Our first day in Khobar, Saudi Arabia October 13, 2006Posted by Aella in Al Khobar, Culture, Saudi Arabia.
So yesterday was our first day here. I must admitt that eventhough I knew that women wear black abayas and men white thobs here it was strange to see it. I mean, it’s like a uniform and most Saudis seems to wear it here. Ok, women have to wear the abaya but the men doesn’t have to wear the thobs (which are quite nice if I may say so myself, kinky grrrr). I didn’t know that so many women here have chosen to cover their faces though. Kinda looks weird if you ask me. No offence to anyone, just feels strange but I guess I get used to it. all you can see is eyes, eyes and eyes of women here. You just would not be able to describe what the women of Khobar look like. One thing that I feel is kinda scary are the women that have black cloth in front of the whole face. I don’t know what to think of that… I feel it’s wrong somehow.
We had a late start yesterday and went out for a shopping drive about 1.30 pm. In Khobar malls and shops are scattered between the compound outside the city of Khobar. Felt like we are going around in circles all the time. Noticed that most compounds have really high security with barbwire, high walls, surveillance cameras, guards, gates, check points and concrete blocks. Makes you think the world outside if one scary and dangerous place. But it didn’t feel like it was as we were driving around….til we got to the Rashid Mall where we went to make my abaya shorter.
As I sat in the car in the parking lot watching all the Saudi couples and families passing by in their uniforms I felt freaked. I didn’t want to go into the mall without my abaya. Felt so out of place (and I was of course). I had thrown my last lenses the day before and was wearing my glasses (which really needs to be updated cus I cant see too good with them). In my green pregnancy shirt (long sleeved of course) and jeans I entered the mall with my family and my blurry vision. And yes I really stood out. And felt odd. I want you to note that being different is no problem for me but here I felt I was crossing a line that I didn’t want to. Soo, anyway before they shop had shortened my abaya and I had put it on I had a few odd and amused looks from people. Bought some all-day lenses and put them on and voila now I could see all the glory that before passed me by. Felt like a black whale in my abaya being pregnant and all. Felt better later during the day when I had changed to a thin dress.
After that we went to Toys R Us but no they were closed due to prayers…..or so it said on the door. But they had closed until later (7.30pm) cus it is Ramadan and no one really goes shopping after a certain time. So we went back home, slept, showered, changed clothes and went to iftar at a compound called Nesma Village. Had a buffet with a lot of Lebanese foods like tabbouleh, fattoush, the cheesy rolls, hommous and muttabal. Really good food and aaaah I missed all that whilst in Sweden.
After our meal we went on a shopping spree and bought a bunch of things for our home. We ended it by doing food shopping in a place called Panda. We chose this place cus we assumed it wouldn’t be as packed as the other places. And we were right. It was all cool until we went to the till to pay. For some reason all the stores we had visited had “a problem” with credit cards so everyone had to pay with cash. I was told by my husband that he had heard there were some kind of boycott towards the banks going on. So he had to go to ATM and get cash a few times.
As we entered Panda my husband checked with an employee of the place to make sure we could use the card and yes fine no probs. Once all the items were scanned and put into bags the cashier guy goes Ohh no we only take cash. Hm great. So my husband once again went to get some cash.
As he left a manager takes over the till and takes the nest customes and starts scanning their things. He picks up his mobil and blabbers on for a few minutes. When my husband comes back and wants to pay, the manager goes, Oh uh how much was it and where is the receipt? No ooh he left with the receipt (refering to the first guy). Turns out the manger had started to scan the next customers items and added that to our bill and now wanted us to unpack all our bags to make a new scan. The other customer was a little freaked cus he had only bought a few items and sure as hell didn’t wanna pay for all our stuff. The manager goes Oh Mr please let’s scan all your things again. My husband goes, How about this? How about you take all your food and we leave? No but..! Oh yes. So we left. And now we have to re-do all the shopping aaallll over again today somewhere else (probably at Geant Stores).
We ended our day by ordering some pizza and watching tv. After we ate I said to my son, Now you will have to eat pizza for suhur cus we didn’t do the shopping. My husband goes, Oh and what do you call this? Huh? Yes, is this not suhur and when were you looking to eat that? Well about 4 (am of course). Eh you’re not waking me up then. Why not? Helloooo, cus it’s 3 am now!
God, I thought it was about 12. I still can’t believe I was sitting watching tv and eating pizza at 3 am without being tired and without realising it was that late (or early).
Anyway, long post this I know. Just a lil more..
Our house is great. Much larger than I thought it would be and I love all the space. It has 3 large bedrooms, 2 livingrooms, dining room, kitchen, large hall, maids room, 4 bathrooms and a small storage room. Doesn’t feel too cramped. The kitchen where I will spend a lot of time as the cooking freak I am has all you need. Really love this kitchen. I am trying to organise cupboards and drawers right now cus things are kinda spread out everywhere. I’m a lil lost til things are in place. The house is furnished and allthough some of the items aren’t really to our taste it is still nice things. Working on giving the place our personal touch and turning it into a home. It takes time but it’s fun.
The compound is not so big compared to other compounds. It’s all brand new and people are slowly adding their little touches to their houses to make this place more alive. We have a small space in the back of the house with some grass and I guess I could try (note the word, try ok, I am known to kill plants, not grow them) to grow some flowers or something else. Wonder what would grow nice and easy in this climate. Any suggestions?