Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Girls and Boys

I have unfiltered access to any aspect of Omani society that I inquire about via my host mother, who is South African. She married an Omani man, and they are a really cute couple.
I asked about dating habits among Omani youth and got some scary answers. When trying to date or get to know someone, both genders will cruise a certain street (Shara Hb-Street of Love.) They will Bluetooth their numbers to strangers coming by. This is based solely on physical attraction. This will lead to secret rendezvous where he will take her to some dark and secluded place for them to talk and possibly other things. I imagine this is not the safest way to engage in dating. To ratchet up the danger level: sometime he will tailgate her if she is driving, run her off the road, dash out and hand his number, then return to traffic. Two rules apply: can’t be seen in public, and she must be a virgin when she gets married, but there is still high amounts of intercourse going on. (The response to the look on my face at the moment of this telling, was “yes they do that instead.”) Generally someone won’t marry a girl he has “dated.” This is all because of the infatuation with the west. The “cool” kids are the one who act American. Graffiti on the wall outside my neighborhood says “Tupac, 50 Cent and Eminem.” However they think the Americans cruise girls all day and engage in random acts of “intimacy” every weekend. The repression on folks here is nasty, and becomes really dangerous that they are doing all these things without anyone having a clue where they are as they snuck out. I asked what happens when this generation comes of the age of influence and power. The response “Allah help us.”
Doug was a former American student here. Doug has blond haired, blued, quintessential American. Doug was also really shy. He spent a few hours at Starbucks one weekend using their free internet. He came home and said “I didn’t look or say anything…” and proceeded to dump out 22 slips of paper with phone numbers of girls who had dropped them on his table as they breezed by. The story gets better when he takes a ride from a friendly bus driver, who happened to have the girls high school route that day. Same sort of situation, but secretly passed so the driver couldn’t see.

I am fine, and into a routine. Arabic classes are great, the hour long break I use to go to the beach is better. People are nice here, and I am less on edge. It’s still a walking society and I even seen too many things to photograph, but have been perusing book stores to see what other folks have shot of Oman. Turns out I need a car to go anywhere cool. This weekend however I am heading camping so we shall see. I will finally be able to put my wide angle lens to good use.

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