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US Open 2013

Last night, my brothers and I went to the US Open. It was my first live tennis match and I loved it! See, I know not to call it a game!

We saw Nadal play against Kohlschreiber, and left before the second night match [a mens’ double]. The stadium, Arthur Ashe stadium, I believe is supposed to be the largest tennis stadium!

The atmosphere was great, and thankfully the weather cooperated. It rained terribly all day and thunderstorms were forecasted for throughout the night. Luckily, it didn’t start to thunder until we were back home late night!

It was a hectic, tiring, and a very busy weekend… otherwise it would have been nice to show up earlier and explore “the village” around the stadium.

Sometime in the future, it would be great to come back, especially for a later round, to see a more exciting competitive game. I loved yesterday’s though and was actually rooting for Kohlschreiber – he played great the first two sets.

Life is on the hectic side lately, that’s for sure. To top it off, I’m going to Virginia to spend some time with Papa mid next week and there’s just a few short weeks away until my parents and I leave for hajj, inshallah. More on that later. I can’t believe how fast time is passing by! So much to do, so very little time left!

Central New Jersey Heart Walk 2013

Last night, I registered for Central Jersey 2013-2014 Heart Walk by the American Heart Association. I got involved last year and am so glad I did! I was able to raise $360 last year, so I am aiming a little higher and have set my goal for $400 this year.  

It’s unfortunate that I won’t be in New Jersey in October for the actual walk portion of it [my parents and I have made intention for Hajj, inshallah].

Will you help me help a great cause?

July 16, 2005 started off as any other summer day. Except for the fact that we were busy planning Faraz’s high school graduation party to be held the following week on my birthday and we had family arriving from Canada that evening.

It all changed in an instant.

I remember exactly what I was doing in my room when I found out and most of the details of the crazy day that followed. I remember hearing the confirmation it was an indeed a heart attack that my dad just had. I remember calling my brother Ayaz at work to tell him. I remember the questions and the dreaded what-ifs. I remember the wait while my dad was in surgery. Most of all, I remember the long road he faced in the aftermath to recovery. I remember it all like it was yesterday.

I just can’t recall any warning signs. Maybe they weren’t there to begin with? That’s the scary part. It can happen out of nowhere. It can and it does.

Just last year, for example, a cousin of mine in her twenties who lives in Europe had a cardiac arrest in the middle of the night! Her son was a toddler at that point, and to think if her husband hadn’t woken up when he did and essentially helped saved her life… you don’t even want to think of the possibilities.

In her twenties?! Things like that can happen to someone relatively healthy in their twenties?! It’s just so unfathomable to even think about.

That, in part, is one of the major reasons I took up this great cause. Not just because it effected my family, but because of how dire the situation can become in an instant and its consequences are not so great. But we can change that. Who knows, maybe in our lifetime, we will make great strides in the cause.

But we have to come together for the cause first. Do our part. It cannot, and must not, be left on the back burner of issues. Each one of us, I’m sure, knows of multiple people effected by heart disease. The statistics are unnerving.

It’s not just about donating towards such a wonderful cause, but also committing to making that lifestyle change. For ourselves, our well-being and health, and our family. Heart disease doesn’t just effect the individual, it effects the whole family.

We need to start eating better, and living a healthier lifestyle … and just generally taking better care of ourselves. What’s the point of living if you are not going to live right? Some argue, what’s the point of living if you can’t “live a little”. Well, we all could live a little and live a little longer if we just started taking better care of ourselves.

You know what else I remember? I remember the low sodium, bland boring no taste in any of the food diet that ensued following my dad’s heart attack. I don’t know how he ate it and for so long. Would you rather have to be on such a diet on a regular basis or would you rather eat healthy regularly but indulge once in a while? It’s not only about the food we eat [although it’s a large part], but is any food really worth failing health?

Central Jersey Heart Walk Follow Up

In just under a month, I was able to raise $360 for the Central Jersey Heart Walk and I want to take a moment to thank everyone that generously donated towards this great cause.

It’s been such a humbling experience. Everyone knows someone effected by heart disease, and it doesn’t have to be as directly effected as we were as a family.

I’m glad I decided to participate, and I urge you to join in and take part in a similar one in your own community. It doesn’t have to be a heart related charity that you get involved in, there are so many great causes out there! Choose one that is close to your heart (no pun intended). One that you are passionate about. You’ll be glad you did.

Let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying then giving back to the community. Individually, we may not be able to bring about much change… but collectively, it’s a whole another story.

While the $360 I raised may not seem all that grand to some in the scheme of things (I am proud of it actually), the Central Jersey Heart Walk was able to fundraise over $95,000 collectively. That can and will change lives. More importantly, it will save lives.

The actual walk was today, but with a sudden trip to Canada, I had to unfortunately miss the walk portion of it. Next year, I’ll be there for sure.

Central Jersey Heart Walk 2012

I just registered for the Central Jersey Heart Walk on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at Johnson Park  in Piscataway, NJ, will you help fight the cause?

Seven years ago, back on July 16, 2005, my dad had a heart attack. That day is forever engraved in my mind and was the scariest day of my life.

Sure he changed his lifestyle and eating habits afterwards, but wouldn’t it be nice to have prevented it from happening in the first place?

I’m walking for my dad, but more importantly I am walking with the hope that others won’t have to go through what my dad [and our family] went through!

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of all Americans? And that heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined? I would have never thought that heart disease would top [breast] cancer in women!

How many of us even know the symptoms of a heart attack? Or how much they differ in women [compared to the symptoms men feel]?

Click here to read a little more about the American Heart Association which is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases, the Nation’s No.1 and No.4 killers, claim more than 813,804 American lives a year.

I just registered, will you help fight the cause with me by donating?

Halal Food Festival

Yesterday (Sunday) marked the first annual Halal Food Festival here locally in Central New Jersey.

Did it run smoothly without any hitches? No. But you know what? An event at that scale almost never does. And for all those complaining (there seems to be quite a few of them), how about appreciating the event, and the time and effort the organizers put towards it… and if you must be a complainer — this one’s for you: how about some constructive criticism that the organizers are welcoming and actually REQUESTING. Or how about pitching in? They did ask for volunteers and such, did they not? It always surprises me that the first to complain are the last to pitch in.

I think the idea of the Halal Food Festival was brilliant, and I’m sure the organizers have learned a lot from this year for future such events. At the end of the day, there is no better way to learn than through experience.

Basically local halal restaurants set up shop, providing samples (some for free, others for $1 or $2)  and selling meals ($5-$7). The cuisines present were diverse — Mexican, Chinese, Afghani, Pakistani/Indian, and Italian to name a few. While some of the restaurants present I had been to previously, there were a few that I hadn’t heard of/been to before.

I actually ended up going twice: the first time, near the start time of the event, with my brothers and than once more several hours later with my dad and one of my brothers. The first time, it was a lot less crowded, everything seemed to be running smoothly, and I was able to walk around and see what restaurants were participating, and sample from several different places without a problem or much chaos.

When I went back later, it must have finally been DST — that’s Desi Standard Time (late to everything but expect everything) because there was a line of people waiting outside to get in. I overheard a bunch of these people complaining of the craziness inside, the lack of organization, and how most places inside were running out of food. I’m sorry but if you are showing up at an event that was expecting around 1000 people but 4000+ people actually showed up around (or past) 4:30 PM which was scheduled to run from 12 to 5 PM, you shouldn’t be complaining about any of this.

And you know what? I’m sorry, but I’d rather they run out of food than have an abundant supply of leftover that is gone to waste!

Another major complaint I heard? Parking. Tell me where parking wouldn’t be an issue for such a huge crowd? Let’s say if they do decide to rent a hall for next year, like the Expo Hall where we have had Eid prayers many times, I am sure not many would be happy to help contribute towards the rent cost.

At the end of the day, I think people need to stop complaining and learn to enjoy things. Life happens. It was a great event, and unless you are giving 100% of yourself in to the event and helping out, don’t just sit there and complain… help!

Rachel Maddow at Rutgers

I went to see Rachel Maddow speak yesterday morning bright and early at Rutgers (my alum!). The event was a part of a series of events the Eagleton Institute of Politics is holding (I went to see Nicole Wallace speak several weeks ago as well and plan on going to see Valerie Jarrett next month also).

Nicole Wallace was the Former Communications Chief under President George W. Bush and also served as the Communications Director for John McCain’s presidential campaign. You can see what she said at RU in the following video:

Anyways, back to Maddow’s visit: Yesterday’s program was called “A Conversation with Rachel Maddow” and it was basically a Q and A forum that lasted about an hour and a half. Initially Ruth Mandel (the Director of the Eagleton Institute) asked a bunch of questions before turning it over to pre-approved questions from RU students and then finally opened up to a few questions from the rest of the crowd.

I liked what Maddow had to say for the most part and one of the lines that resonated with me was that she said she had an opinion and a point of view on things that she expressed, but not an agenda. She went on to explain that her past work involved a lot of activism — and at that time she did have an agenda — to get more attention to the causes she cares for so deeply.

If you’ve ever seen her show, you probably agree that her team researches like no other to prepare for the show. It was quite surprising (to me at least) when Maddow told the RU crowd today that they always choose what stories they are going to use for the day’s show on the day of at their meeting that starts around 2 PM and then everybody on the entire team from the producers down to the interns research and how disorganized everything is.

That and the fact that she is apparently a big “downer” of a person, “depressive” and a “big grump”? Certainly did not come off as one today. Sarcastic, maybe — but we all already know that.

One of my favorite questions asked today probably was when Ruth Mandel asked Maddow who she imagines she’s talking to when she’s looking directly into the camera and passionately making her points. Maddow’s response, however, was ‘no one in particular’… just others who agree with me.

Another point I just remembered was that Maddow did point out that when she accepted the contract with MSNBC one of her only requests was that she had the freedom to choose what she wanted to talk about on her program and that MSNBC could not tell what she could or could not talk about… but also noted that she fears on a daily basis that it could be her last show and that she could be fired any day.

Oh, and of course someone asked whether MSNBC and FOX News were actually two sides of the same coin, but she dodged the question saying something to the likes of she doesn’t watch much television or something, She also wouldn’t comment on the Olbermann’s situation and just said in due time Olbermann himself would tell his story — probably after he’s settled with his new network.

One of the biggest things I disagreed with Maddow on would be her take on Pakistan. To preface, someone (I believe Mandel?… anyhow when the video is uploaded, I’ll post it here) asked Maddow that she claims to talk about the stories that no one else is talking about and wanted to know what was the number one story that no one else was talking about? Maddow’s answer was Pakistan. This is a whole another VERY LONG blog post so I’ll just leave that there.

I’ve said before that the only show I regularly watched on MSNBC was Keith Olbermann’s, but my brother Ayaz absolutely loves Maddow’s show. I will have to ask Ayaz what he thought of what Maddow said though because he agrees with Maddow on pretty much everything.

I didn’t take my camera because but here are some pictures from my phone — but I’m warning you they came out terrible especially because of the lighting:

Fortunately, Rutgers (for the most part anyways *cough* Snookie *cough*) invites pretty interesting guests, and today was no different.

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

Photographer’s Assistant

So remember, when I wrote about my cousin’s photography business here? This past Sunday I got to assist her.

She had the same client for the wedding and the valima (a reception), and since the valima was in New Jersey (and very close to where I live), she asked me to go as her assistant.

It was a great experience overall (minus having to wait THREE HOURS for the bride and groom to show up for the reception). Not to mention, I had the easy job — helping in setting up, giving my cousin the alternating lens when she needed it, looking out for photographic moments, helping with poses, etc.

I’m not sure I could deal with the stress that comes with the responsibility of being the official photographer for someone’s wedding! We all know how much I stress right?

While the bride had originally told my cousin in their meeting that she didn’t want pictures taken with the extended family, we ended up spending about two hours doing just that — where each one was claimed to be “the last one, I promise“.

Being on the other side of the lens (so to speak) for the first time at an event also gave me a new sense of appreciation for professional photographers (especially at weddings — and particularly desi ones while we are it). As annoying as photographers may seem at weddings, there’s a valid reason behind it. Desi weddings, especially, usually involve A LOT of people.

Oh, and when the professional photographer tells other people to stop taking pictures, just listen! I wasn’t even the one taking pictures, but it was annoying to me when the bride or the groom (or a extended family member) would look at someone else’s camera when my cousin asked them to look at hers. I mean, come on, you are PAYING her! Wouldn’t you want to make sure those pictures came out perfect?

My cousin recently created a blog for her business as well, where she plans to write about the events she does. You can check that out by clicking here. She’s just starting the blog out, but it should be up and running in no time.

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

Eid-ul-Adha 2010

Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating!

It’s very weird — it’s our first Eid ever without Faraz (who moved to Canada in July) and also our first Eid in our new house.

We invited our local family (around 45-50 people) for breakfast/brunch, so that should be a lot of fun!

Hope everyone has a great day with their family and friends,

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

A Quick Recap of the Weekend

I HATE when everyone leaves at the same time, and that is exactly what happened this past Sunday. We had family arriving last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for various family gatherings, but they all left Sunday.

On Friday night, our aunt and uncle (Chotti Anna and Javed Chachoo) hosted a BBQ, and it turned out to be a graduation party for all the graduates in our immediate family (six of us from NJ and one from Canada) and a house-warming party for them at the same time. Saturday, we had a brunch at our house and that night was Shahbaz’s Graduation Party.

Not only did all my aunts and uncles and their families leave, but so did Faraz!

If I said it didn’t seem weird, I would be lying.

I guess it will take some getting used to. Even though Faraz has lived away in Hoboken for five years, we still saw him a couple of time a month. We’re planning on going to Canada at the end of the month though, so we’ll see him then.

Sunday night, after all of our relatives had left, we went to see the fireworks at Piscataway High School and then yesterday went to NYC for a few hours in a the evening. It’s funny that we have lived here for so many years (ten to be exact) and haven’t really seen many of the tourist spots.

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

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.