The Arab Woman

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It is nearly midday, and I sit waiting for my driver to come back from picking my two year old son from nursery. How long will he take? I feel the heat of impatience, and this frustration bites me. If you think about it, the high life I am living is more than what most people can ask for; my very own driver, going to the shops at a whim, a splendid home and a private swimming pool and Jacuzzi to relax and unwind after a long day, a husband who dotes on me and fulfills my every desire, and four bright kids who will be the future. Dubai is relaxing. I often go to get my nails done. I get my hair cut, coloured and styled every week. I have three personal nannies, though I do not work myself. Some of my European friends find that absurd. I think these are perks every woman should demand.

My husband has planned to get my own vintage furniture business going and so I need to get to the office by one thirty sharp, yet there is no sign of my driver. The traffic must be bad. I get up and slowly get dressed. As I am just about to affix my Niqab on I hear the honk of my car. Finally, I think. My female servant fetches me my bag, and my shoes are already placed for me to wear. I step out in the blazing heat and instantly feel the sweat forming around my mouth. The car door opens for me to sit down at the back, I shift myself inside and it shuts behind me. I am in the mood to be pensive. My mind starts relaxing into thoughtfulness, also because the ambience is calm, with the Air Conditioner soothing my cheeks. I was never given reason myself, and was brought up with this idea of having to wear the Niqab when I became a woman. There was a tone of finality in my parents’ words, as if there was no other choice. My thoughts give further way. I have recently watched the Hajj coverage of devoted Muslims taking their beloved Pilgrimage to the house of God. There were many women I saw who did not have their faces covered, would that mean their Hajj would be invalid, God forbid? It makes me wonder how true this idea of covering the face is. My only encouragement has been to cover my face, yet do whatever I feel like. However I have never sensed an encouragement of learning more about my religion. I do not know many things at all. I do not even know if covering the face is what Islam says? It does not make a woman who does not hide her face any less of a Muslim than myself. I do not even pray regularly, and hardly ever read the Holy Qur’an.

I cannot lie and say I don’t like my extravagant lifestyle, it is definitely luxurious. But I am always in need of answers. I get the desire of paying my children more attention, but it has become a habit of relying on external help to bring my children up, it is as if its not in my control anymore. This indulgent lifestyle has shaped me to the person I am today. I have many a girly party, which is why I care so much about my appearance. But it is my education I received abroad, that instilled in me certain doubts about my life. My consciousness speaks a lot more now than it used to. However my worry is I will fall back into that cycle of a superficial life, as I lead every single day, with my face covered. What good is having my face covered if it is just cultural. I want to learn, but an outing with a group of friends entices me. I imagine what life would be like if I did not have this much money to splash out. And this abruptly stops my thought process when my driver announces my destination.

Malala’s rise to significance.

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The young girl who campaigned in the dangerous regions of swat, underwent some arduous few months recovering from a revengeful bullet wound that nearly took her life and left her with a traumatic memory.

These corrupt bullies terrorised a little girl who demanded education, which was her cultural and Islamic right. How many bullies are out there who threaten and oppress people. And I’m talking about organised crime. But it’s not something we get to hear too often in the news. It is thus peculiar that Malala, though innocent and undeserving of such an awful act, should be so widely publicised.

Admirably Malala is one young woman who has confidently dealt with hardship, and still on a mission to change  the world. It was particularly touching to watch her recent documentary on BBC where she shows characteristics of being an extremely sensible girl. Her interview with Jon Stewart was enlightening  as she spoke about how violence is not the answer  to violence.   If anything this very public exposure of Malala has done is that she has eminently become a positive spokesperson for the rights of humanity in general. There needs to be one person like her to be the voice of the common man. And though I feel the drone attacks that occur in Pakistan day in day out, are crippling the nation with unnumbered innocent  deaths,  Malala is a constant reminder of having lived an horrific period of her life, suffering an attack herself, but coming out a warrior and having a renewed sense of life.

Book Review : ‘A Fine Balance’ by Rohinton Mistry

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It was one laid-back day that I came across this impressive book. If I do confess it was in our bathroom shelf (yes we have a shelf in our bathroom with a stack of books and magazines that some strange family members like reading; one including myself) that I found this book perched next to another. I picked it up wondering never to have seen it before, and I began reading without any expectation whatsoever. Little did I know it would become my bathroom friend for the next few days. Just to comfort myself, I would like to be reassured as to whether any others like to read in the bathroom, otherwise I have revealed my strange side a bit too much! By the end of it, this book had really struck a chord in my heart and as it always happens, I was left reeling over the aftermath of what had happened,  the book having evoked a tumult of emotions.

I wanted to think over what I wished to express, in the best way. I went online to read some other reviews and analyse what other people had to say about it. For the most part, people were immensely shaken by the tragedy of the book. Some overjoyed over the pleasantness of the four characters coming together, in the wake of political turmoil. Some could not believe that so much cruelty and suffering was possible, deeming it melodramatic and unnatural. I do not think it was melodramatic. In fact having an Asian background myself, I just about knew how real it could get.

The story begins by introducing all four characters sequentially. These characters are from entirely different backgrounds. There are Ishvar and Om, two people of the lowly ‘Chamaar’ caste and considered untouchable, but want to breach away from this ordained and self restrictive caste system. They live in the filth ridden shantytowns, built on make shift tents that can easily be removed, such that later in the novel one finds the  Government carelessly raiding the slums and taking away the only home these people have. Dina, of a wealthy and respectable Parsi family is faced with the hard hitting brother of hers after the death of her parents, who expects her to be somewhat of a live in maid, for which later she rebels and marries of her own choice, much to the sadness of losing her husband after only 3 years. Lastly there is Maneck, born in the mountainous regions of India. He is alienated from the love of his parents which he has wanted all his life, who have made all his life decisions, making him extremely melancholy. Thus begins a bittersweet story of these four characters who are circumstantially brought together, in a 1970s Gandhi India where political shadiness caused much anguish and disappointment for the people. Mistry focuses on the lives of these four people and their unity, which is most interesting and engaging.

We find happiness, and even moments of comedy and comic relief, through misfortune, dejection and tragedy during their nostalgic time together. But the tone is already set, living in an unstable India, where Dina as a woman finds much difficulty without the security of her husband and Maneck reveals underlying rebellion due to abiding by a  strict academic system that does not allow him to show freedom of choice or expression. In the most part, the atrocities that Ishvar and Om face are inexplicable. They are exploited beyond belief, used as modern day slaves, without a say, shafted from one end to another, losing their homes and livelihood, being pawns of a corrupt, higher authority.  And yet, do we say it makes it easier for them because they are born unguarded, and meant to resign to this fatalistic life of struggle. Where is the ethical boundary at all? I would not call it a struggle, but rather, the horror of the barbarity involved in using these people, knowing they are powerless.

However I still found myself joining in the joy of the uplifting and humble nature in which the four characters live and show friendship and togetherness alongside political power, corruption and a shriveled sense of morality brewing in society and state. It is all the clutching on to happiness one can do when disaster is looming. There are bumps all the way in the story which indicate a rough ride. But in the end, it is a heart-wrenching tragedy. The characters are only found happiest during their time together. The grim result of all the characters is an overwhelming tear jerker. Ultimately it is a story of shattered dreams and desires, of poverty, of the state’s rather animalistic laws, of being able to survive, of loneliness and of depression. This was one book I desperately wanted to end happy. It is fantastically written, and the emotion and realism opens your eyes.

Liebster Award Answers and Nominations

liebster award

I would like to thank Chaoscream for deeming me worthy enough of this. Please check out his blog of wonderful reads and a vast array of brilliant information about life in general. He is one writer you can truly get hooked reading! Thanks again Milton! It is fascinating to be part of a blogging community.

The Rules

  1. Each nominee must link back to the person that nominated them.
  2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 10 other bloggers you like and who have less than 200 followers. 
  4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let them know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them
  • What is one thing you like to do before the year is over?

I would really like to ace myself in terms of organisation and planning. I have an extreme case of clumsiness and thus would love to just organise myself and for once know what its like to have everything in order! :S

  • What is your ultimate goal in life?

My ultimate goal in life is to really just understand cultures and include myself in them. I have a thirst for different aspects of life. I would like to see myself immersed in language and culture and get to know how and why people like to live the way they do!

  • What is your dream job?

To have my very own business. What it would be is all in my head at the moment and needs a good construction before it can even formulate into ideas.

  • So far, have you had any regrets this year?

I think the regret I have this year is not being able to keep in touch as much as I wanted, to all my dear friends that I have made throughout the years of my life. Facebook is an excellent tool for that and I made a new year’s resolution to use it more since I have friends who live in different parts of the world. I think I did not as much as I’d wanted to.

  •  If money was infinite, what would be the first thing you buy?

If money became infinite it would lose that excitement of the wait one does in order to buy something they desire. If all desires were fulfilled in a flash, there would be no reason to have desires altogether. Desires are what drive you, and I think it is healthy to have them, and I mean strictly material desires.

  • What is one song you would pick for your theme song?

This year it has to be ‘Every teardrop is a waterfall’. It has just stuck in my head. Its lyrics are profound. I can listen to it hours on end and feel a heavy heart of emotions.

  •  If you could have one super power what would it be?

Having a super power does not necessarily give you contentment, as can been seen in Batman for instance. I think a super power in every day life is having your family around you. It is not even super natural, but it has the qualities to change human life. These days it may not be valued so much since we much rather prefer independence, but family is extremely important in keeping you grounded. Family is the source of your happiness without you even knowing it since we take it for granted.

  • Who or what is your inspiration?

My inspiration would have to be this absolutely wonderful man I met at a busy restaurant in Italy, whom seemed likely enough to be the manager, or even the owner.  I knew little about his background, but he was the kindest, sweetest person I had ever met. His dedication to his job was evident. He spoke with admirable gentleness to all his customers. If I would randomly go there for a takeaway (since it was a Pizzeria) he would sometimes give me Pizza boxes free. I used to observe how sometimes customers would come up to him and give him a hug and secretly pass on some extra cash, which was not less. He would refuse but these customers were adamant on giving it, then they’d hug him and walk away. This made me think he was truly loved by the people around him, simply because he was not running the business as a means for profit, but he was truly passionate about his customers.

  • What one insecurity do you have?

I would be lying to say I don’t have any. I do have plenty, and most are quite petty if you think about it, but its about being comfortable in your own skin, and thats what I aim to do in life.

  •  What one thing are you proud of?

I am extremely proud of my heritage. It is something I don’t say much in casual conversation, but it is my heritage and my background which have given me this outlook to life, and on a personal level I am ardently proud of it. I could never give it up because it is part of me.

I am an avid reader of blogs on WordPress and having spent sufficient time going through many blogs, I found so many so very appealing. I have chosen some from my huge list of amazingness to nominate and thank because they have really made a difference in the blogging world. Here are my nominees:

Brecon Nomad

SadiqIslam

Tanya’s Little Kitchen

A crazy Kinsey in KOREA

The Bucket List Project

La Carpintera 

Backwards Evolution

Philip Brady 

Keep Fit and Healthy

Building the Bennets

Here are my questions for you!

  1. What is your ultimate goal in life?
  2. What is your dream Job?
  3. So far, have you had any regrets this year?
  4. If Money was infinite what would be the first thing that you buy?
  5. What is one song would you pick for your theme song?
  6. If you could have one super power what would it be?
  7. Who or what is your inspiration?
  8. What one insecurity do you have?
  9. What one thing are you proud of?
  10. What is one thing you would like to do before the end of this year?