About Me

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bird by Pablo Neruda

It was passed from one bird to another, 
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute, 
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air-
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography-
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.
-Pablo Neruda

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eid Mubarak

It's eid today, a holiday that comes at the end of a month of fasting. This year the family is together and we are eating and hanging out alot! Eid Mubarak!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ramadan we hardly knew you...making the most of the last days

"30 days of fasting for 14 hours, it's going to be long Ramadan!" And now I'm scrambling to make the most of the last days of the blessed month as it draws to a close. How did the days just fly by? The last ten days are the holiest and blessed days when worshipers keep vigil of the night in supplication and prayer. I've stayed awake one night at the beginning of Ramadan and am looking forward to another community qiyam this weekend. The communal gatherings are wonderful and provide support for continuing striving towards God, however I find worship to be the most powerful when done alone. I'm an introvert and find people around me to be distracting at times. I become conscious of my actions and that's not conducive to reflection and supplication. I have already set goals in increasing my worship even more for the last days.

Qiyam. copyright fana, 2012
The purpose of Ramadan is to be spiritually uplifted and feel peace and closeness with God. To go a little beyond than what is normally done. My goal this Ramadan is to finish reciting the Quran, I'm really excited that I will be able to accomplish this for the first time ever. I am also taking the time to read the meaning and reflect upon the verses of the Qur'an to better connect with the book and take away a lesson. A simple way to make the most of the last days is to increase whatever good you do by just a little more. The extra push helps to be more conscious of our actions which leads to consciousness of God, or taqwa. Giving in charity, helping others, feeding your family and friends, and making extra supplication are all things that will help in reaching that goal. I pray that everyone out there who observes Ramadan makes the most of the last days and reaches their goal!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Making the most of free time in Ramadan

I'm not working full time this year, in fact my part time job has me work at home and occasional meetings around town. This means that I'm home a lot! I'm working on some other projects but my time is very unstructured and relatively unscheduled. I've been praying for and working towards getting a more permanent and full time job. I wish I had a real work schedule with a steady paycheck like everyone else. However with Ramadan in full swing I have started to be more thankful that I am home more and have the time to work around my fasting and prayer schedule. Instead of bemoaning my lack of a proper job, I'm grateful for the time this Ramadan. I can take longer to do my prayer and read more of the Qur'an throughout the day. I can also cook in peace and sit down with my family for dinner without stress and time constraint. Can I get an Alhumdulillah! I'm making the most of my extra time and long days by increasing my worship and reflection. Each year I attempt to recite the entire Qur'an in the month, and each year I fall short of my goal because of work or classes. However this year I think I can reach that goal. I have kept up my recitation and have been able to complete a 1/30th of the Qur'an each day, which will allow me to have it completed in a month. I guess this is my prayers answered from the years before when I prayed that I had more time to worship and reflect. I know for most the long day of fasting coupled with work must be taxing and exhausting. Thank you God for making my work such that I can rest and spend more time in worship and reflection.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Being extra thankful in Ramadan

My grumbling stomachs reminds me that I'm fasting during Ramadan. The fast this year in the long Summer days is harder than last year. At times I complain that I'm so hungry but I know that at the end of the day I will fill my stomach to its limit from a table over flowing with  food. At the end of each day of fasting I bow my head and thank God for the blessed meal and company. This year I am extra thankful and extra blessed. This year I'm with my family, fasting, preparing meals, praying, and eating together. Also this year I have an extra prayer of thanks to God, for giving me my mother.

My parents moved last year in Ramadan and in that same month already full of changes for my mother, she discovered two lumps in her breast. I felt them, "I don't know what this is," she told me. A fear of what it could be crept through me, I prayed that I was wrong. The doctor confirmed my fear. I left my job and city to go be with her through her chemo therapy. In a new town with no friends or familiar surrounding, she needed one of us. I spent the weeks with her, cooking meals that her stomach could handle, massaging her legs and arms when the sharp pain tore through them, letting her cry when all of her hair fell off, and trying to be optimistic for her. Her strong will to make it through her treatment and pain showed me a strength that I have never experienced before. The time I spent with her was a blessing and I thanked God for allowing me to be with her. I prayed that the cancer would go away and that she would make it to the end.

A year later to this Ramadan, she is cancer free. She came back to join us for Ramadan, hugging us all and happy to be back in her city with her children. Her presence in the house brings about the Ramadan spirit. "Do you want chicken biryani?" was the first thing she asked, "Yes!" It's been too long since I've had her chicken biryani. Her hair is growing back, right now it's a short stylish look. "You look younger with this style" we all tell her. She smiles pulling her finger through the strands. We all sit down to eat her biryani, the smell intoxicating us. I bow my head and say a prayer of thanks, a real deep thanks for everything at the table. My hunger is forgotten, all I care is that my mom is back sitting next to me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"The month of Ramadan is to keep silent about hatred and anger and to say, to repeat and to whisper the words of love, tenderness and affection."
                       -Tariq Ramadan

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My new photography project

I've been working on my photography again and really enjoying it! It helps that I finally have a camera that I have always dreamed of owning. I've come a long way from working my dad's minolta point and shoot camera as a child. I was the designated photographer of the family other than my dad since I was the eldest and only one who could keep a steady hand when taking pictures. My travels have also inspired me and I have taken my best photographs on the road somewhere. Well, I have decided to do something with my photography and created this http://quranicphotography.tumblr.com/

This picture was taken in India on the way to my Uncle's house from the airport and the sun was rising and everything was still covered in mist and darkness. I love the contrast between the darkness and emerging light. 

This is a way to combine two of my passions, photography and my religion. I hope that viewers take away some inspiration from the picture or the verse or both. Please feel free to share the pictures as long as you give credit to me. Thanks and enjoy!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lazy Sunday

It's been a lazy Sunday, with the heat outside and waking up in the afternoon, I knew the day was shot. Instead of worrying about doing things, I took it easy. I watched the olympics and talked with the siblings. The night before had been spent awake at the mosque, we all came home at 5am and rolled into bed around 5:30am. When you wake up at 2pm and it's hot outside and it's Ramadan, there isn't much that can be done than to just do nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is important.

rose bloom in my garden

Saturday, July 28, 2012


One week of Ramadan has just gone by and it has been very enjoyable. I'm spending this Ramadan with my siblings, a change from last year when I was alone for half of Ramadan. Our iftaars are filled with laughter and cooking together. My mother who lives in another town worries that we're not feeding ourselves properly. Of course we're not making the typical Indian iftaar which consists of many delicious fried goodness. We don't have the patience of making the pakoras and samosas, choley, and paranthas. Also we've all pledged to eat healthier with the occasional indulgences. Aunty, who is like our second mother called to tell us that she cooked extra food for us. She also worries that we're not able to make a proper iftaar. She asked what we ate and was aghast that it did not include pakoras and samosas. Our meals have consisted of a delicious fruit salad of plums, strawberries, cherries, kiwi, apples, and bananas; a refreshing cold drink made with all the fresh fruit that is in season for the summer; and a main course with meat and vegetables. The menu in my mind in the mornings is much longer and consists of various dishes that I know I'm not going to get around making but sounds so delicious when the first hunger pangs hits around 11am. Visions and smells of biryanis, kormas, fluffly buttery naans, lasagna, enchiladas, and chocolate cake dance in my head. By the time the sun sets around 8:30pm and we take the first sip of our drink and bite of date, all of those fantasies of food dissipate and the simple date seems to be the most gourmet and delicious food ever eaten! By the time we're done with the fruit salad and appetizers, we're so full that we just pick at the main course. The meal takes all of 20 minutes, half of that time we're talking and laughing, our energy restored by the food. Despite the whole family not being together, we manage to make the iftaar a memorable and blessed meal. Despite our hungry stomachs and the younger brother who eats the equivalent of two people, we always have food leftover, a true blessing from God. Mom will be coming next week, we will probably have pakoras and samosas and chicken biryani.... can't wait.

Roohafza lemonade with a samosa, cucumber and lemon infused water. 

Watermelon and lime cooler with mint, lentil soup with beef kabob and fruit salad, chicken tart on puff pastry with cucumber and tomato salad. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Village memories

I recently went to India and spent time in the village where my mother is from. The way of living in the village seems a world and time apart for me, yet there is a familiarity to it. Sleeping on the charpai, cots made of rope, using a kerosene lantern at night since electricity is never regular, using a hand pump to fetch water, the smell of a fire, the low mooing of the cows, sharp acrid smell of cow manure, the cool breeze from the fields as the sun goes down. These are all fond memories that surface in my mind and eyes when I am far away from there. I can still hear the crickets at night and my grandmother calling out in the dark asking if I'm comfortable. I make sure the mosquito netting is snug around my bedding, and I drift off to sleep listening to the steady symphony of the night. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bhopal- A Silent Picture

Amazing photography that captures the eeriness and effects of the Union Carbide Plant in Bhopal.

Source: http://www.bhopalasilentpicture.com/

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan 2012

Wow, it has been such a long time since I've posted to this blog, life and many other distractions took precedence. Well Ramadan is here and I'm looking forward to long fasts and partaking in the blessings with my family. I have alot to be thankful for this year. My mom who has been sick since last Ramadan is recovering well and her treatment is finished. I've been hanging out with my siblings all summer and for the first time in a while we will all be together for Ramadan! I'm looking forward to making some yummy food and also cool drinks especially after a long day of fasting in this Summer heat! Look forward to some posts from me and also photography, I promise I'll post more regularly.