Self-talk to heal

Sigh! I’ve begun to love my readers. Writing is a labor of  love anyway, but to be writing for you, is a privilege because I know you are amazing.  Let me say, that your responses have made me feel so close to you all. In the past two weeks or so, (after my father passed away)  I’ve been totally overwhelmed. Your messages on Instagram and Facebook have truly helped me in coping.

Now, it has come to a point, where I’m going to be consoling you all. Everyone who came, naturally shared their own sad experiences too. I realized I’m not alone in my sorrow. Many of you have had far more heart wrenching experiences.

So, let us heal together.

I’ll start with a joke; There is this funny case, where there was one person chasing the other. When they were stopped to find out why; one said, ‘I’ve sat and listened to all his poetry. Now, when it was my turn, he is running away! So, I’m chasing him, to make him sit and listen to my poetry also!’

Got it? I’m here for you. So, let us heal together. 

Luckily, we belong to a religion that doesn’t allow more than three days of grieving. (Only the wife can be in iddat for around four months. That too, she need not be too restricted.) So, all others are to get back to real life.

How to get back to normal life:

  1. By looking round at people who have gone through more than yourself, and sharing their sorrows. Try healing together.
  2. I’ve realized that sorrow has a tendency to make one a bit selfish as we start only thinking of our own grief, so this is why we need to give charity, to realize the pain and sorrows of others.  
  3. We need to consciously, make commitments and honor the commitments made earlier. Instead of refusing such occasions, try to attend them. Make an effort to get back to normal life as soon as possible. For instance, much earlier, I had accepted being a chief guest at the prize distribution ceremony in Sarah’s Wisdom Garden school where I’ve worked earlier. When Munazza Azhar asked me, I agreed to go. So, when the time came, I went. This was exactly a week after my father passed away.  When asked again, I purposely made the effort. Once I went, it felt good to get back in touch with  real life.
  4. Similarly, I made an effort to resume my art classes which I had recently begun at my studio. I know it is hard. It will be hard anyway. 
  5. Be kind to your staff who has worked so hard. So, I gave leave to my father’s helper, so he could be with his family too. (In the earlier days, he himself didn’t take leave.)
  6. Thanking Allah at every step is so important.
  7. Watching finances carefully is vital. Due to departure of one family member the financial dynamics change. So, be down to earth about it. In our culture we have a tendency of over spend. We are at fault. I’ve seen very big business people being very simple at such times.

More self-talk points:

In fact, self-talk is awareness of one’s inner voice. We do it with our journals. When I became a widow, I faced appalling financial issues. I was also clear not to ask for any money. So, I had to be very careful and focused. (Perhaps one day I’ll share with you how I managed.) But this time, it is sufficient to say, always keep money aside for a ‘rainy day’. This is the rainy day. But then, do not spend all of it either. Here too, you’ve got to keep aside for another rainy day.

So, what I do is to have a ‘meeting with myself’. It sounds funny, but it is true. One has to give time to such an activity.

  • A time free of all distractions. To sit alone with a notepad or journal.
  • Decide the topics that need to be thought out. And do it.
  • So, you can silently communicate with yourself, taking your own name or using the third person as ‘she’ or ‘he’. I looked it up and there was interesting information on the net. I liked this one best. Specially the ‘door’ methods, where you invite the uncomfortable emotions in, and deal with them with compassion to heal yourself.
  • In my recent case, I had to tell myself to be grateful to have had my father in our home for last six years. To have so many happy memories with him.  
https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/embracing-dark-emotions#5
  • In short, through self-talk you will be your own best friend.

Financial:

Make a reality check. In short, accept help offered voluntarily. Later, you can reciprocate at an appropriate time. Also, be in the middle ground for all expenses. Be careful with valuables around the house, and keep an open eye all round. Sometimes miscreants arrive at such times.  So be vigilant.

Social:

In the beginning your relatives and friends will come at all hours. It is fine, and you need it. Later, on as you get back to normal routine, have a special ‘visitor’s hour’ so that you can start work too. Usually, a time slot between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm is a good one. Be particular that this socializing doesn’t put a burden on the sleeping times of the young and old in your family.

Cultural:

Our culture is pretty lethal. So, be very clear about not letting such cultural traditions into your routine which have no place in one’s religion. The fact is that there is no room for lavishing food out on ‘chaleeswan’ and ‘barsi’.  Even a Qul isn’t necessary. But it is better for the family to call everyone at the same time. So, this is fine. Usually, in our culture we are lavishing food on those who have enough, it would be better to feed the poor instead.

During your self-talk…

  1. Clarify your situation to yourself.  Then specify your requirements and prioritize them.
  2. Be clear as to what needs to be done first, then next and so on. So, later on you don’t regret for not doing certain things in time.
  3. Do, take help from your near and dear ones. Decide whom you will confide in.
  4. Do make notes.
  5. Once you have clarified your stance. You will feel better and more able to cope with whatever situation is at hand.
  6. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. If you are doing ten things, there would be failure in two or more. Do not dwell on your mistakes. Just learn from them and move on.
  7. Take yourself on a drive, or pamper yourself. Take along someone who gives you peace, not brings in her own potpourri of miseries too. It is a time to say a simple ‘Alhamdolillah’ that is all.
  8. Listen to your heart, because your gut, your God and You live there.
  9. Through your self talk, you will find ways to implement what is in your heart.

Keep up your good work:

My mentor Mahjabeen mentioned the other day, if you have started doing something for Allah’s sake, like giving food to fishes, or birds or animals, do continue doing it, as they will be looking out for you now. If you have started some social work, do not let it get stopped because you got busy, you must make a point of doing all those things, as those people too will be waiting for you.

Once, I used to volunteer at Rahat Kada in Karachi, (a place for the terminally ill patients.) When I went,  a lady told me, she had put on lipstick and was ready since the morning waiting for us! She was so happy we had gone to sit and chat with her and other patients.

Sometimes, if we cannot do anything, just to give some time and attention can make all that difference in someone else’s life.

So, in this ‘self-talk’ we need to remind ourselves to carry on the little things we have taken up lately. To make sure we are doing our bit in this life given to us.

Stay blessed my dear one. I really love you, and wish all the best for you. 

Allah kay hawalay ….

My father, a man of his word.

God be with you.

Losing one’s father is tough. I have now realized what my children went through seven years ago.

 Last Thursday morning, 21st February, I rushed my father to PAF Hospital. His helper Sabir had carried him to the car in panic. On arrival in emergency of PAF hospital, my father was admitted in ICU.  The doctors told Waliya and myself that he was critical.

This time, the doctors were right.

The next day, Friday, 22nd, around 3.00 pm, my father peacefully met His Maker. Inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajiun. To Him we belong, and to Him we return. 

Thank God I remembered to say Alhamdolillah. Just so grateful for having my amazing Dad in my life till now. He spent the last six years in our home.  There are no regrets.  Waliya and I did our best. Nadiya, Nataliya and Anya came every year, spending a lot of time with them.  He overlooked whatever got missed out. He was always sporting and gallant, only giving us advice when asked, and it was always great advice.

I’ve shared a lot with my followers in Instagram and Facebook. Also, two years ago, when I was in Seattle, my father got unwell, in 2016. This is what I wrote in my post then.  

Sharing a few details from last week:

  1. Only a day earlier, my father came to my room, and spoke so lovingly to me. It was on Wednesday 20th February. I couldn’t get out of bed, as I was unwell, suffering from dizzy spells and a back sprain. So, my Dad walked all the way from the lounge to my room to sit there and pray for my well-being. He said, ‘I’m praying that you get well soon, my Bittu. Meri dua hai, keh aap theek ho jao! Ap ki tabiyat theek rahay.’  (I pray that you may get well soon, and you may remain well.) These have turned out to be the last words he spoke to me.
  2. As an only child, I had to take care of everything. Thank God, Hasan Jafar came within minutes to the hospital. He helped me make decisions of burial etc. 
  3. The officers of the army and friends, and relatives all rose to the occasion and did so much for us, that no words can ever be enough. My mother, my daughters and I are so overwhelmed. They took over all requirements of burial, Qul and guests. Specially, General Qamar (of 8FF) and 111 Brigade took over the burial formalities out of my hands. Col. Zahid my cousin’s husband, took care of details. Alhamdolillah, it was great having their help and consoling words.
  4. It is important to note that MPCHS, (Muliti Proffessional Cooperative Housing Scheme) had also made all arrangements for me, they had prepared for burial in B17 graveyard, also all formalities, including namaz-e-janaza at local mosque near our home. They also arranged for the gents during Qul to read siparas there and sharing of memories.
  5. Receiving messages of condolences and phone calls from all over the world and locally, made me realize I wasn’t alone. Instagram, Facebook was full of so many assurances and support. Our home was full of loving and hugging friends and relatives.
  6. One thing amazes me most. I realize why Allah didn’t give me any siblings, as He surrounded me with better persons than siblings even. The fraternity of friends, relatives, families, and literally strangers, all made sure I received more care. My uncles, aunts, cousins,friends were all there to take over. May Allah bless them all. A special thanks to my cousin Hasan and Chachi Shahnaz, Amina, and their girls. Ayesha my friend, and Zoha along with so many others. Many traveled from far, to be with us.
  7. The men who came from far and wide, even from DIK to attend my father’s funeral rites. Gen. Qamar, Gen. Saeed-uz-Zafar, sons of my father’s friends, Brig. Ajab and many others.  I thank all those who came to attend my father’s funeral.
  8. My special thanks to Col. Zahid who is husband of my cousin, who went into tears when I offered to pay for the grave. He said,‘your father called me his son, let me be that son now!’
  9. Everyone had a tale to share. Everyone felt the pain. Even persons from our locality who watched him go for his daily ‘walk’ on his wheelchair, (he would return with flowers in his lap, handed to him by children playing there.)
  10. I had to tell myself that I did as much as I could. Things were getting difficult in spite of the amazing care by Dr. Fayaz Bangash managing his UTI, and Dr. Mehmood. I was on the verge of having to making some difficult decisions putting a PEG directly into his stomach or putting a food pipe, as his food intake was suffering.
  11. Loving the fact that my college friends, Fairy, Riffat and Ayesha came all the way from Lahore, just for the Dua, (special prayers)  and returned afterwards. (So, they traveled ten hours by road to be two hours with me!) in fact Fairy was the one who said the special prayers. She mentioned such pertinent points in her sermon, everyone was quite struck by it all.
  12. We humbly accepted the food arrangements by my chachi Shahnaz, phupi Aziz and Chacha Mumtaz. Even my neighbors sent me food. 
  13. Suddenly, it has dawned on me, my father has been taken away by my Allah to a better place.  Allah kay hawalay.

In Retrospect:

  1. Alhamdolillah, my precious father has been taken by my Allah to a place free of all these physical hardships.
  2.  Going on a Friday, would make him free of hardships of the grave, Insha Allah.
  3.  As a Ghazi from two wars, he would InshaAllah be making a smooth journey to Heaven.
  4. Thanks to each one of you, my father is now standing so much of a better chance of reaching his heavenly abode, due to all your prayers and good wishes.
  5. He truly lived by the four elements that bring success in this life and the next. I’ve written a piece on it in this blog post. It is based on a sermon by Tariq Jameel. 
My father was interested in details being explained at the museum during a visit a year ago. 

Remember this:

I realized, that since I was emotionally very charged and upset, I needed to step back and remember these things first. To be very careful I don’t say anything that may hurt anyone. Many who came or messaged me, shared the fact that they too had recently lost a loved one, a grandmother, father, or brother. So, I suppose we all need to remember this:

  1. Forgive ourselves for any inadequacies. Death is final and inevitable, no matter what. It is natural to feel that I didn’t do enough. 
  2. Remembering strengthening words: my friend Tahira shared with me these words the day my husband passed away:

You must not say, ‘I wish!’ you will accept everything that happened, as the will of Allah; The time, the place, the way… everything happened by the will of God.’ So, you need to accept it as such.’ Remembering these words made me feel strong again.

  • Treasure good memories, and focus on the positives.
  • Appreciate all help given by near and dear ones, and by total strangers.
  • Do not overdo anything, stay within your means. As Fairy said, ‘my mentor told me, ‘apni istataat mein rehna chahiye.’ Do only what Allah expects from you.  – Not overdoing anything. (On the day of judgment you won’t be asked about many things for which we keep running around in this world.  So, why get into them?) Keep things simple, as everyone understands.
  • Saying Alhamdolillah, at every step. Starting from the moment Allah chose to take away my loved one. To not saying anything that I may regret later on. So, it is best to say the least.
  • Take it easy, this is a tough stage in life, so be kind to yourself. Sleep and rest whenever you can. Even if sleep evades, you just relax. Take a warm or hot shower and take mini-breaks and relax.
  • Be patient:  Step back and avoid getting angry. Remember you are under severe stress. So, cool down, and be very patient.  You need not speak much, most of those who come, want to share their own similar experiences. It is good. You know you aren’t alone. Listen to their problems with full attention and patiently. Many lost their dear ones recently. They, too want you to share their story, and give them sympathy.
  • Do not miss any prayer: Be vigilant in saying prayers and any reading of duas.
  • Give sadqa at every opportunity.  
When I had taken my parent for a visit to the Museum in Islamabad. 

Thank you, my beloved Readers and followers in Instagram and Facebook as well . Thank you for being by my side. Stay blessed. ( I certainly am blessed by your strengthening words.)

Realization & writing journals.

‘It’s a quality of prophets to realize….’ said Dr. Muwaddat Rana, a leading Psychiatrist of Pakistan. 

Realization:

Realization is to look within ourselves, to ‘see’ our own shortcomings, and then to find ways to improve ourselves.

Simple!

Until we don’t realize where we went wrong, we can never remake ourselves, nor improve our future relationships.  You can say or do what you like, but it won’t work.

See how two Prophet’s felt it:

Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) case:

I’m sure you’ve heard of the woman who brought her child to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), saying, ‘she has too many sweets, please tell her to stop.’ He asked her to return next day. When she came, he told the child not to have sweets. Surprised, she asked ‘why he didn’t say the same yesterday?’ He said,

‘Till yesterday, I was having too many sweet eatables myself.’

How can one tell others to do something, which one doesn’t follow oneself?

This is realization.

It was Hazrat Younus, who prayed:

one of the most powerful prayers you can say. 

Realizations in relationships:

It is the most important thing in maintaining our relationship with anyone. To make sure nothing happens, and when it happens, to realize, and redeem. It is vital to restore the situation and relationship by making changes in one’s own behavior; you need to take steps to show what you are feeling. Your realization needs to be evident not only in words but by actions too.

Sometimes, a simple ‘sorry, I love you.’ Doesn’t work. More has to be done to redeem a relationship.

I know, among Christians, redemption takes on a strong connotation, but you know what I mean. I could use the word ‘restore’ also. But redemption is a little more than that. It is to make up for the wrong you did by doing that little extra bit too. That is what I feel and believe. Even Allah says if you are sorry for having done something wrong, as the person for forgiveness. (He won’t forgive till that person has forgiven either.) You can feed the poor, or fast for two months, too.

 You need to do something tangible to show you are really sorry, and to prove your realization.

Journaling or keeping a diary helps:

Journaling is an excellent tool to look at your own self and ‘see’ the connotations. It makes a difference.

Write about both happy and sad things while journaling:

I’ve kept a diary since I was thirteen years old. Believe me, it helps. So, all my life, I’ve done a lot of journaling. The only thing I now realize, I did wrong was, that I wrote ferociously when I was upset, unhappy or wronged. But hardly ever wrote, when I was ecstatic or happy. So, later on, if I read my diary, one felt as if there have been more unhappy times that happy ones    – which I know isn’t the case – so, while journaling, one’s got to keep balance.

Blaming others doesn’t help:

Blaming others and pointing out their mistakes and shortcomings, will never help you. Realize, where you went wrong. How your reactions could have made a difference. Being proactive earlier, can change consequences. I mean, next time, if you have realized,  you can preempt situations and save them before they get bad. Changing and improving your own behavior definitely will make a difference. That only comes after realization.

Otherwise,  you can go on making the same mistakes, and facing the same consequences all your life. If you don’t realize, it won’t happen.

Then you ask,

 ‘Why do such things happen to me?’

Bullet journaling;

Life is fast, time is short. You can do bullet journaling. I like it too. You can even try both – depending on your mood and time at hand – just write five points daily.  Great personalities including several US presidents, wrote a diary at night, going over the day. Seeing where they went wrong, and how they can improve matters next day.

Best thing about journaling;

Also, by writing, you can look at an issue from many angles. This is Edward De Bono’s concept of wearing the six hats. That is you look at an issue from six different points of view.

I’ve found just writing the pros and cons of something, or problem and solutions works pretty well too.

Some things, can’t be felt when someone else tells you. But you can realize it. When you look at your actions, ‘seeing’ how it happened. Then prepare a  step-by-step redemption plan.  You can say ‘I was wrong, and go up to the person say you are sorry. Not only that; Your behavior afterwards can show it, on a daily basis.

Worth the effort:

Believe me, if I find out that I’ve not spoken nicely to my cook or domestic help, I’ll go to him and ask him to forgive me for having hurt him. It isn’t easy cooking in such extreme temperatures. To come all the way, and then to get comments that hurt. So what, if there was too much salt in the food, one could have said the same thing in a nicer way too. Also, not in front of others. There are opportunities  for putting things right. So, asking for forgiveness needs to be done as quickly as possible.

Journaling is good for one’s EQ:

In today’s language you could say that a diary or journal is good for one’s EQ – your emotional quotient. There is so much talk about IQ. – When in fact one needs to have a high emotional quotient too. If you read the book Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman, it stresses the importance of having an outlet for your emotions. A way to understand one’s self and to know why and how one feels the way one does.

In the book Working with Emotional Intelligence, the writer specially stresses how much people are affected by what they feel, rather than what they know. Most actions are fueled by anger, hatred, and feelings of revenge. – Whereas, it can be conquered by feelings of love and forgiveness.

The Amygdala:

Location of Amygdala. 

The amygdala in the brain is an important almond shaped part which controls our feelings. How important it is to nurture this, and how it affects our actions in our lives.  The feelings can be controlled by our own journaling and realizations.

How to do Journaling:

My diary. 
  1. Privacy: Your diary is yours. It is no fun if you can’t write what you feel, because you are afraid someone will read it. So, privacy is a matter of concern living in such an over populated country full of nosy people.  It shouldn’t be read by anyone. I can understand why one is afraid that one’s siblings will read it and then make fun of you. So, it is a mutual thing. You all respect each other’s right to privacy and guard each other’s right for it. Of course, you can use code words when you write delicate matters and no one will understand. Or you use diaries which can be locked. Yes, you can get them.  Or have a hidden file in your laptop. It is important to have your diary where you can express yourself. Mainly to write things frankly, and only then can you use it to realize where you have gone wrong in life. Then find out how to make it better. 
  2. Regularity: it doesn’t have to be a daily thing. But not an annual one either! So, usually one writes every few days.
  3. Make it a scrapbook:  If you take the trouble to put in your memorable things like pressed flowers, the ticket of a favorite show, or other personal things into it, along with photos and what not. It becomes even more interesting.
  4. Keep it easily accessible: It has to be near at hand, so you can write in it whenever you feel the need to. Best place is a lockable drawer in your bedside table. Orin your cupboard, or even in your bookshelf. Whatever, place you feel is good enough, and where it won’t be touched.
  5. You can have rituals with  special time & place: Sometimes having a scented candle burning while you write, or soft music feels great. Having a time, like first thing in the morning or last thing at night when it is your ‘me time’, then you are free to write. It can take five minutes or thirty minutes – as you like.
  6.  Agenda: Usually it is something that you can’t discuss with anyone else, you discuss with yourself here.
  7. Facing shortcomings:Do write what you want to improve about yourself and how you plan to go about it.
  8. Love yourself: As you do whatever you do, be kind to yourself, and loving too. Praise and acknowledge your journey.  

OMG you are still reading! Love you so much for reading all this way.

Stay blessed, lovely and handsome ones.  

Social Media & My Playlist

A better entertainment alternative to television …

You need oxygen from flowers too!

There was a student named Esha in Roots School, in 2009. I came to know her  when I worked as the Regional Coordinator in the Head Office of Roots School System. She was studying in O’levels.  I found her very mature and sensible. An only child, she chose to wear a hijab. Once I asked her which television programs she watched. I  was surprised to hear that she didn’t watch MTV, as a conscious decision. When asked why, (as all others her age would love to watch it,) she replied,

‘ I don’t like anyone to impose their ideas onto mine. By watching programs which I do not agree with, I’m leaving myself open to influence.’

 I knew she would be going a long way.

She did; Next, I heard she was studying in Harvard!

So, here is a lesson that we need to learn at any age, something this young teenager had realized already.  We must be selective about the ‘entertainment’ we watch, or the social media we use.  It is vital for us to make a conscious intrusion. Otherwise strangers controlling social media are already controlling us.

They are controlling our decisions, our actions, our relationships. Everything! As we know, most of it is through advertising. In fact the advent of advertising is what has led to this lethal materialism and crime rate in every society.

First, we have to be conscious of it; be aware of its impact. Only then can we protect ourselves.  

Very few people learn to control it.

So, what is media, and social media? Basically it is interactive, and can be used constructively too. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,and many other forms of media are all part of it.

How to find ways to succeed with it.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is it a source of peace or frustration?
  2. How can I benefits from it?
  3. Are my relationships with my family suffering due to it? If so, what can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?
  4. How can I restrict its usage? (There are apps on phones to help you restrict its use.)

Honest answers to these questions will help you.

The biggest victim is the lack of sleep faced due to no ‘closing time’ in this world of social media. 

Positive impact of social media:

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay for a while at least. So, my theory is, ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!’

As you know, everyone finally joined Facebook, after saying all sorts of horrid things about it. Now, the kids have left it and gone to Instagram.  – Now, we have started going there too!

Anyhow, I believe in middle ground and staying in tune with technology. To do whatever it takes to have a wonderful life. To stay blessed, and help others stay blessed too. If social media can help, why not?

Personal experience of yesterday:

How I found our cat through social media.

It is through social media, that I found Muffin, our Persian cat, yesterday.  

Last night, around 9.00 pm, I realized he was lost. Immediately, I informed Waliya, my daughter. Soon, a fan of hers had shared a screen print of an announcement on an animal rescue page. She felt it might be ours.

I had been frantically searching for him on our streets surrounding our home. ( Since he is deaf, there is no point in calling him.) I fell asleep. I woke up after 12.00 am, to realize that he was found! So, literally within three hours he was found. The driver of Mrs. Haroon, wife of the dentist Haroon ur Rashid, nearby, brought him home to her. She already has four cats. She kept him, and shared his picture with her daughter. Then the daughter, put up its picture on the page of animal rescuers in Rawalpindi. A fan of my daughter, saw it there, and sent its’ screen picture  to my daughter in Karachi. Then she informed me. I then contacted the rescuer Alina Omair.  She gave me Mrs. Haroon’s
number . That’s how the very next morning, I got my cat back. God bless them!

It is through social media that I found out about CSS School, and the old people’s home in Islamabad, where I’ve been able to help along with Sana from Australia, and now Nathalene in Islamabad. So, it is an excellent tool to improve lives of those around us.

In the end, it is up to us how we choose to use the latest technology.

It is YouTube which is the current favorite. Here, one can enjoy seeing episodes of plays in a row. I love listening to music too while working. This one is my current favorite:

One of my favorite tunes while working on these blogs. 

Success stories of saving lives:

I know of a kidnapped girl who was found through social media, and recently, a person has also been convinced not to commit suicide, too.

So, it has saved lives.

 The situation of Palestine has finally come in front of the entire world, as was the case of Myanmar, Myanmar: Are crimes against humanity taking place? *Warning: Distressing images * – BBC Newsnight.

Where genocide of Muslims had crossed all limits.

 I am very hopeful, that Kashmir can finally be saved – through social media. The written word is nothing compared to the real life videos that have taken the world by storm. India can no longer obstruct and block the media, from the world.

Policemen have been caught and so have the crooks.

Yes, Social Media is powerful and can save lives.

Negative impact of Social Media:

With so much dopamine and serotonin going round due to social media, how can it cause depression?

It definitely does! This is why its use has to be consciously kept restricted and controlled, or we are bound to suffer.

Watching motivational videos:

Ever since my husband passed away, I have my breakfast alone. I am accompanied with my daily ‘to do’ list, and DW channel  on television.  That’s how I’ve spent most of six years.

Since last year,  I’ve started watching motivational videos with breakfast. So, by now, I’m going to share quite a few of my favorite videos. You just have to write the name and you’ll get there. I’m sure you know far more.

Entertainment is a serious business.

It is best to allow a time and space for it. Then get on with our lives.

My daughter Nataliya has tried having ‘no screen day’. It is a good effort in the right direction. It is the best way to detox ourselves from it. I would suggest we have ‘no-screen-hours’ in the day, which is shared by the family too. This must be consciously followed, specially at meal times and family times and specially, while entertaining guests. 

Going for walks without using the social media is important. Breathe in this fresh air, and listen to the birds instead. 

Keep these sanity points while using social media:

Just for your peace of mind:

  1. Have a Life! – Besides the one you share on media.
  2. Do not stalk people: or follow people unnecessarily.  Do not be envious of them. (Be clear that what they are sharing can also be untrue! Also, even if it is true, it is just a few minutes of their 24 hours. The rest maybe hell 😉 …. )
  3. Do not get impressed by the food: they are eating now, (they didn’t share that sookha toast with malai this morning!)
  4. Do not believe all that you see:  Yes, the filters and make-up are doing a damn good job too! (That’s why they look more beautiful.) Appreciate all the beauty your Allah has blessed you with.
  5. People say ‘cheese’ to camera even when they don’t feel like it: Remember, even when they show news bulletins of flood-hit people, they cannot help but smile at the camera. (We know they have just lost their homes…) It’s so funny.
  6. Don’t worry, they are as miserable as you, too: – So get happy for that! ( I mean, my gas bill last month had me very upset. I perked up when I found out that I wasn’t alone. Everyone had got a tough gas bill. This is why, I do like to share some real sad things and goof-ups in my life with you all, to show you I’m just another human being
  7. Restrict your time spent: You can do this by committing yourself to situations where you interact with real people. Especially your own family. Read books, and blogs which are positive and helpful. Do physical exercise, and have healthy food.(Upcoming blog post! 😉 )

Having said all that, let us get back to social media….

My favorite playlist of music and other videos:

The other day, someone asked me for my ‘playlist’. Well, here is a glimpse into my musical playlist, and some of my favorite videos:  

Classic Plays by Haseena Moeen:

  •   Shahzori,
    •  Ankahi,
    • Tanhaiyan,
    • Dhoop kinaray.

Sameena Peerzada interviews:

  • Ushna.
  • Mohsin and many others.

Self help and motivational videos:

  • Bano Qudsia
    • Ashfaque Ahmed.
    • Qasim Ali Shah: All his videos are amazing, specially the one’s on teaching, and relationships.
  • BK Shivani: Relationships 1,2,3,4,
    • Robin Sharma: Morning routine, 5 mentalities mastery, and the rest!
    • Stephen R Covey: 7 habits of Highly Effective People.
    • Opera Winfrey: 10
    • Dr. Wyne Dyer:
    • Iyanla Vanzant.

Music:

  • Mehmut Orhan: Game of Thrones, mix, Boral Kibil& Mehmut Orhan – uprising (Original Mix)
    • Mix- Boral Kibil & Mahmut Orhan, Mix – BoralKibil & Mahmut Orhan, HakanAkkus – I Can’t Be (Original Mix.) –( all oftheir work!)
    • Mehdi Hasan: Shola tha jal bujha hoon, sadaeinmujhay na do (Ahmed Faraz), koo ba koo Pail gai baat shanasai ki (PerveenShakir.)
    • Jagjit Singh – yeh tum jo itna muskura rahay ho,teray khushboo mein basay khat,  koi yehkaisay bataye ke wo tanha kiyon hai. His renderings of Mirza Ghalib’s ghazals.
    • Chitra – yeh na thi hamari qismet,
    • Geaoge Michael : Careless Whisper, Jesus to a Child,
    • Lionel Richie: Hello,
    • Berlin – Take My Breathe away theme from TopGun.
    • Toni Braxton – Unbreak my heart, 
    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-xbEO57lHg
    • Sade – smooth operator.
    • Arabic Spanish music:

Humor: (Remember, you have to laugh at least 23 times a day.)

Love this song!

I could go on and on. I think music is a very personal thing. We have to have a good collection, and keep it nearby for solace and peace. 

 Love you for coming all the way, to this point in my blog.  
Stay blessed, my dear Reader 🙂

Watch Out Girls!

It is so important to take care of your safety at all times. In today’s world, you are moving a lot. Coming in contact with people at home and outside. You have got to keep yourself safe in this world of today. In this blog post I just want to share some points which are vital for your safety. 

My father’s warnings:

‘It is good to be brave,’ my Dad once said to me, ‘but you must know the difference between being brave and being stupid!’

So, when you take a risk.  – Make it a calculated risk.

You know what that means? – That you take every precaution to keep yourself safe at all times.

Sultan Golden broke many world records and has been a pride for the country. He was a motorbike and car jumper, which is very rare in Pakistan. 
You see Sultan Golden here, and my father is standing next to Sheikh Zaid. This was a historic event in Lahore. It was my father Brig.M. M. Sarfaraz Khan who promoted Sultan Golden. It was only after finding out about the safety precautions which Golden took while performing these very dangerous feats. 

Sultan Golden would ride his motor bike through a flaming halo, and I’ve seen him perform this jump over twenty two cars, breaking the world record at that time. He did that with a car also. It appeared reckless. But actually, it wasn’t. He took all precautions; He wore a fireproof dress as he did so. He also practiced and calculated distance. He minutely calculated equipment, and the implementation of that motorbike jump to the minutest detail.  He did the same for his car jumps also.

That is what you should do.

Know that there is no law in Pakistan today which will protect you. (A law which is only in books is useless to a girl who has been harassed or mistreated.) In fact the ‘law’ won’t even protect you afterwards. You have the case of Mukhtara Mai in front of you. 

Know that.

And understand it well.

Things appear more spooky at night. The shadows can have someone there. So, have your place well lighted. 

I’ve done plenty of daring things in my life. (Nothing compared to what Sultan Golden did.) But it was risky. Yet it was all calculated risk. I made sure there wasn’t any ‘risk’ when I took it. You can reduce the risk factors one by one, by addressing your fears, and doing something about each one of them. You have to measure it all, I had taken every necessary precaution to protect myself and my daughters.

You don’t take daring steps without preparation.

When I lived alone with my daughter in a house, which was still under construction,  there were laborers living on first floor, and I had enemies. I knew there were burglars and thieves, and murderers around too. Only a month back, there had been attempts in several nearby houses, and homes in the vicinity. Yet, I moved into my house.  Apparently, it was a foolish thing to do, but in reality I had done my homework. (In spite of the fact that I had lost my husband just three weeks earlier, and had faced the most horrific situations.)

But when I moved into my home, I was prepared.

While moving in, I took all measures for safety. At first I had a guard. Then, got a security system installed.  I had my Paprica, a black cocker spanial who was ferocious. I kept knives, golf clubs all over the house, even under sofas. Everywhere. I had a pistol too. (Yes, I know how to use firearms!)_ I took a round of the house at every odd hour. I watched every car that parked outside.  My neighbors were on alert as were the laborers in my house too.

Of course, Allah helped me. But He too only helps those who help themselves.

 You don’t become suddenly brave. It has a lifetime of being fearless, and living courageously. You need to read books and watch videos on self defense. YouTube is full of these, and so are the book shelves. 

You can take help of police. Do register  domestic staff and do the needful. You can even write down names of persons you are apprehensive about at the local police station. Things are improving in many cases also. But. Rely on yourself only. 
Read these carefully.

Safety tips for you:

  • Dress:Dress with care. Never displaying flesh, or being seductively dressed. This dress has to be combined with a ‘no-nonsense’ attitude. You’ve got to make it clear by your mannerism exactly where the other person stands. Watch your tone of voice.
  • Time: Avoid being outside in night hours, unless you have full control of everything. Once I heard a program in which the person was asked why he behaved inappropriately with girls at a night club. He said, if a girl enters a nightclub alone after 12.a.m. it is an open invitation.
  • Never be alone with a man. Move in a group, and stay that way. If you find yourself alone, make your behavior and attitude such that a person won’t think of crossing the line. Do not accept a drink or meal from someone. Specially, when it isn’t sealed. (You know, something can be put in it to make you sedated.)
  •  Do not get blackmailed by anyone for anything. No matter how much a person says, be clear, that nothing is worth putting yourself in a risky situation.
  • Listen to your gut feeling: Sometimes, apparently everything is fine. But somehow you feel uneasy. This is your gut feeling. Respect it.
  • Do not tell anyone your next step: Plan things in such away, that you know for sure what you will do in which case. Keep this to yourself. The surprise element is your greatest weapon. If you tell another person what you are going to do, he will become prepared. So, look right and run left!
  • Have your plans A, B, C and D in place:  When your plan A doesn’t work. Then your ‘plan B’ will already be in line. (Be ready with your plan C also.) Here are a few tips:
    • If you have to be in an inappropriate situation, ask a friend to call you after fifteen minutes. Tell her to come, if you don’t answer the phone. You can have a code word to say to the person to indicate whether things are okay, or not. (Have another code, to tell the person to call again in a while, too).  Pick the phone and say it.
    • Do’ live sharing’on Google map  with your  friend so you can be traced and saved in time.
    • In any case, always keep a spray in your purse, and a packet of nice red-chili powder or chat masala to throw into an assailant’s eyes.
    • If nothing else, loudly read Auzo billa he minashata nirrajeem. It can be very powerful for these devils. 
  • As a parent:
    •  Listen to your child, and read the signals: If a child comes to you telling you about inappropriate behavior of anyone. Deal with the situation so she never has to face that person again. Remember, if you  aren’t going to respond to her or his plea seriously, who will?
    • Never leave your child: Even for a few days with a relative, going for an Umra or Haj is not ‘farz‘ if you have responsibilities. Take your child with you. All these events are child friendly. Otherwise, don’t go. I cannot help feeling that the Zainab case wouldn’t have happened, if the mother hadn’t gone for Umra. For God’s sake, it isn’t a ‘farz’ if you have responsibilities. Never confuse anything or situation with your own responsibilities.
    • Remember,‘accidents can be prevented’: Learn from mistakes. Learn and use modern  gadgets and technology to be close to your child.
    • Take your child to work with you: If you have to work, choose a place where they offer a day-care within the premises. Then you can visit your child, during work hours.
    • Choose work which allows children:These days I’m reading Barefoot Executive in which the author Carrie Wilkerson shows you how to start your own business from home, so you do not have to leave your children. All my life, I did my freelance work taking my children with me for interviews and research. You see the village women and even beggar women having their children with them. It is good. There are men who keep their children with them during work. The child benefits from this environment also. 
  • Do not trust anyone: Whether you know the person since childhood or have just met the person. It is actually all the same. Believe me, I know.
  • Follow the rules of Islam: If you just follow the rules of Islam then you will be safe in 99% of cases. A person is a ‘na-mehram’and that is it. People coming to you and saying ‘I’m your brother, or uncle, or father, is all nonsense.’ Only the real relationships can be trusted, and those too within their own constraints. That’s it.
  • Suicide tendencies: Note anyone talking about killing herself, or wanting to leave this world. Take it very seriously. Recently, I heard of someone who actually saved the life of a star, who had casually mentioned such a thing. You can save lives. Do it.
  • Read between the lines: Watch what people say, and what they do. Note the difference. Watch it even more carefully. Keep your opinion to yourself.  Whatever the case, if you have to meet someone, do it in a public place.

Do read ‘Ya Hafeezo’ and give sadqa or charity, (even if it’s a small one) every time you go out of the house, or first thing in the morning. If you don’t have cash give something of yours, or share your meal. (When you go to the restaurant, always take the left overs, even if it is to give to a beggar outside.

Stay safe and stay protected, and most of all, stay blessed.

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!