Category Archives: Life

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.

A Dumb Idea

The mosque when it wasn’t in ruined state.

Who give the dumb idea to demolish part of the mosque? I don’t know. Part of the reason the one in charge says was to force those who pledged money for the renovation, and aren’t forthcoming.

The mosque lies in ruins. All through summer the attendees at the mosque had to pray through sweltering heat in the open. When it’s going to be built? No one has any inkling. The ones who pledged the money are not coming. Meanwhile the mosque presents a dismal sight.

A Big Heart

This happened in San Antonio. Son as is usual with him, likes to get to a mosque at prayer times, and say his prayers there. Sometimes I get out from the car with him to pray inside, but at other times I pray sitting in the car while he goes inside. The reason I do this is when I don’t have socks with me. We have to take off our shoes when we enter a mosque. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m a bit squeamish about walking barefoot.

It was evening, and we heard the muezzin call to Maghreb (evening) prayer on my cell phone. Son directed his car to the nearest 🕌. Son hurriedly strode to the men’s side to make his ablutions, while telling me to find my own way to the women’s side. Men, and women pray in separate halls.

After entering, I was looking here, and there trying to find as to where the women were praying. I saw one woman in a black abaya sitting in the outside hall. I asked her in English as to where we were going to pray. She said no. Perplexed 🤔, I asked her “Why?” She again said no. I was really mystified. With her saying no, no I wasn’t getting anywhere. At the last moment she added to the no — no English. It dawned on me that she was telling me she didn’t speak English. Oops!

I asked her, Arabic? She shook her head. Urdu? Another shake of the head, and then she said, “Pushto”. I’m a Pathan by birth, and Pushto I knew. In no time we were talking, and I laughed at her continuously saying no to me. Since I was a new face, she asked me from where I had come? I told her my Son was on call for a few days in San Antonio. She asked as to where we were staying? Hearing that we were staying at a hotel, she asked me to an evening meal at her home, and stay with her for the rest of our stay there. She kept insisting while I was trying to get out of it.

At the muezzin call to prayer, we turned to pray. After the prayers, she again insisted that we should be her guests. I thanked her warmly, and told her we will do so the next time we come to San Antonio.

I told Son about her when I returned to the car. I was hugely impressed with the lady, and her big heart in inviting a total stranger to her home. Son told me it was Sunnah to invite travelers, and wayfarers to meals, and a place to stay.

San Antonio

Last month Son had to go to San Antonio for three days. He was on call. For a change I wanted to go with him. At the last minute I didn’t feel like going. I told Son, but he wouldn’t let me stay back.

He got free in the evening. We went to see the Sea World. By that time it was closing. We only managed the curio shop. I bought a couple of magnets for our fridge. From Sea World we went the Alamo. It was closed too, except for the outside.

We strolled outside. A Davy Crockett movie was being shown. We watched for a few minutes before seeing the River Walk.

It was very warm, and soon rivulets of perspiration were running down our faces, and backs, and forced us not to continue with the walk. I made Son promise to bring me during the coming winter, and take a day off for us to do the sight seeing.

Son is fond of eating outside food. We had a round of all the places where halal food was available. At Pasha, and Nara Cafe, it was good, whereas at Kohinoor we faced disappointment.

I even found alcohol free Vanilla extract, and other essences like strawberry, pineapple for baking at a shop called Ali Baba. It was a boon, because I had been for a long time after Son to bring home alcohol free products, but Son didn’t have time to do so. They had all the ingredients for making Mediterranean food, and a wide variety to choose from.

I’m glad I went with Son, but hope next time Son does find time to do all the sightseeing we missed.


TJ’s birthday cake

TJ’s (daughter ‘s son) birthday date coincided with Nola’s visit to us. Aware of the date I had told Nola that they didn’t have to bring a cake with them, I would do the needful. I had planned to bake a pineapple cake, but didn’t get time to do so. Son bought an ice cream instead. He had asked me earlier whether I was cake ready, and I gave him a negative reply.

M4 (TJ’s younger sister, the two older ones arrived later from Austin) took on the task of filling the balloons. She has a vivid imagination. She concocted various shapes. Specially cute was the doggie. She even made a leash for him to make him walk the length of our sitting room.

After the meal, cake cutting, photos and video everyone was getting ready for bed, but M4 had an other idea. She thrust a balloon sword 🗡 in my hand, and I had to get ready to fight. She was quick on her feet, whereas I was sluggish. She made me die for umpteen times till we had shrieked ourselves hoarse. My only regret is that someone should have made a video of a granddaughter, and grandma fighting. Some chapters of life are too good to miss.