Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Big 40 and burkinis

I turned 40 last week... yes FORTY... I really can't believe it. I can still clearly recall those days when I thought 20 was grossly old and now I am 40 and I have a teenager. Where the HELL did my life go?

It is kind of scary being 40. The main thing that worries me is security. By now, most people I know who are my age and - let's face it - younger have started to prepare for the future. I haven't been able to do that. I have NO (yes you heard me right no as in zero) savings, nor do I own my own home. In fact, all I do own is my crappy furniture, an even crappier car... and a gender confused cat who attacks my feet at precisely 4:30 am every morning.

I was really dreading my 40th birthday for many reasons. The first being the most obvious - that it was 40 - not a number most people (especially women) look forward to turning. The second being that I am here all alone. Turning 40 is bad enough, turning forty all by yourself is even worse. Luckily I expressed my fear of spending my birthday alone to a friend and he arranged a lovely surprise for me. I ended going to Oman and spending the weekend on the yacht of Omani Sheikh along with a few other people. Our host was very gracious and gave me his room on the yacht - the nicest room with a bathroom with spacious tub. We traveled along the Omani Coastline and went to one of the only places in the world where the giant sea turtles go to lay their eggs. There were baby sea turtles scrambling about all over the beach - the poor things need to safely make it to the water, but get disoriented easily. We had a barbecue in a traditional fisherman's hut where we feasted on freshly caught and grilled Omani rock lobster and hammour. It was delicious - a couple of baby sea turtles, attracted to the light joined us, and were scrambling about on the woven mats on the floor. After that we walked along the beach and found three mothers in the act of laying their eggs. Apparently only one out of 100 of the babies will survive to adulthood. I have a feeling the little lost fellows who joined us will not be among them :(. The sheikh told us that the week before, he and some of his posse had gathered up buckets of the little guys and taken them to the sea. Normally, most of them never even make it to the water as they are eaten by hungry sea gulls who just wait for this time of year to feast on baby turtles.

Some of the guys went fishing and caught a 100 (or was it 200?) kg shark, and we all went swimming and jet skiing. The Omani coastline is quite beautiful and towards muscat you have old castles on the cliffs overlooking the water... built by the Portuguese back in their heyday.

I haven't been swimming/ to a beach in ages. I have some problems with sun - photosensitivity - which doesn't actually mean i burn easily - because I don't - i just react badly to the sun at times. So I have avoided it for several years and consequently am as white as a ghost. One of my big fears before going on this trip was the issue of swimwear... I don't enjoy enjoy wearing bathing suits. I didn't enjoy it back when I was young and had a perfect body, so I certainly don't enjoy it now. It just always has (and still does) felt weird to me to walk about in something that is no bigger than my underwear. I wouldn't wear my underwear in public, so why it suddenly is 'OK' in beach context escapes me. So I actually went in search of a burkini, and I did find a sportswear store that sells them. Unfortunately - they were truly hideous. I am not Muslim, so I don't need the head gear part nor do i need to cover every inch of skin above my ankles and wrists. I just wanted something more modest than a bikini, but also somehow stylish looking - this does not seem to be on offer in burkinis. There were different styles - but they all had ugly prints or weird cuts, so I wandered about in the sportswear section for a bit and what ended up getting was a couple of tennis skirts with built in shorts in bathing suit type material that about 2/3 of the way down my thighs and a couple of t-shirts and tank tops in the same material. I think it did quite nicely, but it got me to thinking about burkini and bathing suit design, and think there is an untapped market out there for more modest BUT sleek/stylish/attractive looking swimwear for women of all kinds - not just Muslim women - who don't feel comfortable prancing about in a nearly-nude state in public.

2 comments:

Explore said...

Happy Birthday!! 40 is very young, don't waste time thinking that it's not because the way you're looking back on being 20 now you'll look back at 80 and wish you appreciated being 40 haha.
Your birthday trip sounds amazing :-) turtles are so cute.
P.S. Agree about the bikini thing. Even for women who don't have modesty issues, it would be a relief as the majority of women stress out and starve themselves before summer just to look good in a bikini they feel they must wear. You should start an alternative business! You see a gap in the market, go for it :P

Jasmine

Anisah said...

Happy belated Birthday. I feel the same way. I am 43, and do not have a job, my own house, savings, or a good car.

I would get long shorts and a tshirt or something like that.

Anisah