Eid Preparations’ check list.


No matter how well organized you are, Eid comes as a bit of a surprise. As I write, Eid hasn’t been announced even at 11.00 pm Pakistan time, on June 14th,2018. So, obviously, Eid won’t be on fifteenth June here.

A couple of hours ago, as I was busy doing up the home for my last minute preparations for Eid. I thought why not share this experience with you? I just love doing up the home for Eid. Here is a checklist:

1. Clean house properly. I’m sure you have checked the house from inside out. Got every room properly cleaned. Specially the fans. Made the gardener prune the plants. Shifted the indoor and outdoor plants a little. Removed all burnt out leaves and got the place fully cleaned.

2. The clothes are all ready and hanging in the cupboards. You must have done them up two days ago. Yes, couldn’t get the right shoes, but there are so many in the cupboard, I’m sure at least one pair will do fine. Check out the accessories, handbag, perfumes etc.

3. Food is the main concern: So, the menu has to be good enough for snacks and a meal, if some guests decide to stay, because you can’t resist insisting! Haleem is a good one, as it goes for a snack as well as a meal. As far as proper lunch is concerned, I love Chinese food, as it is light. Hope you got it ready or can get home delivery.

Check out from the restaurant, if they do home delivery. Otherwise, a good old pizza is also good enough! Just be kind to yourself and avoid last minute cooking and being in a hot kitchen. Fresh fruits are the best, as these are healthy and wonderful. If there are lots of guests in house and more are expected, then something wholesome like biryani, karahi or haleem would be good. Please be practical. Please do not insist on people having the food if they don’t want to.

4. A touch of panache: Tea-candles, sparkly lights, and lots of plants and flowers everywhere, really make a festive look. If you don’t have enough fresh flowers, put some artificial flowers into the different arrangements. So, your one bouquet of flowers can go a long way, if you use it smartly.

5. Set your own mood first: I know you are a bit nervous, wondering if the food will be enough, if the house is looking okay or not, perhaps angry with your tailor for messing up your clothes a bit. No one will notice if you keep that blazing smile of yours full on. You were too busy with your job/activities/praying and taravia routine/ daura-e-Quran/ social work. Now, with Eid on one’s head, only one day to go you are wondering where to start. Set the mood of yourself and your home in order. It is time to relax and enjoy it all.

6. Visiting list: Do visit all those family members or friends who lost a family member during last few months. So, this is their first Eid. You can start your visiting session from their home. Also, if there is a person who is alone, because his or her children are abroad, or has some problem, you can invite the person over for lunch. In short, be kind to someone.

7. Gifts: Getting nice gifts for family members with cards is a very good gesture. No matter how much you can afford or be able to do for them, it is the thought that counts. Have nice games, and favorite dishes cooked so everyone feels loved and happy.

8. Sharing joys of Eid: I’m sure you gave new clothes to all your staff, and also to others in your community. Keep things within limits. Do not get pestered by bullying beggars and staff members. Remember, the ones who are silent, may be in greater need.

9. Be kind to your staff: If you are lucky enough to have them with you, plan in such a way, that they are not put through too much stress. Ease the systems in your home. Have self-help table arranged, so everyone just helps themselves. When you go visiting, let them have leave, so they too can go visiting. Lock up the house, put on your alarm system.

10. Texting and phoning loved ones and acquaintances: Try to call your close friends and relatives, if possible. Send a text if it is inevitable. Preparing a special text which you can share them with almost everyone is a good way to manage.

11. No phone: Please give more attention to your loved ones sitting next to you. Put that phone aside, and have eye contact while talking to your friends who have come all the way to meet you, rather than with your phone!

12. Have a blessed Eid: Do say the Eid prayers in the mosque or at home. Make it a special Eid, life is too short to be wasted, sleeping it out. Eid Mubarak!

Note: Photographs by author of house of Haroon and Uzma, and her own home.


Take it easy!

A lot of the toughness in my life is caused by me!

 Seriously, I am my own worst enemy. So many of the things that are driving me crazy weren’t necessary in the first place! I mean I could have achieved my goal with just half the effort!

Why did I over-do it?

Was it worth it?

I learnt this lesson once, when I was in Kuwait and cooking a new dish for a dinner. It took me two days to make all the preparations for a dish with almonds and chicken. Then there was another dish I made called Mexican Chicken – which took just ten to fifteen minutes to cook. Believe me, no one noticed my ‘special’ dish, and everyone went for my Mexican Chicken asking me how I made it, as it looked tasty amazing!

Wow. I learnt my lesson there and then. Out went that recipe from my file, and the Mexican Chicken remained and ended up in my Recipe book, later on.

I guess, it was a simple formula of Physics I had learnt about efficiency: ‘Input is equal to output’. So, if the input is too much, and output isn’t that much, then chuck out the whole project. Be mindful of this, at all times. Your efforts have to be proportional to the output.

It is the same with most things.

But you see there are many aspects to a thing. You have to see if it is worth it or not. Sometimes, some long-drawn-out things are worth it. For instance, it took over twenty years to publish my latest book,- simply because it is important. So, no regrets.

So, the lesson is:

It better be worth it, or chuck it!  


Last year, when I met Fairy in Lahore, she mentioned this. Her mentor told her:

‘One should remain within one’s limitations.’ (The Urdu word is a beautiful one, istata’at.) So, this goes into all facets of one’s life. For instance, when we talk of relationships; most wives are upset with husbands, ‘look at all that I’ve done for you! I did this, I did that, I even went and did so many more things that weren’t my duty, but I still did it. “You didn’t appreciate any of it!” you say, angrily. Well, (wisely,) he keeps quiet.

But he could have said, ‘Sweety, did I ask you????’


No one asks us. We just go out of our way doing things for our loved ones and even the not-so-loved-ones at the workplace etc.. Then we get exhausted, lose temper, feel unappreciated and end up hating everyone.

So, I guess, the point is: do as much as is needed.

Then stop it.

That’s all.

No one asked you to do more, so don’t do it.


If you do, then do it for God’s sake, and don’t expect any ‘reward’ from the person. Allah says in Quran that you should never remind the person whom you have done favors for, about all that you did. Otherwise, it will all go to waste.

The more you think of it, you realize how this approach of overdoing things literally goes into EVERYTHING IN OUR LIVES.

Things, relationships, work and even fun!

So, while doing anything, keeping a sensible ‘limitation’ or ‘scope’ of the relationship/work/play at hand is essential.


For instance: one religious scholar said that only ‘farz’ prayers are needed. The rest we are saying on our own. With the result, other scholars have made praying so complicated that then people end up even leaving out the ‘farz’ prayers.

The price of doing all those extras is too high – this is what we have to realize – so, due to these extras the actual task gets left out.  Just look at it! Is it worth it?

The expenses  of marriages ceremonies are so much, that people keep delaying the function. Though it wouldn’t cost much, if one went for the essentials. My mentor Mahjabeen married off her son within forty days of the death of her own daughter’s death. The situation was such that the son had to go to USA for further studies, and she wanted him to get married and take his bride too with him. So, it was all done in a hurry. She held the Waleema ceremony in her home, it was lunch time. Due to shortage of space, she asked us to ‘eat and leave.’ When I took the salami to her, she asked me to hand it to the bride, without even looking at it. That was it. It was a simple function. No extras, just the essentials. In fact, she didn’t even let the girls’ side give food, she herself arranged the food. She believes the food is for the boys’ side to give to the guests, so it is a Waleema. She applies everything to herself first of all. This is why no one minded, in fact everyone admired her guts for holding a function exactly as she wanted to do, according to the beliefs she herself proclaims. She wholeheartedly invited us through word of mouth, and we happily went along. We felt happy that she had remembered us at this happy time in her life.


The point is: Keep the objective in mind.

(I have a feeling I’m writing this blog for myself more than for you.) Whatever I do, I get carried away. But let me tell you, it is fine to get carried away, if you are doing it as a big ‘thank You’ to the One Above for blessing us so much.

Then it is OK. But let me tell you, He too, only expects within our capabilities. Even He doesn’t demand more from us than what we are easily capable of doing.

So, why go overboard?

It will make life much more bearable all round, if you focus on the important stuff only:

  1. Do what is necessary – stick to the compulsory question first.
  2. Prioritize. That is from an importance, urgency, and value point of view. Start with the most important first, (many urgent things are not so important.)
  3. While doing each task, do the basics and go on to the next point. Instead of getting carried away with the first task and leaving out the others. Give time limitations to each task.
  4. Do keep aside those things to do, which are worth the effort. For instance, one’s writing and other such aspects of life, will stay in this world even after we are gone. So, they are worth it, and should be done as ‘sadqa-e-jariya.’ But then, keep a separate time-slot for creative work.
  5. Do anything extra for God’s sake. But remember, how much He will expect from you? Yes, only what is within your capabilities!

Stay blessed my wonderful Reader. Take it easy, and you will be blessed!

Note: All photographs provided by author. Nataliya has taken four of these photographs.




Last blog of 2017?

Nine days till end of this year!

Don’t you think its been an amazing year? Alhamdolillah. Here is probably my last post of this year…. though I do have my doubts!

Centaurus the favorite Islamabad shopping Mall and Cinepax is decked in seasons’ decor these days.

Thank you so much for your response to my blogs. I’m over whelmed. Even though many of you do not comment, I know you have read these. – Whenever I meet you I find out through your comments, and there are the indicators. I hope that these have made some difference in your lives, as you have made a difference in mine.

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Its Friday again!


“Assalamo Alaikum!” My friend Seema had called. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“I’m celebrating my Friday.” I told her happily. (Meaning: end of week, weekend, fun-time.)

“Celebrating Friday or …..” Her pause made me pause too.

She is one of my very religious friends. Actually she is an authority on it. She spent not only one year in the Al Huda International Academy but also did a four year course which is done by aalimas from a well known Madrassa here in Islamabad.. Now, she teaches in an academy. So, when she pauses… it makes me think.

Yet, at the same time, she is the one with a great sense of humor. She loves and enjoys literature, and loves me too, in spite of all my shortcomings. She is truly a great, loving and caring friend.

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Dealing with too much ‘to do’


(…. you too?)


How do we cope with daily challenges in life? – Of course with our ‘to do’ list!

My mentor Mahjabeen says “You cannot do anything unless you allocate a time and place for it.” Then she adds, “Even if one of them is missing, it will not get done!” That being clear, let’s get on with it….

I’ve seen two types of people:

  1. Those who keep the list short and sweet not allowing anyone to walk into it.
  2. Then there are those making loooonnnnngggg ‘to do’ lists, and allowing everyone to walk into it.

Yes, as you guessed, I’m the second one! But you know, usually I love it. Otherwise, I have an ‘engine burn out’. I know, I’ll miss out on doing some things, but due to ‘priority’ I’ll have the important stuff done.

Hence, I’m always busy. So what? Excuse me, we’ll get plenty of time to rest – when we are ‘resting in peace’. This is our time  to ‘work in peace’.

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Why it is best to avoid arguments.


(The best policy in any relationship: husband and wife, friends, boss and subordinate or any other.)


It is a fact that arguments weaken a team. It is best to avoid it.

Come to think of it. It never takes you anywhere, except to get even further apart. I don’t know why, but that is how it goes.

People who are by habit argumentative like:

“But Why???”

“I think it should be done like this….”

“How do you know?”

And so on. Such questions are very ‘normal’ except when they are uttered just to gain time, or to waste it. When a person has no intent of doing something, he goes into argument.

If you watch any one of those popular talk shows on Pakistan’s television networks, there is nothing but argument going on. The belief is; the more arguments there are, the more the ‘rating’ grows. Hence it is egged on even more. The anchor or one of the ‘plants’ will say such a thing that the conversation gets out of proportion ending in hot arguments.

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Being good at Change Management

awc back yard water

Aren’t my blogs turning into text books? I hope not! I have to be careful, I’ve been an educationist for too many years. My blog on transitional phases in life is actually all about change. One’s ability to do it well revolves around the skill in change management. As they say, the only constant thing in life these days is change!

So, how good are you at it?

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A Dozen Ways to Reverse Mentoring

18010577_1506162479417039_6100731448093770843_n (2).jpg

“You actually take make-up tips from your teenager?” Asked one of my fellow travelers, we were chilling in Ayun, one starry night in Chitral, in 2004.

“Yes.” I said.

“What do they know?” I was asked.

“Well, they do know a lot – considering the fact that they use present day products, a lot better than us.”  I could see they were surprised. Of course, it is not just about make-up but in other matters too.

Later, when I was studying for my EMBA in 2006, there was a small paragraph in one of the books about ‘reverse mentoring’. “Oh, so that’s what it is called?” I thought. Being in the educational field, I’ve learnt a lot from my students. Sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly when that innocent question in class led me to more findings!

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Mind your mind!


I’m talking to all of us smart phone holders. Our minds have been taken over by forwards, quotes, jokes, pics, and what not. Just like our phone starts ‘crashing’ due to so much useless stuff being stuffed into it – our minds do too! Then there are Whats App groups with their barrage of forwards. I agree some are rather nice. But ninety percent are useless and pointless! Groups have been made where no one says anything, except help crash your phone with forwards.


Combine this with our over populated country, with people barging into your space to tell you this that or the other. As some would say “dimagh ki lassi ban jati hai!” (one’s brain is turned into churned buttermilk….)

So, naturally, when you picked the phone to make a call, you end up never making it, because you got diverted.

It happens with me all the time.

So, it is vital to find ways to keep our minds in focus. Use the same phones’ ‘notes’ or ‘calendar’ to jot down all that you need to do for the day. Yes, the ‘to do’ list is more important now than ever before.

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Helping others ….. and the gender issue

While driving home in driving rain.

Just love driving in the rain…. I am going back home after teaching art to twin girls. It is so much fun. While I was busy with the painting work, this morning, my mother sent me a text that we are having my cousin and his family over for lunch. I quickly spoke to my domestic help who assured me he would be able to  manage a proper lunch within a couple of hours. As the class ended, around 12 pm,  I headed home, deciding to forgo the other chores I’d planned to do. So, I can have time with my sweet guests. By now it was raining heavily. This rain is so typical of the flash rains that Islamabad is used to.

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