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Winter Break ’09

Why is it that it seems like we wait for vacation for so long and then when it finally comes, it just flies by… no matter how long (or short) it really was. It feels like winter break just started, but it is going by so fast and already coming to an end and classes start again on January 19th (and I start working on the 17th after requesting the winter break off to study) – and it’ll be my last semester as an undergraduate. SO hard to fathom!

This break was pretty low key – we didn’t travel anywhere too far… but did a lot of little things here and there (and had A LOT of dinner parties!).

Oh and i think i made up for the fact that i watched like no movies throughout last year (read this post from last month), by watching both Avatar (with a lot of my cousins and Faraz) and Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel (with my parents and Faraz) in my winter break.

I also got a chance to catch up with Yasmin on Monday of last week. I’ve known Yasmin since the seventh grade (when I first moved to New Jersey) and she’s been a great friend since. We went to different schools for the first time last year when she decided to transfer to a different college. Even though I don’t get a chance to see her too often nowadays, everytime I do – it’s like I see her all the time. Some things, fortunately, don’t change.

And of course, I studied, studied, studied for the LSATs. I can’t even stress how much I’m looking forward to February 6th to get them over with (and hopefully with a decent score, of course). It sucks that I spent a lot of summer break and now my winter break studying for them. Hopefully, it pays off this time. Once I get my scores three weeks after taking the exam, I have some serious decision making to do.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave me a comment below on your thoughts! As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Movies

Late this afternoon, i went to see the ‘Princess and the Frog‘ with a bunch of my cousins (it’s my cousin Samia’s 18th birthday on tuesday, so we went out for a lunch and a movie for an early celebration).The movie was pretty good and funny (it was a children’s movie, but we still had a great time). It was also the first time Disney has featured a ‘black’ women as a princess in one of their movies ever, so that was a big deal. When i started writing this blog post, my main point was going to be on discussing this, but it quickly changed when i realized how few movies i watch (partly because i really should be studying and paper writing and this would be quicker for now).

It’s pretty funny because usually i see one or two movies (if that) per year in theaters (and only a couple of them outside of theaters), and now this is the second movie I have seen in a few weeks (i saw Blind Side around thanksgiving time), and i plan on seeing Invictus soon as well. I don’t know if there’s been a string of good movies out (that actually interest me) or what, but in all honesty – i can’t think of what other movie i’ve seen in theaters all year.

So just for the sake of it, i searched up a list of all movies that came out this year to see which ones i’ve seen and here’s what i came up with:
(name of movie, release date, where i saw it)
Bride Wars – January 9, cousin’s house a few weeks ago (saw it Nov. 21).
State of Play – April 17th, theaters (saw it Apr. 27)
Angels and Demons – May 15, theaters (saw it May 22)
Blindside – November 20, theaters (saw it Nov. 25)
Princess and the Frog – November 25, theaters (saw it Dec. 13)
Avatar – December 18, theaters** UPDATED DEC. 26, 2009 (saw it Dec. 25)
I can’t believe i’ve only seen five movies all year long – in theaters and out combined! i know i don’t watch tv much, but i didn’t realize how little! I don’t know if i should be annoyed about that or happy that i don’t waste my time watching tv too much.
in my winter break in a few weeks, i want to see (don’t know if it will end up happening):
Up – released May 29
The Proposal – June 19
and two movies that are either in theaters or coming out soon:
Invictus – December 11
ha, according to my history – i’m more likely to watch the movies in the theaters.
have you guys seen any of these movies? what did you think of them? or do you have any other recommendations? most of all, i think it’ll cool to see what (and how many) movies you guys have seen this year. and perhaps, even harder to recall – movies you have seen this year that were released in the past.
Now back to the reality of studying for exams and paper writing…

The Blind Side: the Story of Michael Oher and the Tuohy family

This afternoon my brothers and I went to go see the “The Blind Side“, which is a movie based on a true story. The movie revolves around the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African American sixteen year old (whose father is dead and his mother is a drug addict), who is taken in by the (Caucasian) Tuohy family. Oher happens to be in the same grade as Collins Tuohy, and Collins had mentioned to her parents about the new kid.

In his first nine years of school Oher was enrolled in eleven different schools, and each continuously passed on the “problem” to the next. When he arrived at the Briarcrest Christian School at the age of 16, Oher had a measured I.Q. of 80 — which put him in the ninth percentile — and had a GPA of 0.6.

I’m a pretty sensitive and emotional person as it is, so it shouldn’t even be a surprise – but i found myself tearing quite a few times throughout the movie! But the movie’s comedic side struck a balance as well, fortunately. It is such a sad, yet inspirational story; heart breaking, yet motivational.

If you haven’t seen “The Blind Side” yet, i highly recommend it for all of you.  it is a poignant movie and aside from a violent scene near the end of the movie that limits the movie to a PG-13 rated audience-  it is full of great lessons for everyone (from racial tensions to education)!

If you haven’t seen this yet, definitely read that too. One of my brothers shared that with me about three years ago when the piece was written, and then again later when Oher was in the NFL draft. Like the read said, for someone to be in the 99th percentile, someone also has to be in the one or two percentile – but it’s so hard to fathom its reality.

Here’s an amazing and powerful quote from the article:

Leigh Anne Tuohy grew up with a firm set of beliefs about black people but shed them for another — and could not tell you exactly how it happened, except to say, “I married a man who doesn’t know his own color.” Her father, a United States marshal based in Memphis, raised her to fear and loathe blacks as much as he did. The moment the courts ordered the Memphis City Schools integrated in 1973, he pulled her out of public school and put her into the newly founded Briarcrest Christian School, where she became a student in its first year. “I was raised in a very racist household,” she says. Yet by the time Michael Oher arrived at Briarcrest, Leigh Anne Tuohy didn’t see anything odd or even awkward in taking him in hand.

And here’s a short clip i came across earlier:

As Thanksgiving approaches, It’s so amazing to think that of how much we take for granted every day… and even complain for some of it! I can’t even imagine how many times i’ve stressed over academic work, for example, without even thinking about how blessed i am to even receive such an education in the first place!

While i think we should be thankful for our blessings every single day, I still wish a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Hope everyone has a great few days off to relax with their family and friends.

The Daily Show

This past monday, my brother Ayaz and i FINALLY went to a taping of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart“. By FINALLY, i mean that i originally got tickets last year for several months later, but by the time the day came around – the writers were on strike and so it was cancelled. This time, my brother Faraz, got tickets back in February.

The suggested arrival time was around 3:30 PM – we got there around 2 o’clock and there was already a line forming. We stood in line in the heat (thank god for the shaded area we were standing under) for over three hours (doors open for airport like security checkpoints at 5:15 PM). So, if you have tickets and are planning on going – plan on getting there as early as possible.

On a quick sidenote, the sign above the entrance is this:
(in case you can’t read it – it says “Abandon News All Ye Who Enter Here”

Anyways, getting there at a reasonably early time (2 PM), my brother and I were still #s 16 and 17 in line. Right before they let groups of people enter the security checkpoints, several of the staff members come out to make sure everyone in line has a ticket (and those that don’t are sent to the standby area. And as they do that, they give the people in the lines the official tickets (they say that until you get these tickets, there is no guarantee because they run on a first come first serve basis). There are, i believe, 239 seats in the studio.

I was quite dissappointed in the fact that the tickets we got were like, as Ayaz described it, middle school bathroom passes… and not official tickets that we could keep as souvenirs or anything. Here’s the picture of mine:

oh and by the way, they are insanely serious about not letting any photography being done inside the studios at any point (before, during, or after the taping)… or chewing gum (or eating/drinking of course). Some of it seemed a little extreme (like the no gum chewing), but whatever. the security team kept saying that if they saw anyone take pictures, they would come around and confiscate the camera until the end of the show AND personally delete all the photos. Oh yeah, phones must be turned off (and not just on vibrate or silent)… and in their words – “no tweetering was allowed”. 🙂

So we finally get in to the studio, and they have the music blasting FOREVER. after the longest time, the warm-up comedian guy comes out.. and he was pretty funny… but it was dragged on and on (even he kept saying “sorry guys, but i can’t leave until they give me the signal”). and then FINALLY (after what seemed forever), Jon Stewart comes out to a huge ovation and answers some questions from the crowd (one of the awkward ones was about whether Colbert and Stewart are having a secret affair because they tend to take their vacations together… to which Stewart slyly responds “well, it’s not a secret anymore” :). After several of the questions were about Colbert, one guy finally asks Stewart if he personally likes “when people come onto HIS show and ask about Colbert” :).

Personally, i found Stewart to be funnier as he was doing improv before the actual scripted show. Oh and also, when Stewart first came out.. he asked the crowd if everyone had been waiting outside for hours and then added “I’m sorry but it definitely isn’t worth it.”

Another interesting point to note was the diverse demographic background of the crowd. there were people there not only from across the nation, but across the world – some mentioned were Zimbabwe, Oman, New Zealand, (Berlin) Germany, Kuwait.

This is all i can remember for now, but i’ll probably add stuff later if i think of more. But one this is fore sure – I definitely want to go back again… and also to the “The Colbert Report” with Stephan Colbert.

Week in Review

It’s been a little over a week of summer vacation and i am LOVING the down time. It’s nice not having too constantly stress over deadlines… and these past few days have been a lot of fun especially.

This past thursday was shazia’s and zehra’s graduation. because they graduated from different colleges within Rutgers and the timing overlapped, i went to shazia’s graduation. it was a pretty long ceremony (and about 2,675 graduates), and it was pretty hot, but still a lot of fun. Later that night, we went to zehra’s for a BBQ dinner to celebrate (and the food was delicious – i LOVE bihari kakab and bbq chicken!)

then on friday, the girls went out to dinner at red lobster to celebrate shazia’s graduation. afterwards, we went to finally see the movie Angels and Demons… and my goodness was it gruesome! It was good overall, just not my type of movie.

sunday, we had another one of our monthly game nights (at imran’s) and then a couple of my cousins and i ended up sleeping over there. monday (yesterday) morning was another crazy morning as we got everything ready for zehra’s surprise graduation picnic party. the weather was HOT but it was a lot of fun and i’m SO glad the surprise wasn’t ruined!

i have had next to no sleep these past six days and so it has been very tiring BUT so much fun! i definitely want to enjoy this summer as much as a possibly can. All the planning and craziness for the parties paid off, alhumduillah and everything was a lot of fun.

Congratulations once again to Shazia and Zehra (and all the other graduates)! I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments!

this past friday i also FINALLY registered for the LSATs for the upcoming september, which means i REALLY have to start studying now! I can’t believe I’m graduating next year!

On a completely different note, i woke up this morning to realize that Obama has chosen federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice. She’s a women obviously and i knew he was going to pick a women (he better had). And many speculated it would be a hispanic… and with Sotomayor, Obama chose the first hispanic and she’s still a woman. The last few days have been so busy, that i haven’t even read the news lately – so i didn’t even realize Obama was about to announce his nomination. Oh well.

Susan Boyle

I only caught her singing a few days back, when she started getting so much media coverage… but my goodness, she’s AMAZING!

Susan Boyle, a 47 year old women, was given no chance by the audience or the judges present that day as she auditioned for “Britain’s Got Talent” and boy did she prove everyone wrong. Susan told the crowd how she’s never been given a chance. As soon as she started singing, the whole room erupted in cheers and in awe because she was AMAZING. She has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard… and it just goes to show you : never judge a book by it’s cover! Everyone deserves a fair chance.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not into music… but she’s quite extraordinary.

I tried to embed the clip from the audition, but it won’t let me do it for some reason… but that’s easy to find on YouTube.

This clip is from Larry King Live yesterday on CNN, where she sang Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”.

The Dark Knight

My brothers and I went to see “The Dark Knight” earlier today, and while it isn’t the type of movie I usually enjoy watching, I have to admit it was really good.

Heath Ledger, as the Joker, was disgustingly creepy… so I guess he did his part. 🙂 He definitely gave me the goosebumps several times in the movie and he definitely deserves a posthumously Oscar for his amazing role. Once you see the movie, you see how into his role he became and it’s so easy to see why he would have felt the need to turned to the drugs. While I am not saying at all that I agree with the idea of drugs (because I am a 100% against it), you do get to see a little of his point of view and the toll his role as the Joker took on him.

May 26th and May 27th, 2008

Let’s start off with yesterday. Yesterday night we went to the Colosseum to see “Indiana Jones”. The place was very pretty nice. We got back home around 12:30, and were just sitting around talking … and about ten or fifteen minutes later the lights went out. At first, I thought it was just my cousin’s house and the fuse blew out or something, but when we looked out – the whole neighborhood was in dark. Even at 1 A.M., with no electricity we could still walk around and see things on the main floor because of course it wasn’t even completely dark outside.

Today, my brother and I ventured out on our own for the first time today. At first we were very wary/hesitant due to the language barrier, but it wasn’t bad at all considering we didn’t have to talk Norwegian at all. Overall, the people here are really nice.

We walked around the Oslo City Mall for a few hours, and then ventured outside to roam around. We walked around for a while, and then walked to and through the King’s Palace.

Today, we first-handedly saw how expensive it is here. After currency conversions, it is still at least twice as expensive here then in the U.S.

Tonight, we are going to our cousin Arslan Bhai”s house for dinner.

Here our some pictures of some of the things we saw earlier today:




This last one (above) is a picture of the King’s Palace.

Babbling Babies

Barack Obama getting the youths’ vote takes on a whole new meaning…
These adorable babies tell us their preferences for President.


I saw this on CNN earlier.

Past few days

On Friday night, my aunt and her family from Canada come over and so it has been a busy and fun-filled week since. It is always a lot of fun getting together with a lot of family. Pretty much everyday all week we have all gotten together somewhere or another.

I even tried sushi for the first time Saturday afternoon. It was most definitely the first, but also the LAST time I try sushi. It must one of those things that require an acquired taste.

Then, Saturday evening, a few of us cousins and two of our aunts went to go see “I Am Legend”. Overall, the movie was decent and enjoyable. The consensus was that it seemed to be a very slow movie until near the end and then totally became fast paced.

Later, all of my dad’s siblings and their family that resides nearby came over for the rest of the night which was of course a lot of fun.