Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Compliments and Arab life

In foreign countries, I seem to be known for my baby face! In another country, I always got my cheeks pinched. Here, I have been asked what facial moisturizer I use and if you can get it here. (I have also been told my hair is a "camp" multiple times by a hairstylist here, still not sure what that means.)

My language teacher has called my face a "garden" before. I always thought she was talking about my crazy hair. But today I got the reason for it! There is this green floral shirt I wear that she really likes on me, and says that it bring out the color of my lips and just works...therefore my face is as pretty as a garden, (Obviously, right!?!) This is the shirt below, although, I wear a long sleeve shirt underneath it here, but I don't have a picture of that.

So, since she was complimenting me, I told her that "Fustanik hilwe" your dress is beautiful. {Tangent: Arabic is a difficult language to master, but very convenient, see above, what takes 4 English words can be said in Arabic in 2 words! There are several phrases like this. For indirect and direct object you just add an additional suffix instead of another word, this is nice, but just another thing to have to learn} And this was a new dress or at least one, that I had never seen her wear and it was "mov" (mauve) her favorite color. She liked that I liked her dress and said that it was the color her husband like the most on her.

Well, about 15 minutes later, her dress gets caught in her chair, and an about an inch of eyelet material is ripped....and I AM BLAMED! Because I complemented her dress, then something had to be done, so I would not covet! That is the jest, anyway. Here it is always good to stay away from complimenting someone about a material possession, because then that obligates them to give it to you, or means that now, something bad will happen to them or to that material item. BUT, I thought that since I had already been complimented on my garden face, only minutes before, I could complement her dress. I thought that my language teacher was more Western and had moved past that tradition. And maybe she has, but she still took advantage of the opportunity to blame me in a joking way, for the rip in "Fustan hilwe" (beautiful dress).

Other notes from class today on life here:

My teacher is very jumpy around loud noises. Which can be attributed to the fact that most of her life she has lived through harab (war). And this is the reason she has stomach ulcers. She was very sick (could have been anxiety caused by the war, or just a stomach bug/virus) during the war, when medical help was harder to come by. So she went untreated and without medicine for such a long time, that she has now developed ulcers.

She also does not like the Call to Prayer here, that is broadcast from the mosques five times a day. I have not heard Nationals say that they don't like the Call to Prayer before. Foreigners either think it is beautiful, or become annoyed by it, or have a very hard time with it because of the beliefs it represents. But to have my covered language teacher tell me that it gives her chills, I was very surprised. When she explained though, I remembered, that the call also goes off during a funeral. So she also links the Call to all the people she knows that have passed away. Something that I had not thought about before.

Karaoke...Arab Style

Thursday night, the young professionals' club had a "social event," K A R A O K E! It said it started at 9. So being on Arab time, I left my house at 9, and walked the 10 minutes to the cafe. And of course the actually karaoke did not start till 10:30. But it was still a fun time. I had some "wing girls" come with me, that are not a part of the club. I have learned that I need to work on my small talk game. It was nice to have the girls with me to help with small talk, prove that yes, this poor foreign girl does have other friends, and of course to help me carry a tune! It was fun!

I was a little nervous about not being able to Karaoke, because I can't read Arabic fast enough to sing with it. But looking through the books of songs before we started, they had half-n-half English/Arabic, which was a comfort. And then it hit me, I really only know Ch and Country music enough to sing along with it! So, we looked and found 2 songs that I could sing: "That Don't Impress Me Much!" by Shania Twain, (listen to this song if you have it, it is very true about the men here, if I might add) and "Tim McGraw" by Taylor Swift. LHUMDILILLA (thanks be to God), my roommate sang with me on both of these, and the mic volume was low. We left the party at 12AM though, so I didn't get the worse voice award! Interestingly, only the chorus of one song was in Arabic, the majority of the songs were in English, with maybe a-third of the songs were in French!

So, I introduced the scene to my country music! I knew most of the English songs, some well enough to sing along to like "How To Save A Life," but there were a couple that I didn't really know.

Karaoke, Yes! A Success, and I think I could do it again someday! No one was all that great, but everyone sings along with you anyway. And now the ice is broken with the group, and we have things to tease each other about, which always helps in the small talk game! So a good night all around!

Friday, April 17, 2009

A day without weird looks!

So today (it must be in honor of my dad's 50th birthday), I did not get any weird looks from strangers. Sounds like something odd to celebrate right? But I am so excited! I picked up some manache (fresh bread with cheese or spices)and a donut for a friend today. I ordered all in Arabic, and they understood me! It scared me that they did not have to repeat what I ordered, and I crossed my fingers that I had communicated correctly. And I got what I ordered! LHUMDILILLA! (thanks to God)

Then I bought bananas and clementine oranges from a street vendor's cart, which was a first, but I needed fruit and he was on my way home from school. I got 1/4 of a kilo (just over 1/2 LB) of each, and you know what? He didn't give me a second look either, but got me exactly what I asked for LHUMDILILLIA, again!

Going Native! Three months of language are paying off!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Ideas and Random Thoughts Come All At Once

So after 2 weeks of not knowing what to update you, I thought of some things today to share, forgive the randomness: Mosquitoes, Driving, and Strawberries!

I take after my mom, in that mosquitoes love me! And mosquito season started about 3 weeks ago here. They are worse at night, so I have this "zapper," aka Glade Plugin that supposedly keeps mosquitoes at bay, while I sleep. But it has not been doing as good of a job as I would like, so I am sleeping with long sleeves, now, so that the bites are contained to my wrists and face. But if I forget and stick a foot out of the comforter, I wake up to bites the next morning on my feet! I whelp up bad from mosquito bites, and looking at my wrists, I know I have had some of these bumps for over two weeks!

So you know our house, has bad airflow, right? So if air can't get in, how can mosquitoes? Great question! During the day, we have to air out the house. And I was determined that they came in during the day, just to haunt us at night, but I am thinking their brains are too small to think ahead like that. We have lots of windows and doors, and if you forget and leave a window cracked after sunset, then its over, we will have mosquitoes all night!

In fact, as I write this I have had to get us twice to chase this big one that is teasing me!

Everyone says that traffic and driving overseas is crazy and dangerous. And well, my country is no exception. I have gotten so used to walking in front of traffic to cross the street that I am scared to show my parents around here, cause I know my mom is going to yell at me for crossing the street with traffic coming, but that is normal here.

Today, in a taxi, I was thinking of how boring driving in America is. You follow all the rules, and obey all the signs. Coming back from a retreat in the mountains, I was with 3 national college guys, and the driver told me that I should bring some American policemen over, because of all the crazy drivers here. I agreed, but said I did not think it would help any. And, no lie, less than 2 minutes later, what did the driver do? He ran a red light! There are not many lights here, cause what is the point, if no one obeys them, but still we got honked at by the opposing traffic. The rest of the guys in the car gave him a hard time, so this was obviously not an acceptable running of a red light. He just did not see the light; which considering how few there are here, could you blame him for not noticing? If the American policemen that he wanted, were here, he would have gotten a big ticket! Can't have it all, right?

Angel food cake, strawberries, and cool whip is my favorite dessert, ever! And today, I bought strawberries for $1 here. I have never gotten them for so cheap in the States! There are almost overripe, but I am not going to complain...just gotta eat them faster. No cake or cool whip, but still, very good!

Oh, and yes, I do soak my fruits and vegetables in a bleach water bath before I enjoy them. (inside joke: I am just washing the strawberries!)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Village Pictures!

Can I make up for the lack of recent posts, with some good pictures from the trip to the village? I sure hope so! Enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Post, Finally!

I know there are so many things you would like me to update you on, I just can't think of what they would be. Unfortunately, I have hit the point here that I no longer laugh out loud seeing people feather dusting their cars. It seems common to walk in front of cars in the street here, and to be honked at numerous times by taxi drivers wanting to know if you need a ride. I love my country, but unfortunately it has lost it "newness" if you know what I mean. I have turned down food, cigarettes, and arguile countless times... I have the whole "la, shukran" (no, thank you) while putting my hand on my heart thing down.

I am very defensive of Oklahoma, but I have to say that for a state larger than this country. This country may have more to offer. Here we have the sea, and the mountains! We have snow and rain. We have modern urban city, and rural nomads. It is truly a diverse land!

I still can't wait to show off the country. Everyday, I find somewhere new that I want to take my family or friends when they visit. Know that you are welcome anytime!

Below are pictures from my most recent retreat in the mountains.