This one could go on forever folks but I will try to keep it to a minimum. I greatly encourage women and men to read this and if you have questions or wish to comment..DO!
(Caveat: This one may insight questions or concerns about my sensitivity towards religion in particular however I am very aware that the local women I speak of in this and any other blog place the highest value on their faith and traditions and I respect that immeasurably. While its very clear to me after Tuesday that women can juggle just about anything:), it would seem at least that certain cultural traditions and religious practices are still a hindrance to the progress of chipping away at the 'glass ceiling' I speak of below; here and likely many other places in the world. Then again, nothing is ever what is seems, is it?)
First things first...Nescafe...why? Why any instant coffee? When I left DC I said I was not going to find good coffee here...and EVERYONE said, 'No, you will find great coffee!'
Where is that coffee??? Every version of Nescafe or AliCafe is available-Gold, Dark, Souq-style...you name it, the grocer has it...but coffee for brewing??? They don't even sell coffee pots but at a few stores....just lots of kettles!)
Today I finally bought a French Press and some Italian Lavazza Cafe Rossa...tomorrow morning I will make real coffee for the first time since I got here!
(That's me in Sharjah today just before my ride on the Emirates Eye...not as high as London but still really fun! I was smiling because of the French Press....jic, smiling because a lovely woman I will be working with in the near future took me on behalf of the office for a mini-tour of Sharjah. It was a wonderful day!)
Now to the Women...Dr. T would not know what to make of the women...
Local women here are by far some of the strongest I have ever encountered...sweet, smart and funny! I went to the Arabian Business Women's Forum at the Armani Hotel, Bhurj Khalifa on Tuesday and was floored by the women I heard speak and met. And I learned we are all fighting the same battles when it comes to jobs, to raising children, to having a life outside of work AND having work that is meaningful and worth our time...never minding religion or cultural traditions. I can honestly draw parallels to my own experiences in business as a woman to these women here, even when taking religion and cultural traditions into consideration.
The talk focused ardently on breaking the glass ceiling...and these women are trying, in meaningful, respectful ways...but how far will they get when the Metro trains still have carriages for women and children only; and women on those trains go out of their way to make sure that any man who enters that car must move to the co-ed car?
(The trains are not co-ed btw because I could accurately guess that for every woman on a train, segregated car or not, their are four men.)
The restaurants are the same. My first time in a restaurant with my friend Shoaib, we sat in the general dining area and I mentioned that perhaps we should move. He said 'No, this is fine,' but sure enough, a few minutes into our wait for food, a waiter came over and suggested that perhaps Shoaib and I would be more comfortable in a 'Family' booth...a large booth more like a room, where men and women or families eating together are 'encouraged' to sit. I merely said, 'Ok', picked up my purse, went to the room we were offered and when we were alone again said, 'See'; Shoaib was surprised...astonished even.
Where the Heart Is
, with Natalie Portman, was on last night. I watched it and didn't realize until near the end that the love scene between she and her love, which is not at all overtly sexual, was completely missing. I realized it when another scene at the end where they kiss again was cut. The film went directly to the last scene of the couple kissing...on their wedding day.
So how can a glass ceiling break at work if the day to day experiences do not change? If women are segregated and not only adhere to it but demand adherence from others? If movies on TV show gratuitous violence and rarely if ever bleep out the curse words but never show sincere, committed love between two adults that are not married; if men and women are 'encouraged' to eat in segregated dining areas. I went to that family room to eat because ostracism is not a good pairing with a delicious Indian Tikka Masala and fresh-squeezed lemon mint juice, but it doesn't mean I liked it. However I am a guest in this country and this is not a battle, as such, I am going to attempt to try fighting...
I will however, blog about it, and ask as part of the thought for the day...what would you do ladies...on the train, in the restaurant, about the movies? What would you do, men? All I know is that glass ceiling looks mighty high from where I am at right now....