Reflections · Uncategorized

MAPPING THE ROTI JOURNEY

Rotis are not just flatbreads in our part of the world. It completely defines a girl and shadows the reputation of a married woman not only with its taste but also its color, texture and shape.

I dint know how to make a roti. I doubt my mama did. My Dadi made rotis and later a cook. In our house it was the staple food. Dozens were made every day.

Luckily my in-laws are rice eaters. Rotis were not made by the dozens and definitely never by me. I could go on site and shape a red brick into a dough easier than the wheat flour. Also I believe my red brick would sooner be round then this alleged roti.

Once we moved to Dubai, husband casually informed that pastas should be made in this house for all our days together. Me, who had no intentions of mastering the roti, relaxed and obliged. More of this in the next post, ok?

The guilt of not making rotis for my boys was also pretty nonexistent. That’s the real beauty of expat life really, no guilt givers at all. Frankly also, because initially we hardly knew anyone.

This is the right time to tell that we belong to the Bohra community. Within the community daily food thaalis are sent out to every Bohra household every day. Because there are thousands of rotis to be made each day, hundreds of ladies volunteer to do them.

So one day, as I was busy making dinner, my neighbor called;

“Hey Zahra”

“Hey!”

“Wednesday’s rotis will now go from our neighborhood from each home. It’s a great sawab (blessing) ka kaam, want to pitch in?”

This is a good time to tell that I have always been very over efficient with most things in life and saying “no” is just not my style. Also, what was I going to say? I don’t want to be blessed or I don’t know how to make rotis? Shuddering at the prospect of getting badnaam and shamed, I said;

“Ofcourse! How many”

“One unit is 2 rotis, everyone take around 10 units”

“Ohk”

This was going a bit too far even for me.

“Can I do 3 units? Actually Bee is so small, you know.” Blame it on the child, typical mommy of me.

“Sure, 3 units it is, Wednesday 9 am it should be ready”

“Ahan! Great!”

I rushed home in a frenzy, called my husband. His first reaction was,

“Oh God! How will we do that! You don’t even know how to make “those”.

Rotis were an unconquered territory. The acquiring of which could give me the demi Goddess status. Hell bent of getting this feather in my cap and also because, what option do I have anyway? I started planning.

Not knowing who to ask, I called up a friend to casually inquire what atta she used. Went to the market and stocked on all possible required ingredients and gears, wheat flour, rolling pin, the works.

Then came the how to part. Masala channel ruled in those days and I was not yet introduced to Karachi chefs. I sat for days in front of the TV watching different You Tube videos on how to’s and what to.

Chef Zakir specifically said, “If your wrists are too delicate to bind the dough, hit it on the counter 20 times.”

I mixed up water, some flour, salt and started doing the kabaddi training move. Husband and children ran to the kitchen because of the thumping sound, and stood in the doorway watching mama, hitting the lifeless counter with an untidy mess of dough again and again.

Once that was done, it was time to try my hands at the rolling pin. Make me hand draft a plan, but never ask me to try and get a dough to shape up in a round roti. I tried very hard though, but Africa it was. That’s ok, I thought. Anyways round rotis are over rated, if all women would just sit down one day and see what the body does to the perfect round rotis, frankly, they wouldn’t bother.

Next was the cooking it bit. Cook it I did. Turning it over 10 times till I was satisfied with the product.

Now came the crucial tasting bit and husband presented himself as a willing guinea pig. He took a bite and struggled very hard to chew. My model of all things good and honest said,

“too dry, too crisp, no salt, frankly; inedible. But don’t worry baby, you did such a good job.”

I stared at him and stomped back in the kitchen, Like hell I did!

He proudly called his parents to tell about my roti contribution. My very honest MIL who knew my culinary skills too well, said, “Bechare log”.

She meant the 3 homes that get my “units”.

However bad and disheartening, I kept trying. My rotis were not getting anywhere close to round, and almost never soft enough. But I kept making. And my sweet family kept eating. Till one day I got the basic hang of it. Like they say, “Mehnat aur sirf Mehnat, kamyabi ki zamin hai”

In a country where round rotis are as readily found as poverty and puffing up is an easily learnt art, I have yet to make a round one, or a totally puffed one.

But you know what? My maps are full of love, a product of a skill I had to try very hard to learn. Something that didn’t come easy to me. But I was resilient and refused to give up. Even today, 5 years later, every time I make roti, I feel proud and repeat the menu to my husband and children many times.

Next time you come to my home, do ask me for a roti, it won’t be round or puffed but you will like it, I promise.

P.s. oh and the picture, actually my Curry Laksa looks much better than my roti, sowwie.

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Feminism · Reflections · Uncategorized

Bursting the Happily Ever After Bubble 🧚‍♀️

Once upon a time there was a prince, Iceberg. He was so fair, that no one ever looked beyond the fact that he was fair. Birds sang to him and everyone loved him. But his step dad! He hated him! His step dad was quiet evil and couldn’t get over the fact that Iceberg was so fair. He wanted to get him killed and be the fairest in the whole world.

So one day, WAIT.

STOP.

.

.

Is this even making sense to you? Would you ever read that to your boys? No. Point made.

I grew up reading these fairytales and watching Indian movies. Both these form of entertainment reduced women to being envied for their beauty, looking pretty enough for a guy and never getting to do the “real thing”. I wanted to be beautiful all my 30 odd years and judged most things with the criteria, ” had I been prettier, maybe more presentable….”

Boys were read short stories on kindness, doing things by hand, labor of love. They were made to watch cartoon where the “thunder cat” would save the day. Their ideals were men who were strong, doing the good things and being very famous. Spider man was totally acceptable not having the perfect body, heck he did great things. Who cared if HULK was green and ugly, he was a good man! You know who else was green?

THE GREEN WITCH IN HANSEL AND GRATEL. THE EVIL WITCH.

In both the ideology, the girls upbringing is very detached with the idea of being more than a object of beauty and domesticity. Beauty is portrayed as the key element in solving all problems in a female’s life. The princess is always the prettiest, the actress a gorgeous 6 footer, worse, the evil character or villain if feminine is always ugly to look at. In the poster you could tell who was the good and who was the bad. Such is the idolation of beauty and isolation of anything remotely not beautiful in our minds.

In media today, you see men who are leading countries, winning sports, doing goals, making inventions, heading companies. Even male actors in today’s world are being labeled as philanthropic, charitable, case in point Salman khan, a man who could have been known as “one of the most good looking”. They go beyond the realms of what God made them look like.

Not once my husband would describe someone as “handsome” as an introduction. When he tells about his friends, it’s about where they are, how far they reached, their skill set, how they were at school.

And do you know who the famous women in our lives are? The actresses and models. The most well known Pakistani women in an average household are from the entertainment industry, the fashionistas with the perfected airport looks, and if she can tweet well, well that’s an added bonus. REALLY?

The idols we portray of an accomplished women are those that amidst all chaos look on point. Follow the trends, maintain that body. In a survey done on giveaway, beauty products are the most sought after gifts among women.

With social media on the high it will get worse, you can be a math genius, a writing wizard , a great scientist, but if you don’t look like Julia Roberts no one wants to know you.

Beauty is moving beyond great bodies and perfect makeup. Social media has taken it one step further, where just you looking perfect is not enough. Your whole surrounding should be picture worthy. It starts from dissatisfaction with your bodies and seeps into you being unhappy with how your home looks, how your vicinity is. Because, in a world where 2D imagery rules, and design is being sold on the road, how far will you go to fit in?

Let’s change our fairytales, stop idolizing the fake, and value real women, with real brains and compassion. Women who need men for companionship and not as a life support machine. Lets make strong women the news in our house and the discussion in our conversations, so that we raise our

Girls- with broader horizon and bigger dreams.

AND

Boys- who can value the women in their life for their intelligence and character.

Parenting · Reflections · Uncategorized

The Wheel of Life

For my first baby, Bee, I left my job three months before hand, spent 36 hours in the hospital pushing a well fed 3.6 kg baby out. Dolled him from the day he was born. Everything a child needed was aptly presented to him.

My second one, was well, the second one. I was working till the day I delivered, went to the hospital at night, since I had pains all day. Walked into the delivery room and there he was, without much ado, out. Two days later we went home. I made my home accustomed for him and he made my heart accustomed to him. My golden baby, I called him.

Like all second babies, he was learning things faster, like all second time moms, I wasn’t noting down anything. We got him a lovely, practical no frill Chicco stroller ( because full option prams are so first baby!)

He crawled and then fell and started walking one fine day. We got Bee a bicycle when we got him a stroller. Since he was 3 months old, he wanted one. It was like his boy goal. But he wasn’t a boy! He was our baby.

On his first birthday, he got a push car as a gift. The day he could push himself around, he had passed a major milestone for us. We had an old red color tricycle belonging to Bee, I wanted him to have a go at it. But I always knew he was too small. He was but a baby!

It’s very difficult for us parents to accept at some point that the little gummy bear is growing up. When my sister had a baby , my baby was calling him a baby. And I went like, WHAT?? You are a baby yourself!

When he joined nursery, the teacher said, what’s your name, Little boy. And I reinforced, my baby’s name is Taher. My golden baby.

Last week, a beautiful yellow tricycle was delivered at our home by Little Wren. I told Taher, this one’s for you. But your feet might not reach the peddle. He rushed through the unpacking, with keen eyes, knowing how longingly he wanted a cycle of his own.

He sat on it, feet on peddle , and went by me.

My little baby was riding a tricycle.

Boys ride tricycle.

Boys go to nursery.

Little boys.

He is no more a baby, and cliched as it may sound, he will always remain mine. I’m all sad and weepy and happy with joy watching him have a go on his first ride.

My Golden Boy. 💛

P.S. There’s a live giveaway on my Facebook page, do check it out and take part! 🧡

Parenting · Uncategorized

Gearing up for School

Congratulations to myself and all mamas around me, summers are finally over! And best of luck, because school is about to start. It’s particularly attractive yet challenging for me, because my little one starts nursery as well. Which means, for some very few hours daily, I will have absolute quiet in the house. Let’s devour this…. Nazar na lagaien, shukria.

It also means it’s gonna be crazy in the Archi Effect household, two kids to get ready, two bags to pack, two lunches to think up, double trouble, double craziness. Here are some helpful points We have made to combat it all. Hope they help you too.

1- Routine is God. Sleeping, eating, waking up, play time, homework times should be the same EVERYDAY. Even weekends. You can change a few things one day a week, but mention it to your child. Let him/her know and the reason. A lot of commotion cuts down when the child (and you) have fixed times.

2- Being late is ok, Hurrying up is not. There are days you will be tired, the alarm will not go off, long bathroom hours, unexpected vomiting etc. So, your child might get late. It’s ok. I have learnt that being late is better than hurrying through the morning routine. It makes them stressed and disoriented for the rest of the day. Don’t do it. Don’t drive too fast, don’t make them gulp down that glass of milk.

3- Discuss breakfast and lunch a day before. Lesser tantrums on the breakfast table and more chances of a finished lunch box. Try it, they feel like the deal is made. Also children enjoy the level of control, you can negotiate on healthy and things they would like to have.

4-Respect the child and people around you. This is so important, don’t scold the child. Don’t make him a target of your frustration early morning. Whatever went wrong, IT ISN’T THE CHILD’S FAULT. This has a great impact. They give back what was given to them. If you are driving to school, make sure you are not overtaking, tailgating or breaking laws. Be considerate, Park in the right spot. Your child is watching.

5- Spend quality time. With the children off to school, it’s possible you don’t get a lot of time together. You might have work schedule. But make sure the little time you are with them, you are wholly with them. Paying attention to what they say and what they are trying to communicate. Ideally 15 mins early morning and before going to bed are your best times to bond. This provides security and self confidence.

6- Cliched but NEVER compare. Accolades in school are not connected to how your child will do in life. Each child is unique, excellent if I may say. Pay close attention and work on discovering their strengths. They have it, they all have it. Once you know what it is, it will be a goldmine of opportunities for your child.

7- Takecare of yourself, emotionally, mentally, physically. A happy, content, well- maintained, in control mom is the solution to all problems!

Enjoy the new academic year!

Parenting · Uncategorized

Potty training: things it taught me about parenting and life.

You must have guessed by now, I hav been toilet training my 2.5 year old. These kind of stories best be boring, if they are boring, there was definitely less work involved. If God forbid, they are interesting, then they would also be sad ( and messy and smelly and poopy) if I may say so. Unless it involves a toddler waking up one fine morning, taking off his diapers and sitting on the toilet seat, pooping and informing you that he is successfully trained. That my dear, doesn’t even come in the genre of fantasy. No seriously, never expect it and never believe it.

Ours was a jolly ride, I told him no diapers from today, and he ran behind me , naked with a diaper in hand for one hour, occasionally hitting me with it till I put it on. This went on for two days. We weren’t allowed to remove the diaper by our toddler, unless we were ok with a diaper maniac on loose, which we weren’t.

📝 LESSON NO. 1: Never let them get so big that they fall in love with a convenience. Once a child knows it is convenient they will get difficult in leaving it. Like adults, children enjoy being lazy.

On day 3, pappa was home. The weather changed, Pampers were disappeared and child was left stranded without any instructions, other than the random playing of a song on YouTube, ” if you need to pee , you tell mommy….” . Ten mins later, toddler is found standing in a pool of his shit, crying. He called me, and I explained to him that “THIS” will happen if you don’t tell mommy.

📝 LESSON NO 2: The most difficult of life lessons can be learnt if made to stand in your own shit.

The next time my boy needed to poop or pee, he told me. I was shocked, and said Mashallah infinite times at his immediate learning and understanding. In one accident, this one was trained and knew the signs. Whole of Friday, we spent without wearing the diaper. The next day pappa went to office, I took off the diaper ( put on for the night ) but he refused to go to the toilet. Stood like stone and waged a war against the bathroom trip. We had multiple accidents that day, which totally took my confidence away.

📝 LESSON NO 3: Just because things go well one day, doesn’t mean apka time badal Gaya hai.

The next three days were spent in the battle of the bathroom trips. But I mastered on putting him on the seat and once there, bribed him with chocolates and surprises.

📝 LESSON NO 4: If your bribe dint work, you dint go high enough.

By the next weekend, we were successfully trained. My boy fell in love with those bathroom trips and some days we were doing a visit every 15 mins, just like that. I started having a rotator cuff pain in my shoulders.

📝 LESSON NO. 5: Be careful what you wish for.

Lately, my son doesn’t want to honor a diaper even if he’s wearing it. At night or when out, we will say, you have a diaper darling, don’t worry. But he insists he be taken to a washroom. Middle of the night, twice, thrice, four times. Yeah.. lucky us.

📝 LESSON NO. 6: If you stay at something long enough, it is bound to work out for you.

📝 LESSON NO. 7: No one is too young, too naive, too weak, too feminine, too masculine, too old, too not ready. Everyone deserves an opportunity to escape the bag of shit they move around with.

My toddler has recently discovered the aim game. Doing in the seat is suddenly too boring, been there done that !!!!!

Travel · Uncategorized

Warner Bro’s Park, Abu Dhabi- A complete guide

I will start with the obvious fact: going to the Newly opened Warner Bros park at Yas Island Abu Dhabi was the best Eid decision ever!

I’m not a planner, especially for adventure based activities, but I accidentally became for this one and two words- MUST.GO. From the time I put the story up till today I am receiving countless messages on details about the park and review. So here it goes.

Tickets Can be purchased online or at the counter, it’s 245 aed for adults and 170 aed for children above 3. We got it as a part of the Eid deal we purchased, one night stay at a resort plus park tickets for 2 adults and 2 kids for 900 aed, so , I believe we got it at a great price. Fast track can be purchased for an extra 170 aed per ticket, because lines are deadly.

It’s the first ever Warner bros indoor theme park and is made on a colossal budget. The roof is a dynamic video screen, that shifts and changes color to match the theme of each area.

The park is divided into 6 zones, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock and the Plaza is for children all age. Dynamite Gulch, Metropolis and Gotham City have rides that are darker and a bit more challenging.

In saying that, we totally enjoyed the ride Ani Mayhem, Tom & Jerry and Scooby Doo rides. And so did our kids in the cartoon junction. The whole set is a treat to the eye, each detail, every door, window paid great attention to. It’s always day in cartoon junction and the place is topsy turvy, colorful and defying symmetry and monotony, just like in the cartoons. Also my boy of two went bonkers as scooby walked in for a picture. Scooby-Doo being his favorite book, seeing the character in real life and his smile made the whole drive to Abu Dhabi worth it.

Bedrock has one ride, which I found a bit too slow, but it’s a great one for an inside Flintstone experience. We had a bit of a downer because kids under 5 weren’t allowed and I was expecting something a bit more thrilling.

In the Metropolis we saw the super hero training, it was really cute and engaging for little children with a super hero fantasy. In here, Teen Titans training academy was my favorite, since it was more than you being strapped to a seat and going through experiences. This ride was more of an obstacle com zip line and a lot of fun. Super 360 is a great theater experience and holds 200 people at one time, which reasonably decreases the wait time.

At Dynamite Gulch, Jetsons is a fun ride to enjoy with the kids and Fast and Furry-ous an adrenaline rush for the adults as well. The hanging roller coaster was short but full of twists and turns and the right amount of oOoOoooo.

Gotham city was by far my most favorite place. Dark and groovy the streets and the vibes were just out of a Batman movie. Scare crow and the Riddler being the best rides of the entire park. Full of fun and dark jokes, these rides are extremely thrilling for all ages. But I enjoyed The Joker’s funhouse the most, it’s a dark mystery room of sorts where you find your way out amidst the joker screaming instruction to you. Had I been alone, I would have been scared. My little boy was!

A great experience overall, my tip would be to go early, and do the thrilling rides first. Because waiting can take up a lot of time. And before leaving do watch the cinema spectacular in the Warner Bros plaza.

Enjoy!

Uncategorized

Bringing Alice back from Wonderland

I like things quite, I would like to say this and feel absolutely guilty – because – I have two boys under 7. You get it right? It’s never quiet around me. And as much as I love my kids, I just like things at a slower pace, relaxed. Sometimes, when I cannot get peace around me, I transport myself to another memory, somewhere quieter more in control.

As good a solution as this sounds, it’s very detrimental to me and all things around me. Concentration is a powerful thing. Great people know how to shut off the mind and stay present with the body. Over thinking kills creativity, quality and makes me rush through life very very tired. Do you often feel, I dint do much today why do I feel so drained? You must have indulged in pointless over thinking.

Staying busy can cut down on running out of your body for short times into a dear memory but you can be very busy and still elsewhere. This decreases productivity and wastes time but what is the worst thing about this habit is, you miss out on moments happening now, that are totally worth living.

If like me you indulge in over thinking try these tips:

1- When you find yourself wondering in your head, concentrate on your breathing, 3 secs inhale – 7 secs exhale. This works like magic, it also helps me fall asleep more relaxed.

2- Another thing is to try detaching and assign yourself a role, “I am a vegetable cutter” and concentrate on cutting them right, “I am a babysitter” and watch your children carefully, see what they do, how they do it, this trust me is very engrossing.

3- Use a self assigned word, like “STOP” or “Enough” and snap back in the present. The more you pull yourself out into now, the easier it will be the next time.

4- Use all your senses. Easier said, but notice what’s under your feet, the smell around you, what you are hearing, what you are seeing, and what would you like to say about all of this. This exercise is so interesting, it actually makes me notice new things in ordinary events.

Ok then! Have fun living in the present, it’s really relaxing btw- let’s get the Alice out of the Wonderland!