Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Feature- The Veiled Knitters

Asalamu Alaikum,

I have been on Ravelry for just over four years now. It is an awesome site for fiber artists of all sorts- knitters, crocheters, and spinners. The forums are especially fun. Anyone on the site can create their own group, with it's own pages and forum.

There are groups for any interest you can think of, television shoes, debate groups, sewing, favorite authors. One of the groups that I have joined is the Veiled Knitters, basically a group for people who cover their heads. Some people wear hats, some hijab, some tichels. Some cover for religious reasons, some for medical, some just because. There are Jews, Muslims, Christians, Pagans, and people that aren't into religion. The reasons and styles of coverings are many, the only thing that really links all of us is the fact that we cover our heads(and like yarn).

You might think that in a groups of such diverse people there would be fights, or arguments aplenty. In fact the exact opposite is true.This group is one of the most easy going and pleasant groups I have ever seen. Everyone gets along pretty well, no major fights. Even when there are disagreements, they are respectful, everyone states their position, and I have never seen it degrade into name calling.

I sometimes wish the rest of the world could be like them. So many different voices, and instead of the cacophony of sound that normally comes from large groups, there is a peaceful coexistence of differing life styles and paths.

Recently the idea came about for communal Blog, anyone from the group could be an author. InshAllah I will be writing some posts too. It is called "Covered by Choice", and I think it is going to be awesome. So many voices, and I would gladly call each one "friend".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Garam What?!?!?!

Asalamu Alaikum,

The other day Saad came running into the sitting room to tell us about what one of the door to door salesmen was selling. He ran in shouting "Mama, Daddy, Garam Pakistani Wala!"

Basically what he was saying was "Hot Pakistani Seller" which then made us all burst out laughing. After a minute we all stopped to hear what was actually being sold, it was the Bakarkhani wala. He comes down our street a couple times a day with a metal trunk on the back of a bicycle and a recording that says "Garam bakarkhani, garam bakarkhani, jeldi jeldi aie!" Meaning "Hot bakarkhani, hot bakarkhani, quickly quickly come!"
Bakarkhani is kind of like a puff pastry, lots of flaky layers, sometimes plain or with sprinkles of sugar on top. It is very very tasty, and we sometimes get them to eat with our chai.

Tariq likes to complain about the price though. He is turning into a stereotype of an old man, with his "back in my day" stories, every time he buys bakarkhani he says, "I can remember when it was athaney(a 25 paisa or maybe 50 paisa coin, I think) for one and now it's 4 rupees for one!" 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Feature-The settling in process

Asalamu Alaikum,

Usually when we get to Pakistan there is a routine that we have as part of our settling in process. It takes about a week, and it basically includes cleaning the entire house top to bottom. It is actually a necessity due to all the dust that gets everywhere wile we are gone. Our first floor is mostly enclosed except for the main entrance hall which has a long open window with a  steel grill at the top of the wall, so it gets a lot of dust flying off the road outside. The upper floor is also mostly enclosed except for the front hall/gallery which is open to the roof, with another steel grill. So those are the two main areas that need a god cleaning. All the other rooms basically just need a good vacuum/dusting.

After the initial dust/vacuum, comes the furniture moving. Before we leave Pakistan we pull all the furniture out of the downstairs sitting room to a more inner room, so all that has to be moved back where it belongs. Then we wipe down the kitchen and wash the teapots and cups.

Then comes the most important part of our settling in process-making chai and taking a break!

After 15 minutes break and chai comes changing the sheets and dragging all the suitcases up to the bedrooms. After all the cleaning and chai it is pretty late so we leave the rest of the heavy cleaning for the next couple of days, and head to sleep.

Since we usually take evening flights it is about 2-3am by the time we finish our initial cleaning and chai breaks. Over the next 5-6 days we spend most of the day cleaning the whole house. My father in law spend hours on the little strip of a garden in front of the house. It is one of his favorite pastimes, he weeds, trims the plants, waters and plants new flowers.

After the first 5-6 days we can start to take it easy with the cleaning. Then comes the sign that we are really here and settled- extended family and friends start to visit. Having guests over make it really feel like we are here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Feature -Coming Home

Asalamu alaikum,

Our little vacation in Abu Dhabi is over, and we are now back in Pakistan. We stayed there for four months, and had thought to make it a longer stay, but Tariq and his father had some business that could not be put off any longer so here we are. Tariq, one of my sisters in law, my father in law, Saad and I all came, while the rest of the family stayed there.

While I was comfortable in Abu Dhabi, it is now not the same feeling as in our home in Karachi. Part of it has to do simply with space. In Abu dhabi we rent a smallish villa type place. It has three small bedrooms, a small sitting room, a kitchen and ONE bathroom. The best thing about it is the courtyard. It is bigger than the house itself, Alhamdulillah, so lots of outside place to play in. My brother in law keeps chickens, and my father in law and I are able to tend some flower and veggies beds, while the kids have a big space for running around in.

Contrasting that to our house in Pakistan, mashAllah it has three floors, four large bedrooms, five bathrooms, and lots of extra rooms(Alhamdulillah, I even get a sewing/craft room!). The drawback is there is no courtyard. Instead we have our chut(roof area). It is a big space with plenty of room for smaller parties(like mehndi parties), and once in a while we invite a bunch of the extended family over for tikka(grilling).

I enjoyed being in Abu Dhabi as there I have more personal freedoms. Tariq's sisters and I were able to walk around the block for exercise without worrying about the situation outside. Almost every Friday I was able to attend Jummah prayers at the masjid a couple streets over from our house. I also got to go to a couple of meetings of my knitting group in Abu Dhabi, the U-Knitted Amiras. If you are a knitter visiting the UAE, they are a great bunch to hang out with!

But no matter how much I enjoyed being in the UAE, I am now only at home in Pakistan. In Abu Dhabi the feeling has shifted from being home to being a temporary visitor. Since space is limited, I could not count on privacy anymore, which made it all the more uncomfortable.

In Pakistan, Alhamdulillah, I have my own room, with an attached bathroom. No one comes and goes in my room. There is enough space for everyone to have a place to sit when they just want a moment of peace and quiet.

Alhamdulillah we are home.