Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Day 5 (Cont'd): The Heat

The day here is so long it almost feels like two days. Physically, we're all exhausted. The dorm where we’re staying in is in one direction, Habib Umar's house in another, and Dar al-Zahra in a third; every couple of hours we have to move around (though to be fair sometimes there is a bus to take us when it's too hot).

We're sleep deprived; we aren't used to sitting on the floor for so long; we're climbing the stairs in our dorm; we're walking around from Dar al-Zahra to our dorm to Habib Umar's house all day on rock-strewn, uneven, unpaved, uphill roads in the blistering heat dressed in black from head to toe and wearing niqab. I feel like I'm an old woman or that I've just come out of an intense umra (lesser pilgrimage), and never have my muscles rebelled so much, not even in the most intense workout at the gym. Even my arms hurt, thought I haven't been doing anything more strenuous with them than carrying my books. Probably sympathy pain :)

It's also almost unbearably hot. I live in Egypt so I can't imagine what the westerners are feeling like. Even your eyelashes sweat here, which means you're constantly dehydrated; I've been drinking 3-4 liters of water a day. The heat is the hardest aspect for me, even more than little sleep, since it makes me irritable and cranky. Now I wish I'd gotten one of those little fans that come free with Energizer batteries which I decided not to get so I didn't look 'stupid.'

But whenever I think I'm going to literally expire from the heat, I remember this quote of Habib Ali, which I read in this brilliant testimonial about the Dowra:

"This heat is like a furnace. It will extract the imperfections of your soul, melt them away and leave you with a pure heart."
Just thinking about it immediately makes me feel better. And on the plus side, I don't think I will underestimate my air conditioner ever again. Or sofas and cushions. Or cold water! (The water here for washing and ablution is always hot; I assume because the pipes and water tanks are outdoor. If you want cold water you have to fill up buckets with water and leave them overnight to cool).

But it's good to endure a little difficulty—as I said before, everything we ever want is at our fingertips so how can we appreciate something if we never miss it?

Tomorrow insh'Allah we get to go swimming! And attend the mawlid, which is a weekly celebration of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Really excited about both :)

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