Monday, December 28, 2015

Bajirao Mastani The Latest in a Revisionist Agenda

Bajirao Mastani is the latest attempt by a revisionist agenda of corporate India to highlight any non-Muslim figures in the history of India. Before recent times, the fact remains that the glory of India has always been under Muslim rule for over the last 1000 years - from the Delhi Sultanate to the Mughal empire.Yet the Indian media only highlights Akbar (and to some extent Shah Jahan) because Akbar was the least Muslim of the lot. He founded his own religion (Dil Ilahi) and married a Rajput princess. He is the one glorified today in India and the rest of these Muslim rulers - who led India to heights that she hasn't reached even today - are forgotten. Some are actually vilified - such as Aurangzeb - with allegations against him debunked by many historians yet repeated all the time by those with a Hindutva agenda.


Instead, we are taught about the greatness of a man Bajirao, a petty man who managed to carve a little country for himself when the Mughal empire was in decline, and who actually hastened the decline leading to the acceleration of British control over all of India. Similarly they highlight the story of another loser called Maha Rana Pratap, who sniped at the Mughals from the sides and again gave the British an opening they wanted. Meanwhile, real heroes who faught against the British such as Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan - no movies are made about them because they happen to be Muslim.

The inconvenient fact remains that for the vast majority of Indians, going from Muslim rule to British rule was merely a change of masters (and the British were the far cruel masters). Only the Muslims were affected as they used to be in power, so they fought for freedom. Not until the War of Independence (or the Indian Mutiny) did the rest of India join them. Gandhi was a much flawed man whose tactics did not win India independence - it was the guerrilla attacks by many others (such as Bhagat Singh and Master ji) and the pressure of American diplomacy amongst other factors that caused it. Gandhi did not even want independence; he wanted India to be made into a dominion. Yet today he is the father of a nation.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Guide for my Pakistani Friends About 1971


  1. Realize that no matter how close we are, 1971 is a sensitive topic. Never, even jokingly, refer to modern Bangladesh as 'East Pakistan'. In fact, NEVER joke about 1971.
  2. Realize that we do not blame you personally or hold you personally responsible for 1971 in any way. We do, however, blame your government for trying to whitewash history and pretend nothing happened.
  3. Never say, 'oh, but both sides committed atrocities'. The scale does not even compare. It's like the Nazis saying, after they have gassed thousands of Jews, that one of them threw a rock at us.
  4. I know it's hard for you to comprehend, but the army that you look up to and revere, has committed horrible war crimes, genocides and atrocities.
  5. Never say 'it's the past and we should forget it in the spirit of forgiveness and brotherhood'. Forgiveness can only be given to those that sincerely repent and ask for it. Your government has denied any atrocities, let alone ask for forgiveness.
  6. Do not automatically start speaking to a Bengali person in Urdu. Know about 1952, and ask for permission first.
  7. Visit Bangladesh. You will find almost all Pakistanis speaking positively about their time there, and visit the War Museum in Dhaka. Educate yourself about your own history.
  8. Ask your own government and challenge your own countrymen as to why 1952, 1971 are forgotten chapters in your history.
  9. Finally, stop blaming India or Indian conspiracies and start building your own country. Start tolerating, no rather, start accepting those who speak and think and believe differently than you. The mistakes you made in 1971 are being repeated today in your country on the Ahmedis and on Baluchistan. Why?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Back To The Future For Geocities

Nostalgia seems to be pretty big nowadays. Today I was surprised to see an article on nostalgia for Web 1.0.

Er, Web 1.0, you ask. What is that?

That used to be the day. This was the internet of the late 90s and early 2000s. Those were the days before Google took shape (I remember using Alta Vista search engine) and blogging was just lurking around the corner. If you wanted a website, you had to build your own. You had to know HTML, DHTML and perhaps JavaScript (nowadays you just need a blogger or wordpress account). The best example was of course Geocities.

I had a Geocities account. Curiosity got the better of me and I used an internet archiver to see what my website looked like in 2002.


I also had a little bit of space on the university website (both as a student and as a TA) and this is what it looked like (the archiver is missing some of the images as well as styles).


What I find amazing is just the sheer amount of personal information I used to put online back then! One can argue we put more information online nowadays on Facebook and LinkedIn but those are behind a password protected account and shared with friends only (or so we think). From my site in 2002 you would know the names of my friends, my class schedule, where I worked, what my interests were, where we went for holidays and what I thought about the World Cup (well, some things don't change). ANY one could have seen that and all that was preventing them from visiting my site was not knowing the exact URL.

Ironically, I see that the time when Google broke through was when Geocities began to die, and blogging started to take root. I have already been blogging since 2004 (more than a decade now; my first post was on a cricket match).



I wonder what I will be posting as nostalgia in another ten years! Perhaps we will be looking back on the glory days of Facebook!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Shaming "Child" Marriage

I recently saw this picture on my Facebook feed along with a caption "What a shame".


I decided to push on this. Why is it a shame? If both parties (and let's be real here - the older man would have no reason to say no, so the real question is the bride) have freely, without being forced either by circumstances or their family, have consented to the marriage, where is the shame?

Ah, but look at her age!

The notion that we don't marry young is a fairly modern concept.

Gandhi married when he was 13 years old (to a 14 year old girl). The famous Rana Pratap (recognized by the British as King of Mysore) got married at the age of 12 (to a 14 year old). Drew Barrymore was 16 on her first engagement, and less that twenty before her first marriage. Macaulay Culkin married when he was 17.

Even in our literature - Snow White is 14 years old when she is married to her "prince", Jasmine of Aladdin is 15, Pocahontas is 18 and Cinderella is 19. Juliet of the famous Romeo and Juliet was 13 as written by Shakespeare (while Romeo's age isn't mentioned, but he is older than her and a young man - presumably 21).

Ah, but look at the difference in their ages.

Surely it is a cause of concern. It is uncommon, it is not healthy, etc. But is it a cause of shame?

Princess Emilia of Saxony in 1533, at age 16 married the famous George the Pious who was then 48 years old. Demi Moore married Freddy Moore when she was 17 and he was 30. Let's not forget Celine Dion. She was 12 when she met her then 38-year-old future husband Rene Angelil. She was 19 when she started "dating" him. Their age difference is 26 years old. So clearly it isn't a shame for some people. A cause of concern, yes, but not shame,

You would never let your own daughter (if you had one) be in such a marriage.

Ah, but what I do or don't do or will not do in a future hypothetical situation isn't the factor here. When I was younger and was looking to get married, I wouldn't marry a Chinese girl. But that doesn't make marrying a Chinese girl wrong. It's just that our cultures would have too much differences to be easily resolved in a marriage. Some Bengalis I know have tried it, and it worked for them.

I have been brought up in a culture where people wait until they are in their 20s to get married, and they get married to someone close to them in age. Usually the guy is a little bit older. That's what I am comfortable with. But I am not going to superimpose my cultural upbringing on another culture or situation and say, "Oh what a shame".

You may be sorry at a girl in a Bangladeshi village marrying at the age of 16, but perhaps that's what she wants. Maybe this is what they are used to - and they don't know any other life style. It works for them, it makes them happy. If there's some criminal element there like forced marriages or abuse, or poverty or lack of access to clean and safe water etc. those are different issues and we should tackle those.

Let's not forget the real cause of shame.

Over 40% of women are unmarried when they give birth in the United States. The mother of the child that was just born is not married to the father. Over 48% of teens have had sex by the time they are 16. Over 28% of males and 16% of females under the age of 20 have sex with multiple partners. Over 5% of all abortions are by minors. The reasons teens most frequently give for having an abortion are that they are concerned about how having a baby would change their lives, cannot afford a baby now, and do not feel mature enough to raise a child.

A marriage involves being in a legal relationship with someone, having physical intimacy, bearing the responsibility of rearing a family and sacrificing for your kids. It looks like if you do all of these at the ages of 16-19, it's a shame, but if you are a selfish person who just wants physical intimacy, then you are OK.

What a shame.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Why the RIS List of Speakers is Inexcusable

On the very same day that Canada's new government took office with a cabinet that was made up of 50% women, the RIS (the Reviving the Islamic Spirit) Convention released its list of luminary speakers at this year's December convention.

RIS is an annual conference held since 2003, and has become one of the largest Islamic conferences in North America, along with ISNA in the USA. Over 20,000 people attended in 2015, making it the largest Islamic conference in Canada. Yet, year after year, there has been a complaint about the list of speakers at RIS, so one hoped that this year RIS would get it right.

Here is how RIS gets it spectacularly wrong (or doesn't get it at all) .

GENDER EQUALITY

It should not be lost that today was the day Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started his government in Canada and for the first time ever, the cabinet was made up of 50% women. Asked to explain why that was important, he simply - yet so powerfully - replied, "It's 2015."

What about RIS? Let's see how a conference about Islam, which many of these same scholars say gave women equal rights in 620 AD, is doing in 2015.

Out of the 23 speakers listed on the site, only 6 are women. That's merely 26%. Moreover, if the past is any precedent, the women will speak either in the morning, or early evening, while the men will get the prime time evening spots when maximum number of attendees are there. Many of the men are also scheduled to speak multiple times, while most of the women speak only once.

Is it too much to ask that out of 23 speakers, at least 10 be women? I am sure that despite the fact that some women scholars dislike to speak in front of a huge mixed gathering, we can at least find ten in the whole world?

CANADIAN CONTENT

RIS is a Canadian conference, yet where are the Canadian scholars? From the bios provided on the site, I could only find 1 Canadian. If you think women have it bad, that's  0.043%. What about renowned Canadian scholars and imams like Sheikh Yusuf Badat, Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, Sister Ingrid Mattson - just to name a few? We are in Canada, and as recent elections, governance and public discourse has proven, we are a distinct society from the United States. Why should we have a conference where the overwhelming bulk of the speakers are foreigners?

There are plenty of other reasons for criticism of RIS as well. They are too shy of courting political controversies and hence their talks are always very timid. Since Tarek Ramadan published a popular open letter as to why he doesn't attend these conferences anymore, RIS seems to have doubled down on any political activity or call to action for justice.

So if you want a timid, feel good, nothing substantial but overpoweringly fluffy male dominated foreigner populated Islamic conference, please do attend RIS.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Minority Rights on the TTC Subway

So on the subway today, as I was preparing to doze off until my stop, an elderly white gentleman seated beside me suddenly turned to me and said, "Excuse me, are you Muslim?"

When I replied in the affirmative, he said, "Can I ask you a question if you don't mind? Why is it that whenever Muslims come here, or to a Western country, they are all very nice about minority rights, but in Muslim countries minorities are treated like garbage?"

It was a very loaded question, and though he was a soft spoken man, I could see a couple of other people turn in to listen.

"Great," I thought. "Here I go, being the representative of 1.6 billion people."

"Thank you," I told him, "That you asked me. If you have questions about Muslims, go to a Muslim, or to the mosque. Is there any particular Muslim country you are thinking of?"

As chance would have it, he mentioned Bangladesh (how a secular publisher was hacked to death by fundamentalists) and Pakistan (whose Hindu minority is fleeing to India). I then asked him if he followed any religion. Very proudly, he replied he was a Catholic, and sang praises about the current Pope and his tolerance.

"Tell me one thing." I asked him. I was very grateful for the fact that he was willing to listen and engage. "Have the Catholics always been tolerant of minorities? Is there not a history of massacre and mayhem in Catholic history, particularly during the Crusades? Forget the fact that they massacred a whole city of Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem, these knights were personally blessed by the Pope and they killed Orthodox Christians by the thousands!"

He was quiet for a while, and then replied, "But that's in the past, IF it's true. I am talking about the present."

"Do you know who Rana Bhagwandas is?" I asked him. This is where I was glad I recently read about the very two people I would talk about now.

"No." He replied. "Is he Indian?"

"He is actually the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan." I replied (I didn't know that he had passed away this year, something I found out when composing this post). "A Hindu. A recent Captain of Pakistan cricket was Yousaf Youhana, a Christian then. Do you know who the current chief justice of Bangladesh is?"

When he said he didn't know, I replied it is a Hindu person as well (I didn't know the name then, but it's Surendra Kumar).

Then I told him, "No doubt, it is not as rosy as it is for minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, as it is for Muslims here in Canada. But those countries have other political problems, and religion is just one factor. Many Muslims also die in the political violence there."

"But what about Saudi Arabia?" He said. "You can't build a church there, or drink beer, and the women are treated like animals."

"Have you been to Dubai? Or Beirut?" I asked him. "Those are right next to Saudi."

"I haven't been there," He conceded.

"I lived in the UAE." I told him. "Lots of expatriates there, many of them Christian and they have their own churches and services. They are not allowed to convert anyone though, In Lebanon, by law the President has to be a Christian and the Prime Minister a Muslim."

"But what about Saudi?" He insisted. "It is the home of Islam. In Rome, we recently built the largest mosque in Europe."

"I would think the home of Christianity is in the Holy Land." I really cannot defend Saudi Arabia, so I switched the venue. "Jerusalem, where Christ preached. His Church of Nativity still stands today, after a 1000+ years of Muslim rule. In fact, till today, the person holding the key of the Church is a Muslim, because the Christians are fighting amongst themselves."

I then decided to go on the offensive. "In this country, Canada, the Harper government has spent thousands of your dollar trying to prevent a woman, a Muslim and a minority, from covering her face. Where was the respect for minority rights then? In Quebec, they tried to ban women from covering their hair get government services. Where was the respect for minorities there? In France, women cannot cover their hair and go to school. Is that respect for minority rights?"

"Well..." He was quiet for a bit. "They are immigrants who should respect the culture of the land they moved to, and not try to impose their way on the majority."

"And that," I told him, "is what a fundamentalist in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Burma would say."

We talked some more, but my stop had arrived, so I shook his hand and departed. I don't know if I changed his mind (he didn't seem convinced), but the hardest part in all of this exchange was for me to maintain my cool.

It would have been so easy to lash out and say "well f*** you the Western imperial army has destroyed the Middle East and support regimes and blah blah f*** you and look at black people being killed in USA" but I don't think that would have accomplished anything. I also went and did some reading on minority rights and the West. Hopefully I will run into this gentleman again.

Monday, October 12, 2015

How Life Changes When You Have Kids

No one really, really tells you how your life will change once you have kids. Every one is like, "aww... how sweet! You are going to be parents! Amazing!"

I remember the first time I had to see a diaper change. It was sometime just after the birth of our first born, when I opened his diaper ... and saw "meconium". For the uninitiated, this looked like something they use when paving roads. I looked at my wife and she looked back at me, and we were both like 'we have no idea how to do this'. Thankfully my mother was there to show us what to do.

I think our adjustment cycle went somewhat like this.
 

Stages of Early ParenthoodWhat it means
Denial Nothing has changed. We can still do what we used to do. We actually booked and went on a trip to Thailand with a six month old baby. Poor son.
Religion It's 3 AM. Please go to sleep. PLEASE! I beg of you. Ya Allah!
Bargaining The Wife: It's your turn to change him.
Me: No, it's YOUR turn. I did it last time.
The Wife: No, I did it. Remember it was the big poop and you didn't want to do it.
Me: That doesn't count because this time it's pee. I changed the last pee.
The Wife: So, the next time he poops you will change him?
Acceptance You know how we used to say we would be those parents that never let our kids watch TV? Or put them to sleep on schedule?
LOL.
ROFL. My Netflix used to have all horror movies as my recommendations. Now it's all about Caillou and Bubble Guppies and how they are a reliable baby sitter (don't judge!).
Memory Loss Oh, remember how cute he was? Why don't we have another one? Nothing will change, really.

Here's some things that are never the same:

Dinner Parties:

Yes, I can do dinner. Can we be done by 7 pm please? Hello? Hello?

Song in my head:

There was a time when I would whistle a Bollywood tune when I am busy. Now I am angry because often the theme song for Thomas and His Friends won't leave my head.

And if you ask any parents, they wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Lego with the Son #1

So recently at Walmart I suddenly spotted the Lego set 76026 on clearance, and picked one up.


This Sunday, with no plans but to stay home and rest, I decided I would build this set with my three-year-old son. Yes, I know the set says age 6 and up, but as everyone knows, Lego age ranges are conservative.

I helped him with some of the tougher steps, and soon he was playing with Grodd and Flash.


"Now, remember." I told him. "Grodd the gorilla is the bad guy, and Flash is the good one."

"But ..." He was puzzled. "All Grodd wants is a banana. What's so bad about that?"

Well, how do you answer that. Soon, all the figures were assembled.


"This is Captain Cold." I told him. "He is also a bad guy."

"I like his gun. I will make him the good guy."

"No! You can't do that." I tried to tell him. "You are playing it wrong."

I left him alone for some time, and then I came back to find all the figures sitting in one spot on the table.

"What are they doing?"

"Well," He said. "They are all watching a movie. They are friends."

OK. I am guessing this was for 6 year olds after all. Three year olds are too innocent!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tobermory and Cottage

So it has been a busy summer, and therefore a lack of posts here.

Cottage. Now there's a word that has completely flipped its meaning for me. When I was a child, I knew that in Bangladesh, the rich and middle class lived in nice houses and apartments, while the poor people in villages lived in kure ghor, or huts and cottages. Coming here to Canada, a cottage is something a well to do person owns. It's a nice rustic place in a scenic environment, usually by the lake, and far from the maddening crowd of the city.

This summer, we rented a small cottage up north, in the Bruce Peninsula, near the town of Tobermory.


It was nice and modern, so we weren't completely "roughing" it. There was running water, and a hot water tank so we could take hot showers. There was heating and an air conditioner (we didn't need it, even though it was June).




In the humid afternoon you could just sit by the deck chair. We weren't quite by the lake, so we didn't have a lakeside view, but there were places to BBQ and a fireplace if we wanted to build one in the night.


The rooms were amply decorated with sparse but adequate furnishing, and we had a good night sleep after a busy day of excursions. It's also quite a relaxing feeling waking up early morning to a warm cup of tea.



Tobermory is a small town. The whole downtown of it could probably fit between Aisle 1 and 7 of a typical Walmart Supercentre. I was last there in 2009, and not much has changed in what the town offers to tourists and visitors.



Like most visitors, we chose a glass bottom tour to the Flowerpot Island. Be warned, if you have a baby in a stroller (like we did) and another toddler, this is not for you. We didn't know, but there is a ship-to-ship transfer near the island (try doing that in a windy lake with a heavy stroller!) and also, the trails on Flowerpot Island aren't proper wooden paths, so very stroller unfriendly.



The ship sails over shipwrecks that you can see through the glass bottom floor because the water is so clear. However, the best (and stunning) view is from the top deck, where you can truly see the wreck in its entirety.


There's lots of nice vistas and scenic views to take pictures of during the cruise. It reminded me of our Thousand Islands cruise.


The "flowerpots" come into view.



Can you spot the "old man facing out to the lake" in the flowerpot above?


Here's a snap of the two big flowerpots in the same frame on Flowerpot Island.


The turquoise clear blue water is one of the big highlights of Bruce Peninsula.


Of course, I have to include a word about the Fish 'n Chips here. You cannot visit Tobermory without trying the fresh whitefish. It is delicious to the power thousand.



This time, many restaurants also include veggie samosas as an option!

Overall it's a very nice town, and a scenic departure from the usual city life. "Cottaging" and trekking up north is a very Canadian thing to do, it's almost a summer ritual.
 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ignoring Phone Calls

This actually happened today at work.

C: Hey man, why didn't you meet us for lunch?

D: Oh, I didn't know you guys were going. Why didn't you call or text me?

C: I did! Look at your phone! You must have over 4-5 missed calls and texts!

D: Oooh ... right. I actually thought it was my wife, that's why I didn't pick up. Sorry man.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I am skeptical about the US led witch hunt on FIFA

By now it's old news that an US-led investigation has led to Swiss officials arresting seven top FIFA officials in Zurich, and the US fraud inquiry has already indicted 14 people. Loretta Lynch is the woman who took on FIFA. Amidst all of this, Sepp Blatter has just won re-election as the head of FIFA.

Pardon me if I am not amongst the majority who are 100% enthusiastic about the US led witch hunt into FIFA.

  1. Blatter has been good for world football. For so long has football remained an Euro-centric game, with some token South Americans. It was Blatter who took the World Cup to Asia (in Korea/Japan 2002) and to Africa (South Africa in 2010).
  2. It was Blatter who expanded the World Cup to 32 teams, and then changed the rules so that African and Asian teams have a greater chance of qualification.
  3. It was under Blatter that a lot of investment has gone into football outside the traditional powers. Cricket could learn something from the way FIFA globalizes the game. No wonder Africa and Asia loves Blatter.
  4. Everyone seems up in arms about the decision to award the games to Russia and Qatar (with allegations of bribery and corruption) yet no one bats an eye into the way Germany nipped the World Cup in 2006, right when everyone assumed it would go to South Africa. The media keeps bringing up the corruption of the Qatar bid, yet no one talks about how Salt Lake City got the Olympics from IOC in 2002.
  5. When did the US start to investigate FIFA? Right after their failed bid in 2010. If they had been awarded the world cup, all things were then hunky dory?
  6. US Senators repeatedly tried to pressure FIFA into dumping Russia as a host. Citing the occupation of Crimea and Russia's involvement in Ukraine, they conveniently forget all the wars and lands occupied by the US soldiers since the Second World War. The Iraq war alone has caused the deaths of far more civilians than any recent Russian military adventure.
  7. All of this as FIFA was set to suspend Israel. The Palestinians have now dropped their effort after the corruption probe.
So yes, it does look like there was corruption in FIFA, but there's a whole lot more going on than it meets the eye.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Halal Foodie Reviews

I have started to write for Halal Foodie, a website devoted to halal restaurants and food in and around Toronto, as well as restaurant discounts and promotions. Till date I have reviewed three restaurants for them.

Curry & Co

Pizza La Rosa

Chill Grill and Café (formerly known as House of Bengal)

Head over to Halal Foodie to read the reviews and let me know whether you agree or disagree via the comments. Happy eating!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to Attract Women

So I was shopping with my wife for groceries when suddenly she said, "We MUST stop over here."

Another man was walking past when his wife told him, "Let's go HERE."

The man was obviously in a hurry to get away from "here" but his wife wouldn't budge.

This is where HERE was.

 
So you need a six pack to attract women, for those with Dad bods (apparently there's such a thing), some of these might do the trick as well. And judging by the traffic at the counter, women were definitely turning their heads to take another look.
 

I don't mind saying even I was definitely awestruck enough to compete with my wife for the delicious goodies.

"Oh, you are taking three pastries?! So am I!"

In fact, this post made me so hungry, I am going to go have my black forest slice right now.

Picture of the Adonis pastry section, Eglinton and Warden, Toronto, Canada.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rejecting the Kindness of Strangers

So there I was, sitting on the food court of the mall with my son Yusuf. We were waiting for my wife to finish her shopping. I was sitting, sipping my cup of tea, while the son was busy with a toy that I occasionally had to feign interest in. All of a sudden I see two hands reaching out to give my son a couple of candies.

It was an old lady seated at the next table in the food court. She was having nuts from a bag, and was dressed in a shalwar kameez and had a scarf on, and a smile on her face.

"Your son is so cute, MashAllah." She said, munching on her nuts.

"Why, thank you." I said. Even as I beamed her a smile, my mind was running in a different direction.

Don't unwrap the candy. Don't even think of eating it. I silently prayed, trying to mentally project my orders to my son. Happily, my son was not too hungry - he was just fascinated by the shiny wrapper on the candy, but at that moment the toy had more attraction to him.

"Do you want some?" Before I could say anything else, the lady took a handful of nuts and offered them to us. And when I say offered, I mean she literally dumped them on our table. At this point, I did have to take a firmer stance.

"Er, we don't really eat nuts, and my son is definitely a fussy eater."

I took the nuts and placed them back on her table.

"But thank you anyways."

Later, when we left, I took the candies (they were some toffee that looked Chinese) and threw them into the bin, feeling guilty as I did so. The lady seemed thoroughly a nice old kindly lady, but I wasn't going to feed mystery food to my kid.

It's the society that we live in now that we have to reject the kindness of strangers. I myself would never offer my own food to another person's child, and as a man I would never comment on another baby's cuteness or pet him. Even as we have become more connected via online, in reality we have built these highly invisible walls around ourselves and woe betide anyone who wants to break them. And why not, when there are sickos like these in our society.

For the evil of a few, the goodness of the many must be shunned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

For so long we South Asians in Canada had to do with a milk jug. White people visiting our house would leave mystified as to why we have a milk jug in the washroom. What possible use could it serve? Alas, it has all to do the Lota, thus ensuing we have squeaky clean bums.

But fear not. Due to creeping Sharia / mass immigration / desification we now have the Mrs Bidet attachment.

According to Home Depot's website, it can be used by the whole family (though, presumably, not at the same time)! Only, why did they call it an "European bathroom accessory" ? Since when did those 17th century Europeans engage in bathroom hygiene?  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Every Day is NOT Mother's Day

So while perusing through Facebook I saw that one of my friends had posted this.


This is not her original post, of course, but a retweet (or a repost, if you will) of some "Islamic" group that shared/created/plagiarized this image.

Now everyone has the right to an opinion (no matter how deluded) so here's mine on this image (and others of that ilk).

  • This picture claims that every day is Mother's Day in Islam because Islam encourages you to respect, love, obey and honour your mother everyday. My question: so which religion doesn't? Every religion that I know of thinks it's a great idea to respect, love, obey and honour thy parents. So Every Day is Mother's Day in Islam / Judaism / Christianity / Hinduism / Buddhism / Taoism / ...ism.
  • Mother's Day is primarily a North American festival. You don't like it where you live, you don't need to celebrate it. There's nothing in Islam requiring you to believe in Mother's Day, but there's nothing preventing you from celebrating it either.
  • We should treat our mothers every day like it's Mother's Day, but in reality (and practically) it's not doable, so we take out one day to do something really special for our mothers. I don't really believe in cards or flowers, so the whole "commercialization of the day" is really lost on me, but I do something, like taking the whole family to a restaurant or something special.
In reality it's not just about Mother's Day. You see these pseudo-salafis (they are like the right wing Hindu nutjobs in India who go crazy on Valentine's Day) post similar stuff on Father's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Sharia Appreciation Day (ok so I made the last one up). On Christmas they usually post notices about how it is a mortal sin to wish someone Merry Christmas. On New Year they will post statuses on how there is only two Eids in Islam, and so on.

So maybe we need a Just Chill day. Where everyone can agree (that it's a holiday) to Just Chill. Most likely those pseudo-salafis will have a problem with that as well.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Viktoria Professional Movers - The Difference In Hiring a Good Mover vs a Cheap Mover

I recently moved condos in Toronto. For the first time I was in a position to spend money on professional movers (rather than googling online for cheap movers) and it made a ton of difference.

Moving is stressful enough, and you don't want a hassle with unprofessional movers on moving day. Yes, I was lucky I never got scammed in Toronto, but there's a lot of dishonest people trying out their schemes in the moving businesses.

You find someone from craiglist or kijiji, and it is usually a desi uncle with a van who has hired three students on contract. They don't really care about customer service, they lack proper care with your valuables and there's always some broken stuff. Sometimes they don't even complete the job properly. Moreover, I didn't want movers who show up late. I have to book the service elevators in both condos (where I am moving out of and where I am moving into) so I needed movers to be on time. 

So this time, I decided to not just go for a cheap quote, but shop around and hire a good, professional moving company. I hired Viktoria Professional Movers and had such a good experience that I had to post about it.

The first target for anyone looking for these kinds of services is http://homestars.com. They have categories for all types of work, and one of them is movers. Not only do they have a comprehensive listing of companies, but also ratings and reviews by ordinary customers. Based on those ratings, I contacted a few companies for a quote. In the end, I decided (based mostly on reviews but also pricing that I considered reasonable) on Viktoria Professional Movers. In addition, they also had an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.

When I booked with them, I had to give them a list of things I wanted moved, so they could give me a proper estimate of time required and the pricing. I also had to give them the timings of the elevator bookings.

The first sign that I was dealing with a proper moving company and not a cheap one was when they arrived right on time at 11.30 am. I had booked the first service elevator from 12-2 pm, so I wanted them to come half an hour before to get started and they were right on time. They had already talked with the concierge and had the service elevator in service even before they knocked on my door.

The next sign I saw is how they spread rollers over the hardwood floor of the condo so their dollies wouldn't leave any mark (and move more smoothly!).


It was just a two men crew, but they worked fast. They took an immediate survey of what needed to be moved, identified which were the more fragile items, and then got to work. Here is a picture of the dresser - they removed the mirror and wrapped it in blankets for safety, and then shrink wrapped the rest of the dresser so there would be no scratches.


The sofa was truly a work of art. My sofas aren't really condo sized, but really large (the comfy ones you can sink into). They took out the legs and then wrapped it in blankets, and then in shrink wrap.
 


They had a 26 foot truck, and we were able to fit everything in one trip.

 
 
Inside the truck, the wall of the truck had notches where you could attach belts with hooks. Thus all the furniture was securely tied up and held in place.
 




 
Everything was done on time, and we reached the second condo at 2 pm, right when I had booked the elevator there. Once again, everything was done properly. Each piece of furniture was placed where I wanted it to be, and they were very professional about everything. The movers were also courteous and polite, and it was really a pleasure to do business with them. I would not hesitate to recommend Viktoria to anyone requiring a move here.

And I recommend everyone to spend a little bit more money for that peace of mind when you move.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Mystery of the Disappearing Enid Blyton

I love reading, and growing up I had a library of books at home. Unlike many others, I can actually pinpoint the first book that I read which would make me fall in love with reading itself.



The Mystery of the Invisible Thief, by Enid Blyton. I still have my copy from 1989, back when I was still in primary school. It opened an amazing world to me - kids my age having adventures, going places by themselves, solving mysteries and having a "smashing time" that I could only dream of. It also helped that this was one of the best books from Blyton's best series - The 5 Find Outers - so before long I was rushing off to finish other books from other series such as The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.

I recently started to commute to work by public transit, after a decade of driving to work. The long time spent on the bus and subway meant I had to fill that with something (other than sleep!), so I returned to an old love - books. And I managed to dig out my old collection of Blyton novels and especially the 5 Findouter series. And the books are perfect for my hour long commute. Enough time (to and from work) to finish one book!


Enid Blyton was one prolific writer. Everyone of us who grew up in the Middle East in the 80s and 90s grew up reading her books. From Malory Towers (oh my God school can be this fun?), Noddy (really for kids but so funnily politically incorrect now), the fantasy Faraway Tree series, as well as her Adventure and Mystery series of books. My favourite - of course - remains the 5 Findouters.

Not only was she a fun and easy read for young children, but boy she was hilarious as well. These are excerpts from the Mystery of the Strange Bundle.




It was all I could do to stop myself from bursting out into uncontrollable laughter on the subway. I am sure my co-passengers would have reported a crazy 30+ year old man reading children's books and laughing like a madman, but this was how funny that book was.

In fact, one lady seating beside me once suddenly told me, "Wow! Enid Blyton! You don't see those books here now!"

And that was what led me to post this - I wonder why. Why do kids nowadays not have the same pleasure we had of reading Enid Blyton's books? Why is she hardly known amongst children today? My mom used to read her books as a child, and so did all my teachers, and then so did I and all my friends and cousins. If Twilight is what young kids read nowadays, I feel sorry for this generation.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

You guys have such a Hindu culture!

"You guys have such a Hindu culture!"

The above was said to me by a Pakistani acquaintance just as we were discussing the 3-0 drubbing that Bangladesh handed out to Pakistan in the recent cricket ODI series. He wanted to know if our player Soumya Sarkar was a Hindu. 

"Honestly, I don't know." I replied. "I was curious about it as well. Sarkar is a last name common to both Hindus and Muslims in Bangladesh, and Soumya is just a first name."

That's when he said it. 

"You Bengalis are so much like Hindus!"

"Please explain." I asked him, in the mood for a good argument.

He struggled, of course.

"I ... don't know exactly," He said. "Your names. I knew a Bengali Muslim called Bijoy. That's a Hindu name. Your dresses ... Your culture ... You guys celebrate holidays like new year that is un-Islamic."

In a calm (so unlike me!) and logical manner, I tackled all his arguments (but of course he wouldn't budge from his opinion).

Typical Arrogance

Realize the statement "Bengali has a huge Hindu influence", no matter it's validity or lack thereof, comes from a base of arrogance. There is a huge arrogance amongst speakers of Urdu (and sometimes Farsi) - that they are somehow more Islamic, just by virtue of their language and lineage.

In 1952, the ruling West Pakistani elite viewed support for Urdu as support for an Islamic identity, and support for Bangla as being a traitor to "Islamic" Pakistan. Jinnah actually had the audacity to say, "Urdu embodies the best that is in Islamic culture and Muslim tradition and is nearest to the languages used in other Islamic countries." His arrogant nature was at its peak when he asked a few Bengali students, on a visit to then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), whether Bengalis could boast of any great men of letters in their history.

Pakistanis also uniquely believe Pakistan is an "Islamic" country, and therefore anyone who is Muslim should support Pakistan (and anything Pakistani, like the Urdu language). Thus Shoaib Malik infamously thanked all Muslims for supporting Pakistan in the first World T20 final when they played against India, ignoring the man of the match award which went to an Indian Muslim. Anything not seen as "Pakistani", such as the Bengali language, must therefore be non-Muslim, or Hindu.

Pride of Lineage

Urdu speaking Muslims of the South Asian subcontinent are almost always proud of their heritage. They see themselves as more Muslim, or more authentic Muslim, while the dark skinned Bengalis are seen as recent converts from Hinduism and therefore less pure. Nothing of course, could be further from the truth. Islam came to the subcontinent at roughly the same time, and whether you are a Muslim from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Bhutan - all of your ancestors were likely Hindus or Buddhists. The Arabs who conquered and settled in the Indian subcontinent viewed everyone as from "Hind". Yet, look what Ayub Khan, the President of Pakistan, once said.

Bengali Islam was the religion of the indigenous depressed peasant convert; in West Pakistan, Islam was the faith of the conquerors, the rulers, the courtiers. Bengali Islam was a faith associated with the "downtrodden races".

You say Hindu influence like it's a bad thing

It is obvious, undeniable and academically incorrect to say there is no Indian influence in the South Asian culture. From Peshawar to Chittagong, we have similar food, clothes, mannerisms, and so on. We all watch the same Bollywood movies and dance to the same Bollywood songs. We also have our regional variances, and thus you have Pashto, Malayalam, Bengali, Tamil etc. - multiple languages and cultures. And all these cultures have some common elements, and some variances - and within them you have people of many religions.

Where Bengali Muslims have differentiated from Urdu speaking Muslims is that even by adopting Islam, we have not lost our culture or language. In Pakistan (especially) there is a drive to Arabize themselves - seeing it as more Islamic. This was prominent under the Zia regime. When Bangladesh was part of Pakistan, they tried it on the Bengalis (and failed). In 1949 the government of East Pakistan (an Urdu speaking governor) set up a East Bengal Bhasha (Language) Committee which said Bengali should be written in Arabic script. The government saw the whole language as "corrupt" and tried to change it. The report actually stated, ""Sanskritization of the language should be avoided" and it was to exclude the Sanskrit words from Bengali and replace them by Urdu, Arabic or Persian words to “conform to the Islamic ideology."

Bengalis reject such false standards of "Islamism".

The small stuff - cultural, not religious

So when an Urdu speaking person complains we Bengali muslims have a lot of Hindu influence, all what I said above is what is really going on. Arrogance, a false pride of lineage and Islamism, and an attempt to be Arab. Yet, of course they can point to the small stuff like our names, our dress and our celebrations. Let's get to that.

What is wrong with a name like Bijoy?

It means victory. Same as Fatih. And it has the same roots as say Nasr. Yet, is Fatih and Nasr more "Islamic", simply because it's Arab? What about the names of the famous Tabiyeen who lived during the Prophet's time, whose name was As-hum? You know him better as the Najjashi. Those are not Arabic names. Neither is Bilal. And we know Salman as a Persian name. It is a good meaning and being Muslim that makes your name Islamic, not just Arabic. And may I remind you, of the 25 prophets named in the Quran, only 4 were Arabs. The rest all had non-Arab names.

Is there anything wrong with celebrating Boishakhi?

No, not really. Depends on what you do when you "celebrate". There is nothing really Islamic, or un-Islamic, about a holiday. It's just a day with an interesting history.

However, as I said, those are the small stuff. Undeniably, we have commonalities with people who lived in our lands for centuries and share the same culture and food. No, a statement like that is not about the small stuff. It has darker roots.

And the ironic tragedy is that such arrogance, coming from a supposedly "Muslim" culture, is what broke up the largest Muslim state of the twentieth century.


 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why Muslims Should Educate Their Women, and Learn From Them

Note: This article was first published, with minor changes for format, in The Message, the official magazine publication of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. To contact The Message, please email themessage@msautsc.com.

On December 7, 2013, Al Maghreb Institute, a leading institute teaching Islamic education around the world, announced a news so revolutionary, so ground breaking, that it was reported on multiple Islamic websites, channels and forums around the world. A special Youtube commercial was put out days before advertising that a revolutionary announcement was coming. There, in front of a crowd of 10,000 at an Islamic conference, Al Maghreb made the news official. Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed, a qualified Islamic speaker and scholar, was joining Al Maghreb as an instructor, and would be teaching a class on “purification of the heart”. She would become the first female instructor to join Al Maghreb.

Now, if that seems shocking, know this: Mogahed was just walking in the path trod upon by many women scholars before her; yet for some peculiar reason a female instructor teaching Islamic knowledge now seems so out of place, so wrong that it’s shocking. It wasn’t always so.

Sheikh Navaid Aziz once said, “When we look into our deep and rich history we find that women played a big role in Islamic scholarship and academia.” He quotes Abu 'Abdillah Al-Hakim (author of the Mustadrak) as saying, “If we were to abandon the narrations only found by women we would be forced to abandon a quarter of the shariah.” This indicated that not only did women attend the sermons and teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the mosque, they narrated them to others after his death.

Indeed the other three quarters also have hadith narrated by both men and women. Aisha bint Abu Bakr, the young wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), has recounted a large number of hadith to her nephew Urwah. She also used to hold classes and lecture the masses in the mosque of the Prophet, teaching from behind a curtain. Umm al-Dardaa was another woman whom all seven compilers of Hadith (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Nasaai, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad) narrated from. In the 15th century, Fatimayah al-Bataihiyyah taught Hadith in the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, and the chief male scholars of the day, from as far afield as Fez, were her students.

Some of the famous male scholars also had female scholars as their teachers. Imam Bukhari, the famous collector of Hadith, was taught by his mother, a scholar in her own right. Ibn Hajar was taught seventeen books of Hadith by Abdil Hadi, another female scholar. Ibn Hajar’s wife, Anas Khatun, regularly gave public lectures that were attended by both men and women.

Our rich history shows that women were not restricted to religious scholarship alone. While many scholars of science (such as Ibn Haitham, the father of optics) were also religious scholars, by the 9th century students in Islamic lands had lots of options for specialization. The University of Karaouin, currently the world’s oldest university, was established by a Muslim woman in Fez, Morocco in 859 AD. Men and women studied there, as well as in Baghdad, where Caliph Mamun established the House of Wisdom – a university, a library, a research center all in one.

The jewel in the crown is the book by Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a famous Indian scholar of fiqh, Hadith and Arabic. In 1999, he started to research on female hadith scholars, or muhaddithat, expecting to find around 20-30 such scholars throughout the 1400 years of Islamic history. Instead, in 2007 he finished writing a 53-volume book documenting the lives of over 8000 such female scholars, starting with Umm al Darda, a Companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Looking at all of this rich history of female scholarship, it is really a surprise that today, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the stock image of an Islamic scholar is an old gray bearded man. Women are seen often as victims and subjects of Islamic law, rather than its shapers and teachers. Today, many women dare not even pray in the mosque, let alone lecture leaders in them on the finer points of Islamic law. Today, there are a few Muslim countries where men shoot and kill girls as young as ten for the simple “crime” of going to school. They are not allowed to interact, study with, or talk to men. Whereas during the medieval times women used to constitute around 15% of the elite scholarship, today it’s a ground breaking news when one, ONE woman scholar is appointed to teach a single class. Such misogyny, looking from history, has no place in Islam.

The decline has several reasons. In the ninth century the Mu’tazila movement spread in the Muslim capital Baghdad, and even the Caliph was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. As ancient Greek works and ideas encroached into Islamic thought, so did their views of women as soul less and sub human. The often cited (and scientifically nonsensical) point, “men are smarter than women” or “men are better at science” has its origins in ancient Greek philosophy.

During the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, the Muslim empires (and centres of scholarship) were under constant sustained attack by foreign forces such as the Crusaders and Mongols. Scholarship took a backseat as survival became the name of the game. In fact, many historians say the remnants of the impact of the Mongol devastation of Baghdad can still be felt today – this was the precise moment in history where the Muslims stopped their efforts to lead the world and soon (a few hundred years later), the Western world would pick up that mantle.

Today, we cannot allow this to continue. Women make up to 50% of our population and any nation that ignores half of its resources cannot be fruitful. Even Saudi Arabia recognized this, and the late King Abdullah established the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology where women were allowed to freely study and mix with men in the pursuit of knowledge.

To free our women from this intellectual bondage, and empower them, we don’t need to look far; Allah provides a glorious example in the Quran. The most manliest of all men that we know of is the Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him). One Hadith says Musa (peace be upon him) once punched the Angel of Death, who had appeared in the shape of a man before him, knocking his eye out. This was the brave and fearless man who stood up to an Egyptian who he thought was torturing a Jew. This is the same Musa who single-handedly and bravely stands up against the gang men harassing Saphurah and her sister at the wells of Madian (little knowing that soon he would marry Saphurah). Such was Musa, peace be upon him.

And yet, Allah also mentions the women who all played a part in making Musa (peace be upon him) who he was. We start with his mother, who bravely takes an inspired decision and carries out Allah’s command, even if that meant abandoning her own baby in the river. Her knowledge would later benefit Musa (peace be upon him) when he would say, after killing the Egyptian, “This is from Satan. Oh Allah, forgive me.”

Miriam, his sister, is the intelligent girl who is told to follow the basket down the river. Miriam is the brave girl who follows the basket in a distance. She is living a religious life in a land where she is the oppressed minority, yet she keeps her wits about her when she finds a way to reunite mother and child, thus fulfilling the promise of Allah. Asiah, the wife of the Pharoah, and one whom the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said is a lady perfect in her faith, is the next woman to influence Musa (peace be upon him). She tolerates the torture of the Pharoah with patience and forbearance, praying a beautiful prayer to Allah that is mentioned in the Quran. Finally, we have the wife of Musa (peace be upon him), a woman brave enough to go out to work in a land full of dangerous men, a lady bashful and modest enough when her father sends her to fetch Musa (peace be upon him), a lady intelligent enough to spot the potential of Musa (peace be upon him) as she suggests to her father to employ him, a lady religious enough to support her now husband Musa (peace be upon him) as he begins his Prophethood ten years later.
Such were the women mentioned in the Quran as an example for us to follow, and it is about time we followed them.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

"Spring" in Canada

Spring in Canada was supposed to begin on March 20, 2015. The news channels gleefully report the low temperatures as "spring" officially begins. Yet, I have to say to these folk - you use the word "Spring", but I don't think it means what you think it means.

So last week (in fact on Good Friday, two days ago) it was a brilliant, sunny 17 C. A perfect Spring day. Yet this morning, we in Toronto woke up to this.


Yup, snow. And temperature a chilly 3 C. That's lower than what is in your fridge (the bottom portion). Sometimes I wonder why I am here. If it wasn't the peace and security of life, a good sense of law and order, freedom of speech and religion, top notch healthcare, a First World life style of convenience and comfort, liberty to pursue a life of happiness and accordance of full rights as a citizen and a sense of belonging - not many people would live here.

For the last 2 years I worked at a job that required a lot of travelling within the United States. Whenever I would go visit San Diego or Southern California, during the winter, and see that their lowest temperature is what we would consider Spring, I would rethink my decision to live in Toronto. If only Canada had an area like that!



Meanwhile, let's enjoy Spring. Summer can't be too far away.

If you were to have told me, when I lived in UAE, that I would actually look forward to summer, I would have called you crazy. It just tells you, the grass on the other side ...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Final Prediction

Finally, after a month and a half, we are on the cusp of crowning a new ODI champion. The World Cup finalists are the two co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand were lucky to get through their semi final. It was the first time their all out attack policy was looking to backfire. They had used up all their premier bowlers, and South Africa still had enough wickets and overs left to launch their own batting attack. While 350 was always on the cards from then on, I would not have been surprised had they made 400. Batting first, lots of wickets, no pressure - you get that target easily - as South Africa has already done twice this World Cup.

And then came the rain - South Africa's nemesis in knock out games - and knocked off 7 important overs that South Africa was looking to accelerate in. They still set New Zealand a stiff target, a stiff target in a short chase is easier than a stiffer target in a longer chase. And the rest was history as New Zealand held on to their nerves just a wee bit better than the South Africans.

Australia, on the other hand, had an easier semi final. India chocked and collapsed while chasing a stiff target, just like Bangladesh had in their quarter final against India. Australia had the relatively easier group as well, beating the likes of England and Sri Lanka easily (although up until Chandimal's cramps, Sri Lanka were remarkably in the game chasing 370). There was only one game they lost - coincidentally to New Zealand - and it's this game that will give New Zealand some confidence going into the final.

Everything, every card, speaks against New Zealand. The final is in Australia, at the vast MCG, and Australia are simply the boss of their home situations. They have an awesome batting line up that bats deep, with X factor players such as Maxwell, and a fearsome bowling line up that features Mitchell Starc as one of the leading wicket takers of the tournament.

Yet the same could be said of the New Zealand team. They have an awesome batting line up that bats deep, with X factor players such as McCallum (leading from the top), and a fearsome bowling line up that features Trent Boult as one of the leading wicket takers of the tournament. They also have one thing Australia doesn't have - a quality spinner in Vettori.

It would be a fitting finale between two teams that really are evenly split. I am going to give the prediction to New Zealand - simply because it's time for them to win. And I think they can do it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Semi Final Predictions

Only one match remains between four teams and the World Cup final. The best four teams are in the semi finals, and each match remains too close to call. Before going into the semi final predictions, let's see how I did with the quarter final predictions.

Sri Lanka vs. South Africa
This one was a complete surprise as Sri Lanka did not even put up a fight. Just like the final four years ago, Sri Lanka show up to a knock out game and try to change things that worked for them throughout. What was the need to change their opening combination? And why did they try to go for pinch hitting at the top of the order when every team has tried to block and preserve wickets initially this world cup? We'll never know now, as South Africa simply walked over them while Sri Lanka chocked. In effect, they pulled a South Africa ... on South Africa.

Bangladesh vs. India
This game will always be known for the crucial umpiring errors that ALL went in favour of India at crucial moments of the game; the most famous of them being the no-ball-that-wasn't called. At that time India was well under the cosh, being bullied by Bangladesh and denied the runs, and then Rohit Sharma got caught. Alas! The umpire called a no-ball when it clearly wasn't. Raina was later not given LBW by the slimmest of margins. And finally, Bangladesh's in form batsman, Mahmudullah was declared out when it was a six, caught at the boundary. India was the stronger team and deserved to win, but their victory will always have a huge question mark.

Pakistan vs. Australia
We'll never know what could have happened had Rahat not dropped Watson off Wahab Riaz, but Pakistan was always against it when their batsmen flopped (again).

New Zealand vs. West Indies
Another game that went according to form. Poor West Indies!

THE SEMIS

New Zealand vs. South Africa
This game is too close to call. New Zealand has the best opening bowlers, but South Africa has capable top order batsmen, led by Amla. South Africa has no proper fifth bowler, but New Zealand doesn't have a McCallum down the order. New Zealand has never gone past the semi final stage, but neither has South Africa. I have a feeling South Africa will win - it just seems to be their year.

India vs. Australia
I am going to go out on a limb here and say India will win. The bowlers are good on either side, but India has the advantage in batting. They have batsmen who can build an innings and then explode, whereas most of Australia's batsmen, Clarke and Steven Smith notwithstanding, are one dimensional. India also has the edge in the spin department. Overall, advantage India, but again too close to call.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Quarter Final Predictions

So more than a month ago I made some predictions regarding the current 2015 Cricket World Cup. Let's see how I did before I analyze the quarter finals.

POOL A

The most obvious mistake in my prediction was that Bangladesh performed well above expectations. I have no qualms saying I did not mind being wrong at all ( :-D ) in this case. As a Bangladeshi fan whose team had a annus horriblis in 2014, such was the low confidence in the team that they even managed to lose to Ireland in the warm ups. Yet, when it was time to perform, they delivered, and knocked out England.

I had Australia to top the group followed by New Zealand, and this was reversed due to a game of Australia being rained out and them losing to New Zealand by 1 wicket. Sri Lanka came third as expected, and England crashed out.

POOL B

I fully expect Pakistan to beat South Africa - this is what I said, and it happened. Only if they had picked Sarfraz earlier. I was dumbfounded when they made Umar Akmal a keeper and benched Sarfraz, their most dynamic and game changing player.

West Indies should make the fourth playoff position, but barely - this is what I also said, and it's also true. Tough luck to Ireland, who deserved to be in the quarters, but their heavy loss in one match (vs. South Africa) came back to haunt them.

Of course what I did not see is the emergence of India as the team to beat and the team in form. The previous tri-series leading into the tournament seemed to have confounded every body.

So now, here's the quarter finals and my predictions.

Sri Lanka vs. South Africa

Sri Lanka has awesome batting (in form) and a threadbare bowling attack coming into this match, but they know how to win the knockout games. South Africa are notorious at choking in the knockouts of the World Cup and have never won such a match. It makes for a fascinating contest.

I expect whoever bats first to have a big advantage. Nevertheless, I am going to pick pedigree over potential and tip Sri Lanka to win this.
Winner: Sri Lanka

India vs. Bangladesh

Can I remain unbiased in this? Of course I want Bangladesh to win. I hope they win. My heart says they will win. But logic dictates, of course, that India will win. What Bangladesh lack is the finishing touch - the one who can come and belt 40 off 18 balls to boost a competitive total to a massive total, or the one bowler who is so miserly no one can take him on. India has batsmen in form, bowlers in form and their fielding has been great too. Every one of their batsman has been in the middle and scored runs. Hard to see Bangladesh repeating a 2007 here.
Winner: India
PS: I hope I am wrong.

Pakistan vs. Australia

This is Pakistan's last game in the world cup. Or so everyone thinks. And everyone is probably right. Pakistan remains a dark horse, and they have unpredictability, and they beat South Africa, and their bowlers are in form ... yes to all of that, but this is Australia in Australia. And Australia is in form, and they have awesome batting AND bowling. Sometimes unpredictability and emotion can only take you so far.
Winner: Australia

West Indies vs. New Zealand
This really should have been Ireland vs. New Zealand but somehow the Windies made it. And they will go home after this. You don't even need any analysis to back this up - New Zealand is a far better team than Windies and they have experience in winning knockouts and they are in form.
Winner: New Zealand

So there you go. The semi-final line ups should be:

India vs. Australia
New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka

Friday, February 13, 2015

Types of Bangladeshi Cricket Fans

The Realist

Looking at our batting averages, Bangladesh cannot really win against any of the big teams. I will just be happy if we don't lost to Afghanistan and Scotland.

The Eternal Optimist

I just feel it. We have the bad results out of the way. Once we thrash Afghanistan, the momentum is with us. We just need to win against one of the big teams. And then three knock out wins. We can definitely do it, insha Allah.

The Fortune Teller

You will see Shakib al Hassan score three centuries. He will definitely score 112 against Australia. We will win against Afghanistan by bowling them 200 all out and chasing it in 43.5 overs. And we will make the quarter finals.

The Pessimist (somewhat related to the Realist)

Is there any point in watching any game of Bangladesh? We can't even win against Ireland nowadays.

The Superstitious

I have noticed whenever I switch on Cricinfo to check the score they lost a wicket. So this time I am staying away from the internet.

The Wannabe TV Analyst

They should send Tamim Iqbal one down. He is protected from the new ball and can build an innings. Nasir Hossain should work on his leg side shots. He has a good off side pickup swivel, but has problem with the footwork in execute his leg glance. He needs to get his eye behind the ball.

The Whitewashed

Did anyone catch Manchester United's latest game? Cricket ... nah, I don't watch that. It's so boring.

The Religious

Ya Allah! I have fasted for three days and prayed twenty rakah nafil namaaz. Please give us a victory. Or at least one century. Ya Allah, if Tamim Iqbal scores 100 today, I will sacrifice one goat. Well, and if the team wins.

The Cynic

It's all fixed, I tell you. They have bought everybody. Every match is fixed.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cricket World Cup 2015 Predictions

So another Cricket World Cup is upon us, starting on Valentine's Day Feb 14, 2015, and ending on March 29, 2015. Since cricket is my favourite sport, here's my predictions of the group stage.

POOL A
England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland

It's quite hard to see anyone other than England, Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand qualifying out of this pool - the only interest will be the order of the qualifiers, and whether Bangladesh will manage to lose to Afghanistan or Scotland.

Australia should top this pool. They are - well, they are Australia. They are in good form lately, have won all of their most recent matches and the only concern seem to be Clarke - their captain. Australia has genuine World Cup pedigree, and they are on home soil.

New Zealand should come second in the group. They have batsmen who are in form (actually, in dangerous form), bowlers who bowl with genuine pace and are led by a captain who's probably the best captain in the world at the moment. Expect their batsmen to run up tall scores and their bowlers to pummel the opposition. However, I think Australia has a hold over New Zealand, and will thus beat them in the group match to take the No.1 position in this pool.

Sri Lanka will come in third. They are a bit top heavy, and reliant heavily on a trio of experienced players who may find this World Cup one too many. I am all in favour of having experienced folk play in these high pressure tournaments, but Sri Lanka's younger batsmen have to chip in too, and they are not. Their bowling seems to be missing a genuine threat (see the way Zimbabwe defeated them in the warm up). They will lose to Australia and New Zealand, but will still beat England, so they will come out third.

England will make up the final qualifier out of this group. Their captain is out of form, they have a team of hit and miss players, they play in a more orthodox fashion when the rest of the world has embraced flair, and frankly, England are a boring team. They still have enough quality to outclass the Associates (and Bangladesh), but will lose to the others.

Bangladesh - well, what can I say about my team of no hopers. Frankly, they are the most useless Test team at the moment and I won't be shocked if they manage to lose ALL of their matches. Bowlers are out of form, batsman are out of form - and this seems to be an on going issue. See what I wrote about them in 2004.

Wow. B'desh has won a cricket match. Finally! Yes, it was against Hong Kong, yes, they are amateurs, and yes, we could only score around 220 for 9. But what the hell, we ... BLOODY... WON!!!
 
Ofcourse the commentators were all praising Hong Kong's pluck, but me thinks sometimes B'desh is underestimated. They are good, just not good enough to knock off the bigger powers, but definitely there ahead of the non-test, and definitely now Zim and Windies are on the same rung. Here's hoping they do tonite to Pak what they way back did in 1999. Ah, one can always dream.


It seems, 11 years on, nothing has changed.

Afghanistan and Scotland make up the pool, and while they have enough pluck, they will need a lot of luck to knock out any of the top 4. For them, a victory or two will be enough to have a good World Cup.

POOL B
South Africa, West Indies, India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Ireland, United Arab Emirates

Now this is the more exiting pool. I can genuinely see South Africa, India and Pakistan easily qualify. The fourth team is going to be interesting. While it seems more or less likely that West Indies will make it, their unpredictability, and the strong performances of Ireland and Zimbabwe in recent times, might point to a shock.

South Africa should top the pool. And when I say should, I mean they probably will. Remember, they only start chocking once the group stages are done. They have batsmen in form, the world's best fast bowler and a dynamic fielding team. The pitches in Australia and New Zealand should suit their style of play. However, they won't win ALL of their matches.

This is an interesting pool because of Pakistan as well. They are completely unpredictable, but they are my dark horses for this tournament. I fully expect Pakistan to beat South Africa, and perhaps India, simply because Misbah is a good captain and Afridi seems to be on fire lately, and they have a decent team. So Pakistan will come in second in the group.

India should qualify third. They have been woefully out of form in Australia, and Rohit Sharma has scored his mandatory big score in between several small ones, and their main batting star is out of form. They will beat all the Associates and West Indies.

West Indies should make the fourth playoff position, but barely. They have the class and quality to beat anyone on their 'day', but their 'day's seem to be getting less and less frequent. They will be lucky to just hold off Ireland and Zimbabwe.

For Ireland and Zimbabwe, the games against each other and the ones against West Indies will be the ones they believe they can win. It will be an upset, but not that much of a shock, if one of them manages to qualify for the group stages in place of West Indies.

UAE - why are you even here?

QUARTER FINALS LINE UP

South Africa vs. England

Pakistan vs. Sri Lanka

India vs. New Zealand

West Indies vs. Australia