Phew, it has been an eventful couple of months since my last blog! What with a very dramatic and eventful trip to strife torn Afghanistan, my two trips to the hospital, holy Ramadhan and its predictable Eid el Fitr moon (non)sighting fiasco, current (very) noisy Navratri days, the never ending schools holidays for the kids and my house torn up for new bathrooms and tiles. I tell you, life in Mumbai is becoming a frenzied chain of events I did not expect. Afghanistan was scary with bombs exploding everywhere in Kabul and a missile attack at the airport while I was waiting for chartered flight to Bamiyaan. You can read all about it here http://comfortaid.org/aug_09_report.html and watch the photographs here http://picasaweb.google.com/Comfort.Aid.International/AfghanistanTrip2009#. Two days into Ramadhan and I was struck with excruciating pain in the lower abdomen; pain so intense I thought I was certainly going to die! It turned out to be a single minute kidney stone that would normally routinely pass through but due to a very narrow urethra, it stuck and caused infection and hence the pain. Doctors at Kokilaben Ambani Hospital did a good job to ease the pain but could not reach the stone. So, without telling me because I was blissfully anesthetized, a tube was inserted in via the most delicate part of my body and it stayed there for the next four weeks! So you women who think childbirth is the ultimate pain one can experience, I say you need to reconsider your opinion. It was most distressing because it curtailed my exercise routine. End of Ramadhan and the exercise to extract a new moon began with predictable conflicts and differing opinions. Eid ended up with disunity all over the Shia world. Families were divided with elders observing festivities on Sunday and children on Monday. I really don’t know; will we ever get it right? It is not a question of disobeying the Marja(s) for that is beyond us. But we must acknowledge that this issue IS dividing us, IS creating disharmony and discord and IS alienating a LOT of youths. We can no longer make excuses like “a minority is making a mountain out of a mole” or “we must respect the marjeeat decision”. Yes, a minority is making a mountain but the majority is really disenfranchised and cannot understand how two well respected and highly qualified Marjas can have differing opinions on a single issue when the sources that derive a solution is one. As earlier stated, disrespect of the Marjeeat is NOT an option but nor is the distinct possibility of losing faith. Festivals in India can be treats and a (royal) pain where the sun does not shine. Just when I though we were through with the dancing and boisterousness of Ghanesia festivities that tie up the already chaotic Mumbai traffic, we are in the middle of Navratri, a colorful but eardrum busting music and dancing fiesta that makes even normal conversation at home a challenge. I can’t disregard the fiery and finery of costumes, shopping frenzy and goodwill that accompany these events. And the days school off as a consequence; oh my, I hope my kids will get the educational value for the fortune we pay in fees. And finally my condominium home that is a torn up mess. I agreed, to my horror now, to redo the bathrooms and tiles of the entire place. Little did I even imagine the mess and headache of cleaning up every day and frustration in coordinating the contractor who seems to have his own timetable and opinions. He is grossly unhappy with my choice of non shiny tiles and glittery accessories. He wants me to convert my home into a Bollywood studio…Allah help me!