MashaAllahObviously, 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.