Winter Cold Moon
Brother Mark went on a tour of Saudi Arabia over break. He saw a bit of Medina from a bus, haram to kafirs, and much of a part of Saudi Arabia where the Nabataeans lived. The Nabataeans built Petra, the great rock city, now in Jordan.
(a view in Jordanian Petra)
It widens the personal when siblings live such far ranged lives as Mark’s in Riyadh and Mary’s in Singapore. It means events in certain corners of the world, say Syria or Lebanon, have immediate interest for me aside from their geopolitical consequences. Singapore shows up in the news a lot, too, most recently as an unhappy place.
Skype means we can see each other regularly and speak to each other at the same moment, if not the same time. Video phones! The future! Their lives have differences from mine that I cannot imagine, most prominently work environments where the expectations of other cultures are not only evident, but in charge.
Personal life, too, is much different, of course. Take Mary’s story on the flowering palm at the Singapore Botanical Garden. Or her dancing in street festivals with colleagues. Or our visiting the fire-walking at a Hindu temple when I visited her. Mark works as a Caucasian minority in a nation virtually closed to tourists, but thronging with foreign workers, among them his fellow teachers at Riyadh University.
He told a story in a recent e-mail: “I got let out at these nice ruins by this older guy who let me in. He had driven me out to the ruins, they were a ways out from the gate. I was dumped out by him. I had a fairly good time inspecting these really cool ruins. Then, the same guy comes up with two cops in a jeep. One Arab interprets, I am free to go. I walked to another site, then walked out, as I agreed. I was walking out when the same old guy who let me in appears with some other dude, probably a cop. He was in plain clothes. I have tea and coffee with the cops. Then, the plain-clothes cop gives me a lift to a hotel. Closely following were the same two cops from the ruins in a police jeep.”
Not to mention of course that we have snow and zero temps. Mark’s in the desert and Mary’s in the tropics.