Education

The teacher

“The teacher and the taught together create the teaching.” An Eastern saying.

Does this refer to the good teacher and the clever student? I do not think so.

In the same class, with the same teacher, there will be students who fail and others pass. I think It’s more about the student’s effort than the gift of having a good teacher. The teacher, the student and the subject create education. They all have to be there to make the process.

In my undergraduate studies, I had to choose another language to study. My choice was Spanish. Our tutor was Espanol and his teaching method was to give us long different topics in spanish. He was the one to read and explain and we were the receivers. He was too fast to follow or understand. I remember how my friend and I spent most of the time laughing; we could not understand anything, just looking at the translation most of the time. However we had never failed and surprisingly I used to have good grades.

I’ve almost forgot all of what I learned; it’s been long time ago, but I still remember my teacher.

Wishing you all the best,

Adios,

Nahla

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life, Writing

Universal language

 

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Have you ever understood anyone speaking not your language?

It can happen and it did happen.

Many years ago one of my neighbours was from Mexico. She moved to the UK with her husband and her little boy, about three years old. Whenever I saw her on the stairs or the road, she was talking to herself. My neighbours and I thought she might be insane but she wasn’t. One day I gave her a leaflet about the English course centre which I was attending at that time. I cannot describe how her face changed that day. She smiled and thanked me and I felt her words were coming deeply from her heart. From that day, we became friends though we didn’t understand each other that much, she used to say that she doesn’t know why she understood me more than anyone else in the city. Honestly, neither do I. I just used to repeat what others said to her.  I wish I could have her details to keep in touch because once we moved I don’t know whether she was still in the UK or went back to her country.

I remembered her and remember how we can understand others with a different tongue on the day of Eid.  I was sitting next to an elderly woman. Probably, she was from Pakistan. She couldn’t sit on the floor, her daughter and granddaughter brought her a chair. So I was sitting on the carpet next to her on a chair. While I was talking with a friend on my other side, she tapped on my shoulder and talked as if she knew me. I understood from her looks and the tune of her voice that she didn’t like how women are chatting and didn’t listen to the Imam’s Eid speech. This was true, I was talking too but this was because the Imam’s voice was too low, probably he didn’t notice that his speaker didn’t work well. I nodded and admitted that she was right and repeated in English what she was saying in her language. She held my hand and smiled at me which I think meant she was happy I understood her though I couldn’t speak her language.

Can this be a universal language?   I think there can be a language that we can feel even though we don’t understand.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

 

life, Writing

Simplicity

 

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I found this photo in a post on facebook about happiness and simple life. At the beginning, I didn’t know why I liked the photo more than the post. My eyes kept scrutinising everything; the old pieces of furniture,  the cracks and scratches on the wall and the floor, the little chicks picking the grains, that old broom, the clear sky, the children playing, the infant taking the first step, the mother leaning, the granny kneeling and their faces radiant with joy

Now I know why I liked it more because it reminded me of my grandfather’s house. It was a very big house in the village but it was so old too. All of us, his grandchildren, we were so many, always asked him to renew the place,  just add a modern touch to that old building, we would always suggest. But he would never do; he liked his house the way it was. Honestly, though we would prefer that our grandfather would have a modern house, we really enjoyed every moment of our holiday together there.

I’ve heard that nowadays some people prefer to spend their holidays in simple country houses. This means that simplicity is recommended as a modern recreation option. I’m not sure if my children would agree? My daughter would do, I know, especially if there are those peeping little animals around. The boys definitely, absolutely,  certainly would never; but if Wi-Fi is available, miracles could happen.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

Writing

Can we try?

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Inviting others for Iftar (breakfast); friends, relatives, or some acquaintances is a popular tradition in the month of Ramadan. Muslims believe that if one shares or offers a meal with/to others, he/she will be heavenly rewarded.  When I started writing this post, I mainly thought of the manners that both visitors and hosts are supposed to have in order to enjoy their time together. I did not think of those sophisticated rules of etiquettes; what to take as a gift, how to sit, how to eat, what to say and so on. These are great rules but I thought of something very general, sometimes that can be very hard to apply. Can we try not to poke our noses into others’ affairs?

One day, a friend visited me after I gave birth to my daughter. It was her first time to visit me and apparently she liked both the place and the house. After giving her warm congratulations; she started a series of investigations all about how many? how much? how far? All those ”hows” made her 30 minutes visit pass like 5 hours. I pretended that I didn’t know most of the answers and changed the subject to her little son. That was why she left early; ‘ You look tired,’ she said and left.

There was a story in Arabic; I have read recently. It teaches one of the visiting manners. The story was about a Muslim scholar whose best student used regularly to invite him at his house. One day, the scholar’s cousin offered to give him a ride to his student’s. Once they had arrived, the host invited that cousin to join them. They talked and ate and then it was time to leave.

On their way back, the cousin poured all his thoughts;

‘ Your student is a real gentleman; kind and generous. His house is so big, clean and tidy. His attire looks expensive and neat. And the food, it was the best I have ever tasted. His people have high skills of cooking. I’m sure he is very wealthy.’

The scholar did not comment. He was riding his cousin’s donkey and listening while watching the sun setting.

‘But they have bad manners; they let women serve food and drinks. Have you seen that woman who was holding the water jug for us to clean our hands after dinner? I don’t like that,’ his cousin added

The scholar looked at his cousin and said; ‘ I have been regularly visiting that student for ten years. I ate their food, I drank their juice and I washed my hands in their house countless times, and yet I don’t know if I was served by men or women.’

His cousin said no more.

The lesson is; they were invited to have a meal, not to interfere in other’s life.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

 

Writing

One more!

 

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Today at breakfast, my daughter said; ‘I’m full, mama.’ There wasn’t much left and I asked her to try one more to finish her plate. ‘I’m full, mama,’ she repeated.

I did not force her because she ate well and sometimes you cannot add any more. I don’t know how people in food competitions could eat that much just to win or to register a high score. It’s really awful to eat more than you can afford. It is known that animals eat when they are hungry; they eat to survive although these days I doubt it. I think they’ve changed too. Have you seen how seagulls snatch, or better to say steal, people’s sandwiches, chips and crisps? When I was young I learned that seagulls fish close to the surface. They also eat earthworms, snails and slugs. But when I moved to cities by sea or rivers, I noticed how these birds have not only adapted well to live with man but also learned his greedy eating habit.

Many years ago, one of my friends went to a social gathering with people of her country at well-known Arabic restaurant. She visited me after they had finished and described the different varieties of starters, main dishes and desserts; hummus, tabula, green salad, stuffed vine leaves, kebab, baklava, rice pudding … yummy! The list made my mouth water. But she did not look well. She tried to lay down on the sofa but she couldn’t. She told me that she ate so much and her husband gave her more. Then, she couldn’t hold it anymore; she ran to the bathroom and vomited up all the food she had eaten that night.

Wasn’t it better if she said she cannot eat anymore?

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Family

New house

How many times did we move to a new house? 🤔 don’t count, please!

This is not because of me ( sometimes not always) but our circumstances change: having children, finishing studies, my husband starting a new job in a different city, problems in old house, …

When my children watched their old photos, they would say; how many times did we move mama? That house was the best? Yes, we remembered that doll’s flat, we cannot remember that one, we were too little, … it’s fun to talk about moving but it’s really a hard time: packing, unpacking, tidying, cleaning, changing address, and endless list of chores

Our new house key lock is so hard, it takes time to open the door, sometimes it’s stuck. My son gave up, every time texted me; open the door mama, I’m very close. I would have ignored his text and let him try till he open it, but it might end up with an extra charge for door damage.

Though different but this reminds me of our first flat at university accommodation which was like a maze; every time when coming back, I tried hard to open the door, and it refused, no way it insisted, until I gave up, raising up my face, oops It wasn’t ours. When we became friends, I told my neighbour about those countless numbers when I thought hers was mine; ‘ I have never noticed that,’ she said, ‘ and ‘ this is why we become friends,’ I thought.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Family, Writing

Reward or Support

There are still about 5 months left for the month of Ramadan, but today one of the songs has refreshed some precious memories into my mind and heart.

My boys started practicing fasting early and gradually. The hardest time for them was when we have this once in a year beloved visitor during the summer, days become too long,  the dawn so early, and the dusk so late.

One year, my middle son was doing very well though he’s always impatient, would have a hundred snacks per day, full of energy and never listen if I ask him to have a nap at noon or play indoor. One day when it was too hot, he came asking for money to buy a new mini sweetie juice that one of his friends was drinking and enjoying so much and ‘ I’ll have it after our Iftar (breakfast),’ he said. After he got the juice, he disappeared in his room and when his brother and friends came inquiring if he would join them, he shouted from upstairs ‘I’m tired, won’t play.’ This was weird, wasn’t it?

I went to his room, he was lying down in his bed, when I asked him if there was anything wrong; ‘ just tired mama tired,’ I sat at the edge of his bed,  my eyes were trying to find out where was that juice. ‘ Won’t you show me this sweetie special juice?’ I asked. He quietly got up and brought it from behind the curtains.  I knew that he was not tired but sad, deeply sad.  His fingers and lips and the juice were blue.

‘Did you drink it?’

‘No, I didn’t,’ he said without looking at me

‘ But why your fingers and lips are blue?’

He couldn’t lie anymore, he went to the mirror and stuck his tongue out, it was all blue. He told me that he wanted to smell it, pulled the lid up with his teeth, he accidentally squeezed the bottle and the juice splashed into his mouth. ‘I didn’t want to drink it mama, just smell it,’ how he cried and how sad he looked really broke my heart.

‘It was a mistake, my son and I did dozen like this when I was in your age.’

‘ I’m still fasting,’

‘Yes, even if you do this when you’re a grown-up, you’re still fasting.’

‘Can I go and play now?’

‘But you’re tired.’

‘Not anymore.’

In another year, my elder son, was about 14 years old when he came back from school, telling me his news, picked up a large glass, opened the cold water tap, filled it up to the top, and drank it all in one gulp, leave not even a drop, I was looking at him, puzzled;

‘Couldn’t you fast today?’

‘Of course I’m fasting, it was too hot but I’m ok.’

‘Of-course you’re, you’ve just drank a full glass of water!’

‘Oops, I forgot!’

Was it a reward for patience? Was it a support from the Merciful? I believe it was both.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Writing

One of the best

 

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One of the best things I have started in 2017 was blogging or in other words writing.

Writing has always been my best hobby and though I didn’t keep anything of what I wrote when I was young, I remember very well that writing was not hard, boring or odd for me; simply because I love writing and I write what I love.

At university, I mainly studied English Language and literature but we also used to study Arabic literature and grammar as a main part of the BA programme. One day our Arabic literature lecturer asked us to write a free piece, anything we like, as one of our main tasks and promised that extra marks would be added to the mark we got at our Arabic exam. This wasn’t everything, he also promised that the best five or six (can’t remember the exact number) pieces would be published in his book which we would study that year (of course as appendix). So there were no worries about being marked down or getting a fail, just a page or half, but it had to be done before our next lecture; We all were so pleased and thought that was a brilliant idea, wasn’t it?

I did not care that mine would be one of those chosen pieces; honestly I believed that our lecturer would never read all of our writings; I just wondered what to write but finally I decided to write about my father.

At the beginning of that year, my father passed away, and so I wrote about death, the final fate that we cannot change or escape. I wondered if one has a choice either to die before or after his/her beloved ones, what he/she would choose. I thought of my father and believed that he would have willingly chosen that same time because he loved us.

Before the following lecture, and as promised, the book was available and five pieces were added at the end; mine was one of them. I was totally surprised, delighted and nervous, too nervous indeed; I was surprised because I didn’t make any great effort in that piece, and delighted because my writing was one of the best, and nervous because I became popular, everybody started asking about me, including our lecturer who hadn’t known any of our names before, and I wished I could hide under the desk for the rest of that day.

I have no idea how far my writing will go, but I believe it’s a wonderful gift.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Writing

2017

Have you achieved your goals for 2017?

One of the many things I have planned to achieve in 2017 was to PASS my driving practical test (I think I have taken more lessons than anyone else) My husband used to say that the money I spent on driving lessons would have been enough to get me a brand new modern car. This is exaggeration! 🙂

The good news is I’ve learned everything and did drive at all times, different roads and cities and in all weather conditions without causing any damage. 😀😀

The bad news is that I still couldn’t pass my practical test. 😭😭

I learned with different instructors and this was really a great advantage and fun too.

My first instructor was so funny, she told me about her life and we kept laughing and talking most of the time, she said it was all about nerves and believed I can pass my test but I didn’t pass with her.

Then we moved and my new instructor was different, highly qualified, so serious and rude, it was the first time i saw an instructor yelled at people and other drivers on the road. She believed she was horrible and when I told her i think she wasn’t, she was really touched and said I ‘m the first one ever to say so. I learned a lot from her but I was always under pressure, supposed to make no mistakes and believed i could never pass my test, I did not continue with her.

Then after a while, I started again, this time my instructor was so old and apparently didn’t feel well. She was too calm, smiling all the time and never mind my mistakes, everybody does mistakes she said. But i was uncomfortable, and felt under pressure again but this time because of thinking what if anything happened to this poor old woman, she believed i could pass my test but i thought it wouldn’t be with her, and so i stopped

There are two more 😀

We moved again and i started taking lessons again but this time i was no longer learning but practicing and remembering things. My instructor this time barely said anything, just giving directions, nodding, that’s fine, yes yes, no problem, this will do. I believe if I hadn’t learned before, I would have never learned driving with her, and I didn’t pass my test with her either. And I decided to stop taking any lessons for months.

My last instructor was a young lady, quite and calm. I love practicing with her, at my first lesson, she wondered why I  didn’t pass so far, so I booked my test but suddenly because of certain health problems she stopped giving any lessons and I cancelled my test.

Then I’ve become busy with other things and forgot about driving but seeing that 2017 is almost over, I remembered my driving journey again. And I remembered that story that my son told me when I started learning long time ago :‘ mama, …..’s dad failed 7 times before passing on his 8th go but he didn’t like driving.’ ‘ What a wonderful thing to say,’ I told him, mine have not been 8 yet and hopefully they won’t be. 🙏🏻

When looking back on all those memories, I believe that I did my best and learned better than all my friends who passed their test. Actually, it doesn’t bother me anymore, everything comes in time and may be better things are coming in 2018.

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla

Islam, Muslim celebrations, Writing

His Birth

 

Soon Muslims will celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. He was born on the 12th of Rabie al-Awal (third month of the Islamic calendar). To be honest this is more cultural than religious event, as in all my studies, I have never heard that Prophet Muhammad, his friends or followers had celebrated his birthday simply because Prophet Muhammad will always be in our hearts. I think may be these celebrations started in the Fatimid period  but I am not sure.

I like some of the poems and songs that have been written and repeated on this day; I feel it’s just different in meaning, tone and performance. This occasion always takes me back to childhood years when I was in primary school. Every year, before the Prophet’s birthday, we usually have lots of preparations and rehearsals to offer a good musical performance at our school for parents and visitors. I don’t remember anything more than the poem we were learning by heart as well as our kind teacher that had made a great effort to help us do our best on that day. She was a Christian but she loved singing that poem with us. She was very enthusiastic and sang with all her heart. She was always smiling, a dove flying with her accordion and leaning towards those shy little ones. I still remember those precious tears in her eyes though at that young age I did not understand why?

Was not that great?

By the way the poem was a praise song written for Prophet Muhammad ages ago. I will try to translate the simple lines we used to sing at that celebration:

All the hearts have always longed for the remembrance of the Beloved

I have my evidence and witness

When you say the name of Muhammad,

The tears flow freely from the eyes of those loving The Beloved.

I remember how we, as little boys and girls, used to wear long white shirts; the girls with white head scarf and the boys with white skull caps, standing next to each other facing the audience, and were always supported by our wonderful teacher.

May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you Prophet Muhammad and upon all God’s prophets and messengers!

This one is one of my favorite, hope you like it

Alsamlamo Alyka

Maher Zein

 

Wishing you all the best,

Nahla