Moving to Saudi Arabia: Reality vs Perception



Once the decision was made, other than the sadness of husband and I having to do long distance until my visa situation got sorted, I was really pumped up about the new phase in life. I was constantly planning what all I
was going to do once I left my job, shortlisting all those online courses that I had been bookmarking, getting back to my reading list that had long been on hold, making 24/7 mental notes on how I wanted to decorate my new home and trying to learn about Saudi culture. I even downloaded the most random cooking apps on my phone, even though spending time in the kitchen is the last thing that excites me, because I thought I would have so much time on my hands, I wouldn’t know what to do with it (never got around to using a single of those apps btw).


Expat life of pakistani girl , saudia arabia living
More like, "This is not your life" - is what I wanted to say to many people 
My excited-self was utterly oblivious to how most people around me were looking at these changes. Surprisingly, having to wear an abaya and headscarf seemed to be the most upsetting factor for most people and brought upon comments like: “Haye bechari, wahan tou abaya pehnna pare ga!” It came as quite a shocker to me. I did have my reservations about Saudia but having to wear an abaya and cover my head were really the last of my concerns. I did not cover my head or wear abaya back in Pakistan but I thought of it as part of Saudia’s culture, an adaptation to be made according to the society you’re living in and I was completely cool with that. Still don’t get why it was such a big deal. Quite honestly, it revealed so much about our double-standard mind-set as a people. How so? Maybe that is another post for another day.

Husband took this while he waited 4 hours to receive me - yes, it took that much time, from landing through immigration and luggage claim. Welcome to Saudi Arabia!
While some people cloaked their sympathy under “Chalo, Allah behtar kare ga”, others bluntly told what a suicidal decision I had taken. The crux of the very enlightening conversations I had and the self-righteous judgements I received post this ‘controversial’ decision, left me with the below conclusions: 

What I was doing: Taking a decision with my husband considering only the best interest of us as individuals and our family’s future.
What others perceived: Being forced to sacrifice my career for my husband’s. “Alas! What a waste of talent” - they said.

What I was doing: Taking a break from my corporate job to explore other opportunities and see if there was something that interested me more.
What others perceived: Taking the easy way out of a highly demanding profession by choosing to be an expat house-wife, which apparently only means that your life has now lost all significance. “But you could do so much with your life” - they said.

What I was doing: Taking on a challenging experience by exposing myself to a lifestyle I had never lived before. A change in circumstances always opens up new avenues and I looked at this transition as an opportunity for us to grow as a couple.
What others perceived: Taking on an uninteresting life because I had given in to being a conventional desi girl (and that’s supposed to be a bad bad thing, tsk) who couldn’t have any meaningful aspirations of her own. “Chalo, you can learn to cook, at least you’ll have something to do” - they said. 

This was actually the 3rd house I was going to set up since I got married
Did all these judgements bother me? I’d be lying if I said no. That’s not how I wanted to be perceived as a girl, especially when it went against everything I had previously done in life. 

Could I do anything about it? Well, I tried explaining and it didn’t seem to work, not in the short-term at least. Some perceptions can only be changed by actions. 

Was I still satisfied with my decision? Yes. I revisited my reasons every time I had doubt and was reassured each time.

The entire experience reinforced the sad reality that people are going to say what they are going to say. Such reckless comments mostly result in bringing you down and raising doubts about even the most well thought-out plans. So save your energy and power through, not everybody deserves your explanations. Blocking out such negative noise is the best way to deal with it. If you're lucky, they'll stop talking when you stop reacting.

Check out Part I of Moving to Saudia here.

Here's to unsolicited advice, cheers!



6 comments

  1. I must say I admire your approach. Not a lot modern girls from our generations are able to think like that these days...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nadia :) We all have different approaches in life, its only sad when we can't respect other people's approach.

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  2. It makes so much sense, the way you wrote this. I feel guilty of judging many girls myself this way :(

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  3. I just came across your blog.. Yaay for having such a fresh approach to being sorted..

    Read this interesting article which said sometimes people are being brutally honest they are more brutal than honest..


    http://www.oprah.com/inspiration/elizabeth-gilbert-how-to-figure-out-who-to-trust?FB=fb_omag_elizabeth_gilbert_who_to_trust

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Nabeel!
      That sounds like an interesting article, I'll give it a read :)

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