Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Confessions of a Manhattan Hijabi Part I

Well, I guess a big confession is in order.

I did not really want to move to New York from Dallas just like that. I literally dragged my feet, and didn't want to change my life style.

Afterall, in Dallas I had it all. A TEXAS size lifestyle with a TEXAS size home and everything that came with it. We lived in an absolutely gorgeous 6 bedroom /5 bath home. 2 separate living areas, 2 separate dining areas, and an office. A spacious backyard with the biggest trampoline you could imagine. Our home was right out of a fairtayle. Oh wait, it gets better. This home was my parents home. They lived downstairs and we lived upstairs. With a busy, over full time working husband, I had help from my parents 24/7 with raising my girls. If I wanted to go out to exercise, shop, eat, or watch a movie with friends, I could just snap my fingers and it was done. I never had a worry because I could leave my kids with my wonderful parents.

On top of all that, we had a housekeeper who was a sweet heart. Anything you needed, she would do it right away, and with a smile on her face. If mom wasn't home, she was the one who could take care of my kids, just as good as me.

In Dallas, the lifestyle is kind of isolated. Imagine lots of big land. Everything is spacious. The homes, the stores, the parking lots. Driving someplace and not finding parking, or having to stand in line for hours at the grocery store was never an issue.

Fast forward to 2009: imagine a mom with 2 kids, an overtime working husband, in the biggest and most crowded city ever! It was scary. I knew noone. Making friends was not my problem, I had quite alot of work to do. But incase of an emergency I had absolutely no one to call!

Our lifestyle completely changed ofcourse. We were now in a very nice yet very small apartment. The size of our 2 bedroom/2 bath apartment, was the size of our guestroom in Dallas!

My 5 shelf walk-in pantry filled with Costco grocery overload had now become the tiniest cabinet I had ever seen!

My Dallas walk-in, sleep-in, live-in closets had now been replaced with a foot-in closet!

Oh yes!

My first year in the city was absolutely terrifying. For someone who drove around the block to buy bread, I had to walk 10 blocks to get to my daughter's school without a car! Oh No!

The oxymoron was, I had a car, however, I could not drive it because there was no place to park the car.

Bring in the rain and the snow, I barely survived in the city.

At first I tried to play the part. I noticed all the New Yorkers wore Hunter Rain boots. So I bought a pair. All the strollers had to be covered with a rain cover. Bought that too.

But my first raining cats and dogs day in the city, trying to walk in rainboots, while pushing a stroller up hill against the wind, and trying to hold on to the umbrella at the same time was a complete failure.  I was a mess! Late to pick up my older daughter from school, I could not move an inch. All odds were against me. While I tried to hold on to my umbrella that had now turned in to a mini sail boat and was pulling me against the wind I yielled "I hate this city!!!". A polite woman passing by stopped and asked if I needed help. I was no New Yorker. I was a southern girl who missed her life and couldn't make it in such a harsh city.
All I could do is scream "I hate this city!!!!".

Well, rain was the least of my problems at the time. Wait till it snowed! When it snowed, you needed snow gear. You could not survive without snow boots and snow proof everything.

Now how to fit all that in to your closet, that was another issue.

There were days I absolutely hated living in the city. I would think "what were we thinking? Who would give up everything we had, all the comforts, only to pay more to be miserable in this city".

I would regularly have nightmares about what if something happened to me and my kids were stranded at the school. What if something happened in the subway. What would I do, who would I call. I had no one!

My biggest worry was not being able to pick my kids up from school, or being late to pick them up.

In Dallas because I could do drive-thru pick ups and drive-thru drop offs (just like starbucks) I could step on the gas if I was at the other end of town, and speed to get there.

But in Manhattan, when push comes to shove I had to run! Which meant I had to walk around in my nike's 24/7. So much for being fashionable. I had to kiss my heels good-bye!

It was like a life I never knew. I could no longer carry a purse, because I would have to have both hands free at all times, to jump on the bus, get on the subway, walk down the street with my girls.

It wasn't that easy to walk on the street either. You could run into crazy people who come up to you and start talking. And at all times you had to watch your step because Manhattan is the land of dogs. With that comes dog poop. You literally have to hop over things and make zigzags.

None of it made sense to me. To leave behind the most perfect life style, to leave the cleanest city I know, to leave behind a well known Islamic community. Only to pay 5 times more money to live a decent life in Manhattan, where we rarely see Muslims. What for? Why?

I just didn't get it! Until now...

Stay tuned for part 2


  1. I am very curious... hope we don't have to wait too long! :))))

  2. Im still looking for an islamic community to be a part of. I came here to NY from DC. Check out the Mecca Center on 43rd they are really nice and have lots of events and classes (affordable) to go to sis. Its a big adjustment. SHop for groceries out of NY to save money.

    Dog poop! Come to the bronx our dog poo is worse then yours lol I am a hopscotch champion (no one is allowed to wear shoes in my home)

  3. @edibe I hope so too, ;-)

    @Is-za LOL!

  4. I totally understand the poop part. I live in E. Harlem and there are like landmines everywhere. LOL

  5. @Angel Jewelz I never thought this would be a topic on my blog. LOL!

    On another note, I looked at your blog,I was so happy to hear that you recently started wearing hijab, only a few weeks ago? Wow Angel! Congrats to you! We will definitely feauture you on our New Hijabi section. I'd love to hear all about the process. We love to hear inspirational stories.

    Welcome to HijabiTopia!

  6. Mashallah about your giant house in Dallas! I had no idea there were 6 bedroom houses even. I hope those bedrooms were big though. Based on your other posts I thought you fit into New York so easily.