01 September 2007

I'm gonna be a...

... teacher!


Tomorrow I have my first lecture at Södertörn University, in south of Stockholm. My first lecture in becomming a teacher for age 1-9, with an intercultural profile.

I'm already deep into my books, but I will try to be here as often as possible. Send some positive academical thoughts my way.

Miss you all.

24 August 2007

The wedding

Inside the church

You may kiss the bride!

Outside the church

Beautiful mother of the bride

Me walking up to the weddingparty

The couple arriving by boat


The beautiful location on the west coast

The wedding dinner is served

The wedding walz

The cutting of the cake

31 July 2007

Spending summer

As I mentioned I am spending summer with my kids at my parent's house. It is of course great for the kids to be around their grandparents (who spoil them terribly) and the fact that they live in a small town-villa with a garden makes it even more of a needed change for an apartment family from the capital. Their town is located on the west coast, with many wonderful excursions and stuff to do nearby.

Yesterday was spent at my grandparent's summerhouse in the upper west coast, close to the border of Norway. My grandfather turned 74 so some family were there to wish him a happy birthday (I'll try to update with photos within short).

You know, I have a kind and somewhat open minded family, so they're at their best behaviour in trying to deal with me as they always have, even though I became a muslim (11 years ago) and left behind some of their ways and values. I consider myself very much the same person, but at the very least, I look different (with my hidjab i mean). Yesterday however was a close family thing so I got to wear and look like them for the evening. Not that I mind my hidjab, but I have come to realize just how much energy goes to being different. Always.

Another family event, my dear cousins wedding, is another big reminder for me of just how different i FEEL (I am not sure i really AM that different, but...). A church wedding is all about Swedish manners and traditions, and I'm finding it a bit hard to comply. I don't think that has so much to do with my religion as it has to do with my character. Dress code simply bugs me. My children not being invited kills me. Never the less I have to be there, cause I love her, so I guess I have to get over it.

My husband arrived this morning by surprise. For days I've been bugging him about when he's coming and he kept saying there's no tickets (I took the car). Until this morning he stood outside the door and the kids went crazy (they didn't see him for 1 ½ months). It makes me feel much better to have him beside me "against" all what everyone else take for granted, and I don't, but at the same time me and him are from two different cultures and loyal readers know I don't always comply there either.

And it leaves me with a huge empty feeling of not belonging anywhere. And my process, part of why I've been gone for some time, is accepting that place in between as my own.

23 July 2007

To whom it may concern

Is there anyone out there................

No wonder, since I haven't been in here. I question everything. Sometimes I wonder if this blog should actually be about the difficulties of maintaining a blog. That would surely be a hit.

Now, the truth about why I haven't been blogging for a while is personal, but never the less it brings me back to the difficulties of being a blogger. As I have discussed before, depending on what kind of person you are and depending on what kind of blog you host, there is an unclear line between what you can blog about and not. Going undercover would help, but it's too boring. Going completely open would surely help, but then I'm too booring. So for now, I'm left here in between and that is what's causing my moments of temporary insanity.

So, it's been a while. At the moment I'm at my parents house with my kids, enjoying our summer holliday. Sunny days could be counted on only one hand, but that suits me just fine since I'm studying a course in Socialanthropology, that I couldn't complete while ramadan in Gaza (2005, for beginners). It's funny how my stay in Gaza follow me around. I guess since I haven't dealt with it completely. I was reading my notes and on the left side of a paper had I written "19 October, first raindrop". That of course brought me back. And i remember that it was actually just a few raindrops, not a complete rainfall. And I remeber that my son, Ibrahim and his classmates, was let out of class to stand on the schoolyard and enjoy in the rain, when later on the first rainfall actually did come.

I'll do my best to be a better blogger from now on....

UPDATE: It all makes sense now; while blogging around I just found this lines so worthy of notice, regarding to what I just had been on about here above...

"Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet."

A little full circle moment, since just "blogging around" (as in being somewhat distracted by the Internet...) was just what I was doing... Me being a "bad" blogger could have its explanation in just the fact that a blogger per definition is someone who spends an awful lot of time on the Internet.

(Can you tell I'm into Socialanthropology and stuff like questioning analytic dichotomies at the moment - I'm full of arguing against what we once took for granted lol)

30 April 2007

Out of love...

I have temporarily fallen out of love with blogging. Only temporarily though, I know real life will slap me in the face soon enough and I will come crying back here ha ha. Spring always does this to me. To not keep you totally bored I thought I'd offer ya'll a true story, a true FUNNY story. I don't know if it's me turning 30 + and wanting to convince myself of my good looks (yeah yeah yeah) or just plain good sense of humour that's making me do this, but here it goes...

I was on my way home, and had a walk through the park and passing a school. Some school kids (like 18-19 years old) were hanging out and when I passed by (mind you, in my hidjab and jilbab) one of the guys turned his head after me and bursted out;

-Mmmm, halal meat!

That still puts a smile on my face til this day.

11 April 2007

Imaan is talking

I would have prefered to write this post in my mother language, but IN SHORT; this is what I've been up to. A few months back I was part of a studie led by ms.Tina at "Gränslös Vänskap", Friendship without Limits, (I will have to update with all the links later inshaAllah) who dealt with ethnic Swedish Muslims being discriminated (or not) at work. It's all part of an EU-project and now she invited me to talk at a seminar called "Omedvetna Fördomar", Prejudices we're unaware of, also an EU-project designed to educate company leaders and high positioned staff. When ms.Tina invited me to talk with her I thought it would be more like a meeting between a few people (like 5-10) around a table, and was somewhat chocked when I came inside this room... (and this photo is taken at lunch time,people)!
People returning back after lunch
She spoke about her result of her studie (based on around 15 interviews with Swedish converts to islam) and I about my experiences of working with hidjab. The theme of the whole seminar was kind off diversity pays off, and I wanted to point out the advantages I have as a bridge between Swedish and Muslim culture.
Other speakers was for example Gary Baker, diversity consultant (yes, there is such a thing), Randy Lowe, Senior Vice President of Union Bank, San Francisco US of A, Ivan Daza, founder of Blatteförmedlingen (kom gärna med förslag om hur i sjutton gubbar jag ska översätta det?!), an alternative employment office for immigrants, Ann Marie Lamb, HR at SEBank and Ann Fagraeus, in charge of the project.
I found it very successful. It was so interesting and inspiring. And the best part was the meetings that happened in between. People coming up to me starting conversations and asking questions (I even had a few business cards, proud to say). I was the last person to finish my lunch, let me tell you, because I had to tell (on demand) the all inclusive story of why, how and when I became a Muslim, to the (lucky/unlucky) people sitting beside me.

Me, ms. Tina and Ann Fagraeus
I was also lucky to "steal" a place at a seminar for people in the business of Law, which my cousin attended and she waved her pretty eye lashes at the in charge and I was in (or something like that). The theme was Honour killings and she thought it would be interesting for us to go together (and she was right, not to mention that we had a chance to eat lunch together and have a long cup of coffee afterwards. She live in another city so we don't get to see each other that often). The seminar was led by two of Sweden's most well known islamologists.

Me after the seminar, photo by my cousin.

You know you're addicted to blogging... TOP5

1 ...when you speak to your close friend about an event you attended a few weeks back like she knew about it, and she goes "...but you didn't tell me about that?" and you go "Oh, you didn't read my blog??!"

2 ...when you make silly comments on other peoples blogs, like "Great blog!!" or "Very interesting!!" just so they will click on the link and read YOUR blog.

3 ...when you've had a wonderful day or interesting meeting and then, instead of smiling happily to yourself and going "Oh, that will make a nice memory!" you go "Oh, that will make a great blog post!"

4 ...when in the evening while watching 24 you get up from the sofa, just to check who and what that "plingpling" in your inbox was, even though you were totally being a complete vegetable. Because it could very well be a Comments Moderation Mission, people.

5 ... when you've turned out all the lights late at night and you know you should have slept since long time and the only thing that's keeping you and your bed apart is the Turn Off Computer-button. Yet, just as the computer turns black and white, you press Cancel just 'cause you had a new idea for a GREAT blog post (like I did just now).

Well, in the name of blogging - good night to all of you.

04 April 2007

Spring is here!

Lovely Hepatica

The past two weeks have been very busy for me. I've been up to lot's of fun and really interesting stuff, which should come up on the blog as soon as possible inshaAllah. For now, you will have to make do with some "A day in the Forest"-photos. I'm in my parent's hometown since the kids have a spring-break from school. We're enjoying lovely weather as spring finally arrived big time. I love this time of year.
So, this is to everyone who don't have a forest like this to walk in...

Cool girls

Forest view

This is what we Swedes call "eating out"

Oh, how beautiful

My kids

25 March 2007

Bildt meets Abbas

Proudly presenting to you; Foreign Minister of Sweden Mr Carl Bildt (here's his blog in swedish - in which he links to english sites - and here in english). Today he met up with palestinian president Mr Mahmoud Abbas (and here's his blog - only kidding!) and told him that the new palstinian unity government might have stopped a otherwise possible civil war and that the palestinians, although distress and violence, have the Arabworlds most democratic society.
"-This democracy is a fragile flower in this degree of latitude and it's our mission to water it."
he said (which very well may be the most poetic phrase a swedsih politician uttered in a very long time). However, it's no coincidence that he met with a Fatah minister and not a Hamas minister. Earlier he also met Hanan Ashrawi for a hotel breakfast in Ramallah, in where they both said that the position of Hamas is a reality and should be dealt with accordingly.
After Bildt left that afternoon, Mrs Condoleezza Rice came. We all know it wasn't, but one can always hope that wasn't a coincidence either. He he.

UPDATE; I simply have to translate a part from Bildts (he's actually funny) blog "Alla dess dagar - All these days";

In the Holy Land, mars 24th, 2007

Yes, there's actually a wireless net working just fine also here in Grand Park Hotel in Ramallah.

The hotel describes itself as a living legend in the Holy Land. Well now...

I was actually surprised when I realized that it was four years ago since a swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Israel and the palestinian territories (the government he is a part of was elected in Sep 2006).

A bit odd considering the interest we should have in a development here.

I landed in Tel Aviv and was very well welcomed by the israeli protokoll. However it seemed that the nation otherwise was absorbed by a fotballgame with England, that later ended in a draw. Continue reading here.

23 March 2007

A name...

I "spoke" (msn-messenger!!) with a friend from Gaza the other day, just after the new palestinian unity government was founded, asking her what she thought about it. We sighed over the internet to the sometimes seemingly hopeless situation. As for the big picture, what do you think, I asked, a one state- or a two state-solution? She answered;

"One. For Jews, Muslims and Christians."

Ok, I said, but then what would you name it? Of course refering to the much more complicated story of who would run it. I was expecting either "Palestine, of course!" or "It would be more practical to keep Israel" or anything like that. There was silence for a while... and then the msn showed that she was typing again...

"The Promised Land."

(My name suggestion was on a much much more silly level; "Paelestine", using the AEL from Israel. Laugh at it, please.)

19 March 2007

When the girl won't come to Palestine, Palestine will come to the girl

D.A.M. in Södra Teatern, Stockholm 16th March 2007

There should be something wrong with the PR of D.A.M. - the great palestinian hip hop group - when I heard the news of their concert in Stockholm, Sweden, from... Tel Aviv!

For an old B-girl like myself (yes, it's true) it was of course love at first sight; hip hop and rap, arabic and Middle Eastern melodies and a palestinian passionate freedom message - ALL IN ONE! Oh, can it get any better? Yes; on stage, live!

Now, the struggles of a old (well, I'm at least not 18 anymore!!) hidjabi mother of three to come to that concert... I tell ya. First mission: find a co B-girl. Impossible, but friend of 14 years, miss C (who later on, upon arriving home after the show, when her husband asked her "So, was the concert any good?" would reply with a painful silence) would do. Second mission: getting rid of my children. Collecting a favour from another old friend, all three of them where to sleep over at her place. Our children love each other. Third mission: convince husband. "Darling, I'm gonna go visit miss C on friday and we'll go the see a palestinian musicgroup who sings about palestinian freedom, at a theatre, ok habibi?" Sounds cultural, right!? "Ok, yes, sure". Mission accomplished. After a schedule worthy of a prime minister (11.45 Bake bread 12.15 Vacuum 12.20 Hang clothes 12.30 Wash dishes 12.45 Pack bags for sleepover 12.55 Leave home 13.00 Bring the girls from kindergarten 13.20 Bring son from school 13.30 Leave children at friends house... and son on. I also had a doctor's appointment that afternoon).

Oh, I'm going on and on. You don't wanna know that! You want to know about D.A.M.! Well, soon me and miss C were on the way. Before leaving we looked at each other, shaking our heads, saying "Gosh, we're too old for this!" Turns out, upon arriving, that we were far from the oldest, thank you very much. Some other hidjabi girls there too, great.

When the show finally started, they had a big screen TV showing various parts of palestinian life together with some poetical powerful lyrics. Went straight into my heart. And I had trouble standig up straight for a while (told you I was old!). For me it was a moment of full circle.

"ad-D.A.M. ja'een...!"
crowd going "As-Salamu Aleykum!"
"... min Falasteen!"
crowd going "As-Salamu Aleykum!"
(The D.A.M. are coming... Peace be upon you!... from Palestine... Peace be upon you!)

Here's what I liked most about them; they were passionate! Far too many times I've witnessed apathy and hopelessness in the eyes of palestinians. Here on stage was pure passion. They are skilled. Apart from having a message and a coldmine to pour from (you need to be angry if you're gonna be good at hip hop in my humble opinion), they are skilled with lyrics, rhymes and melodies. And last but not least, they were down to earth. Spoke heartfelt and honest to the audience. The only, only thing I would remove was the F*** word (I told you I was too OLD!!).

Signed and all

After the concert I of course had to buy their new CD and was lucky to have it signed and exchange a few words with them. I said silly things like "The show was geat!" and bla bla, I even said it in english, why when I could have said it in arabic to impress a bit? Ah well.

My husband came to drive us home. "How was it?" he said. I gave him the CD to put it on in the car. My husband is 12 years older than me and part of another generation, so I had no hopes. Upon hearing he said "Oh, they sound like american groups!" with a big smile on his face, thinking that he was actually smart to know that and point that out. I rolled my eyes and said "Yes, habibi, that's right. It's called H I P H O P, habibi".
After having dropped me off at home he had to go back to work I asked him to give me the CD. To my surprise he said "La la la, khaliha! - No no no, I'll keep it!" Not too old after all. None of us. Pure blogotherapy.

16 March 2007

How to be an updated Swede

Zaynar Adami on my TV yesterday

1981 Zaynar Adami was born in Iran to kurdish parents. Five years later his family came to live in Sweden. Thank you God for that.

2004 he started the magazine Gringo, then and still a supplement to the free Metro magazine, designed to bring nuance to media's image of life in the suburbs and its inhabitants. With humour, love and optimism he brought Gringo to a huge success and received Sweden's Journalist prize 2005 for "Innovator of the year". Today, his company Latifeh AB (named after his mother), have 17 employees from 15 different countries. Half are men, half are women.

This day he gave a speech at a Swedbank's seminar, broad casted on national TV, with the clear message that diversity pays off. He had the one thousand swedish suits all pronounce his name. "Let's say it together; Z a y n a r!". The whole world is a market, and the immigrants are not part of the problem, but part of the solution, he says.

And what is a Swede anyway? A blond,
tall and blue-eyed guy? Just look to the society as a whole! Me and my staff might
be from 15 different countries, but we have one thing in common; we're all swedish,
says Adami.

Sweden needs to update what it means to be swedish. We (Swedes) are few and the world is global today. Ask not how we can integrate the immigrants in Sweden, but how the immigrants can integrate us in the world, he says.

Love this guy.

11 March 2007

50th Wedding Anniversary

Friday 9th of March 2007 was the 50th Wedding Anniversay of my grandparents, on my mother's side. Their life- and lovestory is pretty amazing and I'll be sure to write about it one day. For now I just want to say "Happy Anniversary!".

08 March 2007

A Palestinian wedding in Sweden

This wonderful photo was sent to me by a friend, who attended this beautiful wedding of Kholod, 21, and Mohamed, 24. It captures the great atmosphere of a palestinian wedding. Happy saghrouting clapping audience, a proud bridegroome, a beautiful bride in white, and last but not least, a big old videocamera in their face.
My friend said to make sure I wrote that there was so much love in the air.

25 February 2007

A must read...

An absolute must read over at Dr Mona's. The first part of her trip to Ireland, as she was invited to give lectures about the situation for women in conflict areas, and the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which relates to women's safety and security.

Here are some parts, to attract you.

Sunday 24th of February
Permit was not approved by the Israelis so I unpacked my suitcase. Sondos was let down but not surprised because in Gaza we always expect the worst and we are always forced to accept the abnormalities as the normal pattern of life under occupation.

Monday 25th of February
I received a call from the Irish embassy telling me to be ready as the permit will be issued any minute. I was really pleased and hurried up from my work to my apartment, to pack up my suitcase again, and wait for a call from the Irish embassy. I didn’t collect Sondos from school as I didn’t want to let her down if we did not get the permit.

Sondos is back from school and is happy and excited to know that we may make it to Ireland via the Allenby Bridge crossing on the River Jordan.

The embassy phoned asking us to hurry up to the border at the Eritz checkpoint.

On the taxi to Allenby Bridge
Sondos cried with joy, disbelief and surprise to see Occupied Palestine/Israel for the 1st time in her 15 years. It is another world yet only 15 minutes drive from Gaza - two different worlds.

Seeing Isareli soldiers so close for the first time, my daughters comment was ‘some of them are nice’.

The whole post is here.

Missing Gaza?

My "sister" in Gaza
Sometimes when I'm reminiscing out loud, people ask me "Do you miss Gaza?". And actually I do. Even though it was (almost) all a big trauma for me, I actually sometimes do miss it. Strange as it may seem, to myself. But if you ask me to specify what I miss I really can't. Sure, I love my relatives and I truly do miss them. But I really don't miss living with them (meaning in the same house). We are too different. They are too conservative with traditions and too liberal with religion and I am too liberal with traditions and too conservative with religion (comparing to each other, not to bin Baz).

This year that passed I haven't almost had any contact with them, except for a few short and polite eid mubarak telephone calls. I really don't know what to say. I know they love me, but I also know they don't understand me and my choices. And when I cannot express my feelings in Arabic that well, I don't want even to try. I would only feel like a fool. I am still healing. I am still trying to get back on track. I am still not over it.

What I miss is simply that "something" in the Arabic way that just attracts me and my well-being. It has something to do with their (in some ways) very open-minded reception, and their (in some ways) very relaxed and elegant attitude towards life.

If I knew then what I know now I of course would have done a few things differently. No, really?!!. Yes, it's true. We wanted to try to settle down in an Arabic Muslim country. And even though Gaza would only be a nutcase's first choice, it still was kind of inevitable. We did first choose other countries like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, UAE, well, all of them actually, but ended up feeling lost and my husband was just too homesick to think straight. And of course, he might have made it, but I sure didn't and none of us could know that.

Looking back, we might not have done things in the best way or in the best order, or made all the right choices, that's for sure, but still... We did it without fear (as fools usually do) and that I think is what we benefited from in the end. If we knew what laid ahead of us we would never have done it, and we would just sit here and talk about it. But today I can proudly say "I lived in Gaza" and I actually wouldn't change that for the world.

A few days ago me and my husband was on the Internet checking something out, when one of his sister's daughters (from Gaza) logged in. She is the one of them all I could actually relate to and we could talk and joke about almost everything (even in my pour Arabic, imagine her patience). She is the one I miss the most. The day I arrived to Gaza she sat down next to me and said "Now you are like my sister". Those words meant a lot to me and they still do. I think she feelt as if I let her down by leaving Gaza. As if she felt that perhaps she wasn't as important to me as she might have first thought. Anyway, when she logged on I kind of froze and my husband asked me "What's wrong?" and you know, I really don't want to remind him of anything with Gaza as it is still an open wound for him (and me). But now, one year after coming back, I could admit in tears that "I miss her so much!"...

17 February 2007

Making a memory

Preparing for a birthday party is a pleasure for me. More than anything else you are giving your child a lifelong memory and a happy feeling when remembering their party. That is if you succed, of course.

This week was my daughter Amal's 5th birthday. Can I belive that it was 5 years ago since she was born, this little active angel of mine? No, I can't. But there's proof. I have to realize.

Her friends came. We eat cake and as much candy and chips and cookies that they could possibly take. They played the "chair-game" (when you put chairs in a double row and play music, when I stop the music you have to sit on an empty chair if you find one, if not you're out) until my downstairs neighbour came knocking on the door and when 7 children opened the door she said "Oh, that's why!".

Pre-PartyStraw- and Rasberry cake with chocolate


08 February 2007

It's all good

Lisa by Amal, my 5 year old, who kidnapped the camera.
This is gonna come across as if I have no life.

But here it goes. LISA WAS HERE. LISA WAS HERE. LISA WAS HERE. To be specific: IN MY HOME!!!!!!!!!

Ok, returning to planet Earth.


Ok, ok, now... a deep breath. Another. Yes. That's it. Well, I must say, and this is not to flatter my "Jewish fanclub" as someone once put it, it is really true, that Lisa's blog is one of the best I've ever read. On top of that she is a successful journalist and a person with a great huge heart. Of course meeting her was a big deal for me, a little journalist- and even blogger-wannabe. But mostly because she have encouraged and uplifted me for some time now. By mail or by just reading her blog. I was mostly looking forward to meeting Lisa the person than the journalist and blogger.

Suddenly she stood there in the cold, outside my very own subway exit. Recognizing her from behind was really not that difficult, she kind of gave herself away with that sure-to-be-a-set-of-tulips wrapping in her hand. But even though, there was something special about her even from a distance. When she saw me she gave me a big, warm hug that squeezed the Swede out of me. We usually really don't allow ourselves to feel loved or worthy of appreciation (sick, I know, but that's another blogpost).

We sat in my kitchen. Mind you, that we have just moved and my home is not yet all that representable. Anyhow, we enjoyed our meal and spoke of things between heaven and earth. I was somewhat chocked of her experiences of Sweden so far, the only thing missing to mark "check" on the "Let's see if the prejudices on Sweden are true-list" was the ice-bear walking on the streets, but she do at this time still have a few days left, so who knows... Then, Rami, I should have a few chosen words with you on some other PREJUDICES, yes?

A few hours before Lisa arrived I spoke to one of my close friends and told her about the meeting. She said "Oh, what a great moment for the world-peace! It is the small meetings that makes a difference". I'm pretty sure she's right. Even though neither me nor Lisa needs to be "won over", I still felt that our meeting helped me and hopefully someone else too.

On a less "world-peace'y" kinda level (yes, I am aware I make up my own words as I go along), that is on a personal level, it felt like a healing moment. On what ever side you are, there is too much hate and distrust going on, so just to sit and eat and talk and laugh with, in my case, a Jew (however secular and balanced she may be) was for me simply healing.
On a Imaan & Lisa kinda level I really feel like I'v got a friend. Sending emails and commenting on eachother's blogs in all honour, but having somebodu hug you and eat your food and cookies - now that is true friendship! Thank you, miss Lisa.
Lisa Fan Club - over and out.

05 February 2007

Imaan is back

One year has passed. Yes.

For me, a very dramatic year filled with hard work and all sorts of troubles. Of course joy as well, let's not all complain.

Let me say this; I HAVE MISSED YOU ALL!!

Now I feel ready to pick up my blogging again. I've turned things in and out in my head, but I've come to some sort of conclusion about how I want my blog to be (or not to be). So here we are again, at Living in Gaza City-blogspot. This time I'm Imaan On Ice.

Oh, you will understand by time.

Dedicated bloggers will know what gave me a jumpstart. Believe it or not, I have been planning for some time to reblogg again, but this lady's calling simply made it irresistable.