Friday, December 12, 2008

Eid in Oman

So this was my second Eid in Oman. The first Eid, back in October, I went to Hasna's village Shariq. And for this Eid, we took the interns to Dhabab to spend a traditional Eid with Nasser's family.

Shariq was a very small village, but all the people were so nice and so excited to see us there! They wanted to share everything with us. Hasna had helped me pick out a "jalabya" (an elaborate dress that shows no curves whatsoever) for Eid prior to our departure. Hasna's family is Swahili-Omani meaning that at some point, her family went over to Zanzibar (an island off of Tanzania) and came back many years later. Her family speaks both Swahili & Arabic. So the food served during Eid was both traditional Omani and Zanzibari. We traveled from house to house wishing everyone "Eid Mubarak" and being served snacks & Arabic coffee. The next day, the Bedouins came to visit and have lunch with us. Hasna referred to them as "our Bedouins" because they live on the outskirts of the village and though they live in the Emirates now, they come back to Shariq every Eid. Seeing the Bedouins & Hasna's family together in a room was quite interesting because you could see and feel the cultural difference just between the two parties (forget that Susy & I were ever there)! The Bedouins were wearing such beautiful jalabiya with jewels and the best fabric, their faces were painted with elaborate make up - foundation to make them extremely pale, thick eyeliner & pink lips. Some of them were had a faded tattoo on their chins & others wore the "barqa" which is the black mask over the top half of their faces. After some time of awkward silence, they started asking Hasna questions about Susy & I and I started asking Hasna questions about them. Before we knew it, they were giving Susy & I Bedouin makeovers! They were surprised to find out Susy & I were not married at our ages and I was more surprised to find out that not only were they married, but some of them also had children and were only 18, 19, 20 years old! It was definitely a unique and amazing experience I am sure I will never have again.

Eid in Dhabab was different. It was more traditional and we did not have to travel to so many houses eating food at every stop (if you are not seen eating, it is considered rude). When we arrived, they were in the process of cutting up the goat meat. The head was laying by a tree with the skin still attached. One of the men picked up the head with the skin dragging behind to show us and we all squealed like girls. They thought it was hilarious. Then a small child walked buy carrying the goat's severed leg - probably the weirdest thing I had seen in a while. The men had us cut some goat meat, stir the pot full of goat pieces & shoot guns. Omanis love to shoot rifles in the air during Eid. Next we had lunch with an assortment of food - chicken-rice stuff, almond paste, baklava, cookies, halwa and more. After lunch, the women and men split up. The girls and I went and sat in the "majlis" (an area for entertaining) on the floor with hard pillows lining the walls. There were Omani women & girls coming in and out saying "asalaam aleykum" and "kifhalish" and always my response was "wa aleykum asalaam" and "hamdallah". They really seemed to like this! Perhaps because they were shocked that I can speak a little Arabic or more likely, my accent in doing so was very entertaining. One of the girls made henna for all 5 of us, which was a great experience for our interns since they had never had henna before! They were so excited about it. The remainder of our time in Dhabab was spent playing with babies (wearing cute little dishdasha & kuma!), eating, napping and chatting amongst ourselves. It may sound a bit boring, but that is just how Eid is - a time to spend with family, catching up, eating, enjoying the company. And that's just what we did. We are like a family here. The interns & MC all live together in one giant villa. We see each other everyday, we hang out together, eat together, go on trips together - we are an unconventional family of various nationalities.

We had to say goodbye to Susy this night as she returned to Colombia. I have lived with her for the last 11 months and it was hard to say goodbye. At times, we were the only two girls here. Brett will be leaving in two weeks as well. We welcomed Brett's replacement, Carlos from Colombia and we begin transition on Saturday.

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