Tariq Stories

My host brother Tariq is three years old and he’s been mentioned on here a few times before but I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some of his more amusing and unusual antics. For some background, as the youngest of five kids and as the only boy he is literally the king of the house and gets what he wants, when he wants it. He is also one of the cutest kids I’ve ever met, even though he is somehow perpetually sticky and dusty.

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            He often likes to talk about going to school with me or one of my sisters but because I’m the last one to leave in the morning he has occasionally realized that I am his last chance and so tried extra hard to get on the bus with me. I’m usually able to distract him long enough for us to pull away but one morning he did manage to jump on the bus, in his pajamas, with no shoes, and demanded to be taken to school. It took Muhammad and me a few minutes to convince him to get down and go back inside to watch Tom & Jerry on TV.

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One morning during my first week in Oman, when I spoke about five words of Arabic, Tariq and I were hanging out in the kitchen. Everyone had already left so it was just us and in an effort to help me out Tariq started taking all of the drinks out of the fridge and lining them up on the table. He then tried to teach me the names for every one, from juice to milk to Mountain Dew (that one is just Dew in an Arabic accent). I guess one of the unique parts of a host family is having the chance to learn Arabic from a three year old.

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Tariq’s absolute favorite place in the whole world is the dukan or corner store that contains any and all chocolate and is understandably a three year olds paradise. Our corner store however isn’t actually right on the corner and is about a five minute walk away. One day when I was out with my sisters and dad we got a call from the storeowner. Guess who had just sauntered in, pajamas, dusty feet and all? Yup, Tariq. And of course he was given a free candy bar and sent home with one of the neighbors.

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This kid is ridiculously messy and looking at his clothes is like looking at a menu of what he’s eaten that day (hint, its usually candy) but one of my favorite ways for him to make a mess is by drinking soda. But he doesn’t just drink the soda out of a cup. No, he prefers to take a spoon (the one time we use them!) and carefully ladle it into his mouth. Most of it ends up on his shirt but watching him try is adorable. I think I only find it funny because I don’t have to clean it up but regardless its hilarious, and very sticky.

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As two people who are still learning Arabic, Tariq and I have some hilarious conversations. I was once trying to do my homework when he came up to me insisting that he had to tell me something. After I finally relented and paid attention to him he informed me that he knew what my sister Zakiya and I were up to. He pointed to the window and said that he knew we went out with harami (criminals or bad people, coming from the Arabic word haram or forbidden, particularly in Islam) at night and that we should really behave better. For some reason the fact that he then told me that all harami live in the moon didn’t make me take him any more seriously.

 

I could go on forever with stories about Tariq but I’ll restrain myself for now. Instead here are some other completely adorable photos of him doing what he does best – being the cutest, messiest three year old I know. I can only hope that he will remember me when I come back to visit in the future!!

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Ali and the Cat

Over the past few months we have been working on a project with our Language Partners and let me just that besides getting my host sister to listen to country music it is one of my proudest achievements since coming to Oman. We have written and produced a children’s picture book, entirely in Arabic and with pretty fantastic illustrations.

It was a long process since we had to first map out the story in English and then spend whole class periods figuring out how to construct one to two sentences, with just the right form of a certain verb and a noun that had the correct connotations, all while making it child and student friendly (we had to make sure that both us and potential children audiences would be able to understand.)

The finished product is a short story about an Omani boy who loses the cat his mom gave to him for his birthday. He goes out in search for it and visits many famous places in Oman and meets animals native to Oman who help him with his search.

Besides the incredible and suspenseful story line my favorite part is the illustrations. My friend Anna drew the characters and we then placed them on top of our own photos from the locations mentioned in the story that we have taken over the year. The overall affect is really cool and hopefully I’ll get around to translating it into English!

We had the books printed out and we then took them to the Royal Hospital to read to long-term patients in the pediatric ward. It was so fun to share all of our hard work with kids that understood it and actually got a lot out of it. And hopefully found our pronunciation struggles somewhat funny.

Here are some pictures from our story!

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