Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Home cooked meals and other blessings

I had forgotten what it means to live at home, to eat full blown meals without worrying about cooking the next one and to take lunch and dinner at the hours when these meals are supposed to be taken.
An old acquaintance kept reminding me that I have lost a lotta weight, which isn't unusual, considering what I have been through the last coupla months. I am beginning to realize that the events have damaged my personality, too. My sense of humor, my confidence, my irrational exuberance ;) But let bygones be bygones, Murlizee, and good riddance, too.
I read a quote somewhere that madness is making the same mistake over and over again. I don't want to look back right now, but I have to, even if it is just to reminisce, to find out the reasons why fell into the holes that I fell into. Why could I not handle it? Where did I start loosing it?
At this point I don't want to blame others or myself. Just move on, I tell myself, but its hard to think clearly when so much of the immediate past clouds my thoughts. At first I thought some plain old solitude would help me out, but it didn't, and now that I have good company, I realize this is what I craved and required.
A special thanks to the Omnipotent for getting me here, and a special prayer to guide me forward, and a special resolution to keep moving, learning, maturing... the show must go on.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Shaking booties to end prejudice

When I was a frustrated teen dragging myself through the misery of a segregated society in Saudi Arabia, I loved beauty pageants. It was the glamour, the iconic status, the swim-suits and the too-hopeful-to-be-real answers that I could tsk-tsk at. And off course there were the hormones and the male ego; estranged forces that have a significant contribution in what ails the world today.
So, when A tells me to mind my own business where the Miss Canada Pakistan Beauty pageant is concerned, I tell her the story of a young chauvinistic male who fell in love with a wonderful woman and realized that his notions were downright prejudiced. That he knew absolutely nothing about women and their world, and whatever he did know through feeble, half-hearted interactions and pop culture was a lie that he had digested gullib-ly, never realizing that the tsk-tsk should have been directed at his own fantasies and fictional ideas.
Thank you Love!
I have since given up on most of these publicity and marketing gimmicks-the magazines, the advertising, the top 10 lists, and the sexual innuendo streamed through pop culture.
'Beauty pageants are an entry into the modeling world.' 'They provide networking opportunities for females looking forward to a career in that industry.' And the particular one for this event was 'it shakes off the image of Pakistanis as fanatical and terrorists'. Interesting take, that last one.
That it feeds ambition, competition and provides exposure to young females is a good argument. But it does all this while instilling a belief in the participants and the players surrounding, that beauty is something to be used, judged and given points on. Countless teens and young adults - the demographic interest group (geek-speak for young and dumb consumers) are fed the images of these very models, reinforcing the belief that to be successful you need to work hard; on your waist-line, the swing of your hips, the size of breasts and how enticing a package you can create based on what the media thinks is a good figure.
Self-esteem issues are bound to follow.
The argument that the battle is half-beauty, half-brains is rather naive, and you don't have to know the IQ of the losers for proof, you only need to hear the judges questions. The 'world peace' answers in Miss Congeniality come to mind.
Most women think that if chauvinists were given complete control they would turn women either into geishas or sex symbols. That, too, is a rather naive belief. Men have adverserial tendencies so they love the concept of a bitch. Plainly said, it gives them someone to fight with. And also, they love the idea of the invisible woman who can only be seen when she is sought, otherwise remaining invisible and ignored. Then there is the need for a man-woman, a female who is convinced that they way men go through their lives is the right way. Emotions, communication at a more personal level, finding and establishing complex social interactions should be left out for male-bonding activities like sports and beer-bottle competitions.
All this to say, that the way a man spins a woman around is much more complex. Its a world by men and for men. And they have learnt the tricks to keep it that way, too.
But A, its still a free country, and if you want to use the words Pakistani Canadian, go ahead. Can't force one persons views on another, can we? That the organizers went ahead despite opposition from conservative religious groups shows they are willing to stick in and fight. By all means, go ahead. Just don't claim to be opening doors, providing opportunities and fixing fanatical images, when you are creating more problems then you are solving.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Same shit, another weekend

I am shit tired of my employer. I have been working with these guys for five weeks now, and I still haven't received a pay cheque!
Today I walked half an hour to meet the guy, and I heard the same story once more. I am not the kind of guy who looses his cool in difficult situations. Infact, I hardly get confrontational. But this was it. I just burst forth like a volcano waiting for the the right shift.
I hate these small time jobs. I need to get back into my field, and I need to do that ASAP. No contract work, no billing and waiting 3 weeks, no more excuses. If you want your work done, half now, half later. And if that half later doesn't happen, no deliveries.
God! Its frustrating, I have expenses too, and the end of month is right around the corner. How am I supposed to make rent by the 1st, if these assholes won't clear my dues?
Too frustrated for more!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Empty posts, watever

My blog looks even more boring than I feel, oh My...
These days I am going through some financial distress. Right now, I am supposed to be getting two cheques from two employers. Any day now, one says. I need time says the other. Meanwhile, the tab I keep at the local restaurant is high enough for the owner to pay me a visit (I can not elaborate on that much further).
But life goes on, and so do I. As long as I have a good meal at the end of the day, and TTC tickets to bring me to and from work, I should survive.
But greater questions remain. How long can I go on merely surviving, that one is from my Mom. I wish I felt some need to move on, but I do not. I hesitate before telling her about writing because I know, in her mind its a timepass, not a life. In my mind... it gains ground every day, diminishing the space reserved for more practical endeavors.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Friedman on Manji

Thomas Friedman, a pulitzer winning writer for the New York Times wrote a piece in praise of Irshad Manji and her plans for a 'centre of excellence'. What that exactly means was humbly left to the reader's imagination. Muslimwakeup came out with their own views in a blog entry.
Manji confuses me. I respect her zeal for the revival of debate within Islam. I respect her views on Israel, but there is a lot that is left out in her book. For instance, Islam is not the biggest reason, neither is it the only reason why the muslim world lags behind the developed countries. From Africa, through the Middle East and South Asia, a lot of the problems are political in nature. Poverty, dismal literacy rates, non-existence of free press, un-open economies and atrocities in the name of justice are huge problems, and many find their roots in the political climates of these countries, whether they are dictatorships, feeble democracies or kingships. Friedman is keen to point out that the western world has used the Middle East as its gas station; as long as the oil prices are low, the West is happy. But thats just the Middle East. Chomsky details the exploitation of Asia in his latest book, 'At war with Asia'.
And it isn't just the Western influence on the politics of countries - internal feuds for power, agrarian societies which lack industrial and technological capacities, poverty leading to exploitation of the masses for the gain of the few, generals and kings dictating the use of the few resources available - As I said, a lot has been left out of her book.
But at the same time, her demand for the revival of ijtihaad is something that I can not bring myself to disagree with. Its Islam's built-in feedback system that has been left rotting for two centuries now. The fatwaa, used to be a doctrine of law, is now merely a way of dissing opponents. Why do women have fewer rights in todays version of Islam? Not only is it unacceptable, its disgusting. Women can't drive in Saudi Arabia! To the asshole in Texas who keeps inviting these Holinesses one after the other to his ranch, can we forget the misunderestimation for a while and talk social change with the freaks incharge of these laws.
And as for muslims ourselves, if you read the muslimwakeup article you realize that cutting to the chase means shouting sell-out rather than debating a need. Isn't it the easy way out for us to label everyone we don't agree with as a sell-out? And it goes directly against the principles of free debate. Frankly, its all too maulvi-ish, to claim representation of one group (liberal muslims in this case) and pass a fatwaa that the other party's point of view is not worth arguing, because it is funded, projected or patronized by groups who are definitely against us.
Guilty by association, seems to be the verdict for Manji, as it has been for nearly anyone trying to bring muslims out of their misery for the last two decades. Attaturk, Jinnah, Syed Ahmed Khan - Yes, all sell-outs. Just so we can live happily in our coccoons, shielded from debate and dissent that just might prove us wrong. And the holy, the chosen can never admit to being wrong, can they?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Beeri pi, khush reh

In a strange moment of inspiration, I found myself taking notes on the subway. And later, sitting in the Coffee Time opposite Coxwell station, having finished this week's fiction list, I wrote 2000 words in one hour. Some of these days, I amaze myself. I wish I'd do that more often.
Meanwhile, the cold alert is on till noon tomorrow, which means Friday evening should be good enough for a trip to the beaches. I am a scorpio, so water bodies are as soothing as a summer breeze.
I didn't know it was possible but I have fallen in love with a painting in a shop on Danforth. I find myself making excuses to walk past the store, only to look at that one painting. It features a man and a woman making a run for it. The light source is on the left hand side of the reader, which is also the direction in which the couple is running. I have no idea why it strikes my fancy. I am afraid that the price will be unbelievably high, and I have no place to put it either. Imagine, people walking in into a half-apartment-half-masjid and being greeted by a frame on the wall with a young gora couple in the instant of flight!
[Fake Indian Accent] Oh no my friend! Allah's house, you know! You put picture on wall. Man and woman holding hand and running. All picture is Haraam. Meaning not allowed! Ok? Ok![/Fake Indian Accent]
PS: In newspapers devoted to spreading rumors, raising emotions and marketting bahaar melas, it felt strangely exciting to read a feminist peice by Naseem Syed. I have to find a place where I can get her poetry books. Hopefully, at the next mushaira, whenever that might be.
PPS: The title comes from a bengali man standing in the paan shop on Gerrard, while I was cursing an asshole who was spitting paan out the window of his moving car.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I wrote a post

I wrote a whole post, spending 15 mins of my very-available time, and the computer froze up.
Aur ab duaa...