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Thursday, December 31, 2009

**tea house** background music


Tea for the post: Lipton tea with milk and cardamom. Lol, in fact, that's really the only kind of tea I've been drinking during my time here in Dubai--my home. I will be back in Boston in January the 7th; I hope that I'll be posting more often by then.

As I had already mentioned, during my time here at home as well, I've barely had access to a computer (I didn't bring my laptop) and even when I did, it would only be for a brief time. It is now late at night here and I am going to bed, but it suddenly occurred to me that it is time for me to change the background song of the blog; what do you **Tea Mates** (or any other visitor of this blog) suggest? I am looking for a relaxing, welcoming, and preferably non-vocal music; kinda the sort of music that'd suite a **tea house** atmosphere (not necessarily Asian).

In case I don't get the chance to post tomorrow, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy New Year (and a very late merry christmas as well!)

From your Tea Mate
Reema B. :-)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

jet lagged, busy, and phoneless...but good to be home!!


Tea for the day: karak tea (click here to know what karak tea, which is also known as chai karak, is), what tea would you like me to serve you today?

Omg....this week has been quite insane indeed....I had traveled back home on the same day as my last final which was on December 15. It's been a year since I've last gone home lol. The flight from Boston to Dubai (with a 5 hour transit to Amsterdam) took about 19 hours. I slept quite a lot but my eye glasses broke when I got to the Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. So, I had to wear my disposable contacts (and yes, I ended sleeping with them as well...I just couldn't keep myself awake especially in the flight to Dubai!). Because I had slept quite a lot, I was surprised that I didn't feel as jet lagged as I used to in my last Winter Break in Dubai (I was literally exhausted for a whole week!). But after a day or two, I'm now beginning to start crashing down!!

I didn't bring my own laptop with me as I wanted to travel light. In fact, I came here with only a backpack and a purse! This is in fact my very first time not checking in any luggage; and I would love to keep traveling in this simple way! In fact, I would actually like to buy myself a light laptop...but nothing too small...any suggestions?

I would also like to buy a new phone. My US phone doesn't work in other countries and my Dubai phone was broken ages ago. To top that, I hadn't used my sim card for a whole year and it got locked! Hopefully I'll get my sim card unlocked and will get a new phone. Was thinking of either an Iphone or a Blackberry...but I feel like everyone has those! I wanna be "unique" lol :-p haha, any suggestions for that too?

I have been quite busy this whole week especially with family and I barely get the chance to use my dad's laptop to blog. However, I have been working on 2 drafts and hope that I continue posting more often! I have been slacking off quite a lot in my blogging these past 2 months lol....

I guess this is the end of my post...wasn't really expecting to post anything this plain and boring but thought that I'd update you with what's going on with me and what my current excuse is for not blogging for a while. In fact, I think I may begin just blogging once a month if I continue being this busy...

Anyways...happy holidays **Tea Mates**, please do update me about your holiday season ;-)

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B.

Friday, December 4, 2009

the social business

Photo by: The Hostess

I'm now sipping (for the very first time) Organic Red Rooibos Tea from Peet's Coffee & Tea which had recently opened near our campus. What tea would you like to have?

I had bought a small box of this Rooibos tea (in teabag form) since I've only briefly heard about it and its health benefits and was just curious about how it tasted. To be honest with you, although the aroma of the teabag was welcoming, I am slightly disappointed. I was expecting a bitter yet refreshing taste that relaxes the senses doesn't seem to have any taste at all, although I've steeped it for more than five minutes! Any of you **Tea Mates** had rooibos yourself and think differently?

Although I didn't like the tea too much, I did try their Pumpkin Spice Latte while I was in Peet's Coffee & Tea cafe. I must say that I like their pumpkin spice latte more than either Starbucks' or Dunkin Donuts' because it feels like I'm actually drinking a coffee with legit natural flavors. (I just realized that I'm now speaking positively of coffee in a tea house!! What hypocrisy and blasphemy!! XD)

Aside from either tea or coffee, one thing that I really liked about Peet's Coffee & Tea is its aim to not only provide with quality teas and coffees, but to do so with socially, environmentally, and economically responsible practices. It also donates to and supports organizations and entities (like TechnoServe) that aim to improve the lives of the farmers it works with. Unlike some businesses that make similar claims, Peet's Coffee & Tea seems to be more transparent about how it aims to achieve such ideals and what particular organizations and entities it supports.

This may seem like a childish thought, but I wish that all the businesses out there follow such practices that is good for everyone; practices that both take and give back rather than just take till all is exhausted. It is indeed quite childishly stubborn of our "modern", "civilized", and "cultured" societies to be still doing the latter and to still associate being a "do-good-er" as being "anti-capitalist". In addition, it is ironic how even when societies may value democracy, equality, morality, etc. their economies exclude the poor and underprivileged in their own nations and/or worldwide (a topic discussed in a blog post I had shared in my last post: At times, I feel guilty of eating the food I eat, wearing the clothes I wear, etc. in our highly globalized world since I wonder whether a single poor person, an animal, or the environment has been abused or denied their full rights in order to produce and sell me such products. And it is astonishing to see that such tyranny still exists. I also feel guilty for being the one to have such luxuries while many others are denied it.

It is, however, uplifting to see the increasing awareness of individuals and businesses about the importance of equitable and sustainable trade. Instead of continuously feeling guilty and hopeless and blaming God, Fate, or any person or circumstance, I think that we must make use of this challenge and produce a positive ripple effect which can not only uplift those whom the ripple touches, but also ourselves. Otherwise, we'd paralyze ourselves with vain negative energy and that is not adaptive for us or anyone. I think we should also consider that the underprivileged have much more to teach us and that we ourselves are "poor"; we are just too arrogant to acknowledge that. I could go on and on about how in the end we are all "poor" but I'd rather leave it up to you to reflect in your own way and maybe possibly promote discussion.

After blabbering about being thankful, charitable, and socially minded in my previous two or three posts, I now present to you a video of a speech about the concept of a "social business" from Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank. My professor of  my Social Entrepreneurship class showed us this video and I'm glad that I found it myself to share it with you (this is not a complete video though and I highly recommend watching the full video via the button already provided (watch full program) or look it up in, the question and answers part in the ending is not to be missed. Oh, and don't forget to pause the background song by pressing the pause button on the Ipod gadget on the right side bar of the blog before playing the video!):

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

inspiration of the month 3 & blog changes


Tea for the post: Thai jasmine tea. What tea would you like me to serve you today?

The end of the month has come so fast!! I mean, I feel as though it was just Summer yesterday and now the Fall semester is suddenly ending and winter break is approaching (by the way, I will be going back home to Dubai during this 3 week holiday!! I'm quite excited especially since I'll finally be learning to drive so that I can get my licence...even if I don't, I'll at least have finally started!!)

Speaking of speed, I had recently bumped into this interesting blog post about the connection between our speedy modern lifestyle, food, and democracy. Please do check it out as it is quite a fun and interesting read about a very important topic. It actually reminded me of my trip to Ecuador where I had stayed in a reserve/organic farm and where almost everyday I would eat organic food that came fresh from that have no idea how healthy I felt after the end of that trip...and I had lost a lot of weight (in a healthy way...not an anorexic way)! I hope that maybe in a future post, I could start a discussion related to this blog post. Anyways, here's the link to the post:

As you **Tea Mates** may have noticed, I have made some changes to the blog and have added a playlist and a book shelf. I plan to add more books but there seems to be a problem with my Shelfari account and I'm trying to solve it. I also don't remember the names of some past books I've read which I'd love to share in this shelf. I have so far only added one song to the playlist but I will change the song once in a month or two so that it doesn't get too monotonous. I have also removed the shout box and chat widget as I noticed that no one was making use of them and they were only taking up space in a blog that was otherwise meant to have a simple design like a simple **Tea House**.

Enough of my blabbering lol, now that it is the end of the month I think we need to continue our second ritual! For those of you who are newbies of this **Tea House** and would like to learn more about one of its ritualistic traditions of sharing an inspirational quotation in the end of each month please click here and here.

Now, I present to you....the INSPIRATION! This is a translation of one of Rumi's poetry (however, I typically hate how translations tend to ruin the essence of the written art...I also wish that I knew more Farsi to be able to read the original piece myself! This piece seems to be related to the blog post I just shared, especially the part where the author talks of abundance and heedlessness).

Oh yes, and one final note: since the time in my laptop is in Dubai timing, and since Boston is 9 hours behind Dubai, the date of the post is a day ahead! Oh....and I just realized after posting this that today is December 1st...not November 31st!!! XD

"Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat of God's bounty;
The bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.
Abundance alone brings heedlessness
Thanksgiving gives birth to alertness.
The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,
And you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.
Eat your fill of God's delicacies,
And you will be freed from hunger and begging."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

charity in the unity of 2 festivities from east and west: thanksgiving and eid al adha


Today's tea: Pumpkin Spice. What tea would you like to have?

It is quite interesting how two different festivities one from the east while the other from the west, are coinciding together this year; it just makes the atmosphere even much more festive than it already is! Both Thanksgiving and Eid Al Adha involve lots of food, being thankful, and charity. I thought that before the festivities arrive that it'd be a good idea to share some links of charitable websites whether you're Muslim or non-Muslim. In two of these websites, you can be charitable for free! Click on them and you'll see exactly what I mean ;-)

Donations in these websites are all tax deductible. You're also more than welcome to share other trustworthy charitable websites yourself in the comments section :-)

Learn new words and facts while giving free grains of rice to the world's hungry for free:

Be charitable for free just by clicking everyday either for the sake of literacy, hunger alleviation, giving free breast cancer check and mamograms for women in need, rainforest conservation, animal rescue, or child health. You can even buy some of the site's products in its shopping section and all its profits go for the causes involved:

Donate your Udhiya/Qurbani  to Islamic Relief USA to help those in need around the world celebrate their Eid Al Adha (the organization in general doesn't differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims and only 3% of the money the organization gets goes to administration, the rest is spent on the causes involved)

I think that the fact that two similar festivities from conflicting cultures are coinciding this year is a Sign for us to reconcile our differences and any enmity remaining toward one another and to unite in our diversity to focus on more pressing issues: serving those in need who in the end do not deserve to be in need because of our greed and constant desire for excess.

Yes, fulfilling desires maybe natural, but let me tell you this: what is natural is not always adaptive, but what is adaptive is always natural. And it is indeed adaptive and natural for us to be in harmony with one another and to spread our resources with fairness the way nature naturally does itself. That is much more organic. In Islamic terms, I believe that that is the way all things in the heavens and in the earth submit themselves and prostrate to Allah and celebrate His Glory as the Holy Qur'an emphasizes in several chapters; as Muslims, let us join them and submit our will to Allah rather than give in to the surface of our immediate desires.

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

japanese tea ceremony and giving thanks

(Source of picture:


Tea of the day: Aveda's Comforting Tea. What tea would you like to have?

Finally I get to post something!! I was worried that you Tea Mates will desert the Tea House and leave me so lonely when I come by! I have been quite busy and overwhelmed with different things, but now I finally have a week long holiday--a thanksgiving break! It'll be my first time celebrating thanksgiving; last year, I simply went to NYC with some of my international friends and stayed in a hotel for a weekend and we had managed to be there in time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. This year though, I will be experiencing for the first time a legit American thanksgiving. Me and my brother have been invited to 2 American households in the same day; one for lunch and the other for dinner!!

I need to fulfill the promise I made in my previous post, so I am going to write about the Japanese Tea Ceremony demonstration I saw in the Sacred Space of my university. For those of you who don't know, a sacred space is a place where people of any religion and spirituality or even no religion or spirituality can pray and meditate. Our Sacred Space is part of our university's Spiritual Life Center which coordinates different religious, spiritual, and interfaith programs. I am a member of Multi-Faith Student Connection which meets there in the Sacred Space once a week.

The week in which I had posted my previous post was Spiritual Wellness Week which was organized by our university's Spiritual Life Center. In one of the programs, we had an event called Zen and Japanese Tea Ceremony. Staff and students from the Kaji Aso Studio , which is a Japanese art institute in walking distance from our campus, came to demonstrate a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony and explained some of the philosophies behind it. Now, what I am going to explain below is only a description of what I've seen the way I understood it, please feel free to correct me if you know more about the topic or if you are studying and practicing this yourself (I've heard that it takes years to master the tea ceremony!). I guess that this is indeed a better time to write about the tea ceremony as it is almost thanksgiving and I think that the process of the tea ceremony is in a way a form of giving thanks.

Tea Ceremony embodies the concepts of Zen Buddhism. There are three components to the ceremony: the host, the person who passes the tea to the guest(s), and the guest(s). All of the people sit on the floor and the utensils are wiped and the tea made on the spot. The whole ceremony is a meditative process and is thus done very slowly and with great care, from wiping each and every utensil, to folding the napkins, to pouring and serving the tea, to the guest admiring the artwork of the cup (he may even ask who was the artist) and then to him/her finally drinking the tea and saying: "It's delicious" (those are the only words exchanged, it is a very silent ceremony) everyone including the guest(s) bows. I honestly would've loved to post pictures and videos here but I was worried of disrespecting the people who may not want to have their pictures in a blog for complete strangers to see. I had also forgotten to bring my camera with me to the event anyways (yes, photography wise, I had become much more lazy...what happened to the days when I used to carry my camera everywhere and would even picture the most mundane things to the extent of being annoying to people around me?!).

The tea that is drunk in Japanese tea ceremonies is called matcha (see picture above), which is expensive as it is the youngest leaves from the black tea tree and is freshly hand-picked and then crushed into powder. It is associated with multiple health benefits. Although we unfortunately didn't get the chance to drink the tea, we were told that it is quite bitter. Since the Japanese don't like bitter things too much, they usually have a sweet in their mouth as they drink the matcha tea. I can't remember the particular name of the sweet but it was a kind of crystalized sugar that artists design in a variety of shapes.   

I always found it interesting how most religions emphasize the appreciation of simple things and what's around us. However this is done in different ways. In Zen and other similar religions, the appreciation is done with the immediate objects directly. In Islam it is done with both appreciating the detail of the object while glorifying and thanking Allah since He is seen as the Infinite and the origin and sustainer of each and every process and molecule involved. In the end, whatever you believe in, I say simply be thankful and grateful and try to make every second a meditative process. Happy thanksgiving and Eid mubarak (yes, Eid has coincided with thanksgiving; I love it when different festivities coincide like that!)

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

inspiration of the month 2


Tea for the day: Thai iced tea. What tea would you like to have?

I did not expect my week (and coming weeks) to be quite busy, I hope you Tea Mates can forgive me!! This week, in my campus, was Spiritual Wellness Week and we had different events going on in our university's Sacred Space (will tell you more about what that is later). I have so far gone to two of the events: Chakra Night and Zen & Art of Japanese Tea Ceremony.  I hope that in my next posts, I will tell you more about these events with a focus on the concept of a "tea ceremony", so stay tuned!

Anyhow now that it is the end of the month, I think I should carry on the second ritual of this blog ;-) (click on the link if you have no idea what I'm even talking about right now!).  So here's a random quotation which is among my favorites, would love it if you also share your own (it doesn't have to be related to tea!!):


“A woman is like a tea bag, you can not tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”

Nancy Reagan 


 (Translation: do NOT underestimate the burning power of women!!) xD 


From your Tea Mate,

Reema  B. :-)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

solution to the milky rice pudding disaster!


Tea for the post: chamomile and mango tea. What tea would you like to have?

This post's going to be a short one, 'cause I finally remembered to tell my Mom about my milky rice pudding disaster  I had days ago and asked her what may have possibly gone wrong. I thought I'd update you with her reply (click on the link to see which blog post of mine I'm referring to and to find the ingredients of this dessert) ;-)

It seems that I had apparently added too much milk at the time...and I'm assuming that the temperature in which I was stirring in was too high. Therefore, no pudding was even forming!!! I just ended up stirring and stirring for an hour or two and and it was just plain warm liquid!

In the end, perfecting such simple food and desserts requires trail and error...there's no particular, rigid measurement of recipes to follow.

Hmm...I just remembered that one of our Tea Mates (A Woman Made of Dust; better known as WMD) wanted to try this out herself...I wonder how did hers turn out. So WMD, or anyone of you who has attempted it, if you are reading this post, please do post a comment here in reply and let us know how yours turned out!

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

my black books of ideas


Today's tea: soothing green tea. What tea would you like to have?

I always thought that writers are the bravest and strongest people. I think this because "good" and/or sincere writers are willing to even relive their pain in the process of writing about it. I on the other hand tend to have a hard time doing that, especially if I've already gotten over the shameful or painful event and I am not even willing to relive it ever again.

I always loved writing, especially poetry and short stories (though I've only actually written one short story which I really liked, but I do love to think of and imagine different plots in my head!). Unfortunately though, I haven't been writing too much of such things these days.

However, besides keeping this blog, I do keep 2 Moleskine notebooks. In one of them, which is the pocket sized one, I write down the most random thoughts, reflections, meditations, or anything I may have found profound or inspiring. In the other larger Moleskine notebook, I write down "entrepreneurial" ideas and/or any "pioneering" career goals I may have. In this same one, I also write down the skills and hobbies I'd like to learn and develop, cooking recipes, languages I'd love to learn, etc.

I actually like to journal in this unstructured way, without actually writing down particular dates and all...without the "dear diary" formality of it, without pressuring myself to write in either of the journals all the time, without caring about how my handwriting looks, the grammar, and whether what I write even makes any sense or not... just writing from my unconscious.  I feel like by doing that I unleash more of my creativity. Lord knows, but even if I don't actually do those "entrepreneurial ideas" and/or die before ever doing them, I'll at least be leaving behind treasures of ideas for others to either apply them or simply be inspired by them and create something even better out of them.

Speaking of ideas, I remember the day in 2005 when I went to the Mary Baker Eddy Library which is near my university in Boston. I especially remember the "Hall of Ideas" part of the library/museum. In that hall, there would be a public demonstration. In the beginning of the demonstration, you would hear music and diverse quotations from famous and great people about the importance of "ideas" and spreading these "ideas". There was this one quotation (I think it was said by Mother Teressa, I don't remember it exactly) that said something like this: no one can ever kill or imprison and idea. You may do so to the person, but never to the idea. Once an idea is spread, it just continues growing infinitely.

To me at least, I think that no one ever "owns" an idea. Once an idea is spread, it becomes everyone's idea, since each person interprets it his/her own way, applies it (or doesn't) in his/her own way, and may even develop it his/her own way. The idea can even be shaped in such a way so that it can be applied more flexibly by the whole "team". I think it would be selfishness to not share an idea which, as you can infer from what I been blabbering about now, can have so much potential for changing for the better. We just need to hush our ego a bit and simply let that drop of water of ours send a ripple effect throughout the pond. To be honest though, I at times forget that myself and my ego ends up getting the better of me.

Enough about ideas lol....let's go back to the topic of journaling: what is your version of a "journal" and/or "diary"?

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009



Tea for the day: Lipton....not too legit I know but I got too many Lipton tea bags which I'm trying to finish off! >,< You see, when some family members came to visit from Dubai, they decided to bring loads of Lipton tea bags along with them. When they wanted to go back to Dubai, they decided to leave me with left overs! Anyways...what tea would you like to have?

 I am having an Anthropology midterm exam, a Statistics in Psychological Research quiz, and a Social Entrepreneurship full case study write-up about Banco Compartamos all due for this Monday! Those three classes are back to back on Mondays so I need to get all this done by this weekend! Feeling kinda nervous as I have barely touched my Anthropology book and do not have the slightest idea about the sorts of questions our Prof. will ask....

On Tuesday, I have a Learning & Motivation quiz...then I'm done for this week and the next! Hopefully I'll be able to blog more often after Tuesday....

*sigh* too much negative energy in starting this here's some positive energy to light it up!

I have this friend from Saudi who is among the first friends I've made in my university in Boston. Her name is Fatima. She's so  much fun to be with but I must warn you that she is quite a crazy girl! (Or rather "hyper-sane" according to her definition; she was inspired to use this term after I once told her about how a certain anti-psychiatry movement were hypothesizing that schizophrenia could possibly be a form of "hyper-sanity" (more than "sane" to the extent that other sane people find them insane!).

Whenever I am with this girl I become as crazy as her! Our conversations would be filled with "sound effects" and "meh" or "maw" or "neh" whenever one of us defeats the other in an argument or is simply *sighing* after being made fun of a lot (and yes she is the one who invented these "words" (except for "neh")...if that's what you want to call them...!). :-D I tend to make fun of those particular words by either making a 'meow' sound for the "maw", or a goat sound for the "meh". In addition to that, either of us ends up inventing our own terminologies either intentionally or not (and inevitably making fun of the other :-p). We also take a lot of random pictures of each other (sometimes without the other expecting it! However, I tend to enjoy taking random videos of her because it annoys her and it always ends up becoming into an AWESOME video!)

Last Friday night, I was having dinner with her and she wanted to tell me that her stomach was hurting. Apparently, in her mind, she had mixed up between the words "tummy" and "stomach" and thus ended up saying: "My "stummy" is hurting!" :-D This is among the many things I make fun about her! But in this case however, I decided to turn this into a Facebook status which I'm sharing with you here: (note that Fatoom and Fatooma are among the many nicknames given to any girl called Fatima. Also note that the number 6 used in her name is part of Arabic chat language which uses numbers sometimes with apostrophes to symbolize Arabic letters not found in English):

From the book of Fatoom Madness Quotations: "My stummy is hurting :-(" (sorry fa6ooma, I just had to share this eventually!! :-p)

She just commented on this Facebook status today. I told her that it's gonna be a serial called: The Book of Fatoom Madness Quotations, making her so famous free of charge! She then said that I should make it into an actual book. I said that I'd go tomorrow to buy a pocket Moleskine notebook just for this very purpose....Lord knows, but it may end up getting published...and the book will function as a way to combat stereotypes about the Middle East and Muslims! :-p She replied: "Sounds like a great project" (unlike me, she rarely uses exclamation marks!). I told her, however...although she'll get some of the profit, most of it will go to me because I'm the one who came up with the idea! :-D She said: "But the opening of the book should be 'MAW!' and I should review the book before it is published" :-D

What do you Tea Mates think of the idea?? :-p

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

where the hell is matt?


Tea for the day: iced peach and apricot tea from a cafe which a friend of mine took me to. What tea would  you like to have?

This week and the coming week are gonna  be kind of busy so I doubt that I'll have enough time to keep my blog updated. Since I wanted to let you Tea Mates know that I'm still "alive", I thought I'd share with you a beautiful inspiring video.

I first saw this video last year. I was doing one of my 5 daily prayers in the University's Sacred Space. There, I met a girl who was practicing yoga and somehow (can't remember how) we ended up having a deep conversation. She then shared this video me through

Although the dude here can't dance well (as if I know how to even dance myself!!! :-D), I really feel touched by the spirituality and beauty in sharing his passion of dancing while traveling all around the world and inviting others to join in the random dance! I especially love the music, the music in this particular video is called Praan by Gary Schyman (I believe it is sung in the Bangla language). The meanings behind it is just beautiful, click here to see its translation in the info section.

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

milky rice pudding disaster!!! >,<


Tea for the post: Stash Premium's Fusion Green & White Tea. I'm also munching some Pepperidge Farm Milano Milk Chocolate Cookies...mmmm.....(though not too good a combo with green/white tea lol). What tea would you like to have? (You better pick one that actually complements the flavor of Milano cookies!).

There's this friend of mine whom I haven't seen ages (though we ironically live adjacent to each other!!). So this friend of mine invited me over to her dorm and decided to make me dinner. I thought: "Hey I haven't actually made milky rice pudding (my country's version is called farnee) in a while...why not make some as our dessert?" I've only made farnee twice in my whole life; the first time, it was too grainy, the second time was perfect but was missing the crushed walnuts as topping.

The ingredients of farnee are quite simple (particular measurements typically depend on your preferences and is more learned through trail and error):

  1. Milk
  2. Rose water
  3. Sugar
  4. Basmati Rice
  5. Water
  6. Crushed walnuts (to be sprinkled on pudding as a topping.)
Some people add cardamom. Some also use crushed pistachios or almonds instead of walnuts as topping. In addition, some add other extra stuff. But I prefer to follow my grandmother's simple way since I believe that her farnee is the BEST farnee I've ever had and will ever have! :-p

Unlike the rice pudding I've encountered in the US, our farnee should not actually contain rice grains. In addition, ours contains rose water which adds both a refreshing smell and flavor. Below are the directions involved:
  1. Wash the rice till the water looks clear
  2. Soak the rice for 30 minutes or an hour
  3. Blend the rice (covering it with water)
  4. Using a coffee filter (or any kind of filter or piece of cloth with super tiny holes) filter out any residue from the blended rice. (see picture below, on the left)
  5. Blend again and again until you see that all the residue is gone while you're filtering after each time you blend (steps four and five are what make this dessert a bit difficult to make....because sometimes if you haven't filtered out the residue well, you may never be able to tell until after you've actually make the rice pudding and eat it! That is when it'll feel quite grainy and weird)
  6. Heat the milk and stir it along with the blended rice, small table spoonfuls of rose water, and sugar in a pot.
  7. Keep stirring the mixture in low heat until you feel some friction and the mixture starts to look creamy and thick (see picture below this list on the right)
  8. Pour in small bowls and sprinkle with crushed walnuts
  9. Allow to cool before placing them in the fridge
  10. **Enjoy**!!

The above two photos were taken during my second time making this dessert in which it was perfect! (I think this was because mom was supervising me at the time!) Although I am sure that I had followed these directions well,today in my third time making this dessert, it turned into a complete DISASTER!!! 

First if all, the timing I started was quite wrong. I should've started way earlier in the day. Second, I was using one of my suite-mates' blender. When I first poured the rice into the blender all the water and rice literally spilled all over the place!! The owner of the blender told me that I forgot to put the blades in. I did that. Again, after a second attempt, the same mess happened and I lost some rice. I had to re-soak again and add more rice. I found out that I had forgotten to put a plastic seal in which its absence caused the second mess. After finally blending and filtering, I did the rest of the steps. But for some reason I cannot understand, the mixture wasn't thickening!!! I kept stirring for an hour or so and no result although the mixture was steaming! Eventually, I had to give it up since I was late to go to my friend's place....

I hope that I get to find out what actually went wrong....hopefully, the next time I contact my mom, I'll get my answer...once I do, I'll let you Tea Mates know so that you can get it right yourselves ;-)

Oh and one more thing, I just bumped into this blog post written by an Emirati woman. If you'd like to see how Gulf Arabic food is like (which as I mentioned in my previous posts is very VERY rare to find in restaurants around the globe) please do  take a look at this:

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

too much time in your hate

Today's tea is...actually pure water!! :-D It's kinda late at night and I'm not in the mood of sipping any tea at the moment. Anyhow, what tea (and I really do mean **tea** this time) would you like to have?

This week, I was on Facebook and saw that someone had invited me to join a group. It was an Islamic group (and although I am Muslim myself,  I'm usually cautious about joining Islamic groups on Facebook, as many of them seem to be extremist or fanatic groups that portray Islam in stereotypical ways to outsiders...or at least that is simply my own personal experience).

Anyways, in checking out this group, I noticed a wall post that was telling others to report a certain group that was offending the Holy Koran by having it written on toilet paper (and to actually use it as so!). I checked out the referred link and was indeed appalled to actually see that this was true. The creator of this offensive group had even created a blog preaching hatred against Islam and Muslims. Skimming through her blog, I can see that she (and like anyone who spits fireballs of hatred) is obviously full of ignorance about Islam. Yet in a sense, I can't fully blame her for she has obviously only tasted the few "bad apples" who've spoiled the rest of the "apples".

Enraged, I reported the group and shared the link with some of my other Muslim friends on my Facebook account so that they can report it as well. I was (and still am) quite disgusted at how there still exists in this modern globalized world people who are not willing to keep an open heart and mind. I always wonder whether such people who preach hatred toward any race or creed actually have a life to begin with....they have too much of time in their hands to take all that time and effort to create hateful blogs and groups and to "bark" hatred in online discussion forums or chat rooms.

My brother, who saw me send the chain message, told me today that what I just did was wrong and that I am only "burning blood". In other words, that I am now causing our fellow Muslims to have reason to hate. He also told me that the reason why such people even create these kind of outrageous blogs and Facebook groups is to provoke us Muslims and to get more attention by having us forward and spread their message to begin with.

I guess my brother is indeed right, and I do regret what I've done. However, my intention was to repress their so-called messages...but in doing so, I have actually spread it further. This is why I am not providing you a particular link to this facebook group or blog for you to see for yourselves.

In typing this post now, I have suddenly remembered a particular verse in the Holy Koran that describes the attitude of the true believers toward the ignorant who speak to then mockingly: "And the worshippers of The Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the ignorant address them (with bad words) they say: 'Peace'." (Surah Al-Furqan, Ayah 63).

Indeed, I have done contrary to this particular verse (and other similar verses) in the Koran!! I hope Allah forgives me...but I also hope that we all learn from this mistake that I've done, whether you be Muslim or not.

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

generosity of rain


Today's tea: Lipton tea (lol, not too legit...I know). What tea would you like to have?

It was raining yesterday as I was on my way back to campus from my brother's apartment. I had slept over his place during the weekend you see.

I was quite unprepared for the weather. For one thing, I wasn't carrying an umbrella or wearing a rain coat. I had a lot of stuff in a paper Macy's bag. It was quite heavy that I couldn't run to catch the train that was already standing as I arrived to the T-stop. Since I was waiting for the next train for quite a while under the rain, the bag tore off the very moment the next train arrived and I wanted to get on! EVERYTHING was all over the dirty wet pavement before me!! I first pulled all the stuff toward me, allowing others to get on the train. I had to figure out how to stuff the 2 tiny plastic bags that were already in the large Macy's bag.

I felt like I was a homeless person before the people who weren't helping me out (let alone share space under their large umbrellas while I was waiting for the train). I guess I can't blame them as they must've had places they had to go to. It is embarrassing moments like these in which no one gives you a hand that you get inspired to help another person who gets in a similar awkward situation. In other words, I thought: instead of blaming people and bringing myself down with them, let me raise myself higher by making sure that I don't end up like them when I see that someone is in need. Yet I must admit, I am usually slow in seeing an opportunity in which I can actually be of help, I guess it was the same case with these people.

The train eventually left. I then saw a young Asian girl running toward me with two plastic bags! She was breathless and spoke to me quickly saying: "I saw that you dropped your stuff, so I thought I'd give you these bags in case it happens again.", she gave me the bags, I thanked her, and she ran back. It was indeed so nice of her that although she was obviously having some other business she had to tend to, she still took her time to be of help. I guess in the end it is best to celebrate a moment of generosity rather than to blame those who are not otherwise, thus bringing yourself down with them. By depriving yourself the positive emotions of gratefulness and the lesson(s) to be learnt in the experiences and challenges of life, you are not being generous to how can you be generous to others after "breaking the bow" with negative emotions?

oh yes, and before I forget to mention, I had added IM chat here on the blog! Scroll down a bit and you'll see it. I wanted to place it earlier in the site but it didn't work out. So I had to leave it here in the end of the side bar. I hope you make use of it to either communicate with me or your fellow Tea Mates!

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

inspiration of the month


Tea for the post is Teavana's blend of Samurai Chai Mate with White Ayurvedic Chai. know the usual ritualistic question of each of my posts: what tea would you like me to serve you this time?? (Hey, at least this question was written in a different format unlike the usual ritualistic ones!)

An idea came up for me to post an inspirational quotation at the end of every month as another ritual for this blog. You may think it's kinda a few days early, but I thought that now that my classes are slowly starting to get more busy that it'd be best I post them at least a week earlier or so. I think it'd be refreshing if you Tea Mates can share some of your own inspirational quotes as well (preferably one for each month please). 

I may post less frequently these days, unless if I somehow figure out how to manage my time better. Ironically though, I may start another different blog! :-D Yes I know what you're thinking: I'm still a novice blogger and need to learn how to post more frequently and with more quality. But this other blog I want to create will be revolving around my religious and spiritual reflections (Islamic in nature). I want it to be a way for me to connect and meet other like-minded Muslims. 

As much as I love multi-faith and multi-cultural discussions, I would rather reserve this other blog purely as a way for me and my siblings in faith to journey together in our own "caravan" and support each other in any spiritual struggle and to be better versed in our religion and its implications. In fact, I am even a member of my university's Multi-Faith Student Connection group, so please don't get the wrong idea! It's just that I feel that there's too much religious and cultural intolerance on the internet to the extent that I wonder whether these people (Muslim or not Muslim, theist or atheist) have anything better to do with their lives (if they even have a life themselves) than to spit out cyclic flames of hatred and shove down their ideas down other's throats with such brute force.

I have diverse friends both with and without a religion and/or spirituality, and although we may have discussions of religion and spirituality, and even discuss why we agree or disagree with certain beliefs, we do not treat or speak to each other the way, for example, those in YouTube or in Yahoo Answer's religious/spirituality section do. 

It honestly disgusts me, especially when people are insensitive and cold toward how religion or spirituality can play a central role and meaning in some people's lives, and sometimes even his/her very essence of living. Can't people accept that religions are just the way they are and not argue out of ignorance and stereotypes?? If you have a bad experience or relationship with religion or God or any gods you might've believed in, please (and I mean please) do not attempt to tear out the beauty that others find in their own religions and spiritualities just because you do not see such beauty yourself. Indeed, I think that is the cruelest thing any human can ever do: stripping out the experience of beauty and love from another fellow human being. 

In my humble opinion, each and every person has a religion (even if you say that you do not; in saying that, you are expressing that you have the belief and faith in not having a religion and in not applying any religious practices!), so please do not be arrogant. Yes, diversity does separate people but it can also be a source of celebration. It is people (and not diverse religions, cultures, spiritualities, philosophies, theories, and viewpoints) that separate among one another and that do not choose to have an open mind to celebrate diversity which is in the end inevitable. 

Here's the link of this new blog if you're interested:

Anyhow, here is the quotation (or the inspiration) of the month which I want to share with you Tea Mates, I think it is a universal message regardless of our backgrounds :-)

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness, kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile." ---Mother Teressa 

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

how to say i love you


My tea for the post is green tea, what would you like to have?

Was thinking about how I didn't post any videos on this blog and I am sure that I have some videos that I'd love to share with you Tea Mates. Anyhow, here's one which I really found very sweet and makes people reflect. (However, this sort of guy-girl relationship and dating in general are not things that I would personally and culturally agree with myself...may explain about that in a future post).

Here's what I found in the info section of this YouTube video: (in the meantime, enjoy the video! Oh, and sorry about its appearance, this is the smallest size I could make it to fit it in here):

Written by Hayley Stuart
Directed by Hayley Stuart & Francesca Sophia

Nicola is sitting on a bench when she is approached by Sam, an intrusive boy who strikes up an unlikely and intimate conversation with her, in which they bond awkwardly over their mutual feelings of isolation in a generation that would rather communicate via the Internet than in person.

Starring Nicola Potts:

& Sam Smith

Music written and performed by Jaymay
(Used with permission.)

Filmed on location in Manchester, England.
Shot on Panasonic AG-HPX 171 E.

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I haven't learned, I am learning


Tea for the post is Teavana's blend of Samurai Chai Mate with White Ayurvedic Chai. I hate its taste once it gets cold though as it is quite a spicy tea. What tea would you like to have?

Ever have the feeling that you know that you have so much of time and yet get so confused as to how the day ends so quickly that you haven't really done much? Well, that is the exact feeling I've been having these two weeks since classes started. I really love my schedule for this Fall semester. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I start at 9:15am. On Mondays I have three classes back to back while Wednesdays and Thursdays are only two classes with either a 1 or 4 hour gap between the two. Now here's the best part of my schedule: I only have one class on Tuesdays and Fridays which starts at 1:35pm!

And yet I still wonder why I "don't seem to have the time to":
1) have teatime with you guys
2) dust my room
3) do my readings
4) go to gym
5) stay in touch with friends and family from back home in Dubai
6) sleep early!

I finally noticed that access to Internet is the culprit here. You see, once I am done for the day and get to my place, I drop my stuff, and have the intention of simply checking my email. But then as a person my age who doesn't feel like either a teenager or an adult, and also as a foreigner transitioning to the social life in the US which involves being in an abrupt explosion of many more diverse views than I'm used to, I do experience some temporary "on and off" phases of "identity moratorium", questioning my identity, what I identify with, values, and interests which I used to think will always be stable since I was so confident in them and strongly based my identity on them. (loool, I'm sure you can feel the stress from that very LONG sentence!!) Thus, I use Google and/or Wikipedia to look up my questions and to try to solve my internal struggles. Thus, link leads to link and question leads to question.

At times, I get too stressed from these internal struggles that keep getting resolved, and then coming back afresh!!! I wonder if I'm going insane!! I noticed that it is a cyclic process and it is only me who can actually control it (although the cycle may appear uncontrollable, and even inevitable, giving me illusions of hopelessness. And indeed, the plethora of information in the internet is just....speechlessly overwhelming!!).

Thank God though, that during the course of this Holy Month of Ramadan (when the struggles were at their peak), I feel like I have finally or at least partially taught myself how to handle such struggles. These struggles have also shown me how arrogant I was (and still am to some degree...after all my motto is: I haven't learned, I am learning).

Yet in a sense, I sometimes feel that these struggles leave me feeling so cold and hard-hearted. However, upon reflection, I noticed how reactive I can be to my emotions to the extent that it can impair my thoughts and judgement and continue the cycle of vain questions which I had already answered. I also noticed how such emotions made me too preoccupied with my questions that I feel like I've been impatient, absent, and cold toward people unintentionally.

To those of you who are undergoing something similar, one of my advices to you is that you make use of these struggles as part of a training for your soul. Embrace the challenge. Nothing is a distraction to your development unless you make it as so. And remember: you haven't learned, you are learning. I'd also like you to consider what I am going to share with you in the next paragraphs below.

In the end, identity moratorium is a natural component of development as I've been learning in my Psych classes, and psychologists like Erik Erikson encourage society to allow youth the freedom to explore different identities. This, (combined with the following Koranic verse (translation of its meanings): "It is He who has made the earth easy for you to walk on (and use) so walk in its paths thereof and eat of His provision, and to Him will be the Resurrection" (Surat Al Mulk, verse 15)) have made me made me feel better especially in terms of thinking about why I chose my major. I decided that now that I'm still young and have so much of opportunities (paths in which I can tread in this earth), I might as well find joy in exploring regardless of whether or not the subject has anything to do with my career plans.

Here's a related concept I found in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: "The world was huge and inexhaustible; he had only to allow his sheep to set the route for a while, and he would discover other interesting things. The problem is that they don't even realize that they're walking a new road every day. They don't see that the fields are new and the seasons change. All they think about is food and water. Maybe we're all that way, the boy mused."

Also, I read the following in the preface of The Alchemist: "During this time in spiritual exile, I learned many important things: that we only accept a truth after we have first wholeheartedly rejected it; that we mustn't run away from our own destiny; and that the hand of God is firm, but infinitely generous."

Finally, here's a long quote I really like from Rocky Balboa. I think that these words are really refreshing to keep us all moving forward in life in general: (click on the link to find more beautiful quotes from the movie):

"I'd hold you up to say to your mother, "this kid's gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid's gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew." And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilige. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you're no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow. Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain't gonna have a life. Don't forget to visit your mother"

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

international me with ideas!

Today's tea is again a fusion of green and white tea. What tea would you like to have?

One night, I went for dinner with a friend of mine and we were discussing ideas about what should be the theme for this year's International Carnevalle. I remember that we had great ideas which we were really excited about. 

International Carnevalle is a festival we have on our campus throughout the Spring Semester. It celebrates cultural diversity through events like international fashion shows, international market place, etc. We form a committee in the Fall semester to discuss ideas, organize these events, and advertise them. Last year's theme was "Unmask the World".

When this friend of mine came over to my place yesterday and she was asking about whether I wanted to join the International Carnevalle Committee this year I said: 

"I'm not the way, remember when we both went to P.F. Chang's at the Pru the other day?" 

"....yeah..." she replied,

"Well, I think we had a great idea for the theme for  this year's carnevalle....I completely forgot about it you remember?"

"No....I don't think so"

"something about....webs...."

"Hmm....." she says, "as in spiders??"

"No no!!! I'm sure we didn't say anything about spiders! But I am very sure that there were webs involved!! Cultural webs??"

She looks at me clueless and I say: "You know! As in how cultures have some common ground and are connected yet the pattern of a spider web....but I don't remember what name did we decide to call it!!! The name was what got us all excited. That is what's bothering me now!"

"uffff......Reema, why didn't we write it down!! I think it was your idea 'cause I remember hearing it myself...."

"I think you first proposed an idea then out of that I may have been inspired to propose this...well now that we forgot about the idea we can at least propose a new one, at least we have an 'idea' of what the forgotten idea was..." (lol)

"hmmm, when I think of webs I think of internet..."


"Now that I think about it," I finally say, "some cultures now a days do have their own chat language...or at least Arabs in our generation made up an 'arabic chat language'."

"How is it like?"

"You see, Many people our age can't type Arabic fast or don't have an Arabic keyboard. Instead, we use a combination of English letters, numbers, and apostrophes. Since there are many letters not found in English, we use numbers and apostrophes to symbolize those letters! For example, the letter 'haa' (with a very guttaral 'h') is replaced with 7 since it looks like the written form of the letter." (for example, the phrase Salam alaikum is actually written as Salam 3alaikum, since the first letter is not actually found in English and is different from the 'a' sound)

"Haha that's so cool!"

"So maybe this year's carnevalle can be something about chat languages in different cultures? But I dunno any other language that uses this kind of chat language..."

"You could try to tell the new e-board about it."

*end of dialogue*

Well, I guess we are kinda getting somewhere guys have any ideas yourself to help me out? Just noticed that this post reinforces the point I was trying to make in my previous one!

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Friday, September 11, 2009

still alive...and blogging!

No tea for this post...but I am having some fruit! What tea would you like to have?
Classes have started and I had ideas about what to write for this post. But now that I sit here to write it, I completely forgot what those ideas exactly were.

I guess forgetting does serve some benefit since it forces us to explore other ideas or to re-explore those forgotten (or partially forgotten) ideas in a different angle. Without forgetting, not only would our cognitive resources be so overwhelmed with so much information, but also we wouldn't be experiencing that joy felt when the ideas come back at that perfect moment in which we come to realize much more applicable potential in these ideas and further develop them. We also wouldn't be experiencing that joy felt when we look at our pictures or any other souvenir of our past. Such joys are blessings. Such joys are what stimulate us to move forward and make the very essence of living more meaningful and purposeful.

Here's a quote from one of my favorite short chapters in the Holy Koran:

"By degrees shall We teach thee (the Message), so thou shall not forget
Except as Allah wills: for He knoweth what is manifest and what is hidden." (Surat Al-A'laa, verses 6 & 7)

As much as I'd like to type some more and share an illustration from my own life, I think I'd rather go to's 2:25am here...maybe I'll say more in a future post? At least I'm letting you know I'm still alive and blogging!!!


From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

6 conquerors of the world, 1 conqueror of my memories, & a thank you to our new tea mate: "A Woman Made of Dust"


My tea for the day: Stash Premium fusion green and white tea. Though it may not be the best green/white tea, I still find it quite soothing especially while sipping it in my new dorm bathed in the afternoon sun. But this time, I drank it at night after coming from an on-campus event. What tea would you like to have now?

The other day, a new "tea mate" who calls herself 'A Woman Made of Dust' left a sweet comment on my first post and suggested a book for us tea mates called: A History of the World in 6 Glasses, by Tom Standage. Thank you again sister tea mate ;-) (lol too many links in one sentence!)

After reading both editorial reviews on and our new sister tea mate's description of the book, I decided to add it on my wishlist in my Amazon account. In a nutshell, the book is about how each culture has its own signature drink that has shaped other cultures and world history in general. The 6 drinks are: *tea*, coffee, wine, beer, spirits, and cola. Maybe if I get to read the book myself, it could be a potential topic for a future post...I'm kinda curious about whether tea is the greatest world conqueror of the six drinks!! :-p

However, of the six drinks, tea is definitely the greatest conqueror of my own memories. Tea brings back good memories of sleep-overs at my grandmother's place when me and my brother were little kids. I remember how in every breakfast with grandma, we always had to have a glass or cup of Lipton tea. Grandma would always advise us about the benefits of drinking a cup of tea once a day.

Tea also brings back memories of one of my favorite traditional Gulf Arabic foods called khoboz wa mehyawa (translated as bread and mehyawa, which is also known as meshawa in some Gulf Arab on the link to know what it is; it doesn't have a name in the English language. I'm honestly surprised that I was even able to find it on Wikipedia!!!).

Bread and mehyawa is ideal to have while sipping red tea or tea with milk (especially chai karak also known as chai haleeb which is made by black tea leaves, cardamom pods, boiled milk...and lots of sugar! This tea is a staple in the Gulf region of the Arab world). Mehyawa is typically homemade. Sometimes people add melted butter and/or eggs along with the mehyawa on the bread (which can either be Iranian bread, khoboz irgag (which is a kind of thin crunchy flat bread found in Gulf Arab countries), or khemeer).

I once shared bread and mehyawa with one of my American friends here in Boston, and she LOVED it...I'm sure she must've finished the rest of the bread I gave her by now...

Eventually, tea reminds me of my grandmother's cooking, especially the desserts that she, and many other mothers and grandmothers from the Gulf, would make during Ramadan. Such desserts, I think, would require a separate post in order to describe each for you tea mates. I may share some recepies if I ever attempt to make them myself.

Although the Arab world is the cradle of coffee, I rarely drank it back home in Dubai. I would only have coffee once every two weeks. I would only have Arabic coffee when we had guests at my grandmother's or when we visited relatives during Eid (which is twice a year).

However, when I first came to America last year, I drank more coffee between classes. Noticing the habit building up, I now drink it once in a blue moon and try to drink more tea instead. America is also where I "discovered" bubble tea (lol) and learned more about the different varieties of tea, especially through my brother's Japanese room mate. *Sigh* transitioning to America even effects the simplest spheres of one's life...

From your Tea Mate,
Reema B. :-)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

a whole day of cooking...while fasting!

It's TEA TIME!!!

*Phew* now I can finally sit here, sip some tea, and type my blog after a FULL day of cooking with mom! My tea for today is: Ahmad Tea flavored with peach and passion fruit. It was my first time having this tea...I just LOVED the smell! But I expected better...what tea would you like to have now? By the way, I really appreciate the blogging tips I've received from my previous and very first post, they were quite helpful! As you can see, I am now implementing one such tip by adding pictures!! xD Hopefully I'll add more some other time...I would like some animation though...

Although it is the Holy Month of Ramadan (the month in which we Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and in which we believe the Holy Koran was revealed to our Prophet), I am not fasting since I am kinda sick and need my medicine during the's difficult to actually "feel" the holiness of the month in a non-Muslim country, especially when you yourself aren't even fasting. 

Although I already moved into my new dorm, I am now staying at my brother's place during this vacation to spend time with my mom before she goes back to Dubai. Since my brother is quite possessive of my laptop (>,<), you may notice that my posts (and tea sipping) will be slow...hopefully I'll post daily once the vacation ends and I stay at my new place. I also hope to post more general daily reflections as I get pretty distracted here in the living room with my mom and brother (especially when both of them need the internet and when my brother keeps poking me sharing his 3D architectural designs with me! Though I have to admit, I somewhat envy his enthusiasm and constant creative productivity. Would love to share his designs with you tea mates, but I don't think he'd allow me).

Today, instead of deciding to eat from a restaurant during the time of breaking our fast in the evening (known as Iftaar), mom was in quite a cooking frenzy! :-D From 12pm till 5:45pm, me and her were in the kitchen the whole day cooking a variety of traditional Gulf Arabic foods. Actually, I just made the salad and dessert...although mom calls for my help, she tends to do everything herself as she is fast, steady, and gets things done the minute they need to get done while I'm slow and tend to take breaks in between. :-p However, since I'm not fasting and both she and my brother are, I was helpful enough with tasting the food for her, making sure that the salt and herb quantities were right.

Speaking of herbs, it was difficult to find what we actually wanted for our food, even in ethnic grocery stores, so the food didn't turn up the same way as it was meant to. I find it amazing how people can still cook the whole day while fasting despite the tempting aromas...especially from frying samosas (known as "Samboosa" in Gulf Arabic)!!

Anyhow, posted below are the pictures of some of the food we had along with their names, I'll share the ingredients with you once I actually attempt to make them myself. However, I don't feel like these really give the best idea of how Gulf Arabic food is really like. I couldn't take much pictures as mom was zipping around the kitchen and barely allowed me to. I just realized also (and unfortuantely) that I didn't take a picture of the main dish called 'Aish wa Mash (literally: Rice & Mung Beans...the kind my mom makes contains ground beef or lamb rolled into a ball along with other herbs, hers is among my favorite dishes!).

Food from the Gulf region of the Arab world is highly influenced by both Persian and Indian food. It is found homemade so don't expect to find a Gulf Arabic restaurant. I've never seen one myself, not even in my own country. I even read a Gulf Arabic cookbook (called Cardamom & Lime by Sara Al-Hamad) where the author says in the Introduction that she herself has only seen 2 such restaurants in the world (whatever Arabic food you may have eaten yourself from an Arabic restaurant is typically Mediterranean or North African...and no..."Iranian" food or "Persian" food are NOT "Arabic"! Although they both influenced one another greatly).

Left: The dessert called Farnee (rice pudding, also known as Muhalabiyyah...also found in Iran, Iraq, the Mediterrenean, and South America, but this doesn't have the rice grains and has more rose water, thus it is more of a match with the Persian version)
Right: Chicken Kofta stuffed with cheese (in this case Philadelphia cheese, we typically use Kiri cheese back home, but since that's a French brand, we couldn't find it here in America)
Below: Dates (in Arabic, each stage of date has its own specific name, in the photo, this date is called Tamer as it is in its last and most ripest stage. During Iftaar, people begin by eating dates to raise their blood sugar and iron after a day of fasting).

From your Tea Mate,
Reema :-)