Happy birthday Nadia!

Another year, another birthday. (Which, of course, is the very definition of an annual day to celebrate your birth.)

#AllSmiles

This year we celebrated Nadia’s birthday with dinner at my sister’s house while watching the men’s cricket world cup.

#ThumbsUp

And we got Nadia to blow out only once scented candle — which she was quite okay with :)

Posing for the photo.

Happy birthday! <3

Also, Bob’s Burgers fans will appreciate that one of the presents I got Nadia this year was this fabulous glow-in-the-dark Kuchi Kopi!

“Nice to see you, Mr Bob.”

Snoozing dog

One of the perks of working from home is having a snoozing dog in your eye line the whole time.

It’s a cold day and that’s a big gas heater on the back wall. Maggie is very happy.

It’s also a little amusing when you start to speak in a conference call and startle said sleeping puppy :)

Wha..?

Warm and stylish!

It’s important to be warm and stylish when Nadia takes you for your morning walk on a windy, overcast 4-degree day in Melbourne :)

I’m not sure how much she appreciated the coat, but she was certainly looking forward to her walk!

Happy puppy :)

Happy puppy :)

Tour of the West Gate Tunnel Project

One of the perks of working at Transurban is that you can sign up for tours of our major construction projects — which is how I found myself on a tour of the West Gate Tunnel Project last week :)

Wearing boots, a hard hat, and high visibility vest while touring the West Gate Tunnel Project northern portal (which is across the street from Yarraville Gardens).

I love the West Gate Tunnel Project because, as someone who lives in Melbourne’s west, I know first hand how much of a pain it can be to drive into the city.

Once complete, this new toll road will make it much easier for folks coming from the west — ie the Western Ring Road (M80) or the West Gate Freeway (M1) — to get into the western side of Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD).

Right now, if you’re driving into the city from the west, you have two options: (a) go through Footscray by taking Geelong/Williamstown road and then Dynon/Footscray road or (b) take the West Gate Bridge and get to the south of the CBD.

The West Gate Tunnel will give us a third option, albeit a tolled one: (c) take the tunnel under Yarraville and the Maribyrnong River, followed by the elevated roadway above Footscray Road. Then connect to Footscray Road, Dynon Road (near North Melbourne railway station), or Wurundjeri Way to get into the city; or take the on-ramp to CityLink and go north.

Sadly, this project is still three years away from completion so there’s nothing to do but wait.

On the up-side: this means I’ll get to go on more project construction tours over the coming years :)

Maggie, waiting

Maggie waits outside the bathroom door for Nadia to finish getting dressed so they can go for a walk.

Maggie waits patiently for Nadia to come out of the bathroom.

Maggie prods me to get out of bed so I can take her for a walk.

Get out of bed and take me for a walk already!

Maggie decides to take a nap next to the dining table between me and Nadia because we won’t stop talking to each other after having finished lunch.

Might as well take a nap between the humans while they go on and on and on talking to each other at the dining table.

Maggie's spot in the garden

On hot, sunny afternoons this is where you’ll find Maggie chilling out in the garden — particularly if both Nadia and I are there too, hanging out the washing or something.

Maggie in her favourite spot

As the afternoon progresses, she’ll stretch out a bit.

Stretching out as the shade covers more of the lawn

Oh no, I’ve been spotted!

Oh no!

Friendly neighbourhood cat

I don’t recognise many of my human neighbours in Kingsville, Victoria, but I do recognise most of the dogs and cats that live around here :)

This is cat I’ve met a few times, but scritched only once (when it was sitting on the fence). This appears to be its new favourite spot, though, because I’ve now seen it chilling out exactly there two weekends in a row (which is usually when I walk Maggie down this street).

It’s a really friendly cat that Maggie doesn’t react to (yay!). I hope I get to scritch it again in the future.

Love Letters To Feminisms

Nadia and I had an excellent time this afternoon at ‘Love Letters to Feminisms: a live performance of feminist texts’. Organised by the Loving Feminist Literature collective, the event featured several writers, poets, academics, and performers who shared their works and the works of other feminists.

The performances were powerful and emotional, and each one resonated strongly with everyone in the room.

Nadia was one of the performers and she read a piece that honoured the Pakistan women’s movement and all they’ve achieved over the last few decades.

Nadia performing at ‘Love Letters of Feminisms’, alongside an Auslan interpreter

Bonus: the event was held at the Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray, which a lovely venue that looks great in selfies :)

Selfie in front of the Bluestone Church Arts Space on Hyde Street in Footscray.

Seriously, though, it was a joy to be among so many diverse and enthusiastic feminists in Melbourne. I look forward to attending more of Loving Feminist Literature’s events in the future.

Mango pudding

Nadia adores mangoes. Unfortunately, she’s been allergic to them since her late teens.

I, too, adore mangoes. But, given we been married for over fifteen years, I only rarely have them. So, when I do, I make the most of it :)

This is from Nadia’s Instagram account:

@ameelkhan is unrepentant in his consumption of mango pudding. #nom #dessert #mangopudding (Source)

To which my response was: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Top tip: Take the train to airshow

If you’re not carrying too much with you, I highly recommend taking the V/Line train + bus combo service to the Avalon Airshow. That’s what I did this year and it worked brilliantly.

Last time I went there, we drove. That resulted in over three hours of total driving time — most of that in slow, heavy traffic on narrow lanes behind the airport that went to/from the airshow parking area. And then we had to park a good fifteen minute walk away from the airshow entrance. Not fun. Wouldn’t recommend.

This time someone else did all the driving and I got to nap in a cool, quiet carriage all the way back to the city :)

All this didn’t cost very much either: $13.60 for a return ticket from Footscray railway station to Lara railway station and then a special shuttle from Lara to a convenient drop-off/pick-up point near the airshow entrance. (I bought the ticket in advance, though not online, which is why it cost me more than the online full-fare price but less than the $15 day-of price.)

Screenshot of V/Line ticket prices for the 2019 Airshow. ( Source )

Screenshot of V/Line ticket prices for the 2019 Airshow. (Source)

I could also have used my Myki to get to/from Lara station and then buy a separate paper ticket for just the shuttle bit of the journey. The V/Line folks even had a special ticketing booth set up specifically at Lara for the people who were doing this. But was easier just to get a paper ticket for the whole journey.

Bonus tip: go as early as you possibly can

The other thing I’d highly recommend is that you get to the airshow as early as possible. Gates open at 8am so I caught first train out of Footscray station at 7:08am.

Catching the first train out of Footscray railway station.

After a quick 45 minute trip we hopped off at Lara railway station where shuttle buses were ready and waiting for. There were enough of on this first train in to fill up two buses, and we set off almost immediately.

I got into the airshow proper (ie past security and ticketing) by 8:26am — so a total front-door to airshow-entrance travel time of about ninety minutes.

The return trip took just a little longer because there was a short wait till the shuttle bus filled up at Avalon. Fortunately, the buses were nicely air conditioned — a huge relief when it was 36 degrees outside!

Waiting in the well air conditioned V/Line shuttle bus at the airshow — hot and tired, but happy.

There was also a fifteen minute wait at Lara station till the next train was due, but that was fine too. The station is quite nice, with a indoor waiting room, lots of out outdoor sheltered waiting/seating space, and even a small cafe.

Walking into Lara railway station.

The train back to the city was my favourite part of the journey because I got a seat in a Quiet Carriage and pretty much napped all the way back to Footscray :)

Oh, and since Nadia both dropped me off to Footscray station in the morning and also picked me up from there in the afternoon, I didn’t have to do any driving that day at all. Yay!

Selfie with summer hat

Of late I’ve taken selfies mostly while wearing a hat. So here’s another one — this time with my summer flat cap.

Sunny Friday in Melbourne, and casual day at work.

I took this photo using portrait mode on my Google Pixel 3XL phone. The background blurring worked quite well, I think.

My mother would have turned 72 today

I remember the afternoon of 12 February 1983 very clearly.

I’m six years old and I spend what feels like several hours swinging back and forth on the front gate of our house in Lahore, Pakistan.

Why? Because my father is there, with my seven month old sister in his arms, pacing up and down the driveway and across the front of our house, looking increasingly concerned.

My mother, Shahla Zia, whose 36th birthday it is that day, isn’t home. I don’t know where she is, really. I just know that she was full of energy when she left with her friends and work colleagues.

Me and my father in, I think, 1980. I would have been four years old at the time.

§

Many years and several women’s day marches later I connect the dots: this is the day the women’s movement in Pakistan celebrates as National Women's Day (or Pakistan Women’s Day, as it was called back then).

On this day, some three decades ago, 200 women activists took a stand for all the women of Pakistan. The year was 1983. Images of these women being beaten up by the police are now part of the country’s searing conscience.

These women defied the military dictatorship of the day by taking out a public demonstration in Lahore, despite martial law regulations that outlawed political activities, processions and public protests. These iconic women of the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) in collaboration with Pakistan Women Lawyers’ Association (PWLA) carried out a rally from Hall Road Lahore to the Lahore High Court to file a petition against the law of evidence which would reduce the testimony of women to half that of men. The accumulative trigger was the dictatorship’s unrelenting push to rescind women’s rights.

History has it that when these women reached the high court, the revolutionary poet Habib Jalib came to show solidarity with these women for their struggle for an egalitarian, democratic and progressive society and world order. He was beaten up by the police along with the women who were put behind bars for several hours.

National Women’s Day: Memoirs of trailblazing activists’ – Hassan Naqvi, The Express Tribune, 12 February 2014

Baton charge on protesters at Hall Road, Lahore. 12 February 1983. Photographer: Azhar Jaffery. (Source)

§

Today, on 12 February 2019, I’m in Melbourne, Australia.

I’m on the committee that’s organising this year’s International Women’s Day events at the company I work for. I’m working on a communications plan to showcase on social media how we're an employer of choice for women in Australia (as we have been since 2015).

One of the reasons I took this particular job (I got two job offers when I was looking for work last year) was because of how well Transurban scored on workplace gender equity. Now I get to tell people about it.

Compared to 1983 in Pakistan, I’m in a vastly different time and place – a vastly different world. A lot has changed. But, sadly, a lot hasn’t.

View from my office building on a rainy day.

§

Every year on 12 February my father writes a note to my mother, which he then sends to me and my siblings. (This year via WhatsApp!)

He writes about what we’re up to, where we are in our lives, and how proud he is of us. Three of us have kids (the other two, of which I am one, have pets) so he also talks about his grandkids and us as parents.

Ami and Abu, some time in the 1980s.

§

If she hadn’t died of cancer in 2005, Ami would’ve turned 72 today.

We all mark the occasion in our own ways, often with food – something Ami loved to eat. Today I’m having alu ka parathas for dinner.

I miss her.

Ami on her 50th birthday in Islamabad, Pakistan.