Where have I been? In America!

I have had some major life changes, including dh moving to the states to work, and me and kids staying here in Egypt. And that is not all! Anyway, I went a little out of my head, and took a trip to the states without the kids. They stayed with their Quran teacher.

I traveled Egypt Air. To be honest, I have always looked down a bit on airlines from third world countries, preferring the European Airlines for international travel. But Arab carriers tend to be cheaper, and since we’re not rich, I have tried a few, including Air Morocco, and Tunisian Airlines. Egypt Air was pleasantly surprising. Unlike Moroccan and Tunisian Airlines, there was no alcohol being served. Mashallah, the dua for travel was made by the pilot, and flashed on a screen for passengers. That felt really good, to travel with people who believe that success in anything, including travel, lies with the Lord of the world.

I’ve spoken with people who won’t travel with European carriers, cause they don’t want to travel with ‘kaafirs’, but for me it’s always been a safety issue.  And as far as I’m concerned, you can’t tell any outward difference between the Europeans lines and the ‘muslim’ ones (except Egypt Air).  Well, mashallah, Egypt Air has been around for 75 years, they were the seventh carrier in the world and the first in Africa.  I don’t know how they rate for safety, but that is noteworthy experience. The only down side was that my luggage was lost.  I shopped til I dropped for clothes/toys for the kids (partly to make up for leaving them in Egypt). and they were really disappointed.  Alhamdulillah, I got a call at 4am two days after my arrival, and they had my stuff!  All of it!  And they delivered it to my door. 

America was a bit of a shock.  All that stuff, and for cheap!  Walmart!  Dollar Stores!  Dunkin Donuts!  There was too much to choose from and I couldn’t possible get a taste of everything I’ve been missing.  Seeing my dh was the best part.  He had everything waiting for me, red roses, chocolates, even TWIZZLERS, LOL!  12 days just was not enough time, especially when I had to meet with friends and family.  Also had a very interesting experience taking my drivers test (to renew) with an Indian named ‘George’. 

No problem going through US Customs, alhamdulillah.  Was waved right through.  This was my first time traveling  alone internationally so I was confused switching over to my connecting flight, but alhamdulillah made it.  For the first time I was asked to remove my niqab in America!  I’m used to it in Egypt, but usually they’ll get you a woman.  I did have one male officer who insisted I lift up my niqab, but he was probably curious (or miffed) because I insisted I am originally from America.  I always get that, going in or out of a muslim country.  First, where are you originally from.  Me: America.  No, originally, originally.  Me: America.  Where is your father from?  Me: He’s American too.  They finally give up and hand the passport back, after insisting on seeing my face (they want to make sure I am a REAL American?).

The trip back was ok, except  I left on yawm al-Arafat and arrived on Eid.  So no fasting and no Eid prayer for me!  The person who checked me in at Delta was a muslim, who gave salaams, then mentioned that the ssss symbol on the lower right part of my ticket meant I’d been picked out for ‘additional scrutiny’.  Then he  moved me to the front of the line, to the puzzlement of the white businessmen behind me.  The Ohare screeners were pretty nice (much better than New York, where I was told to spread ’em and patted down).  Once back in Egypt the crew wished us kulli am wa antum tayyabeen.  Not really a substitute for missing Eid with family, but it’ll have to do.  I’d looked forward to getting some pics of all the slaughter that goes on in the streets, but most of it was finished by the time I got here.  Looking forward to my next visit with my dh!  

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3 Responses

  1. Hello! Your website is wonderful and your writing is just fantastic. I would like to know if you would mind if I linked to your web log from mine. You have a great insight into both Egypt and America, and it is really refreshing to read 😉

    I was so sorry to read of the hostile neighbor when you went to the park with your children, but you handled the situation very well, and hopefully someday people in the US will learn to be more comfortable with people who are not exactly like them. I am originally from San Francisco, so I grew up with all kinds of people around me and I loved every opportunity I was given to partake in various cultures. I think your children are very lucky to see so much of the world at such a young age. I hope your transition back to the US continues smoothly!

    I have one question, which may seem elementary, but I was curious about the word ‘kafir’. I always assumed that it was reserved for people who were not ‘of the book’ (i.e. Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, etc) but in a couple of your entries it seem to be applied to American and European people/societies. Is the term flexible in that it can apply to anyone who is not Muslim as well? Thanks for any clarification you can lend me, and keep up the great writing 😉

    Sarah

  2. Thanks a lot, that is the first time anyone has said my writing is fantastic. Sure you can link to my blog. In regard to different cultures, that is one of the few things I really liked about living in the Chicago area, you could hear 6 different languages in the grocery store!

    As for the word kafir, yes it basically applies to anyone not muslim. Christians and Jews are ‘People of the Book’, but they still fall under the category of kafir (disbelievers). Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Thanks for the linkage and the definition 🙂 I’ve been exploring web logs about Egypt and your writing is so lucid and informative that it really stands out. Someday I hope to visit Chicago, I hear the coastline is just beautiful!

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