Thursday, April 05, 2007

Stares & Glares

I am certain, this topic has been discussed to death – however I wish to vent a bit and get a few things off my chest.

In a multi-cultural country like the UAE – we seem to have more segregation & less integration. Segregation of souls, based on nationalities & cultures - be it on a "job description", crime reported in the media – raffle coupons, filling up an auto insurance form, room mates – etc all – segregation rules supreme.

What irks me most, is the fact when souls who do not care (or in some instances are aware) of such segregation, and genuinely wish to integrate as "peoples" frst, are stared at and commented. For instance – my brother, who is a Christian, born/raised in the UAE and his fiancé – a Muslim – born/raised in the UAE are subject to sets of stares, glares and comments from strangers i.e. it almost seems a "revelation" to these people that people of different origin & religion can be compatible. It’s almost incomprehensible to the general public - that these souls can share a walk in the park -walk the malls, visit the restaurants & movies as a couple?

I think my brother and his fiancé may have it easy – compared to my best friend an Indian –UAE born/raised - good man and his Palestinian – UAE citizen born/raised fiancé – despite the fact, they are both Muslims?

For instance, whilst having lunch with my friend & his fiancé at a well known seafood restaurant by the Sharjah Corniche last weekend - we were greeted with the usual stares as we walked into the restaurant - more stares as we walk past tables to be seated. Comments (often repeated one being - "haram") was loud enough that guests at adjoining tables could hear?

I felt terrible for these souls – there they were trying to have a meal – instead had pretty normal looking guys stare at them – whilst eating, drinking, chatting or just sitting plain still (and uncomfortable) – the whole bloody time. I've never seen such blunt display of polarization by different races in a "multi-cultural" environment? It was horrible – the comforting fact - my friend and his fiancé are strong individuals who seemed determined to block away the stares & ignorant comments.

After experiencing true multiculturalisms in cities like New York and Toronto, where borders/boundaries, skin colour, ignorance seem torn down (well for the most part) – I can’t help wonder (and feel frustrated) – why are we so polarized in this nation? Each community – be it the various Arab communities, western souls, Emaraties, Indians – Pakistanis or the Filipinos – all keep to themselves for the most part. There is little sense of integration - little sense that we are all people first – born into different homes, parents, cultures and borders – but created by the same heavenly creator - and if by choice, two souls from complete backgrounds are to integrate, they are in for an unpleasant ride?


secretdubai said...

Divide and conquer: so long as various expat groups clan together and hate one another, they won't all unite and rise up against the oppressive government here.

rosh said...

Not sure if that is entirely true SD - the stares & comments came from all nationalities (well except western folks).

Mostly some Arabs both expats & locals) & some Pakistani's - showered these souls with "haram". I didn't understand what's "haram" given the instances?

Plus even if the government were to "drive" the multi-cultural issue, I think the society is way too polarized to accept this concept.

Hot Lemon& Honey said...

give us a break SD "oppressive government". Stay miserable the way you are.

Rosh, you know Sharjah to be me more conservative. Were they holding hands, showing any kind of affection, was she wearing something that might be seen as skimpy.

I must say that I am one of those locals who are tired of seeing all kind of behaviors that are foreign to us. People just became insensitive to the culture of this country and lots try hard under the name of globalzation and other rubish to infroce things upon us through the government who thinks we need people in our country who are intolerant to the way we are.

I am one of those who say "if you dont' like it leave" there is nothing wrong with saying this, after all people like SD and those who think are oppressed are here because they chose to. So shut up.

As for your friends, think of any reason why would they stare at you guys. Sometimes there are no reason.

I would hate to see the UAE become another bland country, where everybody is the same, where everybody has one opinion, and that opinion is what shuts up the "first world countrys" and make them "approve of us".

I don't blame the expats. It is entirely our fault.

I know Rosh lots of what I say here has nothing to do with your post/ or little, but this SD creature just brings the worst out of me, she is one of those Spinneys ridden disease.

rosh said...

HLH - it wasn't the stares, but constant comment on - "Haram".

I didn't understand why they kept saying haram?

OK my brother looks sort of white (he's taken after my dad's dad - who is Caucasian) and his fiancé wears a hijab - decent top (hands/elbows covered) and decent jeans.

My friend wore a men's suit (minus the jacket & tie) - he looks brown, clean shaven - mature and 32. His fiancé wore an Abaya, hijab and minimum make up – she’s Palestinian origin an yes very pretty.

There was absolutely no hand holding kissing - I mean these are Asian & Arab kids born/raised in SHJ all their lives - hence very aware/respectful of the culture and society.

Not everyone commented "haram" - just a few - but constantly - I couldn't figure out why???

The stares - they come at all times from all peoples - Indians/Pakistanis stare at my brother & fiancé. Indians/Arabs stare at my friend & his fiancé - hell even my mother (after 38 years in the UAE) stares at my friend's fiancé??

Point is why are most folks so polarized? Why does an Indian man HAVE to be with an Indian woman – and Arab man with an Arab woman - would hell freeze over if an Indian man gets married to an Arab woman or vice versa?

We are all people – our hearts don’t recognize borders & boundaries, cultures and perceptions – love is blind, but unconditional.

rosh said...

SD - respectfully, I don't think UAE is China or North Korea.

I agree it's not perfect - but then she's just 35 yrs old?

I mean compare life in the US or UK when these nations were 35?

Look at the US today- i.e. before I became a Green Card holder, I used to be finger printed & photographed. I (like my brother) had to list myself with the FBI every 12 months of my whereabouts, was pulled aside at airports and had my bags verified, my name and identity repeatedly questioned most times I flew into the US - all because I was born in an Arab nation - even though I had a British citizenship?

From where I stand -"oppressive" is subjective these days : )

Fellow bloggers - please feel free to express and vent, but no name calling please : )

Hot Lemon& Honey said...

Stay miserable is a state of mind, it isn't name calling Rosh.


The concept of 'polarization' is a cultural one though and it has nothing to do with our government who allowed non-Emarati's to nourish and flourish their business in UAE. My sister is a lawyer in charge of commercial cases in UAE; she says " you can't imagine the fortune that expatrients are making in our country". So please SD watch your mouth. Beside, why the camel as your logo if you have such hatred in your heart against us?
And it's not 'polarization' per se as much as it is the simple fact of gossips. Our country is very small; just like a small village; and people from different cultural backgrounds used to gossiping all the time. Sometimes gossips are healthy though, not in the context that Rosh is describing of course.
When I'm in UAE; I hang out often with my cousin (Meshawah) who doesn't like to put on 'Kandorah' as he lived in the States for a while; I go out in my Abaya and Shailah; we dine in fansy restaurants (we're best friends) and still people would sometimes stare at this combination.. but who cares; I think the attitude would change with time.. even if it doesn't I don't think we should give it much concern. We should choose how to lead our lives; people shouldn't choose for us including our parents.
And SD, as HLH suggested you can always explore other countries if you're not happy with ours. Maybe it's just too much for you to handle.

rosh said...

"The concept of 'polarization' is a cultural one though and it has nothing to do with our government"

Yes true - of course not - this has does not have anything to do with the government.

It's got to do with the general public, the varied multi-racial communities like Arabs expats, Indians, locals, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and to an extent even the Filipinos etc all who make up the UAE.

My point is - we live in the same country/village - but it seems strange to integrate?

I wrote this post out of frustration - frustration of my inability to comprehend on this almost invisible wall against integration.

After reading the comments on the post - I went out for a Falooda with my friend and his fiancé. I told them about my blog post - they laughed away my worried look and seemed more inclined/accepted to this fact.

My friend's fiancé said - "walla I don't care - my life, my wish, our parents have blessed us - it's nobody's business".

My friend (in humor) narrated another instance whilst the two shopped at SHJ's mega mall this evening. A Saudi national and his wife commented to him - his wife is very beautiful - and followed up with a question (in Arabic & in humor) to his fiancé- "why are you with him - could you not find an Arab man"??

I've had enough debate for a week -taking a break.

rosh said...

: )

BuJ said...

There's enough debate and hatered in this column to last me a lifetime.

What have you done guys?

I never knew this could exist,, not between you guys that I've been to your blogs (like entering a person's virtual home).. i feel shocked.

I feel I cannot comment on one thing without commenting on it all.. and i am truly overwhelmed.. plus i am in a melancholic mood so I know my words will not help.

Hence just a few words to you all.. this is about the comments not the post.. I have no problem with people coming to my country and making money.. as long as it's legal then it's good for them. Let's not forget that the UAE has a very very generous social welfare system that caters for everything.

I don't like people who have this us/them mentality because i think it harms everyone. I think we ought to be more tolerant.

The UAE was fortunate/unfortunate to have double digit growth for a long long time.. this has created a virtually imported society which is hard to live with if ur a native of the land. I know that, and I know how it feels. We ought to create a good example and give all of these people, our guests, the chance to absorb everything emirati.. and to learn from us and be one of us. Instead (and this is totally normal) we get overwhelmed and find shelter in people of our own.

ok anyway i feel i have written enough.. guys.. please take a chill pill, a date, and some mazaher water.. dammit.. even a beer if you drink (i'm in the UK, so it's not banned).. just chill out guys :)



Buj.. U missunderstood; the attack was not against Rosh.. you forgot; he's Roshy after all..
My attack was against secretdubai; that's it..
Anyways; the Emiratees are not racists; this I know for sure; they just feel more comfortable with their own set of cultural codes and nothing is wrong with this.. we have so many beautiful blessful values and we'd like to keep them as they are.
'Integration' is a feeling; not an act.. try melting with the locals; you'll be surprised how you'll be welcomed.

rosh said...

"try melting with the locals; you'll be surprised how you'll be welcomed."

Sah IYM - so true girl - look whom I've made friends with, such accomplished women - so yes you are correct, hands down!

IYM -1
rosh - 0


BuJ said...

IYM.. to be frank i wasn't talking to you (lol, don't get mad).. i was mainly replying to SD, and HL&L.. roshy simply provided the platform...

indeed..arabs and emiratis in particular are lovely hosts.. and we need to loosen up and learn more :)

ah.. my head is spinning.. will have to come back here tomorrow.. till then.. CHEERS (to a glass of mazaher)

secretdubai said...

To clarify: my comment was flippantly made. I would apologise to you for inadvertently causing offence but for the outpouring of hatred and stupid remarks made against me that were frankly far more offensive.

However apologies to rosh for this all happening on his blog.

Hot Lemon& Honey said...

SD I suggest that you re read your comment and see the hatred in it. All you do my dear is project what you really feel onto us and accuse us of it. Your comment was negative sad, offensive, accusatory and most of all stupid.
to say it was flippantly made is just lame hun.
Now what offended you "miserable", don't you see your constant negativity and your views that only magnify the negatives miserable, I do and many other see that as well.

As for you BuJ, I don't see why you need to direct what you wrote to me. My comment was in response to the Flippantly made comment by SD.
So you go a head and take a chill pill so that you can actually see the "flippantly instigator" and understand where the response came from.

So SD rather than worrying about how my comments come accross, look at yours and think about how yours does.

Don't insult and then cry. Those Flippantly remarks of yours are called "Freudian slips" in my office. Try to control them, maybe then you can come across as an unbiased fair woman with an opinion.

Sorry Rosh.

Hot Lemon& Honey said...

And IYM, right on.


'Shukran' HLH; 'Shukran' Rosh..
And Rosh to us you are UAEian as you are .. :)

rosh said...

*HUGS* kissess, reconciliation - heavy make out session : )

BuJ/IYM - what is Mazheer? Where can I get Mazheer in SHJ or in DXB?

BuJ said...

my dear Roshy.. Mazaher literally means (water of flowers). Ma = water, zaher = flower.

it's orange blossom water and you can buy it in any coop or supermarket in the land.. have a taste of the commercial stuff and if you like it then i'll tell u where u can get the good expensive stuff..

they use drops of it in food like sweets such as knafe.

if you wanna have it cold, then put a few drops in a cup of cold water.. and if u want it hot (e.g. after a meal to digest) then add approx 2-teaspoons of the stuff to hot water in a tea cup and enjoy.

don't have too much as it will constipate you and it's very bitter too. but will perfume your room.