Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"You have face like Omani!"

In a government office the other day a woman wearing a gashwa (Emirati face veil with no slit for the eyes) was speaking to me in Arabic. Her accent was slightly Beduoin/Sharqiyah-ish so I had a hard time understanding. When she realized after we struggled a bit that I was English not Omani she explained to me I had a face "like Omani." Men often exclaim this, saying "You have face like Omani!" but I assumed this was a chance to talk to me, a foreign woman. But I suppose it is truly meant? If they indeed mean like the man pictured above, could be.

Only my nose is different, and I am paler: but he could be my 'more-outdoorsy' big brother???
I remember a taxi driver from Al Sharqiyah said to me "same, same, eyes, you/me." And I laughed because his next sentance was "we marry?"

There is a place in Sharquiyah (not naming it hehehe, because it is my personal vacation spot) where I fit right in other than my lack of a good Sharqiyah accent and fluency in Arabic. There: the women dress in cotten jalabiyia and warqiyah like I do-- of bright colours, and they look like me, talk to men without fear the same way I do on subjects that are halal for Muslims to contact one another with, dance modestly sometimes, swim in the wadis like I do.... It is really, along with the natural beauty there, a place where it seems I should have been born.

I never looked like anyone else in my family too much other than expression-wise, and the town where I grew up was unlike the wadi I dreamed of as a child, with emerald waters shaded by date palms, riding horses, chasing goats (did I mention that I have a natural affinity with camels and goats and donkeys LOL?-I do, mashaAllah;) ) and people whose values and ideas of God/Allah are similiar to my own.

We are Sunni [people in the willayat I am fond of], but not strict in the way of Saudi Arabia. We like to learn from other religious sects of our Islam and our friends who are Muslims are Muslims to us regardless their differences in practice from our own. Gender segregation exists situationally, not societially [I can make up words!]. Maybe I am idealizing. But I found my home in Oman. In a little village in Sharqiyah nearby a wadi somewhere;p.

Funny, it was always my little sister who looked Arab. She could pass as Saudi, all it took was a black shayla scarf wrapped just so. Me, I was always the "non-Muslim" looking one lol.

But sometimes I suppose, I "have face like Omani." At least some Omanis seem to think so.

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