Tuesday, August 01, 2006

this and that

well... w/ so many things happening in the world right now, it's hard for me to think about things to write about, feeling like most of what i could write would be just dribble w/ no meaning.

i guess i could talk about the difficulty of being an american in the middle east right now. the difficulty that i face w/in myself as i walk down the halls of my office w/ so many bahraini men sitting on the sofas watching the news of the war in lebanon (they have the TV blaring every day)... i walk by knowing that many hate israel and the u.s. and wondering what they say because i'm an american.

i know that what is happening in lebanon is not my fault and there's nothing i can do to stop it... but i feel that we are blamed - even as individuals. not by all but by some... and i can feel it as i walk past some ppl and it's not a good feeling. i find that i get angry sometimes at ppl's lack of understanding and then, at times, i want to hide my head in shame.... but then i push myself to walk tall and know that i am not responsible for this and if they want to hate me, then they will hate me. my husband says that they will never say anything to me because i'm married to an arab... but still.

before this war broke out in lebanon, i was sometimes asked by some why the american ppl don't protest and get the govt to stop what they're doing in iraq. why don't the families of the soldiers do something and insist that their children be brought home. i sit and don't know what to say to such questions. i feel that nothing i say will be good enough. ppl do protest in the u.s.... ppl do speak out but it falls on deaf ears.

now w/ lebanon and the u.s.' support behind israel... the one group of ppl that many arabs love to hate... i find that i get even more of a sense of isolution. a feeling of being an outsider looking in... of being alone. it's a difficult feeling at times. i don't get this at home or when i'm out, but i get it a lot at work. i'm the only american here... ppl didn't like it when i was hired. it was a secret for a while, matter of fact. i wasn't allowed to do some things for fear that the media might find out and report that i'm working here... which all makes for a pleasant working atmosphere. (on a side note - it's never been a horrible working atmosphere here - just w/ a few individuals that don't bother me now - unlike the atmosphere of where i used to work - so much jealousy from ppl because i was an american working there)

in the beginning, when i first started working here, i had ppl come right up and ask me how i got this job.... what were my qualifications... who did i know. it all used to piss me off, to be frank. and now... w/ this war, i feel like an outsider again. i don't like this feeling, altho i try not to think about it, except when i have to pass all the men sitting out watching the news coverage.

anyway.... it's all very depressing... the war... the killings. i hate war.


TechZ said...

People are humans at the end of the day. It's easier to blame than to do anything about a situation. Right now, most people are helpless to stop whats happenning in Lebanon, Palestine or any conflict area. So what do they do? They blame whomever is close by.

I'm a muslim, and I have American friends, I feel no animosity towards them regardless of what happens around the world, I do feel hate for the government, i.e. the American govt. that stands by when all this is happening, in Lebanon, and what happened with Iraq, AND whats happenning in Palestine.

I have noticed even Americans are divided about the war in Iraq and other places, so many innocent soldiers barely in their early twenties, dead. But thats War for you.

Don't feel isolated, take action and if nothing else blog, raise awareness that not all Americans are that image of "any muslim is a terrorist".

From the short time that I've read your blog, I have a very high opinion of you and dont for a second doubt you are a very good person, who reflects the better part of the west that most of us here, don't get a chance to see, just as you as an American tend to only see the negative due to your media.

Hope you feel better :)

Olivia said...

Techz is very kind.

I honestly can't imagine what it's like being in your shoes.

My being a naturalised American back in my native England sort of makes me an "honorary American" in these group debates but they never succeed in dragging me into an argument.

I really don't know what to think anymore. In war and conflict there is no black and white, only grey.

It is not cut and dried, or clean over in a few days, like in the movies. It's real life, and it's dirty.

MoClippa said...

Tooners I know what you mean about feeling like the outsider, but you shouldn't.

You are a part of the community, try your best to forget them, because if some people do harbor those feelings to you, they are just misdirecting anger.

Always remember you are American not America, walk proudly and let them know you are an individual.

saba said...

it is truely sad...its funny though..they ask why dont the americans protest..excuse me but i dont see the arabs doing anything either...sweets, next time some one blames u like that just ask him or her the same..why dont you protest?? why on earth is yor government not supporting Hizb Allah..or even trying to stop the massacares happening in lebanon?? ask them where the f**** is your arabic army?? ask them...why are you asking me, when u are just as guilty if not more..because you eat three meals a day, you sleep in a warm bed, you ride a conditioned cadillac ..where who you call ur brothers and sisters in palestine and lebanon, are starving, dying, crying, sleeping in the streets..ask him, would you give up a meal to feed a child? ask him......would you protest first?

Fuck im angry
sorry tooners

Leilouta said...

“My husband says that they will never say anything to me because I’m married to an Arab”

That is so true, in their minds once a foreigner or even better a non Muslim female marries a Muslim man then she is one of them. I noticed that a lot with my mom being an American and her American and French friends in Tunisia.
Actually my mom had no problem at all in Tunisia, she was really loved, but that was before 911. Maybe things would be different if she was still alive today.

She also felt the same way you felt during the first Iraq war in 91.

Chris in MB said...

"i had ppl come right up and ask me how i got this job"

WOW, that's a little blunt & beyond rude!

Personally I would have told them I'm a CIA operative or an undercover Mossad agent, but that would have just fanned the flames I guess.

I'm wondering if you were a man would the situation be better or worse?

tooners said...

chris, when i first came to bahrain, one of my husband's friends kept asking me about being in the CIA. i honestly think he believed i was... this was right after 9/11. i would laugh and tell him i was here spying on everyone. ;) and w/ respect to ppl coming right up and asking me.... yeah, i thought it was very rude too, but thankfully i stood up for myself. i've had a few run-ins like this but if i'm stern, ppl leave me alone, i've noticed. altho, then they think you're rude... so it's double edged sword! it's all a game really.

saba, you know, i've thought about this same thing. matter of fact, i was at my FILs house lastnight watching the news... waiting to see if some type of conversation started about it... and thinking i would say something like that, but it didn't and i didn't. i have said this on blogs.... but i also see other arabs saying exactly what you are saying. i couldn't agree more.

techz, i've been thinking about what you're saying and i think blogging is a good idea...altho sometimes i wish that i didn't feel so afraid to say what's really on my mind. but, sometimes, the real truth is the best. thanks for your kindness... maybe one day we'll meet up at one of these blogger meetings.

olivia, i agree... it's REALLY dirty. there is no black and white.... it's just really ugly. and like you, i hate to get in the middle of such debates because w/ some ppl, you can argue until you're blue in the face but it won't matter!

moclippa, i've been wondering about you! me and my husband were talking about you lastnight. where are you at now? when i first came here, that was my goal... to show i was an individual and different and to show that not all americans are bad ppl... but sometimes it gets hard to keep going... but i will push along!

leilouta, hey! you know, even w/ the rioting here by the american embassy and us living so close to there, i don't fear for my safety. we've passed riots in our car before... it's obvious that i'm not arab, but i have never felt fear. everyone is very accepting of me... but it's just the feeling i get right now... it's a heavy feeling inside your heart... knowing things aren't right but being looked at in a certain way because of where i'm from. but i'll tell ya this, it does let me see things from a whole different perspective... opens my eyes to things that i never realized before. if that makes sense.

Olivia said...


are you feeling better today?

Ms Bees Knees said...

sorry you feel so isolated at times. just know that we are here for you hon! email me whenever you just need to vent! take care babe...

TechZ said...

I wouldn't say it, if I didnt think it was true :-)

Hope you're feeling better today, some days war and the effects it has, really get to us, regardless who we may be or where we are from. I guess in today's world you got to be tough, but manage to keep from ending up cold and bitter at the same time, a tall order to expect from anyone.

take care!

The Moody Minstrel said...

I remember back in the early 90s when a teenage Japanese exchange student in Baton Rouge accidentally went to the wrong house when going to a Halloween party and wound up getting blown away with a .44 magnum. The news media here in Japan had a feast, and it seemed like my whole world changed. In the blink of an eye I went from being an amusingly awkward outlander to an unprincipled savage from a hateful, barbarian culture. I remember the frosty looks I suddenly started getting, the ugly mutterings, the questions as to whether I'd owned a gun or had ever shot someone myself, the smugly self-righteous pronouncements about how much more civilized Japan was, the general feeling that I was no longer welcome, the even clearer reluctance from businesses and services to have anything to do with me and the guilt trips they gave me when they did.

I also know that it didn't amount to spit compared with what you're probably having to deal with right now, Tooners. Frankly, I'd call it a credit to Arab civility that you're treated as well as you are despite everything. Arabs in the U.S. (or even Sikhs, for that matter, since they have dark skin, beards and turbans) certainly haven't fared as well after 9/11.

Hang in there, Tooners.

vampyregirl said...

I can only imagine what it must be like for you there. Hope you are feeling better.

I remember the last time I was in england (2 years ago) and I got bombarded by questions about Bush, like I was working for him.

So I can only imagine yours is a million times worse!

tooners said...

yes, I'm feeling much better now. Hubby took me on a weekend getaway, which was the perfect recipe!

The TV in the hall here at work is still on - it is every day - and they still watch it, and since I have to walk past that area to go to the ladies' bathroom, I get a sad feeling every time... I probably will for a while.. hopefully this doesn't get worse.

Minstrel!!! I've been wondering about you. Are you back from holiday? Did you have a good time? You know, some stores here have little signs on the windows that put down America and Americans. I get looks in some small stores and if I go to small villages, ppl stare at me. I've had kids yell bad things at me before when out walking, which is hurtful, but I try to ignore it. They've been protesting against America here... hopefully it doesn't get worse.

I can't imagine how it must have felt for you... ppl can be so mean. I remember hearing something about that kid getting shot.... or something similar to that, but it's been a while, right?

But yeah, after 9/11, it has been hard for Arabs in the U.S. I know my husband had some difficulties in Dallas after it happened. We had one guy start stuff w/ us at the mall once, and some guys in a pick-up truck once started saying negative things to us, and then some guy tried to pick a fight w/ my husband when we were out playing pool once. Altho, he doesnt have a beard and is light skinned... but it doesn't matter w/ some ppl. It's just like that Latino guy who got shot in the States cuz they thought he was Arab. Thankfully guns are outlawed here!

There was a story in the GDN the other day about this expat couple who were out walking and these Bahraini youths started throwing rocks at them. One hit his wife in the leg. They were yelling things at them. Whose to say where this couple was from... but, honestly, it shouldn't matter. Things like this shouldn't happen.

Olivia said...

I didn't know a Latino guy was shot in the US for looking Arab.

Last year, here in London, huge story. A Brazilian was chased into the Tube station by police and shot point blank - they thought there was a bomb in his backpack.

Turns out he ran because he hadn't paid for his ticket.

What do you do? In those situations adrenaline runs high and even the British police get trigger finger. They couldn't use a stun gun in case the "bomb" was wired.

Look what a world we live in now.

Olivia said...

Well, hang on, they approached him outside the station, he ran, and they gave chase - I think he was also here illegally, his visa had run out or something.

It was the backpack. For weeks afterwards you should have seen people sneaking peeks at other people's backpacks in the trains.

tooners said...

olivia, i can only imagine what it must have been like. i remember when that happened there. all of this stuff puts ppl on edge to the umpth degree. i get warden messages from the u.s. embassy most every week about this demonstration or that demonstration. seems like they're getting more assertive in their words as well. talked to my mom lastnight and she hates that we live here. believes that WWIII is coming and truly thinks that this is the worst place to live. this makes it all very hard. i can understand the lebanese when they say that they can't get up and just leave everything. it's more difficult to do then some believe.

Greg said...

Tooners: I've been reading your blog and I have a feeling(which is probably unwarranted) that you sometimes regret having moved to an Arab country, having married an Arab man and having had to be part of an enviornment that has nothing but pure hate for anything American or Jewish. By the way for the sake of clarity I'd like to point out that until we here in Israel decide to grant the palestinians a state of their own, which would be suicidal for Israel, there is no such thing as "Palestine". Bloggers on your site continue talking out in defense of this unknown entity: "Palestine." In fact, the first Palestinians were Jews who settled in Israel having returned to our historical homeland in the first and second aliyas.

You say "now w/ lebanon and the u.s.' support behind israel... the one group of ppl that many arabs love to hate..."

How very true...Arabs simply love to hate Jews. It seems that it's in their blood. They hate us becauses we've actually accomplished something in our history while they live in poverty, stagnation and are in conflict with the rest of the civilized world.

Sorry to offend your Jew-hating readers but I had to do it.

tooners said...

Greg, do I regret moving here? Sometimes I do. But, I do not regret having married my husband. I regret that a lot of Arabs refuse to understand that American politics and the govt are separate from Americans. Not all Arabs are like this, but some. I know MANY who do know the difference and aren't racist... but there are those out there who are... but you find that anywhere!

I'm sorry that you find that I'm unhappy w/ my marriage from reading my blog. I don't see that at all to be honest. I get unhappy sometimes living here, but I think it's normal. And especially w/ all that's going on in the world, I find that sometimes I wish we were living back in the States. Maybe one day we will. :)

As far as Palestine and all that stuff... I won't comment on that because I don't know enough about it really.

Greg said...

tooners: thank you for clarifying things for me!

God bless!