Tuesday, January 10, 2012


My wedding present to myself arrived today.

The new bookshelf we ordered is wide enough to hold it for sure. I think the little cubbyholes in the wall unit are meant for decoration, so I bought decor I can read and dream on and sleep with.

For three thousand one hundred and sixty eight rupees, I have twelve new volumes which I will one day stamp with a custom-made stamp saying "From the library of Sarah and Emaad." One day, I will donate one or more of these treasures and someone will flip to the first stamped page and say here is someone who loved very much and the beauty will multiply like caterpillars building cocoons in a bicycle basket. Twelve to add to a few dozen more which I will take with me, twelve to subtract from the few dozen I leave behind. On hot, brooding afternoons in July, I will take them out of the growing-older shelf, dust off the less-loved ones and arrange them by author, by subject, by title.

And when the first rush of newness-of the books, of my life, of everything-has passed, I will have old friends and new ideas waiting to be held. I will dream with Marquez, imagine with Roy and pontificate on politics with Said and Ahmed. On a rainy afternoon, I will cry about war, celebrate humanity and perfect my Urdu with Faiz and Manto. Perhaps on a bad tutoring day I will fall back on the Elements of Grammar and after a long one, retire with Pattanjali and his yoga sutras.

I am not getting married because I don't want to be alone. I have too much to read to worry about that.

I am getting married because I am excited to share my books and my love and my life with my best friend in the world.

Until then, my new present is waiting to be opened.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I wish I had some aptitude for physics. I think an understanding of the physical universe outside of the stupidities and banalities of human existence would be both fascinating and therapeutic.

I don't really mean to call all of human existence stupid and banal, but much of it is. Or at least its interpretation is. It drives me crazy thinking about how many people don't think at all. Because one of my goals is to channel yoga practice into daily life, I try and remind myself that wise people are the ones who know they know nothing and that I don't know anything about anybody until I've walked a mile in their shoes, but I confess that I don't practice what I preach to myself.

I watch women a lot and wonder what they are really like and what they think about when they are alone or making tea or in the shower or in bed. Always women. I tend to gloss over the men I see in daily life, but women interest me. I will wait for them, impatiently, as I stand in line at the tailor's shop and wonder if they love their husbands or if they are unhappy with their lives. Sometimes I eavesdrop on conversations in public places and sometimes-too many times-wonder if people think at all. About anything. Or whether they just float from one thing to another, making stupid comments and loving their children and being normal citizens and being hypocrites and sipping chai. Again and again, I cruelly think, you don't think at all, and I remind myself they are mothers and sisters and friends and human beings and must think about something, but I fall short of that yogi-like love for humanity. All in all, Pakistani society drives me mad. Not just my own social class, but all of them. I've been lucky to have worked with people from all walks of life and although wonderful people are to be found everywhere, so are the stupid and ignorant.

People are cruel that way. They fascinate you and then stomp on your interest in derision and laugh in your face at the expectation that they will be as beautiful as you want them to be. I want to see them and their stories of love and passion and disappointment and hurt and sins and redemption, but so often all you get is what seems like emptiness and slumped out giving upness. I'm left to my own self-centered disillusionment, thinking I wish I understood physics better to take me away from the world of people and into something bigger and forever expanding.