Category Archives: life

Faces of my Neighborhood

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We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry. E. B. White

I am in line at the post office. A cheerful older gentleman who works there greets me and double checks that all is ready to be mailed.

As I wait in the line and my turn pops up, I am directed to a lady behind the counter. I ask her a question to which she barely answers with a mumble. The jovial gentleman looks at her and teases her, “I don’t even know why you’re up here – you can barely answer the customer’s questions!”

Visibly annoyed at him, she continues to scan my packages. I refrain from asking her questions. Maybe she’s having a bad day. Maybe she’s tired of me.

I wish that I had been served by the jovial postal worker instead.

It’s only at the end when I’m all done and I thank her, she hoarsely whispers “You’re Welcome.” I realize abashedly that her voice is gone.

 

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After dropping off Z and A in the morning, I am driving home to see the big, yellow school bus pull up earlier than usual. No students are waiting. As I drive into the neighborhood, I see a sleepy looking middle schooler ambling along. I feel like I should warn him. I slide down the window and yell, “The bus is here!” Panic awakens the sleepy features on his face and he is off running.

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The dryer churns clothes but refuses to dry them. Round and Round. Damp and Damp. At the laundromat, I am able to focus on one thing. Laundry. That in itself is a mild treat. The row of gleaming metallic dryers, the finicky machine that will sometimes give you coins for a dollar, the spacious tables to fold clothes, the wheeling trolleys to push your clothes around all greet you.

The day is grey and a bleak cold outside, but inside there are two women folding dozens of sunny yellow shirts. The perk to the laundromat is that next door is Figo’s Pasta so we find ourselves doing laundry and savoring pasta coated in spicy tomato sauce. Instead of spending a few quarters for laundry, we end up spending more for laundry, dinner, and memories.

 

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Book Review: You Will Not Have My Hate

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I was approached by Penguin to review You Will Not Have My Hate, written by Antoine Leiris.

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I reviewed the advance copy of the story. It’s available for pre-order here on Amazon, and is set for debut in 4 days, on October 25th.

The memoir is a short 129 page read, but gripping. In the story, Antoine’s wife Helene is killed in a terrorist attack in France. Suddenly, Antoine is left a widower. Their seventeen-month-old baby son Melvil cries for his mother, but never gets back. In the light of such tragedy, Antoine writes a powerful letter to the terrorists, “You will not have my hate.” His letter went viral. In his letter, he also says, “There are only two of us -my son and myself- but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.”

“We were like two little Lego bricks that fitted together perfectly,” he says about his wife.

Antoine has to deal with being alone and navigating the left over reality as a single papa. At his son’s daycare, the other mothers rotate making him and his baby homemade soup. Soup that his son does not like to eat. As a result, Antoine simply discards the soup each week.

I love how Antoine writes, “I didn’t have the courage to tell them that Melvil never tasted their homemade meals, and that the little pots could not stay in our house. Maybe this is because, even while still full, sitting on the dresser, these pots nourished our hearts with a sweet, maternal tenderness.”

Antoine’s paragraphs are short but full of emotion. The story is touching but inspiring. It’s a read that makes you yearn for a world full of peace and wish that everyone had Antoine’s courage.

 

 

The Calm Before The Storm…

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With schools closing early and things being cancelled all around me, I love the peace that comes before the storm. I love seeing the world blanketed in white looking all fresh and new. I don’t know if it will actually snow, but hoping for snow. When I used to live in Abu Dhabi, I would be mesmerized by the rare rain falling and the way drops would gather forming scant puddles here and there. In Atlanta, I am spoiled. Rain is a common thing and I no longer am as mesmerized by the constant fall of rain. However, when it snows in Atlanta, I am newly mesmerized all over.

Enjoying:

  • a cancelled gymnastics class became a time to bake brownies and facetime my grandmother in Pakistan
  • an early pick up at school became more playtime for A&Z and a time to blog
  • the birds! The birds have been feasting today at my bird feeder which makes me wonder if they are stocking up on food before the storm comes, or simply extra friendly today.photo 4 (12)
  • Instagram: In the past, I used instagram, but didn’t want to waste time by allowing followers or following people. Recently though I was told, “Isn’t instagram made for people who take photos like you?” so I now have an account that I follow people with and love the inspiration I see on there. Facebook for me is sometimes overwhelming, but Instagram is a nice way to see fellow bloggers work in a quick scroll. My cousin Ahmed or karachichaiwalla has the most amazing Pakistan photos – you can follow him here if you are an instagrammer or simply click and look through his images. Here’s a screenshot photo below!
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  • yarn again. I really want to crochet something warm in the next couple of days!
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    My computer is acting up so can’t delete the extra crochet photo. Ignore!

  • Love the confidence of 5 year olds! When we practiced for the spelling bee, Z kept spelling DOG as D-O-O-G and then as G-O-D! and WET as W-U-T and the list goes on! But she still thought she would win the spelling bee. I heard about a basketball player holding a basket ball asking kindergartners if they could throw a 3 point shot and they all raised their hands saying, “I can!” Such is the spirit of a 5 year old.

    Even with all her mistakes, Z said she wanted to win and tie the spelling bee with her cousin. She came back from school misspelling the first word she was given, Hand; she spelled it with an E. Her cousin misspelled the word ‘cow’! But she was still happy!

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    I also love knowing what words people love. Z loves spelling the word M-U-S-T and the sound of it. I love the sound of the word ‘tapioca.’ It just sounds so lovely.

     Target with ‘A’ below!

A new gallery  wall! My uncle Zia Zakaria’s painting is the first orange calligraphy one. You can look him up at Zakaria Ink here. I love his work.

Cozy Reading Time! I Love the blog A Beautiful Mess and was inspired by their book above. I also just read The Nesting Place book about having an imperfect home and LOVED it.

  1. Paint, 2. Cut paintings into strips, 3. Loop the paintings together to make a bedroom banner!
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Jeni’s Icecream – lavendar flavor Z loves!

9 Non-Goals

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Last year, I was inspired by blogger Erin Loechner, who instead of writing resolutions wrote non-goals in 2015 and 2016. Gentle ways in which you reflect back on your year and think, what did I do well in? Of course there are always things you could do better, aren’t there always?

What are the things that you slowly thrived in?

Here’s Erin’s last year quote:

“You know the drill by now, it’s non-goal time. In a month where we’re encouraged to pick apart bits of ourselves – more of this, less of that – sometimes it’s just refreshing to take a step back and see the landscape for what it is. To swim in the grace we’ve been given; leap in the forgiveness we’re granted. To just keep walking, one foot then another, without searching for a new route that might offer a quicker arrival to a destination we were never intended to seek.” – Erin Loechner

Here are my 2015 Non-Goals!

Below are my 2016 Non-Goals!

  1. You Read Lots of Books
    Reading for me is a must. When I read, I get a mini escape from my world. I was just reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and I loved seeing how her point of view. Books help you decompress, and when you need a bit of silence, and escape from the hubbub of your world, a book is one way. I don’t read every single book word-for-word if I don’t want to. I read picture books, chapter books, books for people my age with hard covers and squished up words. I have books on my dining table, books in the cabinets, books on the coffee table, books in baskets, books everywhere. I leave a few books on my dining table for me to browse through while I eat a snack now and then, and love the drawing in of words.

Also, how amazing is a library? A place where you can go and leave with a bag of books for free. Yes, to be returned, but then you get more in exchange!

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2. You Were a Little More Social

Last year, I was happy to be a little less social. I was home bound for some time when I had a health issue. I found that I had to flourish at home. Being a homebody, I was fine. However, I found that when I am well and able, being social can be good. People get happy to see you. You get happy to see them.

 

3. You Are Trying to Go on Nature Adventures

This year I actually went apple picking, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I got to go the Atlantic Ocean as well as the mountains, so it is nice to be able to reflect on the natural world around me.

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4. You Went to Coffee Shops

The wifi stopped working so ‘A’ and I went to a coffee shop. And then another. I don’t drink coffee (I don’t like the bitter taste of it), so we enjoyed our hot chocolates. I do love the smell of coffee though! I may try to go again to get actual work done. We’ll see!

5. You are Trying to Make your Home a Haven

I am trying to declutter. Trying to make the home even cozier and make peace with the things I need, the needs of 2 little ones, and the peace of the inevitable mess.

6. You Had to Promote Your Book which Meant Talking to People and Being Out There!

When you are always out everyday as a teacher, and all of a sudden become more-at-home as a mother, it is a little odd to suddenly be out more than what you’re used to. To board a plane and to meet eager minds at libraries. To receive hugs from eager-reading-children is rewarding!

 

7. To Not Force It

This year I just didn’t feel like crocheting a lot. I didn’t feel like blogging as much (had other writing tasks to focus on). Different demands took my time. I didn’t like the guilty lingering feeling I had and am trying to make peace with it. Making peace with new hobbies or lack of hobbies are good.

8. To Keep Trying

I’m itching for another book to author and am trying my hand again at writing. I am happy that I keep trying especially when giving up is so easy in the uncertain world of publishing. I also was really excited when Lailah’s Lunchbox landed on the 2016 ALA Notable Books so praying for more notable books!

9. To Appreciate Health

To know that when I am healthy to appreciate it.

When health fails, as it can do to anyone at any time anywhere to take it in stride, to turn to God, and pray your heart out.

To Appreciate health with a capital A when it returns.

 

 

And things I want to do this year and remind myself of and mini-goals:

  1. A nap is a gift. A nap is a gift. A nap is a gift.
  2. I want to do a proper cartwheel.
  3. I want to write beautiful stories. Bonus: Get Them Published!
  4. I want to enjoy cooking more. I love making playdough or baking cookies, but I want to view cooking less as a chore and see it more as a joy.

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    playdough!

  5. I want to be better about driving places that are further from me or when Atlanta traffic strikes, but understand if I don’t feel fine with going somewhere or doing something, that it is totally fine to opt out to regain myself to go out another time.
  6. I want to continue to be okay with children mess around me, to join in it as necessary, and to clean, clean, clean if I ever feel the need.
  7.  Like a spider spins a safe cocoon of a web around itself, I want to spin a web of ease, blessings, peace, health and all the good stuff around me. And with prayer and persistence, anything is possible, right?
  8. I want to frame my children’s art work and post it more in my home.
  9. I want to give away many more things that I do not need.
  10. I want to have weekends that are slow and lazy and sunshine or clouds and be at peace.
  11. I want lots of nice, white daylight streaming through windows.
  12. I want to understand the Quran meaning word for word.
  13. I want to give time to myself, to my family, to my work, to my religion.
  14. I want to be the best that I can be and appreciate all that I am and all that I ever will be. That sounds nice, not sure where I got that from?
  15. I want to eat less raw cookie dough from my freezer
  16. I want to be a pro at stretches
  17. I want to meet deadlines I create for me
  18. I want to be 5 minutes early for things
  19. I want to write mostly everyday
  20. I want to look at the sky everyday!

leaf sisters

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The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was finishing up an assignment when Z called out to me gleefully. She had opened the door window and was gazing up to the sky as dozens of leaves started falling from the sky. I grabbed my camera and captured the falling-from-the-sky-leaves. 

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Z’s new toysIMG_1768

this isn’t in Black & White, this was actually how grey the sky was!IMG_1773-2

falling leaves!IMG_1775 IMG_1776-2 IMG_1779

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evergreens looking on with amusement at the trees losing their leaves!IMG_1810-2 IMG_1814-2 IMG_1820-2 IMG_1824-2 IMG_1828-2 IMG_1834-2

Baby A’s new playground of leavesIMG_1836-2 IMG_1837-2
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love blue on girls!

“Not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry but is written in a clear record.” – (Quran  6:59).

A Tale of Turmeric

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“Each spice has a special day to it. For turmeric it is Sunday, when light drips fat and butter-colored into the bins to be soaked up glowing, when you pray  for love and luck.”
― Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniThe Mistress of Spices

My husband’s great uncle is a gentle, jovial, elderly gentleman. He speaks in a happy, booming tone of voice and likes to laugh. He is also hard of hearing. He lives in Lahore with younger family, and servants. Nevertheless, he is quite independent.

Outside their house is a small patio. On a table lies newspapers with the spice, tumeric. The maid informed me that the uncle likes to come outside and take care of his turmeric. He lays out the root on the newspaper to dry. Then after a few days he opens it and lets it dry again. Turmeric is known for its golden color. It also has health benefits and before a wedding, Pakistani brides will make a paste with it and other ingredients to give their skin a golden glow.

I wish I had a good photo of this gentleman, but I don’t. When I wanted to take a photo of him, he was drinking his chai and was talking happily with the swirls of chai steam floating around him. I did not want to ruin the conversational moment by taking out my camera, so took a picture with my mind. What I do have though, is a picture of the turmeric that he diligently tends to. I love the colour of this bold, unapologetic spice that so often stains fingers, clothes, and pots from cooking spicy Pakistani food. I like how the spice is placed on newspaper, adding a new unspoken message to the words behind it.

I like how this uncle, even in old age, has something that keeps him busy, turmeric that he tends to. Whether we’re old or young, we too need to tend to our turmeric, whatever that may be.

 

 

Elephant Stairway

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“A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi

A regular photo of stairs you may think. Actually, this photo is of a stairway that was used for Elephants to walk down at the Lahore Fort in Lahore, Pakistan. I wish I could have seen elephants walk down it in real life. Alas, right now just tourists slink down these stairs.

Another favourite photo of mine: I’m always interested in other people’s doodlings and graffiti.

Overall, we really enjoyed the fort. The lighting was gorgeous, and the weather pleasant. The grounds were gorgeous.

FYI, The public bathrooms were totally unusuable so if you’re travelling here with kids, plan accordingly Heads-up: Lahore Traffic is notorious for being bad, and it took us a long time to come and go to the Fort. However, visiting the Fort was definitely worth it! Slideshow begin…

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