Thursday, October 13, 2005

Farah's Sowaleef

From Farooha Sowaleef...
The Everyday Natterings of an Exhausted, Repressed, and Bored "Saudi" Arabian Chick..

Farah's Sowaleef: "Specters of the Abandoned Riyadhian Alleys, AKA. 'there she goes again..'

As I made my daily commute from Northern Riyadh (where I live) to the center, (where college is, also known as Olaisha, or downtown Riyadh), I held my head up and tried my best to do anything but sleep. Which is what I usually do, seeing as it is a 45 minute drive and it is not I who is behind the wheel. What came before me, however, was something I wished I had made note of earlier.

It was the raw and crude Riyadh; Riyadh as it is: sans the lavish villas, sans the state of the art malls, sans the international corporations and banks. The Riyadh that it was in the past, before the world snatched our sleepy Bedouin nation that wasn't as ready as it thought it was, and thrusted it in to the 21st century, where the rest of the civilized world lied. It was the Riyadh that belonged to 1960/1970 Saudi Arabia; the venue on which great Saudi minds flourished."...
It was, in fact, a period where boredom and unemployment was not endemic, where Saudis rolled their sleeves up and did what they had to do for their own selves. It was not wrong for a Saudi man to work as a toileteer (so to speak, as plumber would be an overstatment for "elly yina'9ef al mezagat") My own loving father honorably did that for two years in Gaseem before he moved to Riyadh and then to Seattle. It was also a time where it was not taboo for a girl to walk down the street. I always find myself sighing a sigh of despair when I pitifully compare my life of restriction, distrust, boredom and repression, to what I see in my mother's pictures, "such an enchanting, captivating time it must have been," is all I could always think. I leave you, good people, with the pictures of the alleys I discovered in old Riyadh, my new favorite place in the world, and let your imaginations go wild with the stories that must have once lurked behind them.

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