Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Yikes, Ambushed by Children!

Never have I been so intimidated by children. As you know, we live in a very isolated area. One night about a week ago, I was alone in the house watching a movie when I heard the doorbell ring. Women don't really go door to door here for anything, because of the high chance that a man will come to the door, so I didn't respond. I thought this time I would just avoid the embarrassing conversation that really wasn't supposed to be happening anyways between myself and one of our male neighbors.
Normal protocol here, as in most places, is if there is no response to the doorbell, you go away and come again another time. But the bell rang again.

Just as I thought whoever it was had gone away, there was a powerful knock at our front door. Our house's yard is enclosed by a gate. Inside that gate is considered private property, not to be entered unless invited in.

I was scared, because this was really weird. For a minute I thought maybe it was one of our friends telling me George got in a car accident or something. But then I remembered that everyone relevant had my phone number. These thoughts whizzed through my head as the knocking continued and got stronger. It was pounding at this point. I stood there terrified before the door, and watched the door knob turn. The door was locked but the person on the other side kept pushing down on the handle.

I snapped into defense mode. I was alone. George was too far away to be able to do anything. I crept up the stairs to peak out the upper window at whoever was fighting to get in below. Just as I looked over the window I heard a voice yell in Arabic "Open the door!" I froze, more out of surprise than fear. It was a child's voice. The three more shadows rushed into the yard. Also children.

I went back downstairs.
"Who are you?" I asked him.
"Saeed," he said, like I should know.
"Where do you live?"
"Over there"
"What's your mother's name?" I kept questioning through the door.
"Laila. Opened the door."
Laila... Laila.... I met a Laila yesterday while I was biking. It must be her children. Her evidently terrifyingly aggressive children.
I opened the door and the boy, who was the oldest of the posse of five at about 12 years old, grabbed my hand. "Salam aleykum."
"Aleykum as Salam." I said in a daze.
They stayed for about 10 minutes, giving themselves a tour of the house. Drinking water and trying to use my camera. I let them take a picture and I gave into taking a picture of them. I was exhausted and stunned. Never before have I been so ambushed by children. They were utterly insane and amazingly audacious. I finally managed to shuffle them out of the house.

I collapsed on the sofa.

Of course, I see these children often now. They come over almost every evening, but now I confine them to the yard. And yes I mean confine.

Seriously though? Who does that? Their mother, Laila, who I met again yesterday, is surprisingly placid and unassuming. She's making me Omani bread today.


Tom said...

That's absolutely nuts. But on the issue of safety, having a passle of kids running around making themselves at home would seriously inconvenience any actual criminal...

ynotoman said...

They also know the rules – and know they broke them.
They had been watching and knew you were in the house – alone .
Would they have done it to an Omani woman – no.
But – they are bored – no school?!
And you are a unknown – interesting – person – who isn’t on their social network.
I never let any over my threshold – even for ‘Karen Kashoo’ or ‘Eidiya’

Jennifer H. said...

Wow, that's really strange. I don't know about Oman,but I wouldn't expect something like that here in Bahrain. On the contrary, people are usually wary of us westerners and you'd think parents would warn their kids to stay away...not make themselves at home. I could understand if you had children and they were coming over to play or something...Good think you are nice and friendly.Nice picture by the way.

Clare said...

Hey Jennifer,
Yeah, whole different world from Bahrain here. They certainly aren't wary though as you might think.

ynotoman said...

As a man – I can ‘imagine’ how it is a a woman; but cant really know. I used to live as they only western person in an Omani village (only non Omani except farm workers) . I became part of their society – and so the kids treated me as they saw their older sibling / patents etc doing and would be chastised otherwise .

Clare said...

Dear ynotoman,
I wonder, did your incorporation into the society take a while or was it immediate? I know it is different for men and women. I am even more foreign to them than my western husband. Men are men I guess everywhere, but I'm somehow MORE different. Anyhow, that's how I see it.

Jet Driver said...


What you're doing is quite simply fabulous.
I applaud your efforts to learn.

Have fun and the very best of luck!


Clare said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence. God knows I need it here!

Sounds like maybe you do too:)