I was fortunately invited to attend a Saudi banquet in honor of two physician administrators one coming and the other going. Here are some observations. The invitation was for evening dinner. This means come over after the last prayer – about 9PM. You sit in areas cooled by outdoor fans.
Once you are seated there’s not too much movement and social mingling. No women – not even the female medical colleagues. And if there were women, they would have to mingle in a separate area. The pool setting with seating all around. And it was hot so you needed the fans.
You sit and talk with the fellow next to you and you’re out of luck if it’s someone who’s not conversational. This polite conversation goes on for about 2½ hours. Everyone who arrives after you comes around and shakes hands and then drifts off to sit in an empty spot. I suppose the next time I will know this and pick my partner a bit more carefully. And I think that I will make it a point to move around anyway. Little cans of soda and a bottle of water at each place setting. There were a few cans of diet Coke. No alcohol allowed.
Dinner was buffet style but we changed seats to a formal table setting. Everyone ate quickly like they were famished. I certainly was hungry since I didn’t know dinner would be served at nearly midnight. After 30 minutes everyone started to say goodbye and quickly departed. I am told this is the style. So my observations are based on this experience and the questions I asked afterwards.The buffet line loaded with too many interesting choices.
….of course I ate too much.
There are spiky urchins aplenty on the reef. Less common are the pencil urchins, obviously named because their spikes are the diameter of pencils. I almost passed this collector urchin except that my flashlight picked up the brilliant color. Later the book showed and named it for me. Yes, they pick up debris and cover themselves, hence the name, collector. As I said I thought it was plant not animal the first time I looked.