Sunday, September 28, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Monday, September 22, 2014
Cleaning out my email inbox I found this Facebook exchange/discussion from July 2013. Seeing it again today made me ponder how our new location plays into the equation because I’m still in a cheap labor, caste system economy but living in a expat compound that counters that economy. Cultures are fascinating to me.
I think it may put me in the bad wife category that MY MAID reminded me that my wedding anniversary is in two days. I completely forgot. The good news? Brian appeared to be just as surprised as me when he saw it coming up on the calendar next week. We are pitiful. But still happily in love.
This is the reply from Angela Clayton that really puts life in perspective. Angela wrote: "I was reading in The Rational Optimist about this phenomenon. Asian cultures were built on the assumption of cheap labor but western cultures (specifically an offshoot of England) were built on using innovation and technology to eliminate the reliance on cheap labor. In the US or Australia, everything is built to be easier to do because you do it all yourself. In Asia it is the opposite. Low cost labor is cheaper than automation. Now that we are back in the states with no maid after two years of a live in, it is incredibly easy here. Costco is a far more efficient cook. Walmart is my domestic helper. And I have carpet that doesn't require daily mopping to look good. My washing machine is much bigger here and I can dry things in the dryer without having to empty the water out. I can put my dry cleaning on the porch in a bag and it will be picked up and returned to me. I have cold water and ice built right into the refrigerator door, and I have a second fridge to store even more things. Foods here in the US last a lot longer so I can shop less often. These conveniences make life far easier than having maid did."
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Saturday, September 20, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Thursday, September 11, 2014
"Hello Ma'am. This is So-And-So from Such-And-Such. I am calling regarding a note from Mr. Brian. I have tried to contact him and I think that he is too busy to pick up my call. This leaves me no choice but to talk to you. Is that okay?"
Seriously? I'm American. Yeah. You can talk to me about the size of the microwave in the house.
Side Note: We asked for a bigger one because it's so small a dinner plate fits but the splatter cover on top doesn't. We're feeding a family of 6. It's a bit undersized for this crowd. When the guy arrived he said, "Oh my God! That is ridiculous. And you have a big family. No, no, no. I brought the biggest one I can buy for you." We're all set with a nice microwave now.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Friday, September 5, 2014
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
The abaya has been a two edged sword so far.
We hadn't gone anywhere or done anything since we moved here and were heading to the mall shopping one day. I thought, "I've done the ironing and I have a few nice shirts ready to go. I feel like looking nicer than old gym clothes today. I'll dress up." I got on some earrings and cute shorts. Then I realized it was a total waste of my ironing to wear it that day. We were heading into public which means I would have to be covered the entire day. I would just sweat and wrinkle it all up. So I threw on a t-shirt and long pants and off we went. The abaya has completely destroyed any internal drive to try to look good or pick out a nice outfit. And if you know me, that desire was often low anyway.
We had been told the kids will love some of the local food here called shwarmas. Fresh off the boat newbies that we are we decided to give it a go. We called the driver and went to the only place we had noticed where we could probably get some because it had in enormous letters on the side of the building that said "SHWARMA." Pretty safe bet. We went in the family entrance and it was pretty apparent it was a much nicer place than we had bargained for. Luckily Brian was still in a nice button up shirt and slacks from work. The kids were in t-shirts and such but kids sort of get a pass all the time anyway. I however had a neon orange running shirt and super old shorts I had nabbed from someone's salvation army donation box 10 years ago...BUT I also had an abaya. So no one was the wiser I was woefully underdressed for a fancy pants restaurant like that. Plus, families eat in booths and draw a curtain so you are fully isolated from the world. Score one for the abaya!
I wear an abaya. It is basically an all black, very long, flowy dress. It covers from the neck to the floor and to my wrists. It should not reveal the form of a woman so they are all very loose. The abaya the company gave me at the airport when I arrived has a small amount of pretty deep red embroidery on it and a few sequins. I must also carry with me a black head scarf at all times which I drape over my shoulders. I am told that I live in a more liberal part of Saudi so I don't need to cover my hair but if the religious police ever approach me and ask me to cover I need to be ready. It doesn't happen often but it does happen. Mine doesn't close properly in front so below the knee my leg shows. I need to get a zipper to make it properly or maybe a few more buttons but for now I just wear long pants until I can find a tailor or a fabric store.
Other pieces of the Islamic wardrobe are the hijab which we saw day in and day out in Singapore. I had many friends who wore this. In fact many people work the abaya in Singapore but in beautiful colors and patterns.
I told Brian last spring as we anticipated coming here that I could process the idea of covering up much more easily if they would just let me wear pretty prints and colors because the Singaporean women had some gorgeous things I would have loved to buy. In retrospect it's probably best for me to have an all black abaya selection. Otherwise I would amass a whole wardrobe of "pretty" abayas and hijabs that I would never be able to use anywhere else.