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Monthly Archives: May 2003

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OOOOOoooOOOOOOOoooohhh…. (a sad noise, not a buffalo noise) Everyone is leaving! My friend Chai is in the States on vacation, Crayon’s going back to Europe for the summer, so are my swimming buddies from Sweden, and my Australian hijabi is going back to Australia! Nuts! Now I have to run out and make some new friends to replace the ones that are zipping off and leaving me here to melt like Asli Ghee in the heat!

The summer here is boring because everyone who can, leaves. The really rich (I mean foreigners) go back to their home countries, the medium rich rent summer cottages in Murree, and that leaves the Local Yokels like me to sweat it out and twiddle our thumbs. It was so hot today that I saw two bul-bul (a type of bird) hiding in the shade under a tiny bush and panting. They were just standing there with their mouths open, not chirping or flying or pecking anything, just panting. I shouldn’t complain though. It gets hotter in Multan and Sibbi and in most of the Middle East. I wonder what the birds do then?

It’s been an extremely busy day today, and anything I blog about will most likely be in the form of whining. Therefore I shall do my class work instead. Here, let’s make sentences with the following vocabulary words…

Vacillating: Gee, it’s so hot I need to turn on the vacillating fans!

Impede: The pir sneezed and the buffalos got scared and impeded.

Upheaval: After eating sixteen pieces of pizza the boy felt sick and experienced an upheaval.

Discourse: I asked him how long he had been studying here, and he said it was six months since he started discourse.

Posterity: What that boy needs is a good swift kick in the posterity…

It’s 9:30 and I think I’m going to pray and go to sleep. I can’t help it, I’m chronically sleep depraved.

(He he.)

I went to a tea party today and had an interesting conversation about modesty and scarfyism (aka Hijab) and I was reminded of the fact that most people have no idea what’s going on inside of my head. I assume they all know why I wear a scarf, but that’s an error on my part, I suppose. Oh well. Here’s my attempt at rectifying it.

Never, in my entire life, had I imagined I would ever wear a scarf. Being a product of American society, I believed that modesty was oppression and man’s attempt to safe-guard his chattel, viz- his women, from those who would seek to steal them. It turns out that my idea was just slightly off, that modesty is not man’s attempt at safeguarding his chattel, it is woman’s attempt to safeguard her sexuality and humanity both.

So why do women’s sexuality and humanity need protecting, because we women are weak? No, because our society is weak. And what we are protecting ourselves against? Many things, but two major ones are:

1. The misuse of the power of human sexuality.

2. The dehumanization (and subsequent abuse!) of women through the overemphasis of sexual attributes.

Sexuality has power, really? Yes, really. Advertisers know it makes the marketing world go round, and they use sex-appeal to sell everything from shampoo to shoes. The power of sexuality has become a tool used for manipulation, but this is not what God gave us sexuality for.

Ideally, the human sexual experience is a private and passionate bond, a consummation of love and devotion. Though it is not the sole component of love, it is certainly a primary ingredient, and when enjoyed within the boundaries of marriage, it is even considered a meritorious act in Islam.

Currently, however, the human sexual experience has been stripped down to an animal act. It is no longer beautiful or special, it is fast, cheap, and largely free. It comes with no strings attached, in other words, no prerequisites of devotion or love. It cheapness and availability have turned it into a marketable product, and instead of selling products, advertisers are often selling sex and presenting their products as the appropriate accessories.

Hundreds of times a day, millions of times a year, women are made to display what would normally be private sexual behavior on camera to sell, to entertain, to cheapen the power of their sexuality to such an extent that it is meaningless. The sexy woman turns and gives an alluring look to the camera. (an alluring look, which under normal circumstances, would be reserved only for the man she would be sharing her life and bed with) She blinks and smiles meaningfully, her moist lips parting over perfect teeth. (an intimate gestured reduced to the cheapness of a marketing tactic) She stares longingly at the camera, and therefore at you, and eventually sips her cola. Drink Coke.

We’ve saturated the market to such an extent that we don’t think anything of a woman’s smile anymore. Here, women on billboards and magazines smile all the time and we don’t think anything of it. And yet, in more conservative cultures, a woman’s smile is still beautiful. It seems strange doesn’t it, that the smile of a woman would be a gentle and comforting gesture, a rare and precious gift.

Everyone believes in modesty in some form or another. Some people believe it starts at the calves, because legs are attractive, and they won’t wear anything shorter than that. Some people believe it starts at the elbows, because arms are attractive, so they won’t wear sleeveless dresses. Muslims believe that modesty starts at the wrist, ankles, and face, because all of the woman is attractive. We also believe that modesty is a state of behavior and mind as well as a choice of wardrobe. I’m sure many people agree that a woman in hijab who still flirts outrageously is outside the boundaries of modesty, so I don’t think I need to explain why modesty in behavior is inseparable from modesty in dress.

Not behaving in an overtly sexual manner in public, on screen or off screen, is part of behavioral modesty, and distancing ourselves from immodesty (on TV, in films, in music videos, etc) is part of keeping our actions consistent with our beliefs. To take enjoyment from watching other people do what we believe is wrong smacks of hypocrisy, does it not?

I know I’ve wandered a bit off topic, but this all ties into why I wear a scarf, why I won’t chill with guys, why I don’t watch tv or movies, why I won’t watch women sell themselves in music videos or listen to the songs from these videos either. (You wouldn’t watch a totally anti-Islamic video, therefore you wouldn’t buy the soundtrack either, would you?) There are other reasons for why I don’t listen to haram music, but that’s another blog.

Well, now that I’ve aired some of my brains in public, I’ve opened myself up to feedback. Some of it will be criticism I suppose, from people who maintain that man is more civilized then he was in ancient times, so it’s not like we need modesty to protect women anymore. Yeah, right.

Humor me. Let’s count to thirteen.

1…

2…

3…

4…

5…

6…

7…

8…

9…

10…

11…

12…

13…

Statistically speaking, a woman is raped every thirteen seconds in the US. How can this be happening if man is supposed to be more civilized now than he was before? Because society’s sexuality is out of control right now. We’ve got sex being broadcasted at us on TV, sung about on the radio, actually done on the big screen. Man is not more civilized than he was before, he’s LESS, and because he‘s always got the engine running, he tends to behave badly. Rape and prostitution have and will always exist in society because biologically, historically, inevitably, man is a sexually-oriented animal (I mean mankind, I’m not a femi-nazi) and there will always be a need for preventative measures (modesty) to keep sexuality in its proper place (the bedroom) and under control. Khallas.

Anything good or correct I have said is from the blessings and grace of Allah, and anything bad or incorrect is from myself or Shaitan. I seek refuge in Allah and ask His forgiveness. May He has mercy on all of us.

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve sewed my new jilb, and I’ve learned that sewing involves a lot more than just….umm…sewing. It also involves-

A bit of mechanical engineering:

“Mom, I can’t get the bobbin back in.”

“Take off the stitch plate and poke around with the seam ripper.”

“I already tried that.”

“Then just beat it back in. Show it who’s boss.”

A bit of math:

Nape to waist, 17 inches. Shoulder to shoulder, 15 inches. Waist to hip slope at a roughly 70 degree angle, corresponding parts of congruent triangles are congruent…

A bit of history:

You made the same mistake last year, remember?

A bit of drama:

She closed her tired eyes and slowly lowered her head so that it was resting on the sewing machine. Could she, would she, ever finish? It seemed as though the sewing machine’s mechanical stutter had been going for hours. She could hear it even now though her foot was no longer resting on the pedal. Oh wait, yes it was, and now she had sewed her sleeve shut again. Nuts.

A bit of aesthetics:

Which shape should I use to trace the neckline, this rectangular grammar book or a scoop-necked dinner plate?

A bit of philosophy:

Abez: How much faith should one put in fellow man? Especially when that man is a tailor?

Plato: The actual is preexistent to the actual in potential.

Abez: True, but couldn’t we give him another chance? Even just to finish what we’ve started and don’t feel like finishing?

Plato: To start and to finish are interchangeable, and The Beginning and The End often masquerade as one another. You must find your own way and see where it leads you and –

Abez: Hey, who sews your togas?

Alhamdulillah, the jilb I sewed turned out ok. I did make the sleeves a bit narrow, but I’m pretending like I did that for effect. It’s a totally simple A-line, in a really deep purple that I refuse to call ‘wine-colored’ for religious reasons. Nothing I wear is wine colored, dammit. It’s really dark 100% halal grape juice colored, ok?

I’d blog more but I’m all tuckered out from sewing, and I still have to hem the sleeves, and I still have to do my class work for tomorrow. But I must include the link for the New American Century Project that I got off of a comment on Tora’s blog. This is the official (and unrepentant) site for that horrible colonialist Neo-Conservative project that I mentioned a few days back. www.newamericancentury.org

Randomness to the nth degree.

The Caliph and the delusional man

A certain man claimed to be God and was brought before the Caliph, who said to him, “Last year someone here claimed to be a prophet and he was put to death!”

The man replied, “It was well that you did so, for I did not send him.” (9th century joke)


_________

Oh…I’m too sleepy to type a real blog. Here, have something useful instead. Here is short list of verses from the Qur’an and some Hadith about war and conflict.

“Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not the hostilities. Lo! Allah loves not the aggressors.” The Holy Qur’an, 2:190

“And if they incline to peace, incline you also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower.” The Holy Qur’an, 8:61

“The Messenger of Allah forbade killing of women and children” -Narrated by Abdullah bin Omar– Bukhari and Muslim.

“And slay not the life which Allah has forbidden save with right justification. Whoso is slain wrongfully, We have given power to his heir, but let him not commit excess in slaying! Lo! He will not be helped.” The Holy Qur’an 17:33

“For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as though he had saved the life of all mankind….” The Holy Qur’an 5:32

“As for the Abode of the Hereafter (Paradise) We assign it to those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor yet corruption. The sequel is for those who fear Allah (those who ward off evil.)” The Holy Qur’an, 33:69

“And let not the hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety…” The Holy Qur’an 5:8

_____________

Wait, I did have something that I wanted to mention. I haven’t been able to get on to the Bloggin Muslimz forum but I think the topic of discussion is making our blogs more Islamic or dawa-fied. Here’s my two cents. I propose that we make a list of websites that address issues we feel should be addressed, like the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the situation in Kashmir, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, etc, as well as some good Dawah sites like www.islam-guide.com, and we make big snazzy-looking buttons for them (and pass around the buttons and the html for them freely).

I was thinking of like ten neat-looking buttons that we can all put on our sites (on the side, maybe underneath the tag boards) that will always be there to point people towards the issues we feel need addressed. Just a suggestion. I am really sorry that I don’t have the technical skillz to do this myself though, I can’t even change my own tag board. 🙁

Well, whaddaya guys think?

____

Ok, I’ve just had cup of coffee number four and I’m feeling a little more alert (zingzingzing). Learned something new today. Apparently one common Turkish wedding custom involves having the bride step on the groom’s toes surreptitiously (or vice versa). During the signing ceremony, the bride and groom sit next to each other, but in separate chairs. There is also a large table in front of them, so their feet really can’t be seen. At some point after the papers are signed, either the bride or groom will secretly stick their foot out and squash the other’s toes.

Whoever does the toe-squashing first is supposed to be the one in charge for the remainder of their married life. The Iranis do this too. My Irani student was telling me that she was too shy to squish her husband’s toes during the ceremony, so an old aunt grabbed the groom by the leg and practically forced her to stomp on his foot, not just once, but thrice for good measure. The old aunt loved her very much and wanted her to be the one ruling the household.

Well, as usual, my students went off on a tangent and we started discussing various cultural customs. If you’re about to go on a journey, both the Iranis and the Turkish will present you with a bowl of water (and various other things depending on which part of the country you’re from) which they’ll toss out after you when you depart on your journey. I have no idea why. Neither do my students.

The Russians will drink a toast to your health and friendship, and then hurl the empty crystal glass into the fireplace, effectively destroying it. This is supposed to mean that your friendship means more to them than crystal. Sounds expensive to me. I say keep the crystal and get new friends!

Pakistanis (my family included) will hold a groom’s shoes hostage until he pays up a sizeable chunk of cash. This is what the sisters and female cousins of the bride do. The boys surround the groom’s car and blockade him (preventing him from getting home again after the wedding) until he pays up as well.

Do either of these customs have any meaning or significance? No, they’re just extortion, plain and simple. The groom pays through the nose and the money is divvied up between the siblings and cousins of the bride. He he…

I saw a guy on a bike carrying a live peacock under his arm today. Gotta love living in this country…

Well, I’m putting my money where my mouth is (200 rupees to be exact) and I’m going to sew my own jilb. -gasp- I just bought a piece of georgette and I’m clicking my scissors at it in anticipation. The good thing is, I think it’ll turn out ok, InshaAllah. The bad thing is, if it comes out awful, I can’t blame the tailor for it. And if it turns out REALLY awful, I’ll be disillusioned and I’ll have to go back to the tailor. The possibilities for disaster are endless. Hmm.

Had an interesting discussion in class today. One of the funny things about being bi or trilingual is that you hear words in one language that mean something totally bizarre in another. This came up when I noticed that every single one of my Turkish students giggled when we came to the word ‘pathos’ in a vocabulary sheet. In Turkish, pathos are potato chips, and apparently this is funny.

My Irani student was telling me about how the name of a popular Pakistani sweet translates to an extremely obscene word in Persian, and one Pakistani man who knew this took very obvious and very perverse pleasure out of insisting she have some. (moron)

Speaking of morons, our new Prime Minister Zafar Something-or-other Jamali, personally initiated the festivities of the Urs at Bari Imam. That’s the malang Woodstock (props to Shad) that all those filthy fools are in town for. Today the paper is full of pictures of them up to their usual Urs traditions, dancing, smoking charas (marijuana resin) and going into trances. I saw several Urs processions on Sunday, hundreds of people led by malangs, waving colorful banners, beating drums, singing off key and carrying around a big, decorated box, not unlike the Ark of the Covenant (Indiana Jones and Raiders of The Lost Ark.) It was covered in shiny bits and draped in flowers like a Hindu shrine or a Catholic saint statue.

What’s in the box? I don’t know. What could be so important that they would decorate it and have four guys carrying it around on their shoulders for all the devotees to touch and adore? My mother thought the box might be a reliquary containing some body part (like a tooth or a fingernail) of the Bari Imam. Aniraz thought it would be a big box of mithai. You know what? They’re both wrong. That box is actually their week’s supply of DRUGS!

Losers.

Well, I’m going to go menace my new piece of cloth with a yellow crayon. I’m going to draw lines for where I think things are supposed to be (sleeves here, waist there) and in the end we’ll compare this to where things actually went (sleeves there!? waist where?).

This could be interesting. But chances are it’ll just be tragic.

New stuff on my fotolog. Actually, all of it’s old, but it’s new to you, ok? Just go look. Sensei sez so!

Eeek! Eeek! Eeek! The Beginning of Another Week!

Sitting at the computer eating barbeque sauce (fridge is empty) and drinking Amrat Cola (boycott Coke and Pepsi!) and having another hermit crab moment. -I don’t wanna go back to work tomorrow morning. I feel like pulling a William Wallace and screaming out at the top of my lungs, FREEEEEEEDOM!

-sigh-

I watched the most disturbing documentary on BBC World last night. I don’t know what it was called, but it was about the Neo-Conservative take-over of the US government. Btw, Neo-Conservativism translates into : Pro-Israel, Pro US-Imposed Democracy, open and un-ashamed use of military might to reshape the world according to US interests.

There was this paper written by a bunch of Neo-Conservative brains called The Project of the New American Century, and it outlined how to safeguard US and Israeli interests. This outline included reshaping (by whatever means or force necessary) the entire Middle East to best ensure US economic security (insert oil war here) and superiority. It specifically mentioned regime replacement for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The scary thing is that half of the people who took part in writing this paper (including Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Perle) are in the Whitehouse.

Some big-nosed chick (her first name was Mayrev) was very smugly telling the camera that Neo-Conservatives (she’s one of them) haven’t brainwashed the president, it’s just that he’s so very open to their suggestions and willing to listen to their logic. (she actually used the word susceptible) My theory is, you can’t brainwash someone who doesn’t have a brain, but I digress. She was very happy about how they’re in power now, and quite ok with the democracy-thru-violence program. (I think she called it a war for liberty and democracy the world over.)

The reporter interviewed many of the people who took part in this paper, and one of them, last name Cohen (can’t remember his first name), said this was World War Four, a war against the type of Islam that is hostile to the West. (his WW III was the cold war against communism) You know, I’m not a conspiracy theorist. When things are this open, who needs to be?

I don’t know why they even both pretending about this ‘war for democracy and freedom’ and crap. It’s just good old fashioned colonialism. The US is locking in cheap oil prices and safeguarding their interests. They’re not making the world safe for anything but themselves. (last I checked, dropping bombs was a distinctly un-safe thing to do)

Oh, wait, they’re making it safe for capitalism too. Forgot about that. There was a great cartoon in the paper the other day. A starving Iraqi kid is sitting on a pile of rubble, and in dances Ronald McDonald with a briefcase that says ‘Oil for Double Cheese Burgers Program’.

I keep thinking about one of the T-shirts that a guy was wearing at a pro-war rally, ‘First Iraq, then France’ and then there’s always my favorite bumper sticker, ‘Kick Their A**, Take The gas.’

You know, it’s a good thing the world will be wiped out on Judgment Day, cuz it’s all going to hell in a hand basket anyway.

Are they who plan ill deeds then secure that Allah will not cause the earth to swallow them, or that the doom will not come on them whence they know not? Or that He will not seize them in their going to and fro so that thereby no escape for them?…” -The Holy Qur’an, 16:45…

They’ll get theirs. (wait then, we too are waiting)

I just got back from a condolences reception for the mother of one of our friends. (She passed away and was buried on Wednesday, but they were receiving visitors this weekend.) I didn’t really want to go to the reception, who would, really. What do you say to someone when their mother has died? Formally, you say, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss,’ etc, but what you’re really thinking is ‘Thank God my mother is still alive.’ And then you feel guilty because really there’s no way you can begin to even relate to the person who lost their mother because you still have yours.

It was awkward, but I‘m glad I went. It’s true, you know, remembering death polishes the heart. I’m thinking about what it would be like if either of my parents died and suddenly I’m feeling guilty. The Qur’an orders Muslims to be super-good to their parents, “And say not to them a word of disrespect, nor rebuke them…”

The ‘word of disrespect’ mentioned in the Qur’an is ‘uff!’ (fa la taqullahuma uffin wa la tanharhuma). Every culture has their uff!, the little noise that people make when they’re exasperated or irritated. In English I think you say ‘tsk,’ and then you roll your eyes for good measure. In Urdu it’s ‘oof!’ and then you slap your forehead. I’m guilty of rather a lot of both, being bi-lingual and all, English disrespect for my mother and Urdu disrespect for my father. Shame on me, really. Especially since I know better.

My nephew (say MashaAllah!) and his mother (my sister-in-law) lived with us for five months. He came when he was five months old, and at that stage he fussed a lot and had to be changed every few hours and fed all the time. Even with my mother, my sister and I helping my sister-in-law out, she still had quite a job on her hands. A kid, at any age actually, is a lot of work. My parents raised four of them, each one two years apart. It blows my mind when I think of how anyone manages to take care of one kid let alone four of them. The love and devotion that a parent puts into each and every kid pales in comparison to the pathetic amount of love we give back, and yet we have the nerve to say uff.

I’m going to go hang my head in shame now. And I’m going to try to be much more patient with my parents. I shouldn’t have to wait for one of them to die before I remember that I love them.

“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them attains old age, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor rebuke them, but speak to them a gracious word. And lower to them a wing of mercy and compassion and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was young.’” The Holy Qur’an, 17:23-24

I’m beginning to think that maybe Americans are a little weirder than everyone else (just a little) as far as mint is concerned. I was talking to two of my students about spices and cooking and asking them about how their own ethnic cuisines differ from the food they find in Pakistan (this is a great way to make people open their dictionary and find words by the way) and we started talking about spices and herbs. Well, we got to mint, and I mentioned how I loved a strong shot of mint in my coffee. (pow!) Well, apparently this is quite shocking to some people. And from the look I registered on my students’ faces, quite disgusting too. He he. They were appalled with the idea of putting mint in chocolate too.

“The only place that mint belongs,” one of my students said, “Is in toothpaste.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “But it’s also good in chocolate, in coffee, in milkshakes, in chewing gum…”

-gasp-

They also thought I was nuts for drinking coffee flavored with both chocolate and peppermint simultaneously (with a dollop of halal marshmallow fluff on top!). Today, at class with another one of my students (German) I thought I’d drop a mint into my coffee and see what happened. Well, she was horrified by it too. He he. I enjoy shocking people, ain’t I a stinker? :p I swear, I’m the kind of guy that would show everybody their jar of pickled appendix (if they had let me keep it) whether they wanted to see it or not. I’m just a seven year-old at heart.

Oh yeah, and on the way home from work today I saw another great car sticker. This one said Cat Computer. I wonder what that was supposed to mean. That the guy’s cat is a computer? Or that he computes cats? I guess the world will never know.

Ah yes, and I almost ran over a malang too. In case you’re fortunate enough to not have malangs where you live, allow me to explain. A malang is a ‘holy man,’ despite that fact that there is no valid Islamic basis (or tradition) for these dudes. They never bathe, they wear dozens of tasbihs around their necks, they travel around begging and smoke marijuana to excess and in plain view. Malangs seem to be a direct knock-off of a type of Hindu holy men (sansi?) who do exactly the same things, except they don’t do it in the name of Islam. And as far as I know, they don’t jump out in front of your car and try to hail you down to demand money from you, Allah kay naam say…. (In the name of God…)

Talk about pro-active begging! It’s more like highway robbery. That’s what a malang did to me today, he stepped jauntily out in front of my car with his begging bowl in his hand, signaling me to pull over. Actually, it took me rather by surprise and I nearly turned him into an asphalt waffle. (street pizza, road kill, two-dimensional pedestrian, etc)

The weirdest part is, when I came home and told my mom about it, she told me the same thing happened to her! A malang tried to hail her down too. We compared notes, trying to see if it was the same one. Well, mine was deathly skinny, pretty young looking, wearing beads, with yards and yards of green satin wrapped around his head and trailing around his filthy shirts. All four of them. Oh yeah, and he only had one hand.

Well, my mom’s malang turned out to be a different one. Hers was a big guy, with a mop of exceedingly filthy hair, no green satin, and -ahem- no pants. Well, mine wasn’t wearing pants either. Apparently pants-free highway robbery is a common modus oparendi for malangs. They’re not as common as normal beggars, but they’re a lot more aggressive. Many people will avoid getting on their bad side because they’re supposed to be holy or something. Aniraz sez I should’ve run him over. It would serve him right for not wearing pants in public! Hmmph!

“Oh ye who believe! Turn to Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that our Lord will remit (and clean) you from you evil deeds and bring you into gardens beneath which rivers flow.” -The Holy Qur’an, 28:8

Must give props where props are due. Props to:

Aniraz, for the creative brilliance behind ‘Tartar sauce, the fish that doesn’t swim.’ I forgot to attribute that quote to her.

Sahar, for helping me replace my defunct tag board. *dies*

Usman, for ALMOST making me forget that he owed me a guest post. ALMOST. I’m still waiting.

Crayon, for a lovely time a lunch today. Hello!

Otty: for letting me know that all I had to do to fix my tag board was get new html. You’re a genius!

And well, obviously I must thank Allah for creating me and giving me health and blessing me with Iman and all that really great stuff that I would be dead without. Alhamdulillah!

What else? You know, I’ve started three different blogs and then deleted them all. The first one was about how the flies have hidden the flyswatter from me. (clever little buggers) The second was about how hot the weather is and how much I’d rather be eating ice-cream than real meals. The third was about how it’s silly for me to try to blog when I have nothing of worth to mention and I’d rather be building teeny-tiny castles instead. You see where this is heading?

I’m going back to the castle. My people need me.

(All Hail! King of the Losers!)

Actually, I don’t spend all that much time playing games. I’m mad at the game, it’s been cheating. I built a stone wall to protect my filthy little peasants from wolves, and you know what happened? The wolves walked through the stone walls and devoured roughly thirty percent of my population. Those wolves are not supposed to be able to walk through stone walls! Hmmph!

I’ve decided that I should try to make use of this summer. Maybe get myself a pool membership (finally) and go back to studying Arabic. Perhaps even go back to college. True, I’m an English teacher now, but that’s not what I want to be ten years from now. You know, I’ve always wanted to be something exciting, like a doctor. Or a pirate. (That’s pirlanta in Turkish, in case you’re wondering)

Medicine is an expensive subject though, I wonder if Punjab University has a faculty Marine Mayhem? Yelling out stuff like, ‘Put yer backs into that swabbing ye lily-livered sea-dogs lest I keel-haul ye!’ sure is more exciting than teaching English. English is a boring language. They tell me that even German is more exciting. A mitten, for example, is called a hand-shoe in German. Cool, hunh? And a scoundrel is called a shlingel. ‘Du bist ein shlingel’ sounds better than ‘You are a scoundrel,’ doncha think?

(No, not often.)

I wish I could blame the heat for my lack of mental prowess, but it’s 1:30 am and relatively cool again. Oh nuts, I have work in the morning. It never ceases to amaze and disappoint me that having a job means you can’t sleep till noon anymore. Who was it that mentioned this on their blog eons ago? It was either Usman or Shad, one of them was telling everyone to enjoy the lazy days now because once you have a job they’re over and done for. It’s true. My normally excessive sleep schedule has been so damaged by having a daily job that even my weekend sleep is ruined. I’ll wake up in the morning on Saturday and stare at the alarm clock in horror, thinking I’ve overslept and haven’t prepared any of my lessons. I do realize what day it is eventually, but just the shock of it all ruins my dreams till I get out of bed again by noonish.

I’m going to sleep now. -sigh-

Work today wasn’t as bad as I dreaded. I did have three classes, and I did get a mysterious paper cut, but on the other hand, I got two cups of Turkish tea, a glass of juice, a video game and a magazine. The video game is just borrowed, thank God. If I actually owned it I might spend the rest of my free time building castles and bossing miniature soldiers around. (I’m playing Stronghold, it’s a strategy thing.)

I get to be Bravely Bold Sir Lord Robin. Quite a title for a knight only a centimeter tall, eh? I strut about the castle ramparts ordering around badly trained, itty-bitty armies to defend my squalid group of dirty, drunken, surly peasants who steal cheese from the granary and flex their muscles at the screen. Filthy inebriated ingrates!

I try not to spend so much time playing video games. First of all, because I’m supposed to have better things to do. (actually, if I wasn’t playing I’d probably just be raiding the empty fridge or making a mess in some other part of the house) Second, because it makes my eyes water and my brain atrophy.

Ah! I just remembered what I wanted to mention. Aniraz and I were driving to work this morn when we were cut off by a white Corolla. As it sped off, we noticed that there were stickers on the back windshield spelling out ‘Smooth Criminal.’ Aniraz and I were like, hmmmm….so we caught up with the guy and stole a peek at Mr. Smooth Criminal. You know what? He looked neither smooth nor criminal. His sticker should have said ‘Hairy Punjabi’ instead. (What’s with Punjabis and really big moustaches? I guess we’ll never know… )

They have the craziest stickers on people’s cars here. Just the other day I was driving behind a taxi, who in turn, was behind a huge bus. The sticker on the bus said, Look Me. The sticker on the taxi said, OK Bye. It was too much a coincidence, both of those stickers together. I don’t know what it meant, but I’m sure it was important…

I can’t think of much else. Probably because I’ve just gotten back from work and all I can think about is….work. I have work again tomorrow morning and nothing is ready and I’m dead tired. Aaaaargh! I still have a sore throat, maybe I can call my students and manage a few pitiful wheezes and they’ll say I sound terrible and I’ll tell them I need a day off. Then they’ll get suspicious because I was better yesterday than I was all last week and there‘s no way I could have relapsed into my cold having just gotten over it. Then if I want a day off I’ll have to go and mortally wound myself or run out and catch a quick disease of some sort, because injury and illness are valid excuses, but tiredness is not. Sigh. Maybe if I try hard enough I can burst my appendix again. Hey, it worked the first time.

I think I’m having a hermit-crab moment. I want to quit my job and stay home in the air conditioning and play video games wearing a soggy bandana on my head. The soggy bandana is quite important to proper rest and relaxation. It keeps your brain from overheating. You guys must not think ill of me for this madness. It was 99 degrees (Fahrenheit, that’s 39 in Celsius/Centigrade) today and I feel baked. When monsoon comes, I’ll be stewed instead. In case you’re wondering, I’m best served with onions, shallots, and mushrooms in a light hollandaise….

I’ve been neglecting my Islamic quote of the day. Quick Aniraz, read me something out of that book!

Only an honorable man treats women with honor and integrity, and only a mean, deceitful, and dishonest man humiliates and insults women.” -The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, reported by Ibn Asaker.

You know, I think I’ve posted that one before, but Aniraz really did just read me the first thing she came across.

Three cheers for randomness.

(Tartar sauce, the fish that doesn’t swim…)

DeKep is DeFunct.

I got to go to Faisal Masjid for Maghrib jamaat the other day. It’s got miles of cool white marble, soft yellow lights, and it’s nestled right in the Margalla hills so there’s always a breeze going. I get to wander around barefoot and just soak in the spiritual ambiance. Man, I love Masjids. 🙂

You know what’s weird, Faisal Masjid is also a tourist spot, so aside from it being full of barefoot people on their way to prayer, it’s also got a sprinkling of politely reverent-looking foreigners, and openly awed local villagers. The villagers are the easiest to spot since they come dressed up like they’re headed for a wedding, and instead of praying, they sit around and gawk at the Masjid and the musalleen. (musalleen= those who pray). I was walking to the prayer hall when I passed a group of villagers. Just as I walked by, the man pointed to me and said to his family in Punjabi, “And look, there’s an Arab!”



(And to think, this whole time I’ve been struggling to learn Arabic and it’s been my first language all along! Wow!)

What else? Well, it’s been a tough fight, but I think I’m winning the battle versus the bacteria (I have a nasty cold, or rather, a nasty cold has me!). Myself and the rag-tag surviving elements of the Army of Immunity have regrouped and we’re getting ready for a counter-strike. It’s true, the nose has been lost and the lungs have betrayed us, but the body is ours yet! We will never surrender! -koff koff- You know what’s weird? When I cough, it sounds like little gears are grinding inside my lungs. Neat, hunh?

(pin-drop silence)

Ok, so it’s not neat, but I don’t have many things to mention at the moment, ok? Aside from this snotty, messy cold and the daily day-in, day-out of teaching, nothing much has happened. Oh wait, something has happened. I have another installment in the series, Terrifying Tales of Tailoring!!! (queue scary music)

I’m a pushover, a pansy, a softy, so I gave the tailor another chance and three suits. Well, he didn’t disappoint me, he just crushed my faith in humanity and sartorial goodness completely. One of the jilbs was so big it hung off of me like a 40 kilo sugar sack. The shoulders were on my elbows, the hem hung to the floor. The other two were actually wider at the torso than they were at the hips. (what the hibbity-dibbity?) Charming, I assure you. One of these had a grease stain on the back. So aside from wearing them, sweating on them and occasionally vomiting on them, I guess now he’s wrapping pakoras in my jilbs then, eh?

I spent this evening repairing my summer jilbs even before being able to wear them for the first time. I’ve gotten so much sewing practice off of things he’s ruined that I’m starting to wonder if I should just skip him and make the jilbs myself. I know how to sew, I’m just lazy about it and prone to making mistakes when I get tired. Once I sewed my sleeves shut. (…just once? Wait, actually I think it was three times…) Plus, even on his worst days, the tailor is still ten times better than I am. Then why would I do my sewing myself? Because I am free and he is not. Khallas.

Hmm. It’s 2 am and I would be finished with my worksheets for tomorrow’s classes if it weren’t for the fact that I’m blogging instead. You know, for someone who’s pretending to be a teacher I sure am a lazy bum. But sssshhhhh, that’s a secret. Can’t tell any of my students that I’m nothing more than a doofus in disguise. I go home after class and play video games and watch cartoons and when it’s time to go back to work I whine and go, “I don’t wanna go to class!” Then I try to convince my momma that I have a fever or something. You know all those tricks that kids do on TV, warming the thermometer up with a light bulb or pretending to be ill, these tricks only work on TV. No mother in their right mind buys it. Especially not mine. I go, “Mom! -koff koff- I can’t go to work, I’m sick!”

And them my mom goes, “What’s the matter?”

Then I moan and quickly rub my forehead in the hope that the friction will generate some heat. Then I shuffle over to my mother and put my forehead on her shoulder. She feels my head and says, “You don’t have a fever.”

“Yeah,” I says, “But I think my appendix just burst.”

“They took that out last year.” she says simply.

“The other one burst, the one they didn’t take out.”

“And what are your other symptoms?”

“Well,” I says, “My eyes are burning and my head hurts.”

“Your eyes are burning because you just woke up and your head hurts because it’s empty. Now get dressed and go to work!”

Then I have to go to work. Bummer.

I learned something very interesting yesterday. One of my students was telling us about a man they know who claims to be a faith-healer. The guy takes a piece of aluminum foil, dips it in water, recites a few verses of the Qur’an over it, presses it between his hands…and then it ignites! Poof! Then he places the warm foil over whatever part of the body ails you and you’re supposed to be cured. Luckily, my student did some homework on his own and found out that all it takes is a little chloride in the water and the aluminum foil will catch fire every time.

I find this to be very amazing and disgusting at the same time.

Amazing: Because my student was actually able to track down the trick just by doing a search on the internet. Makes you wonder, is there anything left that isn’t on the internet? My student gets an A+ resourcefulness and diligence!

Disgusting: Because this *&^*R #$@* “faith healer” is making a sham, a joke, a parlor trick out of Islam and the Qur’an and I want to bash his head in for misleading people. See, the great thing about being able to pull off a trick like this is that there is no shortage of poor people here to believe you. Even if you ‘cure’ them for free, that still guarantees a steady stream of cash, gifts, disciples, and maybe even your own shrine.

In the area that we live in, there is a big ‘pir’ here, a ‘saint’. He’s called the ‘Pir of Golra Sharif.’ His father was a ‘pir’ and so was his father before him. His job is to sit around in his shrine and look wise, and periodically do faith-healings and pray for you….for a price. Incidentally, he drives a red Pajero. (Ford Montero SUV I think it’s called…) He’s quite a local celebrity.

My little brother has seen him many times. Last year, there was a disease traveling around all the buffalos in the village in front of our house, and so the villagers consulted the pir about what to do. He gave them instructions, and the next day, in the big cricket field up the road from our house, the villagers had assembled all their buffalos and were waiting for him. They had erected a sort of doorway made from three poles, two up and one laid across, and from the center of it, they had hung a Qur’an.

The Pir arrived, (in his red SUV) walked through the field with the thousands of buffalos and climbed up onto the platform. He then told the villagers to start walking their buffalos through the doorway they had assembled, underneath the hanging Qur’an. While they were doing this, he raised his hands to make dua and said, “OOOOOOOooooooOOOOOOOOO” (buffalo noise)

He was praying for the buffalos in their own language.

I wish I was joking, I really do, but my little brother saw it with his own eyes, heard the ‘saint’ himself, lowing like a buffalo for the entire time. He said he almost died trying not to laugh, and then he wanted to cry. The villagers were deadly-serious about the whole affair. It cost them a lot of money and they pinned their hopes on this pir (as compared to a veterinary doctor) to stop the spread of the disease. Apparently pirs aren’t big on science or anything, so he wouldn’t know that by gathering the buffalos together in one place, he was probably spreading the disease around.

Normally I’m not a violent man, but I would like to beat the holy -ahem- *stuff* out of the Pir and He-Who-Ignites-Aluminum-Foil and all those like him. The Qur’an is not a book of magic, and Islam is not sorcery. It’s a way of life. If you follow the way of life, you will cure your personal evils and save your society from contracting moral and ethical disease. (You’ll also earn bonus points and a palace in Paradise, what a deal!)

The Qur’an is like a prescription that a doctor has written you, not the medicine itself, but just the piece of paper. If you follow through with the prescription, if you do what the prescription says (Salah: Take five of these and call me in the morning) you will be cured. However, if you just take the prescription and read it over and over again (Aspirin! Aspirin! Aspirin!) nothing’s going to happen. The same applies to wearing the prescription around your neck to avert evil or disease, or hanging the prescription from a doorway and stampeding buffalos beneath it.

Astaghfirullah!

Tonight’s English Night and I have brownies to bake and things to type up and stuff to do. (stuff!) If anyone asks, I’m not home, ok? Talk amongst yourselves until I return. Adieu! -Sensei

A man stumbles into his house drunk, and his wife starts screaming at him. “Where have you been?!” she yells, “I’ve been waiting for you all night!”

The man gives her a fuzzy smile and says, “I’ve been to the Golden Saloon! You wouldn’t believe it, the chairs are golden, the bar is golden, the cups are golden. Hell!” he yells out, “Even the toilets are golden!”

“I don’t believe you, you stinking old drunk,” the wife said.

“Fine,” the man says, “Call them and see for yourself.”

So the woman gets the name of the Golden Saloon from the operator and then dials the number. A bartender picks up the phone.

“Hello,” he says.

“Is this the Golden Saloon?” the woman asks.

“Yeah, this is the Golden Saloon.”

“And do you have golden chairs?” she inquires.

“Yeah.”

“And a golden bar?”

“Yeah.”

“And golden glasses?”

“Yeah”

“And a golden toilet too?”

The woman hears the bartender exhale loudly and then call out to someone else in the bar, “Hey Mike! I think we got a lead on the guy who peed in your saxophone…”

Sensei Presents: How to mortally wound yourself when the electricity goes out -or- Waxing your thumbs: the Pros and Cons.

Wait until the electricity goes out, leaving you in pitch-darkness and utter boredom. Then feel your way into the kitchen and slap at the counter blindly for the box of matches. First you must put your hands into something wet and sticky, and then you must slap a fork. You will find the matches eventually.

Light one and start looking for a candle. While you are intent on looking for a candle, allow the match to burn all the way down to your fingers. Yelp and throw the match away angrily. Don’t bother trying to set the house on fire though, it’s made of cement. So, light the candle and shake the match to put it out. Make sure that somehow you’ve dipped the match into molten wax though, because otherwise when you shake it, you won’t get hot wax all over your hand. Make a pitiful face and try to peel the wax off. Die in the process if the pain hasn’t already killed you.

The pro of using the shook-match-hot-wax-system is that your thumb will be smooth and free of unwanted hair. The con, however, is that you will be free of unwanted skin as well. The End.

Yeah, the electricity went out today. Where’d it go? I don’t know, shopping maybe. It left us in the dark with nothing to do but sit around the candles and wonder how people ever lived before the advent of electricity. We tried to make a list of things to do that required neither electricity or light, and we came up with:

1. Slap mosquitoes.

2. Stare at each other.

3. Think about what we would do if we had electricity.

4. Make phone calls in the dark.

5. Use the bathroom in the dark.

6. Wash your hands in the dark.

7. Decide that candle light is not at all romantic.

Seriously, Alhamdulillah for electricity! Thank God for the lights and the microwave and the computer, especially the computer. And ESPECIALLY the fans. Sheesh, without the fans the mosquitoes feasted on us. We were wondering if they hadn’t combined forces and cut our electricity as part of a devious plan. You know, a couple mosquitoes, just a thousand or so, decide to cram their little bodies into the circuit breaker all at once with the intention of causing a short so that the rest of them, just a million or so, can prey on us under the cover of darkness. Props to the mosquitoes for pulling it off. They got a few good hits on me while the lights were out.

The ants do the same thing when it rains. Seeking shelter, they crawl into the space beneath our doorbell button where all the circuits and wires and stuff are located. (Techno-twit ahoy!) Hundreds of soggy, wet ants make it in there and get electrocuted and die, and then the water they brought with them conducts electricity and causes the doorbell to ring nonstop. Our doorbell sounds like a bird- a big, vicious, electric bird, and when it goes off non-stop we start to feel like extras in an Alfred Hitchcock film. We can’t do anything about it while it’s still raining, short of turning off the electricity to the house. We have to wait until it stops so we can go out, pop the cover off the doorbell, scrape out the electrocuted ants and then blow-dry all the circuits and wires (and stuff!).

Oh yes, the moral of this story is: You never know what you got till it’s gone! Especially when you’re trying to microwave something. Hmmph.

People sez: Is the glass half empty, or half full?

I sez: Who cares. Say Bismillah and drink the water. Thank Allah for it and put the glass away. And stop sitting around and contemplating glasses of water, you weirdo!

I had an -ahem- interesting morning today. Woke up at ten o’clock (instead of 9) because the electricity was gone and none of the alarm clocks were working. Rushed off to work late and sick, finished and then went to pick up my mother. Got home, stepped out of the car, and tore a HUGE hole in one of my favorite jilbs. Then I walked into the house, sat down to lunch, and poured myself a lap full of lentils (yes, on the same jilbab). While I was washing the lentils off, I got my ring caught in the hole, and when I moved my hand, the hole got even bigger. It’s now so big I could put another plate full of lentils through it without even touching the frayed edges.

It’s a good thing that we Muslims don’t believe in omens, because otherwise, I’d say that the ‘Universe’ was trying to tell me that my jilbab had to go. In actuality, it’s just Allah testing my patience. The trick to winning the test is to not tear at my already-torn jilbab and scream. That would just make my throat more sore anyway.

In times of stress, it helps for me to apply what I call the ‘Post-Mortem’ test. (post mortem means after death, but I am NOT autopsying anything, unlike Sana….) I just ask myself, will this matter post-mortem? Will I care after I die? Will my torn jilbab affect my standing in the world and afterlife? No? Then relax, stupid! The only things worth getting really worked up about will be the ones that will count for me or against me in my book of deeds. Yeah, I tore a gaping hole in my jilb and then gave it an equally huge grease stain, but that‘s ok. The jilb couldn’t last forever anyway.

Inna Lillahi wa inna ileihi rajioon.

Verily we are from Allah and verily to Him is the return.

Aaargh. This always happens…I’ve picked up some imported germs (imported germs are from imported students, I teach English to foreigners working for embassies and whatnot). One of my students has had a cold and flu, and what a surprise, now I’m getting sick too. I’ve learned that foreign germs are the most belligerent and most effective because they use tactics that my immune system is unfamiliar with.

See, the foreign germs knock on the main gate, and the security guards of my immune system go, “Hark! Who goes there?” Then the foreign germs offer a sporting chance for my immune system to surrender or be ignominiously defeated. Bewildered, my immune system security guards run off to find a translator, because the foreign germs have issued their ultimatum in a foreign language. This leaves the gate undefended, and then foreign germs look at each other and shrug, and then yell out, “Chaaaaaaarge!”

And that is how the battle begins. So far, the foreign germs have taken control of my olfactory center, and are using the dreaded ‘Runny Nose’ attack. They are also gaining a foothold in my throat, and have caused damage to its infrastructure with their incessant attacks. This is called a ‘Sore Throat.’ The biggest problem of having a sore throat is that it changes my voice, making it a notch lower and kinda scratchy sounding. Then people on the phone don’t believe who I say I am, they think I’m a man. This is bad.

I can’t let myself get too sick. It will be a fierce battle, but I will win!

:::queue rousing, inspirational battle-type musical score:::

Abez: (Standing solemnly in front of an Abezistani flag, addressing the First Army of Immunity) Many of you will die before this day is over. I can offer you no comfort, no promises, except that should we lose, everything we hold dear will be destroyed. All that we love will be lost. The Foreign Germ Legion will commandeer the body and turn all available cells to the production of the two resources that the ruler of Germistan prizes so much: phlegm and mucus.

We have already lost the battle of the nose, and even as we speak, our comrades are falling in defense of the throat. We must see that their deaths are avenged. We must ensure that their blood is paid for with the blood of our enemies, that their lives are appeased with the lives of our enemies.

I know that it is a daunting task, our foe is an evil if not powerful force, and our fear of him is not unjustified. But our courage must be greater than our fear, for our losses shall we greater than our imaginations should we fail.

I call on you, Oh Chicken Soup Cavalry, and on you, Militia of Dr.Mom, to answer the call to battle. Together we will defeat our enemies and restore health to the body. We will fight that others may have peace. We shall die so that the body may live.

(cough cough)

May God have mercy on us all…

Well, now that I’ve gotten my hands on a copy of Microsoft FrontPage I’ve been causing all kinds of chaos. And since I somehow broke my tag board in the process, you can see that not all of it is the good kind of chaos. Well, I’ve repented. I have to get someone to give me a Front Page tutorial before I get all excited and start tearing up the pea-patch again. (Read James Thurber’s Sitting in the Catbird Seat) I’m having a terribly hard time trying to restore my blog to the way it was before I messed with it. I don’t know what the problem is, but when I look at the page (even though I’ve restored the original HTML that Tora sent) I get little A’s all over the page. Is anyone else getting that? I need help undoing the damage…

Well, it’s 3:30 am, and I’m still awake. Aside from the fact that I’m tired, I enjoy being up late night/early morn and hearing no cars, no city sounds, just chirping birds. Though I would enjoy it more if I wasn’t frustrated with my inability to successfully alter my blog. -sigh-

I learned something yesterday that I wanted to mention. That is: the reason why the UN vehicles in Islamabad drive so obnoxiously is because the drivers are instructed to always be the lead car when they stop at a light. That’s why they’re always rushing around and cutting people off, they don’t want to get stuck at light behind any other cars, because they consider that a security risk. They’re afraid of being blocked in traffic if they ever need to make a quick escape.

This may not sound very interesting to my comrades in blogistan abroad, but if you live in Islamabad and are cut off or driven off the road by at least two UN vehicles a day, then this is an epiphany. Suddenly the speeding, the passing on the shoulder of the road, the running of red lights, this all makes sense! Wow! How did I learn this? One of my students (who works for the UN) told me. We were talking about the many security precautions that some foreigners take here.

Basically, there are three types of foreigners in Islamabad. The first type is the First World Embassy/UN foreigner. This type is never seen outside of the embassy without a guard and a look of genuine nervousness and anxiety. Their security officers are always rumor-mongering and frightening these poor people out of their wits. I remember the last US embassy briefing we got was: “Terrorists posing as common street vendors will be targeting US citizens! Our intelligence tells us that they have bombs strapped to their bodies and can detonate themselves at any minute!“ Because these people are brainwashed to have an “us vs. them” mentality, they never mingle with the locals and lead very sheltered, very isolated lives.

The second type is the Second & Third world Embassy/NGO foreigner. Since none of the second world countries are particularly politically rapacious (for example: Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, the Maldives, Nepal…) they have no reason to be afraid of the local political retaliation, and do not usually have armed guards, with the exception of the ambassador, and maybe the military attaches. They, as well as the foreigners working for NGO’s, zip around freely and enjoy themselves in the big hotels, tourist resorts, and shopping bazaars that the first-worlders live in mortal fear of.

The third type of foreigner in Islamabad is, ‘The Local Yokel.’ Those are foreigners who have gone native, usually from marrying a Pakistani or studying or working here for a long time. They usually speak tolerable Urdu, drink the tap water, shop local, and fit in pretty well. I think they have the most fun. Well, at least it seems like they’re having the most fun. I know I’m having fun! Part of the experience of living in Pakistan is in the bazaar food (and the ensuing illness) and the interactive shopping, the meeting of new people and seeing new places. You can’t do any of these things if you brush your teeth in bottled water, shop only in import stores, and hide in the embassy. (except when sunbathing at the UN club)

I feel kinda bad for the foreigners in category number 1. We know a guy who worked at the US embassy who used to be stationed in Karachi. Because Karachi is a bigger, rowdier, riskier city, the embassy staff were allowed to travel only between the embassy, their houses, and the McDonalds. No joke. Even for shopping, the embassy had a commissary store, you didn’t need to go out to buy anything. I suppose those poor people have more freedom when the US isn’t busy making itself World Terrorist No.1, but for now, they’re all holed up.

Ah, something exciting happened to me today. I was attacked by a lizard, a big dirty-looking one with beady eyes. Normally I have no problems with lizards. In fact, I think they’re rather cute. (I also think snakes are smooth and pretty, go figure) But today, as I walked into a stationary store, a lizard dropped down from the ceiling not one foot away from me onto a pile of notebooks. I looked at the lizard, and the lizard looked at me. It was a staring contest. Inevitably, the lizard won, because as far as I know, lizards don’t have eyelids. I could be wrong. But I blinked, and the lizard scurried through the notebooks, making quite a papery commotion, and then ran back up the wall.

Aniraz maintains that the lizard came not to attack me, but to revere me, since I am a friend of the lizards, not an enemy. That may be true, but the lizard came pretty close to landing on my head, and with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Woke up for Fajr this morning dead tired. Why? Because I’m a genius. I stayed up until 12:30 making my English Night prizes (with glitter, beads, cardboard, sequins, a glue gun, MWAHAHAA!!! Oh, and I et the egg.) and then I suddenly remembered that I had work in the morn. So then I was up until 3 am doing grammar sheets and class work.

So, when the alarm clock went off for Fajr at 4:45, I shuffled to the prayer rug, prayed, and then fell asleep after dua in sajdah position. Then I woke up at 5:30, disoriented and confused about what the heck I was doing sleeping with my face on the floor. It wasn’t all that bad, except both of my legs had gone completely numb.

I staggered back into bed and then woke up at 9:45, precisely two minutes before I was supposed to leave for work. I skulled a cup of lukewarm coffee and ran out the door trailing a wrinkly scarf and grammar sheets in my wake. The moral of this story? Be nice to your English teachers, they’re morons just like the rest of you. And if they sound like they’re tired and don’t know what they’re talking about, assume it’s because they are esoteric geniuses and you’re just too dense to know what they’re talking about.

What else was I going to blog about? Oh yeah, I’ve been teaching my students proverbs in English, and learning theirs in return. I learned some new ones to add to my repertoire.



The mouse cannot fit into the hole but he is trying to go in with a broom tied to his tail.
Means: You can’t even do the basics (fit in the hole) and now you’re trying to do the impossible. (fit a broom into the hole too) For example:

Techno-Twit: “Don’t worry, I’ll fix your blog up and give you some spiffy special effects!”

Joe Shmoe: “Fix my blog? You haven’t even fixed your OWN blog! The mouse cannot fit himself into the hole but he is trying to go in with a broom tied to his tail.”

The chicken has one leg. This is used when a person is lying outright. It’s the equivalent of, “Yeah, and I’m Mary, Queen of Scots.”

Quasimodo: “I am not only the best looking person in this room, I am also the cleanest, richest, and best-smelling.”

Joe Shmoe: “Of course. And the chicken has one leg.”

They have tons of cool proverbs in Ibo, a Nigerian language. You’ll find dozens of them in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, a tragic but excellently written book.

The old woman laughs uneasily when you joke of dry bones.

The sun shines on he who stands before it stand on he who kneels.

Like the lizard who jumped from the high Iroko tree, I will praise myself if no one else does.

Eneke the bird says: since men have learned to shoot without missing, I have learned to fly without perching.

If a child washes his hands he can eat with kings.

Ug. I’m going brain-dead. Trying to remember these proverbs has sapped my brain of what little energy was available. I think I’ll pray Asr and go crash on the sofa. That is, if I don’t fall asleep on the floor first…

And your Lord has said: Pray to Me and I will hear your prayer.” -The Holy Qur’an, 40:60

In Need of Creative Extremism

MLKjr“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be…The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

-Martin Luther King

I agree. I think we should all be extremists, the kind that are extremely steadfast (3:15), extremely patient (2:155-157), extremely God-conscious (3:102), extremely good to our parents (17:23), extremely well-mannered (24:27),extremely vigilant in saving the world from evil (10:63), extremely charitable (17:26) and therefore, extremely Muslim. Hey, does that make me a Muslim extremist? I wish! Too bad extremism is a four-letter word, eh?

__________

I called that lady who does kickboxing. It turns out, she only does the class once a week in conjunction with the aerobics class she already teaches, just so that her students don’t get too bored. Unfortunately, they can’t take kickboxing three times a week (too strenuous), nor can she teach three other classes of kickboxing in addition to her pre-existing schedule (the human body has limits, you know). So then I called the swimming pool instead.

We interrupt this blog to bring you info relevant to Chai, Crayon, and Aniraz: Shaukat Spa in F-6 has women-only swimming hours, in the morning from 9:30-12:30, and then in the afternoon from 2:30-6:00. Membership for three months is 6k. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

So now I’m disappointed because kickboxing is unavailable, but also excited because swimming is affordable and convenient! Yay!

I’ve had to reschedule some of my classes, which meant standing in front of a dry-erase board with a marker and a headache, trying to work my schedule out around my students’ schedules, racking my brains to remember which classes can be rescheduled and which cannot. Now, this isn’t an exciting thing in and of itself, but I’m saying this to excuse my laziness in blogging. I now work every morning, instead of only Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, but on the other hand, I no longer have four evening classes a week. What a relief!

Ah, Aniraz just delivered my cup of coffee directly to the computer desk. What service! Too bad the menu in this place is so limited. I’m not going to enumerate the contents of my fridge again. The same stuff is in there as last time, minus the ketchup. We’re out of ketchup. We still have half a gallon of salsa though, and egg (singular).

Did I mention that we have carry-out from my father’s restaurant twice daily? Did I mention that’s murder on my diet? No? Well, I’m mentioning it now. Restaurant food is too greasy and too tasty to be conducive to good health and physical fitness. When my dad’s restaurant gets really big and he gets really rich (InshaAllah), I’m going to sue him for damages the same way fat kids in the US are suing McDonalds and Burger King. I should start looking for a lawyer now.

English Night is coming up again, and I have to try to figure out what I’ll use as prizes. Once it was trophies, once it was medals made out of sugar cookies, last time it was fake flowers and a banner (like in the Miss America pageant, only the banners said, “Scrabble Champ” instead of “Miss Vermont”). Once again taking stock of the raw materials around my house: I have found some silver glitter, yellow felt, one egg, construction paper, scraps of red satin, and a staple gun. Any suggestions here, people?

And now, one of my MOST favorite verses from the Qur’an…or an excerpt from it anyway. I’ve broken it into lines to make it easier to understand. Here we goes!

“…But righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the Angels and the Scripture and the Prophets,

…And gives his wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free,

…And observes proper worship and pays the poor-due (Zakat).

…And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and times of stress.

…Such are they who are sincere.

…Such are the God-fearing.” -The Holy Qur’an, 2:177

oops. I posted double but I can’t just delete. How silly. Oh well. Here’s a different post then.

Some primal termite knocked on wood

Tasted it, and found it good

And that is why your Cousin May

Fell through the parlor floor today.

-Samuel Hoffenstein.

Karachi Rox!

I should just take Aniraz’s advice and not blog when I have nothing to blog about, but quite frankly, I’m just not that smart. If I was a smarter man, I would do things differently. I would do the work for my classes all at the beginning of the week instead of doing it a few hours before class everyday. That way I might have some free time even on days when I was working. As a smarter man, I would also resist my periodic urges to eat peanut butter. I caved today: I threw a dollop of peanut butter into some chocolate pudding and stirred at it with much enthusiasm. Then I et it, and I can’t believe I et the whole thing!!! Now I have heart-burn. Now, you’re supposed to use the ridiculous line my cousins always use, and you go, OoooOOooh, who is your heart burning for? Then I throw things at you.

Actually I miss my cousins. I have a whole horde of them in Karachi where my father’s half of the family is stationed. Visiting there involves sleeping all day (waking up for prayer and going back to sleep again) and playing cards all night. It also involves lots of junk food, lots of games, lots of really hilarious times. After Chicago, Karachi is what I consider to be my home city. I’m thinking of popping in for a week or so. I miss it- the greasy, hot junk food from the bazaars, the noise, the chaos, that funky Karachi smell. Karachi smells like diesel + sweat + spice.

Islamabad, on the other hand, smells only of car exhaust. It has its plusses though, like the fact that it’s clean, traffic is tolerable, there are other foreigners all over the place, and the best part is: It’s so darn small. I can get from one end of town to the other in under half an hour, not just because I’m Sensei Speed Demon, Terror of the Tarmac, but because this town is just so small. I remember living in Chicago, I commuted for an hour and a half, each way, just to get to college. In Karachi, it’s an hour to the beach. Here, if I drive for an hour, I’ll find myself half-way to Lahore! (Actually, Lahore is four hours, but who wants to go there anyway? It’s full of…ugh…Lahoris! 😛 j/k)

I’ve been to Lahore, but just the dirty out-skirts. I’ve also been to every single town and tiny village on the Grand Trunk road between Islamabad and Karachi. Multan, Kala sha kaku, Toba tek Singh, Sadiqabad…you name it, and I’ve stopped in it’s gas station and eaten its samosas. I must say I was very disappointed though. I blame global marketing for the fact that every single town looked exactly the same as the last: Low cement buildings completely plastered with Pepsi, Coke, and Capstan cigarette ads from here to Karachi. The same posters on the same dingy gray walls. I know that Pakistan has a beautiful architectural heritage, I just don’t know where they’re hiding it. Hmmmph.

Randomness to the Extreme -or- When Abez Blogs at 1 am.

How to kill a moth with window cleaner: Squirt squirt squirt squirt squirt squirt squirt, victory dance.

****

One of my students is taking a vacation, and another one of them wants a rescheduling, and another one of them one wants more homework, and I am going to have an aneurism! Aaaargh! I should have been a hermit crab instead. But I shouldn’t complain. I should grin and bear it, and then go eat peanut butter when no one is looking.

****

I like this poem:

The Hamster

by Ogden Nash.

There is not much about the hamster

To stimulate the epigramster

The essence of his simple story,

He populates the laboratory

Then leaves his offspring in the lurch

Martyr to medical research

Was he as bright as people am

New York would be New Hamsterdam.

****



More multi-lingual sound effects, this time in Turkish!


Dogs: Hao Hao

Chicks: jik jik

Chickens: Goon goon

Gun: put put (put, like golf put) or dish-dish

Car: vvvnnnn or vvvzzzzhhhh

****

“And remember your Lord within yourself (in the heart) humbly and with awe, below your breath, at morning and evening. And let you not be among those who neglect.” -The Holy Qur’an, 7:205

****

India has just agreed to reopen its borders to Pakistan for trade and travel. I wonder if this sudden display of friendship has anything to do with the fact that India has SARS and Pakistan doesn’t? Hmm, sounds fishy to me.

****

Two people tried to kill me today. The first guy was yakking away on his cell phone as he pulled out directly in front of me. The other guy was a brave taxi driver who thought he could gun it across two lanes of traffic instead of waiting for an opening. I was very grateful (Alhamdulillah) in both cases that the brakes on our old car are ok even if the tires are bald.

****

Best Day Supermarket in F-10 has marshmallow fluff, and it’s HALAL!!! Chai, Crayon, I just thought it was important that I tell you these things. Thank you. The End.

Before I begin my usual blogging nonsense, I have to make a formal and public apology to Maria (MSD). Though I did attack dating, I did not mean to attack you. I am very, very, very sorry for offending you. God Forbid that all Muslims should combine aggression with religious discourse. That was not my intention, though that may have been my result. I ask you to please forgive me in this life, because otherwise I’ll have to cough up some of my good deeds to you in the next life and as it is, I’m a loser with very few good deeds. Please accept my humblest apologies.

A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, unless it were made of bread dough.

Presenting: the next installment in the Battle Betwixt the Bugs and Us. Today, termites tried sneaking out of both the bathroom drain and the kitchen drain simultaneously. So, Aniraz and I retaliated, and we poured acid down both of the drains, simultaneously. mwahaha!

This evening, I went out to the back porch to throw in a load of laundry, when I noticed a dark almond-shaped thing near my foot. I bent a little closer and saw it was a roach, a dead, king-sized sewer roach. I backed up, horrified, and then noticed that I was surrounded by at least a dozen of them: industrial sized roach corpses in a horrifying display of carnage. :::shudders::: It turns out that the acid we poured down the drains killed more than termites. Ha!

Now if only we can figure out something to get the mosquitoes with. They mauled me last night. I have more bumps on my right leg than a leopard has spots because it was sticking out from underneath my blanket. Opportunistic little vampires…

Well, on a less-than six-legged note, I know I have some links to add to my blog, but I don’t want to pass the task on to my magnanimous pro-bono techie, Tora. I’ve annoyed him enough, and since they just installed Microsoft Front Page at my sister’s office, I think I’ll drop in one day and see if I can figure it out. Another thing I’m trying to figure out: how can I make my own backgammon board? I went shopping around for one and found only tiny expensive ones.

Usually, all board games come in two variations. The first variation is the expensive one: usually wood and brass, and usually for people who play everyday and are therefore willing to cough up fifty dollars for a game. (I am SO jealous of one of my student’s boards, she brought hers from Turkey) The other variation if the mass-produced version: in cardboard and plastic. That’s for losers like me that don’t care too terribly much about what material the board is made off because you can still play the game on it. (as long as it’s not hideous) So I’m trying to find a cheap backgammon board, and all I’m finding is small and expensive ones.

Aniraz and I made a chess set once, when we were living in Karachi in my uncle’s house, waiting for the rest of the family to show up. (long story, I think I told it already) So we were there with nothing to do and no mode of transportation, and we thought, Aha! We should make a chess board! So we looked around to see what raw materials were available for the project. We found cardboard, straight pins, a black marker and bread-dough. I don’t need to tell you that the board was -ahem- substandard looking.

My pawns were shaped as arches, Aniraz’s were shaped like donuts. Our kings and queens had pins pressed into them as the spikes on their crowns. You would think that the game plays the same no matter what the pieces look like, but in actuality, when the pieces are that ugly, the game just cannot go on. You look at the pieces, trying to plan a strategy of some sort, and you just end up getting visually offended by the sheer ugliness of it all and throwing them at your opponent.

Well, as long as I find a backgammon board that isn’t made of bread dough and pins, I’ll be happy. I’ve taken stock of what kind of materials I can use, I have some black velour, some scotch tape, some yellow felt, two kilos of powdered sugar and some bread dough. Hmmm. We ate all of yesterday’s pastry puffs, otherwise we could’ve colored them and varnished them and used them as pieces. They were the right size too…

I’m tattling on Aniraz. She’s menacing me with the paper-hole puncher and coughing little diseased paper circles at me. (they’re coming out of her palm, not her lungs) It sounds gross, but who cares! It’s the truth! The world must know! And with that wholly useless blog, I bid thee all adieu.

Remember people, “Oh Ye who believe! If you fear Allah, He will give you (power of) discrimination between right and wrong and will rid you of your evil thoughts and deeds and will forgive you. Allah is of infinite bounty.” -The Holy Qur’an, 8:29

I had a whole different blog typed for today, but when I got on and took a look at my tag board, I decided to write something else instead. There are a few bizarre things happening on tag board right that I would like to address:

“… let us have a Muslim Dating Service, if am not mistaken, it was your (Aniraz’s) idea. and please don’t say these things are messing the world already. the more freedom we have, the more wonderful it will become. everybody wants that, including fundus and non-fundus…”

Aniraz washes her hands of the idea. It was intended as a joke, and most people understood it because it was such an outrageous suggestion that our fellows FUNdus reading it went, Ha ha ha, Yuk. And then it was over. Muslims would never take it seriously. However, since this is an international blog (what with the internet being the world-wide-web and all) I have some people who visit that aren’t part of my circle of FUNdus. I will therefore explain why dating is so nasty.



1. The biggest reason of all is, and always will be, cuz ISLAM SEZ SO!
There are veritable volumes of material available in Islamic tradition and scripture that tell us that fornication is wrong wrong wrong. I’m not going to put them all here because it would be very, very long. If you’re a Muslim reading this, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not a Muslim, email me and I‘ll give you the verses if you’re interested in reading them.

2. Dating is degrading to the sanctity of human sexuality and relations. Once upon a time, a physical relationship was an extremely private and extremely sacred thing. You guarded your chastity and modesty for your whole life, waiting for someone who was worth spending the rest of your life with, and when you found that someone, you pledged yourself to them and only them. Neither husband nor wife would ever had touched anyone else, neither of them were used or damaged goods when they married. The phrase, ‘Only you,’ had more meaning back then. If you said it, it was like, “Only you darling, from the day I was born until the day I die.” Now it’s more like, “Only you darling, for now, until I find someone else.”



3. What are we talking about? Dirty underwear?
Like a physical relationship, underwear is an intimate, one-person-only thing, and once you’ve worn it once, it’s not fit for someone else to wear. You just can’t wear anyone else’s underwear! That’s disgusting, and that’s what dating turns everyone into- a pair of dirty underwear. You, poor guy, wander around trying to find a good wife, you find one, but somehow you’re supposed to be ok with the fact that she’s already used and your not the only guy she’s been with.

On the other hand, for the girls trying to get married, you search desperately for the man of you dreams and give yourself a nervous breakdown trying to please him because you know that if you don’t give him what he wants, he can go and get it from any other woman.

4. Dating makes humans disposable and relationships cheap. So cheap, in fact, that some people have called it a legalized form of prostitution. Dinner + Movie = Relations. In many cases, date-rape occurs when the guys feels cheated after giving the girl dinner and a movie, so he takes what he feels she owed him.

Now I know people are gonna jump down my throat and tell me that not all dates end in either sex or rape. Yes, thank you, I know that. But you cannot deny that a predominantly large number of them end up at that point eventually, sex more often than rape. You could find a practicing Jain Nun in America before you found a person over the age of legal consent who still had their virginity. (No insult to Jainism, it’s just not very common)

Dating is what happens when the system goes out of control. Here’s what the system is supposed to be like: Boy notices girl and likes her. If he likes her SO much that he wants to marry her, he asks her. She can say yes on the spot (which is rare and a bit impetuous anyway) or she can say, hold on, I’d like to get to know you in a better and yet completely halal way. So then they meet for lunch with one of her Mahram, or exchange letters that are open for parties on both sides to read. Then you sez, gee, that’s lame, they don’t get any privacy! Then I sez: they’re not married. You can determine whether or not someone is a nice/marriage-worthy person without having to inspect them privately, ok?

The traits you look for in a good spouse- kindness, honesty, intelligence, similar religious inclinations, can be discovered without necking first. In fact, chances are you’d be more objective about choosing a spouse if you weren’t lusting over them so badly that your logic was warped. Therefore, privacy is counter-productive to making an intelligent and well-informed choice.

There’s nothing wrong with seeing a person for the purpose of knowing them better to decide if you want to marry them, so long as you DON’T VIOLATE ANY OF THE ISLAMIC RULES! No being alone together, no touching, no flirting, no risque anything. Get it? Got it? Good.

And now my second spiel: Freedom is not an ultimate good. What if everyone had the freedom to kill everyone that they wanted to? Well, would it still be considered murder, or would it be ok because it was done in the name of freedom? What about if everyone had the freedom to take whatever they wanted to? Would we still call that theft or rape, or would it be ok because it was done in the name of freedom?

Some people think that freedom means doing whatever you feel like doing. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me, that sounds like a recipe for disaster: what if people suddenly cried out for the freedom of watching child pornography, the way that some people are doing in the US right now? What if they demanded the freedom for incest?

They’re already demanding the freedom to take whatever drugs they want, they’ve got the freedom to drink alcohol and then go crashing into other cars, killing innocent people. They’ve got the freedom to sleep around with whoever they want despite the fact that it’s turning AIDS, STD’s and single-parent children into a national epidemic. None of this is real freedom. It’s anarchy.

The same applies to pre-marital relations and fornication. I don’t care whether you do it in the name of freedom or love or whatever warm-and fuzzy crap people believe in, it’s still called fornication!

We FUNdus are not waiting for someone to liberate us from our Islamic ‘Religious Imprisonment‘ (ha!). People say that we follow it only because we are forced to, but that’s because they can’t imagine anyone taking this path of their own volition, that’s because they have no understanding of Islam. I don’t need anyone to free me, I don’t need to date, and I certainly don’t want to be used or abused by a whole series of opportunistic losers before I find someone worth marrying.

I am not public domain.

I’m not a mean man. Just one with a highly developed sense of vigilante-ism. *Dish!* Dor-Dor! Whack!

I’m sitting in front of the computer trying to blog, but I don’t think it’s gonna work too well. First of all, between home and work, very few interesting things have happened. Second of all, I am brain dead and sleep depraved….err…deprived. I haven’t gotten to bed before 2 am once this week, and I have worked every day except Thursday…when I had a party instead. Today is Friday, (Happy Friday Everybody!) and I have the evening off work today. You know what I’m gonna do with it? Other than type a low-calorie, low-substance blog? I’m gonna lay down on the sofa and pleasantly snooze away the hours with a pillow on my face. That, dear friends, is true quality time.

Because my evening class was cancelled I wasn’t able to find out the phone number for the kick-boxing lady from my student. I have to wait till Monday now, in the mean time, I’m dreaming about all the teeth I’m gonna release from peoples’ jaws. Mwahaaaahaaaa! -ahem- Actually the thought of kicking someone’s teeth out makes me feel slightly ill…I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about killing people. (This conversation was directly related to meeting mashers in the bazaars) and she said she wouldn’t dream of killing someone unless they were trying to hurt her kids. Me, I don’t have kids, but as it is, I don’t think I could kill someone unless they were trying to kill me first. I also wouldn’t be able to stab anyone unless I was sure it wouldn’t kill them. It’s just too much: the thought of hearing the serrated edge of a knife go shredding through muscles and tendons…::shudders::

Thank God I’ve never had to try to stab anyone. (Or ever to defend myself, Alhamdulillah) See, that’s what brothers are for. If you have two giant ones (like me 😀 ) then you can sic them on whoever deserves it (but ONLY people who deserve it, otherwise, it’s vicarious tyranny instead of retributive justice). I remember once in high-school, some jerk kid kept trying to pull my scarf off, he would come up behind me in the hall and give it a yank and then take off. So I told my elder bro, and presto, the offending idiot was pulled into the boys bathroom one day and beaten into a soft and remorseful pulp.

Ok, enough khoon-kwari. (violence, gore, bloodiness) I shall share some good news instead. I am pleased to announce that our supply of post-party leftovers is still holding out. There are still two dozen pastry puffs, six chicken fajita roll-ups, half of a jello mold, an apple pound cake, nine rolls from the Afghani Bakery, and a bowl of pasta salad. This means that we won’t have to cook for another two meals. The apple streusel coffee cake never saw first light of the day after the party though, Inna Lilla…

Hey Crayon! You’re welcome to pop in and help us scarf it all down! (whatever’s left of it after tea-time anyway, and hey, my Turks said we were setting the backgammon board up funny, I drew a little diagram of what they showed me so we can compare notes) And Chai too, come over dear, the only thing better than a party is the leftovers. And Aniraz, you already live here, stop eating all the cake! Momma, Aniraz hit me with a roll!

(Queue chaos)

To my fellow scarfies/hijabis/ninjas: we should compose one of those silly top-ten lists, for You Know You’re a Hijabi When… Here’s my contribution.

(drum roll please)

You have tan lines…on your forehead.

Here’s our Islamic quote of the day. I like it lots. “Recite that which has been inspired in thee of the Scripture (Qur’an), and establish prayer. Lo! The prayer preserves from lewdness and iniquity, and verily, the remembrance of Allah is more important. And Allah knows what ye do.” The Holy Qur’an, 29:45

Hmmm, now the skeptic sez: I knew this Moozlim guy who prayed five times a day and beat his wife with a tasbih and had an affair with his camel and then flew his rug down to the pub to have a few pints with us…

And I sez: The verse obviously does not apply to what I shall call, ‘Bogus Prayer’. Bogus Prayer is the equivalent of the Muslim Macarena. There are many people who do ‘Bogus Prayer’ one minute and then run off and do something highly haram five minutes later. Well, what do you expect from a prayer where you put zero religious thought, concentration, or zhikr into it? You might as well be dancing cuz with bogus prayer you’re just going through the motions.

Real Prayer, with a capital P, is a reminder of the obligations you have to man and God, and a reset-button on your stress levels for the day, and a bunch of other nice things that help cultivate Taqwa/God-consciousness in the worshipper. Remember my SARS? The Splendid Acute Religiousness Syndrome? Well, Prayer gives you SARS, ok?

Skeptic sez: Egad! Those Moozlims have d’zeezes! Run for yer life!

Af Af, I mean, Woof Woof.

Something interesting happened to me on the way home today. I was minding my own beeswax, turning left when a car came from the opposite direction, and tried to turn right around a car that was ALREADY turning right. In other words, he was being a moron, and driving on the wrong side of the road. If I hadn’t seen him and slammed my breaks (bi FazlAllah, Alhamdulillah!) he would’ve crashed into me head-on. There was a lot of squealing of brakes (on my part) and swerving (on his part) As it is, he just nicked my headlight on the side and cracked it.

(if the physics of my accident sounds backwards: it’s because in Pakistan you drive on the left side of the road, not the right.)

He came out and apologized profusely. I was actually kinda bewildered and confused, so I just checked my car for damage (and saw that it was negligible) and instead of gathering my powers of righteous indignation and yelling at him, I just said to him sternly, Be more careful! And he said yes Madame, thank you Madame, and he bowed and scraped all the way back to his car. Us foreigners, we be scary people. (boo!) I bet he almost had a heart attack when I stepped out, towering head and shoulder above him and shining ghostly-white in the moonlight (that would be my pasty face), my jet-black Jedi-Knight jilbab billowing ominously about me in the night breeze! Bwahahaaa!

-Ahem- ok so I’m not very tall or threatening, but I was taller than he was and he was definitely scared. He he. Speaking of threatening, just today one of my students informed me that she knows of a woman who teaches kick-boxing. As I am typing this I have the biggest grin imaginable on my face. Really. I’m ecstatic. I’ve been wanting to learn some attack-fu for years, but it’s easier to find a cat with horns than a female martial arts instructor in Pakistan. But now I know she exists and her name is Neelam and I’m gonna get her number on Friday. YAY!!!!!!!!! Look out world, I’m gonna start kicking stuff! :::thwak!::: Ow, my poor toes…

Oh yeah, it’s strange, your life doesn’t actually flash before your eyes when you have an accident. I think it flashes before your eyes only if you’re dying slowly and you have the time to remember it. When the guy ran back meekly to his car and I started driving back home again, it occurred to me that I didn’t think or feel anything exceptional, even when his headlights were bearing down on me and my brakes were screeching. I just went, Aaaaah! And as I was saying Aaaaah!, I was also thinking it simultaneously. I would like to think that in times of distress or worry, I would call on God, at least then I could die seeking His help/mercy instead of screaming out Crap! Nuts! Rats! or Aaaaah! As far as I know, Crap, Nuts, and Aaaaah are not worship-able deities. The Hindus do have a temple dedicated to some holy rats though. Hmmm.

Well, the moral of this story is, you never know when you’re going to die. And a few near-death experiences help put a healthy dose of The-Fear-of-The-Lord back into your heathen heart. (not just yours, mine too) In fact, that’s why I’m always mortally wounding myself. It makes me appreciate life and health better. Once I had my appendix out (you can’t have it out twice, can you?) and post-surgically speaking, I was a wreck. I had to shuffle around, couldn’t do anything myself. I felt lame, useless, and like I was a burden. That really made me appreciate my independence and health. But I think I’ve already mentioned that, haven’t I. Rats. I mean, Astaghfirullah!

Hmmm, what else interesting happened today? My favorite three year old came and shot at me with a bubble gun. He pulled the trigger and a little ring rose in front of the nozzle and a puff of wind shot through it. Fortunately, there wasn’t any soap in the bubble gun otherwise I would be a soapier man than I am today. I said to him, “What’s in there?” And he said, “This gun is for bubbling.” And I said, “But there are no bubbles in it!” And he said, “I use it for *dish*” (bang!)

*dish* is the sound that guns make when firing in the subcontinent, and in Turkey too apparently. Different cultures use different sound effects. In Urdu, a dog says ‘bhao bhao.’ In English it’s ‘woof woof‘, in Russian it’s ‘Aaf aaf‘. In English, guns say bang, in Urdu they say *dish.* A car in English goes vroom, but in Turkish it goes vnnnn. Chicks in English say ‘peep peep,‘ in Urdu they say ‘kut kut’ and in Korean they say ‘piyo piyo’. See? Sensei knows everything. :p

Today’s relevant and remarkable hadith is a Baihaqi. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “Iron gets wet with water and develops rust. Similarly, the human heart gets rusted.” His companions asked, “Oh Prophet! What is it that cleans and shines the heart?” He replied, “To think of death more often (and be prepared for it) and to recite Qur’an.”