What have I been up to?
Hosting Chai and Ismo from Georgia. In the 90 degree heat. Feeding them grilled cheese sandwiches that TP made. Making them sit at home and watch deeweedee after deeweedee.

Hosting Oz from Louisville. In the 100 degree heat. Feeding him tacos that TP made. Making him dust, do the dishes, and repair LB's sink.

Hosting Giz and Iz from B'ham, UK. In the 110 degree heat. Feeding them salad that TP made. Making them stay awake to see the monuments and then forcing them to sleep with no A/C.

Hosting my parents from Jeff. In the 80 degree heat. Feeding them daal that TP made. Making Mom pay for the repair of our skylight and making Dad scrape and sand that door.


Going to Jaleo (a Spanish tapas restaurant) with family and friends and getting fed a sample of or an entire dish of:

1. Garbanzos con espinacas 'Que bien cocinas, Tichi' - Moorish stew of chickpeas and spinach
2. Patatas al 'Cabrales' - Potatoes with 'Cabrales' cheese sauce
3. Cazon en adobo al estilo de Cadiz - Marinated fried shark like people do in Cadiz
4. Manzanas con Manchego - Apple and Manchego salad
5. Pollo al ajillo con salsa verde - Grilled chicken with green sauce
6. Espinacas a la Catalana - Spinach sauteed with pine nuts, raisins & apples
7. Tortilla de patatas al momento - Classical Spanish potato & onion omelet made to order
8. Patatas bravas - Fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce & alioli
9. Arroz con setas al Idiazabal - Traditional rice with mushrooms and smoked Idiazabal cheese

I'm such a horrible hostess.


1. Fresh fish - yes, especially spicy tuna rolls
2. Lobster - yah, but was injured in Maine and am once bitten, twice shy now
3. Steak - yep
4. Thai food - you know it; but i'd like to eat it in Thailand some day
5. Chinese food - but don't enjoy it in the US; France, Italy, and Pakistan is a different matter
6. Ice cream - duh
7. Pizza - double duh
8. Crab - aye, especially Maryland's famous crabby patties
9. Curry - triple duh
10. Prawns - i'm sure some have found their way into my meal, but i wouldn't choose it
11. Moreton Bay Bugs - no, gah! i need to get to Australia!
12. Clam chowder - yeah, wikkid pissah
13. Barbecues - yes, even in South Africa
14. Pancakes - ah, Mom's chocolate chip pancakes. . .
15. Pasta - at least once a week
16. Mussels - yes, thanks to TP
17. Cheesecake - Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake is to die for
18. Lamb - i'm Muslim, aren't i?
19. Cream tea - ummm, don't think so
20. Alligator - yes, in Florida
21. Oysters - nay
22. Kangaroo - a thousand nays!
23. Chocolate - that's like asking me if i breathe
24. Sandwiches - sir, yes, sir!
25. Greek food - mmm . . . feta and olives
26. Burgers - affirmative
27. Mexican food - cheese and avocados and salsa - who could resist?
28. Squid - no
29. American diner breakfast - yes, at all hours of the night and day
30. Salmon - raw, baked, grilled, seared, and (Mom's favorite) cajun style
31. Venison - see above comment on barbeque
32. Guinea pig - never. ever. ever. jeez.
33. Shark - sure did
34. Sushi - do you people not know me at all?
35. Paella - yes, especially in Madrid
36. Barramundi - what the . . . apparently BBC really wants me to go to Australia
37. Reindeer - awww, poor Rudolph
38. Kebab - seriously?
39. Scallops - yep
40. Australian meat pie - oh, come on, mate! enough!
41. Mango - yes, in fresh, iced, and liquid forms
42. Durian fruit - only in popsicle form
43. Octopus - no, but i think that LB and/or TP has; does that count?
44. Ribs - certainly no porky ones
45. Roast beef - great with horseradish
46. Tapas - yes, especially in Spain and in DC
47. Jerk chicken/pork - yep, jerk chicken in Belize
48. Haggis - i'd eat a guinea pig or a kangaroo before i ate that
49. Caviar - no thanks, snooty two-shoes
50. Cornish pasty - yes, in York

37 out of 50. How did you gourmands do?


Another guest post by O:

The bane of my current existence: plumbing.

When the topic of replacing a faucet came up I was ready to give it a go. I mean seriously, who among us hasn't watched "This Old House" and though to ourselves, "wow, I could probably do that?" I willing undertook the project - though with the requisite amount of [suppressed] trepidation; after all, I am a theorist and have actually never done this before.

Of course, when dealing with plumbing I do know to shut off the water. (After all, I didn't want Desi Arnez to come running in and say "O! You've made a big mess in here...") I've read that this can be tricky, as the valves are notoriously prone to self-sealing from disuse. They turned freely, the water was off and I removed my client's faucet (for I am visiting, and thus have no faucet of my own on which to focus these whims of construction) without a problem. I'd also read that this removal can be difficult and so with two of the admittedly more difficult steps completed, I was well on my way.

It may have been at this time that I began to get a bit smug. I cannot recall; subsequent toiling and analysis has clouded my memories of my mind-set at that time. Perhaps I thought to myself that I was really, really good. If these thoughts weren't yet in my mind they surely entered after I proceeded to successfully install the new faucet! Bright and shiny without a leak in sight! At this point in time I knew with little doubt that I was indeed really, really good.

With the faucet in place I was then well on my way to the removing and then replacing the drain plug. The removal went smoothly and after a bit of improvisation - oh yes, I can improvise plumbing fixtures now! - I reassembled the pipes and called my client into the workspace for the inaugural "running of the water." Success!

It was at this time that I distinctly remember interlocking my fists and shaking them over my shoulders. [First right, then left.] This jubilation was witnessed by my assistant. I'm sure my smile was so genuine it could have passed for photogenic... And then in happened.

Drip, drip, drip.
And it wasn't just one joint; indeed all three connections began to cry. I was crushed but not defeated and so for the better part of the next hour I pondered and reconfigured: drip, drip, drip. I removed and resealed: drip, drip, drip. I furrowed my brow and stroked my chin: drip, drip, drip. Defeat.

The next day brought a trip to the hardware store and hope that newer fittings would seal correctly. A pipe was cut - oh yes, I'm cutting pipe now! - and placed optimistically. Still leaking. Again I resealed and tightened the fittings with in mixture of frustration and rage. Still leaking.

Finally the expert was brought in. ["I'm bringing in the Wolf"]. Yes, I was depressed, but I was also happy that the burden was being shifted to someone who was more than just a theorist.

I briefed the expert on the current situation.

Onlookers: Do you guys need anything?
Expert: Yes, a plumber!
Me: [inaudible snickering]

After sighs of consternation and grunts of force ("man, you really torqued it!") the drain was removed and carefully analyzed. Subsequent discussion and expert analysis yielded a morale-saving conclusion: the new drain was designed to fit neither the sink nor the pipes in our project.
And so tomorrow brings yet another trip to yet another hardware store.
Stay tuned...

Down but not out,


Editor's note: The following is a guest blog...

O's Observations

So I've been visiting this week and thought it appropriate to pen a few observations about the past couple of days. Of course, I'll do this in scientific, non-literary, list format:

1. When a crowded metro car is a welcomed respite from the heat, you know it's hot outside.
2. Boy scouts are very patriotic.
3. The satisfaction one gets from touring a museum is inversely proportional to the price of admission.
4. The British version of "The Office" is vastly superior to the American attempt.
5. Holding - and eating with - a spoon while grasping it like a tennis racquet is funny.
6. Eating pizza keeps one young. (Actaully, I've known this for quite some time. I just though I'd share my knowledge...)
7. Apparently my parents were right; filp-flops are too casual to be worn indoors.


Can't post.

Must read Harrrrrry Potterrrrrr (said with trilly Desi/pirate "ahrrrr") before third wave of family members come to visit.

And eat. Thx for the haleem, Literaunty!

And sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep; oh, how I've missed thee.


Yeah, sure, the International Spy Museum with its KGB lipstick pistol and crawlable ventilation shaft. Alright, okay, the National Air and Space Museum with its Spirit of St. Louis and Apollo 11 Command Module. But the best? The favorite? The kick-ass, never disappointing, most exotic one of all? The Freer and Sackler Galleries.

As if the extensive, world renowned Asian art (the Peacock Room!), the serene inner courtyard (with fountain!), and the lovely rooftop Victorian Garden (ka-BLOOM!) is not enough, this month's free (FREE!) 10th anniversary "Made in Hong Kong" film festival brought us Kung Fu Hustle in all its hi-yah, slap-sticky, outrageous, over-the-top, silly, cartoony goodness.

A +.


A year ago today, to celebrate TP's birthday, we went to a nice Indian restaurant for dinner and loaded up on yummy food. By the time we left, I had a full belly and was very sleepy. On our drive back, TP made a right when he should have gone straight and prompted me to turn my head and look at him sideways. When he made another right instead of turning left to get us back on track, I pointed out his directional mistake in none too dulcet a manner: "This is not the way home, Bozo!" He gently explained that he wanted to swing by the National Catheral for a quick look at the gardens before the sun set: "Calm down! I know where I'm going, Monkeyboots!" I glared, sat back with my disgruntled arms (you know, arms lightly crossed which is not the same as "angry arms" which involves tightly crossed arms), and kept quiet. As we neared the Cathedral grounds, I brightened up because it really is such an amazing work of art and architecture and the gardens in full bloom are a sight to behold.

We parked in the shadow of the towering stone building and under the watchful eyes of the many gargoyles, strolled through the garden, stopped and smelled the voluptous roses, and pinched off bits of lavender, mint, and fennel. When we wound our way to the gazebo to watch the grand finale of the sun set, TP got down on one knee, proposed to me, and made me -- ME: little miss tomboy who had to have short hair because her long hair tangled in the limbs of the trees she climbed, who preferred Thundercats to Strawberry Shortcake, who would take a hi-yah movie over a sappy love story anytime -- cry. He placed on my finger a temporary engagement ring that sported a design of elephants facing each other and whose trunks formed hearts all the way around.

We lived happily ever after.

The End.


NJ, yaar, I am American (via Wales and sometimes, for kicks, Scotland) and Paksitani, yo! You bettah re'ckinize!

Which reminds me that after my meeting Hijabman, I should update the Six Degrees of Blogeration.


For thine information:

TP's band (as of this weekend named "Group Captain Mandrake" - from "Dr. Strangelove") is now back in full swing even though the basement is still half in shambles. The drywall is up, the carpet is down, but there are still noticeable gaping holes in some of the walls and exposed wires threatening unwary travellers. Abandon hope, all ye who enter. Also, bring down some chips and sodas.

My sister-in-law came to visit us this weekend and we took her out for South Indian vegetarian food, made her sleep in an un-air-conditioned room, and taught her how to make bhindi. I'll turn the whole family into desis yet!

Baby panda was born at the zoo this weekend - the size of a 'stick of butter'. Awww. And yum!

For all you well-wishers, here's a pix of Squeaky McGee. And here he is on his way to attend a very important meeting with some very important people.

In anticipation of my laziness and failure to update, let me be the first to wish Najm, TP, and Julestress a very happy birthday.


A few years ago, my cousin and her family came to visit us over their winter holidays. We adults dropped off the boys at another cousin's house while we hit up Leesburg's outlet mall. To keep them occupied and entertained, the other cousin took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's where they stuffed their faces with pizza, ran around like wild beasts, and played videogames. Engaging in a bout of acrobatics, magic, and perhaps contortionism, the youngest of the boys (I call him "Squeaky McGee") managed to mangle his finger in the machinery of one of the games. We raced back to find him miserably clutching his bloody finger and howling like a banshee when anyone tried to inspect it and see if he needed stitches.

We drove him home with a huge wad of tissues wrapped around his little finger and along the way, I tried to explain to him the concept of infection ("like, you know, BUGS and stuff might grow in there!") and clotting ("dude, let us look at it and we can get the tissues to stop turning red!"). No cajoling, no reasoning, no threats worked. When we got him home, I pulled out my secret weapon.

"Check it out. If you let me look at it, I promise, I won't hurt you. I'll be very gentle. If it hurts, tell me and I'll stop right there. Just let me make sure it's not all black and gross. Then, I'll let you have one of these."

(long pause, contemplation, reluctant agreement)

It worked. The tears dried up, the mouth fell open in awe, and the finger was cleaned, neosporined, and bandaged.

Last night, after mutilating my own thumb, I found one last secret weapon. It still manages to heal, to glow in the dark, and to bring a smile to my lips. Viva SpongeBob!


This weekend, I:

  • Talked to a blind guy about the National Federation of the Blind 2005 National Convention being held in Louisville, about siblings, about Islam, and about the couple in front of us who spent FIVE MINUTES, no joke, giving instructions to the cat-sitter on how much to feed the cat (1.5 cups of chow per day which could be given as (1) three-quarters of a silver cup in the morning and three-quarters of a silver cup at night or (2) one and a half white plastic cup in the morning and none at night or (3) one silver cup in the morning and half a white plastic cup at night).
  • Checked out Dad's garden where I snagged the first cherry tomato of the season, admired the okra, and lamented the loss of the kk which is being started over from scratch after the lawn guy thought they were weeds and ripped them down last summer.
  • Enjoyed Mom's internet-recipe-based goodies.
  • Got mah nails did.
  • Attended an Indian/Vietnamese/American mehndi featuring the Hilton sisters, a young "Spanish Lady," the "nerdy duo," and various other 12 year old girls dancing with the suggestive, uncomfortable, adult moves. Bonus: almost tossed the contents of the goodie bag into my mouth until I realized it contained pearl earrings and a pearl necklace. Subtract points: dumping a cup full of kheer on Mom's lap.
  • Tried to reprogram the garage door opener.
  • Was made aware of my first white hair.
  • Laughed my throat raw hanging out with the cousins and aunts/uncles/elders.
  • Held, smiled, and cooed at delicate premie Adam (born 4 lbs 9 oz) and then tried to rough-house, pinch, and swing hefty Hamza (now somewhere around 358 lbs).
  • Attended an Indian/Vietnamese/American wedding featuring the "All In-Laws Chorus Extravaganza," thank you notes immediately hand-delivered to the tables while guests went to the buffet, and friends with whom we plotted and came up with all sorts of machinations to avenge ourselves for Gavin's prior wedding schemes. Bonus: amazingly ordered wedding. Subtract points: eggrolls were so oily that when I pressed down on it with my fork, I could see the oil pooling up and around the tines.
  • Made aloo samosas (puff pastries, zindabad!).
  • Drank copious cups of chai, gorged on gosht, and finished a whole bag of those crunchies - you know what I'm talking about, right?
  • Got some new kicks.
  • Hulled two boxes of strawberries and watched them disappear within the hour.
  • Read nothing, took two naps, ate way too many red hots, and couldn't shake the holiday weekend mode until around 3pm today.