Thursday, August 31, 2006

Not waiting up....

It's 1:15am. I'm going to bed.

Tomorrow, tomorrow,
I love ya tomorrow
You're only a day away.



Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Children Again

Me : You can stop worrying. Am not pregnant.
Him: Howa ana fata7t bo2i?Inti eh bitgori shakal kida 3ala akhr el-lail?(He's saying he didn't say anything, that I'm just looking for a fight.)
Me : And even if I was I'd get rid of it if you didn't want it.
Him: Ba2oolik eh tisba7i 3ala khair.(Good night)
Me : Winta min ahlo.(Good night back)

But we didn't sleep. I didn't. And I could tell from his breathing he was awake too. I got up about 40 minutes later and went into the kitchen to have a smoke.

I know I blogged once that I was thinking of getting pregnant without telling him but that lasted about an hour. I wouldn't really do something like that. And I never said it to him. Or to anyone not virtual actually. It was just a thought.

So it's really starting to get on my nerves the way he sometimes acts as if he doesn't trust me not to go ahead and do that. I played dumb and pretended not to notice a few times because I had a guilty conscience I guess. I knew the thought passed through my mind. But come on he's not a mind-reader. And we can't all be punished for our thoughts - especially if we never acted on them.

Him : Mish 3arif ezay inti mosamima tkhalifi winti assassan mish 3ayza tbatali tadkheen.(I don't know how you insist on having kids when you won't stop smoking.)
Me : I hardly smoke anymore. Only when something upsets me. This is not the reason we can't have kids so don't try to make it sound like that's my fault.
Him : Mish 3arif ya3ni ana biytahaya'ali ini kalami kan wadi7. (I don't know. I thought what I said was clear.)
Me : Tayeb. I3tabirni wa7da ghabiya ma afham yassidi.(Fine. Consider me an idiot) because I really don't get your point here
Him : Very simple. I hate it when you smoke, I'm sick of fighting about kids and don't start crying on me or I'll really do something crazy.
Me : No I won't start crying.
Him : And please don't try to leave the house on your own. It's almost 2 in the morning.
Me : Yes sir. Anything else?
Him : Yeah. Come back to bed and get some sleep. It's getting late.
Me : Do you think we'll ever be able to talk about kids without fighting?
Him : Not while your idea of having a conversation includes accusing me of wanting you to have an abortion.
Me : You can't imagine a situation where you would want me to have an abortion?
Him : La. Ma3andeesh ana elkalam da. 7amil el7amdullilah. Mish 7amil a7san wi el7amdullilah bardo. (No. I don't believe in that. If you'e pregnant el7amdullilah(thank god). If you're not it's better and el7amdullilah(thank god) also.)
Me : A7san(better)? Don't you want to be a father?
Him : Tab3an(Of course). Bas mish dilwa2ti(But not now). Mish shayfa in i7na itkalimna filmowdoo3 abl kida kteer?(Don't you think we talked about it a lot?)
Me : Not really. We fight about it a lot. We never talk about it. I don't know how many children you want to have. Or if you prefer boys or girls. Or what names you want to give them. Or if you even care about any of those things.
Him : Wi eh kaman?
Me : I want to have your baby very, very badly. But not enough to do it behind your back. I want you to be happy and I want you to love our children. You know why I'm saying that.
Him : Khalas ana fihimt 2asdik.(Ok I know what you mean.)
Me : So do you want to have this conversation?
Him : 7abibti 3ashan khatri nikamil kalamna ba3dain.(Please let's talk about it later) Ana 3arif ini di qisa taweela wana khalas mish adir wi 3andi shugl elsob7 inti 3arfa.(It's a long story and I'm tired and I have work in the morning.)

Was he running away?Avoiding the subject?

Me : Ok fine I'll let you go. Yalla sweet dreams.
Him : Come with me. I don't want you up all night obssessing about it. Ana 3arif ini da hayitla3 ala dimaghi ana bokra. (He knows he will pay for it if that happens)Yalla 3ashan tinami yimkin rabena yihdeeki.(Basically he's saying I should go to sleep and maybe Allah will guide me.)
Me : Rabena yihdeeki?(Allah guide me?)Laish ya3ni(Why)?Majnoona ana?(Am I crazy?)
Him : Fashar. Da inti 3a2lik yiwzin balad. (No)

I had a feeling he was making fun of me but I let it go. And I did go to bed with him. Strangely enough I fell asleep fairly quickly. Sometimes I lie there for hours, unable to sleep but not wanting to move and wake him.

This morning I woke up feeling exhausted and sleep-deprived. I didn't feel like going to work at all but here I am. Around 11:00am he sent me sms saying we will talk later. I hope we will.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

My husband to my friend D. as I approach them at Trader Vics last night: Istani bas ya D. lama ashoof mirati labsa eh.
Then to me: Ya nhar abooki iswid eh da?
Me : My new dress.
Him: Wait a min. That's the dress you made me pay for?
Me : Yep.
Him: You bought this with my money? What the **** is holding that thing up?
D. : Women have curves K. Curves hold clothes up.
Him: Ya3ni inti 3agbik illy hiya bti3milu?
D.(to me): It is a bit much ya LouLou.

Taking pity on him, I pull my scarf on. I was starting to get cold from the AC anyway. Besides I knew I'd have to cover it in the end. It would have ruined his evening. Was just in the mood to torture him a little.

Him (a little later): What was that about?
Me : What?
Him: That stunt with the dress when you came in.
Me : Payback for the last time you made me leave a party at the stroke of midnight. Am not Cinderella.
Him: Well if you want a late night out that was like the worst move ever.
Me : Why?
Him: When a woman wears a dress like that the implication is that she wants a late night in.
Me : Not me. When I want something I don't imply. I demand.
Him(smiling for the first time that evening): Ya wad ya gamed.

Damn. That smile is one of my greatest weaknesses. I started to feel butterflies, breathless, weak knees, the works. And self-conscious. Less sure of myself. Being a woman feeling less sure of myself automatically translates into feeling fat. I was suddenly cringing inside, wondering if I should have risked that dress, if I was really thin enough to carry it off etc.....

Me: Well the dress is covered up adequately now I think. You can relax. Sharafak bi-aman.
Him: Sharaf eh ba2a? Dana ana min yom ma itigawiztik winti Allah yinawar. Mara ti2artaseeni wi tinzili finsas il-layali wana nayem. Wi mara ti3mili striptease odam madeenit Abu Zaby wa dawa7eeha.
Me : What's ti2artaseeni?
Him: Ma ti3rafeesh ya3ni eh ti2artaseeni?
Me : La.
Him: A7san.
Me : Ya3ni asa'al ghairak?Inta awla wala elghareeb?
Him: La ana awla tab3an ini afahimik ya3ni eh ti2artaseeni.

And he actually refused to tell me. We both started talking to other people and I forgot all about it. I just remembered I still don't know what that word means!


Friday, August 25, 2006

A War of Two Women

The AlBasoos War is the longest and most famous of the pre-Islamic, Bedouin tribal wars - of which there were too many to count.

The story varies from one historical reference to the other. All historians agree - however - that the instigator of the war was a woman called AlBasoos - hence the name of the war.

The AlBasoos War is believed to have started in 494 between two of the largest and most powerful of the Bedouin tribes of the time: Bani Bakr(sons of Bakr) and Bani Taghlib(sons of Taghlib). What was even more tragic was that these two tribes were descended from two brothers which made them cousins. They had intermarried so much for so long that virtually everyone who killed anyone during the AlBasoos War was closely related to them from both parents.

Accounts of why and how AlBasoos started this War of the Brothers as some historians called it differ greatly. Some state that AlBasoos came from a third tribe that had been vanquished and virtually wiped out by Bakr and Taghlib. Since her own tribe had no power left to fight them, her only hope for revenge was to make them fight each other. So she travelled in disguise to the land of Bakr - whose leader at the time was named Rabi'ia and asked for the protection of his youngest son - Jasas - for herself, her servants and her camels. Bedouin tradition at the time was that if a traveller asked for your protection, you had to offer them protection and hospitality and you could only ask them questions like who they are, why or how long they plan to stay etc....after 3 days. During those 3 days, an attack on this visitor is an attack on the entire host tribe and it's honor.

AlBasoos - while living in the protection of Bakr - made a point of allowing her cattle to stray and graze on Taghlib's land. The leader of Taghlib was called Kulaib and was Jasas's cousin and brother-in-law several times over. In response to what he considered trespassing on his land, he ordered one of the woman's camels slaughtered. The woman ran crying to Jasas about this attack on her property while she was under his protection and he promised her justice. He went to to see his cousin. A fight ensued which ended with Jasas and his men murdering Kulaib who was alone.

In other accounts, AlBasoos is actually an aunt of Jasas's who disliked Kulaib for what she saw as his rising power and wealth and being childless herself - chose to groom her nephew to challenge his cousin through the camel incident.

In yet other accounts, Kulaib was a singularly unpleasant man who had given his cousins grief for many years and the AlBasoos incident was the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak.

Personally I find the first account the easiest to believe so far because to refuse to accept defeat and pursue revenge as a sacred objective by any means - the way AlBasoos did in the first story - is such an Arab thing to do.

Kulaib had a brother called Salim who - despite being a great warrior who had performed great heroics on the battlefield - had decided to give all that up and spend all his time drinking, writing poetry, partying and womanizing to the point that he came to be called AlZeer Salim (Salim The Womanizer) or simply AlZeer(The Womanizer). On hearing of his brother's death, AlZeer is reported to have gone silent for 3 days - after which he swore revenge by himself and his descendants on Bakr and their descendants until one or both of the two tribes became extinct. The insult of his brother and the leader of the tribe's life being taken in exchange for a mere camel's was such a grievous injury to Taghlib's 'honor' that it was felt that there could never be any question of forgiveness.

Kulaib had many children - including as many as 10 daughters by some accounts - the oldest of whom was a girl called AlYamama - reported to have been 14 years old when her father was killed. After 10 years of war, AlZeer's resolve was beginning to weaken. His poetry began to lament the fact that he had killed and lost so many of his own blood - especially after one of his sisters - a woman called Diba3- who was married to a man from Taghlib - lost her husband and 3 sons in the war. Sensing a softening in AlZeer's stance, Bakr called on other Arab tribes to mediate an end to the war. When this great tribal delegation came to AlZeer, he told them that he would accept if The Orphans(The name which had come to be used to refer to Kulaib's orphaned daughters) did. Only the victim's children had the power to forgive. If they did not, their tribe had to fight for them forever it seems. So AlYamama and her sisters were called and the leader of the delegation asked her - as the oldest - what she would accept as justice for her father's death. Without hesitation, she gave her famous reply:"Oreedu Abi 7ayan" meaning "I want my father alive."

And the war went on for another 10 years. Then a 10 year truce was agreed because both sides had run out of young men of fighting age. So they agreed to wait for 10 years so that little boys could grow up to fight and be killed. I think this was the most bizarre ceasefire agreement in history.

After the ceasefire ended, another tribal delegation attempted to bring a peaceful resolution to the war by extending the ceasefire indefinitely. And again, AlZeer referred the matter to his nieces. And again AlYamama stood before everyone and repeated "Oreed Abi 7ayan."

This time the war went on for 20 years.

Yesterday I watched a history program about the AlBasoos War on one of the Arabic satellite channels. They called it "The War of Two Women" because AlBasoos and AlYamama were so pivotal in the start and continuation of the war. An interesting point I had never considered before. Certainly food for thought for those of us who think that if women ruled the world there would be far less futile violence!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Baby Powder

We lost a big project yesterday. Especially painful because we've had it for 3 years. We'd come to assume that our contract would automatically be renewed every year. Instead the client decided to re-tender the contract this year. And we lost it. A competitor was able to offer better rates. Two competitors actually. We came third.

I'm mad at my management for getting greedy and not trying to offer more competitive rates. Technically I know ours was the strongest bid. We were in from the beginning. We helped set up the company. We designed their business and IT infrastructure. With that kind of headstart, no one should have managed to beat us if it wasn't for what we charge. We're so expensive.

As if that wasn't enough I've been instructed to work on the handover to the new consultant. It's so irritating. I mean, the client decided not to renew our contract. So whose going to be paying for my time to answer the new consultant's questions? I know my firm pays my salary and it's not supposed to be my concern that no one is paying my firm. But it still bugs me. Usually they're paying me because am earning them money. Now they'll be paying me to help a competitor take over. It just sucks.

We got the news around noon yesterday and everyone at the office was feeling demoralized. We didn't get much done. Instead everyone was huddled in groups discussing the tender results.

When I left work I stopped by the co-op to buy some girlie magazines. Vogue, Cosmopolitan, you name it. They're my favored reading when I need to be uplifted. I also got some choc chip cookies, a bag of crips, Baby soap, Baby Oil, Baby lotion and Baby Powder and Baby shampoo(No tears). I briefly considered buying Baby cologne too but decided that would be carrying the theme too far.

So I got home, had my shower and applied all the Baby products and changed into shorts and a t-shirt. Then I took my magazines, crips and cookies into my husband's study to throw myself onto my favorite couch.

The couch is what I got my husband for his last birthday. Our apartment has 3 bedrooms. Since we only use one of them, we converted the second bedroom into a study. I like the room. It's spacious, the lighting is great. Originally the idea was that we could both use it if we needed to work at home. But I hardly ever work at home. And if I do then usually all I need is my laptop. In contrast he always had a 'work area' at home because he always did all his paperwork and research at home. He uses the desktop computer and the fax machine etc....which I never do. And since he doesn't like anyone touching his papers or his computer you could say the room is now very firmly 'his' instead of 'ours'.

The only thing it was missing was a big comfortable couch. The room is very big and I always thought it looked kind of empty. So I got him a big ivory leather couch and a coffee table for his birthday. Only the couch is so comfortable and I liked it so much that now it's become more of a present to myself than to him. At first he would be working and I would be curled up on the couch with a book or with my laptop. Now am always here even when he's not. I've moved my bookcase next to it. And my laptop is permanently stationed on the coffee table.

So I wasted an entire evening just lazing on the couch reading magazines and eating crips and cookies. It's very therapeutic actually. It made me feel better. But it also made me so lazy. It was like the more I lay there, the more I relaxed and the less I felt like moving. As if I was sinking deeper and deeper into that couch. When you're as restless and hyperactive as I am, an evening like that is quite a novelty.

When my husband came home, I heard him calling me and looking for me but didn't have the energy to answer. The apartment is not that big I thought. He'll find me eventually.

And he did. He said hi how was my day. Couldn't find the energy to talk about that either so I just held out my arms. We kissed, then his face was on my neck and he was telling me I smell like I should be in diapers. Surprise, surprise. I asked if it was putting him off. He said no did he look like he was put off? Well no actually. I had to say he didn't. So now I know he has a thing for women in baby powder. I married a pedophile.

The moment didn't last long though. We had guests who - in the inimitable habit of Arabs - arrived without notice and invited themselves to dinner and even stayed for tea and sheesha afterwards. By which time I was completely out of my earlier stupor and feeling as restless as ever. Afterwards I kept my husband up pretty late but then I felt sorry for him and let him go to sleep.

I went back into the study and talked on the phone with a couple of overseas friends. Then I got dressed and sneaked out for one of those famous, late-night drives. I knew he'd be pretty pissed off if he knew but I was going crazy. Couldn't sleep, couldn't sit still, I felt like I couldn't breathe indoors.

I must have done about 100km driving around last night. When I got tired of that I parked somewhere on the Corniche and sat there listening to Omm Kulthoom and smoking. He called. I thought oh great. But he didn't sound angry.

Him: Eh?Mish gaylik nom?(What?Couldn't you sleep?)
Me : La (No)
Him: Lissa mitday2a 3ashan elmashroo3?(Still upset about the project?)
Me : Aiwa (Yes)
Him: Ma3laish(It's ok). Ma tiza3leesh(Don't be upset). There will be other projects.
Me : I know.
Him: Tab inti fain dilwa2ti?(Where are you now?)
Me : Filsayara.(In the car)
Him: 3ayza trawa7i?(Want to come home?)
Me : No
Him: Ok come pick me up.
Me : 7abibi. La. 7aram inta ta3ban. Khaleek mirta7.(No you're tired. Go back to sleep)
Him: Mirta7 ya3ni eh?Ya3ni aseebik kida liwa7dik? La ya sitti. Mish ta3ban wala 7aga. (Basically he's saying he's not so tired that he would leave me alone like that)

So I went home. Didn't have the heart to make him go out when I knew how exhausted he was. He went back to sleep soon after I got home. And I finally managed to drop off too.

Woke up at 11:00am today. Had a brief moment of panic when I thought I'd overslept and missed work. Then I realized today was a national holiday. Al Isra'a WalMi3raj(The Night of Ascension). An Islamic holiday.

That did wonders for my mood right there. A whole day to do what I like with. And he was right. There will be other projects.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Lebanese Night

Last night I went out to join a group of friends at a local club which has been having a Lebanese Night every Thursday since the war started. Basically all the proceeds from these nights go to a couple of relief organizations currently working in Lebanon. I missed the first few because I've had other things on my mind and haven't really been going out on the town. But they told me last night was supposed to be the last one because you see now there's a ceasefire so the Lebanese have completely recovered and are no longer in need of assistance and we may now forget about them just like we forgot about so many other 'causes'.

The height of irony was that last night the group I was with included - among many others - a Southern Sudanese, two Iraqi Kurds, an Afghan, an Iraqi Shia, two Palestinians(one of whom was my friend D.) and numerous Lebanese. The Iraqi Shia - an old friend - told me that right here around this table you have all your favorite charities - just pick up the bill and you have your good deed of the year. There were a lot of similar attempts at humor - which tells you how depressing the evening was at certain points. Well I didn't pick up the bill of course - as if that many Arab guys around would ever let one of us girls even read the bill. I was glad. Apart from me and D. and the other girls, almost everyone present were pretty big drinkers. Even if the proceeds go to Lebanon I don't want alcohol on my credit card bill. I just don't.

I had my first alcoholic drink last night though. Bacardi Gold. Some kind of rum it seems. It was an accident. In the dark I picked up somebody else's glass by mistake and being quite thirsty, gulped down a mouthful before I realized. It tasted awful. I asked him what it was and he told me. Didn't have much of an effect though. Didn't make me happy or anything. Just a faint nausea which disappeared as soon as my food arrived and I took a few bites.

More and more people kept arriving - because everyone was calling everyone they knew etc...At one point D. and I looked around and counted 36 people sitting with us of whom we could only recognize 5 or 6.

The music was terrible to start with. The band started out with a few patriotic Arabic songs about Lebanon. After 2 of those, people indicated that it wasn't going down very well. So they switched to normal Lebanese songs, a great mix really. Folkloric songs, wedding songs, dabki songs, Fairouz, love songs. Most of them we already knew so we were singing ourselves hoarse. And then of course there was the dancing. The club was packed full of Lebanese people. You can't expect any gathering of Lebanese people not to involve a lot of dancing. That was fine with me. I love to dance. Couldn't manage dabki though. All that jumping was too much for my foot so I stopped. A bit of a downer that because the pain was gone, I was wearing heels again and I had assumed it had healed. Oh well the doctor did say 3 weeks so I guess I have to wait 3 weeks for a full recovery.

At about midnight, the Lebanese Night was supposed to be over. The Arabic band left and the DJ came. I happened to be standing quite close to the DJ while he was setting up. He smiled at me and asked me what I'd like to listen to first. Without thinking I said Luthor Vandross. He asked which one. I told him "If I Didn't Know Better". And that was the first song he played. It sort of set the tone for the rest of the night's music. I was thinking how nice that DJ guy was to play all my favorite songs when he and some of the people I was with who I thought were my friends all conspired to stick a mic infront of my face and force me to sing "Spanish Guitar". Without music. The least said about that the better.

Afterwards, I was sitting down alone resting my foot. Everyone else had either left or was on the dance floor. I had my feet up on the bench and was lost in thought for a few minutes. I looked up to find this guy detaching himself from the group he was with and walking over to me. And I thought oh boy. He asked me to dance. I asked him if his friends dared him to dance with me(I could see he was being pushed towards me). He said yes. I knew it. I asked why. He said because they all thought I was South American, that I was hot and that I was a good singer. I said well am not South American. He said you're not Arab. I confirmed that I was. He said he was born in Iraq. The Australian accent had me fooled there. Then he said he would still like to dance. What even though am not South American? Couldn't resist that.

I was tempted. When you're a 30-year-old woman and a 24-yr-old guy is telling you that he and about 6 of his 24-yr-old buddies think you're hot, it's utterly unexpected and very, very flattering. But of course I couldn't. I had a husband who was supposed to join me any minute or at least show up to pick me up given the fact that I still don't drive these days but he had not yet made an appearance, called or picked up any of my calls. Sigh.

K showed up about 12:30am or a little after, he sent me sms saying that the bouncers wouldn't let him in because he wasn't dressed up and that I should meet him outside. Which nearly gave me a heart attack. Visions of him fighting with the bouncers- who could be quite rude if they didn't want to let you in - in a repeat of the performance with that cab driver dancing before my eyes, I rushed outside like a madwoman. But he was standing chatting with one of the bouncers who happened to be Egyptian. Whew.

He was in khakhi shorts, a black sleeveless t-shirt and flip-flops. Now don't get me wrong. I think he looks great whatever he chooses to wear but the thing is, he knew I wanted him to be with me tonight and given that he showed up so late the least he could have done was go home and change. The way he will do anything to avoid socializing with my friends really gets on my nerves sometimes. If those were HIS friends he would have been on time, properly dressed and we would have stayed until the club closed at 3:00am.

As it was I left with him despite the fact that I was enjoying myself and didn't really feel like having my evening cut short.I was silent in the car so he said that if I wanted to go back we could go home and he could change. I said no it's ok I was tired let's just go home.

When we got home, he said he was hungry. Which pissed me off even more. He brought me back from a party to make me spend the night in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove cooking his dinner? But he said he ordered food and I was glad I didn't shoot off my mouth.

Over dinner, I asked him if he didn't like my friends. He said he has trouble keeping my friends straight, that he doesn't enjoy socializing with a lot of people he doesn't know like me etc....

Well it's true that his friends are not a big bunch and we know them all pretty well. But it's also true that I don't always enjoy evenings out with his friends but I still make the effort not to ruin them for him or for anyone else.

I didn't really know who is right and who is wrong there. What I did know was that I didn't want to fight with him about it. So the subject was dropped. Marriage is like that. You drop things.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

For better or worse

Woke up this morning and he was on the phone with his office, taking the week off. Guess he finally decided he just wasn't presentable enough in his condition. Depressing reminder of the current state of affairs.

Went into the bathroom and stood under the shower. Cold shower. Haven't dared to use any hot water since my memorable encounter with it the day I burned myself. I think I developed a phobia and will be having cold baths and cold showers for the rest of my life.

When I came out of the bathroom about half an hour later he was still on the phone. Two lines. His office on one line and he was calling the patients on the other line. For some reason I got irritated. I wanted to speak to him. He was too long on the phone.

Me: Can't M(the receptionist) handle that?
Him: If someone is going to have their surgery rescheduled on short notice and through no fault of their own, then they deserve that I should speak to them in person.
Me: I want to talk.
Him: Let me finish.

What choice did I have?Am only his wife. I went into the kitchen to get us some coffee. While it brewed I had a couple of cigarettes. When I went back into the bedroom he was finally off the line.

Me: Can I talk now?
Him: Tayeb ooly saba7 elkhair, saba7 elsa3ada wala ay saba7.(At least say good morning.)
Me: Saba7 Elkhair?Wain elkhair?(Good morning?What's so good about it?)
Him: Ya sitti rabena mowgood. (He's telling me that God exists i.e. good exists)
Me: You're taking this very well.
Him: And you're not.
Me: Ana khayfa. (Am scared)
Him: Khayfa min eh?(Scared of what?)
Me(getting a little irritated): I don't like having to wonder if you're going to be imprisoned or deported or disgraced. Little things like that worry me. I think it would greatly improve the quality of my life if I didn't have to deal with such concerns on a regular basis.
Him: Point taken. You're right. Ana asif(I'm sorry).
Me: And I didn't like seeing you like that.

He just looked at me.

Me: Did you hear what I said?
Him: Did I look like I was enjoying myself when you saw me like that?
Me: No.
Him: Then I probably didn't like seeing me like that either.
Me: Do you want to talk about this at all?
Him: No.
Me: I don't want to nag.
Him: Then don't. It's not a good time.
Me: Tayeb. Do you want some breakfast?
Him: No. I want you to come back to bed. If I'm doing time or getting deported then I want a proper goodbye.

I started crying.

Me: I smell like an ashtray.
Him: It's ok.
Me: You hate that smell.
Him: I'll live with it.
Me: Do we have time?We're waiting for a call.
Him: We'll let it ring. No rush. We won't miss anything good.

When we first met there were all these endless telephone conversations when I would be too sleepy to concentrate but not wanting to stop talking and lose the connection with him, I'd start talking rubbish. Disjointed, incoherent phrases that we would laugh together over the next morning as he recounted them to me. He's the only person I ever literally talked myself into that kind of oblivion with.

In that sense, making love with him is sometimes like falling asleep. The way I gradually lose track of what I'm saying or thinking, the way I start saying anything just to hear my own voice and his voice talking back, laughing or just repeating my name. Anything to keep the verbal contact.

Sometimes I say things I don't mean for him to hear. And I know he's aware of them - even when I myself can't always remember what I said given that his mind is always clearer than mine. But we've reached a sort of unspoken agreement that he never acknowledges that, never asks me questions. Not unless I bring it up myself.

So when he asked me afterwards if I still wanted to talk I said no. The need wasn't there anymore.

The call didn't come until about eleven o'clock. And he is going to be charged with assault. That was hard. There are several types of assault. Some of them result in fines but most he would have to do time for. For a few hours we didn't know which type, that was supposed to be determined by the investigation which wasn't reassuring given the fact that people here vote with their nationality and most of the witnesses were the same nationality as the driver.

Eventually though it turned out that not all the witnesses were liars - thank God. So he was charged with an offence that has a maximum sentence of 16000 dhs fine for first offenders. Still not good news because it would end up on his record and would create all sorts of problems when he tried to renew his residency and mine since am on his visa.

Later the district attorney himself told us that given the testimonies about my accident, my medical report as mitigating circumstances and a sympathetic judge, he would probably be found innocent in court. Yes he will have to face trial. So that's the only chance that he'll come out of this unscathed. And they won't release his passport until after the trial. Given the bureaucracy here that could be months. Months of nerve-racking and he won't be able to travel. We just have to hope he won't need to travel for work during this period. That would be very, very embarrassing.

An Emarati friend of my father's called while we were with the district attorney. He asked me why I didn't call him right away - that it would have been much easier for him to do something before the case reached the district attorney's office. I felt stupid for not thinking of that before. In this country - like most of the ME - connections are what gets you out of situations like this. My husband doesn't have connections here. He only arrived 2 years ago and he doesn't get out much. But I grew up here and my parents know people. Still my father's friend promised to do his best to get the passport released asap.

So now I'm still worried but am also relieved. I know it could have turned out much worse than this. At least he's home with me and I don't have to worry that he's going to be locked up anymore.

I still can't find it in me to feel sorry for the driver though. He's in pretty big trouble because it seems they found alcohol and narcotics in his blood so he's probably going to be charged with about 25 offences. He will go to prison and then he will be deported. That man is dangerous and should be off the streets. A police officer was telling us that there was a woman in Dubai who threw herself out of a moving taxi because the driver wouldn't stop when she told him to and she didn't know where he was taking her. And that she broke her neck. I was lucky. That man could really hurt someone.


Friday, August 04, 2006

One minute I'm mad at him for losing his temper and getting in trouble. How could he do that, I ask myself? He's not an adolescent. Fighting in the street? Getting arrested? What was he THINKING?

The next minute I'm mad at myself, feeling guilty for causing him all this trouble, feeling so bad for him.

Last night I spoke with my mother who called because she heard from my aunt that my husband went and got himself arrested. Mama started attacking him for being crazy, irresponsible etc...I can criticize him as much as I want but I can't take very much of that from other people before I start getting defensive. So I told her he was only trying to keep me from getting killed. I don't know why I said that. It wasn't true. This was beyond exaggeration. It was an outright lie.

But my mother was instantly contrite. Now she thinks he's a hero. So I guess it served its purpose. I really hate it when people in my family say bad things about him. Really. I cannot take a word against him from anyone am even remotely related to. Especially not them.

And I feel other things in the middle of all that confusion. I have to admit am a little bit nervous around him now. I know it's not fair to act like he's some kind of psycho when he was only trying to stand up for me. But I keep thinking about our fights. The way he would go all cold and withdrawn. The way it drives me crazy to be ignored or made fun of when am already upset. And the way I lose my temper and start screaming, crying, throwing things, slamming doors in my effort to get to him because I want a response. ANY response. And I rarely succeed. I can't think of a single time when he slammed a door. Or swore at me. Or hung up on me. I can count on one hand the number of times I actually heard his voice raised.

Now I find myself thinking maybe I shouldn't be so provocative in the future. Maybe all those times I was really pushing my luck and didn't know it.

Of course I would never say that to him because it would hurt his feelings and it wouldn't really solve anything. I did tell him how shocked I was because it wasn't like him to flip like that. He said people have limits to their patience, that there are extreme situations where anyone might act a little out of character.

He's with his friends now. Some of them came over with him from the mosque after prayer. And of course they all think it's a great joke. And that nothing will happen to him. I wish I could be so sure. I also wish he'd listen and go get himself checked out at the hospital. He's covered in cuts and bruises and keeps wincing when you touch him. I hope he didn't break any ribs. Of course he's too macho to go to the hospital. All he's worried about is how he's going to go back to work on Sunday with his face like that. It's probably not the most reassuring image for your dental surgeon to project is it?

I saw one of his friends slap him hard on the back today and I wanted to go slap the guy's face. Maybe I am developing violent tendencies too.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Haven't been driving lately because of my torn ligaments. Driving places too much strain on the foot. It's almost like wearing heels. I try on my high heels everyday in the morning when am getting ready for work in the hope that I'll get away with them but I find that even wearing them around the bedroom while I finish getting dressed is excruciatingly painful.

So I've been taking cabs a lot. I never realized what an unpleasant experience travelling around Abu Dhabi by cab can be. To start with - despite the fact that all the taxis are brand new cars which I don't understand because I couldn't keep my car looking that new for 3 months and I don't drive it around town all day the way they do - the cab invariably smells filthy because Abu Dhabian car drivers apparently don't believe in bathing or brushing their teeth. Added to which they all chew tobacco and seem to choose the exact moment when you're holding out your hand with the fare to spit it out of the window, wipe their mouths and then brush your hand as they take the money so that you invariably get it on your hand.

Then there is the rudeness. Unlike cab drivers anywhere else in the world, Abu Dhabi cab drivers don't want you talking to them at all. They're never in a conversational mood. God help you if you should dare to suggest they take a different route because you don't want to be stuck in traffic as you're already late for work. Or if you ask them to slow down. Or lower the volume. They will either totally ignore you, pull over and tell you to take another cab or say something rude and short in a mixture of broken Arabic, Pashtun and/or Urdu.

For years I've listened to friends complaining about having to take cabs and now I understand. Being the spoilt princess that I was my parents never let me take cabs when I was growing up. Either they or one of my brothers always took me everywhere I needed to go. Unless I was going with a friend and someone in her family or their chauffer was picking us up. I got my license the year before I left for college and I was driving my brother's car or my father's since he was out of town a lot. Then when I got back and started working I bought my own car. So being without a vehicle in a city where cabs are the only mode of public transport available has been a new experience.

What can I say about yesterday? I took a cab home after work. As I was getting out infront of my building he felt I was taking too long to get some change out of my bag and started yelling at me. I told him to shut up or I'll call the police and report him and virtually threw the money in his face. By then I had the door open and one foot on the pavement outside the car. And the bastard drove off while I was still getting out of the car. I screamed and people in the street came running gathered around the car so he had to stop. But he'd managed to drag my injured foot on the pavement a few yards and it was KILLING ME. Still I was so frightened of him that I practically threw myself out of the car onto the pavement where I crumpled on the floor with tears of pain streaming down my face.

As luck would have it, my husband was coming out of the building on his way to work. I realized that fact when he suddenly appeared infront of me beating up a perfectly innocent Asian bystander he'd mistaken for the driver. I didn't know whether to laugh or keep crying. When people managed to drag him off the guy and explain that he'd got the wrong guy, he attacked the right guy which wasn't the smartest thing to do considering the fact that by then we were surrounded by about a dozen guys of the same nationality - all cab drivers - who tend to stick up for each other on occasions like this. I couldn't even see him anymore because he - and the driver - were in the middle of this great big mass of people and everytime I tried to get close someone would push me back and I would fall and it would take me ages to get back up again with only one foot functioning.

When the police cars were heard everyone disappeared except my husband and the driver who couldn't disappear because my husband wouldn't let go of him. My husband's face was all messed up, his clothes were torn and there was blood on them. And he never said a word. He just kept throwing punches at the guy and kicking him. I kept screaming at him but it was like he couldn't hear me. Even when all those people were around him and I was calling his name just to see if he was still alive in there I never heard his voice.

The police managed to get him off the guy. It took 3 of them. And the guy was on the floor by then crying and yelling that he was a poor man and my husband had killed him - for the benefit of the police I guess. And my dear beloved husband still wouldn't talk or answer any questions. The cops clearly thought he was a madman. I had my doubts too. But of course everyone ignored me. The police in this country don't speak to women. And my husband wouldn't even look at me. For a while I thought something happened to his voice because I'd caught a glimpse of someone trying to strangle him. I went over and stood next to him and he put one arm around me and squeezed. He didn't let go of me for the next half an hour. I was relieved. He was ok and seemed to have regained his sanity. Enough to hand over his driver's license and start to answer questions.

The police officers appeared to be on our side out of pure racism actually. We were Arabs and the driver was an Asian. The police officers were Arabs. Case closed. It's the only reason I can think of for why my husband was not immediately restrained and arrested for assaulting the guy infront of them, not to mention disturbing the peace etc....

The explanations were kind of long-winded. I have no idea how I managed to stay on my feet so long. And then the police officers got on their radio and seemed to get into some kind of technical debate with their headquarters about whether the case should be handed over to the traffic police as a car accident or handled by them as a street brawl etc.....That took forever. Eventually it was decided it was a traffic offence and everyone would have to go to the traffic police headquarters. Except me. My husband told the police he needed to get me upstairs. And they said fine. Two police officers came along with us to take him away afterwards. Never mind that I was what you might call the star witness. As we walked towards the building he seemed to notice me hobbling so he picked me up and carried me all the way upstairs. It made me feel better because I figured if he could handle my weight he can't be seriously injured. Except when we got upstairs I didn't want to go home anymore. I wanted to go with him. He wouldn't hear of it. He was already on the phone to my uncle telling him to come pick me up and take me to the hospital.

My uncle called me and told me not to worry about K, that if K just calls his embassy they will never arrest him for long. Which was terrifying because how long was for long?I really wanted to go with him but I couldn't. I simply couldn't walk at that point. The only way I could have done it is if someone were to carry me or at least let me lean on them and my husband didn't want me to go. I don't think the two police officers would have been anymore cooperative.

So he left and he spent last night in prison. I spent it at my uncle's house - not my uncle who is my age and dating my friend - my other uncle who is older than my father, whose wife bought me my wedding dress and who was once of the opinion that I shouldn't marry an Egyptian because Egyptians are crazy and bad-tempered and very loud and are always getting into fights in the streets - an impression he got from a brief visit to Cairo in the 90's. He and my aunt refused to let me go home when I was released from the hospital. The foot is fine - terribly swollen and blue again but no permanent damage am told. Am just back to using the crutch and I scraped my knee and got a few cuts and bruises on my legs but nothing too disasterous.

This morning he was released on bail - because his embassy intervened. But they have his passport. The cab driver hasn't been released. We still don't know what traffic offence he's going to be charged with. We're going to find out on Saturday. Of course I didn't go to work today. I went to see him at the police station with my uncle and a couple of his friends and found that thankfully they hadn't thrown him into a cell or anything. He'd spent the night sitting in an office. All I could think holding him was that he smelt exactly like a cab driver - which was unnerving. He was upset that I came. Arabs have a complex about their women frequenting police stations and I guess he wasn't immune.

So we were there until about 7:00 this evening. The embassy people were with us from early this morning until we actually walked out of the police station which is truly amazing to me. I can't picture my embassy ever doing anything like that for me. One guy from the embassy was very pissed off at the police for holding my husband's passport but he couldn't get them to release it. He promised he would try to get it sorted out on Saturday since tomorrow is a weekend here and government offices will be closed.

One of the things I found out about him during those hours at the police station was that this was not the first time he'd ever been arrested for fighting - that it happened to him twice before, once in Egypt and once in Sweden. I married a serial offender - a man with a record. He said the ***** cab driver could have killed me. I suppose he could have. Hadn't actually thought about it until he mentioned it. When I felt my leg dragging on the pavement I was terrified of losing it. And then I was distracted by events from my own good health and mortality.

So I got him back home, we ordered some take-out, had a bath together. I had to make sure we scrubbed that awful smell off him. Then I put him to bed and he went to sleep. I tried to sleep too but I couldn't. Too restless. So I got up and caught sight of his dirty clothes scattered all over the floor. Picking them up, I noticed that smell again. Was about to throw them in the washing machine when I had second thoughts. I took them into the kitchen, found a big black garbage bag, threw everything(pants, shirt, tie, boxers) in, tied the bag closed then I got my crutch and went outside to the garbage disposal room in the corridor and threw it in the incinerator. Felt much better. He's still sleeping. And am sitting here feeling shell-shocked and sleepless. Am worried about what will happen on Saturday, what he'll be charged with, if he'll have to go back to jail, if he's going to be tried/deported, what it all means for him and for us etc....I am also still a bit put off by the violence of what happened. I didn't like seeing him like that. I didn't think he was capable of it. I knew he had a temper but his anger was always of the cold and biting variety. I never thought he was the type to hit people. And then to have him tell me he's done it before and act like it's no big deal. I think he should be disturbed by it. I am.