The Rich, The Famous and Me



 I walked in, the low dim lighting filled my eyes, the serene music passed my ears and the smell of new carpet and peppermint crept into my nose.


“Now anyone under the age of 35 may hit on you. These people… well these people are not like us. You may come across some very right winged people, but I trust you will take it in stride,” my teacher warned as he prepared me for the private book launch event of the richest woman in the country and perhaps even in the world. I nodded as I clutched at my hijab making sure it was in place.


“Surname?” asked the immaculately dressed blonde, “Al Ubudy,” I replied. It was easy for her to find amongst the Smith’s Bartholumeouth’s and Edelstein’s. “Oh, you’re a V.I.P member,” she surprisingly said. I looked over at my teacher and giggled at her inability to hide her shock and awe at how someone like me managed to land a V.I.P seat.


As we walked in the waiter approached us, “light refreshments Miss?”, I looked at the tray and the offerings it had, of course there was your expensive wine, Champaign and sparkly. I opted for the orange juice, as did my teacher.  We found a quiet corner and stood there watching as the other half mingled and threw their heads back in laughter.


While talking with my teacher an elderly man walked towards us. His suite was no doubt a custom made Montagio, I can tell a fine cut suit from a mile away. His shoes polished to a t and his receding hairline was just as shiny as his grey slicked back hair. But it was the accessory on his arm that captured my attention.


A beautiful woman with her long brunette locks falling by her shoulders, her low cut black sheer dress flowed behind her as she politely smiled at me, her teeth beamed. “How are you young lady?” the old man greeted me, “fine, thank you Sir. How are you?”  I asked, “Oh you know same old, same old,” he said as he scanned me from head to toe. I nodded and fake smiled knowing he was probably wondering what I did for a living. He most likely thought I was either new money, married to a rich Saudi investor or inherited my father’s millions… I was none of which.


He continued talking and making jokes I didn’t understand, nonetheless I giggled and sipped my drink like a natural as if I knew exactly what he was talking about. The woman with him turned to me and complained about the pain she was feeling from her heels but she too glared at my long dress and Hijab, “they are worth it though. Aren’t they pretty?” she asked. I looked down and as a shoe lover I couldn’t deny the beauties that her perfectly pedicured toes squeezed into. “they are beautiful,” I said wondering how much they would have cost.  I reached for my Hijab adjusting it again, she flicked her hair away from her face and chest revealing her cleavage and oversized breasts, which probably cost more than my car I thought.


When we finally made it to our seats, the speeches commenced. I looked down at my table; three forks and a spoon were on my left and two knives and some other cutlery object that I hadn’t seen before which looked like a letter opener, was on my right. I suddenly felt like Jack Dawson in Titanic when he was dining with Rose Dewitt Bukater’s family not knowing where to start, “Start on the outside and work your way in,” I remembered. 


After the congratulatory speeches were done they served dinner, mine was barramundi with potatoes and veggies. I began to eat as I delicately made tiny incisions into my fish and ate silently with my mouth closed. I so desperately just wanted to use my fingers to get rid of the bones; ‘I’m Arab for God’s and who eats fish with no Lebanese bread?’ I thought to myself. At the end the waiter came around offering the choice of red or white wine, he reached my end. But he wasn’t one of them, all it took was one glance at me before he smirked and said, ‘would you like me to top up your juice?’  I agreed. After dinner, the richest woman in Australia was introduced… as the richest woman in Australia, as if we could forget it.


Gina Rinehart took to the stage and began her speech. She spoke about her father’s legacy and what she thinks the government should do to un-tap the untapped potential that was available in Northern Australia. She spoke about the mining industry and how it saved Australia from feeling the wrath of the Global Financial Crisis and how hard people in the mining industry work. After her speech and standing ovation the floor was opened to questions. As an Arab woman who never misses an opportunity to speak her mind, I raised my hand. A woman handed me the microphone and I stood.


At that moment I remembered Jack again when he was trying to be like them dressed up in his suit and practicing his greetings. I knew they all thought I was one of them, someone how I had made my millions, somehow I was privileged enough to be amongst their prescience. “Hello my name is Widyan Al Ubudy. I have two questions. First, what advice would you give to a young migrant who wants to add value to Australian society and secondly, do you think there is room for migrant women in the mining industry?” I gave myself away.


I sat down as the room remained silent I could feel them starring at me. I listened to Gina’s response, but in the back of my head I knew that they knew and realised I wasn’t one of them nor did I want to be.


At the networking session after dinner, while I lined up to get my book signed by Gina a man approached me and began talking about his work in the mining industry. “So you want to consider a future in the mining ha?”, “No Sir, I don’t have any desire what so ever to consider a future in mining,” I responded. “Well it pays well. Hard work but it’s worth it. I make 30 million dollars a month! What do you do?” I almost choked on my drink, “Well Sir I certainly don’t make 30 million a month. I make just over $3000 a month. I’m a public servant and a writer,” his smile somewhat deteriorated after that revelation and so did too the conversation.


After the event I kept thinking “do these people realise that their money won’t be taken with them in their grave?”, I think they knew but didn’t care. As Coco Chanel once said, “There are the rich, then there are the wealthy.” I was definitely the wealthy. Wealthy in Iman.


Widyan Al ubudy. 


As published on MuslimVillage 

~ by widyanalubudy on January 5, 2013.

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