Laura (Paris, France) & Mac (Houston, Texas)
This Friday twenty students from the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies traveled to the beautiful mountain town of Manakha, Yemen - which happens to be the homeland of our college's president, Sabri Saleem. After hiking a mountain and viewing a centuries-old cliff-side village (Al-Hajjara), it was time for a large Yemeni lunch, and most importantly, dancing. Sabri insisted that all of us participate; as you'll see in the following video, none of us were particularly successful at learning the Yemeni dance steps.
Sabri also performed, both on the drums and on the dance floor. In this video, Sabri performs a traditional dance with a jambia (curved dagger):
Here you'll see Sabri's drumming skills:
If you'd like to see more pictures of our trip to Manakha (which included the towns of Al-Hajjara and Huteib), click HERE.
Mac (Houston, Texas) [2010-07-22]
Today I was serenaded in the street by my favorite group of kids in Sana’a. It all started when they made their usual plea that I take pictures and videos of them. This time I tried a new tactic; I wouldn’t film unless they sang for me. They barely hesitated for a second and belted out several songs in unison. I recorded two of them. The first (below) contains a simple religious message; the main refrains basically say, “I love God…I live all my life for God.”
The second song is more complex and interesting. The basic message is that parents often contradict their own moral messages.
I’ve translated the words below:
So the image here is of a little girl or boy answering the house phone. The kid shouts for daddy saying, “hey daddy telephone!” But then the father tells his child to tell the caller that he’s not in ("I'm not here."). Without thinking twice about the consequences, the kid dutifully tells the caller, “My daddy says he’s not here.”
Now that’s a pretty clever way to deliver a moral message to both parent and child.
Mac & Collin (USA), Hosh (Turkmenistan) [2010-07-21]
Yesterday we were hanging out in the college's student housing when a loud and festive wedding dance broke out down the street. We couldn't help but go and take a closer look. All wedddings in Sana'a seem to involve some form of street dancing, but this group of four was particularly skilled.
Yesterday a handful of us gathered for a seminar on Yemeni Non-Verbal Communication. We learned that clicking your tongue once means "I agree," and twisting your ear means "a challenge." In this video, our teacher Abdul Kafi explains the meaning of flicking your nose. He says (roughly): "Especially in Sana'a, this signal [he flicks his nose] indicates something beautiful....or it can also refer to the beauty of a woman. If you ask someone, 'What's your opinion about this woman or that woman?' Then he'll say, 'ahhhh' [flicking his nose], 'ahhhh' [flicking his nose again].