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:

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


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>


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


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?

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 Menu:

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

Main Course:

- Vegetable Biryani with Raita
- Tandoori Turkey
- Mashed patatoes
- Aloo Baingan with naan
- Stuffed Peppers


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

The end result in pictures, laughter and fun!