Saturday, December 3, 2011

Missing Mom and Motivation

We took mom to the airport today and the house has been feeling really empty. We all miss her already! Two months flew by so quick.. We kept ourselves busy and met many of my friends here in Riyadh. It was also my mother's last weekend in Saudi-Arabia so we wanted to do something special. Thursday we visited the old town of Raghba northwest of Riyadh. 

We walked around the ruins of the city and we climbed the watch tower which was a lot of fun, but also a claustrophobic experience! I had to literally squeeze myself through the last part. I have no idea how an adult man could have fit in there! Maybe they used a kid, or a midget :) It's unfortunate that many historical sites have been ruined by graffiti.

If you look carefully you can see mom waiving from one of the holes. This is where she turned back because she wasn't able to move in there anymore!
I was determined to reach the top. A mild panic ensued when I couldn't move at one point and there was absolutely no light coming into the staircase from the tiny windows. I was starting to envision in my head the fire squad being called to free the crazy lady that got stuck in the watch tower.
When people saw me up there they started honking their horns and some cars gathered to watch. I guess they  don't see ladies at the top too often. The visibility was perfect, no dust or hazyness after the rains.
Afterwards we drove around the desert looking for water after the rains, and managed to find a beautiful spot in the midst of the and dunes.
On friday we joined an expat gathering in the desert, the occasion, christmas celebrations! Mom said it was the strangest christmas party she ever went to.
A chorus of "angels" sang some christmas carols under a huge acacia tree. The songs echoed beautifully from the mountain.
The highlights of the evening were the fireworks and the bonfire. Lanterns were lit on the side of the mountain.

I'm glad we went because mom got to experience something so different and special on her last day. She also got a chance to do some off-road driving and we had so much fun we noticed only on the high-way that she had forgotten her abaya in the desert! Oh well, she doesn't need it anymore, at least for a while. She liked it here so much she wants to come back in April.

Another thing I have been missing lately is motivation. I think it might have started from this really nasty comment I got from a Muslim girl with a case of "holier than thou" attitude. Interestingly she has a blog about reviewing make-up and false eyelashes. This person had huge issues with what kind of Muslim I am and accused me of spreading fitna and being negative among other things. I was planning to just go ahead and publish it to expose her ignorance, but then I hesitated. I didn't publish her comment because it was a personal attack against me and I state clearly in the comment rules that such personal attacks will not be tolerated.

So that kind of took me into a slump and I didn't feel like posting anything lately. I felt like my blog is of no interest or benefit to anyone and nobody even reads it or comments because the posts are so dull and negative. I know might sound silly, but I do get those days when I truly think like this.

So after this depressive mood I was thrilled to meet a fan of my blog in person at this very desert gathering. It was a Canadian girl that had recently moved to Riyadh for work at the same hospital I used to work at. She had asked my Finnish friend if she knew who the author of Blue Abaya was and then my friend introduced us to each other.

Wow I was so flattered by her words, I still can't believe it! She said my blog helped her so much and she had been reading it for some while now. She thanked me for keeping it and encouraged me to write more. She was so sweet! She even said she told all her friends there's this amazing lady who keeps a blog about Saudi you have to read it!

So I want to personally thank you, dear fan in the desert for your encouraging words! Thank you for the inspiration! I wish you have an amazing time in Saudi-Arabia and make the best out of everything here :) If you need anything I will always be available to help out. Please don't hesitate to ask!

I also want to thank all my readers and "fans" out there for reading and commenting. I love comments! Please write more comments :) It really means a lot to me.

Blue Abaya is soon reaching 200 followers and I want to thank my readers by organizing a giveaway! I know my blog has a broad audience and it's hard to figure out what would be the best thing for the giveaway, any suggestions? Perhaps something specifically from Saudi? Lots of readers are coming for the first time to Saudi and need abayas so I was thinking a beautiful abaya might be one of the items, but what about those already in Saudi, or the male readers..hmm..

Stay tuned for more info!


Joanna said...

Hi! I read your blogs and I wanted to say thank you and keep writing! Your photos are always so beautiful.
There will always be people out there who are negative, you have to forget them and move on. They are not worth your time or fretting over so just forget them and stay positive.

I am not in Saudi or plan on ever coming there but it would be kind of cool to own one abaya I guess so I would give my vote to the abaya.

Tara said...

You can't be serious! With 200 followers, you must be doing something right. I have learned that people may not always comment but they ARE just don't know it but you have to believe it. Your blog is very unique, I love seeing the personal pictures you post as well as your captions. I think your life is way exciting than mine, I wish I could get around the country as much as you do. Even though I'm a resident of KSA, you could say I'm living the Saudi life vicariously through your blog. Tell your mom I said hi and hugs to you!

Finding My Way said...

I read your blog and I love it!! You give me hope for my life in the future. It is hard sometimes when all I hear are warnings about what my life with a Saudi could end up like. Yes there have to be warnings about being with a Saudi but there can be happy endings such as yours. You seem like for the most you have it all together and live a normal life. I am glad you got to spend some time with your mom and that you all as a family created some wonderful memories. The thing I love best about your blog is the pictures. Lets face it; a pictures worth a thousand words :) I feel like even if I never go to Saudi I'll have seen it all. I show my boyfriend all of your pictures and he gets so excited, he has a story to go along with almost every one. Thank you for blogging and don't let the negative people stop you, rise above them! i hope this is motivation for you to keep going xo

Coll said...

I actually think your blog is quite positive, and even though I'm American and not Finnish, I appreciate your point of view as a Western woman in an Arab Muslim country. I have only had negative experiences with Saudi men - I lived in Morocco, and Moroccans hate the way Saudi men stereotypically talk about and treat Moroccan women - but you make Saudi look like a fun place to visit, and a cool place to live. I really thank you for your more balanced and honest opinions, and I wish you all the best of luck in the future.

Soile said...

I love your blog, but you knew that already :-)

I, too, especially live the pics, you're a great photographer. And the more time passes from my last stay, the more I find myself thinking off doing
Saudi on more time. There's so many things I miss from there, especially the "easy life", and reading your blogg brings back so many memories. So, keep up the good work!

Oh, and you could do a poll to find out how many anonymous readers you have :-)

Lavender © said...

Your blog my dear is amazing! Ignore any negative remarks from idiots! I love your stories.. your pictures.. your insight on things... I love your sense of humour... the way you say it like it is! SO please do not let some NOBODY typing nasty comments get to you! As you already know.. your blog is TRULY one of my favs! And after meeting you.. I have seen that you are an amazing individual that has a lot to share! So keep sharing... and again.. do not let some NOBODY get to you! XOXO

Anonymous said...

It's great that your mother liked KSA and wants to come again soon. Seems like you had a lot of fun mashallah!

I felt like my blog is of no interest or benefit to anyone and nobody even reads it or comments because the posts are so dull and negative.

I'm surprised you feel this way sometimes! Because you have a very good blog, one of my favorites!  Several times it happened to me to think of your great blog, and how my own blog is useless and pathetic compared to yours! :)  You are such a talented blogger, an intelligent and wise woman who  has valuable experience and opinions to share! Your blog is very informative, interesting and fun to read.  I'm definitely a fan! :)

I get impression  that your blog is actually very positive, because I learned from it that you love KSA, its culture, people and expats living there,love your Finnish culture, traveling, photography, going out, your family and many other things.

I love that your blog also has a personal touch- you share some of your experience in KSA, which can be very useful to people in similar situations. Your blog shows that working and living in KSA is not scary but can be even enjoyable.

The pics you post are unique!

I  dont comment much on other blogs because  I often feel like I dont have anything important or special to say, or I just like to keep my opinions to myself.  But I'll try to comment more on your blog!

Nina said...

Don't you dare stop posting! I love this blog so much. I live in Scotland and it seems whenever I'm really cold and miserable, you've posted something awesome with beautiful pictures.
Don't listen to people who say horrid things, they are just jealous.

Dentographer said...

Really Laylah?
you completely understood it wrong,
for me the day that ill get a hater comment is the day i am celebrating my blog,because its the proof that i am on to somthing look at anything worth mentioning out there and tell me if there isnt any one dissing it.

i honestly would have published the comment in a post by it self,hiding the user and ask the readers if they think this is true,it would be fun lol

keep going laylah,blog like no one is reading,do your thing cos what you do in this blog is benefitting you before it benefit anyone else,its a pretty good blog with diversified contents and you everything figured out.

as i said before,you make saudi look like a charming place to be,and i really like how positive your blog portrait saudi and brings the good in a time where bad is what all being said about it.

keep the wheel rolling,dont let every pothole that comes in the way slow you down.

P.s. i must admit i laughed hard when i read "I felt like my blog is of no interest or benefit to anyone and nobody even reads it or comments because the posts are so dull and negative." i felt invisible too hahaha

Eibhlin said...

I think everyone who blogs thinks has moments of wondering "What's the point? This is ueseless! Why bother?" - and you're missing your mom, and feeling lonely, so of course you're susceptible to that kind of feeling /thinking right now. I'm reading your blog in Rome. I too am an expat, and though my lifestyle and circumstances are very, very different from yours, I love the insights I get into the real life of women in Saudi Arabia though your blog.
I'm thinking of participating in an online reading challenge next year, involving Middle Eastern fiction. Could you recommend any contemporary fiction about Saudi Arabia - available in English translation - that is a good read and gives a realistic picture of the country? Many thanks!

beautifulmaldives said...

This is surely an awesome blog.. I love reading the posts by you. By the way I'm from Maldives and things are pretty different here, though I would much like to be living there. :)

Layla said...

Wow so many comments!!yay!!!I'm so happy!!!thank you everyone for the encouraging words :)

Layla said...

Joanna-thank you dear, that's great advice. I will try to stay positive no matter what!
And I will still think about the abaya giveaway for sure :)

Layla said...

Tara-I know, sounds mad, but I was serious! But you're right, there are people lurking here, I was just not sure if they liked what they saw.
Of course not everyone is going to like my blog, that's a fact too. But if I can make a small difference in someones life then I'm pretty content with that.

Layla said...

ASaudis Girl-thank you, that's so sweet of you!I'm so happy to hear that my blog gives you hope, that really means a lot to me.
That's so funny you show your bf the pics and he relates so well, I guess I did a good job then :)

Layla said...

Soile-thank you! And please come back to Saudi! How do I do a poll like that?
P.S how is your "little" project going?

Layla said...

Colleen-thanks for the insightful comment that was really nice to hear! I do wish to portray Saudi in a more positive way, because most I hear or read is negative, just to keep a balance and show people this is NOT a miserable, boring horrible place to live in :)

Layla said...

Om Lujain-thanks for the pep talk! I really needed it :) I love your blog too because of your humour it always makes me smile. Ok, I will forget this NOBODY LOL

Layla said...

Alice-your comment is so touching, thank you SO much for taking the time to write to me!
You said you don't write comments because you feel you dont have anything special or important to say, but what you have just posted was just that, really IMPORTANT and SPECIAL to me :)
I feel like you have understood what I'm like and what's important to me perfectly. So thank you for saying it and i look forward to hearing from you again soon :)

Layla said...

Nina-OK I won't LOL. Thank you for letting me know someone up there is enjoying reading my blog!
And you know what I worked in Scotland for a while and I love their sense of humor and the nature there is amazing too :)

Layla said...

Dentographer-Yes, really! But hey that's a good idea, maybe I will share that comment and see what people say,might be interesting!
Thanks for the comment and the encouragement, very much appreciated!

Layla said...

Eibhlin-thank you for your kind words, and for understanding :) yes I miss mom, I'm still depressed and haven't left the house so that is having an impact on me..
How cool that you are reading from Rome! Wonderful to hear of people from all around the world!
Regarding the book, from the top of my head I can't think of any book that would describe accurately life of Saudi women (certainly not Girls of Riyadh, stay far away from that one)but The Land of the Invisible Women is an interesting read by Qanta Ahmed.She worked here as a physician for some years.

Layla said...

beautifulmaldives-thanks for your comment and you are lucky to live in such a paradise on earth, but you want to live here? Can we swap, at least for a while :)

mudassir said...

Hi Laylah. Now, every thing i wanted to say is already said by your fans above :(
Nevertheles i wil say- i just love ur blog and i dont think you should get bogged down by some self appointed 'saint'.
I love the way you look at positive side of things which are otherwise soo irretating here. It sure must have been a huge culture shock for you. Iam a 26yr old Indian working in riyadh since 2 years. Ive been in Abha and Jizan for many days but i wonder where those places are(the ones in the pics). May be i was too busy with my work there (btw i work in Mobily as an engineer)Would realy like to visit them as a tourist this time:)And also to other places you mentiond in your blog.Hope you will be my guide when i need advice :)
Til now i had known Finland only for Nokia :)
Now Finland would always remind me of Laylah! :) Cheers!!

DB said...

Your blog is the only blog I read. Enough said.

Layla said...

Mudassir-thank you for your comment and welcome to my blog! So glad to have you here :)
Sure you can always ask for advice I will try my best to help!

Layla said...

DB-WOW is all I can say ;)

Anonymous said...

LOVE the halo attached to the guys head. Thats the funniest thing ever. mA you are an amazing photographer.

Layla said...

Proud Muslimah-thank you dear :)I thought it was really funny too and the guy sang in the choir!

Ms Rosenstare said...

That kind of despiteful comments you described originate very often in envy. It's a good decision not to publish it -just ignore it eventhough it is hard. It is just litter that pops up now and then.
Amazing place- the watch tower you visited with your mom! I cannot image how you had the guts to climb up there! I feel horor just thinking about it!

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum Blue Abayah, I love your blogs. I have not been to Saudi Arabia, but I feel like I have. Your blogs are life like, please continue.

Layla said...

Ms Rosenstare-That might be the case..I'm surprised there was no follow up on her side..will see if I publish a post with some of those comments I got but didn't publish. Some of them are actually quite entertaining!

Layla said...

anon-thank you very much! Pls use a nickname next time so I will know who left this nice comment :)

NAWAL said...

asalamalaikum alailah...
m ur new follower nd i feel proud to follow you, seeing world through ur eyes is magical the way u decribed it is superd loving it.. :)
may allah give u hidayah and u keep dis up...
m from riyadh too can relate to all this.. :)

IrishTeen said...

WOOOOW ! - I need to get out more :O Seriously, I thought my life ended after I moved to Riyadh this Summer, but after discovering your blog today, I realised there is so much fun to be discovered! So thanks so much for that (: Also, after a bit of reading, I can safely assure you that you're aMazING! Eeek, I love what you write! Your positive tone, unwavering Eemaan, and refreshing outlook on life has presented Saudi to me in a whole new perspective.
~ Keep Writing x

Anonymous said...

I live in Dubai, mixed-Asian Catholic and married to a European Muslim, with a beautiful babygirl and I would just like to say that people, women in particular, regardless of their religion will always try and get you down at any opportunity. It makes them feel good about themselves and probably helps them sleep better at night in their own sick little world. The girl who you speak of is probably envious of the freedom and life that you have in KSA and enjoys being a thorn in a sensitive place. I'm going to say something true but immature, "Scr*w her!".
I love your blog, it makes me laugh at work when all I want to do is take cover. I find it witty, intelligent and extremely resourceful. I must admit that I often come here on a daily basis to check if there is something new. My advice to you is to keep writing as you are clearly blessed to be able to write so well. It would be haram if you were to stop.

Lotsa love and encouragement always,

Anonymous said...

I love your blog so much, I am from Canada and find it so interesting hearing a "western" view of the very different country of Saudi Arabia. I find it funny to see that the women in Saudi Arabia find Western women as interesting as I find them. If I could I would like to go to Saudi as you have described a very positive interesting and beautiful place. Keep on telling it the way it is as I look forward to reading your blog...I have ready every post!!


LauraLee from Canada

Anonymous said...

Just another fan, your blog was posted/advertsied by someone on the Saudi forum so checked it out and now am an avid others stated before, you have a unique style of, funny and honest. I also live the experiences though your blog even though I have been living in KSA a number of years, guess am not as keen or it is fun to visit all the places from the comfort of my home LOL
keep on blogging!

Rosie said...

Dearest Layala,

I like your blog very much and it shows what a happy ever after insaudi can be. I think you are blessed and wish you happiness always. sadly i have come to hate saudi in the past 10 months i have been here. things are not so rosy as you were fortunate to see. as a western woman who does cover the treatment is really bad.(i am also a surgeon and am in the NGHA so i have tasted the nasty corruption). i am sad to say truly do not wish well to any saudi. i feel that they are one of the most accursed and lowly people on the earth with a small (very small) exception for a few. i hope you stay safe and only have pleasant experiences.
wishing the best,

Anonymous said...

Im from Estonia, I never been to KSA or heard anything about it.
Last month I went to Turkey and in the airport I saw so many women in niqab and abayas. I saw that on passport control they didnt ask them to show their face and when I got back home, I decided to seek information about why is it so...didnt find yet. But I stumbed upon your blog. It is quite interesting, KSA seems a bit weird to me with all those rules and so on, I dont feel like Id want to visit it one day, but its surely is interesting to read about how different this place is.

Keep writing ;)

Unknown said...

Hi Blue Abaya,
I am A Male from Pakistan and was really bored in Riyadh .. ( Though I was born in Riyadh and been here for 20 years.. I went back to my Country and now here again after 10 years gap.)
KSA has changed alot and i was really bored being here.
But out of somewhere i hit your blog and has been really interested in everything of it.
I try to read every review and see aorund your recommended things.
I would say that you are doing an amazing blog and must continue to do so.
Haters will always be Haters... But you need to keep yourself motivated for those who support you.
Best of Luck for future as well.
I am following you on FB as well and hope to get more recommendations from you.

Layla said...

Hi there Shuja!
Thanks for the comment and for following :)
I will do my best to continue, always happy to hear how readers have benefited from my hard work!