Going back home will never be the same…

Originally written for: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/going-back-home-will-never-be-the-same-1.1267375

My head is bent low over my phone, and I am totally absorbed as my fingers nimbly tap the screen with a definite sense of purpose. I look busy; indeed it would be easy to (mistakenly) think that I am in fact the CEO of a large corporation. Of course I am faking it. There’s no one I am chatting to, and absolutely no one that I am emailing at this time of the evening. Yet, what else can I do to inconspicuously merge with the decor at this woebegone party where I feel about as comfortable as a ballet dancer on a football pitch? Thank God for internet and for smartphones!

Soon enough though, a long lost cousin wanders up to my chair, the chair that I have carefully chosen which is to the extreme left of the hall, hidden behind a large table. My attempts at blending with the decor do not appear to be working particularly well and I pretend to be delighted as we catch up. I steal an anxious glance at my phone but remain resolutely polite. She finally walks away and I breathe out.

So you’ve probably guessed that I’m not quite the party animal, to put it mildly. When we go home for the holidays, I find that there are parties to attend left, right and centre. Everyone who was single is getting married, those that got married last year are going to have a baby, and those that aren’t celebrating something decide to throw a party for no particular reason except sheer boredom. That means yours truly must attend parties, armed with the right gifts, and smile till the cheeks hurt and know just what to say to the million relatives and acquaintances omnipresent in such places.

I am usually squirming in discomfort at social gatherings, but the fact that they eat up valuable vacation time when I go back home annoys me. My main reason for travelling to Karachi is to meet my dad, my sister and her family, and my inlaws too. I do sometimes go on shopping excursions as well (persuaded by said sister), but the fact that I truly and sincerely hate shopping hardly helps. This time, as I get ready for a short trip back home, I am hoping to spend some quality time with the family.

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Bringing back memories

There is of course another thing about my hometown that attracts me.

The house. The big old rambling house that I grew up in, the place that has always felt like home, for as far back as I can remember. Each room reminds me of countless anecdotes and stories growing up and the old mosaic floors and the big desktop computer look as though they belong to another era. Yet no place in the world could be as cozy as this unique haven of security. But this time, by a strange twist of fate, I won’t be visiting the house.

My father, now being the only occupant of the once full house decided to sell it. He now lives in a much smaller, but far more manageable house and I can no longer walk into ‘my room’ and feel 16 again. One thing about the house was that you could practically feel mum everywhere — the curtains, the furniture, the kitchen, even the crockery would remind one incessantly of mum. It feels as though a great chunk of bittersweet memories have gone away with the house.

I wonder if the new place will feel anything like home. It has been a few months since the house has been sold off, yet whenever I dream about mum, or about the family, I invariably find myself in the old house. It is weird because the place doesn’t even belong to us anymore. Between the parties and family time, I wonder if I’ll have time to just drive over to the old place and gaze at the huge, ancient tamarind tree that hides the facade of the structure. I hope the people who live there now realise what a special place it is.

PS: For more on the house, and for its photos, click here: https://mehmudahrehman.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/d8-i-miss-you/

Flowers in Dubai

Hey All!

I hope life’s been treating you well. The Dubai Miracle Garden opened recently to visitors. It is a pretty amazing place and has more flowers than I have ever seen in one place! My pics don’t really do justice, but I hope you like them all the same.

-Mehmudah

Lots of people... lots of flowers

Lots of people… lots of flowers

 

 

Ask dusk approached, I thought I'd try and get a silhouette

Ask dusk approached, I thought I’d try and get a silhouette

 

 

I liked this one though. Simple things are often the best.

I liked this one though. Simple things are often the best.

 

 

With a point and shoot and bad light, this wasn't a particularly easy pic to take. It's not as good as I would have liked but it's a start :)

With a point and shoot and bad light, this wasn’t a particularly easy pic to take. It’s not as good as I would have liked but it’s a start :)

 

 

There were lots of flowered things.. a clock, a car, a house (this one) and many other things made of flowers. I was in a bad mood that day and feeling sick too. Plus it was nearly twilight so my camera suffered.

There were lots of flowered things.. a clock, a car, a house (this one) and many other things made of flowers. I was in a bad mood that day and feeling sick too. Plus it was nearly twilight and we left quickly… so not many pics…

 

I realize I am being apologetic about my pictures lol! I love this photo :)

I realize I am being apologetic about my pictures lol! I love this photo :)

 

 

I don't really like this one (various reasons) but I'm uploading it to show you the amount of flowers...

I don’t really like this one (various reasons) but I’m uploading it to show you the amount of flowers.

 

 

The park was nicely structured..

The park was nicely structured.

 

 

Sea of flowers... good weather too :)

Sea of flowers… good weather too :)

For more information: http://www.dubaimiraclegarden.com

At Khorfakkan, UAE

Khorfakkan has a gorgeous beach and the boat ride’s lovely too.  I hope you like the photos!

Where the mountains meet the sea

Where the mountains meet the sea

The island at Khorfakkan

The island at Khorfakkan

So lovely when the water touches my toes...

So lovely when the water touches my toes…

I added a bit of drama to the sky...

I added a bit of drama to the sky…

Yes, I edited this a bit...

At the beach

The metro and my thoughts

Hey All!

Apologies for the unannounced hiatus. I’ve been busy with exams. Just a quick one to share iPhone photos of the metro (Instagrammed, yeah!)

Hope you like them.

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Oh by the way, were you wondering why I called this post “The metro and my thoughts”? Because public transport is a great place for getting your thoughts together. And if the ride is long, it’s great for clearing out your email inbox too. Trust me on this one, lol.

Flames

At the moment, anywhere you look you find flame trees in full bloom. It’s a beautiful sight. Below are some pics of the same. :)

flames5

Bursting into a riot of colour!

New beginnings

New beginnings

flames3

When bloom and bud live peacefully together.

Patch of blue sky

Patch of blue sky

A wall of orange.

A wall of orange.

 

Oatmeal Cookies. You devil.

They’re yummy, they’re healthy (well, kinda), they take as little as 10 minutes to prepare, and the kids love them! And they’re perfect for school snack boxes and they will be ‘allowed’ (don’t ask, my kids can’t take anything remotely resembling junk food)! So why don’t I make them more often?

Crumbly, melt in the mouth, aromatic...

Crumbly, melt in the mouth, aromatic…

Top 5 reasons why I don’t bake oatmeal cookies more often.

1. Time. Who has the time? Between school runs, homework sessions where I basically pull at my hair, and studies (my own), can I actually find time to do (unnecessary) recreational baking? Yeah, maybe once in a while. But I’d much rather get dinner ready, know what I mean?

2. I end up eating a few… not a great idea! When you have a jar of fresh, warm, home-baked cookies on the premises, it gets just that bit harder to resist.

3. Lazy? When I finally get some time, I don’t want to go in the kitchen. I could read, write or simply play with the girls.

4. I don’t have any more cinnamon powder. Ha! Yeah, this is easily rectifiable, but until I grind some cinnamon (I’m not crazy about the store-bought variety) I have a perfect excuse! :)

5. I have to study! Currently I am doing the following:

S– Sleeping

T– Talking

U– Unlimited texting

D– Daydreaming

Y– Yawning.

I gotta get the act together. Right after I finish this blog post. Er.

cookies2

PS: My point and shoot canon with a big lens (Powershot sx30is, the very baby which has taken all pics on this blog) is not great with indoor light. I’d love a Canon EOS DSLR for such days. Someday… :)

PPS: If you want to bake them, this recipe is nice, but I don’t follow it exactly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4_X2qwLpqk