America, Black and White, life, life lessons, random

My clothes, my chicken. Your opinions, I don’t care.

I’ve been visiting the gym regularly this year. I realized that it was a necessary evil I had to comply with if I wanted to lose that extra butt I’ve been carrying around. I could easily run for Most Unhealthiest Person in Gym award and win since most of the people I see there are hard core, weight lifting, protein shake drinking, cross fitting guys and gals. In the past few months that I’ve been there, I’ve seen more armpits than I’d like to accept. I’ve seen abs and six packs and calves of steel. None of them are mine, btw.

So, I go to the gym 2-3 times a week after I drop off this man who stays in my house (he says he’s my husband but idk). After an hour of cardio and struggling around with minimal weights, I go grocery shopping ’cause after all that exercise your girl’s gotta eat. I’m very iffy about the kind of poultry I purchase. Good poultry is available in this Pakistani/Indian/Arab/Confused grocery store a few miles from the gym. Some weeks I go there directly after working out and other weeks I drop by while running errands.

There’s a sweet old Pakistani/Indian/Arab/Confused Uncle who works there. I’ve been frequenting the same shop for a few years now so he recognizes me. Every time he sees me he gives a toothy smile and says, “Salam Alaikum! Kya haal hain?!”

Now firstly, I can’t speak Urdu and I know only conversational Hindi. Yet for some reason 99% of the people I’ve met assume that I can actually SPEAK these languages, because as a Muslim it is blasphemy if I don’t speak urdu. They then proceed to have long conversations with me. However, while I can understand what’s being said, I cannot reply back. So when Confused Uncle asks Kya haal hain, I give my best smile and say “Teek hain!!!” He then returns to stacking the shelves apparently satisfied with my answer.

Now, every time we’ve had this interaction I’ve been dressed more or less like this.

 

hijab final

 

A button down, skinny jeans and whichever scarf is clean. This is my uniform, my normcore. In the above picture I’m wearing my favorite button down with donut prints (H&M men’s section, you’re welcome). I most probably haven’t showered and from the look on my face I’ve only had one quota of caffeine. While I applaud my sartorial choices, I’m not too thrilled to go grocery shopping at 11 am when I could sit at home and watch Netflix. Basically, I’m the most anti social person and that’s just me generally. But I always try to put on a smile, even if it is fake, for Confused Uncle ’cause he always enquires about my haal.

The days when I go the shop after gym, I look like this.

 

gym

 

Sweatshirt, leggings, a cap instead of a scarf cause I don’t want to strangle myself and a smile because endorphins. I’m sure most people would find this gym outfit too stuffy but I feel comfortable in it. And some days I look cuter than pictured. I’ve not got weird looks in the gym so far ’cause honestly nobody cares what I wear. They’re all too busy pumping weights and what not. The first day I went grocery shopping, Confused Uncle was manning the meat area. When we made eye contact I automatically smiled and said “Salam Al–

Aapko kya chaahiye“, this cold eyed stranger cut me off.

“Uncleji!”, I wanted to scream. “It’s me! You know me!” But this man with his poker straight face looked right through me like we’ve never exchanged the same conversation ten times before. I was confused initially but then it struck me “Uncleji didn’t recognize me in my gym clothes!”

Oh Uncleji, could my cap and leggings be that big a disguise.

But it wasn’t just that he didn’t recognize me. He treated me like he does every other customer and reserved his sweet side only for scarf wearing, desi Mozlem women. I was and still am so outraged by this. Funnily enough, I’ve never had bad service anywhere because of my scarf. Maybe it’s because I live in liberal state where there are Mozlems aplenty but people have generally been nice to me. I’ve never felt mistreated because of what I wear or don’t wear. But this Uncle is a perfect example of stereotypical desi man mentality of sitting on a 100 feet high horse judging every woman for the choices she makes from their stinky Tower of Male Privilege. Men like him only believe in external “modesty” because they understand modesty to be one dimensional. My cap wearing self is not wild and loose. And just cause I wear a scarf I’m not a goody two shoes. Over the years I have found a sweet spot in the middle of these two “extremes” that suit me just fine. Also, why do men get to dictate levels of modesty? It’s so easy for men to tell women to dress modestly (doesn’t matter the level of modesty)  when they get to wear the same two pieces of clothing as every man on the planet. If you have an opinion about women’s modesty you better be a woman yourself. And don’t judge a woman for her choice of clothing unless you’ve actually worn said clothing before.

Since I have a deep fear of confrontation I never said anything to Uncleji about it. But it wasn’t the only time I experienced it. The situation played out the same way every time I wore my gym clothes. Now, I don’t go the store in my civilian clothes ’cause I ain’t got no time for fake enquires about my haal. So, BYE FELICIA.

(I will still purchase poultry from said grocery shop because chicken.)

(Not all Muslims speak Urdu. Your world is shattered, I know. But hey, it was a small, narrow one after all.)

(All images belong to me. Please contact me if you’d like to purchase my artwork.)

 

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America, Food, life, Men, The H, Weekends

Weekend Shenanigans: Steak, sickness and an allergy

I had a terrible Sunday, you guys. I woke up (with great difficulty) to a breakfast of Turkish sausage and eggs. And that’s where the nice part ends. Since I wanted to eat a steak for lunch I thought it would make sense if I exercised a bit before. So I decided very enthusiastically, to go swimming. On the way to the pool my stupid allergies flared up but I pushed it aside and swam anyway. Once my arms were the perfect shade of grey I decided it was time to get out. Note: Was still very excited about the prospect of steak.

We drove to the store to get my Kosher certified Angus beef steak only to find that it was the ONLY MEAT ITEM ON THE SHELF THAT WAS COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. How is that even possible? Did the Universe decide that it wants to mess with my cravings? ‘Cause I’ve been wanting this steak for over a week. I even bought organic Yukon Gold potatoes to roast AND I AM NOT AN ORGANIC PERSON.

Depressed and defeated I settled for Kosher Angus beef burgers. I put Jay to work on the new cast iron skillet we bought for the steak WHICH WE NEVER GOT TO EAT.

The beef burgers were good and I roasted the potatoes anyway because.. well, just because.

Note: Allergies decided to party IN MY NOSE and I could only breathe through like, half a nostril.

At this point I realized that I didn’t dry out my wet hair and I felt feverish.

SIDE BAR: I told Jay I am feeling “somewhat”, which is Zarine for sick. And he asked “somewhat as in?”. I said I feel hot and cold at the same time AND HE LOOKED AT ME LIKE I WAS MENTAL. Feeling hot and cold is a legit sickness. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Now added to my 99 problems my left heel decided it wanted to join the shindig and started hurting like a little *beep*.

I didn’t feel like eating the dinner I made (methi bhindi masala) so I roasted two corn(s)? Cobs? Slathered it with Amul butter and salt. I was tired from all this drama so decided to go to bed early. I kept tossing and turning throughout the night. I always sleep on my side but now when I do, I can only breathe through one nostril. So now I sleep on my back, this way I have access to half of each nostril. I was out of Zyrtec so Jay offered to buy me a huge pack in the morning. After he left for work and after I treated myself with a mango to cancel out the crappy Sunday I had, I took one pill. I didn’t know antihistamines were this strong because I literally went through the day in a haze. It is a wonder I didn’t fall asleep over my cooker while making lunch.

I just inhaled one third of a watermelon and am now waiting for 8 PM which is a respectable time to go to bed.

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America, Eating Out, Food, life, Marriage, random, The H, Weekends

Weekend Shenanigans – Part Deux

I’m not big on Hallmark holidays but once I heard that Friday was National Donut Day (yeah, its a thing) I had to get some donut in to my system. We woke up bright and easily on Saturday, excited to try out a local donut shop called Stan’s Donut and it was such a disappointment. I had to erase that memory of the bad donut so Sunday evening we went to a good ol’ donut corporation – Krispy Kreme and I had my favorite original glazed chocolate donut. To further quell my greed I had two more. Go ahead and judge me. It was worth it.

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I have this terrible sickness where if I start watching a tv show or a movie I have to watch it till the end no matter how terrible it is. This past couple of months I painfully sat though Desperate Housewives. It was so exhausting but I HAD to know what happens in the end. Now I am watching the last season of Beverly Hills that I stopped while I was in college with a bit of 30 Rock on the side. I’m itching to watch Orange is The New Black but waiting for my finals to end before I get sucked in to that vortex.

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A couple of nights back in order to save the mutton from getting burnt Jay mutilated my tea vessel to place it inside the pressure cooker. I haven’t had my Lipton tea in two days now and I’m going just the tiniest bit insane. Speaking of tea, Oprah came up with a new tea. Starbucks sells it, so if you want one you have to ask for an “Oprah Chai Tea Latte”. Its a mouthful. N is a huge Oprah fan so I tried the tea for her sake. It tasted like sugar water with ground cloves. Americans have such average taste buds. They should taste my mother’s ginger tea. It’s so good that she could mass manufacture it.

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Eating Out, Food, life, madras, Travel

A Tale of Three Cities

I just finished making dinner (stir fry from left over rice). I have my steaming cup of lemon grass green tea and I’m listening to Frank Sinatra on loud. I haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks. I just returned from a month long trip back to the mother ship and to the flashy city of Dubai. That’s the first word that comes in to my head when I think Dubai – flashy.

My Madras vacation was amazing but it went by far too quickly it was almost like it never happened. I ate some delicious comfort food, caught up with my extra large family and met my beautiful girls. I did some shopping too although it was very restrictive because of airline rules regarding baggage (annoying!).

Madras was gorgeous, not the same as I left her but that’s a post for another day.

Dubai was flashy. I ate unhealthy amounts of food. Like really unhealthy I’m so ashamed of myself when I think about it now. I did all the usual touristy things there is to do. The one thing that always gets me about Dubai is that while its fancy and modern it has no charm to it. Maybe its just me cause I have really strong “feelings” about certain things and that’s what drives me.

California is as gorgeous as ever. Cold and windy but I love it. I love the nature and the beautiful skies that I get to see here everyday. Every time I look up at the beautiful blue sky it never fails to remind me to send a little note of thanks to Him. I love how the small things around remind me of a greater presence. I’m so thankful I live here, eat good food and have everything I need and more. We don’t need to look too far to search for the blessings in our life. Blessings are all around us.

Now that I’m done with the ‘Thought for the Day’ can we all take a moment to appreciate how friggin’ amazing Frank Sinatra sounds? Every time I listen to his deep voice I get goosebumps! If only singers are as classy now. Take a note, Justin Beibers of the world.

I will be back with more stories. Don’t miss me too much, Interwebz!

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