Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mouths Wide Oman

Seriously everyone, what's up with the staring? I have always noticed, but this year it seems worse. Maybe I've just gotten more sensitive (a definite possibility....).

Some say it's because I'm a woman.

Some say it's because I'm a foreigner.

I'm sure these are elements to the cause of the gaping, slobbering, vacant stares I've been getting. However, I don't buy it. Why not? As being a westerner in possession of a vagina seems enough reason....right? I said in my last post that I will never understand their perception of me. And that's true. I think, increasingly so, that is crucial to look at the rational and experience of the other side. But, what if there doesn't appear to be any brain wave activity on the other side?

In any case, I don't think being a foreign chick is the reason for these particular stares because it's not just me, and it's not just men staring at me in this way. Women stare at me. And they stare at each other. And the men stare at other Omani men.

Now, let me explain. This is a very distinct stare that I'm talking about here. This not the stop and point, giggling and talking all the while stare. While more active, this type of normal staring seems somehow healthy and is less perturbing. I'm talking about the stare of a cow shot by a stun gun. Eyes wide, mouth wide, and sometimes there is drool. Occasional minor retinal movement, but usually it is dead pan and missing any sort of intellectual activity. Not even negative judgment. Just nothing. It's sort of scary.

My husband describes it as saying it looks like their brains are disintegrating and any minute are going to start dripping out of their mouths. Couldn't be more accurate.

Now this is not everyone, of course. It is not even the slight majority. But it is nevertheless disturbingly frequent.

In Muscat it's rare, but the farther into the mountains you go, the worse it gets. Perhaps the most terrifying density of such starers was in a eastern fishing town called Khaloof. All I can say is run away. You might get nightmares.


beefriends said...

Look at it from the vantage point of your preceding posting. I mean, you have lived most of your life in a very mannerly culture that is full of social boundaries that folks tend to obey: middle America. So you're used to those boundaries. But picture a captive West African woman newly arrived in 1700's Virginia, about to be sold on a slave auction block, in shackles and naked, or nearly so. Wouldn't the eyes of the white men boring into her as she stood there seem to her to be crude, invasive, and animalistic, not to mention terrifying? So it's all about perspective, as you noted earlier.

Nadia said...

Join the club. I get stared at 24/7 by anyone who doesn't know me in Salalah. It's a big town, but they still stare at anyone who looks slightly odd. I wear the abaya and headscarf obviously, but I don't fit in 100% for various reasons. They're not mean stares; it's just that they're curious. Frustrating but true.

Clare said...

Yeah. It's pretty obnoxious, but more just confusing. I know they are curious, but a curious stare has at least a questioning look to it. These stares I'm talking about are lifeless. Seriously, like someone got tazered and was left looking in my direction.
Do you ever see that sort of stare? It's way worse the more rural you get.

Clare said...

Of course a slave up for auction would feel eaten alive by the stares anywhere in the world (not just 1700s America). While worse, that stare would likely be more analytical and intelligent (although more horrible). They would be picking and choosing which one to take. That's not the look I get. These stares are more reminiscent of the Appalachian country folk in the movie Deliverance.....know what I mean???

Undercover Dragon said...

we call them the Mouth Breathers...

And yes, it always has that Dawn of the Living Dead thing going on, incl. drool.

You're white (OMG), female, non-muslim, and thus:
- unusual
- not wearing an abaya
- a sex crazed vixen

I blame it on the lack of sex and too much porn...

Clare said...

Mouth breathers. I like it. I'm glad I'm not crazy being the only one who notices it.