Monday, February 23, 2009


When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 
- Kahlil Gibran 
I am sure it was at least 6 am when I fell asleep on Saturday. A call woke me up even before 8 am making me busy four hours ahead of my plans. I returned home late after 8 pm seeing heavy traffic on a freeway for the first time alone. I slept again after 4 am with a short nap in between. 8:40 am I was up and I am yet to get to sleeping. It's 3:15 am already. Just a few days back I was sleeping for more than 10 hours a day. Both ways work good for me alhamdulillah.

I got to talk to three of my friends today - all online. Perhaps I started writing today's post just to record this. I badly need to go to bed but I am not satisfied with the amount I have thought till now and not done with so much I need to think.

My father's friend returned from Hyderabad Friday after a week long trip. This was his first visit to India this year. I started feeling safe again the moment he called me to say he was back. I met him yesterday and told him how insecure I feel when he is not here. Not that I call him frequently for everything, not that there is nobody else in Dallas I can call if I need anything - there are many people alhamdulillah, but perhaps just because he is a good friend of my father and also like a friend of mine that I feel the security. And I guess his presence makes it a little more easy for me to stay away from my parents.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Life Writing

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite.  Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance.  Everyone is just waiting. 
- Dr. Seuss 
There were a host of things I wanted to write in the last post itself but I felt I would loose the flow I was into then. It obvious most of the time I don't like doing things that change my mood unless it be for necessity. Today I have been trying to set myself up on this page but the willingness to share things isn't gaining weight. Thinking of course is not that so impossible, but thinking on something I don't find humble enough to be pinned up is rather a gamble. The stakes are high that I would mess up presenting a picture I would otherwise never. Doing something is always risky. One must do nothing and say nothing to avoid criticism. For the second time I end up having something I think I can't share with anybody.

I slept for voluminous number of hours yesterday I am ashamed to reveal. My room mates know it, they understand it and one of them does it too so I have got some company. After I woke up I had 30 minutes to get ready and catch the bus to the college. I didn't buy a parking tag for my car to save $48. But I guess inshAllah I will make the deal soon - it's always nice to be free from thinking and planning with bus timings guiding our plans. But we don't get to have such options everwhere. We are forced to accept others' preferences, console our hearts and respect boundaries. It's not so easy always. I just want to be sure I am doing the right things.

I cooked khichidi and tamatey ki chutney yesterday. I was surprised how well they tasted. I used canned tomatoes. I was worried they won't get cooked easily or they would taste too sweet but alhamdulillah a few drops of lemon juice made them taste wonderful. Today after the two evening classes I called up my room mate friend to tell him how hungry I was. By the time I reached home he had kept a pizza ready for me. We get these pizzas from Wal-mart for $1.25 each. They just need 13 minutes in the oven at 400F to taste awesome. I wish we could control few more things this way. But as always Allah will decide for us. He is the best One to do that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eleven Minutes

When she opened her eyes, Veronika did not think 'this must be heaven'. Heaven would never use a fluorescent tube to light a room, and the pain - which started a fraction of a second later - was typical of the Earth. Ah, that Earth pain - unique, unmistakable.
- Veronika Decides To Die, 1998, Paulo Coelho   
We behaved like we were drunk while cooking dinner. We had several reasons to laugh - all created out using wit and humour. One of my room mates has things to share from Mumbai, the other has things from Pakistan and I have from Hyderabad. We always pity chicken whenever we cook it. Sheep and cows get to spend some time in the meadows, idle around for a while, see some blue skys, behave like drunk and see this world. Poor chicken never get to experience any of these - half of them are either fried or boiled before they enter this world and the other half only to get slaughtered. We had a full uncut frozen chicken in our freezer asking for its rights to be cooked and eaten. We let it have it for free today.

I set out for the university at 9 am on Monday. I had an assignment to submit before 4 pm and a test at 5:30 pm. I knew it was going to be a long day for me. What I didn't know appeared when I sat with two friends at the fourth level of the McDermott library overlooking a construction site with the mirrors of Student Union complex showing signs of dirt reflecting the construction activity. I wonder why the group-study room in the library is always colder than the other areas. It makes a lot of things difficult. Nevertheless I like that place a lot more than the other lobbies and study areas. It was something else today.

We had seven questions to answer and my two friends were there working on it since 30 minutes before I joined them. I opened my laptop, entered the password and stared at the right corner of the screen seeing how fast WiFi connects me to the network. I wanted to think more about the test I had in the evening and the assignment I had to submit in the late afternoon. They didn't seemed important  - I have submitted so many assignments in the past and appeared for so many tests - it was not my over-confidence though. It was something else; at least today.

The chicken wanted to move out of its tightly sealed package. We had curd, pasta sauce, curry leaves, cilantro leaves and a lot many ingredients including onions asking for their rights' fulfilment. We awarded them everything for dinner. The other day we even awarded the frozen mutton's right to get cooked and eaten in the form of sumptuous, delicious biryani. It took us four hours to assure those rights. It was a worthy ride through so many procedures that included skills with grinding, frying, mixing, timing and most importantly, patience. Alhamdulillah. There is so much to enjoy in this world given to us by Allah yet so few people willing to enjoy it.

I kept my eyes open at the library, opened all the PDF files I had to read, hoped they would help me, looked at what my friends had done till then and tried to put my focus on the seven questions. I was simply not meant to put strain on my mind this morning. The brute force I had depended on had altered my track of thought. Whatever world I had been living in seemed empty once again. What I did clearly knew that it was time to plan. I had waited 11 months for a day to come, it came and it went away. That is obviously what I was waiting for. I did submit my assignment - a good 13 minutes before the deadline.

We had some proofs to write in the course Introduction to Cryptography - all using the concepts of probability. I was well aware I would have to study a lot of math in this course but I had no idea about the kind of math - I was expecting calculus; nothing like probability I prefer staying away from. I like things I can understand; things that others can understand; so that at least I can count on somebody to teach them to me. It's the knowledge that I can't conceive of something and nobody can help me with it that battles my peace. I also understand others' inability to understand either. Alhamdulillah the evening's test went very well.

Late yesterday night and early morning I tried to speak to as many people I could. I just wanted to. I called my cousin but she didn't receive the call all three times. I had assumed she had gone to some party. Today she told me she went to bed early. I don't get disheartened when she is busy or not available to receive my calls - it's like everything when I hear her recorded voice at her voice message box. I didn't call any of my friends but two; I wanted not to get disturbed from my dreams. Those who are a part of our dreams never disturb us. That which is a part of our dreams never disturbs us. What bothers is that which brings an unwanted change. I was shivering sitting in the McDermott library - not becasue of the cold AC, but because of something I had in me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By Examples

Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.  
- Miles Franklin 
I had been sleeping for nine hours daily so had to force myself to wake up three hours short today. It was easy because it was necessary. Lately it had become as difficult for me to wake up as it is difficult to get to sleeping. I go to bed most of the times with something to think about before I end up realizing that one night would not be enough for it. After my breakfast I have to go to the bank and later attend a seminar at 2 pm in the university. There are no classes scheduled for Wednesdays. I still wish I could take a nap for an hour more!

I have a test and an assignment submission coming up for next week. The test seems to be manageable but the assignment scares me with a lot of math in it. The test's in Software Project Planning and Management and the assignment is for Introduction To Cryptography. I knew cryptography would have a lot of math in it but I had no idea about the complexity. It's all in probability which I have always disliked. InshAllah I will manage. We are going to have a test in it inshAllah early next month and it's 'take-home' with very little time to work on. InshAllah I will have have to manage.

It was humid yesterday alongside some rain during daytime. It poured down at night and now it's sunny and cold. It's going to stay bright all day but temperature won't differ much. Weather here teaches change can be more than just constant. It's going to be terribly humid all through summer. The second I felt humidity yesterday, it reminded me of the days when I was new in Dallas and was living with my uncle. It's different world - one with a family around, the other with only some friends and the Internet.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it.
- Swedish Proverb 
Today's drive reminded me of 9th of August, 2008 when it was 5 am and I was driving home alone. It was raining, it had rained incessantly for 4 days, all streets were clogged with water and it was the worst condition ever I had driven in. That was just after my cousin's wedding which was followed by some fun at his house. My parents and brother wanted to leave early so, I had dropped them home a lot earlier. Today it was smoother alhamdulillah. The roads were clear and 60 miles per hour seemed very less. The speed hardly shows unless there are turns on the freeways or when I open the window. Driving here is a lot different. There are too many rules and sign-boards always to look for.

I knew alhamdulillah another big change was expected in a very short time. I was praying for it. I guess from now even change will appear like routine. I always mock at those words from Spiderman: "with great power comes great responsibility". I like that converse: "with great responsibility comes great power". It's satisfying when we take care of our responsibility first and then exploit the power. As for Spiderman itself, it's fiction. I wonder why a few times today I felt my brain not working.

The food was ready when I reached home. One of my room mates had left for his night shift and the other had already crashed out - he leaves around 8 am daily. It's daal and plain rice. I have already had two cans of soda since afternoon so I will avoid any more of it with my meal. It's easy to get used to having at least a little of some drink with every meal. Dinner looks incomplete without it. Another point that amused me here was what we called 'soft drinks' in India is 'soda' here. Dr. Peppers is the one to give thumbs up.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It isn't what they say about you, it's what they whisper.
- Errol Flynn 
I have nothing to write except for a craving to write. I woke up late today which is a lot like what I do when I have nothing planned for the mornings. I am yet to finish eating the bowl of cereal I started a while ago - perhaps it's more than 35 minutes since I started with it. Once I am done with three paragraphs, the urge to write and the bowl I will get a shower and spend some time with studying. Most of the studying part which I have done in the past few days has been limited to the class room. In yesterday's class we were asked to create models for Semantic Web using RDF/XML, N-TRIPLE and Statements - at least this is how I perceived this second lab assignment which we did in the class and got graded. A classmate helped me with some programming part but he added he doesn't know what it was about.

The only downside of my laptop which bothers me is its low battery life. It hardly goes on for an hour and a half. This class of Semantic Web on Mondays starts at 7 pm and stretches till 9:45 pm though the professor has been letting us go earlier than that. It gets painful trying to conserve battery life by reducing the screen's brightness and making the processor sleep everytime the use of the computer seems not so important. All auditoriums in the Engineering and Computer Science complex have seating arrangements with power sockets for each of the audience but classes don't have that facility. To make things worse this class of Semantic Web is held for more than 80 students. The professor is classy!

Handling money here is not as simple as how it was back in India. It takes some time every few days to check my statements online, pay bills, keep track of all payments and finally do the math to decide who is going to pay how much. Perhaps I can't compare this to things in India - back there it was my parents doing the accounts and me taking care only of my money which was relatively in small amounts. Here I am responsible for all money sent to me by my parents and voluntarily I have taken up the responsibility of all the bills' collections of my apartment. For this month inshAllah today evening I will have to spend around an hour to settle all accounts with my room mates. There is a bunch of bills filed in the closet all of them payed by me. I am yet to learn a lot about taxes and credit here.

And Then...

'But I don't want to go among mad people,' remarked Alice.
'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat, 'we're all mad here. You're mad.'
'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice. 
'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'
- Alice's Adventures In Wonderland
Gone are the days when I used to start typing, go on for paragraphs after paragraphs and still have so much to share. Now, I need to be diplomatic, choose my words carefully and be sure of who might end up reading them. I always wanted to write for myself but that has hardly been the case. I end up having at least one person in my mind most of the times when I write. I would think words came natural to me. At least that isn't the case anymore. And no more do I ask anybody personally to read any of my blogs; apparently I even avoid talking about it. There are occasions I wish I could go back and delete some very old posts. But I need to stand up for them; not that I regret anything, I just don't like them.

It always gives me a feeling of being protected when I talk to my father's friend who lives here in Dallas. Alhamdulillah these days I get to meet and talk to him more frequently. Knowing that he is there for me gives warmth. I had met him for the first time a couple of years back at an uncle's place. He has been my father's and uncles' friend since their childhood. A year back when my father told him I was planning to study in America, he had asked me to meet him in Dallas. That day, I still remember, I wondered if I would really meet him or, I even thought, why he was telling me that. Today I know he is one of my closest people here and a person I look up to. He has been living in America for more than 31  years now.

Just around last year I had not even a bit of imagination of how things were going to be after a year. There were few things that mattered to me and I was worried about getting admits from good universities and a visa. I had not even imagined who I would be staying with, who all I would meet and spend my time with, who would become so dear to me and who would start making a difference to my life. I have made tens of friends here, got close to many distant relatives and made some of them a priority. It's been said we don't learn much unless we travel a lot. I just want this to be a start. I have many more people to meet, lots more to learn and a few things to forget.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.
- Leo Tolstoy
We got all white lights in our living room today. We had soft white since we replaced the lamps provided to us when we moved in. Today we went to two desi stores, to Super Target and twice to Wal-mart. We even went to drop some luggage to one of my roommate's new apartment inside the campus. He will leave us tomorrow and by the end of February another guy who's already my friend will join us. The guy who joined us recently is from Mumbai. My third roommate is Pakistani. We are all already like best friends. They are my friends first and then comes the fact about apartment sharing. Life seems to change everyday. I have always seen changes with my parents, brother and friends from Hyderabad. They ceased to be with me since the day I left them. I don't have them with me now.

We were five guys today for dinner. I wasn't cooking today - I don't know why I didn't cook; we never have turns for that; we cook when we feel like; we have a tendency to feel that daily; alhamdulillah. When the cooking started, I began online talk with my mother followed by my father and ending with my brother. Later I had two of my most beautiful friends with me online. I wished we could stay; I have physical constraints on me one of them being sleep. It's more than five months I reached here. For the last one month I have been trying to understand something very important. It's so good I gave words to some people. Understanding is hindered for I need to keep those words. It is good.

The curry for dinner today was dominated by pieces of chicken and potatoes with tomatoes giving a humble backdrop. A cup of Pepsi following it made my mouth sweet. There are obviously sweeter things I always thank Allah for nevertheless. I don't break my words beacuse I can't take any guilt. I have always been a good friend; at least tried to be. I am not even sure I can bear to see the otherwise of it happening. But of course I will be here not getting anything to see. It feels neat and soothing most of the time when I tell myself I will leave everything to Allah. But then days like today come and in an instance everything seems going so hazy again.