Friday, September 30, 2005

South Asian Parents...

This interesting article in the Christian Science monitor reminded me of South Asian parents. Inferring from the article they are not the only ones who interfere in their kids lives when it comes to major decisions like marriage and the choice of career but I do think there is a likelihood that they do it more than parents of other ethnic origins.

The fact they have so much say in their kid's lives could be for the following reasons:

  • They help their kids with their tuition as much as they can---again I argue that they go out of their way to do this--perhaps much more than parents from other cultures
  • They just care about their kids too much--for example a first year student who came to Waterloo this year had his dad with him for the 1st week just so his dad could make sure that " beta" ( son) was settling down well.
  • Most of my friends who have their parents within a couple of hours from Waterloo send their kids a constant supply of prepared frozen meals
  • etc etc

Given the support that South Asian parents provide it is probably very hard for the kids to refuse what their parents want them to. What might compound this is the fact that sometimes there is a lack of dialogue and openness between the parents and the kids......Meaning that even if the kid disagrees he/she wont say anything....Cause even expressing disagreement would lead to displeasure from their parents!!

I know at least a couple of people who did their 1st degree in some subject their parents wanted them to study and then did a 2nd degree in what really interested them! Of course these people were lucky. Most people would just finish the 1st degree and start a career in something that did not interest them in the 1st place...Leading to a stalled career..??? Maybe? Of course there is always a chance that they gained interest in what they were doing while in school...Or they weren't so sure themselves so they just went along with what their parents told them to do....

Also the article referenced above makes a point that is so true for South Asian Parents:

"Too many of my friends see their children's success as their own, especially if
they've stopped working or scaled down their own career paths to devote more time to family. They can't always separate what is theirs, and what is their
children's. That's a dangerous and unhealthy path."

There is a positive trend specially among Second Generation South Asians who are more open to what their kids do and of course there are always exceptions even with 1st generation parents.....

Well at least I know one thing that I dont want to be doing to my kids....

Thursday, September 29, 2005


"The believer's greatest argument is his face. True religion lights up the face; false religion fills it with insecurity, rage and suspicion. This is perceptible not only to insiders, but to anyone who maintains some connection with the fitra in his heart. The early conversions to Islam often took place among populations that had no access to the language of the Muslims who now lived among them; but they were no less profound in consequence. Religion is ultimately a matter of personal transformation, and no amount of missionary work will persuade people – with the occasional exception of the disturbed and the desperate – unless our own transformation is complete enough to able to transform others. – " Abdul Hakim Murad ( Septermber 25)

Monday, September 26, 2005


" It is only impossible till it is not."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ganda Pani "Dirty Water"

Am interesting newspaper report with articles on the preposterous condition of the Water Supply in Pakistan.

Incidents in Karachi, Multan, Hyderabad, Kalanawala, Islamabad and Lahore prove that the problem is widespread.....

".......Factory waste and uncleaned sewage makes us cover our noses, while in fact it should open our eyes. It continues to get messier and messier with time as water connections and factories and houses multiply. Each story about the quality of water acts as free advertisement for merchants who sell bottled water not only in the cities, but the supposedly less polluted villages as well. Even this neatly packaged answer to our water woes has been known to carry water unfit for human consumption. What is left to say then bar a moralistic sermon on the virtues of being honest? Or is there hope in the measures taken to improve the quality of water in Islamabad and the PRSP's safe water plants in 16 schools in Multan......."
Note that all the incidents in the above mentioned cities were on the scale of the Walkerton tragedy, which led to a revolution in the Canadian/Ontarian legislation governing Water Quality.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Why Yousuf converted

The famous Pakistani Cricketer Yousuf Youhana just announced his conversion to islam last week.

Though this article was posted on Cricinfo I found it less about cricket and more about other factors in the Pakistani Psyche..and how religon plays a part in their lives. It also talks about the Tabhligh movement a bit....and even pirs...

"............Abdul Razzaq's mysterious illness and dizzy spells during last year's Australia tour is an example: apparently he was on a spinach-only diet that a pir (spiritual leader) had advised would make him stronger......"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Verily Allah loves kindness in everything

The Wisdom of Umm Zaid, Mashah allah.

Check out this great article

.................There was an elderly Jewish woman who hated Islam. Every morning, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) walked past her house, she would make sure to dump all of her household waste on his head. He did not react to her provocations. And then one day, he walked past her house and nothing fell on him. He inquired about her, and found she had fallen ill. So he went to her house to visit her. She was taken back that this man whom she had abused and heaped her garbage on was concerned about her health. She realized there’s something special in this Message he was teaching and became Muslim. Walhamdulillah ‘ala ni’matul Islam.

There’s a lot that we can learn from that short story. Patience, for one. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most patient of the patient people. Here he was, having garbage and verbal abuse heaped upon him, and what did he do? Did he make du’a against her, as many of us, in a lesser situation, would do today? No. Did he curse her, or call her four-letter-words, as many of us would do if someone cut us off on the highway? No. He simply bore it. And when she fell ill, did he say, “Serves that kafir right,” as most of us today would? No. He felt concern for her, and went to make sure she was alright. And he went to visit the sick, something most of us no longer do (despite it being a command). And the outcome of this is that a woman recognized the truth of God, and the truth of the Messenger of God, and became part of our Ummah. She is the winner in all of this, insha’Allah...............

Monday, September 19, 2005

No Car!!

So I have parked my car today and officially started my life without a car. Of course I bought my car before the summer since it was a requirement for my job. (Buying it was not easy either , I had to shop around a bit and alhamdulillah thanks to a few friends of mine I found my match!)

It was a Geo Metro hehe

Anyhow now that I am parking it I was going to reflect on life with and without and list the advantages /disadvantages of having driving a car

With a Car

  • The convenience of moving around when and how I want to
  • increased the area ( in Kms) of my social circle
  • The ability to help other people--specially in school- by giving them rides and/or helping them move
  • Increased my independence
  • Fulfilled the requirements of my job

Without a Car

  • Decreasing Greenhouse emissions ( by a tiny amount)
  • Not paying for high gas prices
  • Not paying for high insurance
  • I feel more humble and just like everyone else in University.... In other words good for my heart
  • healthier when I bike and walk
  • I can read books when I am on the bus
  • Wont have the stress of driving on busy highways when they are clogged up

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rebuilding the debate on rebuilding New Orleans

Our Hydrology professor asked us to read the following article from Wasignton Post for class on Friday.

I agree with this writer. From a Hydrological perspective it is infeasible in the long term to rebuild New Orleans as a dry sinking land protected by levees. The city will keep sinking in the absence of Natural Sediment Deposits ( which happen when the land floods). Moreoverwith rising Sea Levels future floods will just be worse --levee or no levee....

Time for a Tough Question: Why Rebuild?

By Klaus Jacob for Washignton Post

Tuesday, September 6, 2005; Page A25

It is time to swim against the tide. The direction of public discourse in the wake of Katrina goes like this: First we save lives and provide some basic assistance to the victims. Then we clean up New Orleans. And then we rebuild the city. Most will rightly agree on the first two. But should we rebuild New Orleans, 10 feet below sea level, just so it can be wiped out again?

Some say we can raise and strengthen the levees to fully protect the city. Here is some unpleasant truth: The higher the defenses, the deeper the floods that will inevitably follow. The current political climate is not conducive to having scientific arguments heard before political decisions are made. But not doing so leads to the kind of chaos we are seeing now.

This is not a natural disaster. It is a social, political, human and -- to a lesser degree -- engineering disaster. To many experts, it is a disaster that was waiting to happen. In fact, Katrina is not even the worst-case scenario. Had the eye of the storm made landfall just west of the city (instead of to the east, as it did) the wind speeds and its associated coastal storm surge would have been higher in New Orleans (and lower in Gulfport, Miss.). The city would have flooded faster, and the loss of life would have been greater.

What scientific facts do we need before making fateful political, social and economic decisions about New Orleans's future? Here are just two:

First, all river deltas tend to subside as fresh sediment (supplied during floods) compacts and is transformed into rock. The Mississippi River delta is no exception. In the early to mid-20th century, the Army Corps of Engineers was charged with protecting New Orleans from recurring natural floods. At the same time, the Corps kept the river (and some related canals) along defined pathways. These well-intended defensive measures prevented the natural transport of fresh sediments into the geologically subsiding areas. The protected land and the growing city sank, some of it to the point that it is now 10 feet below sea level. Over time, some of the defenses were raised and strengthened to keep up with land subsidence and to protect against river floods and storm surges. But the defenses were never designed to safeguard the city against a direct hit by a Category 5 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson scale) or a Category 4 hurricane making landfall just west of the city.

Second, global sea levels have risen less than a foot in the past century, and will rise one to three feet by the end of this century. Yes, there is uncertainty. But there is no doubt in the scientific community that the rise in global sea levels will accelerate.

What does this mean for New Orleans's future? Government officials and academic experts have said for years that in about 100 years, New Orleans may no longer exist. Period.

It is time to face up to some geological realities and start a carefully planned deconstruction of New Orleans, assessing what can or needs to be preserved, or vertically raised and, if affordable, by how much. Some of New Orleans could be transformed into a "floating city" using platforms not unlike the oil platforms offshore, or, over the short term, into a city of boathouses, to allow floods to fill in the 'bowl' with fresh sediment.

If realized, this "American Venice" would still need protection from the worst of storms. Restoration of mangroves and wetlands between the coast and the city would need to be carefully planned and executed. Much engineering talent would have to go into anchoring the floating assets to prevent chaos during storms. As for oil production, refining and transshipment facilities, buffer zones would have to be established to protect them from the direct onslaught of coastal storm surges.

Many ancient coastal cities of great fame have disappeared or are now shells of their former grandeur. Parts of ancient Alexandria suffered from the subsidence of the Nile delta, and earthquakes and tsunamis toppled the city's famed lighthouse, one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World."

It is time that quantitative, science-based risk assessment became a cornerstone of urban and coastal land-use planning to prevent such disasters from happening again. Politicians and others must not make hollow promises for a future, safe New Orleans. Ten feet below sea level and sinking is not safe. It is time to constructively deconstruct, not destructively reconstruct.

The writer, a geophysicist, is an adjunct professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. He teaches and does research on disaster risk management.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


" I am not what I used to be, Neither am I what I wanted to be"

Monday, September 12, 2005

Auntie Uncle

So I learn recently that in Canada: Auntie Uncle only applies to direct siblings/ cousins of your parents. That explains the weird reaction I got from people when I used it here and there for older people....... For example a guy X at my work had a baby and I congratulated him by writing on his congrats card ...

" Now that your a Dad I can call you Uncle( old man) now"....

Someone else (Y) read that and was like are you related to X? I said no...Wondering why "Y" was asking me this....

And so some how this Auntie Uncle topic came up with a friend of mine and he enlightened me with the definition of Auntie Uncle as it used in Canadian Spoken English...I was so embarrassed......!!!

Of course in South Asia...Uncle auntie is used for any family friend etc. etc... who is a bit older....And actually when I was young ( Grade 6/7/8/9) and my older cousins ( Bajees) got married I would bug them by calling them " Auntie"

I just wonder why Auntie uncle is used the way it is in Pakistan....What's the history to the twist that my ancestors put to these words?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sonia Naz

Pakistan is in the headlines for the wrong reasons again. Surprise, surprise the issue is woman related ..... This time it is Sonia Naz. Her husband Asem , a junior clerk in the government excise office was arrested (along with 17 others) in 2004 for forging documents for Stolen cars.

Press reports stated that the police bypassed the law and did not document these arrests." Instead Asem and the other men were detained in illegal custody with the intention of extorting money for their release.

Apparently for months after that the police continuously blackmailed his family asking for bribes ( The amount they demanded continued to increase). The family suffered terribly as a result and Sania having had enough went public about the case in May(it is easier to go public now with the media being more "free").

A few days later she was raped and told to stay quite or face dire consequences. She did stay quite about the rape incident till august 30 when she went to the media with her tragic story. Her Father In law wasn't happy:

" This stupid girl (Sonia) wanted to move courts, media and the National Assembly to seek justice against Abdullah. She used to make tall claims that she would fight against the injustice of the SP. Now, she has been given justice by police," Yousaf said, sarcastically, before breaking down again."

She was thrown out of her house and her sister in-laws wanted her divorced!!!!

More details about this case can seen on The Glasshouse Blog:

The blog also has background, subsequent events ,updates and links to more updates...

This incident summarizes : the corruption of the Police force; the fear that the common person has of the so called law enforcing agencies; the pathetic reaction of a family to a Rape Victim; and the reluctance of higher government officials to take action against the Police.

One Positive I do see out of this all is the role that the media played in this saga..

In the thick of it...

Apparently this is the "in" blog these days....

This guy on the 10th floor of an office building in New Orleans has been blogging away since the Hurricane struck....

He has pictures and even live Cam feeds!!!

Here is how he describes himself:

"For those of you who haven't been reading this, I'm on the 10th/11th floors of a 27 floor high rise at 650 Poydras in downtown New Orleans. If you go to Google Earth or some other map program, we're the big brown building between Poydras ave and Lafayette Square and between Camp Street and St. Charles Ave. We're about 6 blocks from the river. We have a view (in the daytime) of the river, the twin spans over the river, the interstate, the Entergy building, the landmark building, the federal court of appeals building, a bunch of hotels, etc."

Sunday, September 04, 2005


"Love is a branch of knowledge and one of it's consequences. You cannot love one whom you do not know but you can know one whom you do not love. The knowledge that is a consequence of love is indeed knowledge but they term it contemplation "
Imam Abdallah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Muslim teen saves blind man's life

From the Toronto Star
Teen honoured for saving blind man's life

Osman Hersi dismissed his own fears to save the life of a blind man who had fallen to the tracks at the Sheppard subway station and lay unconscious.And yesterday the 17-year-old student was honoured by the TTC for his bravery.Surrounded by family and friends, Hersi told TTC commissioners what happened at 8:25 a.m. on June 8 while on his way to school."When he fell in, I thought to myself, `Get this guy out as quick and as safe as possible,'" Hersi said. "I knew the third rail had electricity, so I tried to avoid that. When I jumped in, I lifted up the guy, who was unconscious. I jumped up myself. And a minute or so later, the train came."By then a crowd had gathered on the platform and Toronto Transit Commission officials had called for medical help. Feeling he'd done all he could and that the man was safe, Hersi boarded the train for school."Of course I was scared," Hersi said. "But I thought to myself, `What if that was me?' Do for others what you want to be done for yourself."To thank him for his bravery, the TTC gave Hersi a plaque and a Metropass for September, worth $98.75."It's not very often you get to be a hero at 17 years old," TTC chair Howard Moscoe said. "If we had more people like Osman, this would be truly a wonderful place to live."Your presence of mind to jump to somebody's aid at the risk of yourself is truly an amazing feat."Hersi was joined by his family, including parents and grandparents, as the TTC feted his heroics. "He did a very good thing," said his stepfather, Yusuf Kahin. "He helped someone by putting himself on the line."His mother, Batula Ahmed, was proud of her son but worried that he risked his life. "But he saved a life, that's what's important."
Osman is quoted on the Inside Network:
" I would thank my mom - she was always teaching me to look out for other people, value human life. And that's what I thought to myself"

Alhamdulillah :-)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Naturally Unnatural

As an Environmental Engineering student one of the things that really struck me about the Hurricane Katrina was the failure of levees and the enormity of the flood......

I took a Hydraulics course last term with Dr. Annable, one of the top stream restoration Engineers in North America. His solution to a lot of stream/waterway problems is to restore the streams along with the flood plains in the most natural way possible-which means you dont have concrete lined streams; you allow the streams to flood once in a while rather than have a HUGE flood after many years;you have natural vegetation along the stream shoreline, etc etc......

I found this article by NYT on the Hurricane which agrees with Professor Annable's line of thinking :

'....When most transport was by water, people would of course settle along the Mississippi River, and of course they would build a port city near its mouth. In the 20th century, when oil and gas fields were developed in the gulf, of course people added petrochemical refineries and factories to the river mix, convenient to both drillers and shippers. To protect it all, they built an elaborate system of levees, dams, spillways and other installations.

As one 19th-century traveler put it, according to Ari Kelman, an environmental historian at the University of California, Davis, "New Orleans is surprising evidence of what men will endure, when cheered by the hopes of an ever-flowing tide of dollars and cents."

In the last few decades, more and more people have realized what a terrible bargain the region made when it embraced - unwittingly, perhaps - environmental degradation in exchange for economic gains.

Abby Sallenger, a scientist with the United States Geological Survey who has studied the Louisiana landscape for years, sees the results of this bargain when he makes his regular flights over the Gulf Coast or goes by boat to one of the string of sandy barrier islands that line the state's coast.

The islands are the region's first line of defense against hurricane waves and storm surges. Marshes, which can normally absorb storm water, are its second.

But, starved of sediment, the islands have shrunk significantly in recent decades. And though the rate of the marshes' loss has slowed somewhat, they are still disappearing, "almost changing before your eyes," as Dr. Sallenger put it in a telephone interview from his office in St. Petersburg, Fla. "Grassland turns into open water, ponds turn into lakes."

Without the fine sediment that nourishes marshes and the coarser sediment that feeds eroding barrier islands, "the entire delta region is sinking," he said. In effect, he said, it is suffering a rise in sea level of about a centimeter - about a third of an inch - a year, 10 times the average rate globally................................."

Another relevant article from the BBC website :

".......The levee system meant that the Mississippi, a vast river that drains the whole of the eastern US, was tamed by man.

Without regular river floods to feed the swampy delta with precious silt and nutrients, vast swathes of Louisiana's coastal wetlands have disappeared in the past 75 years.

Sprawling coastal wetlands can bear the brunt of a hurricane better than the concrete passageways of a modern city.

The US Geological Survey calls the wetlands a "natural buffer" in a high-risk area. Plans to stop further erosion have run aground in Congress.

Erosion meant that instead of falling on the delta, Katrina's rains swelled the Mississippi and filled Lake Pontchartrain.............."