Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Arabian Gulf Legacy

In today’s Lectionary, Psalm 107, there is the following verse:

41 but he raises up the needy out of distress,
and makes their families like flocks.

My heart goes back to Qatar, and I think of “my” family there, a family who adopted me, slowly but surely. The woman, who taught me Arabic, has twelve children. “Twelve children!” I used to think, was about ten too many, but I learned so much from this woman, and from her family. Every day she and her husband would sit together. They discussed each child. No child in that family was lost or overlooked; they cared for each and every one. I, too, know each child. I was particularly close to the oldest girls, but there was one young son who hit me on my bottom during my very first visit, hard, as I was bending over to put on my shoes. While everyone else looked on in horror, he just grinned up at me, and I couldn’t help but laugh. I pray for each and every one in this family, and they pray for me. Relationships don’t get much more intimate than that, I think, that we pray for one another, and we have some idea what to pray for.

And while they are not wealthy, they have enough, and they are a happy family. When one has a need, the others sacrifice, and I never hear a grumble of a complaint. Each has an assurance that when their turn comes – as it comes to all of us – their family will be there to assist them.

We said goodbye to our Saudi friends this week, on their way back to the desert kingdom to finish Ramadan and celebrate Eid with their family. They have been such a blessing in our lives here, and we wish them well. They left a lot of last minute things for me, a coffee and tea set with coffee cups, trays for serving drinks, spices, bags – the detritus of a life of moving, there are always things which still have use but for which you have no room in your packing crate. I am starting a lending closet with them; as other families arrive, I will offer them up to new arrivals who need the same pieces for their daily life and entertaining. The spices I will share with one of my co-mother-in-laws who makes a chicken biryani they call Chicken Perlow. It is moister than biryani, but has much the same flavor. Oh yummm.

As our Saudi friends depart, we have new friends arriving and we will have them for dinner tomorrow night. We have met them, one is Algerian, the other is Omani; as the Ramadan fast ended, the Algerian was trying to eat a piece of bruschetta with a knife and form. “You are so French!” I laughed, and told him we eat this with our fingers, which greatly relieved him, as he was standing, and to try to cut a piece of French break with a fork while standing is close to impossible. Both are a lot of fun, and while we will miss our departing Saudi friends, we are looking forward to these new friends.

One thing that pleases me greatly. I asked my Saudi friend how she was received when she went out, as she is fully covered, abaya and scarf and niqab (face covering). She said she had been warned before leaving Saudi Arabia that people would be unkind to her, but never once did she run into this, that people were always kind, “in the hospital, in the Wal-Mart, in the shopping, everywhere.” It just made me so proud to be living in Pensacola.

August 13, 2011 - Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cross Cultural, Eid, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Qatar, Ramadan, Relationships, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues


  1. 12 kids is certainly one kid too many for any woman to have, no matter where she is from!

    Among other things this poor woman is a high risk candidate for uterine prolapse, urinary incontinence, anemia, gestational diabetes, cardiovascular ailments and so on and so forth. What is it with men who never seem satisfied with just one or two kids or a third kid max?!

    My heart goes out to all women in the world with little or no autonomy of reproductive choice.
    I am reasonably certain in countries where men are not part of the birthing process they are clueless about what they are making their women go through.

    The law should require partners to be present in the labour suite with their wives and girl friends when they are in labour. Hopefully, they will wisen up and stop spawning as if it’s nobody’s business. They owe it to their children, to the planet and above all, to their wives
    who have to endure enormous physical pain during child birth.

    Comment by More Eating Ideas Inc. | August 15, 2011 | Reply

  2. BL, I used to think as you do. I believe everything you have said has merit. I appreciate your sensitivity towards women, especially those who are forced to marry and prove their worth through reproduction.

    And I know my friend, and her husband and her family. They are happy. Her health is, generally, good. She chose to have each child and welcomed them with joy. She is also a professional, and she has a life, but bringing children into the world gives her great joy. They are not rich, but they manage well. It is not my choice, but it is her choice, and she is happy. Who are we to criticize or tell her a better way?

    Comment by intlxpatr | August 15, 2011 | Reply

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