Monday, April 30, 2012

Almost Falsa Season

Asalamu alaikum,

One thing I really love is trying new fruits, stuff that is either not available back home or very difficult to find(also sometimes not the freshest by the time it gets there!). One of my favorites is falsa berries-

They are about the size of blue berries, but more of a plum color and very very sour. The falsa wale come down the street shouting "kaley kaley falsey, tundey meetey falsey"(basically-black black falsa, sour sweet falsey). It comes with a little paper packet of masala(spices, including chili powder and black salt), at first I didn't like the masala. The combination of flavors confused my tongue, sweet/sour/salt/hot, all at the same time!?! I love it now though.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Feature-Patang(Kite)

Asalamu alaikum,

One of Tariq and Saad's favorite things to do together is to fly kites on the roof.

Here is Saad with the biggest kite we have, it is about three feet across, but they don't use it much.

The kites come in all sorts of patterns, and Tariq says they are all made locally. He goes with Saad to some shop around here and picks up 4-5 kites at a time.

My favorite, I love the flower.
Some of the normal everyday kites. 

Flying a kite here is a lot different than how we did it when I was little. That is part of the reason he buys so many kites. The first difference is space, when I was little we went to a place that was wide open to fly our kites, but here in the city space is limited so everybody just flies from their own roof. That changes the way they get the kite up in the air too, we would just run pulling it along behind us until it took off. So instead, Tariq stands in one place and yanks the kite string against the wind until the wind takes it.

After it is up in the air it is not just the thrill of flying that everyone is after. The whole thing is like a mini battle. The point is to cut all your neighbors kite strings so their kite flies away! Tariq buys special string coated in finely ground glass to make it easier to cut other peoples kites. He waits until their kite gets close and he will suddenly start reeling in the string as fast as possible to rub it on the other line and snap it. Sometimes he wins and sometimes the neighbors win. Saad and I find it funny when these little boys in a house behind ours constantly cut Tariq's strings, they cheer and get so happy. They have much more practice than he does, it has been a long time since he was a little boy and spent hours on the roof. Now he mostly does it to play with Saad, and he is still kind of rusty.

I can't get the hang of how he launches them, so mostly I just sit with them and read a book, sometimes I'll ask Tariq to let me fly it for a bit, but as soon as another kite is spotted I hand it back over to him. I don't really want to have a battle, I much prefer just to fly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jean Skirt and Bag

Asalamu alaikum,

Couple sewing FOs to show you all!

First I made a denim skirt from two pairs of jeans. I was inspired by a Raveler I know who made one and posted pics. Hers was pretty awesome, so I wanted to try it.
Then I used the top of the second extra pair to make this bag for my SIL.

Inside view, I used the same fabric for the lining and the applique heart on the front, and hand sewed the zipper(I was worried that it might turn out crooked if I used the machine, by hand gave me more control)

Back view, I kept all the pockets, but did sew the front zipper opening closed.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mayndak Madness!

Asalamu alaikum,

Recently as the weather has been growing warmer, we have been invaded by frogs(might be toads though). There is a half inch crack under the main gate, and they just squeeze right under and roam around the main hall.

My darling little man loves them. 
Saad carefully holding a frog, so he doesn't squish it.

I have always loved catching frogs, toads, and lizards. When I was younger my parents took us camping a lot and my brothers and I always loved to try to catch them. Saad is not afraid of manydaks(frogs), or chipkalian(lizards), as most of my nephews and nieces are. He always freaks out my SILs by trying to catch them and bring them inside to show off his new temporary pet.
He doesn't keep them, but puts them in a little plastic bucket and watches them for a while before releasing them back under the front door.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Feature-Dining Table VS. Dastarkhan!

Asalamu alaikum,

In our family the dastarkhan(a mat placed on the floor to eat around, similar to a table cover) always wins. The dining table is not used very often. Since I have come to Pakistan, I think we have used it only twice. Though when we have guests over the TV room coffee table is also sometimes used.

It is just easier to use a dastarkhan. Since we are a big family, even the big formal dining table isn't big enough to seat all of us. So when meal time comes around, we pull out the dastarkahn. Everyone always sits in the same spot. My father in law next to the pots, to serve out the food, eldest brother sits to his left, and then his wife, their children, then me, Saad, Tariq, and the three sisters complete the circle.

The plates are filled, and passed around, and with a "bismillah" we start the meal.

After we are all finished, the plates and pots get taken back to the kitchen. The dastarkhan gets wiped down, dried, and folded to be put away for the next meal.

It is also much more portable than the table. If we want to have a tikka party on the roof, we just bring up the dastarkhan and our picnic rug. Much easier than carting the patio table around.

It is simple and fits nicely for our family. Sometimes if we eat at the dining table, or in the tv room around the coffee table, it now feels far too formal.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Feature-Online Khutbahs

Asalamu alaikum,

Recently sister Yosra over at "After Hardship There is Ease" posted about listening to a Friday Khutbah on Monday. JazakhAllah khair sister, this was a brilliant idea.

I sit every week and listen(well, I hear but don't really listen) to a khutbah(a short speech given by the Imam just before the midday Friday prayer) in Urdu. I don't understand enough Urdu to understand what they are saying, and because of so many masajid in the area the sounds from them all kind of blend together, making it even harder.

Even in Abu Dhabi, when I could go to the masjid, the khutbah was only in Arabic. I understood some of the duas, and I was very happy to be able to pray with some of the sisters that sometimes came. I was still a bit upset to not be able to understand what the imam was talking about

So after reading the post, I decided to watch a khutbah online. Last Friday was about unity in the Ummah, not letting nationalism or racism divide us. This Friday was about remembering death, and letting it remind you to not procrastinate in doing good deeds, because no one knows how long they will be in this life.

InshAllah, I will watch a khutbah online every week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Little kid sayings

Asalamu alaikum,

MashAllah Saad sometimes comes up with the most wonderful thoughts. I want to share a couple of his most recent ones, they really make me happy.

The other day we were on the roof in the late afternoon, the sun was going down and the moon was already visible. Saad came up to me and said "Mama, sun goes like this,"(while pointing from where the sunrises and arcing over to where it sets). Then he did the same for the moon. After telling me both these things he said "Allah makes the sun and moon go this way." Not something that we have actively taught him, but something he has put together from what he sees. We teach him that Allah(swt) takes care of us, if we have any problems he should pray to Allah(swt).

On a different day, my father in law was working in his little garden space, and trimming some dead flowers. He had cut off a stem of a snap dragon that had a single wilting flower and a couple leaves, and put it in a pile of other cuttings. Saad picked it up, brought it in the house and stuck it in one of the empty flower pots of dirt, waiting for seeds. Then he came over to me and showed me the flower and told me-"Mama, I put it inside the dirt, and Allah will make it better."

His latest little saying was cute, and made me cry a bit. One of my sisters in law recently had a baby girl, and they all came to stay with us for a week or so(SIL, husband and baby), then a month later my brother in law and his wife had a baby boy. Saad played with SIL's baby and we have been using Skype to see and talk to BIL's baby. He loves them so much. We were walking upstairs to our room one night, and Saad asks me "Mama, I pray to Allah, and he will give me a baby like that?"

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Feature-Nivea and Scent Memories

Asalamu alaikum,

When Saad was first born his skin was peeling a lot. While we were in the hospital they gave us this huge tub of Nivea cream(the white, not the blue one). Ever since then, the scent of white Nivea is the scent of my baby.

When we came to live with Tariq's family they use Nivea too, but they prefer the blue kind. I found it too greasy to use, and continued using the white one. It is now one of the traditional things that anybody coming to Pakistan brings along(also on the list-brands of shampoo or soap that we like, and all the little comforts that we got used to having that are slightly harder to find or more expensive here).

Every time I open the jar of cream I get the most vivid pictures of Saad as a teeny tiny little thing, all wrapped up in his little blankets, and slathered in cream. It is a simple little thing, but the feeling is so strong. Most people probably have similar strong associations for things like fresh popcorn, the smell of the earth after rain, cut grass.

What are your scent memories? Does anybody have a single scent that is so strongly associated with a certain memory?