Archive for the ‘community’ Category

Another post about Ramadan — from a Christian in an interfaith family

August 13, 2012

I wrote a lengthy Post about ramadan, but I think DH accidentally deleted it. So now I have to do it all again. That’s frustrating. But, here we go and know that it will probably be twice as long as the original post.
Honestly, my thoughts and plans, rather fantasy, about celebrating Ramadan was very different than reality. I imagined that my husband and I would listen to Quranic messages together. He would get more generous and more understanding and closer to God as Ramadan progressed And I would take the messages that were most like the Biblical messages and remember to apply them. After all, we could all use some reminding of our fundamentals…. and I must admit, my prayer life could be better. Muslims pray five times a day and I probably could increase my prayer life which is always a good idea. There’s nothing saying a Christian can’t pray five times a day. I would pray my prayers when my husband prayed his prayers. At the end of Ramadan I would cook something special. We would have a meaningful holiday and pass this tradition down to our LO(Smile). We would Celebrate Ramadan in our own special way. We would have wonderful Eid traditions that we handed down to our little baby. Everything would be full of meaning and reflection and family connections. That however is not how it is happening.
I seem to be on the peripheral of Ramadan. We don’t share messages together we rarely talk about any message that is given. And I admit that I am readily willing to listen to any scholarly message in English about the Quran or Ramadan. But I want to do it together. I want to listen and discuss. My husband does not like discussing. I suppose my approach might be a bit American in nature it’s kind of like the Bible study approach. But I thought it would have some value.
There’re many reasons I am on the fringes of Ramadan but I’m going to name one here right now. I don’t go to the mosque much. So, I take my responsibility for that one. I should insist on going to the Mosque with DH, if I want a full meaningful experience. This Ramadan my husband has gone to two specific mosques. one mosque is very diverse. This is the mosque that has the aggressive headscarf policewomen. yes I felt as if they were policing my headscarf which by the way never wanted to obey my commands. However we have went one other time to this mosque and I didn’t find the women nearly as aggressive. The only time my headscarf was pulled into submission by some African women who were sitting next to me, was when a man came into the women’s quarters. — twice… but I am ok with that because I saw it as a way to protect my respectability — or something similar. . the other mosque that my husband goes to periodically especially when I don’t go, is an exclusive Desi mosque, AKA “the men’s Mosque.” Of course, women are not exactly forbidden to come but they are certainly not welcomed and there is no place for them to pray. “After all,” DH reminds me, ” it is not mandatory for women to come at all.” What disturbs me most is that my wonderful husband is okay with this logic. he does not see a problem if women want to go to the mosque, He says, ” they can go to at least seven other ones around the city…” … I think there’s more mosques springing up all of the time, now … the Exclusive Desi one was not even listed on the Google Search. . In any case, DH has no problem with the fact that it is all men. And, they have (according to DH) some awesome food. Which probably means that, women are at home, cooking for the men to go to a mosque that they are not even welcome to attend. And… … DH has no problem with this. He won’t even offer an objection, and this is America(the land of opposition and objections), not Pakistan.
obviously and unfortunately, he doesn’t see us celebrating Ramadan together. My participation is not mandatory. and it seems to make no difference to him whether I go to the Mosque or not. now of course it will make a difference with the baby so for that reason he might want me to go but not for my specific support.
So, I ask him to put the question to his mother: Would she attend “Mosque,” if one gave her a space to pray? his mother and father live in Pindi. This is not a village, but mosques still don’t openly welcome women. His mother said that she would certainly go, if there was a place for her to pray. Her daughter, R, (DH’s youngest sister) goes to the mosque in Lahore with her new husband. His mother asked if I would go with her and I gave her a definite “yes.” I understand that attending a mosque is manditory and this is seen as a gift to the women since they have household duties and/or children to care for. But, there are many women who have neither of these responsibilities. Besides, by “not” giving women a space to pray at a mosque (we haven’t even gotten to the equal space argument) aren’t we saying that women’s spirituality is less important than men’s? furthermore, I wonder if this “men’s mosque,” is so conservative about women’s participation, what else are they conservative on? and: why was it even built? Apparently, it was only built two years ago, yet there were many other mosques quite close in proximity already in full swing.
It strikes me that one of the reasons my husband says it’s not a big deal for women to attend the mosque, is because he says women tend to socialize more than they should. He says they are loud and they tend to want to socialize instead of listening to the message. But I have to point out, it wasn’t two days ago that he was saying to me how wonderful it was that he was making some contacts at the mosque. Hello, socialization. It’s just done in a different way. I also pointed out that if they have a imam right in front of them or have the speaker right in front of them, they probably would be more likely to be more quiet.
And there’s a considerable amount of women who are frustrated with those loud social women and who does want to hear the message. I know because when I was at the mosque there were quite a few African women and American women who voiced their stern opposition to those loud talkers.
I talk about “sex discrimination,” which I am sorry to say doesn’t even seem to touch DH. The men are quite friendly, the prayers and messages are dynamic and the food is awesome!
Anyway, we did go to the diverse mosque, once. And actually it was a nice gathering. Now of course I couldn’t follow those prayers. No I don’t speak Arabic but it wasn’t just that. Every time I thought the prayer was over because there was a little interlude where people began to discuss and talk then , it would start back again. I didn’t know whether the prayer had ended or just … … took a little break — for some unknown reason. And yes my obstinant headscarf never tends to stay in place. I wonder if there is an elastic version of this headscarf that just encompasses the entire head like a showercap. Ok, that doesn’t sound very attractive, but it would get the job done. Maybe that would be better for me. It doesn’t help that my little guy loves to yank the headscarves off of myself and any other woman in close proximity. Yes, that is exactly what we got when we went to the mosque. He decided that he would be a bit more social than usual and yank women’s headscarves off their heads. This did not amuse the African woman sitting next to me. I think it was the fact that she was dressed in a very colorful outfit and headscarf and he was fascinated by it. Yet they weren’t amused. They were however enamored by my baby because he was so good we ended up staying until 1230 at night. Know that it certainly did mess up my sleeping schedule for the next two days. But my baby was not cranky at all. He wanted to get down and blow bubbles and crawl around on the floor which by the way I restricted his movement because I didn’t want him wondering off without me. Also we know that he has a fascination with people’s iPhones and there were a few women who plugged in their iPhones to be charged while they were praying. I was somehow surprised that women brought their iPhone chargers and plugged in their iPhones while they were playing. OK, I admit that I was a little bit India’s that I hadn’t thought of it myself. I thought somehow it would have been a bit disrespectful to do so. I don’t know why. I just did.
My little guy was very social. Much more social than I thought he would be. He seemed to be quite comfortable there. I think one of the reasons is because everybody was sitting on the floor. He likes people sitting on the floor. and, most women didn’t try to get him to come to them. they just waited until he was comfortable. he likes people sitting on the floor because They are his height and somehow they seem more personable down there. If they’re standing or sitting in a chair they just don’t seem to be as inviting for him.
I think the women like me more if I have a baby. Strangely enough it was unlike our Pakistani picnic experience. I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to the mosque. One woman actually remembered me and sat down and talk to me all night.
Now here is one of my dilemmas. I was called sister. I have no problem with this. I am, after all, a person of the book, Which means that I believe in the Bible so I am actually a believer in one of the three Abrahamic faiths. So maybe sister is not out of the realm of possibilities for me. However I don’t want them to think that I am Muslim and feel betrayed when they find out I am not. I don’t want to act as if I’m something I’m not. But I don’t want to brandish the big C on my chest and every time someone says something I retort ” did you know I’m a Christian?” I don’t want to make a big deal about it. But there isn’t anything that distinguishes me as a Christian from them as Muslims. I wear my headscarf. I don’t fast because I’m nursing. I sit in a chair instead of getting down on the floor to pray but that could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. I just don’t want the women to think that I have somehow fooled them. That would be counterproductive to what I’m trying to do which is to Forge good relationships between them and myself.
Another thing I did like about Our Mosque experience was the five minute English message that talked about being gentle and kind with your children especially since school is starting and while we certainly want our children to succeed, we also don’t want to make it so difficult that they feel the stress. I thought it was a very good message. And I found out that they’re having a celebration for the children. No my baby will not be able to enjoy the celebration yet. But I think my husband is getting excited just thinking about the time when he will be able to. And I’m glad they’re doing a celebration for eat. And of course we realize that many children won’t get to celebrate Christmas and Easter and that our baby is special in that he will celebrate all the holidays. The be plenty of time to spoil him with gifts and other things. Not that I necessarily want to spoil him but you know what happens. I also remind myself that there are probably a number of children who do celebrate at least Christmas because many families are interfaith now. many times there is a brother or a sister or a cousin or a mother and father who are still Christian after the Muslim converts. Therefore it is likely that they could celebrate Christmas. Maybe. And any case I wanted to give money for the eve celebration. And my husband reflected on how he could be more patient with our baby.
We were invited over to a doctor’s house after E was over to enjoy their hospitality. They also have a son who is about fifteen days older than our baby. Of course I’m certain that there is going to be comparisons made… Etc. But it will be nice to meet another couple. With a baby at the same age. And his wife is from the US, as well. I don’t know if she’s Muslim or not. But I do know she’s from the US.
any case, one thing I have learned this Ramadan, is that if I wanted to be special I have to make it so. My husband is not inclined to make Ramadan a family affair. It just was never done. His mother was just fine with not going to the mosque and hearing the messages. It just was not an option for his mother, so her role was to cook. If I want Ramadan to mean more than just cooking, I need to seek out those meanings for myself. I’m also fully aware that there will come a time, when my baby will not be experiencing Ramadan in the way that I am experiencing Ramadan. He will be with the men and I will be again on my own to experience Ramadan by myself. But hopefully by then I will have lots of women friends.
To top it off, I invited my daughter to the eve celebration. Now I invited her because there’re many Christians to go to eat celebrations. We have an interchurch and interfaith organizations to go to eat celebrations. Not only do they learn about Islam or Ramadan, but, many christians celebrate with Muslim friends. So I didn’t think it was out of the question to invite my daughter, after all her little brother will be experiencing his first eat. However she forcefully declined. She was almost apald that I would invite her to a mosque. Now I understand the fundamentalist Christians who feel very adamant about not stepping foot in the mosque. But this woman in her Christianity will go to a gay karaoke bar, tattoo parlor and redneck tailgating concerts; but, she has a problem with a Muslim place of worship??? So, she is totally comfortable with obssessive drinking, dressing in drag, all types of drama on the stage; but she is not comfortable with a different form of prayer?
Anyway, I am very much disappointed by her close mindedness.
This year it is me and my baby. We will make Ramadan and eid the best we can. And, I’ll have to start early to try to make the next Eid even better for LO.

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the new house!

June 11, 2012

Just updating.
We signed papers and now have the keys to the house. Check it out Front side of the house. We still have lots of packing and moving to do. I hate packing. but, the downside of having people help is that they randomly throw away things that you don’t want them to. I’ll probably have to buy a new beeping frizby and basketball with bells in it. And, who knows what else. Sure, I wanted to purge, but we all have different concepts of what this really means. And, once it is in the throw away box, who sees it again? OK, I have tried going through “throwaway boxes” periodically to minimize the hazzard of throwing away something that I want, but I am sure that many things have escaped my grasp. Besides, the fact is that when people help you, they get tired and I think they get “trash happy.” And, I want all of the “donate” boxes coming to my house, (even if it is more to move and sort) because I don’t want them accidently going to the landfill: “Whoops, so sorry!!!”
And, there is another thing. I don’t want things thrown away that could possibly be used by another person. I don’t feel that it is good stuardship of the land — ditto on landfills. But, when you have people helping you pack, you are kind of at their mercy. Now, I could go onto my soapbox about issues of control and respecting one’s values when we talk about the relationship between the “helped” and the “helper.” But, that is for a different post.
for now, despite the fact that we will have to buy some new items because they got thrown into the dustbin — Trashcan; (and people think that I won’t even notice that they are gone), I am still excited about our new house. I want to put a swing or glider on the front portch, grow something (a bit uncommon, but not hard to grow) in the side yard, put a play yard in our fenced-in yard etc. Our office will be much larger and we will have an extra room for guests. Actually, we will have two extra rooms because it will be a while before Azaan actually “uses” the room that we have for him. any suggestions on play yard or plants????

the saga of the hunt

May 8, 2012

In the post, title=”Gori desi rishta” href=”https://goridesirishta.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-dinner-the-dig-and-the-discovery/”> “the Dinner, the dig and the discovery, ” I talked (at length) about this house that DH and I wanted to buy. It was uncharacteristically a “steal” for that neighborhood. The price fit DH’s budget and the sqft fit my liking. In that post, I describe the house in detail and list all the reasons why we liked it. So, we made an offer, April 29th, the exact day that his sister delivered her little baby boy. Our realtor drew up the papers, but we could not sign them until DH returned from Chicago: (after visiting his sister), which was on Friday. There were complications because the documents were photo image files which were very difficult to read. So, my daughter had to come over Sunday to read them and show us where to initial/sign. she dropped the papers off to the realtor first thing Monday morning. And, guess what????? The company reported to the realtor that the exact week that we made an offer, there were supposedly three other offers made on the property. They can’t tell us what the house went for or who bought it. the only thing that they can tell us is that “we don’t get the house.”
What is the proper amount of grieving time when you don’t get the house that you desire???? (still in mourning, and I don’t mean the A.M. — although it is 7:00 A.M. when I am writing this post).
Now, we are looking again. and, the difficult thing is that: I want a house with more than 1500sqft (the one we lost was 1600sqft), a fenced-in backyard and at least 3bdrms; and DH wants a house under $100k, quick and easy access to work and more than one bath. We don’t want a house built after 2000, only because we don’t like the factory builds. the wood seems flimsey and the walls seem thin. The tile is cheap and the paint is flat.
DH wanted to buy the house (the one we missed out on) as soon as we saw it. I languished because I wanted to make sure that it fit our needs. Honestly, it did not allow DH to take the public bus to work — which would have saved him money. But, as we do our search, we are finding out that none of the houses have “easy access” to that busline. Even when they are close in proximity, there are no sidewalks and no lights at the crossings. DH is one hundred times better than I am in mobility and was trained by a blind mobility instructor. He can walk anywhere downtown and he has completed drop-off lessons successfully. Besides, there are now accessible GPS systems from your IPhone. Yet, the City bus seems to elude us. My point is that it was “I” who dragged my feet: “What about the Well?” “what can we do with those little nooks?” “if it hasn’t sold in three months, we can take our time to be sure!” Now, I am kicking myself. DH has not blamed me. He has not said: “If you would have gotten on board sooner…..” And the house was listed (don’t know if they paid above listing price) at least twenty-seven thousand (and I am spelling it out in case anyone thinks that I made a type-o) les than bought in 2005 — and that did not take into consideration the new furnace, new hot water heater, fence around the backyard, fenced in area for an above-ground pool, newly built garage, additional back room, new carpet, all appliances (Washer, dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, built in microwave) included . The more I write about it, the sicker I become. Honestly, that house could have went for **at least** twice the asking price in a good market — or even “just ok” market. And, we could have had it.
Part of me does not want to even look for a house. After all, we will probably never find that good of a deal ever! ever! ever! again!! We are seeing houses for $90k and 1400sqft. Our realtor is telling us that this is actually a good buy and we will probably never find a house that meets both DH and my qualifications. One of us needs to compromise.It will probably be me …. … (esp since I was the one who dragged my feet on the last one) but:
I really wanted more than 1500sqft. The house I am renting now has 1500sqft. OK, there is 750sqft living space and 750sqft basement. But, we actually use our basement. DH points out that it is not a finished basement. You can’t have a game center down there or a bedroom and there is no bathroom. But, actually, we do have a bed down there and my children have come to stay a few times. There is a kitchen table, a microwave, a couch, small fridge, space to hang clothes, nightstand, rocking chair and lots of space. My children have brought their TVs and it was their own private space. the laundry room is down there and we do store lots of DH’s books. My daughter and her husband point out that the basement is not actual “living space,” so we would be getting more “living space.” DH says that although the basement did not flood, it was not finished — and by “finished” and “acceptable” he means, carpeted, plumming and a door to the place where the bed would be. He didn’t like our basement anyway. But, I just can’t wrap my head around the logic that the basement wasn’t good living space. I just don’t feel it! and, I feel like I am moving “backward,” if I move into a smaller house.
Yet, we can’t afford something larger — without compromising quality. Sure, I found a house for 2400sqft and only $92k, but it was in need of major repairs. DH is not a DIY kind of guy. And, I don’t know what I am doing. Remember, he has withdrawals when parting with cash, so misc repairs will be difficult for him. thus, (just being real) the repairs probably wouldn’t get done.
And, I can’t just “get over it.” It is amazing! You’d think that DH would be more angry about the house selling. It was such a great deal!!!!! But, he is so relaxed about the entire thing. I am the one who wakes him up in the middle of the night (even though he has to work the next morning) and say: “…. What is the likelyhood that there would be **three** — I mean, **THREE** offers during that same week we wanted to put in an offer?” “did the owner or your boss want someone else in the house and when they found out that we were going to make an offer, make sure that their preference was met?” “What kind of conspiracy is this?” “If I only had moved quicker…” “We will never find something that meets our needs like that house again …. and for such a deal…. the market is recovering and, well, we just lost— lost — I mean, really lost!!!” OK, I didn’t actually wake him up, he got up to go to the restroom and made the mistake of asking me why I wasn’t asleep. And, it is not like he hasn’t heard this at least twenty times before — and probably will hear it twenty more. Although, to him, it is over and time to move on. I just can’t let it go.
I am off to see more houses tomorrow, but this one will always be the comparison house and maybe none will actually match up.

acronyms, offenses, Identity, culture and language

September 15, 2011

Am i being a bit too sensitive: or is this really offensive?
Learning the slang and acronyms of someone’s culture is just a part of understanding their world. It was probably about two years ago that I learned the term: “A B C D.” sure, it is cute and catchy… … but, is anyone else struck with the “not-so-subtle” message?
I think that it goes back to the assumption that people who are either of two worlds or are of mixed heritage, must, invariably, be mixed up/ confused / and fit in “no where” in society. This is also a common misconception when talking about those in families of multiple faiths. To make society feel more comfortable, culture asks them to choose one “culture” or “identity” because “biracial” or “intercultural” is just not understood as a valid option. How long did it actually take us to get “multiracial” on the census form????
the Days and stereotypes of Dorothy Dandridge are/should be gone. I agree that identity development is an intricate and ongoing process. And, culture certainly does play a part in that development. However, traversing the many “worlds” of society (if you will) is not just a skill that people of two or more cultures or races must learn. It is present whenever someone steps out of their prescribed “box” of familial background. And, “who” was the person who deemed this “understanding” and “traversion” a negative thing? Who automatically assumes that the bicultured or biracial person won’t be accepted in either culture: just because they are not 100% of that culture? Isn’t this a self fulfilling prophesy and a vitious circle? Furthermore, who deemed the “c” in “A B C D” to stand for “confused?” Is this a case of someone not having a very extensive vocabulary and not knowing how to use the dictionary to find a more affirming word? Or, has this come from the notion that I have discussed above? Additionally, why are so many people accepting this term and using it for themselves? I don’t agree with the concept of taking a word with negative connotations and using it for one’s self in a positive manner. JMHO, the infamous “N Word” is offensive no matter who uses it. i have never referred to myself as a “B**ch.” We could delve deep into the connections between language and identity. We could talk about the paralells of Americans born or assemilating to other cultures and why there are less stereotypes about their emotional well being. . We could discuss how our identity changes with each stage of our lives and how that might effect us. However, all i wanted to point out is that …. maybe passively accepting and/or using such a label (no matter how trendy and catchy it is) might have negative consequences and should be critically examined before doing so. And, it is disheartening that many people are readily willing to accept such non-affirming language to describe themselves.

Eid mubarak! — and other thoughts about the mosque — all rolled up into one.

August 30, 2011

There are many complex variables to worship. Of course, worship should be a time when you do, say or sing to get closer to God/Allah. But, there is a communal part to worship and somehow, (and I think that most people have this expectation or hope) you also want to develop relationships with those who share your spiritual beliefs and are worshipping along side of you. I’ll admit, I was never one for “collective prayer,” it seemed so conscribed. Yet, I do understand the sense of communal oneness in such an act.
I wonder, did I fool myself or is it a myth somewhere: the thought that Muslims are, somehow, quite close knit in their communities and relationships – almost as close as those Amish. (smile) We have attended two different mosques on a regular basis. I wish that I could tell you that I was openly greeted and embraced. I can’t. Now, I need to admit here that I always feel a bit timid and shy and vulnerable when going to the mosque. Sure, you wonderfully assertive people will tell me to get over it and stop being so emotional. Quit whining, you will say. Bla bla bla: it has went through my mind several times. But, it is really a combination of a few things which makes me feel vulnerable.
1. It is still taking me some time to get use to this male/female segregation worship. It is not that I don’t enjoy the company of women. I am “sisterhood,” all the way! It is that I feel that my guide is leaving me at a crucial moment. In churches, I can take his hand, lean over and whisper something in his ear, ask “Tum Theek ho” to gage his comfort level. All this is missing at the mosque. When we have Muslim taxi drivers, they drop me off at the “women’s entrance,” and DH at the Men’s entrance. So, I have to enter alone.
2. All mosques are a bit different and it is hard as a blind person to understand what is expected of me. Where do my shoes actually go? (If I have not taken them off yet, it is not because I am unaware of the rule, it is just that I am not sure where the shoes are being put); I think that the headscarf knows that I am not Muslim, thus, resists my efforts to keep it on; how conservative is the dress of other women in this mosque; during Ramadan, some people are strict about only eating dates and drinking water between the call to prayer and the actual prayer and some include fruit and snacks; someone has to help me with the food because I don’t know “what” is there or “where” it is (consequently, someone always has to serve me which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable);
3. I am not Muslim. I don’t want the sisters to think that I am “playing Muslim” when I am not. Yet, I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and/or disrespect anyone in the process. There are some discussions – some acts – that I am precluded from because of my religious affiliation. Yet, I am never quite sure where the line is. And, I wonder, does my Non-muslim-ness make it more difficult for sisters to bond with me? This is not an ethnographic study and I am not an observationist – or at least, I don’t want to be or to be seen that way. There is a certain objectivity that an observationist gives to the experience and I would rather be more participatory than that. Yet, obviously, there is a line to my participation.
4. I have a guide dog. I don’t take him to the mosque, but if the same friends take us places or want to expand our relationship, they have to be comfortable with the dog — — which many are not. Actually, we rarely get that far. But, I know that many are not comfortable with my dog and this causes all of us some discomfort. There is a limit to how much I can leave him at home and honestly, if I leave him at home too much, it kind of defeats the purpose of having one. However, when we have to depend on rides, I have to put their comfort first.
My hope was that we could knit together a community of brothers and sisters (both from the church and the mosque), as well as some work colleagues — maybe — to be like close family. What church, you ask. And, I must agree, because I have not made much headway there, either. While I admit that the mosque is a bit more accepting than most churches that I have attended, there still feels like a disconnect. Sure, men at the mosque are more willing (than men at a church) to drive us to and from the mosque. They do seem to be “more helpful.” But, I was not just looking for “help” I was looking for a community to belong to – a community of interaction and the sharing of ideas and ultimately ourselves.
[side note: I think that is also what my daughter is looking for and one of the reasons (certainly not the only one, because he seems to be a much better guy than the others), that she wants to marry her ex-morman boyfriend who has tons of sibs and cousins]. The “Ex” is on the “mormon” part, not on the “boyfriend” part.
Anyway, at first, We began attending a very small mosque. The Imam would drive us to and from the mosque. Sometimes, I would talk to his wife. I thought that we wre developing a relationship with the couple. The man went off to study Arabic for three months in DC. I called the wife a couple of times to see if she needed anything. I got no response. The imam did not even call us when he returned. We had expressed excitement about his trip and were generally interested in his progress & experiences. Since we were one of the main families who would worship (and I use that term loosely in my case) at the mosque where he gave lectures, I kind of expected a closer relationship with the members. The second mosque is quite a bit larger. The one thing that I do like about this mosque is that there are lots of different nationalities present. We know men from Somalia, Gambia, Senegal, Lebanon, Pakistan, India and some American born&raised Muslims. The men of the mosque are willing to pick up DH and I and return us to our homes. Our Gambian friend has a Christian wife, but she never comes to the Mosque. There is one bright spot. One Auntie, Shaaesta, does sit and talk with me. I realize that she could very well sit and pray/talk with the other Aunties. But, this pashton woman will sit and talk with me every time I see her at the Mosque. Sure, sometimes, she can be opinionated and she usually worries that I will fall down and/or trip over something on the floor. I wonder how much more intense this preoccupation with my falling will become when I have the baby and need to carry him around. ? Yet, she is kind and when we sit and talk, she really listens to what I have to say. I have not seen her outside the Mosque, however. It is a promising start. And, I must understand that *one* person can make a difference.
Now, DH is celebrating Eid with our Gambian friend and his Christian wife. That is where he was invited. And, I am stuck here at work. Dh has many more personal days than I do. When he works over, he gets comp time and he has been working at the company longer. Besides, whenever we have doctor appointments, I have to take off 30mins before my work day ends. He does not because his work starts 30mins before mine does and ends 30mins before mine does. So, He had the time to take off and still get paid. I don’t. and, frankly, I am a bit emotional about not getting to celebrate Eid with him. So, I’ll stop here with the future hope that next year, we all will celebrate Eid together.

the shackles of innocence and restraint

August 11, 2011

first,
I apologize for no categorizations, I am writing from my email.

It seems like most people have a desire to rid children and those with strict morals of the shackles of innocence so that they can taste all of the bitter sweet delicies that the “real word” has to offer. I am not sure “why” this is, but let me give you two separate situations to illustrate my point.
**Situation #1:
I am on a listserv for blind parents. We were discussing the virtues of Stephen King novels and *if* they were appropriate for 9-12 year old audiences. To my surprise, many parents agreed that they definitely “would allow their child to read a Stephen king Novel.”… … after all, “at least they are reading!” Now, I am no prude… Wait, maybe people think I am, but these books are not depicting real life. there are vivid gritty sex scenes, candid descriptions of violence and inappropriate vulgar language amd actions that I would not want my child to be exposed to at the ages of 9-12. Most people extol the virtues of “exposing the child to the real world,” and argue, “they are going to do it anyway, so, we might as well know about it.” I have always found this argument problematic. If we permit such behavior, aren’t we silently (or at least tacidly) condoning it? I think it says more about people’s parenting style and maybe their willingness to be confrontational. Have we taken freedom too far? should we not be surprised when a 12-year-old girl sues her father because he punished her for visiting porn sites on the internet? (Yes, this really happened last year). Again, I am lamenting that I am not more tech savvy, so that I might post the exact link. Call me a “lazy poster,” but don’t accuse me of being a “lazy parent.” (smile) I had a more elloquent response in my subsequent emails, but I won’t bore you with all of the details. I do understand that others might have a different view; after all, most thought that “lolita,” by Nabokov was a masterpiece and I thought it to be a piece of crap. (and I rarely use that word, but could not find any other word without using profanity which adequately describes the book).
**Situation #2:
Last Saturday, I attended a Beepball banquet with DH. We were pretty disappointed that he only played 4 innings out of 96. The other older team mates weren’t that good, they just wanted to selfishly play. Strangely enough, the coach is actually a fulltime player and regardless of his stats, he plays constantly. I am not sure how he can coach from that advantage, but I don’t want to discuss the team, right now. I would digress too far from my point.
So, I wanted to support DH and go to the banquet with him. After all, he was fasting. He gave me his ticket. In a strange turn of events, the food did not come until 8:20, so I ate half and saved half of the meal for fast breaking time: about 30mins later.
the “world Series,” which is the largest tournament for the
beepballers (much like the world Series in Baseball), was held in our city. DH had the option to stay in a hotel room with two other guys. He would be installed on the pull out sofa; compliments of his low seniority. The guys were real partyers. Each night, they could not wait to end play so that they could drink large amounts of alcohol and smoke a bit of weed. DH stayed home. Honestly, that was a “no brainer.” I did not have to twist his arm. But, in at least one conversation between DH and a team mate, they commented “your wife has you on lock down.” Similarly, while we were at the banquet, a different team mate remarked that next year, DH would have to stay in a hotel with them because the “world series” was in a different city. So, they would initiate him into the ways of real partying. the team mate understood me wanting DH to stay at home this time — with the baby and all. But, (and especially since DH has never touched alcohol before), next year, DH would be able to experience the good life. It bothered me that DH did not object — neither to the stereotype that had been thrust upon me, nor to the much anticipated initiation. UGGG! Some might take that as a sign that he felt (at least a twinge of) agreement. But, DH has had ample opone team member realized or cared that this special time was even upon them. portunity to do these things. And,
If he wanted to stay at the hotel, I would have supported him. DH does not want to drink and he does not want to smoke weed — especially not during the time of Ramadan. Not and, he has seen him team mates get drunk and frankly, they don’t make alcohol look appealing. I know that there are some differences, but there are some parallels to these two stories. why do people think that “exposure,” is always a good thing? why do people feel that innocence or restraint is always a bad thing? Must everyone “want” to be corrupted? Why is it that people always want to champion for the “freedom “to *do something” but rarely support others in their decision to exercise their freedom “*not to *do it?”
And, to the Muslim women in France and Belgium, I feel you on the burqa ban.

Interfaith Watch (What is in the News)

June 22, 2011

i have tried to be low profile about interfaith. sometimes, it feels that interfaith subjects are taking over my life and emotions. … [how much to give, when to give, the boundaries of modesty, rules on cleanliness and eating, …] sometimes we reach for a balance, sometimes we honor the other’s beliefs, and sometimes, we say we will — but we fall short….
Just being real, here!

But, i must admit: differences&compromises in tenaments and expressions of faith do seem to overwhelm me at times!
It is a large part of our existance — Whether DH wants to acknowledge it or not.

anyway, we joined that Naiff (National of Interchurch and Interfaith Families) board as a Muslim/christian couple — a position that “I” (if no one else does) take seriously.
Since our wedding didn’t quite work out like I had planned or hoped (long boring story that I don’t want to rehash — at least, not now) ,
I was thrilled when someone else called looking for an imam to do an interfaith ceremony.
…. … maybe they can have that ceremony that I just couldn’t manage to get together!!!
(how exciting).
So, I sent them a questionnaire to verify exactly what kind of ceremony they were wanting,
[blended, alcohol? pork? kissing? dancing? mehr? and more] went on a search for Imams in their area and generally started looking at Interfaith articles, again.
i have already posted many links to Interfaith resources, so I won’t bore you with that again.
But: Here is an article that got lots of attention.
http://www.northjersey.com/news/123548299_Christian_Muslim_service_prompts_hate_mail_to_pastor.html?c=y&page=1
Now, i ask: What business is it to a person living in New Zealand, if a minister wants to hold an interfaith service? I understand wanting to be “globally aware,” but this is going overboard.
And, the most exciting moment – the hated Pastor admitted that he welcomes “interfaith couples,” at his perish! WOOHOO!
check it out!

updating: OUR secret expansion! “mayray oomeed bachchi laRki hai !

May 26, 2011

I know that it has been about two to three months since I have written *anything. There is a reason for this and it is not because I have been too busy to write. Although, I have been quite tired lately!
Both, myself and my family is expanding and – yes, exactly in the way one might predict considering a marriage has not taken place too long ago. Now, I know that, we probably should have waited. But, the truth is that the longer I wait, the more likely either myself or the baby would have some type of complication. So, Yes, within the first year of marriage: He moved to a new city, We both found jobs and I have become pregnant.
WOOH. That is a lot and we still aren’t factoring in the first-year-married types of adjustments.
And, I still have to admit that it is amazing how a community of bloggers can unknowingly blog about something that is quite pertinent to another blogger. I am talking about the Gori Wife’s post concerning pregnancy and Pakistanis.
Check it out:

I just could not understand DH’s reluctance to talk about such issues. I talk about it all the time. Yes, I have been pregnant before, but there have been many changes in the world of babies and pregnancy in … … over 18 years. And, DH knows “NOTHING” about babies and pregnancy so I thought that he might be curious to know every little detail. I was wrong. OK, so I get the point that “pregnancy” confirms that indeed the couple have been engaging in … … “coupling.” But, Pakistanis have no problem celebrating marriages and … … if pregnancy confirms that you “have” been having relations, then a marriage is saying: WOOHOO, “I will be soon!!!” Both of our cultures certainly do spend lots of time thinking about sex, just in different ways. For example: when someone tells me that they are pregnant, the last thing I think of is their bedroom habits. That is just a given – in most circumstances – now, let’s move on to the real exciting stuff – the pregnancy! So, while I admit that we, Americans, seem to use sex to sell anything and seem to be quite sexually liberal; Pakistanis seem to be so afraid of eluding to it that they make the subject a sweet taboo. Some societies seem to be so bent on eradicating such topics from public discourse that they are actually thinking about it at least as much as the sexually liberal societies and seem to find it in places where we don’t even think to look. I think that Azadeh Moaveni’s first book and even “Sensoring an Iranian LoveStory,” a novel by Sharier Mandanipur does an adequate job at highlighting some of these issues. … sorry for the soapbox.
I think since I was so offended that Dh did not want to know a single thing about his own child, he has relented a bit and does find the conversation mildly interesting – as long as I get to the point and don’t drag it out. I am not saying that he ignores my pregnancy entirely. He doesn’t want me lifting and worries about my nausea and stress and he is concerned about my food intake. He will ask: “So how big is the baby now?” “Can you feel it inside you?” “How much of the brain is developed?” “when will it start kicking?” “I wish that I could feel/hear it moving around.” “I think you are getting bigger already!” (I can still fit quite nicely into my clothes: it must be his imagination – thank you very much). But, he almost left the house (never to return) when I mentioned videoing the birth. OK, granted, it seems that we argue at least once a day – (where is that concern about my stress?). But, I just went too far with that video suggestion! I tried to explain that my private parts would not be shown. He says, “who wants to see a bloody baby? Why would you want to video tape you being in so much pain?” …. … Still, it is definitely beyond his comprehension and comfort level. We will have to stick to photos and maybe an audio recording of the baby’s first cry. – Aren’t I compromising???? (SMILE)
In any case, he has agreed to be in the birthing room with me, as well as a friend/doula and my daughter … … oh, and a midwife, of course.
DH did tell one of his friends in Pakistan and the friend said absolutely “NOTHING.” I was amazed that he didn’t even say a profunctory “Congratulations,” after all, this was suppose to be a very close friend and even American acquaintances say: “Congratulations,” or something similar. Then, there was that one time when DH told a coworker that we both knew. They were both running/walking the mini marathon and she had a horribly painful cramp. His excuse: “that is all I could think of to get her mind off the pain!” He even said it worked for about five minutes. (smile) But, this damages his firm stance and logic behind such a stance.
His stance — ? First, DH says that he doesn’t think that I should broadcast it because others would be jealous. I don’t think that he was as upset at his sister when she told her work colleagues. But, I’ll let that one go, even if I shouldn’t. “GRRRR!”
I have one friend who just lost a baby. We were quite close growing up and although my marriage caused some rifts between us, we have since mended our relationship and are working on remaining close while respecting our differences. Her and her husband have four and she wanted another. DH thought that I should not tell her. But, I tried to explain that true friends aren’t “jealous of each other.” We never were like that. I am just not the jealous kind when it comes to what others have that I don’t and she has been the same way. In fact, twice she has brought over things that I might need to curb the nausea and calls all of the time to get a baby update. She has wanted a baby for so long: her youngest is nine-yo, that she is a baby encyclopedia! But, Dh was worried that she would be jealous and send bad thoughts our way. I say that Bad thoughts can’t hurt us or the baby. He worries lots about what people will think and making them feel bad and what consequences their bad feelings might have for us. I say, We are not responsible for other people’s feelings. And, if they were true friends, they would be happy for us. But, this logic sometimes falls on deaf ears.I don’t know what he is thinking. I will admit that several times during the last 2-3 months, I have seriously wished that I had the authority to prescribe psychotropic meds for his paranoia. (smile) But, I need to admit, he probably has had the same desire since I seem to be quite grumpy!
There are so many things that I could blog about: new baby carriers and how to see which is right for me, my food preferences and intake, Pakistani baby traditions, new and necessary baby stuff (like a nursing blanket that goes around your neck for optimum discretion), tips on baby learning language when I only have an elementary grasp, how it seems that DH’s hormones fluxuate as much as mine do, family issues (both mine and his), finding lories/lullabies from Pakistan and other places to play/sing for the baby, new developments like water births and progesterone shots, postponed trip to Pakistan and when would be the best time to go with a baby, baby names and cord banks. There are also other blog posts that I have written, but have not submitted because, somehow, in each one of them I find a way to work in some part of the pregnancy and DH did not want me to tell many people until … … at least after twelve weeks.
… … Not that he looks at this blog, but just in case.
We have a Dr. APT tomorrow. He, his sister (who will be visiting) my daughter and I will go. Hopefully, we will hear the heartbeat!!! And, it is actually “officially” at the 12week mark. So, there you go. This is an update!

Paying tribute to oryza Sativa

March 18, 2011

There are some things that you *think* you will not mind, …. …. Until you marry. For me, it was my elevated consumption of RICE. To DH, a meal is not a meal unless it contains either rice or bread. Actually flatbread (or more specifically NAAN) is one of my favorites, but I am not nearly good enough in the kitchen (much less have the time) to make Naan. And, just in case you didn’t know, Flat bread is expensive, running about $2.50 for four pieces of flat bread. Tortilla shellls are a pathetic substitute. I can eat pasta, but its lack of nutrician usually makes it less appealing. Sure, I have cooked meals with Couscous and Quinoa (also expensive) trying to have something “similar in texture,” yet “a bit different in taste.” But, when it is all said and done; It is all about Rice. I even (since marriage) make a pot of rice when I make chilli. Certainly, I don’t necessarily have to consume and many times, I don’t. But, it is still there. Rice&meat, Rice pudding, Rice&peas, Rice&corn, Rice stuffed cabbage leaves, Rice&mixed vegetables, Rice&Broccoli, stuffed peppers with Rice, Rice&Lentils, Rice & fruit salad, Rice&beans and Rice&potatoes. The latter seem to break the codes of good nutrician by offering too much starch during one meal setting, yet somehow, rice sprouts its way into every meal. I have washed, soaked, boiled, baked, fried, steamed and fluffed the rice. We have eaten long grained, basmati, ttexmati, wehani, parboiled, glutenous, sticky, fluffy, sweet, spicy, white, brown and golden rice.
three weeks ago, as head chef (only chef) in our household, I decided to put a ban on cooking rice in my kitchen. I welcomed flat or fluffy bread, pasta, potatoes, couscous, quinoa or any substitute and/or impostor, but resolved that the authentic small grain was not permitted to drop or roll anywhere near my dinner table for at least two weeks. It was time for a “purifying” of sorts.
Then, I got sick. I rarely get sick. On the off chance that I do, it usually consists of a fever and headache. This time, however, I had a horribly inconvenient case of the stomach flu which made me declare the bathroom as the most important room in the entire house. I am surprised that Dh didn’t get jealous of the time and attention that I seemed to lavish on my household toilet. The common standard advice was to go on the “BRAT diet.” This consists of Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Crackers can be substituted for toast, but them it changes the acronym. (smile) . Although I was physically weak, I did not want to be seen as noncommittal, thus, I was fervently prepared to continue the ban on that wonderful most flexible grain. I followed this strange diet (excluding the rice, of course) and gulped pills and chugged medicine every four hours. DH didn’t need the latest fad of the BRAT DIET to tell him that rice is a staple food for when you are sick. While we, American children, were making “Campbell’s chicken noodle soup,” a common household medicine for the flu, his mother was feeding her children a kind of rice mixture that was even better. I will abashedly confess that nothing improved until I relented. When I yielded to RICE, My health improved. All hail to the rice deity!
STATISTICS:
• More than 90 percent of the world’s rice is grown and consumed in Asia, where people typically eat rice two or three times a day. Rice is the staple diet of half the world’s population.
• It takes 5,000 liters (almost 1321 gallons) of water to produce 1 kg(Roughly 2.2 pounds) of irrigated rice. Rice can grow from two to five feet long and can grow under water and in flooding areas.
• More than 40,000 varieties of cultivated rice are thought to exist. more than 100 grow world-wide, but only around 10% are marketed and sold.
• Three of the world’s four most populous nations are rice-based societies: People’s Republic of China, India, and Indonesia. Together, they have nearly 2.5 billion people almost half of the world’s population. Hmmm, is rice linked to fertility??? I have heard about celebrations in Bali where they believe just that and apparently have some ground for their beliefs. (smile)
• The average Asian consumer eats 150 kg(330.7 pounds) of rice annually compared to the average European who eats 5 kg (11.2pounds).
• Rice provides 20% (that’s one fifth) of the world’s dietary energy supply.
• The Chinese devote an entire day of their New Year to the celebration of Rice and punctuate the New year by giving wishes of “May your rice never burn.”
• In Japan, people do not think in terms of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but rather morning rice (asa gohan), afternoon rice (hiru gohan), and evening rice (ban gohan). Also, Japanese auto titans are even rooted in the rice fields: Toyota means bountiful rice field and Honda means main rice field.
• In Singapore, a good job is an iron rice bowl, and being out of a job, a broken rice bowl.
• The Korean term “bap 밥” and the Japanese term “meshi めし” as well as the Chinese word “fan 飯” all have the double meaning of “meals,” and “rice,” demonstrating how significant “rice” is to eating.
• rice is a good source of insoluble fiber.
1 cup of white has about the same amount of calories as brown, but far less fat. (.8 grams per serving vs. 2.4 grams per serving) However, brown rice is much higher in fiber than the white variety, with 2.8 grams of dietary fiber per serving versus .6 grams. Most other nutritional values are similar.

One of the reasons why rice is enjoyed internationally is that it is easy to prepare, it’s inexpensive, and it possesses significant vitamins and minerals. Examples of rice include: Basmati – which is aromatic in smell, is grown in south Asian countries and is DH’s favorite; and glutinous rice, which is a sticky, yet sweet rice typically used for dessert. Brown rice is another example — which has a nutty taste to it – while Jasmine rice is pleasantly aromatic and grows only in Thailand.
Currently, there are five national rice foundations (NRFs), one each in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.
The largest collection of rice cultivars is at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and there is actually a World Rice Museum, but my computer could not read the web page. There are also several rice cultivating organizations in the USA; usually distinguished by state.
And, I Dh’s favorite dish is Biriyani which consists of spiced long grained rice and either vegetables or chicken or both. In any case, I am feeling better and my battle with rice is over. The nonstick long grain is actually pretty good. I’ll not be purchasing rice flour, rice milk or rice wine anytime soon. i don’t even eat “Rice crispy treats,” or “Rice cakes,” which probably have a very minimum amount of rice in them. (smile) And, i most definitely draw the line at chocolate covered rice, no matter its nutritional superiority! .

Maira kwahish seekhna … maira safar samajna [My wish to learn … my journey to understand].

February 25, 2011

As a wife of a Muslim man,
I feel that I should be quite versed in the Quran.
(confession) I tried reading it once and did not get very far. I just could not understand most of it and was looking for the “practical application part.”
But, in order for me to help and encourage him to be an upstanding Muslim, I can’t take this faith journey lightly.
But, i am digressing… … (more on that later)

The same goes for his Pakistani heritage.
Most of the time, when we are at home, he speaks Urdu. He talks to family in Pindi, his sister in Illinois and his friend at Purdue — all in Urdu.
I will mention in passing that I am more than slightly annoyed that while he speaks Urdu at least three hours a day, regularly, his teaching moments are far less frequent, far less time intensive and are done with far less enthusiasm.
“Main sach say boolt rahi hoon.” “i am speaking the truth.”
______________________________
It is essential that I learn – with or without his help.
I have already felt excluded from conversations on skype Yet, I feel too much like a millstone around the neck when I have to constantly request him to translate.
So, if “I” want things to be better, then, I need to continue to strive for such things: even if he is “bohat masroof, “Bohat Nidhal,” or ( just too lazy ) and enjoys speaking it much more than actually “teaching it.”

In order for me to tackle this task, I need to understand the challenges and where I have failed in the past.
One of the problems with learning urdu is that I have not found a good course. So, I take the best from all of them…. … or at least try.
But, no one writes Roman urdu the same. My screenreader can not read Urdu script and any literature must be read via computer. .
For example:
“Nila,” “Neela,” and “niila,” are all the same word.
“Phool,” “Phhoul,” or any combination of “ph” or “phh” preceeding “ul,” “ool” “oul” “uul” are used for the same word. And, to complicate things, because everyone uses their own spellings, my screen reader (which is speaking the urdu) reads the word differently.
I can get use to the mispronunciation, if it is a constant; such as “ahmed.” My screenreader always pronounces “Ahmed,” with the “a” found in “ALL,” not the “a” found in “AM.” But, since it always pronounces it this way, I can get used to it.Yet, if Flower in urdu is spelled tons of ways and thus, is pronounced a myriad of ways, then, I have a double problem on my hands.
I choose not to deal with it at this point. While I “do” write urdu for my own learning, I try to speak more than I write. So, this is why I must stick to conversation. Besides, it is highly unlikely that I will be reading much Urdu Braille.
Yet, lessons that focus on conversation seem to focus on memorizing phrases. And, that does not help me transfer many skills to expand my conversation.

SO: I am finding anyone that I can to help me learn. Ultimately, it would be nice to find an aging English teacher who can speak both urdu and English. Maybe I could find a circle of women who would take turns helping me speak the language. I need to find a variety of speaking partners. I don’t think that one partner can give me theconstant help that I need. I have tried finding “urdu teachers,” on various language learning sites. This, too has always failed. This was due to such factors as: time, skill, knowledge, my inflexibility with the written word, their patience and probably both of our people skills. I thought about taking an Urdu course, but the closest university that offers a course is 2hours away and I get off of work and get home by … (between 5:30—7:00). Remember, I don’t drive. I’m going to have to find unconventional ways to learn. Any suggestions?? Being desperate: I am making a flyer and going to try to post it in such places as “the Indian Center,” and a few Indian Grocery stores in the area.
But, I can only write Roman Urdu and can’t (don’t know how to) use my computer to make urdu script, nor do i know how to spell the words in Urdu script. I have thought about one of those translation software programs so that i can write in the Roman letters and they be translated to Urdu, or i could write in each English word and have it translated into Urdu script.
But, i’ll probably just hope someone can read roman Urdu.
***Corrections are seen as constructive criticism and are appreciated in advance!!