110V/220V illiterate

110V/220V illiterate

I was always bad at math. I hate adding things in my head. I get flustered when I am out shopping and have to figure out how much change I am getting back. I literally spend a few minutes in line calculating slowly so I am ready when it is my turn. And don’t even ask me to figure out a percentage. It’s a lost cause.

You laugh, but it is true. Just like some people are bad with words, I am bad with numbers. And I am also bad at figuring out this voltage issue since coming to Qom.

I was so used to just plugging things in and not worrying about adapters or converters, etc. The first time we moved here we burned out a battery charger and a rice cooker. I kid you not.

Now it’s been 3 years and I still have to ask my husband whether I am plugging things in the right way.

He has tried to explain it to me, and it makes sense when he says it. But when I have to do it myself, I start double guessing and over thinking, and end up with a burned out Magic Bullet.

Yes, I did. I killed my Magic Bullet. And all because I plugged it in to the 220V outlet on the converter instead of the 110V one.

It all made sense in my head, and I turned it on to make hummus and after one whirr, it died. Converter, and all.

The silver lining? That now I really understand what I am supposed to do.

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A stroller of intrigue and mystery

A stroller of intrigue and mystery

I never knew my double stroller from the states would be such a fascinating object here in Qom. But sometimes when we are walking with our side-by-side double stroller on the streets of Qom, I feel like we are walking with a celebrity.

Heads turn, adults excitedly point, children stare…… it’s interesting, to say the least.

Some locals have even peeked under the canopies to see what we have. Yes, two kids. Hence the double stroller.

My husband thinks that people get nosy because they think we have twins. But clearly you can see my 3.5-year-old daughter and my 1.5-year-old son – are not twins.

It has gotten to the point where we sometimes don’t travel with the double stroller. It’s worth it not to be stared at constantly when it’s not much except a side-by-side stroller.

But I have to remind myself, that although Iranian culture is very warm and friendly, it can be a bit on the intrusive side.

I remember a winter when we were walking towards the haram of Hazrat Masooma, when Marium’s jacket hood must have slipped off. She was being stubborn and didn’t want it back on. I just pulled over the canopy and kept walking. But everyone stopped us!

“Her hood! She’ll catch a cold.”

“She’s going to get sick!”

At first we would politely oblige, but each time Marium would make a bigger fuss. I told my husband we will just politely ignore them. It’s not worth it!

I have to keep reminding myself: They mean well, really.

I got pretty excited when I saw a local baby gear shop with a side-by-side double stroller in the window. Hooray! Now we won’t be the only ones with this “weird” contraption.

I can’t wait to go back to my single stroller days….

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Ziyarat to Mashhad, and a distraction

Sometimes I wonder how much different living in Qom would be if we had come here right after we got married. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here with my kids, but naturally our concerns about moving and settling were very much centered around our kids. Especially my 4-year-old at the time. She was quite fond of her grandparents, aunts and uncle, the “Red Circle Store” (Target), our local Islamic center and her little friends she would meet there.

For that reason we were constantly trying to find ways to keep our eldest happy, while teaching her that less is more, and that distance doesn’t mean you don’t have that person in your life anymore. FaceTime became our new obsession, and she slowly started enjoying certain parts of life in Qom. Like the lights on the streets, for example.

So for me and my husband, ziyarat at the haram of Hazrat Masooma e Qom or at Imam Raza’s haram in Mashhad, was more of a lesson in keeping kids entertained and not whiny. And after a few visits we learned: if we wanted a moment of spiritual peace at the haram, the best way was to do it ourselves.

As a family we have gone to Mashhad four times, yet in the past we have never done anything else except visit the haram and maybe take a few walks to the local bazaars.

This year we decided to spend an extra day and take the kids to the Wakilabad Zoo in Mashhad. And it was a great experience.

It was our first time at a zoo in Iran, and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. There were plenty of animals, pony rides, a bouncy house, and all made more perfect with the nice sunny weather. Admission was 4 tomans per person, and although the kids didn’t need any food, there were plenty of food/snacks/chai stands around the zoo.

One con was the distance of the zoo from the haram area. It was about 30 minutes by taxi, and a return taxi trip cost us 30 tomans. Although we were told of a Metro station that would take us to the zoo, but since we had a stroller to tote around, we just didn’t bother.

While it is important to help the kids understand the religious aspect of ziyarat, they also deserve to be kids. And because of that we made our daily trips to the haram as a family, and then my husband would go on his own, and I would go on my own. It’s especially necessary for us to make time and create our own spiritual breaks.

InshAllah, if you haven’t done so, I hope you all get a chance to visit the zoo in Mashhad and enjoy the experience.