Saturday, September 5, 2009

Man on A Plane

When my son Adam and I recently returned from the states, we changed planes in Dubai. While we were sitting in the gate area waiting for our flight to Jeddah, we both noticed a rather comical-looking, chubby little man who was wearing the traditional Saudi white dress and the red and white checkered scarf. He had the scarf wrapped around his head in a turban style with a long tail down the back. The brown colored man had an unkempt bushy gray beard and the length of his thobe came to only mid-calf, instead of all the way down to his sandaled feet. We noticed him because he kept pacing briskly back and forth nervously in the gate area, and we could hear him mumbling to himself in Arabic.



Imagine our surprise when we boarded the plane and there he was - seated in our row! But not only that, he was actually seated in one of our assigned seats. Our boarding passes clearly indicated that we had the window seat and the one next to it. Apparently the man was supposed to be sitting in the aisle seat; however, as we found out, he really preferred the window seat, so he simply sat there. When we tried to tell him that he was in our seat, we discovered that his command of the English language was pretty much non-existent. Adam spoke up in Arabic to the strange little man. In a very thick accent and exaggerated hand gestures, our seat-mate explained, "I like window. It's ok! You sit, it's okay," pointing to the two empty seats next to him, one of which should rightfully have been his. As he spoke, I could see that his teeth were discolored and he was missing a couple of them. Instead of creating any further problems or hard feelings with our seat-mate, who seemed totally oblivious to the fact that we would have actually preferred our own assigned seats (imagine that!), my son and I reluctantly sat in the two empty seats, with my lifesaver son sitting in the middle. The airplane was packed full to the gills, otherwise we would have seriously considered moving to another row.

As the engines revved, the funny looking man - whose name we later learned was Mohammed - began to pray loudly in Arabic. He held tightly onto a set of prayer beads in his clenched fist. The volume of his chanting increasingly got louder and louder as the plane began to move forward faster and faster for takeoff. Looking around, I noticed that Adam and I weren't the only passengers on the plane who exchanged uneasy, puzzled glances. Experiencing this, with this man seated right next to us, was rather unsettling for my son and me. We were both relieved when the airplane finally left the ground and within a minute or so, the loud nervous chanting finally stopped.

During the flight, as Adam tried to watch the individual video screen in front of him, Mohammed told my son in Arabic that he shouldn't be watching movies or television shows, that such things were only for children and dogs. He asked Adam many personal questions, and Adam tried to answer him politely. But at least half a dozen times, Mohammed told Adam that he was going to hell because he liked music, and because Adam watched movies and TV, and other assorted things. Adam told me all this later when Mohammed dozed off to sleep, but when the food service came around a short time later, Mohammed woke up.

What happened next was totally unexpected. Adam ate as much as he wanted of the airline meal before him and sat back. Then Mohammed asked him in Arabic if he was finished eating. When my son said "Yes," Mohammed proceeded to lecture him about wasting food, again indicating that Adam would go to hell for committing this sin.

AND THEN, Mohammed actually rummaged though the uneaten and partially-eaten food on Adam's tray and took it for himself! I sat there in disbelief with my jaw dropped and my son's eyes got as wide as grapefruits. We couldn't believe what had just happened. I was expecting Mohammed's stubby little hand to reach across Adam to see what he could salvage off of MY tray! Fortunately for him, Mohammed refrained from doing so, because I was ready to slap him.

Sitting next to Mohammed on this flight was definitely an enlightening and surreal experience for us. Needless to say, Adam and I were both relieved when the plane landed - happily, without any loud praying - at our destination. We anxiously deplaned, shaking our heads in disbelief. Now I've had some wonderful experiences meeting terrific people on airplanes (shout outs to Bonnie and Ronnie!), but this has to be one of the the most distressing experiences I've ever had - if not THE most distressing one!

Have YOU ever had an unfortunate or uncomfortable experience with an unusual seatmate on an airplane?

51 comments:

  1. This past fall my sister and I were flying a short distance within Germany. It was a smaller plane than I would have liked to get on but I tried to feel confident and boarded the plane. Gave my sister the window seat and next to me sat a rather large man. Who was obviously VERY distressed to be flying. He sweated profusely, trembled and I swear almost had a heart attack on take off. I felt very bad for him but he was making ME nervous as heck!!

    On another note, not quite related to your reply but interesting.. My sister and I have flown twice from Vancouver, BC Canada to either Amsterdam or the second time Germany to visit our other sister.

    On all flights we were offered drinks, alcoholic or not, snacks, full meals and sometimes twice on the longer flights. We were also given headphones to watch our movies on the sets on the seats ahead of us and offered pillows and blankets.

    Imagine my surprise when the last leg of our trip this past spring to home was through Air Canada, flying from Toronto to Vancouver. 5 hour flight. We were 'offered' head phones ($3.00), disposable pillows and blankets ($4.00) and if you wanted food you paid top dollar for it! (I got a dried out sub sandwich for $8.00 only because I was ravenous!) Pop, water and coffee was offered once. Alcohol commanded $6.00 a drink! Made me ashamed, we are known as a friendly and kind country, not cheap and stingy!

    Anyway, sorry for rambling :)

    Anyway, I was just very disappointed that when flying in Europe you are ACCOMMODATED and here in Canada, my home country everything was so darn STINGY!

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    1. You received those amenities because you were flying internationally. Canadian airlines will offer the same amenities if you fly internationally but charge for anything other than juice and soda and small snacks (biscuits, or bits & bites) if you fly domestically. It is the same for domestic flights in the USA.

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  2. hahaha what an experience!! I like window seats too and always try to ask for them. Very often people seats in window when they don't have that ticket and I politely ask them to move, and if they say they like windows, and if I don't mind I can take their seat my answer is just so do I, that's why I asked for it, so please let me sit in my seat.

    I understand sometimes you see them so secure and being nice and smiling you just let them, but I really think after all the teaching he did, he should know he should have sit in his seat and not in anyone else seat... won't he go to hell for that??...Ah no.. he's the one doing it, of course!
    I find just repulsive someone I don't know puts his hand on my dish...what a nightmare you went through!!! He's got a cheek!

    Dogs watching TV ... funny, wonder in which country :o) Hope mines do not ask me for the remote control...is only mine!

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  3. Wow, I have never heard of anyone having such a rude seat mate. You were much more patient than I would have been. I would have asked the flight attendant for help to get my seat as assigned. I appauld your son too for his patience. This mans behavior was not acceptable in any nationality.

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  4. Sorry, but I think you should have had the flight attendant get your seat for you- and you shouldn't have let him take your sons food, unless you really didn't mind.

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  5. Oh...and I would have told him it isn't his place to tell your child what he may or may not watch either. People take advantage if you don't stop them.

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  6. Oh...and I would have told him it isn't his place to tell your child what he may or may not watch either. People take advantage if you don't stop them.

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  7. Susie , u really have always good things to tell us , i am always happy to be here in your blog , because always we can face the same situation in our life and then after read all here , we will be more relax !!
    Tks so much to always share your life here to us .

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  8. Yes, but not that bad. The worst I had was on an international (6-hour) flight. I had a middle seat. I like window seats; I get a little vertigo when I can't see out. I was sandwiched between a man that should have purchased two seats and a Scandinavian girl who hadn't bathed is many days. So half my seat was taken by a fat man, who I didn't want to touch, and if I moved away, I got into the VERY. SMELLY. zone. But they at least left me alone. Mohammed needed to be slapped; I wish he had tried to take some of your food so he could have been!

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  9. What a character. I hope he was satisfied with his second helping. How did your son feel about all of this?

    I once flew to Ireland alongside a fellow who wanted to tell me all he knew about the place. But he was lovely and avuncular and funny. Very different.

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  10. It's none of his business whether you are going to hell or not LOL. He's nuts!

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  11. I can feel your pain! On our way home from Uganda last year my daughter and I shared a row of seats with a family of three. My daughter was nine months on this flight and shared a seat with me as we are too frugal to buy her a seat of her own. Sadly the little boy, who had to be under two years, was neglected by his parents the WHOLE flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. His parents slept, watched there own individual televisions, drank and even ate without sharing with him. He was kicking at me and my baby almost the entire time.

    At one point he started to eat the headphone cord, so I mentioned it to his mother and she proceeded to whack in on the head three or four times and scream at him. I was in shock!!! Is this how people treat their own children and row mates on a plane? So I was now watching my own baby and this little guy. I still often feel sooooo sorry for him. He was just wanting there attention, but they were to selfish to care. I am already praying for our flight to Kuwait from DC. Oh, please let it go as smoothly as it can : )

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  12. I can feel your pain! On our way home from Uganda last year my daughter and I shared a row of seats with a family of three. My daughter was nine months on this flight and shared a seat with me as we are too frugal to buy her a seat of her own. Sadly the little boy, who had to be under two years, was neglected by his parents the WHOLE flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. His parents slept, watched there own individual televisions, drank and even ate without sharing with him. He was kicking at me and my baby almost the entire time.

    At one point he started to eat the headphone cord, so I mentioned it to his mother and she proceeded to whack in on the head three or four times and scream at him. I was in shock!!! Is this how people treat their own children and row mates on a plane? So I was now watching my own baby and this little guy. I still often feel sooooo sorry for him. He was just wanting there attention, but they were to selfish to care. I am already praying for our flight to Kuwait from DC. Oh, please let it go as smoothly as it can : )

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  13. i wonder why you didn't feel you should stop this man from berating YOUR CHILD. Sitting in one of YOUR SEATS because he liked it? That's crazy, crazy and unbelievably rude. You should have called the flight attendant and put the stop to the berating of your kid.

    Best.
    Anna

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  14. Riyadh to Jeddah flight one Wednesday afternoon - the plane was packed, and I got moved around 5 times before I was finally allowed to sit down. I suppose because I wasn't Saudi I was fair game for being forced to move for the older ladies and gents who wouldn't sit next to someone they didn't know. I got moved from my window seat to the very middle seat on a 777, where I had no place to put my purse, as the woman who had been assigned this seat had left her hand bags under the seat in front of me and a trunk in the footwell. Ahh, Saudia flights. How I DO NOT miss them!

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  15. LOL, I would seriously freak out if I were you. But you should have asked the flight attendant to ask him to move. I once had to do that with a Turkish lady. She took our seats because she wants to sit next to her kids. Well, I want to sit next to my family too!

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  16. Yikes, Susie! The nerve of that weird little guy doing that!

    As for myself - I never had anybody weird on an airplane, but I had one memorable one on a greyhound bus. I sat next to this obese guy who took up his seat and at least a quarter of mine, ramming me up against the window (literally!). Now, those things happen and it's not anything I haven't experienced before (as uncomfortable as it is). The thing is, he was really sweaty (like his white shirt was entirely see-thru!) and was wearing an N95 ventilator mask over his nose and mouth the entire time!!! I was scared to death that maybe he had some nasty communicable disease and I silently planned on getting my blood tested when I got off. He was silent through most of the trip until near the end, when he must have noticed I was freaking out. It turned out he had a really weak immune system and didn't want to catch anything from anybody on the bus (can't blame them...those buses are disgusting!). That was one memorable trip..

    PS - amyinbc - that doesn't surprise me about Air Canada (hate hate hate those guys!), but it is definitely not limited to them...United comes to mind.

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  17. ive been lucky enough with all the traveling ive done, ive never had to deal with an awkward seating situation.
    of all the airlines ive traveled ...virgin atlantic has been my favorite! they have so much stuff for kids(music, movies,video games) that my son is always entertained on the 11 hour flights.
    and they always seem to have good food

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  18. That is one amazingly weird experience. Maybe if you'd sat next to him instead of Adam he wouldn't have said a word to you. Not suppose to talk to women right.

    I don't fly freqently enough to have a story, plus I usually bury my head in a book. I always ask for a window seat and wouldn't have been so nice had someone been in my window seat.

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  19. Susie! What an experience! As a
    Saudi Arabian, I will personally
    have a hard time dealing with him;
    I am surprised that Adam and you
    kept calm! I envy you for the
    cold temper :o).

    From your description of Mohammed,
    he seemed to be from out of the
    city! I cannot get it how a
    person can judge whether a person
    would go to hell or heaven since
    nobody can guarantee himself Subhn
    Allah! Thank you!

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  20. I sat next to a guy who smelled funny. Funny like he hadn't taken a shower for a while. The whole time I was thinking, come on--who doesn't take a shower before getting on a plane?!

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  21. I got two incidents...

    When ever i fly i only do two things, sleep or read my pocket Quraan silently...
    Once on a San Antonio - Houston Continental, I started reading my Quraan and i was interupted while reading with this old lady next to me:
    - What are you reading? I said i am reading Quraan and got back to reading,
    - next question (again interupting) was what language is it, then the answer was Arabic
    - again next question (interrupted again), are you a muslim? well its obvious, i said yes and got back to reading...
    - then the funny thing happened, she slips in a "Jesus Loves you" Pamphlet into my Quraan almost shoving it in my eyes!!!

    I politely told her thanks, i know jesus loves me so does all the prophets and god, and now if she would please allow me to go back to my reading. On which she said She would pray for me to see the light.. and at last told me " I must see the light after the tunnel some day"

    But it did not stop there i was disturbed quiet well during my reading.... I wish i had yelled at her to Shut up, but my folks back home had asked me to keep quiet before the flight and not walk around much, lest i scare the passengers with my long beard and muslim looking appearance...

    So I thought if i had attracted attention i may probably be hand cuffed by pouncing air marshal's...

    Next was the BA Houston - London, well my mistake was to get into the aircraft with shmagh, thobe and quiet a long beard i guess???

    Of course invited some murmurs and quiet a few stares. Just as i had settled in my front row seat ( I prefer them for my long legs and to to get out of the aircraft sooner)

    After some time I was politely called by the air hostess away from my seat and she asked me if i would prefer to be seated elsewhere in the back rows as i seem to have made the passengers anxious!!!

    For which again i politely agreed and went back. I again wanted to really ask some tough questions but again for me my business trip to London and Ruh was much more important than being delayed by a bunch of rednecks...

    Since then i always fly emirates or saudia.. Though Saudia ain't that good and emirates costs me much but still atleast i travel with dignity :)

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  22. I do feel you should have fought for your seat by getting the flght attendant's help and also told him not to pray loudly. If you give space in the beginning, the person gets the message that he can get more space later on - hence his taking food from your son's plate is psychologically linked to your conceding your seat to him and not telling him to pray softly. As a single woman I always travel alone - in my country by train or flight and internationally by flight. Our trains' low-class coaches are very crowded and sometimes people without reservation get into them and since I'm alone, they think they can grab my seat. But I fight for it and they realise I can't be taken for granted. Hence I've begun to travel by more expensive class where such incidents are rare, but still people who are travelling in groups and have seats in different parts of the coach, try to move me because I'm alone - therefore they think I can be moved wherever they like. Sometimes I give in but sometimes I fight for it. On flight I haven't had this experience so far. We have expensive airlines where they give food, headphone, drinks etc. and we have some low-cost airlines within country where they give only soft drinks and they sell food in the plane. Perhaps this Toronto-Vancouver was a similar flight.

    In many Asian cultures, this idea is very strong that one shouldn't waste food even if one has paid for it, because it takes a lot of hard work to produce every grain of food and there are hundreds of millions of people in this world who are dying without food every day. Hence, if food is being wasted, others do try to finish it off. This is not something peculiar to the Arabs. Hence, his trying to finish food may be legitimate in his own culture but he obviously didn't realise that you may be offended. Moreover, he did wrongly take your seat and disturbed you by praying loudly, which was wrong. Your anger was justified.

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  23. Once on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, I sat next to a guy from Israel. He politely offered my friend and I a portion of his half-used orange juice. Eventually I fell asleep, and I was awoken when he started to pinch my cheeks. He said my cheeks reminded him of his twin sisters' back in Israel.

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  24. Thanks to Everyone for all the comments - It's fun to read about other people's experiences!

    To AmyInBC - I have found over the past few years, that all the international flights still offer full services, but domestically they are now charging extra for practically everything. Many international carriers also offer nice totes with toothbrushes, toothpaste, footies, etc. Flying inside the US, they are very stingy too - not just Canada!

    Hi Jewels - I didn't really know the extent of what Mohammed said to my son until later. He spoke to Adam in Arabic and my son was just being polite.

    Hi Sandy - Adam took everything in stride and maintained his cool. He just thought the guy was wacko and since he was sitting right next to him, Adam tried to be as respectful as he could.

    Hi Crystal - A 2-yr old on a plane definitely needs looking after by its parents. How sad.

    Hi Anon - I didn't know until after the fact what this man had said to my son since they were speaking in Arabic. He had no business telling Adam the things he did. Had I understood at the time I would have handled things then and there.

    Hi Mel - I have fortunately never had to take many bus trips!

    Hi Tarabulsi - Thank goodness my son just took everything with a grain of salt and didn't freak out when Mohammed kept telling him he would go to hell for his various infractions. Adam knows a nutcase when he sees one!

    Hi AbuAbdullah - Your two experiences are so unfortunate! I'm sorry you have to go through things like that just based on what you are wearing or reading. To always have that in the back of your mind about bringing unwanted attention to yourself otherwise you might be hauled off by the air marshalls must be a really uncomfortable feeling. Thanks for adding your perspective to this discussion.

    Hi Daisy - I don't think Adam or I will ever let someone else sit in our seat like that again. Not after how everything else turned out...

    Hi Erica - Strange...!!!

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  25. Hi Susie, I know it was surreal, but I actually laughed out loud at your story. There are many people in the world who don't travel beyond their own area and have not adopted "western" airline etiquette. I think one has to be respectful (which Mohammed was not) and assertive, and I would have called the flight attendant early on before accepting a seat that was not mine. I take special trouble not to cause unnecessary conflict which could exaggerate air rage in an irrational person. After all, we all want to arrive safely! I fly a lot and I always wonder what would happen if someone went berserk. In fact, last year, there was an Air Canada pilot who did just that (he became delusional) on a transatlantic flight. The remainder of the crew tied him up in First Class and sedated him with the aid of a physician on board, and the copilot flew the plane headed for the nearest airport, which happened to be in the West of Ireland, where the mentally ill pilot was met by an ambulance and taken off to hospital. The passengers were never in any danger.

    On a personal note, probably my most upsetting encounter on a plane was about 20 years ago during a transatlantic crossing. I was on my way to visit my father, who had just been diagnosed with cancer. My seatmate was a prostate cancer survivor and amateur pilot who insisted on sharing the gory details of his illness as well as the worst aviation horror stories. As a nervous flyer, this was NOT what I needed! Luckily this plane was half empty and I was able to escape after politely listening to this diatribe for almost an hour. These days, the load factor is much higher and I probably would have to put up with him for 8 hours!

    On a lighter note, I recall a little man from India, wearing a yellow robe and all alone, curled up in the fetal position, muttering in a language unknown to me, and obviously terrified. I would have liked to comfort him, but I didn't know how.

    It takes all types of people....

    Lioness

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  26. That's one of the funniest stories I've read in a long time - well, I'm sure it wasn't funny to you, but your re-telling of it is quite humorous.

    I've never experienced anything quite like this. More often it's been obnoxious little kids climbing over the seat and shouting in my ears while mom and dad sat back thinking their little darlings were sooooo cute!

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  27. Oh my dear, that is just to funny. I have only been on one plane and that was last summer. I enjoyed it much...but maybe I will have more crazy experineces when I fly to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for my Ummrah next summer...

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  28. I've been lucky, most of my seatmates have been pretty "normal". The only time I felt slightly uncomfortable was on a red-eye flight from Dubai to Amman. I sat next to an older Palestinian man traveling with the family. His grandson was crawling all over the seats, including me. As soon as the grandfather realized I was American he started going on and on about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict & "I don't know why your government supports Israel"....I was dead tired, had already had to jump on this flight after missing a previous one, and all I could mumble was "I don't know why either". But then he quieted down after a while and said since I am traveling around the mid-east I should visit Israel regardless b/c "it's the most beautiful country in the world, I should know, it used to be my home".

    I gotta hand it to flight attendants everywhere. They work hard and deal with a lot of scum *no other words to describe some of the behavior of people I've seen*. I remember one poor British guy sitting behind me when flying into Bahrain was trying his best to ignore his drunken seatmate, a Bahrain national. When the guy wasn't busy trying to paw at our flight attendant (she was a very pretty girl), he was insisting on giving the British guy his phone # so he can show him how beautiful his country is. All this while I sat in front of them thanking God above that I was seated alone finally!

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  29. Hey Susie, the weirdest flight I ever took was a military bolivian flight to the jungle... The flight was delayed for hours, the plane sat on the tarmac in full sight of the people wanting to board it for hours, we were offered no explanation for the delay, but every once in awhile a mechanic would walk out of the shop with a manual or book... look inside the inards of the plane, scratch his head... throw some tools at this or that, and then look confused and sad. The military police who guarded the gate to the tarmac looked like they were 12, and probably couldnt have stopped me or anyone over 50 pounds from making it out onto the air strip, but they were entertaining with thier 1) napping on the job while trying to hold their big scary guns, 2) playfighting with each other using their big scary guns as light sabers "Star War's" style (sound effects and all) and 3)standing ridiculously rigid to try to make up for their other 2 behaviours when their superiors were around. When we finally did get to board the flight, we found out they overbooked the plane, because they asked two of our friends if they "minded" sitting... ON the LUGGAGE. Oy. Oh culture clash. It is amazing when and how the differences in standards becomes most obvious. I think air travel is one of those places where "the norm" is magnified...

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  30. Oh good grief! That's terrible! I've had only one very crabby person next to me but thank goodness that was it. Mohammed is almost like out of some bad movie. Are you sure that wasn't Borak?

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  31. that is bad!!
    that man was trying to advice..but he was not successful...what he sayed is not true..no one can tell anybody " you are going to hell"!! that man was so tight..
    you know.. some people don't know how to give an advice...

    I hope you don't think that all Muslims are like that...

    there are good and bad advisers..

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  32. This reminds me of a flight I took in Brazil, on the now extinct Varig. There was a 30 minute stopover in Sao Paolo during which a medical transport was loaded. Ongoing passengers were asked to stay on the plane. One of those ongoing passengers, a Canadian in Tilley hat and bush jacket, insisted on going into the terminal to visit the bar. When he returned, he was a little the worse for wear and began a loud speech about his good works: "I am the Mother Teresa of Brazil!" He also announced where he was from, and it happened to be my hometown. I slunk down behind the book I was reading and hoped none of my companions would bring it up....

    Lioness :)

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  33. This reminds me of a flight I took in Brazil, on the now extinct Varig. There was a 30 minute stopover in Sao Paolo during which a medical transport was loaded. Ongoing passengers were asked to stay on the plane. One of those ongoing passengers, a Canadian in Tilley hat and bush jacket, insisted on going into the terminal to visit the bar. When he returned, he was a little the worse for wear and began a loud speech about his good works: "I am the Mother Teresa of Brazil!" He also announced where he was from, and it happened to be my hometown. I slunk down behind the book I was reading and hoped none of my companions would bring it up....

    Lioness :)

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  34. Ooh Susie "you met one of those".Once I had to change roomate in college just because he doesn't like music..Music takes the stress away and I don't care what other people think of it.If it disturbs them I stay away ..Some religious folks think that they have the key to the heavens thinking that if you want to go there you should follow what they say ..That is just plane crazy and silly .To wrap up the story ,my roomate which he left me for the music I used to play and listen , one day I caught him singing .You just can't take music off normal people .

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  35. Ive lost count of the number of flights and irritating seatmates Ive had to endure...but one guy just made the long haul flight from Bahrain to London a misery. I thought I had the good fortune of being moved up to business class due to a error on their part so imagine my delight to leave the cattle section and settle down with plenty of room and no communal body odor or crying babies to deal with. There were only about 4 people in that area...so it was nice and quiet...UNTIL a drunk American cowboy type got on and settled down ordering another drink as soon as he could. He ordered and drank 3 drinks...complaining the whole time about everything...then mercifully dozed off (or went into an alcohol enduced coma...not sure). Just when we all gave a collective sigh of relief over the peace and quiet...Mr Drunk Cowboy started getting rid of all his pent up alcoholic gas...for the rest of the flight (7 hours?) we 3 unfortunate souls were forced to sit in noxious green gas fumes that never eased up. As soon as the smell started to go...he favored us with a new blast. Even the flight attendants were loathe to come into that section...quick dashes in and out and eating was out of the question. How can you possibly eat while smelling that?!! Ugh!!! Of course my big concern was that I was going to smell like that when I got off the plane...whew!!!

    I prefer communal body odor and crying babies lol.

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  36. Just read a very interesting novel in which the action occurs in Jeddah. Zoe Ferraris, "Finding Nouf." The author was once married to a Saudi & lived in Jeddah for almost a year. A murder mystery which also examines the implications of the veil for both men & women. Check out the author on her website under her name & maybe get her book.

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  37. Hi Susie,
    I'll be back with my airplane story--though yours is right up there with worst seat mates ever, and as usual Adam is very good at taking the high road--I just wanted to let you know I referenced you and both your blogs, and used one of your photos (with credit--it came up in my Google images search and was the best one!) on this post I just published at Tara Umm Omar's blog "Future Husband and Wives of Saudis":
    "The Marriage Permission Process: 'Is either of you a non-Saudi?'"
    http://taraummomar.blogspot.com/2009/09/marriage-permission-process-is-either.html

    Thanks for both the blogs! and the photos that conveniently come up on Google images! LOL :)

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  38. I think I would have been either incredibly angry and fought for my seat, or incredibly scared that I was in the air with a whack-job!

    WoW! What an experience!!
    xoxo

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  39. Hi Susie,I haven't flown anywhere in many years. After reading all this I'm not sure I want to!

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  40. Okay, airplane stories. Hmmm the old Royal Air Maroc flights with the smoking and non-smoking sections divided down the middle aisle, so the smoke was supposed to go to the midline of the plane and then head back whence it came. Not too too bad, sometimes the smoke was very obedient, but the flight that coincided with the Montreal international film festival featured a famous Moroccan director, his large waving cigars, and the giggling arm candy one on each side. Like his magnified self, his cigar smoke tended to fill the whole plane, and nary a word was said. He was too much of a loud performed to ignore, and to escape the smoke by burying oneself in a book.

    OR maybe the translatlantic flight with the lovely, slim, quiet, book-reading Indian lady beside me. She was accosted by a group of LOUD, ENTHUSIASTIC evangelical Americans on their way to India, who weren't satisfied that she spent her whole flight reading or trying to read her Bible, that she was raised a Christian, and had recommitted to Christ. They seemed to want to re-celebrate, re-convert, re-whatever, but loudly and so joyously I felt like a grinch wishing they would just go away.

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  41. Susie I love you! You have made me laugh so much! I am sorry, I am sure it was very ardous for you to have to deal with this gentleman. I had a flight to London with a gentleman that had extreme body ordor sitting next to me and when he fell asleep his head dropped on my shoulder. I was totally mortified and I pushed him away. It was the longest flight of my life. After deplaning he offered me his phone number.

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  42. My 1st thought is that he might have been a terrorist.

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  43. sad, funny but true. Quite an experience.

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  44. OK, since I have bored you with my in flight tales let me tell you about the one I took when I was 16 and so excited to be traveling on my own via bus.

    I got a window seat for the 12 hour journey and was glad. Until a scary looking fellow sat next to me and proceeded to spend the next 12 hours drinking, slobbering on me, talking to me with such a slur I could not understand and finally resting his head on my shoulder for his drunken stupor.

    How young and naive I was! In this day and age I would have reported his butt to the driver and switched seats pronto!!

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  45. He was getting out ofmy seat or I was getting a first class seat.

    I fly a a lot and I do fly to the ME. and everywhere you find great people and the ones like muhammed.

    The best thing to do is to have an attenant take care of it.

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  46. http://www.hijabshigh.com/

    I thought you'd like this link Susie.

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  47. Hi Everyone - and thanks for all of your comments. I am a little behind on addressing them, so please forgive me if I don't not reply to each and every one. Some of your experiences are hilarious.

    Hi Rawan - Don't worry - we know that all Muslims are not like that!

    Hi CoolRed - I've sat next to odorific people too - there's no escaping it!

    Hi Layla - Your comment really got to me. I don't understand the mentality of your biological mother, all I can say is thank God she didn't raise you! She is a hypocrite and obviously doesn't understand her religion. To not feel any compassion for her own child is not normal, not human. I'm sorry you had to experience that, but hopefully there are plenty of loving, more deserving people in your life who can fill your heart. My best wishes and warmest regards to you and I thank you for your comment.

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  48. Layla--your story is very moving. Your biological mother (consider her an egg donor, and a temporary uterine dwelling) is indeed a hypocrite and they unfortunately exist in all religions. The God/Yaweh/Allah of Abrahamic religions will judge her accordingly. Good thing for you she is literally Out of Africa. It's a big continent but even better to have her off of it.

    You indeed have been blessed with not having her as your social mother, and finding other loving people and communities in your life.

    All the best to you, and your loved ones.

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  49. oh man! What an awful experience. I've had several bad airplane experiences, but I have to say you are a kinder person than I am to have put up with what he was doing.

    I would have told my son to tell him that he should not talk to him or force his beliefs on him and that his "mother" said so. I would have also told the flight attendant what was going on and have him removed for not sitting in his seat and for being intolerably rude.

    I recently had to travel alone from America to Doha with my 3 children. This meant that one of mine (my eldest, 7) had to sit in the middle aisle by herself. It wasn't a big deal until some man decided to come sit right beside her. He could have sat a seat over, although I still wouldn't have been comfortable with that. I asked one of the flight attendants who that man was and if that was his seat and he went straight away and told the man that he could not sit by an underage child and to go back to his own seat. He moved. I was grateful.

    Next time, don't deal with it.

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  50. Outrageous....I'm kind of with Daisy, though and think that sometimes if you give someone an inch, they'll keep trying to take another and another. It may have been better for you to have said something to the flight attendant. It's a tough call, but I would have had a hard time not punching the guy after finding out what he said to Adam. I would have told him that Hell was having to sit next to him.

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