Papa. Not only my maternal grandfather, but one of the most humble and nicest people I have ever encountered. I was just super lucky and beyond blessed to call him my grandfather.

Most people, in fact, referred to him as Papa. Like he was a father figure to all.

His generosity? Kindness? Affection? Wisdom? Knowledge? Knew no boundaries.

I have never met even one person who had even one negative thing to say about my Papa. That cannot be honestly said about many people, but it is indeed true about Papa. In all my life, I can’t even think of a single time that he upset me or annoyed me. He was always Papa – the loving and caring self he always was. He’s been my role model since day one. He will be my role model for the rest of my life.

I loved every day I got to spend him. I loved, loved, loved just sitting with him all day whenever we were lucky enough for him to come stay over at our house. Not just his stories, but just his mere presence brought joy to me.

I loved how he would want to go everywhere with us whenever he came to visit, right down to simple errands. Like he wanted to spend time with us as much as we wanted to spend time with him. I remember the unsaid plan at the grocery stores: I’d do the groceries while my brother followed Papa throughout the store as he picked up nothing but junk food. Who wouldn’t love that?! Many times, we’d cut out things from our “to-do” lists because we were worried he would get too tired.

His love for his children and especially his grandchildren? Can’t even put into words to describe it. Just the extraordinary amount of examples flow through my head. It’s the little things you remember that mean so much. Thinking back to when we were younger, I can’t help but laugh at how much he spoiled us. That’s part of the job description for what a good grandparent is, right? If our parents said no, he would most certainly veto it. Hey, he was the boss, right? We had to listen to him :) I wish Arham got to experience who Papa was.

His love for sweets [especially Kit-Kat and then later Almond Joy as well]. Tried my best to always have chocolate on hand whenever he came to visit.

His love for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune [and then later Price is Right as well]. Don’t ever call him from 7-8 PM: he was busy watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune at that time.

His LOVE for reading the Qu’ran. He did so daily without fail.

Smiles. Laughter. Happiness. Joy. That’s what the memories are full of. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A life truly lived for others. He was one of a kind, and I am truly blessed beyond words to call him my grandfather.

Papa, I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ll miss you.  My heart aches of emptiness when I think that there won’t be a next time for you hug me and kiss my forehead like you always did. Truly, I lost a part of me. Time heals all wounds, and perhaps will ease the pain, but I hope I never forget the kind of person you were and what I want to emulate. He is everything I want Arham to be.

In recent years, as Papa’s health started to decline, I hated that he didn’t feel good inside and my heart ached for his well being. I kept thinking one thing over and over : I wish I could take it away from him. I didn’t want to dwell on what Alzheimers’ did to him and the effect it had in this post; instead I want to focus on all the great memories.

He, up there, called Papa home this morning after a very difficult three weeks for my family and I.

I’ll miss Papa with all my heart, but if there’s one consolation, it’s this: he is at peace.

Family Pillars

There is just something about the generation of our grandparents that hasn’t shown up in our parents or ours. It’s hard to pinpoint, but there is something remarkable about them. Something that stands out.

That or maybe we were just extraordinarily blessed to have wonderful role models in so many of them within our family.

We have lost three great souls over the last year and each one has had a deep impact on me.

Munni Dadda- it was impossible to not be laughing hysterically every time we saw her because of her sense of humor. Her zest for life and the joy she brought to us all is something I think of often. It was impossible to not start smiling the second you saw her — but unfortunately we didn’t get to see her often since she didn’t live nearby :(. Her stories, her humor, her style, her character are all things I think of frequently.

Both my grandmothers passed away before I was born, but I always thought of Munni Dadda as filling their role in a sense. She had that grandmotherly love that had no limits, was fun to talk to and be around, and I loved her sense of humor the most. No formality, no fuss. Just a down to earth woman who I loved seeing on any trip to Canada.

Kalam Nana – there were only the rare weekends where my parents didn’t go meet him, and I enjoyed going most of those weekends too to spend time with Nana. His knowledge, his stories, his genuine interest in all of us, his personality are all some of the things I miss most about him.

He always wanted to know what was going on in our lives– no matter was too small for him to have interest in us, no one was too young to have his respect. If we mentioned something to him, he remembered and always followed up later and I loved that. He cared.

Just a few days ago, on August 31st, we were discussing how it had been six years since Salam Nana passed away. I don’t remember much about him from when I was younger, and unfortunately I never got the opportunity to get to know Nana well enough because he was sick in the years I was growing up. Abu’s told us stories, of course, but it’s not the same.

On September 2nd, we were talking about it had been his funeral that day six years ago when a little while after that, we found out Rana Nanna passed away.

Rana Nanna – she made tafseer class fun and interesting and a good learning experience for me, which is something I’ll always be thankful for her. Growing up, Abu and Ami have always told us everything she did for the family after both my paternal and maternal grandmothers passed away and how helpful she was in that time. Her love for her [extended] family was obvious to all, and so was how much she loved feeding us all her homemade delicious food.

To this day, we have a sweater she sewed for Ayaz as a baby… growing up even my dolls wore this particular sweater.

Slowly, we are losing the generation that are our pillars. Yes, it’s a part of life, but it doesn’t get any easier. Especially when in about thirteen month’s time, we have lost three from this generation. May Allah SWT grant them the highest place in jannat. Three great souls. And all I want to do is freeze time and hold on to their wisdom for as long as I can.

They were the type of people you want to be. The type of people you wish your own children got to meet and learn from. The type of people that instilled values and love and kindness like no other. The type of people the world needs more of.

It makes me wonder what type of legacy we will leave behind for future generations. What we will be remembered for. Will we even have an impact and be worth remembering?

Ten Years Ago

Ten years.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years, but it is a day I will remember in detail for many many years to come… if not for the rest of my life.

What started off as an ordinary Saturday in July, quickly became a life altering day. Faraz’s graduation party was the following Saturday, and we were expecting a lot of family to start coming over the next few days… starting with that evening of the 16th.

I remember being in my room, when Faraz came in and gave me a heads up that the ambulance was on the way — Abu didn’t feel well and he was literally drenched in his sweat.

The paramedics starting treating him right away before transporting him to the hospital. With Ami in the ambulance with Abu, and Faraz and I [teenagers] having no idea how to get to the hospital… we did the only thing we could: follow the racing ambulance — which meant cutting red traffic lights, speeding, amongst other violations I am sure… to the point where a police officer started following us [but he must have realized the situation because he followed us to the entrance of the hospital and then went on his way].

Parking in a non-parking spot, we rushed in and after what seemed forever [but in reality was not] and countless medical staff in the room, the dreaded was confirmed: Abu had just had a heart attack.

I called Ayaz at work, and let him know what was happening.

Soon thereafter, signatures taken from Ami for consent [of necessary procedures, etc.], Abu was first rushed in for an angiography and we were told it would take about an hour to assess. By that time, countless family members had showed up and it was the longest hour of my life. When the cardiologist finally stepped out, he informed us that there was a ninety six percent blockage and they were going ahead with an angioplasty at this point and it would take another hour.

By the time he was moved into his CCU room, there were easily at least fifty family members in the waiting room.

Seeing Abu like that was probably the scariest and most eye opening experience for me at that age. Suddenly and very quickly I learned and realized at once how vulnerable life really was. The uncertainty that followed that in the early days, and in some ways, to this day is scary to process or even explain.

I remember a day or so later, the man in the room in the CCU adjacent to him passed away. The nurses closed the door for all the other rooms in the CCU as they moved the body, but it was useless: we all knew. And while we tried to distract Abu, we knew he knew and was well aware of it as well. The tears in his eyes were evidence of that.

Are we overprotective of him, perhaps, a lot of times ? Of course. Do the littlest health issues sound an alarm for us? Definitely.

But all for a good reason: he is, after all, our rock.

I can’t imagine having a better father. He is fun and games when he should be, and serious when he needs to be. He has kept me grounded, showered us with infinite unconditional love, spoiled us, always encouraged us to do our best, and made us strive to be better people. He puts us, his family, first always… and always has. He is a prime example of a selfless role model of the best kind of a parent … and I pray it’s something I am able to emulate in the future.

Be Your Own [Health] Advocate

By now, some, if not most, of my family/friends know that in the early months of last year[2014] I faced a pretty terrifying health scare — a possible/potential c-word diagnosis. 99.9% of the time referring it to as the c-word because it’s just that real still. Many tests, several biopsies, and months of uncertainty later: I had to go through the surgery route to find out with a 100% certainty. In fact, tomorrow marks one year since my surgery.

I can’t tell you how thankful/blessed I was to find out, post-op, that it was benign– that it wasn’t cancer. It was, for me, a stark reminder, to count your blessings, not your problems.

In the days leading up to the surgery, someone reminded me that God doesn’t give you more than he is certain you can handle and that He tests you only to your limits.

Allah does not place a burden to a soul greater than it can bear.” [2:286]

You just don’t realize it. Although, I won’t lie: sometimes, I feel like He gives me credit for more than I think I am capable of handling.

“Verily with Hardship comes Ease”.

While facing the uncertainty, in the months before the surgery, I’ll be honest: I couldn’t keep my mind off the possible “what if” scenario. It’s just not something you ever think could happen to you, unfortunately, until you are thrown into it. Especially at my age! Ironically enough, thyroid [c-word] is most likely to occur in twenty-something-year-old females. Me in a nutshell

One thing I knew for sure from day one: I wasn’t going to be just another statistic. I did my research. I asked questions [after questions]. I prepared myself for both of the outcomes. I was [and continue to be] involved 100% in my health[care]. From day one, I was my biggest health advocate. I’m detail oriented, a planner… and hate the unknown!

Without our health, we are nothing; and yet, most of us take it for granted and not care for ourselves nearly as much as we should. The time you spend on your external physical self [hygiene, makeup, grooming, etc]? That and more of a focus needs to be given to you internally and as a whole. Most of us, especially the younger generations, just don’t make our health a priority. Whether it’s not eating right, exercising [enough/at all], or making the trip to the doctors to make sure everything is alright. I can’t stress enough: preventative care beats the alternative a million times over.

Be your own advocate: make time for your periodical check-ups. Do your research and go in informed. Ask questions. Question them. And best of all? If you aren’t satisfied, seek a second opinion.

I avoided doctors [and OTC medicines] for the first 22 something years of my life like the plague, and then saw more doctors in a year than the rest of my life combined.

I was lucky mine was benign, but if it had been god forbid the alternative– think of this: I was asymptomatic. It was discovered by chance because I already had a thyroid issue that was closely being monitored.

Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?


On a side note: leading up to the surgery last year, I can’t tell you how many times I was blatantly told [by doctors, surgeons, and/or their nurses]: “honey, if anyone had to choose a cancer type, this is the one they would choose without a second thought”. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll choose to have NO type. Or “honey, this is the best type of c-word to get”. Yeah, no. Still sticking to the none. So thankful that He, above, agreed with me too.

I understand that this type has a great treatment plan, but cancer is cancer. The last thing anyone that is [potentially] facing it needs to hear is something like the aforementioned mindset. I can’t tell you how upsetting it was to hear that: a direct punch to my stomach. A stomach that was already in knots of nervousness, stress, fear and so much more. I’m not sure if they thought it was supposed to comfort me and put me to ease, but all it did was upset me even more than I already was facing everything I was.

Down Under

Down under.

Never in a million years did I imagine that I would be living in Australia. I guess I could have been a little more specific when I repeatedly said I wanted to see kangaroos… I should have specified that in a zoo would have been just fine. 😉

But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners indeed.

I am pretty sure there are more types of creepy crawling creatures here than people… and they are well aware that I am a wimp. They are everywhere, and I mean everywhere.

I’ve been here only for about two weeks now, so I’m still slowly adjusting to everything.

It’s incredibly [and grossly] hot here [it’s their summer currently] and the time difference is whoa. 16 hours ahead of New Jersey. You drive on the opposite side [of the road and car] and you walk on the opposite side [left side as opposed to staying to your right on a sidewalk, stairs, escalator, etc.]. Pizza is a disappointment– I asked for a cheese pizza and I got just that: bread with cheese on top it. Where is my sauce??! If you know anything about me… I pick off the cheese and and like extra sauce on my pizza! :(

More updates soon.



I am married. I am a wife. I have a husband. Oh, and I am in Australia. Australia?!  Never in a million years would I have imagined these turn of events in my life.

But alhumdulillah. He is the best of planners.

2014, indeed, proved to be the worst of times and the best of times.

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (30:21)

On a side note: Most people move from house to house. I apparently move from country to country. From Pakistan to Canada to the USA to now Australia. 

Please keep Faisal and me in your prayers/duas.

What’s for Dinner: Fish and Chips

For the fish part:

I took tilapia fillets and cut them into long thin strips before marinating them with salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, cumin powder, and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, I took gram flour (besan) ans seasoned it with salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, a little ginger powder, a little cumin powder, and (about half a teaspoon of baking powder). Mix it well, and add water until it’s a thick liquid consistency.

At that point, add in the mixture to the fish and mix well. Let it sit for a few hours before deep frying your fish.

For the “chips” part, I have a few fries suggestions (like this or this), but this time I simply seasoned thin cut fries with a seasoning I have from Norway.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.

Thank you

Alhumdulillah what an amazing fun-filled extended weekend full of family and friends.


First and foremost, I couldn’t start this off without thanking everyone, far and near, that partook in the “pre-wedding celebration” on Sunday and all of the weekend’s celebrations. From the wonderful surprise bridal shower on Friday, the dholki/dinner event Javed Chachoo, Chotti Anna and Imran hosted on Saturday for me, and the absolutely amazing “Pre-Wedding Celebration” Sunday night to start off the festivities… it was the most amazing weekend full of so many memories. I appreciate it, more than I could ever articulate. Anyone and everyone who knows me know how much I cherish family time. And what a basket-case of emotions I am.

I have always said how much I absolutely love how close-knit our family is, alhumdulillah, but this year especially you all have made me feel loved and cared for in immeasurable ways. Your concern and duas got me through the toughest of the days. But your heartfelt joy in celebrating the good days with me have been just as strong.

I can’t believe in such a short time, alhumdulillah, I’ll be married [inshAllah].

To Abu and Ami: Thank you.

For always pushing me to do my best.
For letting me do things at my pace.
For giving me the space I need.
For always believing in me.
For never expecting anything less than my best.
For teaching us good morals from day one and the difference between what is right and wrong. And of course: what is right vs. what is easy.
For always asking why we got that one question wrong on a test in school. It might have driven me crazy over the years why a 98% wasn’t good enough, but it pushed me to always try that much harder.

For all the moments that count and matter, I never doubted that you were proud of us.
Thank you for being wonderful role models — as individuals, as a married couple, and as parents.

Ayaz and Faraz:
From the endless ridiculous quarrels to the countless memories: I am not sure how the time flew by so fast and the first of us three is [already] getting married soon. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago Faraz and I were building forts with chairs, cushions and blankets and using my toy cutlery set for picnics underneath the forts.

It seems like it was just yesterday Ayaz was shaking his head at something Faraz or I had said or done. Wait, scratch that, odds are that probably was just yesterday. [just kidding Ayaz… but we all know he is shaking his head reading this!]

You both have been my biggest bully but my biggest supporter all in one. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And I couldn’t end this before addressing the young ones–

To my younger cousins:
I have loved being your built-in editor, proof-reader, and problem solver. I have loved that you have always trusted me enough to come to me for advice or ask me for my opinion. I have loved the fact that you knew your secrets were safe with me. I have loved [and will always love] being your older sister. For years growing up, I used to always say to myself that I wished I had a younger sibling. I didn’t realize until much later Allah SWT gave me many younger siblings in all of you crazies.

While Australia may be [literally] on the other end of the world, always know this: I am still never going to be more than just a phone call, text message, email, what’s app message, Facebook message, [etc.] away. You get the picture. Some things change, but others never have to.

Don’t Reverse Car in the Middle of the Road

Is that really something people need to be told or reminded?

Earlier today, my brother Ayaz and I were running a few errands when in the middle of the road, some guy decides to REVERSE his car in the middle of a busy intersection right by our house. On a jug handle.

This guy was driving a BMW so hopefully he at least values his car if not valued the lives involved when he decided to do something as stupid as REVERSE his car.

He hit our car but, alhumdulillah, no one was injured. In our car or his.

He had been driving annoyingly for a while leading up to the accident, but that was just annoying. It’s when annoying becomes moronic and stupid that I have issues with.

He told us he was trying to switch lanes and that he didn’t see us. I wanted to tell him ‘of course you didn’t see, you were busy being stupid and reversing your car in the middle of the road’!

It just doesn’t make sense to me. Just to save a few seconds, people risk their own lives and the lives of innocent bystanders.

We are all fine, but there could have been injuries. There could have been children in the car. There could have been so many other possibilities. Is it really worth causing an accident to save a few moments of your time? Why are people always looking for shortcuts?

Even the police was dumbfounded when we told him what had happened. When the other driver told him the same, the police officer essentially told the guy “yeah, you can’t do that”.

Apparently that’s not common sense.

Moral of the story: don’t reverse your car in the middle of the road. I thought that was a given, but obviously not …

A week from today [September 26]  marks eight years since Ayaz and I had the horrible car accident where our car was totaled :( … can’t believe it’s been that long.

What’s for Dinner: Chicken Burrito Bowl

On Tuesday, for my dad’s birthday, I made homemade Chicken Burrito Bowls for dinner. It was flavorful and delicious. One of the best part of this meal was that it was all cooked in one pot!

I used:

  • Diced/bite size pieces of boneless chicken breastsIMG_2733.JPG
  • Seasonings: black pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of diced yellow onion
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of uncooked [extra-long grain] rice
  • 1 [14.5 ounce] can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 [15 ounce] can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups of [low-sodium] chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 cups of monterey jack cheese
  • freshly diced tomatoes
  • diced green onions

What I did was:

  1. I took my bite size boneless chicken meat and seasoned it with black pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne powder.
  2. In a pot, add in about two tablespoons of olive oil (approximately) and add in your diced onion. Saute your onions until they are softened.
  3. When your onions are softened, add in your chicken [over medium heat]. Let it cook until it starts to brown. When that happens, move it to the side of the pan.
  4. Next, add in about another tablespoon of olive oil and add in your [uncooked] rice. Saute your rice until it starts to brown [only a few minutes].
  5. At the point, add in your can of [drained] diced tomatoes, your can of [drained and rinsed] black beans, and your chicken broth. Let it come up to a simmer before you lower the heat to low.
  6. Cover the pan and let it cook over low heat for about 20 minutes [until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender].
  7. At this point, remove your pot from the heat. Add in the amount of cheese you want and recover your pan. This will help you melt the cheese. Remove the lid and mix everything.
  8. Serve warm, with garnishes of diced green onion and tomatoes.

Notes: for mine, I didn’t add cheese because I don’t like it– but I know my parents and brother add cheese when they get something similar from Chipotle.

P.S. This post is a part of my “What’s for Dinner” series, where I share what I’ve been cooking and my recipes.