Today is the day before Eid so some of the members of my family fasted. I did not have to fast since my host brothers did not (and I think my host father’s father did not as well). Midmorning we had a snack of fresh dates and Omani coffee (a typical Omani snack). The first time I tried Omani coffee (my first week in Oman) I did not like its slightly watery taste, but it has started to grow on me. It balances the sweetness of the dates and actually tastes pretty good.
Since people were fasting we did not do too much during the day (and my host father had to drive to a different city to pick up a dress from the tailor for his sister and my host mother went to visit her parents in a nearby town). We hung out in the living room and the TV played a station which showed what was going on during the Hajj. I met two of my host father’s brothers (he has 14 siblings!!) and we sat around and talked for the morning. Or they talked– I tried to understand as much Arabic as I could.
At lunch time we had degag (chicken) cooked in a tomato sauce served on arooz (rice). It was very tasty! In Omani culture, however, it is polite to keep offering a guest more food, so I had to keep saying “Ana Shobana” (I’m full) repeatedly after taking a bite until I was allowed to stop eating.
I played Uno and some other games with my host brothers and read a bit. Many people took a nap after like (like a siesta; this is typical in Oman). Then IT STARTED TO RAIN! Normally I hate rain, but I was so excited! It’s so rare for it to rain in Oman! I ran to the door and I stood with my host father’s mother and we looked at the rain. I realized I slightly missed rain and the nice smell it brings and especially the cooler air.
In the evening some of my host father’s brothers and their wives came over and I started losing track of who is who. Anytime I am with a bunch of family members, I start to feel lost and like an outsider as most only speak Arabic and I do not know any of them, while they are all familiar with each other. I decided, however, not to run away to my room and to instead face my fear and sit there all evening. I did not understand most of the conversations, but occasionally my host mother would tell me what was going on. I also talked to a few people who spoke a bit of English and found a way to ask in Arabic to my host father’s father where his carpets were from and what type of sweets were in a bag next to him. No the awkwardness did not go away for me but I am hoping in that future family gatherings will become less awkward for me once I learn more Arabic and get to know the different people. I really like my host father’s parents; they are very kind and are teaching me different words in Arabic.
The two girls my age that I hung out with yesterday came back later in the evening (my host father drove them to a tailor 3 hours away to pick up some clothes for Eid). They came back and I learned of the drama that happened with the tailor: when they arrived there the clothes were not ready and they had to wait a few hours. When the clothes were finally ready, they were not the designs that the girls had ordered: he made something from the top of his head. In return, they told me that they took the clothes and refused to pay him. They were pretty upset with the outfits and were talking about selling them. The good news is that they have backup outfits that are new; hamduhlillah!
I also sat with my host mother and another woman (I forgot how she is related) and watched as they made Mandazi and Khaliat Nahal (see recipes under recipe category here: http://kidsmeetingpoint.com/magazine-home-2/oman/recipes).
The rest of the evening continued as we sat in different areas and talked (or they talked, I listened) and later, ate dinner. There was still at points gender divisions (women in one room and men in another) but at some points (I suppose because they are a family) we all sat in one room. Interestingly, everyone kept their hair covered (they did so as well yesterday). This is different from in my host family’s home, where the women do not cover their hair. I think my host father’s parents are more conservative so women cover their hair as there are men (though family, they are not necessarily by blood as they married into the family) in the same area.
Eid is tomorrow; ahhh!