The Greatest Planner of All…

March 13, 2012 was gorgeous day weather wise. Spring had sprung upon us Torontonians a lot earlier than we expected, not that we were complaining. I was at home that day reminiscing this day exactly a year ago, I was in India for my cousin’s wedding. Made a mental note to call and congratulate her for making it through the first year. I had an interview the next morning for which I was prepping for. I had been applying to this company for two years since I graduated and was ecstatic that I finally landed an interview. It was just a summer position, but I figured it’d get my foot in the door.

My aunt next door called and asked if I could drop my cousin off at University. I took the opportunity to take in some of the fresh air and give my Salams to the Sun. It’s just a five minute car ride each way so I really had no reason not to go. Little did I know that in that 10 minutes I was away, we’d receive news that would set me on an unexpected and unforgettable journey. As I walked into the house after parking the car, I heard my mom crying and she was calling my name. She was saying something but I couldn’t understand properly. I saw that my dad was on the phone and even he had tears in his eyes. It was only after the third time I properly heard what she said, “Mansoor mama passed away…” He is my mom’s elder brother, who was living in California. I was in shock, I kept on saying ‘What? How??’ He passed away in his sleep from a heart attack. His room mate went to wake him up for work and found his cold body with his left fist clenched. That night he was up until 3:00 AM talking with his room mates  then called home and spoke with his wife/mother before going to bed around 4:00 AM. So, he had passed away sometime around Fajr (right before sunrise). This news reached us around 5 PM, but in India it was 3:00 AM.

My uncle had diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure. He never went to the doctor in the 6 years he was in the states as he didn’t have insurance coverage. So his sugar/cholesterol/blood pressure was last checked before he left for the states in 2006. All his medicine he took was parceled from India. He had been taking the same dosage for 6 years, it’s actually a miracle that it didn’t affect him earlier. He had been complaining about pain in the left hand for about a month and just attributed it to his work strain. At night he’d take an aspirin and say it was better the next day. He completely ignored it and didn’t realize that the pain was indication of an oncoming heart attack.

Everyone back home insisted that my mom go to California for the janazah (funeral) as she was the only immediate family that was so close to him distance wise. We didn’t think it was possible for my mom to make it in time for the janazah as it is usually done within 24 hours of the TOD. My dad’s passport had expired too so no way my mom could go by herself as she has no prior experience travelling alone. By the end of that night, we had decided that there is no possibility of my mom going. In the meantime we talked to anyone and everyone we knew in California in order to arrange the funeral. Two of my mom’s first cousins living in Houston and Los Angeles, and they were making their way over to Vallejo, where my uncle was.

For majority of the 6 years, my uncle had worked at a gas station in Clearlake, California. It is a tourist spot in the mountains. He lived alone, worked 6 days a week 11 hours per day and his boss was heartless. It was a horrible and lonely place to work but he sucked it up for the sake of his family. The main reason he had come to America was to earn money to rebuild the 100 year old ancestral home he had inherited. In 2008 the first stage of the house was completed and there was a house warming party. I was there at the time and I had filmed and photographed the house and sent it to him so he can see the fruits of his labour. When I was in India in 2011, all the floors of the house was completed and now it was just waiting to be seen by my Uncle. During Ramadan in 2011, he finally got his green card. Now his plan was to wait another year, save up some money for his four daughters’ future and leave America. He had told everyone that he will be home for 2012 Ramadan. Mom and I had previously asked to visit him, but he told us not to come and instead he will visit us on his way to India. That never happened.

One of his major complaints living in Clearlake was that there was no Masjid to pray or at least go for Jummah. About a week prior to his death, he had moved from Clearlake to Vallejo. A friend had gotten him a less stressful job. He would be living with 3 other friends rather than alone. He had moved in on a Thursday and for the first time in 4 years he went for Jummah prayers that Friday. If only he had known that would be his last Jummah. It was almost as if he had moved to Vallejo just in time for passing. If he was still living in Clearwater, it would have been almost impossible for anyone to go there for the funeral. He had paid of all his debts, and had about $4000 in the bank, which is actually the amount needed for his funeral expenses. That money was sent to the family back home, while the community pitched in for the funeral. I’ve heard that you are buried at the exact same place from where the soil was taken to create you (unsure of the authenticity). Ever since he was a kid my uncle had wanted to come to America. Yet, it was almost as if his death was what brought him to America.

The next morning, I went for the Job interview. I have no idea how I did it. But it was as if a completely different person was in my place, not the girl who just lost her uncle the day before. Once I got home, various conversations had happened and it was decided that my mom is going for the funeral as it was planned for the next morning. When the paramedics came, they took the body to ensure it wasn’t suicide/homicide and determine the cause of death and they will only release it the next morning. Therefore, my mom had to get to California by the end of the day. However, I didn’t think it was safe sending my mom on her own so I offered to go in her place. We started looking for flight tickets, but there were no flights that went from Toronto and reached SFO by the end of the day. Then I thought of looking for flights from Buffalo and managed to find one at a really good price so both my mom and I can go. Told my parents about this ticket and how I can drive to Buffalo and fly from there. When I called back to book the flight, the agent said only one ticket was available and I ended up booking it for me. When I told my dad that I had booked my ticket for myself only, being the overprotective father he looked as if I had bought a one way ticket to Gitmo.

I quickly had lunch and starting packing. In the meantime, I have no idea what happened but my parents had asked an aunt and uncle to drop me off at the Buffalo airport. My aunt told my mom to also pack a pair of clothes and toiletries and maybe we can get a ticket for her at the airport. On the way to the airport, my dad somehow managed to get a ticket for my mom on the exact same route as mine. Which was a huge relief and in retrospect, I am so glad my mom made it as there was no way I could have managed it all on my own. A family friend had offered to host us while we were there. We have never seen them and they have never seen us, yet they were coming to pick us up at the airport. I spoke to the sister over the phone and told her I’ll call her once we land. The route was from Buffalo to Minnesota and then SFO. There was only a 30 min layover at Minnesota. It took us almost 30 minutes to go from one end of the airport to the other end where the flight for SFO was. We were literally running across the airport and made it in time only to find out the flight had been delayed by an hour. Once we landed in SFO, my phone battery was dying but I managed to send her a text saying that I am wearing beige top and hijab. For about 15 mins Mom and I walked around the arrival area trying to find someone we’ve never met while they drove around the airport looking for us. Luckily at one point my mom saw a women in an abaya and said she might be it. She looked at me and smiled as she noticed the beige top/hijab. We tried to get some shut eye that night to get up early to head over to Vallejo.

Vallejo was a small battered town with mostly African Americans. The masjid was a home that was falling apart and was soon to be rebuilt. It was raining, cold and gloomy, fitting for the occasion. We were the first ones there and we waited in the parking lot for the rest. My mom saw her cousins for the first time in over a decade and I was probably 5 when I last saw them. We sat in the women’s area as we waited for people to come and most importantly for the hospital to deliver my uncle’s body. Everyone back home wanted at least one last glimpse of my uncle before he was buried so we were arranging a live broadcast of the janaza via Skype. One by one, the families that had heard of the death or met my uncle before started coming in. Conversations with them helped give us a better idea of his life in California. He had been ill for a long time and everyone had told him to quit America and go back home. If only he had listened to them maybe we could have seen him at least once. Mom and I last saw him in 2002, and 10 years later here we are at his funeral.

While I was talking to my mom’s cousin, the ambulance had arrived with my uncle. Standing at the doorway of the women’s entrance I can see the stretcher being lowered from the ambulance. I was in utter shock that the man who used to be around 300 lbs had lost so much weight over the years that he was only as wide as the stretcher. Only his belly was protruding but he had lost weight everywhere else. The Imam of the masjid lit up incense and I saw him bring out the 3 white shrouds that will be used to wrap the body. The men got busy with washing the body and it was about an hour later I heard them say ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they carried my uncle in a coffin into the prayer area. The top half of the cover was open and his face was covered. My mom’s cousin uncovered the face so we can see. They told us not to touch him. The coroner was told not to make any cuts on the body, so they took a blood sample from his jugular vein in order to determine COD. There was still blood coming from that spot so we could see the cotton with blood stains near his neck. He was just 48 years old. I remember a picture of my uncle when he was 19 and he looked exactly like that. This was the fairest I’ve seen him as he is darkest in the family. If my mom was white as milk, he was dark as coal, people would wonder how these two could be siblings. He had a trimmed beard that outlined his face and it was just starting to gray. He looked so young, handsome and he was glowing. We could see a bit of his teeth which made it look like he was smiling. There was a sense of peaceful aura around him.

Once the janaza prayer was done, we all headed over to the graveyard in Livermore. The women stayed inside the car in the parking lot. But it was an open field nestled in between mountains with windmills. It was a gorgeous place that I couldn’t help but wish to be buried in such a graveyard. Through the fence I could see all that was taking place. It was pretty far and I was actually recording it with my camera to show back home. A plot had already been dug out for my uncle. I didn’t notice them lowering the body but I saw the men each throwing a handful of sand. Then they prayed and a truck filled in the remaining soil. A sense of relief came about us, or maybe our bodies were just tired from all that crying. He’s six feet under, can’t do anything about it now.

We went home and for the first time mom I spoke to my aunt, well we listened to her cry. That cry will stay with me till my last day. She was married to my uncle at 15 and now she was 35 with four daughters from 17-6 that she has to be the mother and father to. For the past 6 years, the highlight of her day was the phone call from her husband. My uncle had mostly worked abroad so at most she had probably lived about 6-7 years with him in their 20 year marriage. This is very common in my community, where the husband is often living abroad earning money at mediocre jobs while the wife stays back home and raises the kids. It’s an awful lifestyle that people need to put an end to! Also not Islamic at all!

Islamically, only 3 days are allotted for mourning. Death is part of life so no point in dwelling on it longer than needed, easier said than done. It’s the hardest for my aunt and to my grandma to some extent. The rest of us picked up where we left and moved on with our daily routines. It only seems like yesterday that I came home to my mom crying and yet it’s been a year already. I doubt it’s any easier today than it was a year ago for my aunt. For her, it will take longer to adjust or maybe she will never fully recuperate. I doubt she will re-marry, but the possibility is there. In the meantime she is supported by her siblings and my mom’s siblings.

Before going on a trip, we plan it to the finest details. How often does everything we plan happen exactly the way we want? There was almost no planning done on my part to go to California for my uncle’s funeral. Everything just fell into place. It was as if someone else was moving the pieces and it kind of had a domino effect. Can’t really explain it but I still cannot fully digest how everything happened. This is when I realized that we barely have any control over our lives. It is the almighty that is holding on to the steering wheel and we are just here for the ride.

 

Don’t use CAD Institute for Online AutoCad Classes

I am on a venting binge since this weekend (see Fido post). Actually no, I am just taking advantage of social media to fight back injustice in order to obtain what is rightfully owed to me. These days companies have learned how to promise a product that they don’t necessarily deliver. Or they trick you into paying more than you expected. Having worked since I was 15 I bloody well know the amount of effort and pain that goes into earning every single cent. All so that capitalistic heartless savages can swindle money from you right before your eyes.

So I started off by calling Fido and asking for a cheque that I should have received 2 years ago. I hated them while I was with and it was the happiest day of my life when I ended it. The fact that it’s been 2 years later, I’m not one of their customers and yet my mind is filled with hatred for them is completely their fault!

Acer dude was funny in a non-funny way. I started wondering how many people these days would actually pay $200 to repair their laptop. I feel sorry for these guys on the phone, they must know they sound idiotic based on people’s reactions.

Afterwards, I sent an e-mail to Second Cup explaining why they have lost me as a customer because of the lack of consistency and effort put into providing the absolute best drink (in my case it was the Caramel Corretto).

From Oct – Dec 2011 I took an online AutoCad course from CAD Institute. Upon completion I was suppose to receive a certificate in the mail. Three months later I didn’t get it, so I emailed the instructor and he told me that it’s been sent in regular mail (this is located in Kentucky, USA). It takes about a month for e-bay products from Hong Kong to reach me via regular mail. So please explain to me why I haven’t received it a month later?

I called the number on their site and explained the above. The guy kept on saying all certificates are sent 2 weeks after the completion of the course. Then he told me to e-mail the registrar. I said I already did that a month ago. His explanation was that the e-mail didn’t  go through and that’s why they haven’t responded to me … -__-… SERIOUSLY ?? It’s very rare but it does happen, we Canadians get furious as well.

I sent another e-mail to the registrar let see if they respond.

Many have suffered ‘The Wrath of Khan’ over the past three days. So seriously think twice before you cross my path. I can do a whole lot of damage with Twitter, Facebook and WordPress!

-Khan

2002 Gujarat Riots

This is in response to a tweet that started off with this:
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Siva’s response :
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Couldn’t fit my reply to Siva in 140 chars:

Every battle, war, riot is preceded by an event that triggers it. People do not go on killing spree without a reason. There is no denying that Godhra train burning was what initiated the riots of 2002. In Zahir’s review of Kai Po Che nowhere did I see him deny the occurrence of Godhra incident. If there are other places where Zahir and Co. has implied that Muslims did not burn that train in Godhra, please point it out.

The pilgrims on the train were innocent and in no way were they deserving of such a torturous end. Killing is forbidden in Islam and is considered an unforgivable sin. Only time it is allowed is for self defence and during wars. Those people who burned Sabarmati express may have been Muslims, however they weren’t following the teachings of Islam. This goes for any Muslim around the world who kills innocent people in the name of Jihad !

The riots killed almost 2000 people and displaced around 100 000 people, majority of which were Muslims. Houses, businesses, and religious places were burnt down in the name of retaliation and revenge. Tell me, did the killing of 2000 innocent lives even out the loss of ~60 people that died in Godhra? What’s more shameful is that is riot happened in the home state of Gandhi, he’s probably turning in his grave at the moment. ‘An eye for an eye makes the world blind!’ Not only is this happening in India , but all over the world.

The most recent shelling of the Gaza Strip in November 2012 started when Israel dropped a bomb killing a teenage boy that was playing football (Israel and its supporting media will conveniently forget to point out this incident) Gaza retaliated and in response they were showered by artillery that killed around 1400 (unsure of exact figure) by the end. Comparatively, around 100 Israelis were killed. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a question of whose lives are worth more. But just look at the numbers and that itself will highlight the injustice of such war fare. In the end, it is innocent voiceless people that are affected by the ego battle between few senseless men in power.

In a fair and just world the riots would not have happened. The only response to the Godhra incident should have been the prosecution of the culprits that were responsible for it. Wiki page shows people were convicted, but who is now going to be held responsible for the lives affected in the riots ?

I have no faith in any reports conducted by the Indian government. You show me the SIT report and I’ll show you the report by Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/news/2002/04/29/india-gujarat-officials-took-part-anti-muslim-violence , which by the way was written by a Hindu, Smita Narula. Please read this report: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india/gujarat.pdf (‘We have no orders to save you’). This report was written in April 2002, which I’m sure is more accurate of the events than the SIT, which was written 4 years after the riots.

Here is another reason why I have no faith in investigations done by the Indian government: http://kafila.org/2013/02/23/22-years-after-kunan-and-poshpora-rethinking-kashmir-abhijit-dutta/

I maybe a Muslim, but my heart goes out to all innocent lives that have been lost in these futile riots/ethnic cleansing/wars irrespective of race/religion/colour. Only God truly knows if the Gujarat riots were premeditated ethnic cleansing of the Muslims. It’s a sad reality that Hindu Muslim riots have become a daily occurrence in India since the partition. The only way that could be removed from the future of India is if people from our generation like you and me stopped dwelling on past events in an attempt to determine who was right and who was wrong.

People need to start identifying each other as Humans, not differentiating each other based on race/religion/colour/language.

Why I hate FIDO/ACER & love WIND/TD

The first phone that I had was Kyocera slider and it was prepaid. I didn’t have to waste hours on the phone fighting for money that they sneakily steal from me. I voluntarily brought this headache upon myself when I decided to get a phone from Fido (Sony Ericsson flip phone) on a two year agreement on Dec 31st 2008. It was a so called student plan with 100 daytime minutes, evenings and weekends free and unlimited text messages. All that just for $25 #Sarcasm.. oh and no caller ID or voicemail. Every call I received was unknown. I had to pay $10 to get those services. I sucked it up at for a few months and paid the extra 10. Also, 100 mins were never enough and had to pay extra almost every month!

With the non-existent income as a student I went broke from paying my phone bill for 2 years and got out of it as soon as the contract ended. Wind was having a Christmas special with a plan called ‘Holiday Miracle Plan’. It was $40/month and included: unlimited talk/text/data, international texts and calls across Canada and States, voicemail/caller ID/conference calls. I got a BB curve so BBM was also included. They had a tab system where I paid $150 up front and 10% of monthly bill goes towards the remaining $150. I am not on any contract, if I wanted to leave I just had to pay whatever remains on the tab. So technically I am paying $36 for the services and $4 toward the tab. Last July my BB crashed, I had to pay $30 to repair it. I got tired of BB so decided to get the S3. I paid the $90 remaining on the tab ( later sold it for $100) and paid $350 for the S3 with the remaining $300 on the tab.

When I first got switched to Wind on Dec 18, 2010 I called Fido to cancel my plan as soon as the contract ends on Dec. 31st. However, Fido needs 30 days notice so they won’t cancel it until Jan 17th. So I had to pay for the month of Jan and they will give back the money for the remaining days of Jan that I didn’t use Fido. I got my final bill on Feb 28th 2011 showing that they owe me $17.89. It’s two years since then and I still haven’t gotten a check from them! I called them in July 2011 and spoke to a dude named Adam and he told me a check will be on the way. It clearly wasn’t. I called today and gave an earful to someone poor girl named Ikral. She can see in the notes that apparently on March 25, 2011 they called to confirm my address. So they’ve confirmed my address in March, and I spoke with Adam in July yet WHY HAVE I STILL NOT RECEIVED IT TWO YEARS LATER???? Imagine if this was the other way around and I owed them $17.89, with interest two years later it would have become $2000 !

Ikral said the update to my account will be made 96 business hours and a cheque should be on the way. I am going to call them 2 weeks from today and see if they have sent it or not. I apologized to Ikral for blowing off on her as none of this is her fault. She understood and was sympathetic, also had no clue why I still haven’t received the money that is rightly owed to me.

Now onto Acer…got my laptop in Sept 2011. In Jan of 2012, laptop stopped working and didn’t turn on. Called tech support and some lonely Indian dude gave me a trick to get it started again. It worked. Last Saturday it happened again, the trick didn’t work and it’s been a week since it last turned on. Called Acer today and another dude told me I’m out of warranty so I’d have to pay $199 for repairs. My dad bought that laptop for $300. They are lunatics if they think I’m going to pay $200 for repairs. Seriously, companies like Fido, (actually all major Telecom companies in Canada: Bell, Rogers, Telus!) and gadget companies like Acer that charge ridiculous amount for repairs are soul less blood suckers!

Thankfully there is such a thing as ‘Good’ customer service and I have experienced it. I went to India from Feb-July 2011. It would be a huge waste if I to pay $40/month during those 5 months. I called Wind and they said I can put my plan on hold and only have to pay $30 to reactivate it once I get back. While I was in India I was charged $70 ($40monthly fee and $30 for reactivation) in March. I wasn’t going to called long distance from India so I just e-mailed them explaining I’m still in India so I shouldn’t be charged. They apologized and immediately reversed the charges.

I know friends who are in contract with Fido and was refused to put plan on hold when they were out of country for a long period of time.  Also, loyalty means nothing to these jerks so prepare to pay for services you aren’t even using!

Last year I had gone over my limit for TD credit card and was charged $20. I called and told them I didn’t know I had spent more than the limit. They understood and reversed the charge… actually this happened twice.

Companies like Fido and Acer need to learn from Wind and TD how to keep customers happy instead of plotting ways to screw their lives!