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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 47, Wednesday - Muscat

Today was my last day at the office and I will miss these girls very much! Everyone here has been taking such good care of me and I hope that they will come to Seattle someday soon so that I can show them my home just like they have shown me theirs. I have discovered that I am not very good at good-bye’s but I think that is because I assume that I will see everyone again. Here are a few more pictures of us, just for fun:

Marwa’s mother had invited me over for lunch so we left work around 2pm and headed to their family home. Her mom cooked a bunch of great food and, once again, I was called upon to try everything, and, once again, it was all delicious.

In front of Marwa's family's house

After lunch, I got a little tour including the backyard where Marwa had had her engagement party. Her brothers also have a dog, chocolate lab I think, which is how I discovered Marwa is terrified of big dogs. She said he looked mean, I thought he looked friendly, but then again, I did grow up in America where dogs are considered “man’s best friend.” He is still a young dog, maybe a year old, which meant he had tons of energy and was jumping all around, and I can see how that would be scary, but it seems, from personal experience, that a lot of people in other cultures do not particularly like dogs.

I think it probably has to do with interactions with untamed dogs which tend to be dirty and can be aggressive when it comes to food. Many people seem to feel the same way about cats as well, which I generally see here looking for food in garbage cans. Just a different perspective born out of different context. I don’t trust untamed dogs either.

All too soon it was back to the university so that I could finish packing before Hannan came to take me back to the Al-Kiyumi house.

In the evening, Hanna, Shetha, Abeer, and I went to a gathering of women of the family. They tried to kind of explain how some of the women were related and I joked that I needed to see a family tree to understand it and they said that not even that would help. There is a real sense of closeness even between more distant relatives here and the families are so big that if anyone gets sick or has a baby, you are sure to have constant visitors for a month.
My henna has also been quite the conversation starter.
I got chatting with several of the women about my trip as well as some aspects of American culture, including whether or not all Americans view Middle Easterners as terrorist. They are concerned about how the rest of the world views them because they feel that the whole of the area has been unjustifiably stereotyped due to the extremism of a few. They are aware of what we see on the news and are worried that we, in the US, do not get to see them for the people they truly are. I told them that that is one of the reasons I am writing this blog, to give people a more normal perspective of life here. They seemed intrigued by the idea.

They seem surprised and want to know where I got it done.
One of the women invited me to visit her company on Friday, a telecommunications company called Nawras, to see at least one idea of corporate culture in Oman. She also promised me an ATV ride over the sand-dunes in the city.

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