Noura’s Eid Post

I want to dedicate this post to Noura. At first I did not want to write “yet another Eid post”, but we all love and support Noura and let’s face it, long distance sucks! So below is a long and detailed account of everything I ate during my stay in Damascus.

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I went to Damascus with really one thing in mind: to eat. I missed food. I didn’t care wether or not the food was healthy. It is home made food, with love from my grandma and mom. Except for shawerma of course, but it’s shawermaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

My grandma 7ayati spends most of the day cooking one meal. She goes into the kitchen at around 10 AM and we don’t get to it till 4:30 PM. But trust me when I say it’s the best dish you’d eat in your life! So for the first day I was treated to “shei5 el me7shi” (شيخ المحشي) which I was told was called “ma5shi” (مخشي) by Palestinians (correct me if I am wrong). For dinner we had whatever was in the house – cheese, eggs, shankleesh, and whatever smells weird and has been in the cupboard since last year.

The next day we were invited for breakfast at mom’s friend’s house. Too bad I was fasting because I missed out on “fatteh”. If you know me, this is without a doubt the most sacred meal to me. So not eating fatteh would hopefully be accepted as a sacrifice. But of course, if it were only fatteh. No no. They had to have everything that makes you fart for ages – fool mdammas, fool blaban, makdoos, some weird thing I tried to avoid and could swear was moving, and of course tabbouleh, fattoush o debes and that horrible creation called mtabbal.

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But I didn’t eat any of that. I busied myself by taking photos of the food.

Then I told mom to replicate that breakfast for iftar. I couldn’t say which tasted better since I didn’t have a reference, but eating fatteh (which I only eat in Damascus) made me a very happy man.

The next day my dad decided we would eat breakfast outside, much to my resentment. So that meal was totally forgettable and I do not wish to discuss it further. As an apology, my dad took me and sis to the Old City, where I usually spend my time in summers anyway.

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I love the Old City. It’s simply a brilliant spot of land. You could literally hear the walls and cobblestones talking to you. Though it was a bit quiet with most stores closed for Eid, بياعين الفستق remained open and I was obliged to take samples until I decided on the best, and I let my sister handle the price negotiations. No one says no to nice sweet girls, and ياما تحت السواهي دواهي (if this is the last post you read from me, I love you all).

At night we walked arround the Qassa3 area, one of the most beautiful spots in Damascus and a festive place. As a Christian community, everyone decorates their homes – interior and exterior – with a wonderful display of lights to celebrate Christmas and New Year. When I was there only a few were up, but I am sure by now everyone there is in FalalalalaLand.

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Then I had to invite Qabbani, who was in town, for breakfast. Actually he invited himself but then I invited him after his invitations to feel that I have a word in this LOL! So he came over and he had to eat from MY fatteh el 7aywan, bas mashi bmoon. So for revenge I had mom force him to eat lots of ma3mool and weird Arabic sweets which names I cannot be bothered to remember. They all taste the same to me – mushy sugar and nuts down my esophagus.

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Then came the big meal.

Kibbeh.

وما ادراك ما الكبة 

There is absolutely nothing more wonderful than have the whole family eating kibbeh next to the صوبية. And a pot of tea slowly being brewed on it and socks  hanging around so they can dry before we wear them to bed.

But it wasn’t tea, it seemed. It was ميرامية. I craved some مته right then but I’m the only one in the family with that acquired taste. So since mom doesn’t approve, it stays out. *sniffles*

I stuffed my suitcase with whatever food I could carry – roughly 6 kilos of food. I consumed half of them within a couple of days in Dubai and saved the rest for a rainy day.

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Pilgrim in Jordan – Amman

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – Khalil Gibran

 

You may wonder, what does a pilgrimage have to do with Jordan? To say that my trip was a journey undermines its purpose. A journey may have little or no motif that lays the foundation on which the traveler directs his step.

I traveled to Jordan on a pilgrimage; the reasons I shall keep to myself. Through this reading (and the following posts), I hope you understand the purpose of my travels.

My arrival in Amman has been greeted with frowns – which I expected – and a 20 minute “interview” at the airport, given I am the only Syrian on the plane who suspiciously arrived when a bomb blew off in Damascus that very day. I have been alerted that such things are standard procedures, but I did not expect that I had to narrate my life’s story to the head of security for entertainment in an attempt to convince him I came to Jordan for tourism and not running away from serving the Syrian military.

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Amman is a beautiful city. Some of you might be raising eyebrows (I know some of my friends in Dubai did when I told them where I was going), but I am an honest person and I can honestly say I loved Amman.

I traveled more or less everywhere – from Jabal al Taj to Al Hussein Gardens. My soul, however, found its place in downtown Amman – specifically where Knafet 7abeeba is (yes yes I know, food!). The simplicity of the place won me over the snobbish Abdoun area (which I admit, is a great place, but I don’t like such “high class” regions in a city) and seeing 7afartal, kids running about, people selling all sorts of stuff and men group-hollering and whistling at ladies next to a mosque is something you can’t not be amused about.

Amman is much cleaner than Damascus – I admit – and is overall more “higher class” (arqa). However, the differences in social class is much more noticeable in Amman. Whereas in Damascus you could travel from the richest areas to the Old City without much of a change in scenery (bar the number of people per square meter and pollution), in Amman there is a stark contrast in the quality of the roads, houses (and number of houses) as well as the types of cafes and people – how they dress, act and live.

The constant factor in Amman though, is cabs :D Anything that can be physically or verbally done against someone’s genitals can be learned from cab drivers.

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It felt great to smell clean air. Clean? Yes clean. No dust, no humidity… a chilling, crisp breeze with clouds hung low. I miss the clouds, the blue sky, the clean fresh air – especially after the rain. The smell of the grass and the trees, and the wind, even if it is in downtown mixed with car fumes.

Amman was the start of my pilgrimage. This is just a post of many to come – the Dead Sea, Amman again, and the grand finale of Petra and Rum. So stay tuned, and enjoy the Amman’s photos on my photo blog (I will upload the rest when the appropriate post is published!)

PS: for a brief cynical overview of the whole trip, check out Hamza’s post

The Sighting of the Moon?

Finally for once the whole Muslim world agreed that Ramadan starts September 1st (edit, Silent Reader pointed out Libya and Iran started differently).

Now I get an email stating that Eid will be “dependant on the sighting of the moon”.

My question is: WHY?!

Science has come a long way now and we can predict weather (which fall under Chaos Theory) so definitely we can predict something as systematic as the lunar cycle.

It pisses me off when for instance, Saudi Arabia says they saw the moon, so Ramadan starts, and Syria says they didn’t see anything and they delay Ramadan by one day. I thought the moon is a universal phenomena and won’t really change much if you go vertically up just a little in lattitude. If it appears in one place, it should appear pretty much everywhere in the region (poles excluded but will come to that later).

Which brings me to the point of Qadr. I am fine with not having the exact date revealed and that it is most likely 27. Now, aside from the fact that some people say “the night changes every year” *rolls eyes… I mean if the Quran was revealed on 27 then it is 27 on all Ramadans not 27 in one and 23 in another*… when we have different countries starting with different dates then which country is actually “correct” about the night (let us assume it is 27)?

A sheikh in one khutba said “but this is one of the great miracles!”. I am not going to that mosque again.

Now let’s assume I’m following the traditional way and I am living in Antarctica. I get 6 months plus worth of total darkness and a couple of months of total sunshie. Strictly speaking, then, a lunar month is 29-30 years there.

What if the moon flew off orbit or it exploded? Will Islam be doomed? Will we then resort to the scientific, calculated dates? We’re doing it for PRAYERS… I mean God forbid they said Iftar is at 6:23 and it is actually 6:24!

I can understand when 1400 years ago the sighting of the moon was the best if not only indication for the new lunar month. But now in 2008 things are different. Islam told us to embrace science, to seek it and make use of it. Why aren’t we? They’re predicting the exact timing of a prayer can’t they predict what stage the moon is in?!

Eid Mubarak :D I will be freezing in Jordan (it is 27C-31C at night here and 3C-7C at night there) starting from tomorrow LOL!

PS: You don’t need to call me a lying blaspheming infidel. Am a believer and like everyone else I just have questions and seek answers.

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