21 September 2006

Stamps, Dresses, Tea

I have finished my first week of classes! T.A.I.T. (Thank Allah it’s Thursday). Today we had half a day of pronunciation, and then we went into the lab. It was quite helpful. Our teacher said several words from our book, and they were recorded at our individual stations. Then, we spent the time we needed listening to each word, writing it down, and then we could check in our books to see if we spelled it (and heard it) correctly. I found this sooo helpful. It gradually beat into my brain what words mean, how they are spelled, etc.

We had attempted this week to complete the visa process. Both V and I wanted to have this completed before the onset of Ramadan. No luck. We had a setback a few days ago, and it was rectified yesterday. We needed to get a paper called an Ithbat Talib. Ithbat is the Arabic word for “paper with many stamps,” and Talib means student. Ithbat actually means Proof. Our registration paperwork and receipts are not sufficient “proof” of our student status. We had to visit three different buildings and 8 different bureaucrats to get this mysterious paper. We finally did. We now need to have our blood tests done, and this can only be done Sunday through Thursday from 8 to 1, so we will be quite late for class on Sunday. Then we will submit all of this and wait indefinitely. Wish us luck.

In the mean time, L and “I” took us both downtown last night. It was really good to get out for an evening. We got back at almost 10 last night, and for the first time since I arrived I was not already awake when the first C to P sounded. My alarm actually woke me up for the first time this morning. We took a taxi and were let off in the row of travel agents. We walked down further into the souk, and found a dress shop. We went in, and all three of the ladies got dresses. “I” was so funny, he haggled with the guy forever over price. At one point, he told the store owner that we three are his wives, and so he needed a break! I got my dress for 17 JD, and (to my surprise) it did have a price on it. It was 29. Both are more than reasonable. We walked around, and I’m sad to say that we were the ONLY Westerners I saw. Business must be really bad. Merchants were practically begging us to buy stuff. Happy with our dresses, we walked around, and looked at the gold, clothing, fabric, and sweets. Ummmm, sweets. Oh, ya, then we ate at a wonderful restaurant on one of the 8 thousand streets we traveled. They brought me hummus, eggplant, and a wonderful salad of tomatoes, cucumber, and mint. Yum. We had tea, of course, to finish the meal. V is German, but she has lived in England for many years now, so she’s a tea drinker. But, she’s a drinker of English tea. We discussed the importance of learning to embrace Arab tea min nana. Just swap the milk for mint, and you’re fine. We discussed Foucault. We discussed Jordan. It was really a wonderful evening. L and “I” are both graduate students, and L has a similar grad-school horror story to me. Her and I have bonded over this. The 4 of us may very well go to Cairo at the end of Ramadan when there is a one-week holiday.

Right now it is finally beautiful here. This morning it was downright chilly as we walked to school. There are clouds in the sky, and we didn’t open the windows in class this morning because it was too cold. It’s very much like California that way I suppose. One day it’s over 100 degrees, and the next day a scarf is necessary. I get to sleep in for two days. All is good.


Blogger weeping sore said...

Beautiful dress! And I love the twist you're giving to the bureaucracy. "Paper with many stamps" seems pretty accurate from the way you describe it. I'd like more information on how women sans men are treated by the locals. How are you so obviously "westerners" and will you always be so? Your pic looks to me like you're going native.

8:28 PM  

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