Monday, September 22, 2008

I hate shopping

Obviously, there is something odd about me. Women are supposed to love shopping, especially for clothes. Women are supposed to love fancy clothes and weddings and dancing and all that stuff. But I seem to have been born without that gene. I even hated clothes shopping when I was a teenager. My favorite place to shop was in my sister's closet. She liked to shop and brought home the nicest clothes. I would look at her wearing them a couple of times, and if I decided I liked the way she looked in them then they probably would be ok on me. She liked to shop... she could go buy more. ;-) My oldest daughter is like her. "Shop 'till you drop" is fun to her, not a threat. And she is good at it too, and finds lots of bargains.

Well, Miss Shop 'Till She Drops is getting married in less than a month. And oh my goodness there is a lot of shopping involved in getting married. In this culture, the groom pays for almost everything. Not only does he have to buy the wedding dress and gold jewelry, but he also has to buy his bride a new wardrobe. Some of everything. Suitcases full of new clothes. Then he has to buy furniture and rent a hall, and feed the guests. He pays for it, but she usually goes shopping with her mother and future mother-in-law. We went and chose the dress the week before Ramadan. It was too hot, but it was almost fun to see my daughter trying on wedding dresses. She looked so happy. And lovely. And I am pleased to report that I didn't cry even once. In public at least.
After the dress was chosen, well, that's when my enthusiasm ran out. Sure I want to see my daughter get all the pretty stuff she wants, but I would rather not have to walk all over creation to do it. Luckily, I got out of my motherly duty after only one day because they decided to shop in Jerusalem and I don't pass the checkpoint. So they finished it without me. I am sure I should be sad, or at least guilty, but I am not.

I always thought people here were to into the gold jewelry, but my daughters are not. Neither of them likes wearing gold much, but my older daughter loves the bling bling stuff. Which is fine, since the bride is supposed to get one of these rhinestone-y sets to wear with the wedding dress before they give her the gold. I am usually content to go along with whatever local customs are if they are important to other people, but there is one custom I just cannot tolerate. A lot of the weddings I go to have one part where the bride sort of sashays around the stage to the beat of a drum holding a Qur'an in a weird, fuzzy white cover. I have no idea why they do this. I don't think it is a custom for all Palestinian families, maybe it's only the Khalilis who do it. (Khalili = someone from the city of Hebron, which is called al-Khalil in Arabic. My husband's family is originally from there, although my husband was born in Jerusalem.) Anyway, I always found this custom inappropriate., and told my daughter that I do not want her to do it. We saw these examples in Ramallah. It looks like they are not whole Qur'ans but just 2 pages on a base that looks like a book. But look carefully at them. They have glitter hearts glued *on top of* the page, on the writing! A'uthu billah! Who thinks this is appropriate? These*will*not*be*at*my*daughter's*wedding! My biggest headache now is that I have to get a dress. No, I have to get at least 2 fancy outfits. My daughter will not let me wear my plain old black jilbab. Unfortunately I am a little on the big side. OK, not a little. And I am also taller than the average Palestinian woman, although I wouldn't be considered tall in the US. My sisters-in-law mostly come up to my shoulder. So finding clothes for me is a headache. I was hoping to get a nice conservative suit, or a plain dress with a pretty jacket. No luck. We went to the shop where I bought a dress for the engagement party last winter. That time, I got a rather simple brown dress with brown sequins on it. We went to several shops that had fancy falahi (village) and Khaliji (gulf) style dresses. My daughter insists that I choose something fancy, and glittery.I like the traditional embroidered dresses, but no one in my husband's family wears them. It's a falahi thing it seems, and his family are "city folks." But I would love to have one of the cross stitched dresses anyway. Many of the women in the village I live in wear just gorgeous hand made dresses as a regular thing. I fell in love with the machine embroidered green one below, but they didn't have my size. I don't think my daughter would have thought it was fancy enough for her wedding anyway.
I love-loved this faux calligraphy embroidery abaya we saw, but of course that wasn't fancy enough either.This dress fit, just. She didn't seem to think it was fancy enough. Everything that fit and I thought was comfortable looking wasn't fancy enough.I kind of like these two. They were a little snug, but the lady in the store said they could be let out. I wish the burgundy one didn't have those big gold jewels. The fabric is kind of shiny although that doesn't show in the picture, and it is supposed to be wrinkly like that. I hated the pink one, but the brownish might be ok.
The problem is that I like looking at this stuff, but I really want to buy it and hang it on the wall to look at, not wear! I wish my big sister could come and wear them a few times so I could decide, lol.
We also looked at fabric. I can't understand why fabric stores here are so small and have such a limited selection. I miss shopping in the US. The problem is I am not too confident about trying to make a fancy dress for my self. I am an ok seamstress when I have a pattern, but I don't have a pattern for a nice jacket. And I would be nervous cutting into an expensive piece of fabric. The dots on the fabric in the picture below are all glittery, but it didn't show in the picture, so I "photoshopped" some glitter into it.We spent the day shopping, and I still have no idea what I will wear. I didn't spend this much time on MY wedding clothes.

Something I noticed about the wedding dresses here. None of them have sleeves. They are all strapless or have narrow straps. You can buy little bolero type jackets to go over them for mixed weddings, but the weddings in our family are segregated. The bride wears a long hooded cape over her dress when entering and leaving, and during the short part of the party when the not closely related men will come in to congratulate the couple. The ladies all show up in their abayas and jilbabs, but they shed those during the women only part of the party so they can dance, dance, dance. My in-laws love to dance.

My mother actually picked out my wedding dress. It was off white had long sheer sleeves and a high neckline. It was sort of Victorian looking and I wore an antique brooch at my throat. It suited me perfectly, and was much more modest that anything I saw in the shops here.

I got married in the US, and when we came here, my in-laws wanted to make us a Palestinian style wedding. I said "thanks, but no thanks." (Unlike Ms. Palin, we didn't take the money anyway. Can I get through a post without mentioning something political? Probably not.) I am just not into all this hooplah and fancy clothes and dancing. Ya Allah! And they are going to expect me to dance too! I forgot I have that to worry about too.

This last picture was taken out of a window in one of the buildings we were shopping in. It is looking north from the center of Ramallah. As you can see, Ramallah really isn't a big city. Before you get to the hills in the back you will see farms, not city. Actually, I think you can find fields of olive trees less than a 15 minute walk from the center of Ramallah. And I have seen a horse drawn cart going through the center of town and passing the Palestinian Legislative Council's building many times, although I never manage to get a picture of it. And it is not there for tourists or something, just regular use hauling stuff.


UmmFarouq said...

Just shopping for bro-in-law's wedding last Spring almost sent me into a coma. I break out into sweats in the shops. (and I don't mean comfy pants)

I agree with you: do not wear that pinkish color. Reminds me of the first dishdasha my in-laws sent me in the U.S. I wore it out, once. People laughed at me. Never again will I don that bismuth pink.

Wish you could come to Amman for a long weekend. We'd fix you up. Ammanites are not quite as blingy as Khalilis, I've found. Oh, and that is a first for me with the fuzzy/flowered Quran...I'm with you on that one, too.

My dear friend even owns a store full of American dresses. I found many tasteful mom-of-the-bride outfits here. For some reason I'm drawn to them. I guess that's because I have three daughters.

Thinking of you!

Unknown said...

Oh my dear. I feel for you. I confess to having the same problems with what is expected of me, but my little foible is that I just don't care what the others think. I do my own thing. If I don't want to wear it, I don't. I don't dance, I don't eat their cake (ugh) etc, etc. I have heard so many American Muslims talk about these things and they all confess to bending over backwards to make the 'family' happy. Well, so sorry. I am not interested in doing what they want when it is not Islamic at all. I am not looking forward to the day I will have to fight with someone about the daughter's wedding. The funny thing is, my daughter thinks it would be cool to have a wedding on a beach or in a park. And I haven't said anything about doing that to her. So, you can see, we are going to have some wonderful issues when the time comes. May Allah send us a man and family who can deal with us. InshAllah. Ameen.

Congratulations. InshAllah it will be better than you think.

alajnabiya said...

I am actually very good at ignoring people and doing things my own way most of the time. I have avoided weddings as much as I can in the past. They play the music so loud that you can't even talk to the person next to you. And when I do go, I sit there in my jilbab and scarf and never get up to dance. I don't like to dance, I don't feel comfortable dancing, and there is no way I am going to let anyone videotape me dancing. But this is my daughter's wedding, and that makes everything different, doesn't it? If I refused to dress up and participate, she would feel slighted. So what can I do? Childbirth sounds like more fun to me than 3 days of dressing up and parties. And hair dressers. And arguing with people about me wearing makeup. And then my baby is going to move to the other side of the wall.

Umm Farouq, I wish I could go to that shop with the American dresses with you. Do they have big sizes? Or I wish I could shop in Saudia, because my sister-in-law is always telling me that she sees lots of large sizes in the shops when she makes Umrah.

Thank you both for commenting.

MommaBean said...

Hey, I'm a broken girl too! I'm totally missing the shopping gene. My best friend always accused me of shopping like a boy (you know, I need a skirt and I go in kill the skirt and drag it home to the cave...). Sorry for your woes in finding an appropriate dress and I can't imagine anyone who would look good in the pink color ;). Here's wishing you a minimal dancing, non-make-up-wearing, nice dress finding wedding!

Coolred38 said...

My goodness...I could have wrote this post myself....we are so similar in what we like and dont like. I do not like girly girl stuff...make up...jewelery...blingy dresses etc. If I could get away with wearing a nice top over new jeans...Im there.

My daughter is getting interested in marriage and has decided she would like something traditional (Arab style) mixed with the fairytale broohaha she sees on tv coming from the West. Im secretly considering encouraging her to elope just to save me the headache of stomping all over the island looking for the perfect expensive dress that will only ever be worn if money grows on trees...sigh.

I dont do dancing...period.

Yes...the music at weddings is loud enough to let astronauts get down with the

goodluck....and Im sending you oodles of patience...just remember to send it back when its my turn.

Katherine said...

Actually a root canal is more fun than wedding stuff.
My daughter married a methodist family.They don't dance.Not one of them.I still have nightmares about it.
I want to come shop for embroidered dresses!They're beautiful!

Susie of Arabia said...

Oh, dear, you have my sympathy. I am just like you! I think all that bling bling stuff looks okay on most people, but I would never wear it myself. I like what I like. And I prefer the embroidery to those ghastly huge fake jewels. But not TOO much embroidery, either! I always prefer going for comfort over fashion. Good luck to you in your quest. Hopefully you'll find what's perfect for you.
And I can hardly wait to hear about the details of the wedding ... congratulations!

L_Oman said...

I think if you were to ask other American ladies married to Arab hub's, most would say they aren't into the bling-bling. Are we boring? HA!

Congrats on your daughters upcoming wedding. I would be having a meltdown about every 7 minutes!

Masha'allaah to you! :)

alajnabiya said...

Thanks to all of you. It's nice to remind my self that I am not alone.

Maybe I am not quite as anti girly stuff as Coolred. I an not a jeans and t-shirts type. I wear dresses all the time, but I'm more comfortable in calico than satin and sequins. And I love embroidered things. I don't even mind a bit of jewelry, but definitely not a ton of rhinestones. I am still trying to figure out what I am going to wear. I may have to give up and make it myself, but I really worry that I won't do a good enough job.

My daughter's dress will be rented, not bought. We agreed that it is ridiculous to spend that much money on a dress she will wear twice. (it gets worn the day after the wedding at the mbaraka party)

As for the meltdowns every 7 minutes... I did that. I think I did mention on this blog that I actually cried all through the engagement party. I started to tear up in the salon (while getting a dreadful haircut), and I just couldn't stop. I usually pride my self in being a fairly self controlled person, and that was fairly humiliating. The party was in our house, and included a meal for about 60 people, and the kitchen floor drain decided to back up. So I got on the floor in my new dress and tried to fix it and then had to go outside and try yo unclog it from out there. When I came in I could hear my sisters in law talking about how awful it was that on top of everything I was dealing with that dumb drain. But the odd thing was, focusing on something mundane like that actually calmed me down. So I guess if I start to fall apart on the wedding day, I will have to go look for something that needs fixed.

Anonymous said...

Assalaamu alaikum

I like make up, dressing up and wearing jewellry but like the others who have commented I just can't do the oodles of gold and bling-bling! I do feel for you and hope you manage to find something that you feel comfortable in and that your daughters considers suitably dressy. You are the mother of the bride after so it has to be a bit special. :)

Never saw the furry Qur'an thing either. :/

Look forward to more pre-wedding and postwedding posts and hugs for you... is this your the first wedding of one of your children? I imagine it must be an emotional time especially since she will be on the other side of the wall.

Hugs, Umm Ibrahim

alajnabiya said...

I will probably post to whine about it more, lol. Thanks for the support. Yes, this is the first of my children to get married, and she is also pretty much my best friend and helper, so it is hard to think of her not being here every day. I wish you all could come to the wedding. My sister was hoping to come, when she thought it was going to be in the summer, but she can't come in October, so no one from my family will be there. Sometimes I feel so... ajnabiya. I do have 2 other American friends here who will be coming, inshaAllah. They are my substitute family.

Anonymous said...

as salamu alaykum

I hate shopping too! lol!