Oh you'll never see my shade or hear the sound of my feet when there's a moon over Bourbon Street

What this?  Sensing the rise and set of the sun before it happens?  Maintaining as near a deathlike stillness during the day only to have a burst of energy and devouring flesh (and veggies and grains and dairy) at night?  Wandering around with my arm crooked over my face draped with my cape so as not to burst into flames when I step near daylight?  Well, maybe not that last one.  My vampire days are upon me again!  It's been three years but I'm Ramadaning once again.  

It will be an interesting experience because this will be the first time in a long, long time that I'll be at home while fasting.  For the last few decades (pause.  wow.), I've either been at school or working in an office where I've had to remind my boss each year of my new schedule or remind my co-workers why I couldn't join them for lunch or coffee.  This year, I'll be cloistered in my home office with the ability to nap when I choose, to go grocery shopping when it's not crowded, and to avoid the commuting throngs that even on a normal day can be grating.  

So with that, I bid ye a Ramadan Mubarak!  I'm going to look in the mirror to see just how sharp my incisors seem to have gotten today . . . 


Stuck Between Stations

I just returned from my cousin's wedding in Georgia where the food flowed freely, the laughter was unconfined, and the hulla gulla was in full force.  It's quite a different experience participating in a shaadi when you have kids, especially when both of them are two and under.  At LB's wedding, ZP was still just a massive 9th month mound in mah belly so although my movements were slow, at least they were free.  At my cousin's wedding in Islamabad, ZP was on the loose but under the watchful eye of TP, LB, KG, and everyone else while AP was just a reasonably-sized 6th month mound in mah belly.  This one, however, had me and anyone I could convince to help running around to care for them while I simultaneously tried to be a part of the festivities as much as I could.  I found myself straddling two worlds:

On the one hand, I was in the "Aunty" category.  On the plus side, I had a valid reason for not hitting the dance floor because I was trying to keep an eye on ZP busting his moves but hopefully not busting his head.  I was excused from heavy labor such as "bring the coffee table up from the basement and put it on the truck" or "decorate the entire tent with the yellow and turquoise streamers" because I had to be available for AP duty at a moment's notice.  I was unfettered by propriety and was confident enough to sneak an entire raspberry chocolate cheesecake out of the freezer during the middle of the mehndi so that my cousins, my mother, and I could dig into it before it was all gone or forgotten.  On the negative side, I missed out on the shoe-stealing tradition because I had to leave early to put the kids to bed.  I couldn't put mehndi on my hands because I had to have them free to grab/carry/wrestle ZP to the ground and lasso him up when needed (although I didn't see any opportunity to do so anyway, so just as well).  And I couldn't take as many pix as I wanted to because my attention was constantly divided between the parties and my duties.

On the other hand, I still seem to be in the "kid" category.  I was in charge of matching up sets of churiyan (bangles) for the guests (this post was previously held by a 13 year old).  I was giggling maniacally with my cousins by the pool and at the wedding about the stupidest but funniest stuff as we kept trying to outwit each other or make increasingly absurd comments about the guests/family/everything.  "Line thee, cross ho gai."  I still got a fashion critique about my outfit from an older aunty which was completely unnecessary but so predictable.  

So where do I fall in the spectrum?  Am I the aunty who maintained a lengthy conversation about threading versus waxing or child-rearing while the others were doing chores?  Or am I the kid lugging in 50 bags of groceries while a perfectly capable and healthy couple of young men are lounging around reading magazines or napping?  I guess I am both.  Jack of all trades, master of none.  A chameleon who can blend into any crowd.  In the end, I am, and always will be, "Baji."  The title allows me to boss people around but still (hopefully) be fun to be around.  The title grants me access to all doors and groups.  The title suits me.  Don't you think?


two turntables and a microphone

Well, a microphone of sorts, at least.  I'm heading out to the durrrty South and I think I'll take a cue (drat, if it was a queue, at least I'd get the 10 points for the Q . . . um, I think I've been playing Scrabble/Scramble/Scrabulous too much these days) from degrouchyowl and hand the mic over to you.  That's right, you.  You, the reader and/or blurker.  All two of ye.  Ask me something you've been curious about, want to hear my take on, or are too lazy to research and I'll respond.  *tap tap tap*  Okay, this thing is on.  So, begin!


objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

I sold part of my youth this weekend. No mas Cressie. I knew this day was coming, I even blogged about it earlier, but it didn't really hit me until I pulled her away from the curb for the last time. I followed TP blindly and just relied on his brake lights to send the message to my brake and accelerator foot (not to be confused with my regulator foot), while my mind hurtled back to days gone by.  Sixteen years.  Sixteen shiny-turned-dull, countless tune-ups, tire changes, touch-ups, busticated this, bashed up that years.  If that doesn't spell out how much I like my stuff and dislike change, I don't know what would.  I've given up my college days futon for a proper bed, my milk crates for a lovely bookcase, my upturned cardboard box with a pretty patterned tablecloth to disguise it into a coffee table for nothing.  But I've held on to Cressie for a long long time.  I even gave up the chance of getting a Mercedes in order to keep Cressie!  

As I drove up 13th Street to deliver the title, keys, and goods to some Craigslist stranger, I couldn't stop the feeling of nostalgia overwhelm me.   I listened to mix cassette tapes on long drives, I engaged in ear-piercingly loud fights with LB (where the backseat passengers would get anxious and try to make peace between us only to find themselves the victim of our arguments because, unbeknownst to them, we quite enjoy fighting with each other), and I have criss-crossed various cities and always arrived home safely in this car.  THIS is the car that had a carpet sample in the trunk so that the inevitable salaan dish that would spill over wouldn't stain the trunk itself.  THIS is the car that LB argued with Mom about not losing the back of her gold earring only to lose the back of her gold earring in.  THIS is the car that I fell in love in, drove to and from the courthouse after our wedding, drove to and from the hospital after our kids were born.  

It has ZP's artwork in white crayon in the back.  It has a Clarksville, Indiana sticker on the license plate holder.  It has sixteen years of memories.  When some sappy romantic song popped onto the radio, you know the kind - the ones that have no meaning until you are feeling utterly sentimental and then suddenly it seems as though every lyric speaks volumes and is exactly what you are going through right now - I almost felt tears well up (and I'm not a tear-welling-up kind of gal).  I caught TP waving his hand and looking at me in the rear view mirror.  I half-heartedly waved back and hugged the steering wheel and mouthed, "MINE!"  He shook his head, waved back more energetically, and smiled and I realized, yes, I was saying goodbye to my past, but I was following my future.  Veevee held my husband, my toddler, and my infant.  I'm sure she'll have just as many high adventures and poignant memories before too long.  She won't be Cressie, but she'll do.  I believe I saw several smashed Cheerios and my Stephen Malkmus CD on the floor under the seat already. . . .


No, Thank you.

From a review of a local Korean joint:

"If you want a little bit of everything, try the bibim bap. It's a mix of bulgogi beef, sauteed eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, lettuce, watercress, pickled daikon, and bean sprouts, topped with a fried egg. You mix the veggies and meat with gochujuang — a Korean hot sauce — and rice to create an incredibly fresh and hearty meal."

I'm sure it's a far cry better than black pudding. But still, I'll pass.



Whoever said m&ms "melt in your mouth, not in your hands" did not try to eat them during a summer in Washington, D.C.  Also, I think it's high time that the fine folks at Mars (does that make them martians?) should start issuing special edition Dark Chocolate Pistachio m&ms.  I'll take my finder's fee in cold hard cash with the bonus fee for the first million sold in the form of Dark Chocolate Pistachio m&ms. 


We are Family, I Got All My Sisters With Me

Think we are related?  We may be!  This is a summary of the break down of "Important Dates" compiled by my grandfather.  The actual list is quite long and includes things like "attended 10 days Poultry Farming course in Poultry Development Centre, Rawalpindi" and "underwent piles operation in Hong Kong."  So, um, just the highlights, yeah?

  • 1800 Hamlet set up by Mohammed, Gujjar "Ladi" of Ludhiana and Nek Mohammed, Gujjar of Kharian - "Ladi" + (Khar) "ian" = "Ladian" at 32 deg. 49 min North Latitude, 74 deg. 05 min. East Latitude.
  • 18?? Ladian looted and destroyed during declining years of the Mughals
  • 1822 Ladian rebuilt and rehabilitated during Sikh rule
  • 1823 Ladian and surrounding land gifted by Punjab-Kashmir Maharaha Ranjit Singh to Hindu Faqir Anand Devadasi
  • 1844 Kashmiri families in Village Dev Draggar, District Baramula near Sri Nagar, Kashmir, migrated to District Gujrat and settled in Villages Ladian, Bhurchch Basoha, Sidh, Kharana, Uda.  Abdul Shakoor, (son of Mohammed Jaffar Bhatti of Dev Draggar), came with his sons Abdul Salaam and Lassa, to Ladian
  • 1857 First War of Independence ("Indian Mutiny")
  • 18?? Second War of Independence ("British-Sikh War) at Chelianwala, Gujrat
  • 1889 Babuji, son of Nur Din, born in Ladian, Tehsil Kharian, District Gujrat
  • 1897 Mamaji, daughter of Ham Din, born in Bhurchch Basoha, Tehsil Kharian, District Gujrat
  • 1908 Babuji and Mamaji married in Ladian
  • 1911 Babuji joined Royal Naval Yard Police in Hong Kong
  • 1916 Sir Ellis Kadoorie School for Indians established in Soo Kan Po Valley, Hong Kong
  • 1918 Nazir Ahmed born and lived at 13-A Shaukiwan Road, Hong Kong
  • 1920 Mohammed Shariff born
  • 1920 Nazir Begum born and lived at No. 1, Praya East, Wanchai, Hong Kong
  • 1922 Aziza born
  • 1923 Aziz born 
  • 1924 Sardar born; Fazal Karim born
  • 1925 89 marlas of land (1 1/8 acres of land) bearing Khasra No. 335, originally property of Allah Ditta Gujjar (alias "Tala Bala") transferred in Tehsil Kharian Revenue Records to Nur Din's sons
  • 1928 Rashid Begum born
  • 1933 Bhattis instituted civil action in Gujrat against government for correction of caste and won
  • 1934 Foundation laid of Bhatti Manzil, Ladian
  • 1934 Nazir rejoined Queen's College, Hong Kong because underage for Hong Kong University until 1935 at which time he joined HKU
  • 1935 Razia born (or 1941?)
  • 1940 Nazir and Aziza married in Hong Kong and Nazir joined the HK Police Reserve
  • 1941 Nazir selected by China Command Interviewing Board for commission in Indian Army; Nazir, Aziz, and Sardar arrested by Japanese, and released
  • 1942 Nazir joined as Chief Security Guard, S.S. Kaisyu Maru; Gulzar born; Aziz joined but also arrested by Japanese police and released (wha?)
  • 1942 Dad born
  • 1943 Nazir joined Hong Kong Harbour Guards
  • 1943 Bashir left Macau for Kwang Chow Wan, arrested by Japanese, brought to Macau and then to Hong Kong and taken to Stanley Prison, tried by Japanese military court and executed by Japanese in Hong Kong
  • 1944 Nazir arrested by Japanese, imprisoned by Japanese in Stanley Prison, Hong Kong
  • 1945 Gap Road house bombed by U.S. B-29s and family took refuge in abandoned house on Stubbs Road, Mount Cameron
  • 1945 Nazir released by Japanese and family (except Nazir and Aziz) went to Macau until the end of WWII and then returned to Ladian
  • 1946 Babuji retired from Hong Kong government service and Nazir and brothers joined Royal Indian Air Force with basic training at Arkonam, Madras
  • 1947 Mom born
  • 1948 Nazir completed training and posted at Drigh Road, Risalpur, Chaklala, Peshawar, Quetta, Drigh Road, Mauripur
  • 1956 Nazir selected for commission in Pakistan Navy and arrived in PNS Himalaya for training then arrived in PNS Sind as Supply Office
  • 1959 Nazir promoted to Lieutenant
  • 1959 MARTIAL LAW (I) - General M. Ayub Khan
  • 1964 Nazir arrived in Embassy of Pakistan, Peking
  • 1965 India-Pakistan War began; Aziz martyred on BRB Canal front, Lahore, and awarded Nishan-e-Haider posthumously
  • 1966 Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China began and Mom's schools were closed
  • 1968 Mom and Dad married; Babuji and Mamaji performed Hajj
  • 1970 Yours truly born (but this family tree and timeline lists only the important events for the men of the family and so the illustrious and auspicious occasion is not marked)
Simplified Family Tree
  • Family of A. Salam born in Kashmir
  1. Karam Din
  2. Ramzan
  3. Hasan Din
  4. Nur Din
  5. Ilam Din
  6. Sahib Din
  • Family of Nur Din born in Ladian
  1. Imam Din
  2. Ahmed Din
  3. Abdullah
  4. Ghulam Ali
  5. Rehmat Bibi
  6. Sutlan Ali
  7. Nawab Ali
  8. Ghulam Ali
  9. Nizam Din
  10. Niyamat
  • Family of Abdullah born in Hong Kong
  1. Nazir Ahmed
  2. Nazir Begum
  3. Bashir Ahmed
  4. Aziz Ahmed
  5. Sardar Ahmed
  6. Rashid Begum
  7. Rashid Ahmed
  • Family of Nazir Ahmed Bhatti born in Pakistan
  1. Rafeeqa
  2. Khalid
  • Family of Rafeeqa Bhatti born in Ladian
  1. Baji
  2. Lil Baji
  • Family of Baji born in Wales
  1. ZP
  2. AP

So what say you?  Any gaps to fill?  Any questions?  Any announcement to make such as, "Baji!  You really ARE my Baji!  Check it!"?



Yeah, so the two-car family isn't working for us.  We live in a micro neighborhood with limited zoned parking that is patrolled by a rabidly enthusiastic parking enforcer.  We just bought a newer (but not new), more spacious, safer, more fuel efficient, stereotypical Volvo station wagon.  Alas, the time has come to bid my beloved Cressie adieu.  

Although she was not my first car (which had two flat tires within the first couple of months and a failing distributor which made a typically 4 hour drive from St. Louis to Louisville turn into a grueling stop-and-go dangerous 8 hour drive), Cressie has been my car for ages.  Sixteen years, to be exact.  She's old enough to drive her own car!  She shuttled me back and forth between law school and home.  She waited patiently while I shopped, ate, and partied.   She carried me to my current stomping grounds and has survived the scrapes and dings and harsh weather and potholes for which this city is notorious.  

One weekend, she was getting LB, Gav, and me to NJ to see Radiohead in concert.  Another weekend, she coasted her way to NY with a side trip to Baltimore to pick up Aunty N who settled into the nest of pillows and blankets in the back seat and slept the whole way.  LB and I shared her for a while when we were both working at the Discovery Channel.  Then TP and I shared her for a while when his car was totaled (thankfully with neither of us in the car at the time).  And now, I have to give her away because it's just too complicated and unnecessary to maintain two cars.  I'll miss her smooth ride.  I'll miss her tight turns.  I'll even miss the busticated antennae that left us with only local radio to listen to and the temperamental CD player that would selectively play mix CDs at her own whim.  Good luck to ye, lassie.  I hope your next owner loves you as much as I do.