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Marbles last won the day on January 27

Marbles had the most liked content!

About Marbles

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    تیرے عشق نچایا

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  1. Marbles

    Nose Studs - What's the Deal?

    It's very common in Pakistan and India. All women in my family have the nose piercing. The piercing is on one side of the nose not between both nostrils as some do nowadays (which did happen in old days especially among rural communities).
  2. Marbles

    Ate/Eating/Will Eat?

    Someone from the Bible Belt made a comment in a keto group I follow: "I find it strange that Jesus said that He is the Bread of life, but the American wheat is killing us." I replied, "Perhaps Jesus meant He's almond bread."
  3. Marbles

    Thoughts 2019

    You are right, the shipping costs are prohibitively high and often exceed the price of the book. For example, I remember the last book I ordered was priced $9 but the shipping was $13. The cost of shipping increases with weight so it becomes incrementally higher as you add more books. I only order from Amazon when I have exhausted all other avenues and still can't find the book, not even an e-book. Options are limited if a book is not mainstream or out of print, especially when one has to get it from a marketplace seller. Why don't you try other vendors such as Abebooks, both U.S and U.K versions? They have some great cheap and used books. Shipping costs vary a lot but you can find sellers who'd ship to Pakistan for half of Amazon's standard rates. Last time I bought a used book worth $2 which cost me $5 in shipping, and I thought that's not too bad.
  4. Marbles

    Thoughts 2019

    They do. I have ordered and received books from Amazon US and Amazon U.K. multiple times over the last few years. I used Pak-based credit card to purchase the books, both sold directly by Amazon and most of the Amazon marketplace sellers (third-party sellers) that ship worldwide. But they don't deliver any other products besides books. The main reason is that Pakistan charges customs to shipments coming in from abroad through post. The buyer needs to pay taxes on most of the stuff. The other reason is that shipment costs to Pak are very high. Alibaba (Aliexpress) delivers to Pakistan but most shipments are held at the GPOs and we get tax receipts. If we pay they release the product. If not, they seize it and simply take it home for personal use (chor ke bachay). Recently, I ordered a small handbag from AliExpress. It cost me PKR 2100 only but the suckers levied PKR 1450 in customs duty. I just paid and did tauba about ordering anything from Aliexpress ever again until I find some contacts in the Customs to evade the taxes. Amazon has operations in India and that's why they deliver everything there locally. They have no local presence in Pakistan, but as I said above, they do ship books to us, but nothing else.
  5. No. If the purpose is to lose fat then you want to do a combination of high intensity cardio and light weight training. That way you'd lose fat and gain moderate muscle. Lifting heavy weights with all that fat on would only lead to dense muscle mass but you'd still have all the work ahead of you to get rid of the fat through intense cardio.
  6. Marbles

    The Travel Diary

    I am not sure if the food was cooked in the same pots but they were as heavy as clay pots back home. I don't think it was stone. I'll try to find out and get back with more info if I can. And it's okay. You are welcome to discuss anything related to the content of the posts, food including.
  7. Marbles

    The Travel Diary

    Saudi Arabia 2018 My family and I performed Umrah last year, Allah be praised. It was my first but my family had been there before. Words can’t describe your feelings when the Kaaba comes into view for the first time! Our friends advised us to visit right after the resumption of Umrah visas after the Hajj proceedings are concluded, because that is the least busy time of the year and you don’t have to share Masjid al-Haraam with the rest of the Ummah. We couldn’t travel on the desired dates due to work obligations so we visited in late winter. It was still supposed to be not so busy. We performed the Umrah at the time of Tahajjud prayers when most pilgrims are apparently back in the hotels, resting. Even then this is how it looked during the Sa'I on Safa and Marwah: My hometown is famous for scorching hot summers but back home we were using blankets and duvets at night. In Makkah we needed to switch on the one-and-a-half ton window air conditioner to contain the heat. It was only 15th February and the last I checked Hijaz was in the Northern hemisphere. Ya Allah! We were advised to find a secluded spot for prayers wherever we went outside Masjid al-haraam because apparently the mullahs pester you if they see you praying with open arms and try to make you fold them. This made us conscious so we tried to be as inconspicuous as possible and avoided any unpleasant encounter. I wanted to hop on a cheap flight to Riyadh to see a friend but I learned that we are only allowed to visit Jeddah, Makkah and Medina on Umrah visa. (Recently, the authorities have decided to allow pilgrims to travel to other parts of the country after obtaining special permits but this policy wasn’t in force when we visited) Technically, we couldn’t even visit Taif which is close to Makkah, but our friends who speak perfect Arabic took us there a couple of times to see the mountains and enjoy the stunning change of weather just after a drive of an hour or so from Makkah city. It was cold, wet, windy and foggy in Taif, which is a rare combination but in line with that time of the year. We went as far as Mount Dakka for the views and a small picnic of tea and sandwiches and returned after the sundown to our air conditioned rooms in Makkah. I experienced two completely opposite weather conditions in a single day. On the second occasion when we’re returning late at night our car was stopped at a checkpoint. My friend told me to sit quiet and tight and took out his ‘iqamah’ and driving license and managed the situation. “What would have happened had they found out an Umrah pilgrim here on the road to Taif,” I asked my friend. “Nothing, they’d have warned you and told you to get back to Makkah at once.” So the policy of preventing Umrah visa holders from visiting at least Taif isn’t strictly enforced. But I learned that cab drivers usually refuse to take pilgrims to Taif due to fear of incurring fines. In Medinah it was disheartening to be herded like animals in a tight queue to the shouts of ‘keep walking’ and ‘don’t ask the Prophet’ by the mullahs and the policemen installed around the burial chamber. Some desi Sunnis of Barelvi stock recited “naats” (What’s the Arabic word?) loudly to the great annoyance of the mullahs. I paid my respects, prayed in heart, and came out the other side to see more mullahs who wanted everyone to pray to “Allah only” as though all the pilgrims present there were a group of idol worshipers. (Sunrise in Masjid-e-Nabawi) (It is not until you see the dome of the Prophet from up close that you realise how old and fragile it is. Apparently it was erected by the Ottoman administration, was originally white in colour and bedecked in jewels. The Saudis ripped away the decorations after the conquest of the Hijaz and only spared the the dome on the orders of the Saudi Emir who feared backlash from "ignorant" Muslims) I thought hijab was strictly enforced in all of Saudi Arabia. Not anymore. There used to be the ‘moral police’ (what’s the Saudi term for that?) who patrolled public places to enforce compliance with the approved dress code and public behaviour, and punish perceived infractions, but the crown prince has drastically curtailed their activities. They have been removed from big malls and other public places. We saw many women in Jeddah whose heads were completely uncovered but they did wear the abayas. Now women can display their hairdos in public and I suppose the foreign expats are enjoying the loosening of the leash Saudi Arabia is in the midst of social change – or so it seems. As per new regulations, stores and businesses are required to employ a certain percentage of female employees or face fines or shutdowns. Native female workers are more visible than ever before. Another set of new regulations have put a tremendous stress on the expat communities. The annual fees to renew residence permits have shot up, which the middle class workers like shop owners find hard to afford and many are leaving. The purpose is to reduce dependence on foreign workers and to get the local and jobless - and some would say lazy - natives to start working. (This was an old administrative building in Makkah that dates back to the Ottoman times. Saudi destruction of monuments of religious significance is well-known but the regime has also let their heritage go to dust. In any other country this would have been a museum worth a visit) No travel report is complete without some mention of the food! There is a fast food chain which is very famous among the visiting pilgrims and locals alike: Al-Baik. Everyone is advised to try their chicken and our friends were also insistent on taking us there. I found their chicken to be absolutely useless. Thanks to globalisation, spicy tasteless deep fried chicken is now considered food worth eating. I asked our friends to recommend us something authentic and local. We settled on what is called Qalaba, and it was excellent. Apparently lentils slow cooked over a long time until it looks like this: Later on we went to this Saudi restaurant which has cabins and carpets but no chairs and tables. You're expected to sit down and eat your food. The proper local way to eat rice is to empty the rich dish on the plastic mat and partake of the food with hands. There will be no plates and bowls for individuals. That was a bit...difficult for me as I am not familiar with this kind of "group eating." We were three people. I’ll finish with an anecdote – apparently a true story - someone told me in Makkah: A man went on a business trip abroad. When he returned home he got a letter from the police requiring him to pay the fine for overspeeding at this and this date on this and this road. The man thought it was a terrible mistake because he’d been out of the country and, since he was the only adult male in the house, there is no way anyone else could have driven the car while he was away. So he challenged the penalty in court. During the proceedings the police produced a picture of the car and a reading of the speed cam. He saw his wife sitting in the front seat. The man who was driving the car was his colleague. It was well past midnight. The man paid the fine and went home. The rest is history. PS: I am an amateur clicker and use an average phone camera to take pics. So bear with me. Next destination: Bosnia & Herzegovina.
  8. Marbles

    The Travel Diary

    Salams I’m inviting members to share brief travel stories along with select pics about the wonderful places they have visited and the things they experienced there. The reason for starting a new thread is that I’d like to focus on individual experience, personal observations, and examples of cultural exchange and shock etc as opposed to the more general to-do and to-see lists which, in the age of the internet, anyone can look up online about any place on Earth. Reports of pilgrimages or religious travel are welcome but this is by no means the main or exclusive focus of the thread. I was in transit at Oakland airport (OAK) when I saw this appear on a digital screen with a background of an unknown snow-covered mountaintop. “We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” It struck a chord. I’ll start with some observations from my Umrah trip. Until then here's something to think about:
  9. Marbles

    What Have You Watched Recently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

    It wasn't just the accent but a combination of street slang and the typically frivolous American behaviour of the anti-hero which made him sound ridiculous among the Wakandans who spoke a clean language and behaved more responsibly. Come to think of it, this may represent a critique of American interventionist policies and the disregard for consequences. I was a being little disingenuous when I said I don't like superhero movies. I watched the Batman franchise (Gotham city, Christian Bale) and I think Batman II is a masterpiece.
  10. Marbles

    What Have You Watched Recently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

    Black Panther (2018) I don't really watch superhero films and don't understand their appeal among the ordinary masses, but this is somewhat different from a host of (white Western) superhero films out there. It's set in a fictional and technologically advanced African country of Wakanda. Actions scenes are splendid and the way they have imagined the technology is one of the most pleasing aspects of the film. Plus, the character of the anti-hero has black American accent, which sounds totally ridiculous among the Nigerian-style accents of the rest of the cast. 4/5 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) This is an anthology of short period films apparently based on a short story collection of the same name. Let's call it a stylized Western with awesome cinematography. Enjoyed it a lot 4/5
  11. Marbles

    Freedom of opinion

    Some years ago this was a great bone of contention among the site management and between them and some veteran members. Some mods/admins, especially those who have been on ShiaChat since its inception, argued for a purge of non-conformist Shias who were known to ask tough questions and start controversial debates. The fact that some behaved impolitely provided a justification that they were nothing but trolls. That period was also the worst time to be on this forum because there were so many ugly fights every day and a juggernaut of slander and ad hominem in every other thread that gave ShiaChat a bad image. All parties were guilty to some extent for taking things far, but it was easy for those who excused hate, slander, and misuse of power by invoking Islam and ideology to escape accountability. The issue is far from settled.
  12. Marbles

    Freedom of opinion

    Details please. *grabs popcorn*
  13. Marbles

    Venezuela- What is the right thing to do?

    What has happened in Venezuela is a coup. Trump’s denial is dangerous https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/28/venezuela-coup-Trump-juan-guaido
  14. Marbles

    What Have You Watched Recently? [OFFICIAL THREAD]

    The Theory of Everything (2014) Finally got round to it. It's based on the memoir of Stephen Hawking's ex-wife and focuses on their romance, marriage, and the progressive disintegration of Hawking's physical abilities and his will to keep on working for as long as possible. The docs said he had only two years to live but he went on for over 50 years. Gives me goosebumps. Stellar performance by Eddie Redmayne.
  15. Marbles

    Ate/Eating/Will Eat?

    Fruit vendors over here wash them before displaying and that is why they go off very quickly. They'd have a longer shelf life if they let the end user wash them. The only survive until the next day even if I put them in the fridge. Strawberries grown in Pakistan aren't of great quality, since they aren't indigenous to the land and haven't really taken to the soil after all these years of local farming (unlike kinnows, which is a citrus fruit first farmed in the US but now the Indo-Pak region has the best quality kinnows in the world). But something is better than nothing. We only get strawberries for a couple of months in winter and then they are gone. I eat blueberries, raspberries, and other foreign berries only when I travel abroad, because we don't get them over here. We get cherries, mulberries, jamun, and bayr when in season. I don't know what you call bayr in English or even if there's a word for that. Another local berry from the family of raspberries is called "rass bhari" but they are a world apart from raspberries. Here endeth the lecture on berries