Dec. 30th, 2014

ibidbroascele: (Default)
Probably the biggest thing I dislike about this country is the goldfish bowl aspect. Except for going to the souk where one may people watch happily for hours(an activity alas which taxi fares prohibit too often) it's not really a culture for a westerner, certainly not a female, to walk around in.
http://www.thecultureist.com/2012/12/12/expat-women-in-saudi-arabia-compound/
 There is a most telling quote at then end of this article

"I thought back to the conversation I had with a fifteen-year old Russian girl in our compound, who was born in Jubail and has never left except for yearly holidays back to St. Petersburg. “I don’t like Russia,” she confided. “There are too many people, too many cars, and they are all scary. It’s not safe out there, you know?” She then excused herself to go to meet a friend, running down the street of this picturesque village, an ersatz version of safety, a mirage of the real world."

I don't know how much of it is cultural and how much is to do with wealth. Women have never played a public role in this society, even in public the veil is a visible reminder of the internal privacy in which they are kept. And as previously noted family and tribe are everything. Most people only socialise and have fun within the family sphere. When I talk to my girls about what they like about Riyadh, they answer 'it's safe'.
I suppose it is, crime is low and they never have to go outside, they have their cars and malls. They never have to deal with what I really want to deal with - life.
I miss Life. I miss seeing corpses on the metro in Moscow, I miss the pang of sympathy upon seeing the disabled beggers of Bucharest and the frisson of fear at the packs of dogs. I miss the grannies selling flowers all over Eastern Europe, I miss the markets of Japan, the bustle of the city. I even miss feeling annoyed at the drunks coming out of British pubs on Friday and Saturday! I miss just walking on the street without it being slightly taboo, fishing for change for the bus, avoiding dog poo. I miss dirt and hurly burly.
But it makes me reflect on wealth and why it has this deadening effect. Why is it when people get rich they want to isolate themselves. It makes me wonder when I see the nice identikit houses to which the middle classes of the UK aspire, although at least they are not gated, that is for the really rich. Why do the wealthy wish to keep life out? Obviously there are security elements but i simply cannot understand why someone would eschew real life for beige banality.

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