September 19

Mom, Are You A Vegetarian?

Adam: Mama, are you a Vegetarian?
Me: No habibi. You know I eat meat… sometimes.
Adam: I also know you’d pick Falafel over Shawarma any time. You also prefer veggie burgers not chicken/beef burgers… oh, and you always eat spicy VEGGIE Sushi.
Me: I like them more, that’s all.
Adam: You also eat veggie poutine Mama, and order that veggie Thai something (referring to Pad Thai), and always get excited about meatless pasta dishes.
Me: Hmm, that’s true actually.
Adam: The other day you ate a veggie crêpe instead of fish sandwiches like me and Baba.
Me: Yep.
Adam: You make us these weird vegetable & hummus sandwiches.
Me: But you like them right?
Adam: Not as much as meat sandwiches though. Oh, and you also pick the meat out of the stew from your dishes and eat the rice with just the vegetables.
Me: (And I thought no one actually noticed :D)
Adam: You watch lots of shows & documentaries about vegetarian food.
Me: I’m just curious and try to get inspired to make more yummy veggie meals.
Adam: So you ARE a Vegetarian?
Me: No I’m not.
Adam: Ok, ok. I think you are, but anyways… Can we order Pizza?
Me: Sure, what would you like?
Adam: Pepperoni.
Me: Ordering on the phone “We’d like to order one Pepperoni & one small cheese Pizza please”
Adam: Pfft…
September 7

Back to School Ecstasy


Today was the first day of school in my area, and boy don’t we just love these back-to-school days with all the hustle and bustle they bring us!
Traffic jams, crowded sidewalks, delightful school busses, colorful bikes (and their tiny bells), some uniforms here, some fashion statements there, kids laughing, others crying, smiley faces, teary eyes… a very interesting mixture of emotions this day, not only on children’s faces, but also on those of parents.

Like children, you’d see parents who are having a hard time letting go of their little ones _or not so little ones_ on the first day of school. Parents who are already exhausted from a long summer vacation and wish they could still get a couple more weeks to relax and do all the things they wanted to do with their kids but couldn’t for one reason or the other.
Parents who didn’t get enough of their kids, who miss them even before they went to school, who feel guilty for waking them up from their deep sleep and dragging them to a place away from home.

And the other parents, the joyous and excited parents. Parents who were waiting for this day since June, parents, who, as much as they love their kids, have just had it with vacation and all its stress and drama. Parents who need school more than anything, who thank God for the teaching profession… parents who can’t hide their happy smiles and cheerful energy, because, today is, all about them.
Today they get to forget about everything, for a few hours, and focus on themselves. Today they get to sip coffee in a café, the grown-up style: scream-free, whining-free, and mess-free.
They could go for a walk WHENEVER they want to, or maybe run their butts off like there’s no tomorrow. They could relax and watch a grownup movie without worrying about language, violence or anything else. Today they could sleep in, for as long as they want, and everything can just wait. They can go shopping in peace, they can grab a bite like an adult, they can listen to whatever they want, they can surf the internet for hours and hours, they can finally go to work not worrying where their kids will be and how they’ll spend their time.
It doesn’t matter whether the parent is working or not, the back- to- school day is very special to every parent, they feel like someone has taken a really huge burden off their shoulders, they feel, how do I put it? …light and free.

Every year, I make sure to drop off my son to school the first day, although he takes the bus to school, just like my parents used to do every single year with all five of us, and there are many parents who do the same with their kids every year.
Today though, I couldn’t but notice that unlike other years, the happy parents were an overwhelming number, and to be honest, I enjoyed watching every single one of them. They were everywhere. After finding their kids’ classes, these parents made sure to document the big day with a picture of their kids in the class lineup (which was most likely uploaded to multiple social media networks), kissed them goodbye, and jogged, yes, jogged out of school before the class was even dismissed. The look on most parents’ faces as they were leaving the school was just priceless.
There were these two dads in particular that made me, and many others, laugh like crazy, their reaction was hilarious. One was walking towards his car that was parked next to mine, apparently a working dad, judging from his suit and laptop case, which means, that he’s most probably heading to work, not to some fun place where he can enjoy being child-free, but still, once he stepped into his car, he checked his hair in the rear mirror, put on his seat-belt, turned on the radio -on a really high volume-, rolled his window down, and screamed: “yo hoo!” at the top of his lungs, while driving away.
The other dad, was walking in front of me on his way to the bike parking racks, and I don’t know if he was a stay-at -home – dad, or a work-from-home-dad, or about-to-go-to-work-dad, no idea, he was wearing a t-shirt, shorts and slippers, he apparently came with his kids on their bikes, he was humming some song, dancing to the beat in his head, got on his bike, got a really deep breath, looked at us all and said: “is it me? or is today… (now he shouts) friggin’ AWESOME!” and he disappeared into the woods, just like that.

These people and their pure joyful -and justifiable- selfish excitement made my day. My day, which, unlike many other parents, will not be that different, because with my eldest going to school, I still wont have the freedom to spend my time the way I wish, since I have the neediest creature there is to share the house with: my toddler 😀 yep, I’m proudly struggling to manage house chores, raise a toddler, work from home, develop my skills and maintain what’s left of my sanity; but I can’t complain really, I thank God that I’m lucky enough to be worrying about just that and nothing else of what other parents in many less-fortunate parts of the world have to deal with.

May every child have the blessing of health, a family, a safe environment and a right to education.

And parents, enjoy the school year as it lasts 😉

 

June 13

Young Muslims Stand Up For Islam

Every time a terrorist attack takes place, and media announces that the terrorist is Muslim, or affiliated with ISIS, you find all Muslims around the world investing A LOT, if not all their time,  trying to denounce such unfortunate and heartless acts, making it clear that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam whatsoever, or defending Islam and the Muslim communities -especially in the West-  or simply explaining what Islam is all about, time and again.

As many of AquaCool followers know, I’ve promised myself a very long time ago to stop wasting any time trying to defend Islam, because I’ve come to the conclusion, back then, that many don’t want to reason or listen or read anything that is in the defense of Islam or Muslims, and would rather just attack and condemn no matter what.
But years, many years later, I have come to realize that just like there are thousands of people who couldn’t care less what Muslims have to say, many other thousands actually do care, and they are working, hand in hand, with Muslims, to help clear the picture and combat Islamophobia.
For these people who are restoring Muslims’ faith in humanity, I will continue to share any note-worthy initiatives, or projects that still didn’t go viral, in hopes of spreading the word and helping more and more realize that Islam is, in fact, a religion of peace.

And what I’m sharing here is one of these projects, a very impressive effort of some young Canadian Muslim students, who put together this video; no fancy talk, no fancy editing or anything of the kind, just the truth, plain and simple, told in a sweet and an honest manner, with a touch of humor, by students driven by a lovely passion for defending their religion and an amazing enthusiasm to represent it in a clear and simple way that appeals to all people, especially the youth members of their community and all over the world.
Not to forget the appearance of my father, who helped shed some light over some misconceptions about Islam, Fundamentalism, Islamophobia and Terrorism.

April 9

Off To The Movies With Your Baby

A few weeks ago, and while watching a TV show about parenting on a German channel, I was taken by a scene shot in a cinema full of parents with their teeny tiny little bundles of joy. After a bit of googling here and there, I was introduced to “Kinderwagenkino“, which literally translates into: ‘Baby Stroller Cinema’.
The concept is to have movie theaters offer baby-friendly showings of brand new movies, to parents with infants and children under 2 years of age. So participating cinemas would specify certain times for these showings and would of course take into consideration babies’ sensitive ears and eyes by lowering the volume and dimming the lighting. The cinemas will also accommodate parents’ needs by providing a changing table inside the theater, (some theaters may provide couches for parents & babies to stretch on and relax) in addition to a designated area to park the baby’s stroller indoors right next to the entrance.

To be honest I was a bit jealous and envious of German parents. And for some weird reason, I didn’t dig deeper, I just let it go and went on as if I never heard of it in the first place… so unlike me :/

Anyways, a few days later, my husband took our older son to the movies, and they came back with a surprise; a flyer titled: “Stars & Strollers“. Which was exactly “Kinderwagenkino”, but Canadian version.
I was over the clouds. I got online, and after viewing what was available for that week, I decided to go for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”. Continue reading

February 27

نواب برلمان كندا العرب ومهزلة التصويت ضد حركة البي دي إس

 سبق وعبّرت عن استيائي وحزني الشديدين بخصوص نتيجة تصويت البرلمان الكندي الذي تم يوم الإثنين السابق. التصويت تداول حركة البي دي إس الفلسطينية، وهي حركة سلمية تهدف إلى التوعية بآثار الاحتلال الإسرائيلي وجرائم الحرب التي ترتكبها إسرائيل في حق الشعب الفلسطيني، مطالِبةً دول العالم بمقاطعة وسحب الاستثمارات من إسرائيل وفرض العقوبات عليها، إلى أن تطبِّق القانون الدولي وتحترم حقوق الفلسطينيين وتكف عن انتهاكاتها المتكررة والمستمرة ضد الشعب الفلسطيني، إضافة إلى إعطاء اللاجئين الفلسطينيين حقهم في العودة.
طبعا لن تحظى أي حركة بأي انتباه إلا إذا كانت جهودها ناجعة، وبالفعل آتت جهود الحركة أكلها وانضم إليها العديد، من مختلف الديانات، بمافي ذلك بعض اليهود، ومن مختلف الجنسيات، التي تضمنت حتى بعض الإسرائيليين. ومن هنا بدأت جهود إسرائيلية مضادة وحثيثة بالتصدي للحركة ومحاولة وقفها بشكل رسمي وقانوني، وليس هذا فقط، بل ومعاقبة كل من ينضم لها أو يدعمها أو يجَرِّم إسرائيل أو يحاول تعريتها، في وسائل الإعلام أو وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي أو أي شكل من الأشكال.

وكانت الحكومة البريطانية أول من طبّق هذا القرار بمنع الحركة ومعاقبة كل من كان معها، وبعد أسبوعين، الإثنين الماضي، باشرت حكومة كندا في التصويت إماّ مع منع الحركة ومعاقبة من يدعمها و/أو يسيء إلى إسرائيل، أو التصويت ضد منع الحركة وضد معاقبة من يدعمها و/أو يسيء إلى إسرائيل.

المتابع منكم للموضوع بات يعلم أنّ التصويت النهائي كان لصالح إسرائيل ، وأنّ الحزب الليبيرالي الحاكم وحزب المحافظين (الذي كان وراء طرح القرار بمنع الحركة)  صوّتا لصالح إسرائيل، وأنّ كلاّ من الحزب الديمقراطي الجديد وحزب الكتلة الكيبيكية صوّتا ضد المنع ولصالح حركة البي دي إس، على أساس احترام الديمقراطية وحرية التعبير في كندا.
بدافع الفضول ومن باب العلم بالشيء أردت معرفة ما صوتت به نائبة منطقتي وهي من أصول أجنبية، وعرفت أنها قامت بالامتناع عن التصويت، لم أفرح بهذا ولكن أقدّر أنّ لشخص كبر وترعرع على ما يتشرّبه من الإعلام المنحاز لإسرائيل بأن لا يصوّت لصالح إسرائيل ويمتنع هي خطوة إيجابية نوعا ما  وإن لم تكن الصحيحة، ولكن الصدمة التي كنت وبكل صراحة لا أتوقعها، وعلمت بها قبل يومين إثنين فقط من خلال قراءتي لمقال، هي أنّ نائبين مسلمين صوّتا لصالح إسرائيل، نعم، صوّتا ضد حركة البي دي إس، وأنّ  باقي النواب المسلمين، بما في ذلك نائبين عربيّين ، إمّا تهرّبوا من التصويت بالتغيّب وعدم الحضور، أو حضروا وامتنعوا عن التصويت. لكم أن تتخيّلوا فاجعة الجالية العربية والمسلمة والعار الذي نحس به من هذه الحقيقة المرّة. لم أفكّر للحظة بأن أتأكّد من تصويتات النواب العرب أو المسلمين، اعتقدت أن تصويتهم لصالح الحركة أمر مسلّم به، لأكتشف أنّ كل التصويتات المساندة للحركة، وإن كانت غالبيتها نابعة عن دعم حرية التعبير وليست بالضرورة معادية لإسرائيل، كلها أجنبية، لا عربية، ولا مسلمة. وأنّ من تجري في عروقه نفس دماء ذالك الشعب الذي يعاني الأمرّين من الاحتلال، لم يأبه إلاّ بمنصبه، وخاف من سخط مُوالين إسرائيل.

أنا أعي تماما أنّ السياسة لعبة خطرة ومعقّدة، وأنّ الكلام سهل والفعل صعب، ولكن “يا عمّي إزا مش قدّ الشغلة ليش تدخلوها من أساسه؟”. لتعلموا أنّ الجالية انتخبتكم لتمثّلوها وتكونوا همزة الوصل بينها وبين البرلمان والحكومة، أنتم صوتها، تصويت مثل هذا ليس شيئاً شخصيا يخصكم، هذا صوتنا نحن، وعلى حد علمي، ليس هناك عربي واحد، لا مسلم ولا مسيحي، أيا كان أصله،  فرح بالاحتلال، أو يكره أن يعبّر عن رأيه بحرية دون عقوبات. يعني حتى لو لم تكن لديكم الجرأة بالدفاع عن القضية الفلسطينية من حيث المبدأ، وخفتم من إسرائيل _ مع أنّ هذا عار_ ولكن أضعف الإيمان أن تصوّتوا لصالح الحركة مثل الأجانب، من باب حماية حرية التعبير… أمّا لا قضيّة ولا مبدأ ووجودكم وعدمه واحد “طب لشو انتخبناكم بالله؟” بجد أعجز عن وصف مشاعري، هذا وأنا قد انتظرت يومين كاملين لأهدأ بعد قراءتي للمقال، لأنني لو كتبت لحظتها لأسأت الأدب بكل تأكيد.
وأسألكم، بالله عليكم، أبنفس السلبية ستتصرّفوا لو جاءكم أحد أفراد عائلتكم يشتكي، من اعتداء أحدهم عليه، هل ستسكت وتقول لابنك/بنتك/ أو قريبك، “معلش اسكت هذا ابن فلان لو مسح بأهلك الأرض بطلعله؟ “… لأنّ هذا بالضبط ما فعلتموه بسلبيتكم وخوفكم، سمحتم بأن يمارس الاحتلال انتهاكاته لفلسطين دون أي إدانة، فشكرا لحضراتكم، أنا اليوم ككنديّة لا يمكني أن أنتقد أو أُدين أو أتلفّظ بكلمة واحدة ضد إسرائيل، لا في كندا، ولا في أي مكان في العالم. شكرا جزيلا لكم.

أتمنّى أن تتعلّموا الشجاعة من الأجانب، أو من طلاّب الجامعات صغار السن، لم يهمهم ضغوطات أو تهديدات أو إهانات ووقفوا مع الحق والصح. أو تعلّموا من إسرائيلكم، كيف تدعم الجالية أبناءها، وكيف يفزع أصحاب الدين لإخوانهم.
وعليه العوض ومنّه العوض…

وهذا مقال أكثر من رائع وعن نفس الموضوع، بقلم الزميل حسين يونس: هنيئا لإسرائيل بكم

February 23

Canada’s Motion Against the BDS , a Fatal Attack on Democracy

All social media portals are discussing yesterday’s vote, mostly praising it, describing it as a “positively” historic day… a day I would only refer to as an epic democracy fail.
To those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, yesterday Canada’s parliament officially passed an anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) motion, formally condemning “any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad“, noting the “long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations” Canada and Israel have.

Needless to say that many Canadians are unfortunately happy with this motion, calling it “fair”, “just” and the “right thing to do”. Many are actually threatening those who voted against this motion, calling them names and bullying them on social media portals as well as in mainstream media.

Was that a shock to people who are pro the BDS movement? not at all, even Canadians who voted for Trudeau knew in advance where the Liberals stand with regards to this bill… which is exactly where the Conservatives stand. But during his pre-election debates, Trudeau showed a great tendency to stand out, make strong just statements regardless of  pressures around him, he continuously reflected a humane free democratic approach which gave a spark of hope to many people, that maybe, just maybe, he would do the really right thing and lead by example in protecting the rights of his citizens in speaking up their minds freely, and not standing in their way of expressing their views nonviolently, and even encouraging them to peacefully share what they think. But no, yesterday’s vote was a letdown to many Canadians, a huge disappointment, and no matter how they put it, it’s just wrong.

Even if you’re pro-Israel, that doesn’t mean you could just go on bullying people into shutting their mouths up and take away their right to speak up as long as it’s in a peaceful civilized and nonviolent way. This is a right Canada gives to its citizens, and no one should take away this right.  The right of dissent is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What a shame, what a waste it was for those who gave their lives to create this Charter.
As NDP Leader Tom Mulcair beautifully puts it: “one can disagree with the boycott movement and debate it. But to call upon the government to condemn someone for having that opinion, that’s unheard of”, explaining that “This goes against the freedom of expression we hold so dear in our society. … makes it a thought crime to express an opinion.” Adding: “Since when do we allow that in a free and democratic society?”. [Source: Huff Post Canada]
Mulcair, who proved again to be a man of unbiased justice, standing by what’s right, not fearing pressure or attacks, has won the respect, loyalty and appreciation of many many Canadians when he voted against the passing of this ridiculous bill.

It is worth mentioning that the Canadian government’s vote follows  UK  government’s passing of the very same bill earlier in Feb. 14th, 2016, and I’m expecting that many more governments will amuse us with their support for this bill.

A big thank you, and hats off, to all those who voted against, starting with Mulcair, to the inspiring McGill undergraduates who voted in favor of the BDS movement.

Hoping that the decision will be somehow miraculously reversed.

January 19

Eight Years Apart

8years A year ago, in December, as many of you already know, I was blessed with the addition of my sweet baby boy: Arkan. And as many of you also know, he’s my second child, my first being my awesome son Adam, who, as many of you don’t actually know, is 8 years older than Arkan…
Yes, yes, a huge age gap, I’m perfectly aware of that, and believe me, every single person I meet manages to stress out this fact one way or the other. I remember when I was pregnant with Arkan, some people tried to “prepare” me for the harsh reality that is awaiting me, some tried to “warn” me about the many downsides of having siblings with such a huge difference, and many tried to conceal their shock with hesitant smiles, or tried to show support by saying the wrong kind of things, like: “well, what can one do? just try to look at the bright side”, “at least they’ve got each other, you know”, “let’s pray it’s a girl and hope for the best!”, “I have the same situation at home and I can’t begin to tell you what a nightmare my life has been, but then again, every experience is different”.
It doesn’t really bother me that people think this way, and I don’t mind it, as long as I know that it’s all governed by good intentions. I love sincere people, people who honestly care, even if they don’t know you, even if they know they’ll never ever see you again.
And among the many who tried to scare the hell out of me, there were a few who made sure I don’t let any negative comments steal my excitement, or ruin my experience.

The once helpless little baby is now one year old. The age gap that many people tried to scare me of, was a beautiful bliss I’m so thankful for. I’m enjoying motherhood just as much as I did with my first one. I don’t have to worry about jealousy, nor fighting. My older son is a very responsible and caring helper, who is enjoying our new addition as much as we are.
I know they won’t share many things together, and that each will have his own world that is almost a decade away from the other, but they’ve got each other, there will always be a point where their two worlds will intersect, a rare  miraculous bond I’m so glad for .
The point I’m trying to make here is that you shouldn’t let anyone scare you no matter what the circumstances. Whether you have an only child, or twins, or siblings with a very small age gap, or a very big one, every experience is different, and each one has its own positive and negative sides. Focus on the bright side, work around the dark corners, and you’ll end up with a magical experience like no other.

When I was pregnant, I suggested Adam chooses a nice book to buy for the baby, and he chose a lovely book that had the feature of playing musical instruments. It was so sweet, and when he came to the world, Arkan loved it . I was so proud of Adam’s choice of books.
A year later, for Arkan’s first birthday, I suggested Adam picks another book as a gift to his baby brother, and well, let’s just say, this time, his choice wasn’t as mature nor sensitive 😀 Of all the lovely baby books out there he had to choose this: Toot.

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What can I say… boys will always be boys!
P.s. The whole family enjoys this lovely, very funny & extremely cute book. 

January 8

New Year, New Mindset

As a new year starts, most people begin to challenge themselves, try to achieve their long list of new year resolutions, which I personally find very inspiring and positive. It is important for each person to review their life, where they stand, whether or not they’re actually happy, content; to take a break, reconsider, and set some goals to improve who they are and how they live.
What I find very upsetting though is that whenever I ask someone about their resolutions, it’s mainly about themselves, wanting to be healthier, lose some weight, learn this, practice that, get that job, write that book, visit this country, buy that house…etc; which as part of a bigger goal would be very fair and nice, but I truly think it’s selfish and ignorant for us to grow more greedy and self-centered with every passing year.

There’s nothing wrong with taking care of ourselves or those we love, but we constantly forget that we’re part of a universe, a bigger system, and that if we don’t take care of more than ‘us’ this system will collapse, and continue to suffer because of us, until we reach a point where we’ll eventually be sucked into this whole destructive process.

For those who know me in person, you’ll know that I’m obsessed with documentaries, I do enjoy movies of all kinds, but my absolute favorite are documentaries, especially those discussing health, environment or philosophy.
I love investing my time in something that will expand my horizons, add to my knowledge, remind me of why I exist, and most importantly something that will inspire me to improve on more than one level.

This year, I wont be discussing my resolutions, instead, I will recommend some of my favorite documentaries, in hopes that this year will witness the birth of more aware and mature individuals who will take better care of themselves and their surroundings.

1. “I AM”

2. “Hungry For Change”

3. “Living on One Dollar”

4. “Food Matters”

5. “Happy”

6. “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead”
Part 1:

Part 2:

 

December 15

Canada: Cold Country, Warm Hearts

Like many Arabs living in Canada, I was overwhelmed with an indescribable feeling of joy, and pain, as the Syrian refugees started landing in the country.
As happy as I was to see them arrive safely, knowing they’ll now needn’t worry about their survival, and that they’ll finally be able to re-experience a safe and terror-free life, just like the one they used to have a few years ago before all this craziness took place, I have to admit that deep inside me, watching my brothers and sisters in this condition, scattered around the globe, seeking refuge continents away from their home, was not easy, at all.
All what came to my mind was Syria; this beautiful country, with its inveterate history and its rich culture… all the good times that I – like thousand others- have spent there on vacation. Syria was synonym to safety, fun, happiness and everything great. Now with terrorism tearing it apart, I really couldn’t help but feel sincerely sorry for their hearts that are aching and burdened with a huge question mark you can see on the face of almost every refugee: ‘What happened to us? what’s next?’
The only thing that helped ease the pain a bit was witnessing the beautiful reactions of Canadians as they welcomed refugees with arms wide open. Starting with the government and the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to the children who were holding toys and blankets awaiting their “new friends”.
The amount of donations and volunteers dedicating their time to help refugees was pretty impressive, and to see Canada sheltering people despite their religious beliefs, not asking them to give up their religious identity, but on the contrary embracing their beliefs, was just terrific, Canada sent a clear and strong message to the whole world: ‘a human being, is a human being, regardless of what they believe, regardless of where they come from, or what language they speak’.
This message certainly made all Canadians proud of their country and government, I know I am.

Of all Canadian gestures to welcome refugees, I must say that these two touched me the most:

  1. Ottawa children choir singing an Arabic Muslim song to welcome refugees:

2. Quebec senior women meet up to make tuques for refugees.

Let’s remember that those who made it here, or elsewhere as a matter of fact, are only the lucky ones, and that many others are still suffering with no way out.
As heartbreaking as this may be, let’s hope that Syria will once again be a safe home for its lovely people, and that the world will, one day, be a happier place, free of all kinds of terrorism.

 

November 12

On Becoming a Canadian Citizen

As many of you already know, we landed in Canada a few years ago. I remember the very first steps I took in Toronto Pearson International Airport. They were shaky, unsteady steps, driven by curiosity, worry,  excitement and a mixture of ambition and fear.

Before coming here, we heard lots of mixed reviews of the country and its lifestyle. So we decided to learn from the experiences of others, without letting these experiences shape our own expectations or decisions. In short, we decided to live our own adventure with all its details, all its twists and turns, being prepared for the best as well as the worst case scenarios.

In Canada, and no matter where you’re coming from, you’ll suffer from what I like to call: ‘The Canada Shock’. Everywhere you go, you’ll experience this “we’re all different and the same” sensation.
Canada is where you hear a 100 languages you don’t speak, feel like a complete stranger,  then out of nowhere, and like music to your tired ears, someone passes you by, and you hear your mother tongue … you smile, they smile back at you (most of the time) and all of a sudden, you feel you’re home.
Canada is where you feel overwhelmed by the vast majority that is nothing like you; everyone looks different than you do, everyone dresses different than you do, but then you take a closer look and realize they’re, in fact, all like you: they reflect the mixed feelings inside them just as well as you do, they shop for clothes exactly where you do, and they all come from a different place on the map, like you, they struggle to build a new life, like you, and worry about mostly the same things you worry about… you feel at ease, you feel you’re all the same, you feel at home.
Canada is where people eat things like Poutine, Nanaimo Bar, and Maple-glazed everything 😀 , and then you crave hummus & falafel, a hot shawarma, or a steamy biryani, sushi, souvlaki, burgers, steaks, pad thai, or any weird thing you desire, and you’ll mostly find it… and feel at home.

In Canada you can be one of two groups of people. Those who insist on spotting the differences, letting them get in their way, and those who insist on spotting the similarities, overcoming the differences and going their own way. As long as you belong to the second group, you’ll lead a happy peaceful and successful life in Canada. Canada is not a perfect country, but it’s a very unique one.
I’m glad we didn’t let anything influence our journey. It was for sure a bit rough in the beginning, like many immigrants I guess, but with time we learned that you just can’t compare life in Canada to anywhere else in the world. It is indeed, a very unique place, like nowhere else. It has its own system, its own beauty, its own difficulties, and you can’t just get along if you keep comparing it to other places you’ve been, whether those places were better or worse in your own opinion.

This is my first blog post as an officially Canadian citizen, and if there’s anything I love about this country it’s the fact that becoming a Canadian citizen does not require you to hide your origins or forget your roots. And although some people are embarrassed of their origins and do “forget” where they come from, many Canadians don’t. They celebrate where they’re from, revive their cultures, and embrace their roots while beautifully assimilating to their new society. And this makes Canada the wonderful, one of a kind place it is. And this is what I’m gonna pass to my two boys Adam and Arkan: be proud of every drop of blood running through your veins, celebrate who you are, belong to here and there, love here and there, be loyal to here and there.
You might confuse your longing and nostalgia with the feeling of not belonging, you might feel lost and torn at times, but with time you’ll learn how blessed you are, how unique you are, and will learn to appreciate your life, enjoy your life, and love your life.

As for me, today I’m a proud Palestinian (by blood), proud Jordanian (by nationality),  proud Tunisian (by experience) and a proud Canadian (by nationality too).  And although I’ve been to many other places I loved so much and felt at home, but I feel these four countries have shaped who I am today the most, and hope to always represent a good example of all of them. As for being Canadian, well, so far I’m very proud of the outcome of the last elections, and can’t wait for the next elections to practice my right to vote 🙂 … and now, off to the kitchen where a very delicious maple pecan pie awaits me. 😀