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 Do-Over!
 “Ahmed, you said tomorrow, we go to the Health Clinic, yes?”
“Maybe yes… Maybe no.  Inshallah.”

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, Inshallah.”

Inshallah 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?”
“Ahhh… Inshallah.”
“How about my bags, he’s just throwing them on a donkey cart, will they make it to my destination?”
“Haha… again, Inshallah.”
“Errr!”
“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 Allah, Inshallah.”

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 always… Inshallah!
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!

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