Monday, March 27, 2006

Flash back...

This story from Gulf News today not only touched me immensely, but reminded me much of my first ever experience, on my first ever night in the United Arab Emirates.

When we arrived here, a home had already been prepared for us.

It was elegantly furnished from plush carpets & matching curtains, to bedroom sets and cooking utilities. And I’m not talking about the norm, either. I mean fantastic Christian Dior vases and Swarksy Crystal ornaments that finished-off each room. In addition to the furniture were countless sets of bed-spreads, linen & bath towels (all of which had been previously scented with Bakhoor). The bedrooms were filled with cosmetics and perfume for both men and women. Shampoos, deodorants, and soaps, seemed to fill all the drawers, and while lip balms and moisturizers were neatly arranged on top of each of the dressers. And of course, the bathrooms were filled with more than a months supply of just about anything you could need there.

The kitchen was filled with electric mixing, blending & chopping devices that my mom would never learn how to use; despite her many attempts. The cupboards and the fridge were full of more food than we could possibly eat in half a year; and almost all of it seemed to bear a ‘diet’ or ‘lite’ label; as if our hosts recognized we’d have to diet if we were ever going to reach the end of what seemed like a ridiculous amount of food for any five member family to have in their house at one time. I still remember having to throw away almost two full cupboards of moldy assorted breads & baked goods, just a week after we came. And I remember that beside the fridge was a stack of soft drinks as tall as my brother; and since no one in my family drinks the stuff, he certainly drank his height in sugar rich junk all by himself in less than a few months time.

Outside, our yard had been artistically designed to a host a beautiful arrangement of cactus’s and other desert plants. Which just so happened to lure an actual cow and five or six lambs into our yard for breakfast, while my family and I were just waking up. We learned to keep our gates closed that morning.

And of course, in the yard was a new Nissan Patrol, the keys of which had been given to my father.

My family was spoiled with gifts when we first arrived. My family isn’t Emirati. My family had not expected or requested such extravagant gifts. My family had never witnessed such generosity before.

Things have changed a lot since then. I’m not sure if a guest to my family’s host would receive the same treatment today as we received back then. And I’m pretty sure ‘stray’ farm animals wandering into your yard, on any given morning in modern Dubai isn’t going to happen. With all the drastic changes taking place, I hope the sheer generosity of this culture doesn’t take a huge hit. Being given something, anything rubs off on most people. And in return, my family and I found ourselves far more willing to give to others without any reason other than taking the opportunity to do something nice for someone else.

But why in the world are these fantastic displays of Arab generosity, which can be found often in any of the regional newspapers, not highlighted more often or recognized by other nations?

I’m a Canadian. I’m pretty sure that no government official, no matter how large their personal bank account, under any circumstances would even consider duplicating such an unsolicited, unexpected, over-whelming act of charity as Sheikh Mohammed just did for that family.

Now, I'm going to finish reading the paper.


Blogger Balushi said...

someone pls send sheikh Muhammed to my house!

1:51 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger MD said...

i read this story this morning and it was very touching. i loved the part where the kid asked shk mohammed who he was. i just smiled., theyre beautiful :P

2:32 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

Aren't they, though... It was actually one of the better written articles found in the Media here, I suppose that helped us feel the emotional attachment to it...

2:38 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

That was a really beautiful story, but you couldn't sell it in the West because everybody would think there was some ulterior motive. In fact I'm surprisd it was published here.

5:24 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Hot Lemon& Honey said...

This is what I miss about Dubai..the people's generousity, the hospitality..although thats changing :(

5:39 PM, March 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Secret Dubai might conviniently avoid commenting on this :)

5:42 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

because everybody would think there was some ulterior motive...

Doesn't that say volumes? And it’s very, very true, as far as I see!

5:42 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

I SO want to know who anon is, right now! lOooOoOL! What a cheeky comment!

5:43 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger Hot Lemon& Honey said...


5:52 PM, March 27, 2006  
Blogger MD said...

hahahha anon :P

i loved this story and u're right. for a change, it is beautifully written. to be honest, there was something about this story that crushes the 'ulterior motive' theory. this is not the first time shk Mo has donated - he has made larger donations to charities.

7:00 PM, March 27, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep it was a refreshing little story wasnt it:)

However, I always feel that such acts of generosity, whenever they come, should be can I put it.. "distributed"..

I mean, if Sheikh Mo had divided the "genorosity" given to Jasem and his family by 10(or even 20!), he would surely have changed 10 or 20 more families lives instantly, instead of just one! At the end of the day, ANY underpriveledged family or person would appreciate any amount or stuff given out of need not be the FULL package, it can be just a little, and more people could be given more littles..

Geez, am I making sense?!

And while on that topic, the CALTEX roadstar thingie is going on, as it usually does ONCE every year. I always think, why dont these guys make it a monthly or fortnightly affair, and if required reduced the AED 750 to AED 200 maybe? Even THAT sum would make a good driver delighted, and if they prolong the program round the year, it encourages more drivers to be better and more responsible!

Ok I have to stop now:)

HLH and TF, how is the correspondence going on? :P

11:25 AM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

Welcome back anon... I hear what you're saying but tend to feel that charity is often given emotionally more so than logically. I think this little boy touched Shk Mo in a way that made him want spoil him and those who raised him a little.

And I'm pretty sure this doesn't mean he stops all the other caritable things he's doing for other families here, either.

And about the 750 and 200Dhs... What is CALTEX roadster? Honestly, I have no idea what you're talking about....

3:11 PM, March 28, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol TF, Caltex Roadstar CONTEST is an annual event where the Traffic Dept. of Dubai teams up with Caltex, cruises the roads with a Radio2 presenter and awards cash prizes of AED 750 instantly to drivers who follow all the rules on the road. The prizes are given 4-5 times daily for a week or so, but only once a year.

I felt that instead of just one week in a year, why not make it every month or ever fortnight, but for the FULL year, and probably reduce the prize money from AED 750 to 200, thus facilitating more winners and at the same time not causing too much extra damage.

Overall, the idea is to encourage good driving, not win cash prizes, but it could be a good incentive to carry on all year and encourage good driving!

P.S You didnt tell me how the correspondence with HLH is going on:)

4:40 PM, March 28, 2006  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

This must have been advertised as well as most other events here, huh?! LoL! I think I heard something about something like this a few years back, but I didn’t realize it was an annual thing.

And our conversations are going just fine, thank you very much. :)

4:53 PM, March 28, 2006  

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