Saudi Moments

A few whimsical memories of my time living in KSA. It wasn’t all bad!!

  • Passing a spice shop and taking a breath of cardamon and cinnamon then a second later catching a whiff of the sewer.
  • Buying an ice cream because the print shop man isn’t back from prayer yet; sitting on the baking dusty pavement to eat it with a black scarf lowered over the head to the nose, a reverse of the Saudi women who show their eyes but no mouth.
  • Crossing the path of a tradesman and him stopping a full three metres away to let you pass; crossing the path of young boys playing on the street and the eldest boy pulling the younger ones off until you pass.
  • Waiting outside a fast-food joint closed for prayer, sitting right on its doorstep to be first in line, but by the time you get to the cashier, a mob of Saudi women have pushed in front. They literally push you aside.
  • Waiting in an upmarket store to be served but unable to tell who is staff and who is a customer because they’re all covered, all chatting, all holding phones, all ignoring you; giving up and walking out.
  • A huge bright pink sun sinking below the horizon in seconds.
  • Waiting outside a men’s-only restaurant and noticing for the first time a red sign, which has the lower green half covered in white plastic and thinking it is probably a sign that says: Men Allowed, with the Women Allowed part blanked out, and then moving from your stance behind a pillar to sit on the step directly below the sign.
  • Talking to a young Filipino nurse who’s been here only five months, knowing she can’t home for 19 months.
  • Thinking it’s cool when it’s only 40 C.
  • A slither of a silver moon hanging above old buildings on a still hot night.
  • Gorgeous giggling children riding around in supermarket trolleys; staring at you with wide eyes.
Saudi white camels
Opposite the college where I worked.

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