Friday, June 13, 2014

It's still hot in Oman.

Abayas come in dif styles. This is one. Black in Oman
Previously in my Oman Journals series, I wrote about how hot Oman is. It's really like nothing I've ever seen or felt before in my life. Not that I've seen that many places, but still. So I forgot to note two things about the heat: I went on a run with another CLS-er and a classmate a couple of mornings ago, and we decided to leave early in the morning when women generally run. Because women gyms are a rarity here (if not completely an impossibility?) and women also don't typically run or exercise here ... I don't think most men here do, either, but the males at CLS have been given gym membership to the men's gym. So the women who do run and all do so very early in the morning when Ibri is asleep. And also, CLS has advised us to follow this country's rules of modesty and dress codes for males and females, so since women apparently run in abayas (the long full body covering that doesn't cover the face) and all, we were asked not to run in tights/shorts and to try to wear abayas as well. Many of the girls in the program want to try on abayas, and we have plans to buy a couple of them here, but we haven't had a chance yet. So I have something similar to an abaya but not quite an abaya, and I decided to run in that. Changed my mind later when the other two girls I was running with didn't have abayas on, though.

Okay, anyway, the point is that I tried to run, right, so within ten minutes of our run, I start feeling light-headed. I'd drunk lots of water before that, knowing that it'd be difficult to run in Omani heat, but I didn't think it'd be THAT bad at 5:45am. Mind you, it was 5:45-ish, and it felt like it was 8am or something. But no sun at the time. And so I go running and then within ten mins, I'm like, okay, I need to take a break. Taking a break didn't help; drinking lots and lots more water wasn't helping, either. I had to come back home and sleep till ten mins before the bus came (8am). 

It's crazy! I mean, c'mon. It's hot and all, but seriously. Good God.

Then we had a short tour in the area where our institute is, where there's also this four-hundred something years old castle that was recently renovated.  It was a less than one hour tour, but two of us weren't able to continue halfway through.

A friend of mine who's been here before says the heat her would melt the rubber soles of her shoes. That hasn't happened to any of us (yet?), but I can totally see that happening.

But fortunately, we *might* be getting some rain this weekend (weekend in Oman, as in some other (all? most?) Arab countries, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, is Friday and Saturday). In fact, some areas are supposed to be getting a hurricane, and Ibri might get it, too. I'll keep y'all posted.

All right, more on the weather and other things soon.

Stay cool, humans.


  1. If y'all can, ask your host family to recommend a tailor and get it tailor made so it will fit you the best and be the right length and all. Something I remember is that Omanis think it is tacky for the bottom or your pants to be sticking our from your was a change for me bc in the US I had abaya wearing friends who wore jeans that would stick out from the bottom, and it is common (or at least was common at that time, though now somehow Gulf styles are more entrenched in PK "religious" wear) to see shalwar painchas on the bottom of PK women's abayas. In the Gulf this is supposedly tacky, and once in a store, a Zanzibari teenager pointed and laughed at me when she could see the bottom of my pants...she was like some teenage cool mean girl, and I'd say that is not normal behavior for Omanis to be rude to your face...but anyway, a tailor and guidance from your host family will get you the most "normal" looking abaya, bc the cuts and fashion change and you guys will think you blend in, but your abaya will make you stick out without realizing it. You could go for a super cheapo abaya for 5-10 riyals, but better to go for something like 20-30+ that will last and be made of recommended summer fabric and all...oh, yes, I had a point to the floor length abaya, like it is so dusty on the ground that your abaya gets filthy on the bottom and even sweeps dirt on your sandaled feet. So you may even want two abayas so one will be clean while you wash the other. Rain sounds awesome. It rarely rained when I was in Oman, but when it rained, it flooded and my house flooded bc it was in a waadi that only filled up every few years. Can you tell us about your host family? (If you haven't already, I am not through reading all your posts. Oh, also, once you are more familiar with the local Arabic, can you report one what is specific about Ibri-Dhaahira do they say jeem as geem like Muscatis? How is their qaaf? Is it crisp, or do they make it a geem like Omanis closer to the UAE border and in some other regions? What words stand out to you as very 'Omani' that you have noted? Also, in Ibri ammiya what word do they use for "what" (aish, waish, muu, shu, something else???)? Do they say kayf haalish or haalitch to females? Just curious, once your ears have settled in, may I request you make a post or posts about the dialect? Hmmm, one other question, in terms of Omanis, what are the different communities in Ibri? Like in Muscat you have quite a lot of different ethnic groups (Zanzibaari, Balooshi, Lawaati, Zidjaali, etc) but I wonder if smaller places like Ibri are more homogenous or if there are other types of diversity...also what is your impression on sect dynamics specifically in Ibri...are most people Ibaadhi, does everyone go to the same mosques or is it Sunni mosques vs Ibaadhi mosques? What about Shi'a communities? Have people asked you your sect or commented on how you place your hands when you pray? How about women and mosques?

    1. Sorry I'm replying to this so late, Fatima!

      I've thought about getting it tailor-made, and in our 3amiya classes, we learn how to go to a tailor and have our clothes or abayas made and all, but I've also discovered some great ready-made abayas at Lulu and other markets around here. That seems a little cheaper and more convenient, and since I'll be wearing the abaya just during Ramadhan, I'm thinking to go for the ready-made/cheap ones.

      I'm not so concerned with standing out. That happens regardless of what I wear, LOL. Mainly because I'm usually walking with at least one other person from the program, and they're all very visibly foreign.

      I'm definitely going to write about my host family. I've been meaning to, and I haven't had the time. We're visiting them every other weekend, so this weekend, we're gonna be with them. This time around, my host parents and two host siblings who have been on vacation for the past month or so will be back so there'll be more things to write about as well, inshaAllah.

      And I'm also going to write about the dialect! There are so many fascinating things to note about the dialect here. But to answer your question: They say "haalish" here to females, "haalak" to males. Geem instead of Jeem. They say qaaf for qaaf, not geem like Shami men (in Jordan, they told us that "women say alif instead of qaaaf and men say GEEM for qaaf because ggggg is more masculine than aaaa, which is more soft and cute and stuff, LOL).

      They say "moo" for what. I still say "esh" or "sh" because I can't get rid of my Shaami influences, and plus, moo sounds so weird to me at this point, lol. But soon!

      I'm not yet sure about what groups or communities are present in Ibri or even the rest of Oman. Zanzibar keeps popping up in conversations, what with Oman's historical ties to it and all, but I haven't met many Omanis around let alone anyone who might be a Zanzibari. I'll write about that, too, when I come across them, iA. BUT I'm almost certain, from my conversations with Omanis so far, most Ibri-waals are definitely Omani; it's a small city after all.

      It looks like most are Ibadhi here, but the program cautioned us against talking about religion or sects with them because they've historically had serious issues with sectarianism, so they don't like talking about it. BUT occasionally in my class, a conversation about Ibadhis or Sunnis and Shias will be come up. I'll try to bring it up with my speaking partner and hear what she has to say about this. But they're definitely mostly Ibadhis. Our teachers talk about how tolerant Oman and Omanis are of different sects and different religions and religious traditions, although I'm not sure how it is in practice yet.

      I haven't been to a mosque here yet, since women don't go, but they've told me that women can go for taraweeh. There's a mosque right next to our apartment, and I intend to go during Ramadhan. I'll let you know how it goes then.


Dare to opine :)

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