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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gotta love the Mom 'n Pop

Do you ever wish, out here in the 'burbs, that you could find that small town feel even in our busy area? I caught a taste of it recently in my own suburb - and I liked it.

I've recently been looking into the countless Halal sellers that are within a mile of my house. I knew living in a diverse neighborhood would come in handy.

And this led me to a delightful experience. After my online search I chose a Muslim grocer which I thought might be my best bet, and off we went. My son and I entered the small Indo-Pak store and went straight to the smiling couple behind the counter. The woman oooh'd and ahhh'd over Asher as I bravely summoned my courage and asked "Is the meat in this store Halal? Could you explain what that means?"

The husband graciously gave me a tutorial on meat that is Halal which, including my follow up questions and considering the language barrier, took a bit of time. They asked me "is your husband Muslim?" I was so obviously a young white American with a young white American child that I worried they would feel I was not being honest in some way, walking into their store and asking for a lesson in their food customs. So I explained that I wanted to honor God in the food that I ate and was hoping to learn from them.

I loved this couple. I wish I could have them over to my house. They were grandparent-types, friendly and hospitable. They answered my questions and offered my toddler some hard candy. After I turned it down the man walked away, perused his aisles, and came back with an entire package of cookies (energy biscuits from India!!) to offer. We happily accepted, but the gentleman refused my attempts to pay. Apparently, I was given a gift in exchange for taking their time, friendliness, and tutelage. I offered; they refused; I offered; they refused. I've never gotten the knack for how long this exchange is supposed to go on, or who is supposed to be the first to back down. I gave in and gave them hearty thanks.

As we turned to go, I felt discontented about having such a great experience, a package of cookies, and having given nothing in return. Half way out the door the obvious answer struck me - I couldn't pay for the cookies, but I could buy something else. Walking down the three short aisles I selected a box of green tea and a can of chickpeas. This gave me an opportunity to chat more with the couple - about my trips to India, about her chicken briani, about my interest in not only my Christian faith, but Islam and others as well. The woman nodded, telling me that her father had read the Qu'ran, the Bible, and the Hindu scriptures. We commented on the peace that comes when different peoples understand each other. We smiled. My son chomped on his cookies. I promised to be back with a meat order soon.

I'm not certain that eating Halal is something I'll continue to pursue but its a start for now - a baby step. Either way, this step was a blessing to me. I live in the suburbs, not the city, not the country. I don't associate a personality with my grocery store or my bank or my gas station. But I wish I did. This was a taste not only of India but of rich, full, real life - life with community.


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