Some Lessons Are Very Important

I learnt a very important lesson yesterday. One that I would like to share. So here is how it went.

I was in City Centre yesterday and our maid was with me. I noticed that she was walking really slow. On my inquiry, she told me that her sandal broke, so she couldn’t walk properly. Then she took off her sandals and started walking barefoot. So I offered her my shoes. On her refusal, I took her to a shop to buy her some new sandals for the time being.

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She did not know her shoe size. Hence I gave her different shoes to try on. After awhile I found these Aztec print slipons which fit her and were very cheap. But I was like, maybe this isn’t her style. So I asked her to chose something that she would like. She found some black sandals but there price was three times more. All of a sudden, I was like, I am not going to pay that much for a pair of sandals, just to walk in a mall. I told my brain to shut up because I buy shoes that cost way more than that. Despite that, the fact that I would have to pay that amount for her sandals kept hovering in my mind for the next 45 minutes.

Here is the ironic part.

When I went to pay for it, it turned out that they were half of their original price.

I just could not look at myself in that moment. I always complain about how some people don’t consider me like themselves and are always giving me tacky gifts which neither I nor they themselves use. (You know the whole desi scenario of if you don’t like something, just pass it on to someone else)

How could I expect someone to treat me like themselves when I was not ready to just be decent. The price of those sandals was no where near of what I normally pay for my shoes. Yet, I had a problem paying for it.

How ? Why ? Why was I thinking about her differently ? Was it because her profession is washing dishes and cleaning for us ? What made me so superior to her ? It’s not her fault that she was born in a poor household. It’s actually admirable that she is miles apart from her family, in an unknown country, just so she can support those back home.

If you cannot treat your household help like yourselves, at least treat them like human beings, with decency and respect.

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How To Plan Your Travels

Who doesn’t love traveling ? I can live out of a suitcase 320 days of the year, if my unemployed pocket gave me that permission. Nonetheless, I try my best to at least visit one country in an year. As I am in the process of planning our yearly vacation, I decided to write down everything that I find helpful while figuring out everything. So here are my top tips. DSCN3326

  1. Start Right Now:

When it comes to travelling, just start planning it right now. Now planning does not mean, booking hotels, flights or tours. Just figure out what dates you are free in.  And when it would suit you to take some time off. Trust me, there will be things like a cousin’s wedding or other half’s annual meeting in the way. You think that you will be free but you never know.

2. Set A Budget:

Decide how much your pocket can afford to spend in order to satisfy your inner wanderer. This will help you cut down the destinations you had in mind, resulting in an easier decision of where to go. Even with budgets, keep a little wiggle room. You never know when an unexpected expense might arise. It could be a handmade Persian rug or renting a car due to cancelled domestic flights.

3. Check All Your Documents:

If you are not a frequent traveler, please check all your documents. Expired passports, no exit permits, outdated RP etc has happened before. Official things take a lot of time. So your passport renewal might take a month or two and a lot of hassle. That just means, losing precious Istanbul weather and beating the shit out of the guy who suggested we go in November.

4. Deciding A Location:

This is the hardest thing to do because there are way too many options. But then airfares and amount of time you have comes in. Me and my husband can never agree on a single place. This time, I left the choice up to him since he is not much of a traveler. ( I know, it’s a very sad story. I am trying my best to convert the guy) Despite that, he changed his mind ten times going from Greece to Cyprus to Malaysia to Thailand.Screenshot (16)

5. Check The Weather:

The biggest mistake you can make is not checking the weather before hand. Hence, if you are going to Malaysia in October, there is a high chance you might end up staying in the hotel 24/7 or seeing the Petronas Towers dripping wet with rain.

6. Set Your Priorities :

You can do this after your have decided the country to visit or do this before. This basically means, deciding what you want out of your travels. Do you want a relaxed holiday or want to visit all the landmarks that you can. My priorities are usually, food, shopping, adventure, sightseeing, locals and bookstores. Though this time, the other half decided that he wanted a bit of history, good architecture, something different that he would never normally consider.

7. Decide Your Problems :

You need to think of any problems that may arise in the country you are traveling too. This might not be a thing for everyone. But for a Desi like me it is. Country relationships are not always the best which results in visa rejections. Or unnecessary checks at the airport (which mean that your vacation is over before it even began). Also, as a Muslim, I have to think about things like Halal food or places to pray at.

8.Take A Break From the Internet :

Yes, I know the internet is a wonderful place. It lets you have a vacation before you have booked anything. But just get your hands off that things to do in Stockholm button. The fun of traveling is in not knowing what the country has to offer and than being surprised.

9. Have Fun:

At the end of the day, you are traveling because you love it. So no matter where you end up or how you end up there, smile and just have fun. Go and explore the city, forget your itinerary for an afternoon. Breathe in that air because you are standing underneath the same sky, on the same ground but everything else is different. The history behind it is different.

No matter how you plan your traveling adventures, the journey will always be great. It will teach you something new, open your eyes to different cultures and different people. So simply travel.

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All About Art

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t into creating something, whether that is a painting or a bookmark. Art, anything paint related or sketching, comes out of me only when I am free from a million other things. Years will go by and not a single thing will be created by these hands. One day you will end up finding a mural on the wall.

It happens when the inspiration strikes. Last month, after giving exams, I had time on my hands. I saw this canvas in Home Centre and bought it to experiment, which turned into a whole request turned order by my mother to do calligraphy for her.

Calligraphy is a medium I have never tried. And I know very little about it. Despite that, I attempted my hand at it and I think that these turned out pretty good. Amma likes them so I am done with the whole parental anniversary gift for the year. Phew !

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These are all verses from Quran that my mother really likes. This one I did free handed, hence you can see that its not as good as the other two.

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This one is inspired by some of the work that Sadequain has done. He was an exceptional calligrapher and painter.

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For me, it’s important to try something new every once in awhile. It makes you feel good and refreshed.

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Kartography – Kamila Shamsie (Book Review)

Goodreads Review: 

Raheen and her best friend, Karim, share an idyllic childhood in upper-class DSCN3308Karachi. Their parents were even once engaged to each others’ partners until
they remBut as adolescence distances the friends, Karim takes refuge in maps while Raheen searches for the secret behind her parents’ exchange. What she uncovers reveals not just a family’s but a country’s turbulent history-and a grown-up Raheen and Karim are caught between strained friendship and fated love.

A love story with a family mystery at its heart, Kartography is a dazzling novel by a young writer of astonishing maturity and exhilarating style. Shamsie transports us to a world we have not often seen in fiction-vibrant, dangerous, sensuous Pakistan. But even as she takes atched in what they call “the fiancée swap.” us far from the familiar, her story of passion and family secrets rings universally true.

Author: Kamila Shamsie

No of Pages: 320

My Review: 3.9

Published: June 7, 2004

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance,

The likes of you and me would think that this book is for everyone. But its not. Its for those who have lived in Karachi, are associated with it in some way, who have witnessed the bloodshed that accompanies that city. People who were born there and were raised there. People who migrated there and made it their home. People whose blood bleed Karachi. People who have driven it’s roads, know the secrets of the city. People who live in the chaos that is Karachi.

You and I, will never be able to resonate with this book as much as someone from Khi would.

Shamsie has done a great job showing life as it was in Khi and still is. The book and it’s writing is raw, powerful and brutally honest and that’s where its beauty lies.

I love anything based on friendships. Hence, I loved both the foursome friends, the older as well as the younger ones. All the characters had so much depth and were both lovable as well as relatable. Yasmin was one of my favourite characters, for the reason that she understood Zafar when nobody else did.

Raheen and Karim’s story is over shadowed by the city’s story. And by the love that binds these two to Karachi. While it is told from an upper class’s perspective, you will get to read about all kinds of people, and what binds all these different classes together. The upper class can’t exist if there is no lower class or middle class.

Favourite Quotes:

“Yes, the city said, I am a breeding ground for monsters, but don’t think that is the full measure of what I am.”

“Its a moonsmile. No light of its own unless there’s a sun for it to reflect off,”

“You know, if I wasn’t me, you wouldn’t be you.”

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Urdu- Just A Language

After dinner, everyone gathers around in Ammi Abba’s room and we read a couple of a Ahadees from a book. The book we read from is in Urdu and everyone has to take turns to read it.

The first day that happened, Abdullah made ten mistakes in three lines that he read. The next day, one of his siblings could not even get through the first line and the other was just okay. I was the only one who read the whole thing without a single mistake.

That observation made me sad. I love being bilingual despite the fact that growing up, I hated studying Urdu as a language because it’s very tough. It was the only subject I lost marks in, without any explanation.

You have what is called Tashreeh where you have to interpret the Poet’s poems and write about it in detail. There were essays written on topics I had not even heard about. On top of the language being so hard, the book that was assigned to us was ten times worse. The chapters were lengthy with literally zero meaning, dated 30 years back.

I never liked Urdu and used to object studying it. In my opinion, it should have stopped being a subject a long time ago. In the two years that have passed since I finished school, I have used it probably once and that also to write a recipe for someone who didn’t know English. So for me, Urdu was not even practical because it was not in our daily usage.

About a month or two ago, my mom gave me Bano Qudsia’s book “Rahe Rawan” which is a biography of her late husband and writer, Ishtiaq Ahmed. It took me about two weeks to read it, a lot of skipping in between and I still could not finish the whole book.

Honestly, I loved the way she wrote. It was not her writing style, it was what she wrote that was incredible. You realize what mind of thoughts she comes from. The fiction books I read daily are not even tenth of what she had written in that book. Her thoughts were a reflection of what I had in mind. That book made me ponder on her written words. That was the moment, I truly regretted not reading enough Urdu books. And I have read a lot of Urdu books. Even then there was so much I could not get my head around.

Whatever my past opinions have been, now I am grateful for studying Urdu as a subject. Because whenever I read something, it feels like I have a part of my roots with me. Not only does it represent me but my parents and extended family as well. I might not consider it home but it’s where I was born and where I am from. People who grew up there shaped my thinking, brought me up based on what they had learned from that country and it’s language.

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A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Betty Smith (Book Review)

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Goodreads Review: 

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

Published : 1943

Pages: 500

Author: Betty Smith

My Rating: 4/5

Genre: Classic, Young Adult

My Review:

This book has been in my to be read pile for quiet sometime now. I picked it up the day I finished with my exams. It is based in one of my favourite cities i.e. Brooklyn, New York. Then its set in the 1920’s.

The main protagonist is a little girl named Francie. The story revolves around her and her family’s life, how she grows up, how she survives in the harsh world of Brooklyn. It was a bit slow for me at first but it got me hooked the minute she goes into that library.

This book is a reality slapped across your face to make you see how the world was almost a century ago. And how it is still the same. Times have changed but poverty, grief, disease etc remain the same.

It’s a story of hard-working people and how they turn their lives into something more than what they were born with. Such stories are convictions of the fact that no matter where you are born or what you have, you can do better. You can be more than who you were meant to be.

I loved Francie’s fascination with Manhattan and how for her it was just a bridge away but still seemed like miles apart. One thing that was heart breaking to read was how Francie’s childhood convictions broke and came apart, one by one. Like normal kids finding out that there is no tooth fairy. For her it was finding out that the world is not as beautiful as she imagined it to be.

All in all, it’s a great book. There are so many different parts of it to love and cherish. It has a bit of everything in it, all the emotions you can imagine.

Favourite Quotes:

“Because,” explained Mary Rommely simply, “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”

“But she needs me more than she needs him and I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better.”

“Forgiveness is a gift of high value. Yet its cost is nothing.”

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Pictures taken by yours truly. Somewhat better than my usual attempts.

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Leave It Where It Belongs

Our past has a way of creeping itself upon us, when we want to leave it behind and move forward with our lives. It makes us doubt each step we take. We end up living where we were five years ago instead of moving on with the current year.

People have been talking about how unfair it was to me that I got married at 19. I, the super talented, intelligent, creative, brilliant student who had big dreams and even bigger ideas to achieve all that. Some think that the guy was not good enough. Or his family was not as they thought they were. Or that my studies were left hanging in between.

Yes, it was unfair to me. Yes, time and again I told my mom to wait a bit longer but at the time she did not listen. Nobody did. Everyone was too drunk in what was the perfect dream that I was suppose to live to notice how unhappy and uncertain I was. People did not care about what I wanted or that I had managed to get in one of the top ten school’s in the world. Nobody gave a damn. Or simply cared.

All everyone wanted was me to get married and live a life that was never mine in the first place.

What I don’t get is why people have started caring about how my life is now and how it should have been. Why my parents think that it was an impulse decision to marry me off ? Even if they do, I do not care.

I have finally accepted the fact that I am married, that I have to do everything on my own now. I have to struggle even harder, push myself to do my best in everything, so that at the end of the day I can still see myself as the girl who has big dreams. I am moving on with my life, living a contented life and studying while being married.

What you, as my parents or friends are saying now, makes no difference to me. It only makes me doubt myself, feel pity for the decision you took. I am grateful to have the life that I do. I don’t want to live in the past or second guess your decisions.

Do not let your past stand in the way of your present. Sometimes we let our plans and dreams for the future ruin our present. Other times, its our past that stops us from living in 2015.

Yes, my life is not perfect. So is nobody else’s. We all have some good things and some bad in our lives. What matters is how we take that and what we do with it.

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Taking A Step Forward

One of the side effects of growing up is making decisions. Sometimes you have to put yourself in the front seat and let everybody else ride in the back. I have been riding in the back for quiet sometime now. And its simply not working out. I seem to hit every nook and cranny of life. If I don’t hit a pole, a boulder ends up hitting me.

I have tried and done what is best for everyone else but deep down, I know that if things keep on going as they are, I would be saying goodbye to Abdullah. Living in the 21st century, I am a very practical person and can see when things are clearly not working out. We are two very different people who know that there opinions don’t match on 80% of the things. We also know what the other person’s stance would be on a particular issue. And that is completely fine with us.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our parents, we both don’t see the reality of things and end up somewhere we don’t want to be. One thing leads to another and before you know it, there is a huge drama/mess/fiasco in the house which I simply do not want to deal with. Because its not my creation.

Making a decision is a very hard thing. You have no way of knowing whether it is the right one or not. But it has to be made. I am okay with taking this step. I would rather start my life, struggle and take responsibility right now, than do all this ten years later. Maybe the time has come for both of us to stop living under our parents protective roof.

That is scary. I am studying to be an accountant but when it comes to personal finances, I could not be worse at it. But I think I am ready. I am ready to figure out things on my own, to take my life and just be who I am. No pretenses, no assumptions, no duality. Just plain old me.

As much as I am scared to take this step, I am also super excited. I feel like I am going to start my life all over again. Or began a completely new chapter. I am excited to have that freedom of doing what I want, whenever I want without any lectures, any kind of pressure on me or any doubts.

Its going to be an adventure. An adventure that I am looking forward to a lot. Although, Abdullah and I know that we would most probably end up living like two frat guys instead of adults. I was just telling him how I am ready to live without adult supervision. He looked at me funny and pointed at himself. I laughed like a maniac for half an hour.

I don’t know about my heart but in my brain, I know that this is the right decision. I am simply ready to move out and take a step forward.

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