Thursday, July 18, 2013

Khamsin! (or, Why my house is filthy and I'm covering my entire head in public)

Exhibit A: This front porch was swept and mopped Tuesday evening. This is how it looked Wednesday morning.

So I just got back home to Djibouti after about two months of traveling.  I've got lots of travel stories, but more about that later.  Right now I want to tell you about my first July in Djibouti.  I'd heard all sorts of horror stories about the heat of Djiboutian summers, so I'd braced myself for the worst.  Stepping off the plane this weekend I thought "Well, it is hot, but it's not that hot what with this strong breeze."  Thus began my introduction to what many around here refer to as the khamsin winds.

What is the khamsin like?  Well, imagine standing in front of a giant industrial fan... only then imagine that the fan isn't blowing just air; it's blowing hot dirt and sand at you.  Yeah, that's Khamsin.  According to Wikipedia, the name comes "from the Arabic word for "fifty"... these dry, dust-filled windstorms often blow sporadically over fifty days, hence the name." The amount of dirt the winds blow into the house is incredible.  Any effort to dust or sweep it all away is a lost cause.  And trying to accomplish anything outdoors (like, say, shopping at the produce market) is miserable;  the sharp winds sting exposed skin, make the eyes scream and coat the hair in filth in a matter of seconds. 

It now makes perfect sense to me why women from this region of the world would decide to wear a long dark robe to cover all their skin and their nice dress and then wrap a scarf around their heads (and why they would assume that anyone who didn't do likewise was showing off her body----kind of like those undergrads who go out in miniskirts on freezing January nights in DC)  This isn't about modesty, folks; it's about weather-appropriate clothing over vanity. It's got me thinking that perhaps some of those passages in ancient religious texts about women covering their hair in public would be like me thinking "Dang Girl, put a coat on!" 

Just something to consider...

Exhibit B: Since I didn't want to wash my hair again and my daughter just broke my new sunglasses, wrapping a scarf around my entire head (I could see through the thin fabric) was logical thing to do when taking the dog out for his walk today.


1 comment:

  1. Yet another reason why Parker is glad to be back in Kentucky.