Archive for the ‘social issues’ Category

pregnancy, disability and culture

September 15, 2011

Before you read this next post, know that all is fine with baby. My Ultrasounds have went well and things seem to be going smoothly.
However, this does bring up a subject that I have written many draft posts about and have to consolidate them into one thought provoking post. As if I just can’t get off of these three topics: it is about pregnancy, babies and disability.
During this pregnancy, we have been confronted several times with the possibility of having a disabled child. First, let me say that my blindness is not hereditary (although who would know unless they asked) and DH’s blindness comes from a recessive gene that both parents must carry. [Which means that his two sighted parents both carried the gene that caused their blindness: but I am not blaming, just making a point]. But, everyone wondered what we would do if the child was blind. Or, worse: what if the child had Downs Syndrome?
[Sidenote: t the BBC presented a documentary called “the education of….” (sorry can’t remember his name) which is about a man who has Downs Syndrom and who is going to college. i have conflicting views on this, but it is an interesting documentary, if you are so inclined].
Anyway, After all, I am an older parent and the likelyhood of a child with a disability increases with the parent’s age (specifically the mother’s).
DH and I talked about it several times. Neither of us even considered abortion. What I did not ask him was: “Would you have considered abortion if I was younger and the possibility of me having non-disabled children was likely?” I didn’t think of it then, but it is kind a “what if,” question and he really couldn’t answer it because it would never happen. Already he does not like playing the “What if,” game, especially when there is no way that it will happen. He said that if the child was disabled, he would definitely want to raise it here in the USA.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I would certainly go through the stages that every parent must go through when they are faced with a child that has more challenges than most. I would probably deny, grieve, accept and finally advocate. I don’t know how long i would be in each stage and know that it is certainly an individual experience.
But, When I talked about having the child and then meeting the family for SIL’s wedding, DH felt quite uncomfortable. Although he would want to show off a non-disabled child, he would have a problem feeling the same type of pride toward his disabled child. (my thoughts) He says that it is not a pride issue. He just would not want to deal with everyone’s comments and pity. He also says that other children are not very nice to disabled children. So, I guess you have lots of people who are either afraid of disabilities and/or say stupid things. And, you have unrelenting children whose parents don’t teach them how to behave. Yet, this does not match with the stories about his and his sister’s childhood.
Hearing stories from DH, I find out that he was quite the mischief maker. When they were little, DH and his sister, who is also blind, loved telephones and radios. OK, it was probably more of DH than his sister’s love; but his sister was dragged in by association. DH would not hesitate to scope out a neighbor’s or relative’s house looking for a telephone to call his friends. “permission” and “telephone charges” were not words in his vocabulary. He talks about exploring everyone’s rooftops and jumping/swinging from one house to the next. Before (and even after) he knew about blind cricket, he and his cousins would modify the game so that he could also play. He was fascinated with the light and bright colors surrounding fireworks and on several occasions despite his mother’s protests, burned holes in his clothes because he was not careful while playing with them. Often, he would go out with his cousins or neighborhood friends to the market and with his father to the Mosque. DH felt that many times, his father was more strict on him than on his younger brother. As a result, Dh feels that he is much more disciplined and mature than his brother. His sister, the one who is blind, is the first born. There are family legends about how proud his father was to have a baby girl: so much so that he carried her “everywhere he went.” Their father was not satisfied with the Government run blind schools and continued to search for better educational opportunities for his blind children. And, of course, the two children that received the opportunity to study in America happened to be the two blind children. Yes, there are discrepancies in how his father treats his sighted children, verses how he treats his blind children. Yes, they, his parents, were worried that we would surely pass “blindness” to our child and wondered how we might tackle the challenges of parenthood. And, yes, I agree that society is not very welcoming. But, all in all, his family seemed to rise to the challenge of having blind children. His family did not hide them away in a room or an institution. Yes, there was the many “faqirs,” “healers,” that people would suggest to Abu so that they could heal DH and his sister. yes, blind beggars are not uncommon in Pakistan. I think that there were some family members who blamed the mother for their blindness. (don’t quote me on that one, I am not sure). And, certainly, there is an overwhelming focus on the medicalization of the disability instead of more of an acceptance/independence approach. But, honestly, I see it here, in America, also.
Interesting fact: when I was a child, I was stopped many times on the street and without warning, people (Pastors or preachers or all types of religious folk) would place their hands on my head and/or face and begin to pray for me. They were sure that God would heal me, right then! When a healing was not forthcoming, they either took one of two approaches. 1. Encouraged me to continue to pray for my sight because it would happen in God’s time. Or 2. Chastised myself or a member of my family for having little faith. (what a way to bring souls to God)! Interestingly enough, DH reports that there are times when people have stopped him on the street and asked “HIM” to pray for “THEM” because prayers from a blind person are suppose to be more effective. And Lest we think that America is superior in the disability department, a friend of mine reports that a pastor of a church that she (still miraculously) attends has told her on more than one occasion that she will not regain her sight until she stops sinning and becomes serious about her faith.
Alright, honestly, I admit that many (especially those in smaller villages) Pakistani parents are probably ashamed of their disabled children. Many don’t know about Braille and/or how to teach their blind children. There are not as many services for blind (or other disabled) individuals. There are not that many employment opportunities for blind or disabled people. Remember, Dh still wants to start that Braille library: so obviously, Braille material is not as easy to obtain. Yet, hope still abounds. And, it seems that the challenges center around the lack of information more than anything else. And, honestly, maybe DH wold just have to go through those stages listed above and “right after birth” is just too soon for him to be in the “acceptance” stage. But, we will not really know unless it actually happens.
But, i still ask:
1. Would you/ Did you get any genetic tests to identify an unborn child’s disability? If so, would you have terminated the pregnancy? Do you and your DH have different views on the subject?
2. What are your family’s views about people with disabilities? Is there a hierarchy between physical and mental? Do they differ from your DH’s family’s views?
3. Would you be hesitant to bring your disabled child to your DH’s country?
4. Has your or your DH’s views on disability changed over time? How?


Interfaith Watch (What is in the News)

June 22, 2011

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

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

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

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

February 25, 2011

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

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

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

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

More rain checks than pay checks! … … ranting again!

February 6, 2011

Raincheck —
Due to unforeseen circumstances, a proposed offer or ticket to a sporting event is resended and will be renewed or reasserted sometime in the future. A promise that an offer or ticket (that was either bought or accepted) will be re-initiated or available for use at a later determined date.
This term comes from baseball, where in the 1880s it became the practice to offer paying spectators a rain check entitling them to future admission for
A game that was postponed or ended early due to bad weather or other circumstances beyond normal control. By the early 1900s the term was transferred to tickets for other kinds of entertainment,
And later to a coupon entitling a customer to buy, at a later date and at the same price, a sale item temporarily out of stock. Today, we often use a “rain check,” to postpone an offer until a later date.

Lions Club meetings… … Check check;
Pakistani General Shahid’s visit sponsored by III… … check;
And…. … It happened again. We, DH and I, were supposed to go to a “super game event,” (inspired by Super bowl Sunday). The event organized by the “Hindu Philosophy and Indian Cultural meet up group,” started at 2:00, which meant that we should have left by 12:30, but I scheduled to leave by 1:30. We would have gotten there after 2:00 (maybe even 3:00), but we were ok with being fashionably late!I packed my braille cards and scrounged around (to no avail) for the accessible chess board and pieces. DH would just have to secure another time to develop his atrophying chess skills. At 11:45, the group organizer sent an email ensuring us that the event was still on. At 12:30, she changed her mind. I did not find out until we got a call from the organizers, just as we got on the bus. In any case, we placed our spring rolls back into the freezer and had to reinstall ourselves into our desk chairs, busying ourselves with phone calls and computer activities. Lately, when DH and I play games with just us two, the end result was not very favorable.

One of the perks of having a vehicle is that you get to choose (on a moment’s notice) where you want to go, when you will leave and return, how long you will stay and it is easy to adapt your schedule at your own convenience. There are many places that I thought about visiting. There is a tabla and percussion demonstration at the Indiana Percussive society. (Maybe I’ll get to try playing it for myself), various meetup groups hosting non-alcoholic activities, museums, festivals, etc. When riding paratransit, called “open door,” [a part of our public transportation system called IndyGo], it is not that easy. We have to schedule at least 24hours in advance. That means, I can’t just decide to go to Wal-Mart because I forgot to pick up a snow shovel or to the International grocery because I did not realize that I was out of ginger/garlic paste or to “on the spur of the moment” pick up some cream puffs as a surprise for DH, or replace my boots that just happened to come apart as I was walking. I can’t delay a return trip if the restaurant was abnormally packed and we just got our food or if we are involved in a rather pleasant conversation that was unanticipated at the time of scheduling. in addition, if we finish our business 45minutes earlier than we had expected, we must still wait to be picked up at the scheduled time. It also counts against us if we cancel more than four times in one month without giving at least 24hour notice. A round trip counts as “two cancelations.” If we have an appointment at 3:00, it is advised to schedule our pickup at 1:30. Last Friday, I needed to go to the bank. The driver picked me up at 4:25 and we got to the bank at 5:50 – 10minutes before the bank closed. The driver said that she would make use of her lead foot to get us there before it closed. We felt grateful. But, paratransit does not stay and wait. We have to schedule a pickup to be no less than 90minutes from the time we were dropped off.
I know that I am complaining about transportation again when most people are maybe grumbling about
shoveling their vehicle out of a place where weather mandated it stay, Getting snow and ice off their vehicle, tire traction and visibility on the road and increasing gas prices.
But, I really think that some people don’t realize the consequences that others face when they flippantly cancel an event. Now, maybe the cancelation was not as flippantly decided as it appears…. Yet, we were willing to endure the cold lengthy ride for socialization and entertainment. And, it seems that some people just don’t want to be bothered by a little snow to make their commitments!

And, I can’t remember who it is,
But a friendly Desi ring [at least I think that they are in the ring. At the least, they write on similar subjects]. Blogger (or is it Bloggee, for females), has a DH who is a taxi driver. In Indiana, taxis cost $3 to get into the cab and $2 per mile. I know that drivers have to pay a daily or weekly rental for the cab and they don’t have insurance through work and need to make a living. But….. … That gets awfully expensive for us!!!! So, to Mrs. Bloggee with a taxi driver husband: encourage him to give his blind patrons a good rate. After all, they are more likely to use taxis on a regular basis and they are likely to recommend him to their needy friends. The only downfall for the taxi driver is that they might have a guide dog and that will mean that there will be lots of dog hair left behind. (Sorry) [I try to remember to bring a sheet]. I have only been denied a taxi once (In Washington DC, no doubt) [It was almost exactly 1year ago], he did not want to transport my guide dog. Ironically, I was in DC to lobby for accessible legislation in technology and thought that the taxi issue was a “no Brainer.”

The day shaped up well and we just chilled (Am I too old to use that terminology???) at home.
We caught up with friends and calls. Even though his sister calls every day, he usually talks to her and not me. So, I got to talk (for hours) to my SIL, today. I was reminded how much alike we are – in our desires and personalities. I was going to say that she is shaping up to be lots like me! (But, she probably always has been like that). And, we do agree on quite a few things! It was good to connect with her.
I am just venting about paratransit, again.

Hear the Call of III (International Interfaith Initiative)

January 25, 2011

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

Making some noise about “The silent but deadly!”

January 12, 2011

Today, as usual, imran and I caught the bus for Work. It arrived a little after 6:00. Many times, we can hear the beeping noise (as many industrial vehicles) make when backing up. Lately, we hear nothing as the bus approaches. But, It is winter and the mantra “Let is snow, let it snow, let it snow!” has been chanted by almost everyone from those who wanted a white Christmas to those wanting to experience a respite from school or work to those who want to make a few extra bucks by overcharging an elderly couple to shovel their driveway. Hey, I confess that in my desire to interject the experience of snowball fights, cocoa and snuggling[Where’s the fireplace when you need it?] into my blossoming marriage, I have been known to belt out the all-too-familiar holiday favorite sometimes on an hourly basis. However, transformation is afoot. I have joined the less than 30% of blind people who call themselves “Employed.” Adorning the label and assuming the accompanying responsibilities also means that I am forced to reevaluate my perspective, as well as my willingness to embrace and dare I admit “encourage” such climental occurrences.
blind travelers everywhere are aware of the challenges that snow provides. {if ever I have someone help me with this blog, I will insert a blind person traveling in lots of snow].
I am not saying that blind people can’t or don’t travel well in snow. They certainly can and do. But, they adapt to overcome such challenges as:
1. One of the most annoying difficulties lay right on the ground. There are Blankets of snow that cover sidewalks and make it difficult to distinguish differences between ground surfaces such as pavement, grass, gravel and that manhole that serves as a landmark, or those truncated domes that are present at street corners. We can no longer use these textural changes identified by our feet to give us clues about where we are. Not all, but many blind people have difficulty walking in a straight line. I have my own theory about this one. I think that it has to do with not being able to find our focal point. But, I have not discussed my theory with a certified mobility instructor and have no research to substantiate my claim. Whatever the reason, it is doubly challenging to keep a straight line when you have very few clues from the ground that you are walking on.
2. Many times snow plows and other snow moving equipment relocate the snow from the street to the curbside. Often these mounds of snow cover the indication of the curb. Thus, we have to navigate around the snowdrift at each curb side and through any blockage at the corner walk. . Sometimes, those cane travelers have to attempt to use their cane to clear a path in the snow before moving forward. Many times, guide dogs see these snow banks as obstacles and attempt to guide the blind person around the snow. Yet, sometimes, the best course of action is to plow straight through the snow bank.
3. It amazes me that no matter how much snow falls to the ground, you can barely hear its descent. “White noise,” has a whole new concept when talking about snow. It sounds like you are walking on cotton. Sometimes, it crunches a bit, but it feels as if some of that cotton has been stuffed in your ears and you can only hear the snow. Everything feels … and sounds muted in the snow. It is difficult to hear echoes, your cane tapping on the many ground surfaces and sometimes, you have to strain to hear the traffic. We blind people use the sounds of parallel and perpendicular traffic to A. determine when it is safe to cross the street and B. help guide us on a straight course. “Friends, countrymen, lend me your ear…”

***Enter the silent, but deadly hybrid!
[insert image of hybrid car with a poison sticker looming over the top].
There have been many documented (and many more that have yet to achieve such a status) stories of accidents due to these sneaky vehicles. Some people are hosts or carriers (one who possesses the hybrid by surrendering to their materialist tendencies and/or yielding to their addiction of prestige) and there are others who become unwilling victims of the hybrid. Sometimes, someone is putting groceries into their trunks or waiting at a traffic light and without warning, is confronted with the reality that they have experienced an injury by a hybrid. To avoid the risk of contact, one should stay away from the infamous parking lot. This is one of the places that a hybrid can do the most damage. While a parking lot seems harmless and quite conducive to “on the go socializing,”, I feel that it is my civic duty to warn you of the dangers that lurk just out of earshot. hybrid is most dangerous in the stages directly before and after acceleration. It is easiest to detect when it is most active. during this stage, it can be discovered and the proper precautions can be taken. But, between stages of acceleration, it lays dormant and auditorially unidentifiable, which is frequently During the time a host or a carrier that is at a stoplight or navigating a parking situation. In these times, others aren’t aware that a host possesses a hybrid. Thus, the hybrid surges forward and makes a sneak attack on others.
Many have suggested that we should abandon the activity of walking. While once seen as a healthy exercise, research has shown that the life risks might just outweigh the health benefits. For blind people, however, disengaging in such an activity would have devastating economic, social and emotional consequences. The fear of coming in contact with a hybrid would relegate the blind person to exclusion from employment, bill paying, shopping, their spiritual development, banking, maintaining familial bonds and socializing. Certainly some of these things can be performed via telephone or internet. However, hybrid hysteria (some of which is warranted) would exile the blind to become secluded prisoners within their own four walls.
Yet, Hybrids are spreading across the US due to alluring packaging and competent advertising. Car manufacturers exploit the unhealthy prestige addictions of the wealthy by masking the harm done by the hybrid and marketing it as a much needed, environmentally conscious status symbol for the elite class. Most often, the one who possesses the hybrid is unlikely to feel the damaging effects. It is similar to being exposed to TB or being a carrier of a recessive gene of a disease. In the case of Tuberculosis, the one who has been exposed (but has not actually had the disease), is immune to the damage it can cause. In this case, the person who has enough finances to purchase the hybrid in its pretty packaging and loaded with beneficial bells and whistles also becomes a “carrier” or purchases his immunity to the harm that it can do.
Many will remember Senator John Kerry as an embarrassment to the democratic party and a failure. Have no fear, John Kerry, your legacy has been redeemed by the one act of giving your support to the Pedestrian safety Enhancement act of 2010. And, before you think that Kerry had an ulterior motive of “just wanting to stick it to automobile manufacturers,” let it be known that Senator Kerry, himself, is immune to the damage of the hybrid. Apparently, he sees no conflict of interest and I don’t feel compelled to be his beacon. I am bursting with gratitude to learn that his predilection for materialism and prestige has not effected his commitment to social justice.
So, how does this “Pedestrian Safety Enhancement act) effect the common people? Basically, his bill mandates that there be noise generated devices on all electric vehicles, hybrids, and other silent-running vehicles. In this way, the car manufacturers will be removing the Hybrid’s venom and renders the hybrid harmless to all, but one’s pocketbook.
Blind organizations such as the national Federation of the Blind(NFB) has been instrumental in setting a good example by making lots of noise to congress in the hopes that the hybrids will soon follow suit. The strategy of sound worked. The “Voice of the Blind,” will be remembered through the “sound of the hybrid.” “To all who have an ear, let him hear…”

Lest we feel that the Government has been left out of this newest development, Ray LaHood, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, will assume the arduous and most likely long suffering task of developing a range of safety standards for noise reduced vehicles. Such standards will include: ” minimum level of
sound emitted from a motor vehicle that is necessary to provide blind
and other pedestrians with the information needed to reasonably detect
a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle operating at or below the
cross-over speed,” and the tone, volume, and speed at which
the noise-making pedestrian safety systems would be most effective. Hmmm, I think that a panel of “pedestrians,” themselves, would be a good advisory board to the DOT. Might I suggest that there should be some blind individuals on the board.
I wonder if each company will decide on their own tone. That might be interesting. In this way, we can detect the model, make and manufacturer of a car just by its sound. Nissan, either out of an empathetic conscious or a looming suspicion that the bill would pass, has outfitted the new “Leaf” with a noise generator installed. While, rumor has it that Chevrolet is developing a similar system for its hybrid “Volt.”
If I still worked at the animal shelter, I would name all stray dogs and cats Nissan cars, in tribute to this proactive manufacturer.
Those of you who are considering a hybrid should have no fear. “quickly” is not a word that is recognized by government agencies. And, are you now wondering if you will be paying even more for that environmentally superior vehicle? My guess is “yes.” Take heart, though, it is less likely that you will have to pay court costs and damages.
I shout a “WOOHOO” into the snowy silence and know that Imran and I both value John Kerry’s efforts to keep America safe much more than the efforts of the Transportation Security Administration. .

finally working

November 30, 2010

Can someone feel joy and frustration at the same time?
Yes! they certainly can.

I had two interviews within the last month.
the first was for an administrative assistant. the position is with the same company that Imran works for. He, actually, forwarded me the position. I applied. I would not be working in the same building as he would be working. But, it is still within the same company. I went for the interview. but, I honestly did not think that I would get the job. I don’t think that I did that well in the interview and It was clear that I would not be the first choice.
The second interview was just last week. It was with a rival company. The job is either “community Guide,” or the “full time Advocate,” or even the “part time Advocate.” they had three positions available.
I actually want a job with this company more. It appeals to my social work sensibilities and degree. I would be working with blind consumers, finding and referring resources, helping with daily independent living skills and doing all types of “social worky” stuff.
I don’t know any of the specifics of the job, such as pay, benefits, insurance, etc.
They were suppose to call me Tuesday if they wanted me to come in for a second interview.
I have not gotten a call yet. I have left one email and one voice message.
but, I thought that (the interview with company number 2) went quite a bit more smoothly than my first interview.
today, I got an offer from:
the company that Imran works for — interview number 1. the position is “Administrative Assistant,” and they offered me the position.
$15 an hour which translates into 30k annually,
free health/dental/vision screenings,
3absent days, 6sick days, holidays.
We do get some bonuses.
And, it says:

Health Benefits eligibility for insurance benefits is contingent upon hours worked.

Benefits will begin the first day of the month following 90 days from date of hire.

Health Insurance

PPO Plan or High Deductable Plan See Human Resources for costs.

PPO Plan Rx Drug Program

$10.00 Generic $30.00 Brand Formulary
$60.00 Non-Formulary Generic or Brand

Life Insurance

Equal to annual earnings or $15,000 (whichever is greater). Maximum benefit $100,000.
(All company paid)

Dental Insurance

Company pays for employee/See Human Resources for dependent costs

VSP Vision Plan

Company pays for employee/See Human Resources for dependent costs
Long Term Disability
All company paid.
403(b) Plan (Pre-Tax Retirement Savings)
All employees are eligible for the voluntary 403(b) plan.
Company match is currently 25% of employee contribution after one year (minimum of 1000 hours) of service.”
(I know that the insurance is through Anthem).
So, do I take it?

Hubby says “yes.”
I had my reservations: ones which seemed quite foreign to him.

1. I did want to work more in a social work field – this is in office and sales
2. I did not think that it was a good idea to say “yes,” and then, if the other job came through, I would have to quit the first.
But, Imran was almost amazed that I did not just take the offer on the spot. “with the current economy…..”
“You know how hard it is for blind people to get a job…..”
“You have been praying for a job…..”

“You act ungreatful….”

I just wanted someone to understand.
sometimes, I think that my desire to volunteer and serve the community in a positive way eludes him. and, I won’t be teaching English anymore, either because that was on Tuesday afternoons.
I don’t think that he sees the value of volunteer work, anyway.
“If they are not paying you, you shouldn’t do it!”
(but, that last comment might be just me writing while I am in a place of frustration).

maybe he just has no concept of my deep desire to assist those who are in need. I mean, I don’t have sympathy, I try for empathy and I believe that it is a good purpose: what we are all called to do in some way. and, I feel that it is a job where I can “connect” with people. I am more interested in making a difference in the lives of others than making the all mighty buck.
Money is great! But, there is something more.
I can’t imagine a person who doesn’t feel that pull to give of themselves by sharing their knowledge, resources, wisdom, etc.

Of course, he is right. I should take the job. After all, why would I apply for a job that I am not willing to take.
and, they have not called me for the second interview, yet. and, in my last discussion (at my interview last week) they said that they were looking to fill the positions quickly: which perplexed me because I could have taken any of the three openings and been glad. and, if they were looking to fill them quickly…. … and i had the right qualifications…. … and the right experiences…… ????

Granted, the company is going through changes and that could be good or bad.
It was not the general decision that I had a problem with.
I am quite nervous (office duties is not my fortay and I’ll have to work a bit to understand all of the software, filing, etc).
and, I actually asked my daughter and family because I did want their opinion and wanted them to feel as if they could talk with me about this decision.

It wasn’t that I was not going to take the job… …
it was just…. ….
I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to have my feelings and thoughts understood.
Again, it was not the final decision. It was the fear of starting a new job, the desire for the other position, the swirl of thoughts and feelings that I wanted him to understand.
i was more astonished at the fact that he didn’t understand my heart.
Maybe it was speaking a language that he just doesn’t understand.
I wonder what language we will be speaking when we discuss money matters?
We have discussed it before:
but, it seems that reality is much different than hypothetical discussions!
Wish me luck!

blind flight: reaching for integrity: descent into anxiety

July 14, 2010

July 9:
This was the last day that we would be in texas. I hoped that Kyler had a good time in Dallas.
We had seen a prototype of the car that blind people would drive, heard about a blind doctor, understood innovations in technology to help blind people read probes and become scientists and tried to get a handle on global accessibility when it comes to reading materials for blind people.
I will write more about the nfb, but today I want to talk about our flight home.
Ok, the flight was at 6:15 in the morning. Everytime I have flown in the past, I have had to wait at the gate for an amazing amount of time. I despise the “hurry up and wait,” concept. We must hurry so that we can wait. Basically, this says that someone’S time is more important than yours. The airlines and the pilot’s time is much more valuable than yours. I had planned to be there an hour early and thought that this would be enough.
So, we checked out at 5:00 in the morning. But, the first challenge was finding a taxi. I thought that there would be a plethora of taxi cabs waiting for us when we emerged from the hotel. I was wrong. It took us fifteen minutes jus to get a taxi. .
We got to Lovefield airport at about 5:40. Then, Delta does not have a keyosk out of Love Field Airport, so we had to go inside. We found this out after about five minutes. The agent had already left to board the passengers. We were stuck. There was nothing that we could do.
There were two other customers who had also missed their flights. One was quite vocal about his disappointment.
At about 6:15 (when the plane was suppose to leave) The agent pulled me aside and said that he would find another flight for us and wave the $50 fee for both Kyler and I.
Frankly, I didn’t have the extra money. The hotel had not reimbursed me (yet) for the $250 for incidentals that I had not used. I did not have any extra money. I was already trying to save as much money as possible when I went to dallas by buying food at Kroger’s instead of eating in those expensive restaurants. I did not buy one keepsake for any of my family members. I would have liked to buy DJ, Dominika, LaTroi, my mother and father something. I avoided technology exhibits altogether so I would not be tempted to get Imran something. And, I wanted to find Kyler a Dallas hoody. But, I knew that I did not have that type of money. It was a blessing just to be able to come to Dallas: spend money for the hotel and eat.
I already paid for the taxi over after the paratransit would not get me to the airport in time.
The taxi was $22 while public transit would have been $3.
I knew that we still had our luggage to check.
And, I don’t have any credit cards. I had seriously thought about taking one out especially for this trip, but I didn’t.
I had to watch my money.
We had also packed snacks in our bulging carry-ons. My luggage was much more full than when I came; but that was because I had stuffed as much NFB free literature into my luggage. I tried to get at least one of each Braille and print kernel book.
So, when the agent offered to wave our fees: my first feeling was gratitude.
Then, I felt a stab of injustice. After all, weren’t these two guys in my same position? Was I so deserving of such a favor? Why did I receive such a favor and not them? Was I cheating them by taking this favor? Most people would have said: “Go ahead and take it! Don’t have a second thought.” But, what if I was the guy behind me? … or in front of me, for that matter. What if he was going to see his family (whom he had been apart from for quite sometime). What if he had tried to make it to Lovefield on time, but traffic (possibly even my very own taxi) had prevented him from getting here on time? Was I being fair to take the waved fee when he could not? Furthermore, we all had committed the same mistake. We all did not adhere to the 90-minute rule.
I tried discussing this with my seventeen year old son and he thought that I was crazy.
Later, as I told friends, I could hear their amazement when I said that I had misgivings about accepting the help.
What if the agent just waved the fee because I was blind? What if there was a bit of pity for me which drove him to act? Does this matter? Well, it does to me, even if many of my friends and family do not share the same feelings.
They say: “I don’t care.” “I’d take it with no second thoughts.”
I did take it.
But, I did so because frankly, I don’t have a job and I don’t have the money to exercise my ethics. Or, do I?
Should I have stood by my values despite my circumstances. Although pride does play a part in my discomfort; a bigger part was the fact that I was endowed with a privilege that the other passengers did not have.
Imran and I were discussing it while I was waiting and Kyler was listening to music on his I-pod.
“you seem ungreatful.” He says.
That is not it at all. I certainly am greatful! I realize that the agent might get penalized for this. I don’t know what is all involved in his waving of the fee. I don’t know how he will justify this decision. I don’t know what consequences that it will have for others. I just know that I am receiving a favor/privilege/assistance that others do not have and will not get.
And, honestly, although the agent was not there when we came to register, the point is that the E:ticket says to be at the airport 90minutes before boarding and I neglected to follow their advice. As a result, it was my mistake and should have to suffer the consequences; just like everyone else.
Imran made a good point later .
although I did not experience monitary consequences, I certainly did face them in regards to time.
I did not get to the Indianapolis airport until 10:30 that night. I knew some NFB members from Indiana who left at 4:00 A.M. and arrived in Indianapolis at 12:00 midnight. It took them about three hours longer to get to Indianapolis. We waited around in the Memphis airport for the longest time. We even got on a plane that was to take us to Cincinnati and had to exit the plane do to navigational complications.
So, in reality, I did suffer consequences and have learned my lesson about being late.
After Imran and I argued about it for sometime (in which case, I was regretting even bringing it up because no one really understood my ethical dilemma with accepting the agent’s offer), he did make some good points.
Maybe this was God’s blessing and I was over analyzing it.
Would God give me a blessing that would be unfair to others?
But, only God knows the situations of those other two customers.
Maybe I was getting a blessing. After all, I had already felt bad enough about my privilege and maybe my lesson is better learned this way than any other way.
Good point..
I really feel uncomfortable receiving privileges that others do not receive. I want to be treated justly: no more, no less.
But, is justice really “equal” or “equitable?” And, when God gives me blessings that he does not give others, should I shun them because others do not have them? Am I really turning away God’s equitable justice in favor of my supposed equal (but humanly flawed) justice?
I feel that no one will understand my desire for equality. Afterall, I don’t know how to equitably distribute justice, so it must be equal across the board.
But, maybe this is God’s job and not mine.
Imran suggested that if I felt that bad about such a situation,
I should go to the two men and share my gift: giving them some money to assist them in their fees. But, there are two problems with this.
1. The agent spoke with me confidentially and I could not do such a thing without letting them know what he had suggested. In fact, I would be putting his job at risk for his kindness.
2. They probably would not take my money – money which, actually, I only hyave in my mind and not in my bank account.
So, when all is said and done: I accept the help, respond with emmense gratitude and resolve to try to make the trip home a good one. This last commitment would not be easy. I had a grumpy teen who hates to fly and retreats into his music. He would not eat until we arrived in Indianap;olis. And, on one of our flights, we had an even more grumpy child who did not mind expressing his distaste for flying quite vocally, I might add. thus, my efforts at helping him adjust to the boring and frustrating hours ahead will be of no consequence and only serve to annoy him and compel him to withdraw even further.
3. I make several attempts to make the best of the situation by offering some options of exploration, food, providing stimulating conversation and redirecting his thoughts. In the end, we both sit in silence: him in his world of hip hop and me visiting the selections of “The Time Traveler’s wife,” (which I am still not thrilled with), “The Church of Facebook,” (which is interesting in a business kind of way), “The Things that we do for love” (A bbc production which I view with disappointment – yet a bit of interest) and songs from Atif Aslam and Sonu Nigam
After missing our plane, sitting in a cold airport (Texas seems to keep their buildings extremely cold for some reason), a screaming child, two planes that needed repairs, an overbooked flight which almost made us stay in Memphis for another night, we finally made it home. We certainly did not forsee those events happening. But, we finally emerged with a lesson learned.


contact with mixed company: forging respect

June 26, 2010

Everytime I try to edit this post, WordPress does not let me. I have tried to edit it many times… even before my first comment. This is my last attempt.
Now my computer has crashed again and I forgot all of the great inserts that I had made. I guess, I will have to try to remember the good parts and move on. I thought that my last edit was quite good, but, as I said, it is stuck on another broken computer. If all of those broken computers could talk… … …

I have read many intercultural blogs and I have not read much about the differences in male/female relationships. I have read about one woman’s husband who is a male feminist. But, rarely do people talk about opposite sex interactions. So, I suppose that I must assume that either
1. everyone has very understanding husbands who have assimilated to American values when it comes to opposite sex relationships:
2. The wives have surrendered to their husband’s’ views concerning opposite sex interaction.
or 3:
No one feels comfortable talking about such issues and they prefer to act as if they do not exist.
Of course, Possibilities 1 and 2 might have happened in a few cases.
and, if one partner converts to Hinduism, Christianity or Islam(or neither are of any religious affiliation at all — or at least a quite liberal one), their values might change also. I realize that rules about gender interaction are wrapped up in religion as well. A conservative person will have some strict rules about regulations and roles of each gender. Thus, when both are the same religion, there may be “few” conflicts in this area. Also, if both are rather conservative or rather liberal, there may be comparable views about interactions between genders.
Are we the only ones?
I was a pretty conservative Christian and he is a somewhat liberal Muslim. Yet, I must admit that Imran and I have talked extensively concerning this very thing. We had different views on interaction betweeen the genders.
For example:
Dancing with people from the opposite sex is common in america. From Ballroom to Step, dance has been a way of opposite sex socialization.
Yet, he would never go to a dance. Now, I am not asking him to salsa or step? I am thinking ballroom or square (how lame is that???)
But, he has strict rules for himself about physical contact between the genders. Even if it were just dancing with me.
“Let’s take a ballroom or swin dancing class?”
1. he would not want to dance with me in public some of this could be because he feels awkward learning to dance and is afraid that he is getting it wrong. But, some has to do with the personal nature of dancing.
2. he certainly would not want me dancing with other men. no explanation needed.
Now, many feel that there is no harm in dancing.
But, that kind of physical contact and closeness between men and women, he finds just inappropriate in public.

So, I forego dancing in public.
Now, this does not bother me much. I was never a “dancer.”
Sure, ballroom dancing and square dancing were fun. And, I must admit, it was a bit exciting to dance with a guy: even if it was only taking his hand or feeling his arm loosely around my waist. So, I understand about physical contact.
But, honestly, before Imran, I didn’t dance much.
Would I love to learn more complicated ballroom dancing and to swing dance?
YES. … … especially if Imran and I were to learn it together. But, this activity is easily replaced with something else which is equally enticing to me. We have many other activities that we can share together that stimulate our minds or that provide some exercise.
So, this only slightly annoys me — on a bad day.
Yet, I can see that it would annoy others, if someone enjoys the dancing scene.
(yet, the blogosphere is silent)
Let’s take swimming for example.
I remember the scene in “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” where the main character, Changes, is witnessing his love Erica sunbathing topless on the beach. He swims with her also and later with some hesitation and patience, enjoys the freedoms of having an unrestricted relationship. . Later, close to the end of the book, he daydreams of her being in Pakistan with him. Of course, it has been suggested that “Erica,” is not only a beautiful girl, but a metaphore for “America,” and in that vein he will always miss and daydream about America, even when he is in Pakistan.
But, in reality, if the daydream had materialized, the situation would unfold quite differently. I imagine cultural values would clash and he would find her boldness about the removal of clothing quite embarrassing. The main character, Changes, does not touch on changing values of respect, transformations about modesty and if, in fact, although he enjoyed her boldness in the matter, he still would find it “inappropriate for a real lady.” The one thing that we do get from the book is that cultural expectations and values collide.
I’m an American. I am use to swimming in a swimsuit without any regard to others in my vacinity. His comments:
“Even if guys don’t try to touch you (and I am sure that it is hard for them not to do so), they want to. They think about it. In their mind, they are thinking about what it would be like to do so. And, they are not just “looking” They are ogling (and although blind guys can’t see you, thus, can’t “ogle,” they have an active imagination) and wonder what it would be like to touch…. etc. Why would you want someone imagining you in such circumstances? Don’t you think that they are fantasizing about you… … just a bit? And, doesn’t that make you feel uncomfortable to know that someone is imagining what it would be like to make love to you –(and have sex would be the more appropriate term) or at least touch your body?” I’d like to say: “I am certainly not the subject of some lurid fantasy!” I’d like to argue with him on this point: but, I can’t. I can’t tell him that guys are desensitized to women in skimpy clothing and that they no longer care. He would trod out the media and how sexual advertising has become. He would remind me of all of the strip clubs and “hooters,” that are around America. I’m up for a good debate as much as the next woman; but, I want a reasonably good chance that I can win. And, Lying has never been my strong suit. Honestly, I don’t think about guys’ fantasies much. I just want to enjoy the water and swim. Yet, the fact that I don’t want to think about the fantasies of others does not mean that they don’t exist. It just means that I ignore them. I did not have a reply for this except:
“so, if you saw Rachel (a friend of mine) in a swimsuit, you would start fantasizing about her????” He wouldn’t respond and I let it go. The best that I could get out of him is that he would not put himself in a situation where there would be scantily clad women (Rachel included) around so that he wouldn’t be tempted to fantasize. — [good answer, but I think the answer to my question is an indirect “yes”]. But, even if he would be tempted, he circumvents the entire situation. Maybe he does not want me to know that he might be tempted by another woman. But, actually knowing that you might be tempted and circumventing (sorry for the same word twice, but I am not thinking of vocabulary) the situation is even more admirable.

and further, I say, “I don’t care what they are thinking. I just want to enjoy the water and as long as they don’t touch, then, they can keep their thoughts to themselves. But, even this is a bit incorrect. I really don’t want them imagining such intimate situations with me. and, I do say that I am sure that they try to control themselves. Yet, bikinis make it quite difficult. The water feels awesome against my skin. Besides, if I curtailed my innocent enjoyment just because they could not keep their desires in check, then, I might not come out of the house or speak to them ever. Where do the regulations end? Should I not talk to men because my voice might titulate them?”
I do make some valid points.
But, when it is all said and done: “NO, I don’t want guys ogling me in such a way — or in the case of blind guys: wanting to touch … etc… (just a quick brush against the breast — whoops, sorry it was an accident).”
And “blind,” does not mean “all the way blind,” many blind guys are partially sighted and can see what I am not wearing up close. So, even if we stayed within the blind population; there are still problems. It is not just the “seeing,” per sey, it is the imagination. I still have my feelings about it being the guys’ responsibility to keep his fantasies in check. And, why should I sacrifice my desire to feel the water and enjoy the coolness of swimming just because guys don’t have self control? After all, you don’t see me wondering and fantasizing about the guys in their swim trunks. and I reassure him that I don’t. It doesn’t even pop into my head. Of course, he reminds me that guys are more visual and even blind guys have a visual imagination. he should know, he is one of them!
Yet, I don’t want to overstimulate them. I have to set the boundary between my freedom and enticing others.
I must admit that swimsuits (even the one piece modest ones with an accompanying skirt that i wear) — (wore) do show lots of skin and that can entice guys.
In addition, he still feels uncomfortable knowing that other guys are seeing me with very little clothes on and having such thoughts.
when all is said and done, I have agreed to either
A. swim with females only — or
B. swim with the clothes of a Muslim woman (minus the head covering).
I did find a “muslim Swimsuit,” at
This is made by an australian woman.
But, it is quite expensive and other muslims say with distain: “not necessary.” because you can just swim in light clothing.
(shakes her head and lifts eyebrows: how cumbersome is that — heavy clothes on your body?)
Would I feel a bit odd doing so? Yes. But, I will get use to it and eventually, I would relax. Besides, I will still be enjoying the water. I don’t actually “swim” anyway. I just float and enjoy the feel of the water. Yet, I have considered swimming and or water walking to get back into shape because there is little pressure on the bones. So, I am not sure how to navigate that one — unless I find a women’s only group who water walks

And, this was a big thing for him. It is more of an issue for him than it is for me. If I swim, it is probably two times a year. A female friend has offered her pool to me and I might take her up on it; but there will be no guys present. They are all out working!
I am a part of organizations where there are many men. I go to conventions, conferences and events without Imran. He tends to worry lots. It is not “jealousy.” Ok, maybe a bit of Jealousy. But, I have seen him do the same with his sister. He asks that I call when I arrive and if I am going to be late for our routine chat. At first, it felt as if he did not trust me. I can’t say with certainty that this was not the case. But, I can say that we have had to work out a system that makes both of us feel comfortable. I have agreed to call him when I arrive and call him each evening before I turn in for bed. I will send him my agenda and tell him my plans for the coming days. I enjoy doing this and have no difficulty in doing so. It comes up in conversation, anyway. It is not as if he has dictated such strengent commands. I want to share my day and all that happens in it. Much of my next day’s agenda just comes up in conversation.
He has agreed not to worry, not to call my friends asking why I have not called or if I am ok because I have not called yet.
He will wait for my txt or phone call. He does support me in the things that I want to do and wants me to succeed and excel. He talks about being this way: even when his father went to work or when his mother was out.
1. while socializing, if I am invited to dinner or such by a male, I should not go alone (preferably both males and females will join us). There should be four to eight people at dinner. The more and the more diverse, the better.
2. i don’t go to bars unless the entire group that I am traveling with is going and strongly insists. I do not drink alcohol. I made this decision before Imran, so I am not sacrificing alcohol for the relationship: per sey. But, I realize that others do drink alcohol and sometimes their judgement is a bit hazy. Their judgement might effect their reactions toward me, so I need to be on my guard at all times. Of course, I find the women in the group and stick close to them. I enjoy finding and talking to women. I am not a flirt by nature. So, this is quite acceptable to me. And, I try not to stay long. this does not mean that I don’t talk to the guys. This just means that I am careful and don’t put myself in potentially dangerous situations… but, within reasonI don’t shut myself up in a hotel room because I might have a dangerous encounter, either.
3. Only women are permitted in my room. That is, of course, unless the men are family members — my sons or father. Of course, if Imran is there, then, we can invite a group over. And, if there are my sons or father, then things are a bit more laxed, but still care needs to be observed. Yes, I usually get a room by myself.
4. when a man does make a pass or cross the line, or when any of these other boundaries have been compromised, I will truthfully tell Imran. It won’t result in blaming me. Now, you all have seen at least one picture of me. It is not like I am a model or even close. I don’t want to give the impression that I am always being hit upon or that men find me extremely attractive. And, I try to be quite modest in my dress: not drawing attention to my appearance. I did this before Imran. In fact, we talk about such circumstances before they might happen and I tell him my strategy for minimizing such happenings. But, he can’t blame me if a guy does step out of line with his comments. And, I will firmly put him back in line. I have promised to tell the truth, but in return, he has promised not to hold me responsible for the thoughts and actions of other men. These things are quite complicated and I will admit that most women will think that I am being crazy and either
1. allowing Imran to impose restrictions on me
2. imposing restrictions on myself which are not necessary.
I want to say that if Imran were Christian, I would behave similarly. Of course, there are some residuals of Islam, but most of my behavior was decided before Imran had come along.
I try to be modest in my dress and speech and try not to give the wrong idea about my intentions. I believe that flirting is not only dangerous, but suggests (even for a microsecond) something improper. Before Imran, I had not thought about the swimming issue. I suppose that I was modest by American standards, but probably quite liberal by Pakistani standards.
I know American women who are married to American men who don’t tell their husbands the truth because they are afraid of the backlash.
I think that many American men feel as …. … let’s say, Pakistani men … do.
I mean, they might not want other men to see their wives/sisters in skimpy clothing and they might feel uncomfortable when their wives flirt with others. It is just that they believe that they should not feel this way, so sometimes they suppress it.
These men are afraid to show their emotions because they are afraid that women will call them cavemen. And, no one’s freedom should be compromised for someone else’s feelings.

When thinking of our regulations on opposite interactions, These are actually common sense rules and I have no trouble with them. But, I need to admit that we have had to have many conversations to arrive at this dialog. Would I have had the same conversations if I was in a relationship with an American or christian man? … … maybe!, but then again, probably not.
The american man would value freedom above all else and since we have grown up in skimpy swimsuits, etc, he wouldn’t have a problem with such situations.
and, if he did, it probably would take him longer to admit that he had such a problem.
Or, he might handle it by doing a bit of “interacting” of his own.
Now, according to American standards, I am quite modest in my dress. But, there is a gap between conservative Americans and liberal Pakistanis, sometimes.
You can’t just assume that your guy (especially if you are in an intercultural relationship) has the same values that you do when it comes to interactions with the opposite sex, responsibilities of the opposite sex and modesty when around the opposite sex.
I remember when I first read:
“In the name of Honor,” by Mukhtar Mai.
This is a telling story about a Pakistani woman who was gang raped and took her rapists to trial.
This book got us talking about
how women handle rape in Pakistan, if a woman is ever partially responsible for a man’s actions, the differences in American and Pakistani legal systems, why women would commit suicide if they were raped, the fact that many women would rather die than be violated in such a matter, men’s reaction to a woman if they know that she has been raped and many other women’s issues surrounding sex, violence and their rights. I must admit that our discussion did not yield total agreement. … But, as we grow, we both conceid some points.
{I love reading books and talking about them with Imran. We talk about many social issues and flush out all of the possibilities! That is one of our strengths — but that does not mean that we always agree and this fact doesn’t make me a harlet or him a cave man!}

I have had these discussions before in very integrated settings: both inside and outside of academia. Imran suggests that when men and women casually and openly talk about such intimate subjects, they cut out the “special ness” from the activity and are just left with a physical act that yields instant gratification. If a man or woman shares such details such as personal body dementions, specifics about previous sexual experiences, the number of sexual partners etc, then he/she really has nothing to share with the current partner that has not been shared with everyone else. He wonders why people are so cavalier about talking about such an intimate and personal subject that should only be shared between two people. Imran admitted that he would never (in a normal Pakistani situation) talk about such issues as “sex,” in mixed company. Pakistani women would not feel comfortable and frankly, neither would pakistani men.
In fact, parents don’t talk about sex with their children, either.
(But, that is an entirely different post). In the beginning of our relationship; when we were talking and learning about each other; I brought up women’s issues, sex and all sorts of contraversial topics(drugs, prostitution, pregnancy out of marriage, euthenasia, ethnocentrism, racism, sexual freedom, church&state, child rearing, alcohol, white privilege, feminism, clubs for men, caring for the elderly, piercings&tattoos, accountability (individual and collective), contraception, law enforcement, GLBT, polygamy, legalizing marijuana, the prohibition on alcohol, societal norms, individualism verses collectivism, differences in sexual expectations, disability&independence, gender roles, equality verses equity, pornography, extended families, child marriages, masturbation, patriotism, house husbands, intercultural adoption, self defense, begging&dignity, capital punishment, what is included in the definition of adultery, circumcision, etc). I ask Imran later if he thought that I was too bold for delving into such topics. He says that he just expects this from Americans, so he didn’t think twice. But, he does not talk about such subjects with others…. not even some of his guy friends. Sometimes, he says that he has not thought about things in such depth. He just accepts things the way they are. But, I notice that there are differences in American and Pakistani guy talk.
1. while they might talk about sex, they don’t seem to make it personal.
2. they never kiss and tell.
3. They never talk about contraversial issues in mixed company. (I am not sure about patriotism, Islam and/or war).
4. when I ask about guys and their personal relationships: Imran just doesn’t know. “How is Salman’s engagement coming? Is he looking forward to finally being married? Has he talked with you guys about his anxieties about marriage (I was not specifically referring to sex)? How is Shahzad’s wife’s pregnancy coming along? Is he worried about having his first child?” “What about Atiq’s sister? Would he want her to come with him to study? What does his family think of his stay in America?” Imran just doesn’t know. He does not talk about such things. I have tried finding out all sorts of things about his friends’ wives, sisters and families and have hit a brick wall. So, even same sex relationships and communication is a bit different between americans and Pakistanis. The men just don’t talk about their families. I am not sure whether this bothers me or not. But, it really doesn’t matter because it is not going to change.
and, as a girlfriend/fiancee I must accept this fact and move on. “yes, they do know about me.” So, it is not that he is keeping me a secret. I have talked to his friends and he has skyped them when he was visiting.
To be honest, there are still sometimes when we are in mixed company, that he misunderstands my interactions. And, if the truth be told, I misunderstand his. He is quite quiet and reserved and I am worried that he is not enjoying himself. So, I try to include him. Or, sometimes, I think that he wants to keep a low profile and he really wants me to be more inclusive.
I might be interested in a man’s subject matter or admire a man’s specific qualities; but, it makes him feel rivaled.
There are also times when men make an offhanded flirtacious comment and I choose to ignore it(and sometimes deny it), but he knows that they are being flirtacious which bothers him. Similarly, he is much more understanding than he use to be when I respond to men in mixed company. He does not assume that I am interested in them as a partner. He understands that I can admire a specific quality; but that does not mean that I am comparing Him to the man in question. Yet, it is embarrassing to him if I were to praise another man too much.
We admit that there are some qualities that we admire in others that we don’t see in each other.
He can certainly find American women who cook better Pakistani food and who speak much better Urdu than I do.
In his defense, he never verbalizes it. Sometimes, it seems that it is not very important to him. Yet, I know that it is when I do it. I am the one who notices it and remarks. “Wow! I admire her Urdu skills. I wish that I could speak so fluently!”
But, I have learned not to so openly admire the quality of another man because it does make him feel uncomfortable doing so.
He has learned that if he has a problem with my speech or actions; he can calmly come to me and talk about it. He does not need to assume that I want or am fantasizing about this guy just because I find his abilities or character admirable.
I have learned to try to be more reserved in my expression and praise.
We both want to make sure that we are not compromising too much of ourselves; yet, we are compromising “partially” so the other feels more comfortable.
This is a balancing act and is always in progress.
Sometimes we fall! Sometimes it is me and sometimes it is him. This process requires respect for the other person put before our own desires. If I told him that his feelings were unwarranted or that he was overacting and I would continue acting as I have always done – then, he would continuously feel as if his feelings are not as important as my desires.
and, if he demanded that I do things his way, I would feel stifled and as if he didn’t trust me to make good decisions in mixed company.
There are probably those Americans who would say that I am too submissive and I need to reassert myself as an independent woman. They will worry that I have compromised too much of myself.
Similarly, there will probably be those Pakistanis who will want to tell him that he is playing with fire. If he is not careful, I will walk into a situation that disrespects him. And, I probably don’t respect him because I am not yielding to his strong suggestions in such a sensitive area. If I don’t respect him in this, then, am I going to respect him in secret?? (I know the implied question).
Yet, he is comfortable in his stance.
And, I am, as well.
When I start sacrificing my activities and my abilities for his happiness, then, I am sacrificing too much.
For example: If I was to sacrifice my …
volunteering or career or time with family , just because it made him uncomfortable, then, he would be taking away a very important part of my being.
He knows how much communicating with others, being productive, family relationships and serving the community means to me.
So, he would never request that I discontinue because of his insecurities…. if he had any.
But, if I don’t recognize, understand and modify my interactions out of respect, he will feel disrespected by the very one who is suppose to lift him up. He will begin to wonder if I have alterior motives for my actions.
If I know that something that I do makes him uncomfortable and I continue to do it; then, I am telling him that my freedom is more important than he is. Yet, if he were to treat me like a child or his property, then he would be degrading me to the status of an object. This he would not do, either. So, we reach for compromises. we don’t “Throw the baby out with the bath water,” so to speak.
I must also admit here that there are no double standards. If Imran feels uncomfortable with me doing something, he does not do it himself. If I feel comfortable doing something, I expect Imran to do it also. If he does not want me skinny dipping with men, then, he must not swim naked with women. And, if I think that it is perfectly acceptable to go out drinking with men, then I should not compllain when he shares alcoholic beverages after the workday with his female colleagues. Of course, I am going to extremes, but my point is made.
Ok, rereading this post, it makes me sound like a bold flirtacious flaunter and he as a tyrantical insecure foreigner. That is not the case. Yet, there are still some gaps between our views and ones that need to be addressed and navigated through.
I am still amazed that no one else has written on this topic.
Nonetheless, as vulnerable as it makes me feel: I want people to know that this does happen and this is the way that we have handled such things. I notice that the majority of women have probably grown up as I have and I am certain that not all Indians/middle easterners/Asians/Africans/Pakistanis adopt western mindsets when they come to America. Culture is woven into the fabric of who we are and can’t be changed just because another wants it to be. This is true specifically for cultural ideas about relationships and gender roles. I’m not Pakistani. I’m not ever going to similate a Pakistani woman’s actions, responses, values or behaviors. At first, I tried and thought about changing to act more “Pakistani.” (or better termed: less american) But 1. it just won’t happen. I will never measure up. And, shouldn’t he like me the way I am? After all, this is who he fell in love with and although we all change a bit; if one person is trying to make significant changes to the other, then, there are problems. and 2. I can’t. it is not good for me to change that much… … especially when I would just be doing so out of respect and not because I actually valued such things. With the swim suit issue: as much as I don’t want to admit it: he is right. So, I have radically changed, but not because he said to do so: because he makes good points and I have changed my stance because I do feel that he is correct on this issue. He knows and accepts my american-ness — most of the time. And, he knows that he can’t always prove me “wrong.” (as in the swim suit issue). . But, I feel that I have to walk a line between respect and freedom. Sometimes, I don’t even see the line and at other times, I might feel as if I am walking a tight rope. It is easier to put respect before any freedom if you know that the other person is also putting your happiness or desires before their feelings sometimes. I don’t want him to always feel disrespected and uncomfortable, either. I must also realize that he is modifying his views, also. I know that there are times when he is unsure, yet he yields. . BTW., he has never put any restriction on my socializing. He tells me his discomfort and we find some kind of compromise. That does not mean that we can’t come to an agreement. But, we have to scrutinize our actions and our feelings behind such actions. We have to evaluate our culture and our values and discuss the feelings that surround these values and analyze what it would mean for us ithese values were modified. Sometimes that is just tiring. It takes lots of thought and energy. Sometimes, we just want to act and react without evaluating ourselves. So, I know that this is easier said than done. It also requires that we try to look at another point of view and that we know that we are not always “right,” or that we will get everything that we want. There are times when we just want to be stubborn. (Or, should I use a singular pronoun here)? This balance and this compromise is much easier to talk about than it is to achieve. We seem to only want to compromise when the thing that we are giving up is of little importance to us. But, in the end, at the end of the day, if you can struggle through it, it is worth it!
We also analyze assimilation and those who have either gone too far — or who seem to be stuck in their own culture; oblivious to the culture that surrounds them. I realize that Imran, himself, has to keep that balance between his Pakistani culture and the American culture.
I joke with him that he is becoming “american,” because he wants the air conditioner on. when he visits: I want to keep it off to save moneyand he wants it on because — it is too hot and humid in Indiana. When he first got here, he would ridicule Americans for thinking that 80degrees (f) is hot.
He says: “it is not the heat, but the humidity.” “I say Yeah, right, I’m not buying it! … … he is freon dependent and he knows it.” Now, it might be the humidity, but I’m not ready to give this one up yet. (smile) And, he can’t use the computer as a scapegoat either. (“It is just not good for the computer to be over 75degrees F.”)
Sorry about the digression.
The main point is that: All is a work in progress.
We would love to hear your stories and how you have handled interacting in mixed company.
Here are some questions:
1. Has there ever been a time when you and your partner’s views about modesty have collided? when? Do you mind sharing your story?
2. Have you changed your views or your habits about interacting with the opposite sex since you have been with your partner? Has your partner changed his/her views? What concessions have you made?
3. Do your rules surrounding such interactions change with the company that you hang with? This means: if you are hanging with Americans or westerners, do you instinctively change as opposed to hanging with your Indo/pak/nepali/Asian/African/middle Eastern company?
4. Were there times when you and your partner have disagreed about boundaries in mixed company?
5. Have you had to set some boundaries? What has led to this? Do you mind sharing your personal experiences?
6. Do you have any advice to give to others in similar circumstances?


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.