Isn’t it wonderful to be celebrating something together? The New Year of 2018….
Lots of folks talk about how backward this country is. Yes, in many ways. But in many ways it has taken many leaps forward. I know, I’ve witnessed the process.
Lots of progress witnessed by myself:
As I look, I see…. The motorway, internet, computers, mobile phones, smart phones, many television channels, signal free highways, Metro bus systems, reversible air conditioners, Careem and Uber taxis, information access from the smart phone, blogs, e-tickets, emails, I mean I could go on and on. We have known and lived in times without these things. Just a few years ago, we didn’t have all that we have today. Now, we use the internet to book seats in cinemas, get airline tickets, send articles to newspapers and blog, and do online banking, as well as transfer funds through the atm too. What else can you dream up? I know, I look forward to a more progressive world.
Anyhow, back to real life. My daughter Nadiya, her husband and Romana, his mother had come to stay with me on Wednesday December, 20th and stayed till Sunday, 24th.
“When will you ever come to meet me?” my daughter Nadiya was upset with me for not going over to Lahore with her. Somehow, I wasn’t feeling too good about my dad’s health at that time. I told her ‘I’ll go, once he is better.’ She made an unhappy face. “I do understand,” She whispered in my ear while saying good bye a while later.
Just three days later, on Wednesday of December 27th, at around 9.00 pm Haroon, Uzma and Daniyal had come over to visit, me at my home in Islamabad. Haroon mentioned, ‘We are going to Lahore tomorrow, and there is an empty seat in our car!’
Short trip to Lahore:
That did it. At Fajar when I got up, I sent a text to him, and one to Fairy … ‘I’m going to Lahore with you all.’ Fairy had immediately texted back that we all would meet up for lunch, she had invited my other friends too.
It is always a pleasure travelling with Uzma, Haroon and Daniyal. The break at the McDonalds and use of the really posh new rest rooms at Bhera was great. Being treated with the new Chapli kebab was delicious too.
I planned to surprise Nadiya, since her office timings were such that I had time to meet my college friends before going onwards. So, I got dropped at Riffat’s place. She took me to Fairy’s where Fitrat had also arrived. Since I had mentioned having salads for lunch. She had got some awesome snacks served with salads. The unusual spinach salad with special sauces, and the chicken fillet sandwich. Our usual chit chat was like a tonic.
Riffat had temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit. She never mentioned it to me, so mostly she was dozing as we all chatted. She had also brought me a silver chain and pendant which I’d lost in her home, the last time I had visited her. It had fallen on her sofa. I saw that she had gold-plated the silver chain and pendant. She even got it repaired, as some zircons were missing. Trust her. Of course I was thrilled with my pendant, knowing I would never have bothered to do all this. Our fourth friend Aisha was out of town or she too would have come. We were trying to remember how long it had been since we met last.
No one could remember.
Finally, we all agreed that it must have been at least two years. Later, when Haaris picked me up, and I mentioned this to him. He reminded me that I had been to Lahore and met them during last April, 2017! Later, I realized we had also met during our trip to Khewra salt mines. – Just imagine! Our memories are so bad! But Fairy said, on WhatsApp ‘it just shows how much we miss each other. That is why it seemed like two years!’
Then I was taken by Haaris to their home, where his mom – my samdan– had got my room all set for me. She had done some of her amazing cooking for me, along with baking two delicious cakes. I had no idea her staff hadn’t returned, (after Christmas,) and she did everything herself. My lovely idea of giving a surprise to my daughter meant that her mother-in-law prepared everything for us. Ok, this is the last time I give such a surprise.
As it happened, Nadiya was held up late at the office that day! She finally arrived, and jumped up and down with joy at seeing me there in their lounge, of course, there were tears of joy in her eyes.
My girl, all ready to go for the function with her hubby dear. May Allah bless them always.
So, it was great being with all of them, they had recently spent around four days at my place in Islamabad. I enjoyed sitting in the sun with Rumi in their lawn, and we sat and reminisced about our Pakistan Air Force lives, and common friends. She told me their family was invited to a wedding which they couldn’t avoid, and would love it, if I went along too.
The next evening there was the birthday party of her neice and brother-in-law. So, of course, I went along as we are family. As it turned out, I knew some folks in both places. It was a wonderful wedding and I got to meet my dad’s friends there. Also met Zeba Bakhtiar the great actor, who looked gorgeous, and I noticed her slim waist in her lovely sari.
The party that evening was fun too. – It was held outside in the freezing cold with the beautiful almost- full-moon out. The log fires, the music the moving twinkling lights and wonderful ambiance. It turned out to be a lovely evening.
The humus with chips and dips were really nice, as was the haleem and naans. The daughter Palvashe and her dad Adnan have birthdays on around the same day. (Hey, the birthday boy was Adnan the one who arranged the tour for the Harvard students as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog)
Travel back to Islamabad by Q-Connect:
Early 31st morning, (yesterday,) I returned home on December 31st afternoon. I came by Q Connect. It is the new luxury bus service between Lahore and Islamabad. It is so fancy that frankly I found it hard to operate the tv, and different gadgets. I think it would be good for Q-Connect to put up a video of how to use everything in their bus for its passengers, now, the poor stewardess has to keep going to every passenger explaining how things work! Finally, I got locked in the window-less very small bathroom! Controlling my panic, I banged on the door and got out after a few minutes which were pretty scary. Thanks to the movies, and YouTube available to each seat, there was no conversation. So, I’ll call this service Q Dis-Connect! Because, even though you sit for over four hours with the passenger next to you, hardly any words are exchanged. So, I enjoyed the episode of Baaghi which I had missed in Lahore, and watched part of an Indian movie. While having the delicious lunch of cashew nuts’ with chicken dish with boiled rice, and tasty brownie for dessert. I enjoyed the views too, while having my lunch. Loved the fact that the mustard fields were in full bloom.
Wasn’t it rather early? Or is it another proof of the changing weather due to global warming? Usually, they would bloom in end of January or in February.
On arrival in Rawalpindi, I called the Careem taxi service and was home in half an hour. My parents and Waliya were waiting to meet me at 2.30 pm. – Waliya had this beautiful bunch of red roses for me!
Speaking at the PANA meeting in Serena, Islamabad:
Within an hour I had to get ready to go to the function at Serena for the PANA meeting. Atle had asked me to say a few words. So, I did.
Would you like to know what I shared with them?
It was an incident which had had the greatest impact on me, in 2017.
It had happened in April last year, when my dad had got so ill that he was in ICU – Intensive Care Unit. He was unconscious and the doctors had given up on him, telling my daughter and myself that he won’t be able to survive. We were called back to the hospital to meet him for the last time. My daughter and I had sat up all night next to him, watching helplessly as his BP got lower. We were reading verses from Quran and praying in a resigned way.
Yet, as the sun rose, so did his blood pressure. He recovered, to the surprise of everyone. Today, he is fine.
‘How did this happen?’ I asked myself. How did a ninety year old man survive it all? I realized it happened due to a special thing that had happened the day before. He had insisted on going to the bank to get money to give Maskeen – the manager of his lands, who had asked my father for a loan of Rupees fifty thousand, for his son’s marriage. Maskeen was shocked to find out that my father had given him four times the amount – Rs.200,000/- . After my father got home, he tried to return the extra amount to me. Saying, ‘he has probably done so by mistake. I can’t take such a big loan. I’m a poor man, I cannot afford to return it.’ I also refused to take it from him. Telling him that if my father has given it, then it was his decision, neither my mother nor I would take it from him. Also, I knew my father would never give the amount as a loan. He usually, gives the money to people, if he can afford it. I realized, that it was this generosity of his which saved his life.
During my speech I told my audience that as I move into the next year, these are the things we all need to take with us. Lessons that I’ve learned from this incident: Faith, charity, forgiveness, love and kindness.
The speech of mine was very well received. During the session several poems of Norwegian language and others were read out. All had the same primary words: It is all about love and helping others.
Yes, this is the only message worth taking forward into this year of 2018 – togetherness, kindness, forgiveness and charity.
So, you can forgive me if I slept through the actual New Year moment! 😉
Stay blessed my dear Reader.
Happy New Year!