I used to think that the anonymity this blog afforded me would be liberating. I thought, when I started this blog off, that I’d be able to express myself better with a clean, unbiased slate. Turns out I was kind of, sort of, wrong. I thought that the place I live, the place I am from and the lesser details of my current situation do not describe me, but I guess that, to a certain extent, they do. I am itching to write about certain things, but I have to stop myself, thinking, ‘dude, this’ll blow my cover’. I know I’ve already given away a lot via comments and all, but just think of this as a proper re-introduction.
I am Pakistani girl, brought up in Saudi Arabia. I’ve lived here my entire life, save summers spent in the even worse heat of Karachi, Pakistan. I love it here. I know there are those who read ‘Saudi Arabia’ and immediately imagine sand dunes and dusty parched streets, with camels wandering here and there. You might imagine a land of hostility, restrictions, and crappy internet speeds. (You’d be right about the crappy internet, though) I want to let people know the country I know. It’s beautiful here, no matter if you’re standing in the middle of the desert outside town with its impossibly vast horizons, or in the city with it’s neat, immaculately landscaped greenery, or at the beach, watching the sun set into the Red Sea. And about the restrictions, it’s not a big deal. You can go out, have fun as long as you’re wearing an abaya (the black cloak that famously symbolizes Islamic ‘oppression’) But whatever, dude. It’s not a bad thing, you realize once you get here. You immediately feel safe from ogling eyes, and there are lots of pretty patterns and designs to choose from. It’s a different lifestyle, but good different.
The town I live in in particular is, like, the best place to grow up. I had an idyllic childhood. I went to a good school and spent all day outdoors. It’s really safe around here so our parents never worried. The residential areas were full of cool places to hang out. We had a bike ‘gang’ and we’d roam around the neighborhood and do stupid stuff. Once we even found this abandoned swimming pool. No one knew it was there till we kicked down the rotting wooden door in the wall surrounding it. I was sure I’d see someone die that day. My brother and friend, idiots that they were, lowered their bikes down into the shallow end of the pool, and raced down the slope. I was like, ‘this is it. I’m going to remember this day as the day I watched someone die.’ I was certain they’d slam into the wall at the end of the pool which was barely 6 feet away from the end of the slope. They didn’t and I was laughed at. Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah. Me.
I got a great education living here, and since the school I went to was an American international school, there were people from all over the world studying side-by-side with me. I lived the ideal model of racial integration. It was a small school so we were all pretty close. There, we were all family. It was after I left that I found out about class hierarchies and racism and prejudices. Talk about disillusionment. I used to think that the aggressiveness of American high school life was greatly exaggerated…until I watched Dr. Phil. Don’t ask why, but the fact that people talked about it on his show made it official.
Not that there aren’t problems here. I’ve heard from my brothers about Saudi kids bullying non-Saudis but it’s pretty rare now. Saudi guys make friends easily with outsiders. Non-Saudi guys usually learn Arabic by interacting with them. I’ve heard they’re a nice bunch. It’s the girls who don’t mingle. Not because of any prejudices or hostility, but because of a lack of willpower, on both sides, to learn the other’s language. We see them at malls, chatting with their friends, dressed like us and everything, yet we are never able to communicate with them. We don’t learn Arabic, they don’t know English. We’re happy in our bubble, they seem happy too. Though the few Saudis I do know (they all speak English) are amazing people. This one girl I was talking to turned out to have watched KOREAN DRAMAS. Plus she listened to all the same bands I did and read a lot of the mainstream books I did. I hugged her. I was so happy.
So yeah, I think I’ve gotten the best of both worlds here. I’m able to stay attached to my roots, learn about not only Saudi culture, but others as well, and yet have an educated, open-minded lookout of the world. I feel thankful for all the good things I have here; the kind people, the close friends, the pool parties, McDonalds, etc. (Yes, I have a special thing for McD’s since it was the first fast-food restaurant here. Of course now we have a proper mall with all the generic brand shops) 😀 THE END