Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

a work by nusret colpan depicting the islamic ...

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This time last year, I was beginning to think about voluntarily deploying with the TN National Guard to join the war efforts, mainly to get a steady paycheck. I had no love of this Arabic culture, which was a culture to me just weird, and even a little eerie. All of that strangely played music and singing. The strange dresses, even on the men. Just.. eww..

Well, here I am, a year later, with nearly that long of time spent in the countries of Kuwait and Iraq. I am amazed at the place these people have in my heart, and I do not speak lightly when I use the word “amazed.” I felt so proud to be in this region when the Iraqis went to the polls and voted.

“Iraqis are not afraid of bombs anymore,” said Maliq Bedawi, 45, defiantly waving his finger, stained with purple ink, to indicate he had voted, as he stood near the rubble of an apartment building in Baghdad hit by a huge rocket in the deadliest attack of the day. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/world/middleeast/08iraq.html?_r=1

The people have earned my respect with their big hearts. Sure, they are still learning how to have a working government – dare I say we are still perfecting that concept in the United States?

One of the best classes I have had here on base has been “Arab Cultural Awareness,” taught by a raven-haired Arab-American woman with a bubbly personality,  and I would like to share with you some of my chicken scratch notes, and formulated thoughts.

  • Culture – shared tradition of beliefs.
  • There are 22 Arabic Speaking Countries, which share language, traditions, and customs, separate from religion.
  • There is a lot of hand shaking going on. Every time they see a person, it is with the looong hand shaking, small talk, hospitality. It would be rude to do otherwise. Men will shake hands with each other. A man will offer a woman the top side of his hand to be polite, yet remain clean himself from touching the woman’s palm.
  • The 5 Pillars of Islam1.) Prayer, 2.) Pilgrimage, 3.) Testifying there is no God but Muhammad, 4.) The Fasting of Ramadan, 5.) Tithing, Charity.
  • Orient yourself to prayer time. Dawn prayers, noon prayers, afternoon prayers, evening prayers…about every three hours. This may explain why a person has to wait longer at certain times of the day for a cab to the airport, etc.
  • The Sunni follow teachings of Muhammad / The Shia believe the succession should have gone to Ali.
  • Algebra is from the Arabic Nations.
  • The country of Kuwait (where I am currently stationed), is a Constitutional Monarchy with a Parliamentary System of Government, which was recognized in 1961 from the Arab League of Nations.
  • There are many languages spoken in Kuwait, including Tagalog – from the Philippines, Tamil – from Sri Lanka,  Urdu – from Pakistan, and Hindi – from India.
  • There exists a multi-tiered citizenship system. All non-Kuwaiti residents would be no greater than 4th class residents, which is say what I would be, if I chose to live as a civilian in this country.

What I drew from this class,  from my mental notes that went beyond my notebook, was how there are safeguards built into the Arabic culture to protect the women. It is not a matter of them being lesser, it is of the women being separate. It is something that our liberated Western culture has difficulty grasping as good and normal. But for the Arab people, this is how they see fit to live. I do not have to live by the culture to respect it, as I do not have to live by the 5 Pillars of Islam to be able to respect them, and appreciate the great devotion its people have.

So many of our grievances come from a lack of understanding of other cultures. It takes effort to understand ideals other than those that ring true in each of us. But I truly believe it is worth the effort. Hmm…perhaps if Obama would bring Eastern and Western world leaders together to share tea, shoot, even some special brownies made from the herb that grows so freely in Afghanistan where we occupy…..maybe, just maybe, they would have moments of resistance being lowered enough to appreciate the God-given glory in each other.  These people are our brothers.

That is all.


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A Monument at Mt Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN

My first encounter with this wonderful place was when I took my kids to an annual fundraiser for Mt Olivet Cemetery, The Confederate Cemetery Illuminated Walking Tour,  conducted by re-enactors in period dress. It is an amazing thing to walk through a gently glowing cemetery, the shadows play, the cold October night air begs for us to dress in layers again. We treated ourselves to a cup of hot cider to warm our hands through the Styrofoam cup. The most memorable re-enactment  for me is of wealthy businesswoman and associate,  Adelicia Acklen who married “once for  love, once for money, and once for the hell of it.” She is buried with her three husbands in a mausoleum, and it is quite interesting when each husband re-enactor follows her out of the shelter one by one on this tour.  Ah, I simply must go back there again!…I will have to wait until 2011 fall tour, as I am in Kuwait until December 2010 – a completely unrelated side note, but it’s my blog, haha, so I it is okay to mention that here.

For a while I had been wanting to take a camera, and perhaps a couple of willing subjects to the grounds there during the day and see what kind of wonder we could co-create on film. One key to an enjoyable afternoon with the camera is that everyone being photographed feels inspired as well as the photographer. So I try to keep my digital camera on hand for when I sense that everyone is on board with me, and then the fun really begins. I will say that this day I took my camera to the cemetery, nearly everyone had the shutter bug, minus my younger daughter, but we went with it anyway, in hopes of something good being made. I am satisfied that we got that.

This is Carlie, my youngest daughter. She was a trooper, I will give her that, and this picture was loosely posed, but mostly caught candidly, because she had already found this place to perch while her sister was on a mission to explore the tombstones in the immediate area.

I handed the camera to my oldest daughter, Brenna, and she snapped this quick photo, which had wound up to be one of my favorites for use as an avatar on my websites. While she was taking this picture, Carlie decided to join us in exploring the grounds, and her good eye found something so interesting! It just might have been the picture of the day.A small statue proved to be a simple resting place for this Daddy longleg. We took a few moments to linger and watch in wonder at the oddity we were viewing. The girls then continued on and read the tombstone of an 8-year-old girl.

A game I played with my camera – trying to see which angle would render the most obelisks and tombstones in my frame.

The tombstone of a Margaret Ray had been leaning this way against a larger stone named “Husband” for quite some time as indicated by the dirt and well-rooted Fescue around her base. I think this is a precious message of lasting love.

As Brenna was taking a break from exploring, to rest in the thick summer air, I caught her on film, and am quite happy with these results. A friend suggested I return to this location when there are no leaves on the trees and try the photo again, which will showcase the subject more. I think I will give it a try…I was looking for a reason to get back here with my camera. When I return to Nashville, it should be perfect timing for another round of outdoor photos.

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