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Interview with Nawar Bashir

Bashir, Nawar
Rashid, Umar
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Then and Now; Cultural Identification; Stories and Storytellers
Nawar Bashir discusses her favorite TV shows (cartoons and wrestling) from childhood. She also talks about the stories that her family told her.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Umar Rashid interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
UR (Umar Rashid): This is Nawar Bashir who is a permanent student here at UNCC. She was, uh, originally born in Kuwait and now she resides here with her family. Ah she's engineering, she's majoring in engineering and, uh, how long have you been here for?
NB (Nawar Bashir): Two years.
UR: You've been here for two years now, um, from Kuwait and, ah, um, and, ah, she's going to start to tell us some stories, uh, of the different categories that this interview is about so Nawar would you like to start?
NB: All right I'd like to say that, um, even though I was born in Kuwait I, actually like my grandparents were born in, um, Palestine and have lived in Palestine and, um, as I was growing older, I just took in a lot of stories about how they were in Palestine and, like, how much they loved living by the beach and everything. But then, after the war, they had to like move and they lived in Lebanon for a while, and that's when they decided actually to move to Kuwait. And, um, that's where I was born, and like during, during my childhood, that's like most of the stories I would, I would hear and have like my family enjoyed Palestine and where I was originally from. They usually, like they don't want me to like, um, miss out on my culture, and so, pretty much, I grew up living like a Palestinian not a Kuwaiti. But, um, the stories that they would, usually would tell me would usually change as I grew older. Like when I was four my parents made this thing up about a monster under their bed. And I guess [laughter] the only reason for that was that, like to keep me from going over there and like sleeping in between them every night.
UR: [Laughter]
NB: And so, like usually I would be like in my bed every night like scared. Scared to actually go and sleep with them. [Phone rings] Then--
UR: Sorry, keep going.
NB: OK then. Anyway, then, early, just like three or four they started like progressively, like, started reading me, you know, like with Disney, like Disney stories, like then The Princess and The Frog, Little Red Riding Hood, and Snow White, they were, like, pretty much, like my favorites. Um, then once you get into junior high school and, like, high school, you know, around the age of 16, they started getting into more details about how, you know, studying affects this. [Laughter] And how, like, my aunt didn't study and failed and had to stay another year in high school or how like--
UR: So was it like stories that would happen if you didn't do, this will happen to you.
NB: \\ Yes that's pretty much it. \\
UR: \\ Warning stories. \\
NB: Um, how, you know, like my dad used to be a nerd and, like, study for 22 hours a day.
UR: Wow.
NB: Or whatever. [Laughter] But, you know, we never actually believed them but they were like pretty much a big one.
UR: So you didn't believe him. They were more like--
NB: No. They were trying to warn us.
UR: Ah. OK.
NB: It never actually worked. [Laughter] But, um, and other than that there were like this huge religious issue that they were trying to teach us and they would start telling us stories.
UR: Because you're raised, you're raised Muslim right?
NB: Yeah. And, um, they were just, they kept telling us that how like, um, you know, that how the people should act and how people did act and got punished for it. Or--
UR: Do you remember any of the stories associated with that?
NB: Usually it would be like, how like a friend of his had a, like, um, OK one of them that I remember was, uh, one time where it was it was obviously in Kuwait, and, um, this girl had a boyfriend, and, like, her parents, like, they wanted to get married at the end.
UR: Uh-huh.
NB: And her parents wouldn't let her. So, um, she decided that she didn't want to, and, um, she decided that she didn't want to. She decided that if she would sleep with him, you know, her parents would actually like let her marry him, her marry him, and, um, so, oh my God, but, uh, anyways, so she did and her dad caught them.
UR: Whoa.
NB: And they thought they'd like sleep, you know, so that they'd have slept together, fine then get married.
UR: Uh-huh.
NB: But actually no. Uh, the father called the boyfriend out for a meeting, or whatever, and, ah like, pretty much beat the living hell out of him. [Laughter] And then got his daughter married to his cousin.
UR: Wow.
NB: So, I mean usually stuff like that happened probably just like a--
UR: Not like a big warning story or anything.
NB: [Laughter] Yeah so like pretty much that's how it is. I think Kuwait if you, you sleep with anyone it's pretty much like boyfriend and Dirty Harry, you know, and not, it's frowned upon. [Laughter] Um. [Laughter]
UR: So that was more like the socio-cultural kind of stories that would almost tell you the ways to be and where you were from, and like, you should do this and you shouldn't do this--
NB: Yeah I mean, yeah they give you more about your culture and what you should do and what you shouldn't and, you know, usually, like, they would tell me that so that when learned or something and, um--
UR: You were ready, I mean, like we have talked like fantasy stories also--
NB: Yeah fantasy stories? Well, usually, I mean, um, usually my parents would not make anything up. Other than the whole monster under the bed thing, or whatever, when I was a kid, but I was just growing up. They would tell me stories about their childhood. Like, um, one time my dad went to the beach, even though his parents were totally against it. But he got stung by a jellyfish and he came out bruised and like huge boil on the side and he probably couldn't walk for a week. Until this day I hate jellyfish.
UR: [Laughter]
NB: I just could not stand them. But, uh--
UR: Like, did you ever watch any Disney movies or anything like that?
NB: Well yeah.
UR: Kids books or anything?
NB: I used to love Little Red Riding Hood. I still have this like one book translated in Arabic of Little Red Riding Hood. And, um, I don't know, my parents would read it to me like every other day. If it wasn't Red Riding Hood it would be like, you know, um, Robin Hood or The Princess and The Frog. I still love that, and the whole golden ball, and the princess, and, yeah. [Laughter]
UR: It's like magical.
NB: Yeah, I mean pretty much, and, but--
UR: I mean, do you remember, were there any stories that you mentioned like stories that, um, ran in the family about your relatives like about your father, your jellyfish. Do you have any stories about your mother or your siblings?
NB: Oh. Well, yeah, OK--
UR: Or even your uncles and your aunts?
NB: There was one actually that my mom kept telling me over and over again. She used to be like sort of a troublemaker as a kid.
UR: Huh.
NB: But as she grew up. Um, one night they were eating, and, um, I think my uncle pissed her off and she got like really pissed. And, uh, she took the plate and she actually, like, smashed it on top of his head. [Laughter] My uncle had to go to the, um, hospital and get like, but the only thing that actually happened was that he got stitches.
UR: Uh-huh.
NB: And until this day, like, my uncle has a little, tiny scar on top of his head. [Laughter]
UR: [Laughter] Oh my goodness.
NB: He's rubbing it into my parent's face. So again, you know, it's sort of like warning stories about how if you do this you'll end up like this. Parents. [Laughter]
UR: And, I mean are there any stories that you, um, you read nowadays, or that sort of, you know, they've stayed with you all the way? Like, for example, some people now heard stories about how they were a kid and now almost feel like a, a direction they feel like they have to head in. Like, they want to be like that character in the story or something like that. Have you ever had any of those?
NB: Well.
UR: Like I know a lot of girls they want to be like you know a fairytale princess. You don't have anything like that do you?
NB: I used to have, um, something my dad used to talk to me about vampires.
UR: About vampires?
NB: [Laughter] Yeah!
UR: How, uh, how, uh, old were you?
NB: Um, like 11, I'd say.
UR: 11? That's young.
NB: [Laughter] I don't know, like I used to have this, like, I used to love vampires in movies and everything. So like until now I'm just like hoping that actually no one needs to know that.
UR: [Laughter]
NB: I don't believe in vampires but pretty much now, like, I love those kind a things and, you know, um, yes. It's still distracting to me now. I love vampires, especially, like, I used to read those Arle Stein from history. Those I used to finish in like two days tops. And my dad would go crazy. He would be like, "No more none of that!" And he used to give me like, uh, uh, what's it called like Stephen King
. [Laughter] Something a 13 year old reads. UR: And you, you were 13?
NB: And, uh, like when I moved to, um, Bristol. I was in Bristol for two years. And like, so my English got stronger, and after that, I got like reading some, ah, there was one about the chicken pox, no the chocolate pox.
UR: Uh-huh what was that about?
NB: Like, one kid kept eating chocolate. And at the end of the story he gets allergic to them. He gets like chocolate pox. I don't [Laughter] I can't believe I remember it.
UR: [Laughter]
NB: But, um, I mean that's another, I don't eat too much chocolate thing, um.
UR: When were there, were there any stories that told you, you've mentioned a lot of stories that tell you what not to do.
NB: Uh-huh.
UR: In, in terms of, forgive me, they tell you what to do in terms of what not to do. But are there any stories that told you what not to do in terms of what you, you see what I'm saying, like if you do this thing then this will happen to you and this won't happen to you?
NB: Oh.
UR: And so you don't do this and you don't do that.
NB: But that comes back to the religious whole aspect of, um, you know, they kept telling me about like miracles that used to happen but like about people who were sort of into religion and like if you prayed then this would happen.
UR: Can you remember any examples?
NB: Um, I can't really remember, like, I think they were talking about my not still living in family, but yeah, I mean, usually, like my dad would tell me, you know, if you give for charity then you'd get it like sometimes back. Like one time he had, we were just like spending and he had a bunch of pennies. And we'd put them in like this box and on his way out he found like this five dollar bill. And he was like, usually, you know, if you're kind, you'd get back. [Laughter] Now I'm feeling all talked out.
UR: I mean were there any, uh, things you used to see on television like cartoons and stories?
NB: The Smurfs?
UR: Movies The Smurfs.
NB: The Smurfs and Tom and Jerry.
UR: The Smurfs and Tom and Jerry?
NB: Yeah.
UR: Like what, what do you remember?
NB: Like um, um, the Smurfs are like me, like me pretty much. Because, like, remember Smurfette? She'd be like the only Smurf. [Laughter] She'd be like the only female Smurf in like the total entire population of guy Smurfs. And that's like me because I was like the only girl and I had like 11 or 12 boy cousins.
UR: Oh, so you could relate to the Smurfs.
NB: And so I can still relate to Smurfs. [Laughter]
UR: [Laughter]
NB: I still watch that a lot, and, ah, what else was there? Tom and Jerry, I loved those two, they like, it used to play like five times a day.
UR: Uh-huh.
NB: And like every time it was on, like, my grandma would just like have me sit through it to keep me quiet. [Laughter] So yes that was that. And then, um, and then there was the wrestling era.
UR: The wrestling era?
NB: Yeah how old was I? I was 13.
UR: 13?
NB: And yeah. And I loved to play, I loved wrestling.
UR: Because I know there is a lot of theatrics there, and there are stories and it's almost like a soap opera.
NB: The what?
UR: In, in the wrestling.
NB: Yeah.
UR: They would always talk about--
NB: And so one episode would be like, "Oh my God, you hit my wife," and then they'd beat you up.
UR: And then like next week you would find out that he had changed and it was like a segmented.
NB: Yeah.
UR: Cliffhanger, and do you remember what was happening inside your head as you were watching it?
NB: No. I, I used to like I mean I was a tomboy, but usually after that I wanted to wrestle. My parents wrestled and I wrestled with friends and I wrestled with Dad.
UR: You didn't like act out any of the stories or anything?
NB: No. I took it out on my cousins. [Laughter]
UR: [Laughter] Oh you took it out on your cousins they guys would be like ( ).
NB: Yeah!
UR: Oh man.
NB: [Laughter] So I liked to wrestle and that's when my parents started telling me about how they used to wrestle.
UR: Uh-huh.
NB: And like one of them broke a leg or something?
UR: What they used to wrestle with each other?
NB: Yeah, but not my parents.
NB: My, my parents and their brothers.
UR: ( ) [Laughter]
NB: ( ) [Laughter] And you know when you're a kid you, you think that your parents know everything and then when you start growing up you start doubting it. You just doubting it and then like around 15 you just doubt that they know anything at all. So at that age you stop listening to their stories. [Laughter]
UR: So you don't read them anymore.
NB: No. Pretty much, I mean, you know, once you get like 19, and at that age you're mature enough to make up your own stories. [Laughter]
UR: Ah the personal myth ah?
NB: Yes. [Laughter]
UR: So do you keep any of these stories with you? Like do any like when you look around when you 're out and about in the world, do you reminded of any of them?
NB: Well every time I see a jellyfish or something.
UR: [Laughter] OK, OK.
NB: But um.
UR: That's about it eh?
NB: Yep. I'm talked out.
UR: All right so that was Nawar. I want to thank Nawar for being here. And, uh, thank you very much.
NB: Thank you.