Saturday, January 26, 2008

Touching taboos

Ron and I just spent the morning and part of the afternoon driving around town with the kids a bit--finding a nice family park (as opposed to the women-and-children-only parks popular here), taking E to a birthday party, having lunch out at a pizzeria (no crushed red peppers to be found!!), and then a little shopping.

First comment: I think we'll be sticking to "local" food fare from now on. It's cheap, it's authentic, and . . . it's cheap.

Second comment--or comments--or the remainder and purpose of this post:

Affection. Specifically, public affection.

Now, I've never been one to hang all over my husband. We rarely even hold hands in public since with four children, at least the younger two will be wanting to take custody of our hands when we're out. Making out in public has also never been on my to-do list, not even in dark movie theaters.

However, PDA is so taboo here that, although I've been told we can hold hands (I'm assuming that means without being arrested), you'll get a number of dirty looks if you do. So, okay, no hand holding. But we also can't hug, give each other a peck on the cheek, or rest a hand on the other's arm (that's "prolonged touching"). Ron reached out to give me a quick squeeze around the shoulders in one store, and the saleswoman (Asian, not Middle Eastern) gave us a warning look and then a quick smile when Ron backed off. Although I still insist I don't cling to him when we're out, I'm more affectionate than I realized.

I was speaking to a woman from the UK last night who said things are much more relaxed in the UAE. "They can have pork [that seemed to be her top reason for preferring that country--seems to be a lot of people's top reasons; frankly, "the other white meat" is no loss for me, especially when you realize how poorly treated pigs--also the most intelligent of the animals we consume--are . . . but that's a soap box I'll climb on another time . . . and out of brackets, which are much too disruptive to readers] and they can be affectionate in public." She said she can't imagine these strict guidelines are going to be good for expats when they return to their countries: "No. No. Don't touch me. Not allowed." Ron tends to believe it just makes affection in the home mean more. Don't be fooled: he's not generally a glass-half-full kind of guy.

Although hand holding between couples is frowned upon, it's perfectly acceptable for men to hold each others' hands and for women to do the same. I see more men doing this than women. However, homosexuality is flat out illegal here.

And while we're talking about laws: running a red light will cost you an automatic month is jail and/or $3500. And, yes, even with fines like that, driving on the roads here is still a bit harrowing . . . especially if I inadvertently rest my hand on Ron's knee for a moment and someone with a bigger SUV than ours peaks in.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Very interesting, Bobbie. Like you, I don't consider myself very affectionate in public. But if forced to show no affection, I think I would realize I am more affectionate than I thought. In honor of this blog, I am going to focus on being more affectionate in public this week.