Showing posts from May, 2012

More Dallas Days

May 31
Yesterday, I spent the entire day babysitting my eight-year-old niece. She’s the most timid, pixie-like creature and like all children, it doesn’t take too much to make her happy. And like all other children, when they’re there your life kind of revolves around them. The Internet wasn’t working because of the storm last night, so our options in this day and age were somewhat limited. Also fewer opportunities to distract children (how else could I watch TV shows other than Spongebob? Even though I feel that those yellow cartoons could potentially provide evidence for social learning at its worst).
Highlights: letting Maha beat the eggs for my cheese omelet, unlocking the intermediate series in Kinect Adventure games, a treasure hunt that involved the red wise creature holding the last clue that rhymed just enough to elude or impress the eight-year old, making mac ‘n’ cheese in the microwave, walking to the park TWICE, and that really creepy frog that we thought was dead because i…

A Day or Two (even Three) in Dallas

May 30
I have never considered myself a food person. I mean, I like to eat as much as any other average person, and when I’m really hungry then I like to torture myself with thoughts of soft, squidgy chocolate chip muffins or creamy hummus with a hint of lime and thyme. Good meals do make me happy. But it is not like true love. I don’t daydream for hours, or even days about a certain kind of pasta, I don’t spend hours browsing websites (Pinterest!) and salivating over pictures of food that is so pretty it is almost art, or work myself into throes of insanity thinking about gol guppay, till everything else disappears and the paper-thin, fresh, sunlight colored spherical bowls into chickpeas and tangy masala sauce. Nor is the result of food complete satiation, utter ecstasy and replete joy.
That was before I had spent five months in America. St. Louis has a lot of great food but not enough halal options and for a while now, I have been pondering over writing about my longing for chicken t…

Challenge accepted

May 29
Life is full of contradictions (oxymoron will forever be one of my favorite words) and there are so many definitions we cannot hope to understand unless we talk in terms of what their opposites are. That is what I always fall back on when I’m trying to explain new words to others. High, low, happy, sad, tall, short. Of course, most adjectives are relative. What is considered tall in China isn’t quite the same as American standards of tall; concepts of beauty, modesty, freedom – they all change as you walk along, shifting shapes, morphing into different colors and sizes, and sometimes crossing the boundaries so that what is respectful in one place is considered disrespect in another, what some perceive as affection is seen by others as crossing the line, being intrusive; the definitions of liberty cartwheel into oppression if you just spin the globe and land in a different area.
Anyways, I digress (because digressing is so much fun). I miss reading Nabakov. There are very few peo…

Two minutes of hate

May 25
My 12-year-old mentee is adorable. She is a ball of energy, full of superlatives and positive vocabulary. She would always reply with a flamboyant adjective when I asked her how she is – “groovy! Fabulous! Fantastic!”
In fact, it was because of this boundless enthusiasm that she would get into trouble, because she couldn’t sit still for long enough, too much to do, too much to see, the sun is so bright, she just wanted to go out and play. It’s like she has tiny invisible wings around her ankles, so she skips and hops around the hallways, drumming along lockers and walls, high-fiving, hugging, falling over her friends.
So that is when the sky is blue. But if something goes wrong, or she doesn’t get to do what she really wants to do – look out! The clouds hang low, the brows meet in a droopy arch over her lioness eyes, and she pouts like she is on the cover of a teenage magazine. So one of the things we talked about was what happens when she doesn’t get to do something she had her…

A Thank You Note

May 19
The curly brown hair poked out from under the bright green felt hat; the little car perched quietly on the street side, its two spherical yellow eyes glowing in the dim winter morning. The Dutch Leprechaun was here to pick up her only passenger, too polite – or too creepy – to let the passenger know she was here early.  So she just took out her magazine and read up on the many detriments of drinking diet soda.
“Ullo!” she said brightly as her passenger, a South Asian chick, opened the car door. Only Dutch Leprechauns can reach that squeaky, radiant high pitch so early in the morning, complete with a wide grin. “Morning,” the South Asian chick would reply in an averagely friendly tone.
The questions would start as soon as the car engine revved into life. The Dutch Leprechaun had to be in a perpetual state of inquiry. She would often hop from one to another, trying to draw complete pictures of lives that she did not know, and then ask more, to color in the sketches. Sometimes the So…

“I hate nature!”

May 12
“Tell me a joke,” the boy from Nepal is one of the most exquisite creatures in this world. He is so polite, it breaks my heart into a thousand wistful sighs, “I hope my son is so beautifully mannered as this boy!”. “I can’t think of any jokes!” “Aw come on, you have to know ONE.” And when I shake my head he tells me he’s just going to make up one. “I was out in the forest hunting, and I had a gun with only three bullets and suddenly four lions jumped out and I only have three bullets. But all four lions die. This is kind of a riddle-joke. How did that happen? I killed three of them with the bullets, and the fourth one just had a heart attack because his friends died.” He looks earnest and happy. I tell him it was a really creative and funny joke.
Middle schoolers can be challenging, they can be really mean (the kind of meanness that can really sting because it rings of truth), and they can be so whiny – “I hate nature!” one girl grumbled as soon as we stepped out of our giant bus …

Aisha in Wonderland

May 6
It feels like summer, the shorts are shorter than ever and arms and legs are turning darker in the sun, which beats down so early in the morning you mess up timings. Is it really 6 am and so bright? Were people always out and about so early with their sneakers and dogs and we can see them now because it’s light out or is it to match the new sun schedules? It feels like its noon even though it’s barely 9 am, and I try and squeeze into the three inches of shade under the bus stand. The evenings are nice though and patio furniture is out, the sun lightening colors and bleaching old cushions. Can you smell the barbecue? Man I miss the barbecue in Karachi. I think I even dreamt of a tikka! Yum.
My list of things to do has petered out, all assignments have been crossed out with gusto and I give my final presentation tomorrow. I came home today after a meeting and there was not much to do. It was a rare feeling. My day wasn’t planned to the half hour, with 20 minutes for dinner and an epi…