Take care!

Some well-being tips that have worked for me.

Socializing with loved ones is an integral part of well-being. 

Everyone wants a long life. The best prayer you get from a loved one is for a healthy long life. Well, my 92-year-old father, passed away last month having lived a wonderful life. He lived a life according to his own decisions. With the love of his life: his wife for last sixty two years. So, lets say that Masha Allah, good health runs in the family.

The pattern is set with regular healthy meals, presented in proper way, cooked as fresh as possible. Simple wholesome meals, with fruit at the end – unlike the latest theory.  They had a wholesome amount of fruits. They thanked Allah profusely, at every step. My parents went for long walks when they didn’t have a car, and I was a baby. I’ve never seen them going for long walks, yet they have been very active. Even from a wheelchair, my father kept getting up to take a walk around the house.

As far as I’m concerned, I love a good exercise any time. Not being a morning person, I prefer a later evening walk. Spending the mornings being  active always, doing house chores, or walking as much as possible  at the work place.

Regular walks every evening have been a main feature of my life. I love to connect with nature in all weathers and seasons. In Seattle, I’d walk in the snow, or in the rain which I’ve loved. In Pakistan, in the hot weather around Asr or Maghrib times, (between 4.00 pm to 7 pm in the evenings.)

My Health strategies:

 There are a few strategies I’ve had for dealing with common ailments like cough, cold, fever, headaches, low BP and high BP and upset stomach which have worked.  

 Let me share them with you:

Cold, cough and fever:

Go on ‘high alert’ with the first symptom, which is usually a scratchy throat:

  1. Take a Kestine tablet, before sleeping, (it is an anti-allergy pill with hardly any side-effects. So, you can take any anti-allergy pill you like.) Relax! Have a good sleep that night.

 Ta da! You will wake up fresh. 

  • Just for a few days, avoid cold drinks, sip more warm drinks, especially hot water.

If you are still unwell, then take another tablet in the morning (- and every morning for five days, if necessary.)  

Headaches:

I learnt this one the hard way. When I was expecting my number two kid, Nadiya, I used to have splitting headaches during pregnancy. I didn’t take any tablets, knowing it could harm the baby. But it felt as if a pulse in my head will snap. It was a very difficult pregnancy.

Later on – you will be surprised – I realized that I was to blame for it, not the pregnancy.

All I had to do was:

  1. At the first sign of a headache – stop whatever I was doing, (if I was cooking, just put off the stove.) Then go and lie down. Relax. Stop thinking of any problem. Meditate. Get up after ten minutes, as the headache would be gone by then. If one is at workplace, change the scene, by moving to another room. (Remove the irritant.) Give yourself a cup of tea, nice music, and happy thoughts if you can. It is all in your control.
  2. So, with my next pregnancy, (yes, Waliya!) I executed the above plan, and I was fine.
  3. You do not have to be pregnant to try it. You can do it normally too. We have a habit of ignoring the headache or any problem, and pushing ourselves on with whatever we are doing. All we have to do is to take a short break at the right time.

Weight control:

Throughout my life, my weight has been  normal. This was because the moment I gained a kilo or two, I’d lose it immediately. It is easier to lose a kilo than ten kilos.

Now, I’ve found using the step tracker app in my phone or a Fit Bit really helps. Best number of steps per day are 10,000. But you can slowly increase the number,according to your health condition.

Upset stomach:

I’ve been the queen of this.  When I was a baby, my mom was super careful with me, sterilizing everything. With the result, my resistance is too low. So, food poisoning is something that has happened most of my life. Finally, I’ve almost conquered it:

Take isafghol: 1 teaspoon, honey: 1 teaspoon, yogurt: 4 tablespoons.

Mix them quickly, and have it immediately, before it coagulates. (This is what it will do in your stomach also.) You will be fine within a couple of hours. If your tummy is very bad, then repeat this twice or thrice.  Take plenty of nimkol and have khichri and yogurt for food. You can have normal food too, but preferably,light stuff.

Say ‘no’ to alcohol, cigarettes & drugs:

Enjoy the best in life; here I am with Nigar Nazar going on a Metro ride. She was taking me for breakfast in a hotel in Rawalpindi. Life itself can be the best drug. 😉

Last month,  I took my dad to the  leading homeopathic Pulmonologist (lung specialist) Rehan Uppal . My father was finding it very hard to swallow food.There was too much liquid in his lower lungs which kept rising as he would eat food.

 Dr. Rehan Uppal  asked, ‘Does he smoke?’

I said ‘no’.

‘Has he ever smoked?’

‘Yes, forty five years ago.’

‘Before that, he had smoked sporadically for thirty years.’

‘That’s why!’ he said.

So, even though I’ve loved the idea of smoking but have avoided it. Now, definitely not. Why ruin your body? The same applies to all other forms of addictions.

Indulging in one’s hobbies, and being outdoors is lovely. 

My preventive health tactics:

  1. Have lemonade at least once a day.
  2. Lots of fruit, and salad with every meal.
  3. Green tea,preferably with herbs like rosemary, and a touch of cinnamon.
  4. Hot milk with half a teaspoon of turmeric powder is good. Otherwise, take a bowl of yogurt, sprinkled with 1/2 or ¼ teaspoon turmeric. This takes care of calcium intake.
  5. Flax seeds (1/2 teaspoon) is also good in a glass of water.
  6. Kalongi, the all-time favorite is great first thing in the morning.
  7. Take 3, 5 or 7 almonds daily. (Best would be mixed nuts, including walnuts.)
  8. Have glasses of water between meals, never during a meal. 
Here I am with my two mentors and icons: Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Both are leading full lives in their seventies, and stepping into eighties. 

Life style ‘musts’:

  1. Exercise, in the house, be overly active inside. Be vigilant with five days weekly walks.
  2. Sleep eight hours every night, (making sure you get six hours straight). Thirty minute Siesta in afternoon is good too.  
  3. Spiritual strengthening through regular prayers.  Reading Quran or holy book at least 15 to 20 minutes daily. Meditation.  
  4. Take showers: once or twice a day.
  5. Sunshine: enjoy it, anddo sit in sunshine for at least ten minutes daily.
  6. Happiness: Find an attitude of gratitude to keep you happy. Take care of your feelings as you do about your body.  
  7. Nature: Be close to nature, keeping windows open, bringing in fresh air, walking in parks, keeping plants inside your home, buy flowers, if you can’t grow them.
  8. Natural foods: Choose food items like fruits, fresh juices, vegetables, eggs and lean meats and of course have plenty of water.
  9. Pets, plants and flowers: Pet your pets and talk to them. Have real plants and flowers everywhere in your house.  
  10. Love: Your family members, pets, and people you associate with. Express  your feelings .
  11. Beautiful environment: live in a home surrounded with beauty of décor, thoughts  and lifestyles. It should be comfortable, bright and happy.
  12. Social interaction: Include your friends and family members in your life with love, sharing and caring.
Mansoor Rahi in his eighties, celebrates his birthday with a bang every year. He leads a disciplined life with a regular routine. He is very particular about having more fish and vegetables on a daily basis. He will never indulge in the food we have at parties. 

Do follow Luke Coutinho:  on Instagram and watch his YouTube videos, I’ve referred to his video on cancer, which I found the best one on this subject. He is very much into lifestyle. Totally agree with him.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=luke+coutinho

How I’ve avoided my knee replacement operation:

Many people over fifty tend to have this issue. Here is how I’ve managed to avoid my knee replacement operation for last four years.

Dr. Wyne Dyer also managed to do so. It is more in your mind, and general health care.

 You can do it!

Learn how to relax from cats!

Stay blessed my Reader, 

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. 

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 🙂

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. 

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!

Ending 2018 – starting 2019 !

Loved going to this Mustard field midway between Islamabad and Lahore. 

Hi, Everyone! I’ve grown to love you all so much. What amazing folks you are, in spite of your heavy back-to-back busy days; you give me time. Your Instagram comments make it all worthwhile. Such amazing bloggers as Tamania (Urdu Mom) and Shehzeen, and many others like Anum, have bowled me over. Most of all, I love your comments here on my blog posts. Specially Kiran. Thank you all so much. I was deeply touched, when I saw a  post on New Year’s eve by a follower who remembered me and my family while standing in front of Kaaba. (I loved it when she wrote, ‘shireen, mother of Waliya.) This sight became hazy as tears of gratitude misted my vision.  How much my Allah has blessed me to have such readers and followers! Truly humbled.

Honestly, you all rock!My blog posts are a sharing of our mutual experiences, while living in this world of today. Feeling good that others too are in the same type of boat, and we aren’t alone.  We laugh, we cry, we bond with each other. We share our moments of revelations, our moments of panic and our moments of joy.

Alhamdolillah – and Subhan Allah!

I’m glad the Instagram pictures will give you an idea of all that I’ve been up to. So, I’ll keep it brief here. (If that is possible for me… I’m trying!)

Wedding Season:

December was all about weddings! (And blasting one’s budget.)

I attended three functions in Lahore, hosted by my friend Ayesha and her husband Shahid. It was their son Azeem’s wedding, he has worked in one of the top-most international oil companies, and studied from Harvard. Having known the groom from the time of his birth, it was fun attending the wedding. I stayed with my good friend Riffat and her husband Naim bhai whose hospitality I’ve enjoyed always. His stuffing me with fruit every morning, is always a treat.  Our chit chat is full of humor and fun.

Nikah sermon by Shehzad:

 The nikah ceremony of Azeem and Rehab was great. The sermon itself was the best I’ve heard in my life. The young man Shahzad who has a PhD in study of Quran, from USA, spoke about the relationship between spouses:

I loved capturing this moment between the new husband and wife!

During the sermon, Shahzad mentioned the importance of tolerance, being forgiving, not keeping score, importance of fidelity ( belonging completely to one another,) and being each other’s source of comfort and tranquility as mentioned in verse 21 of Surah Rum.

Then, every few years to ask yourself:

 ‘will she, (or he) marry me now, if she had a choice?’ – wow, that was a big one! I just loved his casual and ‘straight from the heart’ way of speaking which was in Minglish – a combination of English and Urdu.

Loved it. (If I ever marry again, I’d ask him to be there! – just kidding of course!)

 In between the functions in Lahore, I managed to meet my dear friend Fairy, whenever I could. We’d meet late night and afternoons, at her home which is the picture of grace and beauty.

While being very elegant, it is very comfortable. As you plonk yourself comfortably on these sofas, the hosts make you feel as if you are the most important one in the room! My friends and I have so many memories of lovely afternoons and evenings spent in this room. 

Most of all her home reflects her taste. Fairy is the epitome of the ultimate in thoughts and well being. A teacher of Holy Quran at Al Huda for many years, she teaches the complete Holy Quran in Ramzan which is called ‘dawra-e-Quran.’ Also, throughout the year, she teaches on a daily and weekly basis. She is down to earth, loving and very grounded. She, has always been there for me during my down periods of life. May Allah bless her.

I’ll do a full blog post on her home soon. 

Tanveer, my BSc friend, arranged a get-together at her place, so I could meet our mutual friends. There was Yasmin Anwar and Shehla (Tabassum couldn’t make it due to guests). We sat and wondered at how long we all have been friends.

Tanveer and Pervaiz bhai here;  I was there on their wedding, later we all were together in Karachi, when my husband and he became good friends. In fact, my husband taught him how to use computer for his business. So, this time when he learnt from me how to download the Careem app to his phone, I felt a real dejavu. I looked at Tanveer and shared my thoughts with her. 🙂

Parvaiz bhai, went to make tea for me. This has been his tradition right from the time they got married. He (a prominent business man of car’s spare parts in Lahore,) has always prepared amazing tea for me. 

So, later on I managed to meet Tabassum and Saadat bhai also. I wanted to go by Careem, but it was a late foggy night and my friends were apprehensive.

Tabassum and Saadat bhai it was great being with them, and having an impromptu dinner with them. His sister Api gave me her recipe book and pickles. 

I couldn’t understand why can’t they let me go by Careem? I said, ‘But why? Isn’t it great being our age? What’s to fear?’ I had a good laugh. But they didn’t find it funny at all. Riffat sent me with her driver, in her car. Okay, so with Tabassum asking me to teach her how to send her current location link on WhatApp, I explained by sending her pics of each step, till she ‘got it.’ So, I went through the crazy labyrinth of Lahore roads to her home, with Google’s help! (Thank you Google!) There, I asked her to take me to Mum’s oldest friend, living near her home in Kot Lak Pat. So, I met my Aunty Surraya who was present at my parent’s wedding. 

My aunty Surraya Waqar and myself, thrilled to meet each other. 

Ten Golden friendship rules:

We counted the years, and the quality of our friendships, (lasting for over four decades.) We have never had a single fight or misunderstanding.

Actually!

Here’s why:

  1. We have loved and accepted each other as we are.
  2. Just laughed off and enjoyed each other’s idiosyncrasies.
  3. Have always been there for each other.
  4. Never counted how many times who visited whom.
  5. Learnt good values and ideas from each other.
  6. Enjoyed each other’s company.
  7. Understood, if another couldn’t ‘make it’ to a meeting.
  8. Made allowances for each other, no matter what.
  9. Kept each other’s confidential sharing of situations.
  10. Gave gifts to each other, no matter how big or how small.

Directing 101 classes:

Returning back to Islamabad, and dashing off to my Directing class, it was a treat as usual. 

View this post on Instagram

Directing 101 class this evening.

A post shared by Shireen Gheba (@shireengheba) on

 You all know of my Screenwriting 101 classes for beginners written here, which I attended last October. Now, it was the next one on Directing 101 from December 3rd till 27th . . It was another amazing session.  Imagine studying about something where you get ‘homework’ to watch movies! Yes, great.

 We were shown scenes from epic movies, and some unknown ones (for me). The age difference among us students was evident when one of my ‘class fellows’ asked ‘who is Clint Eastwood?’ Of course, they were shocked at my ignorance of several young stars of today! Our class was divided into two,

  • Those who were okay with violence in films.
  • Those who weren’t.

We saw Arsalan’s amazing film on YouTube on the APS students. It gave us goose bumps. Yes, it is one talented group here.Loved being part of it. We all are full of plans. Lets see if anything comes out.

After attending the course, we appreciated our instructor Mian Adnan Ahmed’s work in his film ‘Heal’ even more.

Mansoor Rahi’s birthday on 1st January 2019:

I took this pic from the documentary, really liked it. Just love the way they support each other while pulling each other’s leg too. 

Simply love this couple who is so down to earth, great, full of humor and love. They are so talented, so disciplined in a very nice sort of way, and so focused. They are clear about where they are, and where they want to be.

And…

They are unstoppable.

Mansoor Rahi’s birthday falling on first of January, every year have us all drawn to this function. Why? This is why:

  • We all (his students and friends) are invited for lunch by Mansoor Rahi.
  • He gifts us his paintings. – yes, to every one of us!-  And to his guests.
  • We are given some more of his pearls of wisdom.
  • This year, there were two documentaries shown:, one on Mansoor Rahi and other on Hajra Mansoor.
  • As usual there was delicious lunch of chicken palao, salad and korma,  finished off with gulab jamuns and cake for sweet dish.

It is always Aania who manages the event in her smooth manner. I was asked to host the program, and everyone listens so sweetly, that I feel like going on and on. Ofcourse, we all love hearging from our mentor about why two things are the most important.

Two factors to follow your passion :

Mansoor Rahi has always insisted that we have to take care of two things when we want to follow our passion in life:

  1. Take care of your health:
    1.  Drink plenty of water,
    1. Sleep on time,
    1. Take a healthy diet
    1. Do plenty of exercise daily.
  2. Lead a disciplined life.

He said, ‘I’ve met many artists in my time who left this world prematurely due to not following a balanced life pattern. Excess of drinking, drugs and lack of sleep and proper diet, ended their lives and their output. This is why if you want to make something of your life, make sure you mind these two factors. Only then can you pursue your passion in life.

We all come back home, inspired, satisfied and dying to get to our canvases to start painting again.

Quite a good start to the new year, isn’t it? How was yours?

Do let me know, I’d love to know how your life is going. Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones.  🙂

Car maintenance tips for girls!

Hi my delicate drivers! Most of us  want to drive a car, so let us be responsible for maintaining it too. I’m telling you, it is not that big a deal. Watch the guys … do they repair the car themselves? No, they don’t! Precisely, they get it done.

So, can you!

Here is what you do:

  1. Always go to a recommended place. Get a reference from a good friend..
  2. Be courteous, and not condescending. If you don’t know something, just ask or Google it. There are YouTube videos for every problem under the sun, (and under the bonnet too!) You can ask the person frankly. Also, write down what work he did on your car. Let each experience be a learning experience. 
  3. You can go with someone in your family first, just to get ‘acclimatized.’
  4. I’d suggest, you dress with least make up and accessories, and in grays and browns, so you just blend in with the environment at the workshop. 
  5. Try to get the work done when there is least rush at the workshop (and in your life too!) This time can be coordinated with the workshop owner or mechanic.
  6. Generally, you can get your car service, oil change, tires’ repair or change, and minor repairs done yourself. Most of this work can be done at the petrol stations.
  7. Going to the big workshops of known companies is very easy. I’ve been to Toyota Motors in Karachi, Islamabad and Rawalpindi, they are good. I’m sure it is the same for Honda, Suzuki, Audi, and others. All you do is wait in an air-conditioned room, sip a cup of coffee as you browse through that book you wanted to read.  – Don’t tell me you forgot to bring the book along? Okay, then you can read my blog posts, on your mobile phone, as you wait! 😉
  8. Smaller workshops are fine too:
    Just cut out the ‘air conditioned room’,  so be ready to rough it out. (Even in the heat of summers, and cold of winters – kutch nahi hota! Good for the skin pores.)
  9. You will find the courtesy of the workshop owners is here too. 
    • I’ve got maintenance done by a small workshop owner named Rashid who was also the picture of courtesy. He would come to the home too, to do my car repairs. Also, if I had a car breakdown, he would come over to help wherever I was. So, this was in Dhok Choudhrian, near Safari Villas, Bahria Town, in Rawalpindi.
    • The other was in F-10, a very good denting painting guy, Imran. Later, I heard he had moved to Saudi Arabia.
    • There was Muhammad an expert electrician in F-10 (he is now in Peshawar.) He would even go to my daughter’s college, get the car, then return it after repairing it.
    • Farhan, of Chaudhry UPS shop in F-10, has helped me with all my battery problems, even with UPS at home.
    • I’ve had these young men coming over to my home to repair the car even at eleven pm. Our people are amazing, may Allah bless them.  

I’m not saying, ‘don’t take help from the men in your family,’ just that when they are busy, you can do it too, and not bother them. Frankly, I’d started repairing my car, even when my husband was alive.Since he was an engineer and brilliant at this work, it really tickled him. But as he became very senior in his office, I knew he was getting too busy. I didn’t like using the official drivers to do my car either. (As a writer, I enjoyed doing anything outside the box anyways.)

Warning:

Car maintenance takes time. 

Time spent on repairs will be a lot more than you expected. Do, keep asking, but be prepared for delays. Last time I went, every half hour the guy would say, ‘half hour only!’ – It actually took several ‘half-hours!’ So, cool it! No point in being flustered. You also want the work to be well done. So, take more time than expected, with you. It also makes you realize when the men folk go to get the car done up, why they take so long! Do go in the first half of the day, for car repair work.

Daniyal Waqar’s office in his workshop. 

 You know Daniyal Waqar who is an auto engineer, he had this garage. Now, he has a new garage with his own name called DW Garage, since October 2017. 
It was a very pleasant surprise to meet an educated auto engineer, in his workshop some years ago.

I’ve seen him working there with BMWs, Audie and Mercedes too, and why not? He was the supervisor at Toyota Motors . He has studied about automobiles and has done courses from Dubai, which includes special courses on Audie cars. He is paying special emphasis to the high tech maintenance requirements of the modern cars. He regularly trains his workers about new technology and methods of car repair.

At this young age, he is a young and brilliant entrepreneur with his own business. His workshop is on the road to D-12, after E-11, Islamabad.

I’m not saying, ‘don’t take help from the men in your family,’ just that when they are busy, you can do it too, and not bother them. Frankly, I’d started repairing my car, even when my husband was alive. Since he was an engineer and brilliant at this work, it really tickled him. But as he became very senior in his office, I knew he was getting too busy. I didn’t like using the official drivers to do my car either. Simply because I don’t believe in using government equipment or personnel for one’s personal use. (As a writer, I enjoyed doing anything outside the box anyways.)

December 16th 2018

Did you think of it like this?

This date should make every Pakistani contemplate for a while. Just as we celebrate our good times; a wise nation also ponders over its failures and mishaps. A wise nation learns from its mistakes, and makes sure these are never repeated in living history again.

In today’s world it is enough to be progressive and economically strong.

Let me share with you some things that I really want to share, it was the darkest night of my life:

Flash back to December 16th 1971:

It was the darkest of dark nights, even though, the full moon shown brightly outside. I ran out of the room which was very dimly lit.

These were ‘black out’ nights.

 Appropriately so.

 While sitting inside, it had got unbearable for me to sit and watch the picture of Gen. Yahya on the black-and-white television set. He was announcing the surrender of Pakistan to Indians, in East Pakistan. Tears poured down my face as I rushed outside. I ran in to the shadow of the moonlight, next to a wall. I sat down on the ground, my legs unable to carry me anymore. I lent against the wall and cried my heart out.

From the shadow where I sat, I could see my cousins, coming out of the room calling out for me.

I didn’t answer.

Totally heartbroken, I knew my country had broken into two.  Though a school girl still, the enormity of those moments were too hard to bear.

How could I not feel it? My own father was in East Pakistan.  He was in the throes of it. My maternal grandfather was in Dhaka. The city had been under air attacks for days. My Dad’s younger brother Jafar Khan was in Jesore. My Bengali best friend Naheed Rehman was in Dhaka too.

 There was no communication with anyone.

Were they alive ?

We were living a nightmare….

It took months for my mother and myself to find out finally, that my father and uncle and my grandfather were alive. What we went through those months can only be felt by anyone who has gone through it.

I hope no one ever knows how it feels.

Alhamdolillah, my loved ones made it. But many others didn’t make it through that terrible night.

The night my country broke into two!  December 16th,  1971.

Fast forward 2014, Islamabad, Pakistan.

I’m driving home from my day at the job in Finishing School,  next to Fatima Jinnah Park, Islamabad. I put on the radio as I drive home. A man is talking about something bad that happened to some school boys … I reach home wondering what?

As I put on the television, bit by bit the terrible news keeps trickling in.

Another nightmare is unfolding.

This time:

My heart broke into two. 

Why? Because my heart is in those bodies of young children brutally killed.

Today is December  16th , 2018.

I’ve prepared a blog post to upload, but can’t.

Not today.

Not on December 16th 2018. There is too heavy a load on the hearts and bodies of every Pakistani today.

If this pain isn’t there, then it should be.

Alive nations remember their faults and follies, and learn from them. Otherwise, such things can happen again.

Alhamdolillah, my parents today are living to a ripe age, having given their best years and their loyalty to their land. 

History has a way of repeating itself.

So, what can we do?

Firstly:

Never forget the sacrifices made for us. Many families are still bearing the brunt of those sacrifices. May Allah give strength to the families of the ones affected by the APS tragedy

We can do this:

  1. Become the best version of yourself, to help our country become strong.
  2. Stop arguing and criticizing each other.  (for arguing only weakens a team,) and do our bit to build Pakistan into the strongest economy.
  3. Be the most honest and bravest form of ourselves.
  4. Use all talents and creative ideas for progress and development.
  5. Even if you live abroad, do something for your home country which no one sitting here can do.

I know, you are capable of all these things. Whether you are living abroad or in Pakistan, please do whatever you can to pay homage to the suffering that your forefathers did for this land. We owe this much, to the sufferings of the families of APS students and teachers killed during that ill-fated attack. Let us pray for their strength. Find some way to make this country a developed one. 

Today, I sit here in the winter sunshine, enjoying the fruits of sacrifices of our forefathers. Let us do our bit to leave a legacy for our coming generations too.

I was really happy to know that Alhamdolillah Pakistan is one of the happiest countries in this region,( according to a recent survey.) I’m sure we can make it one of the strongest and most progressive country in the region too.

Stay blessed! Freedom and progress are two priceless commodities. Both come with a price tag. Yes, each one of us has to work hard for it, on a daily basis 🙂

The joy of driving in Pakistan or anywhere else!


My driving back ground:

Start your drive with a well adjusted rear view mirror.

Driving  is a thrill for me. It makes me feel as if I’m having my ‘me time.’ I love being the boss with the steering wheel in my hands! my first car was bought (yes, a Suzuki Mehran of course) from my first savings. (What else can you expect from a teacher and writer?) My husband felt it wasn’t needed as I used to drive our car, while he drove the official car.

My experience of driving all over Pakistan, has been for over thirty five years, by now. So,  I’m qualified to write this post. I’ve driven in most cities, in most conditions, (that includes with small children too,) so I’ve gone through villages, highways, busy roads, and good roads. (Also through storms and  floods!) 

My husband taught me how to drive the manual gear car while we were still ‘engaged’, (that is the best time to learn!) Afterwards, I’ve driven the automatic car for many years. Now, suddenly, I felt like driving the manual gear car again. So, that’s what I’ve got these days.)

My father was an excellent driver and so was my husband. Watching them, it was natural for me to love it too.

Here are my rules for driving:


I’ve wanted to be a good driver always. Getting compliments from my father and others means a lot to me. I believe, it is quite an art. 

Before you start regular driving:

You see, it is important to be confident, and that can only be if you have done your ‘home work’. The ability to concentrate on the driving can only take place if one is in a good state of mind. So do be clear about the following points:

Have a driving license.

Pay the tax on time.

Have a good mechanic on call.

Learn how to change a tire.

Also learn how to check the oil, and if it needs changing.

When you like to drive, you take the responsibilities too; so be prepared to get car serviced and the oil-change done by yourself. Do write the mileage to know about the next time. Do not let them tinker with the original mileage of the car.

I’ve got the repairs done myself whenever possible. (I’ve been spoiled hollow by my garage mechanics and engineers. Daniyal owner of a garage, and an auto engineer, takes my car, does it up, and drops it home.) I’ve written about his garage here, though now he has opened another one next to it.

As far as I’m concerned a good deck is a must. I can’t move without good music!

The rules I follow while driving

  • Read the ‘safar ki dua’ or prayer of travel before starting.
  • Check all the mirrors, and put on the seat belts. Make sure the passengers are properly strapped also, otherwise, refuse to move. You know, their safety is your responsibility.
  • Specially, keep children at the back in a seat, properly strapped. (I followed this, even when it wasn’t compulsory in Pakistan. Why not follow rules of safety? I mean it is stupid!)
  • After that, put on the music.
  • Singing in the car is highly encouraged. 😉
  • No tension talk.
  • No problem-talk either. Relax! Enjoy the drive.
  • Enjoy the view. (Stop looking at the gutters and garbage, look up at the sky, trees – and traffic of course.)
  • I do give way, to those who deserve it. Even to those who don’t. You may be right. – But no need to be ‘dead right!’
  • Always follow all traffic and safety rules.

Use of mobile phone & google map:

  1. It is best to have a system in the car where the phone call can be used on the screen. Have any hands free system. However, whenever you ‘answer’ a call, do tell the person that you are driving, so you keep it short.
  2. However, in the case of any important phone use, do stop your car on the side, and take the call if it can’t be avoided. Otherwise DO NOT USE THE PHONE. Nothing is more important than yours and others’ lives.
  3. No filming or photographs while driving. I have to confess it is very tempting. (I even got a shout from my daughter Nadiya for doing so!) She was right, so I’m never doing it again. No one has the right to put other’s lives in danger, or one’s own. 
  4. Use a mobile stand: If you want to make videos while driving or use the google map then it is best to get a ‘mobile phone stand’ attached to your car’s dashboard, so you can easily do it.

Acts of kindness while driving:  

  •  In case of a bad traffic jam, get out and help untangle traffic jams, instead of sitting and cursing the government!
    • Yes, give a lift, to people carrying heavy packages. Especially old women or men. (I often watched my father do this.) Once, I gave a lift to a man who was obviously in great trouble during a bad storm.
    • Offer to give a lift to people who are obviously in need. (Yet do remember it can be a fraud too!)Listen to your gut feelings.
    • I also give sadqa, to a beggar if it is genuine. Otherwise, try to keep sweets or water or something to eat instead.
    • Give way to a person stuck in middle of road trying to find a way out. (- But do not stop suddenly, of course.)
    • Happily offer to pick or drop friends. 

In case of accident:

Many people don’t drive because they are afraid of having an accident. Well, you can be in one, even if you aren’t driving! So, what will be, will be. But, if you do have an accident, follow these rules. Then get back to driving as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will never get out of this fear of driving again. Remember, setbacks are only opportunities to learn. Nothing else. Here were go:

  •  Generally speaking, you won’t have a problem. Many bystanders will be eager to help. You will find people going out of their way to help you. Occasionally, you will find a nasty creep. Then be prepared to handle such guys too. 
  • Be cool and try to handle it yourself. Call 15 police in all situations.
    • Just drive off, if it is a small brush. Standing and arguing is pointless. After all, it is only your car that is damaged. It can be done up. There are people who do this on purpose to make you stop, then try to kidnap you or steal your car. So, it is best to drive off if you can.
    • If someone else is hurt, take the person to a nearby chemist shop where they usually have first aid facilities. If more serious, do take to hospital.  
    • When the other car is damaged: Give number of your mechanic and offer to pay for any damages to your mechanic. (I’ve done it, it works.)
    • If the person is misbehaving, be quiet. Once a guy took my car keys. So I went up to his car and took his, then came back and locked myself into my car to wait for the police to come. Yes, call the police at once. (Even if it was your fault.) Tell the police if you are to blame, but don’t take any nonsense from anyone. The crowd can be helpful. 
    • Call your husband/brother/ or friend when situation is getting out of hand.


Car repairs and maintenance:

  • In the case when my car got damaged, I had the car repaired myself. Later on in the evening, I’d confess to my husband what had happened, then explain that all the repair work is already done, or in the process. He’d raise his eyebrows, in surprise. 
    • A time came when my mechanic was tried out by hubby dear, and he even liked him. (I had got to know of him through my friend Naila’s driver!)
    • By now, I just sit in the back seat enjoying a cup of tea and reading while the work is getting done.  Of course, I dress very appropriately, and am respectful. I find them very courteous. I also make sure to sit in crowded areas, not in some room inside. The bad weather is no issue. It really doesn’t matter. 

So, driving is no big deal. Just be prepared to follow all security rules, and to rough it out when needed, and enjoy the drive! 🙂 

Note: I’m sharing some pictures from my recent drive to the mountains. Last sunday, I suddenly felt like going for a drive,  so I picked up my friend Naila, and we went to have a cup of tea on the expressway, near  Murree. It was lovely. We came back fully rejuvenated. 🙂