So, I live in Tennessee that’s been red since the dinosaurs. On November 8, it elected Donald J. Trump for president with an overwhelming majority of 215% and handed him like 5 million electoral colleges with a few extra to munch on for Thanksgiving.

The rest is, as they say with a pit in the stomach, history.

Over the course of these past few days that really felt like unbelievably surreal eons, I’ve gone through a host of emotions. And I’m not alone.

All of us who were against Trump because of his sexist, racist, xenophobic, utterly ignorant remarks/tweets/stances feel betrayed by the Basket of Deplorables who voted him in.

Oh no, please don’t take offense, I don’t mean YOU.

Yeah, you.

You there who proclaims so passionately that you aren’t racist or sexist or xenophobic or deplorable and that you love me, the other, but you voted for Trump nonetheless because you either hated Hillary or because you wanted to ‘empty the swamp’ of Washington and Trump was your hero.

Yeah, you’re not like them bigots who voted for him in spite of his calling all Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, in spite of his call to ban all Muslims, in spite of his profiling all blacks as thugs, in spite of his degradation of women, in spite of his bragging about sexual assault, in spite of the fact that seeing him in power makes KKK sing to the hills that its time has finally come.

No, you’re perhaps not like the radicalized racist elements in this country who voted him into power even though you too voted him into power. Maybe you’re not like them because you say you’re a moderate or a reasonable Trump supporter but you did vote for him so you must be comfortable with all that he said anyway.

So, excuse us when we breathe fire at his election and your delicate ass gets in the way too. Not trying to target-singe you or anything but #YouAreWithHim.

You don’t get to separate yourself from any of the damage that his presidency does.

There are chants of ‘build that wall’ in our schools today for Hispanic children to bear with. There are chants of ‘go back to where you came from’ in our colleges today for Muslim students to deal with. Black students are told to ‘ride at the back of the bus.’ Girls are being groped in school hallways and being told to not protest because ‘if the President can do it, so can I!’ All these are first-hand accounts witnessed by people in my community and in other communities all over America.

These kids who have sacrificed human decency at the altar of ‘telling it like it is’ are definitely coming from families that supported Trump for no reasons other than what these children are stating so loudly. I’m afraid to think of the rhetoric these young people must be listening to at home to believe it is okay for them to behave this way in public.

And you did this! You who voted for Trump even if you claim you aren’t racist and all!

This election was many things. His words were poisonous from the start but you were perhaps so privileged or callous to not really care what that really did or would do to those he targeted.

I’m feeling a lot of things right now but the most relevant emotion to all that’s happened is that we are selfish and we vote for selfish reasons, without thinking what that one vote can do to the rest of us.

Being of Muslim faith, I don’t agree with many, MANY, things that the liberals stand for but at the same time, I can also see that this isn’t just about me. Because a country isn’t ever just about one person or belief or ideal. It has to cater to every citizen. It has to protect and respect everyone who lives in it.

I recently read a Muslim woman’s account who voted for Trump because she believed he really will crush ISIS. Unlike the Washington crowd, Trump is an outsider, an agent for change. He isn’t friendly with Qatar and the Saudi Kingdom or any governments alleged to have assisted the terrorist organization at one point or another (as per WikiLeaks), has no favors to pay back to anyone, hence, he will be tougher on radical Islamists. Perhaps true. And we all want that. But this was ONE aspect of a man’s narrative who has never held a public office and can hardly predict how he will deliver on this promise given his lack of political experience.

For the record, he has already gone back on his promise to repeal Obamacare completely because it’s not all bad. This doesn’t show he is willing to work across party lines. This shows how uninformed he was about issues he boasted to be an expert on.

What about the rest of the stuff?

An African-American cab driver told my husband that he’d voted for white men all his life but the white men and women couldn’t take one black president.

A friend of mine, for the first time in her life and she is an American by birth, was accosted by a white lady at a gas station and told to ‘watch her back’ because now Trump is in power and will deal with everyone.

Another friend of mine took off her hijab because she feared for the safety of her children and her own person. This was the hardest thing she has ever had to do in her life!

My housekeeper knows of undocumented hardworking families who came out of the shadows because the Obama Administration asked them to and now they face a very real threat of deportation or separation.

A single mother was worried that with the repeal of Obamacare, she’ll lose her insurance and the facility and means and chance to care for her son’s heart disease.

Another woman trying to heal from loss of a baby was schooled on the evils and punishments of getting an abortion. She hadn’t. She’d had a miscarriage.

For the first time in all our 14 years here, my husband told me to not go out alone at night. I, for the first time in our 14 years here, fear for my family’s safety when they are out.

There is that race thing. The religion thing. The immigrant thing. The woman thing. But we aren’t allowed to talk about it because whenever we do, it’s always ‘oh, please, don’t take out THAT card!’

Umm, no.

We aren’t the ones pulling out cards. Your candidate did that and you validated all that hate with your vote. Every time he resorted to hate speech, his popularity shot up until it landed him in the White House.

Your explanations of why you did it do not help.

Fact is that Donald J. Trump is now the President-Elect. That’s reality and I agree we need to accept it and respect it.

To all those who voted for him and are determined that this wasn’t about race, wasn’t about sexism, wasn’t about xenophobia in spite of his sweeping insults to every minority of every race, religion and gender – prove it.

Journalists are now out there reporting that every Trump voter honestly thought their vote was for change alone and wouldn’t hurt anyone. Well, it has. It has hurt the cause of religious freedoms, women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice.

Fix this! Hold back your bullies and your bigots.

Now is your time to prove it to the rest of us that we are still safe in America in spite of our color, our origin, our religion. This is on you.

You have four years. Use them well.


Yes, I’m offended and that’s okay. It’s okay to be offended.

If somebody publically ridicules my father, I’m expected and allowed to be offended. I feel about my Prophet and my religion the same way and it doesn’t matter if the offender doesn’t get it. His ignorance doesn’t minimize the hurt I experience at the hands of his crude behavior. I am not ashamed of owning my hurt but that’s not the issue.

The issue is how I channel my hurt and what channels are available to me to express my hurt.

Self-defense is not synonymous with slaughter. In other words, unless the offender is physically trampling you, you probably shouldn’t kill him. There are always other, more civilized, ways of retaliating. Nicolas Sarkozy was hurt too when Sine joked about him. We all know the amazing true story where Charlie Hebdo had to fire an employee on grounds of anti-Semitism. Thus, establishing that freedom of speech is not the same as hate speech. There’s a law defining that and Sarkozy was wise enough to use that law to his advantage.

My brothers in faith would be better off to follow suit.

Using the law, not taking the law into your own hands, getting laws made that protect the Muslim faith is one narrative that the Muslim community must work on and push for. As tax-paying equal citizens of the land, we have that power and it must be recognized by the State. There was a time when anti-Semitism laws didn’t exist and it was ok to use the N word. I still remember that one book by Agatha Christie – I read it with the old title still intact. Not anymore. The basic underlying principle of these legislations was that such behavior hurt sentiments and feelings of a community. Hence, we can’t cheer for freedom of speech when it crosses over to hate speech.

Then, there’s the role of the media. There were two Muslims gunned down too at the Charlie Hebdo incident. One of them was an employee of the newspaper and the other was a policeman out there defending the freedom of the publication that mocked his faith. Why are the gunmen who killed them the true face of Islam? Why can’t Mustapha Ourrad and Ahmed Merabet be the face of their faith?

Osama Bin Laden’s journey from freedom fighter to Islamic terrorist is no secret. You, the media, told me that he was the anti-Soviet warrior who put his army on the road for peace (ref: The Independent’s article by Robert Fisk published 1993). And when he went rogue, suddenly my beliefs were to blame? That’s like the mom who is the adult in-charge of her child but blames his bad behavior on daddy’s DNA.

Why am I expected to apologize for crimes that I neither committed nor condone?

I’m originally from Pakistan. I hope the world realizes that my home country has lost more than 60,000 civilians to the same terrorist mindset that killed those 12 people in France. Why does the media narrative let a minority decide for a majority? As rightly pointed out by select columnists – when was the last time Christians/Jews/non-Muslims/atheists had to put forth a group apology for the crimes committed in the name of their beliefs? To quote one such piece, “all terrorists are Muslims except the 94% that aren’t”.

I don’t stand for Charlie Hebdo’s style of expression. It is vulgar. Killing those cartoonists was vulgar, too, and spitting out more of the same will only end in more of the same. Attack on that publication ended in attacks on several mosques in France, which only goes to show that when offended, crazies act similarly.

The best attack on fear is through knowledge and integration.

Ramadan, Hajj and their associated Eids are huge events for Muslims. I’ve been in the USA for over a decade. My children are American. They have no other homeland. Every Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza, we hear the cheer being spread around; on TV, over the radio, newspapers, in the malls where you can easily buy the appropriate decorations. There was even a segment on Diwali or Holi (slips my mind as to which one so forgive me). We love it. It’s nice to wish all these various communities well on their big day. However, I have yet to hear a media person wish us, the Muslim Americans, a Happy Eid. Is it really that hard to accommodate that one line in your speech once or twice a year? Yes, we have two Eids. Pick the one you’d want to wish us on – I’d go with the one at the end of Ramadan, personally.

Most Muslims follow the dietary restrictions defined by Islam. We eat only Zabiha when it comes to meat and Halal is a huge ingredient in our foodstuffs. (Please, google the two or ask your neighborly Muslim for an explanation.) The grocery stores across the country sell kosher products. It wouldn’t hurt them to incorporate halal products on their shelves to facilitate their Muslim shoppers. Wouldn’t it be nice if the schools offered a halal menu for the kids who happen to be both American and Muslim? Their parents are paying taxes too, you know.

Coming from a third world, very turbulent country, if I’ve learned anything it is that when minorities, no matter how small, are crushed, forcibly made irrelevant and ignored – countries crumble. For a country to exist in peace, it is important that ALL of her people feel safe, at home, integrated and know that if they are wronged, they will be heard.

Peace be with us and within us!

This post was part of CNN’s I Am A Muslim assignment.


Posted: December 20, 2014 in It angers me...
Tags: ,

It was the massacre of those 132 children that got the city in an uproar…well, some of it. It was indeed sad and a national tragedy and all TV anchors were ripping apart the invited officials to their shows as much as possible.

Except Ghulam didn’t watch much cable. He heard the news on his local channel and read some in the papers. He thought he’d cry too but the Imam of his mosque told him to have courage. It was sad indeed but it was only a reaction. Those soldiers had killed babies of those fathers who’d burst in the school building. Remember the raid on the Lal Mosque years ago? So much bloodshed! And the drones and the airstrikes and the army operations in Waziristan? Innocent people are dying there, by the thousands, and nobody is helping them! So why should Ghulam waste his tears for a hundred children. They’ve only paid the price of their parents’ sins plus most of those ‘children’ were adults; had crossed puberty and were westernized beyond repair. They wore pants!

Ghulam understood. Those children weren’t as innocent as the media said – well the media that was fueled by western agenda anyway. His local channel was also one of them now, it seemed. He decided he will not pay attention and go about his work. Imam knows best. Imam was knowledgeable. It were the blessings of his knowledge, the ‘faiz’ because of which the neighborhood’s small, modest mosque had turned into a wonder of shiny marble and high rising towers. It had more space too for more people. The Imam and his mosque were funded by international groups – because he was so knowledgeable.

This was just before ISIS came.

There was a protest that night as well. A group claiming to be a civil society was chanting slogans outside the Lal Mosque, demanding the esteemed Maulvi to apologize for his words against the army, for not condemning the attack at Peshawar. Why should he? Did the army apologize for what they’d done in Waziristan? If the army wasn’t condemned then why should the attackers of the school be reprimanded? Everyone has a right to fight injustice against them. Besides, that Malik – he who was now leading the protest – wasn’t he the one who was leading a protest in favor of the Maulvi when Lal Mosque was attacked by that dictator? Looks like he got new western money. Everyone wants to go abroad these days. Like that Malala. It’s all her fault really that people misunderstood Taliban. She wasn’t shot. Look at her face. No bullet marks there!

Ghulam decided he wouldn’t pay attention to the protest and go about his work. If the Maulvi was really that bad then why didn’t the government catch him? Why was he so esteemed and constantly on TV? Why wasn’t there an anti-Maulvi day? Because he wasn’t such a bad guy; just misunderstood by a few who will shut up soon.

This was before ISIS came.

The government seemed to have caved in some to the western pressure it seemed. They hung six Taliban fighters. May they rest in peace. They were only fighting for a cause and if only we could talk to them and stop the aggression against them, they would’ve come back to us, happy and laughing and smiling. We were all Pakistanis; brothers. We shared the same religion and values and everything. It was sad that the Prime Minister would sway in favor of the western powers because he wants their money. Such shame!

Ghulam decided he would never be part of the western conspiracy. He was a self-sufficient man who had a job and he was a practicing Muslim who wanted his children to walk the right path. He would do what the Imam said – pray harder for all lost souls and for himself and for his country. It will be okay soon.

This was just before ISIS came.

There was another attack after that. At the girls college this time. Some 140 students died. Women – they should stay home! Besides, that college never taught anything valuable. It was all love stories and ungodly science. Studying all that, those women would’ve become infidels in no time anyway. It was sad they had to die this way but – they should’ve listened. They should’ve stayed home.

Ghulam wasn’t sure if Imam was right about that thought, though. Islam didn’t want women to not learn or not educate themselves. But then, maybe the kind of education in that college was wrong…? But his neighbor’s daughter went there too. Luckily she survived because she hadn’t gone to school that day but her friends weren’t so lucky. That house was in mourning nonetheless. And his other neighbor, Habib, was very angry with the Imam too for his preaching. But then Habib had always been the one to disagree with the Imam’s interpretations, saying that the Quran didn’t say this and the Hadith didn’t say that. Saying the Imam was twisting words. Ghulam recalled the time when the Imam had confided in him and a few others that Habib was not a good Muslim. In fact, he wasn’t a Muslim at all. He worshipped the shrines. He was a mushrik! He sympathized with non-Muslims. He was a munafiq! That scared Ghulam. He wasn’t as knowledgeable as the Imam. He didn’t have the time to read all those heavy books by himself and he didn’t have to either when he had an Imam. He came to the mosque to learn from the Imam. Imam knew everything.

But today Habib had really lost it. He cursed the Imam! Saying it was hate-mongers like him who had defiled his religion, made the world hate his religion; people like him who would be the death of his country. The Prophet wasn’t like you! The Sufis weren’t like you! Pakistan wasn’t like this! Habib was shouting. Poor Habib. He was so consumed by the tragedy. He wasn’t thinking straight, Ghulam was sure. Besides, isn’t that what the Imam had been trying to tell us? This is what we had done to Taliban – killed their children. Of course they were angry just like Habib. Poor Habib. If only he could see!

Ghulam decided he would teach his children to be compassionate and see the other person’s point of view. Everyone is good except those who aren’t. The west isn’t good. He would never want his children to turn to that part of the world. It was nice to know that the majority of his neighborhood still felt the same way.

This was just before ISIS came.

The city had turned into a slaughterhouse. Hordes of people were killed, bazaars blasted, gunfire in the air. Mobs were burning down everything in their path while law enforcement agencies were trying to control them. Ghulam saw the Imam leading a mob that was looting, breaking private and public property, killing the cops too. Ghulam couldn’t believe it. He always thought the imam was a peaceful man who believed in talks. Yes, he did say violent actions were justified in some cases but to hit an officer in uniform? That’s against the law! Imam was breaking the law?

Scraps of conversation came to his mind – we don’t believe in the constitution of Pakistan…we pledge allegiance to the Islamic State…

ISIS were wrong and ruthless, that much Ghulam knew. They were just bloodthirsty and killed everyone and abducted women and took away sons. He looked at his daughter and told her to go to her room. He was glad his son was home, too. Then, he secretly chided himself for being afraid. They would never come here! Pakistan had an army and everything. It was funny he was even thinking this. He shook his head and shut and locked the door of his house real tight. He wouldn’t go out today and neither would any of his family members. It will be okay. The government will handle this. It will be over soon.

This was the day ISIS came.

December 16, 2014 – my Facebook news feed has been in black out for some 24 hours now. The tragedy is one that surpasses all we’ve seen until now. There’s anger, grief, fear, and amidst all that there’s also a sense of ‘nothing will come out of it as usual.’

For one thing, the PTI sit-in has ended, and while that may not be happy news for some, we are really not concerned about that right now. What we really are concerned with is why does CNN keep saying the 132 children were killed for going to school?

They must be corrected! They must be told that the children were killed as retaliation to Zarb-e-Azb. And FYI those dead were also Muslims so if you’re going to equate Islam with terrorism, we pity you for your lack of perspective/education/brains. And also that this war is imposed upon us because of the West’s war on terror.

I agree with all that except the latter part. It IS my war. It has been my war since the first time the Taliban said they didn’t believe in the constitution of Pakistan, attacked a Pakistani city, killed a Pakistani civilian, posed as a security threat to the Pakistani nation.

But where is my call to jihad?

Instead we have another committee formed to compile another report that will be archived soon enough.

Since 2008, 800 schools have been attacked all over the country but without any backlash from the government who is responsible to react. Over 300 Talibans were FREED by the government instead of being hung/stoned/shot. All the while, our people were killed (over 50,000 now thank you), soldiers were butchered (must’ve heard about the 23?), airports, military bases and historic monuments were attacked and burned down.

Pakistan did NOTHING.

Well, nothing except hate Malala Yousufzai, which actually makes me wonder: what if one of the survivors, the 13 year old who pretended she was dead to stay alive or the 16 year old who stuffed his own tie in his mouth to keep from screaming, stood up and raised his/her voice against the aggressors? Would the Nation condone that? Would that be enough to fight back this terrorism? Because the last time somebody spoke up against TTP after she survived their attack, we engaged in heavy victim shaming, called her an agent/puppet of the West, despised her for her Nobel, outlawed and disowned her.

A brave Pakistani girl like her has an anti-Malala day while Maulvi Abdul Aziz has air time to spew more hate and condone the Peshawar attack.

Where is my call to jihad?

Pakistan being such a ginormous fortress of Islam, a nuclear state, with a fully functional army – what more would we have to bear to uphold the sanctity of this Islamic state? Sanctity of ginormous fortress was flogged, shredded, raped, murdered, brutalized, and tainted decades ago while we thought it was more important to hang Asia Bibi (but spare Junaid Jamshed), burn and kill the non-Muslims and the wrong Muslims (but negotiate with the terrorists). Okay, we were being patient (read: stupid) and the better person (victim) but now the children are dead!

I think it’s time for Pakistan to bring on the jihad!

If something is as certain as death and taxes, we know that it’s super serious. And if that something is actually about taxes – with an IRS agent barking at the other end of your phone line – then it’s not just serious, it’s frightening as well.

When my husband sent me this text while I sat waiting for him to return home from work, I went from numb with shock to alert to up for the job like lightening all in a span of five seconds.

irs 1

I popped open and found that our local IRS office closed at 4:30 pm. My clock said 6:00 pm. There was one more number there that I dialed and it got me an answering machine. No live help. I looked up a few more links on the Contact Us page, cursing all that reading material there and cringing at remembering every TV ad I’d ever seen of tax attorneys shouting out to save poor lost and fearful souls from the grim clutches of the IRS: Don’t let the IRS harass you! Contact us!

I wished I could get one such attorney right then.

Luckily, I found this page:

irs 2

irs 3

I called the number and after an initial five minute routine of for this, press this and for that, press not this, I was put on hold. My wait time ranging from 15-30 minutes. That was all I could do then. I could only wait and text my husband who was probably sweating at the other end of the line under pressure from the still badgering agent.

The minutes slipped by. The Hawaiian melody they played for my entertainment was soothing no doubt and I must say I wasn’t quite as unnerved at discovering that I’d waited for some 40 minutes before I got an agent to talk to.

What followed was a crazy mix of both extremely good and bad news.
1. Three minutes before I got through to my IRS agent, my husband texted me that he’d wired the demanded dollar amount to the agent he was talking to, and that he was on his way home. I was nearly in tears at that. He wasn’t going to jail! We’d paid whatever the IRS thought we owed them just like the good citizens we thought we were.
2. When I finally got my IRS agent three minutes later, she all but choked back tears of her own trying to simultaneously apologize and break the terrible news to me that we had just been scammed in the name of IRS. She checked our accounts, told us everything was beautiful, we were great citizens, we didn’t owe IRS anything, and then she thanked us for paying our taxes. Sigh – if only I could talk to her fifteen minutes earlier! We all coulda been saved all those tears and high drama.

Apart from that, the most important thing the agent told me that day was that no matter how horrifying we think the IRS is (not exactly in these words), it would never call up taxpayers and demand payment and/or threaten with an arrest like that other agent had.

You might wonder why we were such wrecks as to obey him through. Well, we take our taxes very seriously just like any good State-fearing-law-abiding citizen would and should, and we pay them just as grudgingly but judiciously as any State-fearing-law-abiding citizen should and would. Point is – we pay our taxes. However, the way tax returns are calculated and filed, it is possible to miss a few bucks here and there over the years owing to miscalculations that the IRS might catch later and inform the taxpayer about. That’s what we thought had happened to us. Only, the absolute you-pay-now-or-go-to-jail bit did alert my husband, which is why he asked me to call the IRS but…

These scammers work on our nerves; use pressure tactics. That’s how they win. And they time their scams very well. For instance, he called my husband at a time when all IRS local offices and even most banks were closed. Hubby had to rush to a money counter at Kroger to wire him the amount. And the dollar amount that they told us was believable – not so small that we’d laugh it off nor so exorbitant that we’d pass out before paying it.

However shocking this experience was for us, the IRS agent, not the scammer but the real one, shared some vital information with us that I’d like my readers to know as well:
• If you ever receive such a letter or a call, do not cave under pressure and pay but always, ALWAYS, get in touch with an IRS agent or call the cops yourself.
• The number you should call under such situations, the one that I called and talked to, is 1-800-908-4490. It is for the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit.
• IRS will never call and demand/coerce payment from you and/or threaten with arrest without due process.
• If you, unfortunately, are scammed, report it at TIGTA or call the TIGTA toll-free hotline at 1-800-366-4484.
• Visit the IRS website for updates frequently.

Following our report filing at the above link, an agent from our local IRS paid my husband a visit at his workplace. He took another interview of him, jotted down the details once more and revealed that this scam is horribly widespread – as much as two cases per week in the city we lived in. He said it is very difficult to catch these crooks as these calls are made from overseas, primarily from countries where the US has outsourced jobs. The employees there have our information and while they might call you up during the day to sell you a vacation package or car insurance, they might call you to rob you off your hard earned money in the evening. The IRS has alerted money vendors, banks and such and though they are advised to alert their customers, they aren’t required by law to do so. Hence, the brunt of providing safety to us falls on us – the potential victims.

Until the day when the IRS or the Congress comes up with a better plan to protect We the People against these crimes, be wise, stay safe and protect your wealth.

And share my story and protect others from becoming victims. Bless you all!

Gaza and I

Posted: July 15, 2014 in It angers me...
Tags: , , , ,

It’s the same every time. Gaza goes up in flames and so does my newsfeed. I join in too, of course, because it is a grotesque humanitarian crisis at the least. We jointly condemn it, Muslims and Jews and others. I get to read opinions and testimonials and articles that are both informative and hopeful.

And then there’s this status:

Boycott them! Let’s all go to war and show them what the Muslim Ummah can do!

Er…yes. I would looooove to see what the Muslim Ummah can do apart from bombing each other. I mean seriously, what, WHAT is that one glorious thing that the Ummah can do to strike fear in the hearts of enemies by showing them exactly how glorious the Ummah is? Please, share! I’m dying to know. And guess what, countless actually have died. Yet, the secret isn’t out.

I understand it can be complicated what with the seventy two million and a quarter sects we have. The divide alone is exhausting. Besides, one sect’s definition of glory is so acutely different from the others. Not to mention, even before we begin to define glory, we need to define who qualifies to be a Muslim. It is no longer enough to declare there is no God except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Last Messenger, and believe in the articles and pillars of said faith – but you also have to blow up shrines now. Else you’re no good. You also have to say no to birthdays, every kind of cultural event and national holiday and God forbid should you even consider to be inclined to be creative. Doom will find you and – well – doom you.

Also, you must impose the beliefs of that one country over your own people because those beliefs, for some insane reason (probably for lack of your own intellect and tolerance), inspire you. Get real, please. The Kingdom (not even an Islamic concept by the way) of Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabi state. More than half of Pakistan (and the rest of the Muslim world) is not. But does that stop the crazies from forcing it down everyone’s throats? Nope!

As if these problems were not enough, we have corrupt governments, corrupt people, and misplaced anger. The religious fanatics are out to get the liberals just as much as the liberal bigots are out to kill the fanatics. There’s an atmosphere of mass hysteria that keeps blowing up in all our faces every now and then.

The world watches the fireworks.

There isn’t much that can be added to this mix except for maybe I don’t know, a tiny tip, perhaps? Something like freakin’ charity begins at freakin’ home? I mean yes please, build your army and show that perpetrator – the one who just raped and killed a minor in your own city, the one who just killed his wife because he’d had too much to drink, she who just stole a newborn from the hospital, those who kidnapped a man for ransom and then tortured him for fun, those who spread hate and see it bear fruits for them. The list is never ending. And when you’re done with all that, once your own house is in order, once you’ve saved your Titanic from sinking, then, you can cure the world outside of it.

I feel the same way about boycotting products. Many of my friends have taken this stand and I respect their sentiments but personally, I just don’t see the point. I’m not even going to contest the case of the millions of employees around the world, including Muslims, working for products on the ‘let’s boycott this and hurt Israel list’ because we all know that.

I would say I did like the decision of the Presbyterian Church to divest in protest, though. It probably didn’t hurt Israel’s economy but it did send out a powerful message, enough to get a reaction from the said country’s embassy.

Now, if we can just get our mosques to do that…

But that won’t happen. Why? Because chances are (about 99% of them) that your beloved mosque where you’ve just received hidaya after being a Muslim all your life only to find you were following the wrong sect, is funded by Saudi Arabia. They’d rather not boycott. Why?

  1. What they’ll tell you – We cannot make this choice for the followers. You have to do this yourself.
  2. What they won’t tell you – Saudi Arabia doesn’t give a damn and will not divest anything for the sake of humanity because it is much too invested in killing a far greater number of Muslims (the wrong kind of Muslims, mind you) in Iraq and Pakistan and such through ISIS and Taliban and such. Not to mention Bahrain. So sorry. No can do.

So, boycott KSA for killing Muslims now? Let’s not buy any more petrol/gold/pilgrimage to Mecca. Yes, the Pilgrimage – you do realize that Hijaz alone is a huge part of the Saudi economy, right? Can’t do that? Okay, how about boycotting China for the way they’re treating our brethren? Virtually everything we use is made in China. Please, tell me again how will you survive when all the Muslim world produces is – bad news? How about Bangladesh? You have heard about what they’re doing to the Rohingya Muslims there, right?

Usually after such a rant I’m thrashed with queries on the line of so should we just idly stand by and watch and do nothing?

My response: I never said that. By all means, support Gaza. Just don’t make it a seasonal thing. Gaza is not a Facebook profile picture or a cover photo or a placard that one just whips out every time Gaza bleeds. Sure, it makes us feel nice and holy to do so but it doesn’t help the cause.

The only thing that can make that miracle materialize is if we stop the murderers amongst us. Stop the massacre that’s taking place in our own lands every day. And stop blaming the West for it, too. We in Pakistan especially love to do just that by the way. So, I’ll say this to my countrymen – grow up! You are a nuclear power with a fully functional army, air force, navy, intelligence. If you still can’t protect your people, then they probably deserve to die.

In this conflict, I truly find no one else to blame but the glorious Muslim Ummah that is nowhere to be found. In the words of George Galloway – and I’ll leave you with that thought:


So…grand scale drama at Pakistan airports of late encompassing all adventure elements from terrorizing shoot-outs to angry passengers not getting off the plane to airlines refusing to fly to particular terminals for safety concerns.

I am beyond thrilled. This is too much.

What got my attention the most was the fact that my newsfeed exploded about Tahir-ul-Qadri’s arrival and subsequent ‘bad’ behavior at Lahore Airport. Well, yes, I agree. So not cool. And he got what he deserved – Emirates banned him for life from flying them. So, there. His haters had a field day with that, too – lots of jokes and bad puns and all that jazz, and among that, detailed discussions were held regarding what more will Emirates do to avenge this insult? Discontinue flights operations, perhaps?

Well, that did happen. But amazingly, not because Mr. Qadri had held the carrier hostage. Emirates (and Etihad) declared to discontinue flight operations to Peshawar after a PIA carrier was fired upon there, claiming a passenger casualty. To quote a friend here, “soon there will come a time when even PIA will refuse to fly to and within Pakistan!”

Surprisingly, he was the only one who posted anything about this terrible incident. There was not much in the way of a squeak from anyone else in my newsfeed over this. All the concerned citizens who were uproarious about Qadri’s behavior a few hours ago were – well – quiet. And why not? I mean obviously Mr. Qadri is the real threat to Pakistan’s stability and economy; not the trigger-happy-airport-attacking terrorists.

So now I’m thinking – it is okay to raise hell when there’s potential for character assassination (because we love to mock and belittle people, of course) but absolutely no need to waste time worrying when something truly sordid happens because well…Pakistan mein to yeh sab chalta hi rehta hai. It doesn’t matter if the government continuously fails to protect its people against anything at all. It is okay if the state run police kills unarmed civilians in the name of law enforcement – I mean they were like only eight of them, not like eight million or something! And it is perfectly fine for the government to force passenger aircrafts to land not to the nearest airport but to the one that suits their fancies simply because they are incapable of handling the situation on ground/immature/seemingly democratic with tyrannical mood swings. For PML-N, that’s the second time.

But of course, this is all fine. This is Pakistan. This happens.

Well, there’s one other thing that’s perfectly fine. Tahir-ul-Qadri as part of the country’s political fabric.

I don’t care if TuQ is a mullah (a favorite term with many), and has a beard or is too loud and emotional for my exquisite taste or hails from UK, Canada or Mars – if he is against Taliban and wants to be in Pakistan, he needs to be in Pakistan. And so I welcome him. He can refuse to get off as many planes as he likes because that’s not what will compel airlines to stop flying to Pakistan. No, that’ll be the doing of Taliban and ilk who think it their privilege to wreak havoc in Pakistani air and land space, and the utter incompetence of the government to secure the country against that.

As for the tsunami, the inqilab, the revolution, the blah – get rid of Taliban and their ideology, that’ll be revolution enough for now.

Image  —  Posted: June 27, 2014 in It angers me...
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End of May; end of school year; a bazillion grade level send-off activities that all teachers who ever taught my kids throughout the year can concoct, and one of my daughters brings home a recipe that she’s supposed to cook with Mom. Why? And as if that’s not enough, the god-awful paper sheet says ‘make it a fun experience’.

I’m ready to commit suicide. Also, they forgot to include 1 fire extinguisher in the ingredients.

I hate cooking. If I wasn’t brought up on good, healthful home cooked meals and ruined for life for wanting them, I wouldn’t cook. If I wasn’t married to a man who understood good food, I wouldn’t cook. If I didn’t have children whom we’d spoiled and nourished on healthy meals, I wouldn’t cook. Also, I’m educated – unfortunately – and I can read labels and ingredients and health blogs and magazines and oh yes, hubby is a doctor so – if we could consider fast food as food – I. Wouldn’t. Cook!

And then to have my kid with me whilst I cook? Oh sure! What are we cooking? Perfect Chaos with a hint of Hysterical Mother and a side of Don’t Freakin’ Touch That Sharp Thingy glazed with Step The Hell Away From That Stove? How about a tall glass of We’re Never Doing This Again topped with Gritted Teeth to go with it?

Besides, I’m not a fan of that trigger: make it an experience. Why? I don’t want to. What’s with the constant need to add a festive tag to everything we do?

I watch all these cookery shows – yes, I love those and I watch them on a full stomach lest I’m compelled (God forbid) to try any of the dishes they’re showing me how to make – and I listen to all those chefs sharing what an experience cooking was when they were young.

“I always saw Mom cooking something,” declares a celebrity chef proudly as she rinses out her celery, and goes on to elaborate how awesome the experience was.

I can relate to that partly. Mom cooked; always. Because if she didn’t cook, we didn’t eat. It was the same way in her house when Nana cooked; and back in Nana’s house when her mother cooked, and so the tradition had trickled down through generations and households and not just among us but all around us as this was the way of the East. Food from outside was not the norm but a sign of indulgence.

But cooking itself was never an experience as if that word is synonymous to something joyous and festive and fun. It was routine; something that had to be done – like eating or breathing or going to school. I mean of course Mom cooked because well…why wouldn’t she? That was part of her job as Mom. As is now part of mine – or my husband’s or my father’s and they have risen to that occasion countless times – lest a feminist pops a nerve here.

Point is – meals have to be cooked, not bought or ordered. You don’t have to like it; I don’t. And yes, you have to pass on the skill; I will – eventually. But I still don’t see myself making it an experience to cherish and blah. To me, it’s a prerequisite for staying healthy. It’s a prerequisite for good quality family time. It definitely feels awesome when my six year old smacks his lips and declares, “Mom is the best cooker ever!”

So yes, all the things that a home-cooked meal brings to the table with itself are, indeed, to be cherished and amazing and great to experience. But no, not the cutting, the chopping, the blending, the blazing heat of the burning stove, the strong simmering smells that fill my entire house and won’t go away, not the onions that make my eyes water, the meat that won’t thaw in time, not the ticking clock that mocks me more than it helps, and certainly not the dreaded daily question – what shall I cook today?

None of that is a fun experience. And none of that becomes any easier when I have a kid in my kitchen, holding a paper from school that says I have to cook with her and make it a fun experience. Then, I’d rather call up a restaurant and order a take-out.

Now, a clean kitchen – that’s fun 😉

Image  —  Posted: June 10, 2014 in Horrors of Knowing a Writer
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Of Writers & Genres

I was recently tagged in an article that was more a compilation of quotes of some 25 renowned authors. Most of those quotes were dedicated to writing things that haunt us, scare us, upset us; are taboo that nobody wants to talk about. Shock everyone, create controversy and win.

I’m guessing depression sells tons.

Then, somebody left this message for me:

“… write a book on poor, homeless kids of XXX, or anywhere in the world, I am sure you will get a plenty of ‘stuff’ to write about. Use your talents to help the poor and the needy…”

That’s cute. And thanks but no thanks, though, I appreciate the confidence.

I don’t write books about things that scare or upset me. I can’t see why I should. I write about stuff that makes me happy because I believe people need to know that part too about the world I come from. And I believe that that is just as capable of enlightening the readers as the tales of terror and torment that are constantly dished out to portray real life.

Furthermore, if it still needs to be said, real life is made up of sad moments and happy moments, and just because I choose to write about the Happy, doesn’t mean it isn’t real or deep or worth reading about. You can say it’s incomplete, and I’ll say it is just as incomplete as the books dipped in the Sad.

Besides, what if I dedicated my earnings from my happy unreal romcoms to help the needy? Would that help? Or is money earned from romance tainted and can’t be given to charities?

I am amazed at the idea of dubbing one genre more worth one’s while than the other. The why are you wasting your talent by writing This and not That is a rude question. I’ve been asked this enough times to be sore from it.

My answer: because That is not my freakin’ genre.

Every book ever written has a genre, a category: romance, fantasy, humor, drama, horror, creative fiction, non-fiction; the list goes on. Sometimes, the writer chooses a genre but often times the genre chooses the writer. Fantasy chose me. I chose romance. And if you’re a reader who reads neither, steer clear.

Seriously, this is honest advice. I mean well.

Don’t expect Khaled Hosseini to pull off a Tolkien and vice versa because you definitely don’t want to go kite-flying with the Orcs or have them molest a child. Enid Blyton is not Stephen King and will not write Needful Things, and I certainly wouldn’t want to read to my kids about the creatures that might live up Stephen’s Faraway Tree. Sadat Hassan Manto’s idea of love is not what Sophie Kinsella writes about so let them both say what they best believe to be true.

You cannot compare. It is grapes and strawberries. Or grapes and raisins even.

You see, no sensible writer is ever wasting their talent. If I am good at what I write, and the readers determine that and by readers I mean the target market for which I write, then, my talent is not wasted.

If you didn’t enjoy a particular kind of book, and not because it was grammatically or literately atrocious, perhaps it wasn’t written for you. Maybe that book’s genre wasn’t your type. And that’s fine. For every kind of reader there is a writer and for every kind of writer, there is a reader.

It’s all about finding that perfect match.

Just don’t expect a writer to change her genre to suit your fancies. Don’t expect of Jane Austen what you liked about Alistair MacLean, and then demonize her for not doing it right. Shakespeare is nothing but pure genius and if you think otherwise because Hollywood does a better job with drama, your argument is invalid.

The idea is to read and appreciate every writer for what they write best. Now, that will be respectful.

All us writers can live with that 🙂

PS: this post first appeared here.

Image  —  Posted: April 9, 2014 in Horrors of Knowing a Writer
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In the newsroom:

Everyone everywhere is wondering why Pervez Musharraf, the ex-dictator of Pakistan is being tried and not the other 19,689 terrorists who have killed and are killing Pakistanis on a daily basis (while also giving interviews on TV), not the judges who endorsed his coup and not Nawaz Sharif and ilk, and Bhuttos and ilk who well, did everything in their power to ruin the country.

Honestly, are those people dumb? Seriously? Why ask a question with such an obvious answer!

Mushy, I mean Musharraf DRINKS!! Astaghfaar!! That alone is enough to make him an outstanding kaafir and that, ladies and gentlemen, makes him a traitor and he should be punished and – oh wait, *voice speaks in ear piece* update coming in – Imran Khan drinks too.

*Nervous laughter*

Ahem *clears throat* So what? I mean PUHLEEZ! He drinks in the memory of Osama Bin Laden, it’s different. That is allowed. And besides, I cannot bring in personal stuff about IK.

*cellphone with Bollywood ring tone ‘Character Dheela Hai” starts ringing. *Frantically turns it off*

This… his personal life is totally irrelevant, OKAY! Also, his followers (PTI cyber wing) won’t like it and will hack into my account and post pics of feces on my wall and call it a victory. Nothing pretty about that.

Ok then! Next: Bad Mushy…I mean MUSHARRAF wrote about his affairs in his book! Haww! The shame and…what’s that? IK had how many affairs? Nobody knows? Not even IK? Well, he did marry and settle down eventually, didn’t he?

*stares, mortified*

So! Moving on – Mushy…dammit, I mean Musharraf operated on Lal Masjid!!! He cut it open and out flew burqa clad mullahs. Wait, what’s that? *voice speaks again in ear piece* There was only one? Really? Just one?

How so not dramatic. *pout*

Alright then, but the list of Musharraf’s crimes is never ending. He went and bombed Bugti for no good reason. Yes, being an anti-Pakistan warlord, landlord is no good reason. And it doesn’t stop there. He bombed the Sardar while he was in his lavish, cool, water-filled swimming pool in the heart of Baluchistan!! *makes sad face* What’s that? He was in a cave? They have pools in caves? Oh, he was in a cave, not a pool…because he was on the run and hiding there while Pak Army was searching for him!

Oh well, let’s get serious and talk about that fateful PIA flight on THAT night of October!!! Remember that one? Now, that is treason! That is violation of our air traffic laws and India’s airspace and Musharraf had no right telling the pilot where to land! Er…what’s that? That was Nawaz Sharif? It wasn’t Mushy who told the pilot to land in India? Are you sure? Dammit!

Okay then…ON OTHER NEWS! Yeh sher ka bacha hai!! Baday hokar PMN- L join keraga! Iskay paas peacocks bhi theen, lekin usko baagar billi khaa gayi. 21 policemen have been sent notices for letting this horrific, horrific crime happen.

So as you can see, CLEARLY, Musharraf IS a traitor! How can we forget (and we won’t let you either) NOV 2007 when he blatantly and oh-so-savagely removed the Chief Justice from his post!!! How dare he! The lawyers were up in arms and…What’s that? Peaceful protest? No arms? Oh okay…arms but like not armeD! As I was saying, HOW could he do that?!! What’s that again? He got references from the Supreme Court AGAINST the Chief Justice ?

*googles that for more detail*

But… but…but CJ was a NICE guy!!! He said Musharraf’s coup was justified and EXACTLY according to the constitution!!! Oh wait, I can’t say that. Because that’s something that cannot be named/said/ever in a zillion years because it takes all blame away from Musharraf and puts it on every other idiot.

I think I’ll go write about those peacocks now. And you people should just accept it! Musharraf is a TRAITOR, OK! Because I said so! Bas!

Note: I wrote this piece with Shamila Ghyas and needless to say, it was a riot!