Archive for the ‘marriage’ Category

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

August 13, 2012

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

the saga of the hunt

May 8, 2012

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

Shocks and Jolts from the Unplugging experience

May 7, 2012

After reading Sleeping Mom’s blog post about geing “unplugged” on “Sleeping should be easy,” I, too, thought that it would be a nice change to unplug. Actually, I admit that this is not the first time I thought of such an idea. A few months ago, I was listening to the BBC’s podcast and a Rabai and a Christian were teling how they unplugged every Sabbath to keep it Holy and family oriented. I mentioned it to DH and got a slight negative reaction. So, when I read “Sleeping Mom’s” post, I thought that this would be a good time. After all, I now have a baby and this will give us the opportunity to spend extra time with him. I don’t think that I am too addicted to my computer/IPhone, but I catch myself thinking: “I wish he’d just go to sleep so I could check my mail or write a blog.” I find myself wishing he would be quiet and still on my lap so I could get some web surfing done. My mind wanders off to my next research project instead of engaging with my Little one. I thought that DH would warm up to the idea, after all, his response pre-baby was only “slightly” negative. So, I asked him to join me.
*Shock1: Expect the type A computer geek person in your life to refuse the challenge, deem it the worst stupidest thing ever and in some extreme circumstances, try to sabbatage (ok, don’t want to look the word up b/c my LO should be up soon and just don’t have time) your efforts.
*Shock2: I sent an text message to all family members and told DH of my plans. The plan was only to be unplugged from 6:00 AM 05/06/2011 until 6:00 AM 05/07/2011. Not only would DH “not join me” but he described it as “paghal,” “Bakwaz,” (crazy and nonsense). when my mother called to ask me the meaning of the text, they both commiserated on the follies of such an action. They had different stances, actually, but the same resulting opinion. DH is a technology addict (yes, mistake 2 was calling him one) and my mother has no computer in her home. DH thought it was nonsense because I would have to turn off the stove, refridgerator, microwave and breastpump; for this to be truly authentic. Otherwise, it was nothing more than a nonsensical fad — and — “Who suggested such a stupid thing anyway, Your friend J?” [Don’t worry Sleeping Mom, I didn’t rat you out ]. and, obviously, he does not know J very well. she could not survive too long without TV or phone or book player to keep her company. My mother, on the other hand, said that it was like taking a short break from smoking. When it is over, you can pat yourself on the back and then return to your normal “plugged in and charged up,” state. She would know, she still has not kicked the tabacco monkey, even though she has been hospitalized several times: so she is just imparting her own experiences. So, for that reason, she saw no point in unplugging.
*Shock3: When you tell certain family members, they will accuse you of trying to exclude yourself from the “real world,” and “family.” Do I have an odd family or what? When I bring up the point that my goal is to spend “more” time with family and not “less,” they remind me that they are not in physical proximity, so, the only family member who will benefit is the baby — and, Aren’t I spending all day/ every day with him anyway??? and, DH chimes in that technology is allowing him to spend time with his family via skype video chat.
*shock4: I miss BBC documentaries that I never even saw and usually don’t have time to check: but now that my Iphone and computer are out of order, I nostalgically do want to see what good documentaries are on the site: as well as finding out all the educational kids stuff that I can get online that actually might be of some benefit.

As far as my “unplugging experience” actually went, I did rather well. I do need to get a braille watch, though. I lost track of time because I could not turn on my phone to check the time. And, while this might not be a big issue for most (and wouldn’t have been for me either, except) I have to time my pumping; [every four hours, for twenty minutes on each side]. I sang my own songs, instead of having Pandora accompany me. I thought about our soon-to-be new house and talked to my baby while I pumped, instead of listening to Stitcher. Twice I wondered about the discussion on certain Facebook message boards. I didn’t have a strong desire to “just check my messages,” or “check other’s facebook status.” Ironically, I caught myself several times thinking: “Oh, I’ll have to remember that so I can blog about it.” It made me think of how we approach experiences, nowadays. I am probably not alone when I say that we approach experiences as 1/2 participant and 1/2 observer. Sometimes, we are more focussed on “how we will blog about this experience,” than actually “having it.”
I did learn a few things from my experience, though:
*JOLT1: Keep it quiet. don’t tell people. Just tel the blogging community: who actually can’t encourage you anyway, because to reap such encouragement, you will need to “log on,” and isn’t that counterproductive???? Make it your own personal journey.
*JOLT2: Be specific about “what you will unplug from. I found myself vacilating about the book player. On one hand, it is electronic. Yet, it allows me to read books that others can read in print.
*JOLT3: Plan out some fun things to do so that you are not thinking about connecting and so that you might be making the most of your unplugged time. DH said that it was crazy, decided to try it with me for a couple of hours and then resumed his prior position with more zeal than before. I think that this happened because he is use to the thrill that technology gives him and … … well, he just got bored and didn’t know what to do without it. I had planned on taking the stroler (with the baby in it, obviously) out for a walk, but by 10:00 AM. DH had bounced bakc to his normal stage of paranoia and disgust.
*JOLT4: It might be a good idea to organize your internet using so that you get the most out of it in the least amount of time. I need to find a good accessible blog reader, only put in it the blogs that I will certainly read, maybe be able to export it to my IPhone and simplify the information/news that I want to read. some articles are interesting, but their content is not relevant or beneficial to my life.

I’d love to hear other experiences. these are just mine and I do admit that I have a very wacky family. I probably will do this again and heed my own advice!

The raw truth: to stay or not to stay

October 10, 2011

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?

2 August, 2011 15:21

August 2, 2011

So, it occurs to me that We do actually ride paratransit with quite a few Characters," in their own right. And, yes, for all of you non-pc people, it is like riding "the short bus." But, as an adult, with other disabled adults who are all not able to drive for a variety of reasons, yet must get to work and other various places. But, I am just too old — and obviously, disabled myself, thus, hardlycare what people think of my associations, etc. A perk of age is that we tend to get less embarrassed by the trivial things — or at least, some of us.

Maybe it is because I am pregnant, myself and emotions are high. Maybe it is because i realize that after December, DH and I won’t be riding paratransit together. Or, who knows, but this has started me thinking about paratransit.

Some drivers want to be very personable and really try to get to know their riders. Some drivers have been driving paratransit for **years and remember the ones who ride often. some drivers are quite talkative and like a good discussion with their morning drive. Sometimes, it is the normal rants; such as the pros and cons of progress&technology, an evaluation of the most recent changes to paratransit (which is never good), the disappearance of manners or the least expensive place for a specific activity. No, I don’t get all “BBC/npr” about things and we generally stay away from religion, politics and hot topics. Once, DH and I had an argument and in a rare moment, DH engaged the driver and riders on the bus to see what they thought. I still disagreed, but the driver, a very animated woman (and you don’t need to see to know this) gave a very impassioned sermon for DH’s cause. I wasn’t offended. From this alone, I correctly guessed her religion as pentacostal! (smile) It was an old argument and DH was just surveying the people to see if they thought he did the right thing — which, kind of means, that he he might have been reconsidering the whole issue. It was an issue of ethics / right and wrong. And, I had to smile at the woman’s obvious ferver for the topic.

There are drivers who arrive 30minutes early and expect us to be willing and ready to ride early. There are drivers who won’t let us eat on the bus, even if they pick us up earlier than our pick up time and we have to ride the bus for 90minutes+. There are drivers who drop us off at the wrong house. There are drivers who don’t want to listen when we try to give them directions. There are drivers who talk to us like we are children. There are drivers who don’t talk at all. There are drivers with loud annoying cell phones. There are drivers who get off the bus at every pickup, so they can smoke a cigarette. So much for getting to work on time! There are drivers who take no care when driving over speed bumps and pot holes. Sometimes, I worry if Paratransit is going to send me into an early labor.

There is a worker at DH’s building, who works in production. He also often rides the same bus as we do. He had to go to the bank. It was close to closing time, so I let him go to the bank first. It was my call, because we were slated to be dropped off first. I was so nauseous, it was not funny. But, I know that paratransit would have dropped him at the bank, whether the bank was closed or open. Then, he would have had to wait for another ride. And, to top things off, it was raining outside. DH protested, but I was trying to be empathetic to a 70-yo man’s needs to go to the bank. So, he gets dropped off at the bank… just in time… … .. and what did he do???? Stand outside and smoke a cigarette! I went home, vomited and the next time I saw him, I really let him have it. Needless to say, now, he is super nice to me. But, DH always says: “Hi W., Are you going to the bank today?” (smile) Oh, and the next time paratransit took him to the bank, he actually went in.

There are times when people talk so loud on their cell phones that I almost wonder if they want to engage us in their very private affairs. I even have to elbow DH several times because he does the same thing when talking to his family/friends in Urdu. People are even more agrivated because he can talk very loudly … … the entire 90minutes to work, yet, they “don’t” get the added benefit of knowing his business. (smile) In his defense, due to the time difference, our mornings at about 7:00 is a good time for both he and his family.

The company that DH and I work for employs quite a few blind people. Now, I must admit that most of the blind people are in the lower positions and the higher you climb up the ladder, the more sighted the employees are. I think that there is even a distinguished difference between totally blind and partially sighted or low vision. Nonetheless, we do have a significant amount of employees who are blind.

[side note: there are four departments in my building. In the customer service department, there are two out of five people – one totally blind – who are employed. In the Accounting department, there are two partially sighted people and five totally sighted employees. In the Call Center, there are five employees: one is totally blind, three are partially sighted and the supervisor is sighted. In the sales department, there are two totally blind persons out of the seven employees. There are people in the warehouse and housekeeping who are sighted. The building is expanding and we will probably have more and more of the factory workers over here. All of the blind workers in our building, except the factory workers, are college graduates.]

The factory jobs consist of glove packaging, auto parts packaging, medical kit assembly and packaging, a document solution/printing shop, And a sign shop. We also provide brailling for signage and documents. Most of this work is done in the building DH works in; which also houses their “rehab department.” DH works in the rehabilitation department, where he teaches computer skills to newly blind individuals. That specific department is staffed mostly by blind individuals. Anyway, some of those employees also have other disabilities. This company use to be a “sheltered workshop,” but now it has expanded and no longer pays workers by the piece. In any case, they employ many different workers and although they do have quotas, there are some workers who are just not capable of making them. They still make the same amount of money, etc. I believe they make $8 an hour. But, they have the same amount of benefits that management has.

[another side note: the top two workers in production, as it relates to output, are from Africa: Eritria and Sudan, respectively. And, just to further enlighten those who believe in Stereotypes, the very top worker, is Aweti, a *woman. She has held this title for more than a year and doesn’t plan on relinquishing it anytime soon].

I try to be respectful and kind to all of the riders, regardless of how much they annoy me. There is the woman who uses her loudest baby voice to ask me the same questions about my dog, every time I see her. I think that she secretly likes (although argues with incessantly with) the guy who boldly and tactlessly tries to bed almost every woman he meets. There is the narcoleptic who remembers every number under the sun (of course, when she is awake and alert). She can also remember the exact date and time that someone stole her pencil in the first grade. Her and her best friend like having the same conversations and trips down memory lane on a very consistent basis. Repetition makes the heart grow fonder. There’s the diabetic woman who, after seeing my yellow lab guide under my seat, went into a full blown speech on the benefits of making the Pit Bull an endangered species by means that Hitler would certainly be proud of. I Thanked God that my Ghetto fabulous pregnant seat mate, who owns a cute and cuddley harmless pitbull was a bit more serene than usual on that particular day. There is one guy, C. who is kind of an autistic genius. I don’t know if he is autistic: (that diagnosis gets thrown around about as much as ADD), but he does have some mental limitations. Yet, he knows greetings in many many different languages. He always says “asalam–o– laykum,” to DH. He is always asking about Hebrew language. He knows greetings and words in German, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Zulu, Tagrinia, Sudanese and now, Urdu. He is not good with pronunciation; he sounds like his dentures are constantly slipping – although, he doesn’t wear dentures. but he makes up for it with his memory. I have met C. a few times because the company sponsors a local “ToastMasters” group that I have attended. He has taken on roles such as grammarian and Toastmaster. He is the Sergeant of Arms and does remember all of the rules. He can be annoying. Like when he insists on being the ToastMaster’s timer. He does not know how to operate a stopwatch and can’t write in print or Braille. Consequently, his duties as “timer,” consists of repeating the times that the actual timer loudly whispers in his ear. This annoys me because, honestly, if he doesn’t operate the stopwatch, and if he doesn’t write down the specific times of each speech, then, really, he is not the timer. Nevertheless, I was just impressed with his memory and interest in DH’s language.

Concluding, have you ever felt like you are surrounded by characters from a compilation of books? Well, that is just our lives.

All about books

June 7, 2011

As I have said before, Dh and I are passionate about giving our child the best education through books and music. OK, OK, the music part is mostly mine. But, we both believe in expanding our child’s mind through reading and thinking. Besides, I keep telling Dh that music will help “HER” be better in MATH. So, it is only appropriate for us to find print/Braille books for us to read to our child.
When I had my older children, there were very few selections available. The ones that I did have, I gave away to other parents and children. After all, what was the purpose of keeping them when other children could enjoy them?
This is where it gets tricky. There are Braille books for this specific purpose. They are called “twin vision” books. They have print, Braille and pictures. Some of them are board books and some are not.
You can read an interesting article about the start of these books at:
http://articles.latimes.com/1990-03-29/news/vw-268_1_twin-vision
I can find them at many state libraries on loan. And I can buy them at the following places:
http://www.seedlings.org
http://www.nbp.org
http://www.braillebookstore.com
There are even some that have tactile pictures. These are even better for parent and child to enjoy. But, always wanting to be “global” in my approach, I was on the hunt for children’s books about Pakistan.
It started with my mother’s suggestion. I had given her first great grandchild, My nephew’s daughter, Lily, a couple of these twin-vision books. They had decided to “give” some of these books back to me. Actually, I hear that Lily has quite a collection of board books and my mother was going to give quite a few of them to me for the new baby. After all, she has graduated to more complicated books. She is now four years old – I think. Anyway, my mother said: “You can Braille these, just like you did the last ones.” But, I had not brailled “any” books myself. I don’t know where she got that idea. Yet, as I began to think about it, I realize that it certainly is possible. I could get some clear plastic labels that come uncut in a large sheet. I’d have to do some measuring to make sure that the Braille will fit. But, since there are few words on a page, I think that I can successfully make it work. I probably could not do this with “story books” that have more words on a page. That would probably require rebinding. But, I could probably handle books with a sentence or two on a page. It would be easy to just go out and buy tons of English written, American board books about almost any topic under the sun. Actually, I admit that most likely the bulk of our collection will be from American authors. However, I want to find a unique collection of world Titles. And, since our child is part Pakistani and since we are not living in Pakistan; thus, he/she will not have Pakistan types of experiences, I want to infuse a bit into our reading. And, I KNOW that there has to be some great Pakistani authors that write children’s books.
I admit that I don’t know urdu Braille. So, translating an Urdu board book is just out of my realm at the moment. But, if I could find some English books that talk about Pakistan, then I am in business. Hey, I might be able to do a “Body part” or “my first objects,” in both Urdu and English. Hmmm, now that is a thought! I’ll look into that one.
Now, it is not just about “Pakistan.” I find that there are many more African and Hispanic writers that write board books for children and I have thought of getting some of these, also. They would be good additions to our collection. Is it my imagination? It seems that there are many many more African writers than Asian writers; especially when it comes to young children’s books.
Annd, while looking for “Pakistani children’s literature,” I found:
“A boisterous Bedtime Read,” by Anitha Balachandra;
“Sumptuous Delights,” by Subhadra Sen Gupta;
“the old woman and the Eagle,” by Idries Shah;
“Two sides of a coin,” by Poile Sengupta;
“Real Winners in life,” by Ramendra Kumar;
“the Lion who saw himself in the Water,” by Idries Shah;
“Flying Dogs and school going monkeys,:” by Deepa Agarwal;
“Temper, Temper,” by Santhini Govindhan;
“Hamid Buys a Present,” by Munshi Premchand;
“the Magic Horse,” by Idries Shah;
“the Man with Bad Manners,” by Idries Shah;
“the Man and the Fox,” by Idries Shah;
Not that I am trying to be picky, here. But, most are more Indian/Hindi in nature. I think that India is the closest that we get to Pakistan.
I wonder if the following Titles are in English or English/Urdu translation.”
“chacha Chakkan,” by Imtiaz Ali;
“Piyari maa,” by Raza Ali;
“Teen Shehzadian,” by Hafizur Rehman;

I found that Idries Shah’s books are published on Hoopoe Books and I might just get some of these because there are CDs to go along with them which sound quite interesting. Although, I want to do most of the reading myself, we can listen to CD books together, also.
And, I might even donate to this wonderful organization, Hoopoe Books, which is trying to keep education in the forefront of children’s minds.
I’d love to hear any suggestions that you might have about children’s literature. Here are some questions for you.
What were your Baby’s first books? Which did you like the most? Did you find any rare books that you and your husband liked to read to your baby? Did your husband participate in the “reading,” also? Did you find books in Urdu and if so, could you read them to your baby?

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

May 26, 2011

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

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

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.

B is for “Ball,”

January 24, 2011