Saturday, June 6, 2009

Father of the Tail and Dish Detergent

Good Morning Everyone! It’s Saturday, the day I usually dread merely because my alarm clock goes off at 6. By 7 o’clock, I’m past the sulking stage and ready to tackle the day ahead.

How was my weekend? Ahh….. The Wedding.

So, you see, weddings in Salalah drive me crazy. On Wednesday I told you that one of my cousins was getting married. Each female who ‘attends’ the wedding is called a ‘Hadra’ (attender). Hadra means you gotta paint yourself white (we’re talking electric white here) then buy heavy oil paints and a thick paintbrush and start plastering your eyelids with Picasso-style colors. You then cover your eyebrows in wax and paint a new set of eyebrows two inches above your real ones. You also manage to double the size of your lips somehow. To top it all off, a blonde wig will do. (by the way, I’m serious). Finally, you put on your heavy black velvet thobe bodhail (Father of the Tail Dress) with heavy embroidery and tons of glitter, and 2 pounds of heavy jewelry. You end up looking like an uglier version of Marilyn Manson (and you thought HE was ugly? Come to Salalah!).

Do I sound like I’m sulking? Well, I am. I had to wake up at 5 a.m on Thursday, head to the ‘salon’ by 6:30, so a nosy woman could interrogate me about my life for FIVE HOURS while she turned my sister and I into Marilyn Mansons. We then rushed back to the house (yes, I was driving with all the makeup on. Don’t ask me about the stares), and while my sister was getting dressed, I plunked myself down in front of CNN to watch Obama’s speech to the Muslim world. I wasn’t going to miss it. Not for a wedding, that’s for sure. So, I sat in front of the TV for 54 glorious minutes before the wig lady arrived! Yes, we have a ‘wig’ lady who comes to pin on the blonde wigs. No, I did not wear a wig, but my sister did because she doesn’t have the patience to spend two more hours at the hair salon creating perfect curls and ringlets. I’ll get back to the speech later. Finally, we’re both ready to go. Checklist:

- Ugly makeup (check)
- Wig (check)
- Velvet father of the tail (check)
- Blue contacts (check)
- 3 pounds of jewelry (check)
- Six inch heels (check)
- Car keys (check)

Ok, we’re set. Both of us hop into the car (my mother had been threatening to kill us if we were late). We stop by my uncle’s house to pick up two of my cousins. More Marilyn Mansons pile into my car. We get to the wedding (groom’s family’s house), and are immediately told to get up and start dancing Tabal (dig diggee dig diggee dig diggee …), so my sister and I did without cracking up. We sat down and another couple of girls got up to dance. This went on until 6 p.m when we were finally fed dry rice and dead cow (forgive me for phrasing it that way, but that’s how I feel about it). At midnight the bride was brought in to be stared at (after everyone was sick of staring at one another). They set her up on her marriage bed in her velvet thobe and makeup (worse than mine) and wig. Three hundred ladies went in to stare at her. She sat looking blankly at the wall without moving (tradition). Finally, everyone went home. End of wedding. The groom finally came in at 2 o’clock in the morning.

However, it wasn’t the end for us. The process of removing the makeup and hair and everything takes at least an hour and a half. The only way to remove Salalah makeup is dish detergent. Yes, dish s.o.a.p. You slather your face with dish soap then you get stainless steel or a thick sponge and a spoon and start scraping it off. The eyes take extra long because it hurts to scrap your eyes with a spoon. You end up looking like a tomato but your skin is clean. We finally collapsed into bed at 4:30 a.m. I spent all day Friday recovering.

Ok, back to Obama’s speech. I love it. I was close to tears several times but managed to control myself (because of the makeup). He spoke very well, and chose his quotes from the Qur’an, Bible, and Torah carefully. Perhaps a new chapter can be opened. I hate it when people say ‘Oh, he can talk all he wants, but will his words become actions?’ Negative thinking is NOT going to help. If we listen to his speech and believe that change can happen, then we’ve taken that step within ourselves and that is the purpose. He is one man. He cannot change the world, but we can. He can influence people, inspire them, encourage them, and motivate them to build a better world. His speech was inspiring and honest. He chose his quotes and examples carefully, and -remember guys-, he is a human. Humans aren’t perfect. He made a couple of mistakes here and there, but that’s no big deal. His message got through. I enjoyed the fact that he chose seven issues and discussed them one by one. He is such an amazing speaker. How he managed to speak so carefully without a paper for an hour totally baffles me. President Obama promised that he wanted his Cairo speech to be the start of an "honest" dialogue with the Muslim world. When it comes to how he handled the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he fell short in a couple of points, and I’m sure the critics are busy attacking. However, no matter what he says, the Palestinians aren’t going to like it, and the Israelis won’t either because both sides don’t seem to want a two-state solution. Each side seems to think the other should be wiped off the face of earth. It’s not going to happen. It’s an unfortunate situation, but one has to deal with it positively and try to make the best out of it. Any solution is fine as long as the killing stops and people can have regular lives again. Children need school, families need homes, everyone needs healthcare, clean water, food, and peace! I’m ashamed of the World and of the Arab countries in particular that have done next to nothing to fix this. Ok, enough politics. Please watch the speech if you haven’t already:

Let me know what you think!


  1. I attended a wedding in Dhofar and had the same impression! The makeup was WILD. I don't know how you girls do it!

    As for Obama's speech, I completely agree with you. However, the reactions here in Cairo are almost always positive. It's Obama-mania here again!

    Love the post.

  2. Hehe love the post too.

    Why don't they just wear clown masks?
    Heavy make-up and clown masks serve the same purpose. The latter is even easier to wear and to remove...saves time and energy as well! :p

    Keep it up ;)

  3. You know, I felt pain as you were explaining "putting on the make-up process" and then the "cleaning it process"...especially the spoon part. I imagined like a pile of makeup mixed with water and DETERGENT (=O) being scooped of your face *gags*

    Absolutely terrifying O.O

  4. Oh wow. And here I am, hating the kind of make-up 'artists' try on us in Muscat XD. The white make-up kinda reminded me of geishas.
    What would happen if you don't do it? And also, why the blond wigs and blue contacts?

  5. Yes, Obama's speech was so good. However what I hear is that all the movement must come from the USA and Israel....surely both sides must compromise...... And then there is an Iraqi friend who is convinced that Obama will be shot within a year.... Having lived through the loss of 3 of the best men, the 2 Kennedy's and King, I pray he is wrong...

  6. Muggle, Because Dhofaris have come to strongly believe that wigs and blue contacts and geisha (yes good choice of word Muggle. Applause) is part of our true Arab culture. Brainwashed.

  7. Anonymous, your Iraqi friend (with all due respect) is a pessimist and needs to cheer up and hope for the best. It doesn't help to be negative.

  8. funny post indeed xD!
    bs ow please tell me u weren't serious about make-up removing process O_o!!

  9. I AM serious, Sam. Serious as serious can be.

  10. How about you start a trend of less is more?

  11. Fatma, I already did. I usually do almost 'zero' makeup. People talk in the beginning then they get used to it. :)

  12. I hate makeup although I have to do it in close weddings .. but I feel fake!
    I once had make put in a salon, and had my husband pick me up .. the minute he saw me he said: a3ooth billah min al shaytan al rajeem .. it makes me feel that its really pointless .. the one person I should do this for is not liking it .. so why???

  13. Um 3azzan, EXACTLY! The men think it's soooooooooo ugly! So why do they do it? It baffles me!

  14. hey nadia i just happened to stumble over your blog...
    salalah sounds lovely!
    well since its summer time im so gonna cm there and have
    i love the way you write the language is amusing (in a good way)
    and the wedding thing just cracks me up.....
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahah *ouch my tummy*
    hahhahahahaha! :D poor you!
    by the way why dont you add something about the malls there..... wait!
    are there malls in salalah??

  15. Weddings are hell in Salalah, I've never done my make-up in the salon... Yet. It's too much! Specially the white-ness.

    I would say, the women do it to be oogled at by other women, not for her husband or whatever.

    At my cousins wedding recently I let my sister in law put light make-up for me, my 5 year old cousin said, "Her light powder is more attractive than yours mum and sis. Why don't you do it like hers."

  16. What a great blog you've got here! This post on Dhofari weddings is hilarious! I must say as a Muscatia I've always heard loads about how different Dhofari weddings are. And the one opportunity I got to visit Salalah I gate-crashed a wedding (a Dhofari friend explained that was perfectly alright to do) and it was the coolest wedding experience EVER! The hairpieces, coloured contacts, OTT make-up (and Dhofaris take OTT to a whole new level) and just the whole vibe. Y'all really know how to party. I even saw a woman who had drawn on another hairline! Respect to all Dhofaris for being original ;)

  17. Hey Diva! Why's your blog dead? Bring it back to life!

  18. Thanks for your great writing. I will visit your blog everytime I feel down and need a chear-up. I was so surprised when I first came to Oman and wanted to buy a day creme. I couldn't find any without whitening effect. I should mention that I am by nature as white as it gets. Why isn't anybody happy with their looks? Why this obsession with skin colour? In Europe you see so many people who spend hours upon hours in the midday sun turning themselves into some version of a grilled chicken and applying tons of tanning cream when they can't. And here they do the opposite. It must be genetically encoded in every human being to desire what one does not have.

  19. I'm now inspired to revive it from the very dark place it's been in for a long time, Nadia. But it's soooo much more fun to read other peoples' blogs (and I'm also too lazy). Keep 'em coming :)

  20. He he he, if I make a return trip to Salalah, will you take me to a wedding? I've only seen a Bedu wedding in Oman (very different).

  21. This brought back memories for me - I lived in Salalah a few years back ad went to a wedding in the Crowne Plaza. I am naturally light skinned with light hair and I was the darkest person at the wedding. I was spooked!

  22. Any advice for an ex-pat attending a wedding? My husband has somehow got me invited to the woman's part but I don't know ANYONE and would have to go on my own. To be honest I'm terrified! It feels easier not to go but at the same time it seems a shame to miss out on such an experience. I have no idea what to wear, no idea what will happen there and really just feel very nervous about the whole thing. How do you think people will react to a random Western girl showing up?

  23. Hi Nadia
    I just love this article and I was laughing as possible when I imagine you trying to remove all the make-up... Poor you!!! Lol
    I am a French lady who is falling in love with the Middle East region and has travel a lot in UAE but I've never been in Oman and for sure I will visit your country. I am curious about traditions even if sometimes they are quite strange... I am curious about women life and everyday challenges and when I see all the interesting blogs hold by talentuous women like you, I am proud of you all sisters because I know that the change in every country in the whole world starts when women decide to stop watching their life and start acting.
    Keep it up and please write a new article about weeding. It was too funny my dear

  24. Nadia,

    I may be 7 years late, but I must say that this article brought me to tears!
    I laughed so hard (although I shouldn't since I am still at work, but it was just the break I needed), I am so familiar with the horrific process, though I just found out about the detergent's magical multi-tasking affect lately (no one told me of it when I went as Marlin Manson in that one time, or as I used to call it "the drag queen makeup"), and never needed it ….well, after I knew better.
    Thank God their makeup has improved; somehow….although the wig obsession is still going strong and stubborn!

    1. 7 years late is better then never! Thanks for passing by Dhofaria. Glad I made you laugh