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Tag Archives | mosques

In the suburbs no one can hear you scream

I live in the suburbs now.  From the maelstrom of Union Square in Manhattan to the slightly more sedate “urban” experience of highrise in downtown Abu Dhabi was one shift. But in a weird way the shift from one cityscape to another wasn’t as big a shift as the move from city to the ‘burbs.  It’s so quiet here . . . and when I walk around at night I’m always slightly on edge because my footsteps echo in the emptiness.  But the thing I miss most, weirdly, is hearing the call to prayer, which had become the regular punctuation for my day, when I lived “in town,” as we say now.

In The National today, I wrote about my sense of suburban displacement. You can read the article here and don’t be afraid to share it around: show The National a little social media love (and me, too, while you’re at it).  Thanks.  Would love to hear your thoughts in comments.

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I took this photo of the Grand Mosque last winter during an unusual rainy day

Continue Reading · on November 22, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, environment, expat, NaBloPoMo, NYC, religion, The National, Travel, UAE

mosques

Just at the afternoon adhan today, I was out walking in the neighborhood near my office, searching for candy a nutritious snack to carry me through four hours of back-to-back meetings.

I am struck always, in Abu Dhabi, by the juxtaposition of glassy office towers against the ancient worlds summoned up in the call to prayer, the way the modern quite literally bumps up against the old.

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I am struck too by the dailiness of religious practice, which I suppose to someone with a strong faith (in any tradition) would not be at all striking.  I don’t mean “daily” in the sense of praying every day (although of course people do, and five times a day, to boot), but in the sense of being ordinary, comforting, homely: the trusting pile of scuffed shoes waiting outside the plain door of the mosque.

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Continue Reading · on November 12, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, expat, NaBloPoMo, religion, street notes, UAE

grace in small things: uae version

Schmutzie writes a blog over there in the upper-left quadrant of North America, in Saskatchewan (a word that is worth saying out loud); she writes well and wisely about everything from photography to toe socks, design to cats.  One of the many projects you’ll find on the masthead of her blog is “Grace in Small Things,” which is a “daily reminder to take notice of the positive things we tend to overlook. You are hereby challenged to find the joy in small things, because life is short and love is large.”

Not bad advice, right?

On the 12th of October we will have been in Abu Dhabi for two months. Somedays it feels like we’ve been here forever in a good way and sometimes it feels like we’ve been here forever in a bad way. I’m afraid that lately my emails home to friends have sounded whiny: living here is haaaarrrd, I’m lonnnnnely, I miss my friennnnds…  Like that.

So I think it would behoove me (behoove, that’s another good word, isn’t it?) to start looking around this new world where I live and finding myself some grace notes, dammit. It might not make the whining stop…but then again, it might (another good anti-whining device? Click over to the GIST website and listen to the ukelele version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I dare you not to smile.)

The gauntlet Schmutzie throws down is five things: find five grace notes in your day, your week, your whatever.  Here goes.

1.What I see when I walk out of my office:

It reminds me that I live in a very new city in a very ancient part of the world.

2. This billboard, which I also see every morning. The question sort of reverberates around in my head: where is my moon? where is my moon? where is my moon? where is my moon?

3. The smiley-face and question mark (it’s not a photo reversal, that’s how the question mark is drawn in Arabic) decorating the hood of this Porsche:

4. My younger son’s feet: perfect, smooth, curved, elegant:

5. The fact that I can get camel milk at the grocery store and drink it in the coffee I get from the Lebanese coffee roasting place. Camel milk. Me! A nice girl from the Midwest, land o’cows, drinking camel’s milk. Funny, the journeys we take:

 

Where have you found grace these last few months?

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Continue Reading · on October 9, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, expat, grace in small things, street notes

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