Women in fundamentalist Islamic countries are disappeared by their men, buried alive and swathed in black shrouds like mummies. Driven through Riyadh on the Friday I arrived, I saw no women in the streets anywhere. The Muslim holy day had turned the capital into a city of men....
Under the abaya, and behind the wooden screens and separate rooms in restaurants where women were relegated, even at McDonald's, I began to shrink into a passive, cowed creature, a second-class human in a world of men.
When I went to the coffee shop in our hotel with CNN
's Christiane Amanpour, and the waiter instructed us to go to a back room segregated for women and children, I meekly began to follow orders.
Christiane never looked up from her newspaper.
"Bugger off and bring us our coffee," she barked at the waiter. He knew the voice of authority when he heard it and scuttled off.
Garbo was very peasanty, very literal, very earthy and very funny. I would bump into her in Klosters every morning while out shopping. I once inquired what she bought and she said she bought pullovers. What, every day? Yes, yes, only pullovers. But how many do you have? I asked. And with a note of pride in her voice she told me, "I have every pullover the Swiss make."
-- Gore Vidal(1925- ) in an interview with John Preston, in the U.K. Telegraph, 3 December 2006