Life is just rushing by. So, this year has gone pretty well for me, I hope it was the same for you too. During December we still have time to re-align ourselves – and finish off what we can – to the original resolutions for this year. I’m sure we might have surpassed ourselves in some fields. Let’s just enjoy what we did, and forget what we didn’t. – Just shove it off to next year’s resolution list! (What else can we do anyway?)
One thing is sure: During November in Islamabad, the greatest thing that’s happened for me has been the Verna/ dharna/book launch – and finally clearing of my MBA! – Of course there was much else too…
The Dharna mentality:
Even if your cause is a correct one, I don’t believe it justifies distressing innocent people due to your problem. So, for over twenty days schools and offices in the capital were at half strength and work was just going on at below average level. Each and every person was upset and disturbed. Thank God, our people have become good at managing in spite of it all.
Remember that two wrongs never made a right. Even if a wrong was done to you, it doesn’t give you the right to displace innocent people in their daily lives, for your own cause. I’m not for it. Whether it is done by Tahir ul Qadri, Imran Khan or the mullas, it is still wrong. People lost their lives in the process. So, now I can say it was a murderous act. Thank goodness, it has ended now. An agreement was finally agreed upon. The street power was also ascertained. I’ll have to give credit for handling a very volatile situation in as best way they could. But I hope they will be proactive in preventive methods next time!
The fact is that an unpleasant precedent has been set.
My suggestion is to allocate a stadium or ground for the purpose. Give them one television channel to say all they want to say. Even provide them tents to stay in for as long as they want. Let them do their sit-in. Let the public hear all they want to say, if they want to. They can also stand with placards, on road sides, too. But not block main roads at any cost. So, that is my suggestion. Finally, if they insist on going ahead, then the person who disturbs others should be jailed for as many days as they disturbed the innocent public of Pakistan. Best preventive precaution: do not let them enter the city.
Enough about that. -Thank God some sanity prevailed and we can continue our lives. The happy thing was that our people’s nerves are great. Resilience is the word. Through it all, we have done our best to carry on with our lives. My book launch went ahead; So did the weddings and the inevitable janazas. Somehow, people still tried their best to get on with their lives. – Something which I really admire.
A Talk by Lisa Maria on education policy in Finland,
On Sunday 23rd November, a group of PANA members managed to arrive at the meeting in Serena Hotel, Dawat hall. As Atle Hetler put it, ‘Thank you for coming over and around the containers for this meeting!’ Even then, we all were there. Well, they had done the same coming through the blocked roads to attend my book launch too. As a special reward the talk and the Hi-tea was awesome.
Lisamaria is a charming personality from Finland, she is working on study of drama and its use in education, and she is working on training trainers for teaching. She is also helping women in Swat area export their handiwork to Finland. The talk was on steps taken by Finnish educationists.
What I understood was that there were no grading done. So, for a long time they didn’t realize they were among the best. In 1968 there was a special survey in which it was realized that Finnish education system is among the best in the world. They started thinking what are we doing? Well, for one, there is only one level of education in the entire country. The prime minister’s child and the gardener’s child would be getting the same level of education. The other most important thing is that the system is geared to the needs of each child. The child and teacher ratio is also ideal. So, each child gets a lot of attention. The special child goes with other children in same schools, except that the special child has a caretaker who looks after his or her special needs.
Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor:
Besides this there was a lecture by Mansoor Rahi, our guru and mentor in art. In his usual humorous style he explained his ‘Matrix’ and deeper nuances of art to his students. Recently, he has been delivering his lectures on art regularly. Lately, he is appearing in an online television channel on Art …
Hajra Apa, next day caught me joking about what ‘Leonardo had said about taking a break during your work.’ To bring a distance between your work and yourself for a short while when the work gets too intense. I was hinting at a tea break. Hajra Apa caught that, coming and telling all that ‘Shireen has a lot of knowledge about art, you all should take it from her. ‘ She mentioned that when she started teaching art, her six students in Karachi became her good friends. They would go all over Karachi, and paint, and meet regularly for art classes. She said ‘even in our spare times, we never discussed clothes or other things, we discussed art and artists. We discussed their styles and things artists did and said. In this way we kept exchanging information and learning from each other. Many of them became prominent artists of Karachi later on.
My book tour:
In my last blog on books, I was pleasantly surprised at how much you all appreciated my badly made videos and bookshelves. Well, somehow, it had become so long that my favorite shelf introduction was left out. I’ll be doing that one soon.
One of my favorite haunt in Islamabad is to go to Juicy Gossip or JG for its amazing fresh juices, and healthy food. The salad is out of this world and so are the steaks. Its small, compact, charming and a popular teenagers’ joint.
Well, I’m not that, but my heart still is! So, my friend Aisha and myself, usually end up there. This time we both were tempted to try the ‘bun-kebab’ and ‘pomegranate and kiwi juice’… just loved it. What I really like is that the food is healthy, mostly fat free and well made. Do try it and let me know what you think.
My other favorite restaurant is Jade, located in F-8 within the premises of China Town restaurant. Any time you go it is bursting with energy and young people.
My friend Naila and I love going there. Last time the nachos we had there were so different and so tasty.
Then the Peshawari green tea with shaker was charmingly served, and really good.
Finally – my MBA!
I’ve been trying to complete my MBA for several years now. Actually, I had an EMBA degree in Human Resource Management. Then on my mentor Dr. Feroza Ahmad’s insistence, I enrolled again to merge the degree into a complete MBA. So, I cleared all the subjects in flying colors, except Financial Accounting. Now, I’ve finally passed on my third attempt!!! I’m so happy. It was really very tough. I have to thank my class fellow Irfan Ahmed Gujjar who helped me so much. He’d be up on skype, WhatsApp and on phone teaching me after his office hours after 11.00 pm. To 1.00 am at night. His poor sweet wife and kid would be around, with the baby very angry at his baba. So, I’m so grateful to them. Then, my friend Aisha who is an expert in the subject and has been teaching it in Islamic University, also taught
In October 2011, I had joined in the evening classes. Topped in one of the subjects, and then my husband went to hospital in end of November. I rang up Dr. Feroza and asked if my studies could be frozen for a year. She said that isn’t possible. That’s when Dr. Feroza said to me, ‘do your best for your husband, but do not leave your studies.’ She asked me to change my evening classes into distance learning classes. So, that is what I did. I continued my exams through the hell I was going through.
I was given a scholarship also, as I had no money. God bless Dr. Abdul Basit without whose generosity, I would never have been able to do it. Once, when I went for a paper, I asked the teacher to let me study outside the room, that I’d come after fifteen minutes. He said, ‘I won’t give you extra time.’ I said, ‘fine.’ I sat outside the examination hall, skimming through the pages. Then I appeared for the exam. I did well too! Many times, I’d not be able to appear with the regular class, asked for a separate exam, and appear for my exam while crying…. The poor invigilator would look on helplessly. Sigh. It’s been a long and very hard battle. Why wasn’t I able to prepare? Sometimes, there was no electricity in the house, sometimes, no water. I had to deal with all that, along with the court visits and what not. Sometimes, I’d appear after studying all night. Later, Dr. Feroza told me she even got some papers and read them, and found them to be written pretty well. She knew what I was going through. Also the fact that it is due to all the books I keep reading for ‘fun’. (- As you might have noticed.) I had some of the latest information about my subjects which I got from books from USA, on my last visit. So, I’m so happy I’ve finally cleared.
Cholesterol cleared too:
A big thank you to all those who suggested ‘totkas’ – specially the one of soaking isafghol in half a glass of water at night and having it first thing in morning. Then the walks and salad lunch, and of course the medication suggested by my wonderful doctor Mehmood. So, I’m finally out of it.
So, with the power of intention, lots of hard work and staying focused, you really can achieve anything! Stay blessed my Reader. Stay focused, and you are sure to get it. As my husband’s favorite quotation used to, ‘be careful what you set your heart on, for you will surely get it!’ Like this narcissus plant which also has finally come out in my garden. – Though the wall had fallen on it too! Now, lets hope it blooms. May all your dreams come true, my dear Reader.