Monday, January 26, 2015

Ambition + Hardwork = Misson Accomplished


Two years back in jan 2013 I wrote an article about Dawn Loggins who is currently an undergraduate student majoring in linguistics.
Her"s is a truly remarkable story , I was greatly moved by it , more so because she is the same age as my older daughter .No child should go through what she had to. While growing up, Dawn faced many obstacles, including poverty, neglect, and homelessness. Often living without running water or electricity with her drug addict parents. She focused on her education as a way to escape the cycle of poverty and neglect . Dawn and her brother were abandoned by their parents at the age of 17 right before her senior year of High School. She asked her school teachers and councilors for help they gave her job as a custodian and a janitor. She used to get up around 5:00 am mop the halls , clean up the bathrooms . Teachers at Burns High School , North Carolina pitched in money to buy her clothes and other stuff . She sleeps in a tiny room adjacent to the broom closets .
Dawn was a straight A student who applied to 5 colleges , including one Ivy League University and what ........she got accepted at all 5 but greatest achievement was an acceptance to Harvard University which offered her full scholarship .
This gained Dawn national recognition, she has plans to create a nonprofit organization in order to help other students of low socioeconomic backgrounds to excel in school . Dawn "s story got media attention her interview was all over on every channel . 3 national news networks were present outside the school on the day of her high school graduation ceremony .
She wants to major in linguistics and currently is involved in college activities . Dawn works as a motivational speaker which gives her enough money to pay for food and other utilities on campus .
It's been mentioned that her story will be made into a TV movie and a book will be written about her ordeal.
I think her story is more than inspirational which should be shared , one which gives courage to many more like her ........
Lifetime tv channel produced a short documentary on Liza Murray a Bronx , NY resident who became homeless after the death of her drug addict mom when she was only 15 years old . She later got accepted to Harvard and graduated with high honors . Liza Murray works as a public speaker now.
Dawn Loggins is in her sophomore year in college , enjoying life at campus but most of all she works at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter very regularly .

I follow her blog on Tumbler , there was one write up by her , which rejuvenated my spirit to work harder and aim higher :

 Something to Think About
By Dawn Loggings

"On New Years Eve, I was out in Harvard Square eating at my favorite sushi restaurant. While I was walking home, I passed 2 different homeless people and gave them some change because I know it’s much harder, emotionally, to be homeless during the holidays. Then I came across a young homeless woman sitting by the T stop. I had met her while working at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, an emergency shelter run by Harvard students. I greeted her by name and stopped to chat, and I also gave her $1. She said she was looking for a job and asked me if the shelter had a policy against the homeless working there. I told her that I had absolutely no idea, but reminded her that nobody gets paid for being there. We are all volunteers. She teared up, complimented me, and then gave me my money back. No words can sum up how I felt about this, but it’s definitely something to think about."

We may have a "Black James Bond " in 2016

We may have a " black James Bond " in 2016.......

James Bond is the macho hunk adored by women of all ages .Mr Bond has been a source of inspiration for men , he is a British private agent who not only defends the country , but is a master disguise , speed car driver , best at chasing gansters . Ian Fleming created James Bond 007 more than 6 decades back . Last year we celebrated 50 years of Bond in Cinema . All the actors who have played Bond hailed from England and some what had a Scotish heritage starting from the mesmerizing Sean Connery to the flamboyant Roger Moore, the deceiving Timothy Dalton to my favorite Pierce Brosnon to the current Bond the very dashing Daniel Craig.There was one more actor named George Lazenby who worked in only one Bond movie .
Rumors are that the new Bond ( who will be featured in a new movie next year in 2016) will be Idris Elba a British actor raised in England but who is not Scott and who is Black .....African British to be more persice .
He has African roots with his dad from Sierra Leone and mom from Ghana . They moved to England and he grew up near London. He worked in tv shows namely Law and Order in early 2000 before gaining fame in the movie Nelson Mandela : Road to Freedom released 18 months back.
So if Mr Elba will be the new bond it will be a new chapter in the saga of James Bond movies when the barrier of race will be broken and the British spy agency will give a black British guy liscence to kill .........Americans elected Barack Obama 6 years back let's see when the Brits elect a Black Prime Minister to live in 10 Downing Street .

Everybody seems to be excited that actor Idris Elba may be the new James Bond. Everyone .......except Rush Limbaugh who is criticizing Elba’s upcoming role because he is not white or Scottish.

Well for right now Daniel Craig is filming "Spectre " his fourth Bond movie which will be released in end of 2015 .......

Sunday, January 25, 2015

TV series Homeland season 4 set in Pakistan but which Pakistan ???

HOMELAND SEASON 4 : set in Pakistan but which Pakistan?

The season 4 of tv show Homeland is set in Pakistan where the main character runs in the streets of Islamabad ,where there are all men around her , shopping centers and streets of Karachi and Islamabad are lined by same number of women as men .......
The poster shows Claire Danes surrounded by women draped in black burkas , very few women in Pakistan wear these burkas , why is she surrounded with such women , why couldn't she surround herself among educated and modern Pakistani women........
People are speaking Arabic in Pakistan , the Pakistan where I grew up people don't speak or understand Arabic they speak urdu or English or punjabi or maybe Pushto in the northern areas ........

Islamabad is a quiet, beautiful city with beautiful mountains , modern buildings and lots of greenery  ‘Homeland,’ it’s portrayed as a dark grey war zone where shootouts and bombs go off everyday maybe like a war zone .
A Pakistani official said “the show ‘insulted’ the country’s security personnel by suggesting the ISI protected militants at the expense of its citizens”.
Respected team of Homeland kindly do some research before presenting a tv show so you don't make mistakes ........

OBAMA "S TRIP TO INDIA : to please a friend and to displease another friend

OBAMA"S TRIP TO INDIA : to please a friend or to displease another friend ???

Pakistan was 'not at all feeling marginalized' about US President Barack Obama's visit to India but was happy about it, the country's Foreign Miniser Shah Mehmood Qureshi said last week .

'We are glad India is finally warming up to Pakistan. We are not at all feeling marginalized, we are feeling happy about it.'he added .
In response to a question on whether Pakistan was feeling left out, he said" Islamabad had a long history of relations with the US and Obama had announced before his trip to India that he would be visiting Pakistan, some time ".

Ok it's a good clarification but sometimes one has to read between the lines : Pakistanis are not happy that Mr Obama has come all the way to India and he could not drop by at India "s neighbor "s territory for some time .
Actually Pakistanis get super sensitive when it comes to India whether it's a game of cricket , taste of mangoes , quality of clothes or visit by a foreign dignitary ........
Obama is the 6 th president since Hoover to visit India . According to my recollection Clinton is the only US President to visit Pakistan while in office .
Well Mr Obama stayed in Pakistan in the late 80s for few weeks while he was student at Columbia University with his college buddy who was a Pakistani . He enjoyed sightseeing and Paki cuisine especially " aloo qeema"........can you beat that India.


Princess Sarvath of Jordan , wife of Prince Hassan bin Talal is a Pakistani by birth . She is the daughter of a famous Pakistani government official and diplomat  ;Mr Ikramullah and his wife Shaista Ikramullah who was a writer and later served as an ambassador .Princess Sarvath met Prince Hassan in London where both of them were studying . They were married in August 1968 in Karachi what was a grand wedding reception attended by dignitaries from around the world. Later on a reception was held in Amman , Jordan attended by many Royals and diplomats . The couple live " s in one of the oldest houses in Amman , Jordan and have 4 children .
Princess Sarvath is involved with various charitable organizations within Jordan she has helped many organizations which help kids with mental and learning disabilities .Princess Sarvath also donated a girls school in the Notheren area of Pakistan few years back .Princess Sarvath is fluent in English , Arabic , French and Urdu . She is the honorary President of Jordanian Badminton Federation . She also has a black belt in taekwondo .
Princess Sarvath is a grand mother now ,she is still engaged with her social and charitable causeses.


Bronzini fish is found in the waters around the Mediterranean, this species of fish has a shiny silver skin that is consistent in color throughout its body. Similar in appearance, size and preparation to a medium size trout, the Bronzini is served as a whole fish with the head on. It is commonly available weighing from 2 to 3 pounds in size. Often referred to as a Mediterranean Sea Bass, this sweet-flavored, semi-firm white meat of the Bronzini is regarded the best among the fish found in the Mediterranean Sea .
This fish is imported daily to few Syrian restaurants in Michigan ( one of those is Phonecia in down town Birmingham ) . Adil and I were introduced to this yummy fish by our Arab friends .
I found this fish at our local Papa Joe"s grocery store ( they imported it ) and bought it . I am not a Foodie : a person who enjoys cooking and eating food , but I do cook very regularly and food cooked by me is quite edible.I fried Bronzini in olive oil with a hint of parsley and peas after marinating it for some time in cayenne pepper , red chilli powder , lemon juice , salt and paprika ........
I would highly recommend it , bon appetite 🎣🐟🐬

Pakistan .......the beautiful Sohni Dharti

I am extremly proud of my adopted country United States of America,a land of opportunity which gave me respect and confidence.I am also proud of my birthplace Pakistan ..................Pakistan maybe dirty,messy and crowded,streets may have garbage stains of "paan" on them,walls would be dirty with posters and slogans written on them.There may be too many uninvited guests ringing door bells all the time,traffic may be too loud and out of control.People may hate to stand in line,aunties would love to ask too many wierd questions,it may have loadshedding and water shortage ,it may also suffer from pollution and has too many corrupt leaders ...........BUT................this land has people with the biggest hearts!! People know how to entertain a guest,neighbours help neighbours,Grand Parents are always present to give "duas" and friends will come to help you when ever and where ever..........Pakistan is the land of "moong phali walas" and "kulfi cart walas",it is the land of kids playing cricket on every street corner and often breaking neighbor "s windows .It is where teenagers love to dance on the musical tunes from Bollywood and Lollywood and rock with Hollywood .......where "luddo","hop scotch" and "tag" are highly competitive games.......It is a beautiful land which produces world's best cotton and lawn fabric and home of some amazing "tailor masters", where 1/3 of the female population is a self proclaimed fashion designer ............It is a country which produces the best samosas,kabab rolls,chicken tikkas,chilli chips and spicy corn..........where cooking is art carried on from generations to generations where every meal is seven course or more .........It is where weddings are a grand 12 day celebration........It produces the best TV dramas which are the talk of town and talk of billboards , it produces the best political satires and is a land of beautiful ghazal singers and Sufi poets .People enjoy the sound of "dholak",smell of henna and saffron,colors of kites,warmth of velvet "razaaies"( wool comforters),camel footprints near Arabian Sea , enjoy climbing K2and the serene beauty of lake "Saif ul Mulk".It is the land of River Ravi,Landikotal Market and Karakoram Highway.It is a land once loved by Mughal Emperors , the streets echo the hallmarks of British architecture .It has one of the best telecomunication systems in the world.........Pakistan is a land where people enjoy watching cricket matches for many hours and days ,where sportsmen are national treasures and where cock fighting and Kabaddi are still popular sports.
It is where people enjoy eating "buria ke Baal " ( candy floss)and drink tea all day long.It is where everyone has many cousins and friends,where kids collect "Eidee" instead of gift. In Pakistan you can smell the fragrance of fresh flower garlands from a mile where colors of bangles,clay pottery and brilliance of "truck art" makes life little more spectacular .........a land where uncles still enjoy reading newspapers printed on paper and aunties enjoy chatting with massis ( maids).........a land where politicians enjoy ordering " strikes " and where public actually is quite politically educated's a country where dads can fit himself ,mom, 5 kids and 3 family members in one car .......and where one moms can tell the best bedtime stories and raise the most resilient and hard working individuals in the world .........
     just open your heart you will see everything ........long live Pakistan

A Presidential Wedding


This was one of the most unique moments in American history.  The President of the United States, Grover Cleveland,   married Frances Folsom. It took place on June 2, 1886 in the Blue Room of the  White House.  It was the only presidential wedding to ever take place in the executive mansion.  Nothing like it happened before or since.

Grover Cleveland was an immensely private person who was a bachelor when he became the President.He was secretly in love with Frances Folsom,who was daughter of his old law partner in New York.Frances Folsom's mother was aware of the romantic relationship .President Cleveland was able to surprise the country when he announced his wedding details just one week before the ceremony.This small wedding ceremony was held in the Blue Room of the White House on june 2nd 1886.At the time of wedding Ms Folsom was 21years old (making her the youngest first lady)and the President was 49 years old.It was the first marriage ceremony of a US President held in the White House.The press recorded every activity of the newly married couple, it was speculated that the marriage will be a rocky one due to the 27 year age difference between the husband and wife.It was also thought that the First Lady and President's relationship will be strained due to his political responsibilities. Yet history shows that the public's speculations were wrong and the Clevelands enjoyed a very happy married life,they had 5 children.

Mrs Cleveland took over the duties   of being White House hostess and her charm won her great popularity.She met with women of the country every saturday afternoons.She was very much admired by the public and young women copied her hairstyle.She helped African American women establish "The Washington Home for Friendless Colored Girls " after she saw two homeless women eating out of garbage cans.
President Cleveland's lost re-election, while Frances said to the staff at the White House that they would be back.  Indeed, Grover Cleveland was the only president to be re-elected after losing the White House.  The second time they returned with a baby.

Ruth Cleveland was beloved by the nation who dubbed her "Baby Ruth."  When she died of diphtheria at age twelve, the nation went into mourning.  Curtis Candy Company issued a "Baby Ruth" candy bar in her memory .........

Evolution of Biryani

Evolution of Biryani
journey of biryani from Asia to North America ........

Biryani is derived from the Persian word 'Birian'. It is a spicy rice and meat dish which is cooked by putting layers of rice , meat , tomatoes , fried onions and spices and sprinkled with food color .It is quite popular in the sub continent and it's believed that it was first introduced in India during the Mughal reign , it could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India. During Mogul empire, Lucknow was known as Awadh, giving rise to Awadhi Biryani. In 1856, British deposed Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Calcutta, giving rise to Calcutta Biryani. Aurangzeb installed Nizam-ul-mulk as the ruler of Hyderabad, as well as a 'Nawab of Arcot' to oversee Aaru Kaadu region (Six Forrests) south of Hyderabad. These moves gave rise to Hyderabadi Biryani and Arcot Biryani. The aroma of Biryani spread to Mysore by Tipu Sultan . It was a royal dish for Nawabs and Nizams. They hired vegetarian Hindus who cooked the "no meat biryani " often with eggs.
History of Biryani dates back to the 1800s yet there are many legends associated with this dish .
One legend has it that Timor, brought it down from Kazakhstan via Afghanistan to Northern  India. According to another legend, Mumtaz Mahal (the beauty who sleeps in Taj Mahal) concocted this dish as a "complete meal" to feed the army. Yet, some say the dish really originated in West Asia. The Nomads would burry an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up after some time .........the pot contained the rich aroma of spices and the well cooked layers of rice and meat .

Every culture and every civilization left it's own trade mark on "biryani".Turkish Pilaf with mild spices and nuts cooked in Turkey , Qubolie pilau in Iran ,Malaysian Biryani and Indonesian Biryani and Sindhi and Bambaiya Biryani and Kashmiri Yakhni Biryani in the subcontinent .

The year 1969 evolved another segment in Biryani Saga ......Student Biryani or Student Cafe which in due course of time turned into a popular Pakistani food chain that is best known for selling its trademark biryani dish, called "Student Biryani."
Apart from having branches in Karachi, Lahore and many other cities  throughout the country, Student Biryani has also expanded to Dubai.The first Student Biryani store was opened in the Saddar area of Karachi by Haji Mohammed Ali , the business is now run by his sons and grandsons .

Student Biryani is a variant of the Bombay Biryani. Bombay Biryani is characterized by the use of dry plums and potatoes in the recipe. The unique taste of student biryani rice remain the use of black cardamom and black cumin seed and a unique masala blend. The recipe of student biryani has never been replicated.

A less spicy version of student biryani was available in the 90`s at Naubahar fast food, saddar, Karachi.
It is highly unlikely that a " Karachi wala " has never eaten Students Biryani .

As many Pakistanis have settled in the Middle East , they took their cuisine with them . Students Biryani was introduced in Dubai in the late 80s or early 90s.

The vast immigration of Indians and Pakistanis to Europe and North America helped with the introduction of their cuisine in the suburbs of London , New York , Toronto and many other cities . There are many Desi restaurants all across the globe serving some South Indian  delicacies like Balti Gosht , Biryani ,Tandoori Chicken and chapli kebabs.

City of New York is termed as the melting pot of various cultures . It is believed that close to 400 various dialects and languages are spoken in the neighborhood of Jackson Heights, NY which is the largest " Desi Corridor " of North America .

It is in the city of New York little far from Jackson Height much closer to midtown Manhattan stands a " Biryani Khoka " . Khoka is like a small street cart where Biryani cooked in a huge iron pot or 'degh'is served and people stand or sit around the cart to eat it.It started as a small business which has expanded to few other locations in the city .
When I read about the Biryani Cart in NY near 6th ave and 46th street,I got very excited that my favorite dish Biryani has made its journey to United States and it is sold out of a Biryani Cart. Ironically Biryani Cart was started by a Bangladeshi American Meruj Kumar . Chicken,Goat and Vegetable Biryani is served here along with yogurt and chutney.Kati Rolls and Tandoori Chicken is also sold at the NY Biryani Cart.It is quite popular around town and was also nominated for the "Vendy Award" several times . Vendy Awards are NY street vendors awards .
I personally have eaten at this street side khoka once or twice . The food is pretty good , may not be exactly like the one served along the Student Biryani Khoka in Bohri Bazzar neighborhood of Karachi but Biryani and Kati rolls served at the biryani cart will definitely bring back many old memories .
On a lighter note it gives you great pleasure looking at all the " Gora Amreekis " enjoying your cuisine while standing around the cart ........only thing different is snow on the ground in Manhattan instead of the afternoon heat wave of the subcontinent ........

Thursday, January 22, 2015

" Adhan " across the campus of Duke University

 " Adhan  "across the campus of Duke University

Duke University is a private research university located in Durham , North Carolina .Duke was ranked among the world's best universities by both THE and QS reports while tying for 8th in the 2015 U.S. News & World Report . It was founded in 1838. Industrialist James Duke established  the Duke Endowment in 1924 and the Institution was renamed " Duke " in honor of him and his deceased father , Washington Duke .
The Muslim call to prayer " Adhan" echoed across Duke University’s campus on Friday the 16 th of jan 2015  the day after university officials canceled plans to have regular weekly service of Adhan from atop the chapel’s bell tower.

Duke University has a very large number of Muslim students attending various research programs . The Muslim students association had acquired permission for regular service of " Adhan " every Friday . The officials had approved it yet few recent incidents sparked an intense debate against it . The University officials reversed the decision on Thursday . But Friday’s call to prayer, held at the base of the chapel at Duke rather than on top of the tower was acknowledged by hundreds of students and faculty members who gathered in bright sunshine on the university ground to listen to Adhan and support the Muslim students . Students were seen hugging, clapping and holding signs such as, “Let us worship together,” with a cross, star and crescent, symbols of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
A speaker explained the importance of the "adhan"or call to prayer, and people passed around an English translation of the words. When the Arabic chant of "Allah O Akbar" :to call people to pray echoed in Durham ,the crowd seemed to hold its breath.

"The idea of amplifying the adhan from the chapel tower was made by the Office of Religious Life and the growing Muslim population at Duke"said Omid Safi, director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center.

Duke University has a total number of 700Muslim students .In 2008, it became one of the first U.S. universities which hired a Muslim chaplain. Soon it began offering Friday jumah prayers, in the basement of the chapel. Duke also houses a Center for Muslim Life  on campus.

The cut loose , one line dropper kind of President 😜😜😜

The "cut loose ", "one line dropper " kind of President .......well done Mr President

It may be the only line Americans remember from the 2015 State of the Union address but it may be the most powerful line delivered by their President .

Calling out for national unity President Obama remarked during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night . "I have no more campaigns to run," he said, drawing loud applause from Republicans in the chamber.

But Obama had a quick comeback: "I know, 'cause I won both of 'em," he said going off script and drawing applause from Democrats.

The President also strayed from his script earlier on as he touted gains in the economy.

"This is good news, people," Obama said, followed by a rare presidential wink.

His hair have gotten grey , his face has few more wrinkles yet he still knows how to throw a presidential zinger ........

Angel among us


"Plots for Tots Cemetery"  is the infant burial area which is adjacent to the Islamic Memorial Gardens Cemetery  in Westland , Michigan , USA . When you walk in this area you cannot hold back your tears by looking at tiny teddy bears , flower pots and reading  the headstones about the babies  resting there ."Plots for Tots " is a section dedicated to babies in the Muslim Cemetery of West Land  ,where fetuses, infants and young children of Muslim Families are buried . Najjah Bazzy a nurse and a social worker and a mother herself bought this piece of land where miscarried babies, infants and toddlers could be buried in accordance with Islamic rituals .
“People need closure,” said Bazzy. They parents are quite heartbroken on the death of the baby and they want to bury him or her in a dignified way.
It is one of a kind infant cemetery in the state of Michigan and perhaps in the entire United States which is dedicated to only Muslim babies .
Parents often find out about the program from physicians ,funeral homes and mosques.
Plots for Tots burial site was dedicated in 2009 and the first baby was buried here in 2010. 39 babies have been buried here up till now and there is room for 190 more . Most of the babies or infants who are buried here belong to poor families whose parents could not afford burial costs.

This program under the umbrella of Zaman International Hope for Humanity  was established in 2002 after Najjah Bazzy became aware of 222 fetuses in a local hospital of which many had been there for years.

Najah Bazzy is an Arab Muslim who was born and raised in Detroit . She is a good friend and a source of inspiration for me . Zaman has " Bayat al Zehra" a food pantry for underprivileged families .Trucks of Zaman International deliver groceries , gently used clothes and furniture to many families living in poverty in the metro Detroit area. She also started the BOOST program which offers sewing lessons to women who were victims of abuse .
Sister Najjah  as I call her is somewhat an "Angel " among us . She always greets you with a smile in the office of Zaman International in Detroit "s suburb of Dearborn . There is no speck of makeup on her face yet it is always glowing maybe with "noor" .
When I asked Sister Najjah  about the need for Plots for Tots she replied "One day I was giving a lecture to a group of nurses on caring for Muslim mothers. I was out of state and speaking at a hospital that served a high concentration of Muslim women seeking obstetric services. My lecture was on Women in Islam and Care of the Muslim Mother .I was explaining the ethical code of Islam concerning birthing, death, burial of babies and other related issues. When the discussion ended, a managing nurse came to me and asked if she could see me privately. She wore a troubled expression. I was obliged . The nurse invited me to visit their pathology laboratory. As I followed her through the corridors we approached the a room, and then we entered a typical pathology lab. The woman raised her hands and gestured to the shelves lining the walls. "Here is our museum of babies," she said. "I don't know what to do with them all. I've had them on shelves here for years."

I could see by their dated labels that some of the containers were seven years old. I looked at the white tubs filled with human beings, little bodies of babies .Some of the containers held two and three babies .They ranged in fetal age from 12 weeks to full term. Little hands and feet, little faces and bodies.
I thought of the Prophet.

Each day as our Prophet left his home, on the way to his Mosque ,he would stop at the cemetery along the way. He would stop on the way and again coming back and say "Salaam" , to the people resting in their graves.

I asked to be left alone for a while. When the nurse had gone, I began to lift down the containers one by one. I said "Assalamu Aleikum, little ones".

It taught me two things: The babies in their jars were orphaned, homeless, helpless. And I was guided".

Sister Najjah "s reply made me burst into tears .

This year in 2014 Sister Najjah  was able to raise enough funds to expand her projects with the purchase of a building in Michigan  that will serve Zaman "s headquarters .

Sister Najjah is a humble down to earth lady , she dresses in simple clothes and a white scarf . She greets you with a smile .She works like any other volunteer in the office answering phone calls , packing donated clothes and toys in boxes .

Sister Najjah bathes the bodies of the infants herself in the funeral house before sending them to the cemetery .

Sister Najjah says " we are all created by God and we all deserve dignity .......young or old , born or unborn ".

Newspaper not the only source of knowledge anymore ✏️✒️✏️✒️✏️✒️✏️

Newspaper : no more......the only source of knowledge .......
NEWSPAPERS : NOT THE ONLY SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE My earliest memories of reading newspaper is as an elementary school student early in the morning during breakfast, my parents always insisted on reading the newspaper as it is was considered the source of knowledge. We used to discuss the world happenings during the Social Studies Class at school and collected newspaper clippings of famous incidents. Now when I look at my kids they get knowledge from the internet, they read about social and political happenings in the world on the computer rather than reading it on a newspaper . “Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel”, was Mark Twain’ advice to the masses during his time but it does not sound quite feasible for the world of today! The ink-stained publishing world is battling against companies that sell ads via Internet. According to my analysis there are several reasons for the decline of newspaper industry; most notably rise of the “cable news network”. Cable TV channels broadcast stories within few hours as it happens in contrast to the newspaper which comes only once a day. Internet is also a huge factor , news is reported on the Internet within few minutes and sometimes within few seconds , that makes the news reported in a newspaper “ old news” or “ news of yesterday “ . Another factor is money, printing presses need big offices , warehouses and salaried employees while E-books and online based newspapers require less overhead and large profits earned through advertisement revenue . It is also “impractical” to dig through a pile of newspapers to obtain a news story from last year; whereas with the internet, archives exist. Yes for sure the world of today has many different sources of information . Well when I look at my parents I see them enjoying the morning newspaper printed on paper while enjoying a cup of tea. On the other hand my kids read about the world issues on the Internet and they read books on various electronic educational devices. As for “me” I do click the computer several times during the day to get the world news, yet I also buy newspapers from grocery stores and book stores and enjoy reading every page . I think it’s not only the evolution of social media but it is also the evolution of human beings and it will continue on.

Desi/Paki/Brown Thanksgiving

Desi-Paki-Brown Thanksgiving
A VERY DESI - PAKI - BROWN THANKSGIVING Thanksgiving is a day for us the ever expanding Paki Desis or what our children label as " brown people " party . It is not just an event where we sit across the table and be thankful to God. It is somewhat one of our many yearly parties where we dress up in our glitzy " Desi outfits" , talk about politics ( Desi and Amreeki), talk about latest fashion trends , update each other about Desi dramas BUT the menu is not our traditional biryani, Karahi chicken or gajar ka halwa; it is a "turkey " cooked with Desi spices and a spicy masala stuffing . Apple pie or chocolate cake replaces Pumpkin pie as we Desis are not fond of eating Kaddoos ( pumpkin). Well we all are certainly grateful for everything and just another reason to have a dinner party .........

Girls school funded by Angelina Jolie


Angelina Jolie is not only a prominent Hollywood movie star , she has dedicated a lot of her time and financial resources to create awareness about many problems like genocide, mother/ child health care  and illiteracy . Her latest humanitarian project is a school for girls she opened in Afghanistan and plans to fund with profits from retail sales of her Style by Jolie ( jewelry line).
Many Afghani girls have  to sneak out of the their homes to attend school and in most area there are simply aren't any schools for girls at all.
In extreme cases schools for girls have been burned down with the teachers threatened or even killed.
Ms Jolie opened the primary school for girls in an area outside Kabul with a large refugee population . It is the second school in Afghanistan funded by Angelina Jolie after one was set up in 2010.

This  girls-only primary school has several hundred students already and is in an area just outside of Kabul in a region known for resistance to education for girls.
Angelina Jolie has built a great humanitarian reputation almost as prominent as her movie-star status. She's a UN Goodwill Ambassador. She has just returned from a trip to Congo and Rwanda with the British foreign minister to highlight the horrors inflicted on women and girls by the use of rape as a weapon of war in conflicts around the world.
In the past she has visited many other African countries , Afghanistan and Pakistan to highlight child education and health issues concerning women and children .
She and  fiancΓ© Brad Pitt have adopted three children from Africa and Asia.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Martin Luther King : dreamer or visionary

My younger daughter Amber won MLK essay contest here is her essay : Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamer or Visionary? Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamer or Visionary?

Martin Luther King Jr. was simply a man to himself, however people saw him as a hero or savior of the Civil Rights, and indeed he was but it’s his beliefs that really defined him. In 1955, King was arrested by leading a boycott in a transportation company at Alabama, which demanded non-whites to give up their seat to any whites that boarded and they would get up and move to the back of the bus, King didn’t seem this process was fair to the African-Americans who have rights as well as whites. He kept on giving speeches and protests that weren’t violent at all. He put his life in risk just to speak out his mind and try to get other victims to stand up to themselves. In 1963, King continued his work to try to encourage other African-Americans by protesting to the whites and writing speeches getting him in the headlines global. One included King’s “I have dream” speech, in Washington D.C, which touched many others deeply. One quote from this speech is, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” What I understand from this piece of King’s mastery speech is that he’s saying that even if the non-whites get their rights back they as a community will always stick together and make sure that if they ever get into a situation like the civil rights movement they will never forget about their hope. King’s death was so powerful and inspiring that the congress made a law for the Civil Rights Movement. King’s awards included the Nobel Peace Prize, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and The Congressional Gold Medal. King’s legacy will always be remembered to all, his acts spread across the Atlantic Ocean into South America which influenced the Black Consciousness Movement and Civil Rights Movement in South Africa. Albert Lutuli, one of kings inspiration, fought racial justice in South Africa, was also a African American Nobel Peace Prize winner. His family also followed King’s footsteps. Starting out with Coretta Scott King, King’s wife, the same year of King’s assassination established the “King Center” in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as both social and civil justice. King’s son Dexter King is serving his part by being the King Center chairman. Lastly, Yolanda King, King’s daughter, was both motivational speaker and founder of Higher Ground Productions, an organization specializing in diversity training. Martin Luther King Jr. inspires me because he believed in others and he knew that his words will cause people to think their minds off, and that he never gave up on them he kept on pushing them even if that meant pushing them to the extremes. He would always have faith in everyone whether their race, gender, religion or ethnicity he thought everyone was part of the solution that will forever face the earth, the symbol for hope. “The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open” ~Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream

Timbuktu the movie : nominated for the academy awards

Timbuktu is a film about a group of people who are Islamic extremist and fundamentalists who impose restrictions on local people living in a Malian city . It  is quite a courageous project ........more so when the movie maker happens to be a Muslim. "As soon as I heard about the nomination, I was overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling," the film's director Abderrahmane Sissako said in a statement.

The movie 'Timbuktu' tells the tale of the militants occupying a town in Mali and trying to impose various restrictions .
It is getting a lot of international exposure, because this film is the first ever Oscar nominated film from Mauritania . It made the list of Best Foreign Language Film , only 5 candidates, out of 83 entries.
'Timbuktu' shows how Libyan jihadists invade Mali and turn the lives of the locals .  They are no longer allowed to play music or to smoke cigarettes, the women are obliged to cover their heads when in public. In spite of all this, the film is not at all harsh or bleak. Some scenes are almost hilarious: the jihadists have to cope with serious language barriers to convey their message , they have a hard time driving cars and are often found secretly smoking cigarettes.

It is not a dark documentary sort of movie but it is quite refreshing to watch . It is filmed mostly in a rustic setting and contains some touching and funny scenes. One example is the scene of a football team playing a game without a ball, because it was not allowed by the jihadists .
It illustrates conflict between the militants and residents in showing a family torn apart by fundamentalism. It dramatizes conflicts between Africans and Arabs, farmers and fishermen, young and old .

Performers from nearly 30 countries perform in the movie, produced by Sylvie Pialat of France and shot in Mauritania .

"Timbuktu" competes for Best Foreign Film with director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s "Leviathan," Pawel Pawlikowski’s "Ida," Zaza Urushadze’s "Tangerines" and Damian Szifron’s "Wild Tales."

Gumbo : cuisine transformed by cultures

GUMBO : CUISINE TRANSFORMED BY CULTURES AND TRADITIONS Louisiana is world famous for its " seafood gumbo "and claims itself as the as the Gumbo Capital of the world .Gumbo can be termed as an "economical dish" which can feed a large number of people with a small amount of meat or seafood. With this dish, cooks can use up small portions of various ingredients that were not sufficient for an individual meal. Gumbo is sort of a thick seafood and vegetable soup which is rich in spices . It is made of a thick stock and served with rice. It combines the culinary practices of French, Spanish, African slaves, Italians and Germans . In the 18th and 19th centuries, people from these cultures lived together in Louisiana. They all added their special flavors to the " gumbo", it is believed that French settlers and native tribes prepared soups with vegetables like onions , bell peppers and corn.Slave Ships started arriving in early 1700s bringing rice and African slaves who could cultivate rice . They added rice and okra in the gumbo . German settlers added meats while the Spanish settlers were mostly fishermen they introduced fishing of shrimps , oysters and crawfish. They started making the gumbo soup with seafood. A large number of people from Canary Islands move to NewOrleans in that time they spiced up the gumbo with hot peppers and cayenne peppers . Louisiana was purchased by United States in 1803 , after which tomatoes were also added to the "gumbo". Since the 19th century, gumbo has often been served at social gatherings or on other special occasions .In rural Acadiana in southern Louisiana, gumbo is a central feature of Mardi Gras celebrations. On Mardi Gras, local men wander from house to house asking for gumbo ingredients. Members of the local community then gather in a central location while the men cook the gumbo. When it is ready, the group eats and dances until midnight, when Lent begins. Hundreds of restaurants around the French Quarters area in downtown New Orleans serve the finest quality gumbo . It is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana .

Wag the Nation ; a smart game of distraction

Wag the Nation : a smart game of distraction

It was Imran Khan who launched the Azadi March on 14 th August 2014 . He and his supporters marched to Islamabad where they sat in the " dahrna" , a protest against the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif .Mr Khan asked for the prime minister "s resignation . His roaring speeches , the huge sea of supporters beside him definitely gave the government some hiccups . The government of PML (N ) realized it would not be easy this time around for them to fool the people of Pakistan . Mr Khan "s PTI is the third largest political party in the country but he emerged as the most noted " opposition leader " or maybe a representative of the people who had the courage to tell the ruling party what they are doing wrong . The dharna or the sit in went very well initially which shook up the government of Nawaz Sharif , army , bureaucracy but as time passed there was no resignation from the prime minister no signing on the five points or three points agenda . As the warm days of August turned into the wintery days of October and November the dharna and its momentum  pretty much fizzled out of Mr Khan "s hands . He could not achieve what he set out to achieve maybe due to the political maneuvering , army and foreign interventions or maybe  because of his own stubbornness . The crowds of thousands shrank to few hundreds at the Azadi dharna in Islamabad .Then something horrific happened in December 2014 a Taliban group slaughtered 126 students in broad day light in Peshawar at a local army school. The nation and the world was shocked . Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhua the province where Khan"s party PTI is in power .Political parties and their leaders sat together with the Prime Minister in this time of crisis to secure Pakistan , Pakistani schools and most of all it's children .Imran Khan called off the dharna in the wake off this horrific national tragedy and affirmed his support towards the government to hunt down the terrorists .
As days passed and the new year 2015 approached rumors of Mr Khan "s wedding was on its height on the social media and television . Finally on jan 7 th 2015 he announced that yes he is getting married to Ms Reham Khan , a former weather lady on BBC and a current media personality  in Pakistan . They were formally married on jan 8 th 2015.

I was wondering what a smart move on behalf of Mr Khan who quickly and easily he was able to divert the criticism of the media and public from a technically failed dharna and biggest terror attack of the country which took place in the province his party is in control in. News channels and social media has been bombarded with pictures of the newly married couple , the talk of town is not what Mr Khan did or did not achieve by the Azadi March or dharna but who designed his wedding gold  colored sherwani . I applauded him on how swiftly he was able to change the subject . It's not that I dislike him as a politician , I think he is the " lesser of the evils " among there . He may be slightly better than other leaders at least he has the guts to tell the truth and at least he does not seem that corrupt . I understand this marriage was not planned in a jiffy and he would be friends with his new wife and planning to marry her but " Sir your timing could not be more perfect !".......
Imran Khan " s latest move to distract the public or rather divert their attention reminds me of the 1997 Hollywood movie " Wag the Dog " produced by Barry Levinson .Dustin Hoffman and Robert   De Niro played the main characters in that movie .The plot of the movie was about the president of United States  who just before the national elections ,created a fake war with Albania so the public"s attention could be distracted from a latest scandal involving the president and a young girl .
Imran Khan is not in a "crisis "or "so called scandal " yet his timing is perfect people will forget the failure of dharna and his party " s failed security measures in Peshawar . For some time they will be busy talking about his new bride and wedding pictures . After all he was once the most "eligible bachelor "of the country .........
Perfect example of : Wag the nation , a smart game of distraction.