Ramadan beginnings

So much for doing a Ramadan blog like I originally planned. I was going to do a blog about food in Ramadan, but I haven’t been much of the Ramadan chef lately. I also thought about doing a blog about the life of a non-faster. See, Ramadan got off to a rocky start as it does every year for me. You know how the moon sighting has kind of become a ramadan tradition? Well for me the Ramadan tradition is basically throwing a pity party at the beginning of Ramadan on not being able to fast.

I swear this has been the hardest Ramadan of my life. I literally just spent 20 min crying for no reason. I was supposed to finish this blog post ages ago. Surprisingly I do have food posts to show. Rather than me cooking though, my brother did. It’s just so hard grasping that I have to really understand that there’s more to Ramadan than fasting. Or Atleast there’s a different type of fast. For me it’s a fast of the mind for sure.

I have not done nearly as much as I had planned this year. I sadly barely even prayed. I thought maybe writing would help. Anxiety is at an all-time high. I just feel like such a screw up. I’ve been told that since I screwed up the beginning of Ramadan I could Atleast try to make the most of what’s left of it.

Speaking of making the most of what’s left, I just recently found out about the passing of brother Ali Banat. Watching his story made me really sad and I never even met the guy or new much about him til recently. He said that we have to make the most of what time we have and just do Something with our lives particularly to help others. Kind of reminded me of a quote from Muhammad Ali, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your time here on earth.” Today my anxiety was at an all-time high because I imagined what it would be like if something happened to my parents. I also find myself thinking about how I’ll never marry.

I want to be a writer. In order to be a writer I have to write. I have all these stories jumbled up in my head needing to come out. It’s just been really rough when I feel like I can’t do anything in Ramadan. This used to be my favorite time of the year, now I just find myself crying. I realize it’s no longer the beginning of Ramadan, but I started this post and I’m determined to finish it. I do have food posts. I need to empty my photo album in my phone because my phone keeps telling me I have no space…oops. I was also supposed to limit social media this year, yah that didn’t happen. Maybe it’s a good thing it didn’t happen because Atleast my friends keep me sane. Anyway, I’ll be ok. God always gets me out of my rut. Here’s to hoping I don’t screw up the rest of Ramadan and I do what I thought I was going to do.

The life of a non-faster is quite complicated. It’s nice to find people who are in the same situation though because other people just don’t understand. I’ve had people assume I was faking it. I’m like uh lemme fast then and you’ll see me at my janazah at the end of the month. I realize that since I’m not fasting in the traditional sense I really have to pay attention to the part about the fast of the mind and spirit. I think this is the part that traditional tasters sort of forget in my opinion. It applies to everyone not just me. Only this year, I haven’t been able to think straight. I keep saying I’ll get my shit together, so why won’t I? There’s always something missing when I don’t fast. There’s also something missing when I feel like I haven’t cooked much either. All I can think about is writing. If I think about it I need to be it.

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“Before we were yours”

So I’m in my neighborhood book club. Basically each month we’ve been reading books I typically wouldn’t have read or didn’t grow up reading. I grew up reading Harry Potter as well as Ronald Dahl in addition to the likes of Islamic books or also 1001 Nights. As I grew up, those books have always stuck with me, but also adding others such as Paulo Coelho or Khaled Husseini. The books we read, the movies we watch are a part of our identity. This could be why some of the books I’ve read in book club I can’t relate to. They weren’t a part of my experience Atleast not totally. Some of the books may reflect what I grew up learning in school. That’s the other thing about identity, books at school weren’t anything like what I read at home, 1001 Nights being the perfect example.

Sometimes when I’m in book club I kind of dread the book I’m going to read because it’s completely out of my comfort zone as an adult reader of culture and spirituality. In fact I’m still confused as to what book I’m going to pick because I know it will be out of their comfort zone.

I’m debating between Paulo Coelho or Robert Galbraith (aka Jk Rowling or Trevor Noah.It’s taken me quite some time to finish this blog post because a lot has happened between now and when I started it. I’m having one of those moments where I’m realizing I shouldn’t have read the book so early because I thought I would forget it or have to wait too long til we meet.

Anyway, the book we are reading is called, “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate. This book was actually pretty good. Not something I would’ve normally picked up. It’s also not for the faint of heart. It’s interesting because it’s actually based off a true story not far from where I live. This woman basically set up a child trafficking business selling kids into adoption. It was pretty bizarre reading about it. For one thing it made me sad because literally anything about child abuse or abandonment or kidnapping sets me on a crying frenzy. I like books that make me laugh and cry. There wasn’t much laughing in this book. If you’re into this sort of thing about stories based off true events (I am, just not sad ones) then this book is for you.

Throughout the book, simply to keep my sanity and not be sad the whole time, I related it to something I’m good at-identity. It got me thinking all about the Islamic view on adoption. In this book, the kids’ names were changed, their name is their identity and that was basically stripped from them. In the Islamic form of fostering a kid, we aren’t allowed to do that and it makes sense. I mean, there’s so much in a name and identity. Just this past weekend I went to a wedding where the groom was a white convert and my parents went on and on about how he didn’t change his name, typical desi thinking. In my head I’m like he doesn’t actually have to unless his name meant something outside of an Islamic belief. Same thing for adopted kids. I guess I just didn’t like how their identities were driven out of them. That also made me sad along with the rest of it.

See what I mean on having to read books I can relate to? I can even think of something related to me in books I never would’ve thought to have read. I’m hoping this Ramadan I can do some more reading and writing.

Shab e miraj

Shab e miraj

So it’s the night of Shab e miraj so I thought I’d share a naat I like. It’s dawning on me that Ramadan is fast approaching. I’m usually all ready and pumped up, but I’m not. Not gonna lie, it’s been a tough year. All I wanna do I get my life together, who knows maybe Ramadan will help with that. Here’s to hoping Atleast.

I am contemplating how much I need to pray considering what day it is today. Also not gonna lie, that ain’t easy either, but I’ve been trying. It’s a gift I have sadly taken for granted.

I’m trying to think of ways to benefit from Ramadan like extra stuff I could do, I’m considering maybe doing itekaaf for the last ten days. Never done that before. We’ll see how it goes. During Ramadan I may be blogging my experience, haven’t decided.

I was also looking at my old post on Shab e meraj, man have I changed. God help us all, including me. I watched a video on it and I was reminded that the event came after the Prophet (PBUH) dealt with very difficult times in his life. Maybe there’s a lesson in that, that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The Qur’an does say that with hardship comes ease.

Anyway, naats help. So here’s a naat for Shab e miraj.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KlRoCuiGlW4

What has meaning?

Ok so I always seem to have these really random dreams and I’m one to think that random stuff means stuff. Like does it pertain to my anxiety or what?

So anyway, last night I had a dream I was in a desert. I was with my parents and we somehow ended up in a stampede of camels. It was basically like the stampede in Lion King except just camels. We were right in the middle of it. Somehow we got out. I’m pretty sure I woke up laughing. Like 1. How did we get out of that? 2. What kind of random dream is a stampede of camels? Could it have to do with how distracted I am? The daunting possibilities that lie ahead.

Gallery: The many faces of life in Pakistan

Gallery: The many faces of life in Pakistan

Photographer Danial Shah wants to show the world a view of his country that is rarely seen in news stories.
— Read on ideas.ted.com/gallery-the-many-faces-of-life-in-pakistan/

Happy Pakistan Day! I always love showing the Actual Pakistan, not what’s in the news. I’ve been thinking a lot about Pakistan lately and its mountains. They say that mountains are where you spiritually find yourself-or something to that effect. I wonder if any disabled person has ever climbed the highest peaks. Not that I would want to. I like mountains from a distance ok. Yours truly is deathly afraid of heights. I like the idea of climbing a mountain, not actually doing it. Besides the only ones I’ve seen so far are the mountains and hills of Islamabad, I haven’t even gotten to the really huge ones. Knowing me I would probably fall off a cliff or be throwing up off the side of a cliff. Same goes for all the mountains I want to see in Ireland. They look pretty in pictures that’s it.

Cover picture: A Sikh temple in the middle of the mountains in Saidpur Village from a picture I took myself about a year and a half ago.

Once a kid always a kid

Once a kid always a kid

At least in my case, being a kid is so much easier than being a grownup. Now I know I am a grown up and have grown up responsibilities, but occasionally doing stuff from my childhood is still allowed.

Stories for kids are so utterly important and I’m only realizing this now when I think of the story I promised a certain kid I would write. Even if we read stories about magic and dragons, they can shape who we are as adults. The bravery that comes with fighting off dragons or the kindness when you befriend said beast.

These stories can help you shape your view on society like with what Harry Potter always does. The magic of a series like Harry Potter is that not only does it allow a child to escape their world once in a while, it also allows them to dream and then allows that child to grow into adulthood and see the comparisons of real life right before their eyes. This alone illuminates a sense of bravery in said child.

So, since I love stories with magic and dragons juxtaposed with real life so much, I say be a grown up kid! Do things you still did when you did when you were a kid! Totally the reason why I still drink Ovaltine…in my special big kid mug.

A Dream Within a Dream

A Dream Within a Dream

Inception Just happened. I think I just had a dream within a dream.

So it all started when I was listening to the audio of this book I’m reading for book club. Now, audio books are a new thing for me so I won’t get into whether or not that’s why I’m not that into the book, partly because I can’t figure out if that’s why. Anyway, so I fell asleep.

When I fell asleep I clearly dreamt I fell asleep in my parents’ bedroom. It was midday when I woke up and my parents were in the kitchen and they were totally fine with me taking a nap in their room because let’s face it I never sleep and at least I fell asleep somewhere. I was still tired so my dad said I should go back to bed so I did and that’s when it happened. I know that’s a dream because I woke up now and my dad is still at work.

I fell asleep in their room and dreamt I was in Makkah. I know I dreamt I was in Makkah because we were right by the door of the hotel and for some reason neither my mom or I was in my abaya yet and we had big bags of our abayas and my other stuff I always have with me and we were changing into them. While I was changing and also freaking out thinking I forgot my abaya, classic me anxiety in the dream, I was on Snapchat. I distinctly remember video clipping the hotel so I could juxtapose the modern day shops with what was right outside. Also pointing out that Masjid Al Haram was in fact Right outside. This wasn’t new to me because we always stay in the hotel right across the street from it. I hear my mother’s voice calling my brother and I woke up. I legit thought I was gonna wake up in my parents’ bedroom. I didn’t I’m in my own bed.

I’m not sure if I should be more confused about having a dream within a dream or the fact that it was in Makkah, Again, at least partially anyway, or why we weren’t in abayas and were changing into them right outside the mosque and not the hotel room. We didn’t get into the masjid and I woke up. This part all took place in the hotel. Is God trying to tell me something? Could I be anymore confused? Such is my life.

Out of place in place

“That’s a great way to make a writer…be a little out of place everywhere.”-Lin-Manuel Miranda

So I was just watching a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about bringing “Hamilton” to Puerto Rico. I haven’t seen “Hamilton” yet, but I Will. I’m dying to see it. Anyway, he talked about belonging to neither here nor there and I thought to myself it’s wonderful to know that there are people out there who feel the same way as I do regarding my heritage and where I grew up.

How do I manage to feel In place in a world where I feel out of place? The answer is, don’t listen to people. I know, that’s ridiculous advice coming from me, but in this case it makes sense.

I’ve literally spent my whole life thinking about not belonging to one particular culture when I should be trying to belong to the culture I make for myself. That is what part of being a hyphenated American is about. This entire sense of self has made us as hyphenated Americans who we are. Our experiences shape our realities. So what if all my life I’ve tried to balance where I grew up and my lineage.

You know what? Lin-Manuel Miranda is right. That Is where the best writers come from. Stories of brave young girls figuring out their places in this crazy world when their place is right where they are meant to be at that moment. Their bravery and strength comes from their experiences and who they are. Being a first generation American or a first generation Anything is tough. I get it, I really do. What’s also tough is not knowing whether you’ve bridged the gap or got stuck in a divide. The best part about it all is the creativity that comes from all this knowing that something good can come from who you are and your place in this world.

It makes perfect sense to say one place is your home while the other is your homeland.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day

Soooo I’ve always said I really wanna go to Ireland and I’m an honorary Irish person, although I know a lot of people argue that Pakistanis are more like Scottish people. I could totally be Irish. So in honor of my honorary Irish-ness and my love for combining cultures, here’s a song from a Canadian/Indian/Irish band. I knew the tune was an Irish tune, but I was unaware until a friend told me that it really is from a traditional tune. Anyway, here you go: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MRPztZRJ76w

Tartar Sauce

So I attempted to make tartar sauce today since I figured out I like relish but I don’t like big slices of pickles and it also has to be mixed in with something. Only problem is, there are too many different kinds of mayo and I think I got the wrong one. It’s Actually super easy to make. I just put Mayo, relish, onion, and lemon. I didn’t really measure. Since it tasted weird I added some roasted garlic & herb powder and black pepper. I ended up with this big bowl cuz nobody else wants it. I guess I can put it on a bunch of foods. I need ideas on what to cook in Ramadan