Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tennis!

So, I love tennis. I may have nothing more to say about it than that. Played for the first time last night...like properly played...though it was lessons so that doesn't really count as playing, but still. I am sore. Very. My upper body gets a zero work out and is very weak so this is an excellent sport to go with for me. It will force me to get some arm strength. Sometimes, when I carry home some grocery shopping and walk for 15 minutes, my arm shakes with the trauma of it. That's the definition right there, of a total sad-o.

Sad-o is a great word. Mick used it on me (I was whining about being away from him..because I am a sad-o) but then I heard my British boss use it too! I was going to credit Mick with creating a cool word but I think it's a part of the Brit lingo, (something I am still figuring out). Lucky for me, my boss didn't use it in conjunction with me. Whew. I would have had to quit my job. I do and seek constructive criticism but when I get it, I get really gutted about it. Gutted is another good Brit word. I think I have heard it used in the States as well, but not in the same way and with the same feeling that the Brits do. I have started picking up Brit words...not a surprise though, is it? That's pretty good though, innit? By the way...when Micky calls me a sad-o, he says it in the sweetest way ever. That's yet another sad-o remark from me. I'm going to tape him and put the audio on here and then you guys will see what I mean (and agree with me).

I was speaking about tennis. It's great. I have immense issues in moving my whole body around, not using my wrists but my elbows and whole body instead and I can't do a proper follow through. I had a one hour lesson and it was very funny to hear the guy shouting at me...in a good way. He was like, WHY are you scared of the ball? Stop crouching down! Direction, please, direction! Follow through, don't use your wrists only!

All in all a good lesson and i am thrilled to be playing a sport and learning how to play one. I am trying to recall and I think this might be true...: I have never really learned how to play a sport before. Not swimming (jump in the pool and don't drown), not badminton (hit the birdie), not soccer (my first broken bone, my wrist, in gym class when I was 14, so that put an end to that), not baseball, not basketball, not cricket (swing; jump and shoot for the hoop; if you can do baseball, cricket is easy). So, actually taking lessons to learn how to properly hold a racket is really great (and there is a proper way to hold the racket...I let go of the my way or the highway and I'm special and rules don't apply to me attitude pretty fast once I figured out that just placing my thumb closer to my fingers and not in a wayward way which I wanted to, made a huge difference).

Lessons will have to take a three week break while I go off and get married but am realllly looking forward to the next one...which is where I will re-learn everything since I will have forgotten it by that point. Oh well. Maybe I will just take a racket and swing it around and get practice. And do push ups to get some arm strength going. Micky is going to have real competition.

Next things to learn: Cello and Golf. I wonder if they have lessons for that here. Or the piano. Or violin. Any musical instrument that doesn't require me to blow into it. My lungs would never cope. Also need to learn Luganda...though most people speak English out here but I have a real issue with not being able to speak or at least follow along with context if I live someplace. Really annoys me. Feels like you are half under water most of the time. It's amazing how much ambient noise and sound are actually conversations and the amount we can pick up about where we live and how we live through that.

I was going to hit publish for this post right there, but realized that there is little finesse to my writing actually. I could do better. End with a flourish or something. Or at least some coherence?

Maybe next time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Visitors....toooreeeroooreee (creepy sci-fi music)

I have a cluster maps thing on the right hand side on my blog. Scroll down and you can see it. I am obsessed by it. Only because of the random places people log on from to see my blog. The Uganda blob on the map is obviously me. And Micky...I make him read my blog everything I put something on it so that counts as two people. Though just one click. Such efficiency.

Have had this cluster map for a while but they recently archived it..which is a good thing since it was just becoming one big red dot over the world and you can't really see what's going on then. Since I have started writing again, have had about 184 visits. I have more facebook friends than that, but I am pretty sure they are not clicking on my blog..and not from the Middle East. I am pretty sure that I currently do not have friends in the Middle East...or in Ukraine. Or in Israel, Senegal and Argentina (or is it Peru?) to name just a few of the lonely one off clicks to my blog. Who are you people? I know I come on and ask every once in a while...WHO ARE YOU?? but that's only because it is fascinating to know that people are logging on and reading me, but I don't know them and they don't know me. Why would you even want to know me? I'm not that scintillating regardless of what I tell Micky every day about my never ending charms.

Tell me people, who are you? How in the world did you find me?

Feeling like home

It is beginning to feel like home now. I was getting all crabby about it right at the start but realized, I am a dum dum who likes to create her version of home wherever she goes and that's not always possible..not only is it not possible, it's dumb to do that since it closes you off to all sorts of experiences and why would I want that? Micky on the other hand, loves to go jumping off the cliffs of his comfort zone..which is why I love him. I think he's fearless and it's a good counterpart to my private fear filled life.
He seems to be more the cautious one...he certainly gives off that impression but really, it's me who is way more cautious, totally risk averse and he will happily put on a helmet (that's his cautious side) and just jump.

We had planned to go away this weekend but explored Kampala instead. We got into a car and just drove around to places that we had heard about and wanted to check out. Health clubs mostly. We want to play a sport. Badminton is normally what we like to play but with the wind, we need an indoor court. Turns out both of us are going to plan tennis instead. I can't play and never have and M plays badly so we are guessing we might be somewhat matched up. We go tonight and have the first game. Very exciting. I got an instructor for the first session so that I can at least get an idea of how to hold a racket and what I should be doing instead of just pretending that I am Venus Williams and getting really frustrated that I'm actually not.

We also found a great place to dance. I have not danced in ages and I love it and was really very pleased that close by to our place, is a bar called Iguana, which is where most people end up going at night. It's a real party town, Kampala, by the way. People get home at 6 am. We are still lame and get there early and leave early, but I have a plan. It's called a nap. Like I used to in NYC. To get me prepped for the long night ahead, though I discovered much to my joy and possibly Micky's doom, good music will wake me up and I need nothing else...cept for maybe some more stamina. I was getting a good workout dancing around and pushed myself harder than I do when exercising...it's just way more fun to dance than run. Running has it's lovely moments though.

Speaking of running (none of which I am doing right now)...I read the Murakami book. What I think about when I think about running. Or some long winded title like that. I LOVED it. Adored it. I am a long distance, neither quality nor quantity, runner. I love the long runs and don't do fast. I can't even really call myself a runner. It's more like a trot but I still love it. Micky does fast and short runs but I am happier going off and just being out there for an hour. And following random thoughts and just letting everything go. It's brilliant and I would love to find a place to run in hilly Kampala, but till I get fitter, that just ain't gonna happen.

We got some more things for the house, we made some better meals, things are looking up. It will most certainly feel like home when we get back from our three week wedding break. I know what to expect, I know where most things that I need are, we have a carpet in the house that I love, and a lamp as well, all my spices that I need and those that I don't have, I now know to bring them from home. It's perfect. So...yay for Kampala, my new home.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Painting weekend!

Mick is working for VSO out here (no, not as a volunteer...first question he gets asked: Where's your placement?). The VSO volunteers in Kampala, there are about 30 of them (disclaimer: I know very little about VSO and am still learning...my info is not necessarily correct!), got together this weekend (most of them, not all) and were painting Ward 3 at Mulago Hospital. Ward 3 is where malnourished kids come for treatment. It was really fun and I have some photos which have miraculously loaded onto my work computer. It's a real strain to have to re-learn an IBM computer. I was using one previously at work but not for play and it's the play part that I have to learn again.

Anyhow, we went both days but not as early as everyone else but we had an excuse for the second day we went...we made lunch. A huge biryani for the carnivores and some pasta for the vegetarians. Very fun, met good people and life in Kampala settles down some more (just as we up and leave for three weeks for our wedding). I am supposed to be blogging for work and will start doing that soon and even though I work for the Red Cross, I think there will be a combination post on VSO and the Red Cross. Red Cross is all about volunteers afterall and since M started working for VSO, there's been lots of thoughts I have been having about volunteers and what it all really means...for now...photos for your viewing pleasure...

Actually, the internet is being bad and won't upload my photos....(I am blaming the internet and not my own IBm deficiencies...)..photos later, post now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Rozee.Pk

I'm a livelihoods person. It is only fitting that I write about a friend's website that I had known about in the back of my head but only just fully looked at today. Rozee.Pk. Rozee means....livelihood! It's a jobsite for Pakistanis looking for jobs in...you guessed it, Pakistan! Monis was kind enough to give me a quote for my blog:

ROZEE.PK
is Pakistan's most powerful recruiting platform used by over 1,000,000 professionals and 20,000 employers. Even Zehra uses it. She would be an asset to any organization that does not have a drug screening policy.

What a nice guy. He's the CEO of Naseeb networks (some of you might know Naseeb.com..it's like Match.com but for Muslims). I got onto Naseeb at its inception and was pretty quickly banned for writing down my hobbies of coke and sex. I think I also lost my password and did only get onto it since my younger sister wanted me to be on it. We just wanted to check it out since we are bitches and wanted to laugh at people but as you can see when you visit the website, there have been great sucess stories about people meeting and hooking up and finding real love. In a place like Pakistan where dating is still mostly frowned upon, what a great way to find someone rather than being set up by your extended family and parents.

I think it's very cool that Pakistan has all these things now. Very much needed. Rozee.Pk has a accompanying blog that has posts on how to write a good CV, what the hottest jobs and trends are, making decisions about your career and info on physical and virtual jobs fairs (Rozee is the first to host such events).

My fave article, from which even I learned something was the one on writing a good CV. My fave quote from that article is:

Create a professional email address, preferably with your own name e.g. “omar.khan@hotmail.com”. Don’t use a humorous or inappropriate email address such as “lover_boy@hotmail.com”. This may make a recruiter smile but won’t fetch you an interview.

So, go check it and let Monis know what you think. Tell him Zehra sent you.

And no, coke and sex are not my hobbies. They are necessities.

Update: For all you concerned citizens out there, I don't do coke. And I am not a sex addict. Thank you for all your emailed concerns though. Much appreciated. It was artistic license. And a dig at Monis.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moment of Truth

For the last couple of nights, we have been seeing promos for Sach ka Saamna. It's based on an US TV show called Moment of Truth (I think that's what it's called). It's like Who wants to be a millionaire but the truth will get you there (translated tag line of the show, the last bit). Haven't seen the US version (or heard of it before this Indian version of the show). We got intrigued and did watch it last night...in complete horror (!!!) at the questions being asked. It was the last thing I thought about before going to bed last night.

We thought it would be a dumb show but Jesus H Christ. The questions they ask can be answered in so many ways but it's a yes or no show. What I love about Indian TV is how they can take a show and make it so Indian. Unapologetically. India's Got Talent is another favorite and will get a post on it's own. Getting back to this show...

The questions being asked got more and more personal. And horrible. The woman who was up didn't win in the end and she was like, ummm, it's not true and the host was just like, umm, sorry, the polygraph is the only one who can make that decision. The question she lost on (spoiler alert) was: Would you sleep with another man if your husband would never find out. She said no, but the polygraph in the sky said she was lying.

The whole time she was answering terrile questions about her mom, kids, and husband and I kept thinking, it's ok, they'll forgive her since she'll win lots of money and everyone will be happy. Now, she has no money, and her whole family hates her AND, the worst thing in an Indian society, EVERYONE FREAKIN KNOWS!

The show ended and I was thinking if I could go on a show like that and decided immediately that there was no way and turned to Micky and told him to go onto the show since he is such a good clean boy and he looked at me in panic and was like, HELL NO. I then started asking him the horrible kinds of questions from the show and he stuck his fingers in his ears and started humming.

Once M resurfaced as a human again, we got to talking about the show and that it's not fair that you can ask questions that are about thinking or feeling. Like in a parallel universe where your actions have no consequences, would you sleep with another man if your husband would never find out? have you ever thought about cheating on your husband? (Micky said he would answer yes to that since his brain works in a way where even if he thinks another girl is hot and that he would do her, that constitutes cheating...how sweet. But really, you can't control if you think someone else is hot...and that you would do them...that's human nature! It doesn't constitute cheating in my book). It's about your brain getting the question down to an essence really and concentrating on what you think the answer is. But only super spy brains work like that. The rest of us are screwed. It's the thought police coming to get you.

Anyone seen the American version of the show? Is it really horrible too?

Have stolen episode one from youtube for your viewing pleasure. You can follow along even though it's in Hindi. The questions flash up in English as do the answers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kitchen Stories.

Why is it considered rude to have a guest or someone wash their hands at your kitchen sink? At the office two days ago (my first day here), the woman helping me out with my lunch looked at me shyly and was like, is it ok if you wash your hands here?

I grew up washing my hands at the kitchen sink. The only thing my mom didn't want us to do was spit in the sink since I guess that's where our dishes were. Though, if they are in the sink, they are dirty and it's not like my spits going to make it any more dirtier.

I do the same with guests at my place. Direct them to a place to wash their hands outside of my kitchen when the kitchen sink is about 2 feet away. Is there a reason we do this other than pretensions of humility that the dirt on someone's hands are is far superior to my dirty dishes? I am doing them a favour by letting them use soap and water in my house and practice good public health. I have started washing my hands obsessively, by the way. All the hygiene promotion sourse work I did rings in my ears all the time, especially since I seem perpetually covered in dust. I got some Dettol soap, especially for the kitchen sink.

Speaking of kitchen sinks...ours got blocked last night. Actually, last night, all in all, was a bad night. We cooked our first (and I sincerely hope our last) worst ever meal of our shared life. Neither of us ate much of the steak and mushrooms we made.

The steak was freaking me out and the mushrooms were freaking Micky out. As M put it:
It all tastes too real. As if the cow and the mushrooms were just walking around two minutes ago and we just cooked it.

Perhaps we are too used to processed foods (I tend to buy organic when I have the chance, so not sure how much that argument holds water but it sounded good last night when nothing else came to mind as to why we hated our meal so much).

We ate chocolate and beer instead. Thank god for small miracles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Seriously?!?

Am feeling seriously annoyed by this photo on the AlertNet website. It's the photo of the day.


An Afghan woman wearing a burka and platform shoes squeezes past a donkey on a suspension bridge over a river in Kashem district of Afghanistan's Badakhshan province.
REUTERS/Tim Wimborne


Why am I annoyed? Not only because the photo when you click on it is named burkadonkey but also because for some reason people seem to think that capturing a woman wearing a burka, with gasp, platform shoes is newsworthy or photo worthy. As if women who cover up have no sense of style and that it's incongrous in some way. It's not.

Check out the blog, hijabstyle where it's all about hijab and style. The article the link takes you to is about top designers who are trying to break into the hijab market. As a former hijab wearer, I can tell you that my sense and desire for style remained intact and it would have been ridiculous to assume otherwise. It's a whole different matter that the regime people live under will stone you for having a sense of style and that is not what this post is about. It's about me taking umbrage at the way in which the photo is showcased and captioned.

So, please people, stop with the stupid photos of women in burkas who show some style and thinking that it's some new discovery. It's not.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My New Home: Kampala, Uganda

Here I am...in Kampala, uganda. As of about ten days ago. They have wireless here. Sitting in the Ugandan Red Cross office (first day) and it's FAB. I love it. It's quiet and since no one really knows me or what I am doing here, no one is asking me to be in meetings or coming over and talking to me. I love it. I need the time and space for a bit to just be able to get some work done.

Have already moved into and had first weekend of home rehab on the new two bedroom flat. Flat makes it sound like an apt building. It is and it's not. It's part of a complex of five apts, basically. Not free stnading but not stacked on each other either. I didn't want to have to do that anymore. I was despairing of it when I moved in but I thin it's because I did it by myself and once micky came back, it was OK and we did have a good weekend giving it some loving touches. Photos soon. Have switched computers yet again but have not moved everything over as yet. Will get on it, soon enough.

Am hoping to be blogging more regularily..and in fact, will be blogging for work (once they sort out my contract issues)...Will let you all know where that is...

Yay for Kampala...it is lovely and I do need to write about it and I will but i am starting off slow...an teaser, an intro if you like, just to let everyone know tha I have moved.