Monday, December 28, 2015

The best things in life

1. A 'thelay wala' who serves piping hot chicken corn soup "anday wala" :-)

2. Hot frothy coffee in the middle of a busy shopping area when all shoppers have gone home but the food shops are bustling with people at 11 pm.

3. People who push you rudely away and you turn in surprise at their rudeness, and then suddenly start smiling because ... this is home.

4. A place where people tend to say, "When you were not there, we were all silent, and now we're all animated."

5. A group of people who suddenly perk up when you make plans to leave two days later than initially planned.

6. Friends who text back "Oh you're HERE? We HAVE to meet."

7. A program of study which teaches you how much knowledge is out there and how much further you still need to go.

8. People who never ask, "When is your PhD completing?"

9. People who never ask, "When are you giving us khushkhabri?"

10. Cheap stuff found in an obscure shop which never gets destroyed in a washer/dryer.

11. Six people who are about to become 12 in about 6 months.. :-)

12. People who you can have long conversations on the beach with - about future plans, only to conclude at the end, "Allah is indeed the Best Planner."

13. People who stare at you incredulously when you reveal that you really enjoy long conversations about our state of affairs, our educational system and current political situation worldwide. 

There is so much to be thankful for ..Alhamdulillah :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Torrential

The trucks on heart are parked ... permenantly
Their gleaming exterior, so deceptive
The interior torn, broken, ripped to pieces
Which no tow truck can ever pick up...

Copyright Uni Sad_and_Loony 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

I never thought...

Things would come to this.

It is one thing to be mildly in trouble. PhD woes are enough to keep the back of the mind busy in planning wildly, and ignoring wildly. The brain sifts through massive traumatic ideas, their implementations, their unhappy outcomes and the resulting verbal ramifications. As the outer self watches "Zack and Cody", laughing at the witty comebacks and ludicrous scenes, the inner self cringes at the latest verbal confrontation, or the unpleasant finding of the day in which one realizes that their brilliant idea has not only be thought of by multiple people, but it has been analyzed and implemented in top conferences with multiple citations.

That, it itself, is quite enough.

It is a totally different thing to be so extremely worried, that now the eyes stare blankly at Mr. Mosby's hilarious acting, while the inner self spins out of control, trying out wild theories of survival and coming up with nothing. This is, I guess, a procrastinating "survival mode".

An oxymoron, if there ever was one.

May Allah Help us in times of trouble. Ameen. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Anonymous Musings

Aoa folks!

Or rather, Aoa blog :)

Life has been too busy lately. I can't believe I still come back here for a little anonymous rant sometimes. It's weird, I know. Nothing on the Web is truly anonymous. But I guess it's enough that majority of one's friends do not know about blogs not linked to FB profiles. So even if Google knows, Blogger knows and whoever else, the people who do not know, matter the most!

This year was a year of travel. I think I hopped on and off too many planes now.
1. Virginia
2. Columbus
3. Pakistan
4. NY
5. Boston (not happened yet)
6. Chicago (not happened yet)

Too many venues. Too many conferences. Too many strangers. Too many polite "I don't shake hands, sorry but it's nice to meet you". Too many forced smiles. Too many trucks parked on the heart.


This year taught me a lot of lessons. One of the most important ones was this: If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will do that for you. It's only you who can be confident about your own work. If you don't take that responsibility, then essentially, you have let go of something really important. And you're the only one who can take this responsibility.

Another lesson is this: Whatever you face in life, it is meant to be. What that means is that in the toughest of times when one only feels like turning one's face upwards and saying "Why me?"... the important thing to remember is that you're put in a specific situation because you can handle it. If you have faith in Allah (God) and you truly believe that He is the All Wise, then He can never put you in situation you cannot handle. This thought helps a lot! :)

Anyway, till another ramble time, keep smiling folks. Or rather, blog.. :)

Ciao!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trying to keep up!

Assalamualaikum


As the days go by, I become more distant from the blog. But I think I shouldn't. The reason is that this is the only place where my friends (most) don't know who  I am :)!

In almost every other social media outlet, I'm known. Who I am and where I'm coming from. I want this place to remain my sounding board - a jumble of my thoughts from which I hope to extract some coherence.

Insha Allah :)

So here goes. I am finally updating this.

The July that went by was one of the most chronically hectic month of my life! But it was amazingly joyous too. The best thing that happened in this month was the arrival of a little bhanji wanji in this world :D. Alhamdulillah. She is such a bundle of joy MA - albeit a really small bundle. She is as tiny as her brother was :p. But as I always say, if you keep eating Lays and what not, the kiddo inside you is not really going to be healthy :p. Anyway, so I am so so utterly glad I was here when she arrived on this planet. By here I mean my home town: Karachi. I was there at the hospital when the same "pacing outside the room" scene was going on. I received the glad news on text from my phuppo who was inside the theatre ... saying two words.

"Baby girl"

Uff, the joy! MA! I had hoped against hope that it would be a lil girl btw. The reason was simply that since we didn't find out the gender beforehand, the shopping was done completely in the wild. And I had (in my own emotional outburstiness when I saw baby girl dresses and the cuteness associated with them) had literally brought all baby girl suits.. except one or two. So this "suited" me :p {sorry, had to use this pun}.

The lil kiddo was soooooo cute (and she still is) MA :). Her older brother (not yet 5 years old but getting there iA) was overjoyed. He announced to the whole hospital in the following words,

"Sub log suno! Meri baby sister aagayeeee" (Everybody listen up! My baby sister is hereeeee] :D

Amused patients and their families turned around to look and many came over to gaze at the "baby sister". Hehe. It was hilariously joyful MA.

One of the choicest comments by Chotu (her older brother) was: Aap ko pata hay mein kesay aya tha? Mein helicopter basket mein aya tha and seedha governor house pe land kia tha."
[You know how I got into this world? I came in a helicopter basket and landed straight at governor house].

We shouted with laughter at this statement because a few days earlier, he had seen two helicopters and they were headed for the governor house in karachi. This had stuck in his brain, apparently.

:)

Alhamdulillah for the family who cares so much for you!

So the hospital stay was as eventful as ever. The lil bhanji would sleep during the day and as soon as the clock turned 11ish, her eyes would become widee open. Lol. It was a frenzied time. But Alhamdulillah, it passed. Sis the priss was at our place for the next ten days. During those days of diaper changing and cleaning bottles, making iftari and entertaining bhanju wanju, I completely forgot that...

I am doing a PhD somewhere on this planet ... :)!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cleaning out the hard drive

Walking down memory lane
Full of laughter, full of pain
Can't help remembering things
Things that are part of the terrain
Of life.

Today I (had to) cleaned out my hard drives. There are too many TBs of memories out there. I came across old blog posts, unfinished poems, early pictures of bhanju wanju, and most importantly, the previous me.

If I compare myself in 2009 to the one in 2014 - I see a HUGE difference. Like, enormous. My entire brain was re-wired in these five years. My world-view changed completely.

But in that change, I think I lost quite a few things as well. I lost the easy laughter, the easy carefree-ness. Not only that, I lost quite a bit of self-esteem.

If there is one lesson I really really learned in these 5 years .. "Nothing much is going to be according to how you wish it to be".

This place has made me humble :).. that's for sure. I no longer think I'm a "good student" - I no longer even think I'm a "good Muslim".

I think this humility is a great thing so maybe I should be happy about it.

So long folks. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Turkish protests and police response - compared with...

Check out the pictures of how Turkish police responds to protests and media headlines about it

And then compare it with what I'm about to show you!

And then think!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
TURKEY Mine Disaster protest pictures in the media:






Some headlines from media regarding Turkish protests at the mine explosion:
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Now, some pictures from the Egyptian protests which were forcibly cleared up by the Egyptian army under the orders of Gen. Abdel Fatah Al Sisi:

And then check out the media headlines regarding these pictures:











All ordered and approved by: -


The reaction of the media outlets on the brutality you witnessed above?

Have a look:

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The point to be noted here is the gentleness with which media reports show the bloodiest of massacres. If you want more examples of those, I could have posted the barrel bombing of the Syrian regime and how gently reprimanding the media and western officials are.

And when it comes to a kick by the aide of a PM in Turkey, or water cannons shot at protesters (which doesn't kill anybody by the way), the media goes crazy and all hyper about Erdogan and how cruel he is, and how unpopular and what not.

It's just their own desires and wishes being manifested through their actions. If only the Muslims would open the eyes, see through the facade of "civilized responses" and be active about reporting injustices fairly - and reporting justice fairly.

Unfortunately, we close our eyes and follow the mainstream - and start condemning what the mainstream is condemning. Why are we so afraid to challenge the status quo?

A hadith comes to mind:

Indeed, it has been authentically narrated from the Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu ‘alaihiwasallam) in the Saheeh Hadeeth [Ibn Maajah, kitaab al fitan 3986] and also [Sahih Muslim :The Book of Faith (Kitab Al-Iman): Book 1 : Hadith 270], who said:

Bada Al-Islamu ghariban (Islam began as strange)
Wa sa ya-’udhu ghariban (and it will return strange)
kama bada`aa (as it began)
Fa tooba lil ghuraba (so tooba [glad tidings] to the strangers)

« بدأ الإسلام غريبًا، وسيعود غريبًا كما بدأ، فَطُوبي للغرباء »
Bada Al-Islamu ghariban wa sa ya-’udhu ghariban kama bada`aa fa tooba lil ghuraba
 
(Islam began as something strange and it will return strange as it began, so glad tidings for the strangers).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Whirlwind Days

Assalamualaikum

The past month was a whirlwind. Not only did I make my first domestic trip alone here - but it was also my first "official visit". Furthermore, I hosted my first "formal daawat" here.

Definition of formal dawat: One in which nobody uses disposable crockery, but the finest china/pyrex crockery is used and arranged on the table and fancy food is spread out along with delicate dessert items.

You wouldn't believe the contrast between the two activities - dawat + poster ... and the amount of HEADACHE associated with both! More so for the former rather than the latter.

So the unfortunate business that happened was that the dates clashed. I was wishing and hoping that the poster would be called off, since it was to be presented at a grant meeting in DC, and after emailing my professor, I was all hail and hearty, preparing for the formal dawat. So a dinner set was borrowed from a dear friend here, recipes were carefully selected, groceries were brought and lengthy preparations were made.

A close friend remarked, "Kia Obama araha hay?" {Is Obama coming to your party?) :D

Anyway, the big day arrived. And the party was to be held at lunch time at 2.15 pm. Now, the catch here is that our oven doesn't really work - and it had just started working (somehow) a few days back. I had been using my neighbor's oven for the whole cooking business because I hadn't trusted my oven yet, but had been relying heavily on my semi-working oven to heat the food items before the guests' arrival.

At 2.00 pm, the food had not been heated - the people were arriving at 2.15pm. Panicking heavily, I kept checking the rice in the oven anxiously, which was heating up from the top and all middle rice were cold as... okay I'm not saying it.

Sigh. It was a disaster. I somehow fitted a dish in the microwave, and heated one pyrex dish of rice in micro. The dish of baked chicken went straight in a pot (destroying my topping of coriander and what not) to be heated on stove. It was a whirl of frantic activity and prayers, and finally the stuff got heated (except the naans) and the guests arrived. One look at my face told them everything. One kind lady accompanied me to the kitchen and instructed me how to heat the naan really fast. Lol.

Finally, the lunch was served, and Alhamdulillah, everybody loved it :). So Allah ka shukkar, the extreme hard work paid off, in the form of one uncle remarking, "This is really speciality food. I wish I hadn't had breakfast" ... :D

Acha, so they left after a nice conversation lunch and chai. And I heaved a sigh of exhausted relief. But not for long.

The next day, I discovered that my email to professor (long time back) requesting my pull out from the poster session had never been read. So I had to do all arrangements for departure in 2 days. The second day from then was the departure day.

Horrified, and forgetting each and every dawat detail, I set to work. There were forms to be filled, poster to be corrected and layout had to be finalized, tons of emails to be sent, registration to be done, imagine. ALL two days before the event in DC.


And all of this combined with the fact that my prof was so so so not happy with me dumping all of this on him at "the last moment". Deeeep sigh. [all fellowship happiness also evaporated by this point btw]. 

So I had to depart at night 8 pm. On the morning 12 noon, I was hurriedly printing poster and cutting it to be the right size. Hastily, I packed my bags and left for the airport. Upon reaching the airport, I was informed, "Ma'am, your ticket has been booked, but not been confirmed."

Basically, that means that the ticket has not been paid by the travel agent/whoever is booking it for you. Now, I was flabbergasted. In this confusion, 8.30 arrived and the flight left. Now, I was left with two options. Seek out any other flight to DC or wait till next morning. 

On a whim, went to AirTran counter and asked them whether they had any seats on their last flight to DC. They had one. :) That got booked and I left at 10.30 pm that night. It was unbelievable that 2 days ago, I had been happily thinking that I will relax after dawat, but nope. We don't have any control over what's to happen the next day. 

Anyway, the flight landed safely (I admit I'm a very nervous flier - especially when flights go over water while landing so you basically see all water and suddenly a runway appears!!). And at 1 am that night, I reached the hotel in DC and attended the conference next day. 

Poster sessions went great. It was my first experience :) so obviously, I'm not annoyed by the experience. I really liked it. This PhD is growing on me. 

So long.

Check out the dawat stuff. Chocolate yoghurt cake (which people thought was brought from store), semolina pudding (which people thought was kheer), and layered rice. Huge thanks to Fauzia kitchen fun :) :)




The PhD fellowship

Assalamualaikum

I wrote a post long time back referring to a fellowship interview which was about to happen and which never did. Well, Alhamdulillah I did not turn into a skeleton waiting for it to happen :).

The interview was held a full 15 days from the first scheduled one. Lol. I don't remember now what the reason was, but apparently, something went wrong with the timezones.

So the interview went well Allah ka shukkar. I was so happy that day, that I went out with friends and we had frozen yoghurt :D.

The main question on my friends' minds was:


And my simple explanation was that I have never been a good interviewee. I always mess up. This was the one time when it actually went coherently. And the lady interviewer was sounding very happy on the phone. At least my optimistic (ha!) self thought so :). 

The cool coincident was that the lady had been in exactly my situation when she was doing her PhD. Lol. That was funny. We talked as if we were girly friends :D. 

So the results got announced a few weeks back. Alhamdulillah multiplied by a gazillion, I was selected :). I don't know how many applicants there were - but they selected around 80 people from all around the world. So this was a really nice piece of news. My folks were so excited :D. I remember calling my Chotpo up and she (despite her recent chemo session - did I ever mention my Chotpo is undergoing chemo sessions? I don't think I have mentioned this tears-inducing-in-a-microsecond piece of news here) - was elated beyond elated :) :). 

Also, my Dad. Uff he was sooo proud :). I was kind of okay with this thing. But when I saw their happiness, it gave me so much strength. Surprisingly, everybody in my school were so happy. Apparently, a PhD fellowship is a really nice thing to have.. :). Allah ka boht shukkar. 

Indeed, we get unexpected silver linings in our lives and indeed, we should be grateful for every silver lining we get. 

So this was last month. Now, I have to bear the fact that I will be poorer now (this fellowship has a cap on the amount of funding we will receive, so since the tuition is so high, the stipend will be wayyyy less than the one we get as doctoral students here). But anyway, at least this is secured source of funding and it can last up to 5 years. 

For me, at this stage, it is enough to receive congratulatory email from the dean and have this news mentioned in the school newsletter. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

NATO Chief Calls Russia’s Actions Grave Threat to Europe’s Security

WASHINGTON — The NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said on Wednesday that Russia’s military intervention was the “gravest threat” to European security since the end of the Cold War.

“This is a wake-up call, for the Euro-Atlantic community, for NATO and for all those committed to a Europe whole, free and at peace,” Mr. Rasmussen said in a speech at the Brookings Institution on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Rasmussen conferred here Tuesday evening with Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser.

Mr. Rasmussen said that the Russian intervention was serious for three reasons: the size of it, the fact that it affected a nation of 45 million and because the crisis was right on NATO’s doorstep.

“We had thought that such behavior had been confined to history, but it’s back and it’s dangerous because it violates international norms of accepted behavior,” he said.

---------------------------------------
Apparently, international norms of accepted behavior comprises bombing the heck out of a country based on concocted reports of weapons of mass destruction, but if a country takes over another after something called a vote, that is suddenly, unacceptable?

JOKE.
---------------------------------------
Mr. Rasmussen said that the alliance had put the range of NATO cooperation with Russia under review and had suspended its plans to escort Russian ships that are ferrying chemical weapons stocks from Syria.

----------------------------------------
Ahh. Now, I can think of many who would beam with happiness at this decision. Bravo, NATO.
----------------------------------------
Lesson in life:

1. If you're a superpower, you can steal, plunder, rape and murder. All's okay. If somebody else tries to emulate you, yell the roof down and slap sanctions right and left. 

So long folks