Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Of Donkeys

I love The National :)

NEW DELHI // Plans to remove all working donkeys from India’s capital in a bid to clean-up the streets ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games have left hundreds of families fearing for their livelihoods.

Across Old Delhi there are an estimated 2,500 donkeys and mules usually carrying bricks to construction sites or removing concrete rubble from demolished buildings. They are led by their owners or labourers employed for the day to tend to the animals.

“MCD officials surveyed the area recently and we have been asked to remove all donkeys and mules and clean up the stables because, they said, they don’t look good in a beautiful city,” said Saleem Mohammed, who keeps two donkeys in the Turkman Gate stables and is the son of 76-year-old Yusuf Mohammed, the union leader.

For Mohammad Nazar, who owns two donkeys and one mule, the eviction cannot work. The 50-year-old believes that as congestion in the old part of the city grows and roads and lanes becomes narrower, construction companies will come to rely more on the donkeys and mules.

“Eighty per cent of construction sites in Old Delhi are not adjacent to bigger roads,” he said. “Inside most of the narrow winding lanes and by-lanes even mini vans cannot enter to bring in the bricks [to a construction site] or take out the rubble. Donkeys and mules cannot be outsmarted by any other mode here.

“As the population is growing, roads and lanes are getting narrower. In this situation I think the utility of the donkeys and mules is in fact increasing in Old Delhi. You don’t need them in well-planned modern parts of the city where most construction sites are connected with wide roads. But you need our animals in Old Delhi, where congestion is higher.”

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Awkward Defines My Life :S

So I've been mia for while... Things were pretty "busy" at work. The other day, I was getting coffee and this guy walks up to stand next to me, "Gee, meray khyal main humara email pe raabta hua hai" (I think we've communicated via email before). I respond with a blank stare... "Aap pehlay kahan kaam karti theen?"(Where did you work before?). I told him I was in Abu Dhabi and in the US before that. "Acha? To aap ke pass green card ho ga?" (Oh, so you must be having the green card (residence visa for the US))... LOL!!!!! I mean, really, how desperate do you have to be?!

On Friday, I went to Roasters for lunch (packed with office people and aunties because the pious uncles had gone for namaz :P). Try the Mushroom chicken and Quesadilla... yummy! Once upon a time, when I was a fob, I used to ask for Quesadillas without cheese... but then my kind-hearted American friend took pity on me and explained that quesadilla was Spanish for "cheese tortilla" :P.

In other news, our cat gave birth to four more kittens! It's her third litter this year :P.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Busy Sunday

Baba has been with our family for over 25 years... He was my grandfather's batman and then moved in as chowkidar/comptroller. Last year, Baba retired from service, went for Umra and then joined the Tableegh with frequent trips to Rywand.

Baba sent his son Ajmer in his place and today, we went to visit him at his home since he'd just become a father for the first time. Baba, Ajmer and his four brothers all live together in a house in Landhi with their wives and children. They'd done a lot of ehtemam in honor of our visit and everything was clean and shiny. They entertained us in the best room (beautifully decorated with flowers and wall hangings) and introduced us to all the children (around 27 in all). I was surprised at how liberal they were (I'd expected segregation and covered heads) but all the women were dressed in their colorful outfits and wore lots of makeup and jewelry :). Ajmer's baby girl Ayman is gorgeous Mashalah with beautiful big black eyes and he dotes on her :)

Baba's wife spoke mainly Pushto but my mom understood most of it and translated for me. They served us a lavish lunch and kept refilling our plates. Finally, Ajmer's wife served us green tea with sliced lemons and sugar...

I came away highly impressed by their consideration and saleekha and feeling slightly ashamed of my not-s0-dhang-walay ways. I can't think of an English word for "dhang" or "saleekha". Any suggestions are welcome!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Week Goes By

So I'm going to pretend all is hunky dory in the country and put on my blinders... (and I've decided to not watch the news in an attempt to retain my sanity) but I hope and pray that the victims' families find peace.

Work was pretty slow this week... Btw, I'm confused about the whole "saying hello in the morning" deal. Am I, as the newest/youngest member of the firm obligated to go around and greet everyone with a "Good Morning/Salam"? Do I appear rude/stuck-up if I don't? I'm also the only girl so I guess I'm supposed to remain sitting when all the guys are going around doing the whole Eid Mubarak/3-way hug :P. It's pretty complicated and it's stressing me out :p.

I went to Saddar today after a really long time... traffic was awful and it took us an hour to find parking. Finally, my mom found a parking spot and we went off to do our work. When we returned an hour later, the car wasn't there.

Ammi: "I'm sure I parked it here"
Me: "Really? maybe you forgot where you'd parked it?" (When in doubt, I doubt my faculties rather than external circumstances)

Just then, we saw a police car towing our car and started running after it. The police car refused to stop, so we continued running (on the sidewalk of the crowded road) with our dupattas flying out behind us as the sun set in the horizon and the Maghrib azaan blared from the Avari mosque. After asking various passers-by, "Aaap ne koi police car dekhi hai? Us ke peechay aik white corolla tow ho rahi thi" (Have you seen a police car towing a white corolla?), we finally spotted our car, payed Rs. 500 and drove home. We promised mommy not to tell dad, otherwise, she'd never hear the end of it :).