her the many books I have read about the issue. Every time she asks me for advice I give it to her. One day she decided to do my diet and exercise program. So I spent a whole day with her. I woke up very early on a weekend. Went to her house, showed her how to do the exercise, made her a program. Then we went to the supermarket and bought all the things we needed for the diet. I was explaining why she needed this and that. Trying to educate her about health. Then we went home and I cooked her a meal. Showed her how to cook a healthy delicious meal. And gave her different recipes. At the end of that exhausting day. She didn’t eat the meal I prepared. When I asked her if she like it she said “oh no I didn’t eat it, I went out and forgot about it, I threw it away at night!”.  A week later I asked her how was the program going. She said that she didn’t use any of the food we bought. Most of the stuff was expired and she told the maid to throw it away. And she didn’t even start going to the gym! I felt very disappointed. I gave her so much time that I wouldn’t usually give to anyone, my throat was dried from talking so much and explaining everything. And at the end she forget about it! So simply! She didn’t even consider my feelings when she said that she threw the meal away!

Situation Three:

After spending a fantastic week at the English workshop with Bloomsbury. I told one of my friends who we will call, Lama, who  reads a lot in Arabic about it. She said, “why not make something in Arabic“. I told her, “yes we thought of that, we are looking for people who are willing to do it. Are you interested?”. She said “this sounds great, yes I am very interested. I feel strongly for our language and I really think this workshop should happen“. We had several meetings with people in Bloomsbury. We told them how we wanted to do an Arabic workshop and that we will look for professional people. We called a lady who has masters in critique. For some reason she said “I am not qualified and you need a professor to do that“. I thought, how come an educated lady like her doesn’t have something to offer for an hour! What is this masters for then? Anyways. We decided to do the workshop after we come back from summer vacation. When I told Lama that the workshop is going to happen next week and we should prepare she was shocked.

We are not prepared, we didn’t get any training.

I am trained and I will train you. Its very easy don’t worry

– How many people will come

Around 20

She opened her eyes wide in surprise and shouted, TWENTY !

She went back to her desk, and came again and asked “Shouldn’t we look for someone professional” . “They all declined our request what can we do now? Its not that hard I promise“. She locked her eyebrows and looked down. “But I didn’t prepare“. I said “You have a week start preparing. Its only for two hours”. She breathed loudly and said “Ok“. She looked like she had the weight of the world on her chest! Wasn’t she excited about it? A day later, the girl still seemed sad and worried. She then asked me the ultimate question “Are there going to be Qatari guys?“. I thought, damn, so is this what’s all about! Qatari guys! I told her “yes“. She looked down and said “ya5ty asti7y .. I feel shy“.  I told her “Lama, get over yourself! You are 25 years old. You have a BA in politics from the UK. You are an independent woman who works! And you are asking if there will be some guys! So what! Are they going to eat you! You think the quality of people who will attend is the same as those who go to hajj around Landmark! Its nice to be shy but don’t let this control your life. You are the only one between us who didn’t improve her work because you are too shy to talk to the manager. Get hold of yourself girl!” She looked down and said “OK“. But I saw that she was looking worse. So at the end I told her ” you know you are not forced to do this, if you don’t want to its ok“. Her face brightened, the weight is lifted, she said “no its just that I thought we will be trained by a professional, I don’t know how to do this. You know but I don’t”. I told her” I told you I will train you. Believe me I wont let you present anything unless I was sure that you were 100% ready”. She said “ok I will prepare my part and give it to you to present. I will do the Article section ok. I will attend the workshop and maybe bring my sister”. Few days later she gave me a piece of paper with six lines written in it. She asked if this was ok and if I need anything else. I thought, ok for what? It’s a two hours lecture and you have written six lines! That’s all the research you have done. I told her to pull out two different articles for two different authors since she knows Arabic authors and reads articles more than I do. She said ok and didn’t do anything. I see her everyday chatting and drinking tea. I knew she wasn’t going to do anything. So I did the whole thing myself. On the day of the workshop she didn’t show up. She didn’t even send a text to apologize! I completely pretended that nothing happened and didn’t open the subject with her. Few days later she asked me about the workshop and told me she didn’t come because she was not in the mood and tired and decided to stay home. It took me a minute to remember. I old her that it was great. But then I decided to tell her what’s on my mind, I said, in a funny was, as if I was joking “now I know that I cannot depend on you and cannot take your words seriously… 6ila3ty e5ri6y”.  She gave me her word. Made me believe that she really wanted to do  this. Came with me to all the meetings. And at the end she withdraws without informing me or even apologizing.

Situation Four:

My little sister asked me to throw a dinner party before she leaves for her studies. I decided to do a Ramadan Dinner; we had to wear Jallabia, eat traditional food, have some garan ga’oh and play games. I got some candles and “fawanees” to give an old Arabian effect to the place. I invited around 20 people. Most of them confirmed. I went out of my way to get the best food. I made a research of the best ladies who do Qatari food and sent the driver to their houses to get it. Each plate from a different house just to ensure the good quality. I ordered special garan ga’oh wrap in small baskets to give away at the end. I prepared some games. Everything was made for the 20 people who confirmed. When the evening started I received few texts from people saying they wont be able to make it. Some didn’t even bother to inform me that they are not coming. I had to call them and they said “oh, we forgot to tell you that we wont come“. Ten people didn’t show. Who will eat all that food then? Couldn’t they tell me a day before so that I wont order so much food?

The theme was Ramadan, so I told everyone to wear Jallabia. Some people had it and didn’t bother wear it, some people didn’t want to wear it, some people were forced to wear, some people complained about wearing it.  But the nice thing is that one of my foreigner friends went and bought one especially for the occasion.

I tried to forget about it, I still have some guests and I shouldn’t be in a bad mood. Later I explained to people how to play the game; you should have seen their faces. It was like I told them lets go weight lifting! What a burden to play a game. Some people were complaining before we even started. They had to write different words on 20 small pieces of paper. “What! All of this, we have to finish all these papers? Baaaaal“. It was like I gave them a homework to do. I said “cant you stop complaining“. Then they looked at each other and said “oh watch out, Mimi is mad“. !! at the end they realized that the game was fantastic and they enjoyed it.

At night I was exhausted. I kept remembering similar situation that happened before. Its always my blame at the end. I have this urge to help people, to want them to shine and show their best. I want them to achieve and know the great feeling of success. But they suck my energy and go.

I will stop pushing people to do their best, to do things better or to find a better way. I wont tell a fat person how to loose weight

I wont tell a lazy student how to study

I wont tell a depressed person how to be positive

I will stop giving advice

I will stop showing people the world from my eyes

I will stop expecting others to be polite, considerate or punctual.

I think being selfish is good sometimes. If I was selfish, non of that would have happened. But I cant help but be myself.

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White girl or brown girl, which one you like for your son?

August 27, 2009 at 12:46 am (arranged marriage, Diary, Everyday life situations, gender discrimination, Human Rights, Qatari culture, Society, women)

Few months ago an incident happened that made me think of a lot of things. Things that I have repressed because every time they come back to surface they make me boil. Few months ago my mom told me that there is a family who is interested in me and my sister and want to ask one of us her hand in marriage for their son.

–         Last year when you went to the desert camp with your sister, there was a woman who saw both of you and asked about you.

–         Were you speaking to aunty Dalal?

–         Yes

–         Are you serious? I do not want anything from her side

–         No she has nothing to do with this

–         And they saw us at the desert camp! (I said that in a sarcastic tone)

–         They don’t live in that area at all they were just visiting your grandmother. Don’t worry they are modern people

–         Ok

–         Yes they saw you and you sister and they said that they want either the white one or brown one for their son!

–         Seriously! What are we sheep, white one or brown one!

–         They do not know your names so that’s how they described you.

–         I wont take anyone who didn’t study abroad

–         He is studying in London now

–         Now? What is he? A kid or someone who failed?

–         I do not know, he might be taking a course because he works in RasGaz.

–         I do not know whatever

–         Ok we will ask about him and see

–         Yeah whatever

I tried to be easy on my mom because I know how important this issue is for her. Few weeks have gone by and I thought that they forgot about it. But, my mom called me once when I was going out shopping with my friend Aysha, ironically, shopping for her wedding!

–         Those people called her and want to visit us this weekend.

–         They want to come check on the merchandise?

–         No, they said they want to visit, what am I supposed to tell them no

–         Ok

–         So I want to know if your going to be free this weekend

–         No I am always busy. I already have plans

–         All days

–         Maybe Saturday night. But mom, this is so weird I feel like a sheep or an object being auctioned. And I am not going unless my sister will be there

–         Yes of course that is why I wanted to check with both of you

I tried to be as normal as possible with her. It was so obvious that she was excited and happy, I didn’t want to take this moment away from her. Later she texted me saying that they will come on Sunday. I texted back saying that I have a French lesson so I am going to be late. I was picturing different scenarios in my head, I was thinking too much until I got a headache. I had to let it out, I needed to speak with someone. So I shared my thoughts with my friend Aysha who was shopping with me.

–         Aysha, I feel like I am going crazy here. I cant bare the thought that I might end up with someone I don’t know.

–         Now you know how I felt before getting engaged to someone I didn’t want.

–         Don’t you love your husband

–         I do, we get a long very well. But it is still hard

–         I feel like I am going to cry.

and I really felt like that, because by looking at Aysha I felt like I was looking at myself in the future. Then we both were quiet, each one of us was gone to another world with her thoughts. Aysha probably remembering the past, and I picturing the future. I was her past and she might be my future. Then we changed the mood and laughed about it.

–         I really think this way of getting married is weird, I feel disgusted by it. I really do feel like a sheep you know

–         Why do you think its weird, it is normal here this is the way it has always been.

–         I know, but the fact that they came to pick either me or my sister is disrespectful. As if we have nothing to do but to wait for their son’s choice. Anyways, I am sure they wont like me. I do not even             have to try hard, I can just be myself hahaha

–         Hahahaha yeah you can do that.

–         But you know what bothers me the most.

–         What?

–         We have to go through so many things just because we are girls. Life is very unfair for us simply because of our gender. And what I really do not understand is that women accept this injustice,                 embrace it as part of their belief and pass it on to their children. Why would they do this to themselves? Why don’t they break the cycle?

–         But when your parents say no to something is because they are under pressure from the society.

–         I know and I understand that, I am not questioning my parents, I am questioning the pressure itself, the society.

–         But you did study abroad and you can go out

–         Yes, but it came after tremendous effort! I had to fight, I got those things after being emotionally and psychologically exhausted. Why? Everything is just given to boys!

–         You know parents would say that boys can take care of themselves

–         You know just like I do that this is not true, we took better care of ourselves than boys ever did. The only difference is that they have more muscles. This is what it is  all about, physical power

–         Yes, and because they have this advantage they can take care of themselves. That does not change the fact that everything is given for guys without even asking.

–         I have been mad about that since yesterday, LOL I just wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Then I called my sister, we laughed about the issue and exchanged our thoughts. We totally agree with each other. Then she told me the story of her friends Manal. Manal is a computer engineer like my sister. Her dream was to work in QP. After graduation she got engaged and was very happy about it. My sister expected to see her in QP but months has passed and Manal didn’t show up. Then she met her once at the Ritz Carlton. Manal told her that the reason she didn’t show up is because her husband doesn’t want her to work in QP with men. She is an engineer for God’s sake! What does he expect! My sister was surprised that she agreed to his demands. Now she is staying at home doing nothing. She even applied to the central bank and he refused even though the office she was going to work in was female only except for their boss. I thought “he is sick”. No one thinks like that unless they were really mentally sick and dirty, doesn’t he trust his wife?  and why does he treat her like a property? Then my sister shocked me when she said “he is keeping her hanging while he is studying abroad having all the fund and freedom, he wants her to wait until  he finishes to decide in her matter”. What a pathetic thing to say; to decide on her matter!

As if she is not mentally capable of deciding on her life. No one is protesting about this non-sense, not even the girl. My sister told her “you signed a contract with QP, they have paid for your studies for 5 years, you cant just leave like that”. Manal said “my husband said he will deal with them”. My sister said “when they take you to court, its your name and your matter not his”.Manal told her later on that she is actually heart broken for being controlled and treated that way, and not happy with him, she doesn’t know what to do. And this is their engagement period, they didn’t actually live together yet!

The day came and the guy’s sister and mother came to our house. I don’t know anything about his except that he works in Ras Gaz! My sister and I sat next to each other. We were quiet the whole time. Luckily my auntie and grandmother were there to keep them entertained. The older sister asked my sister “so, where do you work”. My sister said “QP”, the lady looked like she chocked on her tea. She asked me then “where do you work?”. I told her, and she was happy that it was not a mixed gender place. Then she asked “oh really, this is good. How long have you been working there?”. I said “I started right after graduation from UK so about 2 years”. She said “aha”. And that was it. Apparently they didn’t want  girls who are “too exposed”.

My sister and I were very upset when they left. We told our parents that we don’t want to be put in such situation again where someone come to pick either me or her. They should have decided already on that before they come. At least those people did not ask that we must wear niqab, leave work and stop driving cars like others have before we even agree to marry one of their sons !!!

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How did Rodah become a health Freak?

June 22, 2009 at 7:58 am (Everyday life situations) (, )

One night Rodah woke up feeling thirsty and couldn’t find any water near her. The thought of getting out of bed and going to the kitchen downstairs was as awful as her feelings of thirst. And since that night, she never slept without making sure that she has a 1 liter of bottled water next to her. But this is not the only reason that made water important to her. When she was a teenager, she read somewhere that drinking water in the morning helps the body get rid of toxins. More than ten years has passed since she read this information, and not a day has passed by without starting it with her water ritual.

 

Then another healthy routine starts. She eats seven poppy seeds because it was one of the things recommended by the prophet. It strengthen the immune system and has endless benefits. Then she prepares a mug of hot water, lemon and honey. Lemon is important because it cleans the body; aids with digestion; prevents bloating;  and is natural strengthening agent to the liver enzymes. Honey on the other hand is one of the things recommended by the prophet, so it must be good! It balances sugar level in the body; provides energy and purify the body because of its anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial elements. After she enjoys her drink, she hits the shower. When she is done showering and slathering her body with baby oil (the best body moisturizer ever) the first thing she puts even before the deodorant and musk is her sun block. According to her readings about sun block and its importance; she knows that it takes 20 minutes for it to work so she makes sure to give it the time it needs. But this is not enough, she also puts a moisturizer because she read that in her age the skin needs moisturizing more than anything else. And that is another reason why she drinks a lot of water. When she gets ready. She leaves her pretty pink room and goes downstairs to have breakfast. Rodah never ever leaves without having breakfast. She knows that not having a good breakfast will crash the sugar balance in her body which will make her crave sugar in the middle of the day; it will also make her lazy and tired and will deprive her brain from the energy it needs to start the day. Thus, to avoid all of this, she spares few minutes to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. She first eats protein, which is three egg white and one yolk mixed with seeds. Seeds are full of  healthy fats; calcium and other minerals. Then she takes the rest of her breakfast; which is fruit, to work because she doesn’t have enough time to finish it at home. Before she leaves to work, she takes some anti-oxidant tablets and fish oil. No need to mention the magnificent benefit of fish oil for skin. It might not show now, but it will sure show when she grows up! The reason she eats the protein fist then fiber is that if you do the opposite, the body doesn’t absorb the protein as it should. Moreover, fiber helps digestion. 

At work, her colleagues try to offer her breakfast, which looks more like lunch to her. Sandwiches, pies, beans, hammous with grounded meet, yes meet in the morning!  She refuses to eat any of that because she simply had already had breakfast. Plus, she is not so keen on eating white flour products because it makes her feel bloated; she prefers whole wheat. However, her colleagues accuse her of being anorexic for not eating food high in carbs and fat! Rodah then sits on her desk, trying to do some work while drinking chamomile tea that helps to calm her down and detox her body. When she doesn’t have work, she prefers to read. She might eat one piece of chocolate on occasions, or enjoy a nice cup of coffee, but not everyday. As soon as she gets off work, she hits the gym. She knows that if she didn’t go to the gym while the sun is up, she wont go at all. She hates it sometimes; and has endless dialogues with herself to force herself to go. She knows that if she wants to keep that nice figure she has to work it out! Nothing is easy. But its not only her figure that she thinks of; she always thinks of the future. She knows that exercising will enable her to lead a healthy life; give her a nice posture and energy. But most importantly, it will prevent saggy bobs and saggy tummy if she will ever give birth. Having strong muscles in her abs will enable her to give an easy birth and get back into shape in no time in the future. So off she goes to the gym, listening to her brother’s play list on her ipod to boost her mood for exercising. She starts her program with focus, but sometimes she get interrupted by women asking her “why do you exercise? you are so skinny!”. Rodah feels so mad, she thinks “I am not skinny!”. She wants to give those ladies a lecture about how exercise is not just to loose weight but to maintain a healthy life style in the present and future, but she knows that someone who asked such stupid questions will never understand the concept of healthy life style! She wants to say “so that I don’t become fat like you”. She wants to say that so bad, but its wrong, and rude and would hurt people’s feeling. So she decides not to answer; she  just gives them a look that says “leave me alone” and smiles so that she doesn’t seem rude. Then they answers their own question and say “to stay fit?”. Rodah tries to keep her mouth shut. She just nodes and thinks “no, to be horribly skinny!”. Then someone would always say “if I were you, I would eat whatever I want”. Rodah keeps quiet, still smiling and moving away to the other end of the gym.

 

By the time she is done with the gym she is starving. On the way home, all she thinks about is “What did liza cook for me today?”. Lunch, Lunch, Lunch. That is all she is thinking about, she is almost drewling! Once she arrives home, she goes to the kitchen directly. She throws her Abaya away, and looks for her plate that is usually left in the microwave. Her lunch is usually different than what everyone else eats. It must be fish with vegetables or salad. It might seem dull, but she has bought so many cooking books to find the most delicious recipes for fish and vegetables. Who said that healthy food should be tasteless? In fact, what she cares about is the taste; the quality of what she eats not the quantity. After lunch, she takes fish oil tablets, and one spoon of flax seeds. Flax seeds are rich in soluble fiber and contain high quality protein; vitamins B-1, B-2, C and E, and minerals iron and zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. She drinks water two hours after lunch, and never ever drinks fizzy drinks because they are high in sugar; make her bloated and has many artificial harmful ingredients that harms the body. But she actually stopped drinking fizzy drinks when she was in the fifth grade because her mother told her that fizzy drinks and staying up all night effects growth. Most of her friends were taller than her, and she wanted to be tall, so she replaced fizzy drinks with milk and Ovalteen. Then she heard about how fizzy drinks could be used for cleaning and unblocking sewage! She was glad that she learnt to dislike them.

 The day starts to slow down, she goes to do whatever needs to be done. Drinking more water, and eating fruit for snacks. Dinner is usually eaten early, and its usually light. Before she goes to bed, she takes off whatever make up she has left because she knows the dangers of sleeping with makeup on her skin. Then she puts the night cream, brushes and flosses her teeth and goes to bed.

This picture might seem perfect, doesn’t it? But Rodah has a reason to be such a health freak; so aware of her image. When she was in the fifth grade she had sever measles which completely destroyed her skin. Even though her skin looked normal after she was cured, it was damaged from the inside.

 When puberty hit! Acne came. Sever acne that lasted for years and years. It almost covered half of her body. It used to hurt! Yes hurt, she wouldn’t be able to sleep because her back was covered with it. Her face used to itch, and the more she itch, the worse it gets. It was an ugly disgusting picture. All she wanted is to look normal. To make people stop looking at her face with disgusted or curious looks as if she was some kind of a freak. She got so exhausted going from doctor to doctor trying to find something that will make this terrible ugly acne go away. She allowed doctors to experiment on her hoping that she will find a solution, but that just made it worse. She was exhausted from people pointing out at her pimples, making fun of her, asking her stupid questions “why do you have acne?” as if she its something she chooses to have! She stopped eating junk food, anything with sugar or fat. But still the acne didn’t go away. She was almost 20 and acne still didn’t go away. It was very emotional, very tiring and no one understood how much energy and will it took from her. And one day she discovered a pill that had serious side effects. But that pill was the only solution; and she endured the side effects for six months. The story didn’t end. She had to go through the same treatment, not only once, not twice, but three times. During treatment, her face used to be very sensitive, so it was red all the time which made people stare even more.  On top of that, it was peeling. She used to have what looked like dandruff on her Abaya but  that was her face peeling, not hair dandruff. She was so dry, like a wooden stick in the desert. Her lips were covered with blood because they were severely dry. She had sudden muscle cramps; headaches; nausea. And still people kept pointing, laughing and asking stupid questions. The treatment worn out her liver, and now she has to be on a strict diet to get rid of all the chemicals and toxins that those pills brought. 

 Her daily routines might seem pretty; she might seem to enjoy them. But its something she has to do, she is far away from being perfect. It is tiring to keep up all of these routines. Sometimes, she simply takes a break, but not for too long because the ghost of acne is always in the back of her mind, reminding her of what she used to be.

 Her problem with acne made her learn so much about health related issues until she became the guru of health among her friends. The best thing she discovered so far is Dr. Perricone diet. It is a whole program of exercise, food, application and supplement for those who cannot endure heavy pill treatment.

 

Every thing is possible, but nothing comes easy.

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This is just one story of a poor Labour Worker

June 16, 2009 at 9:58 am (Everyday life situations) ()

Aysha is a loving compassionate mother. Her kind smile and plump figure makes you feel that you just want to hug her. She decided during the month of January to put a big tent in her garden so that her family can enjoy the lovely short winter of Qatar. She called the Indian contractor whom her family usually deals with. Few days later, workers came with their tools to start constructing the tent. Before the tent was about to finish, Aysha decided to pass by and see how things are developing. However, as soon as she arrived to where the tent was being built she couldn’t help but notice something strange. The workers were gathering around something and as soon as they heard her, they all stood looking afraid. She asked “what is going on here?”. No one spoke. she asked again, but still there was no response. The only response she got was carelessness and hesitance from their eyes. She noticed that they were sitting on the ground looking down. Then she was horrified to see one of the workers with tears and blood pouring from his left eye. he was holding what looked like a dirty piece of cloth on his left eye trying to stop the flow of blood. Aysha was shocked at the scene and cound’nt understand why those men were ignoring such horrible accident from here. “Oh my god what is going on here? what happend to you” she shouted. The man didnt speak, he was in so much pain. She looked towards the standing men. it was obvious that she was very upset, which made them even more afraid. she asked one more time “you must tell me what happend? why are you trying to hide the enjyury of your friend”. It seemed that no one spoke english. She called her driver hoping that he would be able to translate. Luckily he spoke the same language as the men did. After further attempts to try to understand what was going on, the driver explained that the injured man was hammering a nail into the concrete when suddenly a sharp object hit his eye. Aysha spoke to his immediate contractor who was there standing carelessly and did not want to be involved. She blamed him for not giving his workers some safety equipments that could have prevented what happened. However she was surprised with his response “What happened to this man is not my responsibility, they do not work for me, I subcontracted this job to someone who subcontracted to the contractor in your house now, so you should speak to him and not me”. There was no point in arguing with or trying to get some information from the immediate contractor. Aysha did not want to waste any more time so she took the injured man to a private hospital where she knows most of the doctors. On the way, the driver was translating so that Aysha would know this man’s story. She managed to know that he used to work for a big company but could not handle the working and living conditions and so he ran away and decided to free lance. The driver translated “Madame, he says he is afraid of being deported because he needs this job to send money to his family, if fixing his eye would cause him trouble with the police, he prefers not to go”. Aysha shouted “non sense! His eye is worth more, I cannot ignore his injury and leave him, tell him not to worry” After x-ray and further examination it appeared to be a very serious matter and requires immediate medical attention. The doctor told Aysha “it appears to be a large metal object in his eye socket; and this requires a big operation. We think it is better if you take him to Hamad hospital for several reason. First, it is going to be very expensive, and there are some legal issues and you might have to deal with the police because it is a work incident and as we understand he ran away from his sponsor” So, Aysha took him to Hamad hospital. But the episode was far from ending and it was still morning! at the beginning, he was completely ignored. It took them about 30 minutes to get someone’s attention. Aysha couldn’t understand how they could ignore him, it was obviously a trauma; his blood was every where. Was it because he was a poor asian worker? When the nurse came, she said he has to wait. “why cant you write trauma on his paper? he obviously needs immediate attention” Aysha said sounding very upset. The nurse said “well, we have to register him and it seems that he has some ID issues”. After further deliberation, Aysha managed to get them by pass the ID issue and see a doctor. Only the fourth doctor who saw him said “hmmmm, why doesn’t it say trauma, well, we should right trauma here”. Things started to get better when an Indian doctor saw the poor man and felt sympathetic with him so he hurried up the process. During all this time, the injured man was sitting on a chair. Aysha asked one of the nurses “could you please find him a bed, he was working all day and he is obviously exhausted from his injury and standing all day”. It took few more hours to find a bed for the bleeding Asian man. When he was about to relax a young police man approached him. Before he even spoke, he seemed aggressive, and treated the injured man as if he was guilty until proven innocent. He shouted “WHAT IS YOUR NAME?”. The injured man didn’t answer because he simply was scared and doesn’t speak arabic or English. Aysha couldn’t tolerate such behavior. She said, in a kind yet, in a reprimanding way just like all mothers do “My son, do not shout at him, he is a poor man and he is in pain, he does not speak english or arabic, my driver will translate for you, please be kind with him”. The young police man was ashamed of himself and respected the presence of Aysha. After the interrogation was finished, things started getting better. The doctors said that they need to do the operation after 9 hours because they need his stomach to be empty for the anesthesia. Aysha asked her driver to stay with the man, she gave him a raise for doing that. She sent them some tea and food. During this time, Aysha could not help but notice the number of injured cheap labor workers at the hospital. Each with different injury and different story. Is this normal? The operation was successful, and the man was admitted to the hospital for few days. Even though it took a long time for him to be taken care of, Hamad hospital paid for the operation which cost 50,000 QR in private hospitals. While he was recovering, Aysha visited him to check on his health. When he was discharged, he visited Aysha and her family to say goodbye before he leaves.

The moral of the story is to show the serious consequences of subcontracting with cheap labor who fled from their original sponsor because of their bad working conditions with big companies. Those poor workers would do any job even if they did not have the skills required for it. and as we can see from the story, he did not know how to deal with the machinery which resulted in his injury. This leads to another issue, the right of having a safe working environment with safety equipments. Obviously both contractors were not concern with the well being of their workers. I don’t know if their are any laws regarding this issue. But if there is, there is no one making sure that they are enforced. Who is going to hold those big companies and selfish contractors accountable for whatever happens to their workers? Why not take care of them while medical service in Hamad hospital is free? It wont even cost them a thing. If those simple procedures were conducted and applied, Hamad hospital wont be roaming with so much injuries. Isn’t it enough that they slave all day under the burning sun for few hundreds that they receive at end of the month. (And in many cases their pay is delayed) Which one of us would accept to live in these conditions and get rewarded with only few hundreds? what is few hundreds for us? nothing. I despise those who say “it is nothing for us but a lot for them”. I also loath those who compare their work and living conditions here and in their home countries and believe that its much better to slave here than there. Does the fact that they are poor and unfortunate gives us the right to use them to maximize profit and minimize costs? The blame is not on the worker who ran away from his sponsor. He wouldn’t run away at the first place if he was not already suffering. We have to think of those people, they are just like us. The only difference between us and them is that they were born in unfortunate circumstances. It is not their fault that they were brought into such cruel world. but it is our fault if we make it harder for them. This is just one story, one aspect of cheap labor lost rights. There are maids who have been working in homes for three years and have never been out, one of them said “I have been here for years and don’t even know how city center looks like; I have never been out of the house, never had a break”.

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