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.

 

 

Expat vs Immigrants

Image result for melting pot in New york

I once had someone ask my thoughts on the difference between expats and immigrants. When I was searching in the internet for blogs of people who had moved to Egypt so that I could get a glimpse of their experiences to prepare me my move, I came across the word “expat” a lot. Once in a blue moon no matter how many years you have lived in an English spoken country, you will learn common words that you have no idea how you have missed it before. Expat was one of those words that I have never heard or learned throughout the 16 years of living in the US.

Growing up in USA I was always revered to as an immigrant or a green card holder. Every time I would hear that word “immigrant” or “green card holder”, I would grouch my teeth, as it always made me feel inferior or marginalized. I faced a lot of discrimination and verbal bullying for simply being an immigrant. So when she asked me what my thoughts on expat vs immigrants were, I immediately went back to that bad feeling I had with the word “immigrant”.

She had told me something interesting which got me thinking. “Expats are always revered to white people and immigrant are for the people of color”. Although to some extend she is right, she had never lived in America and didn’t know that even white people that are not born there are revered to as immigrants. Off course, class status, country and your purpose to moving to the United States can have an affect on how people precede towards your migration. A Saudi Arabian, Angolan, Chinese, German student who is privileged enough to study in the United States is revered to as international student. This student is not here to stay and take away the jobs of hard working Americans, in fact, these students are very good for the American economy because they come here, their government or rich parents pay for the schools and they often spend a lot of money.

Now a white Romanian who has migrated to the United States in the hopes of catching the “American dream” will face a lot of obstacles and discrimination as  a Latino would, holding the same purpose for migration.

However, when moving to Egypt, I faced something very different. Expats are those who have a special passport from either “USA, Canada, UK, German, European Union and some others”. Are also the diplomats, international lawyers, petroleum employees and international companies that hold employees from overseas.

Every other immigrant are either refugees from Middle East, East Asia, Sub-Saharian Africans and what we like to consider as “others” for the very minority groups.

With this I felt very uncomfortable as well, when all the sudden I was given privileges and priorities for simply being an American passport holder. Throughout my life in United States, I had to fight harder, had to over come many obstacles because I didn’t have the same privileges as someone who simply was born in the US. You can imagine how strange it is to all the sudden have the roles switched on me.

I like to tell people that I am a Cape Verdean American Muslim revert, living in Egypt who’s lives very much like an Egyptian woman. In other words, I am a little bit of both, not quite American and not entirely Egyptian. You can expect this to be very difficult for me, as I don’t hold the same privileges that any other Americans or expats would, living in fancy places and putting their children in expensive international schools nor do I share some of the same values or perspective in life as many Egyptian woman do.

So, there you have it, these are some of my thoughts on “expats vs. immigrants”. What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you feel the same or different? What are your experiences and feelings with theses two words? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Entrepreneur

How many people can say that they make money doing something they LOVE?

United States is a land of opportunities but it’s a land of many BILLS as well. Many people are forced to work in torturous jobs in order to pay bills while compromising their time to do instead what they love.

I was definitely one of those people. I was stuck in a job that I absolutely dreaded waking up in the morning to go to, in order to pay my rent,  student loans, miscellaneous expenses and while saving money. I envied those that took changes to earn money doing something they love even if that money is minuscule. I was forced to give up the job that enriched me with enough resources to live well (in terms of having material possessions). At first I went into a depression when I got laid off because I have a baby on the way and I know how expensive a baby can be. Reflecting my life now ,I am not in total desperate, even though my money is limited but I am wasting my energy in finding what I love and actually pursuing it.

The pictures bellow are of people that are promoting their talents on the streets of Boston. In a way they are entrepreneurs even though they do not own their own business. From talented singers with amazing voices or instrumental skills to artists and craftsmen. Boston is full of art and people that take courage to make a living doing what they love. Sure their lives might not be filled with the most up to date material gadgets but their souls are being fed with fulfillment.

545869_4039797519653_2000803502_nIndigenous Ecuadorian selling bracelets at Harvard Square. He sells the bracelets with his wife and learned the technique in his native country. He was teaching me the difference between Kechwa and Kichwa language. Apparently, Quechua has 5 vowels which Kichwa only has 3.

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560734_4039796759634_641635947_nSome of the bracelets that he sells. I was not able to find my country Cape Verde but I bought another beautiful bracelet instead.

471576_3980255151131_2109888538_oYou see a lot of life status in the summer, each one of these status artists have their unique customs and story telling.  They are completely motionless until you put coins or bills in their buckets.

562828_4425276076376_1936182408_nTheir stillness is an art on it’s own.

SONY DSCSpray painting. This guy was making paintings in 10 minutes. AMAZING!

599256_4146305782293_2054551367_nLife Cuban music.

SONY DSCMy favorite guitarist. Every weekend he plays at State street.

SOME REFLECTING QUESTIONS….

Do you earn money doing something you LOVE ?

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Do you work just for the money?

Would you change your career path to do something that makes you happy even if you do not earn enough money?

How do you balance between quality of life with material quality?

Is it possible to have both, happiness and success?

Is your work overshadowing who you truly are?

Please, share if you do earn your money doing something you love, or work but detest what you do. If you have any talents or skills that you think should be shared with the world. I would love to read your input.