Archive for the ‘cultrual experiences’ Category

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.

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Precautions and preparation: traveling with an infant to Pakistan!

August 19, 2011

As I was browsing through my emails, I received a mail from my SIL. I am amazed and certainly touched. You see, we were suppose to go to Pakistan in November. With the baby coming, we have postponed our trip. My SIL was also suppose to get married in November and … … you guessed it, she postponed her wedding until we could be there. Who would do that? Who would just decide (after some arrangements had been made) to postpone the wedding until your brother, his new wife and the baby could come? I don’t think that people in my family would. I am truly in awe that she would postpone her day and want to share the commotion with us and the new baby.
Needless to say, I have to get a visa quickly. I have a passport, but must start applying for my visa. If the birth and things go well, (remember ED is December 14—15), we are thinking about going at the end of February. I wanted to wait until the 3month mark, until about march 15th, But, I don’t want his sister to have to wait that long for the wedding. But, I don’t want to compromise baby’s health and that is more important. So, I do have some questions for you who have traveled to Pakistan with an infant. Of course, I am looking on the CDC website. And, yes, I know that there is a forum in Gorigirl related to this topic, but I lost my password! So here goes:
1. Does the infant have to have a passport and visa?
2. Do I have to wait 3months for the first round of infant vaccinations and what about malaria?
3. Are there certain things that I should take for emergencies? The website mentions “ORS,.” Should I bring some, even if I am nursing? Is pedialite the same thing? What else for my “firstaid kit?”
4. DH’s family often drinks bottled water. The website says that sometimes it is safe and sometimes not. Has anyone had experience with bottled water in Pakistan?
5. Like I said earlier, I will be nursing. If I eat something that causes me to have diareah, is it likely that the baby will also have diareah?
6. What if the baby does have to go to the hospital? Should I get travelers insurance? Has anyone had to take their child to the hospital? What are the differences between a Pakistani hospital and an American one? I know that DH’s uncle is a doctor. But, still, there are differences, I am sure.
7. DH says that car seats are quite uncommon in Pakistan. Now, it would just be easier for me not to take one on the plane and I had planned to hold my baby in a carrier/wrap. Sometimes, less stuff is just better. But, that would mean that I would not have a car seat to put in DH’s father’s car on the drive from Islamabad to Rawal Pindi. I am not even sure that it will fit. But, I have visions of my baby crashing through the windshield. Nourotic, maybe! How did you handle it?
Thanks for any help.
I know that this is months away, but I want to know in advance what is involved. And, if we should wait until the 3month mark, I want to at least know this for sure and get things set. So, if we say that we are traveling March 18th then I want to make a sincere effort to do so. And, I know that I am going to be nervous and worried about the baby, the closer it gets to the travel date; so being prepared is the best course. Then, my “WHAT Ifs “ will be all taken care of. My biggest worry is that the baby will get sick and everyone else will minimize the worry: “children get sick all of the time, not a big deal.” And it is a big deal to me!!!! You know? when Dh came to the USA, (like many of his friends — no matter at what age they came) he had no problem adjusting to food, water, etc. So, he thinks that it will be the same for our baby. But, i think that this is a good reason to go when I am exclusively nursing. Maybe no one will try to feed the baby scrumptious food, which we would unsuccessfully decline and maybe a problem occur afterwords. and, I do admit that I do *want* to taste all of the street food, in all of its delicious glory. i just know that what might be good on the tongue, might not be good in the stomach. And, maybe there are other things that I have not even thought about. Please share your experiences of traveling with an infant. DH does live in RawalPindi (use to be Lahore) so not in a village. But, he his family is not super rich/wealthy either. Actually, I don’t know their money situation – who discusses money, anyway? But, I know; they are not in poverty. They have one American Style bathroom. They have a small brick house with marble floors. His father has a business. They have someone to help with laundry, but no other servants; DH’s mother cooks/cleans/does everything. And, they probably will be spending large amounts on Sil’s wedding. But, I am not sure how much precaution to take. And, I am not trying to offend DH with another conversation. I tread lightly because I understand that loyalty is quite prevalent when talking about family and country. I am not trying to degrade Pakistan or say that his family does not know how to take care of children or that they are unsafe. But, we all know that there are different values, sometimes. Heck, there are different values within my own family. I just feel more able to express my opinion with my own family. Of course, it helps that there are no language/cultural barriers. Actually, DH did say that if we go during the wedding time, there will be too many people wanting to touch and pick up the baby. That is just too many germs. I suggested “hand sanitizer,” (the alcohol free kind of course). He laughed! (point taken) DH is more specific about contact with animals than I am. I am more fervent about car seats than he. I want to be respectful. But, I think that I will be seen as a hypochondriac on some issues, you know? And, maybe on others, I will be seen as “too lax.” Like with the hair cutting thing.
Suggestions?

family expectations: the objective view

April 1, 2011

everyone talks about the added stress put on women when they meet their southAsian in-laws. This is a challenging issue and I am not trying to minimize any experience of any woman. In fact, as I plan my trip to Pakistan, I know that it is quite possible that I will be in the throws (all emotions included) of a similar situation. Yet, I am trying to be objective!
I do need to point out that there are certain pressures on the southAsian men that they might not otherwise have, had they married a southAsian woman and lived in their native country.
1. Financial responsibility. DH’s brother was married about two months after we got married. His family’s wealth is his own. N’s bride, N2, came to live within a family structure of a mil and fil and N’s younger sister. And, this, they admit, is a small family according to the members who could be present. In any case, N2 has yet to make a meal by herself, do a load of laundry or take note of the family finances. N, himself has never read his electric bill, haggled with AT&T over phone charges, searched for the best bargain for a specific product, contemplated the financial consequences of a purchase, reconciled receipts with his bank statement, filled out “head of household tax forms,” analyzed Health and life insurance plans, or comprehended and absorbed the specific tax deductions that are taken from the paycheck every two weeks. These activities and the worries that seem to accompany him has eluded N and is certainly not a part of his marriage experience. Yet, DH and I have to take on these responsibilities. These tasks are not optional and failure to take them seriously will have swift and heavy consequences. In addition, he has to deal with landlords, immigration, immigration lawyers and other government entities, filling out more forms in one week than he has ever had to do for his entire life.
2. DH must go to work everyday and he must be prompt. He also must arrange transportation. OK, now, of course, the transportation arranging part is not his responsibility alone. But, N’s work schedule is fluid and much more forgiving. Some of this is because N works for his father, so the work environment can be much more relaxed. N does not have to worry about time schedules or work policies.
3. There are certain cultural norms concerning expressions of LOVE and maintaining the relationship. This might not be cultural, but then again, who knows. I ask DH one day: “Did your Father ever bring your Mother flowers?” “did they ever want “date night” or some time for themselves?” “What about Valentine’s Day?” To DH and many of his friends and family, marriage maintenance is ridiculous. Sure, husbands should bring a gift to the wife upon return of their travels. But, in many cases, they didn’t date before the marriage, why would they do such things after? Furthermore, these “couples quizzes,” and “relationship checklists,” are just “Bukwas,” – “nonsense.” Early in our relationship, I wanted to subject DH to any “couples quiz,” that I could find and compare our answers. After twice indulging me (and he felt that he was being quite compliant) , DH put his foot down and committed never to do another. I guess, there is no “newlywed game” for us, although I would find it quite fun. In a strange turn of events, “preparing for our immigration interview” is working quite nicely as a stand-in for a “Couple’s quiz.” It does seem that the public wants to know all about your relationship and they want to evaluate it against their preconceived notions of what they feel a relationship should be.
4. In addition to DH’s work, my family (and I) expect him to pitch in with the housework. I admit that my family (like most Americans) sometimes scrutinize men’s (particularly SouthAsian men’s) actions to make sure that they are treating their women with respect and giving their 50% to the relationship. To some women, Not including myself in this statement, equity and equality are synonomous terms. Sometimes Americans (even Americans who are not close to our family) feel the need to sternly advise dh to cook, clean and sometimes (give her everything she wants). They are already under the assumption that he does not do these things and he is berated for what they assume he does not do. Is their any parcel of truth in their assumption? Sure. But, that is for he and I to work out. Before I started work, my mother would routinely ask me three questions.
A. Is he still working? My sister, the successful nurse who is going back to get her Masters Degree (even though she is pulling down a serious chunk of change, already) has four children from the ages 6-12 and a husband who finds working at home much more appealing than putting his degree to use; And my younger blue collar working sister who finds working a necessity (yet, is finally attending a technical college to get an office job) and who has four children from ages 16-3 and a husband who won’t remain employed for more than three months at a time; both must be the breadwinners of their family. Both husbands have the same first name and both husbands also inhail illegal substances which seems to enhance their laziness. My sisters are more alike then either of them want to admit, but I keep silent on this one. My mother was, herself, employed for most of her life either as a factory worker or a truck driver. For the most part, she doesn’t respect those who are able to work, but choose not to do so… … especially when they have a family to support.
B. Who’s doing the cooking and cleaning? Before I started working, my mother would constantly remind me that it was my duty to have everything in tiptop shape for Dh because he was working. Now that I, also, have a job,, she asks: “Is he cooking?” “Is he cleaning?” “What is HE doing to help?” My mother likes to be the boss, so she almost orders me to “make him cook and clean.” Actually, DH is helping out. I am certainly not giving him any excuses. But, since he is male, it does feel foreign for him to “consistently” do housework. I say “consistently,” because his father will cook and clean “occasionally.” But, certainly not on a regular basis. And, since he is blind, he feels like he isn’t sure what is involved in such tasks and these tasks just seem daunting. Admittedly, none of his blind male friends (especially Pakistani blind males – even if they do live in London) do any type of housework at all. Yet, he is learning to do more and more around the house. The key is that “we” work together. And, we both benefit when the housework is finished quickly. But, I do recognize that DH has pressure that his other blind friends don’t even experience. Our marriage and situation provokes DH to be responsible in ways that his Pakistani counterparts (brother or friends) are oblivious to and if they do understand such responsibilities, it will be much later in their marriage.
C. Are you pregnant? …. … different topic entirely, but while both of our mothers might request this particular piece of information on an equally frequent basis, their desired responses to this specific question are polar opposites. As of the last conversation, my mother has been quite content (almost gitty) with my routinely accurate response. It has only been six months, hardly enough time for DH’s mother to claim “patience” as a long standing virtue. Yet, it could happen.

I’m not asking you to ride the pity wagon for DH. I am just reminding everyone that when two different cultures come together, there are bound to be adjustments made from both individuals. Furthermore, family members who are firmly planted in either culture have expectations that feel strange to the spouse and in some cases seem harsh or frivolace.

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!!

Hear the Call of III (International Interfaith Initiative)

January 25, 2011

For the last year, I had tried to find interfaith resources and people in interfaith marriages. I found a wonderful group of Muslim/Christian couples. The problem is that their meetings are in Southall, London. Obviously, that is not going to work. I have written on interfaith issues in previous posts and if I was more technically savvy like most of you, I would point you to their links. SORRY! I just don’t know how! And, dh is not interested. (smile)
I even thought about starting a “meetup group” or something similar for
‘intercultural’ couples. This came from a desire for both of us to feel strong in our faith. I wanted a place where we could unabashedly explore and express our faith with others who held similar desires, yet were open to their partner’s faith. But, I had to “find” the couples, first.
There were a few problems with finding interfaith couples that live in Indianapolis or the surrounding areas.
I could not find any interfaith couples at all. Now, I found the Dovetail magazine which talked about interfaith families. But, there was no ‘interfaith family’ in Indiana that I could talk with. And, even if there were: it is most likely one might be catholic or agnostic or atheist. In this case, they don’t have the same challenges as a Muslim and a Christian might have. I have also discovered that
1. just because one is a part of a minority faith, does not necessarily mean that they will accept others from less prominent faiths. Now, I say this, but I know that there are more than six million Muslims (maybe 8 million, my reporting might be off; but at least, six), in the USA. [So, i guess “minority faith status” might be kind of relative], Yet, as I have reported, imran and I have not made lasting connections with either the people at a mosque or at a church. Is some of this disconnectedness due to our status as an “interfaith family?” I don’t have enough experiences with mosque going individuals to make a definitive guess, but I do know that in the case of church going people, the word “interfaith,” is rarely spoken and definitely somehow not applied to Christian/Muslim couples.
2. this is the Midwest, people don’t really like to talk about their faith, unless they are certain that they will be supported. Interfaith is kind of a taboo subject.
3. did I mention that we have trouble with transportation? so searching the state is just not an option for us.
4. ‘faith’ is so subjective. What might be important to me in my faith, might not be as important to you in yours.
5. We are talking about “Muslim” here. At best, his religion is ignored and at worst, it is criticized.
So, here we sit!
And, when Rev Michael and Barb Slater from editors of the “Together magazine and who are CoChairs of the National Association of InterChurch and Interfaith Families
http://www.NAIIFOnline.org
Posted a desire for a Muslim/Christian couple to join the board, I was thrilled.
Now, of course, DH and I are newly married, so I did not suggest us, specifically. But, the thought of another couple bringing their wisdom to bear on such a sensitive subject and the fact that they actually were open to such a Christian/Muslim couple frankly, thrills me to no end. Before now, they had focused more on varying cultures and traditions within more similar faiths. Some will argue that Christianity and Islam are similar, but let’s not get into that debate.
And, to my Hindu, Buddhist and other faith friends (I can’t spell sorry), I realize that, as of yet, Hinduism and other such faiths are not included. I am not sure of the reason, but as of now, the farthest I have seen “interfaith initiatives” go is to Judiism.
So, here’s my Q:
Is there any interfaith couple “Specifically Muslim/Christian,” who would be willing to serve on their board? I have just received information about membership and specifically board membership. We (due to our zealousness concerning interfaith issues and probably because they don’t know any other Muslim/christian couple [passionate or not]), have been extended an invitation to be a board couple. It sounds quite intriguing (to me) and not too burdensome (to DH). yet, I still wonder if “we” are “qualified” to do so.
Whether it be “US” or “SOMEONE ELSE,” , this is an opportunity for the Christian/Muslim couple to be heard. Hey, why not throw a bit of culture (Pakistani) and disability (Blindness) into the mix. I am all for diversity. And it would be a great learning experience and opportunity for us! But, honestly, I admit that another couple might be more qualified for the position and might do a better job at being an effective mouthpiece to show the positive side of an interfaith(Christian/Muslim) marriage, present an objective viewpoint concerning the struggles that an interfaith family faces and give suggestions and tips for those contemplating such an endeavor. They also might be able to dispell the myth of the spiritually stunted confused child; similar to the stereotypes you hear about when people talk about bicultural or multicultural or biracial children. The myth lives on despite the many who can prove its obsurdity!
… …. …
And, just as I was about to post this, DH sends me an email detailing plans from the International Interfaith Initiative to host some seminars at our Indiana Interchurch Center.
What????
We have an Indiana Interchurch Center?
There are five upcoming events in Februrary, alone. Hmmm, maybe February is “interfaith month,” which also happens to be the month in which DH has a birthday. (smile) He received this information from a Muslim email list that he belongs to. It seems that the members of the Muslim Email listserv are a bit more open to interfaith initiatives than their Christian counterparts. Now, I am under no illusions. “interfaith,” does not always mean “interfaith families.” And, I remember how much “interfaith dialog,” and “interfaith celebrating,” went on at the last “interfaith event” that was held close to the Thanksgiving holiday. But, it is a start!

Opening Pandora’s box!

January 10, 2011

Opening Pandora’s box:
Oh, the treasures within!
Imran got me Pandora for the computer!!!
“Music is the universal language of mankind,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Now, I can find the songs that I want and listen to whatever station. It is kind of like xm radio: but more stations are created and I did find that they play Adnan Sami, many instrumental bansuri, harp, sitar and tabla compositions. Music need not always have words to move me – (or Imran either, (which was one of many wonderful discoveries). Victor Hugo says: “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
. And, at least the part of Pandora that I interface with is accessible!!!

I was pleasantly surprised when Imran began remembering and actually “LIKING” the songs. He was singing and enjoying the music. “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything,” — Plato.
Imran remarks:
“This was performed in the 1970’s.”
“I remember when the call to prayer was accompanied by drums in the street.”
“Be patient, many times the tabla does not start until the song is at least 20-25% finished and with these songs, it could be 5 or 10 minutes into the song.”
“Oh wow! That was beautiful the way they put that together – combining an eloquent blend of Urdu and Punjabi — sometimes, there is no English equivalent for Urdu or Punjabi… …. I just can’t explain the poetry here.”
In addition to what I discovered about my melodious DH (yes, he can actually carry a tune), , I learned many wonderful things like:
A “Rag”, ( is not an upbeat song of the 1920’s played by a piano and famous for such artists as Scott Jopplin. Rags, Ghazals, Bollywood and Bankra; they are all distinguishable types of music. The Dhol (called Tol in Punjabi) and the Dholki will soon be obsolete. [this makes me want to purchase one – or two, quite quickly so I can have a piece of music history and hope that it does not die out completely]. Punjabis seem to have music that is rich with beats and tend to kind of follow the structure of American music where there are verses and a chorus or refrain. (unlike ghazals or Rags). and these songs have a whole “choir” (sometimes of men only and sometimes of both men and women) sing the refrain – sometimes in unison and sometimes in harmony. The music of the Punjab is less serious and more fun loving. And, they dance! Of course, not gender mixing, but they still dance. I wonder if my stiff old blind body could learn a dance or two. (smile)
“Mohjan hee mohjan,” – “Let’s have some fun,” – [roughly translated].
Imran knows lots more about music than he let on. He even admitted that he took “beginning Tabla lessons.” “Sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni, sa,” is “Do ray me fa so la ti do.” “Jaysay box ko Pandora, aapnay dil ki kitab kholay.”
“just like Pandora’s box, our hearts opened like a book.” Or something like that. We heard it in a song and I want to remember it, so am trying to write it here so that I can remember.
I like the bansuris and the tabla players and the Punjabi song “Dil lagia dil,” (she has my heart) stuck in my head for a while. Hmmm, could I change it to “dil laga dil?” maybe.
I ask about female Tabla players and female Bansuri players. …. “Only in the US,” is the general response. He says: “It is just not a feminine thing to do.” And “this is not something that inspires familial pride for their daughters.” So, when I feel like reaffirming my independence, I always make reference to learning the play the tabla. But, today, that dream has been shattered. Tabla players sit on their heels with their legs tucked under them while playing. …. Showing my age: I can’t even get in that position, much less hold it for hours on end. DH is quite comfortable sitting on the floor (at least, as comfortable as) sitting in a chair. It feels “normal” to him somehow. And, even when he does sit in a chair, he still likes to sit cross-legged; which he can do for hours at a time. Obviously, he needs no yoga lessons. Amazing, we call this position “Indian Style,” and I always thought that it was for the Native American Indians. But, now I know differently. (smile)
Anyway, back on topic, We spent hours listening to music, DH translating, me laughing when I recognized an English word:
“Did he just say love you love you love you?”
“Wait, That sounded like “boom boom,” Where does that fit into the song?” [belly laugh because I noticed]. “ Why can’t I remember those most eloquent Urdu phrases that announces one’s undying affection and the strength of one’s love????
“Music fills the infinite between two souls,”
— Rabindranath Tagore
NOTE: Another discovery — Sometimes Indian&Pakistani artists put English words and phrases into the song that (if you know English) sound silly. I guess they think that Pakistanis won’t know the difference.
Sonu Nigam, an artist that I like, and one that sings bollywood selections; had a song where he said: “me love you, too” all the way through it… … several times. I know that he has performed here in the states. If I was more technically savvy, I would post a link to his performance and the publicity that it generated. He was performing around the time that Michael Jackson passed away. Jermaine Jackson was at the concert and Sonu Nigam gave a tribute to Michael Jackson, as well as practically hauled Jermain up on stage for a duet; which, by the way, was never accomplished. Finally, Jermaine faded back into the crowd. It was quite uncomfortable for Jermaine and I don’t think that Sonu understood the situation. But, my point is that Sonu nigam does know English well enough to know that you can’t say “me love you, too.” He just thought that no one would notice!

Any gift that touches the heart and soul of even the most unintentional listener gets a “thumbs up,” in my book.
“If music be the food of love, play on,” — William Shakespeare

adjusting expectations

November 27, 2010

When I heard: “interfaith celebration,” I was excited. Imran had gotten a message from a Muslim email mailing list and when he passed it on to me, I was definitely thrilled that such an opportunity was happening righht here in our city. My mind was swirling with possible scenarios.
I wondered if there would be a good mixture of Muslims and
Christians(of varying faiths) and Jewish people and Hindus ….etc? Would the dinner have meat and if so, would it be Halal? Would the people be open and want to meet others of differing faiths? Would the speeches be interwoven together? Would the clergy support one another? What type of music would be presented? Would the prayers be
“interfaith,” as well? … … Just too many questions!

The Interfaith celebration was Wednesday, the day before
Thanksgiving. We did not get much information. We found a Pakistani family who said that they would take us. Their daughter had come down with food poisoning, so they would not be able to bring us home. Now, I was worried about going. But, Imran said that we would find someone to take us home, so it would be ok. Still, I was apprehensive. But, Imran knows me well. Had we not gone, I would still be wondering what we missed and my imagination would run wild.
The night was wet and a bit cold. It had been raining for a good while. Thanks to the Muslim family that took us, We finally got there. We missed the call to prayer, the reading from the Quran and the Rabbi’s message. When we came in, there were a couple of speakers intermingled with a few songs. But, Imran and I had no program. We did not know who was speaking and which faiths they represented. The person who drove us had to leave because her daughter was sick. The person who helped us find a seat was an usher/greeter, so he was not able to sit with us.
We listened to the music. Unfortunately, I did not know any of the hymns being sung. That also was disappointing. I noted that Imran took my hand during the songs and prayer. This is always a source of comfort and reassurance. I remembered that I thought that had he been closer in the Mosque, I might have wanted to reach for the same comfort. There was a call for money, as the presbyterian church that held this celebration, also supports interfaith hunger initiatives/ both in Kenya and here in Indianapolis. I gave some change. I had to jingle some change and kind of display it to make sure that the collection plate is passed to me. That is our way (a blind person’s way) of letting people know that you do intend to put something in the collection plate. Otherwise, people will not pass you the plate. There are two reasons:
1. They may just assume that WE, as blind persons, have nothing to contribute. 2. They may not want to make us feel uncomfortable by passing us the plate, if we truly have nothing to give. It does put one on the spot. Usually, a sighted person can wave it away if they have nothing to contribute. But, with a blind person, there has to be some conversation.
After the service, I had to strike up a conversation with a woman behind me. She was polite, but not too personable. (Was it the blind thing; or the obvious intercultural couple thing)? There was a small reception afterwords while they served cookies and drinks. We met the pastor of the church briefly.
we did find someone to take us home. It was raining when we got home. The conversation did not go past the stage of small talk and it took our drivers (a father and son) a while to get warmed up. But, I am glad that I went. I realize that this is only their second attempt at such an event. I have some suggestions, though. And, if they don’t listen, maybe I will pitch them to the mosque who has hopes of hosting something similar when they get the space.
Suggestions for planning an interfaith event:
1. provide a united front. All of the clergy should join together both at the beginning and end of the service to show unity and genuine companionship.
2. Allow each faith to have an important part of the planning and time in the service.
3. Whenever a speaker gets up to speak, announce again who you are, where you are from, and give a small welcome/introduction message. It would also be polite to thank the speaker who spoke before you.
4. Whenever the choir gets up to do a song, announce who they are, where they are from and the selections that they will be singing. (It was not very disability friendly). The songs were in a hymnbook, but I did not know the words or who was speaking. They didn’t even tell us when to kneel, sit or stand. So, sometimes, we felt quite odd because we weren’t sure what people were doing…. and, we did not want to get into someone else’s space by standing/sitting too close as to know what their body was doing. Sighted people [not trying to generalize, here] seem to not have a problem with being the only few people in a row and seem to require lots of space between them and the next group; especially if that next group is a group of strangers.
5. Imran and I had to find people to help us. People did not come up to us and introduce themselves. It was obvious that we were new. But, all around us, we heard people greeting old friends and talking with people about: “/What are you going to do tomorrow? Want to come over?”
6,. Share a meal together. If you can’t share a meal or don’t feel comfortable consuming so much food when you are trying to fund raise for people who are hungry: then, have snacks, but let each church/mosque/synagogue/temple bring some snacks from people in their congregation. And, have them help serve it. this would also give people a chance to mingle with other faiths, more.
7. The Imam did not stay for long. Imran wanted to talk with him. It really did not seem like people were that desirous of forming new friendships or getting to know those outside of their own clique. To be honest, it felt as “interfaith” was just something to talk about. It did not seem that people really wanted to “mingle” with those of other faiths. When I mentioned to the family behind me that we were in an Interfaith marriage, the response was to change the subject.
Yet, the eternal optimist says that it is a start. And: I did hear some good prayers and some good songs and, at least we got out and were introduced to more of the community. We had a pleasant
conversation with the Pakistani family who took us to the celebration. And, just before we were dropped off, the atmosphere began to warm up. Who knows. And, now, at least, I know what this celebration is and can give suggestions on how to make it better.
We went to see my father on Saturday. My father, was at first, kind of chilly. And, I was a bit disgusted. The meat was ham. I think that my father was a bit put off because Imran did not eat Turkey, either. The first time, he did eat the turkey out of politeness. But, he just is not a fan of turkey. I keep saying,” Chicken or fish!”
But, I thought ahead and made some chicken patties. My father even let me cook on his stove without any hastle which is not normal because he usually is a bit nervous when I cook on a gas stove(blind thing). And, no one put up the three small barking dogs. Actually, they did at first, but as the evening wore on, the rules became less strengent until the little dogs and puppy were sitting on the kitchen chairs. I couldn’t believe that they kept letting them out of the room and just roam around. I felt as if I had to be a shield to make sure that they did not get to Imran. And, I shouldn’t have had to do this. They should have been more respectful. I kept mentioning it, but it fell on deaf ears.
My older sister’s children argue incessantly. I kept thinking: “At this rate, Imran will never want children.”
The eternal optimist says that things went well. My older sister opened up a bit more (she had virtually no one else to talk to) and he says that things will get better and better as we continue to see family. Besides, the optimist had some conversations concerning insurance and was able to engage my sister and father in a few topics. And, I got to see Kyler. I often feel like I don’t see him enough. So, all in all, I was glad that we went.

So what do the two visits have in common? Well, if everything is not planned out in advance, sometimes, I am a bit apprehensive. But, the Optimist (usually, not all the time) finds the good, the hope, the things that make outings worth while. And, I must admit that he is a bit more flexible than I am. He finds something to eat and does not say a word when family is so obviously pork centered. (two types of cheeseball with ham, as well as a whole cooked ham and sometimes even bacon in the veggies). And, he had to put up with barking growling territorial yappers. I have to admit that my father’s dogs are…. …. Well, …. …. Not well behaved! We have not even discussed how their political views are different than ours, etc. Yet, Imran goes and finds the good. This reminds me that I should not complain if someone has a problem taking my dog in their car. I need to be more flexible, sometimes!

I want to say that it is not that I don’t like going places. In fact, I want to go and to socialize. But, I do get upset when people don’t observe and respect other people’s differences. But, the Optimist just seems to forget the offense quite easily.
Hmm, I could be a bit less rigid and relax. Point taken.

humari shaadi kahani (1)

November 27, 2010

Imran and I married on September 24, 2010.
We had a courthouse wedding. His sister and friend S came and my sister and her soon to be husband (although they didn’t know it then, they would decide to marry at their respective courthouse a week later) also came. I think that there are pics on facebook. Check out my facebook page because I have a hard time inserting pictures and such into my blog. This is why it probably looks kind of plain, etc. I am not sure which pic is which, so I will wait for others to post them for me and hopefully, they will label them also. But, sorry pics don’t accompany this post.
(note: if/when I ever go to Pakistan, I think that I am going to have to HIRE someone just to take pics) [smile].

First, I had to lay to rest some dreams. I must admit that I am a dreamer. I already think about what will happen when I go to Pakistan. I conjure up many different situations in my mind. Although, I know that these are purely hypothetical and most definitely in my fantasy. I just think too much.
My dream wedding begins on a clear warm day. We marry in a church where I found a commited clergy to officiate. The Nikka is right before the wedding in a mosque of his choosing. My father and family goes to the mosque and we have Muslim friends, also. The horse and carriage will pick us up at the mosque and take us to the church. Now, we have incorporated the white horse concept into our own wedding. OK, that sounds extravagant. But, we have to get from one place to another and I am trying to incorporate both traditions into one ceremony. Why not. It is my dream, after all. (smile)
Sure, why not mendi? I think that the others in my bridal party will actually like it and it will feel festive: even if I can’t see the colors. And, hey, I want one of those drums … … (Can’t remember off the top of my head the name of the drum) that the women play. The music and decorations are a tasteful blend of American and Pakistani. Maybe: a tabla player as percussion to some piano selections or selections from both a brass quartet as well as a bansuri. It is not a huge wedding, but our friends and family are there. I like the roses and Jasmine and other flowers from Pakistan blended with lillies and American flowers. I am not a “color person,” but Dominika or someone would help me coordinate. I have succeeded in finding a modest American dress with a Pakistani veil. I (WE) pronounce our vows in both English and Urdu. (I have already written my vows). We have a reception with Pakistani food and American food.
I never did like the separation of the bride and the groom’s relatives. So, all would sit and eat together.
We pass out favors of small cloth bags: (one side with an American flag and the other has an embroidered Pakistani flag on it). The small bags have a drawstring and inside is a blend of Pakistani nuts and candy and American candy. Each bag will have supari and dark chocolate.
OK, dark chocolate is not “American,” But, it is my favorite. And, the bag should remind people of Imran and I. I don’t necessarily like supari. I thought about the chilli millies. But, I found that I like shahi Maywa and kabli maywa and thought about stuffed dates. And, we could put print “humari shaadi kahani,”(or something similar) on one side and the braille embroidered equivalent on the other.
I do like to take pictures, just as mementos and to show others. The ceremony and reception will be video taped. This is just in case his family can’t come. This is a sketch with different variations, as I think of them.
Back to reality:
there are so many challenges. Finding clergy to do the ceremony posed a huge problem. Then, we weren’t sure where to have the ceremony. Maybe we should have it at a nutral place: instead of at a church. Besides, many churches have a bit of a problem with marrying a Muslim to a Christian.
Then, there was the issue of money! Should we spend so much on a wedding ceremony, or should we save for us to go to Pakistan to meet his family. Well, with all of this: besides the fact that there were still those who weren’t supportive, the stress was immense. it is very difficult to blend two cultures. His family is not here. My family still has reservations. Friends still have reservations as well. Actually, the only ones who are a bit more understanding were his Muslim friends who are in wisconsin.
In the end, I love Imran and he me. We knew that we wanted to be together. He has a job here (so, even if I don’t) we can still pay the bills. It made no sense for him to rent an apartment for six months until we figured things out. With transportation and the difficulties from moving from one place to another, etc; it was just less stressful and easier to have the courthouse wedding now. We could still, if we both wanted, have a ceremony later: when family and others were 1. around and 2. more accepting. And, it would give us some time to plan a “waleema,” where we might just take a trip to Chicago or Milwaukee. I enjoyed our small courthouse wedding. My sister and her (now) husband came and was there for me. Hina and S was also there. Hina and S stayed the weekend. I dressed in the outfit that Imran bought me. I made him dress nicely in American clothes. If I had the bangles, I would have worn them. They were given to me a bit later from a dear friend as a wedding gift. But, I did find a necklace and looked quite nice in my outfit. Imran and I filled out lots of forms. We talked about it and I decided to change my name. It will be difficult for my family to get use to: but my last name is now “Ahmed.” The good news is now I am an “A.”
It took us four hours to actually get married. I thought beforehand and could not think of one thing to do that would make it a bit more special. Well, I thought of saying somethings in Urdu to him, during the ceremony. Actually, truth be told, I practiced over and over. But, I am more shy than ever to speak it especially in front of others such as his sister and S. I was afraid to get something wrong. In hindsight, I should have. In any case, the judge was almost bubly. She did help us relax and also feel special. We were the sixth couple to marry. We spent five hours at the courthouse before being pronounced “man and Wife.” We spent another hour and a half enjoying company and a meal.
My sister had to get back to her own family, so we ate at “golden Chorale,” My sister’s husband was our driver since Imran, Hina, S and I are all blind. Actually, her husband is blind in one eye. He was playing with a stick, when he was small and the stick pierced his eye. He has an artificial eye. He has normal sight in the other eye, so he can drive with no problem.
Anyway, we ate where everyone could find their favorites. From Hina’s favorite of fried fish to Nikki’s meatloaf; everyone enjoyed themselves. Then, we went home and could finally say that we are husband and wife. We felt at peace knowing that now we are together as close as two can be.
Imran and I didn’t really have a honeymoon. The next day, he had to work at the vision expo and we all (Hina, Imran, S and I) went after a breakfast of potatoes and eggs. We also had an unpleasant experience with Open door (Paratransit) when they had record of my ride scheduling, but not Imran’s. This would be the first of many challenges with paratransit. Soon, we were all on our way.
We are talking about having a ceremony in June or July. We would like to find a way to blend our cultures together in a ceremony. Hopefully DJ will be able to get leave from Japan and Imran’s family will come, also. Although, I do realize that there will be lots of stress in the planning. And, honestly, that “stress” and “feeling green with fear,” and the reality that I was alone in the planning; was one of the reasons that I opted for the courthouse wedding. But, his parents might come and it would be nice to have a bit of a ceremony/celebration…. …. Hmmm, who can help me plan a small intercultural wedding on a very tight budget? (which will include taking and posting pics)

A meetup

November 23, 2010

Sunday I was so excited.
Another couple had planned to meet us for conversation and shopping.
WOOHOO, A MEETUP!”
OK, maybe most people don’t meet over shopping.
But, we can talk about food, good bargains and culture; all at the same time. Imran was a bit apprehensive.
(because it was the women who initiated the meetup) “you know her — from a blog?”
“How safe is that?”

and I add:
“So, how did we meet?”

Just to spare the reader who does not want to go to the beginning, Imran and I met when I posted a “braille books to give away,” advertisement on a site and he responded from Pakistan. He wanted the braille books because he was forever thinking about starting a braille library in Pakistan. this would be Pakistan’s first.
So, we met…. …. on the internet!

Imran and I got to the Costco early. We found the tables, the bathrooms and the fire exit.
We had not been to Costco. Shopping is a big deal for us because we have to have someone assist us.
I have thought about trying Peapod (which has recently decided to deliver to Indianapolis), but I think that it is still kind of expensive.
the problem with a “shopper’s assistant,” is that they rarely know what a paratha is (much less if I am getting a good deal on them); they usually don’t have a lot of time; and I still have to carry the food home.

So we met and ate a bit first. We decided on a cheese pizza. I must admit, it was piled with cheese, a bit greasy, but pretty good!
Imran and the male began a conversation right away. I mean, almost instantly…..
and all that “We don’t even know them,” for nothing! the fun thing about shopping is that (if someone is flexible — and I am not saying that Imran was that flexible), you can find things that might taste good that “he” has not had before. then, I can find things that I have not had before. It is a cornocopia of new food to experience. Oh, he use to hate cheese, but finds (now) that he likes the habanero cheese. (Thanks for helping us find that one).
We love finding new favorites.

I think that we bought as much as they did — although Imran said that we wouldn’t buy **anything the first time.
And, we women realize that we have lots in common. Some of our family dynamics are similar, our professions are similar and our outlooks are similar. It was easy and we laughed right off the bat.
also, I believe that we were both excited about the meetup and enjoyed the day. yes, even guys enjoy shopping if there is an ample amount of electronics to catch their eye.
It is nice and affirming to know that you can just be comfortable with another couple. you don’t have to explain:
“Chillie is a kind of pepper, not a dish,”
“Since Imran is from Pakistan, he is use to….”
or
“Being an American, I like ….”
And, our blindness, the dog, our age,
none of that posed any difficulties. So, when Imran later asked: “Hey, would you like to check out a Temple for a great spiritual experience,” I knew that he indeed enjoyed the meettup. the guys even talked about cricket without challenging one another to some type of competition: — (these are men from Pakistan and India).(smile) I think it took them minutes to get to cricket and only after they talked about technology.
It was certainly worth the ninety minute treck from the East side to the West side of the city.
We want to thank the couple for helping us shop.
Sometimes, it is not easy to do with blind people who want to know everything.
But, we had a good time doing it.

We had a wonderful day; came home and cooked a wonderful meal and even Imran said that “it was a good day!”
WOOHOO!
I am glad to meet other couples and brim with excitement knowing that “we are, after all,” (as Imran pointed out today– “thanks to God)” making our own community of couples that are like our family. and, when our family (I guess, it is really my family) realizes that we are succeeding, they will even want to be closer.
that is just the way it is.
and, we can find friends who share our experiences and whom we can bond with (Even in Indianapolis).
And, Imran just has to remind me that I was worried for Nothing. He knew that if he prayed and if I prayed that God would provide the friends and family that we would need.
He likes being right.
I must admit, I like him being right, too.

My first Eid

November 20, 2010

I keep writing:
“My first ….”
That is a good thing, because when you get as old as I am, you want to continue to have “firsts.”
(smile)

Before we get to the eid post:
“I am a proud member of the Desi web ring.”
the only problem is that now, I can’t find the “new post,” links or the “manage my blogs” options.
Where are the blind bloggers to help???
for now,
I’ll email my blog posts in and then try to go to wordpress and edit them so they don’t have lots of space in between the lines , etc. My post about my wedding is on the other computer and it is
temporarily out of commission, so I thought that I would go on and write about my first Eid; before I lost some of the details. I wish that I had a couple of pictures, but here it is.
I will post about my marriage. It will just take some time because the post — or most of it, is on a nonworking computer.
Imran had gotten off of work to attend Eid here in Indianapolis. This was my first Eid and his first Eid in Indianapolis. He found someone who would take us to Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which is about 25miles away. I found someone to watch the dog. Actually, jackie, my friend that I have talked about before, said that she would watch Fallbrook.
I can hear all of my advocacy friends saying that “dogs are allowed in any places of worship and should be permitted in a mosque.” You are right legally. I have every legal right to take my dog in a mosque and they can’t stop me. they might try temporarily, but they would receive much media attention and a call to the police department. But, I was more concerned about our inclusion than my rights. We were already new, we are blind and Imran wanted to make contacts and friends. A large dog would not help the process. sure, it might, if we were in a church where everyone wants to pet the dog. But, we were in a diverse environment where “some people” would be frightened of the dog. And, many feel that a dog is unclean and should not be in a mosque. So, out of respect, I left him with a dog sitting family.

Imran thought about wearing Pakistani clothes, but wore a suit and tie instead. I would have been just fine with him wearing Pakistani clothes, but he didn’t know which were his best to wear. So, I thought that “if” he was going to wear American clothes, he might as well look nice!
I could not find my hijab. OK, I hear you! I should actually have more than one. I only have one because hina gave it to me. But, I can’t find it. And, I could not find one single scarf. So, I put my hair up and had to go “uncovered.” I recall reading Azadeh Moaveni’s “Lipstick Jihad,” where her Aunt walked through the streets of Iran without her hijab on. Azadeh likened it to walking down the street with an uncovered breast. Now, we were still in America. But, I felt that everyone would think that I was totally disrespectful for not wearing a head covering, especially on Eid at the prominent ISNA. I wondered if they would stare and comment to their siblings and children….So, I went through the first part of our day trying not to be conspicuous, yet knowing that I was.
I wore a red sweater that was a half turtle-neck. My black skirt was above my ankles, but I had on high-calf length boots. And, my glory was my Bangles that I got from a friend, Saima. She gave them to me as a wedding gift. I was excited to finally get to wear them. And, they were commented upon by Auntie and some of the other women. I was excited to tell the story of my friend and how I got them.

For anyone who does not know, ISNA is rich with diversity. I was not; and just never think much about being; the only white person or american person. I already know that most likely, I am the only blind person (well, now, accept for Imran). Blindness usually overshadows any other characteristic of difference, anyway.

We were picked up by an Indian couple. Later their University daughter would be my interpreter and conversational companion during gender segregated activities. I appreciated and enjoyed the company. I tend to be a spectator or observer in most activities. Rarely am i actually “included.” Usually, I observe and make my own analytical commentary (in my mind, of course) about the situation. This is for two reasons: 1. most of the time, people don’t know what to do with me. I have went to holidays with family, college and church socials and other events and most often, my participation is spiratic. So, I get to observe. 2. I am a bit analytical, as a result of childhood observing. 3. I don’t like drawing attention to myself and/or being the center of attention. Many times, I don’t necessarily want to “blend into the background,” but I do want to “blend with others.” There is a difference. In the former, you are hoping not to be seen at all. In the latter, you are hoping to be part of the group; enjoying as others enjoy. I thought that I would observe Imran enjoying Eid… … or maybe the children enjoying Eid.
But, University Girl did help me feel a “part” of the celebration and not just an “ethnographer.”

I was quite excited to experience Eid with Imran. Especially, since we could forego the “sacrificing a goat,” thing. I am not sure that I have the stomach to witness that much sacrificing of animals… … the sounds, the smells, that might just be too much for me! I don’t know. But, I was glad that we weren’t a part of that specific Eid tradition, yet!

Ok, the Indian couple were late in picking us up and we got to the prayer late. There was also construction and that didn’t help any.

the Khudba (Wait, did I spell that right???) was about using Islamic diversity to bond together. He spoke passionately (quite passionately) about not having a Palestinian mosque, Sudanese mosque, Pakistani mosque, Egyptian Mosque and African-American mosque. He implored Muslims to help grow Islam by leaving those distinctions behind. he, (the man who gave the Khudba — and whose name I don’t remember — please forgive me), told a story where Bilal, an African Muslim (who was a slave and one of the first converts) was castigated by another Muslim. the prophet Muhammed (pbuh) told the chastizer that he had not left the age of ignorance. the man felt so guilty that he lay his face on the ground to be stomped on for his offense. Of course, Bilal did not do this. He, the offender, was forgiven. For any Muslim, if I have gotten any part of the story incorrect, please know that this is how it was told or how I understood it. I may have missed something. Imran tried to fill in some of the blanks when Arabic was used. but, that was after the celebration and when we were home. I am sure that you realize that I can’t remember the offender’s name, either. (smile)
for me, the message was not only about putting aside color, cast, class and national distinctions; but also about forgiveness and asking for forgiveness when we have wronged a brother.

I sat in a chair behind the kneeling women. I said prayers silently. I don’t know the motions and movements that are manditory. and even if I did, it would feel too much like I was “playing Muslim,” and I did not want to give that impression.
But, I did take off my shoes. and, I did respect the prayer. There were at least three people who asked me if I was Muslim. At first it was a bit awkward. I thought my bare head gave away my religion! But, no one seemed to say or whisper anything. Sure, maybe they looked and maybe even stared. But, the Indian women whom I was with; (Yes, I sat with the women and Imran went with the men), did not say a word or seem to be bothered. No one offered me a headscarf in embarrassment or out of duty or as a polite gesture. That was ok and I would have taken it, if they offered. But, I am just saying that obviously, it did not bother them much. this does not mean that they didn’t care about being disrespectful. I only mean that this was something that they were not focussed on and I was silly to put so much thought into something that could not be changed… … at least, I could not change it.

The inquiries of my religion was only awkward because in Imran’s typical fashion, he did not mention the fact that I was not Muslim. He talked to Auntie on the phone at least twice and (I can’t use the word “forgot,” I’ll have to use the word “avoided) giving such information. “THANK YOU HONEY!” (just in case you were wondering, that was sarcastic )
So, when the first person asked, the Indian (We will call her auntie) spoke up for me in a resounding “yes, of course she is!” I had to delicately correct her.
(blush blush blush)
[momentary silence]

there were refreshments for all. The women ate in the basement and the men ate in the gymnasium. Imran admitted to filling up on doughnuts and “namak para,” which is a Pakistani dessert. It is strips of light flaky salted pie crust. That is the best way I can describe it.

then, we all piled in the car to go to a Pakistani Friend’s house. There were quite a few people. I sat with Imran and the men (not understanding their Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi) until University girl rescued me to sit with the women.I want to take a minute to talk about gender segregation.
In the mosque, the women and men did not eat together. so, I playfully chided Imran when he showed up in the room of women — (with the entent) of seeing whether we were ready to go and to check on me.
I think that he was just trying to score a couple more doughnuts!
But, I did not feel odd, in the least.
sure, there were things that I thought to talk with him about when he was not there.
But, I was ok.
And, after my sensitivity to the uncovered head, you would think that I would be quite sensitive to that.
then, in the Pakistani home, it was clear that men sat in one room and women in another.
It reminded me of our thanksgivings where the men sit in the living room and watch football and the women are in the kitchen cooking and talking.
sure, women *can go into the men’s room.
But, honestly, who wants to? ok, those who want to try to get the attention of the men or something. But, Well, I am fine talking to women!
So, I use “rescue,” when describing my transition from Imran’s side to a sofa crammed on the end of a line of women. I am not a “my space” kind of person, so I don’t mind “crammed in,” anywhere. Besides, the older I get, the more I realize that the spaces are smaller and I seem to “be cramming” more than usual. (smile)
and, I might have felt alone, if it was not for University Girl.
but, honestly, Imran could not possibly translate all of the conversation for me and so I was “rescued from the boring man talk.”
I did not feel “shunned to the back,” or any of those other ways to describe male/female segregation.
auntie, university girl’s mother was trying to include me into the conversation. University girl introduced me to every one and translated when she realized that I did not speak Hindi or Urdu. we also talked in english. It did occur to me that she was including me at the expense of her own comfort. I know that she would have rather sat with her University girlfriends and chatted incessantly. Much appreciation! There was a middle aged pakistani woman that I thought to chat more with. She spoke English fluently and when I mentioned “liberal,” her ears perked up. I would have liked to talk with her more. she was visiting from DC.

the food was eggs, a potato dish seasoned with tomato paste and spices and Paaye.
Ok, I might not be spelling it correctly.
this is gravy made from the feet of the goat.
[Don’t tell me the animal].
But, I did not taste any of the meat, just the gravy for dipping my Naan in.

I have to tell you that I seem to consume lots of Naan when I eat. I can’t make the tight pinch with a small piece of naan. Sometimes, I would use the spoon (yes, it was given, but I don’t know if any other person had a spoon or not) to move the food onto the naan. the potatoes were large chunks, though and sometimes the naan could not hold it. So, I seem to consume lots of naan with my dinner — probably more than the average person.
So, I did not have much to dip in my paaye.
Imran didn’t even eat paaye, but I did not find it distasteful.

People had to get back to work and to their day’s grind. So, we left. I should have asked for contact information. I was just enjoying the discussion and forgot to do so. Imran also enjoyed the men’s discussion.

We got home about 2:00 and we had time to enjoy the rest of the day. That means, we enjoyed a book together — Maybe we will get finished with “shantaram,” before christmas. .. His selection, but I agreed and seem to stay awake longer than he does when listening! (smile)
. And, we ordered Chinese. We have decided never to order from ChinaKing again. the first time, we just thought that it was a bad day. But, the customer service on the phone is horrible. Imran has a hard time understanding their English…. … So do I. The food was ninety minutes+ late and luke warm. Thank goodness that we didn’t order any crab ragoons because fried food does not taste very good when it starts to get cold. when we complained, we got a hollow apology. and, the food is not nearly spicy enough for Imran. We have to mix the soy or duck sauce (whatever is in those little packets) with some tabasco sauce. I think I am running out of hot sauce! (smile)
(smile)
I don’t know why Imran doesn’t like to tip the servers, etc…. … especially their customary 15%. But, I had to agree with him. this delivery man was not getting tipped.

Now, we got an email saying that there are interfaith celebrations this week where Muslims and Christians (mostly Catholics, but Presbyterians, also) are sharing a thanksgiving meal together. Hey, I am ready! Indianapolis is not very “open” to these types of celebrations so I am excited that there are actual some type of “interfaith” events. If we go, I will write about it. I want to know how the “interfaith” part is handled when praying, and discussing faith issues — but there might not be discussion, just eating and socializing. I am getting more excited just thinking about it.
. I think that a mosque is partnering with different churches to host the event.
I have to admit:
Interfaith does mean that you get to celebrate with many different types of people a bit more often than monofaith couples. (Is monofaith a word?) . Is it “monofaith,” “unifaith,” “single faith,” I don’t know!
However, With all of this meeting and celebrating, We should have more friends than we do! (smile)