Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vroom! Vroom!

What the interior of my baby looks like on a rainy night.

Like many suburban teenagers, I took the driving test after completing my SPM (high school exam). I remember being terrorised by a driving instructor who didn't understand that I had no clue that there are other gears apart from 1st and reverse. Hey, my first three lessons were nothing except the bit about parallel and and L-parking, okay?

After getting my license, I harassed my Dad to let me drive. I may have gotten JPJ's (Department of Motor Vehicle) permission to drive on the road, but getting past Daddy!JPJ was much harder. It took a while, but I finally got permission to get myself around in Mum's car, even to uni. Lucky for me, there weren't many students driving in those days, so parking wasn't as hellish an issue as it is now in my alma mater.

A lot of drivers, myself included, take driving for granted. We got wheels and can go places, whether because of work (all those hours behind the wheel cursing other salarypeople like myself who are also on the road) or even out of duty or pleasure. Of course we curse the Government with every fuel hike, conveniently forgetting that we pay the least for fuel in this region, but nonetheless, we could continue to choke the highways and widen that hole in the ozone layer over the McMurdo Base in Antarctica.

Ladies in Saudi Arabia do not have this luxury. Bad enough they are treated worse than toddlers (cannot go anywhere without a male family member or written permission), they don't even have the luxury of self transportation. I don't know if there are any public transport system in Saudi (I doubt it), but with the kind of social restraints put on these women, they can't even board a bus without a pass from their husband/father/brother/son/whoever with a Y chromosome in their household. If their child had an accident in the house and needed to be taken to the hospital pronto, she will have to wait for a male member of her household to come home, pick them up and go.

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the whole world that forbids women from driving. The authorities in Saudi Arabia claimed that allowing women to drive would be detrimental to society. Some cleric even said that driving would damage women's ovaries or something equally demented. I am not surprised. It was in Saudi Arabia that I saw signage in shops that says "Women are not allowed!". Like we are dogs. Which is also lousy for business because, hello? Shoppers bring revenue, remember? Who cares what sex chromosomes they carry?

Last Saturday a group of women in Saudi got together and pushed for a campaign to allow them to drive in the streets of Saudi. The website of the campaign was hacked in order to discourage them but at least sixty women donned their hijab and braved the disapproval and got behind the wheel and got to places. It's a start, but hey, even suffragettes didn't get the vote until decades of blood, sweat and tears, hey?

Anyhoo, this guy made this cool video poking fun at the Saudi authority's stand on women driving. Check it out.

Solidarity for our sisters in Saudi!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Losing My Religion - And Finding My Faith

Based on the writing prompt: What I Learned from Someone*

Sparked by ear candy
The year was 1991. The American rock band REM released a single that shot them to superstardom, Michael Stipe’s crooning of being left in the spotlight andlosing his religion has emphatically propelled the band out of obscurity. Personally, I preferred the Nina Persson’s version; her sweet, slightly raspy voice lent a different piquancy to the lyrics and melody. Tori Amos, mad musical genius that she is, deconstructed the song and reinterpreted it into something very different.

(more after the break)