Thursday, 30 May 2013

Early Morning Exercise

I decided to try the morning exercise instead of evening sessions and, I must say I am happier for it. I would always find an excuse to cancel the evening session or would be too tired. Now, there is no excuse to avoid it.

It is a great way to start the day, to feel pumped, and while on the way back to the house, watch the city wake up. I can see the women set up their fruit and vegetables. I see the sellers of various items arrange their baskets so they can start walking around. I see the steps of the mosque being cleaned. I even see the beggars getting ready for the day! 

I loved being part of the early morning group on Benson Hill, working out. I've overheard three men bemoaning their women while they were doing push ups. I've excitedly watch youngsters training part of a group. I also admired an old man walking much faster then me and, doing three rounds up and down the hill for my one measly one! 

You get an earlier start to the day and, can try to accomplish so much more. 

But, how is my body reacting to it? I actually feel like vomitting. After a lifetime of being a night owl, forcing my body to wake up at the unholy time of 6 AM is torture. A touch-your toes- stretch makes me dizzy. The second round up and down the hill literally made me want to throw up. 

I am quite sore, too, since I am letting the trainer actually make me do a proper work out now.   Every time, we are pushing the limits and, my body is quite sore. But it is a delicious sore, if you know what I mean. 

The first time, I was quite beat and decided to nap right there in the office with Kavita on my lap. Unfortunately, Haresh took my picture and posted it on Facebook. And what an unflattering, picture, too:

I painstakingly make sure, my pictures online show my best angles but this one shows all of my 5 chins!

Today I was so tired after my morning exercise that I went home at 4 PM instead of the usual late evening exits from the office. 

After making fun of Haresh for getting up so early to work out and, then nodding off at 8 PM in the evenings...After making fun of morning people in general for being so freaking cheerful and energetic, I find myself feeling so good and proud for waking up early and gone for the subha ki seher which which my father was always going on and on about.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

My new contact lens case

I got a cool new contact lens case: 

And, it got me thinking about my eye sight and when I first got my pair of glasses. 

So, I've been myopic since I was about 10 years old. When I learned that I would have to wear glasses, I burst into tears and, my father (Aboo) had to comfort me and tell me I wouldn't look so bad and that smart kids wore glasses.  I can clearly remember the moment, it was in the foyer of our mansion-type residence in Bucharest. 

I also remember that my parents blamed the whole fiasco on watching too much TV. 

Well, I don't know how smart I have proved to be in my academic career, but I sure looked like a dork up until I was in my early 20s. 

I mean, look at this:

Bucharest, Romania, 1990s

My parents had no qualms in me wearing glasses that were clearly too big for my face. 

Oh well, Aboo's trademark were always his glasses and, there's several photographs of us together, be-speckacled father and daughter:

Dashing Aboo, a photograph from his bachelor days

Aboo and Farzana, Bucharest, Romania, 1990s

Aboo and Farzana, Islamabad, Summer of 2010
Now a days, I wear contact lenses and it is nice not have glasses on your face but once in a while, when I have finished my supply of contacts, I go back to wearing glasses full time.

They do make you look smart, come to think of it. 

I wonder what is in my tiffin today?

I have given up cooking ever since I got back from Chicago. There is just no way I will be able to cook, manage the business and look after a baby. Not unless I was going to exhaust myself.  So, I gave up cooking of the three. 

Before we got the tiffin, we briefly hired a cook who was an expert when it came to desi food. She was in fact trained by Haresh's first cousin's wife. She knew everything from pani puri to biryani to malai koftas to aloo parathas to daal. Unfortunately, she stopped coming to work for about a month or so. We went back to eating take out and, running over our monthly food budget. 

We found out about this tiffin company through an ironic coincidence. We were looking for accommodation for our expatriate Pakistani staff in our next door building. There was a free room available in an apartment but we were told they would not be able to house a Pakistani! So, we did not get the room but an excellent recommendation where to get food. 

The tiffin company was apparently started by a fellow by the name of Owen who used to work with T. Choitrams for years and, was trained to cook desi food, especially some Sindhi specialities. Owen branched off and started his own tiffin business. 

You know how people go around saying that Liberians really aren't cut out to be entrepreneurs? Well, Owen is an exception and proves that theory wrong! Not only is the food good delicious fare to fill you up and, keep you going for the day, but it arrives on time. We get three meals a day delivered at our door step, seven days a week. And on Saturdays, we even get an extra snack on the side like piping hot samosas.  Our breakkie and lunch are delivered at the office and, dinner at our house. 

Bloody organised, I would say. 

The most fun part is guessing, "What is in my tiffin today?"

Monday, 20 May 2013

Evening Promenade

Since the baby arrived, Haresh and I are no longer able to enjoy our rigorous evening walks together. We have our separate exercise hours now. 

Haresh is obsessed with fulfilling his dream of making his six-pack abs. Hhas hired a personal trainer and, is mercilessly subjecting his body to all kinds of torture. He gets up at the crack of dawn 4 times a week. Sometimes he's up on our rooftop terrace and, I actually hear him screaming! When I asked why he was screaming in pain, he said, it was a manly grunt! Then, he's apparently doing 200 crunches, running up and down Benson Hill, and doing splits on the beach. And almost every day, he's got a skin rash to whiche applies some ointments which burn so every time he's in the loo he is screaming yet again. 

As for myself, I have set a goal of reducing the baby fat in a year (or two). Slow and steady wins the race. 

The same trainer accompanies me on a brisk walk up to Benson Hill. He makes me go up and down the hill several times and, then makes me do some stretches which remind me of the changes my body has gone through. I tried to tell him several times that since I had surgery (c-section), there are some stretches and jumps that I simply cannot and will not do. But he keeps telling me to do something and, I frustratingly snap at him: "I had surgery!" 

I do boss him around a lot: 

"Don't even think about telling me to do crunches." 
"Jogging? I hate jogging. Brisk walking can do the same job."
"No, I don't want to go up the hill. Let's do some stretches." 
"I'm tired of these 'physicals.' Let's just walk today."

With the way my body still feels sore, I have set myself the simple target of just doing a walk and some stretches three times a week. If I can do, I'll feel good since I'll be getting some exercise and fresh air. Once, I feel up to it, I'll start to push myself harder. 

I usually go for my evening walk from the office and, one of our staff members kindly minds the baby.  

I love my evening walks around Mamba Point. It is easily my favourite bit of Monrovia. Here are some photos:

New building coming up

Another almost-completed construction

Ashland (his first name is Henchman) is a very sweet, quiet guy and, it's a great motivation to have a trainer pushing you to try to do more or, to even get out and go for an evening promenade. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013


Murakmi is one of my favourite authors, introduced to me by my brother, Tariq, back in 2007. He gave me Kafka on the Shore as a present and ever since then, I have been completely mesmerised by the worlds and characters that Mukrami creates. Kafka on the Shore is actually one of my all-time favourite books. 

I started reading his latest novel IQ84 quite a while ago and it is still on my bedside table.

It has been all the way to Chicago and back and, I still haven't finished reading it! In my defense, it is an epic novel and I had a baby. 

Some of my favourite passages are: 
"But actually time isn't a straight line. It doesn't have a shape. In all senses of the term, it doesn't have any form. But since we can't picture something without form in our minds, for the sake of convenience we understand it as a straight line. At this point, humans are the only ones who can make that sort of conceptual substitution." p.625-626 

"The man's gray suit had countless tiny wrinkles, which made it look like an expanse of earth that had been ground down by a glacier. One flap of his white dress shirt's collar was sticking out, and the knot of his tie was contorted, as if it had twisted itself from the sheer discomfort of having to exist in that place. The suit, the shirt, and the tie were all slightly wrong in size. The pattern on his tie might have been an inept art student's impressionistic rendering of a bowl of tangled, soggy noodles. Each piece of clothing looked like something he had bought at a discount store to fill an immediate need. But the longer Tengo studied them, the sorrier he felt for the clothes themselves, for having to be worn by this man. Tengo paid little attention to his own clothing, but he was strangely concerned about the clothing worn by others. If he had to compile a list of the worst dressers he had met in the past ten years, this man would be somewhere near the top. It was not just that he had terrible style: he also gave the impression that he was deliberately desecrating the very idea of wearing clothes." p. 331 

"In fact, this is a town of cats. When the sun starts to go down, many cats come trooping across the bridge—cats of all different kinds and colors. They are much larger than ordinary cats, but they are still cats. The young man is shocked by this sight. He rushes into the bell tower in the center of town and climbs to the top to hide. The cats go about their business, raising the shop shutters or seating themselves at their desks to start their day’s work. Soon, more cats come, crossing the bridge into town like the others. They enter the shops to buy things or go to the town hall to handle administrative matters or eat a meal at the hotel restaurant or drink beer at the tavern and sing lively cat songs. Because cats can see in the dark, they need almost no lights, but that particular night the glow of the full moon floods the town, enabling the young man to see every detail from his perch in the bell tower. When dawn approaches, the cats finish their work, close up the shops, and swarm back across the bridge. "p.304 

"The breeze swept across the meadows of Bohemia." p.30

I am still enjoying reading it page by page these days. So, here's to more happy moments when I am nodding off to sleep and reading just a few pages before I nod off to la la land. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

All beaches should be on a wedding

The official photographer's pictures have come and here's a sneak peak:

By the way, I think this is going to be my favourite picture!

Saturday, 11 May 2013


I love drinking tea and I love my new Moomin coasters.

My friend from SOAS Helka was in town recently and she got me these.

She also got a Moomin character doll for little Kavita. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

You are totally invited

A Marriage of True Minds

All Beaches Should be a On a Wedding

Haresh and I finally decided to tie the knot on persuasion of little Kavita. She was quite embarrassed that her parents were not even officially together yet.

Below are pictures of our wedding party which I have named 'A Marriage of True Minds' which took place on Saturday, 4 May. These particular pictures were taken by our friend Mardia Stone as a wedding gift. Pictures by the official photographer will also follow soon.

What kind of a ceremony was it? We both hail from religious backgrounds but by sheer coincidence are not religiously inclined at all. In fact, we are fierce rejectionists of organised religion and, and as gushy mushy as it sounds, we believe in humanity and love. Although we have been legally married for a while, we never had the chance to celebrate our marriage. So, we chose to celebrate on the beach in Liberia in a simple ceremony where our best friend married us. We exchanged vows of love and rings. Our friends gave us a toast. We delighted in having our pictures taken. We later had some delicious food and ate cake. And, then we put our baby Kavita to sleep at the hotel after everyone left. It was the most beautiful and serene celebration of our love. 

White kurta, white hair, sunglasses and a huge smile - my darling looks like an Indian politician or 'neta'
Corinna, Steffen and Willa
Einar, Christina, Tracy, Guillaume, Chris and Kirill

Nagraj, Masha and Kavita
Masha and Kavita

Hi Corinna!
One of our best friends, Chris Keeney, married us, we were mostly giggling through the vows. When I mentioned this to one of my friends, she said we were actually full of 'mischief and joy.' 

My mother sent us these clothes from Pakistan. I told her I wanted a kameez with lots of 'kaliyan,' white with a red border. And, she totally got it.  Too bad, I am not slimmer to really pull it off!

Masha with Yanis

And now, ladies and gents, you will get to see some truly gushy mushy portraits on the beach where we are posing for the camera. Moreover, I am big as a blue whale!

The photographer told Haresh to whisper sweet nothings to me and he says, "You're fat!"

I really didn't know what the photographer wanted us to do but here it is! I can't believe I let her talk me into it. 

All beaches should be on a wedding
If you are going to bother to celebrate your wedding, make the effort to get your hair done and dye your greying temples and roots. Don't put your hair in a messy braid like I did! 

And Haresh could have shaved! Gosh, we were so casual about it!

With the official photographer, Shoana
Monique and Jemel arrive but after the exchange of promises and jewelry.

Three Men And a Baby!

Kavita and Sayleh make baby talk

I went to a Pakistani-Indian wedding and I all I got was a samosa.
I went to a Pakistani-Indian wedding and we drank lots of tea.
I went to a Pakistani-Indian wedding and everyone ended up playing cricket.
I went to a Pakistani-Indian wedding and everyone got senti senti.

"India and Pakistan were for millenia right up to 60 years ago, one civilisation and through a combination of politics, religion and personalities were wrenchingly split in two in 1947, a wound from which some people feel neither country ever recovered. There was a war in the 70s and brief skirmishes on the border fairly often. Reactionary elements of both countries have successfully stoked jingoism on each side to convince each country into believing the person who looks like her and lives like her, just a few feet away, is her mortal enemy. Some nights (even just this week), the 9 o'clock news in each country is essentially a war-mongering rant against the other. Some saner voices exist and try to build people-to-people diplomacy.

So it's an enormously emotional and wonderful thing for an Indian to be marrying a Pakistani. It makes me a little teary just to think of it, and of little Kavita, the fruit of their love."