Thursday, June 23, 2016


I went to the mobile phone company to sort out some issues I was having with my phone service. There was only one attendant in the shop and a line was forming. There was one person in front of me who was being helped, a middle aged woman in a short, tight fitting dress - she was taking a lot of time making decisions.  While we were waiting,  a man walked in, actually he limped in. He appeared to have a disability of some kind and he was possibly a bit inebriated too. He looked a bit rough with the weather-worn skin and hands of a fisherman. He was dressed in shorts and a half unbuttoned khaki-colored cotton shirt. He greeted everyone and then proceeded to tell a joke:

"What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?" he said looking at the woman in front of me. She stood for a moment thinking and then replied "I really don't know". He smiled and said "A stick!" We all laughed and the shop keeper continued to help the customer. He glanced up at me and said "I'll be right with you."

I waited patiently, looking at the products on display. The man who told the joke groaned and held his side, he was in obvious pain. He grimaced, then turned and limped out of the shop. The shop keeper looked up, noting that the man had left. I could tell he was getting a bit impatient with the woman who couldn't make up her mind, but he stoically answered her questions and offered some suggestions. Finally, she was finished and it was my turn. 

The shop keeper apologized for taking so long and then looked up at me and greeted me in Arabic "Assalamualaikum." I answered him likewise in Arabic "Walaikumasalam," and then proceeded in English to tell him about the problem I was having with the phone service. It turned out to be something he hadn't faced before and he needed to make a call to find some answers. The shop's door opened and in limped the man who had been in before. "Do you just need to pay for service?" the shop keeper asked him. "Yes," he said. The shop keeper looked at me and asked "Is is all right if I help him first? It will only take a moment." Of course I agreed. Others in line behind me were not so thrilled, but the man was obviously in severe pain and it was better to help him first. The man grimaced and held his side and then proceeded to tell us another joke:

"What do you call a cow with no legs?" he asked. We all looked at one another, no one had the answer. "Ground beef! A cow with no legs is called ground beef!" he exclaimed. We all laughed and the man reached his hand out to take his change from the shop keeper. While doing so the contents of his wallet; cards and bits of paper, fell out and scattered on the floor. He was not in any condition to bend over to pick them up. The customers behind me sighed loudly. The shop keeper calmly reached down to retrieve the papers and cards. "I'm so sorry," the man apologized, "I'm not well." and then trying to make light of the situation he jokingly said "I have a few broken ribs. I guess I chose the wrong ex-girl friend." He chuckled as he collected his belongings, then thanked the shop keeper and left.

My problem was quickly sorted out and the shopkeeper said in Arabic "Shokran," and "Wasalamualaikum." I said goodbye (in Arabic) and left. I have no idea where the shopkeeper was from, but it was pleasant to share a polite, and patient, exchange. I'm not sure others would have been so patient.

Assalamualaikum: Peace be upon you. - a formal greeting
Walaikumasalam: Upon you be peace.  - a formal reply 
Shokran: Thank you

Monday, June 20, 2016

Half of Ramadan & a Link

We've reached the halfway mark in Ramadan. I've noticed a few things about this stage of fasting, namely that you are in the fasting groove and it feels like you can accomplish anything. Also the appetite has decreased - finishing a bowl of soup becomes a challenge.

It's been a few years since I spent Ramadan away from a Muslim country. People are eating and drinking everywhere I go. The supermarket is filled with all kinds of delicious things. Food is everywhere, but I don't feel very hungry or thirsty. Three weeks ago I couldn't go anywhere without my water bottle in the Florida heat, but now I can go the entire day without a sip of water and not feel that I am missing out which is quite amazing because I usually drink water throughout the day. Subhan'allah.... Physically I feel better. A lot better! 

On a less positive note: Ramadan in Libya this year has not been very pleasant. The power cuts continue. People are not able to withdraw money from the banks which means they cannot buy the food and supplies needed to feed their families. There are reports of lines at gas stations. The water supply has been cut to the capitol and other parts of the country. Fighting continues, kidnapping continues, shortages of medicine and medical supplies continues....  People are protesting but nothing is changing.   

I hope and pray that the remaining half of Ramadan continues to be easy for me, but also that there are improvements for those suffering in Libya. 

Sharing a link: I came across a blog written by an Italian, Arnaldo Guidatti, who has been living in Libya for 17 years and blogging for two. He has an interesting perspective about life and current events in Libya. I will add his blog, Europe & Libya to the links on my sidebar when I get a chance to sort them all out as many of the blogs that were listed are now gone and the list needs updating. He's written a post about this year's Ramadan in Libya: RAMADAN IN LIBIA in collaborazione con un Musulmano  the post is in both Italian and English. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Short Trip in Ramadan

I was fortunate enough to be able to take a quick (very quick!) business trip during the first few days of Ramadan. Travelers are exempt from fasting and are expected to make up the days they miss, but I decided to fast anyway. I would be too busy during the day to bother with eating and the hotels I was going to be staying in had excellent restaurants. 

I did have a dilemma though - who would take care of my mother while I was away? I managed to arrange for a dear friend to take my mother to a doctor's appointment and she also took her out for lunch and dinner one evening. Ibrahim was finished with school, so he was home with his grandmother. My oldest son was there for her when he wasn't at work. It worked out for the few days I was away. 

Another problem was a tropical storm that was brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening to turn into a hurricane! Before I left I stocked up on hurricane supplies; bottled water and food, and I made sure there was cooking gas and flashlights. 

Off I went. The first day of Ramadan found me flying above the beautiful Caribbean Sea. What a lovely sight to behold!

I arrived in Martinique in the late afternoon. The sky was overcast as they too were being affected by the tropical storm. I found out later on that a "yellow" tropical storm warning had been issued which indicates potentially dangerous weather. I asked the person who told me this what was next and they said "orange which means things are worse than yellow and you better be really careful, followed by red which means you better not even think about going outside"

I went for a walk around. The blue and white of the pool in stark contrast with the clouds and storm in the distance makes for an interesting photo.

Martinique is a mountainous volcano island. The earth is black and the tropical green rain forests reach down to the beaches.  There are butterflies and hummingbirds everywhere and you can hear parrots squawking high up in the trees. 

In the Caribbean the sun sets early, at about 6:30pm. I walked to a nearby shopping centre and super market. Martinique is an overseas region of France so the supermarket was fully stocked with French products - and Tunisian dates! I picked up a few things to break my fast with and snack on during the night.  

The sun set quickly. This was the view from my room.

I broke fast and then went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. In what seemed like minutes the sky was pitch black. The restaurant didn't open until 7 o'clock. I got there a little early and found one of the waitresses using a broom to push away frogs that had found their way into the open dining area. The air was full of the sound of the croaking of frogs. 

The next day I took a short afternoon flight to the island of Guadeloupe, which is another island in France's overseas territories. I arrived at my hotel very near Maghreb (sunset) and within minutes of my arrival it was time to find my way to the hotel's restaurant for what was to be my breakfast. 

This restaurant was also open to the sea and served a huge buffet filled with Caribbean cuisine. Many Creole specialties and a strong French influence - I wanted to taste everything but there was only so much I could eat. Everything tasted delicious.  I will definitely try my hand at a few Guadeloupean recipes this Ramadan.

Guadeloupe, like Martinique was full of tropical birds and the night was full of the croaking of frogs which you can hear in the video I made while eating my fast breaking meal. 

This was an amazing way to spend the first few days of Ramadan. I arrived home to find that in the end the storm never developed into a hurricane, and the area where my mother lives just had a lot of rain and some flooding, but my mother's house was not affected. I hope one day I get the chance to return to Martinique and Guadeloupe. My visit was way too short. 

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Ramadan Wishes

Wishing all who celebrate a peaceful and blessed Ramadan. 
May Allah accept your fasts and reward you in this life and in the hereafter. 

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