Tip #464: A Changing Culture

“No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking. ” Ruth Benedict

I can’t imagine this happening anywhere in the States, but a young man told the giggling woman (who was exquisite) that she had gained weight since she had her child 6 months ago!  When I said she looked lovely and where did he get off telling her that, he agreed she looked lovely. And all she said was that they worked together. Hmm.

By the way, he is Christian and, according to the young woman (Sireen), quite a Don Juan. Although how he could possibly be one with all of the Muslim women living with their families I have no idea.

He said that if he had been Muslim, by now he would have 4 wives. That prompted Sireen to say that her father-in-law has 9 wives!  That reminded me that when the PAP team went to interview villagers near the dried up springs, they met a man who has 97 children!!! You know he didn’t manage that with just one wife!

Sireen explained that the culture was changing and most young couples are content with only having each other.

All I can say is that maintaining a relationship with one spouse is hard enough. Goodness knows how these men budget their time between the wives- and where they get all of that energy. It exhausts me just to think about it!

At the end of both days, a number of participants have come up to thank me and tell me how much they are enjoying the training and learning.

Today, after one young woman thanked me, I told her how beautiful her headscarf was. She immediately asked me if she should bring me one. I tried to tell her that wasn’t necessary, but she already had a plan. So I told her, then she is going to have to show me how to wear it. I may look like many other Moslem women tomorrow…

Coincidentally, I had asked Maha earlier whether they draped the scarves or if they came draped. No, they drape it and secure it with one pin. She also told me that the elastic looking band that covers their foreheads and shows under the scarf is actually a cap that covers their entire head.

When I’m back in the States, it’s going to seem strange not to see women with their heads covered and frequently wearing coats covering their clothing all day long.

On the way back to the hotel after the training, Tarek told me that he had to swing by the PAP office to pick up Pritti (sp?) She is a communications consultant who flew in two days ago from Seattle (a 20 hour flight!!)

She told me that she had just had the meeting from hell. She had asked me if I planned to go to dinner with others tonight at a restaurant Mona had selected. Since I had discovered there would be a lot of shisha being smoked, I begged off.  Then she told me that every one of the men in the daylong meeting had chain-smoked. They had been told to attend by USAID, but they saw no value in learning how to create a communications plan. So they all held side conversations. The poor woman.

At least I have authority as the trainer and, if worse comes to worse, can throw Koosh at folks. She certainly couldn’t do that, particularly since these were all chiefs of party.

Today was so beautiful that I went for a walk after I got back to the hotel. I walked to the grocery store, about 6 or so blocks away, to pick up sparkling water and peanut butter.

When I got back to the hotel, it was time to send my laundry (and Mona’s jacket and scarf) out for cleaning, and to wash my light items.

Random thoughts:

Yesterday morning, I have never seen so many people. There was a group of middle aged (if that’s what I am?) people from Utah- there must have been at least 40 of them- here for a tour to Petra. It was impossible to get to the chef who makes omelets and other egg dishes. I almost couldn’t even get to my granola, fruit and yogurt. The staff couldn’t keep up- either with replenishing the food or resetting tables.

There were two air force men seated next to me and one said that he was there every other month or so and he had never seen such a crowd.

When Arwa was driving me from my hotel to her flat on Friday, we passed a man in an orange jump suit sweeping the street (with a hand broom). She said she really liked these folks, who were there keeping the streets clean no matter what the weather. She explained that few people were interested in being garbage men. It seemed beneath them. However, since they changed the title of the position to city worker and increased the salary, people with higher degrees are now taking the jobs.

Let me close by saying that I love training and I am really enjoying this adventure.

May your learning be sweet.


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