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.