Sunday, November 1, 2009
I had a chance to attend a traditional dance performance by a group of Russians that converted to Islam in the 19th Century, the Karachays. The Karachays originated from North Caucasus which is South Western Russia. The people speak a Turkic language called Karachay-Balkar and can be found in Russia, Syria, Turkey and Kazakhstan. At the performance, people held green flags and the women traditionally wear white hijabs (head scarves). It was interesting to watch these people file in alongside the Arab majority because they had lighter complexions and it was clear that they were not from the same ethnicity as us.
During our journey to Safawe, we stopped in Mafraq and waited for Omar, the mudeer of the Badia Research Center to come and pick up Adan, Jesus and me from the bus station. Before embarking on the long drive to Safawe, Omar and his friend gave us a tour of the ancient ruins of Mafraq. There, we crossed paths with archeologists from Germany.
It is commonplace to find small children playing in the windows and watching the busy world pass by. My cousin told me that when she was small, she would spend hours in the window playing while Teta worked in the kitchen. Two children in a neighboring building took plastic bags, tied strings around the handles and watched them float in the breeze. Even before they are allowed to venture out into the world below, they are already fascinated with kites and constructs similar to them.