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Married To A Bedouin
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'"Where you staying?" the Bedouin asked. "Why you not stay with me tonight - in my cave?"' Thus begins Marguerite van Geldermalsen's story of how a New Zealand-born nurse came to be married to Mohammad Abdallah Othman, a Bedouin souvenir-seller from the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. It was 1978 and she and a friend were travelling through the Middle East when Marguerite met the charismatic Mohammad who convinced her that he was the man for her. A life with Mohammad meant moving into his ancient cave and learning to love the regular tasks of baking shrak bread on an open fire and collecting water from the spring. And as Marguerite feels herself becoming part of the Bedouin community, she is thankful for the twist in fate that has led her to this contented life. Marguerite's light-hearted and guileless observations of the people she comes to love are as heart-warming as they are valuable, charting Bedouin traditions now lost to the modern world.
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It was as Mohammad guided us singing through rocky, oleander-crowded canyons that I fell in love with him. Why I hadn't noticed his quick, eye-crinkling smile the day we met I don't know but I noticed it now. He fixed his red and white mendeel, throwing the knotted ends up over his head into an exotic Bedouin turban and flashed me a smile. I was fascinated.

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About the Author

Marguerite is from New Zealand. In 1978 she met Mohammad Abdallah in Petra, Jordan, married him and moved into his Nabataean cave. In 1985 they moved to the new Bedouin settlement, Umm Sayhoon. She was widowed in 2002. She has three children.

Reviews

In 1978, a New Zealand nurse on holiday met a handsome Bedouin, Mohammad Abdallah Othman, in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan. Almost instantaneously, she chose to trade her free-spirited Western lifestyle for a Bedouin marriage, traditions and language she knew virtually nothing about, and a home in a cave with a breathtaking view. A romance novel? No--van Geldermalsen's autobiography. The author focuses on her transformation from an outgoing but unmotivated twentysomething New Zealander into a mature woman whose heart absorbs this often-mysterious culture. She lived in the Petra caves with her growing family until 1985, when Petra's inhabitants were resettled nearby (it became a UNESCO World Heritage site), at which point the author grows less interested in her story, adding only one chapter for her time since 1985. Her husband died in 2001. In the epilog, van Geldermalsen explains that "I have mostly remembered the good times, but that is how I like to look at life." Perhaps this should have been stated in a prolog, as her massive transition between cultures comes across as surprisingly smooth and sunny. Yet readers will enjoy van Geldermalsen's detailed and deeply human depictions of celebrations, motherhood, and more in Petra. Recommended for public libraries and for academic library browsing collections.--Karen Sobel, Univ. of Colorado at Denver Lib. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

'For anyone who enjoys travel books, especially about the Middle East, this is the read thing - a fascinating account of life as a Bedouin in the late twentieth century written by a Western woman' Mary S. Lovell

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