Tag Archive | romance

The First Visit to My Egyptian Oasis

Hi everyone! I’ve found some free time for blogging about my crazy life again so I’m rebooting Aisha’s Oasis by reposting JOYRIDE TO EGYPT Episode 1: My First Cup of Tea in the Oasis

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My last glimpse of reality was three days prior, July 27, 1999, at 3 a.m.

I had been soaking in my hot tub on the patio of my condo, trying to soothe my jumpy nerves.

Now I sat reflecting on that lovely moment of 3 a.m. bliss. It was summer, the night was a cozy dark blanket between me and the rest of the world. My kids were asleep, our bags were packed and stuffed in the car. We were ready for our 5 a.m. exodus from reality.

My children thought we were going to see the pyramids.

I was soaking in my hot tub as a kind of ritual cleansing. I wanted to wash my old life off and start my new life fresh and clean. My whole family thought I was crazy. One of my brothers had tried had to dissuade me, even threatening to tear up my travel documents to “protect” me and my kids. My mom was so upset that at the last minute she refused to let me park my car at her house and would not give us a ride to Newark International Airport as we had earlier planned. I was already a nervous wreck, and this new thought of paying for half a month of parking at an airport added another heavy burden in my baggage.

I leaned back in the hot water, eyes closed, and played “on the one hand” and “on the other hand” one more time. The result was always the same, always exciting to the point of shivering, even in a bubbling hot tub. Maybe I was crazy, but I knew I was going to do it.

I was going to Egypt to marry a man I met on the internet.

I had never laid eyes on him, and it was all arranged. Within 24 hours of our first meeting, I would be his wife. Signed, sealed and delivered.

I was flushing the past 20 years of awful marriage to a mean drunk, a miserable divorce and a year of therapy while conquering a condo. I was ready for something exciting. Damn the torpedos – Full Speed Ahead!

On the one hand, some people get married after a night on the town. I, on the other hand, had lots of photos and phone conversations, and a 3-inch binder stuffed with email printouts. What more does a woman need after 50 days on the internet?

Now, here I was, sitting in a dark room somewhere in the middle of the Nile Delta. The room was long and narrow, with only the light of day illuminating the entrance. An old wooden bench supported me as I sat, peering into the dark as my two young children explored the depths of the room. Peeking through the open door at the far end, they cried delightedly upon discovering another room with chickens running around inside. I went to look. Light streamed in haphazardly from a thick grapevine arbor above.

Chickens running around everywhere! Source: yourchickens.co.uk

The chickens were running around everywhere, something like this. Source: yourchickens.co.uk

The floor was dirt, the walls were mud brick. My children had huge smiles on their faces, chasing the multi-colored chickens between little woven wooden crates and other miscellaneous debris. They laughed and the chickens cackled. I rolled my eyes, grinned, and returned to my perch in the cool darkened room.

A man suddenly entered from outside and I pretended not to notice. I had glanced that way when the light had been blocked but turned away nonchalantly. Reviewing the photo in my mind, I thought he looked similar to my new husband, but I knew right away it wasn’t him.

Happily, my husband prefers western style business suits. In my new apartment in the city, I found his closet full of wonderful suits, shirts, and ties. This man, however, was wearing a long, white nightgown.

My kids were just past the nursery rhyme stage and “Wee Willy Winkie” ran through my head. I bit my lip to keep from laughing out loud.

His back to me the whole time, the man silently struck a match, lit a fire on a strange small box-shaped metal grill, and adjusted a valve on a small torpedo-shaped metal cylinder. The flame was extremely high and hissing loudly. I was peeking from the corner of my eye and growing alarmed.

From a dusty small cabinet on the wall, he took down a small orange box, a dusty glass cup and an old, dented brass vase with a long metal handle. Still without a word, he stepped outside and returned momentarily with the cup sparkling clean and the small brass vase full of water. I realized then that the vase was, in fact, a kind of teapot. He carefully measured black powder from the orange box into the brass teapot. It hissed and sizzled when he immersed it into the flames, setting it on the grill. Then he left the room without a word or a glance.

Making Tea in Egypt. Source: Daily News Egypt on YouTube

Making Tea in Egypt. Source: Daily News Egypt on YouTube

My husband had gone off earlier to talk with construction workers. He was preparing to remodel the 2nd floor, above me, to be our new home in the country. When he had left me and the kids in this old, darkened, narrow room I had felt sure no one had lived there for ages. It occurred to me now that I must be wrong. What were the chickens doing back there, after all? And the tea in the cabinet? I peered again into the dark, trying to understand my surroundings, ignoring the man when I heard him return again.

The scent of freshly picked mint filled the room, and I heard the hissing stop. The tinkling of a spoon in the glass cup caught my ear and I turned to see the man stirring sugar into the cup. He had poured hot tea over the mint and it swirled in the wake of the spoon.

He handed me the cup without looking me in the eye, and silently left the room.

I sat alone again in the dark, cupping my tea while sitting on an old wooden bench. My back against an ancient dusty wall. Pink sweater, white skirt, children playing with chickens. I sipped my tea and wondered how much further from recognizable reality this journey would take me.

Aisha's Future Oasis in Egypt - hit Refresh to display this!

My future oasis in Egypt – our 2nd floor under construction.

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Ep. 19, Joyride to Egypt: Did I Sleep?

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July Dawned Softly in the Eastern Sky

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“Out, Out, Out, Out, OUT!!!!” I screamed at that damn monkey in my hot tub. In the darkness of my little patio I watched his eyes grow wide with surprise, and I wondered suddenly if any of my neighbors had heard me yelling. A quiet, gated condominium community nestled in a tiny scrap of forested wetlands fortunately preserved by eco-visionary legislature, my neighbors and I were grateful beneficiaries of the 1990’s federal wetland protection acts.

Monkeys are probably covered in one of those eco-protection laws governing what goes on in my neighborhood. But this monkey was clearly in the cross-hairs of Scheri’s smoking wand of rose-scented incense, glowing softly from its stand in the flower planter beside the hot tub.
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Ep. 18, Joyride to Egypt: The Transient Life of a Leaf

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The Transient Life of a Leaf, by Aisha Abdelhamid

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The coast was clear as my children and I entered the condo at the end of the day. I peeked left and right, but there was no sign of that damn genie anywhere in sight. Then I slapped my forehead and laughed out loud, tickled by the memory of Scheherezade transforming him into a monkey.

My daughter asked, “What’s so funny, Momma?”

On the one hand, my ten year old daughter was the most incredibly truthful child I have ever encountered in my life, and was definitely not ready for my current version of reality. On the other hand, my seven year old son was an incredibly “creative conversationalist.” His imaginative reports from the classroom, playground, and neighborhood friend’s house were always laced with magic mushroom sauce, driving his sister crazy as she argued with him about the truth.

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Ep. 17, Joyride To Egypt: French Chocolate English

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Dancing the night away with Scheri and our new pet monkey seemed like the best way to avoid thinking about the next hurdle in my path to true love. The issue of bringing my children to Egypt was looming larger on the horizon. Clearly, Mr. Answer to my Prayers wasn’t thrilled to include them on the guest list, although he was far too diplomatic to come right out and say it.

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Ep. 16, Joyride To Egypt: Like A Runaway Train

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Runaway Train by dakann.deviantart (digitally altered - click for original)

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(Source: Getty Images)

“engine, engine, number 9, rolling down Chicago line, how many stations till he stops? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…”
I awoke with this childhood refrain playing in my brain. It was a jumprope rhyme, a favorite of mine when my girlfriends and I were playing jumprope in the schoolyard. One girl on each end of the rope, one girl in the middle between them, jumping the rope as they cycled it in a large arc over her head, coming down and around again, faster and faster as they counted the number of times the girl in the middle successfully jumped the rope passing beneath her feet on its way up and around again in another revolution. The winner was the girl who could jump to the highest number before stopping or falling flat on her face.

Engine number 9 was out of control, barrelling down the track with no intention whatsoever of stopping. If it was a train wreck coming, so be it, I was utterly unable to abandon the Captain of my heart. I awoke bright and early, resolved to jump that rope as fast as it lands in front of my feet, and if I fall, well, it couldn’t be much worse than sprawling on the asphalt of the playground back in gradeschool, could it? I could still be the winner, couldn’t I?!!

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Ep.15, Joyride To Egypt: A Love Letter To Die For

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I heard a familiar soft jingling of coins in the distance behind me as I was just sitting down to my computer. I turned to look and, appearing in a whirlwind of fireworks and mist in the hallway entrance of my condo, that damn Genie appeared with Scheherazade at his side. He stepped lightly to take up his guardpost at the front door. Scheherazade was tiptoeing away from him, unaware that I was watching her as she blew him a kiss and winked, waving goodbye and giggling as she saluted him.

Unable to contain my aggravation, I jumped up from my desk and practically ran across my living room to catch her before she vanished. “Scheherazade!” I snapped angrily, “You have been gone for two days! You said you were only going out for the night! Where in the world have you been?” But giving her no opportunity to answer, I whirled away from her, giving her my back and turning my attention to that damn Genie. He stared at the ground, a totally false expression of contrition on his round, pudgy face. I knew it was false because I saw the corner of his mouth quivering as he tried mightily to refrain from laughing at me. “Disrespectful ingrate!” I cried at him, and yanked hard on his dangling black goatee to put an end to his mischievous expression. “Two days ago you promised to bring her back before dawn!” Rubbing his chin to soothe the smarting pain I had inflicted on him, he surrendered to his sense of humor and, black eyes twinkling, that damn Genie giggled and bowed deeply, saluting me with greatly exaggerated respect. “My Princess, we are early! It’s not yet dawn, oh Queen of the Western Casbah!”

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Ep. 14, Joyride To Egypt: Our Hearts Are Tied

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Staring at the strange display appearing magically on the screen of my cellphone, I started pressing buttons randomly with both thumbs, holding it as I had earlier seen that damn Genie doing. Colorful fireworks were still spraying out the end of the antenna like a rainbow sparkler, dazzling my vision and making it difficult to see the ship in the display screen. Entranced and enchanted, I marveled as the ship came clearly into view, as though by focusing my eyes clearly on the ship I zoomed in on the pilot’s window. Or maybe I hit the right button at the right moment. There at the helm stood the captain of the ship in a navy blue suit!

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Ep. 13, Joyride To Egypt: Difficult Answers

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(Quote added) Source: https://www.bestofyoutoday.com/

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Friday morning, I rose with the bright and early dawn of a hot summer day in Virginia. I rose with a new conviction. No longer satisfied to confide only in a figment of my imagination regarding the authenticity of the man in my email inbox, I sidestepped Scheri on the way to my computer.

“And a pretty good morning to you, too,” Scheherezade snapped in her snarkiest tone. She followed me, knowing exactly where I was going. I rushed to my chair, hurrying to sit down before she could pull it out from under me. She wasn’t fast enough and we giggled together as she tried to pull me out of my chair, but I held on strongly to my seat. Needing to get my email, I turned serious. “Scheri, sit down! I’m trying to be serious today!” I flapped her hands away from my chair and pushed the power button on my computer. “Serious, huh? I’ll show you serious!” Scheherezade stuck her tongue out at me and vanished into a rose scented mist before the sound of her words faded away. Tickled, I laughed out loud, “BUH-bye!” I called after her, pursing my lips and making the sound of a noisy long drawn out kiss to follow her. I heard her giggle in the invisible distance, and she shimmied to make her coin belt tinkle.

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