Thursday, 20 May 2010

salam aleikum

20 may 2010

today was Saudi day. it is a special celebration for the saudi students at the university of southampton. they organized a really big celebration that ran the whole day on the highfield campus. the men and the separate, of course, in two large, different spaces. one of my male students was showing me around the event. then i asked him to take my photo with the girls. he had to say 'no' to me, even looking a little embarrassed. he cannot take photos of girls. the camera would have to be mine and somebody else would have to take the photo. this is an interesting culture and visiting the exhibition was another enriching experience for me. i love to talk to them about the differences between life here and life back home for them and for myself. they are just curious about brazil.

i came by to visit the exhibition of elements from the culture, including clothes and food (dates) and drink (arabic coffee). i had the chance to see many friends i hadn't seen in a long while. one of them is einas. she is now living in london. einas told me she regrets having left southampton, because london is such a big and difficult city, especially when you are alone. anyway, we had a nice chat and took photos. good fawzia and this chinese photographer, raymond, also turned up to visit the festive day. they gave me the outfits and the scarf for the photos. they suggested i cover my face as well for a photo, and asked if i was feeling sufocated, unwell. i said i was fine, but that was only half the truth. i was ok(ish) because i knew i was going to get rid of the cover in a minute, but it felt completely new, something that is not me or mine.

i had my hands dyed with henna by this pakistani lady. women in saudi arabia had the henna in hands, some even in the arms, and on their foot for beauty purposes. it is a very popular custon to have it done at the end of ramadan, the first day when ramadan finishes, called Eid. the pakistani lady prepares brides for wedding cerimonies and provides a range of beauty services. quite interesting. she gave me a visit card in case i need something later on, but her name is curiously not in the card. whom should ask for?

the men in the photo with me either are now or have been my students here. they are all nice and fun people. sultan is actually a prince in saudi arabi. yes, he belongs in he royal family. he is only 22-years old, a very young man.

well, i ended up spending much more time than i had planned at the event, chatting chatting chatting. i have difficulty sticking to a rigid work programme and deviate very often, like today. i knew i had many things to do in avenue. well, i lingered on for nearly three hours at the saudi day.

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