I am a winner! Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" earned me a third place trophy at the US Consulate's 2009 Karaoke Night two days ago. Karaoke was only one of many activities that night... my longest yet in Jeddah.
The consulate officer, Martin Quinn, invited US KAUST students for an informal visit. Once we arrived and cleared security, Mr. Quinn himself welcomed us and engaged us in informal discussion which ranged from cautionary advice about living in Saudi Arabia to our feelings about adjusting at KAUST. The consulate is watching us very closely - we are the largest delegation of American students ever to live and study in Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Quinn expressed that he very much wants us to adjusting well, and that KAUST's success is important for both the US and Saudi Arabia's interests.
After our conversation, we went to the Marine House for dinner and to mix with other expats who had come to participate in the First Annual Marine House Karaoke Night. Unfortunately, security did not allow my camera in, so what happened at the consulate will have to stay at the consulate.
My fellow Americans returned to the bus at midnight, but I and my friend Richard broke off from the group to go shopping with some friends in Jeddah.
After a quick meal at Fudruckers, Richard and I acted as fashion consultants for my friend Mohammed who desperately needed a suit for the inauguration that is in just three days. Unfortunately, we didn't find one that night - they either didn't fit at all or were too expensive. Mohammed almost settled for an Armani suit which fit perfect and looked sharp, but would have set him back 3300 Riyals (about $800).
After the suit stores closed at 2:30 am (Peak Ramadan business hours are generally 8 pm - 3 am) we went grocery shopping to pick up some things that are not available at the little campus market (like cheese - whoop!) Outside the store, the owner of this Lotus sports car caught me gawking and suggested I climb inside for a closer look. It made for a good photo-op.
We finished grocery shopping at 3:30, less than two hours before sunrise, which didn't give us enough time to return to KAUST before the fasting period started again, so we stopped in at a local restaurant (which was packed with people!) and gorged ourselves on chicken and rice before making the drive back to campus.
Here we are eating on the floor, Saudi style!
This is what the sky looked like right before I went into my house and collapsed from exhaustion. This was a fun night, but I will be very glad to see schedules return to "normal" after Ramadan ends (tomorrow!) I do prefer to have most of my waking hours coincide with daylight hours. This was not one of those days.
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