Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Why Didn't Allah Come To Save Him?

I was shopping in Walmart for groceries. I had just put some bananas on the cart. Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me.

"Excuse me! How do you know which banana is good?"

I turned around. It was a middle aged lady, and she had Asian (Chinese) features, and she spoke impeccable English.

"Um ... I don't really have a method." I replied, trying to maintain the social distance. "I just don't pick ones that are too ripe."

"You are Muslim, right?"

The sudden change in conversation startled me. She had also pronounced it Mozlem.

Shields up!

"Yes, I am." I replied, suddenly wary. What was she up to?

"Look. Let me show you this." She suddenly whipped out her phone, opened WhatsApp and started to play a video. "You should see this, since you are Muslim."

"Well ..." I replied, slowly backing away just a little bit. "Why don't you just tell me what the video is about?"

I didn't know why I was continuing the conversation, but my interest was piqued. Just a bit. Let's see where this goes.

"Well this video ..." The lady paused to forward the video. "It's about a man. He was also Muslim. He had a terrible disease. For five years he prayed to Allah. But Allah did not save him. One day he saw our lord Jesus Christ in his dream. And then he was cured."

The lady then turned to fix a steely gaze at me.

"Why didn't Allah come to save him?" She asked emphatically.

"Well ..." I replied, thinking fast. "So he prayed to Allah all this time ... for four years."

"Yes, five years." She corrected me impatiently. "And nothing happened."

"And then the man saw Jesus in his dream." I said. "And he was cured?"

"Jesus saved him." The lady declared. "And Jesus can save you too. Allah didn't come for this man, but Jesus did. Why didn't Allah come to save him?"

"Maybe ..." I started to speak slowly for emphasis. "Maybe Allah sent Jesus to save this man."

The lady blinked. Time literally froze for her.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"Well ... he kept praying to Allah, so Allah sent Jesus to save this man. How do you know Allah did NOT send Jesus to him?"

"No! That's not how it works." She shook her head.

"Think." I urged her. "You believe God sent Jesus to this world to save humanity. So it's not a big deal if this God - whom we call Allah - just sent Jesus (in a dream, mind you) to save this ONE man. So what's the big deal?"

"No ... no ... no." The lady shook her head. "You are not getting it. I will pray for you."

And she walked away.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Our East Coast Canada Trip 2019

Since a lot of folks ask me about it, I thought I would summarize the total East Coast trip (Canada, done in 2019) in one post.

We drove nearly 6000 km, but it was an epic road trip!

Here is the detailed description of each of our days.

Days 1,2 - Drive from Toronto to Moncton, NB via Quebec City, QC
Our initial base was Moncton, NB and we took 2 days to get there.

Day 3 - Hopewell Rocks, Magnetic Hill
Truly a wonder of nature, to see the difference between high and low tide.

Day 4 - Saint John, Fundy National Park

Day 5 - Shediac, Confederation Bridge, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island
This was the day we toured most of the famous beaches of PEI. If only we had more days in this beautiful island!

Day 6 - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
A must see for any lover of history, especially Canadian history!

Day 7 - Baddeck, Nova Scotia (and the Bell Museum)
Get there early, as the museum closes at 5 pm, and ferries can be notoriously busy.

Day 8 - The Cabot Trail
A beautiful day of driving and sight seeing.

Day 9 - Peggy's Cove
Oh, how I wish I had spent more time here! This was more of an after thought, but such a highlight of any East Coast trip.

Day 10, 11 - Halifax

Day 12, 13 - Return to Toronto

The main reason we took to days to get there, and two days to get back is because we had kids and seniors in the group. Moreover, we did not want to rush and spend most the time just driving, but rather seeing the sights and soaking in the experience. I would advise anyone to do this trip, but keep time on your hand. If I was doing it all over again, I would add 1 more day each to PEI and Peggy's Cove.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

East Coast: Halifax (Days 10 and 11) and the Return (Days 12 and 13)

Continued from Day 9

Note: This post was slated to be published last year (yes, last year!). For whatever reason, it was missed. Now, as we are stuck in our homes during the Covid19 pandemic, I was reminiscing about a fantastic trip to Canada's East Coast last year, and realized I hadn't posted about Halifax.

Halifax is home to Dalhousie University. It is a small campus, very beautiful, neat and tidy. For some reason, when I visit cities, I like to visit their famous university campuses. Dalhousie is also one of the first universities in Canada I had applied to, and got admitted to, though I never attended as I eventually chose University of Toronto. So, in a way, it was seeing a "what-if-alternate-situation" scenario!


Halifax and Dartmouth are twice cities, separated by a body of water that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Halifax Harbourfront is a great place to sit and relax, and watch the big ships come and go.




Tired of seafood all through the trip? Well, we weren't, but when we discovered this fantastic Turkish halal eatery, why not get some meat? :-)


The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a must-see attraction when you are in Halifax, primarily because it houses some relics from the most famous sunken ship of all - the Titanic. This museum is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada with a collection of over 30,000 artifacts.


A special permanent exhibit explores the sinking of the Titanic with an emphasis on Nova Scotia's connection to recovering the bodies of Titanic victims.






The museum has the world's foremost collection of wooden artifacts from Titanic, including one of the few surviving deck chairs.





In the exhibition on the Halifax Explosion, there were fully detailed models on how the city looked a hundred years ago.


Citadel Hill (Fort George), also known as the Halifax Citadel, is another National Historic Site and you can enter with your national park pass. It offers good viewpoints to look at the city.


Halifax was a lovely city, full of greenery and parks. I don't know how it was in winter, but it is lovely during a hot summer's day.



Theodore Tugboat is a Canadian children's television series about a tugboat named Theodore who lives in the Big Harbour with all of his friends. Now, when you visit the harbourfront you can see "Theodore" still sailing there.


The last night on our East Coast trip (before we start to head back), we once again tried some halal Turkish.


The Long Return

It was now time to return home. The long drive would take two days. On the first day, we would have to make the big journey to Quebec City.

Fuel up before the drive

Crossing into New Brunswick

Irving gas stations - this was a common sight in the East Coast

Leaving Quebec City early the next morning

Finally, after so many days, you see on the sign "Toronto"

About to enter into Ontario


Finally, after 14 days, we were home! 5,731 km , lots of great seafood, adventures, memories - this was one epic road trip.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

How Taiwan Conquered the Coronavirus with Common Sense

This is Ms. Tsai Ing-Wen. She is the first female President of Taiwan. She also leads the country with the best response to COVID-19.


Let's look at some of her stats and then her steps.
Stats:
  • Taiwan is geographically right next to China, and had daily flights to Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus.
  • When the epidemic began, John Hopkins university predicted Taiwan would be the second hardest hit country.
  • Right now, they have a population of 23 million, out of which only 427 are affected, and 6 deaths. For comparison, Canada has 37 million people, more than 40,000 cases and over 2000 dead. Not to mention, Taiwan's 23 million live in an area smaller than Nova Scotia.
Now let's see how they handled their epidemic.
Short summary: Masks, hand wash, travel ban, aggressive tracking and quarantine. Also, ignore the WHO.
Result: Everything is open, economy hasn't crashed, curve is basically flat.
Details:
  • early action (from January 1, 2020). Starts to board flights from China and check passengers for symptoms.
  • Travel ban from ALL flights from Wuhan, and then China, shortly after.
  • Put a triage centre in airport to identify possible cases
  • Strict quarantine: you get paid for staying in quarantine, get food delivered to your house, get your symptoms checked thrice a day. Break quarantine and you are fined several month's salary. They would do this for all POSSIBLE cases, not just positive cases.
  • Aggressive hand washing - every public building had sanitizing stations, and you get your temperature checked before you enter. You are not allowed to enter a building if you show symptoms.
  • Masks - Everyone MUST wear masks when out. Taiwan saw they have 40 million masks in their stockpile, so they cranked up production to 10 million masks PER DAY and put a price limit on the masks to prevent price gouging.
  • They integrated travel, immigration, customs and health care databases and included cellphone tracking to identify possible cases and improve contact tracing.
  • QUARANTINE the sick, not the healthy - was their motto.

Today, Taiwan is a classic example of using common sense and the old age methods with new technology to control an epidemic. They went hard, they went aggressive - AND THEY WENT EARLY. Today their parks, restaurants, schools, offices, public services are all open, and yet their numbers are low.


Compare this to Canada where we had no travel restrictions, no forced home quarantine, no database integration, no masks (STILL NO INSTRUCTION ON MASKS), no aggressive stockpiling of PPEs, no protection from PRICE GOUGING or PANIC BUYING, no hand washing in public buildings, NO AIRPORT measures ... the list goes on.

Sources: