Thursday, August 18, 2011

Night 18- Three Cups of Tea

Finding a mosque on a street named "Industrial Drive" is just as difficult as you may think. The Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs in Rolling Meadows, IL is nestled between office suites and warehouses and if it weren't for the line of cars turning into this mosque, I would have been driving up and down this road several times looking for it.

I arrived a bit early so I decided to do some exploring. At the entrance of the prayer hall there sat a basket of about a dozen different varieties of attar oils. I definitely opened each one and tested them one-by-one. Outside of the main hall, there is a common hall where kids were running around. At the back of the building, they put up a Ramadan tent in which there were plenty of tables and chairs where they serve iftar and snacks during tarawih. I went into the tent and saw three or four clearly Hyderabadi elderly men sitting on a round table discussing not religion nor politics, but National Public Radio (NPR) in Dakhni Urdu. I noticed two tea percolators with the ready indicator light on and quite honestly could have gone for some light caffeine at the moment.

Ramadan Tent
"Chai ke cup-aah kidhar hain? (Where are the tea cups?)" I asked hesitantly.

One of the men pointed to the cups and continued bashing the guest that was speaking on NPR earlier in the day. This was by far the best cup of chai I have ever had that came out of a percolator. The milk was already cooked in with it so all I had to do was sweeten it up a bit. I sat down and sipped it until the Isha adhan began.
The orange/red henna-dyed bearded Imam led us in Isha prayers with a loud voice and to top that, the highest volume setting possible on the two giant speakers fit for a mosque on a street called "Industrial Drive." So loud that you could hear his heavy breathing in the mic as well. Tarawih was led by another hafiz with a softer, melodious voice which balanced out with his otherwise lengthy recitation. After eight rakats, a rather large bunch of men headed to the Ramadan tent while the rest continued with their prayers. It was like a second Iftar in the tent all over again with a comparatively festive mood with people nibbling on pakoray, samosay, sipping chai, and conversations. I made my second cup of tea and headed back to the prayer hall to finish up tarawih. After finishing witr, most of the people in the prayer hall proceeded to the tent to get their fried food and chai fix... as did I for my third cup of tea (for the road).

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