The last drink service is about an hour before landing. Some thirty minutes after that flight attendants roll their carts down the aisles to collect all alcoholic beverages, whether the passenger nursing the drink is deplaning or not. We’re reminded that booze is strictly forbidden in the Saudi Kingdom. Even on planes that sit on runways for about forty minutes.
A few rows ahead of me, a woman dressed in jeans and a Gap sweatshirt gets up to go to the restroom after surrendering her half-finished glass of red wine. She returns a few minutes later wearing a dark, long, flowing abaya with an equally stylish shayla wrapped around and fully concealing her long black hair.
On the return midnight flight, I was already dozing as we approached the Saudi capital, just thirty minutes after leaving Doha. An attendant nudged me gently and pointed to the seatback pocket in front of me.
“Are there any pictures of women in lingerie or bathing suits in there?”
I had no idea what she was talking about and don’t recall ever being asked such a question.
She pointed again, but this time poked a finger at my mangled copy of the Herald Tribune. Those too, she told me, are forbidden in the Kingdom. Even in transit.
I honestly can’t answer. “I don’t think so, but I don’t really know.”
She took the newspaper and stowed in the overhead compartment.
“Just in case,” she said. “You can read it later.”
redhead 03, originally uploaded by pirano.