New blog

OK, the new blog is up at my new site. Well, at least the location is new, with the exception of the new blog and some videos(!) it’s pretty much the same for right now. It’s at:

www.isaharr.com

Click here to go there directly. It’s been fun on livejournal, but I like my digs:-) I’ll still be checking back in on you guys over here, ttyl!

Isaac

Almost up…

The new site www.isaharr.com is almost up, should be up by later tonight. Some of you might have some problems for a couple of days until the DNS propagates through the systems. I’ll be blogging there from now on, barring any sort of problem:-) Make sure you update your bookmarks as the old site will be coming down soon.

Isaac

Blogging on hold..

But just for a few days. I’m trying to set up my new site, just waiting for my domain to be activated. I will be hosting my blog on my site, so I’ll stop using Livejournal. Don’t worry, I’ll still check in on you guys that use it:-) Anyway, everything should go live within the next couple of days… I hope. I’ll let everyone know when I’m up and running.

Isaac

I love technology…

I’m sitting here in Yemen watching a play by play of a baseball game (go Cubs!) over the internet… It’s like a constantly updated scoreboard. They show where the runners are, updated stats, pitch location, etc. It’s quite nice, and the only way I’ll be able to experience baseball over here. Thank God the Cubs play a lot of day games…

Isaac

Women, veils, bluetooth and Yemen

I’ve been meaning to write a bit about how women dress here for a while. A common thought in the west is that men force women to wear what they wear here. I’m sure that there’s a lot of that going on, but I get the distinct feeling that most women here prefer wearing the balto/hijab/veil. Forcing them to not wear them would be like making a woman in the west take off her pants. Walking around in your underwear isn’t exactly scandalous, but it sure would be embarrassing to go to the supermarket like that. Wearing the whole getup is considered modest here, going without one of the items of clothing would be horrifying to most women here.

Having said that, if a (local) woman doesn’t want to wear some of those things, she’s in for a very hard time. Her family (male and female) will give her a very hard time and the men on the street will def. give her a hard time. Many women simply can’t choose what to wear because of their husband and/or family. As you might imagine, this upsets me considerably…

Then there is today’s Yemen Times. I’ll put the first couple of paragraphs up here…

“Fatima, 30, of Sana’a, who asked that her whole name not be revealed, was married and has three kids. Until recently, she was living happily with her family. Then, she was invited to a wedding party in her area. She prepared by putting on makeup and dressing up in a fancy dress to attend the party.

At the wedding party, she spent a lovely time with the other women there. A short time later, her husband was at work, when a friend said to him, “if you want to see hot pictures, turn on your Bluetooth.” Bluetooth technology allows users to send information wirelessly from one device to another, say from phone to phone or computer to computer. Fatima’s husband was excited when he received the pictures, but when he saw them, he was surprised and angered in the same time, because he saw his wife in these pictures.

He immediately went back to his home and asked his wife how her photographs got out. She did not know that some girls took pictures of her at the wedding party, and then sent them by Bluetooth to every mobile nearby. The husband did not believe her, however, and so he divorced her and the lovely family collapsed. Fatima is just one of the victim’s of the downside of new technology. While Bluetooth can be an excellent tool for working and communicating, it can also create serious problems when used irresponsibly.”

See the rest of the article here.

OK, there are so many problems with this I don’t even know where to begin. How about the husband’s hypocrisy? What if someone had spied on her while she was dressing/undressing? If the pictures he saw were of her in some sort of state of undress, he probably would have killed her. No exaggeration, I would expect it, and I’m sure that most locals would too.

At some point, someone has to say that it isn’t a crime to want to see a woman’s face, that it isn’t unnatural to want to see her hair. In addition, it isn’t any sort of moral failing, and it does not reflect badly on a woman if she wants to show her face. There are rumblings along those lines here, but that’s in the big city. In the villages, especially further north towards Saudi, this type of talk is not tolerated.

Just when I am about to give this culture the benefit of the doubt, something stupid like this comes up. I don’t bother discussing it with the locals, it would only piss me off. Today is one of those days that I wonder why this society isn’t even worse off than it is. It is shocking to see how low an opinion the men have of women here, it’s also shocking that they lay all of the supposed faults with sex drive at the woman’s feet. I have read two introductions to Islam for westerners and both have explained the balto/hijab/veil in terms of rape avoidance. According to Islamic thought (and I don’t think that this is supported by the Koran but an interpretation from bedouin circles) women are raped because of their beauty. There it is, it is their fault. Make no mistake, if a guy is caught raping a woman, he is going to die. But frequently, the woman is killed to “preserve their honor.” So called honor crimes are on the decline, but they are still prevalent.

Abdul Summit told me that Yemen is like America in the 70’s. Maybe the 1870’s, but then again, I don’t think we were ever as backwards as they are with women right now…

Well, it happened..

It was just a matter of time really. I went to one of the hotels that is close by for lunch. I sat down and waited for 5 minutes or so. Some guys at another table were eating and greeted me as I came in. Eventually, one of them asked me if I wanted to eat lunch. When I told him yes, I did (was I sitting at one of his tables for the hell of it?) he told me to wait until they were finished with their lunch.

Needless to say I didn’t wait around. It was one O’Clock, in the middle of lunchtime. On my way out I told them that there was probably another place that actually wanted my money, so I would go there. I understand that there are some (rather large) cultural differences, but really, come on…. Serving a customer when they come in doesn’t seem like a huge stretch if you’re going to be in the business of serving people. SIGH…

Isaac

Thoughts about moving….

The current guys that have moved in are really unhappy with the accommodations. They are going to move to a hotel near Tahreer at the end of this month. For about the same money, they could have a place with two beds and their own bathroom. I’ve also heard about apartments that are up to half of what I pay now in the old city, although they are unfurnished. I’ll have to do some number crunching and see if it’s a financial necessity for me to move. There is a lot of appeal to having a nicer place, but I’m afraid that I’d be really isolated. I’ve met some really cool people living where I live. Luca, Nollaig, Christoph, and Michael have all made my trip much more enjoyable. Of course I’ve had some housemates that sucked too, but they never seem to stick around that long thank goodness. I think I’ll stay in my current place and see who moves in and how long they’re staying. That’ll help me make up my mind…

Isaac

New web site hosting?

My .mac account is about to expire. When it was free it was OK, but I don’t think I’m going to spend the dough on it. The mail service is slow and buggy and it’s really expensive. I’ll probably switch over to Yahoo mail and find a new service for hosting my site. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good company for that?

Isaac

Odd day…

Went to the supermarket and while I was there I heard Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” over the music system… Not exactly great shopping music. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the piece, think of the climatic death scene at the end of “Platoon:. Beautiful music, but not what I expect in a supermarket. On the way home, I swear I saw Rosana Dan Danna from SNL. In Yemen of all places…

Yemen does have some wonderful grapes. I saw a bunch and I had to have them, they’re beautiful and they are perhaps the best tasting grapes I’ve ever had. I’ll post pictures later on, they really are that amazing…

Isaac