My Top Five – Senses Version

This is officially my last blog post in Oman. My flight is tomorrow evening but today is the last time I will have Internet while in the country. In commemoration I’ve made a list of the top five things I will miss for each sense. There are so many more things I will miss than just these and many of them I can’t even put into words. It was fun to make this list and think about all the little things that I don’t always notice but now wish that I had paid more attention to. I hope you enjoy a few of the more sensory!

SONY DSC

Sight

  • The ocean view from my classroom
  • Huge mountains rising up from nowhere and surrounded on all sides by desert
  • The Grand Mosque (or really any mosque) lit up at night
  • Street signs in English and Arabic
  • Men managing to look positively regal while wearing long white dresses

Sound

  • The idhan, or call to prayer that happens five times a day
  • The honk of the bus outside my house every morning
  • Arabic, English and Swahili intermingling in conversation on a daily basis
  • The laughter of my friends every lunchtime
  • My siblings shouting, fighting and laughing throughout the house, even when I’m trying to study

Smell

  • Bukhoor, or the traditional incense that can be found in any home and has soaked into all my clothes
  • Barbecue smoke on the beach
  • Lingering Arabic perfume in the bathroom letting you know that it has been recently occupied
  • Cardamom milk tea boiling on the stove
  •  The air freshener that goes off every thirty minutes at AMIDEAST

Taste

  • Dates and Omani coffee served in a tiny ceramic cup
  • Freshly made chapatti and other breads such as mandazi and chaliat nahal
  • The “Omani sandwich” with spreadable cheese, Chips Oman and hot sauce
  • Banana smoothies from the coffee shop that cost less than $1
  • Freshly cut green mangoes eaten with salt

Touch

  • The feeling of my abaya being blown by the breeze
  • Getting a warm, sweaty hug from the air every time I step outside
  • Finally getting home and being able to untie my hijab
  • Hand shakes with everyone in a room upon entry
  • The sticky aftermath of a tray of dates
Advertisements

Omani Dress 101

As part of our Women’s Studies class we took a trip on Sunday to the Centre for Omani Dress, which works to preserve and document all the different traditional dresses of Oman. They are in the process of creating a full-fledged museum but we were able to see part of their extensive collection.

The clothes they have are great representations of the diversity present in Oman, which due to it’s long history and multitude of ethnic groups has several different types of dress that have been common in the past and are still worn today. Some of the styles are specific to a certain tribe or reflect influences from overseas, for example from India or Tanzania.

Men:

The official dress of Oman for men is the dishdasha, a floor-length robe that is typically white but can be found in any color of the rainbow. It is worn with a kumah, an embroidered cap, or a massar, an embroidered cloth wrapped around the head. The massar is usually considered to be more formal but both are very common.

Women:

Most women that you see on the street wear abayas, a long black robe that comes in an infinite amount of styles. There are ones that open in the front, ones with buttons, ones that are closed, and beyond that they can be decorated with almost anything from simple black stitching to sparkly cheetah print stripes. This is always accompanied by a shayla or headscarf.

On special occasions, specifically weddings, women tend to go all out and get very dressed up. There are almost always sparkles and bright colors involved. Being here I have seen the strict fashion rules about matching colors and prints that we have in the U.S. go completely out the window in place of a celebration of color, pattern and design. I can tell you, even though the dress is much more conservative, this way is more fun!