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Archive for September, 2013

Bismillah

Today felt a bit better in terms of accomplishing things, not that I got a lot done actually, but mentally. I argued with DH, and I liked it. Not because we argued, but because we didn’t let the argument shape our day, color our actions and responsibility, or affect the heart of our marriage. My personality type is the kind that takes things to heart so I’m working on not taking things personally, on not becoming overly emotional about everything, on remembering that my husband is not out to savage my heart or ruin my mood. I’m working to remember that things happens but those who love me aren’t sitting and plotting my destruction.

I know it sounds dramatic but I’m dramatic. I’m an idealist and I deal with the emotions and the hearts of people, not just their words. For me, words have to match actions, and actions have to follow ideals, and ideals have to be set and bound with purity. My personality type isn’t simple or simplistic and I’m trying to remember that most people aren’t like me. As I said, I was reading about personality types and am learning both my strengths and weaknesses, not as I see them but as others may perceive them, because it’s others I have to deal with, not myself. I don’t have internet right now so I can’t continue with my research but inshallah I plan to write more in depth about this subject inshallah.

Well, there’s lots to say really but the typing seems to be bothering my darling baby M who is sleeping so inshallah, more tomorrow. I’m going to try writing everyday a bit inshallah, so I don’t forget my thoughts etc. 

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Hijrea Notes 3

Bismillah

Today was an exercise in catching up but I still feel so very behind. We’ve been living in our house for almost 20 days mashaAllah but so much is yet undone. The kids’ room is mostly finished though. I cleared the last bits today, well mostly and just have the pile of laundry to deal with, the shelf to finish organizing and the suitcases to take care of inshallah. The kids furniture is pure solid wood in natural mashaAllah, their wall light blue and the floor a pale cream mashaAllah. I want to get them a carpet to cover the open area in the middle of their room, matching covers for their beds, and some pretty curtains inshallah. We also have to get hangers to hang clothes that I plan to iron inshallah. Over here, every Jumuah is a celebrated event, with dressing up and visiting mashaAllah so I want to plan several outfits in advance inshallah. I also have to delineate clothing for hanging out at home and for going out the house or for school, etc.

The kitchen is also mostly done mashaAllah, with just about everything in its place and a place for everything, which somehow really calms me down mashaAllahJ DH brought me chicken today and I’m grateful that he got the butcher to clean the skin off and hack it to manageable pieces. I spent about 15 minutes cleaning off the fat and other unwanted bits and portioning into my trusty ziplock bags. My attempt at dinner were unsuccessful today, the food ending up with too much salt, and the kiddies balking at the simple and vegetable rich fair. My son is a rice and bread kind of guy and my daughter prefers mainly sweet things. My potatoes and veggie stir fry that was too salty only satisfied my DH (may Allah bless him for eating up all my efforts mashaAllah!).

I used the vacuum DH got when the builders were doing the joints for our floor tiles. It’s like a little Henry type and I forget the name of it right now, but it works wonders. I’ve been sweeping since we moved in, sometimes 3x a day for one reason or another, but today I thought let me try the vacuum. Well, my floors were clean in a jiffy and it has the capability to also wash my floors if I feel really adventurous. I’m looking forward to using it regularly inshallah.

Well it’s midnight so let me go catch some ZZZ’s before baby wakes up for a feeding and diaper change. I made a mistake and gave him the wrong breast so now my right one is double the size and getting ready to make a protest. I can’t decide if I want him to wake up soon or sleep a lot longer…

 

 

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Hijra Notes 2

Bismillah

Today we went to Dubai Market again. It really is lovely, though closely packed and filled to the brim with people, especially on the weekend mashaAllah. We bought a pressure cooker and a tiny coffee maker (as its only DH and I) mashaAllah. We also went to see a person who sells sponges whole sale and inshallah I’m finally going to get the sitting arrangement of my dreams (well, sort of anyway mashaAllah).

The whole sitting room arrangement thing has been my intention since before I married DH and for one reason or another it never happened. Then when we were moving here, I thought ok, now there should be no reason to, but was side lined by opinions that at that time appeared to DH to make more sense seeing as they were coming from those who have lived, worked, built, decorated, etc here. So he vetoed my sitting room but for now, it appears I will be having the last laugh. It turns out there is wall to wall carpeting in DZ and there are seating sponges that meet my criteria in whatever sizing I want mashaAllah, and of course there is fabric galore and those who sew them into all kinds of mouthwatering designs for a lovely Arabic sitting room. Alhamdulillah.

Sad part is that those opinions from other people caused DH to spill cash unnecessarily to buy us a brand new floor which we are now going to cover up, a true shame. Speaking of floors, the original one in the apartment was taken out and we had to shop around to find a new one. They are available mashaAllah. Tiles, wooded (fake wood or tiles colored like wood, your choice), marble (which I don’t like), etc. Our tiles, which is what we got in the end (and we are both angry now about it) are ceramic, from Spain (supposedly better quality than Chinese and local, though I have my doubts), and cost us a pretty penny. Not just to buy them but also to set them. Tiles here aren’t like the American peel and stick or click to fit style, but the kind that require cement backing (or similar material) to build them to the wall/foor of your choice. The walls aren’t sheet rock like in USA either, but hollow bricks followed by light coating of cement followed by chalk, a primer, then paint of your choice. So you can imagine the walls aren’t always straight… I’ve got waves and bumps from my ceiling down… and they make me mad each time I see them because it turns out there is something like sheet rock here but no one recommends it use because they aren’t familiar with it!

My kitchen walls are partly tiled (on the side where I was dishes and cook), and if Allah permits and there is a next time, I would tile my entire kitchen, if for the simple pleasure of having even walls!! Speaking of kitchens, I also mashaAllah managed to get us to the 21st century with a built in cooker top and built in single oven, which I’ve baked cake in already and it was LOVELY! MashaAllah Alhamdulillah. I just want to mention that we ended up contracting a built in readymade kitchen because it was the only option but it turns out we could have gone to a local carpentry shop and bought the entire kitchen in solid beautiful wood, gotten it painted whatever color we wanted or stayed natural and gotten it mounted for a quarter of the price we paid for the cabinets and counter we now have in ours. Again, no one mentioned it or even thought about it. Everyone assumed and insisted that the options were limited. I’m here to assure all and sundry, Algeria is affordable and good solid things are available, one just has to get the right guide and not be swayed by the expectations locals have of those of us moving here to settle in.

I feel part of the misunderstanding is that everyone just assumed that we come with money to pour into whatever because our standards are some ideal even I’ve never seen. Many locals don’t realize that many of us living in England or inn USA are working poor to average class, that we scrimp and pinch every penny and stretch every dollar to the  maximum. That we shop second hand, attend swap meets, and recycle to the nth degree. The average population in Algeria sees the foreigner moving here and hoping to stay forever as completely insane, and cannot grasp the idea that there are opportunities here, there are ways to make it if we don’t pander to the general public, and that life is simpler, easier, and cheaper and that we may just consider that a perk of the move too.

Now don’t get me wrong, food may be generally cheaper but specific things within that category aren’t, for example meat. In the UK, we bought 1kg of steak for about £5, here, that same steak is nearly £10/kg. In the UK, we picked and choose our chicken pieces with impunity and still paid a pretty decent price, here, if we want a decent price for the chicken, we have to buy it whole and clean it from the skin inwards (EEK!). In the UK, anytime I fancied fries, I cooked from the frozen bag bought from LlDL, here, I have to peel and cut the potatoes myself, then cook just enough because they don’t keep more than a couple of hours. Despite the obvious inconveniences though, our weekly budget for house and food expenses, including utilities, car insurance, gas prices, water and electricity, cell phone, and the internet (which we currently don’t have), are so much cheaper mashaAllah Alhamdulillah. Especially since DH isn’t working normal hours yet, more of a ‘if something comes along’ kind of thing.

Another good thing to know for interested sisters is that Hopeland and King Fahad or just plain old local school are not the only options for schooling for your kids inshallah. Just in my area, within 15 minutes drive of each other, there are two private schools for year 1 to 5, both accredited, with an approved curriculum for Algeria as well as the extras an ExPat may be looking for. At M’s school for example (she entered first year mashaAllah), there is the normal Arabic curriculum, plus French and English from the first year, as well as extras like Theater and specific sports mashaAllah. There is available transport, lunch is provided at school, and the school provides the year’s books (you buy the pen/pencils/notebooks, etc) and the school uniform (I’m still waiting to see what it looks like, the local one consist of an obligatory ‘tabliya’ in pink for girls and blue for boys over whatever your chosen outfit is).

So don’t assume you automatically have limited choices in terms of schooling for your kids. New good schools are cropping up and giving each other plenty of competition (even against the local and free option). Many of the students at M’s school are average Algerians simply wanting their children to have an advantage mashaAllah. It makes me happy to see parents of young children bucking the system, trying alternatives, and allowing the minds of their children to be broadened by trying different things, something the older generation in Algeria still is very hesitant to do from what I can see inshallah, waAllahu’Alim

I’ll write more next time inshallah.

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Hijra Notes 1

Bismillah

I thought I’d be more dedicated to writing but I cant seem to make the time for it subhanallah, except in my head mashaAllah. In m head I’m constructing all kinds of sentences and writing up a storm but reality speaks differently.

So here’s my attempt today, while dh is at the masjid, kids occupied, baby sleeping, dinner cooked, house decent, kitchen clean, etc. I made cabbage, fried cabbage. It was a success by my  standards so I’m happy. I don’t like cooking in a new country and I’m struggling in Algeria specifically. The have most of the ingredients I would need but they are not exactly what I’m used to. Their lettuce is floppy and curly, their tomatoes are overly red and with too much seeds and are hard in the middle, all the way up pretty much, their carrots have dark green ends for some reason, they don’t have bell peppers (they import them, I found them at ARDIS, a supermarket like Walmart ASDA type, but they cost an 10x the local peppers, yes, 10x!), and their legumes (lentils, beans, chick peas, etc) and rice need to cleaned before cooking (that means picking out bad bits and other uglies from the batch first, then washing any dirt, before cooking!).

They do have canned goods like tomato paste (haven’t seen crushed, chopped, or various other canned tomatoes), carrots and peas, peas, corn, chick peas, brown and red/kidney beans, mushrooms, etc. I love their potatoes, golden, super thin peel that peels off easily, spices galore, everything for kids, though clothing’s quality is dubious sometimes, the sizes are not true to reality sometimes, and very expensive in general. Though I did go to dubai, a market in Babezzouar, and found a stand selling some baby clothes from various brands, some American like Carters and Disney and some maybe European and Chinese, for a very good price, though they were dirty, not all the sizes available, random styles and colors, nothing coordinated at all but I still bought some and am happy with my purchaseJ

The reason why I felt obligated to put my thoughts down today though is because I really want to help someone else with information and inshallah inspiration. Most of us who want to make Hijra to a Muslim country plan for it using an ‘ideal’ model mashaAllah. Even those who work hard to come as close to reality as they can, I want them to know that reality is still harder to bear in some cases and expectations or even small innocuous hopes cannot be met, at least not as easily as we often imagine. Case in point is the lettuce. We tend to base our imagination on what we know or are familiar with, but reality can be very different and that difference can really affect your whole outlook. I’m the kind of person who likes to have information before hand and though I spent hours and days and weeks and yes, I can even say months, scouring the net, I want able to come up with some very important information to a  new immigrant for Algeria.

It seemed to me that everyone was hesitant to give information and everyone worried that their situation would not apply to us so therefore their information and possible might be irrelevant to us. So I’m here wanting to help the average immigrant, who comes here very prepared, both emotionally and otherwise, and yet still feels something is missing. I want to give you ammunition to ground your dreams for Hijra to Algeria on inshallah and I pray I will succeed in this endeavor.

For this series, surviving Hijra and learning to love it, I want to first make sure everyone knows that I’m determined to make it as a Muhajir and die with this title inshallah. Just because I will complain about certain parts, cry about others, and reminisce about how good I had it before (don’t we all about everything though?), doesn’t mean I made the wrong decision or that I don’t find happiness in my days and nights here… inshallalh I will record both, with as much openness as possible so my sisters will be inspired and will fall in love with Algeria and with Hijra inshallah.

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