March 17, 2009

Saudilogue 41

Saudilogue 41

In an hour I go to the hospital for cataract surgery on my right eye. I am looking forward
to more balanced vision.

A rather humorous situation arose during one of my presurgical visits. As you know,
there are ladies sections everywhere because men and women are segregated. So, I
arrived for my appointment and sat in the ladies section. I am usually the only westerner
at this hospital… and I don’t cover my head, though I have a scarf with me if I need to do
so. Anyway, another couple ladies came into the area, saw me and decided to sit outside
in what usually is the men’s section. Then a guy showed up and had to chose whether he
should sit with the covered ladies or me.

So, now we’ve got a guy sitting in the women’s section and two women sitting in the
men’s section. A third lady showed up and was about to join me in the women’s section,
saw the guy, then backed out at looked at the wall to see if there was a sign.

About 15 minutes later, the guy was called by the nurse. Meanwhile the incoming men
and women had no idea where to sit. That’s the problem with over control, I guess..

I am on Hajj break. We are off until December 14. (It is now February 27. No wonder I
am getting are you alive e-mails from people.)

Back from surgery. Last time my eyesight in the bad eye was immediately much better.
This time the repaired eye is cloudy, but every hour is better.

As they were getting me ready for surgery, the staff asked where I was from. America,
says I. What about that Obama, they said. You bet, says I. Woo-Woo. Says I. They were
quite happy.

Except for Pakistanis who fear a US invasion under Obama, everyone else is quite happy
to have a change in administrations. I understand from talking to some folks in the US
that there is some kind of fear of Obama. Outside the US the joy is universal. It’s fun
being proud to be an American again. Really.

I’ve never been a raging patriot, but see that the US can be more of what many of us hope
it will be more of what it can be: equal opportunities, life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness (without driving over the top of other citizens.)

I bought some little lights and some decorations. Now all I want to get is either a palm
tree or Norway pine to decorate…

Christmas has come and gone. Same with New Years. Jake turned 22 and I turn 62
tomorrow.. 62. That’s a concept.

Here, the King appointed the first woman to one of his councils. A good move. And for
every step forward there is one backwards – when the Grand Mufti said it was just fine
for 10-12 year old girls to marry old men. My students were more upset than I was.

Our semester ended, finally. My director went to the States for a conference leaving me
as acting director for a week and a day. My signature is now permanently changed.
OMG I have never signed so many papers.

Over break I helped chaperone a trip to TAIF up in the mountains. It was beautiful and
very cold. Windy, too. There were cable cars. Ugh. I do not do cable cars or towers – just
ask my sister. So I gleefully stayed on top while the rest of them went off into the blue.

The girls sang most of the way from Jeddah to Taif. To me the interesting part was the
sharing of national anthems. I rather blew the Star Spangled banner, but received a round
of applause.

Been watching Obama’s first month. He’s sure trying hard. The Republicants (as my Dad
called them) haven’t said a positive thing about anything since he was elected, except the
three moderate Republicans who understand comprimise and that the tired old ideas
didn’t work.. Look what happened.

The winter (giggle) has been very nice. I haven’t spent much time on the patio of my new
villa because the mosquitos have been fierce.

Security is very tight as Saudi asked Interpol to help find 85 terrorists on the loose who
have threatened violence again foreigners in Yemen and the government of Saudi.
Nothing has happened, and God willing, it won’t.

I’ve made my flight arrangements for this summer – arriving in MPS on July 12. I’ll stay
with Jen for a few days, then drive home to Cloquet.

If I get my act in gear I will send some photos. The other exciting thing this week was
going to the Afghan souk. I bought some beautiful carpets and wall hangings. The
maintenance guys from the compound help put them up on the walls. I am very pleased,
but am sneezing a lot. I think from the dust. Pa-choo.

So, that’s is from the Middle East.

Hugs: S of A n A

at March 17, 2009 8:58 AM