By Jayne Amelia Larson
WeNews guest author
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Jayne Amelia Larson was the only woman among over 40 people hired to drive the Saudi royal family vacationing in Beverly Hills. In this excerpt from her book, "Driving the Saudis," she provides a snapshot of the culture sharing.
Credit: Asim Bharwani/modenadude on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
(WOMENSENEWS)--One of the first royal women I was assigned to drive was Fahima, a cousin of Princess Zaahira. She was a well-preserved woman in her 50s, with a strong jaw line, deep-set penetrating eyes and shoulder-length, perfectly blown-out hair that looked as if it was a helmet. Fahima was always impeccably dressed in chic but conservative clothing with acres of expensive jewelry.
Chauffeurs aren't supposed to ask questions, in fact can be fired for doing so, but she usually tolerated my inquisitiveness with measured graciousness. She was multilingual, worldly and well traveled, and surprisingly patient with my questions as I chauffeured her around the city, usually to get the British cigarettes she smoked, which are available only in specialty tobacconist shops.
She was a heavy smoker, as were many of the other Saudis in this group--even some of the young women chain-smoked--and carried her own Faberge portable ashtray in her purse. The Saudis regularly depleted much of the supply in Beverly Hills, so we often had to travel to Westwood or Santa Monica for her preferred choice of nicotine fix.
Fahima didn't hide the fact that she felt vas