Saturday, July 25, 2009

Life in the Student Lane

Today I was a student and the person I spent the entire day with, my co-student, was a sista; a gen-u-ine  flaps-down, ninja turtle, sista.

The first thing she said to me was, "Do you use perfume?" I had ladelled the Arabic perfume on this morning and could be smelt from 20 feet. I knew I was being set up, but answered in the affirmative, "Yes I do".

She wanted to know if I liked men to smell me when I was out of the house. Again I knew this was part of the guilt-trip set up, but answered in the affirmative, "Yes I do". To which she explained, I'm sure to protect me but in reality, using a verbal red rag to a bull, "It's haram to wear perfume. What if there was a man with a bad heart and he had terrible thoughts about you because you are wearing perfume and he could smell you?"

I've been here long enough to know about the perfume thing. And the time has passed where I'm supposed to be responsible for the actions of men I've never met. I explained, in a quiet, but firm and dignified tone, "If a man wants to have those thoughts then he's the one having the thoughts and it's for him to control them."

The cheeky cat then started on the nail polish, but I interupted her before she could start, "Oh, I know about the nail polish, that's haram too." {for an explanation of Haram; see wgaw archive: haram} Then the other sista chimed in, "Only on some days". As my husband says, "You always know when a Muslim woman is having her period because she wears nail polish for a week."

Then the sista wanted to know what I thought of Islam. Well, that's a difficult question when you're not Muslim and just been told the things you do are Haram. I answered as best I could, "It's great, but it's not for me", then she wanted to know, "Have you read the Qur'an?", and to which I could answer truthfully, "Yes, several times."

That seemed to satisfy something in both of us, and we continued getting to know each other and even chose to sit with each other and share experiences at lunch time.   It turns out I quite liked her.

But back to the blog.  I'm not really sure why I'm writing this post, maybe because today's issue has to to with cross cultural mis-communication and the fact that even with all these years experience I could have easily made one big cock-up, communication-wise, this morning.

I'm wondering if it's possible to ever become 100% fluent at communicating in another culture?

1 comment:

Adventurous Ammena said...

im glad that you like her :) makes things easier dont ya think lol