Monday, December 18, 2006

In london ...

Our trip is beginning... my nerves are fine, however my nose is constantly running. I cant belive I am sick before we have even started our journey.

I am sitting at Heathrow, unimpressed with the duty free. Oh well. In London, we found out that a ton of ppl that we know will be coming to haj with us. I am starting to get excited.

With 3 mins remaining on my clock, I am going to sign off... I guess it will be me and Sheriyati for the rest of the trip.

With Love....

Friday, December 15, 2006

Walking Toward Death

After a week of "Ehram" troubles, I finally brought home my white dress that I will wear during the three days of haj. While I was not completely satisfied with the quality and end product, I decided that I no longer wanted to think on the ehram subject any longer. I went downstairs, poured unscented detergent in the washer, threw my clothes in and waited for the cycle to finish.

That evening, after the clothes my washed and I showed Asif my freshly, cleaned ehram. Asif said to me - "So thats your kafan". Oh my..I thought. If only I put as much time into my life serving Allah, as i put into making my death shrouds. It is scary to come to some understanding that this might be the end.

As Asif and I approach our departure date for hajj, we would like to ask you all to forgive us if we have hurt you in any way. Please pray that our hajj is accepted and that we return home safely inshallah.

With Love....

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Count Down Is ON!

With less than 3 weeks to go, more than 150 North American Muslims are sitting at home staring at an empty suitcase. To pack or not to pack - that is the question running through our minds. My calender with none but one word - haj - seems to be going through a range of emotions very time I look at it. Sometimes it looks at me pleadingly, other times it glares at me. What am I to do? I want to begin my preparations for this most spiritual journey, but with no Saudia visas in hand, preparations almost seem like a waste of time.

So here I am - physically unprepared for haj - staring at my empty Swiss Army suitcase. How am I to get mentally prepared? I want to be excited but it seems like our visa trouble is just a preview of what awaits us.

I begin to think of Mecca and the Kaaba, and for a minute, I am at peace. Then my mind wanders to my unsewn white pilgrimage garments laying lifeless on my tailor's "sancho". My heart begins to race again.

With less than three weeks to go for haj, I am finding myself nervous, a little scared, somewhat confused and totally unprepared. Beautiful! Such emotions are definately the making of a successful trip - wouldnt you agree?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Report Card Fever

I got the fever - and I am burning up! Report cards got me down. For the last week, I have spent the majority of my time either marking, drafting comments or on the computer trying to input all my information!

The worst part of this is the reports are now web based! In theory, it is a good thing - but like all theories, it doesn't really follow through into real life! With the huge volume of teachers logging in to write their report cards, there are huge delays, many error messages and the worst of all - the freeze that results in a huge loss of inputted data!

What a waste of time! While it should take a few moments to write a comment, it takes hours! What a waste of time!

Since my head is throbbing and the system is down - AGAIN - I am heading out!

And for all those who think teaching is easy because of the summers - I challenge you to survive one report card season and then talk to me!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna

This is a message for my dear friend - Minaz.

Although we stand each other up for our coffee dates, although we dont know how to play it "by ear" - whatever that means, although we dont know how to communicate effectively with each other, we DO know something very important! We know how good "fridges" is!

Fridges will not be the same without you. and warm chocolate cake, topped with delicious vanilla ice-cream and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce... hmmm. My mouth is watering already! Is yours? lol

Have a fabulous time on your travels :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Eid Debate

For as long as I can remember, the night before Eid has always been the same. Everywhere you go, the conversation sounds a little like this.

"Was the moon sighted?"
"Is tommorrow Eid?"
"I can't fast another fast! I dont care if the moon isnt sighted - tommorrow is my Eid"

Well, whenever your eid was - be it Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday - I would like to wish all my readers (I guess that would be you - Minaz) a wonderful Eid. May Allah accept all your duas - Ameen.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Useless Services

Asif came home yesterday quite excited about a service he had found out about - Google Text. Apparently, you can text Google a word and Google instantly texts you back with information about the chosen word. So Asif texted with word Manchester United to Google and Google texted back "They are the best" and "Beat Liverpool 2 - 0". Yes, I have to admit - I was excited about the wisdom of this device but nonetheless, what is the use of this service, which I have to add, you have to pay for? If I want to find out about the Man U game, I can just get onto the computer and find the information I need.
Asif's reaction to that was, "What if you are in the car?"
Okay, if I am in the car, I will wait till I get home and then get on the computer!"

So Asif continues to convince me.

"What if you need a number?"
"You dial 411!"
"What if you need an address?"
"I am sure Google does not provide such information" I responded. So we tried it.

We typed in the name of my school and sent it to Google and Google was unable to find the information! What a shocker!!

So seriously, apart from the instant gratification of you are receiving a text you paid for, what is the need for this service??

Should you feel the need to waste some money, the number is "46645". This new 5 digit number is changing lives, one text at a time - RIGHHHHT!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


I was sitting at mosque a few days ago and something interesting caught my eye and I have been meaning share it with my non-existent readers (I am assuming their non existence as a result of a lack of comments :))

But anyway, during the amaals (prayers), it was said, "If your mothers are with you today, be good to them and take every opportunity to serve them". Well said! My thoughts wandered to my own mother. In front of me, there sat a woman and her daughter. Upon hearing these words, the mother in front of me poked her daughter, indicating to her daughter to pay close attention to the pearls of wisdom being heard over the awful sound system. The daughter looked at her mom and in jest, simply rolled her eyes! I loved it! Watching the two of them reminded me of the thousand pokes and little pinches I received as a child and the many rolling eyes I dutifully gave back to my mom. The pinches and sneers shared between mothers and daughters during adolescence is the new language of love - many fail to understand this language but it exists.

This love changes into the mushy, my mom is the best kind of love only after a separation like moving out, going away to school or marriage.

I then began thinking about the presence of my mother in my life. I realized the presence of many other wonderful women in my life who took or have taken the role of mothering me alongside my own mom. These women include my grandmother, my chachis, my mother in law, my acting mom-in-laws (in Canada), the lady who I fold chaddors with at mosque....the list continues.

I want to say a special thank you to all those absolutely amazing women - I honestly believe heaven is under the feet of these wonderful women. Thank you!

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Hate Mondays!

I am wondering about this awful day called Monday. I know the people who go to school, and the people who have a job allowing for a two day break begining Friday will understand how I feel about this day - I hate Mondays! It is an awful day. For some reason, it is always gloomy on Monday mornings and people are more angry on Mondays and it is just a depressing kind of day.... I could go on

What I am wondering is, how do the people who work on Saturday or Sunday feel about Monday? **This includes the people live in Dubai**

a. like /
b. do not like/
c. do not mind

Thanks for listening to my venting via blogger!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Word!!

Yesterday Asif and I sat watching documentary after documentary on TV (talk about lifeless); We saw one about terrorism in Pakistan, another about the Inca Trail. (Suk, I get it. I think I want to experience this world of The Lost Gods).

I just sat on our comfortable camel coloured sofa, half-watching, sort of listening and thinking. Despite knowing my love for watching commercials, Asif began channel surfing during the breaks. We stopped for a few seconds on channel 34 -TLC and one word had me hooked. The single word "Portugal" changed everything that evening. My body language changed from kinda listening, a little disinterested and spacy to attentive, excited and happy! I never imagined watching a documentary about the pilgrims who come to Fatima would be a cause of such excitement for me. Here I was, on a Wednesday night at 11:45pm, willingly learning about Christian doctrines simply because it was set in Portugal.

Now, I need to figure out why I am so obsessed with this country that - really, is not too obsessed with me!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Read Anything Good Lately

I was at a workshop this morning and I read a wonderful book called - Read Anything Good Lately. It is a simple alphabet picture book trying to express that reading is more than print in a book. Reading is everywhere - at the back of a cereal box, the sale sign in a shopping mall, listening to noises in the night etc. Reading is visual, kinesthetic, and auditory. Reading is a rich experience.

The activity that followed was we had to create our own alphabet picture books. I will begin. Turn on your creativity and help me finish the alphabet!

Have you read anything good lately? Yes, I have. I have read:

A - Amaal for A shura in Arabia
B - Bell Canada Brochures in the Bath
C - Contest information on the Cornflakes Cereal Container
D - Doctor's Diagnosis on the the Door
E -

Lets keep in going guys. Notice the letters in bold print :)

Pee on the Floor

On Thursday, one of the kids in my class had an accident - whoops. She called me to her table and pointed to the floor. My eyes caught a light yellow liquid wandering on the floor - dangerously close to the carpet. ewwwww. The things we experience as teachers!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Click Here - Are you ready to travel?

Check out the link by clicking on the title to test if you ready to travel the world. It is a little quiz titled, "Don't Gross Out The World".

It's quite funny. I faired as quite ungross - very exciting information to add to my schema!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hump Day Dinner

It is 6:45pm on Wednesday. A table set for 15 greets me (Yes, I know. The table reservation was a little over ambitious since we only had a party of 8! Nonetheless....). Displayed on the dark wood tables are baskets filled with bread, platefuls of dates (khajuur) and feta cheese pierced with toothpicks. Lovely! Friends arrive soon after - some come laughing, others are a little shy. The time ticks slowly - it always ticks slowly when we wait. Hungry, we pore over the menus deciding what to order. Finally the food arrives. With the food, comes our sense of humour. The more we eat, the more relaxed the atmosphere gets. The more relaxed we get, the louder our laughter. This makes me wonder - can people get intoxicated from food and friends?

Anyway, when the clock struck 8:40pm, we all parted ways. Walking to the car, we make promises to meet more often. Jumping into the car, I think, For sure, I had so much fun! I can't wait for the next dinner and really, these dinners are not all jokes, we always learn from other.

1. Double frying fries make fries crispy - Thanks Shaista :)
2. Anyday is Shahida's birthday
3. There is someone in the mosque who looks like Arif Somji - Thanks Mehnaaz
4. Hump Day is the day of the week that is hardest to get through - Thanks Sameena and Minaz for clearing that up.
5. The best way to stay awake at 6:00am is to do dishes - Sorry Shel, you are alone on that one!
6. You can make mint tea by grinding mint leaves and adding it to tea. Make sure you strain the tea before drinking - Naila, I am coming over to yours to have this.
7. Shel makes the best chocolate chip cookies.
8. Shahida makes great dessert
9. You can always count on Sameena to pull out turkey guts for a Thanksgiving dinner

We even came up with a great business plan - Having a bake sale and tupperware party side by side!

What a bargain - laughter, friends, learning and food all for the low price of $17.50.

Thanks girls for a wonderful night.

You know what I am thinking - I will plan the next dinner on my blog. This way you all have to view my blog and comment on it - lol.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

This is my home away from home

The first day - The first morning message

Wonderful literature - refreshed each month

"What is the day today?" asked Ms. Fazal

Sorting my sorted books was a mission! The labels are already falling off my dollar store baskets!

The place of many wonderful creations (and many not so wonderful ones as well)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Basket Tells A Story

It is the first day of school. I come into school early. My nerves are getting the better of me. I look around the classrom I spent the last two week furnishing and I was filled with a sense of pride. I wondered if the new kids will like everything? I remind myself it was just random tables and chairs a few weeks ago; surely my efforts have helped create a better learning environment for the kids.

I just thought of something and snap my fingers in regret; I should have taken before and after pictures. Too late for that!

I survey my room again. The pencils are sharpened, the crayons (sorted by colour) all face the same direction, the tables are lined nicely. The blackboard is decorated with manipulatives for the kids. My smile turns into a frown when I realize this is the last time I will see it so clean. Aha! I can take before kids and after kids pictures.

Every basket in my class can tell a tale.

What story do you think these baskets are retelling?



Blue, Green and Orange - dots for life!

Having started a new job this fall, I have found my major stress aggravator has not come from dealing with a new school, a new grade or a new set of coworkers - It came from BLOGGER!!

Imagine that! All last week, I was unable to view my blog, make changes or publish anything. I didn't realize how obsessed I was with blogger until this blog-freeze!

What is most frustrating is I had just made changes to my template and added pictures to my profile. Having changed all my settings back to normal, I found I was able to view my blog again. What is that? Can I never change my blog template again? Am I stuck with blue, green and orange dots for all eternity?

Oh my - the stresses of being a blogger!

Friday, September 22, 2006

I was here!

I was here in the summer!

Check out the link for a virtual tour of the Al Hambara. If possible and imaginable, it is more beautiful up close.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sights Around London

View from Asif Dahya's University - King's College

Statue of Gandhi in a beautiful park around the corner from Mehar's Uni

The River Thames

A News Agent With Style

This little newsagent is located in a little alley way along Piccadilly. While I am of no relation to the FAZAL of the newsagent, I was still filled with a sense of pride.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A roommate to remember

This is a picture of my roommate, Rene, and myself hanging out at the last comfort stop on our way to Madrid! Her life, strength and outlook is completely inspirational. Thank you!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Important phrases to know in Spain, Portugal and Morocco

One of the elements that make any language so endearing to me is its creolization.

Here are some phrases to help you fit into the local infrastructure of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Hola - Hello

Comos ta - How are you?

Moi bein - I am fine

Supa! Supa! - Super! Super! (needs to be said twice for emphasis)

Bonita! - Lovely

Ay - yay - yay
- Oh my!

Un tigre - A tiger(to be said to really fast bus drivers like Amilio)

Kisiara Churros Con Chocolatte Parfavour - Can I have Churros with Chocolate please?

Jugo sin alcohol
- Juice without alcohol

Vamoos Rapido - Let's go quickly

Piano, Piano - Slowly, Slowly (needs to be said twice for emphasis)

Musica Parfavour - Music please

Dominos! - Let's go!

Bon Dia - Good Morning in Portuguese

Desh cupe - Sorry in Portuguese

Obrigado - Thank You in Portuguese

BALAK - Move to the side quickly. There is a donkey coming through. This is the most important word in Morocco especially in the Madina in Fez

Salaam - Hello in Arabic

Shukran - Thank You in Arabic

Monday, July 31, 2006

Cosmos Tours - Travel Tips

I have just completed my first coach tour with Cosmos. Upon some reflection, these are some things I would recommend for any future travelers.

1. Take 2 cameras. You have traveled too far and too long to be disappointed by your camera.

2. Consider your style of photography before you begin clicking. In my opinion, there are two types of photographers - landscapers and sentimentalists.

If you are the first, keep your camera on and ready to click all times. As the bus is always moving, sometimes quite rapidly, reaching for your camera and aiming as you see a sight usually means a picture taken too late!!

Sentimentalists are those who enjoy looking at pictures with people in them. If you fall in this category, don't be shy to ask someone to take your picture and more importantly, pose! I am of this category and I was shy. Looking back at the pictures now, I am already in regret mode.

As you will be seeing a lot in a day and snapping a lot of pictures, keep a journal. Write in it everyday! It is easy to miss a day and catch up is too hard! If you own a digital camera, screen your pictures each night and title them. After seeing 10 palaces, 5 madinas and several squares, they all start to look the same.

With wake up calls as early as 6:00am, you want to have had enough sleep. If you are sharing, it is sometimes hard to turn your roommate to the side when the snores are heightened. Also, if your tour director is annoying, ear plugs work wonders - TRUST ME!!

5. Sleep on the coach.
Traveling on a coach from city to city for 14 days can be exhausting. People put a lot of pressure on themselves to stay awake on the coach. You need to remember it is better to stay awake and active once you have stepped off the bus. There is no point in traveling for 12 hours on a bus - only to sleep in the hotel once you arrive to your destination. Really, watching acres and acres of Olive Gardens will put you to sleep!

6. Budget.
There is not shame in sneaking food from breakfast in your bag for lunch. It will save you at least 5 euros a day!

7. Travel light
Just because you are allowed to take 20 kilos with you on the plane does not mean you have to take 20 kilos! I did and I was unable to do any shopping in Spain, Portugal and Morocco because of the airplane weight restrictions!

8. Smile
Traveling with a bus full of strangers can be intimidating but a simple smile can change a lonely trip to a fun and fulfilling trip.

9. Take risks but be cautious.
If it is unsafe for you to do something in your own country, then it is unsafe to do it in a foreign country! That said, take risks to come out of your comfort zone. Take public transportation, eat squid, jump on the parallel tour bus, and go swimming at 5 in the morning! These memories will continue to bring a smile on your face for years after the trip.

10. Opt out of the day excursions and always go for the night ones.
This will give you a chance to explore the city in the day time on your own and a chance to get dressed and have a lovely dinner at night.

11. Talk to everyone - there is something to learn from everyone!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Was it a dream?

Today I arrived back to London from the best experience of my life. As I said goodbye to my new found friends at the airport, my eyes welled with tears. I still cannot believe the trip I have planned all my life has come to an end. "Was it a dream?" I continue to ask myself, but I know it isn’t! I have photographs to prove it!

When booking the trip, I had decided this trip was a one shot deal - go away once on my own, learn to make friends, build some confidence and come back home - new and revived. However, upon entering Gatwick this Sunday afternoon, a new hunger has consumed me - A hunger to travel, to see everything I can see, to find new joys such as eating Churros Con Chocolata in the Plaza de Majora or singing HOLIDAY at a Karaoke place.

I have learned so much from meeting and conversing with people from different walks of life. I don't know if I would do another tour because I am afraid it will never be the same but I hope to feed this new hunger for as long as I can.

Today, I read Luis's blog (my adopted tour director) and as usual, I was inspired. He had posted verses of Shakespeare. I don't remember all the verses, but one hit home - "Time flies for those that fear". I have lived my whole life fearing. Fearing to colour my hair, fearing to make an attempt to look good, fearing to walk into Kaniz aunty's kitchen because of a damn kasuku (parrot)! I don't want to be terrorized by the kasuku anymore! I want time to be eternal and according to Luis's translation of Shakespeare, time is eternal for people that love - a fearless, passionate love for life and all it has to offer!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In Marakesh

Cant connect to my email. I am going to Casablanca tomoro and I am fine. Asif, dont worry!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

An experience I will treasure

If for some reason, I had to fly home tomorrow, my heart would break, but in these few days I have gained so much, it would be enough to last me (for now).

So much is happening here, I don't know where to begin. We are moving from city to city, and I am overwhelmed with the information and feelings I am experiencing. To date, Madrid has captured my heart. I went to Plaza de Mayore yesterday and I walked along the narrow, beautiful streets just taking in the beautiful sights around me. The people here are so relaxed and happy - I have so much to learn from them and their lifestyle. They are so content with the little they have. After my little adventures along the streets, I sat on a sidewalk with my two new friends and listened to some Opera. While we were listening, my eyes wandered to the architecture around me. Each building was filled with detail, each beautiful, but still so different. Colours were dancing around me - vibrant reds and greens and yellows. I never

Today we went to Avila and Salamanca. Salamanca is the first University town in Europe and perhaps the most beautiful. Queen Isabella commissioned the University of Salamanca to be built and it is magnificent. The building itself looks like a cathedral. Around the university is a beautiful courtyard with sculptures accenting each corner. I sat on the grass and just looked around me, feeling so lucky to have had this opportunity to see such a wonderful place. Around the historical university, there are plenty of universities. Students were just sitting around drinking coffee and laughing. I wanted to join them. I wanted to be a part of the beautiful establishment.

Right now, I am in Coimbra, Portugal. This is another university town, but it does not have the same splendor as Spain. The people here seem to be a little more timid, and less likely to take risks. At about 10:00pm, the streets were empty, with the exception of a little bar overlooking the river.

The funniest thing happened to me today. When we stopped for a bathroom break, there was huge line up at the ladies washroom. Maggie and I decided to use the men’s washroom instead. We kept Luis in charge. Luis, being cheeky, told me that the bathrooms were empty. When I opened the door, I saw a man in the act!! I was SO embarrassed, I just ran. We came back a few minutes later to try our luck. We managed to go to the bathrooms. When Maggie came out, she calls me out. I rush out to me met with the sight of a random man at the urinal. We have decided that we are better off waiting in line

Tomorrow I will see the shrine of Fatima. I cannot wait.

Well, until maniana...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Been Around

I have 7 minutes remaining on my internet account so this will be a quick blog.

MY trip, so far, has been amazing. I entered the world of the Underground in London, and I have to say that they have a much better metro system that we do in Canada. I did not get lost once because it actually makes sense. I was hopping on and off the Northern Line and Picadally line and I loved every minute of it.

I am in Madrid right now. I feel a little like the girls in the Cadbury Thins year/old Austraounded my oldies. My room mate is a 70 year old Australian woman who is attempting her last trip and I, a 26 year old Canadian, going on her first trip alone. In a way, I feel like maybe she is a mirror of what this trip could mean for me.

The airport in Madrid is breathtaking with its array of colours and contemparary look.

30 secs to go... blog later

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A sad day for Portugal

I want to write something intelligent and interesting, but my mind is drawing a blank. Portugal is out of the World Cup 2006! How did this happen? Why did this happen? I cannot believe it. Who is to blame?

In Portugal's defense, I have to say they played one of their best games ever. They had good possession of the ball, attempted to score at numerous times, but at the end, it did not really amount to much - after all Zinade put France in the lead early on in the game.

In hockey, when playing for the Stanley Cup, the winning team and their fans change very little in their lives to ensure the winning streak stays with them. I think there were too many changes in the Portugal fanbase thereby jinxing Portugal. I mean, what other results should I have expected when supporters of Holland and supporters of England decide to change alliances? I am talking about Asif and Minaz! I blame Asif for the loss Portugal is enduring. While wearing a PORTUGAL shirt to the match (he is in Germany right now), he secretly was praying to see a goal by Henry! That's revolting!

And what infuriates me is the booing I heard for Ronaldo. That was completely uncalled for! He played a top notch game, almost scoring at the very end - dumb offside rule! The referee definitely didn't take him seriously and never called any fouls on him! Whatever!

I want to say to all the people who were not Portugal supporters to begin with, please bring your good karma with you when Germany and Portugal play on Saturday or please - do not support Portugal!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

How Can You Lose Something You Never Really Had?

After the movie marathon I had this weekend, one question remains with me. One of my all time favorite movie is. "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". I love the simplicity of the plot line. Despite the simple plot line, the whirlwind of emotions the characters go through complicates the situation. This is one movie that I listen to every word (sometimes recite it by heart) the characters say. The lines are short but powerful. As the long weekend comes to an end, I awake in the morning asking myself the same thing Kate Hudson asked, "How can you lose something you never really had?".

I don’t know what it is that I have lost, but I know the tightness in my heart means something. Could it be that I have lost the security of my old school and am now entering into the unknown? I don't know. I seem really confused right now.

When I asked myself this question in the morning, the answer was simple and logical. You can't lose something you never had because it was never yours to begin with. But after some retrospection, I think you can. You lose the memory of the thing, you lose the security of the thing... so many times in life we enter a situation knowing what we have entered into is not permanent, like a temp job, or going to school, or going a trip. Despite knowing it is a temporary state of being, when it ends, it is like a void has filled the air around us. Why does this happen? Why is there such a huge continuum between reality and emotions?

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Joys Of Loneliness

When I walk into my home on Tuesday evening, my home is a mess. Clothes are strewed everywhere, the bed is unmade and food is left in the sink. Rather then tensing up as I would normally do, I smile. I know after I clean up that evening, it will remain clean for the next week - Asif is not in town. Ahh, the joys of loneliness!

After a quick dinner, I head for bed. I place my pillows strategically around the bed forming a little cocoon for me to lie in. My head touches the pillows and I fall asleep almost instantly. Ahh, the joys of loneliness.

I receive a few calls from well wishers. I can hear them clicking their tongues sympathetically over the phone. I politely field their condolences in a soft tone - "Haan (meaning 'yes' in Gujarati), Thank You, Yes, I will come to your house if I am scared". However the expression on my face does not match the sadness in my voice. After I put the phone away, I turn on the tele, watch a sappy chick flick, and munch on nachos, salsa and sour cream. Ahh, the joys of loneliness.

When the weekend arrives, I pack my bags and head to my moms. I am received with warm hugs, great food and wonderful company. Ahh, the joys of loneliness.

The weekend is full of peace. I bond with my mother and sister in law. We go out, watch movies, pamper ourselves, flirt with cute waiters (well, my mom is more of an observer) and we all giggle like high school kids. Ahh, the joys of loneliness.

These are just some of the joys of being alone. Loneliness doesn't have to equate unhappiness. It can equate rejuvenation - it is all in how you view your alone time. HAVE FUN! Make every moment a Kodak moment!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Oops, we did it again!!

Cancer never sleeps and neither did we!

Friday June 23, 2006 marked the night 7 friends got together and attempted to fight the battle against cancer. This wonderful night that will stay in our hearts and bring HOPE into our lives for years to come was initiated and organized by the fabulous and sensational Shelina Adbulhusein. Thank you so much Shel!

Equipped with an air mattress, warm clothes, some lawn chairs and a beautiful sign ("FRIENDS FOR LIFE" - designed by my Grade 2 students), I left my house that Friday evening and made my way to Richmond Green Park with a wonderful teacher and friend - Sameena! I was filled with feelings of apprehension, nervousness and excitedness. As we struggled with our sleeping gear onto a makeshift camping ground, I began thinking about the night ahead. I wondered if I would be able to walk the whole night (esp. because all I had consumed that day was coffee). I wondered why I hadn't put more effort into fundraising. I wondered if I would fit into the FRIENDS FOR LIFE group.

Today is Saturday. The night is over. Our walk through the night is complete. Despite my aching feet, I still wear a smile on my face. Walking for the Cancer Relay For Life has been one of the best experiences of my life.

The best part of the night was the illumination ceremony. At this time, participants who had purchased a candle for someone they loved lit their candles in that person's memory or honor. Before the ceremony, the organizers recited a beautiful poem, followed by a bagpipe memorial service. Participants were then given a chance to light their candles. A hush of silence filled the air. People gathered - together, they prayed, cried, hugged and walked in silence. As we inhalled the emotions around us, we saw a little girl (I infer she is battling cancer). She was seated on her mothers shoulders. I watched the mother and daughter walk. Then the girl asked innocently, "Mom, when I die, will you light a candle for me?". Tears filled the mother's eyes and the eyes of everyone who heard the girl. I began to think about my life and about how ungrateful I sometimes am. As we walk through life, it is so hard to remember how blessed we are. This event definitely served as that reminder.

As far as my eyes could see, I saw little flames burning in white bags. On one of the hills, candles joined together to spell the word - HOPE. What a breathtaking sight that was.

The Relay For Cancer served so many purposes for me. It reminded me to appreciate my life, my good health and family. It taught me compassion for those suffering. It gave me a new source of strength - friends. In their own way, each touched my life. I learned courage and strength Fatima; I learned the value of laughter from Shel and Taseeb; I learned that physical injuries are not roadblocks (Thanks Suk); I learned the value of perseverance from Sameena and Shaista; Very importantly, I learned how to pitch a tent!

I watched the sun rise and I surrounded by people I care about. In that moment, I felt truly blessed, and truly happy.

Please recite a Surah Fatiha for all those that have departed from us.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Introduced to me by the wind - here is a poem that has inspired me!


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Friday, June 16, 2006

Intentional Double Standards

"Good morning Ms. Fazal!”, I heard a cheerful voice call to me as I was leaving the school office with my class attendance. Smiling, I turned around to greet this kind teacher - a teacher who accepted me and challenged me at the same time. This is a teacher who I thought about on days such a "Hat Day", "School Spirit Day" or "Treat Day" because he faced similar challenges as me. Both he and I are practitioners of our faith and the symbols of our faith are visible to everyone around - he wears a kippa and I, a hijab.

Slowing my pace for him to catch up, we walked to my classroom chatting. Suddenly he stopped.

"Ms. Fazal, I have a question for you. I was hoping for some perspective".

I cringed. I always cringe when a teacher says he or she has a question. I know it will be an inquiry about Islam. In our school, we have many Muslim students, and I am honored to represent these students, stand up for their beliefs and help them take care of their faith. However, questions are always hard for me because a lot of the time, I don't know the answers or the answers are hard to explain because they may be directly linked to a hadith (saying of the Prophet Mohammed) or to an ayat (verse) of the Quran. The questioners have no schema about the intricacies of Islam, which makes it harder for them to understand and appreciate Islam.

In those few moments my whipped through possible questions he may have - Could he want my opinion on the attempted terrorist attacks? As I was thinking, I could hear him speak.

"Are you going to the water park?". I nodded.

"The kids must be so excited to go". I smiled in agreement. I just wanted him to tell me what he wanted to know.

"You know the music exempted kids," he started. (Yes, I knew them quite well. These are students who do not participate in music because of religious inclinations - in other words, the Muslim students)
"I was talking to them about going to the water park..."

I quickly clued in. He asked me why the girls were not going to the water park while the boys were over eagerly applying their sunscreen. I explained to him, the girls were wearing a head scarf to ensure and preserve their modestly. Running through a water park in a bathing suit wouldn't really be an option for them.

He explained to me a conversation he had had with the girls. The girls had explained to him the hijab (head scarf) was not just the covering of hair, it included covering their eyes from men/boys who were immodestly dressed. He then asked the girls why the boys could go to the water park and thereby expose their eyes to women/girls who were in little swim suits. In typical Muslim fashion, the girls replied, "It depends of their intention". Mashalla, I was so impressed with the answers these girls gave.

The maturity of these girls left me speechless. However, this teacher was more concerned with the act of going to such a place than the act of participating in the activities in the place. He wanted to know why it was ok for the men to go to an area where women would be immodestly dressed but women were not allowed to go to these places. I didn't know what to say. It was the double standard we have grown up with. The men are allowed to go clubbing, allowed to go to inappropriate areas of entertainment, however if a girl is seen having coffee at a Starbucks past eleven o'clock, it is scorned upon. I mean, women have been discouraged to watch soccer on moral grounds, but men watch the LPGA tours and tennis with gaping mouths.

The message of condemning an act based on the gender of the person committing the act sends a message that the Islamic laws are different for men and women. From my understanding of Islam, this is not the case. The men and women will face the same consequence for their actions. Allah will not participate in gender discrimination. So why should we? Society is putting men at a disadvantage by accepting their unlawful actions. Why don't we instill the same moral values in our boys as we do in our girls? Why do we laugh when a boy tries to pick up a girl and frown when a girl so much as checks a boy out?

Let us not be unfair to the boys. If an act is unlawful, it is simply unlawful regardless of gender. The eventual consequence is the same. By following double standards, we are hurting both the girls and the boys.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Brand Name Fever

A month ago, the count down for the world cup began at my house. Asif, soccer/football fanatic, has been unable to sleep ever since he booked his tickets to Germany.

(Actually, I am quite excited about his trip as well - I can't wait for some alone time in the house. But that is another story for another blog).

Well, amidst the whirlwind of soccer mania, I feel the need to pick a team to support. My soccer vocab is limited to Beckam, Owen and Lampard. I have actually met Frank Lampard in Dubai in the winter of 2005 - he is quite the looker. But truth be told, I have no real measure of their talent except for what Asif or Minaz tells me.

After the pitiful performance of England in their match against Paraguay, I realized England is made up of a team of Name Brand Players. As we know, choosing a name brand is not always the best option. Take for example, Wonderbread. It is the most luxurious bread I have ever tasted. It smells like bread and is soft and fluffy. However it lacks in its nutrient quality. Despite the potential health hazards of Wonderbread, people continue to purchase this brand of bread simply because it's brand. I think England's team(among some other teams) can be categorized as Wonderbread. Great to look at, but lacking at the core!

After much contemplation, I chose Portugal as my team. First of all, how can I not support a country that have built a shrine of my namesake - Lady of Fatima. But more importantly, I know the cheer. Isn't cheering the most important job description of a fan?

When I looked in my fridge this morning, I saw the gleaming cover of Wonderbread hiding behind my no name bread. To make up for the brand name in my fridge, my loyalty to Portugal grew. As Asif drove me to school this morning, we sang the Portugal cheer!

Portugalale! Portugalale, Portugalale, Portugalale! PORTUGALALE!!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Deal or No Deal

Sometimes it seems like I spend my life making decisions and forming alliances - with family, friends, employers, and coworkers. Sometimes I think the way the world operates has changed the way I communicate. I have fallen prey to a very self centered, self serving way of communication. Yesterday, I realized how severe my "You do this for me, and I do this for you" communication style had become.

As I was leaving the house to rent a movie, I glanced at the staircase. Seeing two brown envelops with government cheques enclosed within it had become a familar sight for me. When I glanced at the stairs, I was expecting to catch a glimpse of these envelops. However, my eyes met the dark brown hard wood floors. There were no envelops! There was no trace of my cheques on the stairs!

I began to panic. Putting my renting aside, I searched all over the house. Unsuccessful after ten minutes, I whispered what I thought to be a prayer - "God, if you help me find my cheques, I will recite one Ya Seen". I continued my frantic search. 40 minutes later with cheques in hand, I realized I had promised to recite 3 Ya Seens and pray one two rakaat namaaz.

As I began thinking about the events of the night, I am pretty sure my whispers to Allah were not prayers, but what I had been doing was striking deals with God. I began to feel like I had been in private episode of "Deal or No Deal". The sad part about this is I know Allah has nothing to gain from my reciting Ya Seens. The only gain in this deal is mine. Yet as I sit to recite my prayers, I am filled with "aaras".

I hope this will be my final "Deal or No Deal" episode. Prayers to Allah should be done with joy and to praise, not to serve my selfish needs.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

That will be $29.99

It has been suggested by my brother in law - Anis, that women should charge men for services rendered within the household. This suggestion brings with it two problems.

The first is that of the price list. What is the going rate for washing dishes, mopping, sweeping? This is what my price list might look like.

To: Asif

Re: Household Chores

As of July 2006, please note services provided within the house will have to be compensated for. The prices quoted are for daily services provided. Please provide your wife with a work log so she may document her daily services. Payment must be made on a bi-weekly basis.

Services Price
Mopping 45

Sweeping 30
Laundry (Wash and Fold) 50 - 80 (depending on load size)
Dishes 70 - 80
Cooking 110 (this is for the service - grocery needs to be
provided. Cost may increase on weekends and during peak entertainment times)
Making the bed 20
Bathroom 100
Dusting 100

Please be advised that the prices are subject to change and services not listed may have a charge.

Is this what my price list should look like?

The second and the more important problem with this suggestion is while it is my right to charge for my service, asserting my right would change the dynamics of my relationship. We would move from a loving, kind and almost happy relationship to a marriage punctuated with dollars and cents. What a waste!

The point of my complaint was not the money. Women strive to be self sufficent. The extra dollar won't change the way we feel - it will only aggravate the situation. When my husband does not pick up after HIMSELF, it disrespects me. Our house is a reflection of our relationship. When our home is unkempt, it tells me the he doesn't care about our relationship and he doesn't care about how our relationship is reflected to others! In my books, that is disrespect.

There are somethings money can't buy (our integrity)! For everything else, there is MASTERCARD!

Friday, June 09, 2006

WIFE - Wash - Iron - Fold - Eh?

I have been noticing a trend in the conversations I have been partaking in.

Married men all seem to have the opinion the marriage has ended their freedom filled lives - RIGHT! They believe marriage has tied them down, has given them added responsibilities, and added worries. And let us not forget - constant nagging!

Married women on the other hand seem to be of the opinion that marriage has transformed their lives from a woman of leisure, style and class to woman of bleach, clorox and olive oil.

So I began thinking - something I try not to do too often. When I was engaged (ahhh... Memories of that peaceful time in my life), my then fiance, now husband, said to me, "The word, WIFE, stands for Wash, Iron, Fold and Entertain". At the time, I thought it was funniest thing I had ever heard. I bragged to my friends about my humorous husband and shared how lucky I was, to be entering into a marriage that would be filled with laughter.

Four years later, I think the joke's on me! Yes, our life is filled with giggles, chuckles and sometimes roaring laughter - but the laughter ends quickly when it comes to housework. I am the living definition of a wife - I wash, iron, fold, entertain. I cook, clean, smile and try not to nag. I, along with thousands of women, live a WIFE life believing it is the only reality we can have.

Please do not misunderstand me - I enjoy serving my family. What infuriates me is when I hear men chat about their wives and discuss how marriage changed their lives (for the worse). My question is, what changes have they made? Is it that now after marriage, they smell good, look nice, eat well, and have a well organized house? Oh my, am I expected to sympathize for these men? Am I supposed to think it is funny when a man jokes that he doesn't need a dishwasher because he has a wife? I don't think so.

I want to challenge this definition of a wife. Our lives do not have to revolve around mundane household chores. We do not need to tender our happiness to a single supplier - our husbands. Women, let us build our own identities. Let us be strong and beautiful. We will only begin to derive respect if we respect ourselves!

The next time a man tell you, "Wash, Iron, Fold, Entertain" - challenge him with "Wash - Iron - Fold -Eh?"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

High 24/7

Family, friends and ex- friends are just a few clicks away with the advent of Hi5.

The blissful life I led without Hi5 came to an end yesterday. I used to believe once you lost connections with old friends, they could no longer be a part of your life. My belief was my security! I enjoyed not knowing whether a friendship could be salvaged and not knowing the successes and joys of friends who had hurt me. Simply put, I enjoyed not knowing. It gave me a sense of power over my life and a certain kind of contentment.

Hi5 changed all that with just a few clicks. As I browsed through address books of random people, I was struck by the new, cool way of voyeurism. Not only can you look at the pictures and comments of the people in your address book, but you have access to a plethora of address books and pictures.

Hi5 does come with its advantages. It’s a great way of seeing the three degrees of separation between yourself, the people you know and the people they know.

While Hi5 is the thrilling new way to communicate, keep yourself safe. Be cautious of who you let into your address book, the pictures you post and the information you give. Beware of the time spend you spend browsing - remember to allocate time to living your life. Watching others live theirs is a poor compromise!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Injury Sustained!

I have always avoided sports especially contact and team sports, but for some reason, I felt the need to try a new sport (watching tele was getting a little old). So I joined soccer. Every Friday, a few girls meet in a small primary school gym and we run and kick (a lot of times – we are kicking each other or the air) in desperate attempts to make contact with the ball.

What I have realized is the hardest position to play is definitely midfield. When I was playing defense, it was great. By the time the players get to me, they had lost momentum. Blocking the ball was not too hard as I Stood right in front of the player and kicked. In one swift move, my job was done. Playing forward was a little harder, but this time rather than blocking, I kicked the ball in the general area of the net and hoped someone from the middle would come and lead the ball in the right direction.

Well, with 15 minutes to go, I began to play midfield. First of all, I did not realize that you have to stand in the middle of the gym. Being in the middle, center of everyone’s attention, is hard to deal with. This is the position that showed everyone my lack of talent, skill and / or coordination. I didn’t know whether to move forward or go back! I still cannot understand the job description of a midfielder!

Then it dawned on me! I am the person that moves the ball from a general direction to a specific direction – the net! I could feel the pressure rise. I felt determined to do something. All of a sudden, I see my leg stretching towards the ball and I kick as hard as I can. Rather than hearing the gratifying “thump” of the ball, I felt pain.

As I limped into my car, I realized I had sustained my first soccer injury. At this time, I am feeling mixed emotions. I definitely am in pain but at the same time, I feel proud because I didn’t back down from the ball. Despite my feelings of empowerment, I think I will stick to defense.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A teacher, a writer, a dreamer, a believer... This is an introduction of me!