Over three trimesters of life.


 Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Ever since Prime minister Mahatir became the head of state of Malasia, I’ve been pondering. I mean, he is ninety three years old, and is elected as prime minister for four years? Till the age of ninety seven? (He was born in 1925!) 

Here is a man who has completed three trimesters of life and now starting out as a prime minister?! He is on to his 90-plus years already – along with his wife. He isn’t existing , he is living it out! 

I’m wondering if it can be like the nine lives of a cat?  With each ‘life’ a decade?

All my life I’ve been reading books and taking support and guidance on many topics including ages and stages of one’s own and children’s ages. I noticed that there is  a lot of  guidance and support in early stages and adulthood. Later on, we are left on our own.

First trimester of life – 1 to 30 years:

One to ten years:

Each and every month and year has loads of books written on every stage of these ages.

Ten to twenty years:

Lots of books and videos would be around for how to care for teenagers, and their social, emotional and physical needs.

Twenty to thirty years:

This one is considered to be the peak of life, and has a great deal about becoming an adult. There are many books on how to take care of yourself, and your body. Your social, emotional life is also dealt with, and specially finding the right life partner. All data is freely available. All fiction, movies, and videos are full of this prime time of life.  (As if no other life is really worth having, or worth documenting!)

Second Trimester of life – 30 to 60 years

Mixed ages here!

Thirty to forty years:

Most of us dread turning thirty. As if it is the end of youth or something. Once over the tip of 29 into 30 years, one realizes it isn’t bad at all. The starting years of career, ending of education and specialization in fields of interest, and the growing family are all well documented in books. You still feel great. You feel physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually fine, actually, quite on top of the world!  (I discovered I could write in my early thirties.)

Forty to fifty years:

Bilal on the right turned forty, and has worked in Microsoft. Loves music, books and inventing. 

Suddenly, with a bang you are forty!That is quite shattering, but then, you again realize it isn’t bad at all. All that ‘propaganda’ wasn’t correct. Forties can be pretty cool too. You are beginning to get a bit of a paunch, but never mind! You’ve most probably found your life partner and are well adjusted in career and children who are well settled in schools. Life is really good. You are getting to middle and senior posts in your job scene. Yes, books are getting fewer now. More books are there about illnesses and ‘how to reduce’.

Fifty to sixty years:

Every decade of life you enter with apprehensions, as it is a ‘no-mans-land’ with few well known personalities to help you through them. Thanks to internet, now we know ages of most actors and we know Ellen, Opera Winfrey, Bushra Ansari, Saba Hameed, Humayun Saeed, ShahRukh, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and many others are in this range too. Look at them, they are amazing!

Mostly, one is at the peak of one’s career at this time of life!

Third trimester of life – 60 to 90 years.

Now, its beginning to get scary, isn’t it? All those folds cannot be hidden anymore. You realize, you’ve got to move those muscles or else! Either ‘move it, or lose it!’ So, stay active and do everything that you’ve always wanted to do now. 

Sixty to seventy years:

I’ve known of Kentucky chicken guy who began his first franchise at the age of sixty two years. I’ve known of a publisher beginning her business at sixty five. Also of an artist who began painting at this age, and continued till she was over a hundred. Sixty has been the ‘retirement’ age too. You turn senior too. If it gets you to the front of the queue, then its okay! Also, it means you can be your own boss now on. 

Seventy to eighty years:

Mansoor Rahi and myself the instructor at the studio. He is a living legend in the field of art today in Pakistan. 
Hajra Mansoor and myself in her art gallery and studio. 

My mentors Hajra and Mansoor Rahi are in this age group. Both are blooming with good health. They are living legends in the art scene of Pakistan, and live in Islamabad. They are living in their own home, running their own art business, travelling abroad and within the country. They regularly hold exhibitions and hold art classes twice a week. They have a daily routine of working on their art work from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm daily. I find them going for walks, drives, traveling, and leading an active successful life. Only last week they went over a thousand kilometers by train to Karachi, for an art exhibition with their students. 

Eighty to ninety years:

My mentor Shahida Azeem, a great philanthropist lived to eighty-eight years of age, working on her organization Mashal, for the under privileged children. I’ve written about her in this blog post. She walked independently right till the end. In fact, I could hardly keep up with her activities. All the time she was organizing private or Mashal functions and inviting me over. I’d often have to excuse myself from her programs. (So, she would send me my share of food, if it was a dinner at her place.) She was just lovely. 

There are no books to help one through these years, today. You are on your own.

Ninety years onwards to hundred!

My father literally walked out of the ICU last month. 

As I write this blog post, and reach this point in my writing, I want to share these current personalities:

  • We all know of Dr. Mahatir Mohammad (ninety-three years old,) the current prime minister of Malaysia, and his ninety-one year old wife.  He recently took office, so he is looking forward to taking care of his country for four years at least.
  • Then there is this 106 year old blogger in Sweden who lives alone and takes care of herself.
  • I know a Ninety-five year old lady who lives alone in F-10 Islamabad. She invited me to tea with her literary friends. Loved it. She has a staff who takes care of her, a driver who drives here around too. She moves around with the help of her walker.
  • My own father was driving around till age eighty-seven years, here in Islamabad.  
  • Ninety-eight years old yoga instructor:

Just remember, all these are persons who did what they wanted to do. They stayed involved with activities and kept their minds (and bodies) active in constructive ventures.

Now, get ready to make your new-year resolutions, keeping all this in mind. Plan out your life like the nine lives of a cat! Lots of love and best wishes to all of you, my amazing readers. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you!

Truth about Lies

The journey from lies to truth.

How do you feel when someone lies to you? How do you feel about that person? Yes, awful. You dislike that person!

Next question: how can you do your business like this? (Is it halal if your income is gained through lies?)

Why do we trust people abroad, more than Pakistanis? Why is online shopping in Pakistan today, nowhere near what it is in the rest of the world? Yes, because here people lie a lot. You cannot trust a person or nation that lies. So, lies and cheating go together, just as Truth and Trust do.

Continue reading “Truth about Lies”

My Work life balance

How I became an artist, educationist, and writer.

 

In this post I’m showing you how I did the ‘work-life balance’. My childhood was fully inclined towards art. My parents didn’t let me go to NCA for its ‘open’ environment, and my mother put me in College of Home Economics. I was the typical daughter who studied there, on the promise that I’ll go to NCA, after graduating. That didn’t materialize. I ended up with an MSc degree in Related Arts, and got married to a PAF aerospace engineer.

 

Do a job which you love:

As far as my husband was concerned, he left it to me to decide whether I wanted to work or not. So, I did a job when I was in a position to give it my best, and didn’t do it when my family commitments were more. I believe that when you do a job, and it should be what you love. Only then can your work can be good.  Also, one shouldn’t work when you are already under pressure when the children are too small, or any other reason. So, when my children became school going, I’d work only if I liked the job. Believe me, when you are going for that interview, it is not  only them sizing you up, it is you  sizing them up too! It has got to be a mutually beneficial situation, otherwise, it isn’t worth it.

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Monthly Plans inspired by Iqbal.

How to achieve our monthly goals.

Somehow, I know that you have a talent, or an objective in life. If you do, then you have to give it time and space in your life too. On an important day like Iqbal day,  I am choosing to write on the subject of Monthly Plans. It is all about achievements. We can see the achievement scale of Iqbal and many others like him. It has to do with good self management skills.  Iqbal wasn’t a struggling poet who was down in the dumps. He was a member of the elite society because he chose to manage himself and his resources properly. Isn’t that what you would like to do too?

I’ve shared my thoughts with you about Iqbal here on how I got interested in his work, and why. Then I’ve written about Allama Iqbal’s  Tulip of Sinai, a book which I have illustrated and published here.

It is a fact that he stuck to his own creative work in spite of being a well- known lawyer like Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Iqbal planned his month in such a way that he instructed his manager (munshi) to tell him when he has got enough cases to cover  his monthly expenses. After that he took no more cases, and concentrated  on his poetry. This is how he planned his month. He did it with the objective in his mind.

Why can’t we do that?

Continue reading “Monthly Plans inspired by Iqbal.”

My Visit to Citizen Service Center.

It is a 15 Police Facilitation Center in F-6/1 , the heart of Islamabad.

It is great to see improvements in different organizations in one’s country. Islamabad has usually had an edge over the rest of the country. The latest improvement has been in the establishment of this Citizen Service Center. It was good to hear that it was Ahsan Iqbal the Interior Minister, and Sultan Azam Taimoori IG Police who initiated the establishment of this office. This center was opened in May 2018. It is the first of its kind, (I certainly hope it isn’t the last!)

The Sub-inspector Abid Mehmood was incharge there, and gave me all information needed. He was extremely cooperative. Once he learnt I was a writer and blogger, he personally gave me a round of this office and gave permission for me to take these photographs.

So, if you have any problem, you can come to inform the police here.

Facilities at the Center:

The best thing is that it has a one-window operation.

They settle almost all issues for you. If you have been to your local police ‘thana‘, and they aren’t filling in the FIR, then you can get it done here. The renewal of your driving licence too can be done here. If you are going to buy a car or vehicle, you can get it verified here, to check for any police record against that vehicle.

One very important thing that every one of us must do is, E to give CNIC card photocopies, and details about all domestic help working at their residence, here.  Even the part-time help and their work and timings need to be given here. This is a very important security thing that each of us must conscientiously do.  I suppose it also includes all the times that you fire a servant, cook or driver, so you inform them. This will make sure the person isn’t on your list anymore.

On the photograph you can find all the different problems that are solved here. As you can see it is a varied and long list.

All foreigners and Pakistanis are facilitated here.

How you can go about solving your problem:

As I said, every ‘problem’ is an ‘opportunity’ to learn.  I learnt that if you lose a passport, (or any important document like your degree or any such thing, )  you have to make an affidavit (from any nearby stamp paper office,)  they have the format requirement with them, then take it to this Citizen Service Center of Police to get an FIR and Registration of case done. Hopefully it will just take around ten minutes (depending on how much rush there is.)  It is done quickly. In my case, once the registration was done, I had to  take this paper  to the passport office. The rest will be done by the the passport office.

This service center is where you come and register any contract you make with your tenant, or notify how many domestic help personnel you are keeping. Give the details here.

Finally, you will have a proper police protection if a tenant is misbehaving or not cooperating with you.  They will support you in eviction process if needed.

Continue reading “My Visit to Citizen Service Center.”

My Latest Screen Writing Course.

What I’ve learnt through it.

Now, watch how ‘fate’ plays a role in our lives;

As you know, my trip to Seattle was recently cancelled by the mysterious loss of passport. Two months earlier, while planning the trip, one of my top priorities was to attend a screen writing course in Seattle.  There was another one starting here in Islamabad too.

How I joined the course:

So, at first I wanted to attend both. (I wanted it all!) Then, I thought, ‘no, I’ll let this Islamabad one pass, and attend the Seattle one.’ At the last minute the Seattle one got cancelled, just in time for me to join the 101 Screenwriting Course in Islamabad. Phew! That was close. Already, three of my friends had enrolled due to me. So, I had friends there, I was thrilled. Doing something here in Pakistan, means that since I’m going to work here, so it was best (for now.)

Continue reading “My Latest Screen Writing Course.”

Lost Passport and Dealing with Loss

When my passport got lost, remembering other losses, I went on to my plan ‘b’.

In today’s world we are so well-organized and streamlined, that when the unexpected happens, we feel like grieving. We get upset and ask ‘Why did it happen to me?’ (Meaning,’I’m so perfect, why?’) It’s best to respond with:

‘So what?’

It is important to put things into perspective.

That done: move on to ‘plan B’.

Continue reading “Lost Passport and Dealing with Loss”

Café Garage – a refreshing addition.

– A perfect place to hangout for the youthful among you.

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‘ Cafe Garage, is a new place in E-11,  which is quite interesting. It has a garage look and is called ‘garage’ too!’ My daughter mentioned it to me, some time back. I made a note, to check it out, and forgot about it. Recently, when I visited it, I found it quite fascinating. Apparently, it had its ‘soft launch’ in February 2018. It is a different kind of place, designed for the youth and youthful in mind.  I’m sure you’d love to know more about it.

Some days ago I got a text from Mahroosh, one of the partner/owners and we had a snack there. It turned out that their other partner Basil (who is an electrical engineer) is running the place. It was designed by their third partner Ebne Sajjad (Noni) who is an architect from NCA. I really loved its’ plan. So original, and it has several levels to it. The best part is that it is functionally designed, and has an open plan. So you can see the whole place from wherever you are sitting.

Continue reading “Café Garage – a refreshing addition.”

How to Make Life Exciting.

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Almost every person I meet, he tells me he wants to do something special in his life. Something that will make him feel more satisfied and fulfilled. Believing in his talent, he finds its hard to pursue one’s interests due to lack of time. Often I’m asked, how I do it. There is nothing special, except having a few tricks to stay refreshed even when one is extremely tired. To find ways to do what one really likes, in spite of being busy. The trick lies in finding ways to get fresh and remove feelings of fatigue.

I mean, just look at Allama Iqbal, he  had two wives, children and a full time law practice. Yet, he came out with the greatest poetry and thoughts of his times. How did he do it? By making space for it, along with providing for his family through his profession. This blog post is all about how to make space for your passion in your life.

You do it – because your happiness depends on it- that’s why! 

You see, life is going to be crazy anyway. Do you think your life is less difficult for not doing all the ‘extra’ things that talented people do? Even if your life is nice, stable, routine but then there is this element of ‘missing’ excitement in it. You find yourself saying ‘I wish’ very often. So, I’d suggest you develope a life with more granting of your own ‘wishes’ (too).

One just needs to make an effort.

Plan better, and get going! Once you are on the road, you will feel better. As they say ‘himmat to karni parti hai.’ You cannot get anything without making the extra effort or cherry on the top!

So, if you are in a hurry, I will share my secrets first, and go on with my blog post for those who have more time to read.

Here are tips for all ‘normal’ activities:

Quickly go over the important responsibilities in your life, to make space for your passions in life.

  • Stop doing your work, ten minutes earlier. This will conserve your energy and give you more time in the end.
  • Try to ‘end’ your ‘work day’ by 5.00 pm every day. (if it is not completed, drop it.)
  • Make an effort to do something wonderful afterwards, at least once or twice a week.

 Refresh your self like this:

These will help you to keep going for it!

  1. Break: Take a ten-minute break and relax completely. (Mentally and physically.)
  2. Prayer: Best is to do wuzzu and say prayers – nothing so refreshing. While praying ask Allah to make things easy for you. (According to the Chinese acupuncture method, you touch points during wuzzu which will relax your nerves.)
  3. Shower: A quick hot or cold shower can do wonders. Unconsciously, you are giving a massage to your whole body like this, extremely refreshing.
  4. Make up and change of clothes: fresh clothes and make-up do wonders to your spirits.
  5. Perfume: you’ve heard of aroma therapy, it really works.
  6. Meditate: do it as you drive, or while lying down, or after prayers.
  7. Visualize a place: you can visualize being in a place that you love, (for me walking in a running stream in my bare feet is the best.) Specially visualize yourself doing what you are going to do now. Imagine how wonderful you will feel while doing it.
  8. Drink tea, coffee or lemonade: Any one of these can get you back on the road!
  9. Fifteen to twenty minutes: is all you need to get refreshed.
  10. Power naps: This can be ten to twenty minutes. One hour is the best. It will make you completely rejuvenated.

On Septemeber 25th evening, I was literally on the point of collapse, by 4.45 pm. I knew I had to wrap up the endless work of the day.  Then pick a friend and drive off to Rawalpindi for an event. A headache was coming on, and I could feel my neck’s left side muscles feeling strained. (Later on Ive found out it was due to high blood pressure – income tax returns does that!) So, I tried to get out of the event, (for a change.) The trip meant at least a three to four hour sojourn.

I rang up  Mrs. Gen. Saeed uz Zafar, who had invited me.

‘I’m so sorry, but I’m really not feeling well.’

‘It’s fine, you can come slightly late, but it will be worth it’ she said!

So, I refreshed myself by a few of the things mentioned above, and drove off. I have a theory, ‘once you have decided, then don’t think about it.’ That’s what Iqbal says:

 

 

Naila and my drive to Rawalpindi Garrison Mess: 

The moment Naila sat in the car, she said, ‘put that off! It will distract you while driving.’ I looked at my innocent DVD player in the dash board. I wanted to ask:  ‘Why do you think I bought this car???’- Yes for this dashing dashboard of course! –  So, I put off the screen, but kept the music going… telling her ‘I can’t drive without music.’ Which is so true.

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I took this pic while the lecture was on. My apologies to my friends sitting next to me! 😉

Naila and her family have just returned from attending a wedding in UK, so it was interesting conversation. She told me she had visited Daphne du Mauriers’ Jamaica Inn location in Cornwall. She even saw the desk where she sat and wrote. It is an actual Inn, in Cornwall, UK. I’ve literally grown up reading her books. Though I’ve loved Rebecca a lot but my favorites were Jamaica Inn and Scapegoat.

This is the conversation  we had as I drove on the signal-free highway. Then through the heavy traffic of Rawalpindi to Garrison Officer’s Mess. We got there, after parking the car literally in the ground near it, as the parking was full. (It used to be the cricket ground.  In 1980 I saw Imran Khan fielding near the pavilion. My friend Samia Khan and I were sitting in the VIP enclosure next to it. For the first time I had seen Imran Khan from close (about thirty feet away – and yes, he did look like a Greek god, like people had said. He did beat up the Kiwis the next day with his six sixes.) No wonder all the girls were so crazy about him!

The walk to the Garrison Mess became my evening walk. The building is charming and well kept as ever.  As I looked at the people playing tennis in the courts on my left, I remembered how  I had played tennis here too. (The coach was very impressed by me.) He didn’t know that I’m only doing it to reduce my weight, after the birth of Nataliya. Though she was only six pounds, I had gained a lot of weight. So much so, that my father-in-law joked with me saying, ‘khoda pahar, nikla chooha!’ It is a popular proverb meaning that we had to dig up a mountain to get a mouse! Don’t worry, I did get my weight back to normal.

Event by OAKS on Claiming Spaces from the Whirlwinds:

We entered the Fine Dining hall, which is more spruced up every time I see it, and the program was on.   Shama Apa came over to receive us. OAKS, Rawalpindi chapter had organized the event. They are a group of ladies who studied in Kinnaird College, Lahore. This event was based on three extraordinary women writers: Ismat Chughtai, Hijab Imtiaz Ali Taj and Quratulain Hyder.

It was a spell binding event. Touching upon the history of Muslim Women Writers of Sub-Continent of Indo-Pakistan, the speaker Salman Asif was fluent in Persian, English and Urdu. His accent and vocabulary in all languages was a treat to listen!  The presentation included many writers and it opened ones’ eyes to a world which was so modern and progressive! The women were of course mostly belonging to the elite and upper class, one was a pilot too! Some were queens and princesses during the Mughal era, which included the famous Queen Mumtaz for whom the Taj Mahal was built. Among the later ones Hijab Imtiaz Ali Taj, Ismat Chughtai and the famous author of Aag ka Darya: Quratulain Haider. The time span was between the sixteenth century till the late nineties;  the  hour passed in minutes, as we were in a trance. I’d love to invite him over to speak to our writer’s groups in Islamabad.

It isn’t possible to write about the lecture which was so amazingly done. Nor the inspiring women writers. How well versed they were in more than one language, one of them was even a pilot! Their skills in writing were matched by the lifestyles they had which were more modern and progressive than most of us today. I was so glad I went.

It is moments like these which make life so worth it. What I loved was Shama Apas’ tradition of gifting the speaker with a baby-tree of Silver Oak tree in a flowerpot. The group of ladies meet every month or so and call themselves the Silver Oaks.

Making space for passions in my life: 

In the same way, I’m so happy somehow I’ve managed to hold art classes at my Studio for select persons. Really enchanted with my student’s work.

Meanwhile, my daughter Nataliya came from Seattle. So, that was a lovely and busy spell. She also held a very engaging and well-designed workshop.  We all learnt a lot from her style of work and the way she managed the workshop. Of course, Waliya and I helped  her too.

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/2168838996482714/

 

Through it all, I’ve read out the Holy Quran to my mother daily. In fact that is how we start our day, along with a cup of tea.

Screen writing Course by Mian Adnan Ahmad: 

These days I’m attending a  Screen Writing course in The Hive.  I’m just loving these. I’m so glad I went for it. By now I’m used to people asking me, ‘Why?’ and my response is: ‘why not?’

Why am I doing this course? So I can make films for the upcoming books in my pipeline. To make is easier to communicate ways to better our lives in this world. How we can be more productive and useful to each other.

When you put it into hours, days and weeks, it is very do-able.

So, why not start doing what you love to do? You are the captain of your ship. Go ahead and pamper yourself. (Remember, we do it without compromising the needs of our family members!)

We only get one life – lets have an amazing one.  No regrets, Baby!

I’m so happy my daughters also manage to get their passions fitted into their lives, just like their father did.  Here you see Waliya at work. Nadiya is a wonderful blogger and organizing expert too.

Note: Most photos and videos are mine, except the ones of Nataliya’s workshop which are courtesy Waliya Najib Khan. The picture of mountains and lake is by Nataliya (I think, or me!) Also, group photos of event in Rawalpindi, provided by Mrs. Saeed uz Zafar. The pictures of Daphne du Mauriur from Google search. Hope it is okay with them. i’m extremely grateful for these.

Staying Connected

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No matter where you choose to live, it is important to make time to be with your near and dear ones. It’s obvious why you left Pakistan (or whichever country you left) – for greener pastures abroad! Actually, you left your country for many reasons: Interfering ‘family network’, lack of punctuality, challenging job situations, flies, mosquitos, garbage heaps,  corruption, joblessness, class difference, witnessing poverty first hand, street children. Yes, I know, the list is endless.

But.

When you left, you found, that you had replaced these problems with other problems: So, instead of the class difference back home, you found a lot of racism in your adopted country. (Since when did a wheatish complexion turn ‘black’ or ‘brown’?) Receiving special treatment at airports sometimes, combined with extra questioning at immigration.  Many times you cannot ‘connect’ with the people, you feel so much loneliness. The big news is, there are crooks there too, and lots of office politics. So, you have to watch out.

Continue reading “Staying Connected”