Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yes, Zenith Does Make Qurbani Easy

Here is the brochure to prove that Zenith offers hassle free Eid packages for this year.

See the previous post for more information.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Easier Way to Celebrate Eid al Azha in Lahore

Every year Muslims commemorate Abraham's obedience to God, and his willingness to sacrifice his own son, by offering an animal sacrifice on Eid al-Adha. There are two celebrations whose basis come from the Quran, that are celebrated by tenants of the Islamic faith all over the world. The dates for both are determined by the lunar calendar. In 2008, Eid al-Adha is expected to fall on December 8th. Eid al-Adha is popularly known as "the big Eid." In Arabic this translates to "Eid al-Kabir," and in Urdu it is commonly called "Bari Eid."

The most important event that takes place during this holiday is the sacrifice of an animal. Each family will purchase a goat, sheep, cow, bull or camel for this purpose. After the animal is slaughtered, the meat is divided between family members and given out to the poor. In orthodox Islam, the sacrifice is not meant to have an atoning quality, such as in the Judaic sacrificial system, but is meant to serve as a reminder of the prophet Abraham's unwavering faith and obedience.

This year in Lahore, families can celebrate Eid al-Adha without transforming their garages into butcheries. Zenith, a store that specializes in fresh meat, is offering all inclusive qurbani (sacrifice) packages. How does Zenith make it easier?

Continue Reading Here

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What to Wear to Pakistani Wedding

For a foreigner, figuring out what to wear to a Pakistan wedding can either be a great delight or a big headache. The first time I went to a wedding in Lahore, I wore the wrong kind of clothes on each and every function! These tips should help you avoid making the same faux pas. Many of the same traditions take place in India, particularly in Muslim weddings. The way people dress in Bollywood films is a pretty good representation of what the upper class would wear to weddings in Pakistan.

The Basics

Pakistani weddings generally take place over three to four days. You have three major functions: mehndi, barat, and walima. These may be preceded by a more intimate function called the mayun, to which only close friends and relatives are invited. You may also attend a mungni, engagement party, or a dolki, dance party, well in advance of the main functions.

While in the West it is only the bride who really gets decked out for her wedding, in Pakistan everyone dresses to impress. Ladies attending a wedding may get their hair done, make-u applied, hands painted and body waxed at the beauty parlor on the day of the event. The closer you are to the family, the more expensive clothing you should wear. Many times immediate family members get new sets of jewelry custom made for each day of the wedding. Most people prefer to wear new sets of clothes for each function as well. You are expected to spend more on making yourself look good than on giving a present to the bride and groom. It is important that the closer you are to the bride or groom, the more expensive and extravagant your clothing should be. If you do not dress appropriately, it will be seen as an insult to the family. You may get away with it if you're a foreigner, but you will certainly feel out of place if you are not dressed to the hilt.

Ladies in Pakistan match everything, so when shopping for wedding clothes you must make sure to match a purse, shoes, bangles and jewelry to your suit. Taking a swatch of the fabric with you while shopping can help with matching.

Read more and see photos here

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pastel Trio

When we went on our trip to Pakistan's Northern Areas in early September, the guys all decided to wear shalwar kameez. They did not, however, discuss what colors they were going to wear. The fact that they ended up in cotton candy colors is hilarious.

This photo was taken when we were held up by a landslide blocking the road. It took 24 hours just to get from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, when it normally takes about 14 to 16 hours. Although the guys tried to blend in, we still looked pretty "ghora." (foreign)

The Story of the Beggars

I've recently started giving out little packets to beggars I meet in the street, at traffic lights, or knocking on my door. So far, I've had some interesting reactions. Some have been encouraging, others not so much. Here's the latest:

Newspaper Boy

A young boy selling newspapers on Walton Road seemed quite excited to get a toothbrush, soap and toothpaste. His stone faced expression turned into a huge smile when he accepted the bag.

Whistle Man

After I gave the bag to the newspaper boy, a man started frantically blowing a whistle and staring at our car. My friend Ericka said, "I think he wants one too," so down went the window and I beckoned him over. He asked if there was food inside, and at this point I didn't have the wheat so there wasn't. Nevertheless, he seemed happy and continued blowing his whistle with a smile and salute as we drove off.

Turbaned Old Man

I spotted a crippled old man in a white turban in Defence market and called him over to my window. His eyes lit up when I gave him the bag, and as I smiled, I realized my folly in giving a toothless old man a toothbrush! Although he probably didn't have much use for the toothbrush, he hobbled off with a gleam in his eyes.

Street Salesman

I offered a bag of wheat to a street salesman who had small cleaning cloths on offer. He wasn't interested and scowled at me as if I had wasted his precious stop light time. I decided not to offer things to men who were already holding a lot of stuff.

Whining Woman

There is an old woman who sometimes sits outside of Pace in Y Block, DHA. She's always moaning and complaining about food, and she'll follow you to your car and press her face against the window until you drive off. She constanly invokes Allah and tries to look as pathetic as possible. I gave her some wheat, and she kept going on and on about food. I said, "Dekho, yih khana hai!" (Look this is food!) even though I'd already told her it was wheat and she had seen it. It seemed that she actually did not want food, but wanted money. A few others have actually refused to take wheat and have asked for money instead.

Sticker Boy

Usually I run and hide in my car before the little boys selling stickers can get to me. This time I happily gave him a hygiene kit and some wheat. I don't think he'd ever seen a toothbrush, so I had to explain how to use and how he shouldn't swallow the toothpaste. He grinned from ear to ear and asked me, "Sticker lena?" (Take a sticker?) I declined, say bye and was on my way with more wheat packs ready in the back seat.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lost in Translation

Yesterday the maid was really harping on me for a raise. As I've said in previous posts, she is already overpaid compared to the domestic help of anyone else I know. She kept telling me to please ask "bhai jan" about the raise. Bhai jan means something like "dear brother" and that's how she refers to my husband Duarte. I told her she had a good salary and we weren't going to give a raise. Then I sent her off with some wheat flour that I'd picked up to distribute to the poor.

Now today I watched her interact with Duarte. He said he thought she might have asked him about a raise, but he doesn't understand Urdu save a few words like tea, water, hot, cold, and things like that. He certainly can not discuss salaries and raises in Urdu. Well, what he tends to do when he doesn't understand is to say "thik hai," which means "ok." So here the maid was asking for a raise, and he was saying ok! No wonder she won't let me have any peace about it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ramadan in Lahore: Fasting, Feasting, or Both?

This is a result of a team effort by three Americans who are crazy enough to call Lahore their primary place of residence.

Props to:

Coty Coleman:The Photographer

Matt Dickey: The Driver

Heather Carreiro: The Visionary/Producer

One of the most amusing things to outsiders about the month of Ramadan is that it is a much, if not more, a month of feasting than it is of fasting. Shops and schools close early. People meet up with friends and family nightly to enjoy breaking the fast together. Many workers and drivers are grumpy during daylight hours because they've stayed up most of the night eating. Some people flip-flop their entire schedules around, eating during the night and sleeping during the day. The boldest proof of this lifestyle can be found on the "All You Can Eat" billboards for Lahore's most exclusive restaurants. Here is a sample of three photos, click on the album link to see the whole project.

From Ramadan in Lahore: Fasting, Feasting or Both?

From Ramadan in Lahore: Fasting, Feasting or Both?

From Ramadan in Lahore: Fasting, Feasting or Both?

Adventure in the Bazaar

Today I had a wonderful experience that reminded me why I love Pakistan.

I've decided to not let beggars come away from my house empty handed anymore, and so recently I've been devising a plan of what to give out when they knock on my door or car windows. I gave out a few 'personal hygiene' bags including a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bar of soap. People were very grateful, but always asked if there was food in the pack. Why bother with brushing teeth when they don't have anything to eat?

Now Pakistani readers will probably think this is funny, but I just did not know how to buy wheat flour. We don't use it for cooking and the only ones I've seen at the super market are big 10KG bags. I'd go broke if I started giving those out to everyone, or I'd made a huge mess in my living room trying to make smaller packs out of the one big one. Once my husband had gone with our friend's cook and just gotten 1/2 kg of wheat flour in a small plastic bag. That's what I wanted, but I wanted a lot of little bags. Where should I get it?

I had to go to the Ali Institute today to pick something up, and I knew there were some small markets over there near Gulab Devi Hospital. I drove over there and stopped my car. The first shop keeper I asked did not sell wheat, but he told me to go all the way to the end of the road and I'd find a bazaar. I went to the end of the road and parked again. There were tons of little shops and workshops, and chickens and goats were running free everywhere. I didn't think the people were used to seeing foreigners, so I covered my head and off I went. I stopped in a small shop and a chubby bubbly man told me that he did not sell wheat, but that I could find it further into the bazaar. He came out of his shop and gave me wonderful directions, possibly some of the most detailed and accurate directions I've ever gotten in Pakistan.

I folled his directions, and sure enough I found another smiling chubby shopkeeper who was selling wheat. He told me that wheat was going for 24 rupees/kg which is about 30 cents. At first he was a bit confused at why I wanted 10 kg, but in twenty seperate 1/2 kg packs. After I explained that I wanted to give it out to people, he understood and got very excited about the idea. He proudly showed me all the other things on offer in his store, lentils, corn flour, rice, soaps, and all sorts of chips and food items. It took a while to make the twenty packs, so we had a nice chat. We talked about the current economic crisis and how the poor people really only want food nowadays.

Sweating in the sun, surrounded by the smell of livestock and talking to the smiling shopkeeper, I felt at peace. Even though I was in a poor area where many foreigners do not go, I was greeted warmly and helped by everyone I met. I parted with the shopkeeper assuring him that when I ran out of wheat, I'd be back to buy some more.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's Up with the Electricity?

Yikes, there's something going on with electricity in Lahore today. I woke up sweating with the power went from 4-5am, then it was only on for an hour and went off again from 6-7:22am. The rest of the day has been like this:

7:22 - 8:00 POWER
8:00-9:00 NO POWER
9:00 - 10:00 POWER
10:00 - 11:00 NO POWER
11:00-12:00 POWER
12:00-1:00 NO POWER
1:00-3:00 POWER (Wow for two whole hours!)
3:00 - 4:00 NO POWER
4:00-5:00 POWER
5:00-6:00 NO POWER
6:00 POWER....

Is it going go on and off every other hour? Has Pakistan just run out of money for energy? There was barely any loadshedding during Ramadan, so this seems like very poor planning.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

US Foreign Policy Recommendations for Iran

One of the most challenging assignments I took part in during my university days was to come up with a comprehensive U.S. foreign policy towards Iran. I thoroughly enjoyed Professor David Mednicoff's course on U.S. - Middle East relations during the Spring 2005 Semester. When our group had to choose a country for our foreign policy project, we put Iran at the top of the list. According to our wishes, we were assigned Iran and delved into the background research we needed to shape our policy. At the end the course, we had to present our policy to the group. In order to save our classmates the boredom of listening to us rattle off facts and recommendations, we decided to put a little creative "spin" on the presentation. We presented our policy in the form of a breaking news interview on "The O'Reilly Factor." Here's our script if you want to learn more about our policy recommendations for Iran, or if you want to just have a good laugh! Some facts are slightly outdated as this presentation was given in May 2005.

Cast of Characters:

Sana Hussain: herself & women's rights activist Gugush Mazjoubi
Harlan Knipes: Bill O' Reilly
Aaron : The intellectual Arash Reza Nekshabani
Heather Carreiro: Senator Bobbie Joe Baker (D-Texas)

All characters, aside from Bill O'Reilly, are completely made up and bear absolutely no resemblance to anyone we've heard of!

Sana: Good Evening, this is Sana Hussain live in Tehran where we have some breaking news. There has been a radical shift in U.S. policy towards Iran. After 26 years of our relationship with Iran being in an official state of emergency, both the U.S. and Iran have taken steps to normalize relations. In the interest of increasing both regional and global security, as well as universal human rights and ensuring open trade between the two countries, the U.S. has agreed to attend a U.N. summit meeting in Geneva in order to address the issues that have for so long caused animosity between the two countries. The summit, which will focus on improving American-Iranian relations as well as regional security, will be attended by world leaders including the EU-3, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and King Fahad of Saudi Arabia. More about this breaking news on the no spin zone. Here's your host Bill O'Reilly and I'm Sana Hussain, live in Tehran.

Harlan: Tonight we have a serious show where we will be addressing the new policy put forth by the administration to normalize relations with Iran. Since 1979, U.S. policy towards Iran has been based on containment and isolation. In order to curb the spread of the Iranian revolution, stop state sponsorship of terrorism, and prevent the development of nuclear weapons, Washington has focused on keeping Iran isolated both economically and politically. The U.S. government has been hoping that the ILSA sanctions will lead to the downfall of the radical theocratic regime in Tehran. Aside from this, the Iran Democracy Act, drafted for the promotion of democratic change in Iran, has provided $57 million to opposition movements within the country. Iran has been considered a rogue state and a member of the "Axis of Evil," but this new policy seeks to eliminate such language in a move towards normal diplomatic relations and political engagement.

Personally, I am taken aback by the news of this new policy, but here with me tonight is Arash Reza Nekshabani president of the Iranian-American Alliance for Reform, Senator Bobbie Joe Baker of Texas who helped push the bill through Congress, and Gugush Mazjoubi of the Iranian Women's Rights Watch. Both the Iranian-American Alliance for Reform and Iranian Women's Rights Watch were involved in drafting the engagement policy.

So my first question for you, Senator Baker, is that after so many years of non-engagement, what are the issues that have played a role in determining this change in policy? Why is Iran important to us?

Continue Reading:
US Foreign Policy Recommendations for Iran

The Top 10 Destinations on the US Travel Advisory List

The US Travel Advisory List is not a likely source of travel inspiration for most people, but for the more audacious traveler it certainly can be. At the time of writing, twenty-eight countries made the cut for a full-scale travel warning and not just a travel alert. Travel warnings are deemed appropriate for countries that are seen as long-standing "no-go" zones, while travel alerts are generally only issued for a limited time. A travel alert may be issued to warn travelers of a disease outbreak or an approaching hurricane, but a travel warning may even mean that US diplomatic relations in that country have been shut down due to security risks.

There are some of you out there, and you know who you are, who get more excited about the possibility of meeting a Taliban member or witnessing a historic coup, than spending a week at a five-star beachfront hotel. You probably swung from trees pretending you were Indiana Jones as a kid, and your favorite Halloween outfit was to dress up as James Bond. If that's you, you'll be sure that at least one of these top ten destinations will make their way onto your next travel itinerary.

10) Kenya

Take a ride on the wild side in East Africa. Tourism has been Kenya's number one source of foreign exchange since 1997. Although internal security significantly deteriorated after the December 2007 election, most people would never guess that Kenya makes the US Travel Advisory List. Combine rugged mountains, colorful coral reefs, unrivalled wildlife parks, ancient ruins, and the majestic lakes of the Rift valley and you get the nature's playground that can only be this East African country. Camp overnight surrounded by zebras and graceful gazelles in Hell's Gate National Park for an unforgettable experience, or jump across the border into Tanzania for a quick jaunt up Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak.

Read the rest of the Top 10 here:
The Top 10 Destinations on the US Travel Advisory List

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Travel Warnings from the US Government: Inspiration for Intrepid Travelers

Those you adventurous travelers out there must be familiar with the US Travel Warning List. I was excited to see that my current locale has topped the list once again!

Following Text from:

Current Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. The countries listed below meet those criteria.

Pakistan 10/01/2008
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 09/26/2008
Yemen 09/17/2008
Bolivia 09/15/2008
Iran 09/15/2008
Georgia 09/10/2008
Lebanon 09/10/2008
Afghanistan 09/10/2008
Algeria 08/22/2008
Kenya 08/22/2008
Colombia 08/07/2008
Congo, Democratic Republic of the 07/23/2008
Saudi Arabia 07/09/2008
Uzbekistan 07/03/2008
Chad 06/23/2008
Sri Lanka 06/13/2008
Iraq 06/13/2008
Eritrea 06/11/2008
Cote d'Ivoire 06/09/2008
Somalia 05/20/2008
Nepal 05/07/2008
Haiti 04/30/2008
Burundi 04/22/2008
Syria 04/15/2008
Central African Republic 03/25/2008
Sudan 03/14/2008
Philippines 02/13/2008
Nigeria 10/30/2007