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" @

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 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 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 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.