Bus stops and eye contact

We waited for a bus to take us back to our hotel, from the King Hussein Car Museum (and incredible place, pictures to come). The family on the bench caught my eye. A two year-old and a four year-old sat in the laps of their parents. With a little one of my own at home, I went over to explore the similarities between our children. As I started talking with the husband I quickly found out they didn’t speak much English. I was asking questions more slowly, and loudly (you know how it goes), but suddenly, from behind her black vail came words I recognized.

“She’s two.”

I met her eyes through the small black slit in her head wrap. “My daughter is 18 months.”

I pulled out my phone and flipped through a few pictures. We all started smiling and we talked a little more about our children.

I boarded the bus, and waved goodbye to them through the window.

I quickly realized, this was the first time I had met a very conservative Muslim woman in the eyes.

These women are all around Amman, dressed with their entire bodies covered. Some with eyes showing, some not. I have interacted with many Muslim women before, but never had I known what the protocol and boundaries are for interacting with those very conservative women who dress in this way. In my desire to be appropriate I realized I had not even acknowledged them. I had not made eye contact. They had become invisible.

This has caused me to wonder who are those in our lives whom we overlook? What people around you do you need to simply make eye contact, so that they can have their humanity back?

Who is invisible in your midst?

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One response to “Bus stops and eye contact

  1. I’m thinking it all starts with assumptions. You saw the woman, but her apparel and cultural stereotypes made you think there was a barrier between you and her that you wanted to respect.

    Your story makes me think of the generation gap. Whether older or younger, even a 20 year gap is enough for many people on both sides to make assumptions about the desire or ability to make a connection.

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