Ramadan is once again upon us, and Muslims [VIDEO] are as excited as ever for the festive, holiday season! During the ninth month of the Hijri calendar, several dishes are cooked up around the world in time to break one’s fast. So let’s see what’s cooking!
Travel bloggers come together monthly for the Travel Link Up, a fantastic way for bloggers to write about a particular travel theme while reading and sharing each other’s posts. This month’s theme is one’s travel wishlist for 2018. This rant will be my first with the travel link up, finally!
One of my goals for 2018 is to travel more than I did last year. This, in part, is sparked by two things. One, my plans from last year was put on hold because of my repatriation back home. And two, this year’s destination wedding season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier! This is an opportune time for me to revisit favorites as well as discover new places.
So here’s my travel wishlist for 2018:
San Francisco Bay Area, California
I’ve been playing a tourist in my hometown since repatriating last summer. There’s so much for me to rediscover as I eat my way through the city and the Bay Area as a whole, really. Like trekking the hiking trails in Sausalito, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on foot, checking out the latest exhibits at the Asian American Museum, observing the marine animals at the historical Monterey Aquarium and show some love to the businesses reopening in the Napa Valley areas.
New York Tri-State Area
I’ll be heading to the New York area in the early summer for my cousin’s wedding! After dancing the night away, I’m going to try to cross a few things off my list that I didn’t get a chance to do during my last visit. Like, go see a Broadway show. I mean seriously, how have I been to New York City so many times and not see a single Broadway show? Preposterous! This year, I must see a show and I’m spoiled for choice with new ones coming out as early as March 2018, wow! I’d also like to head to Hoboken, New Jersey. It’s been on my radar as I hear they’ve got a booming food culture there.
Later in the summer, I’m heading to the magnificent island state of Sicily for my dear friend’s wedding! I’ve been through most of Italy in 2016 but not to Sicily. Thus, my friends and I are planning to stay about a week to check it out in all it’s glory once we’ve recovered from dancing all night or two long. I’m being told that Mount Etna is a must when visiting Sicily. This should be a good way to work out all the food I plan on eating.
Dubrovnik and Fort Lovrijenac, Croatia
Another trip missed last year was Croatia. As a history buff, I’m anxious to see the ancient coastal city of Dubrovnik. Of course, I can’t be in Croatia as a huge Game of Thrones fan and not head to Fort Lovrijenac, where it’s the setting for Kings Landing. The scenery alone is a great backdrop for this historical fantasy. Here’s to taking a seat on the Iron Throne!
Luxor and Aswan, Egypt
Since I won’t be far, seems a short trip to the Middle East is in order. It’s been a good number of years since I’ve been to Egypt and of the few times I’ve been, I have yet to visit Luxor and Aswan. As a history buff, these historic provinces have so much to offer and I’m still making a list of all the things I need to explore. I do plan on going with a tour guide of sorts as to not miss out on anything.
I was so close yet didn’t get a chance to go as planned for my birthday last year. I’m hoping to make it this time around and explore the bounties the island has to offer. Fingers crossed there won’t be another volcano eruption, otherwise, I’m checking out Mount Agung and the surrounding towns.
This country, specifically Paris, is a coin toss for me because as much as I’d like to go, the fact that hijabs and niqabs are banned in its many public places doesn’t put me at much ease. I’ve almost never had a problem outside of airports during my travels but that’s not the expectation I have for Paris. However, I’d do anything to just sit in one of the eateries facing the Effiel Tower and eat my heart out.
Who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, to God we belong and, to Him we shall return.” -The Holy Quran 2:156
Last week, on the evening of July 27th, my eldest paternal aunt, Sayeda Abdoun, passed away peacefully in Egypt.
My father, who is there, tells me that her burial and funeral went as she had wished. He said everything came together smoothly, almost as if she had described what would happen when she passes.
Of course, he is devastated.
She was a second mother to him. It was her home where he got any of his studying done throughout high school and college before heading out to America. It was her home where my parents were wed. And it was her home where my dad preferred to stay during his visits after retirement.
I was blessed to have met the aunt I resemble the most back in 2011. We spent so many days and nights just talking about anything and everything like two girlfriends. Despite our age, generational and lifestyle differences, “Ametuh” as I’d call her, almost always understood me.
One afternoon, we were talking about shopping and she shared how as a young girl, all she wanted was to go to school wearing new shoes and carrying the prettiest bag. She was married young to a man she would love for decades after his death. So much so, she couldn’t even part with his clothing.
“I miss him”, she’d tell me. “He did everything for me, especially when I was sick after the failed pregnancies and difficult births.”
She was very much a homebody as she got older. Yet one night, out of the blue, she asked to join me on a short walk to see my eldest uncle. During our walk, she’d tell me about the roads and people that came upon our paths. After an eventful evening, we got home and I asked her if she was OK after such walks. And she said with a smile, “I’m fine.”
Ametuh’s life was not easy and her life’s story inspired me to pursue greater things than the “norms of society”. She fell for the norms, she didn’t go to school wearing new shoes and carrying the prettiest bag.
She lived through her two children after her husband’s passing, becoming a grandmother of eight and a great grandmother of nine. She wanted nothing but the best for her family. When all was good with them at home, she’d quietly go to her room and fall asleep. Should i go in to check on her, “I’m fine” was her answer.
As much as I’m heartbroken and saddened by Ametuh’s sudden passing, I know she is resting in quiet peace. I know she’s fine now.
Please keep Ametuh in your thoughts and prayers. May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light… Ameen.
spinster [spin-ster] Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying. Arabic: عانِس، عوانس
Being a 34 year old lady, I’m again reminded of the word “spinster”. I’m convinced that the word must’ve been phrased by a very bitter person back in medieval times (be it in any language). The fact that the word is almost only applied to ladies makes me hate the word even more. It’s sexist, hurtful, divisive and discriminatory on so many levels.
The first time I heard the word “spinster”, I was 19 years old. It was said to me by an older lady with limited education whom wanted me for her son so he can move to America. I didn’t pay much mind to her at the time. Maybe because I knew what her intentions were. Or because I was too young to understand that word at the time.
That word really didn’t hit me hard until a couple of years later when it was said to me by someone I once liked and respected. From then on, I heard that word more often than necessary. When I decided to go to graduate school, I was told I would never find a husband. When I decided to travel, I was told that I wasn’t making an effort to find a husband. Every time the subject of marriage came up, I was reminded by random people to stop being picky because I was becoming a spinster.
This all happened before I turned 30.
As much as I try not to let it bother me, it bothers me. It’s derogatory and very offensive, more so to those whom actually are looking for someone to share their lives with but haven’t. I’m not alone on this as per my conversations with people between the U.S., Egypt, Qatar and beyond. Whom decided what age a lady (or a man) should be married? Whom decided that if you don’t have children before a certain age, your prime has come to an end? Whom decided that men only want to marry a lady within a specific age group?
I have relatives in Egypt that have passed this unbeknowth marital age for one of many reasons. One cousin has dedicated his life to his work and found it difficult to find someone from the humble country town whom would share and support his passion. Another cousin in the same town and of the same age sided with her demanding parents of unrealistic expectations which has caused a hault in suitors coming through the door.
Even though the culture in Egypt asks that both parties’ families share in the financial costs, there’s this pattern of making it more difficult than necessary to get married. Anything outside of marriage is haram but the halal way has been made to be so difficult, it’s almost near impossible. And those whom wait too long to be able to go about it the halal way? They’re now spinsters.
In Qatar, I’ve met people whom remained single simply for financial reasons while others were divorced but still paying back some hefty marital related loans. Unlike in Egypt, men here are burdened with all the finances to get married and start a family. As the culture here is very tribal, there’s this “keeping up with the Jones” mentality. If one family did something, you had to do the same if not better. Even if you couldn’t afford it, you borrowed for it. I know at least two of my friends whom have been divorced in under 5 years of their marriage just over financial troubles. They got married like the Jones, but they couldn’t LIVE like them. And those that choose to wait, refusing to be a statisic? They’re now spinsters.
In the U.S., it’s a real mixed bag between the cultures but the mindset of spinsterhood is still there. People are in awe when a 40 year old celebrity gets married. Did you see the rukous over George Clooney “finally getting married”?
However, from my personal experiences within the Muslim and Arab community back home, some of this ideology exists. If a man marries a lady beyond the age of 30, it’s as if he performed a charitable act. If a lady marries a man beyond that age, it’s because he’s rich or she couldn’t get someone her age. It can’t ever be because two people loved each other, God forbid.
And let’s back track for a second here, is it just me or do those that barrage us with “get married already” comments the ones whom are completely unhappy in their marriage? Seriously, I have yet to be approached by a happily married person, aside from my mother and aunties, about my marital status. Maybe it’s because those happy in their marriages know what it takes to be in a happy relationship. It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just marry the first person that crosses your path.
Maybe it’s because those happy in their marriages are happy because they actually lived their lives, learned to care for themselves before they were ready to share it with someone else. Maybe the happier you are, the happier your relationship. If you happiness depends on someone else, you will in fact be miserable in that relationship. Sometimes, one is not destined to be married with 3 kids living in a house with a white picket fence by the age of 25.
I can’t image being married at 25. Hell, I can’t image being married at 34!
At 25, while many of my friends were ready to join the marriage club, I was taking care of my family while starting graduate school. I was no where near ready to be married let alone even date at the time. People go through different phases in their lives at different ages. There really is no structure or time frame for one of the most important commitments in one’s life.
Let’s be honest, when the time comes, it’ll come. People nagging us into something you aren’t ready for doesn’t help. Using the word “spinster” only makes it worse.
So ladies, when a miserable hater comes at you with, “when are you getting married already?”
Just tell them, “I’d rather be a happy spinster than a miserable wife.”
On June 23, 2014, Sisi’s vision of “Egyptian democracy” were made obvious when AlJazeera journalists Peter Grest, Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Ghorab and several other journalists (some in absentia) were sentenced from 7 to 10 years for doing their journalistic duties.
This sentencing comes despite complete lack of evidence of any threat to Egypt’s national security. This also comes after US Secretary of State, John Kerry visited Egypt’s President on the matter and of course, the issuance of military aid from the US, a total of half a billion US tax dollars.
Family, friends, supporters and journalists were forcefully removed from the courts after the hearing. Several images on Twitter have shown police angrily placing hands on camera lenses and chasing people out of the entrances. After going a few steps forward on January 25, 2011, Egypt has now gone several hundreds steps back on June 23, 2014.
I still have hope and know deep down that this not the end of the revolution. The struggle remains, the voices louder, the revolution continues.
Living the Confused Expatriate Life Part 5 of a Few… Hot Water By: Ms. Hala
When I first landed in Qatar, I knew I would be learning a great deal. I didn’t realize that my first lesson would be a survival one, as simple as turning on a faucet.
Landing in the peak of Qatar’s summer months in 2012, after a long 17+ hour flight, I exclaimed to my host and his daughter that I needed to take a nice cool shower. They in turn responded, “If you want to take a (semi) cool shower, turn the faucet to hot water.”
“Yes, hot water is warm, cold water is really hot.”
“Oh, OK? Was it installed wrong or is that just how it is here? I thought hot/left, cold/right was universal?”
“It is just not in the summer months. Qatar uses a water tank system, water gets hit by the heat pretty bad.”
Did I believe them? Yes but I had to see this for myself. I turned the faucet right for cold and sure enough, without hesitation, steam of boiling water was rising. I then quickly turned it on right for hot and after a moment’s time, luke warm water was a flowing.
How am I going to survive this heat without cold water? I didn’t have this problem when I spent 4 long hot summer months in Egypt. If anything, the water was too cold and I’d turn on the water heater!
Here’s to my third summer living the confused expatriate life in Qatar. The water heater is turned off. The faucet is turned left for a sweet luke warm shower to start my day! Happy Thursday folks!
My friend posted on my Facebook this weekend the article titled “Single and Proud” by Rasha Dwedar on the marital status Muslim ladies are choosing, specifically in Egypt. My friend ask for my thoughts and here’s what I had to say…
Skimmed through the article which is exactly what I saw in Egypt… girls dying to get married only to feel stuck. Some get out, some stay put because they don’t know what else to do. I saw a girl put up with a really stupid, idiotic fiance because people envied how cute he/they were. Now she’s married, with a kid, and dare not continue dreaming of going for her masters or her high school diploma hubby will dump her. Those same girls then always ask me why I don’t want to get married and my simple response, “what for?” I know what I want in my life, I’m extremely independent and don’t need someone to “order me around or take care of me”. Until someone out there can share my vision in life, has great ambitions to go further in life and can give two shits what other people might think, then I’ll consider getting married. Until then, single and proud!