Inside an Empty Bus Stop

Updated: Oct 25, 2018

Why am I sitting at a bus stop at 2 am talking to a Pakistani security guard who does not like modern women? Gooood question. Well, I thought I was supposed to be at the Dubai airport heading to Beirut, but instead, my itinerary actually says I am supposed to get on a bus heading to the airport in Abu Dhabi. I rode the metro to Dubai International Airport, but when I go there I saw the minute details of my itinerary that I had failed to take notice earlier. It looks like this supposedly seasoned traveler has a lot to learn. I just thought that since I booked my ticket from a website that specialized in airplane flights, all my commuting to the various countries would be through flying. It was a good thing I allowed LOTS and LOTS of time for everything...even a bus ride all the way to Abu Dhabi!

Anyways, by the time I realized my mistake the metro had already closed. The metro in Dubai closes at 11 pm and opens back up at 5 am. Therefore, I had to ride the public bus to Satwa Station, which was over 45 minutes away. From there, I had to take a taxi to the bus stop. And now I am stuck at a bus stop talking to a Pakistani security guard who’s asking me loads of questions: Why are you traveling alone? Why are your family members not with you? Are you married? Do you have anybody you like? ...

To be fair, I peppered him with some invasive questions as well. I mean...what else am I supposed to do at 2 am in an empty bus station? 😣 I learned that he had a wife who passed away 12 years ago. His dad also passed away nearly a couple of decades ago. His mom really wants him to go back to Pakistan. He is actually going back to his home country soon because he is so tired of his job. He works 12 hours per day 7 days per week and he’s been working this same graveyard schedule for nearly a decade. Wow, I wouldn’t even be able to last two weeks. And why are people working seven days a week here? This is some grueling schedule.

He also shared with me why he prefers traditional women over modern women. He wants someone who stays around the house, takes care of things at home and takes care of him. He expressed that modern women are too revealing with their clothing. They attract unwanted attention from not only bad people, but also too many unnecessary people. And he says God created everything with a protective layer. Almonds have a shell. Eggs 🥚 have a white outer skin you have to peal. Therefore, women wear a niqab that covers everything but their eyes 👁. And some women, who do not want to cover their whole face, can wear a metal face frame that covers their eyes and lips 👄. This is so when men see them in public, they will turn away.

When I asked what men’s protective layer was, he just started chuckling. He says God created men and women differently. Gesturing with his hands that God was above everything, then men, then women, then everything else. He said this in such an earnest way, I did not have the heart to rebuttal.

I think it’s always good to listen with an open mind and not judge when others are sharing their precious thoughts with you. I am, however, interested in hearing the women’s perspective. Do they enjoy wearing the Niqab, hijab 🧕, and metal frames? Are they fine with people averting their eyes when they see them? Are they okay with not having career and, instead, devote their life to taking care of their home, their children, and their husbands? Have they wanted more of what westerners view as “freedom” in the public sphere? I am a big believer in the co-existence of very different cultures, and that understandings of freedom, individualism, and love can be equally different and equally valid in other cultures. Perhaps if we try harder to understand other people, other cultures, the differences will not seem so scary and foreign to us. Change is inevitable, but how we react to these changes is up to us. If it wasn’t for change, beautiful butterflies 🦋 would not be born.

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