On the first day of September, such a fine and glorious beginning to the Spring, the ALCASA group met again with a fantastic turnout and plenty of new faces. Although our regular Beginners couldn’t make it for this month, it was wonderful to see the Advanced group only continue to grow.
Shane led an enjoyable conversation about his experience wandering through a souq (market) in regional Oman when he was there for a two-month cultural immersion with his Australian university, hosted at Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University in the capital of Muscat. This ended up being a very interactive, hands-on session, with many thanks to Shane and the many purchases he brought to show us all. To the delight of all present, these included a beautiful hand-embroidered kumma and masr (traditional Omani headwear for men), a jar of sweet-smelling frankinscence incense (bakhuur), and a very ornate gold watch presented to him as a gift from Sultan Qaboos University, decorated with a traditional khanjar (dagger).
After a brief but filling afternoon tea, where Richard shared his delicious home-made quince (sfarjal) paste, Fayrouz gathered the group for her cultural presentation. Disappointed by the poor selection of traditional Arabic clothing and costume available in Adelaide, she sought to challenge our views and conceptions of typical Arabic dress by showing us the wide variety and differences in the kinds of clothes people wear not only in different Arabic-speaking countries, but also within close-knit communities within these countries. Fayrouz’s many slides certainly opened our eyes and encouraged us to see beyond the black abaya (cloak) and belly-dancing costumes that are so often presented as the stereotype of Arabic-speaking and Arabic-cultured people everywhere.
A fantastic time was had by all in our September session, and we all greatly anticipate our next meeting in October.