Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Traditional Dhofari / Salalah Make-up

Traditional makeup of brides of Dhofar/Salalah
Photo ripped off from anonymous
The Arabic caption says: Do you know that the first people who started applying Contour in make-up in order to conceal flaws were Dhofari women? Lol.

Yep, the lines you see on the nose and chin serve the purpose of contouring. The lines on the cheeks are not usually straight like the ones on the mannequin. They are meant to define the cheekbones. As for the lines on the chin, they are supposed to make you look like you have a chin dimple (talk about beauty standards in Dhofar) and make your face look smaller. I'm not sure about the forehead lines XD Gotta ask my mom.

I can say that Dhofari culture (southern Omani sub-culture) is really obsessed with beauty. Nowadays that traditional make-up is extremely uncommon in Dhofar. Modern Dhofari make-up is similar to modern Arabic make-up but I believe it still has a unique tint about it.

For your information, the cheek and chin lines used to be tattooed! I am not sure when Dhofari women stopped tattooing and used modern cosmetic tools to draw the lines. One of my older sisters who go married when I was 10 years old had that kind of make-up but without face tattoos. My sisters who got married after her wore modern bride Dhofari make-up.

Talking about tattoos, tattooing is actually forbidden in Islam. Religion is the most important thing in Muslims' lives, but you can see that 'tradition' dominates sometimes. Obviously Dhofaris weren't a real islamized people until they managed to go to schools and get Islamic lessons. I guess face tattooing tradition started to vanish with the opening of schools where Dhofaris found out that it is forbidden in Islam.

My next post will be titled "Dhofari/Salalah women in 5 shades of black ^^ Stay tuned.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Go Arab women!

People here think of me as either a brave woman or a daring reckless girl who has no shame for publishing a fiction book under her real name. Arab culture views women as 'private things' that should stay behind the veils. So what I did by publishing a novel is actually "get through the veils and share a lot of my thoughts with the world." In other words, I stopped being a 'too private thing' of the people I am related to. That is why many people didn't show me enough support for writing, unfortunately. I do believe in encouragement because I went through a time when I felt like my life was really falling apart. I've already experienced the feeling of being unsupported by everyone around you. It effing hurts. -.-"

When I officially became a published novelist, I thought I gained some independence from the surroundings that want to take over my life. That little feeling of independence helped me stick a photo of me without my burqa (face cover) on my blog lol. But I am still not enjoying enough of it. 

As I said in a previous post, I do believe in encouragement. I came across this amazing video by @nikewomen supporting Arab women. Check it out here:  

Arab women may need such encouragement for a whole century I guess. Until the day it becomes the norm to be an athletic Arab woman, I just want to ride a bicycle XD 

Monday, 13 February 2017

My tribe: Al Najjar

Disclaimer: I'm an Arab woman living in the 21st century and interested in East Asia. I'm not taking pride in my ancestry whatsoever, and I'm not racist. Me just wanna have fun. 

Those who have read my novel 'The Sultan's Rose' know that I don't see why some Arab tribes (here in Dhofar) think excessively high of themselves. I'm not saying that some others have the right to take pride in their ancestry and become racist. I'm just saying that the too proud ones don't really have a reason to flaunt around. I'm not going into details but 'ignorance' is obviously one of them. If you have the potential to help build a civilization, then feel free to be proud. Your last name doesn't make you any special -.-

Joseph Al Najjar, or Saint Joseph the Carpenter, Jesus'
stepfather. Al Najjar in Arabic means 'carpenter.'
Painting by George de La Tour, Ripped off
from Wikipedia
To foreign readers: Arabs still refer to themselves with the term 'tribe' but that doesn't mean all tribe members live together in special territories allocated for them and things like that. To name one thing that is related to tribes and still happens, is that each tribe here still has a sheikh (leader). If you need to do some official procedures, you might need the approval of your Sheikh. Your Sheikh has a legal authority over you even if you are all living in modern cities. Most if not all people here think of themselves as a whole group of people separated from the others/other tribes, albeit living far away from each other.

My surname, that is Al Najjar, is the name of my tribe. My tribe is one of the most ancient, biggest Arab tribes, which is why you can find my last name in most Arab countries. The thing that my tribe is known of and respected for the most is that the Muslim prophet (prother Mohammed) was blood-related to my tribe on his mother's side. If you go through his biography, we will find many stories with Banu Najjar (children of AL Najjar). The Muslim song (Tala'al badru alaina: The full moon rose over us) was actually made and sung by Al Najjar women.

Do you know why I decided to talk about this all of a sudden? It is because I came across the English Wiki page of my tribe (Banu Al Najjar - check it out here) and found it interesting to be referred to as a 'Jewish tribe' XD. I knew that my tribe first settled in Al Madina (one of Muslims' holy cities in Saudi Arabia), and I knew that Al Madina was a Jewish settlement before Muslims' invasion. I knew all that but for some reason I couldn't expect that Banu Najjar were actually Jews.

"The Banu Najjar[1] (Arabic: بنو نجّار) were a Jewish tribe who lived in Medina in the time of Muhammad. They are one of the tribes named in his Charter of Medina. The Banu Najjar were also the maternal tribe of Muhammad's grandfather Abdul-Muttalib. Muhammad initially settled with them when he emigrated from Mecca to Medina. The Prophet's Mosque was later built in the same location. During this period, most of the tribe converted to Islam."

If that is true then there is a possibility that my tribe originally lived in Jerusalem before fledding the wars bewteen the Jews and Romans.

Enough for now. I'm not really interested in such things -.-

Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Don't pray for me like that.. Pray for me like this!

You can't guess the facial expression of the
Mona Lisa under the burqa.
- Photo ripped off from unknown
Your prayers are NOT ALWAYS appreciated *frowns* 

One of the reasons why I hate to go to social gatherigs is the old and middle-aged ladies who always pray for me when they see me, "May Allah make you happy!" If you were a lady in Salalah (Dhofar, south of Oman), you would know that what 'happy' means is actually 'married'.

I have been hearing this prayer ever since I was 20 yo. I used to accept it when I hear them pray for me, but you know, happiness is not all about getting married. I believed so deep inside, but when I got older and became more aware of the social status of women in my extremely patriarchal society, how do you expect me to like that? I know they have good  intentions but I hated how they collectively think that the importance of a woman's life is only about getting married.

It is all up to me if I decide to let my life revolve around my future brynse (suddenly I became too shy to say 'prince'), but honestly the more I hear that prayer the more I hate the idea of getting married. I grew up into a woman with an opinion; I can't simply let things happen to me for the sake of satisfying what is socially expected from me.

I'm 27 yo and there are many girls who got married right after high school. It is not the norm but it is not uncommon either. I kind of feel sorry for these girls. But, ahem, I also feel sorry for myself hahaha. I feel sorry for myself for having such a pathetic life, struggling for my principles when it is really hard to stand up for yourself. I mean, I really think I was born in the wrong time and wrong place. It's hard to live so many years alone, waiting for the 'right one' who probably doesn't exist in the first thousands of miles around you. It's harder if you don't even have friends -_-  I really don't think I'm being stubborn; I think I'm being realistic, but my reality happened to be tough. Anyways, 27 is not too late for me, but it's just started getting late.

In conclusion of this post, I would like to say that if you ever decided to pray for me, please don't pray for me like "may Allah make you happy," pray for me like this:

Mona, hold yourself together and keep going. Things will get better for you sooner or later.

I'd appreciate something like that ^^;;


Friday, 27 January 2017

Let me use it again!

I started learning the Korean language on January 7, 2017.
I want to use it again!
Photo ripped off but no known source 

Yeah I know, it does seem like I really don't know what I should do with my life *laughs* I focused on Japanese because I was planning to do a master's degree in Japan, but that plan didn't work out till now. All of a sudden I decided to learn Korean because I thought I should start trying to pursue my higher studies there as well lol. It all started with a conversation with the Embassy of Oman in Korea ^^

So how is it going with me so far? I love learning languages, and learning Korean is fun of course. However, as a native speaker of Arabic, I expected to face some difficulty learning the Korean vowels. Arabic has a very simple set of vowels. Vowels in Japanese are even easier than Korean vowels. I think I'm doing fine with the vowels now though.

It's fortunate that I don't have to memorize Kanji/hanja while studying Korean, but on the other hand it's unfortunate that I actually have to memorize how some words are pronounced in Korean (just like English). However, I think I can make progress in Korean faster than Japanese. I've always been worried about how I can memorize more Kanji than what I already know. I don't have a good enviornment for studying kanji. Maybe I'm not making enough sense but that's just how I feel. I feel that my Korean is going to improve faster than Japanese in my current situation.

Korean sounds like a whole new language to me because I haven't been exposed to it enough. I will do my best though ^^ Generally the grammar sounds like Japanese, and I could recognize many words borrowed from Japanese. I feel that the Korean grammar will be a bit more challenging than Japanese, but again, I wI'll do my best.

I will work hard, but I hope that I will manage to do something new with my passport.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Motivation to keep on going

I got this rose last year on Mother's day (I'm not even a
mom but I was happy ^^) 
When I was a teenager I could never understand why many people talk about adolescence as a sensitive stage of one's life. My adolescence started so perfectly, but when I hit 14, I realized what that meant. At that time and all of a sudden, I started feeling as if my life was falling apart. I also used to wonder why some children need encouragement and motivation to work hard.

Obviously I used to think like that because I WAS FINE. Now I'm in my late 20's, and I really want motivation and encouragement to keep going :( I think I realized that I actually needed that sort of emotional support ever since I was 14. Sometimes I can't believe I managed to write up a whole novel when I was 19 years old. Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I actually survived through all those years, when I recall how I was feeling.

I guess self-motivation is not always an easy task, but all I can do right now is try my best to keep motivating myself.

Many people think of me as a person with very high moral standards. I think I became the way I am not only because of how my family raised me, but also because of what I've experienced. I used to be a bit too sensitive, getting hurt so easily. I know how getting hurt feels, so I try my best to avoid hurting others (howeverrr.. when I get my first job and I had to meet many people, I hated myself for being too nice lol XD).

I wonder how much my perspective on life is going to change in the future, but for the time being, I do believe in encouragement and motivation. If people around you aren't supportive, please stay strong TT_TT and try hard to keep motivating yourself.



Sunday, 22 January 2017

This little thing I want to do.

Riding a bike, which is actually a taboo for women in my society lol. I think it was my wish for 2016 but obviously it didn't happen.

I really want to learn how to ride a bicycle. And I'm gonna do it someday.

Good night.