Archive for the ‘Pakistanis’ Category

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

August 13, 2012

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

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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?

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.

DINING IN THE DARK

June 25, 2010

An organization in our area is putting on this fund raiser called:
“Dining in the dark.”
The patrons are blindfolded in an attempt to demonstrate what it might be like to be blind. They are blindfolded for the entire meal.
I must admit that I am not “all up in arms” about it like some of my friends.
They are angry because they feel that it does promote a negative picture about what it must be like to be blind.
they have a point.

Sure, we all want sighted people to know what it is like to be blind. We certainly want some empathy. But, mroe than that, we want some understanding that (with the right training and modifications) we can excel just as our sighted peers.
Most sighted people won’t get past the fear and anxiety of being without sight. The cost is $150 a plate.
Here are some opinions from my friends in the nfb.
I’ll try to condense.

From T & H:
We (myself and my wife T) have been a member for around 1 ½ years and not seen a comparable blind awareness opportunity proposed by the NFB. So, I think it is great that Bosma is doing this (even if only in that regard). You may think this is a great way for people ridicule and make fun of the blind. You need to remember that these people are paying $125 a plate; they are paying to help support a cause that is important to them and to have an experience. These people are more likely to enjoy the experience (and take home something positive from it) than to poke fun. People pay good money to swim with sharks; it is easy to point and criticize while you are in the boat. So, let them try it.
It seems like a lot of people think that Dining In The Dark would provide negative perceptions of the blind to attendees as well as people they come into contact with afterward. My theory is those [negative perceptions] are, more often than not, brought upon us by our own:

… … (T Says) I think what is most poignant to me is that this dinner could be a very positive opportunity. I know that many in the NFB are vehemently opposed to such endeavors, however, I think that you have to start somewhere. I am saddened to think that some ideas I or anyone else may have proposed for future awareness opportunities would fall on deaf and prejudiced ears (for instance: setting up an obstacle coarse and providing sleepshades at a fair or providing blind simulation via pictures or tactile objects;

… … I think it is also important to remember that no one is putting on this dinner with the intent to invoke ridicule or to bring about negative afterthoughts. I believe it would be best to reserve judgement of the fundraiser until it is completed lest we jump the gun… …

From D:
[was upset at the media’s portrayal of those who opposed this dining event]
So, let’s fight fire with fire. Let’s conduct some high profile public awareness activities of our own.
Though It would be a humongous undertaking, and I don’t even pretend that I know what would go into getting a training center started, I would love to see us start an NFB training center in Indiana. Does the national organization provide funding for such undertakings? Let’s take some of that money away from Bosma, and provide blind hoosiers with some real training and hilosophy. Let’s give them some training that is going to mean something.

From K:
the very training center used by Indiana’s blind/visually impaired residents raising funds through fear, and miss conception. Seems to me this just promotes the same old blind person as walking in Darkness, and no matter what the intention, that is exactly how the guests will see this(for themselves.)
Maybe we could have a Video montage made of the collective days in the life of a Blind worker, cook, parent, and any number of other things, if not strictly for sail, than at least presented via the media, at a big event such as a big dinner served in the normal style, of course. I can tell you I’d be more than willing to help with any segment of such a presentation.
Walking in Darkness has not been my state, and I have never seen a day in my life I can remember! Walking in Darkness simply doesn’t exist for those who’re willing to change what it means to be blind!! 🙂

From S:
I reject Bosma’s efforts to make something sensational about dining blind.
Just think for a moment: Suppose one of the guests spills her steak and
potatoes into her lap.
That person will be sure she could not accomplish the simple task of eating
a meal; so how could she go out and work if she became blind?
She would have experienced a totally embarrassing, humiliating situation,
and that is what she would carry away.
We all know these embarrassing, humiliating events can and do happen; but
they are not the norm, and we pick up our flattened pride and move on.

If this person were to experience blindness for a longer time, say three
weeks or a month, by that time, she would have gained some proficiency, and
had enough positive experiences to carry the day.
Then she would have enough respect for the process of learning that is
required of all of us, and she might be more likely to consider a blind
person as a candidate for the next job opening in her company.
But with all due respect, this understanding would be very hard to come by
in one evening.
I totally understand those who are deeply offended.
I see the hypocrisy of this organization not using sleepshades for teaching those (who are going blind) learning blindness skills, but being perfectly willing to use them to raise funds.
However, I do also believe that we who are blind are often blind-sided by
what we do not see, and cannot observe; and I do think we need to have an
open, understanding mind.
I don’t necessarily believe that people will come out of this experience
with a negative view of blind people, if it is framed properly.
There has to be a balance, and I’m not sure Bosma is close enough to the
right balance to suit me.

From R:
As to the Dining in the Dark concept; let me give you some background on it. and set tables cook meals, ect.

It became a novel concept when it came to America and we changed the whole concept. We now have sighted customers dining in the dark and dawning sleepshades.This is suppose to give them an experience of what it is like to be blind.
We in the National Federation of the Blind have always opposed the use of sleep shades on a short term bases. The reason is because it promotes in the user fear, anxiety, and amazement at being able to accomplish this task. The NFB has worked hard over the years to dispel the misunderstandings and misconceptions people have about blindness and blind people. We have worked hard to show the general public that we are the average person doing the average job. We don’t want to be looked upon as being amazing people for completing the simplest task.
When well meaning sighted people sell our disability instead of our abilities to the general public they do a dis-service to all blind people. This negative impact promotes hopelessness and helplessness. We as blind people are conditioned to believe in this concept of learned helplessness and we in turn become that in which we believe.
The National Federation of the Blind believes in high expectations for blind people. Therefore it is not out of our realm of thinking that “a blind person will one day go to the moon” because we have members of our organization aspiring to be an astronaut.

From P:
I agree with V, They could have showed blind people working. They could
have had blind people talk about how they are living their lives just like
anyone else. The truth is they just want to make money and they don’t care
what it does to the image of the blind.

My thoughts:
I must concur with R, P, S and K. While the intentions might be to show people what it is like to be blind, their methods will not yield any result except loads of pity and money.
One of my biggest problems with this event is that although they serve the blind community:
they teach them life skills, how to cook, clean, make a meal, balance a check book, make a resume, get a job, etc.
Why couldn’t blind people plan the entire event?
They could have had blind people doing the cooking, serving, cleaning, planning, speaking, public relations, fund raising, etc.
But, after talking to some blind people who work there;
the blind aren’t even involved. They knew nothing about this fund raising event.

After talking to Imran, he was not as upset over this issue. He did agree that they were probably doing this whole dining experience only to make money. And, he did agree that there should be more blind people involved… … ahem, (one blind person would be an accurate description of “more”). But, he thought that we should debate with them quietly.
From what I know, R., our state president has tried and it has not resulted in any changes.
Imran does note that this money will go to help blind people. It will benefit blind people and this is a good thing.
I agree, but at what cost to blind people: their dignity?
And, how much will it benefit blind people? Certainly, it will help them receive some services that are useful. But, will it insure that they will be equal to their sighted peers socially, financially, physically and emotionally?
I know that Imran thinks that the pursuit for dignity is sometimes a pursuit for those who don’t have to worry about “surviving.” Such thoughts and actions are luxuries for those who don’t have to worry about food/shelter/etc.
He feels that such growth will come after the most basic needs are met.
And, in Pakistan, many times, these needs are not met.
Let’s talk about blind people in Pakistan.
Many don’t know braille. Many parents don’t think that there children can do much of anything.
It is not uncommon to see a blind beggar.
Many blind people in Pakistan don’t have jobs. They just don’t have many opportunities.
Yet, I see Imran’s friends.
Now, maybe he has the richest most posh blind friends.
(I guess that I can say this because Ali, Farhan, Salman, Azghar or Naeem) won’t be reading this. (smile) I mean, maybe his friends are those who can afford a computer and learn to use it.
After all, he did go to a private school for the blind.
He and his sister did get an education. Their father thought that it was necessary. I am proud of his father for not writing his children off when he learned of their disability. Their father had faith, determination and wanted something better for his blind children! They went to a private blind school in Lahore. (I should ask him before posting the name of the school, although this article would give it positive press).
From what we hear, this is rare in Pakistan because many of the schools are not as fervent in their desires or expansive in their equipment or financially able to provide their blind children with such an education.
Some obstacles are due to culture, some to economics and some to public and familial attitudes. But, Imran and his sister did receive such an education. They went to regular university and received a degree in economics in Pakistan.
They excelled.
But, not all do.
And, I am quite proud of his friends — the ones who have little to no opportunities, yet still strive for success…. those who continue to look for a job, even when prejudice attitudes are high … … those who learn the computer and programming on their own because there is no agency to teach them… … those who find resources and learn to network just so that they can access information, just as their sighted siblings and friends — (Way to go Ali, Azghar, Naeem, Salman and Farhan). ?There are even a couple of women who also have the desire to excel! (WOOHOO). and Imran, who has done all of this and continues to assist others in this endeavor. I am proud of what he has achieved and what he continues to do for his friends and any other blind person who he comes in contact with. He always tries to find them resources and ways for accessing information and reading.
I love and admire his dedication to assist other blind people in their struggles for knowledge!
That speaks to the servant in me.
And, this makes me think about the library that we talk about starting. We want to start a library for the blind.
This library would provide braille books for blind people to read.
Well, the fire is once again ignited.

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!