Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's Raining

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.
- Stephen Vincent Benét
Several facts went through me all through the evening I thought I could write before I decided I can let them go for the moment. I took time for myself today and did nothing. I lay for several hours thinking nothing half the time and trying to think about facts in ways I would have wished them to be for the other half; our thinking doesn't change them - they remain. I went on my house's terrace after it was fully dark in the evening. I watched lights that weren't there 16 months back, I stared at the buildings which seem to have recently appeared and recollected the building phases of my house. I could recollect from start to end. Recollecting this can never really make any difference.

Tomorrow I will be having many of my relatives and a few friends with me in the evening. I had imagined a day like this long back but never could think of how it would feel. This will probably be the biggest gathering in my house in last 19 years. We never had so many people visit us before. We wanted to have this done before we rented out our ground floor again. I had planned for a lunch with a group of close friends but some south Indian terrorists seem to be interested in playing spoil sport. Either ways I will keep myself busy this weekend inshAllah. I have some cousins I need to give time.

I tried for a while to think how I can change this. I felt myself like a fool, tried to think again but stopped. I am more relying myself on things I have already learnt rather than trying to learn anything new to move myself ahead. Things seem to have lost willingness to proceed. More of it is getting random day after day. Occasions are losing connections and ends hang illogically. The coming year is going to be very important. I will inshAllah finish my masters and look for a permanent job. My mother wants me to come back to India once I am done with my studies and find a job here instead of in America. I think otherwise. I believe otherwise. It just ain't happening.

I am pretty sure by now that I am not going to get what I am looking in the direction I am going and with the pace I am walking. It has to be something else. InshAllah this path too will give me a good life alhamdulillah. But that's incomplete. Things don't change overnight; miracles don't change lives of everybody; not everyone of us is a genius. Alongside the things I learnt, there was a lot I unlearned too. Perhaps it shouldn't have been that way. Perhaps that's how it should be. I don't even understand what I should ask Allah for - I get too shy, unsure and some times hesitant. At the back of my mind I keep getting the feeling that it was going to happen this way. It's something I have always been afraid of.

I was asked if I would have cauliflower for dinner today and I told my mother I won't. She heard it, asked me again and I agreed. I am being called now to have it. It's not that I don't like it. It's one of those very few vegetables I don't easily prefer. I have been afraid of few more things and like these fears which have turned into reality I pray to Allah things turn out to be better than how I have imagined. I am trying to make myself more flexible with my thoughts and beliefs. This puts me in contrast with people who have stayed with me for long but have changed in some other ways incoherent to my inclinations. I am losing people I can talk to. I am losing the will to talk.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Losing People

Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's.
-Billy Wilder
Grossly around 1 pm my phone rang thrice and I didn't receive any of those calls. One of the caller reached my brother's phone and I ended talking to him. It was a friend who wanted me to come over to Chowmahalla Palace. A friend had come over from some other city and he wanted to meet me there. I didn't commit to meet. Few minutes later I sent a text saying I was going to stay with my parents for the rest of the day. If somebody wants to meet me, he need not ask somebody else to ask me to come over to some place I don't even have a clue of. I slept after 5:30 am and it's always irritating to have somebody question my sleeping patterns.

I sleep when I feel sleepy. I wake up when it is necessary. I am not a slave of what others would term it. I could easily ignore everybody who talks irritating stuff but the problem is with those few who are supposed to be, and expected to be, soothing to my heart. In last few months there have been occasions when I have gone for more than 40 hours with no sleep at all when needed and have slept for 10 hours continuously when I could. I am glad there are many people who understand me. Many of them usually get me wrong.

I never thought it would take me so many days to write for this blog again. I wanted to write something at length but I guess just at the start of second paragraph I realized I was not going to last much longer. I am glad I could make it till third. I can be infinitely patient now. I can even wait for years to let somebody know the mistakes he or she has committed. I can wait to see how people have changed their perspectives and yet never let them know till they might still be able to understand what has happened. I am in India right now for 16 more days.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Among The People Of Menthol

"Hello Rabbit, is that you?"
"Let's pretend it isn't", said Rabbit, "and see what happens."
- Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne
Some weeks back when a customer wanted to make some money selling the beer he had, he asked my co-worker "do you drink beer?", he heard the answer "I drink only blood. Fresh human blood. You got some?". I have quickly realized how my body reacts when something annoys me to an extreme in a short period. I feel a rush of blood on my face beneath my skin. Alhamdulillah I always know what not to do when I feel blood on my face. Though I calm myself down quickly smiling more at those who face me, I know it's all amounting to stress.

One of our professors said there is a federal directive that some information on flu is read to all the students in the classes. A thing which many ignore, which he thought should be said prior to anything else, is the point that more people are dying with common flu than with the swine flu which seems to be more threatening. That's a different thing. What was important for the class is that we are not supposed to be in the university even if we are planning to sneeze after an hour. The professor said he would sit with us again to explain what we have missed if that happens. He will give us his time only after we get back to normal. He said he doesn't want to die.

Some medical agency is afraid that the virus causing common flu would mutate and grow into a deadly organism that could possibly wipe out a quarter of the present human race. That sounded like fiction to me. But I understand that's just the worst case. Keeping worst case in front of us helps us make smaller the effect of what could be already less than the worst. The virus will not mutate inshAllah, my co-worker bought no beer that evening - he stopped drinking eight years back, I know my store is not competing with Walmart on prices - every customer who fights will have to leave - and I met a man who spent 37 years in prison - he lives in west Dallas. 90% of menthol cigarette smokers comprise women and African-Americans.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Story Continues In Texas

I hope you have lost your good looks, for while they last any fool can adore you, and the adoration of fools is bad for the soul. No, give me a ruined complexion and a lost figure and sixteen chins on a farmyard of Crow's feet and an obvious wig. Then you shall see me coming out strong.
- George Bernard Shaw, to Mrs. Patrick Campbell
I had been thinking of writing since evening without even a faint clue of what. I got back to my apartment at 1 am. I knew I had one curry in the refrigerator even if there was nothing else. I thought I could have it with rice. I realized I will have to cook some to enjoy the curry the way I wanted to. Instead I heated three tortillas and had them. It was satisfying but something seems missing. I had cup full of soda with five cubes of ice. I think I will have a banana after I am done with this. I badly need some continuous undisturbed sleep. It could be such a luxury.

The next holiday I will have will be in the last week of November when my classes end as scheduled. I haven't seen the schedules yet but I guess they will end in just around Thanksgiving. In December inshAllah I will go to India. I am looking ahead for that trip but I am worried about a few things. I want to be pretty clear with why I am going there and what I shouldn't be doing when I am there. It's 3:25 am right now and yesterday at the same time I was in the university studying. It gets so good with very few people around. Fall weather is a thing to enjoy. I find no time for that.

Some days back when I sent a message to my brother on Facebook asking him to shave his beard, our cousins interrupted and came in his favor. I asked them in a polite way not to interfere as I talk to my brother. My brother replied coming against me. I realized I was interfering in his life. It's such a great idea to have an evening for myself spending it under an open sky, watching the birds gather before they go to sleep, see the sun slide away and feel the air loose it's temperature. I will do it someday when I get to India. I wish there will be nothing to worry about then.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.
- Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
There's a sharp pain in my neck reaching up till my forehead travelling all through the center of the skull. That still seems to be alright. It hasn't reached my cheek-bones yet. I had a good dinner a while ago, of course sitting alone in the living with my laptop in front of me. It's always nice to be in continuous contact with at least one person and talk as if we have been talking continuously since nobody knows when. The day starts and the talk proceeds as if it had never ended. That's always a luxury. The ache seems to hurt my eyes now. I can have a pill but I guess I will sleep in sometime. I have class at 10:30 am.

Some days back I asked my father why wasn't sending me e-mails. He complained that it was I who stopped. I wrote to him the next day. He said he will reply. I reminded him thrice since then. It's been a week since I wrote. He hasn't replied. I am not going to ask him now. It has just become one of those thing I won't be talking again. It might seem naive of me talk to my father daily on phone and even expect him to write to me. They are two different media with different emotions. So much has been reduced to basics. So much has ceased to be exciting. My eyes are hurting me now. I need to sleep.

I need to wash the cup I had soda in a while ago. The ice in it hasn't melted yet. The paper towel I keep with me while having food is still there on the floor and needs to be trashed. I need to brush my teeth, turn the alarm on and go to sleep. All this seems so much and yet I keep typing. There is so much to be done after waking up. I can feel blood moving in my fists when I close them. It's something like waves turning on and off inside my fingers. My forehead's going to burst now. I wish I could stay up longer. Perhaps the best way to fulfill a desire is to shut it off. At least there won't be any artificial looking hope after that. My parents keep breaking the hope often that I keep building repeatedly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Burning Up My Days

Pooh looked at his two paws. He knew that one of them was the right, and he knew that when you had decided which one of them was the right, then the other one was the left, but he never could remember how to begin.
- Chapter Seven, The House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne
A little while ago I was having my dinner and looking frequently at the prayer mat that was lying on the floor beside a table in my bedroom. My mother had given it to me saying it was smaller in size and would not take much space in my luggage. A cousin gave me another prayer mat here which is of regular size. I guess I prayed on that one only once. The smaller one always finds me thinking about my mother. I spoke to her a few hours back alhamdulillah.

I am in the living room now and my eyes fall frequently on the white bowl left by my room mate on the table. He fried something to eat with the daal I prepared. I thought of having something with the daal and rice too but we are out of pickles. The lest time I went to a desi store I found pickles there had have asafoetida or sounf in them. The former makes my mouth taste bad and the latter makes the pickles sweet. I didn't get what I wanted.

Long back when I was in sixth grade I wanted to own a personal computer. I was always after my parents to get me one. Somehow it looked as the most exciting thing in the world. I remember my mother telling me I will have to wait for it and she would buy me the best one in the market when the time came. I was gifted one six years later. It was the best one available in the market those days. I had the best machine I or anybody I knew had ever seen. Very soon I realized this thing came to me when it was appropriate - at the right time.

I never really wanted to ride a two-wheeler. Bikes never excited me. I liked cars and always wonder 'how much longer?'. I remember once my mother asking me if we should buy a car or get another level constructed on our house. I wanted a car. Later I realized a car was a luxury but a house was an investment and informed my mother. By the time I was done with my eighth grade we had a new house and we moved into it just for a change. I was in love with the one we were living in but my parents said the new house was much better and tenants would spoil it if we rented it out. It was getting difficult for four of us to go out together because my brother and I were growing up fast. A year and a half later we bought a car. It came at the right time.

Back in August 2008 when my father's friend told me how careful I will have to be when driving in Dallas while changing lanes, I wondered if I was really going to buy a car there. A year later I had a car on which I had myself put around 8,000 miles. The time needed it. Even the day before I got my car, it looked artificial to me. I had always wondered how fast a six-cylinder car would move. I saw v6 written at the back of my car after I bought it. All that was important for me was my father's friend's call, just before he was taking off for India that month, to ask me to by that car. I needed it. It was the right time.

I have had a good number of similar experiences and I have thanked Allah relentlessly for making me more blessed than so much I know and yet I ask for some things that I know will find their right times a little after from the present. That looks more than a dream. I might as well run away from it. But I came to think of it again, there is something less than that what I am asking for right now. I thought I know the constraints. I know so less. I know of Allah for sure. Perhaps, I am living what I had feared for long. I don't like staying in my apartment these days. I have started not liking few more things. I have built new hatred.

That late night after shouting at my mother that I was going to leave the house immediately my father made me sit on the bed, hugged me and asked me not to leave. He wiped tears from my cheeks and also the wetness caused by them under my eyes. I have that feeling of having him so close to me still left. The day I was leaving my mother hugged me. I knew a single tear in my eye would make her weep. Her voice was very heavy. My voice was like a week yet confident kid. I realize I am going to have that kind of tone in my voice forever for such times. That's how my voice has been most of the times. I will call my father just before sleeping. If I call him now then I can't call him just before sleeping.

My neck is aching real bad. I don't remember when it was last I slept without having to worry about waking up to do something. I lost weight. I call myself sick when Google comes to my mind when I think about my mother. I found a few things that Google can't search for me. I found the limits of my body. I have experienced what happens when I drive after not having sleep for more than 35 hours. I know how awesome it is when even a person who thinks I am from Mexico smiles at me - it's the smile. There is nothing like a baby waking her hand at me just because I looked at her for a few seconds trying to ask nothing. Some times I just feel like telling some people "I will be good... please". And I try to forget.

I think many people think I am a fool. I wish they say that to me on my face. But I don't want them to. I love them. Everything was going great. Then something happened. I don't know what. Somewhere along the road I stopped for a while and started wondering what was going on. Then I forgot why I was there. There were directions, signs and maps to help me. I stared at them. Trying to see what I was forgetting. Or perhaps trying too see if I can find another reason to smile again. It's so easy to smile. I am going to remember these days. Alhamdulillah.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

As It Was

They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever.
- Oscar Wilde
My classes started on 24th. I am cool with all three professors. One of them is Indian and the other two are from the far east. I don't spend much time in the university these days; I leave after the class unless there is something to-the-point to be done. I prefer getting back to my apartment and completing my sleep. It has become an important product. It seems like it has been ages since I slept with no alarm to wake me up. It's a fast life now giving me no time to think if I am happy. One thing I know for sure despite several fears is I am satisfied alhamdulillah. This could have been bad. Logic doesn't always shows. There are repeated instances revealing supernatural control.

The joy of having somebody very close stills buffets me even when it would be a month since I visited my cousin in Austin. She took care of everything about me - served me food three times a day, the water she kept for me on the table always had crushed ice in it, she arranged my clothes I was leaving in the bedroom, she took care of the stuff I left in the washroom and I had to return to Dallas and start doing this for myself again. It would have still been wonderful for me just to have her around. She doing so much to make my time very luxurious is not I would ever expect from anybody. It's something else.

There is invariably nothing to blog at this time. I have nothing much to share or talk about or perhaps nothing viable to record. There is nothing to boost and no battle to fight. It's just a blog here that needed to be kept alive. It's just me here trying to focus on the presence of so much around me and how it matters. The circles are getting smaller. The people who matter and those who bother keep changing with a static few. It's just me there more than 14,000 kilometers from where I was born.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Year Two

There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect.
- Gilbert Keith Chesterton
I picked up a friend from the city of Irving who returned from India last Monday and he will now stay with me as my roommate. Perhaps his was one of the easiest address for me to find - it's on the same road DFW's largest mosque is located on - 40 minutes from my place. I wonder how great it is for followers living in that locality to have a mosque so nearby. I long to hear Azan. It's been a year now since I heard it in the open sky. I called up my uncle who lives in the city of Murphy today and reminded him he picked me up from airport exactly a year ago. While having briyani for dinner I recollected the one I had as my first meal in America at his house. He and my aunt had taken so much care and even their mere presence makes peace for me. Alhamdulillah.

45 minutes ago I returned from one of the two swimming pools we have here in the apartment complex. I didn't go there to swim but just to lie there and talk to my friend who came along. It's not humid tonight and not cold either. The sprinklers stayed on for a while when our conversations were on. They never miss a day; even if it's raining. And they seem to serve every inch of grass and plantations that exist here. 7825 at McCallum Blvd is one of the best places to live around the university. Frequently I appreciate the decision taken by my friend's brother who booked this apartment even before I had arrived in Dallas.

Recently the writer of a blog I used to read stopped writing and shut her blog. When I read her post that she was going to close it down the coming Wednesday, I was shocked. Her posts were always around Islam talking about family, relationships and world affairs. There were eight to ten posts every week and I read them all. Now when her new posts don't appear on my Google Reader account it feels sad. Alhamdulillah at least I have them all saved with me in the same account. I guess I miss her blog already. I never thought I would come to miss something like this. I had been reading her for more then two years. I commented only once just recently - to let her know I am going to miss it.

It was a different world when I was with my cousin last weekend and Monday morning. She reminded what a home is. I had forgotten that somebody else could serve me food, place cup of water on the table even before I needed it, pack clothes for me, take care of stuff in my bedroom and see to it that I have no other thing to do except enjoying. Friday afternoon with her family I left for Corpus Christi after I reached her place driving alone for almost four hours. After getting back to Austin I stayed there for a night and returned to Dallas next afternoon. With no doubt the places I visited were all mesmerizing but the time I spent with my cousin, her husband and their children makes me want to visit them again. It's their presence and not the places that made my trip beautiful.

I saw USS Lexington, several beaches on the islands, stayed in a condominium on a canal with boats docked in it connected to the sea, did fishing, stepped into a swimming pool for the first time, saw many snakes, watched crocodiles and alligators being fed, wore shorts for the first time, talked, had conversations and spoke endlessly. My drive to Austin and the return drive to Dallas required me to take two servings for Monster each time and also a caplet of Nodoz. Alhamdulillah I did it good. I had this continuous fear of falling asleep. I stopped once while going and twice while returning. It took me 16 gallons of gas for the total journey and alhamdulillah my car surprised me with over 25 miles per gallon. Two quarts of oil were expected. This was for the first time I drove so much. Alhamdulillah. I even completed 7,000 miles since I bought my car - it took me six months. August 11th marked six months of my car purchase and 13th a year of my presence here.

My 7 year old niece who lives in Austin has her favorite color as pink. She only wears pink clothes, pink sandals and pink shoes. Her bedroom is all pink with pink curtains, pink soft-toys, pink teddy bears, pink carpets, pink trash can, pink wardrobe, pink bed spreads and everything else pink expect the walls. My cousin fears her obsession towards pink might decrease so getting walls pink could require repainting soon. My niece has two younger brothers. The elder one's favorite color is blue. According to her boys are supposed to have blue as their favorite color. She decided that her youngest brother should have green as his favorite and so green was dictated to him. He never had the luxury to decide his favorite. It's just green for him. All this makes it easy for their parents to buy clothes or any other stuff for them.

Every time I go out here for shopping at any store I keep looking for things and stuff I am going to have once I get a place here I am going to call home. But of course my home is in Hyderabad, this place deserves that too. The cars I see, the furniture, the electronics, the curtains, the bed spreads - they are all so disturbingly provocative. It's a fact alhamdulillah I can buy many of these things already but I have nowhere to keep them or use them. I live in a rented apartment with a bunch of roommate friends with idea how it's going to be once I am done with my masters. Every week I create new dreams, update old ones and plan. There isn't much meaning in detailing what all I did when I was out last weekend for a holiday - the pictures I posted on Facebook say it all. The day I returned I had a detailed talk on phone with my cousin again - just a few hours after I left her house; some conversations never end.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Year Ending

My father and I never had "the talk", and we never finished the treehouse. I guess some things between fathers and sons are left unspoken, and unfinished.
- The Wonder Years
I finally got my hair trimmed on Monday. I woke up late in the afternoon and straight away went out without thinking what kind of hair-style I was going to have. All that's important to me is I please myself when I look in the mirror. I don't need different styles to make me feel good - I just want simple hair that grow well, don't fall and keep the original color. After the haircut I shaved my beard and looked into the mirror only to get surprised. There has never been a person like me and there will never be one. My parents love me, I love them, I have wonderful people around me and I find nobody else more blessed by Allah than me. That leaves nobody for me to envy. I never have any complaints alhamdulillah.

I had been waiting to get to writing. I was too tired when I returned home yesterday and a trip to Walmart had already become a necessity - I forgot rice when I went there on Monday. The same day I went to Main Event to give bowling an hour. I wanted to play more but my fingers started aching. I wished I could find somebody good at it who could teach me the right way to bring down the pins. I tend to rely more on speed rather than angle. I might be having wrong postures too. Today I prepared Tandoori Chicken and forced myself to write an update. I even went to Home Depot to get some stain remover to clean our carpet and to a desi store to get naan to make chicken more enjoyable.

This was the fourth time I had my hair trimmed. Twice I worked with the trimmer myself, once I went to a Hispanic saloon we have here at walkable distance and the other day it was this place half a mile from here called Great Clips. I had already experienced a lady working on my head when I visited the Hispanic saloon but this time at Great Clips I apparently realized that it was a lady trimming my hair - she was American. The very idea was a kind of different - it wasn't strange, just different. She commented that I have lots of hair on my head. I don't know if that was a compliment, a taunt or just social talk. I could have guessed it perhaps if I had seen her face while she said it.

Tomorrow one of my roommates is leaving of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to continue with his studies there at Louisiana State University. When one of my friends left for Chicago a few months back I knew we were going to meet again and so, the pain was relatively less. But now, I am not sure if I am going to meet this friend again - Allah knows it for sure. I hope we both meet again, we both find success inshAllah and everybody is happy. I am surely going to miss him. Though I never write on my blog what I am going to do the next day or what place I am going to visit - I don't find it safe and writing that never gives me comfort - I would still like to mention that I will be the very person to drop him at Greyhound station tomorrow and say him peace. It wouldn't be any bad - it will just make me feel sad later.

Our living room and bed room is full of stuff spread out all over. He is packing his bags and getting things right. I can understand his excitement, his worries and his pain of leaving a city he has spent almost a year. I was going through something very similar to this a year back in Hyderabad and today alhamdulillah it's like I have been living here for ages. In just the last few weeks I gained enough sense of direction too that I learned many new routes, visited new places and gained more confidence while driving alone alhamdulillah. Last week with two friends I went up north to McKinney to watch Transformers 2 at Cinemark 12. That was far, the movie was just fine but the drive was sweet. I need to explore some Fort Worth and more of west DFW inshAllah.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Colored Transparent Glass

You know Sean, the Japanese have a saying, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered".
- Fast And Furious: Tokyo Drift
My hair have grown too long or perhaps longer than the longest I ever had. I thought of writing why precisely I am not putting the right effort to get them trimmed, but writing so much about how I look these days apparently sounded lame to me. Alhamdulillah I like them and would never think of having hair like anybody else's. I would inshAllah go to a barber in next few days though. I am not sure how long or how small I am going to get them now. This will be my fourth trimming since I left India.

I am having a crises with my clothes here. I love and prefer wearing formals and I have too few of them. Back in India alhamdulillah I always used to have too many options whenever I looked into my wardrobe but here, it only troubles me. I have some casuals and I don't like the ones I got from India - they are too short. I am going good with jeans but prefer formal shirts on them. When I go to India again, I am going to bring a full load of all those clothes I miss because I had to leave them back on advices of some friends who thought they were right with color choices. They always told me it was gay in America to wear many of those shirts - I see many people wearing them here and it's perfectly alright. Lesson: never take crap from those who haven't seen it.

When I give an advice I use words like "I did so and so when I faced it", "I would do this if I were in your place", "I think this should be right" and at the end I add "we all are different and things for each of us are different though and it's you who has to decide" and even "you should talk to your elders too". I guess in a way I confuse the person and ask him to talk to his elders. The important thing for me is the "I" I quote everywhere. My life revolves around me, my experiences and what I have learned. There are millions out there who have seen different 22 years; I have seen a different 22. There are in fact a few things always we need to seek guidance and advices for. These are the things we are risking. That's always the price we pay to let others decide or think for us. It might help; it might turn into crap. That's just one of the ways we take lessons. Alhamdulillah.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Paper Chasing

You're not like the others. I've seen a few; I know. When I talk, you look at me. When I said something about the moon, you looked at the moon, last night. The others would never do that. The others would walk off and leave me talking. Or threaten me. No one has time any more for anyone else. You're one of the few who put up with me. That's why I think it's so strange you're a fireman, it just doesn't seem right for you, somehow.
- Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
I was going through some website that was worried about Olive Ridley Sea Turtles going extinct on the eastern coast of India in a place called Dharma due to a port being built by Tata Group. There are numerous protests being carried out by Greenpeace activists who put some turtles, majority of Indians haven't seen, as more important than the country's growth. I have written on this previously but every time I think about it gives a new low on how people spend so much time on animals. Tata Group in one of those organizations that have taken India ahead globally. They should be supported with all development activity they take up and encouraged to do more. It generates employment. Turtles don't feed Indians.

Thursday and Sunday after returning from work I went to downtown Dallas - once to drop my friend at the Greyhound station and once to pick him up. He visited Corpus Cristi at the weekend. This was the first time I drove among those tall buildings and on one-way streets. It's a different place full of people partying even at 2 am in the morning. It wasn't so safe for me to drive there alone so I had another friend to give me company on both days. It was a new learning exercise. On my way back I crossed a traffic signal when it was still yellow and the camera flashed possibly to take a picture of my car. It doesn't amount to felony to cross lights when they are yellow and at 45 mph it was impossible for me to stop when lights changed from green just before I was about to cross. InshAllah I won't get any ticket for this. If that happens I will hire an attorney and get myself cleared. Alhamdulillah I have people to guide and help me. I never break any laws - I can't accept City playing around with my money.

Early Monday morning I woke to my room-mate's loud noises. I saw him shouting at something in his sleep. Thinking I should wake him up slowly, the way my father used to wake me up, I held his hand softly and whispered his name. Even with his screaming on, he opened his eyes and started screaming louder as if I appeared like a ghost in darkness. I still can't forget those wide open eyes filled with extreme terror and the loud scream that could have even scared a lion. For a moment I thought I should scream too and I guess I did start but soon realized I had to help him first rather than worry about my horror of having somebody who was out of control in front of me. I know if someday I see a ghost like creature coming out of a grave with blood dripping from its mouth I would shout the way my room-mate shouted. I will never forget that terror I saw in his eyes.

A couple of months back loud noises of kissing woke me up. This dear friend was kissing somebody in his sleep. I think nobody would ever kiss so loudly even in reality. He stopped doing it before I could get my camera and take a video. A few days later he repeated the same act of kissing but confined it to two kisses but added an "I love you" to it. Once he punched the wall hard in his sleep and got blood clots on his nails. Once he raised his hand and started shouting as if he was calling somebody. I had a third room-mate that day in the bedroom. We both were on either sides of this shouting guy. We woke up, saw him, saw each other in a sleepy surprise and showed pity. Monday, after shouting his name a couple of times, he woke up and from his sleep in which he already had his eyes open and said he was sorry. He got me terrified too.

I was well in contact with many friends until last week and suddenly everything seems to have gone dull. When I woke up to my screaming friend on Monday I called up both my parents. A friend from Hyderabad kept coming to my mind and I wanted to call her up too - I took the sleep route instead. It's 3:58 AM right now and I have an off today. It feels good even to know that. There isn't much I am going to do. Some times I wish holidays for me could come the way they come to everybody - at weekends. But I am happy and grateful to Allah that I have a job - I am not among the 12 million who went jobless because of the recession, Alhamdulillah. And for those who think the recession has come to an end: we just had one of the worst weeks of this decade here. InshAllah things will get better soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

And Saturday

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.
- Marshall B. Rosenberg
Three times today I had to listen and reply even though I was hardly interested. I went to the largest Mosque we have here in DFW for Jumah prayers because it's closer to my place of work and that I could reach for work early. I returned home at 6 pm and went straight to sleep. Ever since I woke up two hours later I have been doing three things in particular - complaining, running and driving around trying to find what could soothe me and thinking with my mouth kept open. At 5 pm I looked at the watch and thought I still have to wait for at least four hours before I could call back home. Even then I knew I was not going to call immediately after four hours, the arrival of the end of those four hours made me feel good thinking I could call home anytime I wanted. I spoke to my mother when it was 10:20 pm here.

I have been thinking of talking to my father for a few hours now but didn't call him yet. If I talk to him I will have to wait till tomorrow to talk to him again. I just got irritated today. Though I don't have a family here or anything like a group of friends, I still strongly believe I should be allowed to have preferences and have an option to take some time for myself. I just can't let anybody decide if I should be free or not. Today I had somebody forcing me to do something yet making it sound like a request. There seemed like there was no talking over but I had my way. I wasted more than three hours for nothing. Nobody can bring them back to me.

There was already something running trouble in my mind and when a thing like this comes up I tend to get a little cold toward everybody I meet. I avoid talking fearing I would end up appearing rude. At the back of my mind I keep recollecting that thing I heard a couple of months back: "I am 19 and I can take care of myself". Somehow I need to finish this paragraph. Recent few months have helped me learn that indifference is one of the major things that can hurt me. I tend to remember every single word of affection and appreciation said to me these days. Alhamdulillah.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Guesses At Truth

There are offences given and offences not given but taken.
- Izaak Walton
I thought I should write. It starts with a thought always. The way this idea came up three years back then had me writing everyday when everything became too dull to give any further reasons to write. Perhaps I developed new ways letting out or I lost some energy. I am yet get tired or stressed out dealing weired people for 10 hours for six days every week. Inshallah I will go fine till I get into working for what I am studying. I started writing this paragraph just because I felt like doing it and I didn't want to spend more time to see if that feeling would stay or leave. Thoughts need to be turned into actions the moment they appear appropriate in the first place.

I received a call from a friend from India a little before I was about to leave for work on Wednesday. When I received it there were three more friends on the conference and I spoke to them till I had to take the exit from I35. I guess it was all for 30 minutes including a short break from the conversation I took to get some gas on my way. I knew my tank had gone below one-fourth but I didn't realize until I saw the level again when I started. Three months back it would take around $25 to fill up the tank. It goes almost to $35 now. America needs to keep invading countries that drill lots of oil so that we don't end up paying more for gas. I only use Shell.

It was wonderful talking to friends. I wish it could last longer but the night in India was getting deeper and my calling time shorter. I still had lots of minutes but seeing something like this come to a place in sight of the end doesn't fell good. I never like seeing my gas tank fall below one-fourth and in the same way I don't like my minutes reach 300 for a month though I can go beyond that with no problem. My night time usage per month exceeds 1000 minutes. It's kind of strange that even in-coming calls are charged same as out-going. Phone usage in India seems cheapest when it's day-time here and in the nights nothing sounds cheaper than America.

As a fair bottom line I find America cheaper looking at how people get paid. It's not a big thing to get a night's stay at a five star hotel for around $75 but back in India it takes at least Rs.15,000 for the same piece. A day's work pays at least $64 on an average and having a stomach-full dinner costs less than $10. A person working in a similar way in India earns less than Rs. 100 and if he goes for a good buffet he won't afford it. It's exorbitant pricing there. I guess there is no point in comparing. The government in our country wants the gap between poor and rich grow. US government instead wants even the poor to enjoy their lives. Luxury shouldn't be reserved to any specific class of people.

Every time I talk in favor of this country I find at least one person telling me about my changed behavior or attitude. I find no necessity in commenting on this. I need to be loyal to everything that treats me well. I keep good regards for the place I come from. For me the only classification that matters is based on religion. It doesn't mean I would discriminate on basis of that. In fact I even tend to be more soft with people who do not accept Islam. That's a different point - it's just how I classify. Though I strongly believe that discrimination starts where we begin classifying, I give more importance to what Allah asks from me. Me, feeling a thing is not at all worthy enough to stop me from being what Allah wants me to be. I try to be good to everybody so that the other person returns the same favor - at least when he meets me second time. Alhamdulillah.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Same Old

The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved - loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
- Victor Hugo
Two Saturdays went by and even after thinking about so much I would write on the blog, I didn't update. I wasted a lot of time sleeping this week going beyond eight hours four times. On 13th I attended a function hosted by my uncle who lives in Murphy to celebrate his new-born son's Naam Rakhai and his youngest daughter's Bismillah. Most of my cousins and aunt arrived from Houston. Then it was my second cousin's marriage on 20th. I attended two grand parties - one in Hilton Anatole close to downtown Dallas and one in Embassy Suites in Carollton. Unexpectedly I had to take an off from my work today and I thought I should write.

Every time I sit for this after a gap, I wonder how my willingness to write a thing I have thought about since I updated last has faded away. There is so much always to think; so much a desire to share; but by the time it comes to putting it here everything seems pointless. The question of what difference it is going to make surfaces making me remind myself again that I write for myself and nobody else. Doing anything for myself doesn't seem so motivating though at the end there is always some kind of satisfaction but I am sure if I decide that I am going to write for somebody in particular, I would write everyday not even trying to think what motivation is.

I spoke to four friends yesterday on phone. I saw both my room mates asleep when I reached my apartment from the reception and I began to feel lonely. I called up my mother first to let her know I was back safely. My first two calls to two friends had no response. Then of course things started getting back and I spoke to three of them one after the other. It's different worlds when I talk to different people. And when there is nobody to talk it's just mine. Things don't feel so good these days. I will try to go out for some movie today with my room mate is he is free in the evening. I have to sit down with Java again. It's kind of weired these days. Alhamdulillah I am still happy.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Delayed Feed

Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile... initially scared me to death.
- Betty Bender
I don't know how I missed the alarm I had set in my phone to wake me up at 5 am. There was sunlight outside when I opened my eyes and hunger had just moved in. I took a while to think about the alarm but it's alright now - there's half more pizza to finish, I will talk to my roommate for sometime who woke up few minutes ago and get back to sleep. I have an off today and there are no plans for the day yet. It scares me not to have anything to do. I think I will call up my friend to see if he is in Plano right now. I can even go to my uncle's place in Murphy who had been asking me to visit him since long.

It feels like there is so much to and so less time. I am falling short of sleep daily and it hits my neck directly making it ache so frequently. Some times I wonder how it would be if there was nothing like sleeping - there would be one enjoyment less then! Most of the things I do always get pushed to the deadline even though I try to take care of them before time. It's good I never have the pressure of reaching my place of work at any precise time. I can take a 15 minute delay and even call up somebody who is already there and let him know if I am getting more late than that. There isn't much to wrote of course. My roommate left for his job just now and my other roommate is still awake busy with his laptop. Like me, he rarely sleeps.

Though I always wait for changes to take place even when they horrify me, I am not getting time these days to think about any changes. But I am sure I am going to look back at these days in wonder a few years from now. There are incredible things I am learning with some strange people I meet almost daily. Things also make me wonder if this is what I really came to America for and somehow the answer is positive because I am on the track to reach where I think I need to go. Things can always get some smoothening at the edges but it's not bad with little complains.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


"Independence"... is middle-class blasphemy.  We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.  
- G.B. Shaw, Pygmalion, 1912
I can't force myself to write. I opened the 'Create' page, waited for something to come to me, thought of who all might read it, had a banana, took a short walk in the living room and even stared outside the patio but nothing seems amusing enough to me to be write about. I can decide now that writing is not for me but it's too late already. That's not a reason for not writing. I have not been writing and burning down the daily urge to write because by the time I reach my apartment daily I am too tired even to eat my dinner. Today I had an off that put me into long sleep. I like spending lots of time just lying around but I had a couple of important things to finish which I had been advancing by a day for three consecutive days.

I had a sleep of almost 10 hours. I had been sleeping for less than five hours for almost a month now and when daily the back of my head and neck ache due to lack of sleep, today they were uncomfortable due to too much sleep. I had to take a short nap a while ago to set them right. I sent out a couple of e-mail and waiting for replies. The replies are not important though. It feels good to know that I am connected to a network that even connects so many other people who have important roles. Some are accessible to me while some still stay disconnected. It's the address and the permission, not the roads and means to travel on them that is important this time.

We brought home biryani and tandoori chicken for dinner when we went for grocery shopping to a desi store today. I don't like going to such stores. People always seem to be interested in what I am doing, how I am looking and what I am buying. The cashiers too are not friendly. This girl at the counter seemed a new recruit so she was polite but the other girl who works there always seems to have a question on her face: "why the heel are you here?". It's so different when I go to stores like Taget, Tomthumb or Walmart. The cashier greets, asks how I am doing and wishes me a good day when I leave. I do the same thing where I work no matter who the customer is. It's ironic to see cold behavior from South Asians especially when we boast of things like rich culture and morals. There's still lot to learn from Westerners.

This again reminds me of that half-wit I met at the Mumbai's International Airport who works for VFS Global. He asked me why I was going to the US even when he had my passport in his hands that had an F-1 visa stamped on it showing the university and the city I was going to - a visa that had been issued to me by the government of the United States of America. Perhaps this guy gets frustrated all day watching people go to this country when he can't but sit there. But that's not my problem. All enquiry that USA wanted to do had been done and they were fine with me coming to their country. This guy who was an Indian like me was questioning me and indirectly the government of America. I had to answer with respect - it was my first time.

When I reached the port of entry in Newark, the officer there greeted me, checked all the papers and said "welcome to America" with a big warm smile. He didn't belong to the country I was from, he didn't speak the language I spoke and his skin's color was a lot fairer than mine yet he was welcoming me to his country. I understand it's his job to be so good to me but so it was for that guy there in Mumbai. Mine was not an isolated case. I have heard similar experiences from more people too especially from my father's friend. He has an American passport and he was asked for his length of stay in India at New Delhi. He asked the officer to check it on the passport who in turn behaved rudely with him. My father's friend told the officer that at the most he would make him miss his flight but being an American citizen he could get his suspended from his job. Some police men had to interfere and the officer apologized.

Few days back an African American guy told me he was from New Orleans, I emphasised that I am from India and he had a smile on his face in appreciation. We are respected here like how Americans are respected. There is no second rate treatment. I have met people from from Far East, Middle East, Africa, Europe and South America and never for even a single moment did I feel that I was being seen with less respect. It's people of my own country in particular and people from South Asia who do that. No doubt I have met some wonderful people from my country, Pakistan and Bangladesh who have been too good to me, but there is more pity than good with others. We Indians are intelligent, educated and faster than many people here. We are the ones for whom finishing basic schooling is of little significance. I know myself - I never felt great that I am an engineer. Americans here look at me as if I have walked on the moon before reaching here.

When children reach an age of 19, they say "I am 19 and I can take care of myself". A driving license is what that differentiates between boys and men. I don't even remember when I crossed 19. It was so insignificant for me. I remember when I got my driving license in India - it felt good but not great. Here - I felt more good because I needed it badly and I had turned 22 just a month before that; there was no excitement. As a bottom line, I have learned to live with both of these. I appreciate a few qualities and like some other things. It's good to know how to react to each of these. I intend to be good and celebrate every day and appreciate every people. Our lives are too short to complain. But it's fun to make fun at times! It's also good to know who we can trust. 9,000 miles from home, I still feel I am enjoying. Alhamdulillah.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Three Forty One A M

Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day you're in diapers, the next day you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place, a town, a house like a lot of other houses, a yard like a lot of other yards, on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I still look back, with wonder.
- The Wonder Years
I lay myself on the floor wondering how different it is now and woke up suddenly to the sound of the main door opening. I had fell asleep and my room mate who was out to attend a party had returned. I had called him a while before that just after returning from work and he had informed me that I need not pick him up and he has found a ride. The first thing I look for every night as I enter the parking lot is my room mate's car - my friend who left us two days back. It wasn't there today because he is in Chicago now. I spoke to him finally and he said he has reached there safely alhamdulillah. It was 12:50 am when I reached home today.

I don't like entering a home which has nobody in it and no lights turned on. My other room mate was already asleep as expected. He has to get up early daily to go to office. As a thought that came to my mind some minutes back, I guess I have begun to bore others now. Some days back one of my co-workers said I was talking less and today I was in fact talking less. I can't help it. I just don't find things to talk about anymore so easily. Or perhaps it's just a passing thing. It's all good as long as I don't bore myself. I never get bored. I can sit at one place for hours waiting for or listening to anybody. Alhamdulillah.

I spent a big part of my return journey today thinking how good it would have been if I didn't have to take favors from others. I spent a part thinking about why I can't be more good. I remember my father asking me every few days, when I was going to become a good boy. That was of course until a few years back when I finally grew up enough not to be asked such a thing. But most of the times my father had asked me that I would ask him if I was not good already. He always said I was but that I needed to be much better. It was never a serious talk though - it hurts me now somehow. Failing others hurts more than failing oneself.

I went to a mall in the morning looking for a gift for a friend back in India. I spent a lot of time there looking for the right thing but it didn't help much. I had something in mind already but soon realized it was not possible for me to make that as a gift. I need to think more now and find something else. It's going to get even more late now. My father's friend is going to leave for India next week. I have to send it through him or wait for him to come back by the end of June when he is going to stay here for a couple of weeks and go back again. Anyways someday inshAllah I will have my gift delivered. There is still so much left to give and return to so many people. I am afraid.

Last Monday I went to downtown Dallas and later to a place called Main Even nearby to have some fun with bowling. It was a long day and between these two outings I even had to go to Irving. Perhaps that day I travelled about a 100 miles and yet I was in the same place. Whenever I went to the outskirts of Hyderabad I used to hear somebody say how wonderful it would be to have our home built in a place like this. Texas is a place like that. All cities are so spread out that except for downtown everything else appears to be a suburb. No other place in the world has freeways like Texas has. It boasts luxury, serenity and low cost of living. That also  makes Dallas stay on the second spot on the 'cities with highest crime' list. It was at the top until last month. It's San Antonio now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Still Waiting

That first week of high school, as I watched our class band together. I realized something about these strangers I'd just met. Strangers I hardly knew. Strangers who were just like me. We were all sharing the same feelings. The same fears, the same loneliness. We were just starting out, and there was only one direction to go. So we went - together.
- The Wonder Years
It was 12:25 am Sunday when I entered the freeway to return home and the traffic started slowing down. That's pretty unusual at that time of day. Soon I came to a dead halt and remained for more than 30 minutes. First few minutes I spent getting entertainment from the radio I had already turned on. Then I called up two of my friends in India only to come to know they were not available to receive my call. I am not sure if I did connect to their phones or not. My mother called me up and I told her I was far from my apartment and didn't know how much more time it was going to take for the traffic to clear. At 12:30 am that day I was between at least a few thousand cars most of them coming from downtown heading north.

I had no complains as I stared at the red tail lamp of the car in front of me. Instead of keeping a minimum of one-car-distance, two-feet-distance had become the standard. I thought of calling few more people and some calculations told me it's perhaps distance I need to appreciate. I stared at the red lamp thinking how different we all need to be, how it is not necessary that we explain everything to everybody, how we need to respect boundaries and how everything can't be stopped or started at our will. That night I reached my apartment 40 minutes late than usual with no complains in my heart praying for pleasantness everywhere. About 10 days back too I had spent an hour each in a similar but slow-moving traffic on the same freeways.

One of my roommate-friends is leaving for Chicago in a few hours from now. He met me while I was on a long journey hoping it ended sooner, brought loads of fun and happiness into the loneliness, made me know everything about him, came to know everything about me and is leaving this place leaving me on the same journey. He is definitely going to come back inshAllah but even he doesn't know when. I hope and pray he finds success in what he is trying to do. I would never take a risk of the size he is taking but I appreciate his courage. I have learnt a lot from him. From an elder respectable person he was to me some months back, he became one of my closest buddies here. Age doesn't matter more to me when making friends alhamdulillah.

In a world that had become so big for me suddenly, there have been wonderful people close enough to make that world all familiar. Clearly, people who have travelled more and have been to many places have lots to teach and volumes of maturity to share. I don't think it's real possible for any normal person to grow staying in a single place. Though I didn't go to many places, I have some people who have done a lot of that and are always there willing to make a difference to my life. When I go to some new place here in Dallas, I don't feel like an alien anymore. I feel how I used to feel back in Hyderabad to the extent the place is concerned. When it comes to people, it's a different story. The downward curve on my lips occurs not because I am far from them, but because of something else. I was just tired of always being the only one wanting to talk.

Lots of times I have been asked about my grades as the semester ended. It was good to see concerns but somehow I felt there were more important things to be spoken now that the semester was over. Of course one would complain that when I am here for studies, grades should matter more than anything else. It's simple: I am here to take life forward. I am going to stay here for many years even after my studies are done with. Planning for that is more important. But for sure, nobody who has seen things here would understand what I mean and what it is that I mean. For the record, I scored a C, a B+ and an A making the GPA for Spring semester 3.11 and bringing my overall to 3.22. A few of us roughed up with a professor to receive a C. It's alright; for me.

It shows in black and while when a person we are talking to is interested in our talk or not. It's shows in black and white when somebody shows more concern and interest or tries to give a cold shoulder. These might happen involuntarily but a few actions are supposed to be done to keep relationships no matter what the intention is. Faith is belief in action. I just can't keep calling somebody my friend doing nothing else; being nothing like a friend. At times it's good to have things moving fast but I know I am not liking it. What's the difference. No questions when answers are already there.

When the day breaks I won't have this friend with me around if the weather gets clear. He is just one more who is leaving. I remember that day I stood at the sidewalk of Eat Street in Hyderabad watching a friend leave. I could have stayed there for few more hours watching. Things are very different now; not at all like how I thought they would be standing there that day. I know I can look at the the calendar, put some efforts and gather the exact date and time of that occasion but it has no point. I feel like turning my face away from my computer. That's not the end of course. Alhamdulillah. There are going to be new people, new bondings and more people leaving.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Yes, Waiting

When you're thirteen, it's a long way to Albuquerque. Teri told me about getting her learner's permit, and taking her first drive with a stick-shift. She wrote of our night at the beach. She told me she missed me so much that she cried herself to sleep at night. And she promised to write to me, until we saw each other again. I keep that letter in an old shoebox. It was the only letter she ever wrote me.
- The Wonder Years
I am writing today just to push the previous post down to second on this page. I don't mind having such reasons as long as I am writing for myself even if it's termed as being illogical, aggressive or anything. I had even considered making the whole blog protected again but then I knew I would make it open very soon and I would also have to invite people just to keep them as my friends - it would get all messy then. At a time when most of what I do and think goes unrecorded, it's not a bit easy to write posts like these with a reason so bland. It can be called that too. It's necessary because i don't know when I am going to write next. I am worried about people at times.

My semester ended that I received my grade in just one course. Alhamdulillah I am happy I could do well in it given that I was among the only 3 students in the class who had no professional working experience to take up a course like Software Project Planning and Management. I was asked by many how I feel that my semester is not over and I am done with half my masters. I don't feel any different. It's just like there were some very important things going on and one of them just took a three month vacation. It's going to be back again to join the rest of the very important things. I can't help if I am supposed to feel any special good and party that my semester is over.

Until a while back I was talking to a friend and told her how three of our other friends seem to have changed. We think they are busy these days and that they have picked up new directions. I appreciate everybody and complain about nobody. I secretly wished we could be the same in spite of all those changes we have opted for. It mostly depends on what we want and how we want things to be. So frequently I think of not going back to some people but it hurts to think they have been so important to me and I guess even continue to be even now. I am not sure if it is I who takes things wrong or if it is they who disappoint me. Either ways, I hope no matter how much they change they remember their friends.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Love is never simple. Not for fathers and sons. We spend our lives full of hope and expectations. And most of the time we are bound to fail. But that afternoon as I watched my father sheltering his son against a future that was so unsure, all I knew was they didn’t want to let each other down anymore.
- The Wonder Years
I just had perhaps what was the most difficult conversation I ever had with my father or with anybody else. He called me up when I least expected and he was clear with his sole intention of making me speak up. I guess if I had to tell him the same thing just four months back it wouldn't have been so difficult for me. I knew already what he would think of as a reason for my changed behavior lately; I just had to tell him it was not that. I told him I would write him an e-mail after a few days thinking I could take some time, think peacefully and put things in the right words. But he wanted to hear it there itself. There were many seconds spent between him and me on the phone with no words said at all that looked like endless moments. I had to tell him. My heart's still beating fast with a fear of what could happen next.

A few months back things were different. I could say it to my parents so many times all by myself even without being asked so seriously. Things all changed. That's what I have always liked. Even the fear I have now welcomes one. But it's all so uncertain; it's like not waiting for things to come to me but running to them trying to grab them ahead of time still keeping in mind the uncertainty of it's correctness. I know it's correct and in perfect accordance to Islam inherently to what Allah wants from us. It's the time I live in that doesn't easily support this hurry. It's a wait I cannot wait but get frustrated.

I had to write today on my blog so that when I write or talk to my father again I don't end up reacting but give a responsible response to what he expects from me now. I am sure not even one out of 10 people get to have a father like I have. The way I told him this thing after going through so much perceived complications I had, I know it takes only a man like my him to stand up for me. The biggest gifts he gave me are himself and his trust. It's going to be another large volume if I write about my mother. Life refuses to be clean. We are not designed to take clean lives. Allah has balanced out everything perfectly. My father told me there is no problem that cannot have a solution. I agreed but said the problem is with something else - the stretch between today and the solution.

Some weeks ago a friend mocked at me making fun about me waiting. I just couldn't take it. Every time I think I am over it, it knocks me off. Perhaps if it was somebody else telling me that, it wouldn't have hit me so hard. Or maybe she just mistimed it. It's perhaps my bad that it had to bother me so much. I can't complain against anybody. I am just drawn that way. It's my compass; not the ship; not the wind's direction. Freedom is a sophisticated weapon which can work in anyways. I have relationships to fulfil, friends to keep and favors to return. I simply can't try to mould everything into how I want to see it as. I don't try that much; I never put that urge in my behavior. I instead keep it within. I wish I didn't have to take favors from people I am taking now. May Allah bless them with all happiness.

The highest paying jobs in the world are the ones that involve taking very big and very important decisions. Making the right decision is more important than even executing major plans. A simple 'yes', an intelligent smile, an indifferent face or an even a more simple 'no' can make irreversible changes. I get into this at a time when I am finally beginning to settle down with things here after spending more than eight months. I know a friend who asks me frequently "why so early?". I have a friend who says "you will end up hurting yourself". I might never have answers to give them unless I am finally through it inshAllah. Then inshAllah my answers will be in the form of love. The last word sounds so good. Alhamdulillah.

Friday, April 24, 2009

That Lame Sparrow

And for some reason, maybe the way he said it, I began to understand. He wasn't giving me an order. My dad, was asking me for help. That morning, as I stood with the man who was my father... The son of my grandfather, the man who would one day be the grandfather of my sons...I realized something. That not all gifts are simple. That some battles are fought out of love.
- Narrator, The Powers That Be [3.12], The Wonder Years
As I pulled the car into the drive way I saw two birds resembling ducks near the rear tire of a parked car on the right side. They started crossing the drive way and I had to come to a dead halt. I have never seen such birds here and I assume they were migrating to some place and stopped over for some food. Though they resembled ducks, I am half sure they were not. Their beaks were flat but short and they were smaller in size than the ducks I know. They could be ducks too but they were interesting due to their colorful feathers at the neck. They took short steady steps making me fall in love with their moves. I was waiting in the car for them to clear my way. Perhaps I would have written more about them if they had at least turned their heads towards me in appreciation of my patience. I waited for them to cross; I didn't even honk. They were rude and knew only of their way.

Frequently my memory goes back to my grandparents' house 15 years back. The scene of the open veranda, the servant maid sitting on the floor cutting vegetables and onions around 11 am daily and my grandmother on the other side of the veranda in the kitchen cooking - usually boiling the fresh milk at that time of the day. The guava tree outside the grill always had fruits on it and the curry-leaves tree was green all through the year. A cat was usually seen sitting on the boundary wall watching birds sit on the tree, come down to the floor of veranda, take pieces of vegetable waste and fly away. The huge pomegranate tree was on the other side not visible in this scene. But I feel it's cool presence well aware of the sweet fruit it always blessed me with; alhamdulillah.

There was a small nest made by some sparrows in the outer side of a ventilator at roof-level and one of those sparrows had a cut limb. Though when sparrows move on the ground they appear to be hopping, this sparrow's hop was different. It would fly down from it's nest, pick pieces of cut cilantro in it's beak and fly away. I remember seeing this happen several times during those days. I remember our servant maid leaving vegetable waste on purpose in the open so that these birds could pick them up. After those days, I don't remember seeing many sparrows in India. And now, when I am here, I seem them so frequently. I miss that lame sparrow. A few years back I wept thinking about that small bird. I guess it's already dead.

In the evening I was checking out at Walmart when I saw a three-years-or-so girl playing with a CD box waiting for her mother. A boy younger to her was sitting on the cart and there was a baby lying inside the cart. I watched the girl moving around jumping when she saw me. I smiled at her and she returned a smile but I turned away with several things in my mind. I recollected my brother telling me that my smile looked artificial most of the times, I realized I have not found any times in the last one week to shave my beard that I might be looking unpleasing and I was sure I would feel more sad watching those three kids play not giving me a chance to join them and talk to them. The girl was so beautiful. She was Hispanic.

Tuesday morning I returned from the university at 6:45 am. We were working on a project involving AES, MAC and Google APIs for a few days and we had to submit it before evening the same day. The day before I went to the university in the afternoon after returning from job, came back to apartment for some rest and food and went back again. On Tuesday afternoon I was there to make the final proceedings. Our submission was before time but we were late for another assignment we had. An hour later I had another submission for a core course. The class had already started and I was working in the lab. I called my teammate who was in the class; as expected, he didn't receive. He called me back after a few minutes. I asked him if he could come out for a minute. A couple of minutes later I was on my way back to my apartment thanking Allah how blessed I am to have wonderful people around me. I had handed over some papers to my teammate and asked him to submit them on my behalf. I couldn't attend the class because there was hardly any time left for it to get over.

The status message of a contact in Facebook reminded me of a poem I had written about more than two years back. His status message said he was very happy. That night I wrote the poem I was very happy too - with no reason; and I don't remember being happy like that again since then. It's not that happiness has stayed away from me - I have seen lots of happiness and satisfaction in other ways; but this was different. It was night time and seemed as if it was going to rain, the weather was pleasant with cool breeze entering the window and the only thing I knew was that I was very happy. I remember no words of the poem, I only remember what made me write it; I remember the happiness. It was so different again when I was going for work at 5:30 am in the morning. Every day seems something different here. Alhamdulillah. My job started at 6 am on Thursday.

One of my friends is going to leave for Jeddah next week inshAllah. He has had his share of waiting and now inshAllah he shall be on his own. It's eight months and ten days since I have left home and I seem to have forgotten so many things about how I used to live there. Allah has made us very flexible and adjusting that we can blend ourselves into anything we find worth it. I am going to see my first summer here and I hope I make the most out of it. I want to earn as much as possible and perfect Java. InshAllah by next month I will have paid off for my car and I know how I will be satisfied. It's another dream fulfilled alhamdulillah - having a car here is not a big deal but having it being a student like me is. Right now I can think of only one thing in this life that could give me more happiness than anything else. It's not getting a permanent job, going to India, getting married or even buying an island. It's something else irreplaceable.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Little April

One of the virtues of being very young is that you don't let the facts get in the way of your imagination. 
-Sam Levenson
There isn't any big reason to write today save the fact that I haven't written for a while. With hardy any time left for the semester to end there are some project submissions and tests to be taken care of which consume a lot of time. It's good to be spending time this way rather than doing stuff that works for nothing. I have to go to bed early now so that I can wake up at 7 am to go to work. I haven't slept much in the last few days - I guess it was four hours yesterday and about five hours a day before. I don't remember how long it was before that. It isn't of much importance except that my eyes appear tired with darkness around them.

I registered for courses for Fall 2009 the other day. InshAllah I am going to study Advanced Software Architecture and Design, Advanced Database Design and Telecom Network Management. I am not quite sure if I am going to go ahead with the last one in list - I have least idea about what it is. All I know from others is it gives good grades. I will go for something else if something new and interesting is offered. I wanted to study a course involving Data Mining but it has Computational Biology as a prerequisite which I am in no mood to consider. I won't be taking any course for the summer semester. I don't want to finish my studies any earlier than May 2010.

After writing the first two sentences I felt like deleting them and postponing the update after which I stopped thinking about what I am feeling. I will have some snack and go to bed in a few minutes inshAllah. It definitely doesn't feel good not spending much time on the computer, but I have to sacrifice that for a couple of days inshAllah. It's not supposed to be called as a sacrifice though - it's a path I have chosen over other things I could have opted for. Being patient can be frustrating. I used to think it's all just a matter of time. Being patient also at times leads to giving no importance to what patience can bring. Frustration can kill many a thing. I can't stop myself from thinking about everything I feel. I like a few of them - even if they are self-defeating.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Some Times In April

Today I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter's gun in the other. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat, do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.
 - Yasser Arafat, United Nations General Assembly, New York, November 13th, 1974
I got an e-mail from a friend from India who asked me to vote for the present king of Saudi Arabia for the Nobel Peace prize. The moment I saw that I decided I would vote against it. I opened the link that e-mail contained and found a button on that page that read "vote". I thought clicking on it would give options to vote in favor of the king or against the king and so, I clicked it. On the contrary, the web-page gave me a message that thanked me for voting for the king. It just made me say "what?". That king might be the ruler of that country Saudi Arabia but he can't dictate on what I think about him. He might be a king, one of the richest men in the world owning more than $21 billion or even a Muslim. I would never want him to get any prize.

If this king was a true Muslim he would have given up his power and had enforced khilafat in his country. If he was a true Muslim having so much money he would have helped millions of poor dying with hunger in Africa. If he was a true Muslim he would never live in castles made out from money his country men deserve to have. Wikipedia tells about the amount of money he has donated for various purposes. If he was a true Muslim not even his four wives, seven sons and 15 daughters would have come to know about it. He has been ranked No. 5 on Parade Magazine's 2009 World's Worst Dictators list. I would never be in favor of this kind of person getting a Peace Prize.

Saudi Arabia has already been sold to the United States of America. Every time a Saudi king or a prince makes an international statement it is moderated by America. Literacy rate in Saudi Arabia is too less given the amount of wealth its citizens possess. Every few years they build a new university, emulate America, create a western environment and the king takes credit for it. If the king was really interested in getting the people of his country educated, Saudi Arabia could easily afford a hundred new universities every year. The royal family doesn't want the people to get educated. Education is a threat to monarchy.

Recently I read an article that said how 200 Mosques in Mecca have the wrong Quibla direction. I am well aware how many people living in Saudi Arabia practice Islam because it's their culture and not purely because Allah has asked us for it. There are so many fake Shariat laws in effect in Saudi Arabia including the one that gives the government the power to enforce purda. And it's purda which is enforced, not the hijab which Allah wants us to practice. No matter how many years a citizen of other country lives in this kingdom, serves the rich sheiks there, he is never treated like how the locals are treated. I am well aware how South Asians are given second rate treatment even by the police that is supposed to keep law in order. A king of such a country deserves no prize.

I was already angry while returning from work today and this e-mail proved to be a perfect catalyst to it. I was so angry that I had to remind myself of the speed limit on the roads I was driving on. I just wanted to press the gas hard and pour out all the heat my blood had but the rules don't allow anybody do that. Alhamdulillah. All my way back home I was trying my best to find faults in myself and every time I could find even a small piece of it I could feel calmness returning to me. I even forgot to drink the can of soda I had kept by my side. Perhaps I was good by the time I returned to my laptop; I saw this e-mail and it was back to square one again. I never liked Saudi Arabia having a king. But perhaps it's in the best interests on those illiterate people that they are ruled by somebody than given the power to rule themselves. Allah decides; alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

With Mondays

Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society. 
- Mark Twain 
I changed my wallet today. I had been using a black one given to me by my aunt a couple of years back. She and I were cleaning my grandfather's room and found two new black leather wallets in one of his bags. She asked me to keep one of them so that it didn't go waste staying in the same bag. Today, I removed all my money and cards from it and put it in the new one, put the money I had in my suitcase in it and put it back into the suitcase. The new one I am using now was gifted to me by my friends in 2007 on my birthday. It's brown in color. I remember that day.

We went to watch Pink Panther 2 on Monday at night. I had a class till 9:45 pm but the professor was not going to come so I thought I could inshAllah finish the assignments by next class and skip this one. The movie got over at 11 pm, we went to Walmart after that and by the time we reached home, cooked food and had dinner, I am sure it was 2 am. This was an hour early than when I had my dinner after coming home on Sunday. I had slept a little before 7 am to stay in it for 10 hours. I sleep on Mondays alhamdulillah. It's as difficult to get out of bed as it is to get in. It's a fight.

Sunday, just a few hours after talking to my parents I felt like talking to my father again. For an hour I tried to imagine how he would respond. I was sure he would ask me if everything was alright but I just wanted to talk to him. It was uneasy to think how calling my father too needed a reason. Further, I didn't wish to give him any impression that there might be something I am feeling bad about that I wanted to talk to him - I just wanted to talk not even knowing what to talking; it's not what we talk; it's the talk - the time spent. And I called him. Perhaps he understands how one would feel and we spoke as if we hadn't had any conversation for a week. Alhamdulillah. I wish I never have to think twice before I feel like talking to anybody, never have to decide that I shouldn't call and always have the phone number of the person I wish to talk; inshAllah.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Piece Of Days

I never knew until that moment how bad it could hurt to lose something you never really had.
- The Wonder Years
I remember when April 5th was a Friday - it was two years back ; all my classmates were hosting a farewell party for the seniors in Taj Banjara and I had stayed home. Though I never myself had a straight explanation why I wished to stay away, later I thanked Allah I didn't go. There were a few reasons I hardly remember now but one of them was how everybody behaves in a disco. On Thursday I recollected the freshers party in Taj Krishna, I attended when I was in my first year of bachelors more than four years back, when I went to the UT Dallas International Students Dance Party. I didn't go there to dance but just to attend a party. There were several such events all through the week which I had stayed away from so, I thought I should be a student too. It's three years now since this blog came into existence.

On Friday there was a foam-party my roommate friend attended. He asked me to come along but I had plans to prepare chicken biryani with my other roommate friend and I stayed away. Later he told me how he enjoyed though he didn't step into the foam for not having the right kind of footwear. I secretly wished I had been there for a while at least just to see how a foam-party looks like. There is free food too on all such parties that happen here; they happen every other day. There is so much to enjoy - parties, food, indoor and outdoor games, girls, boys money, luxuries - alhamdulillah I never find it difficult being selective.

I see how soda drinks and juices have slowly replaced water in my diet. They taste tastier with food, have calories that help me and make me feel good! My favorite is Dr. Pepper which none of my roommates appreciate. I remember my cousin telling me in one of the iftaar times in Ramzaan that Dr. Pepper tastes weired at first, but if I adjust to it I will never find any drink better than it. He was right. It's no wonder why so many people here especially with non-American origin don't like it - it tastes really weired. I wonder how I ended up liking it - that's weired too. I even like Minute Maid's Fruit Punch.

I met the same cousin on Friday at Walmart in night. He was with his UTD friends who know me too. I always feel great whenever I meet him and even these other guys. They are the kind of people who make me want to say I should be like them. But immediately I realize there are many things I need to learn from them but I would never want to be like any other person I come across. I might fall in love with how these people are, give them the highest respect or even call them the best of people I know, but I love being the person I am alhamdulillah. This cousin always gave me peace and help. He taught me how to order at McDonalds and Subway, taught me the basics of driving here each of which I observe even now, taught me to how girls wearing jeans here is not as bad as I used to think and also taught me how one can enjoy life following Allah's path.

I can recollect the night he was dropping me back to my apartment after a party I was invited to. I asked him why girls wore jeans here even though they always sport scarfs, pray ardently and observe all practices made mandatory by Allah. He told me that I need to get used to it. A few days later I had asked my cousin sister. She gave me a similar answer too. It was only after my long stay in Houston that I understood how my perspective had been illogical. We people from India are a little conservative in our approach about clothing and food. Since January both of these in me have changed - being conservative is not what is needed, being how Allah wants us to be is. Allah asked us for hijaab; never for any particular kind of clothes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's All In The Books I Should Read

I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.  
- Author Unknown
It's strange how my week starts at 7 pm every Monday. In the class which ended a little more than six hours back the professor said we won't be doing any lab work but students will have to read some of the slides for the class so that he could talk on them and nobody sleeps. I wanted to read some; I tried to sit in a more relaxing way for sometime so that I would catch his attention prompting him to ask me to talk; for a while I tried to show that I was being very attentive in the class by moving closer to the table and putting my hands on them; neither worked. I love talking on such occasions.

After reading a friend's post on music on her blog a few days back I spent a good amount of time trying to find hadees and references from the holy Quran that prohibit music. I have not come across any verse from the holy Quran or a Sahih Hadees that music is prohibited. There are a couple of hadees that do infer a prohibition but interpretation can differ. If music indeed was such a big sin, then Allah Himself would have asked us to keep away from it by mentioning it in the holy Quran. I didn't discuss this matter with many people but read some on the Internet and had talks on it with two of my room-mate friends. I understand I am not learned enough to make big judgements but I will be glad if somebody comes up with a straight forward verse from the holy Quran or Sahih Hadees proclaiming music as sinful.

Cheating, lying and back-biting are bigger sins that must be contained and stayed away from. There are only two hadees that indirectly infer music as sinful and even if they were to be rather more direct, I am sure it's not as big a sin as cheating, lying or back-biting are. My two friends, though are from different countries than I am, were told by their parents that if they listened to music hell will treat their ears with hot wax or oil. I remember being said the same too. When I searched for arguments on music, I found this thing nowhere. I am personally against all forms of activities that take me away from Allah but I cannot accept something to be a sin only because it has some chance of doing so - if it was a sin, Allah would have mentioned it in the holy Quran. If there is anybody reading this and has direct references from the holy Quran and the hadees to guide me, I will be thankful to them. Alhamdulillah.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Four Fifty Five A M

Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.
- Mark Twain
It's necessary that I read a lot so that I can write frequently and well. It's been almost a year since I have read any fiction or non-fiction book though there is no problem in accessing any of these. When I get time I sit with my laptop and sleep. Otherwise I am in the university attending some classes, at work or enjoying with my room-mate friends. It's been so much time but I am still not able to meet people here I want to visit. Timings simply don't match, I don't get enough of reasons and I prefer being more conservative.

My friends here at the university complain I don't return their calls, don't meet regularly or hardly spend any time with them. I know they understand why it's all this way. They are, I am sure, happy that there is at least somebody they know who works. With things getting tough here, internships drying up and living expenses increasing, it's a blessing to be me. But I am greedy. I don't know what makes me this. I refuse to wait for things to come to me. Many people tell there is a time for everything. I refuse to accept that. Marking for timings and placing events in them has been done by man; Allah didn't ask us to do that. There are orders from Allah and these paradigms dictated my men are against what Allah has asked for. It's a pity how decisions that mean lifetime to people are made based on money and financial status. Allah decides who gets happiness and it's source. Money doesn't decide. Money is very important though.

I came here for money. When I listen to people who say all they need is a decent enough job, a simple average life with just enough money for necessities and simple luxuries, a small family in a cozy home and a peaceful life creates a dislike for them within me. There are many questions I can ask them but I know it makes no difference. Perhaps such people are important too - if everybody started asking for more than average then it would make it difficult for people like me. I understand the intense competition. I never forget what Allah wants from me. This reminds me of a quote from a movie: "I want what all men want, I just want it more". Alhamdulillah.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Sticks

"I shouldn't be surprised if it hailed a good deal tomorrow", Eeyore was saying. "Blizzards and what-not. Being fine today doesn't mean anything. It has no sig - what's that word? Well, it has none of that. It's just a small piece of weather."
- The House At Pooh Corner (1928), A. A. Milne
A lecture of around 20 minutes was remaining when I left the class. My laptop's battery was almost out, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the left over class assignments and I was sure I would be able to read through the slides to understand the left over part of the lecture. The professor was right outside the class talking on phone when I stepped out of the door. He looked at me, I thought I could at least let him know I was leaving, but he was on call and didn't respond to my eyes after the first glance and I left hoping he won't mind. I am sure he won't bother. I just have to finish all the assignments in time inshAllah.

Later I went to Walmart and bought verities of snacks. I always look for the calories marked on all stuff I buy - I go for ones that are rich in them. My room mates look for products with low numbers in them. Perhaps the mistake I did today was going for shopping with an empty stomach. I am pretty sure though I will be having a colorful diet for the coming few days inshAllah. For dinner today I cooked a curry using onions and potatoes and halfway though I added a ready-made packaged curry of okra to it to cook them together. It came out well alhamdulillah. I don't feel good keeping 'Three Sticks' as the title for this post but I need something to record a thought I have been nurturing these days and I guess it's better done this way.

It's not easy for me to recollect my days between September and December 2008. Things changed a lot since I visited Houston. Perhaps the two major factors were my driving licence and a new friend as a room mate who had preferences similar to mine. For me, good people are those who bring out the best out of me, help me keep myself satisfied and enjoy my time. I usually call my father a little before going to bed. Though we had a detailed talk for around 20 minutes when it was 12:15 pm here, he himself called me before I could make the call. It was short but like always making me relish it. Today my mother too called me before I called her - it was 11:12 pm. The afternoon talk with my parents made some difference to three of us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Just A Small Smackeral

Pooh always liked a little something at eleven o'clock in the morning, and he was very glad to see Rabbit getting out the plates and mugs; and when Rabbit said, "Honey or condensed milk with your bread?" he was so excited that he said, "Both," and then, so as not to seem greedy, he added, "But don't bother about the bread, please."
- A. A. Milne, Winnie The Pooh
It's a pleasant evening today. I opened the patio's door and hear birds chirping. I have little idea about the names of these small birds but their chirping is similar to sparrows or perhaps sweeter. I turned the air conditioner off to enjoy the warm breeze coming from outside. I know it's going to get cold as the night approaches so, it's best to enjoy the weather at this time of the day. Though I haven't seen how it was during the afternoon I am sure it was hot and humid. Even a temperature of 25 degrees Centigrade seems hot at times. Weather can't be trusted here. I think I hear two different kinds of birds.

My classes start again on Monday at 7 pm. I had a weak plan of going to Austin in this Spring break but all I got was two days for myself and I spent almost half of them sleeping. I wanted to spend some time with my cousin sister who lives in Austin because the last time I went there I couldn't even talk to her properly. Austin is three and a half hours drive from Dallas on I35 E South. I 35 E North ends in Denton where a close friend lives. It's not that far from here and I had been thinking of visiting him too. I tend to leave things as they are unless they challenge peace. I had been wanting to visit my father's friend's place too in Bedford but I am not sure how much longer it's going to take.

The other day somebody asked me why I was so dressed up when I was in formal clothes. I returned a smile and said nothing. I can't explain these American people here who know nothing about how it is in the rest of the world. Further more I was sure no matter how much I try I wouldn't be about to explain it to this African American lady that formal clothes are for all occasions and ask her why she believed that wearing them means to be called as being dressed up. I feel more comfortable and confident when I am in formals. I don't bother with how others dress up - it's their personal preference. They shouldn't bother with my preference unless they mean somebody to me. The time for Magrib today is 7:55 pm and Ishan is at 9:30 pm. I have a plan to take a friend to a desi store in Richardson and then for Ishan at the nearby Masjid inshAllah.