May 31, 2007

Smoking Scents & The fate of Local Tradition

A local woman burning incense inside the clothes of
a Polish journalist, to cover them in lovely scents.

In Sharjah, during the Heritage Village exhibition of "local life" both past and present, I met this lady in red. She is a Polish journalist and one of the women responsible for a lot of the work behind the exhibition. The world you meet is not one of fast cars and big mansions but of fishing, music and dance, honey, perfume and handicraft. A lot of cultures have been affected by globalization and modernization but as she put it quite bluntly;

"I know more about the local traditions of the UAE than most locals do today".

Fluent in Arabic, she walked around talking to the women of the countryside and Ras Al Khaimah, many who knew her well from her frequent visits to them. The women smiled as she approached them. Apparently the red dress she was wearing was traditional bridal wear and it reminded them of their own weddings.

How is it that the fate of local UAE tradition and its future is partially held in the hands of a Polish Journalist?

4 comments:

Destitute Rebel said...

Lol, great post I thought that lady in red was some local in her ninja garb, then I saw the hugs camera and started reading your post. Its really sad when a country's youth forget their own traditions. And its true what the woman told you, she probably knows more about the local culture then the locals do. I don't have much interaction with locals here in the uae but the young ones need to learn a lot about culture, respect, and tradition. I have seen several incidents where one wonders what has happened to the new generation in this country.

Jawahir Jewels said...

i also thought she was a local....

but its true that waht i realised about many ppl from the UAE culture tradition and roots r easily being discarded and are not important anymore

Usama said...

Local culture, just like the world over, is evolving. Even in Pakistan you have traditions like "car rukwaii" (brothers of the bride jokingly stopping the bridegroom's car for cash/kind) that didnt exist 60 yrs ago. The UAE is a very young country with a lot of locals belonging to different races altogether. It would be interesting to see the place after 20 years.

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

D Reb, care to elaborate more on the incidents you have seen?

Jawahir, that's very true and I think it is something one finds all over the place however in more or lesser degrees. I find it very sad because I feel we can move on in life and add to our heritage and develop new traditions, but imported global culture á la Starbucks and "Lost" at the expense of heritage is really sad.

Usama, of course they are a new nation but not a new people nor a new tradition. Nation borders have been drawn in many places and people have not lost touch with their past entirely yet here it seems increasingly that is the case.

I am not against new traditions or change, on teh contrary it is because people do not remain static that we have traditions, heritage, cultures and new ways of expressing or celebrating. But like I said earlier to Jawahir...what are they replacing their old ways with? Starbucks and Carrefour?

I have heard of joote chupai but not gari rukwaii! lol