Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Leaving 2008...

The year 2008 has come with its many surprises, joys, some tears of all the ups and downs, but most importantly, blessings that have surmounted our lives with beautiful experiences and unexpected gifts God has bestowed upon us.


- My citizenship in January 2008.

- The purchase of my Honda Accord in February 2008.

- Centenary (100 year celebration) Khilafat Jalsa in Pennsylvania & meeting with Hazoor!

- Trip to Washington DC with my siblings after the Jalsa.

- Amma's (mother-in-law's) visit to our apartment for Ahmed's Engagement that took place after Jalsa.

- Madiha (my sister) and I had the opportunity to sing our Qaseedah in front of the ladies' section at the Jalsa convention. She sang in Arabic and I sang the translation in Urdu simultaneously.

- Appearing several times as a co-host on the radio show "Youth Forum" and being praised by people all the way from Dubai. An amazing experience.

- My 3rd prize winning for the essay writing competition on the topic of: "Blessings of Khilafat"

- Hurricane Ike and its aftermath. Family gathered at Nasir Mamoo's to seek shelter.

- Saying goodbye to Richmond Green Apartments.

- Purchasing our beautiful home, doing the loan on it and saving thousands of dollars.

- Moving into our beautiful home and falling in love with my kitchen and backyard.

- Brother-in-law's gland surgery and his way to recovery.

- First time voting as an American Citizen.

- Making of friends -- the precious ones, whom I can always rely on.

- Our first Halloween in our new home. It was fun to receive kids at the door wearing scary costumes. I wore a black chaadar and dracula teeth to scare them off.

- The masjid, located 10 minutes away from our house, feels like my second home. I love our Houston mosque. I seek refuge in God's residence and I find peace in my every "sajdah".

- Reading; "Islam's response to Contemporary Issues" and being awed again by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmed's penmanship and immense wisdom.
The book is inspiring and covers all real subjects we face in today's society.

- My excitement for "Little Mosque on the Prairie" season 4 -- still continues. Am a BIG fan.

- Obama's win of Presidential election against McCain! A historic moment witnessed from my living room while jumping out of joy.

- My sister Madiha's engagement in Tracy, CA : An absolute beautiful moment. Getting to know her lovely in-laws.

- Lunch with Tabassum (Tabs) in Rice Village and our ongoing conversations on various topics. Great friend.

- The discovery of great places around Houston, especially restaurants. Great people too!

- Tested of my love and questioned of my worth - a painful phase.

- New Hobby: Gardening of front and backyard.

- Our subscription to Netflix and watching Planet Earth on DVD.

- My wholehearted acceptance at Azam's Chinese Stir Fry noodles being better than mine. I let go of my culinary pride! ;)

- My participation at the Ijtema; winning 1st prize English Impromptu Speech and 2nd for Tilawat. I also managed to dominate the workshops/discussions by voicing my opinion on everything that was on my mind. Very liberating.

- Garage hunting in our neighborhood and finding great objects to (re)use.

- The purchase of our bikes and touring around our neighborhood, even when it rained!

- The movie Slumdog Millionaire -- excellent movie we saw in the theaters.

- The relief of Bush finally leaving the White House.
The 'shoe throwing' episode was an absolute highlight! Literally jootay parhe...

-
My friend Rizwana in Canada gave birth to her precious little baby girl; Ariana Mahrosh Upal.

- Nabeel's (my brother) first semester in College - he is working hard towards a bright future, Inshallah.

- The economic crisis around the country (and the world) making us weary of our future. Strengthening our strategies in all aspects.

- My Thanksgiving dinner to family and friends in our new home with the making of my experimental menu which turned out a success!

- Weekend away at Mani Khala's and getting to know her College friend, Shamuna baji.

- Our little road trip to Sonora, TX to see the Caverns of Sonora. Pretty cool.

- The conception of my new entrepreneurial project (in the works).

- Skipping on jump ropes to skip on a gym membership.

- My part-time job at Banana Republic turns out to be a ' God sent temporary distraction' for me; alas my passion for fashion. Love the employee discount!

- Very mild (wet) snowfall in Houston that lasted for half a day.

- I clearly remember the day in 2008 when my friend Fakhra took her time out during her stressful finals to spend time with me while I was visiting my family in Tracy.
Not only was she a delight to my eyes, but her personality and one on one attention, made me feel like a queen. Her book of quotes for my birthday and the ballerina card are two things I keep very close to me.

- The desire to make something out of myself -- gaining another level of confidence.

- The ugliness, The beautiful, The inevitable, The impossible & lastly...

The Incredible!!! (Alhamdulillah)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I absolutely love my home. I love every nook, every corner, every tile, every window...and every wall of my beautiful home. It's my safe and secure abode; my home is my heaven.


When looking for a property to purchase, we had seen quite a few in the past, but the moment I walked into my home -- I knew it right away. I knew it when entering the hallway and walking up to the previous owner. I knew it when looking at the spacious kitchen and the beautiful counters. I also knew that I was destined to buy it from her, the previous owner, when meeting her for the first time and instantly acknowledging her taste and efforts in making this beautiful house a livable experience. I was drawn to each and every room and the backyard...Oh my.


Have I told you how much I love my backyard? I find it to die for. I love my pond with the water running. I love the palm trees and the immaculate landscaping. I love the tiles leading towards the pond and most importantly, I love my rose bushes on the side of the house. The house, the color and the landscaping totally fits my personality and I find myself looking for flowers to seed in this season for them to blossom next year in Spring. I am excited about the prospect of giving life to earth to my backyard and I am also excited about the prospect of giving life to my next generation. I can see myself making lunch bags for the tiny ones, I can see them involved in the backyard planting vegetables with daddy dearest, I see them playing on the grass with a hose running water, splattering everywhere. Just like my childhood.
I see all of that.


I also see myself yearning for my home every time I am out and about running my chores or going to work. My work does not consist of much stress, but when I come home, I like to look forward to sitting in the backyard with a cup of tea with my feet up, soaking in the sun. My flattering whispers belong to my trees and plants whom I love and nurture. I see a long commitment with all of them and I see their worth in my eyes. Useless worries dissipate with the thought of gratitude and belonging to my beautiful abode in which I am the queen of.
The happily buzzzing queen bee.


Today was such a day. A day of extreme gratitude the moment I walked back into my home. Exhausted from work, I made myself a cup of chaii and jumped onto the comfortable (2nd hand, still the best though!) sofa. I felt so comfortable and before I could make an excuse of getting up and "not relaxing", my tiredness had taken over and the sofa warmed me, it took me into his grip of peacefulness and calming comfort. I surrendered and slept for two hours straight.
As I woke up and hubby dear had entered the house, I made my way into the kitchen, fixed a quick snack to have with our everyday ritual 'tea time'.


I love God for surrounding us with such beauty of life. He is the Greatest and the most Gracious. I feel His presence as if He listens to my every wish, even in times of disillusions -- I feel my soul to be enlightened.

Planet Earth

I am happy to inform that after a small road trip when going sightseeing this past weekend near San Antonio...well, at the Caverns of Sonora to be exact... I am doing much better now. We have rekindled all that we thought was lost in the midst of confusion and hurt. The caverns of Sonora were interesting to visit on Friday the 26th of December. There was a small group lead by the tour guide and we just made it on time to join in the fun! At first glance, you would never guess that a deserted ranch would have such an interesting discovery underneath its ground. In 1960 the owners of the ranch found a cave that was filled with crystal like formations due to the humidity of dripping water and acidity of growing milestone. The formations were incredible to see. We've made a lot of pictures, but the picture do not do justice to the real beauty of the cave -- one needs to go out there and explore by their own.

Main Website:
http://www.cavernsofsonora.com/index.php

Visiting the cave was a great experience for the both of us and it made me even more determined to see more caves in the world, to see the places that are unknown and unseen to my eyes and breathe in all the purity of something bigger than mankind; God's incredible Nature. It was quite a coincidence that we've been watching the series: Planet Earth on DVD, ordering each CD through netflix. We are immensely fascinated by this beautiful documentary and the last CD covered the caves of a faraway place in which the producers had a hard time getting permission filming for. In that cave, the same crystal like formations are shown, but the enormity of the cave is obviously much bigger and grand than the one we went to.


The excitement ran through us as we stepped through each and every cave 'room' as our tour guide explained all the different kinds of formations and their shapes similar to animal like figures. We weren't allowed to touch the formations, nor the walls, but my hand did touch the bumpy walls once or twice. I asked the tour guide about any animals in the cave and he explained the possibility of some bugs without eyes due to the extreme darkness of the cave. The tour guide would switch the lights on as we would walk onto the next slope.


The drive back home was not a pleasant one as we were misguided by our GPS. "She" took us through small cities and dangerous curvy roads with no lights. Throughout the journey I kept on praying for a safe arrival. My wish was to stop over and drive the next morning, but I guess we were eager to reach home as well. We did see a small town called Fredericksburg. When our car stopped at the light, I told Azam to park as the whole street was filled with Christmas decorations and I immediately noticed this cute little bakery, I was of course naturally drawn to. The atmosphere seemed like winter wonderland right out of a story book. The car never parked and we kept going...

I looked from my car window at this small town with much excitement and wonder like a four year old. Next year during Christmas, I have made a mental note to visit this beautiful town while staying over at his aunt's in Austin.

All in all; a good refreshing trip. Ho Ho!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Flair for Fashion

From the moment I've started working at Banana Republic, as a part time seasonal job for the time being, I feel so much connected with my inner-self. I love to dress up, go to work and talk about my days with my female collegeaus, help customers in giving fashion advice and I especially love the flexibility of the hours I work. They are quite amazing in giving days off and one can always come back after notifying them of your absence which can take even a month, with a valid reason of course. Most of the girls I work with, are either students or girls who work full time to become managers. The managers themselves are moms and fashionable ladies in their late twenties or early thirties. It's a treat for my eyes and my fashionable appetite to see 'fashion' worn the right way by ladies who are beautiful, hard working and talented.


It was interesting to discover when one girl, I believe eighteen years old, squeeled in amazement at my answer to her question at how old I was and couldn't believe I was married.
She then said she was thinking I was either 21 or 22 years old. To see her surpising response, I was suprised myself and laughed at her enthusiastic behavior.
It was flattering to know that I was considered one of the young-ins, doing a part time job, just to save some money while I was studying away at one of the universities, perhaps being the popular one with lots of friends and admirers. Ha Ha! I was truly flattered to be mistaken for a younger version of myself and realized at the same time, the advantage I have of being married and for having the physique of looking twenty one. Personality wise, I believe to be sophisticated, but also crazily blunt when my sense of humor kicks in. I never hold back on expressing my jokes or dry humor in all honesty. I just say it and have a good time with it.


The girl probably saw my bubbly-ness while my seriousness & sophistication was invisible to this lively girl who has only seen eighteen years of her carefree girlish life and could've never possible imagined me married or succesful in my real estate career in which selling houses and providing loans was as easy and natural to me like selling clothes and talking fashion sense to customers. They don't know. Neither do I know where the rest of the girls are from or what they have seen in life.


I love that Banana Republic makes us all look the same -- it makes us all become fashionable young women with the same mission on hand; folding cashmere sweaters, ringing up people at the cashier, making small talk with people who are looking for certain items and keeping an eye on those clothes that will give us an extra discount for being employees.
I love it. I love having my employee discount, but more than that, I love the feel of quality clothes and admire the mastermind of designs that goes behind the making of such beautiful merchandise. I love to see the creativity in colors, shapes, cuts, fabrics and embelishments.
I feel like a designer of my fashion line when consulting people of accentuating their waist by purchasing a wide alligator belt underneath a cardigan or a dress. I give examples of Vera Wang and her concept of 'layering' clothes to make them multi-dimensional. I make my customers feel important by disclosing fashion information of what is 'hot' on the runway in New York. I tell them what is appropriate for their age and ocassion. I give them my knowledge and service of a world I love -- the world of fashion & glamour.


I live out my New Yorker persona, my cosmopolitan city-girl dream in exchange for working at Banana Republic and escaping from a domestic self, in which I've always found joy in, but the perfect lights, the racks of clothes and display of immaculate mannequins, makes me run back to this world in which I can be a part of. I can surround myself with the quality and touch of such beautiful wear.

Life is so beautiful. I 'wear' all that is beautiful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Worth

Dear Diary,


I've had a rough time writing to you while I was gathering my own thoughts and trying to make sense. I was facing extreme selfishness by someone who'd I think would be the last person to be this inconsiderate. As it turned out, I was wrong. I've been wrong from the start. From the day I made this commitment and its just now that I've started realizing it.

I was beside myself. I felt used and my thoughts were frantically looking for some logic. Maybe all of this is not supposed to be logical, maybe this is how it is, how would I know?
I've done and I am still doing the best I can to be the very best I have to offer. Even though my love still continues to take care and be supportive, I am slowly dying. The sarcasm and the selfishness never ends. Everything's gotta be a certain way that person likes, beyond that, nothing and I say NOTHING matters. The "me me me" aspect of this relationship is killing the very core of all that is beautiful. I am patient, I am silent and I am cautious. I don't say anything anymore. I have stopped making plans for enjoyment, forcing me to focus on my accomplishments, of what I want to do. I am sick and tired of taking care of tasks that are only adventageous to the other party without acknowledging my efforts and attentive love. How stupid can that person be, to deprive me of my joy, thus of our happiness by putting importance on just oneself? Please tell me, explain it to me, since I don't understand.


How can love be so selfish? Is this love or just a compromise? Why do I feel as if my head is going to explode? Why am I not put at ease by a calming voice, saying that I am the best that has ever happened. Why is it so hard? I also wonder how the distance is bearable when two people are 'supposedly' in love? In this case, the distance is visible and growing bigger by the minute, I guess its not "love" then. I have tried to fill the gap, but who am I?

Every relationship requires 'give and take', every relationship hits a rocky moment in which you start doubting everything. However, when a relationship is continuously challenged with lack of respect and useless critique -- a neverending episode, no matter how much you'd cover it up for the time being, it will always come back and slap you in the face. In the moments of desperation and sanity for words, here's what I wrote>

VALUE


How much am I worth?
Is my worth lesser than the house I live in or the car I drive?
He said so.

My pockets are empty; I am empty within (my womb)
I feel nothing, I hear nothing. Only the sounds of my thoughts.
What have I done to earn this injustice?
What have I done to earn such insults?
What is my worth?

I cherish life; I appreciate you, my home, my everything.
I take care; I cook and clean.
Dinner on the table for you.
My entire love is granted to you.
Whom else can I turn to? Does God listen?
Does He listen through my tears?

I feel nothing. I have no one. Just my loneliness in this house.
My smile is wiped off and I am suffering. "Don't cry", I say to myself.
I am strong, I am beautiful, I am smart.
I have seen many tragedies in life.
I've lost a father, tragically, through the evil eyes of the world.
I've lost a part of me.

My mother does not see me from afar.
I know she feels my pain of belonging.
I smile and speak good.I smile and listen to people who judge and say to bear children.
O you people! Do you know what I feel?
I want to hold those tiny fingers and say their mine. Only mine.
I want to see my resemblance in an innocent face.
Faces who cling onto me and seek safety in my lap.
I am born to care.
Please fill this gap.


The house, the car is not mine.
The furniture I sit on, is not mine.
The things are superior to me.
Who am I? What am I? Am I "it" ?Am I a woman who is cherished?
Am I a woman? What is a woman?

My eyes are swollen from the tears that have flown.
I cover it with make up and appear at work.
With a smile so bright, it actually hurts.
I will work hard for a future that is just "time".
A family that I have lost in a dream so pure.
I've got nothing else, just "time" to endure.

What is my value? I ask him again.
I'm slowly fading into silence and mayhem.
My mind is my friend and God I only trust.
I am hurting for everything I do, thus, I ask:
Why am I here if you can't see & hear?
Why am I here if I am not a woman, but a man?

A man with no emotions, just price tags attached.
No life's worth, just material goals attract.
A man who is superior above his wife and claims,
A return for his investment in interest paid.
Don't put me to shame!

I wonder and ponder over the respect he demands,
When all this while my love was his command,
I wonder and ponder over the measurements of our roles,
Weren't we one soul, together, accomplishing goals?

Money is evil of all things, I agree. I offer you my life as a fee.
I will pay back in glorious amounts and then, you will be proud to be one of the men.
Who works hard to pay the bills, unaware of who he might kill.

I will love him forever, as death do us part.
Tears of yesterday and tomorrow.
Drown me in the river; am I re-born?
From the past and the future.
Where do I start?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

******Snowflakes******

Houston never really sees freezing temperature, but yesterday, Dec. 10th 2008, was surely a falling of wet snow during the day and snow was clearly visible at night when the temperature dove to teeth chattering cold. Well, at least for me it was.


My husband can't seem to believe that I was born in Holland and grew up in such a cold country, since I can't stand the cold. In Holland it snows as in REAL snow in which snowman's are made and snowballs fights are common. In which your car and your bike will experience a slippery road even though it was salted the night before. I clearly remember riding my bike to school -- bicycling is the most common transportation in Holland, all seasons included. The route would be as follows;


My friend Emmy who lived on the same block would ring my doorbell around 7:30 AM and I'd be ready to leave the house, going out from the backyard. I then would meet with her in the front yard where we'd go to Danielle's house which was approximately 1o minutes away from us. (in biking distance). We'd take the back road crossing the small bridge over the river where kids would catch frogs during summertime, but during winter you'd see the once lively river frozen to standstill. Once we'd made it to Danielle's house, we'd either ring the doorbell and she would come upfront or we'd go to her backyard, sometimes park our bikes in her backyard and just wait for her in the living room.


I loved standing there. The house was warm and her family was so welcoming; an atmosphere of warmth would exude from the every corner of the house. They'd turn on the radio in the early mornings and I would hear music when stepping in. Danielle was quite vain in her teenage years. Sometimes, she'd take a full ten minutes to blow dry her hair and her mascara would be fully coated on her blonde/brown lashes, making her eyes look "made up" and totally over the top. She'd then come out of the glass door wearing her coat, shawl and gloves -- finally ready to leave.


She was surely the leader of our group. Emmy and I would only bicycle together going to Danielle's house, but upon arrival, the decision of splitting up into 2 and 1 would lie in her hands. Sometimes I'd ride my bike behind them or Emmy would bike behind us. Danielle was never alone; a dominant personality who ruled her kingdom on us and we didn't mind.
Our friendship was genuine and we truly cared for one and other. I'd hear out all the latest 'crush' stories Danielle was eager to share. This one guy in class she desperately liked and apparently he liked her as well, I think his name was Rick, was a never ending saga of her life.


Since the three of us weren't the popular ones in class, which was fine with me, Danielle was always in constant struggle to belong to the popular ones and yet not abandon us. The 'Rick guy' whom she found cute was also liked by the most popular girl of our class; Claire. Her 'kuif' as we say it in Dutch, meaning her bangs were always neatly combed and heavily sprayed with hairspray, creating a 'wave' on her forehead that was plastered every day of her student life, making her the most vain girl in school. She was also very confident and giggled a lot. I figure talking about boys most of the time. She was an attention grabber and the kids were in awe of her. Girls wanted to be her and guys were greedy of her popularity. Her best friend, Esther Vermuilen, I still remember the name!...was always beside her, giggling and making fun of the weaker ones in class.



I was always unaffected by it, but enjoyed watching my classmates drool over her. I was considered shy and a good girl with a few friends to hang out with.
We had a weaker link in class. His name slips my mind. Wait, is it Arjan? It is pronounced; Aryan -- the j is Y in Dutch. Arjan was a full grown man shrunk into a kid's body. He always had a serious demeanor. His body weight and old looks made him insecure, especially with the constant teasing of his classmates, calling him 'fat' and 'old man'. He'd sometimes get into this rage where his cheeks would explode in redness and he'd stomp his way out of the classroom. The kids would laugh harder and make it even worse. Our teacher, we had two at the time, the principal himself, Meester Hans (meester is teacher) and a female teacher with a very traditional Dutch name. She would only look up to answer questions and her interaction with the class always remained to the point and concise. Meester Hans on the other hand, was quite the entertainer. He would read excerpt from the Bible on Mondays -- I forgot to mention it was a Catholic School, and he'd explain the stories to us using imagination and creative story telling. I still remember him till this day. He was charming, friendly and almost like a father figure to the class. He would never raise his voice but deal with problems with a teasing manner and smart sarcasm to those who deserved.


His attentiveness made the classroom alive. Even parents were under a good impression of him.
The twelfth grade musical was hard on its way to practicing. We'd gather in the big hall and practice our lines while getting into character. I loved acting; every aspect of it made me feel alive and excited. The musical allowed us to sing, dance, act and feel free of any imperfections. Every single student was working hard towards a good musical. A goodbye project this was to welcome a new grade and say goodbye to years of educational & human development in our school, De Vlieger (The Kite) . It was time to move on and let go of our kite.
During the practice of our musical, I remember Danielle declaring her 'crush' for Rick. It created a stir on set; the latest gossip talk resulted into instant popularity for Danielle. She was all smiles.
She would steer away from us and eventually we did loose her later on in life...


We kids were like little snowflakes falling onto the surface, covering life's path with our existence.
Some found theirs, I found mine in the blur of snowflakes, that is. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

budget crunching

We are witnessing the worst recession in Modern Day. Not only are we weary of our financial situation, our health and stress level are also under a lot of scrutiny especially with the cold season affecting our immune systems.


I am highly aware of the circumstances around the world. Call me a news junkie, but the urge to read or watch news, has become an every day habit now. I take interest in the reality of matters, such as the very dire situation we are facing in our economy today. The three BIG automakers are still under negotiation with Capitol Hill for getting a bailout, making a desperate appeal to save their auto industries. The question that arises here is of moral and logical basis; is the poor management to be held responsible for such failures or are we to face this dilemma together, as an economy at whole?
WILL THE MONEY BE SPENT WISELY TOWARDS THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE AUTO INDUSTRY, THEREFORE BOOSTING OUR ECONOMY? OR WILL OUR TAX PAYER'S MONEY BE SPENT ON THE LUXURIES OF THE FAILED CEO'S?


Today's crisis has crawled into our households, having us fear unemployment, sickness, financial meltdown and perhaps paranoia thinking about job security at all times. How bright is our future? How much are we to sacrifice?
It's ironic to me how "sacrifice" is emphasized especially now to save ourselves from any more financial hardships, whilst in the Islamic religion the time of Eid-ul-Adha is the epitome of sacrifice proven by Hazrat Ibrahim when putting his own son's life at risk for the sake of God's will.
A sacrifice that puts shivers to my skin. How unimaginable could that be in today's age where the common man suffers from "cutting down" and living less comfortably? How nostalgic are we to continue living like spenders when the morale of sacrifice isn't practiced to its best intentions?


My point isn't to sacrifice on life itself, but my ramblings are trying to shed a reality to what we find most important; the materialistic gains of our well being in what we perceive as highly necessary when in truth, all of it is just a mere presentation. There are desires, wishes and dreams to fulfil and I fully agree with the optimists, as I am one of them, that there is one life to live so why not live it to the fullest? The matter concerning this philosophy is not the bigger-than-life living, it is the purpose of living we so often lose in this whirlwind of keeping up.


Sure. I have ambitions. I have dreams. Heck, there is so much I want from this one life that is granted to me, but in my spectrum of living -- a balance is achieved to put my wants and needs in clear view from one another; parallel to the beauty of life VS the achievements of life. Whether I am doing full justice to myself and my ambitions? I don't know.
One thing I know; I have never doubted myself of my capabilities. If I can't have it now, I will have it later. A confidence I carry - so full of conviction and realism, it already feels as if I am living in it.


A perfect example would be of that going to NY during Christmas time. I have always wanted to see the Big Apple with all its mesmerizing Christmas decorations, people walking on 5th street carrying shopping bags, their faces lit up with the inner joy of the holiday spirit, ice skating in Central Park in front of the giant tree. Maybe its "Serendipity" or "Home Alone" that has me in awe of this incredible city or maybe its the Dutch tourist in me that is eager to explore the magnificient States of America...there surely is an imagination, a sort of childish freedom attached to my visions that I KNOW will happen. If not today, there is always tomorrow.


My budget today is sealed in an envelope waiting for its calculated deduction to be written on the envelope as every purchase is made at the groceries or drug store. My budget knows no whining, it knows no greed, but basic necessities. My budget is kind to me and my household and forces me to be creative and careful at the same time. My budget appreciates me and will reward us of our savings to later on splurge and enjoy meaningfully. My budget keeps me intact of what is today.

Today is...
A rising of unemployment rate to 6.7 % . Next year? Probably worse.

Tomorrow? God knows.
Knock on wood. We are healthy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Menu:

Appetizer: cocktail samosa with cranberry and padina (mint) chutney.


Main Course:


- Vegetable Biryani with Raita
- Tandoori Turkey http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPvCJ7uyoEQ
- Mashed patatoes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcksPYLPSY0
- Aloo Baingan with naan
- Stuffed Peppers http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/orzo-stuffed-peppers-recipe/index.html


Dessert:

- Pecan Pie (home made)
- Chocolate Mousse
- Gajar ka Halva


The end result in pictures, laughter and fun!
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=2125000&id=643867138#/album.php?aid=86222&id=643867138

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Testimony To Poetic Truth

In Lieu of Happiness


How does it feel to be on the other side of the field?
The battles within ridiculing the shield

The rules I stuck to with such arrogance
I broke them myself in such innocence

Egotistical I were, but it won’t be the same
Mocked love, in oblivion of cupid’s vindictive aim
Innovative I were, but I cannot dodge this pain
Miserable I became, when the victim reigned

“One cannot appraise a person so high
How can a life be over with an instant bye?”
Pragmatic taunts, but it was a lie
Cultivating conflict inside, as i die

I didn’t know what I had until it wasn’t mine
Excruciating void and no ownership of time

The pain I hide, my pretentiousness!
Smiles i pursued, in lieu of happiness

-Hussain

http://mousematrix.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/in-lieu-of-happiness/

Monday, November 24, 2008

Clearing Confusion

Dear Diary,


I have been a little distant from you for the past week. I was gathering my thoughts and trying to prioritize. I have been clearing my mind, my confusions in the meanwhile and staying away from communicating to anyone (except God), therefore even you. I have achieved the clarity to this confusing dilemma of balancing life in a way where I can live peacefully within my world as a wife, a daughter, sister and daughter-in-law versus my independent persona. The constant expectations of keeping up an image was becoming some sort of a drag. I was exhausted beyond my own realization and once I started becoming a bit secluded, without the act of pleasing everyone, I felt calm and more in control of myself and my life. I wouldn't call it selfishness, because that is the last thing I'll ever be. My intentions are still clear, but reality is that I am not able to fulfill every single expectation or every task that is thrown upon me. Yes, I am eager on completing it, but at times when my condition does not allow it, there is nothing I can do then to just give in. The selfless "me" was taking a toll on health, love and happiness.


I was not happy. Even though the outside world was perceiving my happiness and measuring it up by materialistic gain, my inner self was not happy with the constant depreciation I was facing. Luckily, my marital bond is strong enough to overcome these hurdles in life...but the bitterness, exhaustion and disappointment was seen in both our eyes and we felt so alone. Together, but alone. The loneliness I was experiencing was a loneliness of various layers of depth; a meaning so deep that I could only sense and experience. Everyone else, was accepting my "responsible" role whereas I as a woman, was slowly drowning into the state of depression followed by the uncertain responses of my better half, not knowing what to do or how to console me. I would only answer in tears.


The beautiful four walls of our new home was sensing a bitter-sweet moment, where we felt happy and blessed, but couldn't gather the prying eyes of those that perhaps weren't showing their happiness or understanding our achievement. It saddened us, although our sense of humor was alive and we were there for each other, there were times when we felt alone, carrying all the responsibility with all the extra added responsibility that was snatching our moment of glory away.


In those days, I was closest to God. I felt a desire to connect with Him and pour out all my feelings. This was right around the time our annual competition at the Mosque was taking place. I was in desperate need to gain back my confidence and get out of the depressing dark hole in which I'd cry my eyes out at night, so I contacted our president and requested to at least get a recital. I was given the opportunity to perform the recital of the Holy Quran in the opening session. I was thrilled and felt great in reciting the Holy word of God, not for the sake of showing off, but to connect with my spiritual self and most importantly, for God.


My confidence rose as I was looking at all the contestants participating. I hadn't had the chance to participate in the first round of competitions, the local ones, so I was not chosen to participate in the annual contest. It felt weird to me, since I participate every year, even when I was a newly wed last year...unaware of the people around me, I HAD to participate. Call it a childhood tradition or something that has become a part of my life now -- a passion I carry for these activities. Luckily, I was able to participate as they were looking for a third contestant pertaining their chapter. I stood up, made the impromptu speech on the topic of 'increasing attendance in our meetings' and walked off the stage feeling confident and happy. The joy I felt, when delivering this passionate speech, was indescribable, especially at a time when I desperately was yearning for it, in the house of God.


I also participated in the recitation of the Holy Quran in which I won the 2nd prize. For the impromptu speech, I won 1st prize. The workshops were a lot of fun in which I fully participated and made sure to voice out my opinion. I could sense the agreement in people's eyes when looking at me. I was not trying to be controversial, but just honest and genuine and it must have struck a cord with the audience when they listened to me silently and intently.


Public speaking used to be a pain for me and now I've noticed how much I am able to thrive on it. The issues that are real to me and I am trying to convey to the younger and older generation, is not something I necessarily 'thrive' on, but knowing that I can speak for others in a sensible manner, makes me want to change a mind or two. With God's help and guidance I was able to clear my confusion and believe it or not, I have laid out a plan for the future, a plan that may take a couple of years in becoming tangible, but the hard work is necessary to make this happen. Focus, hard work and a vision that I have to hold onto; a woman is stronger than she thinks she is, even though a man is always known and acknowledged for his accomplishments, we slowly fade away in the background. We, as caretakers.
In a world where a woman is constantly proving herself of being a man and a woman at the same time. A proof of intelligence & independence is parallel to the proof of domesticity and femininity. Multi-tasking our way into such dimensions with no help, but ourselves, one is bound to dwindle.
I will achieve of what is expected from myself, from my talents, my intelligence, my creativity...it will certainly NOT go to waste.


My plan? To conquer and release.
Naila's release.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A New Perspective

My last post was written this morning when I felt down about myself as all the tiredness finally bursted out into frustration that has been building up or maybe everything was just blown into proportion due to my crazy hormones. Nevertheless, I finally realized that I am doing this to myself. No one other than myself can make me feel this way, unless I am in control of my own happiness and self-confidence.


It's true that as woman I need the reassurance, the 'pat in the back' so now and then, but more than that...I know that my strength and the very positive outlook in life (that I carry everyday, I may not have shown it to you dear diary, ha ha!) is important to take me very far. To a destination I will be happy with. More so, my pain was derived from the love I have for my household and I know that my home is my destination, but lately the emotions have gotten a hold of me. The insecurities of who I am, the confusion that lies in my identity, my persona, was playing games with my mind. I am the queen of my home; my haven and my Paradise.


I am the most important ingredient to this recipe of 'Domestic Bliss' and the chef, the creator behind this incredible meal is God Himself. I have given Him my attention, I have poured out my feelings to Him and he has been so Gracious.
I look around from where I am sitting and see all the blessings. I see the blessings in the form of my loving husband, I see the blessings in the form of my beautiful house and I surely see blessings in the journey of life that I'll have to embrace WITH the ups and downs. I can not let myself become the 'doormat' by self-depreciating my intelligence and what I am capable of.


I am an artist. I play the colors out in my mind and bring them onto the canvas.

I am an actor. I take my role seriously and transfer into characters, that are, mind you, award winning! :)

I am a writer. My pen (keyboard) writes my feelings, my inner expressions. The words feed me, like prayer does and I feel relieved.

I am a lover. People, such as close family and friends who see the best in me, even when I don't, give me motivation and show their love as a reflection of mine.

I am a giver. I love to share and give. At times, I may not be rewarded for it, but I have realized the gift of 'giving', is the gift of silence and humility. Patience is truly a virtue.

I am a performer. Presenting my talents in front of the world and sharing new innovative ideas, open up exciting worlds for me. Luckily, I have people around me who understand my visions and have faith in it.


And most importantly...

I am a wife. Who loves marriage, the safety of the strong arms of a man and his practical/planned approach towards life. Knowing that we are for each other, making new memories, entering new phases and growing as a couple.
Which reminds me, speaking of growing, we should take it easy when it comes to growing in size. ;)

Awww, hubby dear just walked in with a box of chocolates for me.
Forget what I wrote.
It's all good.

Work

I have a job interview today. I am a master at them. I make the necessary eye contact, I say the right stuff , I dress well and walk out knowing that the employer is impressed with my mannerism and professionalism.


Today however, I am not in the mood. I am contemplating work. I am contemplating society and its harsh approach to women who are homemakers. What's wrong with that I ask? Do I need to produce kids in order to be worthy of being a housewife?
I think the main thing that is bugging me is not work itself. I have worked all my life, but the fact that I haven't been able to fully enjoy my new home with all the added pressure & inconsiderations that have been put on us lately. I feel as if someone has sucked my excitement away. As new homeowners, there is pressure to save as much we can and sacrifice a little, and I understand. Of course I do. I am not one of those who are unaware of the finances, heck I did do the loan myself. But whom to tell but myself. It's all done now. I will applaud for myself and stand strong as I know the every detail in the contract, the strenuous research, the negotiations and the stress along with that. "Here's a pat on your shoulder Naila -- BRAVO! "


I thought that at least now I could sit back, decorate and feel deserving of my home. I am saddened at the prospect of having a job, only because "some" think I am available and therefore seem to take advantage. Believe me, I love to work and earn money. I freakin' financed my own wedding, seriously...I worked dog hours as a loan consultant to have a small, but beautiful wedding. But again, whom to tell but myself. I was independent and still am. In fact, my responsibilities have trippled with the same added pressure of having a job. What has changed?


There is no such thing as care for a woman, but there is always care for a man. I am cynical, I am pissed and feel tired. I have been applying like crazy, sending in my resume day and night, just so I can get away from the accusing eyes, the jealous minds.
Getting a job is a piece of cake. My experience is written in stone. I only want...

Serenity.
I want my feminity back.
I want to be home.

Whom to tell? Just myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monthly Midol

When I am most irritable, tired, bloated and moody is when it's highly time to take Midol. My savior in cramps and crankiness. Tylenol does not live up to Midol as I search through my medicine cabinet and sock drawer, frantically looking for at least one tablet, like an unsettled drug addict to lessen my pain. I usually can't think clear when it hits, so I wait it out either by laying on the sofa, reading a book or keeping myself busy with something else. The last thing on my mind is to pretty up and go outside.

I become unsocial, not unfriendly.
No.
Just unsocial.
I'd rather curl up in my blanket and shy away from society.
I wonder how child birth will be?
Excruciating pain, but oh so beautiful in feeling the joy of tiny fingers and toes.
As for now, I am letting my eggs flush through my body until its time to nestle them, nurture them in fertilization.

Eggland's Best commercial comes on.
How ironic.

BLAH!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Deeds

I was pondering how our deeds affect us as a person in whole. Deeds are derived from our intentions and so, our intentions are created from the heart which signals the mind. Now, deeds are the actions we perform; they aren't the mere words playing in our minds or resting on our tongue. They are the actual performances.


The heavily emphasis on deeds is preached in every religion. The wrong you do, the less fortunate you are. The better you do, the most fortunate & harmonious your life will be. It plays like a law of attraction towards what you want and is in perfect parallel from your actions and your thoughts. If I were to make a diagram on here, it would have a straight line indicating the thoughts vs the deeds in alliance of each other, that is if you are clear of your thoughts.
In a perfect world, it would be a straight line, but the truth to the matter is that thoughts aren't always supporting one's actions or vice versa. Since deeds (actions) speak louder than words, we are always judged on what we do or have done, instead of what is in our hearts.


The woman for instance, always struggles with her thought process, trying to either mend it or compromise it into the more 'acceptable thought' of her man, where her thoughts can easily become reality. Even without a man in our lives, aren't we always compromising our thoughts when reality surfaces behind us? How many times have we desired to have something or fulfill our dreams, when suddenly reality would wake us up? I am sure everyone has.
The deeds that follow our thoughts become important to how we form our lives. I have seen the patience, the endurance in myself...when I am wanting to have something, but I hold onto my thought and convert it into good intentions, knowing that one day if I hold on to the nature of the thought, it will become reality.


The very same happened when purchasing our home. I had a beautiful house in mind, where I could see my children grow up in, where I could see myself cooking in a beautiful kitchen with spacious counters and a backyard that I could call my second home, in where I could sit back, relax and sip a cup of tea. Those thoughts, those dreams I had. Not just dreams of *POOF*, and gone is my dream, but dreams of tangible living, of knowing that some day I'll be there, living the life I am dreaming.


With God's grace, my intentions, my thoughts combined with the hard work, paid off. Now, I cook in the kitchen I had imagined, I sit back in the backyard I so often dreamt of, and I see my husband walking towards the front door when coming home from a long day of work, knowing that he is a proud man walking humbly and carefully in the journey of life. Visions that are engraved in our minds and we are determined to accomplish with the blessings of God.


The idea of deeds vs thoughts, takes me to a not-so-pleasant experience I had with someone who isn't yet so close to me, but belongs to the family. A "someone" whose entry hasn't officially been made yet, but who has had in a few encounters, made me feel very unworthy with the lack of respect this particular person has shown. Now, my thoughts are registering the deeds that person is treating me with, but my intentions are staying clear from making any hasty judgments. Why? Because I know that my thoughts can be derived from unclear emotions, such as the lack of respect I am feeling, but I am smart enough to realize how sensitive "family" is, therefore my intentions towards this person are clear and will always be.
It is very hard to stay that way; to not fall into the hole of judgments, negative remarks and "bitchiness". Even though, the unfairness exists, my deeds are accountable for what I do and have a heavy affect on my household. I know my intention is what is reflected upon me and God knows...God knows.


Do you think in today's Day and Age one really stands still to think of their actions as deeds? Or just goes by living his/her life as it is, without the concept that someone might get hurt by the actions you put out there? The lack of consideration is so obvious, but when the convenience arises, they become the sweetest, the most welcoming.
I find that very sad. In our language its called "challaaki" ( being sly). To be clever for only oneself at the time of presentation for the sake of getting 'worldly' credit, is to me total selfishness. There were times when people said to me how simple /naive I was and that it was time for me to grow up and be clever.


Many times I've heard such a thing, where I am too naive to understand the "wrong" people have intended towards me, but do you really think that my naivety is foolish? Do you really think that I am not aware of their wrongdoings or intentions? I am, but I choose to think the best, I choose to do the best. It is very easy to become a bitch, but it is really hard to maintain your sanity, believe in goodness and live your life as peacefully you can, filtering out the bad and silencing it with your heart. I know that my life is not dependent on the person's actions. Yes, I do what I think is right; I fulfill my duties and take care of my responsibilities as a wife, daughter in law and sister. Beyond that, I have no control over what happens or the injustice that is done.


So why beat oneself over deeds committed by others, whom have no remorse or don't even think twice when acting sly and degrading you? They may be clever not to show, but I am smart not to over think. Life is too short and time is of the essence for me to embrace great people and make new & fun challenges.

Our deeds, one by one, step by step are truly a reflection of what we have built...
...Our very homes. :)


*This blog post is in dedication to my cousin Amina who lives in California. She taught me a lot about patience and endurance within marriage. Even though she is far away, I know that her wisdom is greater than she acknowledges. Love you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Purpose

I am currently reading this incredible book by Mirza Tahir Ahmed;
Islam's Response To Contemporary Issues.
The book has entangled me into the depth of life's meaning and purpose. My understanding, morals and values is all what this book represents and I would recommend it to anyone; Muslim or non-Muslim. I will soon write all the highlights of the book on one page, perhaps a paragraph summed up in my own words, once I finish this amazing piece of work. A thesis of a brilliant mind who was able to detect issues beyond their existence and analyze them in a manner which is logical and rational, concerning today's problematic society.


In every religion and culture, purposefully living life is preached and taught in various forms through worship, practice of good karma and just sheer common sense of righteousness towards humanity.
Let me grab the book and share with you a couple of fragments I am so fascinated with:


"It is very difficult to conceive that members of a godless society will be truly convinced of the wrong they commit when they break a law. After all, what is the law? Is it the word of a despot or an absolute ruler, the decision of totalitarian regimes, or the dictate of a democratic majority?
To a common man, which of the above should appear to be a just legislation based on sound moral philosophy? What moral philosophy indeed?

If he does not owe his existence to any Being, or if he has no fear of being questioned regarding his conduct during his earthly life in the life to come, since, according to him, there is no life Hereafter, then the answers to the questions raised above, from his vantage point, could be very different from the requirements of a responsible society. He has only this short life to live. He needs society only for his own benefit.he submits to the superior authority of the society only out of necessity. If he can run away with some self-appropriated benefit and snatch a few moments of pleasure here and there while remaining clever enough to escape detection, why not? What so-called 'moral' inhibition could stop his hand? This psychological attitude towards crime begins to develop and become stronger with the passage of time in godless and materialistic societies. " (page 64)


The above passage brings a light to the deeds one performs without the conscious awareness of consequences that can severely damage the soul. A society where unlimited pleasure and 'having fun' is paid at a very high price, resulting into confused youngsters and immoral minds.
Here's what I find very interesting:


"When societies begin to degenerate or become top-heavy and lopsided with over-sophistication, they begin to topple down and return to the same crude animal answer to their urges.This may not be visible in every social and cultural activity, but it is almost always pronounced in human relations and style in the pursuit of pleasure. A brief study of man in his responses to sex will demonstrate the case in point."( page 69)


I believe that the above stated paragraph is a harsh reality of what we are seeing today. Teenagers are shamefully forming their identities by victoriously losing virginity, uncontrollably giving in to pleasure and excitement to explore "their bodies" with the encouragement of fashionable magazines and explicit TV series. Why would a young mind be deteriorated by such selfish pursuit and deprive oneself of purity, rather than focus on more meaningful goals to increase intellect and intelligence? Isn't there a time for everything? Am I wrong, or has innocence only a place in fairy tales now?


"Where are those taboos in society-the codes of civil behavior, the concept of decency, etc which keep interfering with the free expression of natural urges? Why must sex be the only motive force which should be given a free license to express itself without regard to tradition, norms, decency, appropriateness, and the question of belonging or otherwise?" (page 71)


What really baffles me is today's news making.
Recently on the news, a research was shown that teenagers are influenced by explicit tv series such as 'Friends' and 'Sex and the City' (hmm, I wonder why!). What surprises me is that a research by professionals was needed to come to such an obvious conclusion! Promiscuous activities are shown as entertaining to an age group that heavily relies on worshipping unrealistic role models, making their every step look glamourous on screen, even if they'd taken the wrong path.


The concept of saving yourself for marriage may seem very old-fashioned or backwards nowadays, when there are so many resources available to entertain oneself and perceive it as "normal" as society has easily accepted to be free and wild -- My pondering question however, where is the self-respect??? The dignity of women and their daughters is lost in "lipstick jungle" and "gossip girl"...
The days of a man being a gentleman and a woman being coy and pious is sadly diminishing, unless we save the last bit of morality that is left in our childish persona.

Innocently speaking of course! :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Change, finally!

I have been speechless yesterday, unable to write my emotions on here or even verbalize how I was feeling. It still felt surreal.
As I woke up early in the morning yesterday, I was hooked on the news, watching Barack Obama's acceptance speech over and over again. I needed reassurance, a double check to see whether he was truly our next President.
I must tell you, dear diary, the joy I felt when he was nonchalantly announced President by Charles Gibson during the counting of the polls, was beyond any other victorious feeling I have ever felt in my life. Politics are very tricky in that matter; they absorb you with their facts and happenings, but when it actually takes place in reality, the mind needs a minute to register of what is really happening and oh yes, it did!


These elections have not only be very entertaining, but they have unified our country in the most miraculous ways. Our youth has stepped up and people from all backgrounds and colors have seen a purpose to get up and vote, a direction that has finally come to us in the form of Barack Obama, who was eager to follow his will power and restore our vision for the country. The 'superpower' in us had died a long time ago and he came to revive us from the dark days, reaching out to young and old, to the wealthy and the poor. Connecting with us in a humane manner; a manner and approach we weren't familiar with and soon began to believe that Politics was such a tough and corrupt game that couldn't possibly be in our control. How wrong we were! The determination of one person lead to hopes and dreams of one entire nation and now the whole world is celebrating with us!


What really fascinates me about Barack Obama is not only his background, but his tenure and depth of intelligence. This incredible man has followed the right path, by accomplishing the best he could and as a man of color he never looked back or doubted his capabilities, instead he moved forwards with his strong work of ethics and ideology for our nation. A man like him who has proven himself of our freedom rights and free speech, our right to work hard and dream big and our right to rise above ourselves even when the tide of waves is against us. Oh what a victory!!!


This almost seems like a dream or a script out of a movie. When a party wins an election, it is known that defeat or victory will take place, but a 'win' of such a caliber, where not only a colorful nation supports and prays for a potential President, but also sees something special stir up within everyone; a sense of unity, a desire for change and a passion for real issues that are affecting us. Elections aren't about the politicians themselves, they are about us, the regular people who live life at work, in front of the tv, in the kitchen cooking dinner, at schools dropping our children -- we are the people.


You must have noticed the right wing Republican conservatives at McCain's concession speech. They were upper class white people dressed in formal suits and dresses alongside their perfectly groomed kids, almost 'gossip girl like society', who have probably never entered a public school or seen a normal kid dealing with financial struggles trying to support his single mom while taking responsibility as the only man in the house. These kids however, seemed well off and engaged in their 'handed down self created wealthy worlds', where basic necessities are luxuries for the ordinary man.


The crowd at Grant Park was the total opposite; they were people whom we deal with in real life, people of all colors, wearing just regular clothes, waiting with anticipation to welcome their new President. They were excited, over joyed and much more affected by the economy as the working class has immensely struggled and still is, for almost a decade. President-Elect Obama's speech was moving and must have touched everyone's heart. His seriousness showed in the words of his speech and his love for his wife and daughters was humbly mentioned in the speech and then beautifully shown on stage, without any hesitations and fakenes to it, was in itself a beautiful summary of his life, of how he is and what he stands for. Not only do we find a good President in him, but also a great dad and husband.



His powerful voice makes you aware that there is a leading male voice in the room. A voice that formulates sentences not only for their saying, but also for their purpose.
His schedule of yesterday consisted of waking up at 6 AM, having breakfast with his ladies and dropping of his daughters to school. Soon after that, he was scheduled to hit the gym and then take care of all business. He is on the job and I am happy that he is showing dedication from the very first day. (ha ha I almost sound like a mother!)


Let's pray for prosperity, actual change and good foreign relations. May the mess of the past 8 years be thoroughly cleaned and may all the nasty stains go away. It is time for a fresh new laundry!!! With a touch of lavender and lemon zest, washing away all the bad particles.


;)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote!

As everyone knows, today is a historical day for us to witness! I have been waiting for this day to come as everyone else who consider themselves political enthusiasts and even regular people who are enticed by the new move of politics as we are seeing history being made! I have been disconnected in the past when it came to politics, mainly because of the Bush administration and its poor managing in resolving foreign conflicts and the consequences of spending billions of dollars on a useless war at the expense of innocent people and our economy.


I have voted for the very first time as this year I pledged my oath in becoming a United States Citizen. I felt joy and pride overwhelming me while it was still bittersweet for me to give up on my Dutch passport I so dearly have hold onto since birth.


I would've been sad if this year I wasn't able to vote to be a part of this enormous event, which will be engraved in everyone's memories and forever stated in history books. The experience itself is far beyond any words. A black man becoming the president of the United States, a man so sincere who had no political connections but strong will and determination. I admire this man.
It feels almost unreal and unbelievable. The land of opportunities has shown an extraordinary turn of fate that is controlled by the people we live with. Barack is able to reach us from within our heart and souls as well as outside the emotional aspects. Not only is he sensible and a fresh breathe of air, he has strong ideals and will fight with sincerity knowing that the common man has a lot to struggle in order to accomplish something so extraordinary.


I have full faith in today's elections. More so, I know that he will be a great President. I would switch the channels or tune into a different radio station, every time Bush would say something or appear on TV; I could not bring myself to accept him as a respectable president, but now...finally times have changed! And 'change' will occur for the better...


It's certainly a joyous occassion!!! OBAMA '08 !!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Invisible Lines

Yesterday I was talking to an elderly lady in the mosque during our meeting. She is one of our African American sisters who sits quietly in the front row and pays attention to what is said and announced during the meeting. I have noticed how much of a joy it is to me to sit next to our non-Pakistani sisters whom have something else to bring to the table. This sister in particular was an elderly and when getting acquainted with her, I noticed the softness in her eyes and the many years she has lived being a strong, resilient woman.


Her husband passed away when she was at the age of 43. How young she was to lose a husband in the prime time of her life! I was listening intently to what she was saying and at the same time explaining of what was going on in the meeting. I felt valuable just sitting next to her. There is a certain wisdom and a vast depth of knowledge in elderly people and it always fascinates me when listening to their stories or the reminiscence of their precious memories. It is quite unique for me to have a conversation with someone who is out of my "league" or age group, but is there really a league in life? Can't we all just rotate age groups so now and then and learn from each other? I think the one thing, among others of course, I really value and am thankful for is the fact that my parents taught us Urdu. We were raised in a Pakistani household where 'Urdu' was the common language to speak. Not only have we mastered different languages, but the knowledge and experience of speaking these languages; whether Urdu, English, Punjabi or Dutch, makes us relate to people who are much elderly and find their native language the best and only way of communication.



Now of course, different factors such as personality traits, social skills and sincere interest are keys to open doors to people whom you may not find interesting at first. The humility, the keen eye for life and its experiences, is something you will find with elderly. They have a lot to contribute, we may underestimate them...but it is the 'gold' in them that can really value the worth of life.


I decided to sit next to her, as I am most of the time socializing with my Pakistani friends at the mosque. I always make it a point to get to know everyone, even the non-Pakistani sisters, but yesterday I felt at total ease talking to the sister about faith, the strength in women and our never ending journey. We are always present to take care of things and people and therefore our placement on earth is undeniably and extremely important. It can never be underestimated, no matter how old we get. Your wisdom is often measured by the lines on your forehead, but the lines that are engraved in the heart and the soul, the very invisible lines, aren't there to be seen...

but to endure.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Babies "R" Ours?

All this time while I was being absent from you, dear diary, there have been some major changes in my life. Azam and I have purchased a beautiful home and we are very happy as homeowners. The house is marvelous and we are trying to fully enjoy our home. Its been quite crazy while I've been absent from you, but nevertheless, I always feel the need to turn to you in times of happiness and all the other ups and downs of life.


Many a times have people asked me now about babies. The question that has been haunting me since the day I made the one year mark in our marriage. At first, I was happy to answer and I'd confidently say; "Oh,we'll see" but now it has come to a point where the questions are beginning to become a bit annoying. Now, I know the people who ask out of curiosity or out of love, but when I go to the mosque for instance and a total stranger 'aunty' walks up to me and says;"Why should I say anything to you, when I don't say anything to my own daughter about having babies"...I often get startled and am left literally speechless at times, not comprehending why someone who barely knows me would impose such a private question on me. Yes, I said it people...I think it's a private issue between a husband and a wife. I am not being ungrateful. I love kids, in fact I was the eldest daughter of my parents and I literally took care of my siblings like a motherhen. Marriage for me is a growing process; not only am I satisfied living with my husband, but I am also enjoying him and our marriage thoroughly. Of course, with enjoyment there are disagreements and the usual bickering so now and then, but all in all, we are doing great.


We are planning ahead for the future. Then why is is that I feel so unqualified or sometimes I feel as if I am sinning by not having babies right away? The observing eyes of people and their lingering thoughts is something I really dont mind, but to degrade a person by asking her all the time becomes very uncomfortable...it's only been one and a half year!
Is it so important to prove yourself of fertility right after marriage? Can't one just wait and plan financially and emotionally? Luckily, Azam and I are on the same page and we are smart enough to understand and cherish the moments we have now. You see, everything is divided in phases or chapters. To me, this chapter in my life is beautiful and exciting and I am more than sure that motherhood will be precious and mind blowing. I seriously drool over babies. I love them; their tiny hands, tiny feet, the smell of baby powder and then the small joyous moments of laughter that is free entertainment when having this little bundle in your life. I know it and I surely look forward to it.


I have seen moms losing themselves over kids. Not building their identities over time, can cause damage to their confidence and makes them feel insecure in front of their husbands. Its reality and everyone knows it; a woman can't be used as a trophy wife or else she'll suffer, unless ofcourse you've set your mind to living like your husband's shadow. Now, this isnt said as disrespect to husbands, it's only said as motivation to women who think the only thing they can offer is being a wife and mother and unfortunately lose themselves over this process. I admire those who are strong, confident and secure with being a mom and wife...I greatly admire them and one day hope to offer my kids the life I've dreamt of. :)


As of right now, my husband and I are acting like kids ourselves. We bought bikes and since we can park the bikes in our garage, we feel like two excited kids who get playtime to enjoy a ride outside! :)...


Life is sweet and it will be sweeter. I am just saving honey for the bees.
BZZZzzzzzZZZZZ

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Confidence - The mastery of life.

I have come across people in my life whom have no problem in looking you straight into the eye and tell you exactly whats on their mind. Their body language, way of speech and view on life seems to differ enormously from the people who live life on eggshells, or perhaps think they do.


Confidence is a matter of mastering your very own manifestations in which you are truly your own boss of. Once you understand, that no one other than you yourself is responsible for trusting his/her worth --that is when you can fully master your life and be satisfied with the way you are. As babies, we are confident enough (or total oblivious of course!) not to have a grasp of life around us, which enables us to scream, cry, demand attention, be taken care of, and cry again. Its the growth hormones that basically mess up the game and leave us in wonder; leading to question our looks in front of the mirror, such as the added zit on the forehead or the never ending length of our nose. Puberty is a killer. It steals you away from the normalcy around you and takes you to a very private place in the room where you start criticizing and over dramatizing the every little detail God has designed on your body, starting from the face.



As a growing teenager in Holland, you'd never believe the look I carried or my 'aloofness' in every day life, especially once you see me now! I was the eldest daughter of immigrated Pakistani parents which made me the 2nd generation of Pakistani kids residing in Europe. I was brought up in a very loving household and with my dad's expenditure on having the absolute best, I was always surrounded by beautiful things. Our culture itself, comes with beautiful and colorful clothing/lifestyle and by the way, have I ever mentioned that my mom (still is of course) was a beauty?! My point is that there wasn't a lack of beauty from where I came, but there certainly was a 'simplicity' and 'naivety' for having a careless outlook on being a child growing into a young adult, where the emphasis was on instilling moral values into your kids rather than presenting them as brainless fashion models.



At the time puberty reached, I had braces, pimples, glasses and tied my hair in a pony tail. Oh yes, I did. I was content in how I was, at least I thought I did, until High School made its brutal way into my peaceful life and showed me the cruelty of 'being different', which wasn't quite an acceptable experiment. However, back then... and now I frown upon it when I think back, I was confident to carry myself with dignity and poise and never let my culture, my look and identity down. I didn't care about negative comments some of my class mates would throw at me and I especially didn't care if the bully in the class was on a mission to hunt me down and make my life miserable. I kept on sitting in the front row seat in classes and always scored better grades than any of them. My oh so nerdy years, ha ha! Not to say that my self-confidence was pretty much shattered, but I managed to show the opposite.



As I recall, there was one scenario in where I was cycling back to school with two of my girlfriends on a narrow path which was the only path there to ride a bike on, in that particular area. As we were cycling and chit chatting about our day, my dutch friends spotted a group of popular students from afar and instantly slowed down their speed on the bike. I asked them why they were so afraid in passing them by in a normal speed and they said they didn't want to. Normally when people walk on the bike lanes, one has to ring his/her bell to warn the pedestrians of coming through. As a fierce and loyal traffic rules follower, I wasn't a bit afraid of the kids that blocked my way into riding my bike on the speed I was on. I then passed my girlfriends, rang my bell and made my way through the crowd. The kids were nasty and must have said a million bad things about me, but I clearly remember sitting on my bike, paddling away while passing through, knowing that I had the full right to do so and no one could bring me down. Oh yeah! My confidence in what was right, brought me into a lot of distress at school, to a point where my parents had to talk to the principal and warn him to keep an eye on the bad kids. This of course stirred more annoyance in the bullies and their attacks became quite severe.



Here's a scenario I will never forget; We were sitting in Art class when the master bully stomped into the class (she was a very problematic girl by the way who stayed at foster parents) looking for me as a target. I remember this as of yesterday. I was drawing something on paper when I was faced by this girl who started yelling at me in the middle of class. Our teacher was gone for the moment and she took her full opportunity in ridiculing me in front of class. She then made racist remarks about my parents, saying that they should fully learn the dutch language before even coming to school and defending their kid. As her remarks kept on growing stronger, my anger rose to a point where I couldn't stand hearing anything against my parents. I then stood up, yelled back at her and before I knew, we were facing each other, fighting and pulling each other's hair. I remember kicking her and how she sprung as a total surprise. My rage was instigated by all the hoped up frustration inside me, but really bursted out when she had the nerves to ridicule my parents. I warned her to stop, but she continued on making a scene.


That experience must have been the highlight of my teenage years. I wouldn't like to base the development of my confidence on that experience alone, but it had surely made me from being sensitive to a much stronger person. However, my self-confidence wasn't fully restored until I came to America at the age of 19. I felt more at home here than I ever had in Holland and people seemed to respect each other's differences. Life was much easier. I saw elderly sikhs riding their bike in their traditional clothing and often wondered how wonderful that was. My confidence rose as California opened its arms to us with its sunny outlook on life. I was happy.

And till this day...still am. Very confidently so. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are you prepared for the worst?


The dire state of the economy has all of us desperately asking questions about our future; the financial situation of America and our very own pockets. Are we financially safe and sound to retire peacefully? Will our savings nest, the one 'fall back' we have, disappear before our eyes? Where will this leave our future generations? Can this disastrous mess be resolved?



As the stock market has plummeted to shockingly low prices and much higher stakes, the housing markets; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are on the verge of being taken over by the Government as well as the money market that is currently under extreme scrutiny being the number one talk at Capitol Hill. The Congress will decide, either today or tomorrow to pass the bill for the 700 billion dollar bailout the Bush administration has set forth. Wow.



This long and painful recession is an obvious high price that we as
ordinary people (taxpayers) will have to pay. The bailout money of 700 billion dollars,
may seem like a humongous amount to make things right, but in reality, little fractions of this deal-- say, 40 million dollar each, and I am being modest!-- will end up in the hands of failed CEO's who in the first place were selfish enough to make decisions, wrongly executed by putting the wrong people in charge. This very notion of corporate America has shackled itself to utter desperation and is surprisingly still clinging onto the self given title of SUPERPOWER. Keep dreaming guys.



If the American dream of becoming a homeowner, buying a car and having a stable job means to foreclose on a loan that was never meant to be affordable, or rely on a job that is on any given day "laid off" by unstable economic means, then no...the American dream is a far cry from fulfilling the real wishes of the common man. It's a facade of keeping up with the Jones'. America is built on credit, but the banks aren't crediting their customers in full as they have nothing to credit for, therefore the conversion to a cash economy will take its place in households -- making us brutally aware of what money in actuality is.



If you are prepared for the
worst, you would have a minimum "affordable" amount of debt on your credit card that YOU know is doable of paying off overtime and not, lets say, in a century with skyrocketing interest rates. You would also be aware of your financial future, meaning that solid investments, here and there...such as mutual funds or 401K may hold your back in times of need. And most importantly, the preparation of your very own expertise. What I mean by this is the "side project" you may be working on accomplishing apart from working for Corporate America or would you rather rely on a boss who might fire you on a sunny day?

Expertise people. Hone it. Perfect it. Market it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1 year of Blogging


Today is the exact day last year when I started blogging and posted my very first post; "The Awakening" @ http://nailasdiary.blogspot.com/2007/09/awakening.html


Since then, it's been a roller coaster ride of emotions; a saga of my life in which I had embarked upon a new phase; marriage. As a newly wed, I was constantly dealing with rushing emotions, compromises, trying to understand one and other and more importantly, giving each other the space and respect to love and progress. It's been fun times ever since I have learned to rely on you, my diary. You have been a reflection of my soul -- a very cathartic experience indeed in which I look back at with pride and utmost affection.


With my written words on virtual paper, I feel like I can always come back to you and connect. My words will never run away, but remind me of what I was in a certain place and time of life. When I feel the need to pour out my feelings to you, you do a great job in sharing it with the world. Some of them leave us by writing a few praiseworthy words of their own and some, not revealing their identities, give us the impression that behind their anonymous existence, there is a certain truth and familiarity in acknowledging us when relating to si
milar humane experiences. I am proud to announce you to the world my diary, the 'No Fuss Persona' in me will never die -- my persona which carries its complicated theories about life, covered in all its simplicity and beauty, will continue to evolve in becoming a full grown woman, who is confident and happily blessed with the loving words and appreciation of the world around her.


Thank you...:)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Invisible Lines

Yesterday I was talking to an elderly lady in the mosque during our meeting. She is one of our African American sisters who sits quietly in the front row and pays attention to what is said and announced during the meeting. I have noticed how much of a joy it is to me to sit next to our non-Pakistani sisters whom have something else to bring to the table. This sister in particular was an elderly and when getting acquainted with her, I noticed the softness in her eyes and the many years she has lived being a strong, resilient woman.


Her husband passed away when she was at the age of 43. How young she was to lose a husband in the prime time of her life! I was listening intently to what she was saying and at the same time explaining of what was going on in the meeting. I felt valuable just sitting next to her. There is a certain wisdom and a vast depth of knowledge in elderly people and it always fascinates me when listening to their stories or the reminiscence of their precious memories. It is quite unique for me to have a conversation with someone who is out of my "league" or age group, but is there really a league in life? Can't we all just rotate age groups so now and then and learn from each other? I think the one thing, among others of course, I really value and am thankful for is the fact that my parents taught us Urdu. We were raised in a Pakistani household where 'Urdu' was the common language to speak. Not only have we mastered different languages, but the knowledge and experience of speaking these languages; whether Urdu, English, Punjabi or Dutch, makes us relate to people who are much elderly and find their native language the best and only way of communication.



Now of course, different factors such as personality traits, social skills and sincere interest are keys to open doors to people whom you may not find interesting at first. The humility, the keen eye for life and its experiences, is something you will find with elderly. They have a lot to contribute, we may underestimate them...but it is the 'gold' in them that can really value the worth of life.


I decided to sit next to her, as I am most of the time socializing with my Pakistani friends at the mosque. I always make it a point to get to know everyone, even the non-Pakistani sisters, but yesterday I felt at total ease talking to the sister about faith, the strength in women and our never ending journey. We are always present to take care of things and people and therefore our placement on earth is undeniably and extremely important. It can never be underestimated, no matter how old we get. Your wisdom is often measured by the lines on your forehead, but the lines that are engraved in the heart and the soul, the very invisible lines, aren't there to be seen...

but to endure.

Drama O Rama


The drama in theatrical acts or movies is often displayed as an intermission part of the story where either the villain makes an appearance, tears the family apart, forces the lovers to separate ways or simply creates a climax by showing up at a very inconvenient time. The reactions of the main characters that follows, decides the ending of the story; when anger is instigated by 'evil' and violence comes to play, showing an over exaggeration of emotions on screen/curtain, or is it? An over exaggeration derived from real life scenarios, which in many ways portrays a crude reality of how drama can become a harsh and stressful factor of our lives...IF dealt wrongly.


Wrongdoings either by humans we know or don't know is a part of life and the world we reside in. It is a harsh understanding of life as we grow and face challenges amongst our very own people or the people that entered our dome of living, making us helpless and giving us no option, but to deal with whomever or whatever comes in our way. Such scenarios may happen in households, businesses, politics -- just everywhere around the world and where there are people, there is talk and with talk there is always a front row seat 'drama episode'. Oh yes, I assure you...life isn't that boring after all. ;)


After experiences and observing different incidents of life, I have come to the conclusion that drama is inevitable such as the people we meet are. Drama is as tangible as picking up a piece of fruit and eating it with the very taste of deliciousness and satisfaction. Although, on the contrary; 'Drama' gives us an opposite taste, a bad taste of disappointment, resentment, sadness. It kills the willingness to bond or create unique relationships and it also kills progress. Progress of the heart that is capable of so much love and feels such anguished void when drama hits the hammer on the core of our feelings, our precious emotions and hopes.


It either becomes a long series of sob operas or it fades away overtime or God forbid, takes the form of a tragedy in which case a lot of people suffer. Such severity is caused by inconsiderate behavior on behalf of full grown adults who are selfishly and spittingly in love with themselves at the expense of losing loved ones. The waste of energy, adrenaline, mental well being and just plain sanity is quickly gone into the evil mouth of the monster, dissolving the every sense of our being as fatal rapid fire. This fire can only be contained by taking wise decisions and preparing oneself for the worst in life. Even the worst in people.


When coming across such incident, the most important thing that I have found (whether the issue is big or not) is to be patient at first and take calm before any reaction. I have learned this through some very hard lessons in life as we all do when growing into mindful individuals. The reaction that occurs right after 'drama' happens, is the most important factor that eventually decides the outcome of your very own story. Within the four walls of your home, one can easily get angry, be furious at what is happening and even ask God for what He is trying to get at ya. But once the door closes on your home and you are outside, dealing with that incident such as the way you act, has a lot to do with living a peaceful life in spite of what goes on in the world or personally to ourselves.


The question that arises in my mind even in times of unthinkable moments, is to whether or not waste my energy on such nonsense and foolishness. If the attack is doing harm on my personal well being, then the action is taken with approaching the matter very diligently and sometimes very clearly to the instigating party. However, if the issue is useless and beyond any of my common sense, I'd rather just ignore it... as long as I know where I stand and what is expected of me. Ignoring or not giving it any attention might be hard at first, but in the long run I will know that I am destined to do greater things in life and the boat will sail smoothly.


You see, spreading a good vibe amongst each other by killing evil right when it starts, is undeniably & extremely important to me. My emphasis on surroundings; people whom you know will always spread good thoughts, whom I can learn from in striving for goodness, are the ones that create my dome of pleasurable and peaceful living.
The other ones, I do care for and am always willing to embrace differences...as long as it diminishes jealousies, greed and unnecessary drama.

O My, O Rama!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fobs vs ABCD's


We've heard it many times, the term "FOBS", especially thrown at our desi (Indian, Pakistani) community, meaning; Fresh Off the Boat. This term is not necessarily meant to be spoken in a derogatory way, but it is a means of lifestyle or certain look that is defined by "fobs".
What is a fob actually and who are fobs? Are they easy to detect?
Will their appearance stop us in the middle of our work and make us give them an extra glance, thinking that herbal hair oil might be dripping off of their neatly combed hair or that the heavy accent will easily give it away? Vaaatttt izzz your praablem ?!?! ;)


I am not judging or poking any fun to fobs and please keep in mind that I am not attacking any particular people, but just trying to understand the underlying concept of this very term which is often used in a jokingly manner or even in serious cases, resulting into insulting many a people that are plain immigrants trying to integrate into a society which is mainly built on their expertise. Heck, I may be a fob, you decide! :) Coming fresh off the boat, whether from India, Pakistan (Asia, Europe)..the challenges one faces are harder beyond the meaning of "fob". The traditions, culture and lifestyle that one leaves behind in motherland, may not be easily accepted by civilians of the newer countries. The United States however, with its melting pot of all different races and backgrounds, has over the years seen much diversity and I have found this country quite welcoming, not only to fobs but also to their very own different kinda people who happen to stand out of societal normalcy. Call it the Great America or the era of globalization where technology has made the world smaller by connecting our planet through the nanosecond channels of fast speed internet and the more intelligent working brains of the human.



Integration, globalization, outsourcing and international approach has become somewhat a household convenience whereas before for instance, calling AT & T for basic technical support would've never been a call answered by 'Peter' aka Prakash, sitting at a desk in a full buzz call center in Delhi, India. The very same people whom we call 'fobs' are taking care of a work load that is given upon them to strengthen not only the businesses based here, but also provide us with good consumer care. Whether the person is brown or purple does not really matter as long as the services are delivered professionally and efficiently don't u think? The fobs that are given opportunities to come and work for a country that thrives on intelligence, hard work and talent, may deprive them from the fresh naans of the bazaar or the colorful celebrations of their close-knit neighborhood, but it certainly gives them a sense of security; a future to rely on and make a good living -- achieving the American Dream that is a possible success for the ones who focus and make it happen.



Azam, an international student back in the years, says it clearly and very understandably; "Earn it". You can only earn it and not just have it. If you have it, then the lesson of earning should apply to your upbringing and if that fails, appreciation for such blessings are dawned to be taken for granted... which is why I would like to talk about the "American Born Confused Desis" = ABCD's. Again, without any judgments of any sort, this term will be taken into further study and analyses by me. I may not be the best candidate for this, since I consider myself to be in the middle of a Fob and ABCD. At times, I find myself extremely connected with my roots and heritage and then there are times when all of it seems to fall apart due to the unfairness and harshness that I see in my parents' homeland. It is the love and sympathy for the people that I find my own, but their dealings in either daily life or political matters, makes the love slowly chip away, taking place for skepticism and a cold distance that I haven't grown up with, yet this feeling is strong and irkes me of wanting to see improvement and development in a country that I so dearly hold to my heart. An identity of which I am very proud of, but pride isn't enough to sustain the deep connection I once felt in the past when stepping out of the plane and breathing in the air of sweet surrender in a rich culture full of similar faces, similar language.



Maybe the HBCD in me (Holland Born Confused Desi) is aware of the convenience of staying far away, but yearns for the familiarity of taste, culture & common understanding. However, the same HBCD persona in me collides with my fobbish background of wanting to have it all on the grounds of America...as long as I am conscious of the decision making of my elders in moving into a place they thought would do good to future generations. Are the future generations doing any good? The ABCD term is usually applied to those who are perhaps dealing with an identity crisis and can't seem to figure out whether to be desi or american. Simply speaking, they maintain either a two face personality by portraying two distinguished lives , keeping it separate from the parents and their conservative desi traditional lifestyles -- making it harder upon themselves to decide who they are and what they want, therefore the confused and lost minds.



And then there are those who happen to live in two worlds, but have mastered to take out the best from each culture, making it a powerful combination-- where east and west can easily shake hands and proudly show off all the best attributes to the world by developing a trusting relationship with parents. This can only be achieved when parents themselves are willing to look into the complexities of living between two totally different societies and understand the needs and wants of a healthy balance. Parents' trust factor and sincerest involvement can make the ABCD kid, loose the C in Confused and establish a C for Confidence. :)


As for Fobs, they are cute. Just convert them into geeks or (imported) replicas of Bill Gates. There is always demand for more.