Saturday, October 24, 2015

Yaum-e-Ashura (the tenth day of Muharram)

What is Ashura and what is it's significance in Islam?

As per Islamic calendar, today (Ashura) is the day when...
the world was made;
when Adam (AS) was created (years later);
when Abraham (Ibrahim) (AS) was saved from Nimrod's fire;
when Noah's (Nuh) (AS) ark was delivered from the floods;
when Joseph (Yusuf) (AS) was reunited with his father Jacob (Yakub) (AS);
Jonah (Yunus) (AS) was saved from the fish's (probably whale) belly;
Job (Ayyub) (AS) was cured of leprosy;
the kingdom of Solomon (Sulaiman) (AS) was restored;
David (Dawood) (AS) was forgiven;
Jesus (Isaa) (AS) was born;
Jesus was taken up to the heavens by replacing him with a lookalike who was crucified;

And not to forget, the martyrdom of Imaam Hussain (grandson of Mohammed SAS) in the battle of karbala by the evil King Yazeed who proclaimed to be God-like). This battle was fought so that Islam would not be diluted by wrong practices, which Yazeed wished to introduce after proclaiming himself as Islamic leader. It could have also led to editing of Quran by individuals. Though Hussain was killed when prostrating in prayer (offering namaaz) in battle; his martyrdom was in fact a victory. Cause after that there was awareness against Yazeed and clarity in the religion.

From the events over the ages, it is evident that God loves the day of Ashura (10th day of Muharram) and He even forgave many Prophets and gave mercy to those He was testing on this day (this is God's way of saying that everyone is capable of error and tests, including Prophets). So keep praying and keep seeking forgiveness on this day.

And yeah, like my Dad always says Never Work on Ashura. Since has been the norm since ages, even before the advent of Islam.

The Arabic word Ashura means 'tenth' and is derived from Hebrew word Asarah or Asharah.

What we call Yaum-e-Ashura (Yaum meaning Day, together meaning 'tenth day') is similar to Yom-e-Kippur (Day of Atonement) in Judaism. This is the tenth day of Jewish month of Tishri. So for many years before Islam also, this day had a lot of significance due to it's glorious history. 

Muhammad SAS used to fast on the day of Ashura, (10th of Muharram), in Makkah. When Muhammad SAS led his followers to Madina, he found that the Jews of that area likewise observed fasts on the day of Ashura. At this, Muhammad affirmed the Islamic claim to the fast, and from then on the Muslims have fasted on combinations of two consecutive days including the 10th of Muharram (e.g. 9th and 10th or 10th and 11th) to differentiate between the practices of the two faiths. Due to minor differences in a day or two in months due to moon, these days might not been occurring on same dates now is my understanding. 

So while the fasts of Ramzan are compulsory, the fasting of two days around Ashura are 'recommended' and to be done in combination of two.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My risotto with curry please!

Today I happened to go KFC while coming back from some place as I was hungry and thirsty. 

While I was placing my order, a woman in the parallel line was placing her order for rice bowl with chicken popcorn (same order as me). The funny thing was that like all curry loving Indians, she was insisting that the rice bowl to have extra curry. And the cashier didn't know what to do. Every chain food restaurant follow their unique style and recipes and this rice bowl has a unique continental style and is filled with one layer of masala sauce in between, which is like a gravy. But that gets absorbed in the rice. Indians love for curries is well known. It's really funny when certain people even insist on gravy or extra masala with even biryani. Maybe that's why the Hyderabadi biryani comes with some thick gravy as an accompaniment And then there are some who eat fried rice with overflowing wet manchurian. Then some who want their food wet and can't find curry, will buy curd and smear their pulaos, biryanis, risotos, fried rice, tawa rice and what not with it, else food wouldn't go down their throats.

I am fine with my food being dry. Else as long as the food is well flavoured, I can savour it. I love fish curry though and yes, jhinga (shrimp) curry.

I liked the rice bowl with chicken popcorn just like it is. The basmati rice used in it made it fragrant and flavourful. And I love the crushers. Especially the chocolate one. And since KFC serves Halaal chicken, that's one place I can eat without worries. McD and Burger King make no sense to me as I don't understand burgers. I know only the Indian burger, vada pav. And that also I prefer the batata vada without the pav.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

She Lets Kids Creativity Soar by Giving them Wings!

As I walk into the office of Supersonic Aeromodelers at Bandra, I am greeted with a broad smile and warm welcome. That's Dilshad Ahmed for you. With a vast banking experience behind her, she is now a successful entrepreneur and give wings to kids' dreams!

Dilshad- giving kids wings!

Having worked for 5 and 1/2 years in Andhra Bank, 7 and 1/2 years with Societe Generale, 10 years with DBS Bank and 2 and 1/2 years with IBM, she decided to leave banking behind and try something new. For a while, she worked with 'For She', a car rental company, which taught women to drive and be self-reliant. The company changed the life of many women. Even men brought their simple housewives to learn driving. Dilshad told me about an autorickshaw driver who brought his shy and soft-spoken wife to their organisation and requested them to make her smart and independent. And so she and her team did. Though, For She is defunct now, many women who learnt driving are doing well for themselves, while some are plying for a women's car rental company.

When ForShe closed, Dilshad wanted to do something on her own. She went through various business options, including franchisee businesses. That's when the idea of aero modeling came to her mind. I asked her, 'Why aero-modeling? It's something very off-beat and was a risky business option.' She told me that she realised that in India, children had very little access to develop their scientific minds and abilities. There were not many options and avenues available for them here. So, she decided to fill the gap. And set out to learn aero-modeling. Once done with that, she then moved to taking classes of her own. It began with her house, where kids started to come to learn the art. Slowly, she started conducting workshops at schools and eventually now has her own office and has also started her own line of aeroplane model DIY kits. Some of these are flying airplane models while some are not. For the younger kids, she uses foam cut-outs to make the aeroplanes. She now operates under the name of Supersonic Aeromodelers and is happy with what she started and where she has brought it.

A few aeroplane models hanging at Supersonic Aero Modelers office
She told me that the kids enjoy making these aircraft models and ensure that they complete making it whenever she holds sessions for them. She even sells other science DIY kits for kids. And yes, why only kids, Dilshad points out that even older people can learn from this art and buy her models. She is also assisted by her sister at times.

Supersonic Aeromodelers will soon come with an exclusive website to sell their aeroplane DIY kits and also other science kits. It is now sold exclusively through her only. Online selling will give people outside Mumbai and Pune also the opportunity to buy the Aeroplane kits. This she hopes will help develop childrens' scientific minds. And I hope so too and wish her all the best.

To have more insight into the activities of Supersonic Aeromodelers, you can check their website: 
and facebook page :

Go, give wings to your kids' dreams. Maybe it will inspire him to be a pilot one day.