Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Counting My Blessings 2011

Alhamdulilah, this year has been a good one and I have much to be thankful for. So, thank you Allah Mian for blessing me with good health, a supportive family and a secure relationship.

Highlights of the year:
- Trip to Europe... a dream come true :)
- Meeting A after almost 2 years :)
- Solo trip to Dubai in June - girly time with Il and M :)
- Turning 25

Next year, hoping to give back more, maybe take up teaching/counseling and become a more generous/less selfish person.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in Karachi

was pretty boring this year... A lot of people were at Imran Khan's rally and those who weren't were watching him on tv. I went to Forum and Park Towers with little SIL who's visiting from Lahore. It turned out to be a fun trip... parking was easy to find and it wasn't too crowded despite being a Sunday.

Weather's gotten cold!! I have to admit, I don't like coming to work these days... All I wanna do is snuggle back into bed and read novels and maybe relive my Enid Blyton days when "The Five" went on picnics and had adventures :) Methinks it's time for a career switch...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gulab Jamun

This blogger describes my feelings perfectly: http://www.indianfoodforever.com/desserts/gulab-jamun.html

How do you describe the sensation when something just melts in your mouth and while it travels down your oesophagus, it leaves a feeling of such warmth and coziness... as if you are the most special person in the world?

How do write or even portray that soft fluffiness of the jamuns oozing with that delicious sweetness? As one of my Princeton friend's once said: "It's like a sugar explosion!!"

Back in college, I used to order these online: http://www.amazon.com/Haldirams-Classic-Indian-Gulab-Jamun/dp/B004XTCLU6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1324466178&sr=8-5

I'd anxiously track my order until the big day arrived. I'd take out a single gulab jamun and put it in a bowl, top it with lots of syrup and microwave it. Then I'd savor the smell and finally take a bite and go to heaven :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why I Like Germans


Everyone in office received a Season's Greetings card from our German ex-boss and his wife; handwritten and personalized. My envelope had a Christmas cookie stamp on it :)

I've pinned the card to my cubicle wall and it brings a smile to my face every time I look at it... I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy inside *happy sigh*

Let it Snow!

OMG! Coolest Google trick! Type "Let it Snow" into the Google space, hit Enter and see what happens :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December

It's wedding season again and harried moms are to be found in shopping centers and at the darzi ki dukaan (tailor shop) frantically shopping and completing outfits for their kids' shaadis.

It's finally become chilly in Karachi and I can go to bed without turning on the fan or ac (Alhamdulilah!). On the streets, you'll see the occasional uncle in an argyle sweater and muffler and an aunty swathed in her winter shawl :p My Lahori friends find it funny while our German boss merely thinks it's "fresh"! Meanwhile, in our temperature-controlled office building, you can't really tell if it's warm or freezing outside... :"(

Right now, I feel like having a mug of hot chocolate from Bent Spoon and a warm, bearclaw pastry from Panera... *sigh*. I also wouldn't mind scurrying home and getting back into bed with an Austen-type novel :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Resentment

Since our house-keeper/cook left, I've taken on most of the household chores... cooking, ironing, cleaning, grocery shopping and the dinner dishes as well! Mr. F finds it highly amusing and when I ask him to help, he replies, "That's your job" :-O

Throw in a sleepless night and backache to boot and Gaia's a raging monster in the morning. Mr. F returns from his morning walk and greets me with a peck on the cheek, "Good morning Princess :)!"

Gaia: grunt/sour face

Then, just as we're about to head out, Mr. F says, "Oh and can you take X to a good doctor in the evening? I'll be home late"

Just because I get off at around 6:30 and Mr. F likes to stay back at work until 8:30/9, he thinks I have all the time in the world to rest and relax and should therefore pick up after him!

Men!!!!!! Ugh...!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

At Gina's

Husband (earlier that day calls to say): "I'm at Barasti with Awesome (friend). Will pick you up for dinner from the Mall at 7:30" (Gaia is spending the day at the Mall)

Around 7:45 pm, Mr. F, Gaia and Awesome are walking past Gina's at the Mall.

Husband (beaming): "You know, we saw quite a few of these on the girls at Barasti!"

Gaia (also beaming): "Great, then you can buy me a pair too!"

Gaia, Husband and Awesome walk into store... Gaia likes this one:


Sales lady finds the right size and Gaia practices walking around the store. Awesome suggests getting matching clutch.

We walk to the counter to pay.

Sales lady (beaming), "That will be 10,000 AED"

Mr. F (also beaming), "We'll come back. Thank you!"

:'(



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Flatulence

Just like cramps, hiccups and varicose veins, one of the many annoying bodily functions that you can't control is flatulence... Your tummy's full of gas and making weird noises. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable, specially in public :-P

A flatulist is a professional farter whose routine consists solely or primarily of farting in a creative, musical, or amusing manner. Who knew?!

DUBAI!!!

Thanks to my wonderful husband, I had the most amazing weekend :)

Just like the movies, I flew from Karachi to Dubai and met Mr. F at the Terminal 3. The weather in Dubai was gorgeous! We went to the beach and went mall-hopping. We saw Dirty Picture at Dubai Mall (I didn't pick the movie!). Vidya Balan's acting was really good but some of the the scenes were pretty vulgar... don't watch Dirty Picture with your mom or dad :p

Also ate at a really yummy Mexican restaurant (had proper burritos after 3 years!!!) and went to Butcher Shop at a JBR for dinner. Sure, Dubai is a fake, rich man's playground but it's soooo fun :). Our host was lovely too! (thanks A!)

On the last day, we went to Khana Khazana for lunch; a restaurant by the famous Sanjeev Kapoor. While the food was good, I think my mom can make equally good qeema, biryani and daal :-P

Overall, a fun, relaxing long weekend away from the noise and hullabaloo of Karachi... thanks Mr. F, you're the bestest!

M and Il, thanks for coming all the way from Abu Dhabi just so we could all meet up and re-live the Masdar days :) Good times!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

White Hair

I'm officially old now... I crossed my 25th year in October and I'm now a mature adult having studied and worked abroad, gotten married and managed an independent household. The last couple of things have probably been the most challenging... Marriage is no easy task and you learn on the job; nothing can prepare you for it! In my case, Mr. F and I hadn't really known each other that long (around 6 months of chaperoned dating) but that was much longer than my parents knew each other (a few phone calls and glimpses at various community weddings).

The advantages of marrying someone significantly older based on my experience:
- Other person is relatively more mature, less likely to have "breakdowns" and experienced enough to deal with minor crises that occur almost daily ("Mr. F, I ummm... locked the car keys in the car and I'm now stranded in Gizri :'(, I managed to get really nice flowers though!")
- You're not struggling financially; instead of saving and generally being careful like most young couples, I get pampered by Mr. F, eat out at nice restaurants, take impromptu fun trips and don't feel *too* guilty splurging on something occasionally
- Other people take you more seriously; this I've found to be true for most married people! While my single friends are sometimes relegated to the "kid's section", older adults now expect me to join them at their table (I can now make polite small talk with aunties and uncles between the ages of 30 and 100 from all segments of society), children's admissions, maasi/ayah/driver woes, Pakistani politics and the moral deterioration of Pakistani society are generally popular topics (sometimes, I wish I was back at the kids' table :-p)

P.S. I'm loving Google's theme today http://www.google.com.pk/ :-)

Happy Birthday Mark Twain!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Home Again...

Except, I'm not quite sure where home is any more... I have my "own house" that I reside in with Mr. F but we don't own it, I have my room in my parents house but it's not the house I grew up in; they moved to a new place when I was studying abroad and I never really had the time to make it my own (decorate my bedroom etc.) and then I have my in-laws house in Lahore where the entire family live together and where Mr. F and I have a little room of our own.

These days I'm staying with my parents. I usually do that when Mr. F's away on business trips but I feel rather like a guest sometimes. I bring a suitcase with my clothes for the next few days and my own toothbrush and cosmetics. I sleep on my old bed but it's not just "mine" any more... when I'm not home, my bedroom's the guestroom :-P


Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to Cheer Up

Buy these: http://www.tiffany.com/Shopping/Item.aspx?sku=19545083&mcat=148210&cid=287464&fromGrid=1&search_params=s+5-p+24-c+287464-r+101323351-x+-n+6-ri+-ni+0-t+

I'm pretty cranky today... work is annoying, people are annoying and I'm generally not a nice person to be around.

Yesterday, I made a pineapple drink with my fresh pineapple, coconut cream and sugar... It was pretty good if I do say so myself (how modest :-p) but Mr. F didn't have any, so I ended up drinking the whole jug myself (I didn't want to throw it out and it goes bad pretty quickly...). Now I feel fat and cranky :P

For people wondering about my weight, yes I've put on 5 lbs, happy?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hyperstar!


Went to the newly opened Hyperstar during lunch break! Oh the nostalgia :) I bought a fresh pineapple, gouda cheese and mortadella for sandwiches... yummy!

They've got most of the same items as Carrefour albeit a Pakistaniized version... but they've got Ben and Jerry's!!! I love Ben and Jerry :D

Thursday, November 10, 2011

11-11-11

Went to Lahore for Eid and ate lots of meat... too much in fact! Then, I got the flu... runny nose, leaky eyes and pains and aches all over... :'(

PIA has hired Greek planes with Greek staff and both my flights to Lahore and back were delayed by a few hours. I feel for the people who remember PIA's days of glory with uniforms designed by the likes of Pierre Cardin and a brand new fleet of planes.

Back at work today except, it's one of those lazy days when no one feels like doing much.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cordoba







We took the Renfe train from Granada to Cordoba... After the Al Hambra, Cordoba was a bit of anti-climax, but the mosque was beautiful! Allama Iqbal (Pakistan's national poet) read namaz there and wrote a poem Masjid-e-Qutuba. The mosque at Madina is modeled after it. The Mezquita is now a cathedral but I think they ruined the original Islamic architecture :s...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Haseen O Jameel - Pakistani Sesame Street





Sesame Street is coming to Pakistan but not as generations of Americans know it.

The TV show has a new cast of local characters led by a vivacious 6-year-old girl named Rani who loves cricket and traditional Pakistani music. Her sidekick, Munna, is a 5-year-old boy obsessed with numbers and banging away on Pakistani bongo drums, or tabla.

The US is bankrolling the initiative with $20 million, hoping it will improve education in a country where one-third of primary school-age children are not in class. Washington also hopes the program will increase tolerance at a time when the influence of radical views is growing.

“One of the key goals of the show in Pakistan is to increase tolerance toward groups like women and ethnic minorities,” said Larry Dolan, who was the head education officer for the US Agency for International Development in Pakistan until very recently.

The show, which started filming last week and will air at the end of November, was jointly developed by Sesame Workshop, the creator of the American series, and Rafi Peer Theater Workshop, a group in the Pakistani city of Lahore that has been staging puppet shows for more than three decades.

The American version of Sesame Street first aired in 1969, and the US government has worked with the company since then to produce shows in about 20 foreign countries, including Muslim nations like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Perhaps nowhere else are the stakes as high as in Pakistan. The US is worried that growing radicalisation could one day destabilise the nuclear-armed country. Washington has committed to spend $7.5 billion in civilian aid in Pakistan over five years, despite accusations that the country is aiding insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan.

Rani, the new program’s star, sports pigtails and a blue and white school uniform. Her innate curiosity is exemplified by the magnifying glass she often carries and her endless stream of questions. She is captain of the school cricket team and plays the harmonium, an instrument used to perform Qawwali music. (How many girls in rural Pakistan play cricket?!)

The creators chose Rani as the lead character to emphasize the importance of sending girls to school, something that doesn’t often happen in Pakistan’s conservative, male-dominated society, said Faizaan Peerzada, the chief operating officer of Rafi Peer and one of several family members who run the organisation.

“It makes the girl stand equally with the boy, which is very clear,” said Peerzada.

Rani and Munna are joined by Baily the donkey, Haseen O Jameel the crocodile, and Baaji, a spirited woman who serves as a mother figure for the others. (Haseen O Jameel - Beautiful & Handsome Crocodile... :O)

Elmo, the lovable, red, child monster, is the only traditional Sesame Street character on the show, which is called Sim Sim Hamara, or Our Sim Sim.

The action centers around a mock-up of a Pakistani town, complete with houses, a school and Baaji’s dhaba, a small shop and restaurant found in many places in the country. The town also includes a large Banyan tree, known as the wisdom tree in South Asia, in the shade of which the children often play. (Baaji's don't own dhaaba's, it's a guy thing where "men" go to drink chai... more like pub than anything else... I don't think I've ever seen women in dhaabas)

Given the intense ethnic and regional divisions within Pakistan, the creators tried to build a set that was recognisable to Pakistani children but did not stand out as being from one part of the country. For similar reasons, the skin colors of the puppets range from very light brown to orange.

A total of 78 episodes will be aired in Pakistan’s national language, Urdu, over the next three years, as well as 13 in each of the four main regional languages, Baluchi, Pashtu, Punjabi and Sindhi. The shows will appear on Pakistan state television, and the producers hope they will reach 3 million children, 1 million of whom are out of school.

They also plan radio programs and 600 live puppet performances they hope will reach millions more kids and parents.




http://www.dawn.com/2011/10/31/pakistani-sesame-street-preaches-tolerance.html


I think I'm scarred for life :-P

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Work Politics

So I'll interrupt my travelogue to whine a little... Although, for the record (Alhamdulilah), I'm grateful to have a decent job and a pleasant work environment!

Mr. F was promoted and transferred earlier this year and I remained in the original department. He, being pretty senior is privy to all sorts of information (even about my department) and he's buddy-buddy with almost everyone. It's getting a little claustrophobic for me because all my friends/colleagues are also his friends and they're also a little in awe of him (since he's a lot senior) so I can't be as free/open as I like.

Also, Mr. F knows how to handle office politics pretty well and he keeps trying to advise me whereas I like to believe that the world is a fair and happy place, people are genuine and good things will come to those who wait... and I also don't like being told what to do, preferring to "learn by doing".

I'm still without a boss and my CEO can't figure out where to place me since my field is very specialized (Environmental Engineering/CSR/Energy Policy)... Sometimes, I feel like I should've just majored in Economics/Finance like everyone else and become a corporate woman :-P

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seville and Granada



We left for Seville on Wednesday evening and arrived at the Hotel Rey Alfonso X... Luckily, the receptionist spoke English and was able to guide us. Seville is a lovely town with lots of orange trees, tourists and young people. Restaurants and quaint little shops are open till 8pm (the rest of Europe shuts down at 5pm) and the atmosphere is lively and happening :)


We went to visit the Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcazar.

Inside the Cathedral

Hammam at the Real Alcazar

Our next stop was Granada... The Al Hambra was on my "list of places to visit before I turn 30" and Alhamdulilah, this came true (thank you Allah Mian and dear Mr. F for making it happen!). The architectural details and the amount of work that must have gone into perfecting each and every tile and carving is amazing... A must-visit for anyone who's remotely interested in structural art and architecture... I wish I could be there alone though... minus the annoying tourists with their cameras, just being able to revel in the beauty and glory of the place!

Entrance

Carvings of ayats from the Quran

A roof at Al-Hambra


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Three Ages of Man and Death


The Three Ages of Man and Death was a painting I saw at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid and it still haunts me... It basically shows a baby sleeping, a young woman in the prime of her youth and an old woman trying to expose her as death (the skeletal old man carrying an hour glass) leads her away...

I'm already dreading old age and I hope and pray I'll be gone before I'm dependent on others to take care of me... and I pray God grants me full possession of my faculties. Imagine how frightening it would be, to not be able to recognize your brother or sister or forget where you live or how to eat a sandwich!

Other really interesting/disturbing paintings were Magdalena Ventura (The Bearded Woman) and The Birth of the Milky Way by Rubens... Rubens painted a lot of nekkid women and men with leaves on their private parts... my fifth grade humor kicked in and I sat on the one of the benches at the Museum and giggled until I was in hysterics and tears botched up my face... yes, I'm weird!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Madrid

We flew Iberian Airlines from Cologne to Madrid... they didn't even serve water or peanuts!!

Madrid Barajas Airport is a beautiful building and I was transported back to my Structures and the Urban Environment class with Professor David Billington where we'd studied Terminal 4 as an example of structural art...

The taxi driver played Santana in the car... Hola Spain!

We arrived at our hotel around midnight. I went straight to bed but Mr. F went out to get dinner.

The hotel breakfast was really good! They had everything from samosas and miso soup to gourmet yogurt and nutella :) After breakfast, Mr. F took me sight-seeing (he'd been to Madrid before). We visited a lot of historic monuments and took pictures around the Plaza de Sol, met up with Mr. F's friend Arturo for lunch and had Spanish tortillas for dinner. So Spanish tortillas are made with egg instead of corn (which is the Mexican staple) and it's basically a thick potato omelette... I think I prefer the Tex-Mex version :-p. We also had tapas and cold soup which were kinda icky :p

The following day, I took the train to Toledo (Mr. F had to attend the conference). It's a beautiful city with history all around! I only had energy to visit the castle and fortress with lots of towers and turrets and then I sat on the steps catching my breath and nursing my water bottle... I guess I look Spanish because people kept speaking to me in Spanish and asking for directions... lol!

Dinner was fun. I went as "the spouse" but I had to make do with a nice shirt and a jacket as I hadn't really brought formal wear with me... the other ladies were wearing cocktail dresses and diamonds. At our table were Jaffer from Jordan and his wife Lubna and Doug and Brenda from Chicago and a couple of Qatari guys who didn't talk much. I was easily the youngest person there but I guess I'm used to it now...

Dinner was followed by a Flamenco show. The music was good but the dancers were amateurs and the costumes were rather tacky. I think Aishwarya Rai did a better job in Udi :-p



Sunday, October 16, 2011

Euro Trip Part I

I left for Dusseldorf on 30th September and daddy dearest dropped me off at the airport... Packing was quite a hassle since there was no electricity and I had to use my cell phone torch to locate items and fold my clothes :-p


Update:

My legs are aching and I'm really tired but Alhamdulilah, the trip was fantastic. Abbu dear, thanks for the best present EVER! Felt like a princess in business class though a little intimidated by all the suited-up business men :p. Flight was on time and I made it to Dubai, Terminal 4 in good time. It was super busy though because a lot of connecting flights leave around the same time and the place was packed with Desis. I couldn't even use the bathroom because of the long waiting lines! I watched Monte Carlo, The Trip and Something Borrowed and ate 2 breakfasts and a lunch. Emirates food is ok... (Etihad is much better!)

Mr. F was there at the airport waiting for me... he was wearing a violet shirt with a bright green hoodie and yellow shoes.. I almost didn't recognize him! We took the train from Dusseldorf to Cologne and checked into our hotel City Hotel Europa which is decent although the room itself is tiny!

Since it was early evening, we walked around and then took the train to Frechen for dinner where I had pizza and Mr. F had donor kabab. We had breakfast at the hotel where I loaded up on baked beans and granola. Around 11 am, our former German boss, Dr. H came over and brought his son Oliver and girlfriend-in-law Clarissa and they showed us around Old Cologne and took us out for lunch... we went to see the Colonium and went inside the Dom cathedral which is the main monument of Cologne, then we walked and walked and walked. Had grilled salmon with lemon sauce fresh from the River Rhine... yummy! In the afternoon, Dr. H took us to see the mines and power plant... also passed a wind farm and some sheep and horse farms. Now we're back at the hotel, totally drained with no energy! Tomorrow there's a marathon, so Cologne is packed with tourists. Weather's been gorgeous so far... nice and sunny with just the right amount of chill... more tomorrow!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

We're all going on a Summer Holiday

We're all going on a summer holiday
no more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,
no more worries for me or you,
for a week or two.

We're going where the sun shines brightly
we're going where the sea is blue.
we've all seen it on the movies,
now let's see if it's true.

Everybody has a summer holiday
doin' things they always wanted to
So we're going on a summer holiday,
to make our dreams come true
for me and you.
for me and you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy Birthday

My GRE is tomorrow and I could be better prepared but I'm looking forward to getting over with it. If its in my qismat, I'll hopefully make it to a decent grad school (Inshalah).

Life is pretty good otherwise, Alhamdulilah, and every day, I'm more and more thankful for my wonderful and supportive family. I love you Ammi, Abbu, little bro and baby sis... You're 14 now Mashalah and quite the grown-up little lady. I admire your spirit and your cheerfulness, you always raise my spirits when I'm down and not many people can do that...

Wishing you every happiness now and always... love, Apa

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend~!

It's Saturday! Hurrah! I get so tired these days, it's not even funny. Weekends are a blessing :)

So I have a new boss and he's pretty weird. He just goes on and on and on about random things, his voice, his mannerisms and his condescending attitude are seriously beginning to irk me! He has this super-annoying habit of coughing to the side when he's on the phone and he explains every tiny little detail to me like I'm 5 years old! Urrrggghh!

I seriously need to get a new job... I've been doing mostly nothing for the past few months (well, I'm sort of studying for the GRE) but professionally, there isn't much for me to do, especially in Pakistan. It's pretty frustrating at times!

I'm planning to go watch "Meray Brother ki Dulhan" (My Brother's Bride) though I can't understand why they couldn't just call the movie, "Meray Bhai ki Dulhan" :-P


Thursday, September 15, 2011

?!@&*#

http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/15/bad-cops-to-be-reported-to-wives-2.html

Down

My brother and sister danced to 'Down' (Baby are you down, down, down, down, down...) at my Mehndi :) Good times!

I'm feeling kinda low these days. Maybe it's the weather, but getting out of bed in the morning and coming to work is a massive effort. I'm not being a very good wife either. I've been having mood swings and poor Mr. F has to suffer. I do feel bad and married life is wonderful, Alhamdulilah but sometimes, I just feel trapped... Wish I could just take a month off and travel (alone or with my fun-loving single friends :-p) and not have to be considerate of anyone else's wishes.

Mr. F's traveling to America and Bulgaria and Rio for work and I'm going to be sad in Karachi... I can't seem to get used to it :-(

I know it's really mean of me to not want my husband to have fun without me.... :(

Advice on how to deal with this?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Rain in Karachi...

We're almost in the middle of September and the monsoons have descended upon us... Global warming zindabad! When I was young, rains would occur in July/August... September was usually hot and dry with the famous "lu" blowing dust into our eyes. Indeed, times are a-changing :p

I just had a mango ice cream + sprite "float" for lunch and now I have a huge smile on my face :c). The weekend was rather busy... My best friend was back in Karachi after nearly 2 years and we had a grand time catching up and generally re-living the silliness of our years in school together... Mr. F tried to be nice to them but I think they find him slightly intimidating... lol. Actually, that's one of the reasons I married Mr. F! I wanted someone who'd take care of me and protect me from the bullies of the world :p (yes, I always had a secret damsel in distress fantasy)...

There are a lot of things I'm Inshalah looking forward to this month (upcoming trip to Europe... hurrah!!!) but I'll write about them later... don't wanna jinx it :p

Anyway, hope everyone's having a fun Monday!

Monday, September 5, 2011

PIA - Awful People to Fly With

So I'm back in Karachi and in office... I always find it difficult to get out of holiday mode :-p.

So, PIA screwed me over yet again!! I was supposed to leave for Karachi on the 11:00 am flight from Lahore, except, a smaller plane showed up (an Airbus instead of a Boeing 777) and 50 passengers didn't get on the plane... I went back home after having said goodbye and hugged and kissed all my female relatives in Lahore and given candy to the kids :-p... embarrassing!

Mr. F made frantic phone calls to his friends in the airline industry and some kind-hearted and resourceful soul put me on the 10pm flight to Karachi. I'd bought Cinnabon the night before as a present for my sister and they went bad :(

Now I'm one of those who looks forward to airline food :-p... It's a way to distract myself and chase boredom so I'll normally eat whatever is in the little plastic tray... This time there was a sandwich and a slice of cake (gone are the days when they would serve us biryani and a greasy curry and the famous rock-hard pia bun with butter :( ). I ate the sandwich and have been paying for my greed since Sunday in the form of numerous trips to the bathroom and acute nausea... ugh!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lahore Again


Mr. F and I left for Lahore on Friday evening and had McDonalds burgers from the airport for iftar :). Things have been rather bleak... mom-in-law dearest has Dengue and she's in hospital. Haven't really been doing much except entertaining visitors who come to pay their respects. Waisay, I don't really get the whole concept of having a dozen people accompany you to the hospital... Not only do they get in the way of the doctors and nurses but end up creating a commotion in the hospital and disturb other patients.

I'd be traumatized by having 6 attendants speaking in none-too-soft voices and commenting on how haggard I look when my head's aching fit to burst.

People have been asking my if I'm expecting :P. Usually, the conversation goes something like this:

"So, it's been a year since you got married? I nod, yes. So, how far along are you?/Planning a baby yet?/Are you using contraception?/What methods?/You know, there's a new designer pill for people who want to conceive really quickly"

:P

So, happy news! I met up with a fellow Pakistani Princetonian after 3 years!!!! Twas amazing :) and we had a fine time reminiscing... *Sigh* I miss Princeton!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sleep is Precious


My husband is (sometimes) the kindest, most patient man in the world. Yesterday, I had another tantrum/sulking session and he bore up quite well :-p.

I'd been cranky all evening and he was on the phone until 10... Then, he went to sleep at 10:15 while I stayed awake fuming and fretting and making myself ill. I decided to go and sleep in the other room because watching him sleep (innocent as lamb) was making me mad :-p. So I took myself off to the other room and tried to catch sleep... After an hour of tossing in vain, snacking on pistachios and chips and finally, eating raw sugar, I think I finally dropped off :-p

Around 1:30 am, Mr. F came to see where his wife had gone... He came and woke me up asking if everything was ok ("Hey, are you ok?" + endearments + lots of concern), Gaia wakes up all groggy and super-mad because now she's wide awake (again!)... Stayed up till Sehri while Mr. F read the Quran (he knows I wouldn't attack him if he's engaged in something like that :-p).

After Sehri, Mr. F gets ready to go back to sleep and I couldn't hold it in any more... many tears and a mini drama scene later, we both managed to sleep only to wake up again at 7:30 to come to work...

Yes, I know it sounds dumb but I had to get it out of my system

Monday, August 22, 2011

The End of Ramadan


Yet again, Karachi's come to a standstill. Petrol pumps are closed and attendance at office is thin but Mr. F and I don't really have an excuse coz we're a 15 minute drive from work :p

The last few days have been good Alhamdulilah. I attended a few iftars, made new friends and got some studying done. Work is blah... it's come to the point where my boss started avoiding me because he couldn't figure out anything for me to do! So i finally accosted him (GRE word :P) and had a heart-to-heart. He said look around, see what other people are doing and then let me know what you're interested in... I'll make it happen for you.

Problem is, there really isn't too much going on... everything's been kinda slow and I don't really have a finance background so they can't accommodate me there (even though they usually need more manpower). HR isn't my cup of tea either :(

Maybe I should just quit, start designing jewelry from home and hold exhibitions? (It's the cool new thing to do :p). Alternatively, I could just start a tuition center :p

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Procrastination


Since I'll do anything to avoid studying for the GRE (making pancakes, cleaning out my cupboard and experimenting with eye make-up), I may as well pen down my thoughts for the day...

Slept at 1:00 am and woke up at 4:00 am to prepare Sehri, then I slept again after Fajr (around 5:30 am) and woke up again at 7:00 am to get ready to come to work. My schedule's been pretty messed up all of Ramzan and I haven't been able to break out of the vicious cycle. My dad bought me my ticket to Spain (that's like, the best present EVER!!!!). Thanks dad and I hope I'll be able to repay the favor some day... inshalah. I'm sorry I haven't been as attentive as I'd like to be but I want you to know, I'm always there for you...


Monday, August 15, 2011

The August Month of Ramzan


Sadly, this year, I haven't really been in the Ramzan spirit... I am fasting and praying regularly but I usually read the Quran and make time for extra prayers and consciously try to be a better person. This year, I'm just too tired (and I know that's not an excuse :-()...

I wish I could be outside enjoying the lovely weather... just now, the cloudy skies and rough sea are beckoning but I'm stuck inside :(

Married life is good Alhamdulilah. Mr. F and I are a lot more comfortable with each other now and we've generally become more patient and understanding... We've come to accept certain things about one another and given up trying to change the other person... (this took a while!).

Inshalah, I'm going to start reading the Quran again, today... maybe writing it here will give me the motivation to do it...

Iftar Menu Items so far (only mentioning the successes here... had a few flops as well):

1. Sandwiches (roast beef, chicken fajita, mint chutney & cucumber, tandoori chicken on a croissant)
2. Spaghetti with meatballs (really quick and easy!)
3. Brownies
4. Tuna kababs
5. Fruit chaat (standard, everyday fare...)
6. Mint lemonade
7. Mango pineapple smoothie
8. Chaat (the way I had it in Princeton, a hot samosa topped with chickpeas, cold yogurt and tamarind sauce)
9. Chapli kabab (fail :-( )



Thursday, August 4, 2011

Iftar Menu

Fourth of Ramzan today! Only 25 or 26 more to go... :)

Planning the iftar menu is quite a chore... Yesterday, I made aloo tikki chaat, pakoras, fruit chaat and egg sandwiches... nothing too exciting. Today, I'll inshalah go with:
- Mushroom and spinach quesadillas
- Pepper steaks
- Pasta with feta cheese, olives and tomatoes
- Potato and mince cutlets (these don't quite fit with the other items but I need to use up leftover mince, :p)





Monday, August 1, 2011

On calf-skin and epi-leather

I don't attend these parties very often but Mr. F has some friends in the upper strata of Pakistani society (mostly owners of textile mills and construction companies and their wives) and so, every once in a while, I suffer through conversations such as these:

"Is that the latest Louis Vuitton?"
"Yes, Z got it for me from America, and he got the Tivoli GM XY for my mother-in-law. I think I'll exchange it with her... she just stays home all day. I have to go pick up the kids from school, I need larger bags!"

The first roza was good Alhamdulilah. I was staying with my parents, so didn't have to worry about a thing :) (no waking up early to prepare sehri/planning iftar menu/cooking dinner).

Mr. F comes back tomorrow... I think I'm becoming too emotionally dependent on him so I need to find other activities to keep myself busy, otherwise, he'll get tired of me :p

His birthday's coming up... what do you get a guy who has everything? (keeping in mind, I'm a middle-income, working woman... otherwise, I'd totally get him a Ferrari ;))


Ramadan Mubarak!


Dear People who randomly stop by... wishing you all a very Happy Ramadan!

I actually look forward to Ramadan in Pakistan... waking up together for Sehri, attending and hosting iftar parties and shopping for Eid!

Happy Fasting!

Friday, July 29, 2011

What would you do?


Chutti time :) man, it's been a long week!

So people, here's a dilemma... Mr. F's traveling to India in September and to Spain in October. I wanna go too!! I could take 2 weeks off except, I've already used up all my leaves for the trips to Lahore (a couple of days here and there)...

Cons:
- Bad impression on co-workers and boss if I take unpaid leave and vacation for 2 weeks when there's work to be done :P
- Could affect performance...

Pros:
- I get to see India and Europe!!!!
- I have a Schengen visa (and visas are hard to come by when you have a leafy green passport)

What would you do?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday

Life's been quite busy lately. I barely get time to eat, sleep and shower! Work for me ends around 7-7:30 and Mr. F comes home around 9... At that point, we're too exhausted to do anything but crash. Bijli's become quite a pain... for the last two days, the electricity comes for an hour and goes for the next two hours... The UPS has crashed..

We had visitors from Lahore this past weekend. We took them to Quaid-e-Azam's mazaar and Frere Hall and we were planning to go to Port Grande today... However, I had Sunday brunch at Koel and dinner at Olivetto... but the kulcha sandwich at Koel didn't quite agree with me... I spent Sunday night throwing up and now I'm in bed with a high fever and tummy ache :(

Mr. F was ultra-sweet though, he took me out for a drive and made me eat cake rusk because I couldn't keep anything down... Call me sappy but I was always one for being (gently) overpowered by a masterful man :p

Monday, July 18, 2011

Lahore Again!

Karachi closed down on Thursday after some psycho politician made some really antagonistic remarks about the Mohajir community...

I was expecting a mini-civil-war to break out or a situation akin to what happened when Benazir was shot in 2007, but the MQM leader "saved the day" and told the protesters to go back to their homes... Peace resumed.

I had a flight that evening and couldn't make it to the airport on time... after a series of delays, I finally (finally!) made it to Lahore on Friday evening... Lahore was beautiful! lush green and tranquil after the the chaos that is Karachi. Went to Yum (:P), it's a Chinese/Thai restaurant in Gulberg but Karachi's Fuschia is way better... Also tried English Tea House which is more "English" than the English themselves... They have pictures of the Queen prominently displayed on the walls and waitresses wearing frocks :p...

Mom-in-law dearest asked me no less than 8 times over a period of 2 hours when I'm going to have a baby (preferably a boy) because the last three grandchildren have all been girls... *sigh*


Monday, July 11, 2011

Late night whine-fest

It's 11:36 pm, I have work tomorrow and I can't fall asleep for the third night in a row... I have huge bags under my eyes and I've been attending random people's shaadis and valimas... And yes, I feel like whining right now...

My boss has gone to Salzburg :'( Mujhe bhi jaana tha... boo hoo hoo... Also, I think I'm getting the flu and I want someone to pamper me and pet me and put me to sleep... sigh

Plus, husband dear is going to the US and Spain and I'll be languishing in Karachi... (double sigh). It's pretty unfair though... by the time I'm senior enough in the company to go on business trips to fun places, I'll probably/inshalah have kids and I wouldn't want to leave them so I'll be the nice mom and stay at home... why are women so self-sacrificing :s ?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was our first wedding Anniversary :)

We celebrated the entire week by being extra nice to each other, exchanging small gifts and re-creating our initial "dates". Mr. F got me jewelry and flowers, I got him a watch and a perfume. Brother dear gave us a painting (our first "real" painting from an art gallery!) and sister dear make a cake and a cd of our favorite music :).
Usually, when you're really looking forward to something, it's ends up being a downer, so I was really hoping our anniversary wouldn't be a complete anti-climax. Alhamdulilah, it went well and Gaia's a happy wife... (I hope Mr. F's a happy husband).

Here's hoping and praying the next year is even better than the first and brings us closer (inshalah).



Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rainclouds


The sky is grey and leaden but it's only drizzled lightly so far. Rain clouds in Karachi are such a tease! Back in the day, we'd bunk classes and get soaked... In summers, when cousins from Saudi were over, we'd play in the rain, and do "jharoo pocha" using wipers to push the water into the garden and "washing" the roof with old towels donated by our grandmother.

I like watching the sky, breathing in the slightly moist/musty smell and being wafted by the sea breeze as I drive along Sea View, listening to FM 89 :)

Karachi, despite all your issues, I love thee :)


Monday, June 27, 2011

The Grand Reunion - We met, we hugged, we conquered...

Wednesday was a normal working day. I went to office, turned in a report and blasted emails. Then, I went home, packed and went to the airport.

Three hours later, I was in Dubai!!!!! M and Il came to pick me up, then we drove back to Masdar City in Abu Dhabi listening to "Give Me Everything Tonight" :D

Masdar City is pretty cool. The PRTs were finally working and it was sort of like the Jetsons as we zoomed away in a driver-less cube.

Next day, we went to IKEA on Saadiyat Island... I had the 1 dirham ice-cream, a hot-dog and a showarma and bought a garlic crusher, a solar lamp (to counter the load-shedding in Karachi) and scented candles... :)

We came back and watched "Due Date" followed by an all-night long girly gossip session.

Spent Friday in Marina Mall (Abu Dhabi), Saturday in Dubai Mall and Sunday in Mirdif City Center... and now I am officially broke :P

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shamsi Farm

So our firm organized a "day-out" for employees at Shamsi Farms... Twas quite a painful experience!

We arrived at office at 8 am and got into the buses (without airconditioning!). Humidity was high and I would guess temperatures to be around 45 C... People were sweating and emitting BO :-P ewwww...

They'd hired 2 chalets, one for the men and one for ladies... except, no one felt like getting into the dirty water or going on the water slides. The boats weren't working, there were no paddles and it was too hot to do anything but curl up in bed with a book and sip iced lemonade.

Rather than team-building, the event seemed to be aimed at getting people to annoy one another and strain already-fragile nerves.

It was also my first company trip without Mr. F to entertain me :'(
Slowly, I'm coming to appreciate him more and more... lol



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Someone Didn't Have Breakfast Today

EMAIL
Dear Mr. ****a,

Please review the attached FIDIC Agreement. Our European Consultant M**&**H requires this format to be followed. Please advise if this is in line with our company policy.

Thanks,

Regards,

Gaia

RESPONSE

FIDIC Contracts are internationally used as a base for negotiations-- our "Policy" will allow us to use any contract reviewed by Legal--however to send a FIDIC one for "review" without first understanding what its for and what our "clients" (ie yourll ) want is a waste of everyones time-- suggest yourll go thru it and see if it fits your commercial need and then discuss it with us--most of the contents of most agreements are common sense matters anyway and im sure thats one commodity E***** is not short of !



Ouch!

Almost a Year...

Around this time last year, I was busy freaking out about my wedding... I'd returned from my Bachelorette trip to Abu Dhabi and my parents were pretty stressed out with the wedding preps.

A year later, Alhamdulilah, I'm a lot more calm, generally wiser (at least I like to think so :)) and a lot more assertive than I used to be...

I've grown to love my husband and I think we've both gotten accustomed to our quirks and idiosyncrasies. My faith is stronger today... I'd agreed to this marriage more out of blind faith (that it was the right thing to do) than anything else and Alhamdulilah, things have worked out for the better. It could have worked out otherwise as well and for that, thank you Allah Mian.

Dear Mr. F,

I know I still don't let you read my blog, but I want to say, "thank you" for being a great husband/companion and for keeping all the promises you made to me at the time of our wedding. Thanks for not abusing my trust, for taking care of me and for being patient with me when I'm being unreasonable/difficult.

I've learned a lot from you over the past 11+ months and I'm looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together... hopefully, we'll manage to keep it fresh and fun and not fall into the marriage rut...

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Monday, June 13, 2011

Password Recovery Nightmare

A month ago, I decided to donate my old laptop to my dad. I changed the password, wrote it down on a piece of paper and gave it to dear Dad.... except, he probably forgot about it and somehow, the paper got lost.

Sigh... so, a month later, I decided to try logging in, only to get locked out :'(
I've been trying all possible combinations of numbers, letters, names, pet's names but I can't remember my password :"~(

Ana sad, jiddan jiddan!

If there are any tech-savvy people out there, any suggestions?

Monday, June 6, 2011

June


When I was in school, June used to signal the beginning of the summer vacations... long days spent with my cousins from Jeddah, playing guns and robbers, having "midnight feasts", reading Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Sweet Valley and going for our annual ride in the "victoria". We'd gorge on Mr. Burger and chips and Pakola, have carrom board and ludo championships and watch WWF (anyone remember Bret, the Hitman Hart??!).

We'd watch Johnny Quest and Ninja Robots and stay up till 5 am while our moms and grandmother watched old bollywood movies...

We're all grown-up now (N, A, S, Ai and myself), two of us are married, A recently got engaged, S has started his first job and Ai is about to graduate... The kids who came later have different experiences... My 13 year old sister plays badminton, hangs out with her friends and watches movies in the cinema... N's younger sister is now in Canada, the cousins don't visit as often since it's become more expensive and their holiday schedules don't match. Our priorities have changed; husbands and our own homes and jobs need to be managed.

I miss the good old days... Thank you Amima and NanaAbbu for giving us a grand childhood :")

Monday, May 30, 2011

:)











Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Something's Changed

So I'm planning a weekend trip to visit some friends in Dubai but for some strange, inexplicable reason, I'm feeling really guilty... for leaving Mr. F behind and going on a vacation alone (even if it's only for 3 days...)

Before I got married, I wouldn't think twice about it... my parents have always been comfortable with the idea and I know my friends will take care of everything... but I feel this massive sense of responsibility toward my husband (although he's pretty good at taking care of himself :)).

The trip's in the "planning" stage and I'm already feeling this way... "_"

Monday, May 23, 2011


I'm trying really hard to stay away from newspapers, radio and television... I'd rather live in denial than succumb to depression :-o.

Most Pakistanis are probably aware of the terrorist attacks on Pakistan's Naval Base. It was bizarre... everyone was at work whining about Monday mornings while a full-scale battle was raging on a few miles away...

Work is rather flat these days, there isn't much to do... I think my supervisor's tired of me going up to him to ask him to give me work every day :-P

Mr. F's moved to a new floor in the same building... I part from him every morning in the elevator and he comes home around 9... I guess that's normal for most corporations, but it'll take me a while to get used to... *sigh*





Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuesdays


So the past week was quite eventful... Alhamdulilah, the curtains are finally up and the new place is beginning to feel like home :").

We attended a valima (wedding party from the groom's side) in North Nazimabad on Sunday evening but the dinner was more like a scavenger hunt (people were quite literally pushing others aside, heaping their plates with food and then running back to their seat lest someone try to steal kulfi off their plate). I was serenely watching the madness until a six-year old nearly spilled his seven-up on me :-P

Mr. F moved to his new office yesterday. I was rather busy all day so I didn't really miss him too much... but he stopped by my cubicle twice and left me a note with toffees (awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww).

We need to buy side tables, another sofa and a new dinner set and inshalah we'll be ready to entertain...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Mr. F and I are out in company, people (usually aunties, at times, uncles too) often ask me what I cook for my husband (*note, people assume that I cook for my husband and that I have a repertoire of recipes under my belt :-P).

I shrug and smile and nod towards the husband and say (quite truthfully) that my husband is a better chef than I am and that we have a cook/housekeeper since we both work full-time. This response is usually met with raised eyebrows and comments about "the way to your husband's heart is through his stomach"

funny...

Not

Thankfully, dear Mr. F understands that his wife works the same number of hours that he does and does not expect a five course meal during the weeknights. On weekends, I do try to pamper him and make his favorite dishes/dessert :)

Also, my teenage sister has a school formal this weekend and I need to take her shopping for a modest (non-trashy) yet fun (not old-fashioned) outfit. We've combed all the big stores but I haven't been able to find anything :(

Any suggestions? It has to be in Karachi..

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Another Weekend Goes By...

We have finally shifted to our new house... except, it doesn't quite feel like home yet... We're waiting for curtains, a phone line, cable, internet and new furniture. Hopefully, inshalah, everything will be in place by the end of the week.

It's funny how the absence of technology gives you so much extra time to just focus on each other... On most weekends, Mr. F and I usually are sprawled in front of the tv or on facebook :p. Sans UPS, we even managed a couple of candle-lit dinners :-)

We attended an aunty-dinner on Saturday. This is where aunties dress up and brag about their childrens' accomplishments to the other aunties. The ultimate accomplishment is your kid getting into Karachi Grammar School...
Some aunties paid Rs. 18,000/month on tuitions for the entrance test only to be disappointed when the admissions were announced.

Not having any school-going kids yet, I am usually not able to contribute much to these conversation and so, I look on with a slightly amused, yet interested expression on my face... as if I'm eagerly storing these gems of wisdom for a time when I'll be in these aunties' shoes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fiasco at the UK Visa Center

So I finally mustered the courage to apply for a UK tourist visa... After several phone calls to the call center, I managed to schedule an appointment for 8:00 am. I prepared all the documents, made copies and booked a car to take me to Fortune Center. I arrived at ten minutes to eight. A few people were already in line and I joined the queue. A lonely security guard manned the counter and we were informed that the staff might be late because of the chaos in the city (there was firing yesterday and the security situation wasn't too great, therefore, public transport wasn't running).

There was nowhere to sit, we remained standing. One lady had brought her child with her... a boy of around 18 (with mental disabilities) who clung to his mother and became increasingly restless as time went by.

The guards were unable to provide any information. We waited for the staff to arrive for almost 45 minutes in the scorching heat before walking away...


I can hear the tinkle of the wind chimes and the gentle splash of the waterfall... Goldfish swim to the surface for a gulp of air and toads hop around the pond... The tiny pocket-lawn is blooming with flowers, cool sea breeze caresses my face... it's good to be home :-)

We spent most of the weekend shuttling between the old house and the new, moving clothes and furniture, cleaning up and settling in. Inshalah I hope our time spent here is tranquil and barkat-wala :-P (some Urdu words, i just can't substitute :")).

Thanks Mr. F for taking care of everything and making it a smooth transition for both of us.

<3

Friday, April 29, 2011

Shahi Shaadi

is Geo's name for Prince William's marriage to Kate Middleton :-P

I must confess, I'm one of those who eagerly followed the live screening of the royal wedding even though I'm supposed to be working. Kate looked lovely... The dress was simple and chic and I liked how it was totally unostentatious (if that's even a word) and relatively conservative... no deep necklines or bare shoulders for the Princess :)

Prince Harry was wearing too may layers... or it may just have been a bullet-proof jacket under his coat (he looked puffy) but I think he's more of a blazer and khakis kinda guy...

It's interesting how Eastern brides wear bright colors (reds and pinks) while our men are more somber in beige, white and grey and it's totally reversed in the West with the Prince in bright red military attire and the bride in virginal white...

Westminster Abbey is awe-inspiring as always... I think I'd like to renew my vows there if I get a chance (just have to convince Mr. F :p) if inshalah we make it through the next several years without arguing over sofa and curtain fabric :P

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Idealism Lost


Back when I was young, naive and idealistic, I would have done the following:

One seeing a stray kitten with a badly hurt paw mewing piteously, I would clean its wound and take it to the vet or at the very least give it some milk to ease the last few hours of its life in this world...

Now, cynical Gaia simply walks away thinking:

Some other cats will probably attack it and it won't be able to defend itself... it'll probably die anyway... why prolong it's life? Better to let it die quickly and naturally....

To Lahore and back...

I traveled on Air Blue for the first time. It's definitely more organized than PIA but it's like comparing your old college t-shirt (faded and worn, yet, soft and comfortable) with your new formal shirt (stiff and smart but needs to be broken in). The service was slow and the snack wasn't too exciting (and yes, I am one of those people who enjoys PIA food :"P).

Lahore was pleasantly cool when I landed on Friday evening. I think the humidity in Karachi makes it seem warmer than it actually is... we didn't need to use the airconditioner in Lahore but the electricity went every two hours!

Went to Veranda Bistro for dinner. It's a relatively new diner in Gulberg and I ordered spinach ravioli with basil and ricotta but it wasn't anything to write home about... dessert was decent but rather pricey.

Taught my nephew Electricity and Magnetism and surprisingly I remembered 95% of what I'd learned back in school... I guess being the nerd paid off :) (and it actually makes me happy!). We also did Layers of the Earth in Geography and studied some Islamiat (which is now called "Islamic Studies").

Our flight back home was delayed 3 hours! Back at work now and totally don't feel like working :-(

I think I'm ready for a proper vacation...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Moving


Inshallah, we (Gaia and husband) will soon be moving to a new home. The last nine months in our two-bedroom flat have been memorable :). I'll miss being able to walk to work, come home for lunch and climb three flights of stairs every day.

The neighbors have been absolutely amazing! I'll definitely miss Aunty M (who sends me red velvet cake with cream cheese icing), the chowkidars who guide me when I'm trying to reverse in the parking lot and the multitude of maimed and injured stray cats who keep the area mouse-free...

Soon, we'll pack the knick-knacks into boxes and call in the movers for the heavy items. I'm looking forward to the move though... the apartment always felt like it was more Mr. F's than mine since he'd bought all the furniture and everything was already in place before I moved in... The new place will definitely be more feminine and Gaia-ish :-p

But the move comes at a price... we'll both have to wake up half and hour earlier to get to work on time and reach home half and hour later...

Monday, April 11, 2011

On Babies

My brother-in-law and his wife just had a beautiful baby girl :). Mashalah, she is adorable (they sent us pictures within hours of her birth thanks to digital technology).

Sadly, Mr. F's family doesn't celebrate the birth of daughter... there's no mithai distribution, no gushing praise for the mom, no excited telephone calls to extended family and friends :( When it's a boy, they go all out and exchange lavish gifts and host a large dinner for the baby... It's pretty sad in this day and age especially among the educated classes. I'm not quite sure what it will take to change this mindset but I hope my daughter (if and when I have one inshalah :)) will be welcomed in a way similar to her male counterparts.

Also, MIL dearest mentioned (none too casually) that my nephews and nieces are now hoping for a cousin from their Chachi (Gaia)... How does one respond, politely?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fun Things to do in Karachi

I'm a Karachiite born and bred. I love the fast-paced city life, the traffic, the chaos, the mishmash of people and cultures but sometimes, I yearn for my life abroad. The peace, the security, the independence, the opportunity to travel and explore...

This month, I plan to be a tourist in my city and here's my list of touristy things to do:
- Visit the Mohatta Palace Museum (been meaning to do this for ages!)
- Walk around the Benazir Bhutto Park
- Go to Frere Hall (I went to see Sadeqain's horses in 8th grade; haven't been back since)
- Slide down the marble slides in Hill Park (haven't done that in 18 years!)
- Visit Mumtaz Mahal at Karachi Zoo (FYI: this is a woman with a wolf's body... enough to give you nightmares if you're around 5 and have a moderately active imagination. My dad used to take me as a kid and she'd ask for bakhsheesh... creepy!)
- Drink Pakola (it's been a while :))
- Shop at Empress Market (never been)
- Visit the Somiani Caves

Monday, April 4, 2011

Your lymph glands are slightly swollen, you have a slight pain in your jaw. You go to the doctor thinking it's a virus, a sore throat, mumps at worse. The doctor prescribes some medicine but advises you to get a biopsy done, just because. It's positive for malignancy...

You're young, healthy and active, happily married with things look good career-wise... Why me, you ask? Why now?

Dear N, I'm sorry I can't be there with you physically but I'm thinking about you constantly and admiring your strength (Mashalah). You've accomplished so much, so soon, I've always looked up to you... Be strong.

Lots of pyar and duas. God Bless!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The better team won the match but I love Afridi for saying "sorry" to the nation (I got all teary-eyed when he said that *sniff*).

So, Turkey ain't happening this year because the husband can't get leave and I really wanted to go before the summer tourist season :-(. I will try to squeeze in a trip to AD though (inshalah, dear God please, please, please let it happen).

Yesterday, I was really really really mean to Mr. F and I feel awful... The problem with being married is that you start having expectations from the other person, when you're just friends, it's all about being there for someone but not expecting anything in return. There are no defined roles and you have the freedom to do more or less as you please (without hurting someone else's feelings). So anyway, he's traveling this weekend and I'm missing him terribly and I'm wishing I could unsay and undo the stupid things I said and did last night.

He forgave me and was sweet and caring but I felt like I didn't deserve it... I'll have to spend the next week and a half being extra good and making it up to him.

*sigh*

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Restless

Mr. F and I got green cricket t-shirts for Rs. 1,500 each from Zainab Market. Two of Mr. F's brothers are in Mohali and he's wishing he could be there...

We went to Elbow Room on I.I.Chundrigar last night... It's a quaint little restaurant with pouffes, wicker tables, dim lighting and lazy waiters. I got bitten by mosquitoes and I'm praying I don't get dengue or malaria :-p. A high-powered delegation from China is here for the week... except no one at work is willing to entertain them today... They'll probably be given the day off for sight-seeing :P We're trying to explain to them what the hype is all about, but they just don't get it!

Cricket Fever

has claimed Pakistan and I have to say... it's highly contagious. This morning, I went to the PSO gas station to fill up the car and Dil, Dil Pakistan was blaring :)

After a really really really long time, I'm seeing happy, excited faces and a whole lot of green. I love Shahid Afridi for his comment, "We're going to play a game, not fight a war..." and that's how it should be. My facebook newsfeed is all about the upcoming India Pakistan cricket semi-final in Mohali... with a lot of friendly/caustic banter about Munni and Sheila

Here's to a victory for Pakistan (inshalah) and a safe and peaceful match tomorrow :)



Monday, March 28, 2011

On Filipino Maids in Pakistan

I was chatting with one of my colleagues today when the conversation turned to Filipino maids... My colleague NK has twins, a boy and a girl and she works full-time, hence she needs child care at home and someone to pick and drop the kids from school.

So, I ask her, why not just hire a Pakistani maid? Because, NK replies, Filipino maids speak fluent English, are highly educated (her's worked in a bank in the Philippines) and brush their teeth three times a day... Plus, they won't run away or abandon you, they have fixed vacation and wages and they're clean. Also, they have no distractions since they're away from their own family and friends.

NK, being a warm-hearted lady allows her maid to go to Sunday Bazaar on Sundays. She makes it a point to hug her and treat her like one of the family and her kids look up to the maid as an older sister. She gets paid $300/month, to look after NK's kids while her own children are looked after by their grandmother in the Philippines... And she gets to visit once every 2 years.

Pakistani society is full of contradictions :|)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back to the Grind


A shrine in Multan


Gaia is officially back in her cubicle... This morning, I was an hour late to work! And it was all thanks to Mr. F (*insert annoyed smiley*). Mr. F's being transferred to another department and I'll be left behind...

It's probably better for both of us but I have mixed feelings... We'll be more independent professionally but I will miss walking past him whenever I get up for coffee :-| Plus, I can't keep on eye on him :p and he'll be working late.

I went to Ehsanpur by car from Multan... it was surreal. What really struck me though was how primitive village culture really is... During a conversation with one of the lady teachers at the primary school, it kept running through my mind that my handbag from Hub leather cost more than twice her monthly salary :(

Government school teachers are paid Rs. 4,000/month ~ US$ 47/month

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The City of Saints

I'm in Multan!! We flew in on an ATR (more like a Daewoo bus than a plane :-p) and landed in a one-room airport with a single baggage belt in the midst of green fields.

My colleague and I checked into our hotel and my friend from school picked us up. She got married and moved to Multan recently but she knows the area pretty well. Everything's 5 or 10 minutes away from everywhere :) We had cheese kebabs for dinner with garlic and ginger naan and planning to go to Zanzibar today (it's Multan's upscale restaurant similar to Zouk).

Looking forward to shopping later today :)

P.S. I am missing dear husband... but at the same time, it's nice being on my own after a looooong time!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Work Schedule


My organization couldn't find work for me, so I've been assigned to a CSR project. I'll be working near Muzaffargarh on the rehabilitation of flood victims. We're building a sustainable Model Village with grey water harvesting, solar-based off-grid electrification, drip irrigation and education, health and livelihood interventions. Except, we still haven't managed to finalize the layout :-p. Yesterday, there was a 40 minute discussion on what to do with the livestock because people in rural Punjab prefer to keep their animals in their homes and cow-dung on the streets will not look pretty... :-)

My thighs are expanding since I'm sitting in my cubicle all day and by the time I get home, it's dark and I'm too lazy to go and exercise. I've also started drinking tea with half a cup of sugar :-p

Koob Shai bi haleeb wa sukkar katheer

Monday, March 14, 2011

Life Update

The weekend was a blur. Ali, our household help has gone to his village for vacation and Gaia is the new cook, cleaner and housekeeper :-P

They say "it never rains, it pours" I'd like to add, it never leaks, it floods! On Saturday, we had a dinner party at our house and the kitchen flooded... gross green liquid oozed out of the drain and covered my (usually gleaming) kitchen floor. It didn't stop there... While I tried to staunch the flow with towels and newspaper, the water proceeded to travel to the dining room/lounge area. Finally, I put on my yellow rubber gloves and unclogged the mess from the gutter (gag!).

Mr. F was a darling and did most of the cooking :). We made pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes (I'd read online that we could put the tray of tomatoes in the car and they would dry out faster and it totally worked!), moneybags tied with blanched green onions, rosemary steaks, potatoes gratin, bruschetta and salad. I made tiramisu and it was quite lovely if I do say so myself :)

We played Taboo and it brought back Pton memories...

On Sunday, I went to the Wardha Saleem Lawn Exhibition. For the uninitiated, this is the latest fad where designers display lawn prints before making them available in the shops. I ended up buying two suits just because everyone else was doing it :-p Guess their marketing strategy works...

I'm back at work and I can barely keep my eyes open... and this is after a cup of coffee and a cup of tea.

I also got rejections from two grad schools :-"(

Hopefully, God has something better for me... but I am a teeny bit sad.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An Unforgettable Experience (that I'd rather forget...)


This past weekend, our firm decided to sponsor a visit to the plant for all management employees and their families. So at 7:30 am on Friday morning, Mr. F and I arrived at the office which was the designated meeting point. There was a "Bachelor Bus" for all the single boys and a "Family Bus" for ladies, husbands and children.

I think Mr. F secretly wanted to be with the bachelors but he curbed the impulse and sat with me instead (awww....). There was a pregnant lady in our bus and 11 kids under age ten and of course, kids need to go to the loo, eat, drink, cry, sing nursery rhymes and entertain themselves while adults try to sleep/doze/read/listen to their ipod :-p

We drove past banana, sugarcane and date plantations. There were 5 stops for namaz and loo and we finally (finally!) reached Ghotki at 8:30 pm. Our hosts had planned a "hi-tea" for us (they were expecting us at 4:30 pm) but we made it in time for dinner.

We were staying in a quaint little colony with beautifully manicured lawns, tennis courts, a tiny grocery store, health clinic and a primary school. The colony ladies had baked cakes and made sandwiches and really made us feel welcome. Mr. F and I stayed in the bachelor accommodations while other families were hosted by colony families. It was rather chilly and rained constantly. I was ill-prepared in lawn shalwar kameez and flip-flops but Mr. F offered me his Hah-vad sweatshirt and I grudgingly accepted :-p

We toured the plant on Saturday morning and played sports in the afternoon: Plant-people vs. management. We lost pretty badly... I think the last time I "played" a sport was on Kinect :-P.

After brunch on Sunday, we hopped back on to the bus for the twelve-hour journey back to Karachi.

Overall, it was a wonderful bonding experience... you really do get to know a person when you suffer/safar together during a 24-hour round-trip bus ride with inadequate bathroom facilities and no control over noise levels. You also come up with innovative ways to entertain yourself and your friends when your laptop/ipod/crackberry runs out of charge.

We resorted to playing Dumb Charades :-)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Events


Mom's birthday was last week :) I got her a black leather handbag and sister dear made strawberry cheesecake. Mashalah, my sister's a better chef than I am and she's thirteen!

Bro got our mom a Persian kitten. He went to a lady who'd advertised in Dawn's Advertiser under Kennels, Pets and Livestock and spent Rs. 5,000 on the cat. Mom wasn't too happy :-p so he decided to keep it himself. The kitty's been named Aiko which means "little loved one" in Japanese (*my family is strange/slightly kooky*).

Went to speak at NED yesterday... It was quite an experience and I was super nervous (literally trembling/shaking in my chair) but it went well Alhamdulilah. The students called me "Madam Gaia" and I was like "-" ???! Moi? Madam? Lol! But of course, I played the part and acted grownup and dignified.

Tomorrow inshalah, our company's taking us to visit a power plant. It's a pretty long bus ride and I'm probably going to take along a few dvds to entertain myself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bhurban for the Weekend


Last Wednesday was a national holiday on account of the Prophet's birth anniversary so Mr. F and I flew to Lahore. The weather was gorgeous~!!!! Warm sunshine, cool breeze... :) The roses were in full bloom but my naughty nephews would break off at least a dozen every day just to annoy their grandma :-p.

On Thursday, Mr. F decided to drive up to Murree... We stopped at Gujranwala on the way and I sat in the "family section" of Shahbaz Tikka, a restaurant famous for its lamb chops and meat dishes. Mr. F was in the restroom when one of his friends came in twirling a thick curly mustache. He's a textile mill owner and went to the US for college but returned to his ancestral village to take over the family business... he reminded me of Sultan Rahi.

After a hearty lunch followed by ice cream, we continued our journey. It was my first time on the new Murree expressway. The roads were lined with fallen snow but there wasn't much traffic so we managed to reach Bhurban by 8:00 pm. I was disappointed at best... Bhurban used to be the best 5-star hotel in Pakistan and now it is totally run-down. The food was monotonous, the standards of the rooms had definitely declined and everything was ridiculously over-priced!

Next day we went to Kashmir Point and Mall Road. The walk was lovely and I was happy to see snow after 3 years but the Mall itself was filthy and crowded. I had coffee from the stall which tasted more like chocolate syrup. Thankfully, we didn't have internet access so we actually got a chance to spend time together instead of checking our emails and updating facebook :-p.

On Saturday morning, I went to visit one of my juniors at Princeton who now works for the AEDB in Islamabad. We caught up and reminisced about the best four years of our lives :-)

Later that afternoon, we went to have lunch at Mr. F's friend's farm. His ten year old daughter happily informed me that I was much nicer than the other aunty that Mr. F used to bring... :P Apparently, it was a popular hangout spot for Mr. F and his ex-girlfriend. The 6-hour ride back to Lahore was accomplished in silence:
Gaia: fulminating
Mr. F: trying to make lame jokes

I got over myself by the following morning and peace was restored...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Wedding Crashers

The Palm is a popular venue for wedding-related events in Karachi. Since it's walking distance from our house, Mr. F and I decided to walk to our mutual colleague's valima rather than taking the car. I was wearing a bright green and gold zari sari with high heels. Mr. F was dandy in a white shalwar kameez.

The road was riddled with potholes but we managed to make it to the venue without getting splashed. Mr. F and I walked into the main hall only to be taken to separate sections. The even was gender-segregated so I found myself in an area full of aunties. I kissed the groom's mom, smiled at the sister and seated myself at one of the tables towards the stage. Since I didn't know anyone, I decided to call a friend in another timezone to occupy my time.

Five minutes later, I get a text from Mr. F: "Gaia, I think we're at the wrong function, meet me at the entrance"....

Oops!

Meanwhile, Mr. F had spotted another colleague, Gul, at the entrance of the adjacent hall. We decided to follow him inside until Mr. F realized that the groom was wearing glasses and had a beard... wrong groom!

We finally made it to the correct venue where our friends were gathered... *thankful sigh* my heels were killing me :'(

The caramel crunch ice cream made it all worthwhile :-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Crazy Busy Weekend

On Friday evening on the way back from work, I requested Mr. F to drop me off at my parents' house as I was feeling rather unwell and missing mommy. He complied, but reluctantly... When I called him a little while later to come pick me up, he made a mean joke, so I decided to stay the night (hoping he'd miss me a little).

Unfortunately, Mr. F thought he'd play the game my way and decided to ignore me completely :-P when I showed up at our apartment the following day.

On Saturday afternoon, we were invited to the beach and of course, Mr. F and I had to behave like the happy couple. So I plastered a big (fake) grin on my face, Mr. F turned up the volume on the radio and we drove to Hawksbay listening to Bleeding Love in a reasonably cheerful mood. To the Mr's credit, he didn't bring up "the night before" and pretended everything was normal.

We held hands, posed for photos and played the part well... On the way back in the car, I was silent. Mr. F mistakenly assumed that the storm had blown over and tried to lighten the mood by making polite small talk.

*I usually find this rather endearing* but I didn't want to let him off the hook that easily so I maintained the frosty facade. We came back home, got ready in half an hour and went to a photography auction at the Indus Valley School followed by a boxing game (Kinect) and coffee with friends. By then, we were too tired to enact a Bollywood scene... so we went peacefully to sleep and woke up refreshed and happy to be together again.

On Sunday, we went to the Literature Festival at Carlton just in time to hear Daniyal Mueenuddin. He is soooooooooooooooooo cute! *sigh*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Princeton's Religious Life Council

I was a member of the Religious Life Council at Princeton... Monday evening dinner, spring retreats, events at the chapel and Opening Exercises = good times :)

Here's an article by Dean Paul Raushenbush,

Religion evokes intense responses because it plays an essential role in our lives. Our beliefs reflect who we are, what we care about, our purpose -- what Tillich would call our "ultimate concerns." I serve as the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University. Much of my work involves encouraging interfaith dialogue between students of different religious traditions, including a group of 30 students called the Religious Life Council who have committed themselves to being part of a community of diverse faith traditions and beliefs (including atheists and agnostics) that acknowledges difference while maintaining respect and friendship. This stretches the students as Muslims and Jews, Hindus and Sikhs, Christians and Buddhists articulate their disagreements on questions of the existence of God, how society should be structured, the relation between religion and international politics and the nature of salvation. When speaking to someone from a different faith, we start out with the basic understanding that we will and should disagree, but we can sit down and have some tea and talk together.