hello hello! Well I am back from a trip and want to thank any of you who were worried that I stopped blogging because I had killed myself. Besides. My preferred method involves a car and a closed garage, neither of which I have access to at the moment.
...okay ANYWAY. I've been meaning to post about this for a while because for me any time I get to take my abaya off, it makes me feel that much more at home. When I first showed up I thought that I had to wear it any time I was outside the compound walls. And actually even this was a little matter of confusion for me: what exactly constitutes "outside the compound"??? Compounds typically have an outer gate and an inner gate, and "outside the compound" generally means "outside the inner gate" - and if you choose to disrobe or fling your buttons open (you hussy!!) between the outer gate and inner gate, you may have to prepare yourself for some confrontation with the guards.
Out in public, it may surprise you to learn that you are free to take off your abayas at restaurants, albeit you have to be inside a booth in the family section with the curtains drawn. Although A/C is usually so powerful in this country that you may want to keep it on. One unwritten rule is that in certain ritzy hotels and their restaurants, you may be able to take your abaya off, but the safest thing to do is ask management first, though I would recommend keeping your shoulders and knees covered. For international departures and arrivals, there is also leniency. And if you are a golfer, you are also expected to leave your abaya in the car. Please don't quote me on these things as hard and fast rules, but these are just general guidelines, and if a muttawa shows up and asks you to cover yourself, I have a hunch that he will not be interested in hearing what you read on the internet.
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