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Norouz 2016

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Second year of coloring Norouz eggs at home. Happy with the results! πŸ™‚

May this new year bring blessings, prosperity, good health, and peace to you and your families (amen).

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My first ever attempt at decorating and preparing the Norouz basket. It came out quite well.

I’m trying my hands at arts and crafts things these days and really liking it πŸ™‚

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Time to confess. Confess about something that has been with me for over a decade now. Here it goes..

One day, back in the late 90’s, I was at work and noticed a really nice fragrance. I looked around and identified the colleague who was wearing that fragrance. My first impulse was to ask him which cologne he was wearing. However, I did not. Could not. It seemed too intrusive. Throughout the day I kept thinking about asking him, and then (immediately) rejecting the idea. Later in the day, I finally found my window of opportunity. Somehow, all the other colleagues were away (quite rare) and only the two of us were left in the room. I gathered courage and, finally, decided to give it a shot.

Me: Excuse me. Can I ask you something, if you don’t mind?

He (looking puzzled, probably thinking what my next sentence would bring): Yes?!

Me: Which cologne are your wearing?

He: It’s a body spray called ‘Curious’.

Me (thinking): Oh-My-God! Em-barr-assed! Curious, indeed’.

Me (not showing the embarrassment): OK, thanks.

I wonder what my colleague must have thought at that time. Hmmm, this deodorant really works.. making people curious.

Every time I watch one of those deodorant ads where people are going crazy after the person wearing the deodorant, I am reminded of this incident. I did a google search a few days ago to find out which deodorant it was that made me curious many, many years ago. The only one that I found was this one:

Curious(Most probably) the Curious that drove me nuts over a decade ago.

I have finally found my closure. Rest in peace I can.

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The Pakistan Flag

Here’s wishing a Happy Independence Day to all the Pakistanis, wherever they are. Stay blessed.

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

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It’s the 2nd day of Eid in Pakistan. I know it’s a bit delayed but here’s Eid wishes from me to everyone around the world who’s celebrating Eid:

Eid-Mubarak-Greetings-Cards-2012-01I like this image as it represents the crescent (indication of Eid), the colors and the bounties of nature. On this Eid, I wish for everyone peace, tranquility and joy. In these crazy times, occasions like Eid come as much-needed break from all the insanity (provided you stay away from the Morning Shows being aired on the multitude of local TV channels as they personify insanity and shallowness).

No mindless morning shows for me, thank you!

No mindless morning shows for me, thank you!

I had planned to write this post yesterday (on the 1st day of Eid). However, my procrastination got the better of me. The purpose of this post is to document what symbolizes “Eid” for me (and most of the Pakistanis).

Eid Cards: The traditional Eid cards have long been replaced by emails, e-cards and, more recently, SMS greetings. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to receive an Eid card from a colleague. I think this tradition is something to be cherished:

Eid Card - becoming a thing of the past

Eid Cards – becoming a thing of the past

Chaandraat (the night before Eid): Eid is not just a day to celebrate. There’s a whole build-up to this day. It starts with the month of Ramadan (month of fasting). The end of this month is marked by the sighting of the moon. If the moon is sighted, the night/evening becomes Chaandraat (Chaand=Moon, Raat=Night, in Urdu) or the ‘night of the moon’. Once there is an official announcement of the sighting of the moon, the whole atmosphere changes. You can feel it all around even if you’re sitting in your home. It’s so palpable. The hustle bustle starts and people start preparing for the next day (i.e. Eid day). Some people (more adventurous than me) hold their Eid shopping till Chaandraat. They spend hours in the markets shopping for their Eid clothes, shoes, etc (and being ripped off due to exorbitantly high prices on Chaandraat). Don’t get fooled by anyone who tells you that only women shop on Chaandraat. Men are equally guilty of this practice.

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Shopping on Chaandraat – Oh the frenzy!

Eid Prayers: The Eid day starts with the special congregational Eid prayers. In Pakistan, women do not have congregational Eid prayers. Men go off to offer the prayers and the rest of the family members offer their prayers at home. Breakfast usually happens when the men return from the Eid prayers, and is quite different from routine breakfast.

Congregational Eid Prayers

Congregational Eid Prayers

Wishing ‘Eid Mubarak‘: After offering their prayers, men greet each other in a special way. I am not sure if this is just in Pakistan (or sub-continent) or if it’s practiced in other parts of the world as well. You basically hug each other three times, saying Eid Mubarak, and then shake hands. Sometimes, women also greet each other this way.

Greeting each other on Eid - traditional style

Greeting each other on Eid – the traditional way

Eid Mela (festivities): Kids have the best time on Eid. There are hawkers selling kids’ stuff on Eid. This is due to the fact that kids are loaded with money thanks to the Eidi they receive (see below for details on Eidi). In the bigger cities, the Eid festivities or mela is not as common nowadays as it was over a decade ago. Security concerns have marred the celebrations. However, we still manage to enjoy the traditional festivities. It is said that the real Eid is for kids as they enjoy it the most.

Eid Festivities

Eid Festivities – notice the colors

Eid Dresses: Eid is synonymous with special dresses and accessories – for women & men. In Pakistan, just like in many other eastern countries, festivities mean ‘colors’ – lots and lots of it! These colors are evident in the dresses, shoes and other accessories. ‘The more, the merrier’ is the formula generally used. More color, more embroidery, more embellishments. Here is one sample of this year’s Eid trends:

Eid Dress

Please note that colors and embroidery are not limited to female clothes. It is equally applicable to menswear. Here are some samples:

Menswear

Menswear – we like our colors..

..and embroidery too

Churiyaan (glass bangles): Another thing that is compulsory for Eid celebrations is the churiyaan to match the Eid dress. Usually these are worn in both hands. Again, the more, the merrier.

Glass Bangles

Glass Bangles – sparkle & glitz to match the special dress(es)

Mehndi (henna): is another ‘must’ for women to celebrate Eid (except for the few who cannot stand its smell or ‘fragrance’). The henna designs have evolved over the years, and the effects of globalization and open media can be seen in the henna designs. Traditional as well as Arabic style henna designs are now common. It is also interesting to note the difference in style between Arabic & traditional designs. Nowadays a fusion of both designs is also common. The patterns also vary. When you think of traditional style of henna designs, it is more ‘abstract’ or ‘stylized’. Whereas in Arabic style henna designs, you see flowers and petals. These days, you can have red, black or colored henna designs. This is our version of tattooing! An industry in itself πŸ™‚

Mehndi - Arabic Style

Mehndi – Arabic Style: Less is more

Traditional Design – Give me more!

Mehndi - Traditional Style

Mehndi – Traditional Style

Shoes: The other thing we associate with Eid are shoes. Special, colorful, sparkly shoes. Some of them can feel downright gaudy for people with simpler tastes. However, for majority of women, the embellishments and colors represent femininity, I guess.

Eid Shoes

Shoes – To each their own

Gaudy or Feminine - You decide

Gaudy or Feminine – You decide

Eidi: What is Eid without Eidi! Eidi refers to the Eid gift usually given by elders to younger family members. E.g. parents to children, elder siblings to younger siblings, uncle/aunts to their nephews/nieces, elder guests to the younger members of the family they’re visiting, etc. Usually, eidi is given in cash. Hence, the rush before Eid to get the new bank notes. Nobody likes to receive old, soiled notes as eidi. The crisp, fresh notes smell oh so good. Ah, the fragrance of free money!

Eidi

Eidi – Can you smell the money?

Eid Food: No Eid is complete without sumptuous, mouth-watering traditional food. The Eid after Ramadan (called Eid-ul-Fitr) is also called the meethi Eid (or sweet Eid) and is synonymous with everything sweet.

Sweets: The return of male family members from the congregational prayers means start of Eid food, especially the sweets. For me, Eid sweets refer to siwaiyyan, sheer khurma, kheer, and mithai. Some people also use special Eid cakes. However, Siwaiyyan (sans the dried fruits), and the colorful mithai (sweetmeat) are my favorites.

Siwaiyyan (sweet-laced, fried vermicelli)

Siwaiyyan (sweet-laced, fried vermicelli)

Many families have sheer khurma..

Sheer Khurma (made with milk & dates)

Sheer Khurma (made with milk & dates)

or Kheer on the first day of Eid..

Kheer (rice pudding, South Asian style)

The sweetness of Eid is further enhanced with Mithai (as mentioned earlier):

Mithai (traditional sweetmeats)

Mithai (traditional sweetmeat)

or Eid Cakes, especially used as Eid gifts when visiting friends and family:

Eid Cake

Eid Cake (with ‘Eid Mubarak’ greeting)

Eid food is also sent to neighbors, and guests are also treated with a variety of Eid food.

Meals: To me, Eid lunch and dinner means Chicken Biryani..

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani – You can’t help but overeat!

with fresh salad…

Fresh Salad - Nothing beats it

Fresh Salad – Nothing beats it

and raita (condiment) of any type..

Raita (with cucumber & mint)

Raita (with cucumber & mint)

Raita (with chopped onion, tomato, cucumber & mint)

Raita (with chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumbers & mint)

Personal Favorites: To end this very long post, my most favorite things to do during Eid holidays (4-day long holidays this year) are – catching up on

Movies

Movies

Reading

Reading

Sleeping

Sleeping

and, most favorite:

So, here’s wishing everyone a joyous & blessed Eid-ul-Fitr. Peace (or, as we say, Salam)!

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Steve Jobs, Apple.. Inseparable

I woke up yesterday morning to 2 news. First one was of the birth of a baby girl. The other one, of the passing away of a visionary leader – Steve Jobs.

It was one of those moments when you stop in your tracks and think. About life & Death. About the purpose of life. About our reactions to life & death.

Steve Jobs passed away and a baby girl was born. This baby girl’s elder sister is hardly 2.5 years old and still knows how to use ipod touch. Steve Jobs, your innovation and vision has (and will) affect the lives of so many people around the world. God bless you for that!

To me, it’s a time for celebrating two lives.Β Rest in Peace, Steve, and Welcome, Baby Girl!

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