Sunday, December 28, 2008

Allah And Me

Love reminds you that noting else matters.
I am in Austin right now. It's just one of those things I never thought I would ever be doing in my life - being here at Austin and writing for my blog. I was in Houston until Saturday morning when I started with two of my aunts for this place. An uncle and a cousin sister live here. And the best part is their houses are side by side. In the evening, with my sister's husband and two of his friends I went to watch a movie in a theatre -Ghajini. I didn't like the movie but found it as pure entertainment. Then there was a heavy dinner at my sister's place. I wanted to be there for some more time, talk to my sister and spend time with my niece and nephew but they had some guests so I came back to my uncle's house.

Yesterday I attended a wedding in Houston - for the first time in America. It was good, pleasing and interesting. I like the way people carry themselves here. Though all wedding parties are mixed gatherings, women observe hijaab wearing scarfs and carry themselves with confidence. Not even for a moment does it appear any Unislamic except for the music that was played there. Alhamdulillah. The marriage function was in Marriot. The other day I spent a lot of time at Hilton in downtown Houston. The Texas Dawah Convention accommodates its volunteers in a start hotel like Hilton and two my cousins and their several friends were volunteers. We prayed Ishan at 24th floor of the building beside the swimming pool. I had never been to such a high-rise building before. I liked my time there.

The courses I would be taking up for the next semester include Introduction To Cryptography and Semantic Web. I am sure I will get either Software Architecture and Design or Software Project Planning and Management. I am yet to get that registered done. My classes start on 12th inshAllah and I will be back in Dallas before time inshAllah. I have already learnt a lot about being a part of a big family here in America, meeting people who are very distant relatives and making myself one of all these Americans. I am sure hardly any students like me get to live this kind of life here. Alhamdulillah.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It Boils Down To Love

One day when Pooh was thinking, he thought he would go and see Eeyore, because he hadn't seen him since yesterday.
- Chapter Four, The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne, 1982
I wanted to talk to somebody to make myself feel better but it didn't sound appropriate that I call the friends I could think of now. So, I called up my father instead. It was short but it gave me what I needed - a voice filled with love. I spoke to my mother a few hours back but then I had called her to let her know of some financial matters here. I had told her about the fee I had paid at the university and the courses I registered for the Spring semester. Just before hanging up she told me something I didn't expect to hear when I called her and I kept thinking about it for a long time. Things seem to have changed.

Then for a long time I thought about the last time I hugged my parents. I thought about the faces and words I am never going to forget. I thought about many things that won't come again. There are no possible metrics to measure change. I thought writing a few lines on my blog could help. It has helped me many times. Tomorrow I will go to the university and study for Monday's test. I fear not getting a good grade in this course so I have to give in a lot. Today I even had to cut on my breakfast for I had no time for it when I woke up. One of my team mates had told me that the submission date for the final deliverable was 13th and today he woke me up telling it was over already. I had to rush to my laptop and do as much as I could. Alhamdulillah the professor didn't mind a submission that was four hours late. Had it been some other professor, I would have lost an A.

Too frequently I ask myself if I am missing something and it frustrates me. When an ant crawls up onto my hand I play with it. I let it pass through my fingers, make circles on my palm and work through the designs and curves of my hand. But the moment it moves up into my shirt's hand cuff I shrug it off. As long something stays in front of us, let it even be a problem, as long as we know what it is and know what it is capable of, we are alright with it. The moment it goes beyond our knowledge it becomes a bother. I am astonished at how little I can control, how humble we all have to be and how insignificant a wish could mean. So much depends on hope. So much depends on what we haven't seen but hope to see. So much depends on the dreams we see. It is Allah who decides.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food. 
- Michael Levine, nutrition researcher, as quoted in The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars
Saturday evening I came along with my cousin to Houston. Alhamdulillah we reached a little before 12 midnight. After having a hearty talk with my uncle and aunt I sat down with my laptop for more than an hour. I had to crash out then. I have finally managed to pull down the number of hours I am sleeping these days to around six. Alhamdulillah. Yesterday I spent time with my uncle and aunt, drove around a little and slept only after 3 am. And it was Eid ul Azha today. I met so many of my second cousins and relatives from my aunt's side. I didn't miss my parents because they all made me feel like a part of their family. My cousins' grandmother said "you are lucky to get a chance to be in a family for Eid". I know I am. Alhamdulillah.

I have a test on December which I badly need to do well. Though my projects in this course scored 99%, I wasn't good with the first test and the assignment. It was hurting after I had put in so many hours of work about that piece of program and still scored 15 points below average. There were a few things the professor showed later which I could have done to improve on a few points. But it's over now. I just hope I don't go below a B in this course. Alhamdulillah I went good with the other two and inshAllah I will also get an A in one of them.

It's home here for me in Houston. When I go back to Dallas I am going to miss all this part of America!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Chocolate Connoisseur

There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate.
- Linda Grayson, The Pickwick Papers   
A lot of time got wasted in the last few days especially after I got done with two of my three tests. I have the last test on December 15th and I am yet to start with it's preparation. InshAllah I will begin that tomorrow. After a lot of patience and as a big blessing from Allah I scored more than four points above the class average in one of those two tests. I am yet to receive the scores of the other test. It was complicated. It's only Allah's will. The one I have on 15th needs a lot of help from Allah. Though my projects were better than all other teams in the class, I didn't do well in the first test. I badly need to clear the averages to get a decent grade. Alhamdulilllah in one of the three courses I hold a fair chance to get an A.

It's an equivalent of -4 degree Centigrade here right now. Though the actual temperature is 1 degree, it's chilling cold outside. In the evening I had been to Wal-mart and it just ended up in one of those days I will remember for long. We always drag the cart right upto the bust stand and this time we exceeded out limits of shopping. I even went for grape juice, frozen french fries and a packet of M&M chocolate this time apart from the regular supplies of milk, shrimp flavored noodles, bread and rice. I kind of enjoy a lot when I go to Wal-mart, Super Target or Tom Thumb. They talk about some part of future to me!

I have a project presentation to make in the class that starts at 11:30 am. I have finished my part of the work on Sunday but was spending some time complementing my team mates. We are a team of seven and I was int he documentation group. For this final deliverable I created a Vision Document and Softgoal Interdependency Graphs. Though this wasn't much work compared to what my other team mates did, they were always there to encourage me with whatever I was doing. Alhamdulillah I learnt a lot being with these people. They are all elder to me in both working experience and age. I am yet to meet people in two of my courses who do not have any work experience and are of my age! It's an ocean of big sharks here with only my roommates and me as small fish. Only that these sharks are very friendly, caring and helpful!

The forecast for the next 24 hours shows a low of -2 degrees Centigrade. I am sure it's going to feel like -6 at least. A couple of degrees below this and it's going to snow I guess. In the evening when I spoke to my cousin he said he asked me if I was willing to come to Houston with him this weekend. My heart jumped with happiness. InshAllah I will meet my uncle and aunt there again. I am waiting for weekend to come. After tomorrow's presentation there isn't much I have to do. I have a small project to submit on 13th which I am sure my team mates will manage. I will only have a spend a couple of hours after it I suppose. The test on 15th is still a matter of concern. InshAllah I will work harder than before and score above average. If I get to do that, a fish will become as good as a shark!

There is no measure of how much Allah has helped me learn in the last 4 months. It all started with my cousin's marriage where for the first time I drove late nights all alone. My parents were leaving just after all the ceremonies were getting over and I wanted to stay till everybody had left for their homes. Then came my first experience of flying. It was a journey of more than 33 hours. Then it was staying away from my parents. If it was not for those wonderful people I met after coming here, I am sure things would have been very difficult. Allah helped me everywhere. I know things could have gone either ways. Allah wanted it to be easy for me. And so it has always been. Alhamdulillah. Learning has no limits. InshAllah.