Friday, 1 January 2021

goodbye twenty-twenty

it is time that 2020 is put to bed. i say this knowing full well that its happenings have consequence for years to come. 2021 will bring more of the same. history rhymes and the stories of pandemics past tell us that this will be the worst of the season. when i shared my fears with omair a few days ago, he reminded me of the old proverb that the darkest hour is before dawn. 

here is what i want to remember of a year where there was so much to grasp at attention and so little luxury for it. omair and i welcomed this year at alexandra palace. it was a cold cold night. we had layered up and carried a thermos of chai to watch the skyline burst with spark and colour. i still remember the smell of gunpowder, the hiss, cackle and boom of the fireworks and the steam rising from our thermos. on the first day of the year omair told me that he was ready to make the move to bank vontobel in zurich. 

the season of change had begun.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

the limits of uncle ben's rice, vittles 2.9

stir fried brown rice with smoked tofu
i wrote a short essay for vittles, a food newsletter for these novel corona times. it is about uncle ben's. when i shared it with family, baba wrote back telling me that he had never been able to develop a taste for it. i must admit that i had assumed as much. he is very particular about his rice and prefers for it to perfectly steamed so that each grain is discrete. he is not keen on risotto for instance. 

he told me that the first time he ever had uncle ben's was in 1977 during his first trip to europe. it was hunger and a tight financial budget that compelled him to eat it. later on, frequent visits to the united states must have led him to eat it again. i did however learn that he has a developed a great taste for sticky rice (the way the japanese and south korean's eat it). what i loved most though was his closing line which reads, this is despite the fact that 'i live and was born in the land of basmati and god awesome seyla'.

head over to vittles to read 'the limit's of uncle ben's rice'.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

algiers | words and visuals

roman ruins at tipasa, algeria
a saturday in early march found us at the algerian consulate in london. finding it took some effort since it is located near a business park and there is little by way of markings for direction. it was a metaphor for the application process itself because the links on the visa section do not direct one to the required information and often refused to work. when i called the consulate, i was informed that the volume of application traffic could be the reason for this.  a combination of advice from our friends l and a and some persistence led to completed applications. our passports were returned to us in ten days with a tourist visa for single entry in april.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

goodbye twenty-eighteen

brunch at home on the first of january
i often found myself wishing that twenty eighteen would hurry itself up and end, despite knowing that a new year does not mean a neat and definitive resolution of the one past. how is it, that an even numbered year can have so odd a character? (see shake to remember if you need a reminder about the absurdity and the seriousness). the political flavour of the year was toxicity, at least as determined by the oxford dictionary which picks its word of the year as a reflection of the ‘ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance’. frankie boyle’s satirical stock-taking of the year reflected the very same sentiments, so i thought of recommending a ‘year in stuff’ as an anti-dote. but even in its materiality, it is inherently pointing fingers at the unevenness and peculiarity of the world we live in. 

Saturday, 24 March 2018

a rose is a rose is a rose, the aleph review

god gave us memory so that we might have roses in december
we made gulkand for the first time in the house in bani gala. the trio of rose bushes in our little but flourishing garden were alive with blooms and thorns. the petals had been used to perfume homemade strawberry jam and steeped in boiling water with fresh lemongrass or green tea as a tisane. our cat zubeida has a penchant for roses and she too feasted on the petals. despite all this, the roses kept giving. it is baba’s memories of his mother’s preserves and a profusion rose petals that led to the first jar of the gulkand. trial, memory and recipes from the virtual world informed. rose petals combined with coarse sugar were crushed using a mortar and pestle and placed in a glass jar. the jar was left in direct sunlight to trap the heat of the sun. this greenhouse effect warmed the contents, encouraging the roses to release their essential oils. it also melted the sugar, the syrup of which is essential to keep the roses from spoiling.

this is an excerpt from my essay titled 'a rose is a rose is a rose' which recently appeared in the aleph review. the aleph review is an annual anthology published by broken leg publication, lahore, pakistan. it is a print only publication and due to copyright reasons, i am unable to share more than an excerpt. for those of you who are based in pakistan, the aleph review can be bought at saeed book bank and london books in islamabad and liberty books in lahore and karachi. it is for those who love art and literature so please do head out and buy it.