Getting Ready for the New Chapter

November 14th will be the start of the new Islamic year; January 1st for the West; the Chinese Year of the Snake in February; but September 1st is the first day of my new year.

The end of summer vacation signals the final chapter of a yearlong story.

September begins with a week-long adjustment to the eleven hour time difference.  Between naps, suitcases are unpacked, name tags ironed into new uniforms, emails are returned, the annual closet cleaning takes place and, if I am lucky, the mess on my desk disappears.

Among the books and papers, a copy of SAYIDATY, Saudi Arabia’s Vogue equivalent, lay buried.

Thumbing through the pages, I remembered reading the magazine back in the summer of 2008.  As I poured over the celebrities and fashion exposes, I noticed EVERYONE was wearing leggings.  Even Dior’s Barbie-doll models wore them on the runways.

Silly me – for a moment I forgot where I was.

The women were not wearing leggings; the editors were self-censoring and had photoshopped the offending appendages, covering them in black.

What a change.  “Before”, every magazine that arrived in the kingdom was reviewed by a legion of men with black markers.  Photos of women used to look like this:

Or the page was completely ripped out.

The fact that photos of women with “leggings” and bare arms are allowed is progress.

Shway, shway – slowly, slowly – as we say.

Today I prayed “Please God, Continue to Bless Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, with good health and wise leadership.”

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