My random thoughts as I sit before this laptop and write/read/browse the internet:
- The single biggest obstacle to living in Saudi Arabia seems to be, at first, the ignorance of spoken Arabic. But it's not that. It is the absence of a social support network, and the challenge is to build it with the people around you, regardless of the language or social class block. If it's a language problem, let your status break the barriers; if it is a social class problem, let your language (shared with the working class Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc) help you get around your tough situations. This is exactly what I am doing. Partly, I am cultivating friendships with Egyptian (Misri), Syrian and Sudanese doctors and Filipino Nurses (at least the latter know English) and partly, with the cleaners, shop-managers, repairers and servants in malls and other establishments here - and believe me, the ice is melting, and the relationships are thawing in the mild afternoon sun here in Al Muweh (pronounced as Mo-ya, not Mu-weh).
- Exploring a small town like Al Muweh does not give any rewards, as the more you explore, the more of the same types of houses and shops you see, with huge tracts of sandy desert in between. if you have seen 10%, you have seen 100% ... it's like that. Over 50% of the shops belong to one of the following categories: restaurant - more like a dhaba, provisions - small shops to larger "2 or 3-door shops", welding shops (the Saudis are crazy about ornamental doors to their houses), car garages (often sponsored by Castrol), hardware-plumbing-stores, Mobile and similar stuff shops, clothes shops (often managed by Sudanese) and finally, carpet and upholstery shops (these are generally huge in size). Once you get these 7-8 categories out, there are a hundred other types of ikka-dukka shops like shops that sell gas, shops that bake khubs and sell them at a rate of 5 for just SR 1:00, shops that sell motor oils, petrol pumps, and so on.
- Saudi children move all around the town in groups, playing with the currently fashionable toy (right now, it is a two-ball toy attached to strings which they swing from their hands and create sounds as the two balls hit each other). They may play with a football at times, or just hang around in the neighbourhood, or be seen driving their family cars or SUVs with a gloating expression on their faces. The older ones will leave the streets at the time of prayer, but the under-7s will often continue to remain on the roads even when the muezzins are calling for the farad prayers at Maghreb or Ishaa.
- If you calculate the price of something you are buying in terms of Indian rupees, you will never buy anything! For example, a small galabund or muffler is SR 10, and Mobily's net connect modem is SR 180. You will be stopped dead in your tracks if you multiply those figures by 14 ... and yet, the prices are okay, Saudi currency-wise.
I think I will end this here ... more thoughts when I write next. Thanks for reading these random thoughts. I am sure many of you are learning something, and many are wondering what I am writing all this for. I respect your comments and thoughts, so please add them here, even if you want to criticise me.
Thank you once again.