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Monthly Archives: April 2004

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I must be a sweet person.

I know, I know, it’s difficult to accept, and I always thought that I’d taste something like Iodine, but no, I must be sweet. How else would you explain why it is that the mosquitoes love (to eat) me so. Just yesterday they tasted both of my feet, and when I tucked them angrily underneath my legs, they bit both of my knees. Aniraz wasn’t bitten at all. Apparently she wasn’t on the menu.

When I lay down at night they sing me to bed and then bite me in my sleep. My roomie, however, goes untasted. While sitting at the dining table the mosquitoes nip and whine at my feet from beneath the cover of the table cloth, and Aniraz laughs at me when I groan and wrap myself in a shawl despite the heat. She’s not as sweet as I am apparently.

*flutters eyelashes*

She catches mosquitoes with her bare hands and then holds them out for me to see. I tell her than unless she catches them with chopsticks, Mr. Miaggi, I’m not impressed. I never crush mosquitoes with my bare hands. It’s uncouth, it’s not something that sweet people do.

We sweet people, we just sit and meekly take our licks, and then when the mosquitoes aren’t looking, we sweetly blast them out of the air with bug spray. And if we can’t find enough mosquitoes left in the house , we take the spray out to the back veranda where we know they are hiding in the cool, dark eaves, and we poison them by the hundreds and watch them float down through the air like sweet orange blossoms on a breezy spring day.

*GERONIMO!!!*

Sometimes we close mosquitoes in cabinets because the violence of a physical attack goes against our sweet nature. Sometimes we slap them across the room and watch them fall to the floor stunned where we hope they are having sweet dreams.

Revenge, it too is sweet. :p

Quick info on the minor changes made recently:

Links alphabetized

Stars added to ones that deserve stars

Red Crescents for Islamic Blogs

Green Crescents for blogs in Pakistan

Eyes for blogs that are eye-candy

Questions or comments?

I’m trying to write a blog, I really am. It’s just that my knee won’t stop bouncing and my head is going –zingzingzing- from the Turkish coffee that I just used to wash down a fudge-dipped oreo (singular).

Another English Night is coming up. That’s where I have all my students over to play madlibs and eat munchies and use their English skills on someone other than me. Depending on how many people there are I may have a game of Scrabble or two, and hopefully there will be a delectable slew of various ethnic dishes. I have high hopes for one of my Egyptian students- she’s already proven that she has delicious baklava and sinfully sweet Basboosa, who knows what she’ll come up with next? (hopefully kunafa)

Back when I had six or seven Turkish students, English nights were full of Lokum and samosa and hummus, and it was gooood. Wait, that’s not enough o’s. It was-

gooooooood.

There we go. This time around I have one Egyptian, 3 Kazakhs and hopefully one last Turkish student will be able to make it. I’m also inviting Chai over cuz she maintains she’s ESL too. I let her believe that and pretend like her Urdu’s not as bad as mine. She’s going to hit me the next time she sees me now.

Oh well, I have a house to clean and a menu to plan. (Btw Chingiz, any requests?) I also have Asr to pray and Aniraz to wake up. For what it’s worth I think this blog is done.

I had a great time yesterday evening, and I spent much of it in the company of Hindus .

I’m not saying that to be funny even, though my irreverent intention is to get a giggle out of a few of you. I did spend this evening chatting with a bunch of Hindus (and some Jains too) and just to shock you further, they were Indians. *gasp!* You know, those evil people from across the border that lurk in dark places waiting to sabotage our national interests and scare our children at night.

There weren’t any Sikhs though, that much they assured me of. But still. I hung out with Hindus. I have hung with Hindus before. My best friend in eight grade, Yama Patel was a Hindu, and she was one of the sweetest people I ever met. Then in ninth grade I met Priti, whose mother was always happy to have us over playing in the living room, who knew I was a Pakistani Muslim and loved to talk about the food that was similar between the two cultures. (A Common Ground for Interfaith Dialogue: Parathas)

In high school I met Nipun, who in spite of his cool-guy veneer, managed to be a genuinely nice and honorable person. This doesn’t sound very impressive as far as adults are concerned, but it’s different when you meet a teenager with a developed sense of chivalry, someone who will actually stand up for others even when they don’t have to.

The Hindus I hung out with last night were equally high on the ‘Genuinely Nice Human’ scale. They were part of the Cricket For Peace 2004 tour that’s currently being played in various cities of Pakistan, and unlike other cricket series played between India and Pakistan, they two teams were not divided along national lines (the teams were mixed), and more interestingly, they were composed of children rescued from the streets in both countries. The most interesting thing though, was what the Hindus looked like- Pakistanis.

I was reminded last night of what I sometimes forget, that all people come in only one model (human) with the occasional variations (male/female) and are basically the same, Muslim or Hindu, Christian or Jain, Pakistani or Indian. And though I may not agree with India’s stance on Kashmir (and pigs may not fly) there is no reason why I should hate an Indian solely for their nationality. And I may not believe in Hinduism, but I have no reason to hate all Hindus as a matter of principle. Religion and politics can sometimes make us enemies, but it was Allah who made us all human to begin with, and I think that as long as we remember that, we can save ourselves from spiraling into the type of hate that fuels ethnic cleansing and massacre, two acts that are morally reprehensible no matter religion or nationality.

Peace.

I went out to commune with the dog last night. Don’t laugh, that’s not the funny part of this blog. I try to hang out with her (the dog) just before I shower and change my clothes, that way I fulfill both the Islamic rules of Tahara (dogs is dirty beasties) as well as the social rules of dog ownership (dogs deserve belly rubs).

Anyway, I went out to commune with the dog last night and found her reclining happily in a pile of what appeared to be formerly-clean shirts. This would be funny except that they weren’t any clothes that I recognized. I was puzzled. First of all, where did the dog get two men’s dress shirts, and second- why would the dog choose to wear them both at the same time? The dog drooled happily in my direction as I stood scratching my head and trying to figure thing out.

At some point a raindrop hit me on the nose and I looked up to the second floor balcony where our upstairs tenants sometimes hang their laundry, and then beyond that to the cloudy night sky. I’m sorry to say that it took me a few minutes to come to the proper conclusion.

Obviously it was raining shirts.

Hallelujah, amen.

I accepted the shirts as divinely bestowed and rescued them from the dog. As I walked back into the house and began down towards the basement, my father called out to me. “Beta, did those shirts fall into the driveway?”

“Yes,” I said excitedly, “Aren’t they nice!”

“The man upstairs said they fell there this morning and we weren’t home.”

I thought it was rather presumptuous of him to pretend like they were his shirts when they fell onto our dog, but since the shirts were too small for my father and too big for us, I let them go. I don’t know our new tenants very well yet, but I wasn’t expecting them to go around claiming other people’s shirts from heaven.

The nerve.

It’s been an interesting 36 hours folks. I got food poisoning, and this time it wasn’t even my fault. I ate Rasmalai from a bakery that apparently does not believe in expiry dates and within an hour I was feeling a-mighty bad. When I went to the tabib, (hooray for Dr. Sohail!) he greeted me with the usual, “So, what did you eat this time?”

It would be a running joke except that half the time I eat things that aren’t even funny. One time my doctor really scolded me. “You got sick from eating pani-poori for lunch so you went out and had limka for dessert? Are you trying to kill yourself?” He scribbled a prescription vigorously on the paper and said, “Now you can’t have anything but yogurt, white rice, and bananas for three days!” I hung my head in shame and left his office that time promising that I would take better care of myself in the future. I resolved to follow his orders and to be a better patient.

When I went to the doctor this morning he prescribed antibiotics and ordered me to eat a ‘soft diet.’ I said thank you, collected my prescription and went to work.

On my way to work I picked up a pop, which is liquid, and liquid is soft.

When I got home for lunch I had mashed potatoes and gravy, which were mushy, and mushy is like soft. I also had a little bit of Salisbury steak that had been pressure cooked for a long time. It was tender, and tender is soft.

For dinner I had leftover pizza, and microwaving it made it all floppy and soggy. It was definitely soft.

After dinner I had some nice soft chocolate ice-cream that had nice soft cookie bits in it.

I’m feeling better already

I don’t really sound like a Gora Saab. (White-man) At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself all these years of speaking Urdu as a second language, and I would like to believe it, honestly I would. But I admit, my Urdu’s not perfect. –sigh- I’ve never studied Urdu before actually, not beyond the basic introduction to Urdu writing that I got back in sixth grade. (Alif say Allah, bay say balla…)

So is my Urdu good or bad? Well, that depends on how I introduce myself. If I tell people that I am an American, they say my Urdu is wonderful and they compliment how far I’ve come in just four years. If I tell people I’m Pakistani then they tell me my Urdu is disgraceful, especially for someone who’s been back in Pakistan for four years. But if I don’t tell people anything about where I’m from and just jump head-first into Urdu conversation, do you know what they say?

“So, how long’s it been since you left Afghanistan?”

And that’s how I know that I don’t sound like a gora saab. I sound like an Afghani, or perhaps a Pushton, specifically one from Peshawer. Case in point:

When I had my appendix out in Karachi a few years ago I was rushed to the emergency room wearing shalwar qameez and an ajrak (traditional Sindhi chadar). I was later changed into hospital clothes but kept the ajrak to cover my head. I got to keep the ajrak until I was wheeled into surgery and it was time for the anesthesiologist to shoot me up. They always talk to you while they’re putting you to sleep, and they decide that you’re out cold once you stop responding. Well, my anesthesiologist decided to ask me where I was from, and just as he pushed the needle into my IV tube he said in Urdu, “So Abez, you’re from Peshawer?”

“Peshawer?” I replied sleepily in English, “I’m not from Peshawer, I’m from Chicago.”

The anesthesiologist did a double take and the last thing I remember before passing out was hearing the surgeons and the nurses laughing at him.

I know my accent is funny. If you’re ever heard a pathan speaking Urdu then you know what I sound like. It gives my cousins a good laugh every now and then, but it’s not that bad. I can say Khyber you people, and I can open my mouth without making people crack up.

Most of the time anyway. <:(

When you change cultures, the cultural rules change. You do things differently depending on where you’re staying and who you’re talking to. Like prank calls. In the US, a prank call begins with Hello, and goes something like this.

Hello?

Hey, is your refrigerator running?

Yeah.

Well go catch it then! Haw haw!

Pakistan, however, is a Muslim country, so we begin our pranks calls with the tradition Islamic greeting- AssalamuAlaikum. For example:

Me: Jee?

Caller: AssalamuAlaikum

Me: Walaikum Assalam

Caller: (In English) Do you want to talk about &@*?

Which brings me to another rule. If you want to say something inappropriate on the phone, you say it in English, and you pronounce it badly. And maybe since English isn’t your first language you recite the pre-practiced line deliberately while reading it off of a piece of paper. Or at least sound like you are. And there’s a good chance that your pronunciation may be a little off, so when the person you’re prank calling goes ‘wha?’ you repeat it a little slower and a little more nervously. And when they hang up on you, you hang your head in shame and lament having paid more attention to eating paste than doing your English lessons as a child.

Or you could just spare yourself the hassle of trying to be filthy in another language and go with your mother tongue, Urdu. (but don’t forget to say salaam first) For example:

Me: Hello?

Caller: AssalamuAlaikum

Me: Walaikum Assalam

Caller: Aap soi nahin? (you’re not asleep yet?)

Me: Kia? (what?)

Rule number three, don’t call English teachers at 2:55 am. They’re likely to scream at you, like the time when you put a live lizard in the teacher’s desk and the reprimand left your ears ringing till recess.

Me: Kaun ho? (Who is this!)

Caller: (sounding less confident) Um, Waseem?

Me: Kahan say? (From?)

Caller: Islamabad?

Me: Kyoon phone kia? (Why’d you call?)

Caller: (meekly) Mujhay neend nahin araha tha… (I wasn’t sleepy)

Me: Kya tum pagal ho? Baysharam! (are you nuts? Shameless person!)

-click-

And, although a follow-up phone call may be considered polite in most cultures, it isn’t always necessary with a prank phone call. After the fifth time you call in three days, you are likely to be greeted by a less-than friendly male, possibly a father or brother, possibly very over protective and given to profanity. On an interesting cultural side-note, it is possible that you may be sworn at in either Urdu or English depending on:

-the education level of the angry male

-the time of day, English being the language of work and therefore daylight, Urdu being the language of socialization and therefore night-time.

-whether you begin you call with hello or AssalamuAlaikum.

:p

Drive carefully, the life you save may be mine

Aniraz and I were driving home on Jinnah Avenue the other day, cruising in the fast lane at a comfortable 80km per hour. I don’t know how many miles per hour that is and I’m hoping someone will tell me, but anyway, we were cruising along comfortably and just as we were passing the entrance to Fatima Jinnah Park we noticed a large cloud of dust rise just ahead of us at the side of the road.

The dust cloud rolled over a few times and then finally stopped, dissipating into a crushed Khyber with three people trapped under the squashed roof. There hadn’t been any collision, the driver of the Khyber had just been going too fast and then suddenly lost control of the car. It spun off the road and rolled over several times before coming to rest on the shoulder, facing perpendicularly to the way traffic had been going.

We were going too fast to stop and didn’t want to risk getting rear-ended, so we drove on, but at least ten other cars stopped immediately and people began running in the direction of the wrecked Khyber. The people inside were moving, thank God, and trying to get out. The Khyber was totaled, it looked like someone had set something heavy on the roof and the roof just gave way. It was very disturbing to see, because we drive a car that’s no better and no sturdier than a Khyber, and we’re pretty sure it’s made from recycled tinfoil. Plus, if the car had spun into traffic instead of onto the shoulder then there would have been a pretty massive pile-up of steel and body-parts.

Though the time of your death is set (according to Islamic belief- Qadr) you CAN be maimed/injured/crippled long before then. So dear Blogistanis, especially those of you who live in Islamabad, please drive carefully. Always wear your seat belt, and slow down. Chances are you’re not in such a hurry that driving should be a life or death situation.

* This public service announcement brought to you by Road Rash: you weren’t using that skin anyway.

Would you like fries with that bride?

Three days ago a car pulled up at my father’s restaurant, packed with people, all dressed up. Now, I admit that Chez Daddy is a nice place, but it’s hardly fine dining. Three of the people got out, one of whom was a neighbor from the house we just left two weeks ago. She was with her husband and father, and the rest of the people packed in the car were the miscellaneous ladies of the house. They sat down at a table in the restaurant and instead of ordering, they asked if my father was available. He was, and he went out to greet them. According to my goofy and irreverent father, the conversation went something like this.

Lady:…(with a big brassy smile) Well Saab I was wondering if you could help us with something…

Dad: Well let me know what it is and I’ll try to help you if I can.

Lady:…(proudly) We have a brother in Atlanta, and he’s looking for a good girl, we were wondering if you knew any?

Dad: (looking around the restaurant) No, none that I know of.

Lady: (appearing confused but still smiling) Would perhaps your wife know of any? A Pakistani family back in America?

Dad: (Dramatically) Oh no, my wife hates Pakistanis. Can’t stand them. Doesn’t know any of them.

[Here Aniraz and I interrupt my father in the telling of this tale and say ‘Dad, what are you talking about, your wife is married to a Pakistani! We live in Pakistan!’ Dad says, ‘Shhh, let me finish telling the story!’]

Lady: (even more confused, she reaches into a briefcase she carried into the restaurant) I brought my brother’s CV (resume) maybe you’d like to look at it?

Dad: No need, thank you. What does your brother do?

Lady: Oh he’s an electrical engineer, did his Master’s from here and then went to work in the US. Here’s his CV…

Dad: No thank you, and does he have a visa or a green card?

Lady: (nervously) Well, uh, neither. But he has a Master’s degree and…

Dad: Your brother is an illegal alien in the US?

Lady: Well your daughters-

Dad: What about my daughters?

Lady: They’re not married.

Dad: They don’t like living in the US.

Lady: (meekly) But maybe a paper marriage-

Here Aniraz and I go into shock. Of all the ridiculous citizenship-seeking proposals we’ve gotten, this was by far the most shameless. My father, however, seems amused. We ask, “Then what happened dad?”

Dad says: “I told her to look somewhere else. They looked very disappointed. I think they actually expected me to say yes on the spot. They had brought the whole family along, dressed up for the happy occasion. First they drove to the old house, but they found it empty. So they came to the restaurant instead.”

We collectively shudder at the thought of having to entertain seven happy, smiling, dressed up visa-seeking people in our living room, and suddenly I understand why the people at the immigration offices are always so cranky. We’ve been lucky that our father has fielded and screened out all the invalid offers we’ve gotten from various families so far (our daddy is awesome that way) and we just get the humorous version of the story later.

(Dad: And I said ‘of course after the marriage you’d like to settle in America?’ And he gave this stupid smile like he was caught and I told him to leave before I broke both of his legs. What a strange man…)

A friend of ours from a very wealthy family has the same problem, but not because of her citizenship, because of her family’s status. People will ask for her hand in marriage without even knowing so much as her name, just because they want in to the family business. We swap horror stories about it, hers about a man ten inches shorter than her asking for her hand without even knowing her height (she calls him ‘Tingu’), and ours about people asking that we be betrothed to their sons as children.

It has nothing to do with who we are or what we believe, about what we look like or even what we’re looking for- it’s just about people wanted to get to America so badly that they’re willing to risk a lifetime of misery on it. Think about it, say you marry a girl you don’t know just because she has American citizenship, how do you know she’s not man’s worst nightmare? How do you know she’s even sane? How do you know she’s even got all her limbs? You don’t, because you’ve asked without even seeing her, you just heard that someone had an unmarried American citizen somewhere and you thought that marriage might be quicker than waiting ten years in the queue for an American visa.

I’m not even going to bother complaining about how everyone and their momma are tripping all over themselves in a rush to get out of Pakistan, because I know people leave for different reasons, and not all of them are morally reprehensible. Some are even quite noble, but regardless of why people want to get to America, the fact remains that a marriage license is not a plane ticket. Or, in Tingu’s case, a meal ticket.

But back to Chez Daddy. What, according to our father, was the lesson to be learned from all this?

We moved just in time.

Here I am with sporadic internet access again. Oh well. Seeing as how this is more like the norm than the exception I can’t complain about it any more. So right, Blogs away.

Funny thing about living in a proper neighborhod, you get proper neighbors. I mean ones that aren’t goats or buffalos or gawking villagers. And even funnier is that they visit you, weird! Like when you’re sleeping on the sofa and then suddenly people walk in. And you have to go from zero to sixty (zero being bed-head and sixty being hostess) in the half second you have before they realize you look all logy.

We’ve met some very interesting people though, MashaAllah, ones I’m actually going to call back and invite over to lunch just cuz we like em so darn much. Like Maryam number 4, (as compared to Maryam no.s #1-3) who we’ll probably introduce to Blogistan and hey won’t she be surprised to find out she’s already been mentioned and is now world famous! :p haw haw

Well, not all of our visitors have been as great though. Our first visitor was actually a lizard. Our second was a large toad that made its way to the middle of the living room floor. It sat there rather expectantly, and I think it might have been miffed when we didn’t serve coffee and cupcakes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the toad hopped back to its house and then lambasted us for our poor social skills. Now we’ll never be able to show our faces in the neighborhood again!

*runs away sobbing*

But yeah. New neighborhood, new neighbors. New episodes of “My Insane Life” coming soon to a blog near you.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t have to believe in conspiracies to acknowledge that they’re out to brainwash us. See? (grr. ressafrassa, dang dirty, low-down varmints…)

Neo-cons take up the task of ‘religion-building’

by Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON: One thing that can be said about US neo- conservatives is they do not lack for ambition. “We need an Islamic reformation”, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz confided on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq last year , “and I think there is real hope for one”.

Echoing those views one year later, another prominent neo- conservative, Daniel Pipes of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum (MEF), recently declared that the “ultimate goal” of the war on terrorism had to be Islam’s modernization, or, as he put it, “religion-building”.

Such an effort needs to be waged not only in the Muslim world, geographically speaking, added Pipes, who last year was appointed by President George W. Bush to the board of directors of the US Institute for Peace (USIP), but also among Muslims in the West, where, in his view, they are too often represented by “Islamist (or militant)” organizations.

Pipes is currently seeking funding for a new organization, tentatively named the “Islamic Progress Institute” (IPI), which “can articulate a moderate, modern and pro-American viewpoint” on behalf of US Muslims and that, according to a grant proposal by Pipes and two New York-based foundations obtained by IPS, can “go head-to-head with the established Islamist institutions”.

“Through adroit media activity and political efforts”, says the proposal, “advocates for a supremacist and totalitarian form of Islam in the United States – such as the Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) – have effectively established themselves as the spokesmen for all Muslims in the country”.

“This situation is fraught with dangers for moderate Muslims as well as for non-Muslims”, the proposal continues, adding, “Islam in America must be American Islam or it will not be integrated; there can be no place for an Islam in America that functions as a seditious conspiracy aimed at wiping out American values, undermining American inter-faith civility, and, in effect, dictating the form of Islam that will be followed in America”.

Leaders of the three groups named by Pipes strongly deny his characterizations of their views, and stress that they, like Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups in the United States that promote the interests of their members are neither more nor less radical or chauvinistic in their political or theological views than their non-Muslim counterparts.

“We are non-sectarian” said Sayyid M. Syeed, ISNA’s secretary general, who said his group has had leaders from both the Shia and Sunni currents of Islam and whose current vice president is a woman. “If we were Saudi-oriented, we would never have a Shia president or a woman in such a role”, he said, adding that his group is also actively engaged in many “inter-faith partnerships”.

CAIR’s spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, said his organization strives to represent the views of all US Muslims, and pointed to a new survey of the views of mosque leaders and congregants in Detroit, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country, as an example of the fundamental moderation of US Muslims and those of his group.

The survey, carried out by the Michigan-based Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, found that only about eight percent of the leadership and members of Detroit’s 33 mosques described themselves as adherents of a fundamentalist, “salafi” approach to Islam of the kind that is identified with the “Wahhabi”, or “Islamist” views of concern to Pipes and other neo-conservatives, who have said that as many as 80 per cent of US mosques preach Wahhabism.

The vast majority of both mosque leaders and participants, according to the Detroit survey, were registered to vote and supported active engagement in the political process; wanted to engage in civic and educational activities with people of non- Muslim faiths; and even took part in public school or church events designed to teach others about Islam.

“Detroit mosques are not isolationist … and very few mosque participants hold Wahhabi views”, said Ihsan Bagby, who conducted the survey and teaches Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky.

Pipes, who has written four books on Islam and taught Islamic studies at several leading universities, came to national prominence after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

While he has long insisted that there is nothing inherently violent about Islam, “moderate Muslims”, in his view, have been intimidated by radicals both in the Muslim world and in the United States.

“While Muslims in some Muslim-majority countries (like Turkey) have demonstrated a commitment to moderate Islam”, he writes in his grant application, “Muslim communities in the United States, Canada and Western Europe are dominated by a leadership identified with Wahhabism and other radical trends, such as the Muslim Brethren and Deobandism …they seek a privileging of Islam and intimidate their critics”.

Within the United States, “all Muslims, unfortunately, are suspect”, Pipes wrote in a recent book, which called for the authorities to be especially vigilant towards Muslims with jobs in the military, law enforcement, or diplomacy.

Last year, he cited as evidence of this insight the arrest on suspicion of espionage of Muslim chaplain James Yee at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility that houses hundreds of prisoners from Bush’s “war on terrorism”. The Yee case later fell apart.

Pipes is also the founder of Campus Watch, a group that monitors university professors of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies and exposes them for alleged anti-American or anti- Zionist views.

That effort, which has been denounced by leading Middle East scholars, has become the basis for a far-reaching bill pending in Congress that would provide unprecedented government oversight of regional studies programmes in universities.

Pipes has also criticised Bush for meeting with, and thus he argues legitimizing, the leaders of major Islamic organizations, including CAIR and ISNA, which he believes are pursuing radical, if partially hidden, agendas that he attempts tirelessly to expose on his personal website. CAIR has called him “the nation’s leading Islamophobe”.

Like many of his fellow-neo-conservatives, Pipes has also been an outspoken supporter of positions taken by the governing Likud Party in Israel, to the extent even of opposing the US-backed “roadmap” designed to lead to an independent Palestinian state.

To encourage “moderation” among Palestinians, he has written, “the Palestinians need to be defeated even more than Israel needs to defeat them”. In his grant proposal, Pipes writes that he is working on launching the IPI with “a group of anti-Islamist Muslims”, whom he does not identify.

Contacted about the proposal, Pipes told IPS, “I can’t confirm anything. MEF doesn’t talk about its proposals. We don’t talk about projects that have not been announced. We don’t talk about internal matters to the press.”

In a trip to Cleveland in February, Stephen Schwartz, a writer and former Trotskyite activist who claims to have converted to Islam in the mid-1990s, and Hussein Haqqani, a researcher at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, unveiled plans for a new “Institute for Islamic Progress and Peace” (IIPP) of which Schwartz identified himself as executive director. -Dawn/The Inter Press News Service.

He came. It finally happened. The man I’ve been waiting for forever… the phone guy. YAY!!!!!

But there’s a catch. After waiting three weeks for a phone line, we found out that the computer’s modem was damaged in the move, so now the computer has to be repaired. But the shop is closed till Monday for remodelling. And the damage will take a few days to fix. So by the time I get both a working computer and a working phone line together under one roof, it will have been a month.

And I’ve typed up various blogs since then, and designed at least four new layouts (yours too, Hijabified) and written pages and pages of letters which are now stale and probably shouldn’t be sent anyway. I’ve also had a very blog-worthy few weeks, having received a proposal for a paper-marriage, witnessed a major accident, been attacked by a car seat and sat in a pile of biryani. Good stuff folks, good stuff. And there was the earthquake last night too, and the various testimonials people have told me of their experience with it.

Me: woke up and thought the house was swaying

Aniraz: woke up and thought she might be getting sick and having a dizzy spell.

Dog: woke up and barked ferociously at all and sundry

Dad: Slept through it (no surprise)

Student: woke up and thought someone was underneath of bed and shaking it.

It was a scary earthquake too, lasted for at least a minute, and as the newspaper says, it was 6.8 on the Richter scale. Fortunately the epicentre was rather far away, somewhere in Afghanistan, and no casualties have been reported. Man, I would like to go back to our old house, the one we just left three weeks ago and check up on it. As we were moving, we took down the curtains and wall hangings and furniture discovered cracks, huge cracks in the walls and stairwells from the last earthquake, which was just about a month ago, and far less severe. That house was rather shoddily constructed actually, just bricks and cement with an overly large quantity of sand mixed into it. How do we know that there was too much sand in the cement? The corners of the walls had started to crumble off in some places, and water from a single drippy faucet upstairs caused water damage all the way down to the ground floor.

Alhamdulillah, our new house is made out of RCC, Reinforced Concrete-Cement, which means there are steel rods in the cement, holding it all together. And things are mostly unpacked and looking relatively normal, so yeah, it’s all good. 🙂 I will end this hodge-podge blog with a joke,

A man joins a big corporate empire as a trainee.

On his very first day of work, he dials an extension and shouts into the phone – “Get me a coffee, quickly!”

The voice from the other side responded, “You fool! You’ve dialed the wrong extension! Do you know who you’re talking to?”

“No,” replied the trainee.

“I’m the CEO of the company!”

The trainee shouts back, “And do YOU know who YOU are talking to?!”

“No!” replies the CEO indignantly.

“Good!” replies the trainee, who puts down the phone.