Saturday, September 13, 2014

What happens to a longing unfulfilled? (Poem)

I promise there's a poem at the end of this post somewhere. It's my latest creation, and I'm pleased with it, so. *insert heart icon*

One of the most important things to know about me is that I LOVE rain. I'm crazy about rain. I love thunderstorms, I love threatening skies, I love rainy weather. People tend to associate this kind of weather with misery (a friend once wrote a poem with the line "The sun was shining outside, but it was raining in my heart" - I didn't get it), but for me, nothing could be more romantic, more happier, more peaceful. Rain is beautiful. Rain is peace. Rain is happiness. I've happily passed this love on to Kashmala so that whenever I'm home when it's raining, Kashmala and I walk out without an umbrella (yeah, about that: I don't do umbrellas, you see) and dance! Yes, we dance in the rain, and it feels so, so wonderful! 

And so I've written a couple of poems dedicated to rain. Rainy weather just puts me in that much more romantic a mood! Here's something I wrote a few years ago about why I love rain when I first moved to where I live now and I saw the rain after several months:
Rain truly makes me happy. My heart feels lighter, my mind's at ease, my soul literally feels purified. It's as if the rain is literally washing my tension, problems, whatever else away, cleansing me of all the dilemmas I always find myself in. It's as if my heart is enclosed by the dirt of these petty issues, and the rain washes away this dirt, literally cleaning my heart. And so, when it rains,  I'm like, "What? What problems? I have no problems. I was born a happy person, and I'm going to die a happy person." And next thing I know, I'm smiling and everyone walking by smiles back, and I feel even more content with life and everything around me. Really, rain is SO beautiful.
And it's been raining here the last few days - such a blessing to wake up to and go to sleep to, alhamdulillah! It makes my heart smile.

Now the poem I promised ...

What Happens to a Longing Unfulfilled?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ay Zama Watana by Ghani Khan (song, script)

Ghani Khan is perhaps my most favorite person in history. He's a fascinating character and certainly one of the most brilliant icons to have lived this earth. His humor makes me crazy, his conversation with God and his love for God overwhelm me (in a beautiful way), and his poetry is just ... no, it kills me. It really, really kills me. When I listen to his poetry, sung mostly through Sardar Ali Takkar, I close my eyes, the world stops momentarily, my heart, too, stops to listen, and I'm no longer the same person afterwards. I call this powerful. He died in 1996, when I was too young to know him and all, but if there's anyone in history who I'd love to see in a dream, it's him. (Well, there's a couple of other interesting/influential figures as well, like Mary Mother of Jesus (peace be on them) and Muhammad (peace be on him), but Ghani kho Ghani dey kana :) Ghani is Ghani. Ghani is from me, and I'm from him. I'm OF him. He was Pukhtun, you see. He's my eternal chalice of hope. He, along with so many other brilliant poets and scholars and legends, is a beautiful reason Pukhtuns have something to claim. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

This is what's wrong with Pashto music today

I love my language, I love Pashto music (generally), I love my people (for the most part), and I'm a generally happy Pukhtana. So the post below isn't an attempt at self-hatred or bashing my beeblez. Honestly, I love you all, I really do. BUT there are some things that I'm embarrassed by, and one of those is some really, really lame, stupid stuff that happens in Pukhto songs/music videos, especially the ones from the Pakistan side of the Durand Line. Most Pukhtuns would be embarrassed by them, really. These include:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Rest in Peace, Tayyibah Taylor! Your loss is sorely felt.

Tayyibah Taylor - RIP
I'm so disturbed and overwhelmed to hear about Tayyibah Taylor's passing. I wish nothing more right now than that this were a hoax ... but I don't think it is. It's unbelievable. It's shocking. It's impossible. How can we be expected to accept her loss, and how are we supposed to deal with it? She was an incredible and influential role model to all, not just to Muslim women. I met her twice, (but I wish I'd been around her more) when I was interviewing her for a small project I was doing on Muslim women leaders in the area, and she, of course, was one of the top ones, and the things she shared with me were beautiful. She was such a positive, energetic, and spiritual person that being around her made you reflect on your own self for self-improvement purposes. And that, besides the infinite other things, is how you know her passing is a major loss to our community.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Muscat, Oman in pictures

So I clearly have some more pics to share from my adventures in Oman. And some stories to tell - especially that one about how I *almost* got expelled from CLS (the program I was with). But that still bothers me, and I'm not quite over it yet, so I'll tell it when I'm comfortable enough to do so. And just some general thoughts of mine on Oman ... and my overall review of CLS in Ibri.

Meanwhile, though, here are some photos from Muscat. I had a good time there! Just a little tip: You don't go to Muscat for a short 2-3 days; that's a beautiful and big city, and you need at least a week to enjoy it all! I saw the souq (bazaar), known as Souq Matrah; I spent a good amount of time at the largest mosque in Oman, the Grand Sultan Qaboos Mosque, and I had iftar there; I walked on the beach; I visited the mall/City Center and bought a couple of books in Arabic and got an interesting and refreshing perspective on what Oman's version of Victoria's Secret looks like (pic below); I hung out with friends at a Starbucks there (I KNOW!! There IS a Starbucks in Oman! Just not in Ibri. Then again, I'm no fan of Starbucks, and I don't do coffee. The only thing I ever get at Starbucks is their strawberry smoothies, if I absolutely feel the need to have a drink.); and I chilled lots and lots at the hotel we were staying at, Hotel Al-Falaj. OH! And that's where I basically perfected my swimming skills. May God reward my friends for teaching me!

As for my general impression of Muscat, all I could notice, really, was that my beeblez--the South Asians--seemed to be running everything (and, yes, they're treated quite badly there, like slaves, and, no, they don't actually run anything and get less than some 30% of the money they earn from the shops they run). I'm still not ready to talk about my general impression of Oman so let's not do this, please. Another time, inshaAllah, once I've healed from the trauma I faced during the second half of my stay there.

Focus now. Here are the pictures.

Friday, August 29, 2014

This Semester - and a class on Black History

(Warning / pre-post: The following post includes a photo of lynching (that may be viewed as disturbing by some) as a reminder of the hell that Black people have suffered in the U.S.)

Hello all,

This semester has begun, and as enlightening as it's going to be, it's also going to be quite stressful and difficult. Possibly the most difficult of all my semesters in grad school so far. I'm still thoroughly excited, though!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Friendships and stuff

There's something about friendships and good friends (and I suspect also ourselves as individuals and our ability to be good friends) that makes it difficult for us to keep too many good friends around for too long. As we grow older and as we mature and become wiser, we learn slowly who our real friends are, something that comes with learning more about ourselves as individuals. Some of us never figure out who we are, what we want, what kind of people we are most comfortable around, or how to be good friends; others among us are luckier and straighten their lives and their selves out fairly well and quickly.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Funny things I heard and noticed in Ibri, Oman

None of the following observations are intended to generalize about Oman or Ibri or to at all suggest anything negative about Omanis. Every society has similar ridiculousness (if anything, I think some Pakistanis and other South Asians can be really ridiculous in their ideas about women when as well - and just other things, like "Running disturbs the jinnat and the earth, and God will punish you for running on the Day of Judgment" - I KNOW!), so let's not jump to any unfair conclusions about an entire population that I'm sure is more diverse than they appear in Ibri (they don't seem diverse in Ibri, though, according to my experiences). Common unfair generalizations are mentioned below not because I think only Omanis generalize about other people and groups but just because I find all generalizations to always be ridiculous.

Still, the below is simply to share some funny things I've come across in Ibri. I wouldn't suggest reading more into them. Thanks.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Patriarchy insults women and men. Let's get rid of it asap.

Pre-post: I actually wrote this on July 25th (while I was in Oman), and it was triggered by the harassment we girls were facing each time we'd walk around - men whistling at us, trying to talk to us, stopping their cars to ask us to get in their cars with them (even when we had our long black abayas as is expected of women in Ibri, Oman - so there: harassment isn't about clothing!), blowing kisses towards us, staring at us (OH MY GOD!!), and so on. But as I started talking about harassment, I went on to talk about patriarchy and feminism and what an enemy patriarchy is of not just women but men as well. I realized that if CLS or Oman comes across this post, it could be interpreted as an attack on Oman or Omani society. That's not what I was or am doing, but since I got in trouble previously for talking about my experience with an Omani family's maid and what hell she goes through and then I criticized the servanthood system in Oman and almost got expelled from the program, I've to be careful. One of the many lessons I learned from that was to never, ever, ever, EVER say anything negative about Oman, Omani society, Omani people, Omani culture, Omani religion, Ibadhis, or something that could even be interpreted as negative (... and that led me to believe that if I can't say anything negative about this society, no matter how true it is, I refuse to say anything positive about it, either, then.) So while harassment is a problem everywhere, and I wasn't focusing on Oman in the post below, I had to postpone publishing this post until I was safely back in the U.S.

God bless freedom of speech. God bless America for letting me blog about whatever I want. Freedom of speech and expression should not be a privilege, but unfortunately it is. Long live all freedoms!

So here.
I've too much to say right now, but I have other things to do at the moment, so I'll just say this briefly:  a woman's worst enemy is patriarchy. Actually, a man's worst enemy is patriarchy, too. Below is a meme that explains it much better than I can, but I'll write about this myself more in a few weeks and will explain what has triggered this statement that we need to get rid of patriarchy asap. I'll give you a hint: harassment, men thinking that public spaces belong to them only and hence when a woman shares them with them, they think they have a right to stare at her, whistle at her, blow kisses towards her, touch her, grope her, call out to her, talk to her, and so on. Women being taught that they're "like precious pearls" and so therefore must cover up their bodies because their bodies belong only to their husbands, "not to all other men"! Do men's bodies belong to everyone and that's hwy they don't have to cover up, that's why they're not taught the same thing? Besides, I don't wanna be a "precious pearl"; I prefer being a human being with a mind and body of my own. Men, too, are human beings. No human, no gender is delicate by nature - we're all decliCATED when we're consistently taught through our lives that "you can't do this because you're incapable of doing it" and so on. Words are powerful, as are the messages that such harmful thinking sends women and men, girls and boys - and everyone in between.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Old (Mud) Houses in Oman

I'm obsessed with the different styles of houses around the world. Humans are pretty intelligent and practical. I've posted before about Omani houses (the current style, especially of upper class / richer Omanis who have benefited immensely from the oil discovery), although now that I think about it, I think that post may be currently under "drafts." Long story as to why I did that, but I'll post it back once I'm back in the U.S. Four more days for that to happen, inshaAllah!

I've also previously blogged about what traditional Pukhtun/Pashtun houses look like. As you probably know by now, unless you're a new reader of mine from my time in Oman, I'm Pukhtun (also known as Pashtun), and I hope that's obvious from this blog, but in case it's not, now you know. Grin.

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