Saturday, April 30, 2011

Friday Feature- A Good Cry

Asalamu Alaikum,

Sometimes I get really stressed. Living here can be fun, and I do try to stay upbeat and positive. Sometimes though, it just gets to me. After a while everything starts to add up and I feel like I am going to pop from stress, tension, bickering, load shedding, the phone repair guy not showing up for three days (and then wanting a bribe), and the million and one other things that just build up.

One thing at a time it is easy to handle. Ok so when my sister in law and I are not getting along for a couple days, fine, we'll be back to normal next week(inshAllah!). When the phone repair guy finally shows up, and then leaves and then the phone stops working for the rest of the day, fine, he'll be back tomorrow to fix it, and it's just a day anyway.

But when everything happens all at once? There are just times when I feel like crying. So, I do. I go up to my room all alone and sit and just cry. I know it doesn't help, it won't solve my problems, or make them all just disappear. What it does for me is to help relieve the tension. After a good cry (and a nice big pity party, "oh woe is me"), I can sit up, stop feeling sorry for myself, wash my face and feel a lot better. Nothing has changed, but it is easier to face all the problems after a good cry.

I think partly it is because after the crying/pity party, I find it easier to see the good in my life. Like all the good things are hiding away behind the fog of negatives, and the crying comes and washes the fog away to help me see clearly.

Alhamdulilah, I do have a lot to be grateful for. So now that I've had my cry ;-), I'll just be getting back to life, and trying to keep my eyes on the good in life!

PS-sorry for the Friday Feature on a Saturday, our phone wasn't working the repair guy didn't show up until this morning ;-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Goodbye Mano

Asalamu Alaikum,

We had a sweet cat in Abu Dhabi. Tariq found her abandoned near the first apartment building where we lived in Abu Dhabi, around June/July of 2008. We called her "Mano", no one liked her except Tariq and I. All the in laws have a thing about cats because they are everywhere here around our Karachi house and always making things dirty. When we moved to a new flat with a nice big yard just outside the city we took the cat with us.

She was a sweet little cat, always wanting to play. Still no one liked her. She got rid of the mice in the kitchen, and still they wanted to get rid of her. She always wanted to sleep under my father in law's bed, was always rubbing on everyone's legs for attention, and when my father in law was watering the garden she always rested under the flowers nearby him. Everyone was complaining about how she got hairs all over everything. Tariq, Saad and I left to return to Pakistan in October of 2009 after visiting for only about a month. Saad missed Mano and always wanted to pick up the dirty feral cats around here. Eventually the rest of the family got used to Mano, and no longer said anything about getting rid of her. They did not exactly like her but tolerated her.

When my father or brother in law would take a walk to a nearby market for something Mano would follow them and wait outside the store until they came out. When my sisters in law went walking for exercise she followed them as well.

The day before yesterday my father in law and Tariq were Skyping when he told Tariq that the cat was ill, with vomiting and diarrhea and she wasn't eating or drinking, he wanted to know what he should do. He seemed concerned, worried for the cat that they hadn't wanted before. One of my sisters in law carefully opened her mouth and tried to get her to drink some water.

He asked some friends of his about where to find an animal doctor, and decided to take her to the vet the next morning. He was checking on the cat and while he was patting her she passed away.

He was so upset. Everyone was. After almost three years with us she had become important to them, they just hadn't realized it until it was too late.

Goodbye little Mano, we loved you.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Feature-Khes aur Cambal Wale

Asalamu Alaikum,

The wale(door to door salesmen) sell different things according to the seasons. When it starts to cool down and all during the winter there are wale that sell Khes(sounds like "case") and cambal. Cambals are just soft comforter types of blankets, thick and usually fuzzy. The khes is a thinner woven blanket(here is a very detailed article on khes and other woven fabrics common in Southeast Asia), that is very common in the Sindh and Punjab ares of Pakistan.

A cambal wala, mostly they carry the blankets tied onto their back instead of on a cart like many other wale.

A khes wala, taking a little rest.

The khes wale usually come on bicycles, with the khes tied in a stack on the back and a couple on the front handle bars for display. Khes come in sets of two or four, and the plainer ones are usually still in one big piece that you have to cut and finish the edges yourself. There are fancier khes that have already been cut and have a finished edge, sometimes a fringe or tassels.

One side

and the reverse

The less expensive, plain types of khes are generally only two to three colors and have a very basic checker type pattern. Other khes have elaborate floral motifs with five or more colors, and most are reversible.

Fancy design on the long sides

The shorter edges with tassels.

The single khes is roughly four feet wide by six feet long, so the un-separated khes are about four feet wide by twenty four feet long.

This is one of the set of khes that Tariq bought for me last winter.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Feature: A Trip to Liaquat Market

Asalam Alaikum,

I have been meaning to get this posted for a long time. The biggest market in our area is Liaqat Market. It is not a mall type where everything is enclosed, but more like an American style flea market, very open. In much of the market the shops are basically little alcoves, and the center aisles are roof less, or sometimes there are big sheets tied up to provide more shade.

We usually take the Honda 50 to go shopping as it is older(less likely to be stolen), and has the "dubba"(box area in the front), to hold stuff. Tariq is the in the middle, Saad sits in front of him, and I sit "side saddle" at the back. InshAllah I'll get a picture of all of us sometime, now that his sister is here to hold the camera. :-)

Tariq and Saad ready to go

When we get to the market there is a motorcycle parking area up front. It is five rupees to park and the watchman gives you a little ticket(half goes on the bike and half you take) so that he know you payed.
Motorcycles all lined up

Sometimes it gets a bit crowded

In the front section of the market is where most of the dry goods type stores are. All the chawal(rice), dals(lentils), masale(spices) and other things are in bins. There are usually a whole bunch of different bins of rice, some for biriyani, some for regular cooking, some that are better for kheer(rice pudding).
All the food lined up out in the open.

Also in the outer section is the vegetable and fruit wale(sellers). There are alcove type shops on the sides of the main road area, and then there are carts lined up in the center and anywhere there is space.

Inside the market is kind of like a maze with narrow little aisles. There are stores for shoes, kids clothes, cosmetics, tailoring materials, gents clothes and many many shops for ladies clothes. Usually one of our first stops is for ladies shalwar suits. The little alcoves that make up the shops have shelves on most of the walls stacked with bolts of fabric and suits already cut into sets of shalwar/kameez/dupatta. There is usually a small stage type area where the shopkeepers stand and show off the suits, and a line of seating for the customers to sit and relax while they look at the suits.
Wall of a shop with stacks of suits.

The suits rejected by the customer end up on the floor of the stage, to be folded after the customers leave.

After you have selected your suits, the next stop is the bale(edging) store, for any ribbons, laces, or beaded trimmings to go with your suit.
Oooh, shiny things. Sometimes I just like to look at the bales, because some are very pretty.

After you have your suit and your trimmings, then its off to buy your chudiyan(bangles). The walls of the bangle store are also filled with row upon row of shiny things! You give the shopkeeper the dupatta to make a matching set of bangles, and he'll make a set up and show it to you for approval. If you like it he packs it up and if you don't then he'll change out some pieces until it fits what you want.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gathered Belt Shalwar w/Simple Leg-Part 2

Asalam Alaikum,

At the end of part one the main legs of our shalwar were finished, now we will be sewing the belt piece and attaching it to the legs, and finishing up our shalwar.

Step 1

Take the two pieces of you belt and sew a half inch seam, this is the center back seam. If you were able to cut one long piece for the belt then you can just skip this step.

Step 2
Make sure your leg pieces are right side out, with the right sides facing place one end of the belt half an inch to the left of the center seam and pin. The half inch is for the center front seam so you will start sewing on the center line of the legs not the exact edge of the belt.

See the extra half inch? Pin the belt in place starting half an inch in from the edge.
Step 3
Working your way around pin the belt in place every couple of inches.

Step 4
When you get close to the center back seam of the belt you will see that it does not match to the center seam of the legs. You will now need to make one or more knife pleats on either side of the center seam to make the center of the belt match the center of the legs. Here is a tutorial on making knife pleats, they actually measure but usually I just kind of eyeball it.
With the belt facing down, I pinch the excess fabric of the leg and form my pleats.
After pinching lay the excess flat and pin in place.
On the inside the pleats will face towards the seam, on the outside the pleats should face outwards, away from the seam. Remember to make the same number and same size of pleats on either side of the seam. Continue pinning the belt in place all the way around until you get to the center front seam again. You should have about a half inch extra on this side also.
Step 5
Starting at point A, sew around the top, sewing the belt to the legs until you get almost back to were you started at point B.
Step 6
Now you will sew up the center front seam of the belt piece. Matching up points A and B, and making sure the leg pieces do not get caught in the seam, sew from just above points A and B to point C, stop and turn around sew back for one inch to secure the seam. the distance from point C to the top of the belt should be 1.5 inches. This will be the opening for the drawstring.

Step 7
On the wrong side fold the edges of the center front seam away from the seam, and sew a line of stitches down one side across the bottom and up the other side.

Step 8
Starting from the center front seam, one quarter inch up from the seam that attaches the belt to the legs, sew a line of stitching to keep the extra cloth in the seam facing upwards. You should catch the seam that you made when attaching the belt to the legs.

Step 9
Now you will sew the drawstring casing. Starting at the center front where you made the opening, on the wrong side of the cloth, fold the top down half an inch, and then fold it down one inch, and sew along the very bottom edge to form the casing.

Step 10
Line up the inside seams, at the bottom of each foot opening mark out from the fold 7 inches.

Step 11
On the center crotch seam mark up from the bottom half an inch.
Step 12
Draw a connecting line from the mark on one foot(point A) up to the center mark(point B), and then back down to the other leg(point C).

Step 13
Starting one inch away from point A sew down to the bottom of the leg and then turn and sew up to point B(center crotch seam), and then down to point C. When you get to the bottom of the second leg, turn and sew back up one inch, sewing back over the stitches at each of the foot openings reinforces them.
Your gathered belt shalwar with a simple leg is now finished, and showed look something like this-
If you see a mistake in this tutorial or need more explanations feel free to leave a comment and inshAllah, I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Gathered Belt Shalwar w/Simple leg Part 1

Asalam Alaikum,

Here is part one of the simple leg belt shalwar tutorial. If you have any questions do leave a comment and I'll see what I can do to clarify.

Step 1-Measuring

To start you will need to figure out some measurements, if you have a shalwar that fits you then you can measure that. If you do not have a shalwar, then you need to do a bit of math. Measure from where you want your waist band to fall to just below your ankle. Take that number and subtract 7 for the belt, the remainder is your desired leg length. To the belt you need to add 2 inches of height, 1.5 for the drawstring casing and .5 for the seam attaching it to the legs, so the total height of the cutting for the belt is 9 inches. You also need to add 2 inches to your desired leg length, .5 for the seam and 1.5 inches for the hem at the foot. So for example if your measurement for the total height of your shalwar was 38, that would be a belt of 7 inches(9 cutting) and a leg of 31(33 cutting). For the width of the belt you measure your hips at their widest and then add at least 6 inches for ease (although you can add more if you like), plus 1 inch for seams. The width of the main leg pieces should be as wide as possible, as the shalwar is supposed to be loose and flow-y.

Step 2
Fold your cloth in half the long way, and then width wise so that you have four corners in the bottom left side. Measure from the four corners down the desired length of your leg plus 2 inches. Do the same on the upper fold edge, and then mark a line straight from one point to the other. Cut and set aside the extra cloth, you will need it later to make the belt piece.

Step 3
On the selvage side make one mark at the half-way point.

Step 4
At the bottom of the cloth, measure out from the fold side for the foot opening. The average size would be 7 inches, but if you prefer a wider or narrower opening then make the mark more or less than 7 inches out.

Step 5
Now make a line connecting the half-way mark and the foot opening mark.
Cut the smaller pieces.
Step 6
Rotate the pieces so that they line up against the top of the main leg piece.

Step 7
On the outer point of the extra pieces mark one line so that the outer edge is nine inches, cut and discard the excess cloth.

Step 8
From the extra cloth that was left after cutting the leg, you will need to cut your belt pieces. If you can cut one long piece that is good, but normally I have to cut two rectangles and make one seam at the back. The two rectangles should be 9 inches tall by the width you took in step one.

After all your cutting you should have the following pieces-

Step 9
Now take the inner leg pieces and match them to the main leg pieces with right sides facing and sew a half inch seam. Each of the two main leg pieces should now look like this-

Step 10
Take the interfacing and center it on the wrong side of the cloth at the bottom foot opening one half inch up from the bottom.

Step 11
Fold up the half inch of cloth and sew one line to hold the interfacing in place.

Step 12
Now fold the interfacing up one inch. Sew at least one line at the top of the fold, and one line at the bottom, you can leave it like this, but usually more lines are added between, sometimes up to nine or ten parallel lines.

Step 13
Match both of the leg pieces with right sides facing, and sew a half inch seam on one side of the extra pieces. This is the center front crotch seam.

Step 14
Thread a hand sewing needle with at least 20 inches of thread, and knot the end. Find the center of each of the main leg pieces and mark.

Run a line of roughly half inch stitches from one mark to the other. The above diagram shows the main leg pieces and your line of stitches should go from point A to point B.

Step 15
Draw your thread up so that the length is about 10 inches, and then make a knot to secure the gathers. You want the center part of the leg(points A and B) to line up roughly over your hips so that the center line runs straight down the front of your leg and the inner seam is at the back.
Step 16
While pressing down on the gathered area, run a line of machine stitches across it to secure them in place. Do not allow the machine to push the gathered part to one side, It should stay even all the way across.
You can now take out the line of hand stitching if you like.
Step 17
Match the back of the leg pieces and sew a half inch seam. This is the center back crotch seam.
End of Part one, for the rest please see part two of the tutorial.

If you see a mistake in this tutorial or need more explanations feel free to leave a comment and inshAllah, I'll get back to you as soon as possible.