So, in the humid dank auditorium, and in the management’s wisdom, we were tutored to ensure we learnt, and had the ability to, recognise each mother or female by, what was classed as normal practices, in this rural small Arabian town. Given a list to digest, a gasp and sharp intake of breath moved through the auditorium like a Mexican wave. Frowns, raised eyebrows and rolling of eyes were visible all around me but to my amazement management just glossed over our astonishment. Queries and comments were ignored and basically we were told to “get in with it”.
Dismissively, we were given our comprehensive list of recommended ways of recognising the covered women at our classroom doors. It was seriously recommended that we learn the sound of each mothers voice and then we were given a list of other helpful additions to observe, take note of and recognise.....rings, brooches, jewellery, shoes, handbags and even the decoration on their veils or abaya. It was even suggested that we recognise the way they walk. Scared, flabbergasted and in a state of shock, I really didn't digest much more of that induction, as, I am sure did no one else. These practices were to haunt me every day of my teaching life in Arabia. I never did feel comfortable and was always terrified I would let a child go home with the wrong person.