New York Road Bums

I’ve had the privilege of doing many remarkable things in my life. Meet Nelson Mandela, see the World Cup trophy in person and marry Mrs. Muzzylim come to mind. (Not in that rank order mind you). And just when it feels like asking for more would be downright greedy winter 2011 happened.
Being told we’re not going to be able to make it abroad to visit family was a kick in molars. But our backup ended up being two weeks in New York city. Queens specifically. Earlier in the year we were fortunate enough to get eleven days in the summer there – fully expecting that to be one of the last times we’ll get that extended a period of time to stuff our faces, eyes and ears with the sensorial smorgasbord that is NYC. As such we blitzkrieged NYC with like we were looting it. This time we took a different tact. No shopping, just food. Many a meal later we’ve returned to Blacksburg.
I’ve joked with Mrs. Muzzlylim (half seriously) that we ate so much amazing food that I feel like a goose engorged for foie gras. I’ve replaced the low quality fat for fine sea urchin, caviar and lobster. If eaten my cannibal would swoon with pleasure when they hit that fat pocket that owes its existence to Magnolia Bakery’s banana pudding (not unlike I am in thinking about it now).
A lot of people have a lot of different feelings when it comes to New York – and that’s really kind of the point of any great city. That wandering in is such a vast and diverse experience that you take your own bespoke labyrinth through it. Yet there’s a pretty safe bet it will leave you altered – hopefully for the better.
There is just no way we’re going to encapsulate all of that in a single post – which is why we’ll spend time blogging about it in doses over the next few weeks (and probably months knowing our pace 😛 )
The one larger realization of a trip like this for me is simple and quite corny. The right to travel and experience the world is a gift. Getting to travel and experience the world with someone you love is a blessing. Mrs. Muzzylim is a road bum I am honored to travel with. Footsore yet game. It’s symbolic that the capper of this trip was us celebrating our two year anniversary at the end of it. I can think of no better way to ring in a new year of our marriage together than by being exhausted from two weeks of great experience – and together. 🙂
Love to my wife of two years and my companion of two amazing New York romps.
– Mr. Muzzylim
PS: A special thanks to Bhai and Bhabi for opening up their homes and their hearts to us, their fly by night house guests. You are, simply, the best.
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This post might be slightly long…

but it’s about Ramadan, guavas and soul mates. Read on.

Mr. Muzzylim writes

When our first Ramadan rolled around we had been married about eight months. Up to this point I had been away from the Ramadan culture of the Middle-East for almost a decade. That meant no planning ahead for ifthaar schedules, Tharaweeh sounds from multiple masajids, Eid shopping and certainly no samosas, spring rolls or (the dreaded!)Falooda.

For this reason when Mrs. Muzzylim piped up and began attacking Ramadan cooking with hours upon hours of food prep it was a shock to my ‘open the fast with some dates and pizza’ sensibilities. I didn’t realize how serious she was until I was on the phone with the local asian grocery store asking if they had Guava in stock. After trying 4-5 of them (both by phone and in person) we finally found them! This meant that Ramadan could officially begin with the obligatory Fruit Chaat.

The point of this, I realize now, isn’t that Ramadan is about certain foods – it’s about coming together, acknowledging each others traditions and building our new home together. Like most things in marriage. Making what is important to the other person important to you is easier said than done. But once you accept that there is history, significance and love in each other’s cultures you might get closer to a place of understanding.

This year we haven’t been making nearly as many spring rolls, samosas or Dahin Vadas. But fortunately we’re making it to Tharaweeh more frequently, meeting more muslims from our community and taking part in cooking ifthaars for other people. I think is because we’ve come to see Ramadan tradition as being together first and foremost – and less about the percentage of our meals that are fried.

But of course we still have our fruit chaat. 🙂

My version

For me (mrs.muzzylim) coming from a south asian background Iftar was synonymous to the food my mum cooked every single ramadan. It consisted of fruit chaat (or fruit salad), dahi bade (gram flour & lentil balls in yogurt), samosas, onion/spinach/lentil pakodas, choley (chickpeas), black chickpeas curry and more. This isn’t even the full list!

So last year when Ramadan was around the corner, I had my list ready of all my mums food that I would like to recreate, my own humble versions. First on the list was Fruit Chaat, with the guava being one of the necessary ingredient (fruit chaat without guava. gasp.blasphemy) the mere task became herculean. After searching high and low my man in shining armor got me some guava lovin and I happily continued to cook Ramadan meals. Last year was about the food and still new in our marriage we both were discovering what the holy month really meant to each other and ways of making the most of it. Though we didn’t have a super productive Ramadan last year, we did vow to make this years better.

This year with the move to a small town and the muslim community being small, and close knit we found ourselves befriending people, getting involved in the community iftars, going for tharaweeh prayers and keeping the rest simple. Thus creating our own memories and hopefully pushing each other to make the most of this blessed month. Heres hoping that with each Ramadan we all find ourselves on the path of betterment and above it all may God accept all that we try and do in His path. Amen.

*Just to let you all know folks the posts were written separately. I know right!! what are the chances!! Told you we are soul mates.*