Spring Exhibitions Opening Reception at the Art Gallery of Mississauga

Haven’t been to an exhibition in quite some time, so I was more than happy to go to the opening of the Spring Exhibitions at the AGM (no not Annual General Meeting- the Art Gallery of Mississauga, we all get that in our heads too!). There are two exhibitions up for the Spring, ” niigaanikwewag” which means “leader women” or “they who lead ahead/ in the future” in Anishinaabemowin. It refers to the female artists as leaders in Indigenous Arts. The theme embodies the fact that  Indigenous women have always been present, nurturing art, culture, family, and community and that they are tied to one another and the earth.  There is beautiful (and haunting) work by Joi T. Arcand, Shuvinai Ashoona, Catherine Blackburn, Aylan Couchie, Ruth Cuthand, Thirza Cuthand, Dayna Danger, Raven Davis, Bonnie Devine, Maria Hupfield, Nadya Kwandibens, Amy Malbeuf, Jane Ash Poitras, Ningiukulu Teevee, and Arielle Twist. We were lucky to attend the Opening and witness a powerful and heart-wrenching performance by Raven Davis. It was a much-needed reminder of the past cruelties endured and more sadly the fact that even today countless Indigenous Sisters are missing and still being abused. I can’t put into words what a tragedy this is or how beautifully this artist portrayed that tragedy. You just had to be there. I will post about the second exhibition in another post as niigaanikwewag needs its own special place. It is a must-see exhibition,  and you can still catch the Curator’s Tour on Saturday, April 6 at 1 PM. Don’t miss it, the exhibition is up till June 16, 2019.

For more information: Facebook Event Page

 

Exhibiting at Queen’s Park Legislative Building

 

October is Islamic Heritage month and I was really honored (and just a bit over the moon!) when I got a call from Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s office to exhibit my work at a reception they were hosting at the Legislative Building. Would I like to share my art at the Reception? Um…yeah!! My Rumi inspired pieces were the perfect fit and they were all ready to go. I am also happy to say that they have since been sold and have a loving new home.

The evening was great, the reception was well organized, met plenty of old friends, made some new ones and got to chat with Ms. Horwath (bonus!), she also gave an inspiring little speech.  There was also a delicious dinner (what can be better than good food?!) An evening of art, friends, good food and meaningful conversations, yes it was a perfect night!

 

 

Weekly Photo Challange: Happy Place

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This says it all. Happy Place.

Polygamy, I get it. But no thank you!

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I wrote a post about polygamy for Blog Her, and they featured it. I had originally titled it “I’m Muslim, but if my husband thinks of a second wife, I’ll reach for my shotgun!” I suspect the title had a little to do with it getting so many reads ( I was pleasantly surprised to get that much attention).  You can read it here.

We are still waiting for spring weather to come, it gives us a glimpse then disappears again!

I also started a magazine style blog because I wanted people to share their cultures from around the world. I put up a few random posts to get it started but I invite anyone of you who are interested in contributing to please send me a post. You can see what it is all about here : Cafe Mosaic.ca I will share links to your blogs and websites so you get some traffic.

Featured on Blog Her

A post I had written on Blog Her got featured. You can read it here. It is a rant on being balanced in life, and how we never follow this one simple rule and make our lives difficult.

Other than that if you have not been to Ripley’s Aquarium, then you must go there! If you live in Ontario that is, if you don’t then please visit whatever aquarium is near you, because sharks. And octopus..octopuses…octopusi? Google…yes it is octopuses (also octopi and octopodes. Doesn’t matter just go!

We took the kids on Saturday here are some of the amazing creatures we ogled at.

Aquarium 304

Aquarium 301

Aquarium 296

Aquarium 295

Aquarium 283

Aquarium 271

Aquarium 321

Aquarium 331

Aquarium 343

Aquarium 360

Aquarium 370

Aquarium 392

Aquarium 403

I have about a million more pictures because everything was so snap worthy, you must go see the aquarium for yourself. But first go read my post on Blog Her!

Balance: Veil, Hijab, Topless Women

Rania El Alloul

(pic from CBC News)

The biggest problem facing society today besides reality shows, sorry I just couldn’t resist, is extremism. Extremists aren’t just a bunch of people (either dressed in all white or head-to-toe black) ready to kill anyone who doesn’t conform to their beliefs. Extremists are all those people who say I am right, and if you don’t agree you are Islamophobic, homophobic, white people phobic, Christian phobic, Jew phobic, or whatever-the-hell-else phobic.

Please someone tell me where has balance disappeared to?   I know what I am going to say next is going to get all sorts of glorious insults from either extremes. But please just hear me out, because we really need to bring balance back to our chaotic lives.

First Judge Marengo’s decision to ban Rania El-Alloul’s headscarf was unfair. The headscarf wasn’t disrespectful; it is a sign of respect in many cultures and religions.  It didn’t hinder any court room proceeding, wasn’t a threat to anyone, and since Canada gives equal rights to everyone should this have been made such a big deal? What was unsuitable about it? Canadian Nuns, Sikhs, Jews and Muslims cover their heads willingly because of their beliefs, they aren’t being forced to. So what is so offensive? Sunglasses and hats are worn for fashion, not belief. That is something quite different. And if the court is non-secular are they going to remove the Bible too?

So much time is being wasted on this issue when there are so many bigger problems to tackle. This could have been dealt with better using a bit of balance. Judge Marengo has every right not to like the headscarf, but does that really give her the right to make someone else take it off? I would understand if it was a big hindrance in her being able to do her job, but it wasn’t.  (Now before you rush to comment “go back to your own country” I have to tell you I was born here. Please continue to read before you judge me.)

On the other hand, although I respect Zunera Ishaq’s choice to cover her face, I have to say, that is exactly what it is. A choice. Scholars agree that covering a face is not mandatory. The head yes, but even then a woman can’t be forced. Her decision is between herself and God. Yes I am ready for the storm of condemnations to hell by fellow Muslims who will not agree to this fact. I should remind you before you do denounce me however that it is forbidden in Islam to denounce anyone. That decision belongs to God.

Zunera Ishaq should be allowed to cover her head which is mandatory. Banning women from headscarves that they take of their own free will would definitely be stealing their freedom. She shouldn’t have had a problem with uncovering her face for a short while during the Citizenship Ceremony, although I understand her reluctance since she has been covering it for so long. She needs to remember that Islam is a religion of ease not hardship.

‘God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship’ (2:185) 

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) always exhorted Muslims to follow a simple and balanced approach to life. He discouraged all forms of extreme behaviors. One of those extreme behaviors would be making this a bigger issue than it is. Many people have argued that this is a feminist issue, it is not. Just like women who insist on going topless is not. That is a personal choice. Just imagine if all rights were based on what someone really wanted to do and believed that it was correct. Everyone would have an issue. Let’s please bring balance back into our lives and stop making living harder than it has to be.

The art of chai or Dear white people that stuff you think is chai, isn’t

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I hate to burst your bubble, but that stuff you buy in paper cups that is sold as chai, isn’t chai. Chai is already perfect, you don’t turn it into a latte, or serve it iced and pour it into paper cups. Only a chai lover will truly understand the pain this causes to see chai that is not chai, advertised as chai.

Chai is an art, with a history of 5000 years. Made through a time-honored process that needs no further innovation, it should be served in vessels made of something more substantial than cheap waxy paper. It is too royal for that, legend has it that chai was invented by some ancient Indian king. So you are welcome dear white people, from all us brown people, for both coffee (walla habibi!) and chai.

There are of course different types of (authentic) chai.  Masala chai, dhoodh pathi chai, Kashmiri chai and just the basic dhum ki wi chai (steeped chai) which is my favorite. Now allow me to enlighten you all.

Basic Chai

Tapal

This is the stuff we use. However…

Tapal 2

…this also works.

First of all you need really good tea leaves. I am sorry Tetley you just don’t have what it takes.  A lot of desi people will swear by Lipton. I honestly feel sorry for those poor lost souls. You have not had tea until you have had Tapal. Brooke Bond is the only one I trust if I can’t find Tapal. You should be able to find Tapal Tea at the local Indian/Pakistani grocery store. And if they don’t have it, ask them why the hell not.  When we were in Karachi, we used to buy a brand called Flying Horse. It was excellent, but after we had Tapal we never looked back.

1 tsp Tapal tea leaves per cup (I never use tea bags)

Water-cups per people you want to indulge

Sugar to taste

Cream to taste (I use 10%)

Tea pot (very important!)

Tea strainer (also very important)

Boil your water, and do not let it boil away if you are using a saucepan. Over boiling the water spoils the taste. I am serious, it makes a huge difference. I use an electric kettle, so the water is never over boiled.

Pour some hot water into the tea pot to warm it up, swirl it around and throw away the water.

Add your tea leaves to the warm tea pot, pour in your boiling water. Cover the tea pot (very important!) Let it steep for at least five minutes. Do not pour the tea out before this! Tea is an art, it has to be done properly people!

Take a quarter teaspoon of sugar and stir it in the tea pot. Strain out your tea into cups, add your cream and sugar and enjoy the best cup of tea you will ever have. People come to my house and ask me to make them this tea, it is that good.  I have been told by countless people I make the best tea ever. I brag not. Well actually yes I do, because it is really that good. What can I say?

You might be thinking cream? Not with my diet or whatever, the fact is if you use milk, the tea tastes a little too watery. And it’s not like you drink ten cups a day. Unless of course, you do drink ten cups a day. In which case I suggest you cut down and settle for very well made morning and evening tea rather than ten cups of watery stuff.

Dhoodh Pathi Chai

It is just basic chai without using any water at all. So whatever number of cups of milk with an equal amount of teaspoons of tea, on medium heat in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and cook till you get the color (strength) you want, add sugar and strain out into cups. Some people will use a ratio of half water and milk. But I follow Nigella’s philosophy (“I don’t believe in low fat cooking”) and use cream and milk. Damn it is so good.

Masala Chai

Masala chai is just dhoodh pathi with some spices cooked with it. I personally don’t like this chai at all. But it is very popular with most desi people. It is a specialty of dhabbas (roadside restaurants and truck stops). You can add any or all of these:

Cinnamon (1 inch piece should be good for 1 to 2 cups)

Green Cardamom (about 1 per cup)

Ginger (few thin slices per cup)

Black pepper (ground- 2 or 3 per cup)

Cloves (I’d say 1 per cup- it gives a really strong taste)

Nutmeg (to taste)

I’ve given the minimum amounts as I feel these are really to overpowering and spoil the taste, but people seem to like it, so it really depends on your taste. The common dhabba recipe usually just uses cardamoms and cloves.

Kashmiri Chai

This tea takes a little patience, but it is oh so heavenly. And it is pink, the most perfect pink ever.

4 cups milk

4 cups cold water

2 tbsps heaped kashmiri tea leaves

½ tsp Baking soda

¼ tsp Salt

5 to 6 Cardamoms

1 star anise

3 inch piece of cinnamon

Sugar to taste

Finely sliced almonds and pistachios to garnish

In a saucepan add your cold water and all the dried ingredients (except sugar and nuts) and boil. Once it starts to boil, let it simmer for about half an hour till the water is reduced to about half a cup. Turn off the stove and add a glass of cold water. Pour this mixture back and forth between two saucepans to cause it to froth. Do this about 15 to 20 times (pouring from one to the other). Return the saucepan to heat and add the milk and sugar. Boil then simmer covered for about five minutes, leave the lid open a little so the milk doesn’t boil out. Strain out into cups and garnish with nuts.

Don’t forget to read this post on chai, on one of my favorite blogs: Communicating Across Boundaries.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge : Serenity

Serenity

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“My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.” Michelangelo.

Some more serene photos:

MyBlog

Ese’s Voice

J.Picks (this was my favorite)

From Hiding to Blogging

Uncle Spike

https://hersko1.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/weekly-photo-challenge-serenity/

Ungemaltes

Dear white lady, please excuse my curry aura.

Rural Indian Woman cooking food in the Kitchen

Desi cooking. It is the epitome of a love hate relationship. Love to eat it. Hate to smell it. The smell of spicy curry on rice is slightly different when it lingers on your clothes. Your walls. Your couch. Damn it even the cat.

It takes a small fortune on fabric fresheners, candles, and what not to keep our houses free from the infuriating curry smell. Curry which we cook many times throughout the week.  Dry wall loves curry. The entire house just soaks all that spicy smell up and that contraption known as the kitchen exhaust is a useless noisemaker.

There needs to be some kind of innovation in house making seriously, special materials for people who do a lot of eastern cooking. Yes I have to include the entire east because our lives depend on garlic, onions, and spices. And bak choy. Have you ever smelt the after effects of cooking bak choy?  Ugh!

We eastern cooking people are the reason the scent industry will continue to flourish, prosper and cause the remaining ozone layer to vanish completely.  We have cans of air freshener in every corner of the house, which we use fervently especially in winter when windows can’t be opened. Winter is the worst when it comes to curry…aromas.

The day of the winter concert my daughters were super excited to be performing (for the one millionth time). We were invited in the evening to watch them. My husband had forgotten about it and suddenly came down with every ailment in the book when reminded of the evening’s agenda.

I let him off the hook and offered to just go by myself. Even I had been trying to talk the girls out of it. (Don’t judge me, I usually get excited about watching them perform every year even after hearing the songs every day for two months from all three of them.)But it had been a very tiring week.

I was running late, I wanted to get dinner cooked before I left so the kids could come home, eat and we could just wind the evening up. By 7pm I am so sleepy I can fall asleep while eating dinner. Curry facials are not good for your skin.

Spaghetti and meatballs for the kids. Desi guy doesn’t like pasta. At all. So I had decided to cook bihari kababs that day for him. Biggest mistake ever. In my haste to get to school I just grabbed my coat after I turned off the stove and ran outside. Ignoring the yells of the spray cans containing various scented toxic liquids that decorated our house.

I herded the girls in the direction of their classes and then went to the gym to await the performance. There were no seats left so I had to stand at the entrance. Where it was nice and airy. Till my friend spotted me and dragged me back with her because she had an extra seat (she pulled her youngest out of said seat and sat him on her lap for the whole evening-I love my friends). It was crowded. Packed. You could smell snow and salt. And bihari kabab.

I felt like kicking myself. I whispered my horror to my friend who smiled and said, “yeah I wondered what you had been cooking. Great korma smell!”

“Bihari kabab,” I said.

“Well I don’t mind,” she giggled.

But the white lady sitting next to me did. A lot. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her stiffen. I saw her slowly rise and leave. To sit on some chair she was lucky enough to find in that packed gym away from me. Dear white lady from the winter concert at the school gym, I am extremely sorry, please excuse my curry aura.

desi-facebook-woman-india

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House Sold

Click to read on Dawn: http://dawn.com/2012/05/06/humour-house-sold/

I sold my house before I moved back to Canada, it was quite an experience and I discovered things I couldn’t imagine about people I have known all my life.

Remember the house I got renovated? I sold it. And I moved. But that is another story. Unless you have gone mad and decided to move half way across the world — and having gone through this extremely painful process myself I would not advocate it for anyone — never sell your house. First of all you should only sell your house, if it has a leaky roof, cracked floors, and crumbling walls. Or if a close relative has passed away and left you a mansion on Tipu Sultan road.

Selling your house is an uncomfortable process; it will keep you up at nights and give you plenty of indigestion. You will have all kinds of people invading your privacy requesting tours of your house at odd hours of the day. And they will want to know why you chose to paint your daughter’s room two shades of pink and why the kitchen counters are black. They will shake their heads unbelievingly at the ‘extravagant’ price, then bug you after you sell the house to someone else, why you didn’t inform them first, because they had their hearts set on it.

A house that you have lived in for a long time becomes part of you; it hosts your celebrations and shelters your rainy days. It watches your children grow and becomes their first friend; its walls hold up everything from little pink and blue bunny rabbit cut-outs to posters of sleek cars or rock stars with bad hair-dos. It provides a personal little haven known as the bedroom, where your moody teenagers retreat to when the world doesn’t treat them right. It listens patiently, never judging, never offering unwanted advice to the angry adolescent but pacifies them with the knowledge, that here, they are accepted. It sadly hears your fights and joyfully watches reconciliations. It guards every secret obsessively.

I miss my house. And it took me months to wind everything up. Twenty years of possessions are hard to get rid of. And you won’t believe the junk I had. Actually, you probably would because every Pakistani woman has an incredible imagination when it comes to recycling. Closets that were full of spare dupattas of cast away suits, clothes piled up for repairs or distribution to various destinations, shoes that had been worn out and forgotten about, hair clips, scrunchies and makeup kits that were never used. Stashes of candy, hidden from the children. I could almost hear my house moan sadly as I continued to deprive it of all its belongings.

The kitchen cupboards were stripped of countless empty ice-cream containers, unused dishes, utensils and plastic bags. Oh how we women adore our plastic bags! Of course my maid had a field day, and I felt a bit guilty at her bliss on receiving such trivial little titbits. I know my house will miss her too. The way she helped me scrub and dust out each and every corner was admirable, getting our house ready for the new owners as we reminisced and even shed some tears together.

Sniff. Enough! Never regret a decision, it wastes too much time. Just learn from it. Which gets me to the real point. When we put our house up for sale, a wise old person told us it is ethical to ask your neighbours first if they are interested. We did, fortunately everyone already had their own house. Neighbours are one thing. Relatives are another.

Never sell your house to a relative. Especially if you are the type of person with a lot of ‘lihaaz’ (read: doormat). That is where they get you, at your lihaaz. Because of lihaaz you will sell your house at a rock bottom price and then listen quietly as your relatives whine incessantly about how broke they are. They will also want to get it renovated some more before they move in. Never mind the fact that you still live there. Lihaaz aap ko mar day ga.

After the house is sold, your relatives will come often with the pretext of helping you wind up the house. They are actually coming to make sure you don’t damage any of the walls while moving out large and heavy furniture. Speaking of large and heavy furniture, don’t bother trying to sell it or give it to any of your best friends. Your relatives will do you a big favour by insisting that you leave everything and they will take care of it for you. Later they will complain to all and sundry that you left your broken down junk for them. That ‘junk’ that will later adorn their drawing rooms.

And then of course there is the large collection of electronic gadgets that you will leave for them. And they will have the gall to phone you up to tell you the stuff you left for them (that they had asked for, by the way) doesn’t work, and it is costing them a lot to get it fixed. So you offer to give them their money back… oops, you gave it to them for free. So what to do now?

Don’t let it come to this, heed my advice and never sell your house. Especially not to relatives.

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