Friday, June 24, 2011

Cultural Tidbits

*We're entering our first full summer of living in the desert. As the temperatures soar and energy levels plummet, I've been amused with some of my cultural observations lately*

-You know you live in the middle east when you stop by a restaurant for a plate of hummus to-go, and eat it in the car just as you would fries and a shake in the States!

-According to one of my teachers, the best treatment for a baby's stuffy nose? A little olive oil spread on the outside of the baby's nose. This home remedy was also her treatment for baby's constipation.

Only not on the outside of the nose, *cough, cough,* if you know what I mean.

-According to another teacher, the reason her son is in desperate need of a tonsillectomy? He occassionally eats ice cream.

True story.

-On that same note, it is somewhat maddening to see people drinking HOT tea when it is 115 degrees outside. But they truly believe that you must drink only things that are hot when it is hot out, otherwise you will get sick.

-A common phrase here is Insh-Allah (God Willing,) and they use it to literally mean "God willing," or to slip out of making a commitment. Ask if someone will be visiting you soon? You'll most definitely be answered with Insh-Allah. Leaves you wondering if they mean it literally (as in yes! I want to come and will come as long as it is in the will of God!) or if they are saying it to avoid firming up plans, (as in, crap! I really don't want to hang out with this crazy Westerner!)

-One of our male teachers, who happens to be one of Ian's good friends, just found out that he and his wife are expecting.

And when I say "Just," I mean, he was talking with Ian while he was buying the pregnancy test for his wife, got off the phone to purchase, take home, and use, then called Ian right back to let him know the joyous news.

Ian and some of the guys were going to have a celebratory dinner with him at a restaurant, but the teacher called to say a cow had been slaughtered in their honor (naturally,) and that the feast would be at his house.


On a more serious note, I'm so happy for this couple! They suspected infertility issues which is devastating in any culture, but here it might be worse. Societal pressure and family expectations begin only several months after marriage. The blame is placed on a woman if a baby is lost and no matter who has the infertility (the husband or the wife,) the wife is blamed.

-We finished our first full year of language school! Ian scored amazingly well and is at the top of his class. So proud of him. I'm still chugging away, making up for lost time during the end of my pregnancy and maternity leave. I probably only have one more week of lessons before I am officially caught up, but I will take classes all through July to fill in some language gaps. I have made alot of progress though, and I feel like I am alot better at communicating in Arabic!

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