Sunday, August 31, 2003
It’s the (takes a deep breath) WEEEEEEEEEEK EEEENNNNNNNNNNND! (dances around chair, hugs refrigerator, rejoices)
Well, I’m well on my way to completing everything that’s on my weekend to-do list. So far I’ve already slept in, had a leisurely breakfast and managed to not change out of my pajamas, so I’m off to a good start! Now all I have to do is catch up with my email and sally forth into blogistan.
(Later today I will clean the house and go swimming, and later this evening I will groan about tomorrow being Monday. Then my weekend ritual will have reached completion.)
I have bits and pieces for today’s blog. Just bits and pieces.
Bit Number One: Words that should be words, but aren’t words, but should be, so there.
Anemies -any of an order (Actinarea) of flower-like Anthozoan sea polyps having a firm, often large, gelatinous body as well as a hostile disposition and a tendency towards enmity.
Calcurat- any of numerous long-tailed rodents of various families (esp. Muridae and Circetidae) with exceptional mathematical skills or the innate ability to do long division. See also Ratador.
Canamel- a camel that practices cannibalism. - vt.- to canamelize.
Ratador- any of numerous long-tailed rodents of various families (esp. Muridae and Circetidae) whose specialty is killing the bull with a sword thrust at the end of a bullfight after performing a series of formalized actions with a cape to anger and tire the animal.
(what, me cheat at Scrabble? He he…)
Bit Number 2: The ISI and I
Oh yeah, and I was tailed by the ISI. I can’t remember what ISI stands for, but it’s the Pakistani CIA, or M-16 or whatever gov’t bureau is supposed to play spy games and do sneaky stuff in really sneaky ways. I left one of the embassies after teaching a class one day and a man walked up to the car window just I was buckling up. He knocked on the glass and I cautiously opened it an inch and said “What?”
He very politely (and even simperingly) asked me what my name was and what I was doing at the Embassy of (insert name of former Soviet-Bloc nation). I told him it was none of his business, since my coming and going at the embassy was already cleared and he (for all I knew) wasn’t connected to the embassy. He wasn’t wearing any uniform, he was just some guy who, up until two minutes ago, had been sitting on the curb outside the embassy gate.
He mumbled something that sounded like “ghar ki” (the house’s) and I was like “ghar ki what?.” He said it again and the phrase turned out to be “sekur-ti” (as in, “a matter of SECURITY”). I told him I was an English teacher and then I drove off.
I didn’t hear anything from him, or see him for a few weeks, but then one evening, as I’m getting ready to go to a reception hosted by the very same embassy, Aniraz comes into the room and says with the weirdest look on her face, “Hey Abez, there’s someone here to see you.”
I was like, who? I never get visitors. She said, “It’s the ISI.” I was like oh come on, don’t be silly. Who’s downstairs? “Really, it’s the ISI,” she said, “What have you been up to?” We had a nervous laugh over that and I went downstairs where I saw…the same guy. It turns out that he traced my license plate number and was here to get my passport number and my ID and stuff like that, and to ask me what I was doing, coming and going from the embassy all the time.
To make a long story short, he couldn’t show me any ID, so I wouldn’t show him mine. (not to be snooty, but American passports sell for around a million (ten lakh) rupees here. I would know, we’ve had offers.) I don’t care where the guy said he was from, a weirdo at my gate with no ID does NOT get my passport number. He confessed that he didn’t know I was a foreign national, if he had known, he would’ve come with ID. (Officer Friendly says: never open your door unless the police office shows his badge, kids.)
Finally, he gave me his name and phone number at the ISI office to verify that he worked there, and once I was satisfied, I was supposed to give my passport number. Before leaving he swore me to secrecy, and told me that no one at the embassy was supposed to know that the embassy was being watched, because he was an undercover operative. (oooh, aaah) After he left I called the American Embassy instead and they sorted it all out for me.
I guarded my ISI secret very carefully and a little nervously, I was good too, I never told anyone, until one day, I was on the phone with another English teacher who worked at the embassy before I did. She was telling me how glad she was to no longer be working there.
“So many times my student would be out of the country but he wouldn’t even have told me so I would show up for class and he wouldn’t be there,” she said, “And on top of that, that silly ISI man followed me around until he figured out where I lived.”
I laughed out loud and said, “Oh no, you too!”
“Yes, and of course I complained to the ambassador,” she said, “And he apologized but what can you do?”
Once I realized that the embassy knew it was being watched by the ISI, I told my student, not about myself, but about the other English teacher being followed by the ISI. “Oh that guy,” he laughed, “We know about him. He’s always sitting outside the gate.”
And that is the end of my adventures in the sneaky and *cough cough* dangerous world of diplomacy and political intrigue.
Bit Number 3: More bits.
Let the newts have a proper education! –Karel Copek., War With The Newts
But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one’s whisker’s green
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen. –Lewis Carrol, The White Knight’s Song
“Ale man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think..” -A.E.Houseman. From “Terrence, This is Stupid Stuff.”
Tell me, O Octopus, I begs,
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus:
If I were thou, I’d call me Us.” -Ogden Nash, The Octopus.
Bit Number 4: Links
Mysterious link number 1. oooohhh
Mysterious link number 2, scary...
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Hello people! I'm posting this article because I want feedback. Is there anything missing? Are there any questions I failed to answer? Any arguments I failed to address? Yes? No? Maybe? So? -Sensei
Don’t do that man, that’s a sin!
yeah, but Allah forgives
Though there are some principles common to both Christianity and Islam, vicarious atonement is not one of them. 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. Apologizing is easy though, because Allah is Most-Merciful, Most-Forgiving, Kinder and More Generous than you could even imagine, and way more Forgiving than any of us would ever deserve. Allah forgives everything, right? Right, but wait, there’s a catch.
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, especially if you’re not even sorry for what you’re doing when you know it’s wrong. Sinning and then brushing it off by saying that Allah forgives everything is not actually being repentant, it’s being opportunistic, it’s called trying to find loopholes. Real forgiveness is called Taubah, and there are four basic steps to it 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 try 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 no one has asked you out. 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 sinning...in between sins... the same way you can’t just quit smoking in between cigarettes. If you realize that you’ve made a mistake, and you sincerely want forgiveness for it, then you have no problem with stopping the sin, at least in theory. Though in practice you may relapse back into sin out of weakness, but this is not the same as saying sorry when you don’t mean it.
The difference between the two is of a person who is having a hard time to quit smoking, and a person who says they’re quitting but makes not attempt to even try. The first person is weak but sincere, and because his intentions are good he will be rewarded according to his good intentions. The second person is not suffering from weakness, but from insincerity. His intentions were never to repent, and for that he can never get the blessings for trying, nor the forgiveness.
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 prayers, 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?
Some people might think of this last step as a form of punishment for the sin you’ve committed, but in actuality, this last step is a major blessing. It’s the opportunity to make up for what you did so wholly and so completely that no one can hold anything against you. It’s like getting a do-over on a test that you’ve already failed once. It’s the opportunity to turn in homework after the deadline. It’s true that the test may still be hard and the homework may still take some work, but at least you get the opportunity to do it over.
Imagine what things would be like if you didn’t have the opportunity to do things over. For example, say you missed a quiz because you slept in, the same way we sometimes we miss Fajr. The zero on that quiz would count heavily against your grade at the end of the year, and there would be absolutely nothing you could do about it, no matter how hard you worked on the other things, no matter how many 100’s you got on the other quizzes, the zero would damage your average in a way that could never be fixed. That would stink. That would be unfair.
But Alhamdulillah, Allah is absolutely the Most Just, He’s the fairest grader of tests/reckoner of deeds you could ever wish for, and He knows that you’re sorry you missed the test/Fajr, so He’s giving you the opportunity to make up for it! Even if you knew you shouldn’t have been snoozing the last time you missed Fajr, Allah gives you your entire life to realize your error and make up for it completely. There is no statute of limitations on forgiveness. That’s good news for sinners, and since we’re all sinners, then we should all be thrilled to hear it.
BUT WHAT IF I HAVE TOO MANY SINS?
There’s no such thing as having too many sins, anyone who thinks that is underestimating Allah’s Infinite Mercy. 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 the sin of worshipping anything other than Allah or associating anything with Him. You can’t apologize to a different god and hope it works on all of them can you?
BUT WHAT IF THEY’RE JUST LITTLE-BITTY SINS…
Said 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 (to burn for a camp-fire). 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."
(drop by drop fills the bucket, straw by straw builds a fire, sin by sin…)
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
Ok, before I post nonsense as usual, I would like to make mention of something related to how much corruption there is in Pakistan, something that my Mother Dearest (da momma) mentioned in the comments of my last blog.
On paper, police officers earn 3,000 rupees a month, which is roughly 45 dollars. Additionally, on paper, anyone who earns only 3,000 rupees a month is eligible to receive zakat (charity/state support). You see how little police officers earn? And you see how hard it would be for them NOT to start taking bribes. 3,000 rupees won’t even rent you a small apartment, for that much money you’d be renting a single room in someone else’s apartment, and still you’d have zero money left over for food, utilities, medical bills, and God forbid you should have children (whose school fees would be 1,500 a month minimum) or a wife, and God forbid they should want to EAT or anything… 3,000 rupees is only enough money for a bachelor to live in a closet and eat lentils (20 rupees a plate) once a day, every third day and wear absolutely nothing. I’m not joking. It’s a ridiculously small amount of money. Government school teachers earn about the same, sometimes more, sometimes less. Low-level clerks, the ones who do most of the bribe-demanding (second to cops anyway) earn 2,500 rupees.
That’s like trying to live on a hundred dollars a month in the US in a big city. Maybe if you lived in a log cabin in the middle nowhere and grew your own food and had no electricity or utilities, you could get by on a hundred dollars, the same way you could live in a village here in a mud building on your family land and work on the family farm.
Although the pathetically low pay of policemen doesn’t relieve them of accountability, it sure shifts much of its weight onto the government’s shoulders. You see why it’s so common here? Most government employees, when faced with the choice of starving honestly or surviving dishonestly, choose the latter and not the former.
But anyway, back to nonsense. I brought half of the swimming pool home with me the other day. I was keeping it in my left ear. It’s all part of a devious plan to steal the swimming pool, one earful at a time, not unlike Radar and the jeep he was sending home in pieces. There was a difficulty with the plan though, I didn’t realize that having an earful of water would affect my hearing so badly, or that I would be unable to get the water out when I got it home. So I spent half of my day with my hand cupped around my ear and the other half of it going, Wha?
There are two morals to this story. The first one is, Thank Allah for your health, well-bring, and senses. Don’t take them for granted, you’ll never know what you had till they’re gone. The second moral is, Don’t steal swimming pools. They’re too much trouble. Steal the lifeguard instead.
What was the other nonsense I wanted to mention? I know there was something…nuts. Can’t remember. Wait, how silly of me to forget. Here we go.
It is said that all good things come to an end. I suppose this is the reason why our phone line (being a good thing and all) has once again come to an end. I feel like a broken record saying this, but the phone line is down. How long was it functioning? Two days, two hectic days in which I typed replies to the backlog of emails in my box that was a mile deep. I just sent the last of them off this morning, and this afternoon the phone line is gone again. Wow. Excuse me one moment.
(solemnly dons camo jacket, hunting hat and boots. picks up turkey rifle and resumes place in front of keyboard.)
Oh great, it's back again now. But it's too late. Phone line or no, I've made up my mind.
-ahem- Open season is hereby announced on all PTCL turkeys. Gentleman, happy hunting.
No more phone line. On top of that I have a dentist appointment cuz wisdom tooth #4 is disturbing the peace. Damn rabble-rouser.
Have a joke instead.
A Swiss guy visiting Sydney, Australia, pulls up at a bus stop where two locals are waiting.
"Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he asks.
The two Aussies just stare at him.
"Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?" he tries. The two continue to stare.
"Hablan ustedes Espanol?"
The Swiss guy drives off, extremely disgusted. The first Aussie turns to the second and says, "Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language."
"Why?" says the other. "That guy knew four languages, and it didn't do him any good."
Sunday, August 24, 2003
Here's a blog from a few days back, before we got the phone line.
Blogging Today: An Exercise in Futility
By Sensei Incensed
Well, our phone line still doesn’t work, but at least we now know what the problem is. See, this whole time we’ve just been calling the PTCL (Pakistan Tele-Communications Limited) people and politely asking that the phone line be fixed. Apparently that’s not the way to do things.
My father has been calling the in-charge, and asking for over a week that the line be fixed. The in-charge said yes, of course, right away. I’ll do it right now. And of course he hasn’t. My father has been calling (from his office) him every day since then, and today my father called and said, “Sadaqat (actually name of actual loser) you’ve promised to fix my phone line every day for the last five days, why hasn’t it been fixed yet?”
In response to this question, Mr.Sadaqat told my father to piss off. Why? Because nothing was going to get done unless his palm was greased first. And still nothing will be done because my dad is not going to bribe the slime-ball.
:::gnashes teeth, tears at garments, pours dust on one’s own head out of angst:::
GRRRRRR! I am SO mad right now, first of all, because some loser had the nerve to tell my father to piss off. That’s completely uncalled-for, my father is an exceedingly polite man, even when he’s angry. My father has the right to be treated with as much respect as he treats other people. Everyone does.
Secondly, I am cheesed that bribery is so common here. I know, I already wrote a blog a while ago about how everyone keeps demanding to be bribed. Well, nothing has changed since then, it’s just infuriating that people are so shameless about it, like it’s their God-given right to take advantage of you. A friend of the family sent their son to study here at an Islamic university, and we were trying to help him get his paper-work and admissions taken care of. For some reason, the admissions office would not give him the letter of acceptance that he needed to get his student visa, they were withholding it but would not give a valid reason why. (I would know, I called them every day for a week!) Finally, some of his other friends went down to the university to see in person what the problem could be. It turns out that there was one thing missing, money. They paid the bribe that the clerk at the admissions office was demanding without telling him. (Eventually he found out.)
This same brother faced the same kinds of obstacles at every step, each obstacle causing him a few days delay, each few days eating away at the deadline for admissions. After a week, he was so fed up with the corruption he found in what was supposed to be an ISLAMIC university that he actually packed his bags and went home again. And I must say, his impression of Pakistan (it was his first time here) has been irremediably scarred. He has an uncle who lives here, who unfortunately shares the same opinion, that all Pakistanis are corrupt Rashi (bribe-takers) and cheaters. Since he was a foreigner, every Pakistani that dealt with him did their best to double and triple their prices for half of their services.
It’s a sad truth that this is very common, and it makes me depressed when I ask my foreign students (out of formality) what they think of Pakistan. They all say the same thing (thinking that I’m just American) that the country is beautiful, and the people are all cheaters. The only that I can say in defense of Pakistan is, “Well, not all the people are cheaters, maybe just eighty percent…” Then I give them the names and addresses of the pitifully few shops here that do not cheat foreigners.
All of my students have been Muslims. True, they’re Muslims from places like Turkey (where Islam is watered-down to say that least) and former Soviet-Bloc countries where Islam was illegal for decades, but even they can say that Islamically, something is wrong here. Not a single one of them prays regularly, and all but one drinks, but every single one of them has told me that their own secular gov’ts back home are doing ten times a better job at running things than this ‘Islamic Republic,’ and in their view, this is a potent argument for why secularism is a perfectly acceptable philosophy and Islam is a perfectly useless one. (See how much good your silly Islam does you?)
Of course, I explain that the problems in Pakistan are due, not to terrorism or sectarianism or anything that a secular government would prevent against (in theory), they’re due to the fact that we’re ignoring our own religion. We’re not practicing ENOUGH Islam. We need more, not less. And we also need a healthy dose of education, literacy, accountability and maybe a little helping of bloody revolution. Yeah, Sensei sounds mad, but she really has it in for those gov’t officials who take themselves and their families to Hajj every year on ZAKAT money when there are still people here in Pakistan who starve to death and children who die because they were too poor to afford medical treatment.
I know that every culture has its own favorite vice so it’s not like I’m saying that Pakistan stinks while the rest of the world smells of roses. This is just so depressing because it’s a prime example of how not enough Taqwa (God-consciousness) can ruin a whole society. If Sadaqat D. Loser had one ounce of fear of Divine Retribution (or the tiniest hope of Divine Reward) he would rather die than be a hard-core rashi, especially since bribery and corruption are such HUGE sins in Islam.
Aaak. See, I’m typing this blog and I don’t even know how soon it can be posted. Who are we supposed to ask to fix the phone when the area in-charge (Sadaqat D. Loser) himself flatly and rudely refused to do anything until we bribed him?
Well, chances are, if I post this blog, it’ll be because I printed it out at home and have typed it up at the internet café. If that is the case, I’m glad this one’s a long one because I have no idea when I’ll be getting the phone line and y’all be getting an update. AllahuAalim.
I’m going to go rage against the machine now. And I’m taking Aniraz’s slingshot.
Saturday, August 23, 2003
the phone line is BACK!!!!!!!!!and I have a whole file of backed-up blogs to post. Here's number one. :)
It’s 1:32 am and I’m supposed to be doing my class work for tomorrow, but I’m blogging instead. Don’t ask me why I’m blogging when I don’t even have a phone line. I don’t know why. All I can say is there’s no one else awake to make me do my homework, so nya.
I could’ve fallen down and killed myself today. It would’ve been totally self-infected though not entirely my fault. I blame the giant cockroach. At work this morning, I was sitting in the chair next to one of my Irani students, helping him out with the class work, when a cockroach deemed it fit to interrupt by climbing up my student’s foot. At this point, I went, Aak! Cockroach!
In response to this outburst, my student gave me the same uncertain look that all elementary ESL students have when you use a word they don’t understand, and he began opening his dictionary to the ‘C’ section. I stood up (and here’s where I nearly fell and died) way too fast and took a step backward and pointed to his foot. “By your foot!” I said, and he looked down and realized what I was talking about.
“Ah,” he said, with the imaginary light bulb over his head turning on. He then smiled and very casually put his foot down on top of the roach, and left it there. When the class ended an hour later, and the principal/headmaster/owner of the language institute came in to speak to me, the Irani got his attention and then very politely passed him the squashed roach that he had been storing under his foot the whole time. The headmaster sheepishly accepted it and then kicked it out the door. Such is life in Pakistan.
The other way I nearly wounded myself was slightly more serious. I say slightly because I mean slightly, it wasn’t so very dangerous, but it was scary, ok? I put my fingers on the line in the dramatic life-or-death rescue of…an ornamental pigeon.
I had just done wudu and I was about to hop on the prayer rug for some Muslim Macarena (oops, I mean Maghrib) when the doorbell rang. I went to check who was at the gate. On my way there, I noticed that the guard-dog seemed pretty interested in something, but I had to check the door first. I peeked through the gate and saw one of the villagers from across the street standing there. I said, Ji? (what/yes/hunh?) And the guy said, Baji, my pigeon…
It took a few seconds for it to click. My first thought was, What about your pigeon? The second thought was, I wonder what the dog’s up to, and my third thought was, Oh my God! Save the pigeon!
I ran over to where the dog was so happily employed in gnawing on an ornamental white pigeon, and I tried to take the pigeon out of the dog’s mouth. People, let me tell you this, never try to take food from an animal, even if it’s your animal, boy does it make them mad. The dog took the pigeon back from me (just jumped up and snapped it back) and started to make off with it. I had to chase the dog and wrestle the bird back, and by that time the dog had succeeded in worrying off a bunch of its feathers…It was still alive though. I held the pigeon over my head (height is one of my few pathetic advantages over the dog) and went back to the gate with the dog following me and doing her best impersonation of a snarling kangaroo, trying to leap up and steal the bird back. And of course, the dog was furious and the man was very grateful to have his lovely white pigeon back, even without some feathers.
I’m glad that the pigeon’s story had a happy ending. Unfortunately our guard dog, being the ferocious man-eating beastie that she is, regularly catches birds and eats them in the driveway, leaving nothing but feathers. (cue rousing musical score) Where dozens of bul-bul have perished, THE PIGEON SURVIVED! Ooooh, aaah. Gripping. Dramatic. An emotional tour-de-force. I expect that Paramount Pictures will be along shortly to buy the rights to the pigeon’s harrowing tale. The End.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
The phone line hasn't worked for days, and there's no guarantee that it will work tomorrow, and yet, I cling to hope, futile though it may be, that mayhap one day there SHALL be a phone line, whose clarion dial tone shall be to mine ear as water is to the throat of one who is parched for long and many days. (Sensei is reading Ivanhoe, can ye tell?)
But yeah, so there's no phone line. There may not be one tomorrow, so I'm actually typing this at an internet cafe. Here I go. Pardon the typos, there will probably be thousands.
I have a new student, which, in accordance to tradition, makes me nervous and causes me to dread every day that bring me closer to the first class. Sense confesses, Sensei isn't really an adult, she's just a kid who's infiltrated their world and is afeared of being found out. Really, it's intimidating trying to teach someone double your age and twice as important as you'll ever be.
"Uh, look here, Mr. Diplomat, sir..." Sensei sez, trying to be respectful and stern at the same time, "This is the third time this week you've neglected your homework. What's the point of moving on to next week's lesson if you haven't bothered to learn this weeks, sir."
At this point I'm worried that Mr.Diplomat will thunder back, "Silence, Upstart American!" I've been busy with a delegation all this week and I have better things to do than your insipid vocabulary lessons!"
I know, I know, none of my students would ever say anything like that. They're all very nice, in fact, all of the diplomatic-type people I've met have seemed like very nice guys. Of course, I'm sure it's part of the job to seem like a nice guy, it's only when you turn your back that they bust out all the devious spy vs. spy stuff, he he. I like to imagine that at least one of the students I teach from one of the embassies I teach at is a spy. It makes my life more interesting. Aniraz thinks it might be the security officer, based on the fact that he seems the least likely, and that's probably his cover. I think it's the third secretary, anyone who smiles that much must be hiding something...
And speaking of sneaky things, I was tailed by the ISI once. The ISI is the Pakistani CIA or FBI or M-16, or whatever gov't department it is whose job involves doing really sneaky things in really sneaky ways. But that, dear blogistanis, is a story for another day. My net cafe time is up. Read my momma's blog instead. :)
A thousand pardons fellow blogistanis, we haven't had a phone line for the last week, and though I've typed numerous blogs since then, I can't really post them. :( I so sorry. (sniff sniff)
But don't worry, my Mother Dearest is back to blogging again! Also known as Da Momma or, the Rockingest Momma in all Worlds, here she is, click here to visit my momma's blog
Oh, and if her comments aren't working, just meander back this way and leave one here. :)
Friday, August 15, 2003
there's no phone line at home today, and no shift key on this keyboard. hmmph. i'll leave ya'all with some interesting reading instead. peace!
and have a joke at new york's electricity-free expense, he he.
The Pearly Gates Meet the Big Apple
Saint Peter was manning the Pearly Gates when forty people from New York City showed up.
Never having seen anyone from the Big Apple at heaven's door, Saint Peter said he would have to check with God. After hearing the news, God instructed him to admit the ten most virtuous people from the group.
A few minutes later, Saint Peter returned to God breathless and said, "They're gone!"
"What? All of the New Yorkers are gone?" asked God.
"No!" replied Saint Peter. "The Pearly Gates!"
Monday, August 11, 2003
I don’t know that my question about hijab yielded any useful answers, just wild theories about aerodynamics and tea cozies. Not that tea cozies are a bad thing. I’m sure that if I had a tea pot (that we actually used) I’d want it to be stylishly dressed. Yes. Of course. Excuse me while I tie a ribbon around the saucepan we boil chai in…
Well, I have about fifteen minutes to blog before I’m off to the swimming pool. Ah, quick, type something!
Oops, I wasted all my time munching dinosaur cake. And a sandwich pickle. Quite delicious. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to swim on a full stomach, but it’s ok. If I drown Aniraz can rescue me. Or if she doesn’t, I’ll take her down with me! Mwahahaaa! (splash)
I return, largely undrowned but very waterlogged. You know, I have one of those silly nose-clips, but that doesn’t stop me from inhaling water through my mouth. This often happens when I’m pretending to be the man from Atlantis, trying to see how long I can swim underneath the water, and I push myself to stay under as long as I can. Inevitably I panic at the last moment and start breathing before I even reach the surface. Needless to say, I am NOT a good swimmer. I’m not even a decent swimmer. To be honest, I don’t know whether you could call what I do ‘swimming’. It’s more like aquatic thrashing.
I know I need swimming lessons, maybe I need goggles too. At least then I could see underwater, and that might give my ‘Man from Atlantis’ act some credibility, or at least visibility. Goggles wouldn’t stop me from inhaling water though. What I really need is scuba gear. Or gills.
Aniraz just scolded me and told me to quit slacking off and write a decent blog. Oooohhh…(whine whine whine)…I’m sore from swimming, there’s a ketchup stain on my lap (don’t ask) and I just got home. I don’t know that I’ve done anything in like, a week that I could write a decent blog about, though I have seen four other taxis with TV antennae. (he he) I also saw a taxi with the word ‘JESUS’ stenciled on it in big, red capitals. This is compared to other taxis, which usually say things like ‘N+S,’ ‘Prince’ or ‘Game of Death.’ I have a few theories about the JESUS taxi. They are as follows.
Theory Number One: The taxi driver is a Christian. This theory is unlikely because unfortunately, Christians here face quite a bit of discrimination. A Christian would never advertise, not unless they were looking to run their taxi at a loss. I feel sorry that this kind of discrimination exists in Pakistan, holding someone’s religion against them isn’t kosher. It’s bad when people do that to Muslims, it’s worse when we pass it on to other people.
Theory Number Two: The taxi itself is Christian. Not possible. Everything Allah created submits to His will without question (except men and jinns, what losers we are), and though man may have ASSEMBLED the taxi, it is Allah who created the basic materials and they obey Him and the laws of nature that He’s laid out for them. Based on this theory, I would say that taxis are better Muslims than humans are, but I think this might get me in trouble with someone, somewhere. Somehow. I don’t know. Next theory please.
Theory Number Three: The taxi driver is angling for the Messiah’s business when the Messiah returns (the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and all of Allah’s apostles.) What better way to get Prophet Jesus’ attention than to write the name in big red letters? Everyone’s attention is piqued when they see their own name in print, yes? Hey man, I know if I saw a taxi that said ‘ABEZ’ I’d hail it sooner than one that said ‘BUTT’S TAXI.’ (actual taxi, BUTT is a last name. It would more properly be spelled as BHATT, but since most people aren’t Gora Saabs like me, they don’t care what the name spells in Angraizi)
And the last theory is, the taxi driver is suffering from delusions and thinks that he IS the Messiah. Shame on him. I’m going to tattle on him to someone, somewhere. Somehow. So there.
Wednesday, August 06, 2003
I don’t often wish I were a boy. Alhamdulillah, I’m usually quite happy with my lot in life, but today was an exception. Here’s why. My father was on the phone with a family friend, we’ll call him Uncle Jee. Uncle Jee was telling us about his son. Uncle Jee’s son was having a tough time, he was depressed and upset and generally displeased with life and work, and one day he disappears. Walks out of the front door and isn’t heard from. No one knows where he is and they start to get worried. A few days pass. Finally Uncle Jee gets a phone call.
It’s from his son. His son is in Saudi. He’s run away to Umrah, he’s doing fine and he’ll be home in a month. Thankyou, goodbye, KhudaHafiz.
Wow man, I wish I could just up and zip off to Umrah whenever I was feeling low. But I can’t You can’t just up and zip off and leave the country without telling anyone, if you disappear for five minutes by yourself they assume you’re dead, or worse. But I’m not going to complain about always traveling with someone else, because it’s supremely stupid and unnecessarily risky for a young woman to travel alone. And that’s why we should all be boys. The end.
Whoops, wrong conclusion. Anyway. I’m happy for Uncle Jee’s son. He’s home again and feeling rather refreshed. Ha ha, boy is he lucky that he works for his father, if he disappeared on anyone else he would come home and find himself unemployed.
Late-breaking news. We regret to inform you that Umrah has been postponed. We do not, however, regret that is has been rescheduled for RAMADAN!! Oh yeah man…zillions more blessings InshaAllah, InshaAllah. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.
I was reminded again today of how very little people know about Islam. One of my students, an eleven-year old girl asked me today, “Do you HAVE to wear a scarf?”
I said, “I don’t HAVE to, I choose to. I like it! What, you don’t like my scarf?”
And she said, “If you don’t wear it they’ll cut off your hair right?”
At this point I have two questions. The first one being: They who? Who will cut off my hair? And the second being: Where did an eleven year old hear such weirdness? From her parents? From a book? From a made-for-TV movie about them damn Moozlim terrorists?
I didn’t ask her where she heard it. I just laughed and tried to explain hijab to her as best I could, but you know, modesty is a complicated issue, and it’s hard to talk about it without mentioning the rape, immorality, and desensitization to nudity that modesty deters. I can’t talk to her about these things, her parents will fire me for teaching her potty-words!
So instead we talked about how weird it is when she wears shorts and people stare at her (we’re in Pakistan, knees are a novelty). “Yeah,” she said, “Boys are gross.”
So, we came to the conclusion that boys are gross. Okay. Good job Sensei.
Anyone have any bright ideas for explaining hijab to kids? I don’t seem to be doing too well…
Tuesday, August 05, 2003
Ah Mondays. I mortally wounded myself, and I would take a picture except then the picture never looks as painful or life-threatening as the situation really is. Hmmph. What now? I burned three of my knuckles simultaneously while baking cookies. Not at all exciting. Basically I punched the over rack while trying to slide in a tray of cookies. The oven rack started it. I was like Lissen here Mr. Oven, you will take these cookies and you will bake these cookies and if you burn these cookies like you burned my cookies last time, I will destroy you.
Then the oven snorted and made an unmentionable comment about my mother’s apron and I admit, I threw the first punch. Wham, right into the oven rack.
:::tsss::: (that’s the sound of my knuckles turning magenta)
The oven’s heat, I think it might be some sort of self-defense mechanism. But anyway. I think I’m having a hard time blogging because I’m really, really tired and it’s still 3 ½ hours till bedtime, traditionally observed at 2 am on weekdays and 3 am on weekends.
And yet, I return! It’s tomorrow now, (Tuesday) and I’m not at work…HAHA! Woke up this morning feeling substandard and I decided to stay home. I called and postponed the class that was scheduled for this morn and then I flopped myself down on the sofa for some sleep. I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to get up and do something useful.
One thing lead to another, and eventually up to me kneeling on the floor with a can of WD-40 and a screwdriver, taking my computer chair apart. (What can I say, I have a fever.) I was trying to adjust the height, but the chair was all dusty and rusty and needed greasing. I battled the chair for a while, thoroughly greased it (and myself) and was ready to put it back together, so I picked the chair up by the arms and tried to put the rod back into the base. But, since my fingers were already slick with WD-40, one of the arms slipped free, and the heavy chair swung in my grip and crashed into my left knee, unidentified pokey-thing foremost. And then I died.
What a morning. Not only have I bruised and punctured my knee, I’ve also turned my cuticles and the tips of my nails black with lubricant that won’t wash off. And on top of that, the chair STILL isn’t tall enough. I should have gone to work. –sigh-
Sorry my blogging has been even more sporadic than usual. It’s monsoon season, and the phone line is cut and re-connected several times every hour. You never know when it’ll be back, and even when it is back, you never know whether it is good enough. Apparently the PTCL (Pakistan Tele-Communications Limited) people made a mistake and routed our phone line through Siberia, cuz every time we pick up the receiver it sounds like a snowstorm. Snowstorms are very inconducive to internet connectivity.
And now I’m just typing to bide time between the moments when I will sprint back to the phone and lift the receiver, trying to surprise it into producing a dial tone. Oh well. Now that I have my comments back I’ll re-ask the last poll question: What’s the weirdest place you ever prayed? –or- What was the weirdest experience you ever had while praying in a public place?
Labels: Mortal Wounds
Sunday, August 03, 2003
The phone line at home is flooded again, and here I am at my favorite net cafe, poking away on the ghetto keyboard and maliciously deleting all the porn that someone has taken the trouble to download. (MWAHAHAAAAA!) Just kidding. There isn't any on my computer, but Aniraz is on the computer next to me deleting such things with righteous indignation.
So I'm counting down the days and weeks till I get to go to Umrah (InshaAllah, InshaAllah) and I'm all excited. EEEeeeeEEE! (bounces up and down in chair) I'm really looking foward to getting the nearest thing to a clean slate. If I perform Umrah correctly (InshaAllah, InshaAllah) then I get a whole mess of sins forgiven. :D
Je sui beaucoup happy!
It's hard to think what to type while sitting in the internet cafe. Time is money, money is time, etc. And it usually takes me a long time to type a blog. Therefore this one is short, and I will end it with a joke. :)
Ready for Society?
A man who had been in a mental institution for some years finally improved to the point where it was thought he might be released. The psychiatrist that ran the institution decided it was better to proceed with caution, and chose to interview him first.
"Tell me," said the doctor, "if we release you, as we are considering, what do you plan to do with your life?"
The inmate said, "It would be wonderful to get back to real life, and if I do, I will certainly refrain from making my former mistake. I was a nuclear physicist, you see, and it was the stress of my work in weapons research that helped to put me here. If I am released, I shall limit myself to work in pure theory, where I believe the situation will be less difficult and stressful."
"Wonderful," said the psychiatrist.
"Or else," continued the patient, "I might teach. There is something to be said for dedicating your life to expanding the knowledge of young people."
"Definitely," said the psychiatrist.
"Then again, I might write. There is always a need for books on science, or I may even write a novel based on my experiences in the psychiatric institution."
"Another interesting possibility," agreed the doctor.
"And finally, if none of these things works out, I can always be a fire engine."