Monday, 3 June 2013

Broken heads

Forgot this one which should have been posted weeks back on....

It seems a lot worse than when I first started my intermittent roamings back in the latter part of the last century...but that could be an aging and decaying thing and the first worrying sign of my sounding like my father. Whilst being semi-detached from home, I am hardly semi-integrated here. My Arabic is poor not least as English (or Urdu) are lingua franca so being a very non-Muslim expat makes you a step or four removed from some of the realities here. Moreover, Egyptian colleagues say in a superior kind of way that the Arabic in the Gulf isn't real Arabic anyway and among many students from different parts of this pleasantly friendly and laid back land Arabic may only be a second or third language especially among those from way down south.

Peace, love and understanding
I digress, this semi-detachment, or perhaps ignorance was seen when  driving back from an afternoon beach and easy drink combo at the delicious Crown Plaza which has an excellent view of the sunset over the sea. On return, we passed some foaming beardies who were getting whacked for their interpretations of a desert based medieval belief system outside the beautiful Lego inspired opera house. No idea why but they didn't look happy and stopping to ask would not really have been wise.

The next day at work I poked around a bit, being blatant is not good, and after murmurings among the boys I eventually gleaned that a few heads had indeed received a right royal bashing. A little later, following more murmurings, photos were passed around by the students of bruised and broken faces of those who claimed that there had been some upset at an American (of course) newly converted Muslim singing a verse from the Koran to a gentle musical accompaniment. He'd been improvising apparently and enjoying being a new Muslim and sharing his joy with the good folk at the opera house. However, as there is no music, fun or frivolity allowed in their somewhat denying world view umbrage was taken by those with too much time and certainty on their hands and a demo was held, angry of course, by, from what I saw, was about 30 beards, outnumbered massively by the paramilitary police with whom it is probably a little  unwise to argue. In Expatland these things pass you by - the students, positively, were all understanding of their new American brother and intolerant of er...well... The Intolerant which can only be a good thing. Three days growth of unsculptured and untended beard among the boys and they get called Mullah which isn't meant respectfully.

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