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obama’s message to iran

I’m so glad to see that the U.S. is finally engaging in direct communication with my beloved country and that there is some degree of cultural engagement going on. I would love to read your opinions about this:


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After hearing about how great a movie ‘Slumdog Millionare’ was, my husband and I decided we had to see it for ourselves. Yes, it’s a good movie and if you have the chance to see it, you will enjoy it. As we left the theatre, those around us were whispering how wonderful a movie it was and people were filing out with lingering smiles on their faces. But other than the main story line, we wondered how much of the subtlety the general english-speaking and American audience would understand. Could you understand what it meant for those children to live in a slum if you have never smelled the stench? Or to understand the ultimate achievement of Jamal if you have not witnessed how the impoverished are abused? Could they understand how cruel the child begger mobs are until a legless child holds out his hand to you for change?

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where the hell is matt?

A testament to humankind, kindness and compassion.  This is what life is all about. With best wishes to all of you for the new year:

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scattered thoughts

As I was walking home from campus the other night, the beautiful sound of the Islamic call to prayer, the Azan, filled the entire UC Berkeley plaza. Surprise gave way to happiness as I the entire campus scene before me changed with the rhythm of the prayer. Couples holding hands, undergraduates passing out flyers, the movement of the leaves of the trees all seemed to be in harmony with the music. As a practicing Muslim, there have been many times in my life where the true depth of Islam and its protective embrace have really touched my soul. That night was perhaps the most mystical and beautiful of them all. 

As I continued on my home and as the prayer gradually faded away, I slowly began to become aware of the fact that there are very few, if any, places on this earth where religions, races, and beliefs of all kinds are not only tolerated, but embraced whole-heartedly. While the call to prayer may certainly have not been welcomed by many individuals on the UC Berkeley campus, it did increase awareness and knowledge of the faith. The recent election of a black man as the President of the United States, while too certainly not embraced by all, has defied stereotypes, opened new spaces for dialogue, and renewed hope for those marginalized individuals who believed that they could never make it. Yes, it is a time of hope here, a time of prayer for better things to come. What are your thoughts?

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happy halloween!

Happy Halloween to all!


This is going to be a particularly exciting Halloween here in America, 4 days before the presidential elections. I suspect many will dress as one of the candidates. The talk of the town is who to vote for and what to do if the other gets elected. Here in California, many are wondering if they want to vote for legalizing gay marriage in the state and argue about details of the existing abortion laws. We are going to have a highly political Halloween this year as we fasten our seatbelts and impatiently wait for the outcome on November 4th.


Photo courtesy of happyhalloween

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game of your dream

We had a football game between UC Berkeley and UCLA today.  Typically, these games have quite an impact on everything in town, most importantly transportation and parking become almost impossible.  How lively it is to fight for winning, to have a favorite team, and to show your support for something you relate to.  Today, while I work at a café next to the football stadium in Berkeley, I am witnessing hundreds of students and alumni from both universities walk by wearing UCLA or Berkeley shirts, hats, or shorts.  Many have brought their children, and of course the children are wearing shirts with the name and colors of their parents’ favorite school.  As I write, Berkeley’s marching band passes by with the loudest drums and a few hundred uniformed students marching Bancroft Avenue while the crowd waves at them with open smiles.  I am automatically a part of the excitement as I hear that Berkeley has won the game: 41 by 22.  Why do I care? What is it that is so exciting about being a part of a community united for a purpose, a community that has a team and is relating to that team to feel better or to fight against something in common?  Would I be disappointed in Berkeley if she had lost the game? Perhaps but I think not for long; I would probably continue smiling and congratulate the UCLA folks passing by.



 Photo courtesy of nybox6

I recently had a job interview in England and did not get the job.  When I was invited to interview for a faculty position that seemed to be a dream job at the time, I remember getting extremely nervous to even attend the interview fearing for the outcome.  I wished I had not applied for the job at all and thought it was too early for me to do this as I was not prepared and not even close to graduating.  My father told me something that completely changed my attitude, which is why I want to talk about sports.  He said: “this interview is like a football match of your dream.  You are invited to play in your national team against another excellent team.  What matters is that you play for the sake of playing, the excitement, the glory of the game in itself – pay no attention to the results.  Life is not about the outcome, it’s about the game.  You will go and you will play your best and will enjoy the game regardless of the results. Do not pre-judge, judge, or post-judge the outcome.  Just play…”

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