Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Sunderings ... waspy fashionistas

There is a wasp in my apartment. It has flown about since last Wednesday. It even sat on my shoulder today for a few seconds before flying onto my laptop screen where it crawled leisurely, stopping only to critique the spelling mistakes underlined in red. I have a wasp for a pet. I am not sure what to feed it, and it seems too polite to help itself. The next step will be to name it.

Manchester United won 2-1 against Watford, keeping my beloved team at the top of the charts!

I was skimming through my monthly dose of fashion magazines littered with glittering girls and one of the adverts for a perfume claimed, "lovely on the inside”. Wow, these magazines have a sense of style and humour too!

The Fall colours, according to InStyle are as follows:
fair skin - "monochromatic palette of steely blues & city grays illuminated with dusty lavenders"
olive skin - "smoky, haunting, poetic forest of grays, plums and mosses"
dark skin - "punctuate fall's deep romantic hues with pieces in black"

This semester, starting Monday, one of the classes I teach has 75 students. Usually it is 25-35 students - so I am naively excited ;-) ;-)

The most unlikely person - one for whom I have no respect - reminded me of something I needed to remember - on magnetism and market value and perception.

Received an e-mail today about this dashing, lively young man of 37 who was pursuing his personal passion of marine biology; he perished in the waters off the coast of Melbourne Beach while diving to capture the greatly elusive sea turtle. Reading about him is simultaneously heart-breaking and uplifting.

Who said the following:
"Whenever there is the possibility of an invasion, people unite and forget about their political criticism. I am sure you cannot impose human rights through falling bombs."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ... on Tell Me Why?

when i was 10, i was gifted a book for my birthday called, "The Big Book of Tell Me Why". i read it day and night; it posed and answered quesitons like: "what does a sponge eat?" "how are seashells formed?", "what is pellagra?", "how is fshion decided?", "why is a four-leaf clover considered lucky?"

i would then pose these questions to my 4 year old brother, and since he did not know the answers, i took great care to explain them to him in my best professor voice.

though my small library is now replaced with computer science books and other seemingly grown up cultured material, I wish there was a big book to tell me why:

  • diet coke with lime tastes better than diet pepsi with lime? (drink water, you unhealthy girl)
  • all my favourite foods are fattening? (try living in Bangladesh or Rwanda)
  • i can't have exactly what i want all the time when i want it? (yeah whatever, cry us a river, Nazli)
  • a new planet was not named, Nazli, after me - what kind of name is 2003 UB313 anyway ? (ok, you actually do have a point there)
  • will my hair not grow faster? (now you are just being over-indulgent)
  • does my neighbour Ron, with an 8th grade education, understand what Harvard/Yale educated politicians cannot? (since when do you equate education with intelligence and empathy, Nazli?)
  • the phrase, "i couldn't care less" does not mean, "I care so much that I could not care any less"? (we really couldn't care less, Nazli)
  • it is acceptable to have "black/ asian" magazines and "black/ asian" fraternities and "black/asian" clubs when "white" equivalents would be mired as racism? (now you treading on dangerous ground, you brown girl you)
  • when the "royals" of Saudi Arabia die they are buried as "ordinary" people in an unmarked grave - why humility in death but extravagance in life? (oh Nazli, you are too ordinary to understand royal affairs)
  • do people value the words of dead people who lived thousands of years ago, over the basic needs of poor people who are alive today? (you ask too many questions, Nazli, go braid your hair or weave a basket)

Eye in the Sky - Tell Me Why

Movie Recommendations:
The Green Butchers: Danish movie
with subtitles about 2 butchers who have a "secret" formula for success - healthy sense of humour required ;-)

Music Recommendations:
From Fernando: "Lost Cause" by Beck and "There She Goes" by Bob Marley (great and simple songs)
From Beth: "Whole Other Bottle of Whiskey" by John Corbett

"Hide and Seek" by Imogen Heap (good for any mood)

“What Hurts the Most” and "Life is a Highway" by Rascal Flatts (country music at its best)

“Kabhi Khabie” by Lata Mangeshkar & Mukesh (timeless Indian love song)

“Eye in the Sky” by The Alan Parsons Project (I’ve finally discovered this 80’s sensation)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Picturesque Monday - under the same blue sky ...

On my way to my office, I looked up at the sky - and it took my breath away - what a beautiful world
Panoramic view of the blue blue sky from two angles
Ronaldo y Rooney
My team, Manchester United, won our first match of the season: 5-1 against Fulham. United Forever!

Oh and bit of "brown" news .

"Suspicious" pair were taken off a plane - no details of their "suspicious" behaviour were revealed (oh come on, don't mind our feelings, admit it - their browness made them suspicious)

Family turned away from London Eye for speaking Arabic (self-preservation or paranoia or pure profiling)

... but on the contrapositive note, the 11 people charged in the alleged transatlantic terror plot are indeed brown

... here is a BBC article with reader comments that is relevant

... and by the way, i went back to the same post office today and was faced with a postal worker sporting a mullet; she was distinctly rude to me and only me out of the 6 people in the line. i stopped smiling and became cold & curt, but then i thought, "how could i allow her to erase my smile and warm manners?" (the word is getting around - there is a brown girl in our all-white town)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ... what not to do if you are brown...

(or have an middle eastern name) ... don't ...

1. question the clerk - on Tuesday I went to post a flash drive to the UK but I was not allowed to, in case it had "sensitive" material. People in front of me were sending sealed boxes but I was stopped on my tracks. The postal clerk said, "how do we know you are not sending dangerous documents in this thing?" I told him him to check for the content of the disk (which was all in English) and also asked to see the documentation of items that can be shipped. He said to me, "don't you people know we are on terror alert? We have to protect our citizens."
Imagine the headline if I had lost my temper: "foiled: woman with degree in chemical engineering caught in major computer terrorism US-UK ring"

2. carry or buy more than one cell phone - oops I guess I have to cut down on efficieny between my Palm Treo for business and the Sony Ericsson camera phone for pleasure

3. photograph bridges, buildings, beaches, buses, basics ... best not to take photographs of anything because anything could be a terror target ...

4. travel ...or go on vacation ... in fact don't leave home if you are brown

5. have any documents in Arabic - they look "dangerous"

6. mention peaceful words like 'insh'allah' or 'salaam walaaikum' - they sound "dangerous"

7. air your opinions about the Arab-Israeli war, as humanitarian and unbiased as they may be

8. ask for a glass of water or any liquid on a plane - what? you are flying? no - remember - stay at home

9. lighten your hair in an attempt to blend in - you still look brown, dear - but do try a British accent, it distracts people from the browness

10. sun tan in the hopes of becoming darker - that opens up another barrage of problems

11. think your rich personal cultures of thousands of years matter - what culture? you are brown and thus a possible terrorist and that's that

12. stand around in groups talking in non-English - you may make others uncomfortable (because hindi/ bengali/ arabic/ urdu are all the same and "dangerous")

13. get degrees in chemical engineering or computer science (oh, why did I not pursue my childhood dream of becoming a superstar?)

14. wear an hermes scarf of a particular print and be mistaken for you know who

15. wear long coats - even in winter - freeze rather than be mistaken for a you know what

16. change your currently 'brown" surname of Ahamed/Ali/ Azim etc. to Brown (come on now, that's just silly ;-))

17. recite the Koran on the NYC subways - look, just because that guy in white recites the Bible and damns you to hell while you are trying to catch your morning nap on the train, does not mean you too will receive the same indifferent sleepy reaction from the passengers on reciting Sura Al-Fatiha

(18-20 contributed by Maliha)
18. Dare to have an opinion contrary to the official version of Truth from the FOX NEWS table

19. Express your opinion in a public place; like a rally: (the last time we went people yelled "if you don't like it here: GO HOME!"; we ARE at home idiots; and protesting/dissent is as American as you can get.)

20. Walk around in a Hijab/Scarf for a woman/ bearded for a man (worse still is being a couple) and daring to display your Muslim-ness in public.

these apply heavily to male browns - while female browns can sometimes counteract the impact of being brown by being pretty, smiling and appearing docile and simple

Movie Recommendation: "An Inconvenient Truth" - Al Gore presents scientific research articulately using effective graphics. I am inspired to do my part (even as inconveniently brown as I am)

Music Recommendation:
"My Universe": Minerve - the music takes me on - in my car, office, ipod, laptop, my universe
"Ae Mere Humsafar": Alka Yagnik & Udit Narayan - popular Indian anthem of some of the brown people from the movie "Qayamat se Qayamat Tak", takes my breath away (English Translation)

Best Regards,
Nazli (Brownyn for the day)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Picturesque Monday ... this unforgettable Summer

as the summer ends and the Fall semester starts, i resume my professional life with deadlines and "to do" lists ... yes, yes - i can hear your collective sighs of symapthy for me ;-)

but before i begin even item 1 (of 291) of my "to do" list, i must reflect on the first half of this year leading to unforgettable my summer. there were a some raw days of disbelief, but then there were days that made me soar in complete happiness (how human). it changed something irretrievably for me, this unforgettable summer ... and i am so grateful to Life.

this summer has rendered me feeling more alive, more fearless, more relentless, more true to myself ... in my relentless pursuit of being alive ...
Summer of '06: panoramic view of our summer river

Angels of Heaven & Earth: memorial for the men and women of Pennsylvania Rail, who gave their lives during WWII (angel holding a fallen hero)

Intersection of Culture: an Amish buggy trying to make a left turn at an intersection ... do you see it? ;-)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Weekend Wanderings ... the Amish ...

We went on an Amish village tour. It consisted of groups of foreigners, notably a loud German gal and her quieter boyfriend, Americans, Latin Americans, and of-course us - international citizens of the world ;-)

The Amish culture was born in Europe as a reulst of Jacob Amman breaking away from the Mennonites; he felt they did not adhere to their rules strictly enough. There is much to know about this static community within kinetic United States.

The tour guide took us around a typical Amish house: the front room that is used for prayer services which are held every other Sundays is furnished with a few rows of wooden benches . Then we went into the kitchen. The first thing that caught my eye was a mixer since I had heard the Amish do not use electricity ... mmmhh

According to the guide, most Amish do not use electricity because the don't want to be connected with the world. However they can buy convenience like ovens, washing machines and mixers - but instead of running it on electricity, they can use natural gas ... how many of you think electricity is not natural?

They make their own clothes using sewing machines - the German gal inquired: "did they bring their sewing machines from Europe, this machine is a Singer?" The American woman countered, "you can buy sewing machines in America!"

The women wear outfits that are held together with pins. Married men have beards because they don't wear rings - their word in front of God is enough. The girls have a lovely "hope chest" in which they collect household items for their future homes.

The Amish do not have anything in their homes for which there is no purpose ... so no wall paintings. However, the necessary items can be colourful and ornate, so e.g. a scissor holder is sewn with colourful patches ... I suppose fashion houses would probably classify scissor holders necessary items too

They don't have pictures taken as that is seen as a graven image, which is not permissible. The Amish hang their clothes to dry so the Italian lady asked, "what happens when it is raining?"... seriously

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fearless Friday ...

during the cold war, people who questioned the authority were considered "communists" and were blackballed and ostracised

the same on the other side - people were killed for their desire to live a life of free choices

what is different today in the "modern" age for people who question the authority?

the tip for the terror transatlantic flights came from a muslim - this seemed to be so surprising that it has become new itself ;-)

while I follow no religion except that of my own conscience, i question the value of futher alienating moderate muslims - better they be friends in peace than "bristling" with insult .... the art of war

true freedom comes with fearlessness from within
grace, fearlessness, compassion, intelligence, consideration, humanity, civil rights, respect for all life, understanding, heart ... freedom ...

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ... opinings ...

What in the world do socialites do?

Pose at parties in the name of charity, gossip about this and that, and hope that their pictures show up in magazines ...

What made my so happy?
Swam in this river. Oh yes! Made friends with 6 year old Edrie and his 4 year old little sister, Millie – such gorgeous kids! Edrie insisted on swimming with us in the current and nearly drowned but JB gallantly saved him! Made my day and my heart swelled in pride.

What websites caused me pause?

Lamont vs. Lieberman?
Lamont won the primaries as the democratic candidate for Senator of Connecticut; Lieberman will run as an Independent – splitting the Democratic vote and potentially handing CT to the Republicans

A minor thing that matters?

A realization that matters?
Some things just don't matter anymore, and some things matter forever

My thought for this week?
House of cards, Castles in the sky, Shattered to shards, Some fall some fly

Iran is exerting its presence – from Lebanon to Iraq. What is the message?
The author Vali Nasr has an idea…

Music Recommendation:

“Why Does my Heart Feel So Bad?”: Moby (courtesy of my friends, Caco and Before Sunrise)

“Sometimes My Heart”: DJ Rock - currently hot on my playlist

"Alive (Chai)": Ofra Haza (Israeli singer who believed in humanity)

"Movement VII": Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Ofra Haza (the 2 worlds as one)

"B-Boys Fly Girls": Lictenfels – for all the B-boys and the fly girls out there ;-)

Movie Recommendation:

“The Gods Must be Crazy”: the funniest, most heart-warming movie ever! incomparable, simple, beautiful – set in South Africa

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Wednesday Wanderings ... Poetry in Motion ...

Susquehanna River

... ok, for Wednesday Wanderings, I am going to spend exactly 5 minutes (I promise ;-)) and write a random poem dedicatd to my "fearless blog" friends:

Somewhere, anywhere, where I would be
If only you could see, what I can see
If only you could know what it feels to be me
Perhaps of this cruel intolerance we could be free

But who knows when, where, how or why
In this lifetime that belongs to you and to I
Why we don't see eye to eye
Because really, I could be you, and you I

(12:53 to 12:56)

.... this was inspired by Caco raising the topic of intolerance ....

Music Recommendation: "Anthem" by Moby from the Miami Vice soundtrack (2006) - nothing like the music from TV but very unique and appealing
Movie Recommendation: "Chocolat": Juliette Binoche & Johnny Depp - magical, beautiful, uplifing, light, lovely (2000)

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Hot! Hot! Hot!

It is so hot today in the East Coast of the United States!

And also PM Blair talks about modernizing within Islam: I wonder - how about the tandem modernizing of other institutionalized religions too?

People ask: "how do I know when I am in in love?"
I think: "when you don't even need to ask the question."