Monday, November 28, 2005

Its snowing in Germany

It started snowing on Friday. It was a quick change in weather. Just one week ago it got chilling and now it is snowing. Some say it is not normal. Others say it is normal again, since for the last couple of years, it was not normal since it didn't snow till late December. It has been snowing on and off since Friday. Only yesterday, it converted into raining. I still see snow covering the whole ground outside my window in the university, may be because university is located on hills higher than the city. The city is a little lower, so the snow has melted there.

In the recent International Donor's Conference, the target aid has been raised, amounting to $5.8 billion. Most of it comes from the US. But the UN says that it will take too long for the promised aid to reach the country and internatioal community should take steps to speed up the process. (CNN)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Teaching Germans

Last week i was coming home on the bus, when i saw one of my German colleagues. I sat with him and we chatted on the way. He lives near my place so we walked together after getting off the bus. Near my house i offered him tea which he gladly accepted. It is said that Germans think it rude to reject an invitation or a gift. So be careful not to reject an invitation or a gift from a German, unless there is a good reason for rejection.

Anyways, we went to my place and i found some cooked food (a long story) there. So i changed my invitation to a dinner invitation. The food was potatoes with "phalian" (long green vegetable). We eat it normally with "roti" (bread). So i thought of teaching my German friend how to eat a dish with bread. Germans eat a lot of bread, but they always eat it stand-alone, i.e. they take bites out of it among bites from other dishes, So i explained to him how to use a piece of bread as a spoon to scoop out the curry in the dish and eat it, and all that without any cutlery. He tried and, to my surprise, succeeded in just a couple of attempts. He liked the food very much and was later served with our tea (dudh patti).

US increased its Earthquake aid to more than three times at the International Donor's Conference held Saturday in Islamabad. Kofi Annan is visiting Pakistan for three days urging the nations to do more (only half the needed amount had been pledged). UN is sending two Hollywood stars, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, as goodwill ambassadors to Pakistan's quake hit areas. Pakistan and India have opened the dividing line between the two disputed Kashmirs at five points to allow people to share the grief of their relatives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This week

This weekend i finally decided to try making "ghulab jamun", another South-Asian sweet dish. I got the flour mixture from a Bangali shop and started preparing it using milk. Since i have never worked with any flour before, the mixture turned out to be out of my control. It became too thin to make into small balls. Finally a friend took over and mixed wheat flour to it to thicken it. He then made some balls our of it. After frying them, i put them in the sugar syrup and after a few hours, they became tender. They tasted great, just like the ones i ate in Pakistan. But it surely was a lot of effort. So, i think, next time i'll try something easy, say "jalebi".

The president of Pakistan thanked the World for their help in relief efforts in the quake striken areas. Asian Development Bank and World Bank jointly said that $5 billion are needed in the area, of which only half have been pledged so far. There is need for more. The death toll is more than 73,000 in Pakistan with 1,200 deaths in Indian-controlled Kashmir. 2.8 million people were left without shelter. The Pakistanis have distributed 350,000 tents, 3.2 million blankets, and 3,000 tons of medicine, and established tent villages for displaced people. (CNN)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Eid in Europe & Kashmir

Yesterday we had Eid. It is a warmer day. We worn our traditional dress "shalwar kameez" and went to Islamic centers for prayers in the morning. We went to a newly-made islamic center. There were too many people and less space. But it all went well in the end. People from different countries had brought many different types of sweets. Then we Pakistanis sat together and chatted in the afternoon and did Bar-B-Que in the evening at a friend's place. The Bar-B-Q was the difficult part as we were not very experienced. We started it in the afternoon and continued till late night. One of the friends had made a sweet-dish "sheer khurma". It was also very nice. We did eat Bar-B-Q but the real hunger-killer turned out to be the sweet-dish. So, we admired the person a lot who made the sweet dish.

This eid is not celebrated in North Pakistan (Earth quake hit areas) as it was. People have nothing to eat, drink or even shelter them from winter. Even the president had to say that the world is not donating as much as they did in tsunami disaster. It is sad that still dozens of villages are unaccessed so that no aid has reached there. Some politicians are celebrating eid there to show solidarity. But there are no celebrations there. In some areas, all of the families have lost members in the earth quake. The official death toll has risen to 70,000.