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:
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:

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


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


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.