I woke up at the ringing of the alarm yesterday. Usually I don’t keep an alarm, for I wake up at 5:30 everyday, all my life. But I had a lot of things to do yesterday, and so I kept the alarm for 4:30. In dubai, during summer, at 4:30, the sun will be out, and by 5:30, it will be shining brightly on you. And in winter, it will be dark even at 7. I felt like turning over and pulling the blanket over my head when the alarm went at 4:30, but the busy schedule of the day kept me
awake. I don’t jump out of bed when I wake up, even if I’m late. I will just lay in bed and go over the activities I have to do that day, and set the time for each activity. It will take five minutes. I then get up and go according to the schedule ( although in most cases it won’t go according to the schedule!! 😉 ). Friday was a weekend day, and so hubby and his brother will be at home. Hmmm… so cooking breakfast will take around 1 hour. Cutting onions – 5 minutes, cutting ginger, garlic, tomato, chillies and potatoes – 5 minutes, sauting all of these – 10 minutes and by that time I can make a dough for the chappathi, … goes my schedule. I said it was a busy day, ‘coz we were having some guests. I had to make my house tidy, cook lunch for the guest and the usual daily chores – washing, bathing, looking after my hubby’s niece for some time when my co-sister takes her bath, and a lot more jobs. But according to the time schedule, I still had one hour left before the guests arrived. Weekend days are the most busy days for me.

All these thoughts crossed my mind while I was still in bed.
I got up and went to the kitchen to start the job. At 6 o’clock, I’ve finished preparing the breakfast. Hmmm…, half an hour late. I asked my mother-in-law about the dishes we should prepare for lunch. There was prawns and mutton in the fridge, and so we decided to prepare prawn roast, mutton curry and ghee rice ( all are Indian dishes).
There were a lot of plates and other vessels in the basin, and I had to wash them all. The bottle of dish washer liquid was empty and so I took the big bottle to refill the small bottle. We were using the lemon flavored liquid, and so it was yellow in color. I kept the big bottle on the kitchen table, as I had no time to keep it in the shelf. After completing the washing, I started preparing the lunch.
I have sliced the 4-5 onions and was sauting them for the prawn roast when my MIL came to help me in the kitchen. I started cutting the mutton for the curry.
“The oil is not enough for the onions to be sauted.”said my MIL.
“Ok, mummy, can you pour some more oil in it?” I asked.
She took the oil and poured in it and was stirring it when she gave a loud cry. I looked up at her.
“Oh, Najeeba, I’ve pured the dish washing liquid instead of the oil.”
I’ve kept the liquid near to the bottle of the oil, and she took the wrong bottle! Oh, God!
I had to do all the work again. I started it again. I sliced the vegetables, mutton and everything needed for the roast, curry and rice and started with the cleaning. I swept the whole house and has started moping when MIL asked me to take the chillies from the fridge. I ran to take it, as time was flying and we had only a couple of hours before the guests arrived. While running, I stumbled over the porridge my co-sister had made for her baby. The porridge was spread over the entire hall! I got very angry with myself and all others in the home, and felt an anger towards the guests too. I started shouting at myself, and also at hubby. I could not shout at my MIL, co-sis or Brother-in-Law.
My husband understood my situation, and asked me take some rest, and have a bath. According to him, bathing cools down one’s “mind and body, heart and soul”. I did as he asked, and that did make some effect on my anger. By the time I finished my bath, hubby has cleaned the porridge from the floor and cooked some new porridge for his niece. Thanks a lot to him. I resumed my work, and when the time the guests arrived, I was panting -and the house clean and tidy, the lunch ready along with two to three deserts and I was happy to receive them.

After they left, I just revised the happenings of the day. Apart from mummy pouring dish washing liquid to the onion and me kicking the porridge pan, there were many things that wasted my time. Like the bottle with the turmeric powder fell from my hand and it was spilled on the cooking range. The bed sheet I was putting on the bed tore when I pulled it tight. The water overflew on the floor when I was filling into the kettle. And so many. All because I was not concentrating on the work I was doing, rather, thinking about the works I have to do. Less concentration made my busy day even an more busier day.

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Small Step, Big Leap

June 25, 2008


“Umma, look at this photo, its the corn field in the farm.” I was browsing through the photos we took from a farm in Khorfukkan, and I called my mom when I reached this photo. The farm belonged to our neighbors when we were in Fujairah. They are also from Kerala, India. “Its their own farm, taken on contract for 5 years. Its around Dirhams ( currency of UAE) 2,00,000 for five years.” I explained.
“How much land is it?” Umma asked.
“Oh! I forgot to ask that!”
I really have forgotten about the area of land. It wasn’t much, not as much as we had around our home. But there was corn, tomatoes, cabbages, cucumber, mint, mangoes, mulberries, datepalms and many other grasses which are given as food for animals. and there was also goats, hens and a cat… pussy cat :).
“Do you know how Jaleel-ka got this farm?” Umma asked me.
Well, I haven’t tried to get into details of the history of Jaleel. Jaleel was our neighbor in Fujairah, now the owner of that farm. Well, the -ka means brother in Malayalam, usually we add it when we address males elder than us, and a -tha when we address females elder than us. The -tha means sister. Jaleel’s wife was Husna, and we called her Husna-tha. Plus four boys, and their family became a big happy family!
Jaleel and Husna have been our neighbors for about 10+ years, and they are still there in Fujairah. Umma and Baba( my dad) settled in our homecountry, India, when Baba got retired from his job. That was around 4 or 5 years ago. I came here after my marriage two years ago,
“He was a poor fellow when he came to Fujairah some 20 years back,” said Umma, “and a very careless fellow. Never went for any job, and if he got some money from anybody, just went to play cards.”
“Then how did he become the owner of the farm?” asked Nawaz, my brother, who was also with us, listening to the story. To own a farm for 5 years he needed Dirhams 2,00,000!
“One night, he was playing cards with his friends, when suddenly, the police appeared,” Umma paused, “there were 29 of them, playing cards.”
“Then?”
“Police saw all of them and caught them, except Jaleel-ka. He acted as he was sleeping. The police kicked him two or three times, left him there when there was no response from him and went to station with the rest of the 28 fellows.”
Playing cards is not an offense in most places, but it is against the laws in middle-east. Especially when cash is included in the game. You can be sure of a few months or years in prison.
Umma continued with the story.
“When he was sure the police have gone, he got up. The next day, he went to the station and inquired how to free his friends. The head of the station demanded Dirhams 28,000, thousand for each of them. Jaleel-ka came out of the station, and started begging. He asked for money from everyone he saw on his way, regardless of their nationality, religion or anything. He got Dirhams 38,000.”
Hmm…. Cool guy, I thought.
“He went to the station, freed his friends and started business with the rest of his money – the 10,000.”
“Well, do you know his qualification?” I asked.
“Not more than 2nd grade. And Husna-tha is a fifth grade pass out.” Umma replied. “But she is a woman with strong will power. She took license and now she does major of the household activities, while Jaleel-ka runs his business.” Umma continued. “He started a vegetable shop and then, with his hard work and determination, it grew into a big vegetable business. Now, to get fresh vegetables into the market, he started this farm also.”
Isn’t that a great work? A small step from the ditch to a big leap into the business world.
Here comes the snaps from his farm:
The mango tree with lots of flowers on it.
and Husna has been calling me to their home ever since. I kept nagging my hubby asking him to take me to Fujairah, until he agreed and we all – me, hubby, hubby’s brother, hubby’s sis, her hubby, their daughter and hubby’s cousin went for the Fujairah trip. Our plan was to go to Khorfukkan beach, but when we reached our neighbors home, we changed the plan and decided to go to their farm so that Neha(one year old hubby’s niece) could see some animals. That was how we got the photos of the farm.The tiny mangoes on a branch.
Hubby’s niece in the cucumber section.
Notice the cucumber on the plant.
Neha near the grass farm.
The cabbage farm.
The water for the farm is pumped from a well into this pond.It is then made to flow into the canal which takes the water to different parts of the farm.