Monday, December 27, 2010

How to be Alone

"Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. but lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it."

"If your heart is bleeding make the best of it
There is heat in freezing, be a testament."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pen Bouquet

With all the disadvantages and drawbacks of the obsolete method of paper charting in a medical facility, the one that is the most irksome is: losing pens. I typically lose at least 7 in week despite all my efforts. It might get lost in charts, misplaced in patients' rooms,  or a fellow colleague may have "borrowed" the  pen in a desperate measure to compensate their loss.  "Who took/stole my pen?!" is uttered by all departments everyday and every hour.  Professionals have accused their esteemed colleagues of theft and lies in a futile 30 second search to recover the lost instrument.  It's all in good humor, of course... But if we are all collectively losing pens, then how come we are also not finding pens? Any pens? Shouldn't the deficit cancel out?

This conundrum is also inspiring: I've created pen bouquets as holiday gifts for a few colleagues that I've "borrowed/stolen" pens from over the last 17 months.

It's not a solution to this mystery, but perhaps the delicate silk will serve as tracking device as it provides comfort to the weary hand. 


Terra-cotta, glass pebbles, silk flowers, pens, flowering tape

Sunday, December 12, 2010


iPhone & the City

I never understood how it was possible to love the life of a busy, fast-paced and merciless city and the bucolic and empty vastness of the country or mountain-side without being contradictory or hypocritical?

Perhaps it's because I view the City as a giant social experiment? And the Buildings are my man-made mountains and the People are cattle grazing on fields of ambition and greed.  It's incredibly entertaining and amusing to wander into the meandering streets without a purpose and to view life as it is... Perhaps a timely comment I heard of one city on NPR en route home appropriately sums all cities: "NYC is the world's biggest, free museum."

Philadelphia truly is the city of brotherly love.  I'm always greeted with warmth in these streets, and I'm especially astonished by the behavior of the homeless. In most occasions and circumstances, I witness them in jovial and carefree spirits even on a cold December Day. It's difficult to believe such attitudes are manifested in a life of squalor, uncertainty, destitution...  Which can also unequivocally translated to: a life of faith, adventure, freedom, and freedom from worldly possessions.... Perhaps this is the charm of the vagabond persuasion.

As much as I Love cities ( I don't like LA), I dream of big skies, mountains, fresh air, and never ending beauty. I dream of Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado...ALASKA. In due time. Insha'Allah.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Revisting Mr. S

Crossroads: Image from my
daily commute
I had called for a meeting to discuss Mr. S's code status with his wife and the rest of the team. Right when she walked in, I detected moisture around her eyes. But it was difficult to tell if she had been crying. She's a strong and well-composed women. We all knew what needed to be done. It's just about finally allowing the tongue to spew the words trapped in the heart.

Mr. S is still not eating. . No artificial nutrition. The drugs are not helping. "What would he want?"

Mrs. S is also a realistic woman. And brave. That morning she was taking the first step of a long journey of "letting go..." And now she was crying right infront of me.

"You are such an amazing wife." She nodded as she wiped her brown eyes. I rubbed her back. I learned this technique from observing my nurse coworkers. Sometimes a hug is just plain awkward when the subject of discussion is painful.... A back rub is a good compromise...but it always seems fake.

I need my own technique.

I didn't want to write about Mr. S. again or anything else work related for that matter.. But my two worlds always clash...and then you ask what is art? And what is life?

"Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life" - Oscar Wilde

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I knew never being a Khala could bring so much


Monday, October 18, 2010

another day another dollar

Today my (non-Muslim) coworker told me she had something for me. I went to her office and she handed me three beautiful, soft "hijaabs" she had stumbled across at the Walgreens. I was dumbfounded. They were so beautiful, soft, and just the colors I would wear. "I saw reds, but I knew that would be too flashy for you."

Right on.

She even handed me a receipt if I'd want to change colors...

What a beautiful heart, masha'Allah. It makes me a little sad, you know.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

around the bend

 I had failed to get reservations to a late-night event in Philadelphia. We had 5 hours to kill before the next viewing. And so we walked, down the street, and around the bend and discovered the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I had been there before during night and day. But this time the experience was quite magical.  The museum was deserted. We raced to the top of the steps and after we caught our breath we turned around and marveled at the view of the City. It looked so perfect: calm, serene and beautiful. The night was cool and the moon and the wind greeted us.  SubhanAllah.

View of Philadelphia from atop of the Steps
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Why does time always seems a little slower when it rains? subhanAllah. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

with the birds I'll share this lonely view and..

Sometimes you see things and over look them, and then sometimes you see the same exact things but somehow by the grace of Allah you are touched...

Many times I am called into a patient's room because his or her oral intake has significantly reduced after admission. And today's summoning was not out of the ordinary.

Flowers from a patient's room. Pic taken with permission.
I was surprised to learn this particular patient's appetite has decreased. It is very common for people on dialysis to have poor intake due to the nature of the illness and the strain on the body. But not Mr. S., he ate everything in sight.  His wife was feeding him as I interviewed them both. Her husband appeared to more confused than usual. And I thought...what is this man's usual? He is blind, he has dementia, he's a diabetic, he's on dialysis, he is bed ridden, he is only in his 60s. And I felt immense pain and love for his wife... And for the wives I've witnessed taking care of their husbands so loyally and lovingly day after day. How they spend their entire day by their side feeding them, toileting them, talking to them,  discussing their progress or lack of progess with the healthcare team, and most of all praying for them... How it must pain them to see their spouse in such a fragile state. How they must leave and go home to an empty house and an empty bed. There are three particular wives that I hope I never forget as I move in life. And Mrs. S. is one of them.

Perhaps this is true love.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Perfect Patient

Today I met the most gracious patient.

He smiled when I entered, laughed at my lame jokes, complemented all of the staff,  denied any complaints, and asked for me to visit him again.

He has Stage IV cancer undergoing chemo and radiation.

And I smiled back leaving a little more humble.

A seed trapped in a spider's web discovered in a creek beside my street

Sunday, September 19, 2010


ink + sharpie on paper
Completed 2006
"Be it with a stone, God or anyone else,
There comes not tranquility without loving

The heart is the ocean of love; love is its act,
Guard it a thousand ways; it will still fall in love" 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Ground 0 and Prayer

Saturday's News Journal Opinion + charcoal + white out
I don't like to argue, and I definitely don't like politics.  In the end, Mr. MacLachlan of Wilmington, Delaware sums it very well.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

growth [plate]

                                                                                                    Sharpie + water

Today I slipped into my bag, a small pack of "help yourself" crayons from the waiting room of the Children's Hospital. I smiled and thought of the elderly patient at work who colored in coloring books. I couldn't wait to hand this to him Monday morning.

And I smiled again at the realization of remembering my patients in the most mundane acts.

And so I discuss my day job. Actually, my day job is really not just a job. It's a career. A career that tremendously influences and affects not only the art but also the artist (i hate that word).  I had studied art in school for just a semester and left it because I "missed books."  These are the exact words I used to justify yet another forfeit.

 I told myself, go and "learn," and as a friend wrote in my yearbook: "'never stop painting.'"  So I became what I am today.  It's been good for my soul and for my spiritual, intellectual and social growth.  Spiritually, I've seen life and death and all in between. It's has affected in ways I cannot transcribe into words...  I've come to appreciate and be thankful of blessings even the those that are on their way... It's taught me lessons of love and letting go. It's helped me peceive that death can be a blessing, and that it is the only guarantee in life.  Intellectually, I feel more knowledgeable and confident to make decisions for whomever is under my care. And socially, I'm in love with the world. Sometimes family members and patients will break down in front of you and spill their most intimate thoughts, fears, and hopes.  At first I felt inadequate to help the person in front of me because of my age and limited life experiences.  Afterwards, I quickly learned people do not necessarily want answers or miracles, they just need a moment to shift their burdens so they are able to breath without the suffocating weight...

I cannot say I love what I do. But I can wholeheartedly say I love what I am doing. And all these emotions and experiences fuel the fire to create artwork.  I don't think I would have anything to paint if I didnt have this struggle for my artwork is a product of my emotions.

I was in the Children's Hosptial because I was to shadow health professionals in Orthopedics. And don't you know, I loved it?

And everything is from Allah.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Color = Rods, Cones, Rhodopsin, Retinal, Vitamin A.  It is the miracle of color. Stop, inhale, and open your eyes to wonder.

Monday, June 28, 2010


It's almost 3 AM, I have to leave for work in less than 5 hours. I have an exam on Tuesday, which I have barely studied. And here I am on my computer working without any breaks...or regrets. I guess that's blessing  of doing what you love and getting lost in it.  I hope someday my risq can involve creativity. I would probably become a work-a-holic when that day arrives. One of these days, (nights)  I'll write about my "day job."

Until then, I'm gonna mess around in DW.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poetic Vision Tour Album Cover

My first album design.

 I completed this in exactly one night to meet the deadline of my client.  Yes, I'm a  glorious-last-minute-warrior.  I had so much fun making this-combining traditional and digital media-a perfect marriage. I hope to continue making albums for PVT!  Alhamdullilah.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I was looking at my bookshelf,  and I found a clear plastic folder filled with old Urdu and English newspapers-some dating back from 1986 (I'll save this for another post) and this one from post 911. I had no clear reason to save them other than me telling myself I will use these pages in the future.  Nine years later, I decided to make a self-portait. I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, when I heard the news.  Like many Americans, we too were distraught, fearful...

This is a meaningful piece to me as it might be to you.  God Bless.

Monday, May 31, 2010

6 steps to inner peace from Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam lecture at RIS

Hadith: Laisal ghinna an kathratil arad wa la kinnal ghinna ghinnan nafs (Richness is not to have an abundance of what you want, but rather richness is inner contentment of the heart.)

6 Steps to Gain Inner Peace/Contentment:

1) Look at who is lower than you not the ones above you, if you do that you'll never be ungrateful for the bounties of Allah upon you (hadith)

hadith: if you come upon someone who is blessed with more than you in wealth and health, immediately look at people below you

2)  Remove love of dunya from our hearts.

hadith: Hubbud duniya ra'su kulli khateea (love of dunya is the root of every sin)

3) Don't have any expectations from the creation of Allah.

Even when being good to family, you do it for the sake of Allah, not for people to be good to you in return. Expect nothing from anyone.

4) Constantly remember death.

If you remember how short life is after which there is eternity, no amount of tribulation in this world will bother you.

Hadith: kun fid dunya ka annaka ghareebun aw aabirus sabeel (be in this world as if you are a stranger or traveller).

5) Recite the book of Allah everyday (especially in the morning)

6) Be optimistic and try to smile as much as possible.

Notes collected by a family member.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Family Tree

A wooden piece under 7 square small canvases.

A gift I made for Shaykh Hamza and his family. I was very nervous to present this to him and the first few encounters were fruitless. The man is just too buy and people constantly hover around him. When I was given the chance, I had a change of heart. I still have it in wrapped in it's original a gift bag with a signed note.

It just wasn't meant to be.

One day I will change the names of this tree. And at this time, I do not know what those names will be. I'll be patient. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


A child busy rearranging the flower petals from the Masjid's fountain.

My first (and hopefully not my last) trip to Masjid Al-Farooq for a most blessed occasion. It's truly the most beautiful masjid I've set foot in the U.S. I wanted to capture more of the intricate and ordain architecture, but I wasn't able to.
I was; however, able to capture something that's even more important. I've come to truly realize--physically and emotionally that even the most basic things we demand and desire for ourselves should never be thought of as "basic" Getting a job, getting married, having children are all on everyone's "to-do" list and we expect that eventually we'll reach that phase in our lives because we tell ourselves it's a basic need. In reality, it's a tremendous blessing from Allah. As is being able to breath, being able to swallow food, being able to wiggle your toes, being able to sense your toes...and so on. My epiphany seems very self-evident, and of course I knew of my blessings and the blessings of others...but's it's another thing to be actually sense them and feel the tremendous bounty from your heart, to your shoulders, and into your eyes.

Allah is so gracious.