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, life, my crazy days

I create my own, personal brand of excitement

Late last year when I visited Madras I was unable to stuff everything I wanted to in my suitcase. Hello, baggage restrictions, I hate you. Added to this, my tailor stitched my clothes in time so I left with a promise from my mother that she would send the remaining items through courier? Post? I don’t know whats the difference, but through one of them.

A few weeks later she messaged me saying she had sent the package. I was to expect it in three days – Monday, and I was super thrilled. Monday, Tuesday… Thursday and my package still had not arrived. I panicked (of course) and tracked my package online only to see that tracking showed that someone named ‘Fred’ had received and signed for it!

Immediately, my mind (I have an over active imagination) went wild. I had visions of Fred- a thirty something, portly, brown haired American wearing my precious salwars prancing around his home, amused at how “exotic” he looked. I was palpitating while I called customer service. A nice lady calmed me down and helped me through the process, promising me that they would “investigate” and retrieve my package. I just prayed that Fred would return my clothes without any arm pit stains on them.

A week went by and I got a message saying there was an issue with the address but I should expect my package soon. Again, I decided to track it online and saw that ‘Vega’ had received and signed for it! Vega that Russian lady with the bad dye job! She had her scrawny fingers around my clothes. I had to call customer service again and tell them that no, I’m not Vega; no, I don’t know anyone called Vega and yes, I’m sure she isn’t my neighbor. Are you 100% sure? I live in an apartment complex where humans barely acknowledge the presence of each other. I’ve seen my neighbor walk the dog a few times and I still don’t know whether she/he is a man or a woman (the neighbor, not the dog), so yes, I am sure they didn’t take my package.

So, after further “investigation” I got my package, three weeks after it was sent.

No, Fred din’t leave any pit stains. He must have used clinical strength deodorant.

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America, Black and White, college, life, life lessons

Stories

My workload for this semester is pretty hectic. A few months back all I used to do was watch terrible TV shows. But now, I do not have time for such things (sob). One of the projects we are doing requires us to interview patients with a terminal or chronic disease. So yesterday at 9 AM I found myself chatting with a fifty year old man – M who has been HIV+ for twenty one years.

We spoke about our project and about different support groups for people with HIV for a good hour. Slowly he started opening up and telling us his story. As he told us his story of how he found out about the infection, how seemingly dark his days seemed, how he came out of that depression, decided to take matters in his hands and help the HIV community, my life and my problems felt so pointless.

He talked a lot about forgiveness and letting go. All I could do was list the times I’ve been hurt and brood on it. He said the more you keep that hurt in your heart, the heavier your journey becomes. If you want to feel light, just say I forgive, wish the person the best and let go.

Next to M, my problems seemed so fickle. I am such a procrastinator. Every time I’m given a task I sit on it for a while before I get to it. I don’t know why I do that but I just do. M said he never leaves anything for the next day, because he never knows if he will get to live it. And then I realized the only difference between M and me is that although we are both going to die eventually, he knows that his time is, possibly, closer than mine. Shouldn’t I live the same way then? I am alive today but I don’t know what my tomorrow brings so why do I keep putting things away? This whole interview might have been for a school project but it made me look deeper in to my life.

I love listening to peoples stories. Because once I hear something as heartbreaking as this, I realize that my story is just a tiny speck in this universe. People go through so much, and most of the things I take for granted are of extreme importance in their lives. This helps me reevaluate mine and see things from a better perspective.

And maybe this passing of knowledge is one of the purposes of life.

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America, awards, life, Uncategorized

Liebster!

Thanks to PrincessButter for nominating me for the Liebster award.

Here are the answers to your questions :

 

1) What is the significance behind your blog name/title?

I wanted to name my blog to represent ‘me’. So cheesy. I love Madras and I miss it every day. So I named my blog Maybe in Madras, because who knows, one day I might move back.

2) What inspired you to start blogging?

I used to stalk a lot of blogs back in the old days. One day I decided okay, I have something to say too. And so it begun.

3) In your list of pictures, how many selfies?

Almost every day I send no less than three selfies to my friends back home. Not glamourous, pouty lipped selfies but wake up in the morning, bed head selfies. We keep it real.

I also do a selfie movie. Like each picture represents one scene in the movie I am showing my friend. Just last night I did a horror movie selfie series.

4) Name a place in India and one abroad you really want to visit.

I desperately want to visit Mumbai. I’ve been only once and I’d love to go again. And abroad it would be – Mykonos, Greece. Never been but always wanted to visit.

5) What is your daytime job when you are not moonlighting as a ‘city vigilante’, err, or a blogger? (Sorry, just saw Spiderman2)

My daytime job is full time graduate student and wife.

6) What is the most amazing thing and the most annoying thing about yourself?

The most amazing thing about myself.. I can watch Netflix 24/7. Annoying thing, ask Jay. He has a big list. But what annoys me is my procrastination. It is a struggle.

7) What is the most amazing thing and the most annoying thing about the opposite sex?

Amazing thing is that when they’re nice, they are genuinely nice. Annoying thing is sometimes they just don’t listen.

8) Everyone asks about love. I want to know how important do you think lust is in a relationship?

I’d say not too much. A relationship is more than just lust.

9)What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Right now, Desperate Housewives.

10) How much time do you take to get ready for work?

If I have classes I take about twenty minutes. Else it takes me about half an hour.

11)Last but not the least, where and how do you see yourself in ten years from now?

I see myself happy, successful and content with my life, God willing.

 

Now I’d love to pass on the tag to other bloggers but PrincessButter has already tagged them! So if any of you want to do this tag then go ahead! You’re all winners! Also, thanks girl!

 

liebster-award

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life, my crazy days

Safe House

Imagination. That’s what enveloped the better part of my life. When I was a little girl the only ‘play time’ I ever had was in my head. Hence, I was a bit of loner although I grew up in an apartment full of kids playing around every chance they got. I was perfectly happy reading and living in my imaginary world. I visited beautiful places in my head and the adventures I had, well, I couldn’t explain them to anyone. My mother would always coerce me to go play with the other kids but I was more interested in wearing a beaded dupatta over my head pretending I was a princess locked in a castle from which I had to fight my way out.I was a part of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five solving mysteries, I sneaked out of boarding school like the girls in St. Claires and Mallory Towers, I was Jasmine from Aladdin, I was everything and I was happy. I could spend hours by myself and company distracted me. Playing with the other kids didn’t excite me. I was also the youngest and the other kids wouldn’t include me in their games. I was always considered uppu chappa. The only kid who wanted to play with me was a boy who was much older than me and he was more interested in my Barbie dolls than I was.

So my imagination was all I had, all I needed. It made me feel happier knowing that there was a place I could go to escape and all I had to was just push a switch in my head and I’m there. My imagination was what helped me get through some of the most darkest phases of my life. When the going got tough I would zone out and perpetually live in another place, a much happier place. This led me to avoid dealing with my present.

Consciously extracting myself from my head to live in the now is something I have to deal with every day. Is it a sickness? Or am I over thinking this? I don’t know. But what I do know that the safest place to be is in my head. When I don’t have the energy to deal with my life I’m glad to know that I have a safe house.

So tell me, what is your safe house? Where do you go to escape reality?

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Fiction, Word Pad

Rain.

What is it about a hot shower that washes your tears away? The allure of a clean slate? Or the promise of sins soaped away? I feel every drop of water that splashed against my worn and calloused skin, my skin that has felt so much; my feet that took me places I’ve only dreamt of, my hands that have held on to anchors, my face where I’ve felt your kiss a thousand times and the scar that is still tender from yesterday.

I stand here beneath this rain and surrender myself in your hands. Oh if only the Gods could hear me now! Wash away my sins, I cry. Wash away every trace of him. I don’t want memories. Remove the stain of his presence from my skin. I scrub and scrub in the hope that I can peel a fresh layer of skin, pure and untouched. As the water falls on my face I feel it mingle with my tears and there is no difference. I cry like a thunderstorm.

I scratch the surface in the hopes of  tearing away every vestige. But how do I remove your presence from below, where most of the damage is done? No amount of tears will erase your remnants from my heart. The times I’ve wept for you, for me, for you to stop and for me to stop loving you. I knew you were destructive but I kept coming back. I knew you weren’t good for me, although you knew me like no ever had. How could I turn away from that? How could I turn away from knowing that you were my one shot at happiness?

But I had to. I now stand here helpless and weak doing the only thing I can do now, which is to erase you, for my heart, from my life and from my soul, the place where I thought you would always have a home.

I finally see the blood seep through the lines on my skin and I know that I have reached the edge. Beyond this, I can only hope but my poor heart listens to no reason.

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America, Food, life, Uncategorized

23

I turned 23 a few days ago. I managed to have a pretty good birthday in the middle of all the travelling and moving. I also had a fabulous Godiva chocolate cheesecake that was probably the highlight of my life. It’s been four days since I’ve had it and I’m experiencing withdrawal symptoms now.

I don’t want to admit it but Alhamdulillah, I’m honestly enjoying this time. After the stress of the wedding I’m enjoying spending time by myself (okay, and Jay when he is around) eating, sleeping and watching too much of the Kardashians.

Every year my birthday came around I used to get apprehensive and felt like nothing would satisfy me. But this year I didn’t feel any of those things. Maybe it was because I was busy but for the first time in a very long time I felt good about myself and that to me makes this birthday pretty awesome.

Happy birthday, Zarine, you fabulous person you!

 

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