Singing into Slumber. A collection of our favorite Urdu lullabies

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One favorite childhood memory is of bedtime when my mom used to lie down with us every night. She would tell us a story followed by a few loris (lullaby) she would sing to us as we drifted off to sleep. Nadiya and I would get to take turns to choose the story and I remember how irritated I used to feel because she would always pick Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I don’t blame her now though because mama told that one really well! When I had the top bunk bed I hated that mama couldn’t lay with me so she invented this system where she tied a dupatta to the top side and every time I tugged at it, she would give it a little tug back so I knew she was there. She would lay with us for a while and usually, we’d drift off with her lying in bed with us but once in a while, I remember watching as she quietly slipped out of the room. And she did this for us, lay with us for bedtime till I was at least 12 I think. The loris (lullabies), were a few favorites of hers which she would sing to us almost daily and they have stayed with us after all these years. We still remember them so well and I have sung them for Anya over the years. Among them is one that my nani (maternal grandmother) made up in her sweetest broken Urdu for me when I was a baby. As we got older sometimes we would complain and ask mama to sing us happier songs so she would laugh and sing the latest Shehzad Roy songs for us (Here’s an example. Major nostalgia warning if you grew up around the same time). It was a very happy, peaceful time and even remembering it now gives me the same, ‘feeling very safe’ feels.

I myself though, have had a love/hate relationship with bedtimes with my girl. Anya has always had a hard time falling asleep and I haven’t been the most patient mom in handling that and so our bedtimes haven’t been quite so peaceful. But even then I have enjoyed singing the same loris that my mom sang to us after I lie down with her and we say duas and cuddle together.

Here are some of the loris that my mom used to sing to us + a few that I love singing to her at bedtime.

MAMA’S LORIS

Chanda kahe Lori mei

Do akhiyan yeh do sakhiyan

My nani’s Meri Rani I love You

 

MY ADDITIONS

Uzair Jaswal’s So Ja

Kaavish’s Nindiya Re

Junoon’s Neend Ati Nahi // Also love Zoe Viccaji’s cover of Neend Ati Nahi

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Do you have any favorite bedtime memories? Do you sing loris to your little ones? I would love to hear especially if you have any Urdu lori recommendations. Would love to add more to our collection:):)

Thanks for reading. Lots of love

ALSO My husband’s music because some of the tracks make for great relaxation music //

ALSO FROM PREVIOUSLY ON THE BLOG: These road trip memories  // Big memories from the almost decade spent in our little house  //  A friendship story + lots of memories // Scents and memories from a family reunion // Memories of my mother-in-law

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Waking up in Trump-land.

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What a week it has been! Just a few days ago, even on the day of the elections I thought about how exciting it will be for my little girl to see a woman president. Despite the fear  of what the opposite happening could mean, I think most of us felt THAT sure of the outcome. And then on Tuesday night, it felt like the ground under our feet was taken away and everything we knew about this adopted country was wrong! Could America really elect someone who had spewed so much hate throughout the last year, who had uttered unimaginable things that many of us could not even repeat to our families? Waking up the next morning was terrible, knowing what had just happened the night before. Living in a blue state Alhamdullilah, we might have been a part of our own bubble and it was even more unexpected for us!

As parents, I think most of us worried about breaking the news to our children. Because whether we had explicitly included our children in our conversations about the election, our kids got that one of the candidates was a bully and a bad guy, and they wanted ‘Hilary to win’. We had to wake up that morning, put our shock and our fear aside, and tell our children calmly that the ‘Bully’ had actually won! Right after breakfast I told Anya that I had to talk to her about something and broke the news to her. My little girl was so disappointed and sadly told me ‘ But I wanted Hilary to win’! I explained to her that we did too and we were sad too but it was okay, that we can give him a chance and after a few years we get to choose a new President again. I told her what is great about America is that there are laws and rules which will prevent Trump from doing any scary things that he said he would do. And that satisfied her! Somehow it also felt like the perfect time to remind her just one more time that it was even more important to choose kind over mean, in words and actions. And that if she sees anyone teaming up against a kid because he/she was different, one should always stand up for them! She proudly replied, ‘Yes, that’s what we should do!’

For months, Anya has been excited about the elections, following the debates alongside us, and playing “dabates” with her dolls. ‘Mister Trump again!’ became her favorite thing to say as she overheard his name in the news almost every other day as a new controversy sprang up.  I think most of us specially us immigrant/minority citizens of this country have been left wondering what these results would mean for our children and specially for our daughters…

On Wednesday night, I showed Anya HRC’s concession speech, specially the part where she addressed all the little girls and Anya was so proud, eyes shining! I especially wanted to show her how gracefully she took the loss. We talked about that , that even though she must’ve been so sad that she didn’t get to be the president how kind her words still were and how she was still smiling 🙂 Anya spent the rest of the evening pretending to be Hilary Clinton, carrying around Chelsea Clinton (her Dora doll was Chelsea for the evening) and their pet bunny!!

As Immigrants, as Muslim-Americans, of course we are scared of what this election result can mean.. but fear is just what we don’t need. In fact on many levels it was fear that lead people to put their trust in an untrustworthy person and we don’t want to walk down that path! America has a lot of greatness in it and us immigrants have witnessed enough of that in our time here to get disheartened by recent events!

For our kids sake and for ourselves, we have to work even harder than before for our children’s better future in this country! People fear the unknown. I personally have realized that we need to be even more active in our communities, talk to more people, share and listen with an open mind! We can all start in our own circles with friends / family / neighbors who have different views than ours. Let’s be kind, let’s speak and listen to understand! On social media since the day of, it has been so disheartening to see all the negativity! To the extent that I even witnessed working moms blaming stay-at-home-moms for not supporting successful women which lead to Hilary’s loss! This is exactly what we do not need!

In HRC’s words ‘Let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.’

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There will be a better day!

Let’s start in our own houses and in ourselves to counter hate with love!

Thanks for reading you guys!

PS: I have missed this space and it feels good to press ‘PUBLISH’ on this.

ALSO FROM EARLIER ON THE BLOG: Hate cannot drive out hate // This country we call home

Thoughts on ‘Ho Mann Jahaan’

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I was so excited when I found out Ho Mann Jahaan, was coming to our area and last weekend I took my little girl along and we went to see it.  (Over the summer while in Pakistan, she went with us to see a few of the Pakistani movies that were out and knowing this would be kid-friendly too I thought it would be fun). Because of the mixed reviews I had read, I went in with low expectations and 3 hours(!) later left with a good feeling!

Since Khuda Keh Liye, there have been a number of movies made on social issues that have been absolutely amazing, the best of which include Bol and Dukhtar, there is still a place for commercial, lighter movies that can be more widely enjoyed. Movies that also stay true to Pakistani Entertainments’ roots of being family-friendly, the way Pakistan’s cinema and TV entertainment were in the old days and that we have heard about all of our lives.

(Pakistan had a flourishing cinema industry till it’s decline began in the late 70’s. Pakistani Television produced classics that are still remembered in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and has again boomed in the last decade or so)

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Ho Mann Jahaan was a visual treat much like most of the movies I saw over the summer with my family. Beautifully shot, it made Karachi look picture perfect. From the beach to the Railway station scenes and the beautiful tree lined roads as the characters sped on that scooter with the pop of red helmets! I loved the styling, from the bohemian inspired interiors especially the house belonging to Mahira‘s character layered with beautiful art and textures (I saw Khaadi’s name in the sponsors and their presence really stood out) and well as the beautiful rooftop scenes were such a treat to watch!

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But then most of the recent movies have been really pleasing on the eyes (including this and this) and I liked this one a little better because despite the simple story that it was, it tried to convey a few messages in a non-preachy kind of way. The underlying message of letting our children dream their own dreams is an important one for our culture, where wanting to be an artist of any kind is seldom encouraged by the parents whether they belong to any class of the society.

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I liked that the main focus of the movie was the friendship between the three characters and because of the chemistry between the characters, it was very relatable. I loved each of the parent-child relationship that was shown and how each had glimpses of so many Pakistani parent-child relationships. Like the dad who spends his lifetime’s earnings to send his son to a top university because he himself was never able to. And the parents who emotionally manipulate their son because they think they’re doing what’s best for him by not letting him pursue his dream of becoming a musician.

The music was a big plus for the movie. I like how our movies are not trying to do ‘filmy’ songs and instead giving us such a beautiful variety of a soundtrack to remember for years to come. Over all for me, it was a simple, feel-good kind of a movie that was not perfect but enjoyable.

I do feel that they could’ve done better in many ways, specially a stronger story-line, and better editing. I know Bollywood does movies of that length but I really feel 3 hours is just too long to enjoy a movie.

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There’s also something else that makes me excited about this revival of cinema. You know how because of Hollywood as well as American TV shows that are literally watched all over the world, American culture is not that much of a mystery to people who’ve never even been to the States. In an ideal picture in my head, one day Pakistani cinema like this might find a way in the Foreign movies category on Netflix and those people who only get to see Pakistan when it happens to appear in shows like Homeland, will be able to experience a first-hand version of it. Thoughtfully made cinema can tell you so much about a culture, the good, the bad, the thinking, the relationships, the expectations, the lives, the hardships, the people and maybe giving others a better understanding and hence maybe more empathy? Art has a huge quality to be able to connect worlds and to bring together people in ways that politics never can and I would hope one day in the future, Pakistani cinema could bridge the gap. As my daughter grows up American with Pakistani roots in a world that tells you there is so much negative about that part of the world, I hope Anya is always able to see the other side. Maybe one day cinema from Pakistan will help her connect to us, our culture and where we come from a little better. Maybe through them, our kids will know us a little bit better!

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And for all of these reasons I feel so passionately about supporting the movies that are coming out, and despite the many flaws just making an effort to go see them! I have been a little put off by some of the movies that I saw in the last year but it feels like since the revival of Pakistani cinema of the last 2 years, we are slowly heading towards our own niche. One where we are not trying to be like Bollywood, and instead merging the strengths of our flourishing music and TV drama industry and using it to give our cinema a beautiful feel!

Have you seen Ho Mann Jahaan yet? What did you think?

Hate cannot drive out hate

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Since the Paris Attacks and now the San Bernardino Shootings , and even more so, since finding out the killers happened to be Muslims with backgrounds from Pakistan, our hearts have been extra heavy. Cannot write in words, how very sorry we feel for the lives cut short and those forever affected from such tragedies. These people that kill in the name of the same religion that I love and practice, in the name of the same Prophet who I wish to emulate in my life, have also killed and injured scores of Muslims all over the world (like this horrific incident just last year). Yet to the rest of the world, they are us and we are them!

After this latest incident, the next morning as I woke up Anya and got her ready for school, I couldn’t stop thinking about raising a Muslim-American in today’s times. It’s scary. As is becoming more mainstream after every such incident, the cycle of hate keeps growing. And it breaks my heart. Will this girl of mine be hated by some around her as she grows up for the color of her skin, the faith she practices or because her parents were immigrants? This girl of ours, who loves asking questions about God who she calls Allah, who loves to link all the beauty she sees around us to Allah and who loves talking about Him, this girl who once made a song about Allah and was singing it loudly as I shopped and tried my best to not let my nervousness show. Is that day coming sooner than we thought when she will realize she can’t publicly do that anymore? My proud little American-Muslim, at what age will she realize we have to be careful about certain aspects of our faith in public because of the misrepresentation and how someone else might take it? (eg: AllahoAkbar a common phrase used by Muslims and a part of the daily prayers has been used by militants before attacks and hence has become one of those phrases we try to avoid uttering too loud when we’re in public even though some of us were used to casually saying it in conversations) Will someone around her one day tell her to “go back to her own country”? She loves her America. How will it feel if one day it doesn’t love her back quite the same? It saddens me beyond measure as I imagine a world around her that is fearful of her very presence, where she could possibly be required to carry a ‘Muslim ID’. Where because she is Muslim she possibly can’t dream of being the President of her own country. Just last week she spent the whole evening pretending to be president so she could ‘rule’ us!

I watch her these days, her confidence, her talkative, proud little personality, and I pray for a better, more peaceful world. Where the voices of love are louder than those of hate. Perhaps that is exactly what is wrong with the world, what is required to end this cycle of hate. That we respond to hate with love. In our own little worlds, in our surroundings, in our interactions with people, lets all respond to any hatred we get however hard it can be at times, with love and break this cycle. Like they say what goes around comes around and maybe one day just one person at a time, this might be a better world for our kids.

The concept of going for ‘afsos’

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One of my favorite things about calling two countries ‘home’ is being able to value the good things of each and trying to pass them on to our next generation. And you probably know that already if you have been reading this blog for some time. Recently my husband and I got thinking about the concept of offering condolences or ‘going or afsos’ when death touches any family; the tradition that comes from our Pakistani/Muslim culture. I have experienced the loss of my dad and my husband has lost both his parents and his eldest sister. And each time we have had friends come over for dua or ‘afsos’ or to share their condolences with our family and this time around when his mother passed away, we talked about how great this little tradition is and how we should make sure we pass this along to our next generation.

Let me mention a little about this tradition before anything else here though. Back in Pakistan as soon as news reaches of someone’s passing, friends/family/neighbors, everyone tries to visit the family as soon as possible and pray alongside the family for the departed. Some bring food along, some take over the home and other issues that have to be dealt with in such situations. Those who cannot make it because of distance also make it a point to mention the loss and offer their condolences the first time they meet after the incident. It is usually referred to as ‘afsos karna’ which would translate literally to something like ‘expressing sadness’. If someone is not able to be there at a happy occasion, that is forgivable but not calling or not visiting a family when there is a death, is never forgotten or forgiven! I remember our parents taking us along to visit families who had just lost a loved one and at that young age, we figured out that however awkward it felt, it was something that needed to be done.

As my husband and I talked about it, we realized that this tradition of passing our condolences does multiple purposes. One, it forces us to pause from the rollercoaster of our lives, and be reminded of fragility of life and the reality of death.  Two, it teaches us to be there for someone however difficult and uncomfortable it can seem in that moment. Three, even if you don’t have the right words to say just your taking the time to visit means a lot to the family. Four, it gives the family who has just gone through a tragedy a way to share memories and stories and be able to pass through this grief in a natural and healthy way. At such occasions usually, the visitors are also reminded about their own lost loved ones and share their own stories which can give courage to the bereaved family.

The more we thought about it, the more we realized it’s a beautiful tradition which we should make sure our kids see us doing so we can pass it on to them too.

Have you experienced this? What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of love

#EidulAdha2015

Eid ul Adha for us was on the 24th of September. Here’s a little photo story of what ours looked like this year 🙂

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Eid prayers at our local mosque on a beautiful blues-skies and fall-is-in-the-air kind of a morning.

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A potluck at my sweet friend’s house the same evening with some festive décor, good food and fun-time-hanging-out-with-friends for the kids as well as the adults!

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Another potluck Eid dinner at another friend’s house the next day with some tasty food. This group of friends goes a long way back now and we’ve come so far together. They’re the closest thing to family that we have here and the kids are literally growing together. Alhamdullilah.

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This year again we did Secret Santa like last Eid. Thanks to a sweet khala, all the kids got to make their own treat bags full of yummy candies to take home. (Photos of the kids getting their treats by my friend Nabila.)

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Made these little goodie bags for Anya’s friends at her new school. Loved making them with her and explaining why we want to do this. Gift tags via here.

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Hope your Eid was fabulous too.

Thanks for stopping by and lots of love.


Check out previous Eid celebrations here, here and here as well as other Eid related posts here

IN PHOTOS: Eid ul Fitr

Eid-ul-Fitr fell on July 17th for us Muslims in the United States. Here’s a photo story of what ours looked like this year.

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Getting all the gifts/goodie bags ready the night before Eid // Rushed Eid morning with a quick breakfast followed by giving Anya her Eid gift (I took her to Target and let her choose her own this year, and told her she’d get it on Eid day) and a quick Skype with her khala and baray nana.

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Followed by a day full of Eid gatherings Alhamdulllilah. Above photos from the gift exchange for kids at the Eid Chai at one of our friend’s place. We tried doing our own version of Secret Santa as there were a lot of kid to do gifts for and it worked pretty okay! Photos, thanks to my friend Nabila.

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My husband wanted us to pick some flowers for Eid so we stopped over at our local U-Pick flowers location and made ourselves a beautiful bouquet.

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Dropped over to our neighbors to give them a little Eid gift along with a card that we do ever year!

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And Anya’s Eid Cards for our family this year 🙂

Hope your Eid was extra special too!

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.