Monday, October 27, 2008


The wise man will love; all others will desire.
- Afranius
I never thought I would ever get so keen on learning Java even when it is not a part of my study here. The other day we were working on a homework that is supposed to create a GUI to implement a few features of a system and I got to meet NetBeans and Eclipse. For a while I thought Visual Studio could have been so much fun if I had to work on that. I had scored 100% in it's lab exam back in my engineering and it had surprised me. My final semester was of course surprising too - I had scored around 81%! But now, putting my head into Java seems imperative given that every other person here seems to be a master in it. I have always played favorites in learning anything I came across. This time I have to think of what's going to make getting a job easier in the months to come. Allah knows everything.

5 am I started with the second chapter of the book I chose to let me start with Java. I have studied Java before in my engineering but coming to UT Dallas made me start believe that Osmania University is nowhere close to being a good university - they need to know what's going in the industry. Osmania University is just a name - it's all hollow inside. UTD at times makes me go nuts. Even after giving 100% it makes me wonder if that could be enough. Half of what is taught is in the industry right now. The other half is what the professor is researching. There are so many concepts that have not been properly documented in books available in the market. And a large part of this is not even known to the industry. Alhamdulillah there is something like IEEE that helps so much. Being students here enables us to download all its documents free of charge.

Right now the temperature outside is 8 degrees Centigrade but MSN says it feels like 4 degrees Centigrade. The minimum for the day is expected to be 2 degrees Centigrade. It's windy, horribly extreme and nowhere close to any form of harsh weather I have seen before. The coolness runs through the bones and shakes every nerve inside the body. I was in a hurry to attend my morning class and forgot to take my jacket along - I could understand my day had started with a big mistake. Alhamdulillah I am back in my apartment now and it's very good here. Alhamdulillah. Soon I might be seeing snow fall. It's going to be my first experience. I just hope Allah gives me enough strength to bear this cold. I wonder how my friend is doing in Chicago.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Always be a poet, even in prose.  
- Charles Baudelaire, "My Heart Laid Bare", Intimate Journals, 1864
I wonder why the sky looks more open and wide here than the one I remember back in Hyderabad. Perhaps because it's a flat land with not many hills or maybe it's some phenomenon those into the study of light can explain. For me, it's vast and pleasing. I used to stare at the moonlit sky standing in the balcony of my house back home and think of how lovely a poem would be if I could put the bliss in words. I could never do that. I remember the occasional visits I paid to my house's terrace where I would only stare at the few visible stars that always seemed to be moving yet stay in the same place all through my visit. The lights on the land always reminded me that I am a part of civilization. I love mankind. Allah created it. SubhanAllah.

I start liking every other person I meet here. They are all so good to me, helpful and kind. Every Friday seems like a blessing when I go for the Juma prayers and look at those few guys working for the Muslim Student Association. There are a few of them who make me want to learn so much from them. MashAllah, they are of the best people I know here. Today one of the guys told us a few stories about men who could recite the shahada just before dying and a few who couldn't. He explained what it means when Allah guides us from darkness to light and how nobody could ever know who has been guided until the moment of death arrives. I don't want to go to hell. I want to dye reciting the shahada. Alhamdulillah. InshAllah.

I have a Sikh friend here who came over to my apartment over a cup of tea sometime back. He happens to be from Jammu but has stayed for sometime in Hyderabad. I met him because he was my room mate's neighbor in Jammu and they both are good friends. I like this guy a lot. We had lots of fun. He liked tea so much that he had a second cup too. He is graduating this semester and was a bit upset with the recession. Texas is alhamdulillah going strong with jobs still available but he is from Electrical and Electronics engineering so was a little worried. He is finishing his Masters in just 18 months which end in December. When I told him I plan for the same too he asked me if I had a girl friend. He is finishing it in 18 months because he wants to get married soon.

I said I have no girlfriend. I wanted to tell him how much I hate that very idea of getting into such an unaccepted relationship. We got busy with other discussions then. I remember some days back he explained me why is it necessary that we finish our education soon. He said the same thing today to my other room mates. He told how important and wonderful it is to settle down soon. I agree with every word of his on this. Alhamdulillah my parents taught me enough that I understand why it is necessary for a good Muslim to get married at the earliest. I don't understand those guys who want to stay single for long and enjoy their lives. I say it's not enjoying; it's sinful. I am blessed that my parents agree with me.

The other day a guy told me I need not give him so much respect by using aap (a respectable tone of 'you' in Urdu) for him. I was too busy in discussing with him our assignment where I have to test 'od.c' using Xsuds in UNIX. I made a good friend of this guy and also had a talk on phone with him a couple of hours back. I was the same. I cannot change myself even if I change my language or my accent. I see that North Indians use tuu (casual 'you' in Hindi) for almost everybody. I don't mind being referred that way - two of my room mates talk to me using tuu even when I use aap for them always. I am drawn that way. That's what my parents taught me. Alhamdulillah. I will to it always inshAllah and with everybody inshAllah. It's my tehzeeb (etiquette).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Allah Knows

If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

- Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne

The other day when I had a video conference with my father I told him he lost few more hair and that he was looking more bald. My brother started laughing standing behind him and my father showed him the kind of anger which always makes us laugh. Thursday morning when it was evening in India he was about to go to bed when my brother started a conference. Mamma spoke first but my father was sitting beside her and waving his hand at me showing his teeth. Few days back when mamma asked me how she was looking through the camera, I told her she was looking like my mamma. She started laughing. I could see happiness in her voice, in her smile and also in her eyes. I even finally told my brother how much I love him. He said he knows it.

Around 8 pm I called my sister in Austin. The moment we shared greetings I asked her if she was busy. I have made this a practice now. It's always so nice to talk to her. When we last met I took her younger son in my arms and kissed him. How much I wish I could do that again. I love children and I had somebody so close to me after so many months. She told me she was on her way to a restaurant with her husband and children. I still remember her husband asking me to come over to Austin someday. I told her I wanted to come this weekend but have a project to finish. InshAllah someday very soon I will go and meet her. I talk to her every Saturday alhamdullillah. But from now on inshAllah I will call her on Wednesdays or Thursdays too. She is the closest to me here. She has been like a teacher to me right from my childhood.

It's weekend now and it's three days of "nothing much to do". I have to spend some time with my team mates to finish a home work in the course OOAD. They live in a nearby apartment and most probably I will join them tomorrow. I was worried about this particular course I took but on Monday when I spoke for some time to the professor it was like a relief to me. I could convince her that the home work she gave was out of scope of the course-work of the subject. She even got convinced that she should cancel the next homework. I realized how powerful the use of "I agree" could be. I used it with sympathy and she was pleased with me. I went on to ask her about the other courses she takes in UTD. She seemed to be pleased at least. I care about my grades and I want to deserve them. InshAllah. Alhamdulillah.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Once Again

Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.
- Winnie The Pooh, A. A. Milne
It's very cold here today. I had never seen such chilly weather anytime in Hyderabad and it's just the start of winter. Though one of my room mates told me that it's cold when we see Americans wearing warm clothes I didn't feel like wearing my jacket today. We had to go for some shopping in the evening but we stayed indoors after I returned from my class at 9:30 pm. I had a burger on my way back to try out this 'Jack In The Box'. I had been seeing it for two months now but had never been there until today. I liked the burger. Alhamdulillah.

The other day I had a dream in which I knew it was a dream and I was hoping that it would not end. But I woke up and was still here in my apartment. Something similar happens almost every night. I have always stayed away from sleep in the nights for the fear it causes to me. Back in Hyderabad I used to wait till my body would give in. I don't understand what's going on here. I sleep even for 10 hours somedays and most of it is during day time. I know once I start with a job inshAllah everything will have to be put right. I am just waiting for that day to come. I know it's not far inshAllah.

Getting mails from my mamma every morning and evening has turned into a habbit for me by now. It feels so nice to hear from her twice daily. When I have video conferences with her, my father and brother, it's like I am sitting with them. Even after everything that has to be spoken gets over, I ask them to stay online. This perhaps is the safest addiction I have - my parents and brother alhamdulillah. I want to move away from others slowly because I know there is no light ahead on the paths of friendship I walk with these few beautiful people. It's kind of a painful exercise - but today or tomorrow it has to come. It's not easy even to write this. I might just not even do what I am thinking of. But alhamdulillah I will be prepared. Something started yesterday back in India.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The More I Search, The More It's Not There

"Pooh, promise me you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I am a hundred."
Pooh thought for a little.
"How old shall I be then?"
Pooh nodded. "I promise," he said.
- Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
Among so many other things here in the University of Texas at Dallas I like the Muslim community a lot. The credit goes to the MSA that organizes regular meets and of course the Friday prayers. It was only after reaching Dallas that I could understand what exactly the Juma Qutba is about. It's given in English and so goes into my brains unlike how it was back in India where the same Arabic Qutba was recited every Friday which I am sure very few could understand. Today as I entered the prayer hall - there are rooms named as Galaxy Rooms in the University where prayers are performed every Friday alhamdulillah - I saw many Muslim brothers sitting in rows on white sheets of cloth waiting for the Qutba to be started.

One of the brothers from MSA delivered the Azan which was perhaps the most sweetest of the voices I have ever heard. I fall in love with this guy everytime I see him - he always has a smile on his face; always. Then the president of MSA at UTD delivered the Qutba. He spoke about a couple of hadees of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and explained them in detail. Then we had the Juma prayer. Alhamdulillah a similar practice is carried out every Friday and it gives me a lot of peace. SubhanAllah. One thing that comes to my mind repeatedly is something I heard at a Musalla in the first Juma prayer I attend in the US. I think it was in Plano but I am not sure - I had been there with my uncle at a time when I knew absolutely nothing about this place. The Imaam just before the prayer had said "brothers, please pray as if it's the last prayer of your lives".

I like many practices we have in our community here. MashAllah. I wonder whether the people delivering the Qutbas back in India know what they are reciting every Friday. I don't critique them. I just don't understand them. The guy who explained the Hadees today sports a goatee and has a muscular body. We don't need people wearing green gowns, designer caps and holding some threatening sticks in their hands. We need those who can share with us some knowledge that will help us attain Magfirath. I like this place. I like the people here. I just don't completely like the life I am living. I don't have anybody beside me I love. The more I search for love, the more it's not there.

I returned to my apartment after the Juma prayer today to start the preparation for a test I have on Monday. One of my room mates wanted to play pool and I was feeling lousy so I decided to go along with him. I like playing this game - I just can't play it well enough to win. I am yet to learn that. Out of the nine games I played, I came close to winning several times but couldn't make it even once. Yet I enjoyed my time - I like playing this game. I was having a tough time bending and looking at the balls on the table and the stick with my glasses that were repeatedly slipping down my nose. I kept trying for newer ways to aim but they were not of much help. Alhamdulillah.

I am having a tough time finding somebody who could help me here get a permanent Driving Licence. It was my father's friend who came 33 miles from his house in Bedford some weeks back to take me for the computerised test where I scored 21 out of 28 and got my Practice Licence without any preparation. He is too busy these days that I don't expect him to take so much time for me. I have the permission from my parents alhamdulillah to buy a car which is a necessity here for many things. I just don't have somebody to help me with it. Allah will of course decide how things have to take shape. I pray to Him and wait for the time to come. Yet time passes fast here, there is so much to wait for. My faith in Allah is the only thing that keeps me smiling. Alhamdulillah. "Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?" is another quote I could have used for today.

Monday, October 13, 2008


There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.
- George S. Patton 
It's two months now since the day I came here. The feeling of still breathing air in Hyderabad is fresh. At times I feel helpless here just staying in my apartment with nowhere to go except of the university of some store. University always pleases me but even with so many students around I feel lonely there with no friend with me. I talk to many people here, I have become friendly with people from many countries and I have spent good time with several of these people. But there is nobody with whom I can really share myself. It's 11:57 pm here. I miss my home.

I am alhamdulillah satisfied with how things are taking shape. I am done with two of the three mid-term tests out of which one wasn't at all pleasing, I have learnt how to stay away from my parents, I have a fair idea of measurements here, the currency's value and the traffic movement on the roads. I had never used plastic money back in India. I do that now. I learnt how to sign checks and pay bills online without hesitating. I learnt how easy it is to start conversations here. I learnt many things alhamdulillah. Yet I know I have a lot of distance to cover. I want to finish my masters as early as possible and start with a full time job. It's not easy to stay with nothing called as family around me.

I see people complaining how difficult is it to be here, how weired it is to see new things here or some times even criticising their own decisions. I wonder how they thought it would all be easy for them. I still find it very easy here. At least living without emotions is simple. It's only a bit discomforting when my heart beats thinking about my people and friends back home. But I was prepared for that. Alhamdulillah I have fared well till now in containing myself. My laptop is my access to all the hearts out there.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Best Things In Life Aren't Things

If you're good at something, never do it for free.

- The Joker, The Dark Knight

The moment I raised my head standing at the podium I could see all Americans, Europeans, Chinese and Indians keen on what I was going to do next. I will remember this presentation I gave today for a long time. I worried how I would sound, I was worried if I would get confused with the mock-up I was going to present and I was of course worried that I would let my team-mates down who had just finished their part. Our team had already taken extra minutes more than what was stipulated for us. The professor sitting in the last row was now ready to have a look at how our web application would appear.

Alhamdulillah ours was the only team praised by the professor. It was a compliment. I got a pat from one of my team-mates. The other one appreciated me as well. I felt I got recognition and respect in the class. It was still a very small thing but ended up making a lot of difference to me. Back in India I had given presentations in front of lecturers and students I could tell anything in front of. I knew nobody here. Four of my team-mates are Americans and two are Indians. They all make me feel comfortable. All of them have their jobs and two of them are married. I am the only fresher - Fresh of the Boat! So, any appreciation I get from them makes a lot of difference to me.

I had been to Six Flags in Arlington with my cousin sister and her family last Sunday. It was perhaps one of my happiest days here. I didn't enjoy any rides - my purpose was only to be with my sister. And they dropped me back to my apartment in the evening. They had come here from Austin and left later in the night. Saturday I spent the day with my aunt and cousins who came here from Houston and with some of my second cousins. I met most of them only here in Dallas and Houston for the first time but still got comfortable with them easily. I find this a change in me - I was very shy. I am shy even now but just because I meet people who show care and concern toward me, I cannot stop myself from giving all my heart to them and get friendly.

Last weekend showed to me how much difference it makes to have people around us whom we can love and who love us. Even if there is only one person with us who could always be loved and who would love in return, it gives immense peace and happiness. Allah has designed us this way. SubhanAllah. The moment I returned to my apartment at 1:30 am early Saturday I knew I was in a completely different world here - just those same walls and the same three rooms. I like this place but I don't like staying with nobody to love. I know thousands of students like me have the same life and they are used to it. I don't want to get used to it. I am the new generation; I believe in change.

I get to stay in continuous contact with my parents, brother and a few friends. It feels so nice to receive messages and e-mails from each of them. It feels great when somebody calls. The toughest part here is sleep. Maybe I can someday write in detail why sleep troubles me. Otherwise alhamdulillah things are moving smoothly. I will be happy as long as I am sure this phase of my life will end soon and I can catch up with a better future. I thank Allah for every bit of knowledge and wisdom I receive. There is so much to share but nobody to take it from me.