Monthly Archives: June 2016

As-salamu alaykum

ramadan image  Image taken from: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/top-10-ramadan-apps-510335.html#.V3M2hFfJnNU

It’s Ramadan.  Real Muslims use this time to get closer to God.  Blowing oneself up to murder people doesn’t accomplish that goal.  This type of thing is as anti Islam as it is anti Christian — regardless of what heretic leaders of any religious sect might say to manipulate their followers into terrible acts that must make God cry.

I am horrified once again to wake to news that another place I have visited has been attacked.  It’s always terrible to read of these things, but human nature makes it even more so when you have broken bread with people of that land.  Just this week alone I’ve read about attacks in Lebanon and now Turkey, as well as in places I haven’t yet been.  Yeah, yeah I know these areas are frequent targets, but that doesn’t make it any less horrific — especially when you’ve laughed alongside their people and watched their children play.

Having this happen during Ramadan makes it even more disturbing because Ramadan is about respecting and, most importantly, living the words of God.  Sacrifice takes place to better emphasize with those who do without regularly and to remember the power of charity.  So I imagine this must bruise the hearts and souls of my Muslim brothers and sisters.

I’m sharing this because of a few comments I’ve read this morning, which only exasperates a chasm amongst us — mankind — that just doesn’t need to be there.   Our words can be as counterproductive as those idiotic suicide bombs (look at some of the issues we’re voting on and decisions being made based on angry words), and they can be as powerful as the love of our chosen God (or person if you’re not into the whole spiritual being thing).  We’ve gotta get a grip on our species and reign in our hatred for one another and, you know, do the whole good humanity thing. Racism, Xenophobia, and all the other isms and obias out there that divide us needs to be put in check — wish I could believe it’d be possible to eradicate it, but looks like we’re a long way from that.  But, we can put a leash on it and tell it to back the eff down.  (out of respect to Ramadan I’m also watching my language)

As-salamu alaykum is a common Arabic greeting.  It is the first thing Arabs will say when they enter a room.  It is what I hear every time an announcement is made over the PA system at work.  It means Peace Be Upon You.  Sometimes the greeting is shortened to Salam, which means peace.

So, while it is a greeting, I’m choosing to end my post with a wish that peace be upon all of you and your loved ones.  We need our peace to be bigger than our hate.  Seriously folk we’re tearing ourselves apart here; we can do better.

Uncertainty

If you assess my life based solely on my blog posts, you might assume I live in some happy-happy, joy-joy bubble.  My life IS pretty darn sweet, but a bubble it is not.  I am fully aware of all the nastiness going on in the world, and have met people directly affected by some of it.

Eventually though, flare ups in our world affect us all, whether it’s divisive politics, war, famine, climate change, you name it —- the big bad things have a ripple effect.

There are too many uncertainties right now, and that’s got to be on the top of leaders minds (regardless of whether or not for personal reasons, better planning for all involved, or a combination of both).  In the wake of economic uncertainty, planners here are incorporating cut backs.  That means jobs and benefits are changing.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just that whenever this type of change takes place it’s painful, especially when it’s in an environment that communicates differently from what many of us are accustomed to, or define as fair.  Then again when things like this happen at home, it rarely feels fair, regardless of how well (or poorly) communicated it was.

This year I’m saying good bye to more friends than expected.  Some resigned for their own reasons, some were asked to go.  It hurts and it’s stressful.  We’re all forced to contemplate whether or not we’re next, which again isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does suck in the short term. Now is a good time to remember my own financial goals and long-term planning:  the weekend trips and brunches may need to take a back seat to paying off my credit card balance (and then yay! they can resume again).

This year is ending on a much sadder note than last year.  I’ll come back in August to more unknowns, but I will figure them out one step at a time, just like my friends who are leaving are currently doing.  I’m amazed at how quickly they’ve gone from shock and despair to better horizons.  I will miss them all, but I also look forward to what they will do next in their lives.

I guess if there’s one thing for me to learn from this it is that as shitty as this whole “uncertainty” thing is it can push us to something better.  So, when I’m home this summer and people bring up politics (please don’t —- seriously I can’t cope with all the petty back biting on any side), terrorism, unpredictable weather, etc. I can remind myself that, yes, we can get past all of this —— just take it one step at a time.  Of course we have to first learn how to weigh all that’s happening, quit bitching/moaning/blaming others for it, and come up with a plan.  But, hey, one step at a time.  May we all heal and move on as quickly as my friends seem to be doing.

Getting scrubbed and spiffy…

20160625_163958

So I had my first hammam (also known as a Turkish or Moroccan bath) today, and while you might think it’d be awkward paying someone to bathe you, turns out I’m totally cool with it.  Only time I felt funny was when I stood up so the attendant could dry me and, well, her face came up to my bosom.  Nothing says Hello There!  more than good ole eye to nipple contact.

A hammam is an Arabian treat, where you sit in a steam room and have an attendant deep scrub all sorts of grime from your pores.   I had mine done at the beautiful Turkish spa down the road from my apartment.  Sadly, my camera phone pics will not do this place justice.  I got the package that included a hair and face mask and a massage after the bath.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first thing I got to do was put on these lil black disposable panties and bra — my rebellious goods busted out the minute I slipped them on, so basically I had remnants of modesty clinging to bits that demanded to be seen anyway.  Oh well, the attendant pretended not to notice; she was way more professional and mature about the whole thing than my giggling, jiggling self.

Then I was asked to lie down on a marble slab in the middle of this luxurious steam room with a copper sink and bowls.  The lights were dimmed, and I was left alone for a few minutes to steam it up before the attendant returned to pour warm water over my hair.  She washed my hair, and then gently washed my face, before moving on to the rest of me.  I’ve been binge watching Six Feet Under (I know it’s crazy that I didn’t watch it when it was on t.v.), and at first all I could think of was that holy formaldehyde I’m like the recently deceased getting prepped for burial.  Except I’m not and I guarantee it smelled so much prettier where I was.

Just about every inch (not all — thankfully some is left alone) of me was gently scrubbed while more bowls of warm water were poured over me.  When that was done she poured a bunch of suds on me and massaged them in while a mask worked its goodness on my hair and face, and then I had to stand to get a lot more water doused on me, which is when I first realized just how much bigger I was than the poor woman bathing me.  After I’m toweled off,  I’m asked to replace my torn disposables for another pair, so that I could lie face down on a massage chair and have that tiny girl show me whose boss while she kneaded out the kinks in my doughy back and thighs.  I wasn’t too sure I’d be able to walk after that, but my body feels great.

Several hours later, and I keep caressing my hair and skin.  They’re both so soft and shiny. Too bad I can’t magically keep it this way for when I land in Arizona — two weeks from now.  BUT, I’ve discovered I’m a fan of the hammam and look forward to my next experience (InshAllah) when I return in August (adding another much-needed InshAllah) .

 

 

Say Cheese!

13443996_10209945974430987_205460338_n

As always lots of photo opps on the weekend.  Two weeks ago some friends and I took off for a weekend Amsterdam adventure, where they surprised me with a bachelorette party.  It started off classy with a mimosa brunch they cooked up in our cozy flat, while Ian, Charlotte and I sipped coffee at a local pub. Ian was in on the secret but Charlotte was as surprised as me when we got back because it was also her birthday weekend — so the brunch was in her honor as well.   It ended with a scavenger hunt in the red light district — bachelorette paraphernalia and all.  I didn’t have a last-days-of-single party the first time I married, so this one totally made up for it.  I bet I was the oldest bachelorette out there, but that’s okay because I had just as much fun as all the other ‘stag’ and ‘hen’ stars whooping it up in the alleyways and pubs.

13435960_10209946201116654_1383205637_n

Since it’s wise I don’t show off my bachelorette attire here, I’m just going to post a pic of the roses Jordan’s friend Michal blessed us with.

It was a great weekend, and I wish I could write more about all the fun we had, but some memories are just meant to be kept amongst friends.  I also wish I could write more about Amsterdam because it’s a wonderful city, but two days there isn’t enough to explore all of its wonders.  That’s okay because I plan on visiting again next summer.

Here’s just a few photos to show you some of what we did.  I’ll do the city justice next summer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The flight to Amsterdam had its own adventures as well.  If you’re ever in an overnight layover in Prague, look for the kids play house.  It has padded flooring, so you can crawl up in there and attempt a nap (although airport noise gets in the way).

Last weekend Shannan and I spent time with Suzanne in Abu Dhabi.  Sadly, she is moving back home in a few weeks, so we’re getting in as much Suzanne time as we can.  We’ll be there for the next two weekends and 4th of July festivities, and then I’ll have to say good bye to one of my close friends here.  It’s all good, I totally plan on visiting her back home when I get the chance, but it’s still one of the disadvantages of living here.  We all go home eventually, so goodbyes happen.  It’s tough, and I can’t imagine my Abu Dhabi weekends without Suzanne.

As for what we did this weekend, we hung out at the pool, which was so much nicer than expected.  We didn’t think we’d last long because of the heat and our inability to drink water at the pool (it’s Ramadan and illegal to eat or drink in public during daylight hours — I’ll write more about Ramadan in another post).  BUT, the pool water was chilled, so it was refreshing.  Thanks to whomever decided to treat residents to this lovely oasis!

Since we’re just a few weeks away from going home for the summer, I also wanted to buy some gifts at World Trade Center mall, where we also discovered The Hub, a new restaurant corner that includes a latin restaurant we fell in love with.  It’s not cheap, but it’s a welcome surprise for hungry, thirsty shoppers.  I totally recommend you check it out if you’re ever in that corner of the world.

And now it’s time for me to jump in the shower and get ready for work.  We’re down to our last few weeks, so before you know it I’ll be posting from Arizona again.  Until then Ramadam Kareem to my muslim friends, and whoop whoop it’s almost School’s Out to my UAE teacher friends!

%d bloggers like this: