Monday, April 30, 2012

What My Mom Would Hate in Egypt

J-AIM-e of Memoirs from Morocco and I have a creative inspiration/persperation deal.  We think up one topic and then we both write about it...sometimes...when we're not living life...which apparently we've been doing (since we didn't do this deal last month).

So!  It's officially time for another

"Sister Spoke"
Not my real mother but close enough.

This month we will be imagining if one or both parents took the leap and came to visit us.  What would they hate?  Could they find something to love (besides us)?

For Jaime, she's able to imagine both her parents coming to visit her new country.  For me, I can't say the same.  I can only imagine my mom coming here.  My dad's Alzheimers gets in the way of lots of things (like finding his way home or remembering that the child on the phone is his grandkid).  So, let's focus on my mom.

My mom is a wonderful person in many ways.  She is not, however, a good traveler.  I realized this long ago because, even though she wasn't good at it, we somehow managed to leave home anyway.  I cringed a lot as a passenger.  Only the KFC visits made it doable (quite an incentive since fastfood was only allowed while on a roadtrip).

So, let me zone....


                                                   zone out. 

Yes, there's my mom getting out of Cairo's International Terminal.  She's hobbling a bit as she says how much she hates long plane rides.  She can't believe how many people there are (and I am dread to tell her that there are fewer people in the terminal than she'll see on most streets).  She will wonder right away when the English-speaking Egyptians start speaking English (though they will be, I don't think she'll realize it with their heavy accents).

Getting in the taxi will be a shock.  No, there really are seatbelts for everyone.  No, her beloved grandson doesn't have a bosterseat.  If she realizes how many small children ride on laps in the front seat, she'll have a conniption. 

Once we start careening around, she will do that quick-suck-of-air-through-her-teeth noise.  That annoying sound is basically what stopped me from learning how to drive until I was 23.  I couldn't stand her nervousness!  She thought I was too fast and reckless!  Joke on her!  We live in the land of fast cars who only take road safety as a suggestion.

My mom loves music but she'll hate the loud BOOM BOOM BOOM of the tuk tuk's bass amps.  She'll hate how out of control the young guys are with their music.  "If you can call it that," she'll say.

She'll hate the yelling, screaming children at all hours of the night.  She'll have a new appreciation for her grandson, Mr. Boo, who is an angel, mashahallah, by comparison

If I try to get her to cover up arms and legs, she'll balk.  Everyone will know she's not Muslim so it's not like I would be trying to fool anyone.  It is, however, better to avoid direct sun by sheilding your skin.  She won't feel good about that.  "I'm not Muslim!"  she'll yell.  "You're Muslim!  I'm NOT MUSLIM!"  I think she'd be saying that a lot.

She has been used to living as she wishes and Egypt isn't really about what you want to do.  It's about what the family is doing.  It's about what time the communal prayer is.  It's about when the shopkeeper might (or might not) roll up their aluminum door for the day (or night).  No, she would not like to be at anyone's whims and Egypt is rather whimsical.

She would not like to be segregated.  Not only in her 70s, she's from the 70s.  She believes that mixed company is more fun.  She would balk at the women serving the men and then sitting together chit-chatting over tea.  She wouldn't like to be told what to do according to gender.

She would hate the high levels of sugar and salt in all the food.  She now watches what she eats to such an extreme that it's hard for her to eat in America.  Can you imagine in Egypt?  It's hypertension with a side of diabetes.   

Alright, I've just gotten off the phone with my mom.  She called me on the "must-have" Magic Jack.  I 'fessed up that I'm writing about her.  I told her what the post was about and asked her what she would hate in Egypt.  She is very uncomfortable with "hate" and would rather think of  her list as "dislikes" or "challenges".  

I told her that "hate" is more of a grabber so she is putting up with that.

She affirmed right away one of my assumptions:  NOISE!  She hears enough of it through the telephone.  To hear it constantly (and not be able to hang up on it) would send her through the roof.

The second thing she said was, "Camel dung in the street."

I said, "Come on, Mom, be fair.  There's donkey dung too."

She said something next that I hadn't thought of.  She said that her heart would break for "all the poor people".  She mentioned the little girl we gave money to last week.  She remembered how we had come from an expensive pizza dinner with a fussy little guy (who wanted every toy sold in the street).  She remembered how the girl had sat there with her Quran but without any shoes. 

Honestly?  I think that would be hard for my mom.  For me?  I have found a way for my heart to stay intact.  You have to. 

My mom reasoned that the poor and disabled can at least find some sustainance if they are out in public asking for help.  It's a good point.  God bless them.  We simply can't help each one but we can do what we can and pray for them all.

I didn't have time to ask what she would love here.  In a way, I don't want to ask.  I'm scared that she won't have anything to say!  I continue to hope that she'll come for a visit or maybe for her retirement years (like now). 

Inshahallah, she'd find some peace...even amidst the high decibels.  There's a peace here which alluded me in America.  There's an honest reality which feels good and brings me more centered than other places.

Inshahallah, she'd find some wholesomeness.  There's a goodness in the season after season of farm-fresh crops.  I hope she wouldn't turn up her nose at produce without "Certified Organic" stickers.  I would love to see her in the market buying from the ladies.  She adores her local Farmer's Market, which is once a week in the summer, so I think she'd be so happy with local fruits and vegetables arriving daily throughout the year.

It isn't just the food which is wholesome.  There's a love here.  I don't know if she'd feel it or not.  It's a simple love.  The families love each other.  The faithful love each other.  Everyone loves the children.  The children love their country.  It's all without question.  It's all without hesitation.  You are weird if you don't honor these loves.  It's not like America with all the hang-ups about who you should love or not; who causes you anxiety or sends you into therapy.  I wish she could embrace the people.  If she could then she would have so many nice heart-level connections.

Inshahallah, she would really enjoy the National Treasures. I know she would be awestruck by the enormity of Egypt's ancient ruins and archeological finds.  The experience of walking into tombs would be, for her, entering into a kind of mystical realm.  She has always appreciated the Ancient Civilizations.

Inshahallah, she would have some moments of seeing Mr. Boo being himself.  He wasn't really himself in America.  It's only over here that he is fully himself.  I love how he can enjoy simple pleasures and make the most fun possible.  She could be a part of his new life if she wanted to.  She could see his world.

Inshahallah, she could also see me being myself here in Egypt.  She only saw me in the U.S.  We never traveled outside of American borders---are you kidding?!  I am more comfortable (at least I think so) when I am away from the mainstream.  She could see me in my new surroundings and feel happy for me.


What about you?  What would YOUR mom hate about where you're living?

Either write in the comments or place a link to your blog post describing it.

Let's keep the Sister Spoke turning 'round.


MarieHarmony said...

Very interesting Yosra! I definitely felt, when in Egypt, this love you talked about at the end of your post.

A couple of times my parents visited me in Ireland. My mum doesn't like the grey buildings (there are many and with the grey sky it makes things even worse). Her heart cries (mine too) when she sees these mums and dads, drunk a 11 in the morning with 5 or 7 children. She does not like the houses, that are very old and dump, and some streets full of garbage.

But to be true I enjoy less and less this place myself. I like the countryside better, but way too much dark sky and rain. With the economic crisis the city has changed a lot, it is not the one I discovered 6 years ago.

Keeping you all in my prayers, I really hope your mum will visit you someday, it's always very nice to show your country to your loved ones.
Take care Yosra. x

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

Thanks for reading!

Did you go over to Jaime's blog too?

I saw one of your nice comments on another blog floating around the web. You do get around :) May God bless you for all your kindness.

Alhumdulillah you felt the love here. It's maybe not sophisticated or glossy but it's real.

REALLY SAD to think of moms and dads drunk at 11. I had a friend of mine describe her drunk parents in America and it's alarming how normal it is all over the world. Astragferallah. Her mom was too drunk the night before her first day of school to get her supplies. As a little girl, my friend went to school without new crayons and pencils because mom had passed out on the floor. Both her parents have passed away (at early ages). Alhumdulillah she came to Islam and she is my sister now.

Back to you...Ireland is really promoted as GREEN. The Emerald Isle! Funny that it's actually gray. When I went back to America last year, I was surprised at how many cold, gloomy, sunless days there were. I missed the sun! Even though I'm not a big fan of the heat, I needed the light.

All the countries have changed so much. Egypt certainly has. I'm not sure what the coming years will bring to our nations. Inshahallah if we affiliate ourselves by our faith more than by our place of origins we will survive any uncertainty.

Love and Light to You and Yours!

Londoneya Eyan said...

Assalam Alaykum,

I loved reading this because I could relate to your mother, you and your baby boy. Having lived in Egypt for a year I still feel like a stranger who has just come out of Cairo Airport, wondering when all the noise is going to stop.

I hope your mother does come to Egypt someday and visits the great pyramids like you did when you first arrived with Mr. Boo :) (Yes, I've been reading all of your Hijrah chapters and was captivated; hope you add a few more.)

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam,

LOL at the noise! We should add, of course, that the mornings are incredibly quiet for hours. Nobody is awake!

Inshahallah my mom will come. It's a great opportunity to understand the way the other half lives.

Have you been lurking around so long? That's great :) I need to hear every now and then from lurkers. It feels better to know I'm not many ways.

I love LOVED your Adam story and would encourage others to read it:

Love and Light to you and yours!

Londoneya Eyan said...

That is very true, the mornings after Fajr is my favourite time of day! I do love your ability to also look at the positives, this has inspired me to do the same more often.

I read a large part of your Hijrah series last night, so I'm not much of a lurker sadly. Was so engrossed in your story that I couldn't comment until I reached the last chapter today. Your determination and courage has really touched and encouraged me mashaAllah.

Thank you so much for your lovely compliment, I am very happy that you think so.

I pray Allah SWT blesses you and your family with everything that is good for you and your deen in this dunya and akhera.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Londoneya,

Thank you for your comment. That's exactly what I want to hear. I could focus on all the bad...and it's there...but it wouldn't keep my world turning. I need to be a positive force---even if I am not feeling it all the time. I need to find it and share it. Then (and only then) can I enjoy the time I've got.

Ameen to your du'a. And blessings your way as well :)

If you're single and not picky I can set you up with my brother-in-law!

Can you do something for me? On your blog can you take my comment, copy it, print it yourself from me and then delete mine? I don't need to appear as anything other than "Yosra" and I can't delete my comment it seems. Let me know if you can. Thanks!