Promises to myself

Do know, that I’m still fulfilling promises to myself, made several decades ago?

Actually!

This is how long it can takes, if you get too busy elsewhere, living your life.

Two promises:

1.     Help improve lives of poor people:

‘As God is my witness, I’ll make a difference in the lives of these poor people.’ I was nineteen, and witnessing the beating up of a poor man. At that time I was helpless, and unable to stop it. But inside my heart, I made this pledge. You see, it was a ‘crime’ for which the poor man was being beaten. His goat had been caught eating up a newly planted tree.

Most of the time, it is lack of knowledge, or plain ignorance, but then who is to blame for their ignorance? They are so poverty stricken they need help in every way. It is our obligation to raise them out of their ignorance, and provide skills to help them get out of their poverty.

We need to value their contributions in our lives. Especially, if they are so punctual!

Many  wealthy, educated and corrupt people get away Scot-free for such great crimes in this country. So, the justice system is also only for the weak, whether it is women, or poor people. So, I made a pledge, that day – yes, a promise to myself – to be fulfilled. Of course, I did whatever I could, whenever I could. But nothing spectacular.

Currently, the small scale of social work I’m doing is actually– fulfilling that promise to myself, made so many years ago.

2.      Bring Iqbal’s work to the youth:

This promise was made just a few years ago, when I was praying at the tomb of Allama Iqbal.  I felt so small and worthless. So, I promised myself, ‘I’ll use all my capabilities as an artist and writer, to bring Iqbal’s work into the hands of the youth.’

It is my belief that Iqbal’s poetry is great, and we are so small and unworthy. Yet, Iqbal  gives confidence to each one of us, to be the best that we can be, because we are Allah’s creations and our capabilities are awesome. How much of those capabilities are we using? So, as a teacher, writer and artist, I felt I was bound to do the best I can to bring his works into the hands of the youth of our country and the world. It is the best thing which can take us forward.

Just imagine, poetry to change lives. That powerful.

Promises:

We are very concerned with broken promises of others, what about the promises we make to ourselves? If we cannot keep our promises to ourselves, how can we expect others to keep theirs to us?

 

What about you, and your promises?

Did you make any promises to yourself? How well have you fared so far?

This is why, we should be careful with our promises, as we have to keep them.

Pari jab nazar apnay aibon par,

Nazar mein koi bura na raha.

 

(When I looked at my own faults,

Now, no one is faulty in my eyes!)

Stay blessed my dear Reader, Friday is a day to ponder.

 

Girls, Financial Planning is crucial

This subject is very close to my heart.  So, when a follower on Instagram Yumna Sardar  asked me to write on finance, I was thrilled. Dil ki baat kardi jenab!

How I realized my plight:

When I was hit on the head with it!

Actually, all my life, my husband asked me to take interest in his files etc. I’d say, ‘you are there for it!’ (Meaning, ‘why should I bother my pretty little head with it?’ He was more fit than me, and had a great head for numbers. Yes, he remembered every imaginable number  – including number plates of cars under him in his unit! So, I knew I was in competent hands.)

–  So, when he suddenly, died of cancer, I had Rs.1000 only, and literally a thousand bills! That’s how I was hit on the head with it.

  1. Meanwhile, at that time, I was enrolled in my MBA… When I failed twice in my Financial Accounting paper, (finally passing in my third attempt, thanks to Irfan Ahmed, my class fellow.) While I was among the toppers in other subjects, in this subject I failed. So, I’m really talking from experience.
  2.  I was at zero point. My real life was a financial mess too.
  3. I faced the horrific challenges that only total lack of money can bring. Especially at a time, when you need it the most. For instance, husband dying of cancer, and house construction needing finishing touches, and money ‘locked’ by out-laws, and court cases, as cherry on the top! (So, don’t think, ‘how does she know?’ Believe me, I know! )

Law of the Worlds:

  1. Very early on, I learnt, that you get exploited by others, when they know you lack funds.
  2. You get marginalized by society, people downplay  your efforts in all fields.
  3. People believe they can take what is yours, because you can’t defend yourself, or your things.

So, how did I survive?

  1. My faith in Allah never wavered. I was sure He had chosen me for better times, this was the ‘exercise’ part of it. So, I remained firm. I was able to smile, and laugh – something my Waliya taught me –  I knew I was in the Best Hands, anyways. (Yes, I cried in private while praying to Him.)
  2. The moment the ground started slipping from under my feet, I looked up at Him. I made a pact with Him, I’ll ask no one for help except Him. So, He did.
  3. You must be wondering why my parents didn’t help. My dad was going through a financial crisis of his own, that’s why.
  4. Also, I was too proud to ask anyone for help. I believe, that after eighteen years of age, we have to manage for ourselves. Our parents have already done enough for us.
  5. My family, close friends and total strangers, were like His angels in plain clothing. They helped me from sources I could never have imagined. Total strangers came out of the blue helping me in ways, I’d never thought possible.

Learn Finances properly:

  1. My travel bags have been heavy due to books: My trips to USA had me reading about finances. (I was already realizing how weak I was.) So when the crisis hit me, I was able to make sound decisions at the right times.  I used to laugh at myself for choosing these books when I hadn’t a penny. But I went ahead, because my heart felt like it. Only Allah knew how much I needed this information.
  2. Grab and read all about finance, anything you can digest : Read: Suzie Ormans’ books, as many as you can get your hands on. Specially her latest ones. One of her best is Women and Money. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is amazing, and you need to read it several times to digest it fully.  Napolean Hill’s Grow Rich with peace of mind, is the sum total of this millionaires’ life lessons on money. (It is pretty much the Islamic methodology of it, i.e. to not gain it through exploitation of others, or through games of chance, to use it to serve people, and get it through serving people too.)
  3. Watch videos on YouTube about these books, if reading is a strain, watch videos on the subject. Study Financial Accounting and other such subjects, and see how you can apply the principles in your own life.
  4. Listen to podcasts on the subject. (You can get Suzie Orman’s also!) I’ve watched amazing weekly programs on television in USA of this brilliant expert, who can help you at all levels. She says, that you need to spend an hour daily in sorting out your finances.
  5. Attend workshops on finance, even if you can’t understand much, one day you will.
  6. Pinpoint your own bad habits: You must know why you got where you are, by taking full responsibility.
  7. Learn from your tough times. If you don’t do it, and sit comfortable by blaming others and society, then you will never learn, or improve.

My Principles of Finance:

So, Napolean Hill became a millionaire three times in his life. His block buster book Think and Grow Rich made many millionaires too. However, when he found many of them unhappy on their death beds, without family or friends, lonely.  He realized that acquiring money is worthless, without peace of mind. That is when in his nineties, he wrote the book Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, with over seventy years of experience with money.

Halal and honestly gained money:

No compromise on that. None. You know when a thing is haram, when it is acquired by lying and cheating others, or when you are taking what does not belong to you. So, keep it legal and honestly earned. Never compromise on principles. Never.

Interest free money:

You can say what you like, I’ve faced the worst financial crisis but never went back to interest based banking. I don’t regret it.  I used to keep interest based banking, when I didn’t understand the verses in Quran about it. Afterwards I said my ‘toba’.  All subsequent accounts  opened have been current, at all levels. In fact recently, I went and closed the ‘savings account’ too. Call me stupid, but this is something between me and my God. He has clearly said, that usury is haram, while profit is halal. Even while living abroad or in other countries, you have the option of having a current account.

Success stories:

Shabnam (name changed for privacy)  had been gifted with a National Saving Center saving account benefit of a sizable sum by her parents. However, not believing in interest based investments; she moved the cash out and bought a small plot from it. Her investment has already doubled in value within four years.  Now, she was informed, that this National Savings and Behbood isn’t haram, however, her intent was to keep her investment as halal  and interest-free as possible.

I know another case in USA where a person named Saad, didn’t buy a property due to the heavy mortgages involved. He lived in rented apartments. When the famous financial crisis occurred, he was among the few who weren’t affected.

Why not interest?

  • I’ve watched my parents suffer when they took a loan from the bank of Rs. 300,000/- and that compounded into Rs.15,00,000/- When my father didn’t have sufficient money to build his house in Lahore. I know the prices they paid for it, and the ones’ I’ve paid for it. It isn’t fair to exploit people who are in a weak financial position. But then, it is your own choice whether to take it or not.
  • A person working in London, in a call center providing loans has informed me of how much exploitation is done of persons who are already facing financial crisis.

How to survive financially:

Earn your money :

 

Yes, do a job, from home, or in an office. Have a lifestyle in which you are busy serving others (through your work), staying busy, and having that extra cash to save too. If your pay isn’t that good, have an extra source of income, or keep committees. Control your family and your own spending habits.

Save your money:

Do not waste it, but save it: You need to save first, and then spend the rest of the month on the rest of the money after savings. When you save it, keep it out of your own reach also. Like many people join committees – which is an excellent way to save – and then reinvest it in something else, like shares, or even property. When you get the amount, use it wisely, you haven’t saved all year, and sacrificed to splash it wrongly, ending up again at zero point.

Lead a debt-free life:

Make a pact with yourself to never get into debt. If you have to, then return asap. Make it your priority to return immediately. This applies to whether you borrow from friends, relatives or from a bank. Just leave all else, and return asap.

Enjoy your money:

In fact it is the money which you have used, which is yours. The rest may never be yours anyway. But let’s say, get what you can’t get normally from your extra  earnings. In my case, it was gifts, books, travel, and outings with family and friends. Also, I loved getting things to beautify the home, like plants, carpets, curtains or lamps.

Fight for equal financial rights for girls:

  1. Disparity in pay scales: Realize the fact that today, women do not receive the same pays as men in any department for the same work.
  2. Property ownership: This is mostly avoided, or totally ignored.
  3. Inheritance laws are distorted: The fact is that the larger share for males is solely for the added responsibility on them for caring of females in their family, for life; which means to provide food, clothing, education and shelter to the women in the family, specially widows, divorcees and orphans. This aspect is completely ignored by most men today, which is extremely un-Islamic, while the part of usurping her property is followed diligently.
  4. The point to note here is, that if Shariya Law is important, which it is, then it must be followed in totality. All the rest of the  Shariya laws also must be followed first; Especially, cutting of hands for thieves (and corrupt persons – which is theft of the worst kind), capital punishment for murderers, kidnappers and rapists, and lashes for adulterers. Till all that isn’t implemented also, the inheritance law must be done with ijtehad and the portions should be equal for all. This is suggested, because women have to fend for themselves in today’s world. Almost no man is taking care of the women in his family, as per Islamic responsibility.  A bill needs to be passed for this immediately till the rest of the shariya laws aren’t implemented too.   The present scenario is totally unfair to women, in letter and in spirit of Islam. The present interpretation has weakened women financially. In original Islamic times, Muslim women were the strongest.
  5. Remember, when you will entrust your rights and control to others, you are bound to suffer. That is what you are doing girls, so wake up.

Invest your savings:

Knowing the state of affairs in present world, and especially in Pakistan, women need to be even more aware of the importance of taking control of their financial planning. Here is where you’ll get tips from Suzie Orman and Robert (of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame) about how to invest it. Best is to invest in property and live on rents. So, your main investment is safe and you are living on the above stuff.

Charity percentage:

So, give a percentage, that makes it easier to calculate. Give zakat first, and then sadqa too, as and when required, preferably 10 % and least 2.5 %. I’ve heard, that Jews, give 10 % , no wonder they are so rich!

My message to girls:

  1. You have to prove to your man, that you are capable of handling finances.
  2. Show your competence in other matters of the household.
  3. Know your rights and your duties.
  4. Speak up when your brothers are trying to swindle you out of your share of inherited property.
  5. If you aren’t good at Financial Planning, get better. Do indulge in committees and savings.

Message for men:

  1. Help your women understand the fundamentals of finances.
  2. Trust your wife, mother or sisters in financial planning. Let them participate with the workings. Let them do some of your work too. It will lighten your burden too. This will give them a better idea.
  3. Be transparent about your financial investments. So they know where they stand.
  4. Know that whatever Allah has ordained for them, they will have anyway. Isn’t it better if it comes to them with your name to it?
  5. Be just and fair with your wife, sister and mother, and family members, specially while dealing with inherited property. To keep your property joint with your wife.

So, tell me were these points useful for you? Yes, you knew most of them anyways, but didn’t realize how important they are, for our own well being. Also, you can support your husband achieve your mutual financial goals. Just as he can support you with your goals. Do you have any planning ideas? Do share with me in your comments.

If you follow the above points, you will stay blessed in so many ways. 🙂

Note: All photos provided by author, except last one by Waliya Najib Khan, and one provided by Nadiya Najib.

 

Solving traumatic ‘office procedures.’

– Sorting ourselves out and helping the offices out of their ML and DFM work ethics. 

Life is so very short. We all have so much to do, before we leave this world. (I’ve just returned from the funeral of a person known to me. She died suddenly, last night. She was fine.) So, is it fair to prolong simple jobs for the public, due to inefficient methods, or prehistoric ‘systems’ ?

No, it isn’t!

We’ve got to find ways to make systems efficient, so the work is completed within shortest time.

It can be done, through our collective power of intentions.

If by any happy chance, you are working at any of the offices of Government or private,

where there are ‘procedures’ and ‘rules’. Then,  please read this blog post with an open heart. Know that and your efforts (in the form of reduction of steps-to-get-a-job-done for your client,)  may help you too, in the end.

End??? Oops!

First, correct your own faulty papers:

We need to look at ourselves first. Many of us have faulty papers in hand, which we ourselves know that these have to be corrected. The NADRA CNIC cards of most persons were filled, with many mistakes. When we read, we realized many things were not correct. Or with time, these became incorrect because we moved houses, or cities.

My husband and I had gone for a correction to the NADRA office in Rawalpindi once.  On visiting the office, we found out that Waliya was written down as son, Wali. So, we corrected that. Similarly there were many more mistakes, like place of birth, names of family members etc. When we change address, we have to get it corrected in the CNIC card also.

When I protested to the management, about the lengthy processes, he said, ‘you all had these cards for so many years, why didn’t you get it corrected earlier?’ He was so right!

Realize, it is for your benefit:

Try to be as patient and cool headed as possible, during the process. Be methodical, and take your bottle of water, chewing gums, goodies, in purse.

Give yourself a treat, at every step. – Yes, celebrate!

When I was furious, at the time of going to pick up my mother’s corrected CNIC card, I told the person in charge , I’m going to write a blog post on this!’

He  said,’ I’m only doing it to secure it for your mother! Please appreciate that.’ Yes, he was right. Finally, he agreed to talk to my mother on video call and get her permission to let me collect her card – this is what I mean by using modern methods -I  had also put the FRC (Family registration certificate with pictures, in front of him.) So, he could recognize my mother properly. I told him, it is difficult for her to come, every time. So, he agreed. So, try to see the problem from their position also.

Maybe they are just doing their job!

Present conditions:

Right now, in every office you visit; you will find two types of works going on.

  1. The ‘good’: smooth, efficient work methods and ethics being followed.
  2. The ‘bad and the ugly’: too many complicated ‘methods’ and ‘rules’.

Yes, in many lucky cases, the process is smooth, and free from unexpected and horrifying hassles. Your work gets done almost immediately.

If you are veryyyyy lucky! (One of the officers confessed, that if I do this work on same day, I’ll be asked by the audit team, why I completed it so quickly?)

Otherwise,  the personnel at every office, are combining old and new ways to torture their client (that’s you,) by asking for all types of attestations, affidavits, ‘ishtamp’ papers, and whatever else methods of torture they can think of. – Especially when you are aggrieved, hassled and driven through courts by your beloved outlaws.

In short the ML and DFM treatment.

What are ML and DFM procedures?

ML : in Punjabi language there is a terminology of saying maghron laiye this means that you should ‘get off our head’! So, they send you off on another wild goose chase.

DFM: Another technical term in Punjabi: Dhur fittay moon! I doubt if there is a parallel to this term, which means in brief, ‘to hell with you!’!

My message in a nutshell:

If you are working in any of the organizations, please…. Just sit down for a few minutes, and look over what you are doing to your clients. You can:

  1. SIMPLIFY rather than to COMPLICATE the procedures.
  2. Give exemplary punishments to the criminals that try to mess with your systems in office and publicize these cases.
  3. DO NOT PUNISH INNOCENT PEOPLE FOR CRIMES COMMITTED BY CRIMINALS. Most of the criminals have got away with it, and you are busy punishing the innocents.
  4. Also know, that no one from outside can do a criminal act without help from an ‘insider’. So, when found out, again an exemplary punishment is vital, and the person must be made an example for rest of staff of that organization.

In short, for the crimes of about 5 % of your clients, you are punishing 95 % of your clients!

Distorted ‘justice system’ – by punishing the innocents:

I remember, that once in the PAF Officer’s Mess, (a long time ago.) it was found out that the person in charge was swindling the cash. So, he was posted out, while everyone there, was asked for extra funds in Mess Bills to adjust the mismanaged finances!!!

Masha Allah!  This is our sense of justice.

Here, Nawaz Sharif, Zardari and their clans swindle the country, and everyone else has to pay for it.

Correct justice system:

The correct way is to catch the criminal and make him pay for all the extra expenses that he swindled or incurred.  In Pakistan, the system of justice is to punish the innocent – while the crooks get away scot free.

Wait a minute!

It is so, the world over.

If you just look at the visa’s applications, they have become so grueling; It is for the same reasons. Everyone is paying for the crimes of a few. But in some ways, they have become very technically updated and upgraded.

We are mostly in the stone age!

Solution:

  1. Have grueling punishments for those who do things wrongly.
  2. Facilitate the good guys.

In a school where I worked, we had a very good administrator. But when it came to the results of the classes, she wanted us teachers to have the results of each class handwritten three times. (I was teaching English to five classes then!) So, I suggested, we write one, and have three photocopies of it, for each class. She said, ‘no, it all has to be handwritten three times!’ I was ready to fight it out, till the Math teacher, (God bless him,) opted to write them three times each for me. Why!!???

Simplify, get real. Be in the 21st century!

My proposals for procedures:

Check out all present ‘rules and procedures’:

 

  1. Keep the process brief and crisp. Do away with affidavits, stamp papers and attestations, and specially grade 17 Magistrate signatures.
  2. Ask yourself, is the rule still applicable?
  3. Are there simpler alternatives? How can we reduce these procedures to a minimum?

Before making any new rules/procedures:

Find out:

  1. Firstly, which previous ‘rule’ will the new one replace?
  2. How effective can this be, for how many? (Is it necessary?)
  3. Use latest technology to have effective ways to resolve issues. Can this be done online?
  4. Death certificate: Hospital document, should be enough for NADRA to discontinue the CNIC card, and allot the death certificate, why should one have to go to the Union Council also?
  5. Pension: Death certificate and CNIC card of nominee: it is written there if she is wife. That is all that is needed.

To make my point clear:

If the present rules were so great, why is there so much crime today? – Because, my dears, most of the crime takes place with help and direction an insider from the organization. So, in fact, they have to improve their own induction processes, and human resource management.  

Five benefits of simplified ‘procedures’:

  1. Everyone will follow the rules and procedures. The lessor steps there are, the more people will follow it. The same applies to income tax procedures too.
  2. There will be less crime.
  3. Since each ‘application’ process will take lessor time, more work will be achieved in lessor time. Hence the pressure in offices will decrease. The’ flow’ will be fast and efficient.
  4. More work will get done in everyone’s personal lives too.
  5. Better work done, at all levels due to less disillusionment, frustration and hopelessness.

A fresh mindset is the answer. The citizen of Pakistan must get priority. We all have better things to do, than to run round and round the Mulberry bush for sorting out crazy, obsolete and irrelevant ‘procedures’ of almost all offices.

As Ashfaque Ahmed would always say,

Allah ap ko asaaniyan bantnay wala banaye! May you be able to make life easier for others.

Make this happen in your own place of power, and stay blessed. 🙂

Note: All photographs are taken by author, except the one of Ashfaque Ahmad, which was taken from internet. All the  quotations were taken from internet also.

Facing Traumatic ‘Office Procedures’.

 

Survival tactics in Pakistan – or anywhere else! When the going gets tough, the tough get tougher. How much tougher? Hmmm … lets find out. 

 So you know, life has been basically fine. But the office procedures, after my father’s death, have been literally killing me.  

When my Dad passed away in February this year, naturally it was traumatic for us all. Having to manage everything, single handedly was tough. Thanks to my personal enemies, I’ve got to stay strong at all times. Which is good too. May Allah bless them ! 😉 They keep me alert. They keep me happy, they make me value all that I have in spite of their futile efforts.

Alhamdolillah.

I discovered, no  one has to be mean to anyone in our country (or any other.) The ‘system’s and ‘procedures’ make sure you are tested and tried at every nook and corner.

See other’s pain:

Right in the middle of constant stamp papers and affidavits,  I stood up and looked.

I realized, my problems are nothing, compared to those of so many who came to console us. So many who stood by me,  (online and in my life,) had real life horrific issues of their own. Yet, they came. Some fighting cancer, some just recovering from their own losses. One had the loss of twins, after going through so much to have the babies.

So many things.

So, what am I getting at? Knowing you are not alone, helps. Seeing people worse off than yourself, makes you realize, how silly you are being! Also, it leads to giving more sadqa and charity -which is even better.

Thanks to the help of my amazing followers on Instagram, website and Facebook pages, I’ve had donors providing for persons who really needed help. I had done my homework. This smile on the face of Shamim from Kanewal, mother of three daughters, made my day. She made me forget my aching body that day, when you all had given her things for her daughter’s upcoming marriage.  Every mother would like to see off her daughter in nice clothes, taking a few nice necessities with her. (Yes, I had put oil in my hair, and when my helper Hasnain made this video call, I was thrilled to see all your contributions had reached her safely.) She lives alone, supported by the pay of her one working daughter. Her mother lives with her, her husband passed away, sometime back.

So, let me share what I’ve learnt:

Three ways of dealing with rough times:

  1. Do what has to be done methodically:

    • Restrict timings allotted to the added chores resulting from the trauma. Believe me, Rome wasn’t built in a day or two! No matter what people say, it will take time.
    • So, do one thing at a time.
    • Keep it all in a box in your mind. Do not let it spill into your entire day/life.
    • Do not get upset when it takes longer than expected. It will.
    • Know, that it is not just in Pakistan, everywhere, there are a lot of hassles.
    • I had allotted one month for the chores. It’s now over five-months, still the work isn’t done.
    • Prioritize wisely: for instance, my mother was most important. So, at first I just focused on her, and making her feel better. Then in conserving her valuables. Then doing what had to be done.
    • Give a daily time-slot to the added chores, after that take a break or get back to your own life.
    • Forgive yourself for any mistakes.

2.      Keep your faith in humanity and systems:

  • Know that there are good people everywhere, and sometimes it is our own fault. Learn the systems going on in the organization, and go accordingly first.
  • We have to get in sync with the ‘system’, learn as much as we can about it. Follow their rules first. For instance, hospitals have an operation day, and OPD day and so on. No point in getting angry if you went on the wrong day to see the surgeon.
  • Yesterday, I had a tough time, I had gone about 28 km to Rawalpindi for second time. It was a real suspense thriller situation. The work wasn’t getting done, instead of getting personal with the man in charge, I just mentioned, that there is some problem, even though he isn’t to blame, nor was I to blame; but how to solve it? He was trying his best to help me but problem wasn’t getting solved. I was being shunted between two offices. Finally, he thought of something, which cleared out everything within minutes. Otherwise, I was to go to the courts. (That’s equal to saying, it won’t be done.) Alhamdolillah. Just keep praying in your heart.

3.     Don’t leave morale boosters!

  1. Things that give you a boost: your prayers, siparah, meeting friends, doing artwork, reading, music or whatever.
  2. Your normal good-deeds which you used to do, before the big trauma happened. Do not stop these because now you are extra busy, or financially challenged, even then. Allah is there to take care of you. You can reduce the time, or amount if necessary, but don’t stop.
  3. Repeat gratitude list: Thank Allah for the trauma also: Firstly, know that God knows better than any of us. We are human and cannot see far enough. Accept His verdict. Find reasons why it is better this way. For instance, in my father’s case, I know, Allah saved my father from some very unpleasant surgical incisions which were being planned. He is in a far better place now. Also, Masha Allah he led a full and worthy life. Fought for his land and offered his life for it, twice: during 1965 and 1970 wars.
  4. Make time for giving relief to yourself: Since it is going to take time, if you give up your happy meals, your exercise, your meetings with friends, sacrifice everything, and you will end up depressed, suppressed and miserable. I’m telling you the ‘systems’ are so lethal everywhere, that you have to keep your nerves, your morale and your spirits high. Pamper yourself: Do, that pampering which you’ve never even done before. (My sweet follower and donor Alia Janjua pampered me in such a sweet way that it truly boosted me up at a time when I really needed it.) I guess, she knew I’d never do it for myself.
  5. Stop all negative thoughts or talks: Just don’t allow this within your own self, nor with your friends. Be positive, you will get out of this phase in life.  There will be more problems later on also, so keep your stamina for that too! 😉

Believe me, keeping our own sanity and spirits high is more important, than any ‘work’.

Stay blessed!

An only child!

 

What you don’t have, you don’t miss.

Hello Everyone! I’m wanting to explore the ‘only child’ situation today. The idea came to me through a remark by someone. So allow me to enlighten you. As a second generation only child. I guess I’m qualified.  I mean, my mother was an only child, and so am I.

Why not an only child?

I’ve learnt that there are about 47% only children in USA. I’m sure that isn’t the case in Pakistan. Here, an only child is never planned, so usually, it is a medical situation.

Anyhow, we aren’t concerned with how it happened. We are sharing tips on how to manage this scenario.  Also, we can include those rare couples who really want an only child.

The sour grapes approach first:

Too many siblings can also be a drain and a strain for a child. It can shatter your own nerves, your pocket  and your sanity sometimes! (I’ve known siblings actually trying to bump off their own brother, or even sister – for property of course – so it is nothing to be so joyful about.) History is full of it, starting from our mutual dad, Adam and his two sons!

In my case:

  • I met very few only children in my life. There was one in my class once, (I’ve changed many schools,) she wasn’t very happy, and was lonely. So, I found out that the saying that ‘An only child is a lonely child’ maybe true for some cases.
  • In my parents’ case, there was the Rhesus factor due to which every other child born would have died. My parents decided not to have another child due to the fact that my mother had complicated deliveries. So, my father didn’t want my mother to go through so much complications again. It was the same for my grandmother. So, my grandfather didn’t want her to go through it again.  Thank God, they both had loving husbands.
  • So, it maybe any reason, but one ends up as an only child. 

Tips for parents of only children:

  • Do not spoil your child. (As my parents would say, ‘with one child there is no margin of error!’ So, they brought me up with strict rules, and lots of love. They didn’t spoil me at all.
  • Give a lot of time, attention and company.
  • Do not be too protective with them. Know that they will have to fend for themselves during their life. Remember, they won’t have any siblings to help them out.
  • Just give normal treatment: Why treat a child as if she or he is an exception? Just treat them normally, and they will grow up normal too.
  • Encourage solitary play: this child needs to be able to be happy with one’s own company.  It isn’t always possible that you have to have someone to give you company or entertain you. I’ve known only children to be more self-sufficient.
  • Develop hobbies: Reading habits, hobbies, and keep busy in healthy activities.
  • Special warning: Do not give too much attention, the world doesn’t do that. So, why make the child the center of everything all the time? Otherwise, the child won’t be able to cope in normal situations.
  • Encourage independence: Let this child be self-sufficient, independent and encourage him or her to go on her own, or do things being in-charge of it all. So, do not help out, he will learn from his own mistakes within your own sight.
  • Encourage friends: specially inviting them over, and meeting their families and siblings whenever you can.
  • Problem solving: Let them deal with issues themselves. Don’t offer to help, try to let them get out of it themselves. This will give them confidence. Keep a watchful eye, but let them figure things out themselves. Do, help out if it is very serious. Do, give advice when asked.
  • Never be protective: Know that he will have to fend for himself for the rest of his life. You won’t be around always. He better learn it now. Prepare them for a time without yourself, while you are with them.
  • Don’t facilitate: Never do any ‘sifarish’ for them.
  • Strict pocket money : Build money spending and saving habits.

Tips for you, if you are an only child:

  • Just remember one thing, it is Allah who actually takes care of you. If He didn’t give you a sibling, He will surely give you several substitutes as per requirement. So, don’t worry. Remember, He didn’t give you, because He knew you won’t need them.
  • Be confident, do whatever you like to do.
  • Your time on your own is a God send. Most prominent personalities were only children. You get more time to clarify your own thoughts.  You also get lesser interfering bodies in your life. Believe me!
  • You are closer to the love of your parents, who have the purest love for you.

Yes, you will stay blessed, anyway. So, keep that smile!  🙂

PS: Just say a big ‘Alhamdolillah!’ in every situation. 🙂

 

Why care for the poor?

Helping the poor, is vital for our progress.

All of us are leading such ‘busy’ lives, there is no time for anyone else. – Neither do we have time for our family members, friends, or community members – what to say about helping the downtrodden!

Analogy of a ship:

Usually, a ship has three decks. The elite are kept on the highest level with all the luxuries. Then the middle deck, for the middle class. Finally – the lowest deck with the lowest ‘class’  in it.
Naturally, the ship’s lowest deck is near the bottom of the sea, if something happens, they will be the first to sink. Also, their ignorance can cause  a hole too;  The story is the same for all ‘lower socio-economic levels in all countries.

Look at how we are  ‘managing’:

The poor class of societies, earn by serving us, working in our homes and workplaces by making our lives better. They do this so well, that many of us don’t want to go abroad. (As I write, my domestic help is going out in this hot sun, to do my market chores, while I sit in this air conditioned room writing.)

Mismanagement of resources:

However, another paradox is also taking place; When we are handing over our resources in the care of the illiterate ‘helpers’, there is a great deal of wastage. We are not realizing that though we are careful with water, gas and electricity conservation, our staff are very careless. They haven’t been made to realize its implications.

We have to educate them to conserve  the world resources . This is why even the educated homes have the same issues of lack of preservation of resources, because we leave all our assets in the care of illiterate staff, and do not bother to train them.

Our gross attitude towards the lower class:

We’ve got to treat every human being with respect and regard. This is where it begins.
The concept of disregard of the poor people in our society begins from saying: ‘they are like dogs, treat them like dogs, they will respect you more!’  If you are going to talk to them, like this, how will things improve for them?
• We literally use and abuse them, in our homes, offices and factories.
• We are not caring of their human rights and make them work beyond humanitarian levels. (Believe me, this goes on in Western countries too, especially with illegal migrants! Also with other employees from underdeveloped countries, who do not know their rights or are too afraid to mention it!)
• When these poor people grow old and weak, we let them go.
• We do not train them properly, nor educate them. So when they are lacking in productivity we get harsh and disrespectful towards them.
• Yes, we help them occasionally, and then let them spend rest of their lives, being obliged to us.
• We are not careful of their times of sleep, rest or food. Nor give health benefits.
• In short we do nothing for them. Leaving them to their own meager resources.

How the underprivileged survive?

  1. No family planning: Since they they are on their own, so they manage by creating their own helpers, reproducing like rabbits:
    o In the hope that these ‘hands’ will help them as free labor in their lives.
    o Take care of them when they fall sick or when they grow old and helpless.
    o They will be sources of income, as beggars, and domestic help. Today, girls are given as domestic help to families  through agents.
    o At worst they can be sold off for adoption or even prostitution.
    o I’ve seen Sri Lankan maids in Kuwait and other Gulf countries as full time maids. Most are treated very badly, even sexually abused on regular basis. Of course, some are well-treated by good families.
    2. Health benefits:Through quacks in the field or genuine ‘hakeems’ or experts in herbal treatments which is a science of millions of years actually.
    3. Spiritual healing: by visiting shrines and going to ‘faqirs’, or bathing in streams with ‘magical’ powers, (actually having minerals from underground, as sulphur in Mango Pir, Karachi.) They find solace through these places and people. Every area has a ‘mazar’ or a ‘pir’ where they go in hoards. Yes, Pir Chinasi, Data Darbar, – the whole region is full of them. These are shrines of great saints who once lived in these regions who listened to the problems of the people. They managed to console them, and give them solace.
    Note: These people are still thirsty for that kind of love and care. Today, free food and solace is found in these shrines, hence the people go there in hoards.

    Need for solutions: 

1.  Resources in hands of illiterate and untrained staff:
o Train staff well,
o Supervise often,
o Strict rules and time tables in homes and offices.
o Surprise checks.
o Rules of rewards and punishments for adhering to them or not.
2.  Quality of work suffering due to distraction of social media at all levels:While in offices, shopping, doing personal work and holidaying, what are we doing? We are busy with our social media. Constantly. It has become an epidemic.

My message here:

The message here is to continue with charity work  intelligently. Lets do it with focused objectives.

1. Stop beggary by children:
o Give them food, (let’s take along a leftover food or snacks for them, clean drinking water too. But not give cash. Once these beggar’s guardians and parents realize it is not working, it is bound to stop.
o Instead, pay those organizations and persons who have schools for such children;
o Do volunteer work with such organizations .

2. Education and skill development:
o Individually: teaching them ourselves, or keeping a tutor at home to teach staff. Giving them on-the-job training. Run your home like an institution.
o Collectively: in your own community give monthly fees for at least one or more children.
o Invest in technical training: so they can become independent and earn.
3. Entrepreneurship courses:
Such short courses would be best for teenagers of both genders to be able to start their own small business or assist their parents. This can be done in schools as part of the curriculum.
4. Help in marrying off their children:
Marrying off children is the biggest dilemma of every person in these parts. Somehow these expenses result in debts for a lifetime. So, if one can help them in any small way we can, it is good. Especially to help single parents to marry off their daughters in a dignified way. This is how one can be of great help:
o Getting things for the bride or groom.
 Clothes (12 suits for girl or 6 suits for young man.)
 Items for house: utensils, household goods, even furniture if you have it.
 Food for the event. ( Even Rs.10,000 can make a difference.)
5. Help in construction of their house:
o Either for whole house, or pay for some materials, etc.
o The idea is to help them gain a secure roof over their heads.
6. Give them a layette for the baby: If an employee is in family way, facilitate by giving less heavy work during pregnancy, and clothes and items for new baby.
7. Pay for health problems, operations etc. I know many organization do it, but many don’t.
8. Paying for water pump installation: This could help provide water for their requirements.
9. Educate them in family planning: the facilities are there, but they aren’t effective. We have to sit and convince them
10. Paying for higher education like PEF (Professional Education Foundation): This is the best way, to give scholarships to deserving students from schools for underprivileged children. There are negligible facilities for them available right now.

  • Stay blessed! 

Surprise trip to Muzzafarabad

The drive to Muzafarabad was great. There is a rough patch yet to be completed, but mostly in good shape. On the way we saw lovely views,  driving along the Jehlum River. Water falls, streams and pine trees, the bushes along the winding roads, bursting with pink flowers, daisies, and lovely wild flowers. Crisp clean air – Especially, with air conditioner working inside the van! 😉

Muzaffarabad’s sad past:

The name of Muzaffarabad brings with it memories of the earthquake on  October 8th 2005, at 8.30 am there was a horrific earthquake with 7.8 richter scale. The city of Muzaffarabad was completely destroyed. So, what we see today is a completely new city.

Every family in this region has been affected by loss of family members and property. The entire world starting with Turkish Government, came to help in every way they could. C 1302 arrived from different countries, and experts and equipment came from USA and teams of volunteers from all parts of the country, went over to help.

It just shows, we are one humanity. We do care!

(I wish we would stay that way, normally too.)

Why do we have to have an earthquake to shake us into the best version of ourselves?

The adorable and funny group:

Though arranged through Mr. Zahid at ASG, Nigar Nazar was the main protagonist. Almost all group members were her relatives and friends. Her being a cartoonist of Gogi fame, her husband Nazar Abbas’s cousin Shahnaz being a doctor and writer of humeros poems. Then Nigar’s son Nomair an animation cartoonist. So, you can imagine the ‘entertainment’ and remarks at all locations and levels. Yes, it was bound to be fun.

When my friend Naila couldn’t go along, so I asked her daughter Sahar, and she agreed. So, it was great for me to have her with me, also to share my room with. I really love my friend’s daughters too. They all are amazing, and Sahar and I managed to get to know each other better. May I say it was a great honor and pleasure?

Tourist accommodation:

 

Of course, staying at Pearl Continental with its spectacular building and services, would have been great. But, we found staying at the Continental Hotel, quite near PC, was good too. Frankly, a tourist needs clean and comfortable living arrangements, within a comfortable budget.   The food was delicious and they happily added local delicacies.

The décor could do better, but it was fine.

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2598128650220411/2598118866888056/?type=3&theater

Spectacular views:

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2598128650220411/2598118970221379/?type=3&theater

Red fort:

The four hundred years old history of this region was a real surprise for me. Mughal King Akber had camped here once, and decided to develop it further. Then there was Mr. Muzaffar, who lived, built and fought for this land. The past is interesting.  Yes, if I belonged to this region I’d certainly fight for it. It is so beautiful. Its people are basically peaceful people battling the challenges of cold winters on a regular basis.

They have become experts in preserving their culture of warm clothing, embroideries, and amazing food. The best cooks belong to this region. (Abdul Rahim, who was with me for twenty years, and passed away this March, also belonged to a nearby village.) His cooking was out of this world.

 

Pir Chinasi:

The highest point in this area 9500 feet – equal to Nathiagali is truly beautiful with spectacular views at Pir Chinasi. The old airplane Fokker used to fly at this height. So you know how it looked. In fact, my first flight as a college girl in Lahore, was in a Fokker, from Rawalpindi to Lahore. The best thing about it was that it had much larger windows than the present ones in planes these days. So, I loved it. I believe, I’ve even seen a landing from the cockpit while landing in Lahore airport. (Of course I did. In fact, both pilots had wanted to do it, while only one can – so finally seniority prevailed. They even demonstrated to me how it can be done in fog, by putting a paper over the windscreen…. But they removed it near touch down!)

Back to my trip!

 

We are in Pir Chinasi, I’m not on that plane! So here we are after going on that winding road, where several passengers felt giddy. Thank goodness I’m fine. I really loved the spectacular views.

I just looked at some videos of Pir Chinasi trips and realized that it has improved a lot. Also, our guide was saying that there was no ‘shrine’ here, six years ago. (He has been a tour guide for many years!) However, Wikipedia says, there was a Pir named Pir Sayed Hussain Shah Bukhari

https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g1137975-d10159598-i296168690-Pir_Chinasi-Muzaffarabad_Azad_Kashmir.html

 

Here is my daughter Nadiya Najib’s blog post on her trip there:

https://twitter.com/nadiyanajibkhan/status/934016761866997760

You can visit her website here: see her trip to Muzaffarabad.

 

Hydro-electric power plant:

The Korean Government built this Hydro Electric power plant here. It looks great. I’ve heard this region is not only self-sufficient in electricity, but has enough to provide rest of the country also. Usual red-tape is the hindrance. This is what I heard being said by a few people there.

 

Local foods:


The cooking of Abdul Rahim which we have enjoyed for last twenty years or so, is enough evidence. In fact, most good cooks in Pakistan belong to Kashmir. Mr. Zahid told me that the expenses on any other element for a wedding in the home isn’t as much as the amount spent on food. Almost the total concentration is on the food. No doubt their food is wholesome, nourishing and delicious. What’s more, it isn’t hot or full of chilies. It is mild and tasty. So, we got to have three dishes:

Gushtaba which was made in two ways, I loved the one cooked in yogurt. Then there were Kashmiri Bakarkhani which was like a paratha, but I hear the preparation of it begins a night earlier, it is had at breakfast. Yes, delicious. Then there is the spinach, which is  cut and friend almost directly. Even the Maash ki daal was among the tastiest I’ve ever had.

Entertaining poetry by Shahnaz:

 

The food was taken with a ‘tarka’ of humeros\us poetry by Shahnaz which really entertained us. I’m always intrigued by how the poets remember every verse so well! It was truly hilarious. Especially the one on the process of saying prayers, when everything distracts us. Somehow its recording got messed up. L

Then there was the one on ‘Green card ka ishq’, and ‘After getting the Green Card!’ (then you start missing your country all over again)… So many different topics, highly entertaining.

The fun part of traveling:

Let me sum it up like this:

  • Meeting people you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
  • Seeing places you never saw before. Realizing how big this earth is, all full of people, cultures, mindsets, and what not. Surprise surprise!
  • Realizing how well you can live without all those ‘necessities’ back home!
  • Finding pleasant surprises of handicrafts, dresses, styles of people who are different from you.
  • Having the time to have those in-depth talks which never happen at home as you rush around.
  • You love the break. My mother said, ‘I loved the break too!’ My daughter and she had a ball, breaking all my rules of having meals at the table! – (I didn’t ask the staff, I’m sure they also must have enjoyed themselves.) So, we all need the break.
  • Yes, it was definitely worth it.

Must do more of it and stay more blessed. 🙂

Eid greetings to all!

 

Eid Mubarak Everyone!

I’m sure your Eid was as wonderful as your Ramzan. As I write, it is Sunday night. Ramzan is over, and so is the last day of Eid holidays. You all are nicely tucked into your beds, ready to start a ‘normal’ week tomorrow.

So, who reads a blog post about a brisk round up of Eid and Ramzan?

We must be grateful for an awesome Ramzan. Spending the next eleven months of the year, fully devoted to our physical, financial, intellectual, social and emotional well-being… so one month was necessary to be devoted to our spiritual selves.

It is this spiritually enlightened self which will actually last us through  both our life times.

Come to think of it, within this month, we are polishing ourselves:

  1. Spiritual:  grooming our spiritual selves,

  2. Physical: Intermittent fasting is what it is all about, done properly, you can feel the difference!

  3. Social: the iftar gatherings, are nice, but don’t over do it. It is better to send trays of goodies in your neighborhood, and give food for the poor.

  4. Emotional:  you feel so much better when you give to the poor with your own hands, and meet them. This is true inner strengthening. – You actually feel happy for no obvious reason!

  5. Intellectual: You get plenty of time for studying in detail), and financial growth. Yes, giving zakat  actually, increases one’s wealth!Mine certainly did increase, ever since I started giving it.

A Ramzan, I’d never seen before….

  • Free food being served for iftari on islands between roads and highways in Islamabad.
  • Every mosque gave a sumptuous iftari every day of the blessed month.Rations were distributed among the poor families.
  • You all’s help, made it possible to help two families to prepare to marry off their daughters. I’m sure you remember, we married off two girls earlier here. Yes, we were able to get them clothes, kitchen ware of dinner sets, tea-sets, pots and pans etc. We were able to give an amount so the family could give a nice meal  to the wedding guests.
  • With your help (Rimsha, Hafza, Ijlal, Jawad, and Shagufta Zafar,) over one hundred children of CSS school received gifts of clothes, (and sweets courtesy Inam Illahi) for Eid. They were also given the time of their lives with magic shows, cotton candy, balloons and popcorns, with Myra’s team.
  • At the same time, My friend in Canada and her husband (who wish to remain anonymous,) along with my mother, and daughter were instrumental in providing a hearty meal for each child and family of the hundred children and staff of CSS school for underprivileged children.
  • Your help (My Mother, Mrs. Sarfaraz) made it easier to give more things to the elderly in Old People’s Home at Bint e Fatima.
  • Allah made the fasting easier somehow. One didn’t feel thirsty or hungry at all.
  • Everyone was able to read more of Holy Quran with translations.

Iftar parties:

Personally, I avoid iftar parties like the plague. While loving sending out and receiving trays full of goodies at home, I prefer my own home iftari.

However, going out to be with ones’ loved one’s is always a pleasure.

Missing our loved ones on Eid 🙁

A day before Eid, Waliya and I visited the army graveyard, in Rawalpindi. Yes, it was sad, but also felt good to see that so many others were there too. Later, I shared my daughter’s stories on my Instagram account also, as it said exactly what I felt too. I’m sure you too must be feeling the same way about your loved ones.

Alhamdolillah, a nice Eid day:

Inviting one’s dear family and friends on Eid day is the best way to make one feel better. So, we had Haroon, Uzma and Daniyal for lunch, along with Ayesha, her mother and children.

We had new clothes to wear too, and I happily wore the one sent by Aliya Janjua. 🙂

The tradition of ‘Eidie’ was carried out in a humerus way. It is a sweet way to do it!

Stay blessed and keep smiling! 🙂

Miracles of this Ramzan 2019

Assalam o Alaikum to you all!  We  are half way through Ramzan, the month of fasting for Muslims. Here in Islamabad it is from around 3.30 am till 7.07 pm. So it is 15.5 hours. I know it is up to eighteen hours in other parts of the world, like in Seattle. Surprisingly, It has been going really well, and full of beautiful miracles. Let me share some of these with you:  (others are in the pipe-line!)

1.     The water and accident incident:

Just look at this little incident that happened with me….

Last Saturday, I was going for art class to Rahi Studio. It was for  a landscape project. So, when I was about to leave home, I thought I’d take a magnolia flower bud for Hajra Apa. I broke one off the tree, and got my usual water bottle and put it in. At the gallery,  I took the flower out of the bottle, and went in to give it to Apa.

It was a joy to work on the painting, where my friend Salma gave me this canvas to work on. After the class, at the crossing near our home, I suddenly decided to go to my tailor to give  our Eid clothes . Afterwards,  as I was driving on the main Margalla road, enjoying the sight of scenic mountains; I saw a home delivery motorbike of a company ahead of me. Suddenly, I saw it getting out of control, and he toppled over.  The man fell on the roadside and then fell over the side, tumbling downwards on the slope beyond. I stopped my car a little ahead. I watched several bikers  stop and help the man get back to the roadside, next to his up-righted bike.

He sat  looking dazed. I took the water bottle, and offered him, he was fasting but gratefully accepted the water to splash it on his face.  He looked visibly improved, he returned the bottle to me.  I walked back to my car.

While driving back home, I went over the chain of events that brought me here at this moment. How it is God who makes us  do  things at certain times, to help His individuals.  This is why it is important to do what our heart tells us to do, because we know Who lives in our hearts, but we have yet to know, why He  prompts us!

Who knows, how many times He has helped us in this way. Then we wonder how the right person was there to help us when we needed it most!

Believe me, I’ve been a recipient so many times.

2.     Preparing trousseau for daughters of under-privileged persons:

Do, you remember how the wedding of two girls took place here, in Northern area, last month? We managed to get them lovely suits, cash for food and lots of things for home. All, thanks to the donations from you all, and specially from Aalia Janjua from California,  and  from my anonymous donors in Canada. There were  clothes from Uzma, Okasha and my mother and I also pitched in. May Allah help you all, for going out of your way for these people.

Since the wedding took place earlier than I expected, we ended up with extra donations. So, now I was ready to do the same for two more marriages! I drove off  around 10.30 pm and did shopping for them in my favorite shop in G-9 Markaz . Usually, I hate shopping, but this kind of shopping, I love. 🙂

So I got so excited when I was able to get quite a lot more  stuff within the same amount. All through meticulous planning alternatives with the salesman, Mudassar.  ( Yes, the one who gave Rs.1000 donation, last time.

He said:

‘People go for Umra spending so much, if they did such things it would change someone’s life. He said, God knows, if that Umra gets accepted by Allah, but such acts of making life easier for the underprivileged persons would definitely please Allah.’ So, he really helped me a lot, and I got two tea sets, one water-set, along with the dinner set of seventy-four pieces and three cooking pots’ set. Lots of knick knacks like kitchen knives, cooking and frying spoons, salt and pepper containers, and even lemon squeezers!

Meanwhile, Shazia Rizwan and her friends had collected some beautiful clothes, and cash for this wedding. Bisma also added some beautiful suits and shirts.

So, I’m all set for another wedding now. In fact, I was able to hand over to one mother who was very happy with the help.

Please note, it is not dowry, it is just a few things that any mother would love to give her daughter while seeing her off to start her new home. It is a privilege and honor for me, to be of help in this.

It may be noted, that I’ve never given any dowry to my own daughters who got married. Nothing was ever demanded either from the wonderful families. My daughters, Alhamdolillah, never faced any issues from their in-laws due to it. My daughters and I’m truly blessed. However, I love to help underprivileged persons, as they have serious issues, and I’m sure these things would be of great help for them.

3.     Distribution of Rations and food:

Every home in Pakistan, I’m sure provides rations for their staff and under-privileged persons living in their community during Ramzan. If nothing else, they will donate an amount which contributes towards food for poor in mosques. So, as I displayed a typical ‘pack’ to my followers on Instagram, several living abroad asked me to do the needful for them here. So, my staff would go and get the set and I’d look out for deserving families to give these rations to. Wives of drug addicts, widows, and individuals going through rough times, especially those who didn’t ask, but we could see they needed it. So that felt good.

4.      Clothes for CSS school children for Eid:

 

As you know, last Ramzan we managed to get Eid gifts for the CSS school children, you can read about them here.

This time Usman mentioned that it would be good to get clothes for them instead. I kept quiet. Clothes are a hassle, as the size and fit can be a big issue. ‘So, how will we do it?’ I wondered.  ( Just didn’t have the heart to say ‘no’ to Usman.) He is doing an impossible task of running a school for 170 underprivileged children.  So, I asked Asif my web expert, to please make a poster to share this idea with my friends and  followers.

Suddenly, I get this message on Instagram from a girl named Rimsha ….

‘I was thinking of getting clothes for CSS school children.’ My heart skipped a beat. ‘I’m a student of forth year in Arid University, Rawalpindi.’ I was thrilled. By now, she and her friends have gathered forty-seven dresses.

Then I got a call from  Shagufta Zafar,

‘Shireen, I’ve contacted a factory in Lahore, and I’ll be able to get about fifty clothes.’ Wow.

Then Andaleeb sent me  ten lovely clothes, all packed up. Ayesha gave me around fifteen.

Our target is achieved in half the time!!!!

As the target got achieved, I get this message from Inam Illahi – a new member of the Shireen’s Studio Group, ‘I’m sending sweets for the children at your address.’ So, hopefully, we shall have sweets in each parcel now, thanks to Inam!

5.     Food for the children:

My friend from Canada asked me to help with the wedding and food for CSS children.  (I’ve been asked by my Canadian donors to withhold their names.) Insha Allah we shall have the ‘deg’ ready for these children.  It is good to give them boxes with food so the whole family can share the food at home with them. These shall be given with the suits for Eid.

Can you feel that happy feeling creeping into your heart? This is how Usman has been giving food to his students earlier on:

6.     You make miracles happen:

So, now I know why Pakistan is the happiest country in this region. (This definitely includes all you Pakistanis who are living abroad and have your hearts still hanging in here.) It also includes all those who aren’t Pakistanis, still have a heart of gold eager to help those who needed their help.

I just love your  beautiful souls for having the will to help underprivileged children, and families. Wherever you are, find someone to help. I’m telling you, it is the easiest way to feeling great!

Yes, you are right. Lots more is cooking…. you’ll be updated soon. 😉

The card that accompanied the gifts of clothes for CSS school children from Andaleeb:

Naturally, I feel happy. Even though we can’t stop the rape, killings and horrible incidents happening around us. We can at least do our little bits to gladden a few hearts here and there.

Sometimes, that is enough.:)

 

Singaporean Rice – a favorite dish

 

This is my daughter Waliya’s favorite dish. She is a connoisseur of food. So, when I’m feeling very loving towards my child, I like to make this for her. Once, we were going through a tough period in our lives, I decided to make this for Waliya, as a surprise. So, when I went to pick her from Hunarkada, she was hungry and said, ‘what’s cooking?’ I kept quiet. That made her curious. So the moment we got home she asked Abdul Rahim, who had opened the gate for us. He responded with a straight face, ‘daal!’ (You never had to explain anything to him. He always knew how to respond to what!)
Waliya has always been smart, she dashed into the kitchen and saw her favorite dish had been cooked. She screamed with joy! – Yes, we are rather expressive. 
So, this dish is self-sufficient, you don’t make anything with it. When you cook it you will realize, there are so many ingredients, that it is enough. So, you serve it on a platter. But if you want to be different, then you can serve part of it separately.
Prologue:
I first saw this recipe on Chef Zakir Naik’s television program in 2009. I sat and diligently wrote as he spoke, and then the electricity went off! – right before the end. I was devastated, as I was really liking it. My cousin Shahnaz Api came over the next day, and I mentioned the ‘great tragedy’ that happened, and she said, ‘I have it.’ She said it was their favorite too. So, I got the rest from her. Then I found his recipe book with my mother. I realized, that he had given some good tips in his show which weren’t in the book. So, I’ve combined it. Also, I’ve made my own crispy top.

The recipe of Singaporean Rice:

(Serves four to five  persons)

Ingredients:

Rice: 2 cups
Boneless chicken: 200 grams. (Cut in ½ inch pieces)
Maggie Noodles: 3 – 4 packets.
Capsicum: 1
Carrot: 1
Onion: 1
Cabbage: ½
Ginger garlic: 1 table spoon.
Garlic: 4 to 6 cloves.
Green chillies: 4 or 5
Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon.
Salt: to taste:
Oil: as required.
Oyster sauce: 1 table spoon.
Worcester sauce: 1 teaspoon.
Black pepper: 1 teaspoon.
While pepper: ½ teaspoon.
Tomato ketchup: 1 cup
Corn flour: 1 tablespoon.
Mayonaise: 4 table spoons.
Chilli garlic sauce: 4 table spoons.
Turmeric: ½ teaspoon
Zeera: 1 teaspoon.
Oil: 2 table spoons.

Method:

1. Boil the rice in water which has 1 teaspoon zeera in it, and 1 teaspoon salt, and set aside.
2. Heat about 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a wok or karahi, add ginger-garlic paste, cook till golden brown and add chicken. Cook the chicken in uncovered pan till golden. Then cover and simmer for a few minutes till tender.
3. While chicken is simmering, prepare vegetables by cutting carrots, capsicums in thin long slices, onions in 1 inch cubes, (separate the leaves), put cabbage at the end. Add these vegetables to the chicken.
4. Just stir fry chicken, then add: salt, white pepper, black pepper, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce.
5. Add tomato sauce at the end, and cover. Take off flame.
6. Boil the noodles in microwave with lessor water than instructed. Add the masala’s with it also. Then let it stay in microwave till water gets fully absorbed. Make sure the noodles aren’t overdone. They must be firm. If there is water in it, strain it.
7. Deep fry noodles, in small batches, and keep aside on paper to drain.
8. Thinly cut the garlic cloves, sideways and cut green chilies also lengthwise, then fry these in very little oil in a pan, till golden. Remove and keep aside.
9. Mix chili garlic and mayonnaise, and keep aside in a bowl.
10. Now, take the serving dish, lay out half the rice, then a layer of chicken and vegetables, then another layer of rice, (not fully covering the chicken and vegetables.) Dab with the mixture of chili-garlic sauce and mayonnaise, and then sprinkle the fried garlic and green chilies here and there. Then cover with the fried noodles, and garnish with green chilies, tomatoes or carrots.
Enjoy watching your family and guests lap it all up! 😉
Stay blessed, lovely ones. 🙂