Queue Jumpers

In the few months that I have lived in India, I have come to understand how the human brain works. Or at least I hope I do. I am still figuring it out. The world is a complex place. Let me correct that. The world is a simple place. It’s the human beings that live on it, that are complex. Greed, Lust, Corruption etc. at the most basic levels turn human beings into animals. Comparing lowly actions of humans to animals is an insult to animals. Before you raise those eyebrows of yours, allow me to elaborate.

I had gone to Kolkata as my husband had to apply for the Australian visa. While he had gone to the main office to submit his documents, I stood in a queue to grab a seat. The seats were mostly filled by elderly people who were applying for visas to visit their sons and daughters settled abroad. For half an hour, I did what any youngster would do in presence of an elder. Offered my spot to them which they readily grabbed. As time passed, it started getting more crowded and now I could see more middle-aged ladies. One of them promptly planted herself in front of me. I assumed that she presumed the queue was for the visa process even though any person with eyes could see that the queue that I was the leader of, led to sofas. With a smile as sweet as honey, I politely informed her that she was standing in front of the wrong line if she wanted to visit her son abroad. Laughing at my ignorance, she proudly proclaimed that she knew the line was for seats which she was in dire need of. If I could, I would have exploded into the Hulk. Such hypocritical aunties will lie about their age at counters and offices and license documents and birth certificates. But when it came to a sofa spot, they would fling the mask away and reveal the wrinkles and the backache that comes with age. Suddenly I was getting shoved from the back and I realised to my horror that the old people were jumping queues. I felt I was the only one who was raised with etiquettes. These were the same people would click their tongues at youngsters for wearing shorts and having little patience but oh look how the tables have turned. The attitude disgusted me. If these old and middle-aged people were so flawed in basic human behaviour, how did they expect the youngsters to be anything but impatient while waiting in queue?

A day later, my husband and I were at the airport waiting at the security check when a girl slightly older than me barged through the queues, exclaiming “excuse me, excuse me”. Without waiting to be excused, she rushed to the start of the line, got her baggage checked and ran to whichever portal of hell such idiots fly to. Not a moment had passed when two other girls in their late 20’s, calmly jumped the queue, got their baggage checked and were well on their way. I was already seeing red but now even my husband couldn’t hide his annoyance at such blatant “I couldn’t care less but I am going first” attitude so he loudly exclaimed to me “Kuch log padhaayi likhaayi karke usko waste karte hain. School jaate hain lekin line mein lagna nahi seekhte” (Some people just waste their education. They go to school and yet don’t know how to wait in queues.)” The girls, even if they heard , and they would have, made no sign or effort whatever to correct themselves. These line jumpers have certain characteristics that I would like to list down below so the next time you encounter them: it’s easier to spot them.

  1. They come in all varieties of shapes, forms, genders and age categories.
  2. Mostly they shall start by gently nudging you from behind as if you have committed some mistake such as heavens forbid, jumped the queue. This gentle nudge will turn into a firm nudge where their elbows will overtake yours.
  3. Their body will slowly start appearing until you can see them in your lateral view. They are now by your side.
  4. Then they shall take advantage of your innocent look and innocently but shamelessly stand in front of you being very careful not to meet your eye.
  5. And that’s how the subtle art of jumping the queue is done.
  6. Others usually just come and stand in front of you and will turn a deaf ear to your protests.
  7. While many others will just come barraging from behind excusing themselves like they own the place or are in dire need of using a toilet up ahead.

The Brits are amazing at this. They vouch that if you have patience to stand in a queue, you won’t have to stand much longer. Things go by smoothly and your work is done more efficiently.

Indians, you might want to learn a bit or two from your colonial masters.

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Who Am I?

I am in my last semester of Masters, and for this semester I have taken electives that I, for once, am enjoying studying and participating in. One of the electives is Teaching English Internationally. Based on the course title, I assumed, it would equip me with skills to teach English in an international setting. It is anything but. The unit delves into the migrant experiences and how language is a major but not oft seen concept in the current era of globalisation.

A little background info about me. I was born and brought up in The United Arab of Emirates till the age of 16. My family and I then moved to Australia where we have been settled for the past 8 years. So, in a sense, my identity is an amalgamation of Indo-Arab-Aussie. I have married an Indian guy who hadn’t travelled outside India until our honeymoon in Europe. Whenever I travelled to India, it was only to my relative’s place. My husband, on the other hand, has travelled all over India. My husband and I come from different states in India. In India, each state might as well be its own country. My husband and I speak completely different languages, have different cultural backgrounds etc. Since I have always lived overseas, our upbringings are also vastly different.

I had never realised the importance of identity until I got married.  I might look Indian, but my upbringing has never been because of “log kya kahenge?”. I was raised along with my two brothers but except for the fact that I should be back home by sundown, I never felt that I was limited in opportunities and freedom of expression. My in-laws are great people, but I was expected to behave like the Indian daughter-in-law. They never limited my movements, but I was expected to wake up at the beck of dawn. The food and language, albeit minor issues, were still issues. I am expected to learn a language even if the rest of Assam is fluent in a language I speak, Urdu/Hindi. Which came as a shock to me. No one can learn a language overnight. I felt like an outcast in a foreign land with a language that was alien to me. It’s not just Assam apparently. If an Assamese went to any other state of India, they would be expected to learn the language. And yes, I assume in a professional setting, that would do. But in a home setting, I would assume people would speak in a language that was understandable to all present. No? Just my family? Right.

My parents raised us in a way that wasn’t apparent in efforts but seeing families in India and their upbringing highlights the different way my parents instilled their values in us. It was never forced upon us and yet we grew up following their way. They taught us the principle of empathy. They showed us the beauty of Islam through their practice. The ideals of our Prophet for the whole of mankind and humanity was something we strived upon. My parents raised us to inculcate the good values of any culture, community or country and to disown the not so good ones. We were never patriotic to any country but I feel close to the Indians, Arabs and Aussies. They are not perfect but they can’t be stereotyped. And I, most certainly, do not fit into any stereotype. I am my own person with my own values. And I will not conform to anyone else’s expectations of how an Indian should be.

Ra-MAD-aners

Ramadan Kareem y’all!! It’s mid-Ramadan now and although Ramadan is said to be the month of quran and patience, I am having a real hard time keeping my patience.Nope, its not coz of the hunger pangs. Its coz of certain people.

  1. The Snapchatter : This is the person that literally snaps each and every moment of Ramadan from suhoor to iftaar to taraweeh to “feeling blessed and holy”. We all know you be stuffing pakoras everyday for iftaar mate. And we all know you attend the 20 rakah taraweeh instead of the 8 rakah that mere mortals go to.
  2. The Instagrammer : This person posts iftaar pics everyday like literally everyday. Its the same iftaar with same pakoras and same samosas and same roohafza drink and the same caption of yummmmm and the same hashtags. The only difference is the seating positions on the table.
  3. The Temporary Haram Police : This person is typically the one who smokes shisha during the non-Ramadan period but as soon as the Ramadan moon is sighted, he is seen distributing dates and Noman Ali Khan lectures CDs outside the masjid. Another distinguishing characteristic is the replacement of swear language with masha Allahs  and subhan Allahs. because-ramadan_o_1819477
  4. Moon Fighters : Australia might be dubbed the city of beaches and sunshine but there ain’t no sun shining at us folks here in Melbourne. Hence, the Board of Imams seek the scientific calculations of astronomers on the likelihood of the appearance of crescent moon. The Hilal Committee on the other hand try to physically sight the hilal through telescopes. Obviously there is always a contest since never the twain meet. Every year, the moon fighters (or loony moonies a.k.a people who follow the Hilal Committee) will debate with the astronomical – culators (people who follow the Board of Imams) on the correct ruling and which day the “actual” Eid actually is? The reason I find these conversations annoying is because they happen literally every year like they DO NOT learn their lesson. Its like someone presses the repeat button. Last year we were the moon fighters, this year we decided to go with the astronomical-culators, since people keep sprouting myriad hadeeth citations.
  5. The Cute Monsters : At the start of the taraweeh, these are the tiny toddlers who are lying on the masjid carpet,looking innocently at you, making it harder for you to focus on the quran that the imam is praying because you get so lost in those big baby boo eyes of theirs. Four rakahs in and its even more harder for you to concentrate because the imam’s voice is lost in the wailing and screaming of that same baby who was innocent a few moments ago. While the mum of the baby concerned should be concerned, she clearly isn’t as she is seen humming along to the tune of the imam. Meanwhile us other ladies are trying to calm the baby down during prayer by showering angry faces for it to stop which only results in the wails getting louder like seriously baby SHOOOOSH!!! And as soon as we finish our prayer by doing the tahiyyat and shaking heads right and left by assalamualaikum wa rahmatullah, the baby is as quiet as an unplugged vaccum cleaner. You stare at the baby and ask what the hell baby and it just hypnotizes you with its eyes by saying that aint me, nuh-uh!
  6. The Mums of Cute Monsters : Sisters, please for the love of Allah, I am not going to sugar coat or humorify this paragraph because wallahi that baby of yours, masha Allah and subhan Allah so so cute but during taraweeh are all tauba tauba and astaghfirullah. Sisters, I wish I could quote the hadeeth now but I am too lazy to go research it, but I do know for a fact that you get the same amount of ajr and sawaab and rewards if you prayed at home then if you came to the masjid. Allah allows this because masha Allah you are making effort and coming to mosque, changing the clothes of your baby and yourself and praying among the din din of your baby noise but sister, pray at home so the only person suffering is just you and not us.  We wish the enjoy to imam’s qiraat and the quran recitation and the not having cute but annoying babies phase. Jazakallahu khairan.
  7. The Annoying Azz Toddlers : It is mentioned in a hadeeth that during the holy month of Ramadan, the shaytaan (satan) is locked up for ease of the Muslims to abstain from the whisperings and evil sins. So imagine my surprise when I rocked up on the first night of taraweeh and saw mini devils running around the mosque. Those cute monsters mentioned above are not alone, oh no, they have older baby brothers and sisters, who have spawned into halal shayateen. The characteristics of these munchkins is that they will either be running around the legs of the taraweehers or crying for an iPad or iPhone that one out of the 15 have. They will come and grab your water bottle from your purse and chug it down with their saliva splatters on the rim of your drink or take a shower with it, or take your iPhone and try unlocking it so many times that the next time you can unlock it is in 367 years. All this right in front of your eyes and you helplessly watch them unable to do anything because a) you are in prayer and b) their mum is nearby so you can’t thwack them. Sometimes they grab the chairs off those who pray with them resulting in a couple of ladies falling while seating for sujood which is horrifying really.
  8. The Mums of Annoying Azz Toddlers : Sisters, please don’t create these munchkins. Just kidding, they make taraweeh fun. But seriously, teach them etiquette of the mosque especially to not play with chairs of those who pray with them.  It can seriously injure the ladies. Aand again, pray at home. PLEEEEASE!! I get very thirsty because your Abdullah drank all my water. Waaaaaah!!!
  9. Huffaz : When the imam is praying quran taraweeh and you are a hafiz yourself, it is tempting to read along with him. I totally understand. I am a hafiz myself. And I do read along. Just not aloud. I neither whisper, nor hum, nor mutter, nor mumble. I neither read the faa nor the seen or the sheen aloud. Infact my lips are closed as I pray along in my mind. Why am I quoting what I do? Its because other taraweehers, including myself find it irksome to hear someone two rows behind going haaaaaaa aloud when the imam recites haa meem. We get it masha Allah, you are a hafiz. May Allah grant you jannah. But sister, Allah knows what is in your heart. Pray in your heart and Allah will reward you. You can even dance a bit on your spot if that’s how excited listening to imam read what you know makes you. That’s not allowed but you do you. Just do it silently. Thank you.

Writing these down has calmed me considerably. You might have witnessed these people in your mosques or maybe you are one of them lol. If you know any other kind then vent down below. Just no swearing please. Shukran.

 

Shake it Off

So recently a friend of mine got the honour of becoming Australian. She invited me to attend the Citizenship ceremony which I dutifully did, given that she didn’t have family here and hence no one to capture the auspicious moment. My friend along with 50 other people took the oath and pledge and sang to the national anthem. After the whole process got over, the mayor stood up to hand certificates to the newbies and click photos.

116141-australian-citizenship-ceremony

I was in the audience observing the excitement rippling among people. Some Indian dudes even rocked up in formal attire with business suits and ties and broad smiles.Indian aunties rocking up Eid and Diwali outfits the whole chammak challo. I am not calling against anyone but it was embarrassing watching all this. India is a stable country. No wars going on as in Syria and other countries. Yes, we are still counted as a third world country but alhumdulillah we are up in the game, technology,financial stability and safety wise. And yet it felt like the room was filled with refugees who were desperate to shed their identity and any links to motherland to be embraced and accepted by the warmhearted and welcoming country.

Anyway the main issue that I wanted to address was this : Australians and when I say that I mean non-Muslim white people, have understood and realised that hijabis equal to no-shaking hands.They are gracious enough to accept and respect the view without taking offense.They know that us hijabis cannot shake hands with a non-mehram male and cannot show the beauty of our hair to non-mehram male. Heaps of other stuff too but the focus today is : not shaking hands. So the mayor is handing out certificates and shaking hands offering congratulations. Next up is a hijabi. Hands get extended. Not the mayor’s. The hijabi’s. That’s right. This hijabi forgot she is a hijabi. People were not only throwing away nationalities but also religion lol. The mayor is confused. This goes against the hijabi code ethic that he has been taught. He had seen her and had dropped his hands to his sides. But she has the palm outstretched. Awkward moment passes by. Actually many moments pass by. He finally gives in and shakes her hand clearly confused as heck.

confused

The funny thing was this hijabi wasn’t even the excited kind.She was calm and collected and assumed she was embracing the Australian culture wholly by this small act. Dear sister, I get it you are frickin excited that you became an Australian. But please shower that excitement on your fathers and brothers and sons aka your mehrams remember? Shake their hands million times over, ain’t no issue. Australians are already confused about Islam as it is. You are not doing anything to clear the confusion. I have a graduation ceremony to attend in December. If hijabis like you stomp up on podiums and shake the mayor’s, the university president’s hands, it is just going to get more difficult for me when I go up there and refuse to shake hand due to “religious reasons”. I ain’t no preacher. I just want a simple life for me.And a simpler life for the poor mayors and principles and other male hand shakers whose views on Islam is distorted due to conflicting attitudes we hijabis give.

***Images and gif courtesy of Google.

Point of appointments??

Recently my mum diagnosed me of the Sleeping Beauty syndrome.I would go to sleep early (well early for me is 12 am) and I would be unconscious till 1 pm except on uni days. Mum would try waking me up but I would be snoozing away in Fairy Land.And even when I woke up, I would feel lethargic all day, yawning in between conversations. For a young girl who only had to attend university 2 days a week, this behavior was slightly getting to my desi mum and hence she decided to book an appointment with the doctor to confirm her doubts.

The appointment was booked at 11:10 on a Tuesday. I was the one who had to make the call. The receptionist asked me all my details, medical history and booked in my appointment for “10 to 11”. I hate such terminologies : quarter to 1, quarter past 3 and all that. I mean why can’t you simply say 11:10 or 12:45 or 3:15. Why complicate it? The world is complicated as it is without people making it even more complicated. After I put the phone down, mum asked me what time did I get and I said 10 to 11. I swear the receptionist DID say 10 to 11 ok. But since my tone was a bit flustered, (I always get nervous when I am talking to a receptionist, or any stranger for that matter), mum decided to double check and called the receptionist the next day before driving me into the clinic. The receptionist says the appointment is booked at 11:10 not 10 to 11. ARRGGHHH!! I mean I know its just like 20 minutes difference but it made me sound like such an idiot.

embarassed

We reached the clinic at exact time 11:10, the time my appointment IS, the time I am supposed to see the doctor but no, the receptionist smiles and asks me to take a seat. Which I dutifully do. After 10 minutes, mum says she shall go to the nearby Coles and have a look and asks me to call her once I am done. Mum goes, I watch the lounge TV for a couple of minutes, then start browsing my phone going through social media : Twitter,Facebook, etc.30 whole minutes pass and I suddenly realize that I was so engrossed that I might have missed my call. So I go to the receptionist and ask whether my name was called. She looks at her register and says no with a smile. That sickeningly sweet smile.I return to my seat. At 11:50, I hear my name being called out and I jump so quickly that everyone looks at me. The doctor was really sweet and she told me that my tiredness might be due to anemia.I would have to come the next day for a blood test after 8 hours of fasting. Oh joy.

happy-not

Dear hospital staff, what is the point of appointments if you are just going to waste 40 minutes of my life? The doctor didn’t even apologize for calling me in late which they totally should do. I mean if you and your friend plan to meet up at a set time and one of you arrives late, don’t you apologize? Doctors aren’t even late to clinics. They are IN the clinics, in their cubicles probably playing Solitaire on their computer which is why every patient is waiting out in the lounge for 40 to 50 whole minutes. My younger brother Mikaeel had an ear pain and booked an appointment last week for 8:50 pm and got called in 9:50 p.m. OUTRAGEOUS!!! One time this patient came 10 minutes late for the appointment and the receptionist was like “You are late for your appointment. We shall have to reschedule”. Like whaaaat? If she came in early, the doctor would be late and she would be sitting in the lounge anyway. Might as well spend it in the car amongst traffic.

The whole doctor patient interaction takes about 10 minutes max, the patient leaves, doctors fill in report which takes 10 minutes and then what? Just because we are not emergency patients does not mean you can take your own sweet time. My mum reckons its a gimmick so that the clinics are jam-packed with people in the waiting lounge which shows how popular the clinic is or how good the doctors are for people to be flocking into the clinic. If that is true, then dear hospital staff, if I have a problem or I am writhing in pain, I won’t care about a clinic’s popularity. In fact I shall go to a clinic with fewer people so I can get attended to faster. Let me know what the reason is. It better be a good medical,scientifically proven valid reason because wasting 40 minutes of my life is not funny. Booking in appointments and calling in an hour late is not funny.Your receptionists who smile and say please take a seat when I arrive at time and who get confused between 10 to 11 and 11:10 are not funny.Most importantly the programs you show on TV in the waiting lounge are not funny. No, but seriously, you people should clean up on your act.

Sincerely yours,

A severely tired,mentally exhausted,physically frustrated, angry patient.