In a nutshell. In Chicago.

AssalamuAlaikum from Chicago! Did I mention I’m in Chicago? Right, sorry.

So, as part of the unexpected life changes in our lives we’re in Chicago at the moment.  Don’t worry, I still live in Dubai, but we’re here to see an Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome specialist, and by we I mean me, myself, and all three of my kids. ALL of them. On an airplane (are we there yet?) in those tiny seats (can we go home now?) with those tiny TV’s (issa iPad inna seat?) and those messy easily-spillable servings of kid-unfriendly food that were actually very tasty, thank you Turkish Airlines!

It was like the fight that wouldn’t end. We got onto a plane. We slept, we woke up, we were still on a plane. The kids cried to get off the plane, but we were still on the plane. Khalid asked where the bedrooms in the plane were.  I hadn’t the heart to tell him they were less than a hundred feet away physically but a million miles away financially, so I told him there weren’t any and everyone slept in their seats.

Iman had a proper sobbing meltdown and needed to be cradled to sleep like a 30 pound infant, so she and I napped together in my seat in one big heap on exhaustion and flannel blankets.

HF won the pillow of the flight award, for sleeping bolt upright with not one, but two people sleeping with heads in his lap. One of those heads was mine. The other was usually Musfira’s.

Khalid’s only rest came during the three hours Iman spent sleeping on top of me, when he was able to turn sideways across her chair and simply shut down from exhaustion. He woke up with a bruised shoulder.

So how was the flight? Alhamdulillah, very well considering how many things could have gone wrong but didn’t.  No one got hurt, sick, or lost. Everyone made it to the bathroom on time. Yes, there were LOTS of tears and sighing and yawning and requests to go home already, but it was a learning experience: we learned that we don’t like flying.

But we do like cousins. My kids have five cousins here in the US that they met for the first time yesterday, and they spent the day in gleeful somersaults, toy exploration, cereal-eating and exploring things like “grass” and “clouds” in the great suburban outdoors. My poor little desert-dwellers, they kicked their shoes off in glee expecting to be running on the soft, yellow sand that cushions the ground beneath play equipment in Dubai. Instead, they found piles of pokey, scratchy wood and ran gingerly back for their shoes.

“Momma, iss rocks?” Musfira asked, holding out piece of a wood-chip.

“No dear, it’s wood-chip.”


“Because it’s softer than the ground. It’s like what Marty has in the bottom of his cage.”

Musfira looked unconvinced. I pressed on.

“Hey, it’s like we’re giant hamsters and the park is a hamster cage… yay?”

Musfira blinks and the gears start turning. “HAMSTOS??” she squeals, and runs off to collect piles of woodchamp. “YAY!”

Khalid is slightly less impressed with America so far. I took him to use the bathroom in my elder brother’s house for the first time, and gave him an orientation on how to use the lota.

“See Khalid, this is called a lota. You need to fill it up before you use the bathroom, otherwise if you sit down to go pee first then you might find the lota empty and how will you wash yourself then?”

“Why is this here?” Khalid asks, with genuine concern, “Have water pipes not yet been invented in North America?”

“I was wondering the same thing dear, but most people don’t use water here, so they’re not usually installed in bathrooms.”


“That’s a discussion for another time dear.”

Speaking of bathroom culture shock, Iman had to use a porta-potty at the park yesterday, and it was a new and amazing and awful experience for her. “MOMMA!” She called out from across the park, “That tiny room has a little toilet in it! But it has no water, no sink, and nothing but hand sanitizer. So I cleaned myself with sanitizer, is that ok?”

“It’s good enough for now dear, let’s wash you when you get home.”

Oops, it’s almost six am now. Time to pray Fajr and start rousing my tired lil world travellers.



Abez is a 50% white, 50% Pakistani, and 100% Muslim. She is also chronically ill and terminally awesome. She is the ever-lovin Momma of: - Khalid, a special little boy with autism - Iman, a special little girl with especially big hair -Musfira, an especially devious baby Spoiler, Abez is also Zeba Khan on

  1. Sumaiya

    I found myself laughing out loud amidst a serious work while sitting in my office. Yeah, the bathroom culture can be terrible. We had an official training in a US-based hotel for a week and I would carry waterbottle into the washroom saying to myself “Glad tiding to the strangers”. Lol.

  2. Owl

    Ah yes. The good luck pot. I do not miss it.

    And pliz to not let Iman clean herself with hand sanitizer. Imagine the burns.

    Come home soon. I miss you. 🙂

  3. saadia

    These are infact blessings and at the same time challenges of motherhood. Travelling with kids is never less than an adventure.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: