Mullah Happy’s fury – Part 1 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Mullah Happy’s fury – Part 1

I meet Mullah Happy regularly and he is, at most times, a pretty decent fellow, soft-spoken, mild in temperament and outlook. We usually meet every Friday after Juma prayers and today is no exception. The khutba is excellent as usual; he has prepared well, knows his material and dwells on how a Muslim needs to…

Callous Customs – Australia 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Callous Customs – Australia

I am on my way to visit Australia, invited to preset Comfort Aid International projects to various communities in Sydney and Melbourne. It is a long flight this, 14 hours and I am bushed by the time I land at Sydney airport. This is my second trip to Sydney in 18 years, the earlier one…

Haseena, the child woman – Final? 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Haseena, the child woman – Final?

I have to leave and get up to go but I want to help her. I tell her I will be traveling abroad for 2 weeks and ask her if she will let me help her when I return. She turns and looks at me strangely again, the weariness returns on her face. What help?…

Haseena, the child woman, part 2. 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Haseena, the child woman, part 2.

That is a nice name, Haseena, I say. She stops her prodding and regards me, suspicious and wary once more. Hey, hey, I say, alarmed by her ready and vivid assumptions. I mean no harm. I am old enough to be your father; I have a daughter your age. She resumes her attack on the…

Haseena, the child woman. 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Haseena, the child woman.

It is a mere 10 minute walk from my home behind Yari Road to Bank of India and I cherish the cool morning walk to it every time I have to go there. The dogs have tired from scavenging heaps of dumped garbage last night and their bellies are full; they now nap. The walk…

Burma calling 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Burma calling

Burma, or Myanmar for those that like being politically correct, evokes conflicting and exotic paradigms, shaped by what we hear in the news or Internet; well, it is both. It was a nighttime landing, so save for the simmering lights of airport terminal building and a scattering of city lights, I had no clue what…

Irrational anger? 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Irrational anger?

It is almost end of 2008; what a year! It is 7 months since our move from Houston to Mumbai; a move many in my family and friends feel is a mistake. Favoring their rational is the recent senseless and brutal attack of November 26 that killed and maimed so many. However, we are beginning…

A Mumbai Train Ride 150 150 Comfort Aid International

A Mumbai Train Ride

It is 21:30 and I want to return home to Andheri after burying my friend Aliakber’s dad at the Masgaun graveyard yesterday. My friends suggest I go by train, since it after “rush” hour and it would be fastest. There is some sort of a Sufi Urus festival going on in Mahim, they say, and…

Mumbai massacres 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Mumbai massacres

Humans became animals on November 26 when a few of them got together to gun down innocent people traveling in shabby trains or dining in upscale restaurants in Mumbai. Supposedly from Pakistan, these murderers sneaked past horribly inept Mumbai port security to launch an audacious attack at the heart of Mumbai’s hospitality, to its elite…

Lalaland 150 150 Comfort Aid International


I once lived in a country called Lalaland, a finger sized oil rich kingdom clusters on Middle East map. Then, it was a good place to live, though there were teething issues common with all new states. It was relatively cheap, the money I earned was good and went a long way, there was decency…

An invite for a private Mujra dance 150 150 Comfort Aid International

An invite for a private Mujra dance

I am going to Houston; it is very far away. Just the thought of flying 19 hours it will take me to get there from Mumbai via Dubai gives me the shudders so I block the thought out of my mind; for now at least. Emirates Airlines is getting ready to depart when the seat…

The business of fear 150 150 Comfort Aid International

The business of fear

I am on my way to Afghanistan, my ninth visit there since 2004. Unfortunately, it is only Indian Airlines that fly to Kabul from India, from New Delhi at 07:45 AM. So for me, living in Mumbai, it is a night in New Delhi; no big deal except for the hassle. The flight to Kabul…

The Indian psyche 150 150 Comfort Aid International

The Indian psyche

I am back briefly; will be gone again tomorrow, off to Afghanistan…to constant danger and the anguish of a forgotten and abandoned people… India has come a long way; gone are days of dour infrastructure and endless red tape; why, you can actually apply for a passport and get one in a week, you can…

Of Indian pilots 150 150 Comfort Aid International

Of Indian pilots

The idea that I, a paying passenger, need not know what is going on, sitting in the middle of a runway for half an hour without any explanation whatsoever, must have to do with Indian mentality and their pure patience, I guess. I was returning to Mumbai from Srinagar the other day, the flight was…

Malaad 150 150 Comfort Aid International


I am going to Malaad today. Just like Govendhi slums about which I have talked quite a bit on, Malaad is a sprawling slum that is home to thousands of very poor Muslims who clamor for every inch of vacant space. I am prepared. Good comfortable shoes to overcome slippery surfaces, loose clothes for…



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