بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمAssalamu Alaikum,.Ever since Ramadan ended, life appears to be so… different. I feel like I have been observing life more rather than being part of it (for a temporary time). Today there was a before school festival event and I was part of participating and helping out at the event. It was a couple of hours long and I realized I was running late to pray one of my prayers. Back in Ramadan, I was on top of my prayers and had a very conscious “internal clock” on when to pray. Post Ramadan and I had to check my watch to realize I was running late. I am beginning to get out of touch with myself.

In Ramadan, I made multiple goals that I want to keep pursuing even after Ramadan. Prayer is one of them. And I realized in the middle of the event that I have to actively pursue my goals if I really want to achieve them. If I want to come to know and befriend God, I must also run to Him. Not just God coming to me. As a wise person once told me, “God does not turn His back to us. We turn our backs to him.” (Almost verbatim)

Another goal I have is to work on my relationships with others. It isn’t even an issue of being liked or seen in a positive manner. I want to be good with others without expectation of something in return. Today I saw a lot of peers at the event and I realized the road ahead of me is long and steep to work on my relationships. There were couple people who looked at me with steely eyes and maybe for the rest of my life, they will look at me the same way, but I hope to be a better person by the end of my life.

I suppose this post is a reminder to you (and myself) that life is hard. Life will humble you. Life will teach you both gently and harshly. Life will test you, but it is good. If we want to have better health, we have to train our bodies. If we want to have a better soul, we have to train our whole selves. It may hurt, but in time, we will be shaped into better human beings.

Don’t try to necessarily live an “easy” life. Live a noble life.


An interesting week this with two people I enjoy following on Twitter being at war with each other on a popular social networking site and beyond. It all started when Modi’s following on Twitter crossed the all-important million-mark and he thanked his followers for the love and appreciation. Tharoor like a provoked panther whose nose had been gently rubbed with a generous dose of pepper sarcastically sneezed in his ever so articulate fashion, “ Alas, most followers aren’t fans!” Now, maybe Mr. Tharoor has a point, but there is no guarantee that all of Tharoor’s 1.5 million followers are fans too. Was this Mr. Tharoor turning green, for now there is another politician in the ‘million’ club? A worthy competition in cyber world perhaps that irks Tharoor no end? Frankly, besides Modi and Tharoor, I see no other politician who can amass popular support on social networking forums. The rest are far too boring or far too corrupt for most to be wasting time over, with love or hate alike.

Tharoor hits back at Modi, tweets wife Sunanda is 'priceless’
Shashi Tharoor described his wife, Sunanda Pushkar as “priceless”, reacting to Narendra Modi’s barbs at her.
And then the war of words continued between these two men. It was time to hit each other in the most sensitive of areas, below the belt danger zones. Mr. Modi chose to tread on precarious territory in retaliation to Tharoor’s tweet and to his resurgence post the Union cabinet reshuffle. Modi quantified Tharoor’s love for his lady with a ‘figure’. The charming Tharoor, with his impish grin and boyish waves of salt and pepper bristles and with his ‘Stephanian’ aura brandished his steely sword below Modi’s belt. The Union Minister roared, his wife is “priceless”, but the Gujarat chief minister needs to be able to love someone to understand that he exclaimed. Tharoor also said his wife was worth a lot more than Modi’s imaginary Rs 50 crore”. Ouch. Tharoor and Modi are now in a catalytic areas, ones that have caused the great Trojan war, the war at Kurukshetra and the destruction of Lanka. The impetus of love, the test of loyalty and honor have made many men wear fists of fury. The same men who would move mountains and the heavens for their love would think not twice to raze those who ridicule and scorn their lady.

Fine, I understand Modi’s irritation, I understand Tharoor’s fury, I understand their choice of words too, albeit both being in extremely bad taste. But, what I fail to understand, is when somebody like Khurshid beats his chest like King Kong and shouts from the mountain top in a voice that can split the trembling oceans below that he can die for Sonia Gandhi, I am extremely bewildered. What kind of a role is Khurshid playing here?  Is he playing the Salman of “ Maine pyar kiya” and sending his love messages tied to tender pigeon’s claws? Or is he playing a bogus Benhur and would not mind being pulled apart by horses veering off in opposite directions? Whatever act he is indulging in, the pigeon has surely carried the message to 10, Janpath. If the Law Minister of our country can stake his life for the Chairperson of his party in such a theatrical fashion, then there is no surprise why such Law Ministers get promoted to Foreign Affairs after ‘alleged’ robbery of wheelchairs and hearing devices.

Holistically speaking, neither should Modi have ridiculed Tharoor’s love nor should Tharoor have taken a dig at Modi’s singularity nor should have Salman been stealing from the specially abled. But, we are far removed from such holistic environments. Politicians by and large (with extremely few and rare exceptions) are the most thick-skinned of all breeds, a shameless lot. They would put a crocodile to shame with their tears, they can make a rose wilt with their fake sensitivity and make legendry thespians like Dilip Kumar appear quite mediocre.  Loyalty, love, faithfulness have no permanent place in their lives. Everybody swims with the current, nobody dares to oppose, it would be perilous for them to do so. Love affairs, treachery, deception and drama in Indian politics are not new. Our Politicians being public figures cannot expect their personal lives not to be dragged into an open arena. If they do, then they better learn to live with disappointments, just like the way we have, when promises in plenty made by our Politicians have not been kept. Its time for us to change.

They need to be slapped for their lethargy, corrupt practices and treachery to the public, just like the way

Friday 12th October, onlookers in the Wisma Bapa Malaysia in Kuching were treated to an astonishing scene.

The elderly Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud and his very young wife Ragad indulged in a public row in the foyer of his office building.

Ragad had apparently turned up at the building and demanded to see her husband, for whom she waited until he came downstairs. As one person reported:

“after words were exchanged, the poor old man was subjected to a violent assault as his retiring bride kicked him in the shins in public!”

The couple then departed, in separate cars.

This is not the first sign that Sarawak’s ‘First Couple’ are enjoying a far from perfect union.  On another recent occasion where Ragad again resorted to violence, she threw Taib’s briefcase at him in front of his assembled household.

Of course, Taib is no stranger to violence himself.  Shortly after the marriage back in December 2010 he terrified people around him by picking up his golden gun and shooting it into the air in frustration after Ragad had apparently disappeared without saying where.

If that is how they act in public…..

Who did they think they were kidding?

Dangerous situation?

Of course, none of this has been reported in the licensed media in Sarawak or such licences would be removed. But the situation is, needless to say, the talk of inner circles and the source of much amusement in Kuching.

It was, of course, perfectly obvious to everyone what the hasty marriage, which took place just weeks before the State Election, was all about in the first place.

From the old man’s point of view it was an attempt to set himself up with a more youthful, virile image when, after 50 years of politics and with several serious health issues to deal with, everyone could see that it was time for a gracious retirement.

Even the PM flew over and got the old guy to promise in public he would soon give up office. It is a promise that of course he has chosen to immediately forget.

From Ragad’s point of view, well why does a 29 year old marry a very, very, very rich man more than double her age, whom she barely knows and who has had bowel cancer?

The marriage had been fixed by Ragad’s uncle Robert Geneid, clearly in a considerable hurry, at a time when Geneid and his wife, Taib’s sister Raziah, were very much in favour and said to have a controlling hand over the ailing Chief Minister.

In this relationship it is clear to see who has the physical advantage.

However, it seems that both Taib and Geneid may have miscalculated with Ragad.  After all she was 29, not 19, at the time of the wedding and she had had a very cosmopolitan life, working as an air hostess round the world.  What everyone apparently neglected to also mention to Taib, until after he had married her, was that she was a widow with two fair-sized children of her own!

And, indeed, Ragad has turned out to be far from the meek and retiring stage prop that the old autocrat was clearly looking for. To the contrary she is a tough cookie and she is out to get.

The bossy old dictator, who is used to everyone bowing and scraping and whose two sons have both been caught up in accusations over beating up women, has also found himself outsized. Strapping Ragad dwarfs the diminished and frail septuagenarian and it is plain that, if he ever did try to take a swipe, who would be likely to come the better of it!

Does anyone feel sorry for Taib? Feel free to comment.



One might consider that Taib has ended up with what he deserved.

After all, for the most part Ragad has fulfilled her side of the bargain and does a good line in adoring looks.  The press has gone so far as to report on the embarrassing displays of public devotion that the couple clearly still put on for on-lookers from time to time.

Taib is apparently given to putting food into Ragad’s well-proportioned mouth at dinner parties and she turns up for photographs always done up to the nines, draped in jewels and never in the same very expensive couture twice.

However, you can only put on a show for so long when you have got married for all the wrong reasons. Taib said to be finding it a strain to have children running around the house, but neither is he very keen to have them seen in public.  Some are saying that Ragad feels her family is trapped.  There are also rows about the Lebanese in-laws, whom Ragad has been bringing into Demak Jaya in large numbers, which is clearly comforting for herself but tiresome for an old man used to being in command of his space.

All this might seem other people’s personal problems. However, when it comes to this very grasping and all powerful family, the people of Sarawak are right to be anxious about such dysfunctionalities.

Those who have scrapped over the years to get control of Taib’s favours have always had only one objective in common, which is self-enrichment.  Ragad came with nothing to Sarawak and she is clearly getting used to the ‘good life’ very fast indeed.

No longer the power behind the throne? Sister Raziah (circled) may no longer feel so comfortable about the marriage she and her husband arranged for Taib

Like her uncle and aunt Raziah before her, who made their fortunes by grabbing NCR lands and contracts controlled by Taib’s offices, Ragad is now showing signs of trying to get involved in the decisions of state which produce such benefits herself. The purpose is clearly to get herself as independently wealthy as she can before her husband dies and she plainly reckons she has a lot of catching up to do.

The insider information is that Ragad has indeed started trying to exert her power over the contracts Taib hands out – contracts which of course should be managed transparently with open tenders, but which under Taib’s rotten system of government are not.

The insider information is also that this muscling-in has caused a number of new ructions and frictions within the greedy Taib family.  Raziah and Robert are now finding themselves being edged out of the inner circle, not only by an ungrateful Ragad, but by Taib’s daughter Hannifah, who is also said to loathe Raziah, but to equally be uncomfortable and suspicious of her step-mother, so many years younger than herself.

Playing her part, but what is she really after?

Happy families? The rest of us can console ourselves that greed and the pursuit of wealth never brings happiness. Ragad’s sharp, public kick has clearly everything to do with the frustrations resulting from two years of marriage to a very elderly spouse and nothing to do with happiness.

However, the implications of yet more aggressive greed at the very heart of Taib’s autocratic system are serious also for the happiness of many people in Sarawak.

This family should be got rid of and proper professional government should be returned to benefit the people and not greedy opportunists from Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

Tharoor’s wife slapped a Congress worker at Thiruvananthapuram airport for inappropriate behavior yesterday.

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind

And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind” – A Midsummer’s night dream

Shashi Tharoor has hit the headlines again in a witty putdown of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s tasteless barbs against his wife. Tweeting a riposte to Modi’s comment, Tharoor, the new minister of state for human resource development (HRD), described his wife,Sunanda Pushkar as “priceless”, adding Modi would only understand this if he loved someone.

Campaigning in Himachal Pradesh, Modi attacked Tharoor accusing his wife of being a former “Rs 50-crore girlfriend” after Tharoor returned to the council of ministers. “Wah kya girlfriend hai. Apne kabhi dekha hai 50 crore ka girlfriend?” (What a girlfriend? Have you ever seen a 50-crore girlfriend), Modi had said.

“There was a Congress leader who was a minister. He was accused of amassing wealth from cricket. He had said in Parliament that he is not connected to the Rs 50 crore in the lady’s name,” the Gujarat CM said, without referring to Tharoor by name. In 2010, Tharoor had to resign as minister of state for external affairs after he was caught in an IPL controversy and also questioned Sunanda’s financial probity and unaccounted money changing hands.

Modi added, “… And then girlfriend becomes wife, we learn some time later…the issues are still not settled and he (Tharoor) is now made a minister.”

In his retort, Tharoor said, “My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crores. She is priceless. But you need2be able2love some1 2understand that,” Tharoor tweeted. For good measure, he even repeated the same lines on TV channels.

Tharoor received instant support from fellow MoS and Congress leader R P N Singh and CPM’s Brinda Karat. “You can understand the type of people who point fingers and make derogatory remarks about women… Their speech speaks stronger than their act. I condemn the remark. To make such a comment on any woman is against the ethos of Indian culture. Modi is possibly feeling the heat of Gujarat polls,” Singh, minister of state for home, said.

Karat told news agencies, “Only a sick and perverted mind representing anti-women RSS ideology will make such a statement. He is a blot on this country.”

Describing Modi’s verbal barbs as “silly”, Tharoor said, “We will have to see whether he (Modi) is capable of understanding that.” The four wealthiest grand dames of Indian politics have taken very serious exception to Narendra Modi’s comment on Sunanda Tharoor, sources told Mocktale on Tuesday. Modi had singled out Sunanda Tharoor as a “Rs-50-crore girlfriend” two days ago, infuriating the Twitterati who rued Modi’s “bad taste”. Even more furious were India’s four grand ladies, who, while rustling along in their respective silk saris/kurtas, solitaires gleaming in their ears and rubies blazing red around their necks, condemned the fact that they were willfully ignored by Modi despite carrying much, much higher price tags. The foursome alleged political sidelining on Modi’s part and said they would not take this kind of discrimination lying down.

“This is intoler-r-r-rable,” said Lady Lasagne, with a scowl that once launched a thousand poll rivals. “Most unfair-r-r. Am worth a gazillion lire and my rivals at least know what I’m worth, as much as those who’ve fallen out of my favour. Modi himself estimated my travel bills at Rs 1880 crore, and now Shashi’s wife takes the cake with a mere Rs 50 crore tag?” she rued, picking up her cell phone which continued to whirr noiselessly. The call was from Behn Maya-watan, the big sister from fantasy country. “Hi, Maya-watan,” she said, “What’s up?” with a heavyaccent that made “What’s up” sound remarkably similar to “Pizza”. A meaty concoction of lasagne was her all-time favourite, though.

The ire in Maya’s voice made her forget about food, though. “What is this?” said Maya-watan, who was irked that her “official” assets of Rs 112 crore had been neglected by Modi. “If I can send an empty jet to fetch my sandals, I can send a fleet of drones to wipe off a man who dares devalue me in the open political market,” she said, showing off her knowledge of political markets and deals in which she called herself an expert. For once, Maya-watan and Lady Lasagne seemed united in their ire at being undervalued, the impending CBI probe against Maya-watan notwithstanding, thanks to Modi’s insensitive jest. This was no mean feat – “Dost bhi na kar paye dushman ne jo kaam kiya hai,” sang the happy lady.

No sooner did she put down her little cell phone than it rang again. This time, it was Jaya-lullaby from the prosperous expanses of the rich state of Tamil Nadu. The stately lady, charming in her gait and stature, could hardly control herself. “Why-aiyyo” she said, “did Modi forget my commercial assets worth crores, besides my 750 pairs of shoes and 10000 saris,” wailed she. She was visibly upset, er…audibly upset, thought Lady Lasagne. The ladies were united in grief.

They were already in conference, planning it out like the three witches in Macbeth when the fourth lady barged into the conference call. “Hi, humein bhool na jaana,” boomed their friend from Bihar. Yes indeed it was Rub-dry Devi, who rubbed in her point by saying Modi had been partial and sexist in his approach by not crediting her with the Rs 950 crore fodder scam proceeds. “If what is Shashi’s can belong to Sunanda,” she complained, “why can’t Laal-ooze money be rightfully mine? Main angrezi nahin jaanti, par main insaan to hoon,” she said, in her last-ditch humanitarian appeal.

And The Book of Revelry said: Four women shall rise, like pillars from the four corners of India, and shall bash and banish the Man of a Thousand Fancy Headgears who refused to try the Fez. Fini.

There’s an elephant in the living room, and she’s getting impatient. While many politicians stand ready to support the stabilizing impact and economic importance of gender equality overseas; too often those same politicians turn their backs on gender equality policies here at home. In the last debate, for example, which centered on foreign policy, Governor Romney had no qualms saying that pushing forward “gender equality” is one of the top four ways that the U.S. can help push back terrorism in other countries.

Yet here in the U.S., Governor Romney stands stunningly silent on domestic gender equality policies. In fact, despite being asked numerous times — including directly in theTown Hall Debate – Governor Romney still hasn’t answered where he stands on key women’s gender equality policies like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Therein stands the elephant in our national living room.

It’s not as if the U.S. is leading the world in terms of gender equality, and we don’t have any work left to do here at home. The U.S. ranks a low 22nd among nations, according to the 2012 Global Gender Gap Index, which measures the gap between men and women in four categories: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.

We have lots more work to do.

Women’s wages in the U.S. are stuck at 77 cents to a man’s dollar for full-time year round work, with mothers and women of color experiencing a gap that’s larger still. The U.S. ranks a low 80th of all nations in terms of women’s representation in our national legislature. Only four percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. The U.S. lags behind more than 150 other nations on paid family leave and earned sick days policies, both of which are critical to the economic security of women and their families.

Even those sobering reminders of our nation’s failure to promote women’s equality may not be the most disturbing part of the public discourse for women in this election. More appalling is that prominent, mainstream candidates for high-level office seem to hold dangerously archaic views on rape, which is one of the most basic health and safety issues for women — and for gender equality. Protection from rape, and the ramifications of rape, is at the core of what’s needed for true gender equality. Any policy that stands in the way of that basic protection stands in the way of girls and women. It’s that simple.

But some politicians don’t seem to understand the connection between rape and gender equality in America. Take the recent appalling statements by leaders like Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, Iowa Rep. Steve King, and Missouri Rep. Todd Akin — who dismissed the impacts of rape, suggested there’s such a thing as “legitimate” rape, and ignored basic biology facts to say, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock recently piled on the victim-blaming relating to rape, saying: “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.” Governor Romney maintains his endorsementof Mourdock even after this recent statement — and, as on the fair pay issue, Governor Romney remained silent.

The irony is that this type of backsliding on basic gender issues is happening at home at a time when there’s a huge body of evidence from around the globe showing that gender equality policies ranging from investing in continuing education for girls, to pregnancy and sexual violence prevention and to job availability and non-discrimination help stabilize nations and strengthen economies.

We know, for instance, that combating adolescent motherhood would save India $383 billion annually; and that if young Nigerian women had the same employment rates as young men, that country would add $13.9 billion to its economy each year.

But here in the U.S., too often it’s “duck and cover” on using this type of calculus. It’s like there’s an invisible force field around implementing gender equality policies in our own nation even as we voice support for them outside our borders. That’s a shame because that short sightedness costs men, women, families and our economy alike.

Of course, not all politicians, or all candidates, are against gender equality policies here at home. President Obama, for one, has come out strongly supporting such policies as the Paycheck Fairness Act, and has also stated his consternation at this backward trend that some politicians are leaning toward: “… These attempts to re-define rape in some way make no sense to me, and I don’t think they make sense to the vast majority of women across the country.”

Now through November 6th, it’s important to vote for the candidates who will advance gender equality both inside and outside our nation’s borders.

Let’s not ignore the elephant in the living room on Election Day.

In 2009, an unelected and scandal ridden successor took Badawi’s place with a new slogan 1Malaysia and a catchy PR (public relations) gimmick “People First, Perfomance Now“. Najib Tun Razak as the 6th Prime Minister with his ebullient and bumbling wife, Rosmah Mansor (ah, that self proclaimed First Lady!) by his side as one of his loyal and trusted advisors, moved aggressively to hype up his image. There was initial favorable public response to his 1Malaysia idea, but this has begun to fizzle out as the scandals refused to go away. An angry Mahathir returned as a card carrying Member of UMNO and we can expect him to inflict further damage to our national psyche, and to attack and embarrass Najib

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (3rd L) and First Lady Michelle Obama (2nd L) stand with four of the ten winners during the State Department’s 2012 International Women of Courage Award winners ceremony. – Reuters Photo

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