You know you are Desi when…

I don’t want to make other races feel left out or anything and I am sure a lot of you could relate to the following traits, but there are just some things that really let you know you are desi.

You know you are desi when…

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“We are out of groceries” looks like this.  Desi people have this insane fear in the back of their cranium somewhere that when the apocalypse comes we won’t have enough groceries. So we should always be prepared with a surplus, no amount of groceries are ever enough.

You know you are desi when…

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Your freezer is full of containers that are highly misleading as to their contents.  For example you will not find yogurt, ice cream or cream cheese (who keeps cream cheese in the freezer?) in any of these containers. Surprise! If you are desi you will know that they all contain some type of curry. You can never have too much curry, never know when the zombies might come.

You know you are desi when…

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This is something you use for an earache.

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You have used these for toothaches.

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This solves every gastric trouble in medical history.

And this…

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…is the solution for every other ailment under the sun.

You know you are desi when…

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…every cupboard contains a bag …that contains countless bags. Every. Cupboard.

When the zombies come we will have plenty of bags to tie them up in. Of course up here in Canada we won’t have a zombie apocalypse,  that kind of stuff only happens in America.  We will of course send the bags to our American neighbors. Polite Canadians.

You know you are desi when…

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This bin is overflowing every two days.  I fear the day when garbage pickup will be scheduled for every other week.

You know you are desi when…

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…you still think the kids are feeling cold.

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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.

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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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Desi Problems versus White People Problems

Last summer when I took the animals offspring to the park one beautiful lazy Saturday, I overheard a ‘white guy’ conversation about ‘white people’ problems. He was complaining about what a pain in the ass his ex-wife was. I felt sorry for him, of course I don’t know what her side of the story was. Maybe he was just a pathological liar. Some months later in a different park, I overheard a conversation between a young  wife and her husband. I wonder if this makes me a pathological eavesdropper?

Anyways she was very loudly telling her husband just what she thought of him. Both these people had a lot of complaints and it was funny to me because ‘desi people’ problems are so ridiculously extreme compared to (some) white people problems.

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White Husband Problem: “Man my wife was so pissed, I forgot our anniversary again!”

Desi Husband Problem:  “Vat the hell is this? You call this roti? I wouldn’t feed this to dog on street! I’m going to my sister’s house!”

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White Wife Problem:  “My husband is such a jerk, he never puts the dishes away after washing them! I am so totally fed up of his crappy habits!”

Desi Wife Problem: “Hai Rubba! Vite men vash dishes?!”

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White People Problem: “Oh my God I still can’t decide where we are going to go for vacation this summer and I need to book seats or we won’t get them in time!”

Desi People Problem: “Niagara Falls? Do you know how much ve vill have to pay for parking just to see all that vater go down a cliff? Ven it starts going up, tell me, I vill pay to see that.”

White Mom in the Morning: “Honey wake up or we are going to be late!”

Desi Mom in the Morning: “Oye kumbakhton! Get up lazy good for nothings before I bring jug of ice vater!”

White Girl Problem: “My mom said I can’t have like more than $300 to buy a dress for the semi-formal can you like believe that?”

Desi Girl Problem: Desi Mom to Daughter : “Semi-formal, vat semi-formal? How do you expect to be a doctor if you are always out for mutter gush and not studying?”

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Would you like to add any problems?

(all pics from Google..just google Desi problems!)

Weekly Writing Challenge: Leave your shoes at the door!

This is an article I wrote for the humor section of Dawn Images (Newspaper). Leave your shoes at the door! 

My shoes are at the door, and I put ‘his’ on. He has tips for bachelors, desi style!        Glossary for non-desis:                                                                                                       Saas-Jee: respectful for mother-in-law                                                                               Sali: literal: sister-in-law. Slang:jerk                                                                                          Salla: literal:brother-in-law. Slang:jerk.                                                                            Susur: father-in-law. Susura: jerk/idiot etc.

Marriage

So you are about to take the big step?? You’ve given Mom the go-ahead to find the perfect girl. Good for you — it is time you settled down, not getting any younger right? Just some advice, don’t go for the looks (God knows what they look like under all that makeup), don’t go for the modern girl (she’ll keep you at the end of a leash), don’t go for the status (daddy will always be downsizing you at get-togethers). Go for the orphan. Really, I am not joking. Go for the orphan.

I know what you’re thinking, that this is some kind of pathetic joke; that’s because you haven’t met the in-laws yet. So you’ve seen a girl or two and met their families; nice quiet folks, polite and interested. It’s a trap, all part of the plan to snare unsuspecting, happily unaware innocent guys like yourself into the most complex and thorny role in the history of man. The son-in-law.

You think I am some jealous, lonely, scheming bachelor trying to keep you from marital bliss? Believe me man, there’s no such thing! I’m in it up to my neck, trust me. Married for five years now, or should I say I was sold into slavery five years ago by my parents with the connivance of my married friends. They couldn’t deal with my freedom — traitors. I am doing you a favour, giving you the inside story.

Before you are married, your soon-to-be mother-in-law calls up your mother to ask how you are and how your job is going. She cooks nihari (your favourite) and sends it over with your soon-to-be respectful young brother in-law. She and your future sister-in-law pick up the latest designer shirts for you when they go shopping and hope you like it, if not they get it changed. Future mother-in-law knows all your likes and dislikes; after your mother, she is the one who is most concerned about your well-being. Until you get married.

You remember that story about the kids who get lost in the forest and this nice little old lady lets them into her candy house? That’s the stuff I am warning you about dude!! She’s gonna sink her teeth into you. After you get married the only time your mother-in-law phones is to listen to her daughter’s complaints about you and your family. She doesn’t talk to your mother because your wife always reaches the phone before anyone else, no matter where she is in the house she can hear the phone ring and it’s always her mother calling.

When Saas-jee does talk to you on the phone, it is to inform you that she needs to go somewhere and she’s giving you the honor of driving her there. While you are driving, you will have to listen attentively as she tells you how to live your life and the errors of your ways. You will be required to make sounds of agreement, and nod your head in the affirmative; never, ever speak, even to agree. What you have to say is inconsequential, you must only nod.

Gifts will be bestowed upon you on birthdays, anniversaries and Eid. The apparel is usually last year’s sale leftovers that were going at 80 per cent off. And if you think there is no way you would be caught dead in a parrot green kurta, think again my friend, think again! You have no idea how your sali searched every shop in Ramazan, whilst fasting, to find you the perfect kurta. Sali.

The only dish your wife’s rude little brother brings over is your wife’s favorite, which coincidentally, is some weird tasteless concoction with an even weirder name. You are informed it is French and given a patronizing look by your sala, who has incredible tolerance in dealing with your inexperienced, simpleton ways. Sala. Beware of Daddy (susur jee), the once jovial, back slapping, ‘so pleased to have you as part of our family’ gentleman. You whisked his princess away, you don’t treat her right, and man he is no longer pleased to have you as part of his family. He will let you know this, often and publicly. Be prepared beforehand and have your doctor prescribe you some heavy antidepressants. Always take at least two before attending his dinner parties, that way you’ll be totally out of it and won’t realise you are the butt of all his jokes. Susur(a).

Never think of older sister-in-law’s husband as an ally just because you are in the same boat. Big mistake; he’ll sink your boat to ensure smoother sailing of his own. He lets you believe he’s on your side, but after you get married, he gets promoted. He’s Big Daddy’s spy, he’ll sell you out just to get an approving nod from the old guy.

And that’s the inside story, just a second, phone’s ringing, “Hello? Yeah I’ll be there in 10 minutes. What? Be there in five? No, no it’s no problem at all. Five minutes, I’m coming.” Sali. Do you have a painkiller?

Desi Mom: Parenting 101

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I was born and (mostly) raised in Canada. My parents were clueless FOBs (fresh off the boat) and I blame them for my thoroughly awkward upbringing.  I was a total geeky loser in school, yes right up to high school. My post is absolutely not related to my traumatized childhood, I just wanted to get that off my chest.

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In the many years I spent in Pakistan I learned the importance of plastic shopping bags and yogurt containers. Also that if you aren’t quick at weddings when they signal dinner, you will find there is no coke left. Or chicken broast. So don’t be shy.

Raising five monsters kids in Karachi has given me, besides nerves of steel and the amazing ability to not go pee for  48 hours, some multicultural expertise I feel I must bestow on non-desi moms.

1. You can live without water: When there is no electricity for 9 hours straight you can count on running out of water. The kids need a shower. What the hell do you think baby powder was invented for? Douse those little buggers with it. Sprinkle it in their puppy dog smelling hair and dust it out. Not only will the greasiness be replaced with powderiness, the powder will absorb all further sweating. Inevitable since there’s no electricity and its 40 degrees in the house.

2. Never throw away plastic bags: Keep plastic bags handy in the car, in all your handbags and purses even in your jeans’ pockets. Teenager 2 always got car sick as a little boy. I could catch his involuntary projectile of gastric juice without blinking. Plastic bags are also good for when there is no gas station on a road trip. Or if you are in Karachi, where the gas stations are so dirty your child would prefer to poop his pants.

3. Don’t buy toys: You know very well that once the box is opened it takes about 3 and a half minutes for the charm of that $35 toy to disappear completely. My mother-in-law could keep Middle Child busy for hours with her empty plastic pill containers. The allure lay in the fact that the containers could be closed and opened again and again and again and….

4. Kids need to be spanked: Your kid needs to know you are the boss. If you think “let’s talk about what you are feeling right now” and “we need to think about the consequences” is working than you are a dummy mummy. That is Junior knowing he got away with it by showing remorse he certainly doesn’t feel, he or she is already planning the next escapade. Spank that kid! Just ask Russel Peters…”Somebody’s a gonna get a hurt!”

5. A good sweater can be used for at least four siblings. Oh yes I did. In the span of ten years. We still have the sweater.

6. Never praise your kids in their presence: Always ask them why they can’t be more like your sister’s children, your cousin’s children, your neighbor’s children, your brother-in-law’s children, anybody’s children. It keeps them competitive, no of course it will not hurt their self-esteem.

7. Always one up other moms: Don’t let your sister, your cousin, your neighbor or anyone else have the last word on their children’s achievements. Whatever they say is 50% exaggeration, beat them with their own rules. Example? Your child got her black belt last year. So what if she was only five?

Stay posted for more Desi tips.

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