Kashmir in Los Angeles


Incorporate the good from other cultures and hold on to your roots. Change is inevitable but change for good. Become a blend of past and present so people will love and respect you for who you were and what you have become.” 

Last weekend was quite a fun ride for Kashmiris of Los Angeles. For the first time, we had a Kashmiri music concert here held on April 26th. Three singers from Kashmir—Bilal Ahmad, Irfan Nabi and Mehmeet Syed—burnt the stage down with their talent and  brought Kashmir to USA by their performance and presence. They were joined here by two extremely talented artists, Habib Wardak , an Afghan-American and George Lawler, an American from Chicago.

All of us were pretty excited about the event, but no one knew that it would be such an amazing experience. It was something I will remember and cherish for all times to come. I have been to many concerts and have watched world famous artists perform, but never have I seen the crowd so emotionally charged. They gave a mind blowing performance, which created a storm of emotions among the audience—some cried, some cheered while others joined them in their musical extravaganza with our traditional dance, Rouf. Four hours flew by like four minutes; the beat of their instruments and their melodious voices left everyone speechless. Most of the audience said that their magic took them back in time, which they cherish in their heart. Kashmir was everywhere in that room. They made us relive our childhood, reminded us of those little things that we all left behind in our beloved Kashmir many, many years ago. We thank them for that.

I can’t get over the song, “Yaar shube mubarak”. It keeps resonating in my mind. I even recorded it on my phone and keep hearing it over and over again. I feel these artists left too soon, as if we were not done. Our hearts wanted more and wanted the time to stop. To create such an extraordinary aura is not easy and can be done by only people who are truly gifted.

Irfan and Bilal sing traditional Kashmiri songs in a modern style, which is very appealing to the young crowd. Bilal plays harmonium, flute and tumbakh. Irfan plays guitar, and rhabab. Mahmeet is a popular vocalist from Kashmir and has performed in many music videos. Habib is a rhababist who mesmerized the audience with his talent. Habib travelled all the way to Kashmir to revive rhabab there. George Lawler is a well-known percussionist in USA and played tumbakk, providing a jaw-dropping performance. It was a perfect fusion of East and West.

All this was made possible by a wonderful women named Asmat Ashai. Many years back she realized that Kashmiri music, art and language were dying. She has dedicated herself to preserving and promoting the folk art, music, and language of the Valley of Kashmir. She runs an organization called Funkar International. I can’t thank her enough for making it possible for me to be a part of such a heartwarming experience and I along with many other Kashmiri Americans will cherish it for all times to come.

I cannot wait for these wonderful, talented young artist to come here again and recreate this magical experience for us. These artists are truly amazing and loaded with talent. My article doesn’t do justice to them; their talent is beyond words and comes at a time we need it the most. I wish them luck and I know they will spread joy and cheer wherever they go. I am sure they will inspire many youngsters in Kashmir.

We need more people like them and Asmat Ashai. Our culture is a very unique one and it is our responsibility to preserve it for our future generations. Internet and social media has made this world a small place. It has benefited us in million ways, but our culture is getting diluted. Kashmiri language is slowly seeing its last days. When I was young, my father once told me, “Incorporate the good from other cultures and hold on to your roots. Change is inevitable but change for good. Become a blend of past and present so people will love and respect you for who you were and what you have become.” 

What makes Kashmir different–its people, culture, language, music, food (Wazwan), things (like Kanger, Pheran, etc.) and so on. There are many more things that are exclusive to Kashmir. It is these little things that combine together to make us who we are. They slowly shape and define us.

Our job is to make sure that our children feel proud of their roots and incorporate those in them. I truly believe artists like Mahmeet, Bilal, Irfan and Habib will regenerate interest and inspire Kashmiri youth towards Kashmiri culture, art and language. I saw it last weekend when second generation Kashmiri kids in USA gave a standing ovation to these brilliant artists. They loved it and want them back as much as I do.

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Article by a mother that best describes the books.


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Helpful tips for parents.

Interview with Ilyasah Shahbazz

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While doing her daily chores, my mother fell. It was a minor fall but her foot looked swollen; so we took her to the doctor. She had fractured her foot at three places. Something was not right. How could a simple fall cause three fractures? Her doctor immediately ordered a bone density test. The test confirmed my fear…she was diagnosed with osteoporosis. I had been bugging her to get herself checked, but like any other mother her own health is on the bottom of her priority list.

So what is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone. The bones become weak and can fracture even with a minor fall. Osteoporosis really means ‘porous bone’. It can be caused by many reasons.

Osteoporosis in women is common after menopause and is called Primary Type 1 or Post Menopausal Osteoporosis. Primary Type 2 osteoporosis appears after the age of 75, equally in men and women.  Finally, Secondary Osteoporosis can occur at any age as a result of some medical problems and medications. I mainly want to focus on post menopausal osteoporosis in this article.

Our body has two sets of cells. One removes the old bone and other helps to rebuild the new bone. This keeps the bones strong and healthy. In early life, more bone is formed than lost. The maximum bone density is reached at around 30 years of age. After that, more bone is lost than rebuilt. In women, the drop of estrogen after menopause makes this process worse and drastically increases the rate of bone loss. This causes the bone to get weaker and weaker.

A frightening thing about osteoporosis is that it can creep on you slowly. It usually doesn’t get diagnosed until a fracture occurs, my mother being an excellent example. Under a microscope, parts of healthy bone look like a honeycomb. In osteoporosis, these holes and spaces are much bigger indicating that the bone has lost density or mass. The decrease in density makes bones weak and vulnerable to trauma. The bone can become so weak that minor injury can cause a fracture. The hip, spine, and the wrists are the most common areas of where a fracture will more likely occur. Many times, these fractures will compromise the quality of your life, especially hip and spine fractures. Micro fractures in the spine may lead to a decrease in height or a hunched back.

Decrease in bone density is inevitable in women after menopause, However, the good news is that early diagnosis and preventive measures can control the damage. Every woman needs to take calcium and vitamin D supplements, unless you have a health issue that contraindicates taking calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is the building block for bone and vitamin D helps absorb calcium. This will aid you in rebuilding new bone.

A bone density test should be a routine once a women hits menopause or the age of 50. You don’t have to let it come to a point where a fracture will lead to the diagnosis. Why wait so long? If you are a woman over 50 reading this article, get yourself checked.

Remember, hip or spine fractures can leave you bed-ridden. It will compromise the quality of your life. Prevention is better than a cure. Here are a few things that help osteoporosis patients and patients who may be at a risk of getting it:

-Regular intake of calcium and vitamin D supplement

-Regular exercise

-Balanced diet

-Avoiding falls if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis by making your house safe

If you do get diagnosed with osteoporosis there are a lot of treatment options available. Your doctor will decide the line of treatment. Take care of your health; it is the most important thing in life.

(This article is not intended to treat or diagnose osteoporosis but to help women identify the disease and the risks that come with it.)




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God Bless Our Parents

I had a light conversation with my friends yesterday and we were discussing how easy it is to spend and enjoy your parent’s money compared to your own. When you are growing up you often hear parents saying, “Wait till you start earning; you will not want to spend one rupee carelessly.” You almost hear yourself reply, “You have told me this a million times, can’t wait till I start earning, just to get you off my back and prove you wrong.”  Now, I have grown up and lived it. I hate to admit that it is true.

Back in the days, I used to spend money like it was growing on trees. I would lose books, pens, pencils and bag packs like there was no tomorrow. I do remember days when my mom would give me a new pen or pencil in the morning and by afternoon it was gone. I would see my mother’s frustration but would never really take it seriously. “It’s only a pen”, I would tell myself. My mother tried everything in her power to set me straight but in vain. When it was time to buy new clothes and accessories, I never worried about checking the price.  I failed to understand why my mother would not buy everything I wanted. God, it would make me so mad.

Then I went to a boarding school- the spending and losing habit continued. I would choose autos over public buses, loved eating out and buying clothes. I wanted new shoes and purses. Not to forget the dental instrument I needed for my dental studies; they are expensive. I would forget them in the class or laboratory. I would lend it to my friends and forget who I gave it to. In short, I must have bought the instruments, even the expensive ones, at least three to four times. I remember the day I asked for a camera and my mother insisted that I did not need it, but I convinced my father and got it. How ironic that I lost that too. It is a countless list. I would spend the money they sent for me and my sister. She would always give me what she had.

Now comes the second part, the part where I started earning. Let me start with the dental school. I had to buy the instruments again. I held on to those instruments like my dear life. I was the last one to leave the lab just because I wanted to make sure I did not forget anything. I have hardly ever bought anything before it went on sale. It is almost as if I have become a different person. If my friend saw me now they would probably say, “This is not the Humairah we know.”

This is true with everyone- you do spend more when you are using your parents money, some more than others. Why not! All you think of is how to spend the money, not paying schools fees, bills, building house, getting or losing a job and so forth. I guess God gave us childhood so we can have a phase of life without any stress, worries and responsibilities. Funny part is that when you are young, exams seem to be the biggest stress in your life. If only one knew what is coming next, we would appreciate it a little more.


Life brings us full-circle. I heard it somewhere that when we are kids, we want to be like our parents; when we grow up, we want to be nothing like them and when we are older, we are just like them. Ironic!

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Rh Factor in Pregnancy

Children are a gift from God. Everyone wants to be blessed with one, at some point of his or her life. Most people have kids without any problem but there are some who don’t have it easily. There could be lots of reasons for it. Rh factor can sometimes complicate a pregnancy. I wanted to make people aware because it could be avoided.

All of us have different blood groups. There are 4 blood groups- A, B, AB, and O. Apart from these is the Rh factor, which could be positive or negative. This is as important as your blood group. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant you must find out if you are Rh positive or negative.

If the woman is Rh negative and the partner is Rh positive. They can have a child with  Rh positive blood. Even though both mother and child have a separate blood system, sometimes their blood can mix up. This causes the mother to produce antibodies against the developing child.

The sensitized mother’s antibodies attack the developing baby’s blood cells and destroy them causing anemia. In severe cases, death can occur. Sensitization can also occur by blood transfusion or miscarriage.

As I mentioned before, this can be prevented. All you need is the right information. If you are planning to have children, find out if you are Rh negative; it just takes a blood test and then inform the gynecologist.  Your doctor will recommend usually two injections, the first one during your pregnancy and second within 72 hours after delivery. This injection minimizes the reaction of mother towards Rh positive cells. It may also be given after miscarriage and abortion.

Usually people don’t have complications during first pregnancy, but if care is not taken, the second time is usually hard. A small blood test can save you from lot of heartache. Like I always say, “A stitch in time saves nine.”

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Sam and the Sugar bug

My book, “Sam and the Sugar bug,” is now available in ibooks. It is a children’s book that teaches the importance of brushing to kid. Your child will fall in love with it. It educates kids in fun and easy way. The illustrations and the sound effects complete the book and bring it to life. This is the direct link to the book. Download an App iBooks and in iBooks search for, “Sam and the Sugar Bug.”  On Android you can download it free too, look for “Sam and the Sugar Bug,” in Google Play.


Here is a link to the preview video on YouTube.

Visit the facebook page to find out what others have to say about the book


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