Last Few Weeks in Riyadh…

Wadi Haniffa – view from our window

Well, our days of desert wandering is coming to an end. It has been an eye-opening experience, one that started with plenty of trepidation but is now ending with plenty of sadness amidst a little jubilation. What did I know about Saudi Arabia before coming here? Very little, to be honest. My earlier expectations were mostly coloured by stereotypes garnered from readings off the web. Hence the worry and uncertainty.

What was I worried about? Well, for one, the heat and the dryness. In general, the Sahara desert. Of being lost in the dunes. Of course, I was also a little worried about camels and being bitten by one, (yes, I read about those camels and their tendency to bite people’s head!) I was also worried about wearing the abaya, the black cloak and head scarf anywhere outside (those things have got to be heat-traps!) Being used to zooming about Kuala Lumpur in my little car, going 160 110 km an hour along the highways at night after drinking cups of coffee al-fresco with friends at Pavillion – having to depend on my significant other to drive me around was definitely daunting. Most worrying of all – no cinemas… gasp! What are we to do at weekends???! My poor son will be so deprived!

Today, I look back at all those items that caused such worry with not just a tinge of sadness and nostalgia. Hot? Yes, Riyadh is hot. However, it is dry heat. So, yes, while walking outside in the peak of summer has been likened to being in hades and at times one wonders if the soles of one’s shoes would hold it together and not just melt onto the tarmac, and one’s eyeballs do feel like they might explode in the glare, one hardly ever sweats. And darling, the antartic blast of air-conditioning is available everywhere! As for being lost in the Sahara… well, the roads go in one direction. You are more likely to get lost in Sahara Mall than the dunes. And the camels? They are so cute when strapped into camel-seats at the back of the trucks, squinting at the wind as the truck zips by. What about driving? Honey, trust me… you would not want to drive in Riyadh even if you could! Cinemas? Who needs cinemas when you have OSN at home? Microwave a bag of cheesy-blast pop-corn and open a can of Bebsi and you are good to go.

Of course, being in Riyadh required some adapting, but the changes that we had to make have been good for us. Despite what people say, yes, one can survive without cinemas. The world does not come to a halt just because genders are segregated. We get to spend so much more time as a family because hubby has to drive us everywhere. Living in a compound is wonderful for our child – he gets to run around free with his little posse of friends, within reason of course. And yes, I love wearing the abaya and the scarf as there is a sense of freedom in blending in with the rest – you feel less self-conscious, and there is little need to colour-coordinate.

It has been the most wonderful 3 years of my life. I would not have changed a thing. I am guessing that the next few posts will remain on Saudi Arabia, perhaps interspersed with those on moving and packing etc. So, while I look forward to going home to the bosom of our dearest family and friends before opening another chapter of adventures in the rainforests of Borneo, I have to look back with fondness to the memories of the Kingdom.

About mumstech
Retired at 40 after working in various industries including banking and financial services, oil and gas as well as higher education.Now a stay-at-home mum, cheerleader for husband and son, cleaner, nutritionist, cook, laundry lady, driver, clerk cum administration assistant, public relations, personal assistant... I never knew that squeaky clean floors can give me such satisfaction!

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