Changing priorities

Having a baby really changes your priorities- but you don’t know quite how much until you realize that baby excrement is a cause of jubilation in your life!

I present to you the following conversation regarding our constipated son. Asim called from work today:

A: So how’s it going?

T: Not bad. Was just online…had breakfast, Elhaan pooped, then I fed him now he’s in the bouncer…and I was going to….

A: Wait wait, he pooped?!!!

T: Yes!!!

A: That’s great!!!

T: I knowwwww!! Shukar hai! I’m so happy!!!!

A: Me too!!!

Ahem. We have seriously lost it.

Rants and raves of a new mum

I’ve started writing this post at least 3 times before and, as if on cue, the second I complete the first sentence, Elhaan wakes up from his nap with a cry or decides he doesn’t want to be on the playmat any more and would like a feed instead. Yes, I have now officially joined the ranks of parents who use their children as excuses for not doing things! :)

On a serious note, nothing nothing- NOTHING- could have prepared me for the first 6 weeks after the birth. It was the most ‘challenging’ (read: horrible/difficult/painful) time of my life. Every day seemed like a challenge and I didn’t know what had hit me. The first month seems like a blur now. Had it not been for Mama and Ami (Asim’s mother) who were both here, I really don’t know how I would have coped.

The first month was an emotional rollercoaster ride. Some days would be good and I’d feel better and happy and then there were days when if I wasn’t crying, I felt angry at the world for not preparing me enough and my poor husband would be at the receiving end of my mood swings. All my fears and preparation had been for labour and delivery and I thought what came later would be the ‘fun’ stuff. Don’t get me wrong- childbirth was hell but I’d mentally prepared myself and in fact I exceeded my own and others’ expectations of me by going through a completely natural procedure without getting hysterical and actually declining an epidural when it was offered to me (insane I know!). So yeah, labour was 19 long hours of torture but I kept thinking “this is it and then it’ll be ok”. You can imagine my anger and shock when the next weeks weren’t ‘easy’ to put it mildly. Yes, I’d heard of sleepless nights but thought that would be the worst of it. I wasn’t prepared for the stitches, the pain, the infections, the exhaustion, my body feeling like it had been broken and torn, not being able to breastfeed without crying, the baby crying for hours on end and not being able to figure out the reason. Everytime I woke up Ami or Mama at an ungodly hour in tears myself to hand over the baby (having fed him, changed him, rocked him but still not getting him to stop crying), I felt like I had failed as a mother. Also being cooped up indoors for weeks on end made me so depressed. The only time I went out in the sun (thank god the weather was good in March) was for doctor appointments. I didn’t have the stamina to manage anything more. At those times, I felt like I had been in some underground tunnel all this time while the world was still the same and going on at its normal pace. Those hospital trips would cheer me up like nothing else!

The antenatal classes I had attended now seemed like a joke. They focused on things like the benefits of breastfeeding and made us practice on dolls for dressing our babies! I specifically remember asking the midwife if breastfeeding would be painful and she reassured me that as long as the baby is properly attached, it shouldn’t be painful at all. Oh was I in for a rude shock – crying and dreading every feed! To be fair, she may have mentioned cracked/sore/bleeding nipples and thus stressed the importance of correct attachment, but considering myself an A-student I looked at the pictures on the pamphlets and thought, of course I’ll manage this! Ooh pride really doth come before a fall.

Everyone told me once I’d survived the first 6 weeks, things will miraculously start getting better- and thank god they were right! Today Elhaan is exactly 8 weeks old and things have definitely begun to settle down. I think I’m getting the hang of it. Tiredness and sleep deprivation are still constant complaints but I don’t feel so clueless any more. For the most part I can now figure out if Elhaan is crying because he’s hungry or if he’s cranky because he wants to sleep or have his nappy changed…and then of course there are times when I have no idea!! :)

(At this point Elhaan has opened his eyes from his nap and I think I will have to bring this post to a hasty close)

What I need to start focusing on now is regaining my own health. I’m gradually gaining my strength but still have a long way to go. My aim is not to fit into my size 10 clothes again although that would be amazing (I’m a plump size 14 at the moment even though people reassure me that I look pretty much the same), but I would like to be able to walk up the stairs, go for a walk or tidy up the room without feeling like I’ve run a marathon and sit down with aching knees. Hmm and getting rid of this potbelly would be nice. The stretch marks are another story though- not much hope there except they will get lighter after 6 months or so. I guess I have to learn to love and take pride in them as my ‘battle scars’. I’ve started going out for evening walks with Elhaan in his pram. That’s my favourite time of the day and the good thing is he loves them too! I get a bit of a workout and fresh air. If Asim isn’t with me, I may catch up with a friend on the phone while walking which is nice too. Elhaan just loves being outdoors- he’ll look at the trees and passersby with fascination and doze off after the first 10 minutes or so. The minute we enter the house though he wakes up and starts crying but that’s because all that ‘exercise’ makes him hungry and wants a feed. So yeah we’re getting into a bit of a ‘routine’ and I’m beginning to enjoy it!

Watch this space for more updates :)

ps. Elhaan decided to continue with his nap and I may be able to take a quick shower or change my clothes. What luxury!


1992: "Cornered Tigers" bounce back to take the title.

I am writing my thoughts as I watch the rain affected start of the second ODI cricket match of Pakistan’s tour of New Zealand. After the dismal performance in the first match, many wouldn’t dare waste a day watching this one and I don’t blame them.

Humiliated on the field on one day as if never played the game before in their lifetime and dominating it like champions on another day – this is the story of the Pakistani cricket team. The cricket board also ensures that the team and the nation get enough grief. The ‘predictable’ nature of our cricket should not be a surprise to us anymore. The only thing we have consistency in is ‘inconsistency’.

It might seem like I am painting a bleak picture of Pakistan Cricket here but of this very same team, amongst shadows of adversity, we witness glimpses of utter brilliance. Is it luck? Winning two world cups (an ODI and T20) can’t just be by fluke?

No matter how many controversies per second our cricket generates, the cricket following never dies in Pakistan. With the World Cup approaching, even if we fail to name a captain till the Cup actually starts, I would not be able to write off our chances. There is something in our team or may be in Pakistanis that keep us hopeful. We will be fully behind our team to bring the 2011 cup back home. Inshallah.

What are your predictions for the World Cup?

shaadi joras, never-been-worn

I was trying to sort out my wardrobe today. MOST of the shelf space had been taken up by all the fancy shaadi joras (outfits for the ‘bridal trousseau’) I got made 2 years ago. What’s really sad is that I realized there are some I’ve not even worn once yet in these 2 years! Now I’ve moved most of these clothes from my closet downstairs onto a hanging rack in the garage or packed them away with mothballs.

I wonder why we put in so much time and effort into making these fancy outfits that we hardly ever get the chance to wear and then they go out of fashion in a year or so any way?

For girls who are living in Pakistan I understand there are a lot of occasions to wear the outfits such as big family dinners and get-togethers, weddings and even birthdays, but for those of us who live abroad, we hardly even get the chance to wear shalwar kameez, let alone fancy ones.

In my defense, I must say that I tried my best to keep these outfits to a minimum, but being the eldest daughter there was still a tendency for my family to get a bit carried away. My in laws got a lot of outfits made for me as well, even though they were trying their best not to go overboard knowing I was moving to England. I guess there is an element of tradition and saving face. Although nobody asks any more how many outfits you got made (traditionally I think there was a set number and girls came with trunks full of clothes, shoes, jewellery, bedding and what-not), but still there is an element of having at least a few really fancy ones and a few semi-formal ones that everyone is aiming for.

There’s no point to this post, it’s a bit of a lament really. But if there are girls getting married and moving abroad, please don’t go overboard with the joras. Be practical. It’s quite a shame to see them after years still sitting in your closet never been worn.

This is the way to ‘Fix it’!

It took them some time but they finally got it! This is the way to ‘fix it’ guys. Pakistani cricket team finally “won” a cricket match using the contemporary art of ‘spot fixing’. Like ‘googly’, ‘dosra’, ‘reverse swing’ and may other cricketing innovations, to the envy of the whole world, who else could do it better than us.

ICC has been trying hard for years and years to figure out how we do it. There has to be something dodgy somewhere, they always conclude.

I must say whoever spot fixed in the 3rd ODI deserves to be our new President. After all that happed in the test series, that would take some guts. On top of that yet again, Butt Saab the Chief made us proud in the typical Pakistani manner, demonstrated everyday by our renowned politicians on ARY, GEO and Co. “PCB has all the evidence that England is involved in fixing the 3rd ODI. What is your proof against us haan?? If you think you have evidence against us, we will make up so much evidence against you that you can’t event imagine – After all, we have over 60 years of experience, beat that Haan!!”, Butt Saab thought.

On a serious note, “I don’t get it” – are our cricketers that dumb that they keep on making a mess of everything? or there is something dodgy going on elsewhere too? What do you think?

Ramadan and Work

I posted this on my work blog and people found it really useful. The target audience are mainly non-Muslims.

Muslims all over the world are fasting these days in the Islamic month of Ramadan. Muslims follow the lunar calendar and it is for that reason that Ramadan is not at the same time each year. Fasting is not unique to Islam, it is found in Judaism (on the Day of Atonement) and is practiced during Lent by Christians. It is also common in many non-Abrahamic faiths as well.

Muslims have a meal in the morning before the dawn breaks and begin fasting when the crack of dawn appears, which is as early as 3:30am (in UK) for the first few days of Ramadan. The fast ends as the sunset begins. Muslims offer short prayers during the day and also attend special congregational prayers in the evening which are normally held at fixed times. Fasting demands refraining from not only food, drink, and intimacy but also form vain talk, lying, backbiting, slander, tale-carrying and the like.
All Muslims are expected to fast except children, unhealthy adults (mentally or physically), adults travelling long distances, and women who are menstruating, in post-childbirth care, pregnant or breast-feeding.

Fasting at Work:
In pressured business environments, people who are fasting often work exceptionally hard in the month of Ramadan, ensuring that business and client needs are met in addition to their daily pre and post working obligations. Naturally, there is a need to maintain a sensible work/life balance.

Also the unusual sleeping pattern demands a flexible working pattern for some. Flexible hours have been a success in some Service units as employees can start early and leave early, working the same number of hours. Individuals who are fasting also do not take many of the usual daily breaks for eating and drinking during Ramadan.

So, if someone in your team is fasting, it is advised to discuss and agree on a working pattern for the month.

If you have any queries regarding the month of Ramadan, please feel free to contact the Accenture Muslim Interest Group.

Ramadan Mubarak.

Lab Pe Aatii Hai Duaa


Lab pe aatii hai Duaa bana ke Tamanna Meri
  My longing comes to my lips as supplication of mine

Zindagii Shamma ki Surat ho Khudayaa Meri
  O Allah! May like the candle be the life of mine!

Door Duniya ka Mere dam se Andheraa hu jaaye
  May the worldly darkness be lifted by my efforts

Her jaga Mere Chamakane se Ujaalaa ho jaaye
  May every place be enlightened by my Light

Ho Mere dam se Yun hi Mere Watan ki Zeenat
  May my homeland through me attain elegance

Jis tarah Phool se hoti hai Chaman ki Zeenat
  As the garden through flower attains elegance

Zindagii ho Meri, Parawaane ki Surat Yaa Rab
  May my life like that of a moth be, O Lord

Ilm ki Shammaa se ho Mujh ko Mohabbat aai Rab
  May I love the lamp of knowledge, O Lord

Ho Meraa kaam Gareebon ki Himaayat karana
  May supportive of the poor my life’s way be

Dard-mandon se Za’eefon se Mohabbat karana
  May loving the old, the suffering my way be

Mere Allah Buraai se bachaanaa mujh ko
  O Allah! Protect me from the evil ways

Naik jo Raah ho us Raah pe chalanaa mujh ko
  Show me the path leading to the good ways

– Allama Iqbal

Happy Independence Day — may God bless our nation.

Could’ve been one of those mornings…

This morning I thought “Ugh it’s just one of those days. There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s going to be horrible”.

This outburst was brought about by the bus driver (connecting from Oxford city centre to my office) who said I could not travel on my ticket ( that I’d bought from London to Oxford for the same bus company). I explained to him that I had been doing that for the past one month and I had had no issues with it. Every other bus driver had accepted it. I was told that I needed to get an accompanying connector pass (for no additional cost) but I should have done that at the time of purchase. To cut a long story short, my futile attempts at arguing did me no good and I had to buy an extra ticket for £2.40 in addition to the £16 I’d already paid. I sat down in my seat fuming that the stupid man had ruined my morning and hence my day.

Just as I sat down, a guy came and sat behind me and said “sister, what was this connector pass he was talking about? I travel from London to Oxford every week and I didn’t know we could get free connection buses within Oxford”. I explained to him that you could. I’d been getting them for a month but apparently you needed to also get the pass at the time of purchase. He seemed really happy about that and said, “Wow, I didn’t know. This is great”. The expression on my face must’ve told him that I still wasn’t pleased and I told him I was upset about being overcharged. He said “Don’t worry about it. These things happen. You never know this one little setback in some weird way may have prevented something worse from happening. Think of it as sadaqa (charity)”. I thought I’d rather give my charity to some place that deserves it rather than irate bus drivers. But just then I remembered that that’s what Mama always says too. Whenever we lose money or a belonging and are feeling really bad about it, she says “think of it as charity and if that’s your intention, then you’ll get the reward for it even if someone stole it”.

Then the person reminded me of a hadees quoting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) as saying that when something good happens to a Muslim, he is satisfied and thanks God. But also when something bad happens, a Muslim is satisfied knowing that God must have something better in store for him.

I just let go of whatever resentment or anger I was feeling at that point telling myself it was such a little thing, I shouldn’t ruin my day over it. I just smiled. I thanked the brother (I never really call people ‘brothers’ but this guy deserves it) and told him that he really cheered me up and that inshallah I’d have a great day.

And I did.

Just passed!


I passed my driving test today! I feel so light. This was my second attempt and at some point during the test I thought “Oh I think I’ve failed, what’s the point now?” so when the examiner told me at the end that I had passed, I asked him again if I had. He said, “Have you gone a bit deaf? How come your listening is affected now?” lol. Ok so that wasn’t a really pc comment, but it was music to my ears!

I gave my instructor a big slice of my leftover birthday cake (pink with ballerina slippers, in case you’re interested) with my thanks.

I think the two things I’m most excited about are:

1. My family will most probably be visiting me sometime in August (as soon as they get their visas) and I’m really looking forward to being able to drive them around.

2. Commuting to Oxford would become a bit easier and more flexible when I have the option of driving! I may have to leave home really early to beat rush hour traffic and all that, but for now I’m not thinking about it.

Anyone want a ride? :)