Sunday, November 26, 2006

11 Things We miss most about Qatar

* This list is in no particular order. 11 things came to my head, right off the bat.

1. Chai Halib -(Yellow label lipton tea made with RAINBOW milk - there's no Rainbow, or even any adequate substitute, in America!) WAAAAAH. How do immigrant Indians survive here without any Rainbow for their chai?

2. Eating at Bukhari in al Gharrafa. Man I could really use some "hummous with meat" right now!

3. Shopping in Souk Wakif.

4. Qatari Hospitality/ the whole visiting each other ritual.

5. Our Qatari and Qatari-American friends.

6. Having a maid, in particular, the actual maid we had to leave in Qatar. It was such a help even when we had a bad maid - just that extra pair of hands around the house makes things so much easier in a house where there are three kids under the age of 7; but Mariam was amazing!

7. People watching; the bizarre things we saw about people, in City Center, on the Corniche, and in other random places are unparalelled by the United States.

8. Being able to drive out into the Qatari outback. We loved to take little excursions and sight - see in the desert. It was great fun, but we especially miss finding and feeding carrots to camels!

9. Beep-beep chicken (we called it "crack chicken", because those guys reminded us of the drug dealers standing out on the street trying to lure you into their business!).

10. Going to the park (in particular, Dahl al Hammam over in al Markhiya near Landmark mall)and letting the kids play while we drink tea sitting in the grass watching them.

11. CHEAP GROCERIES! My gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd it's criminal here back in the States how much they want for even a kilo of rice! Yeeks! It's minimum of 5x more and that's at the "cheap Indian grocery". It's 10x more than it was in Qatar for a kilo of rice at mainstream grocery stores.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Hungry for something
Don’t know what it is
Something that fills me
That nourishes but still
Is comforting, familiar,
In this distant place
I yearn for soul food
To fill this space
That’s missing inside of me
A part of me hides
I don’t know how to find it
Or where it resides.
I roam in this desert
Content, but not filled,
I want total satiation
A life that’s distilled-
What is this hunger
that haunts me
And gnaws?
No satisfaction
From what crosses my jaws.
I should tell this hungry phantom
To leave me
To go
There’s no rhyme or reason
To it’s requests so low
That nothing sounds satisfying
Just a dull ache
In the pit of my stomache
That nightly awakes
Around 1 am
like an alarm clock
it comes
I get up
and search
The kitchen for some
Of whatever it is that I’m craving
But can’t articulate
So in the meantime I will ponder
And continue
to vascillate.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Turkish Delight

Alhumdulillah, we just got back from an evening of socializing at some new friends' house.

They're a Turkish family, my hubby works with the man at the hospital, so he invited us over for tea. They were lovely people, it was great to hang out with people who are, well, Turkish!

The kids played soccer in their finished basement, now that's a beautiful thing. Of all surprizes, my 4 year old daughter kicked that soccer ball to kingdom come apparently! The two 9 year old soccer aficiandos were dazed and amazed by her aggressive kicking skills.

Girls rule! Go Ellie!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Friends. I really long for company these days. When I start feeling lonely, it really hurts. I despise being lonely. I don’t really know what it will accomplish, just having another person around to talk to and hang out with, but that sounds like such comfort lately. However, I am now in America and having something as simple as a friend is almost impossible.

People here are downright crazy. Yup. Neurotic, paranoid, and reclusive. People are so antisocial! It’s always bothered me and I am now faced with it again since coming back to the states.

I myself have some of these neurotic American qualities. For instance, I absolutely cannot visit another person without it being planned. I can’t bring myself to just pop in on anyone unless I’ve been precisely invited to be there at that precise time on that precise day. Even after living within the Arabic culture for 2 years I can’t just pop in on anyone, as was commonplace there. I think a lot of potential friendships didn’t happen in Qatar because I was probably perceived as “antisocial”, oh well I just can’t do that to anyone!

So, I find myself trying to make friends – I talk to other women who happen to be my neighbors, I invite them to do things, but no friends yet. Oh and did I mention that I get discouraged easily? One or two “failures” and I lose steam and give up putting forth any effort again on anyone. I have told a couple of different women to pop in and visit with me any time – I am always around, no problem etc. – I even have given one neighbor extra vegetables on one occasion, then some extra fresh bread from a batch I baked – and she hasn’t visited me or asked me to do anything. The other neighbor I frequently see when I take my kids to my compound’s playground because she lives next to it and when her son hears my son outside, he runs out and she comes out too. We talk, it’s nice, I’d love to hang out with her more blah blah blah, I know that she like me, is also staying home and even has a toddler the same age as mine, in addition to the fact that my first grade son and her third grade son love each other.

I am just really in need of support, it’s just me and the 2 girls here all day most days except the few when my husband is off from the hospital. I have a four year old girl and an almost 2 year old toddler girl in addition to my almost 7 year old son who is in first grade.

I wonder, do other stay-home moms feel as lonely and in need of companionship as me? Or am I just psycho?

I keep trying to figure out what exacally it is that is so compelling about having someone around. I guess just someone over the age of 7 would be enlightening! Adult conversation, support, etc. just sounds so good.

I’m also thinking of joining the YMCA. They have babysitting . I can go there and work out, blow off some of this steam, get a bit of a break from the CONSTANT, NEVERENDING demands of childcare, do something healthy for my mind and body and soul. For God’s sakes I don’t even get to sleep by myself! My toddler is still nursing, bless her little heart, so I am hardly ever alone, not even for five blessed minutes in the freaking bathroom some days.

I really don’t know what these women do here for support. How do they EVER escape and have time for themselves? I have been searching high and low for a Mother’s Day Out/Parents’ Day Out, and apparently that simply doesn’t exist here! That was my lifeline in Florida. 2 hours to do whatever, 2 times a week, how glorious!

So, at this point the YMCA and maybe a MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group is where I will start. Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 05, 2006 Shawwal Moon Sighting - Monday, October 23rd 2006

I am so glad that Sheikh Hamza is doing this. There is such a disparity in the mainstream leadership of the ummah (Islamic Community). Every year I was in Qatar, they claimed from S'audia that they had sighted the moon...when the next evening or 2 every time we would sight it in Qatar, at just a bare sliver. There was no way the S'audis could have sighted it when they said they had. It was clear that they were in fact not telling the truth.

Kudos to Sheikh Hamza.

It appears as though there is a new star, rising from the West, in California.


Shawwal moon sighting video with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Inside, not outside

We now live in what must be the exact opposite of Qatar; Florence, Kentucky, USA!

I have opted to "blend-in" here, ie, no outward (clothing) signs that I am muslim. Frankly, after living in the Gulf for 2 years, I have come to the conclusion that "hejab" is an inner condition of one's heart, it simply cannot and will not be created by what a person does or does not wear on her outside (ie clothing).

Contrary to what many of my muslimah sisters may be thinking, no, I am not afraid to wear hejab in America. After living in Arabia for 2 years, I am not at all afraid of what anyone thinks of me. It has made me a lot more bold and able to take a stand for myself, and for that I'm grateful for the experience.

I am not afraid of it, I don't believe in it. I have concluded that hejab is sunnah, not fardh (good/optional, not a "mandatory" tenet of our faith that is imperative to make one a faithful servant of God).

Frankly, I am really tired of my brothers and sisters in Islam. I fear that the Shaitan has overshadowed the entire ummah. Everyone is so concerned with outward behaviors, to the point now where how enforcing these nitpicky codes may effect our hearts is being totally overlooked.

For instance, a friend of mine who worked with me in Qatar, Paige El Wafi, recently converted. She was Catholic before she became muslim. She visited the mesjid recently here in Cincinnati. She made the small mistake of getting all the way up the stairwell to the women's section and to the threshold of their room's door before she remembered to take off her shoes. OF COURSE, they chided her when they saw what she had done!

Well, she was already feeling nervous and kind of ambivalent about her recent decision to convert. The way they treated her was very upsetting, and she was quite embarassed by her faux pax. She ended up feeling so bewildered that she left the mesjid right away, in tears.


This is a sin, and things like this happen constantly in the community of muslims. I am sick of this crap.

Abū Hurairah said,

An Arab of the desert stood up and began urinating in the mosque. People were about to take hold of him but the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him; said to:

"Leave him alone and throw a bucket of water over his urine,
for you have been
raised to deal with people gently and you have not been raised
to deal with them
17 (B. 4:58.)
Clearly, we can see from the Prophet Mohamed's (PBUH) perfect example that it would be a sin to chide a new convert to Islam for forgetting to take off her shoes in the stairwell of the women's section. The Prophet (pbuh) didn't chide the man for URINATING in the MESJID! He didn't SAY A WORD! Why should brothers and sisters in Islam be constantly pointing out each other's nitpicky "mistakes", when that's not the prophet's example?
Don't people have a brain anymore?
We're muslims!
We have ISLAM!
We have the QURAN!
Where is the ijtihad?
I'm done with mainstream Islam. The focus is all wrong. It's all concentrated on outward sets of behaviors, to the extreme that the inward condition of the heart is actually damaged. This community has nothing to offer to me at this point in my path, sadly.
To all of my Shia' friends out there, your community in general doesn't count in the statement I just made. Although strange at times, even with the deviations so to speak, I have observed wholeheartedly that Shia' Islam still has it's center in the right place, around the condition of the believer's heart.
I am done with the outward.
I have searched the world over for a "community" in which I will become closest to God, and I cannot find it.
My conclusion is that I must look within.
Now it's time for the real work to begin.
Basic Mevlevi zhikr, 1x daily plus the 5 times prayer.
Eyvallah, huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.