Extraordinary relationships.

Sharing some amazing stories here… 

All our relationships are in our own hands; The world can say or do what it likes, but how a person chooses to behave with ones’ relations, or one’s situation is purely one’s own choice.

Moral of the story: Your response to any situation depends not on your relationship, it depends on you.

In a nutshell – it is love. Here are some amazing stories I’d love to share with you:

  1. Treatment with non-believers: The biggest example of love is when Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would be going to pray to the mosque, and there was this non-believer, who kept the garbage of her house, in her balcony, only to throw it on his head, whenever he passed by.  She knew, his clothes had to be clean for prayers, and then he would have to go home to change also. One day, she didn’t throw any garbage on him. He became concerned. He knocked on the door, wondering if she is okay? He was told that she isn’t well. So he went in to ask about her and get medications for her. This is how you build a relationship.This is what our prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us. (I know, you are thinking, ‘only a Prophet could be like that!’)
  2. Age difference between husband and wife: Hazrat Khadija (aged forty) was a business woman, impressed by his dealings, (as he was her employee,) she sent a proposal to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (aged 25,) and he accepted it. They had an amazing marriage. Yes, he defied the stereotype of age difference, in his marriage to her. Theirs was a monogamous relationship, which he always cherished.

All right, so you say, my examples are from a prophets life. Let me give some human ones now.

  • Bringing up one’s child in another faith: My mother was a Christian, but chose to bring me up as a Muslim. She would search for the best ‘molvi sahab’ or priest, and made sure I read the Holy Quran with meanings. I often wonder, would I have done the same in a similar situation? Yes, she has been a great mother. She said, ‘I don’t want my child to feel like a different person. Specially, as there is hardly any differences between Muslims and Christians. The Ten Commandments are the same.  
  • Caring for step-mother and step-sister: My friend Raheela – is the daughter of her father’s second wife. Her mother didn’t keep good health. At the age of six, her father passed away. Her mother, decided to leave the house, believing that her step sons, (who were nearer her own age,) would want her to leave. When she told them that she is leaving the house, they refused to let her go. So, she remained. My friends’ step brothers and sisters cared for her and her mother all her life. They educated her, and married her off, giving her her share from their father’s inheritance. When she moved to her new home, she took along her mother. Now, her husband took care of her mother till she died at the age of ninety five years.  I’m a witness to it. She hates me to call them ‘step’ as she says, ‘they have given me even more love than any real siblings could have done.’ Till today she loves and cherishes them. But I insist on calling them what they are, because they are so great. These days, my friend is heartbroken due to passing away of one brother, whom she remembers holding her hand and taking her to school when she was a kid. 
  • Love between two wives of a husband: Another friend Fatima* is daughter of her father’s second wife. Her father was a big industrialist, and when the couple realized they couldn’t have children, his first wife, chose a second wife for him. She chose her own cousin and friend, and they were married. When the second wife, (my friend’s mother,) had her first son, she gave him to the first wife. They lived in the same house, yet, it was a big thing. There were five children. The two wives were on excellent terms all their lives, because the father never differentiated between them. Each one received equal status and love and respect from him and rest of the family. So, much so, that after his death, the two wives chose to live together in the same house. Recently, the elder one has passed away. Now, the second wife has gone into depression, as she finds it hard to continue her life without the presence of her ‘saukan’ (the other wife) in her life. Yes, I’m a witness to this case.
  • Step mother, changing her step-son’s life: You must have heard of Napolean Hill. In his book, Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, he mentions how it was his step mother who gave him the confidence to be who he became. She changed his life, by giving him confidence at a young age.
  • Successful marriage between a Muslim and Christian: My father, a Muslim, married my mother a Christian at a time when there was a lot of prejudice. There was total harmony in my home. Their loving relationship has been an example for all in our family.
  • Brother taking responsibility of caring for his siblings: As a kid, I heard of the mother of six children, who committed suicide on the Qul of her husband, in Pindi Gheb. She went into a room and poured kerosene oil and put a match to it, killing herself. It is believed, the couple had been a very loving one. So, it was the loss of her husband, and knowing how people treated widows, and worry about her orphans. So she decided to bail out. The children were divided among the close relatives. (Naturally, a single family could afford to keep all six together.) Some years later, when the eldest son got a job in Pakistan Navy, in Karachi, he applied for accommodation on humanitarian grounds. He got all his siblings together in that house, including a blind sister. I heard about this in 1991, and connected the two stories.  Really wanted to do this piece for Dawn, but my husband got posted out, and we moved to Peshawar. 
  • Brother taking his siblings to Canada for a better life: I know a true story (from my own ancestors,) of a couple who lived in England long ago, then dying of Tuberculosis. Their one son had already run away from home, joined the British army, and gone to India. (He is my great grandfather Fred. ) The eldest brother, after the death of his parents, left England, took his siblings, and moved to Canada for a better life. (Now, out of the six siblings, I’ve got in contact with Dave Schirru who is great grandson of Ruth who was one of the siblings, probably in the early 1900s.) So, this brother, instead of running off to Canada alone, took his siblings along to take care of them also.  
  • Stepmother loves the previous children of her husband as her own: My friend Tehmina*,  found out that her elder three siblings were’nt from her own mother. She was in school and someone told her. She was shocked, she had no idea. Naturally, because her mother and father treated all the same way. Hats off to the mother who loved them as her own.

So, every Cinderella story isn’t true. In fact, you can make sure it isn’t true. It takes a very special person to make such decisions in life, and act that way too.

That special person can be you too. In today’s changing world, where there are so many divorces, and changing decisions, it is important to open one’s heart and home to new scenarios. Love can conquer all, if you are set on doing so.

All you need is a forgiving and loving heart.

I’m sure, you too would know many cases like these. The point is, do not be influenced by ‘log kiya kaheingay’, ( what people might say,) or the toughness of circumstances. Failure is not an option. Work things out, the way you want. Most important of all, have faith in God, Allah or whatever you call Him.

 Go on and do what you feel is the right thing, deep in your heart.

That’s all!

Stay blessed, my Reader. 

Note: All names with * are not real names, to protect identities. All photographs have been taken by author. 

Art Classes in Shireen’s Studio


Why art?

Because art adds a touch of panache in one’s life, that’s why.  As you paint, you realize it just brings that sparkle into your life!

Without art, there is no cherry on the top of life!

You’ve heard about … ‘Truth is beauty and Beauty is truth.’ And all that type of stuff. Its true.

 As one poet said:

Sochiye to husn kafir kutch nahi,

Daikhiye to daikhtay reh jaiye….!

(If you think about it, beauty is nothing,

But when you look at it, you just keep looking!)

Iqbal says in his Stray Reflections that intellect is fine, but when there is presence of beauty, even intellect can take a back seat, (or something to that order.)

Let me put it like this:

  1. Art develops your aesthetic sense: So we learn to surround ourselves with beauty, not only in our paintings, but in our thoughts, environments,relationships and home.
  2. Love what one does: While painting, you are doing what you love to do. We have music, tea and chatting going on too.But it is mostly, a peaceful silence too. A silence of concentration.
  3. Art makes you think at a higher level: So,you are thinking of ideas, and how to interpret them here. It can be lines,compositions, colors or events. Anything! – Sky is the limit. Socializing with like minded people: You get to make friends with persons who are above and beyond the ‘who-is-who and gossiping’ lot.
  4. It is healing. It heals one’s mind,heart and soul. It removes any anxiety, depression or negative thoughts. There is just no space for it, here.  
  5. It removes pain from one’s body: as it takes your mind to more soothing activities, your muscles relax, and any pain anywhere in the body also gets better, as your muscles are relaxing now. So, art brings physical relief too.
  6. Organizing your canvas and your life: The steps help you manage your life better, with that ‘start’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’-  like of a painting. It teaches one to ‘compose’one’s life, with beauty and thought in it. Managing life becomes easier. As Madiha put it, ‘ever since I started painting, I found I could deal better with the other parts of my life too. –You learn to compose your day better, like a canvas. You learn balance, order, symmetry,somehow,
  7. Balance in Life: Art brings balance into one’s life.
  8. Brings recognition of your talents: It makes others see you in a different light.
  9. You look at your environment differently:Art makes you see the world around you with a different light too. You become aware of the color, lines, shapes, forms, harmony and balance, along with tints and tones in nature.
  10. You look at your loved ones differently:You see the way the light falls on their faces, the way they look. How they dress.The color compositions. The beauty of that smile, that glow on the face, that light and shade falling on that loved one’s complexion.

Oh my goodness, I could go on and on.

You got what I mean.

Come, join in the fun.

Stay blessed. 

NOTE: Exclusive classes IN ISLAMABAD ONLY, in a comfortable environment.

Kindly register on my Facebook Page by sending me your name as a message, and paying for your space. Limited seats only, as I keep it exclusive.

Categories Art

Starting a writer’s meet-up.

Ammar Masood reading from his book, last year.  

Since last year, I’ve arranged several Writer’s Meet-ups, and I’ve attended many in the Arts and Literature Guild too. Whenever they take place, I feel so happy. So, in this blog post I’m going to share my experiences of attending these meet ups abroad and in Pakistan. I’ll show you how to start one of your own in your own city or town also.

Why hold writer’s meet ups?

One needs to be clear why you are doing it. Simply because writing is a lonely business (- if you can call it a business!) Meeting other writers with the same passion for literature makes you feel ‘normal’. You suddenly ‘fit in’ with the ‘crowd’. You all blend in with each other. You understand the problems of publications, editing, rewriting, printing, gathering material, research and the pain of rejections. You know, when someone talks about a ‘character’, ‘plot’ or other such issues.

Best of all, only another writer can truly appreciate how much goes into a piece of work.  They value it more, realizing where it comes from. They’ve walked down that alley of hard struggle trying to find that ‘right word’ or that ‘right sentence’ to express something.

So, listening to each other’s narratives or poetry, gives one great strength. It keeps you going when others are saying, ‘but why?’

My experiences with Writer’s Meet ups abroad:

Since 2008, when I started visiting Seattle, I attended a couple of Writer’s Meet-ups. I realized, you’ve got to find your own favorite one. In the case of the first one, I found out that I was the only ‘published’writer there. It naturally thrilled me. Yet I realized, it was not a place for me, as I couldn’t learn anything from that group. Also, they couldn’t learn from me, as my experience was that of Pakistan. (I had not yet published my book ‘My Life, My Stories,’ in USA, which is available on Amazon.)

So, it is good to attend Writer’s Meet-ups, provided they fit in with your own requirements.

I found the ‘right’ one in USA, two years ago in Renton. You will know more about it here. It gave me the confidence to start my own group. Bob is a very experienced writer himself, he gives full attention to everyone.  Most of all, he shares his experiences and gives important suggestions and advice to all the writers.

Writer’s Meet up group in Pakistan,

Welcoming the writers and poets at my last weeks’ meetup. 

I found that it needs to have these qualities:

Be clear whom you want:

  1. A group of mixed languages, since we have Urdu, Punjabi and English writers here. In our case, in Islamabad, we recently welcomed French and Norwegian also.
  2. It had to be a group of writers who have varying levels of experience: journalists, authors of novels, poets, prose and non-fiction.
  3. They had to be well grounded lot who is happy to listen to others too!
  4. Age and gender would be as varied as possible.

So, last January I held my first writers’ meet up, and I ‘covered’ it in this blog of mine.  Soon, I held a second one too, mentioned here. So, it will give you a picture of what it was like.

Around the same time,  I was interviewed last January by Shabnam Riaz who is the host of her PTV Classics Show, we really clicked. I found out she has her own Arts and Literature Guild. So, we became good friends, and both attend each other’s events, and activities.

Starting your own writer’s meet up:

Location and Time: Choose the time and place which is suitable to most folks. (Consult your friends.) Choose a popular restaurant, or an office room which is empty on the weekend. You can also have them in your own home or studio if convenient.

So, here is how to start your own writers’ meet up:

Announce: Two to three weeks in advance keep posting reminders,  in the papers, Facebook or Instagram. Do follow up those who express their interest.

Theme: Choose a theme or topic of main interest. It may be a writer, guest speaker, phase in writing, or something like that. My latest Writer’s Meet up was in honor of Matthew Vaughan, as you can see here.  It is okay to have no theme also.

Manage:  Always start on time, waiting only ten minutes at the most. Let the writers know that they have to be on time. At least respect the ones who have made the effort to come on time. Rather than to wait for those who had no respect. (Yes, yes, everyone has ‘problems’.) It is fine if someone joins in late, but do not make those persons wait, who made the effort to be on time.

Equal opportunity: Do give a time slot to each one who attends the event. No one should go back feeling as if he or she wasn’t given enough time. You will find a few speakers‘stealing the show’ however, as the host, you need to make sure others get a full chance also.

Participate fully:Make a point of enjoying the process yourself also. Keep the management simple,but efficient. Be comfortable, and that will make everyone feel that way too.If you are all tensed up, no one can enjoy it either.

Punctuality:  Make sure the program goes according to plan. Usually, one to two hour session is best. So, start with personal introduction by each individual. Then a round of reading of their own work by each writer or poet. Then a second round, if time allows.

Stay focused: Do make sure the conversation doesn’t go to food, politics, religion or criticizing anyone’s work.

Snacks: These aren’t necessary at all. It can be in any of the following ways:

In a restaurant, order something simple like pakoras or samosas for all. It is understood that everyone goes Dutch. If acceptable then everyone orders their own thing, and pays individually, (more common abroad.)

If you are hosting, please have no elaborate menus! It moves the focus to food rather than literature, which we don’t want. Having a one- dish is convenient too, if you are having the event at your home.

 Books, authors and poets: If you want to make it regular, keep it simple, and keep it regular. The WhatsApp group or an email group can be maintained with each member, to stay in touch. You can have one person who manages it, or you can do it yourself.

Our heritage of poets and writer’s meet ups:

You know, Pakistan television had many programs which brought together authors of the times. We saw Ashfaque Ahmed, Bano Qudsia, Qudratullah Shahab, Mumtaz Mufti, and many other great writers sitting together and listening to music or discussing a topic of interest.

So, Meet-ups have been a tradition in the different ages. Many times poets got together for Mushaira or Baitbaazi  (- where a poet recited a couplet or verse, and the next person began his verse with the last letter of the last word used!) It was a very popular activity,which had hours of interesting poetry.

One realizes, that the times before television and internet had its own forms of entertainment. Now, we have to relocate these activities in our new world of today, to fill up the void of direct human interaction missing in our lives due to media and internet intervention.

My dear Reader, if we find anything in our lives unsatisfactory – be proactive and do something about it! Stay blessed. 🙂 

Writer’s Meet-up and Matthew Vaughan.

The first time I met Matthew Vaughan was at the PANA meeting mentioned here. He was reading out from his upcoming book, Notes from the Sacred Land. It was charming,  based on his experiences in Pakistan. The article about his taxi ride was quite hilarious and so typical of life in Pakistan. Next I knew, he had published the book through Mr. Books.  (The publishers in UK had refused, believing that  a positive image of Pakistan, doesn’t sell.

(So, unmasking terrorism or women’s oppression in Pakistan is still the ‘good’ stuff!)

Continue reading “Writer’s Meet-up and Matthew Vaughan.”

Good memory takeaways

Looking back and taking wonderful things forward…

A bonfire for writers and poets’ meet-up of Arts and Literary Guild at Mazhar Nisar’s house. 

When we look back, it depends on our present mood, whether we remember the ‘good’ parts or the ‘bad’ ones. If I’m in a good mood, then I’ll only remember the wonderful things in my past. When I’m in a bad mood, only sad things will be remembered.

Why is it?

 I think it is physics.

 It is a wavelength which we ‘connect’ to. So, make sure your present feelings (and wave lengths) are good. Then whatever you recollect, will be good too.

How’s that for a theory?!

Anyhow, I feel like sharing some recent happy events, and share what we both can take away from these. 

1.    Aroosha’s baby’s birthday:

(Teacher and student’s takeaway.)

‘I’d love to see my student as grown ups!’ I often thought, while teaching my little students, specially these forth graders. – In fact, every grade I’ve taught was the same. Of course, I knew, it wasn’t possible. But I did tell them:

‘If you ever see me, do come and meet me.’ I would add,

‘Remember that you will be changing a lot with time, I won’t be able to recognize you. So, you will need to tell me, and reconnect.’

Many of them have done so.  They came up to me at different times in my life and I can’t tell you how happy I’ve felt seeing them, all grown up leading successful lives. Naturally, my Facebook is full of many of my old students.

I always say that ‘Teaching is the next best thing to motherhood.’

So, when Aroosha invited me on December 31st. 2018, I was able to attend the party, and it was great. I also met several other students, and her brother.

My student and his mother. 

Student’s  take-away :

  1. Stay in touch with teachers.
  2. Do involve them in your life events.
  3. Do ask them if ever you need any mentoring later on in life.
  4. Please do understand, if they cannot accept every invitation.
  5. Also, understand, if a teacher attends one student’s function and cannot do so with others. It isn’t about you, it is something happening in their own lives, which they can’t share with you.
  6. Whenever you have an old students’ gathering, do invite your teachers.

Teachers’ take-away:

  1. It is easy to be connected with students these days. It is a good way to see how the students are doing in life.
  2. Assuring them, that you are there for them is vital.
  3. While teaching, keep a time and space to reach out to your students. Be available. Money isn’t everything. These beautiful human beings are far more important.
  4. Students need our mentoring, in their lives.We know, there are few counselors here.
  5. Many of our students come from broken or breaking homes. Our few words of support can make a big difference.
  6.  Perhaps, you can help if a student is in depression or harboring suicidal thoughts, you can change their minds.
  7. I’ve had students helping me later on in life too. Just as I was there for them, they have been there for me too.  I had helped a student once. Later, on I had to leave due to surgery. This same student would ring me daily and keep me cheered up. Another student, Mahru sent me prayers to help me heal. Many of them sent me cards. So, it is definitely, a two-way relationship.Once, a student Roheen was in UK when my husband passed away. She asked me hows he could help me. I asked her to be in contact with my daughter there. So, now they are friends too. Recently, Gul Noor and Taha Asif reconnected with me. Oh I could go on and on…. 

Writer’s Bonfire Meet-up 

(Writer’s perspective and being a guest.)

Imagine having a bonfire in the cold drizzle?

How could it be?

It was amazing!

This bonfire was there in the drizzle as we sat around it. Yes, it was very warm. 

The Bonfire was hosted by Mazhar Nisar, who is a PTV World newscaster, and a wonderful poet. He is a member of Arts and Literature Guild  of Shabnam Riaz. As you know, we have these meet-ups and we join each other’s group events. A bonfire was much talked about, and we all were looking forward to it.

The date fell on a cold, rainy ‘dismal’ day. But thanks to everyone’s determination, especially that of Mazhar, and Shabnam, it turned out awesome!

Sahil Faraz singing his composition. You can find his songs on my Instagram. 


 Mazher had asked Sahil Faraz to sing some beautiful songs. There we sat and enjoyed his melodious and heart -warming songs.  I specially loved his own composition. The food, the music, and finally each writers’ and poets’readings was really heart warming.  Mazhar had ordered delicious barbecued food for us, and of course we ate well.

It turned out to be a real memorable evening.

Your take away:

  1. When someone invites you, try to accept.  Even if you have apprehensions of distance and weather. Just go well clad. Put on really warm clothes and keep good shoes in your car. (Trust the host to manage. Otherwise, help.)
  2. Remember, if you don’t go, probably, others wont be going too, and it could spoil the party.
  3. Once there, get into the mood of the event. Be sporting and help the host.
  4. Yes, you will get plenty of memories to takeaway!

Rashid, son of Abdul Rahim’s wedding. 

(Domestic help relations.)

Abdul Rahim whom I’ve known for twenty years. 

It was Rashid’s wedding, the only son of Abdul Rahim; who has cooked in my home for last twenty years or so. He has always been there for me. He lost his wife, four years ago, a little after my husband passed away.

He is the one who said he needed no pay, when I had no money. So, naturally, I went to attend his son’s wedding, just as I’ve attended both his daughter’s weddings in good times too.

It felt wonderful to see how much Rahim has taken care of his Bhabis who lost their husbands – (his brothers). Both were there, being given prime respect and place in the event. So, goodness is in the nature of humans, being rich or poor doesn’t matter. He of course, had me sitting on the stage with the bride to have the food with her, and his daughters.

They gave me so much VIP treatment. Rashid’s boss too had helped him with this event. It was Rashid who had called me when my husband died, asking me, ‘How much money do you need?’ I said, ‘what does it matter?’ He said, ‘my boss is very rich, he will help you. Just tell me how much you need, I’ll get it for you!’

Rahim’s daughters with the bride. 

Of course, I wasn’t going to take from him, but his saying it was enough for me.

This is the kind of people they are.

Your take away:

  1. Always keep staff who is recommended. Be straight, fair and just with them.
  2. Be kind and supportive with your staff.
  3. Do attend their life events. It means a lot.
  4. Naturally, they too will attend your life events.
  5. Understand how hard it is to manage in these times. Do as much financial support as possible. If cash isn’t possible, then give gifts. For instance, whenever they go on leave, hand them a gift to give the wife, or mother, so they don’t have to go home empty handed. (I’m sure most of us have so many things lying in our homes.)

Mansoor Rahi and Asrar Farooki gifted me paintings: 

(Mentors and colleagues)

Paintings gifted by Mansoor Rahi 2018 and 2019 . 
Mansoor Rahi, gifting me his painting on his birthday. How could I not have him as my mentor? I’m blessed by such great mentors. May I learn more than their art from them!

Yes! Actually. I’m so thrilled. Here I am so happy with them. Sir Mansoor Rahi gifts us with his paintings every year on his birthday on 1st January. It was the same this time too.

Later, on Asrar Farooqi who is known for his Rawalpindi cityscenes, offered to gift me a painting. It was too good an offer. 

Asrar gifted this painting to me. He also helped me so much during my painting exhibition. 

Your take away:

  1. Stay connected with your mentors, give them their due respect and regard.
  2. Do help your colleagues whenever possible. (Always do it for Allah’s sake.)
  3. So, if they gift you with their blessings. Take it happily! 😉

Alhamdolillah, life can be good. So, keep thinking of these parts, while you get some nasty bits to bear in life.

Koi baat nahi, sab theek ho jata hai. Insha Allah. (Don’t worry, everything will be fine, God-willing.)  If nothing else, there would be plenty of takeaways in the form of lessons to be handy for rest of one’s life! 😉

Mansoor Rahi’s painting gifted last year. 

Stay blessed, my wonderful Reader. I’ve really grown to love you all. More so, for reading my blogs, even when they are soooooooo long!

Elephant in the room?

Why is nothing being done about about population planning in Pakistan? 

Everyone is ignoring the monster of over-population. Our people are producing like rabbits. So, it’s a rabbit in the garb of an elephant in the room!

Nathalene and I are seated here during a session of SDPI at Margalla hotel on 5th December,2019. 

On December 6th I was invited by Nathalene Reynolds of SDPI, to be a discussant at their panel. It was truly an honor to rub shoulders with a panel chaired by Muneeza Hashmi the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz. She has served for many years as the head of Hum TV, Lahore. The topic was Redefining the Roles of Civil Societies in South Asia. All the speakers shed light on various interesting and alarming aspects of these organizations.

The presentations of speakers were extremely interesting and fascinating, dealing with topics like child right protection, hardships of  ‘haris’ in Sindh, and issues faced by Civil Societies in general, the world over.

As I sat listening, I realized, that the reality is that the civil societies emerge due to negligence or inability of government organizations to fulfill the urgent needs of the society. These are organizations made by the people on a no-profit basis, to fill that gap. 

Most of these societies wouldn’t be needed if the government allocated the required amount of funds for health and education in our country. Therefore, the insufficient funds for Health and Education, have resulted in most civil societies, today.

So, the need of the hour is for the government to allocate at least three times more funds for health and education, as compared to what they are allocating now.

All that effort being put for health and education by the Civil Societies, could be put in fields of even more importance.

In Pakistan, at the time of partition, Civil societies helped with resettling of refugees. When that was completed, they started helping women and children, and in health care.

Now, these societies are working to establish orphanages, clinics, hospitals, schools for underprivileged children. Happily, I found out that many organizations are working through out the country. Edhi has worked at a large scale, followed by innumerable others. The list is long. However, this list need not be doing the work of the government. Especially now, when more tax payers are there paying taxes. 

Redefining role of civil societies:

We need to redefine the role of Civil Societies by placing more emphasis on the two factors which could get us out of a lot of trouble:

  1. Family planning.
  2. Research.

Family planning:

Today, the South Asian countries have one fourth of the world’s population. We are busy weeping and wailing about this problem and that one. All of them have the same root cause: over population!

 Let the civil societies handle the monstrous issue of over population and family planning because that is what the government isn’t doing at all. This is the most urgent need of the hour. 

The need for research:

The other element is that of research. There is no authentic source of research in our country. Nothing is reliable. Without research we cannot know the gravity of any situation. Therefore, this is essential. (Here is an opportunity for a new entrepreneur.) 

One follower of mine, shared this picture of me, 
on Instagram, 

As I spoke, I looked at the elder persons in the room and asked them, ‘isn’t it true that the country did aggressive campaigning for family planning, ‘Bachay do hi achay’ (two children are good enough.) Now, the most they can say is ‘waqfa zaroori hai.’(Space between children is important.) They dare not talk about family planning. Why can’t they say that prevention is vital. I do not propagate, nor believe in abortion, only contraception and prevention.  A strict regimen for prevention of more than three pregnancies in every woman in our society is a must. This must be given primary importance.

Here is an amazing statistic that I found online regarding having three-children-families only. Notice, Pakistan’s name is no where here. Let us work towards having our name in this list, with the fastest improvement.

Our society is amazing, they don’t think of Islam while being corrupt right left and center, stealing, murders, child abuse, honor killings, usurping women’s properties, and everything else going on.  But Islam comes in while even thinking of family planning! (I wonder if it would have come into this issue, had the men had to produce those brats, feed and clothe them while being dependent on a stingy husband to deal with too!) This issue has got to be addressed, otherwise Pakistan in particular, and south Asian countries in totality will never get out the dilemma of poverty.

Epilog:

In Peshawar in 1994, I met a doctor while doing research for an article. He told me that he had just completed his degree in Preventive Medicine from England. I was intrigued about this subject. He explained it like this: 

‘Supposing a bridge is broken. Instead of repairing the bridge or building a new one, you say, ‘don’t worry, when someone falls, I’ll pick him out of the river.’ (That is what our Civil Societies are doing right now!) They are saving humanity by getting them out of the water. Then educating them, and feeding and clothing them!’

We have to think that the bridge needs to be built up. Secured. Control the number of population to the extent that is needed. Otherwise, you will constantly be needed to get people out of the river!

So what can be done?

  1. Change your mindset first. Brain storm how you can make a difference in our society. The need is to change the mindsets of people, specially educated and uneducated ones. Each one of my readers is now at a place in society where you can make a difference in one way or another. 
  2. Do campaigning for planned-parenthood at every level. All of you are in contact with people of lower socio-economic groups, influence them to not have more than two or three children.
  3. Give bonus for education of two children only. (That will send a silent message to others.)
  4. Organizations should facilitate parents with fewer children: 
    •  Give warnings to personnel having third child.
    • Facilities of health and education in factories for two children of workers.
    • Schools offering free education of two children to teachers and employees.
  5. Organizations offer good accommodation facilities to employees with two children only.
  6. One or two maternity leaves only.
  7. Health workers and contraception facilities to be offered free of cost to every home in country, whether it is in rural or urban areas.
‘Whenever I walk in a room,everyone ignores me.’

At personal level each of us must convince and facilitate staff at home and in organizations, about family planning. Be totally, unsympathetic to persons talking about having had so many children.

I know of the village of Tamman where people have few children. They are conscious of this fact, and it is done for many generations to reduce division of agricultural lands.

Stay blessed, my wonderful reader, we’ve got to stop producing like rabbits and think at a national and international level now. 🙂 

Closure


A closure helps you to move on….

‘Ever tasted a bad-tasting chalghoza (pine-nut) – or any BAD nut for that matter?’

What do you do? Keep it in your mouth to savor the flavor, or quickly spit it out?’

Spit it out!

What actually happens, is that you tend to keep it in your mouth longer. You can’t believe it isn’t that tasty nut that you were getting earlier. The previous ones were really delicious. This one isn’t.

You are wondering if I’m talking about that bad nut – or that bad thing that happened in your life.

Both!

It’s about that shocking development in life, it may be getting downsized from your job, or ending a relationship. I’m talking about the closure that is necessary to move on in life, and how to do it. It is usually, a loss of some sort.

Whatever!

Treat your wounds:

Ever been injured? You have. So you know how it is: you need to recuperate. You go into hospital, get treatment and also get a lot of attention.  So, what do you do with an emotional injury? Do the same! Take a break. You need time to recuperate from it.

So, try to treat it like a wound, and treat it.

Look,  I don’t know your problem. But I do know the process of closure to move on. This is how you do a closure:

It is a simple ‘one, two, three’ process:

1.     Face it and accept it:

 Once you have recognized it and realized it, please do not stick around there for too long! (Or you can damage yourself in the process.) Then take the steps needed to close it. Take out your personal journal and write down, all the points which have convinced you where you are. Please do not get carried away. Try to keep it crisp and short. I know it is hard. The point is to get out of it,not get more into it!

2.    Learn your lessons.

Sit down again. Write down what you are going to take away from this experience. Yes, you are going to come out brighter, shinier and wiser. Believe me, there was a reason why Allah Mian put you through this process. Say two naffals and ask God to to show you why He made you go through this experience. If you can’t understand any of it now. Still do ask Him. It will come to you in time. Write now, you just have to sanely walk away from this pain-zone. 

‘Pray that you may find out what it is that Allah is trying to explain to you through this experience.’ My friend Seema always says. Good point!

3.     Fill in the gaps in your life.

Always when suddenly, you find yourself out of a job or out of a relationship, you realize how big a chunk from your life, you were giving to it. Now, there is this huge gap in your life where that ‘chalghoza’ stood! Ummm lets call it something bigger…. What can it be? An Alien.

Of course, it was an alien, because actually, it didn’t belong in your life, and you had given it that space. So, all those times that you gave to the alien will now need to be filled up with some other wonderful activities. Make a list of all the wonderful things you will be able to do now. Starting with all the friends who were getting neglected, all the trips you had not gone to, and all the parties that you couldn’t attend earlier. Look at the bright side, now you can finish that book and watch that movie!

See?

Not so bad at all!

Remove the debris:

All those things, which remind you of –you-know-who just chuck them out. Give to a charity, or your staff. Or go and return it to the person or organization. Remember it is all now a debris of all that it was in your life. So, when a building falls, you remove the debris, to build a new house there. Simple! Right now, you are ‘removing the debris.’ Do it ASAP.

Do, not be condescending of all the good times. Don’t. Keep your perspective. Remember the good times as good times, and bad times as bad times. It was great when it was great. Now, it is bad.

So make a quick closure and get on with the rest of your life. I mean we don’t have much time to waste here in this world. Hurry up and get on with it!

Recovery process:

  1. Recognize the five stages of grief: Whenever there is a loss of any kind, one is bound to go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, blame, depression and finally acceptance.  Try to start with acceptance. (Then you can skip the rest, hopefully.) By the way, these stages aren’t always in the same order. It is different for everyone. But starting with acceptance makes you go through the rest very easily. ‘Allah ki marzi thi!’ (it was God’s wish!)
  2. Say a big ‘Alhamdolillah’ and ‘Thank God!: Count your blessings.  Just count everything you have. You can stop at five, ten or twenty. Hurry up. You have things to do…
  3.  Go out and give something to a less fortunate person: Do it with your own hands. Don’t just sign a check, or give online. Okay, do that first, then take a meal and go and give it to someone yourself. That will give you the greatest happiness. (It will give you the greatest happiness even when you are already happy!)
  4. Meeting with yourself: You are now ready to embark on your new life! Jump up and down and do some exercise, then get that journal, and plan your whole life out, (without the – you-know- who-or whatever-organization- it-was). Remember: it has now got to be a BETTER life for you! Also, pray for the well-being of the unfortunate organization or the you-know-who, too. We are being very magnanimous here now!) jokes, aside, this is important also. 
  5. Decide to do no foul mouthing: You cannot go fast out of that zone by talking against the person or management. Remember, it was never all bad. So, keep it that way. Go out into your new life, with your honor, dignity, grace, poise, peace-of-mind, happiness, all intact.

I’m dying to say something that I said when I was very small and my mum gave me a good beating.I said, ‘phoo makhi baitha!’ – apparently, someone had taught me that. So, I got another whack for that! Now we sit and laugh about it. I’m sure I didn’t find it funny then, at the age of four!

Now, I do.

So, a time will come when all this will be a thing of the past. You will be into your future.

You will look back at this time, and thank Him for His blessings. So, Stay blessed, my dear one. You are great. 🙂

Ejaz Art Gallery

One of the most happening art galleries…

I love the way the tree was saved while building the gallery. 🙂

Ejaz Gallery is located in Gulberg, Lahore.  The owner used to have a framer shop in Gulberg, near Mini Market. Then it grew into an art gallery, and there was no turning back. Lately, it has become one of the most prominent Art Galleries of Lahore. About ten days ago, I was in Lahore, and walked through this gallery.

An exhibition of the Iranian artist was on, Fairy, my friend took me over. She is herself a great art connoisseur and her house is full of original works of art. It was just great walking through the gallery, with her. Let me take you along .

What I like most is the fact that the owner takes pride in his back ground of starting out as a framer. So, he has put ‘framer’ at the bottom of the board declaring it as Ejaz Gallery.

Saeed Akhtar is one of the most dynamic portrait painters in Lahore. He has devoted his life to painting of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Here are some of his other works. 
Loved this unusual and very realistic painting. 

Mashkoor Raza of course, who was a student of Hajra and Mansoor Rahi in Karachi School of Arts. 
 
This is made with wool, yes can you believe it? 
Set of three panels, which have to be seen. 

I love it when a person is grounded and candid. After all, that is what true art is all about. It is being candid in an artistic way. A moment of contemplation, an accumulation of thoughts and pride in one’s self. Pride in one’s city,  back ground, and ideas.

Stay blessed, my wonderful Reader, do follow your passion. Make time for it, and also to see how others are working in their fields of interest too. I came back very inspired. How about you? 🙂

Categories Art

Ending 2018 – starting 2019 !

Loved going to this Mustard field midway between Islamabad and Lahore. 

Hi, Everyone! I’ve grown to love you all so much. What amazing folks you are, in spite of your heavy back-to-back busy days; you give me time. Your Instagram comments make it all worthwhile. Such amazing bloggers as Tamania (Urdu Mom) and Shehzeen, and many others like Anum, have bowled me over. Most of all, I love your comments here on my blog posts. Specially Kiran. Thank you all so much. I was deeply touched, when I saw a  post on New Year’s eve by a follower who remembered me and my family while standing in front of Kaaba. (I loved it when she wrote, ‘shireen, mother of Waliya.) This sight became hazy as tears of gratitude misted my vision.  How much my Allah has blessed me to have such readers and followers! Truly humbled.

Honestly, you all rock!My blog posts are a sharing of our mutual experiences, while living in this world of today. Feeling good that others too are in the same type of boat, and we aren’t alone.  We laugh, we cry, we bond with each other. We share our moments of revelations, our moments of panic and our moments of joy.

Alhamdolillah – and Subhan Allah!

I’m glad the Instagram pictures will give you an idea of all that I’ve been up to. So, I’ll keep it brief here. (If that is possible for me… I’m trying!)

Wedding Season:

December was all about weddings! (And blasting one’s budget.)

I attended three functions in Lahore, hosted by my friend Ayesha and her husband Shahid. It was their son Azeem’s wedding, he has worked in one of the top-most international oil companies, and studied from Harvard. Having known the groom from the time of his birth, it was fun attending the wedding. I stayed with my good friend Riffat and her husband Naim bhai whose hospitality I’ve enjoyed always. His stuffing me with fruit every morning, is always a treat.  Our chit chat is full of humor and fun.

Nikah sermon by Shehzad:

 The nikah ceremony of Azeem and Rehab was great. The sermon itself was the best I’ve heard in my life. The young man Shahzad who has a PhD in study of Quran, from USA, spoke about the relationship between spouses:

I loved capturing this moment between the new husband and wife!

During the sermon, Shahzad mentioned the importance of tolerance, being forgiving, not keeping score, importance of fidelity ( belonging completely to one another,) and being each other’s source of comfort and tranquility as mentioned in verse 21 of Surah Rum.

Then, every few years to ask yourself:

 ‘will she, (or he) marry me now, if she had a choice?’ – wow, that was a big one! I just loved his casual and ‘straight from the heart’ way of speaking which was in Minglish – a combination of English and Urdu.

Loved it. (If I ever marry again, I’d ask him to be there! – just kidding of course!)

 In between the functions in Lahore, I managed to meet my dear friend Fairy, whenever I could. We’d meet late night and afternoons, at her home which is the picture of grace and beauty.

While being very elegant, it is very comfortable. As you plonk yourself comfortably on these sofas, the hosts make you feel as if you are the most important one in the room! My friends and I have so many memories of lovely afternoons and evenings spent in this room. 

Most of all her home reflects her taste. Fairy is the epitome of the ultimate in thoughts and well being. A teacher of Holy Quran at Al Huda for many years, she teaches the complete Holy Quran in Ramzan which is called ‘dawra-e-Quran.’ Also, throughout the year, she teaches on a daily and weekly basis. She is down to earth, loving and very grounded. She, has always been there for me during my down periods of life. May Allah bless her.

I’ll do a full blog post on her home soon. 

Tanveer, my BSc friend, arranged a get-together at her place, so I could meet our mutual friends. There was Yasmin Anwar and Shehla (Tabassum couldn’t make it due to guests). We sat and wondered at how long we all have been friends.

Tanveer and Pervaiz bhai here;  I was there on their wedding, later we all were together in Karachi, when my husband and he became good friends. In fact, my husband taught him how to use computer for his business. So, this time when he learnt from me how to download the Careem app to his phone, I felt a real dejavu. I looked at Tanveer and shared my thoughts with her. 🙂

Parvaiz bhai, went to make tea for me. This has been his tradition right from the time they got married. He (a prominent business man of car’s spare parts in Lahore,) has always prepared amazing tea for me. 

So, later on I managed to meet Tabassum and Saadat bhai also. I wanted to go by Careem, but it was a late foggy night and my friends were apprehensive.

Tabassum and Saadat bhai it was great being with them, and having an impromptu dinner with them. His sister Api gave me her recipe book and pickles. 

I couldn’t understand why can’t they let me go by Careem? I said, ‘But why? Isn’t it great being our age? What’s to fear?’ I had a good laugh. But they didn’t find it funny at all. Riffat sent me with her driver, in her car. Okay, so with Tabassum asking me to teach her how to send her current location link on WhatApp, I explained by sending her pics of each step, till she ‘got it.’ So, I went through the crazy labyrinth of Lahore roads to her home, with Google’s help! (Thank you Google!) There, I asked her to take me to Mum’s oldest friend, living near her home in Kot Lak Pat. So, I met my Aunty Surraya who was present at my parent’s wedding. 

My aunty Surraya Waqar and myself, thrilled to meet each other. 

Ten Golden friendship rules:

We counted the years, and the quality of our friendships, (lasting for over four decades.) We have never had a single fight or misunderstanding.

Actually!

Here’s why:

  1. We have loved and accepted each other as we are.
  2. Just laughed off and enjoyed each other’s idiosyncrasies.
  3. Have always been there for each other.
  4. Never counted how many times who visited whom.
  5. Learnt good values and ideas from each other.
  6. Enjoyed each other’s company.
  7. Understood, if another couldn’t ‘make it’ to a meeting.
  8. Made allowances for each other, no matter what.
  9. Kept each other’s confidential sharing of situations.
  10. Gave gifts to each other, no matter how big or how small.

Directing 101 classes:

Returning back to Islamabad, and dashing off to my Directing class, it was a treat as usual. 

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Directing 101 class this evening.

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 You all know of my Screenwriting 101 classes for beginners written here, which I attended last October. Now, it was the next one on Directing 101 from December 3rd till 27th . . It was another amazing session.  Imagine studying about something where you get ‘homework’ to watch movies! Yes, great.

 We were shown scenes from epic movies, and some unknown ones (for me). The age difference among us students was evident when one of my ‘class fellows’ asked ‘who is Clint Eastwood?’ Of course, they were shocked at my ignorance of several young stars of today! Our class was divided into two,

  • Those who were okay with violence in films.
  • Those who weren’t.

We saw Arsalan’s amazing film on YouTube on the APS students. It gave us goose bumps. Yes, it is one talented group here.Loved being part of it. We all are full of plans. Lets see if anything comes out.

After attending the course, we appreciated our instructor Mian Adnan Ahmed’s work in his film ‘Heal’ even more.

Mansoor Rahi’s birthday on 1st January 2019:

I took this pic from the documentary, really liked it. Just love the way they support each other while pulling each other’s leg too. 

Simply love this couple who is so down to earth, great, full of humor and love. They are so talented, so disciplined in a very nice sort of way, and so focused. They are clear about where they are, and where they want to be.

And…

They are unstoppable.

Mansoor Rahi’s birthday falling on first of January, every year have us all drawn to this function. Why? This is why:

  • We all (his students and friends) are invited for lunch by Mansoor Rahi.
  • He gifts us his paintings. – yes, to every one of us!-  And to his guests.
  • We are given some more of his pearls of wisdom.
  • This year, there were two documentaries shown:, one on Mansoor Rahi and other on Hajra Mansoor.
  • As usual there was delicious lunch of chicken palao, salad and korma,  finished off with gulab jamuns and cake for sweet dish.

It is always Aania who manages the event in her smooth manner. I was asked to host the program, and everyone listens so sweetly, that I feel like going on and on. Ofcourse, we all love hearging from our mentor about why two things are the most important.

Two factors to follow your passion :

Mansoor Rahi has always insisted that we have to take care of two things when we want to follow our passion in life:

  1. Take care of your health:
    1.  Drink plenty of water,
    1. Sleep on time,
    1. Take a healthy diet
    1. Do plenty of exercise daily.
  2. Lead a disciplined life.

He said, ‘I’ve met many artists in my time who left this world prematurely due to not following a balanced life pattern. Excess of drinking, drugs and lack of sleep and proper diet, ended their lives and their output. This is why if you want to make something of your life, make sure you mind these two factors. Only then can you pursue your passion in life.

We all come back home, inspired, satisfied and dying to get to our canvases to start painting again.

Quite a good start to the new year, isn’t it? How was yours?

Do let me know, I’d love to know how your life is going. Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones.  🙂

Holidays – opportunities for bonding with children.

If life is difficult for us in these times, consider how hard it is for our children. Remember ‘for love, you need time’. When you get the time, don’t throw it away, by putting children into ‘summer classes’ and ‘winter break activities’. Spend the time with them. Otherwise, later on don’t wonder why there is no bonding, no caring. How can it be when at every opportunity you are looking for ways to get the children out of the way?

Come to think of it, how much time, do we have with our children? Most of the time, one is telling them, ’get up’, ‘get ready’, ‘have food’, ‘time for school’ ‘Finish your homework!’ So, after all that is done, how much time is there? Even when it is there, we are busy with something or the other.

So, while making the weekly, plan during summer or winter vacations do plan for activities with children. Cook nice dishes for them, arrange fun activities. Let them feel important.

Remember when you have guests, then you are with them, your children are not getting your attention. So, when you give time to your children, it means giving your full attention to them also.

Every summer, I’m being asked about classes for art or other activities, where mothers can put their children. Why?

Why not take every vacation in school as an opportunity to bond with your child at home? In fact, many times, I’ve taken the children with me by taking leave from school. I believe, our children learn more through travel. 

One of our most memorable holidays in USA, here we are at the Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. 

Lots of time, I’m asked how have I got such lovely daughters, well it is because I had special ‘family time’ on a daily basis with them. During vacations I planned out lovely outings and activities for us to do together. Even on weekends we went on outings. Such outings and activities are important for bonding among family members.

If such times are not planned properly, I knew we would mostly get on each other’s nerves. (That doesn’t mean we never got on each other’s nerves. We still did some times.) So, it was best for us to balance it all. If there were ten days of winter or spring break, I’d make a plan for activities for at least four to five days. If possible, we would bring their father also into our plan. Otherwise, we went on our own. I’d get a tourism department brochure on places to visit in the city. (Remember, it was the time before internet.) Then I’d check out the activities and events in newspapers. Most of the time I knew what was going on, as I was writing about many events, in magazines and newspapers. So, we’d mark out what we wanted to do:

Yes, they are rather grown up now, but this is how its always been – right from the time they were babies. Here we are in Nathiagali when we went for two days, and stayed at this beautiful and charming place. 

Before leaving:

  • Just get the house tidied up, so we come back to agood neat home.
  •  I’d make sure there was food in the ‘fridge. Mostly, I’d take along snacks, or even a meal to be taken as a picnic.
  • We would often use the opportunity to eat out.
  • Usually, I’d have the food cooked a day before.
  • Water, (yes, there were no mineral bottles then.) Juices, and we were ready.
  • Sometimes, we’d take our pets along too, if it was an outdoor location.

Where to go?

  • Art gallery.
  • Zoo.
  • Puppet theater.
  • Funfair.
  • Fun land.
  • Museum.
  • Science museum.
  • Folk heritage.
  • Have a picnic in a beautiful spot.
  • Watch movies.
  • Take them for theater plays.
  • Specially, take them to book fairs.
  • Take them to literary festivals, and get them books.  

Points to keep in mind:

  • Keep it short and crisp, if needed. Avoid dragging an event. This will make them hate such outings.
  • Keep it fun.
  • Have their favorite snacks hidden in your purse, to give when their moods get bad.
  • I’d ask you to keep your personal calls and smart phone time, totally limited. (I’m being realistic enough to not ask you to avoid altogether.)
  • Do not take your maid with you. Do everything for your children yourself.

Indoor activities:

Of course you don’t go out daily. So, have indoor activities too. Let them help with household chores too. Then all of you can do something together. It can be any of the following:

  • Reading out the holy book, (one person reads andeveryone listens.)
  • Cuddle up on the carpet to watch a movie,
  • Play a game.
  • Sing songs together.
  • Dance together with music on full blast.
  • Just talk for hours, if you feel like it.
  • Share important events in life with each other.
  • Cook their favorite meal with their help in the kitchen. 
  • Throw a party, with party games in it. Let it all be a family event, where each person does something. (Instead of leaving all the work for you alone.) Remember to give them full credit during the party. One child can lay the table, other can make the salad and sweet dish. One of them can serve the cold drinks to the guests. Everyone can help clean up afterwards.
  • Cleaning up, or sorting out clothes, cupboards and drawers.
  • Planning and doing a new setting of lounge or the kid’s bedroom.

There are times in life when you do not have to play your role as a parent too much. Just be a friend to your kids, play silly games with them. I tell you, laughing together is the best medicine for all.

Having a favorite breakfast together. 

Stay blessed, lovely ones. Parenting can be so much fun, if you let it be so.