Workshop, walk and weekend!

Weekend with friends.. 

All writers work with the four ‘W’s: “What, When, Where, Why” But when I thought of last week and the weekend, I realized this too had four Ws in it! …..  You see, towards end of any week, one wants to complete everything in order to have a free weekend. Then one wants a good weekend too. Last week I felt that just as we jam up our weeks with work, we jam up our weekends with activities too. We need to …. stop and go slow! (Just like my cat Muffin here.) We need time to look out of the window. Just chill.

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My cat knows how to chill….

We have a tendency to fill our ‘to do’ lists with ‘big things‘. It is important to leave some space for the ‘little things’. Like sorting out drawers, files  and cupboards etc. etc. and so on.

It was my friend saying, “On weekends, while I want to do NOTHING – you want to do EVERYTHING!” Yes, someone knows me too well.  So, this time, I did everything on Thursday and Friday and had time for slowing down on Saturday and Sunday. How’s that?

On Thursday and Friday I went to complete my income tax returns work, with Mr. Liaqat. (Hey, it takes time.)

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Mr. Liaqat at work.

Earlier, I was quite amused on the way up to the first floor to find this:

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Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it!

– Couldn’t help thinking I’m going for some sh…ty business! ( Jokes aside, getting your income tax returns, isn’t so.)

“How much will I have to pay?” (Realizing how low my finances are now.)

“It is no issue, as you have already paid so many taxes that there is a fair chance the department is indebted to you already.”

That felt great. I heaved a sigh of relief.

I reached my car and  got surrounded with cute Afghan beggar girls. So, I decided to get a bag of chips for them, as I got one for myself. I thought these children would be surrendering all cash to whoever makes them beg. At least they can eat whatever I give them. They happily waved me good bye as I drove off to ‘Karachi company’ in G-9 Sector, for my grocery shopping work.

 

 

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It is one of the most popular shopping places in Islamabad. It is great for getting everything for the least possible price. Hence the oppressive rush. Parking is an illusion now. So, I was thrilled when I actually parked my car!

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Before my fruit shop, I slipped into another favorite crockery shop at the corner, where you can get anything. I even got a toaster, and what not. I left the stuff there, while I went over to the fruit shop. They know me well. The veggies and fruits are at amazing prices and quantities here. Finally, their helper carried all my shopping. He even carried the other stuff I got at the crockery shop. He refused to let me help and carried it all to my car – about 200 yards away. I tipped him with Rs.100 and he seemed happy with it.

As I sat in the car, looked into the rear view mirror to reverse;  I realized a Suzuki Mehran car was parked behind mine, in such a way that it had blocked me. I went to see, there was an elderly lady resting in the back seat. I spoke in Punjabi asking her about her ‘driver’? She told me her son had gone to get her medicines. I said, “You can get kidnapped here, Aman!” She smiled and said:

“Why don’t you drive the car to a better place?” I shook my head,

“There is no key.”

Two gentlemen appeared from nowhere, smiling and eager to help me. They had understood my dilemma. This was a Suzuki Mehran, which was my first car, so I sat down with the lady’s permission to get the car out of the gear. The guys pushed the car backwards, enough to get out of the way of my car. I thanked them. I told the lady, “do not trust anyone so much!” I thanked her and happily drove off in my car.

So, Friday morning, after clearing a few office works, the ‘joy‘ part of my weekend was beginning…. I called Naila, and was surprised to hear her say:

“I was thinking of you!” She said. Thankfully, by now she has got used to my spur of the moment plans. She liked the idea of us going off for lunch. So, I drove  to her place, as she was getting ready, she told me she had left the drawing room door open for me.

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Nailas drawing room.
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The view of her lovely garden from the drawing room.

I said my Friday prayers in this tranquil environment with the lovely view, giving me so much nostalgic joy.

In this very room, Naila and I sat and worked on editing my latest publication of Allama Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai. Very often she would offer me lunch. We would take short breaks, eager to get back to work. Its been an awesome experience. Often, we’d stop and just absorb what we were editing. Several times I would find it all very daunting. After all, working on Iqbal’s poetry is something one takes very seriously. Especially, when it is all meant for the  Young people in our country and in the world of today. I shared with Naila, what Zoha, my cousin’s daughter had said, that it is the best book for stress relief. Yes, I think we can call it our best stress buster. This is how she put it on her Instagram:

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Then we went off to English Tea House, the new place in Islamabad. Naila’s company, the ambiance of the place, food and dessert were great. You want to know what we had?  it was Chicken Panini, green tea with ginger and cheesecake. Sorry, forgot to take pics – I’m on a diet!  😉

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After I dropped Naila at her home. I picked up my new friend from Finland whom I had met at a PANA meeting in Serena. Lisamaria,  had agreed to go with me to a cultural event I’d been invited to. So, we went across town to Cultural Village where this event was taking place:

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Lisamaria is sitting to my left, while my friend Nayyar is on my right.

I met most of my art friends including  Asrar, Tayyaba, Saleha and Fauzia and others. My friend Lisa must have been very bored as the  function was in Urdu, and she could hardly understand any of it. This reminded me of once in Kuwait, when there was a lecture on Mughal Art. I was so thrilled, my hubby offered to take care of our small kids, while I went for it. As I entered, I realized the lecture was in Arabic. My husband had already left, so I had to sit it out! Lisamaria, was sweet enough to  let me enjoy the whole function. The situation made me realize, how important it is to check out the medium of language before taking a foreigner along to a function.

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The interactive session was nice, Hajra Mansoor told everyone, how even though she and her husband are almost opposite of each other in temperament as is seen by their art. She explained how they used their ‘differences’ to enrich each other.

21618039_1682399785126640_4077519242538376752_nInstead of being competitive – they are supportive; Instead of being argumentative they give space to each other. She said, “when anyone’s work is sold,  “we always share the amount earned.”

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Mansoor Rahi told everyone how they two got married,  that it was Zain ul Abidin’s idea. His own flavor of humor and pleasant manner of talking always charms one. He said that he is now eighty years old, adding “My wife tells me not to tell my age, then her’s gets known too!” Whatever their ages, they are icons and living legends for all artists today.

Hajra mentioned how disciplined their lifestyle is, while he told everyone how important it is to take care of one’s health. He mentioned how artists like Sadequin and Ahmed Pervaiz (to name a few) had an early end due to drinking habits and not caring what they ate. His wife, kept telling him not to mention names, but he insisted, as he said, “These are known facts, and you all as artist need to note these, in order to be good artists, it not just your art, but also your health that needs caring.”

I know, how this couple has made their art the center of their lives.

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Afterwards this fan of mine came over to meet me, and it was lovely. 🙂 She said she reads my blogs and follows my work also. It was a pleasure meeting you too. Hope to learn more about you next time.

I was so happy to meet my student-turned-friend Sarah, I taught her in O’levels, now she is mom of two lovely children:

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Sarah and I: she is an artistic and talented young girl.

Later on Lisamaria and I went to my place and chatted till late night, discussing all sorts of things like life in Finland and Pakistan. She is a vegetarian, so I had got cucumber sandwiches made by Hasnain, with samosas and pakoras and tea. Our chit chat was wonderful and flowing.

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Couldn’t stop myself from asking her: “Why did you choose to be in Pakistan out of the ten countries you have lived in?”

“Because” she said, “There is so much to do here, people are so warm and are busy doing things,” She went on, “I feel I can make a difference here, there is nothing much to be done there.” (Exactly how I feel too!)

She told me how she is teaching drama to Headstart school girls. She sang a beautiful song she had composed, and it was great. She is also helping women in Swat with export of embroideries to Finland. On the side, she is working on teacher training by Finland’s high educational standards to help the teachers in our schools.  I loved the idea, since Teacher Training has been a passion for me too.

I was dying to take her pic, but didn’t want to distract her as we chatted on. We also spoke about Panic Attacks and other issues we humans have on this earth – including the possibility of Trump being able to start a third world war –  if the world isn’t careful. She is very interested in History, and has said the world didn’t learn from how the First World War began. She liked my latest publication: Allama Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai, and of course got a copy of it. It was a lovely Friday evening.

All Saturday I spent working on files and sorting out things in my room. Sunday was good too, went for the Short Story Workshop taking place at Embassy Lodge by TWI (The Writer’s Institute).

Before leaving for it, while saying  farewell to my 90-year-old dad,  I told him where I was going and for what. He said “It is very important to upgrade one’s knowledge, and I’m so happy you are going for it!”

It was great to find the group was very responsive and diversified –  just the way I like it.

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Next sessions will be on 8th of October and 18th. I’m thrilled, as I found the teacher Awais Khan very competent and well versed in all that he was teaching us. He has studied in UK and is in the construction business here in Pakistan. He was appreciative of input by the ones who attended the workshop. It was a small group yet very involved, and well read. It was great talking about books, authors and movies and block buster series which have all happened due to short stories and novels like:  Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Gone with the Wind and many others. I know, many successful Pakistani television series have also come from novels and short stories of our brilliant writers in Urdu like Bano Qudsia, Ashfaque Ahmed, Dr. Sajjad, Saddat Hasan Manto, Mumtaz Mufti,  Umera Ahmed, and many others.

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Here i am with the instructor: Awais Khan.

I was happy to be learning new authors’ names and enjoyed reading their quotes.

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It was wonderful meeting Aisha, who was my colleague in ICAS many years ago. I told her how I admired her ability to say what she felt like, no matter what!

Learnt about a ‘Flash fiction’ which is the shortest form of fiction.

The one shown was by Earnst Hemingway:

“For sale. New-born baby shoes. Never worn.”

This was enough to say it all. End of story.

I should be stopping writing now. But I want to say my special thanks to you my readers. (You all deserve a special prize for reading so far. )

Before going any further, my dear Reader, I want to say something: 

 I really LOVE you. After the blog of mine called  A Strange happening, I received many messages from all over the world, to be cautious. Thank you so much for your concern. 

Also, I received a very sweet message through Waliya,  about a tip on Cholesterol control which I want to share with you all: “soak one teaspoon of Isafghol in half a glass of water at night, then have it first thing in the morning.” Thank you so much, and yes I’m doing it. Hope it will give me a better Cholesterol result this time. (Feel like giving you a big hug for caring so much.)

So, my walks are continuing too…..  at better times now 😉 .

At 5.00 pm after the Short Story Work shop.As I parked my car in the Park, I saw a family having a picnic, doing their cooking there .

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22007382_1683812594985359_5426629087091348843_nSuch childhood memories flooded in, this is how picnics used to be done when I was a kid. I remember some wonderful picnics with my Dadi Ji – my dearest Nighat Chachi’s mother – who would cook tasty liver dish and what not, along with tea as we played under the near-by Banyan trees. Then we would take a dip in the tube-well watering the fields, near Lahore.

Sigh!

Now, here I am walking along the lanes and streams. The water was there, so that was nice. But I could smell the dirty water, so I knew it wasn’t clean at all. How can we make sure our water is cleaner? Can’t help remembering the crystal clear waters of lakes in Washington State, USA.

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Love these flowers…

My walk was good. It was great seeing people playing football and other games.

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Yes, a great week and wonderful weekend. Hope yours was a great one too. Stay blessed lovely ones. 🙂

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