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Monthly Archives: January 2005

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I was going to write about our awesome Lahore trip, but instead I’m overwhelmed with other things. I feel confused, I feel elated. I feel tired, I can’t sleep. I want to lay down and wake up with perfect mental clarity. Crayon, Hemmie, Chai, remind me to explain later.

I am returned

Dear Hemmie, Demi-Hemmie, Hemmie-Momma, and Z-Bhaya

Oh, and Blogistan too. Hello. I’m back. I’m paying the price for my lavish vacation and 1/4th of a cake (I’ll explain later) with a definitely inflamed stomach, and me with no zantac. Hmmm. I also fell asleep shortly after I got home this evening, so now I’m groggy. And my face is on sideways. Ask Crayon. She knows what I look like when I wake up. I fell asleep on Saniya’s living room floor with my toes in front of the heater, and when Crayon woke me up she had to laugh at me first. It’s the piggy-eyed, pale-faced sleepy look. And it’s very fashionable, I assure you.

I have to go to sleep now. Really. Props and Salaams to Hemmie & Co. for the lovely whirlwind vacation to Lahore. Props and love to Crayon for the drive. Love and regrets to Ushi & Co, we hadn’t the time to crash Ushiland. I’ll explain tomorrow. I need to lay down. And I need some Gaviscon.

Peace & Nihari Grease


Guest Post: Hemlock: Abez Buzz

dear momma. and aniraz. and blogistan.

umm. im not abez. but i’ve always wanted to be. sort of. i mean. she plays some mean DDR. which is a waste of chocolate energy if you were to ask me. but then, not too many ppl ever ask me anythyng, and it’s sort of sad. if you know what i mean.

and i’ve never done thys before. it’s all her fault.

first, she’s made me kidnap her.

and now, she wants me to blog a post on her blog saying ive kidnapped her. except she’s the one with the napping kid. (that would be crayon’s narni). she’s strange like that. but i still love her.

additionally, i’d like to annouce ive decided kids dont get pinker than narni. unless you dress him in orange, and then he turns orange, but in any case, he has to be the most adorable kid in the world. and he has great potential. see we went out today, and he’s already had drop dead gorgeous women drooling over him (yeah, that’d be a few of them besides me and bez). i sense a potential don juan. which reminds me, eroll flynn was rather handsome, no? (although with all his looks, i have yet to sit through a single movie of his).

you know, i really have nothing intelligent to say. it’s that tym of day when i’ve consumed four year’s worth of chocolate, and i need to fall in my bed and die for a few hours. but she’s all bright and cheery (although im sure i was feeding the coke to narni… i dunno where bez’s getting her buzz from).

the point being, she needs to sleep. i mean i need to sleep. i mean someone better start making some sense soon, or imna wash thys city in blood. or coke. umm. coffee?

oh yeah. she ate all of 1/4th of a cake.

and i sat there staring at her in horror. 0_0

alive awake alert enthusiastic

In yet another futile attempt to get diurnal, I went to bed at 11:30 this evening. Imagine my dismay when I began waking up around 2:30. I tried to fight it and pretend like I was happily sleeping, but it didn’t work. No matter how firmly I told myself that I was sleepy, I couldn’t make it. I never got to see the end of that dream with the piranha teeth. I was using them as a pair of scissors. This is not wholly outlandish. Natives along the Amazon River used the toothy-fish jaws as scissors for hundreds of years, and when foreign missionaries brought scissors, the locals appropriately called them ‘piranhas.’ National Geographic is responsible for that dream.

I also woke up with a serious peanut-butter jones. My brain cued the Pink Panther song and I snuck upstairs and made myself a sandwich, but I didn’t get a glass of milk because the fridge is broken. It won’t cool anymore, we might as well be keeping the mayonnaise in the cabinet. Our milk is super heat-treated and tetra-packed and processed in hundreds of ways to give it long life and funny taste, but to keep it from smelling mashqooq (suspicious), someone put it in the freezer. So I could have had a plate of milk, but not necessarily a glass of it to go with my dry and gluey sandwich. Now I need a shoehorn to pry my jaws apart.

(Tangent: once I bit a Wheetabix without milk. I almost died. Try it! It’s insane!)

It’s very tragic, really, not having refrigeration. It’s such a blessing, Alhamdulillah, to be able to store foods that would otherwise go bad almost immediately. We have an unopened liter of milk, but if I took the top off now I’d have to drink the whole thing (or die trying) so that it didn’t spoil. Same with eggs. They would have to be cooked and eaten within a day or two, or only bought one at a time. Not convenient.

Hopefully, Insha’Allah, the repair guy will be available even though tomorrow is Friday. If not, I’m thinking of putting everything that hasn’t spoiled (yet) into a laundry basket and setting it on the back porch. It might freeze there, but at least it won’t get smelly. And we can defrost it later if the dog hasn’t tipped it over and eaten everything. Never mind the laundry basket, maybe I should find a safe.

this is an audio post - click to play

so much for being diurnal…

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Possibly try again tomorrow. I tried to get on schedule yesterday, but it didn’t work. Tonight I made the resolution to get to bed before midnight, but when I realized I was still awake at 2:30, I gave up the charade and went to work on uploading Vora’s layout. I had to break it first though, because I tend to make at least one huge mistake per layout that doesn’t show until I’ve uploaded and published the page on blogger, a time when I then realize that I misaligned one of the columns and the shoutbox is resting somewhere south of the equator when it should be at the North Pole. Yes, those are technical terms. Yes, I eventually fixed the problem.

So it’s 5:33 am and I have no new mail and no one on my buddy list. The dog was awake until about half an hour ago. I know this because she had stuck her face in the basement window from the outside and whined at me. I let her out for a run around the lawn. As unconditional as a dog’s love it, the company isn’t very good though.

Hi Woofadar, isn’t the sky beautiful tonight?


That ring around the moon is called a corona, and it has nothing to do with beer at all.

*snuffles floor*

Do you ever wonder about the sky, dog-face?

*stares blankly*

Good dog.

*wags tail*

Fajr begins in about half an hour, and once I’ve prayed I’ll be ready to sleep. I’ll only get about three hours worth though, because I’m supposed to accompany my Momma to a Scrabble/Tea/Shmooze luncheon that begins at 10:30. (Crayon, are you coming?) I’ll have to pretend to be both witty and awake, something I’ll should manage alright so long as the sleep deprivation doesn’t make me nauseous. I have another option though. I could choose not to go, which would make my Momma vanquish me when she got home, but I would still have to wake up. The real-estate agent who’s working on the deal for the house and Chez Daddy is coming over tomorrow at 1:30 or 2-ish, and it does have to be reasonably clean. Not perfectly, just reasonably. I could wake up closer to noon and still have the house looking cheerful, but then I’d miss out on the lavish lunch that this Scrabble group always does.

It’s 5:43 now. Yay! The first of the azhans has just been called! I love that about Pakistan, how you always know when it’s prayer time because when it is, the azhan is called. No consulting prayer charts, no wondering in Ramadan whether it’s really Maghrib yet. I love living in a Muslim country. But hey, even if you don’t, you can still hear the azhan with this cool program! Enjoy!


Look Ma, I’m awake!

Those of you who are familiar with my schedule (the best blogs are posted at 3 am) will share my mother’s amazement when she reads my update later. It’s 8:12 am and I am vertical; as in upright. AKA, not in bed. I have to say, it’s rather cold out of Bed, and I am accustomed to laying toastily inside it from after Fajr until a bit before lunch.

So yeah, the house is cold and quiet and the car is dead. Since Daddy Dearest is unable to fix it from such and such a distance it will remain cold and dead unless some miraculous event enables me to locate and properly use jumper cables, a feat that would possibly require changing my gender first. I don’t know what’s with females and cars. I think because we’re told that cars are a ‘guy thing,’ we let them take care of things. This saves your cuticles from motor-oil stains (mine prefer ink instead) but on the downside, it means that you’re helpless to start your own car if no one else will help you.

I know that people with disagree, saying they know how to change tires and put oil and wiper fluid in the car and water in the little hole where the water goes, and actually I do too, but I have all the confidence and expertise of a nervously trained monkey. Come on, when’s the last time you saw a monkey changing a tire, eh? Did they look like they knew what they were doing?

I’m not all girly. I have a manly scar on my hand from putting oil in my car. I rather ingeniously managed to cut myself and get motor oil inside, so I have a half-inch scar running diagonally across one knuckle that has a gray line from where the oil was not cleaned. It’s like a tattoo of sorts, but less aesthetically pleasing.

Oh yes, and I assemble furniture. I love it. Beds, cabinets, tables, and once a fifteen-foot steel-framed trampoline. It’s good, clean fun, and since they started letting me use the power drill, things are a lot more exciting.

(zzzoooom? eeeeeek!)

This began four score and maybe less years ago when Big Bro was not present for the assembling of a cabinet my dad had just brought from K-mart. I was the next oldest child. I brought my father the screw drivers (flat and Phelps) and he let me beat at a few nails. A hobby was born.

My dream is to one day own a power sander. The first place I’ll use it will be my father’s scratchy and calloused feet.

(zzzoooom? eeeeek!)

SubhanAllah(s) Plural (2)

Audio blogging is convenient. Too convenient. I can’t let myself fall into that habit. Besides, I would like to think (or futilely hope?) that I sound better in print. :p I’m a written-word man m’self. To me, no movie based on a book has ever, ever been better than the book, because no movie can do justice to what a writer can do with words. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think the conversion rate may be off there.

We had an earthquake this evening. It felt like someone had given the house a back-hand, just to shake things up a little. It couldn’t have been longer than two seconds, but SubhanAllah, it was impressive. People, and by people I mean me, tend to become complacent and slip into the belief that the earth is solid or something. Hmmph. It’s just glorified crust on a ball of lava soup. The crusty bits slip and slide around in colossal slow-motion, and when two of the bits rub against, crash into, or push off of each other, we, the people of Liliput, feel the vibrations.

Today’s tremor was pretty minor, Alhamdulillah. We had all been sitting in the basement when the house quivered, so we turned off all the gas heaters and went upstairs and outside. End of story. I’m slightly worried that this may just have been the aftershock of a big earthquake that hit somewhere else, as was in the case in Karachi a few years ago when the massive earthquakes that killed hundreds of thousand of people in India were felt as far as our Uncle’s house. At the time we had no idea what the swinging ceiling fans meant, but we later learned. SubhanAllah. Almost the whole subcontinent got a shaking.

And now for something completely different. The golden mole of the Namib desert is, for all practical purposes, a furry little tennis ball with no distinct features that rolls under and through the sand of the sand dunes eating termites. It travels leaving a visible ridge of sand in its wake, kind of like Bugs Bunny on his way to Wala-Wala Washington. It’s completely blind and ‘sees’ by sensing vibrations with a highly sensitive inner ear. In addition to being able to zip through the desert like a cat-toy on the run, it also has the ability to make me laugh so hard my stomach aches. Everyone has to know about the golden mole. It’s too amazing to miss. SubhanAllah!

Dua’s Please

There’s a lot going on these past few days and I’m going to hit you guys up for some dua’s. We need to get an exchange going.

Dua Number One: Please pray for Sapargali Aubakirov, the Kazakh diplomat who I seldom saw but always enjoyed on the rare chances that I did. He never passed by me in the hall without smiling and saying hello. He told great fishing stories (it was this big. Not the fish, just the fish’s eye!) and educated me in the Russianization of Muslim last names. His last name, Aubakirov, is actually a transformed version of Abu Bakr.

He was shot in the back of the head yesterday, execution-style by two men who entered his home with him. They shot him four more times before leaving with his car. Embassy staff broke into his house 12 hours later when the servant said he was not opening his door. They rushed him to PIMS, where he underwent surgery. He’s in a deep coma right now. The doctors are not expecting him to recover.

Dua Number Two: A serious possible buyer for the house and restaurant (Chez Daddy: good food, slow service) showed up last week and a verbal agreement has been made. It seems almost too good to be true, since we had been planning to sell the restaurant first and the house later, and the price agreed upon is perfect.

Our move to the UAE has only been waiting on those two things, the restaurant and house sale, because it’s the capital in those properties that will be used to invest and live in the UAE. If the papers are signed after Eid, as is expected, the restaurant will change hands next month and we could be off! Insha’Allah. Don’t kill me for writing this, Chai, Crayon, Hemmie, you know I love you guys. And plus, I’ll warm a dune up for y’all. We’ll go 4×4’ing and camping under the stars in the powdery mountains of warm yellowy sand and wrestle with belly-dancing scorpions and all that kind of fun stuff. And then we’ll roast a camel.

But yeah, those are the two Dua appeals. It’s a strange mix of emotion, knowing that on one hand your world may be coming nicely together and on the other, someone’s is rapidly falling apart. I can’t imagine what Sapargali’s friends and family must be going through. I don’t want to imagine what he went through, one minute he was entertaining two guests, the next minute they pulled a gun and made him kneel down. The sickening rush of fear, the terror, the sense of betrayal…

May Allah have mercy on Sapargali and grant him life so long as life is good for him, and death whenever death is good for him. May God heal Sapargali by his grace, or receive him in mercy and forgiveness. Inna lillahi wa inna ileihi rajioon. Verily we are God’s and to Him we return.

audio test under enemy fire

this is an audio post - click to play

I feel good, nanananananana! I knew that I would, nanananananana!

Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah, I feel much, much better today. Alhamdulillah. Being sick is such an effective reminder of how nice health is, how much of a luxury it is to be able to stand up straight after you had been bent over in pain- what a pleasure it is to look at food and think mmmmmm instead of uggggg.

Because I ate almost nothing all day yesterday, I’m making up for it today with ravioli from Italian Oven (God Bless you Chai) and Cream of Cream soup with onion bread from home for dinner. I’ve also had a cup of coffee and two Oreos.

(A note about Oreos, don’t buy the ones that are made in China and shipped to Asia. They are halal, but they don’t taste very nice. They’ve taken the price of shipping out of their chocolate expenses. Or so it tastes. Buy local, buy Rite Cookies!)

So it’s now 9 pm and I’m feeling tired but content. I’m still recovering, which explains why I feel ready for bed at this ridiculously early hour, but I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep without dreams of things punching me in the stomach. And so, because I’m sleepy, I leave this blog as it is and paste a joke instead. Thank you and good night.


The other night I was invited out for a night with “the boys”. I told my wife that I would be home by midnight ..promise!

Well, the hours passed and the beer was going down way too easy.
At around 2:30 a.m., drunk as a skunk, I headed for home. Just as I got in the door, the cuckoo clock in the hall started up and cuckooed 3 times.

Quickly, I realized she’d probably wake up, so I cuckooed
another 9 times. I was really proud of myself, having a quick-witted solution, even when smashed, to escape a possible conflict.

The next morning my wife asked me what time I got in, and I told
her twelve o’clock. She didn’t seem disturbed at all. Whew! Got away with that one!

She then told me that we needed a new cuckoo clock. When I asked
her why, she said, “Well, last night our clock cuckooed three times, then said “oh crap,” cuckooed 4 more times, cleared its throat, cuckooed another 3 times, giggled, cuckooed twice more, and then farted.”

awake, finally

So I woke up at 5pm. Amazing, isn’t it- sleep is a tool your body uses to repair itself. Considering that I’ve been asleep, on and off, since 2 am yesterday, I may have just established a new world record. For Abezistan anyway. 15 hours. And I feel better, Alhamdulillah, and JazakAllahuKheiran to Owlie for the Panadol. Now my body isn’t quite as sore. But I think I have sofa-poisoning. Too much time sleeping on the sofa. It’s never good for your health. Or your back. *crack crack crack*

Alright. I’m awake. Now what? Oh yes, since my old fotolog has failed me, I’ve switched to Flickr.com instead. So here’s my new foto-shoto place.


You know something’s amiss when I’m blogging at a reasonable hour. The time is 7:52 am and I am doing Taubah (repentance) from mayonnaise. I am also officially boycotting the French Patisserie too, not only because their name is the false advertising of just another Pakistani bakery, but because they gave me food poisoning. gaaaaahhh…

We had friends over for Scrabble and dinner last night, and one of them brought the deceptively innocuous-looking sandwiches from said boycotted bakery. We all et them. Owlie, whose stomach has the fortitude of a stainless-steel drum, said she felt nauseated and went to bed. Me, I said I felt nauseated and then laid in bed contemplating the red ‘toss your cookies here’ bucket for hundreds of hours. Or at least until Fajr, when I stood unsteadily on the rug and prayed for a stronger immune system.

After Fajr I lay down but could not get to sleep. (Nausea: my least favorite feeling in the world) So I wandered upstairs and found my dad, and we had a field trip to the local clinic. They weren’t open yet, so we went and gassed the car up instead. (a logical substitution, of course) Now we’re home again and I’m just waiting for it to be eight o’clock, the random time that my Abbu and I have assumed the clinic will open.

There’s now one minute until eight, and I’m sitting here looking urpy and unhappy. I would kick myself for eating those sandwiches, but my stomach is doing the job for me. I know, I know, various medically oriented Blogistanis will point out that I haven’t gotten the full-blown (or full-thrown?) effects of eating manky mayonnaise, but I’m not waiting for that. Having lived in gastroenteritis-land for several years, I am an expert at diagnosing which stomach aches require a doctor and which do not and anything that involves me throwing up, or severely wanting to, does. This is because I throw up very rarely (probably because I dislike it so much) as evidenced by my 2001 bout with appendicitis. Sitting in the emergency room and being questioned by a Tabib, I was asked, ‘Have you experienced any vomitting?” I shook my head and said no. Then I lost my biryani. The doctor laughed. I’m glad she found it funny.

Ooh, eight o’clock. Let’s call. Rats, no answer. I’m just going to have to assign another arbitrary time to call and try to sleep until then. Remember kids, only you can prevent little mayonnaise sandwiches. The life you save may be your own.

Guest Post Series: Baji

How to mortally wound yourself around the kitchen – or – the secret ingredient is blood!

by Psuedo Abez

1. Prepare a batch of cookie dough. Be sure to sample the ingredients before adding them to the mix: finger-swipe of melted butter, spoonful of brown sugar, cheekful of chocolate chips until said cheeks are bulging outrageously and you cannot deny the moniker “squirrel nutkins” as passersby shake their heads at you. Blend the ingredients well with an electric or old-timey hand mixer. Just before tossing the beaters into the sink, save time, water, and soap by licking the raw batter off of the metal strips. Scoff at the threats of Salmonellosis and attempt to clean off even the hard-to-reach inner curves of the beater. Pull a muscle in your tongue (possibly the styloglossus if not for the sheer enjoyment of saying “styloglossus“) Cry out in pain. Pause. Continue licking the batter off with slower movements and care. Lesson the first: your tongue is not an acrobat.

2. Prepare rice. Assemble your materials by lining up the canister containing the basmati rice and the pot in which to cook the rice. Step back and enjoy your accomplishment thus far. Measure out 1 cup of rice. Rinse the rice out several times and offer mild curses when some grains escape with the runoff water. After rinsing, add 1 and a half cup of water to the rice and set it on the stove to boil over high heat. Add a chunk of butter and a pinch of salt. When the water is boiling rapidly, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and walk away. Set the timer for 10 minutes. While waiting for the timer to go off, clean up your workspace. Lift the canister containing the rice by its lid. Watch as the base separates from the lid in slow-motion. Wait for the canister to crush your toes and the rice to fly into your hair, your eyes, and possibly your lungs. Lesson the second: let someone else clean up the kitchen for you.

3. Prepare an apple. Wash the apple. Contemplate its beauty. Grab a knife. Recall how your mother would deride such crutches as a cutting board when chopping, slicing, and peeling a variety of fruits and vegetables. Attempt to emulate your mother. Grasp the apple with your left hand. Work the knife gently around the apple with your right hand to divide the apple in half. Put aside one half of the apple and begin to core the other half. When you are sure that you have a good and steady grip on the knife and apple, plunge the knife directly into your hand. Die. Lesson the third: you are not your momma.

Guest Post Series: Owlie

This is Owl pretending to be Abez. It was her idea. I wash my hands of all responsibility from this point on. For her take on me, stop by my blog at www.degrouchyowl.blogspot.com.

Left Brain – Right Brain

LB: Pst! Is she gone?

RB: Are you kidding me, is she ever here? I mean, ALL HERE?

LB: Hah hah, righto. Man, it’s so good to be able to relax and do what I want. Once she’s got an RPG in the PlayStation it’s like -FTHOOOM- no activity on the radar.

RB: It’s great, no more having to remember the dumbest stuff at the drop of a hat. I mean, where does she get off expecting us to provide the lyrics to the HMS Pinafore? She only heard it once, seven years ago!

LB: That’s not so bad, yesterday she relayed an entire BBC documentary to her sister – and of course, expected me to provide statistics for the thermodynamics of the African Shovel-Nosed Lizard. I was like, “Yeah right lady, you don’t pay me enough for that.” So I gave her a locker combination from gradeschool. She never knew the difference.

RB: Good one!

LB: Shoot, if I’m not happy, the girl gets none of my logical data processing. And if I’m really cheesed, she gets a brainfreeze, for nothing!

RB: Sick!

LB: But of course, all those numbers are wasted on her vacuous twit of a sibling. She just nods and smiles and tries to plan an escape. I could have told her that the Namib Golden Mole ejects her litter from the nest after they weight 450 grams instead of 45 and she’d have believed it, circus reject that she is.

RB: You tell it!

LB: There I was, dutifully reeling off insane fact – “When at rest, golden moles do not regulate their body temperature, and they have a low metabolic rate, which reduces their energy demands. They have extremely sensitive hearing and vibration detection, and can navigate underground with unerring accuracy…” and the sister was just like “A FAT FURRY MOLE, HOW CUTE! It’s just like a wombat but smaller! I want one!”

RB: I’m surprised you didn’t high tail it out of there. There’s only so much I’d be willing to take. I give you props.

LB: Where could I go? There’s no room in her ear and her sinuses are all drafty.

RB: You still coulda stuck it to her. Last week I didn’t feel like going to work so I called in sick. Every time she accessed me for point location and space analysis I put on the Calypso holding music she hates so much.

LB: There’s hope for you yet Dexter. A couple more nasties like that and the boys will be mistaking you for Sinister.

RB: Yeah and now consequently her parents think she’s the biggest space cadet. They don’t even bother asking her to find stuff any more. She spent half an hour looking for her shoes last week and you know where they were? ON HER FEET!

LB: That’s better than the time I convinced her that the prayer qibla was south. She was praying to Antartica for days before someone tipped her off. There must be some holy penguins down there.

RB: I know right, but man, it sorta backfired. Without Dexter R. Hemisphere, she was smashing into banisters and cabinets right and left. I was like “Danger Scotty, we need more power to the shields!”

LB: Whoa, that explains the damage I noticed up here. You gotta be more careful.

RB: I’ll try bu…Oh crap! She’s found a save-point in the videogame. She’s coming to!


*Calpyso music begins*

Wish List

Having surfed through millions of blogs in my zillions of years online (hyperbole anyone?) I’ve often come across people’s wish lists. They’re usually filled with books and cool little gadgets that they probably won’t ever buy for themselves but hey it never hurts to hope right? I’m not going to dissect the purpose of putting a wish list on your blog and display its remains for critical analysis, instead, I will shallowly say they’re cool and wish I had one. I would have one, if fact, if it weren’t for two major reasons:

Reason number one: I’m too darned lazy to first register somewhere, then add the wish list html and then surf to find things I want. Pssshhh I know what I want, I don’t need to pick the stuff from online. It probably won’t be there anyway, which leads to reason number two:

Reason number two: most of what I want isn’t for sale. Like the cat I saw sitting convincingly on the seat of a motorcycle today. I want that cat. But do you think they offer that on amazon.com? Not likely.

I don’t want stuff so much as I want things. That doesn’t make any sense, but here’s what I mean, here’s my wish list.

I want pythons. I want my biceps to be so (reasonably) big that the NRA will call and ask me to register my guns. *flex* Indirectly, that means I want to be stronger and in better shape. If they sold that on ebay they’d be millionaires.

I want a stainless steel spatula: Honestly. For flipping things really stylishly. I want it to have super-powers, I want my flying pancakes to do double and triple flips through the air before landing perfectly in the plate and being awarded a perfect 10 by all the judges.

I want a bunch of little birds that go pip-pip. Yellow ones and blue ones and bright red ones that would bounce happily around and twitter nice morning songs. I couldn’t keep them in a cage because I hate seeing birds caged (except for parrots, who are so ornery and so destructive that they deserve it) and I would want my little pip-pip birds to fly around but not fly away. Yes, that is too much to ask. I know.

I want a pair of socks that never get dirty and never ball up underneath your toes and make your feet uncomfortable. I’m a sock connoisseur and I have yet to be perfectly satisfied. I bought a great pair of socks the other day for Rs.15 (special price, just for you Baji) and I thought I had found sock nirvana, but after wearing them I realized the dye wasn’t fast and my feet had turned black. Pretty. Pretty Weird.

I want a Rood Inverse tattoo. Don’t ask.

I want Ihsan. I want to pray like I can see God, and if not that, to at least remember that He is seeing me. I want that deep shuddery feeling every time. Also not available for purchase.

I want a flying carpet. It is my personal and somewhat disconnected belief that the whole flying carpet legend came from prayer rugs. You have to admit, when you’re sitting on one it does kind of look like you’re expecting it to go somewhere. Plus, since it’s somewhat holy, the idea of it taking off doesn’t seem too far fetched.

I want a wrinkle-free wardrobe.

I want whirled peas for everyone.

I want my family to be happy.

I want to meet everyone in Jannah for the best. party. ever.

What do you wish for?

Hi, I’m Ali Baba. Welcome to my cave.

I’m here to type a blog but I’d rather be hanging out in the Cave of Wonders. Yes, I finally got me a cave. It was hidden under boxes of storage and layers of dust, but it was successfully excavated and suddenly we had an empty room. Possession being 9/10th’s of the law, I immediately moved in. I brought a warm hat, a few books, a Qur’an, a prayer rug and 10 pillows. Over time, I also stole:

1.) the lamp from the computer room

2.) the carpet from the living room (mom said I could)

3.) the furniture from the family room (we never sat on it anyway)

4.) a sewing basket to put prayer rugs in

5.) Four terra cotta pots from the dining room

6.) a few tasbihs from said pots

7.) the warm green stadium blanket from my brother’s room

and finally,

8.) two strings of lights from my mother’s Christmas tree

Yes, it is a wondrously wondrous cave of wonders, the Christmas lights twinkle and the prayer rug is always ready for take-off. (All Aboard the Jannah Express!) The sound is softened by the carpet and the little lamp is perfect for reading in what would otherwise be darkness. There are other lights, but if I turned them on then the Christmassy ones wouldn’t be quite so wondrous.

So I got me a cave. Sometimes I sneak off into it and think thoughtful thoughts. Other times I lie there and read Ivanhoe.

“Amen!” answered the Jester. “A broadcloth penitent should have a sackcloth confessor, and your frock may absolve my motley doublet into the bargain.”

Yet other times, I just lay on the carpet. All in all, not a lot goes on in the Cave of Wonders since the biannual bandit’s convention was moved to the Kitchen of Cut-throatery, but that’s the way it should be. You need to have quiet on the outside before you can have quiet on the inside. You can’t make stillness out of turbulence, and although there are other quiet places in the house (the Bathroom of Tranquillity?) it’s not the same. The Cave of Wonders exists outside of the house and is not bound by domestic happenstance.

And plus, it has ten pillows. And on a random note:

Where’s Owlie. Like Where’s Waldo, only different.


I miss Ramadan. It’s the one time of year that I reach that MashaAllah, SubhanAllah feeling and keep it. For the rest of the year, it ebbs and flows, coming in and out like a tide. Sometimes high, mostly low. I was struck by how low I’ve been lately when I prayed Asr at Crayon’s house and then five minutes later wondered whether I had prayed yet. Why? Because I had barely been paying enough attention to even remember that I had prayed.

Back in Ramadan I had a chart on the wall with three categories per day, one for reading Qur’an, one for working out and one for “something productive.” I also had fasting, and nightly tarawih and the refreshing spiritual bonus of doing Iftar and then praying Maghrib with very real gratitude for the meal I’d just eaten. I would drink a cup of tea before sitting down in the evening to read Qur’an and pray so that I wouldn’t feel sleepy or lose concentration. It’s no wonder I was in much better spiritual shape, I was doing a lot more for my Iman.

But what am I doing now? Practically nothing. After all, Ramadan is gone, and the time I had for fasting and extra prayer and increased mental focus is gone. Or is it? What’s stopping me from fasting now? Why not add extra nafl to my Isha prayer? Why not take a cup of tea with me on my way to the prayer rug? Why on earth not?

Why can’t I make myself another chart and work on covering it from top to bottom, left to right with little happy face stickers that at least say I’m trying. I may not be a good spiritual athlete, but at least then I won’t be skipping practice every day. I can’t let myself dwell on the time that passed instead of focusing on the opportunities that are present. I think the problem with me is how I’ve come to let myself perceive prayer, at low tide prayer feels like a temporary stop on the way to something else. At high tide, prayer itself is the destination and everything else is just scenery on the way there.

So it’s time for Isha and here’s my cup of tea. I’m raising it to good health and good Iman and refocused efforts towards Taqwa and spiritual growth. Cheers.

Hooray for Children

a portrait of me by Choti, aged 7 3/4

Hooray for the pictures they draw you.

Hooray for the silly games.

Hooray for the honest smiles.

Hooray for sloppy, unexpected kisses from a three year old.

Well, this is going to be a hit and run blog because Knicq Bhai, Crayon, and Chai are going to be here for tea & munchy-crunchies in about an hour and a half. I’m just waiting for Daddy Dearest to come back with flour so I can bake the cake that the oven has been waiting for. I’d turn the oven off, but I can’t. You never know when it’s going to work, and when on occasion it does work, we run around the kitchen frantically calling out, “Quick! Bake Something!”

The theme of this five-minute blog is going to be the brilliant little book I borrowed from the bookshelf in Chai’s room (aka The Admiral’s Quarters) titled: 2000 More Insults. Since it was published some time in 1967, there are more insults directed towards thin women than there are towards overweight ones, which is an interesting reminder of how social norms and the idea of what was beautiful have changed.

She’ll never be a bonnie lassie so long as she has that bony chassis.

She’s straight and marrow.

If it wasn’t for her Adam’s apple she wouldn’t have any curves at all.

Not that there aren’t any jabs directed towards the pleasantly plump,

They say that figures don’t lie, but her girdle sure does condense the truth.

But they don’t seem to be as vicious. I’d go off on a tangent about how foolish it is to gauge beauty by size, etc but I haven’t the time. Instead I am presenting you, dear Blogistan, with an amusing selection of some of the 2000 Insults from this very old and apparently often-read book. (the pages are dog-eared, some of the insults are underlined.)

His parents almost lost him as a child. Unfortunately, they didn’t take him out far enough into the woods.

Biologists claim there isn’t a perfect man on the entire globe. Apparently they haven’t read his campaign literature.

Offering candy to a woman he said, “Sweets for the sweet?” She turned and said to him, “Won’t you have some nuts?”

When he goes to the zoo he has to get two tickets, one to get in and one to get out.

A few minutes with him make you want to jump for joy- off of a tall building.

Once she cried, “The dog ate the meatloaf I made for you!” and he said “Don’t worry honey, I’ll buy you another dog.”

There’s nothing the matter with you that a first-class funeral can’t fix.

Why, you appear to be as happy as if you were in your right mind!

Any favorites you guys have to add to the list? 😀

top of the mornin, top of me head

*crawls dramatically through debris*

*pulls self up to keyboard*

Must…. Blog!….

*foomphs comfily into chair. foomph!*

Dear Blogistan,

This blog is really and totally going to be off the top of my head. And that really and totally is going to be the only excuse I’m going to offer for, ‘So, what do you guys look like?’

Seriously. I wanna know what everyone looks like. I like knowing what bloggers look like because it puts their writing into a context. It helps to know a bit of background info. Take, for example, Knicq. His blog is ten times funnier when you realize that not only is he not as fat, bald, or bearded as he makes himself out to be, but he’s also just as hillarious in real life as he is on paper. His blog is authentic. Chai, too. Not only is the nonsense she posts genuine, it’s also spontaneous, and it tends to come out in the middle of wholly unrelated conversations, and we tend to laugh at her. And then she beats us into Jujitsu victims.

Hemmie‘s blog is made better by the huge discrepancy that exists between how she looks and how she sounds. Don’t be intimidated or fooled. She’s adorable. She has a squeaky, surili little voice. And since she’s all the way in Lahore, she has to drive three hours just to punch me, so I think I’m safe. For now.

Crayon‘s blog has to, absolutely has to be read in her accent. I think her accent is East London. Whatever it is, it’s contagious. I’ve confessed to her that I type in a British accent, but I haven’t the backbone to try mine out in front of her. She would, as she so Englishly told me, ‘take the piss out of me’ if I did.

So I want to know what you guys look like, and because it’s 2 am, you have to describe yourself in ten words or less.


Happy faced, piggy-eyed, pink sweater wearing Abez with freckles.

Hai, kitni cute hai

So today I went to the Tabib and instead of seeing just one doctor, I got to see nine of them. Sort of. One Tabib was my neurologist and the other eight were baby-Tabibs, med students in little white lab coats without name tags. They were so cute, awwwww.

They were such a short, fresh-faced and nervous looking contrast to my very tall, very salt and pepper neurologist who always looks like he’s either heading for a nap or has just woken up from one. (he’s got nashili ankhein) There were eight of them crammed into the corner of the small room and the one big Tabib taking up all the rest of the space. Me, I sat in the corner and worked hard resisting the urge to pinch their little med-student cheeks.

Chai is gonna kick me for this entry, not only because she’s a med student, but also because she has such pinchable cheeks. Not that I would pinch her cheeks. She’s older than me, the dinosaur. Those other lil med students were much younger than me judging by their looks and by the fact that med skool here starts right after tenth grade, a place I escaped from back in 1996. So unless they’re in their 9th year of classes, I just might be their baji. Which makes me a dinosaur too, and when Chai kills me, you guys can have my fossils.

In spite of being at the Tabib’s today, I’m quite alright, Alhamdulillah. I just still have one-sided headaches. The meds for variant migraines helped to decrease both the intensity and frequency of my head/face aches, but the course ended two weeks ago and then the headaches picked up again. So I’m back on the same stuff and after another six weeks things should be ok InshaAllah.

In the mean time I’m back to eating contraband (since it doesn’t seem to make a difference in whether or not my head hurts) and using the computer excessively and working out and playing Vagrant Story at the same time. I had to get a note from my doctor saying I could do these things because my father was frowning at me every time he saw me sitting in front of either of those screens. “You’re giving yourself a headache with too much computer!” he kept saying. He even asked me to stop working out and playing video games simultaneously to see if it made a difference. I didn’t work out for a whole week, and the only difference it made was on the scale. Heh.

Speaking of the scale, I should go work out. I haven’t yet for today, and judging by the sudden population decrease suffered in Gingerbreadland this afternoon, I most certainly need to.

Delusions of Browndeur

Chij recently mentioned that she wanted her nose pierced and wondered aloud (on her blog) about whether it hurt much. I wouldn’t know, my mother wouldn’t let me get my nose pierced.

“But mom!” I remember moaning teenagerishly, “All Pakistani women get their nose pierced! Daadi Saab has her nose pierced!”

“It doesn’t matter what Pakistani women do, you can’t get your nose pierced.”

“But it’s traditional! It’s classy! It looks great! Why not?”

“Because you don’t look Pakistani, and on you, it would just look white-trash.”

I distinctly remember how shocked I was hearing my mother tell me I would look like white trash, not because I was offended by the possibility (in that era, I was wearing ripped jeans, Smashing Pumpkins T-shirts and two wallet chains) but because I wasn’t Pakistani enough to pull off a nose ring. People who know me will laugh at the idea of me thinking I look Pakistani. In fact, in my house we have a term for someone thinking they’re more Asian than they actually are. We call it Delusions of Browndeur.

I maintain though, that brownness is relative. Case in point: By Pakistani standards my Urdu is passable on a good day and laughable on all the others, but back in the States, I had friends who used to show me off to their parents because my Urdu was just so darn good. And it was good, darn good by white-washed coconut standards that my friends held. After all, many of them know only enough Urdu to say, ‘Jee Ammi?’

In the US I wore kurtas with my pants years before it was fashionable because I was just so brown and didn’t care about what other people thought. But here, when I wear pants with my kurtas, it’s because I’m just so white.

When Owlie and I went to the Lahore Museum with Hemmie, the guard at the entrance tried to stop us from entering with local admissions (yes, there are different admission rates for local and foreigners) because he thought we were foreign. “Wait!” he said to Hemmie, “Are these foreigners?”

“Yes, and um, no,” Hemmie said, not knowing why he had asked. He reached out and took our tickets.

“They have to go buy tickets for foreigners.”

“No wait!” Hemmie said, “They’re not foreigners! They’re from here!”

“Oh yeah?” the guard said, turning to us and asking in Urdu, “Kahan say?” (where from?)

I grinned uncertainly and said, “Islamabad say?” (from Islamabad!)

He gave our tickets back and we got to go into the Museum.

There was one time at a wedding when Owlie and I were sitting around a table with a whole slew of light-skinned cousins (our family is Pathan) when some aunty wandered up to the table and just pulled up a chair in our midst. She made no move to introduce herself, just sat there and observed all of us from the not-so-distant distance. After a few minutes of what looked like confusion on her part, she turned to my favorite niece (thirteen at the time and way too clever for her own good) and pointing to us, whispered, “Are these girls from somewhere else?”

“Yes,” my niece whispered back conspiratorially.

“Where?” the aunty demanded.

My niece (and this is why she’s my favorite) said “All the way from Islamabad!”

“Oh,” the aunty said with disappointment, “Then where are the girls from America? Someone told me they were sitting at this table.”

It’s true that I may not be as brown as I would like (I would like to be something other than pasty) but there is a plus side to being a mutt. I’m almost all the same color. I have friends who complain about hijab-tan, the tan-faced, white-foreheaded phenomenon that affects hijab-wearers of different races, but I seem to be almost immune. For whatever reason, I missed out on my dad’s great brown skin, but I got in on his inability to be sun burnt or tanned. On the down side, at summer camp they call me The Vampire.

Being half-white I get to be ‘Ambiguous Multi-National Man,’ my super-spy alter-ego, one who fits in with non-brown races everywhere. I could be Russian, I could be Spanish, I could be Bosnian, I could be Arab, I could be Irish (I got freckles!), I could even be Chinese. Ok, maybe not Chinese, but once, when we were living in Pakistan as lil’ kids and speaking rapid-fire American in a shop (American: a language wholly separate from English), the shopkeeper asked my father what nationality those little kids at the counter were, and since he couldn’t figure out what language we were speaking, he asked if we might be Chinese.

So theoretically, if I learned Spanish I could just blend into the locals and disappear forever. Or, if my Russian was a little better I could move to any former Soviet Bloc-istan. Or, if, maybe if, my nose was pierced, I could infiltrate goth-loving, punk-rock listening hordes of white trash back in Chicago. There’s a plan. Now all I need is a mullet.

(disclaimer: I know no one in the Bon Jovi pic has a true mullet, but that picture was just too great.)

Mortal Wounds: when bannisters attack

How to:

1. In a hurry, approach the top landing of a staircase.

2. Also in a hurry, notice that there is an empty garbage can waiting to be taken back downstairs.

3. Swoop down with your right hand to pick up the garbage can, removing your eyes from the staircase and therefore altering your initial trajectory.

(Note: the bannister cannot ambush you if you’re looking right at it.)

4. Inadvertently smash your left hand into the pokey and ornate ornamental bannister at the head of the stairs.

(make sure a hard corner is jammed very precisely between two of your knuckles so that the nerves of your arm are jangled all the way up to your elbow.)

5. Watch it swell.

6. Notice the sudden discoloration.

7. Perish.