Remona Aly
Saturday 07 May 2016 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

A Family Holiday Not Made in Heaven

Our first – and last – tailored family holiday: Pause for Thought, Radio 2 Chris Evans Breakfast Show


I’m casting my mind back to a time of anti-nostalgia when I had the absurd notion that my family should go away for a quality family holiday. 

I was 19 and thus far the five of us had only gone on trips to my parent’s native India. But getting ‘Delhi belly’ and touring the endless living rooms of distant relatives – is not my idea of a dream getaway. 

So, after my passive aggressive nagging, we bundled into the local travel agent to book our first – and last – tailored family holiday. 

I chose Tunisia as our destination and wanted to visit one of the oldest places of worship in the Muslim world: the Grand Mosque of Kairouan. This influential mosque was established in the 7th century – less than 40 years after Prophet Muhammad’s death. It was a sacred place, but it was also situated in the hottest part of Tunisia and it was during the hottest part of the year. It was heat upon heat. “You’ve brought me to hell!” were my dad’s exact words, as he stood in what some call the fourth holiest place in Islam, mopping the beads of sweat from his frowning face. It was definitely a mad dogs and Englishmen moment.

Our fellow tourists looked on bemused as my family bickered, got lost, and blamed each other for not asking for directions. But even with all that, it was a memorable holiday.

Family is about the good, the bad and the ugly. We know each other inside out, upside down, back to front, but we always love each other, warts and all. 

An American Muslim community activist called Hanan Bilal said: “We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. And love starts at home with our family.” 

Family can be my biggest test, but also my greatest blessing. My first lesson in love starts with them. Embracing the imperfections isn’t easy, but it’s more real than chasing a dream holiday.