free stats Carmen's Web: Reaching Out for Familiarity
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Reaching Out for Familiarity
Ramadan has been really lonely for me this year. Really, really lonely. It's the first time I've been observing it alone. My brother went to San Francisco this past week and so without him acting as a buffer between my mother and I I've simply avoided going home. Poor brother. He's stuck in the middle trying to make sure mother and daughter continue to have some form of communication though being used as the messenger is aggravating him.

He's also now bearing the brunt of religious "advice" from my mother and my aunt, both of whom consistently stuff holiness down his throat since I'm now a heathen. Before he left for San Fran he got trapped into a nearly 45 minute conversation via Skype with my aunt who informed him that his fast would be invalidated if he went to San Francisco since he was going to be staying with a female friend. She spent 30 minutes trying to convince him not to go, or to at least stay at a hotel, 5 minutes telling him that she would ask the sheikh if it would be permissible for him to stay with a woman even if she was just a friend, and 10 minutes chastising him for choosing to become an anesthesiologist rather than a surgeon. Fun times.

Anywho, lonely Ramadan. I come home from work every day, watch whatever Netflix movie has arrived in the mail, killing the two hours till sunset. A couple of minutes before sunset I turn to the Arabic channel so I'd be able to hear the adan, heat up my food, drink my amarredin, eat, drink tea, sit and watch TV for the rest of the night. It's boring. It's lonely. It's so lonely that at times I open my window as I'm sipping my tea just to listen to my next door neighbors. They're an older Egyptian couple, which means their conversation is quite audible to anyone living on planet earth. I like listening to their ART. Everyday she serves him his tea and he's always complaining that it doesn't have enough sugar. I think she does it to fuck with him. They provide really fun entertainment.

Last night I strolled down Steinway Street, aka "Little Egypt", where middle-aged men had comfortably plumped themselves outside the coffee shops. They puffed on their shishas while drinking their tea and engaging in idle talk. One man, as large as a truck, complained that his wife was making him fat as he stuffed basboosa into his mouth. As I walked I passed a man fervently walking to the mosque, eyes fixated heavily to the ground. He was on a mission; the man was going to pray and no beauty was going to distract him. (Steinway is also home to Latino hang-outs and the Latinas can be quite distracting, particularly on a warm Friday night)

I loved walking down the street. Loved seeing the lanterns hung outside all the shops and for a moment wished I were closer (close) to the Egyptian community. To listen to the jokes, to hear the language, be part of the sarcasm. I wish they weren't so judgmental, so hard, so righteous. I don't know how or when I detached myself from the community, but this detachment is beginning to have a strong effect on me. It's throwing me off-balance and perhaps that's why I was drawn to Steinway last night.

Before I headed back home I went into a deli to buy some fuul. I've been feening for it recently, and for some good konafa, and decided it was about time I satisfy my cravings. There were a couple of teenage girls in there, in really cool higab. They couldn't have been more than 14. Let me tell you, they were LOUD. At one point, one turned to her friend to show her the title of a CD. "Yo, take a look at this CD! It's called "Turkeylicious" son! Son, ain't this great son!!!?"

The girls were infectious. I loved how comfortably they existed in both their worlds - the traditional Arab one and the ghetto New York one.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 1:05 PM
| link to this post
| 14 added their 2 cents worth! |

Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

Want more? Click here!

You can email me here image hosting and photo sharing