Saturday, May 21, 2011

Party time at the Lebanese Islamic Center

I was invited by my friend Sarah to go with her to a ladies party at the Center which is on Upper Gage. The 23 Upper Gage bus took us right there.  Sarah met me at the McNab terminal though as it is a difficult place to find, as it has no name on the outside of the building and the number is either very small or in a place where it is not easily seen.  After a long bus ride, almost to Stonechurch Road, we finally got there. 

As we entered, we took our shoes off and left them on the shelves and walked into the prayer hall.  For this event, it was held in the men's prayer hall.  Nice carpet on the floor, lovely wall hangings of Qur'anic verses, and ample space for a party.  This party was for the women of the mosque and only boys of age 5 and under could attend.  All ages were represented among the women.  I think I was the eldest there.  Mostly young children, young women and middle aged women.

We were given a warm welcome as we entered and took seats.

Most of the ladies came conservatively dressed - a few did not.  Once in the hall, hijabs came off, beautiful dresses emerged from under their abayas (a form of overcoat) and jewellery sparkled as the women chatted gaily with each other.  This event is highly anticipated as it only happens once a year at this particular Islamic Center. 

The little children scampered around, tossing balloons, lifting each other up to see who is stronger, and, in general, just being themselves - noisy and rambunctious!  I just loved to see them.  I even had a little girl come and sit next to me for a little while and we had a delightful conversation in English.  She was almost five I think she said.  Cute as a button and chatty.  She came back twice to talk to me so she must have felt comfortable doing so.

There were some speeches about Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Mohammed, pbuh, and there were quizes for the children on various figures mentioned in the Holy Qur'an.  It was so wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the children as their hands shot up to be chosen to give the answer.  Those with the correct answer got a little prize.

Also for the children, they had a puppet show put on by two of the ladies.  It was adoreable.  All in Arabic, of course.  The puppets were dressed Islamically as were the dolls around the room.  It seemed to me that the children really enjoyed the show.  I did myself although I could not understand the words spoken.

Games were played, tug of war, sack hopping, apple bobbing, and several others strictly for children.  For the adults, there was the egg game where you had to balance the egg on a spoon and run back and forth, a sack race, and also a tug of war.  It reminded me of long ago Sunday School picnics. Good clean fun was had by all.

Several children gave a recitation in front of the assembled audience and they did very well.  One little girl, who was dressed from head to toe in a golden fabric gave a little speech.  She was celebrating the fact that she was now wearing hijab.  She looked about 9 or 10 years of age and she looked absolutely smashing in her outfit.  The organizers mentioned that if any families wanted to celebrate the putting on of hijab, they could use the hall for a party for free.

Arabic music was put on and the women danced together - sometimes in a circle, sometimes in a line.  There was a definite step to it.  I really enjoyed this although I could only watch.  Somehow a cane gets in the way of dancing!

This happened several times during the evening.  I wish there had been a little more dancing but we left at 9 p.m. as we had to take the bus home.

People were also invited to come up and place their name on a paper and the dollar amount they wanted to pay for an item. At the end of the evening, they would draw names out and this person would be able to take home the item at the price they wanted to pay for it. They had some lovely things to sell, such as perfume, a wonderful vase and other good items.  I did not quite understand what was going on as it was all in Arabic so I missed on that one.

Food was served at the end of the event.  Not too spicy, fortunately for me, and also some delicious deserts as well.  Soft drinks were available.  All this was complimentary.

They took some pictures with cameras but not of the general crowd, as the women were not covered.  I had brought my camera, but decided not to use it as they did not know me.  They also had a video machine going, again centered on the main stage where the organizers ran things.  They stayed conservatively dressed all through the event.

I had the pleasure of meeting two of the doctor's daughters, one of them is studying chemical engineering.  Good for her!  She was a very sweet girl and we hit it off well.

All in all, a very nice evening and I hope that, God Willing, I can go again next year. 

We took a taxi to near Sarah's place where she could walk home and I could take the No. 25 bus downtown.  It worked out well.

After we parted and the bus pulled into Limeridge Mall, I saw something so disgusting that it made me angry.

There was an Ethopian woman who pushed her way to the front of the long line.  She had a baby carriage.  Following her were three other women of the same culture all with baby carriages.  The driver politely told them that he could only take two carriages but instead of following the rules, they pushed their way into the bus through the front door.  Thus four baby carriages (one was a double carriage) were in the space reserved for people with disabilities.  Another couple came on with their baby carriage but they were very civilized.  They may possibly have been from South or Central America. 

The Ethopian woman was mouthy and obnoxious to the driver and he kept telling her not to touch him or he would call the police. 

I have to say that my sympaties were with the driver here.  To top it all, two of those women tried to cheat, they had expired transfers.  One of the women paid again but the more aggressive one did not.

I don't know how the bus driver kept his cool.  I, and everybody on that bus, wanted to kick those silly women off.  What kind of an example are they giving their children by cheating and being so aggressive?

Very objectionable behaviour, in my opinion.  Grrr.......

I have a good friend who is from Ethopia and her behaviour is not like those women at all.  For shame on them.

Thanks for reading my blog, am off to a funeral now so have to go.


steph said...

I have noticed, on many occasions, that there are women of middle eastern and northern african cultures and countries who travel in pairs or groups who recognize our polite Canadians as 'pushovers', unwilling to risk being seen as politically incorrect or racially discriminatory, and they push their way loudly and rudely through checkout lines and onto buses against the common rules, knowingly I think, and I am frustrated with the lot of them.

I love my country and I would expect others to - at the very least - respect and accept our polite customs that allow us all to live in relative harmony, that harmony unknown to their countries of origin that is the cause of their departures!

If you do what you always did you'll always get what you always got. That is a truism. A fact of existence. If they want to be bullies they will end up with a culture that bullies them back. Simply put.

If I was the bus driver I would have stood up and physically barred the entry of the excess baby carriage. If there was a woman who's payment was not accepted I would have stopped the bus at the next stop and refused to continue until she left the bus. That is what they do with other Canadian citizens!

Some things like this frustrate me as much as you, Wilma.


annaken said...

Thank you Stephanie, I appreciate you leaving a comment. I always like to get comments on what I write.

My feeling was expressed on the rude and bad behaviour of those women. I would have felt that way no matter who had done it.

I don't know what the feelings of those women were when they pushed their way on with all those carriages but I saw the disrespect for the rules which I did not appreciate.

It also was a very dangerous situation with so many baby carriages on board and people standing as coming down the mountain can be quite a challenge. An accident would have resulted in several injuries if not death, even perhaps for those dear little babies.

Thanks again for leaving your comments, I appreciate it. Have a good day!