United American Muslim Day Parade
If you happen to be in New York toward the end of September, be sure to participate in the United American Muslim Day Parade. Sponsored by the Muslim Foundation of America, Inc. (MFA), the parade is held annually on the last Sunday of September.
My Day in D.C.
On my recent trip to USA, I planned to spend an entire day exploring the National Mall in Washington D.C. I'd heard amazing stories of the museums, monuments and exhibits available in the country's capital and I was beyond excited. Little did I know that one day would not be near enough to appreciate the beauty that is The National Mall.
I started my trip at 7 a.m., as I boarded the train from home to the nation's capital with as many flyers and brochures as I could possible carry. The ride took a little more than an hour and gave me ample time to read up on the exhibits that were currently displayed. As I walked out of Smithsonian Train Station and began my day's journey, I couldn't help but smile at the thought of the many historic events that have occurred in my surrounding; the land where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech, where great leaders of our country have been inaugurated, where laws that shape the U.S.A. are made. As I stood on the grassy lawn in between the Washington Monument and the Capital Building, and surrounded by monuments and museums all around me, a strong feeling of national pride overcame me.
The National Mall was built with a purpose to provide a dignified and symbolic setting for governmental structures, museums and memorials. It was envisioned by Pierre Charles L'Enfant in 1791 but the plan was not put into complete effect till over 170 years later in 1965. During that time, the National Mall underwent various landscaping and redesigns. It was on October 15th, 1966 that the National Mall was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A majority of the museums and gardens in the National Mall are maintained by the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution is the world's leading research compound and comprises 19 museums, galleries and the National Zoological Park. The museums have over 136 million items in its collections which focus on various subjects including history, space, design and art. Many of the buildings that the galleries and museums are housed in are architectural landmarks themselves; this also includes a castle, which is the main Smithsonian Institution Building and houses the Information Center.
Standing in the Smithsonian Information Center, the historic significance of the structure was overwhelming. The attendant at the Information Desk was rather friendly and there were brochures and exhibition highlights for all the museums and events that were currently being displayed. There are times when certain exhibitions are closed for renovation. I quickly learned that I wouldn't have the time to explore all of the museums thoroughly let alone a handful of them; I grabbed brochures of museums that I was sure I wanted to visit and started on my journey.
I started at the National Museum of Natural History; the museum displays exhibitions on early human origins, evolvement of mammals and the development of world cultures. Greeted by the skeletal display of a large dinosaur, the Natural History Museum is a wonderful place to explore. The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins displayed how humans evolved over 6 million years and shows detail as to how they responded to a shifting world. One of my favorite sections was the Butterfly Pavilion which allowed me to enter an artificial habitat created for various species of butterflies. Tickets to the Butterfly Pavilion are $6.00 per adult, which I felt was a small price to pay since all of the entrance fees to Smithsonian Museums are absolutely free.
After leaving the Natural History Museum, I decided to go to the National Air and Space Museum, an exhibition of hundreds of aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, rockets and other flight-related artifacts. This museum was absolutely amazing - filled with flights designed by the Wright brothers and displaying the Hubble Space Telescope test vehicle. The museum houses a planetarium which displays various shows on the sun, stars and space. I spent hours exploring the museum with a childlike infatuation, and if I hadn't left due to my tight schedule, I might still be in there now.
Hungry from my exciting morning, I wandered on to the lawn of the National Mall. There were several food-carts placed throughout that carry the Halal logo, and they offer a variety of options such as Halal friendly hot dogs, nachos, burgers and other fast foods that Washington D.C. is famous for. I walked down the street looking for something to eat when I came across a Halal friendly stand that sold pizza. While helping myself to a large, cheesy slice of pizza, I had a chat with the owner who hailed from India. Him and his business partner have owned a food stand in the National Mall for a better part of ten years, he tells me. His partner hails from Lebanon and together they offer an eclectic mix of skewered meats, biriyanis and American fast food to the 24 million visitors who come to the National Mall annually. He talks to me of the consistency of the National Mall - the museums, the exhibitions, the gardens, the visitors and the events on the lawn. "Every month, we celebrate something new", he says with an accent that hasn't faded over the years. I couldn't agree with him more.
I said good-bye to my new friend at the food-cart and headed back to the Metro. Deciding to spend the remainder of my day at the National Zoo, I took the train and got off at the Woodley Park - Zoo Station. The Smithsonian Zoological Park houses an extensive cat house, ape house, bird house and a wonderful elephant house among other things. Known for its Giant Panda Habitat, the zoo is home to the lovable pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. There were various events on display, since it was toward the end of summer, and everyone wanted one last sunny stroll with the fun-loving animals. I was able to feed the birds and pet animals in the farm barn. Having visited this particular zoo since my childhood, I felt completely at home roaming about with the animals.
The Smithsonian Zoological Park allows visitors to "Adopt a Species". The money given during an adoption contributes to the necessities of that particular species, and contributors are given a personalized certificate, a plush of the adopted species, a photo of the adopted species and an animal fact sheet. It's a wonderful program to assist your favorite animal and I decided to adopt a Sumatran Tiger.
Tired and excited about the long, adventure-filled day I had, my plush Sumatran Tiger and I rode the train home, smiling the entire way.
Celebrating Independence Day - The Halal-Friendly Way
The 4th of July is here and families across the nation are preparing for barbecues, picnics and most importantly, fireworks. Muslim living in the U.S.A. can participate in Independence Day activities as a family and a community by following a few steps.
Best Kept Secret - US Travel Destination Contest
Here are all the entries submitted for the "Best Kept Secret - US Travel Destination Contest" we ran in October/november/Decmebr of 2011. Some very interesting ideas to consider for your next holiday!
One of the best things about eating in New York is that you can easily find food that will fit into your budget
In the past few years, the halal restaurants & food outlets has grown exponentially in New York; from right upscaling dining to halal food carts, there are numerous options for halal friendly dining.
Located at the mouth of the Hudson River, New York is one of the most popular cities in the United States. The city is the centre of culture, media, fashion, art and finance and a great place to spend some exciting time. It is also called as the city that never sleeps due to the hustle and bustle that encapsules this energetic city.
About The Narrow's Trek, USA
The Narrows is an adventurous hiking track in the Zion National Park. The hike stretches in a section of the canyon on the North Fork of the Virgin River. The Narrows is one of the best hikes on the Colorado Plateau. The hike is located upstream of the main Zion Canyon. The hike traverses a distance of over 16 miles and takes about 13 hours.