Friday, March 12, 2010

Blog about Jordan day

We've lived here in the Middle East for over five years.  It's hard to imagine being anywhere else.  I often don't really think about the fact that I'm a foreigner - a guest in the country.  I've learned the language (to an extent), love the food, and two of my children were born here.   Our oldest is in a local, private school where Arabic is the primary language.  It's adorable to watch him practice for his upcoming assembly, sharing "ana ilmalfuuf"  (I am the cabbage), a presentation on vegetables.

When I meet new people, they often ask, "where is home?"  I usually answer, "home is here".  This is my home.  Of course I miss family and friends who are back in the states, and there are certainly days I yearn for certain characteristics of my passport culture, but I'm proud to say we really have made our life here.

I realized my friends understood this during a recent choir rehearsal.  The choir I sing with is an eclectic mix of locals and foreigners.  We've been learning some Arabic folkloric music, and it is just fascinating.  At one point, the director asked for the Arabs to sing a section once through, and then for the others to sing once through.  This was for her to listen to us sing and check to make sure we were getting the pronunciation and nuances of Arabic music.  Quarter tones are amazing, but a challenge for us Western singers.  An Arab friend turned to me and asked, "inti ma3na 'aw mahum?"  (are with you us or them?) .  I smiled.  Both?  She had given me the ultimate compliment.

So, thank you Jordan, for accepting me into your country.  Your friendship, hospitality, food, music, and grace are in abundance. 

~ Um Tulip


Jessica Haley said...

So glad you have made a home for yourself there. It is so important. Funny, it sounds like I feel more like a foreigner here in Texas!

do you eat Za'atar for breakfast? I often have a craving for it.

Sharon M said...

Wow, quarter tones sung in a choir? I've heard individuals do that, but never as a group. It would be interesting to hear.

I, too, feel this split; one foot in one country, one in the other. People always ask us, "Are you looking forward to being HOME in the fall?" Is it home? Not really. It's my cultural home perhaps, but we've been living here for several years; this is where most of our friends are, our house, our work, the kids' schools, etc. It can be difficult explaining that to people.

abu 'n um tulip said...

Home is a confusing question. Really, our home is not even in this world!
We usually have American breakfast around 7 (cereal) and then Arab breakfast at the office around 10 or 11 (za3atar being a frequent 2nd breakfast). Lunch (dinner?) is around 3 pm, after I get home from work and cook.

As far as quarter tones go, we are practicing scales and melodies with quarter tones as a choir, but it gets more difficult when we try to embellish the music. Last week our good friend G was asked to demonstrate this for the group.

Funny, you two don't know each other but have a lot in common. Maybe you can meet when Sharon heads to the states for a bit this next year. You'll be in the same state, even if it is a big one.

~ Um Tulip

Sharon M said...

Depends on the direction from SA -- if it's north, we might be able to meet! I'll bring back some za'atar from the suuq here and mail it to her, in any case!

Kathryn said...

Nice blog, I admire how you guys have truly made a home there too. Of course, I miss you lots and lots, but I'm proud of you and know that one day, you'll be back here...somewhere...I think? Love you!