Thursday, December 18, 2008

Xmas shopping

It is that time of the year again. Xmas!

From the year I left home to live some hundred thousand miles away, I have been fascinated by Xmas and the spirit of giving. As a kid I used to love Xmas because it meant that I will receive some nice toys from my parents. But when I became independent from my folks-I thought the living alone part meant that I was becoming an adult and that I was independent- Xmas became more a holiday during which I could please my folks than being pleased by them. I remember doing some Xmas shopping to get the best things for my family and closest friends. I would spend money but I did not care because I was doing good.

In reality, Xmas had a totally new meaning for me: the loneliest time of the year. For once in my life, I did not have my family present in my daily life. I was living with strangers who were so different from me. And it took a toll on me. I always wanted to be free from family burden, I just could not wait to leave the nest, to fly with my own wings. However, all of the sudden, I found myself being lonely, and yearning for a kiss, a hug, a chat from one of my family members. I was becoming so depressed. And the cold weather added to my dark mood.

I found relief in Xmas shopping. I figure if I could not be at the family dinner table for Xmas in person, my gifts would represent me. So there I was hopping on the bus, the train, bracing the cold winter and the crowd to shop. I bought CDs, books, electronics, chocolates and stuff that I thought my folks would like. The shopping was more a therapy than a duty. At the end of the day, I was tired but satisfied.

Over the years, this feeling of loneliness during Xmas did not completely fade away. However, I found relief in spending Xmas with my own family (Hubby and Baby).There was nothing special during that day for us because my husband does not believe in Xmas. However, we always try to do something special because his birthday is near Xmas. We either travel or invite people for dinner at home. Just by doing something different with them, I do not stress over the fact that I do not get to spend Xmas with my parents.

The feeling of loneliness may have almost disappeared but my hunger for Xmas shopping has not. I do not know what pushes me to spend during that time of the year. Is it the overly attractively decorated stores with their recurring Xmas carols? Is it the set of nicely wrapped Xmas gifts? Or just the ambiance of the people around me? I do not know what it is but I always shop like crazy during Xmas.
This year on my Xmas list is:
- an engraved watch box for my Hubby
- two super soft bathrobes (one for my honey and one of me)
- an easel for my kid
- probably some fancy stuff for a romantic night (do not ask me what)
- and some groceries to make a very nice Xmas eve dinner or Xmas lunch.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Happy holidays

Monday, December 15, 2008

Moussor is not Hijab

I went back home for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends. While I was there, I enjoyed observing the fashion trends of the Senegalese Women. I was happy to see that more women were wearing the Hijab than back in the days when I was a teenager. However, their wearing of the Hijab was very interesting and unique to the Senegalese woman.

First, let me explain that the typical Senegalese woman is fond of fashion and dressing up. She does everything to get trendy clothes and accessories, going so far as to pay it in layaways. That is why, even though we are talking about recession and economic crisis, every woman is well dressed.

Second, Senegalese women enjoy wearing traditional clothes. We have a set of traditional clothes that we put on to go to work, or during special occasions such as weddings. The Boubou is a large piece of clothes worn over the body with a wrap around skirt underneath. The "Taille basse" is a two piece top and skirt generally made with wax cloth. The Nodcket is an empire waiste dress with oversized sleeves. And finally we have Kaftan or Jellabah designed clothes imported from Arab countries. All these types of traditional clothes are very colorful and made with very expensive cloths such as Thioub Ganila (dyied cloths) of imported silk.

My Christian cousins and I during Eid

With the dress of those traditional clothes come what we like to call the "Moussor". Moussor is a piece of clothes that we wrap around the head. It has nothing to do with the Hijab because it does not usually cover the whole head and neck. It can be worn very simply or elaborately depending on the occasion. Nowadays, the Moussor is such a craze that some hair salons specialised in it. A lady, dubbed the Queen of Moussor even makes some very artful Moussor like hats and sells it.

Senegalese Moussor from simple to elaborate (from

Although I do not know how to make a Moussor, I enjoy wearing it. There was a time when I hated it because I did not want to fuss. But now that I am of a certain age, I think it is very appropriate and elegant to wear it. The Moussor has become so popular that you can see it on young girls head even if they are not wearing traditional clothes. I noticed this trend while shopping around town. The sellers of the Sandaga Market (local market) were offering Pashmina style scarf for a very affordable price. Of course they are not real Pashmina but they are close to the real deal. Many women enjoy wearing those scarves around their head. My cousin would wear it everyday and match the color with her outfit.

Head Wrap with the Senegalese Hip Hop group Farafina

I started to imitate her because I was tired of having the same style of covering my head. I went to Sandaga and bought myself 5 colorful Pashmina scarves that I immediatly started to use. I found this way very interesting because I was in the process of wearing the Hijab. By using these scarves, I could still cover my hair and head without being too blunt about my wearing a hijab. People did not even notice that I started covering myself. It was so natural. Of course, there will be a time, when I will completely cover myself, and I would have to ditch this Moussor style. But for now, it suits me well and I am very happy with it.

At the beginning of this article I said that more and more women were wearing the Hijab. You could see them on the streets.More than ever, you can find shops for Hijab wearing women, hair salons, and even gyms. I even found an article about a Senegalese woman who was designing Hijab friendly clothes.
(read the article in French at

However, the particularity with the Senegalese style of wearing the Hijab is that it is not subtle. Many Hijab wearing women would wear shiny and sparkly Hijab that would draw attention to them. It may be pretty but is it not the purpose of the Hijab to be discreet? I do not want to judge because compare to others, at least they are covering themselves. Nevertheless, I know some people who may not agree with their styles.

It was good going back. I enjoy the fact that even though fashion is still crazy at home (some women do wear outrageous things sometimes), more and more women are thinking about covering up. And they are sticking to in spite of all the temptations. For that only I am glad.


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