Jeddah Stories and Tips

Rendezvous with a Local Arab

Enchanting Rendezvous with a local Arab

As I was giving some work to my newly acquired camera, shooting the old buildings, with the highly carved and turquoise exterior walls, some awaiting reconstruction and others crumbling down unable to with stand the test of the time, an elderly Arab called me and said some thing in Arabic, which was beyond my comprehension. Aware of the fact that Arabs do not like visitors to take photos in public places, I packed my gears and started to leave the place. He followed me and caught my hand and tugged me -- now the worst fear of any foreigner in Arabia, offending the local culture, which could potentially land you in jail, even on a verbal complaint by the locals was beginning to come true. I was perplexed and becoming nervous, tried to free my hand from his grip. Sensing my anxiety, he said " Taal, Sadiq, Taal", which, based on my vocabulary of a handful of Arabic words acquired in my past seven months of stay in Saudi Arabia, translates into "Come, Friend, Come." On hearing the word "friend", I felt a little ease as I was led to his house.

I was offered dates and traditional Arabian coffee, "Quawa", over which we had some sort of conversation, he in Arabic and I in English and more animated action spread in between. He was kind enough to permit me to visit the first floor of his house from where I had an insider’s view from the latticed and carved woodwork windows called "Rowasheen", that allows air and light through the balcony while blocking the direct sunlight, heat and prying eyes from outside. Bidding farewell to my new friend, the rough and tough image of the Arabs, which have been built by the international media and expatriates stories exploded inside me as it dawned on me that people all over are basically good, and we should not believe the images.

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