Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You Want Justice, No?

Two strange legal cases caught my attention today. One is in Canada. A man and his female friend broke up. Unknown to him at that time, she had become pregnant by him. Upon their breakup, the woman decided to give up the baby for adoption. She contacted interested families and selected a couple. A contract was drawn up between the two parties. Upon birth of the baby, the new couple adopted the child.

The biological father than found out about the child. He sued to gain custody of the child. Even though a paternity test proved that the child was his, even though the law grants him rights, even though he proved he was deceived by the biological mother, the court decided, in the interests of the child, it would be best at this time to keep custody with the adoptive parents. The court ruled that the child was at a delicate emotional stage and had formed bonds with the adoptive parents and therefore ruled that the original contract between the mother and the adoptive parents was valid. It also ruled that the biological father would be granted more rights, but later, and not full custody at this time.
Smith (the judge) said in his ruling that the child's welfare must always be the most important consideration.[source]
Even though I disagree partly with the verdict, you can see where the ruling is coming from. It is stemmed from a desire to ensure the child's welfare is paramount. This is why laws in the West are constantly re-written because new situations arise and the judges are always urged to look beyond the letter of the law. This is why Canada was so opposed to mandatory minimum punishments because they treated each case on its own merits.

Now contrast this to the following ruling in a so-called Islamic court upholding so-called Sharia.
The Dubai Court of Cassation has upheld a verdict issued by the Sharia Court ordering the termination of a five-year marriage between a national woman and an Egyptian man after the wife's guardian filed a lawsuit against it saying it was solemnised without his consent. [source]
In other words, this was a man and a woman, happily married to each other, WITH A CHILD, for five years. And the judge saw it fit, "Islamically", to break up the family. All because the law of the land stated that for a woman to marry, she must have the consent of her guardian. The law of the land that is derived from the Maliki/Shafi schools of thought where a woman requires such a consent.

If you want to know why clear thinking Muslims should oppose Sharia in the West, it's because of dick-headed judges like these, who clearly have no concept of fairness and justice and cannot look beyond the boundaries of their tents. And from what little I have seen, the mullahs in the West who advocate Sharia are no better.

To those who says Islamic laws are final, unchangeable and just, I give you Caliph Umar's example, a man about whom the Prophet had said the following:

"If there was to be a Prophet after me, it would be Umar."

Umar realized that when the Sharia was imposed, the end result of each ruling must be to ensure that justice has prevailed. Upholding the letter of the law is not as important as ensuring that each ruling is just.

It was this spirit of justice that led to Umar to decide at one point during his Caliphate that he would not punish thieves who stole above a certain limit by cutting off their hands, as mandated by orthodox Islamic rule. At that time the Islamic empire was going through a drought and a plague, and people were forced to steal out of poverty. Umar decided that it would not be fair to punish those thieves who stole just enough to feed their family during the drought. The punishment to cut off hands is mentioned in the Quran, and IS A COMMAND of Allah, yet Umar felt it would not be just according to those circumstances, and so he temporarily suspended that law. All in the spirit of ensuring justice.

Yet today we break up families.

Once a woman brought a claim against the Caliph Umar. When Umar appeared on trial before the judge, the judge stood up as a sign of respect towards the Caliph. Umar reprimanded him, saying, "This is the first act of injustice you did to this woman!"

If you want justice, fair play and equal rights, it seems the non-Sharia laws of the West are more Sharia-like in spirit than the so-called Sharia laws of these Muslim countries!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Awkward Moments As A Muslim #306

I am in the washroom, washing my hands. The other guy just got in.

"Hey Mezba, going for lunch today?"

"Ah... no, not today."

"Why not? It's dim-sum Monday special today!"

"Um ... I am actually fasting."

"FASTING?!! Why? Don't you always fast in ... Ramadin?"

"RamaDAN. Yes, usually. But today is a holy day. Ashura. So we fast for two days."

"I see. I see." [not seeing at all] "Did you say just today is a holy day?"

"Yes, I did. Why?"

"Because you just said you fast for two days, and now you say only today is the holy day."

"Well, we fast for two days, either yesterday and today, or today and tomorrow."

"Oh, why is that?"

"Um ... to differentiate ourselves from the Jews and Christians."

"I see. I see." [really puzzled now] "So Jews and Christians fast today too?"

"Um... no. Not really."


"Dude, finish peeing first!"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thou Shalt Cross The Pig

In the Middle East education was funny. Our teachers, particularly in The School I attended, tried to make us lead a very sheltered life, assuming that school was the only place we would learn of the world, and pretending TVs and non-school text books did not exist.

One of our English books when we were kids was the Junior English series by Haydn Richards. It often had excerpts from famous books for English exercises, and once during Grade 6 the book for that year had a few passages from the Treasure Island, and it contained that famous phrase, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum".

Our teacher, a certain Ms. Faiza Yasmeen, if I remember rightly, was mortified.

"Boys," she instructed the class. "Pick up your pencils."

We did so.

"Now cross out the word 'rum' there. Rum is a very bad drink. Rum is haraaaaaaaam in Islam. From now on, I want you all-" she looked sternly at us, "-to read this word as 'ORANGE JUICE'."

"Yes, miss." We all replied in monotone.

So for the rest of the term, the right answer to "what phrase did Long John Silver's parrot used to say?" was:

"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest--
...Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of orange juice!"

Of course such misguided attempts to protect our imaan did not stop there. Our science text books were notorious for having pictures of pigs. Oh, the horror! We were encouraged from an early age by The School to take a red pen and cross out every picture of a pig we see in our book, so as to affirm our oath of not eating pork. Me, being me, would cross the picture with a pencil, which could be erased later. I mean, why spoil a perfectly good book?

The fun intensified in Grade 10, during our O Levels Biology course. There was a rumor that the chapter on Human Reproduction had vivid diagrams. As soon as everyone got the books, all the students dove straight for page 180.

And they were bitterly disappointed.

There was a biological diagram of the process, including the "moment" (when two becomes one). Unfortunately for the students, Mr Gazali of the Bookstore had taken considerable pains to use a black marker to completely shade out the offensive material on the 40 or so textbooks. Not a square inch of the diagrams were visible, such was his diligent devotion to his job.

There were however five textbooks which did not have such shading. They all belonged to the Bangladeshis in our section, who being smarter cheaper, had obtained the book from Bangladesh during the holidays.

At first I couldn't figure out why they wanted to borrow my textbook for a few minutes. Then one Arab student told me.

"Ah," I nodded. "You might wish to turn to page 184." Post birth topics, including breast feeding. And it had pictures! Wallahi! It was like striking gold.

All this was brought to my mind as I was reading this post of Suroor.

We cover up so much, yet we are so indecent.
We know, yet we are uneducated.
Islam wants us to learn, yet the Muslims want to be ignorant.

Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of orange juice!

Related Links:

Suroor on Sexual promiscuity amongst Muslims
Haleem on Sex Education in Bangladesh

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Am Good Now

The Friends TV Show:

Joey: Hey man, how you doing?
Chandler: Man, I feel really bad after that break-up (with Janice).
Joey: Aw man. Here, I will order some pizza, and we will watch all my taped re-runs of Baywatch, OK?


Friend: Hey man, wassup?
Me: Man, I feel so down.
(Soon to be former) Friend: Hey man, shit happens. Suck it up.

I am just kidding about the soon-to-be-former part, of course. I feel a lot better now. As Ruby said, apparently yesterday was the most depressing day of the year. I have one of those days. Life, everything, seems to be at a stand still and for some reason you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

At those moments you take a deep breath and start counting your blessings. Your family, for one. I look at all the wacky families I know and repeat my thanks that my parents and siblings are all normal people. Your health, for another. And so on. It starts making you feel a lot better.

I watched Shah Rukh Khan host Kaun Banega Crorepati (the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire). He is a funny host, except when he tries to talk to the computer (Compaq Da?).
* * *

A family friend came over today, including his ten year old son. While perusing the house he came across my PS2 and the games collection.

"Can I play?" He asked, pointing to the console that was beneath the TV, locked in the stand.

"Um, no." I replied.


I quickly thought of an excuse.

"Some of the games cannot be read." I answered. It wasn't a lie. Some of the 4 year old game CDs, that has been scratched really badly, could not be read.

"Oh," the dude paused, and then replied, "well you know what you can do? You can take the CD and wash it with the soap they use in dishwashers, it works great."

I looked at him in shock. He's ten years old. He's not supposed to know anything except Yu-Gi-Oh.

"Well," I tried to bluff, "what if the PS2 itself cannot read the CDs?"

Notice I didn't lie. I just asked a question.

"Well," the little dude answered that question, "then it's probably the lens. You need to clean the lens with a special solution."

"How the hell-" I caught my language in time. "How do you know all this?"

I am telling you, kids nowadays. They should ban How Things Work and the Discovery Channel from some houses. I let him play the PS2 for sometime, he seemed to know his stuff.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Depression Is ...

Has anyone listed what depression is?
Nazrul wrote a poem "Sritshti Sukher Ullashe", describing happiness,
Yet even he gave Depression a miss.

Depression is the lack of answers,
From the pious who are now taken to task,
The constants that defined the boundaries are gone,
And the sinners – in the halo of piety do they bask.

Do tauba and all is forgiven, says our Lord,
What is the use of living good,
When the ticket to heaven is just one word?

Depression is a list of names
That is slowly being crossed,
As you realized each and every one of your friends,
Is closer to truly being bossed.

Depression is the breaking of a heart,
When one is forced to say no,
The slow pause as she takes it all in,
And for the final time types "got to go".

Depression is the sound of a glass, raised in toast, clinking,
It is the sound of the final call for his flight,
Your best friend has a job in another country.
Who will you now call in the middle of the night?

The lack of creativity,
The stifling of productivity,
The rolling back of celebration,
And the all-consuming fire of envy and jealousy.

Thy name is the black spot of the heart.

Whenever I feel down, this video is always good for a laugh :-D

Saturday, January 20, 2007

On The Big Brother Controversy

If you have followed the news over the past few days, you may have heard of the big controversy of alleged racism on the British show Big Brother. For the uninitiated, Big Brother is a house where almost every room has a camera, and the house mates live there for three months, every moment of their lives in the house captured on camera, with highlights being shown every evening. Every so often, viewers get to vote and evict one member from the house.

Shilpa Shetty

To spice up the house mates for the current run, Big Brother persuaded Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty to participate in the game show, with the added bonus of having a South Asian audience tune in as well.

It didn't take long for the other members of the show to turn on Shetty, allegedly calling her a "dog", "Paki", asking her to "fu** off home", as well as making comments about the Indian race as a whole. The controversy blew up spectacularly when South Asian members of Britain's Parliament brought it up in parliament to discuss racism. It also became a diplomatic incident with members of Britain's government on a delegation to visit India being asked about it. More than 40,000 complaints were registered against the show and they lost a major sponsor. Effigies of the show were being burnt on the streets of Mumbai (some people have too much time on their hands).

As I read through all this, I can't help but think "any publicity is good publicity" when it comes to celebrities. Shetty's career wasn't going anywhere and this puts her in the public spotlight, that too in a sympathetic manner. She is now likely to win the game show. Big Brother becomes the most watched show on TV. Viewers vote the alleged racist off the show and all is good with the world again.

I am also surprised by the slew of commentators from India slamming Britain. "Oh I thought Britain was a tolerant country," said one (a government MP!). "Now I know what is really under the surface."

Oh please! As if India is such a tolerant country. Not just India. The whole subcontinent. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. We discriminate daily based on caste, skin fairness, gender, religion (or inter-religion as in Sunni/Shia so on). Yet we are always the first ones to criticize. Ever looked into our own souls? You can make a whole Crash movie out of just the South Asian / Arab community.

Goody fights to save career

Shilpa fears racism

India seeks UK racism probe

Row not to impact India-UK ties

Let's vote for Shilpa: Brown

Monday, January 15, 2007

Desi Marriage FAQ For Dummies

Q: What is an arranged marriage?

A1: Arranged marriage is the process through which a loser like him will get a knockout like her that he will never get in real life.

A2: Arranged marriage is the process through which she will get the BMW of her dreams by marrying the doctor of her nightmares.

Q: How many functions are there in a desi marriage?

A1: It depends on how much your parents love you and how much they are prepared to spend on you. Parents, if you have two kids, decide which one you love more now. The other one is going to elope.

A2: Three functions.

Q: What's the first of the three functions?

A: It's called a holud ceremony, literally the "yellow" ceremony.

Apparently, we have discovered a breakthrough scientific formula.

Brown + Yellow = White.

Q: What is the second ceremony?

A: It is called the akht. This is where the imam decides because a girl is silently crying she is happily agreeing to the marriage, whereas the boy (who should really be the one to be crying) has to soundly pronounce "I do" before the imam will say the magic words "you are now married".

They say marriage completes half of your deen (religion). It is observed that men become more religious after marriage. It is because they realize what they have gotten into and start praying more often.

It is also noted that men become fatter after their wedding. It is due to the fact that when a bachelor comes home, he sees what's in the fridge and goes to bed. Whereas the married man comes home, sees what's in the bed and goes to the fridge.

Q: What is a walimah or reception?

A: This is the occasion where we invite all the people we don't really like but have to invite anyways (also known as relatives), so that they can stand and gawk at us making corny jokes about our supposed night of passion.

Q: Who is the first person to leave the gathering?

A: It's the imam. We invite him so he can say the obligatory Quran recitation, do some lecture on why marriage is important, eat and then leave, so we can start our gaana bajaana (music). It's usually best to invite Bengali imams. They know very little Quran so they usually recite Surah Asr (only three verses - very short). The translation is even shorter as they don't know Arabic so just talk in general of why the President of America is an evil man.

A guide to checking out the bride:

Yes, we all know why you are really in the line to take a picture with your 'friend' and your new bhabi - you really want to see how lucky the bast*** got. So this is how you do it.

1. Keep your gaze down.

Be like a good modest desi and lower your gaze. That way, when the time comes, you can look up. Slowly. And check her out completely from bottom to top. If you start at the top, once she starts saying "Hi" you are stuck, you gotta look at her face and make small talk.

2. Don't let out a whistle.

Very important.

How to check out the groom:

Just gaze at any standard guy in a tux and a tie. They all look the same.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cross Culture Marriage and Racism

Around two years ago I briefly raised the topic of marrying a non-Bengali with my father. I had no one in mind, just a general inquiry. My dad turned to me, eyes narrowed, and in that baritone voice mouthed "What?"

"Um," I replied, somewhat meekly, "some people say it is recommended in Islam to marry outside your culture."

"I see." My father nodded understandingly.

"But," he noted, "some people also say it is recommended in Islam to wake up at 4 am in the morning and offer 20 rakats of Tahajjud prayers everyday."

End of conversation.

I was reminded of this anecdote this morning when I was getting my daily dose of Canada's news. The Toronto Sun reports that according to a survey they conducted, half of Canadians are racist. Which is pretty surprising as I must be running into the other half only then.

What was interesting was one of the questions used in the survey.

Would you have a positive reaction, negative reaction, remain indifferent or it would depend on the ethnic origin if your child were to marry a person of another ethnic group than yours?

So if you have a negative reaction when your child tells you he or she has found a partner but it's from a different ethnic group as yours, you are branded a racist? I don't agree, and frankly I am surprised that with a question like that the figures are not higher than 50%.

I am not going to debate whether marrying outside your ethnic group is right or wrong. That's like debating whether liquid soap is better than a bar of soap. There is no right answer. Each has its merits and drawbacks and it depends on the individuals and circumstances to choose what works for them and make it work.

When people object to their children marrying someone different, it's not based on racism but on fears about their offspring's happiness. For every success story like Suroor or Abu Sinan, there are also many unhappy stories. I personally had a Bengali female friend who married a Pakistani guy against her parents' wishes. Couple of years down the road, she wrote a letter to her parents.

"It is better for both your peace of mind and happiness that you forget you ever had a daughter."

Why? The husband had turned from Prince Charming to Abusive Drunk and Playboy, especially after the couple decided to settle in Lahore. Their story has become fodder for all Bengali fathers in our community who warns their daughters against the charm of 'deceptive Pakistani' guys. Racism?

I think when parents object to such marriages, it is more of a desire to see their own cultural traditions maintained in the next generation, and to ensure their children do not start their new life with the additional challenges of a culture gap.

On the other hand, a couple of friends of mine are somewhat involved with IMAP. They were telling me it's amazing how many girls do not want any man from their own community. Moreover, it is now becoming a trend in many mosques for the preachers to promote cross-cultural marriages, as they tackle the problem of lack of partners in the Muslim community here. I spoke to one such imam recently.

"Kids here are Canadian," He told me. "So it doesn't matter if you come from Guyana or Bangladesh, you are part of the same North American culture."

His point was that it's hard to meet prospective partners in North America if you constrict yourself to your own ethnic origin.

"Besides," the imam continued, "if we stop our daughters from marrying a Muslim man of a different culture, ultimately, they will end up marrying white Christian boys." Now, is this racism?
* * *

On a lighter topic, here's confirmation of the worst kept secret in India.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Three Songs And A Video

This post is dedicated to my sister. I don't know why. Just. Because.

I have a bad habit of "spoiling" songs. Make them go rotten, according to her.

You see, when I get a new song that I like, I add it to my queue on Winamp. And then I play it.


It's good if I get 3 or 4 songs, then I can cycle through that list, but when I get this one song - I play it in a repeat loop. It's just so damn good!

But then my sister will barge into my room - "Will you shut that song already?!! Man it was such a good song and now you have spoilt it!"

I guess listening to a song for the 30th time in a row does that to you.

And it's not just on my laptop. I will copy it to my ipod and play it in my car. Then I will copy it to my work computer and play it at work. It will be on my ipod as I work out. And it will be on my mp3 alarm clock to wake me up. OK so now you know why I scare off some people one more weird fact about me.

At least I am not as bad as the legendary cleaner in Dubai. People who grew up with me will know who I am talking about (let's just call him E). E used to clean everyone's houses that I knew of. He liked this one song so much (I think it was some stupid Bengali folk song called 'Majhir Lungi' or something). In those days CDs had still not come out and it was all tapes. E had a Walkman (it was those free Walkmans you get when you buy 10 Nido cans - ah free stuff of Dubai where hast thou gone?).

And E hated to press the rewind button every time for that song - so he did what any sane person would do. The whole 60 minutes of that cassette, side A and side B, had just one song, repeated a dozen times, throughout the tape. That story has become a legend.

Currently I have three songs and a video that I just can't get enough of. Be sure to get originals and not crazy remixes.

The first one is this song called "Bad Boy" from the movie Pyaar Ke Side Effects. It's a pop song - with deep meaningful lyrics. Well, as meaningful as you can get in a Bollywood item number. It's sung by Sophie, and there is this one line in the song (once you get past the cheesy "would you be my bad boy" intro):

"jo bura hai, woh dil ko lagta bhala hai"
(what's bad, this heart finds it pleasing)

Speaks to my stage of life (hah!) - tired of being the 'good boy' all the time, I want to be baaaaad. *evil laugh here*

The next song is this amazing, delightful, marvelous, fantastic song sung in a superb manner by the singer Kay Kay. It's from the film Woh Lamhe and called "Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai". You will love it. Just the composition, music, lyrics - it's all perfect for those who are in love. The lyrics are soulful.

The final song in my trilogy of Songs About To Be Spoilt is from the new film Salaam-E-Ishq. It's sung by Adnan Sami and the song is "Dil Kya Kare". The music is good, the voice is melodious and the lyrics go well with the mood of the song. Although one line of the song says "I am in love because even in the coolness of January I get hot sweats" could be due to global warming and not because you found Miss Right.

Now for the video. This will give you a kick. Asha Bhosle and Brett Lee! Yes, the cricketer. And it's at the top of the Indian charts now!

The video is available on You tube. And when you think Lee wrote and sung the song himself, it's quite good! And yes it's in English so I am not all Bollycrazy here.

Go ahead and spoil away.

PS. And oh, I ran into one Abhishek Bachchan last night.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How We (Heart) Bollywood

Following was the email I sent out to ALL my friends here:

Hey people,
Salaam-E-Ishq, starring like everyone minus SRK, and directed by director of Kal Ho Na Ho, is releasing on Jan 26 (FRI). Do you guys want to go on that weekend? I don't know about you guys but haven't seen that type of mushy film in a while. Show times will be around 8 and 11 pm at Albion/Woodside.

Following was one reply I got from one of my friends:

I am in Bangladesh now, but my flight lands in Toronto at 8 pm on 26th...if some kind soul out there is willing to pick me up at the aiport then I am up for it (11 pm).

Monday, January 08, 2007

Why Do Men Go Back To Marry?

This post is dedicated to all my female friends, sisters and readers. This is probably my most raw and politically incorrect post.

Q: Why do Bengali men go back to Bangladesh to marry?
The short answer: Because they can. And because they don't get here what they can get there.

The long answer:
Before I go on, there are people who know me personally who read this blog. I don't want you to read this post and come to the conclusion that I am running off to Bangladesh to hunt for a bride, else I will personally come and break your leg. Or get my 'behna' from the previous post to do it for me. I was quite flabbergasted when on Eid a visiting friend asked me, "so when did you get engaged to this British girl?" I was like WTH yet somehow this rumor got started by one over-zealous blog reader.

(also, BTW, if you are going to start a rumor about me, can you consult me first? There are so many things I want people that talk about me to talk about ...)

Back to guys going back to Bangladesh.

It's only guys who have the option of going back to marry. For girls, this is not a serious option. Think about it.

We (the guys) go back, find an educated girl, marry her and come back. She joins us 3-4 months later after the paperwork is processed. Now she is here, but her educational degrees are not recognized, so she cannot work immediately. No problem, in our culture it's the man who earns. So while we go to work, she can study and get her credentials recognized, and then she can join the workforce. It's compatible with her upbringing.

Now imagine you, the girl, bringing your husband over. He was probably working in some good job in Bangladesh. Upon coming here, he has to retake university courses which could take as long as two years. Not only does he have to pay tuition, he has to depend on you for the family income while he studies. Bangladeshi men come from a very male-dominated society and it causes a lot of friction (mainly due to their oversized ego) when it's the wife who is the big earner in the family. On the top of that, his wife is not as submissive as the women he is used to - hence most of the marriages I see where the girl went back and 'imported' a husband has sadly ended in divorce.

The guys these girls married are decent guys to start with, but long hours at odd jobs, language problems, cultural differences, living with in-laws and lack of a proper job causes a lot of marital problems.

Thus it is to the girls' advantage to marry someone already here.

Now for the reasons why guys here go back. There is a saying: "Perception is truth". Things I say here may not be true per se, but the perception of them being true certainly is.

Number one, age.

Take the case of a Canadian desi girl. She has finished university. Age - 22. Now when her parents tell her to marry she will delay it. "I want to live and enjoy my independence first." Two years later - age 24. Then she will reluctantly agree to marriage. Parents start looking. It takes a while. Age - 25.

Guys - same thing. So both sets are looking at age 25. You think a 25-year-old guy wants to marry a 25-year-old girl? Very rarely. Parents have a big say in arranged marriages and most parents of sons want a daughter-in-law at least 2-4 years younger (and truth be told, the guys would like that too). In Bangladesh, most girls I know are ready to get married by 21. If you are the guy, who would you choose?

This is why many girls I know, who started to look for a husband at age 21 or so, met a person they liked, not one they had to settle for.

Number two, attitude.

Call it dhong, nokhra, playing "hard-to-get", whatever. It's cute at first. Then it just gets irritating.

Number three, demands. And being extremely materialistic.

Especially from mothers of girls. Groom must be a doctor. Groom must earn six figure salary. Groom must look like Abhishek Bachchan (even when daughter looks like Aishwarya's mom). And so on. Yes, guys also have demands. But you know what, when guys go back to Bangladesh, they will flash their Canadian citizenship, their condo, their brand new car and they will get a wife who will meet their demands. Unfair? May be. Read this.

Number four, respect.

Respect for the husband. Respect for his parents.

It's sad but in my opinion women here don't respect their husbands as much as women from back home. Statements like "well my husband is just another man who has to EARN my respect" just proves this point. There is a reason why God tells all kids to listen to their mom, and tells the mom to listen to her husband, and tells the husband to obey God to be fair and loving. Man is the head of the household. There is nothing to stop the women from being the neck that turns the head, but the head demands respect.

I have observed how my educated, rich, 'modern' (i.e. not illiterate buffoons from the village but NSU/Dhaka Univ) sister-in-laws from Bangladesh behave with their husbands. And I have seen how wives here treat their husbands. There is a difference. Doesn't stop my complaint that Bengali men are the most hen-pecked of the desi lot, though.

Respect for parents. I just came to know of a girl who wanted nothing to do with her boyfriend's parents. Boyfriend then told her he wanted nothing to do with her.

Despite all of this, personally I would probably marry a girl from here. Even though girls from back home are maybe more Bollywoodishly beautiful, charming, will make tea for me (my only demand), and so on, my reasons for marrying a Canadian Bengali woman would be as follows:
  • All the above promote an idea that "Bengali woman from the motherland are beautiful, subservient, Islamic, obedient". This may be nothing more than an idealized version of how things were, not how they are now.
  • If I marry someone from here I can be sure she is marrying me for me, not for my passport, not for my property and definitely not for my bank balance.
  • I am not prepared to live six months away from her after marriage. Imagine "you may now kiss the bride, ..., and repeat after six months". The immigration hassle is a bother.
  • She is used to the lifestyle here. Girls from Bangladesh (middle class and up) are brought up in a household where there are servants (almost always called Lalmoti or Rohim) who will make their tea, sweep their floors and wash their clothes. Here, we do our own chores. Moreover, a Canadian girl knows of the struggle for life here, and will not be harboring some false hope of the Canadian dream of two cars in the garage and two moose in the pot.
  • From what I have seen, Canadian girls actually are smarter than their Bangladeshi counterparts in many ways.
  • What they lack in respect to their husbands, Canadian desi women make it in love. They genuinely love their husbands (or so I like to believe). I don't have too much experience here (obviously) so I will leave this point here.

Related reads:
Brown Men by Chimichanga.
On Love and Window Shopping by Liya.
PhDs are sexy by Ararat
Superficial Hotties by Haleem.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Belated Eid Mubarak

Honestly, some kids are walking advertisements for condoms. How can you, as a parent, visit someone’s house and let your kid run amok, and not care?

Our house is right next to the biggest mosque in Toronto, so on Eid day we have lots of visitors just dropping by after the prayers. One of them happens to be this family with the cutest kid ever – who also happens to be the Boy From Hell.

The kid, no older than 7, decides he was going to be Zidane, which is not bad, except that my 90-gallon aquarium was going to be Materazzi. Backing up, stroking his foot against the carpet like a bull, he charges to head butt the aquarium. I was just thankful to be there at the proper time at the proper place.

"Hey, don’t do that." I tell him.

"Why," He impishly asks me. And then, without warning, he runs at me. Crash!

Then he runs out to our balcony. Thanks to global warming it’s not full of snow as it should be, but instead I had my gym clothes on a stand, drying out. Hellboy decides it would be fun to drop my sweaty t-shirt on the aunty ringing our doorbell at that moment!

"Uff," I catch up with him. "Don’t do that."

"Why?" He asks again. And from below, the aunty, removing my T-shirt from her face, helpfully interjects, “oh beta, he’s just a kid.” Mind your own business, woman!

Then the boy arms his most powerful weapon.

"I am going to go downstairs and tell Mommy you beat me!" Liar! He starts to wail, with an evil grin on his face. And off he runs.

At that moment, my sister’s friend emerges from her room. She was talking on her cell. She finishes, and places the cell on a little table in the lobby. In a flash, the kid takes the cell in his hand and bends it to throw the phone down the stairs.

Hell hath truly no fury like a girl whose cellphone is about to be destroyed. Quicker than the eye could see, my sister’s friend had snatched the phone back, and then had the kid’s hands clasped together in a vice grip. She knelt down to face him.

"You!" In a stern voice she was looking straight at his eyes. I could almost imagine an evil 80s style Bollywood villain laughter in the background score. "You touch my phone again, and I will break your hands. Then I will work my way down and break both your legs. OK?"

The kid nods, his eyes wide.

"And if you even think of crying then I will punch your eyes out and you will never be able to cry again, OK?"

The kid nods again. No one had EVER scolded him before.

"Now go down straight to your mommy, and sit beside her until I TELL YOU TO MOVE, ok?"

She releases the boy, who meekly walks downstairs, all swagger gone, and remained seated beside his mother for the rest of their visit.

My sister’s friend turns to me and says, "Bhaiyya, some kids just need a verbal spanking."

Yes. It was my turn to nod at her.

Especially if their parents don't give them one. I go back to my room.

She called me 'bhaiyya'! *Sniff*

Eid Mubarak.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Little Mosque, Advice and That Video

As if a relatively balmy 12 degrees in what is supposed to be winter wasn't enough to remind one of the middle east, there were camels in downtown Toronto! It was all a promotional event as the CBC was giving out free chicken shawarmas to celebrate the launch of a new TV series, Little Mosque on the Prairie.

With signs like 'You say tomato, I say tabouleh', the clips of the TV show so far are funny and hilarious. This is one pilot I am eagerly awaiting, and my only complaint so far (already!) is that the Muslim characters are mostly Arab or African. I mean, we do have some Bengali Muslim bloggers ...
* * *

I am not usually accustomed to giving advice. Yesterday a friend asked me for some advice as she was about to graduate. I hope what I said made sense, as the last time someone asked me for graduation advice the situation went a bit like this:

I was eating with a friend who was just about to graduate. As I am in the middle of tackling these mouthwatering scrumptious tiger shrimps in a noodle dish, he tells me, "I am so conflicted."

"Uh-uh." I mumble. The shrimps were so delectably juicy.

"I want to work and earn some money you know," my friend remarked, "but my dad wants me to apply for med school. Our whole family is into medicine and he wants me to continue the work and be another doctor."

"Right, right." I said in between bites. "Man try this, this is good."

"Ya," he didn't even reflect on my oh-so-generous offer of one shrimp. "I am so torn. On one hand my dad left his practice to be here to give us the opportunity, and now I don't want to be a doctor."

"Well," I realized he was not going to give me any peace until I said something. "It's all about following your calling you know. The heart knows what it wants."

I didn't know what I was saying. I just sprouted some rubbish and went back to eating. The next thing I know he is staring at me with his wide eyes.

"Man that's so profound. Wow, that's really deep."


"You have a way with words man. The heart knows what it wants. That's awesome. Thanks man."

So he didn't become a doctor, and is doing quite well otherwise. His father doesn't return my salaams at the parties.

And I still like tiger shrimp.
* * *

Has anyone seen the Saddam execution video? When I first came to know of its existence I did not want to view it, but then morbid curiosity (the kind that draws you towards the scene of a traffic accident) got the better of me, and I viewed the graphic footage. How can I sum up my feelings? Oh yes, shock and awe.

Shock that a state execution, what is supposed to be a sombre and solemn affair, turned out to be a mob lynching, and awe about the apparently fearless way Saddam died, with the kalimah on his lips. And utter amazement at the fact despite the knowledge of his heinous crimes and tales of his brutal oppression, his executioners have actually managed to provoke sympathy for that man.