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I travel half way across the world the summer I turned 16. It was not exciting but as thrilling as watch a horror movie for the first time. For that summer I prayed it would be one I would never forget and make ever-lasting memories with my family.

When I found out my mum had planned a two day layover in Abu-Dhabi between flights, I bursted with excitement. How could we visit all the amazing sights within a 48 hour period? How could my mum, my brother and I all decide on places that interested us? Would I finally have the chance to visit the amazing Shiekh Zayed Grand Mosque?


On July 26th I landed on the desert surrounded tarmac runway amazed by the initial emptiness of the airport’s surroundings. I was eager to undo my seat belt and get out of the plane. The energy with me was rising knowing the time until we got to the sights decreased: we were first to go to the hotel, drop our stuff off, and then wiz off to the mosque. The climate was extremely hot and humid like the boys changing room after a game. We ordered a taxi from the hotel reception desk. Jumped in with exhilaration yet a sense of prudence remain as we knew the importance of manners.

And then we arrived – the guards at the entrance shuffling around checking and scanning bags and limbs. The door man grunted hello, and I pretend not to be occupied by anticipation.

The view threw me into astonish. My mum and brother’s jaws dropped as they reached to their pockets for the phones to capture the stunning architecture. My mother, brother and I waited to be let into the changing rooms to swap our clothing for a more respectable option. Everything seemed different; language, clothing, manners and looks. My brother questioned. Then we were rushed into the cubicles as we were handed floor length dark blue robes with hoods. “Dress”, one of the ladies who worked there, ordered, gesturing at the robe. I wanted to ask why bit that would be stupid.

As I walked through the door at the end of the cubicle I saw my mum and brother look straight up at the beautifully constructed white mosque, it looked even better in person – the photos don’t do it justice. “It’s a polite Arab custom to cover yourself to show respect,” explained my mother to my brother and I. I was looking down at my shoes with uncertainty. The guide showed us around the centre of the mosque where we removed our shoes. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and culture carved into the white walls surrounded by the glistening clear waters.

After everyone had dispersed around the main entrance, I urged my mum and brother to walk on towards the waters surrounding the clean white pillars only to be stopped in my tracks. “Hair! Hair!” exclaimed a foreign voice that I couldn’t locate. “Lady, lady you fix your hair.” “Molly, he is talking to you, quickly fix it” my mum uttered in embarrassment.

And even though I didn’t realise I was in the wrong until then, I suddenly stopped in my tracks with a furious security guard glaring at me waiting. I shied away in embarrassment and hid my hair along with my bright red face with the hood connected to the robe – it wasn’t until I left the thrilling monument that I managed to appreciate that fact that I was in the wrong and made sure I was to check for cultural manners and not only my messy hair. For summer that year and onwards, I have managed to steer clear of incorrect social behaviour.Written Task 1 Rationale Outline

My pastiche, Hair flying in the sand, is based on part 1 of the English course which focuses on language and culture. In particular my pastiche demonstrates an awareness of how language and meaning are shaped by culture and context. This written task is based on the short story, Fish Cheeks written by Amy Tan.

Despite the original story being about Amy Tan’s awkward encounters between her Chinese family and her crush’s American family at dinner I tried to honour her work talking about my own personal mortifying personal cultural manner moment in a short story. This occurred when I did not follow the proper dress code rules at the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Through this piece of work I hope to demonstrate the ideas lost in translation and how I suffered in this area of cultural manners.

The inspiration for my written task came to me as this situation occurred to me this summer and I thought it fitted the task perfectly as this was a consequence of misunderstanding of foreign language and culture. The narrator in my short story is myself with the intended audience as travels possibly interested in Abu Dhabi or Arab culture related.

As my written task is a pastiche I tried my best to follow the style that Amy Tan used such as long descriptive sentences linking to the explanation of the difference cultural situations for example, “I was overwhelmed by the beauty and culture carved into the white walls surrounded by the glistening clear waters.”. Additionally I tried to resemble the limited use of dialogue as I only had two paragraphs that included speech dialogue which in turn meant I had to be more descriptive hopefully showing the importance of understand context when using cultural manners.

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Kylie Garcia

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