December 3, 2007

saudi 34

Responding to questions about the "ceremony" for the wedding, there is none. What is
called the wedding is the feast, the celebration of the marriage.

The actual marriage takes place when the father of the bride meets with the groom and
his father and a maazoom, a muslim cleric. The papers are signed. It is a done deal.
Within Islam, the couple could start sleeping together. By Saudi tradition, they are
married, but cannot cohabitate or have sex until the wedding feast. The feast can follow
the paper signing immediately or be put off for years. If the couple decide to not have the
feast, they have to get a legal divorce. Sometimes there is an engagement party, but that
celebrates the soon to be signing of the paper or something like that.

I admit I kept waiting for the culminating moment when the crowd burst into applause.
Nope. Not a local custom. No one stood at a certain time. A great time was had by all!!!!

Another topic:
Someone told me recently that drinking diet soda causes brain damage. Other than the
fact that it rotting my teeth and adding unwanted weight, I had not heard about brain
damage. The broader view, however, proves that my memory (what’s that?) is getting
worse and worse.

This semester I have 80 new students. Egad. Remembering names and faces is so hard. I
wonder if the two are related.

Ironically, the head of the nursing school sent out a paper on improving their memories. I
noticed the first suggestion is to tell yourself to remember it. This is the exact opposite of
my telling myself – oh, crumb, I have to remember all of this.


Wednesday nite I went another dinner theatre. It was hysterical. A British comedy called
"Natural Causes" about an assisted suicide to be performed by a guy from "Exodus".
The meal was very nice. I was going to say quite nice, but my British friends tell me that
"quite good" means not very good.

Anyway, the play was very funny – black humor about death and dying. Hoho

Last night was Thanksgiving. I ordered three turkeys and made 4 loaves of bread worth
of stuffing. I was lots of fun. The rec room on the compound has really taken a beating
though from earlier parties and the compound kids who have treated it harshly. No fridge
anymore and the stove was horrible. It boiled on every setting… At least the gravy was
hot. Not as many people came as last year. One group had a "by invitation only"
Thanksgiving by the pool. Kinda weird,

The meal and the company were terrific. One guy works for Mazolla here in the Middle
East. He brought some presents for people – t-shirt, oil and mayo. First Thanksgiving
I’ve ever attended where there were gifts. I love the cultural mixes here.

Today, my legs ache and I am relieved that soup makers have the carcasses, extra turkey
doled out with a supply for my lunches next week.

The compound chicken
So, I noticed a chicken (live) panting under a tree a few weeks ago. It was not afraid of
me when I walked by. I asked another resident about said chicken. He didn’t know about
it either, except that some of the guys had designs on it. Later, I found out that one of the
assistant managers purchased two chickens. When he butchered the one, he saw a tear go
down the cheek of the other one, so he doesn’t have the heart to butcher it. It is now
named Coo-Coo. It follows his wife as she works about the compound and scratches at
the door if he isn’t out at his normal time to go to work.

The square dancing group put on a demonstration at another compound’s Tday dinner
yesterday afternoon – another reason the day was so hectic. That went well too. I sure do
enjoy square dancing. We have a new group of students who are learning very quicklcy.
One couple is from Minnesota.

School is very busy. There are the regular classes as well as accreditation papers with an
upcoming visit by U.S. officials. This is for U.S. accreditation. That has made classes
longer, so the workload is heavier. I am tired most of the time, but faculty 15 years
younger than I am complain about it, so I guess I’m not doin’ too bad.

November 30
Egad, I’ve been trying to get back to this without much luck.

I recently noticed that all the pick up trucks in Jeddah are white. White with detailing,
white with logos, but white none-the-less. Since I started trying to confirm this discovery,
I have seen a silver pickup with detailing around the box. Then I saw anothing silver one
with the same detailing. It could be the same truck.

A U.S. Congressional delegation was in Jeddah on Wednesday. They visited our school. I
met a very astute woman from John Conyers (D-Michigan) office. I was very proud of
the accomplishments listed in the presentation made about our college. We are making a
difference and will continue to do so.

Our dean said we will open the first driving school for women in S.A. The guys need to
learn how to drive, trust me.

The press is controlled here, but Saudi is making the news worldwide, thus I can keep up
by watching CNN, BBC and MSN. The 200 lashes case is now being discussed in local
media – which means someone has allowed it.

Quite a few of my students are very embarrassed that this has happened. A few thought
she must have done something (adultery) to get this punishment. One report said that she
staged a protest or wrote an open letter demanding that women drive. This means she is
"uppity".

The retired judge who appeared on one of the discussions must be a mutawa – no
headband and a long beard. He talked about protecting the marriage bed for the husband.
Some, he missed, that the marriage bed had already been destroyed by a gang rape. It
takes the pleasure out of being close. And then add 200 lashes (no back) and that further
diminishes the desire to be close to anyone.

Her lawyer is right – this case could help institute the changes in the legal system the
King wants. He has just established a council to protect women’s rights. Within Islam,
women have equal rights with men. It is local cultural traditions which put women in a
submissive, objective position. I have said it is over protection, in many cases. I still
believe that. Anyone who has been overprotected knows how awful that feels.

Anyway, because of the international media attention, I do hope the woman does not
have to serve a sentence or get 200 lashes. Lashing is common here, though. I don’t kow
if they have probation.

On a lighter note, music club has started again. There was a mob scene last week. I feel
overwhelmed. A good feeling though – knowing that the students who play are finding
each other – they can keep the club going.

S of A



at December 3, 2007 5:02 PM