Yes, We Are All Wearing The Same Dress…

This weekend I was lucky enough to experience what it’s like to sit on a bus for three hours while thirty of your closest female relatives sing non-stop in Swahili while dressed in their sparkly-est wedding attire. And of course banging on drums the whole time

I know, you’re so jealous.  Well to give some background information, we were going to a family wedding in the interior of Oman, in the Dachliya region (which translates to “of the inside”) in a village called Adahm. Since it was so far away we all went together on the tour bus of an aunt’s husband. Aside from the Swahili and the fact that most people were over 30 it had roughly the same atmosphere as a party bus on its way to prom.  The other main difference was that after about two and a half hours of driving we pulled off the road in front of a seemingly random house and then all filed inside as our spontaneous hosts set about distributing prayer rugs to all of the women so that they could complete their evening prayers.

I personally thought the wedding was interesting because it was much less fancier than the “city” weddings I’ve been to in Muscat and I was really able to see the difference between the people that live in the capital and those that live in the villages or in other parts of Oman –particularly the difference in clothing since almost all the village women were dressed in plain black abayas whereas my relatives were fully decked out in traditional, jeweled Omani dresses.

The vast majority of my experience with Omanis has been with people that live and work in Muscat and it took me awhile to realize that not all people live like the people in the city do. And that the whole country doesn’t subsist on KFC outlets, traffic and giant shopping malls next to giant mosques. My host family, extended family included, is very exposed to the outside world and I guess you could say cosmopolitan. They follow fashion trends, watch Hollywood and Bollywood movies and talk about traveling the world. They also talk about “the village” as this other world, one that is much more conservative, closed off and in their eyes, boring.

And I understand where they’re coming from – the village is interesting to me mostly because I don’t spend time there or have any previous exposure to it and I can imagine that it can get old fairly quickly. . But as an outsider it was fascinating to see the striking differences between the “villagers” and the “city-dwellers” if only for a few hours at the wedding.

But getting back to the title of this blog post – the next day, Saturday, we went to a luncheon at my aunt’s house (in Muscat) in honor of the same wedding and for some reason that I still don’t really understand almost every person there was wearing the same dress. Personally it felt like a bit of a mean trick because right when I start being able to get all of my numerous relatives straight they go ahead and all wear the exact same outfit! How am I possibly supposed to tell extended family apart if I could barely even find my own host mom out of the see of pink and yellow prints?!

Some of the food from lunch!

Some of the food from lunch!

I came to terms with it though when a cousin offered me an extra dress to put on. Not only was it exponentially more comfortable than what I had been wearing before (absolutely nothing can beat loose-fitting cotton housedresses) but also it was kind of fun to be matching with approximately sixty other women. And when I walked out of the bathroom from changing I walked straight into a photo-shoot of some of my other cousins, which delayed me from getting to the food for a good ten minutes.

Some cousins and I modeling our group outfit :) I'm on the right.

Some cousins and I modeling our group outfit 🙂 I’m on the right.

Me and my host sister, Zuwaina

Me and my host sister, Zuwaina

It was also cute to see how although everyone was wearing the same dress, each person had accessorized it or tied their hijab in their own way to show off their personal style. And I’m extremely excited to now have my very own housedress. Hopefully the people in my dorm next year won’t have a problem with it!

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