Monday, December 16, 2019

Fooling Around

On Saturday night, I had a pretty big laugh with some of my friends.

lolkingmaster1, TI-84 Plus, an american and I were deployed in the Dust, a deadly free-fire zone in Afghanistan. Recruited by a spec-ops task force, our mission was to prevent the enemy from planting and detonating a 32 megaton nuclear bomb.

What happened after cracked us up real good though. We stopped by an abandoned metro, our usual spot for some casual training. an american and I teamed up against TI and lolkingmaster, but the chaos that ensued made my gut hurt.

We first noticed the lag, a little bit of it too. Then the anti-gravity jump, which made our live-round training far more fun, though a little harder. What I saw afterward however, killed me, literally and figuratively.

TI-84 Plus was running toward me firing his shotgun, but on his back was a... chair? It was so weird I started laughing, and I told him, and out of confusion he and the rest of the crew starting laughing.

The clock read 3:40 a.m, and we could not think straight.

Later on during the fight, I snuck up behind him and realized that the behemoth on his back was not a chair, it was actually his pants! I snorted so loud, alerting TI and he turned around and put me to sleep with a sniper point blank.

Someone gave him a colossal wedgie! XD

I laughed so hard I had to lean out of my chair to take a breath. I told TI, "Bro, you're not wearing your jeans right." I re-spawned and seeked him out once agian, but this time I lost it.

He was stuck in the ceiling... it looked like somebody wedgied him to the ceiling! All four of us laughed so hard. I took a picture of his attire and sent it to him after out training session.

Ah, good times, good times!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Fools for a Fool

Noah, Maher, Alex.

Padfoot, Prongs, Moony. (Nobody wants to be Wormtail)

Some random things about the three stooges.

Noah is the memelord. Maher is contagious... with his laughter I mean. Alex is very Lupin like actually; he is the hard working one, and he keeps us on track as much as he can. We have our very own Marauder's Map, but it is Gamer Chat.

I thank these three goons for their company and friendship. I thank them for all the great times we've had together. For all the laughs, for all the tears, for all the joy, all the suffering. I love each of them like they are my own brothers. I can only imagine how much fun we'd have if we lived together. The house would burn down in one night, and we'd probably build another one out of paper and hope it lasts.

Our story starts long ago, back in Vietnam. That's all I'll say, this is a touchy subject and I hope I have not offended anyone. The bonds of war run deep and strong.

Noah is going to Harvard. Maher has already been accepted into Stanford, and Alex already graduated UofI with a physics major. These guys are going to do great things, they will change the world! Noah will rise to fame on YouTube with his gaming channel (link down below in description), Maher will become a doctor/potato farmer and Alex will have kids.

We went on a road trip once, to Narnia. We didn't let Noah drive because his turtle ate his license, but we let him on the way back. Maher bought us a bunch of chips and Caprisun, but we ate it all within the first hour. Alex lost his shoe in a river and thus drove barefoot on the way there. I don't know if Alex is legally allowed to drive, regardless whether he has a license or not.

Another time, we were all late to Nonfic, but it was because there was an old lady beating a black cat with her handbag. We did not want to go around her because she was blind.

There was another time when we all were up really late, blazing through our essays. We were checking in with each other via Gamer Chat and we were all slowly dying. But it was nice because we were dying together, and we felt like a gang.

I am glad we have this friendship, and we are together here at Uni for a while still. So we will still suffer together for a while.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Snow Gold

Remember that rough blizzard we had some years ago? 

Well, in that blizzard, my family and I drove back to Champaign-Urbana from Chicago. I do not remember why we were in Chicago, but we were probably there for a weekend trip hitting up Devon street (aka India/Pakistan/Desi central). 

The drive was relatively uneventful ninety-nine percent of the way. However, instead of driving five over the speed limit at 75mph, we had to drive much slower due to the snow covered highways. In addition to that, we could not see one hundred feet ahead of us in the thick snow. 

We drove through 294 and down I-57 with relative ease. However, as soon as we got off the interstate, we met the blizzard full force. We managed to drive through inches of snow, narrowly dodging many a car crash and avoiding running the car off the road... until we were five minutes from home. 

Five minutes from the house, my brother lost control of the car, slid of the road into the shallow ditch filled three feet with snow. The car got stuck immediately, and shortly after, my father, who was driving another car fell into the ditch right across the road, about five hundred feet away. 

And there we sat, for about six hours, stuck in the slowly rising snow. To make matters worse, both cars were low on gas, but we had enough to survive the night. Unfortunately however, we had about half a regular bottle of water to share among all six of us. That water disappeared within the first hour, leaving us with no food or water.

A police officer drove past, but he did not get very far. His SUV got stuck right next to my dad's car. We saw a few ambulances and firetrucks drive past. 

We were lucky that we could keep the heating on. Cold is a cruel and quick enemy. From across the street, my father trudged through the snow to our car. We opened the door and the chill flooded in, sucking out the heat, and my brother struggled to close the door in the wind. In that one minute my father walked to the car, the cold chapped my father's lips and sapped the warmth from his bones. He sat for a few minutes, shivering, to warm up. 

Four hours later, two of those heavy duty snow shovel trucks arrived, followed by a tow truck, and we felt hope. The trucks slowly cleared out the snow around both cars, and the trucks pulled us out. We made it home that night, and I'm pretty sure everyone went to bed straight away, after using the bathroom of course. 

The blizzard was no joke. The next morning, my parents read about an old man who like us was trapped about a mile away from his home. It turns out the old man was an absolute beast, and he walked the rest of the way, however, he was found dead on his driveway. Beware the cold. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Golden Praise

"Alhamdu lillah." - الحمد لله

I will share with you a beautiful Islamic phrase, said in Arabic, and I will explain to you its profound meaning. This phrase is central to Islamic belief and practice. Just to get an idea, the words we recite the words in every single prayer. Also, the first chapter of the Holy Qur'an opens.

Here are two links to YT vids of recitations of the first chapter of the Holy Qur'an. These recitations are by two of the most famous reciters. They are both just a minute long, and are very nice. Please listen to them, you will not regret it, especially if you have never heard the Qur'an recited before.
(visuals in second vid are a little bit cheesy I know, please bear with me)

The expression (pronunciation vid link) consists of four words:

"Al - ال." 
The first, "Al" means "the." 

"Hamd - حمد." 
The second, "Hamd" means "praise, and thankfulness, and gratitude."

"Li - ل."
"Li" means "for/to".

"Allah - الله."
The last word is the Allah, the name of God.

Together, the phrase in English can translate to "The praise, gratitude and thankfulness is for/to Allah" (in Arabic, sentences and phrases contain "invisible" is-es where they need to go). There is something very beautiful in the first part which I will point your attention toward.

In English, we do not say things like "the praise", "the thanks", or "the gratitude." However, the significance here of that play of words amplifies and enhances the meaning. The words really mean that THE ultimate, most powerful, most emotional, greatest praise, THE most grateful gratitude, THE utmost thankfulness and thanks is for and is to Allah.

Another implication is that this ultimate praise is for Allah, and Allah alone. No one else and nothing else is deserving nor worthy of this great praise. With this understanding, "Alhamdu lillah" means "The ultimate praise, gratitude and thankfulness is for Allah alone."

When I say Alhamdu lillah, I praise Allah, I thank Allah, and I show gratitude to Allah. Everything I have is a blessing from Allah, thus I must thank and praise Him. When I eat food, when I wake up in the mornings, when I enjoy my time with my friends, I must thank Allah.

One of my teachers once taught me that saying Alhamdu lillah a way of showing modesty. That being grateful to Allah for all He has blessed me with is modesty. On the flip-side, not showing any thankfulness is arrogance. I cannot take any credit for these gifts from Allah, and nor should I just take them from granted.

Alhamdu lillah, I have been blessed with some knowledge to share with you and teach you this beautiful phrase. And I pray that this knowledge not only reaches your eyes, but also your hearts.

If you want to know what is being said in the recitation videos I shared, here you go, verse by verse.

The ultimate praise, gratitude and thankfulness is for/to Allah, the Lord, the Master of all the worlds.
The Most Merciful, the Always/Constantly Merciful.
Master of the Day of Judgement.
You (Allah) alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Please guide us to the straight path. 
The path of those who have earned Your (Allah's) blessings.
Not the path of those who have earned Your anger upon themselves, nor the path of those who have gone astray. 

Please, please, please, I implore you to find me with any and all questions you have. Do not be afraid to ask any question, I will do my best to answer it!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Golden Diet

I love cereal, and I am always very pleased to have it.

I will eat almost any cereal. Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Corn Pops, you name it. I go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs. 

Two weeks ago, my mom sent me to Aldi to buy groceries, with her credit card, mind you. After spending an hour trying to find everything and running back and forth through the store, I asked permission from my mom to buy some cereals. Of course, I picked up cheaper ones (good prices are around 11 to 16 cents per ounce), including the knockoff cereals like Cinnamon Crunch Squares. The name brand cereals are more expensive, and one in particular that I really like, Reese's Peanut Butter Cocoa Puffs, is 21 cents per ounce, so I hold back from buying that.

When buying, I get four cereal boxes. knockoff Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Crunch Squares, Cocoa Rice (Cocoa Pebbles discount), and Fruit Rounds (Fruit loops alternative).

About two weeks ago was the first time I had cereal in months! Before that, I was having withdrawal. Every night I would open the fridge and find the milk, then full of hope I would search the pantry for cereal, but I would go away ears drooping in sadness, disappointment and pain. 

 I was so happy, and I attacked the box immediately. Later, at midnight, I had my midnight snack, or if you will, "second breakfast." The cold, refrigerated milk with the tasty, sugar-filled cereal makes my day. Half the bag disappeared that day. 

I like to be alone with my cereal, when I have it in the middle of the night. I will watch YouTube or browse Reddit while I eat. Back when I was younger, ages ago, I actually brought a book with me and I read it (pun intended). My cereal breaks last usually from half-an-hour to an hour, and I enjoy every moment of them, unless someone else is around. 

Cereal is my life dude. My family will always tell me to stop and to eat other real food. But what do they know? They don't know how much cereal I put in my bowl.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Old is Gold

Dada (Paternal Grandfather) and Dadi (Paternal Grandmother)

Winter, 2018
(Or sometime in the last two years)

My family and I vacationed home to India visiting our relatives. In particular, we flew to Ahmadabad, Gujarat and from there went to a small city (a city I shall not name) on the outskirts of Ahmadabad. There, I was lucky to again see and spend time with my father's father and mother.

The beautiful young lady on the left is my Dadi, or paternal grandmother. This was the first time I had seen her in maybe five or six years. She has a long Gujarati name which you will not be able to pronounce. She is wearing a burqa and hijab. I am not sure how old she is, but even if I was I would not say. She is a very hard-working and loving woman. She is old, but the last time I visited, I saw her crouched down cleaning the house and sweeping the floors, and then she went to the kitchen to cook. Her cooking is very tasty.

The handsome strong man on the right is my Dada, my paternal grandfather. My father told me stories about Dada's strength. My father is incredibly strong, even at older age, and that makes it awesome to think that my Dada in his prime was stronger than my father.

One time, a man had fallen into a sewer well, and my Dada rushed to full him out.  There was a time when the village had flooded, and my father had to go to school. So, my Dada took my father on his shoulders, and waded through the water all the way to the school building (my father told me this a long time ago, so I do not recall it very well). Actually, my Dada taught at that school.

Writing this, I reflect on the way my father's family lives. My father is the only one of the children to have moved away. His three sisters and their families all live within one mile of my grandparents. They all live very simple lives. Even my father goes back to visit everyone frequently.

This photo was taken at a place in Gujarat called Kutch. There is a desert there called the "white desert", due to the white sand there. We stayed in this tent city and my grandparents took this photo outside one of the larger tents.

I love the way they sit so similarly. It was not set up, and it shows the deep relationship they have.

The story about my Dada carrying my father to school through the flood is not entirely correct.

My father had left school, due to the flood, and was home, but the teachers who stayed back were stuck because it was a heavy flood. You can Google it, the Machchhu Dam disaster of 1979, one of the deadliest floods to have occurred in India. My father said he had visited the village again recently, and he was appalled to see that the valley where the floodwater filled completely now was full of homes and buildings.

However, my father did tell me a story of my Dada's awesomeness. One of my father's cousins was playing in the river while nearby a whirlpool was forming, and she got caught and pulled into the whirlpool. Thankfully my Dada was there and he successfully pulled her out.

My Dada and Dadi are elderly, village people, thus they are simple, hardworking people. Those attributes are among the reasons I am glad that I am related to them and that I have been lucky enough to meet them though live on the other side of the world in a small city on the outskirts of Ahmadabad.