Sunday, June 29, 2003
It’s been a lazy and yet productive Sunday today. I woke at one in the afternoon with Aniraz poking me and saying, ‘This is your one-o’clock poke-up call!” And my brain was like ‘zzzzzzzz….pppbbb?…rrrrr!’ (that’s the sound of the brain’s engine going from sleeping (0mph) to running (60mph)) and then I realized I had work in half an hour. (commute time: 20 min)
Don’t you just love it when that happens? There’s nothing like a bit of last-minute panic to keep you in good form. I now know that I am capable of getting dressed and leaving for work in ten minutes, with the help of Aniraz of course. It’s all a very precise, not unlike the work a pit-crew does in the Indi 500 or Grand Prix.
At exactly one, Aniraz pokes me and then rushes downstairs to make me a cup of coffee while I run into the bathroom to wash my face. I get out of the bathroom, throw on the first clean jilb I lay hands on and run down the stairs (thankfully without breaking my ankle this time). Aniraz is there at the bottom of the stairs with a cup of coffee. I grab it and skull it and then quickly pull up the documents I need printed on the computer. Aniraz prints them out while I go put on my scarf. My father has, in the mean time, set lunch out on the table and I rush to the table and eat standing up, run back to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and then grab the car keys, Aniraz tightens the bolts on my tires with a pneumatic drill and then I run out to the racetrack…errr…work.
Due to the dedicated and kind service of Aniraz, I made it to work with three minutes to spare! So three cheers for my pit crew, Hip! Hip! JazakAllah! Hip! Hip! JazakAllah!
I don’t normally work on Sunday, but today was the first class with a new student who couldn’t make it yesterday and so asked to reschedule for today. I may be Muslim (maybe? Definitely!) but after living with a Fundamentalist Christian mother (hi Mommy!) for all my life, I have a mental hang-up about working in Sundays. I almost said no to rescheduling on Sunday because my brain was like, ‘Nope, no work on Sunday. Gotta keep the Sabbath holy, you know.’ Then the other part of my brain (the one that makes sense) said, ‘Hey moron, your Sabbath is on Friday.’
So today I got a new student, and lost one at the same time. My oldest student (not in age, but duration of study) is discontinuing lessons and I’m actually rather sad. He was the most advanced, and we got to read all kinds of great things and have interesting discussions about politics and stuff. You can’t really do that with a student who is only intermediate, because although their vocabulary is pretty good for an ESL student, it’s not broad enough to include the words for concepts like duplicity, the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction and imperialism. It’s not that they don’t know them in their own languages, it’s just that the conversation is limited to the vocabulary they have in English.
I have that same problem speaking Urdu. Though my brain may be grown-up (or a least masquerading as an adult) my tongue in Urdu is still a kid’s tongue. I lived in Pakistan from when I was ten to when I was thirteen, and that’s when I learned Urdu, and my vocabulary is still stuck there. I can carry on a simple conversation, but my vocabulary is so limited that when it comes down to talking politics or religion or philosophy, I either call my dad in for translation or become so frustrated that I give up and start talking about the weather instead. You know, just last week I learned the Urdu words for repair, coalition, and con-artistry. (marammat, mahaz, nausarbaazi) Before that I would’ve said sahih karna, jamaat and chor. (correct, gathering, thief) They’re not really the same you know. You can repair a car, but not necessarily correct it.
What else is up? I dunno. Oh yeah, once I had my nose knocked crooked by a flying loaf of frozen raisin bread. My big brother and I were sword fighting in the kitchen. My sword was the knife sharpener (it’s a long, dull piece of stone with a handle, I wouldn’t DREAM of taking a knife to either of my brothers, oh no…mwahahaaaa) and his sword was a loaf of raisin bread from the deep freezer. (En guarde! Thrust! Parry! Ouch, Touché!) So we were sword fighting in the kitchen, which is fairly routine in my house, and then he lifted the bread above his head and started whipping it around in the air over his head like a battle axe. Well, the kitchen wasn’t very big, or maybe the bread wasn’t very small, but I got hit in the nose with a loaf of bread that was harder than a rock.
And the moral of this story?
Friends don’t let brothers wield raisin bread. Something like that anyway.
Friday, June 27, 2003
Instant English Instructor: Just add water.
Well, it was raining and pouring on my way to work today. That wouldn’t have been a problem except that I was going to work on my father’s motorcycle. (!!!!) My father and I were about halfway to the house where I was going to teach, when a drop of rain smacked me (when you’re going 60 kilometers an hour, the raindrops don’t land, they smack) in the face. I said, ‘Dad is it raining?’ He said, “Yes, but we’re almost there. We’ll make it, InshaAllah.”
InshaAllah, just in case you’ve forgotten, means ‘If Allah Wills’. We say that such-and-such a thing will happen, provided that Allah wills it. Well, Allah did not will for us to arrive before the storm began, and so we didn’t. So we got soaked instead. At first my sunglasses were acting as a windshield so I could still see, but after my scarf got soaked through, the water was just pouring down my face and into my eyes and with both my hands occupied (one holding bag, the other holding on to father) all I could do was ride through the rain with my eyes closed. It was actually fun, and I was cold for the first time in a month! Amazing!
The fun ended when I arrived at work, soaked to the skin. I got off my dad’s motorcycle and put both of my feet on the ground (squish squish) and rang the doorbell. The gate was opened, then I walked (squish squish squish squish) up to the door and knocked. The housekeeper opened it, took one shocked look at me, and started laughing. I was laughing too. It’s not everyday that you see someone dripping wet from head to toe in yards and yards of black fabric. (my scarf and jilb) I must’ve looked like a cat someone had tried to drown.
They let me in and I made a big puddle in the entryway waiting for us to figure out what to do for clothes. The lady of the house is an entire foot shorter than I am, so her clothes were ruled out. So were the clothes of my student, her nine-year old daughter. The only clothes that remotely fit me were the housekeeper’s, and I must say she has pretty good taste. She’s Afghani, so I got a huge, unbelted white shalwar (baggy pants) and a very long blue and white qameez (tunic) with no chalks and floral embroidery all the way from neck down to the hem. It was more like a dress with pants underneath than a shalwar-qameez.
I’m thinking of having something like her suit made. It was very comfy. So what if I’m not Afghani? I’m also not male and I’m not Bruce Lee, but I’m wearing one of my father’s old white kurtas left over from his university days with a pair of my little brother’s karate uniform pants. Nuts to conformity. If it’s comfortable, I’ll wear it! (Hmm, maybe that’s why my housekeeper is always laughing at me.)
My father (who got as wet as I did, but not wetter, because it’s impossible that either of us could get any wetter) didn’t have the luxury of wearing someone’s housekeeper’s clothes. He went to my sister’s office and dripped on her floor for a while, then decided to wring his clothes out in her bathroom. He was dry by the time he came back to pick me up again though, and you know what? I think he’s still wearing those same clothes now…
(Hey Yaz, does this count as tossing the football?)
Thursday, June 26, 2003
Computer is fixed! Alhamdulillah! Finally! Now I can type a new blog to make up for the following substandard one.
Here's yesterday's post, today. I blame blogger.
Aaak! I can’t type while listening to music but I’m doing my best. Scout’s honor.
But on the day the scrolls are laid/
With every word and deed displayed/
When we read our account/
I know for one I’ll be afraid/
That day, I’ll be so afraid to read/
Every harsh word that I’ve spoken/
Every time that I have lied/
I’ll be obliged to admit/
I’ll be obliged to submit/
Will I have strength owning up to/
Each deed I’ve tried to hide?/
Allah, I’m so afraid to read/
These lines from Afraid to Read, The Prophet’s Hands by Dawud Wharnsby Ali, a beaucoup excellent Islamic music CD. It’s what I’m plugged up to at the moment, and I love this CD and I can’t get myself to put two sentences together in five minutes because I’m too busy enjoying myself. Forget this man, I’ll write after the CD is finished, in the mean time, I’m cranking it up. Enjoy a joke till I’m done.
This guy goes to a pet shop to buy a parrot.
He sees one on a perch with a red string tied to its left leg and a green string tied to its right leg. He asks the owner the significance of the strings.
"Well, this is a highly trained parrot,” the owner tells him. “If you pull the red string he speaks French; if you pull the green string he speaks German."
"And what happens if I pull both the strings?" our curious shopper inquires.
"You goober," screeches the parrot, “I fall off my perch!”
Ok, I can concentrate now. The computer was in the shop (and out, and then in again) all throughout this week and that makes is hard not only to keep in touch, but to print out class work! Additionally, since my momma is gone, I can’t find anything and I don’t know where she left any of her papers or files. Therefore, I have dubbed these last few days ‘The Week of Chaos.’ Things are just starting to get normal again. The school where I’m subbing for my mother is finally making me my own ID.
Last Monday I tried to get in with my mother’s ID and the fact that a scarf-wearing fundu-type (me) was trying to make it into the diplomatic enclave using the ID of a blonde American-type (my mother) aroused great suspicion. I was questioned by the guards at all three of the guard posts, and stopped at the bomb check, and then they had to call in before opening the gate for me. (Who are you? Whose ID is this? Where’s your ID? Where are you from? Where are you going?)Today they met me at the main gate of the diplomatic enclave with a driver though so I had no problem getting in. I was tempted to stick my tongue out at all the guards as we passed. >:p pbbt! Nya nya! They let me in!
What else? The weather is still disgustingly hot and humid. Electricity was in short supply today. I can’t think of much else. The next English Night has been postponed because the student who was supposed to be hosting it has flown suddenly out of the country on business. That’s the problem with diplomats, they always disappear on you. One of my mother’s students hired her for five classes a week and only made it to two of them in the entire month. I’ve been lucky that most of my students stay put, but still. A rolling stone and a diplomat, neither gathers moss.
I’ve also decided (after teaching my mother’s English class of ten year olds) that I prefer teaching adults. They’re more interesting, and plus you don’t have to play mind games with them to get them to pay attention during class. With kids, you’re lucky if you hold their undivided attention for the entire duration of the class let alone for five minutes. With adults it’s different, because they are taking the class voluntarily, (and since they’re paying for it too) they try to get the most out of it. If my adult students were anything like my kid students, then they’d be picking their noses and whining and looking everywhere around the room except the blackboard. He he…that’s a funny mental picture. Sorry, I’m just seeing the –name of position withheld- officer of the embassy of –name of country withheld- fidgeting in his seat with his fingers up his nose…he he
Alright, I’m just wasting space now, since I have nothing really interesting to say anyway. I’ll stop now.
(you still here? Ok, then click this.)
Monday, June 23, 2003
The Lizard is Quicker than the Eye
Well, my momma’s arrived safely in the states, Alhamdulillah. Life is dull but going on. –sigh-
On a more entertaining note, we have a stalker! He’s got medium yellow skin, beady black eyes, four legs, a detachable tail and the cutetest little reptile face you ever saw! Yes, my stalker is a lizard. A teeny, tiny little thing, no long than an inch and a half. (four centimeters?) The first time I saw him, he was zipping across the floor so quickly, (and he was just so small and so dirt-colored) I though, boy that’s the straightest-flying dust bunny I’ve ever seen. That same evening, I was sitting on my bed reading and Aniraz was praying Isha. Suddenly I heard her say, “Look up slowly, and don’t move...”
Well those are distubing words no matter how you say them. I looked up slowly thinking I was going to see a man with a knife or a giant tarantula (in order of terrifying importance) and instead I saw...the mini-lizard. He had squeezed his itty-bitty body under the door and had been standing at the head of the prayer rug while Aniraz was praying. I looked up, saw him sighed in relief and said, “aw, how cute.” Then I blinked and he was gone. Aniraz (who hadn’t blinked) informed me that he didn’t just disappear into thin air. He just zipped back under the door again.
Next day, my dad finishes lunch and goes to get his shirt off the ‘recently accessed clothing’ hook and then does a little dance all of a sudden. Then he shakes out his shirt, puts it on, and very calmy says, “When you take your jilbab off the hook, be careful. There’s a little lizard on it. I just shook it out of my pocket.”
See? It’s stalking us. Or spying on us, or something. But it’s really cute so I don’t mind. I must make a disclaimer by the way, my computer is busted so I’m typing this blog in a net cafe, and for some reason, the spellcheck has been disabled. On top of that, the keyboard is stickier than a French cruller, so half the keys I hit don’t do anything. That’s why I may have an excess of goofy typing errors this time. A thousand pardons I beg of ye.
Well, I went and subbed for my mom today at the foreign school, and surprise surprise, they stopped me for not having an ID and I was fifteen minutes late for class by the time I got through the three guard posts and the bomb search. On a positive note, the school is finally going to make me my own ID...
The guests we had over Karachi (an aunt and uncle who came to see my mother off) were like the nicest, most low-maintanance guests I have ever had. Alhamdulillah, they were actually good to have around. I felt sad when they left. Nice people. :)
Well, my hiatus is up and I can go back to nonsense as usual. But now, it’s nonsense with a difference...it’s nonsense that my mother will read! Hi momma! This blog’s for you!
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Chaos. My mother is leaving in two days. I have relatives from Karachi coming up in three hours, the house is not ready, the bedrooms are not guest-worthy. I actually missed a class today because I was so busy that I just forgot to go. (!!!!!!!) My student sat there twiddling her thumbs for an hour and a half waiting for me and I feel SO bad…I don’t have an ID yet for the school where I’ll be subbing for my mother, I don’t know how I’m supposed to get through the three guard posts and the bomb-check without one. (It’s in the diplomatic enclave and the security is tighter than tight.)
I have to go panic now. I’m on blogland hiatus till my mother is packed, the guests depart, and the madness subsides. Maybe I’ll be back by Sunday. Until then, talk amongst your selves and pray for my sanity.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
My fifteen seconds of fame.
Yesterday, my mother, sister and I were out shopping at one of the larger, smellier, busier bazaars here in Islamabad. It was rush-hour (just afore Maghrib) and it was insanity in the parking lot. I was blocked in by a double-parked Hilux (big Toyota pick-up truck) whose driver was being harassed by the police for his license. Fine, I thought, let the police check his license, but let him move up two feet so I can get out of here! So I honked.
A big crowd had gathered around the Hilux and we were starting to wonder what was going on. Finally the Hilux pulled away, and I started to back out of the parking space. I was halfway out when the same cop then came over to me and asked to see my license. (what a great time to ask, eh, me halfway out of a parking space, with the tail-end of my car blocking traffic) I pulled it out and gave it to him. He looked at it and said in Urdu, Ok Madame, you’ve parked in a no parking zone. I’m just going to give you a ticket.
I gave him an incredulous look and asked him in English how a parking lot could be a no-parking zone. Now you wonder why I switched over to English. Frankly, the cops in Pakistan are crooked. It’s not uncommon to pull people over for imaginary violations and then demand a bribe if they don’t want a ticket. I switched over to English because the cops won’t do that to foreigners. (shame on them, you’d think they’d be nicer to their own people first and harass the foreigners instead!)
The cop then started stammering and told me in flustered English that there were no-parking signs every hundred feet. I told him to show me. Then I heard from the crowd, “Cut! Cut! Cut that out!” and a man with a video camera came up to the window and put the camera down. The cop said, Sorry Madame, we were just making a documentary. I told him he could’ve told me that before he tried to ticket me for parking in a parking lot. Some guy with big sunglasses then stuck his face in my window (probably the director, it was the guy who yelled ‘Cut’) and apologized to me. So, if any of you happen to be watching the Citi Channel or Geo or ARY Digital or PTV or something, and you happen to see a very annoyed, Arab-looking hijabi sassing a Pakistani traffic cop, that’ll be me.
The ice-hat. Soak a bandana and lay it open. Line up three or four ice cubes diagonally, and then fold in half, so you get a lumpy triangle. Then roll the bandana so the ice cubes are in the middle. Knot the two ends together and then lay the bandana in the freezer so that it freezes in a circular shape. After half an hour, take it out and presto! You have an ice-hat, a circular band of ice to place on your head and enjoy!
Khalid ibn El Waleed narrated the following hadith:
A Bedouin came one day to the Prophet (Peace & Upon Him) and said to
"0, Messenger of Allah! I've come to ask you a few questions about the
affairs of this Life and the Here After."
-Ask what you wish.
Q: I'd like to be the most learned of men.
A: Fear Allah, and you will be the most learned of men.
Q: I wish to be the richest man in the world.
A: Be contented, and you will be the richest man in the world.
Q: I'd like to be the most just man.
A: Desire for others what you desire for yourself, and you will be the
most just of men.
Q: I want to be the best of men.
A: Do good to others and you will be the best of men.
Q: I wish to be the most favored by Allah.
A: Engage much in Allah's praise, and you will be most favored by Him.
Q: I'd like to complete my faith.
A: If you have good manners you will complete your faith
Q: I wish to be among those who do good.
A: Adore Allah as if you see Him. If you don 't see Him, He seeth you.
In this way you will be among those who do good.
Q: I wish to be obedient to Allah.
A: If you observe Allah's commands you will be obedient.
Q: I'd like to be free from all sins.
A: Bathe yourself from impurities and you will be free from all sins.
Q: I'd like to be raised on the Day of Judgment in the light.
A: Don't wrong yourself or any other creature, and you will be raised
on the Day of Judgment in the light.
Q: I'd like Allah to bestow His mercy on me.
A: If you have mercy on yourself and others, Allah will grant you mercy
on the Day of Judgment.
Q: I'd like my sins to be very few.
A: If you seek the forgiveness Allah as much as you can, your sins will
be very few.
Q: I'd like to be the most honorable man.
A: If you do not complain to any fellow creature, you will be the most
honorable of men.
Q: I'd like to be the strongest of men.
A: If you put your trust in Allah, you will be the strongest of men.
Q: I'd like to enlarge my provision.
A: If you keep yourself pure, Allah will enlarge your provision.
Q: I'd like to be loved by Allah and His messenger.
A: If you love what Allah and Him messenger love, you will be among
their beloved ones.
Q: I wish to be safe from Allah's wrath on the Day of Judgment.
A: If you do not loose your temper with any of your fellow creatures,
you will be safe from the wrath of Allah on the Day of Judgment.
Q: I'd like my prayers to be responded to.
A: If you avoid forbidden actions, your prayers will he responded.
Q: I'd like Allah not to disgrace me on the Day of Judgment.
A: If you guard your chastity, Allah will not disgrace you on the Day
Q: I'd like Allah to provide me with a protective covering on the Day
A: Do not uncover your fellow creatures faults, and Allah will provide
you with a covering protection on the Day of Judgment.
Q: What will save me from sins?
A: Tears, humility and illness.
Q: What are the best deeds in the eyes of Allah?
A: Gentle manners, modesty and patience.
Q: What are the worst evils in the eyes of Allah?
A: Hot temper and miserliness.
Q: What assuages the wrath of Allah in this life and in the Hereafter?
A: Concealed charity and kindness to relatives.
Q: What extinguishes hell's fires on the Day of Judgment?
A: Patience in adversity and misfortunes.
Related by Imam Ibn Hambal
Sunday, June 15, 2003
We’re playing hide-and-seek with the electricity today, so I don’t know how successful I’ll be in getting this blog typed. (save) I’m afraid that anything I (save) type will be lost if the electricity (save) goes out again. So I’m (save) trying to (save) as often as possible. –phew-
I’m sitting at the computer, daintily chugging iced-coffee out of a 40oz peanut butter jar. I’d be drinking out of the mayonnaise jar, but Aniraz claimed it first. Sooooooo….it’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I just woke up. Frankly, I’m surprised I woke up this early considering that it’s Sunday. I try to ruin my schedule and be absolutely as un-productive as possible on my weekends. I consider it to be recovery from working all week. So last night I was playing video games till Fajr, then I prayed and went to bed just as the sun was rising.
You know, my life may be Islamically pointless (or unfruitful, or directionless or whatever) but I am sincerely thankful that it’s very uncomplicated. One of my friends called me last night with marital problems, and by the time I got off the phone like an hour later, I was depressed for her, but also relieved that I wasn’t in her shoes. InshaAllah things will work out for her though, InshaAllah. (Three cheers for ambiguity. Hip! Hip! Hooray!) Without belittling or insulting her, I can look to my own problems and see them as less severe, and therefore more manageable. Any time you feel down, it always helps to look at someone in a worse situation, because then you start to see the good things you DO have and the bad things you don’t.
I know that not everyone buys into the, “It could be worse, I could be YOU!” theory, but it does work. Two years back I had my appendix out (the other one, I still have on left that bursts when I don’t want to go to work) and I was lying the emergency room thinking I was the most miserable person in the world when I heard the following dialogue from behind the curtain next to me:
Man: (crying)What do you mean? He’s not dead, he can’t be dead, my son…my son…You’re lying he’s not dead….
At that point I thought God, I am so NOT the most miserable person in the world. That same night, I also saw another woman in the emergency room who was far worse off than me. She arrived wearing a sari-blouse and a man’s shawl wrapped around the lower half of her bleeding body. Turns out she was on her way to a party, wearing a sari and riding on the back of the motorcycle. Her sari got caught in the back wheel, and she lost her clothes as the motorcycle crashed and she had road-rash ALL over her body. Road-rash (where you skin is ground away when you skid over the road at high speed) is actually more painful than you would think. My little brother was in a motorcycle accident about a year and a half ago, he got road-rash bad, lost the skin off the top of his hand, off his shoulder, one of his arms, one leg. There’s a certain level of pain you feel sometimes, when it gets so bad that a wave of violent trembling goes through your whole body, all the way down from your neck to your toes. It was excruciating just watching him suffer, I can’t imagine having to go through it myself.
What was my point? Oh yes. In times of trouble or stress, remember the following things:
1. Look to someone worse off than yourself for a grim reminder of how nice your life actually is as compared to how bad it could be.
2. If you think that things can’t get any worse, then remember that they can only get better! When you’re all the way down at the bottom, the only way left is up.
3. And what’s the Alcoholic’s Anonymous prayer? (like I should know, but I know it anyway) God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom always to tell the difference.
Not that I’m very good at always telling the difference, or at taking my own advice. I seem to forget my own advice when I need it most. But hey, maybe if I post it I’ll read it some other time and make myself feel better (?).
I’m just bummed cuz my momma’s leaving. Nuts. I guess that falls into the third category of the Alcoholic’s prayer, knowing what I can’t change, just being at peace with it. It’s not like my momma’s leaving us, she’s just leaving and then coming back after a long time. Makes me sad anyway. So now, having established that I cannot prevent this from happening, I have to move on to damage control. How can I make myself less miserable when my momma is gone? Swim. Blog. Work. Write. Drown my woes in 40oz of peanut-butter flavored coffee.
I like swimming, but I don’t want to work!!!! AAAAaaaaargh! Boy, this blog started out in one direction and has ended up in another. I give up. The more I write the less sense I make. Nuts. The End.
“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.” -Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five.
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Thanks to the help of my beautiful, wonderful, marvelicious momma, everything was ready in time for English Night. Alhamdulillah, it went well. This time one of my students brought a chess board, and there was Scrabble and chess going at the same time. I played three games, won only one.
Game Number 1: Played against a fairly good player. I am a mediocre player, therefore I lost.
Game Number 2: I win! I then rewarded myself with a handy slice of cheesecake. How’s that for a prize? (Like the lizard who jumped from the high Iroko tree, I will praise myself if no one else does)
Game Number 3: Now game three was the interesting one. Games one and two were played on a small, portable chess set. Game three, however, was played on a full-size wooden board, not with pieces, but stone figurines. The king was about six inches tall, the pawns were about three inches. They were all beautifully carved, and slightly racist. (hehe) The white pieces were Crusaders. There was a fatherly-looking Christian king (looked like Richard Lionheart to me) and a gentle, matronly-looking white queen.
The black pieces though, were SARACEN HEATHENS!!!! (That would be the Muslims who were trying to defend the Holy Land from those nutty Crusading infidels) The black king (I think he was supposed to be Salahuddin) had a big nose and fat lips and ugly, exaggerated features, and he was wearing an ominous, druid-type hood. (the figurines were very precisely carved) The black queen was actually a Niqabi! She was wearing a long qameez and a scarf, and had her face covered! I was so in awe of the huge pieces, and consequently so confused and disoriented by them that I kept mixing up what they were.
At one point in the game I was closing my knights (carved on horseback with complete horses) around what I thought was a lone white bishop. Well, luckily for me, just before I was about to put my piece directly in front of him, I realized, he was actually the king. I had to retreat, and all the moves I put into that strategy were a complete waste. Maybe I’m humble, or maybe I have a big ego, but I was too ashamed to admit that I was confused by the beautiful but visually chaotic pieces.
I also almost sent a castle to its doom by putting it in the way of a pawn that was totally obscured by the giant knight in front of it. I was about to take my finger off the piece (signaling the end of my move) when I noticed that the knight had three heads. One for the horse, one for the rider, and one on the side for the grubby little pawn hiding behind it. All I can say is, never trust Crusaders.
The board came from Germany by the way. I don’t know if I would ever want one. It’s too hard to play with. You can’t go from clean and simple little plastic bits to six-inch stone figures. It’s too hard to tell what’s going on, and plus you can’t throw them at people when you lose! 25% percent of the fun of playing chess is in the strategy, another 25% is in the mind games you play, and the last 50% is in throwing the pieces at the winner to compensate for the fact that you’ve lost. This is why we play with plastic pieces in my house. The marble pieces were destroyed a long time ago.
Well, I’m feeling better than I did yesterday, teaching seems tolerable again, but I still think I should be doing more useful things. I’m going to try to start writing again, InshaAllah. And I’ll try to post something Islamic (as compared to something absurd, which is what I usually post) once a week. This week’s is not a very detailed or well-written one, but the Islamic info in it is useful, InshaAllah. So, without further ado, here’s this week’s Islamic article.
Don't do that man, that's a sin!
Yeah, but Allah forgives everything, right?
There’s a common mistake that a lot of people make, and it’s in thinking that Islam is like Christianity somehow. In Christianity, Prophet Jesus, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was supposedly crucified as punishment for the sins of all mankind. He took all our punishment, so now all we have to do is believe in him and we’re automatically saved because he went through living hell for us. That’s called vicarious atonement.
In Islam there is no vicarious atonement. No one died or was tortured on a cross to apologize for your sins, so you have to apologize yourself. In order to be forgiven, you have to ask for forgiveness. You can’t just lay down at night without praying Isha and just think, Oh it’s ok if I miss Isha, Allah forgives everything. It doesn’t work that way. Allah CAN forgive all sins, but that doesn’t mean he WILL, especially if you don’t even ask.
Repentance, called Taubah in Arabic, works like so- there are four basic steps to repentance according unanimously to Muslim scholars and simple logic:
STEP 1: STOP THE SIN. Obviously you can’t repent of something when you’re still doing it, that’s the equivalent of punching someone in the eye repeatedly and apologizing at the same time. You have to stop doing whatever wrong it is you’re doing first.
STEP 2: FEEL BAD. Feeling bad implies you understand what you were doing was probably wrong, ungrateful, and un-Islamic. If you do step one and stop sinning without ever feeling Islamically bad about what you were doing, then chances are you quit for some other reason. It’s like not wearing tight clothes anymore only because you gained weight, or not dating because you suddenly hate all men. If you didn’t quit for the sake of your religion or to please Allah, how can that be counted as repentance?
STEP 3: RESOLVE NOT TO REPEAT IT. You can’t just quit smoking...in between cigarettes... You have to decide to quit for good. It’s true that since people are imperfect, that they may lapse back into sins, but the point is that you sincerely repent and resolve to stop doing that specific sin immediately and try, to the best of your abilities, to never do it again. Otherwise it’s like Ya Allah, I’m sorry, but I’ll do this again anyway.
STEP 4: MAKE UP FOR IT. The last step is the hardest one of all. If you sinned against someone, you have to apologize or do something to make up for it. If you stole, you have to pay what you owe or return what you stole. If you missed prayer, you have to make them up as well. If you don’t try to make up for the wrongs you’ve done, then you’re just repenting so long as it doesn’t cause you any trouble, and that doesn’t sound too sincere, does it?
BUT WHAT IF I HAVE TOO MANY SINS?
There’s no such thing as having too many sins, anyone who thinks that hasn’t got enough faith in Allah’s Infinite Mercy. It’s actually a little cocky too...no don’t bother forgiving me, I got more sins than you have mercy...Astaghfirullah. Allah says in Hadith Qudsi number 34 of 40 Hadith Qudsi:
“...O Son of Adam! If your sins were to reach the limits of the sky, and then you seek My forgiveness, I shall forgive you, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam! If you will bring sins equal in volume to the earth and then you meet Me (on the day of Judgment) in the state that you would not have suggested partners unto Me, I shall give you in return forgiveness equal to the volume of the earth."
Remember, forgiveness is conditional, in order to be forgiven you have to repent and do Taubah, and not have committed Shirk (Shirk is worshipping anything other than Allah or associating anything with Him).
But what about minor sins?
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him (to one of the followers): "You imagine certain sins to be more insignificant than a straw. But, at the time of the Prophet we used to count them among those that can destroy a man." -Sahih Bukhari
Ibn Mas'ud, a companion of the Prophet said: "A believer treats a sin as if it is a mountain over his head that may fall on him any moment. Whereas a regular violator looks at them as a fly that perched on his nose and he waved it away with his hand." -Sahih Bukhari
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said: "Beware of the minor sins. For the example of the minor sins is like that of a group of travelers who broke their journey in a valley. Then one of them brought in a straw. Another came up with another (and a third with one more) until with their collection they were able to gather enough to cook their food. Remember! If a man is held for questioning (on the day of Judgment) for his minor sins, surely they will destroy him." In another version he is reported to have said: "Beware of minor sins. For they add on until they destroy the man."
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad ) about Me (whether I am close to them or at a distance, let them know the), I Answer the prayers of him who calls Me." Al-Baqarah: 186
"Tell them, O My slaves who have wronged their souls: 'Do not despair of Allah's mercy.' "
Thursday, June 12, 2003
I usually don’t vent on my blog but now seems as good a time as any. Besides, if I wait to blog any longer I may set a record of some sort. I try not to let more than two days go by without typing something, anything (quantity over quality, that’s me) so here I go.
English Night is tomorrow, and I have stuff to do. I’ve been so stressed lately that I’ve neglected my extracurricular teacherly duties and NOTHING is ready for English Night yet. (English Night= ESL students, Scrabble, Games, Munchies, Good Clean Fun) I haven’t bought or made prizes, I haven’t typed any madlibs, I haven’t put the stuff together for any of the games. I got on the computer to start my English Night stuff and you know what? I ended up typing this instead.
My mom is going back to the states for an unspecified period of time, minimum of eighteen months. We have some family issues that need to be settled back home and we don’t even know how long she’ll be gone for. Stinks. She doesn’t even want to go, but stuff has to be taken care of. Have I been ambiguous enough? Good. The point is, I’m gonna miss my mommy so bad (it already hurts) and I have too much to do and too much pressure on me to do it.
The longest period of time I was away from my parents was six months, when my sister and I lived in Karachi. That was torture. You can’t tear half your heart out and fly it across the globe and expect it not to hurt. I know some people wouldn’t care if they lived apart from their families, but our family is really close. Both of my parents stopped being my parents a long time and became good friends instead.
Aside from the stress and pressure of having my mother leave in a week, I’m also having my annual mid-life crisis. Is it annual? Maybe it’s bi or tri-annual. That’s where I want seriously, desperately to quit my job and do something useful for a change. Like go back to writing as a full time job, or do something in Islamic media. Problem is (and Bushra can relate to this) that there IS no thriving Islamic media in Pakistan. That leaves me teaching English and sulking. I feel like I’m wasting my life, one monotonous day at a time.
I know life has a point, I just don’t think mine does. What do I do all day? I wake up in the morning and I go and teach English. I come home. The End. Between work and home there are video games, reading, marginal house cleaning, mainly wholesale time wastage. I feel like I’m just biding my time, waiting for something important to happen, for something to change, but what?
I’m not making any positive difference in the world, or even myself. Iman-wise, I’m just scraping the bottom of the barrel. Not trying to excel or evolve, just trying to get by. And I waste all my brain power on teaching English (as compared to Islam or logic) and I waste all my time on trying not to die of ennui. It’s shameful that I should complain about this though, because ennui is a luxury. If I was poor, I couldn’t afford it. I have a good-paying job, Alhamdulillah, I shouldn’t complain about that either. And even though I’m fighting myself every day to keep going to work, I’ve still taken a new student. I think I just forgot to say no. I forgot that I wanted to quit for the two seconds it took to say yes. Stupid of me. I can’t be a very good teacher when I don’t even feel like teaching, can I. I’m hoping that this new student cancels at the last minute, or that something comes up, or just…something so I don’t have to go teach.
If I was smarter, I’d take a vacation from all my students, go down to Karachi for a few weeks and relax. But I’m not smart, and I have to wait until Rajab until I get to go to Umrah and find the spiritual vacation/sanctuary/reset button that I’m so badly in need of. Till then, I’m just going to go to bed and mope.
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Sensei dizzily presents: How to Mortally Wound Yourself While Doing Class Work.
or- Amnesia and You: Making the Dream Come True.
Proudly and smugly finish your class work exactly half an hour before you have to leave for class, and then try to print it out. Then realize that the printer isn’t hooked up. Crawl underneath of the filthy computer table in high-heels and nice, clean work-clothes, and fumble around with the wires blindly. (Note: make sure that your computer has faulty wiring somewhere, otherwise you won’t be able to get electrocuted) Get zapped with an invigorating surge of 220 volts, straighten up reflexively and crack your head on the top of the desk. Swoon. Collapse. Perish.
Wake up with a stylish purple bruise on your temple and try to remember what you’re doing under the computer desk with the dust bunnies and the filthy, snaky cables that go to computer accessories we don’t know how to use. Then discover that (in typical Lollywood fashion) you have AMNESIA!!!!
(cue melodramatic theme music, quickly wrap white gauze around head and stain with ketchup)
I’ve decided that since I have amnesia, I should forget everything, absolutely everything, especially those things that I don’t feel like....errr....can’t remember to do. Like work. What work? I teach?! Where am I? Are you my mommy?
I have also forgotten how to clean off the table and how to do laundry. Really. You never know how long it will take me to recuperate, so you can’t burden me with housecleaning or work right away. I have to build up to it slowly so that’s I’m not overwhelmed and I don’t have a nervous breakdown.
After an accident like this (plus a new identity) I could become a superhero. You know, all really great comic book characters were created though accidents of some sort. Spiderman got bit by a radioactive spider. The Joker fell into a vat of toxic goo, and a million other minor characters got zapped with electricity while handling chemicals of some sort. Me, I was surrounded by dust bunnies when I got zapped. I don’t know whether that makes me good or evil, or what kind of superpowers I have. Maybe I have the power to summon dust. My room is certainly dusty, and my entire computer room is covered in a not-so-fine powdering of terra infirma.
Maybe I should try again. Maybe I should take a bar of kryptonite or plutonium or chocolate down into the computer’s wire jungle next time. I get zapped every time I stick my fingers in there. I might as well make the best of it and get some really great superpowers.
Yes, even aside from the ability to summon dust.
Labels: Mortal Wounds
We're fresh out of electricity more often than not these days, and that makes typing a blog hard. I've started two only to have the electriity go out and my documents get destroyed. Aaaargh! Here, have an article I wrote instead. It would've featured in the Sunday Times this February, but my view on love and Valentine's day didn't fit in well with their Valentine's special. (Damn liberals) Oh well. Till I can write a real blog, read it anyway. -Abez
How I Own 1/7th of Riaz’s heart.
I don’t want to know the history of St. Valentine’s Day so much as I would like to know who started it in Pakistan. I do, after all, need someone to blame for the fact that I own exactly 1/7th of Riaz’s heart. It’s not a clerical error. He pledged it to me last year, the whole 1/7th, and I am still waiting for someone to stand accountable for such an absurdity.
Riaz didn’t exactly tell me he was only giving me 1/7th, he just showed up in front of my car, February 14th last year, where he’d been waiting for me. After an inarticulate speech about love and the destiny of our souls, he gave me a card and a rose and then mumbled something and rushed away as quickly as he appeared. Inside the card were the usual declarations of undying love and affection, and he pledged me his heart, the generous man.
The next day in college (you know how girls are) I did some asking around and it turned out that not only had Riaz pledged his heart to me, but to six other girls too. Three I already knew, three I got to know on a very friendly basis afterwards. There’s nothing that will bind people together quite like common ground, and in our case, we discovered we were all co-owners of Riaz’s heart. Since none of us wanted to bear the burden of ownership entirely, we decided to share, and that’s how I came to own exactly 1/7th.
I may be old fashioned, but where I come from, love has very little to do with cards and roses and a lot to do with dedication. Love isn’t a cheap show once a year, love isn’t about beautiful women and sighing in spring. It was a very wise man (whose name I don’t know) who said, “You don’t love a woman because she is beautiful, but a woman is beautiful because you love her.” That wise man, he was right. I think of that quote every time I think of my Nani and Nana. Even when they were both well into their seventies, sometimes when Nana thought there was no one looking, I would catch him giving Nani the soft kind of look that would melt a woman’s defenses in seconds. Anyone else who looked at Nani probably only saw a wrinkled old lady with and a crooked smile, but when Nana looked at her, he saw the gorgeous Houri he married fifty years ago. That’s love.
Speaking of years, that reminds me of another thing about love. It has nothing to do with one-day holidays. Love means dedication that lasts, five ten, fifty years later. What good was Riaz’s mumbled ‘I love you’ (and I think it was ‘I love you’ because he shouldn’t have said ‘I need glue‘ just then) when it lasts only as long as roses are on sale for Valentine’s day? If his love had lasted any longer, I probably would have run him over, but the point is, real love is long-term. Infatuation and obsession are temporary, but real love is a solidly grounded, conscious effort that people actively maintain for others. It’s not some sort of passing whim, or an effortless passion, it’s a willfully upheld emotion built on a foundation of trust, understanding, and mutual sacrifice.
Riaz can’t fool me. I know what dedicated love is about. I saw it once when my aunt became seriously ill one night. Her husband got up with her and guided her to the sink, and held her hair back when she was vomiting and supported her when she could no longer stand. Then he carried her gently to the car and drove her to the hospital. My cousins told me that he held her hand the whole time she was there, and he helped her go to the bathroom. That may sound disgusting, but it takes real love to get over your own fears and dislikes to help someone you care about.
I’ll tell you what else love is about; it’s about laughing at jokes that weren’t too terribly funny because someone else needs cheering up. It’s about saying sorry even when you know you were right, because you know that the person you argued with is far more important than what you argued about. Its about covering someone else up when you’re cold, it’s about giving someone else tea when you’re tired, it’s about giving up that part of you that screams ‘Me! Me! Me!’ and becoming the other half of another person. It’s about taking the brunt of something because you’d rather see yourself die than see the one you love being shamed. This kind of love may be hard to spot because it isn’t flashy and loud and covered in red glitter and white lace, but it’s out there. It’s quiet but powerful, it’s everyday but magical, it’s real, but apparently Riaz has no idea it exists.
I suppose you’re reading this and thinking that it’s the woman who’s doing all this, she’s practically worshipping her husband and the chauvinistic pig doesn’t even care. Well, in some cases that’s true, because women are more sentimental. I think it’s safe to say that some woman love their husbands more than their husbands love them, but I was speaking in terms of ideals, and ideally, they both love and sacrifice equally.
So there it is, Riaz darling. A pox on the kind of “love” that Valentine’s day promotes (btw, what the heck are we Muslims doing celebrating the holiday of a Christian saint?). I don’t need a sappy card and a wilted rose from a guy who has no real respect for me, who has no concept of my honor, who doesn’t even know what love is.
Guys like Riaz are using Valentine’s day as an excuse to act on their foolish impulses, and I don’t care what you call them - puppy love, lust, attraction, obsession, licentiousness, whatever. There’s no love involved there, just a shameless attempt to weasel me out of affections that I’m reserving for someone who deserves them. Someone who will love as one should, with dedication, with sacrifice, with a whole heart, as compared to 1/7th. Attention Riaz: If I see you again I may actually take up the offer of having your heart. And I may just carve my portion out with a spoon.
Sunday, June 08, 2003
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that Allah has said:
The first of his actions for which a servant of Allah will be held accountable for on the Day of Resurrection will be his prayers. If they are in order, then he will have prospered and succeeded; and if they are wanting, then he will have failed and lost. If there is something defective in his obligatory (fard) prayers, the Lord will say, ‘See if My servant has any supererogatory (sunnah/nafl) prayers with which may be completed that which was defective in his obligatory prayers.’ Then the rest of his actions will be judged in a like fashion.
Related by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and Ahmad.
I am pleased to inform y’all that I am now recovering from this season’s second case of food poisoning. This is due to the Grace of Allah, and also to a strict course of antibiotics, yogurt, chicken soup, and After Eight chocolate mints. Just what the doctor ordered!
I suppose to a first worlder (hey, I was one of those once) the idea of getting food poisoning twice in one summer, let alone in one lifetime, is bizarre. Well, food poisoning is kinda common in Pakistan because in the summer, it gets SO DANG HOT, AAAAAAARGH! (109 F /43 C for the last three days) that the freezers give up and stuff that should be frozen defrosts and grows bacteria. Like the salami I had the other day. It went straight from the grocery store freezer to my sandwich, but it had already been defrosted and refrosted God knows how many times in this last heat wave that it got all septic. Then I et it. Nasty.
“It’s bloody hot here, innit!” -Crayon
I was sitting in my dad’s restaurant today waiting for my order (Chez Daddy: Great Food, Terrible Service.) and watching the waiter rush around. I saw him take about a dozen bowls of ice-cream over to a large party in the corner, and then I heard some genius say, “Aray suno, yay ice-cream nahin, yay hot-cream hay! Issay wappas freezer may dalo!” Translation: Hey, this isn’t ice-cream, this is hot-cream. Put it back in the freezer!
Well, here’s my two cents to add to the Bloggin Muslimz forum. Someone with technical skillz might want to start creating the cool-looking buttons (all of a uniform size, please) for the sites that people have mentioned in the thread. Or, you people with skillz can decide among yourselves what the size should be, and then start cranking out buttons. If you send me the links, I can try to come up with some cool slogans to go with them, InshaAllah.
Once we have a large collection of buttons, they could be uploaded to a page on the Bloggin Muslimz forum, and then people could then pick whichever ones they want on their site, download the html and presto! Well, in my case it wouldn’t be presto! it would be more like, Hello, can someone put these buttons into my html please? (Hi Tora! Hi Sahar! he he) Thank you. Sincerely, -TechnoTwit.
Signs -- Lost in the Translation
In a Bucharest hotel lobby:
The lift is being fixed for the day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
In a Belgrade elevator:
To move the cabin, push button for wishing floor. If the cabin should enter more persons, each one should press a number of wishing floor. Driving is then going alphabetically by national order.
In a Paris hotel elevator:
Please leave your values at the front desk.
In a hotel in Athens:
Visitors are expected to complain at the office between the hours of 9 & 11 am daily.
In a Yugoslavian hotel:
The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid.
In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian orthodox Monastery:
You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and Soviet composers, artists, and writers are buried daily except Thursday.
In an Austrian hotel for skiers:
Not to perambulate the corridors in the hours of repose in the boots of ascension.
On a menu in a Swiss restaurant:
Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.
On a menu of a Polish hotel:
Salad a firm's own make; limpid red beer soup with cheesy dumplings in the form of a finger; roasted duck let loose; beef rashers beaten up in the country people's fashion.
In a Tokyo hotel:
Please take advantage of the chambermaids.
In a Hong Kong supermarket:
For your convenience we recommend courteous, efficient self-service.
In a Hong Kong dress shop:
Order your summers suit. Because is big rush we will execute customers in strict rotation.
From the Soviet weekly:
There will be a Moscow Exhibition of the Arts by 15,000 Soviet Republic painters and sculptors. These were executed over the past two years.
In an East African newspaper:
A new swimming pool is rapidly taking shape since the contractors have thrown in the bulk of their workers.
In a Vienna hotel:
In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the porter.
In Germany's Black Forest:
It is strictly forbidden on our Black Forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men & women, live together in one tent unless they are married for that purpose.
An ad by a Hong Kong dentist:
Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.
A Russian chess book:
A lot of water has been passed under the bridge since this variation has been played.
In the window of a Swedish furrier:
Fur coats made for the ladies from their own skin.
On a box of a clockwork toy in Hong Kong:
Guaranteed to work throughout its useful life.
Detour sign in Kyushu, Japan:
Swiss mountain inn:
Special today--no ice cream.
Copenhagen airline ticket office:
We take your bags and send them in all directions.
Moscow hotel room:
If this is your first visit to the USSR, you are welcome to it.
Norwegian cocktail lounge:
Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.
A notice in a Japanese hotel (ca. 1950):
Please not to steal towels. If you are not person to do such, please not to read notice.
Office of a Roman doctor:
Specialist in women and other diseases.
The manager has personally passed all the water served here.
Our nylons cost more than common, but you'll find that they are best in the long run.
Japanese instructions on an air conditioner:
Cooles & Heates: If you want just condition of warm in your room, please control yourself.
Car rental brochure in Tokyo:
When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.
Two signs from a Majorcan shop entrance:
English well talking. Here speeching American.
A sign on the lion cage at a zoo in the Czech Republic:
No smoothen the lion
A Finnish hotel's instructions in case of fire:
If you are unable to leave your room, expose yourself in the window.
In a Japanese restaurant (ca. 1950):
We reserve the right to serve refuse to anyone.
Saturday, June 07, 2003
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, Usman has FINALLY sent his guest post! (and the audience goes wild!) Roll camera in five, four, three, two....action!
Are we live?? *spits in hand and straightens out hair* "Hi there, this is Aww Smfreek reporting to you live from Abezistan. I've been given an unusual assignment dear viewers, last nite i received a telephone call from an editor at large calling herself DeOwl. She asked me to get a scoop on the ruler of Abezistan, The Terror of the Tarmac, Abez herself. In return I have been promised a lifetime supply of juice at a Pehelvan Mango Juice stall. Hmmm.. hope they have good juice.
*cue 10 min later* I'm now hanging on for dear life on a branch across from Abez's room waiting for her to be woken up. *Thinks to self, 'I'm doing all this for juice?? Monkeys get paid better than me!'*. Ahhh.. I believe this is Abez's sister Aniraz coming into the room now. Oh wait, *turns to cameraman.. keep rolling you moron!* I think Aniraz is making faces at Abez while she sleeps. Ahh.. she's waking her up now... oh wowsers, it seemz as though Abez just threw a fit for being woken up and Aniraz has been knocked to the floor by the flailing hands of Sensei Speed Demon.
*cue 15 min later* Now we see Abez running into the kitchen with a purple Jilbab trailing behind heras she realizes she's an hour late to work already! No Abez.. not that cup of coffee, it's been there all nite and i've seen 2 cockroaches have a dip in it! *Without even looking, abez picks up the coffee and downs it* Oh well, at least i've heard in China they use cockroaches for some kinda medicine. Hopefully the crunchy goodness will come to good use later on.
Now dear viewers we see sensei speed demon tearing up the asphalt as she rushes to get to her first class. Oh no, it seems as though she's juss been cut off by a greased up desi young dude type. Seeing this Abez floors it, comes up alongside the hoodlum...
*We interrupt this bulletin for some commercials.. "Are you tired? Do you feel you don’t have the energy?? The only way to freshen yourself up is Liptonite Yellow Label. Liptonite... Aaj peejiay.. fooran ulti keejiay!"* (Translation : Liptonite, drink today.. throw up straight away!)Then Abez lowers the window and drops the dreaded.... Banana peel... The greased up hoodlum skids and crashes to the side as Abez speeds away. <
Abez has just finished teaching her last student and is sitting there while her student goes to get her some water. In comes a 3 yr old. Abez's face lights up when she sees the three year old waddle up to her. *GASP* The child has just handed Abez a microfilm. Abez smiles and leaves the house. We're trying to stay reasonably back ladies and gentleman as we dont wanna be detected. Darrnit she's just turned off into that dark alley... *car turns into alley* Where'd she go??? It's a dead end and her car's gone.. literally vanished into thin air! Lemme just step outta the car here and... whooooops.. *splat* The old banana peel!!
*Abez and her sister walk up to the reporter*.
Aww Sumfreek : But how did you two know I was following you???
Aniraz *puts a weird electronic thingy to her throat which changes her voice* : I'm sorry Mr.Sumfreek, but it seems we wont be doing business after all!
Aww Sumfreek : *GASP* DEOWL???
Aniraz : Hahahha.. It was soo simple I'll probably treat myself to some Mango juice!
Aww Sumfreek : But why did you do all this??
Abez : I was tired of reading the same old stories in the newspapers... I wanted something new! I am the ruler after all.
Aww Sumfreek : But how do you fit in Miss Aniraz?
Aniraz : Simple.. I'm an editor.. It's my job to stir up news to sell papers!
Aww Sumfreek : Noooooooooooooo *dies*
Moral Of the Story : Watch out for those banana peels and dont believe everything you read!!
This guest post could not have come at a better time, since all yesterday (and today too) I was down and out with food poisoning and any blog I wrote would been like: Gee I’m sick. I have a fever, and the land of Abezistan is in upheaval. My doctor says I can only eat yogurt. He made mention of white rice and bananas too, but since I can’t stand either of the two, I am limited to yogurt simply by process of elimination. So I promptly went out and bought myself a chocolate bar. Chocolate has wonderful curative properties. So do coffee-flavored cockroaches apparently. Hey, I feel better already. :)
Thursday, June 05, 2003
Haha! I beat my dad in a best-of-three checkers match. (That’s draughts to all you Britishers). I also creamed my sister in two matches of backgammon. (That’s Tavla to all you Turks) I haven’t actually purchased or made a backgammon board, I’m just babysitting Crayon’s board while she’s off in Europe for the holidays. (God bless you Crayon Darling!). I’m on a roll here folks, all I need now is to win a game of Scrabble and a game of chess and I can declare myself to be the House Champion of Everything. He he...
Problem is, my mother, sister, father and I are all very closely matched when it comes to Scrabble, and Aniraz doesn’t actually enjoy chess enough to play me. My little brother and I used to play, but he’s out of the country right now. So now I have to set the board up, make a move, run around to the other side of the table, counter my own move, run around to the other side of the table again...
Anybody remember the CGI movie, A Bug’s Life? Before the film started there was a charming CGI short film about a little old man playing chess with himself- and cheating. I’ll be that little old man. At one point in the game I’ll have to fake a heart attack and knock a few pieces off the board or something. The good thing about playing myself though, is that I ALWAYS win. (mwahaha!!!) This is compared to backgammon, where I often lose to Crayon, and to checkers, where I only win against my father about 40% of the time, and in Scrabble I win as often as I lose. Hmmm. I’m beginning to think this House Champion of Everything thing isn’t quite as possible as I would like...
I’ve been reading Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince for one of my classes, and it makes me depressed. It’s all about keeping power once you’ve gotten it, by whatever means necessary. (Among other things, he sez that the only way to hold a captured principate is to KILL any and all members of the previous ruler’s family so there is no chance of them rising up years later to take the territory away from you) Machiavelli maintained that ethics and morals had no place in politics or diplomacy.
I don’t disagree with the fact that Machiavelli’s theories are effective, I just don’t think they’re good, especially since everyone, including politicians, are answerable to God for their decisions. Politics is not a greater god that you can sacrifice ethics, accountability, and human rights for. Yeah, politics is currently survival of the shadiest and dog-eat-dog and devious cut-throat conspiracies and all that stuff, but it doesn’t have to be.
And besides, the end doesn’t justify the means. Just because you’re doing something horrible and cruel for the sake of your country doesn’t mean that makes it ok. Your country is no more or less important than anyone else’s country, and with your logic, your enemies could justify the slaughter of your people for the sake of their country. Would that make what they did ok? No? Then how come it would be ok for you to do it?
If all bad things could be justified so long as they were done in the interest of national security (Oh wait, they already are in SOME places....collateral damage my foot) then there would be no guarantee of human rights. The duplicity that already exists because of the Nationalism-A-OK theory is evident in the fact that the people who died in the Twin Towers attack are victims, maybe even martyrs, but the people who die from US bombing in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t even victims, just collateral damage.
But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Not everything Machiavellian involves killing people, but I think that if there’s one place where the world needs MORE ethics (as compared to none) it’s in politics. Though Machiavelli’s book is accurate and pragmatic because the current political world is totally amoral and dishonest, that’s not the way it should be. To quote Robert Orben,
“We have enough people who tell it like it is. Now we could use a few who tell it like it can be.”
Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Aha! I knew it! My mental thermometer is accurate. Yesterday I thought it was about 41 Celcius/102 Fahrenheit, and I was right! :::does a sweaty victory lap around the computer chair:::
:::dies of heatstroke:::
Ever since moving to Pakistan I’ve been trying to come up with a realistic analogy to explain precisely how hot it is. Hot as hell? That’s about as explanatory as ‘Cold as hell.’
Hot as a convection oven? Nah, no one’s ever been inside a convection oven so they can’t relate.
Hotter than a black dog in the August sun, in Mississippi, in a toaster oven? (don’t ask)
I finally came up with a good analogy, I really did. Pakistan is as hot as a blow-dryer pointed at your face (set on medium heat, not cold shot). It really is, if you drive with the windows down the hot air takes your breath away, dries out your eyeballs and bakes your skin till it feels tight, and maybe even golden-brown. -tssssss- It’s so hot here that I use more chap stick in the two hottest months of summer than I do all winter in the US. (lest the lips dry up and fall right offa my desiccated face)
I can’t wait until monsoon season starts and the sky opens up and drops sheets of vertical rain on us. But you know, once monsoon season begins I won’t be able to wait till it ends and fall begins. And once I get sick of fall I’ll....
As a rule
Man is fool
When it’s hot
He wants it cool
When it’s cool
He wants it hot
What is not.
-Author unremembered (maybe Ogden Nash)
Just in case anyone’s wondering why so many comments on my tag board have gone unresponded to, it’s because my own tag board won’t let me post half the time. So, I’ll respond here instead. I wanted to reply to A’s comment about moving back to Islamabad.
I moved here about 3 years ago from the States, and though it’s been disappointing at times, I really haven’t regretted it. I kinda have a love/hate relationship with Pakistan, and with Islamabad (my current city ) and Karachi (my favorite city, United Bakery Zindabad!).
I love Pakistan because: The people (the common ones, just walking down the street) here are still basically good. If your car breaks down, ten guys will help you fix it, or if it can’t be fixed, they’ll push it to the side of the road and even call you a cab.
Chivalry (in some form or another) ain’t dead. I say this because once my cousin was sitting on a bus in Karachi when a guy sat down behind her and started poking her from behind. She changed seats and he followed her. She changed seats again and he followed again. Then she stood up and yelled at him. You know what happened then? The other guys on the bus got wind of what was happening, and they grabbed the poking pervert, threw him out of the bus and beat the holy snot out of him. Then they piled back into the bus and drove away. Though perverts exist in every country, I like to think that in Pakistan, for every pervert there are still a hundred guys willing to beat the crap out of him if you tell them what’s going on.
A similar thing happened to my sister and I on an international flight from Pakistan to the US. Some young morons kept making rude comments and purposely jostling the back of our seats, we told the nice old Pakistani uncle sitting next to us, and he stood up and screamed at them so loudly that the entire plane heard it (shame shame), and then he had the stewardess change our seats.
I also love living in Pakistan because there is still a strong sense of community here. (by here I mean anywhere but Islamabad) In lower-middle class neighborhoods where not everyone owns a car, (like where some of my family lives) a person who owns a nice car in the neighborhood gets the honor of driving everyone’s brides around. The person with the car enjoys an elevated status, like everyone’s big brother. This same car, when it’s not transporting brides, is also the neighborhood ambulance. If you get sick at 1 am, you just send a man from your house around to pick the keys up from the car owner.
Why I hate living in Pakistan though, the police are corrupt, the government is corrupt, drugs are obscenely cheap and shockingly common, the elite running this country are mainly godless heathens and you can’t buy or sell anything (property-wise) without the clerk demanding a bribe from you. My father bought a piece of land and the CDA office withheld his ownership papers for six months because he wouldn’t pay the clerk 25,000 rupees of ’Mubarak Money’ (Mubarak means congratulations, 25k is over four hundred dollars). My dad hates, hates, hates corruption and won’t bribe anyone for anything. He was calling the office every week and screaming at people to no avail. Finally one day our real estate agent showed up with the ownership papers in his hand and handed them to my father. Turns out that he got so tired of watching my father stress and fight that he paid the bribe himself. Twenty five thousand rupees is a lot of money.
See, normally, you pay a bribe when you want to do something illegal. Here, they expect you to pay a bribe just to do normal things, to get by. You go to the motor vehicle office to transfer ownership of a car and the clerk goes, “Sorry sir, I can’t seem to find your paperwork. Perhaps you can convince me to look for it?” Then you’re expected to pay him.
Hmmm. I don’t want to slander Pakistan, because I really do love it. I love the people here, but I equally hate those people who are exploiting the country and running it into the ground. It would be one thing if Pakistan was fighting a large group of criminals. But the problem is that Pakistan’s run by a large group of criminals. (100 ministers went to hajj with their families on Zakat funds last year. None of them have been punished) How can you fight something like this? You feel really hopeless sometimes. But still, I don’t regret coming here! Though if someone asked me whether I thought it was a good idea to leave the US or UK and come to a Muslim country, I’d say yes, but try the UAE instead, ok? (not Duabi though, too wild and fancy free. The other emirates are a little more sedate...)
Sunday, June 01, 2003
Yes, the rape stats in the US are MUCH higher than here in Pakistan. True, not all rape is reported in Pakistan, but nor is all rape reported in the US. If we’re going to compare the two rape rates, we can’t just compare America’s reported rape to Pakistan's reported and unreported together (that would be biased, no?). Either compare both reported+unreported for both countries or just compare the reported.
To say that rape has nothing to do with lust and desire is like saying theft has nothing to do with acquisition, or murder has nothing to do with killing. True, a man can still feel desire for a woman who is modestly covered, but there’s a big difference between him lusting over a covered woman as compared to an uncovered one.
A man lusting over an uncovered woman is like a guy walking down the street and seeing a diamond lying out in the open, so he picks it up. Yeah, technically he’s stealing it, but the burden of responsibility for the theft rests on both him and whoever left the diamond out. The fact that the diamond was just lying there may not make what he did any more acceptable, but it sure makes the job for his defense lawyers easier! I’m sure the analogy is fairly straightforward. Though there is no excuse for the man to have stolen/raped, one wonders at the wisdom of the diamond owner/woman who left what was precious lying out in the open for others to covet.
A man lusting over a covered woman is the equivalent of a thief in a museum circumventing all the high-tech security devices and stealing the diamond that he purposely sought out (as compared to the diamond he just found lying on the floor). The owner of the diamond has done the best she can to keep it hidden and well-protected, and if someone steals it, the burden of blame does not lie with her in any way. She did all she possibly could, and if something precious was taken from her, it’s because someone maliciously sought it out, not because she was careless about it.
Logically speaking, if there were no diamonds lying about and tempting potential thieves, there would be a lot less opportunistic theft (rape). There is a big difference between premeditated crime and spur-of-the-moment crime. Unfortunately, modesty will not deter a man who is predetermined to rape a woman, who has premeditated the crime for whatever reason. Fortunately, what it will prevent is an incident like the Puerto-Rican National Day Parade in New York, in 2000.
The Puerto-Rican National Day festivities are notable for the fact that the women go there in the smallest, more revealing clothes possible. The young men go there with video cameras specifically to see these women. What happened that year began pretty normally, women in bikinis and cut-offs strutted around and the men whistled and hooted, and pinched, and horsed around, and then sprayed water, and then sprayed beer, and then surrounded the women and tore off their clothes, assaulting them in broad daylight. This mob of men went on a rampage for four hours, surrounding women and doing a lot more than just harassing them. A French tourist in New York on honeymoon had every stitch of clothing torn off her body. A woman roller-blading by in shorts was knocked over and assaulted. Another woman who had gone there in a bikini was stripped of her clothing (if you can call a bikini clothing) and...I’m sure you know where I’m going.
Could this have happened if the men’s testosterone hadn’t been stirred up? Would the men have been this out of control if there had been nothing there to excite them? Would this have happened if the women had been dressing and behaving modestly? Probably not. The men bear full responsibility for what they did, ( I think they should’ve been castrated) regardless of what the women were wearing. But the women also have to bear responsibility of what they were wearing. If we don’t take responsibility, we sure as hell better be prepared to take the consequences.
One may argue that a woman is a scarf attracts attention, making the scarf counter-productive. To that, I would say that the attention that a hijabi among uncovered women gets is the same attention that a yellow sun-flower would get if it were growing in a field of red poppies. It’s the contrast that catches people’s attention. But this contrast does not culture lust, just curiosity. A man glancing over and seeing a hijabi at a bus stop would probably go, Hmmm? As compared to a man seeing a woman in a mini-skirt at a bus stop, he would probably go, Mmmm...
It’s a biological fact that men are attracted to women. (I’m not going to talk about the exceptions, [homosexuality] I’m just going to talk about the norm.) The norm is that men are attracted to women, and the reality is that not all men control themselves. Therefore, to preserve order, the men have to try to behave and the women have to try not to make it hard for them. I’m doing my part, dammit. You better do yours!
Any other questions? As a hijabi I'm well prepared to talk this subject to death if necessary. :)