Shama in South Africa...Journal entries
4/29/2011: Well we are here Alhamdulillah. 12 hours to Dubai and 7 ½ to Joburg. The travel was brutal because we moved house. So we had 13 check-in bags weighing at maximum capacity and 6 carry-ons. Now add 3 small girls to the mix and 4 pillow pets, 6 “personal items” to also carry on. My entire body hurts as if I’ve been in a car wreck. But, we have made it to our destination safely. I want to write more but after driving all night to NYC to catch our flight at JFK, and then barely sleeping on the flights, this Mama is ready to crash on her pillow.

5/1/2011: Today I changed all my settings to South African time and currencies on the laptop. Might as well dig in to my new homeland. I’m going stir crazy in this flat with the kids. This is the first time I’ve been responsible for all 5 of my children under the same roof. And I’m doing it alone. So I’m a “single mom” during our time here and so far it sucks. I miss Habibi. I miss my family. I miss internet. I miss facebook. I hate that I can’t communicate with the world at the touch of my fingers to the keys. How did one communicate b4 www? I can’t remember. Courier pigeons, Smoke signals? I need to get settled into my own flat so that I can set up a home for us. I know it has only been 2 days. But you try living out of 22 pieces of luggage with 5 kids.

The weather is similar to the Bay Area. Its winter here I think, or maybe fall. But I know it’s opposite to the US. No humidity so I'm cool with it. Joburg was well lit up as we drove past it from the airport. It was after Maghrib by then. It was about a 50 minute drive to Azaadville.

5/2/11: Kayso, later yesterday evening, two sisters from the bldg came to greet me. One was from an island off of Madagascar (I’d never heard of it and felt stupid, thought I knew my geography) and the other was from FREMONT, CA. Go figure. Jihad had seen a man earlier in the day that he recognized from the Lowery Masjid in Fremont. He also attends Darul Uloom. This was his wife who visited. Young, very friendly, I used her blackberry to go on FB for a second and announce our arrival in S.A. $10 a month gets me unlimited everything on a blackberry phone. Only problem is the buying the phone costs the same here as it does in the US, roughly $300. So…..we’ll see. I’m juiced because I was able to charge my computer. Now I can type my journal and listen to my book. My boys are really really nervous about school tomorrow. One is worried he’s forgotten everything. But it doesn’t matter. He can learn it again insha Allah, and even better because he’s older and knows the importance and reasons for learning Quran. I pray he is successful and remains on this path. The other one is scared that he won’t make any friends. He’s afraid everyone will dislike him. Insha Allah, Allah will ease his worries when he gets there. G’nite

5/5/11: Today was extra brightened by the prospect of seeing a flat we might move to. But my bubble was burst when it didn’t work out. BOOOOOOOOO. I appreciate the brother letting us live in his flat. It’s clean, comfy and convenient for the boys and school. I just really want to get settled into my own and stop living out of suitcases. MashAllah.

I’m using an MTN pay as you go phone and it is a joke. I spend R10 and get 12 minutes on a call. The highlight of today was we found the internet café. R10 there will get you 30 minutes on the web. Much better deal.

Ok, let’s talk South Africa. The weather is cool to cold right now; winter. There are "nikabis" everywhere so I don’t feel like I stand out at all. I’m a bit lonely just because all the women students that live in Madrassah homes (like us) are so young, 20 or so. I’m old enough to be Mum and I’m not a student. For the first time, I was called “Auntie” by a grown man! The boys have made friends at the Madrassah, Alhamdulillah. They were invited to dinner tonight by the students to welcome them to the Madrassah. It warmed my heart to see both my boys dressed and heading to the Madrassah together, laughing and chatting. I prayed Zayd would get a chance to know Papi as a cool big brother. They’ve spent so much time apart I was worried they’d never be as close as me and my sibs.

The homes near us are all unique and well kept with landscaped yards and very shiny, decorative garage doors. The commercial center is walking distance and just far enough to get my blood pumping and maybe drop a few lbs. Oh, I should say kg now. Ha-ha. The cars drive on the opposite side of the car and opposite side of the road. Don’t think I’ll ever get used to that. I keep looking for a phantom driver on the left side of the car. The groceries here cost the same if not more than in the US. That sucks because I have 5 hungry kids. They’re bored so they want to eat more now than ever. The area is predominantly Indian, but from here so they just call themselves South African; unlike in the US where everyone is defined by family origin first i.e. African American, German American etc., not simply American. But there are Muslims from all over the world in the Madrassah. I like to close my eyes and pretend we’ve been transported back to the time of the Prophet (s) sometimes when the Adhan calls from the Madrassah and all I hear are footsteps from every direction heading to salah. Even the market closes for salah.
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