Friday, November 04, 2005


Got a call on the community centre emergency phone this evening. It's a new system we have in place now that the caretaker has retired. It was the saudi union and they couldn't get access to one of the rooms they use, someone must've locked it today. So I headed up and got the keys from the office (only when the path was clear of women for me to pass). After opening the door the guy who had rung invited me to return to share a meal with them as they celebrated Eid together. It felt quite an homour to be invited so I took him up on it and returned. It reminded me that I'd had the privilege of attending the prime minister's open house in Malaysia for the Hari Riya (eid) celebration last year. I would link to my travel diary, but seeing as it is in old fashioned pen and paper I can't, nor can i be bothered to type it up. Suffice to say I got to shake the hand of the Malaysian prime minister and get on the front page of the english language Malaysian newspaper (albeit in a where's wally form, though a white man, 10cm higher than everyone else isn't that difficult to spot!)

So anyway, I felt it an honour to be invited to the saudi society get together. At first I was put in a room of arabic speaking men partaking in a quiz game that seemed to be causing much merriment, though I was not understanding anything, and remembering what it is like to be the ethnic minority for a change. During the meal I got chatting with a guy called Iyad who was very interesting and was explaining all manner of Islamic history from a saudi islamic perspective. Which was refreshing, much more moderate than I would've thought. Though of course we chatted on common religion ground and a bit of religious history etc. I found it quite refreshing and hope that perhaps this dialogue can continue.

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