Tag Archives: Women

A little story about a Mosque

Handsome Husband decided we ought to do something cultural, learn something, about our new home. The Grand Mosque here was offering tours during Eid, an open door of sorts to show expats what Islam, the mosque and Eid are all about. I shrugged, not feeling particularly enthralled about the educational tour, and feeling guilty that I would prefer to stay at home and play house. So I went, for the kids, it would be good for them. But there was a condition. I would not sit and be lectured to and I would not be forced to wear an Abaya. Yes I would cover my head, take my shoes off and show all due respect but I had no wish to be draped in black and made to feel invisible.

I’m the open minded world traveller here, but still ,what’s a nice Jewish girl to do in a Mosque?

We parked and looked up , the minaret glinted in the deep heat, pale sand colour against the bluest sky, a sky too blue in the burning heat.

And then inside to the cool exterior where smiling men dressed top to toe in white pushed us in the right direction.

Within 5 minutes I was taken aside, along with a rather worried Trooper, dressed in a black zip up abaya, head entirely covered, top to toe invisible and plopped down in front of a man holding a lecture stick. I was handed a succulent date soaked in honey and a thimble full of rose tea.

Handsome stifled a laugh, Princess was jealous and Trooper blushed. We were swept into the main hall of the mosque and lectured to for the next 45 minutes. And once I got over my great discomfort I have to admit we learnt something. The whole experience pulled me out of my tidy little world and plopped me into another one. And if felt most odd.

But I realize that sometimes we need to feel uncomfortable.

The majority of Bahraini women walk around all day the way I did for 45 minutes and we have no idea what it feels like. I felt anonymous, disguised and frankly uncomfortable that I was made to feel invisible. However I know that for many women it is a quiet relief to not be defined by their outward appearance and they might take pride in the fact that only they know exactly who they are and how they look. Over in the West much stock is put on what people think of us and we find ourselves dressing up for others, hoping and wanting their approval. It is quite disconcerting to suddenly not matter, but rather to blend in with a crowd of other women tidied up in black.

And so I did it, the very thing I dreaded and expressly did not want to do. I have visited other mosques in the past, I have gladly covered my head but I have never been told to cover up entirely. It was rather extreme in my opinion and as much as I am sort of glad for the experience, I do not wish to do it again. I was pretending, playing a part, wearing someone else’s skin and it didn’t feel right.

When we walked out of that mosque, the one where all Muslims stand side by side, equally, before God, where the lights come from Austria, the marble from Italy, the doors from India and the carpet from Scotland; when the girls had henna beautifully applied to their hands in the ladies only room and we had felt the cool marble on our bare feet, when I slipped off my black abaya, removed the head scarf and put on my shoes, I became once again just simply me. But a little changed by the whole experience. Eyes open and all that.


Filed under Bahrain, Family Stuff

Kampala and the sisterhood

Kampala. I love it green, and raining, the water mirrors the day. We are slowly coming to an end, a term is ending and a break is nigh. We are hopping on a jet plane and heading to Bahrain to explore and see and find and learn. We will find a house, a school, maybe a job. We will start the slow move from one life to another as we imagine where we’ll be next year. No rain, just dry, no green, just desert, no children carrying water and majestic woman wearing bananas atop their heads, something new and different instead.

The Parrots and Hammerheads call to one another in the tree outside my window and I wonder what the sounds of the future will be. Will a call to prayer take over the bird calls?

I had a night or two recently that were different, one an evening of French folk, chic with their perfectly placed scarf, chain or glasses, the kisses and laughter better in French. There was good taste in the air with language and culture tying threads around the crowd.

Another a night of girls; talking, musing, wondering, hoping. I was the oldest, the only one married, the one who was meant to have some wisdom tucked between the folds of experience. We talked by candlelight of choice, hope and compromise and I sensed real friendship, the kind girls have whether they are 13 or 32.

And I thought of my sisterhood and how I miss it. One or two nights a year is not enough. Then I thought of all the wonderful women I have fallen in love with and then had to leave. I could never survive the highs and lows without the women. I build walls around my heart and say “no more!” And then I do it all again, the love, the wistful nights wishing we could all live happily in a commune of wine and candlelight.


Filed under Sisterhood

Tuesday is International Women’s Day

I am particiapting in an exhibition in honour of Women’s Day here in Kampala.

These are the photos I have chosen to celebrate  and honour the women of Uganda.

Last year I wrote about the lives and hardships of women in this country. Sadly the facts I documented are still too relevant. You can find the post here.


Filed under Photography, Uganda

More from the How did you find me? files.

Street pedicure

This is a common feature of Kampala streets. Men carrying small boxes filled with clippers, scissors, nail polish and a pumice stone are often hailed down by young girls. A small stool is presented, the girl sits down and the man gets to work. It doesn’t take long and is very cheap. Consequently most ladies here have their tootsies painted.  How is this relevant here? I posted a photo of a street pedicure and here it is.

Girl stuck in swamp

Oh people, what are you doing? First it is chickens killing girls and now it is girls stuck in a swamp. The poor girls; whatever did they do to deserve such wishful fantasies? In this case I can only imagine-seeing as though you have ended up at 3limes- that the swamp in question is the place where the rare and elusive shoebill bird is found.  Here the girl would be sitting in a dugout canoe, holding onto the sides for dear life and possibly stuck in the papyrus bushes.  She might have a pair of binoculars slung over neck and she would be wondering what possessed her to come into this swamp to find a bird with a nose like a clog when she could just as easily find the bird at the Entebbe zoo.

Rolling fields of green

Ahhh. Here we are thinking of England again; perhaps Wiltshire or Dorset this time. Not sure how you found me, dear reader, but let me warn you that unless you leave Kampala there will be no rolling fields of green for you. Having said that, any person who types Rolling Fields of Green into  Google is much more my sort of person than you over there typing in Girl Stuck in Swamp. Just saying.

Trinidad and Tobago

You are going to make me wistful now, watch out. Yes you must be very confused. You see I was writing a Trinidad and Tobago blog from July 2008-July 2009. It was a happy time filled with beaches, carnival, soca music, good friends, a great dog and some rum. Since August 2009 3limes has been all about Uganda, so if you were hoping for a glimpse of the Caribbean you won’t find it here, unless you look up and click on the tab that says Trinidad. The posts are still there, as are the memories. But now that you are here why not stick around and find out about this little country called Uganda? I know it was the last thing on your mind when you went looking for T&T but maybe it’s you lucky day!

kids fun house kampala

Are you talking about my house?

“ugandan women”

I am questioning your motives somewhat here. Are you looking to discover the plight of Ugandan women? If so I have discussed that here. If you are looking for something a bit more saucy may I suggest you hop over to a different sort of website.

You have just learned of the death of mr

Now I am dying to know who “mr” is.  And if I just learnt about his death why are you over here checking up on me? Are you a concerned individual? A friend? Or just something else entirely?  Just to set your mind at ease the only Mr I just learnt the death of is Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman and that came as no surprise so I am just fine.

Shoebox kitchen

Oh do you have one too? Very sweet and lots of cooking can happen in there, I must say. I am now in a Villa kitchen so we can’t really be friends anymore. Plus I really thought it was me who coined that phrase. There goes my original thought.


Filed under Kampala, Photography, Trinidad & Tobago

Ugandan Women

Today is International Woman’s Day and it is celebrated here in Uganda as a national holiday. This means that we are all home from school and either horse riding or rattling around in our little house.   As a means of acknowledging the hardship that the majority of Ugandan women face on a daily basis I would like to leave you with some facts and photos.

  • Ugandan women have a life expectancy of 52  years.

  • Only 24% of women in Uganda have access to contraception. Many women who would like to stop having children are unable to due to the lack of available contraception.

  • Uganda has no specific law in place prohibiting domestic violence and 68% of married women between the ages of 15 to 49 had experienced some form of domestic violence.

  • 60% of men and 70&% of women actually condone some form of wife beating. In its 2008 report UNICEF indicates that 77 percent of women aged 15 to 49 years feel that spousal violence is justified for a variety of reasons, such as if the woman burns food or refuses sexual relations.

  • About 80% of women, whether sick or healthy  carry the burden of all domestic work.

  • The average woman has up to 7 children.

  • Abortion is illegal.

  • According to the Human Development Index, about 12% of women are malnourished, 38% of children are underweight. Food insecurity, lack of a balanced diet and lack of education are to blame for these statistics.

  • Women with AIDS often do not get treatment because of the fear of revealing their status to their partners. Many women suffer violence at the hands of men who blame them for bringing the virus to the family. 7.5% of Ugandan women between the ages of 15-49 are HIV positive.

  • According to the UDHS, 25% of women between the ages of 19-49 had their first sexual experience against their will.

  • Women’s roles are clearly subordinate to men as they have been taught from an early age to put their fathers, brothers and husbands first. At the same time it is women who shoulder the primary responsibilities for childcare and subsistence cultivation.

  • Female circumcision, despite being illegal now is still practiced in some rural areas.

  • 60% of women deliver their babies at home.

  • In some very remote areas only 20% of women have access to clean water although the national average is 75%.

  • Water and firewood is collected by women 90% of the time and sadly this duty ( for women in isolated areas) can put them in danger of being raped.

  • In good news the lives of women in the cities is constantly improving with female lawyers, doctors, MPs, government ministers, entrepreneurs and business women on the rise. There is a modern Ugandan woman who might chose her own husband, teach, DJ, and determine how many children she wishes to have but this woman lives a life far removed from her rural sisters.





    Filed under Uganda

    Booty is best



    Women in Trinidad are vain. This is not a criticism, in fact it is a compliment if being vain means making an effort all the time and not pulling on your best tracksuit to dine out as many do in the Canadian Midwest where I had the fortune to live some years back.  Many have commented that you can see the most beautiful women in your life here in T&T.  It is the cultural mish mash of Black, Indian, Chinese and White that makes these people so gorgeous. They dress up to grocery shop and they dress up to go to the beach, always standing inches taller in their mandatory heels. They know the meaning of the word accessorize and love to select just the right colour earrings to accompany their belt that circles their oh so tiny waists.  It might not always be my taste, it doesn’t matter if the gold is real or if the green glow of the bangle will eventually peel off; if it works today it works.

    I recently noticed the male take on all this glamour during an afternoon at the beach.  People watching is a sport here and like good observers the men carry cameras or at the least camera phones and snap the pretty girls. They don’t mind, it is the ultimate compliment. I cannot imagine this going down too well on a beach in Maine.  In fact being photographed is such a desired option here that the best of all worlds is to be snapped up by a pro and put on the popular website Triniscene.com. This website features photos of all the pretty people at all the shows, bars, events and functions. 

    Back in my hometown of Montreal, Canada women can most often be seen sporting their lycra outfits, climbing into huge SUVs, Starbucks clutched in hand. Men at work look sharp in ties and crisp shirts but the weekends will find them in 20 year old jeans, worn Ts and indescribable sneakers. The men here have creative facial hair, perhaps an earring and certainly a bangle or necklace.  They are waiting to be looked at as they sit and watch.  So what makes this Caribbean island so style conscious? There have been two Miss Universe that have hailed from T&T, a fact of which they are extremely proud. A main high way running through the city is named after one of those winners. So perhaps it starts with the fact that they are all so attractive to begin with, the goods are already there. Might it also have something to do with the heat, the music, the rum that sends all the beautiful people into a dancing, whining frenzy that most often leads to desire?  The girls wear painted on jeans, heels that sparkle and tops that leave little to the imagination. They do not just dress to impress, they dress to seduce. And it is the sexy curvaceous woman who fares best here.  Black booty must be a fabulous thing if the posters for the parties are to be believed. “Bootylicious Short Pants Party September 1st!” screams out one poster in vivid pink and green colours. “ Hot Pants Party” shouts out another. And these are not ads aimed at the Hooters crowd, it is the fine appreciation of a good Trini woman that is in order.  

    Titillation, flirtation and the conscious awareness of the power they hold over men is always in mind. While not every hot dance leads to sex the vague promise is always there and the scent of desire hangs in the air. In the end that is a big part of Carnival. While in the past the parade of costumes harked back to characters of myth and history, today the tiny sparkly bikinis, bedecked in feathers is another reason to celebrate the body beautiful.

    Perhaps it is the beauty all around them that inspires the dresses, the fashion, the effort. Colour is imperative here. Black is simply not an option. Instead, as I flicked through a rack at a local clothes store I realized my choices lay in the colour of gems. Brilliant blue, canary yellow, hibiscus pink, ruby red, diamond silver and plenty of gold. Fabrics that shimmer and drape, clothes that stretch and reveal. The Western concept of the perfect body goes out the window; who needs to be tiny? Tiny is good but any body that is shown off and celebrated is better. Shy white men on the beach look around in adolescent glee as women don’t hide or fret over their bodies but rather strut and flaunt, often with short sarongs dotted with gilt that seem to shimmer and sing as the girls twitch their booty and walk the beach, ever aware of watchful eyes.


    Filed under I have no idea where to put this, Travel, Trinidad & Tobago