Archive for March, 2014

March 25, 2014

I now own a Canon 600D & my Mphil Degree

by Khanum

Last few days have been real awesome for me. Alhamdulillah !

I  finally bought a new DSLR. The gorgeous Canon 600D with a Khaki and most useful Nikon Bag. The combination is very strange I know but a photographer gotta buy what a photographer gotta buy, you know. Then the most amazing thing happened, My Mphil Convocation. I now hold a beautiful and a hard earned Mphil Degree.

Let’s talk about Canon. As you can see in the picture below, I am unboxing my new baby.  I have to say I loved the way it fit in my hands. The body is very smooth and the 18-55mm lens, is absolutely a happy news for me since my last digital zoom camera didn’t have a lens this cool. I love the way I can work with this lens.

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Now, Let’s talk basics.

How much did it cost?

There are different prices offered by different sites on the internet in Pakistan for this camera. I had a rough idea of 55 to 60k in mind. But Alhamdulillah! I can’t explain to you the amount of happiness I felt when the shopkeeper stated the price as 52k and 5 hundred Rupees. The brand new 600d body with 18-55mm lens in 52k. Not bad! Then I bought a couple of few things with it, like memory card, lens cleaning kit and a nikon bag. Now you may ask why a Nikon bag? Well, I may buy a National Geographic bag now to be honest because a small bag is not my thing. I didn’t want a purse. I wanted a bag. A real big bag. Nikon offered me that and not canon so I bought it.

How I got it?

Well, for anyone interested in buying a dslr, It’s very important that you buy it with your own money. Self reliance is the best policy, I must say. This way, nobody can question your intentions, underestimate your dedication and taunt your family for spending too much on you. (Which is usually done by relatives)Most importantly, It shows how sincere you are with your dreams and can learn to value your things.

I pooled currency for this beauty by saving every penny that I earned through different freelance work and my school job (Yes I quit school in 2011 but I saved half of the salary in bank to utilize in future). That’s how you acquire immense happiness later on. It’s alright if people call you kanjoos or whatever. Don’t pay any heed to meaningless words. Its your dreams you gotta work on, so have your priorities set.

Secondly, don’t be shy to sell out old gadgets to buy your dream dslr. I sale out many of my old things to pool money for something new and exciting, quite often. This is like recycling, you know.

Why Canon 600D?

Alright, now that’s a real question that deserves a new post, exclusively on this subject. I shall do it, soon. iA!

I have been checking out my new toy since the day I bought it and have been experimenting with different settings. The first shot I took was a family portrait. I wanted my first click to be a meaningful one… and what else can be more heart warming than the sight of your beloved mother smiling at you ? so I clicked it. I will iA share the shots soon. Till then, Have a great week, everyone! 🙂 Happy living!

I wanted to share The gorgeously out of focus pictures taken by my superb family on my convocation day  but let’s skip that- and did I mention it was raining ?! Ah! What a lovely day it was when I fell because of those heels and slippery roads in university. But Yo! nobody saw, so that’s alright. lol

 

 

 

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March 19, 2014

Is Losartan Potassium Her Enemy?

by Khanum

My protective force field, Mum, has fallen ill. She’s gone weak and it’s terrifying for everyone in the house because without mum, nothing–absolutely nothing is awesome. I am cooking alright, but mum is mum. We have a maid that’s supposed to keep the house neat and clean but mum is mum. My maid fools me into believing she has cleaned all the rooms but she lies at times.

Mum used to take care of everything and now nothing’s in order. I am developing some diseases of my own now with all the sadness and stress in life. I want my mum back, healthy and smiling.

But that’s not what the doctor wants, apparently. Here’s today’s revelation. The LOSARTAN medicine prescribed by the doctor is having some serious side effects on my mum’s health. To study this case further, we all sat down and decided to read the medicine pamphlet. The kinda note that is found within the tablet case, having all the medicine nonsense on it including the ingredients used in it plus stating its side effects.

Here’s what I found out and I want to question these medicine people for inventing a medicine that fixes one disease but becomes the cause of many others.

The note says,  Losartan might cause:

  • Asthenia
  • Fatigue
  • gastro-intestinal disturbances
  • Angina, (OMG! ANGINA? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? )
  • Headache
  • Sleep disorders
  • Rarely Hepatitis (WHAT!!!!!!!)
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Erectile dysfunction?? (THANK GOD my mum is a female)
  • Anaemia
  • and so on!!

Oh my God! Now Tell me , HOW is this LOSARTAN supposed to help my mum get better? She’s getting worse day by day. I am worried.

March 17, 2014

Photowalk at Harappa & Those who Prayed there

by Khanum

Have you seen life after death? I saw it yesterday, at Harappa.

On a morning that promised a hectic day ahead, I embarked on a journey organized by prestigious Photo Mazdoor to the ruins of centuries old Indus Civilisation.  My cousin brother also joined me on this photowalk but unfortunately due a death incident in his family, he had to get off at Sahiwal and hurry towards his home.

I carried on.

I like travelling, to a certain point. I love exploring new places to a greater extent, but what I dislike about my exploring routine, sometimes, is when I miss my salat during my travels. There’s always an option to find the spot somehow and pray, if not possible then do Qaza prayers when you get back at home, of course, but still– the Muslim inside feels burdened when prayers that are supposed to be prayed on time just slip out of hands. And yesterday, I felt this burden again when I saw a group of people offering their prayers at Harappa.

Here’s a little Interesting recap.

Harappa is one challenging place to photograph. Being a photographer, I say this because everything around there is lifeless. That’s right. That’s the status of life there.

Utterly barren, devoid of warmth and full of history lessons that are perhaps not meant to capture but to merely acknowledge. The place I feel, is more designed by Allah Almighty to take heed from in this century. Yet photo mazdoors did a great job at digging up graves. I mean, we all literally did best at photography there by photographing the impossible place ever. Some people found pretty birds there to capture. A beautiful shot , I must say, taken by a photo mazdoor.

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Photo Mazdoors made a quite a noise there by arranging BBQ in the middle of ruins! No joke. 

Everywhere I looked, everywhere we all looked, there were just white-brown sands. Graves, Bushes and colorless trees as if they were mourning the times gone by and excavations marks that told how modern men were determined to excavate the remains. I , for one, believe in photographing the details and objects that go unnoticed and voices that go unheard. For this I became almost obsessed with the bruised dirty feet of this small beggar boy sitting near the graveyard. His feet told all his history. 

But then came a surprise for me and my friend, Ayesha. We noticed something extra ordinary there. I wish I had captured that beautiful evidence of extra ordinary life. Subhan Allah! There stood a beautiful tree at the side of a small place dedicated to Masjid for prayers. Every tree around it was dull, too dark in color or either not so pretty to look at or even notice. But this tree was — this one particular gorgeous tree was so Fresh and so Green that my friend and I kept looking at it for quite some time.

Then after lunch when we were packing up to leave the lifeless place behind, I noticed a guy from the group standing at that place and offering his salat. Subhan Allah! Then there went another. One, two , perhaps more than 3 men I noticed, prayed their salat at there, one after another. I admire them for this act of piety. How I wished I could also join them, stand behind and offer my prayer before it gets too late but I don’t know why, I didn’t dare go there. I am always shy to offer my prayers at a public place, in an open area. It’s something that always makes me miss my prayers on travels. Sometimes there’s no water for Wudhu, at other times I am too shy to get up and do it. It’s my error, I fully acknowledge this. But watching those few good men, glorifying Allah’s Name at that barren place, despite the hurdles in way, filled my heart with a strange hope, happiness & confidence for prayers in future travels.

The whole world is a Masjid for the believers where we can worship Allah Almighty. No one has an excuse to miss prayers for this reason.

I will , in shaa Allah, make time and space for my salah during travelling as well. And I concluded, there are 3 things that a Muslim should always carry with him when he/she embarks on a journey.

1- Compass for Qibla detection

2- Praying mat

3- And water for wudhu

To Photo Mazdoor team, I am grateful for the well organized photowalk. Every team member is friendly. The chief organizer himself is a like a good younger brother of mine.

They always make sure the trip is secure. This time even a family joined us which was great. Photo Mazdoor always makes sure that breakfast/lunch and every tea break is a healthy one. The water bottles distributed to the participants is always sufficient, Alhamdulillah. I remember how they made a special announcement on the Qila Rohtas trip, about dangers of dehydration there and gave us Nestle Water bottles with instructions to keep drinking water during photographing the place. There’s no doubt that they work hard.

However, here’s a little suggestion that I feel could make their future travels even more deen friendly.

A little cooperation required for making time and space for salah.

Since we go with them, and there are different people on every trip with different needs and lifestyles, It would be great if they include the praying point in their routine and announcement as well. If there’s no proper spot for prayer, they should locate one and announce that those interested in offering their prayers, especially females, they should head towards that spot. If bathrooms are nearby for wudhu, it’s alright but sometimes there are places where clean water is not available, in that scenario, extra water bottles should be offered for wudhu. People should be assured that no person would be left behind if they stop and make their prayers first. This way, if they make it a part of their announcement and arrangements, those who want to offer their prayers would be guided well and assured comfort. I, for one, would be more comfortable at announcing that I want to offer my prayer without drawing attention to myself. Otherwise, I keep debating inside, on every photography trip, whether to raise my voice or not when I can’t spot a clean and out of sight place for prayers.

I hope Photo Mazdoor would consider my friendly suggestion as they always welcome suggestions and even complaints. So generous of them. I wish the team all the best for future trips and extend my regards for the efforts they put in to make their photowalks interesting.

I would upload my photography of the place in the coming week, iA. 

March 13, 2014

Who are the people of Taqwa? (Muttaqin)

by Khanum

1-Those who spend in the way of Allah

2- Those who observe patience and control their anger

3- And those who forgive others out of Love for Allah and in hope to attain His pleasure and Mercy

Assalam o alaikum everyone! Happy fajr and Good morning!

None of the qualities mentioned above are easy to acquire. Especially the 3rd characteristic. How can you forgive someone so easily who has inflicted pain upon you with purpose and aim. People who have wronged us can’t be forgiven so easily. We want Allah to deal with them severely and some of us possibly want Allah to throw them in the hell fire. It’s definitely not an easy task to forgive those who deserve punishment. But what’s even harder is to forgive one’s own self for the sins committed.

How do we do that?

I was up all night and was surfing the internet for some French and Arabic  learning material , I would say half of the night was spent aimlessly, just wandering the streets of internet , but then I came across something useful. I came across Kalamullah site. It’s one great source for Islamic learning. I honestly have used this link for my exams preparation in the past as well. 2 hours ago, I was guided by Allah to watch Nouman Ali Khan’s absolutely emaan packed Khutbah at that website. Who are the people of Taqwa? (Muttaqin)

I cannot explain to you how beautifully Allah speaks to us when we are down, lost and drenched in sins without even being aware of it. He speaks to us even then, in that state of tattered emaan and uplifts our spirits. I almost wept at the concluding part of this khutbah. It feels like this is you, your sins and your story on the table Allah is referring to and trying to console you through this speaker in the video. SubhanAllah! Even if we all gathered together to find peace in this world on our own, we wouldn’t be able to acquire it fully, for the peace given by Allah to His slaves when they remember Him is something incomparable. You find true peace only when you’re re-united with Allah  after doing something bad and repenting on it.

I recommend anyone reading this post, do listen to this 30 minutes and 54 seconds khutbah.

May Allah help us forgive ourselves, forgive others and surrender our hearts to Allah so we can be forgiven by Allah Almighty in return as well. That’s the key I guess, We should let go off our anger and hurt for Allah’s sake. For Allah’s sake alone.

March 12, 2014

Potato Soya Koftay

by Khanum

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Updated May 2014: Because I accidentally deleted some of my media files from the blog, You won’t be able to view rest of the pictures that were initially attached with this post. My humble apologies for that. please, continue to read

I’m officially the lady of the kitchen, now. Before I turned 25, I stepped into the home kitchen only when I was inspired. But now, things have changed. I have no other option but to step into the culinary battle zone everyday, due to my mother’s recent resignation from the Kitchen Chef post. So I did little improvisation in my cooking principles, and have set some new rules on home ground.

1- Everyday is a brand new day, therefore, If I am to be forced to take over kitchen, I will do it my way. And my way is, Everyday a new dish.

2- Goodbye to ordinary tasteless pulses, traditional vegetable meals and plain recipes.

3- Experiment in the kitchen is a must. You can’t handle it? Don’t eat. Chutti karo.

4- I have to take 2 days off in a week at least to regenerate my skills and energy. Which means, my family has to go on diet for two days.

5- And finally, Absolutely, No telephoning the neighbours and aunties and every possible or distant relatives to invite them over for lunch, to showcase my recipes. *If somebody still wants to gift me anything as a reward, that’s totally fine*

And now, The recipe. Potato Soya Koftay!

In my last post I told you guys about the organic garden we have. This is what inspires me now to create good food. So yesterday morning, I noticed the coriander and soya leaves were finally ready to be cut. So I cut them off and my goodness! The fresh smell it had. Heaven! My mother couldn’t contain her happiness and started shooting me. *Shooting me as in with camera, not with a gun*

She photographed me as well as made some funny videos of me doing the work. I wish I can share some videos with you all in the future. 

So after I was done with the cutting, I realised I still hadn’t decided what I wanted to cook for the day. My mother got hold of a food magazine and there it was, Ala ka scram! Potato Soya Koftay, snapped beautifully and giving off delicious vibes. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with the fresh soya that I had discovered in the garden recently. So without any delay, I started my version of the recipe.

And I swear, I never ever looked at or read the recipe card for the dish. That’s how I do it. A good bite or a good quality picture of any recipe is enough to imagine the ingredients used in it. Believe me! Stop wasting time on reading recipe card and watching those endless masala masla TV programs. That’s why I absolutely love bbc food. They make it quick, push you to experiment with the limited ingredients available and turn you into a versatile bomb chef.   

Ingredients Used in Potato Soya Koftay

Divide the recipe into two halves. 1- The gravy. 2- The koftay.

You all know how to make Gravy, right! It’s the basic masala  used for Pakistani dishes. If you unfortunately don’t know that yet, no worries. I am going to list the ingredients here. The rest of the “how to make it” part is something you should do yourself. SO you need:

1– Chopped Onions – Fry them brown in Oil

2– Chopped Ginger and Garlic / Or Ginger garlic paste

3– Yogurt

4– Sliced Capsicum

5– Small chicken pieces

6- Sliced Green chilli

7- Asian Spices , you know the usual.  Salt it according to your taste.

I prepared the gravy first, put it aside and then started working on the koftay. I used 4 potatoes and boiled them.

The ingredients used in the potato mash are:

1- Generous amount of soya leaves

2- Two bread slices (Soak the bread in water if your potatoes aren’t soft and you want to have a smooth mixture, but if your potato mash is already soft, use dry bread)

3- Mayonnaise

4- Black pepper and Salt

After the mash is done, you need to shape them into small balls.

Once you have your koftay ready. You need to coat the koftay with 2 more ingredients to have that crispy brown layer when you fry them. So coat them first with Corn flour, Step 2: dip into egg, step 3: generously coat with bread crumbs. Fry them and then finally , place the koftay (Potato soya balls) onto the gravy. Serve with Roti and yogurt chatni.

This is one dish that’s so light on the stomach that I ended up eating 5 of those koftay. Seriously, I am ruining my diet.

P.S. Excuse the photo quality, kindly. I’m photographing with my cell fone these days, so you’ll have to suffice with these for now.

March 10, 2014

Organic Gardening, Future Plans & Me

by Khanum

Today morning, was extra ordinary. I swear!

Background Story

For the second time in life, I finally found my peace, my happiness after loosing hold of it somewhere in the middle of living. The first time I had contentment and such peace was when I was 19. Life was not only beautifully productive at that time, but also very meaningful. I had a sweet routine. Time was flying but so was I.  I had time for University from morning till noon. Then from zuhr till Asr , I had a routine for reading Quran, exploring its stories, wonders and mysteries. Then from Aser till Esha I had plenty of time for tutoring my neighbour for her 2nd year exams. And then  before I would hit the bed, I had time for my own University assignments. I was genuinely productive and happy.

But shit happens, Right! It happened in my life too. I lost my sight my vision. Everything changed after I came back from my trip to Turkey and jumped into Mphil. I don’t know when and how it all became about EARNING and REACHING THE TOP that I stopped noticing the beauty of other things in life. I never had time for my own mother and family.

But no more. No more job hunting. No more pursuit of degrees. No more, the mad chase of bling bling. I have decided to say goodbye to everything else for sometime and focus only and only on my family, my home, my face (yes I am serious) & my life with Allah Almighty.

So this is what I did today. I did gardening with my aunt.

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Today’s Story

Last night me and my aunty decided that it’s time for me to step in and grow some vegetables in our organic garden if I want to have my own business in organic farming some day. We already have salad, coriander, lemons, mint and some other things grown at home but not potatoes or spinach. So we did some calculations and it was concluded that we need to expand the home garden, have some beds arranged for vegetables and practice crop rotation.

Oh boy! I was thrilled. And this morning, I began my gardening training by planting some pretty flowers.

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This entire bench shown above was set by me. Not only this, I also moved some grown up plants from small beds to larger ones. The moving and shifting is not that easy, but it was fun to dig and then plant. Now the debate at home is about “The Bench“.  I wish to paint this bench pure white. While my mother is of the opinion that I should leave this bench alone. No messing with its natural beauty. What do you think, should this bench be painted white?

Now Moving on to the Salad, mint and other green things.

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These are our two mint beds.

A corner dedicated to Salad leaves.

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And! The Famous Clover Leaf

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Pansy Flower or as we call it, (The doggy faced phool) we have loads of these along with some other flowers with very difficult names.

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And there are some strange old ducks and toys too. Doing of my mother. While aunty focuses on plants and I do the photography, my mother makes her way into the gardening by decorating it with toys. Strange but sweet! Here are few of the things she has as decorations.

Beautiful ducks. Pigeons. A pair of British Laila Majnu and Pigeons. And .. Another duck made of plastic.

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I intend to have a bird bath fountain for the garden. But let’s see when I can manage to buy it. Anyways,

That’s it for today. In 2 days, as soon as the baskets we ordered for salad bed arrive, I will be having lessons on how to grow veggies. The first thing I am going to do then is snap it for my dearest baby blog.

Assalamo alaikum!

March 4, 2014

La Tour Eiffel et moi – Take 2

by Khanum

Wait–wait! Before you jump to the wrong conclusion let me just break the news to you all.

YES!!! I am obsessing over Eiffel Tower alot but no I am not in love with any French guy to come to this point of insanity. I am simply having awesome free time at hand and a blessed season to do anything I like and want. My mind is BOOMING with creativity! And out of the many things that I am doing these days for fun, this tops the list.

Ya-ha-hoo! I am drawing and creating my honest version of art. Mum thinks I’m dying over La Eiffel tower, trying to get the sketching right but I think am just trying to live my dream of travelling the world and city of lights through these sketches, that I do daily. I cant explain in words, the joy I feel inside while doodling. Its like I am actually there, the details of the picture, the angles, the turns, the measure, the colors. It all makes me feel like I know this place. Like I am there. Alive and kicking!

Ahh! I wish I get to travel the whole  world Universe. Till then, Let’s enjoy this newly found hobby.

I created this miniature Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning. Image (5) - Copy

Then I ruined it accidentally by introducing colors in the picture : ( I just wanted to look it elegant but I forgot I am good at bizarre art only. Elegant and neat sketching is not my cup of tea with biscuits made of chocolate.

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I went ahead and classically ruined the piece more. Giving it multiple dimensions.  Artist’s mind, you know.

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And then I did the most amazing thing. I actually created something good out of the sketch of sole structure. Thankfully, I had scanned the sketch of the miniature Tower before using water colors on it. So After epic-lly failing at color scheme. I transformed my Eiffel Tower sketch with a bit of digital magic using Pic Monkey.

Tada! I created this !!!!!

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 Amazing, isn’t it!  So amazing. Alhamdulillah! The way we can play with sketches using software and the way we can learn to create more new things and grow more in the field of arts. Its amazing. I am actually personally in love with this version of the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to add something more but then could only find these birds cum chicks to settle on the trees.

I feel like I can turn it into a post card – both digital and print form – with some extra doodling. What do you guys think?

Oui?