Sunday, March 18, 2007

Out and about at eating establishments....

I want to say a quick HELLO to Blaize, Kayleigh and Jaden! I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. Give your Mom a big hug!

When eating out, there are two or even three sections in many restaurants. One is the Singles Section, for men only. Another is the Ladies Section, for women only. And last is the Family Section, for families only. If there is no Ladies Section, women go and eat in the Family Section.

In many restaurants, the Family Section has booths with curtains on them. Veiled women can go in the booth, close the curtain and take off their veils to eat. When they are finished, they put the veils back on and open the curtains.

This is me, in one of the curtained booths at McDonald's. In some restaurants, they only have a limited number of the curtained booths. At one restaurant, I wanted to sit in one just because of the novelty and the management asked if I would please choose another table as the Saudis got upset if there weren't any booths for their veiled women to sit at!

This is the McDonald's Condiment Table. See the wooden rack? Those are prayer rugs. If a man is caught out and about without his prayer rug and a call to prayer is sounded (over loudspeakers from every mosque in the city) he can grab a prayer rug, spread it out pointing towards Mecca, and say his prayers in public.

This tightly woven mat is used as a plate for communal eating. Traditionally, it is placed on the floor and the food, usually lots of rice and chicken or lamb, is heaped on it. The patriarch of the group breaks the chicken or lamb up with his hands and gives a portion to everyone in the circle. Everyone sits around the mat and eats using their right hand. No utensils are used. This style of eating is done as an honor for people who are trusted friends and guests. Richard has participated in sharing lunch in this manner with people at the University.

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