This semester has begun, and as enlightening as it's going to be, it's also going to be quite stressful and difficult. Possibly the most difficult of all my semesters in grad school so far. I'm still thoroughly excited, though!
There's something about friendships and good friends (and I suspect also ourselves as individuals and our ability to be good friends) that makes it difficult for us to keep too many good friends around for too long. As we grow older and as we mature and become wiser, we learn slowly who our real friends are, something that comes with learning more about ourselves as individuals. Some of us never figure out who we are, what we want, what kind of people we are most comfortable around, or how to be good friends; others among us are luckier and straighten their lives and their selves out fairly well and quickly.
None of the following observations are intended to generalize about Oman or Ibri or to at all suggest anything negative about Omanis. Every society has similar ridiculousness (if anything, I think some Pakistanis and other South Asians can be really ridiculous in their ideas about women when as well - and just other things, like "Running disturbs the jinnat and the earth, and God will punish you for running on the Day of Judgment" - I KNOW!), so let's not jump to any unfair conclusions about an entire population that I'm sure is more diverse than they appear in Ibri (they don't seem diverse in Ibri, though, according to my experiences). Common unfair generalizations are mentioned below not because I think only Omanis generalize about other people and groups but just because I find all generalizations to always be ridiculous.
Still, the below is simply to share some funny things I've come across in Ibri. I wouldn't suggest reading more into them. Thanks.
Pre-post:I actually wrote this on July 25th (while I was in Oman), and it was triggered by the harassment we girls were facing each time we'd walk around - men whistling at us, trying to talk to us, stopping their cars to ask us to get in their cars with them, blowing kisses towards us, staring at us (OH MY GOD!!), and so on. But as I started talking about harassment, I went on to talk about patriarchy and feminism and what an enemy patriarchy is of not just women but men as well, I realized that if CLS or Oman comes across this post, it could be interpreted as an attack on Oman or Omani society. That's not what I was doing, but since I got in trouble previously for talking about my experience with an Omani family's maid and what hell she goes through and then I criticized the servanthood system in Oman, I almost got expelled from the program. One of the many lessons I learned from that was to never, ever, ever, EVER say anything negative about Oman, Omani society, Omani people, Omani culture, Omani religion, Ibadhis, or something that could even be interpreted as negative. So while harassment is a problem everywhere, and I wasn't focusing on Oman in the post below, I had to postpone publishing this post until I was safely back in the U.S.
God bless freed of speech. God bless America for letting me blog about whatever I want. Freedom of speech and expression should not be a privilege, but unfortunately it is. Long live all freedoms!
I've too much to say right now, but I have other things to do at the moment, so I'll just say this briefly: a woman's worst enemy is patriarchy. Actually, a man's worst enemy is patriarchy, too. Below is a meme that explains it much better than I can, but I'll write about this myself more in a few weeks and will explain what has triggered this statement that we need to get rid of patriarchy asap. I'll give you a hint: harassment, men thinking that public spaces belong to them only and hence when a woman shares them with them, they think they have a right to stare at her, whistle at her, blow kisses towards her, touch her, grope her, call out to her, talk to her, and so on. Women being taught that they're "like precious pearls" and so therefore must cover up their bodies because their bodies belong only to their husbands, "not to all other men"! Do men's bodies belong to everyone and that's hwy they don't have to cover up, that's why they're not taught the same thing? Besides, I don't wanna be a "precious pearl"; I prefer being a human being with a mind and body of my own. Men, too, are human beings. No human, no gender is delicate by nature - we're all decliCATED when we're consistently taught through our lives that "you can't do this because you're incapable of doing it" and so on. Words are powerful, as are the messages that such harmful thinking sends women and men, girls and boys - and everyone in between.
I'm obsessed with the different styles of houses around the world. Humans are pretty intelligent and practical. I've posted before about Omani houses (the current style, especially of upper class / richer Omanis who have benefited immensely from the oil discovery), although now that I think about it, I think that post may be currently under "drafts." Long story as to why I did that, but I'll post it back once I'm back in the U.S. Four more days for that to happen, inshaAllah!
I've also previously blogged about what traditional Pukhtun/Pashtun houses look like. As you probably know by now, unless you're a new reader of mine from my time in Oman, I'm Pukhtun (also known as Pashtun), and I hope that's obvious from this blog, but in case it's not, now you know. Grin.
As you all know, I've been in Oman for the past 2 months studying Arabic - and I'm returning to the U.S. in about 2 weeks, inshaAllah. Generally speaking, I've had a fairly good time, and I know I'm going to miss it. I'm glad I got to spend all of Ramadhan and Eid here, and I've learned some fascinating things about the culture and society and people here.
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm blessed with three precious niblings--two nephews and a niece. They're pieces of my heart, and the happiness and joy that have come to my world and to my life because of them have been such that I cannot describe them in words. I've tried many times and have failed. When my first nephew was a baby, I used to write love poems for him. I stopped as my feelings grew deeper and deeper for him. For Kashmala, I haven't been able to write anything at all. For the littlest one, same - nothing. They're so beautiful, they're so blessed, they're such a joy. They bring noor to every home they occupy, especially my parents', and without them, we might as well not exist.
May God grant these three little creatures full, healthy, and happy lives that are blessed with excitement (good excitement), love, and peace. May they all grow into beautiful people (revolutionaries) who will bring positive change into the lives and communities they come across. May they give back to this world in (positively) memorable ways. Aameen.
So it just occurred to me that I could actually write letters to these itty bitty creatures that they could actually read later on, especially when they face some hardship and need a reminder that they matter, that they are loved, that they are someone's life. Since it's Kashmala's birthday--and since I'm prolly just being biased because she lives with my family, so is closest to me physically--we'll start with her.
I started reading And the Mountains Echoed by the talented Khaled Hosseini over a month ago, and I just finished it yesterday. A good novel, a good book takes me less than four days to finish - this one took forever because I was not hooked to it. But I was also not going to abandon it in the middle. I still wanted to know what happens in the bigger, main story.
The highlight of not just our time in Musandam but also of this whole summer was today, Friday, July 18th, when I, a new swimmer and not yet excellent, decided to jump off the boat into the Gulf of Oman.