Raising a Damaad

Damaad is the word for son-in-law in the Urdu language.  In the South Asian culture damaads are often treated like royalty. From my observation society treats the roles of a daughter in law (bahoo) very different from the son -in-law (damaad).  My thoughts derive from experiences, observations and maybe Pakistani dramas.
Although  this post may not describe everyones experience, I know that many people know of cases or can empathize with the double standards in our culture (at least most bahoos)Traditionally South Asian mothers raise their daughters to fit into the new family she goes into, and to treat her new family the way she treats her own.  However, when it comes to a son, I don’t think the mother instills those same values in him.

We mentally prepare daughters to embrace going into their husband’s new home which is their “real” home.  They must win the hearts of every single creature living inside the house, yes even the Jinn.

As the new bahoo in the family you are expected to delight your in-laws with your cooking, amuse them with your personality, be the first to help out and the last to sit down, beautify yourself with the finest clothing and of course adorn the gold with the newly wed-bride look.  You are expected to keep them before your plans and sometimes even before your family.

Expectations for the Daamad? Well lets just put it this way:

Do not swear/abuse/degrade your wife
Do not start arguments with your in laws,
Do not have a bad mood in their presence
Exchange a few smiles here and there
Show up to family dinners every now and then
= BAM you have yourself a great son-in-law.

Virtually no effort is required and all they have to do is meet the bare minimum requirements for a decent human being.  They do not have to go out of their way for their in-laws or even make an effort to take part in family discussions nor stay in touch for that matter.

They have to ‘not be bad’ in order to be considered good whereas a daughter-in-law has to be outstanding in order to be considered somewhat good!

I have a son, which now gives me the added responsibility of raising him to be that one heck of a darn good SON-IN-LAW.

Insha’Allah, I will teach him to make an effort to fit in with his new family, help them and maintain a high level of akhlaq in their presence. He should get involved in family discussions and find solutions to their problems and dilemmas.  It is not just about giving their daughter the bare rights but rather giving her the utmost happiness alongside being a good person to his in-laws.

He should be thankful for the hospitality his in-laws provide and not assume it is expected.  Sometimes in-laws may go above and beyond to please their damaad and  as a typical guy’s personality he may not even realize that, hence limiting his appreciation for the amount of effort put into pleasing him.

He too should know that his in-laws miss their daughter/sister and that she is still an integral part of their household. Just because she is married does not mean she no longer should contribute to her family.

Rather a good damad will not only appreciate the vital role she plays in his family but encourage her to provide any sort of support for her own family as well.

Does your husband fits the description above? If so, then please message me your mother-in-law’s contact info so I can get some pointers.

As for the rest of the boy-mamas, I say we dust off our akhlaq books and sit our boys down and drill it into their tiny brains.  Our upbringing may serve as a means to attain Jannah, Insha’Allah.

Meanwhile I am accepting applications for daughter-in-laws. (My son’s two but gotta start early these days!).

Something for boy-mamas to think about….

 

Easy Herb Butter Turkey Recipie

 For all of you last minute people, this is an easy recipie that I followed for my “Friends Thanksgiving” last weekend. It’s easy and it turned out great!

 

Just click on link to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2wKZdBpVlw

The hardest part was washing the turkey but I youtubed that as well. Thankful for helpful videos!

Here is what the end result looked like… HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

We want to see your table spreads! Any interesting Desi cultural influences on your Turkey? Please share.

Domestic Help in Third World Countries

As an American Pakistani there is this unique connection that I think many of us have with the country of Pakistan. This connection  gives us an opportunity to experience Pakistan as a local when we visit.  We are privy to observe the workings of the Pakistani society and are exposed to the subtleties of the culture which may not be as obvious to outsiders.

One of the most obvious and glaring society difference between America and Pakistan  is the domestic workers that are in most houses. The Knaucker range from the household manager who controls the gate of the house to the drivers and the women who come to brush and wipe down the floors. Depending on the family and the households there can at times be more domestic help in the house than people of the family.

When we would visit our family in Karachi the cleaning lady would take care of making our beds and tidying up the room. It was a foreign concept and it felt really wrong having some lady clean up after us. That was about 13 years ago…fast forward to last year and I was the one asking my mom to help me find a little girl who could help me look after Hassan while I was in Karachi.

The girl who came to be my lifesaver was  known as  “Baji”  she was the daughter of the cleaning lady that worked in our house. Her name was Shaista and she was an very well groomed 13 year old with a serious face and  a beautiful smile.  The first  day she  came I introduced her to the kids, set her schedule and decided her salary – She would work 6 days a week from 9-5:30 and would be paid RS 2,000 a month. This is approximately $20 a month.

It was the first time I had my own personal domestic help. It was confusing at first, I wasn’t sure what tasks to give her and how to tell her exactly what I wanted her to do without sounding bossy or mean. After a few days  she became familiar with the kids schedule and she started asking me things lik : Should I feed the kids a snack now? And  should I wash the kids bottles now? She was a smart girl and the kids loved her. Soon she was  handling the kids responsibilities and I was the one asking her things like do you think their tired now? Should we put them to nap? It was a gradual process but we tag teamed and got the work done together. I would  tell her to take naps when the kids napped and would get her treats when I got something for the kids. It was all going good until the day that I took “Baji” into the new Dolmen Mall that had opened a few months ago in Clifton.

It was a fancy mall with international brands and an crowd that was  dressed to impress. Initially I really enjoyed visiting this mall with “Baji” in tow handling the stroller. She was wide-eyed and impressed with this mall. She  experienced her very first escalator ride and soon mastered it with grace and poise. But I felt bad, here is an 13 year old who is experiencing parts of Karachi that she may have never seen before, worse she didn’t fit in, it was obvious to anyone that she was in fact the kids maid. Would this be damaging to her self-worth, her pride, would these joy trips to the mall be more detrimental to this teenagers life by making her feel inferior? Is it fair to take introduce a girl to a realiity that will most probabaly never be hers? Oh man the questions kept coming and I felt more and more confused.

I kept these thoughts to myself but I did consciously made an effort to not take her with me. I would leave Hassan to nap at home and would ask Baji to watch him while I had my fill of the Glamarous new mall.  While I never really resolved this issue my dad who  was working at an corporate office told me how he helped a young man get a job, the man’s job was to sit in the elevator and push buttons for people all day. Another man’s job he told me was to sit at the copier and make copies and deliver them to his seniors. Small and insignificant jobs such as these can mean the difference between starvation and eating for these mens families. Unfortunately if we don’t employ people than these people will resort to illegal or corrupt ways and so I justified employing a 13 year old girl so that I can  ensure that she was safe, well-treated and well-fed at least for the duration of the time she was under my roof.

Is that right? Can their be a way of ending children working? I’m not sure, but I do know that having domestic help is a constant juggling act. At times I had to be firm with Baji, Other times I had to remeber that she was just a kid but above all I had to remember to be thankful  to the young girl with the beautiful smile.

What do you think about the domestic help in Pakistan?  Any experiences or comments? Please Share.

English Medium Dude

I was watching the ‘Lux Awards’ with my mom, something like  the  Pakistani Oscars.  They give out awards for acting, fashion, makeup and other things.

A good portion of the award show was conducted in English which I thought was weird.  Urdu is the national language and is spoken in offices and businesses.  So what could possibly be the reason for speaking in English?

This brought me to another trend I’ve noticed which is when I come across an aunty or uncle who insists on replying to me in english, despite the fact I am speaking to them in Urdu.  I refuse to believe the fact that that is what they are comfortable speaking (especially if your English has a thick Desi accent).

I can understand how English may be a sign of modernity and literacy.  Convent schools and Pakistani’s attending universities abroad give the locals a ‘classy’ and a ‘distinguished’ impression.  But does being educated or amongst the elite mean we must drop the core of our culture, our language? Or does it mean that speaking Urdu is a sign of backwardness or of being low-class?

After thinking about all this I started to carefully notice how much Urdu  I use on a daily basis.  There are only a handful of people with whom I speak solely Urdu to.  This thought made me sad and question why I don’t speak Urdu more often.

I feel very comfortable conversing in Urdu, as a matter of fact I feel Urdu has a wider selection of descriptive words.  Therefore at times it is easier to pinpoint or talk in grave detail in Urdu.  Sadly, my husband feels more comfortable talking in English, and it has been a work in progress to shift to Urdu…slowly but surely!  If I don’t speak it then I certainly can’t expect my son to speak it.

So I can understand that American-Pakistanis born and raised here may naturally feel more comfortable speaking English.  However, why the natives of Pakistan?

I can imagine the youth thinking its the ‘cool’ thing to do, but it is rather silly when you see grown adults giving interviews and comments in English.  It may perhaps be the issue of an inferior complexity?

I recall an incident in Pakistan when I was waiting for an order from McDonalds.  It was taking far too long and I had gone up twice to ask about the order and would instead receive a prompt and rude reply.  The third time I went up I decided to switch to English, “Excuse me I have been waiting forever, when will my food be ready?”

Off the workers went and brought me my order in a jiffy.  Had I known English would jumpstart my order, I would have resorted to it in the first place.

Urdu is one of the few things I like about my Pakistani culture, it is something I wouldn’t want to lose.  I think it is something we should all hold on to and try to speak it as much as we can.  In my opinion if we can carry both English and Urdu, then that is a sign of both intellect and balancing diversity.

Imagine if our grandchildren knew only English? Meaning in this generation we have a fair share of people who ‘understand’ it but can’t ‘speak’ it, but just imagine if they couldn’t even do that.  How boring would that be?

I was visiting Pakistan and my 4 year old cousin requested I say something in English, so of course I asked her the basic stuff such as name age etc. With a tone of disappointment she asked if that was all that I knew….I nodded and asked her how much did she know?

In response she said, “tube light, spoon, table, fork, books and dolls”.  I gave her a look of astonishment and a big “WOW!”

Sochnay ki baat hai….(something to think about…)