Ice breaking with cousins!

You might’ve noticed that I avoid treating this blog as a diary of my daily encounters, but last night was an exception. A memoir I’d like to include. Something I’d like to go back to and enjoy re-living the memory.

Wednesday early morning, I fought the H1N1 controversies currently surrounding the world and got the H1N1 JAB, not because I’m freakin out and plan to avoid it like the plague, but because it is compulsory for those who go to Hajj, and my urge to perform Hajj (specifically this year) is stronger than my urge to avoid the vaccine! YES.. I have decided to perform HAJJ this year Inshallah (Coming soon -> Hajj-dedicated post)!

The afternoon was uneventful, just runnin’ around to prepare for THE evening ahead.

The evening was a gathering of cousins in my house. Sounds normal, casual and sorta what’s the big deal, right? Wait..wait.. let me explain. We are a huge family (Mashalla), not only that but intertwined to a great degree. My father-side cousin is married to my mom’s aunt who also happens to be the sister of my grand-mother, oh so so complicated you don’t even want to go there. The point is, it’s difficult to mingle with everyone in a family gathering (we have loads of them gatherings by the way!). What happens in all gatherings across the years is that cousins of similar ages hang out together and I’m talking about hundreds here, and we slowly miss out on the other ones, the younger specifically. We do ask about studies/work and the formal stuff every now and again, but we do not talk much about the juicy stuff if you like!

They were always there, always around us but not until one of those younger cousins got engaged, did we stop to realise that time took us by surprise! Now they’re grown-ups, they are ladies and are  getting married one by one. We’ve missed so much of their childhood, we do not want to miss out on their young adult phase. We urgently needed to break the ice, I repeat: urgently! 

Last night, we (myself and my sisters) invited 13 of those cousins. The once young and annoying (Sorry! if you’re reading this, that was when you were way younger, runnin’ around, screaming, crying and laughing out loud!), now mature ladies, aged 13 to 25, of elegance and rigid viewpoints!

In fact, they themselves had a not-so-cool image of us, they were flabbergasted when they first entered the house, seeing us fully groomed in young trendy fashion and ready to rock n roll, oh not that rock n roll, but ready to kick some fun! Lady Buth (one of the cousins) said she expected a formal dinner, everyone with their abayas on, on a dining table with plate mats and home-made dinner, obviously that was not the case!  We kicked off the gathering with some sight-seeing around my house, then random chit chats dipping nachos in rich cheese dips, jalapeno and the must-have salsa dip, gulping down popcorn in bulks and munching away chocolate bars! Then came the PIZZA! 3 large pizzas served with cheese sticks dipped in a sauce of choice (tomato or garlic – see, healthy ingredients!). Had the pizzas with chilled fizzy drinks to fizz us out even more!

Then, then, then… the serious bit starts, the GAMES! Hide and seek? No. Find the hidden object? Nope. Hang the donkey tail with your eyes shut. Nah! The games were confessional games to further break the ice and add some vibe to the gathering. The first game involved each one of us writing a personal question down, putting all questions in a bowl, each picks up a question and is forced to truthfully answer it. The game went super super good. For the second game, we had our names written on a piece of paper, folded and placed in one bowl and the same names again in another bowl. Two names are picked up at a time, those names exchange comments or things they “like” about the other. That was an eye-opener, we never knew what they thought of us, they never knew what we thought of them, so again this game went beautifully perfecto!

Junk without the sweets? A sin. We had rich red velvet chocolate cake served with frigid vanilla ice-cream, also, marshmallow chocolate (again!) cake done and brought by the cousins, the cake was as sweet as they are! The 3 course meal all in all could not get any better, or actually could not get any junk-ier, but let’s be logical here, one time won’t hurt, right? It’s not my fault if they don’t make up for it now, I suggest go for green salads, vegetables and fruits for a week to wash away the junk. E7m, I myself had more of the nachos during lunch today. So…Do as I say, not as I do!

My guests left the house at 11.30 pm, all dazzled with the amount of ice-breaking we did, very unexpected, very casual, very random. In 3 hours we managed to reveal the most discreet of life matters to each other. We managed in those hours to strengthen our bonds, to crash down the formal boundaries, to dissolve false perceptions, to achieve a level of equality and mostly to dig into each others’ lives like friends of the same age.

Whatever the ingredients of this night, it was sure a night to remember.

Family by chance, friends by choice!

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Salute to the Fathers!

Salute to the fathers, Salute to the Omani fathers from very deep within my heart!

During my course in London, a Danish speech therapist came over to me surprised, asking if I see fathers of young clients in my clinic where I come from. Hearing me proudly say “YES, in fact more fathers than mothers attend therapy sessions with their child” left her gobsmacked! I honestly do not know the source of her surprise or what exactly she meant by that. I can only assume and I will assume; maybe, because Arab men are usually perceived as Macho macho, hence the thought that they would show limited care towards their children? Maybe, she thought about the segregation of genders in my country, hence the surprise that I do actually meet men in my clinic? Other than these two reasons, I found the surprise rather shallow because what I see within the walls of my clinic is by far the most compassionate of relationships. A relationship that is devoid of lies, hypocrisy or personal interests. The all heart relationship between “father and child”!

I do not deny the role of the mother here, I only do not flaunt about it now because it’s the “default” setting if you like, a mother concerned about her child that is. You rarely see otherwise in almost all cultures. However, when the father takes the driving seat, when he runs for his child’s interest for whatever it costs, when the mother is at home and have never even met the therapy behind her child’s improvement, and the father brings the child in for a long-term fortnightly therapy session that could last for years (it happens). That’s the tender heart of a father I’m talking about.  

I’ll leave you with this true story that left me touched, disturbed and impressed in the same split of a second, while taking the case history of a child in clinic.

The Doctor calls me referring a patient with a complicated history of multiple abnormalities. A few minutes later, a gentleman, a lady and the little child are in my clinic. The lady sits on a chair, the child on another chair, sadly I do not have a special chair for children with hypotonia (very weak muscles), their sitting positions are difficult to maintain, someone needs to hold the child or else he’ll lean sideways and could fall down quite instantly. The father kneels on the ground holding his son with his arms, helping him maintain his posture while the child moves, jerks and twitches uncontrollably. 

I started taking the case history, asking the lady pre and post birth questions. I took it for granted (like I assume you all did) that she was the mother. She was apparently the paternal grandmother (She looked really young, it must be the pure heart she has that gave her the glow). After a few questions, I saw a few hesitations with back and forth looks from the lady and her son (the father), as if contemplating whether to trust me and expose the hidden bit or not, and they started… The child had been neglected the care of his mother since birth, or actually the mother has lost this precious son to suit her ego and her heartless family. The story is, after the child had been born, the mother astonished by the amount of physical abnormalities her son has, decided to run away from the hospital, abandoning her son under her family pressure that she will not enter their house with a disabled! The father and his mother were left or rather privileged with the responsibility of taking care of this young boy.

Not only do they care for this child, they show tender love and absolute affection beyond imagination. The grandmother showed repeatedly how blessed she is to have him. The child’s mother on the other hand filed a divorce, got her wish granted, re-married and has a family of her own now. She has never seen her first child after the abandonment in hospital.

I was left repeating “Subhan Allah” all day long!

Two generations on facebook!

Where do we draw the line? When do we hang the “STOP” poster up?

Facebook (fb) is a social network, it’s also an eye-opener! Through it we’ve seen images of relatives and friends in many forms, whether normal, good or bad. My colleague came to me yesterday, tears filling up her eyes, after she’d discovered (from a family member of hers) the “other” side of her teenage daughter in facebook. Her daughter happens to be in my friends’ list in fb and I sort of knew what she was up to all along. Honestly speaking, I assumed her parents approved of her acts, there were no signs that told me otherwise.

Teens of this era are difficult to understand, they know we’re watching, they know we have a “mouth”, but to draw that connection from A to B, nope?!  The daughter knows I have access to her profile and she knows I have a mouth, wouldn’t she suspect that I may use my mouth to tell her mother of her “hidden” identity? Of course it wasn’t me who exposed the daughter this time, it was someone else, but you get my point?

The world wide web has allowed us to wear masks and hide behind those masks to portray more of our “covert” selves. Either an image of what we really are deep inside but fear to show the world, or more of how we want to be perceived by others. Well, that was achievable to us on some level 10 years ago, because we were the pioneers of Internet users, we had no parent/aunt/uncle watching over us when we’re in our discreet life on line. Youth of this era on the other hand, have us as an older generation watching what they say and do, observing their hidden or “covert” selves unfold, and also view “how” they like to be perceived on the digital world. What happens is that they, unlike us, do not have the privilege of hiding. They cannot maintain that double identity,  they are forced to maintain a mono-identity in the presence of both (1) “us” – those who know the teen within his/her family surroundings (2) plus their social network of friends, to those who they strive to portray a different image in front of!  If the teenager is usually the rebellious character among friends, they’re left with no choice but to continue portraying that image in facebook. The twist is that if an adult in the family or a family friend is part of facebook, the youngster is exposed, we suddenly see their other or rather “hidden” side.

What’s really interesting from what I’ve noticed, is that teens albeit showing off their “cooler” side  to satisfy their friends, do not really care how they’re perceived by the older generation, it does not matter anymore. I’ve seen images that left me dumbfounded and others that shattered my nerves for days! That in itself is another question, why and how do they have the courage to ignore what “we” ( us who can contact their parents if we wish) think of them?    

Now this colleague of mine is blaming me for not telling her long ago, and is now expecting me to spill the beans whenever I see anything again. I would like to deal with matters in my own way if something like this is to ever come up again, because I wouldn’t like to break trust with the daughter or any other. I have youngsters in my list, with pictures of actions that would not please their parents much, but so far I’ve resorted to disapproval within myself or in certain circumstances discuss it with my significant others.

What do you usually do in situations as such? Do you approach the teen or their parent?

When do you usually take action? When they’ve crossed certain boundaries or do you issue warnings before?

Back. Wolverhampton. London. Courses. Eid

I had a good break, fully rejuvenated and fresh to start blogging again. Also, packed with great knowledge and a good boost of confidence to go back to work next week!

This is what my journey looked like, I’ll try to make it short and simple for you readers, so respect that and read on 😉

Have you ever used all modes of transportation in one single day, I proudly did for my trip from Muscat to Wolverhampton! Do I recommend it, a clear cut “NO”, it’s exhausting… but was great fun I must admit. We (the Mr. and I) were dropped off by car to the airport early morning, the 8th of September, took a comfortable flight to Birmingham airport, the tram to the train station, the train to Wolverhampton and our legs on a rainy evening to the hotel.

Wolverhampton:I expected a small town, I was mistaken it was a lively city just outside Birmingham. Fairly new, with shiny buildings, very different from those of old cities in the UK. The course was a 15-min walk from the hotel, not too bad, quite refreshing to start your day walking, considering the good weather of course. We’ve been quite lucky with the weather during our two week stay in UK this time, it doesn’t usually go that way!

The 2-day “Adult Stammering Intervention” course by two respected and well-known professionals in the field was phenomenal, in fact they declared that this was the last course they do together as one of them had already retired, call me “lucky”.

On the 12th, 4 days post-arrival, we took the train to London.

London:the city of diversity I’ll happily name it. You walk and hear 101 languages echoing back and forth, you do not feel outcast, you just fit in wherever you go. I remember hating London so much when I was younger, the last time I was there was with family, I was say 15 at the time. My father is not exactly calm, just imagine what he’d be like in an underground station trying to catch the next tube, with children roaming around fascinated by things they’d never seen before. His temper evaporates, then condensates on me to give me a tainted image of London for some 11 years, an image of rush and fury that is. London has definitely managed to erase that old image, I actually now understand why people go head over heels in London. I cannot imagine myself living in London, it’s too “hype” for my liking, but I totally understand those who love it. The city has changed drastically, it’s become exceptionally diverse.  Walking and staring that’s what you do when you’re going around. You just enjoy looking at people rushing, hugging their plastic cups of coffee in one hand (here we go with the love of coffee again!) and a bagful of papers or a laptop in the other! All minding their own business. I particularly liked the formal looks on people from head to toe, actually from head to ankles (in suits), their foots in casual trainers for a comfortable run to and from work place! What a sight. Love life, love London! 

Why was I in London again? Oh the course! The second course was the Palin PCI (Parent Child Interaction) for early childhood stammering, in simple language, Stammering therapy for preschoolers. The course was top notch, well structured and beautifully presented.

Practical for Omani culture? I don’t know! From the title you can tell what it’s all about; the aim of this therapy is to promote parent-child interaction, it’s achieved by recording video tapes of each parent playing with the child. Mother playing with her child (acceptable, but video recording this interaction, typically not!). Father playing with the child (not culturally acceptable, recording it, no problem). Go figure! I’ll have a hard time applying this exact strategy, I’ll have to make a few adaptions, until we’re more open to this notion of video recording the Ma’s and convincing the Fa’s that going down to your child’s level and actually playing can help in stammering. We’re a practical nation, the first thing parents usually ask in clinic after my long session of reassuring, explaining and choosing a therapy method is: “shai duyaat?” (Any medicine?). You just love them, so simple, get the medicine and go home!   

On the 20th of Sept, Eid was announced in London, we broke our fast one day earlier than family in Oman! I could’ve made it to Oman for eid, but it would have been extremely tiring to celebrate eid right after an 8-hour travel. Another reason or the “hidden agenda” to be more precise is because I had made plans to meet some special cousins namely; Miss.W, the well-known Kamakazy and Soulmate -yes, she’s behind the comments around this blog-!

This may sound harsh for some or illogical to many, but I enjoy Eid abroad just as much as I enjoy it at home. Eid has its special scent that follows you wherever you go! As long as I’ve got some family members around, I do not mind it one bit. We’ve had waffles and coffee for breakfast, instead of the meat and rice ( Arsiya- usually served on breakfast, day one of eid). Then, had the best shawarma anyone can ever dream of, in fact I’ve read reviews on the internet suggesting that it is the best Shawarma in the whole world. HEAVEN… Shahrayar can tell you all about it, he secretly got himself another bite of that heaven the next day (while I was shopping with Soulmate)!  

Not to bore you and prolong this post longer than it is now, I’ll leave you with the taste of shawarma in your mouth. Don’t bother getting one from wherever you are, that London shawarma was exceptional!

I’ll get back with more stories about this trip, oh and pictures also coming soon. No not of the shawarma unfortunately, I wouldn’t share the mouth-watering Tehini with my camera 😉

Little Mr.Hyper is ONE!

 
Just turned ONE!
Just turned ONE!

 This little Mr. Hyper has turned ONE! Um3azzan my sister celebrated her son’s first birthday last night…  

I was the photographer, and being the amateur photographer that I am and with some great urge to impress, I took a whopping 530 shots in 2 hours! I felt like I’m rolling in the middle, spinning in full-speed, clicking, clicking and clicking! I had high heels on and shooting kids requires a variety of funny postures from standing to bending to sitting to almost sleeping on the floor, giving me the best muscle ache anyone could ever wish for his enemy. It was well worth it at the end, I came home straight to my laptop, downloading and uploading! You just love the end-result, great pictures, great kids 🙂

 

Lessons learnt:

  • Photography and high heels, not a good match, well for a birthday party at least.
  • Warm-up before the event. You don’t want to get close to anything like my muscle aches now! 
  • If you want to capture the moment, forget the food, forget the fun, just capture!
  • Keep looking for the kids, I got a beatiful shot of my 3 year old nephew flirting with a girl in one of the corners. What a charmer!
  • Cameras do get overwhelmed! From a freeze mode in the store to the hands of a freak! My Canon kept giving me the “BUSY” indicator when I tried to take continous shots, I don’t know why that happened..
  • I really really need to learn playing both roles; the photographer AND the aunty. How mean of me, I took pictures of crying kids without offering a comfort hug! I also took pictures of little ones eating stuff off the floor, it was not until the boy chewed the stuff that I noticed!  Busy capturing the moment!!!!
  • I had to make sure I cover everyone! 
  • Be ready to speak in pictures, think in pictures, dream in pictures. I lost focus when I came home.. I saw pictures everywhere..  
Mr.Charmer

Mr.Charmer

Her Majesty Queen Cupcake

Her Majesty Queen Cupcake

Birthday boy in tears

Birthday boy in tears

Game is over everyone!

Game is over everyone!

 

 

 

 

5 years of togetherness

In celebration of my 5th anniversary with my very Dearest Mr.Shahrayar (just a nickname to go with Shahrazad), I thought I’ll share only “some” of my special secret recipe of marriage success, hmmm not really… Just a random note on a special day 🙂 

Before I even start to mention what we had done to make this successful, I must acknowledge and believe that no matter what we’ve striven to do in the past 5 years, it was God’s will that made us go this far, with His help with His guidance we saw light in every dark pit. “Alhamdlilah”, thank you Allah for the marriage I am in. I’ve been married to Shahrayar for 5 years now, I haven’t been granted the gift of motherhood yet, with all the sorrow that this may hold, I see a fruit with it, because it may be exactly that, that has brought me and Shahrayar close to each other. There is no one in our wee family but ourselves, we’re forced to bond :p

Marriage in many ways resembles a plant, any plant.

For a marriage to succeed you first and foremost need good foundation. The seeds you pick should be of good quality. Similarly, for marriage to succeed you need to bring together a couple who are both genuinely good. Like Allah says “the good for the good” (al6ayeboon lil6ayyebat). You bring them two together in good soil foundation; they have the tendency to grow.

Then comes the season…you cannot plant a January flower in June. Guessed it? It’s Compatibility. The couple should be compatible, mentally, emotionally, physically! In simple language = Chemistry 😉 

There’s all that, good foundation and compatibility –> marriage is the result, any marriage, but not necessarily a “successful” marriage. For a successful one you need to provide a good environment for your plant to flourish. For a plant to sustain a living it needs, oxygen, water, light and nutrition (Have I got my biology right here?)

♥ Oxygen – fresh and clean with no boundaries = love.                                                                      

♥ Water – clear and pure = trust and openness.  

♥ Light = focus on each other, let him be your no.1 priority.

♥ Nutrition = love, intimacy, passion, compassion… many of it in varied forms!

 

♥ Happy Anniversary, Happy Planting ♥

Photo shop incident

I went to a photo shop last night, wanting to develop some photos.

Me: “What’s the standard size?”

Salesperson: “4 by 6”

Me: “Are you sure? Isn’t it too small?”

Salesperson: “No that’s the standard size madam, wait, I’ll show you one”

He picks up a picture from the printer tray and shows me.

Salesperson: “Here…see!”

Silence……. a long moment of silence! I paused, just staring at the photo. 

It was a photo of a family relative who died in a tragic car accident only a few months back!

I wanted to interfere and say “Whose pictures are these?” but I remained silent. My heart shouts, tell him, ask him… My mind shouts, it’s non of your business, he is not going to do anything about it anyway!

I was in shock, gathered myself, took my USB drive, told the man I’ll come back later and off I went.

Why Speech Therapy?

I was invited to an international Speech and Language Therapy conference in Manchester in 2003 (? – if my memory serves me right). All invitees were asked to present  a short talk saying why they chose this field. For many, the answer to why speech therapy specifically was because it is a novel career thus promising a job immediately. For others, it was because it’s a noble career, very humane – as it involves compassion, sympathy (or I’d rather say empathy), mercy and kindness, thus very rewarding.. For me, this is what I had to say:        

——

 This particular question brings back to me some memory flashes of a tragedy that has befallen my brother (Malik) almost nine years ago. An intelligent and charming young boy at that time, my brother suffered a serious head injury after a road traffic accident which lead to massive complications in his speech abilities.

 Ever since, I made an important decision in life, and that is to dedicate the rest of my life in favor of those who are in need of a helping hand in order to be able to talk and express themselves just like everyone else.

 I hope my accomplishments will meet the expectations of my fellow citizens back home who are eagerly waiting for improvements in the field of Speech and Language Therapy!

 ——

 Dearest of all Malik,

At this very moment, I stand silent looking at your cheerful smile just in front of me. Your smile full of hope and bursting with optimism.

 Malik, will the day come when my words could immerse into your brain that has lost its glory since Friday the 25th of February 1994?! That’s a question we would never find an answer to, because God only knows.

 Malik I love you from the very deepest point in my heart.

 Malik