Not without my cat

Just a few meows, some might call it rantings and ravings..

Location: Jiddah, Saudi Arabia

An old Cologne cat that had to adapt to a new home.. lol

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Mice Mystery

We have mice in the garden - nothing unusual, you might say. But we have many mice in the garden, and according to my mothers in law this is not by mere chance. Both of them are convinced that their husband, my father in law, intentionally plants the mice in the garden so his beloved cats have plenty of prey to hunt for. They even claim that he would secretly feed the mice. My father in law of course rejects such suspicions and calls them nonsense and women talks. Never ever would he do such an absurd thing, and he asked me if I could really figure him sneaking out at midnight feeding mice or putting any out.

Actually, I cannot. He is such a noble-looking, aristocratical elderly man, the kind you'll never see in anything but thobe and ghutra, every inch a distinguished, most respectable family patriarch.
But he also is a passionated cat lover. He has seven cats - actually, he had eight cats and we had one, until a certain little lady decided to become Her Furry Majesty's best friend and move over to us. I still remember when I first came to Saudi Arabia - "Oh let me have a look at the new family member!" he called out and immediately squatted down in front of the cat kennel to have a look at Her Furry Majesty..

My husband harbors a dark childhood memory where he and one of his brothers had received a thorough beating for accidently ruining a precious rug, while all around them the cats were busy sharpening their claws at the cherished preciosities without getting anything but a fatherly 'Oh look how sweet..'. The swimming pool debate is another collective family lamento when the whole family demanded a swimming pool for the garden and my father in law refused because one of his cats might fall in and drown. There is a swimming pool now - in the cellar of their house where the cats won't go while the garden is a kitty paradise with lots of toys, climbing facilities and cosy resting places. (There are actually two gardens - ours and theirs, separated through a wall but with holes in it so the cats can use both).
The biggest family riot was about the cat safe fencing. The estate does have high walls all around but since it is located at the coast there are no high walls to the sea side. Then one day one of the cats walked away from the estate to the street and got run over by a car. My father in law ordered a cat safe fencing for each and every spot where the cats could walk out and the rest of the family went rampant because the free view on the sea was a bit impaired by the wire netting. My father in law was merciless - luckily, I might add. I remember when my husband told me that Her Furry Majesty would have a big garden to play in in Saudi and I remarked that it would have to be cat safe or else I wouldn't feel comfortable letting her out. He gave me a long look and said "My father will love you..."

And there are the mice. It is indeed mind-boggling how many mice there are, fat and healthy mice, in an otherwise perfectly sheltered garden area populated by nine (9!) cats. Sure the gardens are huge and there are lots of places and corners where mice can hide and breed but it is still amazing. Her Furry Majesty, doubtlessly the best huntress of all, usually catches an average of four to five mice every week. Her Crown Princess Lady Layla is a bit less successful, maybe three mice per week. I don't know how my father in law's cats are doing when the clumsy Persians are not the best hunters, but the Turkish Angoras are pretty talented - there is no day when my mothers in law wouldn't complain about mouse remains in the house or on their veranda. Let's say all together they catch seven or eight mice per week - with all cats put together that would be a whoppy 15 mice each week!! That would be more than 60 mice every month!!!

Maybe we just happen to live in an extremely mouse-rich area, but then I wonder how people around can possibly get along without having cats? They sure must drown in mice! When you think of it the newspapers should be full with headlines such as 'Serious mice problem in Jiddah' or maybe 'Residents call for authorities to take action aganist mice plague' or maybe 'Prince Naif vows to fight Zionist mice conspiracy' or some such.

But maybe there simply is no mice problem elsewhere because the mice are all in our garden.

The mystery remains unsolved...


Well, we are back home after almost four months in Germany this year - the longst time ever since we married. And actually, we have been looking forward to Saudi Arabia as a wonderful haven of peace and tranquility. We just forgot about the family...

Now it is quite normal that loving family members wish to pay a visit to the long missed relatives and we sure do not mind - but why oh why do we have to be related to half the Hejaz? And for crying out loud - why must it be Ramadan??

In Saudi Arabia, Ramadan is the time of the year where you get thrown out of bed at half dark two in the night by banging and shouting at the door as if the house would be on fire - there before your sleepy eyes standing one or two of your two dozens or so laughing brothers or sisters in law, or any of your 37 or so cousins, each complete with wife or husband and half a dozen of noisy kids, cordially presenting a cake or something like that because you sure must be hungry after fasting all day, the complete entourage rolling into your living room ("Oh all dark? Were you sleeping?") and the kids jumping around everywhere ("Can we see the cats? Where are the cats?"). The terrified cats are under the bed where you would wish you could hide as well..

And no, we do not belong to the league of those who reverse night and day during Ramadan - we still get up at Fajr and go to sleep early. At least we try... right now my husband has gone to sleep because the poor guy hasn't slept all night. I was a bit luckier because he had told me to just stay in bed and he told the relatives I wouldn't feel well. Since we are back we haven't had one night undisturbed and our sleeping rhythm is badly disturbed. My husband already plans to spend next Ramadan in Morocco..

What complicates matters a bit is the fact that we live together with my husband's parents, more or less in one 'house' - it's a bit hard to explain. It actually have been two separate houses until one day a weird head got the idea to combine both houses with a common 'entrance hall' - as a result we now have an 'entrance hall' the size of a parking lot and the whole combination looks a bit.. err.. odd. When my German father - a former architect - was here the first time he just stood and stared for full five minutes until he finally said that this would be 'the monument of an unknown architect'. My husband told him the architect hadn't been unknown but had left the country after completing this masterpiece of his. My father nodded and mumbled something like "Perfectly understandable..."

So we live in one half of this architectonical monstrosity and my father in law and his two wifes occupy the other. I guess this is another specialty of our family - not that my father in law has two wifes but the way they live. Normally two wifes require two separate households and I guess this was how they started some 50 years ago. Until it turned out that those two wifes became best friends, constantly sticking together and always doing everything together - and it is still like this. They actually have each her own realm in their house but it's of no use - they stick together like they were limed together. One can start a sentence and the other one finishes it. My husband once joked the only person in the world who ever saw them separated in the past 50 years was his father. By the way - none of them is my husband's mother who died when he was born. He was raised by both of them, calling both of them Mama, which is why he actually has two mothers who both have the same place in his heart. And I have two mothers in law - it's always funny to see the reactions of Germans when I talk of my 'Schwiegermuetter'..

Under normal circumstances we enjoy living so close together but Ramadan can get straining when my mothers in law more or less have party time the whole month - in which night and day are reversed. And since the whole relationship on their way to that everlasting Ramadan party pass through our 'entrance hall' it is unavoidable that they see our door and think 'Oh, once we're here we can as well...'
At least we can be sure that there is no risk of any visit at this time of the day - they won't show up until after sunset. I hope nobody thinks we are unsocial, or that we wouldn't like our relatives. It is just all a bit.. err.. enervating. My husband always says Ramadan is the month of contemplation - I'm afraid we cannot hope for any until Ramadan is over..

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Late and in a hurry: Ramadan Gaddafi!

Just so you know what all my inlaws are laughing about every year, and of course they could not resist calling us up cheekily wishing us Ramadan Gaddafi.. That dates back on my very first Ramadan and my hapless attempt to delight my father in law with an authentic Arabic Ramadan greeting.. well, and delighted he was...

Our place here is pretty much a mess right now since we'll be going home to Saudi Arabia soon. As usual we've shipped things we did not deem too important first so our suitcases will have space enough to store all the books and antics we've bought - and as usual we're just discovering that our judgement as to what is important and what not cannot really be trusted. I just wait for the day when we face our day of travel with nothing to wear..

Inmidst all that, my dear husband once again insisted on getting me to the doctor to check if I'm Ramadan-fit. Now I do appreciate his concerns for my health but hey, the mere fact that I do not exactly look like one of Gaddafi's female bodyguards doesn't mean I will drop dead any time soon. Unfortunately the doctor told him I was fit to fast but that he should take care I eat properly before dawn. Oh, don't wonder - my husband takes my doctor visits Saudi style, read Mr. Responsible will be present every single moment, watch over the undress cabin with Argus eyes and of course discuss every detail with the doctor at great length.
The downside here is not that I am fit to fast - the downside is the 'proper meal before dawn'. My husband now expects me to eat something to the amount of a stuffed cow in the morning before I'm even halfways awake..

(Yessss, habibi!! I'm nagging!!!..)

Oh well I just hate to travel, and all the hectic that comes along with it! No matter how much I long for our home the mere thought of packing, planes and other discomforts is gruesome to me. The cats are with me on this one and I guess we will have a hard time to pluck the furries from under the bed or where ever they may hide. They're already giving us very suspicious looks..

By the way, according to the Austrian ORF a Danish airplane that was set to start from Vienna airport had to be evacuated by the police. The reason: passengers felt threatened by a foreign looking young man because he was reading an Arabic newspaper..... After the plane was thoroughly searched by the police it could take off, albeit two hours late and minus the unhappy reader of the suspicious newspaper who was expelled from the flight by the Danish pilot. It turned out he was a harmless student.
Now I wonder if I should offer my husband my niqab so other passengers might not feel threatened by his suspicious looking Arab nose. Or maybe we should get ourself some Micky Mouse comics for camouflage.

Finally, I just read another blog in which some people comment on my blog. Very nice and caring people, indeed, calling me a poor lost soul in bitterness but they do wish me to find real happiness one day. Heartwarming, isn't it? There even was a real fortune teller predicting trouble for my marriage. I wonder all the time how this guy could possibly know that my husband just never learns to put the toilet paper back in its box, in spite of knowing that the cats need scarcely three minutes to roll it all up and spread it all over the place. Tarot cards? A crystal ball? Eerie...

Well, so much for now. I'm tempted to write 'I might not be blogging for a few days' but looking at the various dates of my entries I guess it would be a bit off the mark.

So I just say I'll be back soon - provided I'm not too busy building that balsa raft and crossing the ocean..