Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 2 of my trip to Peru. Chincero, Moras, Ollantaytambo.

Before I start this blog, my husband asked me to explain who Salman and Boris were.  He said it wasn't clear in the last 2 blog posts.  So, let me explain.  Salman was my travel buddy for the trip.  NO romantic entanglements, in case you are wondering!  And Boris was our tour guide arranged by Adventure Life.  I must say, I'm really glad I'm doing this blog transfer.  Brings back great memories.  And going through all the pictures feel good.  I think to myself, "Oh yeah!  I went there too!"  I hope you all get to travel to Peru some day.  Beautiful country.  Beautiful people.  I won't take much more of this blog.  Go ahead and continue to read my travel journal.

The day started with breakfast. Eggs were normal. There was papaya juice and pineapple juice. Had this interesting cereal called Kiwicha with strawberry yogurt. Was good!

First stop was Chincero. Again, narrow streets and lots of climbing. But before I start Chinceros, on the drive there, I saw upper Cusco City, the poorer population. Their homes are up top mountains and they have to climb their way there. Long narrow steps!

Anyways, in Chinceros we visited a handicraft home. They showed us how they make their scarves. I felt raw wool of sheep and alpaca. Alpaca is much softer. The process is as follows: They take the raw wool and wash it in water and soap. Soap is from the root of a tree that is available 4 hours away. After they wash the wool, they dry it. Then they pull into yarns with their spinning wheels. Then they further strengthen yarns with double yarns spun together. They then die the yarn. They use NATURAL color. For green, they use the leaf of a particular plant and boil in water. For red, they use the blood of a particular parasite that grows on a cactus. They squeeze it and it is red. They use it as a natural 24 hour lipstick. Also they add lime to make color lighter. Some colors, they add salt to change. I think green changed to orange or something drastic. After dying the yarn, they actually weave it together and make patterns. It was very interesting. I went a little shopping crazy. I bought an alpaca sweater, shawl and hats.

Then we visited the Chinceros ruins near the church and the agricultural tables. I hate to journal about it but I needed to use the rest room so badly that I couldn't focus much on the agricultural tables although they were beautiful. I was lucky there was a rest room before heading down the street to the Chinceros market.  I think it was the hypoxia and myself drinking tons of coca tea that lead me to having to use the rest room every hour!  Although I did entertain the possibility that I had suddenly turned diabetic on my trip!

At the Chinceros market, they trade potatoes for vegetables. So local farmers bring their potatoes and are able to take home carrots, corn, tomatoes etc. Very neat system. Saw people drink corn beer. And the market in general was neat.  Oh and don't quote me on this, but they have 100s or more varieties of potatoes in Peru.  It's based on how it's grown and at what altitude.  Every terrace grows a different potato, so potato is the most tradable commodity there.

They recycle everything. They make sandals out of car tires.

I think they use some parts of the car to tie their animals. But market was a neat place.  The concept that nothing is wasted if at all possibly was refreshing coming from a 'disposable culture' as I call our system.  I like the idea that these sandals are not brand names.  They are not even branded by the tires they are made out of.  Their function:  provide protection for your feet while walking.    Makes me realize how superficial we can be here in America.

 Next stop was the circles of Moras. Saw the circles and ruins that were not completely excavated/renovated. And then we head on over to the Moras salt mines.

Here the river flows - 22% salt and they channel it into tables and over time the salt crystals start forming. White salt is for human consumption. Brown salt was for animals.

After salt mines we had lunch. Quinoa was this grain I liked. Had soup with it. Was very good.  OK, don't laugh.  I had quinoa for the first time, in Peru, in 2011.  I've had it several times since but there's something special about eating it there.

And then we reached our hotel in Ollantaytambo. Smaller hotel, but still very cosy. Wifi signal is so low, it's next to impossible to connect from the room.

After freshening up, we visited the ruins of Ollantaytambo.  The climb was steep and difficult.  I was quite out of breath between each table, but it was worth it.  Then on the way back drank some local tea with medicinal properties. It was very good.

Came back to the hotel, chilled. Then headed out to dinner. Soup and chicken/rice. Also I think Salman ordered some chicken pastry. Now, back to the hotel and time to sleep as there is a lot of walking again tomorrow. Did notice the lighting in the room is very poor, but I guess they use the rooms to sleep more than anything else.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cusco, Peru. Walking tour. Day 1.

7:45am. At airport waiting to board flight to Cusco. Water bottle was allowed. Nice to travel without fluid restrictions.

Since this is a journal, I'm skipping, but I guess I'm talking about Lima before we actually boarded our flight.  Breakfast was good. They had papaya juice and the watermelon was so red and sweet. YUMMY. There was a station where they made fresh eggs with the toppings of your choice. So good. Pancake was dried bread with syrup - interesting. Oh and then I realized the hotel had free wifi - yay to that! :)

And here I am at the airport writing in my actual journal and waiting to board our flight from Lima to Cusco.  The next set of pictures were from that flight trip.

Note: Salman mentioned air smelled like the cross between an ocean and a butcher shop. When I walked out of the hotel, I realized he could not have been more accurate.

I have to say the view from the plane is great but what can you do?  You can't really get amazing shots through 2 panes of the airplane window and the wing of the flight.  You get to see the mountains though.

I don't know when this was taken but must be closer to landing into Cusco.  You can see parts of the city here.

This picture to the left is my favorite from up above, because if you look closely, you'll see the terracing on the mountains.  On our trip we saw a lot of terracing.  That's just how the agriculture works down at Cusco and Machu Picchu.


Views from Lima to Cusco were very pretty. This picture on the left was from the car ride to the hotel.  Hotel is up a very narrow street. Got my first taste of coca tea. What does Coca tea taste like? Hmmm. Salman thinks its a cross between soy rice and something that is delicately sweet. I don't know. Tastes interesting though. Boris picked us up from the airport and went ove
r our plan for the next few days. It's going to be fun and I'm sooo looking forward to it. Glad we added an extra day at Pisac.

CUSCO CITY TOUR - starting at 3pm

After nap, we had light lunch, chicken soup and Boris took us for a walking tour. The streets are cobblestone, very eclectic and narrow. And the buildings on either side are neat - The walls and the ways the huge stone blocks come together. Apparently, the stones were ground down with stones, sandpaper and water to make perfect butt joints.

We visited 2 churches. The first one was clearly demarcated with the break in the Inca culture and the Spanish colonization. Very nice open ground between the walls.  See the picture below.

The second church was quite extravagant. I think Boris said cedar wood was carved and then plaster added to it and smoothed down. And then gold leaves were added and entire arches were gold. Very extravagant. Couldn't get pictures as it wasn't allowed. Boris has an accent and some of it is hard to understand, but it's not bad.

He showed us where to eat tonight and we had pizza. I normally don't care for pizza but this was amazing and really good. Soup was alright. Had fresh fruit juice. That was nice. Salman ordered inca cola and I tried some. It was good too. Next time, I'll order it instead. The internet connection here is VERY SLOW. I was lucky to logon this afternoon. I don't wish to logon just now as I'm journaling. Tomorrow, we're off to the Sacred Valley - day 1 is over.

My trip to Machu Picchu, Peru in May 2011. Getting there.

Dear friends, 
As I'd mentioned earlier, I am trying to consolidate all my blogs from other sites.  Well, in May of 2011, I took a trip to Peru.
The goal really was Machu Picchu, but of course, I got to see more of Peru also.  And so glad I did.  The company I travelled with is called Adventure Life and during my travels, I kept a journal.  After I returned, Adventure Life was having a contest for their travelers; if we posted about our travels on their website they would pick the best one and the prize would be a weeks trip.  So I transcribed my journal into electronic print on their site.  Well, I did not win anything.  But I have a recorded priceless memory of my trip there - in electronic formal :-).  Now that I have this blog, I thought, hmmm.  I should transfer my stories over.  So, here we are.  It's all a direct quote from the original from 2011 (with a few edits).
Have fun,

At St. Louis airport, in flight. Bags checked to Lima at my request. The gal at the counter asked to check to Cusco, but decided against it as I needed my luggage at Lima. Next stop-Miami!

In flight to Miami was interesting. Sat next to an older woman. Can't make sure if she was just pessimistic about life or just careful. She told me about deaths related to travel disease. Also told me that Tuberculosis may be on the rise again! GREAT! All this because I told her I was carrying 2 bottles of water in my checked luggage.  If this trip took place today, the conversation for sure would have been EBOLA!
On a side note, I should have used the pens from my office. This pen is supposed to be new, but the pink one ran out of ink - oh well. So here I am in Miami and I'm supposed to meet up with Salman and no sign of him for 2 hours. No texts/call. Finally I hear from him. His text that he is in Orlando! Great. His flight got diverted by the storm and Obama was there. Myself on the other hand sat and worked on my play. I want to name it Picture Perfect but it's far from They Throw Rocks. I'm journaling on vacation and I'm writing about my play! Hmmm. Maybe I'm 'part' writer. Who knows? Nothing notable to journal about hanging at Miami airport. I guess I'm looking to journal tonight from Lima!

So, flight landed and I don't know what was announced as I don't understand Spanish, but everyone applauded. That was interesting. The woman at immigration was very nice. I liked the 'Welcome to Peru' and hotel was literally across the street. Someone offered this 'senorita' a taxi as I was walking, but the word caught my attention. Never been called senorita before!

I knew I forgot something. Getting out of security you press a button and the lights go red or green. Purely random. Red your bags get X-rayed. My luck the X ray line was long also, but oh well. I can't wait to start my adventure today. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Boys Next Door

If I would have titled this post as "The Boy Next Door, a play by DeSmet Theatre", the non-theatre types would probably skip over it.  Maybe, they'll jump ship now.  OK.  The cat is out of the bag.  This is about a play I saw last night.  And yes, it was at DeSmet High School.  And yes, it was BRILLIANT.  Let's just say, it was one of the best plays I have ever seen in my play watching history of a few years now.

For those of you who are ardent fans of my blog, remember the post "Mine, mine, mine" about how I was a theatre critic and how it didn't work out.  But anyways, the point I'm trying to make is that while I was being a theatre critic, I had watched a play called Jesus Hopped the A Train.  Phenomenal.  Was absolutely mind blowing and really stuck with you for a long time.  The Boy Next Door is one of those plays.  Just tugs and tugs and tugs at your heart strings and there were so many moments where you laughed and then you weren't sure if you should and then there were moments you were so lost and felt so badly for the characters there.  Yes, I am comparing this high school production to one of the best ever professional productions I've ever seen.

In a traditional theatre review, one usually mentions the actors and the director and I don't want to mention anyone in particular for this show.  I don't want someone to go because they know or don't know someone in the cast.  All I'll say is that the acting by ALL was on a professional level and the director really hit a home run with this one.  The characters of Lucien P. Smith, Norman and Arnold will last with you for a long time to come.  There were several moments that stick with you but there was one scene when Lucien P. Smith, walks into the spot light and gives a speech.  It was probably the most haunting moment of the play and of any play I've ever seen.  I want to go back, if it's only to watch that one moment again.  I don't know.  Perhaps I should have stood and held my hand across my heart in reverence, like when one hears the national anthem.  Or I don't know.  That much power deserves something.  Something.  

I think about all the movies I've watched in the past several years and nothing really drop kicks and knock out punches me like some of the plays I've seen.  And The Boys Next Door is one of those plays.  What is this play really about?  It's about four mentally challenged men living in a group apartment.  It's heartwarming to watch how they interact with each other and their social worker Jack and with everyone and life around them.

I know this show runs a couple more times this week.  Watch it, if you get the opportunity.  You will not regret it.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The 'famous' syndrome.

So, what exactly is a syndrome?  I have no idea!  Completely clueless here, but I think it goes something like this.  Well, it's really a story of syndromic thoughts, but stick with me.  We'll figure this out together.
So, a few blogs ago, I wrote a blog post about being a Muslim and suddenly, my blog was getting a lot of hits.  A lot.  Well, for me, it was a lot.  I was excited.  I was thrilled.  I was on cloud nine.  I was going crazy.  My brain was racing at 347 mph.  I don't know how I measured that, but bear with me.  I went to the moon and back and then I thought.  Wow.  I have this amazing blog post.  Wow!  I going to be famous.  I'm going to be invited on TV.  People are going to ask me about being a Muslim and about life in the US.  Who cares if it's really boring?  I'll make it interesting.  I'll make it fun.  I'll make up this story about how hard it is to be a Muslim and how I overcame all of it and yes, my brain was quite fried.
And then I think about this blog and fame.  Will people turn into loyal readers?  And soon, will they start sharing this blog and as I keep racing in my mind back and forth, I come up with another idea for another blog.  Oh boy was I like a raging fire then?  I was ready to go out and purchase a new site and start a new blog.  I was going to be famous.  I thought about being on TV yet again.  People were going to want to interview me.  This is a great idea and "STOP".  I had to hit the brakes hard on my mind.  I couldn't just let my mind go out of control on a thought.  I needed to do research and really plan things out.  And so, I started.  I think it was October 6th, that I tried to contact my first lead.  Fail.  She was too busy to even talk to me.  October 7th, tried again.  She gave me a phone number to call another contact.  I haven't called them yet.  The embers glow but the wild forest fire is well under control.
So, am I going to be famous?  I don't know.  I like to be optimistic.  I suffer from the "famous" syndrome and maybe one day all my blogs are going to be read and studied so someone can understand the workings of TTR.  But for today, I realize yet again the famous adage, "there is no short cut to success."  If I want to be famous, if I want to make it big, I have to put in that big effort and focus.  I have to follow my leads and pursue my dreams.  I may never make it, but the journey would have, for sure, been worth it.
So, with that said, I hope you all have dreams worth pursuing and I hope you go at them with gusto.
Here's to spicing up our lives and making the impossible come true.  Here's to us!


The unexamined life – examined. Growing up in India. I'm not 10 yet!

This is a test.  This is only a test.  In case of a serious enquiry, this message will be much longer.  Haha.  I got this crazy idea.  I wanted to “examine” my life in steps and see how far I’ve gotten and what I’ve done.  Let’s hope I can maintain a sense of humor through it all, but we’ll see.

Age 0 - 2 – Seriously?  I can’t remember.  Must have involved a lot of feeding, sleeping and pooping.  I would estimate that I started babbling at some point and I might have seemed cute.  Maybe?!?  Oh and there’s an old b/w picture of me as a baby, sitting on my uncle’s bed.  Don't have it or I would post.  Mom says the bed got wet while they were capturing the photograph.  Who knows? That would explain why nappies have lost favor?

Age 3 – I’m told I started Kindergarden.   Mom tells me that my teachers at school said I was a “naughty chatterbox.”  Hmmm.  Some things don’t change.

Age 4 – My earliest recollection of a childhood event.  I loved to eat raw potatoes.  Well, my aunt wanted me to stop.  She said I had enough.  But I was a brat.  Enough was never enough.  So, in frustration, she said, FINE.  EAT.  I think my grandmother might have told her to stop giving me those potatoes, but the only thing I can remember is the stomach ache I had later that evening.  Still remember it!  And no, it hasn’t stopped me from eating raw potatoes, although I limit how much.

Age 7 to 8 – My cousin taught me to play chess.  He would lose some of the games to be nice.  Til today, never forgot the gesture.  Also remember my maternal grandfather's (Kaarba) mansion.  My grandmother (I called her Laama) used to make mango pickles and there were giant jars of it everywhere.  I would put my hands right in it and dig out a whole bunch of the salty/sour mushy mangoes that were being flavored in brine before being dried out in the sun.  Ate the dried out mangoes also.  I don't recall getting caught.  Of course, I did this while the boys played animal cricket.

I think this was also around the same time I witnessed the first death in our family.  It was my aunt.  She was my mom's youngest sister and anyways, she fell off the scooter in India.  There was something about an internal hemorrhage in her brain.  Something about being inoperable.  Death from a child's perspective is very different, I feel.  I remember my aunt's body being laid out in the main living room area of Karba's mansion.  I remember the 2 giant blocks of ice set on a canvas sack on either side of the body.  I remember my other aunt crying her eyes out.  For me, I don't think I ever had a super strong bond with my aunt other than knowing that she was my aunt, so her death was just that.  Someone in our family died.  Today, I look back and it hits me.  I guess, a child just doesn't appreciate some things?  Or maybe I couldn't process it?  I don't know.  I think about my other aunt who was so distraught.  It was her cousin who had passed away.  I do not want to know what that feels like.  For me today, if God forbid, I lost a cousin, that would be the most miserable feeling ever.

Age 6-10 – No particular order.  Can't recall exactly how old I was with each memory, but that's the rough age range.  Old memories from my school days at Sacred Heart Matriculation school, Church Park, in Madras, India.  Memories of playing Koko.  I think even today, I look back at playing the sport.  I feel kids in the US are missing out on a childhood.  It was the funnest thing to play.  Even today, I would still pick playing Koko over any other form of sport or entertainment.  My school memories get fuzzy.  I remember when we were excused from school for religious holidays.  Those would be the best.  Half day of school and we were done.

Tradition for birthdays involved buying a box of chocolates and distributing it to the kids in the class.  You felt so special because the kids had to be nice to you so they got the good pieces of candy or more candy.  Other kid's birthday parties had an excitement that I can't explain.  We would get a small card with a cute hat as the picture on top.  On the inside would be handwritten over the printed lines of time and place for the party.  To get a card meant you had friends and you were not a loner.  I don't think I ever had a party for my own birthday.  I don't recall.  Although now that I think about it, my birthday was in the summer.  We were off school.  I really don't know.  Or maybe I was so awkward I did not have too many friends.

Childhood memories slip from one to another.  I still remember there was a little girl at school wearing a brace on her leg like Forest Gump had.  No one really played with her.  I told my friends that we should go and see if she needed help.  I don't know why.  I guess as a kid, you don't know what to do, or how to talk to other children with handicaps.  Or you automatically assume they need help.  Anyways, she was insulted and said she didn't need any help.  I guess looking back, I don't think I had any malicious intentions.  Kids are not cruel.  They are just curious.

I still remember my best friend Jamuna Nair’s birthday party.  I remember her dress.  Bright yellow with a patchwork of cherries on it.  I remember she had really pretty clothes in her closet.  I had parents in Dubai and an uncle in the US but I felt like I didn't have as many pretty clothes.  Or so I thought at that age.  There was a game at the party that involved a bowl of water, I think.

Switching thoughts again.  We had school diaries.  Basically it was a diary that the teacher wrote in every day for us to take home.  The first few pages were reserved for that.  So, the teacher would write the date and write some notes, like "did not pay attention in class" or something.  Or maybe it had to do with grades.  My brother and I had a fabulous idea of stroking clear candle wax on the pages, so the teachers could not use their fountain pens.  Worked for a bit.  The teachers tried to write on it and the ink would ball up.  And then they grabbed the ball point pen and that was the end of that idea.

I guess the last memory I'm going to stop with is a scary one.  I am still frightened by what might have happened.  I'm still amazed at how stupid kids can be.  And I'm still amazed at how irresponsible adults can be.  One day, I was dropped off at school and I was tardy.  Well, I've been tardy before, but I just joined assembly and then went on to class.  But this time, they didn't let us join assembly and held back all those who were late.  There were a few girls and I can't recall what happened after this but one of the girls suggested we walk to her home as it was close by.  So, I joined with the group and walked to this girl's home.  I don't know why I didn't call my home.  But here I was walking the streets of Madras with a few other school girls and we weren't abducted.  I guess, strength in numbers?  But still.  At that point, my family did not know where I was.  Well, at the girl's house the mom was being very sweet and brought us all cookies and well, she asked me where I wanted to go.  I told her when brother's school lets out and that I wanted to be dropped there.  That's where the person who was assigned to pick us up would be and I would meet up with him and it would be fine.  Well, that's what she did, followed the advise of an 8 year old.  Yes, I met the person who was supposed to pick us up but when he saw me there, his eyes just about popped out of his face.  Of course, he was shocked because he remembered dropping me off at my school, Church Park, not my brothers and as his brain tried to connect the dots, I talked animatedly about how we walked the streets and as I went on and on he just said, "that's fine.  You're here now.  And that's all that matters!"  When I look back, I think of the what ifs.  What if I didn't meet him there and missed him in the crowd?  He would have picked my brother up and gone to my school to look for me and that's when he would have noticed something went wrong.  By then, it might have been too late.  Who knows what my fate would have been?

But what bugs me is that the girl's driver dropped me off at my brother's school and left.  Shouldn't he have checked to make sure this 8 year old was fine?  Make sure that I met who I needed to meet.  Well, that was a long time ago, but I still think about it.   It wasn't frightening then.  Now, when I’m older, I am still in awe.   It's still very creepy and scary to me.  I am still terrified at the “what if.”  I am still angry that the possibility for me to not be alive or be trafficked was so real.  I guess when schools fail and when a kid's brain fails and when adults fail, that’s when you say that God is always watching.

That's the first 10 years of my life in a nutshell.  Well, I'm sure there's more if I think about it.  I wanted to put in little snippets but I think I'm going to stop now, at 10.  Do you really want to read more about me?

Best to you all,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why superheroes rock our virtual reality (VR)

Take me away.
Far far away.
Away from this world
Of drudgery and boredom.
Away from this life
Of bills and adulthood.
To be something more.
To be special.
To be what I can be.
Just take me away.
Far far away.

Unfortunately, when it comes to life, over time, we end up wanting more.  We feel inadequate in our present day situations.  I remember a great line from the movie Pretty Women.  “I know about wanting more.  I invented the concept.”  I guess, wanting more is an age old phenomenon.  Men want more in their roles of a husband, a lover, a Bob the builder.  We all want to dream.  Men, perhaps, want to be strong both physically and emotionally, they want to be rich and powerful, and they want to be superior to the pack.  What do women want?  A man, like I just described.  And what a surprise!  He, that is, the superhero, does not exist.  Ahhh!  But we will have him one way or the other.  Through our imaginations.  And we keep making them better and better and we hone that concept until we find that “perfect” superhero, that’s both superhero and realistic.  We could be that!  Or in case of a woman, we could get that!

So, what is superhero?  Some common traits, are of course powers above what other humans have and hence superiority.  So we have our spidermans and supermans.  Not really rich but can do stuff the average person can’t.  The good guy factor is huge with Superman.  The women who want a guy who will take care of them and pay attention to them and be a good boy scout - well there you have it.  Superman, spiderman, Captain America.  And the men who want to be “special”, just close your eyes and imagine.  You could be that superhero in shining armor for your women, for your brief moments when you slip out of your world.

And then you get into Batman and Ironman.  Loaded.  I mean, with money!  Oh yes, we ladies know how loaded they are.  And there’s nothing more attractive to a lot of women, than money.  I hate to be so blunt about it.  But sometimes, some girls are attracted to guys and overlook things because of money and power.  Wasn’t that Christian Grey guy every woman’s dream or something?  Wasn’t he rich?

Oh I don’t mean to get off topic but Grey apparently was also broken.  I haven’t read the book “50 shades of Grey” but apparently women loved it that he was broken and women love to fix broken men.  I’m stretching here but broken could also imply dark pasts that men are dealing with and women can’t help themselves.  They want to help these poor miserable men cope.  Women want to rescue that man with internal struggles.  And welcome Batman!  Awww.  His parents were killed and it’s so sad.  I want to help him.  And he’s loaded. :-)

And about the broken part or the dark past, I guess, it’s very essential for the ideal superhero dream.  An ordinary man may think, “I have a dark past.  I’m not perfect.  My life has sucked” just like **insert name of your favorite superhero** and there you have it.  Batman with his deep dark secrets.  And what makes an agency like S.H.I.E.L.D so fascinating.  Well, characters like Nick Fury, “his secrets have secrets.”  Nick is not a superhero but he’s a character people can identify with.  Being the glue and bringing all the superheroes together.  Every angle of imaginative dream personalities are brought to life by our comic superstars.

Iron Man - loaded.  Ladies here’s another guy for you.  And the funny thing with Iron Man and Batman is that, both men are essentially unattached.  They have their “fling” but it delves into another wish of men.  Have your choice of women and get away with it too!  What about the women?  Well, we already talked about the “loaded” factor.  The next factor, is the “available” factor.  If they are not married, there’s always hope.  So, absolutely gives the VR for us, 5 stars.

And a wish for some of us - the wish to live forever.  Is there a superhero who does that?  Well, of course.  Thor.  He’s part god!  Wow.  Now there’s a superhero someone can sink their teeth into.

Every facet of a superhero is essentially an extension of our own egos, our own desires and wishes.  And as humans we are different and varied and so we have different and varied superheroes, so everyone can enjoy them just the same and everyone can dream and wish upon their star.  Their star superhero.

So, go out there and wish upon your star, or just play your BluRay.

Until next time,


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Facebook “Like” button demystified

I’ve been on Facebook for a while now and there have been changes over the years.  The design keeps changing where the navigation bar is on the top or on the left.  A few years ago, much to my dismay, they dismantled the status message.  And we were left with our walls that we had to post on.  In the past, walls were used for others to post on.  I guess over time, people did not miss the status message anymore.  And then came the “like” button.

In our world of technologically induced immediate needs and wants, Facebook did not wish to be left behind.  And so came the Facebook like button.  I can immediately say, “I like that” in one click of a button and it’s done.  But what do I like about it?  Who cares about that, right?  The one click concept became significant.  And over time, the concept of the “like” button has really turned to dislike.  I feel ripped off when someone clicks a like button and nothing else.   You like what exactly?  You like that I posted it?  You like the post itself?  What does it mean to hit a like?  Perhaps it’s just a nod of approval.  I’ve seen it.  It’s good.  Fine, move on.  Maybe I don’t “like” it, but it’s something I approve of or agree with it.  And all I have is the “like” button.  I’ve heard of people asking for a dislike button, but let’s stick to the “like” button for this blog shall we?

How does one quantify the “like”?  I would say, we need to give it a star rating.  Just hitting a “like” is a 1 star rating.  Yep.  1 star.  It says nothing other than, “I like it.”  And that really opens up a lot of questions.  So, let’s add a like and a comment.  Now, we are talking 3 stars.  You have the like and you’ve explained what you liked about it.  And sometimes, it doesn’t say what you liked about it, but a comment implies your interest was peaked enough to comment.  But yes, only 3 stars.  A like, a comment and a share, is the big one, 5 stars.  It says, you like it, it says why and it furthermore says you really liked it because you were willing to share it on your wall.  Which means, you liked it so much, you are willing to be identified with it.  Well, then you get into things like, just a share.  Hmm.  I would say, anytime there’s a share, it’s above 4 stars.  Several likes, several comments and several shares and you have something awesome there.  Something that’s news worthy perhaps.  But then again, I’m illogical.

What about the tiger mauling the guy in the New Delhi zoo?  It got all that and more.  Was that something news worthy?  Was that something to like?  Hmm.  Do we like to watch humans being attacked like that?  Again, really makes one question the “like” button, but let’s stick to topic.  What does it say of a video such as that, getting so many likes?  Perhaps that’s on the dark news scale.  How well is a particular form of bad news doing?  Let’s compare likes on the good news and the bad news but then you’ll turn an anecdotal blog to philosophical discussion of how our society is more attracted to the dark side.  The dark side gets more likes, comments and shares.  I find myself slipping into Star Wars here and so I must end this post before we go too far.  May this blog be with you.  *like*comment*share*repeat. :-)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I am Muslim. There I said it!

This is really a difficult topic for me to write about because deep down this is not about religion or faith.  It's truly about humanity and about being human.  I'm not the best writer in the world.  Not even close, but I will do my best to help you walk a mile in my shoes.
This blog started when I went out to lunch with a friend.  Nothing special really.  McAllister's deli, a giant big spud and conversation.  We talked about our lives and since I love to talk about myself we talked a lot about my crazy life.  My adventure through becoming an actress and now a director.  We talked about how busy I was and didn't have time.  We talked about acting and culture and the topic just slipped into the topic of being a Muslim.  And then we talked about how people hate us when they find out that we are Muslim.  We talked about the denuded image of Muslims and Islam in this country.  We talked about the Boston Marathon bombing.  This is really what prompted this post.  It was eye opening to me when my friend and I were saying the exact same thing to each other.  I said, "you know with the Boston Marathon thing, when I found out..."  She and I finished the statement with, "My only wish was that the bomber was not Muslim."  And we looked at each other and I don't know about her, but a realization swept over me.  We both cared about one thing and only one thing - we hoped the aggressor was not Muslim.  We could have cared less about how many people died or who got injured.  We cared about the religion of the bomber.  We could not afford yet another hit to our religion and the way people perceived us.
When did I get so cynical and stop caring about all the people who died and are suffering?  I think it happened when I keep seeing the media portray my religion in a negative light and I take it personally.  I'm sorry.  I'm Muslim.  I'm not a terrorist.  A true Muslim cannot be a terrorist.  Why is the media tagging my religion with terrorism.  When someone fires a gun in an elementary school, they have a mental condition.  What?  Are they not a terrorist.  What was their religion?  How is it that religion is not tagged there?  I guarantee you if that person was of Islamic background or faith, the media would have tied religion to it.  And who would have taken a hit.  Me, my friend and all the 99.9% of the Muslims who are peaceful and just living a normal life like anyone else.
I've heard people claim that President Obama was a Muslim.  Whooptidoo.  I mean, seriously?  I personally don't think he is a Muslim, but my question would be, so what if he were?
I know every religion has blood on its hands.  But why is Islam incriminated now?  Why are people so ignorant and believe the ignorant who claim they are murdering because of religion?  What makes you better than them, then?  They misunderstand and kill.  You misunderstand and make millions of people hate.  What does it mean to be human?  To have fears, doubts, happiness, excitement, love, wonder, jealousy, pride, passion, and the million other complex emotions that make us, us.  And all religions help us be better "humans".  To get past our judgments and to respect one another.  After all, I'm just another human being, like you.  And I am Muslim.  What do I want in life?  What you or anyone else wants.  To live a fulfilling life and to be happy.  To not harm others.  To be kind and helpful.  To want a peaceful world.  Yes, this Muslim wants a world of peace.  Go digest that!
I'm tired.  I'm tired of the cynicism.  I'm tired of having to go to lunch and talk about distrust and hate.  I'm tired of the shock when people realize that they just liked me as a person and the person they liked is a Muslim.  I'm tired of myself backing into a corner and not being able to breathe and not being able to care because I'm too busy defending myself and my religion.  I'm tired of ignorance.  And I'm of the fear and hate.  How about give us a break and let us blossom to show you that the path of righteousness is not the path of slaughter or murder.  Let us show you that we are not aliens and we are not the enemy either.  We are Muslim.
I had to get that off my chest.  Thanks for reading.