Sunday, December 25, 2016

A taste of twisted English

Twisted English : This week I came across two incidents of people interchanging alphabets to pronounce in a new way. The first one is a common mistake in India but was widely used at a large forum hence stayed in my mind. But the second one, though also a common error, can bring a whole new meaning. Stating the conversation for you to know. Figure it.

1. 'We are proud to play this flim at the event', went the announcement.
2. Lady on phone in the train, to her office colleague : 'The hard diks is in the box. You have to open it. It's sealed'.
Period. :-)

Getting Physical in a Marriage

Physical relationships, even in a marriage is something not openly spoken of in Indian society. In fact, to marry for anything other than companionship or support is looked at as if you're a dirty person. Even couples are not allowed to kiss or cuddle openly in public. People frown when even a man holds the hand of his wife in our society (this applies to India and all its neighbouring countries). 

The other day, while traveling by train, I heard two girls talking lowly of a girl who told one of them that she wants to marry for 'that' reason. They were speaking in Marathi. The girl meanly added that if she wants that then she should buy it. (Sic, this is how you speak about someone who mentioned marriage to achieve her desires). The other girl added, you know men are also like that. They also want 'that' only. And that is how nature has made things. Then the first girl said all of this was completely wrong. That God has done wrong by making world like that. And she will question God when she dies. 

Another incident. A conversation with an old friend I caught up with after ages on Hike, who has not had a kid for a long time. And mostly makes her hubby travel and quit jobs just because she doesn't like some place, people. She is mostly tendering to her mother now and mostly spends time at her place. I have no right to question how she lives her life. However, further conversation made me understand her opinion on children, relationships and I felt sorry for her husband and others linked to her. She used to be a cute girl and I remember she had liked this boy, whom she eventually proposed and married. But marriages are deeper.

In my surroundings, I've also seen women detesting their husbands. But are in the relationship to be fed and clothed. Parents have married them cause they felt that it was best for them. If they hadn't said Yes, then their daughter would've remained unmarried forever, according to them.

I don't understand people's thinking that it's incorrect for girls to even think of marriage as a physical thing. It is grilled in women at a very age that marriage is important to be fed, clothed, taken care of, cooking & cleaning for their husbands. Everything else is a drill they should endure. Such mentality leads to sourness or 'no love' in many marriages, leading to stress, mental illness and unhappiness for many couples. 

As women are getting independent, they don't need marriage for all the 'other' things for which marriage is marketed in Indian society. The only thing that remains to be married for is love, compassion, passion and children.

I would suggest that those who don't feel same way about marriage, whether independent or not, should not marry. And save the other from a lot of trouble. This is not about liking a toy and picking it off the shelf.

We speak of men's libido. How about highlighting women's libido as well. Equality extends to all levels.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Black magic babas and their local train ads

Is there no rule against the black magic ads put up all around us? These 'black magic babas' have used marketing ever since I've been a kid,

I remember, these ad posters used to be stuck by the dozens in the local trains (I speak about Mumbai) earlier.  Then since past few years one saw less of them. And now they're back! They advertise some baba or the other and use the picture of Sai Baba for the advertisements.

One current one (stuck all over local trains) is all stylish with pictures of people in office, home, couples and the like claiming that whatever the situation or problem, he has the solution. From putting your competitors down to winning over someone to splitting someone up to destroying others. It further goes on to say that the 'baba' guarantees evil effects on your enemies/ competitors in 7 hours flat! Ghosh, that's so mean and cruel. I thought there was a law against such posters or such people. At least, sticking posters without permission is illegal. But seeing the audacity of such ads, which display various phone numbers one can call on, it appears people love these babas and there is a competition in their own clan. We're so used to seeing such ads in India since childhood, that such ads no longer surprise us. Only the sudden appearance after a gap, had me noticed. And the fact that it was stuck all over the insides of the train compartment. It irks us when non-Indians call India a land of magic. But it is normal for us to see black magic ads all around us! And a number of people flock to such babas to harm others.

Having said that, the people who use black magic to harm others or win in life are beyond my understanding. One thing I've learnt is that if the one you're trying to harm is a strong-willed, positive person with lots of faith in the Almighty, then the effect reverses on doer. It will cause minimal or no harm on the person it is intended for. And those who do all this, eventually have to face their own magic. And destroy their own families and future generations. Strange things afflict them and their families later. They live with the curse of the sufferers or return effects of any faithful person they've tried to harm.

Note : I could've clicked the picture of the posters and uploaded it here, however I do not want to promote these people.

Pic courtesy :

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Learning new lessons and re-affirming the lessons learnt from life

I've been learning a number of lessons in my Image Consulting class. In our first session, we learnt a lot of lessons on self motivation, acceptance of yourself and changing mindsets.

Sometimes, living in a closed environment, exposed to a certain kind of thinking only, we start to follow the mentality of the people there, not questioning if it will matter to you.

There was the example of the 6 monkeys closed in a room with a opening in the roof, who were first exposed to water spraying the moment anyone of them tried to escape. Then some monkeys were replaced after a while. But the old ones tried to pull them down due to what they experienced earlier. Slowly all were replaced till none in the room ever experienced water spraying, but had learnt from the earlier ones that it's the way to behave. They continued behaving like that till no one tried to escape. They just knew they had to stop others who tried. Most of us have heard this. That's how mentality is built. Some thoughts are instilled into us. And we keep following them without knowing why they started and whether they have any value today. Or what benefits they will bring.

Another story is of the fish and the frying pan. A child asked her mother why she cut off the head and tail of the fish while frying it. Her mother replied that it's the tradition of the house and she learnt from her mother. Then the child went to her grandmother and asked her why she cut off the head and tail of fish before frying. Her grandmom said that she did it cause she saw her mother do it. The child went to her great grandmother and asked the same question.
And this is what her great grandmother said :"I did it because my frying pan was too small to fry the whole fish". :-)

We all are somehow like that. We just follow others without thinking. We like to be in our comfort zones. Never exploring other options. Never thinking on our own. 

If we want something good and different to happen in our lives, we should do things differently. Same style and ways will get you the same results.

Residual Journalism

Most sections of newspapers now cater to social media marketing by publishing paid articles floated by Corporate Communications Departments. This started as an advertising tool by companies and is now being used by political parties as well. Everyone is concerned about image management now. So much so that I no longer refer to snopes or hoax-slayer. Cause if you can filter and release news, then you can even clean your image there.

Even celebrities sell their holiday or special occasion pictures now. Gone are the days when Paparazzi had to sneak up. 

The only real news we hear is local revenge, domestic violence /disputes registered with police stations. Further when the current journalists have nothing to print as most organizations opt for social image management, you can expect them to come to your house paying you to publish your home news. Then the headlines will be 'Saas bahu refuse to see each other', 'Humans celebrate birthday of their cat/dog', 'Husband fought with wife at 7th Road'... This news would surely sell as everyone seems curious to know what's happening in another's household!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Decoding Eid Moon Sighting in India on Eid Ul Fitr

After several years, in Mumbai/ Maharashtra, this was a 30 days Ramzan. 

As far as I remember, the ulama (muslim scholars) of Mumbai especially following a certain school of thought (whom we follow), are very traditional in their declaration of Eid.

Though most countries have a single Eid day across the country, we in India follow the Sunnah method. Even if there is moon sighting in neighbouring regions within Maharashtra state, Mumbai will never declare Eid unless someone from here sees the moon. Then the shahada (testimony) method is followed. Most rules in Islam are where you get your present day law from and are very methodical. 

Shahada method works like this. Suppose, someone in Nagpur sights the moon on 29th day of Ramzan. Unless he personally comes to Mumbai to give testimony, the Eid will not be declared. That's why most of the time, we come to know at 11 pm/ 11.30 pm that Eid is next day. Because some priest from Mumbai and the one who sighted the moon in Nagpur will meet midway and give the testimony. Then the Mumbai priest / scholar / person will declare Eid in Mumbai.

I've seen the best practices followed in Mumbai. That's because it's multi- cultural and there is good exchange of ideas even within scholars due to people from different backgrounds dwelling here.

While this is good, I am of the opinion that if anyone sights the moon within India then the shahada method can be followed by Skype conference call of all priests of all Hilal (moon sighting) committees within India and a common Eid should be declared for the nation as a whole. Else follow it within states, so that Eid can be declared in time and government can take a decision on postponing the holiday. 

Due to this confusion amongst the hilal committees in Mumbai till late night, Maharashtra converted the Eid holiday to 'fixed' many years back. While in Delhi, Bangalore and some other places, Eid holiday remains as 'subject to sighting of moon'. When Mumbai keeps deciding till mid night whether Eid is there next day (as it never sleeps), other state people have usually taken a decision and snoring.

Since many years, the shahada method helped. However, this year due to rains and heavy cloud cover, most part of India did not sight the first moon. And the shaahi imaam of Delhi also declared much earlier that due to non sighting of moon, Eid will be on July 7, 2016. So things were clearer much earlier. But the holiday was fixed, so remained even though there was no Eid on July 6, 2016.

Two state did celebrate Eid on July 6, 2016 as per the method they follow.

Those who do not know and asked me what happens when you do not sight moon for consecutive days, here's the answer. 

Muslims follow the lunar calendar and it is dependent on moon. If moon is sighted on the next day of the New Moon day when it is supposed to reappear as the first crescent, then the month ends at 29 days. And a new month begins the next day. Else, by default, the month ends with 30 days. So even if you do not sight the second crescent, the month technically ends. So Ramzan has ended today. And tomorrow is a new month, Shawwal. And first day of Shawwaal is always Eid-ul-Fitr.

That's the best way I could explain. Also attaching a chart of moon cycle for demonstrative purposes (from

Topmost Pic courtesy :

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Menstruating During Ramzan

All Muslim women go through the menstruation cycle during Ramzan. And we are exempt from fasting during those days. Some view it as a discrimination like similar practices in other religions. However, in Islam, it is a little different. It isn't exactly prohibition. It is an exemption and allows you to do many forms of worship.

While you're younger, you're embarrassed to discuss these things. But even Prophet Muhammad PBUH discussed these things clearly when women asked him. And hadiths are clear and detailed on lot of aspects pertaining to society and day to day life. So let's be practical. Considering my busy schedule and managing to fast in traveling, working in office and being part of the kitchen during weekends, these 4 days come as a break and rest during Ramzan. I feel weak during 'those' days and get painful cramps too. Women, though biologically little weaker (unless you work out and have strong bodies) end up actually using more stamina than men especially in Asian (including south Asian and middle eastern) cultures, while men enjoy more luxuries. Living and working in non-Muslim society, I usually do not eat or drink on the 4-5 days of my period also when I am in office or outside, as it's difficult to explain to others. I go to office with a heavy breakfast on such days. Not that I hide facts. If someone asks, I tell I am not fasting as unwell. There are only a few handful who know Islam and understand. Else people use the fact to make fun of Muslims, saying that they caught so and so eating during Ramzan, which means all Muslims eat on the sly.

I use these 4-5 days to do my Eid shopping, parlour/ salon work, Eid preparations. And yes, it's not that you cannot pray. Wudu (ablution) will not be valid so cannot offer namaz, but you can recite a number of duas, chants (there are so many forms of ibadat), hear recitation of Holy Quran (dvd or other media). And there is a ruling , which I would not recommend for common women. It's only for women who are very high on cleanliness in person and clothes and understand the depth of these things. And many muslima scholars who teach Quran follow it too. They do touch Quran and read it too, taking a lot of precautions. Though there are two views on this. 

In fact, some rulings say that as soon as your bleeding stops (though your menstrual cycle is not over), you can start fasting, but you cannot offer namaz / salat. What is the difference? There is a distinct way described in hadiths to consider your menstruation is over. Let's not discuss that in detail here.

And it's not that only menstruating women are exempt from fasting. Ill people (men and women), pregnant women, breastfeeding women also join the list. When women have fasted all days except 'those' days and still get all the blessings, it's a mercy from the Lord. Other people (including men and women) who cannot fast due to various medical reasons, can compensate for it by giving Fidya (donation), preferably food or food items. This is over and above Zakat. It is fixed based on local price of 1.5 kg of rice, wheat, barley or similar grain of the region. That multiplied by number of days you missed your fast. Preferably give foodgrain/s itself to the poor around you or known to you or give to orphanages or homes. Or feed the poor with equivalent money or give any other food item with that much money. 

Those who try to criticize that Islam is partial to men, they should remember that just like women are considered unhygienic during menstruation, men are as also considered unhygienic in a certain state. Hence, men have to do a greater abstinence during Ramzan as fasting is not only about not eating/drinking. It's a lot more. Impurity can invalidate your fast. Women are not advised to NOT wear make up during Ramzan, not because lipstick might go into your mouth or skin will absorb make-up. It has a greater philosophy behind it. Thanks. 

Photo by Ian Schneider (

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hanging for life! Virar Locals

Commuting from far in crowd in Virar locals is a task. Especially from mid stations like Dahisar, Mira Road. Yesterday a lady in desperation to get into train after missing two, somehow tried to push herself into a train (even though there was no scope for more people getting in) and it started moving. Then when she decided to let go, her hand got stuck inside between women inside. I tried to hold her waist and pull her out. But, due to fasting, my energy was limited. And train started moving ahead. Fortunately, a man some steps ahead (where the ladies compartment ends) came to the rescue and pulled her fully out with force and she fell on platform with a thud. Thankfully, it was not inside the gap. Her dupatta got pulled away inside the train as it sped off. And she seemed more worried about that. The man told her, 'dupattey bahut aayenge, jaan wapas nahin aati'. 

Imagine her being dragged like that outside the platform. She would've been bruised first, then killed. She seemed so shocked and dazed, she didn't thank the man and vanished somewhere. Maybe to try another stunt with next train. I never try such 'hanging from train' stunts. If it's too crowded, I don't attempt getting in. For me, life is more important. And if I die, I want to be remembered in a nice and respectful way. Not as the foolish lady who didn't have enough sense.

Pic courtesy

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Indian Muslims Vs Arab Muslims and Advent of Islam in India and South Asia

Recently I was trolled by a non-Muslim Indian for posting a comment on a video of an American YouTuber of Egyptian origin. Most of you might have understood whom we are talking about. Though the comment was for the YouTuber in question, this person started commenting out of context when he realised that I am an Indian. He started telling me that all Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims have Hindu blood in them and it will remain inside us no matter what we do and his other point was - Arabs hate us.

Really? First of all the term 'having someone's blood in us' is a figure of speech. But what was important here was the 'general' nature of the comment. And secondly, why only Arabs (though I do not agree on that), the world hates us, man! But does that unsettle/ disturb us? No. We are so used to that by now. I find it amusing. But those who are not used to being poked at, get hurt at even the slightest comment on them.

Okay, let's come back to the comment and my responses, which I made. I will discuss those points in detail here.

According to this person, Arabs hate Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and the like. First of all, Arabs form 33% of the World's Muslim population. And all Arabs are not Muslims. There are ethnic Arab Jews and Christians as well and their cultural dressing is similar (if not same) to Arab Muslims. Most Indians speak of Arabs from their experience of working in Saudi Arabia. Now, Saudi Arabia is not the only Arab country in the world. Let's take UAE for example. People across the world work here and enjoy the hospitality and accepting culture there. Many women are comfortable working alone also in UAE, as it is considered one of the safest place for women. Okay, for the time being let's consider this man's point about Arabs hating us. But why only Arabs? Everyone seems to be hating Muslims, man. It's part of our existence.

Another point is that some Indians / Pakistanis / Bangladeshi Muslims take education lightly and then go to gulf countries for any kind of job, hoping that while bringing money to their country, they will multiply it due to difference in exchange rates. Sometimes it is better to work hard in your own country and live with respect, than take up any job for some few bucks and act as if you are foreign-returned. Having said that, I also say that people who are well educated, including Engineers (Muslims and non-Muslims), prefer to work in Shipping/ Oil companies in Oman, Muscat, Bahrain etc due to the very high Rupee to local currency difference. And they (now here I am speaking of non Muslims) are happy being there, even if they have to accept few local cultures. My organisation also has a branch in Bahrain, and given a chance for a transfer back, they prefer to stay. Or quit. That's the decision of non-Muslims. So, definitely, Muslims who go and work on higher scales there, stay as long as they can, with their families as they find more similarities in religious cultures. But it's a personal choice. Some can feel at ease in a Mediterranean culture, some in Western, some in Eastern. Some Americans also later settle in Mexico for peace and quietude and to live near the coast, though Mexico is quite backward than US in technology and internal regulations. In some things, even India is several times better than Mexico. Yet some Americans retire to that country.

This person told me that Hinduism is one of the oldest religions on Earth. This, I agree to. Yes, Hinduism is one of the oldest religions. I respect that. But let us not forget that there were many pagan religions in the world prior to Hinduism also, which do not exist now. Even Buddhism and Jainism are very old religions. And they originated in India and co-existed with Hinduism as well. So to say that India is only the land of the Hindus and every inhabitant of India was a Hindu originally would not be totally correct. And let us not forget the Sikhs and the Sindhis. They also form part of the Indus Valley civilisation.  

Yes, Islam is one of the last religions of the world, having been in existence since 1400 years only. From being the latest religions (let us exclude cults here), it has gone on to become, the 2nd / 3rd largest religions in the world. Islam came into existence in 610 AD (7th century AD).

Now let's come back to Muslims. According to this man, every Indian Muslim was forced by the Mughals to accept Islam. Is that true? Did Mughals force Islam on us? Were there no Muslims in India prior to Mughals? Were there no migrant Muslims? And was force the only way to Islam ? Let us discuss this one by one.

Islam first came to the western coast of India with Arab traders as early as the 7th century AD to coastal Malabar and the Gujarat- Konkan coast. As we already discussed, Islam also came into existence in the 7th century itself. Cheramun Juma Masjid in Kerela is thought to be the first mosque in India, built in 629 AD by Malik Ibn Dinar. Who is Malik Ibn Dinar? He is one of the first propagators of Islam to come to India. He was born in Kufa, Iraq. He mostly preached in South India. That's the first advent of Islam in India. By an aulia (wali Allah = friend of Allah) in a peaceful manner. His mazaar (shrine), known as dargah to most, is in Kerela. While on the topic of first advent of Muslims to India, let us also mention the traders from Persian gulf, Kabul and other parts of south Arabia who came to India for business and settled on the Gujarat and Konkan coast. This was initiated by the then governor of Bahrain, who started a trading expedition to Bharuch in 7 AD. So, Islam had already arrived in India on the western coast and south India, much before Mughals came to India. The main spreaders of the Islamic faith/ religion in India were the aulias (also called the Sufi Saints). Around 10th/ 11th century AD, the Sufi saints brought Islam to entire South Asia (including India) from Persia. Malik Ibn Dinar was the first one to do so in southern parts of India much earlier. In the northern parts of India and some parts of Bengal, the sufi saints / wali-Allah become prominent in 10/11th century, during the reign of the Delhi Sultanate. So, Islam came to India and other parts of South Asia with the advent of the Sufi saints. The numerous dargahs (which are shrines of Sufi Saints) in India bear testimony of their love and appeal to the masses even today, as you see even non-Muslims flocking to take their blessings and pay them respect. They showed love, compassion and preached the goodness of Islam to the people. And the people in turn accepted them and their faith. The most well known sufi saint of India is Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz, who shrine is in Ajmer Shareef, and at his shrine people of all faiths from across the world, flock in large numbers.

So who are these Mughals ? When did they come to India ? What was their role in converting Muslims?  Mughal is a corruption of the word Mongol and they came from Central Asia. Babur was the founder of the Mughal Empire and and his kingdom extended from Uzbekistan to Persia and much beyond. Prior to the Mughal rule, Delhi Sultanate was ruled by the Lodhi Dynasty (Afghan origin). Some Indian governer took the help of Babur to fight the Lodhi king. Babur started his conquests through Delhi and slowly his descendants spread their rule much inside India over a period of time. They came to India in the 16th century and their empire lasted till the end of 19th century. Babur was quite brutal and did cause damage. But so were most emperors across the world. I am not denying that few people might have got converted forcibly as well. The later Mughal kings, however lived in harmony with the Hindus. Akbar formed a new harmonious faith and also had a Rajput Hindu wife. His later generations took forward the tradition of harmony with Indians. Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal king also united several Indian rulers under him to fight the British invasion in India. They left a rich heritage behind as well. And before they came, Islam had already arrived in India.

Another point raised by the person in question is that only Arabs are original Muslims and all Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indonesian (yes, he included them as well) Muslims have converted from Hinduism. There is no concept of original and later Muslims in Islam. Any person who believes that there is only one God and that Muhammed is His Messenger and last Prophet, is a Muslim. Quran mentions that there have been more than a lakh prophets since humans existed on this earth. And in this 1.25 lac approx prophets who brought the word of Allah (God) to the people on the earth, Buddha, Mahavir, Ram might have also been included. Quran only mentions some 25 important prophets by name. Quran starts from Adam (first person on Earth) and covers Moses to Noah to Abraham to Mohammed and so on. And some of the verses tally with the Bible and Torah as well. There is no concept of conversion to Islam. It is more of acceptance of concept of One God and Mohammed PBUH as his Messenger.

And ancestors of Indian or Pakistani or Bangladeshi or other people could have originally been anything - Jains, Buddhists, Hindus or some religion which does not exist today. But does that matter?

Pic courtesy :,

Friday, June 17, 2016

Be sensitive to people around you! Muslims are also your countrymen.

I am sick of hearing "Haan, madam. Hamara phone aatey hi aapki aawaz ekdam dheemi ho gayi" during Ramzan. I feel like screaming! But politely explain. Then some laughs at other end if its a joke. I am least amused. More energy wasted. There's no way to explain anything to anyone unless you feel it. There is so much ignorance out there about Muslims.

Though, it's no big deal and God sees you through, sometimes I feel that though there are so many Muslims in India, no one really tries to understand their fellow countrymen. I've wondered since years about it and now I feel is the right time to express.

No iftaar meal packets, special takeaway counters (I had a bad experience last year trying to buy a snack in time for iftaar as I was not carrying anything with me). No sensitivity to people fasting around you. I was breaking my fast in the train a few days back (we have to break at exact time else the fast becomes invalid) and I was saying 'iftaar ki neeyat' and dua, still this lady was shaking me asking where I will get off, knowing well that I am praying (with a dupatta on my head) and a snack box of dates and cut apples which I carry with me during Ramzan. I had asked her to wait, with an eye signal. Yet, she couldn't wait for 1/2 min. I finished my dua and ate a date and with my mouth ful I had to respond to her question. Others who understood were watching the fun and seemed amused. Even in office, some people eat in front of you. Only few respect your fast. Even after requesting some people not to call at specific time, they end up calling you exactly at 7.20 pm (current iftaar time in Mumbai) to ask something. Sadly, some of my new colleagues never knew about rozas until they saw me fast (those who know me, learn). Else no one bothers to know, while other cultures and religions interest me. Some others in India don't even know that Ramzan is going on unless they want to go to Mohammed Ali Road to eat Miyan bhai goodies. All those facilities are enjoyed mostly by non working Muslims. And is mainly crowded by non Muslims, who go to relish the non-veg goodies as well as the sweets. For Muslims, Ramzan is about a lot more than fast and prayers. Its about abstinence, charity, connecting to God.

Neither am I boasting (am not at that stage of my life to do so) nor ranting (could have done it many years back or over the years), but it saddens me that even with a huge population, no one attempts something like a iftaar snack meal with dates (such a cool business idea) for their Muslim countrymen (except in Muslim areas where some people pool some fruits and snacks for travelling rozedaars). In my life, the only non Muslim area/ place where I saw prayer and iftaar arrangements was Asian Hospital at Bandra Kurla Complex, where my Dad underwent a bypass surgery during Ramzan in the year 2009. It has a prayer room for every religion. That's only one hospital I found peaceful, else I dread going to hospitals. They give me the creeps!

When your Muslim colleagues, who are fasting and saving lunch time, tea break time and working non-stop and want to use the saved time to leave that much early to be as closest to their house during iftaar, do not give them an unwanted look. Nor treat is as a favour. There have been times during emergencies, where I've broken fast at my desk and continued working late in the night as well. As I am well aware of my duties. 

Then there are some people who will advise you not to fast, some who will belittle your fast stating that Muslims eat entire night and keep feasting, so a little bit of not eating during the day, didn't matter much. Then there is laughter at a miyanbhai joke cracked. I wonder who these genius people are who can eat and keep awake whole night and then work all day! Definitely not normal adults! Sometimes waking up for 'sehri'/ 'suhoor' (pre dawn meal) is itself a task and eating something then is another task. You cannot compare some kids who skip college and fast by sleeping through the day (or after school) and like to have goodies when breaking the fast and label it to Muslims in general. We do a lot of silly things as kids and expect gifts and goodies when we feel we achieved something we didn't believe we could!

Ask me about Hindu, Christians, Parsis, Jains' festivals and customs, and I will tell you. And so will my family and many educated Muslims. And we respect them and show concern during people's sensitive festivals and times. But about Muslims, no one wants to know anything. Except biryani recipes.

Pic courtesy :

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Life and lemons (on a lighter note!)

When life gives you a lemon, please don't stop to make lemonades, as many would advise you. Unless you want to become nimbu paani or nimbu soda wala. wink emoticon

You can use it in your curry, salads, or for tan removal too!

Btw, tell me how life hands out lemons to you, anyway. If lemons are meant to denote types of experiences, I've heard of sweet and the bitter ones. What's a tangy one?! Tangy sounds good though. Then what's the proverb supposed to mean?

Friday, May 13, 2016


If you are a Mumbaikar or staying around Mumbai, and are a student or have students in the house and looking for a learning workshop for your kids before the summer vacations end, this is the best place you can tell the young ones in your house to be at.

There is a workshop on Communication, Creativity and Cyber Safety on May 28, 2016 at Comet Media Foundation, 301, Meher House, 15, Cowasjee Patel Street, Fort, Mumbai (5 mins walk from Churchgate station) from 2 pm to 7 pm.

The workshop is being organised by Intellifox Designs and Supersonic Aero Modelers. And being supported by Responsible Netism group.

Events :
Intellifox Designs will do a presentation on social etiquette and communication.

Supersonic Aero Modelers will teach you about Aeromodeling and basics of aerodynamics and possibilities of making it a career. Followed by some activities.

Responsible Netism, a group under the Ahaan Foundation will be there to educate you regarding advantages and disadvantages of digitalization and how to be cautious and responsible on the net. They work in coordination with Mumbai and Thane Cyber cell and will guide you on how to tackle cyber-crimes.

Apart from above, we have a panel of experienced people ranging from bankers to software professional to medical to training to social work, who will be ready to answer questions regarding their professions and how to make a career in those professions.

Plus there will be stalls with educational, creative and fun materials.

And a chance to network. Tea and snacks will be provided in break.

All this at no cost. Just Rs. 300/- to cover expenses. Don't miss this opportunity.

Limited seats only. 
Register now.
URL to register :

Be there!

Hands on the hips!

I disagree with Amy Cuddy's 'hand on hips' being a power posture to give you confidence and excel.

I'd advise her to come to India and understand that it is considered a posture of the unsophisticated. You find many standing like that in many places. Men. Women. Not because they're confident and ready to take on the world, but because they do not know any proper way of standing. They do not know to keep their feet close to each other and what to do with their hands. That's the only way their know to stand.

And in a country like India where there are lots of people and market places are overcrowded, imagine if each one displays 'power posture', what would happen! A few people standing like that is a nuisance, anyway. While others might disagree and think it's still a sign of power, I personally find it very annoying. If it's a lady, I sometimes lightly tap their elbow if they are blocking the way, standing like that!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Of allowing women inside mosques and shrines (dargah)

There's a lot being said by non Muslims about women not being allowed in mosques. Also, there is an agitation at Haji Ali and some shrines for getting entry for women right up to the graves. I've been to Haji Ali and I feel women are allowed sufficiently inside. Only there is a small barrier on woman's side right till grave. But I wonder why women want to touch the grave?

Haji Ali dargah at Mumbai, India
First of all, there is a difference between a dargah (shrine/tomb) and a masjid (mosque), which we will discuss later. Let us first try to know if Muslim women are allowed in mosques. The answer to that is that there is no such ruling in Islam which disallows women in mosques. Women are allowed as long as there is an arrangement in it for them to pray. There are such mosques across the world. I've heard of a few such in Kerala too. The arrangement is for women's dignity and making it convenient for us to manage prayers with home responsibilities. The Quran states that it's better for women to pray in house and that it's better for men to pray in mosques (masjid). There are more brownie points for the 'better' aspect. It does not state that women are disallowed in masjids. Nor are men disallowed to pray in house in case of emergency or if no time to go to masjid. The procedure is the same. Only in mosques, we pray in a group behind a 'imaam' (one who leads the prayer) and repeat after him. At home, you follow the same process on your own in solitude. And what are masjids/ mosques? It's just a place to gather together and pray (offer namaz) and disperse till next call-to-prayer (azaan). There's nothing in it that you need to view / bow down to. Nor candles or incense sticks to light. People gather in mosques just to offer namaz after call to prayer (azaan) is made. There are 5 calls throughout different times of day, till one last in the night. And mosques could be of small areas too and a simple structure without the fancy walls and entrances. In fact, I knew of a relative living in a joint family in a big house, where they had a prayer room and the head of the family used to call out the azaan and be the imaam also. And the family used to pray behind him as per procedure. So there's no big deal about it as is being made out. Women usually hear 'azaan' and offer namaz (Salaat) in house itself. It's so much convenient that way. After all, we Muslims have to face Kaaba (whichever part of world we are) and pray 5 times of day. Not go to the masjid once in a blue moon.

Another thing which many non Muslims confuse is 'dargahs' with mosques. Both are totally different things. Dargahs are tombs of saints. They are not places of worship. Those saints are called Walis (friends of Allah) and each has his own miracle circle/ blessings from God. Muslims never pray to them. Those who do are wrong. They are a medium. So you either go to dargah to pay respect to them or ask them to pray to Allah for you. This is called Tawassul or Wasila. Using someone's proximity to God as a medium to achieve one's own goal / prayer. Interesting thing which many non Muslims do not know is that there are two schools of thought in Islam regarding this. There is one school which does not recognize the dargahs at all.

Another important thing to note is that many of these saints abstained from women in their lives and lived a life of piety. Quran states indirectly that walis never really die. So in some dargahs, women are not allowed right up to the graves. One needs to respect that. If they stayed away from women or did purdah from women (yes, there is purdah for men from women too), then why would someone not want to honour that after a person's death? It's literally making him turn in the grave!

Those women who really want women to have public places of worship, should come together and pool to form a masjid (mosque) for women. Or root for arrangement for women in masjids as well. I don't understand how touching a grave is considered worship? 

Why is no one agitating for building women's mosques? Because mosques are the real places of worship and we want to shy away from real prayers. Mosques means having to go 5 times daily to offer prayers. So praying at home seems to be convenient for ladies instead of having to dress up 5 times to go to mosques. We need to be presentable while venturing out of house and while praying, a certain dress code is followed. And building a mosque and not going will be disrespectful. Some people are purposely creating issues to put Muslims down. 

Once again, dargahs are shrines/ tombs. Respect the person resting in peace there. If it's a lady's tomb like the one opposite Haji Ali, then women are welcome there. I don't know if anyone has felt it, when whenever I have visited a dargah, I can sense the wali's presence and automatically feel very conscious. In fact, I found it very shocking many years back when we were allowed to touch the tomb at Ajmer Sharif. Some special people are allowed there. And if you get a high profile khadim, you are given straight entry. It happens so fast, you can't think. Please respect the walis, ladies. 

Next we know is that we will want to enter graveyards and built tombstones of our family members there. Slowly, we will want bigger structures and introduce practices that are prohibited in Islam. In a place like India, where there are billions of people and many Muslims too, space has been an issue. Those who do not know, most Muslim graveyards in India follow the recycling process. Suppose, some is buried in a specific area in a graveyard, after some years (considering decomposition cycle), that same point is re-used to bury someone else. This last part is only for information as there seems to be a lot of misinformation about Muslims amongst many.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

In exchange for what?

It's really sad and disgusting to watch people bargaining with small vendors selling small things with a little profit margin.

Bargaining is good and applicable on certain things and the seller will also tell you his limits. But when you buy and last moment refuse to take your stuff just for a question of Rs 10/-, which might mean nothing to you, is pathetic!

What will you do with that Rs.10/-? Nothing much, I guess. Even minimum fare by auto is more than that! You might buy a packet of chips for your kid just like that. And that amount packet will have 6-7 chips at the most. Or buy a chocolate. But all this not out of necessity. While the vendor, to him every extra penny counts.

I would even understand if the buyer was not financially well off, but big people acting petty really pisses me. And these very people have some business where they sell things at fixed prices.

Yesterday I saw a well off woman with a daughter/ daughter-in-law in tow (who was in expensive clothing) and had a kid on her waist. They were buying crockery from a roadside vendor selling stuff from haath gaadi. The small cups were available for Rs.120/- a dozen only which was a decent amount. But importantly she had agreed and even packed what she bought and then started bargaining over 10 rupees. The look of pain in the vendor's eyes when she dumped the cups while he kept saying that she shouldn't do that after buying, I cannot forget. I could see tears almost waiting to roll out. He did agree eventually to reduce 10 bucks, but in exchange for that Rs.10/- the lady got his pain and unhappiness. Was it worth?

Every time I see people hurting, causing inconvenience, fighting, I think - 'what are they getting back in return'? You are getting back something which you would never want. For every illness, discomfort we face, God sets things right for us. He forgives us. He gives us a bargain. Mostly from the person who hurt us. The Lord's mathematics are perfect.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Intolerance - A Danger Phrase

Danger Phrases and Power Phrases is now my favourite topic, thanks to Dan O'Connor (check his videos on the topic and his book 'Say This -Not That!')

And I've seen how using danger phrases can ruin things or make a message ineffective. It can also cause a stir.

Sensitive as we Indians are, every word we speak should be with care. We know how the word 'intolerance' caused a furore in the nation. Of late we have seen a number of people use that word. However, it remains a negative/ danger word. And while speaking or giving feedback, people like to be associated with positive words.

I have been wondering about a suitable Power Phrase for the word Intolerance. And this is what I think fits the bill : 'Being more accepting of others'. 

So if you want to point to someone that they are being intolerant, the better way to say it will be 'You should be more accepting of different viewpoints as well'. This sounds much milder than telling someone 'You are intolerant'. If you say that, be prepared for a bashing. It will stem out of the thought 'okay, so I am intolerant, let me show you how far I can go with that'!

A powerful communicator is one who speaks positively and effectively and avoids danger phrases. Everyone should make a Danger Phrase list from our experiences and find a Power Phrase for it and incorporate it in our communication.

Intention (Neeyat)

Everything in Islam is based on intention (Neeyat), which is clearly stated before any act. Marriage, prayers, any act. 

Even if you are fasting for Ramzan, everyday when you wake up for suhoor, and you finish your morsel, you have to state your intent to fast for the coming day. It is in the form of a one line prayer for uniformity. Or at least say in your mind. If you are fasting and never say your neeyat and deep in your heart your intention is to lose weight, then your fasting is not for God. No one except you and God will know that.

Even when we offer our salaat (aka namaaz), we begin with the intention (Neeyat) - 'neeyat karta/ karti hoon main teen rakaat namaaz Farz (depends on type of prayer) waqt Maghrib (depends on time of prayer) waaste Allah Taala ke muh mera kaaba shareef ki taraf. Allahu Akbar'. Of course you can say the neeyat in any language.

For those who don't know Urdu or Hindi, the above means 'I intend to offer 3 parts of obligatory prayer of time maghrib for God's sake while I face the kaaba shareef. God is Great'. Every Muslim in the world faces the Kaaba while praying wherever he/she is located. We have a compass with us to know the direction. There are even special kaaba indicator compasses, which show you location of kabaa from where you are located. 

Rakaat means parts of prayer complete with bowing down on your knees and head touching ground (called 'Sajda'). The types are farz, sunnat, nifil, waajib. All acts of Islam are divided into category. Some are obligatory (farz), some non obligatory but preferable (mostly acts of sunnah). Actually all laws are of 4 types. Will not go into those details in this topic. Times of prayer are Fajr (before sunrise), Zohar (when the sun is overhead), Asar (the time between the sun going down -late afternoon/evening), Maghrib (just a few minutes prior to sunset), Eesha (to be offered at night).