Following Jesus Is Dangerous

Friday. So as I mentioned I had a nightmare Thursday night which came through on Friday. It was a rough day. I rented “Get Smart” that evening to wind down. It was okay. I was supposed to go to church that night for a special event but I just didn’t have the energy. I went to bed pretty early actually. I’m at church several times a week so if I miss one service it’s not so bad.

Saturday I drove my visiting uncle and gramma around town, while waiting in the car for 30 minutes at a time I would make very important business phone calls. None of them turned out good though. It was one rough conversation after another as the economy continues to slide south. My uncle hasn’t been in Canada since 2002. He’s aged a lot. His hair is thin and grey. Still looks handsome, just much older. Of course I could say the same thing about myself. I haven’t spent any real time with him since 1996 when we built a shelf together in my garage, so it was nice to be able to spend time with him now, after 12 years.

Sunday I woke up and did chores and got ahead on some work. I watched my new favourite tv show which is TERMINATOR: THE SARA CONNER CHRONICLES. I went to church to, that’s a given.

Monday night, which was last night, I went to church. Actually when I was about to leave I saw my uncle one last time, he was leaving to go to the airport so I gave him a hug, told him God bless you and I love you. It was good of me to say, and I do hope he saw some of the love of Jesus while he was here. He’s a Muslim and me converting to Christianity in 1997 caused a massive rift in my family. The rift gets worst as more of us convert and follow Jesus. I’m known as Asif the trouble maker. There are plenty of hard feelings. When I got to Monday church I looked stressed, sad, teary and red-eyed. Many people noticed actually, which lead to a lot of questions.

During service we had a guest band. One of the members of the band gave a testimony about one of his band mates. A young man who has an awful stutter, who has about 20 step siblings because his parents continue to get divorced and re-married. It was very inspirational. I was also agitated that a few of our young adults though that his pain and suffering was funny and they laughed. I want to reiterate that young adults are the worthless garbage of every church.

After service my friend Shannelle, told me about how our mutual friend Johnny, who is in a wheelchair, who can’t talk, walk, and can barely move his arms is almost finished law school. It blew my mind and it helped me to get out of bed this morning.

Today it’s back to work as usual. Time to really get to that next level in life. I’ve been here too long and I’ve gotten used to all the wrong things.

Enjoying My Weekends Again

Yesterday I took gramma and to walmart and then the flea market, it was nice to see her walking around and enjoying herself.

My New Car Is Held Together By Duct Tape And I Don’t Care

Yayyy. I have a car. Well, if you can call it that. Friday I went to south Mississauga and picked up the car, and when I got to the dealership a massive snowstorm started, making about 30 – 45cm of snow. Just my luck. The car is clearly a fixer upper. It’s being held together by duct tape and the former owner obviously didn’t take care of it as evidence of the banana peel under the seat. The car is 10+ years old and it shows. It’s not going to last forever but I’ll spend time cleaning up and fixing up as much of it as possible and use it as long as I have it because I am extremely and completely grateful for this blessing.

Saturday I woke up and did my chores, I missed the missions convention because the roads were awful with snow. Also my car wouldn’t start hahaha.

Sunday morning I woke up, we boosted my car, I went to walmart to do some errands, I came back home, did some chores, went to lunch where I got to meet my cousin Francesca, I didn’t get to talk to her cause my sis (who makes friends easily) talked the afternoon away with her and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, even though I was sitting at the same table. I might as well have been invisible.

After, we drove sis home to Waterloo and Dana and J met us at her apartment and I finally got to introduce everyone to each other. This is the thing, so many important people in my life haven’t met other important people in my life and I think it’s always going to be that way. Maybe it’s better that way. J told us about his adventures as a missionary in Indonesia. When I got home I made a money order for my storage payment which is overdue and dropped it off, then I went back to moms house to get food they were giving me, which I’m extremely grateful for during these hard times. When I got home my roommates were having a heated fight over toilet paper. Toilet paper that I purchased.

Asif The Monkey

Shan’s husband asked me to help her get a job so I’ve been going with her to different places recommending her. Tonight she came home and told me about a job she applied for on her own, she said it like this: “Asif, they wanted a reference so I wrote Asif the monkey.” I laughed at her and told her that they would not hire her for that very reason.

They did hire her though, they thought it was hilarious.

Nice To Get A Smile In Here And There

Gramma told me that she used to drive a car a long time ago, like in the 50’s. Yes, my gramma used to drive a car. And she told me of such adventures as the time she drove the car (standard transmission) up a hill and it was stuck sideways and people had to push it back on the ground, and the time she drove it into a ditch. She says it in such a carefree way I’ve never heard her talk before, and when she talked about it she sounded as if she was 17 years old again, with hopes and dreams and possible romances to look forward to. I guess that’s where heaven comes in, God’s restoration of every good thing that He first created for us to enjoy, the things that on earth are fleeting – are eternal in heaven.

The Phone Rings Every Hour On The Hour

Saturday around 2am the phone rang. Mom got back from the Dominican Republic, when they got home, there was a message on their answering machine that shook them. The previous Monday, Freddy’s mom, 82, had a heart attack and died in her home. We got ready for what I thought was the funeral, however the lady, Franca was buried on Thursday. We visited the crypt where she was placed in a wall covered with marble. I saw Freddy and sis for the first time in like 10 months, time sure flies.

Last night I went to sleep at 5:30pm and woke up at 7am. Of course one of my annoying housemates was banging on my door around 7:30pm and my other housemate (Shan) was calling me repeatedly around 10:30pm. I can’t catch a break here, everyone needs me for something.

The Circumcision of Asif Zamir

I remember it vividly. I was 4 years old. It was Guyana, South America. I was living at my grandmothers house which was built in the 50’s for $500 USD. The house sat upon tall stilts because the rainy season would bring floods that would wash away houses and farms. Several of our neighbors houses were washed away and were simply piles of sticks they lived in. You could walk clearly under the house, which was dirt floors. Red ants would crawl up your legs and bite you hard, it would hurt. I like to ride my tricycle which was from the city dump. My uncle made 2 wooden rear wheels for it because we couldn’t find the wheels when we took the trike. We had lot of chickens and a goat. Once in a while the neighbors cows would break into our property and scare me, mooing loudly. Wild South American foxes and dogs would get in our property and kill our animals. More than one were killed with an ax.

One day I was minding my own business playing, and I was invited inside and asked to lay on the bare floor, which I did with a giggle at first. Then 2 cute ladies held me down, each one holding both an arm and a leg. The doctor (I would hope he was a doctor) removed my pants and underwear and grabbed hold of my wiener. That’s when I started to panic. I mean I really started to panic. I tried my damn hardest to get free and run away but they had a good grip on me. I even threatened to beat the women up. I tried making up an excuse that I needed to go relieve myself. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what this guy was trying to do to me. Living in Guyana, in our town, part jungle, part farmland, you had to become street smart fast. People would be killed in the street and bad things would happen all the time. Kids would be killed or go missing walking to school in the morning.

You could pay a hit-man $200 USD to kill someone, far cheaper than the rates in Canada. I saw a lot in Guyana. But I had never seen anything like this. The doctor (I really hope he was a doctor) circumcised me. I felt the initial cut and screamed probably as loud as I ever remember screaming.

No pain medicine, no anesthesia. Not even a comfortable bed to lay on. When he was done I was to tired to fight. I went to sleep or fainted or something. When I came to, I got up and walked around in severe pain. What the hell just happened? I was minding my own business, living my life, doing what I do and all of a sudden I’m in this brand new situation.

Fast forward to today and I don’t remember the circumcision as a negative event, but a positive one. The doctor (I no longer care if he was a doctor) did a really, really great job. I remember the pain, and the suffering and lack of hope and it helped to mold me into a man today. This is exactly how I feel today. I wake up, have my bible time, prayer time, worship time, I go to work, run my errands, go to church, come home and eat dinner, do my prayers and go to sleep. I’ve acted with good will and in good faith towards everyone and yet all of a sudden, I’m in this brand new situation. Everything that can collapse has collapsed in 2007. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for me in 2007.

This year I worked everyday. I pushed myself harder than ever. I put in at least 1,000 hours of useful volunteer work. I reached hundreds and maybe thousands of precious souls for Jesus and participated in a small handful of quality missions projects that saved lives. I did the best I could, but it wasn’t enough. Church ministry went well, but work was a nightmare.

If I told you every bizarre event that happened to me in previous years, you might believe me because there were logical explanations for each situation.

But this year there are no logical explanations. Everything that can go wrong in life has gone wrong. Loss of money, friends, even self respect. In December of 2005 I had less than $400,000 in debt and a decent income. Today as I write this I’m in $3,000,000 of debt and my income is almost $0. None of my clients can pay me, there is talk all over about a deep recession worldwide. I’m suffering from a slight depression that I’m sure will catch up to me and kick my ass.

And yet in a way, I’m moving forward as planned.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. – Exodus 14:15

Anne of Green Gables

Sis told me that she read the 9 books of the Anne of Green Gables series 10 years ago! She would have only been 11 years old. I’m 28 and I’m just now reading them. That girl never ceases to impress me. I don’t know why I packed the book, of all the important things I took with me, I guess I accidentally threw it into a garbage bag and brought it with me.

January and I’m Already Tired

On Friday my sister came home from school for a few days. I picked her up and then we picked up Mason and Eggbert and went to church. At church we had a fun service with worship and prayer and discussions. After we all came back to my place for a sleepover. Mason fasted from food Wed / Thur / Fri and I fasted Thur / Fri. Eggbert fasted Fri.

We watched a movie and went to bed. I slept in the kitchen and pretended I was in a space ship. The next morning I woke up and did my prayers, I made them all toast, eggs, sausages, pancakes. We then went to A&P and purchased $70 in ingredients, then bake lots of goodies for the church bake sale. I don’t believe in church bake sales, they aren’t a good idea. You spend more money on the products than you bring in. In my opinion, just give the money to church.

After we relaxed and watched some tv, ate roti and curry for dinner that we got from Bramalea City Centre. We showered and I took a nap.

Around 930pm (Yes the day went FAST) we went to watch a movie at the theatre, something I rarely do these days. Sis and Eggbert watched something with Hillary Swank (Freedom Writers) and Mason and I watched The Hitcher which is a horror. Don’t know how girls watch such boring movies. Around 1am we drove them home, and went home.

Sunday I dropped sis off to school in Waterloo and then went off to church. I took the LONG way unfortunately so it took forever.

When I got there we had a nice service, and then we sold our $70 in goodies for like $30. LOL. Church math.

$1 Million Cash On My Coffee Table But I Rather Have Jesus

Overall, I didn’t make a profit this year. One business made money but the other lost, one investment went up and the other went down. When everything is all said and done, I lost money. I won’t know how much until an accountant preps my books but I’m sure it’s at least 5 figures. I worked like a dog. I worked all day. I took only a few days off. I pushed and pushed but it just seems like things didn’t work out. I’m exhausted.

Some of my notable 2006 expenses:
– $4,054 food
– $3,259 travel
– $3,086 banking
– $5,078 phone

Add that all up, multiply by 10 and I gave slightly more than that to outreach, evangelism, missions and new churches this year. Unfortunately I didn’t save anything, and I have a bad feeling about that.

So lets end this on a super happy note.

As I started driving out to Guelph for Dana’s wedding, it dawned on me again how fast life flies by. I met Dana online in 2002. We’ve become the best of online friends since then and met in real life in 2006. We only spent a little bit of time together in person, but hundreds of hours chatting online.

Dana’s dad and mom are pastors and missionaries. They’ve been all over the world saving lives. Their family and friends are missionaries as well. This kind of thing means the world to me. Dana grew up on the mission field and it’s molded who she is today.

The long drive to her city was a bit tiring for me, and I’ve done the drive many times to visit my sister at school. When I got to the church my jaw dropped, partially because from the outside it looked like it was sinking into the ground, partially because it looked like it was 1,000 years old. It was covered in beautiful wood and stone.

I met J for the very first time but I heard about him from Dana a lot. J’s family are also missionaries and J has been all over, especially Indonesia where he tells me his hobbies included swinging from vines in the jungle like Tarzan. I setup my camcorder and camera equipment and recorded the short and beautiful wedding ceremony. After, I gave Dana and J their hugs and went about my life for a few hours while the professional photographer took photos.

The reception was in a beautiful updated community centre. When I got to the reception we did more videotaping, we ate the most delicious foods from all over the world (seems like almost everyone was a missionary so they knew about all the different kinds of foods from all the different cultures). It wasn’t catered, people from all over the world cooked food. I had some delicious basmati rice with red curry. Most of the people there were white but collectively they had done church ministry work everywhere worldwide. The food was beyond amazing. The fact that a white person made curry better than brown people made me think.

I walked around and talked to men and women, children and adults, young and old. Many people were simply on break from a 2 year mission trip. Some were heading back to the airport in a few days to start a new mission trip or continue one. One young man told me he won’t be going into missions. “I’m going into business, someone has to stay here and pay for these missionaries to go do what they do, someone has to provide the money, it doesn’t grow on trees you know.” hahahaha! A man after my own heart. He was currently in business school and everyone in his family were full time missionaries. I had a good conversation with him. I talked to teen girls who weren’t into the latest pop music or celebrities but instead talked endlessly about 3rd world villages being transformed by the salvation message of Jesus. Can we trade some of these teens with our spoiled brat teens?

After the reception was over, I helped pack away the reception hall as is my custom, and to my shock all of the young people helped as well – without being asked. They were picking up and packing the folding tables themselves and doing it more efficiently than me. I was amazed and remembered again that missionaries have a lot to teach us. These kids aren’t concerned with what they can get for Christmas, but what they can give. I work with teens everyday and I’ve been trying and trying to teach them these values.

I said my farewells to everyone after it started getting late and I drove home that night in amazement of God. Even right now as I type this, I’m just floored. All those missionaries, in one room at the same time. If we could get them to stay in one city of Canada for 2 years they would transform the city. It’s one reason I’m happy to go overboard funding missions work.

On a silly note, while at the reception I was also honored to be the only colored person there. Everyone was white except for me. That is until 4 of Dana’s friends from school showed up late who were brown and black. After everything was finished I sat down with them and we all laughed about how cool it is to be a minority sometimes, especially when everyone else is so nice.

You know what, I can’t stop talking or thinking about this. I met over 100 amazing missionaries, yes I counted over 100 and talked to almost every one of them. I walked around the room shaking peoples hands and introducing myself. Dana’s whole family are missionaries for life and so are J’s. People of all ages, all educations, all kinds of skill sets, who have collectively been to almost every country in the world representing Jesus. Countries I’ve never even heard of! It was one of the most amazing experience for me to be in their presence.

Let me explain this better:

I was 17 years old. Summer. It was approaching evening. I had a home office packed with regular customers. The doorbell rang. 2 large black men came inside. They didn’t say a word. Both were carrying a Price Chopper grocery bag in each hand. 4 bags in total. They emptied the bags in front of me, on my fake wood coffee table.

$100 and $50 bills, Canadian, American and Euro currency. I stacked that money into separate piles of $30,000 each. It was so much I had to call my friend Steve to help. Steve was in the other room (my home office) dealing with some of our clients. When he saw the pile of money he was literally speechless. I mean literally. I thought he was going to faint. He stuttered a few words and then started counting. Steve’s been my buddy since grade 3.

We made over 30 piles, and counted almost $1 Million in cash. We sat there, looking at the money like it was a super hot girl. After we finished doing that, we packed the money neatly in a suitcase and rolled it over to the bank. The lady at the bank snapped at me saying “this line is for business only.” When we opened the suitcase a bit to show her, her mouth opened up so big I thought I could fit my head inside. Because of the sum of money some paperwork had to be done to make sure everything was in order, then we deposited the money just like we were depositing a paycheck for $400. Most of the money was then wired to Germany. When I got back home I logged into my dial up internet access, using my Cyrix 686 with 32mb of RAM and sent an email to a German company: “Hi, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Asif Zamir, and I’ve just wired you $XXX,XXX.XX Please send the shipping container(s) to this shipping port and address…”

I should take a moment to mention the following:
– the whole thing was completely legitimate and fully legal
– nothing illegal was going on
– i never have that kind of cash in my home
– the cash wasn’t mine
– the shipping containers were filled with food-commodities going to a developing country to be sold at retail.
– cash was being used because the business owners involved were used to dealing with only cash. Later on they switched to more updated payment methods.
– it only sounds very shady when I talk about it

Needless to say, that was an interesting day for me, a 17 year old boy. But this day, this wedding of my great friend Dana and the reception where I met and talked to and prayed with 100 missionaries, and having some of them pray over me – and hearing about hundreds of thousands of souls being won for Jesus, about communities being changed and lives being completely healed, about the expansion of the faith and hundreds of new church plants doing well – this is truly more amazing to me than all the money in the world.

Summer is better when you’re a kid

Sunday sis is moving away to school again. Remember last year in the dorms? This year she’ll be in her own apartment with 5 roommates. I hope it will be great for her. I gave her a long lecture today while driving, about organization and being responsible. She HATES my lectures and you should see the ugly faces she makes when I’m lecturing her. Meanwhile I have clients who pay me just for my lectures. Well, sort of. I’m concerned that a larger and larger percentage of my clients aren’t able to pay me this year as the economy is starting to turn sour. Monday is labor day. Mason and Eggbert are moving back after 2 full years.

No African People At African Lion Safari

Ah – another relaxing weekend! Friday the 11th I cut out of work around 6pm to do some quick errands. Friday was definitely a stressful day for me because there are always a lot of errands. I relaxed and watched some TV, and had a shot of whisky. Right now I’m drinking almost a whisky a day, which I don’t approve of. I can’t believe I’m doing it and don’t know when it started.

On Saturday I took the family to African Lion Safari. I’ve never been there before, actually none of us have been here before.

We got to African Lion Safari and enjoyed some birds, lions, baboons, ostriches, rhino, bison and not to mention the gift shops and some extremely overpriced food. My sister got a neat fake tattoo on her lower back, and I’d like to take a moment to mention that if she ever got a real tattoo we would beat her. I made it clear to her that real tatoos are for white girls, brown girls must only get fake tatoos. And I then ate the worst snow cone I’ve ever had.

Sunday morning we went to Zets on Airport to eat some breakfast and catch up. Zets pretty much has the best food in that area, try their steak.

Decent Weekend

I had a really nice weekend. It’s Monday now, but Saturday morning I woke up, made a good breakfast, then showered and left for Freddy’s niece’s confirmation party. The Catholics are always looking for a reason to party lol. We drove for about 2 hours in traffic because of a rain storm and corresponding accident. When we got there it was a bit weird at first because of all of the 50+ people I didn’t know, just sitting around tables chatting in Italian. We sat down, met some people and then ate for about an hour. Okay, let me say this – us brown people, maybe have 5 things at our feasts and all involve curry. These Italians, probably had 65 delicious food items. I walked around for about an hour to burn off some calories, then we sat outside for about an hour, then I came back inside for about an hour, having conversations with different people.

I even saw a young lady that looked just like Lorili Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls!

We stayed about 4 hours and then left, driving towards Casino Rama. When we got there I decided to spend about $40 (I ended up spending $60). I won nothing.

What surprised me about that casino was that there is a high roller room, where you can do a max bet of $300 per spin on a slot machine! One guy had about $4000 and was doing $60 spins at a time.

Anyway, after that we left and drove home. We had some really good conversations and it was fun. We got home and went to sleep.

On Sunday I relaxed most of the day, but put in a good 8 hrs doing laundry, chores and the dreaded – computer reformat. I finally upgraded to Windows XP. About 4 years after everyone else. I still miss Windows 3.11

Today I’m just dreading my work. Working, and dreading it! Nothing is going right. From broken down computers to orders gone missing to stupid stupid employees who are doing mostly the wrong things, I’m just not succeeding.

I love buffets

I woke up, had a small breakfast, showered and left around 10:30am. Mom, Freddy, sis and I drove to London Ontario and arrived around 12:30 only to find Eggbert was working till 2! How annoying. She told us to be there at 12. Well anyway we drove around a bit doing some sight seeing and hit a huge hail storm. I got it all on video camera.

We went to Mason’s around 2:20pm and sis worked on Eggbert’s hair until 5pm while we all chatted with her family. My hair takes 5 minutes to do, why a girls hair takes so long, I don’t know and I don’t care. We spent the time reminiscing.

Around 5pm we took some photos of Eggbert and then left. From 5-7 we drove home having some good conversations but I know some of us were getting headaches from all the driving.

We went home, I washed my face and then left to pickup Lauren and Jordyn. We brought them home to my mom’s place where we all ate a delicious lasagna dinner while Jordyn had fun running around. She was a bit fussy because it was way past her bed time. I remember when Jordyn was still learning to wiggle around on the ground, here she is walking and running and she knows a few words here and there.

We talked, took photos and video, played with Jordyn and played piano, sang songs. We tried to watch a movie (Derailed, 2005) however Jordyn was too fussy. So Mason and I took Lauren and Jordyn home. We spent some time at Lauren’s which was fun. I thought to myself – it’s been about 2 years since we’ve done this. We used to hang at her place all the time. As life goes on, these kinds of things happen less and less.

Mason and I left, picked up my sis and we went home, and slept. Mason slept over.

June 4:
Church, then lunch at a Chinese buffet. After some more good conversation mom and Freddy left for Lakeshore and Mason and I dropped sis at Joanne’s house. Mason and I drove home, where I showered and had to do a work phone call. Anyway, we started driving around, and we went downtown Toronto to do some sight seeing. Unfortunately everything was closed, and at the the last minute we decided to visit his new college campus. We had just enough time to drive back down Young Street, eat a sausage and then see Mason back on the bus towards London.

It took me a good hour to drive home as usual, but I got to listen to some fantastic songs on the car radio. Some jungle songs I haven’t heard in about 10 years. It brought back good memories.

Purple Bruises

I watched a scary movie the other night called Wolf Creek. I was sleeping and having a nightmare that zombies had taken over the world. During this my sister was actually poking me in the face with a spatula, and I woke up and thought she was a zombie trying to kill me. I screamed and I karate chopped her in the leg so hard she has a big purple bruise.

She was merely trying to ask me if I wanted pancakes for breakfast. Oops.


I’m just struggling a lot more this year. Actually in 2005 and 2004 there wasn’t much struggle at all. It’s like I took a wrong turn somewhere.

My income is going lower and lower, clients just either don’t need a consultant or the clients I have are paying very late or not at all. Several of the cheques I’ve received have bounced already this year.

I haven’t compensated by reducing my missions giving yet but I’m afraid I’ll have to very soon. I’m helping some people with college which is costing a fortune but I don’t want to stop doing that at all. There are all sorts of expenses related to that. Cell phone bills, bus tickets, housing, miscellaneous school fees, books on top of books. In the back of my mind I know how ungrateful young people can be, one day they’ll forget me and everything I did, but I promised that if they work hard and sty out of trouble I’ll help them through college. My accountant says I should simply register my whole life as a non profit lol. Sometimes I think he’s serious.

My sister just upset me by asking why I never have money for myself, when I just gave her $800 for her rent a few minutes prior.

Last night my sis and I drove to Richmond Hill to visit a man we call Plummy. It’s not his real name, I don’t know why we call him that. I remember when I was about 6 years old, Plummy and my step-dad, around the same age were both working at an auto parts company. We all went to the company pick nick and Plummy picked me up to go do one of the games for prizes. I was very shy, because my parents taught me no social skills and destroyed any skills I did have with hard beatings. I bit Plummy really hard in protest. I mean really really hard. Looking back I really feel bad about it as he was just being nice.

Well anyway, yesterday we went there to see him, and he lives in a 4000+ square foot house. Way too much space for his family. And him and his wife were sitting beside each other looking young and happy, rubbing hands as if they were teens in love.

As I drove home with my sis we talked about what life would have been like if we had a stable family home. Just normal everyday life in stead of complete Hollywood movie-like insanity everyday. Everyday was chaos. Anyway, what’s done is done says my sis. Her words. I just can’t help but to wonder.

Albion Mall

Albion Mall is one of my favorite malls for one reason: super cheap clothes. My mom complained that I have no problem signing over all my money to church or missions work but when it comes to my own wardrobe, I’m trying to spend less than $10 on an outfit. She’s right. And Albion Mall is where I like to get my wardrobe. Mostly track suits.

Albion Mall also has best tuna on bagel for $4.50. Sis and I went to a south Mississauga heritage site to see a beautiful house that’s over 100 years old. It has soaring 12ft ceilings and plenty of original items from the house including bathroom supplies. I wonder how it would be like to live in Canada back then. The products in the medicine cabinet are neat and not much different from what we have today; the labels are full of hype. The basement has an old washing machine contraption where you put your clothes in and squeeze, which is amazing because even though it’s 100 years old, it’s still more advanced than what the rest of the world has today. In Guyana we use a washboard to this day haha.

The beds were angled so your head would be higher than your feet and the tour guide told us that back then, doctors said this was better for your health. I might try it.

Welcome 96, I mean 2006

I remember my sister and I watching tv on January 1 1996, singing along with the Indian tv hosts “welcome 96, welcome 96”. It’s been 10 years since then. Time flies by so fast.

My consulting work is really up and down, it’s so different from the stability of the past few years. Everyone’s saying that the economy is turning sour but it’s too early to tell. I partnered up with a really neat camera store in Mississauga that is going out of business. They already have a shaky reputation so I have a lot of work to do. I’ll take over almost every aspect of the business and hopefully it will turn a good profit when I’m done. A four paged contract, that’s all it took to buy the place. It’s got 450 or more really great regular customers who regularly buy but also what seems to be 175 unhappy customers with unresolved complaints. I’m trying to save the thing. Moving it online, getting away from the brick and mortar store to increase the profit margins. I’m doing the emails, the phone calls, the buying, and sometimes the shipping. I’m focusing on core products instead of all the other stuff that simply takes up space. This is going to be a challenge but I’m sure I can make this great.

Jesus vs Satan. Jesus Wins

This month I gave really nice furniture to a nice family from Newfoundland who live in Mississauga. A beautiful canopy bed for a girl, also a girls dresser, wall paintings, etc. You should have seen the excitement on her cute little face as I assembled the bed, I had to put the mattress on before I was finished so she could jump on it as soon as possible. Afterward her father showed me some great photos of his home town in Newfoundland and we had a beer, which is a tradition in Newfoundland. Actually I think 10 beers is the tradition, but I left it at one.

Any way, to the main story. In life, everyone will take a beating one way or another. Some people will get a few more beatings than others. Some beatings are physical, some emotional, some metaphoric. Some will get all different kinds. I got all different kinds and I got many of them.

When we lived at Brandon Gate, when I was exactly 11 years old, I took one such beating. I’ve had many beatings in my life than ended with blood and cuts and scars, but I remember this one a lot. I’ll remember this one for a long time.

Now let me paint the picture for you, at that time in life I was working part time, bringing in good money. I remember quietly setting aside a few bucks each month to buy a radio controlled car from Radio Shack. My neighbor was selling his gas powered radio controlled car but I couldn’t afford it, but I purchased a decent battery powered model from Radio Shack. I had to hide it in my room, in a hidden compartment I setup behind my desk. My parents had a decent grasp on my income and realized something was wrong with my account balance. I showed them the car, received a grounding for buying something for myself and it was sent to Guyana to more needy children. I explained that where we were sending it, they didn’t even have the electricity to charge the battery. I was helping them pay their car payments but I couldn’t have a toy car for myself. Story of my life.

I went to school, got decent grades (okay maybe that’s a stretch) and stayed out of trouble for the most part (that’s definitely a stretch). I did my chores, went to the mosque as ordered. Okay okay, I used to take their cars out for drives here and there. Just up and down Goreway drive and Brandon Gate and Morning Star and Airport Road. Why not, after all I was helping make the monthly payments, and it sure was more fun than a radio controlled car.

One day, after a long day at school, my step dad asked me to prepare soup for my sister, he couldn’t do it because that would cut into his beer time. I prepared the soup the wrong way (I didn’t add the can of water to her chicken noodle soup). In my defense I had to hurry and finish my chores and then get to work at my job and then finish my homework. I lied about my age to get a paper delivery job with the Toronto Sun and I could earn more money by signing up new subscribers so I spent hours each day knocking on doors saying “hello would you like to subscribe to the Sunday Sun?” It was a terrible sales pitch with less than a 1% success rate but my route was close to 100 subscribers.

While I was on my knees scrubbing the floor with a brush, my beating started. Now in past years I would scream and cry and beg for mercy, peeing on myself and sometimes trying to run. But this time around I took my beating, no tears, no shame. I was being punched in the head mostly. Punch after punch, not one tear but my voice was shaky.

I was beaten so hard I couldn’t stand up. Have you ever been punched in the head so hard that your ears rang, and your vision was blurred for days after? If not, then you’ve never been punched. Part way through this life lesson, I looked up at him and said with great emotion “I’m growing everyday, one day I will kill you.” It sobered him up right away because he knew it was very true. He said something along the lines of “I know”.

After I finished my chores I went about my work knocking on doors. I didn’t sign on even one new customer.

Less than year later they divorced and we moved a few roads down. When I was 12 I went to the Malton library and took out a few books about Karate. I would practice as much as I could each day. By age 13 I would fulfill one of my life long dreams, I studied Kung Fu at a really good martial arts school. Before you could join, you had to be interviewed by the main instructor. He was extremely impressed with what I had already learned just from books alone.

I had to save like crazy to afford it, it wasn’t cheap. And I had to take the bus a long way and come home really late. It wasn’t easy with all my responsibilities. There was this time when mom left for like 4 or 5 weeks at least, without telling us anything. She just upped and left and we knew better than to report her missing or go look for her, we knew she’d be back eventually. I was working at pickwicks potatoes at the time. I trained really hard, but it was hard carrying the family and doing school as well. Nevertheless I trained hard and I learned fast.

Training was awesome. Sometimes we trained in the dark, blindfolded, one on one, 3 on one, one person holding you down while another beats you. We would train after a hard workout and simulate different scenarios. We would learn how to take a beating. At home I trained as hard as I could including striking wood boards to harden up my knuckles and shins. My hands and feet would bleed and blister up badly, but we had to learn how to handle pain, to embrace it, to love it, to use it to our advantage. I became obsessed with hand to hand combat. I read every book, every magazine. I watched as many martial arts movies ever, usually going to obscure video stores to get them.

My teacher would have to partner with me during sparring because nobody else wanted to – I would give hard beatings to people twice my size, and they could punch and kick me all they wanted, I wouldn’t even flinch. After a few years my Kung Fu teacher would use me as the final opponent during tests and I wouldn’t let any one pass. I remember this one man, he was in his 30’s, I was in my teens. I was in the 90lb range, he was pushing 190. He was taller than me (most people are) and he thought he would have an easy pass. Smiling at me, I smiled back. I let him hit me several times then I kicked him in the side of his head like it was nothing. I felt bad for him when he failed, I felt even worst when he cried in the change room. He was an adult man, crying the way I cried when I was a child.

My instructor put extra effort into me. One of his concerns was that I could easily go to the dark side and become a bad guy. He would even drive me home sometimes, giving me wisdom about self control. I returned the favor by helping him promote his school on the internet which was a baby at the time.

In high school I would hold sort of “fight clubs” here and there. At first at the school but then some teachers caught on and gave me a lecture about insurance, so we would do it at different houses. My shop teacher introduced me to his veteran buddy who fought in world war 2 (to my recollection). I still remember the introduction in my mind. It was during shop class and went something like this:

Teacher: “Asif, meet my friend, he fought in this war, he knows 100 ways to kill a man.”
Asif: “Sir, please teach me everything you know.”

I would hang out with them both as much as I could. One time I kicked the crap out of a guy in the school locker room, this other guy who was already a black belt saw and challenged me and I quickly beat him too. Another time I dropped off a friend at one of those cool-people parties and when I was about to leave this big guy challenged me. It took me maybe 30 seconds to put him on the ground. I made a name for myself. The girl who lived at the party house invited me to go jogging with her, and I would end up teaching self defense to some high school girls at someones basement. Honestly if my life had a highlight reel, this would be in there somewhere.

After years of hard and faithful training, rising up in the ranks one belt at a time, I was in the black belt club, and I concluded my training when I was a young adult. I was proud of my martial arts training. Even wearing my uniform in public, even at church. It was a lifelong dream to do martial arts and I busted my butt to pay for it. From start to finish, I did it. If I had a different life I might have opened my own martial arts school, specifically a woman’s self defense class.

Many years later, instead of giving my step dad the beating (or worse) that I promised him as a child, I gave him a hug and a Bible and we became real friends.

Jesus is able to arrange that kind of thing. No other gods can do it.

My mom saves lives

I have a funny memory of this one day when I was working at pickwicks potatoes. I was around 12 or 13 years old and to my recollection I earned $3 or $3.25 per hour and did 10 hours on Saturday and 10 on Sunday on top of my other responsibilities. This one morning after I completed the setup including brewing a fresh pot of coffee, the smell filled the building and it drew a lot of coffee lovers our way. Several ladies approached me and I said “Good morning how can I help you?” or something like that, in the most vibrant and enthusiastic manner possible. It was over the top to say the least. I don’t know why I was so enthusiastic, life wasn’t going super well for me at home. But these 2 ladies each grabbed one of my arms and pulled at me in opposite directions, while saying to my boss “can we keep him?”.

Today I feel the same way. Everyone wants something from me. One person wants me to do this, another wants me to do that. Nobody remembers the 1,500 times I’ve said yes to them, only the 1 time I said no. To some people you can be an angel one moment and a demon the next. Those people are unstable and I try to keep them out of my life.

My mom had a bunch of supplies she wanted me to to pickup and deliver to an address in Malton, people I had never met before. When I took the stuff over, mostly clothing and food, the family told me that my mom saved their life. Later in the week I was in Shoppers Drug Mart and someone approached me, a lady, “are you so-and-so’s son?” yup I said. They then went on about how great my mom was and how she helped save their life to. When I see people I know anywhere, the conversation usually goes something like this:

Someone: Hey Asif!
Asif: Hi, it’s nice to see you.
Someone: How’s your mom, tell her to call me, I need some advise.
Asif: Thanks I’m doing great.

A new method of pooing

In Guyana, at least when I was there and at my home and my neighborhood, there was no running water and no toilets. Our house was built on tall stilts because of constant flooding and the ground floor was dirt. No not dirty, it was made out of dirt. No tile, no carpet. South American ants would crawl on my leg and bite. My neighbors had mud floors and his house was made of basic sticks you could just look through. His children were usually completely naked outside. We used chamber pots kept under our bed and in the backyard there was an outhouse made of wood, with a wood bench with a hole in it.

One time we were visiting my aunt’s house. It was in a more modern city in Guyana with electricity, running water, even a radio! I wanted to use the bathroom and so I went looking for a chamber pot under all the beds but couldn’t find one. I even walked into her bathroom which had a modern toilet, a sink, a shower and I had no idea what those things were, I had never seen any of that before. I was 4 years old but I remember it so clearly. At my house we had barrels in the backyard that collected rain water, that would be our water for drinking and bathing. Any way I ended up just doing a big poo on my aunt’s bedroom floor. Then I went and told her what I did, she wasn’t happy.

Today I found out that the squat method of pooing is actually an old method still used in most of the world. I’m trying it for 6 months. You should try it to, it’s better for your digestion and colon health. You basically don’t sit on the toilet, you put your feet up on the seat. Use yahoo and search for the squat method and you can read a lot of interesting articles about the health benefits. Read the articles from medical professionals and testimonials from people. To your health!

I know a guy who’s wife spends $250,000 a month on herself

Most of my high school friends who graduated and went to college in the traditional sense are currently either unemployed, or employed and just barely making it or hating it. My other friends are in their 30’s and 40’s and still paying off student loans. I met one of my good former schoolmates and he went into engineering. I asked him why he did that, and he said that the high school counselor told him to. I asked him if it’s what he always wanted to do, he said no, he doesn’t know what he wants to do. He will be designing the bridges that we will all be driving on. He’s a good guy though. My point in saying this is that I really hate the rat race of life.

In both middle school and high school people started to really separate into groups (or clubs as I call them). You had the party girls, the dope smokers, the nerds and the loners to name a few. I wanted to be a loner but I would always end up being the leader of the nerds (and some times a loner). The party girls would sleep with as many people as possible and then boast about it during class. The dope smokers would usually be high and had a passion for video games. The nerds weren’t noble either. They would hack into the schools computer systems to look around and learn more about computers, we wouldn’t do mischief or cause harm, and we let our teachers know how to patch up these security flaws. There was this one time I was trying to impress a group of nerds so I set the libraries computers to sort of auto destruct upon boot up, but before anything bad happened I realized how stupid this was and undid everything before anything happened.

Instead, I ended up upgrading many of the schools computers in a way that completely delighted the school plus saved them tons of money. The staff was very happy with me. I enlisted my nerd friends to do a lot of good in my high school. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff anymore. I was an expert for a brief period of time and now I’m a beginner again, I don’t care to know anything about computers anymore, other than how to get my work done on them. I’m usually several software updates behind.

I’m still friends with some of the teachers and staff. Today I was talking to one of the previous staff members from high school, we were recounting some of my antics. He told me that he still talks about me to his circle of friends and colleagues – good stuff, mostly. I was in the food court of the mall today and one of the old nerd friends of mine asked if I could do some consulting for him. I hadn’t seen him since high school, but he walked up to me like we were still there. In a way I wish I was.

Any way, back to my talk about clubs – no club is perfect, but you’ll end up in one so choose wisely or you’ll have many regrets later on. One thing I’m glad of is that I never got into the cool people club. I hung out with them once or twice, but thankfully no more than that. Looking at them today, none of them have done anything with their lives.

In the year 2000 I was a member of an investment club, monthly membership was about $500. I think we had about 100 members. We would meet online at 8am, and have the chat window at the side of the screen. Some of these guys were geniuses. I witnessed a guy
make a 2,000% return in about 3 months and one guy claimed to make 12,000% in one year but we didn’t have any proof. Most people were conservative, aiming for 10% gains per month. I saw their stock trades. I saw what they were doing. I saw the buy orders and sell orders live on the exchange.

Around lunch time, trader all over take a break and you’d see the trading volume on the exchanges drop off. We use this time to relax and chat a bit, getting to know each other. I would catch up on studying mostly. One of my friends in the club said that his wife spends $250,000 USD per month on herself, every month. Month after month, year after year. Clothing, travel, fancy parties, jewelery. That’s how she lived and why he he was compelled to continue to work. Others continued to amass great fortunes because that’s what they loved to do.

On Jan 10 a squirrel tried to humiliate me, and it won. It started out with a squirrel visiting my balcony. So what did I do? I fed it a slice of bread. But it continued to show up daily and I didn’t have time to be feeding it everyday, so this one day I told it to go away, and instead it started using the bathroom on my balcony and eating my mountain bike seat. I put a slice of bread covered in hot pepper sauce hoping it would take a hint. That made it angry and it bit through my cable wire, cutting out my tv. While I saw it chewing the tv cable, I said to it “I’m going to go look up on Yahoo how to kill squirrels” and you know what it did? Yes, it then ate through the internet cable, cutting my internet access before I had a chance.

After I went to Canadian Tire and got some real squirrel repellant and I ran new wires (a big annoyance for me) for the tv and internet and cleaned up the pee and poo it left on my balcony.

Okay, so my friends asked me for like a real simple yet emotionally rewarding cool thing to do to brighten a persons day: so I shared with them a thing I’ve been doing for a long time.

I set aside $20, $100, $500 – whatever I can afford at the time and I keep a list of wonderful hard working people I know who could be blessed by it and then I hide the money plus an encouraging note where they would find it within 24 hours. I’m writing about this not to boast, I keep most of my giving private, but if you’re looking for a great idea like my friends are, this is one.

Last month I hid $500 and a card in a box of chocolate. The hardest part of this whole thing is when you go to the persons house, you need them distracted for enough time, for example when they use the bathroom. You have to move fast! I have been caught trying to hide $400 in someones shoe, $200 under a tin of baby formula. Another thing is you have to make sure it’s somewhere the person will actually check within a reasonable amount of time, make sure they just won’t throw the item away. For example with the chocolate, I put the money in an envelope under the first level of chocolates, so they would have to eat through that first level, pickup the plastic to get to the second level and see the envelope. They didn’t do this though, and to make things worse, I was at their house a few days later and they were asking me to pray because they needed $400 – and I was trying to drop hints to go eat some chocolates. Finally I had to flat out tell them to go look in the chocolate box for money, lol at first they might have thought it was a miracle and I was a prophet. Nope, I’m just a brown man trying to make it in this world.

Whiskey business is risky business

My first drink was beer, I was probably 6 years old. My guardians were having one of their wild parties where the police would usually be called and there was booze everywhere, so I had some beer. I was surrounded by drinkers from day 1. There’s a photo of me having my first drink, sitting in my red kiddy underwear smiling, holding a beer bottle. In front of me is a coffee table with several empties. That photo is usually on my fridge for me to laugh at every day.

Then in grade 8 I went over to my friend Steve’s house after school and I tried a sip of whiskey. In high school once or twice some girls spiked my soda with hard liquor. That’s basically it. That’s the drinking that I’ve done up to this point in a nutshell. Hardly anything.

Today I purchased one of those mini bottles of whiskey for $4, a single shot serving. I don’t know why, I was just at the mall and saw it and thought “maybe I can use it for cooking.” Except instead of cooking with it, I drank it. I’m in my mid twenties now so I figure that’s not so bad. I honestly consider this to be my second real drink.

My cell phone bill this month was like $850.

Mason and I walked over to the east side of Malton to pickup some furniture and an area rug, to take it over to M’s, who does not live in the east end. On the way to deliver it people would stop and chat with us, there would be little detours, and a piece fell and broke when we finally we got there. The area rug was the toughest because it would sag in the middle. We were so tired we didn’t even care. We didn’t drive this stuff over, it wouldn’t fit in a car so we carried it all over. After I took pictures from her high balcony of Malton. If you get rid of the bad people in this town, it’s actually a super beautiful town. But I guess you can say that about anywhere. To add insult to injury, M’s mom didn’t want the carpet, which was the biggest and heaviest item to bring over hahahahahah.

A few years back in 1999 or 2000 M’s mom was walking down Etude Drive in broad daylight and a black young adult beat her up and robbed her, she had $5. He probably used the money to buy drugs. Well I don’t know but I doubt he used it to buy books.

I’m enjoying the rainy weather a lot. Listening to music on my cd player, which was super cool when I bought it in 1997 but starting to age.

Old things can lead to new things, new things can lead to old things

In Guyana, I slept on a real bed with my grandmother. Her house cost her $500 USD cash back in the 50’s and is still standing strong today. Maybe some Canadian construction companies can learn a thing or two? When we moved to Canada, I slept on the floor for the first few years. I had a sponge to sleep on and it was perfectly fine. When I turned 7 years old I got my first bed. I gave that bed away a while back, and I’m now sleeping on the floor again which is very enjoyable for me.

My friends call me a minimalist. I like to give away my things and have the least amount of possessions as humanly possible. I don’t even like having multiple pens.

I’m at the gym 5 days a week even in the winter. I walked through like a foot of snow and ice cold wind to get to the gym, which has been moved to the other side of town while renovations are happening at the main location. One of the long time trainers was there and I asked her for some advise, she complimented my little muscles. Yes, I will be extending my membership!

I helped Mason with his job hunting, writing his resume and handing it out with him in many places. He got a job at Woodbine Centre, specifically he helps a woman’s lingerie / underwear department. He’s as happy as can be and all I hear from him is about how great his job is. He text messages me to tell me about how happy he is to be walking to his job (he even goes early), he texts me during breaks to tell me about his adventures, he even stays late after work. He goes on and on about the beautiful women he helps all day and night. I’ve never heard anyone speak so happily about their job. I haven’t achieved this yet. Most people haven’t. Most people aren’t super excited to go to work, most don’t stay late on purpose.

I visited him there, well, I went there to spy on him, and the dude was helping women choose lingerie with a huge smile on his face. I watched him smile for like a good 10 minutes straight. I was laughing because I thought it was hilarious, and I was at awe at how this young man had reached such a great level of happiness so fast. I’ve known him about 7 years and never seen him smile so much. Most of us will never reach that level of happiness at a job, or at anything, ever.

So the consulting project I’m working on right now will provide me with an income for 2 years. Not a big income, but enough to pay my rent, car, gas, phone, insurance, etc and several decent sized missions projects. I’m also going to try to do a big project along side this one and see if I can get a small bank to like my idea. Problem is it won’t actually pay me for like 4 more months which is making things really tight around here. Another risk is that I won’t get paid at all, this has happened several times and leads to great discouragement. Nobodies fault, that’s just the way it is. I’ve consulted for companies that have gone under part way though, and I didn’t find out till I visited the office to see the eviction notice on the door. Other times I’ll find out that the company I’m working with / for has been purchased by another company and all the previous management fired or replaced – and they have no idea who I am. And yes once in while things will work out better than expected and I’ll do better than expected and get paid more than expected.

I’m still in the beginning stages of this project which involves making a lot of phone calls, I’m on the phone almost all day doing my research, which is annoying but still better than traveling. My little suitcase is gathering dust, I like that. Maybe one day soon I can give it away to.

Most of my friends have internet access now. So we all chat online after work. It’s so different. No waiting weeks or even months for letters to arrive in the mail from my missionary friends, or phone calls at hours with static connections. They are basically in countries all over the world which makes communication difficult. Pretty much all of them have some form of internet access now. Time zones aren’t even such a bother anymore. One of my friends doing missions in the Ukraine got spat on, simply because she was there and the person didn’t like Christians. I’m currently trying to gain steam on an Orphanage in the Ukraine, at the rate I’m going this project will be done, realistically by the year 2015. I started it in 2001. It breaks my heart but it’s the best I can do. I hate that so much but it’s out of my hands. Some projects move fast, some move slow.

If Frodo can do it then so can we

Yeah I watched part 3. I got the books for Christmas as well but I can’t read the books after I watch the movie. Spoiler alert: Frodo did it. He completed his quest and lived happily ever after. Find out from God what your quest is, then spend your life on it. Heaven is your happily ever after.

The past couple of years for me has been almost non stop adventure and bizarre circumstances, one after another. 2003 was an awesome roller coaster, I spend today looking at my journals for the year. There aren’t very many because I’ve been so busy doing so much. Moving into 2004, I’m hoping for like, no adventure. Just a nice boring existence. Winter has set in nice and good and I’m enjoying it.

In Canada, there is talk about legalizing drugs. I don’t care if we do, as long as whoever does drugs doesn’t expect society to pay for their mistakes. I talked to my doctor about doing anabolic steroids just to try them out, and after getting his good advise, I tried some.
This was last year – I did a very short, 2 week cycle of testosterone precursors called androstenedione or something like that. Why did I do it? Call it youthful curiosity. I wanted to see what would happen. Maybe I just wanted a boost.

When I was a teen I setup a makeshift gym and fight club in my garage, people from the neighborhood would come to fight or lift weights. We didn’t have any good equipment, a home made squat rack, a portion of a skid for calf raises. Different sizes of plastic weights. I filled a large US Army issued carryall bag part way with sand and we used that as a punching bag, when we weren’t using each other for punching bags. People would come over asking for me and my grandmother would use her fists to do a boxing motion and would say “asif is boxing, he’s boxing”.

The dealer I bought the stuff from was the size of a bear and he said the stuff works – and boy did it. Strength and endurance went up through the roof almost right away. I think I did over 100 full pushups and 25 full pullups and went about my day like it was nothing. I can’t believe this stuff is completely legal in America. I bet that lots of young people will start to do steroids. At the 2 week point I started to feel like it would turn me into a flesh eating zombie so I threw out the rest of the supply and lost most of my gains. My doctor (who I spoke to through this whole process), laughed and laughed. He told me that when I’m much older, in my 50’s that I should ask him again, and maybe we can do it properly and in a way that actually benefits me permanently.

Which brings me to my Merry Christmas and Happy new Year message: Sometimes it’s a good idea to abandon your direction. Sometimes the plan sounds smart but will lead to stupid results. Sometimes the outcome isn’t worth the consequences. Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is to stop, and walk away. To give up doesn’t mean to lose. Sometimes the biggest losers are the ones who don’t know when to give up.