Wednesday, 21 July 2010

"Sometimes I feel like I am a character in Jane Austen Movie"

I do not know know what it is exactly about being a young woman in Oman, but sometimes I feel like I am a character trapped in a Jane Austen novel, like I have gone back in time to the 1800s English countryside or something.
If you were a romantic I suppose it would be quite thrilling... and at times, my girlfriends from back home are quite jealous about the life I lead. I mean what other twenty-something from back home gets invited to places where women wears ballgowns and real jewels and men still believe in love in first sight, and one has, you know, a maid. [I don't, but I could afford to have one I suppose---and I am not considered 'well-off' by any means.]. Such is expat life for a twenty-something girl dependent upon her neighbors and friends in the Gulf.
For those of a more practical nature, such an existance would be seen for its confines, and if you were claustrophobic and more extroverted than I [introvert that I am] am, perhaps you would, like a young heroine from such a story, wish that life were different, that it retained all its simple romantic charms and innocence but presented the options of a wider, wiser world. Which we know, it doesn't.
Being in Oman, I am suddenly aware of something called "a reputation". Of things a lady must or must not do. Officially "introduced" to society, I may now be discussed by "other ladies". I am at times, like the character 'Elizabeth Bennet', sometimes derided, sometimes admired, for walking more than the average "Lady". I must be aware of this for my 'maritial prospects'. Due to my family connections being less than desireable, and my own financial standing nothing of great import, I am reminded constantly of things I shouldn't do. Leave the house too much, be alone without the company of other women or a man who can be protector. Almost everyone I know wishes me a "good marriage" and "soon". Happy go lucky match makers abound. I have been told to accept that a man may marry me for how I look or for how I dress, being his contact with me will be very limited and thus, that might be the only contact we get to determine eachother's potential for a 'prosperous match'. That term BTW, makes me giggle. I am not content with this. I require more of a man. There has to be that 'something'. I have to admire the man. I do not admire another soully for their shallow admirations, alas. I have also been told by other women, not every woman has the blessing of age and beauty and talented speach [like they infer I do LOL] to wait for such a man. But I would rather be a "spinster" which I suppose starts in the late 20s here?...then marry an idiot. You would think some women's soul purpose here when getting up and dressing and going to weddings and parties is to find a husband. I have been told to accept unfortunate proposals even though I am very young "for they might be my only hope" to support and provide for myself. I apparently need protection. I would not mind protection but the urgency I feel is always in others' not me. I won't marry for a villa and maids and a car. Some do. I do not judge them. Some women value things different. And yet I feel I belong here. My talents of dancing, drawing, painting, speech, reading, and sometimes song are admired whereas back home in my country more of less your college degreee and earning potential for a woman are important and your looks.Sometimes I DO despair of what one friend terms "women's talks" for they are not wholly intellectually stimulating, and while I do consider myself a reasonably religious and spiritual person, talking about "Mosque issues" is not the only risque subject I like to delve into.
I do not like waiting and feel there is far too much waiting expected of a woman (and dependancy) in Oman. But I enjoy being cared for and love the thrill of hand's simple touch when being for say, rescued, the only 'halal'/acceptable reason. There is a great Romance in that, stronger than the jump-into-bed kind. I get beautiful love letters here, though they lack the grammer and spelling of the Austen era (and whatever passes for the English language today). But at the core of all Romance is a dull thorough streak of boredom and restraint I suppose. That leaves us to fantasize more. Because we are bored.
As for the men of Oman, there are the gentlemen, the cowards, and the rakes, the "Mr. Willoughby's" the "Mr. Darcy's". I have known I rake (alhamdulilah I did not marry him), three of four cowards, one Mr. Darcy, and many other decent men. But cowards are many, and rakes, well, I am not the kind of woman they can pretend a long time with in most instances, but they prey upon my friends. It is impossible to describe how unreal it all feels at times.
And then, all at once, one can startled back into modernity, by a person, a sight, a thought, an idea, and the comparison of these two closely entwined worlds makes me dazed sometimes by Oman and her culture.
Am I the only one that feels like they are a character in a Jane Austen novel while living at times in Oman?

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