Monday, September 22, 2003

You are what you dress up to be...

The receptionist just asked me if I was a Muslim. All because I've started covering my head with a dupatta.
Back home(read Karachi, Pakistan) I always covered my head when in public, not a proper hijab but all the same I made sure I had a big dupatta draped all around me.
Both, as a student at the University at Karachi and later, as a journalist, I frequently traveled on public buses. I started wearing an abaya for some months but then the April/May heat of Karachi made me put it aside. I thought a big dupatta could serve the purpose as well. So in Pakistan, that was my usual hulya, even when some of my friends suggested I change it for a tad mod image, I refused to do so. I felt secure and more comfortable that way. When I went to Bangkok, I never felt the need for that kind of covered clothing, that is not to say I wore short skirts or tank tops, proper, fully covered, modest clothing that made sure I blended in with the crowd. A shalwar kameez, my preferred mode of dressing always had Bangkok dogs following me! When I came to Dubai, it was mix of both, shalwar kameez, long tops/kurtis and pants. What I did not do here and never felt the need to do was to cover my head as I did in Karachi. But five days ago, I felt like I should and so, for the last four days, I have been seen around with my head covered. And today, Annie, a Chinese receptionist at the Business Centre asked me why I covered my head? Was I a Muslim? While I felt proud to say “Yes, I am a Muslim,” I was also struck by the fact that anyone could take me for someone else. I have now decided that even if I am against an exhibition of my religious beliefs, I would take to covering my head, with a scarf, dupatta, whatever. I am and would remain a Muslim and want all the world to know me as one…those who stereotype…let ‘em!


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