Friday, January 05, 2007

A place called Shleem and a girl called Qandahar


Three weeks ago I went on a camping trip with a group of friends to Bdiya (a Wilayah in the Sharqiyah Region in the Sultanate), and late at night on our first night there another 3 guys passed by to spend some time with us around the fire and bring up some gossip. Two of the guys were the cousins of one of my friends, but the third was a friend of theirs who happened to be a local. I was too tired and had already been sleeping by then just to charge up for late at night. But I was told all about this the next morning.

The 3 guys talked about a place called Shleem, which according to the description I've recieved lies somewhere in the southern part of the Wusta Region in the Sultanate, very close to Dhofar. It's said to be quite an astonishing place in terms of their culture and habits. They said if one were to visit Shleem, s/he wouldn't believe that it's an Omani city in the middle of nowhere. Shockingly westernised, up to date with modern technology and stood out from the rest of the surrounding cities. They owed all of that to the early years of the renaissance when British troops were allocated to certain parts of the Sultanate for various national security reasons. But above all, Shleem seemed to be known for it's amazingly beautiful women whose word of their captivating beauty has circulated.

A fact about Shleem that didn't seem too out of place to me after hearing the whole story was that they didn't practice all of the religious and traditional or cultural taboos when it came to their women. A man interested in a particular woman that he had seen out in the city streets was freely allowed to approach her, start to converse with her, get to know her politely, and he's allowed to do all that as long as he doesn't lay a finger on her and as long as the woman is content with it all.

What I found to be even more shocking than the story of Shleem itself, was the story of Qandahar. Not the city of southeast Afghanistan. Qandahar was the name of a girl, or rather the nickname appointed to her by her parents. Qandahar was a girl of unrivaled beauty and for that very reason she earned both the name of a city, and mind blowing fame that the girls of that city would dream of.

Allow me to rewind for a second and clear a couple of things up. In Shleem, girls that are beautiful and are thought to be in a league of their own are usually given nicknames that have to be the names of Arabic cities. If you're thinking to yourself that Qandahar is not an Arabic city, I had that same thought too. But who knows, maybe this girl Qandahar is just too valuable that they made an exception. And yes, I used the word "valuable" for a reason. What's interestingly odd about the people of Shleem is that they take extreme care in raising their chosen beautiful women, and they don't really seem to do it out of a parents love for their children, but instead it's like raising and taking care of a purebred Arabian racehorse. Certainly a prized possession as you are about to find out.

The reason the girls parents and her family take such good care of her, give her a nickname after one of the Arabic cities and spread the word in seek of fame is all done in the name of fame and fortune itself. I'm talking about the abnormally high dhowries that they'll be running after in return for their very own daughter. If right about now you're starting to think that this sounds familiar, then you might be in for a surprise. It seems that every now and then it's one young lady's turn in the limelight, where her reputation of her unrivaled beauty becomes so widespread that interested people from all walks of life head to Shleem hoping to be fortunate enough to ask for her hand in marriage.

It is said that the young lady that reigned supreme before Qandahar (whose name I can't recall now) was married off to a young fellow who just so happened to be the son of a filthy rich Sheikh. Better yet the dhowry was only R.O. 200,000, two cars (a Toyota Landcruiser for the girls father and some luxury sedan for the mother) and a brand new house. Coincidence? Haha. More like a devilish scheme.

Maybe after witnessing such careless acts of the ultimate example of the phrase "Money talks", one would start to think that those poor parents are not to blame. Then again that doesn't change the fact that you're in actual fact bringing up your daughter -your very own flesh and blood- in order to sell her?! But let's not forget the extremely poor lives and circumstances that some of these families could be living in and how much of a life flipping difference marrying their daughter off to a rich family would make. But yet again, weren't all of these acts prevalent during pre-Islamic times, and didn't Islam prevent them from taking place?

In the closure of this mind boggling post, I am only left with one thought...
"Qandahar, why don't you and I get together and take on the world and be together forever? Why don't you and I hold each other and fly to the moon and straight on to heaven?"

Hahahaha! Till my next post, take good care of yourselves and of eachother.
(Jerry Springer sucks!)

7 Comments:

Blogger TI3GIB said...

Well written, makes you wonder how far the story goes beyond 'gossip' ..

1/05/2007 9:16 PM  
Blogger Red Dragon said...

WOW!!!

seems interesting!!!

I will ask about it whn I go to Oman next time!!!

cool!! but the dhowry!! man I guess they have lots of un married women over there!!!

1/06/2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger Arabian Prince said...

Thanks, and you've got a good point there ti3gib!

Yeah I guess that is one of the issues that they have to deal with down there, but I suppose these abnormally high dhowries only apply to Miss Shleem of every year or something of the sort.

1/07/2007 1:50 AM  
Blogger Silent Waves said...

Intersting post, good to no abt this.

1/08/2007 6:51 PM  
Blogger Arabian Princess said...

Intresting!!! it sounds unbeleivable but oh well the desert holds unknown treasurs :p

1/12/2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger Arabian Prince said...

Thanks bluewaves :)

Thanks arabian princess, and the desert certainy holds hidden treasures ;)

1/14/2007 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anan said...

I'm wanted in that place. I ran away to tell everyone about it, and because everyone wants me there! I'm like..the village goddess! =P Nevertheless, interesting to know..

1/29/2007 9:48 PM  

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