Thursday, August 31, 2006


I'm a fan of Halloween.

While I'm sure that there were plenty of adults who were getting drunk and/or stoned in costumes back in the day, Halloween felt like the only holiday that was strictly for children when I was growing up. All of the adults I knew had to either accompany children on their trick-or-treating routes or stay behind at home and shell out carefully divided portions of candies to trick-or-treaters. But isn't Christmas the ultimate kid holiday, you ask. Well, remember, I've never celebrated Christmas; before I entered the first grade and realized that skipping Christmas was perfectly acceptable, I came up with the following lame lie when Mrs. Bromerski asked me and my kindergarten classmates, one by one, what we got from Santa: a rose.

Clearly, I set myself up to be picked on very early in my schooling.

Growing up in a city made for the best trick-or-treating. A child hasn't experienced true Halloween gluttony until she's had not one but two apartment buildings with 440 units in each building offering tricks (I've never had a person trick me instead of treat me on Halloween, but adults offering tricks to kids on any day is very shady) and/or treats. So, the BFF and I managed to keep trick-or-treating until we were like 16, at which point most of the people of whom we kindly asked tricks, preferably treats, looked at us suspiciously and asked snarkily, "Aren't you girls too old for this?" while handing us the damned treats anyway. We were so wounded that last year that we decided to never go trick-or-treating again!

In any case, I've been dying to recapture my youth, as well as some free candy, by celebrating Halloween properly.
I mean borrowing someone's kids for the evening. One of the kids must be an infant--young enough so that he/she can neither carry a pumpkin bucket nor eat the candy I collect.
While I'm afraid that, with more and more adults taking Halloween as their holiday, we just won't find too many of them at home to shell out the candy, it' s a chance I'm willing to take.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006



I still haven't put together that biodata the 'rents want, probably because I don't want to find a mate the same way I find a job:

1)parents of potential life partners scan resumes (w/
pics, of course!);

2)parents of potential life partner and--only in those instances when PLP is informed about what the hell parental units are up to--set up a meet and greet. I prefer calling it an interview. Sometimes the real interviews are preceded by a phone interview and, more likely than not, followed by a family blind date/ family-to-family interview (while phone interviews mostly take place when both sets of PLPs know what the hell the units are up to, this isn't always the case). Sometimes the preliminary "interview" is more covert. For example, you'll find yourself at a random wedding and your mother will casually point out a random (oh, but NOT so random, you'll later discover) guy in the corner, saying, "He's good looking, isn't he?" God forbid if you concur because a family date is sure to follow.

3)"references will be furnished upon request." Well, actually, the community of desi parental units is a tightly connected one. There are no more than three degrees of seperation between any two sets of parents. So, they'll furnish their own references, thank you very much;

4)in some of the more traditional families, PLPs aren't allowed to date until after they're engaged. Can you say probationary period?

So, for obvious reasons (see four points listed above), I haven't worked on my biodata. The indignity of it wounds me.
Part of me wants to be cheeky and hand the following to the 'rents:



Tuesday, August 29, 2006


A Canadian gifted me with a $50 iTunes music card earlier this year. When I finally got around to using the card this past weekend, I was informed that the cards are territory specific. What bs, right? So, I called Apple customer service and the customer service rep (I imagined the slacker-hipster-Williamsburg cute Justin Long on the other end of the phone) informed me that the cards are territory specific. Perhaps I could email iTunes customer service and ask whether or not I could trade in my Canadian iTunes music card for an American one, Justin suggested. And, so I emailed the following query to iTunes customer service:

I have a $50 Canadian iTunes music card, which I can't seem to redeem online here. Are the music cards territory-specific? If so, is there any way that I can have the US equivalent of this Canadian card? Your help is much appreciated.

I was told to expect a reply email within 48 hours. I received a reply in 17 hours; it follows:

Dear Sabila,

Thank you for contacting the iTunes Store and I apologize for the confusion with your gift card.

The iTunes Music Card gift you received was intended for use in a country other than your own. Unfortunately, this means you won't be able to redeem this card on your account. Currently, iTunes Music Cards can only be redeemed in the country where they are purchased.

iTunes Music Cards are not refundable. You may want to give your Music Card as a gift to an individual who will be able to redeem it. You might also return to the point of purchase to inquire about a refund. Apple cannot provide refunds or replacements for cards purchased from third party retailers.


iTunes Store Escalations

Now, I couldn't imagine Justin Long as Erin because, obviously, Erin's a female. Also, I can't be expected to cast other actors without anything but an automaton-like email response. And, seriously, I don't need automaton-Erin telling me what gifts I should be giving my friends. IT WAS A GIFT TO ME, AE! MY GIFT!

The morals of this story:
1)Justin Long is cute and reassuring over the phone;
2)iTunes customer service is prompt but has yet to learn the "tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies" philosophy of life to which I adhere;
3)Automaton-Erin is not the boss of me;
4)don't ever buy or gift anyone with foreign iTunes music cards;
5)clearly it's late; clearly I'm tired; clearly I'm disappointed; clearly I'm open to cheating-the-system suggestions.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


I don't know where the hell I was when Regina Spektor's first big-label album, Soviet Kitsch, released in 2001 (er, graduating from NYU and, later, selling my soul to the bird on the Hudson) but it's taken me way too long to sit down and listen to it and her new album, Begin to Hope. I was blown away. Her songs are folksy and fun, the lyrics quirky and tender; her voice is amazing. She's like Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, and sometimes even Norah Jones, all rolled into a refreshingly new artist.

Now, with her two albums (legally) downloaded into my iPod and a pair of tickets to her show at The Town Hall next month (hmmm, I wonder who I'll be taking with me......), I'm happy.

Amazing stuff here, folks.
Regina Spektor gets the Nerd's seal of approval. I can't do the whole hyperlink thing on my G4 here, so I've opted to paste up the lyrics of one of my fave songs by her, "The Ghost of Corporate Past," which comes from the first album. (Listen and) Enjoy!

Ghost of Corporate Future

A man walks out of his apartment
It is raining
He's got no umbrella
He starts running beneath the awnings trying to save his suit
Tryin to dryin to tryin to dry but no good

When he gets to the crowded subway platform he takes off both of his shoes
He steps right into somebody's fat loogie
And everyone who sees him says "ewwww"
Everyone who sees him says "ewwww"

But he doesn't care cause last night he got a visit from the Ghost of Corporate Future
The Ghost said take off both your shoes whatever chances you get
Especially when they're wet
He also said

Imagine you go away on a business trip one day
And when you come back home
Your children have grown
And you never made your wife moan

And people make you nervous
You'd think the world was ending
And everybody's features
Have somehow started blending
And everything is plastic
And everyone's sarcastic
And all your food is frozen
It needs to be defrosted
You'd think the world was ending
You'd think the world was ending
You'd think the world was ending right now

Well maybe you should just drink a lot less coffee
And never ever watch the 10 o'clock news
Maybe you should kiss someone nice or lick a rock or both
Maybe you should cut your own hair cause that can be so funny
It doesn't cost any money and it always grows back
Hair grows even after you're dead

People are just people
They shouldn't make you nervous
The world is everlasting
It's coming and it's going
If you don't toss your plastic
The streets won't be so plastic
And if you kiss somebody
Then both of you'll get practice

The world is everlasting
Put dirtballs in your pockets
Put dirtball's in your pockets
And take off both your shoes
Cause people are just people
People are just people
People are just people like you

People are just people
People are just people
People are just people like you

The world is everlasting
It's coming and it's going
The world is everlasting
It's coming and it's going
It's coming and it's going


...a class called "The Game: How to Decode Man."

I have great male buddies, I have two older brothers and I've always prided myself for being a "one-of-the-guys" kind of girl. But, ultimately, I don't understand you guys, at all.

Your assistance is much appreciated. I don't want questions, just answers. Thanks.


...the manuscript won. I skipped the party so that I could finish reading it.
Sorry M & C.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


I'm a big reader. Books have played a huge part in my life; I was under their spell as soon as I learned to decode the puzzle of the alphabets and discovered the hidden majesty of words. It was back then, when I was still new to this feeling of hurtling headlong into another dimension, one that existed between simple typewritten characters and unremarkable, bound pages, that reading was most magical. Regardless of author, genre, plot, I picked up each book I read, giddy with the anticipation of losing myself, of being immersed in a world that felt as real as it was unreal.

I've plotted my life around my love of books: I majored in English Lit in college and I now work in book publishing. I've found that there's always a degree of jadedness that will afflict a devoted reader, especially one who is in the industry. Over the years, a sort of sensory adaptation has taken a hold of me, rendering the words I read just words; three-dimensional experiences have flattened into a single dimension of printer ink on stock paper. Sometimes I fear that, like summers that stretched into eternities, books that possessed me risk becoming a privilege of childhood.

But, rest assured, dear reader: I continue to read because I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I stopped; mostly, I keep digging through books and manuscripts, hoping that I may find that one, which is more than just good or even great, one that is downright spellbinding and intoxicating. And, happily, I'm now in the clutches of a manuscript that I simply can't put down. It's a debut crime thriller and I was blown away by how masterfully and beautifully written the novel is. It's as heartbreaking as it is terrifying. I started reading it innocently enough last night and by 3:30AM, I was reading compulsively, swearing that I'd go to sleep after these five, ten, or fifteen pages. During my morning run, I could only think of going back home and plunging right back into the manuscript. It's so good that I can't imagine how I'm going to extricate myself from it to go to this party tonight. The ms might just win out in the end.

Okay, the ms calls me. Talk to you guys later!

Friday, August 25, 2006


As many of you know, I don't like cooking/baking/spending any more time in the kitchen than I have to. The microwave is my are ready-to-eat delights such as popsicles, fruits, raw veggies, ginger candy and take-out or delivery faves such as Japanese, pan-American and Indian cuisines. I've been told, however, that when I do decide to cook/bake/spend time in the kitchen, I do it exceptionally well. Alas, these things don't really interest me (just for the record though, I am an expert dishwasher. I don't mind washing dishes quite as much as I mind cooking and/or baking).

There have been times when I've been, quite suddenly, plowed over by a desire to cook/bake. Usually, the desire wanes after a minute or two. Other times, it possesses me, walks my body to the kitchen, where I then apron-up and become all serious cook/baker-type. And, usually, fifteen minutes into the baking/cooking, I end up cursing myself for giving into a desire as silly and nonsensical as the desire to cook or the desire to bake and dread each second I'm going to have to waste whisking, mixing, cutting, peeling...WASTNG AWAY in the kitchen.

I was possessed by that downright succubus-like desire to bake last night.
And so I decided to bake a tres leches cake. The recipe came from Cooking Light Magazine. The tres leches in the tres leches cake recipe were: sweetened condensed milk, fat-free milk and evaporated milk. While I had the first two leches, I neither had the leche tercer nor the desire to run out at 8PM to buy the leche tercer because I was SO OVER baking at this point (10 minutes into baking. Sigh). So, I found on the 'net that dry milk (welfare milk according to ES) with 40% of the water usually called for converting it to (almost) real milk can double as evaporated milk. I don't know why we own dry (welfare) milk (seeing that we're not on welfare or anything) but there happened to be a box of dry Carnation milk in the cupboard, which I converted into something that might or might not be close to what is evaporated milk. And, this, folks was the final ingredient in the tres leches sauce that I would later pour over my cake. I suspect that the sauce was not as visocous as the recipe called for but, as I said before, I was so over baking and didn't care so much anymore.

So, I baked the cake; I poured the sauce over the cake. I saran-wrapped the cake with the tres leches and refrigerated it overnight. I was paranoid and crazy in the morning about the thought of feeding my coworkers a lousy tres leches cake and having them judge me, so on the way to work I purchased a (consolatory) box of cookies from a local bakery. I fed them both.
They liked the cookies.
They (claimed to have) liked the cake.

I'm way too uninterested during cooking/baking and paranoid after cooking/baking to cook/bake in the future. It's not healthy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


It was a clear early Sunday morning circa summer 2003. I had spent my Saturday (afternoon, evening and) night watching the Real World/Road Rules Challenge marathon on MTV, and with my brain thoroughly numbed, I decided to finally climb into bed. That night, I dreamt one of the most real dreams I've ever had in my life. I won't go into details but a younger, twenty-something version of my aunt, who had recently passed away was in the dream, alive and heartbreakingly beautiful. She was so vivid that I can still remember what she was wearing: a short red kurta top with delicate white embroidery, white trouser shalwar with red embroidery, a white dhuppata and a single red ribbon in her hair. I attempted to convince other relatives that my aunt, whose death I was very aware of in the dream, shouldn't have been there, alive and vibrant and well. Meanwhile, she attempted to tell me something but I was too damned scared to even look at her, well because she should have been dead.

Anyway, my aunt finally managed to corner me in my office, where I seemed to be hosting a family reunion of sorts (she entered the reunion uberdramatically, parting a line of relatives standing in the hallway with a slight gesture of the hand) and told me that I worry too much, that I'd eventually marry a wonderful man who'd make me very happy and that his name was--and she stopped just as she started to tell me his name, saying," Well, maybe I shouldn't tell you," and then she walked away.

So, the name she was about to reveal to me started with an "M" and I remember thinking "Mish," "Mich," "Mitch," and similar variations during and shortly after waking up from the dream (at which point, I'm not in the slightest bit embarrassed to confess that I ran to my parents' room and jumped into bed with them. I was terrified, it was so real). Ever since, my brothers tease me about "Mish," "Mich," or just "M," my perfect man ("Damn, you look like crap today, Sabila. What if we walked by M and you missed out on destiny? And all because you went to bed late and have dark circles under your eyes! Tsk, tsk, tsk," they'll say.

I should include somewhere in my biodata that I'm only looking for men whose first names begin with "M." I suspect such a request might get me blacklisted for life from Desi matchmaking circles.

I don't worry too much (I don't worry at all) about such ridiculous things, but I do often wonder where my M might be. Sigh.

Or not so much.

Ahem. Gag. Ahem (with some sighs thrown in there, just in case).


The following conversation with my mom took place earlier today:

Nerd: So, how's finding me a husband going?
Amma: Not so good.
Nerd: (gasping) What?!
Amma: (sighing) Well, I knew this time would come. We used to get dozens of proposals for you--DOZENS!--and you made us keep turning them all away. Now people don't think you're serious about this. They think twice about sending us rishtas...
Nerd: That makes no sense! Are you saying I have a reputation in matchmaking circles?...Actually, that's kinda awesome...
Amma: You keep turning away proposals and eventually you won't get any proposals.
Nerd: Amma, I couldn't have accepted every single proposals. I'd have like 20 husbands right now!
Amma: Step 1, take this seriously.
Nerd: This is a 12 step program?
Amma: Step 2, give me a biodata! I've been asking you for too long now.
Nerd (mumbling): Sure, I'll have one for you soon.

I won't lie, dear reader: as lightly as I'm taking this bs process, I'm a little bit offended that the rishtas (proposals) aren't flooding in. I mean, what's the point of practicing escape strategies, if there aren't any horrible blind dates from which to escape in the first place? I'm afraid I've exceeded my shelf life by dumb Desi standards.

As far as the biodata goes, I have writer's block. Yes, I'm having difficulties penning a CV of my own life. Dang, that's sad.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I See You!

So, a few weeks ago, I received an email from some random dude on some random social networking site (Friendster, Naseeb, Orkut). I try to adhere to a no-reply policy to randomness on such sites for the sake of proving the point that I only joined said sites to reconnect with old friends, friends of friends and friends already made before I adopted this policy (this is, of course, barring displays of extraordinary writing skills or other scholarly talents by random emailer).

In any case, this random dude emailed me, saying that he'd seen me working out at my gym. A couple of weeks prior to that another random guy emailed me mentioning that he sometimes sees me on the train during my morning commute. Such emails make me nervous for many (hopefully apparent) reasons. I'm not saying that I have stalkers (that would be presumptous of me) or anything but the thought of cyberworld intersecting with real world without my knowledge leaves me feeling not so super.


Monday, August 21, 2006


The parents are now asking me to put together a matrimonial biodata. There was one that the they cobbled together for me a few years ago, using my work resume and anecdotal experience. I think I proofread and signed off on it at some point. Alas, the biodata, which was saved on my father's old PC, is no more (the PC crashed; I highly suspect that my explosive biodata had something to do with it. Ahem).

Now, everything (ie my whether I grow up to become a fabulous wife/mother or a miserable and curmudgeonly old spinster type with lots of cats to whom she's allergic) apparently hinges on my curriculum vitae, which will include, amongst other details, my education and work experience, appropriate measurements (height, weight...I don't think these things include THOSE kinds of measurements), personality, hobbies and interests and a seperate section where I can include a personal essay of sorts.

Part of me wants to put together the most ridiculously heinous biodata I can. Part of me wants to satisfy the 'rents. Then there's the part that actually wants to be curmudgeonly and old and spinstery and unattached. Of course, there's another part that wants to be all Emily Dickinson-ian and remain in a world of perpetual childhood. Worry not, you romantic types. There is a part of me that wants to eventually meet someone decent enough to hitch myself to for eternity, but I seriously don't care enough at this point to condense my life into a 1-2 page resume in order to meet this dude. This part, perhaps apocalyptically, still believes in romance.

For the record, this last, unacceptably lame and foolishly wide-eyed part of me is obviously a remnant of my teeny-bopper days. The other parts of which I'm comprised don't care very much for it and are working on exorcising it for good...because intelligent folks can't be stupid like that.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

THE NERD PONDERS: Why Do Men Love Bitches (continued...)

I'm just glad I didn't have to pay for this bloody book.

THE NERD PONDERS: Why Do Men Love Bitches (continued...)

I've never been able to do the whole self-help book thing. I read (parts of) the first chapter, feel decidedly enlightened (or not so much) and toss the book aside.

Yah, this Why Men Marry Bitches book might be informative and enlightening and my mom would probably want me to read it from cover to cover but I'd much rather finish reading Giraffe. I just finished The Ruins by Scott Smith, which was EXCELLENT and comes highly recommended by me!

Que sera.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

THE NERD PONDERS: Why Do Men Love Bitches?

Read the following book and find out!


The Nerd is skimming through it as we speak. She'll report back to us shortly.

Friday, August 18, 2006


My mother nagged me for pics all day yesterday. Each telephone conversation (and there were five of them altogether) went as follows:

Me: This is Sabila.
Amma: Have you emailed the photos to your father yet...
Me: I'm at work, amma...
Amma:...because we promised your cousins they'd have your photos...
Me: I don't have pics on my work computer.
Amma: ...two days ago, but you haven't sent us anything...
Me: I'll do it as soon as I get home.
Amma: ...and your cousin called me this morning asking about the photos...
Me: I'm really busy right now--
Amma: ...I told him you'd send them right away...
Me: --so let's talk later, okay?
Amma: just send the photos, okay?
Me: Okay.

I suspect that a lot of thought goes into which rishta photos a family decides to circulate.

*There's the requisite natively-garbed shot, which illustrates the respect a girl has for her cultural heritage, thus proving that she must be a good person.

*Photos of the girl dressed in Western garb, demure enough to appeal to the parent's (well, more likely than not, the mother's) sensibilities, but edgy enough to attract the eligible bachelor's interest (please note that the ratio of natively-garbed shots to Western-garbed shots is directly proportional to how traditional or progressive an interested family is).

*While one must appear to be happy in most of the photos, happiness must manifest itself in varying degrees:

1) the open-mouthed smile (aka, the big smile) shot: because what kinds of dental monstrosities is a girl trying to hide by not including at least one big smile shot in her rishta portfolio?! No mother wants her son to have a dental case on his hands. And good teeth are indicative of overall goodness of character.

2) the close-lipped smile shot: because the big smile, when displayed too often, might be suggestive of loose morals.

3) the smile-with-your-eyes shot: I was channel surfing the other day when I happened upon reruns of this past season's America's Next Top Model. I watched long enough to witness Tyra Banks demonstrate how to smile with your eyes and not your lips. I'm not exactly sure why a girl might want to include this shot in her rishta portfolio, but I'm guessing that

a) it might further reinforce that she doesn't have loose morals,
b) shows that she watches reality television and
c) is downright model-like, all of which
d) confirms that she is a really good person.

4) the unsmiling shot: one should never frown in the unsmiling shot because no one likes a recalcitrant girl. Instead, a girl must appear to be pensive and lost in thought; perhaps she's dreaming of her wedding or imagining the dozens of children she will birth for her husband. This shot will surely add depth and dimension to her character...and she will come across as a very good and decent person.

*THERE MUST BE AT LEAST ONE FULL-BODY SHOT IN A RISHTA PORTFOLIO because too many close-up photos might lead the eligible bachelor as well as his mother to suspect that the girl is fat. And everyone knows that fat people can't possibly be good or worthy of marriage.

*A few overachieving parents pay to have professional pics (read: heavily airbrushed, close shots) of their offspring taken at photo studios. Prospective families (ie, moms) sometimes fall head-over-heels, not so much for the eligible bachelorettes featured in these shots, as much as for the time, effort, thought, care and money devoted to these shots. Surely, this means that the girl comes from a good family and, as a result, must be a good person, herself.

For my readers who are not familiar with the Pakistani or Indian mathcmaking process, these rules don't necessarily apply to men because a degree in medicine or engineering trumps all photos they will send to a girl's family. The degree, in such cases, becomes interchangeable with the bachelor.
All of that being said, you best believe I'm getting ready to ogle some male glamour shots!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


...and it was gross. It was very, very, very gross.

So's my life.


I'm not going to go into the details of the surprise incestuous proposal--all I'm going to say is that it happened earlier this year, while I was vacationing in the motherland with the family. It certainly was not cool. Instead, it ranks amongst the most bizarre experiences of my life.

In all fairness, I realize that marriages between cousins are accepted and even encouraged in many cultures. Additionally, research conducted only a few years ago--and discussed in a front-page New York Times article--revealed that the chances of first cousins having offspring with birth defects are only minimally higher than those of biologically unrelated parents; ultimately, there is no biological reason to discourage cousin marriages.

All that being said, may none of you ever have to dodge the advances of a lovesick first cousin because the heebijeebies such situations inspire are downright debilitating.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


What the eff am I getting myself into?

Mom: Sabila, email five or six recent pictures of yourself to your dad.
Nerd: Um, why?
Mom: Your cousin X called from Florida. He knows quite a few Pakistani families that are looking for girls.
Nerd: Um, why?
Mom: Sabila. Stop joking around.
Nerd: I thought you were going to look for boys in the tri-state area, amma. Florida isn't in the area.
Mom(talking to the ceiling): There she goes again, jinxing herself even before we've started.
Nerd: How am I jinxing myself? Florida isn't New York, New Jersey or Connecticut. It's a fact, not a jinx!
Mom: Just be grateful for the proposals you get.
Nerd: I'm not wasting time emailing strangers. I want to meet them.
Mom: And you'll meet them.
Nerd: I feel like a piece of meat...and I'm a freakin' vegetarian, which makes it even more awful.
Mom: That's something that I don't want you to mention on your first meeting with any boy!
Nerd: Ugh.

I'm thinking I'll just email the link to my profile on Friendster to my dad.
This is such bs.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: Find Aging SabilaK a Husband...Maybe

So, I expertly manuevered myself out of having to attend not one but two weddings this past weekend. "But amma, I have SO MUCH reading to do," worked for the first wedding; "But amma, I already have plans with my friends," with a "Why didn't you tell me sooner. I'm going to miss out on SUCH a GREAT matchmaking opportunity!" thrown in for good measure worked for the second wedding.

Amma met up with a gaggle of her girlfriends at the second wedding and, upon her return, she spent a good hour bemoaning my absence from the nuptials:

"EVERYONE was asking about you and all of the women admitted that they were there to find single girls! Oh Sabila! You need to start attending weddings. You aren't getting any younger..."

Of course, as (my miserable) luck would have it, we met a woman at the Pakistani Independence Day street fair (or another WONDERFUL matchmaking opportunity according to my mom)who sized me up, declared that I was pretty and pulled out a pen and slip of paper to take down our number.

"How old is she?" the woman asked. Mind you, I was standing right there.

"27," I announced, smiling and standing up a little straighter, knowing what was about to come.

"Ohh, she's too old to get married now," the woman announced.

My mom, who is just as aggressively amiable as I am, smiled and said something about kismet and such things being out of our hands.

"Yes, but we're supposed to try. We can't leave everything to kismet," the woman preached. She actually looked annoyed with us.

I had to keep myself from laughing in the woman's face. Surprisingly (and much to my relief), my mother wasn't too bothered by her since we'd already had a countless barrage of women inquire about my availability for their cousins/brothers/neighbors/dentists/cabbies etc. Of course my mother responded to each woman with a "Yes, we're looking." Of course this response, as often as I heard it over the course of the day, threw me off guard. "We are?" I wondered each and every time.

I suppose we are.
Oh, the lengths I go to to keep the parental units satisfied...and my readers entertained.
And, worry not. I'm constantly working on my emergency escape plans.

Monday, August 14, 2006



There, I said it!
Don't get me wrong. I like people A WHOLE LOT. But books are so great. And so are the folks who write them. Really.


In any case, Shirley, recognizing me for the book groupie that I am (a bookie to some...grook to others...I don't enjoy being called a grook, by the way...or a dirty hooker, for that matter. so stop it. Just FYI), asked me to answer a few questions. I suspect this might have something to do with homeland security, but who am I to ask questions? I just answer them.

1) One book that changed your life?
As I Lay Dying by W. Faulkner

2. One book you have read more than once?
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (cliché, I know, but I find myself returning to the Holden Caulfield per annum)

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Leaves of Grass by W. Whitman (because books of poems best count in this questionnaire; and because Walt knows a thing or two about life, loafing, grass and such things)

4. One book that made you laugh?
Good Omens by N. Gaiman and T. Pratchett (so, so, so funny)

5. One book that made you cry?
Wuthering Heights by E. Bronte (I cried BUCKETS of tears that night. BUCKETS)

6. One book you stayed up all night to finish?
All of the Harry Potters. That series is just pure sorcery, I tell ya.

7. One book that took you too long to read?
Crime and Punishment by F. Dostoevsky--I was reading way too many other books/manuscripts at the same time. But I enjoyed the F. Dostoevsky thoroughly.

8. One book you are currently reading?
Among the dozens of books/manuscripts I subject myself to at any given moment, this moment's shining star is The Ruins by S. Smith. Yes, I'M STILL reading it.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Gravity's Rainbow by T. Pynchon (I swear I'll read it some day, RR)

10. Now tag five people.
I have no idea whether or not these people actually read, but here goes:
Adventures in Anonymity
Rich, the Thespian
The Hipster Douchebag


The beauty that is August is upon us. Didn't I tell you that August would be a star that overshadows its bastard brother July?
This probably goes to show that I'm always right but following are discoveries made this month, which have proven otherwise:

1) Crepes are great: I don't know how I managed to go 27 years without a single crepe but I suspect immigrant parentage had something to do with it. While the fact that my friend with whom I had crepes last weekend is also the product of immigrant parentage likely proves that my suspicions are ungrounded, I'd rather not dwell on such details.

2) Eating out doors = not so bad, in spite of annoyingly vicious city flies.

3) Sometime it's not such a bad idea to answer the parents' phone, even when the caller ID warns you not to do so.

4) Jacques Torres' giant chocolate chip cookie is all hype OR I have defective taste buds. I think most people would go with the latter of the two choices; in any case, I always thought that JT's giant choco chip cookie would be much better. I was wrong.

5) According to an older Pakistani lady my mom and I ran into earlier today at the Pakistani Independence Day Street Fair that my father organized, I’m too old to get married now. And here I thought I actually had a shot someday at matrimonial bliss.
Oh well.

6) Point number 5 was soon proven incorrect as about a dozen women of varying ages announced that they wanted to play matchmaker for me.
Oh well.

7) Pakistani street fairs = not so bad.

8) Pakistani street fairs = a pretty damn good time.

9) Walking around a Pakistani street fair for 6 hours = brutal (I always knew this to be true).

10) It ain't no thang: If one believes that it's no big deal, even the biggest deals will inspire only the slightest of shrugs.

11) Life's good. Life's chill.

12) Stepping outside of my schedule once in a while won't kill me.

13) Professing my love for people I love is grand (but I always knew this to be true as well. I'm a notorious dropper of "I love you"s--and I mean it every time--and I follow it with loud, smacking, trippy kisses. This annoys the hell out of my mother, inspiring countless "I-can't-believe-you-come-from-me" looks, but everyone else seems to be all right with it).

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I was leaning against one of the columns on the platform of the Christopher Street PATH Station last night, waiting for my train to show its tired face and take me home when, as is usually the case when its late(ish--it was actually only 9:30PM) and one is tired, the other train--Hoboken--barrelled in. So, I remained resting against the column and momentarily contemplated fishing out the weatherworn galley I've been reading for the past month from my bag but, deciding that my bag was too busy to navigate in my state, I gave up even before I started. A little bit bored, I happened to glance into the PATH car standing next to me and a tall, good looking man seated between a much older woman, who might have been his mother, and another guy, who looked like he could have been his brother caught my attention. The following exchange ensued between the four of us entirely in mime:

Good looking man: Hey, baby, wanna join us?
Me: No, not my train.
Older woman: This guy's crazy. Don't trust him at all. He's a ladykiller, I tell 'ya, a ladykiller!
Good looking man: C'mon. It's a train. It'll take you somewhere.
Me: No, no.
Brother: You sure you don't want to join us? Because my brother would like it very much if you could.
Good looking man: I tried.
Me: Alas.
Good looking man: You're hot.
Mom: I think he likes you.
Me: Too bad I'm on the platform and you're in the wrong train.
Good looking man: I know. Sucks.
Me: So is life.
Brother: Man, I'm tired. Are you sure you don't want to take this train?
Me: Yah, sorry guys.
Good looking man: Why don't you call me?
Mom: You should call him.
Me: No, no. YOU call ME.
Good looking man: I will. You have my heart (holding his heart).
Me: Byeeee (blowing them a kiss)!
Good looking man: Bye (blowing me a kiss)!
Mom: Bye (waving)!
Brother: Bye (waving)!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

PENCIL SKIRTS AND HOT POTATOES: The Nerd's Almost Pre-Teeny Bopper Moment

Yes, in spite of the general awkwardness of my younger years, I too enjoyed a couple of close brushes of the romantic kind with the opposite sex as a youth.

There was that occassion of my 12th birthday party. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I was wearing a black knee-length pencil skirt, a black t-shirt topped off with an olive green jacket that had tassels sprouting out from both sides of the waist and black ankle boots. My mom had pulled my hair into a sideways ponytail that was secured with a hot pink scrunchy. I must have looked odd back then in 1991 but, clearly, I was fashion forward.

As with all of my (legendary) birthday parties, this one had games that were supervised by my brothers--who were 19 and 17 and much cooler than me--and their friends. Most of my guests were girls; while some of them had been forced to bring along their much younger brothers, the number of boys in attendance who were close to me in age was two. For the sake of anonymity, let's call them Tom and Joe.

So, Tom and Joe happened to be the only two boys who sat in the circle during our game of hot potato. For those of you who aren't familiar with this game, a cushion, or any lightweight object, is passed from person to person while someone mans a radio. The person who's holding the potato when the music stops is not only left feeling like an asshole but has to pick out a random dare from a container full of dares scribbled on folded up paper scraps. It can potentially spell WORST NIGHTMARE for a kid at a party. Really.

Of course, in all of their teen wisdom, my brothers and their friends included a "give the birthday girl a hug" dare, probably secretly wishing that one of the two boys, who seemed to be well-entrenched in their "Ewwwww, girls are gross and have the cooties" ways, got stuck with said dare. The pre-teeny bopper gods were on duty that evening because Joe, who I didn't know very well, got stuck with that dare first. He twisted his face into the picture of disgust; he dry-heaved and refused to get up from his spot on the floor, while I giggled and wrinkled my nose with my friends, safe on my side of the circle. The "Ew-I-so-don't-want-to-hug-you" shenanigans went on for a good 15 minutes or so before Joe and I pulled the downing- disgustingly-bitter-cough-medicine-while-pinching-your-nose equivalent of a hug.

Since the teeny-bopper gods were fully awake and up to no good that night, a very quiet and demure friend of mine confessed later to accidently returning the "hug the birthday girl" dare to the cup of dares (surely, the moments leading up to the hug left the poor child momentarily hot, bothered and confused)and who got that particular dare during the next round of hot potato but Tom, the other boy at the party. I was buddies with Tom, had known him for years and, not wanting to waste any time with dramatics, we just hugged amidst the juvenile "ooooh"s and "aaah"s and "Tom and Sabila sitting in a tree" chants. Whatever.

Shortly following the game, however, there was a moment that would make any writer of the pre-teeny bopper genre proud. My friends and I were stepping out into my balcony when Tom suddenly emerged from the shadows, nearly running into me in the doorway. He asked to speak to me alone. My friends gave me sly looks as they tripped away, already dissolving into giggles. I stood with Tom outside on the balcony. He was scuffing the toe of his sneaker on the ground. His hands were buried in his pockets and he couldn't meet my eyes. So, we stood there for a while, rather awkward in our silence, until I asked him what he wanted to talk to me about.

"That hug back there," he started, still unable to look at me.
"Yah..." I said, not knowing whether or not I wanted to encourage his weirdness.
"It wasn't that bad," he said, shrugging.
Now, I probably should have closed my eyes and went in for that first kiss. But, alas, I enjoyed the horror and classics (especially the horror classics) reads much more than I did those pesky pre-teeny bopper books, so, instead of puckering up, I said, "Oh," and then after a very long pause asked, "Is that all?" to which this poor kid who'd very clearly put his heart--or his raging hormones, but what's the difference, really--on the line said, "Yah," and I walked back into the party leaving him to scuff the toe of his sneaker alone.

We never talked about that moment again. And then he moved away.

Surely, the gods pulled out their hair that night and sure, I kind of regretted the missed opportunity shortly thereafter but knowing that I was wearing a cute outfit at the time of the kiss that never was mostly makes me not regret it so much.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Dear Persons Who Mispronounce My Name, I Don't Like You: An Open Letter

Dear Persons Who Mispronounce My Name:

I don't like you.

Maybe I should start calling you Effin' Imbecile. What? That's not your name? But doesn't J-A-N-E D-O-E spell out Effin' Imbecile?
I don't know, Effin', that's how we pronounce it where I come from.

For everyone out there who's even a little bit unsure of how my name is pronounced, following is a phonetic guide that will be of great assistance to you:

Sabila: Sa-bee-la

No, it's not Sa-bil-la or the ever wrong but oh so popular, Sa-bee-lee-ah. And, thanks for trying to make my name just a little bit more exotic by pronouncing the single "l" like the double Spanish "ll". I appreciate the effort on your part but no, my name is NOT Sa-bee-YA. Say-bee-la, Sha-bee-la, and Sa-bla are also not cute.

Clearly you folks must have the same sort of twang I have when I attempt to say Effin' Imbecile.

Now that you know how to say my name (see phonetic guide above), please correct all of those individuals who have picked up on your bastardization of my beautiful name.

I suspect that I will continue to hate you even after you've mastered the pronounciation of my name.


SABILA (once again, please refer to pronunciation guide in the body of this letter)

Monday, August 07, 2006


I have two words for you: the Whitney.
I have two more words for you: Edward Hopper.
I have a declaration (not for you but for the above-mentioned): I heart you, Ed Hopper.
I have five syllables for you: Good Enough to Eat.
I have an omelet made with Granny Smith apples, Vermont white cheddar cheese and served with two biscuits and strawberry butter: The Gramercy Park served at the above-mentioned five-syllable eatery.
I also have crepes. I mean I had them. Filled with gouda. And tomatoes. Yum. And a blue star-shaped lollipop and coffee.
I have three people I love: my brothers and my mother.
I have nineteen sylabbles: a dingy, hole-in-the-wall, meat heavy Pakistani restaurant THEY love.
I also have this: relationship advice. Lots of it. Ladled out between mom and siblings like the chicken korma (and other varieties of meat-heavy salaans) I'm not eating.
Instead I have this: a tall iced coffee. Perfection. Another.
I also have this: the giggles. Lots. And ginger candy. Lots. Lots.

I heart the weekend.
Is it really the start of another work week?
I have to sleep.
And vacation.
And read. And write.
Clearly, I'm tired.
And strange.
But all of you are cool.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Just for the record, this is what I was wearing during the hair-raising, knee-knocking parasailing adventure.

It's comfy. And a determined enough breeze sometimes finds its way inside. The shoes were a pain in the ass but I lost them halfway through the adventure.


Friday, August 04, 2006


I found myself thinking about Pakistan and the Caribbean all day today, which probably means that I'm desperately overdue for a vacation. I was in Pakistan with the family back in January and I last sailed the high seas of the Caribbean last winter with the best friend. Many of you are familiar with THE hair-raising moment of the Pakistani vacation. Read about it here.

Well, my last Ultimate Caribbean Cruise (that's what the itinerary--I will NEVER learn how to spell this word, ever--was called) had it's very own hair-raising moment. Coincidentally enough, this nightmarishly frightening experience unfolded high up in the atmosphere as well. Now, before I delve into this knee-trembler, I would like to state for the record that I do not suffer from acrophobia (interestingly enough, my father does). I just doesn't like the thought of crashing from tall heights. Thanks.

The bff and I had originally wanted to kayak on Royal Caribbean's private peninsula in Haiti called Labadee but when that excursion was scrapped due to the absurdly small number of people who'd signed up for it, we decided to go parasailing, instead (you have to understand that this particular cruise was teeming with older people. Remind me to tell you about the sleazy geriatric who dragged me to the dance floor in the ship's lame club and proceeded to shake his pelvic region in a manner not befitting anyone, let alone someone old enough to be my grandfather. The bff was useless during what I now recognize was the second hair-raising moment of the cruise. She just stood back and giggled) who called it a night by 8PM and had neither the youth nor the vigor to kayak.

So, we were a little jittery about the parasailing but excited nonetheless. That is until our dinner tablemates--three sweet couples from a retirement village in Florida, who were a sitcom waiting to happen--told us a tale, which they'd heard from a waiter, about two girls who were parasailing when the rope securing them to the speed boat snapped. They ended up drifting out aimlessly over the Caribbean until they fell into the water, at which time they were rescued.

By the time the bff and I found ourselves on a speedboat taking us out into the sea with three much older couples and two Royal Caribbean employees, who I hoped to God were Ph-freakin'-Ds in parasailing, my heart was in my throat. Hell, I was chewing on the damned organ and it DID NOT TASTE GOOD. Meanwhile, these geriatric couples (in all fairness, one couple was a pair of newlyweds, so they weren't THAT old but most certainly older than us) were kicking back and enjoying themselves as if the thought of thrashing around 400 feet above the sea was of no concern to them at all. It was decided that since the bff and I were scared shitless, we would go last. The older folks tried to calm us down but we just looked on grimly as one couple after another sailed and landed, throwing thumbs ups and high fives on their return.

When our turn finally came, Roselle was silent with terror. I, on the other hand, in typical Sabila fashion, jabbered on and on. I had questions about everything. I was damned near asking the parasailing experts their bloodtypes when one of them said, "Just do it. You'll see, you'll have fun." The bff and I strapped ourselves into the double harness and I found some comfort in the fact that we were taking this risk together. There was no one else with whom I'd rather drift out over the perilously dark and incomprehensibly deep waters of the Caribbean potentially risking our young lives. We followed instructions and, pretty soon, the rope connecting us to the boat (our freakin' lifeline) unwinded as we were lifted skyward by the wind.

The following conversation ensued between me and my bff:


An unsettling silence broken only by the unsettling sounds of the parasail canopy whipping unsettlingly loudly settled but for a moment between us.

Nerd: OH NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

Utterly exhausted, another brief but overwrought silence alighted between us.

BFF: Look Sabila! Look at the beach! Wow. We're REALLY high up here aren't we? It's beautiful.
Nerd: Look at how small our boat looks from up here! I had no idea we would be so high. The water's so blue and the air--

The boat turned a sharp left, whipping us along like rag dolls.

BFF: oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.

We started pulling in and as my heart settled back where it belongs in my thoracic cavity, I turned to the bff.
"Wow, that was really amazing," I told her.
My bff smiled warmly at me and I was glad that I'd shared this experience with her. "I want to do that again!" she exclaimed.

"It was no thang," I shrugged, high fiving one of the geriatrics, once we were back on the boat.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

17-YEAR-OLDS STAND OUR NERD UP: Our Nation's Enlightened Yet Eff'd Up Youth

So, remember those 17-year-olds to whom my mom pimped me off ?

Well, the boys and I were supposed to have a sushi lunch yesterday but they called me at 1:00PM--which was when we were supposed to meet--to tell me that they had just woken up and could probably make it by 2:00PM--which I couldn't do.

Sure, they stood me up but, just for the record, they totally want to hang out with me. They came over on Monday night, trying to convince me to play pool with them until I finally had to say, "You do realize I'm 27, right?" They hadn't. And then yesterday, after standing me up, they were like, "C'mon. Let's hang out tonight," to which I responded, "Er, no," to which they wondered if I'd hang out with them over the weekend, which only inspired another "Er, no." I mean, they're good kids and all but the day I start hanging out with 17-year-olds, I'm definitely expecting my loved ones to stage an intervention for me.

All that being said, your Nerd might be pretty cool after all--the youth of the nation definitely think so.

But then again, the nation's youth are pretty effed up:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


So, as many of you know, a dangerous, blistering heat has blanketed the eastern half of the nation. Yesterday was bad but today is IMPOSSIBLE. The temperature is expected to reach 100 degrees F, while the heat index will be as high as 115 degrees in areas. Oppressive and ugly, this heat wave is a tyrant. It was overwhelming on my way in and by the time I finally reached my office, I felt like I'd been stripped of my energy. Of course, now my office is freezing and I've had to throw on a sweater.

What upsets me is seeing people who aren't dressed weather appropriately. There's this one woman at work who wears woolen pantsuits with long sleeved button-down shirts in the dead of summer, which I just don't understand. Even when she wears skirst, she insists on wearing skirts made of wool with pantyhose. Looking at her makes me uncomfortable.

To each his (or her) own, I suppose (but I still don't get it). Who am I to judge, eh?

Anyway, August has been good so far, in spite of the heat wave. My right knee, which had a geriatric moment that lingered over most of July, is healed and I ran for the first time in weeks yesterday. I'm dressed weather appropriately, which makes me very happy. My friend just text messaged me from the doctor's office, informing me that a kid in the waiting room, who doesn't look to be more than six-years-old is reading Hemingway's The Snows of Kilimanjaro. This last piece of news makes me ecstatically giddy. I love lit. prodigies. They are, most certainly, my favorite kind.

Happy heatwave everybody!

CHALLENGE: More Adventure, Less Routine (update)

Yah, it was pretty much all routine today.
What do you want? Being spontaneous requires a lot of thought!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


It's about time.