Thursday, June 24, 2010

AwFULLY FullFiLLinG chOColAte

Awfully chocolate. That’s a really nice name for a chocolate store. Today while browsing through readers digest in the bathroom, I ventured upon this article. A woman in Singapore decided to start her own chocolate cake business after not liking the taste of chocolate in the city. Chocolate is something that must be perfected. The chocolate that you desire must be perfect, not too sweet or bitter. Not too thick or chunky, it should be perfect. As I read, I could totally relate to her. She left her job and started experimenting with chocolate with a chef. It took her a year to complete the project and it was worth the wait. The cake turned out to be perfect. The best thing about her cake according to her is that its made from scratch. Everything from the icing, to the chocolate is made by her. She doesn’t use processed cocoa but rather makes her own. The cake doesn’t have any icing or embellishment, it’s a simple,mouth watering and devouring chocolate cake.
This reminded me a lot of the Bombay bakery in Hyderabad that people are so unbelievably crazy about. I have never been there but have had the cakes to tell you that their delicious. The bakery is famous for its small opening through which your order is placed and you receive the cake. There are no displays or avenues to sit. A long line awaits these cakes everyday, and more often than not people go empty handed because they are simply late. I really like their lemon cake, It is soft, crunchy and has a nice crisp icing made of lemon and sugar.
Coming back to Karachi,I have lived here for more than twenty years and still haven't had the perfect perfect chocolate cake. It would be unfair to say there arnt any, but there is simply no perfect chocolate cake here. Most of the cakes taste good because of their icing. The fudge is scrumptious but removing that, the cake will taste plain and will be devoid of chocolate. Nandos boasts a cake that is truly heaven to the senses but its fudge is the main element. Pie in the sky has a variety so great that it becomes almost impossible to choose the right one.
In the past few years I have tried to perfect my chocolate fetish. I have emphatically searched for the ideal chocolate cake recipe but was unable to find it. I tried those recipes, one after the other, but all went in vain. The cake was never what I wanted to eat. The icing was never too smooth and the taste never that great. Another thing I realized was the chocolate that I was using, it wasn’t right. Cocoa powders being sold in the market were very average, especially the Pakistani ones. Cooking chocolate is another dilemma. The branded ones were highly expensive and local ones were nothing to brag about. Betty crocker is a real blessing when it comes to chocolate but sadly her cakes leave an after taste as you eat. It is the most convenient thing when baking but is not the real thing. I came across many chocolate books and recipes during the years. They always looked tempting in the book, but the real picture would be another story. So as I read the article, I wondered whether I would be able to accomplish my perfect chocolate cake. It is next to being impossible and with my non existent cooking/baking skills it would not be an easy challenge to achieve!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

a new perspective

My teaching endeavors are expanding. Six months back I was a student myself, running down stairs, sketching, designing and then inevitably being rejected by the senior authority of course. Now I am the teacher. I am no longer compelled to meet deadlines neither am I late for class. Of course I have deadlines, but of a different nature. And I am actually enjoying myself. I enjoy working in a school, teaching imparting skills and knowledge I recently acquired myself. The best part about my job is the liberty to teach kids anything I want. The freedom that my employer has given me is a true blessing. So, now here’s the moment where I am deeply perplexed. I want to teach them studio art alongside art history lessons and design principles. I want to show my kids great movies that have left an impact on me. Some brilliant animations and cartoon series. I want to inspire my children to become something. The problem is, most of my students take the class for granted. I have caught them hiding in their classes, doing homework while I thought they were in the bathroom. I guess it’s not their fault. It’s what and how I teach them that makes them like me and my subject.
Last semester, I had a student who made problem child look like a saint. He would not listen to me, touch a paper or pencil. He would just sit in class and laugh with his friends. My first month of teaching and being new to the field, I lost my temper with him. I threw him out. Next time I isolated him from his friends. Third time I forced him to draw. With my behaviour, I saw his attitude becoming worse every week. I was angry, hurt and mostly confused. I just didn’t know how to control him. I decided to seek help and went to the learning skills program head to consult about the boy. That day I learnt a lot. I learnt how he had symptoms of dyslexia and was behind most of his classmates. He couldn’t write well and was being tutored by the school’s special learning program instructors. She told me how he craved attention because he didn’t get any at home.
Feeling sorry him wouldn’t have helped him. I decided to give him the attention he desired. You know, by talking to students privately about their behavior can really help them sometimes. I asked him why he misbehaved and didn’t do any work. I told him I would let him sit with this friends as long as did something in my class. I knew he wasn’t capable of producing quality work so I gave him something he was comfortable with. And most of all, I let him be. And I realized that’s exactly what he really wanted. After that day, I never pushed or scolded him. Surprisingly, he never gave me any trouble. Every week, he sat happily with his friends and worked on a collage, sticking pieces of paper he had coloured himself. Maybe it wasn’t therapeutic, but it was definitely comforting for the child. I also learnt that almost every teacher disliked him and threw him out of their class. I knew then the reason for his misbehaviour. He knew the teachers didn’t respect him and that provoked him to further mischief. I am not sure if I won his respect but I did win a silent trust or maybe approval. I knew he didn’t enjoy my subject, but his giving in and making an effort was good enough for me. Next semester, I won’t be teaching him but I’ll definitely see him around. And I hope I’ll be able to help him more just like he helped me to see things from a different perspective.

Monday, June 14, 2010

students in trouble

SUKKUR / TOBA TEK SINGH/ ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday said the government was in the process of sending special planes to bring back home the Pakistani students stranded in Kyrgyzstan.
Today is indeed a sad for many students and parents. Can you imagine students being targeted and killed? I never knew students of my country were studying in a country like Kyrgyzstan whose political state is worse than ours. And not just a few but more than 1500 students have gone there to study engineering, medicine and other related subjects. What is wrong with the world? I mean can they at least not kill innocent students who have to come to their country just to seek education which is probably more expensive in their. It is shameful and disgusting, Sad and tragic.
It is also a slap on our own education system. Why do students have to go to a neighbouring country like Kyrgyzstan to study engineering or medicine when we have schools and colleges ourselves? It is obviously insufficiency that compelled most parents to send their loved ones there. I am very disturbed by this news because being a student I can understand what goes in the mind of one. And the two that are dead, I am sure that they wanted to flee but the situation must have been out of control. The other lucky ones were warned by their classmates who took a flight back home to Lahore. I also learnt that Pakistani students have to carry their passports on them wherever they go so they can escape the country if there’s political unrest.
Can you imagine what state the parents must be in to learn their child who was to return in a year’s time is never coming back? I bet they had never anticipated this day. The child must have had abundant dreams and aspirations of his own.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

conversation series part 1

i want to tell you

Ok, I won’t write a sad piece about you because if you were to read it, you would be horrified for having read such morbid words about yourself. Nano, you have no idea how much I miss you. I never thought I would but I do, miserably. A part of me aches and cries for you while the other part sometimes disbelieves your disappearance. We have spent such serene and countless moments together that its difficult and painful to think they will no longer take place. There was a time when I could’nt keep you on my display picture in my cell phone but I knew that one day I would be able to. And guess what nano, I can now. You’re the first person I see when I get up and the last before I sleep. And I pray for you. I pray that you’re in a wonderful place.ameen.
You’ve come to so many peoples dreams but never mine. I want to see you nano, I want to know that you’re at peace, wherever that is. I know that mumma saw you and so did maliha, but never i.
Our new house is beautiful and if you had been here the first thing you would have noticed would be the height. Yes we live on the 9th floor now. You would have screamed the first day and a week later, you would have been fine. That’s how you were, a drama queen. My drama queen. Guess what, I have your tv now. Everyone makes fun of it. So what if its tiny, we have seen so many dramas and movies together. My brother says its smaller than my laptop screen. So what right? You always thought somebody would buy it. Well, ive kept it for now.
Guess what nano, I have applied for a scholarship in america. I know you wanted me to visit mama and inshallah I will. I wish it had been the two of us, remember our plans of seeing the world, Especially india. Remember nano, how you told me that if I travelled with you, you wouldn’t feel insecure or scared. I would tightly clutch your hand and off we would be.
I miss talking to you at night. I miss your questioning me after my return especially from dadi amis house. And most of all I miss you. I know mumma does too. That’s why we don’t talk anout you a lot. We mention you but quietly digress from the subject. I have seen her cry sometimes, when her old friends call who don’t know about you. We didn’t tell everyone you know. I didn’t tell my friends. It was too painful nano, to mention your death. I couldn’t do it. The first time that I came to your grave, I cried silently. It was the second day of your death. The memory fresh in my mind. Your grave was silent and peaceful. I stood there quietly with my parents. Watching you, your name that was there. I said a small prayer for you. I didn’t want to leave. I stood there long after my parents left. They called out to me, but I didn’t want to move. Time was frozen. I was frozen. Then mama came and he and mumma cried together. I left because I couldn’t bear it. I kept mourning for you silently, never shedding a single tear. But something happened. On the day mama went back, I unleashed myself. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for you.i cried like a baby, tears became streams. A puddle gathered below my chin and wet my clothes. No one saw me cry nano. I wanted to mourn for you in my own way. That night, while trying to fall asleep I cried again only this time louder. No one heard or saw me. I fell asleep thinking about you.
Then mumma and I started to wind up your house. Can you believe it nano? We were putting away all your things, donating them like they were never yours. I helped mumma once and saw your pictures. Guess what? I kept them all. I have pictures of your trips and childhood. You live in my wallet too. You, nana and dada, the people who are now gone.
Then one day, your house was empty. I slept in it for a few days until we had to give it up. The apartment that you loved, lived in and cherished was devoid of every object that ever belonged to you. It became a ghost house. Then one day we closed it, locked it and moved like we never lived there.
Nano, our new neighbours are weird. You wouldn’t have liked them. But you would have loved our new place. You and I would take long walks and shop at the store. Of course you would find everything expensive.
You and I would have shared our room together, of course there would be fights almost everyday but so what right? We would gossip, vent and voice our thoughts.
But you’re gone now. I was in school when I got the news, studying for GRE. I couldn’t concentrate on the math section when suddenly my brother called. He sounded gravely serious. I asked him why he called. He said you had just passed away. It took every nerve in my brain to process that. I was numb, dead for a minute.
When I think of these memories, I cry. The pain still exists. It seems like only yesterday when you were diagnosed with cancer. The chemo was working. The doctors were positive. They said you would live. You had hope. We had hope. But god had other plans. Life alhamdolilah is great but sometimes it seems to lack something and that’s you. Nano, ammar never ever talks about you. You know, he cried at the grave. He didn’t tell anyone but I found out.
We continue living but deep down, you are missed. At any birthday, wedding or celebration you are thought of. How can we ever forget you nano? You are the coolest. As I write this, again tears roll down my face. But I want to write to you and about you. I still want to have our conversations. You’re not dead to me nano. You can never be. And I know when I’ll miss you the most. The day that you dreamt of witnessing_my wedding day. I know you wanted to see me as a bride and give me away. So what if you’re not here, I’ll still remember you. And inshallah, one day I’ll tell my kids about you. The stories that I heard growing up will be passed down to them. NANO, you will always be remembered…………..its a promise……….

Friday, June 4, 2010

its cruel

Some relationships are just not meant to work out. It seems cruel when a seemingly happy couple breaks up because one of them is not happy. But is it justified? Is it justified to break your boy’s heart simply because you’re not happy? Or should you stick around for his happiness. The compromise would be a high price to pay. But can you spend an entire life with a man you have ceased to love. It really does sound cruel. A few years back, some close friends had hooked up silently, surprising and disappointing many. They had been the talk of everyone’s conversation, attending parties and enjoying concerts. Some had anticipated they would not make it. They would eventually drift away as most couples do. And so they did. The girl too mature for the boy decided to end the relationship. Although I could never make sense of her reasons, a part of me understood her emotions. It’s cruel to tell someone that you’re not in love with them anymore. It’s biting and extremely painful. It’s almost like giving a toy to a child and asking him to give it back. But can anyone control their empowering emotions. Can you stop yourself from feeling a certain way? Can you help it if you’re really not in love with someone? You respect and revere but not adore and worship. It’s harder for the person who has to bear it. It’s probably harder for him to recover from the shock, misery and agony. But will that person ever understand or forgive. He will be bitter for a long time, might not love at all. But if we empathize or decide to, we might be able to love or even forgive. The couple that I mentioned is still around. The girl is seemingly happy, working, focusing on her career. The boy is much better. He was in a terrible state for a long time. He couldn’t eat, sleep and talk for a long time. We all tried to counsel him, told him he would be better off than her. But when you don’t want to listen, there’s not much friends can do.
Sometimes the reasons for a break may seem silly but are important for the concerned people. Sometimes couples simply can’t understand each other in spite of knowing for years. They change in ways they never noticed. Their habits, lifestyle and priorities change. And they change for the better. Ok I am not talking out of context here. I always wondered about the real story of 500 days of summer. What the girl does to the boy may seem cruel but it was something that had to be done. I don’t think it was selfish of her, she just didn’t love him. And when she finally found love, she didn’t take a second to settle down. But it was so hard for the guy. He never really got over her. It was hard for him yes I know. It’s always hard but things always work out for the best don’t they? That’s why we break up and make up, so we can be with other people.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Ok, I haven’t blogged for the longest time possible. Lack of time, no laptop and a schedule so busy, almost impossible to do anything. I have loads to tell and report. Yesterday I had a first student exhibition. I teach the seventh and ninth graders art and this semester, they produced such amazing work that my head was like, hira ‘you have to show this work to the entire school’. And I could’nt agree more I said. So off I was ordering paper, mounting, labeling each students work. And my entire week went doing work I had done back at art school and had swore then never to do it again. SIGH! But guess what. It was totally worth it. Every bit of it. My principal called to tell me that he loved my work. He said it was simple and beautiful. Imagine my delight. I guess hard work always pays off…………………………
I am glad that I joined this school. I get to do so many things in my spare time. Because I get to come home early, it gives me plenty of instance to spend time with my family, especially my mom. Then there’s free lance work of course. I am dying to design something especially something in print.
I think this semester I have been able to help kids in the way I wanted to. Seventh grade has the cutest kids possible. Boys are yet to be boys. Girls are already on their way_ Clash of gender. And these kids are so much fun to be with. Please ignore my digressing, I have so much to report…..
And let me talk about the teachers. Everyone is so funny here. There are teachers here who have been here for more than ten years. Its like a sorrority and membership is closed. They laugh, talk, sit and eat only with eachother. I call them the cullen clan. Theyre a lot like vampires. Then there are the urdu teachers who nobody really likes to hang out with. They have formed their own gang and usually seem quite happy on their own. Of course the math teacher also known as nutty professor is totally crazy! I think people who are surrounded by numbers for a very long time somehow get affected by it and so is his case. Then theres psycho. There are teachers who yell, scream and make students cry. And psycho is one of them. His heart is made of gold or so I have heard but his tremper is ferocious. So if a poor child forgot to tuck his shirt or had the audacity by running downstairs simply because he was late for class will get pyscho’s wrath. I think sometimes we forget that we were children too. I think we get so caught up in rules and ‘apparantly the right thing’ that we ignore a childs ignorance and unawareness.we reprimand him for not knowing what it might do to him. We berate and scold in front of friends without thinking about the childs psychological of the kids in my class was called tony by his friends because he was short. He was also a learning skills student meaning he took his classes outside the classroom with a teacher devoted to students like him. So everyday when the rest of his classmates would study science in their classroom he would be sent to the library. And he knew there was something different about him. Once when I heard him being called tony, I told my class not to call him that. But later, a kid told me that he likes being called that and it struck me why. He wants his classmates attention. He wants to make friends and be acknowledged just like the rest of us. Its strange how he would let his fellows call him something hes not responsible for. :/