Saturday, May 30, 2015

Story hood of the Desi Traveling Scenarios


Being a frequent traveler I have come to the conclusion that " us Desis are quite peculiar and unique as travelers" ; I can easily  admit that we Desis are by far the most obnoxious travelers.

There are  many unique stories of traveling in an airplane but the funniest by far is that of many elderly people traveling with their prized possessions most notably the "lota". One of my friends told me about a Bengali passenger carrying raw stinky fish from a flight from Karachi to Dubai.Quite thrilling .......

We Desis tend to shop more and pack a lot. Gifts are not just gifts according to our logic they are everything which can fit in a suitcase. From laptops to makeup to toys and tons of food items, and many people who have carried " achar " and " chutneys " in their handbags, I guess the aroma captivates the other passengers for many days.

As Goras believe in using the washing machine during any vacation which helps them pack light, we don't think about them and we pack abundant stock of clothes.

During one of my voyage I saw a big wrapped package of sugar cane on the conveyer belt. How Sugary!

 Traveling with kids and in planes full of children the music system rarely works across the background of the kids screaming during take-off and landing.Yet an airplane becomes a good social spot where you can make new friends with fellow passengers. Once when I was gathering my stuff at Karachi Airport I could hear the musical ABC echoing from some where in the background ; it was the music coming from a kids toy packed in a suitcase.

We Desis love to cook and our love is closely associated with our cuisine. Very often passengers carry home cooked tin packs and railway travelers easily carry their " tiffin " or the very modern ice cooler loaded with home cooked food items.

While people belonging to other ethnicities focus on sightseeing we focus on food ; loading a car with unlimited supply of snacks.

I remember sitting in friend"s car whose family were on their way to attend a cousin " s wedding . The car was completely packed; glittery wedding clothes hanging in one corner, aroma of "besin key luddos" coming from the trunk, while the sisters singing  mehndi songs along with the beats of the dhol. The car was more than a mini Shaadi Hall.

Many Desi travelers are found arguing with the airport officials over the size of their hand carry bags which are close to the size and weight of their checked in bags, yet the passengers seem to overlook the matter.

When our kids were younger my husbands biggest ordeal was to fit a " double stroller " in the above seat cabin. It is quite an ordeal, those with young children can totally understand.

We Desis travel with not only one handbag but with numerous bags, we believe in carrying our entire " Ghar gharisti" with us !

Well whatever like our culture we are colorful Desi people who travel with some unique fanfare........

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Reclaiming a city ; one wall at a time

Paan splatters, vulgar language,dirt, filth,  hate words all over the walls of  the city of Karachi have survived enough but this year, things have changed for the better. Students from numerous schools and universities have taken it upon themselves to breathe a new life into Karachi's walls.

'Re-claiming the walls of Karachi' is one of the three projects led by Adeela Suleman, head of the Fine Arts Department at Indus Valley school of Art and Architecture.

Stencil Art Project is being coordinated by Munawar Ali Syed with 15 artists on board. "Up till now we have done stencil art on Hassan Square, Civic Centre, Saddar, Shahrah-e-Quaideen, MT Khan road, Airport, Kala pull,” said Adeela.
She adds, “Through our Stencil Art Project we have so far repainted more than 1000 walls . Under the Bachoon say Tabdeeli project, we have targeted almost 25 walls whereas the Individual Artists’ have remodeled up to 80 walls by now.”

The concept behind ‘Reimagining the Walls of Karachi’ is to evoke a sense of civic activism among the residents of Karachi. The organizers want the public to safe- guard their city by protecting their walls and their spaces.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Honoring the motherly types


The second Sunday in May is special when on this day people around the world honor their mothers on the occasion of "Mother's Day ". A day when kids paint cute paintings and glitter-clustered greeting cards, when teenaged and college kids take out time to take their moms for lunch. When schools invite mothers for special programs and when social media spoils moms across the globe with special poems, write-ups and memorable pictures .......there are some outstanding individuals who are not moms but are far more dignified than a million moms combined!!

Every year I share a true story on Tuesday Talk on Fathers and Mother's Day to honor the ones we love and cherish.

So this year in 2015 the true story is not about a person I saw somewhere or read about, it's about a person who I have met many times, a "regular dad" who is more precious than a mom and dad combined......

Mila is my daughter"s friend. She was born to a young couple, both of them were college freshman's , aged only 19 years. They raised her while studying for tests and took care of an infant along with book reports and college lectures.

Mila"s parents graduated from college when she was only 3 years old. Her mom moved to another state to pursue higher education. She studied and achieved her masters degree and landed a dream job.

What did her dad do ?

He did what few very men do, he took care of his daughter, got a job after obtaining his undergraduate degree. His dream was just to take care of his daughter, provide her with love and comfort.

Fast forward 10 years Mila is 13 year old cute teenager with big brown eyes and a beautiful smile, a straight A student. She has many friends but she calls her dad her best friend. Her mom divorced her dad and has remarried, she is the CEO of a multinational company living in another city.

Mila adores her dad, they are each other's best friends. She rarely talks about her mom, visits her just few days every year.

Every year she celebrates her dad both on Mothers and Fathers Day. Her explaination very simple and heart warming " he taught me to ride a bike, comforted me when I was sick or got up in middle of the night after I saw a bad dream, he made breakfast for me, braided my hair, taught me and my friends to play baseball. He spends his weekends shopping with me, we cook dinner and laugh at crazy jokes. He drops me to after school activities and friends houses. He may not have a very high-fi degree or job but he is the best father out there"!

Mila and her dad are the perfect family they enjoy life and each other"s company more than anything!

This Mothers Day when I honor my Ami who lives many miles away from me yet who loves, prays and worries for me  every minute of the day! And when I am proud of being a "full-time mom" and a "part-time writer", I do pray for Mila and her dad, for a very happily ever after for them ..........

A very joyous Mothers Day to all the hardworking moms, many more who are smiling from the Heaven up above and to many amazing individuals who are more than what a mom could be .........

Monday, May 4, 2015

Fighting Hate with Laughter across NY subways

Fighting Hate with Laughter across New York Subways

"The Muslims are coming, and they're bringing with them hugs so fierce you may be inspired to call your grandma"......
This is somewhat a satirical but awfully true message plastered on posters set to roll out in 140 New York City Subway stations this coming week.

It is a project, intended to subvert damaging stereotypes about Muslims. The idea comes in response to a proposed series of $100,000 ads on MTA buses that feature images comparing Muslims to Hitler.

Wow! What a nice way to squander hate and negativity.

"We just felt like, if someone was going to spend $100,000 endorsing this, why don't we spend a fraction of that promoting a message of love and comedy about Muslims?" said Dean Obeidallah of The Dean Obeidallah Show.

He and another Muslim comedian Negin Farsad teamed up to create the answer to hateful comments through humor . They call it "Fighting-Bigotry-With-Delightful-Posters Campaign".

 "They invented coffee, the toothbrush, and algebra," reads one poster that highlights the achievements of Muslims , "Oh wait, sorry about the algebra. That's a year of class you'll never get back," reads the second part of the text.

Extremely smart move in the city of NewYork  which is a melting pot of cultures in the United States. Out of 8.5 million population of the Big Apple, Muslim population is estimated to range from 600,000 to 1 million. America is definitely a  nation of immigrants where every sect has the right to defend themselves......

When asked about the idea behind these creative advertisements Farsad, a standup comedian replied "Honestly, we both saw the Pamela Gellar news and I was like, 'Oh my god, I wonder how much this costs and if she can do it why can't we do that?"

She and Obeidallah launched a PayPal account, emailed friends, and within a span of 2 days in October 2014, raised $20,000 to buy ad space on the New York City subway. The duo had already established themselves as activists and all-around funny people in their the 2013 road trip movie "The Muslims Are Coming",  which followed them on a laughter infused stand-up tour across America.

The Muslims Are Coming! was 2013 American Comic film co-directed and co-starring Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah. It follows a team of Muslim-American comedians as they tour the American South and Southwest performing free standup shows in town halls, bars, bowling allies .Their mission to "reach out to Middle America" and to show the softer, the comic side of American Muslims.

This maybe a tiny gesture to prevent Islamophobia or negativity towards Muslims but it maybe able to leave a deep impact on the minds of those who read these adds ......after all Muslims are like anyone else, they can laugh, they can crack jokes......
And maybe the best way to counter hate is not through hate but through laughter!