Saturday, July 31, 2004
Dear/AssalamuAlaikum Family & Blogistan
I'm typing this letter/ blog from the comfort of... (drumroll please) Baji's house! Mwahahaaa! I dunno if she knows we're here yet, but it'll be lotsa fun when she arrives later tonight. Baji's engagement party is tomorrow, and Chai drove up to G-ma's house to pick Owlie & I up for the party. We'll be staying here until Sunday morning, until then we're working on getting plenty of use out the pool table downstairs.
A note on wandering about Southern Indiana: it's been a-mighty interesting. We've met lots of curious and interesting people, (Hi, I'm Brian from the Church of Christ, what church do you go to?) and seen many interesting things (the county fair serves deep-fried Oreo cookies. whaa...?) and eaten things we probably shouldn't have: fried fish, and lots of it. Our Aunt Elaine hosted us a mini fish-fry at her river cabin with all the proper fixings- macaroni and cheese, cole-slaw, a big red dog, mosquitoes, chocolate pudding cake and southern twang. The twang makes the fish tastes better. It also makes things sound cuter, and it makes you smile to hear , "Excyooz me, y'girls mind 'f I ask y'all bout those thangs on yer head?"
People have been very nice here, something I unfortunately cannot say about some people in other places, people who started swearing at us from across the street while at a Dunkin Donuts, people who tsk-tsk and say to us 'Too much clothes!' and those who have offered to lend us trench coats in case we were cold. Why else do people cover their heads except when they're cold?
In any case, we have had a nice time here, and overall people have been very nice. Especially Chai's mom and Baji's mom, who offered us some snacky-wackies in the kitchen-witchen. I think we'll have-shave some. he he...
Peace & Snacky-Wacky Grease!
The computer Chair
Living Room, Baji's House
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Dear Mom & AssalamuAlaikum Dad& Z1 & Fuzzy & Zaymun & Oleo Corpoleo & Blogistan
I’ve only got half an hour to type (those are the rules down here at the Barret Memorial Library, Petersburg, IN) so I hope you guys forgive me for combining four separate letters with this one blog entry.
We’ve been in Indiana since Sunday. Z1 (the big bro) drove us down as far as Uncle Rusty’s house, where we sat on the sofas and hung out with cousins we hadn’t seen for about four years. A note about my Uncle Rusty, he loves Pakistani food. Sometimes I wonder whether he’s related to us from my mother’s side at all, or whether he’s actually a displaced Chacha (brother of my father) who somehow ended up in Indiana. We brought him a tub of Nihari and a tub of Biryani. (Note to Fuzzy: That biryani was Delicious with a capital D.)
We also met two Mormon missionaries who were at Uncle Rusty’s house for lunch. My Momma used to feed the missionaries every Sunday, so it was a very nostalgic experience for us to see the fresh-faced, well-intentioned, but too-young-to-be-too-brilliant missionaries with the black name-tags and back-packs.
After good-bye hugs and one good-bye squeeze from my Uncle that fractured at least three of my ribs, we jumped in G-ma’s little red car and finished the rest of the eight-hour drive catching up. We’ve been here for the last five days, baking cookies, eating G-ma’s famous tuna casserole and zipping about southern Indiana. We’ve also been mildly productive, we broke G-ma’s bathtub spigot. Then we replaced it. That was exciting. It involved a few trips up to the hardware store in town where a nice man humored our questions and guided us through the painfully silly process of installing a new spigot.
1. Buy new spigot. (the hardware store is only twenty minutes away)
2. Remove old spigot. (bang bang bang. ok, now what?)
3. Place threads of spigot onto pipe. (it isn’t fitting! Back to the hardware store, STAT!)
4. Place threads of adjusted spigot (the hardware man took an extra rubber bushing off) onto pipe.
5. Turn spigot clockwise. (which way is clockwise?)
6. Oh, that way, he he.
7. Enjoy. (whee! Showers for everyone!)
Other adventures here at G-ma’s house have included a trip up to Hornady Park, the beautiful green pond & park where we spent the halcyon days of or youth torturing each other on the teeter-totter (mooOOOooom, she won’t let me dooOOOoown!) and feeding the ducks. Well, more than ducks actually. First there were the red-faced thingies that looked like ducks but hissed like snakes when you didn’t crank those crackers our fast enough. Then there were these white things that looked like ducks but honked like geese and ate like pigs. There were one or two proper ducks, cute little things trailing cute little ducklings, but they were muscled out of the way by the several proper geese, three-feet tall and mean-tempered. When they opened their beaks you had a choice, you could fill the beak with crackers of you could suffer The Wrath. We tossed the crackers and ran.
We plan on having an adventure later today, but right now we’re doing laundry. Rather, G-ma and Owlie are doing laundry at the Laundromat while Abez, Minister of Miscommunications, is here at Barret Memorial Library, where incidentally, her time is up.
Well Blogistanis, we hope to post some pictures after we get back to Chicagoistan and develop the film. More coming later, but how much later is unsure. G-ma doesn’t have internet access.
Love, Peace and Salan Grease,
Barret Memorial Library
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Leaving tomorrow for G-ma's house. All aboard for hugs, chocolate cookies and swinging on the front porch. toot toot!
Conversation of the day:
Me: Hi Hamza! It's been a long time, how old are you now, five?
Hamza: No, five and a half!
Hamza: Yes. And still a ninja.
Hamza. The Ninja.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Just when you think that everyone has grown up, your elder brother hits you in the face with a pair of socks. Ah, memories.
Friday, July 23, 2004
Four years ago, when Owlie and I lived with our uncle in Karachi while the rest of the family till lived in Chicago, I hoped that the phone was ringing for us from the US, and the home I missed was in Chicago. Four years later, I languish in Chicago and hope that it’s Pakistan calling. It’s an interesting reversal, and proof positive that home is not a location, it’s a feeling. Or, as the ten-year old calendar on my grandma’s kitchen wall used to say, “Home is where the heart is.” Although my heart is still safely lodged in my chest cavity, my ribs don’t feel quite at home.
I miss waking up in a happy sprawl with my pillows on the floor and my blanket under my head.
I miss reading the newspaper in the morning and then hopping into my pop can (car) and zooming off to work on the LEFT side of the road.
I miss the little row of zinnias outside of our front door and the two jasmine bushes that smell sweet at night.
I miss the dog, I miss her slobbery, unconditional love and the adoring look that she will give to absolutely anyone.
I miss the daily soccer game played in the field behind our house and find television to be a poor substitute.
I miss my brother, his brain full of interesting nonsense, his heart full of good intentions and his mouth full of amiable argument that he likes passing the time with. (Ten squirrels with machetes versus a bear with a machine gun. Who’d win?)
I miss my father, I miss him and his silly jokes and his cheating at Scrabble and his psychic ice-cream vibes and his motorcycle rides and the way that he sighs ‘Allaaaaaaaaahhh…” to himself when he’s tired.
I miss my mother, I miss hanging out in her waterbed with a bottle of nailpolish and a lap full of chocolates. I miss how she’s the only person I can hug without feeling self-conscious, how she will dance with me around the dining table and let me talk at her without telling me I’m nuts.
I don’t want to complain, because I am enjoying myself, and we have been hosted and received with kindness and love. We’re kept busy from morning till night with friends, camp meetings, summer parties and sight-seeing nostalgia, but when the Isha prayers have been said and I have again lain down in a borrowed room, my mind goes back to home, to the people in it and the four more weeks until I see any of them again. I toss and poke at a strange pillow.
I roll over.
I miss my bed.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
Monday, July 19, 2004
Nephew number one. Just got back from a night at Chuckee Cheese's, and he's full of pop, pizza, sugar and madness. This picture was taken one second before he zoomed off and started pressing plastic spiders on various party guests.
Nephew number two. So cute he can get away with anything. This kind of thing should really be illegal...
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Walking past an abortion clinic on the way to buy milk this morning, we were stopped by a wide-eyed lady with an armful of literature who looked us and gasped, "You girls aren't going in there, are you?!"
We told her obviously not.
"Good," she said, placing her hand on her heart and sighing in relief, "I don't know if I could take that this morning..."
We laughed nervously and walked away through the rows on nuns on both sides of the side walk (praying) and onwards to the gas station. On the way an interesting discussion ensued, about what difference, if any, these people in front of the abortion clinics are making, whether their 11th hour appeals to the women who enter these clinics do, in fact, save any lives. The problem is complicated, and the nuns outside the clinic seem to be a little late in their attempt to prevent abortions from happening, especially when you consider that the best way to prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancy. I'm sure the Catholic group that those nuns are part of have some sort of abstinence program for their youth, and they might be trying to advocate chastity, but I don't know how far they'll get when their teenagers are dressing like prostitutes.
I'm not saying that to be mean, and I know it sounds pretty shocking, but a perusal of the mall (and of the mall-goers as well) revealed that tiny combinations of black and pink with stiletto heels are all the rage. I've never seen shorter shorts or so many fleshy half-moons hanging out of said shorts. I could be accused of over simplifying the problem here, and of saying that dressing like a prostitute makes you act like a prostitute, but that's not what I'm trying to say. I'm not saying that at all, actually. What I'm getting at is that if these nuns, these well-meaning and God-fearing people want to prevent abortions, then they need to prevent the pregnancies, and if they want to prevent the pregnancies, then they need to prevent the sex, and if they want to prevent that, then they need to take it off the teenagers' minds, and if they want to do that, they better put some clothes on these little girls because apparently a pair of shorts with 'Hot Stuff' written on the seat are not conducive to modesty and chastity and all that nice stuff.
The woman in front of the abortion clinic with the flyers was shocked that three young women dressed as we were, in modest clothing and head scarves, would be headed for abortions. Apparently she knows what I'm getting at. Someone else understands the link between modest dress and modest behavior (though it isn't always 100%). So why are they so reluctant to acknowledge the darker side of that link, that IMmodest dress leads to IMmodest behavior?
Some truths are less obvious than others.
Friday, July 16, 2004
AssalamuAlaikum Blogistan and Momma-Abbustan.
I'm sitting in the UIC computer lab right now with Owlie, Sabah & Shamaila, finishing up the camp book enjoying this really comfy swivel chair. Wheee! We're about to break for lunch- kabobs in pita bread we brought from home, yummy, and after that we'll get back to work. Here's a quick summary of what we've been up to so far:
Last night we went bowling at Lincoln Square Lanes, naturally I lost, but I maintain that I had the most fun. I had a strawberry milkshake from McDonalds, which cost me two dollars and took over half an hour's worth of laborious sucking to consume. Man, I think there was a vein standing out on my forehead by the time I finished. I should've just gotten a spoon. I repent. I do taubah. No more milkshakes for me.
After bowling we went back to the park near our old highschool where we played on the swings and swung across the monkey bars, just like in the good old days... just like senior year. he he. Yes, Abez & co played in the park all the way till college, pushing the tire swings and falling into the wood-chip until the principal gave us diplomas and kicked us out.
Time to go for lunch, I'll blog later InshaAllah. Still haven't figured out how to use my brother's digicam, the first step of which being to OBTAIN the digicam, which I have yet to do. Ah well.
Peace & Handi Grease!
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Very busy finalizing camp book, I'll type a real post later. In the mean time, I need help finding a small 'SalAllahu Alaihi' graphic to follow the name of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings of Allah be upon him(this is where the graphic would be useful). I left my clipart collection at home. :( HELP!
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Dear Mom & Abbu & Blogistan
Yesterday Owlie, Sabah and I went out and replaced the beat-up sandals that I used to wear around the house- the ones the housekeeper was always making fun of and mom always trying to throw away. I'd give you permission to throw them away mom, but I actually brought them with me for safekeeping. :p I guess I'll throw them away myself. They were good shoes too, maybe we should have a memorial service...
We also went to Jewel, where we wandered around aisles wider than most stores in a building larger than our local plaza, gawking at more food than anyone could eat in their entire lives, and eventually buying nothing. I don't want to be so terribly fob-bish, maybe I'm just being 3rd-worldish, but that store was overwhelming, just in the sense of what was available, and wondering how much would be thrown away when it expired. There certainly are alot of food options for a people enamored with fast food. Maybe they go shopping and get overwhelmed too, so then they end up going out for falafel instead. That's what we did anyway.
Yesterday we went to Evanston for lunch, after which we wandered around and then gravitated towards the beach. We clambered over the rocks and stood with our feet in the lake. We were enjoying the beach in the subdued, non-nekkid way that hijabis do when a woman in the distance began jogging towards us. When I turned and saw her, my first impression was that she had left the pants that went with the jacket she was wearing at the other end of the beach. Turns out it wasn't a mistake. She was a life guard with a red jacket over her bikini, and she was here to tell us that this was not the proper beach entrance and that if we wanted to use the beach then we would have to buy a token.
Alright, we said. How much is a token.
Seven dollars, she said. And you have to buy them from over there.
We politely nodded and then made our way back over the rocks. After walking out of earshot, a motiont to boycott Evanston was proposed. All in favor say aye.
The council unanimously agreed. Dunno where we're going today, but I bet it's not Evanston.
Peace & Handi Grease
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
A family tradition for international arrivals: Giordano's stuffed spinach pizza eaten on the very box in which it came. Notice our stylish cardboard plates.
Monday, July 12, 2004
I feel FOB-ulous.
(That's FOB as in: Fresh Off the Boat)
FOBular observations by Abez
- Costco is bigger than Islamabad airport.
- Judging by a fried breast-piece I met at yesterday's picnic, I think your chickens could beat up our goats.
- The fruit is unnaturally large. RUN, it's FRANKENFRUIT!!!!
- I could ride in an SUV with a whole bunch of other stuff in the back seat, like a bag, some golf clubs, a bedroom suite, my car...
Next time: Pics and more FOBulous thoughts coming your way. :)
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Dear Mommma, Dad and Bloggers
Well, something about this computer's cookie settings won't allow me to log in to my email box to sent my parents a letter, so I'm writing my parents a blog instead.
The plane trip was pretty good, for the first time in my life I can say that I enjoyed flying PIA. The plane was new, a Boeing 777, which means nothing to me technically but in laymen's terms it meant bigger seats with foot rests and personal computer screen thingies, even in economy with multiplayer gaming and your choice of movies & stuff. I ended up watching a fifty year-old adaptation of a Russian version of Beauty and the Beast, where Beauty’s name is Anastasia and her headdress and frock are distinctly Ukrainian. (the Beast, after he transformed, looked something like a hunky Estonian.)
I also watched the relatively new Dreamworks cartoon, Sinbad. I give it as many thumbs down as I possibly can, which is two, and as I type this I’m trying to curl my toes to see if I can add two more. Three of the four thumbs are for historical inaccuracy. Having read the original 1001 Arabian Nights as a child, I can tell you that Sinbad is-
a- not Greek
b- not a pirate
c- not a polytheist
Where in the movie he’s all of the above, a thief from Syracuse whose run-in with the goddess Aris (sp?) sets him on a whirlwind adventure with a sassy chick with which he obviously and eventually falls in love. The last downward thumb is for the cute animal that cartoon-makers feel the need to include in every movie. My theory is that this is the plush, adorable character that the children will nag their parents to buy, like Flounder from the Little Mermaid, Pegasus from Hercules and the raccoon from Pocahontas. This time it was a slobbery but sagacious dog who leaps in and licks people at all the warm and fuzzy moments, and can launch harpoons at the really dramatic ones.
Dreamworks did do an interesting and imaginative job with the animation though, so technically it gets four thumbs down but one pinky up. But I should stop reviewing two-year old cartoons now. You should have seen it for yourself by now, lol.
Right, well there’s an MSA reunion picnic that Owlie and I are off to right now. I have a whole bunch of other exciting and Fob-flavored observations that I could include in this blog (your Costco is bigger than our airport) but I’ll have to hold them till next time.
Love to Momma & Abbu, take care of yourselves and each other, don’t do anything crazy now. :)
Love, Peace & Handi Grease
#101 Chicagoistan, USA
Friday, July 09, 2004
Sensei Presents: Pre-Flight Packing Highlights:
-I found a bag that I thought was empty. Actually, it was our winter storage for crickets. That was exciting.
-Fatigue makes you do funny things. Stabbing yourself in the lip with a sewing needle is not one of them.
-We're flying back on the same plane with Chai & Ismo. I thought that was pretty cool. :)
T minus eight hours and counting till take-off. Daylight and shopping time fading fast. Next time I blog it'll be from Chicagoville. :) Everybody pray we have a safe journey InshaAllah.
Love, Peace & Salan Grease!
Thursday, July 08, 2004
A week or two ago, I made the pukka intention of losing five pounds before I got to the US. You would assume that following that sort of intention I’d do stuff like work out more often, eat less, and sleep less. Well you assume wrong my friend, I have been working out more, but the eating has been augmented with Salt & Vinegar Chips (Pakistan Zindabad! they finally got around to making them!) and my sleep has been increased with a daily nap. There are three days before Owlie and I zoom off to the US, and how does my weight-loss stand? At two pounds.
Am I disappointed? Not in the least. I was actually expecting to have gained weight, because although I started my weight-loss regimen off with gusto, it kinda petered out after the third or fourth day due to the stress, the heat, and the Salt and Vinegar Chips, whose glorious name shall be capitalized henceforth.
Aside from losing those last three pounds, sometime before now and Sunday I also have to:
-drop clothes off at the tailor
-pick up other clothes from other tailor
-buy remaining gifts (this should be capitalized too, it’s a big project)
-find a non-broken suitcase (we’re Desi, we have no less than 12 suitcases with no less than twelve holes, tears, or missing wheels)
Right. I have to go eat…err… run errands.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Seeing as how it’s been SUCH a long time since I posted, I wanna type a rockem-sockem kinda blog, but alas, it hasn’t been a rockem-sockem kinda week. It’s been an interesting week, what with my little brotha and his little friend (nineteen year olds are so cute! Awww, coochie coochie…) coming from the States. There’s also been loads of other stuff going on, and it turns out that I have stress-induced dyspepsia, isn’t that exciting! Between the chaos of trying to plan a trip and trying to entertain house guests and trying to buy gifts for everyone on a budget my stomach is trying to digest itself.
Ironic and amusing as that may seem, it’s a bit unsettling and more often than not- it’s nauseating. I don’t know why I’m bothering to write about it except that it’s been bothering me. I get a phone call in which someone asks me when the trip is. As I answer them, I remember that so much is unfinished and so many aspects of the trip are uncertain, and then I get a kick in the stomach. That’s what it feels like anyway. Then I have to wander over to the refrigerator and drink a bottle of antacid. (Gaviscon, yum.) I’ve also been on pump-inhibitors for weeks, which in laymen’s term means medicine that will tell my hyper-enthusiastic stomach to not put out quite so much acid, thank you very much. Man, I need a vacation from planning this vacation.
I shouldn’t complain though, really. I should just grin and bear it, because if I maintain that life is a test, then I shouldn’t be so averse to being tested. Logically that’s what my mind is saying- my mind is going, “Is this it? Is this the best the world can throw at me? Bring it on!” but my stomach is going *gurgle?* and then pumping out four times too much of the burning stuff. Luckily for me though, the stomach is not in charge and I refuse to be brought down! Ha! Allah stresses us and tests us in the same way that a smith will smelt metal, burning away the baser elements and refining what is precious, so if life seems to resemble a trial-by-fire of late, remember that it’s because Allah allowed it to, and because the pain is an exchange for previous sins. And since I have rather a lot of sins, I’ll just be content to grin- to bear it- to drink more Gaviscon.
Monday, July 05, 2004
Back!Hello! Yay! Wheeeeeee!!!
The computer is finally healthy again, Alhamdulillah, real post coming soon :D
Friday, July 02, 2004