2015 and behind …

This year, with every bad instance, there has been an equal and at times even greater good one. Sometimes, it’s the bad that directly leads to the good.

Highlights:

Those who know me know about my periodic vacations. However, they don’t know about the amazing people that make those getaways worthwhile. I can never tell my kids to not to talk to strangers online as that would make me a hypocrite. The amazing people I have met (all Muzzies) through social media made my year. In summary, I met 11 of my internet friends of which 5 of them were first time ever. First year, I have had ‘tweet-ups’ in Canada, USA and UK. Thankfully, all of them were more interesting in person than online and none of them were weirdos.

Gained 3 new life skills,  one will help me get out of dire circumstances … actually the sole purpose of all 3 is to get me out of dire circumstances. I shall hone these skills in 2016 and hopefully apply them.

Progress in every which way. Although I often feel like I’m stuck in a rut and seem to be in the same place in life, when I look back I realize that that I had accomplished quite a bit and took drastic steps for change. I never gave up, remained positive and trudged through the worst of times.

Not so fuzzy moments:

The changes that were forced upon me by the universe. They came out of nowhere and knocked the wind out of me. As per Le Chatelier’s principle, every change has a way of reaching equilibrium, which then transforms into the new norm.

When you reach a point you can’t ignore something anymore and you’re just fed up so you’re like, that’s it I’ve had enough of this shit. It’s scary yet liberating.

Closures:

Closed a couple of chapters this year, said my Allhamdullilahs and then kept walking forward.

2015 rocked… it really did. At the same time I’m glad it’s over, because the past is behind and nothing but good to look forward to.

Even the last hour of 2015 was a mix of emotions, but two of my favourite people on earth came to my rescue showering me with blessings and pyaar and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better ending :’) !

Sabr, gained a bit of this in the past year however I still need bucket loads of it.

Shukr, always always grateful for everything and I know I can never be grateful enough for all that I’m blessed with.

Salaam, I came in peace and l leave in peace. Reminds me of a Punjabi saying found on the back of Pakistani trucks:

‘Khair nal aa, khair nal ja…’

 

 

List of WORST matrimonial profile pictures IMHO

1. Passport picture (need I explain?!)

2. Pouting Selfies

– I hate selfies (I also hate that I’ve been coerced into the selfie revolution), I want to be reborn into an era in which selfies did not exist
– I hate duck faced selfies
– The absolute abomination is Men posting duck faced selfies on a site in which he’s seeking a spouse !!

3. Washroom mirror selfies

4. Washroom mirror selfies where the urinal is visible  … -_- !!!!!!!!!!!

5. Now here’s the one that has traumatized me the most, I need to explicitly explain. Bear with me.

Parents dress up their kids solely for the purpose of using those pictures to embarrass them in the future. Fine, that’s acceptable as per current social norms.

Desi parents have this odd habit of cross dressing their children: earrings, make up and frocks for boys, boy cut and shorts sans shirt for girls.

One such parent decided to take a picture of their (6-8 month old) boy with a pink flower on his left ear. Now years later, as the boy became an adult into his 20’s, he recreated this picture by sticking a pink flower on his left year and pouting his lips as he blew a kiss to the camera. His profile picture was a collage of these two images, one his parents took and the one he imitated.

In all fairness, he must have thought this was adorable and women may like his playfulness. However, in my case it had me running in the opposite direction.

Muslim Men of 2015, I request you with utmost respect to revive your manhood. Please and thanks.

Rant Over.

ridha & sukoon

Ustad Nouman Ali Khan on finding inner peace:

Video

Praying for an answered Du’aa

I just realized something.

My cousin and her husband had really wanted a baby so that was the main du’aa they asked me to make for them when I was going for umrah in March. I got a Qur’an as hadiya for their du’aa at the Haram Shareef.

About 2 weeks after I returned from Umrah my cousin found out she was pregnant. Allhamdulillah, she gave birth to a healthy child two nights ago.

I just realized that she didn’t get pregnant because of the du’aa I made for her. She was already pregnant even before I left for Umrah.

What you’re meant receive in this world; be it in the form of a blessing or a calamity that’s already written. The objective of making du’aa is to reaffirm your faith and strengthen your relationship with the Rabb. It is absolute submission that you have no control and it is He who determines what you shall endure in this world. If that doesn’t teach you humility …

Dhandhan Calling

If my childhood memories don’t fail me, London is the first city I said I wanted to go to. Actually it was Dhandhan as I couldn’t say the ‘la’ when I was 3. I distinctly remember watching my mom wrap the white cotton chador, which is a surefire indication she’s heading out somewhere. At the time I was a clingy toddler and I asked her where she was going. She sarcastically replied, I’m going to London. Now, I’m a 3 year old that believes everything her mother says and I thought it was some place nearby so I’d say, ‘Naanum varen dhandhanuku’ – I want to come to London too. She never took me with her. There was always a relative that accompanied her and I had completely forgotten who she was until last year.

I was at my uncle’s place in India last October, the same house where this memory took place. There were a few relatives in the house. Actually, we’re pretty much related to all the people living on our street so they’re always in and out visiting my grandmother. One lady sitting next to me was chatting with me and she asked,

‘Do you remember when you used to tell your mom you want to go to Dhandhan?’

‘YES, yes I do. Are you the one who went with my mom? Where did you guys go?’

‘I’m the one, we would go to your grand uncle’s house so your mom can talk to your dad over the phone.’

This was the early 90s and phones still weren’t common in our small town. My mom and dad (living in Singapore/Canada) sent letters to each other for  about 8 years into their marriage. The only phone was at my grandma’s elder brother’s house, which was a two hour bus ride away at the time due to awful roads and not so great buses. Fast forward two decades later and here I am chatting via whatsapp with my mom’s relatives back home.

I realized the other day that life had come a full circle, as it always does. Back in Ramadan I asked my mom if I can go on a mini Euro trip in October. Her immediate reply was,

‘TAKE ME WITH YOU! Take me to London!’

So here I am, on my way to Dhandhan with my mother :).

InshaAllaah, see you all on the other side of the pond.

#PrayForGaza

A friend on FB posted a status (re: Palestine) asking why

‘Muslims unrelated to this issue are jumping up and down?’ … 
‘Why people are partial to one crisis and show no care for other injustice happening in the world such as Boko Haram Girls, Syria, ISIS…which makes it hypocritical to selectively care for humanity’

Lastly, they didn’t see the point of everyone posting #PrayforGaza statuses :

Here was my response.

1) You don’t have to be a Palestinian, a Muslim, or related to those lives lost innocently to speak up on this issue, which is evident from all the Non Muslims that have spoken out : Dr. Norman Finkelstein (a Jew who has lost family in the Holocaust), Channel 4s Jon Snow, CNN reporter Diana Magnay, and so many celebrities that have got the guts to speak up and not delete their support after being attacked by zionists: Selena Gomez, Crisitano Ronaldo, Coldplay, Mark Ruffalo and many more.

2) You probably never noticed but just as the Muslims are focused on Palestine this Ramadan by protesting, praying, fundraising. Last Ramadan’s focus was Syria/Egypt as that was major crisis at the time. Yes they have taken a backseat as social media has blown up with live feed of what’s happening in Gaza. This is the third attack since Obama came into power, 2008/2009, 2012 and now 2014. For the first time ever we aren’t relying on biased media to know what’s happening. We are seeing it as it happens. And if after seeing all those videos/pictures of the inhumane treatment of Palestinians, (who btw not ALL are Muslims, there are also Christian minorities) and the only question you and others have to ask is ‘Why are you not caring about other injustice around the world?’… Then is there any surprise how little humanity remains in the world?’

3) Israelis, mainly Zionists (as there are many Israelis against the siege of Gaza; eg. Ilan Pappe) have made it clear of their hatred of Palestinians. I’m sure a simple Google search will show images of kids signing missiles ‘With Love from Palestine’, soldiers posting smiling pictures with mutilated kids,  an Israeli father telling his kid to beat up a Palestinian kid, slogans such as ‘Death to Arabs’, Israeli officials stating ‘turn Gaza into a parking lot’, ‘rape, kill and murder Palestinian women so they don’t raise any militants’ and so on. They want to wipe out Palestine from the world and they have been successfully doing so for the past 60 years.

As for Palestinians all they want is the right to live like a human just like you and me and everyone else that has commented on this status. Yet, they’ve have been treated worse than criminals for their only crime being a Palestinian.

All those that are speaking up on this conflict, they are never in support of Hamas or the attacks on Israelis, they are speaking up on behalf of those that are voiceless and have been completely ignored by the international community for decades now.

UN, Amnesty International, WHO, and other humanitarian organizations have pointed out all the international laws Israel has broken, all the war crimes it has committed, yet how has Israel NEVER been questioned for its infractions? I’ll give you examples from the current war itself. When the three Israeli teens were killed (which was NOT by Hamas) a Palestinian teen Mohammed Khedair was burned alive in vengeance crime. Those who committed this was caught, how were they persecuted? No one knows. Not only that, his American cousin Tariq Khedair who did absolutely NOTHING was arrested, beaten, denied health care and no charges have been layed on him till date. These are two amongst thousands that have been unfairly attacked in West Bank/Gaza. Here’s a thorough article debunking Israel’s justification for this war:
http://m.thenation.com/article/180783-five-israeli-talking-points-gaza-debunked

Also I’m ever so baffled at what part of ‘Illegal’ the world doesn’t get about THE ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS !!

4) Why is it only when people speak up for Palestinians people come and ask ‘Why don’t you care about other humanity?’. When there was outcry for Egypt and Syria, no one came and asked ‘Why aren’t you talking about the inhumane treatment of Palestinians?’ What makes one injustice greater than another? As others have pointed out it is human nature to care for one cause more than another. Just because I speak out for Palestinians doesn’t mean I am okay with the injustice being done in CAR, by ISIS, or what’s been happening in Syria/Egypt. Also, not speaking for a specific cause in order not be partial is like saying, ‘I’m going to care about NOTHING because caring about SOMETHING makes me seem hypocritical.’

5) South African Apartheid [1948 – 1991 : 43 years]
Sri Lankan Civil War [1983 – 2009 : 25 years]
Holocaust [ 1941 – 1945 : 4 years]

I’m pointing out the duration of the each of the events above NOT the scale of human lives lost/affected. It basically took that many years for the international community to wake up and realize what’s happening is WRONG and they did SOMETHING about it! Actually, to be precise South Africans fought for their own freedom and so did the Sri Lankans.. Only for the Holocaust was there a war to end it.

The duration of Israel’s overtaking of the pre-existing country Palestine starting from the massacre of Palestinians in 1948 is currently unknown as its ongoing for 66 years now.

If YOUR people and country has been occupied, sieged, massacred for 66 years while the world watches and does diddley squat ..What would you do??

Pray.

Yes, we have no other way to help the Palestinians and THIS is why you’re seeing 65 #PrayForGaza statuses every five minutes on your TL.

I apologize for any historical inaccuracies as I clearly don’t know everything that is to know about all the conflicts that happen around the world.

Last FIFA, Last Taraweeh, Lost Ramadan…

A family friend was watching today’s football match Brazil vs. Chile whilst chatting with his elder brother in Singapore via text messages. They had their own commentary going back and forth across the Pacific from Singapore to Toronto. After a while the replies from Singapore stopped. The brother in Toronto presumed he had gone to bed as it was late there and he would soon have to wake up for sehri for the first fast of this year. He never woke up. Passed away in his sleep. Came so close to this blessed month yet it just wasn’t in his taqdeer to live through it.

إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ‎

For those who have been given the chance to experience another Ramadan, make it your best one yet. This is a reminder to myself as well.

Ramadan Mubarak.

Here’s Why…

This is one of the last passages from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran:

But you do not see, nor do you hear, and it is well.
The veil that clouds your eyes shall be lifted by the hands that wove it,
And the clay that fills your ears shall be pierced by those fingers that kneaded it.
And you shall see
And you shall hear.
Yet you shall not deplore having known blindness, nor regret having been deaf.
For in that day you shall know the hidden purposes in all things,
And you shall bless darkness as you would bless light.

***************************

That is the answer to all our ‘Whys’

Moments of 2013 – Part 1

The year 2013 did not start off well, which is probably the main reason why it has been the best year of my life so far.

After a tearful talk with my dad in the first few days of January I made the resolution that 2013 will be all about me, only me! Selfish, yes.. But I felt I needed it to recover my beaten soul. Having always been an adventurer I wanted to explore the world, meet new people and learn about my family’s heritage. Travelling gave me all those opportunities and it proved to be the respite I needed to revive my soul. Before you jump the gun, this post isn’t going to be about my travel escapades. I’m certain my IG will give a good picture of what I did(and ate) during my trip around the world. However, I wanted to write about the moments in the past year that couldn’t be posted on Instagram. The moments I will take with me as the souvenirs of 2013.

For some reason I had quite a lot of encounters with blind people this year. There were two blind fathers who left a lasting imprint on my heart. Considering I spend a lot of time commuting, most if not all of my stories are of people I bump into on the bus, subway or streetcars. One day after work I ran into the bus to catch a father and daughter, around 4 years old, in the middle of a serious conversation. Based on his walking stick and his demeanour I deduced the father was blind. The daughter looked guilty but seemed unsure what her fault was. They had been at a park earlier and when the father called out her name she didn’t respond right away. After he eventually found her, he had scolded her and now he was explaining why he got upset. ‘I didn’t know where you were and I got worried, you have to respond to me whenever I call you or else I’d think I lost you.’ She immediately understood and wrapped her arms around her dad’s neck, kissed him and said sorry. Watching this scene unfold before me I couldn’t help the tears rolling down my cheeks. The father then changed the subject about some spongebob game.

Any loving father in today’s world would be naturally worried about the safety of his daughter(s). My dad is a born worrier and having four daughters doesn’t help either. I often tell him he shouldn’t worry too much and let Allah take care of the things he has no control over. But to be blind and not see your daughter to ensure she is safe takes worrying to a whole another level. I can imagine his heart lurching every time he calls his daughters name and doesn’t hear a response. My heart went out to him and I really hope the beauty of their relationship makes him forget that he cannot witness the beauty of this world.

I have a collection of strangers who’ve I’ve met in my journeys that have told me their life story. I was 16 when I sat across an Afghani father with his 5 year old daughter on the subway one day. He was in an army like uniform, I wondered if he was an officer of some kind but never found out. He himself initiated a conversation as he said seeing women in a hijab makes him happy. Apparently his wife had left him for asking her to wear the hijab. He also took on the responsibility of raising their daughter. This was the first time a complete stranger started telling me about their life on the subway, so I just listened and I honestly didn’t know what to say to help him feel better.

Then there was a time I sneezed on the streetcar and just as I was saying ‘Allhamdullilah’ (Praise be to God) the man next to me said, ‘YarhakumAllah'(May God have mercy on you). By the end of that ride, he told me the story of how reverted from David, a Jamaican Catholic into Dawood, a practicing Muslim.

In 2011 I went on my first ever solo flight journey. On the flight from Toronto to Brussels I sat next to a Punjabi woman who told me her story about how she was returning to India within just 5 days of living with her husband and in-laws. She couldn’t bare the mental and verbal abuse and luckily she was one of the few that were brave enough to get up and leave. They had been married a year prior and even while communicating long distance he was suspicious and treated her horribly. She had come to Canada hoping it may change, it didn’t, her in laws of course supported her husband. It was the guy’s aunt and uncle who had dropped her off at the airport. She hadn’t spoken to her family back home so they didn’t even know she was coming back. I’ve heard of these stories before but to hear it directly from the person who’s affected was an eye opener for me. She was calm and composed. Like someone who had come to terms with the cards life had played for them. I knew if I was in her place I would have been bubbling with emotions! After we landed at Brussels, I made her get a calling card and call her family back home. I watched her as she spoke to her brother, again no show of emotions as is if she had become numb. Before we parted we exchanged email addresses. I emailed here as soon as I landed but she only replied a couple of months later saying she had made a mistake and should have never left Canada. I asked for more details but haven’t heard from her since. I hope she’s alright now. The last thing this world needs is another name added to the list of women who isn’t given their due rights as a human.

Now the second blind father I came across this year told me all the pertinent details about his life within the 5 minutes, yes just the 5 minutes we stood at the bus shelter. I was waiting for the streetcar when this man stumbled off the curb at the intersection. I asked him where he needs to go and he said he was looking to take the streetcars towards the subway station. I told him he’s at the stop and I’ll let him know when the streetcar is here. Then he started talking,

‘I think I must be giving off some nervous vibe, as I asked four different people to help me on the way here but no one did. I’m moving from the west to the east end, yeah that’s why I’m nervous. I’m living with my brother now but he wants me out. My 19 year old daughter is also looking for a place to stay so she said she’ll move in with me. But her mother doesn’t like it, she tells her ‘don’t move in with your father he’ll treat you like a slave’ but I’m glad my daughters going to live with me.’

He said all that in one go, with no show of emotions on his face. He didn’t look sad, he wasn’t upset, he just accepted all that life threw at him. What amazed me in all of this was his inability to see the faults in other people. I’m sure people he asked for help just ignored him or had their headphones on so they didn’t hear him as they passed by. But even then, he put the blame on himself for humanity’s lack of empathy. This just blew me away, we are all pointing fingers at each other and blaming the people in our lives for our own shortcomings. Yet, here was a man who can’t blame anyone for being blind, so he blames himself for being an inconvenience to the people around him. I guess when you don’t have sight, you also don’t see the flaws in humans.

Every single person that come into our life has a purpose, even these random encounters with strangers. I learn something about life from every one of them. I only pray and hope that my life continues to be enriched by such incidents.

Brits & Beardos make the Best Barista

From May 3-12 Starbucks was having a promo for half off frappes from 3-5PM , supposedly the ‘Happy Hour’. Technically it should be hourS since it was two hours… Anyway, normally the tall frappes cost $4.15 which is actually enough to get you a coffee, donut and a bagel from Tim Hortons. Last year I used to go to Starbucks at lunch with co-workers about 3 times a week and recklessly wasted money on lattes and frappes. This year I’ve realized that this is a luxury I can only afford to have on rare occasions.

Last month I bought a Groupon for Starbucks, $10 gift card for $5. This meant I could get  two frappes for the price of one. Yes I am a bargain hunter, AKA Brown! I had bought one frappe with the gift card and had $5.85 left over just in time for this promo, which meant I could get more than 2 frappes for the price of one.

On the first day of the promo, one of my co workers and I got to Starbucks by 2:55. There were others also there for the frappes, we all had to wait until 3 exactly so the registers will be ready to take our orders. 

The girl that took our orders didn’t even make eye contact, she was grim and when asking our name she ignored me when I spelled it for her and chicken scratched it onto the cup. Same thing happened to my co-worker. The person who made our drinks had trouble reading our names but we realized it was ours. As we were stepping out my co-worker heard the girl who took our order say, ‘It’s not my fault if they have weird names’ … which is appalling to say the least. Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world, so chances are almost every other person walking in would have ‘weird names’. It was crowded, we had to get back to work so we didn’t bother making a scene.

I went to that same location 5 times during the promo and had the same girl serve us twice more. She wasn’t any better and the one time she made the drink my co-worker’s wasn’t mixed properly and all the syrup was at the bottom.

There is an upside to everything and if it wasn’t for this girl’s awful customer service we wouldn’t have noticed the two people that did provide us exceptional service. On the third day the girl who took our order was a Brit and her name was PIPPA (I kid you not, that’s what was written on her name tag . She asked for the spelling of our names and wrote it correctly on the cup. On top of that her British accent made me feel like I was a lady being served in Downton Abbey. Wait, it gets better. The dude that was making our drinks is one of the happiest star bucks employee I’ve ever seen. He’s renown for his epic beard that at one point his name tag was, ‘Mr.Beard’ that’s how awesome it was.

In conclusion, I won’t be returning to Starbucks anytime in the near future or probably not until this promo rolls around again. Even if it does I may go to another location, but in general Starbucks servers are notorious for being stuck up. Also, I came to the realization that Timmy’s Ice Cap tastes so much better than the frappes and for a lot less cost! So I feel like it’s my Canadian duty to resume my utmost loyalty towards Tim Hortons 🙂 

A word of advice to Starbucks: Either train your employees to not be culturally insensitive or just stop asking people for their names. Tim Hortons and McDonalds get a whole lot more traffic than you and you don’t see them asking people for their names to butcher. 

P.S. If you are going to ask ‘How many Palestinians have I killed by having a Starbucks drink..’ I will in return ask ‘How many Bangladeshi’s have you killed by shopping at Wal Mart…’

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