A Palestinian teapot cozy for Suad

Assalamu alaikum everyone,

I’ve been out for a while, busy with too many projects and too little time. I’ve been working on one post for a while (and hope to have it up soon enough) and another series of posts is in the works for our trip out to the Maritimes (in the summer of 2011!). It’s late but better late than never as my mother is planning a road trip out there soon and I figured she might appreciate it (along with others).

Today’s post is concerning my latest knitting project. The original pattern is for a Matryoshka teapot cozy by Loly Fuertes (Ravelry link). She is beyond cute and I just had to try it out!

The perfect opportunity to use the pattern presented itself, unfortunately, with the moving away of a dear friend, Suad. She has some Palestinian ancestry and I was inspired by a picture of her wearing a traditional Palestinian dress “thobe“. Here are a few examples. 1 2 3

I used the pattern as a base and added in some colourwork (or intarsia knitting) – essentially doubling the thickness of the material (offers more insulation for your teapot in the end). I also switched up the pattern a bit for even increases and decreases (to keep symmetry in colourwork) and some embroidery. All in all, it took about 1.5 weeks of furious work! But it would seem it was really worth it.

Now I’m just waiting for Suad to tell me what she has named her.

Front - Devant

Front – Devant

Bust closeup - Le buste de plus près

Bust closeup – Le buste de plus près

Back - Dos

Back – Dos

Side view - Vue de biais

Side view – Vue de biais

Hair bun and embroidery - Cheveux en chignon et broderie

Hair bun and embroidery – Cheveux en chignon et broderie

Front skirt embroidery - Broderie sur le devant de la jupe

Front skirt embroidery – Broderie sur le devant de la jupe

Embroidery on the back of the skirt - Broderie sur le dos de la jupe

Embroidery on the back of the skirt – Broderie sur le dos de la jupe

**********

Assalamu alaikum tout le monde,

Ça fait un bon bout que je n’ai rien publié sur mon blogue; j’ai trop de projets et pas assez de temps! Ça fait quelque temps que je travaille sur un article (et j’espère le publier sous peu) et j’ai aussi une autre série d’articles à vous préparer sur notre voyage aux Maritimes (en 2011!). Oui, c’est très tard pour le rajouter au site mais ma mère compte faire un voyage aux Maritimes, en voiture, cet été, et donc, je crois qu’elle apprécierait bien que je partage ce qu’on a fait et vu lors ed notre voyage… Peut-être d’autres aimeraient ça aussi!

Aujourd’hui, je vais partager mon dernier projet de tricot. La patron original est pout un cache théière Matryoshka par Loly Fuertes (Lien vers Ravelry). C’est super quétaine et je voulais absolument en faire un!

L’occasion (ou l’excuse) parfaite pour utiliser se patron s’est présenté quand, malheureusement, j’ai su qu’une de mes bonnes copines quittait Montréal pour les États. Suad a quelques ancêtres qui provenaient de la Palestine et j’ai été inspirée par une photo d’elle et d’une de ces robes traditionnelles palestiniennes « thobe ». Voici quelques exemples. 1 2 3

J’ai utilisé le patron comme base et j’ai rajouté quelques éléments : tricot avec changement de couleur (intarsia) qui a, en effet, doublé l’épaisseur du cache théière et l’a rendu encore plus isolant. J’ai aussi changé les augmentations et réductions de mailles pour qu’elles soient plus symétriques, et j’ai aussi rajouté de la broderie. Ça m’a pris environ 1.5 semaines de travail fulgurant! Mais il semblerait que ça en valait le coup!

Maintenant, j’attends juste que Suad me dise ce qu’elle l’a nommée.

Puerto Rico – April 2013 – Day 7 & End

Our last, full day in Puerto Rico.

Breakfast was actually muffins and a banana we had snuck away at the last breakfast buffet – hooray for in-room mini fridges. But we were still hungry so she shared a bagel and cream cheese from Starbucks. That Starbucks in the lobby sure comes in handy, doesn’t it?

Breakfast on the beach! Déjeuner sur la plage!

Breakfast on the beach! Déjeuner sur la plage!

Enjoying our last day on the beach. On profite de notre dernière journée sur la plage.

Enjoying our last day on the beach. On profite de notre dernière journée sur la plage.

Salem soaking up the sun. Salem se fait bronzer au soleil.

Salem soaking up the sun. Salem se fait bronzer au soleil.

We spent the whole day on the beach, grabbed lunch from Subway (a block away and cheap) and ran back to the beach to eat it. I was able to grab some pictures of some of the fish hanging around at the beach. Hint: they like to hang out underneath the 2 floating platforms. There are so many of them and I love it!

The hotel also has a lookout where there are plenty of fish but you can’t swim there unless you like turbulent water and getting bashed up against rocks and coral. Your only option: look down into the water and do some major fish spotting.

Look! FISH! Yay, des poissons!

Look! FISH! Yay, des poissons!

More FISH! Il y en a d'autres!

More FISH! Il y en a d’autres!

Supper was at Il Giardinieri (a restaurant at the hotel). I had some passion fruit juice and they were out of coconut shrimp so we had the calamari. Salem ordered a steak with plantain chips/gallettes and I ordered lasagna (and they actually confirmed there was only beef in there – woohoo!). The service was good and the price decent for what we had.

Salem had steak and plantain "galettes". Salem a pris le steak et des galettes aux plantains.

Salem had steak and plantain “galettes”. Salem a pris le steak et des galettes aux plantains.

Lasagna, how I have missed you! La lasagne, comme tu m'as manqué!

Lasagna, how I have missed you! La lasagne, comme tu m’as manqué!

Later on, we had smoothies and a chocolate treat from Starbucks. And with that, we ended our last full day in Puerto Rico.

Heading on home
There isn’t much to write about concerning our trip home.

Warning: We were actually charged for a few things we never ordered. The clerk at the front desk never checked with Salem, but thankfully Salem looked before leaving. He went back and got a refund. Honestly – always review the bill with your customer!

We got to look like mad people when we had to dig things out of our bags because they were overweight. Thankfully, the staff at the airport were nice about it – I guess they’re used to it. I still felt a bit embarrassed – where did all this stuff come from?

And we had to run, but RUN, to our connecting flight – I think we had 5 minutes to spare before the flight took off. Our arriving flight was late, it takes forever to taxi to the gate (JFK) and then everyone wants to get off immediately. How about letting the people with a connecting flight go first? No, of course not!

Missing luggage: we came back rather empty handed – We ran to the plane but our bags couldn’t. After a lengthy wait to submit the paperwork at Trudeau Airport, we went home (thanks for the ride, Dad) and got our luggage the next day. Alhamdullilah, nothing was missing. :)

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others – Tous les animaux sont égaux, mais il y en a qui le sont plus que d’autres

This post is actually part of an email I sent to my mom this morning – again, we’re discussing what’s going on in Québec and the charter and her reply to a video sent to her by someone she knows. I won’t get into details about the original e-mail nor the response my mother sent back.

I am forever thankful to have a family that is open minded and won’t be duped by ignorance being spread about in order to create distrust, hate and division for political gains. Alhamdullillah.

Warning – it’s in “Franglais”. ;) Translation into English will follow the french text and will be in italics.

*****

Cet article est tiré d’un courriel que j’ai envoyé à ma mère ce matin discutant de ce qu’il se passe au Québec et de la charte. Quelqu’un lui a envoyé une vidéo et, semblerait, qu’elle en a eu assez. Elle leur a renvoyé une réplique et m’a mis en BCC. Je ne vais pas rentrer dans les détails ni du courriel original ni de la réplique envoyé par ma mère.

Je suis tellement reconnaissante envers Dieu et ma famille. Alhamdullilah (Dieu merci), ma famille ne se laisse pas influencer par l’ignorance, la haine et la méfiance qui est encouragé de ces jours ci, question de gains et enjeux politiques.

Avertissement – ce courriel est en “franglais”. ;)

E-mail / Courriel

“…Je suis déjà tellement bombardé par toutes sortes de choses négatives au sujet de ma religion est des préjugés que ça fait plusieurs semaines que je n’ai pas écouté la radio.
I am already bombarded with all sorts of negative things and prejudices pertaining to my religion that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve tuned into the radio.

Les gens seront toujours mal renseignés et je crois qu’il y a parfois rien à faire. On peut leur parler et tenter de les renseigner, mais s’il ne veulent rien entendre ou comprendre…
People will always be misinformed and I think that, sometimes, there’s nothing to do. We can talk to them and try to inform them but if they never want to listen or understand…

Ce qui compte pour moi c’est que mes proches considèrent que, dans notre société, les droits sont garantis pour tout le monde; peu importe leur race, religion, langue, etc. Ce qui me fait de la peine c’est que des “Féministes” veulent enlever le droit de certaines femmes, voir même les isoler et les rendre plus dépendantes sur leurs maris. Comme si une femme était trop niaiseuse pour décider d’elle-même ce qu’elle veut porter. Et si une femme est forcée à le porter ou est dans une situation abusive, pourquoi ne pas s’assurer qu’elle a recours à des services ou ressources pour se sortir de cette situation? Bien non! Le problème n’est pas le manque de soutien pour les femmes, mais c’est la religion! BULLSHIT! L’Islam à donné plusieurs droits aux femmes au 7e siècle quand elle n’en avaient pas! (Je pourrais t’en reparler une autre fois) Toutes les femmes de notre société pourraient profiter de plus de services et soutien. Au lieu de diviser le monde, pourquoi ne pas tenter de tous nous rapprocher et de s’entraider?
What’s important to me is that those closest to me believe that, within our society, rights are guaranteed for all – regardless of race, religion, language, etc. What makes me sad is that these “Feminists” would like to take the right of some women, even go as far as to isolate them and make them more dependent on their husbands. As if a woman was too stupid to make up her own mind about what she wants to wear. And if a woman is forced to wear it (the veil) or is in an abusive situation, why not ensure that she has access to services or resources to get out of this situation? Of course not! The problem isn’t a lack of support for women, it’s religion! BULLSHIT! Islam gave women many rights in the 7th century, a time when they had none! (I can talk to you about this some other time) All women in our society could benefit from more services and assistance. Instead of dividing people, why not try and bring us all together to help one another?

Je vais terminer mon courriel avec une théorie et une citation (la dernière m’est revenue après plusieurs années).
I’ll end this e-mail with a bit of theory and a quote (the latter coming back to me after many years).

Théorie : Divide and conquer – wikipedia

In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) (derived from Greek: διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε, diaírei kaì basíleue) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up…

…In modern times, Traiano Boccalini cites “divide et impera” in La bilancia politica, 1,136 and 2,225 as a common principle in politics. The use of this technique is meant to empower the sovereign to control subjects, populations, or factions of different interests, who collectively might be able to oppose his rule…

…Elements of this technique involve:

  1. creating or encouraging divisions among the subjects to prevent alliances that could
  2. challenge the sovereign (oui – la charte elle-même -yes, the charter itself)
  3. aiding and promoting those who are willing to cooperate with the sovereign (oui – voir le Conseil du statut de la femme – “Le Conseil du statut de la femme (CSF) n’est pas un organisme indépendant du pouvoir politique” – Pauline Marois -yes, the Council on the Status of Women – “Le Council on the Status of Women (CSF) is not an organism independant from political power”- Pauline Marois)

  4. fostering distrust and enmity between local rulers (oui – encore, la charte et la division “Pur Laine” vs “les autres” – yes, again the charter and the division between the “Pur Laine” and “the Others”)
  5. encouraging meaningless expenditures that reduce the capability for political and military spending (oui – 1,9 millions $ pour publicités pro-charte, etc -yes, $1.9 million spent on pro-charter publicities, etc)

Citation / Quote
Et maintenant pour la citation, ce qui me fait un peu peur, mais je ne suis pas surprise.
And now for the quote, which scared me a it but I’m not all that surprised.

« All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others »
“Tous les animaux sont égaux, mais il y en a qui le sont plus que d’autres.”

-Animal Farm, , George Orwell, 1945. Bref: les droits de certains priment au dessus des droits des autres… Basically: the rights of some are more important than the rights of others.

Un très bon livre qui commente sur la révolution en Russie (Stalin) et que je devrais relire un de ces jours. Voici ce que Wikipédia dit au sujet de ce livre, certaines choses s’appliquent à notre situation :
A very good book that comments on the revolution in Russia (Stalin) – which I should read again one of these days. This is what Wikipedia says about the book, certain things apply to our situation:
«The novel addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders, but also the ways wickedness, indifference, ignorance, greed, and myopia corrupt the revolution. It portrays corrupt leadership as the flaw in revolution, rather than the act of revolution itself. It also shows how potential ignorance and indifference to problems within a revolution could allow horrors to happen if a smooth transition to a people’s government is not achieved. »

I think I’ve said all I have to say. ;)”

Puerto Rico – April 2013 – Day 6

Back to Old San Juan for a day full of fortresses and some shopping!

Morning

Today was our highly anticipated day back to Old San Juan! We were up at 8 (that’s early for us, when on vacation), dressed, out the door and driven to Plaza Colon by 9 am. We decided to try out Café Berlin for breakfast (I had heard good reviews about one of their morning drinks). We sat on the terrace in order to enjoy the nice weather and do some people-watching.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, any style (Caro = sunny-side up, Salem = scrambled) for $2.50. 2 orders of tomato-basil bread ($2.00) – Oh my was this bread ever something to write home about! One coffee, one americano and their famous breakfast juice (zucchini, mint, lemon). The coffee was great, the breakfast juice was amazing. Honestly, we wish we could’ve gone back again to experience breakfast all over again! Great service too, all for less than $20. Woot woot!

On the terrace at Café Berlin. La terrasse au Café Berlin.

On the terrace at Café Berlin. La terrasse au Café Berlin.

Café Berlin's tasty breakfast drink. Le fameux breuvage-matin au Café Berlin.

Café Berlin’s tasty breakfast drink. Le fameux breuvage-matin au Café Berlin.

Breakfast is served! Le déjeuner est servi!

Breakfast is served! Le déjeuner est servi!

Salem enjoying his coffee. Salem profite de son café.

Salem enjoying his coffee. Salem profite de son café.

Castillo San Cristobal

Our tour started around 10:30 at the Castillo San Cristobal about 100m away. We were lucky – it was some sort of federal park day so entrance was free. Salem’s co-workers had said it would only take an hour to visit. Right… It took us over 2 hours, but then again, we like history and reading the information plaques and taking pictures, etc.

Let me share a bit of history with you: The fortress was originally built in 1634 to defend (Spanish) Puerto Rico and the Americas from attacks by other European powers (ie: English, Dutch, French) as well as other entities in the Caribbean sea.

Drawings on the dungeon wall. Des dessins sur un mur du dongeon.

Drawings on the dungeon wall. Des dessins sur un mur du dongeon.

More dungeon drawings. Un autre dessin dans le dongeon.

More dungeon drawings. Un autre dessin dans le dongeon.

Tunnels inside the fortress. Les tunnels de la forteresse.

Tunnels inside the fortress. Les tunnels de la forteresse.

A Spanish boat. Un navire espagnol.

A Spanish boat. Un navire espagnol.

Salem + musket = happy Salem. Salem + musquet = Salem est très content.

Salem + musket = happy Salem. Salem + musquet = Salem est très content.

Thankfully, the musket isn't loaded. Dieu merci, le musquet n'a pas de balles!

Thankfully, the musket isn’t loaded. Dieu merci, le musquet n’a pas de balles!

Cannon balls - I can't imagine the weight of these. Des balles de cannon. Je ne peux m'imaginer du poids de celles-ci.

Cannon balls – I can’t imagine the weight of these. Des balles de cannon. Je ne peux m’imaginer du poids de celles-ci.

Very nice views of the sea and city are offered and the fortress itself is very well maintained and offers a lot of information. Admission is $3.00 for this fortress alone or you can do a combo of Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo El Morro for $5.00.

On the roof of Castillo San Cristobal. Sur le toît du Castillo San Cristobal.

On the roof of Castillo San Cristobal. Sur le toît du Castillo San Cristobal.

C&S posing inside the castillo. Below if the way to El Morro. C&S font une pose dans le castillo. An arrière-plan; le chemin pour se rendre à El Morro.

C&S posing inside the castillo. Below if the way to El Morro. C&S font une pose dans le castillo. An arrière-plan; le chemin pour se rendre à El Morro.

Caro peeking out. Caro regarde par une grosse fenêtre.

Caro peeking out. Caro regarde par une grosse fenêtre.

Looking east. Apperçu vers l'est.

Looking east. Apperçu vers l’est.

Salem, Old San Juan and the port below. Salem, le vieux San Juan et le port en arrière-plan.

Salem, Old San Juan and the port below. Salem, le vieux San Juan et le port en arrière-plan.

Up on the rooooooof! Sur le toît.

Up on the rooooooof! Sur le toît.

View from a WWII lookout, towards the east. La vue à partir d'un poste de guet datant de la 2e guerre mondiale. Vue vers l'est.

View from a WWII lookout, towards the east. La vue à partir d’un poste de guet datant de la 2e guerre mondiale. Vue vers l’est.

There’s a shuttle between San Cristobal and El Morro which is included in your entrance fee. Or, you can do like us and walk the 1.5-2 km stretch from one to the other. If you’re going to do the walk along the fortification walls, I would suggest you stay just south of the wall (as many are advised on Trip Advisor forums) otherwise you might end up in La Perla, which is supposed to be a bit of a rougher neighbourhood. it’s a 15 minute walk which felt like longer because we had a backpack, it was hot and the sun was at its zenith. Woops! Thankfully, we had plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks.

On our way to El Morro. En route vers El Morro.

On our way to El Morro. En route vers El Morro.

Castillo El Morro

There's El Morro in the background. El Morro à l'horizon!

There’s El Morro in the background. El Morro à l’horizon!

We finally made it to the gates of El Morro! Ça y est! Nous sommes arrivés à El Morro!

We finally made it to the gates of El Morro! Ça y est! Nous sommes arrivés à El Morro!

El Morro is a bit more of a maze and is larger than Castillo San Cristobal and it is also older (construction started in 1529 but expansions continued over the next 400 years). It spans 6 different levels (you start on level 5). We went to the 6th level for some amazing views and went down to the 4th level but we gave up after that because it was so hot (stone fortress + full sun + humidity + not much air circulation in most areas). Either way, it was almost 2 pm and we were getting hungry. This too offers great views of the sea and historical info.

Canon aimed at the beach? Un cannon qui vise la plage?

Canon aimed at the beach? Un cannon qui vise la plage?

I guess that explains why it's pointed at the beach! Ça explique pourquoi il vise la plage!

I guess that explains why it’s pointed at the beach! Ça explique pourquoi il vise la plage!

Salem looking out at El Morro. Salem scrute l'horizon à El Morro.

Salem looking out at El Morro. Salem scrute l’horizon à El Morro.

A look into the center of El Morro. On voit le centre d'El Morro ici.

A look into the center of El Morro. On voit le centre d’El Morro ici.

The fortress walls, coast and the ocean to the east. les murs de la forteresse, la côte et l'océan vers l'est.

The fortress walls, coast and the ocean to the east. Les murs de la forteresse, la côte et l’océan vers l’est.

Salem and the northern cost of El Morro. Salem et la côte nord d'El Morro.

Salem and the northern cost of El Morro. Salem et la côte nord d’El Morro.

Lizards also like tourism. Les lézards aiment aussi les visites touristiques.

Lizards also like tourism. Les lézards aiment aussi les visites touristiques.

Salem posing on the south side of El Morro. Salem pose du côté sud d'El Morro.

Salem posing on the south side of El Morro. LOL! Salem pose du côté sud d’El Morro. LOL!

The 4th level of El Morro - it's hot here! Le 4e niveau d'El Morro; il fait très chaud ici!

The 4th level of El Morro – it’s hot here! Le 4e niveau d’El Morro; il fait très chaud ici!

We took the free shuttle back to the more central part of Old San Juan and made our way to Barrachina (104 Calle Fortaleza) as I had heard some good reviews about it. You can either sit indoors or in a “courtyard”. Of course, we picked the courtyard. I ordered the shrimp mofongo in a tomato sauce over cassava, Salem ordered the combo mofongo (chicken, beef, shrimp) in a slightly different tomato sauce over a plantain base. Very tasty. We also had 2 virgin Pina Coladas which were just what we needed! Unfortunately, the only dessert available at the time was rhum cake. :( Total was $54 + tip. The service was very friendly so we tipped accordingly.

Pina Colada!

Pina Colada!

Courtyard at Barrachina. La cour intérieure au Barrachina.

Courtyard at Barrachina. La cour intérieure au Barrachina.

Happy Pina Colada!

Happy Pina Colada!

Salem's mofongo combo - beef, chicken, shrimp. Le combo mofongo de Salem: boeuf, poulet et crevettes.

Salem’s mofongo combo – beef, chicken, shrimp. Le combo mofongo de Salem: boeuf, poulet et crevettes.

Caro's shrimp mofongo. Le mofongo aux crevettes de Caro.

Caro’s shrimp mofongo. Le mofongo aux crevettes de Caro.

Refuelled and ready to go! Rechargés et prêts à continuer!

Refuelled and ready to go! Rechargés et prêts à continuer!

After refueling, we went souvenir shopping. I’m trying my best to stay away from “junk” souvenir stores in order to support more local artists – and Puerto Rico has lots of artists. Thankfully, Salem was agreed with me given what was available. So, less volume as far as souvenirs go, pay a bit more, but get something authentic and locally-made.

We purchased from the following stores:
– Puerto Rican Arts & Crafts (204 Calle Fortaleza)
– Mundo Taino (Calle San José)
– The Handcraft Store (208 Calle Fortaleza)

Unfortunately, the backpack was getting very heavy and giving Salem problems. So we decided to take a coffee break at Café Cola’o. Can I just repeat how great their coffee is? This must’ve been one of the best cups of coffee I have ever had. That, and the barista made some nice art with the foam – I loved it! PS You can buy coffee beans there!

I love you Café Cola'o! Que je t'aime Café Cola'o!

I love you Café Cola’o! Que je t’aime Café Cola’o!

Caro gets to enjoy her coffee. C'est au tour de Caro de savourer son café.

Caro gets to enjoy her coffee. C’est au tour de Caro de savourer son café.

We took a taxi back in the early evening and just had a quiet night eating supplier-sponsored cheese and crackers on our balcony, enjoying Starbucks coffee from the lobby.

Puerto Rico – April 2013 – Day 5

The day everyone left.

Morning

Our last breakfast buffet with and paid by Salem’s work. People were leaving at various times in the day so we were still running into people until the early afternoon.

A view of the beach from our room. La plage à partir de notre chambre.

A view of the beach from our room. La plage à partir de notre chambre.

We spent most of the day on the beach and, to our surprise, it got rather crowded. My guess: the hotel may be selling day passes to locals on Sundays. I wonder how much that costs! There was a public beach right next door, it had a lot more people and kids but there is a division to keep both beaches apart. I have mixed feelings about the division…

We also had a non-human local come and sun himself with us. Some of the female guests were freaked out – I thought he was pretty cool and rather cute!

This local would like to borrow Salem's goggles. Ce gars du coin voulait emprunter les lunettes de natation de Salem.

This local would like to borrow Salem’s goggles. Ce gars du coin voulait emprunter les lunettes de natation de Salem.

A local tanning. Le gars du coin en train de se faire bronzer.

A local tanning. Le gars du coin en train de se faire bronzer.

For lunch, we made our way to the beach grill. I was hoping to get a kosher hot-dog (advertised as so on their menu) – I haven’t had a hot-dog in years! I would love to get a good “steamy” but God knows what is in those things! Thankfully, Salem asked an employee what was in the hot-dog. Their answer a mix of either chicken or beef and pork! How is that kosher? No thanks. Now the big question: is this false advertising on the Hilton’s behalf or a mistake on the employee’s behalf? Either one is not a good thing!

We decided to enjoy the beach a bit longer and go back to our room in the late afternoon. We did a little tour of the hotel grounds and found this cute garden with some resident pets! I wouldn’t suggest you try and pet them though.

Duck and a rooster! Un canard et un coq!

Duck and a rooster! Un canard et un coq!

Turkey in mid gobble. Dinde en plein milieu de son glou-glou.

Turkey in mid gobble. Dinde en plein milieu de son glou-glou.

2 swans. 2 cignes.

2 swans. 2 cignes.

Supper was at the Pina Colada Club (part of the hotel). We had the same thing as last time – Caro = fish tacos (I had been dreaming about them) Salem = chicken wrap.

Back to the Pina Colada Club! YUM! De retour au Pina Colada Club!

Back to the Pina Colada Club! YUM! De retour au Pina Colada Club!

Prepping for our walk! Prête à marcher!

Prepping for our walk! Prête à marcher!

Evening in Condado

After that, we made our way across the bridge to Condado – it’s a nice walk (10 minutes from our hotel) – it seems this is where most American tourists hang out. There are quite a few American restaurants and chains, some stores, green spaces, beach access, etc along Ashford Avenue. Be prepared as it’s rather busy with cars, pedestrians and cyclists. Yes, cyclists – lots of them. But they don’t seem to be psychotic like Montréal cyclists even though you do have to have your wits about you – you do share the sidewalk with them. I also noticed that they seem to have this sense of pride with their bikes – really colourful, new, mostly mountain bikes (or at least with a heavier frame). It was actually kinda nice to see.

On the bridge to Condado. Sur le pont. Destination: Condado!

On the bridge to Condado. Sur le pont. Destination: Condado!

I love this Miami-style architecture. J'adore l'architecture style Miami.

I love this Miami-style architecture. J’adore l’architecture style Miami.

Beach access! L'accès à la plage.

Beach access! L’accès à la plage.

Condado green space between hotels. Espace vert entre les hôtels à Condado.

Condado green space between hotels. Espace vert entre les hôtels à Condado.

Salem along a rocky part of the beach. Salem posé en avant d'une partie rocheuse de la plage.

Salem along a rocky part of the beach. Salem posé en avant d’une partie rocheuse de la plage.

Upon later discussion, Ashford avenue felt like a bit of a mix between Ste-Catherine and St-Laurent with a bit of beach added to it. Rather nice.

Ashford Avenue in the evening. L'avenue Ashford en soirée.

Ashford Avenue in the evening. L’avenue Ashford en soirée.

Bridge on the walk back to the hotel from Condado. Le pont lors de notre retour de notre sortie à Condado.

Bridge on the walk back to the hotel from Condado. Le pont lors de notre retour de notre sortie à Condado.

We grabbed a coffee and slit a piece of chocolate cake at the Starbucks in the lobby. We were tired so bedtime wasn’t too late – I blame it on the sun and fresh, beach air!

Puerto Rico – April 2013 – Day 4

The last full day with the team from my husband’s work.

Morning
After the breakfast buffet and a quick meeting for my husband, many people from the Montréal team decided to get together to go and visit Old San Juan. We commandeered a few taxi vans and headed off there en masse. The 10-15 minute taxi ride for about 5 people cost us $24 USD. We broke up into smaller groups as some people had kids and everyone had their own list of things they wanted to see. We were about 6 people to our group. We were all to meet for lunch at Café Puerto Rico near Plaza Colôn.

Our walk wasn’t very structured and we tended to just go where the wind took us. We started down Calle O’Donnel to Tetuan then onto Fortaleza where there are many arts & crafts stores. Looking for outlet stores? Head to Del Cristo for Guess and Coach stores that offer amazing prices. There are more stores but I think most of my readers, who know me personally, are fully aware that I don’t really care about brand names.

Caro, the damn tourist, is ready! Caro, la maudite touriste, est prête!

Caro, the damn tourist, is ready! Caro, la maudite touriste, est prête!

Calle O'Donnell.

Calle O’Donnell.

Salem, the port and a battleship in the distance. Salem, le port et un navire de guerre à quelque distance.

Salem, the port and a battleship in the distance. Salem, le port et un navire de guerre à quelque distance.

Now, please take note! I do not condone alcohol consumption – I think we all know that. That being said, what others do is their own business. And I’m fully aware of what people like to do when they are on vacation. But please, please – if you are going to drink while on vacation, do it responsibly! Going for a day-long walking tour when it’s sunny and about 30+ degrees C plus humidity? Maybe, just maybe, you might not want to down half that 40oz bottle of rhum by 10:30 am. Perhaps you should consider bringing actual water to drink, rather than more straight-up rhum while on your walking tour. I’m just putting this out there for more health-related reasons. I’m not even going to go into a long spiel about altered behaviour while drinking such quantities of alcohol. I think it’s quite clear how I feel about that! ;) ‘nough said!

Now, back to the fun at hand! after some shopping, we had to rush back to our starting point in order to make it fashionably late to our lunch meetup. What awesomeness did we encounter along the way? FREE HUGS!! Yes, those people that stand around, in large groups, with t-shirts saying “Free hugs!” and actually dispensing them to anyone who happens to pass by and want one. Of course, I stuck to the women, but I must say, it really is fun and quite contageous. Salem wasn’t too keep on the idea but was still suckered into a few. One of his co-workers went a little berserk and started offering some to complete strangers not even part of the group. It was actually quite funny and I think we could all use a little positivity and hugs in our lives.

Old San Juan and its artistic touches. Le vieux San Juan rajoute ses touches artistiques.

Old San Juan and its artistic touches. Le vieux San Juan rajoute ses touches artistiques.

Why so serious, Salem? Pourquoi si sérieux, Salem?

Why so serious, Salem? Pourquoi si sérieux, Salem?

FREE HUGS! Des calins GRATUITS!

FREE HUGS! Des calins GRATUITS!

Pigeons flying around a boy in a plaza. Des pigeons volent alentours d'un garçon dans une plaza.

Pigeons flying around a boy in a plaza. Des pigeons volent alentours d’un garçon dans une plaza.

It’s lunch time!
Café Puerto Rico is a 2-floor, wooden-furniture adorned restaurant that also has a terrace. Our group of about 12 people was seated upstairs. Having read up on local cuisine before we came, I had Salem and I try the mofongo – a typical Puerto Rican dish. Salem’s dish: a shrimp mofongo in a garlic sauce with a cassava (or yukka) base. I ordered the vegetarian one (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) also in a garlic sauce with a green/sweet plantain base. Comes with salad and rice. The slightly crispy base is hollowed out a bit to make space for the filling. Mine was very good, but Salem’s was AMAZING! With tax and tip, lunch for the 2 of us was $34 USD.

It's lunch time! C'est l'heure du dîner!

It’s lunch time! C’est l’heure du dîner!

Shrimp mofongo from Café Puerto Rico - THE BEST! Mofongo aux crevettes du Café Puerto Rico; c'est LE meilleur!

Shrimp mofongo from Café Puerto Rico – THE BEST! Mofongo aux crevettes du Café Puerto Rico; c’est LE meilleur!

Vegetarian mofongo from Café Puerto Rico. Mofongo végétarien du Café Puerto Rico.

Vegetarian mofongo from Café Puerto Rico. Mofongo végétarien du Café Puerto Rico.

Afternoon
We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a bit more shopping and sight seeing.

I’ll take this opportunity to say a few things about San Juan.
1- Wow!
2- Salem and I could easily move there.
3- It made me feel even worse about things in Cuba.

Why? The buildings are (for the majority) well maintained. Of course, there are a few here and there that are a little worse for wear, but you can see that just about anywhere. The architectural style is so nice, the colours are plentiful. The people are nice, you don’t get harassed, you feel safe. I was out in full-on “tourist” mode with my camera around my neck, snapping pictures all over the place, and not once did anyone even get close to me.

What Caro looked like for most of the day. Caro a passé 80% de sa journée dans une position semblable.

What Caro looked like for most of the day. Caro a passé 80% de sa journée dans une position semblable.

Colourful cobblestone road. Rue en pavé en plusieurs teintes de bleu.

Colourful cobblestone road. Rue en pavé en plusieurs teintes de bleu.

Local cats. Les matous du coin.

Local cats. Les matous du coin.

Lovely, colourful buildings. De jolis édifices de toutes couleurs.

Lovely, colourful buildings. De jolis édifices de toutes couleurs.

Details, details. Les détails font la photo!

Details, details. Les détails font la photo!

Old buildings, new cars. Vieux édifices, nouvelles voitures.

Old buildings, new cars. Vieux édifices, nouvelles voitures.

An example of colour used to highlight architectural detail. Comment utiliser la couleur pour mettre en valeur l'architecture.

An example of colour used to highlight architectural detail. Comment utiliser la couleur pour mettre en valeur l’architecture.

It never ends! Ça ne fini pas!

It never ends! Ça ne fini pas!

Can you even find tiling like this anymore? Est-il possible de trouver des tuiles de ce genre de nos jours?

Can you even find tiling like this anymore? Est-il possible de trouver des tuiles de ce genre de nos jours?

Secret garden. Jardin secret.

Secret garden. Jardin secret.

Iron work can also be light and dainty. Le fer peut aussi prendre une apparence jolie et délicate.

Iron work can also be light and dainty. Le fer peut aussi prendre une apparence jolie et délicate.

Just enjoy the picture! Chut!

Just enjoy the picture! Chut!

C&S by a seaside old city wall with one of the many symbols of Puerto Rico. C&S en avant d'un mur de la vieille ville et un des symboles les plus reconnus de Puerto Rico.

C&S by a seaside old city wall with one of the many symbols of Puerto Rico. C&S en avant d’un mur de la vieille ville et un des symboles les plus reconnus de Puerto Rico.

Yes, we did see a few downtrodden people, again, you’ll encounter that just about anywhere you go. And yes, I am certain that there are lots of destitute people in Puerto Rico and that poverty exists, it’s just been either relegated to non-touristy areas of the country (or less touristic). But, like I said, I felt safe and no one approached me. And here’s where I’m going to come in with Cuba – Salem and I were both saddened by what we saw when we visited Havana. I think Salem may have interpreted it a bit differently than I did given the places he’s been and lived. In one sentence, I’ll sum up about how I see San Juan (or perhaps Puerto Rico) in comparison to Havana (or Cuba):
“San Juan is what Havana could’ve been”
Now, that being said, I could be totally wrong in comparing the 2 – they do have very different recent histories! But, they did have very similar histories up until a certain point and then they both went in 2 different directions. It all boils down to alliances, politics and opportunities. I won’t get into anything political (although I may have already), but I just cannot help but compare one city to the other given their striking similarities and history, but their completely different realities. And while I felt bad after visiting Havana, I felt even worse about the situation in Cuba after having seen Old San Juan.

Yes, poverty does exist. This man was talking to himself and writing something in the sky. I still wonder what he was writing. Oui, la pauvreté existe. Cet homme se parlait et écrivait quelque chose dans le ciel. Je me demande toujours ce qu'il écrivait.

Yes, poverty does exist. This man was talking to himself and writing something in the sky. I still wonder what he was writing. Oui, la pauvreté existe. Cet homme se parlait et écrivait quelque chose dans le ciel. Je me demande toujours ce qu’il écrivait.

Now, to move onto brighter things…

Salem and a warship - of course! Salem et un navire de guerre... quoi d'autre?

Salem and a warship – of course! Salem et un navire de guerre… quoi d’autre?

We topped it off with a visit to a place I hard heard about on Pier #2 – Café Cola’o. 2 double espressos and an iced coffee came out to $8 USD. Let me tell you, Puerto Ricans know coffee! My espresso was so strong that I had to add sugar twice and then a bit of my iced coffee to finish it up. Oh, and the iced coffee – that’s not milk! That’s cream! Real cream! What a treat that was.

Double-espresso that will knock your socks off! Un double-espresso qui fesse en 'ti pépère!

Double-espresso that will knock your socks off! Un double-espresso qui fesse en ‘ti pépère!

Café Cola'o - how I miss you! Café Cola'o; que tu me manques!

Café Cola’o – how I miss you! Café Cola’o; que tu me manques!

But we couldn’t stay very late as we had the “Goodbye dinner” to get ready for. On our way back, we shared a cab with the CEO of the company and his wife – very nice people!

Evening
What was going to be a beach party turned out to be indoors given to the so-so weather forecast. That’s ok! We still had lots of fun dancing to the live band and eating from the buffet: mixed salad, tomato and boconccini salad, shrimp & crab salad, cheese platter (you know I love cheese), cold cuts (ix-nay!), asparagus salad, jerk chicken, vegetable and soy fried rice, mahi mahi, etc. Good food! And then there was dessert! Chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, pineapple coconut tarts, vanilla cake.

Foooood! C'est le temps de bouffer!

Foooood! C’est le temps de bouffer!

Salem even had a dance-off with a co-worker and we got to enjoy a performance by a traditional Puerto-Rican group. Unfortunately, the party was shut down at 10 pm – just as I was getting into it – and everyone headed off to the lobby bar to continue the party – or so we were told. I guess to some, party = sit and drink. Boring! WE went for a walk outside and ended up doing a 2-person dabké practice on the very windy beach. We went to bed around 1-2 am.

C&S at the dinner party. C&S prêts à faire la fête.

C&S at the dinner party. C&S prêts à faire la fête.

On the charter, yet once more – Sur la charte, encore!

Assalamu alaikum, I just wanted to share 2 more links concerning the newly proposed Québec charter of rights and values.

A petition that you can sign to voice your opposition to the proposed charter:
https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-4339/index.html
Please note: once you fill in your information, you will receive an email in your inbox (possibly in your junk folder). You must open this message and click on their link to confirm that you did, in fact, sign the petition.

The next gathering/protest against the charter this weekend (Sept 29th). I hope many people will go – I plan on going.

Don’t have access to Facebook? The event will be at Place des festivals (Jeanne-Mance and Ste-Catherine) on Sunday, September 29th at 1 pm.

************

Assalamu alaikum, je prends quelques minutes pour vous faire parvenir 2 autres liens concernant la charte des valeurs proposée au Québec.

Une pétition, que vous pouvez signer, qui est contre ce projet de charte:
https://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-4339/index.html
SVP notez: Une fois vos coordonnées envoyées, vous recevrez un courriel (possiblement dans vos “pourriels”). Vous devez ouvrir ce courriel et cliquer sur le lien pour confirmer que vous c’est bien vous qui avez signé cette pétition.

Le prochain rassemblement (ou démonstration) contre la charte sera cette fin de semaine (le 29 septembre). J’espère que plusieurs y seront; je comptes y aller.

Vous n’avez pas un compte Facebook? Le rassemblement se fera à la Place des festivals (Jeanne-Mance et Ste-Catherine) ce dimanche, le 29 septembre, à 13h00.

Changements à la charte des droits et liberté au Québec – La charte “des valeurs québecoises”

Bon, je ne suis pas certaine si je vais traduire le tout que j’ai écris hier en anglais; ce n’est pas mon meilleur texte et j’ai les émotions qui courent un peu partout. Que ressens-je en ce moment? Je suis triste, déçue, fâchée, même enragée par temps… D’un sens, je me sens aussi trahie par certaines personnes dans mon peuple, la culture dans laquelle j’ai été élevée. Bref, j’ai le cœur brisé…

C’est drôle, mes parents m’ont toujours dit d’être tolérante et ils m’ont élevés avec un esprit curieux, ouvert. Ils ne m’ont jamais montré comment différer entre une personne ou une autre basé sur la couleur de leur peau, la manière dont il(elle) se vêtit, leur pays d’origine, leur religion ou leur langue maternelle. Non, on m’a encouragée d’apprendre à connaitre et apprécier le monde basé sur leur caractère, leur personnalité, leurs valeurs.

Certains dirons peut-être que je suis naïve, mais j’essaie toujours de vivre ma vie de cette manière, de percevoir le monde à travers cette philosophie. Je ne peux m’imaginer à quel point ma vie serait limitée et vide si mes parents m’auraient inculqués avec une vision intolérante et fermée d’esprit.

Alhamdullillahi rabbil ‘alamin! (Louange à Allah, Seigneur de l’univers) En grande part, c’est grâce à eux et à la manière dont ils m’ont élevés que j’ai retrouvé mon chemin vers Dieu, que j’ai trouvé l’homme de ma vie, que j’ai eu la chance de m’entourer de gens magnifiques. Même si j’ai le cœur brisé avec ce qu’il se passe au Québec, je leurs suis infiniment reconnaissante de m’avoir appris que tout ce que je sais, y incluant que tout le monde est égal et que nous avons tous des droits; peu importe notre nom, sexe, origine, langue, foie, mode de vie, etc.!

Un positif dans toute cette situation; il semblerait que l’île de Montréal ferait une demande d’exemption pour cette nouvelle charte. Ceci m’a tellement remonté le moral. Toutes les municipalités et la grande Ville elle même, toute l’île, à l’unanimité s’oppose à la charte! Subhan’Allah! Voir l’article dans La Presse.

Je vais terminer ceci avec un lien vers un manifeste en français, écrit par un groupe surnommé Québec Inclusif. C’est un long texte mais ça vaut le temps de lecture.
Lien vers le manifeste
Et si vous aimez ce qu’ils ont à dire, je vous encourage à signer leur manifeste en cliquant ici.

Merci.

On the proposed changes to the Québec charter of rights

As some of you may or may not know, the government of Québec is looking to make some changes to the provincial charter of rights and freedoms. Usually, I would say that change can be good, but in this case I cannot agree in the least!

This post may be a bit all over the place – I’m that annoyed/disappointed/mad/enraged/heart-broken.

 

What are the changes proposed?

It would ban the wearing of “overt and conspicuous” religious symbols by any public/civil servants while on the job.

So what is an “overt and conspicuous” religious symbol anyway? Large crucifixes, turbans, hijabs, burqas and kippas. But feel free to wear a small symbol as jewelry.

 

Who is directly affected by the ban?

Public service extends to: judges, police, prosecutors, public daycare workers, teachers, school staff, hospital workers (doctors, nurses and other staff), municipal personnel.

 

Why is this ban being proposed?

To ensure the equality of the sexes and establish a secular society. *please note the whole “equality of the sexes” thing – anyone else feel this whole thing is really aimed at women wearing hijab?*

 

While it may not sound all that bad, the tensions this whole issue has created are horrible! It pits one group against another. As if non “pure-laine” didn’t feel unwanted enough, this gets thrown in their face. I would also like to point out that it’s not only Muslims, Jews and Sikhs that are affected, but Christians as well.

In a country and province that depends so much on newcomers to immigrate and establish lives and families here to help support the population, I think this is just absurd! It’s like telling a guest to come over and stay, permanently, that they are welcome. But then you turn around to belittle them and make them feel so unwelcome with every chance you get. “I don’t like the way you look/dress/think/lead your life – you are below me! – but keep paying me rent and respect me.”

How can this proposed change benefit anyone in this province?

It doesn’t! It actually creates anger between groups, encourages the “us vs them” mentality that is already poisoning this society, will cause further segregation between groups rather than encouraging people to integrate and contribute to society, will increase the jobless rate and will lead to loss of manpower to other provinces.

That means that your 8, 12, 17 hour wait in the emergency room could increase! Why? Because it would seem that being cared for by a doctor with a kippa is unacceptable.

On an endless waiting list for a daycare spot for your little munchkin? Wait a little longer, why don’t you? It would seem a woman wearing a hijab is unfit to care for your child.

Like feeling safe at home? Well, worry no more! That menace to society, turbaned police officer has been sent packing and criminals will be freer to roam your neighbourhood now! (I hope you can hear the sarcasm)

Remember that freaking awesome French teacher you had? Well, she’s been sacked too – turns out her cross was too big.

 

In a province where emergency room wait times are now averaging 19 hours. Where parents are knocking door-to-door and waiting months before they can find a subsidized a day daycare spot (and the quality isn’t all that great either). Where the dropout rate in high schools is set at average of 29%. Where crime has hit its lowest numbers in about 40 years (nationally) due to better tactics and hard work by officers and the justice system… Have we forgotten that we accept immigrants not our of “pity” but out of need? Who else is going to support our ageing population? Quebecers don’t reproduce enough to create the jobs and workers needed to support our asses and all the services we demand!

So why in the world do we want to discourage people from public service? Why chase them away? In all honesty, the last time you went to the hospital, or to get your license renewed, or had a police officer answer your call – did you get your panties in a bunch because the person serving you was wearing some form of religious symbol? I, myself, couldn’t care less as long as I am getting my service and as long as the person is dressed in a professional and clean manner.

 

Another question: Everyone here pays taxes for services provided by the government, no? I highly doubt people wearing religious symbols have some form of tax exemption – At least I’ve never heard of one. So why pay taxes to an entity that wants to actually take away your rights and freedoms? It’s like paying to get slapped in the face!

 

I’m honestly angry from all sides when it comes to this issue. As a Québecoise (or Francophone), I cannot believe that people still have this “us vs them” mentality. The whole “Le Québec aux Québecois” thing never made any sense to me – it’s a province built on immigrants. I guess people are quick to forget that the French were colonizers who took over the land of the Natives. Then came the English, and others followed. All contributed in some way, shape, or form to make Québec and Canada what it is today. Look at what we have all created. Look at the diversity – it is one of the most beautiful gifts Allah has given us.

So it pains me to hear what some of my fellow Francophones say. And I take it to heart even more because I am a Muslim. They would have me limited as to employment and segregated the day I choose to cover my hair. And how would they look at and treat our children? They will not have Francophone names, they may even look Arab, and I hope they will be good, practicing Muslims (insha’Allah)… Should they be discriminated against simply because they aren’t 100% pure Québecois “de souche”? Because they may wear a religious symbol?

 

How much farther would you like this to go? Not allowing people to speak any other language other than French in public? How about limiting jobs to only certain races? It sounds ludicrous, but it’s really not far off.

I thought our laws prevented against job discrimination based on race, religion, age. Isn’t this discrimination? By refusing gainful employment to someone solely on the basis of religious symbols?

 

Do we not have better issues to deal with?

  • Unemployment – about 5000 jobs were lost in Québec last month while other provinces showed an increase in jobs!
  • Emergency room wait times – 21 hours in Montréal, 17 in the rest of the province.  Why? A doctor and nurse shortage due to crap salaries and conditions and restrictions.
  • Lack of family doctors – many people do not have family doctors. Again, salaries, conditions and restrictions.
  • Medical specialists – did you know that you can easily wait 6 months to see a specialist in our wonderful province? What if you had cancer? Wouldn’t 6 months possibly make all the difference between life and death?
  • Subsidized day care – parents are constantly searching for a spot, waiting months to get one and the quality of service isn’t all that much to write home about.
  • Corruption – if you haven’t heard about the Charbonneau commission, I suggest you check it out! Our tax dollars are lining the pockets of the political elite and their buddies. Who knew?!
  • Education – cuts in elementary, high school and continuing education but no increase in tuition to make up for it. How well is that going to bode? Already, McGill is no longer Canada’s top University. That didn’t take long! Again, did you not see the high school dropout rate posted above?
  • Quebec debt – Seems it’s at about $258 billion. No problem there, right?

 

I’ll stick with this very simple way of summing it all up:

“Simple minds are distracted by simple things”

 

Anyone in Ontario looking to hire a graphic designer/translator and a procurement manager? I’m so sick of this xenophobic province!

 

 

Here’s a link to a petition, if you’re at all interested.

 https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/le-gouvernement-qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois-parti-qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois-arreter-le-projet-de-loi-la-charte-des-valeurs-du-qu%C3%A9bec

And here’s what I wrote as my comment:

Ceci ne profite aucunement à notre société, ça ne fait que diviser les gens.

SVP, passons aux vrais problèmes : temps d’attente et services de la santé, éducation, création d’emplois, endettement, accès aux services, corruption, etc.

NOTRE GOUVERNEMENT TENTE DE NOUS DISTRAIRE AVEC DES CONNERIES! Mme Marois, cessez donc de gaspiller notre temps et notre argent et penchez-vous donc sur les problèmes qui nous touchent! Vous et votre parti ne fait qu’accroître la haîne entre les québecois et de nous faire honte en face du monde entier! 

 

Interested in further reading?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/09/10/f-quebec-charter-proposal-constitution.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2013/08/21/f-charter-quebec-values-jocelyn-maclure.html

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/09/11/kelly-mcparland-quebec-charter-is-an-embarrassment-to-canadian-values-and-human-dignity/

http://www.cjad.com/blog/TommySchnurmacherShow/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10586945

Ramadan 2013 – Videos I like to watch on YouTube

Assalamu alaikum everyone! So, as always, I have failed to post as often as I would like to. But that’s ok, I was busy doing the things I should be really concentrating on during Ramadan – that is faith, worship, increasing knowledge, etc. Woohoo!

While I missed socializing at lunch time with co-workers, I did enjoy the videos I watched during that time. I’ll share some of the videos with you as I feel they are worth listening to and will probably return to some of them throughout the year.

Qur’anic Gems by Qur’an Weekly
I had this one video series I would listen to every day. Why? Not because I am obsessed, but because the people at Qur’an Weekly would put out a video every day during Ramadan. The series was entitled “Qur’anic Gems”. The topic? Picking one passage from the Qur’an every day (as part of our recommended daily reading – see this post which mentions it) and explains it. I have learned so much from these videos. They not only teach you more about Islam and the Qur’an but also about yourself. It’s a great series to watch if you’re looking to better yourself (not only as a Muslim, but as a person).

A link to the playlist:Qur’anic Gems playlist
And a link to their main YouTube page where they have many other videos:Qur’an Weekly YouTube page
Notable mention to the Superstars series: The one about Khadija had me crying.

Nye Armstrong
These videos are much more light-hearted. While they can be informative, they are much more about personal experience. Sister Nye Armstrong, who puts up the videos, is an American convert (or revert, whichever you prefer). She is often joined by another convert friend of hers, Rebecca. Together, they really make a great team and the friendship they have is something so beautiful. Honestly, on days where I wasn’t feeling the most positive, I would load up one of sister Nye’s videos and feel better instantly. The only downside to watching the videos was the realizing (even more than before) that I don’t have that much of any friendship with another sister. Now, this is not to discount what I do have, I know a few other Muslim females that I get along with and talk to, but nothing that is a really close friendship, where you see one another on a regular basis. It probably doesn’t help that I have yet to really feel this whole “sisterhood” thing I keep hearing about. I am very active on pages and message boards online, but in person… Lets just say I get nervous just getting dressed to go to the masjid. That is another post all on it’s own.

But yes, I do really enjoy the videos though and it makes me feel a little less lonely sometimes, like they’re almost there talking to me. Sounds crazy, I know! But I think you’ll get it if you watch a few of their videos.

A recent video of theirs – What is Ramadan?
One of their most viewed videos – Parents not Muslim… But you are?
A short video that sister Nye put together about what Muslims experience, especially converts – Blind Hate

Bayyinah Institute
These videos are a bit more advanced – they are mainly about the interpretation and explanation of the Qur’an and its passages (ayat). This process if called Tafseer. I have just recently started up on listening to these kinds of lectures and while they are really interesting, eye opening and informative, I wouldn’t suggest it for general consumption. I actually need to keep a pad of paper and pen when I listen to these in order to take notes.

Link to Bayyinah Institute’s YouTube Channel
Link to Bayyinah Institute’s Podcast (this is how I usually access the tafseer lectures)

Qalam Institute
The Qalam Institute is putting out an amazing series on the life of Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasalam – Peace and blessings be upon him). This is called the Seerah. I will admit that I have always felt a bit of a hard time connecting to our Prophet for some reason. My possible explanation: Prophets were always the subjects in stories when I grew up, almost mythical. So I guess it’s hard to get close to or relate to them. But this series is meant to bring you closer to Prophet Muhammad through explaining his life story. The series is ongoing, currently at 50 lectures and increasing, but I am only at lecture 20. It’s a very long series but, so far, I am loving it! The lecturer really goes into the history and details, and you really get to see the human side of the Prophet (SAWS), his childhood, people in his life, struggles, outlooks, etc. And it’s all chronological too.

A link to their Podcast page.

For all of these different groups, all I have to say is SubhanAllah (glory be to God) – they put so much time and effort into these projects, it’s really amazing. And I really do hope they continue because they are teaching many Muslims (and non-Muslims) about our wonderful religion. If not making us better Muslims, then at least sharing knowledge and informing. This is in and of itself a beautiful gift. Jazaahum Allaahu khayran/Jazaahunna Allaahu khayran (may Allah reward them with good) to all these groups.

Alhamdullilah, 3 things I am grateful for today:
1- My parents accepting my Ramadan dinner invitation for last Saturday.
2- Having the means to put food on the table (with guests or just Salem and I).
3- The love my family has for me. Insha’allah (God willing), they know just how much I love them too.


*********

Assalamu alaikum tout le monde! Comme de fait, je n’ai pas été capable de publier des articles aussi souvent que je l’aurai voulu. Mais c’est rien de sérieux car j’était occupée avec des choses qui sont plutôt importantes durant le Ramadan; la foi, vénération, éducation, etc.

Certes, socialiser avec mes collègues lors de l’heure du diner m’a manqué, mais j’ai vraiment aimé les vidéos que j’ai regardé entretemps. Je vais partager quelques-uns de ces vidéos avec vous car je crois qu’il valent la peine d’écouter et je vais probablement y retourner au cours de l’année.

Qur’anic Gems par Qur’an Weekly
Ceci était la série que je regardais à chaque jour. Pourquoi? Non, pas parce que je suis une obsédée, mais parce que l’équipe de Qur’an Weekly téléchargeait un vidéo par jour durant le mois du Ramadan. La série était intitulée « Qur’anic Gems ». Le sujet : un passage tiré quotidiennement du Coran (basé sur notre lecture quotidienne suggérée) et son explication. J’en ai tellement apris grâce de ces vidéos; ils t’enseignent sur le Coran mais aussi sur nous-mêmes (individus). C’est une très bonne série si vous désirez vous améliorer en tant que Musulman ou en tant que personne.

Un lien vers la série : Qur’anic Gems playlist
Un lien vers leur page principale sur YouTube ou l’on peut visionner plusieurs vidéos : Page YouTube de Qur’an Weekly
Aussi à noter : leur série Superstars – celui sur Khadija m’a fait pleuer.

Nye Armstrong
Ces vidéos sont beaucoup plus légers. Ils sont tous de même informatifs, mais sont plus axés sur les expériences personnelles. Sœur Nye Armstrong, qui télécharge les vidéos, est une convertie américaine. Elle est souvent accompagnée d’une autre sœur, Rebecca. Ensemble, elles forment un très bon duo et il se voit facilement que leur amitié est de toute beauté. Honnêtement, j’écoute un de leurs vidéos les jours quand je ne me sens pas trop positive. Le seul bémol est quand j’ai réalisé (encore plus qu’avant) que je n’avais pas une telle amitié avec une sœur. Pas pour dire que je n’ai rien de bon; j’ai quelques copines qui sont musulmanes avec qui je m’entends et avec qui je peux parler, mais je n’ai pas d’amie proche dans ce groupe avec qui je pourrais voir régulièrement. Je n’ai pas encore fait l’expérience de la « sororité » entre sœurs que nous mentionne souvent notre religion. Je suis très active sur des forums et pages sur l’internet, mais c’est autre chose en personne. Disons que je commence à m’énerver dès que je commence à m’habiller pour une visite à la mosquée. Autre sujet, autre fois!

Pour y revenir, oui, j’aime bien les vidéos et parfois je me sens un peu moins isolée quand je les regarde; comme si elles étaient là, en train de me parler. Je ne suis pas folle, je vous le jure! Je pense bien que vous comprendriez si vous regardez leurs vidéos.

Une vidéo récente – What is Ramadan?
Une de leurs vidéos des plus populaires – Parents not Muslim… But you are?
Un court vidéo créé par sœur Nye adressant ce que vivent certains musulmans, spécialement ceux qui se sont convertis – Blind Hate

Bayyinah Institute
Ces vidéos sont un peu plus avancés; ils parlent plutôt de l’internprétation et l’explication du Coran et ses versets (ayat). Ce processus s’appelle le Tafseer. Je viens tout juste de commencer à écouter ce genre de lecture et, bien qu’elles sont très intéressantes, révélantes et informatives; je ne les suggèrerais pas pour tout le monde. En fait, j’ai toujours un bloc notes et un stylo pour prendre des notes quand j’écoute ces lectures.

Lien vers la Page YouTube de Bayyinah Institute
Lien vers les Podcast de Bayyinah Institute (souvent je les écoute plutôt que les regarder)

Qalam Institute
Le Qalam Institute produit une série sur la vie du Prophète Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasalam – paix et bénédiction d’Allah sur lui). C’est ce qu’on appelle le Seerah. J’admets que j’ai toujours eu un peu de mas à forger un lien personnel avec notre Prophète. La seule raison dont je peux penser : Les prophètes faisaient toujours parti de comptes qu’on nous contait quand nous étions jeunes, des gens un peu mythiques. Alors je crois que c’est peut-être pour cela qu’il est difficile de s’en rapprocher et de former ce lien avec eux. Cette série a comme but de nous rapprocher au Prophète Muhammad (saws) à travers l’histoire de sa vie. La série n’est toujours pas complétée mais contient 50 sessions à date (ils en rajoutent toujours) et je ne suis qu’à la session numéro 20. C’est une longue série, mais, à date, je l’aime bien. Le conférencier rentre vraiment dans l’histoire et les détails et nous donne la chance de voir le côté plus humain de notre Prophète (saws), son enfance, les gens dans sa vie, ses peines au cours de sa vie, opinions, etc. C’est out en ordre chronologique.

Un lien vers leur page Podcast .

Pour tous ces groupes, tout ce que j’ai à dire est SubhanAllah (gloire soit à Dieu); ils dédient tellement d’effort et de temps sur ces projets. J’espère qu’ils continueront car il enseignent à plusieurs musulmans (et non-musulmans) sur ce qu’est notre religion. Si nous ne devenons pas de meilleurs musulmans suite à ces projets, du moins partagent leurs connaissances avec nous. Ceci est un superbe cadeau! Jazaahum Allaahu khayran/Jazaahunna Allaahu khayran (que dieu les bénits de bonnes actions) à tous ces groupes.

Alhamdullilah, 3 choses pour lesquelles je suis reconnaissante aujourd’hui:
1- Mes parents qui ont acceptés mon invitation pour un souper du Ramadan samedi dernier.
2- Avoir l’argent nécessaire pour nous nourrir (invités et nous deux tous seuls).
3- L’amour que ma famille ressens pour moi. Insha’allah (Dieu voulu), ils savent jusqu’à quel point je les aime aussi.

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