03 December 2010

november 29, 2010

i'm not sure whether i was looking forward more to nov 3 or nov 29 this year! i was very keen to blog about the 29th, more just to see the date on the blog than anything else perhaps! as fate would have it, i had no computer access that day, being on a surprise weekend trip with H to celebrate our joint birthday :)

one of my teenage fantasies was to marry a fellow saggitarian. i recall hours spent in the school library browsing through a huge almanac on zodiac signs.. the page regarding saggitarius couples was perhaps the most worn out!

not only is H a fellow saggitarian, but we actually have the same birthday- if only all my fantasies came alive so sweetly ;)

it was a wonderful day, a wonderful weekend; thank you H. and for H, thank you fate!

24 November 2010


some time ago, i was having a conversation with ck regarding what it means to be 'home'; in (semi) jest, i noted that recording what makes me feel at home here, or what makes our new apt into a home would make for interesting blogging. coincidentally, a few days later, after a long and impatient wait (on my part), we finally got the internet set up at home. i don't consider myself to be all that much of a techie or online freak, but when i saw my persona-fied browser open up with all my bookmarks and history, i was literally floating with happiness. sitting with my laptop on the bed, i felt like i was finally home.

being online the last few days has made me feel much better, less homesick. i am able to communicate with my friends and family now, read the news, catch up on my fav blogs and websites; all of this adds to my feeling of being home. this is a state of mind, nothing to do with possessions and material objects. those have their own place in making our apt into a home, but this sense of connection is far more important at present :)

07 November 2010

playing house

i'm married!! it's been less than a week, but the past few days in our new apt have been so busy and filled with the mundane that i almost don't remember being a recent bride!

i was worried about how the wedding would pan out, but alhumdolillah, everything went well. there were the usual hiccups and dramas and tensions, but overall H and i both enjoyed ourselves. i was the most nervous right before the nikah, but once that was over, i calmed down and everything went smoothly. i recall sitting in the thaal in hk and listening to various not so fun wedding experiences and memories; i am glad and thankful that my memories are all happy and fun :) in fact, compared to my initial month in india, the period of the wedding was far better! in the words of p and jh, it is no surprise, as i am generally happier when H is around :P

as we settle in to our new place, and get used to sharing living space, i feel like i am playing at house! i cannot believe that we are in fact married; that i am married! everything is so new and novel..

24 October 2010

the road not taken

i find myself standing in awe at the road that lies ahead of me. this is a place i never thought i would arrive at. i cannot say that the reasons no longer matter, but their place is definitely not in this post. or on this road in fact; i would like to leave them behind, bury them and let them dissipate into the earth. i don't want to be burdened with their weight any longer.

i want to be as light and free as a bird, i want to skip and hop my way along this road. i suddenly realize that shedding the weight of that ever present burden, as well as shedding my old life and skin, opens the way to so many new possibilities and experiences. i am excited, nervous, giddy, terrified and humbled all at once. i have no idea how this journey will pan out, but i am sure there will be many twists, turns, highs and lows. i will deal with them as they appear; better yet, WE will deal with them together! for now, i am simply thrilled to be on our way :)

12 October 2010


reading and writing are the two things that (unsurprisingly) are becoming my new anchors in this foreign environment. i am enjoying 'the bastard of istanbul' by elif shafak, which i picked up as a happy coincidence at the second hand bookstore before flying. i had first come across the book early this year when i returned from my three month exile, and while it intrigued me, i ended up choosing a far more down to earth novel. seeing it at the bookstore now, before my new journey, i knew i had to take it with me! (an aside: i don't frequent the second hand bookstore much, but whenever i'm there, i'm always happy with my finds :)

i shall perhaps write a separate post on shafak's novel, but for now i just want to note that the characters and the history engage me, and not only fuel my desire to read more, but to write. this ties in to my increased journalling, as a way to not just record this crazy and momentous time, but also to make sense of things, to feel a semblance of control.

i want to write myself a cocoon, create a world where there are clear distinctions between grey, white and black, where princesses really are rescued by their princes, where the wave of a fairy godmother's wand is enough to ensure glamour and glitter and beauty, where happiness and affection remain unmarked by toil, heat and pressure. surely i can write my way to a new life, complete with the characters and attributes i desire?!

11 October 2010


now that is one emotion/attribute i sorely lack. and it shows. and it bothers me that everyone around me seems to possess so much of it. where can i queue up for some??

i read posts by moms of their infants, and living with a one and a half year old, i wonder how they get past the daily grind of not enough sleep, exhaustion and alone time to write at all, let alone write with such perspective:

"despite the struggles, and the challenges and the sleepless nights, they are only visitors in our home for a short while. It feels like forever but it will be gone in a flash. Its an important reminder and one I hope I remember for the rest of my life. Thank you Waleed for being my son"


"taher and i talk a lot about our own perspectives when it comes to this relationship between us and Nooriya, and how much we have changed and accomplished over the past year. but really, it's Nooriya who we should applaud- her list of achievements in the last 12 months are endless."

these days i am like a fish out of water. apart from being emotionally adrift (without the usual anchors of friends, work etc), i'm faced with physical challenges as well. i've had a sore throat, blocked ears and nasty cough for days now, and no amount of meds seem to be doing any good. i thought i was prepared to be sick for the next six months, but just 10 days of this is wearing me out. my hair is falling out in clumps, my feet, hands and lips are peeling, while my face and nails are constantly plugged with dirt and grease.

i know (or i hope!) that these are all temporary irritants, but that does not make them any easier to live with. i want to vent and scream and stamp my feet. i want to take the next plane home. sigh. the fact that i am not doing any of these (except the venting, which is surely allowed?!), is my only claim to a path of serenity!

25 September 2010


this room that i am sitting in now, this bed, this desk, will never be mine in the same way again. i will not have my own room anymore. as i get ready to leave home, the thought uppermost in my mind is how long before some other city, some other apt, some other people become 'home'? as i leave the comfort of this home, i want to know that it will happen quickly and easily. experience says otherwise however..

21 September 2010

pretty girl

i loved my mitishitabi. i loved my clothes and my jewellery, and i loved the fact that getting dressed and putting on the make up was actually fun. i loved that everyone showed up, was happy for me, and told me i was a beautiful bride. (these are all quite uncommon experiences for me.)

it all went by so fast. i enjoyed every moment, but i wish it had lasted a little longer. i was sad to take off those pretty clothes and wash off the make up; it was such a wonderful experience, and i felt like i would never be that person, be that pretty again.

it was a wonderful start to being a bride, and i can only hope that the rest of the events go as well, inshallah! i'm not sure that dressing up in india will be that easy or argument free, but at least i will have this one day to look back upon in bliss :)

16 September 2010

crazy planning

i love these awesome horoscopes that crack me up:

Spend the day making plans. Big plans, little plans. Plans for the near future, plans for the distant future, plans for tonight. Make plans to make plans if you want to. The plans you make now are bound to be successful, so why not make as many as possible? In the evening, stop making plans and start putting the plans you already made (especially the ones that involve dinner tonight) into action. Good plan!"


15 September 2010

two weeks left

the days continue to slip by.. i want to remember every moment, record it, keep it with me forever, but they just disappear like sand trickling through my fingers..

i had a wonderful farewell on sunday with close and not so close friends and colleagues alike. it was the perfect end (for want of a better word) to years of camaraderie; there was laughter (a lot of it, i hadn't laughed that much for quite a while, it was therapeutic), bonding, chilling out, feeling at home- with the people, and with myself. there was a moment when i looked around in both content and sadness, and wondered how long it would take me to build this again.. whatever the future holds, i am thankful to have had this present.

no longer working, i have spent the past two days running errands and doing wedding shopping. it is outrageous how even as i cross off items from my numerous lists, others spring up to take their place!! i feel like i'm on some crazy treadmill that keeps upping its pace the faster i move.

in a few days will be my mitishitabi, the first of several wedding events. i will officially be a bride! how surreal is that!!! i am a little sad that practically none of the people who know what this means to me, who have shared the journey that brought me here, will actually be present.. without them, it definitely feels slightly hollow..

06 September 2010

episode from a long time ago

while clearing out files from my computer, i came across this piece written in 2008. only two years ago, and yet it seems like forever. those events and memories have been deeply buried, and i'd like to keep them that way. i'm posting the piece up however, because i like the writing, and i know i will most likely never finish it.. (the idea was to write a short chapter on each 'episode'/suitor, with the ideal finale being on the guy i actually married. needless to say, it was far too painful to get through more than what i have below!)


She looked at the list in bemusement. There were names, numbers and places. She was supposed to choose her husband like this? She closed her eyes, subconsciously hoping that when she reopened them, the paper would have gone, perhaps replaced by a marriage certificate. She just wanted the process to be over, to begin a new life without actually making any surreal or gut wrenching decisions.


As she sat on the sofa watching him walk along the hallway and into the lounge, she tried to swallow her disappointment. He was skinny and had terrible acne. But he might be really intelligent and funny, she told herself. His awkward communal greeting and fidgety seating did little to improve her impression. That she herself might not have made any better an entrance in such circumstances did not allow her cut him any slack; she expected potential suitors to possess far more self confidence and panache than that. If only she could just put an end to this right now.

After some more terribly awkward moments, the two of them were walking towards the park. They began a stilted conversation without looking at one another.


She was relieved to find a newspaper that she could bury herself in amidst numerous toys scattered around the hall. She read of the latest scandals surrounding the US presidential elections with equal measures of resignation and contempt. Comments made by World Bank officials regarding developing economies resulted in a smirk, while an eyebrow was raised at the announcement of the Booker prize being awarded to a novel on India’s sordid dark side. Within these pages was a world she was familiar with, a world that she was part of. If only she could stay here.

Y plopped down next to her. “So, how was it?” Had she really been expecting her wish to come true?

She lowered her newspaper shield reluctantly and squirmed a little on her seat. “Well, it was… okay, I guess.”

27 August 2010

one month panic

and the countdown stands at one month. thirty days. ye gods.

panic has been eating away at me for the past couple of days, and i have shed more tears into my pillow than i care to admit. sleep comes later and later these days. in fact, i should be fast asleep right now, but instead was reading through my journal. the last time i felt this way was when i graduated and left cairo. after tossing and turning and tearing, reading through journal entries from that time was quite soothing. then too, i was upset, had a hard time letting go, and it took me quite some time after being back home to move on and make a new life. i spent a lot of time mourning my lost identity, lost friends.

if i could do it then, i can do it now. this is the only mantra i have, and who knows how many times i will need to repeat it until i am okay. as long as i know i will be okay, that there is a light at the end, i can inch my way across..

25 August 2010

hk tourists killed in philippines bus seige

-disgruntled ex-police officer takes tour bus hostage and demands to be reinstated

-ten things the manila police got wrong according to a security analyst, including lack of training, equipment, no element of surprise and not taking the opportunity of disarming the gunman

hk needs to remain calm and not take out its anger against filipino residents in the city

23 August 2010

don't sweat the small stuff

what better time to remember this useful adage than now, in the midst of wedding preps? because really, it's all small stuff. some time ago, i told H that in the worst scenario, i would see the wedding as an obstacle to get through before us being together (he wasn't overly impressed by this for some strange reason..)- perhaps i should print that out and stick it up somewhere for me to read daily! surely, in the grand scheme of things, the wedding will not matter so much. that being the case, the color of the invitations, the way gifts are wrapped, who is invited, will all also not matter...

i admit, i want a perfect wedding. whether such an event is possible, i don't know. i am quite sure however, that mine will not be that event. for if it were, i would be getting married where i want, i would be wearing clothes i had chosen, and only the people i wanted would be coming. none of these things are all that important though. what bothers me more, are the constant arguments and battle of wills over the smallest of decisions. it is simply not possible for everyone's opinion to be taken into account, and i wish everyone would just respect that. and i wish i was better at just doing my own thing regardless of other opinions.

i want to enjoy myself, from now until the wedding, during the wedding, afterwards. this seems like a momentous task from where i'm standing at the moment however. how nice if i could fast forward to mid november already!

21 August 2010

ramadan routine

after the first few days of ramadan, my body and mind quickly accustomed themselves to the new routine and i feel good, alhumdolillah. for the past few days i've even been gallivanting in the heat between namaz, trying to get things crossed from my numerous lists.

i enjoy the ramadan routine. there is something about the discipline and lack of choice (regarding food, entertainment, company) that is soothing, not to mention spiritually strengthening and refreshing. it makes me realize how much clutter there is in my life normally, how much unnecessary baggage is carried from one day to the next. ramadan is a welcome respite from it all. (if only i could continue like that after ramadan as well!)

my imminent departure makes this a more poignant ramadan as well, particularly with regard to 69. i find people there to be more friendly than usual -while nice, it's also a little disconcerting..

i cannot help but wonder how ramadan 2011 will play out- what will i be eating for sihori, where will i be sitting in markaz, who will my friends and neighbours be, and so many other things! fingers crossed that everything will be wonderful, inshallah :)

15 August 2010

the company you keep

"tell me who you're with, and i'll tell you who you are" -spanish proverb

i came across this proverb while reading an article on friendship, and i loved it! the company you keep truly does say a whole lot about you. since high school, i have been very lucky with my friends. i had a good group of friends throughout high school, an eclectic mix of close friends in cairo, and at work, i was blessed with colleagues who so easily became my friends and family.

when i think about these people, particularly those i call my friends today, i am proud to be associated with them, to be known as their friend, to be measured by them. they are bright, warm, open, funny and talented (among other things). i feel better when i am with them, when i speak to them. most importantly, they bring out the best in me, for which i am so very thankful.

you know who you are -i love you guys!

09 August 2010

love colored specs

by Ogden Nash

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.
Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,
Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you
Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I've married one of Shakespeare's dreams.

i love this poem! i came across it while surfing through wedding vows and poetry, which made it all the more poignant. there is so much stuff out there--sweet, cliched, funny, sentimental. since H, 'every aged phrase' truly is new and touching and true, and i feel like i've finally found my secret garden. (or shakespeare's dream!) alhumdolillah :)

ready for ramadan?

Ramadan is upon us, and i have spent the weekend trying to ready myself, spiritually and physically. i am usually excited about ramadan, about the fasting, the extra namaz, the community spirit and interaction at markaz. the past couple of days however, i have been slightly tense, apprehensive about the rigors of a 14 hour fast in this heat, about being extra kind and patient while suffering from a lack of sleep, water and chocolate, about concentrating on the spiritual while daily wedding dramas unfold at home.. perhaps, it being my last ramadan in hk, in 69, has also been preying on me..

while revisiting last year's ramadan post, i was happy to reread the following from poetry chaikhana:

"It took me a while to understand that fasting, even a mild fast, is a confrontation with death. It is the willingness to temporarily abandon that constant hunt to satisfy every desire by attempting to slough off the fundamental hunger for food. How do you just have a desire and sit with it, without attempting to immediately satisfy it? That’s a pretty frightening question, when you really ask it."

indeed. i have been battling (in failure) erratic food cravings the last month, which have left me feeling unhealthy and out of sorts, as well as with little energy for my usual work outs.

"We use food to control emotions. We use food to shift mood and change awareness. Think of the way we grab a pint of ice cream from the freezer after a terrible breakup. Everything, even a salad, affects consciousness in some way. The resulting psychic shift after eating something can be relatively positive or relatively negative. It can help you to feel solid and grounded or expanded and open. It can tantalize the senses and flood us with feelings of satiation or leave us frustrated. None of this is necessarily bad, but we must understand how profoundly food affects awareness, and utilize food wisely… and sometimes not consume food at all.

"A fascinating thing happens when you fast as part of a spiritual practice: After you ease past the initial psychic tension and your body moves through any detox discomforts — the mind naturally settles and grows quiet."

perhaps my food battles have stemmed from the roller coaster ride my life has become right now. and perhaps, inshallah, with an empty stomach and settled mind, everything else will fall into place as well!

05 August 2010

UNJUST, the documentary

There was silence at the end of the documentary. Silence. Sometime later, Basil noted that it was like “a very long poem”. Indeed. It reminded me of the following verse by Walt Whitman:

Love the earth and sun and animals,
Despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks,
Stand up for the stupid and crazy,
Devote your income and labor to others…
And your very flesh shall be a great poem.

UNJUST was a beautiful production; from the stories, to the music, to the cinematography, to the heart behind it. This beauty does not take away the desolation, the crimes or the state indifference. Despite all this, it is beautiful. Perhaps this is due to the three women it documents, who remain strong and committed to their struggles against heavy odds. Perhaps it is due to the women involved in producing the documentary; first timers, but just as committed and compassionate. Perhaps it is due to the many people who walked together with the women in their struggle.

For me, the film mirrored a personal journey. It reminded me of all the people involved in these cases, all the discussions, meetings, protests we held, all the letters, petitions and reports we wrote, all the coffee we drank, prayers we shared. Through these cases I learnt of solidarity, witness intimidation, extrajudicial killings, disappearance, witness protection, court observation. Meeting these women taught me how energy and emotion can be channeled into a fight for justice, how despair and anger can be turned to determination and hope.

Like any story told after an event, the film captured so much more than I could see while walking that path. For that, I am ever thankful.

Moments I cannot forget:

Angkhana: “My husband fought for the rights of others. If his family cannot fight for him, I think that would be very sad.”

Padma: “I would ask my husband’s killers, why didn’t you kill us all?”

Thank you, Josefina.

31 July 2010

my wish for you

eternal smiles

fresh grass under your feet
a gentle breeze in your hair
the scent of blossoms in your breath

an abundance of truth and faith,

a better place,
in every way

**in memory of my nani, rt and mt

29 July 2010

counting down

in exactly two months (give or take a day), i will be boarding a plane which will take me far away from this life that i put so much effort into building, and that rewarded me with just as much. it will take me to a new place, a new life, which i hope will be even more rewarding inshallah, but until then, i simply want to soak up as much of hk, my friends, parents, brother as possible. i want to enjoy being me -i do not know what a married, living in india, with a whole bunch of new responsibilities md will be like.. i hope (among other things) she still listens to tracy chapman, watches house, shakes her head in disbelief at the melodrama of indian tv serials, and is happy to take long walks!

28 July 2010

communication and the world of relationships

i have spent quite some time in dissecting and critiquing other people's relationships and marriages. assuming that i was surrounded by far from ideal marriages, i was quite clear on what i wanted or didn't want from a relationship. or so i thought. now, i wonder whether i was not too hasty to judge, too arrogant in my all-seeing-but-nil-knowing wisdom. each relationship is different, and what works for me, may not work for you; how did i not understand this most basic and obvious truism before?

how did i not realize the world that encompasses a relationship, one that i am finding both alien and unexpected? most importantly, why are my communication skills so rusty? navigating this new world without this essential set of skills is fraught with danger. having to explain myself, my feelings, my rationale is so darn hard. i have these wonderful girlfriends whom i rarely have to explain anything to, who share my thoughts and complete my sentences, who understand me better than i understand myself. communicating with them has been so simple, so easy.

these skills are not just useful in relationships; i recall complaining about interns at work who didn't just get it, who couldn't quite grasp what i wanted. my solution? do it myself. that was far simpler than wasting time and effort on getting someone else to understand, and then actually do the necessary work. i was in awe of this one colleague who was a genius at getting the interns to understand what he wanted. the rest of us were not so lucky.

little did i know that feelings and chemistry may initiate a good relationship, but have little to do with making it work. for that matter, little did i realize that a good relationship requires work, on a daily basis! i feel like a kid who jumped happily into the inviting blue sea without realizing that she didn't in fact know how to swim.

swimming lessons, anyone?!

26 July 2010


wise is the 'women's international shared experience project', enabling women from asian countries to use video, internet and other forms of communication technology to empower themselves and advocate for their rights.

the project is taking off in pakistan right now, where a group of women are making their first film on domestic violence. their stories and enthusiasm are humbling and heartwarming!

22 July 2010

back to the future

i have never understood people's fascination with their childhood, and their wish to rewind life to that period. especially because these are all individuals in their late 20s or 30s! in general, i do not want to go backwards- i am excited about all the new milestones, experiences, people and places i have yet to encounter. i admit though, that i do infrequently think of being back at uni, in cairo -that was a wonderful time, that was when i became ME, when i finally grew into my own skin. but being a kid again? no, thank you.

i don't think i had a bad childhood, but i just don't see what was so great about it either. i recall the pressures of school (and madressah!), the limitations regarding clothes, food, places to go and even friends, and i shudder to think about returning there. how does that compare with the freedom of today, a job i love and am passionate about, meaningful relationships with friends and family, and so many other things?! perhaps i will feel differently 20 or 30 years later, but for now, i am happy in the present, and looking forward to the future.

it's interesting that most of these people mourning their lost childhood are all indians/bohras -does that make a difference? is there something special about the indian childhood that i'm unaware of? or are their lives today not fulfilling enough?

16 July 2010

new words

here's me doing my homework-

interesting: fascinating, intriguing, appealing, amusing, engaging

weird: unusual, bizarre, funky, deviant, peculiar, exceptional

funny: absurd, droll, entertaining, goofy, whimsical

scary: intimidating, formidable, alarming, spooky, unnerving

new word of the day: pulchritude, meaning great physical beauty


having sent around a few pics of H's and myself, i received variations of the following comments:

"both of you cannot stop smiling!"
"u look so cute together!!!!!!!! AND SO HAPPY!!!!!!!"
"you look beautiful in these pictures, so glowing, and i have never seen you smile so wide!"

i feel blessed and loved! thank you everyone :)

14 July 2010

lost and found

i have wanted to write for the past couple of days, but there was nothing specific i wanted to say. or, more accurately, i wasn't sure what i wanted to say here, on this blog.. today, the need to write, to have words move from my head to my fingertips to the screen was overwhelming, and so i thought of using some creative writing prompts to channel my energy into words. many of the exercises i checked out were interesting, but two particularly grabbed me: writing about things i've lost and found, and randomly picking words from a dictionary and writing around them.

i have a dictionary on my desk at work, and another at home. i cannot remember the last time i opened either. there was a time when i was quite particular about increasing and refining my vocab, when i would meticulously check out every word i did not know, when i would 'learn' a new word every week. i miss that time. i seem to have lost that drive, that motivation to excel, to improve, to grow. my vocab is so stagnant now, so incestuous. i use the same words for both work and play. in fact, i use such few words that i have imbued them all with various levels of meanings (to H's consternation!). so, my homework will be to find replacements for funny, interesting, weird and scared! i will also attempt to open the dictionary at least once a week.

now for the creative writing dictionary exercise: forte, possession, wanton, bucket

she finally found the bucket. hands on her hips, she grinned happily at the shiny redness. her grin faded a little as she took in all the possessions packed into it. was that a sock there? blowing out a few breaths, she bent down and began emptying colored pebbles, a bottle of bubble liquid, two plastic spades, mouldy socks, some books that were falling apart. she no longer remembered whether these belonged to her or her brother. most likely to her brother; books and words were his forte. she found words too dense, complicated. she was happier with pictures, images. she loved to draw-people, plants, objects. once she was done with the bucket, she would go back to her latest sketch of her wanton cat.

that was fun! maybe i should do this weekly too.. :)

30 June 2010


i am bored. with all my friends out of town, i am at a loss for social and intellectual stimulation. there are no interesting movies to watch, shows to attend, even the blogs i read seem to be on leave!

i hope that next week, next month will be better, that i will be overloaded with stimulation, which may even translate into more blog posts, inshallah!

23 June 2010


"Backpackers are strange. I have a lot in common with them. We live nowhere, and we are strangers everywhere. We drift, often on a whim, searching for something to search for. We are both parasites: I live in my hosts' minds, and sift through his or her memories to understand the world. Caspar's breed live in a host country that is never their own, and use its culture and landscape to learn, or stave off boredom."

"I know eleven languages, but there are some tunes that language cannot play... Sometimes language can't even read the music of meaning."

"On John's side of the bed was a John-shaped hollow. I rolled into it, the cosiest place on earth."

"Hives of life rumbled on the other sides of the floor, walls and ceiling. The tenement across the alley was so close that our window frames seemed to share the same glass."

i am always sad when i finish a book. more so, when it's one by david mitchell (or haruki murakami, whose influences can be found in mitchell's writing). ghostwritten was mitchell's first novel, and it was surprisingly difficult to get a hold of. when i saw it in the bookstore a while ago, i immediately picked it up!

like cloud atlas, ghostwritten consists of nine different stories. some of the chapters (themes and characters) were particularly enjoyable. i have to say that i was a little disappointed with the ending though, which leaves you somewhat hanging and with several questions unanswered. in that sense cloud atlas is much better thought out. regardless, i enjoyed the book, and mo muntervary, bat, zookeeper, noncorpa and the tea shack will stay with me awhile.

june 17, 2010

so i can come back some time and laugh some more:

"Your energy is largely focused on--if not devoted to--the concept of love right now. Love really is all you need, especially when it arrives in such an amazing package. Someone has recently entered (or is just about to enter) your life, and you feel like they may actually be too good to be true. Stop pinching yourself and just open your eyes--this really is happening to you, and you don't want to miss it."


07 June 2010

a few news stories

Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range
Exclusive: Nine Turkish men on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times, autopsy results reveal

Israel and the aid convoy: How to make enemies
Israel's defiant reaction to the raid on the Gaza aid convoy is almost as appalling as the attack itself

Israel's vivid act of piracy may yet turn the tide of global opinion
Like the Exodus in 1947, the Gaza aid flotilla has now etched itself on the mind – whatever the eventual consequences

Stephen Fry crowns most beautiful tweet at Hay Festival

one of the tweeters compares tweets to his facebook updates, which i love! fb's status update is my favorite feature i think. using a limited number of characters to articulate your thoughts channels your mind in ways you may not otherwise explore. which is also why i am fond of haiku :)

01 June 2010

the stuff of books

a few days ago, in random conversation, h brought up the fact that i used to copy memorable phrases and quotes from books into my journal -this simple act, while holding considerable importance to me, is one known only by a handful of people. h is perhaps the only family member to know this about me. i was quite taken aback that not only did he know, but he remembered. it felt nice.. perhaps more so because i have this irrational fear these days that the ME i know, will be left behind here and slowly drift into nothingness.. (clarifications in a future post!)

h then remarked that with all the books i read, i must have a trove of fascinating quotes stored in my head. if only! my memory is particularly poor when it comes to remembering phrases, lyrics, quotes. quite sad really. i recall telling the smartest girl in school about how wonderful 'the soong dynasty' by sterling seagrave was. her response: 'do you remember everything in all the books you read? no? then what's the point of reading them?!' many years later, many plots and characters have been long forgotten. this bothers me, but not enough to stop me from reading.. i wish i had a photographic memory, but i will make do with what i have; i will enjoy the moments of reading, the pleasure of acquainting myself with new worlds and friends, for however brief a time they stay with me.

24 May 2010

flying by

it's the end of may already!! where is the time flying and why is it always in such a rush?? i want to walk slowly, to savor all the individual moments.. and yet i can barely recall where any given moment begins or ends.. instead of thoroughly being present in the moment, i am simply left with a memory..

memories are good, they are what will keep me going later on, they will remind me of a life well enjoyed, but right now, i want to enjoy my present. i have a list of things i want to do, places to see.. this list came into being much before my india trip, and i was never too bothered with working through it, as i thought i had all the time in the world, and also, because i was happy doing things not on the list, or simply adding to the list. i am still happy with that, but.. what am i really waiting for? is this denial?

if i don't really accept moving on, i most likely will not be able to thoroughly enjoy the present.. as in so many cases though, easier said than done!

[update: i wonder if it's something about the month of may that brings on such introspection; last year at this time i was also looking for a pause button..]

21 May 2010


related to exile and emigration, naomi lazard's 'Ordinance on Arrival' is awesome, and holds as true today, as it did in 1936 (which is pretty sad):

Welcome to you
who have managed to get here.
It's been a terrible trip;
you should be happy you have survived it.
Statistics prove that not many do.
You would like a bath, a hot meal,
a good night's sleep. Some of you
need medical attention.
None of this is available.
These things have always been
in short supply; now
they are impossible to obtain.

This is not
a temporary situation;
it is permanent.
Our condolences on your disappointment.
It is not our responsibility
everything you have heard about this place
is false. It is not our fault
you have been deceived,
ruined your health getting here.
For reasons beyond our control
there is no vehicle out.

language and exile

i wanted to share more poetry from my anthologies! the following two poems are about language and exile.. as noted by denise levertov, 'Looking is a way of being.. And language.. a way of breathing'.

The Armenian language is the home of the Armenian

Moushegh Ishkhan

The Armenian language is the home
and haven where the wanderer can own
roof and wall and nourishment.
He can enter to find love and pride,
locking the hyena and the storm outside.
For centuries its architects have toiled
to give its ceilings height.
How many peasants working
day and night have kept
its cupboards full, lamps lit, ovens hot.
Always rejuvenated, always old, it lasts
century to century on the path
where every Armenian can find it when he's lost
in the wilderness of his future, or his past.

My faithful mother tongue
Czeslaw Milosz

Faithful mother tongue,
I have been serving you.
Every night, I used to set before you little bowls of colors
so you could have your birch, your cricket, your fmch
as preserved in my memory.

This lasted many years.
You were my native land; I lacked any other.
I believed that you would also be a messenger
between me and some good people
even if they were few, twenty, ten
or not born, as yet.

Now, I confess my doubt.
There are moments when it seems to me I have squandered my life.
For you are a tongue of the debased,
of the unreasonable, hating themselves
even more than they hate other nations,
a tongue of informers,
a tongue of the confused,
ill with their own innocence.

But without you, who am I?
Only a scholar in a distant country,
a success, without fears and humiliations.
Yes, who am I without you?
Just a philosopher, like everyone else.

I understand, this is meant as my education:
the glory of individuality is taken away,
Fortune spreads a red carpet
before the sinner in a morality play
while on the linen backdrop a magic lantern throws
images of human and divine torture.

Faithful mother tongue,
perhaps after all it's I who must try to save you.
So I will continue to set before you little bowls of colors
bright and pure if possible,
for what is needed in misfortune is a little order and beauty.

10 May 2010

happy mother's day

to all those moms out there, happy (belated) mother's day :) i am still bemused by the fact that so many of my friends are now mothers!! i hope you were all spoilt and surrounded by love.

for a pretty detailed history of the origins of mother's day, as well as the variations of the celebration in different countries, click here.

i liked the title and spirit of the article, 'Celebrate: Save a mother' and wanted to share:

"Happy Mother’s Day! And let me be clear: I’m in favor of flowers, lavish brunches, and every other token of gratitude for mothers and other goddesses.

And because so many people feel that way, some $14 billion will be spent in the United States for Mother’s Day this year...

To put that sum in context, it’s enough to pay for a primary school education for all 60 million girls around the world who aren’t attending school. That would pretty much end female illiteracy.

These numbers are fuzzy and uncertain, but it appears that there would be enough money left over for programs to reduce deaths in childbirth by about three-quarters, saving perhaps 260,000 women’s lives a year...

So let’s celebrate Mother’s Day with all the flowers and brunches we can muster: no reason to feel guilty about a dollop of hedonism to compensate for 365 days of maternal toil. But let’s also think about moving the apostrophe so that it becomes not just Mother’s Day, honoring a single mother, but Mothers’ Day — an occasion to try to help other mothers around the globe as well."

02 May 2010

life's first drafts

i came across a post on rewriting draft manuscripts the other day, and the following in particular struck me:

"It is in the rewrites that a book gets beautiful and worthy of anyone else's eyes but yours.

In some ways life is like that. When we first began communicating we babbled. When we first walked we staggered. Most of us study for the grades we get, practice the cuisines we have now perfected. Life is rife with first drafts, opportunities we refine and from which we grow.

...as with all things in life, the beauty is in the refining, the polishing until it shines like gold".

how true. and timely; i hate to admit it, but in many ways, i am something of a perfectionist. to the extent that i am reluctant to try things i may not immediately excel at.
i am about to begin several 'first drafts', (which will definitely not result in polished perfection) and it is reassuring to realize it is but natural that they will not be spectacular, but that eventually, with some work and practice, i will get there, inshallah.. i can even look forward to the journey!

27 April 2010

haiku: thinking of you

if i could stop thoughts
of you, would i, or want to;
what else would i think

26 April 2010

potential writing

related to writing more and using new vocab, a close friend last night was enthusiastic about the potential writing inspiration living in india would offer me. of all the comments people have made about my eventual relocation, this was one of the nicest, and most unique :)

it reminded me of conversations with fellow cairene residents, of how the multitude of our crazy and unusual experiences in eygpt would make for fascinating reads, were we to ever pen them down..

indeed, the prospect of so much food for thought and writing is quite exciting! (what actually happens then is irrelevant at the moment.. ;)

23 April 2010

prayer (and faith)

prayer, for me, seems to resonate most when i am happy. when i am smiling and the sun is shining and i am thankful to be alive, to be part of this world, that is when i feel closest to allah. in fact, when i am thankful, period, is when i feel connected to a greater plan, and when i am spurred to engage more in dua and namaz and quran..

this engagement and connection seems to disappear when i am sad or in pain.. you would think that at these times i would rely more on prayer, but i do not. i tend to be so lost, so distracted, so focused on my physical discomfort, that any spiritual avenues seem non existent. i need to work on this, to cultivate more control and discipline, to focus less on worldly attributes.. perhaps, i also need more faith- it is easier after all, to believe when you are happy..

20 April 2010

writing my life

a recent (virtual) conversation about blogging as a means of recording moments and experiences, particularly so we may come back and find ourselves, spurred me to increase my journal scribblings.

it also reminded me however, that what we write now, about a particular experience, is not necessarily how we may remember it. does that make sense? theoretically, i would think that the two would be the same. but when i recall certain past incidents or periods, and i read through my journal entries from that time, i find that many moments so clear in my mind, are not recorded within those pages. and the things written about, particularly with so much angst, i can barely remember!! it would be an oversimplification as well as too much of a generalization to say that i remember the happy stuff, whereas i wrote about the sad stuff, but that does seem to be one way to understand this.. another, perhaps more accurate explanation, is that i am not able to write about everything i am feeling, or everything i experience, and so only the most intensely felt stuff was recorded. also, while blogging for me is a more critical and reflective exercise (i.e. i am more conscious of an audience), journalling was far more about recording events and letting off steam..

despite the 'flaws' of such subjective recording, i am very glad that i have my journals (and now this blog) to go back to, that i may relive certain moments, remember certain places and persons :)

13 April 2010

shakespeare's legacy

i came across this list of movie titles followed by the name of the shakespeare play that inspired them:

A Double Life (1947) Othello
A Thousand Acres (1997) King Lear
All Night Long (1962) Othello
Catch My Soul (1974) Othello
Forbidden Planet (1956) The Tempest
King of Texas (2002) King Lear
Kiss Me Kate (1948) The Taming of the Shrew
Let the Devil Wear Black (1999) Hamlet
Men of Respect (1991) Macbeth
My Own Private Idaho (1991) Henry IV and Henry V plays
Ran (1985) King Lear
Romeo Must Die (2000) Romeo and Juliet
Scotland, PA (2001) Macbeth
She’s the Man (2006) Twelfth Night
Strange Brew (1983) Hamlet
The Boys from Syracuse (1940) Comedy of Errors
Tower of London (1939) Richard III
Were the World Mine (2008) A Midsummer’s Night Dream
West Side Story (1961) Romeo and Juliet
Yellow Sky (1943) The Tempest

i haven't seen most of them, so now i have titles to look for! (reviews and recommendations are welcome.) the list was in commemoration of shakespeare's birth and death on the same day, april 23. the author also wrote a post titled 'everybody speaks hamlet', which has a list of popular expressions originating from the play. among them are:

To thine own self be true
Though this be madness, yet there is is method in ‘t.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks
In my mind’s eye
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
Conscience does make cowards of us all
in my heart of hearts

13 March 2010


yesterday the poetry anthologies i ordered online arrived, yay! i've been wanting to get into more poetry for ages.

while browsing through them, i found myself remarking that ever since going into hr, i have left behind other things. my use of language and vocabulary is limited to certain countries, certain professions, certain concepts. there are so many words i don't use, so many sentence structures i don't get to construct. i want a new canvas, a new palette..

Contraband, by denise levertov

The tree of knowledge was the tree of reason.
That's why the taste of it
drove us from Eden. That fruit
was meant to be dried and milled to a fine powder
for use a pinch at a time, a condiment.
God had probably planned to tell us later
about this new pleasure.

We stuffed our mouths full of it,
gorged on but and if and how and again
but, knowing no better.
It's toxic in large quantities; fumes
swirled in our heads and around us
to form a dense cloud that hardened to steel,
a wall between us and God, Who was Paradise.
Not that God is unreasonable--but reason
in such excess was tyranny
and locked us into its own limits, a polished cell
reflecting our own faces. God lives
on the other side of that mirror,
but through the slit where the barrier doesn't
quite touch ground, manages still
to squeeze in--as filtered light,
splinters of fire, a strain of music heard
then lost, then heard again.

reading lolita in tehran

i found the following entry in my journal, which i opened to write in after a long two years! this might have been my first time to write of books. i thought i would post it here, not just to add to my book posts, but also to remind myself of 'living' literature.

march 2006

"this is how you read a novel: you inhale the experience"

"...has learned that every individual has different dimensions to his personality... Those who judge must take all aspects of an individual's personality into account. It is only through literature that one can put oneself in someone else's shoes and understand the other's different and contradictory sides and refrain from becoming too ruthless... If we had learned this one lesson from Dr A our society would have been in a better shape today."

"...words literally rose up in the air and descended upon us like a fine mist, touching all five senses."

Nietzsche: "whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you."

Flaubert: "You should have a heart in order to feel other people's hearts."
"This respect for others, empathy, lies at the heart of the novel... Lack of empathy was to my mind the central sin of the regime, from which all others flowed."

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, I told him, like you'll not only miss the people you love but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you'll never be this way again." [this is EXACTLY how i felt when i left cairo!]

this was a beautiful book. in many ways. to live like that, to LIVE literature, that is something i am unable to do. most of the time, when i read, it is to escape. so there must be a distinction, separation between fiction and reality. i do not 'inhale the experience' i guess. or perhaps, i inhale and then exhale! whatever, it was beautiful and it taught me stuff, showed me stuff, provoked reactions and made me want to read some books. what more could i ask of a book?

i'm glad i came across this entry, it was nice to be reminded of my enjoyment of azar nafisi's book and prose. i remember that while reading it, i thought it was far better than 'the child that books built' by francis someone, which was also a kind of book-led autobiography. it had none of the charm or engagement of 'reading lolita' however. it has an awesome title though, which i will use someday.. :)

08 March 2010

film and arts festivals

march and april host hk's annual international film festival, and the arts festival, yay.

this year's iff is showing 3 idiots as well -a much better choice than previous indian movies shown! browse through the films and book your tickets here.

you can view the arts festival website here, and take your pick of theatre, dance, opera or music performances. enjoy :)

04 February 2010

to want and to have

so many things have happened in the past couple of months.. all of them are things i have wanted for a long time, that i have prayed for consistently. to get them now, one after another, has left me a little dazed. i am so thankful for these blessings, and in my mind they are firmly linked to the barakat of ashera, so recently passed.

and yet, what i also feel, is that these things were not granted to me because i asked for them, but because they were part of the bigger picture. this makes me so much more cautious, so much more wary that everything can be lost again so easily; just as i had so little control over obtaining these blessings, i have as little control over them slipping through my fingers.