Monday, February 28, 2011

Truck Art

Asalam Alaikum,

A couple months ago a neighbor of ours had a tanker come to fill up their water tank and they had the cutest little decoration on the truck, we had to take a picture of it.

Saad loves airplanes and when he saw this one he got so excited to go out with daddy to look at it up close.

I really like seeing all the trucks and buses in Karachi, they are always decorated with vinyl stickers and paintings in every color of the rainbow. Some buses even have large tassels and feathers sticking out of the top. Even trucks that cart around garbage have decorations covering almost every inch! Here is a site with some great pictures of truck art in Pakistan.

I have seen some buses that are older and look pretty beat up, I do sometimes wonder if the vinyl is only for decoration or if it is like the old joke about duct tape being the only thing holding something together! It isn't just trucks and buses either, people decorate their motorcycles and bicycles too.

Pakistan is really a very vibrant, colorful place.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Feature- Miswak

Asalam Alaikum,

Miswak is one of those things that, at first, I thought was kind of strange. Tariq showed me one that he had in America, and I wondered why you would use a stick when there are perfectly nice brushes.
Moist packaged miswak

When we were in Abu Dhabi I had read a bit more on the sunah of miswak and so when Tariq's sister offered to give me half of her miswak to try I decided to go for it. The one that she had bought was a dry type, not a moist one in a pack so I had to first soak it in a glass of water.

Soaking a miswak

Then peel off about half an inch of bark and chew it a bit to make it brush-like.
It was strange at first, but eventually I got used to it.

The brush end

I didn't use the miswak all the time, but recently I decided to use it more often. So every time I brush my teeth with a brush I always follow with a miswak and also use it sometimes between brushing. I have gotten into the habit and now it doesn't feel strange at all.

One of the benefits that I have noticed is that it helps me concentrate better during my prayers. The process of using the miswak and then making wudu seems to calm my mind so that I pay attention, instead of rushing my wudu and then not being able to concetrate during salat.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Simplicity Set

Asalam Alaikum,

This little project was just for fun. I saw a pattern for this really simple necklace on Ravelry and it looked kind of cute so I thought why not?

Necklace, Braclet, and two styles of bindia.

Bracelet, with a button clasp.(the necklace has the same style)

Triangular bindia, which I don't like so much.

Circular bindia, I really prefer the way this one turned out.

Pattern:The necklace and bracelet are both the Understatement Necklace. The necklace is about 20 inches and the bracelet is about 7 inches. The bindias I just made up.
Thread:Some cream colored tatting thread(no idea the size, the band is long gone!)
Hook:Steel size 7
Accessories:Three matching buttons, some seed beads and a larger size of pearl type beads.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Feature- Rooh Afza on the Roof

Asalam Alaikum,

My favorite juice drink has to be Rooh Afza. When we were in America Tariq found some at a local halal grocery and he told me I had to try it. It was delicious! The taste is hard to describe, but imagine if you could taste the scent of roses, it is kind of like that. Most often the Rooh Afza syrup is mixed with cold water, maybe some ice and sometimes a lemon slice. Some people like to drink it mixed with cold milk, and sometimes with Seven-up. There are other brands of juice like this-Naurus, Jam Shirin. They all have the same basic taste but some have a little extra of one thing or another. For example, to me, Naurus has a little too much cinnamon taste.

This is the bottle available here, the one in America was glass and had a slightly different label design.

Saad loves Rooh Afza, and he thinks it is funny when his tongue turns red

A relaxing afternoon on the roof

Rooh Afza is used a lot during Ramadan here in Pakistan. In our family we always have one pitcher of water and some dates to start and then follow that with Rooh Afza and all the snacks-samosa, pakora, chaat, and fruit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just like Daddy vest

Asalam Alaikum,

This vest was a quick knit, made to match the vest I made for Tariq before we left America.
Cutey, with a serious face.

My handsome matching men

Needles:US 7
Yarn: Parley(local acrylic, dk/light worsted)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recycled phonebooks and why they make me so happy

Asalam Alaikum,

Here in Karachi when we buy inexpensive little things, they often give us our purchase in a little paper sack made from recycled newspaper or phone books. I really like this for two reasons- one its recycling and two it is kind of fun to see where the phone books come from. At first I loved to see the phone book paper sacks, and see how many states they came from. Then I got a bit bored with that, and never bothered to check anymore.

Today as I was cleaning out my purse, I checked the two little bags that were left over from our recent shopping trip. I was so excited to recognize where they came from-both were from Jacksonville, Florida where we used to live! One was part of a white pages listing from Orange Park, and the other was a government listing(blue pages) for the Mayport Naval Station. I will admit to getting a little teary and squee-ing a bit. I felt a bit silly afterward(a lot silly actually), but it was just such a weird thing to happen. What are the chances that it would end up here in Karachi, in the same market that I shop at, in a store that I was visiting for the first time ever?

America is a big place, I have seen many pages from New York, Hawaii, etc. but it was so cool to see a little piece of home when we are soooooo far away.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Feature- Why I can't be a tourist

Asalam Alaikum,

I don’t usually take too many pictures when we are outside shopping or just around town. This is mostly because Tariq has safety concerns. The area we live in is not one of the “high class” areas with lots of foreigners, so he worries about us sticking out more than we already do. He says that if I were to walk around the local market snapping pics, that it would encourage thieves because I “look like a tourist”.

Sometimes I use a cell phone camera, or Tariq will use it for me to take an interesting picture. They don’t usually come out well, but I am thinking about posting some just to give an idea of some of the interesting things we have seen.

This is probably one of the biggest reasons that I love to read other gori/desi blogs. Many times while visiting Southeast Asia, they have taken the types of pictures that I want to. It is pretty cool to see the things that I think are interesting/cool/weird pop up on somebody’s blog. Sometimes I’ll have moments when I’ll say something like “Ooh that happens here too!” or “Oh I felt that way too when I first saw the toilets here”.

I think it would probably be different is we actually were just visiting. For now, while we are living here full time, I’ll just have to stick to my bloglists and enjoy everyone else’s interest pictures!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chenille Baby Set

Asalam Alaikum,

A family friend's daughter just had a baby, and our friend had asked me if I would knit a little set for the baby. She even bought the yarn and needles. The yarn was a really soft chenille, in a variegated blue, pink, and yellow.

The cardigan and pants.

The hat.

The bootees.

Patterns:None really, but the cardigan was inspired by the Five Hour Baby Boy Sweater, the hat was inspired by this pixie hat, and the bootees were inspired by Saartje's bootees.
Needles:They were labeled as a 6, but they aren't the same size as a US 6
Yarn:Chenille, heavy worsted-light bulky?

I am pretty happy with the way everything turned out, and our friend seemed pretty happy too.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Feature- Joined Family System

Asalam Alaikum,
In Pakistan and other parts of Southeast Asia, joined families are still pretty common. Many families have sometimes four or more generations living in the same house. Usually it is the sons that stay in the family house and bring their wives to live with the family, while the daughters get married and go to live with their husband and his extended family.

As the sons get married and the family grows some families may branch out and others will put an addition on the house(that's what our family did- added the second and third floors to make enough space). Generally each son(and his wife) will have their own bedroom(sometimes with attached bathroom), but then all the other rooms will be common rooms. Like in our house there is one bedroom for Tariq's father, one for his sisters, and then one for us, and one for his brother and his wife.

There are some benefits and some drawbacks to living in a joined family system.

One benefit is that it is easier to support the parents as they get older. Instead of all the responsibility falling on one child, all the sons work and contribute to the household. Another benefit is that with so many people around it is not as difficult to cope with when one person is ill. There are so many people that it is no problem to keep up the cooking, cleaning and child care as well as tending to the sick one.

For example if I get sick I don't have to worry that dinner won't get cooked, or that I'll have to chase after Saad while I'm ill. I have the comfort of knowing that Tariq's brother's wife will take care of dinner or his sisters can help take care of Saad. And when one of the others is ill I do the same.

Some of the drawbacks is that when there are so many people living together little arguments can break out over small things. Like whose turn is it to clean the common bathrooms, or to sweep/vacuum the common areas. It can also be difficult to find privacy if you just want to spend a bit of time alone.

My main problem is that brother's in law are not maahram(close relative who can see a woman without hijab). So when Tariq's brother is here in Karachi I have to wear my hijab at all times, unless I'm in our bedroom. Right now it isn't really a problem because my brother in law spends most of the year in Abu Dhabi.

So, while it has been an interesting experience living in a joined family, I am kind of looking forward to living on our own again eventually.