All posts by sheenmeem

A Bad Day

Since the time I was back, we were low on supplies, and needed everything under the sun. Twice during the day God saved me from accidents. I used to think driving was safer here, but it’s not. There are people on the road who disregard their own safety, and have total disregard for the safety of others. They drive as if they own the roads, and the lesser mortals (in their eyes) have no claim. Honking is so rude, and they indulge in it whenever they feel like doing it.

I don’t know why Son chose the cart we use to bring our groceries inside? Usually Son helps in bringing in our purchases. That day he was in a hurry to get to the mosque for the evening prayer, leaving me to do the needful. Every step of the way things were falling, and I was picking them up. I wonder how does he manages when he brings the things in?

My bad day wasn’t over. I was feeling sleepy, and didn’t feel like going for a walk. I was thinking of Son that if I didn’t go out with him, he will slump before his laptop instead. I walked sleepily after him, and that was when I hit the road flat in the face. My knees, nose, and the right side of the face took the burnt. The pain was exacerbated. Son helped me to our home. Blood was dripping nonstop from my nose. Son was aghast at what had happened to me. He conferred with Nola, as she took a look at me through FaceTime. Seeing that I hadn’t broken any bones (thank God), Son cleaned my injuries with alcohol, and bandaged me, giving me painkillers to dull the pain.

The next day I went to see my primary care physician. He took a look at my injuries. My face is healing, but my knees are in bad shape, and they will take a while to get healed. A lesson to me is not to go on a walk when I’m in dire need of sleep 💤.

Fresh Air

Back home the first thing I noticed was the stale air in the apartment. It was one thirty in the morning I couldn’t do anything about it. Knew I couldn’t blame Son for it too. He had been away from home most of the last two months, and upon returning for short periods of time was tired in dire need of sleep.

The next day I tried to air the apartment by having open doors, and exhausts turned on. No help there. It didn’t clear the air. I could take it no longer. I rolled the blind in my room, and opened one of the windows. It was stuck. I had to practically wrestle with it to make it go up a few inches. It looked nobody needed to open it before me. I sniffed appreciatively the air in my room after a few hours. It smelled fresh.

As the evening approached, I felt apprehensive. I didn’t know how the blind in my room worked. It wouldn’t come down. I tried to pull it downwards while afraid of damaging it. Son was away in Los Angeles. I was on my own. What was I going to do? I enjoy reading a book before sleeping. I would be on view to the outside world if I turned on a light. Thank God he was free to answer the phone. Normally I rarely phone , but send a message when I’m in dire need of something. He told me to gently tug it down. It worked that way. All right in my world!

Where Did it Land Me?

My two months stay was coming to an end, and I had to catch a flight from Islamabad. I refused the invitation to the wedding of a relative, but accepted the Walima invite on the third day of the wedding. It was a mistake. I shouldn’t have gone there, cause it was the last day before the flight which was early the next morning. I should have stayed back at home, and rested before the long journey ahead. The whole day was tiring, and I didn’t get any respite in resting my poor feet.

Traveling in economy class is sheer hell. You sit in a cramped position aggravated by the person sitting in front of you who tilt their chair into your face as soon as the plane gets into the air. With aching feet I got through the customs, and immigration counter, although the official mercy fully was really quick. The drawback was the multitude of passengers, and waiting in line was tough. At various moments I kept thinking I was going to drop to the floor with fatigue.

Next step was the location of finding the rest of my bags. Son was supposed to come for me, but when I phoned him there was no reply. It was then I found out that he was up in the air coming back from Austin. There were two options— waiting for Son to arrive, or take an Uber to get home. Son was arriving at Hobby airport while I had landed at Bush International. While I was trying to decide, Son sent me a message to stay put while he came to get me.

I waited inside a resting area, but when an employee told me she was locking up, I exited to the outer area. Half an hour later, I realized that when I was loading my other two bags on to the cart, I totally forgot my carryon in the baggage area. It had all my important stuff. In near panic, I rushed to the door from where I had exited a while ago. Since the door opened from the inside only, I decided to get through when the inside travelers were coming out.

An airport employee yelled at me to stop. She said I couldn’t do that, it was illegal. My dashing through the door would have the airport alarms ringing, and police would have come, and I could have been sent to jail. Thank God I escaped that fate. She thought I was up to no good, and was mad at me. I held my hand up in her face to stop her tirade, and told her to listen to me, explaining about my carryon. She relented, and told me to stop where I was, and wait for her to come back to me. It was the longest twenty minutes wait of my life. She took me inside through another door, and from behind a counter, without even knowing my name, she brought the carryon to me. Probably it was the only one there. You can’t believe how happy I was. Relieved beyond measure I thanked her, kissed her astonished face, and walked outside.

A Mishap

Coco (daughter in law) and I went to Charsadda to attend her sister’s bridal shower. It was raining copiously the day we started from Peshawar. It was non stop raining when we ventured on the road. My late husband’s first cousin had died a day before. I couldn’t make it to the funeral. We decided to go first to the cousin’s house, and then drive back to attend the bridal shower.

Actually we had to attend two functions. The second one was a dinner at the bride to be in laws’ home. I wish I had taken some pictures, but I was totally drained out, and kept falling asleep through out the function.

We stayed for three days at our village home. I ‘m still unable to sell off my home, and land in the village. The buyers give pitiful offers which I can’t accept. My property is worth more.

A mishap happened on our return to Peshawar. Our roads are terribly narrow. With the influx of cars, trucks, buses, wagons, and motor cycles, it’s a wonder we arrived back in one piece. Another vehicle wouldn’t give me any space to get ahead of it. It kept driving in the center of the road. At one point where the road widened a bit I tried to overtake it. It scraped the side of my car. I kept going. I didn’t want to see the damage inflicted on my poor car.

We don’t have car insurances here, so it was no use stopping.

The driver had other ideas. He over took me again, and wouldn’t let me get through. In frustration I stopped. Imagine his audacity in telling me, “I didn’t want to let you pass me, why did you do it?” His ego got hurt by a woman getting ahead of him.He came to pick a fight with me, and wouldn’t acknowledge his own wrongdoing.

First Impression

Istanbul Airport

I met this couple at Islamabad airport, while waiting for boarding the plane to Istanbul. We got talking, and I found out that they have been living in Vienna for the last twenty three years. Her husband was helpful in finding me the direction of Qibla, so I could say my Isha prayer, and then later in the early morn reminding me of Fajr prayer. The woman was reserved, not a smiley face there.

We boarded the same plane. Our paths were going to diverge after Istanbul — theirs to Austria, and mine to US. I usually use the minuscule restroom an hour before disembarking. To my dismay someone had vomited into the tiny basin, and left an array of used paper towels littering the area. Stoically I cleaned the wash basin, trying not to puke 🤮 myself at the sight, and smell of it. It took me sometime.

While I was finally doing what I needed to do, when the door started banging. Naturally I couldn’t open the door. Ignoring the voice at the other end I continued. The person wouldn’t stop banging the door. I told the person to go use another bathroom. There were three more in the same area, but the person kept banging, and shouting at me. Irritated beyond measure, I hurriedly cleaned my teeth, and stepped out. Imagine my surprise when I saw the lady from Vienna berating me for the use of the restroom telling me that I have kept her waiting when I should have stepped out the minute her majesty drummed at the door.

I had cleaned the area before using it myself, that’s why it took me a little longer to get out. The other ones standing there were sympathetic, and let me get off steam. My feelings — a manner less person. A first impression doesn’t last contrary to what they say.

Traffic in Peshawar

Traffic is awful in Peshawar. Narrow roads have been made more minuscule by our ‘dear’ Prime Minister Imran Khan who was going to run metro service through the city. No sign of it though. The infrastructure has made the city more uglier, and vehicles barely move at all. There is utter chaos on the road. Nobody follows traffic rules, and with the influx of motor cycles on the road driving is one big hazard. The motor cycles scrape against the car when the riders higgledy piggledy want to get through. You never know who is trying to cross you on your right, or left side, and you are trying not to hit someone else car, and not to get hit by others.There is ear splitting honking going on, and everyone is in a hurrying mode.

I used to keep a driver whenever I was in Peshawar. Last year the chap I hired to drive me to, and fro was an extremely rude person. I was at his mercy when he deigned to make an appearance, and his majesty would drive me so I could run my many errands. I now have a horror of keeping a driver.

This year I’m driving my manual car (I keep it jacked up when I leave for my other homeland) whenever the need arises, or use a rickshaw when I don’t feel like driving. Believe me I’m happier that I don’t have to deal with the likes of my previous driver.

When I reached here I was trying to avoid using my car. I had forgotten to deal with the clutch, and with the jam packed road conditions here I didn’t know how I was going to cope. Everything is the opposite of what’s back home. I would turn on the wipers instead of the indicator. The indicator is on the right side of the steering wheel here. Son had come with me, but his leave spanned fifteen days only. It was over soon. I crammed as many things on my doing list while he was here. With his departure I was on my own again.

I had to invite some people to dinner, and it couldn’t be arranged at home. The guests were a large number. I invited them to Peshawar Club instead for a buffet at eight in the evening. Now the question arose how Coco (daughter in law) and I were to reach there to welcome them? We asked Coco’s brother B to take us in his car. The party was in his, and his bride’s honor.

There was fifteen minutes to eight left, and he didn’t come. I had started to perspire at the thought that being the host I won’t be present to welcome the other guests. It was really bad manners not to be on time. With nervous fright I managed to drive my car to our destination. I’m glad I took the plunge. Since then I have become reacquainted with my manual car. Masha’Allah!

The Road to Swat

It was Son’s brother in law B’s wedding day. We were quite late in reaching our destination which was a wedding hall in Chakdara. Whereas most people followed the old road to Swat from Tahtbai, we went on the newly built motorway. This was a longer route, but smoother than the old one, and had less traffic.

In the evening before the wedding the boy’s parents had invited their relatives. The event was held at home. It was colorful, first with the girls carrying thals of mehndi, and candles dancing on the dais, and later on men doing the Hatyn ( Peshawari dance).

The next day was the wedding day when we went to Swat. The boy’s parents had arranged the lunch for the guests there. We returned in the evening via the old route. The road was in terrible condition, and our car rattled with every bump. We feared we would be the last ones in the wedding party to return to the groom’s home, but were pleased when we came to know that we were ahead of the groom, and rest of the wedding party.

B’s friends had blocked the gate to the house with a vehicle. They demanded money to let anyone into the bridegroom’s home. They made a ton of money with B vowing to wreck vengeance upon them upon once their turn to get married came.