Tuesday 23 October 2007

Eid Party

Recuperating this morning after my bi-annual ladies and children Eid-party. Was great fun but am exhaaausted. Nursing my first hot chocolate for breakfast since Ramadan started. Hopefully will try to keep some control over my appetite and not revert to my pre-Ramadan gluttony. The more limited diet has meant I have lost a little weight, but better still it has given me tons of energy (which current situation being what it is I can never have enough of).
My intention behind the party was to give my children an alternative to occasions like Christmas to celebrate and a reason to love and look forward to Eid. It was also meant to be a chance for all of my family, friends and my sister’s friends who wear any kind of hijab to let their hair down and network.

I spent the day cooking and my sister’s shared the work and the cost so it worked out reasonably well. Made traditional Pakistani party fare of pakora’s, samosa’s and channa chaat and ordered in chips and spicy chicken wings (ordered in meant sent kooky little sister to Dixy on the corner). Also my beloved bestest friend and her sisters turned up with half of their local supermarket (two enormous tins of chocs, two boxes of shortbread, packets of cashews, peanuts and pistachios) so there was plenty of food. Another friend made chicken biryani and a sister’s friend brought beautiful heart-shaped homemade biscuits covered in pink icing and with jam in the middle (hungry yet?). Everyone else bought Indian sweets, chocolates and biscuits. Fashionista sister also took the opportunity to collect early birthday presents.
We played pass-the-parcel and musical chairs (ever seen a roomful of raucous ladies fighting over kids games - hysterical). The kids found a bag of party poppers and decided to let them off all over the house and then proceeded to try and get the balloons off the walls.
The best bit was the prizes: the mother of one of my daughter’s school friends had an amazing lime green outfit with the corresponding bling, so I awarded her the prize for best outfit to everyone’s applause (you should have seen her glow!). She also got one for passing her driving test after much effort. Everyone also got goody bags on the way home (cleared out my kids toy boxes for the kids one and added some sweets, balloons and poppers. This was good because now that Gorgeous has started crawling can’t have very small toys lying about). The ladies one were filled with make-up, soaps, stationary, sweets and candles and went down a treat.
It was also a nice occasion to meet my sister’s friends, especially one new Muslimah who wanted to meet more sisters and was able to make some good contacts (esp. bestest friend who is a darling).

Fashionista sisters raucous friends were the last to leave and the girls helped me with the big clean-up, as I was getting kids to bed, husbands newly-wed friend turns up with new wife. Whilst I was trying to take care of her and get kids to stay upstairs in bed, I could hear Gorgeous making strange noises - I whisked him upstairs to find he had exploded out of his nappy, by the time I cleaned him up, it was time for the new bride to go home (this is still before Isha, feeding baby, ironing work clothes, packing bags, checking lights and putting out Little Lady’s uniform). By the time I got to bed I was too tired to sleep.

So this morning, I am sharing the heart-shaped biscuits with my work colleagues and sitting very quietly at my desk with a bottle of panda pop drink left over by one of the kids.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Hairstyles and Discipline

Was mortified yesterday when I came back from work to find Little Man had a bald patch near the front of his head. This is the second time this has happened. The last time was about three months ago when bald spots seemed to suddenly appear around his head - it scared the heck out of me. Me and hubby sat there staring at his head wondering if it was caused by some kind of disease or something before we realised that Little Lady had managed to get her hands on a pair of scissors and cut patches out of his hair. I thought my scissors were out of reach on a high shelf but she has managed to climb up the shelves and get them down and do the same thing again. Little Man seems to be in awe of her and just lets her do whatever she wants to him. Have told her off as have hubby and dad-in-law but not sure how far the message is going in.

Also had to confiscate the play-dough she was given as she has been trying to mix it with water in the sink and managed to get it all over the bathroom. This after being told as soon as I got through the door that she doesn’t love me because I told daddy to get her hair cut and she wants to grow it long and complaints from her grandmother that Little Lady told her to “go back home – this is not your home, its mine, your home is in Pakistan” (who needs the BNP when you’ve got bossy boots doing their job for them?).

Anyway after she sharpened her pencils all over the floor and Little Man followed by throwing cake all over the floor and on being asked why he was making a mess declared sweetly “Mummy hoover it”, I finally packed them all off to bed and decided to sit in bed and read my pulp-horror no-brainer novel. It was only when I was falling asleep that I remembered that amidst all the telling off, and chasing around that I forgot to give Little Lady a big hug and a kiss and tell her how much I love her.

Dead Time

Don’t you just love that period of limbo between jobs? When you are all excited about starting a new job and don’t want to start anything new or big in your current job because you don’t want to leave it half finished. At the moment things are very quiet at work so trying to find ways to kill time, which I feel bad about because I believe in earning the wages you are paid.

Came back from a week off and find that all of the fuss in the office has died down a bit (see earlier posts “what goes around and what goes around part 2). The main reason seems to be that some of the managers have been off sick and people have just got on with their work the best they can. The other reason seems to be that the David-Brent-alike big boss also had last week off and wasn’t around to make things worse. As he is back this week, there are no guarantees that things will improve.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Eidan Saeedan, Eid Mubarak, Happy Eid

Happy Eid to everyone, hope it was special for each and every one of you. Have had a manic few days (and thats saying something considering I never seem to be able to stop running around like a headless chicklet).

Took a week off and spent most of the time running around preparing for Eid and a big iftar I had planned. In-laws (bless them) rallied around and decided that house should not look like junk shop on Eid (see previous post – Mr Removal Man). So Hubby’s darling parents spent all week scrubbing floors and sofa’s, washing linen and curtains and hiding all the stuff that we accumulate without even trying behind sofa’s, under sofa’s, under beds and forcing more into cupboards. The house looked wonderful and I felt a bit embarrassed that I had allowed it to get into such a mess.

Spent all day Thursday cooking for two families we had invited over to break fast with us (thinking Eid would be on Saturday). Barely had they eaten when news came in from the local mosque that it was Eid the next day. Got the guests fed and out the door and then dragged hubby round local desi shops looking for something to go with my Eid clothes. Spent Thursday night until midnight cooking and started again next morning straight after Fajr salaat. Baby brother-in-law (not exactly a baby, but the youngest of six brothers mashallah) was up until 3am decorating my sitting room which looked great. Had gifts (eidhee) for everyone as both myself and my husband are the oldest siblings in our family, but we both realised by Eid day that we were flat broke and decided not to buy each other anything (I wanted to get him a watch as he has worn his since I gave it to him on our engagement 10 years ago and it recently broke; he wanted to take me away for a few days whilst his parents were here to watch the kids). In the end he bought me a scarf and I bought him socks.

GorgeousLittle Lady with Little Man. (lovely outfits courtesy of grandparents)

Had one family over for lunch and two more over for dinner. Wanted to take pic of meal but was busy serving, then stuffing my face. By evening we were all POOPED, it was a beautiful warm night so we all decided to go for a walk to wind down and it was lovely to see loads of other families out in their finery doing the usual Eid activities (stuffing their gobs, showing off, queuing up outside the indian-sweets shop).
The next day we were invited over to my mums who is defo the best cook in the world and had a lovely meal and got lots of presents (no complaints there). Had fun after that hiding my visiting cousind shoes (very grown up) and making them play hot and cold to find them. They finally found them in the cellar where we switched the light off and locked the door. I would have left them in there longer but fashionista sister finally let them out after 15 minutes. They didn't look very impressed and went off home in a huff (we obviously don't have the same sense of humour).
So now we are finishing off leftovers and trying to prepare for the next six days of fasting in blessed Shawwal-ul-Mukarram. Definitely a whole different ball-game from fasting in Ramadan. May Allah make it easy for all those who attempt this and accept it from us.

Saturday 13 October 2007

Last of the Batch

These are the last of the Eid cards, managed to post them finally on Eid day (can blame the postal strike!!)

Saturday 6 October 2007

What goes around…part 2

Further to my previous posts about events at work, things are not getting any better. The natural thing to do at times of trouble like these is to rally around, get together, identify the problem being honest about what is going wrong and get down to some real hard work until matters are resolved. So what happened? The sick absence rates have suddenly gone through the roof. The team that sits behind me have one of four staff on two-weeks leave and a further two have called in sick. The fourth is the team leader who has had enough and is threatening to take all next week off sick. The branch manager has also pulled a sickie, giving everyone the chance to dump every awkward file and stray document they can lay their hands on, on his desk in his absence.

Other branches are borrowing what staff we have left (esp the section that started all the trouble and customer services who are having to deal with all of the fed-up clients) so our branch is a bit empty. I overheard another team joking that half had booked leave for next week and the other half were planning to call in sick with a bug and blame it on the air con, which despite complaints is still fluctuating between arctic air blowing out and sub-Saharan temperatures.

Fortunately I have next week off to try to catch up on my ibadat and try to catch the odd nights in the hope of finding Lailat-ul-Qadr (the Night of Decree) and also preparing for Eid.

Thursday 4 October 2007

The Final Ashra

Already we are in the last ashra of Ramadan. I am so pleased for those who are able to engage in Itikaf this year, may Allah accept their efforts and reward them abundantly. Its not as easy as it looks, take my grandmother, she did it once about 15 years ago, she had no problem with the prayers, mashallah she normally spends her whole day engaged in talawat and zikr. It was the fact that she was not supposed to speak to us. Her daughter-in-laws would prepare her food and send it to her room via the grandchildren. We had strict instructions to leave the food and come straight back and not to pester gran. We would open the door and shove the food in and rush back, by the end of ten days she was desperate to speak to someone, Eid was a bit of a relief I think.

The effects of Ramadan are beginning to show on many of us now; tiredness, lack of sleep, enormous bags under the eyes, but we have managed to spend 20 days living in a way that pleases Allah and that sets a standard for the rest of the year. I love the way neighbours send food to each other, the fact that other Muslims are so much warmer at this time of year, that the mosque’s are busy even at fajr time and that people try so hard to give up bad habits (except Dad-in-law and his cigarettes, but we are in the process of harassing him into giving them up)

Even so, this Ramadan has been difficult for me in that I have had to accept that with three little ones I cannot do all the taraweeh prayers every night, read as much Quran or manage as much ibadat as previous years and this makes me feel a little like I have lost out on something or am wasting the benefits I could have gained in this precious month. My husband consoles me by saying that he and the rest of the family can undertake their worship in peace because I am taking care of the meals and the children so I will get a reward equal to them, not sure about this, but hope its true.

What goes around…

Every now and again you have a moment of pure sweet justice and I am undergoing a growing sense of such a moment at this time. I joined the office I work in currently on a transfer from another department whilst heavily pregnant. I had to work hard to establish myself in a short time as I knew I was due to go on maternity leave soon; running around, making time to get to know people, trying to appear as professional and capable as I could whilst looking like a beached whale in an abaya and being incredibly uncomfortable.

On return from leave I found that I had been moved from my managerial position to a lesser position (on the same pay so I could not appeal), at the same time the senior manager was new and was on holiday. After a few weeks of feeling neglected, ignored, unchallenged and totally bored I started job-hunting manically.

At the same time this office is run by a clique of arrogant, self-obsessed, prejudiced, nepotists. These people all socialise together (down the pub natch) and have all gotten to where they are by helping each other up the ladder. Rules have been bent and changed for them to progress and in the process, people who are capable, intelligent and experienced have not been given a chance to apply for promotions and get involved in projects or high-profile work.

Recently there have been some big changes in the office due to changes in legislation relating to the work we do. Because the “clique” doesn’t know the work (and in many cases were too thick to be doing the job in the first place) they didn’t see the change in workload coming and could not prepare effectively to deal with it, so now they are up the creek without a paddle. Because morale here is so low and people have always felt intimidated by this bunch, there isn’t exactly a stampede of people rushing forward to help and those that are being roped in are working half-heartedly. Oh – and then they realised that the section causing all the problems has been cooking the figures for the work stats being handed in every week and they are sitting on TONS of work.

As this week has gone by it has been hilarious to watch the bunch of gorillas and gorilless’s marching up and down the office looking worried, and then panicked. Piles of paper appearing all around them and piles of files appearing in the office of on our very own version of David Brent (only my colleague assures me David Brent is a lot nicer). Clients are calling up getting more and more furious as no-one can help them and the section that caused the problem is refusing to answer phones. This is just the beginning. Also the work they are getting is from the office I moved here from last year. So I know how to do it. I might let them know this at some point…I might not. If I do it will be just before I hand my notice in. Just waiting for my letter of confirmation to come from my new employers (great time for a four-day postal strike!).

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Guilt-trippin’ Mama

People often say to me they are impressed by the way I manage home, children, relatives, work and other things. I always smile and feel like a complete and utter fraud. Partly this is because my husband does his share and helps every chance he gets, also at the moment my in-laws are taking care of the kids with granddad doing the school-run and gran helping with the cooking (which unfortunately seems to take over women’s lives in Ramadan).

The flip-side of this is that they are from another generation when raising children was a much more laid-back enterprise. They are not as fussed when the kids are filthy, they wont change nappies the second baby has exploded in one, if Little Lady decides she wants to wear her tiara to school they just let her. All of theses things are probably good as mothers now are under too much pressure to “perform”, to ensure their kids have been fed organic homemade green mush, are perfectly presented, can walk by 6 months and know their ABC’s by 8 months. However, this laid-back-ness has also presented itself in other ways. I got a call yesterday from Little Lady's school about "the man" that collects her (I already explained to the teacher that her grandparents would pick and drop her and also introduced granddad to her), they noticed that he lost the kids twice and wanted me to know about it. Apparently Little Man let go of the pram and wandered out to the school gate, a teacher grabbed him and held him until his granddad came, the other time Little Lady came out of her classroom and ran straight off, Granddad couldn’t see her so he came to the gate to see if she had run outside, she was still inside, so the teachers thought he was about to go off without her. She often runs out of class and towards the gate and I have always stood my ground and refused to move until she comes back and walks home right next to me. The call from the teacher was absolutely mortifying, I felt about three millimetres tall and didn’t know what to say.

Yesterday I got home and the kids were all in the back room playing together like the most civilised children I had ever seen, except there was no adult in sight. After about a minute their gran appeared and explained that she had gone to the bathroom. I never ever let them out if my sight at home or outside, even to go to the bathroom. If it’s an emergency then Gorgeous comes with me. I cannot trust Little Man not to poke Gorgeous in the eye or sit on him. The exception is my mum’s house where she and my three sisters and the cat watch the kids while I let my brain forget I have kids for a few hours.

Hubby and myself have spoken to his parents about this and I felt terrible as I know they are trying to do the best they can and have such good intentions. Also had to speak to Little Lady about holding someone’s hand when she comes out of class and not running off. Anyway, as I am moving to a new job soon (again) which is nearer to home, hopefully I might be able to arrange for me and hubby to do the school run more often ourselves.

The other reason I feel like a bit of a fake, is that as with most working mums I often have to cut corners, so I will be making the chappati’s whilst listening to Little Lady’s Arabic and will have to keep making her repeat herself because I didn’t catch some of it. I’ll also manage to burn some of the food in the process because I am trying to look at her book and cook at the same time.

Also with three children and Gorgeous being the most patient (mashallah), it’s always the littlest one that gets seen to last. I wonder sometimes if our children will ever look back and feel like we have been neglectful or not paid enough attention to them. Wouldn’t motherhood be so much pleasurable without all the guilt-tripping? And if I don’t say anything and just smile when you say I am so organised etc etc, now you know why.

Monday 1 October 2007

Beautiful Adhaan

My favourite part of the day during Ramadan is Iftar time, not because I am hungry, and not just because at this time, after a very, very long day, I finally get to sit down for a few moments. But because at this time I get to hear the adhaan on the radio. I can feel the tension and fatigue slipping away and my heart filling with peace. Is there any sound beautiful as the adhaan? Is there any better way to reach the hearts of the faithful? Whether its the muezzin of the Haram or the old man in the village mosque in Pakistan. One so majestic it brings you to your knees and the other so humble it brings tears to your eyes. Nothing moves me like the adhaan. Every time I hear it I cannot speak, and when I hear it I pray with tears streaming down my face that Allah gives my sons the chance to perform the call to prayer, perhaps in a beautiful masjid, or perhaps one day just in the old masjid in my grandfathers village.

More Eid Cards

Some more of my Eid cards. Made this batch on the weekend so that I would have enough to send to all my peeps in Pakistan. The first is for my beautiful 1 year-old nephew from Little Man and Gorgeous, the second is from Little Lady to my 10 month old neice. The pink butterfly one is for my 2 sister-in-laws and the blue and purple butterfly one is for my brother-in-laws. I think I will send the orange one to my friend who has moved to Mauritius and who I miss terribly. Still have to make all the ones that I have to give here (phew!!). Just glad to finally get these posted out.