Saturday, March 2, 2013

the muscat festival

After we indulged in a restorative siesta, Gil came home and suggested we check out the Muscat Festival in Amerat. Since 1998, the Muscat Festival has been celebrating Omani culture in a month-long event which includes both traditional and non-traditional performances, the selling of local handicrafts, as well as demonstrations on how they are made, and of course, food.

We perused the food stalls, which all seemed to offer the same thing: crepe-like pancakes, boiled chickpeas, boiled fava beans, and fried bread— easy fair food. I scanned the row of ladies wrapped in colourful cloths, trying to decide who to buy our chickpeas from. What impressed me was how diverse the ladies looked— all were Omani, but some of their features revealed African roots, while others were clearly Arab. Gil explained that Oman was once a powerful empire which roughly stretched all the way from present day Qatar to Mozambique, a fact that had somehow escaped me. A bit shy to sketch, I found a face with a beautiful smile which I hoped I could at least photograph, and walked over to get our food from her. I greeted her with a timid salaam alaikum, and pulled out the number two in Arabic from my memory, hoping that more words would surface— but they didn't. She grinned, ladled steaming chickpeas into plastic cups, then pointed to some chili powder and looked at me with a raised brow. When I nodded yes, her grin widened and I got an "aywaaaa" of approval.

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