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Thursday, August 18, 2011

One of THOSE moments

I'm the kind of mother who's constantly beating herself up for not being around enough for the kids. And I don't even do an office job. For what it's worth, I am home and available at a moment's notice should the need arise. But the truth is, there's a magazine to run and there are many times in a day when I realise I should've been with my sons for the last hour, playing with blocks, instead of monitoring the online stats on Papercuts or sending out emails to team members. And I feel bad about that - a lot. I know why my younger son starts crying when he sees me pull out the laptop, and why Solom gets agitated when he sees me zipping to the living room (i.e. the laptop's permanent abode).

This afternoon I was heading out to the salon for some quick work and I realised Solom did not want to let me go. We waved 'bye' to each other and I said, "I'll be back soon! See you!" and all the cheerful things one says, but he kept his eyes fixed on me and, with his arm stretched out and with utter distress written all over his face, kept calling out - "Mama? Mama?" He did not want me to go.

I had to go, of course, but I kept wondering why it was such a big deal for him. And then I realised, it's because he never sees me leave. You see, I'm based at home, out of choice, and because we're new in Karachi (and, let's face it, it's big ol' busybusybusy Karachi) I don't go out a lot to hang with friends. So this is what Solom sees every day: he gets dropped off to school by Mama. He comes out of school and Mama is there to pick him up. He goes to play, Mama's waving at the door. He comes back, Mama's waiting for him. So now when Mama was leaving and he was home, he didn't know what to make of it.

And that's when it hit me: I am there for my son. I am. And he knows it. Isn't that awesome?!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amma, tussi vee great ho

So I called my mother and asked her to read the latest blog entry. Five minutes later, I received this text message:

The computer is dead. Long live the computer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Isloo, tussi great ho

I’ve been missing Islamabad a lot lately. Not that there’s anything wrong with Karachi *stops, reconsiders that statement* but with my friends putting up annoying FB status updates like ‘Rain in Isloo, sooo beaaauuutiful’ and ‘Clouds over mountains *sigh* <3’ and ‘Romantic n rainy… wattay morning!’ my longing for ye ol’ pind has increased tenfold. 

Going back is always a mixed bag, though. Not that there’s anything wrong with Islamabad *stops, reconsiders statement* but the fact of the matter is that now when we visit the city, we’re visiting our parents… we’re not actually ‘at home’. And with a child on either hip, it can become complicated not to be at home. You’ll recall the famous saying: Home is the where the frickin’ playpen is.

It actually hasn’t been that long since we were there last – we’d just flown up in June to celebrate my 33rd birthday. The occasion was ominously rolling around and Azfar and I were beginning to wonder what the heck we could do in Karachi with a total of four people living within driving distance who were actually willing to meet up with us. So we thought we’d take the ostrich approach and go to Islamabad instead. I nearly changed my mind, however, after having this surreal conversation on the topic with my mother:

Amma: Aafoo, I’ve decided I’m having your birthday party.

Me: Aww. Amma, there’s no need… really.

Amma: No it’s fine, I owe people dinners anyway.

Me: Ah.

Amma (forging ahead): The guest list is coming to about fifteen people. Mashallah, there are eight of us just among the immediate family. Then I thought I hadn’t gotten my friends together for a long time, so there’s Tahira, Nina, Kaisera and Imran, Cheem and Zafri, Nazo and Bajia. Asma may not be able to make it but I’m going to ask her, of course. You never manage to meet all of them when you visit, so this will be a good time.

Me: *waiting expectantly*

Amma: If you like, you could invite one or two of your friends as well!

Me: Hmm. That could be problematic, seeing that there are more than one or two of them and, um, they’re all married with… err… children and stuff.

Amma (forging ahead): Oh, I forgot. Kaisera’s son-in-law’s birthday is also on the same day and he MAY be visiting from Dubai on a surprise visit… we don’t know yet… so I have told her that I’ll also have his name written on the cake.


Amma: Yes, I thought it’ll be a nice gesture.

Me (thinking quickly): Ma, Azfar is going to get my birthday cake.

Amma: AFIA. Don’t be SILLY. I’M hosting the birthday party. I will NOT ask your husband to buy the cake.

Me (conspiratorially): No, Ma, you don’t understand. I’m MARRIED now… it’ll look VERY weird that you’re doing everything and that my husband isn’t playing a role, you know?? What will my in-laws think? It’s just not DONE.

Amma (conspiratorially/totally-getting-it-ly): Ohhh… I see. Yes, you’re right…

And so we went to Islamabad for my birthday. Amma put a fabulous do together; so fabulous, in fact, that she was wiped out before it even started.  The food was AWESOME and Amma’s awesomer than awesome friends rocked the party like they always do. On our end, Zain spent the evening bawling for no fathomable reason. So one could say the party was being rocked on one end and wrecked on the other. But everyone agreed the food was delish. And Amma had put up these lovely balloons and streamers. And the cake said ‘WANT A PIECE OF ME.’ And I got very cool gifts, ranging from perfumes and bags to book vouchers and almanacs on Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali (yes, you read that right). And Amma gave me a hilariously appropriate card that read:



Chalo Shabaash Cake Khareedo Aur Kaato! It’s your Birthday!!! :p

The last present was an anonymous-looking box wrapped in generic, totally forgettable, silver paper. “Who’s this from?” I wondered, opening the card. There was a pair of scissors made on the front with a smiley face on either blade.

With you being my other half, life seems so complete and better in every way


 Happy birthday to my perfect match. To my wife!

I blinked. Then I rushed to the adjoining room, where Azfar was playing with the kids. “Thank you for the card,” I barely managed to whisper in his ear. “It was WHOLLY undeserved.” And with that, yours truly promptly started crying.

“It’s the best card ever,” I gurgled, tearing the wrapping on the gift open. “This is better than ANY present you could EVER give me. OHMYGODANiPHONEANDAKINDLE??!!!! WHOOOOOHOOOO!!!!! WHOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! *galloping off back to the next room* AMMAAAAAA… LOOK WHAT AZFAR GOT MEEEEEEE!!!!!”

Once the excitement had worn off, I got suspicious about the card. My peers will understand what I mean when I say that it was a little too perfect. Something was fishy in the State of Denmark. Later that night:

Me: You picked the first card you saw, didn’t you.

Azfar (sagely shaking his head): Nnnopes.

Me: Second?

A: Nnnopes.

Me: Third.

A: Maybe.

(thinks hard)

A: It was bright yellow…

Me: I don’t want to know!!!

Anyway, so in that incredibly rushed trip I remembered why it’s so goshdarned brilliant to have a home town to go to. In four days, I got more done than I’d been able to get done in six months of being in a new city. Got the tailor over to stitch my quota of summer clothes; got my bank issues sorted out; reconnected with most of our incredible friends (including two of my closest girlfriends, one of whom just had a baby a few months ago); had a birthday party; watched our parents enjoying their grandchildren; and sat on Amma’s roof.

Don’t underestimate that last point. Because when you’re from Islamabad and you move to Karachi (or Houston, for that matter) it’s almost a shock to return to that environment. You feel like a starving plant that’s suddenly been hooked up to an IV with chlorophyll. I sat on Amma’s roof, and I drank in that view and I feasted my eyes on those green-as-green-can-be hills, on the flowering plants and bushes in Nani’s lawn, the stretch of park just beyond – nearly choked with trees – and yes, feasted my eyes too on the clouds rolling over those hills, the sky so blue after the rain of the previous day. You see, I know what my friends are on about when they post those FB status updates. I know.

View from Amma's house - this one before the rain

And now I can’t wait for Eid!

Conversations with Calliope - Part V

Calliope: so, i weigh 102.6 today

Me:  That is so ridiculous.
Me: That's not a valid weight. That's, like, a fever statistic.

C: i should keep looking for apartments, seriously
C: i lost 3 pounds in 3 days
C:  "what diet are you on?" "oh, the homeless diet."


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Explosive Hanif

He isn't, actually... I just needed a cheesy title for the post. When you meet him, Mohammed Hanif is somehow exactly what you might expect and nothing like what you'd have imagined. Don't ask me to explain that, please. All I know is, he's nothing close to as obvious and definable as an explosion.

We spoke for about an hour and a half about everything on the planet, only some of which was whittled down for inclusion in this interview for Papercuts Vol. 8. By the end of it, I honestly didn't know who'd interviewed whom. The man's a sponge. Now I know how he's managed to churn out two books in three years, and why he'll probably go on to write many more. What would you do if you had so much information going into your head and had a way with words?


That's the way, Habibi

In this multicultural, globalised world, it is so important to keep our children rooted. Today's conversation was a good example of why:

Solom: *sneezes*

Me: Al-hamdulillah! What do we say?

Solom: Al-bless you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Counting is fun

While changing Solom's diaper:

Solom:  MAMA. Yeh Solom DIAPER hai.

Me:  Haan betay.

S:  MAMA. Solom FOUR diaper pehna hai.

Me:  Nahin betay, Baby Bhai is small so he wears # 4. Solom is big so he wears # 5. Okay?


Me:  Haan betaaay...

S:  Baba number SIX diaper pehna hai.