Sunday, 3 August 2008

Day 36 (Cont'd): Party

Well, I really don't know what to say. Other than the Danish/ Swedish/ Belgium group just swept and wiped the floor with us.

It's so hard to think of a way to convey the experience. If I write it like it was: "we sang nasheeds and ate," it sounds so mundane and the kind of thing that'll make people say: "ohhhhhh, okayyyyy then, rock on," before looking away and rolling their eyes at how boring that sounds.

But it was so so much fun. I know it seems silly to say it was a 'fulfilling' night, but that's what it was.

So we go to the Danish/Swedish/Belgium house, expecting that nothing they could do could top our night and the program that we had prepared for them when they came to our house. But their hospitality put ours to shame.

So we sit and in front of every group is a plate of fruit, a plate of chips, and a plate of cookies. Honestly, I thought that was the dinner, especially since one of them had told my roommate that they just had "snacks and tea."

And then the nasheed band walks in. Yes, they hired the Tarimi nasheed band to entertain us. I don't know how it happened, but somehow almost everyone got up to dance, and it was one of the strangest things ever. You had some dancing Tarimi style (kind of resembles the two step), some African style, some Kuwaiti style, and (most memorably) Eva's traditional Bulgarian dance.
As for food, what can I say? It's enough that they somehow managed to get us burgers and chips in Tarim. Yes, I know we got them pizza, but somehow burgers and chips in Tarim seems decadent. And that's not all—they went around with cookies, cakes, Twix cake (!), and actual chocolate bars. Not to mention constantly coming around with cold water and soft drinks. And tea in small Tarimi cups (where did they get them from?!) And in normal cups. And they had incense Tarimi style.

Truly, they were incredible hosts, miles better than us. And they were only about half a dozen people, while we were almost two dozen. They never sat down, and kept coming around with new treats. I honestly felt like I was at a wedding, and that of people I knew and loved.

Nasheeds are just as powerful as music, and even more so because of the passion of the singers, which just emanates from their voices. It spurs you on, makes you clap harder and join in. Nasheeds give the gathering a sense of harmony and purpose—we're having fun and yet don't feel like we're wasting time. I know I'm not explaining it properly, but I guess you had to be there.

So we walked home at around midnight trying to console ourselves by saying that we only had five hours to prepare for their party while they had days to prepare for theirs, and that they were all 'Arabs' so had the hospitality gene in them. Never mind that most of them were born in their respective countries even if their parents were originally Arab. (And that excuse doesn't work with me because I am 'Arab' (actually African, but whatever)).

Its 2:50 am now, and there's tahajjud in 10 mins. I was thinking of skipping it then remembered what I heard this week: The true student of knowledge is as prepared on the last day of classes as he was on the first. Guess I'm pulling an all-nighter.

Today's Quote: No one comes to ma'edat al-rahman [charity tables that are set out in Ramdan at iftar time for anyone to come eat] because they want to—they come because Allah wants them to come. Likewise, we have been gathered here in Tarim together because Allah wants us to come. Um Suffian, the Danish/ Swedish/ Belgium group leader

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