Sunday, October 12, 2008

Local Encounter Part 2

Its been a while...I've got tons of stuff to do and not enough time to do it! But who doesn't. And I just when I've got too much going on, today I stayed home from work with a bad cold. Can't say I'm significantly better, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow. At least its quieter than the office and I can get some work done when I'm feeling okay.

...So where were we..local encounter. Its always so much better to write these things right after they happen! I'm sure it would have made for much more interesting reading. Anyway, during Ramadan we invited our friends over for an after Iftar meal. I am sorry I don't remember what the meal after Iftar is called. The girl who used to work with Sarper came with her two sisters and her husband. We really enjoy our visits a lot with them and laugh a lot.

It was kind of a comedy of a night for me...they welcomed us into their lovely home and it was so nice for sure you want to reciprocate the same. In doing so I managed to almost burn down a piece of furniture. One of my candle holders a friend brought me from Kazakhstan caught fire. I think it must have been the paint or plastic or something, but I looked over and it was flaming! A little excitement, but fortunately manageable.

So I continued to bring the food out and we were serving kofte (Turkish meat balls for lack of a better way to explain it). When I come to bring more food out of the kitchen, there is Megan (one of my cats) getting ready to go for the kofte! She was on the edge of the table?!!! Did they see? I'm not sure...what do you do...Did they see? If so, throw it away? Its one of those dilemmas if you dropped the roast on the floor, would you throw it away or still serve it to the guests...of course if they saw it its a whole different story. And I find with the exception of falcons and horses the Gulf locals are not really animal people. I don't think they mind animals, but they don't really keep pets in their homes as far as I know. They were okay with our cats around - and our cats liked them as well, but for sure they don't want to share the dinner table with them. So, I took the kofte back to the kitchen and covered it until we were ready to sit down and eat. I was hoping there was a chance they didn't see. We've got this big pillar in our living room - its odd, but kind of divides it into living-dining area - so maybe the pillar was blocking them. They tasted a little bit of everything, so I guess I was okay...phew....

We again learned a lot about the local culture and at this point I realized just how much they are loosing their culture. I always wondered about this because locals account for less than 20% of the population, so how does this work for them. We learned a lot from the eldest sister about how things used to be in Dubai and what she remembered from her childhood. But not only are they outnumbered, but they have other challenges as a result of this. For example, in their schools they also lack enough locals to teach. So when the kids learn Arabic, its a slightly different dialect. What a big challenge for them. I am most impressed with how they still welcome the growth and change. They don't seem to resent the growth and change happening around them, but instead they embrace it and are taking advantage of the opportunities. I would think that in my country many would take to the streets and protest...and yet some of those same people would point fingers and say that the ME is not modern. I have found it to be quite the contrary and while limited, the interaction I have had with locals confirms this.

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