Imagine this: you’re loaded into a small white van, you and 5 friends, plus the driver. You’ve exited Doha, winding around roundabouts, whirling past compounds. You’ve reached the desert. With tires deflated (so they have more surface area to survive the sands), you start up a dune. The air is hot and slightly humid, the angle the van is taking punishing. You crest the dune, and start rushing down the other side, sometimes at a furious tilt, sometimes level. Unexpected bumps and tips, views of the Arabian Gulf open suddenly and snap closed to views of dunes stretching into forever.
The entire time, Akon plays in the background. I remember hearing Smack That, Right Now, and Don’t Matter as we bounced and jiggled our way to the beach tents where we spent the afternoon sunbathing and swimming.
I had to wonder what this US-Senegalese pop-star’s music meant to the surly Jordanian man who was driving us. Did he put it on for our benefit? I don’t think so, because when we asked to hear what he listened to on his own it took some prodding before he put on some traditional (read, non-pop) Jordanian music. He didn’t seem any happier listening to it than we did. Do Akon’s love songs strike a chord with him? They are romantic in the same vein as a lot of the Lebanese and Egyptian pop to which we listened. Has he had to fight to be with the person he loved? Or did he just like the beat, and ignore the lyrics (researching this post was the first time I had paid attention to the above song’s lyrics–before I had just danced to them)? I was curious and never found out.
Just another cultural experience I will need to continue evaluating.
(I didn’t embed the videos because I am still feeling the effects of being in a more conservative culture–I don’t really want feelingelephants to play host to the kinds of objectifying/hyper-sexualized/awkward images which make up Akon’s videos, no matter how much I like his beats).
Usually, when people get to the end of a chapter, they close the book and go to sleep. I deliberately write my books so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she must turn one more page. When people tell me I’ve kept them up all night, I feel like I’ve succeeded!