Culture Shock #2

 

The Shock of the new….continued.

My weekend is Friday and Saturday. This is going to take some time to adjust. As I type this it is Sunday and rather than preparing for the week ahead I am dressed in my work clothes having spent the first day of the school week at work with my students. I am convinced that a Friday/ Saturday weekend is shorter than a Saturday/Sunday weekend. Not sure why, but it is.

I didn’t expect so many people to be dressed in their national dress. It is not as if you see Lederhosen on a regular basis in Germany, Kilts everyday in Scotland or Kimonos in downtown Tokyo, so I never imagined I would see so many men with checkered head scarfs, ( Guthra) white starched and flowing robes, ( Thobe) and women top to toe in black, albeit a black that might be bedazzled with crystal. I simply had no idea. And with these red and white cloths, black ropes and brilliant white robes everywhere it is impossible for even a second to forget where you are.

It turns out dress is a very important part of culture and identity here. Yet it is dressing all the same that defines them rather than being distinctive, on the outside. It got me thinking about clothes, well more than usual.

Trooper and Princess wear a uniform, have done for the past four years. When I wait at the school gates after school ( which is incidentally the absolutely best part of my day) a sea of uniforms pours out of the school, a mass of red and blue and they all look the same until I see those brown eyes.  As you know people try to find their own spirit within a uniform, whether it be a hair style, shoes or earrings. Individuality is not promoted, nor encouraged at schools with uniforms and when we leave school we are quite thrilled by the freedom and luxury to wear what ever we want, all day long. Most of the time college kids wear a uniform anyway, all looking indistinguishable in the jeans and baggy sweaters; but it is a choice.

Here the uniform continues into adult hood and is worn with a great deal of pride, rarely shunned. Men sitting around a table could look exactly the same as each other, save a flashy watch or  creatively trimmed beard that might add that touch of the individual. Rebels are not revered, stepping outside of the box has to be done in its own unique way. I am still wondering and discovering how that comes to be.

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Filed under Bahrain, observations

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