A Normal Day in Riyadh…

I have had the opportunity of going to a local’s home today! He works at the hotel as a receptionist/security guard, and is from Chad. His name is Ahmed. I didn’t go alone, another teacher came with me, and it was such a great experience! He lives in south Riyadh, about twenty minutes from our hotel. I didn’t know what to expect, but when we walked into his home I was in awe. It was dark, with 2 sitting rooms, 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a small kitchen. I’ll do my best to paint the picture:

The house was dark, with only a few lights on. Incents were burning, like the smell of a sauna. To the left was a small sitting room, and it was similar to a black room. Black, shimmery curtains hung down from the wall; giant, overstuffed pillows sat around the perimeter of the room; the glow of the room was soft in contrast to the hard black carpet, and there was no furniture to sit on. Instead, the black, white, and silver pillows were what we lounged on. There was a large LCD T.V hanging on the wall, 3 shelves with candles, and that was it. We sat down on the floor and chatted with his wife (she couldn’t speak English so Muhammad had to translate), as well as met his 4 children. They were adorable!!! After our introductions we were given a tour of the home. Outside the sitting room, you walked into another sitting room with a couch, and to the left was the children’s bedroom. The kids stayed in a brightly painted pink room with two beds, and two dressers. To the right of the second sitting room were a small kitchen and bathroom, and the second bedroom. Muhammad’s and Fatuma’s bedroom was beautiful. The walls were lined with gold curtains that glimmered in the light, and the furniture was all black. The home was humble, but culturally majestic. They immediately felt like an extension of my family.

The kids were fascinated by us. Muhammad said that he thinks I am the first white person they have seen. They liked shaking my hand over and over again LOL. I used my scarf and played peek-a-boo with the youngest girl. She had the sweetest laugh. The other children came in and out of the room to check up on us while we mingled, but none were as interactive as the youngest. They learn English at school, but Muhammad said that they have no one to practice their English with. Once they leave school, they either speak their native language at home or Arabic in the streets. Because of this, they don’t maintain the English they have learned, so they can only speak a few words.

Fatuma cooked us lunch—rice, lamb, and salad, and for the first time I had plain yogurt as a drink! They call it milk here, but it was definitely just a thin yogurt. It was good, but very filling so I couldn’t finish it. They kept offering me more food, and said that I needed to fatten up, but I was stuffed! After lunch we had mint green tea, and talked. Fatuma had to leave us because one of her friends was in labor. I can’t wait to hear details.

Ahmed's home 009 Ahmed's home 008 Ahmed's home 005 Ahmed's home 004 Ahmed's home 003

 

The one in the overalls is the “trouble maker” as Ahmed says. The first two pictures are the outside of their home. And the pictures of all of us were taken in the second sitting room, and the picture of just the youngest is in the “black room” (as I call it)  — WONDERFUL family!!!

We had to leave at 6pm because I had a meeting with the WSI recruiter, which went very well!!! He said that for my age my resume was impressive, and I show much promise. He was also happy that I already knew what the Wall Street method of teaching was, and what to expect. Since the branch doesn’t open for another six months, he will keep my contact info, and then get in touch and send me my offer letter. I haven’t even been here a week and another school is interested!!! Love having options.

After the meeting I went to a French restaurant with Amir which was nice; we sat in the “family” section which mostly consisted of women, but there were two Saudi men with their wives. In case I didn’t mention this before, almost all restaurants have a “single” section, for men, and a “family” section for families (or in our case, westerners). Some restarants are for “sing;es” only, meaning only men can go to them, such as the Mc Donalds up the road. We stayed there until about 10pm, and then I took a taxi home.

Now I am in my room, exhausted.

I have been fortunate to meet many people here, however, sometimes the amount of information I get can be overwhelming. It’s helpful to hear stories from other people, but it also makes me feel conflicted about the choices I’m making, which makes making a choice that much harder. As a result, I decided to go to Tabuk instead of Qassim. I have heard good things about both places, and although the compound might be nicer in Qassim, I want to be near the ocean (the red sea) and closer to other countries so I can travel (Eqypt and Jordan are on the border). I’m here to strengthen my mind and body, travel, and make the money… Tabuk will give me that.

Well, off to bed! See you in the morning.

–Mittens

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2 thoughts on “A Normal Day in Riyadh…

  1. Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure. You are certainly making a lifetime of memories. I love reading all about the sights and events you encounter. Prayers are with you always. Stay safe Ashley.

  2. Very cool. I am so confused! lol I thought you cannot speak or hang out with men in public unless it is your husband?

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