The Strange Report (Part 1)

As I was walking the 50 meters from my hotel to the school, a man stepped out in front of me.

He was wearing the traditional white thorp (like a long, loose nightshirt, but for formal outdoor wear) and shumak (the cloth head covering decorated with red and white squares). He had a short beard, tough leather sandals on his feet, and half a paper cup of coffee in one hand.

In other words, he mostly looked like your typical arab. Except for the mad staring eyes. You only get those in dumb American TV shows about suicide bombers.

But this man wasn't brandishing a bomb. He was brandishing a silver coin. Like a protective talisman. And he was staring at me.

I thought: Is this a beggar? A holy man? An insane person? An insane holy beggar?

He followed me to the school. And then into the school. But not up the stairs. Instead he shouted after me in well pronounced English: "!".

The people who worked in the cafe downstairs made the international sign for 'screw loose', and the mad man wandered away.

This is the only time I have felt even slightly threatened in Saudi Arabia.

1 comment:

  1. That would be a bit nerve-wracking. I'd tell you to steer clean of the loonies, but that would mean you'd have to give me a wide berth too. :-D