A recent trip overseas introduced me to a whole new culture very far from the one I have engrossed my self in. For security reasons I cannot disclose where I went but it was a Muslim country with some very strict rules, which of course I abided by. Prior to my departure I had to learn a lot about local customs and culture as not to offend anyone and not to draw unwanted attention to my self.
It was very hot out there and I had to remain covered at all times just like the girls out there, this I was not looking forward too. I am always modest in the summer normally a vest (not the strappy kind and ¾ length jeans is about summery as I get but out there in 41 degree heat I was expected to wear long baggy trousers and long sleeve tops, I had no choice and didn’t argue it just meant my company had to let me go out on a spending spree which was nice!
But it wasn’t as bad as I thought, the heat was horrific but I did not sweat, it was odd, even with everything covered and a long pashmena to top it off it was good.
As expected the women were totally covered, some you could not even see their eyes, there was such a deprivation of colour. The men were all dressed in white Didhdasha (long floor length robe) with gahfiyah and Gutra (head dress) which looked wonderfully cool.
They all looked comfortable in what they wore but in the back of my mind I was thinking how many chose and how many were forced to wear it.
Some times when I wake up in the morning and see by big red puffy face the bags under my eyes and the once small wrinkles I had slowly deepening I wish I had the option to hide my face, but surly not every day?
But I wasn’t there for a cultural learning experience I was there to work and sadly did not get to see much apart from the journey to work and the hotel after work. During my time there I rarely saw any working locals they were all like me not from these parts, a lot of Indians, Bangladesh and Philippians and theses were the only locals I interacted with, who were of course were not covered head to toe and were displaying signs of their own faith.
I had one night prior to departure were I ventured in to a local shopping mall (of course with my work college), this was a experience. Plenty of locals here, lots of normal boring western shops. Mc Donald’s absolutely everywhere. The mall turned in to a food hall with lots of Fruit, then fish, then meat hanging by their rear legs with the head still on rapped in a bag, a bit disturbing, as the heads are not normally on display at home. Live chickens balding with no beaks squashed in to a cage with the cockerel strutting around signing his song at every opportunity. Enough to make you go vegetarian.
We wondered more into town into a covered market, were we were pestered in to coming in to shops and buying a nice scarf, it was ok as I already had one I didn’t bother. Some fantastic dresses were on sale here the sort that are worn under the Abayaya, long, still modest and romantic. Some simple some had fantastic embroidery. I was tempted to buy one to add to my multi cultural wardrobe, but as I was not haggled I assumed non-Muslim girl buying Muslim dress was a big no no, but no harm admiring these amassing garments.
This place was a far cry to the colourful world that I have engrossed my self in it was strange and alien but I enjoyed my time all the same
I had fun saree spotting at the airport!
A occasion for wearing a saree is presenting its self tonight at the theatre and I don’t know if I can do it. My diet is ongoing and I don’t feel slimmer, just feel softer. I fear that the gorgeous Organza saree I have will miss out on another opportunity for a first outing. Will try it on when I get home and decide then… There is always the back one! Black is very slimming on me!