Wednesday, 26 February 2014

A weekend in Accra

A weekend in Accra, Friday 21 - Sun 23 February 2014

Accra, you've always been good to me. I've been transiting through Accra for visits to Pakistan and Europe for the last 10 years. Accra is a mere 2 hour flight from Monrovia but a world apart. I instantly feel relaxed and on holiday when I land at Kotoka Airport and guess what, I also met Haresh there! This visit is part of my journey to Islamabad which I am breaking up in 2 parts: a weekend in Accra and a few days in Dubai. I stayed with my good friend Susan, whose hospitality and patience we took full advantage of. This photo album has the weekend highlights, including a wonderful afternoon at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park. This is where I gave Kavita her first political history lesson. As you can see from the photos, she was a keen sport.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Farewell dinner at Mama Susu's

Dinner and silly games with friends at Mama Susu's before Kavita and I leave for our long escape from Liberia.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Weekly Round Up

These are the articles and issues that have caught my attention these past couple of weeks.

Lota issues for American desis

Secrets of the Muslim bathroom"Recently, a friend of mine refused to consider a hot, smart, eligible woman as a potential partner purely based on the missing lota in her apartment bathroom.

“Bro, she doesn’t have a lota. I’ve used her bathroom. It’s not there.”

“Maybe it was hidden behind the toilet? Some people keep it in the cabinet under the sink,” I replied, giving her the benefit of the doubt.

“No, bro. I checked. Nothing. Not even a plastic cup. I can’t be with a woman who doesn’t use lota. That says a lot about a woman’s personality, right? And plus you can’t teach a woman how to use a lota – not at this age. How am I going to bring it up in conversation? Hey, so do you want kids? How many? Oh, by the way do you use lota? I can’t force her.”

“Indeed, there is no compulsion in lota,” I replied solemnly."

Taliban Khan aka Imran Khan

What’s in a name? "Although public memory is short, it wasn’t that long ago when the Afghan Taliban were flogging women for showing an inch of skin, and stopping their treatment by male doctors. Music and sports were banned, and education was limited to the scriptures. Girls could not go to school.

Is this the kind of Pakistan we want?"

Negotiating with the Taliban

The Taliban: the gift that keeps on giving

Pakistani Taliban threaten Kalash tribe, Ismailis in Chitral "The narrator warns the Kalash, who are thought to number only 3,500, to convert to Islam or face death."

Bossy? Excuse me, I'm a leader. 

The dysfunctional international aid industry

Kenya’s first mockumentary takes on the NGO world "There is no end to the crazy stories. I think it kind of dawned on me when I was working at a five-star hotel here in Nairobi a few years ago that NGOs aren’t always what they seem. All these guys were gathered around eating lobster bisque and discussing how to reduce poverty. Something didn’t seem right."

OXFAM, Scarlett Johansson and BDS

Roger Waters of Pink Floyed writes letter to Scarlett Johanson about her support of Israeli Apartheid: "Scarlett, you are undeniably cute, but if you think Soda Stream is building bridges towards peace you are also undeniably not paying attention."

Evolution occurs at the cellular level

Myths and misconceptions about evolution: A TED-Ed lesson about the subtleties ".... evolution is not about us as individuals: natural selection occurs at the cellular, genetic level, not the organism level."

Feb 12: Pakistan's Women Day

Franchising God

The Redeemed Church of God preaches the gospel in US : ""Because heaven is real, God is real," he said. "And that is why we want to plant churches like Starbucks."

A glass of milk a day....

Got Milk? Throw it Away

Penguin and India

Wendy Doniger's book: 'You must tell us what terrified you', Arundhati Roy writes to Penguin India: "Tell us, please, what is it that scared you so? Have you forgotten who you are? You are part of one of the oldest, grandest publishing houses in the world. You existed long before publishing became just another business, and long before books became products like any other perishable product in the market—mosquito repellent or scented soap."

Aside the chariot: 'The Hindus: An alternative history' by Wendy Doniger" : "Nevertheless, the question of how useful Doniger’s textual interpretation is to building historical narratives of Hinduism is debatable, especially given her treatment of these texts in relative isolation from other sources. For historians in general, who must strive to yield an objective account notwithstanding the obvious barriers, Doniger’s blending of history and mythology, fact and fiction (her allegorical fire and smoke), and particularly her assertion that “ideas are facts too” can be a troubling approach to the past. In the context of women’s lives during the Gupta period, with regard to the early Puranas, the author contends that “the myths reflect attitudes toward rather than the actual history of real women, but they also influence the subsequent actual history of real women.” But can literary evidence then fill the cracks of political evidence?"

The greatest board game of all time

The Man Who Built Catan: "Here’s how The Settlers of Catan works: There are nineteen hexagonal tiles, known as “terrain hexes.” Each hex represents one of five resources: brick, wool, ore, grain, or lumber. To start the game, the tiles are shuffled and laid out to create the game board, which is the island. Every hex then gets assigned a number between two and twelve; these numbers are evenly distributed across the board. Players take turns rolling the dice, and the number that’s rolled determines which terrain hex produces resources. By collecting various combinations of resources, you can build roads and settlements around the borders of these hexes, placing little wooden houses on the board to mark out turf. More resources allow you to build more or to upgrade your settlements into cities. There’s also a robber in Catan, a token that moves around to different terrain hexes. When the robber’s on a hex, that terrain can’t produce its resources, and every time a seven is rolled players with too many resources have to give some back. The robber is crucial: it forces players to trade with opponents instead of hoarding goods."

What is Pakistani fiction about?

Pakistani fiction: "In the global reader’s imagination, hence, the little piece that belongs to Pakistan is one that will inevitably focus on terror, the complications of extremism, angry Taliban threats, corrupt dictators, and perhaps a deposed judge or two. If the local readers blame the Pakistani writer in English for being caught in a bubble, the global audience demands its own typecasting."

Gated Communities in Turkey

Escape in Istanbul: "But, as in cities in the West, new and exclusive gated communities are springing up, in the suburbs and in town, attracting the middle classes to purpose-built estates with high security, schools, shopping and sports facilities.

Residents of these communities no longer need to meet people unlike themselves or to venture into the hustle and bustle of old Istanbul with its history, diversity and traffic congestion."

Saturday, 15 February 2014

All farms should be on a wedding

I had the good fortune to attend a beautiful wedding today: my best friend's cousin got married. And, I also got to meet Chipo's mom who returned to Liberia after 30 years! It's moments like these which make me feel at home in Mama Liberia. 

The wedding took place at Quellue Farms in Careysburg.

I loved everything about it: the ceremony itself, the numerous times we had to get up and sit back down, the jokes the priest cracked ("You will have difficult times, especially when she wants to watch African show and you want to see Chelsea"), the singing, the dancing, the tasteful decorations, the reception, the music, the food and, the ambiance. 

Kavita completely let loose and danced up a storm. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Syrian Buffet

We spent the evening helping Mama Susu for her debut Syrian Valentines Day Buffet. Actually, I didn't help much. The star of the evening besides the maestro and larger-than-life personality herself was Haresh who was the head waiter. he also got the red napkins and candles and put up red light bulbs. He definitely knows how to bring romance to the party!

I don't remember the last time I was at such a packed restaurant in Monrovia! There weren't enough tables, enough chairs. There was hardly any room to even get to the buffet. And, it was boiling hot in there! But everyone seemed to love it. 

I came away earlier because Kavita was getting too bothered but the evening was a hit!