Gaps in knowledge: Moving Fast
They don’t move quickly the Arabs. They are known for taking their own sweet good time, whether it be walking from class to class, around the mall or paying for their Shawarma in the cafeteria. In fact they barely move beyond a strolling pace at any time other than in the car, when they are practising for the next F1 or driving close enough to catch a glimpse of the label of my shirt through their windscreen. One of my comrades at work told me that after a recent school trip oversees his trip through Dubai airport with a group of slow walking teens left him dazed and confused. There is never any need for hurry. After all if they should miss that plane then certainly there will be another waiting to take them on their merry way. And when they walk through the airport with the same gait as one on a leisurely stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries, pausing to glance at flowers and sniff warm croissants, they walk eight abreast so that no one with an actual fear of missing a flight has a chance to squeeze past.
When I tell my students to hurry up, and quick now, they might be late for their next class, they look at me as if I am quite mad. For why should they risk raising their heart beat just to be in time for a class? Again, I brought this up with my lovely students who are often amazed by my lack of comprehension over matters Bahraini and are more than happy to oblige with answers. Miss, one gorgeous girl said, as she swept back her mane of black locks, we don’t need to hurry because we are Arab.
Is it really as simple as that?
Yes, because there is no problem. It will all be okay and we are never late because everyone else is also taking their time.
And how, pray tell, will they survive when they hit Sheffield, Leeds, Kent or Manchester next year?
The answer, my friends, is very simple. They will find other Arabs to befriend who move at the same pace.
There is something to be envied in this attitude. Here we are in the West, rushing madly to catch buses and trains, meet deadlines and hurtle ourselves through life, stopping occasionally to gulp wine with friends before dashing to bed only to zip quickly through another day tomorrow. This way, the slow moving way, might be frustrating for those of us operating on a different speed, but for them it works. But somehow it doesn’t have the same ring as the laid back Jamaican “no problem, mon” attitude of a guy sitting on the beach with all the time in the world. Here we are meant to be getting things done, moving at a clip, operating at First World Speed. Perhaps the whole reason lies in their dress. It is quite impossible to move at any impressive speed in a Thob. One would have to raise it above the knee and give it what for, risking limb, head scarf and dignity.
If you were to picture my life in a time lapse film, I would be a beige blur running out of frame, and there, sharply in focus would be the Arabs, still and glossy in their splendour, smiling and shaking their heads at my madness