Friday, December 26, 2008

Let it snow!

Landed in Seattle last night for a quick 2-week trip. Saw snow today for the first time. Ever.

Needless to say, I'm lovin' it!

My cooking (mis)adventure

We're all aware of the fact that cooking isn't exactly a forte of us desi men (most of us anyway). I was no different when I left home for abroad couple of months back as I had to learn the not-so-canny art of cooking the hard way, following recipes written on a piece of paper like an engineer. They tell me it's common sense really, but it's all french to me to be honest. I remember once I added HALDI (Tumeric powder) to mashed potatoes, only to realize later that I was supposed to mix ZEERA (Cumin seeds) instead! Go, as they say here in the US, figure!

Anyway, blunders (although, admittedly a lot less dumb) were the order of the day during the entire semester. I did, however, get much better at it progressively through the course of the semester. A proof of that follows. Below you see a snap of me multi-tasking and preparing spaghetti, bhindi (okra) and beef patties at the same time. A first, I tell you, for a novice like me :P

I would still consider myself a n00b when it comes to cooking. I still cannot make any meat-dish yet. I would love to try out QEEMA (ground beef) and maybe even Chicken Biryani, although I'm told it ain't that easy. Oh well, I guess I'd have to content myself with my "watery" daals, bhindis and bhurtas (mashed potatoes) for now. I know they say practice makes perfect, but I know Razz the Chef wouldn't have lasted a day in this world!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Seven Weird Things About America

The US of A can be a pretty weird place for a desi as far as first impressions go. For those who've been here before, you'll totally know what I'm getting at. The fact is, this place is a another world in it's own and no wonder Americans are generally found wanting when it comes to not-knowing-shit about the rest of the world. Some real weird / uncommon / stupid / strange things I've noticed in the time I've been here so far are listed here. Oh, and for those who may get the impression that this is somehow a lame attempt at poking fun at our goray overlords, let me state it very clearly - it's not! kapish?

1. Confederate flags

I'm in North Carolina, a southern state. You'd think that since the North won the civil war, there'd be more of a support for North or remembrance for what North stood for, right? Heck no! Imagine my surprise when I saw a blue-cross confederate flag on car bumpers, rooftops, outside homes etc. etc. It's crazy! It's amazing that some people still choose to wave that flag, after all that South stood for.

2. They use Fahrenheit

I think this is probably the only place in the world still sticking to a temperature scale that makes no sense. Why use it when the whole freaking world runs on centigrade? A 0-100 scale is intuitive; water freezes at zero, boils at hundred. How much simpler can it get?

3. "Zee"

The alphabet Z is pronounced "Zee" as opposed to "Zed". You would think that's pretty straight-forward and, to be honest, it is ... it's just that I can't tell you how many times I've ended up saying "Zed" out loud when spelling out my name at banks, university, shops etc. only to realize later when I noticed the bewilderment on the face of the person on the opposite side of the counter!

4. Stupid commercials

I thought some of our commercials were bad, but wait till you see some of the ones they show here. I mean you could tell they didn't cost much to make but concept-wise, they suck. I'll try and find some of them on youtube or something to show you guys.

5. Fans can run in either direction

This is actually kinda cool. There's a button on a ceiling fan which can make the fan run in opposite direction. An awesome thing for a place which gets lots of summer and winter both.

6. Obsession with trucks

Everywhere you see, there are trucks - freaking huge ones at that. Perhaps this obsession is now taking a back seat to smaller, fuel-efficient cars with the rising gas prices, but you could easily spot trucks more often than nought no matter where you are in the US.

7. Difference with UK English Vocabulary

Americans like to be different. They play different sports, use different temperature scales, use different terminologies to address things, drive on the different side of the road (to name a couple of things). Pubs are bars, biscuits are cookies, petrol is gasoline, current accounts are checking accounts, torches are flashlights ... the list is endless!

So, my friends, while it is a great experience to come here and explore their culture, it does take some getting used to due to the radical differences that exist between our cultures. Diversity is another important thing you get to notice over here. When I went to say my Eid prayers, I was standing in line with people from Africa, India, Middle East and of course Pakistan. It felt great especially when I got to view the universal nature of our great religion first hand. Traveling around the world and meeting new people really helps broaden one's horizons and gives you a new perspective about the world and it's ever-so-different people. That is why, I would love to travel to more places across the globe, if I ever get that chance. It also helps develop a new respect and appreciation for your own homeland, cuz there's no place like it, and it really is something we all should treasure for as long as we live.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And they say we are corrupt!

Some of the world's biggest banks have revealed they are victims of an alleged fraud which has lost $50bn (£33bn).
Banks hit worldwide by US 'fraud'

True, corruption is rampant back home at both lower and higher levels but while they have little corruption here at the grassroots level, frequency of reports like the one mentioned above suggests that it is pretty prevalent at the higher level - and not just here but everywhere in the world.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubaraks to all my readers! (Yes, all three of you)

God I miss those ridiculously long eid holidays of home. Going from that to this where I have a final exam on eid day is so not cool! Hope you have a blast though! (and while you are having a blast, spare a thought for poor me sitting in an examination hall on eid of all days!) sigh!