Friday, September 29, 2006

Sexy Lady?

Esquire has named Scarlett Johansson the Sexiest woman alive.

This is sexy? This is just fluff on a stick. She's a twig.

Thank God for Jlo, Shakira, Beyonce and others who taught Americans that a woman with a good derriere can also be sexy. Yes, I know it's Ramadan and I am not supposed to be thinking of sexy bottoms but it's after iftar and I was reading the news. The news, people.

I have never understood the Western standard of beauty that demands a woman be pencil thin. Curves add a bit of oomph to the woman. I have a secret theory that the fashion world and magazines that 'judge' these beauties are full of homosexual men who wouldn't know a real woman when they see one. Like this. Or this. Or this.Or even this.

Of Apples And Burgers

My workplace has free BBQ today for its 13,000+ employees. Free burgers, hot dogs, pizza, chips and drinks. Aaagh!

I almost contemplated taking my bag and filling it up for later - true desi style - but in the end decided it was too much bother.

Speaking of bother, is there an unwritten rule that anyone working in the IT sector MUST hate Microsoft?

I remember in college, there was this course on UNIX. Our first assignment was writing a Shell script program. I wrote it, but I used Notepad on Windows to create and edit the file, and test it on UNIX. When I got my assignment back, it had -20% in red 'for using M$ Windoze programs'.

The prof actually ran each submitted file against a scanner that checked for line breaks created by Notepad to see who had used Windows programs. I did argue that it wasn't mentioned anywhere on the course or assignment that we would have to not use Windows but university professors are dictators. I could fight but it was a small assignment and not worth it. Waiting for Day of Judgement for that hisaab to be barabar, iA.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend who had just bought a new laptop. An Apple laptop. And as is typical of Apple users, he started to praise the machine profusely.

"Dude, you gotta get an Apple! It's sooooo much better than stupid Windows. It has this - that - blah blah - *repeat* It's sooooo much better than stupid Windows."

I then made the mistake of saying "Well thank God for Bill Gates and MSN. I mean without MSN my social life -"

Oh boy did he go red!

"What do you mean? The first chat program was developed by Apple licensed by SomeOtherCompany stolen by Microsoft. Same with Windows. It was first developed by LoserInAppleWhoDidn'tLicenseIt and then STOLEN by Billu bhai ..... "

Is there any reason why Apple users immediately start to bash Windows? Insecurity, perhaps? Yes, I get it. Your box is cute. It has a cute little blue apple on top. It has a cute little transparent whatchamacallit on the bottom. Now leave my Windows box alone.

It has stuck by me through thick and thin. When I got my first computer and the best game was a stupid Pong, it was there. When I upgraded to Windows '95, it tried its best to run Prince Of Persia 2 without freezing on Level 10. 95% of the world is with me. I can run any program I want. Any MP3 player or cellphone that's out on the market, I know it will work with my machine. Now that I have Windows XP life is complete.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Taraweeh Buggers

Or, alternatively, people that bug me during Taraweeh prayers. This has to be said. :-o

I like going to Taraweeh. On most days I even stay for the whole 20 rakats. The recitation of the imam at our mosque reminds me of the qari of the Kaaba - and you can get lost in the melody of the Quran even if you don't understand the meaning. Having said that, there are a couple of kinds of people I really wish would stay at home. I know there are lots of people that attend who will make great blog material, but the following two kinds really bug me. Last night for the last couple of rakats I could not concentrate on my prayers - I was thinking up this blog post (hai hai astakfirullah).

The Spacers

I am aware there is a hadith somewhere that says one must fill up all available space in the first row before going on to the second, and so on. The key word here is available. Too often, the space left is enough for half a person. Unless there is a kid who can come forward, that space should remain unfilled.

But no! Emerges our 'Spacer'. This guy is ready to fill ANY available space. Instead of being half a person's width, he is more often than not two and a half person's width. On the top of that bulk he will usually be wearing a sweater, a cardigan, a pullover, a jacket and a scarf around his neck.

Namaaz loses the khushu and khuzu and becomes a strategy game. At what speed should you go down for sujood, what angle should you be at rukoo time and on top, keeping an eye out for a space opening up at some other place.

So please, if you see an available space, do not fill it up unless
where s=space to fill and b=your bulk to fill it with.

The Footers

Feet to feet. Shoulder to shoulder. How many times have I heard that? As before, there are a few brothers who take this waaaaaay too literally.

Couple of days ago when the Isha fard prayer started, a brother came and stood next to me, to my left. All of a sudden, half his right foot was over my left foot. Hey, I thought, while the imam was reciting surah Fatiha, maybe I should move my left foot a little to the right. So I did. There was peace - for a few seconds. Then, slowly, the brother moved his right foot until it was again touching crossing my foot.

I was aware that I was in the prayer and should really concentrate on that, but it's hard when a stranger is playing footsies with you. I have noticed it before, the more you move away from their foot the more the foot moves closer to you. They actually spread their legs to take up all available space between feet.

Moral of the story: Feet to feet. Not feet over feet. Not spread legs at 90 degrees angle feet to feet. Don't be a creepy freak.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Blue Jays, post Iftar, pre-Taraweeh

Blue Jays vs Red Sox at Toronto.

Not houseful, but a lot of people.

The moment of victory.

PS. Baseball is so boooooooring! I thought cricket was slow - baseball is literally watching paint dry. There is hardly any scoring, and the game has no finesse.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Moon Sighting or Moon Fighting

"Ramadan Mubarak!" My aunt called from Bangladesh, "we started our Ramadan from yesterday. How about you?"

"Well," I answered, "we started it from today ..."

"Hmm." I could imagine her raising an eyebrow across the transatlantic phone conversation. "H (her son - my cousin - who also lives in Toronto) started it yesterday. Did you miss one?"

Ofcourse we missed one, her son obviously was on the dot. Given that this was H's first year in Canada, we will excuse aunty's confusion. Yes, the media talks about the 'Muslim voice' and 'Muslim street' and the 'Muslim world ' as if we are one homogeneous entity, yet we in the same city cannot decide on the dates of our holiest days!

There are three schools of thought. The first one says since we follow Saudi calendar for the Hajj (i.e. the pilgrimage is performed in Mecca when it's time for Hajj according to the lunar calendar in Saudi) so we should follow Saudi time for Ramadan.

There are two problems with this school of thought. First, we don't pray when it's the time for prayers in Mecca. Though it would be very convenient to pray Fajr (our dawn prayer) in the evening, we pray when it's time to pray locally. Hajj we do according to Saudi times because we are there in Mecca when we do the Hajj.

The second problem is that the Saudi government is not sincere when it comes to their lunar sighting. They shift around the dates of the calendars according to their whim. Last year, Hajj fell on a Friday. Suddenly the Saudi government was petrified - Hajj on Friday is special, so there would be more people than usual and it would be a nightmare for the security forces. Suddenly, two 80-year-old men "appeared". They claimed they had "seen" the new moon of the Hajj month one day than previously thought. So the Saudi government declared it "believed" them, and shifted the day of Hajj to one day before - i.e. Thursday. Now two 80-year-old guys cannot see enough to tie their own shoelaces, and they can see the moon?

Personally I have seen that most of the minority of the mosques in Toronto that follow Saudi timing are Arab-centric mosques who want to celebrate at the same time as their families back on home.

The second school of thought is the one favoured by ISNA, who decide on astronomical calculations to predict the Islamic calendar. According to them, moon sighting is the means to an end. They point to prayer timings as an example. For example, in the times of the Prophet the time for Asr was when the length of the shadow of a stick is twice the length of the stick. No one does that anymore, we use calculations and clocks to say the time of Asr today, for example, is 6.13 pm. Similarly, one shouldn't have to physically sight the moon nowadays, we can use the calculations. Given this reasoning, ISNA has published the lunar calendar for the next two years (2006, 2007).

There is one problem with this though. There is a clear Hadith that says the Prophet's verdict in case of cloudy nights (when it would be impossible to see the moon even though it should be there by calculations) is to continue the month to it's 30th day.

The third school of thought is the orthodox school of thought. Every 29th day of the lunar month, people go and look for the new moon. If it is sighted, then the next day is the first day of the next month, else the next day is the 30th day of this month, following which the next month starts. Muslims have been using this rule for the last 1400 years.

My own personal opinion as a laymen is that following Saudi timing is complete bogus. The Saudis themselves are not honest brokers of the lunar calendar, relying on the Saudi government is fallacious. The ISNA suggestion should be debated at length by clerics around the world. When people first suggested using clocks and timings for prayers there was opposition as well. If found sound by the majority of the ulema, it should be adopted and we can have a Global Calendar. However, it should also be noted that ISNA is not consistent in its methodologies - it used different rulings last time around.

I personally favour the orthodox method, for now. It's agreed to by majority of the Muslims, mosques and ulema - and according to the prophet the Ummah will not agree on an error. Since the majority of the Muslims follow the orthodox method for now, this is how we should as well.

Not to mention that the date of Sunday as day 1 of Ramadan implies Eid will most likely be on a Monday - which is really convenient as a long weekend.

The same time, last year.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Lunch Day

Forgive me O Lord for I have sinned. I have eaten Junk Food on Lunch Day.

Today was the Lunch Day. That's what I call the last working day before Ramadan starts. I know I wouldn't be going out for lunch for a month, so on Lunch Day I don't bring any food from home but treat myself to a nice lunch. I have maintained this tradition for the last few years. Whereas people's traditions are usually of a spiritual or cultural nature, mine are complete self-satisfactory acts.

Except today, instead of eating the delicious lamb curry at that Indian place, I went for Burger King. Oh the horror - I just couldn't walk by their $1.79 BK fish special and resist - and once there I had to have the onion rings.

The thing I miss most during Ramadan is not the lunch or breakfast or the mint, but the 2 pm coffee. How are you supposed to stay awake? Well, I guess you could keep yourself super busy with work. I would be interested to know if someone did a study on productivity levels of fasting Muslims at 2 in the afternoon.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Former TA's Musings - 1

It was six years ago that I found myself in a small room on the 4th floor of a dark gray building on our university campus. With me, seated around the table, were a few other students, all of us undergoing the one hour mandatory TA prep class. Our instructor, a very old, librarian-type woman, with her hair in a bun (with a pin to boot) and sporting huge glasses, told us about cultural sensitivity, multimedia presentations and understanding marking schemes. Then came the issue of sexual harrassment.

"Yes, yes." I thought, bored. "See a pretty girl in your class. Remember you are the TA. Be good. Or get sued. Easy."

".. so in other words, this is how you can deal with if you are sexually harrassed," the instructor was saying.

Wait a minute, I thought. Someone is going to try and harrass me?

I actually said so. It was one of those times when my mouth has a mind of its own and goes motoring off before I can raise my hand and clamp it shut.

The instructor just peered at me, her glasses magnifying her eyes, and said "Well, sir, when you become an instructor you are in a position of power."

O-kay. I relegated that fact to the back of my mind. Although being an introvert, and raised in the middle east, by my second year of college I was the editor of the paper, president of the local chapter of Bangladesh Students Association, member of our intramural cricket team, and bonafide volunteer for the Co-op Students Association. I was sure I could handle, um, girls. However, it took ten minutes after my first class ended that I encountered the TPWs.

TPWs are Teacher's Pet Wannabes. They are usually of the feminine gender. They smile at the teacher at all times (even at 8 am morning classes), sit on the first row, and then follow the teacher to the office, where they engage in useless discussions of the mundane. One of them may throw a mandatory question of why I supercast an object in line 10 of the sample code, but that would be it for the hour. Their objective - the instructor should know their name (and their "friendly" nature) when grading the papers, and thus be lenient.

In university, the secret is that for most courses, the TAs grade the papers, not the professors. Thus in first week of classes, the TAs don't get the attention of TPWs; it's only after the first assignment that TPWs become aware of the TA. However, I was teaching Intro to Computer Science to a class of business students who were presumably smarter than the rest of the freshmen.

Ten minutes after my first class ended, I was sitting in the cafeteria along with a friend.

"There you are," Said the first of the TPWs. She was an extremely tall, svelte, Spanish girl [as an aside I don't know why the US has a problem with Latina immigration - just restrict the men and let the women come]. "I was wondering what your name meant. It's such an exotic name."

This, coming from a person whose name was Guiconda Anna Maria Lopez or something like that.

The next one was even more blunt.

"You teach really well." Said the Indian chick. "I was in the other tutorial and I could hardly follow the TA. Ebhen his accentt was baaaad."

"You should be the prof." This was after the second week, when I had announced assignments were due and I was going to mark them.

I taught two classes, each twice a week. Of the combined 60 or so students, only 9 were guys. 3 were a sign of Qiyamat (or in other words, I couldn't tell their gender). The rest - all girls. Ofcourse all the attention lasted only four weeks until I had returned two assignments, graded.

I actually got an email from the prof - "I was checking the marks from various tutorials and your marks are closest to what the average should be - which implies you are neither marking too harshly nor too leniently. Keep it up."

Ofcourse the TPWs didn't see it that way. However, I had a marking scheme and I followed it rigorously. "Cold fish," I imagine what one of them would call me behind my back.

Ultimately, what was most rewarding about my TAship for two years was not the money (though it was very, very good) but the fact that at the end of the term my professor called me up to the office.

She pointed at a bunch of papers.

"These are your class evaluations. This is how I decide which TA to hire. Look at yours."

They were anonymously filled, ofcourse, but I recognized some of the handwritings in the 'other comments' section.

Not one single bad comment. All of them were highly satisfied with my teaching. Most had ticked the 'excellent' box, some had even written 'should TA more courses'. Ultimately, the TPWs decided to hang on in my class, and recommend me, not because of my marks, but because of how I taught. And when I recall my TA days, as I now begin the process of applying for further studies and think of reapplying to be a TA again, the fact that I most enjoyed about TAing was the teaching, the challenge, and ultimately the fact that some of my former students still mantain contact with me.

Though, sadly, not Ms. Lopez.


Monday, September 18, 2006

A Suggested Solution To Hudood

I was going to post something funny related to my recent vacation. For example when my cousin's friend, who was considering driving to Toronto, asked me the speed limit on Canadian highways I replied '120'. And the friend nearly went into a shock before I explained I meant 120 kilometers per hour, not miles per hour.

But then I opened my news reader to reconnect to the world, and the first item from South Asia read thus.
How Pakistan's rape reform ran aground
According to the country's independent Human Rights Commission, a woman is raped every two hours and gang-raped every eight hours in Pakistan. These figures are probably an under-estimation as many rapes are not reported.
Wow, for a supposedly "Islamic" nation, full of nang and namoos (honour and pride) there sure are a lot of horny perverts in Pakistan.

I have the solution to this dilemna, and since I am a nice guy I am going to share it with all.

The main problem is that the "Islamists" do not have a problem with punishing rapists, rather they have a problem letting a someone go unpunished when clearly extra-marital sex has taken place. So when a woman cries rape, but fails to prove her case, for punishment purposes she will do.

Never mind what the "Islamists" say about Sharia being unchangeable, Umar (r) increased punishment for drinking, Ali (r) changed some of Umar (r)'s laws and so on. Here's what I suggest:

When a woman W accuses a man M (who is not her husband) for raping her, immediately arrest man M. Believe the woman's words, and have her undergo a medical examination. If she was raped, she will have a sperm sample. Take it. Test it against M. If it matches, charge M with the rape and let W go.

Yes, it's the woman's word against the man, but you have medical examination to back W. If no medical proof is found, release M and charge the woman W with providing a false statement.

"But what about consensual sex?" You ask.

Well, it's Pakistan, so it's an Islamic country. They *cough*do not have*cough* consensual sex between an unmarried couple. This simple change has lots of benefits. To the west it tells them we value a woman's word (and by definition the woman). To an "Islamist" it a) prevents unmarried couples from having sex, b) punishes the rapist c) promotes marriage between couples, for if you are the man and you want to sleep with your girlfriend, better be damn sure she is not going to cry rape.

There's only one problem. Will the same courtesy be extended to boys who cry rape while attending "religious" schools?


Saturday, September 16, 2006

I (Heart) NYC?

Could it be - that I am being seduced by New York.

I came to New York, where my cousin and I fed off each other's stereotypes. He thought we Canadians were so peaceful, educated, cultured, we would find New York scary, shocking and would need to be held by hand. I assumed New York would be dirty, rude, unsafe, grimy, seedy - in short something out of a bad Max Payne scene.

The first day lived up to my stereotypes. As the rain fell hard, the subways reeked of urine, the characters that rode the subway with me appeared to be on drugs, I was fully aware that Toronto was my home.
However, now as it is nearly time for me to leave, I have to say I will miss New York. And most of what I miss of New York will be its spirit. This is a city that truly never sleeps, that is truly alive.

On Thursday I went for a walk in George Washington Memorial Park, then through the lively New York University campus. It was Thursday night, but already the crowd was out and they know how to party. I tried Yakiniku - a Japanese restaurant. They bring out the food and you can grill the meat at your own table.

On Friday I was out in Rockefeller Center, near the food concourse. I saw countless couples on dates. One day, iA, I am going to treat my date there. Its an expensive city - people are busy making money to spend money to give themselves an illusion of being happy - yet it feels so good.

I ended up treating myself to a fried chicken sandwich from the street vendor, an Egyptian gentleman who told me the lines at his stall would start around 11 pm. It was the best fried chicken sandwich I ever ate. And it was 3 bucks. That's one thing I am going to miss in Toronto - the food vendors. In Toronto, they are not allowed to sell anything but hot dogs. Here - there's an international variety.

Saturday my prayers were finally answered as the sun brilliantly shone - and I took full advantage, wearing out the soles of my shoes, getting full faida - value - of my $7 metro day pass, and filling up the space on my camera's digital card. The fact that I bought a day pass was a big motivator for me to see as much of NYC as possible - after all I paid the extra buck so being a desi I would have to extract as much of it as possible.

Another huge factor of New York was the subways. Toronto - clean, safe. Toronto - 2. New York - dirty, but well connected. Went from one end of the city to other in barely 40 minutes. Went all over New York with just the subways. No bus. New York - 10.

Tomorrow, I start for home, iA. I will miss New York, for sure. Toronto, however, will always be home. It is a city, where I can feel I am within my own. Little things, like not worrying about leaving my car on the street, or leaving a bag lying on the seat in the car and not worrying about whether the glass will be smashed. Like returning from the other end of the city at 1.30 am and not worrying about safety on the subway. Like waiting on the street at 2 am downtown and not caring about the guy walking nearby with a hood over his head. Toronto.


Friday, September 15, 2006

"Blessings" In The Big Apple

I know in Islamic lore rain is supposed to be a blessing from Allah - but why did He have to "bless" New York with so much rain JUST when I come here? Whole morning - bloody rain. Tomorrow - more rain. Day after tomorrow - rain. Sunday - sunny. Sunday I leave.

Bloody stupid @#$!@$ rain.

*really pissed off at some missed photography opportunities in the morning*

Sometimes I think these ideas of blessings were made up by the people of the desert *blasphemy alert* Like when they praise the ice and snow - while people here in Canada are probably dreaming of sunny, clear sky days of the summer. For us, paradise is warm and sunny, not cold and snowy.

Then again, the evening today, when I had an indoor activity planned, the weather was great.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blogging From The Big Apple

You know you are in New York when:

"What's your plans now?" My cousin asked me, as I freshened up after the 10 hour trip.

"I think I will head over to the subway station and grab a man." I said. "I want to see where the attractions are and how to get there."

"Um," My cousin bites her lip. "It's 9 pm."

"So?" I don't comprehend.

"I wouldn't recommend going to the subway after 9."


You know you have reached New York when:

You see the first coloured face in 8 hours.

Indicator lights to change lanes are not obligatory, it appears.

Every other car is banged up.

I encounter my first Hispanic person in 8 years.

So far the people appear to speak English, but I am still in Jackson Heights. Already someone has tried to sell me an used phone card.

Yes, it's exactly as I remember.

Tags: New York

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 - Five Years Ago

The world changed for everyone five years ago. Half a decade has passed, yet I still remember in vivid details the account of events on that miserable day.

I had just finished teaching a class of Introductory Programming, and was on my way to meet my professor, and then head to work, when a student ran up to me, breathless.

"Have you heard the news?"

I could not believe what I was hearing. Frantically I ran to the TA's office and logged on to CNN's website.

It was down. I tried BBC. Down as well. It was at that moment when someone informed me the students council had set up a TV in the Meeting Place. I rushed down the stairs, along with half the students, some still groggy due to the early morning hours. The TV was set to CNN.

The hushed voices witnessing the carnage on screen gave way to huge audible gasps as the World Trade Centre towers started to collapse. It was at the moment I realized that my cousin's husband worked in one of the towers.

I called home, where my folks having heard the news were desperately calling New York. We had lots of friends in New York. Some we could get in touch with, others we couldn't. Busy signals only added to the worry.

All day long we were in shock. During lunch break, I remember going for a walk. For the first time since coming to Canada, I felt like an outsider. The looks, the sharp intake when we approached, the sniggers, all came to the surface. I kept checking for the familiar site of the CN tower every few minutes, praying that nothing touched my city. For the first time as I rode the subway home I was on tenderhooks, waiting for some racist skinhead to jump at me with a knife. My sister wears hijab, so I was in frequent contact with her. On reaching home, we got word from our cousin that her husband was safe - he was on his way to work when the second plane had struck.

In the days that followed I remember vaguely the state of fear and paranoa we all seemed to be under. Anthrax attacks, shutdowns of the parliament, emergency meetings, security certificates, and finally - war.

Lest we forget, nearly three thousand innocents lost their lives on that day, innocents who need not have died but whose sole crime was reporting for work. They included a Bangladeshi couple. From Rezwan's blog:
Nurul,ShakilaNurul Haq Miah and Shakila Yasmin was a Bangladeshi Muslim couple who used to work in the world trade center and was among the unfortunate ones. Nurul was in the 99th floor, attending a meeting when the 1st plane hit their office. Nurul used to work for Marsh & McLennan for about 15 years. Shakila's office was located in the 97th floor, just below. Shakila just started about one year ago six months after they got married on April 2, 2000 [more info].

USA honored them this year by renaming the southeast corner of the 3rd Avenue and Ovington Avenue of Ney York after Shakila Yasmin and Nurul Haque Miah, two Bangladeshi victims of the 9/11.
They could have been your friends, relatives or neighbours.

On that day, we were all Americans. Since that day, we have had Bali, Riyadh, Madrid, London, Egypt, Jordan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq (on going) and so on. Most of the victims of terrorism since that day had been Muslims. I hope the world is successful in destroying the scourge that is terrorism. That would be ideal way to honour the victims.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Mean One And The Clerk

I entered the mall, USB key in hand, and made my way to the photography store. An email received late last night, alerting me to the special for developing digital pictures at a reduced rate, meant staying up an hour late to copy over 250 pictures to my USB drive.

As I entered the store, my heart sank as I cast my eyes at the kiosks. There's people at every single one of those machines. There's only one machine that accepts USB keys, and there was a woman ahead of me, henceforth to be referred to as the Mean One. She too was waiting for the machine to be free.

Suddenly, two machines became free. One was our machine. The other was to my right, with no one in line. Seeing the Mean One take out an SD memory card, I asked her, "Excuse me, if you don't mind, I see that you have an SD card. The machine to my right takes that card, but not my USB key, which only this machine does. Can I trouble you to move to that machine please?"

Each person at a machine takes a minimum of half an hour as they browse through each of their pictures, pausing to edit color, contrast, etc. I did not want to wait needlessly.


"I am sorry?" *shock* She must not have got the memo about Canadians being polite. Besides, they are the same machine, except for one bloody memory slot.

"I was here first and I have the right to use this machine. Too bad for you."

So saying, the Mean One inserted her card into the machine.

My active imagination had by this time already designed three different ways to run her over with a monster truck, but I said nothing. She was just a rude person, that's all. At that moment the store clerk approached us.

"I am sorry, I have to boot this machine." He told the Mean One.

"What? I just uploaded my damn pictures."

"I am sorry." The clerk replied, unflustered. "This machine needs to be rebooted. You can go to the next machine."

Muttering something under her breath, the Mean One ejected her card and moved to the next machine, where she reinserted it and began to upload her pictures. I waited for the clerk to boot the machine. He turned to me.

"You know what? I don't think I need to boot this kiosk after all."

Saying this, he turned back and walked towards his post, but not before I saw a hint of a wink from him.

Well, what can I say. Sometimes good guys do finish earlier after all. I started to upload the pictures, as the Mean One continued to give me the look.

It pays to be a regular customer.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

African Lion Safari

Finally we managed to go for the African Lion Safari in Cambridge, Ontario. All summer we had been meaning to go, but various last minute changes entailed delaying the trip continuously.

For a safari that calls itself the Lion safari, the lions were pretty tame. In fact, most of them were sleeping when we started our drive through the reserve.

Sleeping Beasts

I was hesitant to take my car into the reserves, preferring to take the trip by the Safari bus, but was glad I did. Everyone warned me about the baboons causing damage to your car, but once you are in your car, you can stop to look, take pictures and so on (just don't get out!).

Tarzan's Best Friends

Adnan Sami Of The Baboon World

Thankfully the monkeys didn't get on our car. This next guy however scared me. The tinted glasses were causing pictures to come out dark, and he was a distance away ...

Dear Deer

... so I decided to lower the window slightly, and forgot I had 'auto-down' feature. One touch of the button and window started to slide down fast, and the deer got interested ...

Oh Deer

Thankfully I got my senses back in time to roll the window up and he went away.

There were lots of other stuff to see at the Safari, including the Birds of Prey show, the Elephant show where one big guy apparently did the bhangra ...

Hati Singh

... a parrot that sang O Canada and ofcourse a small petting zoo. The full slideshow is on Flickr.

A few thoughts:
  • Someone did tell me if you urinate on your car's hood the monkeys won't bother you. I did not try this. If you do, please let me know if it worked.
  • Tinted glasses have drawbacks for photography, as well as dirty windows. Clear your windows and windshields prior to trip for excellent pictures.
  • The park's popular amongst desis. You should have seen the Indian crowds cheer at the elephant show.

  • Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Lage Raho Munnabhai Rocks!

    This is the most delightful movie I have seen in a while! After all the emotional melodramas and action throughout the summer, it felt great to sit for 3 hours with a smile on your face all the while, and a few laughs here and there. The comedy works, the casting works, the songs work, the script works ... Go watch it already!


    These guys had their fans too!

    PS. Hard to believe, but someone attended the movie just because of Sanjay Dutt.

    PS2. To those guys who took their dates to see Crank, what the hell were you thinking?

    PS2. Did anyone catch the trailor (and the song Ye Mera Dil) of Don? Kareena sizzles!


    Friday, September 01, 2006

    They Are From Venus

    At the risk of offending the (few) female readers of this blog, I am in the mood today to spout some vitriol. You have been warned! Stay back!

    Things That Girls Do (And Guys Will Never Do):

    1. Kiss each other hello. Or goodbye. If two girls know each other for a while, they will do this. The really close friends will kiss when they meet and kiss again when they part. Sometimes, the girls don't even really kiss. The lips and the cheeks move close to each other, they make the kissing motion and sound in the air and then draw away. Kind of a teaser trailer. C'mon, if you gotta kiss, kiss already!

    Somehow I just don't see guys doing it. Arabs in thobes used to do it in the middle east but they would kiss the nose (they would even hold hands in the market place), but not here. No way are you catching me kissing a guy friend hello. Guys would normally grunt each other's existence with a 'wassup'.

    2. Go to the washroom together.

    You are in a group. Suddenly girl 1 says 'I have to use the ladies' room.' Girl 2 suddenly says, 'wait! I will go with you'. And suddenly it's just the guys left behind.

    The only time guys go to the washroom together is when I organize outings. Since I am a compulsive planner, I will say (let's say we went to Wonderland), 'OK, we have 10 minutes per ride before the crowds get bigger and lunch is scheduled at 2, so right now we have 5 minutes to go to the washrooms. Next washroom break is scheduled in 1.5 hrs. You gotta go, go now!"

    3. Dismiss their cars as 'this old thing'.

    To guys, our cars are our alter egos. They are our best friends. If it's a new car, we talk about its horsepower and the deal we got on it. I have yet to meet a guy who did not get a deal on his car. If it's an old car, we talk about it's wonderful gas mileage or the ever surprisingly-still-functioning air conditioning. We never, NEVER, dismiss our cars as 'oh this? This old thing! Yeah, it gets me around.'

    I even knew a girl who got a Nissan 350Z and wanted it automatic. Who drives a sports car with automatic. She even put a cute-(there's that word again)-looking sleepy Winnie the Pooh bear on the back window. Somewhere the soul of the 350Z must have died.

    4. Use the expression 'it's soooo cute!'.

    Girls do it. They see a puppy with drool running over the side of its face and go 'oh it's soooo cute!'. They see a baby in a stroller and go 'oh it's soooo cute!'. Well, duh. Last time I checked all babies were cute. We guys are smart. We don't have to say it. We know.

    Sure, a guy will say ''it's soooo cute!'. But that's only in the company of girls, just to earn brownie points with ulterior end motives. In the company of guys only, we might go as far as to say 'oh it's cute'. It's the word 'soooo' in front of the word 'cute' and the exclamation mark at the end that makes the expression 'it's soooo cute!' a girl-exclusive statement.