Thursday, May 10, 2012

In a Strange Land

I sit on my son's bed, folding the last of the laundry and tucking it into drawers, when the call of the afternoon prayer rings through the air. Usually, I ignore the undulating tones, not understanding the words sung, inviting the faithful to prayer. But I stop to listen, still not understanding the words, but definitely understanding the intent behind the call to prayer.

Life is different here, strange even. Something as simple as running errands to buy groceries is complicated by the 5 different prayers throughout the day. Going out to dinner in the evening is especially challenging, trying to time it just right. We try to go right after the 4th prayer and hopefully find a place before the last prayer begins.

People go out at night, late at night, with young children. Yesterday, some friends and I went to Dairy Queen around 9:30 p.m. for ice cream. The streets busy with rushing cars, parking was chaotic and creative, and the noise was pulsing--not from music, but from the sounds of people chattering. As we waited for a booth to become available, other families poured in the door, with many young children. And as we left around 10:30 p.m., we saw more families, with lots of kids come in. I have a hard time seeing such little kids being carted around late at night. But so it is here. Families dine very late.

The roads are filled with aggressive drivers oblivious to traffic safety rules. Three lanes of traffic become five during particularly busy times. Beeping horns and squealing tires fill the air. I've seen things that could make your hair stand on end. The only place I've ever been, driving-wise, that even compares, is Utah. (Sorry guys, there is a lot to love about Utah, but the traffic is not one of them.)

I could go on about the strangeness and differences, but I can also tell you that it is a place I'm adapting to. I'm starting to get used to the prayer call. I'm learning to time my shopping and eating expeditions at the right time. I'm trying to ignore the traffic. And I'm okay. Yes, it is different here, and will always be. But I'm starting to enjoy it.

I like seeing the palm trees, especially down the road where the trees are all lit up at night. I like seeing camels in trucks and then super-expensive sports cars parked casually in the middle of the road. I like going out and having people smile at my kids and ask for pictures. I really like the yummy food I get to eat. I even enjoy the heat, which is blessedly free from humidity.

As I continue to explore this strange land, I look forward to experiencing new things and developing a wider world-view. 


  1. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have a prayer call 5 times a day... A reminder to turn my heart heavenward.

  2. I just found your blog through our facebook group, and it is making me homesick! I spent most of my life in the Middle East- Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan (is that technically in the Middle East?). I learned to love the prayer call and to truly love the generous hearts of the people. I would love to give my children the opportunity to live in other countries, but for now, the East Coast will have to suffice. Thank you for letting me reminisce vicariously through your blog!