Monthly Archives: November 2014

10 signs you’re married to an Asian woman

Intercultural marriages are a real eye-opener. It takes longer to find common ground, your comfort foods are not the same and you both have weird cultural habits. The first time I served my husband halva puri with mango pickle for breakfast and he didn’t like it, I was horrified. Who doesn’t like halva puri? It’s the breakfast of kings! Likewise he can’t understand why I don’t like smothering all my food in lemon juice and accompanying all my meals with a chunk of feta.

The best thing is to find a middle road and muddle along it. But a helping hand is always appreciated. First, a disclaimer. The Asian I refer to means South Asian – Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan etc. I know some parts of the world use the term for other nationalities.

Here are 10 things you need to know about your Asian wife:

1) The black stuff

Asian women love this look:

Smokey eyes

As a result,you’ll find this everywhere, all over all your bathroom surfaces.

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What is it? That’s kohl powder, and it’s the one beauty product your Asian wife would take with her on a desert island.

2) Hair oil

Women all over the world went ballistic when various beauty companies released this rubbish:

Don’t make me laugh.

That’s hair oil, and we’re not impressed. Your wife’s hair oil collection probably looks more like this:

That’ll contain olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, argan oil, various types of brand oils like Vatika and Dabur and whatever else she felt like concocting. Each oil has a separate function. When she’d mad at you she’ll use this:

I’m mad at you so I created a chemical barrier between us.

3) Nice kitchen bro, did you budget for tin foil?

Spent a bomb on a lovely new kitchen? Great! Once your Asian wife gets her hands on it, she’ll turn it from this:

How do you keep that clean?

Into this:

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You’re welcome, beta.

*I set this up to take this picture, though I did used to do this until my husband won out and stopped me. I’m going to leave it looking like this until my husband comes home just to see his look of shock and horror.

4) Fancy toiletries

Watching your wife mix and create lotions and potions from sandalwood powder, white clay, rosewater, tumeric and chickpea flower (really!) you’d think we all come born with degrees in chemistry. Why do you think so many of us are pharmacists.

Kiss goodbye to this:

Nice.

Say hello to this:

Radiant towels, radiant sink, radiant bath tub. Radiant EVERYTHING!

5) Copper pans and fancy cookware? Forget it.

Do you own a set of these?

Oh la la!

Your Asian wife will probably promptly replace them with these:

Balle balle!

6) Spice collection

When I first moved in with my husband, his spice collection could be counted on one hand. This was still impressive for the average Greek household that cooks with salt, pepper and oregano.

Now our spice collection looks like this:

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Even I was a bit surprised when I saw it all together like this. Your Asian wife doesn’t have a spice rack. She has a spice cupboard.

7) Rice wars

The first thing your Asian wife will do when she moves in is throw out any rice that isn’t basmati. There is no other rice in the world except for basmati. Don’t fight it.

8) Cooking for non-natives

What to her is this:

“It’s just a little spicy!”

To you is this:

“Aaaaarrghhh!!”

The slow destruction of taste buds with atomic levels of spice is something that takes years to master. You’ll get used to it over time.

9) The body beautiful

You didn’t think your Asian wife just fell out of the sky with that baby soft skin, did you? Body hair removal is a constant process in the Asian woman’s life, one that takes up hours of time and conversation. Finding the perfect wax sends her into fits of excitement. No matter how much we try, we’re rarely on top of it. To fight this battle, your wife’s wax collection looks like this:

10) Time for a cup of tea

Your Asian wife can cure nearly any trouble with a cup of tea. This will go:

In it’s place will come this:

Tip: if she’s mad at you, make her a cup of tea. She’ll get over it faster.

Overall, marrying someone outside your culture is a steep learning curve. Tackle it with a sense of humour.

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Pakistan’s Hopeless Record of Protecting Minorities

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It’s a photograph that could be found on the wall or mantlepiece of any poor Pakistani household. The couple stand rigid, staring at the camera, dressed in their best clothes. Photographs are an expensive luxury for the poor of Pakistan, so they have invested in their appearance for this one snapshot. They are young. The woman in pink, her hair carefully brushed and wearing a pink beaded jewellery set, holds on to the arm of the man in a light grey striped kurta.

They stare at the camera, unsmiling. Smiling in photographs is considered undignified, and this photo is tellingly aspirational. It speaks of a life they would rather be living, a dignified life, one where they have time to take photographs in their best clothes with a lake of swans behind them. The superimposed background could be anywhere, Switzerland, or maybe Austria. What it isn’t is their grim reality, the daily grind of bonded labour at a Pakistani brick kiln. They will never see that swan lake, because they are too poor. They will never see it, because on November 4, 2014, the couple were murdered.

What I’ve not told you up until now is the real crime of these two people. They were Christian, and they were in bonded labour, which they tried to question. Pakistan has a terrible track record when it comes to minority rights and incidents like these are not uncommon. At the start of the first Gulf War, an American nun who was the headteacher at my local school in Bahawalpur was gunned down.

Years later in 2001, gunmen broke into the school’s church and opened fire. Thousands of miles away, I watched the news reports in complete shock. There was the aisle I had walked down as a bridesmaid. There were the church grounds I had played in. It was the country’s first massacre of the Christian community.

The reason this particular case has made global headlines is because it was so inhumane, so barbaric, that it defies belief.

In the early hours of November 4, after an announcement by the local religious leaders that the couple had desecrated a copy of the Quran, around 1,000 villagers in Kot Radha Kishan descended on the couple’s house and tore through the thatched roof to get to the terrified couple. According to the family of the couple, the order came from the owner of the brick kiln.

They were dragged from their house. Shama Masih, whose name means ‘light’, was thrown into a frenzy of utter darkness, utter hopelessness. She was already a mother to four children, and awaiting the birth of another child. This didn’t matter to the crowd that set upon them.

On unfounded accusations of blasphemy, the couple were set upon with such barbaric intensity, that a friend of mine Fe’ereeha Idris, who reported the story and has seen a lot in her career, broke down in tears along with her crew when they heard the details.

They were beaten, held over an open kiln until they caught fire and then thrown into the kiln. All that’s left of them are some bones and ash. The police watched as it all happened. No one intervened. I should probably say the police ‘allegedly’ watched, but if I know the reputation of the Pakistani police force, it’s more likely that they did in fact do absolutely nothing about it.

In Kot Radha Kishan, the streets are now quiet. The men of the village have fled, leaving the women and children behind. They had the courage to defy God’s own law by taking another life in the most cowardly way, but they don’t have the courage to face the aftermath of what they have done.

No one came to the aid of Shama and Shahzad Masih. Their family continue to shed tears and try to comfort the four children left behind. If I know how these things play out in Pakistan, nothing will come of this. The Chief Minister of Punjab made a hollow gesture and visited the village where the incident took place. The people will not be caught, they will not be punished.

A society that cannot protect its most vulnerable citizens is a society that should be ashamed of itself. Pakistan should be ashamed, and as a Pakistani, I am ashamed. People took to the streets, they protested, I wrote a blog post, and then? We’ll all forget about this story and carry on, until it happens again.

I didn’t want to write this blog post. My stomach turned as I read the details of the incident. But I can’t get their image out of my head. I see them again and again standing in front of that beautiful swan lake, hoping for a better life. That’s why I decided to write this story. I want you to remember their names, Shama and Shahzad Masih. They deserved so much better than what life dealt them. I know it probably won’t make a difference, but I hope mine will be one more voice of outrage. Maybe, for once in their shambolic history, the government of Pakistan will do the right thing.

The report, in Urdu, by Fe’ereeha Idris is given below.

http://tune.pk/player/embed_player.php?vid=4981608&folder=2014/11/11/&width=650&height=350&autoplay=

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