Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bash, blow out, feast, shin ding

Eid Celebration

As a young child, I remember being woken up early in the morning. The house filled with the smells of my mom's cooking, vermicelli, beef curry, fried rice, chowmein, chicken stew, pepper pot, dhal polourie, fruit cake, sponge cake amidst all the finger foods she made the NIGHT before. I don't know how she ever did all that work with three young kids. My dad was the decorator and he dressed up our house with streamers and balloons just to make the day special for us.

For days before the big event, mom spent at her sewing machine. Measuring us, and cutting and sewing and making sure her girls were dressed in their best. (See picture below)

The afternoon before would have kids looking out the windows at sundown, looking and praying for that new crescent that heralded the end of Ramadan and made the next day Eid. How happy we were when we saw it and how disappointed we were when it wasn't seen. That meant one more day of fasting and Eid was yet another day away.

The songs that came from our radiogram filled our ears and heads with memories that takes us right back to that time when we hear them now. Beautiful songs by India's son, Mohamed Rafi were played from LP's and 45's.

Come Eid morning, we were dressed and made our way to masjid - La Grange Masjid on the West Bank of Demerara in sunny Guyana. Come to think of it, I don't ever recall Eid being anything other than a sunny day in Guyana. That masjid is loaded with memories for all four generations of the Khan clan. My uncle was the Imam there and now my cousin (who is my age) is the Imam. La Grange masjid has always been home to us and all the aunties who are the staple and backbone of the masjid have known me since I was a baby bump for my mom. After the Eid prayers and Khutbah, us kids were hugged and kissed and given money. There were always the kids who tried to get as much money from as many people as possible especially those incorrigible boys from the previous post.

No one seem to mind and in fact the men even forgot the antics of the boys during the night prayers....it was Eid and a day for the kids.
The first house we visited was my uncle's house - the Imam, then we walked over to my grandparents' house and then over to my aunt's house where we spent the majority of the day. Come afternoon, we took a car ride over to my mom's parent's house where yet another feast awaited.
Those long gone Eid days always bring back memories of us kids running around in Eid finery, with the excitement of seeing and meeting dozens of cousins from all over the country. Playing until dark and until one by one each family made its way back to their home. Lucky were the ones who got to stay extra days with the grandparents.

As we got older, we were able to help my mom with the preparations, mostly me cleaning and decorating and my sister Farah cooking (pssst.... it worked better that way as I have a hard time finding my way around the kitchen and knowing what each ingredient is used for). My mom still sewed our clothes and she made sure we looked the best she could as now we were kinda fashion conscious.

Our boy cousins with their friends started off the famous "walking" as it is known in Guyana, going from house to house, sampling wares put out by each happy, smiling host. By late afternoon they made their way from La Grange to Pouderoyen where we lived, a distance of approx. three to four miles. Here we'd put out our delicacies for their enjoyment. They ate, chatted and had a over all good time. The night ended up as movie night and more than likely with some of our cousins spending the night.
Eid was perhaps the best day in our young lives!!

This post is dedicated to all my cousins especially the La Grange troupe, Moneer, Shahab, Omran, KK, Talib, Gamal, who now have their own families to celebrate with and Mehboob and Junior who have since departed this world.  I  miss those days.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blog Tour

1. Shelley - http://bookfare.blogspot.com/
2. Totsy - http://totsymae.com/ 
3. Janu - http://janukulkarni.blogspot.com
4. Shaeeza - http://shaeeza.blogspot.com/
5. Dora - http://peacefrompieces.blogspot.com/ 6. Corinne - http://www.everydaygyaan.com
7. Rhiannon - http://www.rhiannonpaille.com/ 
8. Ryder - http://ryderislington.wordpress.com/ 
9. Karen - http://www.karenvwasylowski.blogspot.com
10. Karen - http://www.britsunited.blogspot.com
11. Dora - http://blogaliciousauthors.blogspot.com/

Thanks to Dora for another delightful blog a  licious tour. Please visit, sit for a while, leave a comment and then hop on to the next exciting blog. some have give a ways, others have pictures, all have something interesting to share. Enjoy!!

This week's topic is about - drum roll - "PEOPLE WHO TURN ME OFF!"

Now this list can be either pretty long or pretty short depending on my day. And we get days like that. 

Mostly I'm pretty easy going, ignoring the haters and living it up with the "happy people". I like good company as most people do and try to surround myself with such. There are times when I'd like to press a button and just get rid of the person who just plain fell off the rude wagon. 
I can't stand rudeness or rude people. There is such a thing as manners and being well brought up. I'm not saying you have to be starchy and stuffy - just have manners.
I teach Kindergarten in a private school and the first thing we do together is make up the class rules. They are very simple.
1. Always follow directions
2. Don't hurt anyone with words or body parts
3. Tell me only what you did
4. Use good words

It works very well. Sometimes I think people need to revisit their kindergarten days for a few moments, learn to share, hold hands, make sure your buddy is alright, use good manners and don't snitch.

Rudeness makes me bristle and turns me off!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boys in Ramadan

Now I may get into trouble for this post by some very conservative people out there, but then I'm not writing to please anyone.

I always laugh out loud whenever I hear stories like these. I come from a very large family and the stories I've heard from my millions of cousins and high school friends will make any law abiding citizen blush, cringe, or laugh. Indians sometimes are too prolific for their own good. I ended up with a large family of my own - 5 kids.

During the month of Ramadan, many people, actually the majority of people welcome the respite from all their daily struggles and seek to find forgiveness, peace and solace with their Lord. Many young children are given the opportunity to wake up with the grown ups and begin their fast for the first time. Many people see this as an opportunity to practice this part of their religion for at least this month. And still there are others seeking to become closer to their lord and try to wring every ounce of goodness they could garner from this month as no one is sure of the future.

Then there are the boys.

Highly debating whether I should continue with this post. I have already spiked your interest, no?

With the abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, comes the night prayers at the masjid. During this month, the sense of family and love and community is very strong. Everyone gathers to break their fast and then stay on for the extra prayers every night. It really is beautiful.

(note to my mom - don't read further)
And as a child in Guyana, these nights always bring back fond memories of friendship, laughter, happiness, a little bit of matchmaking, passing love notes, and old ladies giving us the stink eye because we couldn't stop the giggling. And the sneaking out from under moms' stern and watchful eye to meet ..... ahem!

But I think the boys had it best.

In every masjid right now in the world. I seriously doubt that I am wrong. There is  a line at the very back filled with young boys who purposely go to masjid for things other than dutifully performing their prayers. Call it the channeling of Tom Sawyer or the Huckleberry Finn Syndrome, these boys are not interested in the spiritual benefits of prayers. Be they ages fourteen to eighteen, and sometimes the occasional thirty something.

Their soul purpose is to purposely disturb the prayers of the older men who take the night prayers to heart. They will out prank Ashton Kutcher any night of the week. And they would come out smelling like a rose as no one would give up anyone. And the older men had no way of proving who did it even if their suspicions greatly outweigh the innocent looks of suddenly quiet praying boys.

Pranks I know they played:
1. spit balls suddenly flying through the air aimed at upraised bottoms
2. tying prostrating feet together
3. pulling down loose pants
4. rubbing coal on the carpet right where white clothed bottoms will sit
5. starting a wave in the line by pushing from the ends

There are more risque ones they played, but I'll stop here. Almost every night came with reminders to the boys to their purpose in the masjid. And every night, there would be at least one irate patron who is so offended by the boys' behavior that he would be in favor of banning the boys from masjid or better yet send them over to the women's section (which might have been the boys' ultimate goal).

There was almost always some older men who defended the boys, "Hey, they're in the masjid, leave them alone". "Have you forgotten when you were their age?"
They would continue to pray and keep a watchful eye on the boys. Some even went as far as to join the boys and sit amongst them to curtail the "nonsense". But their political aspirations would prove too much and they would end praying up front as babysitting a bunch of  little boys wouldn't get them the position they wanted.

Most of these boys do eventually grow up to become fine upstanding, productive members of society with a great love for their religion. They become Hafiz, Imams, scholars in Islam, doctors, pharmacists, bosses, lawyers, teachers, farmers, business men and great fathers themselves and contributors to the Muslim community.

 And I bet they all carry fond memories of when they were boys in Ramadan. Just ask any of them.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Love, affection, cherish, devotion, adore, fervor, enchantment, soft spot, tenderness, fondness, piety, worship, rapture, courtship ..........

Love is a common thread in everyone's lives. How can we live without it? Do we want to live with out it? Should we live without it?

Some people live their entire lives surrounded by love.
Some others live their entire lives searching for love.
Some search for it in all the wrong places.
Some people even have love enter their lives when they least expect it.
Some people live their lives without even an inkling of what love is.
Some people focus on their love of  a deity rather than for humanity
Some have found a balance of love in their lives.

We all want love whether it's the blush of young love, the love of parent for child, the love between spouses, the love for God, the love for nature, the love for money, the love for knowledge. We all want it in vary degrees.

I have been reading recently about true love, first true love. Many people have experienced it, many have continued in their love, many have lost it and many are rekindling it.
What makes your first true love so special?
What makes it endure through out the years?
What makes it so unattainable for some?
Why does it bring the heart ache, the happiness, the contentment, the turmoil, the never ending euphoria?

True love, mostly first true happens to many people in a young age, when they are forming connections similar to the same connections as a baby with a mother. First true love is beautiful in itself and many people are reconnecting.

Boston Globe interviewer, Carey Goldberg "notes some research indicates that a teenager may attach specifically to a first lover in much the same way as a baby attaches to a mother. "

"This hypothesis was given by Dr. Linda Waud, a Psychologist who wrote her dissertation on three reunited couples.
“There is an actual neurological attachment that happens between these individuals,” she said, “and that’s why it’s enduring and it never leaves your mind. It’s there forever and ever.” Interestingly, Dr. Waud herself reconnected with a long-lost love after 35 years apart."
http://shrinktalk.net/?p=190Quoted from Shrink talk -

As of 2003, Dr. Nancy Kalish had studied over 2,000 “lost love” relationships.
Dr. Kalish brings up a very interesting point: “therapists tend to underestimate the powerful nature of such old loves, especially first loves. As a result, they tend to tell such patients that their feelings for their re-found loves are based on fantasy and that they can find the same feelings in their own marriages if they only try. But that fails to take into account that reunited lovers really do know and love each other, and a first love, in particular, remains unique. This is not about sex, it is not about the spouse or the marriage, it is not a midlife crisis,” she said. “The reunion is a continuation of a love that was interrupted.”

Why my interest in love and first loves? Simple, I am a witness to it. Many young people I know are embracing the way they feel and going after their first true loves. I say hold on to it and never let go. Once you recognize what you have, Never, ever let go.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bee Sting Part Deux

It's been almost a month since the first bee sting post. Is the bee still circling? Is he still aiming with deadly accuracy? Is the bee sting still there or faded away? You can bet your bottom dollar, bee sting is alive and well, or better yet still red and swollen.

I started really working on my diet of losing some weight  and trying to get rid of my apple of  a body. I've lost an entire beautiful size.

How am I doing it?
Well ahem, a day at a time.

Eating only the amount of what my eight year old would eat.
Stocking up on yogurt and other healthy foods
Bottles and bottles of water.
Chocolate limited to about 2 Hershey kisses a week instead of an entire bag.
Extra gum - dessert delights,  instead of  bowls of ice cream.
No bread or baked goods as much as it pains me and calls for me .
Fruits although my choice is limited due to my irrational allergy to fruits - hives on lips and mouth and throat closing inducing allergy.

Walking- up and down the rolling hills around my home, beautiful views interspersed with wild life sightings.
Exercise on demand TV - belly dancing for beginners
Rena's and Vena's  belly dancing for beginners
The pussy cat dolls - exercise workout
Wii fit
Just dance

Seems quite impressive? Well using it and putting it into action can be an extremely funny way to lose some weight when you're me and live in house filled with comic wannabes.

The first time I used Rena's and Vena's belly dancing for beginners, I was impressed with the seeming ease of the workout. Very low impact for arms and waist.
Until they asked me to locate my rib cage - Are you kidding? Locate my rib cage and move it independently from my waist -is that even a legal thing to do?
But it didn't stop there - they wanted me to feel my sternum and move my chest using my sternum - are they crazy? I can feel my sternum? Is that even humanly possible?
Needless to say my first time belly dancing with the twins was an event thankfully witness free. Can you imagine how I would have looked to any innocent bystander? A round overweight 40 plus woman trying to imitate two lithe 20 year olds with about 40 years experience between them in ballet, belly dancing, classical and folk Indian dancing. After ignoring the comments from my  family who I remind myself really loves me and  wants me around longer than my apple body is willing to permit, I did the best I could and did feel some sort of burn.

Then I joined Nazeefah on the Wii fit with just dance. Once upon a time, when I was younger, my cousins and I shared our beauty tips - some being dancing the fat away, and we did good. Fast forward to this time and that skinny girl is now hopelessly out of sync and uncoordinated to the extent that the easy songs on the just dance has the effect to turn her into a human pretzel with no hope of untangling herself. My score? Wouldn't you like to know. A miserable score that ranges between 3000 and 4000, not even enough for 1 and 1/2 stars. Did I stop there, no being the glutton for punishment that I am, I decided that maybe doing Michael Jackson experience would do me better. I soon find out that there's a reason he made millions doing what he did. Only trained dancers can keep up with him, certainly not short dumpy me. Shelving that idea real fast. Might revisit him later, or not, maybe in a next life.

Then Mariam hands me her DVD - the pussy cat dolls workout. Have I learned nothing? But then I seem to be a glutton for punishment. So I popped that baby in and hoped for the best.
Surprisingly, there is a great workout there. Easy warm up and the break down of the steps were easy to follow except for when they threw in a punch here and there to keep you on your toes.  This is fast becoming my favorite workout.

Not having a group or posse to compare notes with can be devastating to any weight lost program. But I am determined to do this and I've designated every Sunday to be measure and weigh in day.

Anyone care for results? So far a total of 6 inches lost and a whopping ten pounds - yay! a whole baby, now only four more babies to go.

So I think, maybe this time it will work - I know my muse will be ecstatic with the final results and my doctor might just be tickled pink with my blood pressure.