Sunday, February 25, 2007

Working Late Pictures ... and the brilliant Bob Gainey

I ended up staying at work a few extra hours 4 days last week to finish stuff up. I work in the building across from the funky Bank of Canada Building on Sparks street, which is sort of a "Building within a building" and has a glass exterior, with plants between the two layers. Turns out it looks even cooler after dark, as can be seen in the pics that follow:

On a completely unrelated note: The GM of my Montreal Canadiens has been at it again, just a few days before this year's trade deadline, and he sends Craig Rivet, the team's longest serving player, to San Jose for a young D and a FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICK!!! It's insane that Rivet, who's an incredibly hard worker, but really not that talented, and who's a UFA at the end of the season, can net a return of a good young D AND a first rounder. Mike Boone (whose Eeee-mail is linked on my blog roll) has more to say about it here, and I agree, there must be more brewing. I mean, if this is what we can get for Rivet, what could we get for Souray?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Remembering Remembrance

after prayer at my house
we sit
heads down
in not so proper rows – the feet
no longer tucked beneath us
the hands keeping count -
fingers dancing
to the beads of remembrance
sung in silence
from our lips

the silence
by a one-year-old’s
intended shrieks and kisses
(waiting patiently for salaam
to begin her play again)
by the laugh
caught in the throat
of a memory
by the continuance
of a conversation

M's Winter Pics

Dare to compare the "wintery" pics I posted earlier with these masterpieces... once again, M is WAAAAY ahead in the photography game. I don't stand a chance... I'll post these while I still have the chance before he starts his own photography blog.

These pics are post a snow storm in Montreal a few days ago, except for the last one which is the view from the backyard of M's parents' place in TO.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Trying to Write again

“There is my fear
of no words of
falling without words
over and over..”

-Michael Ondaatje, White Dwarfs

This is for people who fall,
who trip over their own dangling
shoe laces,
over other people’s feet.

This is my fear
of no sound in the house
at two am. Of missing the breathing
of my mother because she isn’t there.

My fear of no words
of falling
without words
into sleep without breathing
my fear of
missing the bus because I slept
the extra ten minutes.

This is my fear of wearing glasses,
of being in an elevator with broken cables
of living ’till I die
my fear of
misspelling a word on the blackboard
with the whole class watching.

Better Late than Never

In Montreal two weekends ago, several pics, as mentioned in an earlier post, of McGill University from a distance, as well as some of the beatiful new Islamic Centre of Quebec (ICQ), and a neat pic of "O Canada Art" from the Montreal underground...
Was at a spiritual retreat this last weekend at Bearbrook Farm outside of Ottawa. Very beautiful, and very cold. Pictures to follow in a later post.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stealing (not plagiarizing) from a friend

I recently discovered an old friend who used to live in Ottawa out on the blogosphere, and am glad for her insightful words... To read what she's got to say, you can follow Sajda's link from my Favourite Blogs on the right. I am taking the liberty to copy in and give full credit for one post which I truly truly loved, relating to Islam and music. Being someone who loves music myself, and who struggles with just how much of it to listen to, and to avoid the negative messages in a lot of contemporary music, this post really really spoke to me.
Link to original, and my copy of the whole post:

To Nasheed or not to Nasheed…
January 16th, 2007
The first English nasheed I ever heard was “A’ is for Allah” sung in a clear tone by the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. A cozy setting: it was just Yusuf Islam and the gawking small crowd at my mosque, a converted old church (just like in Little Mosque on the Prairie!) We young ones had been let out of Sunday school early to witness history in the making - Yusuf Islam was softening his stance against music - a little…The song went on to become #1 on mosque announcement boards across North America. (Right under the parking regulations - see comedian Azhar Usman’s take on that).
Until then, until Yusuf Islam opened his mouth and sang in ENGLISH, Islamic music was mostly sung in Arabic or your indigenous language if you happened to come from a part of the world that had a tradition of Islamizing the local culture and arts. My family fortunately came from a culture which had encountered and embraced Islam from the 7th century - our locale being prominent on the trade route; Muslim music has its own name there and on my visits “back home” as a child, the beauty and the meaning of the songs I heard my cousins singing stayed with me even though I wasn’t fluent by any means in the language. I particularly remember a hauntingly beautiful melody about a song-bird which awakens at the break of dawn to flitter around the minarets and rise, soaring into the dark sky as the souls rise to meet Allah for morning prayers. I still sing it to my daughter to sleep.
Music and the arts was so prominent a part of my background culture that it was commendable for children to master them. My teenage male cousins were just as likely to spontaneously sit around and sing together as my female cousins were. On my summer visits, hardly a night would go by without a nasheed-a-thon under the flickering lights of rationed electricity.
Back home in Canada, music to me meant stuff you listened to on your favourite alternative radio station, 102.1 CFNY, even though you had a vague idea your dad might not approve of New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle. Back then, lyrics didn’t matter - just that your best friend kept going on and on about the Housemartins until you started singing Caravan of Love in the shower - with the vague idea that your dad might approve of a song with “my brother” and “my sister” in it. Your clique at school decided what kind of music you listened to - and for me that meant British invasion - New Order, Depeche Mode, the Cure, the Smiths - was the order of the day. (Though I secretly liked some of the top 40 hits; but, in the interests of keeping my ultra cool friends from fainting, I refrained from singing Phil Collins).
Later as I opened my eyes to the world beyond my high school halls, I started to actually listen to lyrics. The meanings of meaningless songs bothered me. Somebody singing Sunday Bloody Sunday about finding peace was more worth listening to, I felt, than someone singing Somebody about finding love. Meaning mattered to me and the meaning of a song like Mr. Wendel by Arrested Development - about a homeless man - was more my cupa’ tea now that I had become awakened to the realities of the world beyond suburban comfort. You guessed it, I was in university. My friends and I were going to save the world.
Now, the explosion in English Islamic/Muslim songs from around the globe is such that it’s hard to keep up with. We are witnessing the Islamizing of the arts and culture of a part of the world which until more recently we regarded as not “our” lands even if we were born and bred here. It’s like we just remembered that to God belongs the East and the West.
Consider whole websites devoted solely to nasheed artists and the huge interest in their products. And as many Muslim English musicians there are, there are the same number of opinions regarding them - from the view that they can only sing on Islam, they can only use voice, no - they can use the traditional duff, they have to market solely to Muslims etc. And then there’s the whole question posed out there - just what can be called nasheed and what can‘t? Is nasheed to be defined as “Islamic oriented music”?
My view has always been to support (through the purchase of original works) any Muslim musician who wishes to get across the message that Islam brings to the world - God-centeredness, peace, kindness, justice, brotherhood, remembrance of our role models (both Prophets and Islamic personalities) etc. And if they’re doing this in English, even better. Any Muslim musician who is able to get this message across in such a beautiful way that their songs actually travel across the bridges of faith, culture, identity and nationality is to be especially commended. I particularly think Yusuf Islam (I like his remake of Father and Son with Ronan Keating), Dawud Wharnsby (who actually is a formidable pioneer - the 2nd most I would say after Yusuf Islam - in Islamic music) and Kareem Salama (his work is one of the most well-written I’ve seen and the music and voice are especially bridge-crossing) are mention-worthy in this regard. By the way - the video for Midnight on Dawud Wharnsby’s site has got to be watched until the end - it’s very moving. With Zain Bhika’s latest CD, Allah Knows, he seems to be breaking ground as well.
That’s not to say groups like Native Deen (who I really enjoy listening to) don’t cut it. Their focus seems to be on the Muslim youth in our communities - a commendable goal in itself. Of course I’m not going to forget seven8six, Shaam, Sami Yusuf, Aa’shiq-al-Rasul et all who are doing the same sort of thing. Oh, and Raihan (the Malaysian group) with its feel-good, sway-to music (and am I ever glad that their latest offerings have had more English - my Malay and Arabic were getting confused). And one more, I’m not going to forget brother Mustaqiim Sahir (there’s a long wait for the link) from the early days of English Islamic music, who uses only his voice to make a range of instruments.
And Outlandish? They harken back to my university days: save the world while humming. Are they nasheeding? Well, do they promote Islamic ideals? I just think if everyone asks themselves that question each time they listen to a Muslim artist, they’d be able to ascertain who’s nasheeding and who isn’t. Just make sure you listen with the heart of faith yourself and not the heart of judgement based on a fortress of fear. Because, really, the amount of people who tsk tsk at Muslim musicians producing works with beautiful messages while back at home or with friends, they (the same people) bob their heads to songs with dubious content by non-Muslims is just too sad of a topic. Sad enough that I wish someone would make a nasheed on it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random Wintery Pictures

Went to Montreal on Saturday and actually only took a handful of pics. Beautiful view of McGill that M showed me from I-can't-actually-remember-the-name-of-the-building. Will post as soon as I upload. For now, a Winterish Ottawa picture and a pic from our train station from the last couple of weeks.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Waiting on the World to Change

By John Mayer:

me and all my friends
we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there's no way we ever could
now we see everything that's going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don't have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's hard to beat the system
when we're standing at a distance
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change

now if we had the power
to bring our neighbors home from war
they would have never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on their door

and when you trust your television
what you get is what you got
cause when they own the information, oh
they can bend it all they want

that's why we're waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

it's not that we don't care,
we just know that the fight ain't fair
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

and we're still waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

one day our generation
is gonna rule the population
so we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

I think this song is the perfect reflection of how many twenty-somethings feel about the world right now. It just really captures the hopelessness, the apathy on politics and globalization and so much of the rest of it. Sad, but very very true.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I haven't been to Ottawa's big winter event for a couple of years, but we went yesterday and had an absolute blast. After walking for over 40 minutes on the Rideau Canal, I'm convinced that I need to take up ice skating again (it's been over 5 years since I've laced'em up...) If you're in the Ottawa area and you haven't gone, go! Dress warm, bring a hat and wear two pairs of socks, and enjoy yourself... Winter, as Ally stressed in a recent post, is beautiful...

one of the ice sculptures... Since we went on the first day, they weren't fully completed. M and I nicknamed this guy the "Headless Goalie" and thought about all the ways parents could use him to scare their children... "Eat your vegetables, or the Headless Goalie will come get you..."

The view from Mackenzie King Bridge of the Canal...

Walkers for skating beginners - Brilliant!

Not a Winterlude picture, but fits with the winter theme

This ice sculpture represents real life in Ottawa perfectly... aah, to shovel...