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. 🙂 

November 2018: Happenings and Reflections.

 

Salaams to everyone! Hope you are enjoying this lovely November.  I get very reflective in November. Is it the same with you? What with the year-end nearby and the changing season,  the leaves turning to gold all makes one ponder about life!

After November 20th 2011, my life changed. It happened, when I took my husband to the hospital for a headache. Then my world started falling apart. Fast forwards this November 19th, 2018, I took my father to the same hospital in an unconscious state. I felt this was the end.  But, yesterday, I brought him back fully recovered, I’m so happy. I realized, sometimes we have apprehensions which are baseless.

In hindsight:

Seven years back today, it seemed as if there was no ‘waking up’ from this cold, dark place of earthly hell.’ Somehow, we managed to keep our faith alive, and survived  with the help of our friends and total strangers. You know, all of us need to accept offerings from helping hands. It is vital to remember  Who has sent these hands to help.

All this comes from keeping a hotline with Allah during good times. So, when things fall apart, you two really know each other! (Remember the spirituality part in this one? Yes, the weekly plan.)

Lately, I’ve been deeply pained by two things. One was the suicide of a twenty-two year old girl on  November 28th in Lahore. It is extremely painful. The second one was the burning alive of a Hindu girl by a mob in India, for attending a church. I just cannot get that vision out of my mind. What is even more painful is the mob watching while doing nothing.

Listen to the silent plea for help:

When I learnt about the girl who gave up on life in Lahore,  I wished someone had tried to reach out to her when she openly mentioned taking her life on Facebook. We all need to look up from our phones sometimes, to look into the eyes of each other. Or even when looking at the phone, to read that plea and do something about it.

I’ve read books on suicide. (I did it when a student had made an attempt. )I learnt that the person says such things casually. It is a silent plea for help. Please take such remarks seriously. Do whatever you can. I’ve specially written this blog post on suicide, and this one on depression which usually leads to it.

You have the power to save lives. Use it.

My father got admitted in hospital again:

On 19th Novemeber  Hasnain (my domestic help), urgently called me, my father was seriously  unwell. I dashed to his room to find him unconscious. Immediately, I drove my father to PAF Hospital nearby. As I was parking the car, my daughter Waliya went in with my father, to the Emergency. By the time I reached the Emergency room, my father was already in bed, connected to the devices indicating his condition. His BP was 77/40. They admitted him in ICU within a couple of hours, and after two days, he was moved to a room.

As I write, he is back home after nine days in hospital. He is mentally and physically  so much better . He was saying to me, ‘I don’t know how to thank you, I have no words….’ I smiled and thanked Him, who had given him another life, (once again.) Specially, I must say the PAF Hospital is very good. Here, you see my parents meeting when he returned. 🙂

I’m also grateful for the help of my two doctors; Dr. Mehmood, a gastroenterologist and Medical specialist at Ali Medical Clinic, and Dr. Fayaz Bangash the urologist at Quaid-e-Azam Hospital, who monitors my father’s UTI.

Shahnaz Jafar’s paintings exhibition:

 

On 17th and 18th of November, there was an exhibition of water-color paintings by Shahnaz Jafar and wood craft art works by Saleema Hasan. It was held in their family home in Islamabad’s F-6/3 area. The exhibition was exclusive, and by invitation only. The informal display of art works was attractive.

The water colors by Shahnaz, showed charming aspects of old Rawalpindi city. There are parts of the city, which are still alive with their old charm. Shahnaz has immortalized scenes of inner city. The hustle bustle, the people living there is charming. The intricate details are done with great skill.

Knowing how busy Shahnaz is in real life, the work reflects not only her skill in water colors, but the skill of time management as well. How she manages to do all this work in spite of her busy schedule shows how well she balances life and her passion for art. A skill we all need to learn. We all need to make time to do what we love within this life..

Saleema is a young girl and niece of Shahnaz who is a keen photographer and

 

her work is refreshing. The love for her country and its woodcraft is evident in her work. Really liked her innovative style.

 

The young Entrepreneur named Habib:

My meeting with Habib two years ago was interesting enough. We had met when he and his beggar friends were after me, while I was parking my car in front of D-Watson shop. I had gone to get urine bags for my dad who wasn’t well. I wanted the ones, which can get attached to the leg, plus some other medications.

As I got out of my car, I realized that I’d left my purse in the bank which I had visited earlier. I was standing talking to Hasnain, to get it from the bank. I knew I’d have to go home now to get my wallet. These boys were listening. Do you know, they actually gave me their days’ earnings! All of it. And, do you know, I actually took it too! (I’d return it later, due to the urgency, I accepted their help.)  I took Habib’s mobile number and went to the shop. I found out these weren’t available, so, I returned their money.

During this process, Habib told me he is seventeen years old, washes cars for people, and is going to get married to a girl. I told him he is too young. He said that her father has remarried and the step mother is very cruel. So, he is going to get her out of her situation.

He would call and stayed in touch; I knew when he married, and when his first child arrived. Whenever I could, I’d help him. Last week he invited me to the ‘opening of his shop’.  So, I decided to go.

His pregnant wife, and his cute child were there with him. It was a pleasure meeting them. As you can see I’m munching a ‘ras gulla’ from the box of sweets which he had got for me.  His ‘shop’ was a make shift ‘room’, in his house. He is planning to support himself and his little family through it.

Sometimes, It is good to have such reality check meetings.

Happy Blessed Friday:

We all know it was Black Friday. I think for the first time I enjoyed it. I’ve never been a person for sales or shopping. It has always intrigued me why people go crazy about it. Waliya, my daughter and I managed to squeeze in two sessions in Centaurus, the most popular Mall in Islamabad. I realized I need to shop like this:

  • Be VERY CLEAR about what I want.
  • Buy the most expensive stuff, which you normally can’t afford.
  • Time it well. Stay focused and don’t overdo it.

Screen writing group meet up:

Now, I’m getting interested in screenwriting and directing too. The other day, Faheem Azam, had a mentoring session in my home. He  is the one who wrote the first eight episodes’ scripts for Teeli . It was a very informative session and we received an offer for future mentoring by him too. He gave us a glimpse of the world of script writing, and how it works.

Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones. Life can be great, and the show must go one. 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2uomqCdOH0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress Conferences, Birthdays and More!.

Just so grateful for these happy moments of joy.

When I’m getting involved with ‘lots to do’, I just fast-forward myself by asking, ‘How will I feel afterwards?’ If my answer  is: ‘Yes’. Then I just go ahead with it.

I know I can squeeze most of the activities; The trick lies, in delegating, and prioritizing of course. Remembering too that special occasions are for enjoyment and relaxation and not to get exhausted with. So, I’ve found that keeping things short and to the point works well.

Lots went on in the last few days:

  • My mother’s 84th birthday on November 7th, 2018.
  • Work in progress on next book: Message from the East on Friday, 9th of November.
  • Celebrating Allama Iqbal’s birthday at Shireen’s Studio, (on 10th)
  • Attending Word Camp by WordPress on 10th, also.
  • Brunch at my place on Sunday morning on 11th with a wonderful writer and relative.
  • Behbud Meena Bazaar, on Sunday, the 11th.

My mother’s 84th  birthday on November 7th.

So, I managed to take her for an outing, and we had a nice time. She loves chrysanthemums so I got her a bouquet of those along with the perfume and suits. She is such a gem. So patient and so loving always. Here are the pictures that Waliya took of us:

Progress on Iqbal’s book and the First World War:

Naila my friend and co-editor had time on Friday, so we sat in her drawing room and worked four hours straight on the book. As usual, it was awesome. There are moments during our editing when we get quite overwhelmed. We can’t help going all gaga over it. The most appropriate one I found was something I’d love to share with you. It is directly connected to the First World War, which had just ended five years before this book. The book was originally published in 1923.

The West is remembering its’ dead in the First World War. It is now exactly one hundred years since the end of the First World War.  I want to share this poem by Iqbal written almost a hundred years ago, with you. (You can feel the remnants of this horrific war in this poem.)

The Wisdom of the West

The story goes that In Iran

A worthy man, Intelligent and wise,

Died, suffering great agonies,

Departing with a heart Full of distress and smart,

He went up to God’s throne

And said:” God, I am one

Grieved at the way that I

Was made to die.

Your Angel of Death is

Supposed to be a specialist,

And yet he has no expertise,

No knowledge of the new skills that exist

In the fine art of killing.

He Kills, but does it so clumsily.

The world is going rapidly ahead.

But his growth has stopped dead.

The west develops wonderful new skills

In this as in so many other fields.

Fine are the ways it kills,

And great are its skill’s yields.

It has encompassed even thought with death.

Death is all its philosophies’ life-breath:

It is what all its sciences devise.

Its submarines are crocodiles,

With all their predatory wiles.

Its bombers rain destruction from the skies.

Its gases so obscure the sky

They blind the sun’s world-seeing eye.

Its guns deal death so fast

The Angel of Death stands aghast,

Quite out of breath In coping with this rate of death.

Dispatch this old fool to the West

To learn the art of killing fast – and best.

Iqbals’ birthday:

Allama Iqbal was born on November 9th 1877  and he died on 21st April 1938. His poetry isn’t one of those easy poems, yet his ideas are so powerful, that almost everyone gets very emotional while talking about his work. The small gathering at Shireen’s Studio on tenth evening was to remember his work, and his contributions to our lives today.

Sarmad Sarosh who is a producer at PTV World, was there with his narration of Aik Arzoo which he had already shared in our WhatsApp group in a voice recording. He is so fluent in Urdu, so on our insistence he read out another beautiful poem Tasweer-e-dard by Iqbal for us. Adnan Ahmad sang two of Iqbal’s poems, which felt really great. Col. Abrar had brought his paper on a comparison of Nietzsche with Iqbal, which he read out for us. He had written it for his presentation in Staff College, (the prestigious army institution in Quetta.)

It was a wonderful discussion that followed, and we came to the conclusion that more of such events need to take place. More people who do not understand Iqbal should attend these events, only then will they get to know what his work is all about!

I wondered how to make such events more interesting for the youth? Anyhow, I had prepared extra yummy snacks for the event. Everyone felt that I should cut the cake, I had decorated the area with balloons (which were there from Mum’s birthday. 😉 )  So, we enjoyed the haleem, pakoras, sandwiches, and cake with tea.

Col. Abrar said, ‘Today, I’m sure Allama Iqbal would be very happy to see that he is being remembered so fondly.’

WordPress Word Camp in Islamabad and Seattle:

Can you believe it? There I was, wanting to attend the conference in Seattle, and here I was attending it on the same day in Islamabad! November 10th, 2018. Not surprising, as I found out that WordPress now holds 32% of world’s web users. So, they are having such events all over the world.

The future certainly holds more expansion. The sooner you join in the better for you all.

The conference in Bahria College, Islamabad was interactive and informative. It was also informal and welcoming. Due to the event at my place, I couldn’t attend the whole of it. I found it very interesting, informative and opened my eyes to how much I can achieve through it.

As a writer, I’ve been wondering what I’m doing here. Blogging twice a week for free. Yet, writing is my passion.  That is all I’ve done for a major part of my life. Writing for leading dailies of the country has been very satisfying. WordPress has opened a whole new world for me.

Why I love WordPress:

  1. I specially love the latest corrective guidance that I get while writing a post. How I’m informed about the ‘readability’ whether it is ‘good’ or ‘ok’. I love responding to its’ corrective information. Previously, while writing for newspapers and magazines, once the article got printed, one naturally couldn’t add or subtract anything. Here you can.  I just LOVE it.
  2. Added to this, are the ads which shall hopefully be re-reimbursing my efforts.
  3. It is so much fun to be able to tell anyone anywhere in the world to look up such and such blog post of mine, for details on a particular topic. It has global presence and access.

   Frankly, my readers’ responses, comments, likes are enough reward for me. Many of my readers do nothing here, but when I meet them, they tell me how  keenly they read my blog posts. Some send me messages through my daughters living across the world. One of them even got me out of my high cholesterol count, (by sharing a tip on taking a teaspoon of isafghol with honey in a glass of water, first thing in the morning.) Others, warned me against going to places alone. Which was very right. I love it all.

The love, care and sharing of information and trust. What a beautiful smaller world we are in now, my daughter Nadiya attended their conference in Halifax in Canada, and on 11th Novemeber she also attended it in Seattle. (I’m sharing some pictures of the Seattle Conference here, taken by her and Nataliya.)

In the Islamabad conference I was shown that it is the ideal forum for introducing and sharing the products that my Studio offers. These  include the original paintings and books. In the pipeline I have many things which shall be a nice surprise for my readers and visitors to my website.

During the question answer session when I remarked that I’m attending this conference while two of my daughters are attending the one in Seattle, I received a resounding applause!

Suggestions for next WordPress Conference in Islamabad:

Next time, I definitely plan to attend the whole of the day. It is hoped that different halls would be available, and one would be able to choose which topics to attend. I am naturally more interested in the ‘content’ rather than the technical dynamics of it. Yet, my web developer and technical adviser Muhammad Asif, I’m sure would want to attend the technical side of WordPress. I had to dash back to my Studio where I was in time to receive my guests for the Iqbal Day event there.

Early next morning I was having some wonderful guests, Sabahat and her daughter Burqa for brunch. Don’t worry, my cook had already cooked delicious food for them: Haleem, carrot halwa, potatoe bhujia and keema. My domestic help and ‘savior’ Hasnain had everything in control as usual. God bless him. Haroon and Uzma were the cherry on the top when they joined in from their own ‘breakfast out’ and so our group was complete. Always love to spend my weekends with Haroon and Uzma who are now more of my closest friends. The moment I saw off Sabahat who was off to her home town near Faisalabad, Waliya and I went off to the Meena Bazaar.

Behbud Meena Bazaar:

As you might have gathered, I’m not much of a shopper. However, I went to complete my daily step count in my phone’s app. Also, to get something from Asif bhai’s Khaddiyan stall. He brings this handmade cloth with hand embroideries from his shop in Bahawalpur. The handmade sweaters were a disappointment, or perhaps the best ones had got sold. Usually, I love getting gifts from them. Overall, Behbud does everything for under-privileged women and children and that is what matters the most.

The entry fees of Rs.200 per adult was a heavy one. I wondered how much they had earned just from that. Since it was all in a good cause, so one didn’t mind.  On return, I asked my staff to go and enjoy the funfair, while I stayed home to take care of my parents. After all my staff deserves an outing too. (Yes, I’ve bought them a motorbike so they can go out to do small chores or for outings too!)

So, dears, I returned to rest in peace. No I didn’t die. Just relaxed and dozed all evening. Spent an easy evening with my parents and watched television.

So this was my weekend – absolutely awesome – how was yours? Stay blessed lovely and handsome ones!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words, Deeds and Trees…

This blog post is almost a continuation of my last blog post Ijaz Ahmed Khan – comparing a good word with a good tree.. Thinking it would be too long for you all, I decided to break them up into two. So, here it is, I know I’m late by a few minutes, but you know how life is these days! Yes, a bit crazy. But, here I am!

Now you know why, I chose this location of B 17 for our saplings, because firstly, the saplings would be well taken care of, and specially it would be in memory of a person, whom I got too late to thank, in real life. So, please do say a prayer for Ijaz Khan, and do not ever take so long in going out of your way to thank those who went out of their way to make life easier for you!

Continue reading “Words, Deeds and Trees…”

Is My Life Meaningful?

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What is life? Is it just this noise of the daily rushing around? Completing the ‘things to do’ list? Meeting deadlines, going from one rushy hour to the next? Always, counting to see if one can make ends meet, or get that little bit of extra too? Loving food, dresses, make up, handbags, car, house and still shopping for more? Putting it all on Facebook, Instagram or Tweeting it all over the world.

Is this life?

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Or is life something more?

What gives meaning to one’s life? What makes you feel that eureka moment, when you say,

‘yes, it is all worth it!’

Continue reading “Is My Life Meaningful?”

Election Day, 2018

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My voting experience today.

Under slept, tired and highly motivated, my daughter and I drove off to Rawalpindi to vote this morning.  I knew the drive would take an hour. Weather is hot and humid these days, so we wanted to be there much earlier. But I had to bathe and change my eighty-three-year-old mother, as the helper wasn’t coming today, due to her own voting.  In fact towards the end of the bathing session half-way through the changing, I had to call Waliya, as I found standing in that humid wash room difficult; she came to complete dressing her up.

My friends had called up last night, I hadn’t been able to sleep till past three thirty last night. Now, I wondered how I’d manage standing in the humidity for the voting process!

So, naturally it was 11.00 am by the time we reached the polling station. It was the same one, where we had gone last time. Elections and Life Dichotomies . The street was dirty and narrow as ever, but the air of elections in the air was great. People were patiently walking towards it and there was peace and determination in the air. Finding the place had been difficult, (you forget a place after five years!) We checked our phones, sent sms to 8300 and confirmed that our polling station was located in Ali Trust School, in Dhok Chaudhrian, D Block; NA 59, PP 13. It was  (Near Bahria Town, Safari Villas, next to the famous ‘car chowk.’)

The army personnel were at the entrance with their rifles and guns, making us feel very secure. The staff was welcoming and very accommodating. As I went to stand at the end of the ladies line, and wished the burqa-clad young girl before me, she showed me a chit and asked,

‘do you have it?’

I was blank.

She pointed towards the entrance saying ‘you’ll have to go out again and get it.’

Oops!

So, I collected Waliya who had gone to the car to place our mobile phones there, (we had to leave these in the car as it is against the law to keep it with you.) So, we walked over to the authorized place where there was a gentleman at a desk, who would find out details through his phone about our voting number to verify the code and CNIC number. All the details of my voting number and polling station allocation were verified here and we received our chits. This was done within a few minutes. Then we hurriedly we walked back. Naturally, now our place was taken up by at least fifteen other ladies!

I waved at the young girl who had told me about the chit. She waved back. Everyone was patiently standing in the open sunlit area of the school. It was the same place as last time. Now, it was quite presentable. All spruced up. Nicely painted, with verses of Iqbal painted over the off-white walls. Suddenly, someone came to ask about our voting number, she took us way ahead, towards another room.

Wow! That felt good.

Suddenly, we were standing in the shade of the veranda. The other ladies too were asked to move forward towards another room. So, now we were closer to the ‘destination’ or vote casting room. The heat was bad, but cold water was provided nearby. I had brought my bottle of lemonade which I’d sip every little while.  We all smiled at each other, and wondered how long it would take. We watched with amusement as a woman nearby lost her temper and was angry with those around her. It turned out, she had already voted, but hated being asked to leave. She was saying, ‘I’ll leave when I choose to leave!’ At least that is what I was told was the problem!

I was reminded of something Major Zafar had mentioned to me many years ago. When, I asked him, ‘What is your advice to a person going on Haj?’ He answered, ‘Be patient, forgive everyone and remember the objective.’ I realized this is the best advice while going for voting in Pakistan also!

We kept standing there for over an hour, almost without budging. I said, ‘Hey this is again a repeat of last time!’ But the men’s lines were so long and they were standing in the sun mostly. I had seen the line going way out of the station also. The army men were seen everywhere, with their ammunition.

Peace.

So, again I went over into the men’s section to speak to the man in charge. Again, the men courteously, moved aside to make room for me. His name was Anwar, so I went up to him. He said, ‘I have already made a change by accommodating ladies so they won’t stand in the sun. I cannot do more than this.’ I requested him to find some way to make the process as quick as possible. He promised to do whatever he can. He told me that 1700 women are registered at this polling station, so it won’t take very long. I agreed.

So, I went back. That girl in the burqa was in front of me again now, she offered to let me go before her, I said, ‘nothing doing! It must be so much hotter for you, so please do go ahead. Then I heard that  a lady had been there since 8,00 am and somehow she was standing behind me, so we asked her to go before us.

So, in this way, we all accommodated others.

There were one lady whose brother had died today, and another who had lost a child. Yet, they were here to vote! We all agreed to let these ladies go first. Meanwhile, Waliya got me some cold water so I could splash it over my face and arms, so I’d cool down and not faint.

Finally, our turns came. As we were going through the process, I could see my picture was also in their list as were those of others. The women conscientiously checked the CNIC numbers and tallied them with their own data. The mark was made on thumb and the finger prints placed in relevant places. I heard Waliya offer an elderly lady her place, as I walked behind the shielded place where I could actually cast my vote.

547479-image-1368264751-527-640x480There was one white paper and one green one, to be placed in one white box and one green box. It turned out we were voting for the National and Provincial Assemblies! This is what happens when you don’t follow the local news regularly.

Anyhow, soon we were out, and driving back on the almost empty highway. Feeling really pleased that we had done our bit at least.

So, here are some points for us voters:

  1. Next time go to the Election Commission office well in time, to get my polling station’s location changed to one nearer to my home.

Firstly, I want to applaud the management for holding very peaceful elections. The staff was excellent and very supportive and helpful. The process, could be quicker perhaps?

Here are some points for the management:

  1. The desk for that ‘chit’ with details could be placed within the premises of the polling station, so we could get it as we entered the gate.
  2. Computerization of the data of the voters, instead of being manual, so the work could get done quicker. The lady had to look through the data to find one’s number.
  3. The steps need to be done quicker. It did take much more than three minutes per person in the room. It should be done within a minute or so.
  4. More comfortable environment for the voters standing outside. For instance a shade or ‘shamiyana’ could have been put up for those men or women standing outside.
  5. Some personnel kept outside to take care of the cars, if possible?

Otherwise, I’d say, a big ‘hats off’ to the management of the Election commission who definitely did a great job today.

Now, I pray that the result is taken with grace and tolerance.

 Things are definitely improving.  We are blessed to have the voting process rolling in our country.

green lake surrounded by mountain

 

 

 

 

 

Elections and Life Dichotomies .

37246852_2046666028700012_4540511821852835840_n.jpgIn this blog I quickly take you through the past weeks’ events right into the election fever. Now it is Wednesday 18th July, 2018 , late evening. As usual so much is going on, in the international world and within the country.  On top of it all that, there is one’s personal life. Many times we are happy and sad at the same time.

Yes, life’s dichotomies!

For instance, as I prayed anxiously every night for the safe rescue, of the group of thirteen who got stuck in Thailand’caves.  I forgot  the death and danger of the hundred plus people who died from freak storms nearby in Japan. This is what media does, in the Thai case, we knew more about the boys, so one felt more connected. Whereas in the Japan case, there wasn’t much information or details of the persons living there. Such tragedies are sad. One hardly was over joyed at the successful and miraculous rescue of the young Thai group, along with its coach; when one was shocked at the suicide attack which killed over one hundred in Mastoong, Baluchistan Pakistan. That was after a couple of blasts in KPK. So, this is the environment in which I am now.

In fact, we all live in it all the time.

Continue reading “Elections and Life Dichotomies .”

Great Rules to live by!

I know, because I’ve tried them out for many decades.

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As a teenager, in Lahore, the word ‘ADVENTURE’ was painted on newspapers pasted on one side wall of my bedroom. An only child, I had a childhood filled with Enid Blyton books. I was raised with plenty of routine and discipline by my parents. As a grown up, while realizing routine is essential, I wanted excitements almost on a daily basis. I got plenty of it, married to my cousin, an aero-space engineer in Pakistan Air Force. So, I’ve painted, written books, and been an educationist in schools in different cities in Pakistan. A mother of three girls, and over twenty house-moves, gave me plenty to write about while freelancing in different cities. Of course, as a family we faced our share of setbacks too. But we’ve managed to get out of them too, just like you.

What are the strategies in life that help you stay in one piece most of the time?

In spite of lots of people saying ‘honestly, it is very difficult to be honest!’ In life, that is all that really helps. At least one can try. Here is how I’ve somehow managed so far:

Continue reading “Great Rules to live by!”

Rain water control, tree plantation, elections and my life.

July 2018 thoughts…

I guess, I better accept that real life isn’t so streamlined. Half the year is over, I’m already  behind schedule on lots of things. But then, I’ve also done a lot of things which were not in the ‘schedule’ but far more important; like engagement of my youngest daughter Waliya. Giving time to my second daughter Nadiya, who was leaving the country, moving for Canada. Also, to help get gifts for poor children studying in CSS school, and specially taking care of my elderly parents. So, I guess it is okay.

In July, we need to re-align ourselves to our primary goals.

Right now, in July here are the most important issues. I know you have a busy life too. But these matters mentioned below won’t take more than two days each! So, do look it up very seriously. Please read it while thinking ‘how can I do it?’ Just as I’m thinking the same while writing it:

  1. Rain water control at domestic and community level, during monsoon.
  2. Tree plantation.
  3. Elections.
  4. My life these days.

Continue reading “Rain water control, tree plantation, elections and my life.”