The time is between six and seven in the evening. As part of my routine, I have to buy food from the market.
Another night, same as the past nights. I bought food from a bearded guy. For basic conversation, I have to unload my little knowledge of broken Arabic.
Of course, I should pay the “bakala” — the way people called the local convenience store. In Filipino version, it’s “Aling Puring Suking Tindahan.” Ah okay, it’s “tindahan” for short.
I have to take out my currencies of Rials with different sizes. Same as Euros, it gets bigger depending on the value.
Then, I said it with a smile, “Shukran Sadiq” — a simple greeting in broken Arabic. It means “Thanks, my friend.”
I’m ready to go.
It took me more than half an hour, sometimes even an hour to get back home. Sometimes, I go alone. Sometimes, I’m with a fellow Filipino friend who knows more how to cook. 🙂
Every single day, the bakalas should close at most five times. It depends on the length of their opening hours. Most people, stop for a while to pray. Part of the Islamic faith.
As a Christian, I admit it made me annoyed sometimes. But, I have my utmost respect and amazement for the commitment of our Muslim brothers and sisters. I learned from them the importance of prayers. They give proper priority for their prayer times.
For two years, I saw this tradition done without a miss. Even, in holidays. Or let say, especially in holidays. KSA consists of few holidays, by the way.
Bakalas are just one of business establishments who have to close to give way for prayer time. Pharmacies, clinics, stores inside shopping malls, restaurants and hardware are some of the lists.
The Kids Throwing Stones
“When a man is denied the right to live life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw” ~Nelson Mandela
Aware of the different culture, I learned timing in buying foods is critical. Or else, I have to wait. Looking in another perspective, this is not bad. I take the time listen to a podcast. Or, find another person to talk. For easier communication, I prefer another Filipino, but anyone is a great person of my interest.
Going to market is no big deal. Not at all. If only for these pesky kids.
Part of going to market is storming these bullies.
I had an old Filipino friend. More than 60 years of age and told me stories about these kids. He said these annoying group threw stones at him. It frustrates him as he can’t do anything about them. He knows he is in a foreign territory.
He had a good reason to get angry. But, that’s all he can do. As I’m listening, I’m thankful to God as it hasn’t happened to me.
It happens to me, as well. Once.
There are times these kids (not Filipinos, not sure if Saudi nationals) are riding bicycles. One of them would go fast towards my direction, then take an immediate break an inch before he hits me.
One time, these kids are laughing and shouting at me. I didn’t understand a word. After I had passed them, I heard stones falling to the ground near me.
They’re throwing stones at me!
I’m still thankful to God; I never get hit. Still, it hit me about reality. I realized this has something to do with education. The real education.
The Saudi Arabian Kid Who Love Justin Bieber
Following the above story, you might guess where this place took place. Yes, I was in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Those were the days.
Specifically, the place is in Baish, inside Jazan (or Jizan) Province. I have a handful of valuable lessons living in KSA. Also, a realization — the impact of education on the youth.
Before I get back to the Philippines, I go to a courier service to send back my things. I don’t want to carry a lot of baggage with me to the airport.
Unfortunately, the nearest one is miles away, located at the center of Jazan province. I don’t have a car. I don’t even know how to drive. So, I have to bring these items of baggage. It took me two taxi rides.
After I finally finish doing the heavy liftings, only one more burden to bear.
I had a hard time looking for a taxi. It is dark as it was already past nine in the evening. Until one kid with his shiny car stopped in front of me. The kid is a Saudi national. He told me, he doesn’t need my money which I believe. As far as I know, the government pays for the education of the local citizens.
“I just want to talk someone to practice my English,” the kid told me his agenda.
“Okay, I think I can help you,” I said out of desperation for a taxi ride. Besides the fact it’s a free ride.
Great deal, right? I suddenly remembered the stone-throwing kids; I get worried. What if this kid plays tricks on me? I took the risk, anyway. He seems harmless to me.
Then he keeps on talking.
“Do you like music?”
He follow-up with, “how about Justin Bieber? He is my favorite.”
Then, he continues talking, “my father doesn’t like me listening to this music.”
One more question, “by the way, what’s your name?”
This time I have the chance to talk. “My name is Michael,” I respond with a basic answer.
“Oh, same like Michael Jackson? Do you know him?” There go his follow-up question again.
The Kid as an Avid Fan of Cristiano Ronaldo
As he drove and started playing Justin Bieber’s songs, I can’t see how I can help him improve his English. He’s already fluent. It’s me actually who’s improving.
I told him stories of my life in the Philippines. The beautiful places and the culture of my beloved country.
He told me his only sixteen years old taking up medicine. Then he brings out his personal thoughts. His father doesn’t like his kind of music, especially rap songs of Eminem. He learned this song from America.
Going to a foreign country, we can’t avoid the significant effect of going to a different culture. The kid gets immersed in another perspective of life. Same as I did for his country.
Because the travel is long, he also has the time to tell me his plans of going to the Philippines. He already heard stories about the beautiful white-sand beaches.
He’s also a football fanatic. His greatest idol is Cristiano Ronaldo. He told me the story of sports legend — the story of his hero who rises from poverty to the best football player in the world.
The kid is kind and respectful. I never get bored. He is so kind that I felt guilty doubting him in the first place.
I want to apologize to you as I can’t remember the name of the kid.
As I have to bid farewell, I insist on paying him back. But, he is more persistent in not taking it. I shake the hand of the kid.
“Shukran,” the only words I could say to the kid. It means “thanks.”
What the Hell is Water?
When I was still in KSA, I told my story about the kids who throw stones at me to my mother. As expected, she’s so angry. I told her to understand them.
“Wala lang po silang matinong edukasyon (They don’t have the proper education),” I defended them.
“It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness” ~David Foster Wallace, 2005 Kenyon College commencement speech
It starts with an older fish warning two younger fish about the water. He says, “warning boys, how’s the water?”
Then one of young fish ask the other young fish, “what the hell is water?”
It is not hard to conclude that wealthy people have better behavior than the poor people. The first are more educated than the latter. Isn’t it?
It is easy to say the kid with a shiny car is more educated than those who throw stones to passersby. Is education only means academic? Is a person uneducated if he or she doesn’t get a college diploma?
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary: “Education is the action or process of teaching someone especially in a school, college, or university.”
But, we see, then and again. Uneducated (or at least college drop outs) poor people seems more educated than those who finish their formal education.
I read in a Facebook post saying: What’s the point of your education if you still throw garbage on streets to be ultimately picked up by an uneducated person working?
Yes, I’m still recovering from Facebook feed addiction.
The Disease Called Entitlement Mentality
I come to think about it. These trash in the street thrown by the so-called “educated” people and picked up by the humble “uneducated” garbage collectors. Did you find it amusing?
Perhaps, the greatest epidemic is the entitlement mentality. Education is a significant advantage, but it’s not an assurance. People seems entitled, especially the young generation.
The technology is not helping sometimes. Too much comfort trained us to believe in instant gratification. We lack patience and quit at the slightest pain of difficulties. I also have the entitlement mentality at times. It is easy for me to blame and complain than take the responsibility. Honestly, I’m still recovering.
At least, we can start with this awareness. As David Foster Wallace said, real education is more about simple awareness. It is true, “common sense is not a common practice.” So, we should exercise more common sense. It should start with ourselves.
Then, trust for a positive ripple effect.
Don’t be the fish unaware of the water. Get simple awareness. Stop the entitlement mentality. Practice the obvious — service for a cause that struck your heart, increase your patience, care and respect to strangers, love for the environment, self-care, love for your family and friendships. The few obvious things.
My Hidden Agenda for This Blog Post
I say technology sometimes not helping. But, technology is like money, it’s neither good nor bad. The Bible says “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Technology, like money, used wisely is good. If we are not careful enough, it will use us.
With today’s technology, almost anyone in the world could have access to education.
Because I have not yet get my Debit Card, I borrowed my sister’s Credit Card. Of course, with her permission. I bought an online course in Udemy “Freelance Writing For Beginners.”
I’m also reading articles from CopyBlogger about storytelling.
If you want free storytelling lessons, take this free course from Pixar’s “The Art of Storytelling.”
I’m still looking for work abroad. I will not accept any freelance work unless I’m already an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) again.
First, I should know my schedules and how could I adjust. I know this is tough. But, I’m aware enough to know that it would be worth it.
If you notice, I put some stories. I also put a lot of dialogues, which I’m not sure if I put correct punctuations.
I’ll appreciate any corrections. I consider myself an eternal student. Real education never stops. Part of it is feedbacks.
So yep, you got it. I use this blog post to practice story telling. If I’m planning to make 2000 words weekly blog post, then learning to tell stories effectively is a must.
Best Way to Learn — Through Application
As usual, there’s always doubts. I thought I’m not good at telling stories verbally, what’s the difference in writing?
Well, I don’t know a lot of things. Some I need to learn through listening to podcast, talks, interviews and audiobooks. I also read books and the digital counterparts. Sometimes, through videos and online courses.
But, there are some better learned with an application. Like the saying, you’ll never know until you try. By the way, practical lessons are the most valuable. Also, the most expensive to neglect.
I’m still learning the consequence of getting the education only for the sake of knowing. I made a lot of awful decisions that lead me to frustrations, directionless and scarcity mentality. The real value is the application of the lessons as part of our daily lives.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~another Nelson Mandela quote
Real education strengthens our character. First, it changes us from our core. Then, it gains us powerful weapon to make a positive change in the world.
Seek real education. With God’s grace, I will.
I hope you do, too. God bless. 🙂