Needle in the . . . HEY!

I have track marks on both of my arms. My left arm shrieks in pain when I move it and my right arm is saturating the wad of cotton pressed against the latest puncture. I have nae taken up any dirty habits other than the one that potentially got me in this position in the first place: indulging my sweet tooth. Turns out that I may have gestational diabetes. The good news is that it will probably go away once Baby X makes her appearance. The possible bad news is that I may have to start watching what I eat and *shudder* start exercising if the results of my glucose tolerance test doesn't meet my doctor's approval.

What does the test involve, you ask? The first step is drinking this odious glucose-heavy, fruit-punch-flavored abomination (imagine making Kool-Aid with four times as much powder than the instructions call for) and getting your blood drawn and tested an hour later. If you pass, as I did last time, you are free to go about your cannoli-lovin' business. If you don't, as I did not this time, you can't pass go, you can't collect $200, and you must go directly to a lab for a second, longer, more painful test.

This morning, having not eaten since 8 p.m. last night, I arrived at the lab at 8 a.m. to get my first vial of blood drawn and quartered. The vampire who stuck me seemed not to be able to get the blood out without leaving a huge bruise behind. My reward for gritting my teeth was to down yet another sugar solution guaranteed to dissolve what little enamel on my teeth I had left from the last round. Oh, and I had five minutes to do it. The drink was cold which helped numb my taste buds but it was no more pleasant than before.

I sat in the waiting room and got through quite a bit of the book I'm reading these days, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia, when I was called away from beautiful Rome and its lovely pasta and gelato and mozzerella to get another jabbing at 9 a.m. with an encore performance at 10 a.m. and, by popular demand, a final curtain call at 11 a.m. By this time, I was nearly dizzy and faint with hunger and queasiness and ants-in-my-pants syndrome (it's a perfectly cromulent condition, you can look it up). I left the lab with four wounds in my arms, the first named "Bruiser," the second named "Better," the third named "I think she's finally gotten it," and the fourth named "Holy Hell, I retract my previous statement." I gingerly tottered out of the lab and called TP to pick my aching self up while I tried to eat a veggie burrito from Chipotle in the same amount of time I had to drink that vile liquid.

So now, I wait. By Friday I'll find out whether I am given a reprieve and permitted to eat all the sugary snacks my heart desires or whether I am consigned to a lifestyle of sugar-free this and what's-the-point that. If it's the latter, Baby X is in for a world of time-outs.


Lost Weekend

When they come out to find you
And they cannot describe you
Someone somewhere has to buy you out of your weekend

Friday is the fever
And Monday the destroyer
You are a permanent feature
Perpetual weekend

on a wired morning, there’s a city growing in my head
Where there is no weekend

When they come out to find you
And they can multiply you
Someone’s been caught in the crossfire
Of your weekend

Friday is the teacher
And Monday the tormentor
You are a new kind of creature
Perpetual weekend

on a wired morning, there’s a city growing in my head
Where there is no weekend

You took the “end”
You took the “end” out of the weekend

Days something or other: Isloo
What are the tricks of the trade to writing a travelogue? I usually carry a small journal with me and whenever there is some downtime, i.e. my traveling companion is brushing his/her teeth at night, I'm on a plane/train/automobile, etc., I take the opportunity to compose some thoughts and jot down observations so that, upon my return, I can flesh them out and share them with you. This time, however, the downtime was on the slim side. Whatever moment of peace I had to myself was spent eating, sleeping, or bathing. I brought two books with me (The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones by Anthony Bourdain and Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert) and cracked open neither of them. That is why, this final post is a mishmash of the weekend rather than a well-thought-out entry. In exchange, however, I will provide a pix to enjoy.

So, Friday morning was spent running around getting ready for the wedding, the afternoon was spent attending the wedding, and the evening was spent recovering from the wedding. We had promised my cousin Naima that we'd go out one night, just the cousins, but with our departure looming ahead and limited time on our hands, we ended up bringing the night to us. We fashioned our own homemade HotSpot with various snacks and played several rounds of the card game three-two-five.

Saturday morning, the boys went to the archeological site Taxila to get their history and culture on while LB and I were escorted by Aunty Nusrat for one last shopping spree. We weren't going to take all of those rupees home with us! We all met up for lunch at Umber's in-law's house and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening trying to cram everything from carpets to cricket bats into our luggage for our early flight the next day.

Sunday morning, we were up before dawn to gather all our luggage, passengers, and hugs goodbye. Honestly, the next 24 hours were a blur. I do remember running around the terminal to get us checked-in, hanging out in the VIP lounge in the vicinity of Imran Khan (pre-jail, of course), and struggling to try to break ZP of his newly-discovered habit of lap-jumping while in a moving vehicle. The flight from Isloo to London was rough because everyone was awake but oh so very tired. I spent my time in Heathrow during the six hour layover indulging in hot chocolate and then running around the length and breadth of the terminals in search of whole milk (also known as "full cream") for ZP. I felt like Hagar only my Safa and Marwa were known as WHSmith and Boots. Thank goodness for the ubiquitous Starbucks. Our delayed flight finally arrived and the trip from London to DC was much more relaxed - mostly because everyone was knocked out.

Lesson of the weekend: If someone asks for Pakistani decorations, netting, and hand-painted clay bowls for a wedding in the U.S., better pack it yourself rather than rely on someone else arranging them loosely in shoeboxes such that they arrive with some intact, some shattered, and some dangling from the cardboard box.


Well, a fake Jamaican took every last dime with that scam; It was worth it just to learn from sleight-of-hand

Day Seven: Isloo
A cold/flu swept through our family and thus delayed our Taxilla plans. We did, however, have enough energy for another shopping outing at the Nomad Art Gallery (prized for its fixed-price arts and crafts) and Supermarket (prized for its bargain-friendly goods). It was instructional, as always, to observe the various negotiating tactics of our family members. TP and KG were clearly outsiders and thus were not permitted to purchase items directly because they would likely be hosed. LB and I have caveman-level speaking skills in Urdu, so we were pretty much lumped into the same category. Therefore, we silently browsed, poked around, and handled everything and once something caught our interest, we walked away. We notified our host shopper of our desires. And then the native host shopper took over. The bargaining strategy commenced in one of three ways:

*Diplomacy - my aunt favored this tact and would use a combination of logic, persuasion, and patriotism to get a good deal.

*Supply-and-demand - my father would approach the first vendor, name his price, and when the vendor didn't immediately concede, he would put the item down and stroll over to the neighboring vendor selling the identical stuff and possibly the next until someone got wise and gave him what he wanted at the price he wanted.

*Bossy boots - my cousin employed all of her decades of shopping experiences to bully the salesperson into complying with her demands. She would gather the items, engage in a brief negotiation, and once the clerk bagged the items, she gathered our stuff and laid the smack down, tossed the money she thought was sufficient to cover the price on the counter, and strutted away from the pleading merchant and out of the shop in a flurry of meaningless agreements, head-shaking, and dismissive hand-waving. Worked like a charm every time.

It always cracks me up at how I wouldn't blink at paying $30 for a beautiful, hand-made embroidered pillow cushion in the U.S., but I balk at paying more than $3 for the same thing in Pakistan.

Alas, brought down by body-aches and sniffles, we cut our shopping trip early and returned home for lunch and rest before attending my cousin's nikkah. Under the tents, we were served halva puri - a mouth-watering melange of sweet halva (cream of wheat), spicy chanay (chick peas), and hot, puffy puris (light-as-air flat bread). We washed this down with the delicious pink Kashmiri Chai which, with its salt, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, almonds, and pistachios, was practically a meal in itself.

Lesson of the Day: It's difficult for a salesperson to resist money out in the open, ready to hand over if only the price was reduced by 50%.


Advertising looks and chops a must, NO BIG HAIR!

Day Six: Isloo
We were all too exhausted and wrung out from our trip to Lahore so our early departure for Murree was replaced with a late departure for antique and faux-antique shopping for the boys and beauty day at my aunt's Depilex Salon for the girls. While one aunt got her "hair did," LB and I got the fastest but still incredibly intricate mehndi on our hands in anticipation of the upcoming wedding. It dried in minutes and the color was nice and dark. With time to spare, LB convinced me to try out threading. The threading itself didn't hurt as much as I thought it would because the trained professional worked quickly and efficiently and left not a splotch or mark on my brow that usually follows a waxing treatment. What did make me squirm and eventually tear up, however, was her assistant's attempt to hold my eyelid closed and stretched out to pull it away from the brow for easier lining. She was pressing down so hard that I half expected to see my eyeball plucked out of its socket and jammed onto her thumb, rather like the plum after Jack Horner had his way with the pie.

After Umber picked us up for a quick but fruitless shopping spree, we returned home. Umber had raided her safety deposit box to find jewelry for us to wear to match our outfits. Gold versus diamonds . . . choices choices, ah me. Upon hearing that my neglected toes had no polish on them, Dania treated me to a home pedicure which beats any pedicure I have ever had. Ever. She sat me down, brought over a tub filled with warm, soapy water, and proceeded to scrub, trim, file, and paint my nails with a gentle but firm touch that was neither ticklish nor rough. I tipped her by foisting ZP on her while I ran downstairs for a lovely lunch of bindhi. Heh.

We stopped over at my Nanaji's house for a brief visit in the afternoon and revisited old photographs and old stories. After some much needed naps, we scrambled to get dressed and attend our own joint Valima-slash-family reunion at the Islamabad Golf Club. To Dad's dismay, the club's strict dress code forbade him from wearing a shalwar kameez without a vest so he had to settle for a boring old suit instead. The rest of the evening was spent greeting family members, soon-to-be family members, and friends while the kids ran around like maniacs on the wide, manicured lawns outside.

Lesson of the day: The secret ingredient to the perfect pedicure is love.


Oh thunder road, sit tight take hold

Day Five: Ladian and Bhurch
With monsoon season over and mosquito season beginning, ZP and I were treated to a few unwelcome bites through the night which resulted in a tired, cranky, and itchy couple. After breakfast, we quietly boarded the coaster and joined the morning rush hour traffic to get through Lahore. The farther away we got from Lahore, the clearer our stuffed up noses became. Everyone was subdued on the smooth stretch of the Motorway but once we hit the Grand Trunk Road, which was jacked up beyond belief, our calm serenity gave way to head-clutching, teeth-rattling, and body-aching. The morning chai caught up to us and I can guarantee you that tremendously bumpy roads plus uncomfortably full bladder equals torture. Desperate for a bathroom break, we pulled into a shabby gas station along the side of the road, rolled up our pants, wrapped up our loose ends of clothing, and hit the alaturkas.

Of course, bathroom breaks deserve bathroom-themed stories and so my mother regaled us with a tale of the first time LB came to Pakistan. The night before the flight back to the States, baby LB was not feeling well and ran through the available stash of diapers. Upon boarding the PIA airplane, my father asked the flight attendant for some diapers which they kept on board for the passengers. She replied that once the flight took off, she would come back with some. So he waited and she never showed up. He tracked her down and asked for them again. This time, she said, "oh, we are out." Apparently, the stewardesses used to steal the snacks and drinks and supplies and Dad knew this so he gave her this choice: "either you bring me the diapers or else I will use the cloth headrests on the backs of these chairs as diapers." Two minutes later, she showed up with the diapers. Heh.

That story is a nice segue to the introduction of the villages we were entering where neat rows of hand-pressed manure lined the outside of some of the buildings, don't you think? Some how, our Lahori driver managed to navigate the huge twelve-seater coaster down the winding, narrow alleys of the Bhurch and Ladian without a single scrape. We were greeted by various family members at the entrance of the residential section and while Mom, Aunty Farhat, and I were driven to the house in style in an air-conditioned car, the rest of the group hoofed it, followed closely by curious children in various states of dress and undress. I took advantage of my delicate condition and immediately usurped someone's bed and took a nap while everyone else paid their visits, ate their elevenses, and pretty much followed the same route that we followed during our last visit.

ZP was introduced to motorcycles, goats, parakeets, and cows, cows, cows. With his exponentially expanding vocabulary, he was getting quite chatty and was proud to point out all of the things he could identify ("beep beep, car" in particular was a constant refrain). When we finally wrestled him down to release the birdcage and take a nap, we enjoyed a spicy lunch at Gul Nawaz's house before loading back into the coaster for the remainder of the journey back to Islamabad. GT Road got a bit better the closer we got to the city but the traffic, construction, and poor road conditions still took its toll. Some amazing and much needed hot sweet-and-sour chicken soup, delicious and hearty haleem (I had about three servings of it), and soothing mint tea greeted us upon our much delayed arrival home. Complete collapse followed.

Lesson of the day: Creative threats to airline personnel can go a long way.


She's alone in the new pollution She's got a paradise camouflage

Day Three: Isloo
Delirious from lack of sleep, TP and I stayed behind while LB and KG took a tour of Islamabad highlights: the Rose and Jasmine Gardens, the museum, an informal cricket match, the flower monument, Said Pur Village. You'll have to entreat them to get the details on the excursions. I don't have much to report either because I spent the morning trying to catch up on sleep but the constant but well-meaning interruptions thwarted my efforts. Really, the only noteworthy events of this day include Aunty Nusrat's famous Burmese Oo No Kauk Sway, watching ZP's "uncle" Rafay (age 4) take him under his wing and teach him how to play mini-golf, having some gup shup with Aunty Tukki and Uncle Zak about the finer points of cricket while sipping tea in the upstairs lounge, and going to Daman-e-Koh for a view of Islamabad at night. TP counted the trip up Margalla Hills a success because along the way we caught sight of a family of wild boar, jackals, and monkeys. [note: family did not consist of all of these animals; only the wild boars were family while the jackals and monkeys were neighbors and drifters]

Since Day Three was pretty uneventful, I'll go ahead and throw in Day Four.

Day Four: Lahore
Pile one grandfather, one uncle, one aunt, one of each parent, one sister, one brother-in-law, one husband, one son, a driver, a valet, and me into a coaster and you've got the makings of some fine comedy (hopefully not as dysfunctional as the crew of "Little Miss Sunshine"). We jumped onto the smooth-as-silk, three-lane M2 Motorway and headed west to Lahore. Crossing the river Jhelum, we were given brief history and geography lessons along the way. Vast salt ranges drew stories of Gandhi's Salt Satyagraha. ZP was fantastic the whole way; perhaps relishing the fact that he was not strapped into a car seat and was free to lap-jump at his pleasure and leisure.

Upon arriving in Lahore, our first stop was at the Naval Mess to unpack, have some refreshing cold drinks, and regroup. We began our tour of Lahore, world-renowned for its tradition of fine food and love of cuisine, with, of all things, a quick stop at McDonald's. I have not darkened a door of a McDonald's in ten years. If not for the need for speed, I would not have done so this time. But we needed to fuel ourselves for the day ahead and this was the fastest option. Rest assured, those of you who crave certainty and familiarity, the burgers and fries at the Macca's in Pakistan are just the same as those in the US.

Lahore Fort, a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, allowed us to stretch our legs, admire the mosaics and gilt, and pose for pictures on the canons. Badshahi Mosque, another prime example of the Mughal era grandeur, loomed majestically over us. The last time I was here, LB's friend came with us and the combination of sizzling summer heat, ultra-fizzy soda, and running up the steps of the mosque ended with arms crossed over the belly and "Aunty . . . I don't feel so . . . BLECH!" Shalimar Gardens were in a state of neglect and did not have the same impact as it did years ago when the grass was lush, the flowers clearly tended to, and fountains actually clean and operating rather than in disrepair with the water coated in a thick layer of green moss.

Other stops included the Lahore Railway Station, Kim's Gun, and the Wazir Khan Hammam, but the chaotic traffic and unbelievable pollution took its toll on us and the rest was a blur. I did not recall how bad the air quality was in Lahore but the blanket of haze that covered the city by the late afternoon was insufferable. The breath-taking wonders of the morning's tour of the gorgeous and intricate architecture gave way to the evening's literally breath-taking smog that drove us back to our quarters, exhausted and congested. Our plans to dine at the brothel-turned-restaurant Cuckoo's Nest were exchanged for a quiet dinner at the Naval Mess with various family members dropping by. We gratefully had an early night to rest our weary bones after the hectic day.

Lesson of the day: Consider taking a cue from the Asians and don a face mask to filter some of the pollution entering your nasal passages when trekking through Lahore.


A little spending money, money to burn, money that you did not necessarily earn

Day Two: Isloo
We were compelled to sleep in this morning because SOME little toddler seemed to think that it was the middle of the afternoon instead of midnight and wanted company. Thankfully, we had brought our portable DVD player and some Wiggles DVDs so between that and the miniature plastic golf set my cousin Dania thoughtfully brought out, ZP was occupied. Between the energetic baby, the overeager roosters, and the high-strung neighboring dogs and/or jackals, little sleep was had that night. Luckily, a late breakfast awaited us and we still had time to eat, wash up, and meet my cousin Umber for a shopping trip to the exotically named "Supermarket." My cousin Bilal had very generously given his sisters, LB, and me his first salary's paycheck (I always thought the tradition for when someone gets a new job was that he/she had to treat the family to ice cream, but cold hard cash is good too!) so we had plenty of money to burn.

Our shopping excursion began with the small stuff: postcards, khussas, and bootleg DVDs that upon a later viewing we discovered had crystal clear pictures but no sound. I guess you get what you pay for (in this case: $2.00). After TP bought some paintings (we'll see if those ever make it up on our walls) and KG bought some curly-toed khussas (we'll see if those ever make it onto his feet), we all adjourned to Umber's husband's office conveniently located right above the stores to let our feet rest, admire the view of Margalla Hills, and quench our thirst with ultra-fizzy, glass-bottled soft drinks. Another stop at our favorite store Khaadi and then back home for lunch and naps.

The evening was spent celebrating my cousin Saba’s birthday. Aunty Tukki laid out a buffet of Chinese food. Normally, I don't like Chinese food, but (a) this is only true in the U.S. because time and time again I've found that Chinese food elsewhere is invariably better and (b) nothing beats home-cooking!

Lesson of the day: make the DVD shop test out your DVD before you shell out your hard-earned money for an illegal copy of an artist's work that in your home country you are honor-bound and paid to protect.

*We interrupt your regularly scheduled travelogue to present the following poll with no commercial interruptions*

BLOG POLL 2007: Sonogram Day.
Is Baji going to have a bonnie wee lassie or another scalliwag boy? Vote and find out!


Come be the first in line To shake the hand of mine

Day One: Isloo

Having been swept up into the loving arms of our clan, we spent the morning washing up, eating, and either going to Friday prayers in the colossal Faisal Mosque or unpacking. We dedicated a chunk of time to sort out what finery we would don for the various functions, fetes, and fiestas for the week. With the shiny new DSL connection installed at the house, we emailed our crew back home that despite the horrible news of death and destruction in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan, we were far away from the maelstrom in Karachi and were safe and sound.

In the evening, the hoards descended upon us for a family BBQ, eager to meet TP and KG and especially Prince ZP. The boys were disoriented but quickly recovered and became comfortable with the onslaught of family members introducing themselves, trying to summarize how they were related to them, and asking if they had enough to eat. Since it was KG's birthday, the BBQ included silver trays steaming with vegetarian dishes, a grill station with lamb, beef, and chicken, and an assortment of drinks, including the ever-popular, toxic-green, cream-soda-like "Pakola." To celebrate KG's birthday, the night ended with a decadent chocolate cake and a full-on chocolate fountain.

ZP had a blast running around with his newly formed crew of ruffians and minders. He barely looked back but once he did catch sight of us, he would come barreling over for a quick (and literal) pick-me-up and then squirm out of our arms to join his gang. I knew that, despite allowing him to run headlong on the driveway near treacherous pitfalls and thorny bushes, he was in good hands. I was certain that ZP's first scar would begin that evening, but he escaped unscathed throughout the trip. It was with a nostalgic smile that I watched the newest generation risking life and limb in the garden and driveway while my cousins and I, now the mommies and aunties, stood nearby and issued intermittent warnings and threats. It does not seem so long ago that my cousins and I practiced leaping from the seven-foot high closets onto thin mattresses laid out on skull-cracking marble floors or walking through the pitch-black night over cracked streets and unsteady bridges to the local bakery for some treats. Granted, we were not as daring as the generation above us who, apparently, not only tried to set off firecrackers inside the house, but actually tried to make their own homemade firecrackers from scratch. But we had our share of blood, bruises, and tears. Good times.

Lesson of the day: Do not be so naïve to think that your baby's physical exertion late at night will help him get over his jet lag. It won't.


Baji in the Sky With Diapers

I'm back! Shall we begin?

After a useless day at work, I rushed home to take a nap, pack, and take the last shower I would take for quite a while. Jamming extra diapers into everyone's luggage, throwing out the garbage, and turning on the lights to give the illusion of occupancy, we lugged our nine suitcases, six adults, five carry-on pieces, one baby, one baby stroller, one baby car seat (because StupidShuttle does not provide one even though it would be virtually useless in the non-seat-belt-believing country of Pakistan), and one stuffed monkey onto the shuttle. The driver took us through possibly the most congested route through rush hour DC to drop us off at Dulles Airport for our 10 p.m. flight.

Although my father has had to suffer the inconvenience of having a terroristic name and thus is an old hat at the SSSS (Super Special Security Silliness) procedure, this was the first time that I was subjected to the same. I really wish I had worn my "my name causes national security alerts, what does your's do?" t-shirt. Separated from the rest of my boring-named family, my father and I entered the puffing machine and had our bags hand-inspected when my personal attendant encountered a baby bottle full of milk but no baby attached. Due to the liquids restriction, I had to prove that I had a baby in the near vicinity to justify the milk. Luckily, I spotted my tall brother-in-law over the barrier strolling down the hall and motioned frantically for him to bring ZP to us. The scene was right out of a prison movie with me on one side of the glass wall waving and jabbering nonsense and ZP pressing his chubby palms against the glass to try to get closer to me; all that was missing was the corded phone so that we could talk to each other about that special cake he was going to bake me.

In retaliation for the indignity I had just suffered to get through security, I ordered a big plate of cheeseburgers and garlic fries for the enjoyment of my fellow passengers. We boarded the flight, settled ZP into his reclining baby seat that was perched up on a tray near our knees, and arrived in London the next day with eight hours to kill.

Not having slept much during the flight, I felt rather delirious. We found two armless benches (suitable for stretching out) near the window where we could watch the planes take off and land. I was so out of it that I was watching for the newspaper taxies to appear on the shore, waiting to take me away. I tried to sack out in the "quiet lounge," but between the snorers and the cell phone talkers, I didn't get much rest. TP and I left ZP in the care of my parents while we tried out Cafe Uno's soggy pizza and salad. LB and KG, in the meantime, had escaped the confines of the airport for a quick jaunt into the city.

We whiled away our time by entertaining ZP and snacking. An Afghani woman with twins spotted our group and over the course of a few hours, eventually sidled up to us until she was on the adjoining bench and was able to chat us up. I couldn't fathom how she managed to travel alone with two two-year old twins in tow, but figured out that one way was to befriend fellow parent travelers such as ourselves who were more than happy to watch her kids while she used the facilities/attended to one kid and then the next/etc. I bought her kids and mine some milk from the café and eventually we all headed over to our gate for the next leg of the journey.

The flight from the UK to Pakistan was not surprisingly miserable. There were two babies in our section that were sick and when one would drop off to sleep, the other would take up screaming, crying, and kicking. Then, they would trade off. ZP was well-behaved but every time he would nod off, another round of shrieks would fill the cabin and he would wake up. By the time we arrived in Islamabad, we were all bedraggled and bleary-eyed. Thankfully, my grandfather arranged for a shuttle to collect us from the airplane and whisk us away to the VIP lounge to rest while our luggage was attended to. After a brief mix-up with two of the nine suitcases, we sorted things out and took several vehicles back home for our welcome breakfast of parathas, omelets, and chai. I could go on, but that would dip into the tale of "Day One" which is coming up next. So. Stay tuned!

Lesson of the day: Do not travel whilst five-months pregnant with a feisty toddler unless you have an entourage to go with you.



Pack up. I'm straight. Enough. Oh, say say say . . .

We're off to Pakistan tonight: Cybermom, Cyberdad, Li'l Baji, Gunnar, TP, ZP, and me. We'll hit up Heathrow where half the group will attempt to venture out into the city during out eight hour layover while the other half test out the lounges and/or Holidecks. I wonder if Data will be there! Cuz that would rule.

After a full day of flying, we'll arrive in Islamabad just in time for Jummah. Despite some dread that Benazir Bhutto may have been on our flight from the U.K. and thus subjecting us to untold security delays, it appears that she is flying into Karachi so in that small regard, I think we are safe.

Our itinerary is jam-packed with welcome parties in Isloo, a trip to Lahore, a trip to Murree, a trip to Taxila, and a wedding thrown in just for fun. Much to Gunnar's chagrin, we will not be attending the cricket match between Pakistan and South Africa because the location of the game has been moved from Islamabad's rickety stadium to Faisalabad's presumably sturdier one. Also nixed? The suggestion to check out Peshawar.

So, lads and lassies, wish us bon voyage and stay tuned for the travelogue. So long, sukkahs!


Za Eid

Eid Mubarak, bloggers and blurkers! Hope everyone is enjoying a brisk, sunny day packed with family, feasts, and fun. We're off to Pakistan next week so if anyone has any tips on how to sedate and/or occupy a toddler on a trans-Atlantic/trans-European-Middle Eastern-Asian flight, let me know!


Lefty Loosey

With pregnancy brain looming large and in-charge, I'm relying more and more on mnemonic aids to get me through the day or just to stop my brain from rusting over and sealing shut when I try to remember which side the sun rises (thanks to an old American Airline's commercial, I can put that issue to bed: "From the sun rise in the east, to the sun set in the west, We're American Airlines, doing what we do best!"). Of course, that got me thinking about other tricks and rhymes I've learned over the years. Some of my favorites include:

  • My very edcuated mother, just served us nine pizza-pies = Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Pluto (back in the good old days when Pluto was still considered a planet)
  • Roy G. Biv = Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet (initials of colors of the rainbow)
  • No place like yours to study history well = Norman, Plantagenets, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover, Windsor (Royal Houses of Britain)
  • "Thirty days hath September/April, June and November." (Followed sometimes by "All the rest have thirty-one except February" which is a pretty lame rhyme)
  • Non-verbal aid is to use your knuckles on your hands with the hills (knuckles) being 31 days and the valleys (dips) being 30 days so that the 1st knuckle is January at 31 days ending with July at 31 days then repeating from the beginning with August at 31 days, etc.
  • "I" before "E" except after "C" and when sounding like "a" as in neighbor and weigh, (and on weekends and holidays and all throughout May, and you'll always be wrong no matter what you say! That's a hard rule. That's a . . . that's a rough rule.)
  • Red sky at night, sailor's delight; red sky in morning, sailor take warning.
  • A pint's a pound the world around (Thanks, Alton Brown!)
  • M i crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, hump back, hump back, i. = Mississippi
  • Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey = To tighten/loosen screws, nuts, bolts, etc.
  • Make the letter "L" with each hand by extending your first finger and your thumb and tucking the rest away - the one that actually looks like an "L" is your left.

Do you have any you'd like to share?


Birthday Suit

No, not THAT kind of birthday suit. Git yer gutter-mind up hyah on the sidewalk with the rest of us. Yesterday was my birthday and how did I spend it? In a suit. THIS kind of suit.

Despite the fact that ZP had a three-shot-doctor's appointment, that Gojira was in town to play, that it's the end of the fiscal year and everyone is scrambling to wrap things up, and that I should have spend the day being feted by co-workers, friends, and family, I had to go to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to attend a high-tech, three-judge-panel, completely unnecessary video hearing. I celebrated my day of birth by reviewing notes and going over my brief. I rang in a new age by squeezing into a freshly ironed suit and suddenly too-small shoes (yes, folks, pregnancy does have some permanent body-altering surprises that go beyond your belly and reach your feet).

So that you don't pity me too much, I will admit that the day had some positive attributes. Having already placed my order for a morning frappucino, I stood in line waiting to pay and when the cashier finally showed up and asked if I had already paid, I responded with "no not yet, but today's my birthday so you can give it to me for free if you want." To which the cashier responded, "okay." Score! I also got a birthday lunch and a few prezzies at work. But the highlight of the day was when Gojira and I got home, I played Brain Age until the crew showed up and we feasted on Thai food and chocolate cake and ZP even ate some stir fried rice and did not show any ill effects from his doctor's visit earlier in the day. The plus of having a birthday during the week is that you get to lay claim to the entire week. So let the birthday wishes begin!

Also, check it! Hijabman's product (and his chin, it appears) made it onto the Colbert Report! Check out the "Muslim Hipsters" link after the short Missy commercial.


Happy talk, keep talkin' happy talk

It's a gloomy, rainy, somber day today. So, let's lighten the mood with some happy talk, yes yes?

For my Muslim friends, early Ramdan Mubarak!
For my Jewish friends, early Hag Sameach!
For my Xtian friends, early Merry Xmas!

We just returned from a trip to North Carolina and between the petting zoo and the noticeable absence of mosquitoes, I can chalk this trip up to a success. Here's a pix of brave ZP approaching a big doggies with sawed-off horns.

I've signed up to participate in the "Pay it Forward" campaign that I learned about via wayfarer. Here's the deal: I'll send a gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange! I don't know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or even next week, but you will receive it within 365 days. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

My friends and I are having a Cookie Party tomorrow. On deck: peanut butter snickers cookies. Let's get ready to crrrrrumble!

Recently borrowed and finished reading The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman and then ordered a copy for myself. Yeah. It was that good.

So, that's my good news. Also, this. Heh. Your turn!


Happy happy joy joy

Happy Anniversary, TP! Can you believe it's been three years (plus or minus nine years)? Hope I get to see you for a minute or two today. xoxo, me



Random Bits
  • My new favorite show that I've never seen a full episode of but have seen various clips: Flight of the Conchords
  • Going to visit my in-laws next week - about time I got a hair cut
  • Excited about Heroes Season Two starting up again
  • Crostini and Labne - *contented sigh*
  • Anthony Bourdain's non-fiction is decidedly better-written and more enjoyable than his fiction
  • Going to see Sensai Abez avec HF Rat e Bebe Rat soon! Woot!
  • If the Metro keeps catching on fire, I may have to demand to work from home sooner than I'm allowed.
  • Treated myself to some Fresh Pink Jasmine Soap - smell me now, sukkahs!
  • Getting anxious about our trip to Pakistan with ZP - any suggestions on food/sleep/play?
  • Werner Hertzog is freaky
  • Why, oh, why do the fattest people insist on sitting next to, if not directly on, me in the metro?



Currently reading Comedy by the Numbers: The 169 Secrets of Humor and Popularity by Eric Hoffman and Gary Rudoren. Hee!

Currently listening to The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years by Elvis Costello. Woo!

Currently eating Trader Joe's Mac and Chee. Yum!

Currently watching Aliens in America. Hee!

Also, if you ever considered messing with me, please be aware that I am B.A.J.I. and you may want to reconsider.

Biomechanical Artificial Judo Individual

Get Your Cyborg Name


Dog Days of Summer

With outside temps threatening to reach a 110 degree heat index, I think I will spend most of my day inside the air-conditioned confines of my office. That said, I don't feel like working right now. I need to catch up on e-mails, phone calls, and the like, but I'll start with me blog since it has been sorely neglected.


So, yeah, the newunion was fantastic. I can't report on the NY-NJ-PA leg since I wasn't there, but the DC portion was chock full o' laughs, ice cream, used books, photos, and late nights. Those who were up early got to walk to the neighborhood bagelry and hit up Safeway for breakfast fixin's (including, but not limited to, New York Super Fudge Chunk pints of ice cream that were inexcusably overlooked). Those who were up late got to enter into Scrabbie competitions and gup shup sessions that, on at least one occassion, featured a surprise guest appearance by 2 Scoops himself.

Oh, sure, the DC Fringe Festival was going on. Yeah, the national museums, zoo, and botanical gardens were within easy reach. But what did we do instead? Hit the Diner right around the corner and gorge. Lounge around Dupont Circle with used books. Send the girls off to walk to Georgetown and the waterfront while the boys and I and LB headed back to nap and/or read HP. At least on the drive to Eastern Market I got to point out the landmarks and monuments so that they felt that they were in the nation's capital instead of just any old city. Still, for a tiny weekend, we managed to pack in a lot of stuff: eating, walking, and bonding. Good times.

Meanwhile, in our daily lives, not much has changed. I'm still trudging to work and looking forward to the day when my commute will be 45 seconds instead of 45 minutes each way. TP has been keeping busy with work and a surprising influx of requests for interviews. ZP has graduated from toddling to walking to running. We had a visit from the folks and the Admiral last weekend. We'll be heading out to NC for a visit with TP's folks in a few weeks. And before you know it, we'll be breaking in ZP brand-new, fancy-pants, biodata-privacy-invading, high-tech passport on our way to Pakistan.

UPDATE: Ever wonder how to perform the elegant "Berries and Cream" dance? Wonder no more.


Newunion 007

DeGrouchyOwl: 7071.7 miles. Love your cynicism, your wit, and your ability to down a sour-cherry pie with a planet-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream in nearly two bites.

Yasmine: 2434.1 miles. Love your obsession with books, your gleeful energy, and if there was ever an eyebrow throwdown between yours and Hijabmans, your eyebrows would totally crush his and laugh while his eyebrows wept.

TwoScoops: 2276.4 miles. Love your goofiness, your insane stories of attempting to drown others, and your limitless ability to laugh at yourself and others.

Anju: 198.3 miles. Love your sweetness with ZP, your uncomplaining nature with respect to pull-out couches in the middle of room, and your skillful ability to herd Yasmine through Eastern Market.

Hijabman: 121.5 miles. Love your chill attitude, your rockstar status of being recognized several times a day, and your unyielding conviction that it's perfectly cromulent to sing Celine Dion outloud in front of others.

Najm: 14.1 miles. Love your random observations, your voice during prayers, and your willingness to let ZP attempt to tear your beard out.

It was such a fantastic visit and I still can't believe we pulled it off. We missed Chai and HBiddy and Izbot and Shaheen and Abez, but thought of them often. Thanks for the good times, gang. And for the rockin' thank you card - seriously, I was touched. Door's open for ye anytime. Come back soon!

xoxo, Baji


monster mash birthday bash

Happy Birthday to TP and Najm! May your Bastilley Birthdays be rife with crepes, cafe, and lots of cadeaux!


Feelin' Hot Hot Hot

It's going to hit about 100 degrees today. I feel like Elphaba right after Dorothy threw the bucket of water on her: "I'm melting! I'm melting! What a world . . . what a world."

Also, Georgia was tremendously fun with a birthday party for the Admiral, quality time spent with the fam, and a tear-free introduction of ZP to the swimming pool complete with toys, splashing of toes, and yazz flute.

Also, can't wait for the upcoming newunion! Maybe I can convince Yasmine to teach ZP the ways of the daggerchappals, Anju to donate some of her frequent flyer miles to me, Najm to bring me cannolis, Taha to show up finally, jeez, and Hijabman to install a jet engine into my brand new iMac.


your turn

It was LB's birthday this weekend (yes, the whole weekend).
It will be TP's birthday soon (and yes, Najm-the-vanished too).
It will be my Dadaji's birthday sooner than that (Georgia, here we come!)
End of the quarter rush at work.
Four gallons of paint waiting to be applied to the living room and dining room.
New flowers dying of thirst in this hot hot city.
Blogistan reunion (or a newunion since I haven't actually met half of my crackstar buddies in real life) coming up!

Soooo . . . what mischief are you up to these days?


sunny day, sweeping the clouds awaaaay

ZP slept from 8:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. without getting up once.
I slept from 9:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. without getting up once.
I don't remember the last time that happened.

I woke up refreshed.
I took a nice, leisurely shower.
I had a cup of espresso (courtesy of my brand new espresso machine).
I didn't have to rush around to pack my lunch because we have a two-hour meeting today that will include cake and pizza.
I walked to the Metro in the bright sun-shiney day.
The train was just pulling up as I came down the escalator.
I got a seat near a clean (i.e., not filmy with other passenger's oily hair grease) window.
As I crossed into Virginia and watched the morning sun glint off of the Potomac River, I heard the lyrics "The sky is open-armed" and wanted to yell, "hellz yeah!"

See the world in green and blue
See China right in front of you
See the canyons broken by cloud
See the tuna fleets clearing the sea out
See the Bedouin fires at night
See the oil fields at first light
And see the bird with a leaf in her mouth
After the flood all the colors came out



Welcome, True Believers! When we last left our hero, he had just turned one year old. His rite of passage was replete with trials, tribulations, and rewards. Pleasure came in the form of visits from his family and friends who showered him with love and prezzies at a gala affair held at LB and KG's place. Pain came in the form of a shot in the forearms and two in the turkeythighs. Insult was added to injury when his caretaker accidentally locked herself out of the house with our hero trapped inside the house for about an hour. His indignation was made quite apparent by his high-decibel vocal protests. Let's just say that he could be heard from across the street and leave it at that.

Nonetheless, our hero eventually overcame these obstacles and sallied forth bravely into his first year. He cruised in his TEK 911 police car up and down the streets of the neighborhood to warn evil-doers of his presence. With the help of his loyal sidekicks, he climbed the stairs of justice . . . well, at least he climbed the stairs. He patrolled his park and watched over its denizens with a careful eye that missed nothing.

This morning, I discovered not one, not two, but three spider bites on his tiny, fat foot. After staring dully at the red, swollen spots for a moment, trying to fathom how any creature would DARE to bite ZP (myself excluded), I put some ointment on the bites and (fakey fake) Dr. TP gave him some antihistamines.

I'm not sure what kind of spider bit him, but I'll just say this:

Later in the morning, we were assisting our hero in standing and, on a whim, tried to coax him to come to one of us while the other was prepared to catch him if he fell. After a few failed attempts, he did it. He walked. On his own. About three steps each time.

"Oh my GOD! It must have been a radioactive spider that bit him because now he has superpowers!" I exclaimed.

"With great power comes great responsibility," TP responded. "Now he has to do the dishes."


Birthday Numero Uno

Happy One Year Birthday, Zainy Zoo! Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, you made your grand entrance onto the world's stage. Back then, you were just a tight ball full of baby fat, milk, and warmth, but not much else. Oh wait. The poop. Can't forget the poop. My God, the poop. I mean, honestly, how can such a tiny baby contain so much poop? Um. Where was I? Oh yeah, your growth and personality development since then have been staggering. You can talk, mostly about daddy (a.k.a. Daiwoo), your nanny (a.k.a. Tia), and doggies and kitties (a.k.a. Aiiiiii! Daiiiii! Kaiiii!). You can recognize the opening music to the Colbert Report and seemingly enjoy the jokes that we laugh at while watching it before bedtime. You love bedtime reading, even though some nights you are more interested in turning the pages yourself than you are hearing how the story ends. Luckily, I already know what happens in Goodnight Gorilla, so I don't mind you skipping pages, flipping the book upside down for a good gnawing, and then jumping to the end.

The playground is once again yours now that summer has arrived. You are equally enamored of sliding and swinging as you are watching other children do the same. Ever the gracious host, you proudly display your toys to all guests and then allow them to share them with you and play nicely. The only caveat to that last statement is if anyone dares to build a structure equal to or more than two blocks high, you are compelled to race over and destroy it, all Gojira-like.

For my very first Mother's Day, you gave me exactly what I asked for: you slept through the entire night. Next time, I'll know to ask for more! Your teeth are coming in quite nicely and I hope that the nightly brushing routine (sung to the "brusha brusha brusha, brush your little teeth" tune) stays with you. Still a gigantic fan of Cheerios, you have finally expanded your culinary repertoire to include falafel, latkes, and toasted rosemary sourdough bread. Although you have your moments of grumpiness, peevishness, and outright fury (especially when you spy your pacifier on the couch and can't reach it), for the most part, you are a happy, funny baby. You know that your father gets a kick out of you blowing raspberries and saturating anyone within a two-foot radius and so, when you remember, you begin your show with gusto just to get him to laugh. Woe is me for being in the path of your slobber. Still too macho to give me a proper smooch, your recent attempts which involve more teeth than lips, are still savored. You like to be scared, you like to be tickled, and you like to hang upside down like the monkey on one of your shirts.

You have changed our lives and made them fuller and richer. You are a joy to your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. You are healthy, clever, and have excellent taste in parents. We love you to pieces, even when, and sometimes especially when, you are a beast. Happy Birthday, me wee one! Now get over here and give us all a hug!



Pandi's 'Pinions

Between baby, work, allergies, Cressie's brakes being shot, and house stuff, there's no time to read, reflect, and review! Anyway.

Books: Empire Falls by Richard Russo was a much more enjoyable, but in the same vein, book as The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx's. In an attempt not to give anything away, it was a nice glimpse into a small northern town and its quirky inhabitants but it was disconcerting to read the climactic ending in light of recent real-life events. Is that cryptic enough for ya?

Music: Love this song, Lazy Eye, by the Smashing-Pumpkins-reincarnated band Silversun Pickups. Ah, the 90s.

TV: GAH! Only a handful of episodes left in Heroes! What's going to happen?! Is Peter going to explode but Nathan will grab him, fly him into space, and thus save New York and redeem himself? How will Hiro repair his broken sword to kill Sylar before Sylar begins his massacre? Will they (hopefully) kill off Nikki/Jessica, DL, and Micah before they annoy me to death?

Food: Santa Fe BBQ Rice Chips. A+



In the 1950s, my grandfather attended the Queen of England's coronation in Westminster Abbey. Five decades later, my grandfather-in-law is going to meet her when she comes to D.C. to meet World War II veterans. But before that, she'll be in my hometown(ish) of Louisville, KY for the Derby. Hey, Cybermom, if you see her, tell her we said, "hi" and "bring some derby pie for us when you get back!"


Excuse for Shopping

Yes, kids, it's true. Having a child will change you: physically, mentally, emotionally, economically, and spiritually. I was prepared for most of it. But the physical changes? I'm still not wrapping my head around that. I used to be skinny. Not slender. Not willowy. Not any other slimming poetic something or other. Skinny. As in, my clavicle was like a wire hanger. As in, I could fit into size 0 - 2 jeans. As in, if I turned sideways, I would disappear.

But then I hit 30 and my metabolism plummeted. Add to that the fact that I hated exercise but didn't change my eating habits. Stir in one baby and you've got the new me: tossing out my too-tight clothes, shopping for a bigger size shoe, and still not grasping that my body has changed so much that not only my belly, but my shoulders and hips and feet have morphed.

I kind of like having a little shelf (formerly known as my washboard abs) upon which to rest ZP when I'm carrying him around. But with the summer season fast approaching, I'm thinking that these bulky sweaters and eye-distracting layers are not going to be helping me much. Still, I really do hate exercising. Honestly, the only time I don't mind running is if someone is chasing me or if I am chasing someone. I was forced to play sports in high school (softball and field hockey) but once I was free of the requirements, I was quite content to count among the most strenuous of activities a vigorous Scrabble match. I've started walking to the Metro now which, in addition to the walk from the Metro to work, gives me about half an hour of fast-paced exercise. Isn't that enough? *sigh*


One of my Favorite Bandarikja

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Visits From Gojira:

5. She joins in with loudly clapping and lustily singing "Berries and Cream" while TP is on an important phone call with a professor from Georgetown.

4. She doesn't mind reading alone on the couch while TP, ZP, LB, and I take naps in the middle of the afternoon.

3. Get to recommend literature, reminisce about past travel adventures, and discuss celebrity plastic surgery in one conversation.

2. She makes an excellent nanny/playmate for ZP.

1. Get to talk in a Scottish accent morning, noon, and night without pause and without thinking.


Welcome to the Palindrome!

Happy Double Ones! Today, you turned 11 months old. You have become quite adept at using your TEK 911 police mobile unit as a walker and despite the obnoxious sirens and nasally mid-western voice of "Mommy" that blasts from the infernal contraption (padding and duct tape have only minimally reduced the decibles), you seem to favor it above all other toys. You can make your way confidently across the room and upon hearing praise ("Good job, Zibou Sisou!"), you immediately stop in your tracks, plop yourself down, and applaud yourself. The cuteness of it all almost overwhelms me.

Although you are capable of standing on your own - I've seen you do it when you were so distracted that you didn't notice that both hands were on the toy instead of one hand on the toy and one hand on the couch/chair/my leg/my face) - you still don't feel comfortable going it alone. Your other favorite toys (both favorites) are a collection of bright plastic geometric shapes that all turn into piercing arrows when it is dim and we are walking around shoeless.

We had a rough couple of weeks when you were hit with a triple-whammy of (1) a stomach virus, (2) a cold, and (3) teething. You slept badly, had no appetite, and were not your usual playful self. As much as I enjoyed your uncharacteristic cuddliness (usually, you are too macho to want to snuggle with us), I felt badly about your condition and only wished that I could suffer for you so you would not have to. Alas, only the first part of that wish came true - I did get to suffer alongside you when you shared your cold with me. Luckily, we seem to be pretty much out of the woods now and as soon as this annoyingly clingy winter passes and summer comes to town, we'll be able to enjoy some more outside time.

You are still a big fan of Cheerios but lately you have been less than thrilled to eat anything else. Each descent into the high-chair is met with shrieks and tears until the first taste of something sweet. Then, you reluctantly eat your food but after halfway, you push the spoon away and/or act like you are gagging and it's just not good times. Once you are released, you excitedly make a lap around the family room before settling down and playing with someone's toes.

Um, sorry about that homemade haircut, me love. I promise, it was not my attempt to make you look like Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber." I was just trying to get the hair out of your eyes. Instead, I replaced your baby wisps with a jacked up bowl. Then, after much reprimand from TP and LB, we took you to a professional to minimize the damage. You were fantastic at the salon and did not make a single peep while the Hispanic woman buzzed you. Now, like many a Pakistani baby, you are sporting a severe military haircut. Apologies, G.I. Zoo. Hopefully, it will grow out by the time your one-year birthday rolls around. Regardless, you are still super duper, A number one, hard-core adorable to me.


Am I Too Mahhhdren?

Arey, you are 52% Pakistani!

Shabash puut, your score puts you in the ranks of the REAL Pakistanis! Have some lassi to celebrate - maybe it'll encourage your true character to come out more often.

How Pakistani are you? (first class number one!)
Create a Quiz


Tix Mix

LB and KG have arrived safely in Paris and are staying with *my* friend (LB stole her from me).

In two weeks, Gojira will be stomping into town to stay with *us* (I stole her from LB).

In one month, ZP's grandparents, uncles, and aunties will be arriving to celebrate His Royal High(chair)ness's First Birthday.

In three months, we'll be heading down to steamy hot Georgia to make Literaunty's brand spankin' new house get that really old lived-in look by demolishing it.

In six months, we'll be embarking on a HUGE trip to Isloo with Cybermom and Cyberdad.

I don't care if there *is* a possibility of snow flurries this weekend. With all the flight schedules and plans to have the air saturated with friends and family, it's all summer to me.


sleep sleep

A Goodnight
William Carlos Williams

Go to sleep -- though of course you will not --
to tideless waves thundering slantwise against
strong embankments, rattle and swish of spray
dashed thirty feet high, caught by the lake wind,
scattered and strewn broadcast in over the steady
car rails! Sleep, sleep! Gulls' cries in a wind-gust
broken by the wind; calculating wings set above
the field of waves breaking.

Go to sleep to the lunge between foam-crests,
refuse churned in the recoil. Food! Food!
Offal! Offal! that holds them in the air, wave-white
for the one purpose, feather upon feather, the wild
chill in their eyes, the hoarseness in their voices--
sleep, sleep . . .

Gentlefooted crowds are treading out your lullaby.
Their arms nudge, they brush shoulders,
hitch this way then that, mass and surge at the crossings --
lullaby, lullaby! The wild-fowl police whistles,
the enraged roar of the traffic, machine shrieks:
it is all to put you to sleep,
to soften your limbs in relaxed postures,
and that your head slip sidewise, and your hair loosen
and fall over your eyes and over your mouth,
brushing your lips wistfully that you may dream,
sleep and dream . . .


word of the day

I don't care if today's word, roborant, is pronounced "ROB-uh-ruhnt." In my mind, and when I actually get a chance to use it today, it will be "ROH-bo-rant," conjuring to mind an artificial life form gone crazy.

"Between cramming in as much work as I can before the end of the quarter during the day and quick, unfilling dinners and broken sleep during the night, I am in much need of a roborant."


Double Digits

Double Digits! Happy 10 month birthday, ZP! Finally, FINALLY, you pay close attention to the stories we read you rather than try to yank the books and test your teeth against them. When I pull out The Very Hungry Caterpillar, your eyes light up, you smile so widely that your paci falls out, and you scramble into my lap. You wait patiently with your hands in your lap through the introduction to the little egg that lay on the leaf in the exposition. As soon as that first apple appears, your finger jabs into the hole with unerring accuracy. You enjoy the rising action as the caterpillar, and your tiny, chubby finger, makes its way through the pears, the plums, the oranges. After the gastronome's adventures are complete and post-tummy-ache, you eagerly await the climax by twisting around to look at me, look at the book, look at me, look at the book as if to alert me that something delicious is about to happen. Not having given a spoiler alert, I don't want to give away the ending, but suffice it to say that you greatly enjoy it each and every time. The denouement involves me pointing out various colors, closing the book, and announcing "Theeee Endddd" while you pick at the sticky label that is peeling off of the back of the book.

You are standing, cruising, and crawling with ease these days and have been quite mobile and independent. The other day, TP was making some breakfast and you were playing quietly in the living room which we have surrounded with a large, plastic gate. After a while, TP realized that you were TOO quiet. He went to investigate and found out that you had pushed aside the unsecured gate, escaped your prison, and were hanging out in the dining room picking stuff up from the floor and most probably putting said stuff in your mouth. Sneaky Parker!

About once every week and a half or so, you grace us with a full night sleep. Otherwise, you are still prone to waking up at least twice, once at midnight and once at 4:00 a.m. and require us to pat you or rock you back to sleep. Although you've been a pretty good eater thus far, you've been a little more tight-lipped - literally - these last few days. The only way I could get some food into your mouth last night was to dip the spoon in a jar, hand the spoon to you, and run for cover as fast as I could. Even then, the majority of it ended up on your hands, hair, tray, clothes, the box of CDs next to the high-chair, pretty much everywhere except your mouth.

You've been extremely patient about the winter and now that spring is making its slow arrival, you are reaping the rewards. You still enjoy dining at Udupi and now have added Meze and Peacock Cafe to your repertoire of restaurants. Apparently, you've already gone to the zoo twice without us, which kind of saddens me (because I was not the one to take you) but also pleases me (because I know how much you love to be outside). Some excursions into the fresh air and sunshine still knock you out. Others result in playful giggles and wide, beautiful smiles.


mmm mattress

This is yet another example of the interesting things I am forced to learn for work:

The history of the word mattress is a small lesson in the way amenities have come to Europe from the Middle East. During the earlier part of the Middle Ages, Arabic culture was more advanced than that of Europe. One of the amenities of life enjoyed by the Arabs was sleeping on cushions thrown on the floor. Derived from the Arabic word taraha, “to throw,” the word matrah meant “place where something is thrown” and “mat, cushion.” This kind of sleeping surface was adopted by the Europeans during the Crusades, and the Arabic word was taken into Old Italian (materasso) and then into Old French (materas), from which comes the Middle English word materas, first recorded in a work written around 1300. The Arabic word also became Medieval Latin matracium, another source of our word.


Reading Aloud

TP settles ZP into his lap and opens up a book.

TP (in a lecturing kind of voice): "Girl. Boy. T-shirt. Pants."

Me: "TP, you have to add some flavor to it."

TP: "Car. Beep beep! Truck. Beep beep! Boat. Umm . . . Beep beep!"

Me (laughing): "TP!"

TP: "Leaf. Do you know what kind of leaf that is? It's English Ivy. Flower. Do you know what kind of flower that is? It's a daffodil. Duck. I think that's a female mallard. We'll just say it's a female mallard."

Our son is going to be a brainiac.


I think this should be the theme song to my new layout.


Hooray for Sensai Abez for the stealthiest, monkiest, prettiest layout ever! It's not an easy task to combine deadly warrior images with delicate designs, but ye did it! Many thanks for the fast and fresh look.

And for the rest of ye, a quick update on my goings on:
  • Walking to the Metro to get to work when the snow and ice imprisoned Cressie was not as bad as I imagined it to be.
  • TP's Spanish Tortilla is still mouth-watering.
  • ZP is in the 75th to 9th percentile for height but in the 3rd to 5th for weight (based on his height) or in the 10th to 25th for weight (based on his age). Either way, he is one long string bean!
  • I got a professional haircut for the first time in over a year this weekend.
  • When a clerk is rude or inattentive, the only revenge I allow myself is deliberately not saying "thank you" to them as they hand me the receipt.
  • A Model World and Other Stories by Michael Chabon is not nearly as spectacular as The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay but that hasn't quelled my hope for The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel
  • I spent the better half of today trying to get my computer to recognize my camcorder. I get the USB alert boop-de-boop noise, but it doesn't show up anywhere. BAH! Meanwhile, I'm in the market for a new digicam. This is a good contender but any suggestions or warnings are welcome.
  • ZP slept from 9 pm to 12:30 am and then woke up. I tried to resist picking him up and bringing him to the bed for half an hour while he fussed and fumed. At 1:00 am, I picked him up for three minutes, put him back down again, and then went back to my own bed where I tossed and turned for the better part of the night and into the morning when he didn't make another sound until 7 am. Ah me.
  • Feeding a baby a tiny fingertip's worth of snow = acceptable. Feeding a baby a third helping of a larger chunk of snow = vomitrocious.
  • I don't think I've gotten my eyes check or my contact lenses renewed in over a year. I should probably put that on my list of things to do along with preparing a will/trust/guardian (which I started this weekend), checking up on the college fund, switching from Dish to Comcast, finding out if Verizon will give me a new, free phone since the current one dies after a few calls, figuring out why my portable hard drive isn't recognized on every computer, clean the basement, organize my closets, dust, mop, hang up photos, wish HBiddy a happy birthday, and going to bed a decent hour so I can get up before dawn to walk through 4 inches of snow to get to work.


Greetings all. This is Abez, who is in the process of redesigning Baji's blog as well as shaking an angry fist in the new blogger's direction. They're making it messy for me, and we's having technical probs, so I apologize to Baji for the cookie-cutter template, and will replace it with original Bajitude as soon as possible.



Welcome to nine months old, ZP! As feared, this month was fraught with marrow-freezing temperatures, stinging ice and snow storms, and brittle weather that makes us all weep crystallized tears. Thank goodness for fleece.

Your razor-sharp bottom teeth have come in quite nicely and your two big slabs of teeth at the top have half-emerged. All the better for treating random bits of my body as boti and gnawing at me when I'm not looking. Your motor skills are fantastic and you can cram not only Cheerios but thin grains of basmati rice with your little fingers and into your mouth. You despise lying down unless a paci is near at hand. You much prefer sitting, crawling, and standing/dancing. You are equally enamoured by Baby Einstein and This Old House. Many apologies for my failed attempt at being your barber but if you give me another chance and hold still for a nanosecond, I think I can do better.

You have taken quite nicely to your nanny and playmate despite the harried and hurried routine we have to put you through to get you there. Wake up at 4 am to be carried to the big bed. Re-wake up at 6 am for some milk. Say adieu to me as I hit the metro and the morning rush to get to work by 7:30 while you and TP return home for breakfast and the first nap of the day. Get dropped off at your work by 8:30, play, eat, sleep, play, eat, sleep, and greet me at 5 pm when I race from work to pick you up. Last nap of the day around 5:30 and then when TP comes home around 6 pm, play, eat, bath, book, bottle, and sleep by 9 pm.


Am I still so naive?
Why do I feel betrayed when I'm not even the one suffering from the consequences of having selfish friends?
How could someone not come to the aid of a friend involved in a car accident because she had a prior hair appointment?
Why am I so shocked and confused when I hear of other people severely lacking altruistic inclinations?
Is looking out for number one at the exclusion of everyone else the norm and I just haven't gotten the memo yet?


*phone rings*
*looks at clock and determines that we've already spoken to LB and Cybermom so who could be calling at this time?*

"Hi, this is Will Robinson. Someone called my cellphone?"
*thinks back to when ZP was messing around with the phone and how we were laughing that he would call Australia and pose as the International Drainage Commission*
"OH! Sorry, I think our baby may have called you accidentally."
"How old is he?"
"He's almost nine months old."
"Heh, wait until he turns sixteen and gets his license."

Awww, baby's first prank phone call.


via FB:

Author: Unknown
It has been my personal observation that some Muslim girls and women do not realize the significance of hijab. Hijab is arabic for protection and cover. Some people put a lot effort into their hijab, yet it serves no purpose. I am referring to the pointless hijab that some girls wear.

The first pointless hijab is referred to as the headband hijab. It is a band of fabric approximately 4 inches wide. It covers the back of the head and allows all the hair to be exposed. It doesn't serve much in terms of modesty, but at least it comes in handy in case of an unexpected tennis match.

The second pointless hijab is the dupetta, also known as the Saran wrap hijab. It covers all the hair, but it is totally transparent. Again it doesn't serve much in terms of modesty, but it keeps the hair nice and fresh.

The third type of hijab is known as the Mickey Mouse Hijab. It is when a girl wears a black scarf and tucks it behind her ear, so that her ears stick out.

We now move to my favorites:

The yo-yo hijabs. The first yo-yo hijab, also known as the Benazir Bhutto hijab, is the scarf that keeps falling down and needs to be constantly pulled back up....up, down, up, down, just like a yo-yo.

The second yo-yo hijab is also referred to as the convertible hijab. This type of hijab is predominant at any type of social event, i.e. an Aqeeqah, Bismillah party, Ameen party, wedding, etc. This is when an Imam or Qari comes up to the microphone and starts to recite Qur'an. At this point, all the convertible hijabs come up...until he says "Sadaqallahul atheem". I'm not sure, but apparently in some cultures that translates to "ok sisters, you may now take off your scarves".

I'm sure this may seem odd, but what's even funnier is when people do not anticipate the recitation of Qur'an at a social event, and are forced to be creative and use accessories such as a purse to cover one's hair. I was surprised to see a women hold her purse over her head as "hijab"..as if the multitudes of men surrounding her are not a good enough reason to wear hijab, but some guy reciting du'a compels her to hold a purse over her head. Her friends were more creative...one friend used her dinner napkin.

I was also laughing when I saw the communal hijab -- two or more girls draped under one dinner napkin during the recitation of Qur'an. Her other friend was still more creative. She used her coffee saucer on the back of her head. I wasn't sure if it was hijab or a Yamaka. I didn't know if she was a Muslim or a Jew. I felt like going up to her and saying "Shalom alaikum, sister".

And, people should remember that hijab is not just a protection from guys, but from a girl's nafs (ego) as well. It should prevent girls from having to spend hours in front of the mirror doing her hair. But, unfortunately, you see girls in front of the mirror for hours doing their hijab as they would do their hair, with all sorts of elaborate braids and the like. I wanted to go up to a sister and say "Is your hijab naturally curly?" I also felt compelled to go up to another girl and say "pardon me, but is your hijab naturally that color, or did you dye it?".

Well, the point to remember is that some people make an effort to wear hijab, but it is futile, because it is not fulfilling it's purpose. It's like using an umbrella with holes in it. Hijab is used for protection from guys as well as from the girl herself, and should not be used as an accessory or for beautifying one's self.

Anyway, that's it. If anyone disagrees with me or is offended, then you are disagreeing with the teachings of Allah subhanahu wa Ta'ala.


Have you guys see the clips called "God, Inc."? The newest episode is particularly funny.


Among the top five reasons I like my job is this: I must, as a matter of course, research stuff like cheese (I wrote a brilliant argument on why someone's trademark was generic for a type of cheese), the Pentagon (I denied the Department of Defense from registering a trademark until they complied with my requests), and the background on names like KITARO:

Kitaro is a yokai boy born in a cemetery, and aside from his mostly-decayed father, the last living member of the Ghost tribe. He is missing his left eye, but his hair usually covers the empty socket. He fights for peace between humans and yokai, which generally involves protecting the former from the wiles of the latter.

Kitaro has an assortment of strange weapons at his disposal, including:

remote-controlled geta sandals
a detachable hand, also remote-controlled
a magic chanchanko vest which can protect its wearer from danger
Spiny hairs which can be shot like arrows
Another hair which can serve as an antenna for detecting spirit activity


Stealing a page/idea/post from Abez because I am too strapped for time to prepare a proper update:

I am reading
Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (pretty funny and weird)

I am listening to
The Crane Wife by The Decemberists (even though it is now January)

I am looking at
a pix of ZP with wild, rock star hair. (even though I'm at work, because I can get away with it)

I am taking
The yellow line and then will transfer to the green line.

I am eating
chana masala (that I made on Sunday... mmm, leftovers)

I am wearing
jeans, long-t, long sweater, and sketchers (because they're the S)

Your turn, bloggers and blurkers.


Happy Eight Month Birthday, Sir Zain! Like the Bionic Man, you are better (at eating), stronger (at standing), faster (at scooting) than before! We haven't quite secured all of our valuables and breakables from your clutches, but since you are our most valuable and breakable possession, we will just continue to concentrate on you. You still have odd mouse-colored hair but your resemblance to yer pappy remains, chubby cheeks, cleft chin, and all.

I'm pleased to report that from all accounts, you are having a groovy time with your nanny and Moxi Baji. We were pretty lucky with the warm weather this winter and you got many a chance to go to the park and scope our potential friends/enemies. Alas, the bitter cold is upon us now and I hope you don't get too stir-crazy with cabin-fever in the next few months.

We are so relieved that you are starting to accept different flavors and foods without making a face as though we were force-feeding you the most atrocious garbage we scraped off of the bottom of our shoes. Your favorite dinner appears to be daal chaval which pleases me greatly. Among the more exciting achievements this month is your dexterity. The lightening fast way you whip your chubby little hand out to secure a Cheerio and pop it into your mouth is awe-inspiring. I believe the swiftness of your movements may rival your leg kicks when your feet are shod in shoes; the rapidity of which made your Nanaji exclaim, "such tremendous speed!" Bon apetite, my little beast!


First Day of School/Work

After a restless sleep, I woke up this morning to the news of a train derailment at Mount Vernon where I change trains every single day. I watched the weather report lamenting the departure of our amazing spring-like temperatures and warning of downpours and chilly weather ahead. I tried to catch a few more winks between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. but my overactive mind wouldn't let me. Today is ZP's first day of school and/or work.

Even though we knew this day was coming, we still scrambled around to get everyone dressed (ZP wore his preppy sweater vest and 'smart' corduroys for his first day), fed, and out the door on time. We dismantled the pack-n-play and loaded it into the car. We grabbed the jars of baby food and shampoo and last minute items. We stuffed an excited baby into his car seat and drove five minutes away to his new nanny's place (actually, the couple with whom we are sharing the nanny own the place but you know what I mean).

When we arrived, the couple were there to greet us, reassure us, and show us around again. ZP put on his shy face, tilting his head and tucking it under my chin as he observed the new people and surroundings. He caught sight of Moxi (his new baji) and displayed some interest in her by raising his head and then some more interest in what she was eating (rice crispies and bananas) by pushing away from me. Rosario was beaming when she saw him and clapped her hands and put her arms out for him to jump into. He hesitated and returned his head to my shoulder for a moment as he eyed her. I walked him around the room, pointed out different things, and held on to my brave face for as long as I could. In the end, I chickened out and handed him to TP to do the transfer. I couldn't bear to hear ZP crying and clinging to me when I knew eventually he would have to go to Rosario. Turns out, he was pretty comfortable in her arms anyway.

After giving Rosario instructions on feeding, cleaning, napping, etc. (all of which she responded to with a nod and a "yes yes" which translates into "girl, I have four children and have taken care of other children; don't worry."), we said out goodbyes to a sleepy and disoriented ZP and left.

TP dropped me off at the metro. I blindly entered the station and rather robot-like went through the motions of inserting my card, going through the turnstile, walking to the approximate spot where the doors to the train would open near the stairs at my last stop, and stared straight ahead. My head was buzzing. The train arrived and I boarded in a daze. My thoughts were so jumbled: "did I pack enough toys for him? what if he cries so much he throws up? I forgot to tell her not to spank him!" When we arrived at Mount Vernon, I didn't know whether the metallic taste and smell I experienced were the remains of the earlier train derailment or the blood in my mouth from biting the insides to prevent myself from bawling in public. My frantic heart was in my throat, leaking a bit from my eyes, threatening to escape through my nose. Logically, I knew that he'd be alright. Emotionally, I was the commander of panic station.

As the train emerged out of the tunnel and into the rain to cross over the Potomac River, I made my daily du'as to ask God to protect and bless my loved ones. But like a scratched record with a broken needle (or for you 21st century types, like an audio glitch on an mp3 recording), I just kept repeating "please please please". Please take care of ZP. Please let him be happy, and well-fed, and well-loved. Please let him learn, and have fun, and be healthy. Please watch over him, guide him, reward him. Please please please.

My view of the river and trees and city was abruptly cut off by the return of land and the tunnel. The gray skies gave way to pitch black. With the lights inside the metro throwing my reflection in the windows back to me, I saw myself: eyes glassy, mouth tight, brow furrowed. I remembered how we used to tease my mother when she would be anxious about something and her forehead would create two vertical lines between her eyebrows. We called them "elevens." The thought of inheriting those elevens made me smile a little. The thought of being as good a mother to ZP as my mother was to me made me smile a little more. All I can do is love him, protect him, guide him, and do what I can to make his life good. Insha'Allah, I'll have the strength, patience, wisdom, and humor to get through his life, let alone my own.

The thing that will get me through this day is the knowledge that I'll be seeing him again in a few hours when I go to pick him up. I'll sweep him into my arms, go home, and we'll play on the yellow mat and eat Cheerios. And I'll tell him how much I love him, how much I missed him, and how much I pray for the best for him. Please please please.


Happy New Year and Eid Mubarak, all y'all! Back to work. *insert sound effect of whipping* It's difficult enough getting back into the mode of working after a four-day weekend (combo New Years and National Day of Mourning days off). But add to the mix a bright, sunny day, and only a few more days left until poor wee ZP joins the rush hour melee of the DC working world next week when he begins going to his nanny, and you've got one wistful, sluggish mommy. Alas, my parents are leaving on Sunday and ZP, TP, and I will miss them much. My mother always used to say that whenever we left, it felt like our visits were like a whirlwind and the subsequent quiet was kind of a downer. I know how she feels! And I know ZP will feel it too. He's gotten so used to having constant company, a rotation of adoring adults, a steady flow of attention and personal servants and carriers. I guess he's going to have to toughen up now that he has to share a single person's attention with another baby. I guess I'm going to have to toughen up too. Ah me.