Saudi Arabia: Can’t People Detect the Smile?


My immune system is presently compromised.  I am unable to easily fight off infections and highly susceptible to germs or viruses.  As a result I wear a mask when I leave my residence…which nowadays is just to the hospital where I receive daily injections to give my bone marrow much needed boosters.  I am finding that people are more wary of a person wearing a medical mask than wearing a niqab.

I’m by nature a gregarious person who enjoys the company of others.  I have no difficulty to give a smile of welcome.  Smiling was something I had to learn to curtail in Saudi Arabia where a simple smile could be misperceived.  However in North Carolina most people do smile.  Now that I havr to wear the mask people can not see that I am smiling in spite of the medical challenges.  I look at an oncoming person and find that most tend to avert their gaze down to the ground when they see I am wearing a mask.  Can they not detect there is a smile behind the mask?

It is also a natural instinct I think to look down when passing a woman wearing the niqab.  In her case she has chosen to cover her face and thereby silently states she wants her privacy protected.  Yet I have also noticed how expressive women who wear a niqab can be with their eyes.  I guess years of practice make a difference.  Or perhaps when random folks see a mask they do not bother to look at the eyes.  I guess next time I go out I’ll draw a smiley face on the outer side of my mask.

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