There is something about mountains that just thrills me. I love mountains – the higher the better. It just refreshes you. This is why Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) regularly went and stayed in a cave (Ghar-e-Hira) for several days, on a regular basis. You need to distance yourself from your everyday life sometimes.
It is good to go with your dear ones, but sometimes, it is also good to go alone.
Why? To be able to think a thought through to the end. (He didn’t even have a smart phone!) In our cases, we could literally lose our own lives, due to all the distractions we keep having.
So, I got up and went off with my driver who was assigned to my husband back in 2004. Right at the time that i was leaving, I remembered that Hasnain, my domestic help has never been to the mountains. So, I decided to take him along; – In just a ten minute notice, he was ready!
Absolutely love it. People constantly talk about how great the past was. Actually, one realises things are much better now.
As a writer, I’ve been through all the computer programs starting with WordStar. I clearly remember the time when Microsoft was a fresh new word. I thought, ‘Oh God, another word processing program to learn???’ NOOOOOoooo! I had wanted to stay with WordStar. Then I was told, ‘you’ll have to shift because everyone is on to it now!’ Yes, I had to!
My husband and I had the same desktop computer. One fine day I’d come to find it all changed. He had updated and upgraded the computer. So, then I’d have to learn new ways. I had deadlines to meet. I had to send regular articles to Dawn or Woman’s Own magazine. It was quite horrific for me. Usually, I was teaching, busy with my three kids, and air force social life. It was quite a challenge!
Positive work going on in the Capital, April 2018.
Somehow, my weekends are so interesting. Getting invited to several events, I choose the ones which are constructive and relaxing too. Each of the events I’m sharing here, deserve separate blogs, yet I’m afraid they may get over-run by upcoming events.
So, let’s go over these briefly:
Allama Iqbal’s death anniversary on April 21st. 2018:
It was a function arranged at The Hive in Blue Area. The Hive is a place for small events. You know I love young people, so I was happy at least they had done something on such an important day.
As I parked my car, I saw a young man hurrying towards the stairs of the building. So, I followed, and found the place, with his help. Then, he said, ‘You have taught me in school!’ I smiled at the dashing young man. I love to see my students all grown up! So, it turned out I had taught him history in ICAS probably in grade seven or eight, for a few months in 2004. So, I asked him to sit with me in the front row. We decided to remain connected. So, he sent me a friend’s request on Facebook, while we waited for the program to begin, (we saw we have 27 common friends!) Hisham Muzaffar is doing his M.Phil at PIDE (Pakistan Institute of Developmental Economics,) inDevelopmental Economics. Khurram Ilahi the speaker of the day on Iqbal, has taught Hisham in PIDE.
All of us go through busy spells in our lives. Though we often talk about it, and feel tired, but in fact we wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, we are busy doing what we want to do in the given situation.
We mothers tend to get a double shift because we are getting directly involved with our children’s lives, even when they are all grown up. When my children were small, my elder friends often said this, that it doesn’t get less busy! They were so right.
As one’s children grow older and less dependent on you, your parents start becoming more dependent. Now your own parents take on the role of your children and the responsibilities keep getting even more.
In my case, my mother had two falls in Feb/March. That really floored me. Now she needs more help and more often. Meanwhile my one daughter was getting engaged, and the other was leaving the country. Also both parents were facing the chest congestion that go with this season. It was a challenge all round.
Alhamdolillah. All these matters have been happily settled.
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.
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.
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.
A personal point of view as I was participating for the first time.
National Book Foundation is an organization which is purely book based and encourages writers and reading throughout the year. Once a year they hold this festival.
After Nigar Nazar had taken me to the LLF (Lahore Literary Festival), she asked her friend Afshan if she would consider me too for the reading session. So, my name was put in for NBF – the National Book Festival – in Islamabad. We enjoy each other’s pursuits and she has roped me into several of her projects.
Spring is a time of fresh beginnings and of hope. It is a time of flowering of all your efforts. It is the time when you are ready to come close to the fruits surfacing from your efforts. Most of all to look into a lovely fresh start in your life.
Islamabad’s Ninth Avenue or the Agha Shahi Road has a short span of blossoming spring. It is amazing for a few days and hopefully a couple of weeks, you will find lots of cars stopping by the roadside, to capture these moments of beauty:
So, this is a glimpse into the spring in Islamabad which I love. As far as spring in my life is concerned, it has come in several ways….
Don’t know about you, but each month is just going so fast. The important thing is that as life is moving on, we are achieving some goals, while some are getting left out. (That too, I’m sure is good.) Naturally, I don’t share everything – I have my privacy needs too! So, a big fat Alhamdolillah and thanks to our Almighty, who helps us through the rough edges of life, and gives us the courage to have such wonderful times too.
My dad’s 91st birthday on 2nd of March:
My dad was born in 1927 in Surag a village near Pindi Gheb, (Yes, Gheba is our family name, as we are the original family of this region.) Pindi Gheb is located around 100 kilometers West of Islamabad. My Dad’s birthday is 2nd March. I was wondering how to celebrate it. On 28th February, I thought, ‘why not call my Dad’s favorite people and let him have a blast?’ I hadn’t had the opportunity to serve them anything so far, with their innumerable hospital visits and good will. So, I sent messages on WhatApp to all the adorable friends, army personnel and family. ‘Why not meet him when he is hale and hearty?’ I thought. Sure enough. There they all were on his birthday – around thirty of them!
His brother and sisters came over with their families. Even the Generals and the one serving General came over too. I was a bit apprehensive knowing it is against protocol to suddenly invite someone so senior without preempt.
But, when General Qamar heard, he just came over with huge floral bouquets, like everyone else. He was saying, ‘You had my number why didn’t you call me?’ Then I told him. He said, ‘For Brig. Sarfaraz, I’ll come at a minutes notice!’ That is the kind of response I had from Dad’s other cadet, General Saeed uz Zafar, who in spite of not feeling too well, came over with his usual wonderful gifts (the maroon sweater, which I had been searching for my dad, and couldn’t find, with flowers, and sadqa for the staff.’ I managed to get Mum and my gifts from his favorite Bonanza shop in F-10. I got some nice food made by my cook, baked the birthday cake myself and got his favorite seekh kebabs from Cheema and Chattha.
I could see he enjoyed it all.
Saadullah Bhai passes away:
My whole family was heart broken at this news. Nataliya managed to dig out these pictures. She was just four years old when she got to know them first. Here they are at a party at our home. We called them G-9 brothers, and here we are the G-9 sisters.
Sqn. Ldr. Saadullah Lodhi was a very close friend of my husband’s. We were neighbours in Quetta in 1986-88. We have such fond memories of him, his wife Naveen and sons Azam and Monty. They moved to Fremont, near San Francisco later on. His wife often held grand parties at their home, in fact we all did. We just needed an excuse to have fun. There would be a lot of songs and dances. Bhai would often sing, and all of them would pull each other’s legs all the time! So much so, that we had musical evenings in Karachi too, having our musical evenings till 6.00 am while the city would be in curfew.
When my husband took us all to Fremont in 2008, Saadullah bhai’s wife’s sister gave us her house to live in. She moved off to her children’s place so we could enjoy ourselves. Every morning, bhai would be there to have chit chat with us, carrying bread and eggs or some other food items. Naveen, her sisters and their husbands, all took such care of us, we felt completely at home. What with Salim Mastan bhai driving our family to see Stanford University and San Francisco which became a memorable drive for us. The lovely brunch arranged at Saadi Bhai and Naveen’s place with our usual singing session is still vivid in my mind’s eye. Our memories are endless, and one’s heart breaks to know his cancer too was discovered at fourth stage, like my husband’s. May Allah rest his soul in peace. Naturally, I’m in touch with the sons and wife, whom we all are very attached to. Indeed, to Him we belong, and to Him we return. So, it has been a sad phase in life, it has taken me a lot of effort to keep my equilibrium going.
A sad patch in life:
My lovely mother also had a bad fall. It caused her a black eye. Thank God it is healing really well. Luckily, there wasn’t much pain involved, but she has bruises in several places. She is needing extra care, so I help her in bathing, and going to the washroom. I’m grateful to God for keeping her in good shape and spirits in spite of it all. The first thing she said after the fall was: ‘I’m getting ready for the big event.’ So, I knew she has her sense of humor intact. That was a big relief.
The happy one:
There is some very good news coming up too. (Yes, the ‘event’.) That is also there. So, Allah makes sure He gives us happy surprises and good times too, to keep us in good form.
No. I’m not telling you now, only that as I speak to you, a lot of preparations are going on at home.
A big Thank You to the One up there!
First Solo Paintings’ exhibition of Asrar Farooqi’s Exhibition at Nukta Studios and Gallery:
Asrar Farooqi had left his home at the age of fifteen to pursue his interest in arts. It was because he realized, no one will let him become an artist. How he managed to support himself and find a mentor to help him on this journey is interesting; He supported himself by painting large billboards which were the done thing before the penaflex billboards started being made through computers. You had to be very skilled to make paintings of well known actors for cinema houses. Anyhow, he lived in Lahore for a while, then moved to Rawalpindi-Islamabad and worked with Ghulam Rasul.
He found his niche when he met Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor who took him under their caring wings. That is when he found his success. His first exhibition is the climax of his two qualities: belief in his own talent and passion for art, and secondly the art of being a good student. He gives great regard to his teachers and mentors, and listens keenly to their input on his work. That is why he asked them to be the chief guests at his first solo exhibition.
The Sui Northern Gas issue.
You see, what happened was that I needed to change the gas bill to my name. Previously it has been coming in my late husband’s name. As you know, I’ve been running around other spins in my life, and I was letting this one be. Last month there was a notice on the bill to get the ID card of the owner of house verified by their office. Now, I know my husband’s CNIC card has also expired. So, this had to be done. So, I called their office, and they told me to bring over such and such papers. So, I took along the papers to their office, and found out , it is not so simple!
Yesterday, I ran from pillar to post trying to go through the process of Sui Northern Gas, to do the needful. It seemed simple till the work began… Sigh, it was horrifying. It started with the horrific traffic jam in I-9 area, (it was a hint!).
The number of times I went to two offices and the stamp paper shop across the road, is lost, as my head was literally spinning at the end of it. All this in spite of the cooperation of the said persons; By the end, I got to know the guard outside, and he laughed that we know each other very well now, Mr. Nawaz, Mr. Nazar (who was absent due to the traffic, he was also absent on Friday last when I’d gone at 12.30 pm.) Then, Mr. Iqbal and Mr. Sana-ullah. Literally, towards the end, I’d just sit down and wait, and the people behind the counter would call me out, waving their hands trying to distract me from my phone. I was the only lady in the office, it was the men doing the spinning dance all the time too. Or should I call it the ‘relay race’: you went to point A, then waited for your turn, got a signature, on a paper, then to point B, then waited your turn, then got a signature. Then you had to go to the Stamp paper guy, (thank God, he knew all that was to be done.) The second time, I had to go, I asked for a cup of tea. When I offered to pay, he said, ‘it was your destiny.’ (yeh to ap ka naseeb mein tha!) When some papers had to be re-done, the stamp paper man did them all again, I thought he would make me pay again too, but he did it for free.
‘If one person spent almost six hours doing one thing, it is because your ‘systems’ are lacking!’ I mentioned to one official named Sanaullah. I was told,
‘it is up to you to make a noise. Only then something will be done.’ Un-till and unless systems are not improved people will be continued to be harassed. Literally, I made friends even with the guys who were running pillar to post along with me. We had a camaraderie – suffering the same running around. Of course, this can be improved. It is possible. The way the NADRA office has improved to become one of the best in the world, is amazing, I’m sure this department too, can improve. The staff is accommodating, more can be done: here are my suggestions:
Have the desks of the next step personnel nearby. Or give one person more authority, so the applicant doesn’t have to run for next step.
Have a stamp paper and photocopy desk within the office. (This would help in not having to cross the traffic and road every time!)
Have a bank representative there too, who can take the payment and give a voucher.
Have another staff member at all desks during lunch break – to save the customers’ time. (– otherwise, have a cafeteria with good washrooms for customers, nearby.)
So, suddenly, when I was told the lunch break has begun, now I’ll have to come back after an hour. They gave me home work too, ‘go to bank and make the payment of the bills so far’ and a couple of more photocopies. (I had brought the latest gas meter readings in a picture taken on my phone in the morning before coming.) So, off I went looking for a bank. The place was all new to me, there was also a severe parking problem. As I looked around flustered I found the Artech Home. I couldn’t help driving in. Thrilled to see something I’m so interested in.
I walked in to this ‘wonderland’ with soft music playing and lovely furniture – with lovelier prices – around me. Just loved the ambiance. Osama the Manager there told me they are the ones who designed Silver Oaks in F-10 Islamabad which is a beautifully constructed building. My husband and I had visited it with its split level four bedroom flats, studio apartments etc. it has a class all its own.
I really loved the designs here, and took these pictures with permission:
Since it was a tough day, I got free after 3.00 pm. – though I had got there at 11.30 am. (Yes, and I had already spent about two hours on last Friday too!)
Often I’m told not to get involved in so many things. Well, I’ll have to do the boring, drudgery stuff anyway. Why put a stop to the ‘cherry on the top’? No Sir! Yes, I’ll slow down my life one of these days. Right now, I’m just so happy and honored to do so many wonderful things.
Generation Rahi party for Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi.
So, I barely had time to get back home, change and be fresh to go for another function across town, where I was to be the anchor person at a wonderful event. It was being held at the Adventure Complex in Shakarparian – a hilly range in Islamabad. A minute before it began, I was told that I’ll be conducting the function in Urdu language. Though I love Urdu, I feel less confident in it, as English is my mother tongue. (- More about that in another blog!) I was told, it should be a piece of cake, since I’m into Iqbal’s poetry which is mostly in Urdu. True. So, I usually say a silent prayer which Moses (who used to stammer) used to pray to God. ‘Please God, remove the impediment from my speech, and help me to convey my thoughts with ease.’ Well, between us, I say this prayer also before writing a difficult piece. Thank goodness it all went well.
Anyhow, the event was to celebrate our mentors’ achievements and to thank them. To congratulate them for the tribute they received during the 9th National Exhibition at the National Art Gallery. Specially, to celebrate the Life Achievement award received recently by Hajra Mansoor from Jamshoro University, out of artists from 60 countries.
So, this is what I’ve been up to lately.
Stay blessed lovely ones. Sorry for long blog. I’m sure you would skip what you didn’t want to read. That is fine, I do it too. As long as you read the parts that interest you! 😉