I thought I'd be full of ideas and things to write about during the monsoon, but no such luck. I've been feeling quite blank lately (and busy), and figure I shouldn't waste my time on the computer. Salalah is as it always is during monsoon season; crowded, muddy, and in party-mode. Picnics and camping trips are in, everyone's out at their tents (see post below) during the afternoons and evenings, no one is in the mood for working or studying; but sadly we all have to make a living. It had stopped raining for three days, and I was beginning to get worried, but thank goodness this morning sure enough there was rain and I could use my windshield wipers again!
I visited the Salalah Festival last week and was quite impressed. It's definitely better (if only a little bit) than last year. I'm not a festival person and don't like crowded places, so it's a wonder I even went! I watched traditional dancing in the old village, drank fresh pomegranate juice in a traditional Omani style tent-turned-restaurant, visited friends working at the different booths and stalls, and last but not least I visited the photography exhibition! Finally something decent! 15 very talented Dhofari photographers (sadly all male) with 4-6 photographs each. I guess I was blown away by the photographs of faces. Some guys captured wrinkles and eyes so well. In the past, photography exhibitions usually were about scenery, scenery, and more landscapes, but this year I've noticed unique photography styles and subjects. I was intrigued by a photograph of a spider, and a lotus, and the doors were amazing too. Lots of wonderful black and white shots. I recognized several names of local photographers and am really proud of our talent here in Dhofar. I wish more women would participate.
I heard rumors that there were 35 weddings in Salalah on Thursday. No kidding. Didn't I tell you it was wedding season?
We have an odd tradition in Salalah of weddings payments. When a young man gets married, he pays for his house, the dowry, the cows, the wedding, etc, etc. It can sometimes be very very costly. However, we have a great social system where all the men who go to weddings will put a certain amount in a box at the wedding to support the groom. Usually it's 20 Rials for distant relatives and more if you're close to the guy. It all works out very well in the end. If a guy spends 20,000 OMR on his wedding, he may very well receive 14,000 OMR back on the wedding day just from tribal donations.
HOWEVER, what happens if a man has to attend five or six weddings every week during the monsoon? He's paying 100-200 Rials a week on weddings? A man has to pay because people are expected to pay if his sons get married. So, usually, monsoon is crisis time because of all the weddings. This doesn't even include paying for his wive(s) and daughters to get dressed/dolled up for the wedding (dress, gold, henna, makeup, hair, etc, etc - see post below 'Father of the Tail and Dish Detergent').
You see, life can be a blessing and a crisis. Why do all people decide to get married during the same two months?
Welcome to Salalah.
PS (This photo was taken near Zaik, in the mountains)