Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Life Behind the Veil
By Jeanette Der Bedrosian
Photo by Jasmin Bauomy
The girls left our villa in groups this morning, walking down the street filled with cookie cutter McMansion villas distinguished only by a small gold number next to each front door. Passing by the cafeteria house and the pool, we squinted our eyes and waded through the heat to approach the first villa.
It is at this villa that we have to tell a cluster of women where we are going, and get permission to leave. We sign out, initial our name, and receive a laminated “hall pass” of sorts to present to the guard. One woman, whose scarf rests around her neck rather than tightly around her hair, asks us if we want umbrellas to deal with the heat. We decline.
Before leaving, a woman asks us if we had all signed out and takes a head count.
The gates are at least ten feet high with sharp spokes sticking out as if to provide one last warning to any intruders. The guard sits resting at the window, waiting for women to hand him the pass before they are allowed to leave. He collects our passes and opens the gate just enough for us to slip through before pushing the button to slide it shut again.
We step on to the bus to the cheers of the men. We are out of supervision until we return tonight.