Wishing you all a peaceful and prosperous Eid, enjoyed with your family and friends. May Allah accept your deeds and forgive your lapses.
The picture in the background is a view from the top of Gara Mountain in al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.
So today I had to dig into my family’s archive to look for the immunization documents from my early years (long story). While flipping through the papers I found this thing:
It is not a birth certificate. It is a gift from the hospital where I was born. It has my picture, date of birth, and wishes of a long prosperous life. I’m the only one of my brothers who has one of these. According to my mother, the hospital stopped giving these away shortly after. My favourite part of it is the polaroid, which is still in a good shape after all these years. The picture was taken during my first few minutes into this world, apparently still inside the incubator. I can only guess what the expression on my face means, but it’s probably a combination of bemusement and boredom. Yeah, I’ve been in this place for like 5 minutes and I was bored already :P
If you liked this one (and seriously, what’s not to like? JK ;-) you might also want to check these two blogposts where I posted old pics from the days when I was fat and happy. A new header for the blog is also in the works, so stay tuned.
I don’t like going to weddings. But in every summer I get to go to more than my fair share of them. It’s just one part of the social obligations that come with the ties we talked about before. And with the high number of young single men in the family, it seems there is always a wedding around the corner. We had one last month, another this week, and we have three upcoming weddings in one household scheduled for later this year. Below is a short video I took during a family wedding two days ago.
If I sound irritable lately, it is because I’m going through withdrawal symptoms. It’s been ten full days since I had shawerma for the last time. “Then go get yourself some shawerma,” you might say. Well, I guess you haven’t heard: shawerma is banned in al-Ahsa!
In a boneheaded move, Al-Ahsa municipality decided to ban shawerma during the summer. The whole thing started last year, when some people suffered food poisoning after they had shawerma at different restaurants in town. Following the incidents, the municipality issued an order to all restaurants telling them they are not allowed to serve the delicacy for the four months of summer (yes, summer here can last four, five, and even six months).
I’m actually pissed off, not just because I can no longer have one of my favourite meals, but also because of the way the municipality is dealing with the whole matter. Instead of monitoring the restaurants to make sure they are following safety and health regulation, and then punish those who violate them, they go and ban everyone. They are punishing everyone. There are places that sell nothing but shawerma, and this decision would simply kill their business.
This type of collective punishment is easy for the municipality to inflect because the affected parties don’t have the means to protest. What could they do? Go to the municipal council? Please! Plus, even if they wanted, they can’t because they are not Saudis. You see, although these restaurants are owned by Saudi citizens, they are run by foreign workers. They pay an annual fee to the Saudi owner who does not care what the hell happens to the restaurant as long as he gets his money at the end of the year.
I’m really disappointed in al-Ahsa municipality. They have done some good work in building new infrastructure and improving streets and services. But this decision banning shawerma is just ridiculous. In addition to being irresponsible, it shows laziness on their part. They don’t want to do their job of making sure that the regulations are followed, so they go and issue a general ban.
If we are to use the (il)logic of our municipality, then we should close down restaurants altogether since you could get food poisoning from eating anything. While we are at it, we should also ban cars because they kill so many people. We might as well ask men and women not to marry or have children because, you know, they will die at some point. Let’s ban everything. That would make life much easier for many of us, wouldn’t it?
Around two years ago, Google announced that they teamed up with LIFE to put 10,000,000 historic images from the photo archive online. Last night I spent some time searching the archive for images from Saudi Arabia. Here’s some pics that I found:
This picture of Crown Prince — and later King — Faisal was taken in San Francesco, 1945. He was leading the Saudi delegate to the conference to adopt the Charter of the UN.
Taken in 1942, this is a view showing the country 20 miles east of Hofuf, my hometown and where I currently spend most of time.
Former Saudi minister of petroleum Abdullah al-Tariki is seen here at his office in Riyadh. The picture was taken in May 1961.
In the ‘60s, retired American industrialist Thomas W. Kendall and his family took a vacation around the world using their private plane. One of their stops was on the shores of Jeddah.