The move

I think I completely forgot to blog about this!

Nearly 10 months ago, my husband told me about a job offer that he had from Philippines. With a nearly 5 month K in my arms, I was completely unprepared for a news like that. He had not accepted the offer by then but he told me that he was willing to move because of the perks that he would get. He was asking me for my opinion.

MY OPINION!?

What was I supposed to say? I have just settled in Singapore and dont want to move again? I have made such nice friends here and I am scared I might not be able to do this again? I have not yet gotten used to having a baby around and you are talking about moving?

In the end, I didnt say any of this. Instead, I just said that it had to be his decision and I will be happy with it. I dont know if he saw the confusion in my eyes or not but just a few days later he broke the news that he had accepted the offer.

We did not know how we would cope with the ‘moving’ hassles with K so just one month later I was on board on the plane, off to Pakistan so that at least K would be at ease. I stayed in Pakistan for 3 long months while my husband got everything packed in Singapore, sold the car, got an agent to rent out the apartment, move to Philippines, settle in his new job, find a decent place for us to live and a car. Amidst all this havoc, I remained in Pakistan, unsure of how long my stay would be and obviously with a ‘not so great’ time table for K. You know how it can get when you are with family. People have different schedules and you are kind of just expected to go along with the flow. They will never SAY anything, they will just silently EXPECT and you just know that you HAVE to oblige. K started sleeping at 1 n the morning during those 3 months!! Imagine a 6-9 month old sleeping soo late! The good thing was that she was still breastfeeding so I was not too concerned about her food. She remained a good girl and did not give me a hard time otherwise, no trips to the doctor and her chacha must have been relieved who has to see too many doctors already with the older brother’s kids wenever they are in karachi.

so finally, in March, I reached Philippines.

First impression: it actually is a lot similar to Pakistan. You reach the airport and you can just feel that! its not as organized as singapore and it can be a bit frustrating at times but usually reminds you that people have flaws and that is exactly what you should expect from them. Something which you kind of forget while being in Singapore where everything is too perfect.

Now the best things about moving to Philippines:

  1. The condo here has amazing facilities esp for Kinza with two indoor play rooms, a fish pond and plenty of space to play outside.
  2. There is a shopping mall just across the road with a super market where you can find pretty much anything under the sun. This means we are not super dependent upon the driver as we thought we would be.
  3. No, we do not live in a bunker and yes, it rains a lot here and flooding is a major problem every year but Philippines definitely deals with it in a way much better than Pakistan. May be because there is a lot more rain here than Pakistan and they have learned their lesson. I cannot compare with Singapore because for them having water on the roads as high as 6 inches is flood.
  4. The locals are easy going, happy go lucky people.
  5. It is just so much easier and cheaper. to get domestic help as compared to Singapore.

Negative points:

  1. Isolation: I had made around 6-7 really good friends in Singapore who were MY friends. Not my husband’s colleagues wives, not mommies of K’s playmates. Here i am still trying to make friends and have not yet succeeded as such.
  2. Formalities: Things are way too formal here. Back in Singapore, if you wanted to have some people over for lunch, just make something and arrange for paper plates! You could take your kids along and let them have fun. Here, you have to leave the kids with nannies because you know that your hosts would have spent the past two days just decorating the house and there would be a 5 course meal which you are afraid your kids will disturb! So you either leave the kids with the nannies, take the kids along and get stared at by everyone and not get invited later or u just decide to stay at home
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Why, oh why? [Women and Masjid (Pakistani Perspective)]

Growing up in a family like mine, I never realy felt any biases against myself due to my gender. I had the same curfew time and went to the same educational institutes like my brother. I learned to drive pretty much the same time and interesting both of us were taught to offer salah by our grandfather too. In fact, a lot of the times it was my brother who thought I always got the advantage, being a girl, and got away with a lot of things and now wen I think back, I cant really deny that completely 😛

But as I grew older and started going to Pakistan more often (and then later lived there), I realized, things were ‘culturally’ very different from what I had been taught at home and from what I had learned from books. I am not saying that Islam really differs too much between the two genders, but the difference is way too visible in the predominantly so-called Islamic State. You know, as it is said, if you want to understand Islam, look at Islam itself and not Muslims. This saying started to become a reality for me.

Soon, I found out there is not a single masjid nearby where women could go to pray if they wanted to. Funny. Yes, I am a Hanafi and I always knew that Prophet Mohammed (SAW) encouraged women to pray at home but did that mean women are not allowed into the masjid at all? I started digging for answers and interestingly, I found a hadith which says:

Hazrat Abdullah bin Omar (RA) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Do not prevent your women from attending the masjid, even though their houses are better for them” [Sunan Abu Dawood]

Not bad at all! This was all very logical…something I knew already but just didnt know from where it came. Praying at home is better for women but Islamically, men could not prevent women from praying at the masjid. The meaning was straightforward: a masjid is supposd to provide proper facilities for women at masjid and then it is upto the women whether they want to go or not.

Now, talking about fiqh. Hanafis are usually the most strict wen it comes to women praying at the masjid and as it is the predominant fiqh in Pakistan, I really needed to know whether it is something cultural or Hanafis really believe that going to masjid is, in fact, haram for women. I found the following:

Hazrat Aisha (RA) has been reported to have said, “If the Messenger of Allah (SAW) was alive to see what women are doing now, he would surely have prevented them from entering the masjid for prayer just as women of Banu Israel were prevented” [Sahih al-Bukhari]

Now the above is simply an opinion by Hazrat Aisha (RA), not a ruling. It is also of common knowledge that Hazrat Omar (RA) prevented women from attending masjid for prayer as part of the law during his reign without making it part of the religion itself. Futher, the fatwa on this matter must be scrutinized far more carefully:

“It is disliked for women to attend congregational prayers in the masjid even for Eid and Juma prayers, and even for old women attending night prayers, according to the more reliable position in Hanafi School, due to the corruption of time.” [Imam al-Haskafi, Radd al-Muhtar ala al-Durr, 1/566]

So, again, it is disliked and not considered haram as the common misconception in Pakistan. Further, if you look at the Hanafi rules, you will in fact find various laws regarding how a woman should behave in a masjid if she is having her periods. Now , if according to Pakistani jurists, women are not allowed in the masjid at all, why do we need to talk about wat a women should do if her periods start when she is in the masjid?

And then at times I think, if women are allowed to go freely to markets, lawn exhibitions, fashion shows and social gatherings where men and women intermingle, often (not always obviously) in the most un-Islamic manner, then how can going to masjid be considered haram? Sadly, in a country like Pakistan, even the most religious women often have to miss their prayers because they were either stuck in a traffic jam or were buying essentials at a market. You would be shocked to know that most shopping malls in Pakistan do not even have a prayer room for women and interestingly, most shops remain closed till around 1 in the afternoon.

So what are women supposed to do?

Well, I guess just wat they have been doing so far…prayers can wait!

Afridi is still a Hero

Source: Churaofication from a contact on facebook

Well, now that I am completely over wednesday’s loss, I have started to see things more clearly 🙂 I said that before as well, even wen I was really mad at the team, I cant help it but just love the perfect ‘X’ that Afridi makes with his body but there’s definitely more to it than just the X-factor. He represents Pakistan in the best possible manner: he’s aggressive, emotional, passionate, vocal and very unpredictable. He has great leadership qualities and I seriously think he should be retianed as the captain of Pakistan one-day side till the next world cup . Once Younis and Misbah are kicked out from the team, he can easily bring the young, inexperienced team do a great job under his captaincy. He can bring stability to the young side which unfortunately has to wait till 5 days before a series starts to even know who the captain is. I hope, Afridi, alongwith Waqar Younis would be retained and would be allowed to do their job till the next world cup…something which seems very very unlikely in Pakistan. But I wish, really wish, that for once the PCB would do something in the name of stability.

The Bastards!

No, I am not calling the Pakistani players bastards….I am disappointed and heartbroken but I am done with my wailing and have comforted myself that there can only be one winner, that winner can win by merit or can be gifted that victory but at the end of the day, the winner takes all and yes, I want to be an Indian right now…but, wait, I am supporting Sri Lanka on Saturday because I know they can avenge Indians just like they did in 1996. Oh God, stop me now, I dont want this post to become something I dont want it to become. And yea, I cant help it but I still like the perfect ‘X’ that Afridi makes with his body after every wkt.

So, I shal talk about something else: Dogs! I dont know why I seem to attract them! I mean, why do dogs come and brush their head on my body wen I dont even look at them. Cant you see I am a hijabi woman…who does not hate dogs if they are just being cute and staying away but definitely hates it wen they rub themselves all over my clothes and I have to come back home, feeling disgusted, needing to change before I can even read my namaz! And no, it aint funny, especially on a day wen I am already feeling blue!

Ae dil mere chal re

Pakistan has already won more matches in this worldcup than the last two world cups combined, if that wasnt enough, Pakistan has actually beaten Australia to be at the top of the group which featured both Sri Lanka and Australia, has qualifid for the quarter final and will be up against West Indies. Now west Indies is the team which definitely came out to be the better of the two wen the two teams met in the last world cup, but if Pakistan wins, it will be through to the semis, again first time after the ’99 world cup but this time it will be up against Australia or India…God, thats already too much to handle for weak hearted like me! Although its just the matter of holding the nerves for three more matches but is Team Pakistan really mentally strong enough? Obviously, I wouldnt have been thinking like this if I was an Australian but I am really proud of the fact that even though Team Pakistan had been through all sorts of problems from wicket keepers absconding to the best seamers in the world being banned for match fixing, it was actually able to bring all the odds together.

So for now I have my fingers crossed and enjoying moments like this:

Afridi....still going Boom Boom...but this time round with the ball

And yea, I am still lovin it, although realistically speaking, I dont think Pakistan is winning the World Cup…but a little wishful thinking doesnt hurt 🙂

The country drowns

For the past few months I was living in a utopia: a place where the main headline at the primetime news is that an undercover reporter has cnfrmd that people are gracious enough to give up their seats for elderly people in trains and the newspaper places the news of a salesgirl to have not been attentive enough to a tourist on the front page. While living here news coming from Pakistan sounds nothing less than news coming from hell.

Over the past few years good news has become more of a luxury for Pakistanis but nothing has been worse than watever has happened over the past one year. can it get any worse? I hope not but I think it would.

We have gone spirally downwards from the country beside India to the country that killed its ex prime minister, from the country that the whole Muslim world looked up to as the ‘leader’ to a country that trained people like Faisal Shahzad who cant even be loyal to their own country and from the country of sports champions to the country of sportsmen who can throw away just about any game for a few thousand dollars. I wish we could get back to those simple times wen people didnt even know Pakistan exits

And then we wonder why people dont want to help the victims of a flood that has drowned one-fifth of the country. Do we need any more reasons? Well, I can give you a few more. The ‘perfect’ record of our President is just one of the many for a start.

If you have read my blog previously, I am sure you have noticed that I am one of the few crazy optimists who still believe there is hope for Pakistan. But with each passing moment, my hope is dwindling. I dont know wat to expect any more.

Of shoes and men with balls

Amidst all the heart wrenching news that has been coming from Pakistan for the past two weeks now, I cant believe things have started to sound so funny all of a sudden.

Just a day ago a pair of shoes were hurled at President Zardari in Birmingham and no matter how much Kaira is denying the incident, there must be some truth in it as it has been covered by international media. Not that I believe everything that the international media says but if the news was wrong in fact, I am still unable to comprehend why was the transmission of most news channels banned in Pakistan? And from what I have read, I understand Jang distributors were threatened too and thus the distribution got delayed by several hours. Whether it really happened or not, it did bring smiles to faces of thousands of Pakistanis all over the world who were tingled just by the thought of it. Add to it some of the funniest tweets and there you have it: a comical whirlwind which was more of a relief for the distressed people.

But there was some even better stuff coming up. In the last test between Pakistan and England, Umar Gul emerged as the highest scoring Pakistani batsman. It was actually a bit embarrassing to see how the rest of the team just toppled. The 2nd test was proving to be no different till later during the day, Zulqarnain Haider and Mohammed Amir came on the crease. Magic happened from then onwards. It made me proud to see (while following score on cricinfo.com) how these new young players were fighting back for perhaps not a victory but for an honorable defeat. And then came Ajmal. His maiden 50 alongwith Haider’s 88 gave Pakistan some hope. We have a match on our hands now, baby!!!

We should now only have 10 bowlers in the team alongwith a wicketkeeper who can bat. That actually seems like the only combination that’s working for a change!