Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ramadan - Month of Fasting Begins


Ramadan, the muslim month of fasting between sunrise and sunset has commenced. The shops are chock full of additional foods, cooking vessels and so on in anticipation of the huge feasting that occurs after dark. Here's a shot of one of our local stores showing the additional isle space ... only a small part of the total.

No food or drink, even water, is to be taken during the daylight hours. Needless to say, we Westerners have secluded rooms at work where we have lunch, coffee and drink water. And in our houses of course we can do what we like. Sex is not allowed during daylight hours either, but I expect much happens that nobody else knows about.

Our teaching hours are reduced by 10 minutes so we work a 6h day at the college. Many of the students arrive tired and restless after feasting all night. This lasts for a whole month.

The worst thing is that when you go shopping, you can't drop into Starbucks or Gloria Jeans and have a nice coffee ... they aren't open. All part of the local cultural experience.



Friday, September 08, 2006

Travels in Oman - Niswah's Pottery


During the weekend 1-2 September 06 we travelled with a group to Niswah and Jebel Shams (Mountain Shams) in Oman. We had a delightful weekend and the Omanis are such friendly people. They approach you in the street and welcome you to Oman or shake your hand and say 'hello'.

If they can't speak English, they either give you a friendly smile, a wave or say something in Arabic, usually 'salam alaykom' (peace be with you) or 'al humdelallah' (praise be to Allah). Both are common greetings, especially the latter which, under varying circumstances might mean, 'Praise be to Allah because I've met you, or you opened the door etc.' Of course, whatever happens is an effect of which Allah is always the cause.

Many of the young kids speak English very well and are delighted to show you how competent they are by asking you questions about yourself and where you come from.

It's lovely to interact with them and to feel so genuinely welcome. I took the photo in the Craft Souk (market) at Niswah where we stayed overnight on our first night. We have dozens more photos of the towns, mud-brick ruins, our colleagues, houses built into rock and so on to add to our growing collection.

Every best wish