Saturday April 30, 2016
My body is still adjusting to the difference in the time zones. It is 12:30 am on the east coast of the USA, the time when I would have normally been getting into a deep sleep. Now, here in Egypt, I have been up since 4:00 am for fajr prayer. My ritual consists of first taking my thyroid hormone replacement medication (my thyroid was removed in 2008 due to cancer) with warm lemon water prepared by my daughter, then proceeding to the bathroom to perform ablution to prepare for prayer. Despite the fact that the obligatory morning prayer is the shortest, it is typically the one I spend the most time in performing. Prior to the 2 obligatory rakats (the prescribed movements and recitations of prayer), I also perform the 2 sunnah (the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) rakats. It is reported that the 2 sunnah rakats before the fard (obligatory) rakats at fajr are worth more than all the wealth in the world! So I get those in to gain my daily wealth from Allah (SWA)! Additionally, my dua, dhikr and azkar (supplication and remembrance of Allah) can get rather lengthy and continues to grow as my prayers include my family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, the Muslim community, those suffering under tyranny and dictatorship, the soul of my deceased son and others I love who have passed on, and asking for Allah’s (SWA) continued blessings, grace, mercy, and forgiveness on us all!
Following this, I retreat to the garden for my morning cup of joe, a couple of fogs (I know, believe me, I’m going to quit with the help of Allah!), to see the sun as it rises and feel the morning breeze on my face. I have now completed my early morning process and the motivational juices to put fingers to keyboard are in full effect! Whew!
I wasn’t on the computer yesterday since the housewarming extended well into the night on Thursday. My daughter and I were the first to arrive at 6 pm and were greeted by the hostess very graciously. Sister S is from Holland; her guests included a sister from Poland with a 2-month old son (after having 3 daughters in a row), a sister from Zimbabwe (via the UK), a sister from Sudan (via the UK), and a sister who is Lebanese/Romanian. The conversation was lively and centered around their children and education. I listened attentively and shared an idea for an alternative, hybrid form of education. Responses were mixed; the Sudanese sister would send her children. The hostess presented some challenges that might occur based on the current educational system/political climate in the country. Homeschooling is highly desired but not is favored. There would be hurdles, but not completely insurmountable. A suggestion was made to do an after school/summer enrichment program. Hmmm, food for thought. I will continue to explore the possibilities.
The food was awesome and unlike anything I had ever experienced! We were seated around the table after casually sipping on fresh cucumber and melon juice. A small grill, unlike any I had ever seen, was in the middle of the table. Each of us had a small bowl of sautéed chicken, beef, and meatballs at our place setting, beside which was a mini pan and spatula for placing the meat to go on/under the grill. There were various condiments; peppers, scallions, mushrooms, and corn to be placed in the mini pan with the meat or eaten raw once the meat was cooked. Tossed salad, tabbouleh, bread, and dips of hummus and garlic sauce were delightful compliments to the meal. Our hostess stated this idea was a tradition passed down by her mother who introduced it during holidays in order to get the family engaged in communicating during the meal. It really works! During the time the meat cooked on the grill we talked and laughed a lot. Everyone was so helpful and engaging; it was a lot of fun, too!
Before we knew it, 10 pm had rolled around and everyone prepared to leave. My son-in-law picked us up and by the time we got home, it was after 11. We even sat up for a while talking before finally retiring after midnight. With less than 4 hours of sleep, we were back up for morning prayer by 4 am. Needless to say, we all headed back to bed after that! I didn’t get up again until 10 am, stayed up for and only stayed up for a short period. My son-in-law set up the new bed for me in my bedroom, so when he and my grandson headed to Jumaah, I decided to try it out. Completely dressed with my slippers on, I passed out on that bed and slept for hours! When I woke up, I was less than an hour away from asr (the afternoon prayer time) and still had not prayed dhur (the noon prayer). I scrambled to get myself together, said my prayers and by the time I finished, dinner was ready.
I joked to my daughter that they were leaning towards becoming vegan, since the last few days there has been no meat in the meals. She assured me that was not the case.
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Today’s meal of curried lentils with a side of raw scallions, and cut-up baked potatoes with balladi (flat puffy bread) was delicious! If the meatless meals continue to taste like this, this really would not be a bad thing to do. The family rode out to the store after mahgrib (the evening prayer) to shop and get bouza roll (Thai ice cream), my favorite dessert.