Not now!

As someone rightly said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, I wouldn’t get anything done.”. I do not know where to start really! It seems like yesterday when I was thinking of writing down something and then something else came up…and before I had realized, I actually, postponed and later forgot about what I was going to write about! This was not unusual and certainly not the first time that it had happened. Much as I dislike to admit, I will be honest enough to state that I procrastinate! Now do not get me all wrong here! Although I do put off certain things/ tasks/ jobs…..surprisingly that is not always the case. Of course, life will be pretty disorderly if that was always the case.

I am successful as far as keeping up with the daily routine in life is concerned. However, I feel a little perplexed if a challenge comes along -usually like a change in the daily plans. I am basically not a fan of drastic changes……change is good but it is best only when it is slow, gradual and little by little. Well, seems to me that it is a lasting change if it is taking time to settle down in our lives. So, as I am analyzing my take on “changes aka challenges in life”, some part of me is saying that this is actually procrastination! What can I say. I am not one of those who take the bull by its horns and get over with it.

Besides procrastination, I know there is something more, that is at times, holding me back. I think I am one of those people who have vast interests and hobbies but they never seem to last long. These seem more like phases in my life that hold my attention only for a brief period. I am amazed at people who have pursuits and hobbies which they keep for maybe as long as they live. As I am writing this post I can recall how passionate I was about baking, cooking, stitching, watching the latest movies, working out at the gym, photography, teaching kids and even writing. Although, I still somehow manage to enjoy most of these interests, but what lacks is the consistency that should be there. There is always something more that I could have done or may be something even better. Perhaps, this is the result that I no longer cherish a particular task and forget about it pretty conveniently.

As I conclude my post, I have this to say to all of you. For each one of us, life is different and diverse in its own way. Just live your dream, do your best, and not be held back by the daily routines. What has to be done has to be done, so why wait? Time is on your side only if you make it yours.

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Courtesy

“He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love”. These words of wisdom form the theme of my post today. Merriam-webster defines courtesy as: “behavior marked by polished manners or respect for others”.

Many a times there are things that we do not give much importance to or take for granted. For instance common courtesies such as greeting and welcoming someone, saying please and thank you, and even replying to e-mails on time or returning a call, hold great value. These seemingly trivial things can really affect our lives in a big way. I believe that the seed of mistrust can be planted if the right response is not given at the right time. We must at the same time be polite with others- the ones we know and even the ones we do not know that well. After all that is what courtesy is all about.

While we expect others to be courteous, we must be cognizant of the need for ourselves to be courteous and polite. In the fast-paced world, while it can be challenging to keep up with commitments, it is equally important yet easy to communicate instantly. Certain situations require speedy communications and a delay sometimes implies rudeness.

Having discussed the importance of courtesy and timely communications, courtesy also demands that such beautiful traits are instilled in individuals from childhood. It surely becomes much easier when something like common courtesy becomes a habit. Acknowledging someone for what they are or what they do positive is a nice habit that does wonders in creating lasting friendships.

Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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La pizza deliziosa

One of my all time favorite foods is a freshly baked pizza! The sight and smell of a beautiful pizza with melted cheese on it is just way too tempting. From my perspective a plethora of pizza chains have spoiled the fun. When I was a kid, we used to have a pizza maybe once a month. It was considered a delicious Italian specialty which my mother would bake when we needed a treat. The first time when I ever came to know about pizza was perhaps when we watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I remember being enticed into thinking what a delicious thing these turtles were eating. I think when things are made to look special they really look special. Our regular diet consisted of (and still does) flat-pan bread (roti) with stewed vegetables, meat, curries or pulao (rice). Once a month, a slightly different menu brought smiles on our faces. Adding to the international menu was our all time favorite Chinese rice, Pakistani style.

Getting back to my own pizza recipe, I can now claim to make a pizza as good as the ones we find in the famous pizza outlets- well, atleast thats what my husband tells me! 🙂 In reality, any dish should be made as simple and as natural as possible. Using readily available ingredients, pizza making is one of the best ways of utilizing food items that would otherwise end up in the bin. Kids usually don’t like vegetables so this is one way of making them eat vegetables.

Another ingredient that may make my pizza unique is the use of whole wheat flour. I really feel that it is way more healthier and better for kids digestion and overall health. So a whole wheat flour dough, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, vegetables or meat, black olives, mushrooms, pineapples, garnished with Italian herbs, does wonders! Of course, one can adjust the toppings to one’s own choice but most importantly it can be ready within 30 minutes provided the dough is ready and you have all your ingredients. So here’s to a dish which is simple, liked by millions, and easy to prepare.

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 1:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Quality husband

There are all sorts of them – loving, caring, not-so-caring, etc. They come in all shapes and sizes :). They may not all look like prince charming (especially after a few years of marriage) but what matters most is what lies in their hearts and how they treat their wives. Muslims consider Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the best example. Little is often known even amongst Muslims how he lived a wonderful life with his wives. The relationship between a husband and a wife is a complex one and like any relationship if not nurtured and given attention to, can easily become not so pleasant.

Regardless of who we are, there is a desire to lead a happy married life full of love, trust and compassion. While it is common to hear what an ideal wife should look like, here is something for all the hubbies out there. Here are a few points adapted from an article I read earlier. I would suggest all husbands to pay heed to these.

  1. Dress up for your wife, look clean and smell good. When was the last time you went shopping for designer pajamas? Just like the husband wants his wife to look nice for him, she also wants her husband to dress up for her too. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would always start with Miswak when returning home and always loved the sweetest fragrances.
  2. Use the best names for your wife. Call your wife by the most beloved names to her, and avoid using names that hurt her feelings.
  3. Don’t treat her like a fly. We never think about a fly in our daily lives until it ‘bugs’ us. Similarly, a wife will do well all day – which brings no attention from the husband – until she does something to ‘bug’ him. Don’t treat her like this; recognize all the good that she does and focus on that.
  4. If you see wrong from your wife, try being silent and do not comment! This is one of the ways the Prophet of mercy (pbuh) used when he would see something inappropriate from his wives (R.A). It’s a technique that few Muslim men have mastered.
  5. Smile at your wife whenever you see her and embrace her often. Smiling is Sadaqah (charity) and your wife is not exempt from the Muslim Ummah. Imagine life with her constantly seeing you smiling. Remember also those Ahadith (sayings) when the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would kiss his wife before leaving for Salah (prayer), even when he was fasting.
  6. Thank her for all that she does for you. Then thank her again! Take for example a dinner at your house. She makes the food, cleans the home, and a dozen other tasks to prepare. And sometimes the only acknowledgement she receives is that there needed to be more salt in the soup. Don’t let that be; thank her!
  7. Ask her to write down the last ten things you did for her that made her happy. Then go and do them again. It may be hard to recognize what gives your wife pleasure. You don’t have to play a guessing game, ask her and work on repeating those times in your life.
  8. Don’t belittle her desires. Comfort her. Sometimes the men may look down upon the requests of their wives.
  9. Be humorous and play games with your wife. Look at how the Prophet (pbuh)  would race with his wife Aisha (R.A). When was the last time we did something like that?
  10. Always remember the words of Allah’s Messenger : “The best of you are those who treat their families the best. And I am the best amongst you to my family.” Try to be the best!

In conclusion, never forget to make Dua (supplication) to make your marriage successful.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 3:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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Positivity

Today’s post is dedicated to all the words related to positivity and goodness. I view positivity at the core of a happy and content life. We all have problems and issues to reckon with. However, those who are able to make the most of the finite time are the ones who really succeed. The utilization of time must be made with a positive attitude. Small things such a smile can do wonders.

Wise choice of words can make a big difference in our lives and the lives of others. Most importantly, words also need to be translated into action. Following are the words that come to my mind at this point:

Happiness, Smile, Charity, Goodness, Health, Kindness, Forgiveness, Clarity, Fairness, Respect, Contentment, Humility, Confidence, Love, Admiration, Generous, Energetic, Courteous, Helpfulness, Beauty, Bliss, Friendly, Terrific, Trustworthy, Honest, Wonderful, Decent, Calm, Caring, Considerate, Ethical, Efficient.

I am very sure we need to not only use these words more often but also display these characteristics in our lives. Nothing can be better than spreading goodness all around us!

The magic of tea

The word tea reminds me of  rich aromas, chilly winter evenings of Islamabad and quality time spent with  family. Heating some water and adding tea leaves every morning and evening is a daily ritual. Such common is tea drinking, that it now involves a lot more than just tea. According to a statistic, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. With tea usually come biscuits, samosas and other snacks. The habit is so pervasive in Pakistan and amongst Pakistani diaspora in other parts of the world that an outsider cannot help noticing it. I was told by a friend about how delicious our tea was. I am sure that tea made in other parts of the world is equally worth enjoying.

Since there isn’t much tea grown in Pakistan, most of it is imported. Pakistanis are fond of the Kenyan blend of tea. Tea can be of so many different types, blends and aromas. I will try to mention the varieties I can remember and have experienced.

Chai – Almost a staple, chai (چاۓ) or tea with milk is widely consumed by millions around the world, especially in the sub-continent. Often cut tea leaves (which are already processed) are added directly into whole milk or are boiled with water first and then milk is added to it. Sometimes cardamom can also be added to give more flavor and aroma.

Qehwa قہوہ  – Often confused with chai, qehwa/kahwa is common especially in north and western parts of Pakistan. Its use is quite prevalent after heavy meals. After dinner, qehwa is commonly served and enjoyed as hot drink. Almost similar to it is the green tea which has various health benefits. Besides having antioxidants, tea may bolster the immune defenses.

Kashmiri chai (کشمیری چاۓ ) – One of the best teas I have ever had is undoubtedly the Kashmiri chai (or Gulabi chai). As is evident from its name it originates from Kashmir. It is a rich blend of  herbs and milk. Pink in color and a little salty, Kashmiri chai is the one I miss the most. Garnished with crushed almonds and pistachios, this tea is hard to resist. Due to its special nature, Kashmiri tea is also commonly served in Pakistani weddings. My Kashmiri friend (whose grandparents had migrated from Srinagar) told me that the best Kashmiri chai is made using a Samovar, a metal container used for heating the water for the tea. Googling may help you find nice recipes for preparing Kashmiri tea, but the real deal is good quality tea leaves and the time spent in its simple preparation.

Tea is more than a drink. In fact, its magic brings friends and families together. As the saying goes, lets meet over a cup of tea. Nothing like a hot cup of tea any day of the week!

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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Don’t grieve

Jalal-Uddin Rumi (1207-1273) — Turkish Sufi Mystic Poet & Iqbal’s spiritual teacher

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.

Friends are enemies sometimes, and enemies friends.

I was a tiny bug. Now a mountain. I was left behind. Now honored at the head. You healed my wounded hunger and anger, and made me a poet who sings about joy.

If your guidance is your ego, don’t rely on luck for help. you sleep during the day and the nights are short. By the time you wake up your life may be over.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absent-minded. Someone sober will worry about events going badly. Let the lover be.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.

Most people guard against going into the fire, and so end up in it.

My friend, the sufi is the friend of the present moment. To say tomorrow is not our way.

Nightingales are put in cages because their songs give pleasure. Whoever heard of keeping a crow?

No longer a stranger, you listen all day to these crazy love-words. Like a bee you fill hundreds of homes with honey, though yours is a long flight from here.

No mirror ever became iron again; No bread ever became wheat; No ripened grape ever became sour fruit. Mature yourself and be secure from a change for the worse.

Become the light.

Only from the heart Can you touch the sky.

Patience is the key to joy.

People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another.

Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening.

That which is false troubles the heart, but truth brings joyous tranquility.

The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.

The middle path is the way to wisdom.

The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart.

Thirst drove me down to the water where I drank the moon’s reflection.

To praise is to praise how one surrenders to the emptiness.

We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.

We rarely hear the inward music, but we’re all dancing to it nevertheless.

You think the shadow is the substance.


Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 4:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Children are…

Amazing, acknowledge them.

Believable, trust them.

Childlike, allow them.

Divine, honor them,

Energetic, nourish them.

Fallible, embrace them.

Gifts, treasure them.

Here now, be with them.

Innocent, delight with them.

Joyful, appreciate them.

Kindhearted, learn from them.

Lovable, cherish them.

Magical, fly with them.

Noble, esteem them.

Open minded, respect them.

Precious, value them.

Questioners, encourage them.

Resourceful, support them.

Spontaneous, enjoy them.

Talented, believe in them.

Unique, affirm them.

Vulnerable, protect them.

Whole, recognize them.

Xtraspecial, celebrate them.

Yearning, notice them.

Zany, laugh with them.


Written by Meiji Stewart

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 3:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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Delicious Fish Biryani

If you are thinking of eating something a little different and exotic for lunch or dinner, try making a mouth-watering dish called fish biryani.

Main Ingredients:

  • Basmati Rice (2 cups, soak in water for 1 hour)
  • Cod Fish (2 lbs)
  • Shan Masala (spices), Salt
  • Tomato (1) , Onions (1), Ginger & Garlic paste (1 teaspoon)
  • Yogurt (half cup)

Cut the fish into fillets. Marinate them with lemon juice and garlic paste. Shan spices have made life so easy, especially where all the main Pakistani/Indian spices are not easily available. It can save a lot of time and effort by using ready made spices which have the right quantity of all the necessary spices. Shan fish biryani masala is available at Amazon.com. You may also try finding it in a Pakistani/Indian grocery store. (Another wonderful recipe is Sindhi Biryani prepared in a similar way with chicken or mutton).

While the fish gets marinated, take one medium sized onion and slice into small pieces. Stir fry the onions in 4 table spoons of Canola oil.  When the onions turn light brown, add the ginger and garlic paste. Then add finely chopped tomato and Shan fish biryani masala mixed in yogurt. Stir for a few minutes and then add the fish pieces that have been marinated for 30 minutes. Cook on medium heat for a 2-3 minutes and then add 3/4 cup of water and let it steam for another 5 minutes or so until the fish is cooked and the water has evaporated.

Basmati rice has to be cooked in a careful way. Boil five cups of water in a separate pot. Also add cardamom, bay leaves and 1-1/2 tea spoon salt.  Once the water starts boiling, add the soaked basmati rice. Cook the rice until it is just about ready (not fully cooked). In a pot, put a layer of the boiled rice and then a layer of the cooked fish. Repeat the layering process and finally add saffron or food color. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro (coriander).  Cover the pot and leave on low heat for about 12 minutes. Delicious fish biryani is ready!

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 5:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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I know you, you know me?

Today I wanted to talk about a very thought-provoking and important issue. A friend of mine narrated an incident to me about her dining experience at a restaurant. When the waitress came to take the order she did not look at my friend and started speaking to my friend’s husband sitting at the other end of the table. For a moment my friend thought that the waitress would eventually look at her and ask her what she wanted from the menu. She realized that instead of asking her, the waitress was asking her husband. So she spoke up and said, “excuse me, what about my order?” To her surprise, the waitress replied in an excited tone, “O…So you can speak English….?” Hearing this, my friend’s husband smiled and said that not only does she speak English but she is also a medical doctor. The waitress’s somewhat cold attitude changed all of a sudden.

The reason for narrating this incident was to bring attention to what we may all sometimes do as human beings – stereotype. In this regard one of the most common observations is that people tend to judge others by their appearance. So if a woman is observing what she believes in, wearing an Islamic headscarf out of her own free will, she does not automatically become any less intelligent. Also knowing English is not a qualification. In fact it is a language that we use to communicate.

One way of getting rid of steoreotypes is by having more interactions with people whom we think as “different”. When we tend to assume things about other people, we actually close a door of communication and lose a wonderful opportunity of knowing somebody who belongs to a different cultural background. This could happen from any side. If we really think that we are all that different, then think again! We may be brought up in different set of circumstances, yet we all have same human emotions and same thought processes. Maybe everybody has a role to play in ensuring more harmony and understanding in the world. By letting go of our prejudices, we will be surprised how similar we are!

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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