Sunday, August 30, 2009

And it's pouring...

Snug at home, I'm watching the rain and lightning from my window. Sounds like a waterfall outside. Thankfully, we've still got electricity. Stay safe people!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lazy me

These days I'm sleeping at 6:30 am (after sehri) and getting up around 1:30 pm (insert embarrassed smiley). My twelve year old sister gets ready for school at around 6:30 am and comes home exhausted at 2:30 pm, rests for an hour and then starts homework... bechari... :p

I'm glad I'm through with that phase of my life but I miss the routine, the assurance that I'd wake up at a certain time every morning, wear certain clothes, associate with the same people and repeat the cycle the following day.

I think I'm becoming increasingly lazy in Karachi. Just received the reading list for the core course and I'm slightly overwhelmed... so not ready for grad school :S

Sunday, August 23, 2009

E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One)

I got a chance to visit the State Department in DC for one of my policy task forces and found this interesting. Notice that the American (bald) eagle is holding a branch in one talon and arrows in the other. In times of peace, the eagle's face is turned towards the branch and in times of war, its face is turned towards the arrows.

Another Cat Post...

The kittens are at their cutest right now :) They're frisky and full of energy while mommy (cat) dearest is perpetually exhausted... They've recently started eating solids (boiled chicken liver purchased by moi from Pervaiz Chicken Center in Khadda Market).

Sometimes, I feel guilty spending Rs. 100/day on the cat when the streets are full of human beggars :S. We took them to the vet for shots and the other cats (pedigree Persians and Siamese) looked down their nose at our old pussy cat adopted off the street :p.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


And so, Ramadan 2009 begins today! I feel like it came upon us really suddenly this year... Hopefully, we'll settle into the routine pretty quickly.

When I was a kid, Ramadan was a huge deal. My mom would wake me an hour before Fajr (around 4:30 am), force-feed me parathas and make me drink 6 glasses of water so I wouldn't become dehydrated. School would start early and end early too so students could go home and sleep until Iftar. My brother and I would watch Ramadan programs on tv while our mom cooked yummy iftar food (pakoras, samosas and dahi baray oh my!). My dad would make fruit chaat with each piece of fruit perfectly sliced, diced and cubed. We'd send food to our neighbors in a platter covered with an embroidered napkin and they'd send us food in return.

I never really "felt" Ramadan in college... It's no fun waking up for a solitary sehri when you've barely slept 4 hours all night :( but my friends were wonderfully supportive and we'd have dinner together. Usually, I'd grab a bearclaw pastry from Panera on my way back from class and eat in my room while watching Full House on youtube before starting a paper or finishing homework :p.

Anyway, these days I'm unemployed and basically home all day... it actually feels good!

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm hip... no really :p

I've been caught up in Karachi's frenetic social scene. I attended a couple of weddings, one of which had Zardari in attendance :P. When the President decides to attend a wedding, they cordon off entire sections of the city while civilians are forced to spend an extra hour or so taking detours or waiting for the President's entourage to pass...

Also tried out two new eateries :). Cafe Koel (Koel = quail) is located in the same lane as Cafe Flo (26th street) and has outdoor seating as well as an air-conditioned restaurant-style seating area. I went on a Saturday morning with my friends and the place was packed with aunties wearing crisp kurtas in various pastel shades and hair blow-dried to perfection. It's not too pricey and I really liked their mint lemonade (shikanjabeen) and kulcha sandwiches.

Cafe Aylanto is located in Zamzama and it's been around for a while, but back when I was an (impecunious) student, I didn't visit snooty gourmet places with my friends :p. Most of the main entrees were priced at Rs. 600 and above (yikes!) but Karachi's "hip" crowd was there in full force... Right opposite our table was a couple who was "getting to know" one another. The guy was dressed in a purple and pink striped shirt and the girl was wearing a slinky black dress... Ahem, last time I checked, exposed calves and bosoms were a big no no in Pakistan?

The guy asked the girl if she was "into" Aamir Khan which for some obscure reason struck me as funny and I had a fit of giggles :p. We had white chocolate cheesecake for dessert and it made me really happy :D

Ramadan Mubarak!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Of Mehendis and Shaadis

I've been busy attending friends' mehendis and shaadis in Karachi. The arrangements are more lavish and creative every time. Yesterday's mehendi theme was bright pink and baby blue (it used to be green, orange and yellow eons ago but I guess times are a'changing!). The girls from bride's side were wearing peshwazs (long flowing frocks with skinny trousers underneath) and the girls from the groom's side were in ghagras (long flowing skirts with heavily worked blouses). The guys on both sides wore kurta shalwars...

The invitation said 9:30 pm so my friend and I arrived around 10:30 pm, thinking we'd be fashionably late. Alas, NO ONE was there except for the bride's siblings and immediate family... so we sat around and listened to bollywood music playing in the background. They played this song

at least 5 times in the space of an hour. For anyone who's watched the movie, this song is played when the girl (Zubaida) is being forced to marry someone against her will and tries to commit suicide by shooting herself in the head with her dad's gun :p Now, why would you play that at anyone's wedding?!

At long last, the groom arrived at 11:30 pm singing and dancing with his friends... It was funny though, because he had to stop and pose at multiple intervals for the video and video guys made him repeat the moves a couple of times :)

The bride arrived at midnight in a doli (a wooden box/carriage decorated with flowers carried by the bride's brothers and cousins). The groom was polite enough to come down from the stage and receive her (some grooms are lazy, and remain sitting, waiting for the bride to come to them :p). After that, they had a couple of dance performances but the diyas kept blowing out because of the wind so they had to do without. At that point, I was exhausted and my hair was getting frizzy thanks to the humidity, so I went home, had a sandwich and went to bed :)

Happy Anniversary!

Ammi and Abbu celebrated their twenty-fourth wedding anniversary last week. Next year inshallah will be the big 25 but we decided to make this one special too since the whole family was finally together.

My mom met my dad for the first time on their wedding day. Luckily, my dad was a good guy and it turned out ok :) He said "hi" to her when they finally got to sit together but she didn't reply, being the nice, demure Pakistani bride of the eighties, even though they both came from "liberal" family backgrounds :p

My brother and I would save up each year and buy a gift for our parents. We'd plan ahead and get our grandparents to take us shopping because we wanted it to be a surprise and neither of us was old enough to drive. I'd make a card, get flowers and bake/buy a cake and we'd usually go out for an (extended) family dinner. Now, my sister makes the card and I end up paying since I'm technically "grown-up" :p

And this is their song... cheesy, yes, but we're like that :)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Applying for a UK Student Visa...

... is no easy task; especially, when you happen to have a Pakistani passport... After repeatedly calling 0900101411, I finally got an appointment to make my application and arrived at the Visa Application Center bright and early (8:30 am) for my 9:15 am appointment.

I went inside while my mom waited in the car. At the reception, they checked my documents and informed me that I needed an A4 size copy of my National ID card so I walked back out to get some money from my mom for the photocopy (I'd left my purse at home, independent woman that I am :p). She only had a 1000 rupee note so we asked a lady seated in the waiting area for change. I went back inside, obtained my token number (22) and met with a visa representative.

After looking through my documents, he informed me that I needed original copies of my O and A'Level certificates! Apparently a valid BSE degree is not proof enough... He said, he'd hold my place for an hour. So, I went back out again and asked my mom to drive me back home so I could find my O and A'Level certificates and rush back. After a (well-deserved) lecture in the car about being grown-up and responsible, my mom got me home and I rummaged around frantically searching for my certificates (from 7 and 5 years ago). Luckily, I found them in a file and my mom drove me back in record time so I could turn in my application just in time...

Sometimes, I feel like I'm still the 5 year old little girl being scolded by my mom for forgetting my lunch box at home... *sigh*