Movie Review: “Arranged”


This is a 2007 indie film I came across at Blockbuster 2 wks ago.   The movie was shot in NY and NJ with unknown/little known actors.  This film is based partly on the experiences of one of its producers- an Orthodox Jewish woman.  It’s a refreshing picture about how modernity AND tradtion can coexist in America. 



The film follows  two smart/articulate/pretty young women recently out of college, Rochel (an Orthodox American Jew) and Nasira (a Syrian American Muslim).  Both ladies come from caring traditional families, work at a public school in Brooklyn, and are in the process of getting arranged marriages.




Rochel (Zoe Lister Jones) and Nasira (Francis Benhamou) have more in common than meets the eye, and they eventually become good friends.  Their friendship causes many raised eyebrows, but the girls grow to rely on each other.  The dialogue is very realistic and the main characters are enjoyable to watch.  I learned a few things while watching this movie, too. You should check it out, if it’s available in your area!



Arranged at Internet Movie Database:


The Making of Arranged:


Fun “Brown Bag” Lunch Ideas

Hey readers!

Have you noticed that many restaurants are empty these days?  (I’ve seen this in NYC, DC, and Old Town Alexandria, VA.)  People are bringing food from home (even those who live in big cities and have MANY food options).  Yes, we all need to save, but how can we feel less deprived?  Just be creative w/ your food!  Or, if you hate to cook, just eat simply.


But part of the fun of going out for lunch is leaving the workplace.  You can eat in the communal dining area (if you have one).  You can go for a short walk after eating, or eat in the park.  My mom does yoga 3 days/wk before lunch, so it breaks her regular routine.        


Even though I’m currently sans job, I look out for fun food ideas!  Below are some I heard on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show.

Happy eating,



  1. Leftovers from last night’s dinner: Yes, we desis do this a LOT!
  2. Canned salmon (for salad/sandwich): Can buy at Trader Joe’s
  3. Beef stew: This tastes better the second day; it lasts for several days.
  4. Cubed cheeses, cubed turkey, sliced peppers, mushrooms, etc. w/ olive oil: These won’t get mushy!
  5. Soups: Can buy in sml/med cartons at stores like Whole Foods or make at home (my mom does!)
  6. Egg salad: One of my faves; you just need hard-boiled eggs, mayo, salt, and pepper!  (You can add other stuff like I do- tomatoes, red onion, green onion, etc. and put in a sandwich.)
  7. Almond butter and jelly (instead of PB&J) for sandwich
  8. Soba noodles: These are meant to be eaten cold.
  9. Hummus: can eat w/ baby carrots, celery sticks, or pita bread (for when you’re NOT too hungry)


*Other tips:

– Take coffee from home!

– Buy bulk snacks and keep at place of work. 

– Buy cute lunch containers to make lunch less routine.

My trip to NYC (or back to reality)

Hello readers,

I’m back from NYC; I went this past FRI am and came back SUN pm.  I stayed w/ my aunt’s fam in Elmhurst, Queens.  (Thanks Khuku Auntie!)  My two girl cousins, Aliza and Adiba (10 and 12 y.o.), are getting taller each time I see them.  They got a cool new laptop, printer, and web cam recently.  They had mid-winter break, so were relaxed and in a good mood.  We talked about the typical stuff: school, TV shows, books, and hopes for the future.  (They’re QUITE bright and talkative!)  I got their email address so we can stay in touch more.  


Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see my other Queens cousins, Akif and Mahee(ages 13 and 7).  I’m proud of my oldest NYC cousin; Akif recently got into Stuyvesant High School, a specialized HS in the city.  He studied for almost 2 yrs to prep for the SHSAT test (on his own and at tutoring centers)!  But it paid off, and my Ratan Uncle and Hapi Auntie are VERY happy (and relieved)! 


I also learned that 5 kids who came to the SAYA! center for tutoring (w/ me last summer/fall) got high scores on their SHSAT tests.  One of those boys (a Math whiz) will go to Bronx Science; he notified via Facebook.  I’m VERY happy to hear about these good results.  I feel proud, too!


Now on to the NOT so happy news…  I went to a ED career fair on SAT at the Downtown Brooklyn Marriott.  It was a BIG downer for me- hardly anyone (charter/district/city) was looking for an English teacher for grades 7-12!!!  There were several people repping VA, MD, and NYC (of course).  I even met a rep from TUSD (Tuscon Unified School District).   Did you know that Arizona is the fastest growing state now?  It passed Nevada in newcomers.   


The TUSD rep, a jolly and energetic middle-aged man, told me some surprising news: next school year all public high schools will have to have a 4 hour block for their ELLs!  (This includes refugees- he said Tucson has many, recent immigrants- not ALL Hispanic these days , and others who lack basic English skills needed for HS.)  Wow, I don’t know how the kids will take that!  (4 hrs is a LONG time for any age group.)  Things have changed since I graduated HS in 1996…


There were a FEW good moments…  I spoke with two older ladies who work in a small new public HS in Chicago.  They were very nice, and said they will definitely need English teachers.  I felt good talking with them!  I heard about a fed org I didn’t know about; it is looking for teachers to work in different military bases around the world.  A group of charters in NYC, is looking for grades 6, 9, and 10 for next yr.  Their reps were quite young and easy to talk to.  (I heard about them 2 yrs ago from a friend of mine.)  But many, many candidates stood in line to talk with them.  I wonder if I’ll have a chance…


This job fair was a “reality check” for me.  It reminded me how TOUGH it is to be a teacher (or teacher candidate) in NYC area!  There were not TOO many candidates this year; last year had many more people.  (This was a MINORITY career fair, and we know how diverse NYC is!)  When I told the reps (HR, principals, etc.) that I was “looking for opportunities in English 7-12” their faces dropped.  Several gave me that too-bad-for-you look, and said that “it’s tough for subjects like English and Social Studies”  OR “we have a lot of English teachers already in our system.”  I knew in the back of my mind, BUT I was still felt disappointed.  Sigh…


I was at this job fair from 10:30AM-1:30PM.  By 1:30, I was a bit upset.  It’s not like we candidates are trying to be ballerinas, models, or actors.  We just want to teach!  We want to share our knowledge w/ urban youth who are falling behind the rest of the world.  If you don’t think that, then go and be a substitute in the public schools!  How will these kids compete in the near future?  Their parents (many 1st gen Americans or immigrants) dream of bigger and better things for them, of course.  And all of this isn’t just theoretical for me b/c I know some of these kids!  I tutored them, lived on their block, and saw them nearly EVERY day for 4 yrs.  It is SO frustrating…


After the job fair, I had to deal w/ the weird weekend subway delays/re-routing issues.  At 3PM, I went to a little event (for International Mother Language Day) where I was esp glad to see Shima (who started the non-profit org, Adhunka) and Rumana (a former neighbor of mine).  They are two of the nicest ladies I met in NYC!  They are pleasant, easy-going, and make people feel comfortable around them.  I met a few new people, too, who grew up all over the world.  (Not all people have Bangla as their best language!)  Later, some of us went to Shima’s apt to hang out.  She showed us a video of the young women (in Dhaka, Bangladesh) who go to the computer center funded by Adhunika.  They said they don’t have PCs in their dorms, so they greatly appreciate the low-cost classes.  It’s cool to see ladies who are trying to improve themselves!


Thanks for reading (even when I’m complaining),


P.S.  An actor and his gf were excitedly discussing his latest audition (for a comedy show) at Starbuck’s only 1 block from where the Washington Deluxe bus was going to pick me up.  He said the director liked him a lot.  LOL…  Hope you get the job!  (It’s tough for MANY jobseekers these days.)