Self Expression Magazine

Around Arabia in 20 Days: Reunions Part 1

Posted on the 16 November 2013 by Eternalmusing @HanaMuses
Stepping out of the plane was like walking into a blow drier turned on high heat. I immediately missed the cool breezes I left behind in Michigan and had a longing to get back to them. I shed out of my sweater as I walked, my nerves everywhere as we were that much closer to meeting relatives. Once we claimed our bags, we headed out to the welcoming gate as I liked to call it. A sea of faces staring eagerly at every person that walked out through the doors, hoping it was their loved ones. We pushed forward until we saw an eager wave towards the back. My uncle. Moments later I was buried in hugs and tears, from person to person between cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, all cooing admirations while ushering us to the cars. I clung to my uncle the most. Uncle Maher. He was one my favorite people ever.
Walking outside, I had no idea how I was supposed to breathe in this air. It was hot and humid. I bet I could have made scrambled eggs on the hood of a car. 
I rode with my two uncles, both of them my mom's younger brothers. I listened to them chat for a little while, not really sure what to say. It wasn't until they addressed me that I spoke. True, I understood them perfectly, but the hard part was actually answering them. I hadn't realized how bad my Arabic had gotten, and I supposed it was because I had nowhere to practice it. We went to Syria every summer for as long as I could remember. But it had been three years since I had been around people who only spoke Arabic. Needless to say it was difficult to retain words when speaking to them. 
When people think UAE, they think of Dubai. My aunt lives in Sharjah, though, which is about 30 minutes away from Dubai. Sharjah has a higher concentrations of Arabs. The roads reminded me of Syria, and a strange nostalgia thrummed through me. Here I was, with relatives in a familiar-looking place, yet we were hundreds of miles away meeting in a country where one of my aunts happened to live. At least we were all together again. 
While driving around, I saw little to no pedestrians and the city felt hazy. I think no one could stand around in the heat longer than a few minutes. There were many cars though. So many, in fact, that I could hardly see the road in front of us. "No one's out on the streets," I remember commenting aloud. "You should've been here last week, Khaal," my uncle said, "It's like you brought the heat with you. No one can walk around in this." Khaal. Short for Khalo, which meant "uncle." I liked the ring to it. That use of names seems to be an Arab thing. Since I call him Khalo, he calls me Khalo. Similar to how my mom calls me mama. It's like they call you what they want you to call them. The thought amused me when thinking about it, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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