Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This is why I do this

Having over an hour in the Denver airport to wait until my departure...I, of course, was meandering in and out of the stores seeing what silly items they had to sell.

One store in particular caught my eye, not for what was inside it or what it was called, but by the beautiful woman working behind the counter. She had medium brown skin, big dark eyes, a huge smile and a brillant bright green burka around her head. In the land of Cowboys, Indians and Rockies...she definitely stuck out.

So being who I am, I went right up to her and said. "Asalamaolecom" . She smiled and "Wa alaolecomasalam" me back. "How do you know how to greet me" she asked. And I said my usual in a twisted tongue way ( bc I never really know what to say ) " Well, bc its what I do. So tell me, where are you from...Africa?"

"Ethiopia" she said. And that. of course sparked my interest. "Salam! and Ama-say-ka-nan-do" I said with a giggle...which basically means hello and thank you"
She was so impressed with my Amharic and asked how I know so much about her culture.
Again, all I can say is "bc this is what I do. This is what I love...I LOVE YOU! I love where you are from. Ethiopia...what a magnificant country...the history, the food, the honey wine, the injara bread, the bright beautiful colors, the jazz and the people...gorgeous goreous people"
She was beeming with a smile and was almost speechless but asked, "My goodness (or ya allah- oh my god) how many times have you been to Ethiopia?
I said, "Never! But I go to Little Ethiopia any chance I get"

We started talking about the large Ethiopian communities in LA, Michigan, DC, Denver and NY...and I was sharing stories about how I would take my mom to an Ethiopian restaurant and she kept asking for a fork and they kept showing her the injara bread and how to use that as a fork...so funny!
...and the great music and jazz of Ethiopia.

And then I asked her about being Muslim in Denver and if she ever got any problems. "Yes of course" she said "I have many people come up to me and say mean things, and I keep telling them that in the Holy Qu'ran it says that we are not even supposed to kill a bug. The Muslims out there killing are not us and they are not following Islam"

I could tell this hit her in a deep place, as it did me as well.

This is the story I want to tell.
This woman's story of coming from Ethiopia, through Kenya to Denver.

Raising a family here and keeping her scarf on and her ethnic name tag clear so that everyone can see it.

Proud to be a Muslim from East Africa in Mid America. I am proud of who she is!

Her name was Zewditu: named after the Empress Zewditu. And to me, she is a queen.

This show, this concept of America's Gypsy..is for YOU, Zewditu!
Ama say Ka nan do ! Salam Salam Salam

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oklahoma Triva: Amazing Funny Facts

Here is a re-post of some funny Oklahoma Trivia and Interesting Facts
1. The bread twist tie was invented in Maysville.
2. The shopping cart was invented in Ardmore in 1936.
3. The nation's first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City in 1935.
4. The first Girl Scout Cookie was sold in Muskogee in 1917.
5. Cimarron County, located in the Oklahoma Panhandle, is the only county in the U.S. bordered by 4 separate states — Texas, New Mexico, Colorado & Kansas.
6. The Oklahoma State Capital is the only capital in the U.S. with working oil wells on its grounds.
7. Boise City, Okla., was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday, July 5, 1943, at 12:30am., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base, Texas, dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town, mistaking the city lights as target lights.
8. WKY Radio in Oklahoma City was the first radio station transmitting west of the Mississippi River.
9. The nation's first "tornado warning" was issued March 25, 1948 in Oklahoma City minutes before a devastating tornado. Because of the warning, no lives were lost.
10. Oklahoma has the largest Native American population of any state in the U.S.
11. The name 'Oklahoma' comes from two Choctaw words — okla meaning "people" and humma meaning "red." So the name means, "Red People." The name was approved in 1890.
12. Oklahoma has produced more astronauts than any other state.
13.  Oklahoma has more man-made lakes than any other state (including Caddo County's Fort Cobb Lake).
14. During the "Land Rush," Oklahoma City and Guthrie went from vast, open prairie to cities of over 10,000 in a single day.
15. The nation's first "Yield" traffic sign was erected in Tulsa on a trial basis.
16. The Pensacola Dam on Grand Lake is the longest multi-arched dam in the world at 6,565 feet.
17. The Port of Catoosa (just north of Tulsa) is the largest inland port in America.
18. The aerosol can was invented in Bartlesville.
19. Per square mile, Oklahoma has more tornadoes than any other place in the world.
20. The highest wind speed ever recorded on earth was in Moore Okla., on May 3, 1999 during the Oklahoma City F-5 tornado. Wind speed was clocked at 318 mph.
21. The Will Rogers World Airport and the Wiley Post Airport are both named after two famous Oklahomans, both killed in the same airplane crash.
And Oklahoma Towns Offer It All —

Love the Summer?
  Poolville, Oklahoma
  Sunray, Oklahoma
Want Something To Eat?
  Cookietown, Oklahoma
  Corn, Oklahoma
  Grainola, Oklahoma
  Hominy, Oklahoma
  Olive, Oklahoma
  South Coffeeville, Oklahoma
  Sweetwater, Oklahoma
  Why Travel To Other Cities? Oklahoma Has Them All!
  Cleveland, Oklahoma
  Orlando, Oklahoma
  Miami, Oklahoma
  Pittsburgh, Oklahoma
  Santa Fe, Oklahoma
  St. Louis, Oklahoma
  Chattanooga, Oklahoma
  Peoria, Oklahoma
  Burbank, Oklahoma
  Fargo, Oklahoma
Don't Forget The Wildlife!
  Bison, Oklahoma
  Buffalo, Oklahoma
  Deer Creek, Oklahoma
  Eagle, Oklahoma
  Elk City, Oklahoma
  Fox, Oklahoma
  Wolfe, Oklahoma
There's A Town Named After A Number:
  Fourty-One, Oklahoma
And A Town Whose Letters Don't Spell Anything:
  IXL, Oklahoma
For The Sportsman Who Wants To Get Away From It All...
  Fisherman's Paradise, Oklahoma
We Even Have A City Named After Earth's Only Satellite!
  Moon, Oklahoma
And A City Named After Our State!
  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

 Feeling A Bit Chilly?
  Cold Springs, Oklahoma
  Snow, Oklahoma
  Slick, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Is Full Of Love!
  Bigheart, Oklahoma
  Lovedale, Oklahoma
  Loveland, Oklahoma
  Lovell, Oklahoma
  Loyal, Oklahoma

Like To Read About The Presidents?
  Adams, Oklahoma
  Carter, Oklahoma
  Clinton, Oklahoma
  Fillmore, Oklahoma
  Grant, Oklahoma
  Jefferson, Oklahoma
  Johnson, Oklahoma
  Lincoln, Oklahoma
  Reagan, Oklahoma
  Roosevelt, Oklahoma
  Taft, Oklahoma
  Taylor, Oklahoma
  Washington, Oklahoma
  Wilson, Oklahoma

Other City Names In Oklahoma To Make You Smile...
  Bowlegs, Oklahoma
  Bugtussle, Oklahoma
  Bushyhead, Oklahoma
  Frogville, Oklahoma
  Hooker, Oklahoma
  Loco, Oklahoma
  Slapout, Oklahoma
  Slaughterville, Oklahoma

And Regardless What Side Of The Fence You're On...
  Gay, Oklahoma
  Straight, Oklahoma

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Kumbha Mela

I just experienced the Kumbha Mela in India!

The Kumbh Mela ("festival of the pot of nectar of immortality") is held every three years in each of four different locations, returning to each of four places every twelve years. It kind of confusing but here it goes...

An Ardh (half) Mela (festival) takes place six years after the Purna (full) Kumbh in each location.
 4 locations:
-Prayag (near the city of Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three rivers Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna and mythical Saraswati.
-Haridwar (in the state of Uttaranchal Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas.
-Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of Ksipra river.
-Nasik (in Maharashtra) on the banks of Godavari river.

Dates for the Kumbh Festival 
(every 12 years in 4 locations)
-In 2010, March-April, Kumbh Mela was held at Haridwar in the foothills of the Himalayas...just beautiful!
Filled with people of all colors, sizes, shapes and smells. They came from all over, Rajistan; decked out in their red turbons and saris, and the south...all tan from the glorious sun!

We were there on the main bathing date: April 14, 2010.

The basic point of the Kumbh Mela is for pilgrims to bathe in the Ganges River! GANGA MA!!! at certain sacred spots on certain auspicious days. A large tented city is erected and pilgrims stay at tents owned by Pandas (religious and spiritual guides) and at various ashrams and hotels. Others will just camp on the ground ... Some of these bathing days are designated "royal." On all the 10 major bathing dates, the naga sadhus (naked mendicants) will parade and bathe. We were along the ghat- steps that lead down to the water- and bathed with the beautiful families that performed Surya Namaskar - sun salutation- to the Holy Ganga

What a city Haridwar was!!

Haridwar is an ancient holy city of India, one of the seven holiest places to Hindus. The river Ganges enters the North Indian plains at Haridwar. The name of the city is "Dwar of Hari" or "Gateway to God." It is also known as Mayapuri, Kapila and Gangadwar. Hindu pilgrims and devotees gather at Haridwar to offer prayers on auspicious occasions. The water of River Ganga is considered so sacred at Haridwar that pilgrims carry the water back home- which I did and it is sitting on my alter right now .

The Kumbha Mela was the best moments of my life. I look forward to returning to India soon...and hope to be at the next Kumbh. Hari Hari Maha Dev!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


a little decoration for the hands :)

Ramana's Garden

A piece of heaven in Rishikesh. Ramana's Garden is a haven orphanage in the glorious foothills of the Himalayas. Indulge on the best organic salad and homemade vegetarian food, sip spicy chai, play with the kids and buy some artistic jewelry and paintings that the kids make...all proceeds go to their education. www.sayyesnow.org

Love the RIckshaws

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Favorite Part of the Day

Its always either a cab driver or bus boy who makes my day. Whether they are from Pakistan or Mexico...anywhere in the world, it does not matter...but they are not from the US. And most people dont even ask their name or acknowledge they exist...but they are vital to our existance. Ramon, Muhammad, Sammy and Ivan...they all have these small jobs that mean a big deal to their journey and family.

Tonight, when Muhammad picked me up in the cab...I greeted him with "Asalamaulecom" - knowing that anyone named Muhammad (PBUH) must be Muslim... and he replied "Waalecumasalam". As I was deep in conversation with my friend in the cab I heard him humming a tune of a song. I asked him what it was and he said "music from his country". "Where is that?" I asked. and he said Pakistan. "Oh joy! I just love Qawwali music!Especially Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan! He exlaimed..."that is who I was singing" and continued to sing his songs lounder and I chanted along when i could. We talked about Pakistan and the food and music, culture and people...living there and here. We talked about how I just got back from India and he was so happy for my trip there and spoke very highly of India.

What a treat. By the time I arrived at my destination..it was sad to part with my new friend. And he thanked me for being so kind, especially to his homeland.

All I could say was bismillah al-rahman al-rahim!

The "little people" are truly the blessed ones.

Go out and be an American Gypsy! Its lovely!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Road Trip to Hell on the Way to Heaven

From Delhi to Rishikesh: the trip was supposed to be 5 hours but ended up being 12 hours.
BUT...not even a million horns, heat exhaustion or bricks thrown in our windows could stop us!

A Taste of Allah in India

The first night I arrived in Delhi at 10pm I was picked up by Malik Muhammad from Kashmir and taken to the Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah area of town...just to start off the trip with a bang!

The best part was when I got to rip off a piece of my veil and had Malik tie it inside the mosque (since I could not enter being a woman). That signified my wish...which is completely for America's Gypsy!!! SO once that wish is fullfilled I will return to this shrine and donate money :) Happily!
ya hayyu ya qayyum

about this area in Delhi: " Nizamuddin Dargah (Urdu: نظام الدّین درگاہ ) (Hindi: निज़ामुद्दीन दरगाह) is the dargah (mausoleum) of one of the world's most famous Sufi saints, Nizamuddin Auliya. Situated in the Nizamuddin West area of Delhi, the dargah is visited by thousands of Muslims every week, and sees a fair share of Hindus, Christians and people from other religions. The tombs of Amir Khusro and Jehan Ara Begum are also located within the Nizamuddin Dargah complex, and Inayat Khan's tomb is just around the cornerThe neighborhood surrounding the dargah is named after the saint, and is divided into two parts along Mathura Road: Nizamuddin West where the Dargah complex and a lively market dominated by Muslim vendors is located, and Nizamuddin East, an upper-class residential area situated between Humayun's Tomb and the Nizamuddin Railway Station. The other important monuments in the Nizamuddin heritage area include Humayun's Tomb, Chausath Khamba, Mirza Ghalib's tomb, Barakhamba, Blue Gumbad at the Nizamuddin Circle and Lal Mahal."