A Year In Hijab

I knew I embraced the hijab early last year because I remember my first ‘holiday in hijab’ – Abu Dhabi, March 2013. But, I wasn’t sure exactly when I began to wear the hijab. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I got an email reminder yesterday telling me that today was to be the anniversary of performing Umrah and deciding – this is it – I want to wear a hijab. My past self must have sensed this was a momentous decision and worth recording for the benefit of her future self. I’m glad she did this for me. Continue reading “A Year In Hijab”

What Role Models Are Made Of

My dad arrived in the UK as a teen. He’d have loved to have gone to school but he had to work to support his family in Bangladesh. Whatever moderate amount of English he speaks now has been picked up through his career in a grocery store and a never ending string of restaurants. Needless to say, my dad can’t write in English (only his version of shorthand when taking down curry orders – see image, aww!). Continue reading “What Role Models Are Made Of”

Dear Diary

Dear Diary

My friend gave me a beautiful notebook – around the time I started to seriously write my novel. It turned into a ‘diary’ for my novel…. some days I wrote what was going on personally or why I hadn’t written in my novel since the last time…

But every time I sat to write, I wrote the minimum of:
– date
– words written that day
– total word count so far Continue reading “Dear Diary”

Divine Intervention

Sceptics can scoff but here’s another experience that makes me think – wow, there is a God and I’m being looked after…

My phone goes on silent but is set on a daily alarm to wake me up for fajar (dawn) prayer. I’m holidaying in London for a few days and completely forgot that the clocks went back last night. I fell asleep quite late only to wake up a few hours later of my own accord – no alarm. I checked my phone; it was 5am. I’ve got another hour till prayers, I thought but then noticed a notification from my ‘Athan’ app that fajr prayer was at 4.55am. I lay there a little disorientated and confused. Had I been praying an hour late every day since I arrived in the UK? Then it dawned on me and I smiled saying Alhamdhulillah (Praise & thanks to God) as I sat up in bed. However He did it, I was woken up at the right hour to perform my prayer with my husband.

It made me believe that no matter how much we rely on ourselves and our technology to get things done, divine intervention underpins everything.

© Rabia Bashir 27th October 2013 All Rights Reserved

Mother Tongue

I just got back from some late night shopping at a souk here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.   As usual, my husband and I spoke in Urdu to the stallholders (because most of them come from a South Asian country).  We were stood at a cheap and colourful market stall brimming with bags, belts, and other accessories. A young dark-skinned guy with pleasant manners was serving us, and looked distinctly Bangladeshi.”Where are you from?” I asked in Urdu.”Bangladesh,” he answered, careful not to make any eye contact whilst passing me a handbag.

“I’m Bangladeshi too!” I said in my Sylheti dialect.

His face lit up.

He looked at us, back and forth, and spoke with a huge smile.  “I’ve been working on this stall for six years and you’re the first Bangladeshi woman I’ve met as a customer!”

Feeling an instant connection with someone doesn’t happen very often but when it does, as it did tonight, it feels amazing!  I felt as though I’d inherited another brother; I wanted to hug him.

We chatted in our differing dialects of Bengali, and in-between, I translated for my Pakistani husband.

My new Bengali brother said it felt good to be speaking in his own language and insisted on giving me a gift.  I put the pair of earrings I was holding in my hand back on the stand.  I politely declined his kind offer. He carried on insisting. Finally, he placed a hair clamp and some scrunchies in my bag for free.

“Sister, come again if you need anything,” he said as we began to walk away.  I almost cried leaving him there.

A lot of immigrant workers, especially those doing menial jobs here, often live in cramped conditions, are expected to work long hours and are refrained from going on leave to their respective countries for long periods. I’m guessing he hasn’t been able to visit his family in Bangladesh in the six years he mentioned.

It’s times like this that I appreciate being able to talk in my mother tongue. Connecting with people, heart to heart, through the language we share is priceless.

© Rabia Bashir 2013

Small Achievements vs Big Achievements

The euphoria you experience by attaining something quickly and easily lasts a mere moment compared to something attained through hardship and determined perseverance.

So stop focusing on small hills to climb when your ambition is that mountain beyond the hills.  For all the time and effort you spent on the easier shorter tasks, you could have been standing at the highest summit at this very moment.

Train your mind to stop procrastinating and start climbing that mountain today.

© Rabia Bashir 2013

Can Fat Be Fit?

I managed to swim thirty lengths yesterday – the most I’ve ever swum in my life.

It made me remember the school swimming gala I took part in when I was approximately twelve years old.  I was representing my class in the front crawl race.  But before I continue – a little background information – I’ve always carried a little (and sometimes a lot) of extra weight compared to my peers.  My brother, who was sat in the spectators’ area on the first floor, told me over dinner that evening about what had happened to him when I stepped forward to the edge of the pool.

“Oh my God Juned – is that your fat sister?!” His ‘friends’ pointed down and laughed.  I imagine he shrivelled back in his seat and waited for me to come in last.

Thank God the laughter and cruel words didn’t reach me as I focused on my lane of water.  The whistle blew, I swam with all my might and the race ended.  I came in second place.  The boys stopped laughing and my brother sat forward with surprise and pride (I imagine).

“I didn’t know you were a good swimmer Afa,” he beamed over dinner.

Like any school kid or person, I had my weaknesses of course – long distance running was (and still isn’t) my thing.  I used to dread the yearly cross country runs (which only really involved running around the school grounds but it seemed an enormous task for an overweight teen like myself!).  And don’t get me started on hurdles – the shame I felt at needing to be carried off by 2 students and a teacher after crashing into a hurdle still haunts me when I think about it!

But I did go on to come in second (or third – I can’t recall exactly) in a discus throwing competition during a Sports Day.  Also, I was a Captain and led my netball team to victory in an intra-school tournament a few years later.

I still appear a little overweight than my peers but one thing never left my side – stamina.  As an adult I can dance vigorously for hours as well as train in the gym with mighty force.

Moral of the story?

Do not assume that a person carrying extra flesh is lazy, unfit or unsupple.  They may just be able to swim, walk, jog or run that extra mile more than you.

© Rabia Bashir 2013

 

 

Climbing A Mountain – Literally

Climbing A Mountain – Literally

That’s the beautiful sunrise which greeted us as we approached the summit of Mount Batur. And that’s me celebrating with a well-earned cup of complimentary tea served from a shack which sits on the slope. As the sun rose, the number of climbers grew, and so did the number of monkeys.

The whole thing had been a surprise arranged by my husband. We’re not climbers and I could have killed him for planning the activity as we took each step. My thighs throbbed and the sweat danced down my back. But of course, my feelings for him changed when we finally reached the tea shack.

Looking back now, it was one of the most exhilarating holiday experiences – because we achieved something that we thought impossible at the start.

© Rabia Bashir June 2013