Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 - My Year In Review

When I did my 2005 year review, I began with the statement that "2005 did not carry much significant milestones". Although nothing much happened in 2006 either, a lot occurred during the year that helped me grow and mature as a person.

Ya, whatever.

First up, January saw me go through a weird psychological experiment. I also got irritated at a person I know who keeps going for Hajj repeatedly (yes, he is there again this year)and I classified Bengali uncles watching cricket. The long time Liberal government of Canada fell.

February saw the now infamous cartoon controversy burst forth. When it first came out I thought it was a fantastic PR opportunity for the Muslim governments. My cousin was scolded by a Jamaican for having 3 kids with the same woman. February 21 was observed with style on MSN. I wrote about the challenges of organizing a brown ski trip, particularly if it involves asking ladies their weight.

An inspiring true love story was March's main post, as Bush tried to play cricket. I wrote about the Top 5 Cool Things About Being a Desi. A remarkable cricket game occured at the Wanderers. U of T put up Bornona, their signature annual show. I am sure you all remember what happened to my cousin when he tried to give us marital advice on the sly.

In April, I tried a bit of superstition to help Bangladesh win (again) against Australia, but it didn't work. An aunty sat in my car and listened to my song. The issue of 'lowly Asian' workers in the Middle East has always bugged me, so I wrote about it here. To this date that post has gotten the maximum comments (followed closely by my post criticizing Vivah, so I wonder where people's priorities lie).

If you toss this coin and call 'Heads' do you win? May also saw an insane Toronto transit strike.

If you are going to meet someone 'at the food court' (you know what I mean) you may want to read this. The world cup was on (I made some predictions - the best of which was France will beat Brazil) which led to lots of cars sporting flags. A survey said desis are really rude people, so I had to respond.

July saw me encounter a sad example of a man on the subway, while I read of a brave woman in Bangladesh. I listed reasons why guys should remain single. Italy won the world cup.

A truly hilarious conversation at a park, and I posted my Minebuster video. I saw KANK and it left me troubled.

Arriveth September. With zero experience of women, I decided I was the perfect guy to write about why guys and girls are different and girls really have it wrong. It's probably posts like those that are the reason why I continue to have zero experience with women. I went on a safari. I visited New York, and reflected on my TA experiences.

October saw Jack Straw comment on the veil, and I had to put my take on it. Dr Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize, and naturally I was very proud of him. As far as size goes, mine is this big (I am talking about laus, naturally). I maintain that Bengali husbands are the most hen pecked of the desi lot. This post was from the heart, an eventually won an award too.

In November I noted why being the first born has its unique perks and cons, joined Facebook, had lunch with a nurse, dissed Vivah, and decided I didn't want to go to Bangladesh for the break.

December, I won an award and read about why Indian wives could be unhappy. RIS was obviously the main event of December. I started with a reminder of things not to do, before I attended the event (recapped here and here). Highlight of RIS apart from the religious aspect: meeting a few other bloggers and blog readers.

And oh, I had a talk with my blog. She's doing fine now. We are still on speaking terms. She was a bit angry after I decided to call hot girls hot. Who am I to decide what girls should find offensive, I was told.

See you in a year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

On the "Hotness" Question

I was reading a friend's blog post on how she gets offended when someone uses the word 'hot' to describe a woman. She is not unique, I know many people like that.

I was at RIS when a hawker at a stall in the bazaar, while talking to a female friend of mine, described her a hot Trinidadian. Now this was in an Islamic conference! And of course my friend was all indignant and angry.

Moreover, when told about behaviour of aunties when picking brides for their wives, where the aunties would display the pictures of prospects on a table and then pick and choose, based on beauty alone, girls usually start foaming around the mouth.

"Hah, what about personality, what about this, that..."

Let me add my two cents here as a man.

Every man wants a hot wife. There. Now you know. I would love my future wife to be hot (for me alone). I would love to compose poems for her beautiful eyes or hair or whatever. I would love her to come sashaying down the stairs in a beautiful dress (be it a Western dress - shoulders covered of course, or be it a beautiful lahenga or a sari, or even the lowly shalwar kameez, or be it just a T-shirt) but every man wants a physically attractive wife. In other words - hot.

Now beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. While one may like long hair, another may like a curvaceous figure while yet another may prefer a tall, lanky girl, while others may base their criterion on voice, and so on. You will notice these are all physical attributes.

One thing girls forget about aunties selecting girls based on looks is that these girls have already been pre-screened by other factors. For example those girls would have been daughters of their friends, or some close relative, or of similar education, wealth and social standing, etc. In other words, similar mentality and compatible background. You know, for example a girl a university degree is bound to be smart, and so on. So looks are secondary. I have always told my parents I don't care (much) for looks, a girl has to be a good girl. Decent values. She doesn't even need to like Hindi movies. Most important is that we click.

Also, what about girls? Don't girls look for "presentability"? As in 'my guy has to be presentable'. He has to be tall. Smartly dressed. Not have a FOB-by accent. Rich is very good.

Of course girls are not superficial here. No no, then they are looking for "stability". Which is good for a marriage. As opposed to us men who are just superficial chauvinistic pigs who just want a doll. Sure.

I used to think girls who used to say "guys are superficial if they concentrate on looks" are ugly themselves. That opinion has changed as I met - "hot" - women who think similarly. So why do they get offended at the word "hot"?

As a guy, if some girl called me hot I would not mind (hehe) but I am comfortable with my body. Although when I go to the gym I am thinking of Shiney Ahuja (that's the body I want to build since John Abraham is now out of reach with his long hair - for those of you on my MSN list wondering what "Project John Abraham Failed" meant this was it).

I find it's usually girls who I consider 'hot' are not the ones that are physically the most attractive but those that are comfortable in their own skins.

2006 - Bollywood

Best Bollywood Movies I Saw:
  1. Lage Raho Munnabhai
    "Turn the other cheek" was never this entertaining! Not to mention Vidya Balan, what a woman. Bole to ekdum solid movie hain.
  2. Jaane-e-Mann
    An unexpectedly good mushy romantic comedy. This movie, spoofing Bollywood cliches, has a heart. Great movie.
  3. Don
    The day when Bollywood decided to be on par with Hollywood.
    People don't leave Don, they leave this world.
  4. Phir Hera Pheri
    Akhsay Kumar. Paresh Rawal. Enough said.
    Not to mention a hot Rimi Sen in Mujhko Yaad Sataye Teri.
  5. Omkara
    A seedy, R-rated, rural Indian depiction of the Bard's Othello. Gripping.
  6. Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
    For all the controversy and soul searching it generated. I loved the cinematography.
  7. Dor
    Simple and poignant and to the point. My take here.
  8. Vivah
    Yes I dissed the movie. It took me 2 days to watch it because I ran out of patience at the slow parts and resumed later. But the ending redeemed it. Sort of.
  9. Apna Sapna Money Money
    An entertaining movie. Paisa vasool.
  10. Pyaar Ke Side Effects.
    A "loser talks to camera" movie that is genuinely funny. The Scoreboard scene was the 'Scene of the Year'. A funny spoof on relationships. My take here.
Worst Bollywood Movies I Saw:
  1. Rang De Basanti
    A rubbish movie. Let's line up all the politicians and shoot them, said one uncle at a party. And the director took this to heart.
  2. Umrao Jaan
    Considering the original was a great movie, this was a surprisingly boring take.
  3. Dhoom 2
    An overhyped music video, with zero script and can be generously described as "which bicep of Roshan Jr. to focus on now".
  4. Fanaa
    Great songs, good acting. Nonsense climax. A date movie.
Worst Movie of the Year Ever:
  1. Superman Returns.
    What a bore. Superman is a wimp.
Drool worthy Person Of The Year:
  1. Vidya Balan

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Email from Mom

I come home at 1 am last night. The holidays are playing havoc with my body clock. So I am not sleepy at all. I switch on my laptop.

1 new email. From mom. Titled "important email from ammu".

OK.... wondering what it could be, I click on it.

"mezba there is noodles in the fridge for u n Sis.
if u wish to eat take half n leave half for her."

Truly we are in the twenty first century. No more post-it notes on the microwave in this house.

Monday, December 25, 2006

How I Celebrate Christmas, RIS Final Day

I would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone.

Ten years ago when I landed in Canada from the Middle East I would not have said that. Call it my evolution over the decade I am in Canada but now I realize wishing someone well on their occasion of joy does nothing to diminish what is yours, but only adds to the mosaic that is ours. Yes some people may argue that Jesus (peace be upon him) was not really born on December 25, but you know, ultimately in this instance it's not what is right but what is good. And no one can deny that Christmas is a good time.

Yes, even though I may not celebrate Christmas in the religious sense as having a Christmas tree or going to church (I am a Muslim after all) I do enjoy the festive season. As the days get shorter and darker, as the temperature falls and a sense of gloom descends with the weather that will not falter until March, it's nice to slip into the malls and marvel and the embellished decorations and glitzy lights. It's fantastic to see crowds of people roving around with smiles on their faces. And yes, you can't deny it, people are generally in a better mood in December, and you can't but help being caught up in smiling and being festive - good behavior is infectious. Not to mention all the bargains that can be had.

Add to that all the free food you can eat at various Christmas parties and the sense that you are under no pressure (after all I don't have to buy gifts, look for and decorate a Christmas tree or have a dysfunctional family over for dinner) I would dare to say Muslims have a better time over Christmas than many Christians themselves!

Of course our Eid is coming up shortly (December 31) so there is that pressure to come. Fortunately we have Boxing Day (in Canada) in the middle (December 26) to shop for our gifts.

* * *

I hooked up with Nowal of Baby Brown Tales, and Isheeta. I asked Nowal before the conference if she was going to be a hijabi, and her reply? "I am not a hijabi and it would be hypocritical of me to be one for three days. When I do it, I will do it sincerely." Kudos. Nowal, you deserve all the poetry written for you.

As for Isheeta, well what can I say. The girl is one fun desi. She is like her blog, spontaneous and fun and so refreshingly genuine. She had the greatest smile. Isheeta seemed to have a great time at the conference, and persuaded me join CAMP to boot. In spite of all the chaos, she and I managed to run into each other. She looked radiant and was so modest too. I had a great time talking to her. OK I will shut up about the girls now.

Also hooked up with Jafar (he had a blog before but now is publishing editor of the Bengali Chronicle). He reads my blog! I feel so humble. Not to mention a bit... egoistic. Shame shame. Must not be arrogant. Hai Allah! What have I learned in the three days?

* * *

The final day of RIS was also one of the best. I really had a good time over RIS this year. Call it a combination of meeting various interesting people, hearing supremely good speakers who gave genuinely good and inspiring speeches, I left the convention feeling genuinely proud of being Muslim, following Islam and being a Canadian. I am a Western Muslim, not a Muslim living in the West. At this conference I heard from a rabbi, a collection of imams and even a Christian. How many Islamic conferences in the lands of Islam can claim that? Not to mention there was an "Islamic" concert (but that is a story for another day).

Sheikh Abdullah ibn Bayyah started talking on the virtue of moderation. It was just too bad he could not speak in English. So he talked in Arabic for 15 minutes, before Sheikh Hamza Yusuf translated for us, and the process was repeated a few times.

I know some people complained about the need for Bayyah to speak at all, but I beg to differ. Think about it for a minute. The man is 80. He is going on Hajj after the conference. He travelled thousands of miles from Saudi to Canada, just to give a couple of speeches, and then fly back the next day. The man was genuinely enjoying his time here, and he is a scholar's scholar. All the present day moderates learnt from him. He clearly loves this young crowd and has a vast treasure trove of knowledge to share. While listening to him, I did not feel it was too bad he didn't know English. I felt it was too bad I didn't know Arabic. His talk was criss-crossed with examples and truly the man is a gem. It is too bad he will be marginalized in Saudi power circles because he speaks the truth.

He talked about how the soul has a tendency to go to one extreme or the other and struggle for Muslims is to find the middle ground where we assimilate the good of other societies but hold steadfast to our resolute values. He talked about why Shariah law is more than just what it is made out to be and why it is not necessary for minorities. He talked about the danger of treating laws as absolute. For example, it was a time of severe draught and people started to steal. So Umar, the tough one, actually relaxed the punishment of theft because of the circumstances. This was just one example that stuck in my mind, he gave lots of examples.

Tareq Ramadan as usual was great and me, as usual, was out doing something else so I missed most of his talk. Bad, bad me.

Tareq Suwaidan as usual was charismatic and very, very good. He gave a talk of the four rulers after Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the lessons we can learn from them. He also talked about how Islam is a river and not a line.

Islam is a river because a river has boundaries and once you step out of those bounds you are out of Islam. But once you are in the river itself, anything within those boundaries is Islam. So this is Islam, that is Islam and that is also Islam. This is why terro rist groups are so bad, they have a strict understanding (a wrong one too) of Islam and anyone who disagrees with them is a non Muslim and target for terro rism. Islam is a river and that river moves, ebbs and flows with time. It is flexible, and changes and adapts with times. Once that constant reformation is gone, so is the power of our Islam.

The final session, by Imam Zaid Shakir and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, was mind blowing, in particular by Yusuf. It just ROCKED. You had to be there. The men made you feel proud of who you are, confident as to where you are, and conscious of where you want to be. I am going to have to buy the conference DVD when it comes out.

So all in all, three very well spent days.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

RIS 2006 Days 1 and 2

I am having too much fun at RIS.

First, there are the bloggers. I met a couple of bloggers I wanted to meet for some time now. And then, there were the blog readers.

Imagine if you will, me standing right outside the prayer hall, after the prayers, waiting for my friends. I being less religious of course had prayed faster, hence the reason I was waiting. And suddenly, from nowhere, this girl comes into the picture.

“Hey you are Mezba right? I read your blog! I LOVE that blog.” (And don’t worry, the next sentence was “So does my husband!”)

Repeat twice and all of this was already worth the $40 admission fee.

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf was genuinely funny. He followed the rabbi (who was good but dragged a bit near the end). When talking about the level of corruption in Muslim countries, Yusuf said that most of the world’s top corrupt countries were Muslim countries. In fact, Nigeria and Pakistan constantly tussled for the position of the no. 1 corrupt country. He joked that Nigeria only won because they bribed Pakistan for it.

He also talked about how Muslims love conspiracy theories.

“We all learned that Humpty Dumpty fell from the wall and all the King’s Horses and Men tried to put him together, but they couldn’t. In the Muslim world, they believe Humpty didn’t fell, he was pushed. And all the King’s Horses and Men just pretended to try to put him together again.”

Then there was Dr Tariq Ramadan. You would have loved him Suroor! In fact, my commentator Mango Addict and I think he secretly reads your blog. He spoke about ALL the issues you blogged about for the last few days - women’s space in the mosque, the bad treatment towards converts, wives’ rights, minority rights, racism amongst Muslims, inferiority complex of non-Arab Muslims and the superior religious value placed on Arabic items, and so on. His best quote I liked was “We Muslims spend too much time idealizing the past and dreaming about the future, while doing nothing about the present.”

Dr Tareq Suwaidan the charismatic Kuwaiti sheikh was present too. He talked about how the Prophet was also an ordinary human being, and cited an example of where one his wives was so angry with him (her husband) that she did not speak to him from the morning to the evening, and refused to do what he asked her to do. I can so imagine Isheeta commenting here “wow even the prophets had issues with women!”

Then there was Robert Fisk (world famous war correspondent), Haroon Siddiqui (editor in chief of the Toronto Star), Dr Quick (a renowned scholar of Africa who spoke about Darfur) and so on. Some of the speakers do tend to get a bit long winded but over all it was a stellar line up.

Dr Quick’s speech on the first day of how Euro-centric our manipulation of history has become was specially interesting. He said Colombus could not have discovered America in 1492 as there were already people living here. It’s like, he explained, him landing in Toronto today and claiming “I discovered you.” It puts great emphasis on the Europeans as civilized beings and the achievements of the aboriginals as something not noteworthy. He said history records the Dark Ages, yet the light was not off in Asia, Arabia, Northern Africa, Spain during the Dark Ages, they had enlightenment.

So what did I learn from the first two days?

Well, first, some beautiful people read my blog (and their husbands).

Second, those bloggers I met are really nice and super cool people.

Third, ok, sunnah is really important, but what is important is not the ritualistic act but the message and spirit behind the act. For example, when the Prophet put on Yemeni suit for greeting a diplomat, it doesn’t mean a Muslim diplomat had to put on a Yemeni suit to greet a diplomat but rather the fact that the Prophet put on his smartest looking suit to greet foreign dignitaries that is important.

Fourth, and this was really humbling. Four of us decided to pray Isha earlier than the scheduled congregation time, so we could leave early. I became imam and led the prayer for three of my friends. When I finished saying the salam, I turned around and saw that over 50 people had joined our little jamaat.


Fifth, Union Station is really crazy at night. I overheard one girl say to another, “he is one sexy girl.”

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Talk With My Blog

I had a talk with my blog this morning. Naturally, it was a she.

"Hi, honey, how are you?" She said.

"I'm good, I'm good." I replied hastily, looking for my socks.

"Where are you going?" She asked.

"RIS." I replied. "And I have to leave quickly if I want to make the Jummah."

"We hardly spend any time together anymore." She suddenly started to moan. "You have changed."

I looked at her, sighed, and then sat down at my desk. "It's not true."

"Oh, yes." She sniffed. "It has been almost a week since you posted on me. I remember when we first met, and started to get along, you would post every day! Sometimes even twice a day. And then you began to get bored of me. Twice a day became once every two days, then once every four days, and now... this!"

"It's not like that," I tried to cut in, but she was on a roll.

"Before, you used to check me every hour for a comment, and then reply immediately. Now it will be a day as the comments lie around, before His Highness gets to approve them and then if he feels like it, reply."

"It's not true." I protested. "I have just been Super Busy with work. Everyone was winding down for the Christmas holidays, we had to do this, we-"

"Oh, please! Don't get coy with me." She hissed angrily. "I know you have been spending time with those other witches."


"Yes, what's her name? Yes, Ms. Facebook. And that other blog, Crescent Canuck."

"Oh honey," I tried to soothe her. "they are just friends. It's you who's my true love. My first. I only love you. I swear!"

"Really? Then how come you never write poetry for me anymore? I know you wrote one for Achelois!"

"No you are being ridiculous!" I got angry. "I don't want to talk about this anymore! I am going to RIS and we will discuss this when I get back."

As I stepped out of the door, I could hear her vent, "And where is that article you promised me? You liar."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Don't Be Cruel To Dogs

I hope for their sake some of those two-bit so-called scholars don't run into me. I have some questions which may throw them off guard.

For example today when I was returning from our office lunch (we chose Little India on Queen Street, and I was the only brown guy there eating lunch, and everyone asking me what the dishes were - great food btw), a dog crossed my path, very close to me.

Involuntarily I stepped back due to years of training. I was going to go for prayers later and didn't want my clothes to be "dirtied".

When I came back home I did a little google search on the issue. There was some interesting findings. For example, did you know that the Malikis do NOT consider the dog's saliva to be "najas", or impure? For the other madhabs that do consider it impure, here is how to "clean" an utensil or cloth if the dog touches it.

Purifying a container that a dog licks is done by washing it seven times, the first time with pure soil (that is, water mixed with earth until it becomes muddy).

Now my question is - this was in the sixth century. Do we still have to do this? I mean, we could have something like this:

I am doing my part in modernizing Islam!

My fupi (aunt) had a small dog in Bangladesh. As a kid, every time I would be at their place we would play for hours with the dog. It's name was Magic and it was a very friendly and small little fellow. Yes, she did keep the dog in its own place and didn't allow it in the house, and we had to wash up after our games, but it was a great pet. Nowadays I wouldn't keep a dog because it's too much work, but it would be hard to tell it to remain outside when it's -40 C.

My point is, some Muslims are very cruel to dogs for no reason. I have seen street urchins on occasion throw stones at dogs and no one says boo to them. Try it with a cat and see. For some reason, cruelty to dogs is kosher. To those people, I would just like to relate the following incident.
One day, a dying dog approached a follower of Mohammed (pbuh). The man had no means with which to procure water for the dog, for wells in the desert dry up quickly. He noticed a small pool of muddy water in the vicinity. He tore his shirt, soaked it in the water, placed the dog in his lap and moistened its mouth with the wet cloth. Another Arab who saw this went to the Prophet and said, "One of your followers has touched a filthy animal, a dog, and should therefore not be allowed back here again."

Mohammed (pbuh) questioned, "What was he doing to the dog ?"

"I do not know, but I saw him moistening its mouth with a torn piece of cloth dipped in muddy water," replied the man.

"He is a better Muslim than you are, because he is kind to animals," said the Prophet.

Something to think about the next time people start bickering about trivialities.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I have been tagged by Suroor. She wants to know six weird things about me. Hmm. My first weird thing is when I get tagged I change the rules of the tag. So let me tell you about the six weirdest things I have ever done.

1. WALKED down Blue Mountain. Yes, people go there to ski, usually. That was my plan. The very first time I went skiing, with a few other beginner friends, someone thought it would be a funny joke to tell us that black diamonds were the beginner trails. After getting sick of falling two seconds after spending five minutes trying to stand up, I took off my skis, swung them over my shoulder and walked, WALKED, down the hill. Took me three hours and 10 lbs, and I invented a lot of new swear words. Now of course I LOVE skiing.

2. Drove nine hours to Indianapolis. Right after spending the previous evening watching Star Wars Revenge of the Sith with friends till midnight, then playing cards and hanging out till 4 am, before catching just an hour's nap. I was the sole driver. Oh boy was I half hungover by the time we got to the Indy.

3. Decided not to go to an India-Pakistan game when they were playing in Toronto. If that wasn't crazy enough, it was that game. The one where Inzamam took a bat and went up the stands to beat up the fan who kept calling him "Aloo".

4. Prayed to avoid kissing a girl and almost kissed a guy. OK this deserves a bit more explanation.

I did a CPR certification while in college, when I volunteered for the local community, and part of my duties was supervision of the kids' swimming pool. So we are all paired up, and then the instructor starts talking about Mouth-to-Mouth-and-Nose Resuscitation, or the kiss-of-life. My partner was this blond girl, and then the instructor says there will be a practical at the end of the course.

It was at that stage in life where I avoided girls like the plague, and all of a sudden I have to touch, no, do MOUTH-TO-MOUTH to a girl? So I said a silent prayer.

And what happens, she misses the practical, and the instructor partners me with this Indian GUY. Holy shit.

Thankfully, we didn't have to do that practical, but the instructor had us say what we would do. Man was that guy ever graphic.

"I would first clean his nose way .... Vada vada vada... then I would put my mouth over his and cover his .... vada vada vada..."

And all the time I was thinking man if you were ever drowning in the pool and I knew I would have to give you the kiss of life to save you, I would rather you die...

5. Took a music course during university as a 'birdie' course. I think it was the same friend who told me black diamonds were easy that told me this course was smooth sailing.

We had a listening comprehension during the exam. They would play a piece and then ask you if the piece used four violins or five.

Thank God for the Chinese guy sitting in front of me ...

6. And the number 6 on the list of weird things I did...

Compiling a list of 5 other weird things I did and post them up on the web.

There! I don't usually tag people but seeing that these two would complete the set of prominent Canadian Bengali bloggers, I decided to tag Nowal and the Bengali Fob.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Drink MilK LuV LiFe

Since everyone seems to posting pictures of their cats, I thought I would follow the crowd too. I love the WTH expression on the little one's face, it was one of those pictures that captured the moment perfectly. I don't know why but I love this picture.

Got milk?

One Book and Three Movie Reviews

White Teeth

Abu Sinan tagged me with a book meme; I will just change the task slightly (I know it's not allowed but... ).

What is the last book that you bought and why? What was good or bad about it?

The last book I bought was White Teeth by Zadie Smith. A friend had recommended it to me.

Usually when girls recommend a book to me, especially by a brown female writer, I stay away from that book. Those books tend to be very weepy weepy (you know what I mean), written by an elitist person who hates her own culture and puts forward every negative aspect of their community in a very stereotypical manner. Brick Lane by Monica Ali is a prime example. I HATED that piece of trash.

Thankfully White Teeth was not like that at all. My friend had good taste. It deals with multiculturalism, race issues and assimilation of immigrants into Britain. There is a white guy (Archie) and a Bangladeshi British (Iqbal) and the story is about them and their families and children. Although it deals with some serious issues (racism, terrorism, white supremacy, desi ghettos) it never loses its fun factor. At times therefore it may appear cartoonish, but on the whole it's a good read.

Ultimately I judge a book by it's put down factor - whether I want to go on reading and finish the book at one go or I need to take a break because it is too deep/boring/heavy. White Teeth definitely belongs to the former category. If I could compare it to one other book, it would be The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (another excellent book).


Mel Gibson is noted for blood and gore in his movies.

Ignore the Mayan dialogs and the incomprehensible title. This is not a bad movie. It does not touch the heights of Braveheart but amidst all the beheading and chopping of limbs and spears driving through hearts it's hard not to draw parallels between what is happening on screen (tribes fighting each other before the white Europeans destroy a civilization) and Iraq, or the pillaging of our environment. For some reason it was not as powerful as it sounds here but it was there. I have a feeling that guys would not mind having spent 10 bucks at the end of the movie, but girls would feel cheated.

It's not a great movie because of some reasons. The subtitles, for one. In one scene (after the 1000th killing) one of the Mayans turns and says something to another. Subtitle: "He's f***ed." And too much gore is another reason.


I (heart) Albion/Woodside cinemas (the local Indian cinemas of Toronto).


Because when we wanted to see this hyped up movie, we found out it wasn't playing at any of the Indian theaters, but at the famous English theaters. Yes I know Woodside has some problems. The seats. The fact that if a tall sardar with a huge turban seats in front of you, there goes your movie. And so on. But it somehow feels wrong to watch a Hindi movie at an English theatre. Not to mention that there was no intermission. I don't care how comfortable your seat is, staying seated for 3 hours is tough.

Baabul was a great movie. Yes it dealt with some traditional stuff. But it was also dealt with an uncomfortable truth. What happens to widows? Even though the film dealt with a Hindu family, cast your mind to Muslim widows. How many have a life after the death of their husband? The second half was a bit gloomy though. The acting was good. For some reason Rani Mukherjee didn't look as good as I wanted her to.

Apna Sapna Money Money

Consider this scene.

Girl: I always thought when I meet that someone special, there would be guitars playing in my heart.
Guy: Why don't we do one thing You hug me, in such a way so that my face is resting between your boobs. Then you close your eyes, and while I sniff your scent like a pervert, you tell me if there is a guitar in your heart.
[Girl does as suggested. Song "Dil Mein Baaji Guitar" starts to play]

Can you take such a movie seriously? No! And that is precisely why this movie is so enjoyable. It is full of gags and comic scenes. Every five or ten minutes you are bursting into a chuckle or laughter at the sillyness (on purpose) of the gags. It's a thorough timepass paisa wasul film.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Few Things To Remember At RIS

A lot of people are going for RIS - one of the biggest Islamic gathering of young Muslims in the world. To them, I would like to offer a few... suggestions.

1. When you do wudu, please do not leave the washroom as if a tsunami has just passed through it. Allah said to wash your feet, not wash your feet and everything within a 10m radius. Put foot in sink, wash, take out. If you splash water around, mop it with a paper tissue. It's your water. Remember, cleanliness, 50% of imaan, and all that?

2. It's an Islamic event. It will be Islamic activities. It is not a place to "check out halal meat". Nor are you there to practice your act of tying the hijab knot in that oh-so-seductive pose.

Having said that, it's a shame the RIS organizers do not have any 'marriage meet up' or 'introductory' sessions. What a waste of young people under one roof. Ten years later, these women will be de-hijabified and married to white guys because they could not find a guy and were not willing to be 35-year-old spinsters, or the guys will have gone back and married an illiterate girl from back home and now stuck in an unhappy marriage (for both him and her) because he spent his youth clubbing, trying to meet girls and now relishes the prospect of fitnah. Meanwhile these Islamic speakers will still be talking about how great the Spanish Muslim civilization was, or how the computer was originally invented by a Muslim, or how we must hold fast to the rope of the ummah, or some other crap.

3. If a speaker says something you dislike, it is not an invitation to demonstrate how good the vocal chords Allah has blessed you with are. 'Boooooooo' is not the takbir. If you disagree with something, keep it to yourself while he is speaking.

Last time Dr Tareq Suwaidan once said that while the Prophet made many laws, some were political and applied only to his time and can be changed. Immediately a white convert who was dressed as if he just stepped out from Taliban's Top Idol started to shout and hiss. And quite loudly too.

When another speaker said last time clapping was haram, I felt like taking my chair and throwing it at him like a Frisbee. Whack! But I didn't. I blogged about it instead (although, whenever he finished speaking I clapped as loudly as I could).

4. Yelling "Takbir" as loudly as you can whenever a speaker says something good is not a successful pickup strategy. It doesn't work. Especially if you are a white convert. As Maniac Muslim once said, with your accent, it sounds awfully close to "Take Beer", which is not what you want.

5. Some women will be without hijab. Such women do exist. Deal with it. The hair of a woman is a beautiful thing. Meanwhile, some men will pray with their jeans covering their ankles. It is not a sign of arrogance. It is a sign of buying cheap jeans at Walmart.

6. To all single girls going to RIS with your mothers, please keep your mother in control. A leash would be preferable, but failing that, I suggest buying one of those ten year old perfumes from the bazaar they sell as 'fresh atar from Medinah'. Spray a bit on your mother. It acts as a force field like deterrent for guys. Alternatively, if you are a guy, you could walk around with a "I-am-not-a-doctor" sign.

Yes, with nothing to do over those days, I will be going to RIS. If any of you are there, holler at me. Or facebook message me, I will be posting pictures there.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sacrifice: Here or There?

It's that time of the year again. Eid ul Adha.

The sort of forgotten Eid.

When we were growing up, this was a big Eid. All of a sudden cows (and goats) were everywhere. People compared sizes. Uncles got together and hatched plans on how to slaughter this bull because it was so wild. So they would have four people go this way, another four that way, lasso, pull and bam! the bull now lies on the side. A knife (which had been sharpened away from the bull's sight so as not to cause him trauma!) is now brought and placed against the bull's neck. The last thing I would remember from this sacrifice was the bull's stoic eyes as it stared - somewhat defiantly, somewhat resigned - before they became big, and then shut. Soon, the sands would become red and then water would be poured across to clean the area for the next sacrifice.

By the time we left for Canada, the government there had brought in regulations. No longer could you slaughter the animal beneath your building in the parking lot or on the sand nearby. You had to take it to a slaughter house, and so on.

Here, Eid was different. Everyone diligently waited for the Eid ul Fitr, as fasting is hard here. Everyone buys new clothes, jewelery, shoes and dress up for the occasion.

Qurbani Eid was different. All of a sudden, one day it's there. You go in the morning for prayers. Around 5 in the evening, your butcher calls you to pick up your meat. End of Eid.

Which brings me to a contentious issue: Should you give your sacrifice here, or back in desiland?

I have never believed the opinion that you don't really need to sacrifice an animal (because it is cruel). All you need to do is give that amount of money to the poor.

Well first, animals die so we can eat. It's a fact of life. When you do Qurbani you have to kill in the most humane manner.

Second, if Allah wanted you to have the option of spending the money rather than slaughter an animal, He would tell you so. He is pretty direct in most cases. So when He says we must slaughter a cattle, I think that's what He means.

So says Imam Mezba of the sect of Al-Blogifi.

So where to do it, here or there?

People who give the sacrifice back in desiland could have one of two reasons.

One, it's cheap. Let's face it - it's hard to part with 300 bucks when you could use another new digital camera or an ipod.

Or, most likely reason, they feel there's more poor there, so the meat and money generated due to this activity is better spent there. Noble reason.

However, I feel we have a responsibility to the community we live in, to our local habitat and to our poor neighbours. Zakat we can give to our poorer relatives over there.

The sunnah was to slaughter an animal where you live. Imagine if even one third of the 23% of Toronto that is Muslim slaughtered their zabihah here, and imagine if, as stipulated, one third of all those meat goes to the local food bank. Don't you think we would enjoy a good and fantastic reputation here?

Besides, there is one more advantage to sacrificing an animal here. You get to eat that meat. Which is also sunnah. I love these useful sunnahs.

I always opt for a goat. First, it's cheaper than a share of the cow. Second, you get the whole goat. So you can pick and choose which part of the meat you give to the poor and which one you keep.

Hey, no one said I was a saint.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Chuckle, and A "Hmmm"

A couple of chuckle posts before I publish my mega rant that will leave (some) girls fuming (to put it mildly). The mega rant is called Why Desi Guys Go Back 'Home' To Marry. So before I do that (sometime after our halal-now-turning-into-makruh bachelor party), here's something to munch on.

First Chuckle: We bloggers really have too much free time. At least at 12.20 am when the rest of the world is sleeping, a doctor messages a systems analyst online. And this is the result.

Second Chuckle (well, not really but): If you are thinking of marrying an Indian man, you may want to read this.

(Maybe this is why Malaysian women prefer Bangladeshi men and not Indian boys)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The Brass Crescent Award winners' list is out. I would like to thank everyone who voted, especially for me :-D - Jazaks!

I would like to share what happened when I first told my parents to go vote for me.

Dad: So, you have a blog?
Me: Yes.
Dad: What do you blog about?
Me: Um, nothing in particular really. Just-
Dad: Do you get paid for it?
Me: No, it's just a hobby.


Dad: So this award, what is it?
Me: It's for bloggers who write about Islam/Muslim issues.
Dad: What will it give you?
Me: Um, I don't know. Recognition, I guess. And respect.


Dad: Hmmm....

And then there was my mom.

Mom: You have a blog?
Me: Yes, it's-
Mom: Why didn't you tell me about it?
Me: Well, I didn't think-
Mom: What article was nominated?

[I show her. She reads.]

Mom: This is good.
Me: Than-
Mom: Why is anyone even running against you?
Me: No one's running. And there's thousands of better writers-
Mom: No one can write better than this.
Me: Not-
Mom: I am going to read all of your blog now.
Me: Uh, oh.

[30 min later, angry phone call]

Mom: You wrote here you have an accident?
Me: Um, yes, that was when-
Mom: You said it was nothing, someone just clipped your mirror.
Me: Well, hehe, not really but I-
Mom: You were lying to me. I always knew you drove too fast.
Me: No! I was just-
Mom: Did you say "Subhanalla Sakhara ..." 3 times before you started the car?
Me: Yes, I-
Mom: And you always put your music too loud.
Me: No, I-
Mom: I am very angry with you.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Wanted: Halal Sins

How do you plan a "Halal bachelor party"? Talk about challenges. I, along with a few friends, have to plan someone's bachelor party.

Now normally that wouldn't be a challenge, given some of my friends. But, here, I am really stuck for ideas.

This friend is a more stricter Muslim. So, even though he 'fell in love', stalked the girl until she said yes, and wrote her name in blood (an invention and rumour that spread until it became fact), we have to have a HALAL bachelor party.

Now, this is an oxymoron. To join other oxymorons such as 'halal pepperoni' (look up the word in the dictionary people), 'attractive hijabi' (and the purpose of hijab is ...?), 'pro-choice Catholic' and so on. Or join other perplexing terms such as '100% halal'. Is there such a thing as '90% halal'?

When we slaughtered the cow we only said 'Bismillahi Allahu Ak' but at that point the maulvi choked on his paan and thus omitted the 'bar' from 'Akbar'. Therefore this cow is certified only 97% halal.

Anyways, so someone suggests Sultan's Tent to me. They got great food, great ambiance, and a great location.

Not to mention, belly dancing.

Apparently, since belly dancing is Arabic in origin, that makes it 'Islamic'. OK, whatever. When I called them up on the phone, the guy I spoke to even stressed that they have halal lamb.

Come enjoy exotic belly dancing. We also serve Halal lamb.

Also licensed by Liquor License Board of Ontario.

Nah, it won't do. Apparently it's a bit risque. Um hello, you guys all went for Temptations concert didn't you? And the Zee Cine Awards in Dubai? Not to mention people who paid $100 to watch Priyanka jiggle at the Air Canada Center in far less skimpier clothing (and a lot less belly, I might add).

So back to square one. There is Paintball. I am going to fire 100 balls at the guys who vetoed Sultan's Tent.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Zero Vacation Plans And Movies (Ranting)

So it looks like my trip to Bangladesh is not going to happen this Christmas.

My dad was watching the Bengali news (only person in the house to be remotely interested in any news from Bangladesh) when they showed a mini-riot in progress. Apparently some marchers decided to rally outside a shopping store and the police physically charged at them. Two people were shot dead, and a few other broken bones.

How a culture that prides itself on being Muslim can shrug off the loss of life is beyond me. No inquiries will take place about this 'incident'.

Now my dad is usually the most optimistic person about Bangladesh. If at any time someone comments, "Oh, I don't know how people live in Bangladesh", he will reply, "Why, is 150 million people not living there?" And so on.

Even he now thinks it would be a bad idea to visit at this time. It's Eid, it's elections, and it's a political mess. I was speaking to my cousin in Bangladesh and she of course was adamant that there is no danger, but then she's a local. I remember going shopping with her one time, when I was very young.

We were shopping in New Market and all of a sudden I start crying. I am horrified, why am I crying for no reason, that too in front of GIRLS? And then I turn, and I see that everyone was crying. It sounds like something out of a cheesy 80s horror movie but then someone whispered 'Tear Gas'.

All I remember was being dragged by my cousins into a nearby shop, where they downed steel shutters, and waiting while police battled - yes battled - some rioters outside. So if I go to Bangladesh, I will get to attend FOUR weddings (and hopefully no funerals). However, my plans to visit Rangamati (a nice, beautiful Kashmir-like place in Bangladesh) or Sylhet or any other city will be hold. And since my cousins all have hugely worrying parents (runs in the family) they won't be allowed to accompany me on my shopping spree (which is no.2 reason why I go to Bangladesh). Not to mention it will be much cheaper to go in February.

So NOW, thanks to the political imbeciles in Bangladesh, I have zero vacation plans. THAT IS A BIG PROBLEM. Yes I know people are starving somewhere else but I can't stop being pissed off at the moment.

Anyone attending RIS?

I saw Dhoom 2 and Casino Royale over the weekend. You know times have changed when the men show more skin than the women in the movie. The girls were just drooling.

Dhoom 2 was a classic bore. The first half was pretty good, and fast paced, so I didn't realize I had gone through 1.5 hours and 3 samosas by interval, but boy did it drag after the interval. Some people said 'well, it had style'. That is did - production values were top notch - but the script had no logic.

Somethings never change. It is a Bollywood movie after all. I would give it a 2.5/5.

Casino Royale was good in the sense that it was a different type of Bond. Man is that guy built! The scene where he rises from under the water on the bridge, it looked like he was inflated, muscles (or as one of my friends call them "mus-kels") all over the place. And the stunts in the first half of the movie blow you out of your mind. Pierce Brosnan was a pretty Bond but I would rather have Craig's Bond beside me in a street fight. The last one third of the movie drags though. Good thing I play poker so I knew what was happening in the middle one third of the movie. And the Bond girls? Hot as ever. Over all, 3.8/5.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Brass Crescent Awards


I am humbled. My post Better Than A Thousand Months" on the last night of Khatam-e-Quran during Ramadan has been nominated under the 'Best Post or Series' for the annual Brass Crescent Awards. You can take a look at all the categories and nominees and vote for your favourite blogs here.

Vote Here

You can vote till Sunday.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Of Breaking Relationships

I was the witness to a friend’s wedding recently, and accompanied him to City Hall when the couple went to obtain their marriage license. When they were filling out the form and I was proof reading it, I noticed something strange.

Gone are the two distinct columns where the left side said “Groom” and the right side said “Bride” and asked for their respective information. Now it said plainly “Applicant” and “Joint Applicant”. And they say same sex marriage does not affect heterosexual marriages.

And yes, since the wife filled out the form first (she had the pen) she was the “Applicant”. [PDF]

Too many relationships are breaking up recently. Having played the role of listener and wanna-be Dr. Phil over the last couple of weeks, I ventured over to the original ‘relationship expert’ of Toronto, a Valerie Gibson. She writes for the Toronto Sun, and according to their site, is “married (and divorced) five times”.

Now why would someone take advice from a person who could not make a successful go of it five times, let alone one, is beyond me. Having surfed through her web site and the advices she gave, I have come to the conclusion that people like her are a part of the problem. Here are a few questions people have asked her.

My wife and I are in mid-life and been married for over 25 years. She has, to my surprise, recently become very sexy.

Err... this is a problem?

When we're at home alone, she gives me wonderful hugs and kisses, fondles me …

Ok I am stopping here, as I don’t want this post to become the top link for weird Google search terms (believe me, I get enough of those – who the hell searches for ‘bhabi fair and lovely’ and how do they end up on my blog?).

Gibson takes the hubby down a notch by replying

Don't want to pour cold water on a hot situation but it might be possible she's having "guilt sex" because of an affair. [link]

I would have said just hold on and enjoy the ride. Why cast suspicion without any reason? Now rather than enjoying his good fortune the man will be keeping tabs on his wife's cellphone calls.

Then there is this gem.

Our 19-year-old daughter is at university and has asked if her boyfriend can visit at Christmas and stay in her bedroom. I know they have sex and practice safe sex and I feel it would be okay because I see her as an adult.

Well, good for you.*sarcasm*

However, my husband disapproves and says he doesn't care what they do elsewhere, but they're not going to sleep together under his roof. He feels it would set a bad example for her 15-year-old sister.

Twenty years ago this question would not even arise in the Canadian society. Three cheers for the man. People lived the Christian values rather than just talk about it. Gibson’s response:

It's hypocritical of her dad to accept that she's having sex elsewhere but isn't allowed to in your home. At 15, her sister can understand that there are different rules at different ages.

Yes, what a great way to encourage a budding relationship between daughter’s boyfriend and her father. Whatever happened to "my house, my rules"?

While I understand different values exist for different people, you would think as a boyfriend you would be a bit smart. If you are getting the bagging for the rest of the year surely you can go without it for a few days. Nah, do it at her father’s place and you will get none of the bagging and all of the nagging.

At least she didn’t ask me. I would have said make sure your father doesn’t believe in honor killing.

Most of her ‘answers’, and indeed most of the answers in similar columns in Now and other such tabloids, end with the statement that “it’s time for you to evaluate the situation and consider whether you want to continue this relationship, or if it’s time to move on”.

Its apparently easy to move on.

Love is all about self satisfaction.

Relationships are all about ‘me’.

Marriage is about benefits. When it hits troubled waters, "evaluate".

Husbands are not worthy of any special respect.

Compromise is a sign of weakness.

A father is just a bank.

No wonder divorce is rampant in our society and the institution of marriage is breaking down. It's not just same sex marriage.

It's the fact that now everyone wants to be the "Applicant", ALL THE TIME.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Need To Get Out Of Here

Anyone who knows someone who can score me cheap tickets to Bangladesh over the Christmas period, with stopovers in Dubai/London/both please contact me as soon as possible. If you know someone who knows someone who owns a travel agency I will be super grateful. At this point I have not decided how you will be rewarded but rest assured satisfaction is guaranteed (mine at least).

Two Facts And The York Show

Dear Diary,

I was made aware of two facts of life over this weekend.

Fact 1: If there is a poem that makes no sense, lie like hell to girls.
Fact 2: You can be ice cool when your car is being "stolen". Again, a girl was involved.

Dear Diary, I went to this show at York university over the weekend. It had suddenly become the hottest ticket in town, with every young Bengali in T-dot (and even from remote outposts such as Hamilton) rumored to be attending. In that show, there was this cultural part - a poem/dance/song combo.

The 'story' of the poem was this. Three girls are singing near the river. Apparently in Bangladesh it's customary to sing and dance when you are a female, bathing in public near a river. Three princes appear to see them, and propose on the spot. Each prince promise their respective beauties lots of gold, silver, land, slaves and palaces. Each of the village belles refuse their advances because the princes only love their beauty, which is fleeting.

Soon, a loser/pauper /Devdas/poet/guy-with-bipolar-disorder combo proposes to one of the girls. She bats her eyelids at him and says yes. The man marries her, but then goes off to fight in a war. And never returns. The girl now sings sad songs by the river. The End.

Guess which half of the audience was in awe of the piece. Not just awe, gushing admiration for the moral of the story (which is?). "Finding lessons" in the skit about the "metaphors of life".

And now guess which half of the audience was bored to death during this piece.

At this point, if a girl asks you what did you think of the poem/dance, what should you say?

Wrong answer: WTF was all that?

Fact 1.1. If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then the way to a girl's heart is plain out lying.

Right answer: "You have to feeeeel the anguish of the girl's last song" or "how the poem above underlined the social contrast between the poet's perspective of royal lust and regal love".

As for the rest of the York show, man, they have some serious talent on that campus. UofT still rocks though (I have to say that, I am biased towards the institution that tortured me for four years). But York, good, keep it up. It's good to see kids do well nowadays.

Now for Fact 2. When my car got "stolen". And I was Mr Ice-cool.

Dear Diary, I am at this friend's place in the village. Otherwise known as Brampton. It's a guy's night out. I had taken my laptop there to copy some of his DVDs. I was surfing the net. Suddenly, a girl friend came online. Dear diary, please note the space between "girl" and "friend". We were just chatting casually about movies, of all topics.

Suddenly, one of my 'friends' came rushing into the room.

"Mezba, your car's missing! It's not on the driveway!"

And in his hand was the club I use to lock my steering wheel with.

Oh great! Since this friend was usually the stoic serious type, I started to inwardly panic. Second, my keys were in my pocket. So they could not be playing a prank.

But, to the outside world, I was cool. All I said was, "OK, gimme a few minutes."

After all, I was chatting to a lady. And you just don't disappear like that. So I continued to chat. She talked some more, and then I told her I will be right back. A full five minutes later, I turned to my incredulous friends.

"Holy f*** it didn't work." One of them said. The others started to bicker as to whose bad acting gave it away. And the mystery of the club? Well it wasn't mine to begin with, just another one in the house with the same colour.

All in all, a great weekend.

Here are a few pictures of the York show.

Students form the Bangladesh flag.

Heaven and Hell co-host the show.

Singers dance to a poem that is sung.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Things I Learnt From The Movie Vivah

My mom told me to watch this movie called Vivah because it is full of "cultural and traditional" values. How cool is that? I have a mom who tells me to watch movies. Then my dad told me not to waste too much time watching "that crap" and spend it wisely by either studying for my GRE or doing zikr. Hmm, studies, zikr or movie? In the end I decided Islam places a great importance on mother, so I obeyed her and watched the movie.

Apparently there are a few ground rules about desis that I was not aware of.

  • All small businesses will have an accountant, called munim, who will dress like this.

    Note the phone - and the film is set in modern times - the phone is connected to his table!

  • If you have a younger sister, you MUST name her Choti. That would be some unique name, eh? To join other unique names such Beta, Babu and Bade Sahab.

  • All families where an orphan is brought up will have an evil woman.

    Her reason for hating the orphan? She is fairer than her own daughter.

  • All Sardars are forever seemingly high on crack. They always smile with their arms locked in the bhangra position and start every sentance with 'Oye!'.

  • Only girls from towns with name like 'Behrapur' or 'Golapur' or 'Madhyapur' are good. Because naujawans from the city are losing faith in words such as 'prerna', 'shudhatya' and 'adrishta'.

  • If you are the head of a large corporation, you inform those who work under you, every one of them, of EVERY rishtaa, or proposal, that comes for your son.

  • "Girls in small towns are so good they don't even go to restaurants."

    The father tells this to the son, while seated at a restaurant.

  • You are left alone to talk with your prospect.

    You should always start with this speech "Hey I don't know what to say in this situation as we have to talk about our future life together but why don't I talk about my previous girlfriend who had 2 other boyfriends and then you tell me if you have any questions."

    After you say all this, the girl will be so enamored with you she will say 'yes' after just one meeting.

  • Good girls always keep their gazes lowered.

That movie was so corny, cheesy and bile-inducing with out-of-touch-with-reality. In short, your typical family-type Bollywood movie that your parents will love. Me? I am still trying get one Indian friend who can translate prerna for me.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Lunch With A Nurse

One of my friends got into nursing recently. The first time I met him, he was picking his major for the second year. I asked him what he was choosing.

"Nursing." He replied.

I did a double take. Nursing? A brown guy?

"I am not gay." That was his second statement. "Not that there's anything wrong with that ..."

Turns out he is actually quite smart. He wants to be a doctor, but since a lot of students don't get into med school on their first try, he decided to opt for nursing as his undergradute. If he got into med school, fine. If he didn't, he had an useful degree to actually work in the hospital and getting experience before trying again.

Not to mention the fact that over 90% of his fellow students were female. And probably 3% of the remaining 10 were gay, and 2.5% in relationships ....

So yesterday during lunch hour I popped over to his facility. What I saw boggled the mind.

The mock intensive care unit.

There was a whole hospital ward full of "patient"s and the nurses were busy caring for them round the clock.

"So, these are just for the ambience?" I asked him, poking one of the dummies in the eye.

F***! I nearly jumped out of my skin as the "patient" sat up and let out a low moan.

"Yo, these are 50K apiece!" My friend hurriedly pushed a few knobs on the bed.

Amazing. These dummies, each worth over 50,000 dollars, could actually simulate symptoms of most diseases, have heart attacks, even ask for water. If not cared for properly, they could even die. The Toronto Star even did a profile on this mock ward. The Star's article shows a picture of the mock maternity ward. The baby robot could cry, burp or even - and I don't know how but my friend said so - need a change of diapers.


Monday, November 13, 2006

The Story Of Two Pictures

At the Vatican:

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaƫlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, meets the Pope [Source].

So to meet the Pope, our hot Governor General has to dress more like a Muslim woman than Muslim Turkish women politicians, university lecturers, Air Morocco stewardesses, Tunisian women, ... as opposed to when she dresses up for a toast.

My question: What will she be wearing once the Italian government bans the burkha?

Meanwhile in Bangladesh:

Egged on by other supporters, a Bangladeshi kid, aged 10, throws a rock at the police [BBC].

Today I went to vote in Toronto's municipal elections. Such elections are taking place all over Ontario today. My name wasn't on the list, so they checked my ID and had me fill out and sign a form before giving me a ballot to vote. I voted and left.

There were no policemen at the voting station. There was no army on the streets. There were no riots. The center was staffed by senior citizens and high school kids.

In Bangladesh it's not even voting day. No one is even sure when the election will be and who will run. And already there is chaos. I am beginning to think these people only understand the language of the stick.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

No Girls Allowed

Imagine my surprise on reading a research on gender-segregated classes in Canada!

When I was in high school in the Middle East, Bengali classes, which happened twice a week, was eagerly looked forward to by the guys. Our high school was segregated by gender. Boys had their own buildings and entrance and playground, while the girls had theirs - and the twain shall never meet except after school hours when most of the guys would go around to the girls' entrance on the pretext of waiting for their 'sisters'. In fact, one of the biggest reasons cricket was so popular was that if you could manage to hit a six properly, the ball would go to the girls' playground, and then the fielders would make a dash to fetch that ball - but I digress.

The reason Bengali class was so popular was that it was the only subject that was taught combined. So the scheduling would be such that Bengali boys would join the girls of the same class in some classroom for that period only. Twice a week. Apparently it was hard to find qualified Bengali teachers for the British O'Level system and our school had only one. Oh, how we lorded over our non-Bengali friends over that fact.

So there was this one student, shall we call him X. So X decided to pass a note to this girl (naturally seated across the aisle on the other half of the classroom). X therefore wrote his note on a piece of paper, folded it into a paper airplane, and while the teacher's back was turned, threw it across the room and then quickly ducked back into his books.

Unfortunately for him, Muslims and pilots are not meant to be. The plane took a dip, changed directions in mid air and came to rest - directly behind the teacher's feet. Unknown to X, who was concentrating sharply on the Amar Boi text book, the teacher bent down, picked up the paper, read it, and then turned to the class.

"X!" She suddenly announced. "I am quite impressed at your writing recently."

"Um, thanks?" X, though puzzled, beamed. Yet another chance to impress the ladies.

"Yes, not only by your writing, vocabulary, but also your reading skills have improved considerably. Why don't you come here and read this poem?"

Oh, how X eagerly stepped forward to the teacher's desk. And how his heart must have skipped a beat when he saw the unfolded paper note, formerly an airplane, in the teacher's hand.

He spent the next two classes standing outside the classroom.

Now, before you think X is me, let me tell you X wasn't me. Firstly, the teacher was my MOM, and I would NEVER dare to try anything in her class. Second, I was sort of oblivious to girls at that age. Idiot me.

So, why this piece of nostalgia? Well, today, I read this article in the Star on how this B.C. principal commented on a study they did which seemed to prove that pupils excel when boys and girls are split up. According to the study, maths, reading comprehension and writing skills all improved because "segregating has taken away social pressures". In fact boys outperformed girls in many areas after being segregated.

I leave you with a little food (a morsel really) for thought. I showed the study to two friends of mine, Sheikh and DJ. Sheikh, as his name suggested, told me this is why Islam is the solution and how UofT today are discovering that wudu washes away your sins, and now, segregating classes lead to brighter students.

Then when I was talking to DJ (who really is a DJ), and he exclaimed "maths and English are not the only skills people need to know. What about social skills? Or interaction? How many Muslim students do you know who come from such a background and then 'go crazy' once they are away from parental supervision? And how many don't but cannot deal properly with girls, or their wives?"


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hypocrisy and Facebook

So I was thinking about hypocrisy and the dual nature of many people. Let me start with myself. I will get in the car and say the prayer you need to say, right before I pop in the CD and turn up the music full blast.

So my friend and I get in the car, and I start the car. And then I start saying the little prayer.

"What are we waiting for?" My friend asks.

"Um," I reply. "I am warming the engine. That's it, warming up." Of course, it's not cool to admit you are praying.

"Dude," My friend has a puzzled look on his place. "We just stopped at this place for five minutes."

"Oh shut up. I am saying Aytul Kursi."

"Oh." Respectful silence. And then - alright, let's pop in the CD. And the music blares full blast on the speakers, where the singer describes in detail what he would like to do with his girl, and the girl replies back. Hindi or English, it doesn't matter nowadays.

I was thinking about it yesterday as I surfed Facebook.

Yes, I gave in to temptation at last. For someone who makes his living writing web applications, I am always the last one to get on any internet bandwagon. I started using Napster, just before they shut it down. I steadfastly refused to use web-banking, relenting right before phishing campaigns became well organized. I started to use torrents right before our ISP started to clamp down on them. So Facebook users beware.

So yesterday while I added a few friends and was just surfing through their pages and their friends, I came across the Facebook profile of this guy I know since after university. OK, now this guy is not your average 20 year old guy. He was always spouting religious talk. He would make you fill guilty for checking out a poster of Aishwarya Rai (telling you some line about how you were committing zina in your heart or something like that). He once sent people a ten page essay on why one must not wear ankle-length pants.

And here he was, on Facebook, in a bar, with a drink in one hand, with his girlfriend, making out. On Facebook. What do you think of that? It's not that I am passing judgement of what he did. I have plenty of friends who drink, who have girlfriends and whatever. I don't pass judgement or force my religion down on them. But I think it's the height of hypocrisy when you bug people for not wearing a cap when praying and then have your tongue down a girl's throat. A girl who is not your wife. In a bar. And then have it on Facebook for the whole world to see.

OK rant over. Meanwhile, Facebook is one cool thing. WTH is a 'POKE' though?

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Monday, November 06, 2006

We Are No. 3

Thanks to Em for alerting me to this fact.

So Bangladesh is no longer no. 1, having fallen to no. 3. While successfully kicking Pakistan and Nigeria's ass, we got beaten by Haiti (No. 1), Myanmar, Iraq and Guinea (joint no. 2). I am talking of the the list of most corrupt countries in the world (hint: scroll to the bottom).

So let's see. In a period where there were 300 bombs, judges were killed, lawyers hit by a suicide bomb (jury still out on that one), political instability where the opposition forced street protests and there was a possibility of a military coup, what did Bangladesh achieve?

We won the Nobel Peace Prize.

And we reduced corruption.

So, um, we are on the, uh, right track?


My Car Accident

I recently went through a car accident, an experience that gave me a first-hand taste of low and dirty tricks that people can pull when involved in an accident.

I was driving Eastbound on Kingston Road, a thoroughfare connecting downtown to our suburb, on my way home from work, albeit a bit later than usual. As I approached a hill, I slowed down. I knew from experience that there's usually a cop on the other side with a radar. As I crossed the hill, sure enough, there was a couple of cop cars manning a radar station and pulling people over.

The knowledge of that fact alone was to come in useful later, as I found out.

Around 3 minutes of driving past that hill, I was on the leftmost lane, going at the speed limit. All of a sudden, I see this Cavalier exit from a small side street on the other side of the road, cross the Westbound lanes and cut directly onto the high speed lane of Eastbound Kingston Ave.

The lane I was on.

It happened so fast that I still shudder to think of it. It's an indescribable feeling, as you approach a near death experience and feel powerless to do anything. Your whole life starts to flash in front of your eyes. I remember just pressing the horn until the sound of it filled my ears. I remember stepping as hard as possible on the brakes. And I remember the feeling of utter helplessness as I realized there were cars to my right, and absolutely no place to swerve out of the way.

There was a huge crack! sound, as my car came to a screeching halt. Wondering why the air bags haven't deployed yet, I gingerly exhaled and then looked around.

It seemed at the last minute, the lady in the other car, on hearing my horn blast, had managed to swerve sufficiently so she was on the thin median separating the two directions of traffic, but the side of her car was still in my lane, and that's what I had hit. Or rather, the mirror of my car had hit.

It could have been a serious accident that in the end resulted in only a broken mirror. Had she not managed to swerve out of my way, I would have hit her passenger side head on, most possibly killing the child that was seated there. And more importantly, had the speed and impact caused my car to start swerving, I now would be perpendicular to the oncoming traffic, and people would hit me. Allah had personally saved all of us.

I got out and walked to the other car. She was still in the car! Before I could reach her though, another person got to me.

"Hey!" This Indian guy in an overalls accosted me. "I am the owner of this garage opposite the road - there!" He indicated with an outstretched hand. "You come to me, I will give you good discount." Pushing a visiting card down my hand, he left.

I wasn't seconds away from an accident, and already I have a guy trying to make a buck out of me!

I knocked on her window and told her to come out.

"I need your insurance," I told her, still shaking. "We need to call insurance."

"Yes," she said, then whipped out her cellphone. Lady, why are you taking out your cellphone? Give me your damn policy number.

"My cousin works at a Nissan dealership." She suddenly got off her phone and told me. "He is saying this mirror is maximum 100 bucks to change. He is at the dealership now."

"Ya?" Even though it wasn't my fault, I wanted to avoid the insurance hassle. Then I looked at her sharply.

"It's eight pm." I told her coldly. "All Nissan workshops I know close at 6."

"Oh," she was now flustered. "Look, my cousin has same car and I thought-"

"I want to report it." I told her flatly. "Now give me your insurance details and let's go there."

I was going to call up my agent and find out where the collision reporting center was, but it turned out she knew where the collision reporting center was, and a shortcut to get there! So we took it.

Once we were there, I was to get the second surprise of the night.

"Well," the counter agent taking down my report faced me. The lady had just completed her version while I had waited. "The lady tells me she was waiting on the median lane to enter the high speed lane, when all of sudden you came speeding, swerved into her lane, hit the side of her car."

It took me a second to digest this. For a second, I was almost in awe of how the lady had changed her apologetic story to a lying one.

Then I remembered the cop radar spot on Kingston Road. A smile lit my lips. Taking a moment to gather my thoughts, I began.

"First of all, minutes up the road from the accident spot, there was a police radar in operation. If I was speeding, they would have stopped and ticketed me."

Strike 1.

"Second, the median she is saying she WAITED on, it's a thin strip of yellow line, hardly wide enough for a bike, let alone a car. So where was she waiting?"

Strike 2.

"Finally, it's an amazing version. I swerved into her, somehow the front of my car magically avoiding her side, and somehow managed to get MY MIRROR to hit her, then swerved out again so this time the back of my car avoided her side, and then stopped some distance away. Very flexible car, my Nissan."

Strike 3.

The agent was now laughing. Then he looked at me, "Are you Indian, by any chance?"

"Bangladeshi." I replied.

"O bhai amio Bangladeshi!" The man literally shouted out, and continued in Bengali. "I thought I saw you before, you used to play cricket for this league right? Me too, for this other team."

Of all the places to run into a cricket player. At a collision reporting center.

"This lady I have seen her here before." The agent continued, now looking at her with distaste. "Don't worry, I will look out for you. It's a clear case of side swipe."

He then called a cop who went out with us to look at the damage. One glance, and he knew what happened. After giving me the police report, he turned to the lady and stared to scold her for endangering her child by driving recklessly.

Thankfully my insurance agreed with me, citing me not at fault and taking full charge of fixing my mirror at no cost to me promptly. To this day I still think of how some people tried to pull a fast one on me, and thank Allah for watching over us all.

Moral of the story: Play cricket.