Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Monthly Archives: November 2003

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Gone fishing. Sensei will be back after Dec 3rd. Till then, love, peace and chikken grease!

Ma’Assalam 🙂

****

By The Steeds

By the steeds and the sparks of their hooves

I am, to my Lord, an ungrateful horse

Here I stand tethered without any rope

Without any harness except that of hope

Free and unbridled I’m told I may roam

With nothing to stop me from running from home

And nothing to stop me from seeing the others

Far horses afield, my long astray brothers

And though there are times that my ungrateful gaze

May lead me to wish I could wander and graze

My heart, it remembers deceptive fair weather

And darkness and fear I found far from my tether

And the poisonous fruit that made me so ill

And the pained journey home on nothing but will

By the steeds.

And their thundering hooves.

To my Lord, I will be, a most patient horse.

For love of him I need no rope

For fear of him I have my hope

Foolish are those who would yet choose to roam

When light and plenty are here and at home

Though still nothing stops me from seeing the others

I’ve no intent to join my lost brothers

From the earth to the heavens I now turn my gaze

And look to this grass only to graze

No matter how lonely, how cold the weather,

By the steeds, I wander no more from my tether.

I was going to write a blog about how Eid here is one day later than everywhere else in the world, and how some of our leaders –ahem ahem- are complete morons. But then I remember that my momma told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all.

:::glares silently in the direction of the Moonsighting Committee:::

Then I was going to write a blog about how Eid has become depressingly commercialized, glitzified, and saturated with dancing, dancing, and more dancing. Every channel here airs special Eid shows, all of which consist of giggling movie stars and swinging singers (who in spite of being dressed, appear to be naked), and guess what, they’re all dancing. Bloody hell. Where’s the Taqwa? Where’s the nur and barkat of Eid? Where, if any, is our Islam? And last but not least, where is Aniraz’s slingshot?

I never thought I’d be one of those angry fundu types. I knew I was a FUNdu, I just didn’t know I could be so angry, but when I see an actress in a skin-tight, paper-thin, shoulderless, backless dress bounce on screen, jiggle to the music and then wish me a blessed Eid, I want to hurt something. Lots of something and plenty of someone, whichever someone is in charge of taking all of the religiousness out of our religious holidays. This would be the same someone who has pop stars singing hamd, naat, and nasheed before Iftar, and then the same obscene and haram songs right after the Maghrib azhan has been called.

This same someone tones the TV programming down a notch out of ‘respect for Ramadan,’ and then once Ramadan is over, pulls out all of the moral stops for the Eid shows. That’s not respect for Ramadan. And that’s certainly not any respect for Islam or Allah, halfway obeying for only as long as a holy month lasts, and then more than making up for it on the holy days. You get the idea that PTV is repenting for its moral behavior.

Aside from the Eid shows, there are also the special Eid commercials- brainwashing ditties about this holiday being about new shoes, about face lotion, about clothes, about a new cell phone, about gold jewelry, and about shopping until your pockets are empty and your credit card is maxed out. (MCB Bank says, celebrate this Eid with a new car, with only 10% interest!)

You hear the words ‘Eid Manaein’ followed by ‘*product name* kay sath.’ Celebrate Eid with *your product name here.* Never once do you hear, Celebrate Eid with gratitude for the favors your Lord has given you freely, or Celebrate Eid with a commitment to improve your Deen, or by adopting an orphan, or planting a tree, or even giving a bent nickel to your local charity. Eid is now about excessive consumption- of food, of goods, of clothes, and of course, entertainment. It’s about having fun and letting your hair down from all the self-denial of Ramadan.

Of course, there’s a huge mistake right there, that people think of Ramadan as one month of self-denial simply for the sake of asceticism. They’ve missed the point. Ramadan is about retraining, reminding, reviving the religion and discipline that we may have let slide during the last year, and it’s not supposed to last only for a month. It’s supposed to START in the month and last all the way until the next one.

-Sigh-

Don’t let my negativity ruin your Eid. Just don’t turn on PTV, I beg you. In the mean time, Eid Mubarak. I wish you all, every single one of you, a most happy, joyous, blessed Eid, illuminated by the light of ‘Ilm, secure in the fold of Deen and content with the will of Allah. I pray that you are found in good health and ever-increasing Iman, I pray that Allah saves us all from the darkness around us and does not let us die except as Muslims in a state of Iman. Ameen.

Now where’s that slingshot…

Ate…tooo….much…haleem….

Can’t…move…

*gasp*

Eid Mubarak!

*passes out*

Once upon a time, thirteen years ago, itty-bitty Sensei was dropped head-first into Pakistan, and therefore, into Urdu. Having previously had an Urdu vocabulary of ZERO, she learned Urdu through what some people would call the ‘immersion method.’ I would call it ‘sink or swim,’ and I would also say that years later, I’m barely keeping my head above the waters of total illiteracy. I’m reminded of my Urdu handicap every time I come and visit the Khandaan and am verbally one-upped by nine-year olds. Take this conversation, for example, which originally occurred in Urdu.

Niece: Do you speak Urdu?

Sensei: (I’m answering in Urdu here folks.) What do you think?

Niece: (grins) Can you READ Urdu?

Sensei: A little.

Niece: (handing me a children’s story book) Here, read me this.

Sensei: (squinting at page one) Umm…

Niece: I thought you could read?

Sensei: I thought I could too, what’s this funny looking letter here?

Niece: That’s a ‘seen’ (letter “s”), they’ve just stretched it out to make it look pretty. You’re a grown-up and you can’t read my book?

Sensei: Well, you know Urdu isn’t my first language.

Niece: (calling other children) Hey you guys! Phupoo can’t read Nonehal! (name of children’s magazine)

Sensei: Well, errr…

Nephew: (in disbelief) You can’t even read Nonehal?

Niece: And she’s a grown-up too! Ha ha! Even Saad can read Nonehal, and he’s six!

(the crowd of children grows. I sigh and pull out a copy of The Professor, by Bronte, which I had been reading)

Sensei: (opening page of book) Here kiddo, can you read?

Niece: Yes!

Sensei: Read this.

Niece: (taking book and sounding out letters) Madame, jay vooz preee, hey I can’t read this, it’s nonsense! What is this?

Sensei: You mean you can’t read French? Even Aniraz Phupoo can read French! Ha ha! Hey Aniraz Phupoo, she can’t even read French!

(the children are duly shamed, so we call it a truce and go play badminton in the back yard)

The fact that my nieces and nephews can’t read French doesn’t excuse me from not being able to read Urdu at a literate level, but it sure it useful. If harassed about my lack of language skills, I can always break out in my preschool French, or into the lyrics of the Russian song ‘Katusha.’ But this only works on children, and thankfully the adults are very gracious about my lame Urdu. So gracious in fact, that they didn’t want to hurt my feelings by correcting me, so for three years, they let me say that I had hide (khaal) instead of skin (jild). They also let me reverse the words for ‘invent’ and ‘prevent.’ I’m still not sure which one is ijaad and which one is ‘nijaad’ so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut here.

I also mixed up the words 1.‘marham’ and 2.‘marammat,’ which meant that I spoke of cars receiving ointment (1.) and certain wounds being repaired (2.). I reduced a shopkeeper to tears once when I tried to ask him for a dozen white beads (motian), and by a twist of the tongue, asked him for a dozen white fat women instead (moTian). I corrected myself right away, but it was too late. The damage was already done. The tears were already running down his face. And I never did get my fat women…errr…beads.

I’ve been reading the Urdu newspaper lately in an attempt to bring my vocabulary up, but I don’t know if it’s appropriate reading material. New words and phrases I have learned this week have been to condemn (muzammat karma), reaction/consequence (radde-amal), to express heartfelt sympathy (dilli afsos ka Izhar karma), extremism (intiha pasandi), and United Nations (Aqwami Mutahidda). So now my brain is full of political jargon that I don’t know how to use. I can just imagine:

Cousin: Oh no, the pakoras have burnt!

Sensei: Main is garam tail ki sakht muzammat karti houn aur aap ki pakoray ki jalnay ki dilli afsos ka Izhar karti houn. Aqwami Mutahidda ko is baat ki itila honai chaihiyay! (I strongly condemn this hot oil and express my heartfelt concern over the burning of your pakoras. The United Nations should be notified of this!)

:::teeth::::

Sensei’s blogging at 3 am again.

Left Brain: Are we not asleep yet?

Right Brain: You’re asking me? You’re the one who approved that last cup of chai. We’ve had enough chai to kill a horse.

:::pause:::

LB: I like horses.

RB: Me too.

LB: Do horses like chai?

::::pause:::

RB: We’ll have to find out.

LB: How? All the horses are at Clifton.

RB: Hmmm…

LB: Hmmm….

RB: We could go to Clifton?

LB: It’s 3:38.

RB: Wouldn’t be crowded at all…

LB: We can’t go to Clifton.

:::pause:::

RB: We could ask Uncle.

LB: If he’ll drive us to Clifton?

RB: No, if he has a horse.

LB: He has a cat.

RB: But the cat doesn’t like us.

LB: Who cares, so long as the cat likes chai…then, then uh….

RB: Then what?

LB: Well, then….then we won’t have to find a horse. Yeah.

RB: You’re talking nonsense. We don’t need to a find a horse.

LB: We don’t?

RB: No, we can make one at home.

:::pause:::

LB: We should go to bed now.

RB: Why? I just figured out how we could make a horse from an apple, some toothpicks, and a handful of gum-drops.

LB: Which is exactly why we should go to bed.

RB: Fine.

LB: Fine.

:::pause:::

LB: Are we asleep yet?

RB: What do you think?

LB: I think it’s Sehri time.

RB: I think you’re right. What do you want for Sehri?

LB: Chai.

:::whacks self on head with keyboard::::

Ow. It’s not my fault I’m still up. I don’t even want to be up right now, but I can’t sleep. Up until five minutes ago, I had been laying in bed, dutifully trying to fall asleep since midnight, but now I’ve given up and answered the computer’s siren song.

I really need to be asleep too. Aside from the fact that sleeping in ruins a perfectly good fast, my eyes are also bloodshot to hell and my head feels disconnected from my body. In the last 48 hours, I’ve slept a grand total of…drumroll please…four hours. So why haven’t I crashed yet? Chai. Chai, chai, chai, and chai. Yes, five cups of chai since Iftar. One of which was drunk at midnight, all of which were very strong and very large. What can I say, excessive chai consumption is part of hanging out with the Khandaan. You sit around and talk for hours, and of course, every 45 minutes or so you get another cup of chai. You don’t ask for more chai, it just comes, and you just drink it.

Then, when it’s bed-time (midnight) you brush your teeth, wash your face, hop into bed and then stare at the fuzz on your blanket for the next three hours with your mind running a mile a minute and your body pleading for mercy. The body wants to be asleep, really. It appreciates the bed, and the pillow, and even the overly-fuzzy blanket, but the mind is too busy to sleep. So far, mine has reinvented both the wheel and a better mouse-trap, as well as made plans for Sehri as soon as it’s officially time to ‘wake up.’

We’ll eat our plate of food, and then we’ll eat Aniraz’s plate of food, and when we’re done, we’ll have a nice hot cup of chai, yeah, yeah, un-hunh, and then we’ll drink Aniraz’s chai. *nods*

Like I’ve said before. Sensei is sleep depraved. *nods*

Before I begin I must make a disclaimer. Sensei believes strongly in intellectual property rights, and does not purchase pirated software. However, when Sensei is bored out of her brain, she will occasionally play other peoples.’ Remember kids, always buy original CD’s. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Adventures in Blogistan Presents: Sensei’s Bootleg PS2 Game Review

Dear readers, if you’ve never dealt with pirated CD’s before, then you probably don’t know that they’re reviewed on a scale that’s totally different from their original counterparts. Where original games are judged only on a few factors, like graphics, gameplay, sound, storyline, etc, bootlegs games are based on a few extra ones, like case content, and the ‘one-death distance.’

Case content is a self-explanatory phrase, whereas the ‘one-death distance,’ or ODD, may take some explaining. ODD represents how far I can get in a game without dying or saving, because I don’t have a memory card. So, in no order at all, here are the games we’ve reviewed this week.

Rygar: The Legendary Adventure

A no-brainer platform game, Rygar is surprisingly attractive (I mean the scenery, not the hero). The backgrounds are nicely rendered, the ancient Greek architecture in which the game has been set comes to life in a way that’s so nice looking that it makes you sad to be knocking it down and breaking it to little pieces. Of course, destroying every Corinthian column you find isn’t part of the plot, but when they give me a game where you’re actually allowed to interact (read: fight) with the scenery, I take advantage of it. I make it a point to destroy every vase and knock over every statue and column, not simply for the fun, but also because they’re hiding secret items in there. Not that I’ve figured out what any of those items do yet. Maybe I’m just destructive. I’m one of those people who spent all of my time in Zelda: Ocarina of Time harassing the little animated chickens in the village, just because they ran from me. Imagine my surprise when they fought back and killed me. Aah, memories.

Unfortunately, as good as Rygar looks (the hero. And the scenery) the game is boring. Dull. 100% plot-free. Rygar serves the princess. The princess is kidnapped, Rygar will save her. Rygar smash. Rygar battles foes from ancient Greek mythology, such as the Cyclops, the Titan…the armored caterpillar? The fire-flinging tulip-face? Anyway, Rygar destroys them all because Rygar is our hero. Yay.

Now the important aspects of the game, ODD (one-death distance) and cover content. Without dying or saving once, I played Rygar only up to the second chapter. I could’ve played longer, but frankly I was bored. I tried to get Rygar killed, but I had already pulverized all my enemies and didn’t have it in me to go forward to find some new ones. So I tried to throw Rygar off one of the beautiful, scenic coliseums, but he wouldn’t jump. I tried run him out of a window, and discovered that golden the sunset hanging outside the window was just a 2-D façade. So I ran Rygar into a wall and then hit the power button. ODD: 45 minutes.

Rygar’s cover content receives a rating of 6 for amusement. Apparently it was copied from a review of Rygar, which the printers failed to read before putting on the back of the game. Here it is, unedited, and in its entirety.

“The legendary adventure shares name if its predecessors, which appeared in arcades and on the Nintendo Entertainment System. But other than a few references and the main character’s yo-yo like weapon, the latest incarnation of Rygar shares very little in common with those to games. Similarly, Rygar: The Legendary Adventure’s thoroughly mediocre storyline & relatively short length are almost antithetical to the epic Greek mythology that the game is loosely based on. But the allure of action platformer that plays reasonably and looks and sounds excellent-“ (end cover. There’ nothing more written after this point.) Should you buy this game? No.

Onimusha: Warlords

Onimusha has the look of an absolutely beautiful game. The animation is simply lovely, and the backgrounds are extremely detailed. The fighting is simple enough to be easily mastered (attack, block, magic, and absorb) but varied enough to provide a challenge and room for expertise skill development (whack whack, absorb, whack, magic thunder thrust, pow!). The fighting is one of the best parts of the game. Character movement is nicely choreographed, and realistic enough to make the whole game look like a one long movie scene. Well, when I say realistic, I mean realistic as far as Japanese warrior zombies can be.

The atmosphere of the game is dark, the blood flies fast and free (who knew skeleton warriors HAD blood?) and the violence is enough to make even me cringe. I wouldn’t recommend this game for little kids. It might give them nightmares. Shoo, it’ll probably give me nightmares, but that won’t stop me from playing anyway.

The plot is intelligently presented enough to overcome the classic clichés, (lone warrior out to save kidnapped princess from zombie hordes with the help of mysterious imbued magical powers) and seriously written without being melodramatic. The ODD on this game was only half an hour, because it really was a challenge, and I was genuinely sad when my warrior-dude bit the dust while running from the first main boss. (run away!)

The game receives a cover content rating of 8 for grammatical correctness, if not originality. “In a world of darkness and magic, power-hungry warlords battle each other for control of feudal Japan. At the height of the chaos, a young princess is kidnapped…” Should you buy this game? Immediately, and buy me one too.

Ghost Vibration:

They say that presentation if everything. Whoever they are, they were right. This game never made it out of the box. It failed the reviewing criterion for cover content so badly that I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to take the CD out of the case. When I was done laughing, I passed it on to Aniraz, who also laughed until she could barely move. You’ll excuse me for not giving this game a proper review as soon as you read this excerpt…

“Shoot the ghost, aim and inhale! The new axis fear action which trembles the prayer. It depends on the elite chestnut thornback tar group Artoon, the work of topic this summer. While inside the Western-style building where many evil spirit wriggles, catching evil spirit the action game which it clears! The fear production with movie camera work, and the ghost capture by the unique weapon “Spear cancer/gun’ is a special feature.”

Should you buy this game? I’m not sure. I’ll let you know when I’m done giggling.

Blood Omen 2:

Having never played Blood Omen 1, I can’t tell you whether this game is better than or worse than the original. I can tell you that the backgrounds are average, and the bad guys are ok. Not great, but ok.

You are the anti-hero, Kain, vampire warrior extraordinaire, who is out to reclaim his dark empire from some mysterious rival vampire who’s taken over things while you spent the last 400 years snoozing.

Right, so you, Kain, wake up, grouchy and unhappy, and deign to follow around some saucy vampire tart (with a cape but no pants on) as part of a tutorial that lasts about 45 minutes, supposedly to help you remember the skills you may have forgotten during your 400 year nap. It would be nice if you could skip the tutorial and just read the command buttons from the menu, but there is no escape. So we follow around miss sassy-pants, who reminds us how to bludgeon people on the street to death and drink their blood. (Sensei the school teacher sez: Kain should get a time-out for bad behavior. It isn’t nice to exsanguinate pedestrians)

Once we finish the laborious and torturously long tutorial, we get to run amok somewhere in England, biting people and fighting things. Oh yes, and we get to take the weapons from defeated foes, which is something I appreciate very much. I always wondered why they never let you do that in other games. Cheapskates.

The cover content for this game gets an 8, it too is normal and grammatically correct. The ODD on this game? How long it took me to die the first time? Two seconds. Miss Sassy-pants told me water was deadly to vampires, that falling in would be the death of me, but did I take her advice? No. I ran off the end of a pier and died a horrible and rather effervescent death. Fortunately, this game gives you checkpoints at regular intervals from where you can be reincarnated (sans weapon) and try again. I may have died two or three times, but I did play for about two hours before putting my sleepy thumbs to bed.

As lukewarm as this review sounds, the game isn’t actually bad. Aside from the fighting and biting, you can also jump, climb, and employ a bit of strategy. Kain is a bit like an undead Lara Croft, but pastier. Should you buy this game? I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t like any games that involve killing innocent people. Once you pull a weapon the people run of screaming too, and when you corner them, they beg for mercy. It’s one thing to slay a whole army of demons and bad guys, but a game that rewards you for killing people, even women walking down the street, is just warped.

The End.

Well, we’re here. We’ve made it to Karachi, and by way of a lawn chair, parked by a CPU on the floor and sitting in front of a monitor that’s perched on someone’s dresser, we’ve also made it back into Blogistan.

Right, so back to blogging.

The flight from Islamabad to Karachi was short, and like all turbulent flights, it was great for restoring the digital clarity on your fear of Allah that you sometimes lose over time. If you’re ever feeling a little disconnected from your Deen, or that you’ve gotten some static interference with you direct link to Allah, just board a plane, take it zillions of feet into the air in cloudy weather, and then let it drop a few times, and maybe do a little pitching. Not only will that put the fear of God, death, Qiyamat, and accountability back into you (Astaghfirullah, I’m not ready to die!) but it will also cure hiccups.

There’s nothing like a little perceived brush with death to remind you of your own mortality. I highly recommend it to everyone. But you know, if you can’t afford to board a plane on a windy day, and if you happen to also live in Karachi, I would recommend this great new chauffer service that not only:

1. Gets you from point A to point B, but also-

2. Dashes any delusions of immortality and-

3. Reacquaints you with the possibility of your own demise.

I call it, “Qasim’s Qiyamat Prequel Tour,” or, “Corolla of Death.”

Here’s how it works. You hop into the car fifteen minutes before Iftar with half an hour of road between you and your destination, and then watch as the driver (Qasim) breaks ever traffic rule known to man, and then makes up some new violations as he goes along. It really is most exciting, and the brushes with death or dismemberment that result from running red-lights and tailgating petrol tankers do wonders for your Taqwa. And for the hundreds of near-misses, we really only hit two cars on the way home from the airport.

Just two.

One smash into a van in the airport parking lot, you know, to raise the adrenaline right at the start of the tour, and then one with another car half-way through the journey to keep that adrenaline rushing. Damage done to other vehicles was ignored (this is Karachi) while the damage done to ours (knocked a head-light out, the whole thing, complete with casing) was easily mended with the supply of spare head-lights kept in the house. Apparently these head-lights fall out easily, and often.

Contrary to common belief, this tour is actually exhilarating and even….fun. Of all the near-death experiences I’ve ever had, these last 57 in the car yesterday were the only ones where I’ve been laughing and seeing my life flash before my eyes at the same time.

Driver: :::Swerving to avoid pedestrian while being squeezed between cement median and truck loaded with sides of beef::: “Who am I to blame if these pedestrians keep trying to jump out at me? I swear, every time I drive all the crazies come out and try to hit me…Hey! Stop clutching at that handle, you want the door to fall off? Ow! Stop hitting me Ma, you want me to crash into something? :::swerve, screeeeeeeech, more swerving::::

This may have been the only time in my life where I was unable to recite Ayatul-Kursi properly due to the fact that I was cracking up. For the heart-attack my cousin’s driving gave me, it also gave me a belly-ache from laughing.

Driver: :::upon hitting another car and watching the head-light fly off into space::: What was that noise? That other guy must have lost a bit of his car then. Just a bit of plastic off of his cheap car. It was falling off anyway, I saw.

His mother, Aunt: Our car made a noise too then. It was our car, we lost something!

Driver: Oh that? Just the engine. You want me to go back and get it?

Unfortunately, even with my cousin’s new and improved driving skills, we didn’t make it home in time for Iftar. We did make it half-way across Karachi in ten minutes, only to be blocked in pre-Iftari traffic five minutes from home. There was then some debate about whether or not the azhan had been called yet, which we tried to resolve based on whether the pedestrians still looked hungry.

Aunt: Look at how far the sun has set already, why don’t you eat one of the samosas I brought?

Driver: No no, it’s not time yet. See that fat guy? If it was Iftar he’d be running. Not walking to wherever he’s going.

Aunt: But he could already have broken his fast and would now be walking to the Masjid for Maghrib.

Driver: That guy would still be eating. No way it’s Iftar time.

Aunt: Those men on the corner were eating dates….

Driver: Shame on them, eating during Roza. Couldn’t they have waited five more minutes until the azhan was called? I swear, people these days… Look, there’s the house! See? I told you guys I would get you home before Iftar.

Karachi-trip shopping list:

Vitamins C, E, and Calcium- For healthy immunity, skin and bones.

Mosquito Repellant- For the preservation of sanity and dignity :::scratch scratch scratch:::

Anti-Itch Cream- Because mosquito repellant never works anyway.

Bar of White Chocolate- To keep up troop morale during said shopping excursion

Warm Fuzzy Chenille Shawls [2]- For the aunts

Suits For all Unmarried Girl Cousins [3]- The rest [14] were married off a long time ago.

Boardgame- Risk. To pacify and amuse the beloved Mongol hordes (nieces and nephews)

Chess- To pacify and amuse myself while simultaneously boring Aniraz.

Strawberry Ice-Cream Cone For Daddy– Returning yesterday’s favor.

Dental Floss– To fix hole in last suitcase in the house. The rest [8] are currently in circulation abroad.

Wrapping Paper– For aforementioned gifts, purple kitties, pink flowers, yellow smileys

Obnoxious Eid Cards- Bus karo, aur kitna khaogay. Eid ka din, kya hospital jaogay? Translation: Stop, how much more are you gonna eat? You planning to spend Eid in the hospital or what?

Toothpaste– Momma sez: brush your teeth every day or they will fall out and decay.

Disposable Socks- I don’t expect any of them to make it home anyway.

Sweaters- because it’s cold at night.

Summer shirts- because it’s still hot in the day.

Antacids– Pakoras pakoras pakoras. *urp*

Bandaids– go three weeks without hurting myself? Yeah, right.

Well comrades, I’m not sure what the proper protocol is for disappearing for three weeks, but here we go. We’re off to chill with the Khandaan (extended family), a place of fantastic familial madness, playing cards and drinking tea all night (AFTER Ramadan), cheating at board games, and squeezing people that you haven’t seen all year. I don’t know if I’ll be able to blog from there, I’ll have to find out when I get there. If not, please accept Eid greetings in advance and amuse yourselves as you see fit until I return to blogistan. Eat pakoras, wear your Eid clothes and hug each other in excess.

Anyway, Alhamdulillah, I can say that I’ve been really blessed to have such a genuinely nice Khandaan. For six months Aniraz and I lived with one of our uncles, and for the whole time, we were treated as family, not just by our aunt and uncle. On Eid, we gave and received gifts as part of the family, we were taken to parties and functions with the other girls as just two extra daughters. When our aunt went shopping for clothes, she brought back two extra suits, when our cousins brought back Eid gifts, they brought two extra of everything.

Apart from shopping, the people from my family have also been very generous with their love and concern. If you’re staying at the family compound, where six or seven houses belonging to family members are built next to each other, and you sneeze, someone will yell ‘Alhamdulillah’ over the boundary wall and then ask if you’ve been to the doctor yet. If not, do you need a ride? If you need clothes for a party, you can phone up a cousin, who will not only volunteer their wardrobe, but demand that you wear their nicest outfit and do your darndest to make it look good. You can’t borrow an outfit by itself, you have to take the shoes, scarf, and accessories to go with it.

Someone might think that Aniraz and I were treated with such regard because we were from abroad, but the truth is, the Khandaan is this nice to each other as well. The boys swap motorcycles and clothes, share each other’s adventures, and often steal each other’s food. The girls not only run a communal closet, but they also maintain a close network of phone connections and late-night card games and sleepovers for any cousin whose parents might be out of town. As far as the interaction BETWEEN the boys and girls are concerned, the boys willfully do any and all errand-running for the girls, and in exchange, the girls make tea and omelets and fresh roti at 4 am for boys who weren’t hungry at dinner but now claim they’re about to faint from hunger. (turnips for dinner, can you blame them?)

At first I found this exchange of service to be very quaint, almost rustic, and slightly chauvanistic. (The girls are making tea for the boys? What, the boys don’t know how to make it themselves?) As a person raised abroad, I used to be very weirded out with the idea making of anyone but my father any sort of meal, at any time of day or night. “Make it yourself!” would be the typical answer. You wouldn’t readily iron someone’s shirt, especially not your dweeby little brother’s, not unless your mother made you Even then you wouldn’t care whether it was nicely done, because service was servitude and servitude was oppression!

There is a big difference though, in that servitude is done from compulsion, and service is done out of love. This is something I have come to understand only after seeing the practical application of love in my Khandaan. I already knew love in theory, but love as an application was a horse of another color. It’s still very novel to me that my aunt insists on washing and ironing all of my uncle’s shirts, even though the family is quite well-off and could afford to have every article of clothing in the house professionally laundered on a weekly basis, all the way down to the socks, underwear and bed linens. She does it herself because she takes pride in the creases on my uncle’s shirt, and that is one of the ways that she shows she loves him. He, in turn, will come home from work with exciting things, often gold jewelry, for no reason whatsoever. When she asks for grocery money, they’ll battle over his wallet though they’re both in their fifties, and she’ll usually end up with a few thousand rupees in excess of what she asked for.

Aniraz and I learned a lot from staying with the Khandaan, and when our parents and brother joined us after being apart for six months, we made tea, we ironed shirts, we cooked eggs at 3 am, and nearly gave them all heart-attacks from the shock our change in behavior caused. It took a bit to see the results of the ‘applied love,’ because it takes some getting used to when a person presents a favor that you haven’t even asked for. But soon, you start to appreciate what they’ve done, and you want to do the same for them, because you’re really grateful, and it makes you feel loved.

Is love as simple as making tea and buying your sister bangles? Sometimes. But it isn’t the act of cooking or shopping itself, it’s the sentiment behind actually doing something for someone for the simple reason that you love them. The applied love is both a cause and an effect, because the person who initiates it is acting on the effect of love, and the person who gets the kindness becomes effected, and begins to return the favor.

I would actually argue that doing things out of love is more important than just saying ‘I love you.’ I remember a story that my father once told me, that I think was originally told by Sayyid Abu Ala Maududi. In that story, an old father is thirsty, so he says to his son, “Son, I’m thirsty, could you please bring me some water?” And the son says, “I love you dad,” but he doesn’t bring the water.

The father is really parched, so he says again, “Son, please, I need some water.” And the son just hugs his old father and says, “Dad, I love you SO much.” The father is getting desperate, he hasn’t had anything to drink at all and he pleads, “Son, I’m dying, please give me water!” And the son only kisses his father tenderly on the forehead and says, “Dad, I really love you.”

And then the father dies.

This is one of those stories that your parents tell you to freak you out, and it really should too. You wonder what kind of love you give them, whether you’re doing any applied love or whether you’re just giving your parents lip service. In the end, what you say doesn’t matter one tenth of what you do, because love isn’t what you say, it’s what you do.

As I sit here typing this, I’m eating the ice-cream that my father brought home for no reason. He claims he’s psychic, and we think he’s right. Basically, any time that anyone in our house has muttered, “I feel like ice-cream…” my dad has gotten these brain-waves that tell him to buy ice-cream, regardless of where he was in the city at the time. This may be due to the fact that any time is a good time for ice cream (Usman will agree, I’m sure), but it’s also due to the fact that something my father said to us one time (right after he had brought home ice-cream) “I must remember to treat my daughters as guests, because they won’t be in this house forever. They will leave, and I won’t be able to enjoy them any more.”

I think the same about my parents, that I should be treating them as guests as well, not taking them for granted or ever forgetting how much I owe them for the love they’ve shown me. After all, they won’t be in this house forever.

It’s been an interesting afternoon. Not only have I dropped an entire kilo of chickpeas on the floor and then chased after them, I recovered most of them too. Except the ones that have rolled under the fridge. They can stay there until Qiyamat comes for all I care. It serves them right for trying to escape the inexorable fate of being turned into Iftar. If they had just stayed in the bowl, they would’ve gotten turned into cholay (chick-pea salad) but since they decided to cling to the earth, some of them got turned into hummus instead.

:::squish:::

The Italians make wine with their toes. I don’t see why I can’t make hummus with my sandals. All you do is step on some of the chickpeas that escaped your notice, smashing them into the treads of your sandals. Then go step on some garlic, walk through a pile of salt and add a little Tahini for taste. Voila.

Based on the other things I’ve dropped today (you think fasting breath is bad? Try having fasting BRAIN) I could make a few more dishes. From the wet, boiled potato that slipped out of my grip and ricocheted off the dish rack, I could make hashed browns. Or smashed browns. After rolling around in the sink that potato certainly looked brown.

If I could just have directed the river of milk I poured on the counter towards the pile of coffee-crystals that missed my cup at Iftar time, I could have hosted a tea-party for the ants. They would have loved me for it too. Heck, I would have loved me for it. Except that the sugar was six inches upstream and I don’t like my coffee unsweetened.

I’m not the only one who cooks like this, so stop laughing at me, Aniraz.

Just two days ago she dropped a container of red lentils (dry, uncooked) on the floor, and it exploded all over the kitchen like so much disc-shaped confetti. She cleaned it up. But if she had taken my advice, she would’ve dropped some hot water, red pepper, and browned onions, stomped until soft, added a teaspoon of cumin…

3 am, Village Time.

The night watchman (chawkidaar) is walking up and down the same ½ kilometer strip. He has a whistle, which he blows intermittently, without any regularity. He fweets when he pleases. Just now he poked his head into the small shop where four tailors work and sleep, and he fweeted away till they woke up and started cursing him, though not good naturedly. After that he walks down the street, all the way until the main double road, and then walks back up it again. As he goes, stray dogs prance out from behind cars and people’s lawns to follow him at a distance, wagging their tails and nipping at each other playfully. His entourage.

The chawkidaar reaches the end of his beat, the other main street, and turns around to head back the other way. On his way to the end of the block, he makes a detour at the ‘chappar hotel,’ a village eatery composed of an open air stove, a frying pan perched on a barrel and an above-ground tandoor that doubles as a stove. Since it’s almost time for Sahoor, the cook is setting things up, dragging out lawn chairs and the one charpai that at least ten customers can fit on. While he’s setting up he’s also trying to fry parathas, so once he throws one on the tava, he rushes off and does something else, stirs whatever is in the fyring pan, opens a few more chairs, or throws another piece of wood into the barrel before the tava starts to smoke dangerously.

The chawkidaar stands near the tava as the parathas are frying, he talks to the cook as the cook dashes about madly, trying to line his chairs up straight as well as not burn his bread. A few stray dogs get bold enough to come prancing up to the warmth of the barrel, and both the chawkidaar and the cook make sudden throwing motions towards the dogs. This, my dear non-Pakistanis, is called ‘Air Rock.’ It’s what you throw at a stray dog when they’ve come too close or gotten too bold. It doesn’t actually take a rock, because the dogs know well enough what a person looks like when something is about to be thrown, and they take the hint and scamper away.

There is a flash of lightening so bright that it’s blinding, followed by a roll of thunder. There is a brief conversation between the cook and the chawkidaar, in which the cook says something about “Baarish” (rain) and the chawkidaar shakes his head and says “Barsaat” (storm).

In the distance, the dogs suddenly begin barking, all eleven of them who’ve congregated beneath a street light, and both men throw air rocks again. The dogs are too far away to care though, so they go on howling and yipping. The cook gets frustrated and howls back at the dogs. The chawkidaar laughs.

Suddenly the clouds flare and crash again, and it begins to rain. Not light rain, but big, cold drops of cruel winter rain, and panic breaks out in the chapar hotel. The cook yells something, and suddenly, five men rush out of the darkened shop behind him and start moving lawn chairs. Three of them pick the barrel full of fire (and topped with frying parathas) and move it underneath of the cloth awning that counts as the restaurant’s only shelter. There is a bit of swearing and howling on behalf of the men, which the dogs answer.

After one last communal howl, the dogs slink off in a pack towards the group of taxis parked on the roadside and begin fighting for spaces underneath. Only the strongest dogs will stay dry tonight, because there are more dogs than taxis and no two dogs will stand to share the same taxi.

The smallest of them, the scrawny, unhappy dogs with drooping ears and dripping coats, jog dejectedly down the street in search of shelter.

Where do I fit in in all this? I’m the lone figure on the rooftop, laughing in the rain and flannel pajamas.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah: The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing of Allah be upon him, has said: The food for two persons is sufficient for three, and the food for three persons is sufficient for four persons.” -Sahih Al-Bukhari

As I type this, I am nodding and groaning at the same time. Why, oh why, did I eat so very much at Iftar today? I think it’s because there was so much food that we ran out of space on the table, and that it’s mandatory to take a little bit of everything. You know, just to taste.

We don’t have Iftar like this every day, today was a party-sharty. It was also a lesson in self-control, as in, “Why it is important to exercise some.” I’m not going to type of the shamefully long list of all the things I ‘tasted,’ (pitch-in parties…groooaaan…) I’m just going to say it was too much at the time. It wouldn’t have been too much at any other time during the year, but after a week of fasting I think my stomach capacity may be reduced to about…eight ounces. Yep. How else to explain that I can fill up on a cup of coffee and two dates and be set until dinner two hours later?

Right, well my stomach has shrunk, but my eyes are still the same size. They’re still way too big for my current stomach capacity. If I had been smarter, I would’ve implemented all the neato tips I have learned to discipline one’s stomach during Ramadan. Which are:

Number One: The less food you put before yourself, whether in your plate or on the table, the less food you’ll eat. Never mind how empty the dining table looks, or how deprived you THINK you’ll be, the fact is, we don’t need half of the food we cram into our faces as soon as the Azhan is called. One good idea is to prepare a plate of Iftari using your brain and not your hungry eyes. Set this plate in front of you and eat from it once the Azhan is called. Don’t fill it again, because chances are, your logical estimation of the food you needed was correct the first time, and anything that would be added afterwards may be due to an overly-enthusiastic tongue. Besides, stuffing yourself silly as soon as the sun sets kinda defeats the purpose of fasting, in that fasting is supposed to help us tame our bodily cravings, not just put them off for a few hours and then indulge them to excess. :::whacks self on head with empty plate:::

:::brushes crumbs out of hair:::

Number Two: Eat and Run. To the prayer rug, that is. Don’t make Iftar a long, leisurely affair, because the longer you’re at the table, the more you’ll eat. Eat and go pray, then come back and have a big drink of water because chances are you were dehydrated anyway.

Number Three: Clean up right away. Brothers too. Help your mother out. She’s probably tired. Plus, if you put the food away immediately it can’t sit there and demand that you eat it.

Number Four: After Iftar and Maghrib, leave the dining area. Go read a book, preferably the Qur’an, or work out, or contemplate the sky, or something, but don’t hang around and pick on things non-stop until dinner is served. Yes you, I’m talking to YOU, Abez.

:::eeek!:::

(Blog version 2.0. Edited for clarity at 10:37 pm, +6 GMT)

It’s 3:39 am and here I am, downstairs, on the computer, in the dark, by myself. And it’s cold too.

So now you sez, Abez, go to bed!

And I sez, I just came from bed. I lay there for exactly 2 hours and 14 minutes before making my escape.

Then you sez, Why were you not asleep?

And I sez, Cuz I’m a big loser who’s ruined my sleep schedule by waking up at 1 in the afternoon today, that’s why. And now I’ll probably be up until Suhoor, and then sleep in again, totally ruining another fast.

Then you sez: What’s going on here sensei?

And I sez: It’s this sleeping thing. So far, I had been waking up in the morning, even though I’m off from work for the entire month of Ramadan, precisely because I did not want to waste my fasting hours in la-la land. For what it’s worth, I have only about 7 or 8 hours of daylight before the sun sets and it’s time to eat again, and I don’t want to be snoozing through it. It’d be a shameful thing to be asleep the whole time, because then it’s not like I’d even know I was fasting to begin with, and how can I derive any benefit, spiritual or otherwise, from being hungry in my sleep? Aside from dreaming about donuts?

Then someone else sez: But what’s the point of being awake while your stomach is growling? In fact, what’s the point of feeling hungry anyway?

And I scratches my head and sez: Hunger, like anger and passion, is one of the strongest forces that man can experience. And also like anger and passion, it has its place within a certain halal limit. But as humans, and as sinners, we tend to take things beyond the limits that are good for us. We eat to excess and damage our bodies, we act of out anger where mercy would be called for instead, and we turn our passions and desires to haram, allowing them to consume and preoccupy us.

One of the ideas of fasting is to control these base urges, not just hunger, but the other things as well, and to bring them back into the limits which Allah recommended, to basically show them what’s what.

By doing so you are retraining your body and mind to not only match, but exceed the necessary standard. You can eat during the day for the rest of the year, but you know you don’t have to over-eat. You know that you have it in you to discipline yourself and not pig-out, because you did it for a whole month in Ramadan. You may get angry at some point in the months that follow, but you know you don’t have to swear or fight, and you know you can avoid it this one day because you did it for a whole month in Ramadan. You may feel passion or desire, but you know you won’t allow it to consume you, you won’t become unhealthily obsessed by something you know you have the power to deny for an entire month.

Like I said, it’s spiritual boot-camp. And who could get any benefit from sleeping though boot camp? The idea is to be making a conscious effort to subdue your most primal and base urges, and in order to do so, it would really help to be…uh…conscious.

Then you sez: You’re still not asleep yet, loser.

And I sez: I know, but InshaAllah I’ll wake up tomorrow and stay up. And I can go without coffee in the morning too, because I did it for a whole month last Ramadan.

My lips cracked today while I was fasting. It didn’t feel very deep at the time, but when I saw a small red drop suddenly appear on the floor by my feet, I realized they were bleeding. My first thought was, gross.

My second thought was, Oh My God. One drop of blood. This may have been the first time in my life when I have ever shed a drop of blood for something, anything remotely Islamic.

I have bled before, gotten bloody knees from rollerblading, given myself bloody palms from crashing my father’s motorcycle and a bloody leg from a bicycle accident, but none of this blood had any meaning.

But this blood though, it meant something, that I was suffering for Islam, right?

Maybe.

But how can I compare my one drop to the rivers of it that practically flow out of other places, out of Iraq, out of Afghanistan, out of Palestine, out of Algeria. How can this tiny little splotch measure up to bloody handprints on broken concrete walls and deep maroon stains on the floors where my brother has tried to break his fall? One person alone has enough blood in them to stain the front of my house, and I got all happy over my one drop of blood, my little blot of inadvertent and inconsequential suffering from fasting in pleasantly cool weather. My little sacrifice.

Ramadan is about introspection, about not only looking at one’s soul, but seeing as well. Let’s have a look then. Who am I? What, if anything, have I done to help the Ummah I claim to be a part of? Where am I going? Am I making any effort whatsoever to grow spiritually? Or have I been stagnating at this level for years? I took a few steps up the ladder a while back, but I haven’t climbed for a while. There’s a long way to go, but I’m not even looking up any more. I’m looking around, wasting my time, staring at the ground- this same ground with one drop of blood.

This all points to the question of sacrifice, and why I don’t seem to be making any. Why have I not been better about realizing what needs done, and then just doing it? Why am I waiting for someone else to take action for me? Why am I sleepwalking through the only chance I get to prove my soul worthy of Paradise?

Why am I clinging to my spot on the ladder like it’s the destination and not the journey?

Up the ladder, where the rungs disappear into the clouds, are footsteps of those who have gone before me. And they are marked in blood.

Sensei Feels Soggy.

By soggy she means deflated.

By deflated she means defunct.

By defunct she means out of order.

You know what she means.

It is sometimes said that things have to get worse before they get better. This pithy maxim is dedicated to Ahmad, who mentioned on my tag board that my posts have been getting substandard lately, possibly due to Ramadan. Well, in an attempt to fulfill this wise prediction (worse before better) I’m going to type another really lame blog and then work on a better one tomorrow, but today, I’m just going to bewail the state of things at large. *wail*

My MSN messenger won’t work. I’m posting this because of the many, many people that have been trying to have one-sided conversations with me in the last week. No, I am most definitely not ignoring you, or being pensively silent, I’m just not sending or receiving any messages, even though I appear to be online. And sometimes, one line out of a dozen will actually get through to a person, but that’s all. It’s frustrating enough to want to take a chapal to the CPU.

:::whack.whack.whack.whack.whack.whack.whack:::

So yeah, any advice, Oh My Tech-Savvy Blogistanis? Other than get DSL and a new computer?

-sigh- Well, at least Ramadan has been going well. Of course, the daylight hours seem to last inordinately long, but at least after sunset things begin to speed up. Alhamdulillah, I’ve managed to not play one single video game (Nethack or otherwise) since the beginning of Ramadan, and have filled my free time with working out and reading instead. And my trusty sidekick Aniraz (who actually kicked me the other day, which may explain why they call them sidekicks) has been invaluable as a Qur’an reader/reminder. Reading Qur’an out loud is great, because then two people can benefit from it at the same time, and because you can discuss things.

Hmmm. I definitely feel defunct. And maybe it’s more than the fact that the laundry is calling my name. Allah knows best. Seeing as how it’s only noon and Iftar preparations are hours away, my other entertainment options include:

Dirty laundry? But it’s so…dirty

Working out? Actually, can’t do that while I’m fasting. I’d croak.

Blog surfing? I’d love to but the internet connection is bogus.

Sewing? It is a wise man who learns from his mistakes. After putting one pant leg on all wonky yesterday, I’m not about to do THAT again, at least not without the benefit of coffee.

This is such a lame blog. Which is ok, because things have to get worse before they get better.

Is this better now?

Alright folks, without further ado, here’s is Brother Sven’s version of what’s going on here…:p

whoa, ok, hold your horses for a sec here… Abez, is that my bio?? (off the record: remember guys, girls always exaggerate qualities to make Prince Charming look just a little better). I’m compelled to do some tafseering here…

Alias: I’ve had a lot of weird names, and ‘Brother Terminator’ is by FAR the nicest one yet. When I was a kid, they called me baba (no clue why), then they got creative and started calling me Mr. Bubbles (still no clue why either). Then they got bored of me and sent me to school so I could cause chaos there. In kindergarten I was that kid always stealing the little plastic cows from our class animal farm, so they came up with a few names for me there. By grade 3, I was the smelly Paki.. oops I mean… Nordic (sniff sniff, you smell like curry! errr… whale blubber). In grade 5 I made a few allies, and I was just me! (diplomacy WORKS!). Then in grade 6, I was promoted and became the infamous Fatso. c’mon, there’s always a fatso. Oye!!! motaaaayy! motaaay alooo! (translation= Hey fatty, fat potaaaaato!) What’sa class without a fatty?

Soon enuff, I took care of that. One summer of B-ball, roller blading and training, and I was back slick and chillin. (‘Whoa, whhoooose THAT new guy??’) From there on, I guess there wasn’t much development on the names front. Except one maybe, during high school, I was a little quiet, maybe even considered shy by some, so a few people noticed that and dubbed me ‘The mute’. Of course, then we all grew up and realized Santa Clause wasn’t for real and neither was the tooth fairy, so it was all kool in the end.

ok, moving along here..

Real name: Sven? Abez, you cudda given me a Muslim name at least, but Sven?? Now they’re never gonna believe this stuff. That name needs a Muslim-ish sound to it.. maybe Sevvaanul Abdullah, or how about Sev’Nur Rahmaan? We can even drop that name altogether and say it was a typo or something, but I like something like … Meer Bahadur Jaan Wala Khan?? You think it suits me? I know it doesn’t have an Icelandic touch to it.. but hey, don’t kid your’self, Pakis are *everywhere* and there ain’t nuttin wrong with a Paki Viking.

Status: Stop lying Abez. I conned you into marrying me, let’um know the truth. I started it, and you know it! But yes, I have 3 wives 28 children… oops , I meant, I’m engaged and I can’t wait till I get married to my one and only 🙂

Place of birth: umm… minor typo. Subzi mundi, Iceland.

Hair Color: Blond, greasy, occasionally dyed green and blue when I’m possessed by the Metallica heavy metal demon. I just can’t help it, I wake up and find tattoos and piercings all over… And sometimes when we have guests over, I’ll be sitting there all quiet, calm, very nicely conducting myself, and all of a sudden…it takes over! I leap into the air and do the guitar move, head banging, “born to be wild!” yeah! You think I’m bad, you should see my sister. She’s known as the ‘heavy metal hijabi’. Scary sight dude! Yeah man, there’s a breed of those still around.

Eye Color.. Lol! I was gonna say flaring red, but then you might think some psycho jinn has taken over me… either that or I’ve been smoking some weird stuff…well, ok ice blue. But there’s lots of surma (kohl, my momma just made a whole bunch) in there. (btw, my momma is the daughter of a Hakeem, A Nordic Hakeem of course!, so she makes those traditional remedies passed down from generations.)

Height and Weight: This is actually the truth. I know it seems a bit far fetched, but yeah, caveman Sven has big dimensions. When I was in my mommas tummy, they fed her turkeys day and night. After I popped out, she kept feeding me Nihari. Yeah, I was practically born with teeth, and I bit. One day they let me loose in the chicken pen in our yard, and man, it was Qiyamat for them chickens. Oh, and you don’t even wanna know what happened to my pet goat. Then on my 1st birthday, I was given a Danish cow as a gift. So you can see why I’m a giant. Giant training starts from an early age, and many animals are sacrificed in the noble cause. Yo man, who doesn’t want their very own giant?? Just admit it, you all want one.

Languages spoken: I don’t speak Pushto or Farsi. But you know what, I speak fluent Fay ki boli! Anyone who knows this language belongs to an elite group, who have gone beyond the need to converse in humanoid dialects. Mufuj’jafai fa’fai kifi bofol’lifi afa’tifi ha’fai!!! Beat that! (translation?= Abez hasn’t a clue!)

Hobbies: C’mon, that’s a bit too much flexing. You’re making it look like I’m flexing all the time, like some baysharam beech wala nanga bum! (translation= shameless naked beach bum) Nonetheless, it’s no secret that every guy flexes in the mirror, regularly, and sometimes even a few times a day. It’s a guy thing, we all do it. Each time we think our arms look a little bigger, or we’re just a little closer to that 6-pack. Maintaining an amazing physique it not easy you know. The secret to a healthy lifestyle lies in Nihari and Lahori parathas.

Education: Apart from my Doctorate in Veterinary Physics, my laser printer prints out quality diplomas, degrees, and certificates from a variety renowned Universities and colleges of the western world. My extensive knowledge and experience in the science of Pseudo Engineering has earned me Honorary degrees from institutions such as Yale, Harvard, and MIT.

Occupation: great, she tells them all the manly jobs and then end with a hand model? You know, Lifeguard, Fireman, Chief, Hunter, Muezzin… real brotherly stuff. Abez, my bulging hairy knuckles don’t make a pretty sight. And then people wonder why guys become sissies after marriage, well… you got sisters making hand models out of us…what do u expect?

Ok, so that’s me in a nutshell. Well, who am I? In case you haven’t seen my blog, it is the one with ….yikes, Iftar time! Gotta go.

Ok ok, enough about my engagement. And brother Sven will send a guest-post when he can, but at the moment he’s busy writing a thesis titled: Ethical Ramifications and Grounds for the Cross-Ambulation of Certain Poultry Across Certain Roads in the 21st Century: A Paradigm. What did you think they studied in Theology of Veterinary Physics anyway?

So, back to nonsense as usual. Ramadan has been going well so far, Alhamdulillah. Fasting is quite useful actually, in that it makes it easier to concentrate on prayer, and it feels kinda good to be running on an empty stomach. I do ok without the food, though the lack of caffeine kind of slows me down. Still, I enjoy fasting, and find it a good thing for spiritual renewal. One thing fasting is NOT good thing for though, is sewing projects.

Now folks, my sartorial skills are dodgy, even on good days, and I have about a 70% success rate with making my own clothes. Today, regardless of the fact that I’m fasting, I thought I’d make a pair of winter-weight pants. This is where the alarms should’ve gone off, but some of my mental faculties are on break for Ramadan. Oh well.

I brought the cloth out, pinned it in place, drew my pattern and started cutting. So far, so good. I threaded the machine, filled the bobbin and got it ready and oiled for action. No problem. Then I put two pieces together and sewed them, and people, let me tell you that nothing ruins a pair of pants so well as putting one of the legs on inside-out and upside down. (doh!)

Similarly, nothing ruins a big pot of Nihari so well as burning it down to one inch of black sludge. This method for concentrating Nihari isn’t normally in my cooking repertoire, but I started a pot of Nihari while I was fasting, and found the food-smells to be tempting, so I left the kitchen. I might have been ok if I went to wait in the dining room, but I found my way to the living room sofa, and woke up an hour later to a smell reminiscent of burning rubber. But spicier.

Which wasn’t entirely unappetizing…whoops, time to go burn something for Iftar!