Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why Saudi is Sucky.

Reasons why I would prefer living almost anywhere else in the world instead of my current  whereabouts… Putting aside all the obvious reasons and delving into the abyss, I will try and unearth a mushy center (if one exists).

Extremism

I was going to title this one religion but opted out since 'extremism' is way more accurate. Either way, extremism isn't just apparent in the fact that there is such a thing as "religious police" or the fact that, as a female, I have to cover whenever I leave the house or the fact that I cannot go to a college, get a job, or leave the country without a signed document from my male "guardian" granting me the permission to do so. It's more in the fact that although the country has different religious sects, it acknowledges none and actually tries to stamp out their presence and forces the dominant sect's followings on these minorities through school, in the workplace, and such. The country officially does not recognize the existence of other sectors even though there are large communities with their Hussainiyah's (what Shia's mosques are called) all over the Kingdom.

Religious Brainwashing and Propaganda (AKA Education)

Religion dominates everything, whether it is Science or Math or even Art. It has come to my attention recently that objective truths such as the formation of mountains or volcanoes are not perceived as scientific truths but God's will. Needless to say, evolutionary theory and similar concepts are not taught but merely mentioned as being ridiculous and condemning those that believe in them. During the 12 years of school, one would have to study an average of 2 Islamic subjects during elementary school and then around 4 in the higher levels. In college, there are four Islamic courses taught by mindless draconian drones that are considered mandatory by the Ministry of Higher Education to acquiring a college degree. In order to express the crazy that is these Islamic courses, I've drawn up two scenarios:

Exhibit A, having your parents condemned in class because they sent you to an International school and then, claiming that knowledge of the Arabic language is important in order to be "Muslim" otherwise you'll suffer eternal damnation. Blatantly ignoring the fact that Arabs only make 20% of Muslims in the world.

Exhibit B, having an instructor (with a BA and MA) who is married (relevant) say in class that it is okay for a husband to hit his wife if she oversteps religious boundaries as long as it's not on the face because, and I quote, "The face is where a person's dignity lies." I don't know about her, but my dignity kinda lies in my whole body. 

Emphasis is put on women staying at home and the men providing for them. Women aren't really encouraged to work and they only make around 20% of the work force whereas men are at 80%. This might be partly due to the fact that "mixed" work environments are considered blasphemous even though they do exist but women aren't encouraged from participating in such an environment. This most probably is attributed to the idea that women are seen as evil demonic seductresses and "it's never the man's fault if he can't control himself which is why God allows him to marry up to four wives." If you actually go back to the Quranic text on that part, it states that men can only marry four if they can treat them equally and goes on to say that they will never be able to… if anything, this can be interpreted in many ways but the way I see it is the patriarchal society I live in chooses to see it in their privilege as it does most religious things.

Culture

I have yet to comprehend why I have chosen to divide the 'religion' reason from the 'culture' section seeing as the Saudi culture is governed solely by Islam but I will attempt to dissect the culture from the religion (or propaganda - perspective, perspective) that is shoved down our throats by the mindless, preaching stormtroopers common in my community. Moving past that, as an individual in a collectivist society it is hard to get beyond the interests of the group and focus on your own. The problem is, as it is always with anti-conformity, going against a group of somewhat homogeneous people will result in you becoming a target… and hate on you, they shall, like an child-eating ogre.

If what you decide to do as a female goes against the housewife agenda that is planned out for you from birth and on that plan, at 21 years of age (a little late, some might say), your main goal is to "put yourself out there" which means socialize with families from your same social class that are, but not necessarily, extremely well-off and have single men that you could make a good wife for. Continuing education or getting a job are seen as just distractions or opportunities for you to exploit (to further your evil mastermind plan of getting married), never should you ever take them seriously even in the event that things don't actually work out. 

Traditionalism/Tribalism

Another point to make is, your value as a person is directly related to the degree of conformance you have to the expectations of society especially to family members. Unconditional love is quite unheard of. To elaborate on this point, my paternal aunt would not speak to my male cousin for the first two years of his marriage solely because he chose to marry a girl that did not belong to a tribe and that is seen as lowering your social status as well as your family's. You're perceived as selfish and inconsiderate for drawing that kind of negative association, when you're really just not being racist.

Independence

I won't tackle the issue of not being able to drive or do anything officially without a guardian's permission however, it absolutely irks me that the simplest things that are taken for granted abroad are things that I cannot do either due to law or fear of being ostracized by society at large. Things like taking a walk to the store because a woman walking in the street is considered blasphemous. Going out for a drive (with the driver) because that's just asking for trouble. On the other hand, the second you are accompanied by a chaperone, you can stay out all night and do whatever the hell you want. Because logic.
It doesn't matter how old you are if you are female in Saudi, you'll never be fully independent and it doesn't matter how old you are if you are a male in Saudi, you'll not only be independent but you have absolute control over most  of the females in your family.

Privileged Masses (Class Clash)

The class clash is an issue that exists in many societies yet never as noticeable as in the Saudi one. 
Cold facts: 
- Upper class are too privileged to notice or care about anything that actually goes on in this country and couldn't be bothered less with doing anything about it.
- Middle class are getting the short end of the stick, not quite privileged enough to get the numbing sensation but not quite living on nothing so they're just stuck in between but mostly trying to get to the social status of one in the upper class. (Probably the reason why more than half this country is in debt)
- Lower class has rampant poverty (without any exaggeration, this oil rich country suffers from about 30% of poverty-ridden homes - side note: a video was made by two young Saudi bloggers regarding this and they were actually arrested and interrogated for spreading false information). 
The former points sum up the social class rule quite sufficiently.

Government/Political Freedom/Corruption

As an absolute Islamic monarchy, citizens don't have much of a say but they do have the illusion of involvement with the existence of pointless bodies such as the Consultative Assembly which is what its name depicts, merely a suggestive body with no actual authority on making decisions. With the municipal elections, it was an attempt to bring a more democratic approach to things but at the end of the day, these elections were not only a waste of time but the elected council never actually got to do anything and the second term election was delayed. Aside from all that, women were actually denied voting rights after there was a small protest regarding this.

Most high-ranking government officials (ministers, etc.) are appointed by the government. This decision can be revoked out of the blue if necessary and a person from a completely different field can be given this position because not only is nepotism strong but so is complete disregard to existing workplace systems/environments. That said, bribery is key.

Money laundering exists in just about every governmental project ever undertaken.  Not only that but these projects never get finished because the amount of money taken is too much and since budget plans are done on a yearly basis, project is either put on hold till then or finished up cheaply by taking out big chunks of the original plan. These projects are streets, highways, airports, even a sewage system which actually has caused cities like Riyadh and Jeddah to flood with a death toll of around 100 people.

(Faux) Patriotism

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia literally means The Arab Kingdom of Saud, which basically means that they, Al Saud, own the county and its citizens. It's really no surprise seeing as that is how they act. It's really hard from a pride perspective to be proud of something that at the end of the day doesn't seem like it belongs to you or that you have any right to. Hence why all patriotism in this country is 100% fake. Sure on the National Day people leave their houses all dressed up in green, waving flags, and playing music in the street but since when does that depict patriotism? Surely when a person cares about something, they want that thing/person to be better and thus they try to improve it in any way they can but how is it possible to do so when not only is freedom of speech prohibited but so is being allowed to constructively criticize anything!

In summation, Saudi Arabia is almost a practical application of the story 1984. Except it's the year 1433 Hijra.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Disheartenment

I don't know what else I can do that I haven't already done. I don't know what it is that would make you mine again. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Reason Why - A Love Letter

The other day in a moment of self-doubt and weakness, I got to thinking why do I love you as I do? I expected a hollow answer with barely an echo. Why am I attached to you so? How is it that I cannot fathom my existence without yours? These questions bought on a quiescent passion that shot the little doubts I had down.

The letter is what followed my underestimated infatuation with you:

Dear SB-

You are one of the most accomplished, successful people that I know. That would be an excellent reason to love you yet despite that, it's not why I love you. You are a great person with an even greater personality but yet again, not the reason to my unconditional love to you.

It's a silly answer but the reason why I love you so much is that regardless of all the things that you are and all the things you've achieved, you have a concealed soft side that I absolutely love. A gooey caramel filling to a chocolate, if you will. This mushy center needs me and I need it back fervently.

I honestly don't care about all the other stuff. It doesn't matter. The insides always do, though.

I love you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

C'est l'amour.

I never quite understood how people can spare their loved ones upsetting matters for the sake of their happiness. I am a very open person with those around me yet sometimes, no matter how much I want to, I choose to keep troubling issues to myself. We all have some kind of coping mechanism that we use to deal with all the dark matter inside and around us that usually doesn't change depending on who we're with.

The main reason why I stopped sharing is because I don't like to upset those I love. Apparently, I have been deluded before in thinking that whatever affects me won't affect those nearby. Upon that realization, I became even more blue and completely shut off.

My logical self doesn't approve of asking for help in matters that nobody really has a hand in or can provide a solution. It seems irrelevant to share. I don't like people complaining because it's an unnecessary waste of time that could be spent changing whatever it is they're complaining about. And, if it cannot be changed or helped - then it be best to move on.

On a completely evolutionary level, I don't like feeling vulnerable. No matter how confident one can be, he/she can never truly feel secure about sharing the black holes in our soul, mind, or heart especially with those that mean the most to us.

After this long process of cognizance, it dawned on me that this is what love is really all about. Selfless sacrifice of your sadness for their smiles and spirit.

So please, don't let me down.*

*As I was writing this up, Don't Let Me Down by The Beatles played on my iTunes. 

Saturday, November 05, 2011

What winter days waken...

Reuniting with a best friend after a long time apart is like greeting winter after a scorching summer. I know it might feel like the contrary to some but I feel the need to cool off after a hot and hazy summer, metaphorically speaking.

Every time the air gets a little bit cooler, the sky somewhat more gray, and the wind has a little bit of edge I remember the days when I was younger; I always get a memory of vague schooldays and my best friend.

Winter brings an air of deep melancholy everyone wallows through. I like to believe it's the grayness of the weather, the lack of warmth, and cuddly clothing that makes us feel so alone.

I spent the whole day sitting outside and pouring my heart out to my best friend. To say I feel better would be the epitome of an understatement. I feel better but much worse because only when you say something aloud to another person does it really ring in your head how true it is. And everything is surreal.

How things were and how things are leaves me distraught.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rosy Pink Memories

Life is full of little moments that reminds us of something in our pasts. Whether it comes in the form of a song, picture, piece of writing, or something even more vague like a scent, a color, a place. For some reason, however odd it may be, our subconscious chooses to associate certain feelings with those little fragments of our past.

And for other reasons, albeit unknown to me, my mind chooses to remember only the positives of any one association. To the extent that every single time I reminisce, everything comes up rosy and nice. Now I know that sounds inanely delusional but I have come to see the reason behind it - or my presumed reason seeing as I really can never know (ignore the psychological babble). I have created a mechanism, one may call it defensive if they choose, however I see it as completely practical in order for one to enjoy life. Imagine every time I came across a song that reminded me of someone in my past and it would bring up all these negative memories and, consequently, I would get angry, hurt, upset, or any other blue feeling. I wouldn't get to enjoy the song and that part of my day (obviously, not the whole day) would get ruined! So instead, I chose to remember all the good things and associate the memories with happiness. (there must've been happiness somewhere, am I right?)

As a result, I get to indulge merrily on my past and enjoy my song or whatever it is I was doing. I know this is full to the brim with cheesiness so I'll get my angry persona out and use that to convince you instead.

Why should I not get to listen to my favorite music (or any other activity) just because it reminds me of a terrible time/place/person? Seriously, that wouldn't be fair. I would get even more angrier that even while that phase/time/person is gone, I'm still, in a way, paying for it.

Well, guess what? I'm not going to pay for anything. I'm going to enjoy my music and make that memory, regardless of whatever it is, PINK AND ROSY! I'll make it do my bidding.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Little things..

There is a lot of chaos in our daily lives that we have gotten accustomed to dealing with. Waking up late, forgetting to hand in an assignment, spilling coffee, and so on.

Half of the time, the best and most memorable things that we applaud the arrival of are the little things that unexpectedly make up our day. I'm going to think of the little things that I'm grateful for each day...

1. A cup of perfectly-made coffee.
2. A good "opening" song for a long car ride.
3. The baby peeking into my room to check if I'm awake.
4. Morning gossip with the Mother.
5. A late night movie after a long exhausting day with my sister.
6. A spontaneous text from someone special.
7. Reading a quite gripping chapter.
8. Discovering a great band.
9. Reading something you've written a long time ago and smiling because you remember how you felt.
10. Political, historical, or random discussions with the Father.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Derelict ships

Image Source

I miss you.

In this day and age, cliché but appropriate, technology really minimizes distance. I appreciate it yet loathe it even more. Bipolar but completely rational.

I hate BBM and I hate communicating with you through it. Ironically, it turns us into such haters. Hating on our social circle or -to put it correctly, social circles of the past- isn't quite fun anymore. It makes us petty and shallow. Long gone were the days when we would be critical and fair not just attacking and judging their actions.

I do understand people grow up and move on but it is quite difficult to do that when you are in exactly the same place, surrounded by almost the same people.

Socializing was always deemed to be the problem yet I cannot for the life of me determine how to go on about it.

Nostalgia is what saddens me most out of all this. Our teenage memories full of frivolous fun, cake, and little themed outings is what I yearn for. Our long midnight phone calls which would resolve everything by the end of it is what I miss the most.

Simply put, our friendship. The one that we had is what we have now lost. We still have a bond that is somewhat unbreakable but for some reason, not a friendship.

I guess life got in the way...

P.S. I'm still grateful for you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Midnight Ponders.

When it comes to self-evaluation, I'm not shy. In fact, when appropriate, I will mention my strengths to others. I am proud and grateful of my, if I may say, many attributes. My weaknesses, however, are just that. Utterly weak. I am fully aware of them yet will never speak a word about them to anybody, regardless of how close.

I don't want to delve into my weaknesses and recount situations that affected me and whatnot. I only want to discuss one little weakness.

Love. Maybe not so little...
I honestly do not know whether to speak about how great it is or how it has affected me in more ways than I can ever count.

I have been in love for a little over a year and a half and as much as it has made me unbelievably happy and in love with everything around me, it has made me realize how weak and vulnerable I am.

I cannot move on with my day without him. I try to sync our schedules together. Even if we don't talk, we have to be awake at the same times. I understand that this might imply a lot of different things like how needy I am, etc. But you are just going to have to trust me on this. It is just so that I can feel we are together. I wake him up when I wake up and he does the same just so we can feel like a real couple. We talk while having dinner just like we would if we were really sitting across from each other. There is a lot of mixing and matching but it works. We do not even have to try that hard! It comes easily...

Keep in mind he doesn't live in the same city so we really cannot see each other that often.

My issue is when we travel. He might come for a weekend, get busy with family and friends. Or when I go on vacation with family, I don't have a lot of free time and cannot really "spend" time with him.

It beyond breaks my heart. I do realize how minor an issue this may seem but to me, it really is a big deal. I do not really have that many people around nor that close and it IS an issue when we are not available for each other. It saddens me beyond belief. It makes me go back to the core of it all, sharing a phone call. Not a life together, not a house, and not anything official.

It seems like I have reached a bottleneck and just cannot budge through it. I do not want to live this life of routine and family pressure. I do not want to have a telephone line connecting us. I want to give everything up and move far far away. With him.

(Note: We are on the way. It just takes time to settle things.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Something Different.


Trying my hand at writing something different, to gain experience and whatnot from different writing styles, I will be contributing to this blog.
I have already written a post and will, hopefully, continue writing here & there.

Please give it a look and maybe some feedback?

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