Posts Tagged ‘family’


August 21, 2012

OK, the title of this post is kind of a play on Mohsin Hamid’s “the Reluctant fundamentalist,” (smile) But, I am exploring fundamentalism (in the context of both christianity and Islam) and giving a picture and nonprofessional psychological theories). All of these opinions and theories are directly related to my own experience, but “might” be able to be applied to the experiences of others. I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughtt on the matter.
There are at least four main schools of thought in Suni Islam (I don’t know how many different schools are in shia’ Islam) and hundreds of different strands of christianity. All have different rules and Holy reasons to support their beliefs. I don’t know enough about the other religions to include them in this post, so I won’t.
what makes a person gravitate to a specific type of religion? All would pronounce that “God/ Allah” led them to this particular religion, but I believe that it is more complex than this. We are all looking for “something.” God/Allah gives us that “something” in the form of the religion that we choose. Many people, including me, go through phases and stages of fundamentalism to liberalism. I am not immune from this unsettling practice and will recount my own experiences later in this and other successive posts. but, I do think that there are certain characteristics that make fundamentalism (whether in christianity or Islam) attractive, just as there are characteristics of more liberal approaches to religion which are also very appealing. I am not naive or arrogant enough to think that I am the first who has wondered about such a thing. so, my first thought is to search the internet. I found psychological articles, but forgot DH’s password to our local library, so I can’t read them. (I hate my memory). Many of the books cited, however, either focus on Islam, Violence or Homosexuals in the context of Christianity. I have found two interesting titles that are yet to be translated into formats that I can readily access. the two titles are:
Religious Fundamentalism and Social Identity
By Peter Herriot
Published January 25th 2007 by Routledge – 144 pages
The psychology of religious fundamentalism
RW Hood, PC Hill, WP Williamson – 2005 –
If anyone has read them, please give your comments and opinions.
I am a rules person. I have always been. I put on my seatbelt regularly, don’t litter, won’t purposefully Jay-walk (sometimes my dog and/or myself have a problem with walking straight) and generally feel guilty when I do break a law, even if I find it a bit mundain. DH is not necessarily a rules person. If he can get away with not obeying them, he will. But, maybe this is dependent on the specific authoritarian. He finds American Government a bit ambiguous (as he probably does Pakistani Government) and tends not to follow rules, if he can do this without serious consequence to himself. He doesn’t disobey rules as a result of some philosophical or hunamistic epiphany. He disobeys when he feels they are not necessary. Yes, this does make him a bit arrogant. As if, he always knows the best or right thing to do and he will never suffer consequences from not obeying the rule. There are also parts of Islam that he finds difficult to follow. I won’t elaborate here, but sufficed to say, he is the last person that needs to adopt a strict fundamentalist approach. Stop! when I say that he might be adopting a “fundamentalist approach,” don’t call the FBI. This has nothing to do with violence or AntiAmerican sentaments. Yet, there certainly are more strict segments of Islam and he seems to gravitate to them. He is from the Suni School of Hanifi, and although I will elaborate about the schools of Islam — at least, touch on some of the differences and leave the rest to other more knowledgeable people in a later post; just know that Hanifis are pretty strict about some things: the role of women seems to be one of them. but, I’m jumping the gun a bit. Let me go back to my own understanding and experiences.
I understand this draw to a fundamentalistic approach, somewhat. when I was raising my children, (those Adult ones that I talk about occasionally), I admit, I was quite the fundamentalist. Let me elaborate.
*We would do devotion at least once a day — many times twice.
*When my children got into trouble, part of their punishment always required them to read, write or explain passages in the bible which supported my reasoning for the punishment.
*Only christian music (and only certain kinds of christian music because much of it sounded much too secular for me) was to be played on Sunday… … and only positive uplifting music for the rest of the week.
*No drinking, smoking, tattoos, substance use, piercings or tabacco use and limited contact with those who do because we wouldn’t want them to influence you.
*no premarrital sex, (which included any contact with certain private body parts and intimate kissing) and only group dating when you are teens(fifteen and up).
* no celebration of Halloween.
* no movies over PG rating soon turned into — no TV.
* no swearing or saying some words that aren’t actually swear words, but have negative connotations.
*dressing modestly meant not showing cleveage; nothing above midcalf (including splits); no spaghetti strap or bear shoulder and no too tight clothing.
*no working on sunday.
*eat healthy, which means limited sugar and preservatives.
*The Parent’s decision is the final one: while you might try a good debate, there is no questioning.
Those are the only ones that I can think of at the moment, but I am sure that my family would say that I was quite conservative. We attended a baptist church which affiliated itself with Southern Baptist, but in some circumstances, made every attempt to be as conservative as posible. It was only recently that the church had supported interracial marriage, yet, I know that many – most – of the members would (outwardly support interracial marriage — but wouldn’t want their child to engage in such a practice).
So, I ask myself, “what drew me to this conservative / fundamentalist lifestyle? (I’ll get to the “How did it effect your children?” and “why did I leave” questions later). I have always been drawn to the “simple” lifestyle. I rarely go shopping, don’t eat out much and am not very materialistic. I enjoy the simple things like spending time with family, card and board games and believe that relationships and communication is the key to a happy life. I wanted my children, above all, to have a good strong character. I did not want them to be caught up in the glammor and glitz of the world or think that dishonesty, deception or jealousy/envy were “just normal.” I was looking for simplicity and peace. (In fact, I continue to look for such things and even dabbled in quakerism to find it). I was looking for order, security and absolutes. Absolutes are a good way TO ACHIEVE stability. In a world of ambiguity and “shades of grey,” many people search for a solid foundation to stand on: one that does not waffle or crumble. and, I felt that I had to give this to my children, also. My life was chaotic, understandably so, after a breakup with my current husband and a move to a very small town where resources and transportation was limited. My children felt insecure. I was looking for a set of guidelines inwhich I could use to help myself and my children adjust. My own family was kind of fragmented on their support and was still dealing with the consequences of my children’s skin color. That is to say, they were still adjusting to public scrutiny and formulating their own opinions about my children’s racial and cultural heritage. surely, Jesus wouldn’t support racism or ableism or discrimination or socioeconomic preferences or…. … —
so, I looked to christianity — fundamentalist christianity for the answers. After all, God Loves everyone and if Love was the central foundation, how could we actually go wrong?? Familial peace and justice was the goal(nevermind that peace and justice have a difficult time coexisting, sometimes), success was an extra perk. You also find that the more fundamentalist a group is, the more close-knit they are. I longed for a close-knit family. It is natural to want to be a respected member of a community. You want to be “part of the whole.” with my own family being so fragmented, I wanted a family that I could count on; a family that shared my concerns and values; a family that really cared for the well being of my children; and a famly that respected me as an individual and benefitted from my contributions. I don’t think that I ever achieved my goal for “family,” and there are many contributors to these ends. to summarize, my disability, my political ideology, my views on social issues such as poverty and racism and communal hipocrasy were the most dominant factors.
Here was another problem. While I whole-heartedly supported those individual rules, especially those spoke about in the “Sermon on the Mount,” and those that advocated for justice and social equality; I didn’t realize that there was a hierarchy. In many christian circles, conservative politics trumps any other conservative values. For example: Let’s say that to negate materialism and support a simple and honest living, you limit the amount of things that you buy your children. You teach them to work for things they want. But, because you supremely believe in the ideology of capitalism, you don’t begrudge businesses from “doing whatever they must,” to make their money. Personally, you talk about giving and charity, but politically, you support cutting social programs. While “Jesus loves the little children,” the unspoken community mindset was that he must love some children more than others because racism was summarily ignored(unless it was perpetrated with malice and visible contempt), socioeconomic disparages were minimized and international concerns were met with either pity, apathy or an opportunity to convert. There might even be a time, as there was for my own daughter, where you (as in the entire community/ church family that I allowed to help raise my children), supported her decision to get on Birth control between the ages of fifteen and sixteen (the support was secret and without my knowledge), but, “you” outwardly and politically spoke out against teens having premaritral sex and “planned Parenthood.” You advocated for abstenance and scorned those who supported birth control, yet, privately, —- Well, — just this once!!!! You, the community, talked about those lazy welfare people and how the bible looks down on laziness. Yet, You would hire an affluent college student from a socioeconomic background similar to your own, as opposed to a person you supposed was “on welfare.” — and, that included myself. I could never find employment in that small town. This Hierarchy of values actually meant that those who were most accepted in the group were those who first and foremost, held similar political views. the values concerning individual living was largely left to the “individual.” I was looking for an “Acts” community. And, while I admit that no community is perfect, I found that noone really wanted to change, even if they saw where the Bible might mandate such a change. The other part of this reason is that “noone,” (at least as far as I know — with the exception of christ) has or will live the religion as purely as it has been defined in a Holy text. But, I found that many people were politically right wing, yet personally (and quite privately) they desired the exceptions that a more liberal approach would afford them. I also realized, much to my dismay that the more close knit a community seems to be, the more exclusive it also is. You can’t be “close” and “inclusive” at the same time because this “bond” relies on a shared value set — one that you would not have if you included most everyone. So, (although sometimes unspoken) there were definitely qualifications to be met for inclusion. And, at one time, I was willing to pay that price for belonging. For that time in my life, I was willing to sacrifice some of my own personal beliefs so that our family would be accepted in such a community.

tick tock watch the clock — TIME to update

February 26, 2012

There are probably almost as many songs that are written about time, as their is Love. I could probably rattle off ten from the top of my head. “time in a bottle,” “time after time,” “time for love,” “time to cry,” … And, we haven’t even mentioned books, TV shows, movies, etc.
you get the picture.
Hmm, next baby shower I plan, I’ll have to make that a game. (three minutes to write down all the songs with “baby” in the title. — then three minutes to write down all the songs you can think of with “time” in the title).
Anyway, Without time, Love, joy and sorrow would not know a beginning or an end. DH tells a story about a man who wants to speed up time. His life is like a spool of thread and whenever he wants to speed up time, he just pulls on the string.
The baby is now thirteen weeks old. I already feel like “time” is going way to fast. No, he has not hit any specific developmental stage. He does smile more and try to grab objects. He has grown out of his newborn outfits. but, it just does not seem like he has been here for thirteen whole weeks. I don’t want to pull the string, I want to slow the flow. sure, I want to pull the string when he is fussy and I can’t seem to comfort him. But, all in all, I know that we are gaining momentum and will soon be ariving at each birthday at breakneck speed. I’ll be the only one aware of our spedometer. the baby will insist that we are going too slow. and, my hair is getting “whiter” by the minute. (smile)
In other matters:
Just another blog.
I realize that not everyone wants to hear about my musings as a parent. Sure, it is part of “our” relationship, but I thought I might spare my few readers too much talk about daily baby happenings.
So, I am going to start a new blog.
I’ll let you know when it is up, just in case you want to check it out. Hey, it will probably have more pics — if that is any type of incentive!and it will chronicle all the normal baby stages. But, it also will talk about parenting as a blind person. I talk about the effects of intercultural and interfaith issues on the Baby.
I’ll still write about the baby from time to time. And, I’ll try to link to my other blog when applicable.

Precautions and preparation: traveling with an infant to Pakistan!

August 19, 2011

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

The name game!

June 20, 2011

A friend of ours was lamenting that Americans are the worst at pronunciation: especially when it comes to names. His name is “atta,” and he said that people would always call him “Auto.” this simple name could still not be pronounced correctly by most (if not all) Americans. I admit that he is a stickler for pronunciation and has told my Dh on several occasions how the Pakistanis don’t pronounce the Arabic words from the Quran correctly, either. “It is horrendous!” he would remark. Yet, — (and maybe it is just because I am a bit more sensitive than usual – but then again, maybe not!) I feel/felt self conscious about pronouncing his name and his wife’s name: “Asmaa.” To add insult to injury, the software that I use to read print: such as the software that speaks the names of my callers on my cell phone, doesn’t pronounce it right either. So, sometimes, I get use to the name being pronounced incorrectly and pronounce it that way myself, even when I know the right pronunciation.
There is only so many times you can say: “Brother/sister,” and “your wife/husband,” so I’m going to have to bite the bullet. Yet, I’ll cringe because I know that he is also cringing and mentally critiquing me!

And, then, I come to the realization that: my husband’s (and consequently, my) last name is not being pronounced correctly, either and sometimes it just gets on my ever lovin’ nerves. In fact, some people call my husband by his last name instead of his first. Other times, people get the first and last name mixed up and call him something like the Capital of Jordan. Our last name is pretty popular, even here in America. In fact: “*****” is a somewhat popular first name for men (#1000 out of 1220) and an even more popular surname or last name for all people (#3288 out of 88799). (1990 U.S. Census) The most popular year (at least in the US) was 2000. And it s currently ranked # 584 in U.S. births now, I realize that you could easily find out my last name. But, who will put forth that much effort?
Anyway, wouldn’t Americans at least have someone that they are acquainted with who have this name for either their first or last name? I live in the capital city of our state. It is also the largest city and the most diverse. Yet, I always have to spell and thrice pronounce the five letter last name. I admit that Arabs say it differently than Pakistanis. But, I would be just fine if people pronounced it as the Arabs do. In fact, I find myself pronouncing it that exact way because I think that it might be easier for Americans to pronounce in the future. First, Americans want to accent the wrong syllable. Sometimes, they switch the first and the second vowel sounds. But, even when I pronounce it for them, they still can’t seem to grasp it. That doesn’t bother me as much if I know which pronunciation is coming. But, there seems to be at least six different ways that Americans can pronounce it. And, then comes the spelling. OK, I give a pass to those who don’t work with many people on a regular basis. But, if you work in a Doctor’s office/hospital, a supposedly diverse company, a lawyers office or (God forbid) at the office of Immigration, (Yes) you should be able to pronounce this five letter name. Or at least, be consistent when you pronounce it incorrectly.
Then, we come to the topic of “baby names.” I told you, no matter the post content, there is a way that I can incorporate my pregnancy into it. I looked for a “J” girls’ name. (don’t ask why I haven’t even started on a boy name selection). (smile)
I found “Jamila,” (which DH doesn’t like and says is “too old.” And I found “Jabina,” and “Javaria,” which DH also is not happy with. I found “Jayani,” which I almost fell in love with, but … … (mistake), like Shanti, Asha, Shreyah, Shantha, and Jaydra, (All names which I considered) it is Hindu. “the shame to his parents!!!” On to other letters. I found “Najiya,” and “Nayara,” (which I like, but seem to be pronounced much differently than I thought). Sometimes, it is just an accent on the wrong syllable, like “Najia” has the first syllable accented instead of the second. And “nayara” is prounced more like “Nigh – air-a” which I still like. but Dh doesn’t like them much either. DH’s sister in Pakistan suggested Inaya (pronounced Inn-eye-ah) — It is OK. I’ll think on it. I want a name that people will pronounce correctly and they would pronounce the second syllable with a long “A” found in “way.” I don’t want something too common like Seleena, Ayesha, Mina, Laila or Sara. (no offense to anyone who has such a name). I actually like all of these selections, but they just seem to be too common in both cultures. We know a little girl Miah, so thought better of naming our daughter that name, also. since our last name starts with an A., I am trying not to have the first name start with an A., although I agree that there are some wonderful A. names. I liked Alia, but was accenting the wrong syllable. I like Amina and Alina and even the name “Ashanti,” (Whoops, that is Hindi) and the Arabic name Atiya. But, I just did not want the alliteration. I like “Sabriya,” but I don’t think that this is a name that he has heard of. This is kind of tricky. Some Pakistani names are foreign to him (like the name Shumaila) and some Muslim names (especially those from different countries) are also foreign to him. He wants a name that his family can remember and say, and I want a name that Americans won’t mangle too horribly. “Shabnab,” is not even a possibility – I am just putting it out there just in case anyone gets any ideas!!!(smile)
I think that “Samiya” is a pretty name, all be it, a bit popular. And, I still like Nayara. If I have twin girls, I just might try to convince him to have a Nayara, but spell it “Nyaera,” so people might pronounce it correctly. but his favorite name is “kiran.” (Isn’t that Hindi?) But, I learned that it has crossed the threshold from Hindi to Muslim – somewhere long ago. So, apparently, it is ok. There is one problem. In America, “Kiran,” is a unisex name and is pronounced “KY [rhyming with EYE] RUN” . I certainly *DO NOT* want a Unisex name for my child. I have toyed with the “jaKiran,” or “taQiran.” Or maybe “kiryn,” or “Keerin,” (or any variant of the four). But, I am just not sure. And, Oh, did I mention that the baby will have an American middle name???? Any suggestions????
As a side note: most baby naming sites are a plain waste of time! Either their selection is quite limited – or they put every name under the sun on their site and give it an origin and meaning which is totally nonsense. There are lots of names that they claim are “American” that I have never heard of in my life. And… …. … I use to collect names. It was a weird hobby, I admit.
For a boy: Maybe Zaryan. But, I’ll want to spell it Zarion, Zarrion, Zarriyon or Zariyon.” Or maybe “Zeeshan. I am not generally an “EEK” sounding name, but Atiq wasn’t bad. I thought about Samir or Samar. But, I am just not sure. Does anyone have lists of their favorites? Actually, I had a few lists of my own favorites (with middle names attached), but I had to scrap them because Dh did not like them at all and hadn’t heard of most of the names. He is not as adventurous as I am. If I have not heard of a name, I still judge it on whether I think that it is pretty. But, DH wants a strictly Pakistani/muslim name and since this is his first child and my fifth, I relent. Although, I reserve the right to spell it how I choose, as long as it is pronounced the way that most Pakistanis would pronounce it. In fact, some names *will* have to be spelled different so that maybe people will pronounce it correctly. For example: “Tariq,” will forever be pronounced as it rhymes with “Derek,” by most people. It is just the nature of the beast!
So, send in your top 20. That might give me some fresh ideas. Thanks.

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

May 26, 2011

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

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

The ultimate sacrifice

January 10, 2011

In most relationships, sacrifice is inevitable.
To be successful at your job, , (beyond the normal employment duties) one might have to sacrifice their values, their beliefs, their integrity, or their location. To be a good mother, one must sacrifice their time, their energy and finances.
Sometimes we don’t want to sacrifice. Or, We want to dole out our sacrificed commodity. And, “what” is really considered a sacrifice? often, The thought of sacrificing is much more appealing than the reality of such an action. After all, we do tend to romanticize the situations that surround “sacrifice.” Usually when we imagine such sacrifices; the results are often favorable. Therefore, there is a silver lining to the sacrifice which makes the sacrifice worth the effort. And, there is a notion that there is a direct link between the size of the sacrifice and the desired accomplishment. “The only question to ask yourself is, how much are you willing to sacrifice to achieve this success?” —
Larry Flynt. “Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough, You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it,” — James M. Barrie And, romantically speaking, even when the sacrifice does not yield the desired results, the one who has sacrificed is deemed a martyr for —- Love … or freedom … or truth … or something. In this way, the efforts that have made up the whole of the sacrifice have been, in some way, redeeming.

In opposition to these romantic notions, counseling books everywhere (typically those that either have a very feminist bent or those exemplifying “reality therapy”) have dispelled the notion that a sacrifice is neither admirable or noble. Usually, these books talk about the sacrifices that women make and not the ones that men make. In fact, most literature says that “women sacrifice too much” and “men sacrifice too little,” – at least as far as relationships are concerned. “Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice! That’s the condition of the female. Women have been conditioned to sacrifice for centuries,”
Betty Dodson. Much of this literature debunks any honorable attitudes surrounding the act of sacrifice. After all, they claim, women have been sacrificing for men way too many times and, let’s face it, the men are neiter reciprocating the action nor are they greatful for such sacrifices (the customary words seem to fall short of conveying real feeling). There is also a notion that has cropped up in the last twenty or so years that we should get something for our sacrifice. And, women are told not to sacrifice too much for their children for these same reasons. There is an added reason for the children, however, it is simply because we want to set a good example. We want to show our daughters that they don’t have to sacrifice and should not do so for a man (especially) or their children. I Too, have fallen into the trap of warning my family members about “the act of sacrifice.” I am always telling my daughter that she should not sacrifice her interests – those things that she enjoys doing (Music, volleyball, basketball, exercising, and baking), for her relationship. This would make her less of “Dominika” and more of “Someone’s Girlfriend.” and, I do believe that I am right to caution her. It does seem that people go to extremes: either giving an unhealthy sacrifice or not sacrificing at all. Of course, there has to be a balance, but many times, I wonder if we are teaching selfishness and fostering an unhealthy attitude of entitlement in relationships.

Yet, when it comes to a job, people are encouraged to “be adventurous” “embrace the unknown.” Sacrificing for a job is (in most cases) seen as a good move. To Americans, sacrificing for money is appropriate, but sacrificing for family is not. I wonder if it is because money is valued much more than a husband or family. After all, marriage is not valued as it once was. People seem to give up too easily. Or, at the least, the partnership seems to be unbalanced. And, since your children will always be your children; regardless of how much or how little you sacrifice, most people see no point in doing so.
[climbing down from soap box to return to original topic]. {hmm, if I could only insert an image of a person falling from a very high ledge—smile}.

I have noticed that sometimes Desi men and women have to sacrifice their family bonds for their relationship. Sometimes, women give up their high paying promising careers (ones that they might have taken years to build) to stay home with the children. Do we ever look at the naked reality of Sacrifice? When we unearth sacrifice, do we ever actually consider the possibility that we might encounter a raw wound that might grow into a festering sore, if we are not diligent about its care?

I think of my friend, Susie.
[I read many interesting blogs and she is up for an award] she has moved to Saudi Arabia with her husband. Even when her son went back to the states to go to High School, (although she visits him I think about once a year) she has made her home in KSA. her husband does encourage her to go and visit her son and even stay as much as possible until he exits high school. But, when deciding to embark on such a trip, She probably received the same sort of advice that I give to my own daughter.
I know that there are lots of American women who have married men of foreign origin and have had to move to a land where they did not speak the language and found culture and customs unlike their own. I am not trivializing your experiences. I chose Susie because there were many factors that could have inhibited her sacrifice. Susie was not young when she moved. Sure, she was adventurous. But, she was not young. I imagine that she had laid down relationship and comfortable roots somewhere. I know that she had an older daughter that she left behind. This comes at a time in her life when she (or most women even close to her age – myself included) would value security and familiarity; over adventure, new beginnings and discovering new lands with new possibilities.
It is not just the friend and familial connections; although, this is no small sacrifice because she has gone to a place where it is very difficult to forge new connections due to linguistic and cultural barriers beyond her control. She has sacrificed some of her freedom. She has sacrificed her routines, her comfort food, [should we start a comfort food campaign for you Susie??], her interests, her comfort zone and her profession. I don’t know if she feels that her self confidence has been compromised. I don’t know how it would feel to only rely on your husband for those comforts that are typically given by a multitude of family and friends. And, I don’t know if her husband is willing or able to attempt to be her emotional and social lifeline. In short, there are many questions that could be asked of Susie. Did she weigh all of the positives and negatives before deciding to make the sacrifice? Or did she instinctively make the sacrifice out of duty or affection? How much of herself has she sacrificed for her marriage? what is the outcome from that sacrifice? And, Is the beneficiary of such a sacrifice appreciative or even fully aware of the scope of such a sacrifice? I have not asked her if she regrets her sacrifice or if she resents her husband? I have only wondered how many times she must “wander,” down the lane of “what if.” (with some shame, I must admit that) I probably would make that familiar trek all too often. [mental note: I am embarrassed to admit that I am so rigidly connected to *what* I want and not able to be flexible enough to trust in the fact that, if I allow it too, my sacrifice can yield great and unexpected joys].
Rather than delving into Susie’s particular situation, we can use Susie’s circumstances as a springboard to analyze our own questions about sacrifice and how it relates to our lives and relationships. When thinking about our own sacrifices, Here are some questions that we might want to ask ourselves. [Hey, feel free to add to the list].

1. Is there a difference between a gift and a sacrifice? and What have/ are you willing to sacrifice for your marriage or relationship? (money, time, health, energy, friends, freedom, family, interests, career, intellect, pride, ego, faith, …)? And, how much of these things are you willing to sacrifice?

2. What are you *not* willing to sacrifice and why? What fears are behind your unwillingness? Are they founded or unfounded? Do you only feel comfortable sacrificing when you can control the outcome? Has your spouse or family needed/wanted you to sacrifice something that you are unwilling to give up? Was it an appropriate or inappropriate request? Why?

3. What are the obvious and unintended consequences of sacrificing such things? Or, should we even analyze the negative aspect of our sacrificing? By making such an analysis, does it somehow ruin the heart behind the sacrifice?

4. Do you expect to get something for your sacrifice, if so, what? Even in relationships, we sometimes hope that our sacrifice might yield peace, happiness, gratitude, a more loving spouse, etc. Should we have this expectation?

5. When is a sacrifice unhealthy or “not ok?” And, can you make that decision for others?

6. Should you only make a sacrifice if you can do it willingly and/or if you believe that you will arbor no resentment regardless of the outcome? And, should you make the sacrifice only if you can do it cheerfully? “The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lightens the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy: The Buddha gave up the pleasures of life because they had become painful to him,” — Mahatma Gandhi. “Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice,” —
Michael Novak

7. Can a sacrifice be conditional? Should a sacrifice be doled out and contracted like a business agreement? And, if so, What types of conditions would you impose … … and what happens if the condition has been breached. Sometimes the breach can leave the sacrifice feeling hollow. What happens then? Do you make a new agreement concerning the sacrifice? Does it make it a sacrifice if there are conditions attached?

8. Should you always talk about the sacrifice with the one you are sacrificing for so they understand the breadth and depth of your choice? In effect, should the one you are sacrificing for always be aware of and know the gravity of the sacrifice?

9. Is a sacrifice really a sacrifice if you continue to evaluate the results of such a sacrifice to determine whether it was worth it or not?

10. Can you retract a sacrifice? If so, what are the conditions surrounding sacrificial retractions? ?

No, Imran and I are not moving to Pakistan and no, he has not overtly or covertly asked me to sacrifice anything important. Hmmm, it occurs to me that I just assumed that you would suspect from this post that I was being asked to sacrifice instead of the possibility that I am asking Imran to sacrifice. In any case, we have and are not going through such a trauma. Yet, in evaluating myself, I realize that I can be quite rigid and like the idea that “I certainly would sacrifice my routine and/or comfort level and/or dreams/thoughts about the way things should go,” much more than the reality of such a sacrifice. I also realize that Imran, in most situations, is much more open and flexible to such possibilities. I am a bit hesitant to say that I “HOPE TO WORK ON THIS,” because, the only way to truly develop a skill or habit or characteristic is to practice it often. I am much more inclined to analyze and discuss than to “practice.” (smile)

our first holiday as a married couple and familial growing pains

December 29, 2010

Before reading, remember:

I have four grown (18+) children,

Imran and I are blind and have no transportation (some blind people buy their own car and look for drivers)

And imran is not a big fan of dogs. 

My family does not make plans until the last minute. I guess, I have inherited some of it because I am a procrastinator. But, they did not make plans for
Christmas until a few days before the day. Imran continued to ask about my family’s plans. It was not that he was overly excited about the day, but he
wanted to have a plan in case we needed transportation. His sister was also suppose to come down, but she is blind too, and could not find anyone to drive
her from Rockford to Chicago so that she could take the bus to Indy.

Anyway, my daughter wants to stay three or four days, but I am not sure this is such a good idea.

She does not have a car, either. So, my father drives the 60miles on a Thursday, the 23rd to pick her up. She stays until late on the 25th, but told me
that she wanted to stay until the 26th. She asked if I wanted to go.

I want to see my family.

But, I don’t want to spend that length of time with them.

list of 6 items
1. Imran is not too impressed with my father’s dogs. Yes, there is more than one and no, they are not very well behaved. He lets them up on the kitchen
table (when there is no food on it) and on the chairs. Imran is just not comfortable with this. And, YES, I feel that I should take his comfort level into
account. After all, even on short visits, they will not keep the dogs away from him and it seems that I have to vigilantly be prepared to run interference.
Now, they say that the dogs are like their family and it feels cruel to tie them up or shut them in a room.   But, these dogs do sometimes bark and growl
and jump up on the furniture. My father tries to make them mind, but it is clear that they run the household and even my father admits it with a little
laugh. They think that if they make Imran touch the dog that he will instantly change his mind and love the creatures, just as they do. I had this problem
with Jackie (A BF) when she was afraid of dogs and came to stay at my house and/or accompanied me when I went to visit my father. I have tried explaining
it, but it is no use.
2. There was not much room to sleep. Now, I have not been to my fathers for a night trip since I have been married. And, honestly, imran and I would probably
sleep co-ed style….. … just for the comfort level. But, there was not  many places to sleep. Three out of my four children were at my father’s house. Dj
could not be there because he was in Japan – (I did not say “is” because he is now taking a small trip to Australia with military friends). So, laTroi
from Bloomington, Kyler and my daughter. LaTroi slept in the recliner. Maybe there was a blow-up mattress. I don’t know. What I do know is that I was a
bit hesitant to approach the issue.
3. My father’s girlfriend (live in) and Kyler both smoke. It smells horrible and gets into my clothes. I try not to say much about it. It is their house,
not mine. But, it bothers me. And, it does not bother Imran as much. I have never let people smoke in my house. And, even most people at work are not real
big smokers – at least, you can’t smell it on them, like you can my family.
4. My eating habits change when I am at my father’s. I do watch more TV and eat too many snacks and lots of food. There probably would be lots of pork served:
not that we could not get around it, with some more accommodating on their part and after accommodating about the dogs (if they had done so) they would
not want to accommodate with this pork thing.
5. I would miss being in my own home; cooking our own food; and if I admit it, getting on the computer to check emails and things.
6. Sometimes I feel like my family still wants to treat me as a child. Even, if my father does not do this as much as he use to; there is still a hierarchy
and it seems that my daughter is above me in such a hierarchy. That makes me feel odd. I also know that imran must feel as if he is truly at the bottom
of that hierarchy, if he analyzes it at all.
list end

We just (my family and I) live differently.  Yes, I miss them and continue to miss them, sometimes.

Imran suggested that I go alone. I stood firm. “NO.” I don’t want to go to visit without him, especially since it would mean that I would be staying overnight
through the holidays and be without him.

We offered to pay (Actually imran offered without me knowing until it was done) for the gas, if my father would come back up to Indy and get us the day
of Christmas, or even the 24th. The only  catch was that we come home the same day. My father has a very old truck. Gas is expensive, I do admit that.
But, we offered to pay for the gas. Yet, my father would not come.

And, my father brought my daughter back to Indy on the evening of the 25th. But, no one stopped at my house. 

So, visiting family is strenuous, but I am not making things difficult for them, they are making things a bit more difficult for all.

Imran is sympathetic and does not like conflict. But, I am more firm on this point.  

adjusting expectations

November 27, 2010

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

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

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

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

My first Ramadan

October 7, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interfaith (continued)

April 29, 2010

It is time to begin to unravel the Interfaith questions that I have had, yet have been hesitant to blog about.
This “interfaith” discussion has plagued my existance for months.
I have not written about it because, frankly, it is too raw and I wanted a bit of prospective on it before writing.
sometimes, I am not sure if I have any prospective at all — and this is after months, yet, I must write and hopefully, in that way, process some of the
thoughts and questions that I have.
since not many are reading anyway, I am not likely to encounter opposition — although that means that I won’t encounter wise thought either.
And, I must admit that it is helpful for me to see my writing posted and then analyze it again.
For better or worse, here are some thoughts.
Today, I’ll focus on the view of Muslims in the USA and how Church folk see them.
I will try to untangle that stereotype from the actual character of Muslims that I know. 
Portions of a letter that I sent to a friend:
“intertwining politics and religion.” 
Hi Hannah,
(the name has been changed because although it is my letter, it is to my friend and I wanted to protect her identity)
You talked about each side projecting anxious messages about the other: especially when it seems that they might be reaching for a more peaceful dialog.
Yes, I agree. It is certainly prevalent here in the USA.
I know that Christians are afraid that if they are “too peaceful,” or “too understanding,” they will be friends of the world and Satan, in particular. Someone
or something must be the force of opposition that we struggle against. The bible does say that the world will be against us and that we need not fellowship
with Believers.(I will find the biblical quotes in a later post)
It seems, though that there must always be two groups of people: the good and Evil. So, for many reasons,
Muslims have been chosen as that evil group. And, it worked/works for many reasons:
1. it use to be that “Muslim,” also meant “those of different less progressive countries, those of different colors and so the “them,” was easy to oppose
because the “they” were not any of “us” —  not in color and/or  nationality. 
2. Politics and oil fueled the fire
3. we are big “freedom fighters,” (now, no one knows why we have not taken up the cause for liberation in Zimbabwe as Robert Mugabe rules– I guess no oil
or diamonds in Zimbabwe — ), but since cultural ideas (the oppression of women) are mixed with religion, we feel it necessary to fight for those women
which also puts us at odds with Muslim men.  
    For me, it is easy to stand against these. Most people can’t distinguish between cultural practice and Quranic commands. There are now many White American
Muslims, so the “enemy” that they think that they are fighting is harder to recognize: not to mention that there are Arab Christians. Yes, I do believe
that the majority of people who claim to be Christians (sorry to say) are listening to political preachers and fundamentalist evangelists who are guided
by greed and propelled by certain political groups. Some are guided by scripture and their interpretation of it.  Most people that I know either do not
know muslims or don’t interact with
them on a regular basis. And, why would they? they don’t want to be seen as befriending the world.
{James 4:4
You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s
friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.}
 So, if they must interact with Muslims, they are cordial at best.   
Strangely, though, those who have no faith at all, seem to be much more friendly and accepting of Muslims.
In some sense, they empathize with the Muslim because the Muslim, much like themselves have been judged and deemed without or even Anti  God. thus,   they
negate faith altogether and become supportive.    
I moved to a larger City. This means: more diversity, more access to pub transportation, more feeling like a number, yet more ability to connect with likeminded
invividuals. That “connecting with likeminded individuals” is a myth because I have yet to find them. Admittedly, I have not visited a mosque, where Muslims
worship, but I was looking among my own faith.  I either find those who are so rigid that the concept of an interfaith relationship is unthinkable: or
those who
believe that “Faith” is unimportant to a relationship. These extremes have harpooned me.
Actually, I never believed that Islam was a violent religion or one that oppressed women. I continue to remind people of the christian Crusades, puritans,
Salem witch trials, American Slavery and even how we use our weapons today. Islam has nothing on us: so to speak.     
Personal trials with faith and the world,
I have a dear friend — she use to be a dear friend and I called her my sister.
When I told her about Imran and I, she was supportive. Yet, over time, she has told me that God dictates that she is honest with me.  Which means that she
is quite uncomfortable with the fact that I am going to marry a Muslim. In fact, she seems to become more rigid by the day.
First, she was concerned,
then uncomfortable,
then oppositional.
So, I wonder: Where is this coming from?
Well, I don’t think that this is solely her interpretation of the bible. I don’t think that she is only standing on biblical principle.
Yet, let’s assume for a moment that she is.
The scriptures that she quotes include:
(From the Amplified bible)
2Corinthians 6:14-17
14Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your
faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? 
15What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?   
16What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and
among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive
you kindly and treat you with favor,
2John 1:7-11
7 For many imposters (seducers, deceivers, and false leaders) have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge (confess, admit) the coming of
Christ (the Messiah) in bodily form. Such a one is the imposter (the seducer, the deceiver, the false leader, the antagonist of Christ) and the antichrist.   
8Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you]
win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].   
9Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues
to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.   
10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [is disloyal to what Jesus Christ taught], do not receive him [do not accept him, do not welcome
or admit him] into [your] house or bid him Godspeed or give him any encouragement.   
11For he who wishes him success [who encourages him, wishing him Godspeed] is a partaker in his evil doings.   
Ok, now, it seems to me that John is telling the members of the Church of Syria not to accept those who were taught about christ and now deceive people
by teaching something different.
In any case, I find many more scriptures concerning our acting in love and kindness. Of course, this brings up the  question:
“is there actually inconsistencies in the bible?”
I will discuss this also further in a following post.
Just know that these are the scriptures that she condemns me with .
So, I would be marrying an unbeliever.
This is true.
But, that exact group of people that we are not to “socialize or fellowship with,”  is debateable. 
The first quoted verse, the one in 2Corinthians is the one most often quoted.
But, I continue to look for a deeper, more clear meaning of these bible scriptures.
Maybe I just don’t want to admit that  this is the true meaning and I am looking for justification.
Yet, when I remember how the bible was used to steel land, condone slavery, oppress wives,  depict dark-skinned people  as inferior, blame the disabled
for their disabilities and justify the killing of those in far off  lands, it leaves me questioning popular interpretation and compels me to search for
something more substantial.