Wednesday, 29 October 2008

How to draw the line between naivety and mercy

Today we went to a shopping street in Vienna. Normally I don't like to go shopping and often prefer online shopping anyway ... As we entered the street two women came towards us and gave us (me, my sister, and mother) roses while saying "all the best" several times.

I thought "hmm .. is it world's women day? or any other special day I do not know about?".
At the same time my sister was thinking "hmm .. is some political camp promoting for the next elections?"
Neither of us were right. After the few moments we were thinking this and that, the woman said "please, make a little donation for the children". I didn't even ask for which children, which organisation, etc. I simply obeyed.

My father thinks that this is naivety, that they used me and I allowed it. I think that I was simply taken by surprise and had not enough time to think. But what if I had time to think about it. Would I be able to say no and give the roses back??

The same thing happened to me as I was in India. At every traffic light when the car stopped , several children came to my side of the car and begged. It is difficult to say a firm "no" in such situations, especially to children. In foreign countries it becomes even more difficult ... they don't understand what you are saying and often do not care anyway ... the people around you look at you to see how you are going to respond, etc.

I think women are being more used in such situations. In India they never asked my brother, but only me, saying "didi didi, khana khana" meaning "sister sister, food food".

In short: it is hard to be a woman in this world, I'd say. :-)

Monday, 6 October 2008

Clearing out

I want to move away from here. Basically, we decided to move away as a family, but I seem to be the only one who takes this decision seriously and started preparing right away.

I started to clear out all the boxes etc. in my room as I don't want to carry everything with me. It is amazing how much useless stuff one can collect over the years. I think that one should throw some of the stuff over board every once in a while and remember the effort in order to avoid keep collecting things like that in the future ... eventually arriving at the optimal state where one only gets things he really needs.

Within the box of mails from my friends back home, I found very old notebooks of mine in which I apparently took notes of 'significant' incidents in my life. One example: on 19 April 1996 I apparently watched 3 Ninjas for the first time. Then, on 26 April 1996 I watched the second of the series, and on 3 May 1996 the third. According to other records I watched the first movie for the fifth time in 11.3.1997. I must have had a lot of free time at my hands back then ... :-)
In other boxes I found a lot of pictures. Real old ones you know ... printed on real paper :-)
I threw away lots of them and didn't tell my sister. I know she will make a fuss about it, even though she certainly has long forgotten that they even existed. I only told my best friend, and now she threatens me to use this knowledge in order to blackmail me for the rest of my life. :-) Maybe I should choose my best friends more carefully :-)

My decision to get books from the library, rather than buying them, turns out to be very wise. I only collected books I loved reading and wanted at home so I could randomly open up a page and read a few pages, such as the Wodehouse books, the Hamza Yusuf books, etc.

So I'm through with the boxes ... well, kind of ... but there still is a lot to do and I wish that I can soon arrive at the mentioned optimal state ...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ramadan is here

Again the blessed month of Ramadan is here. 1.8 billion muslims around the world will be again united in the same worship of fasting from dawn to sunset for a whole month. Our prayers just before fast-breaking, at which their acceptance is much more likely than at other times, will be for our brothers and sisters in faith and for all the people around the world who are facing injustice and difficulty.

By postponing our basic human needs, we will yet again experience, to some extent, what other people in other places have to face every day ... Hopefully, this will make us see that giving charity is the most natural thing to do with the blessings we have been given.

By weakening our material bodies through fasting, our spiritual senses will be more attentive and accessible. Therefore, during this month, we should concentrate on activities to purify our hearts from character defects and diseases.

I wish every one a blessed month of Ramadan. May Allah enable us to take the most out of it.

I would wish to spend this month in a muslim country, where the people around me would share the same feelings as I do and would just ... understand. But I don't. I'm planning to spend the last third of it in Istanbul though. And who knows ... may be I don't come back.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Rhett&Link: NYC Food Cart Song

Here is another great video from the online comedy duo Rhett & Link. You'll love the just-before-hugging expressions of the food-cart vendors.

Make sure to check out their other Alka Seltzer Great American Road Trip videos.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

In memory of Randy Pausch

Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return. (Quran 2:156)

On July 25 2008, Randy Pausch died after his struggle against pancreatic cancer with which he was diagnosed in September 2006.

I came to know about his existence through his last lecture at the Carnegie Mellon University, through which he inspired and motivated many people around the globe.

I wish his family and friends patience through this difficult time. With my deepest sympathy ...

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is the latest animation film from Dreamworks Animation. It is one of the best animation films I've seen so far. A lot of "laughing out loud" moments, funny details --> highly recommended !!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Finding Answers

Some of you, who follow my other blog, will know that I'm occasionally teaching programming to small groups of undergraduate students. Often, during the class I feel that I'm doing something wrong, because my students seem to understand the things in the class, but cannot solve the problems I give them as homework. Today I came across this quote, which pretty much sums the reason for that up:

" If you haven't really struggled with a question, you cannot digest the answer even if it is handed to you. " (A.H.Almaas)

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Recipe: Halwa with Cheese - (Turkish: Peynirli Irmik Helvasi)

This dessert reminds me of the good old times. Not that these (present) times are that bad or that much different ... maybe I'm just getting nostalgic, because I miss Istanbul where most of my old times have passed.

Last week I tasted a different version of this dessert with cheese and it was delicious. So I tried it out myself. Here is the recipe:

125 gr butter
500 gr semolina (Turkish: irmik; Hindi: sooji; German: Griess)
1 lt hot milk
2 cups of sugar
200 gr unsalted cheese (use a sort that melts well and you like the taste of)

In a pan melt the butter and add the semolina. Cook for 10 minutes on medium heat while constantly stirring. Add the sugar and stir for another 2 minutes till the sugar dissolves. Add the hot milk, stir again. Take the pan from the heat, cover, and set aside to rest for 3 minutes. Add the cheese and stir till the cheese melts completely. Serve preferably warm.

p.s.: if you like Indian food you can also add some cardamom powder along with the sugar.

To feel at home I would have to share this dessert with my neighbours. But in Europe one does not have that kind of relationship with his neighbours. Even though I would love to knock at the next door where an Indian family recently moved in and would love to ask: Namaste ji, kuch sooji ka halwa lijiye? But I've never seen them before, so it would be inappropriate, right? ...

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Moving Windmills

The human being is a remarkable creature ... even the sky is not the limit anymore.

One example for human imagination and determination is presented by William Kamkwmamba from Malawi, who, after seeing a picture of a windmill in a textbook, decided to build one for himself ... just like that :-)

For the video click here.

Considering the fact that many of us cannot even fix the simplest things at our homes, we really should be inspired by this video and try to use our potential more ...

Sunday, 22 June 2008

About Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama

When I was a kid, my mom used to watch "A slave Isaura" on TV. I remember that I couldn't watch it for long because I couldn't stand the evilness of the baron. I still tend to cry when I see injustice. Not that much out of sadness but out of pure anger when I cannot do anything about it. That is why I hardly watched Blood Diamond or Schindler's List to the end.

With "A slave Isaura" I was introduced to the struggle of black people in the US. This and the history of the Indians (or rather the end of their history as the white men invaded their lands) were always the two things that came to my mind immediately when I thought of the US (now there is also Bush, of course).

You can imagine therefore how much I like the civil rights movement of the black people. Unfortunately, I could not read a lot about it yet, but I will inshAllah. The following blog entry of Imam Zaid Shakir was therefore a very welcome lecture and analysis as well, because I'm interested in the elections in the US and am counting the days when Bush will finally leave.

Here is the link: Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama, and the Fate of America

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Purification of the Heart

I started reading the 'Purification of the Heart' by Hamza Yusuf. I loved it from the very first page, that is the acknowledgments section :-)
The introduction is also great. It gives interesting information about the spiritual heart, of which we believe that it is centered in the physical heart.

Excerpt: " The heart is centered slightly to the left of our bodies. Two sacred languages of Arabic and Hebrew are written from right to left, toward the heart, which, as some have noted, mirrors the purpose of writing, namely to affect the heart. "

Excerpt: " We know that the heart starts beating before the brain is fully fashioned, that is, without the benefit of a fully formed central nervous system. The dominant theory states that the central nervous system is what controls the entire human being, with the brain as its center. Yet we also know that the nervous system does not initiate the beat of the heart, but that it is actually self-initiated, or, as we would say, initiated by God. We also know that the heart, should all of its connections to the brain be severed (as they are during a heart transplant), continues to beat. "

In the introduction Hamza Yusuf concludes that as opposed to (mainly) western views that the brain is at the center of our being, it is in fact the heart that is the center of our being, the human consciousness, and conscience.

He says that when we look at the world and ask ourselves wholeheartedly from where all this injustice, hatred, etc. comes that we will find that they are all rooted at or caused by people with diseased hearts.

But the heart is designed to be in a state of calm, it longs for peace and harmony. To insure such a state, we have to examine our hearts, look for diseases and try to cure them. This book contains the description, causes, and cures of 25 diseases of the heart. Enjoy !

Thursday, 5 June 2008


because everything starts like that ... they start with God. (Hamza Yusuf)