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.

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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 .”

Shendi wedding – the best option.

Hope it becomes the trend setter.

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There is a vision of mine; Our Pakistani weddings are going to become trend setters all over the world. Especially with the Shendi style of wedding that I witnessed a few days ago. As usual, the food, and everything was  put together in such a beautiful and fairy tale way.

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While it was the typical Pakistani wedding, what I loved most about it was the fact that it was all over and done with, in ONE evening. All the festivities were compressed into one evening of two-and-half-hours.

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Right from the dresses, the décor’ of the marquee, to the delicious food, the valet parking outside, the beautifully decorated hall, the fresh flower bouquets, the chandeliers, everything was tastefully and beautifully done. The hundreds of guests were all dressed in their elegant best.  It was the  complete extravaganza.

Continue reading “Shendi wedding – the best option.”

Dealing with sadness.

Self-therapy tactics
27545523_1838712956161988_6248231872770812769_nAfter I wrote my last article, I found out that my dear friend Shahida Apa met her Maker at 7.am. on 7th of February, 2018. Yesterday, the 8th was the burial. Inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajiun. Indeed, to Him we belong, and to Him we return.

Last night I just couldn’t sleep. A deep sadness was all over me. I wondered how I’ll be able to deal with it?

You know, I  found out she was 91 years old! Can you believe it? She was so amazing, right till the end. I met her at her home just a few days ago. She wasn’t too well, but still able to talk to me in her own loving manner. Such a gem. She was leading such a full life. – Such an active one. That is how I want to be. I suppose everyone would like it that way. But how many of us would go so much out of our way for others? Allah had to call her Home, after all, even Prophets have an end to their times.

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So, I couldn’t sleep last night. She isn’t a relative, but her presence just a couple of houses away, made me feel as if I have someone who cares, nearby. Suddenly, I felt a great void…

Just didn’t feel like doing anything today. So, I thought that after reading my usual sipara, I better go out, knowing I won’t be able to sleep in the afternoon either. Where to go? A bit of exercise would have helped. But I felt it wouldn’t be enough. I needed my ‘sadness therapy’ – getting plants for my lawn. (Otherwise, I’d get flowers for myself.) Recently, I had re-planned my poor destroyed garden.

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Lately, my dog Magic has literally destroyed my whole little garden. All the flowerpots, with plants are a thing of the past. Even the grass is all gone. So, I’ve resigned myself to the situation. (I did try selling him, but it only lasted one day.) I’m saddled with him. He is so aggressive in his love for me, that I have to hide inside while he is outside.

So, now that I was upset, I thought I better get out of the house and execute my latest plan for a ‘low-maintenance lawn.’ I need to see  my favorite nursery for plants and saplings nearby.

27858563_1838713096161974_8145921910073281944_nSo, I got flowerpots of different flowers which I’ll put on top of my boundary wall. I bought  rosemary, iceberg, and several palms’ flowerpots.

I was quite thrilled to find enough rocks for my place and stones. So, finally I got home and have planted these, and placed the flower pots on the wall.  I took help of my staff in placing the palms in such a way outside, that Magic cannot destroy them. As I write, he is sniffing at them, but I’ve put rocks and stones around the flowerpots so he cannot dig into them, (hopefully.) He did taste the leaves too, but then decided he didn’t like them much. Lets hope he continues this way.

Recently, I had noticed that he won’t go for plants which are surrounded with stones. So, I also put some gravel, along with the stone-like chairs.

I guess old Flintstones would be quite happy with it all. After all I’m also living with a wild animal!

Im still trying to grapple with my loss. This morning I sat down and wrote all that I had learnt from being with Shahida Apa. That made me feel better. Somehow, this is the hard part of loving someone. You miss them too much. She certainly taught me how to live a life, though I could never be anywhere near her.

During most of my problems that I’ve faced in life, this has been my  way to deal with misery and sadness. Just go out, and do something to get diverted. Most folks do shopping. Well this is also shopping, but of a different kind. I feel that getting plants is more satisfying and it involves a lot of growth and development.

Calling friends is good but then, you invariably end up talking about the exact things that are upsetting you. Sometimes this helps. Sometimes it has the opposite effect. So, you need to watch out.

It is good to be doing something like cleaning up or getting flowers for yourself or something which needs you to go out and do something. When you are home looking at the plants or flowers, that really helps.

Last night, as I stayed awake, I kept thinking how prepared for death am I?

Hmmmm, how much are we prepared! Lots to do. Well that is another time, another blog. For today, my sadness is better now. Specially, because that dog of mine hasn’t still messed up the plants yet!

As they say, it is better to have loved and lost, rather than not to have loved at all.

Stay blessed, dear Reader. How do you deal with your sadness?

After all, having known such a positive person, one needs to regain one’s equilibrium quickly so one can get back on the road again.

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It is Tax Time, People!

Whats wrong with doing the right thing?

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We want Pakistan to become a developed country, but we don’t want to pay taxes like all people in developed countries do. (Believe me they hate paying taxes too.)

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imagesHey, Pakish people, now is the time to do the tax filing. Start now, before you are running around at the last moment. I really don’t want to go into that crap about “Why should we give tax?” and “Look at what the Government does! (Or does not do…)” and “I refuse to pay taxes to fill pockets of corrupt political parties.” Yes, I’ve heard what you keep saying. But this is what I say:

Continue reading “It is Tax Time, People!”

Power of Kindness….

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This topic has been on my mind for a while. What triggered it was a parcel that arrived for me a few days ago  – that too, during a delicate conversation going on in my lounge – so it was even more welcome. My friends in Lahore, never forget me when they exchange gifts with each other. My gift arrives in my home promptly too. This time, it was from a long-lost relative turned friend. Such a lovely surprise, a designer shirt arriving in my lap! Yes, a real act of kindness, a beautiful way to surprise and make someone very happy. Continue reading “Power of Kindness….”

Why and How of New Year Resolutions…

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A conversation between Me and Myself here, begins with Me saying….

“Why make new year resolutions?”

“Why not?” Asks Myself.

“One never follows it.” Me, again.

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“Ok don’t. But at least there is a record of what you planned, and what didn’t work out. Otherwise, there isn’t any record of your ‘doings’ and ‘not doings’….!” Explains Myself.

“So, I should do it?” That’s Me.

“Yes!”

Continue reading “Why and How of New Year Resolutions…”

Is Silence Golden?

Having been an extrovert and a chatterbox all my life, losing my voice is quite a dilemma. As long as I know it is for a few days, its fine. The funny part is, the moment someone finds out you can’t talk…… they stop talking! Hey, come on, I’ve done monologue conversations many times, but people find it challenging.

Silence.

What is so golden about it? I guess, because you can actually think straight. That is such a discovery. So many writers (including me) write at night. It is not the night. It’s the silence of the night which helps your flow of thoughts.

If you’ve read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or seen the movie with Julia Roberts, you’ll know how the girl goes to an ashram in India. They make her sweep the floors, and remain silent as part of the detoxing process for the body, mind and emotions – all exercises to gain inner peace and happiness.

By the way, what was Buddha doing sitting under the tree? – Enjoying the silence, of course.

It really works.

No wonder, that Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) would go off to the cave of Hira, to spend a few days there. That was where he got his first ‘Wahi’ – message from Allah. Angel Gabrial came to him when he knew he would get his whole attention. I guess, its in silence that one is closest to one’s own innermost thoughts.

It feels great.

I’ve realized, a lot of the havoc in my life is actually caused by me. Without my voice, and speech, there is so much more peace. – even if I have to say it. All that interaction is what makes your own focus distracted. You are too busy talking to others, or listening to their responses, and forget what you have been planning to do.

My father came to me “Get well soon, the whole house seems strange without your voice!” Yes, I’m the one who is busy shaking things up everywhere. None of that can be done without my voice! However, I’ve got my sign language and writing skill and home-management charts, to point at. I’ve started croaking now, my maids said “we are so happy your voice is back…” while I was admonishing them about their cleaning…!

But the timing was such, that I had to realize it was straight from my God. I know it was the relentless stress of so many good things happening in my life too, (I refuse to think of the bad ones!). But it was from Allah. I mean He could have given me a fever instead. No. He gave me the virtue of …. Silence.

I needed to ponder. He saw, there was no other way to make me be silent. So, He did it. I remember He did it several times in History to His chosen prophets and people. Like Zakaria couldn’t speak for three days, when Allah decided to bless him with a child from his old wife. He said, ‘what will I say to people?”  He was to remain silent. Let the events speak for themselves. Well, no child coming to this old lady right now. But you know what I mean.

There are times in life, when silence is your best remedy. I suppose that is why, when a person is in ‘shock’ they can’t speak. Its to grasp an unpredictable situation. To detach from the immediate surrounding and people, to help one focus. Is that why?

I’ve also realized, sometimes, speaking is just a waste of time and energy. (You might not believe it, when you meet me next…) I cannot imagine not speaking when I can. But sometimes it is right to do so. Let things be. Now, let me think in how many ways is silence good….. Lets see:

  1. When one is angry – (which is the hardest thing to do.)
  2. When one is upset. Wait till you sort out your thoughts, then speak!
  3. When in pain.
  4. With mother-in-law, unless you want to praise her.
  5. When speaking about anyone to anyone else.
  6. Giving time to the other person to think…
  7. Giving time to yourself to improve your mood before speaking.
  8. When in grief.
  9. When in deep happiness…. Just absorb that beautiful feeling.
  10. When praying.
  11. Dr. Wyne Dyer (may God bless him in heaven), said that when you are silent, you are with God. Certainly, in silence, your awareness of presence of Allah increases.
  12. Meditation.
  13. When you are silent, ideas come to you.
  14. In silence you understand what is being said to you. Your understanding, grip and comprehension of the topic at hand is sharper.
  15. It is also important to be silent and keep your mind free of thoughts.
  16. Even more important is that when you are thinking in silence, let them be only positive or happy thoughts.
  17. Tell yourself to ‘stop’ the moment the thoughts take a depressing or negative role. If it doesn’t work, get up and change your situation.
  18. When walking in silence outdoors, avoid putting earphones and music or anything ‘on’. Just absorb the sights and sounds of nature.
  19. I guess, I need to stop feeling guilty of being silent in other people’s presence.
  20. Its ok. Like a couple who has been married many years. They fall into silence, as they ‘know’ how and what the other person is feeling or wanting to say.

Stay blessed my dear reader.  Do, tell me what you think of this silence business? Or you plan to be silent about it? 🙂

 

Uncle Murphey

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Its’ all about what is on your mind!

Honestly, life is really something. There is a lot of ‘The Secret’ in it. If you’ve’ read that book you’ll know what I’m just going to say. What is on your mind, and what you really don’t want to happen – will happen. The Murphey’s Law is that what can happen will happen. But if you get very ultra smart and say, I’m going to take a lot of steps so that this won’t ever happen to me ….. ooooopse You’ve tempted fate. Now it will. Also in such a way, that is just the way you didn’t want.

They call it Murphey’s Law. Lets call him uncle Murphey.  “Anything that can happen will happen.” I would like to say “anything that should not happen, will happen!”  There was this time, when I thought I’ll get my hair permed, as I want it to look good all the time! Oh God, did I tempt fate. The parlor lady messed it up so much. That she ensured that I look bad all the time for the next three months!!!

Recently, I got new tenants. I asked the husband, a pilot, why he had moved from such a nice and exclusive block of flats. He said “I’m a pilot and have to sleep well, there was too much noise from the road.” Well, I thought our place is quite peaceful, so it is ok. Though, I told him, “Our family is quite noisy.” He said. “That’s ok.”

The next day, the plot next to our home which had remained empty for last four years, had people coming and measuring parts of it. Next day, machinery arrived and work began. Yes, hell broke loose! Night and day building is going on now…. I am in full sympathy with the couple that has arrived. Yet, I’m helpless. The builders also put all their materials right next to my boundary wall. Where else can they keep it?

In ‘The Secret’, the writer studied many great personalities of the world of all times. The common factor was that they all gave positive vibes and focused on the positive factors. That fate or nature does not understand ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it just goes for whatever is on your mind. What was on my mind was ‘hair’ in my case, or ‘noise’ in the pilot’s case. And so that is what happened!!!

So, be careful what you think. Just think of the positive. ‘I want this….’ Avoid things like I don’t want this, or I cannot stand this, or ‘will not take this.’ – That this is going to get bungled up!- if you know what I mean.

‘acha socho gay, to acha hoga!’ (if you think of good things, then good things will happen)  is the adage that goes….

Look at Pakistan. Everyone is all the time talking about problems, and bad things going on in Pakistan. Though, at the same time, a lot of good things are also happening. Since the focus is on all the bad stuff, so more of that bad stuff is happening! Tv programs are full of talk shows focusing on all the rotten stuff going on. How many talk shows going on about the good stuff? None!

So, dear reader, please try to focus on the positive. That’s why they say ‘count your blessings,’ because when you count your blessings, you think about them. You realize how much good is happening in your life and you are thankful. When you are thankful to Allah, He blesses you even more.

Stay blessed my dear reader.