In December of 2008 Brian Hartenstein and family left America for an adventurous life overseas to live and work throughout Asia, raising three daughters with a sense of wonder and awe at the possibility of the world. It is now 2016 and the adventure continues back home in Oregon. This blog remains as a time capsule to that period. Thank you so much to all our friends around the world. Please stay in touch. We miss you all!
Sunday, June 30, 2013
The Inshallah is Wild!
“Hassan, will the text books be here tomorrow?”
“Ahh… you know, my friend… here in Saudi it is…Inshallah.”
Any kid worth his salt knows
things instinctively. Never hide the
Sears underwear catalog under your mattress.
Never stick your tongue to the flag pole when it snows. And if the house is on fire, save your older
brother’s record collection first.
But the number one rule of
the “Kid Universe” is: Everybody gets a
“Ahmed, you said tomorrow, we go to the Health Clinic,
“Maybe yes… Maybe no.
It’s part of the natural rhythm
of childhood. Dice rolls off the table
during Monopoly… Roll it Again! Balls
flies over the neighbor’s fence… Mulligan!
The Do-Over is a no harm, no foul system that keeps everybody from spitting
in each other’s eye. It works because it’s
the Joker on the bottom of the deck. Nobody is ever to blame but the Joker, and
nobody is blaming that clown. Yet to my
surprise in Saudi, they've taken the Joker Do-Over to an art form with the
invention of: Inshallah!
“Abdul-Aziz, What about the Iqama? Have you heard from immigration yet?”
“Ahh… if it is written yes, if not… you know,
loosely translates to: If it is the will of Allah. And let me tell you, Allah ain’t too interested
in willing much of anything. This suits
Saudi’s fine because, they ain’t too willing to get anything done either. It’s the first phrase you come to understand
after arriving in the Kingdom.
“Will my connecting flight
leave on time?”
“How about my bags, he’s
just throwing them on a donkey cart, will they make it to my destination?”
“Haha… again, Inshallah.”
“Klimnt, how about the internet, it’s been out two
weeks. I’m going nuts.”
“Tee-hee, it is as the Arabs say… if it is the will of
Of course, this extends
into every aspect of professional and personal life in Saudi as well. You ask if the class lists would be printed
today or if the school copier was fixed from last week or if the
air-conditioning was coming back on after the blackout … and the answer was
In fact, I knew I was in
trouble when expatriates started using the phrase to my face.
“Hey Mad Dog, we going to
hoop it up this weekend?”
“Ahhh… Brian, you know, it’s
so hot outside… Inshallah.”
“Flintstone! You got that fiver I loaned you?”
“Oh I forgot… next week, Inshallah. I pay you then.”
It was beautiful.
I came to appreciate it
because, if Allah really willed anything, I might still be stuck there. So, here’s to no personal responsibility and mud
in your eye… Inshallah!