FRI 09/12/22: The Perceived ‘Other’ is Not Actually ‘Exotic’. Plus: Chai Lattes.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

As-Salaamu ʿalaikum everyone,

[ʿ is a ‘diacritic marker’ that represents an ﻉ.]

It is Friday, a cold day here in Cambridge, England. But: there are few things nicer than chai, with those characteristic kicks of spice, and Suḥbah (good companionship), and warm times spent in warm lighting and with good friends, when we find ourselves enveloped in the blankets of these frostier, wintrier, days. Months.

Years. In 10 days, In Shaa Allah, I’m going to be 22 years old. 22 years, alive, on the face of this Earth. An overall interesting, sometimes rocky, sometimes really great, can’t complain, experience.


How Lovingkind God is.

In other words: how much Raḥmah Allah shows us.

It’s incredible, Subhaan Allah. How could I deserve all this?!

  • This time in my life. Feels like the shimmering beginnings of a time when I am going to meet myself again, In Shaa Allah. ‘For the first time’.

A very special time, AlHamduliLlah.

So I want to improve on and develop a chai latte recipe that I can constantly refer to. Chai lattes are my ‘comfort drink’ of the year, for this Winter, I think.

Costa’s [a café chain here in the UK] chai lattes are quite nice. Warming, frothy, a kick of spice.

Caffé Nero’s chai lattes are also trés good. They come in nice seasonal paper cups these days, too. Dark blue, and decorated.

The word ‘exotic’ is interesting to consider. Attractive and alluring, mysterious. Foreign’, but… foreign to you. One woman’s understanding of what’s ‘exotic’ will probably be naturally quite different from what another’s understanding of that concept is.

Bananas had been an ‘exotic’ fruit, to Brits, before. What’s familiar, and commonplace: is ‘normal’. What’s different, and ‘far away’: can be perceived as being ‘exotic’.

Is this a form of… fundamentally inaccurate idealisation?

Is idealisation, by nature, a form of devaluing something, or aspects of a particular kind of human experience, or someone?

Being a brown person here in England: some people may (‘exoticise‘) you. Being a brown person in Bangladesh, for example: ‘normal’. But, your ‘Britishness’ (in terms of mannerisms and so on) is then what ‘sticks out’, what people notice, in that sense.

  • I’d like to revisit Sylhet, in Bangladesh, soon, In Shaa Allah. This is where my grandad, and some extended family members of mine, live. My grandad: keeps a picture of him and me in his room. It’s always there.

Is there anything that I, for one, consider to be ‘exotic’? Not really, I don’t think. Because even if certain minor things seem ‘different’, they also seem to me to be inherently recognisable. And things that are, on mere surface levels, ‘very different’ from what I know, and/or recognise: I probably don’t see as being ‘exotic’, per se. At least, not anymore, at this age…

Interesting, maybe. Learn-able from, and/or things that I don’t, and will not, aspire towards.

What a world. Subhaan Allah.

Is ‘peri peri’ an ‘exotic spice’?

Probably: not anymore. Now: the availability of this spice is widespread. It’s known, it’s readily, fairly cheaply, available. Whether at Nando’s in London [the Cambridge Nando’s isn’t Halāl]. Or at The Ladz here in Cambridge.

Or even at our local Sainsbury’s. Not quite ‘exotic’.

The other day: my housemate Sasha, and my best friend, and I, had a little movie night. Scheduled. ‘Quality time’ is a primary love language for the two of them. And ‘food’ is one of mine. [Jk, I was really looking forward to this. Sitting and watching food/eating by yourself… Definitely not as good.]

We’d watched two episodes of ‘Wednesday‘ together.

It is really nice to have certain things to look forward to, in different weeks.

Feat.: not-‘exotic’ mango-flavoured chicken. And not-‘exotic’ peri peri chips. And non-‘exotic’ Jamaican-style BBQ sauce.

But I think we yearn for familiarity. And, also, for the conceptually ‘exotic’. The ‘out of the blue’, the novel and exciting. Thankfully: the world is wide, AlHamduliLlah. And: we are all human!

Some poetry from Thursday Hamdiyyah [when we sit together and sing, as CMC staff and students. Women in one part, men in another,] that I quite love:

[I was kicked out of choir in primary school. Not because I couldn’t sing, but because I was talking/messing around a bit. Or maybe slightly more than ‘a bit’. At secondary school, I joined the choir momentarily, because I wanted to go on a France trip with them. I’d written a letter to the head of Music. It worked!]

The Triumph of Truth:

Islam is submission to God alone. Islam is: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Wherever we find it, and in its diverse expressions: the whole Earth is a masjid.

*And, perhaps, if we ever make it to Mars: then Mars, too.

A club that I did not get kicked out of, at primary school had been:

Journalism Club. We’d work together, in that club, to produce a newspaper for the school. With help from the Deputy Head, Karen, who is still there. And from Fabi, a girl called Lily’s mum.

While lots and lots of things in our lives, and in this world, may change and change. Some things stay the same. I quite like writing for things. At primary school, at secondary school, at sixth form, and now. At a Committees meeting we had, the idea for having a CMC newsletter was put forth, and I said I wanted to take on the role. It’s been 4 weeks, thus far, of the CMC ‘Weekly Bulletin’.

Here was the (second) one:

And here was today’s one: the fourth one…

[Today is the end of term for us, officially. Got some warm pie, lovingly made by my uncle and aunt, to eat. Got some good rest to catch up on, to have]

Thank you to Microsoft Word for helping me to snazz it up a little.

My housemate just asked me what I think ‘chicken language’ would be called, if it had a name. I said: Bawk-istani. She said: Bawk-ese. Then she’d imagined: what if a chicken were to dwell upon another group of chickens’ land, and then be shouted at, for not speaking their language. [Lol!]

  • This week I made a new friend here in Cambridge, called Elma. Her name means ‘apple’ in Turkish, and she’s ethnically Moroccan, and lives in France. Speaks French, Arabic, and English.
  • She’s staying here in Cambridge as an au pair for two children whose parents are both doctors. ‘Coincidentally’, [‘coincidences‘ = Signs of God,] one of these children is in my class at the masjid, where I teach. I prayed, that morning, for a sign from Allah, that He Loves me. I watched the leaves gracefully, beautifully, fall, in the corner of my eye, as I spoke to Elma, at the bus stop, where we’d met. The previous bus had left right when I’d gotten there. But then Elma had come to the bus stop, and she asked for some help with Google Maps, figuring out if she’d be taking the right bus. We’d spoken at the bus stop and on the bus; we became friends, AlHamduliLlah.

That morning, hours after my prayer, I’d received a really nice, unexpected, good morning message from someone. It was really warming, AlHamduliLlah.

  • Today I found out that one of my classmates, who is ethnically Palestinian, and whose family lives in Saudi, since they were made to emigrate… He’s going back to Saudi for the Winter break. Train from Cambridge to London, another train from London to Paris. Then some route that goes to Bulgaria somewhere, and eventually to Cyprus. Jordan, and then Saudi. Why? Because: at least two of the people at CMC… are against using planes. Because of carbon emissions. To make reference to a Qur’anic directive, we, as servants to our Creator, the Lovingkind, are meant to ‘tread gently/lightly upon this Earth’. [See Qur’an, (25:63)].

Don’t quite know how to end this one. But:

Peace out! Salaam!

*Sasha said this way of ending my article is “cute“. Thank u Sashew.

This is from I was tired this morning, and also went to Costa and got… a chai latte. Good times, AlHamduliLlah. All Praise is for God.

It is me

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