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Here comes the rain again July 31, 2007

Posted by Aella in Bahrain, Beirut, Culture, Karlskrona, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Saudi culture, Sweden.

Summer here isn’t really great. It’s raining almost every day and it is actually worse weather than Saudi winter. Not that I mind really. I know once I get back to Bahrain I will get both heat and sun. More than I want probably. It’s a shame for all the Swedes that has endured the long dark winter eagerly waiting their holidays hoping for some sun and fun. It is just so depressing when you live here and you realise the summer will soon be over (with no sun) and autumn will come with it’s doom and gloom.

Right now I am preparing for an old linguistics exam that I should have done ages ago. The book I am reading right now is “The Study of Language” by George Yule. It surely is interesting but I feel my head is about to explode from all the different linguistic terms. I feel though that I have finally grasped some things that seemed slightly confusing before. If I was to choose between this one and Kafkas “The Trial” (Der Prozess) which I finished just before I left Saudi I would choose this one.. but aaaah God it will be good when it’s over. I have so many interesting, juicy books waiting for me in my bookshelf and I have also bought more since I came here.

One thing that has struck me since I came here. Why the hell are most of the dressing (or fitting if you like) rooms in clothes stores so damn dirty? Isn’t it standard to clean them every day? The floors are usually dusty and I just find it so sick. I never saw this is in Lebanon (and in Saudi Arabia of course there are no dressing rooms).

What else? Aha I been bitching about the health care here in Sweden (yaya I know in my part of the country 😉 ) and I will again. My youngest daughter ended up with impetigo (not cool) and it has been a mission to make sure she gets the medicine that she required. People just get soooo puzzled when they realise we don’t live here which means we aren’t registered here… seems foreign tourists can get their medicine (I saw an example – good for them) faster than a Swede coming home for holiday. And, and, and when I wanted to get a new Swedish ID-card and went to Svensk Kassaservice who are responsible for this they simple said -Uhh sorry but you can’t get one cus you don’t live here (grrrr). I could get a new passport no problems but not a poxy ID-card. I can apply for one at the policestation I was told but it will take up to 5 weeks which means I can’t get it before I leave.

Now if I was a refuge I could have applied for one. I’m thinking of getting rid of my Swedish citizenship and come here without ID papers and apply for asylum or something. Life seems easier that way.


The girls of Riyadh July 19, 2007

Posted by Aella in Al Khobar, Beirut, Culture, Pictures, Quotes, Saudi Arabia, Saudi culture.



Rajaa Alsanea

Found this article in the Times Online. I still haven’t read the book but I sure would like to get my hands on it (where can I get it?). I know some Saudis might not agree but I believe she is a pride to her country. Saudi Arabia need more girls and women like her to stand up and be counted. Not sure all the facts are right in the article though.

By Lesley Thomas

“Saudi Arabia has a new minister for women. She’s 25, likes designer labels, lipstick and cars. Rajaa Alsanea is, of course, not in government, for in her country it’s not really the done thing for females to air their opinions. They are not allowed to drive, let alone have employment or voting rights.

Alsanea, however, has captured a vast constituency. She is a bestselling author, the only chick-lit one from the Arab world, and as such she has become a sort of spokeswoman for 21st-century Saudi women. Her book, Girls of Riyadh, about to be published in Britain by Fig Tree, tells the stories of four middle-class young women searching for love and just a little bit of fun in a suffocating culture.

It’s hardly Jilly Cooper – the references to sex are coy with lots of talk of yearning and disappointment – but with tales of the girls drinking (very small sips of Dom Pérignon) and – gasp – sitting in the driver’s seat of a car, it caused a scandal. This is a country, remember, where a woman might be stoned for kissing a man in public.

Alsanea has received death threats by e-mail and many tried to suppress her book. At one point, black market versions of this Arabic version of Sex and the City changed hands for £300.

“I didn’t think about breaking any taboos or being a rebel. I wanted to describe how people find ways to get around some of the traditions. Young women I know want to be modern, hip, stylish and fall in love, the same as women everywhere. I was never trying to cause a scandal,” she tells me over tea at the Dorchester hotel in London.

Alsanea is modestly and fashionably turned out in expensive, loosely cut jeans, a white fitted jacket and a coordinating white, silken hijab. There are a couple of lightly Wagish touches – a diamond watch with a pink strap, a Gucci bag and a French manicure – but she is a class act.

In an American accent she speaks softly, in perfect English with impeccable sentences: “I started writing when I was 18 and I knew I wanted to be a published author. I have been blessed with a very supportive family and we were encouraged to express ourselves.” Her father, who worked for the information ministry in Kuwait, died when she was eight and Alsanea and her five older siblings were raised by her mother in Riyadh: “As I got older, I wanted to write something I would enjoy reading. I just wrote about what I saw around me – what the girls I knew were like.”


Gas R us? July 16, 2007

Posted by Aella in Karlskrona, Sweden.

Swedes aren’t too keen on surveillance cameras watching their every move.

Wonder what an English speaking person visiting Sweden would think if they saw this poster.



Notes in July July 11, 2007

Posted by Aella in Bahrain, Beirut, Culture, Karlskrona, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Saudi culture, Sweden.

I really don’t understand how Swedish people have patience with the health care system in this country. There are only a few private alternatives (usually overbooked) and most people use the public system. It is unbelievable how long you have to wait even if you book an appointment. Not to mention when you call to book an appointment. In the local clinic you will be greeted by an answering machine telling you that you should leave your number and they will get back to you. Then they tell you about what time you can expect a call. This happened to me the other day as I called to book an appointment since my little 5 months old daughter had spots all over her body.

W hen they finally called the lady goes. Uh so what do you want? I explained to her and she goes – Aha so do you want someone to call you back? Eh? Call me back? I thought that’s what you’re doing no? She told me they don’t let children into the clinic if it is believed to be a case of chicken pox. Aha ok. So she asked a nurse to call med back.

She called a few hours later. And asked me. -What do you think it is? Eh? Since when am I qualified to make my own diagnosis on skin rash problems? I told her that perhaps it is chicken pox. She goes -Why do you think so? I replied, -Hm well cus my mum thinks it might be and I seen some pictures online and they look pretty much the same. -Aha, she goes, Then it must be chicken pox.
Just like that….
Is that what our tax money goes to? Us having to make our own diagnosis at home? Well, if you ever hear a Swede (like me 😉 ) praising Swedish health care then know for sure that they haven’t been at home for a long time. Sure we have good staff and most of them know their thing (not this nurse though it seemed) but the system sucks for sure. Anyway. It wasn’t chicken pox but erythema multimforme minor…something completely different. Hamdulilla it is gone now because it looked pretty bad for a day.
What else? Public toilets here are creepy. I am not used to that from Lebanon nor Saudi Arabia (nor Bahrain). If I know people here right the toilets are icky because no one thinks they should have to clean them. They are all too good for that. You pay to use most of them so I think you could expect a good standard but hell no.

I must say it is weird to be back. At first I didn’t feel that I had left at all. Did I really live in Saudi for eight months? Physically perhaps but mentally I feel I have been elsewhere the whole time. My mind was either in Beirut, Sweden or in Bahrain (or in other places). I don’t feel I have seen much in Saudi nor experienced much to be honest. Only seen what it is on the surface but that is what can be expected after such a short time in a country I assume.
The feeling that it is weird to be back stems from that I can’t understand my own culture and people quite often. I can’t understand the things they say and how they act. It’s like coming from an episode of Star Wars only to land in Mars. It’s not the first time I am living outside Sweden so it’s not news to me but this time I feel it more than before.

Stumholmen 1 July 2007 July 3, 2007

Posted by Aella in Karlskrona, Pictures, Sweden.