Sunday, December 31, 2006

2nd day of Eid

The plan was to wake up early and head out to Markham for a surprise trip, my younger sisters had no idea where we were taking them, it was really fun when they discovered that we arrived at the Pacific Mall: the largerst chinese mall in north ameraica.

We had loads of fun checking out everything there, from cute little techy shops, clothes, to games, toys and food, there is also a heritage area upstairs which is made to look like a traditional market, we picked up some more SUSHI (raw salmon, veggie, avacado, and fried shrimp) then we left the place after strolling aroundfor about two hours.

We took the don valley back and my mom was actually running out of gas for the car, it was really terrible because she only stops at full service gas stations and all the ones we passed were self serve. Finally we found one which happened to be CLOSED, it was near Jarvis where mom and I go weekly to the area. She was forced to stop at a self serve after we've been so low and the car almost stopped, mom had her first lesson from a really kind lady who helped her out after she went in to ask for help.

I took tons of pictures while we drove off and around through the downtown, passed the CN tower and near the lake all the way home. We were all drained, tired and hungry as soon as we arrived home so we had our sushi and some fresh bread for a late lunch.. it was really amazing, I can't believe how much I love it.
My two sisters LOVED the fried shrimp sushi however when they found out that they had some caviar inside they freaked out and began washing out their mouths, it was hilarious and I doubt they're ever going to eat that type again, my other sister stuck to the avacado to be safe.

Later on in the evening we're invited to our grandparents house and at the moment my sisters are playing Tennis on Wii, well.. it looks like fun and I'm off to join them.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Eid is finally here!

Today was a wonderful first day of Eid... we woke early to get ready for the prayer which was performed at a rented banquette hall.
By time we arrived there it was snowing lightly but as we left and got home the weather was better, not too cold but still a couldy day. We began joking, taking photos and eating candy even on the way back, my sisters stuffed their purses with candy and so that was wonderful.

As we arrived back home we undressed and went back into our pijamas or comfy clothes, then we began videoing and opening all the lovely gifts.. it was really great, everyone was surprised and really happy, this is truly the best year ever!
I got my camera out realy and began taking pictures of everything - the last gift we opened was the Nintendo Wii, my sister took a bit to set it all up then we tested it out, GREAT fun the tennis was, then we tried bowling and golf, now as I write my mom and youngest sister are boxing (yeah and it's 10:30 PM :P)

Yesterday night we got an early Eid gift from my sister, she surprised us with Ice Age2, it was such a funny movie, I had to watch it again today so we all sat down earlier around 6:00 and watched it over after a pizza dinner.

Back to earlier in the day, around noon after a light Sushi snack that we picked up on the way home in the morning we were off to get dressed for photos, everyone put on their lovely clothes, shoes, makeup, hair was done and everyone looked amazing, we spent the afternoon playing more Wii and checking out the other Wii games.

My sisters were really surprised with their gifts, my youngest sister got an FX master replica Luke Skywalker lightsaber which she's been wanting for a while, she was really surprised.
My second sister got the playstation portable, and she was also really excited because she didn't expect it. It wasn't until I pulled out "Call of duty 3" for the Xbox 360 that she almost cried, we watched videos of her over and over of her expression when she tore open the paper, I'd say that was the best moment of the entire day : )
My third sister got a coach handbag which I picked out myself, I wasn't sure how she'd react to it but upon seeing it I knew it was her style and though it was a big gamble getting it I'm so glad she loved it to pieces!
Other gifts include books, PSP games, Xbox and Wii games, cash, stuffed animals, and other cute little collectibles.Our kitty got a nice big bag of Fancy feast along with a little plastic turtle and fuzzy octopus.

Tomorrow (inshaa Allaah) we'll be taking my sisters somewhere as a surprise - I can't mention it here either as I'm not sure if any of them are lurking around here ; ) I'll post more about it later.. all I'm saying now is that I hope I'm able to pick up some more sushi tomorrow.

Here is my flickr album, there is a lot more uploaded there. Here are some pics below of the day.






Thursday, December 28, 2006

Flickr is finally here!


I've uploaded all the photos from my camera and even upgraded my flickr to pro. ($29 CND through paypal)

Check out the Eid candies, ohh how I want some but my sister won't let us until tomorrow.

Adventuress Heart

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post Boxing day blues

This morning I could hardly get out of bed, yesterday evening my legs began to ache but today it's unbearable, I'd say we walked around that mall at least 10 days (5 times around each, top and bottom levels) and even my sisters complains from the aches. I think I'll need another three days to recover from that, so I spent all morning watching downloadable episodes of Viva Pinata on the Xbox and then slowly began to clean up as I regained some energy.
Mom was up bright and early and she did all the Eid grocery shopping as well as pop by the hardware store for some plugs so we can put up a mirror near the front entrance of the apartment.
I'm still unsure of the menu, mom wasn't able to get her hands on a halal turkey but what we know for sure is that we'll be making a berry trifle (inspired by Animal Crossing! It was my youngest sister's idea when she overheard Filbert and another town villager speaking about the yummy dessert)
We'll have the trifle as a Eid brunch or when we get back from the prayer at 10:00 AM and after opening gifts.

We've begun wrapping gifts, pet kitty's gift was bought yesterday at the mall though it's a surprise so I'll have to wait until Eid to see what it is. We also picked out a cute little hello kitty keychain and wallet for my youngest sister as an extra.

Yesterday was really fun, and I made some great purchases, am I a shopoholic in the making? That's very likely but I think I did better than usual this time, after all who could resist, now I just need some slippers ....... and oh how I can't wait until the spring stuff comes out ... *"ok ok, must stop*

Not to get carried away I do have some personal guidlines in place which I follow to the T..

I hate when people's closets are overloaded with clothes, I remember once around 10 years old poping by my teachers house before school, she asked me to come in and showed me her room, she was young and still living with her parents but her room was a MESS, she had clothes everywhere and she really loved shopping/dressing up and looking good - she always did look good but when I saw how aweful her room looked it turned me off.
I don't want to have exess things that I don't wear or don't know even exist in my closet, plus I don't want to leave anything behind if I ever have to go on another adventure therefore ..

Rule #1: Must not have too many clothes to exceed the limit.
The limits are my two Delsey suitcases, a large hardcase and a smaller black trolly case, all belongings including from clothes, shoes, jewellery, personal items and sentimental things and even some books MUST be able to all fit in those two cases. (except for winter coat)

Rule #2 : Before purchasing an item at the store or mall I must analyze the following in my head:
- Whether I totoally love the item (liking is not enough)
- Trends, status and buying for fun should never influence my decission. - I must be able to match and at least come up with a whole outfit I could wear it with in my head.

Rule #3: - Charity: any item purchased over $100 - 10% of the price must be donated to charity, so $10 for every $100 or $100 on every thousand. The money must be on hand at the time or purchase or else the item can not be bought.

Rule #4: By any chance if I don't like what I bought or feel it doesn't suit me or fit properly it should be returned, hence the bill should always be kept in a safe place.

Now that shouldn't be too bad : )

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing day Shopping


Every single time we go to Square One shopping centre in Mississauga it rains!! How weird is that!

This morning we all woke bright and early (well actually at fajr - dawn- time as we do daily for prayer) kitty was confused and wondering what was so different about today, after prayinga dn while mom made some barley and milk we shared stories of the day my sisters and I headed out early to line up for the Wii on it's release date, that was fun. After a shower we all headed to the mall braving the crowds.

The plan was for mom to stick with the younger girls while my sisters and I went around to do whatever shopping we can meanwhile picking up a last gift. The mall wasn't so crowded
but as noon approached the crowds grew and certain areas of the mall were very full, I couldn't believe my eyes when we passed by the Guess store for the fourth time, the store was FULL of boys and girls and there was a huge line outside plus a security guard posted at the entrance, other stores like French Connection were the same.

Staff, sales associates and mall employees looked very very drained and busy, I felt quite sorry for them, they could hardly work up the energy to answer back "you too" when I bid them a good day. My sister and I nearly waited 15 minutes until an SA came over to assist us at MAC and I only purchased three eyeshadows in Yogurt, Blackberry and a jet shade.

Overall it was a really fun day, we spotted some candied apples which we were speaking about the previous day and my sister called mom on her cell to tell her to bring the girls down and get some then they headed to near by Chapters where they read books and sipped Starbucks Coffee.

H & M had some really good sales and I love love love the black velvity dress pants I picked out, and it was the last one there in my size. My sister who is more into Xbox games isn't hardly into clothes at all, however she's great in the malls and I love shopping with her even though she usually comments on how she'd rather spend money on new games like Call of Duty.

I got my first kimono style mini dress, it's so cute blue and green in pure silk, %20 off from Denise.

I'm really liking the new 60s looks in fashion, at least they're three quarter sleeves and I can wear leggings, pants or jeans with the cute mini dresses. My mom laughed when she saw some of the dresses today, she said they're so 60s like when she was growing up, brought back memories.

Well I'm off to eat my candied apple - can you believe, I haven't touched it yet and it's been almost 4 hours since we returned.

Pictures to come in my flickr account once uploaded.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day

Cloudy, somewhat chilly but a very calm morning overall. Yesterday night they played some live music in my lobby, my sisters out of curiousity went down to have a look (and a listen)
Meanwhile I've convinced my mom to take us to the mall on boxing day, she hates the crowds, more like hates it for us and doesn't like all the shoulder bumping, I assured her that it would be fine and we'd just like to have a look around.
The last time I've been out on boxing day was when I was around 13, my grandma wanted to show us the boxing day experience and since then my mom (even though she's lived here in Canada all her life) vowed to never go shopping again on that day.

I'm thinking maybe I'll find something on sale, since this Eid we've planned not to go shopping on Eid as we usually do, it's unexpected yes, but I'd rather wait until the malls are in order again and it's only a short while until the spring stuff comes out.

My dad called yesterday, it was good to hear from him, hopefully he'll visit us very soon.

Mom has decided to make a turkey this Eid, and not the traditional kurdish one either, she says it's either that or a roast (a few Eids ago she made such a beautiful roast) - she'll check with her local halal butcher to see what he will have available to order.

Meanwhile I've been taking tons and tons of pictures with my camera, it's excellent and hopefully I'll get them all up on flickr as soon as time permits.

So I'm off... my sister and I have a lot of pre-Eid cleaning to do, as well as putting together some still boxed Ikea furniture.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Shopping is done!


One more week to go! It's been announced yesterday evening that Eid al Adhaa inshaa Allaah (God willing) will fall on saturday Dec. 30th, sooner than we expected.

Finally, almost all the major shopping is over. Yesterday my sister and I were in the markham area, we popped into pacific mall for the first time to have a look around, it's pretty cool and it reminded me a lot of the Aden mall for some reason, something between that and the STC.

I'm so excited about the Eid coming up, maybe it is because I felt so distracted last Eid with the moving and all, also going to therapy things changed from day to day.

Instead of my family getting me a gift or gift certificate at the very least I've requested that I be allowed to choose something myself because believe it or not at the present time there isn't anything in stores that I actually - want- (and I think I may have an idea what I'm saying up for!)

Seeing my sisters open their gifts (after all the planning) is exciting enough, I can't wait until Saturday!!!!!!!!!!

To do list:

- baking

- planning Eid dinner

- wrapping gifts

- major cleaning for entire condo

- planning Eid clothes (comfy clothes if we're going to spend out day playing Nintendo Wii)

- henna? still unsure whether we're doing it or not.


I think I've began a new Eid tradition of my own, and that's going to the mall on Eid, usually the second or third day, my sisters seem to enjoy it and it gives them a chance to buy something with the gift money they recieve from our grandparents. Plus I'm looking so forward to purchasing some new makeup colours.

The countdown to Eid begins..... now!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Random Eid traditions

After a long weekend of just waiting I'm finally back and really satisfied that we've managed to finish up a lot yesterday, the weekends were boring and we just sat around - mom refused to go out in the frenzy of shoppers shopping for the christmas holidays so we had to wait.

My sisters gifts are pretty much done, one we've got and it was on SALE, the other is coming through the mail (there should be about 8 business days until Eid) and the last I managed to find on a classifieds site, it is a collectible item and thankfully I was able to bid for it at the very last moment, following a payment through paypal it is now mine and I'm arranging for pickup ASAP or mailing.

We've only got very few things left, and it doesn't seem we're going to do any Henna this Eid. Henna is traditionally done around celebrations and festive occassions like Eid, weddings and the like. Many arabic women wear it all the time or keep renewing the designs however in todays society especially in the west it's not so common and I've always remembered Eid as being the time we had to sit still and let the muddy substance dry up until we could wash our hands.

When we were younger my mom being very artistic used to do our henna, later on I did it for my sisters but to me it was awefully time consuming especially if the result didn't come out perfect or dark enough. Spending hours and hours making lovely designs and then having it look too light was very common, my sisters skins vary so on one of them it would turn out very dark and beautiful however on the others it's very faded, I quit doing any henna for myself a long long time ago as my skin type would not tolerate keeping any colour on it, and it would turn out between a yellow and orange colour.
I like the black look, so I prefer to use non toxic marker or kohl and draw designs on my hand that would at least last for a bit.

If you think you've got the secret, well feel free to drop me a comment.
So far I've tried lemon juice, sugar, mahlab (eucalyptus oil that africans and sudanese use to darken henna, they actually swear by it!)
I've tried different hennas, I've talked to tons of people from morocco, emirates, yemen, egypt, india, pakistan and still nothing.
In Yemen they told me they didn't use henna, rather it was another "toxic" stubstance that gave these really dark black impressions on their skin, I forgot the name but I don't plan on using anything toxic with chemicals.

Here is a lovely photo, I think the Abayah complements the Henna which is done nice and simple:

Eid is coming up pretty quickly, there is still the baking to take care of. Each Eid my mom bakes a lot of cookies, my grandma, aunt and uncles and all relatives here pretty much rely on her supply of delights around the Eid because they don't bake any of their own. In Iraq traditions were very different, the ones I've been used to as a child were that every family bakes cookies like Klaycha and ma'mool (a date filled pastry) and other varities, they also buy baklawa and other prepared sweets and exchange or present them to visiting neighbours relatives or friends.

We also make the egyptian dessert Atayif which is a lightly grilled yeast pancake stuffed with either a creamy mixture or nuts and then fried and dipped into a sugary syrup afterwards, some people eat them right before the frying stage and they're called Atayif Niya or Niyi (as the lebanese and shamis pronounce it)
Basbousa or hareesa is another yummy delight and one of my favourites, it's a dense cake made of samolina which is decorated with almonds and submerged in the sugary syrup until it all absorbs, mom made some yesterday to test out how it would bake in our new oven, it turned out so prefect and evenly browned all over the bottom, so delicious!



Enough of sweets now, this year I plan to make Eid dinner on my own, I haven't decided what to make yet but I'm thinking maybe something from my big book of Iraqi recipes (Delights from the garden of Eden: Nawal Nasrullah) - it's a great book with almost all the traditional kurdish and iraqi recipes I remember being cooked by my grandma and having sampled throughout the years. A traditional Kurdish meal on the holidays that was commmonly prepared was "Alu-Alu" which is turkey - I know your thinking big stuffed roasted turkey - but no, it's actually a boiled free range turkey that is so skinny and once boilied it looks pretty much like boiled chicken, except the meat is darker and slightly tougher. Just like any other old day the "timan wa mara" (rice and sauce/stew of any kind) is essential - an apricot sauce "qaysi" is also prepared using dried apricots, and it is eaten with the turkey and rice, along with a white bean stew which is one of the most popular forms of "marag" or "margat fasolya abyadh"The rice is decorated with browned cooked angel-hair pasta and fried raisins and almonds.
It's a delicious meal for sure!

I'm actually not too familiar with other middle easterners prepare for Eid except that I've heard that Moroccans generally cook and eat liver on the morning of Eid al Adhaa and then families prepare traditional meals along with the "Adha" or sheep.

*Feel free to write to me about your middle eastern cultural traditions on Eid, I'm always happy to learn whatever I can.

More on Eid to come in the following two weeks leading up to Eid al Adhaa which will fall on either the 31st of Dec. or New Year's day!




Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weekend

Such a beautiful saturday morning, the sky is blue and the clouds are fluffy, the sun is shinning and I opened my eyes to the this incredible sight, it feels warm and my mom wanted to take my sisters out to the park, however we all changed out minds and decided to stay indoors, saves us the trouble of dressing and undressing, so we're planning Eid gifts this morning.
It's too bad that the malls are full on the weekends, I should have liked to go out shopping, at least to old navy or something, anything!!

It seems my sister has planned the gifts for the two younger ones, and we've all planned her gift, it shouldnt be too hard after this but the suspense of waiting until monday will be unbearable. I've cancelled my weekly plans on tuesday, we won't resume until the very last day of january.
I'd really like to go to yorkdale mall, I'm longing to go there, the last time I've been was around 13 years old, it was a Ramadhaan and my grandma and uncle took my sisters and I by the subway, it was ok but I'd really like to have the freedom of shopping around with my sisters, it's always more fun that way.

Yesterday mom spent all morning sewing at her place, she made this AMAZING couch cover to cover up our new IKEA Ivory HAMRA corner combination in leather. It was my idea to actually use an ikea bedspread in cream to make the covers so mom cut out the pattern after buying two queen covers and she sewed it all together back at her place in less than four hours!

Pictures coming soon when my sister uploads the new batch.

Though the sofa is lovely we couldn't keep it the way it was because of the cat, she was waiting for any moment to sink those little claws into the lovely soft and cool leather, as much as I love kitty she can be a little devil at times, and oh so very sneaky ; )

Anyway we're all so pleased with the outcome, it's actually the best Eid gift that mom could give us, now if only we could take her shopping without her complaining through it all : )

I'm thinking of taking up photography, well my sony cybershot H2 isn't going to do any good just sitting in the closet forever, plus my sisters said it takes amazing shots, all I need is a compatible recharger because I believe dad bought his in the east which has a non compatible adapter.

Let's see how it goes, I'm excited and this should be fun!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What?? EID in December???!

Today was a moderately mild day, really nice and as usual every tuesday I was going downtown with mom. I love car trips, my mom finds it really stressful with traffic and all but in my opinion seeing the sights in slow motion is so much better. The lake looked blue and lovely and it seems there are new buildings "popping up" every day here and there, it's starting to look like miami ; )

I do hope that the government plans to improve the city, there is a lot of jobs needed from fixing highways to getting rid of old bridges, buildings and just a lot of "old" stuff downtown, don't get me wrong I love old, but some of the stuff is just falling apart and I know toronto can become a world class city if given the chance.
We were in the Danforth area around the carrot common, honestly I just love the place. It looks so warm and the busy street with people and their animals going about their business shopping and hanging out, so friendly. I wish I could live around the area as everything would be within walking distance or they could improve east of lakeshore in Mississauga to become more like that or at least like the shopping streets in port credit. this area is getting so old : (

Before we left mom was mentioning how everyone at the wedding on sunday was talking about Eid coming up in the end of December ...

I thought my heart would stop.. "EID IN DECEMBER????? "

((Eid, the second Islamic celebration of the year: lasts 4 days long - Islamic celebrations fall on different dates because the lunar calendar dates shift))

I'm in shock, I could have sworn it's around Feb. or at least Jan... and she's telling me it's coming up after boxing day!! I immediately ran over and told my sisters who had the exact same reaction as I did!

We didn't even start shopping yet. OK, we have the Nintendo Wii and zelda but ..

*No wonder I'm itching to shop, I could hardly sleep last night, I've been dreaming about shopping and the malls*

Yeah as usual, mom's reaction "we bought enough stuff last holiday and we do have the Wii so lets calm down" ...

Me: *silent*

Her: "Come on, I'm not spending my days in the mall again"

Me: *silent*

Her: "Please!"

Me: *starts plotting and planning with my sisters once I get back home*

... Finally something to look forward to! ...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Good stuff

We're having some great weather here around the GTA, people are out and about walking their animals, jogging, hanging their decorations and just taking advantage of this great sunny december weather : )

It's great that it's warming up, I mean comfort wise, but environmentally it's not looking good how global warming is really changing the world.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of my favourite winter and all year round products.


White musk perfume oil from the Body Shop, love the stuff just like so many others.
Last time I checked here in TO people were on a waiting list to get it, I did manage to buy some from the body shop in Dubai's Ibn Battuta mall, was an great and easy gift for my mom and aunt who also love it.


Cocoa butter lip care from the body shop (again) - I also picked this up the first time from Ibn Battuta's branch, it looked good and I was in need of some lip balm however it wasn't until we dropped by the supermarket and dad popped out for a few things when I discovered how good this stuff really is!!
Playing around in the shopping bags I found this stick and decided to check it out, shoving it under my veil and trying to apply it to my lips, it took a few moments until I started sniffing the scent and immediately screamed out "CHOCOLATE" .. my sister was messaging me from Toronto about the olympics which were on at the time and all I could do was reply back with "OMG. it's chocolate and it's sooooooooo good!!"
** this stuff can keep your lips moist all through the night, yummy and amazing especially if you like chocolate.


Ok, I do cheat once in awhile, I mean not all my products are ogranic (even though I do prefer the Ecco Bella line of organic makeup and cosmetics) - this body shops all in one concealer is great, using the sponge or a brush you apply it and it's so much simpler than using a liquid and power, plus it cuts time! Make sure you try it at the store and select the right tone, back in Dubai they gave me a tone which was totally off!


LUSH - it even sounds amazing!! Believe me, if you ever passed by a Lush shop for the first time it will take a few minutes to actually figure out what they're all about. (soap that looks like food and ice cream, now who invented that!)
Like other organic products their shampoos and conditioners are good, but my favourite of all is their lip service or in this case "lip squeak", it's so amazing that once it touches your skin it melts and the scent is so goooood (particuarly this one, they have a variety of lip balms by the way)
GREAT STUFF!


Here is my all time favourite face moisturizer, it's organic and does a great job keeping the skin nice and moist without feeling greasy like other creams, and it's also soft smelling and not overpowering. I just realized that Kiss my face has it's own shop, I've always picked it up from the organic section at my local Loblaws.



My favourite shampoo of all time (which to me is like GOLD) is the Himalaya Herbal: Protein Shampoo and Conditioner - for normal hair. I order it online by the dozens, there is a branch based in texas or it can be bought from other online homeopahtic suppliers.
I also use the conditioner on top of that occassionally but because it's a two in one it does it's job really well, never had a tangle since I started using it.
Himalaya Herbal is an indian all natural company with a wide range of products from vitamins to cosmetics. I tried their facial moisturizer once but the perfume in it was quite aggrivating so I quit it. I do however use some of their facial masks and scrubs which are quite good.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wedding


Today mom is off to a wedding at five along with grandma. My aunt and myself have been invited as well but she being too busy with her children decided to cancel and I didn't feel like it especially since my sisters weren't invited. We don't know this family very well but my sisters were all anxious and excited about the news as far back as a month ago, then when they called back to ask if the card had arrived via mail we realized we didn't recieve anything which would have mention four people being invited and .. no kids - no boxed gifts (whatever that means!)

I've been to only a few weddings so far and the traditions vary depending on the cultural backround of the family, for instance arabs have a certain style - specifically lebanese, syrian and egyptian and then pakistani and indian weddings are quite different as well, I've never really been to a khaleeji wedding as they don't tend to mix very much with outsiders of their culture, and I don't believe there are hardly any who get married in the west.

With pakistani and indian weddings there are usually two parties, one a henna party done a few days or a week before the wedding and just for females. Here the women have a chance to dress up but the bride tends to stay very plain in a simple yellow shalwar kameez. Later in the evening the henna is performed on her body as well as the guests if they wish, children usually have a blast getting some henna done on their palms.

The wedding ceremony follows and there the entire family would attend, men and women. The bride would wear a gold or red traditional indian bridal outfit with all her gold and she and the groom would generally sit somewhere together side by side. If the family is religious then the bride would be on one side on a raised platform and the groom on the other and men and women would be seperated in the hall by a plain divider. I find that the south east asian culture tend to include the families as a whole, smaller children as well making it a very festive occassion.

Arabs however usually plan all womens parties, the bride would wear a western styled white gown and veil, a slight difference would perhaps be dressing her up infront of the guests with the gold that was presented to her as a dowry by the groom's family. Younger children are excluded due to the seat limitations at the banquette hall. There is a lot of socializing, dancing even by the bride along with her friends, the younger ladies and teenage girls would generally dance the night away doing traditional stepping dances known as "dabka" or even belly dancing to the sounds of arab music or nasheed (if the family is more religious). Sometimes if there is a woman who is familiar with playing the duff she will perform live on the spot -this is an islamic tradition permitted as opposed to the music. When the bride enters the hall the elderly women usually call out making a specific high pitched noise by moving their tongues (kind of like a bird) not all women can do this and it usually catches everyone's attention when they perform this tradition while the bride gracefully walks into the room.

While most people think weddings are all about the "food" I don't really see it that way especially weddings that were arranged at a banquet hall, the food is generally bland and boring compaired to the middle eastern cuisine. Occassionally community centeres, schools and party rooms are rented where food can actually be prepared by families for the weddings, this is much more enjoyable and following the dinner baklawa and other middle eastern sweets are served to the guests. Wedding cake isn't such a common tradition with everyone.

Parties usually last for 4 or 5 hours, depending on when all the guests have arrived and generally the bride's entrance will be delayed until everyone is there.

Regarding my own kurdish culture weddings are slightly differnet than that of the arabs, I've attended a few weddings when I was younger, I'd say they're a mix of the arabic and south east asian traditions where the bride actually wears white or if she is more culturally traditional she may wear a kurdish outfit, the families come from all over gathering in flocks at relatives homes in the city where the wedding is to be performed and there usually is a lot of gold presented to the bride.
Because kurds aren't very religious the weddings tend to be mixed. On the 'big day' the bride would sit on a platform and rarely move, speak or smile, I was told that if she smiled it was shameful, she had to remain very neutral and not express any happiness outwardly.

As a child I used to immitate brides while playing childish "make-believe games" by sitting politely with my right hand gently overlapping my left hand in my lap and my eyes glancing down at them with my head slightly tilted.

Kurdish weddings tend to drag on through the night with hours and hours of non stop debka dancing.

Clothing: "What am I going to wear??" is usually a big question for everyone attending the wedding, bride or guests. At kurdish weddings women wear traditional kurdish outfits which consist of a slip, sheer undergarment dress and a thick overcoat covered entirely in flashy sequins, hair is mostly left out and women take the chance to adorn themselves with all the gold they own. In arab weddings they've pretty much abandoned many of the older traditions and so all through the arab world women wear western inspired party clothes, some more revealing than others but generally longer formal gowns. Guests generally arrive at the hall in Abayah and headscarf or face veils if the makeup is already done at home, if not then everyone heads to the powder room in a bit of a frenzy doing hair, makeup and last minute touchups before entering the main hall.

Gifts: Depending on what the family specifies in the card gifts are usually offered as money to the bride and groom on the wedding day. Other household items and boxed gifts, personal gifts for the bride are usually presented to her on the henna party or any other gathering before the actual wedding.

In Islamic weddings as long as the traditions or culture does not contadict anything in the Islamic faith then it is permitted. Many muslims also prefer to follow the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions' traditions, meaning a simple ceremony and sticking closely to the traditons back then.

Every country in the middle east has specific wedding traditions, for example in egypt it is well know that tents are put up on the roofs and the wedding parties are performed up there. In Yemen the streets are decorated and men dance traditional folk dance with daggers drawned in the streets.

One common tradition performed by men in many parts of the Islamic world is shooting bullets up into the air to celebrate the occassion, upon hearing it people all over will realized that a wedding is going on, foreigners who are not used to this may become startled for a few seconds wondering if there is an attack or something going on outside but they are to be assured that this is a very regular custom that goes on.

Finally the last tradition is when the bride and groom are to be driven to their home in the decorated car or limo, guests would follow in their own cars beeping every now and then celebrating, all this causes somewhat of a "beep beep beep beep" frenzy in the streets but it's all kind of fun : )

Friday, December 8, 2006

Jalabiyaat



Since we were on the topic of "clothes" I thought I'd share some lovely arabic styled Jalabiyas that many women wear on fancy occassions. There are simpler versions made of cotton and other fabrics decorated to certain degrees for wearing indoors, they're actually very practical and comfortable, still indoors many younger women and girls today have adapted more western wear (including myself ;)) like jeans, tops, skirts and sweatsuits. When visiting friends or relatives it's very much required to dress up, that's when muslim women have a chance to show off their fashion sense in all women gatherings and parties.

When I was younger I vividly remember this tradition every thursday, since in the Islamic world Friday is a holiday people often spend thursday nights as westerners do their friday night going out and socializing.


As early as seven years old I was very much involved in this tradition, the closest thing I can compare it to is an episode of "Pride and Prejudice" where the Bennet sisters run around in their slips whinning and throwing their clothes around trying to find a descent outfit for the occasion. And that is pretty much what went on in my house, I would spend the whole day after returning from school sorting through my closet trying to find the right outfit, accessories, stockings, shoes, hair clips, jewellery and handbag. It would take hours upon hours and my sister and I would ask each others' opinions over and over, then ask mom's opinion and I remember times when at the last minute before getting into the car I'd run back in and change my scarf or skirt, or grab another handbag after feeling uneasy about the one I had chosen earlier. Dad of course thought we were insane and he often rolled his eyes or shouted at us from the door to "hurry up!!!" and that we were only visiting friends and not preparing for a fashion show in Paris!

It all seems so silly thinking back at it now, but it was fun and though we've tuned down a lot since then and especially because it is so much harder to visit relatives while living in the west, everyone seems farther apart, busier and people just don't make the time, and even when they do there isn't that sense of "culture" and hospitality that I've become so accustomed to growing up in the middle east.

*sigh* That's what I really miss, the holidays, the weekly visits, the socializing in it's own special way, I believe that will always stay with me and I hope to properly present those traditions to my own guests and friends.

Visiting the Emirates mall in Dubai I saw some exquisite jalabiyaat, and amazingly even in Yemen at the Aden mall. I could not resist so I picked up a really traditional looking one with a beautiful copper and turquoise beaded bodice for around 16,000 YR (it was on sale!), I thought it was well worth my $80 though most local Yemenis would not share that opinion and they tried so hard to discourage me or at least laugh at me when all else failed. Regardless I walked off really happy with my new Jalabiyah which I look very much forward to wearing whenever a suitable occassion arrises.

Below is a selection that I picked out from a womens middle eastern fashion forum, many of the garments are sewn and hand-done in India giving that south east asian feel.

Simply beautiful ....



























More Jalabiyas sold here


Thursday, December 7, 2006

Abayah trends


What's up with the new Abayah trends? I had to comment about this because .. isn't this getting a teeny tiny bit out of control? You judge for yourself!

Abayah is the lose garment worn by muslim women outside the home (particularly in the arabian gulf), it is commonly black however a jilbab may come in a range of colours from Navy blue, green, beige and the like. Abayah is petty rare here in the west and with all the different cultures and nationalities you rarely see a true khaleeji abayah. Myself I used to like the shami fitted type of jilbab, my aunt used to bring some really nice ones back from her trip to Lebanon.

It wasn't until I travelled to Dubai and then I saw some truly outrageous patterns/colours/designs, some are just hilarious!

I love Abayah, don't get me wrong. Beading and embroidery were always around but in modest colours like black on black and so forth. The new trends now are all about colour, huge patterns, beading, crystal, gold, silver, sequins, fringes, rhinestones, tafeeta, feathers, chiffon, lace, you name it, they got it!!

What happened to modest Islamic plain black Abayas?? They're almost non-existant or extremely rare to find.

While browing on flickr (love that place!) I've discoverd yet the most shocking desing, the sheikh of UAE himself was on an abaya sheylah nicely displayed on the plastic model behind the glass at a shop at Wafi City. The sheikh's entire head was hand-done onto each side of the sheylah using silver sequens !Not to mention the pricey posh designer Abayas by Villa Moda, check out the pictures below, as the photographer exclaimed "abayah or party gown?



Forget the Paris Abayahs with the heavy price tags that will burn a hole in your wallet, even the others can be way over priced. When I was in Yemen, just before heading to Dubai I was off to the STC Mall looking for a descent Abayah that would live up to the Emirati 'standards', the Abayah I wore around yemen was a plain saudi kind I had picked up back in Canada, way too worn out to fit the "Dubai scene". My time was really limited and becuase of my height I began to wonder if I'd ever get my hands on one.
Thankfully, after some searching by the shop keeper he offered me "simpler" design which had a strip of beading running around the hem and cuffs, even around the bottom hem. The length measurement was good and it was fully black, at least lacked colour feathers and what not. I quickly made up my mind and grabbed the garment and handed over the 21,000 YR even though I didn't think it was worth my $100.

The Abayah has now pretty much lost it's purpose, from what I've seen it being used as a lose dragging shawl on top of the trendy tight tops and designer jeans, accessorized with the latest fashions in flashy handbags, sunglasses, makeup, mobile phones, jewellery, heels and accessories with the small sheylah worn on the head. (If you think muslim women aren't stylish then think again!! Believe me, I've seen it, they take only the finest)

Next time I get invited to a party or wedding I won't bother digging around in my closet because I might just consider......... the Abayah. ; )








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