Showing posts from January, 2013

Puzzle Project VIII: The Peaceful Mullah

January 19
Haji Sahab appeared to be in his early 40s. He had the perfect Muslim man beard, trim and neat, long with grayish streaks, no moustache. His shalwar was an inch or so above his ankles. He was sitting at the Islamabad airport with a fairly young wife, I think she must have been in her late 20s. There were two young boys running around them, barely a year apart I would say. A third child was no more than 4 and he did not want to wear his shoes.
“We’ve been here for four hours,” the pretty young mother told me in a Punjabi accent. “We came from outside of Islamabad for our flight to Karachi. And the flight keeps getting delayed!” I nodded sympathetically – kind eyes, slight pout, slow shaking of the head that is common to most South Asians and confusing for Americans because it is an in-between nod and shake of the head so the latter population has trouble understanding what it indicates. She pointed at her youngest and explained he was tired of wearing his sneakers. By now the…


January 12
“Puppi chaheye?” my two-year-old nephew asks in his tiny voice. (He sounds just like Nibbles, Jerry’s tiny grey nephew from Tom and Jerry). I was saying bye to him and pretending to cry, which he usually can’t stand – his small face wrinkles into this sweet look of anxiety, he wrings his hands and emits little squeaks of concern mixed with comfort. He might offer a hug or he might smack your knee – not quite in control of his emotional expressions. I was lucky this time because he offered me a kiss.
I love tiny toddlers who look just like miniature real people in their real-people jeans, scarfs and sneakers. But they are so small I am always amazed and amused when they speak in almost full sentences and run around. Arhu is the only grandchild in the city so he is always in the limelight. And boy does he know it!
I will miss his parroting of every word he overhears (coffeechai chaheye? Awaz arahi hai? AWAZ ARAHI HAI? as he holds a cellphone to his ear; and everyone’s favorit…

Wait, I’m Not There Yet

December 15
New York is expensive. I just bought a 15 oz. bottled smoothie for $4.69! That’s how much Steak ‘n’ Shake in St Louis charges for a full meal – grilled cheese and fries, that is. Probably a gigantic soda too.
Airports can be lonely. Especially when one is bogged down with too many bags and every step – with backpack, big trolley, small trolley, camera bag and jacket because for one it is actually too warm inside – belongs to the geeky, awkward boy in a chick flick before he transitions into a geeky-but-now-in-an-endearing-way boy. There are too many families, siblings arguing (I just straightened my bangs in the airport bathroom and two Hispanic ladies followed suit, chattering amicably to one another. I bet they were sisters. There was that affectionately argumentative tone to their Spanish that is prone to ordinary sister-talk), couples holding hands, babies running amok with harried parents in tow – it makes one feel sad to be bogged down alone. Buying that smoothie, by…