Why am I cursing poor Dan Humphrey you may ask? Well, ever since I started watching Season 5 of Gossip Girl, I’ve been bitten by the writing bug. Well, to be honest, I’ve been infected by the malady for a while now; this blog itself is an amateur attempt to practise writing something-anything, which someone might find it worthwhile reading.
Now, I find that a close friend and I have been privy to lifestyles of certain individuals which some people would find captivating and maybe even entertaining, embellished by a touch of artistic license, of course. However, only if we go ahead and breach the confidence and trust which is a tacit part of most relationships. After watching Dan Humphrey’s ‘Inside’ become such a success on a similar premise, although with much more salacious content, I’ve literally got the writing itch.
Another factor which both compels me and hinders me from writing a book about my life in Saudi is the sort of literature currently available on Saudi Arabia. These books usually depict the ‘magic kingdom’ in a draconian light, full of cruel sheikhs inhumanly abusing and locking up women; burdened by a vicious compound of culture and religion that deserves to be reviled. The characters are almost cartoonish caricatures of a few bad individuals that exist in every society. The writers seem hell-bent on twisting the facts to appeal to the tastes of an already brainwashed anti-Middle Eastern audience.
There is a blog based on the book, Desperate in Dubai, and although you can immediately tell its been written with the commercial aspect in mind, I don’t think I could write a whole book in that strain. Correction: I could, but I wouldn’t. Firstly, thank God, this is Saudi, and secondly I don’t want to propagate that false gold plated Swarosky studded vodka drinking on a drug-high, sleeping around image. I’m sure there are few of those types here as well, but then I know a few of those characters exist in every country regardless of culture and religion, be it Hong Kong, Mumbai, Brunei, Singapore, Milan, Riyadh, Dubai, or Gossip Girl’s New York City- Upper East Side to be exact..
When I joined the Amazon Associates program I chose the option that adverts should be shown according to the content of my blog, I was expecting some Middle Eastern themes, but as I tend to write reviews of Western literature, I thought those books would most likely be advertised on my blog. Instead, I had to deal with titles like Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil, by Jean Sassoon (Argh!). I would have never thought possible a book could spread so much misinformation and bad PR.
I want people to know what Saudis are really like. A very small percentage lives as Bedouins living in tents and riding camels! They are not all evil or all saints, but like most of us, somewhere in between. The stupendous rise in wealth and modern conveniences in a very short time from the seventies to eighties has no doubt created a society with curious eccentricities, which can be understood, if not always justified. I wish to lift the veil of mystery, and mistrust that shrouds Saudi Arabia and shed light on a generally hospitable people. The urban culture of the larger cities has gone through immense changes since the eighties, so the stories of old seem even more irrelevant.
That’s not to say that everybody or everything here is the same as NYC, London, or Paris, or even Dubai, although the people I socialise consider at least one of these cities their second home. Saudi Arabia has its unique flavour, and but keep your mind open and expect the unexpected.
If I feel brave enough to accept the challenge, I may share anecdotes from the lives of local residents with a bit artistic license, of course 😉