Relax – take a break!

Why are we so cruel on ourselves? I should know. Every ‘to do’ list is made to grind ourselves a little more. We are merciless with the work we keep piling on ourselves. Then at the end of the day, instead of appreciating ourselves for all that we did, we feel bad for all that we couldn’t do!

I’m like that. I mean, quite a lot. What about you? Are you the same too?

So, the fact is, I only truly relax when I’m ill or, jet lagged.

Luckily, I was both, since the time I got here, in Halifax, on Aug 22nd, 2019. Perforce I had to rest and sleep well. It was helped by the ‘advanced’ medication my SIL (son-in-law)  Haaris got for me.  A real knock out.

Can you believe it, I slept full eight hours most nights. – Something I never do in Islamabad. In Islamabad, I collapse to bed on ‘time’. But…  I’m up every couple of hours to check on my mother, or the house, or to see if my daughter is home after a long shoot. (She is a photographer if you didn’t know that already!)

You know, shifting eight hours behind your country’s time, is a bit confusing. I’ve been used to Seattle which is exactly twelve hours behind Pakistan’s time – easy to calculate – 10 a.m. is 10.00 p.m.

So, I’ve relaxed so much.

The great thing about having three daughters is that being across the world means, I’m with my own daughter, here too. Also, I have no worries of home, as I have a daughter back home, to take care of things. (No wonder Pakish have so many kids!) I’m so blessed. I’m enjoying the fruits of all my efforts when they were younger.

My trip and my life is getting more exciting.

But I’m not sharing with you now. I’ll tell you when it happens. Something sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo exciting is happening in my life.

Sighhhhhh.

I mean, as if something really exciting didn’t happen already!

My daughter Nadiya had a baby girl as you know from my last post here. Her husband stayed with her throughout the delivery. Brave man. It was the same with Bilal my eldest SIL. I’ve not gathered that courage yet.

Anyhow, it is a good family planning device. No one wants to go through it again!

I think they must make it compulsory for every man in Pakistan to accompany his wife and be there during delivery. Let him also witness all that she goes through. It might be the best way to control our horrendous population. 😉

So, I was talking about the break. Coupled with  this little bundle of joy with me; Cooking food for my Nadiya and her husband, and taking care whenever I can. It is great. Yes, I’m healing, and feeling whole again, after a long time. Actually, since the loss of my father. Also the loss of Abdul Rahim, my cook. Slowly, I’ve got healed here, being with my family, far from home. These beautiful surroundings, the love of my Nadiya and Haaris, has been like a balm for me.

I’m  telling you, living abroad,  makes me appreciate my life in Pakistan even more. I literally live like a queen there. Thanks to my staff. Hasnain and Sabir who are great and so are the maids who take care of my mother and us in our home there.

Thanks to the cameras installed back home, I can peep into my home every time I want.

That feels great.

Right now, I’m supposed to be changing and getting ready. My kids want to pick me up in a while.

Here I am writing a blog post.

This one post is just spilling out.

Here, I have the time to watch television a lot. I’ve watched and followed Pakistani plays. I mean, my favorite are on YouTube and Netflix.

No, I’m not watching any Indian song or film, though I used to be a big fan. No more, not till they learn to be kind to the Kashmiris. We Pakish will no longer support their arts. If funds from these arts are fueling this genocide going on there, then we must do our part in stopping it.

Cruelty and injustice in any form – whether in our private lives, on the streets of Pakistan or in Kashmir or anywhere in the world, must never be condoned. I can’t believe there is genocide going on as I write.

The whole world is turning a blind eye to it. Its blood curdling, actually. Sometimes humanity can be very cruel. The blocking of videos showing the reality, on social media must not block the truth. May sanity prevail. I see advertisements for saving dogs, and animals. But none for saving humans in Kashmir.

I’m taking walks in the evenings, and going to the market nearby. I’m loving it. People are so friendly here, and ready for a chat. People are really friendly here.

This kind of break is essential for all. I’ve made up my mind to relax and take a break every year. How about you? Do you do the same? It just needs a bit of planning.

Perhaps, this is why Western countries are so advanced. They are very particular about taking holidays. It is so important. It can help us re-align ourselves and remove the cobwebs that get into our lives.

Holiday tips:

Take a mental and physical break by having at least one annual break:

  1. Save throughout the year for a holiday, in Pakistan or abroad. A month or ten days at least.
  2. Believe me, no one is indispensable.  Things do work out, if you plan well.
  3. Address whatever apprehensions you have, and deal with them before going on holiday. So, you can truly relax. In my case it was health of my mother and security of my home. So, I put up the cameras, and handed over things to my trusted ones.

You will feel so much better. We have to make the break. Everything can wait. Also, you aren’t as important or indispensable as you’d like to believe. Everyone can live well without us! We need this time to be the best form of ourselves. I wish I had taken my Waliya’s advice more often, in Pakistan.

I’m so glad, my Nadiya literally forced me to come over. I’m so happy I came, and I was with her when she needed me most. (My SIL is saying he will make my passport disappear for an extra month!)  I’m thrilled I came and am giving myself such a wonderful break. Alhamdolillah.

Stay blessed, my Reader, RELAX and give yourself a complete break this year. Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures I took during  lovely outings.

Thank you Nadiya and Haaris for inviting me over. I’m so happy I came. Feeling totally rejuvenated. Alhamdolillah.

Special thanks to my wonderful Readers. 🙂

Note: A couple of photographs and videos by Nadiya Najib Khan. (My SIL doesn’t like  social media, that is why he isn’t part of the pics here.)  I respect this, about him and others. Remember, if I take pictures or close ups of anyone, it is always with permission. Otherwise, it isn’t worth it. Stay blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Islamabad to Halifax, Canada.

Hi Everyone! You must be wondering what I’ve been up to. It has been a month since my last post on August 10th 2019 here. Well, it’s not because of anything except that I was going on a holiday to Canada, and was busy preparing for it. When I reached here, the lead of my laptop needed fixing. Thank goodness, Haaris managed to arrange one for me, so I can start my writings again.

Right now, there is a Hurricane blowing up outside. (In Islamabad we have such storms almost every few weeks.) A while back there was a big noise, and the lights flicked here. I felt like writing this blog post before something else happens!

So, in Islamabad – before my trip began.

Preparations for my trip abroad:

As I was getting freakish, I addressed my fears squarely:

Camera installations by Nayatel:

I decided to install cameras in the house, so I could keep an eye on my home while being abroad. This was especially, to keep an eye on my mother’s well being. So, Nayatel company installed cameras in different parts of my home. Now, I can see who is entering my home, and what is going on. At the same time, I’m checking if the staff is continuing to follow the time table up in the kitchen.

Changed locks of home:

To add to security systems, I changed most locks of home. This made me feel much better.

Planning and management:

As a believer in good planning and management, I’ve tried to foresee and address things properly.  I was leaving my youngest daughter Waliya in charge of the home, this meant that I had to show her how to go about it.

Many of my friends had doubts:

Most of my friends had reservations about my leaving things to Waliya.  However, I’ve been confident, as I’ve given her enough practice. I’ve let her take care of most of her grand parents’ issues, so she is in good practice throughout the year.

Also, in 2016 when I went to USA, she managed everything, along with her sister Nadiya. Of course, my cousin Hasan Jafar, friends like Haroon, Uzma, Ayesha, and my neighbors are willing to help too.

Flying to Halifax, Canada:

So, here I am for the first time, in Canada. Since my daughter Nadiya is in Halifax, she generously got me a ticket which included a fourteen and a half hour PIA flight from Islamabad to Toronto, then to Halifax by West Jet.

Pray right!

Funnily enough, I’d heard so much against the PIA flight, that I kept praying for it. In fact, it turned out to be a lovely flight, I love walking up and down the aisles and chatting with the crew. The air hostesses were great. One of them Rubila,  shared her personal  lunch of fresh fruit and veggies with me. Later, she made me a  cup of tea, and we chatted at the back of the plane.

The views were amazing. I saw that Iceland was without ice. The ice, and snow over Greenland was beautiful.

We traveled with the sun, but they kept the plane all darkened up most of the time. The lunch served was nicer but the rest was nothing like before. This was topped by the West Jet people who served us phoka chips called pretzels or a cookie. (I was dying to say, ‘I want both’.)

(As I write, electricity has gone off now.)

As  prices of flights are getting sky rocketing, facilities are taking a nose-dive.

So, while I prayed for the PIA part of my trip, I didn’t pray for the Canada parts! It was the huge Toronto airport that was awful for me. First the man who was to take me on wheelchair, lied to me, saying it was not much of a distance and I could easily walk across. To my horror, I found myself going to many sections, up and down carrying my back pack and handbag.

I  walked 4 km by the time I reached my gate for the West Jet plane flight to Halifax. ( I use the step counting app.)

That West Jet Boeing was in good shape but, had no blankets, and I was freezing, as I had packed up my jacket in the hand-carry bag overhead. So, I landed in Halifax with sore legs and a bad cold.

I shall pray specifically next time!

Great meeting my Nadiya and Haaris:

Happily, I met my daughter Nadiya and son-in-law Haaris, I was meeting them after one and a half years. They moved here last year in April, and have got settled pretty well, by Allah’s grace. I love their apartment. It was interesting to see my previously skinny daughter in full bloom, awaiting the birth of her baby daughter. I couldn’t even hug them as I didn’t want them to catch my cold.

They put me on ‘cold’ tablets, and these combined with my jet-lag, knocked me out for several days. They were keen to take me places before the baby arrived. I was keen to get to know their kitchen before the big event, so I’d be of use to them.

Cooking in their well-organized kitchen is tough, as the ingredients just didn’t behave as they do back home, in Pakistan. I’ve had to re-learn everything. Also I wondered if I still remember cooking. (When Haaris mentioned this to his colleagues and friends, they couldn’t understand. They don’t know my staff back home who are great cooks.) So, anyhow, I’ve managed to cook a few things by now. Beef Tikkas, pea palao, minced meat with potatoes, and chocolate cake.

Going places:

On Auguest twenty forth night I perked up and we went for a drive and ice cream at the Atlantic ocean creek, near Marriot.

Peggy’s cove:

A day later we went to Peggy’s Cove which was literally out of this world and magical. It was so amazing and very unique. I loved being at the light house, the fishermen’s cove. Having  the fish and chips dinner at the restaurant was delicious, served by the charming and beautiful waitress with the sweet smile.

Artist’s studio:

On the way back, Haaris took us to Donna’s art studio. It belongs to his friend Thomas John’s parents. It was wonderful meeting the wonderful couple. Here are some pictures of the lovely artist and her artwork.

Library visit:

Nadiya and I managed to sneak in a visit to their local library. It was filled up, and I could see many Syrian families there too. Of course I ended up with some amazing books. I love the fact that Americans and Canadians are such avid readers.

Shopping area near my daughter’s home:

Within a few days I discovered I could walk down to the market nearby. It was like a Markaz in Islamabad with everything there. Even Tim Hortens, a wonderful Drug store with lovely magazines etc in it, Solbeys and Dollorama too. I was thrilled to get some canvases from there.

 Baby arrived earlier:

Meanwhile, we were going for the doctor’s visits. Soon we found out the time had come. The baby was born after a 24 hours labor. I was surprised to see that they only let the patient go to hospital till she is in almost final stage of labor. My sweet children took pity on me and left me at home, as they went to hospital. By the evening, Haaris came to pick me saying the baby has still not arrived, but I can go over.

As I came to my daughter I found that the baby was lying next to her! My Gosh, imagine, even at that time, she was busy giving me surprises. Look at Haaris, he never let me get any hint of the big event they had just gone through. I was relieved, to know it was over. Alhamdolillah. Later I was to find out my Daughter had had a very difficult delivery.

We were happy it was over, and eight days before the due date. Lucky for me, I had arrived five days before.

Hospital stay:

We all stayed in hospital which was the IWK hospital, which is the largest one in Halifax. We were in the private room arranged by Haaris for three days. It was well equipped and had a bed for me too. The staff was very courteous, kind, caring and ready to give comfort. The doctor was deeply concerned about welfare of her patient.

Nadiya was given two iron infusions to make up for the blood loss, and her hemoglobin finally went from 6.1 to 7.8. They wanted her to have a blood transfusion, but I had apprehensions and wanted to avoid it at all costs. (I’ve had friends catching serious diseases through the blood transfusions.) Then they took a CT Scan of abdomen to check if there wasn’t any other problem. Finally, we got home with a clean slate, and instructions to get back if needed.

The hospital gifted a bag full of books for the baby!

Meeting with Jim Dukes and Mary:

We hardly got settled, when we realized that Jim Dukes and his wife Mary were visiting. They are my mother’s second cousins, whom Nadiya had found through her genealogy explorations; and Valerie, wife of Dave Schirru had helped them get connected.

Jim and Mary, in their seventies were on their cruise and had docked at Halifax. They visited us for half an hour and brought gifts for the baby too. It was great meeting them. Jim is grandson of my mother’s English grandfather Fred Kilburns’ sister Ada. There was so much to share, but so little time.

Jim said, ‘we are meeting after hundred years!’ Yes, it did seem that way.

It is a very interesting story: When mum’s grandfather left the family business in London, he joined the British army and came to India. Fred’s  parents and eldest sister soon passed away due to tuberculosis.  His brother Samual moved to Canada, and took over the rest of his siblings including Ada. So, Ada’s grandson is Jim, who is settled in Ontario.

‘I’ve never seen a more organized girl as Nadiya,’ said Mary, as she looked through the Genealogy book which Nadiya has made.

Hurricane Dorian:

Next day, Haaris announced that a hurricane is on the way, as he handed me the lead for my laptop. So, we are in the middle of it right now, as I’ve completed this blog post. I’m constantly reminded of my time in Seattle’s ‘storm’ here. But this time, it is happening, and is turning quite nasty. Electricity has gone with the internet. A huge tree fell nearby. (You can see more about it, in my instagram.)

Happy landing in Canada!

Stay blessed my Reader,  hope you all are enjoying life too?

My stress management strategies.

Every family goes through stressful phases in life; We too, have been through our fair share. Recently,  Rammal Mehmud and Sajida Waheed asked me on Facebook to conduct a workshop on my stress management techniques. Since, the workshop cannot be done right now, so I’m doing my next best thing – a blog post.

My stress back ground:

Setbacks faced in last eight months:

  • Financial: Starting with wedding of my batman and cook in Dec. ’18, and Jan. ’19 there was a financial strain on me already. In February, while my one tenant had to leave, repairs had to be done, and loss of rent of the month was faced too. All this cost me double, as the new tenants had to be removed three months later. (Don’t ask me why!) More loss, more repairs.
  • Deaths in my home: End of February, I lost my father and my strength.  So naturally, I had to manage his burial arrangements, and guests. Hardly a month later, my cook Abdul Rahim died. (He had been with me for twenty years, and literally a family member for us).
  • More Emotional setbacks: Dissolution of my youngest daughter’s engagement in Jan.
  • Intellectual challenges: The horror stories of going through the paper work that goes with a death. (Still buried under the last part of it!)
  • Attending to all condolences and guests: While they are a source of great comfort, it can become quite tiring when you have to attend to each person.
  • Settling my mother into a life without her husband for the first time.
  • Helping my daughter and mother in coping, being there for them.
  • My own grief. – Last, but not the least:

My stress coping strategies:

  1. Complete faith. The moment something happens, I say two naffals. I speak with my Allah Mian. Just to let Him know, that as it has come from Him, I’ll take it. He will take care of me through the process. Know that He knows you can cope or Allah wouldn’t have dished it out to you. By now, I know He always does everything for a reason.
  2. Gratitude: In case of death, it just means that a life just got completed. I was deeply grateful for the opportunities to serve my father during his old age. Same with Abdul Rahim, my cook. He came happily to cook at my home, singing as he cooked. He came till the last day before he died. I say, a big Alhamdolillah. I accept that Allah took my father away, before life got more difficult for him.
  3. Be prepared and well organized:  I knew that when the time comes, I’ll have to cope with death of my parent. So, I had already found out what burial arrangements are available for residents of our colony. They have a good graveyard and a smooth system. So, I knew whom I’d have to call for arrangements, and what it would entail. MPCHS has a highly motivated team affiliated with their office and mosque. As far as condolences and guests were concerned, after first week, I kept visiting hours, so when a person asked, I’d ask them to come between these time slots. (Usually, between 5.30 pm and 7.30 pm in evenings, 10.30 am and 11.30 am in mornings.) This was kind on my staff, without spoiling my mother’s routine either.
  4. Take help from sincere people: When the time came, I was helped by army officials and specially Gen. Ghulam Qamar and my cousin Hasan, and Col. Zahid and many others. Everyone got together to share my tasks, and took over most of them. You have to be in Pakistan to know, how our people help each other. I’ve written about that loss here.  
  5. Problem solving: A good meeting with myself first. Sit alone and do it. A writing exercise of all issues with solutions. A page divided in half; headed with Problems on one side, and Solution on other half. So, one by one I write it down, with each solution. Short and crisp.
  6. Shared vision: Once decided, I’ll share it with my family and staff separately, in a crisp meeting. (Remember, they are stressed out also.) Clarify all aspects with each family and staff member. For instance, security is a big issue. Our colony personnel provide a guard at our gate. I gave cash to each staff member to be able to handle any ‘emergency’ food or other requirements. I made sure there was clean drinking water and basic provisions for all. I accepted help of having waiters offered by friends.
  7. Calm and in command: Know that your temperament will set the trend; My enemies had sent me a message that they would like to come over, I said, fine, as long as they do not come to hug me. (Why pretend feelings you don’t have? In private you mean harm, and publicly you behave very loving.  So, no hypocrisy please.) However, they were welcome. One came, and stayed away from me. Others sent me appropriate messages, I replied nicely too. I spoke to their spouses when they called. (I have nothing against them.) I want to improve relations too, yet it has to be candidly done.
  8. Screen out the crooks: I’ve known folks to misappropriate realities and say untrue things on such occasions. Let them know, that my being under stress doesn’t give them allowance to make untrue statements. Thanks to this behavior of mine – I never suffer fools gladly- people are more careful now. It was the same with my Dad, he never let a person get away with hypocritical behavior.
  9. Diligently reply to well-wishers’ messages: No one has free time. If a person is taking the trouble to give your time, writing a message for you in your time of grief, the least you can do is to answer their message. So, you can make a simple reply which you can ‘paste’ on to most messages. This is basic courtesy. Keep a time aside every night or morning to do this, half an hour or twenty minutes can be enough. Also return unanswered calls in the mornings. Write thank you notes to those who went out of their ways for you.
  10. Cut off time and getting help from professionals: Have a cut-off time. Judging by the fact that the iddat period for a widow defines the maximum time for grief which is medically proven. So, around four months is enough. It is vital to get back to normal life. If you still need help, then going to a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor isn’t a bad idea at all. Go ahead and make an appointment and take help.  After all, how long have we got? So better get on with life!

Having said all that, I’d like to add: Don’t forget two factors that can help you recover:

  1. Morale boosting friends.
  2. Activities which help you recover.

1.     Morale boosting friends:

  1. Friends and well-wishers: Make time for them. (Don’t expect those ones to be with you, whom you had helped during their times.) If they are, wonderful. If they aren’t, it is okay.
    1. Notice how much grief they have suffered. Everyone who came for condolences had suffered in their own ways; No one was unscathed. Some came in spite of being cancer patients. I realized, you can just sit and listen to them.
    2. Pray for your well-wishers and yourself. As you pray, say special words for those who gave their time for you. Pray to Allah for their unique problems.
    3. Accept all kind gestures: You would do the same for them if you could. Be a taker at such times, it is all right. Accept offers of help, food, and support. Learn from kind gestures.

2.     Activities which help you recover.

Activities which make you feel better must be continued.  Try to get back to normal routine as soon as possible. Especially not to let happy activities (you can reduce them but not exclude them).

  1. Art classes: I continued with art classes my students Shabnam, Shagufta and Daniyal, kept coming 3.00 pm to 5.00 pm twice a week.
  2. Learning something new: I’ve found Marie Kondo videos on YouTube to help me re-organize my home. It is thrilling. 
  3. Watch videos of dramas you love: MAKE SURE YOU WATCH COMEDIES AND NOT TRAGEDIES.
  4. Get new stuff: I got ‘joy box’ so we all could watch YouTube together.
  5. Get a new pet: My mother and I got a cute puppy which we thought was a cocker spanial. But now we love this little mongrel who is very well behaved. (So far.)
  6. Social work: the twelve marriages, the clothes for CSS school underprivileged children, Old people’s home, and rations for poor people. All these gave me greatest happiness. The process diverted me, gave me something to do. (It was good to know, my brain still works!) It was the best way to use my time. I’d even go late nights for the stuff for the brides. Now, the shop gives me home delivery. So, this is my happiness formula written about in my blog post here.
  7. Home changes: It thrills me to do up my home, so I indulged.

    • Upholstery work: You can see how I transformed my Mum’s room here, and how I did more of the work here. Ayesha Chaudhry insists it changes the spirits in your home by removing old vibes and stains.
    • Plants and flowers: These can transform the vibes instantly!

I’m still healing, you know. Why do I cry that He took him away, why don’t I thank Allah for all the years He blessed me with a father like him? So, I thank Him more. Alhamdolillah!

So here is my answer, Rammal and Sajida.

What do you do? What works for you?

Stay blessed. 🙂

 

 

 

Sleep is vital for vitality.

‘Sweet dreams!’ – They say, that you can only have dreams if you are in deep sleep. 

My sleep was always great. No matter what happened. But during last few years, I go to sleep and wake up every couple of hours. So, I wasn’t getting that straight six hours’ sleep.

As a result, I’ve  developed health issues. I’ve somehow managed to avoid the big knee replacement operation, but  when I sleep well the pain fades away.

Realizing how important sleep is for one’s health; after the loss of my father a few months ago, I made great effort to settle my mother’s room. I wanted her to be able to sleep well. I changed the ambiance of her room so she could find peace and rest. You should do the same with your own room. Make it very pleasant, charming and peaceful.

Sleep – solution to health problems:

You can get out of many health issues through good sleep.  So, whatever health problem you have, first check your sleep patterns. Try to get your sleep in control first, and then see if you still have the problem. Sleep itself  is a ‘treatment’.  There are chemicals of all sorts inside our bodies; these get activated  to heal and repair while we are in deep sleep.   So, it can only happen when we sleep six to eight hours straight.

  1. Cancer cure: Remember my blog post on best cancer video here? Sleep is one of the six points. So, a good sleep can save you from cancer.
  2. Normal weight: It helps in keeping weight as normal. When you sleep well, you do not have those wakeful nights with trips to the ‘fridge.
  3. Helps solve problems: ‘A good nights’ sleep’ is the cure for most problems’. This is what my friend Farzana Ikram would say.   Every problem seems more manageable once you’ve ‘ slept on it.’

How do we lose our sleep?

  1. Purely our own fault. It is our attitude to sleep as if it is a waste of time. Sacrificing our sleep hours at the slightest upheaval. late nights work and  late night meetings. We make commitments by putting aside our bedtimes. If we  are conscious, we will plan according to our sleep times. Making sure we have a ‘cut off time’.
  2. Our phone,  laptops and television sets are  the biggest distraction, before sleep.
  3. It is due to these distractions that during the day while working too,  our work doesn’t get completed on time. As a result, our sleep time gets pushed beyond bedtime.
  4. The social occasions also play havoc, specially weddings. In such cases, be firm. Attend one of the many occasions. I’m telling you, your true friends and relatives will understand, the others really don’t matter. When my children were small, I’d attend the event on  Saturday.   I would inform the host,  I shall not be attending the other events. It is okay. They can invite someone else then.

Tips on how to be well slept:

1.      Control the mind and body:

  1. Saying things like, ‘I cannot do it.’ Instead, say, ‘I can sleep on time, if I try.’
  2. Don’t take agitated thoughts with you to bed. (This is why they say make up with your spouse before sleeping.)
  3. Deal with  ‘to do’ lists earlier, before getting into bed.
  4. Do make sure that you walk or exercise for thirty minutes daily. You can do this five times a week. This will ensure excellent sleep at night.

2. Maintain a bedtime routine:

  1. Help your body clock to work, by sleeping at the same time daily.
  2. Early dinner is essential. In Pakistan, 7.00 or 7.30 pm is a good one. (Then you can watch drama hour from 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm!)
  3. Unwind with family/spouse: Share your days’ events with family members and plans for next day with rest of family.
  4. Avoid any heavy talk or thought. (We had the whole day for that, remember?)
  5. Change your clothes, relax, take a glass of milk or a bowl of yogurt. Say Isha A little ‘me time’ would be great too.
  6. Best is to be in bed by 10.30 latest. Ok, I know, it isn’t possible for many of us to do this. So, make it eleven.
  7. Relax with music, dim lights, scented candles, read your favorite book or magazine.
  8. Prayer timings: Try to sleep on time, so you get your eight hours of sleep and be able to say Fajar prayers. Try to get six hours straight sleep and make up for the other two hours in the afternoon nap, (- if you can afford that luxury. So, the biggest incentive for sleeping earlier is to say Fajar prayers. On the other hand, If you regularly sleep late, then say Tahajjad prayers, before sleeping.
  9. Zikr is the best way to put yourself to sleep. Saying different names of Allah are a great way to fall asleep. You can also try to remember all the Surahs you have memorized. It is a sure shot way to go to sleep. 

3.      Break the routine on weekends:

  1. You can break the routine to sleep late on Friday and Saturday nights otherwise, there is no point.
  2. Try to sleep on time on Sunday night, to start your coming week properly. ( It is a good thing to back out of social commitments of Sunday late nights. )
  3. Many wise Instagram bloggers take a break on weekends.
  4. Keep  phone away:

  1. Specially at bedtime leave the phone in another room.
  2. Specially if it is on charger.
  3. Definitely, do not keep the phone under your pillow or next to your body.
  4. Keep a chit pad nearby to write any ideas that pop into your head.

Ensuring a good sleep:

It doesn’t start at bedtime. It is an attitude and a lifestyle. You need to guard your sleep-time. Simply accept that just as you guard your ‘Keto’ diet and all that, in the same way, guard your sleep, which is an all-inclusive element of health.

Watch your cat, and see how relaxed he is most of the time.Watch the power nap.

Only, yesterday I met someone after some years, and she said, ‘you are looking so fresh!’ I told her, ‘I’m taking care of my sleep hours now.’   I’m telling you, being well slept is the key to all-round well-being.  You will notice how the quality of your physical, emotional, social, intellectual and financial life will improve with it.

Yes, you will stay blessed, if you are well slept.

Note: All photographs taken by author, except the one taken by Nadiya Najib in Seattle, of mine with A. 🙂

Drive into the clouds

Drive into the clouds

All my life, I’ve  loved mountains. When I look at them, my heart skips a beat. I feel so much gratitude, and happiness. Just looking at them, makes me feel happy. The closer I get to them, the happier I get! Is it the same for you too?

Every few weeks I want to be out there in the mountains either driving or walking in its trails.

So, when Danyal asked me to join them this weekend, I was more than thrilled. Of course, I was in the middle of so many things to do, but still managed to go along. As far as I can remember, it was always like that; I’m doing lots of different things. So, it is difficult to untangle ones’ self from them.  They also, know, I’ll do my best to go along, as I really love these trips. God bless them.

It was a real treat; While walking, you happen to come across a fruit laden tree, it is a happy surprise. 🙂

These days, with the Monsoon rains, the greens are lush green. The clouds are heavy and low.

The pipeline trail in Doonga Gali is right next to Ayubia. Yesterday, I went there for the first time. It appears, my daughter Nadiya and Haaris, her husband, have been there when there was snow.

So, the moment we reached, we met everyone and decided to go for the walk on the pipeline trail. Otherwise, after lunch it may get difficult. The weather was perfect as we walked, along the curving trail, all at the same level. As father and son went ahead, I decided to walk back, feeling that it may get too long a walk for me.

I also enjoyed my solitary walk back to the lovely place where they had been staying. I made these few videos for my Instagram and took close ups of butter flies and flowers and the view.

There were these beautiful hydrangeas growing in the place.

We had a delicious lunch and then sat and had a lovely chit chat with rest of their family.

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701471666552775/?type=3&theater

 

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701474723219136/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701460116553930/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701457053220903/2701462249887050/?type=3&theater

 

The treat of Cappacino at the Second Cup, on our way to Doonga Gali, was really good.

You see, everything I wanted, was granted. But then, you also have to make the effort to agree to go. First you wish for something,  then Allah will send you some angels….. 🙂 Cant thank the Haroon family enough!

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701443303222278/2701440983222510/?type=3&theater

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/pcb.2701443303222278/2701442303222378/?type=3&theater

 

https://www.facebook.com/shireen.gheba/videos/2701433283223280/

A childhood filled with butterflies… and now seeing just one or two sporadically. Where did we go wrong? We had large gardens full of flowers. Lots of space for groups of these beautiful God’s creatures going from flower to flower. Large and small butterflies in the most amazing colors and patterns. Will our great grandchildren see them or not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fighter pilot’s beautiful home.

 

 A home in Islamabad built with pride and love.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved interior design magazines, and books. More than that, one loves visiting beautiful homes of friends and acquaintances. It just makes you feel great.

As you know, I’ve been writing on different homes in Islamabad. You can see my previous blog posts here and here.

Love to share Pakistani homes:

I find such pictures of homes in Pakistan, more inspiring as these are made from local materials and by Pakistani architect, contractor and laborers. Totally home spun. A place built with pride, and lots of love.

I met my friend Nabila in 1994 when my husband was posted to Sargodha Base. We had just moved into our house, when Nabila walked in with a beautiful stain glass on mirror wall hanging for me.  In those days she made stain glass miniature paintings on mirrors.  So, our mutual interest in arts was an immediate bonding factor.

Her children are equally talented and doing well in their lives now.

 

Today, I’m taking you to my friend Nabila’s home. We were neighbors, in the year 1998 when we lived in the air force colony in Islamabad.  We’ve known each other for the last twenty four years. Every home of hers held these qualities of grace, beauty and comfort. Now that the couple has built their own home, I asked her, if I could share it with you all, my readers and followers. Happily she agreed.

Nabila’s husband was a fighter pilot in the Pakistan Air Force.  He flew aircraft in the busiest Bases in Pakistan Air Force, including the F-16, When I met them first in 1994, it was in Sargodha Base. Now, they are settled (after retirement) near my home in Islamabad.

So, when I visited her yesterday, I saw many things in her home which I’d always wanted in my own home, especially those brick walls in that color. So, in a way, her home reflected many of my dreams too. It feels good to see someone accomplishing your dreams too!

 

As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy in all states. If one can complete one’s plans, fine. If not, then its fine too, as you have achieved other things which you wanted, in the mean while – yes, my MBA, books and a few more stuff.

So, each one of us makes their home what they want. It is not just the finances, but also the other elements like good planning, management and timing. I know, they waited a long time and worked hard to get to this point in their lives.

What I love most about my friend is her candid responses. She has no false airs and graces. This is something, I find extremely charming and endearing.

Pervaiz Vandal, a prominent Lahore architect said ‘the time spent with your architect communicating your personal requirements, is never wasted. It is the most important.’ How can an architect build your house without knowing what you want? A home is a very personal thing and it needs your personal time and full attention. In fact, the moment you step into a home, you know, how much communication there has been between the architect and the client. Also, how much the whole family was involved in the process.

So, I knew the moment I walked into the home of the AVM and his wife, that here was a house that was well thought out. Each nook and corner, very carefully planned and worked out. Both husband and wife have managed with mutual support and love.

The Exterior :

Frank Lloyed Whright the great architect believed that the house should look as part of its environment. It should look as if it is growing out of it. That is why local materials looks wonderful. Here are some pictures of it.

 

 

The garden:

 

Details in nooks and corners:

 

The philosophy while building a house:

 

In Karachi  I interviewed Aqeel Bilgrami for an article on architecture for Dawn newspaper, he said, ‘while planning you should plan for  ten years, life changes, so planning beyond that isn’t wise..’ Ten years. Now, I can see how right he was!

Even you aren’t who you were ten years ago. How can that same house be fine for the new you? So, just plan for the next ten foreseeable years.

The kitchen.

Special touches in this house:

Spaces have been utilized for easy maintenance and maximum value. The windows have been made to enjoy the views from every vantage point. I love the way the staircases have been made so interesting.

There are no curtains in the entire houses. Instead, there are special wooden Venetian blinds. The other thing I love are the book shelves in most rooms, which is something I love also. Every room was designed to enjoy the view of the mountains, even the stair case. The first floor balcony has a lovely garden where a barbecue has been planned on the terrace nearby.

The brick accents in every room, give a personality and charm to the rooms.

What about you?

So, what do you think? If you are still planning on building your own house, how would you plan your dream home? I’d suggest, make a Ring bound folder scrap book of your dream home. Keep adding your ideas in it. Put in pictures, drawings, and things, it can also be a folder in your laptop. The most important thing is to be  open to fresh ideas.

This house is truly something beautiful that came out of the couple’s efforts. I pray that they find happiness, family strength and peace within it’s walls.

 

Domestic violence

What do you do, when the world’s best relationship turns into the worst?

Suddenly, I feel impelled to write on this topic.

As I write, the Mohsin Abbas Haider and Fatima Sohail case is blazing on our screens.  Yes, this is the ugly side of a toxic relationship. You are getting a demo of how it can end up.

So, how does such toxic situation happen? What could have been done to prevent it? (Believe me, it is very easy to tell others what to do, till one is oneself in such a situation.)

So, we are not being judgmental here. – Just using it as a learning experience, for all those who are in a similar crisis. Many couples are  going through similar situations.  So, this blog post is for them.

Preventive steps:

Your best bet is to keep your relationship as good as it can be for as long as possible. Do all you can to keep it great. However, when a violent act takes place, know that this is the ‘cut-off’ point in the relationship. In Fatima Sohail’s  case, she had been beaten previously too. That is when she should have walked out. Because when a partner hits you – this is the point of no return.

Your smartness lies, in not allowing a relationship to come to that head; if you can help it. The fact is that domestic physical violence always begins with verbal abuse.

Supposing a man is being verbally abusive. So, what you can do is,

  1. Let him know (later on when his mood is better.) Tell him, that you found it hurtful. Give him a chance to apologize. These days the Hum channel. play ‘Khaas’is highlighting this. His constant ‘shaming remarks in front of everyone,’
  2. Successful examples:
  • Jokes at her expense: I personally know a friend whose husband makes jokes at her expense. She always smiles and takes it. (I’d think I’d hate it!) However, her patience is rewarded by the fact that she lives like a queen in her home. He is a loving and giving husband. So, in certain cases, you can let it go, and laugh it off too, if otherwise, he is a good husband.
  • Verbally abusive husband: It is possible, that what you consider verbal abuse may be ‘normal’ in your husband’s family. Yes, I’ve got another friend, whose husband has always used abusive language. He also kept her short on cash all her life. So, when you think about it, the abusive language is ‘normal’ in his family, so he doesn’t mean it badly, just that he is angry, and keeping short in finances is because he has a lot of responsibilities and cannot afford. Understanding this, she chose to ignore this and contributed to her family by her jobs. He was a good father to their children. He was good to her friends and relatives too. She valued his good qualities. In the end, she won by having a loving home for her children, and they all have lived successful lives.
  • Counting his good points: If his good points are more, perhaps you can live with a few bad ones. If he is able to give you what is important for you, then you can overlook. Supposing you’ve invested too much showing patience now, will help you reap the harvest.
  • Have faith. Allah is always there, and something will come out of it. You’ve got to be clear. Whether to stay or to leave should be a well thought out decision on your part. So that you won’t regret walking out on him, later on. (Remember, it won’t be easy out there either.)

Different Types and phases of Domestic violence:

You can get information about these types of domestic violence; check which one you are facing right now:

  1. Passive aggressive behavior: He doesn’t hit you, he doesn’t say anything bad. It is just that he makes sure your life is hell with him. So, there is nothing you can tell others. Hidden agendas here.
  2. Stonewalling: When he treats you as if you don’t exist. He literally looks through you, behaves as if you haven’t spoken or he hasn’t heard you.
  3. Gaslighting: Playing mind games. He is making you believe you are at fault.  It is your fault that he is having to beat you, or be nasty. This is a carefully planned mind game.
  4. Verbal abuse: when he constantly insults you, and your family.
  5. Physical abuse: Yes, and beating too!
  6. Torture: Mental and physical torture. Actually, this is the extreme case!

Know your own threshold:

Each human being is different. While physical domestic violence is unforgivable, the other types depend on you. Can you laugh it off in your own life? Your best bet is when you make it clear to him by your behavior that he isn’t succeeding in what he is trying on you. Let him try. I’ve known women just laughing it off, and managing to find ways to avoid such situations. They are smart. To remain unhurt and pretending to be blind to it all; Till he realizes you aren’t affected, so he stops trying.

There is hope that with time he realizes. Perhaps it is influence of some individual in his life. But he is to blame even then.  You need to be vigilant and aware.

Sometimes, it works to call his bluff, let him know that you are aware of what he is trying to do. You are the best judge of your situation. Please take care of yourself.

What you can do:

  • Carefully, analyze the situation. Keep a journal, so that it can help you keep your sanity. Know what it is first. Only then you will know how to deal with it.
  • Have one confidante or two. Go to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist or spiritual guide. At least he or she can help you analyze the situation properly. Do not go to a person of opposite gender.
  • Concept of communication doesn’t work: Know that the concept of ‘dialog’ or ‘communication’ has been disproven. It invariably takes things totally out of context and on to a different path. Adding more problems. Honestly speaking – do you think a passive aggressive person will accept that he is being that? Or that he is stonewalling you? No! By the way, there are sites online which can regularly send you emails helping you to deal with a passive aggressive partner.
  • Use spiritual strength: Prayers, Tahajjad prayers, ask Him for help and guidance. Mostly, ask for patience and inner strength.
  • See your situation from all aspects: which family member can be of help? What will happen if you take any of the options that you want to take. Can you take the consequences? Are you financially and emotionally strong enough?
  • Carefully check out your situation in both cases, whether you decide to stay or if you leave.
  • Speak to someone your husband respects a lot: He may heed to someone he holds in great regard.
  • If you have children, then know how your decisions will affect your children, in the near and distant future also.
  • Youtube videos on relationships by BK Shivani are amazing. See if they help.

You both can go for counseling together:

  • Though the success rate from counseling alone is not very encouraging. Yet it is worth trying.
  • The fact that you both are going together for it, itself would make a difference.
  • Ask someone to intervene and help.

Never forget the third element- your children:

How will they take it, and how will they be affected? Right now, our society doesn’t help the children cope. In the West, they are way ahead in this. You can have stable children even outside a marriage.

Ask your children and yourself:

Can your children live in this bad marriage?

Would it be better, if you walked out?

Be clear, what you can do, if you walk out?

So, you decided to bail out!

Once decided, be cool and plan well. Involve a few people who are wise, preferably not from either families, or one each from both families. Take things into control. Do, not let domestic violence become the norm by taking it. Move away first. I’ve written about divorce in this blog post here.

Have faith in all situations:

Whether you choose to stay inside or outside the relationship, know that Islam has no problem with divorce. Except that it advises you avoid it, if possible.

Have faith in Allah whether you choose to stay inside or outside the relationship.

I believe very strongly that whatever course you choose to take. Do it with mutual grace, dignity and respect. Remember at all times, that you are talking about the child’s father, or the child’s mother.

Just remember that.

All this media hype will die down. But one fine day, this child will search and find all this information online on YouTube or whatever ‘system’ there is then. How will this child feel about his mother and father?

Just calmly think about it from that silent baby’s point of view. The worst thing is that everyone will be knowing about it too.

Walk away with grace, and take up your life. Some things do not have to be said, they are a silent statement. Yet, they keep a pardah or veil.

As the verse in Quran about marriage partners is: They are a raiment unto each other.

Be that raiment, and protect the other from the public eyes. Whatever happens, forgive, and move on. Do not take domestic violence. Walk out or do whatever you decided.  Let things happen in a way that is respectful and condones towards a peaceful future for both of you.

As far as I can see, a divorce is like a ‘hijrat’ or migration. It is necessary when your functioning as a human being becomes distorted. Therefore, move on with dignity and get to the next step ASAP.

As Dr. Phil says in his book Family First, ask yourself this: is the pain of staying more than the pain of moving away?

Know that in both cases, it is a painful journey. (No, I cannot say ‘Stay blessed’ here!)  But if you aren’t in this situation, You are blessed!

Note: All photographs are courtesy of Waliya Najib Khan.

Promises to myself

Do know, that I’m still fulfilling promises to myself, made several decades ago?

Actually!

This is how long it can takes, if you get too busy elsewhere, living your life.

Two promises:

1.     Help improve lives of poor people:

‘As God is my witness, I’ll make a difference in the lives of these poor people.’ I was nineteen, and witnessing the beating up of a poor man. At that time I was helpless, and unable to stop it. But inside my heart, I made this pledge. You see, it was a ‘crime’ for which the poor man was being beaten. His goat had been caught eating up a newly planted tree.

Most of the time, it is lack of knowledge, or plain ignorance, but then who is to blame for their ignorance? They are so poverty stricken they need help in every way. It is our obligation to raise them out of their ignorance, and provide skills to help them get out of their poverty.

We need to value their contributions in our lives. Especially, if they are so punctual!

Many  wealthy, educated and corrupt people get away Scot-free for such great crimes in this country. So, the justice system is also only for the weak, whether it is women, or poor people. So, I made a pledge, that day – yes, a promise to myself – to be fulfilled. Of course, I did whatever I could, whenever I could. But nothing spectacular.

Currently, the small scale of social work I’m doing is actually– fulfilling that promise to myself, made so many years ago.

2.      Bring Iqbal’s work to the youth:

This promise was made just a few years ago, when I was praying at the tomb of Allama Iqbal.  I felt so small and worthless. So, I promised myself, ‘I’ll use all my capabilities as an artist and writer, to bring Iqbal’s work into the hands of the youth.’

It is my belief that Iqbal’s poetry is great, and we are so small and unworthy. Yet, Iqbal  gives confidence to each one of us, to be the best that we can be, because we are Allah’s creations and our capabilities are awesome. How much of those capabilities are we using? So, as a teacher, writer and artist, I felt I was bound to do the best I can to bring his works into the hands of the youth of our country and the world. It is the best thing which can take us forward.

Just imagine, poetry to change lives. That powerful.

Promises:

We are very concerned with broken promises of others, what about the promises we make to ourselves? If we cannot keep our promises to ourselves, how can we expect others to keep theirs to us?

 

What about you, and your promises?

Did you make any promises to yourself? How well have you fared so far?

This is why, we should be careful with our promises, as we have to keep them.

Pari jab nazar apnay aibon par,

Nazar mein koi bura na raha.

 

(When I looked at my own faults,

Now, no one is faulty in my eyes!)

Stay blessed my dear Reader, Friday is a day to ponder.

 

Girls, Financial Planning is crucial

This subject is very close to my heart.  So, when a follower on Instagram Yumna Sardar  asked me to write on finance, I was thrilled. Dil ki baat kardi jenab!

How I realized my plight:

When I was hit on the head with it!

Actually, all my life, my husband asked me to take interest in his files etc. I’d say, ‘you are there for it!’ (Meaning, ‘why should I bother my pretty little head with it?’ He was more fit than me, and had a great head for numbers. Yes, he remembered every imaginable number  – including number plates of cars under him in his unit! So, I knew I was in competent hands.)

–  So, when he suddenly, died of cancer, I had Rs.1000 only, and literally a thousand bills! That’s how I was hit on the head with it.

  1. Meanwhile, at that time, I was enrolled in my MBA… When I failed twice in my Financial Accounting paper, (finally passing in my third attempt, thanks to Irfan Ahmed, my class fellow.) While I was among the toppers in other subjects, in this subject I failed. So, I’m really talking from experience.
  2.  I was at zero point. My real life was a financial mess too.
  3. I faced the horrific challenges that only total lack of money can bring. Especially at a time, when you need it the most. For instance, husband dying of cancer, and house construction needing finishing touches, and money ‘locked’ by out-laws, and court cases, as cherry on the top! (So, don’t think, ‘how does she know?’ Believe me, I know! )

Law of the Worlds:

  1. Very early on, I learnt, that you get exploited by others, when they know you lack funds.
  2. You get marginalized by society, people downplay  your efforts in all fields.
  3. People believe they can take what is yours, because you can’t defend yourself, or your things.

So, how did I survive?

  1. My faith in Allah never wavered. I was sure He had chosen me for better times, this was the ‘exercise’ part of it. So, I remained firm. I was able to smile, and laugh – something my Waliya taught me –  I knew I was in the Best Hands, anyways. (Yes, I cried in private while praying to Him.)
  2. The moment the ground started slipping from under my feet, I looked up at Him. I made a pact with Him, I’ll ask no one for help except Him. So, He did.
  3. You must be wondering why my parents didn’t help. My dad was going through a financial crisis of his own, that’s why.
  4. Also, I was too proud to ask anyone for help. I believe, that after eighteen years of age, we have to manage for ourselves. Our parents have already done enough for us.
  5. My family, close friends and total strangers, were like His angels in plain clothing. They helped me from sources I could never have imagined. Total strangers came out of the blue helping me in ways, I’d never thought possible.

Learn Finances properly:

  1. My travel bags have been heavy due to books: My trips to USA had me reading about finances. (I was already realizing how weak I was.) So when the crisis hit me, I was able to make sound decisions at the right times.  I used to laugh at myself for choosing these books when I hadn’t a penny. But I went ahead, because my heart felt like it. Only Allah knew how much I needed this information.
  2. Grab and read all about finance, anything you can digest : Read: Suzie Ormans’ books, as many as you can get your hands on. Specially her latest ones. One of her best is Women and Money. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is amazing, and you need to read it several times to digest it fully.  Napolean Hill’s Grow Rich with peace of mind, is the sum total of this millionaires’ life lessons on money. (It is pretty much the Islamic methodology of it, i.e. to not gain it through exploitation of others, or through games of chance, to use it to serve people, and get it through serving people too.)
  3. Watch videos on YouTube about these books, if reading is a strain, watch videos on the subject. Study Financial Accounting and other such subjects, and see how you can apply the principles in your own life.
  4. Listen to podcasts on the subject. (You can get Suzie Orman’s also!) I’ve watched amazing weekly programs on television in USA of this brilliant expert, who can help you at all levels. She says, that you need to spend an hour daily in sorting out your finances.
  5. Attend workshops on finance, even if you can’t understand much, one day you will.
  6. Pinpoint your own bad habits: You must know why you got where you are, by taking full responsibility.
  7. Learn from your tough times. If you don’t do it, and sit comfortable by blaming others and society, then you will never learn, or improve.

My Principles of Finance:

So, Napolean Hill became a millionaire three times in his life. His block buster book Think and Grow Rich made many millionaires too. However, when he found many of them unhappy on their death beds, without family or friends, lonely.  He realized that acquiring money is worthless, without peace of mind. That is when in his nineties, he wrote the book Grow Rich with Peace of Mind, with over seventy years of experience with money.

Halal and honestly gained money:

No compromise on that. None. You know when a thing is haram, when it is acquired by lying and cheating others, or when you are taking what does not belong to you. So, keep it legal and honestly earned. Never compromise on principles. Never.

Interest free money:

You can say what you like, I’ve faced the worst financial crisis but never went back to interest based banking. I don’t regret it.  I used to keep interest based banking, when I didn’t understand the verses in Quran about it. Afterwards I said my ‘toba’.  All subsequent accounts  opened have been current, at all levels. In fact recently, I went and closed the ‘savings account’ too. Call me stupid, but this is something between me and my God. He has clearly said, that usury is haram, while profit is halal. Even while living abroad or in other countries, you have the option of having a current account.

Success stories:

Shabnam (name changed for privacy)  had been gifted with a National Saving Center saving account benefit of a sizable sum by her parents. However, not believing in interest based investments; she moved the cash out and bought a small plot from it. Her investment has already doubled in value within four years.  Now, she was informed, that this National Savings and Behbood isn’t haram, however, her intent was to keep her investment as halal  and interest-free as possible.

I know another case in USA where a person named Saad, didn’t buy a property due to the heavy mortgages involved. He lived in rented apartments. When the famous financial crisis occurred, he was among the few who weren’t affected.

Why not interest?

  • I’ve watched my parents suffer when they took a loan from the bank of Rs. 300,000/- and that compounded into Rs.15,00,000/- When my father didn’t have sufficient money to build his house in Lahore. I know the prices they paid for it, and the ones’ I’ve paid for it. It isn’t fair to exploit people who are in a weak financial position. But then, it is your own choice whether to take it or not.
  • A person working in London, in a call center providing loans has informed me of how much exploitation is done of persons who are already facing financial crisis.

How to survive financially:

Earn your money :

 

Yes, do a job, from home, or in an office. Have a lifestyle in which you are busy serving others (through your work), staying busy, and having that extra cash to save too. If your pay isn’t that good, have an extra source of income, or keep committees. Control your family and your own spending habits.

Save your money:

Do not waste it, but save it: You need to save first, and then spend the rest of the month on the rest of the money after savings. When you save it, keep it out of your own reach also. Like many people join committees – which is an excellent way to save – and then reinvest it in something else, like shares, or even property. When you get the amount, use it wisely, you haven’t saved all year, and sacrificed to splash it wrongly, ending up again at zero point.

Lead a debt-free life:

Make a pact with yourself to never get into debt. If you have to, then return asap. Make it your priority to return immediately. This applies to whether you borrow from friends, relatives or from a bank. Just leave all else, and return asap.

Enjoy your money:

In fact it is the money which you have used, which is yours. The rest may never be yours anyway. But let’s say, get what you can’t get normally from your extra  earnings. In my case, it was gifts, books, travel, and outings with family and friends. Also, I loved getting things to beautify the home, like plants, carpets, curtains or lamps.

Fight for equal financial rights for girls:

  1. Disparity in pay scales: Realize the fact that today, women do not receive the same pays as men in any department for the same work.
  2. Property ownership: This is mostly avoided, or totally ignored.
  3. Inheritance laws are distorted: The fact is that the larger share for males is solely for the added responsibility on them for caring of females in their family, for life; which means to provide food, clothing, education and shelter to the women in the family, specially widows, divorcees and orphans. This aspect is completely ignored by most men today, which is extremely un-Islamic, while the part of usurping her property is followed diligently.
  4. The point to note here is, that if Shariya Law is important, which it is, then it must be followed in totality. All the rest of the  Shariya laws also must be followed first; Especially, cutting of hands for thieves (and corrupt persons – which is theft of the worst kind), capital punishment for murderers, kidnappers and rapists, and lashes for adulterers. Till all that isn’t implemented also, the inheritance law must be done with ijtehad and the portions should be equal for all. This is suggested, because women have to fend for themselves in today’s world. Almost no man is taking care of the women in his family, as per Islamic responsibility.  A bill needs to be passed for this immediately till the rest of the shariya laws aren’t implemented too.   The present scenario is totally unfair to women, in letter and in spirit of Islam. The present interpretation has weakened women financially. In original Islamic times, Muslim women were the strongest.
  5. Remember, when you will entrust your rights and control to others, you are bound to suffer. That is what you are doing girls, so wake up.

Invest your savings:

Knowing the state of affairs in present world, and especially in Pakistan, women need to be even more aware of the importance of taking control of their financial planning. Here is where you’ll get tips from Suzie Orman and Robert (of Rich Dad, Poor Dad fame) about how to invest it. Best is to invest in property and live on rents. So, your main investment is safe and you are living on the above stuff.

Charity percentage:

So, give a percentage, that makes it easier to calculate. Give zakat first, and then sadqa too, as and when required, preferably 10 % and least 2.5 %. I’ve heard, that Jews, give 10 % , no wonder they are so rich!

My message to girls:

  1. You have to prove to your man, that you are capable of handling finances.
  2. Show your competence in other matters of the household.
  3. Know your rights and your duties.
  4. Speak up when your brothers are trying to swindle you out of your share of inherited property.
  5. If you aren’t good at Financial Planning, get better. Do indulge in committees and savings.

Message for men:

  1. Help your women understand the fundamentals of finances.
  2. Trust your wife, mother or sisters in financial planning. Let them participate with the workings. Let them do some of your work too. It will lighten your burden too. This will give them a better idea.
  3. Be transparent about your financial investments. So they know where they stand.
  4. Know that whatever Allah has ordained for them, they will have anyway. Isn’t it better if it comes to them with your name to it?
  5. Be just and fair with your wife, sister and mother, and family members, specially while dealing with inherited property. To keep your property joint with your wife.

So, tell me were these points useful for you? Yes, you knew most of them anyways, but didn’t realize how important they are, for our own well being. Also, you can support your husband achieve your mutual financial goals. Just as he can support you with your goals. Do you have any planning ideas? Do share with me in your comments.

If you follow the above points, you will stay blessed in so many ways. 🙂

Note: All photos provided by author, except last one by Waliya Najib Khan, and one provided by Nadiya Najib.

 

Solving traumatic ‘office procedures.’

– Sorting ourselves out and helping the offices out of their ML and DFM work ethics. 

Life is so very short. We all have so much to do, before we leave this world. (I’ve just returned from the funeral of a person known to me. She died suddenly, last night. She was fine.) So, is it fair to prolong simple jobs for the public, due to inefficient methods, or prehistoric ‘systems’ ?

No, it isn’t!

We’ve got to find ways to make systems efficient, so the work is completed within shortest time.

It can be done, through our collective power of intentions.

If by any happy chance, you are working at any of the offices of Government or private,

where there are ‘procedures’ and ‘rules’. Then,  please read this blog post with an open heart. Know that and your efforts (in the form of reduction of steps-to-get-a-job-done for your client,)  may help you too, in the end.

End??? Oops!

First, correct your own faulty papers:

We need to look at ourselves first. Many of us have faulty papers in hand, which we ourselves know that these have to be corrected. The NADRA CNIC cards of most persons were filled, with many mistakes. When we read, we realized many things were not correct. Or with time, these became incorrect because we moved houses, or cities.

My husband and I had gone for a correction to the NADRA office in Rawalpindi once.  On visiting the office, we found out that Waliya was written down as son, Wali. So, we corrected that. Similarly there were many more mistakes, like place of birth, names of family members etc. When we change address, we have to get it corrected in the CNIC card also.

When I protested to the management, about the lengthy processes, he said, ‘you all had these cards for so many years, why didn’t you get it corrected earlier?’ He was so right!

Realize, it is for your benefit:

Try to be as patient and cool headed as possible, during the process. Be methodical, and take your bottle of water, chewing gums, goodies, in purse.

Give yourself a treat, at every step. – Yes, celebrate!

When I was furious, at the time of going to pick up my mother’s corrected CNIC card, I told the person in charge , I’m going to write a blog post on this!’

He  said,’ I’m only doing it to secure it for your mother! Please appreciate that.’ Yes, he was right. Finally, he agreed to talk to my mother on video call and get her permission to let me collect her card – this is what I mean by using modern methods -I  had also put the FRC (Family registration certificate with pictures, in front of him.) So, he could recognize my mother properly. I told him, it is difficult for her to come, every time. So, he agreed. So, try to see the problem from their position also.

Maybe they are just doing their job!

Present conditions:

Right now, in every office you visit; you will find two types of works going on.

  1. The ‘good’: smooth, efficient work methods and ethics being followed.
  2. The ‘bad and the ugly’: too many complicated ‘methods’ and ‘rules’.

Yes, in many lucky cases, the process is smooth, and free from unexpected and horrifying hassles. Your work gets done almost immediately.

If you are veryyyyy lucky! (One of the officers confessed, that if I do this work on same day, I’ll be asked by the audit team, why I completed it so quickly?)

Otherwise,  the personnel at every office, are combining old and new ways to torture their client (that’s you,) by asking for all types of attestations, affidavits, ‘ishtamp’ papers, and whatever else methods of torture they can think of. – Especially when you are aggrieved, hassled and driven through courts by your beloved outlaws.

In short the ML and DFM treatment.

What are ML and DFM procedures?

ML : in Punjabi language there is a terminology of saying maghron laiye this means that you should ‘get off our head’! So, they send you off on another wild goose chase.

DFM: Another technical term in Punjabi: Dhur fittay moon! I doubt if there is a parallel to this term, which means in brief, ‘to hell with you!’!

My message in a nutshell:

If you are working in any of the organizations, please…. Just sit down for a few minutes, and look over what you are doing to your clients. You can:

  1. SIMPLIFY rather than to COMPLICATE the procedures.
  2. Give exemplary punishments to the criminals that try to mess with your systems in office and publicize these cases.
  3. DO NOT PUNISH INNOCENT PEOPLE FOR CRIMES COMMITTED BY CRIMINALS. Most of the criminals have got away with it, and you are busy punishing the innocents.
  4. Also know, that no one from outside can do a criminal act without help from an ‘insider’. So, when found out, again an exemplary punishment is vital, and the person must be made an example for rest of staff of that organization.

In short, for the crimes of about 5 % of your clients, you are punishing 95 % of your clients!

Distorted ‘justice system’ – by punishing the innocents:

I remember, that once in the PAF Officer’s Mess, (a long time ago.) it was found out that the person in charge was swindling the cash. So, he was posted out, while everyone there, was asked for extra funds in Mess Bills to adjust the mismanaged finances!!!

Masha Allah!  This is our sense of justice.

Here, Nawaz Sharif, Zardari and their clans swindle the country, and everyone else has to pay for it.

Correct justice system:

The correct way is to catch the criminal and make him pay for all the extra expenses that he swindled or incurred.  In Pakistan, the system of justice is to punish the innocent – while the crooks get away scot free.

Wait a minute!

It is so, the world over.

If you just look at the visa’s applications, they have become so grueling; It is for the same reasons. Everyone is paying for the crimes of a few. But in some ways, they have become very technically updated and upgraded.

We are mostly in the stone age!

Solution:

  1. Have grueling punishments for those who do things wrongly.
  2. Facilitate the good guys.

In a school where I worked, we had a very good administrator. But when it came to the results of the classes, she wanted us teachers to have the results of each class handwritten three times. (I was teaching English to five classes then!) So, I suggested, we write one, and have three photocopies of it, for each class. She said, ‘no, it all has to be handwritten three times!’ I was ready to fight it out, till the Math teacher, (God bless him,) opted to write them three times each for me. Why!!???

Simplify, get real. Be in the 21st century!

My proposals for procedures:

Check out all present ‘rules and procedures’:

 

  1. Keep the process brief and crisp. Do away with affidavits, stamp papers and attestations, and specially grade 17 Magistrate signatures.
  2. Ask yourself, is the rule still applicable?
  3. Are there simpler alternatives? How can we reduce these procedures to a minimum?

Before making any new rules/procedures:

Find out:

  1. Firstly, which previous ‘rule’ will the new one replace?
  2. How effective can this be, for how many? (Is it necessary?)
  3. Use latest technology to have effective ways to resolve issues. Can this be done online?
  4. Death certificate: Hospital document, should be enough for NADRA to discontinue the CNIC card, and allot the death certificate, why should one have to go to the Union Council also?
  5. Pension: Death certificate and CNIC card of nominee: it is written there if she is wife. That is all that is needed.

To make my point clear:

If the present rules were so great, why is there so much crime today? – Because, my dears, most of the crime takes place with help and direction an insider from the organization. So, in fact, they have to improve their own induction processes, and human resource management.  

Five benefits of simplified ‘procedures’:

  1. Everyone will follow the rules and procedures. The lessor steps there are, the more people will follow it. The same applies to income tax procedures too.
  2. There will be less crime.
  3. Since each ‘application’ process will take lessor time, more work will be achieved in lessor time. Hence the pressure in offices will decrease. The’ flow’ will be fast and efficient.
  4. More work will get done in everyone’s personal lives too.
  5. Better work done, at all levels due to less disillusionment, frustration and hopelessness.

A fresh mindset is the answer. The citizen of Pakistan must get priority. We all have better things to do, than to run round and round the Mulberry bush for sorting out crazy, obsolete and irrelevant ‘procedures’ of almost all offices.

As Ashfaque Ahmed would always say,

Allah ap ko asaaniyan bantnay wala banaye! May you be able to make life easier for others.

Make this happen in your own place of power, and stay blessed. 🙂

Note: All photographs are taken by author, except the one of Ashfaque Ahmad, which was taken from internet. All the  quotations were taken from internet also.