Archive for the ‘Desi’ Category

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! .

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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!!

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

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)

My first Ramadan

October 7, 2010

One of my firsts!
September 3, 2010
I have not written in my blog for a while, but I wanted to write about Imran’s visit and the start of Ramadan.
People in MC relationships (Muslim/Christian) [No Christian offense because I put Muslim first, it is not a comment about dominant faith, etc] – [people are so sensitive].
Approach Ramadan differently.
My goal was to respect the fast and not eat because Imran was not eating.
But….
I wondered if I was kind of “thumbing my nose), because I was participating in a fast that was not mine to participate in.
Yet, I did not want to tempt Imran.
So, I ate/eat discretely.
I got up early to prepare a breakfast. I made some pretty flavorful food, but I knew that it was not authentic Pakistani food. When I did buy parathas, I seemed to burn them. My cooking&baking skills are disappearing and who knows why.
Imran came on August 8th and had a job interview on the 13th of August. He actually had one on the 10th of August for a Customer Service position and the one on the 13th was for a script writer/ assistive technology teaching position.
We were hoping for the latter interview to yield a job, but with today’s economy, we would take any job offered.
But, back to Ramadan:
So, I was thrilled that we were invited to one of his friends’ house to break the fast. This was on Saturday, the 14th, so we had already spent three days of Ramadan.
He had forgotten to mention (I think that “avoided the issue” might better describe it, but I am not quibbling on this point) that I have a guide dog. Fallbrook, my guide dog, can not stay at home when no one is there to watch him. It truly is like having a small child. But, we were invited to a traditional Pakistani home and the parents and even Imran’s friend was quite afraid of the dog. I strongly suggested that Imran go without me. I did not want to make anyone uncomfortable, but there was no one to watch Fallbrook. As reluctant as Imran was to bring up the situation, he was even more determined that I accompany him. We decided that I would take the dog: (the family said that it would be ok, as long as we kept him outside). And, I prepared for it. It was a bit hot, but I brought extra water. But, when we got there, it was suggested that we keep the dog inside, but in the entryway: where there was no carpet. It worked out rather well.
The family consisted of a mother and father,(who were visiting) their children, A., B., and C., (A and B are females) and C is a male and married to D. C & D also have a two year old son. D., C.’s wife, is an American. A will be getting married soon and moving out. B is blind and we talked lots about her GRE, Braille skills, etc. She has taught in Pakistan and we talked about some of the differences and resources that she could find here.
I expected to have a large Pakistani dinner. What I had was vegetable rice, biryani, chicken in a spicey sauce and some pita bread that served as Naan. Oh, and D and I ate a bit of fruit before the fast. She said that she was not fasting either. At first, I thought that she may not be Muslim, but, upon later reflection, I think that she is Muslim, just was not fasting that day.
It was wonderful to talk about cultural differences, compare Urdu notes and just enjoy the evening. Imran and I have not had much response in regards to finding people to take him to the mosque, etc. He had one Indian friend, but he went back to India. The last couple of calls to various mosques did not result in any contacts being made and no Mosque attendance.
Imran bragged about my urdu. I wish that he had not because I have not used it in a while and frankly, it is not that good at all! But, he cajoled me into singing one of our favorites, “Tayri Yaad” by Adnan Sami. Of course, he would sing it with me. The problem was that I know the song much better than he does. So, soon enough, his masculine voice ceased to resonate and, of course, I was on my own for a bar or two. They were impressed, I was embarrassed. .

The other intercultural couple sang Pakistan’s national Anthem… … put us to shame. I don’t even know it and could not pick it out.
Does anyone have a link?
No pakoras, no samosas, but the vegetable rice and spicy chicken was quite tasty! The biryani was a bit too spicy for me.
But, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the company!
I demonstrated my “I-Bill,” Thanks to Imran, I have a way to recognize currency.
It happened in Dallas. Someone thought that they gave me a $10, but it was really a $1. Now, I am not jumping to conclusions and assuming that there was any malicious intent. In the past, we would have to ask a sighted person the denomination of our currency and then fold it accordingly, so that we would not have to continue to ask all of the time. But, now, there is a small device that will read and speak the denomination. It is quite small. The end of the bill is slid into the device and it will announce the amount of currency. So, Imran bought me an I-bill, after my unfortunate miss hap in Dallas. And, I got to show it off! (smile)

We also visited one of our favorite restaurants “Magoo’s California Pizza,” which is Halal and owned by a Pakistani family.
We broke the fast with dates and a kind of sweet rosewater: … … Rahoofsa????
He had a place to pray and all was good.
We had a good time and went out by ourselves.
There is something “free” about not having to rely on someone else’s time frame.
But, we really did have to rely on the timeframe of public transportation, so we were not as “free” as I pretend.
(smile)
Yet, Ramadan celebrations were great: despite the fact that I could not provide him a “close to Pakistani” experience.

I realized two important things from this wonderful evening with the family.
I tend to give up too easily. Imran always looks for the compromise, he makes every attempt to make things work. For me: A “no” is a “no.” I take things for face value and try to work within that mind frame. Imran is always looking for the compromise. … even with people he barely knows. Many times, people are not as rigid as I might think that they are. And…. Each family has their own way of blending cultures. Some accept extended family into their homes and some do not. Some cook lots of Pakistani food and some do not. Some American counterparts learn Urdu and some do not. Some Pakistanis wear their traditional clothes and some do not. Some take frequent trips to Pakistan and some do not. It is whatever makes the couple and extended family feel comfortable. Certainly, I would not want Imran to lose his culture and/or minimize his customs. But, the specific blend is up to the individual couple. I think that I had been oversensitive to the fact that people might accuse him of “losing his culture,” or “assimilating.” Does a relationship with an American already mean that one is “assimilating into the American culture?” So, I have been trying hard to help him preserve his culture.
I am learning to relax a bit. Just as some enjoy a very strong cup of coffee and others enjoy a bit of coffee with their sugar and cream—
As some enjoy very spicy meals while others have a pallet for the more bland selections –
The blend is up to the family.
I can’t tell you that you are not a “real coffee drinker” just because you like lots less coffee in your cup than I do.
If each party makes every attempt to incorporate different blends, then one partner won’t feel as if their specific culture and traditions are being overlooked. It is important that people do keep certain treasures from their own culture. But, each individual person gets to decide “what” those treasures are and how to incorporate them into their new blended life.
I am not advocating choosing a dominant culture and forgetting another’s culture.
But, I don’t have the right to criticize someone else’s particular blend. If both participants are happy, then, it works for them.
It might not be agreeable to me, but I don’t have to live there and/or with such decisions.

In any case, the “friend finding” is slow. But, we are enjoying our ramadan.
And, I, as a Christian am praying more because I pray when he goes to pray.
I can already hear the opposition ringing in my ear about the differences in prayer, worship and so forth.
But, all I can say is that:
you make your compromises and I will make mine. Our Ramadan was good for a first year and I hope that it will get better and better as the years go by.
I thought that Imran would be disappointed that he did not have large Pakistani celebrations. But, for now, he is ok with it.
He is an eternal optimist and I am learning to appreciate this quality more and more.
(smile)

Oh, and he did get the Assistive Technology job.
It took lots of time to figure out the specifics.
It had to do with immigration, employment, CPT, form i94 (I think that was the number: I am already mixed up about the specific forms — there are so many), fulltime work, etc.
Whenever immigration laws rear their ugly head, some people are quite knowledgeable and others think that they are, but are not.
But, in the end, he works full time at
Bosma Enterprizes.
He teaches blind people how to use the computer and he is also working to make more programs accessible so that more blind people can join the work force.
He likes his work and his colleagues.
He started work on the 1st or 2nd of September.

an explosion of a different kind

May 6, 2010

Ok, I have gotten calls from people who just wanted to inform me that “The Time Square Bomber was from Pakistan.”
[I specifically don’t follow — or didn’t — because I didn’t want to talk
and argue about such things] But, I must now. No matter how hard I try, possible terrorist attacks are a part of my world. Muslims and Pakistanis in the USA and those associated with these two groups not only have to worry about getting attacked by a bomb (which is no discriminator of people), but then, they must be attacked from US citizens who think that they are the enemy.
And, oh, by the way, “the Underwear Bomber was too…. maybe there are more Pakistani bombers — it must be in the water… … or religion!”
It does not matter that people are wrong.
this one woman’s indignation made up for any minor geographical miscalculations that she might have made. Faisal Shahzad may not have detinated a bomb, but he was the instrument which allowed fear to ignite terror in the hearts and shatter logic in the minds of people everywhere.
Instead of spending the day thanking God that the plot was foiled and that there were no casualties, I must spend the day feeling the wrath and fear come upon all Pakistanis for that any and all acts of terrorism. Because, it is not enough to deal with the current state of affairs, we must bring up every act of terror that has been perpetrated on our innocent society and make sure that we have sufficiently wired them together by geography, nationality and religion.
And, since I have ties to a Pakistani, I must be naive or stupid. The aftermath of irationality has spread farther than the effects of that bomb ever would.
So, I was off to do research. “Famous Bombers,” who are they? Where is their country of origin? And, of course, this is only limited to those “people” who have made an attempt (successful or not) to detinate a bomb — or those in conspiracy to do so.
It is worth noting that acording to research, the most famous “bombers,” are American Aircrafts. (smile)
Some of the lesser known (at least according to current News Media) are:
The Klu Klux Klan, the Canadian
Front de Libération du Québec, The Italian Red Brigade, The German Red Army Faction, The Peruvian Shining Path, The American Weathermen and The Spanish ETA. I am almost certain that there are no Pakistanis in any of the above mentioned organizations. But, maybe I need to alert my local meteorological society. (smile)
Ok, we have Richard Reid (aka Tariq Raja) from Srilanca.
I know that no one knows Paul Rose who was from Montreal, Quebec. And, of course, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are not Pakistani.
I realize that there is a large number of foreigners on the list of “Famous Terrorists.”
I found my information at:
http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Famous_terrorists/
If someone has a better site, let me know.
Here is the thing:
There are many (ok, the census bureau had stats, I just could not read them because they were in that funny table thing) Pakistanis living in America.
There are Organizations such as the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America which would at the least signify some solidarity with America.
And, statistics say that we have from eight to ten million Muslims in America.
Now, of course there are many Pakistanis that don’t claim to be Muslim,
but even if every Pakistani registered as Muslim, there would still be many more Muslims. Muslims and specifically Pakistani Muslims are under the microscope and anyone who is associated with them will be also.
I have wanted to go to Pakistan, which will probably be delayed — although who really knows.
But, I wonder: for the ease of things, how many Pakistanis feel the need to call themselves “south Asians,” or “Asian,” just to avoid the hastle.
Not that they will avoid it for long.
And, I know that I read a post by The Gori Wife that expressed her anger toward Faisal Shahzad.
I, on the other hand get upset at all of those ignorant people who can’t separate Imran from Faisal —
who has no idea of where Peshawar is (and where it is in relation to Rawal Pindi — not just geographically, but culturally)
and those who think that “muslim,” obviously means Terrorist.
I noticed that the news reports stated that Faisal Shahzad was a “Financial Analyst.” I think that this is the real problem. We should stop targetting and stereotyping Pakistanis or Muslims and start making all kinds of assumptions about those financial analysts. That kind of work could push anyone over the edge!