Saturday, December 22, 2007

Eid at Summer's Ranch

Photo: summer's ranch 2007

These last three days were are a muslim holiday called Eid-ul-Adha and during this time muslims around the world sacrifice a goat or sheep and distribute a portion among the poor and hungry.

Muslims eat Halal meat and it has to be slaughtered according to strict guidelines. Due to lack of observant butchers around here, we usually send money back to Pakistan and our family members fulfill the obligation of distributing meat for us. This year was especially unique because we found out about a ranch here in Michigan that lets muslims do the sacrifice themselves. In Pakistan and India this is a common practice but it is wonderful to have access to an organic farm where muslims can get halal meat.

At the ranch we stood in line behind a dozen other muslims. Most people had already picked out and paid for their animals. We knew it was going to be a long day but we made the best of it. I even ordered pizza from the only pizza shop in town and it really started to feel like Eid. My cousin brough his kids to the ranch and I am sure it was an eye-opening experience for them. It is difficult to associate the fresh meat at the supermarket with a living animal. Today my parents and the rest of our family distributed the meat amongst family / friends and sent the rest to the poor.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Photo: Death ride 2006

I think I messed up my iliotibial band. This is the BEST time of the year to be out running and I am icing my freakin' knee instead. Thanks to Google there is so much great info on the internet about it.

Check it

1. What is iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)?

2. Pre-workout stretches and ways to strengthen the iliotibial band.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Give one Get one

(summer 2007)

This year was my first time taking part a Black Friday shopping adventure. Every year, I hear people talking about the incredible deals they got after waiting in line all night outside a local computer store or mall. I don't think I have the same devotion/time in the day and secondly I didn't really need anything so it was a perfect people watching opportunity.
As it gets closer to the holiday season, there are many more coupons in my already bulging mailbox. The stores seem to be a little busier and people use every opportunity to check off gifts for their family members. I have heard of many great ideas this year but one definitely stands out. One of my friends bought a laptop from the "give one get one" laptop campaign. This project is run by an organization called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and they hope to provide a laptop for every child in a developing country. Until December 31st you can buy a $399 ($200 is tax deductible) laptop for yourself and they send one overseas to a needy child.
After my last summer of research in Pakistan I got an idea of the conditions in impoverished school systems. These laptops run on a linux based operating system and are designed to work in areas where there is a lack of a good telecommunications network. They build a network with other nearby laptops to provide internet access to everyone.

So this year, if you are having trouble figuring out what to get for that special someone, this is a great option.

p n l

Saturday, November 10, 2007

autumn 2007

Autumn would be my favorite season of the year if it didn't ensue the fear of a cold winter ahead.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

on two wheels

(a motorcycle in Karachi, Pakistan 2007)

Last night was a beautiful night for a bike ride. I was on my way back from a coffee shop, it was pitch dark on the streets and all I could hear subtle hum of my tires rolling over the asphalt. The speed and the disconnect from the world always puts me in a perfect euphoric state. I get so much thinking done on my bike, but I am not alone in enjoying this blissful state of mind while biking; Kary B. Mullis discovered Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) while coasting on the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Mendocino on a motorcycle.
Dr. Mullis was awarded a Nobel Prize for this discovery and if you have spent any time in a lab you know how important this is in most scientific research. PCR machines amplify small pieces of DNA into millions of copies. Next time you are watching CSI you should thank someone thinking hard on a motorcycle.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Plants for the workspace

Moss 2007

I have a new desk (thanks to my brother) and there is nothing like a peaceful work space. I have been doing a little research on how to add a green to this picture. These are my top four picks

4: Epipremnum aureum (Pothos): I grew up with this plant in every corner of the house. My mom espeically likes it and I think my grandmother have one on her mantle piece. It deserves to be higher on this list but I really need something new and different. I think it might be a good choice because it is so hardy and the green and white leaves contrast so well. It would also be great in low light. Most people plant these in hanging baskets or let them hang down from a table.

3: Crassula ovata (Jade) : OK! This is a popular plant and I have had one for a while and just recently

2: Chamaedorea elegans (bella) : I recently found discovereed this plant, even though I am sure I have seen it around. It is perfect as and office / indoor plant and looks beautiful.

1: Monstera deliciosa (Fruit Salad Plant, Ceriman, Monster fruit, Monsterio Delicio, Monstereo, Swiss Cheese Plant, Mexican Breadfruit) : I saw this plant at my friends apartment recently and my mom had a huge one of these are our old house. With proper care it can grow pretty big and I might not be able to keep it on my desk but it would be perfect for the study room or my office.

If you have other recommendations please let me know because I am going to make the final decision very soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

pete's dream

So one of my friends just told me that he has been dating Paris Hilton for the past few weeks and has since totally changed his impression of her. I guess in real life she is a really down to earth and even a little insecure. He said that he feels really comfortable hanging out with her and they have had great conversations. Since, my friend lives in Michigan, Paris has been visiting frequently and they even had to share a room with his brother for a few nights.
Of course, I asked the obvious questions about what he thinks about the paparazzi and the constant media attention and he said that he hasn't had to deal with it as much lately. It is incredible how easisly the media can distort our opinion of a person. I hope them the best of luck in the land of z's.

Monday, September 03, 2007

text message from a friend

Khalid! :) i'm getting married in a park by the river on saturday! Don't ask! Can u come? Only close friends and some family :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Photo: In the field; Pakistan 2007
All scientific work is incomplete - whether it be observational or experimental. All scientific work is liable to be upset or modified by advancing knowledge. That does not confer upon us a freedom to ignore the knowledge we already have, or to postpone the action that it appears to demand at a given time.

Who knows, asked Rober Browning, but the world may end tonight? True, but on available evidence most of us make ready to commute on the 8.30 next day.

Sir Austin Bradford Hills. "The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation?" 1965 The Royal Society of Medicine.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Karachi, Pakistan

I am back from Karachi and slowly uploading my pictures
coat of arms

Friday, August 03, 2007

my british cousins

"no, its W H A T with a silent 'h' and 't'"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I was scanning the radio and I heard some really good techno so I turned it up a bit and the dj goes "put your hands up, put your hands up, put your hands up for DETROIT". There are so many things around this city that remind me of the US. This guy at the university had a Detroit Red Wings decal on his motorcycle, another guy selling paan was wearing a Michigan State University t-shirt. There are McDonalds and KFCs at every turn of the street.
There are awesome coffee shops all around but thankfully Starbucks hasn't (yet) take over this side of the world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

See Pakistan

I really wish I had time to take a road trip from Karachi to Lahore, or better yet if the Blue Barrons made a trip to the Pakitan we could make it a 2 week cross country (literally) bike trip.

I think that is the best idea I have had in a long time


My friend and I made a list of things to do while I am here in Karachi and I am slowly checking them off.
I really wish I could post pictures with this blog. Today, I am going to try to get some of the negatives scanned.


I am becoming more of a Pakistani every day
Here is proof:

-I drink called PAKOLA for lunch
-I bargain like a CHAMP
-I speak in punjabi when I joke
-I don't even flinch when a bus 2 feet from hitting the car
-I cross busy roads like I have been doing it all my life

Friday, July 13, 2007

barbers in Pakistan

For the last couple of days I have had bad gastroenteritis because I thought I was hardcore enough to eat street food. I guess there is a little bit of "gora" in me. To freshen up a little bit I went to this hip barber shop. My beard was starting to get a little out of control and many people had recommended that I go there (hidden agenda, who knows?). The barber spent about 20 minutes perfecting my beard. After that, there was a chai break . . . of course!. Next, he started trimming my hair and as soon as he got done a cold glass of Mountain Dew apeared infront of me. I started getting up thinking this had to be it but he sat me back down. The barber gave me a facial and put on a mask. THEN, I got the most AMAZING head, neck, and back massage! Keep in mind, all I asked for was a beard trim but everything else was just part of the package.

So far, I think this has been the coolest thing I have discovered in Pakistan.

I am going back next week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This is a traffic jam

Notice; Cars, busses, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles, and pedestrians all roll together because lanes are for whussies.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The best cup of chai

I am not a regular chai drinker; it seems that some people can't funtion without chai. I have to admit, in Pakistan it is hard to go a day without a cup. Everyone I meet offers me a chai, everytime I walk in someone's office their secretary brings chai. I recently met a really cool doctor; he and his secretary had a code word for chai. I didn't even have time to accept or refuse the offer and in a few minutes they was chai on the desk . . . "how much sugar do you take?"
Anyways, today was a beautiful day here in Karachi, the clouds have been saving us from the intense solar heat and we have had a non-stop breeze from the West. I woke up from a long nap and asked one of the people who work here for chai (dood patti style). I sat outside in the lawn sipped on this perfect cup. It is still breezy and that made for the best combination of hot and cold. Suddenly, all the parrots and crows stopped singing thir respective songs, the sun started setting, and as I was sipping the last few drops of chai the sound of adan started emanating from mosques around me; "allaaaaaah ho Akbar". I don't think I will forget that moment for a long time because it will define how much fun I had in Karachi on summer.

by E. Koohan Paik

Things like this make me want to be a liberal arts major.
"To replace an indigenous language with a colonial tongue immediately puts the native at a disadvantage. As the colonized mind realigns to the worldview and universe embodied in the new language, it begins to rationalize the world through colonial eyes. Soon, the colonized people see all things native as inferior, including themselves, so they acquiesce to assimilation and exploitation. The phenomenon is known as internalized oppression. Once the mental landscape has been conquered, the rest is easy."

VIA C. Ryan

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

street people

Yesterday, I saw two really cute old beggars. I got out of the car and sat on the curb with them and had a nice chat. I don't know what it is about some people that I can't help but wanting to learn everything them. I have made some life-long friends this way.
I had my SLR with me and I really wanted to take a portrait of them. Unfortunately, they apologized and asked me not to. I will probably never see them again but no one can stop me from snapping my built-in shutters.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mountains beyond Mountains

I just finished reading a book; "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder. It is a great narrative of the life of Dr. Paul E. Farmer and his efforts to fight TB in the developing world. Coincidentally, yesterday I saw a NGO here in Karachi and they provide free care for people with TB and leprosy. I talked with a physician there for a long time about the services they provide and how they get by with such little funding. It is so refreshing to see such an organization in Karachi. The health care system for some of the lower class neighbourhoods is in bad shape. I wish I could have taken pictures but it would have been impossible do so while protecting the patients' privacy.
The physician was so happy to see someone back in Pakistan to do research. I recommended the book to him and I think everyone in the public health sector should read it.


time is flying by here

Friday, June 29, 2007


I bargained like a champ yesterday; Rs.25/ Kg of mangoes! woot!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Research in Pakistan

I have already seen more of Karachi than people who have been living here for decades. yay research!
Monsoon season started recently and I have seen some INSANE storms as well. People have been telling me that it hasn't rained like this in years. Some of the innner city streets are flooded, but so far it hasn't kept me from my field work.

I have shot a couple of rolls of film but I still captured the things I want to save on film. I will have many stories for you all when I get back.

love love love

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

sleepy time

I hate sleeping! As a child one of the only things that got me in trouble was not going to sleep on time. I NEVER participated in the country-wide afternoon siesta; it seemed like such a foolish idea. I am not sure if this is still true but at least nine years ago the country would shut down in the afternoon. It was so irritating to think that everyone was just laying in bed and wasting their time when they could be so productive. I remember biking laps around our neighbourhood all afternoon.
Not much has changed for me since childhood but with the stress of grad school, I think my brain is fried by midnight . I hate to concede but I just don't think I can live on the 4 hours per night schedule anymore. For the last week, I have been sleeping at the same time as most 'neurotypical' people. Lets see how it goes.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I need sleep

REST Summer '04

There are many things I have done on a bike, like going in my back pack and checking my pda for updates, using my cell phone, rolling up my pants or doing all those things at the same time. But today was a first, I FELL ASLEEP while biking. I use the same route to go to school every day and it has become so mechanical. I was biking to class around 9 am and for an instant my head bopped down and I was out. I woke up when I realized that I was off the road and about to go in a ditch. EEEEEK! I have no recollection of what how I got off the road. I am sure the people driving by got a nice laugh out of it.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

El autobus


Any Michigander would agree that in Michigan we get a little over-excited when springs hits. After months and months of bone chilling cold we are SO ready to roll up our jeans and sit on patios, porches or in the lawn. I am not blaming anyone, there is nothing better than a good book on a nice sunny day, but that is besides the point.

Typically, the temperature shoots back down from 60deg to 30deg (back and forth. . . ) and we are surprisingly slow to put the jacket and the scarf back on. Maybe, we are just in denial and don't want to revert back to the winter routine. I am not much of an outlier and usually lock away the jacket after the first day warm day. Last week, I biked to class in just a t-shirt and had to get a ride back to my apartment, only to wake up the next morning with no bike to go to school. I had two options; drive to work or try out the public transportation system. So, I grabbed a 2 quaters and hopped on the Capital Area Transportation Authority (cata) bus. Usually, I whip [imagine a swoooosh sound effect] by these busses on my bike, waving at people scrunched inside like sardines in a can but on this this day I was the analogous sardine. I hate to admit but it was fun to relax and take in the scenery.

PS. dont tell my bike . . . she might get angry w/ me.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Life in a cube

Julidochromis Marlieri

A new addtion to the african cichlid aquarium!

Monday, March 12, 2007

all in all

I have this "secret spot" in the library where I usually hide from the chaos. I used to go there a lot more when I was an undergrad but now that I have a beautiful apartment a lot more studying gets done here. I like to pretend that only I know about this desk and chair. There is a huge window above the desk with a remarkable view. A while ago I noticed that someone else shared this suposed secret personal office and this is the message he / she left me.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Don't be a statistic

Photo: frozen to death in michigan

When talking about food borne illnesses and outbreaks, one of my professors points at the 'cases' in a chart and always says "don't be that statistic". Similarly, this blog needs to be revived ( thanks to the update faerie ). I was reading a blog entry by Perseus|Websurveyor, an online surveying and consulting firm and they recetly collected data on 3,634 blogs. It was hard to belive, that based on this sample data they projected that 4.1 million blogs had been created (on Blog-City, BlogSpot, Diaryland, LiveJournal, Pitas, TypePad, Weblogger and Xanga). Unfortunately, more than half of them have been left to roll like tumbleweeds in blogosphere.