Sunday, June 25, 2006

Marriage

From the Washington Post. I like it. When I was younger I would think about getting married and then getting divorced fast just so that people would stop pressuring me to get married. My parents never did, but EVERYONE else around you does. Plus, when boys come over with their parents to meet you, that sucks ass. I hated going through that, which I did. Doesn't happen now but I'm not really home and not really a viable wife with the piercings, tattoos and traveling that I do. People would tell my parents to stop my elder sister from getting a PhD since she would then be too smart for any good proposals.

Another perspective below. Like I say, sometimes you have to decide what to expend your energy on. For these people fighting their norm, society, culture and religion is just too much. Perhaps later on in life. I got through that and did fight and am comfortable with me being me and everyone else just has to suck it up and deal. Now I have time to get to the career part.

Not sure about the title. Why does a marriage of convenience have to be sexless? You just have sex with other people. Tada. Isn't that the point? Duh.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/23/AR2006062301417.html

THE WASHINGTON POST

Muslim Gays Seek Lesbians For Wives
Social Pressures Push Some Into Sexless Marriage

By Ayesha Akram
Religion News Service
Saturday, June 24, 2006; B09

On a Web site for gay South Asians, 27-year-old Syed Mansoor uploaded
the following message last summer:

"Hi, I am looking for a lesbian girl for marriage. I am gay but I would
like to get married because of pressure from parents and society. I
would like this marriage to be a 'normal' marriage except for the sex
part, please don't expect any sexual relationship from me.

"Being an Indian gay person, I believe it is so much worth it to give
up sex and have a nice otherwise normal family. We can be good friends
and don't have to repent all our life for being gay/lesbian."

Across the globe and especially in America, hundreds of other gay
Muslims have started to pursue marriages of convenience--or MOC, as they are
known-- in which gay Muslims seek out lesbian Muslims, and vice versa,
for appearances' sake.

Mansoor works as an accountant in New York and is a devout Muslim. He
abstains from drinking alcohol or eating pork and is particular about
offering early morning prayers.

To his friends on Wall Street, he is a financial whiz; to his parents,
a devoted son. But Mansoor is also part of a burgeoning trend of gay
Muslims adopting marriages of convenience. Hard statistics are hard to
come by, but on a single Web site for South Asian gays and lesbians
seeking such marriages, almost 400 requests had been uploaded.

They ranged from a desperate plea from Atlanta ("I just finished
medical school, and the pressure for me to get married is becoming
ridiculous. I can't have a conversation with my parents without them pressuring
me") to a straightforward one from Texas ("I will not object to her
having sex with other women").

Mansoor credits the Internet for making these marriages a real
possibility for gay Muslims. Gay activists agree and say that in recent years
they have seen a rise in such marriages among Muslims.

Jack Fertig, a co-coordinator for al-Fatiha, a national advocacy group
for gay Muslims, says he comes across at least one such e-mail request
every month.

"It's obvious that this is becoming a viable option," he said. "People
are seeking, looking and trying to make connections that could develop
into such marriages."

Other activists say gay Muslims are resorting to these unions for
reasons of self-preservation.

"Marriages of convenience are the result of gay Muslims wanting to
avoid emotional and physical harm to themselves," says Muhammed Ali, a
board member of Homan, a Los Angeles-based support group for gay Iranians.

Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in much of the Islamic
world. In Iran last year, two gay teenagers were publicly executed, while
in Afghanistan, the Taliban government would torture homosexuals by
collapsing walls on them.

Though gay Muslims in America don't have such fears, they still seek
out marriages of convenience as a way of staying in the closet. Many of
them worry about being ostracized from their families if their secret is
revealed.

A marriage of convenience is the perfect solution, Mansoor said. "It's
a great option," he said. "I get married to a lesbian, we sleep in
different rooms and remain friends. Meanwhile, I can have a boyfriend."

Mansoor is also willing to throw a financial incentive into the deal. A
year has passed since he posted his request on an online discussion
board, and, as yet, he has received no replies. But he continues to hope.
"Now that I have a good job and earn handsomely, my family keeps
asking, 'Why don't you find a wife?' " he said. "I plan to have a marriage of
convenience just to satisfy the world."

Muslim authorities around the world have repeatedly emphasized that
homosexuality is not permissible. Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Society
of North America said there is no flexibility on this topic.

"Homosexuality is a moral disorder. It is a moral disease, a sin and
corruption. . . . No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born
a thief, a liar or murderer," he said. "People acquire these evil
habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education."

Mainstream Islamic scholars also take an unfavorable view of MOCs. The
face of Imam Omar, a scholar at the Islamic Cultural Center of
Manhattan, crinkled with laughter when he was asked about this phenomenon.
"These people are Muslims?" he asked.

Omar receives all sorts of inquiries and is now rarely taken aback. But
a query about marriages of convenience stunned him. "What kind of
marriage is this?" he asked. "A nikah [marriage] in Islam needs to be
consummated. There is no concept of marriage in Islam without sexual
relations."

Although some gay men feel a union of convenience is the best option,
Rachel Sussman, a marriage counselor in New York, said they may not know
what they are getting into. "It's opening up a Pandora's box," she
said. "What happens if his partner falls in love with someone? What happens
if he falls in love with someone who is not okay with him being
married?"

Sussman says that arrangements can potentially lead to depression,
anxiety and severe marital distress.

But Ali of Los Angeles disagrees. He doesn't think MOCs are any
unhealthier than other arrangements.

"If you look at our traditional culture, marriages were usually
marriages of consensus and convenience and not necessarily emotional
marriages," he said. "If two people care enough about each other to help each
other out, who is to say they won't have a good marriage?

Three cheers for Brooklyn

I have been bad and not writing even though I keep thinking of things to write about but at least I am not as bad as Billy who has not written in FOREVER. I guess he has some leeway with the insecure environment he lives in. Not too much leeway though. Saw the England, Equador game today. Becks is too cute. Posh is so not. My weekends are lovely that way. I watch football. I try and catch the other games at lunch when at work, but it is not the same. Netherlands and Portugal on now and it's kind of fun. I didnt recognize some of the English players, but that is because I mostly only saw the Arsenal, Chelsea, ManU and that's pretty much it. Oh wait, West Ham, of course!

Fight on the field. Who knew the Dutchies could get so pissed off. Ha ha. I should be nicer about the Dutch but I find it difficult. Watching this on ESPN and I REALLY hate the American commentators who are so crappy. This will be a theme that I come back to over and over.

Spent a lot of time yesterday reading the Sleepless in Sudan blog, which is unfortuantely now over, which is sad, since it was really good. One has lots of freedom in writing when annoymous. I shied away from that big time and kept my blog more for family and friends to know that I am alive. Unfortunately, the work that I am doing now also requires confidentiality but I will try to endevor to talk about it since it is really cool and I am enjoying it. I have been reminded...no, more than being reminded, I feel justified in loving people as much as I do. I love them. Especially if I don't know them and don't have to get to know them. That is effort. This is effortless. Lots of times I want to reach over and just hug the parents I am talking to, esp this one couple that was struggling with the fact that their son did not want to come home right after school and instead was hanging out with his friends till 8 pm (this was late for them, versus the other parents who were complaning about 2, 3 am) and just give them a hug and tell them, hey, it's going to be alright. You got a good kid here, just communicate. Since I am not a trained and qualified social worker, I am not allowed to say anything of that sort to them. I jus thave to smile and nod and remind them that I am not a social worker and I cannot answer questions such as the following:

How can I get my son to stop talking to his friends on the phone till midnight? (don't buy him a cell phone and turn off the land line)
How can I get my daughter to stop buring down the curtains in the house? (take off the curtains)
How can I get my son to stop stealing liquor from the cabinet? (hide it, dummy!)
How can I get my daughter to stop having sex? (lock her up)
How can I get my son to stop hanging out with his gang? (you can't since they will kill him)
How can I get my daughter to stop cussing at me? (stop cussing at her)
How can I get my son to be obedient? (beat him)
How can I get my daughter to stop calling the cops everytime I beat her? (stop beating her)
How can I get my son to get straight A's in school? (did you?)

It's a fun job and a different part of NYC for me. Later, I will be traveling to do follow ups with people interviewed before and that will be all over, which I am also looking forward to.

As the subject heading says, Brooklyn is the best and so, three cheers for Brooklyn, with it's beautiful people, great cafes, yummy desserts and food and outdoor events all summer long. (The above list really shows my priorities doesn't it?)

L8r.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's day

I am going home to NJ to hang out with my dad...and then back to NYC tonight since I start work tomorrow. I think it will be a short day, like the fisrt day of classes. I am going to be put thorugh some training. I hope it is a short day since I need to get used to being back at work again.

So the Brazil, Australia game is on and we are at half time and because that is the case, the Aussies who serve us at the cafe are playing Australian music. Umm, you must have other musicians other than Kylie in Australia. hard to imagine that a country as big as that, doesn't.

I am hot and sweaty. I like it.

The USA, Italy game sucked ass. I wanted the Italians to seriosuly kick some American ass but they didn't. The USA fans in here, outnumbered by the Italians, were also rude and obnoxious...to be fair, the Italians were no better but I would be really upset if my team wasn't kicking some American ass also.

Did you know that Lindsy Lohan needs to see a therapist since she has a shopping disorder and spends 100,000 USD shopping, everyday.

Where do you get time to do that? I can see that happening. I could spend that much money in a day..for about two weeks and then get REALLY bored doing so. I would buy things for people more than buying them for me and send stuff to my friends around the world since I have always wante to do that, buy outlandish presents for people, and shipping can cost a lot but still, it would get really fucking boring after a while, I think.

Things in SL are going badly. I am getting emails from friends, (thank you Vero and Elaine for keeping me updated), and even our quiet little Ampara town and district is seeing some action. Sucks. Inevitable. Just waiting for the official declaration on that one.

On another but still related note, all you out there reading this, if you got some good Sudan sites or contacts, pass em on to me. I want to go there next.

Time to drive to NJ.

Make sure you all wish your fathers. I need to write about mine since he kicks ass and is an incredible human being and father. I need to make sure I tell him today. I tell him randomly. By email, or letter since I like having that sort of stuff in writing.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Copa Mundial

I love it. I didn't know I woudl be so much into it, but I totally am. The best thing happened this morning. I have spent the last four days watching the World Cup at Smooch, the cafe I keep talking about and is now my second home. I walked in, zero caffeine in my system and the place was jumping and everyone was high fiving me. There is a bond between those of us who have been camped out here and then the new weekend faces since it is Saturday. I have now made new friends. I like that.

I got the job, by the way, that I applied for, for the summer. I start work on Monday as a research assistant for the Vera Institute for Justice (google them and you can see what they do, basically, they are a research institute and come out with great reports etc). It will be a simple 9 to 5 interviewing job, working with urban youth in NYC (a group I don't know that well) and it is in NYC which is the best part. I was getting worried about vegetating on a couch or Smooch for the rest of the summer and now I need not worry and instead, look forward to Sunday brunches properly since I will have earned them.

I need to download photos from the London trip, esp this one photo that I have of EHB passed out like the drunky monkey that he was on some grassy knoll, various boyfriends of his also passing out on top of him, all in tail coats and waistcoats. Everyone should see that once in their life.

The Italy, USA game is in about two hours (Ghana and CZE on right now, great Ghana goal in the first minute and half), and this place is going to be packed with tons of people. If the American team doesn't start winning, I feel that they will stop showing the games in this country. Once we win the World Cup though (not this year, perhaps next time around), we will still not care since it isn't Basketball, American Football or Baseball which are real sports for real men and women. We will do this so that the world can hate us for our superiority some more.

Besos.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Back Home

I had a lovely time in London and Dorset. Thank you Emma for pointing out that I said I was in London and in Dorset. I meant the UK. I use the two interchangeably. I hate geography. Why all the boundaries, why box ourselves this way and categorize, points fingers etc?

Football is a good reason why.

After being inculcated (which I think I have spelt wrong) last year into the insanity that is football (soccer to me and the Aussies), being in America for the World Cup sucks ass. A few observations, comments, suggestions and random fragments of sentences:

Watch the World Cup on Univision (Spanish speaking channel) EVEN if you don't speak Spanish. Watching it on ESPN and listenting to American commentators is hell. Inane commentary, mixed with a feeling that you are watching a baseball game since they use the same slow cadence which is ALL wrong for soccer. It's just bad, bad and bad, but not bad enough to be good. The Spanish speaking commentators say things like Polacko...which I like. The adverts are better on Univision as well as the pre and post game go out to the Ecuadorian, Spanish, Mexican, Hondurian etc neighbourhoods and interview the fans. ESPN would get stoned if they went out there...or ignored.

Americans in NYC are excited about the World Cup in the ethnic enclaves in which they live since it makes them feel more European. They have no idea that Roo's toe was fucked up and debated about and fervently prayed for, for the last several months. How can they watch football in public and cheer on as loud as the immigrant sitting next to them? Have they no shame? It's a nice fad to be a soccer fan for now, just like having babies in Brooklyn is right now.

I need to eat my breakfast now while I watch football at Smoooooch. I love their coffee. And the fact that I can pretend it's Bill's house since there are people here who don't live here, eating good food that they didn't make, and there is a big screen with football on it.

Cheers!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

L O N D O N, London

When we were younger, we played a game in Pakistan, where someone covered their eyes and the rest of ran while that person yelled, L-O-N-D-O-N, LONDON! You had to freeze after the chanting was over and if you moved, something happened. I cannot recall what now, but basically, you couldn't move. Whenever my sisters and I say London, now it must be preceeded by the spelling.

We have a tradition of sending postcards home as well, as many as we can, even if it means that we have a two hour stop over somwhere, just so that we are on the fridge at home. This started with my elder sister and when she started traveling and basically started taking over the fridge. Many times, I send a postcard home that will only say,

I'm on the fridge, yay.
love z.

So, I am indeed in London at this B&B in Dorset. It reminds me of upstate NY, which I have wisely chosen not to tell the Brits I am chilling with since they want to think that there is no other place in the planet that is as gorgeous and wonderful as Dorset. There is, and it is called upstate NY, Ithaca to be exact, up near the finger lakes where my aunt has a farm where we go hang out every once in a while.

I had cottage pie and that was yummy. Esp since it is still a little bit chilly out here, it was perfect. I have to run and get dressed now. More later.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 6, 06.

The fear of the number 666 is known as hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

My mom really wanted George Bush to be born on this day, but he isn't. She was really disappointed about that.

I don't do scary movies but I do want to see The Omen, since in the ad on TV, this woman looks at this kid, (turns out he is the antichrist), and says, it's all for you Damiannnnnnnn while she jumps off a roof with some rope looped around her neck. It opens today in theaters.

Since this is a devil post, I will not mention friends and their recent comments on my blog.

Christians all over the world are praying. 24 hour vigil praying etc. Muslims tend to do that anyway, you know, since we have those five proscribed times of the day, so chances are very high that Makkah is being bowed in the direction of all the time and Allah is being prayed to all the time. Old School arabs figured out math and stuff...this must be part of that smartness.

That is all I have to say. The main thing I really wanted to post was the first sentence.

Oh, I am going to London tomorrow for a wedding (for which I have NOTHING to wear, but at least I have done my grad school application and can hand it in). So, be good and don't miss me since I ain't going to be writing from there...unless they have discovered Mac compatible free wifi in London. It is a major city, right? Hmmmm

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Why can't I be a flapper?

1: I don't have flapper hair. I have a fro that needs attention if cut short and I am not a patient person and don't like to pay attention.
2: I am not tall
3: I don't know what absynth is and I don't want to try it. It sounds like opium.
4: It's not realistic unless, like some Pakistani's recently said to me when I told them I would have loved to have lived in the 20's since they said I had a classic 20's look about me that even though I would have had to be a slave girl since I'm brown, they said, no, you could have been a spy like Mata Hari since that is what educated women from the east did back in the day. I am not good spy material or educated or from the east at this point so, I would have been a slave girl and that is a far cry from being a flapper. Unless the fates smiled on me and I became the slave girl cum flapper overnight sensation but you know everyone would whisper behind my back, there goes the slave girl cum flapper overnight sensation and I would have to work really hard to keep myself new and innovative (and immune to the malicious, jealous gossip) just so as not to be a fad and to be a real and true flapper. That really just sounds like too much effort.
5: I am not lithe
6: I would punch Zelda Fitzgerald if I met her and that would effectively end my flapper days since I would be excommunicated from the cool scene. Maybe I could do the Paris scene instead of the NYC one.
7: I am not a fluent french speaker.
8: According to EHB, the french use less soap per capita than any other country. I like being clean. I like soap.
9: My ass is too big (which I like)
10: I am trying to quit smoking
11: I would want to be the coolest flapper in town and unless that town is Ampara circa Dec 2004 to Dec 2005, I wouldn't be witty enough and therefore would pretend that flappers suck and goth moodiness is in.
12: I would look scary in red red lipstick and white white face powder. I don't know how to apply serious makeup either which is somewhat problematic.
13: I don't wear heels
14: I like dancing to bollywood and hip hop. The flapper dance is cute but a little bit funny for me.
15: No indoor plumbing or electric toothbrushes in the 1920's. That is problematic.

I still wished I lived in Paris in the twenties. I would be the exotic friend of everyone. I would totally play it up as well....for those who know me, and know how I play it up already, imagine me embodying exotic. Coco would have named a perfume after me. Zehra No. 5.

Like Johnny No. 5. He was alive.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

President Ahmadinejad (Iran)

A good letter. I am getting this from another blogger's site. The big news on TV tonight was the 'about face' that the Bush administration has taken in terms of Iran. No US administration has sat across the table from Iran since the hostage situation. Why the about turn?

President Ahmadinejad

La la la (2)


I am being lazy about charging my camera so therefore, I have no photos, unless I keep taking photos from my computer of myself. Wait, i do have one cool photo from that cafe I keep talking about, Smooch. As much as I made fun of it in a previous post, I like it. Good coffee and no one really bothers you and it is literally across the street from where I currently live with my sister. Everyone who comes in there ooo's and aaa's over my computer which is also fun since it is the brand spanking new product from apple. Everyone in that cafe and it would seem NYC has either an iPod or an apple computer. Bill would hate it.

My computer feels slow and I don't like that. It is annoying me. I am going to take it to the shop and get it fixed. Or get more RAM or shit on it. I should know more about computers, but I don't, which is sad.

I was a good girl today and went to the doctor for my check up and I seem healthy but this is without any blood tests etc. Those are coming soon. The docor was plunging his finger into my stomach and asking me if it hurt and I was like, OW, yes it bloody fucking hurts! You are jabbing your finger into my tummy! I then had to tell him if it was pain or pressure I was feeling since pain meant that I had to get my gal bladder checked out. I opted for pressure. I am waiting for a doctor that will not say a word when I tell them I smoke. You should stop. No shit sherlock.

I will stop. Someday. Soon, I hope. I would like to think I am made of stronger stuff. Perhaps I am not. Or I may surprise myself still yet.