Monday, January 31, 2011

Two great women

As a part of Muscat Festival there are a series of workshops and lectures being held throughout February. You may not have heard a lot about them because they haven't yet been well advertised...that might just be because they are not properly organised yet, as I've heard this is a trait of the festival!

Anyway there are two ladies I am really excited about...actually I'm desperate to go to see them. Arundhati Roy (on the 12th Feb) and Fatima Mernissi (on the 14th). For those who don't know Arundhati Roy is a novelist and political activist. Her only novel was The God of Small Things and she has published a lot of her essays and speeches. I read something about her being examined for sedition in India. No surprise, she's very outspoken but incredibly articulate.

Fatima Mernissi is a Moroccan Islamic feminist. Her work on Muslim women is amazing and she has written many books from her research.

To show the kind of women they are and their areas of interest I'm putting in some of my favourite quotes of theirs:

Arundhati Roy:

To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.

To call someone 'anti-American', indeed to be anti-American, (or for that matter anti-Indian or andti-Timbuktuan) is not just racist, its a failure of the imagination.

The mullahs of the Islamic world and the mullahs of the Hindu world and the mullahs of the Christian world are all on the same side. And we are against them all.

The only thing worth globalizing is dissent.

Fatima Mernissi:

In the Orient, femininity is under control. Like time, women are still and quiet. They can dance and dream, but not think. Thinking might interfere with men's pleasure.

The most subversive of all is the educated unveiled woman who can write independently and produce and disseminate information, because she breaks the Muslim ruler's monopoly over communication.

Is it possible that Islam's message had only a limited and superficial effect on deeply superstitious seventh-century Arabs who failed to integrate its novel approaches to the world and to women? Is it possible that the hijab, the attempt to veil women, that is claimed today to be a basic Muslim identity, is nothing but the expression of the persistence of the pre-Islamic mentality, the jahiliya mentality that Islam was supposed to annihilate?

(Note: The picture above is called Women Empowerment)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New happenings in Muscat

I've left it rather a long time since my last post...again. Its not that I lack material, its time! When you aren't busy you miss it and of course when you become very busy you just wish for some quiet time. But life's good.

1) I went to the new museum in Muttrah, Ghalya's Museum. If you're interested in Omani culture its great, although at the moment quite small (they have plans to add to it). Its basically a collection of artifacts from the period between 1950-1975, when Oman began to get lots of imports. Its interesting to see some very traditional items alongside things like Kraft cheese and Vimto. Its also interesting to see that a lot of the old items are still used today; if someone takes you around they'll tell you all about them.

2) I heard from a sweet-loving friend that there are 2 French pastry shops newly opened, one in Qurm City Centre and one in Markaz al Bahja. I've yet to try them but apparently the owner has some links with the Brasserie French restaurant in Muttrah and is a pastry chef so I'm sure they'll be good...better at least than the sickly crap that is cinnabon.

3) When I read the title of a Times of Oman article 'Muscat set to receive mega makeover' it prompted the words 'oh no'. There are plans to completely develop the city with parks, bridges, squares and complexes. Completion for the different projects will be between 2 to 10 years. I'm planning to go around photographing areas before they change (and then after). Although I'm disappointed that I'm already far too late to have seen Muscat as it was when there was only one shopping centre (Sabco) and little else, I'm glad I can see it now whilst there is still some of it left!! I suppose it will be nice to have a few more parks. I hope they create more places for people to play sports, because on the side of the highway or on a roundabout is not a great place to be kicking a ball around.

4) My blogger friend Dhofari Gucci wrote a post listing some of the small things which make her happy. I thought I would add a few:

- snatching some time with good friends
- having a productive and fulfilling day
- sleeping for an extra 15 minutes in the morning
- actually waking up on time to make breakfast!
- having time to read
- having a well-earned spa treatment!

I'm sure I've missed some things out but I'll be back soon!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bits and Bobs

So after a bit of a dry, or should I say lazy, spell I've become productive again. In fact I thought of several topics to jot down so I'll just put them all into one post.

1) Apparently the government is planning to install traffic cameras at all of the major road junctions in the country. I'm just glad they're making further efforts to combat reckless driving. (I'll save my full rant for another post).
2) There is an exhibition showing rare photos of Oman in 1971 by French photographer Bruno Barbey. It is open everyday between 9am and 6pm at Bait al Baranda, Muttrah. I've also seen the book in Borders.

3) A couple of articles in the Times of Oman today made me smile. Firstly an article discussing the rise of spinsters in Oman and suggesting reasons both women and men are becoming more reluctant to marry. The second article commented on men's mistreatment of women; how they don't help around the house, even when a woman is working and perhaps even earning more money than her husband. Amusing...perhaps they should have used the second article to answer the first! : )
(I have to note though that it was nice to see the second article was written by a man).

4) On a personal note I've been travelling Oman some more, this time between Muscat and the Sharqiyah region; Sur, Ras al Hadd, Sharqiyah Sands and everywhere in between. The weather was amazing and it felt so good to get out of the city. Here are someof my favourite photos:
p.s. I'm getting incredibly frustrated...there is something wrong with Blogger that every time I try to fix the design of a post it doesn't work so things aren't spaced how I want them etc. I might end up throwing my laptop through the window. If you don't hear from me for a while you'll know why.