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Monthly Archives: July 2007

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Hooray for You Tube!

The best of some anti-smoking ads featured on Youtube.com. Some are pretty graphic, but anyone who smokes must watch, and anyone who doesn’t smoke should watch anyway.

And last but definitely not least-

Cheesecake and Strategic Negotiations

“Oh Ye who believe! Fear Allah and make your utterance straightforward. That He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins; he that obeys Allah and His messenger, has already attained a great victory.”

The Qur’an, Chapter Al-Ahzab (33) 70:71

So I came across this line today and it made me smile. It may be a reinforcement of what I already believe to be true: the best type of speech is honest and straightforward, but it’s great see that and be able to go, “And look, God said so too!”

On a side note, I had an imaginary conversation with Bebeface a few minutes ago that went something like this:

Bebeface, who was no longer much of a Bebe, but around 16 and wanting to go hang out with the guys on the corner who stand around each other’s cars and do whatever it is that teenagers do, comes up to me and says-

Hey Mom, can I go hang out with the guys?

And I put my cheesecake down (if I’m imagining things, I might as well add a piece of cheesecake) and say, Where to babe?

Oh, we’re just gonna hang out. On the corner there.

And I picture what we see every night now- groups of young men- some in their late teens, smoking and drinking that alcohol-free malt that still looks like a can of beer that no one would really drink if it was packaged to look like just another soft drink. There are younger kids too, hanging around them, but not with them, at a distance great enough to be safe but not too far to be excluded from the vicarious coolness.

And there will be a few cars with the hoods up, and a few guys looking inside and comparing things. And although there will be nothing distinctly wrong with the picture, there will be an outpouring of wrong-ness; the cigarettes, the near-beer, the fascination with fast cars that has little to do with engineering and more to do with drag racing, and then there’s the hierarchy of coolness and bullying and the social pecking and punching order of youth when more than two of them occupy the same dimension in space. And then there’s wondering what they’re all doing out at 11:30 on a weeknight, and where they’re going afterwards, and what their parents think they’re doing.

I can’t hide Khalid from the world, and I can’t hide the world from Khalid. I don’t want him to get burned, but he has to know what fire is to be able to avoid it. And I wonder if I say no- will he give me some sort of smart-alecky answer?

No Khalid, now ask me why.

Aw Mommmm… why?

There will be times in your life when you can’t avoid people smoking around you, but this isn’t one of them.

There will be times when you can stay up late for a perfectly good reason with friends, but hanging out on the corner isn’t one of them.

If you want to hang out with your friends, do something tomorrow in the day time. If you need a ride or want to go somewhere cool, grab your dad and we’ll plan something out that’s a whole lot better than hanging out on the corner at 11.

And last of all, if you just want to hang out, invite your friends over and just hang out. You know that smoking is a deathwish, and I wouldn’t let anyone else rip your lungs out, so I’m not going to let you do it to yourself-

Mom, that’s gross-

But it’s true, so you know not to hang out with people who are smoking, even though some of your friends may smoke, they don’t have to smoke around you.

So that’s a no?

Yep. Want some cheesecake?

No thank you.

And Khalid sulks away and goes to his room. And I’m not sure if that went very well, because the end goal is not control, but education and guidance. There are basic human needs that make everyone tick, and for kids, the need to feel like a part of the gang (aka: social acceptance) can be overpoweringly strong.

So I call Khalid back.

Hey kid, let’s have that conversation again. And this time, let’s use strategic negotiation, ok?

Mom, I would like to hang out with the guys, who are, at the moment, hanging out down the street.

I say Ok Khalid, I recognize the validity of
a. you wanting to hang out with your friends
However, I have the following concerns:
1. The timing
2. The venue
3. Possible negative behavioral elements
I would like for you to enjoy your friends’ company in a time and place that doesn’t infringe upon certain agreed-up boundaries, such a curfew and behavioral norms, how can we reach a solution that addresses both of our interests?

Here, Khalid looks at me like I’m crazy, but because he’s grown up with the principles of strategic negotiation (which HF and I try to use for all disagreements, even now) he knows how they work and what he needs to do in order for us to reach a compromise. He swipes a bite of my cheesecake and says:

As per venue and negative behavioral elements, Sami is the only one who smokes, and he’s not there right now because Hammoudi think he’s a moron, and I know it’s late, but if I could just go for twenty minutes, I can talk to the rest of the guys about meeting up tomorrow, at a venue that we both find satisfactory, during a time that fits well within curfew, and in a setting that minimizes the possibility of negative behavioral elements?

And he smiles hopefully.

I nod. And he comes home exactly twenty minutes later, and we arrange for he and his friends to come over tomorrow and hang out in the pool (imaginary cheesecake goes very well, poolside) after Maghrib. And I make secret plans to make them all volunteer in the cancer ward of a hospital for a few weekends, so they can see what lung and throat cancer does to your body, but that’s another imaginary battle for another imaginary day.

By Zeba, the end.

6:25 am- Owlie and the LackThereof

It’s 6:25 am, and HF is asleep, and although it’s logical that he be snoozing at this time, I wish he were up. I need someone to sob on. Owlie is gone- en route to the airport right now, en route to big and exciting and prestigious journalism-flavored adventures in the US of A.

It is not my intention to write a blog that will make Owlie sad, though we parted with tears, and it is not my intention to make her feel guilty by saying that I will miss her in a way that aches so bad, so very bad right now. I want you to know, Zarina, that I know you will do fantastically, I know you will rock the ever-lovin socks off of your colleagues and your professors. You will charm a new village, you charismatic dictator, you- and in doing so you will only add to the vast group (take a number, get in line) of the people who adore your wry wisdom and your awesome baking and can see through the armored exterior to the chewy nougat center in the middle.

And I will make you proud. 🙂 I will prosper, I will carry on, and in your absence, I will create my own adventures, and as I sit here on your bed, making a mountain of soggy tissues, I am eying the box of Nutty Buddy bars and already wondering what sort of person eats four, and also, whether you can send me another box. :p There will never be any replacing of you- I checked, your EULA doesn’t cover replacement in the case of loss, but the good news is I don’t need to replace you because you’re not gone. Just like me, you’re still here, but just slightly there.

And there you will have the world as your oyster cracker, and possibilities will lay themselves before you, and you, Pikachu, will evolve in Journalismchu. I believe in you.

You will be fine, but we already know that. You need to know that I will be fine, and when you come back, I will be here, keeping your spot warm.

I love you. I miss you already.

I am proud of you.


The Bebefiles: Ten fingers and sixteen months

In the last five minutes alone, Khalid has:

  • Placed one of my shoes in the bed next to HF (who is taking a nap)
  • Helped himself to a seam ripper that had been (or so I thought) safely out of his reach
  • Taken HF’s glasses off of the desk (also, presumed to be safely out of reach) dropped them on the floor, and nearly succeeded in standing on them.

Khalid’s previous exploits have included:

  • Infiltrating the bathroom and splashing about in the toilet up to his elbows
  • Removing the cover from the drain in the kitchen floor and staring down the dark hole
  • Sorting the dirty laundry from the basket, one article at a time
  • Hitting redial and making international phone calls
  • Emptying HF’s sock drawer of socks

At the moment, Khalid is:

  • Sitting on the floor banging a green ball and an orange ring together
  • Heading my way with the orange ring
  • Dropping the ring on the floor
  • picking the ring back up
  • Dropping it again
  • (he likes the sound)

All work and no play makes Jack a dull beanstalk.


So I’m very behind and very overwhelmed by my current workload, and in times like this, it’s good to make a to-do list, and if one posts the to-do list on their blog, then maybe it counts as an update, yes?

To-Do (in order of descending urgency)

  • July eZine Draft 1
  • PRB Marketing Campaign Draft 2
  • Confirmation Instructions HTML
  • CBC entry form
  • Invoice & Outcome statement pub file
  • Website Correction/Review

Ok, now it doesn’t look like all that much. Off to work we go!

Farewell Chateau

Chateau de Chateau- Castle of Castles, has been the name for my parent’s home ever since I got married two years ago. It’s been the place where I come back to be a daughter again, to laugh with my sister and get hugs from my parents and wake up late in the afternoon to find two different cakes in the refrigerator, both of which make an excellent breakfast.

Within a few weeks, the Chateau will be moving. Owlie is flying away to a super-cool science journalism fellowship where she will spend the next ten months evolving into an uber-journalist. I’m very proud of her, and very excited, and to say that I’ll miss her is a drastic understatement.

Owlie and I, though we passed through a ‘mortal enemy’ stage somewhere during adolescence, are close enough to be considered two heads on the same set of shoulders. And although me getting married and moving off to husbandland has put some distance between us, it just means the shoulders have gotten a little bigger. I’ve kind of been avoiding the issue- not thinking too hard about it, trying not to bring it up, but within a week or so, Owlie will be gone and I will be oceans away from the sister that I have 24 years of inside jokes saved up with. (Tartar Sauce: The fish that doesn’t swim)

It’s only fair I guess, Owlie had to deal with Abez withdrawal when I got married, and now I have to deal with Owlie withdrawal for a while. It’s not permanent though, InshaAllah she’ll be back soon. And I’m going to fly down to the states to visit too.

And now Daddy will be heading state-side too. Lil Brudder, our great huge youngest sibling, is in need of some Dadderly guidance to get through college, and so Daddy is heading down for a few months. Momma has been in the states for a few months now, and you would think years of living like a nomad would desensitize me, but I miss my Momma. I miss Lil Brudder. And now I will miss Owlie and Daddy.

Alhamdulillah, I have HF and Bebeface here, and Hemmie has been drafted to be my stand-in sister, and Mona has volunteered too now that’s she’s back from India, which gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of being loved and knowing that you’re not alone, but you can never replace your family. You can add on to it, but you can never replace it.

And the Chateau is being packed up and rented out, so my castle in the sky with cake in the fridge will have someone else living in it. Let’s hope they bake. I wonder if they’ll let me come over on Thursdays.


At least I had cake.

Once upon a time, approximately yesterday, a young woman in a pink track suit began her first day at work at a beauty salon. It was all going well until just around lunch time, a customer came in for a hair cut. The customer said hello, and she had brought along a friend and asked her for a little trim. The lady nodded, sat the customer down, and broke out the scissors.

After a few minutes of snipping, the customer resembled what happens to barbie dolls when bad little girls play with scissors. Or maybe weed-whackers.

And the customer called Hemmie (who was out walking Bebeface) and the customer called HF, and the customer called Daddy, and the customer has to admit she even cried, but she couldn’t help it, it was just that bad. (She had just come in for a trim, not to have her head chopped in to a sideways mullet)

And after a bit of discussion two things were concluded:

1. The pink track suit lady, although nice, was not actually a trained beautician of any sort, and lied to get the job.
2. The salon would pay for the customer to get her hair fixed somewhere else.

And then the customer went home, hopped into a car and sat through an hour of Dubai traffic to wait an hour and a half for a turn in a very busy, very nice salon, and then told her sob story to the old beautician (whose name was Hermie) who looked through her glasses (which were hung on a string around her neck) at the customer and said, “Oh my God, what was she doing…?”

And there was much snippage, and much concentration, and much more snippage to even out the damage, and Hermie finally brushed and blow-dried the customer off and pronounced it a success, at least what was left of it anyway.


Ok, so there were some high points in this misadventure. Hemmie not only provided free babysitting, but also much needed emotional support throughout the ordeal. And HF left his office work to magically appear with cake and hugs. And Daddy did the drive to Dubai, the two hour wait with Khalid, and then the drive back.

By Zeba The End.