Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Queues in Britain

During my recent overseas travel, I was stranded at Heathrow airport in London, twice. While we both, Americans and British, share the same language, I learned that we somehow have a different set of habits.

If you have a question or a problem in America, the customer service person will work with you until they resolve the issue. This is true whether at the airport, mall, or over the phone with a company rep. In Britain, the customer service person will engage in what seems to be a common practice of flow control. This basically involves hearing your question then dumbing to another agent or rep. The trick is that in order to talk to the other person, you will have to get in a queue; this is what the Brits call a line. In most cases than not, by the time you get to the agent, he or she will tell you that you did not need to be in that queue and that you actually have to stand in another one. And this goes on and on until you get lucky at some point and catch the correct customer service person or agent.

Here are a few observations that I made.

- British people are so used to forming lines and do not seem to mind it. Actually, most of them, automatically line up in queues as soon as they face a problem. I admire their sense of order.

- You should have seen us Americans at the airport. We were just complaining about this inefficient process. And while saving each other's place in the line, we would send one of us to cut the line and ask the agent at the end of the line if this was the right queue to be in. We got no sympathy from the agent nor the people in queue (obviously).

- As strange as it sounds, this system worked in dispersing large crowds of angry travelers into small queues where they had all the time to think about a million other thing and somehow calm down. The repeated process of dumping people from one line to another eventually tames people and suck all the energy out of them. It also lowers their expectation to the point where any answer from an airport or airline agent would be satisfactory. Just get me out of the queues! I had enough of those hours-long queues.

Dear Neighbor Chronicles: The Parking Edition

Dear Neighbor:
Please learn how to park; here's the number for the friendly, local driving school.
-Your Neighbor

Dear Neighbor:
I just wanted to let you know that the white lines in the parking lot are not merely suggestions for where to put your car, though your parking job might indicate you think otherwise.
-Your Neighbor

Dear Neighbor:
How is it that the driver of the Yukon manages to only use one parking spot, while your Yaris takes up two?
-Your Neighbor

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A tale of Ajdaabh and Affad

Recently my room mate got a kitten. His wife will soon- God Willing- be arriving from Canada (part of the reason why I need new housing, and can be a whole other "whats up with that!?" story) so he decided to get a kitten. The kitten, Ajdaabh, was a runt at five weeks compared to his litter mates.

This kitten is the cutest thing in world. Man it just had this way to melt your heart. It also has proven that it lives up to its name- which in Arabic means stupid. Besides the usual, he has this peculiar habit of eating food out of my plate, climbing up my leg as I was the dishes, not letting me shower or use the bathroom in peace, chasing after everything that might move, poking its head into everything, still afraid of mirrors and it goes on. These I guess are normal kitty things. However, I think Ajdaabh hates me.

In the initial two weeks Ajdaabh has managed to pee all over my clean laundry, my sleeping bag (I refuse to sleep in a bed since I live such a nomadic life), my favorite pair of Adidas sneakers and God knows where else I will discover his pee.

When I told my room mate, we both tried to create theories to explain why, Ajdaabh would possibly pee on my stuff an not on his and still use the litter box regularly. Being Muslim we gave him many many benifits of the doubt. However, deep in my heart, I still held on to the idea that Ajdaabh hated me.

WELL GUESS WHAT FOLKS!? It has been confirmed. The darn cat hates me. My room mate asked the pet store expert and she said that Kittens do that to people they don't like. Whats up with that?

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Pakistani joke was lame

I find the comedy of Conan O'Brein quite amusing, but his timing, wit, and punctuality really gives him a unique trade mark as a comedian...and it makes me literally laugh out loud.

My fellow Sri Lankan CAIR colleague Nabeel Jawahir posted this on facebook and I found it quite entertaining. Not just because of its comedic value...but it is very interesting to see the type of stereotypes which follow every human being on the planet earth.

To understand what I'm saying, Conan did a bit where he showed fake Euro coins. One of those coins made fun of the Ukraine, which provoked a lot of angry letters. Here's the interesting part: those letters were from the Ukraine. Conan had no idea that Late Night was aired in the Ukraine, and began to wonder where else he was on. You would think he could just ask NBC, but they won't tell him, because then they'd have to pay him more.

There is just one way to find out, and that is to viciously insult every nation in the world, and see which ones he gets letters from. So he basically made a stereotypical joke about every single country in the world.

I was sad to see that Sri Lanka didn't make the list - there is so much material on that island. But worst of all....the Pakistan joke was pretty pathetic. There are a lot things you could say about Pakistan, which will make Pakistanis laugh out loud.

The Middle East jokes were a bit redundant too. I guess the bottom line is, we're not promoting our own stereotypes enough for Conan and his team of writers to notice!

Here they are:

The bad news is, there's a new article about everyone farming opium.
The good news is, you can't read.

The perfect getaway for people who love Kosovo, but hate the working phone service.

It took you eight years to beat France.

Hey, call me when your life expectancy catches up with your inflation rate.

Believe it or not, you can use oil for more than just killing seals.

The Bahamas
It takes a lot of rum to forget your major export is crawfish.

A thriving centre of trade and culture... until 2000 BC!

If you can hear this, your television isn't underwater. Congratulations!

There simply isn't a more beautiful island... to sail by on your way to Jamaica.

Clay, sand, and chalk: Your richest natural resources are what a toddler throws up after a big day at preschool.

The only European country to never successfully invade Belgium.

Get your camera; they're paving a road!

Keep practicing those voodoo spells and maybe someday you'll be as rich as Rwanda.

So they took away your freedom of the press? Who needs it when your only headline is "Bhutan Continues to Suck?"

Remember kids, you must be at least nine years old to overthrow the government.

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Nothing spells a bright future like signing your peace accord in Dayton, Ohio.

Diamonds are forever; too bad your people check out at 35.

If there was ever an argument for the death penalty, it's chicken smuggling.

So what if you misplaced a little weapons-grade uranium? The important thing is keeping track of all those hand-made doileys and goat hair rugs.

Burkina Faso
In the traditional tribal language, that's Burkina for "land of" and Faso for "people who want to get the hell out of Burkina Faso."

The bad news is, you've got rampant malaria. The good news is, it doesn't stop the kids from making those shirts.

All that coffee in a country with no reason to wake up.

Not to be mistaken with the macaroon, a small, chewy cookie... with a longer life expectancy!

With massive overpopulation threatening the globe, Canadians maintain a population of less than 35 million. How do they do it?

Cape Verde
Millions visit your island nation... to refuel their planes!

Central African Republic
So bad, the gorillas learn sign language for "Poach me."

Good news: Ustad Ali Khan is headlining the Locust Plague Festival.

The good news is, it's finally legal to get a divorce. The bad news is, who gets the active volcano and who gets the 55,000 square miles of lifeless desert?

If you're gonna be in prison, it might as well be for no reason.

You'll come for the enticing beauty of the Caribbean Sea. You'll stay because you've been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a Dodge Dart.

On a list of the world's purchasing power, you're ranked 222. Did I mention there are only 190 countries?

Democratic Republic of Congo
Where even a poor boy with no prospects can grow up to be run over by a presidential motorcade.

Republic of Congo
Without you, who would the elephants trample?

Costa Rica
Thanks for giving us a place to dump our potheads.

Cote D'Ivoire
Cocoa, sugar, and mass killings. Are you a country or a Willy Wonka nightmare?

Congratulations on your candidacy for the European Union. Imagine, if that comes through, it could employ two, maybe three people.

Where "high-tech" means you've got a radio on your homemade raft.

Where the Mediterranean climate makes it a joy to spend each day mining asbestos.

Czech Republic
The country that explains why Kafka never wrote a happy story.

Too bad you can't build a warm, sunny day out of Legos.

Imagine how great life would be if you had the rich natural resources of Ethiopia.

Where the national catchphrase is "I'm sorry, officer, I didn't mean to interrupt your armed robbery."

Dominican Republic
The perfect place for anyone who's ever asked themself "Where'd my car go?"

East Timor
It takes a lot to admit you live on the bad side of Timor.

Street crime is on the rise, so keep your ransom note in an inside pocket.

Where priceless ancient statues and mummies are so close, you can fly to London and see them at the British Museum.

El Salvador
Where no resumé is complete without the phrase "Supervised six-person death squad."

Equatorial Guinea
Congratulations, you just discovered vast oil reserves... I mean, we just discovered vast oil reserves. *evil laugh*

You only have one TV station, but cheer up - it's got locust reports on the eights!

Home of the European flying squirrel, the only Estonian mammal that's not an alcoholic.

I can't do this one, let's move on.

If you're visiting Fiji, you have to go snorkeling, 'cause it's the best way to flee cannibals.

We're so dumb, we can't wait to be insulted to send a meaningless postcard with a tire on the front.

You've had over 5,000 years of culture, and the world's most famous Finn is still Huckleberry.

You gave us the term "deja vu," as in "Wow, I have this weird feeling you've been obnoxious and arrogant before. Deja vu!"

(Wait a miniute, this is France, so I think I can't do just one.)

Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Gauguin, Manet: You're number one when it comes to great minds that died of syphilis.

You have to question a country that grants five terms to a man called "President Bongo."

The Gambia
The only nation brave enough to say "Let those offshore oil reserves wait. We've got a good thing going with these peanuts and palm kernels."

Where Europe meets Asia and says "Hey, why don't we both dump our crap here?"

The great 20th-century power that said, "Ditch Einstein, get Hasselhoff."

The 'h' is silent, like a room full of people after you ask "What's worthwhile about Ghana?"

Big news: Historians now think the first marathon took place in August 490 BC, not September. That means nothing good has come out of Greece for a month longer than previously believed.

When you're at the end of a grueling fifteen-hour day peeling the husks off nutmeg, remember this: without you, the world would have to sprinkle its eggnog with cinnamon.

Where the Mayans invented the zero, as in "What are the chances this shirt was made by someone over the age of eight? Zero!"

Even guinea pigs have the good sense to claim they're actually from Peru.

The only book that mentions it is The Audubon Guide to Locusts.

The Eskimos have sixty words for "snow." The Guyanans have eighty words for "dysentery."

You just celebrated two hundred years of independence. Congratulations. Now make a wish and blow out your burning pile of tires.

Sure, your next-door neighbour Austria was home to Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Schubert, and Freud, but don't forget, you make pretty good stuffed cabbage.

I'm amazed you don't have a military. How do you protect your 85,000 square miles of uninhabitable land?

A nation so richly diverse, you can walk into a single neighborhood and find cholera, dengue fever, malaria, typhoid, and plague.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of your first democratic election, in which apparently, everyone voted to never have another democratic election.

Just two more years 'til you have a nuclear warhead, and two years and a day 'til you use it on a woman holding a beer.

You know, there's a wonderful old Irish legend that goes something like this: Once upon a time, many years ago, there was an Irishman who could hold down a job.

Hey, remember when life in Israel was vibrant and carefree? Man, that was the day.

Of course you've got an astronomical murder rate. You've had "No Woman No Cry" on repeat for 25 years.

Last century, you brutally defeated China and Russia. This century, you make Hello Kitty toasters.

Thanks to your country's progress in human rights, now your citizens can choose which hand you cut off.

It's a beautiful place to grow old, assuming you're one of the 2.3% of Kenyans who live to 65.

South Korea
Your biggest natural resource is coal, which gives dog a nice, smokey flavour.

If your country could afford vowels, you could spell "this place sucks."

You'll come for the early Asian ruins. You'll stay 'cause you've been stricken with avian bird flu.

Your leading industries are textiles, heavy machinery production, and trading your daughters for second-hand American blue jeans.

Are you bummed out 'cause your country has only 120 miles of paved road? Well, cheer up! Your 41-year life expectancy should give you plenty of time to see all of it.

Come visit our country, but make sure you also have an afternoon activity.

Just like Florida, except without the electricity, phones, drinkable water, or protection from roaming death squads.

Where the police cane you first, then ask for a bribe.

You'll come for the tropical climate. You'll stay 'cause you've been eaten by tiger sharks.

What's that noise? People arguing in tribal languages over the last pile of ground nuts!

Marshall Islands
To write a joke about your country, we Googled it. No results were found.

Look, there's an honest policeman! No, wait, they got him.

Where Eurotrash goes to gamble away their facelift money.

Where Chinese freedom meets Siberian comfort.

The good news is, you only have the fourteenth highest death rate in the world.
The bad news is, you border numbers one, three, four, and seven.

Remember when your government was almost toppled by a pair of cigarette-smoking twelve-year-old twins who you thought were immortal? Man, you sure have come a long way since 2001.

Home to eight of the world's highest peaks; nine if you count your unemployment rate.

The Netherlands
Congratulations, you've turned 500 years of culture into a pot joke.

New Caledonia
Still a world leader in beach erosion.

Come learn about the heritage of your nanny.

Where children come first... in the draft.

Sweden has Ikea, Finland has Nokia... Hey Norway, what do you have? Nothing-kia!

As in "Oh man, I can't believe you cut my hand off for stealing an orange!"

Guess what? You're not worth jack-istan!

How do you enter Palau? Arrive in a national airport.
How do you leave Palau? Through a shark's colon.

Mi casa es su landfill.

We'd write an insult about Poland, but they'd just send themselves the hate mail.

Come see our museum of the Middle Ages. We call it "Romania."

The perfect marriage of rampant corruption and tacky track suits.

St. Kitts and Nevis
You know, after you get through the shrinking population and the low birth rate, there's almost no one left to die during hurricane season.

Kind of like Fiji, but without all the reasons to go there.

Saudi Arabia
You'll come for the history, you'll stay because they arrested your wife for accidentally showing her ankles.

You tried ethnic cleansing; how about cleaning your armpits?

Sierra Leone
You fought for the British in World War I, now you're fighting for your first working toilet.

In 1993, Czechoslovakia was split into two seperate parts: Slovakia, and the good part.

Plagued by decades of civil war. Come on, guys, there's plenty of rubble for everyone!

Five hundred years ago, you were a global superpower, and now you're not. Hmm, that's strange. Oh well, time for another four-hour nap!

Your contributions to the world: crappy furniture and Stockholm Syndrome.

We haven't bombed you yet. Still, I'd hold off on any major construction projects.

Congratulations, you're where Uzbekistanis go to feel better about themselves.

Trinidad & Tobago
The Siegfried & Roy of the Lesser Antilles.

You've got it all... and by "it all," I mean risk of both bacterial and protozoal diarrhea.

Formerly the Ottoman Empire, whose greatest achievement was inventing a piece of furniture to rest your feet on.

Why don't more people give their children Turkmen names? I don't know, let's ask President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov.

Turks & Caicos
Where the national library is housed under the reception desk of a Sandals Resort.

Remember that scene in Star Wars when they're on that desert planet and they go into that bar with all those weird creatures? Guess what, that was filmed in Tunisia, and those weren't actors!

Situated right between Rwanda and the Sudan. Jealous?

You've got a novel way to fight corruption: you don't have anything worth stealing!

United Kingdom
The sun never sets on the United Kingdom, and it never rose on British dentistry.

United Arab Emirates
You're remarkably tolerant on women's rights: you let them drive a car to their stoning.

You have more than a hundred local languages; in other words, over a hundred ways to say "Hey, remember when Survivor was here?"

Come and reunite your sneakers with the eight-year-olds who made them.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Opening the Quran, SubhanAllah! What's up with that :)

Many times in my life when things have seemed difficult and troubles are plentiful Allah has shown me His mercy, love and care. This past weekend our family has had to deal with two different difficulties, both of which have to do with our in-laws. The relationships are strong and healthy but circumstances have presented us with several challenges. After salat I made duaa' for help, support and guidance in general and specifically for relief, sustenance, righteous spouses for our children, relief for a dying family member and comfort and guidance for his family. Then I open the Quran at random (as I love to do) and what do I see? Surah An-Nahl, ayat 66-75 and Allah's beautiful words about sustenance, death, spouses and guidance! Subhan Allah!! Just what I needed.
What's up with that? :)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

It is a interesting read, but I got this forwarded to me, but honestly what is up with Sisters and mirrors...?

Here's the deal... I need to see if my scarf covers all of my hair, and that it comes down far enough to cover that which should be covered. I need to be able to see if my hijab isn't really hijab... you know a little curve may be showing here or there, but I can't see because.... I need more mirrors! I need to be able to identify areas that need improvement without having to hear one word that this is what is wrong. You see mirrors don't talk back, but they show what's apparent without words, the good and the bad. I need to know that some things are actually in place and that I am not a total mess...

I need...

I need..

I need...

Seriously!!! I need more mirrors.

Maybe my approach is wrong, maybe I shouldn't be looking for more mirrors but looking at the mirrors that are available to me. Alhumdulillah I get to look in mirrors some Tuesdays and Thursdays, and most Fridays, but my look into them are so brief. Sometimes when I am at the store I get a glimpse into a mirror. Alhumdulillah for the glimpse. I don't think anyone can ever have too many mirrors, but thats just me. When I do get the opportunity to look into mirrors though... MashaAllah I see things that are sooooo beautiful! I see beautiful application of hijab... I see self respect and self assurance. I see a thirst for knowledge and a willingness to share the knowledge already held. I see a sister who cares about her family and the community, and actively works toward helping others. I mean just.... MashaAllah!

Hehehe... at the point you are probably saying this sister needs to stop looking into mirrors because she may get full of herself ^_^ I would be inclined to agree with this observation, but I am not talking about myself. I am not talking about mirrors that can be bought in a store. The mirrors I am talking about are my fellow sisters in Islam. MashaAllah, every time I am able to be in a gathering with them, I learn something that I can improve on without anyone ever saying a word that this is a flaw in myself. They are such an inspiration to me.

Maybe we all need more mirrors, or maybe we just need to look into the ones available to us. How often do we look into our "mirrors", but don't really look? InhaAllah by appreciating the mirrors I have available to me, will open doors that give me access to more mirrors ^_^. Cause I need to look into more mirrors.

Monday, July 2, 2007

NOC vs. SOC - what's up with that?

OK, being the hungry, picky pregnant woman, I needed a cold nutritious drink the other day and fast and I didn't have the ingredients at home - what better drink than a smoothie right?

There are no decent smoothie places in North Orange County! Closest thing that they sell in NOC is one of those fruit juice concentrates with ice, with the occasional REAL banana in North Orange County (NOC). But if you live in say Irvine which is South Orange County, the way Asma does, you can get a smoothie with ALL the REAL ingredients. There are many smoothie chains in NOC to choose from.

NOC residents are also deprived of other establishments such as Coffee Bean (of course Starbucks is already everywhere), or Trader Joe's. Not to mention nice places to eat like one of my favorites Cheesecake Factory. You either have to go to SOC to go to these places or - God forbid - drive towards LA!

Why are we NOCs being discriminated against? Don't we deserve nice things too? Don't we desersve fresh strawberries, mango, barries like SOCs? We NOCs were here first. Without NOCs, SOC would not have been established.

What's up with that?