Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Arabic

Is Woman a Bar of Soap or a Piece of Dough?

Women

I received a chain email that read in Arabic:
A woman is like a bar of soap. Her touch is soft. Her smell is pretty. But if you press on her, she bolts out of your hands. And if you step on her, you’ll slip and break your bones. My advice? Treat your bar of soap nicely. Long live my country’s bars of soap!

The brother of the sender responded, also in Arabic:
A woman is like dough. The more you knead her, the tastier she comes out. So my advice is to knead your wife, put the dough in a warm place, and trust in God!

I always found it interesting that men, the gender that for thousands of years has been the cause of most of society’s pitfalls are the ones who try to define women, the gender who gave birth to them and raised them. And don’t give me the story of Eve and the apple she ate. Let’s look at the atrocious wars, holocaust, massacres!

Many societies have thrived as a result of powerful women. Enheduanna of ancient Iraq was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad. She is the world’s first recorded writer. She was a high priestess in Ur of the Chaldees until after her father’s death, the new ruler of Ur removed her from power. Kubaba, a Sumerian Queen in ancient Iraq, is the world’s first recorded woman ruler in history. She was said to have reigned peacefully for one hundred years.

Matriarchal communities existed in the past, and there are a number of them surviving today. The biggest difference between them and patriarchal communities is that where women rule, there was and is no need for violence. When men are able to master how to run the show without killing each other, then they can begin to describe what a woman is really about.

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I Don’t Speak Your Language, But Let’s Talk!

Today two of my nieces, who are also sisters, each baptized her baby son. After church, we gathered at a lovely restaurant in downtown Rochester. Neither of my nieces’ husbands is of Middle Eastern backgrounds. One of them is originally from Central America. Well, he decided to have a little chat with my mom. Mind you, he does not speak Arabic or Chaldean. My mother does not speak Spanish or English.

They talked about totally different subjects. My mother raved about what a good person her granddaughter is and how much she loves her and he accused my mother of knowing more English than she leads on (probably doesn’t help that his wife, my niece, always felt like my mother is an undercover FBI agent who understands more than she has everyone believe). Yet even though their words hit in various directions, the two enjoyed some nice communication. And believe me when I tell you, it is not easy to get my mother to talk!

Goes to show, one need not know the same language in order to enjoy each other’s company or have a good conversation. One need only have a big heart.

With her grand-daughter's husbands
My mother with my nieces’ husbands

27 Years Ago

Babba

Twenty seven years ago today my father passed away. He was a very pleasant man, full of life and laughter. I didn’t get to know him too well, as I was a young teenager when he died (I knew he loved “Sandford and Son” and “The Jeffersons” and will never forget the way in which he laughed wholeheartedly as he watched each episode). He’d spent the majority of his days in Iraq working hard to support his eleven children. Then we immigrated to the United States, where he fell ill shortly afterwards as our family experienced a big struggle.

But I do know this – I got my love for books from his side. I remember him often walking around with an Arabic/English dictionary in his hand. He was a translator for the train station in Iraq. I also got my passion for education and my independence from him and his sisters, one of whom left the village of Telkaif to go study at the University of Baghdad. This was in the 1950s! Another aunt, who was a single mother because her husband went missing in some war, studied to be a nurse and became the midwife of Fallujah.

Well, I did not get to spend enough time with my father on this earth. But I am often visited by his energy, which especially during adversaries gives me strength to push ahead.

Easter Egg Coloring Burnout

Easter is coming up so I did what mothers do days before the great holiday – I had my kids color eggs. I prepared the table, had the six color dying tablets ready, adding a tablespoon of vinegar to make the colors more vibrant. Everything was perfect until my oldest niece, in an attempt to help me, knocked down the crystal bowl of green water. My entire kitchen tile was green and had shinning tiny crystal scattered throughout. I warned the kids to keep their feet on the chair as I cleaned up the mess. My niece rushed to the bathroom where I suspect from the length she stayed there, she was crying.

My son was crying as well. “I wanted the color green! It’s my favorite color!”

My mother tried to help by asking irrelevant questions like, “Why did you pick today of all days to color eggs?” And, “Why don’t you see why your son is crying?”

I gritted my teeth and brought everyone sandals as I continued to scrimmage for glass on the floor. In no time I heard complaints of “The eggs are finished! Bring us more!”

As if I could simply turn on the faucet and boiled eggs pop out.

On a more pleasant note – the custom of the Easter egg originated amongst the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. The Christian Church officially adopted the custom, regarding the eggs as a symbol of the resurrection; in A.D. 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed the following prayer.

Eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility, and rebirth, pre-dating Christian traditions. The practice of decorating eggshell is ancient. Ostrich eggs with engraved decoration that are 60,000 years old have been found in Africa. Decorated ostrich eggs, and representations of ostrich eggs in gold and silver, were commonly placed in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians as early as 5,000 years ago.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone!

Easter Egg Coloring 2013

Mommy and Daughter at Work

Like many of the women in my family, my cousin Amy is very creative.  Her twelve year old daughter has been following in that creative path since she was five or maybe younger. So when my kids and I went to their home yesterday to get a pedicure and a manicure for myself, I found the mommy and daughter team hard at work on yet another project (my cousin does umpteen creative things).

To the backbeat of Arabic music, she and her daughter were making jewelry for a women’s show she is involved in at St. Marino’s coming up on April 9th. Some of their stuff is really unique – such as the custom made rosaries that can be worn as a necklace or placed anywhere, like the car’s rear mirror, which Chaldeans are famous for doing. Each rosary is specialized with an entire family’s individual names. I love that!

As my cousin’s orange winged Amazon, Parker, gets to sit in a cage overlooking the attraction, it’s not difficult for him to announce his needs. Hey, orange winged Amazons have to eat too!

Parker