Blog

  • It’s Eid and you don’t have goggles?

    Eid ul Fitr is perhaps the only Muslim festival that is overtly celebratory. It spells fun and joy unreservedly. As children we must have perhaps known this intuitively. Fasting and prayer were not yet part of our life. We were free. Free of dogma, free from the burdens of identity and religion. Free from the obligation to please God. 
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  • When words have no meaning

    He sat on the edge of the bed beside maasi, a heart-broken old woman. Unshaven and unkempt, he was in pajama-kurta and a skull cap that Bohras wear. He was hugging his one leg which was raised, bent at the knee, and was leaning back a bit. He spoke in a voice that came as if from a deep well of sorrow, rasping and laced with pathos. You felt a certain attraction (or is it empathy?) for his posture, his voice, his simplicity.
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  • Mickey Mouse and Afghan veggie kabab

    This past weekend we went to an Afghan restaurant, and the choices on the menu was an affront - at least to a vegetarian. Between Veggie Mince Kabab and Veggie Chapli Kabab there was not much to choose from. For a split-second the carnivore in me reared its bloody head again, and like so many previous occasions, was quickly nipped into oblivion. Transitioning from a meat-eating culture is not easy. Temptations lie in wait every time you sit down to eat.
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  • On the wings of hope

    Why would one write poetry, I don’t know. Why would one write anything at all, I don’t know. This much I know that we humans are a creative bunch. We create things, invent things. We just can't help it. Without this innate, ancient urge to create I wonder where would we be today. But then, with the creative yin comes the destructive yang. Our amazing creative talent is balanced by our instinct for awful destruction. Between these two opposites, this duality, resides the secret of our visible universe.
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  • Ramadan, iftaar and nostalgia

    During the Cold War American presidents had a handy way to manipulate the masses. All they had to do was cry out “the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming” and the gullible Americans would be spooked out of their wits. Similarly, there is a way to spook the Muslims? No, it’s not “the Americans are coming”, although that is more terrifyingly true than one can imagine. I’m referring to something closer to home, something integral to their faith.
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  • A fool’s journey, from falsehood to falsehood

    April is the cruelest month, thus wrote T.S. Eliot. Probably he thought stirring of lilacs from the dead ground, coaxed out by spring rain, is cruel. In a way it is. Life, or renewal of life, with its promise of inevitable death does appear to be cruel – to lilacs and laymen alike. But what would you rather have, life and death? Or no death, and thus no life?
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  • The Academy of bad choices

    Normally one doesn't care for the Oscars, after all it's just a bunch of self-congratulatory rich, over-paid, self-important people who annually gather together to self-congratulate one another some more. Maybe that's a bit over the top. But seriously, apart from the bragging rights and commercial spin-off from an Oscar win who really gives a rat's tail about the Academy Awards. It's never been the gold standard of good cinema. And if anyone had any doubt about that, it should have been put to rest by this year's event.
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  • Looking for a suitable match – part 2

    When I started writing what has now become the first part I did not know that there would be a second part. It just happened, one silly sentence led to another and I had a full-blown spoof on my hands. I had to just release it like a trial balloon and see how it went. It seems it went quite well. Thank you for liking it. And please know that your comments are much appreciated. Doing a follow-up piece seemed only logical. So here it is. If you've not read the first part, please read that first otherwise this will not make much sense. Here goes...
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  • In love with the idea of love

    Valentine’s Day. Funny that they would dedicate only one day to love. If it were in my power I would devote every moment to it. Because what could be better than love. Even so, it is a good idea to have such “days” to celebrate what is generally taken for granted. It breaks the routine and sets the humdrum to a different beat. The cynic in me would dismiss it all as a marketing gimmick. The realist in me would tend to agree but at the same time would also allow for the spirit behind such holidays.
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  • Looking for a suitable match – part 1

    It's instructive how a few phrases can reveal a mindset of a people. Have you read a matrimonial ad lately? A generic ad will go on to describe qualifications, profession, height, weight etc. And if the ad is for a girl then "simple", "respect for elders" and "fair complexion" are mandatory requirements. And if it is for a boy, he of course must be well-settled, family-oriented and loving. Invariably every ad will have a punchline: he/she must be well balanced between religion (deen) and worldly affairs (duniya).
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  • Two heroes: A rebel and a recluse

    Two great souls departed this world this week. One, Howard Zinn, had a deep and lasting influence on me, and the other, J.D. Salinger, missed me by a decade or two - if only I had discovered him in my youth when I was too much of a nice boy for my own good. These two men shared the greater part of the last century but it is interesting how different, even contrasting, their narratives are.
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  • Shock and awe: The war we could not stop

    It was February 15, 2003. In Toronto it was freezing cold. But the world was running a high fever of protest against the impending U.S. attack on Iraq. These were heady times, hundreds of thousands of people around the world poured out into the streets with one voice, one intention: to stop the war. It was as if the whole humanity had become one creature, speaking with one conscience. How could one not to feel the pulse of the zeitgeist, not to be part of this collective heartbeat?
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  • ‘Free’ and ‘all you can eat’: people love that

    Stumbled across this brilliant PBS Frontline documentary: The Card Game. Please make time to watch it. It reveals how the banks and credit card companies rob their customers blind. But more than just the expose of the banking industry, it also unwittingly reveals the entrails of the American system and how it has been designed to profit the rich and screw the poor.
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  • If the media says it’s a disaster, it must be so

    Whenever there is a natural disaster there is an outpouring of sympathy and compassion. Which is only natural. When the catastrophes cuts a wide swath and is as dramatic as the recent earthquake in Haiti, much of our compassion is driven by the media. Not that our milk of human kindness does not flow on its own, but the media sort of sets the agenda as it does in so many other aspects of our lives.
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  • There is a time for everything

    Have been thinking of starting a blog for a long time but kept putting it off, wondering what am I going to write about. It sucks to be living in the 21st century. So many millennia of original thought have preceded us already and it seems there is nothing worthwhile left to be said - at least something that's entirely unique and new. Of course, I'm assuming that if I were born in an earlier era I would have had something original to say, and that's so presumptuous! But you never know. Who can predict the past?
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