Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you...

Mike says I'm wearing out our blog readers with my long posts. Would you mind giving me some comments on what you think about that? Much appreciated, folks. ************* I tried to fast for Ramadan. Not a chance. Caved by lunchtime on the first day. Fortunately, fasting entails more than just not putting anything in your mouth. Sawm, the word for fasting, literally translates to "refrain". Ramadan is intended to be a time to reflect on one's relationship with God, to purify your life of the things that you know are wrong. As the saying goes, to neither see, hear, nor speak any evil, not go to "sinful"places, to strengthen family relationships and also work on improving bad habits. Tradition also encourages good deeds, giving to charity, and partaking in intense worship. The fasting and suffering is supposed to help engender empathy for those who are without, and foster appreciation for what you have. I quote: Ramadan is an opportunity to gain by giving up, to prosper by going without and to grow stronger by enduring weakness. (http://www.submission.org/)

This is some pretty heavy stuff. Sooooo, what do we infidels do? Well, besides not taunting Muslims by eating or drinking in front of them, some of the folks at Mike's work are trying out fasting, with, I assume, better success than I had. (I hear, however, that taunting non-Muslim westerners who are "trying out fasting" is quite the sport there), and Mike's work had a speaker on Ramadan come in. We got a letter from Bethy's school, detailing what to expect and suggesting ways to act and dress.

As Muslims are trying to not think sinful thoughts, women are asked to wear more, um, conservative outfits. We loved that cause-and-effect statement, but it is their country. So while I'm not thrilled about long sleeves in addition to covered legs, it would never occur to me to wear otherwise. I had thought I might have to dress like this all the time, so I don't mind it for a month.

2 days before Ramadan Mike and I were tickled to see an honest-to-Allah fashion police bust at the mall. A young man with several scantily clad Paris Hilton wanna-be ladies got a talking to by some officials. The outfits were definitely double-take holy cow. Mike made sure to tell me that he wasn't offended by them, however pleased we both were that they got busted. He also tried to follow them, though he said it was so I could get a photo for the blog...

I must say that there are many women not cooperating with the conservative dress request, which I don't get. To me, being respectful of the culture you are living in and which has welcomed you is far more important than showing off your tatas. But I regress...and I'm pretty sure the last line doesn't qualify as "speak no evil." Dang this holistic fasting thing.

These women, from what I understand from other women who (like me) feel it's a really good time to dress down, are angry, defensive, and quick to point out inconsistencies in Muslims this time of year. Methinks perhaps they protest too much? I don't get into it, just keep doing what I do...and make you read about it.

Here are some of the cute-kid requisite photos of Bethy in her new school (and that uniform. SO adorable). She's doing great. Mrs Potts had the kids come up with the rules for their classroom. They included some pretty good ones like "no picking your nose"and "no bossy boots". Yesterday Mike and I did a double-take at the clouds in the sky. Real puffy white clouds. The skies have been empty for so long, with the exception of sandstorms and the constant dust. At sunset Thomas often says "I see a moon! I see a moon!" to the sun. The sand dust is so thick that you can easily look at the sun then, though during the day the light can be so bright as to be painful. I hear Autumn is upon Seattle, at least until Indian Summer. I think it is starting here as well.

At 4:30 AM I went out onto our porch and it was what I now think of as startlingly cool at 90 F. Orion is glowing in the sky. I love seeing the constellations from almost the same vantage point as when they were named. It feels like a connection to the past.


sherrip said...

The length of the posts don't bother me. I love hearing your thoughts and reflections in addition to what is going on with you guys.

Tell Bethy she looks adorable!

I would imagine clouds are more beautiful and welcome over there. I will relish (as best I can) my 70 degree day and wish some cooler weather your way!

Jean said...

Keep the posts as they are. Your observations are wonderful, and the photos integrated into the text are a bonus. We almost feel as if we are there with you...without the heat, of course.

Anonymous said...

Love your posts, like being there!