By Kevin Stoda, Dhofar, Oman
Although I have traveled to or lived in more than 100 countries over the past 4 decades, I still run into culture shocks. (This is part-and-parcel of my personal lifelong learning project in any case. In short, I am committed to learning about new places, ways of life and different ways of thinking.) Culture shocks used to take me down--get me depressed for quite some time. However, nowadays, I usually try to take the bull by the horns and turn things around as fast as I can, i.e. chalking such "shocks" all up to experience and to the fact that the planet is filled with thousands of cultures. If we are all going to get along, we have to be tolerant and open to different ways of doing (and thinking about) many things.
I want to share the following anecdote about an experience
in a men's locker rooms at a major international hotel chain, a hotel which is
not far from where I live in
The Arab world is far from being a unified culture. This is something almost any guidebook will note. Such a situation is inevitable when one considers that there are some 22 countries which speak Arabic or Arabic dialects as their primary language of communication. Nonetheless, even though I have lived and worked in Arab countries most of the past 15 years, this diversity within the Arab world is something that I can forget or fail to take into context from time to time.
I need to note that I have worked in
Quite obviously, swimming procedures for females in the Arab world are certainly more proscribed than the procedures for males. In many of the stricter Islamic countries, women must swim fully clothed. Whereas, men can simply wear shorts in most places. On the other hand, bikini shorts are out in most any place for both genders and men often need to cover themselves with at least a robe or t-shirt when leaving the area of the pool or the beach.
Of all the Arab lands I have swum in, the one where I swam
in the most often was