Hidden Gem in Al Maadi, Cairo

If you are an expat family living in the old area of Maadi, one of the things that you might notice right away, is the difficulties of finding any public playgrounds for kids to play.  One of the hardest transitions for me, has been the lack of public green spaces for kids to burn off their energy.  Everything here seems to be privatized, where you need to pay an expensive membership in order to belong to any sporting clubs. There are a couple of public places where you have to pay a small fee but it might not be in the best of conditions and/or safe for kids to play in. Egypt does not have many public green spaces but in old Maadi you can find areas with gorgeous villas surrounded by exotic and local plants, trees and a couple of facilities that offer play areas for kids.

I found this literally hidden gem (since there are no signs at the door) online while searching for kid’s friendly coffee places. I came across Osana Family Welness or what I like to call “the pink door” or “the place” and fell absolutely in love with the place.

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The Osana Family center is a facility that focuses on holistic approaches to health, mainly through many types of yoga, massages, acupuncture, facial and they even take care of your psychological health with couple therapy and many more. On their website, under their vision statement Osana said;

Osana aims to take holistic living to new horizons within the local community. By facilitating wellness in all its forms, we promote a lifestyle that exists beyond its walls and hope to assist those pursuing a wholesome life in achieving it.

This place also has great, fresh, organic, healthy food all made from a chef in house but most importantly they sell one of the best coffees in the area.

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My favorite part about Osana is the openness, it is surrounded by greenery and various spaces to sit and chill with a playground and a sand pit where kids can play away. To top it off, you don’t have to pay any entrance fee which is so rare around this area and the security guy at the gate is the most genuine and helpful person I’ve met at a working place thus far. Osana has a great working culture where all employees are qualified and trained to deal with customers with respect and in a polite way.

This is a truly special place and  no wonder why it is gaining it’s popularity and success through word of mouth. I can go on and on, talking wonders about this place that you would think I am getting payed for. The truth is, I have all the respect for a business that carters towards the overall well being of its community.

If you are in the area than come by and see all the hype for yourself. Make sure you check out their website Osana Welness Center. If you think they don’t offer what you want, at bare minimal, it is a place where you are literally chill, read a book and enjoy nature in this chaotic, brick jungle.

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Ramadan Series-Day 17

I used to roll my eyes upon hearing my friends telling stories of Ramadan in their home countries. Part of my attitude was due to ignorance, not knowing what Ramadan was like in a Muslim country. The other was triggered by jealously upon hearing stories about family gatherings and traditions that I was not able to create with my non Muslim family.

This is my second Ramadan in Egypt and I must say that my friends were right, celebrating this month in a Muslim country is very different than in the United States. However, there are both cons and pros being in these two countries during the holy month.

Pros of Ramadan in Egypt;

  • The whole country evolves around this month. People are able to go to work a little later and/or come home early to break their fast. Image result for ramadan in egypt
  • The streets are lighten with Ramadan decorations.
  • After breaking the fast, the streets are filled with excitement and movement.
  • Eating many traditional foods and sweets
  • People are more prosperous towards each other. This month is also a great month for giving charity. Therefore, people make a great effort to feeding the poor, giving money to beggars and donate unwanted stuff.
  • There is less chaos during the hours of fasting.
  • Family/friends visiting each other to break the fast together.
  • Three days off to celebrate the end of Ramadan

Image result for ramadan in egypt

 

Image result for ramadan in egypt

Cons of Ramadan in Egypt:

  • The daily routines get thrown out of the window. People stay up in the late hours at night and wake up super late.
  • The heat is beyond unbearable.
  • People tend to eat a lot and unhealthy during this month defeating the purpose of eliminating excess consumption and building empathy for those who do not have food to eat on a daily basis.
  • There is a stigma for eating in public for the people that exempt from fasting, for example, if you are a pregnant woman, breastfeeding mother, sick, on the menstruation cycle or even a Christian it is very hard to eat in public without judgment.
  • As a woman, you are not able to assist the Friday prayer and the extra prayer at the mosque

Pros of Ramadan in United States:

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  • Routine, the fact that it is Ramadan does not change the daily duties and responsibilities that need to be preformed. Although, the country does not change to support the Muslims during this month, actually can have great benefits, such as being organized on what you need to do towards your Islamic practices throughout the day and how one is going to accomplish the goals one sets for himself during this month.
  • Getting invited to friend’s house and enjoying a different culture and traditions while breaking the fast.
  • Going to the mosque and praying the extra prayer as a woman.
  • More changes to demonstrate Islam in a positive away and break the misconceptions seen in the media. Image result for ramadan in united states
  • No judgment if a Muslim is walking down the street holding a cup of coffee.

Cons of Ramadan in the United States:

  • No understanding from your job if you all the sudden are less productive and tired at work.
  • Breaking the fast during break time which sometimes consist of a 30 minute break, where we have to eat, drink and pray.
  • Life doesn’t stop in this month so if one is not organized, one can loose many opportunities for extra good deeds, charity and prayers.
  • No payed holiday for celebrating the end of Ramadan unless one uses his own vacation or personal time.
  • Not hearing the call for prayer and enjoying the Quran being recited in the streets.
Disclaimer:These are my personal experiences in both of the countries during Ramadan. It isn’t by any means a whole representation each of these countries.

P.S: I would love to hear what Ramadan is like where you live. Comment down bellow, where you are currently living and what are your Ramadan traditions.

 

 

Ramadan 2017 Series-Day 2

Today was very difficult to fast. For some reason I was not able to sleep during the night. I am not sure if I got an indigestion due to my late snack or the reason for not being sleepy was caused by my late nap. I also think I have a lot of energy after my dinner and should have done some light exercises.

Despite how difficult today was, I was able to sustain my fast. However, today’s post will not be about my challenging fast while pregnant but about something that I have stuck on my mind. Ramadan is a perfect opportunity to break bad habits but yet right after time to break the fast people quickly fill up the coffee house (or whatever they are called).

These coffee shops that men frequent so much here in Egypt is still a mystery to me. It just baffles me how men waste so much time in these coffee places, playing games, smoking shisha and cigarettes. I can’t stop and wonder where are the women married to these men. The obvious answer is that they are home but I can’t fathom conforming with the idea of my husband spending his time at coffee shops while I at home taking care of domestic work.

Image result for coffee shops in egypt

Image result for coffee shops in egypt

It is a very strong tradition here in Egypt and I believe it goes back to pre-Islamic times. It is the biggest entertainment for men. In fact there are numerous reasons why men frequent coffee houses, such as;

  • A quick meet up with friends. The coffee place is  perfect for a quick chatter and catching up with a friend without having to host him in the house. Egyptian men are very protective of their wives and even close friends would hardly frequent a married man’s house unless he is bring his wife and kids and the whole nigh yards.
  • It’s a place where men often talk about business, work related topics and politics
  • To enjoy a cup of coffee and tea before or after anything. For example, going to work, let me drink a cup of tea even though I just had one at home. Coming out of the Friday prayer, one might think, “Oh that was a profound sermon, let me grab a cup of tea and ponder about it”. You get my point
  • In some cases people are plain addicted to the shisha and games that these coffee places offer to men.
  • To watch a popular football game

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Before you wonder how unfair it is for the Egyptian women, I must tell you that there are coffee places for mixed gender where a women can enjoy a cuppa tea or coffee and even some shisha. The demand for these coffee shops are mainly shaped by the men.

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During the holy month of Ramadan your deeds and sins are doubled and I wonder if it ever ponders in these men’s heads that what they are doing should be avoided especially during Ramadan. Since good deeds are counted as doubled, the time wasted at the coffee shops could have been used to spending time with family, helping the wives around the house. Where bad deeds such as hurting your self and wasting time in meaningless games will be counted as doubled as well.

These men stubbornness to frequent the coffee houses even in the holy month makes me question their intentions during Ramadan. Sometimes, I feel that Islam is infused in their culture so much so that most people can’t distinguish what is Islam and what is culture unless one remains engaged with his religion and builds a constant knowledge in Islam.

Nevertheless to say, I hope you are having a wonderful Ramadan and that God will accept you fast, prayers, good intentions and good deeds. I hope God will make us an unbreakable and strong community. May this month be a blessed one for you and may it bring you closer to your Creator.