Tag Archives: neighbors

What Does it Mean to be Southern?

240_f_3656785_2opvrso4oooe0kbyd93bakzrjcgjcwyu

First of all, by “Southern”, I mean those who are either from the Southern states of the USA, or they have relatives there.  I found this quote to explain…

“More than any other part of America, the South stands apart. Thousands of Northerners and foreigners have migrated to it … but Southerners they will not become. For this is still a place where you must have either been born or have ‘people’ there, to feel it is your native ground. “Natives will tell you this. They are proud to be Americans, but they are also proud to be Virginians, South Carolinians, Tennesseeans, Mississippians and Texans. But they are conscious of another loyalty too, one that transcends the usual ties of national patriotism and state pride. It is a loyalty to a place where habits are strong and memories are long. If those memories could speak, they would tell stories of a region powerfully shaped by its history and determined to pass it on to future generations.”

— Tim Jacobson, Heritage of the South
That’s a great quote, but I’m a little upset that Mr. Jacobson didn’t include Alabama in that list.  Nevertheless, the concept remains.
Many people look at the South and think racism, marrying relatives, or uneducated.  Well, let me just say that those are ignorant stereotypes, and in the South, you can find many of the most kind hearted, friendly and down to Earth people that you’d ever want to meet.  Of course, there’s the occasional radical that stirs things up and commits atrocities, but isn’t that the case everywhere you go?
I’ve lived in the Middle East for more than 20 years, but part of my heart will always be in the South, and here’s why…
Being from the old South and raised in proper Southern ways means that you still believe in a genteel way, a way that communicates your appreciation for beauty, generosity, being a good neighbor, and a devotion to God and the land that you’re standing on.  It means smiling at a stranger and saying, “Hi”, or holding the door open for someone, helping a stranger with heavy bags or telling a joke to make everyone feel relaxed.
It also means dressing up no matter where you go, even if it’s just to the supermarket.  My Southern “lady” grandma taught me that.  She said that the very day that I decide to go in my sweat pants to the supermarket is the day that the Mayor will be there, or TV crews will be doing a story about the high prices.  She taught me to look my best all the time.  Sometimes I look around today and wonder if anyone else got that memo.
She taught me how to eat with my mouth closed and walk like a lady.  She said that a lady or a gentleman should eat and walk with no sound at all.  Until now, I hate the sound of dragging or sliding feet.
Most of all, she taught me devotion to family, and that family sticks together no matter what.  I’ve passed on a great deal of my “Southernness” to my kids, and I’m proud of that.  I may wear a hijab now and I live in a place that I have to miss the sight of open land and clear blue skies, but the best of the South is within me, and that’s been passed on. So, on that note, Y’all have a great day, and come back and see us soon, Ya hear? 🙂
Oh, and don’t forget that you can enjoy my book, Desert Magnolia in both print and as an Ebook via many online stores such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, via http://www.bluejinnimedia.com

NEW SCREENING of LEMONADE! Book tickets NOW! :)

poster-final

Hey there! Good afternoon and Happy Friday to everyone. I have a VERY important announcement to make. I have the details for our screening of Lemonade, and guess what? When you book a ticket on the link that I shall now provide, you can come to ALL of the events at the WOW festival! Since we are presenting a film that promotes awareness of special needs, we may also avail of the special needs discount option, so go ahead and book your ticket. Don’t forget that the money all goes to support the Al Jalila Foundation, so by coming to my event and any of the other events at the festival, you’re supporting children in need. 🙂 Here’s the details: SCREENING TIME: 8PM
DATE: MARCH 6th, 2017
Location: A4 AL SERKAL CINEMA

and HERE’s the link to purchase your WOW Festival membership so that you can get into all events for the festival.

https://www.wastatickets.com/events/world-of-women-wow-women’s-day-program-membership

 

The Arabic Granny and the Southern Granny…

dreamstime_s_30221865 The Southern granny has long been known in the media as being a sweet little “Paula Dean” type of character, humming a little tune to herself as she cooks fried chicken with a side of deep fried pickle slices whilst sporting a little apron with images of chickens or a funny little slogan on the front. When you walk into her kitchen, you can smell the cornbread being baked and with a big welcoming smile, she’ll offer you a big glass of sweet iced tea before you’ve had a chance to sit down.

Once you’ve finished eating, she won’t let you get up without a slice of one of her pies that she has undoubtedly prepared ahead of time for your arrival. Overall, you’ll feel very well taken care of, and she won’t let you wash a dish or do a thing. She’ll take care of all of it for you.

I had a granny like that back in Alabama, and my dear God, how I miss her everyday.  In fact, Christmas time is a very sad time for me because not only was her birthday Xmas, she died around this time of the year as well, so it always leaves me with a hole in my heart where someone used to be.  If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting one or being cared for by one, consider yourself very very lucky indeed.

dreamstime_s_10249187  As unique as my grandmother was, I did have the pleasure of being cared for by another, although, as I was her daughter in law, she expected me to help.

The Arabic granny greets her grandchildren in much the same way as a Southern grandma would.  She also has a big meal prepared, but the chicken will be part of a dish known as Byriani, so it’s cooked in a pot with rice, onions and fried carrots. Just like the Southern granny, the Arabic granny has a lot of sweet treats and home made bread for her family as well.  She even hums, but it’s not a bouncy little tune like the Southern granny, but a more somber tune.  dreamstime_xs_59217333

Everything for the Arabic granny is a bit on the dramatic side, although you should NEVER say this to her out loud, as it may get you a serious reprimand by the entire family, much in the same way a Southern family would react if their granny was questioned in any way.

Disrespecting her or refusing her food is not allowed by anyone who considers himself or herself to be a lady or a gentleman, and if you dare to cross the line, the men of the family will undoubtedly rise up to defend her, as she is sacred to them.

For a great story with a LOT more to tell you about the high position of the family matriarch in both cultures, why not pick up a copy of Desert Magnolia on http://www.bluejinnimedia.com today?

dm-ebook-final-cover

 

The Arab Family/The Southern Family

240_f_3656785_2opvrso4oooe0kbyd93bakzrjcgjcwyu

Writing Desert Magnolia brought up a lot of interesting ideas that had been spinning in my head for a long time.  We have so many family stories that only serve to demonstrate how alike we really are.

It’s incredibly strange that each and every time I mention this to a person from either culture, they look at me like I’m nuts! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again though.  The deep South has a LOT in common with an Arab family.  There’s a reason that I feel so at home here. 🙂

First of all, hospitality is critical here. Hospitality and generosity. When someone comes to see you, you MUST take care of them in every way. They must have comfortable accommodations, someone to guide them around, and a generous supply of the best cuisine you can offer.   It’s your duty as a lady or a gentleman.  A stingy or selfish person is shunned and avoided. Now, I ask you…am I referring to an Arab family or a Southern family?  Impossible to tell? I rest my case. 🙂

Let’s try another one, shall we? The family is everything, and if someone from your own family is threatened in any way, as a lady or a gentleman, you must defend their honor. Ok, am I referring to a Southern family or an Arab family?

I love many things about the families here, and again, they remind me so much of how families in my home state operate.  People are just plain kind to each other, and they have the best manners ever in most cases. Respect for one’s elders is the most remarkable of these characteristics.  Both Southern folks and Arabs feel that it’s almost unforgivably rude to curse or even raise your voice at your parents, your Aunts/Uncles, etc.

However, there’s always a down side, but interestingly enough, the downside is also similar in both cultures….Gossip, yes that’s what I’m referring to. Gossip and comparing oneself to the “Jones” home next door.  If your neighbor has a Mercedes, often times, many families feel completely empty until they get one as well. Of course, I’m certainly not referring to everyone.  Generally speaking, fake folks like that are not considered part of the “real” culture, but they do exist. The general consensus is that if you’re fake and shallow, you’re not liked very much.

So, if they have so much in common, why all the tension? On my next blog post, I will share some of the funniest tales of the dinner table from both regions for you. In the meantime, why not try Desert Magnolia, my crime drama, on http://www.bluejinnimedia.com?  It’s available as both an Ebook and a Paperback.

desert-local-walks-camel-thar-desert-lead-nose-dramatic-sun-background-39186172-1

A Southern Girl in the Middle East

id-100177431

Image courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The internet made the world become smaller in many ways, but lately, it seems that the world has separated again.  Rather than becoming one human species, we seem to be holding even tighter to the “US vs. THEM” mentality.  Does that mean that we are in fact “devolving” rather than “evolving”?

I moved to the Middle East more than 25 years ago.  You may find this hard to believe, but I hadn’t even traveled internationally before. Americans may not be surprised to read that, as it’s not uncommon for many in the USA to never even apply for a passport.  In many cases, people feel that they just don’t need one.

I got one, however, and I used it.  I came to the United Arab Emirates when I was 24 years old, and I did it solely for love.

I knew my husband could never be away from his family for years at a time, as he was much closer to his family than I was to mine, so I agreed to come and live here.  I really felt that it was such an adventure I was going on…a new land…a new language….new customs.  I had butterflies, as somehow I always knew that I’d never live my entire life in Alabama.

The trip went well, especially considering that my husband and I were coming over with our 7 month old son.  I had been “briefed” by the Saudi Arabian women that I knew in Alabama on Arabic customs, and felt completely ready to meet his family.

When I actually reached the home of my mother-in-law, however, something happened that set the fear in motion.  I heard that big Arabic gate slam behind us.  At that moment, my heart fell into my stomach. My immediate thought at that point was, “Oh God, I’ve ruined my life!  How could I have done that?”

Thankfully, once I got past the initial shock, and I got a job, my own car, and a few friends, I felt much better!  It didn’t take long to figure out that people are basically the same wherever you go, and Arabs and Southern people have more in common than either group would ever imagine.  We sit in the kitchen drinking our iced tea, and they sit in the kitchen drinking their hot tea.  They want to be known for being the most generous people to all their friends and neighbors, and so do we.  They like big homes, big cars, and luxurious surroundings, and so do we.

Once I eased into seeing our similarities more than our differences, life got a whole lot sweeter!!! Just like a big glass of sweet tea? 🙂

If you’d like to read more on this, why not give Desert Magnolia a try?  Find it and all of my works on http://www.bluejinnimedia.com