If you belong to an Arab family, it’s safe to say you have had a streak of awkward and embarrassing moments. Let’s just hope our parents read this to know what we’ve gone through…
Being raised in a Saudi family is not easy! I get it pals, we have the toughest childhood, weird teen years and as soon as we step into our 20s, we are talked into getting married… for the sake of our family’s respect. *MAJOR EYE ROLL*
Though, such melodrama isn’t only limited to Arabs; if your family lives in Saudi Arabia (or any Arab country) and your parents’ besties are Arabs, your mom tends to get free ‘child raising’ tips from them Arab moms. What happens next is what you 80s-90s-2000s kids have faced.
At some point, you all have been through these super awkward phases:
1. Greeting Someone New? Might As Well Kiss Them
Well, in the Arab world, they shake hands, hug and kiss on cheeks. Usually, it’s two kisses on alternating cheeks. But, some people like to go that extra mile, show extra affection and make it three or four! That’s when things get messy. You try to push back, your friend tries to pull you closer for another kiss, while you both awkwardly stare into each other’s eyes and at each other’s lips (to literally avoid a lip lock)!
2. Arriving Back Home Later Than The Deadline
When teens don’t return back home on the aforementioned deadline that was negotiated in a serious conversation with our parents, it’s our mum who gets worried the most. Often, in Hollywood movies or our non – Arab friends’ families, mothers are really “happy” and “relieved” to see their kid back home safe and sound, no matter what the time is. In an Arab family (or an Arab influenced family), if you get back home a little later than mentioned, you get chased around the house by your mum, while she simultaneously throws her shabashib and cusses you.
3. Oversized Clothes Because… ‘Habibi, You’ll Grow Into It’
Regular moms (when they go shopping): *Calls up daughter* Sweet heart, can you tell me your size, I’m buying you some clothes.
Arab moms: *gets back home with oversized clothes* Habibi, you can wear this for the next 5 years. When it grows small to you, you can give it to your brother. Understand, Habibi, please!
And then you roam around in an oversized coat that looks as though it belonged to Big Bird.
4. Stressed? No Broblem, Lets Have Pumpkin Seeds.
“Sadeeq, if you are stressed, you eat!”
Though, you don’t just eat anything, you specifically eat “pumpkin seeds”! You can have them roasted, salted, plain, whatever your taste buds desire. That’s the way people handle stress in Arab families. We don’t have no fancy stress balls or putty and goo.
Legend says that once you start eating these, you can’t stop. You. Just. Can’t.
*munches on the seeds while typing*
5. “Inshallah” = “No”
Firstly, no matter how old you grow, you need to ask your parents for permission to spend time with your friends, even if you’re hanging out with your cousins, or you’ll face the wrath of your mum’s shabashib. *cringe at the thought*
Secondly, after seeking for permission, a response that says “yes” means “yes”, “no” means “no”, “will think about it” means “no” and “Inshallah” means “no”, too. Though, in its true context, “inshallah” means, if God wills… Sadly, we all know that’s not the case here.
6. Never Reaching the Party on Time
If, God forbid, you reach to the party on time, you’ll find yourself standing in an empty hall with no caterers or event planners, either. Dead silence and empty.
There is like an unsaid rule in the Arab Kingdom about arrival time at a party: Always arrive two hours later that the mentioned time. This rule is not applicable anywhere outside Middle East (except with Arab families scattered around the world) and during Iftaar time in Ramadan.
(And if you’re returning back from the Americas or Europe, you’ll be a victim of this super awkward and utterly embarrassing moment).
7. “Get Married Soon Or No One Will Marry You.”
Are you in your early 20s? Do you have a lot of relatives, too? Have you answered ‘yes’ to the past two questions? Welcome to the ’20, Arab and Unmarried’ club! Every person you meet, your grandma, mum, aunt, mum’s friends, your mum’s sister’s third cousin’s grandma’s niece, all of them want you to get married. And if you were me, you’ve tried your best to run away from all the drama by avoiding all kinds of family gatherings, because: if you grow any older, you’ll lose your youthful skin, get wrinkles, and no man will marry you.
Oh, and they don’t care if your friends are listening or if you’re in the washroom, this topic can and will take place anytime, anywhere.
8. “Why Do You Have A Plastic Bag Filled With Plastic Bags?”
Oh, don’t even get me started on this one. Every time your friends visit your house or your dorm, the sight of the plastic bag hanging behind the door or in the cabinet fascinates their mind!
What goes through your friend’s mind: Is collecting plastic bags like a thing now? Just like collecting coins?
What goes through your mind: Of course, like it’s simple to say that it’s a family tradition passed down the generations.
But, really guys, this is very useful, like whenever you need an extra bag to wrap something in, or carry something, or use it in the trash-bin in your room, or whatever.
9. The Mighty Shabashib
Who hasn’t ever faced the wrath of the shabashib? The time you misbehaved in front of the guests, or maybe the time when you back-answered your mum in a mall, your mum/dad must’ve whispered to you, “wait till you get back home”… and once back home, there’s no telling what you might have to go through.
What about the time your teacher complained about your undone homework and your bad performance in her class? *cringes at old memories*
Let’s just move on to the next awkward moment.
10. “But Baba, I want to be an actor.” – “You mean a doctor.”
Nope, you can’t choose a career all by yourself, if you are an Arab. Either you become a doctor, engineer, lawyer or join the family business, or you hear your parents, their parents and all your relatives rant about how uncontrollable you’ve become. If you’ve chosen to become anything besides these, you must’ve been labeled to be a rebel, a ‘bad-example’ or even called a ‘fool’.
Though in the end, parents can’t always be upset with you. So, they try to understand your point of view and accept you for what you’ve become… after making you go through that super awkward and intense phase.
Well, no matter what your parents have made you go through, you can’t deny the fact that growing up in an Arab environment is the best thing ever… especially because of all that food!
Have you had any such experiences? Comment below and let us know.