Saturday, 26 June 2010

Why is one of my nicknames 'Princess'?

I will never forget one of the first villages in Oman I ever visited, somewhere in the middle of nowhere to me, a young girl back from her first trip to London. I was climbing the top of a crumbling old village house, pieces of date palm frond crumbling under my 2 inch heels. Why I was wearing heels for hiking, who knows, I was a dumb adolescent who was upset that she was stuck in Oman instead of staying San Francisco with friends, or left to her own whims in London.

I was pouty, I was a brat, and I was listening to my headphones, ignoring my stepfather the whole drive there as he pointed out this rock or that rock and explaining its importance to the geographical history of Oman. I got out of the 4x4 wearing a wide brimmed straw hat, white Oscar de la Renta suit jacket, and a brown printed silk skirt. I looked very European, while my newly inherited-by-marriage family looked very American, sneakers, tshirts, and shorts. I was SUPPOSED TO BE in AFRICA already, but they had deemed the country I was too visit too dangerous so they'd confiscated my passport. I wasn't going anywhere. PDO club was my new prison, and it was break, and all the kids my age were away but the Omani security guards that cruised up and down Ras al Hamra on their patrols. They, and one wadi dog, were my only friends. And my stepfather was pretty sure he didn't want me making too good of friends with any young Omani teenage guys, lol, though my mother couldn't understand that LOL, not even the PDO ones, for reasons I was too naivette & willfully rebellious then to understand. I was totally miserable, LOL. And I wanted to sneak off to the nightclubs and dance but I assumed boring Muscat had none, and my stepfather was too smart to tell me anything different. K, lol, you should have told me!!!!!;p I got out of the truck and kicked up some dust with my heels, wandering away from my stepfather on my own up a track to some abandoned houses with my camera. I wandered inside, the dust and the sunlight through half-caved in windows making a wonderful shot. That camera became my escape, and I focussed on my environment rather than my own life, that seemed so bleak and, for a teenager, the end of the world nowhere. No offense to Muscat, but to a sixteen year old, you aren't nearly as hip as London, or as sophisticated as San Francisco. I was in another world than the one I was used to.

Standing on a hill overlooking the village below, a group of Omani children and a few young women came running up the dusty track towards me. I put my camera away, confused for an instant.

Little boys and girls ran up along side me and the women talked behind their hands while smiling shyly at me. One Lady asked if she could touch my hat. I took it off to hand it to her and all the little kids started framing their hands together and pretending they were taking pictures. One little girl sat on my lap and she called me "Princess Diana". It was my short-blonde hair cut.
Little did I know Princess Diana had visited this village all those years before!

After that, pretty much through out most of Oman, that nickname kept coming up, and one Saudi diplomat remarked the likeness quite the sameI thought it quite a compliment that people thought so, though really, I looked more like a gawky Julie Andrews in the 'Sound of Music' than Princess Diana with that haircut. Gulf Arabs tend to be very liberal with complimenting a Western woman's beauty LOL.
Nowadays, far away from the days having to borrow evening clothes from my mother's closet [she was one of those people who liked to dress her grown children and sometimes we'd give in because the fights were too attrociously painful to do anything less (and honestly, I didn't care what I looked like in Oman cuz no one who knew me was here)] to go to the Intercon for drinks, and that short dyed blonde haircut, no one ever makes the reference. But Omani friends, such as the PDO guys, still call me Diana, or 'Princess' when they run into me. Or whenever we have to do passport runs, and the old photograph remains.

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