Wednesday, May 31, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

Southwest Effect

My father and I were talking about this the other day and I thought it would make a good "View From the 23rd Row." I apologize if I've talked about this before.

Since its inception Southwest has had a chilling effect on other air carriers. While they are not completely comparable, I reckon it to what happens when WalMart moves into a town. They take over, other stores, in this case airlines, start to shrivel up and go away. They price their tickets cheaper than the other guy. How does this happen? As an employee of a semi-successful airline, I have thought long and hard on this. How can they do this?

Well, first off, no unions, so they don't have all these ridiculous rules and salary requirements to adhere too - they can pay their employee's lower than the average industry rate.
Second, they run in markets they know there is an opening, where there is a need for cheap flights (and also where gates, landing fees, etc will be less), Southwest is no one's fool, selling tickets at $80 is never going to cover the cost at O'Hare, but it might suffice for Midway.
Third, they fly a unified fleet, no variations on their planes, which makes maintainence a lot easier and also an even pay scale for pilots, no having to readjust a pilot's pay based on the plane he is flying. It's all the same!
Fourth, they don't have the silly hub and spoke system that most of the legacy carriers do - where people have to make connections, people don't like to do it and it's expensive.

Southwest, like WalMart has done a great job of branding, whenever one thinks of getting a cheap airticket, one's mind immediately thinks, 'Southwest.' But...and here is the big but, just like WalMart, Southwest is not necessarily the cheapest guy in town, they have just gotten you thinking that.

For example from Baltimore to Tampa on Southwest can be $79 one way, double it, with taxes, let's say roughly $165.
On United, from Dulles to Tampa can be a combined $115, found on

The message for this week's post than is to not always assume you are getting the cheapest ticket simply because you are going to the commonly considered "low-cost" carrier. ALWAYS compare prices! This will mean having to go onto Southwest's site as well as expedia or travelocity, but isn't it worth it to save some cash?

Friday, May 26, 2006

Agree to Disagree

A so-called friend of mine and I have been going back and forth on why there are so many problems within the Muslim community regarding getting married. I've always tried to keep it light, but since this friend got dumped back in December, he has gotten meaner and meaner about the situation. There is a real level of animosity towards women in him now, almost palatable.

The other day he sent me his "missive" on why we Muslim girls are 100% to blame for not being able to get married.

I won't copy it verbatim because it will make your skin crawl and your blood boil as it did mine! But some excerpts are below in green:

Basically, the women in this part of the world do not want to accept their role in a "Muslim Marriage" as outlined in the religion.
Our Muslim girls' unwillingness to get married at the "right" time is creating a social gap or shortage in our society (which later goes in the opposite direction).
Our men in their prime age are not getting what they want or deserve rather, ie the much wanted companionship. Islam says that there are right ways of doing things which is defined as marriage. But when most men are around 27/28 and are ready, there is a serious shortage of girls! Most, if not all, of them were pursuing their careers!
I think that for a 29/30 year old girl, the guy who can properly handle their emotional issues, they need a 40 year old man!
At 28/29 these girls are not young anymore and nor can they call themselves a girl - they are a woman! At that age, they are not going to get a 31 or even a 32 year old guy who will marry them. You know why? They look "older" than even some 36-38 year old guys and not to mention they are far more mature from a mental and emotional standpoint. Its not fair to "expect" that a guy who is ONLY a few years older will be able to address the emotional issues of a woman.
What the hell is wrong with Muslim girls today? What is this big thing about becoming a doctor for heavens sake?!!! We men NEED companionship too!

Reading this, I was beyond outraged and depressed.

I thought this guy was a friend, but clearly if he thinks this way, he must think that I'm old and worthless. Everything he has said and done to me, I am now re-evaluating, they are all lies. It is a total betrayal to me.

I personally think if a girl is into a guy, she will do anything for him, doesn't matter the age or education. We women just want to be treated like human beings, not servants, which is what it sounds like my so-called friend wants.

This ex-friend says he is going to go back to Pakistan and get a girl, I say good luck! Girls there are not as naive and stupid as people think, I pray that he ends up with all daughters, so maybe than he may finally have some compassion for women.

Either way, I'm cutting this guy out of my life, I don't need haters around, no? But it just goes to prove the kind of crap I deal with every day being a divorced Muslim woman…. Another reminder by my community that I am worth nothing, lower than the common whore and beggar. Thanks.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A little Justice

Former Enron bosses Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling have both been found guilty on fraud, conspiracy and other charges.
Finally some small justice for the little guy - I hope they give these two guys all the time allowable! It would be nice to show that maybe, just maybe, greed and selfishness don't always win out and that caring about your fellow man is more important than the almighty dollar.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

Carry-on Luggage

This is a reprisal of a previous post, but dear Merci is going on vacation and I want to give these tips agains, so she may be able to pack a simple carry-on bag for the trip, rather than schelping a suitcase (which I find to be just a big pain the ass).

How to Travel with Just a Carry-On Bag
1. Learn to mix and match outfits, double up. I have two skirts that go perfect with this black turtleneck I have, with one top I now have two outfits.
2. One to two pairs of shoes, that is it! Shoes take up a lot of space, wear one pair and pack one other pair if you must but no more!
3. Keep it light, travel size everything if you can, no big bottles of shampoos or toothpastes, waste of space, space savers include - paperback books, mini-toothbrushes etc.
4. Bring stuff you can leave at your destination, to make room for the stuff you buy.
5. I'm sure you've heard this before, roll your clothes, gives you more space.
6. Don't bring things you will get at the hotel i.e. iron, hair dryer etc, towels.
7. Really evaluate what you need, you'll find at least 1/3 of what you pack you really didn't use while on the trip.

Right I can't think of anything else, if you have any other tips, please pipe in. But kudos to Merci for attempting this, I've trained my family to now fly sans suitcases and it has made us all better travelers!

Monday, May 22, 2006


Spent the whole weekend sick as a dog, nothing staying in my stomach. Joy. My mom wants me to go to the doctor, I say, why bother? Since my nice old guy doctor retired and they brought in this mean old girl, I don't even care to go. I had bronchitis back in November and she accused me of being a hypochondric. Nice, I go to the doctor once in 12 months and I get told, don't come back till you're dying. So I'm not caring this time around, I can self-medicate till I find a combination that works, no?

Went to visit my alma mater, Mary Baldwin College this weekend (note when you are constantly throwing up, not a good idea to drive two hours away from home). It was lovely though, perfectly green lawns, glistening Mary Baldwin white buildings, everything clean and neat. I had a great four years there and only pleasant memories flooded me as I walked back on campus.

Because I was so sick, didn't get to see the Da Vinci Code, if you did see it - please let me know what you thought.

Have a good week!

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Finally after all the hype, it's book being on the best seller list for months and an obscene amount of tie-in products, The Da Vinci Code movie is here!

My friend and I are going to try to go and see it tonight. I read the book a year ago, it was ok. But as is wont to happen, the hype was more than the actual thing. My friend, Molly Malone, read it before me and she warned me, it wasn't the best of written English. The book does have an interesting premise, about what the Holy Grail is or could be and the role of the Catholic Church in this quest.

I have to say, as a target, the Catholic Church is an easy mark. It has thousands of years of history, full of bouts of turmoil, very interesting! The whole act of exorcism alone hooks me in. There seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the Church and I certainly don't doubt that they have in the past whitewashed things. We do know that at the time of the development of the church, some pagan Roman rituals were incorporated as Christian, all done in an effort to eliminate the pagan worship and establish the Church. But I don't see the Church as menacing as is proscribed in the book.

Also interesting about The Da Vinci Code is what it says the role of Mary Magdalene was in the time of Crist (pbuh). I've always loved Mary Magdalene, I think she got a bum rap. She was there for Crist (pbuh) when everyone else skipped out. I recently saw a documentary on PBS about how probably Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute but how the story got warped into that, confusing Mary Magdalene with, perhaps, Mary of Bethany or just putting the sinner story (which might have been without a name) to her.

Probably part of the appeal to The Da Vinci Code is the whole riddle/mystery. As humans we love solving puzzles (hence the prevalence of puzzles in newspapers around the world). What is a more fascinating mystery to uncover than one cloaked in years and years of history with all these far-reaching implications?

Also, the level of products that have spun off because of The Da Vinci Code amazes me; books, television shows, trinkets, even vacation tours!

Despite all of this hysteria, The Da Vinci Code isn't Nobel Prize literature but for a quick and interesting read, this is a good book to pick up!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

Flight Attendants.

I'll be upfront, I'm not a fan of most flight attendants. My experiences with most flight attendants has been poor.

These people are put on the plane for the safety of the passenger, supposedly. But I'll be dead honest, I think if push comes to shove, it would come as no large surprise to me, if the first person jumping out of the plane is the flight attendant, "see ya suckers." They are also suppose to assist the customer. This means different things in different arenas. I shall break it down for you.

Domestic (United States) airlines - almost all of the flight attendants I have meet while using my flight benefits, be it on my carrier or someone elses, are rude and unhelpful. They absolutely won't help you one iota with your bag. If your lucky they might look in the overhead bins to see if there is space there for you (ps, tip - just cause the overhead bin is shut doesn't mean that there is no space in there.I've seen people shut bins hoping to have it all to their own, bin hogs! In a bind, open up as many bins as you need to, till you find or make room). Most of the time they can't help with connections or moving your seat. I figure you are on your own when flying in the US (with the notable exception of Southwest, which has a brillant in-flight crew, applause). oh, domestic flight attendants who are on an internationally flight (ie New York to London) are fine, pleasant and good, but that is probably because they are very senior and like what they do.

International - Most international carrier flight attendants are ok - they will help you a bit more than your domestic carrier, but don't expect a lot. It depends on the carrier and culture of the carrier's country. Virgin's flight attendants suck. That's it, they are pretentious uppity girls who think they are da bomb when they are not. They suck. SAS has the sweetest flight attendants, who are always willing to give you a smile. I liked SAA's flight attendants as well, very helpful!

I grant you being a flight attendant is not always a fun job, the poor redheaded flight attendant on my trip back from Delhi was beyond patient despite getting the stupidest questions. But to my way of thinking, if you don't like your job, hell if you don't like people, this is not the career for you.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Everyday I walk or drive through the Pentagon reservation (commonly referred to as simply "the Pentagon"). If you live in the Washington DC/Northern Virginia area, you know that the Pentagon is a transit center, focal point for commuting. It has a Metro stop, big bus depot and slugging (unofficial car-pooling). At 5pm, when I'm walking through its vast parking lots, the Pentagon is a crazy hub of activity. People rushing here and there to get home. There are lots and lots of miltary guys in uniform around as well as tons of us "civilians."

The Pentagon is the headquarters for the United States Military, the greatest and strongest military in the world. I think of this every time I step onto the Pentagon grounds. It often boggles my mind that I'm walking past this building that has changed and affected so many lives around the world. Decisions are made in there that mean the life and death of thousands of people. A press briefing goes on inside there almost daily, crazy!

This is a building, that during the Cold War, supposedly had a nuclear missile aimed right at. And of course after 9/11, I know as I stride on by, there are a lot of Islamic Fundamentalist's out there who would like to seriously harm this place. I won't lie, sometimes I'm a little scared to walk by, afraid of being so close to such a big target.

It's such a plain unassuming building. Commuting through here is certainly an experience, I always feel very adult, as I am joining the other fish, "places to go, people to see" sort of atmosphere.

ps - yes, while walking, I always make a point to check out the military guys, some of them are hotties (Air Force guys in their leather bomber jackets, yowzeers)!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Missing Monday

Age: 38
Sex: Female
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 150 lbs.
VA Op. Lic. - T60=38-3464 - 1995 Green Ford Windstar Minivan
Missing From: Newport News, VA
Missing Since: 4/21/2006

Ms. Holloway has been in an abusive relationship with a Mr. Eric Brown. She was last seen by Ms. Joe Stallings on April 21, 2006 at 8 p.m. She has straight hair and wears hats a lot.

I seem to constantly miss the first Monday of the month, but I want to continue to participate in this activity. This woman's disappearance is suspicious, I do hope she is ok and if perhaps she went into hiding to get away from her abusive relationship she stays safe.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Harvard Elitism and more...

Harry Lewis, former dean of Harvard wrote, "the university has had its head turned ever more by consumerism and big public relations imperatives, to the detriment of its educational priorities for its students. In short, money and prestige rule over principle and reason." I couldn't agree more.

Ever heard of the expression, "the man?" It is often used like, "the man is keeping me down" or "we must fight the man." Harvard is the institution that creates, "the man" the status quo, the standard.

I recently read an article by a Harvard MBA grad, he argues that Harvard students are more hard-working and overachievers than others and it is for this reason that "Harvard DNA" is so many powerful positions, such as two presidents, supreme court judges, filmmakers, authors, leaders of companies. Yet could the reason for all this crimson blood flowing in the upper reaches of America, not be because they are so much more superior to the rest of us Cretans but because they keep it in the family. Perhaps it is all a good ole' boy's network, it wouldn't be the first time no? Even the MBA kid pointed out that networking is so incredibly important to the Harvard name that all business school students are encouraged to get business cards, complete with the Harvard stamp, in their first semester of the program.

Why am I writing about all of this, because I am outraged by that twit of an Indian girl (thanks again for besmirching our names, you ninny!). This oh-so superior Harvard sophomore that already had a book deal before entering the school is like me, an Indian kid raised in America. It has come to be found out that portions of her book have been plagiarized.

I am galled - I can't stand kids like her. They want all the praise and accolades but don’t want to do the work. I am sure she smugly told all her classmates about her book deal, in a pseudo-attempt at being modest. I can see it now, someone is talking about applying to school or some achievement they just had and she goes, "oh that is just like when I was writing my book and my agent and publisher were pushing me to finish." Naturally this is going to pique one's curiosity and our little glory-hound would have been able to unload all about herself and her little book deal.

Additionally what bothers me most is that this girl is Indian. I know her type, we had family friends who are her type. I couldn't stand them when I was forced to hangout at gatherings and I can't stand them now. They have this unnatural competitive streak and getting a book deal at such a young age would have made her family head and shoulders above all the other kids in the community, as if getting a book deal somehow makes one a better human being. What kind of priorities is this that having a book published puts you ahead in some non-spoken competition rather than seeing the character of the person? You can tell this Indian girl is from this group of people, because she has yet to apologize properly to the author of the books she ripped off. To this Indian kid, all's fair in love and war, she was just trying to get ahead.

It is this crazy competitiveness to which Harvard thrives, probably many of the kids who go to school there are like this Indian girl, very aggressive, believing by being the head of something, or top of something, makes you a better person, superior to your fellow man. But it doesn't, and yet Harvard continues to nurture these baby Einsteins, because to an institution having all these "successes" does make you a better place. To Harvard, which graduated George Bush and Elizabeth Dole, it is all about who you know, "self-promotion," a show-offness and lack of humility that is treasured and valued. And yet how sad when human beings worth is being measured by the same standards as a cold stone establishment.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

Today is going to be a bag of hodge-podge on the View from the 23rd Row.

- British Airways is having a big fare sale for travel to London for this fall - some good deals and again reiterates my point about finding you best deals on-line, a few months before you intend to fly. You must just keep looking around. I'm a travel geek, I check out expedia at least weekly, the airlines will pop up their fare sales here often.

Traveling anywhere in the world, I've found has the best hotel prices. My friend and I stayed at the best hotel in Stockholm last March courtesy of, it was a huge room and included not only breakfast but dinner! If you have a confirmed air ticket, why not go ahead and get the hotel before you leave home also. I figure out where I want to stay by checking out location guide books from the library, researching the city and than I know what I'm looking for when I go to the hotels site.

You probably already know this but hotel rates in Las Vegas are MUCH cheaper Sunday- Thursday, I'm thinking of going out myself, when I'm unemployed, stay at the Wynn for $200!

For my non-flying readers, saw this special this weekend in the Washington Post Travel Section and thought to copy and paste it here:
More than 60 U.S. bed-and-breakfasts are participating in a "Tanks a Lot" gas rebate program. Some inns are offering gas cards, while others are discounting their rooms. For example, the Inn at Starlight Lake in Starlight, Penn., has a $25 rebate for a two-night stay ($35 for three nights, $50 for four) through June; rooms with private baths start at $115 double. Info: 800-462-2632, .

Finally an appeal, if you have difficulty walking, need a wheelchair/walker/aid, can you please wait till everyone gets off the plane and than proceed? This way those of us who have connections can make them and you don't have to feel like we are pushing you from behind. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Got virtual flowers for myself this morning, always a great way to start the day. I love the pink/purple roses.

Do you ever wake up and think, "I'm a boring person, not charismatic enough, certainly not witty and this is why I can't get a guy?" ......ok maybe it's just me : )

Had to drop some good news about myself - on the GMAT, there are three sections, a math, a verbal and two written essays. Naturally you don't get the written essay score right away, so it was three weeks later that I found out how I had done. The scores for this portion of the test range from 1 (poor) to 6 (excellent). Guess what score I made...... a 6!!!! Can you believe it?!! I was shocked! Despite what you may see on my blog (poor spelling and grammer mistakes a go-go) it appears, I can write! (cheers all-around).


Monday, May 08, 2006

Angels on Earth

I left out one weird/interesting fact about myself from last week's list. I wasn't sure if I wanted to share, but then I saw something on Friday that seemed a sign from God, as if to say, "yes, share it."

I was walking out of the mall, after making a quick dash in to grab something from the Disney Store (they were having a huge sale) and noticed, sitting on the bench right outside was a man with down syndrome and his older father. I got teary-eyed immediately. This is my weird fact, whenever I see mentally retarded people, I either cry or get teary. I want to go up and hug them - protect them from the evils of the world, a world which they seem so innocently oblivious too.

Perhaps it is also that I feel we share a similar experience. Growing up as a gawky, ugly Indian kid, I was teased unmercilessly. People can be so cruel and I have dealth with a lot of crap, but than to see people mock and make fun of the mentally retarded, is beyond indecent. How can you do that?! It is one thing to make fun of me, I can fight back, but these poor people, they don't get your stupid sarcasm and your scorn, they think you are being friendly or nice. Stop it! Just thinking about it makes me choke up.

I firmly believe those with Down Syndrome and mental retardation are angels God has put on earth. In Islam there are no "bad" angels, all are God's servants, they see the good in life, the grace of God in everything.

A distant uncle of mine in India had Down Syndrome, he visited America when I was a baby. My mother says that he treated me with such care, I never had a better baby-sitter. One day my mother came into my roomt to find he had rearranged all the clothes in my baby bureau, just trying to be helpful, God bless him. He died a few years back and I firmly believe he lives in eternal happiness with all the other angels.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Darfur situation

Happy Cinco de Mayo - before I start my post, thought I'd include a little laugh. One should always laugh on Fridays!

I was watching ER last night, where, for the past three weeks they have been running a Darfur storyline (some of the doctors are out there helping out). I'll be honest, when I first saw the plot I thought, "not another African tragedy story." Last year the show had done this whole thing in war-torn Congo. But damn if those ER writers did not manipulate me again and what the news and the rallys had not done they accomplished - making me feel upset and sad about the Darfur situation, to the extent that I want to get active.

Viewing the re-enactment of the refugee camps and the destruction of these people's lives, I am appalled anew - how can human beings do this to one another? Why does there seem to be no value to human life in these tragedies? What makes a person lose all sense of right and wrong and commit these acts? Why?

Larger than that, I am very upset that this situation is another Muslim on Muslim violence. In Islam, we call each other Brother or Sister. How can a so-called Muslim kill his, "brother?" It is not only in Darfur that this happens, we are seeing it daily in Iraq. I want to shake my fellow Muslims, this travesty and mockery of our faith should make us want to scream, instead we are wasting energy over stupid comic strips created by ignorant people? What is wrong with us?!

If you are feeling as restless and at a loss as to what to do, I have attached the following link below from the Holocaust muesum.

We cannot be silent.

Also, I was tagged by Tony for to list six weird things/facts about here goes:
1. I am addicted to romance novels, they are my guilty pleasure. I can stay up all night and read these things.
2. I've always wanted an invitation to the White House Correspondence dinner.
3. I wear Spongebob Squarepant fuzzy slippers around the house.
4. I can eat a whole container of Pringles in one sitting.
5. I look for signs from God by the songs that come up on the radio (when I'm driving).
6. I watch, "What Not to Wear" to get fashion tips

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

View from the 23rd Row

Certainly you don't fly for the food but if you are traveling internationally, here are some of my picks for carriers with the best fare.
(ps, if you're flying domestically in the US, pack something before you leave or buy something in the terminal, cause most airlines no longer serve food on domestic flights, even across the country). I take my food seriously, probably because most of the time when I got on flights, I've been working all day and am starving.

Also remember if you have some dietary needs, tell the airline VERY much in advance and keep reminding them (as you check in, at the gate) otherwise there is a good possibility they will have forgotten it or it slipped through the cracks. All carriers can meet most health/religious issues, just gotta let them know.

Favorites -
US Airways - always a beef or chicken dish and one pasta dish. Just the right size, not too much food but not skimping either. I like the cookie deserts in the packaging, I can save it and eat later if I desire.
Continental - I used them to India and got three meals! My favorite was the ice cream snack in the middle of the trip - yum!
British Airways - actually their economy class food is better than first class (I think they try to hard up there). You always get a nice spread with them.
Emirates - They are not even Indian but they do a good job of giving Indian food, most authentic!
South African Airways - They will feed you and feed you till you are sick, but this does allow you many options and the food is good (even give you a candy bar!).

Least Favorites -
Alitalia - For an Italian carrier, for a country that is reknowned for its food, you would think they had fantastic food. Wrong! I think they were trying to hard also, but I couldn't figure out a lot of what was served - no thanks.
Lufthansa - They are a great carrier but their food department could use an overhall. First they don't give you a lot, the deserts are not as sweet as one would want for desert, and the main courses leave something to be desired.

There are still a number of carriers I've never flown, so this is a partial list. Just some tips when the food is being served:
- For God's sake don't go to the bathroom, either use it before or hold it!
- Take your headphones off and spend the minute telling the flight attendant what you want, instead of shouting for five minutes, "what?!" when they ask what meal you want.
- If anything is a transportable plastic packaging, maybe take it with you, you never know when you are in need of a quick snack and there is no food places around.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Graduate School and life....

I'm back!

Quick update, in a mere two weeks all three of the B-schools I applied for replied back. Drumroll please....

#1 - VCU - I'm in! Yay!!

#2 - University of Toronto - I'm wait-listed, not bad, not bad at all.

#3 - London Business School - rejected. But I'm not totally bummed out, the price tag for going to the school and living in London - $75,000. Really even if accepted, I would not have been able to go, much too expensive, can't incur that debt.

I'm pleased with my results, after seeing the GMAT score, I was afraid I wouldn't get into any of the schools. Two out three is not bad (according to University of Toronto, wait-listed is a positive thing and I'm taking it that way!).

Trip out to Phoenix was fun, without internet and all my household chores, it was like a mini-vacation. I truly was able to relax as soon as the quitting bell rang instead of constantly thinking, "what do I have to do." Already I've been back in the DC area two days and my nerves are back to were they were, I'm stressed out. Plus I think going out, meeting the people taking over my duties has helped me bring some closer to this job. I'm ready to move on. It's a good thing.