Women: Stronger Than You Think

Whoever categorized women as the ‘weaker sex‘ was definitely a moron. In this male-dominated society of ours, women are labeled as pretty half-brained individuals lacking the physical/mental prowess men (supposedly) demonstrate. Maybe men can run or swim faster, but women should be given full credit for what they are capable of. To me, strength is more than just the ability to life weights; it’s about endurance, perseverance and the ability to go on even in the toughest of times.

Not Just A Pretty Face

Having been surrounded by so many strong women all my life, I just needed to jot down my personal experiences, my observations of, and my interactions with these amazing individuals. From my grandmother who’s 85+ and going strong to my year-and-a-half-old daughter who’s getting naughtier by the minute, each and every one of these amazing ladies is a constant source of inspiration. The scenarios that I am listing below vary from culture to culture, but if you are a woman, you are sure to relate to some of them.

1. Women sacrifice a lot more than men

Women are more susceptible to giving up their dreams for the greater good than men. This act of utter selflessness makes me admire them more every day. It’s the female who sacrifices her passions for raising a family, gives up her dreams so that her children and/or her husband can realize theirs. Rarely have I ever heard about a husband moving to a different continent so that his wife can continue her education, but you see wives relocating, whether it’s for the husband’s education or his job, on a regular basis. The sad part is that it doesn’t end here; we keep on asking them to forswear everything that has the remotest possibility of keeping them happy until all there is left is an empty shell.

After the death of her mother, my grand-mother took care of her six sisters for many years until all of them were married off, all the while raising six daughters of her own. My grandmother passed on the same values to her daughters too. My father’s sudden death was a serious blow to our entire family and would have ripped us apart, if not for my mother, who kept us together, sacrificing her personal needs to fulfill ours. Whatever I am today, I owe it all to her.

I promised myself I won’t be a narrow-minded, self-absorbed, irresponsible imbecile once I grew up, so when it was time to decide between continuing a lucrative career abroad or living closer to my family, I decided to go for the latter. Often, people tell me how stupid I was to leave my last job; then again, I don’t expect them to understand my emotions, my feelings towards my mother and the rest of my family.

2. Women have a lot more endurance

Endurance is all about the ability to control yourself in extreme circumstances, i.e. scenarios you have absolutely no control over. A woman is better suited to deal with such situations compared to a man mainly  because it’s in her very nature to keep up with everything that is thrown her way. Whether she is banned from going to a co-ed college for fear of tarnishing her family honor or forced to live with a domestically violent man she was coerced into marrying, women endure a lot!

To make my point, let us take a look at the stark differences in our lifestyles. A man like me gets off the hook by working 8 hours a day and moaning about it the rest of the time, minus the 8 hours of beauty sleep we so covet. A woman with kids and work, on the other hand, is a force to be reckoned with. She has a 24×7 job with no vacations, no weekends, no breaks. Never have I ever seen someone multitask with such efficiency, a milk bottle in one hand, a dirty diaper in the other, a red pen in the corner of her mouth for marking her student’s exams, all the while talking on the (speaker)phone with the doctor about what the baby’s cough might signify.

To take things in a much literal context, take an everyday life scenario of endurance: pain. We’ve all experienced it, some more so than the others, but when it comes down to the battle of the sexes, studies confirm that females deal better with pain than men [1]. Having witnessed the miracle of birth twice (well, thrice, if you count Stephanie’s Birth), I have to say that delivering a baby is akin to passing a kidney stone the size of a golf-ball; bad analogy, but maybe you’ll get the idea.

3. Women are more adept at demonstrating their emotions

Two terms that you may rarely hear together are ‘men’ and ’emotional mess’; it’s an entirely different story if you substitute the term ‘men’ with ‘women’. Unlike popular belief, I think that the capability of demonstrating emotions is a character strength, and that you are comfortable enough to let your feelings out, positive or otherwise, to everyone [2].

In a society where phrases like ‘boys don’t cry’ and ‘you are a weak little girl’ prevail, we (men) are brought up with the notion that showing some of our feminine emotions is a sign of weakness. We are, however, really good at expressing rage, a trait that demonstrates male dominance and superiority. Being an intelligent species, we need to realize that there is no such thing as a ‘weak’ or a ‘strong’ emotion; the sum of our emotions is what defines our humanity. As parents, it is our duty to shatter these stereotypes, these misconceptions that infiltrate our society, as these not only have a direct impact on our mental health but also on our physical (blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, etc.) [3].

I don’t let an opportunity to teach go to waste so here’s my two bits: while being overly expressive or repressive are both detrimental to emotional health, we all need to find the right balance of emotional expressiveness for a healthier lifestyle.

4. Women can be a source of strength

The adage ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’ may not be applicable in all situations, as some people have very rich fathers/father-in-laws backing them, but in my case, it is as true as it gets. Men and women were created to support each other through life. Think of life as a front-wheel-drive vehicle, where women are always marked as the rear-wheels capable of doing nothing but going wherever the front-wheels (i.e. men) drag them. I, on the other hand, have a more symmetric approach to this problem, where men and women are the left and right sides of the car respectively (notice that I labeled women as the right side), each side giving the other a sense of direction and balance while moving towards a destination through mutual consent; it’s a guy thing and I couldn’t help myself from putting in a car reference.

Having said that, I have always found some of the best advice from women around me. My wife, for instance, is my best friend and knows my deepest secrets, my darkest fears, my purest passions, as well as my idiosyncrasies. Whenever I feel lost, she turns into my moral compass, steering me in the right direction. Whenever I’m shattered into a million pieces, and then some, she fixes me, one piece at a time. Whenever I’m crashing and burning, she puts out the fires. She’s the one whose shoulder I lean on, and I make sure she has mine when she needs it.

5. Women keep on going against the tide

We’ve all heard of ‘Eve teasing’, but have you ever heard of the term ‘Adam teasing’? It’s because there is no such thing, except maybe in highly progressive societies. The use of the word ‘Eve’ in the aforementioned phrase signifies the ‘temptress’ nature attributed to females, rendering the term derogatory. Apparently, it is the woman’s fault that she is harassed, their male perpetrators just innocent victims of the woman’s sorcery [4].

In our culture, women have to suffer all their lives with harassment and gender discrimination, turning life into a constant battle. Whether it is boys hooting/whistling at a bus full of college girls, or men making snide innuendos in the presence of female co-workers, this great injustice and violation of basic human rights is prevalent everywhere.

I salute all those brave women who don’t hesitate to slap a man across the face trying to grope them in the bus or in the bazaar, and deliver a tongue-lashing/diatribe that he is sure to remember as long as he lives. Take off your sandals and hit him hard, sister (its even better if you’re wearing stilettos)!

Break Free From The Chains

Suicide rate is, or at least I think it is, one of the socioeconomic indicators that may reflect on the strength of character demonstrated by people in the face of helplessness. So on a whim, I googled for suicide rates by gender: hips may lie, but statistics don’t. According to the World Demographics, there are currently 1.01 males to every female in existence (roughly 50-50), yet the difference in suicide rates is drastic [5]. In support of my argument, the World Health Organization conducted a survey that suggests women having far less suicidal tendencies compared to men [6][7]. I rest my case.

Life in a man’s world can be challenging, to say the least. Seeing how some men treat women can be downright annoying and at times, I feel like we are still living in the pre-Islamic era when females were buried at birth. Haven’t we progressed enough as a society to give women the respect and recognition they deserve? Islam teaches us the lesson of equality, and that in God’s eyes, we shall be tested on the strength of our faith rather than our gender [8][9].

Naturally, this article is an homage to all the strong women in my life; my dear mother, my loving wife, my adorably head-strong daughter, my sweet sister-in-law, and my obstinate best friend (please take this as a compliment). You make my world brighter!


[1] Chandwani, Silky (2011); Women deal with Pain better than Men; read online here
[2] Thompson Jr., D. (2010); Gender Differences in Emotional Health; read online here
[3] Lee, C & Glynn Owens, R (2002); The Psychology of Men’s Health; Open University Press
[4] Wikipedia (2012); Eve Teasing; read online here
[5] Wikipedia (2012); Demographics of the World; read online here
[6] World Health Organization (2012); Suicide Statistics and Graphs; read online here
[7] Wikipedia (2012); List of Countries by Suicide Rate; read online here
[8] Al-Qura’an; Surah-al-Ahzaab Ayat 35; read online here
[9] Al-Qura’an; Surah-at-Taubah Ayat 71; read online here


Spicin’ It Up This Eid

Eid-ul-Fitr, the first of two annual Muslim festivals, is a time to appreciate, share (with those less fortunate) and be thankful for what Allah has bestowed upon us. It marks the beginning of the month of Shawwal, the tenth month in the Muslim calendar, with Ramadan (the month of fasting) as its immediate predecessor. The months in the Muslim calendar are based on the appearance of the new moon, so the lunar month can either be 29 or 30 days and is mostly unpredictable until the eve of the 29th day. It’s this suspense, this element of surprise that makes this Eid extra special for me.

‘Mubarak ho. Chand ho Ggya. Ammi kal Eid hai. Yayyyyy!’

English: Congratulations. The moon has been sighted. Mom, it’s Eid tomorrow. Yayyyyy!

Eagerly awaited by adults and children alike, this Eid is also dubbed as the ‘Meethi Eid‘ (or ‘Sweet Eid’) as it is a sunnah (i.e. practice) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to start your Eid day by eating something sweet, like dates. For me, Eid is waking up to enticing aromas wafting from the kitchen, my mom deep-frying her amazing samosas and puris (deep-fried flat bread) to be served with the Sheer-Khurma (a milk-based sweet dish). That is pretty much all the sweet I can take on Eid day and I just hate being forced to eat desserts when I venture out to meet friends and family; savaiyaan (vermicelli), cakes, cookies, kheer (rice pudding), candies and mithai (sweet meats) are just some of the infamous items on this long list.

What I crave though is something spicy, something savory, that is fulfilling without being too overpowering. As a result, we make sure that the mehmaans (guests) who come to visit the Bawany household aren’t bombarded with sweets; instead, we serve them a platter of mouth-watering treats (appetizers, if you may) that are a refreshing change from all the ‘sweet madness’ in the air. Here are two cheesy recipes that will spice things up a bit and will leave your guests wanting more.

Cheese Balls

These mouthwatering treats are fun to look at and taste amazing. Don’t let the potato-ish texture of these balls fool you as these are perfectly round bread balls with a cheesy chicken filling that just melts in your mouth. Let me dive straight into the recipe without getting too much drool on my keyboard. This recipe makes about 30 to 35 cheese balls.


  • 1 chicken breast (make 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4-5 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp green chilies (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp ajino-moto (a.k.a. MSG or Chinese salt)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 30-35 slices of large-sized bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying


  1. Take a pan, add water, chicken, black pepper, chilies, ginger paste, garlic paste, ajino-moto and salt, and put it on medium heat till the chicken is well-done and all the water dries out.
  2. Once the chicken mixture has cooled down, shred it with your hands.
  3. Add in both the mozzarella cheese and the cheddar cheese to the chicken and mix well.
  4. Take a slice of bread and place about a teaspoon of the chicken filling in the center.
  5. Apply a little water on all the edges of the bread slice and fold all four corners of the bread towards the center.
  6. Form the filled bread into a ball while applying pressure on it with both hands.
  7. Take a bowl and beat the eggs in it.
  8. Dip the cheese ball into the egg for about 3 seconds and roll it into the bread crumbs.
  9. Once all the balls are made, deep-fry in oil on low-medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the outside is nice and golden.
  10. Serve immediately with a side of ketchup, green chutney or nacho cheese sauce.

Smoked Rolls

Smoked rolls are the result of one of my wife’s culinary experiments so I can’t really take credit for this. The recipe itself is deceptively simple, but yields a wonderfully crispy cheese-based concoction with a rich smoky flavor; once you pop, you can’t stop (sorry Pringles). The quantities below will yield about 60-70 rolls.


  • I chicken breast (make 1-inch cubes)
  • 4-5 tbsp chicken tikka masala (I know its a cop-out but I had no time to deconstruct this)
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 60-70 samosa pastry sheets (filo pastry works too)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Oil for frying


  1. Take a pan, add chicken, chicken tikka masala, yogurt, and garlic paste, put it on low-medium heat till the chicken is well-done and all the water from the yogurt dries out.
  2. Once the chicken has cooled down, mince it and add in the grated cheddar cheese.
  3. In a separate pan, take water and all-purpose flour, and mix it evenly on a slow flame until it turns into a thick smooth paste; add more flour if necessary.
  4. Take one rectangular samosa pastry sheet and lay it down vertically in front of you.
  5. Take about a half teaspoon of the chicken filling and spread it in a thin line across the top edge (see image below).
  6. Roll down the pastry sheet firmly all the way to the end and firmly seal the other edge using the flour paste.
  7. Once all the rolls are made, deep-fry in oil on low-medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the outside is crisp and golden.
  8. Serve immediately with a side of ketchup, green chutney or nacho cheese sauce.

As I mentioned earlier, Eid-ul-Fitr is all about sharing with those who cannot afford even the basic necessities of life. Please remember them when you wear new clothes or give your alms, and don’t forget to pray for me once your platters are licked clean.

Eid Mubarak to everyone!

Blast From The Past – Shah Shams Tabrez, Multan

Shah Shams Tabrez is one of the thousands of saints buried in Multan, Pakistan. There are quite a few legends and/or miracles associated with him, the most popular being him requesting the sun to come down and roast a raw fish he held in his palms. To this day, many natives relate the insanely temperate summers in Multan with this legend, but only God knows better.

His shrine was built around 1330 AD by his grandson and renovated around 1710 AD. Keeping in tradition with the exquisite Islamic architecture prevalent in that era, his shrine has a very distinct style. The use of color glazed tiles all over the dome and the exterior is note-worthy and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately when I went there though, the inside of the mausoleum was under construction and I couldn’t take any shots of the interior. Here are some photos I did manage to take and I hope you like them.

Blast From The Past – Bahauddin Zakaria, Multan

Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria is perhaps the most famous saint in all of Multan. He is the grandfather of the famous Shah Rukn-e-Alam and they are both buried just a couple of hundred meters from each other. The shrine is designed as a perfect square, and holds around 50+ graves of the Hazrat’s descendants. Even though his shrine is not as spectacularly designed as his grandson’s, it is a sight to behold. The exquisite blue tile-work is mesmerizing and I couldn’t help myself from staring at it for a long time.

As with Shah Rukn-e-Alam’s shrine, people paying homage to the great Hazrat believe that he is capable of hearing and answering their prayers, even after death. Be it the tying of empty plastic bags on the shrine’s grills or the burning of diyas (small oil lanterns made of clay) and rubbing their oil on one’s face or feeding the pigeons, there are several ways (supposedly) to get the Hazrat’s attention. Then again, I do not believe in any of this, but Allah knows better. I was astonished to see brides and grooms visiting the shrine for the Hazrat’s blessing before embarking on their new journey together, as well as barefooted people walking to the Hazrat’s Darbar (another word for shrine) as a sign of their devotion and respect; seems like taking things a bit to far. I even heard one of my local colleagues claiming that people going for the holy pilgrimage to Makkah (hajj and umrah) come to the darbar before actually leaving on their journey; WOW!

Here are some glimpses of the mausoleum for your viewing pleasure.

Blast From The Past – Shah Rukn-e-Alam, Multan

Shah Rukn-e-Alam (translating to ‘pillar of the world‘) is a famous Sufi Saint buried within in the Multan Fort. The 700-year-old building, which serves as his shrine, is a phenomenal piece of Islamic architecture. It never ceases to amaze me how these artisans, these architects of the past were able to put in such precise details into their buildings. From the intricate tiling to the exquisite woodwork, this shrine is a must-see attraction when visiting Multan.

Some people believe that saints like the Shah are still around (even after being dead for so long) and have the power to grant them their wishes. You can see people bringing in rose petals in plastic bags to put onto the Shah’s grave as an offering. The empty bags are then tied onto a tree in the yard along with a wish to be fulfilled (think of it as a wishing well of sorts). Similarly, people offer bajra seeds (a.k.a. pearl millet) to the thousands of pigeons all over the mausoleum, so as to please the Shah and get his blessings in return.

Even though I may not agree with this belief system, I have to agree that there is a certain degree of serenity surrounding the shrine. It was almost sunset when I first visited the shrine, but I couldn’t help myself from going back there early next day. Here are some photos of the place and I hope you enjoy seeing them as much as I did taking them.