Monday, July 16, 2007

Pomp and Circumstance!

I recently had a fun Arab experience that I thought I’d share with you. I got to go to the graduation of my friend Melinda. It was a crazy day!

We woke up at 10.30 (I had spent the night at her house the night before) ready to wash Melinda’s shirt, get her skirt fixed at the tailors, buy shoes for her, and get our hair done at the salon before 4.00. Did it happen before 4.00? Ha ha. We didn't even leave the house until about 2.00! That was the beginning of an exciting day. We rushed out of the house (late) in a car borrowed from the neighbors. Her dad is a clever man, but driving is not one of his main skills. We will talk about some of his skills later. Anyway, we got lost and barely made it to the graduation on time. Mel ran off while we parked. Then came the hard part. Getting into the grad. Apparently people actually want to go to graduations here. No one wanted to go to mine except for my grandmother, but even I might have wanted to go to my graduation if there had been drums and dancing and confetti. But not the massive crowds. We couldn’t make it in any of the doors, so we went to the main gate where Mel’s dad proceeded to use all of his influence, yelling at the professors lining up inside the gate to let us in. The guards were insistent that no one was allowed in that gate, and they were really sticking to their guns. But Mel’s dad was not giving up. He’s about 4 feet tall and he was taking on the big dude, insisting that they let him in to see his daughter. Meanwhile, Mel’s mom gave up and pushed her way inside the auditorium (she’s hefty and has sharp elbows). I followed with Mel’s sisters but we couldn’t make it. So we went outside just in time to see Mel’s dad finally get in through the gate! But he didn’t see us so we were stranded outside. Just when I was thinking that this might be a funnier story if we never got in, Mel’s “close guy friend” who was there with us, helped us force our way into the auditorium. We were standing up on the side where we could barely see Mel’s dad up in front sitting right by the stage. Meanwhile noise-makers and drums are going off like nobody’s business and there is a man on stage trying to give a speech. He asks for the music to be turned off and for the drums to stop, but they don’t so he keeps going on anyways. Seriously no one could hear him at all. Finally he gave up and started announcing names. We got out of there relatively fast after that to be greeted outside with even more chaos-dancing, singing, ululating, and candy-throwing. Apparently people throw candy and give out chocolates at graduations, a custom that I am very fond of.

Finally we left, but it still took us about 15 minutes to get out of the parking lot because no one wanted to give way for anyone else. But I learned an important thing that day—never wear high heels to a graduation. I was trying to be cool and fit in with the crowd but after 3 hours of standing, I was in serious pain. I usually follow the policy of never wearing high heels at all, but foot comfort is one of the sacrifices I am making for JC over here. Girls here love their fancy shoes and seriously look down on flipflops (in my opinion one of the greatest inventions in the history of fashionable footwear).

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