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Daal Chawwal…(thanks Ammi)

 

“Ammi!! Daal Chawwal phir! ufff…” seemed like a desperate cry in vain . Her response would usually be on the lines of ” abh banhaa liyaa hai, khow abh!” .

That’s how my school days went, coming home and ammi (mom) would occasionally cook Daal Chawwal.. on the good days, my favorite Chicken Karahi would be made (only if I received an A or as a final grade or on some test). Not that she didn’t make anything else, (Mom’s a great cook) but the Daal Chawwal was just those days where you felt the day was going perfect and you wanted to come home to a great meal(like kebabs or protein related goodness) and you are met with the dullness of liquidy/soupy potion with blandness of white rice (mood kharaab hojata thaa). I was never a fan of the dreaded Daal Chawwal (Lentils and Rice) till recently that is. Maybe at 25 I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of it all, or maybe in my mind I just realize that whatever is put in front of me to eat (it is a blessing from Allah) and I should be thankful that I have food to eat (where many others don’t).

My appreciation of Daal Chawwal is not recent (it came back in uni days), the hatred though stayed till high school when (I was getting free food on demand) literally. You know the good days when you don’t have to cook, your mom does it for you and if you’re Paris Hilton rich (your own chefs). That is until you go to college (University) you feel like a mentally challenged individual (no offense to those who are..) but that was the case with me. I didn’t even know how to fry an egg which is probably the easiest thing to do. I would rely on the good ol mobile to call up Dominos or drive to Maccas (McDonald’s) to fill up the tummy. Not that I have anything against these junk food types, they were amazing at that time..but in the process I was gaining weight and getting extremely bored of eating the same old burgers/pizzas and such. Yea in school, I always wanted these types of foods (moms cooking was boring) because it was always available and I was used to it… Would say to her sometimes ( Main jaaron hoon doston kay saath bahir kahnay!). Her expression would tell me (oh no not again, junk food pai paisay zaya karnay jaa ra hai!). I mean it wasn’t my fault too now, I did go to an Amreeken school, so it was by default that I would be eating Amreeken food right? (Pizza Hut and Hardeez) were the usual choice of destination for us cool kids ( a place to hangout and eat Amreeken foods).

Anyways,  as the process of eating junk food at college continued, it was during the first Eid in Australia (spent alone) that I was reminded so much of home. No Daal wasn’t made back home on Eid(Haleem, Biryani, Sawaiyaan etc.), but for the first time I missed eating Mom’s food as I dug in to my Maggi noodles box. It was a sad moment for me, I realized if only I had learnt to cook, I wouldn’t be eating this on Eid. I remember the next day, I actually went to an Indian restaurant and ordered Daal Makhni and white rice(was delicious).. but was shocked at the bill, came to 16 dollars all for some soup and rice. In my mind at that time I was like, all those years I was eating  16 dollars worth of food for free, sometimes twice. It was expensive alright, but it occurred to me that if learnt, it can be quite filling and way tastier than Maggi or the lame junk food I had become accustomed to. It was time to back to roots, learn desi cooking ( a much tastier, and cheaper way to live).

On my first trip back to Doha, I was determined to learn how to cook, at least Daal (shouldn’t be hard). As it turns out, it was pretty hard, you had to get the timing right of everything (as usually all cooking does) . There was this whole pain staking process of cutting up tomatoes, washing the Daal in water, mixing spices..etc etc.. It was like rocket science to me, my mom is a genius (in my head), how can she do this, so quickly. I had just gotten a glimpse of how Daal is made at that time, but it was YouTube where I learnt how to cook Daal(at Uni) after numerous failures.  Random Aunties have cooking videos uploaded on YouTube for cooking noobs like me, those videos helped me get through college as it turned out cooking is actually pretty fun. So throughout the rest of my Uni days, after my first trip back home, I would cook Daal once, or twice a week, .. it was quite filling, tasty, and enjoyable to eat.

Gone are the days of junk food and Maggi noodles ( I do eat them occasionally ) but it’s home cooking (mom’s cooking) all the time now (the preference) also because I’m back now(to Doha). She doesn’t make it as often as she used to and that just makes it special even more, but when she does.. I embrace it, not just her cooking alone, but Daal in general. It has been a growing up process as I shifted from Daal to junk food, and from junk food back to Daal.. I’ve realized that our desi foods are so much better than the latter (or any other foods as a matter of fact), also our parents are so right (mom cooks from the heart) because she cares and that as kids (we can be so unforgiving) when everything is given to us. I also wonder if I hadn’t gone abroad or lived alone, maybe I would’ve never enjoyed having Daal or appreciated mom’s cooking ever (maybe it was meant to be). So in the end, at 25 (still maturing and still learning =) ) I’m thankful to mom, to Allah, to my parents, and Daal.. for whenever there is food in front of me to eat (I’m thankful) that it is.

PS.. Daal on the menu tonight.. thanks Mom

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Oh Noes… It Changed again..!

I woke up this morning to some devastating news, it was such an event that would change humanity forever. The current generation would absorb it’s incessant affect to heights beyond human imagination. No it wasn’t another attack on New York, not another destruction of Nagasaki/Hiroshima but surprise surprise, Facebook had made changes to it’s website. The Facebook gang (or people) sent me an email saying “you would receive lesser emails from now on, as the website continues to improve.. blah blah blah).

So it brings me to this, my curiosity got the best of me. I opened Facebook(as I do every morning (sad)) to few ranting status updates by my friends of how Facebook has done it again without telling it’s followers. Done what? change it’s website settings as the email mentioned. Oh Dear Agony! what will I do now 😦 how will I move on with my life, I have to learn all of this complex anomaly once again ,when will it end! God kill me now!

Some of the status updates were :

“FB changed again!! can’t they F*****in tell us beforehand for once”

“Oh no..not this shit again.. looks ugly”

“I do not like the new facebook, looks stupid.. how do you go back to the old one?”

“hahaha the jews did it again..”

“Ugh this new facebook stuff is AWFUL”

Oh and Twitter was going nuts too, my timeline was running amok for awhile as Twitter devotees who happen to dislike Facebook but use it anyway were mocking it’s changes by RT(Re tweeting) humorous innuendos all in 140 characters such as:

“Yo dawg i herd you like facebook so we put a facebook in the upper right of yo facebook so you can facebook while u facebook”

“One day, without warning, Facebook will change their url and leave us to figure it out on our own.”

Exaggeration much? Indeed..so it all boils down to the point of this blog. If it isn’t obvious already, we (humans) have become so impatient with such stupid things like changes on Facebook that we feel the need to express ourselves to the world of how we suffer from it. Sad right? It is one of the negatives of ingraining too much social media in to our daily lives that we start depending on it. It’s like we expect it(social websites) to deliver us the goods when needed, like your very own child getting A Grades in school, and when the child doesn’t perform the way we(parents) expect him to, we are disappointed with the result.

I don’t want to rant too much, but it kind of ticks me off when I see such stupid things as “Oh No Facebook changed again, I hate it ahhh!” in my mind I’m face-palming their face in. I hope we, the current generation get off our asses literally from the computers and convert what good comes from social websites into something real. Yes, the positives are there of using Facebook, Twitter etc.. but that doesn’t mean we need to start bitching about little things like it’s settings, or how it looks. Further, instead of joining a cause on Facebook, or RT’ing one on Twitter, why not get off that couch and actually do something about it. Just liking a page of Imran Khan on Facebook won’t get him elected, you actually have to register your vote by hand to get something done (Zohair Toru, Burger Bacha did it), or hating on Zardari by joining a cause online won’t help kicking him off his seat either. It’s a sad prospect for the current generation while we continue to bitch about the little non-issues, the big ones (Floods , Terrorism, Corruption, World hunger, etc..) continued to be ignored, I fear for the future.

A random rant ends, having said all this, I just joined Google +.. and it’s awful, I still prefer Facebook.

The Fresh Off the Boat (FOB) experience..

Lets be honest here, if you’re reading this and you just happen to be desi regardless of your passport color, you are a FOB. FOB (Fresh off the boat) if you don’t know already is an epidemic plaguing desis throughout history. It is a stereotype as per say, but a valid one too as we (the desis) embark on our boats to foreign lands in pursuit of happiness,usually by driving taxis and working in grocery stores until( if you’re a lucky FOB) get that white mans passport and settle in with the regular folk. Even though, FOB is a politically incorrect term for us, it should be more like FOP(Fresh off the plane) I believe  because traveling by boat would be highly inconvenient, still we have to put up with it (whats stuck is stuck). I guess history would point to the Pilgrims (of the Mayflower) who came to an unknown America at that time and the Indians (no not desi ones) were like in their own language “Look, White Devil Fresh off Boat!”. So in order to get back to the Indians( in the future now, yes desis) the White Devils have had a verbal thanksgiving by calling them FOBs as they continue to come to their land annually (someone insert a statistic here).

So being an experienced FOB, I have closely observed new alien FOBs repeating some of the Fobby facepalm moments made by every FOB when they move to white devils land…the journey begins usually at any given education level (usually out of high school to pursue further education).. Hopefully this brief list of 10 will give you an idea of why the white devils see us as FOBs in the first place..(what I noticed of Desi FOBs in my time spent in Australia (kangaroo land))

So you are a desi FOB if:

10. You have just arrived in the foreign land (literally waiting for the taxi on the airport).. and you start bargaining with the taxi driver “Sir, I’ll give you 6 dollars only, that is 300 rupees in my country only, it can take me so and so kilometers you know only..” yea the Taxi driver he’s bargaining with is a Desi FOB too, can’t bargain with the locals unless you want to look like an idiot (has happened).

9. You want to find the cheapest place to eat (has to be halal or else going to hell). Well as a matter of fact you want to cook at home because eating out is out of your Fobby budget (akhir Abu nai itni mehnat karkay behja hai, paisay bachow!). So you take your Fobby self to the grocery store ,(walk to it) because it is cheaper, or by bus (has to be the cheapest way possible) and first thing you do is look at the price tags of  fruit and vegetables and are shocked!. So as your first Chinses friend told you while you observed him, “Eggs and Lice(Rice)” and that’s exactly what you do, get Eggs and Lice(Rice).. further down the road you discover a new flavor (Noodles) but thats for relatively experienced FOBs (1-2 months speaking of).

8. You are all excited because you are starting University in a foreign land all alone, oh the adventure (the things that will happen). So at orientation, your excited self can’t help but ask the student volunteer (person responsible of showing you and other FOBs around Uni) silly questions like “Ven Vill Ve have exams only?” or “Vill the Professors have time for us if ve ever need help?”, if you are Muslim FOB ” Vere’s the mosque? and is there halal food here?”.

7. You try to find other desi gang around Uni, or around where you live, because nothings worse than living in a foreign land and not being reminded of home. So you join the desi club if there is one at your uni maybe something like Pakistan Student Association or even Muslim Student Association. If that doesn’t happen, you can always find someone at the grocery store or driving a taxi, believe it, they came on the same boat as you but unlike you, they have found success.

6. You try to compare prices of everything to things back home. Now that you have been around that is, you are ready to compare and contrast! “Yaar, Pakistan main, 3 dollar main kya kya nahee aah sakta, tumhari soch hai..Nihari, Kewaaab Shawaab, uff!”. Yes, you are a complainer too if you haven’t noticed, “yaar itni mehngai hai yahan! :(“.

5. You try to find an average job to support yourself “kaafi important hai, akhir mehngai itni hai, aur Abu nai itni mehnat sai behja hai yahan”. Not that working in McDonald’s is a bad thing, you do work there and as per mentioned the better ones drive taxis and work at grocery stores. If you are a clever FOB and want to be a rebel, you try to work more than the 20 hours allowed as per you visa rules “akhir mehngai itni hai, kya karein!”.

4. Once you find that desi gang you have always longed for, you move in with them in a 2 bedroom apartment, sharing costs.. I forgot to mention, there might be more than 6-8 of you living there, sleep/work shifting . But that’s for really cheap FOBs, the rich FOBs have their own studio apartments (but we’re not talking about them).

3. Oh if your a desi FOB guy, are you blind! look around.. the white girls (angels), You, Yes.. You! can’t help but stare at them “Malai jaisay skin wali larkian apne mulk main toh hain he nai” You stare in awe and think, heaven must be missing a lot of angels because they are all located here.. and of course there’s that thought “Aik sai toh shaadi karongha, passport toh milljai gha aisay..”

2. If you’re new, You spend your Saturday night studying (in your first week of Uni), Nothing else to do right? Few months down the road when you have friends (if you you do), they introduce you to clubbing and you are blown away at the fact that people drink here, yes alcohol (haraam)! and the thought goes through your head “Tauba, my parents are going to kill me if they find out!” But this can be avoided, if you are a good Muslim FOB.

1. As mentioned before, “yahan ka passport laykay hee jaana hai, no matter what!” You came to study, but that’s not enough, you want that rich life, it can’t come with an Indian passport or a Pakistani one. You have in mind, “Passport laykay, Dubai settle hona hai bass!” because with experience you figure, middle east has no taxes “mazzay hee mazzay!”.

Might as well add the fashion sense of FOBs.. You are one if you wear turtle neck sweaters (pistachio in color, orange ones if you can find them). Your hair, is the same as in it is in your passport photo, done sideways like a acha bacha (like your mother used to do with a kangee). You might own RayBan(fake ones) Aviators, not that you knew of them, you watched Dabangg and wanted to look like Salman Khan, because you want to be cool. A leather jacket is a must of course, Brown one because you see bikers wear them in Lahore, and Pakistan makes the best leather jacket anyways, cool beans. You might wear skinny jeans, sometimes up to your tunni(bellybutton) Steve Urkel style, own a gold Rolex too, called Rolexx because real one will come only after the passport, and your shoes might be made of snakeskin cowboy style.

So as I write off, the views expressed here are wholly endorsed by me :D, it’s not supposed to offend anyone, unless you are a super FOB that is.. Speaking of, I have been through some of these experiences myself (I know, sad) but hopefully it will shed some light of how we are the way we are (FOBs). But having said that, I’d rather be a FOB than not, not that it requires any effort, it comes naturally. So as an experienced FOB I sign off in hopes to educate new and upcoming FOBs to be wary of too much Fobbyness.

Chai..

Chai Chahiyay, Kaunsi Janab..Lipton hee toh hai mmm La Jawab…

Can you imagine being of Desi origin and not go a day without drinking tea. Shocking as it sounds, it happened to me this weekend as I dared myself to not think about this heavenly concoction for atleast 2 days. Mushkil! As a recent chai addict, I failed miserably ofcourse, I mean one cannot turn down chai when offered by Aunty when visiting a Pakistani relatives home, I didn’t want to be rude.

I wasn’t always like this, far from it actually. For most part of my life, I hated the boiled water and tea bags. I would look at my parent’s in a strange manner and just observe as they sipped their chais and ate their rusks in the mornings at breakfast. What was about it that made them drink 3-5 times a day. At that time it was beyond me, but it fascinated me to an extent. So recently as I asked my mother why does she drink tea so much. Her response “Beta, gharmaish miltee hai” (Son, it gives warmth inside). Quite an interesting theory mom, as if we need any more “gharmaish” we live in one of the hottest places on the planet, there is gharmaish all year along, why don’t you stand in the sun for half an hour. Ok I didn’t say that to her, but the thought was there.

But usually I would ask the chai addicts, kya khaas baat hai issmay? (whats so special?), I would usually get the mundane responses of pata nai ( I don’t know), or bass mazza aata hai peeni main (We just enjoy drinking it), so I guess that is a reason enough to drink it, to enjoy it. But, there is so much more to it than just that. When one thinks about it, chai is a symbol of our (Pakistani) tradition. It is a custom which influenced by the British, has become an important part of our culture.

When one visits a relatives home, the host would offer chai usually along with biscuits or cake. When friends get together, one would drink chai, or even when one goes for a rishta, if the girl can make good chai, rishta pakka ;). Where the non-Muslims celebrate their occasions with alcohol induced drinks like champagne, wine, beer, we celebrate with Mithaais (sweets) and chai.

Chai is a fascinating thing, I fell in love with it when I visited Lahore after 8 years. I didn’t realize the amazingness of it till then.As one cold night our family sat on our Khalas(Aunts) roof, with blankets around our backs, we drank chai and talked for hours about what we had missed for the good part of 8 years, the politics, the jokes, the marriages that took place, so much. At that time I had drunk around 3 cups of chai without realizing that, it  was the most I’ve drunk ever, not that I required rehab after, but I did feel warm inside, it was a nice feeling talking and drinking, a nostalgic moment.

I guess most part of my life I’ve avoided chai in the fear of not turning into my parents or my uncles, in my mind, chai is an adult drink, only old people drink it while the adolescents and young adults prefer a cooler Coke. I guess even cooler image would be a guy in a Gucci suit drinking cappuccino or some form of coffee, maybe it has more class. I understood the purpose of coffee, but never chai. I did drink the occasional coffee especially when I had to sit exams or study, but chai never had the same effect, even though coffee tasted yucky to me too. But whatever the reason, the taste of chai for a long time just didn’t settle in until recently that is.

One of the reasons, I believe is that making chai is actually a small form of art, some can make it, some just can’t even though it is one of the simplest things one can do, it still requires some experience. A cup can have too much flavor of tea, or too much sugar or too little, or the water may not be the right temperature, in order to fully enjoy it, one has to come up with perfect timing of the four elements of tea, milk, water, and sugar. It is quite interesting too, like food, everyone who makes chai, has their own taste, no one chai tastes the same, this is experience talking 🙂

So at 25, as I take a sip of chai from my cup, I think to myself, why did I write about chai as my first blog. I feel the transition from apple juice, to coke, to chai has officially made me feel grown up. What I thought about my parents and uncles, is just the inevitable, I have accepted the fact that I am desi, and chai is a part of me and my culture, might as well get used to it especially since it just started to taste so damn good with cookies. So here’s the end, if you ever want to feel like an adult (goes out to immature folks =P) have a cup of chai, it will give you super powers of adulthood and gharmaish.

PS.. best chai is served at Trainstations Cafeterias around Pakistan or so I’ve heard…

Greetings..Assalamualaikum.. :)

So Fahad Khan decided to write a blog, woop di doo!! why? I don’t have an answer, I guess I’ve always been curious as to what’s the point of writing a blog in the first place. People read them, make comments on them and that’s just it, maybe if they’re useful can change lives. I’m not here to change lives, I’m just here to write, not well as you can see, just put thoughts down on something. Something to remember me when I was 25 years old, this is how the world was, this is how I thunk, this is what I did in my free time. I have to admit, I love reading different blogs and different points of view of people. This has finally influenced me to start one too. So good luck to me :).