Bookish Resolutions 2014 !

I have never had bookish resolutions but I thought to myself and realized that the time has come to do so. Because when i have certain objectives in mind, than its easier to comply with them. So here are my bookish resolutions for 2014 :

1. Read more classics. 
I have a love hate relationship with classics. I take forever to read a classic because it requires patience. And I suck on that account. But the few classics I have read, I have loved them, like Pride and Prejudice, The Count of Monte Cristo, Little Women (one of my favourite childhood books), Arabian Nights, Jane Eyre etc. So this year I hope to read the classics already in my possession.

2. Buy more books:

I was packing my books for moving and I saw that I have bought only 16 books in 2013 which is such a shame. And a lot of books I read as ebooks. So this year, I am going to buy all the books I read. I tend to spend my money on other things and than I have nothing left for books. So buy books first. Than anything else.

3. Blog more about books:

I am a slacker when it comes to blogging. I am not consistent at all. I keep putting off blogging like the rest of the things. And then I forget about it. When I open blogger, I have an empty mind which makes me sad. So blog as soon as the idea pops in my head. Thus blogging more about books. Whether its books reviews, author reviews etc.

4. Be a consistent reader:

Normally, when people finish a book, they start another one. I do not do that. I might read 10 books in a week. Than don’t read any in the next three. I have no idea why that happens. But that is the way it is and its not good. I love reading and this just wastes time which I end up doing something not productive. I will try to pick up another book as soon as I finish the one I have finished reading.

5. Write the review as soon as possible:

I read a book. Than the opinions I have about it are just churning inside my head. And I take my time thinking about it. But I don’t pen it down immediately. I take a day or two. What happens than is, that I have either started a new book, forgetting a little about the previous one. Or the opinion is not as strong as it was before. And the review is not as good as I would want it to be.

So these are my bookish resolutions. I am not setting myself a challenge this year because I want to see how much I read without the pressure of completing a challenge. Lets see how I do.

……

Be A Little Warmer

A few days back, Moawiz asked Amma,

“We are going to Pakistan. Will there be snow there ? “
“Yes, there will be snow,” said my mom.
“So, there will be a Santa Claus and Christmas there ?”, he asked with a very excited face. 
My mom started laughing and explained to him what Christmas is and that we don’t celebrate it. But other people do. And he informed by mom about all the latest Christmas traditions. 
“So I won’t be able to play in the snow ?”
My mom explained that snow is not just for Christmas. And that you can play how much ever you want. 
After a few days, my mom was telling this to someone over the phone. And the reply stunned me. That aunty went on to say, ” How does your son know so much about Christmas ? Has he turned Christian ?”
My mom got really pissed and clarified that he watched a lot of cartoons, so he knows a lot of different things. And that he is 7. Than we all sat down and told Moawiz not to say something like this in front of certain people because the reaction is very bad. 
This got me thinking. When I was growing up, I had all different sorts of friends. Which included Non Muslim friends. And it was awesome. We respected their religion. They respected ours. They celebrated our festivals like their own even when we hesitated to do the same. But who can say no Christmas cookies and Chocolate Hazelnut fudge ?  It was a treat to see them wear Magenta coloured Pakistani clothes, arms covered with Mehndi and bangles, eating spicy food and asking for second helpings. 
Even in Pakistan, there was a Canadian family who lived right in front of my Khala’s house in Rawalpindi. And I have grown up playing with there kids and the huge dog. I have baked cookies with them and decorated their Christmas tree. I have had bicycle races with them, popped firecrackers on Independence day while covered in Green and White and had Judy Aunty make us the best Strawberry Jam in the world. 
Some of the best people I have known, over the years are from different religions, different Nationalities, culture, traditions and what not. But even now there is no acceptance of the fact that two people with different religions can live in harmony and be friends. People will have their kids study in an American or British school because the studies are better. But the minute someone invites you to their Halloween party, its a disaster. Why ? 
Growing up abroad has had so many advantages. One of it being that you end up learning a lot about other religions. And you love them all the same. You know your beliefs and their limits, so you know not to cross them. But you also know to respect others and their religion like you would expect them to do with yours. So its give and take. 
Have you ever made hot chocolate with real chocolate ? If you have, than you will know that chocolate doesn’t mix with the milk unless its melted and the milk is also warm. So they both have to do their two very different jobs to make one delicious drink. This is not that different than that. Learn to be a little warmer. 
……

As Luck Would Have It

You know what is disaster ? It is walking barefoot in Villagio with your brand new black Converse in one hand and purple socks in the other.

Let me give you some background. My mom had to make an impromptu visit to Carrefour to buy slippers for Moawiz. She also wanted to check out the ongoing  sales in Mango, Bershka, Zara and God knows where else. Anyway, I desperately wanted to get the Moustache socks that I had left in Carrefour a week before. Yes ! I am that idiot who always hopes that she will get it the next time. But that day never comes.

I also wanted to buy some shoes. And by shoes I mean, boots and heels that I like and actually get in my size. Ever since a kid, shoes have always been a nuisance for me. Not because my love for them comes after books, coffee and socks but because I never find the size available. You would think that my best friend would have a problem finding shoes considering her feet are elf sized and her shoe size is 36. Mine is 38, the most common size ever.

It is safe to say that by the time shoes turn comes on my shopping list, my luck runs out. As a kid, that was a problem my mom had to deal with. There was this phase between 10 and 13 years, that my shoe size was neither in the kid section nor in the female section and somehow there used to be in between. I remember wearing one of my moms friends kids shoes, buying shoes from a garage sale (they were brand new) and even having them custom made.

Unfortunately, now I have to deal with this freaking enigma of mine. Anyway, we were checking out the shops and I fell in love with this pair of sky high black heels with a studded metallic heel in Aldo. And the shoe on the shelf was my size. Obviously, I had to take off my shoes and socks. I am ready to do anything for a good pair of shoes. I tried them on and they fit perfectly. But as luck would have it, the minute I tried walking in them, it kept slipping and lets just say that a lot of shoes and bags were saved from my terrible walking skills. And ofcourse, they didn’t have a size smaller in them.

As I am about to put on my socks, amma drags me out of the shop saying, its already 10 and we still have to go to Carrefour. Wear them in the car. Now, who wants to ruin there brand new shoes ? Especially someone with my record. And I ended up walking like a lunatic.

At one point I was sure that the security guard will stop me and accuse me of stealing shoes. Then I will have to show him my bare feet. Trust me, you do not want a stranger to see that you wear Spongebob PJ’s.

Cato the Elder was not wrong when he said,

“Patience is the greatest if all virtues”. 

Adieu !

S

P.S. If you were wondering whether I got the socks or not. Nope. I did not. But I did not leave without socks. Its socks.
P.P.S. And no. I am the worst person when it comes to being patient. Although, my hope for the day is not dead yet.

Responsibility, Price of Freedom

My dad is a very wise man. The kind who will advise you not to drink iced water when you already have a cold and than threatens you by saying, I will not take you to the doctor if you get sick. And yes, we throw it in the sink because lets be honest who wants to have a red blotchy nose and carry a tissue box around.

I say that with utmost pride and respect. But that pride kind of diminishes when he forces the monthly kitchen expenses in your hands. So for this month, my dad had this brilliant idea of handing me the money for our food just so that he can teach us about controlling our expenses and being a little more responsible when it comes to money.

When I first heard that, I was excited. Because that meant, keeping all the money left behind. Now here comes the reality check. Firstly, we are Pakistani which means that when it comes to food, we do not kid around. People have thermals to keep them warm in winter and shorts to keep cool in summers, we have food to survive all year around. Food is sacred.

This basically means that when you are forced to grocery shop, you get all the things you like. I start from the Brownie Cookies, move on to popcorn, chips, noodles, wedges, three different kinds of coffee, two different kinds of Nimko, Chocolate Croissants and two kinds of ice creams. Ofcourse, I do not even glance at the price tags let alone keep in mind the total price of all the junk food I am putting in the trolley. Because dad is paying. Tada !

However, today was such a different scenario. I specifically went to get all my type of food to stock up for the upcoming four holidays we will be getting because of Qatar National Day. I don’t know why I am excited, its not like I am in school anymore. Anyway, I gave the serious list to dad so he can buy the things Amma said to buy. I was roaming through the aisles, checking out the new flavours of Peri Peri Sauce and for the first time I saw myself contemplating buying things. And was stuck deciding between two packets of popcorn or two packets of noodles. And the only reason was the money in my yellow wallet which I miraculously have to make last for the rest of the month.

Life is very easy when someone else pays for you. Whether it is socks or a Blackberry Q10. But the minute that money comes in your hands, its not just 4000 QR that you have to spend on food. Its somebody’s or your own hard work staring right back at you. Its the responsibility to make sure that you don’t waste that money. That at the end of the day, you have 100 QR in your pocket instead of borrowing it from a friend. And that responsibility, my friend, is the biggest buzz killer there ever is.

Like Elbert Hubbard said:

“Responsibility is the price of freedom.”

Adieu !
S

P.S. If by any chance you are wondering than, yes, I did buy 70 percent of the junk that I went for. Its still my dads money right now. 😉
P.P.S Abbu, I love you but please, I beg you  to torture someone else with this new technique of yours. I have had my share.

The Gossiping Ever Loving Aunties

The past weekend just went by in a blur. There were meet ups with friends who have come home after getting in there colleges, end of exam parties, family dinners, IKEA runs with my dear parents and not to forget the most important of all, the annual Book Exhibition.

Every year I wait for the sign board to go up on the round about near my house and when I finally see it, I light up like a Christmas tree. Even thought they hardly ever have the latest books. This year, I just went in for 20 minutes, firstly because it was so crowded and secondly because that is the same day my parents decided to go for the other million errands.

I am the worst negotiator in the world. The whole point of a Exhibition is bargaining. And what I do is simply pay the first price the guy tells me. Which leaves me with no money after five books. And I realize my error 20 miles away, on my way to someone’s house.

The one thing that I embarked upon was to never ever and I mean ever go to IKEA with your parents. Unless you want them to take you somewhere else and going to the other hundred places is your bargaining chip. See, I told you I suck at bargaining.

You see, they will tell you that its just an in and out trip to get the chairs they saw in the catalogue. But I promise you that they will stop at every thing, from cutlery, shower curtains, kitchen fittings, lamps to even the decorations aisle. And your younger siblings will be having the time of their life because they would have converted the IKEA map into a treasure hunt. Meanwhile you are standing there in an aisle full of plastic containers, looking like an idiot, thinking to your self that how the hell did I get here.

From there, I ended up at an aunt’s place for dinner. It was supposed to be low key but they have a misprinted dictionary so I am sure they are not fully aware of the meaning of ‘low key’. Its the kind of dinner that I go to after I have asked my friend at least ten times if she is absolutely hundred percent sure that she will be there.

Other wise you end up sitting with a bunch of aunties who ask you about your roti making skills. Which, lets be honest, are none so far. Then go on to enquire about the ‘khana pakana skills’ (making food). Then starts the comparing of your skills to the other people sitting there regardless of the fact that they are 25 or have an interest in doing things. The best part is yet to come. That is when aunties, you have never met join the conversation and talk about you like you are Kim Kardashian.

Here is the thing, these things annoy me to the point that I want to stab myself and pretend I am suicidal. But I still love these aunties. Because in their own weird way they love me. They will pack a huge container of Russian salad especially for you because its your favourite. They will give you a laptop or a tablet so that you do not get bored at their house. They make sure that their house is stocked with your favourite chips and drinks. They will adjust their outings and family beach plans around your exam schedules.

And this all has a plus side. Firstly, you got the measuring spoons for your baking and now you don’t have to convert everything from grams to cups and stuff. You have books in your hands which you not only can read but admire the gorgeous covers as well. Nothing can better therapy than books. The night ends by meeting your amazing friend, eating the best food, taking it home and having a great time with her.

Find the positive in every negative that you get. Sometimes we make even the good things bad. What we need to do is to search for that one tiny dot of Saffron that makes the whole room smell like paradise. Life is much easier when you start seeing the positive things in the negative ones. Maybe they were positive all along.

Adieu !

S

P.S. Just do it till you get your driving license.
P.P.S. This weeks song on repeat in my playlist happens to be Set Fire to the Rain by Adele.

Accueil hivers !

After giving the last paper today, I was sitting in this little alcove surrounded by a huge piano, reading Robin Hood waiting for Huzaifa to come pick me up. All of a sudden I felt cold air hit me with full force as someone opened the French doors to go outside on the beach. And I realized that for so long, I had waited for Winter to come so I could snuggle in my favourite Blue and Purple striped comforter, drink Chocolate Chai Latte twice a day, wear over sized hoodies and read books. It crept up on me and I didn’t even notice that 13’C is here to welcome me into its arms. 

I love Winters. But the thing is that I have never really lived them. I have but I do not remember living them. There is this vague memory of waking up in fog, getting bundled up in a puffy bright blue jacket, mittens, caps and than all the layers coming off one by one as the sun came out and warmed the day. But that was in Pakistan. And after that I never really experienced cold. Qatar is not the best country when it comes to lower temperature. Rather it specializes in roasting us in 48 ‘C all year around. So forget infinity scarves, thick long coats, beanies, gloves, huge fires and all that good wintry stuff.

Sometimes we wait for something to happen for such a long time that when it finally happens, we forget the true pleasure of it. And then when it goes away, we are reminded of that same thing again and again. So lets take this moment and enjoy it today instead of waiting for tomorrow to bring something better than this. Make your today awesome so when tomorrow comes, you have something to live it up to with.

So I pledge allegiance to wearing Huzaifa’s hoodies, dragging Muaaz’s blanket through out the house, eating ice cream from Moawiz’s pocket money, surviving on coffee and reading as if there is no tomorrow. I cannot wait to wear my knee high Angry Birds socks, have an excuse to live in my PJ’s, go on the roof and breathe in the crisp cold air, to go to the beach, have my toes freeze standing in the icy water and hands melt from the heat of the sun at the same time. I feel utterly grateful that Qatar is clean enough to actually feel that air instead of all the Carbon particles going inside us. I guess living in the richest country on earth has its perks.

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”    -Dalai Lama

Adieu !
S 
…..

Coffee Rants # 4

You know what happens when you are preparing for an exam, you are 70% prepared, than you find out that the paper is the day after tomorrow instead of the next day. Yes ! You go a little crazy. Not necessarily with happiness considering the fact that you will have to revise everything AGAIN. Well, at least I have something to blog about.

One last exam to go and than I am free for a month. Thank you Allah Mian ! But I am scared of my mom and her constant habit of dragging me into things I do NOT want to do. But as her blood, I kind of have to fill in the obligations, which in simple words means turning dried out burned hair of ten strangers into elaborate braids and Butterfly buns and than listen to them tell me how the braid is not long enough. Yes, people. I can grow hair as I do happen to be the long lost sister of Hermione.

I was really scared of giving these exams, mainly because I have studied nothing in the past two years. And suffered the consequences. But that period is hopefully over. I think of it as a Steve Job or Bill gates period where you are at your lowest and than you emerge as a billionaire or the idea of becoming one. Not that that actually happens. But it feels good to put your mind to something challenging and pouring your sweat over that one problem that you cannot figure out. I have missed that euphoria of studying numbers and equations.

 I always have so many lists and plans to follow whenever vacations come up but only one out of twenty get to see the end. The others just end up as paper and pencils in my drawer instead of a Picasso. So I decided to just go with the flow. Like I already do not do that enough. I need to pick up that pen. And write. Instead of whining about not writing. And I need to sketch. Or attempt at a Husain before the paints dry out. Maybe this post can be a reminder of this.

I was wondering whether we ever find the answers to all our questions. I know that not all the answers are for us to find or understand. But still. Do you ever get to feel like every single piece of thread is untangled in your mind and you understand the way you see ? I guess, we still have this life to know that. I hope I do. I would love to see how it feels, to have everything make sense or at least have an explanation instead of us trying to give justifications.

I am going to go and watch 8 Simple Rules and wait for the coffee to wear off so I can sleep. Don’t forget to smile. Life is beautiful. Even if you do not understand it sometimes. Or most of the times.

Adieu !

S

P.S. I will leave you with my favourite song these days which is Tumhay Kesay Batado by Ahmed Rushdi

…SAP…