I have received many certificates in my life but this one was up there with my Bachelors, not because I had put in a lot of work but because it took a lot of strength for me to come this far.
A few weeks ago, there was an advertisement in the BSOQ group for the Black Excellence ball that was coming up. I considered buying a ticket to attend, but never acted upon this. A few days later I received an email stating that I was nominated for an award, from an anonymous person, and because of my nomination my attendance would be complimentary. So I purchased one ticket for my husband.
I was asked to submit a brief biography of myself to the organizer, The Brofessor. Once I submitted my bio, The Brofessor asked me to mention alopecia in my bio. That is when I realized I was being recognized for being a courageous women with Alopecia. My advocacy for women embracing their bald crown did not go un-noticed. I had impressed inspired someone and my heart was overflowing with humility and pride.
I went all out for my husband and myself. I purchased a dress but decided it wasn’t enough and decided to get a dress professionally made for myself and a jacket and pant suit made for Darryl. I called my girl Nazma, and she hooked me up with a beautiful henna design for my crown and glory. I have received many certificates in my life but this one was up there with my Bachelors, not because I had put in a lot of work but because it took a lot of strength for me to come this far. To be recognized as someone with courage is one of the biggest compliments I could have received.
For years, I was so ashamed and would never think of venturing outside uncovered. Like many other women who live with Alopecia, I was embarrassed more than anything. I still cover my head, mostly in Qatar- where hair is such a sense of pride and any deviation from normalcy is frowned upon-but it is not because I am embarrassed. It is because I don’t always want to be stared at like a zoo animal. I love to stand out but I prefer it be a choice. Alopecia is not a choice. But deciding when to reveal it, is MY choice. Embracing it, other than allowing it to take over my life, depress me and make me feel less than what I am, is MY choice. (There are some positives to having a bald head that I’ll keep to myself.)
But this post isn’t just about me. Many wonderful people were honored and awarded due to their work in Qatar, outside of Qatar and moves they are making. There were many professionals in attendance and not just Black. There were doctors, an Ambassador, a pastor, an opera singer (whom blessed us with a song), photographers, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, journalist and so much more! Even a young Achiever in the making was honored. You couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride being among such amazing people and hearing their stories. There was food, dancing, networking and an overall good time. Women shined and men were handsomely dressed in suits and ethnic attire.
The Black Excellence ball was a celebration of Greatness; a time to come together and say: WE SEE YOU! WE HONOR YOU! WE ARE HERE! And above all, WE LOVE YOU!
It is an event not to be missed. I know this event can only get bigger and better and I can’t wait to be in attendance next year!
I can’t even find the words I feel to describe this time of year here.
It’s almost Ramadan and this will be my first time seeing it celebrated from a Muslim country. Sure there are Muslims in the U.S.A that I know and yes they participate in Ramadan but I’m assuming it’s a little different from seeing it up close from the Middle East.
Since I am not Muslim, I will not try to educate you on the holiday but you can find more information by clicking here! These are just my observations…
11/05/17 (This is the way the date is written over here: day/month/year)
2 weeks before Ramadan: Today my school had a small celebration called ‘Alnafla’. I never heard of that before this week. The way it was explained to me, it’s like a countdown to Ramadan. The schools’ common areas were decorated, students wore their national dress and colors and brought in traditional food. All week, students bought in donations for Syria as well.
15/5/17- A Qatari speaker came to my class today to talk with my students about Ramadan. I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying but as they spoke in their native language, I grew a new found appreciation for the value this holiday must hold for them. I grew angry at how prayer has been taken out of the schools of my home country. Qatar has such pride in their religion, how could prayer in schools be bad? My students were so quiet at times and so engaged at others. I only wished I could comprehend.
20/5/17- Yesterday would be the last alcoholic brunch until Ramadan, so I decided to accept an invitation from the BSoQ group I am a member of on Facebook and join them for brunch. We went to Bubbalicious at the Westin. It was my first time having brunch there and it was definitely a party. People were yelling and dancing and alcohol was flowing. There was even a soul train line going through the restaurant with a bunny. I ate so much seafood and drank too much beer, wine and bubbly. I met some really nice people and will be more actively involved with this group. I had a ball hanging out with them. We were the last to leave the brunch and me and another girl got in trouble because we thought it would be fun to abandon our heels and adulthood and jump in a bouncy house in the middle of the hotel. Who does this? I’ll tell you- two drunk girls who were just enjoying life. In between being laughed at and recorded by a couple enjoying some food in the lobby and security waving us out, the air was let out of the bouncy house as well as the air out of our sails. I just hoped our shenanigans wouldn’t land us in bigger trouble. Afterwards we went to La Cigale hotel to smoke Shisha. I had another engagement to attend with some coworkers, too tipsy to drive, so I left my car at the hotel valet and took an uber to the third affair of the day which was at the Radisson Blu hotel. Since I was so late to that party, I hugged everyone, enjoyed another beer- you heard me- and we all hopped in a car headed someplace else. One of my girlfriends picked up my car from the other hotel and drove it to their house. After the fourth affair we went to my girlfriend Jennifer’s house where I crashed.
I usually do not drink that much because I hate over hangs and that is exactly what I had this morning. As I drove home, I prayed that I’d make it home without throwing up into my handbag. It was not one of my finer moments, but it was fun. Needless to say, I probably will not be drinking again, any time soon, so the QDC (liquor store) can stop sending me text messages of the last day to purchase alcoholic beverages before the store closes for Ramadan- about a month. Not today Satan. I don’t need or want any of your spirits and fruits. I wonder how many other people had a night like mine, trying to get that last celebration in before the holiday.
28/5/17- Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Mubarak is how people greet each other during this special month. (Sort of like Happy Easter or Merry Christmas) Ramadan officially started yesterday. I heard the sound of the Canon last night. It is a way they communicate that it is time to break the fast for the day and Iftar may begin.
During Ramadan, work hours are reduced for most people. For us teachers, work starts at 8:00am and ends at 1:00pm. This is also the school hours for students everyday except for Tuesday. On Tuesday, students get out at 12:00 pm. This is wonderful news. No more getting up at 5:00am for the rest of the school year, 3 weeks to go! Today was the first day, unfortunately, my body is so used to getting up that at 5:15 am I had to use the bathroom. I was so irritated at myself, but I managed to get back under the covers and fall asleep for another hour. It was lovely.
Adults are not allowed to eat or drink in public, not even in their car, from sun-up to sun-down. Many restaurants don’t even open. Fortunately, you can order take away from some places and delivery from others. You can get a fine if you are caught eating in public or even jail time, whether you are Muslim or not. It’s about respect and consideration for those who are fasting. You can eat and drink in private places, like your home. Yesterday, I went to the nail salon and was surprised that I was offered coffee and tea.
Children below 4th grade generally are not required to fast but they can. Of my 12 students that came to school today, 2 of them partook in lunch, the others claimed to be fasting. I made it clear to them, not to judge those who were not.
In the evening, most families have a huge meal, called Iftar. Some even give food away. Yesterday at the Corniche, police officers were giving away food.
I’ve heard that the malls stay open very late and if you go, it will be like Black Friday at 2 in the morning, as parents purchase gifts for their kids for the end of Ramadan celebration, called Eid. I’ll let you know my experience when I go late at night. My son and I went to ‘The Mall’ yesterday and it was an absolute ghost town.
It is such a delight seeing men run to the mosque for morning and evening prayer, some running into the mosque and some simply praying outside in groups. I can’t even find the words I feel to describe this time of year here. It is really something.
Last night, my friend Jennifer held the first Iftar. We enjoyed a light dinner and each other’s company. I have 3 more Iftar’s that I will be attending this week including one with my job and another with friends from the BSoQ facebook group. Ramadan is indeed a special time in Qatar. Sadly, I will not be here to see the whole thing play through as I will be headed on some more adventures on my way home to the states.