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

Reminiscing, of road trip memories

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Road trips always take me back to childhood memories. My parents were very adventurous and both of them loved travelling specially when we were very young. I have so many happy memories of those times with my sisters in the backseat as we travelled to one place or another with our parents. Luckily being from the air force, we kept moving cities and each city brought opportunities for new adventures. On the night before the trip, my mom would dress us up in the clothes for the next day and we’d go to sleep all dressed up. The next day we would be carried to car half asleep, and the journey would begin. My mom would pack a meal for the way, sandwiches, her tasty pulao or something else.

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I remember eating our breakfast by a little river in Hyderabad one time and I remember the many many lunches or dinners where we’d stop by at a roadside hotel (or dhaba in Urdu which is a small roadside hotel typically for truck drivers serving very low cost and tasty food). My dad would give them our karahi(wok) or our pot to warm up, order naans and we’d enjoy the meal either in our car or sometimes even inside if they had a ‘room for families’. I remember my dad used to jokingly call them ‘greenu hotel’ because of the garish color of green most of these use to be painted in. Our whole family loved the truck hotel daal and we used to love trying that out during our drives.

I remember the excitement we felt as kids, especially if we were travelling at night. It just felt so adventurous to be up past our bedtimes and just sitting cozy and safe in our cars as we anticipated the arrival of an exciting destination or our home. Nadiya and I had endless games that we loved to play in our car. Of course there were many fights too. The lines in the upholstery of the backseat marked our areas and no one dare even inch a toe into the other’s area. When Waliya came we happily gave her the tiny area between the middle of the two seats and she had to stay in that. (With no rules for booster seats or seat belts, actually few cars even had seat belts in those days, we could move around freely).

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A special favorite were trips to our grandparents house in Lahore and once our parents gave us a surprise. We thought we were going to Rawalpindi, from Sargodha. Suddenly we saw some of the famous Lahore monuments but they quickly distracted us telling us they had probably built replicas where we were passing through. We even believed them. In our defense it was night time so in the dark and night lights, many cities look similar, TILL we saw some WALLS billboards and we knew. WALLS ice cream had just arrived to Lahore and another reason we loved coming to the city! Anyways our excitement was beyond imagination:)

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We had games we would play in the car. Nadiya and I had one where you had to count the number of VW Beetle cars you found (We called them foxy) and the person finding more would win. The rule was, you had to see it the window on your side or it didn’t count. We even had our version of a computer game that we played with our finger being the figure and us having to jump over the obstacles we found on our side! Good old days really. I feel kind of sad when kids today have to be entertained with DVD players and phones and tablets in the car. Because seriously the creativity that came out of boredom lead to amazing memories for us!

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All photos above from my parents photo collections taken on various trips through the years. A white Corolla has been a part of our whole childhood. Except for a few in recent years, most of the cars in my dad’s life were White Corollas:)

Today whenever we make our own road trips, it always reminds me of these memories. Our family is different with my husband and I coming with different expectations so its definitely not the same. My husband’s and my idea of travel are different in many ways too. I like to explore more and of course take lots of pictures. My husband wants to relax mostly and it becomes kind of a challenge if I push him too much or if we end up not doing much. (You know how it feels when there’s a super crabby person in the car when you’re stuck with each other on a long drive?) Ten years down the road, we still haven’t mastered the balance but in between our cracks we are slowly building our own road trip memories repertoire.

Do you have any special road trip memories from when you were growing up?

Would love to hear.

Thanks for reading. Lots of love.

Letters from Anya. Letter Writing for Toddlers and Preschoolers

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After seeing this idea on a cup of Jo (which happens to be one of my favorite blogs btw), I have been doing this with Anya and it is so sweet! I cant seem to find the original post to link up, but the idea is basically to get your little one to read out a letter that he/she wants to write and you write it for them. The first time I asked Anya to tell me what she wants me to write, she loved the idea and has since then made me write multiple letters and cards for her daddy and our families.

Love the way this idea helps them formulate their feelings and convey them even before they actually can write themselves. Some of the letters that she has made me write have been hilarious. Its adorable!

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What do you think? Will you try this with your little one?

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

On embracing your roots

THIS IS ANOTHER REPOST FROM MY PREVIOUS BLOG.

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When we’re raising a child in a country like America, having been raised in a developing country ourselves,  sometimes when we see the political and social turmoil going on in our birth country, we might feel like distancing ourselves and our children from there. Or at the least, we might feel embarrassed to be connected to a country which has such a negative media image. And if WE feel like that we will most probably pass this on to our kids. Even if most of our kids won’t consider Pakistan THEIR country, still, they will forever be connected to it through us. And I feel its important to develop a confidence and a sense of pride in them about their roots. Just like being from a well-knit and stable home gives you a strong base, so does knowing that the culture and country your family belongs to has so much good about it, even if others might think otherwise. And it actually is true, the best thing about being multicultural is being able to see the best of two worlds. No country/culture really is good or bad, some might have more challenges but there is good in each way of life. Whatever we might do or become, most of us will be connected to the lands we come from in more ways than one. And it would be awesome if our kids thought of their multicultural childhood as an advantage.

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Some simple ideas for giving our kids a good connection to their roots are

– Teach them to appreciate the language, whether they speak it or only understand it. Expose them to it as much as you can and as they grow older explain to them what a great advantage it is to be bilingual1

– Telling them about the little things that you miss about back home and why.

– Telling them stories of your childhood and the places you lived.

– When you travel back to visit family, make sure you don’t just get busy shopping and eating and meeting your loved ones, make time to explore local sites around you.

– Introduce them to music, and don’t forget to include local/folk songs. I personally love music and there is such charm in those traditional tunes and dances. You Tube is a great resource for these.

– Tell them stories of inspiring people from the country. (It will be a great reason for you to collect these stories, because unfortunately most of the news out from Pakistan at least is negative. This is one of the reasons why I have a board on Pinterest where I collect them. Link is below2)

– And as they grow older, you can also talk to them about the challenges the country faces, and why. And the things some of the people are doing to help their country.

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Do you have any other ideas on giving your children an appreciation of their roots? Would love to know.

Thanks for reading and lots of love.

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1 A previous post on raising a bilingual kid and here’s another one with Urdu specific resources.

2 Here’s a link to my Pinterest board where I collect positive stories out of Pakistan.