The Burqa Experience: Bessemer, Alabama – The Accidental Start of the Project

The Burqa Experience: Bessemer, Alabama – The Accidental Start of the Project January 28, 2013

by Calulu

Bessemer Alabama – The Accidental Start of the Project

This holiday season I’d been traveling around the southern part of the US to see various family and friends. Our travels took me from Texas through Virginia, going through many of the southern states.

Initially I thought I would start my experiment during this trip but the realities of suitcase limits on the airplane shut down that thought very quickly. We were flying from Washington DC down to San Antonio Texas and driving my mother in law’s old car back to our house. The size of the case, the weigh limits with the airlines made it an impracticality so I gave up the idea and decided I would start here in Virginia after the first of the year.

As we were driving back we decided to stay the night in Bessemer, Alabama as I have a friend I wanted to see in nearby Hueytown, Alabama. Stopping at the hotel that first night was my first foray into veiling, and it started most accidentally. After checking into the hotel we had to drive around to the side where our suite was and carry in our bags. It was raining, righteously pouring cats and dogs and chickens, you could barely see through the deluge and we had no umbrella in the new car.

My husband is a manly man (or so he likes to think) chose to grab a suitcase and rush madly for the door. I took my long brocaded silk scarf, wrapped it over my head, throwing the ends over my back, grabbed the other suitcase and ran for the door. Once we were in the mirrored elevator my husband said to me that I looked fully Muslim with my head scarf and loose tunic. I could see he was right and I had to laugh, I almost didn’t recognize the me I know.

We settled into our room and waited for the rain to lessen and waited and waited and waited. It didn’t. I finally decided to make a foray out to get my toiletries bag and the bag containing food for the trip home. Wrapped up like before, with my scarf wrapped hijab style and down the elevator I went. On the return trip to the room I came upon two attractive middle class white ladies waiting for the elevator pulling suitcases behind them. I came up, waiting for the same elevator, smiled at each of them. Once the elevator door opened both of them froze, made no attempt to get into the large elevator. I got in and motioned to them to come forward, telling them there was plenty of room. Both said that they would wait for the next elevator.

Most curious.

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Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway

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  • Lyn

    I had a similar experience when my two teenage sons decided they liked Indian mens clothing and bought themselves a tunic and pants set each to wear last summer. They are both well tanned “Anglo” boys.We were at a local shopping centre and I was walking up to meet them and I heard a woman in front of me speak to her children and say “—-ing Muslims”. I was saddened and a little bit scared to see how much hatred a clothing choice can evoke in some people. (Australia)

  • SAO

    I think scarves are really useful. I live in Russia, where a scarf can be peasant wear, or Orthodox church-goer style, but I find it a pain that elsewhere a useful clothing choice has become a marker for a religion and culture that I don’t belong to.

  • How bizarre! They wouldn’t get in an elevator with you because you were wearing a scarf? Crazy! We have plenty of hijab wearing muslims in the UK. Burqas are rarer, although the the most common place to see women wearing burqas are the designer shopping malls! 🙂
    A question; do you read the Qur’an in English or Arabic? And if both, do you notice a spiritual difference between the two?

  • Saraquill

    Shame on that woman, teaching irrational hate to her children.

  • I have read bits of the Qur”ra in English but not the entire thing..