June 30, 2011

What Does It Mean To Be Ajnabi?

N.B.  Will make more sense when you have read the first one!

What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

The (first?) sequel to “What does it mean to be Omani?”. “Ajnabi” is the Arabic word meaning “foreigner”. There are others, but this is the most generic. Feel free to read “Ingleezi”, “Amreeki”, “Mzungu” or any other specific nationality you recognise, or whichever word causes the most amusement/offence/titillation. I do more or less mean Europeans and other “whities” though. Please do not boycott this blog or attempt to identify/prosecute/assassinate the author on the basis of this post alone. Another nationality or ethnicity will be insulted shortly – subject to public demand and my personal whim. And I only tease you because I love you. :)


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means putting your country's flag on your car as if it were a football team, then wondering why other people stare at you.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means spending twenty years in the Middle East but never learning to say as much as “hello” in the local language or finding out what local food is, then complaining that migrants in your country don't speak proper English and eat weird food.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means spending the equivalent of the average income solely on a brand of breakfast cereal that reminds you of home, whereas at home you always bought the cheapest.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means buying a mock-antique local artefact to stand your television on, then watching the local news from your own country obsessively.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means making a point of telling your friends back home that you now live in a house with more bathrooms than people, meaning that you're considered rather wealthy by 99.99 per cent of humanity.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means complaining about the driving standards, boring everyone you meet in the bar with stories of bad driving you saw, then getting into your car with a blood alcohol level that would kill a horse.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means complaining about how nobody can write in proper English, while having failed to achieve a higher education or learn any foreign languages yourself.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means complaining about how awful your country of origin has become, while socialising only with people of the same origin with whom you mostly complain about the country you're in.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means complaining about positive discrimination for locals, yet enjoying the high salary you earn purely by virtue of your nationality and ethnicity, and despite being virtually unemployable in your own country.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means telling your friends/family about how beautiful the place is where you've chosen to camp/picnic/stop to admire the view, while never having camped, picnicked or stopped just to enjoy a view in your life, in the country where you grew up.


What does it meant to be Ajnabi?

It means building a special room or facility to keep your pets in, but making the woman you employ to raise your children sleep on the floor by the washing machine. And insisting she call you by your first names because you're all equal really.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means developing a weird compulsion to eat pork products every day because their sale is restricted, despite having been a vegetarian since the age of thirteen.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means secretly feeling that the gyms at major international hotels should be reserved for white people, despite having been an anti-apartheid activist at college.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means flying with your own national airline and complaining about them every time, then trying the local airline and complaining about them too. Actually it just means complaining. About everything. Until you get home on holiday and brag to your friends and relatives about how fabulous your lifestyle is.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means complaining endlessly about Indians. Then hiring them anyway because it's cheaper and they won't call the police if you swear at them – which you know how to do in English, almost kidding yourself that they don't understand.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means ensuring every part of the bathroom is as clean when you leave as when you went in, but not washing your bottom because that's weird.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means being happy when you get a new car, job or spouse. Then posting pictures on Facebook to make sure all your friends back home know that you have a beautiful new salary/RangeRover/Filipina.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means spending a lot of time in Dubai and talking about it as if it's heaven. Even if you live in Dubai.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means loving the weather and going outside even when it's insanely hot. Just so you can tell your friends back home that it's insanely hot when they are cold.


What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means earning the highest salary in the country, but fighting an impoverished Indian to the death over a $1 discount on a portable barbecue.



(Suggestions would be welcome on who to insult next...stay with www.thelinoleumsurfer.com !)

46 comments:

Trygve said...

Not your best post. I don't qualify for even one of those points, nor do any of the (admittedly few) other ajnabis I know.
Very depressing to think there must be really be people like this. But it reminds me to never assume I understand someone or think that I know anything.

The Linoleum Surfer said...

The fact that you know only a few other "ajanib" probably says it all - if this stereotype isn't you I'm glad for you!

But alas, over many years and in several countries, I've met literally hundreds of them. There are one or two nationalities that stand out - I don't think yours is one of them.

TLS

Xanthippe said...

My stint in Oman and elsewhere made it clear that my compatriots in the USA have the filthiest bottoms in the world! Glad you've drawn some much-needed attention to this shameful sanitation issue - a small first step towards civilizing the natives back home?

ynotoman said...

well - it dosnt include eating al saffa chicken by the looks of the post

Oman Collective Intelligence said...

You're 90% right...;)

EgyptianArabic said...

Extremely obvious perceptions... good job?

AZ said...

One word: HILARIOUS! And already on my FB wall...

Dr. S said...

Sublime......... I love it!
Now let's see if it sticks as much as the ad so we can chant it in the expat-pub over a glass or two of vin rouge...

iserably married to an Ajnabi said...

LOL...the best I have read on this blog so far, hilarious hehhehe and so true. so witty! here's a kiss x

Oman said...

iserably married to an Ajnabi said

if you add a M thats dosnt sound happy

Anonymous said...

It's so so so true.

All u ppl who dont agree with this are living in denial even though knowing it very well that there is no reason not to agree with this post.

Anonymous said...

PMSL! Especially about the toilet/bottom part

Modh Baluchi said...

LoOoOoOoL....!!!
another hilarious post....so funny

Miserably married to an Ajnabi said...

Thanks Oman for the M. Mine though doesn't do the bottom thing he still manages to splash water all around the bathroom, he's the best nagger in town, pork and native canned food obsessed, and can't have enough of muttering about the locals. TLS sounds like your living with my hubby!!

macbookprodad said...

How i love this

"What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means being happy when you get a new car, job or spouse. Then posting pictures on Facebook to make sure all your friends back home know that you have a beautiful new salary/RangeRover/Filipina."

hahahaha, and why Filipina?

Sythe said...

Lino - I could poke holes in lots of your definitions but I can see what you mean. Amusing post.

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Well, I kind of had to do this one after the first one...but then, something tells me you recognise all the guys in the picture! ;)

Fatma said...

OK, it is official.. you are my third favorite Oman-based blogger. I really loved both "What does it mean...." articles but I have to admit that I rather like Al-Safaa ad.
I absolutely love the following two quotes from your article and I believe them to be 100% true:

1-What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means spending twenty years in the Middle East but never learning to say as much as “hello” in the local language or finding out what local food is, then complaining that migrants in your country don't speak proper English and eat weird food.

2-What does it mean to be Ajnabi?

It means flying with your own national airline and complaining about them every time, then trying the local airline and complaining about them too. Actually it just means complaining. About everything. Until you get home on holiday and brag to your friends and relatives about how fabulous your lifestyle is.

Anonymous said...

I made the mistake of reading "Ajnabi" first. Much funnier reading them the correct way round.

Both almost perfect observations (although none describe me, of course)

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Thanks Anon...naturally, these are all "people we've met" without being specific!

Fatma...third?! Ya mama what do I have to do to be your number one?!

:)

Anonymous said...

Sad but true! As an expat, I agree that 80% of expats are like what you have described. However, I believe that most foreigners living in a country that is not their own end up having these same traits. In the UK and America there are shops/supermarkets dedicated to the foreigner/expat living there ( Why haven't they embraced the stodgy and deep fried diet we love so much). There are even whole areas of cities that have changed over time to become a home away from home for the foreigner/expat (China town/Little Italy). Now when will we see a little England in Muscat, (Oh i forgot we alrady have one, M.Q)

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Made me laugh. I knew a few expats like this (I mean in at least a few of the traits, maybe not all).

Xianthippe: I didn't know you read blogs;) -[the girl you gave ur apartment to;)].

Simsim said...
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Simsim said...
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Fatma said...

Sorry Surfer, number one and two are already taken by two female bloggers who write in Arabic. Maybe in the future I can move you up if the impossible happened and you posted in Arabic ;)

belma said...

So true.

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Nzain Fatoom...so why be so negative ya mama?! This is your number one English-language blog. This is your number one male-written blog. See? Now don't give me any more of that number three stuff OK? :D

As for posting in Arabic...not impossible. Just very slooow. It takes me ages and I can't really work the humour/sarcasm in the same way somehow. I've had a couple of requests to translate some of the more popular/serious ones ("Arabs' Got Prostitution", "Save the Clitoris") to help them reach a wider local readership. I'll get round to it eventually...maybe even a separate page or section...

In the mean time, maybe I'll just make the occasional little comment on the Facebook page to make you feel welcome, OK? (As long as I can find you there that is!)

Thanks for being here.

TLS :)

Susan said...

Hmm.... funny post, although I get the feeling you're targeting ajnabis in the Muscat area. Like Trygve said, 99% of the points wouldn't apply to ajnabis in other parts of Oman

june seghni said...

Having been a gaijin in japan,a waeguk-saram in Korea and a farang in Thailand at various points in my life, I recognise all of these observations. Whether I ever fell into these behaviours,I couldn't possibly say....

Queen said...

wow, seriously!! i must agree with each point 100%!! also, this is not just to be "ajnabi".. i'd rather say its one specific nationality that we're talking about right here, but they would simply never admit it, so its rather good that you have kept the stereotype name as " ajnabi " :))) well done!! cant wait for the next one! may be its about time you take up Indian/Pakistani stereotype!! ;) only makes sense since you have mentioned them in both previous posts!!

Leadingtheway said...

'Unemployed in your country but earning big bucks out here' ...so true....
Next shot at the Indians.....

Fatma said...

Mabrook Surfer, your blog is my number one English-language blog :)

Regarding language, you can use any language you feel most comfortable with and judging by your perfect English, you are soooo comfortable with English...I had to use Google translate to know what the hell Linoleum means :(

I will try to be more active on Facebook since you promised to make me feel welcomed there.

Anonymous said...

an ugly and absurd post!

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Awesome response, thanks! And you should see how ugly and absurd I am in real life! Is that you again my special friend, or did you just recognise someone in the cartoon? :D

Anonymous said...

As a new visitor, I didn't like the post when I read it for first time, but I understood the humour in it after reading your other posts..I sincerely withdraw my earlier response.
btw, I am neither your special friend nor your cartoon hero :)! I was a first timer on your blog!

Thanks,

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Haha...well you're a good sport too! Thanks!

rajesh said...

TLS.... Nice post. I liked both of your "What does it mean to be a..."

I have relocated back to my home country. While reading your post, never for a moment I felt that I left Oman. I was so deeply living in Virtual World of Oman, when i answered to my wife "we will go to Lulu tomorrow" in reply to "when shall we go for our next grocery refill?" SO much was my involvement.

Hey.. wait a minute.. May be it's time to write a post of "What does it mean to be a returned ajnabi"

:-)

lostinoman said...

Interesting posts. I've never liked posts that paint people with the same brush but then I guess the point is to stimulate debate.

I'm Canadian, patriotic to a fault (still think the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup) but always curious and respectful of the culture and customs of the citizens of the countries I reside in or visit. The first thing I learn when I arrive in another country is how to say "thank you" in the local language. Goes a long way to gaining respect never mind the surprised smile.

Perhaps the next topic should be "What does it mean to be a human being?".

Shukran!

TripleTee said...

Loved it. Hilarious and true :p

Bemused said...

Not a good post - very predictable and aimed at Europeans so mis-titled.

I watched for the bottom washing entry which is so tired. It's the one thing that appears in every article of this type as 'proof' of superiority.

I have lived in many countries and people of this type are few and far between but for you, an easy target.

I expected better.

The Linoleum Surfer said...

It makes more sense if you read the first one first - better still put them side by side; each is how one tends to view the other - hence the more obvious stereotypes ;)

Anonymous said...

Please write something about Ajnabi and Omani wives!!

Anonymous said...

Why is it that when things hit home, people get all superior about it? As an expat, I would say 95 per cent of what you've written is true and it's not just about Western expats but you will find the same in the Asian community in their way. First time on your blog - love it.

blewyn said...

Ajnabis that make their maids sleep on the floor ?? Never heard of it.....Speaking for my own little European ajnabi circle of friends here in Muscat, it would be social death to do such a thing, or to mistreat a maid in any way. If we had one, that is.

The Linoleum Surfer said...

Bladwyn my old friend, I'm sure you're right. This has to be read alongside the first one (which again really only makes sense if you heard the chicken ad..)..but yeah: I know Europeans don't usually have that all-too-common "slave" attitude.

But I meant to say here that sometimes the gap isn't as big as they think it is: some people think they're very egalitarian and understanding, but still don't really see that person as an adult person with their own cares and hopes.

Anyway, no offence intended, as I hope you know, and I will happily concede that a maid with a European family on average usually gets a better lifestyle. I did know a Norwegian family who kept theirs in a cupboard under the stairs, but that was OK because they were "cool with her". But yeah, it's not a reflection on everyone...

The Linoleum Surfer said...

(I forgot to add - thanks for reading and commenting; makes it all worthwhile!)