Monday, July 03, 2006

dreams, day dreams, and hallucinations

Sunday July 2, 2006

5 city girls arrived at the clinic today to "apply for jobs." Rumors spread among women like a real live game of "Telephone Kharban" (for the non-Arabs, Chinese Whispers or Broken Operator: No matter what you call it, the sentence at the end of the round has no relation whatsoever to the one you begin with). Did I mention that one girl actually asked me: "Is it true that if you tape record our interview, my chances of getting a job are higher?" What do you say to that other than, "AHAHHAHAHA." No... I didn’t laugh in her face, but is this for real?

Little things like that make me laugh here. Other things that make me laugh: the little boy wearing a "50 Cent" baseball cap; the crushed Mountain Dew cans and bottles in the streets (Why Mountain Dew? What happened to 7UP?); and the loops sewn into the women’s abayas so that they can put their thumbs through (this way their sleeves won’t roll down if they lift their arms up).

In other news, the cute little girl who said she would sew a pair of pink pants if she ever became a tailor, returned to the clinic today. She sat next to me with a shy smile and asked if she could amend her answer to my question about desired profession; she wanted to add "hairdresser" and "doctor" to her list. Later in the afternoon, I visited a school "for the erasure of illiteracy," which was offering summer classes to older women and to girls of all ages. The 23 of us sat in one classroom as the 2 teachers gave lessons in Qur’an (Surat Al-Feel), reading (the Arabic letter Z), and math ( I skipped that lesson :P). The classroom is like those you see in BBC reports on schoolchildren in Afghanistan or Ghana: just chairs and desks and a chalkboard (and air conditioning). It is located in the middle of the desert, between the sand dunes and the rubble. And yet the women arrive buzzing with life: they sip coffee, pass around chocolates and dates, and repeat the lesson after the professor just like we did in elementary school in Jeddah. To one corner there is a display of Jizani artifacts, as well as a desk cluttered with arts and crafts. They are dedicated, motivated and on a quest to be their best. (Ignore that last bit, I think I just recited the Tang Soo Do creed of honor, except that that one begins with "We are a black belt school"). Time will tell if these women will get the opportunities to realize their dreams.

But back to me and MY dreams (no time for modesty right now ;) If you want to learn about these women I’ll send you my thesis after the 1st of September inshallah!) All I dreamt of at the end of this hot and humid day was to go back to the camp and lie on my couch. The novelty of the face veil wore off today when I was in the archaeological museum and could hardly see straight because it was so hot. And yet, the exhibit was so interesting, how to take it in and not evaporate in the heat? The solution: take it home with me. I busted out my loyal camera (thanks to Soomi-doodle for lending me her charger) and started shooting away at pictures, texts, reconstructions, everything. I went home and downloaded all the info on to my laptop to zoom in on and read once I regain my strength.


Monday July 3, 2006
I dragged myself out of bed. I shoved cereal into my mouth. I dragged myself to the clinic and I pressed my eyes to stay open. Today was slow. And I was itching to meet my target of 40 (total surveys collected from the beginning of the week) so that I could get home. When I finally hit my target I also hit my wall. I rushed out, wanting to kick my heels in the air, but I was so lethargic that I just did that in my head. Funny enough, Ahmad was also not feeling it today and was just about to dial my number to see if I was done, when I sent the nurse to the men’s section to get him. We headed back to the camp, stopping along the way to watch camels convene around a bush in the desert landscape. Unfortunately, we were too far away to get a good photo and we feared we’d get stuck in the sand if we went by car. But they were mesmerizing and we were mesmerized. Either that or we were just plain sleepy.

My blogspot is poorly named. I have not had shrimp once here since my arrival. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I had shrimp. Also, hardly any women here eat shrimp and, if they do, only rarely. (I asked them: it’s one of the questions on my survey!) My blogspot should be renamed to "I heart AC." Today, the AC in my port-a-cabin is working very poorly, so I have escaped to the computer room to type while the technician sorts out the problem. Then I think I'll take a nap because I feel like I'm typing nonsense, which I probably am. Faisal and Baba, will you take me out for sushi when I get back? Mama, you could order your salmon teriyaki...

...left only 3 days left only 3 days left only 3 days left only 3 days left only 3 days lef...

4 comments:

Hyewon said...

a city girl to "apply for jobs". that's me, babe! :) From now on, think if today's the last day, then what would you do today? It's so hot here too but I'm enjoying it. Paul was great yesterday! kiss kiss!

amna said...

Baby, I just started checking your blog today, and I have to say how amazing it is to read about how you are coping in a situation and a place that most of us "Jeddah girls" could never survive in! You amaze me, inspire me, and teach me everyday. I love you and i'm so proud of you. I will be checking in daily from now on. Talk to you soon xx

Rabya said...

Noura, I love how you sail through the challenges with total clarity. Your experience is amazing and inspiring. Carrying out qualitative market research projects, even in a city like Jeddah, exposes huge social/cultural differences within Saudi society... even when it is consumer research from my experience. So getting a look into Jizany lives is truly a gift.

Wishing you all the best.
Love, Rabya

Janelle said...

I heart AC. lol! Oh Noura, you make me feel guilty for not working harder...

IT began as a field diary for my summer in Jizan (2006) under the title "Watch Out Bubba Gump." Now I'm not sure what it is... but I do know it's time for me to start writing again.