Sunday, December 10, 2006

My own personal war against the Arabs.

~ byronius

I lived in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia as a child. My father taught chemical engineering at the College of Petroleum and Minerals to young Arabian men in long white thobes and headresses. I went to elementary school at Dhahran Academy, the American Embassy school where Americans were in short supply -- most kids were British, or Dutch, or one of the twenty other nationalities that outnumbered the American kids. Unlike the Americans locked behind razor-wire in the Aramco compound, where they had movie theaters and actual lawns, we lived in the South Compound, a collection of concrete housing open to the desert. I could drive at any age, because I was male; I used to take my minibike out into the deep desert, on the edge of the Rub' Al Khali itself. My mother and sister were forbidden to drive, ever, but I drove my sleeping father from Dhahran to Riyadh when I was ten years old. It was the Wild Life Of Freedom for a kid.

I and my pack of buddies from the North and South compounds would roam the desert at will, exploring the massive and empty world of 1960's Saudi Arabia. We would climb djebels, catch lizards, explore caves -- when it rained, which it did once a year, it would rain so hard the desert would become a shallow sea for a few hours. We would go out and splash around in it. The entire area would bloom profusely for a week or two after the rain, and then -- back to desert. Sometimes we'd find dead goats and camels, often surrounded by incongruent patches of green grass, growing in the middle of the rocky sand. It was an entrancing place to spend one's childhood.

It was also often dangerous. My friend Marco Porro, a kid from Portugal, got caught by the mullahs in Al-Khobar and had his head shaved with garden shears. They damaged his scalp in the process. His family left the country immediately, and I never saw him again. Similar events marred the otherwise tranquil landscape, but only occasionally. The Dean of the College was an arab, and was hauled off by Saudi police late one night -- his family lived on in the North Compound for years. No one asked about his fate. He, also, was never seen again.

One 120-degree day, I and my desert-rat buddies were playing outside the walls of the North Compound. We were a motley crew -- American, French, Austrian, Taiwanese, Nigerian. We suddenly saw a group of young arab kids about our age, slowly walking toward us. For some reason I now forget, we ended up in a giant Rockfight. For half an hour, we hurled deadly missiles at each other, dodging and leaping from bush to boulder to rise to wadi, trying to do as much damage as a ten-year-old with a sharp-edged rock could do. Blood flowed freely from most of us. I got hit on the head pretty bad; blood ran down the side of my face. At the end of the half-hour, all of us were gasping, bleeding, some crying. The arab kids had it just as bad, we could see. There was a momentary pause in the battle, while we all regrouped.

Suddenly, one of the arab kids stood up and held up his hands in an obvious gesture of truce. We held our fire; I walked out to meet him in the middle of the battlefield. As we approached each other, I could see that he was bleeding as badly as I was. We met in the middle, and just looked at each other for a few minutes, breathing heavily. He reached in his pocket, and pulled out a knife -- and then also pulled out some sort of desert fruit. To this day, I have no idea what it was. He swiftly peeled it, cut off a slice, and handed it to me. It was delicious.

The War ended immediately. All the other kids from both sides wandered out, took a slice of the strange fruit, and tried to communicate with each other somehow. Some of us spoke a rudimentary Arabic, but none of the arab kids spoke English -- we did our best. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the desert together, all thoughts of conflict forgotten. I remember my mother's shock at seeing my blood-encrusted face and shirt -- I had completely forgotten about it by then.

We never saw them again, but I've never forgotten the moment, or the look in that boy's eyes as we approached each other, or the swiftness with which the bloody battle was smoothed over.

And that is why I think it's never too late to make peace.


At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in Dhahran now -- i fully agree with you, Luke!

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Jabberwock said...

Bozonius's prose is about the equivalent of kazoos playing Beethoven; and his "insights", man (my dad-dee was a real engineer!), a little less profound than the wit and wisdom of like Rosie O'Winchell . He's am imposter--one of these Schwarzeneggerian corporate "liberals": vee vant to pump you upp!

At 4:38 AM, Blogger ak said...

We moved to Dhahran in 1968 and I went to that school in the American Embassy grounds. My father also taught at the College of Petroleum & Minerals.
We lived in this compound of portable wooden houses, I think it could of been called the North compound. Water from the taps was all brackish, drinking water was supplied via a water truck that came round every day.
I too remember messing about in the desert and also going to Half Moon bay.
I played baseball, short stop, in Aramco, our team was called the Salukis.

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Samantula said...

Are you alive out there? I've sent mail and txts and emails.. nothing. I'm worried...

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stumbled on your blog by accident..

man.. what a great and superbly-written story !
Seriously.. you made my day ! There's something about great writing that somehow gives you hope.. like, yes.. humans may blow up other humans but they can also do THIS.

best wishes


At 9:07 PM, Blogger Aphrodite's Disappointment said...

what happened after this? you havent posted in a little more than several months..

At 5:49 PM, Blogger scott huminski said...

U.S.A. State Sponsored Terror (rock music video) Released

Anti U.S. Police State Musician/activist, Scott Huminski, releases his 5th rock video with his band Scott X and the Constitution Commandos.

Television interview at:

At 1:10 PM, Blogger scott huminski said...

покушения на свою оппозицию американскогополицейского государства.

Свобода музыкальных клипов наступление на правительство США, по крайней,

Правительство Соединенных Штатов стала неистовой Споследней записи рок-группы, или бой на пребываниебесплатно

Конституция команды запросить поддержку от международных организаций в их борьбе против американской террористической государственной полиции. ПравительствоСоединенных Штатов находит политической речью в музыке, как наступление, как террор и взрывы самодельных взрывных устройств. Речь критикует правительство в настоящее время является преступлением в Соединенных Штатах.

الموسيقار الاميركي روك مواجهة السجن لأغاني تاريخية وسياسية وأشرطة الفيديو والموسيقى.

سكوت X والمغاوير الدستور يواجهون السجن والاغتيال المحتملة لمعارضتهم للدولة على السياسة الاميركية.

وأشرطة الفيديو والموسيقى حرية هجومية لحكومة الولايات المتحدة وصلت،

أصبحت حكومة الولايات المتحدة غاضبة من أحدث ما تم تسجيله من لموسيقى الروك، أو القتالفي البقاء الحرة

الأوامر دستور طلب الدعم من المنظمات الدولية في نضالهم ضد الدولة البوليسية الإرهابيةالأمريكية. حكومة الولايات المتحدة ترى أن الخطاب السياسي في الموسيقى كما خليع التفجيرات الإرهابية والعبوات الناسفة. خطاب حاسم من الحكومة الآن جريمة في الولايات المتحدة.


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