Tag Archives: life

At The Barber’s

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I have not actively been taking photographs for more than a year now. For most people, most certainly for me, photography as a pastime works best when the mind is settled and has time to take time off. Mine hasn’t been over the past year or more, for various reasons, rigorous academic research I am sure has a lot to do with it.

Hopefully I will be back to taking photographs like I once used to, I refer here to the frequency with which I actively went out to take photographs, and not the quality.

Hopefully this image above, taken when I wondered off into a cheap barber shop on a whim just to look someone in the eye and take a photograph is a start.

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Filed under 2013, photography

The Muslim Life of Pi

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Not really the Muslim life, but spiritual life would have been more apt. Also, spoiler alert.

I finally managed to watch ‘Life of Pi’ yesterday, I say ‘finally’ like I have been wanting to watch it for sometime now, but no – it was just a spur of the moment decision to go and watch it. I didn’t necessarily have it bookmarked as a must watch.

The book has been highly commended and many people whose opinions I trust have recommended it to me and I really did want to read it. I did the mistake however of watching the film first, and I think I may now never read the book. By this I mean not to say that the book has now diminished in my mind as an essential read, but the film I thought was a bit of a drag.

What the film successfully does however is to make it clear how good the book is and why the book must have been so good in the way it elucidates the power and presence of God in our lives. Therefore, if anything the film doesn’t really reduce the impression one may have had of the book.

The film I thought was a bit too long, and there were instances where I would have pressed the forward button if I was watching it at home on a DVD.  Pi, the protagonist (a believer of Hinduism, Christianity and Islam)  gets stranded in the middle of the ocean after a shipwreck that kills all aboard including his parents and his brother, that was made clear, with that the  human mind can associate to some extent the various perils and sufferings that come with being stranded. The film spent a lot of time trying to convey this.  Personally, I felt there were instances where time durations could have been cut down, more so when no powerful spiritual or literary message was really being conveyed compared to the time that it was taking. Another good film which had good reviews and yet which I found to be a drag at times is 127 hours, yet another instance where the film tended to focus far too much on reinforcing the suffering of the protagonist upon the viewer when the message surely had been conveyed.

But as a spiritual person and someone who believes in the presence of God, there were poignant moments which struck me and certainly pushed the case for the fact that as humans we aren’t entirely in control of ourselves or our actions. Our actions too are a result of the manoeuvring of us by a far more supreme being.

When Pi was stranded in the middle of the ocean, with nothing to depend on except some emergency supplies he finds on the boat and a Bengal tiger with which he was constantly involved in a battle for life, and yet at the same time kept him alive and alert, one does get the idea that much is said here about life. This is an instance when one really feels helpless and is truly in the hands of God. Many times we come across people or situations in life which are to our lives like the tiger was to Pi in this particular sequence of his life.

The tiger was an apparatus used by a higher power that kept Pi alive by being the significant threat to his life that it was, the fact that Pi had to struggle so much to go to the boat from his little raft to collect supplies at the risk of being eaten up strengthened his resolve and kept him vigilant. When all else was lost and the tiger had nothing else to feed on except to eat Pi, hordes of flying fish suddenly collide with the boat and the boat fills up just enough fish for the tiger and Pi to feast upon, thereby reducing the vulnerability of Pi from being eaten up by the tiger.

Just at that point I was reminded of this Qur’an verse –

 وَمَن يَتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ يَجۡعَل لَّهُ ۥ مَخۡرَجً۬ا (٢) وَيَرۡزُقۡهُ مِنۡ حَيۡثُ لَا يَحۡتَسِبُ‌ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلۡ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسۡبُهُ

 “And for those who fear God, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in God, sufficient is (God) for him.”  (Chapter  65 Verses 2-3)

There were numerous instances during the film when I thought that the ideal scene had been set where Pi would perhaps dramatically yell out something similar to the prayer of Prophet Jonah (Yunus for Muslims), but he did not. However, Pi did look towards the skies and cry out in despair that he had lost his parents and everything else, and asked what more God wanted from him.

After leaving the carnivores island, Pi says something to the effect that even though he was in instances of difficulty in numerous occasions and all hope was lost, he sensed that God made His presence felt in one way or the other and despite all the pains and sufferings, he felt that God never abandoned him.

This is when one (I in this instance) realises how every single living and non living construct play a part in our lives and this whilst accomplishing their own purposes of existence, they also come and influence our lives to a certain extent to remind us of the purpose of our existence, and how we should get about our lives, as peoples of faith or otherwise.

Upon reaching the shores of Mexico, Richard Parker (the name of the Tiger) just walks away from Pi, stops for a moment as if to look back at him, and then just continues to walk into the dense forest and Pi never sees him again. This naturally upsets Pi a lot, despite all that the tiger and the boy have been through, through the most perilous moments of their lives, the tiger just walks off without saying good bye. This reminded me of another Quranic story, the story of Moses and Khildr.

Moses had erred by proclaiming that he was extremely knowledgeable and that he knew the mysteries behind all or most things without attributing his strength as coming from God. God sends down Khildr to meet Moses and after three incidents where Moses’ wrong claim to absolute knowledge is established, Khildr goes away, never to be seen on the face of the earth.

The tiger in this instance had a worldly purpose to fullfill, and amongst its scope of work would have been to teach Pi vital lessons of trust, belief, hope and absolute reliance on God.

Sometimes people come into our lives; in their living they fulfil their purpose of existence. But the very purpose of their existence may perhaps be purely as guidance to us who have erred as a mercy from Allah. The soldiers of Allah can take any form, and rarely do we recognise them as soldiers of Allah sent to help believers – but they are there.

Tabarani reports that , “A man came to Abu Darda and said to him, ‘O Abu Darda, your house has burned.’ He said: ‘No, it cannot be burned. Allah will never allow this to happen because of the words that I heard from the Prophet, peace be upon him. Whoever says these words in the beginning of a day, the Prophet, peace be upon him, told us, will not be afflicted by a misfortune until the end of the day, and whoever says these words in the evening will not be afflicted until morning. These words are, 

“O Allah, You are my Lord, there is no god but You, I put my trust in You, You are the Lord of the Mighty Throne. Whatever Allah wills will happen and what He does not will, cannot happen. There is no power or strength except with Allah, the Exalted, the Mighty. I know that Allah has power over all things, and Allah comprehends all things in knowledge. O Allah, I seek refuge with You from the evil of myself and from the evil of all creatures under Your control. Surely the straight way is my Sustainers’ way“.

In some versions of this hadith we further find that he said, “Come, let us go. So he went with them to his house. They found all the area surrounding the house burned but his house was not damaged.”

Life of Pi is of book or film that illustrates the life of a man, who believes in all main faiths, yet the lessons derived from it and the resonance it has to Islamic values is truly poignant. Points to those of us who ponder.

For those of you who do not believe in a God, this post will come across as loony. Watch the film or read the book all the same.

Image from here.

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Filed under 2012, Islam

Oh to be an Architect!

I saw Makuluwo’s post and her rantings about her voluntary self inflicted torture and felt this post of mine in another blog deserved a repost! As an architecture student I went through the bulk of these myself, and I will start them again in a few months when I am back in Uni!

Why we do it is what comes to mind when we go through the stress,pain and apprehension! but the excitement in the end is what drives us!

You know you are an architecture student when –

….you know the janitors by name

….your roommates say “good morning,” and you reply “good night.”

….you carry a toothbrush in your backpack.

….someone asks you for your phone number and you give them the studios.

….you start paying rent for your desk space in studio.

….You total up 3 meals of the day to your breakfast.”

….’Red Bull’ is you favorite drink.

….all of the Christmas gifts you give are wrapped in trace.

…..you ask Santa Clause for architecture supplies.

….you ask Santa Clause for a sleeping bag.

….after all of your expenses, you can’t afford to pay attention.

….you have 3 or more cups of double shot coffee espressos in one night.

…you hear the same song on the radio 3 or more times in one night.

…. You know the different taste between UHU and Pritt glue

…. You can stay alive without sunlight, communicate with people nor having foods but you would commit suicide if the plotter doesn’t plot your work out.

….construction workers are already working.

….You’ve lost your house key and you realized a week later.

….you sleep more than 16 hrs at weekends.

….you dance madly at 3 am though u aren’t drunk.

…. You are an expert and Photoshop, 3DS Max, illustrator and auto cad but you don’t know how to use MS excel

….you spend more time in studio than in your own bed.

….your parents are complaining that you’re not having enough fun.

….you only leave studio to buy supplies.

….you haven’t taken a shower in a week.

….you see showering as a waste of time.

….you’ve even dreamt about your models.

….upon hearing ‘supermodel’, you think of a nicely crafted-foam core model.

….your parents have more of a social life than you.

….your 14-year-old brother has more of a social life than you.

….you consider using broccoli for your models.

….you enjoy hanging out at ‘Home and Garden Fair’.

….you know all the 24-hour food places in the area.

….your friends get more sleep in one night than you do in one week.

….the streetlights turn off.

…You consider 3AM an early night.

….when you are out at 3AM, and people knows where you’re at.

….everything you eat comes in single serving baggies.

…smoking sounds appealing.

….you’re out on Friday nights in studio.

….the only building on campus with its lights on is your studios’.

….you say “It’s only midnight- I have plenty of time to finish.”

….you confuse sunrise with sunset. ….you ask what time it is, then ask “AM or PM?”

….you strangle your roommate because she said she stayed up late studying.

….your Friday night is 68 hours long.

….you know how much a cubic foot of concrete weighs (150lbs).

….you slice your finger, and the first thing you think of is if you’ll be able to finish your model.

….you understand why architects have glasses and white hair.

….You call some great architects as if they are you friends. err… Frank… Tadao. …. Corb

….you know all of these are true, no exaggerations.

….you can listen to all your CD’s in one night.

….certain songs remind you of studio.

….Sister’s favorite brand names are Prada DNKY etc… But yours are Mastex, Staedtler, pentel, rotring.

….you dare not to have a gf/bf because no-one can accept you for what you are.

….you can conceptually compose the food on your plate.

….you think the ‘Weekender’ happens every weekend.

….upon hearing ‘Weekends’ you think of sleep.

….the ‘Shop Cafe’ closes when you arrive, and reopens before you leave studio.

….you have to wait for breakfast shops to open.

….you go to the food shop, and order the “usual”, and they understand.

….you use architecture tools to eat.

….you only buy groceries once a month.

….you wake up to go to school and you’re already there.

….you start wearing all black.

….you have no life, and admit it.

….you start to critique a radio selection’s selection of songs.

….you bring your friends to studio to keep you company.

….you refer to outside studio as the “Real World.”

….”going out to eat” is at the ‘Shop Cafe’.

….going on a vacation involves going to ‘Flax’ or ‘Pearl’.

….you confuse today and tomorrow.

….you tell time by when other people leave studio.

….you can write a 6-page term paper by procrastinating.

….you hear “Didn’t you wear that yesterday?’ followed by “and the day before that?”

….your roommate files a Missing Person Report.

….you count the number of days (not hours) you’ve been awake.

….you think days are 48 hours long.

….you go to the store to buy a six-pack of ‘Red Bull’

….”Homecoming” happens once a term.

….on Halloween, you dress like your instructors.

….on Halloween you trick-or-treat in studio to get arch supplies or ‘Red Bull.’

….”respect”, “coolness’, and “hatred” are all based on how much sleep you get, or lack of.

….you see your own picture on a milk carton.

….you start using words your instructor uses.

….your bed has collected a layer of dust on it.

….concept of time is not forward, but a countdown from the time a project is due

….you contemplate dropping your major 3 times a day.

….you have a tent pitched in studio, but still don’t go to sleep.

….doing models all night long excites you.

….you know the people in the studio better then your roommates.

….X-acto knives can be dangerous

… as we all know or will find out.

….Beer pyramids AND Red Bull pyramids are some of our late-night late projects.

….Elmer’s glue doesn’t dry quick — not even close.

….They know the phrase “Always done, never done” all too well and wish the professors would stop saying it

….They can always have more construction lines.

….They know the number and price of their favorite item in the snack machine downstairs, as well as every other item and all the drinks in the other two machines

….And if you have been drunk while in the studio working on a project, join the club.

….they believe they should be paid just for having the major

….you drink more in studio than you do when you’re out

….you have sent messages on aim to another jackass architecture student in the same room as you are

….you think “X-Acto Blade Throwing” is a sport.

….you have 3 or more ‘Mountain Dews’ in one night

….you spend more time in studio than with your wife.

….”scoring” involves an X-Acto blade

….you don’t find out who wins the Presidential Election until Thanksgiving Break, if you get one at all.

….a break consists of moving your car.

….you’ve memorized your favorite vending machine combination item

….you use your T-square or straight edge as a baseball bat.

…..the day has 2 sunrises.

…..you test which glue will cause your model to burn faster.

….you can’t draw without listening to music!

…. when people tell you that they like walking around with you because you see things know one else does.

…. when you don’t understand how someone doesn’t strategize their way through traffic

….when someone says “icon” and you think of Louis I. Kahn

…. When you’re not sure what day of the week it is

…. When you have slept straight through a day and into the next day after a final review

…. When lack of sleep makes you feel and act as if you are high

…. When any flat surface is seen as a place to take a nap

…. When the books that you read consist primarily of photographs and not so much of words

…. When you go to studio and spend more time socializing than doing work

…. When you have big enough balls to tell a critique that they are wrong

…. When everyone in studio hates you because you are the one who plays their music too loudly

…. When after playing your music too loudly the same people who hated you start to take interest in your music

…. When you have developed an addiction to buying new albums, because you have gotten sick of all your old ones

…. When trying to decide what album to play you find an album you haven’t listened to a while and it ends up being the perfect choice.

…. When professors for courses outside of the architecture school are lenient once they are aware you are an architecture student.

…. When you tell someone in another school that you are architecture major and they automatically assume you have no social life

…. When you have a non architect friend who wants to tag along to architecture parties because they know that architects have the best parties

…. When you are the only sober person standing outside of the hot truck on a Friday/ Saturday night

…. When you have a sign taped to your back that says do not disturb unless you are ordering food

…. You have given a final presentation with your fly open

…. You try to do things to make your friend laugh while he is presenting

In all honesty I’ve experienced 95% of these

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Filed under architecture, university