Friday, October 31, 2008


I have to admit, I find horror movies extremely lame and stupid. Personally, The Ring was the only movie I found to be truly scary. In honour of Halloween I thought I would put up pictures of these 5 haunted buildings. Courtesy of CityNews. So if you are in Toronto it would be best to stay away from these places tonight ;).

5. Old City Hall

It is believed, the ghosts of Robert Turpin and Arthur Lucas, last two men sentenced to death in Canada, still roam around this building, where their death sentences were announced. Both of these men were believed to be wrongly convicted, so now their ghosts are supposedly avenging their deaths by mysteriously pulling on judges' robes. Cheeky delinquents, eh?

4. The Royal York Hotel
The staff has reported mysterious screams coming from the stairwell leading to the top two floors, which house the maintenance staff. These stairwells are monitored by a camera and motion sensors, but no visual evidence has been found of the screaming. The ghost of one of the staff members, who hung himself in the stairwell, is held responsible of the screaming. Moreover, some have witnessed spirit of an old man walking the hallways on the 8th floor. So remember if you are staying at this posh hotel, never to book a room on the 8th floor or on the top floors. Gravity is your friend, stay on one of the bottom floors.

3. Keg Mansion

The spookiness of this steakhouse is another good reason to become a vegetarian. Visitors have witnessed paranormal feminine presence in the ladies room. Apparently there is a mysterious pair of eyes which follow around people. If you are there be sure to flush, you don't want those peepers to follow you to the dining area now.

2. The Guild Inn

Mysterious sightings of a soldier with one blue and one brown eye have been reported. Loud noises and random temperature drops have also been experienced by the visitors.

1. The Old Don Jail

This 19th century penitentiary has housed more than its share of evildoers. The last two capital punishments were also carried on here. Let's just say the inmates were not treated too kindly here. Last year human remains were discovered in the parking lot. People have seen ghost of an angry blond female inside the building.

So now that you have been warned.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Me!

Okay so half an hour left till my birthday is officially over. I clearly overreacted, but as a friend kindly pointed out, it is never too early to start overreacting about getting old.

It was one of the best birthdays I have had so far. Thank ya'll for making it special and putting up with my bday rants.

By the way, they have the best vegetarian menu at Alice Fazooli's. Their Penne Arrabbiata and Margherita Pizza is to die for. The dessert was really good too, and it came with a sparkler (Thanks, Hotchick^n).

Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Jack Astor's jalapeno veggie tacos, going there this Sunday with friends =). Last time I did a bday dinner there, which was like ages ago, they made me stand on a chair, when they brought out the cake (Thanks for that, Bee). Not doing it this time. I am much older now. Might even have trouble climbing on and/or off the chair.

In the not so self-absorbed ramblings. Fox News reported that Joe the Plumber has joined McCain on the campaign trail. I can't believe Americans are relying on this dumbwit to show them the light. "We have learned more about Senator Obama's real goals for the country over the last few weeks then we've learned over the last two years and that's only because Joe the Plumber asked him the right questions." [Politico]

What right questions? This guy has been insinuating that Obama has anti-semitic inclinations, just so that McCain can win over the voters in Florida. The American election is making me nervous to the point that I have stopped reading anything that's related to poll rankings.

Here's hoping for a blissful year. I am looking at you my neighbours to the south.

p.s. Special thanks go out to changetheworld360, you are really so sweet =). Your post sincerely touched my heart. Thank you so much. Also, thanks Josh for remembering.

I think I maybe going soft in my old age :).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Islamic Pickup Lines

Jury might still be out whether Muslims have a sense of humour. But at least we can find solace in the fact that Muslim guys are just about as corny as the rest of men out there :P.

1. OMG!! I just saw part of your hair, now you are obligated to marry me.
2. Wanna date? I bought a whole box when I went to madinah.
3. Marry me so I don't have to lower my gaze everytime you walk into the room.
4. Girl you so fine. I see praying 5 times a day has really payed off.
5. Girl when I saw you I said mashAllah (praise to God), then I said inshAllah (God willing).
6. Girl...I know it's haraam (forbidden) "paying" so much "interest" in you...but I can't help myself...
7. Girl you're so hot, you make Shaytan sweat.
8. Have your mom call my mom.
9. You are the reason hijab was mandated.
10. Will my platinum VISA cover your dowry?

Source: Stolen off someone's Facebook.

What Tomorrow Brings I'll be there

Warning: The following is the most self-absorbed post in the history of blogging. Just thought I would give you guys a heads up.

I am a birthday person. I love birthdays. But this year for the first time, I have been feeling blue about getting older. Other than finishing university, I feel like nothing really has changed in my life, in this past year. I was just reanalyzing my life yesterday. Now that school is done (at least for now), the only uncertainty that is left in life is something I have no control over. I know this makes me sound like a sad love-sick person, but in the past one year I have met more than my share of prospects, guys. But nothing came out of those encounters.

I like to think I am not a demanding person (urmm, some might disagree). The first guy I was introduced to, even though he was from here, his parents lived in a McMansion in Congo. His disregard to the human rights violations was a total turnoff for me. I didn't judge him because of his social status, but it was his disregard to the poverty there that got to me. Congo has one of the highest rape incidences in the world. I don’t know if it was my neurosis or immaturity, but I couldn’t muster up the understanding to respect him for his callousness and ignorance. And we all know a healthy beginning of any relationship should be based on respect.

I feel that it takes more than wealth, a flashy car, a Rolex, or a huge diamond to impress a girl. Heck, if a guy bought me a ring, the first thing I would ask for is a certificate to make sure the rock is conflict-free, and not from one of the troubled regions in Africa. Canadian diamond is the best way to go folks. It is green and local :D. I am not a jewellery person, but I like the romantic notion of wearing a ring, which symbolizes commitment.

In this one past year, the only guy I felt the connection with was on a whole different spiritual spectrum. He had atheistic inclinations. I am not judging him for his beliefs, but I believe in my life there are a lot of blessings that I wouldn’t be able to explain without God’s existence. The guy was very honest, smart and funny. He was straight up, didn't beat around the bush, and we got along. But I couldn’t see our values and lifestyle meshing together in the long run.

Then there was the guy I almost said yes to because our values were similar. I knew he would be a safe bet, because I knew we wouldn’t be arguing over what to eat. But then that’s all we shared. The thing that brought me back to reality was that when I was younger, I never thought I would say yes to someone just because we shared the same religion and upbringing. The religion requirement was not even part of my list of wants, it was sort of a given. The list included a good sense of humour, witty, Craig David like looks. I used to have the biggest crush on Craig David. You could say he was my first love (Yeah, I don't know what I was smoking). I was in England the summer he released his first record. When I came back to Canada nobody knew who he was, he released his debut album a year later in North America. So the fact that I knew of him before my friends, meant that I got the first dibs on him. But even that didn’t stop us from fighting over him. He had good looks, and the extremely formidable British accent.

My irrational love of British accent comes from all the summers we spent there. We never stayed there long enough for the novelty of the accent to wear off. Their pronounced ‘ts’ are really like music to my ears. Plus, they have the best chocolate there. I am not the only one who thinks this, but the British Kit Kat and Dairy Milk taste so much better than the North American ones.

Then earlier this year, I almost got pressured into considering a guy from Pakistan. I was in Pakistan and my parents introduced me to a doctor. I figured if I married him and moved to Pakistan I would be able to help the poor there. That was the only way I could rationalize the situation I was in. But, then the language barrier was too much to overcome. Plus, I know I wouldn't last more than a month in Pakistan. I am too independent to be chaperoned around the country.

But at the end of the day, I am grateful for this past year. I have learned from each experience, and these guys have taught me what I am looking for. But I just want someone to appreciate me for who I am. A friend of mine pointed out that the guy I end up with needs to realize that I am a Lexus not a Honda. I don't know how I feel about being compared to an automobile. Or was he calling me high-maintenance? Urmm... Or why a Lexus, why not an Alfa Romeo :P?

I don’t know what the next year holds. Last year around this time I thought I would be in a long-term relationship by now. I am not the only one who is in this pressure cooker. My single friends are also under the same pressure. Those of us who are South Asians have to live upto the expectation of finding a decent boy right after our graduation. In our culture, once you are done school all the aunties gang up to get you married. And, once you are over 25, you are done.

A couple of years ago, I went through an Incubus phase, where I just couldn’t get enough of their music. My playlist was full of their songs. I rediscovered their song Drive, yesterday. The title of this post is taken from the same song. It’s a beautiful song, and the video is amazing too. Since YouTube has disabled embedding, I am copy-pasting the lyrics here:

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much I let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I'm beginning to find that I
Should be the one behind the wheel

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah

I don’t know what the next year holds. I like my freedom. But I would be lying if I said that I am not feeling the pressure. But I am not gonna let my single status or my age get in the way of celebrating my birthday. If anything I still have a year to be totally over the hill. So here is to that.

Lights - Drive My Soul

p.s. It's not my birthday today. I still got two more days, but I like to overreact from before :).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jan Wong: Beijing Confidential

Beijing Confidential is a memoir written by Jan Wong. She was one of the first few foreign students living in China during the Cultural Revolution, in the 1970s. Her book chronicles her return to China in 2004, and her struggle to find her fellow Beijing University student, who she reported to the Maoist authorities, when the student expressed her desire to move to America.

The book is very well written, and grabs you in from the first page. It reminds the readers of the ancient history of China, the rise of Beijing city under three imperial rulers (Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties), the ascend of Maoist Communist Party, and the birth of new China, which we all witnessed during this year's Olympics. The author travelled to China when they were still building the new Beijing International Airport, the largest in the world, in preparation of the Olympics.

This book also reminded me that the Cultural Revolution, and the Tiananmen Square massacre (1989) did not happen too long ago. The China we saw in August on our television screens is different from what it used to be a few decades ago. The book showed, how far China has come. There was a time when people were not allowed to own property, or keep pets, and the entire neighbourhood had to share one public latrine. During her journey, Wong couldn't help herself from drawing comparisons between the 1970's Orwellian Beijing, and the prosperous cosmopolitan that it is now. But these details are presented so beautifully that one does not get bored by the facts.

Tiananmen Square is such an important part of Chinese history. I first learned about the massacre in 1997, when I was watching the Hong Kong handover ceremony. I remember being glued to the TV, because I thought this was going to be the single-most-important milestone of our lifetime. I remember they had put up a big countdown clock in the Tiananmen Square, and the BBC reporter kept mentioning the massacre and the 'Tank Man'.

At that point I knew who General Mao was, thanks to the British show 'Mind Your Language'. The show was about new immigrants learning the English language, and having difficulty understanding the English figure of speech. One of the characters was an ardent Maoist, who always carried around General Mao's red book, and wore the Maoist suit.

So the same Tiananmen Square, where so many supporters of freedom and equality (mainly university students) lost there lives at the hands of their own Chinese military, also became the focal point of China's support and joy of Hong Kong's return to the mainland. Few years later, the same Tiananmen Square also brought together Chinese from all walks of life to celebrate their Olympic glory.

I am not saying we should keep living in the past, and keep blaming China for its past. But it is just astounding how far China has come, in just the span of few decades. Jan Wong provides an excellent unbiased account of China and Beijing in this least self-absorbed memoir. She doesn't just talk about Beijing's history and present, but also the people and how their lifestyle and attitudes have evolved over the years. I strongly recommend this book. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

This movie is extremely cute. The background score is amazing, and the movie is very simple, yet very interesting. Nick, who is sulking over a recent breakup, ends up meeting Norah, and within a span of one night they discover things about each other, like how they are musical soulmates. Both Michael Cera (Nick) and Kat Dennings (Norah) are amazing in the movie, with their deadpan sense of humour. Do check it out, the movie is refreshing, and would leave you feeling twirly (yes I just made up a word).

Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg make guest appearances. But sadly the friends I was with had no idea who these people were, so I was the only one squealing :(.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Brush with Celebrity

I went to the Hour taping yesterday. The guests were John Legend and Dr. Julio Montaner. John Legend’s interview was pre-taped, they filmed it at the Toronto International Film Festival.

However, the epidemiologist dork in me was very happy to meet Dr. Montaner. He’s the president of the International AIDS Society. He mentioned, 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2007. And, 2 million people died from AIDS in 2007. Dr. Montaner, who has persuaded the G8 leaders for more AIDS funding, said the world leaders are very forthcoming when it comes to introducing new policies, but when push comes to shove people in Africa, and now in Asia and South America still need our immediate help. Through his medical research he was able to find a link between the development of HIV resistance to nucleoside analogues and clinical progression of the disease.

The Hour’s host George Stroumboulpoulos talked about One Million Acts of Green (please check out the website). George Strombo was extremely nice in person. He hung around during the commercial breaks, and answered questions. He even stuck around after the show, so my friend and I got to have some one on one time with him :D. But I was totally left awestruck by his humility, and did I mention how nice he was. He made me all giggly and I turned totally red. Same thing happened to me when I met Keanu Reeves at TIFF. The charity I used to volunteer with got me and my significant other (who happened to be my sister, Hotchick^n) red carpet tickets to North Country’s world premiere. So we got to walk down the red carpet along with Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sean Bean, and Woody Harrelson. So when Keanu Reeves made an unexpected red carpet entry I totally went weak on my knees, and all girly-giggly.

There is something about celebs that makes us, or at least me, all giddy and all girly. Now next on my list is to attend SNL and the Daily Show’s taping. I don’t even know what I would do if I ever had an encounter with Seth Meyers *gasping for air*.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Music to my eyes

I Don't Trust Myself with Loving You by John Mayer - I love cranking up the volume and listening to this song. This guy can not only sing and play the guitar, but I have to admit he's not bad to look at either ;). Make sure to check out the video, some nice samaritan (may God bless their soul) made a John Mayer slideshow =).

Realize by Colbie Caillat - proves she is not just a one-hit wonder.

Kuch is Tarah by Atif Aslam - I couldn't find an english translation of this Bollywood song. But this song makes me all gooey, the guy has that deep husky voice. He has this other song that I really like =).

Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol - Is this song ever gonna get old? It's a perfect broom-/mopping song.

p.s. Coldyplay is gonna be on next SNL!!!

p.p.s. I still can't get over how amazing Amy Poehler was last week on SNL. She kicked butt with her Sarah Palin-Republican rap.

Monday, October 20, 2008


It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the presence of Islamophobia in our society. In some countries it is a lot more blatant and worse, but in others it is very subtle and passive. I am not one of those people who blame their shortcomings or fate on stigma and discrimination, but I can't deny the existence of ignorance and Islamophobia. Obama has been accused of being a Muslim by McCain's campaign. Therefore, I understand, why Obama's campaign has to stress that he is a church going guy. If anything judging by Obama's church attendance he is more of a devout Christian than McCain.

But what if he is a Muslim? What is wrong with being a Muslim? As the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof pointed out, labelling Obama a Muslim is just McCain's campaign's push to "otherize" Obama. Make him seem less American. Since they can't attack him for being Black, because that would seem too short-sighted in the 21st century, so it would make more sense to hate him because of his Muslim middle name, Hussein, after all we are still dealing with the aftershock of 9/11.

I believe state and religion should be kept separately. I don't understand, how being of Christian faith, or of any faith for that matter, would help anyone become a good leader. Isn't that a case of religious extremism? There are al-Qaeda and Taleban leaders who dream of one day creating a constitution where their distorted version of religious principles are practiced. This conception of a so-called religious state, in my eyes, qualifies as extremism. So, the American demand of preferring a "Christian" leader, over a more educated Democratic candidate, not only shows religious intolerance, or ignorance, but is also a case of religious extremism. The candidates should rely on their policies and qualifications, not on their religious faith to win the presidency.

For this reason, I couldn't be more happier to read the Former Secretary of Sate Colin Powell's stance on discrimination and American media's blatant ignorance:

"I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said. Such things as 'Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.' Well the correct answer is 'He is not a Muslim, he's a Christian, he's always been a Christian.' But the really right answer is 'What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?' The answer is 'No. That's not America.' Is there something wrong with some 7-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

"I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo-essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in you can see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Karim Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American, he was born in New Jersey, he was 14 at the time of 9/11 and he waited until he can go serve his counrty and he gave his life."

Found here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ever After

Marriage means different things to different people.

For some it is just practical. Two people with similar values coming together to build a life together. They don’t have any romantic expectations from each other. They find romance in the institution of marriage, and in the idea of planning a wedding, picking out the dress, the flowers, the venue, you know the whole shindig. The couple’s primary expectation from each other is simple and very vague, they want to look after each other (hopefully), and get busy right away.

In a culture, where your success depends on your marital status (apparently South Asians took the principles of evolution* a little too seriously) what are the singletons supposed to do? If someone has been out in the market for a while, people wonder why they are still single, wonder if there’s something seriously wrong with them.

During the dating process, there’s always this excitement and hope of meeting someone special, dare I say better. Better here is very subjective. But once you agree to tie the knot, you are also agreeing to give up on that fantasy. I know there is a possibility of your future spouse superseding your expectations, and actually appreciating, and loving you more than you ever imagined it was possible. But, sometimes fiction is so much better than the actual reality. The dream of being in a relationship, where you have the perfect combination of chemistry and compatibility, is very hard to actually have in the real life. So personally, I rather take my time now to make sure I don’t spend the rest of my life wondering what could have happened had I waited a bit longer. I don't want to rush into something that is merely A-OK, and not excellent. In the meantime, the idea and the hope of that special someone is more than enough, at least for now :D.

If a guy needs to impress a girl, he doesn’t need a flashy car or oodles of cash, there are so many other formidable traits that are far more important, such as a good sense of humour. I will take Andy Samberg any day over Mark Wahlberg.

A psychological study, conducted at McMaster University showed, the female participants preferred a witty guy over a hunkilicious empty vessel. Men, who participated, in the study, also gave the same feedback. But their definition of a funny woman was someone with the sense of humour to appreciate their hilarity. (Men, always thinking about themselves *shakes head*)

So we have already established what women want, let's turn to our good friend Darwin to figure out what men are looking for. Men dig symmetry. Men are drawn to symmetrical features, as they are indicative of healthy genes, and fecundity. No wonder it is so important for us ladies to make sure our eyebrows are matching :P (Great, I so don’t stand a chance now; thanks to my new eyebrow lady). Sexy symmetrical bodies help men in gauging reproductive health of their potential mate, and informing them whether the mating between the two would make them evolutionary fit, resulting in several healthy offspring.

I know in real life things are different, and a lot more complicated; we are all looking for a combination of different traits.

* In evolution an organism that leaves behind the most number of long living offspring is considered successful or fit.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

10 Things I Love about Wimbledon

The movie, that is. Just finished watching it for the upteenth time.

10. Westminister and Big Ben at night *gasping for air*
9. Has mush with a twist of tennis, or tennis with a twist of mush.
8. Reminds me of Fever Pitch (Go Red Sox!).
7. Love the sunset-run scene
6. James McAvoy as Peter's brother
5. Wimbledon tournament, it doesn't get better than that
4. Filmed in England (reminds me of my summer holidays there)
3. Peter's vintagey car (was that an alfa romeo?)
2. Real tennis players playing tennis!!!
1. British accent - I am a sad anglophile, sue me :-).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Malcolm Gladwell: The Tipping Point

Somewhere, in between cooking, and entertaining family friends, I finally managed to finish The Tipping Point, this long weekend. Would I recommend this to anyone? I honestly don't know, the book was definitely interesting but it was very redundant too. You can probably get the gist, of what the book is all about, by reading the numerous reviews floating around the internet.

The one thing, I would like to share is Malcolm Gladwell's discussion about context. In the book he mentions, how our brain associates absolute traits when we meet someone new, or when we are describing them to others. For instance, say a hypothetical Ethan is friends with Joe, who he met at a halloween party. Joe came across as a fun loving person, at the party. But Joe's co-worker Kyle (I am just coming up with random names here), who has never seen Joe out of work and office parties, sees Joe as a very studious serious person. Since both Ethan and Kyle know Joe under different social circumstances, their perception of Joe differs from each other. When asked, both Ethan and Kyle would describe Joe using different absolute traits. Therefore, our behaviour, choices, actions, and choice of words depend on the setting we are in. We, generally speaking, act or behave differently when we are around our work friends, friends we grew up with, acquaintances, and family members.

Take facebook for example, your friends are organized based on the school you went/go to, your work place, city, and several other categories. But since the interaction between you and your friends unfolds on your facebook wall, in front of others to see, the meaning of context, in my opinion, is lost. On facebook, you might have a friend that you met at a club, and one you met at a religious event. Both of them know you under distinct circumstances, and in the real world are probably exposed to two different sides of you. But on facebook, where they are both sharing the same space, they become exposed to a side of you, they didn't expect, based on your affiliation with them, or based on the circumstances you met them under.

Moreover, people are not purely evil or saintly. Our situation and timing determine our behaviour. We really cannot/must not judge anyone. If someone spoke to us rudely, it is not because they are rude, they might be having a bad day, or maybe they are just misunderstood. So the grouping of people into absolute traits deprives us of actually getting to know the person.

Same thing applies to people with intellectual disabilities. Too often we determine their behaviour based on the intellectual disability they have. Just like two people with diabetes are not the same; two people with the same intellectual disability, say autism, are not the same either. By labelling them, and predicting their behaviour based on their disability, we are yet again depriving ourselves from the opportunity to learn about the actual individual.

By the way, The Tipping Point is a psychological book, the format and the language are very similar to the one seen in scientific journals. The author's main thesis is what makes certain ideas stick with people, in other words, how can we make a message more effective. When trying to solve crime, or selling a product, how should we present the information, and who should be our target audience.

If the goal is to be an effective orator, then definitely pick up this book. It will be a helpful read.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn Hues

Here's something for you guys, when you are out and about admiring the beautiful autumn hues, and wondering what brings about the leaves to change their colour.

It has been hypothesized, shorter days and chillier nights cause the leaves to change colour. The yellow colour appears when chlorophyll (responsible of the green colour) breaks down in aging leaves. The orange colour appears if newly produced red pigments aren't dominant yet, and the pigment is blended with the revealed yellow. Leaves eventually turn red, so they can repel egg laying bugs or guard nutrients from sun damage so the tree can retrieve them for future use.

Moreover, climate change hasn't been too kind on foliage, as autumn is getting warmer and drier. Drought causes leaves to turn brown and drop off early. Whereas, cloudy days slow down the creation of red pigment, resulting in more yellow leaves.

I just looked out the window at my cherry tree, majority of the leaves are still green, and a small number have turned yellow. Whereas, mulberry, pear, apple and peach trees are still very green. (Yes, I live in a farmhouse :D). The cherry tree gets more sunlight compared to the rest of them so maybe that's why its leaves are turning yellow first. Plus the cherry tree is the first to blossom too. Hmm, maybe I should have paid more attention in Ecology.

Sorry for boring you guys with these facts, which you probably already knew from before.

Source: October's National Geographic

Friday, October 10, 2008

Family Guy

I can't say I am a devout Family Guy fan, I have watched a couple of episodes here and there. But it's really amazing that a biased network like Fox would broadcast a show like Family Guy. The season premiere informs/reminds its viewers that Bush's closet is full of more skeletons than we ever thought. Now, here is a family you can never under-estimate.

Please read this article for more information :D.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mad Men

Being sick has provided me with an excellent opportunity to catch up on Mad Men (ahh, that silver lining of strep throat). A cable drama set in the late 50's/early 60's. The first look reminded me of Frank Wheeler's Manhattan that I read about in Revolutionary Road. The writing is amazing and very poetic. I think this new series is right up there with Six Feet Under. The characters are very well-developed, and multi-faceted. I like it when characters are ambiguous and there is no right or wrong, and they are flawed with a swirl of goodness, something very Shakespearean about that.

The series mainly addresses the issue of sexism. Women in the office, as the secretaries, are shown as sex commodities, but one of them actually gets promoted to be a copywriter. The show is about an advertising firm, marks the beginning of the commercialistic corporate era. Peggy Olson's promotion from Don Draper's secretary to a copywriter, made me wonder if she's earning the same salary as her male counterparts. But, the issue of salary discrimination is not archaic. Last month, a study showed that men still earn more money than women, even though more women are going for big corporate jobs.

I am probably going off on a tangent here, but sexism still exists in our western society. For instance, the other day I went to drop off my mom, and the entrance to the parking lot was closed due to construction. The big deep yellow sign saying "Men are working" warded off people, and made cars turn around to park elsewhere. I know this is something very small, and I am honestly not picking a fight here, as I have never seen a female construction worker. But, it just caught my attention, and as this Time's article points out, these signs give the impression that only men are suitable for these jobs.

Same thing goes for when I take my car for a tune up or repair. The car service area is a very high testosterone zone, and last year for the first time I saw a female mechanic, and I just wanted to say, "You go girl!". Moreover, you mostly see men bringing their wife's/daughter's car for repair.

In Rwanda, for the first time ever we have a female majority in the parliament. The legislative world is still dominated by white old men. Supposedly, we have surpassed the feministic movement, and my generation falls under the category of Post-Feminism era, where we didn't have to fight for our rights. But, sexism does exist. In my university math classes, I was part of a small number, there were only 4 other girls with me. This meant I couldn't be late for my classes ;-), because the profs didn't have a hard time remembering me.

Turning to Canadian politics, I couldn't be happier for Elizabeth May, the Green Party leader. She was the only woman at our debates, and she held her ground, in both the English and French language debates. Stephen Harper's advisors have asked him to wear a sweater to soften his image, so he can tap into the female demographic, who have gone for the Liberals in the past. Is it really that easy to get our votes?! But apparently, this strategy is working for Harper, and for the first time, compared to the previous elections, a high number of women voters are supporting Harper's Conservative party. Same thing goes for Russia's Vladimir Putin. Last summer, the then President of Russia, released bare-chested photos of him, so he could be seen as Russia's sex symbol.

But, the same sexism, in some cases, can also work for people's advantage. For instance in Sarah Palin's case, whenever her foreign affairs knowledge is questioned, the right-winged Fox News accuses the media for being sexist. Joe Biden, instead of attacking Palin's inexperience, and incoherent 'verbage', focused his attacks on McCain, in the last week's VP debate. He didn't want to be labelled as a pompous sexist.

You cannot really hold men responsible of sexism, when we have made the four ladies of Sex and the City crusaders of female independence and success. No strings-attached sexual behaviour shouldn't be a determinant of how far we have come. Nor does a woman's need of Manolo Blahnik to feel empowered. Why aren't we selling movies like Erin Brockovich, the only movie that comes to mind, I am seriously drawing a blank here, to show that women are intelligent. Carrie Bradshaw should not be put on a pedestal, and reckoned to be our heroine, it's women like Margaret Atwood who write about strong intelligent female characters who deserve the status we have placed on these four Botox-tod women. Or women like Mukhtar Mai, and Somaly Mam, who have made women's education and freedom their primary goals, and because of their will power have managed to transcend the cultural boundaries their patriarchal society imposed on them.

Two-Step Mainstreaming

Chris Brown's Forever is a song I'm sort of embarrassed to love. It's, after all, totally mainstream you know :P. Whenever this song comes on the radio, I find myself cranking up the volume and bobbing my head. It has been a couple of months since the song came out, but I still haven't grown out of it. This kid got the moves, yo. His grammar is very good too, he says, "Me and and I."

Michael Buble's Save the Last Dance, makes me wish I could salsa dance. Plus, he's Canadian :D, so that's all I need :).

Okay, time to promote my own culture. The Bilz's 2 Step Bhangra is another old number, but I still love it. I heard it on Z103.5 the first time, and I was uber excited to hear a South Asian song on the radio. At the same time, it was very amusing how they struggled to pronounce the word Bhangra. Love this song, and who knew brown guys could dance too. They are from Montreal. Sadly, they have gone totally MIA after this song.

I loved the two songs the Killers performed on last week's SNL. Check out their new song called Human from their new album, which comes out in November.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Revolutionary Road

A lot has been written, and said about marriage. Visit a drugstore and you would find that every single magazine at least has an article generously sharing the secrets of marital bliss.

A couple of years ago, Time magazine published a list of 100 best novels of the 20th century. That summer my goal was to read as many books as I can from that list. Not because I am a conformist or a sad lonely nerd, okay maybe the latter, but it was sheer curiosity that got me working towards that still unfulfilled goal. The list contained some well-known books, some of which I had read or heard of before, but also had some lesser-known novels, including Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

The book showed a rather realistic, if not morbid aspect of marriage. In the book, April Wheeler was initially drawn to her Columbia educated husband Frank Wheeler, because of his worldly knowledge, and WWII European travel experience, he serenaded her with. These young lovers had dreams and aspirations, which made them feel different from their counterparts and elders. But soon, April got pregnant with their first child, and they found themselves settling into the sub-urban picket fenced lifestyle. The mystery, dreams, and sense of endearment that brought them together, slipped away with the passage of time, as April's life became about cooking, cleaning, and looking after her family, and Frank was stuck working, in Manhattan, at a job that he despised, but stuck it out because he had the responsibility to provide for his family.

I often joke with my friends that this is the book I am gonna give to the guy as a wedding present, so he is aware of the bleak side of marriage. I know, this might be a bad idea, because this book is hardly romantic, but I believe people should go into marriage with the knowledge that taking the relationship to the ultimate big step requires both responsibility and maturity.

Last year, I found out that they were turning this book into a movie. I wasn't too thrilled about the news, as they almost always fail to do justice to the original characters and the story. But my reservations were somewhat reassured when I discovered Sam Mendes, who directed American Beauty, is directing the movie, and it will have Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet playing the leads. I thought Kate Winslet did an excellent job in the film adaptation of Little Children. And well Leo is just Leo. He is not just a pretty face, but also an environmentalist - *gasping for air* (so I am not totally shallow).

The trailer looks very promising, and the movie comes out in December. I hear that they are advertising it is as Titanic's sequel, which is not a fair assessment at all. Be sure to read the book before you go watch the movie.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kids say the darndest things

This year, my parents decided to throw a big Eid dinner, I think about 25 people were invited. So my Sunday was spent helping my mom cook, and clean. I think, I might have passed along my flu germs, while performing my domestic duties. Yum, eh?

But, the best part of the night were the kids. In the house of grownups, we have to be really creative when kids come over. They hung out in my room, the aunties and uncles had taken over the main floor, and it was too chilly in the basement. Poor kids amused themselves with my pens, drawers and camera - children are easy to entertain. They were very smart, they all knew how to work the camera, and took turns in taking random pictures of each other.

We also watched Enchanted, a Disney movie about a princess who is teleported to the real world by an evil lady. Obviously, the prince charming also follows her to the real world, to rescue her, and bring her back to the La La land so they can live happily ever after.

When the prince charming eventually finds her, the following conversation ensues:

Princess: We should go on a date?
Prince: What's a date?

To that one of the kids, I was watching the movie with, said, "a date is a fruit." I thought it was the most adorable and innocent thing ever, especially considering that dates are Ramadan's staple food. I thought it was cute, because if someone had asked me about a date, my first reaction wouldn't have been the fruit date. Even though, I just spent an entire month breaking my fast with dates, an Islamic tradition.

Here's an anecdote that you guys might like:

A kindergarten student told his teacher he had found a cat, but it was dead. 'How do you know that the cat was dead?' she asked her student. 'Because I pissed in its ear and it didn't move,'answered the child innocently. 'You did WHAT???' the teacher exclaimed in surprise. 'You know,' explained the boy, 'I leaned over and went 'Pssst!' and it didn't move.'

Nuit Blanche '08

Nuit Blanche is a free all-night contemporary art event, where art galleries and museums are kept open from sundown to sunrise. It's a French import, but has become an annual thing in Toronto, was first introduced in 2006.

Artwork, live art, and visual installations by various international and Canadian artists were displayed throughout downtown Toronto. Unlike last year, the event was more organized and art displays were setup near the subway stations, so it was easier to get around, and locate the places. We were also more prepared, we already had our route planned out, and did not attempt to see everything, which didn't really work out too well for us, last year.

Last year, Nuit Blanche was during Ramadan so because of the night time prayers we had a late start. Not only that, we were also stuck downtown till 6 AM, so I had to struggle to find an open food place to eat my pre-dawn Ramadan breakfast or my pre-fast breakfast (the latter sounds a bit oxymoronic). Also, it took us ages to get home, since the buses had stopped running, and we even attempted to walk home from Kipling Station. All in all circa 2007's Nuit Blanche was a flop because of poor organization.

But this year, the organizers totally redeemed themselves. The TTC was up and running, and we were able to get home at a decent hour (what 2 AM is pretty decent ;-D. I know, on any other day, I wouldn't be allowed to stay out this late, but my parents are anti-Harper, hence they showed their opposition by letting me appreciate the art - I know, excuses, excuses...).

I have attached pictures of some of the displays that I liked. The exciting thing about Nuit Blanche is that it's not only about the art, it's also about the experience, of people getting together, trying to locate the art displays which are spread out, and enjoying the downtown experience.

Disclaimer: I am not good at describing events, but I just wanted to write something so you would sort of know what the following pictures are all about.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Comic Living

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Love Factually

My friend sent me this Cosmo-ish article regarding interesting facts about love. Maybe finding these observations interesting make us desperate, but what the heck, at least, we are not totally over the hill yet.

My favourite ones are:

1. Men who kiss their wives in the morning live five years longer than those who don't. - There's something good about the stinky morning breath, after all.

2. People are more likely to tilt their heads to the right when kissing instead of the left (65 percent of people go to the right!) - I wonder if it's because majority of the people are right-handed...

12. Eleven percent of women have gone online and done research on a person they were dating or were about to meet, versus seven percent of men. - I am guilty of this, sue me for being well-informed okay! *embarrassed*.

17. People who are newly in love produce decreased levels of the hormone serotonin — as low levels are seen in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Perhaps that's why it's so easy to feel obsessed when you're smitten. - ah, finally an explanation.

19. According to mathematical theory, we should date a dozen people before choosing a long-term partner; that provides the best chance that you'll make a love match. - Have a lot of catching up to do here.

20. A man's beard grows fastest when he anticipates sex. - Who knew beard would be such an excellent marker. This is perhaps due to increased levels of testosterone.

More found here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ode to October

Eid Mubarak and Shana Tova.

I love it when religious festivals of different faiths coincidently fall on the same day. Last year, it was Diwali and Eid, which ended up being on the same day, and this year it's Eid and Rosh Hashanah. What can I say, us Muslims are very generous. We like to share our religious holidays with others. This way we don't seem like total slackers when we take the day off. On a non-lame note, I feel this coincidence may somehow remind people that we are more alike than we are different. Sorry to break it to you folks, we are really not that different from each other.

This year Eid also marks the beginning of my favourite month *drum roll please* October. My love for October is very deep you see. Beautiful autumn leaves. All these myriad fall colours, be it yellow, maroon, red, rusty brown, really are breathtaking, and make me pause to admire the beauty around me. Also, fall makes me want to go to Erindale Park for a nice walk by the Credit River, and hopefully have a close encounter with the deer and bunnies, that rule the land.

Oh by they way, I also heart October because I was born in this poetic month of beauty and perfection. Although, I have to wait almost an entire month for my birthday. It's on the 30th if anyone is interested in keeping a countdown, I know I am :-).

By the way, Black Tuesday was on the 29th, so I think my mom really had me on the perfect day. I am sandwiched between the infamous Wall Street crash (which is becoming a recurring nightmare, apparently), and R.L. Stine Goosebumps cavity-fest, otherwise known as Halloween.

Other not-so important things that happened in October:

October 1: The first postcards were issued in 1869
October 2: The comic strips Peanuts first appeared in 1950
October 4: Sputnik was launched into space in 1957
October 6: Thomas Edison showed his first motion picture in 1889
October 7: The first far side pictures of the moon were released in 1959
October 11: SNL premiered with guest host George Carlin in 1975
October 22: Apollo 7 returned to earth in 1968
October 23: The first iPod was released in 2001
October 24: Black Thursday in 1929
October 25: Jean Chretien became our Prime Minister in 1993
October 29: The International Red Cross was established in 1863
October 30: First ballpoint pen was patented in 1888

More found here - Today was my absolute day off, okay! :-)