Hi! I'm back again after several days break. I've been busy at work, and have promised myself that I will get a life and avoid using the computer at home. It's enough that I spend 8 hours a day working on it. I'll try to work on my blog during lunch break at work. I've taken up reading again (I used to read 3 or 4 pages a day before I went to bed at night due to my hectic schedule. Now I'm trying to make it 30 per day). There are so many good books out there. If I don't read at least 30 pages a day, imagine how much I'm going to miss out on in the world! Life is too short.
Hey, remember my post on April 27 about the witches who put a curse on a guy over the water spring? Well, the guy is STILL IN HIDING! People still think he's dead. Eek. I tried to get more information out of my colleagues but no such luck.
So, back to my topic for today, more marriage! It's the season in Salalah, since everyone gets married during June, July and August. So, the gossip these days is all about weddings. Before I start, I wish to inform you that 'no' I do not escape work very often to get coffee, but today I had to because I felt caffeine-deprived, and I cannot touch instant coffee. So, at around 11:30 this morning I decided to slip out of the office and drive over to Brownies (our one and only cafe) to pick up a double espresso to bring back to work. On my way out of Brownies, clutching my caffeine treasure, I heard someone calling me. I turned and it took me a few moments to recognize the face. It was Mohanned (name changed), a guy I knew very well in college. In fact, we were best friends for a while and used to play crossword puzzles together during a very very boring class (in fact, it was so boring that I can't even remember the subject). I haven't seen him for over four years. He left college early to go finish his studies in Lebanon, while I continued abroad. He couldn't handle the cold weather. We stayed in touch by text messages and email, but never actually met face to face again, until today. In Other countries, it's easy to have male friends from Oman because we all stick together and help each other out. In Salalah, it's different. After a few minutes of exchanging news, I noticed how tired he looks. I asked him if he was stressed. He confessed that he is getting married in three weeks. He was beginning to feel that marriage is more of a nightmare than blessing. The girl he is marrying is a distant cousin and a complete stranger. He has never met her before, and has never spoken to her. He has a vague idea of what she looks like. Furthermore, her family asked for a dowry of 10,000 Omani Rials. In addition to that, he has to provide a suite for them (he built a room, kitchen, living room, and bathroom suite next to his family's house), as well as her gold. He is also in charge of arranging the whole wedding (down to the very last flower). He has to purchase six cows for the wedding (each cow costs 400 Rials at least) to feed the hundreds of guests. The list of duties gets longer and longer. He was exhausted, depressed, and hadn't slept for weeks. He ended the conversation by saying 'If she doesn't appreciate all that I've done for her, I'm moving to Japan!", and we both walked back to our cars and said goodbye. I felt so bad for him. I know that this is what most young men go through when they get married in Salalah. They have to provide everything and go to great trouble to prepare for marriage. This is why many young people are choosing not to get married. They can't afford it (i.e. they can't afford a traditional wedding), and it's too risky because they don't want to marry someone they don't know, and end up with a girl they cannot love. I don't know how this situation is going to be resolved. Someone has to take the first step and break out of these useless traditions. It's so unfair. The only thing a girl has to do is receive her dowry, buy clothes and shoes and bags, and slather herself in lotions and whitening creams. Simple as that. Even if a girl works, the guy still has to buy everything for her, and she's not allowed to help with the wedding. Furthermore, everyone here seems to be in debt, so the family cannot support the young men with their weddings. Poor Mohanned; I wonder what he feels. Imagine the anticipation of starting a new life in 20 days with a person you don't know, don't love, and having to share the same bed with a complete stranger on your wedding night. It's AWFUL.
Guys, what do you think? Would you marry a girl you don't know? Do you agree with such traditions? What do guys want anyway?