Monday, October 18, 2010

One of the weirdest things I've seen in the Middle East

Living in Syria as a young, blonde white woman with no cute kids around to distract everyone, I got a lot of attention. Not just from giggling schoolgirls wanting to have their picture taken with me, but from the young (and older) men, too. One night after work I was waiting on a street corner to catch a service (minibus) home. Unfortunately, the best place to catch this particular service was right in front of some heavily guarded...something. I never found out what it was but it had something to do with the military. There were always dudes in camo wielding kalashnikovs, loitering outside the fence.

As I stood there that evening, dressed so absurdly modestly in my butt-covering long-sleeved shirt and non-form-fitting pants, I tried to ignore all the catcalls and kissy noises being aimed at me from those gun-toting guards. I just needed to wait there long enough to catch my service and then I wouldn't have to put up with their taunts anymore.

Then my service pulled up, and guess what? It was full of men. There was one seat left, amid the horde of males. I could get on the service and spend the whole ride home being stared at and surrounded by men, or I could continue to wait on that corner and put up with a few more minutes of harassment from those leering guards.

What would you have done?

Personally, I got on the service. It was ever so slightly the lesser of two annoying evils.

What I'm trying to say is that living in the Middle East as an obviously foreign woman sometimes feels a bit like going jogging through a construction site wearing nothing but short shorts and a sports bra. Which brings me to something we saw on Saturday while out and about in Dubai: an obviously foreign woman going jogging wearing nothing but short shorts and a sports bra.

(I post this picture not out of mean-spiritedness but out of sheer incredulity.)

Dear lady, it is bad enough without ACTUALLY running around like that. I can't believe I saw this in a country where, if it weren't for all us dang foreigners, abaya and niqab would be the norm. Definitely one of the weirdest things I've seen in the Middle East, and I include in that assessment that one time I saw two guys wearing ladies' wigs at City Mall in Damascus.

That is all.


Sarah Familia said...

Does it ever make you want to wear an abaya? Would that be considered disrespectful of Islam in Dubai, or would it just look like you were going above and beyond the call of duty to obey the decency laws?

During my mission I do admit to resorting to wearing a gigantic black shapeless trench coat in an area with a particularly large concentration of loitering men . . .

Liz Johnson said...

Do you think she's just an idiot? Or trying to prove some sort of point?

At least she was wearing... a bra? Shorts? Never mind. I was going to cut her some slack, but I'm having trouble finding some to cut.

Merkley Jiating said...

I am reading this on our iPod Touch and so the picture was tiny and I thought she had an Afro. Wow.

Natchel said...

When I clicked on one of the links, a whole bunch of niqabs came up and in the middle of them, came this:

How funny!

Susanne said...

I guess she's just trying to beat the heat and doesn't give a flip what the locals say. They probably like it actually and is why they invite all the foreigners to do so many jobs there.


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