The Rain Water Conservation Project

Do, I have to emphasize why we need to conserve rain water? This is why:

To save rain water is to save lives. When the water goes splashing out of your house, it gets wasted by flooding the roads and gutters. Just think, if every house conserved all that rain water which falls on it, none will go flooding the roads, so nor will it get wasted, nor will it endanger lives. Saving rain water will have a great impact on the environment. You will have plenty of free extra water to wash those curtains and carpets and what not, later on!

As I wrote my blog on rain water conservation last week: Rain water control, tree plantation, elections and my life. I got very excited; I had already worked out how I’d be doing it at my house. The meeting with my plumber had already taken place. It was easy, as he worked on my house during construction. So, he went and noted the outlet pipe which would be used for conserving the rain water.

‘Why not close the other outlets on the roof?’ I asked him.

‘That would be very dangerous for the roof.’ He said.  The main sloping of the roof had been done having most of the water going in one direction. So, that is where we placed the blue drum container, over the ledge which, he assured me, can take the weight of it. We wanted to place the container below the roof level, yet above ground level, with an outlet leading it to a tap placed two feet above ground level. Now, this water can be used as we like; for watering our plants, washing the car, or whatever else etc.

So, here is this project, so you can do it too. For me the initial project cost Rs.20,000/- ($ 2000) with best materials. It is a simple and doable design. In the next phase I’ll do the same for the two terraces.

Steps to take:

  1. Analysis situation:
    • Know, how much rain you are expecting, choose size of container accordingly. Use the quality which is best. So, it is long lasting and won’t buckle up under the hot sun, and rain lashings and storms. The one with a thickest container wall material.
    • What will you use the water for? Choose a place closest to it. For instance if you want to do car washing and lawn water, then let it be near the front porch.
    • Have all options open to you first. Not a bad idea to ask more than one consultants. But the best one is to have a good plumber who knows his job well. Implementation has to be good.
    • If the water is clean: take it back into your water tank, (if you don’t use it as drinking water, of course!)
  2. Break the rain water project into phases:
    • Phase one: So, this which I’ve used is for lawn, plants, and pets’ water requirements, and to wash the side area of the house.
    • Phase two: will be upstairs terraces, one and two. So, these will need two smaller containers for each one, later on.
    • Phase three: Preparing a small dip in the lawn so all the water gets contained within.
  3. More water conservations options:
    • Connect all AC outlets of water pipes into containers. In Karachi, I’ve filled a tub with water to use to wash my children’s clothes. This water is clean and can be used for drinking, as well as for car and UPS batteries.
    • Connect wash basin outlet with WC, so it is used for flushing.
    • The kitchen sink water can be used for garden.
    • Be conscious of water wastage while showering, tooth brushing and face washing. Close the tap in between usage, every time.

Equipment: Container for water, PVC pipes, tap, drill etc. All these will be suggested by the plumber, and he can buy them for you.

Let’s talk money! So, how much would this project cost? Well, an advertisement I had found and shared on my page offered to do it all for Rs. 80,000/- Mine was completed within Rs.20,000/- He didn’t charge for consultation as he is my plumber for many years.

During construction of your house, do remember to slope the entire roof towards one direction nearest to the underground water tank.

Time: Three days!

First day: consultation, planning with measurements,

Second day: getting equipment.

Third day: Implementation of plan.

Note: the work of first two days can be done on same day, or the second and third day. But this is the most time, it would take.

That’s it!

Just imagine, if every house in the cities, holds the rain water within its premises, then how much flooding would take place?

Do take charge, and implement this plan. Rather than sit and blame others, and expecting the government to do something about it, do something yourself. It is our country, our city and our community which we have to save along with our own home!

Note: If you like, my team at Shireen’s Studio on Facebook can do it for you if you are in Islamabad; you can inbox on the page, or here. I know you are brilliant enough to do it yourself. So my dear one, do it and show me pictures of it, I’ll add it in my upcoming posts.

Special thought: We can  offer such projects for schools for the under -privileged children also. As we can see here, so much rain water gets wasted every time. If we do this for all buildings,  we can use it for the benefit of children and maintenance of the establishment also.

Its  just a matter of getting together and seeing  how else we can use this water and technique. As I write, last night there was so much rain that this water tank you see, got full. Now, I’m thinking I need another reservoir tank below it to conserve its’ over-flow also,  (see that broad water pipe? It flows out from here.) Suddenly, I’ve got a lot of water to use for my plants and different uses in and around the house!

Special note: All photographs have been taken by author.



Blessings of Domestic Help.

Domestic help in Pakistan, and this region (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Gulf States,) are a point of discussion all round. This is so because they are an integral part of our lives. Like them or not, we can’t live without them. Driver, servant, maid, gardener, cleaning maid, cook, guard – you name it we have it. If not many, almost everyone has at least one who does it all.

Most of my married life, I’ve kept part-time help, as I find them less nerve wracking and easier on the pocket. When there is no help, I declare, ‘we are living abroad!’. All of us put on full blast music wherever we are in the house and enjoy while we work. So, it’s ok. Presently, God has been very kind, more so due to my parents, who have become so old and weak that I need twenty-four hour help taking care of them.

Continue reading “Blessings of Domestic Help.”

Eid Preparations’ check list.


No matter how well organized you are, Eid comes as a bit of a surprise. As I write, Eid hasn’t been announced even at 11.00 pm Pakistan time, on June 14th,2018. So, obviously, Eid won’t be on fifteenth June here.

A couple of hours ago, as I was busy doing up the home for my last minute preparations for Eid. I thought why not share this experience with you? I just love doing up the home for Eid. Here is a checklist:

1. Clean house properly. I’m sure you have checked the house from inside out. Got every room properly cleaned. Specially the fans. Made the gardener prune the plants. Shifted the indoor and outdoor plants a little. Removed all burnt out leaves and got the place fully cleaned.

2. The clothes are all ready and hanging in the cupboards. You must have done them up two days ago. Yes, couldn’t get the right shoes, but there are so many in the cupboard, I’m sure at least one pair will do fine. Check out the accessories, handbag, perfumes etc.

3. Food is the main concern: So, the menu has to be good enough for snacks and a meal, if some guests decide to stay, because you can’t resist insisting! Haleem is a good one, as it goes for a snack as well as a meal. As far as proper lunch is concerned, I love Chinese food, as it is light. Hope you got it ready or can get home delivery.

Check out from the restaurant, if they do home delivery. Otherwise, a good old pizza is also good enough! Just be kind to yourself and avoid last minute cooking and being in a hot kitchen. Fresh fruits are the best, as these are healthy and wonderful. If there are lots of guests in house and more are expected, then something wholesome like biryani, karahi or haleem would be good. Please be practical. Please do not insist on people having the food if they don’t want to.

4. A touch of panache: Tea-candles, sparkly lights, and lots of plants and flowers everywhere, really make a festive look. If you don’t have enough fresh flowers, put some artificial flowers into the different arrangements. So, your one bouquet of flowers can go a long way, if you use it smartly.

5. Set your own mood first: I know you are a bit nervous, wondering if the food will be enough, if the house is looking okay or not, perhaps angry with your tailor for messing up your clothes a bit. No one will notice if you keep that blazing smile of yours full on. You were too busy with your job/activities/praying and taravia routine/ daura-e-Quran/ social work. Now, with Eid on one’s head, only one day to go you are wondering where to start. Set the mood of yourself and your home in order. It is time to relax and enjoy it all.

6. Visiting list: Do visit all those family members or friends who lost a family member during last few months. So, this is their first Eid. You can start your visiting session from their home. Also, if there is a person who is alone, because his or her children are abroad, or has some problem, you can invite the person over for lunch. In short, be kind to someone.

7. Gifts: Getting nice gifts for family members with cards is a very good gesture. No matter how much you can afford or be able to do for them, it is the thought that counts. Have nice games, and favorite dishes cooked so everyone feels loved and happy.

8. Sharing joys of Eid: I’m sure you gave new clothes to all your staff, and also to others in your community. Keep things within limits. Do not get pestered by bullying beggars and staff members. Remember, the ones who are silent, may be in greater need.

9. Be kind to your staff: If you are lucky enough to have them with you, plan in such a way, that they are not put through too much stress. Ease the systems in your home. Have self-help table arranged, so everyone just helps themselves. When you go visiting, let them have leave, so they too can go visiting. Lock up the house, put on your alarm system.

10. Texting and phoning loved ones and acquaintances: Try to call your close friends and relatives, if possible. Send a text if it is inevitable. Preparing a special text which you can share them with almost everyone is a good way to manage.

11. No phone: Please give more attention to your loved ones sitting next to you. Put that phone aside, and have eye contact while talking to your friends who have come all the way to meet you, rather than with your phone!

12. Have a blessed Eid: Do say the Eid prayers in the mosque or at home. Make it a special Eid, life is too short to be wasted, sleeping it out. Eid Mubarak!

Note: Photographs by author of house of Haroon and Uzma, and her own home.




“You should write a blog on tenants!” my friend Nigar Nazar said, “Everyone has problems with them, and you are having such a good time.. You MUST write about it.” Ok, Nigar, I’m writing ……

Actually, I had told her how sad I was when my tenants were leaving, and how sad they were. It was the same when I mentioned my good terms with tenants to my property dealers. One of them said, “This is the first time I’ve heard this.”

Let’s see the principles and values behind business: Our Holy Prophet Muhammad was a businessman and very successful at it. It was because he was honest and kept the well-being of the buyer at heart always. Peter Drucker the great Management Guru has always said that “business is a service, first.”

The next principle is of ‘nip the evil in the bud’ devised by Shireen Gheba, which means to avoid a bigger ‘evil’ deal with the smaller one on time. When one of my tenants did not repair the kitchen tap costing Rs.1500, I ended up having to repair consequential damages worth Rs.10,000 instead! So, a small repair of  Rs.1500  would have been more than welcome.

Continue reading “Tenants!”

Mount Everest in my Home.

Collection of items to be looked into ‘later’….

“Oh my God!” whatever I do, there is this pile of papers that need to be seen in my ‘minimalistic’ room, spoiling the whole impact. I hate it!

It is like a Mount Everest for me.

Mount Everest has become a symbol of surmounting an impossible task. Anyone who has climbed it, must be extraordinary.

Well, in my humble home, there is a ‘Mount Everest’ developing on different points. I wonder if you have them sprouting out in your home too?

Let me define my ‘Mount Everest’…. It is made up all those pieces of papers that one places on a table … ‘I’ll deal with it later.’

“Right now, I have to dash, I’ll deal with it tomorrow.” I think.

Then another piece of paper lands on top of this one, (this time it was the bill.) On top of that is the letter, which is a very important one – the one I was waiting for. I’ve got to read it properly. Then the receipts for the shopping I did, I want to write down in my ‘accounting ‘ note book.

Yes, by now, my ‘mountain’  is at least ten inches tall and counting …. Now, it is beginning to tilt. So, I try to change its material to stabilize it.

In the kitchen, there are cupboards or a part of the top of the counters, which my staff uses to put the stuff they don’t use normally. That too keeps getting  filled up. “I’ll deal with it next week!” I think.

Like “tomorrow”, “next week” doesn’t come either!

Outside in the garden, the gardener has a pile on the side of my house, with the empty flowerpots, and collection of things which one hasn’t the heart to throw. Yet, its time has gone. On the other side, where the clothes are put out for drying, I’ll find all sorts of things lying near by.

Today, I have to deal with my ‘mount Everest’ – so I write an article on it.-  Instead of dealing with it. I’ll do anything, than to have to deal with all that stuff, which will take hours, because I just can’t seem to throw away stuff!

A PIECE OF WORK EXPANDS TO THE TIME ALLOTTED TO IT. I’ve decided to allot ten minutes to it today.

How is it with you? My dear Reader? Does this make sense to you? Or is it just me?

Well, I was reading about it once. The trick lies in ‘nipping the evil in the bud’.  So, deal with papers as they come. Here are a few points I’m refreshing in my mind:

  1. The pamphlets of ads should be glanced through right then, and ‘kept or torn and thrown right then.
  2. Have a file, or basket in your room in one corner for things to be dealt with later. Put that basket nearby while watching a movie or drama in the evening. Check these out during the ads.
  3. ‘A place for everything and everything  in its place.’ –  The ‘place’ needs to be easy to reach too.
  4. Have a time slot in the week to deal with ‘miscellaneous stuff’ and ‘minor things’ when you deal with all such things which cannot be done otherwise. How does Thursday sound?
  5. Make methods and systems easier to deal with.
  6. Have a time limit: put on three songs during which you have to complete this task.

Ok, let’s get started RIGHT NOW!

Best of luck!!! –Ten minutes should be enough!


Stay blessed 🙂









Facing car maintenance problems!

Daniyal’s workshop: GT Garage in E-11 Northern Strip, Islamabad.


I had opted to drop my friend Zeni, we were on 9th Ave, on our way to F-11 and E-11. She was admiring my car, and I proudly told her, it has driven over 250,000 km. She couldn’t believe it. I told her, that 1,50,000 km was driven by myself. The moment I finished bragging, the car slowed down, and I managed to pull it to the side.

Yes. It stopped.

Nothing was working. I had the jump start lead. I wondered whether to ask someone. But I could see that battery was fine. The windows were going up and down. The dashboard lights were fine.


Zeni called her son Zain, who said he’ll just come bringing his mechanic. I called Daniyal of GT Garage, who looks after my daughters and my cars. He said “I’m in Rawalpindi now, but I’ll send my chaps.” When I explained what had happened, he diagnosed on the phone, that there was some problem with the petrol reaching the engine. So, he said “I’ll ask my men to bring the pipes needed. I’ll send you the number, just explain to them where you are.”

The man couldn’t understand our lingo on the mobile phone. For the first time I realized how difficult it is to communicate with an uneducated person who speaks a colloquial language. When I told him, we are near the f-9 park, (he didn’t get it – in their lifestyle, you don’t’ go to parks!) When I told him ‘near air force colony’, he said “airport? Ok I’m coming!” When I said “9th Avenue” he said “ok,” but later told me he is at the Metro station, and he can’t see me! Oh my God. (Later, Daniyal told me that 9th Ave. to them means ‘Peshawar Mor’ which used to be a large stop for buses and wagons.) No wonder Daniyal was planning to leave the country! How can you communicate with such workers? Then when they finally arrived, with a bearded police man following after them to help also, I looked at that scroungy looking young lad, and thought, “oh God, he is going to work on my sophisticated Toyota Altis?” But I had to trust Daniyals’ judgment.

The two men found out immediately, that Daniyals’ diagnosis was right. The petrol wasn’t reaching the engine. Immediately the men removed the back seat, and looked at the ‘pump’ there. Soon one of them was sent off to get a new pump.

Zain had arrived with his friend. Zeni said “why don’t you come along with me? Zain will settle everything.” I declined. I asked her to go, as she was to drive her husband to the airport in a while. “I would rather stay here.” I insisted. Zain and I waited in the heat, and chatted about his ACCA completion and prospects in CA and future projects. He explained to me the app he and his friends are trying to complete these days for people to be able to reach the right doc at the right time. That would be cool. He said it is almost done. Now, except for a few hitches. (And I thought, the same app could work for universities, schools, and now even workshops!)

The men were working diligently. Soon, Daniyal arrived on a Corolla, with his friends. “Why don’t you get dropped at home, I’ll take care of the car from here onwards.” He said. I nodded. He is our main rescuer. Whenever, my daughters, or my car has a problem, he has done the needful. I trusted him. So I agreed.

Zain and I happily sat in the air conditioned car, and left Daniyal to sort out the problem with his two helpers. It was 38 degrees Centigrade and not pleasant at all.

We were dropped at our homes, and Omair the new ‘partner’ with Daniyal informed me that Daniyal is planning to go to Dubai for some higher qualification. He already has a degree in Automobiles.

Later, while resting at home, I remembered the Chinese food I had forgotten in the boot of my car. I called Daniyal. “I’ll get it dropped at your place!” was his response. I said, “it is ok, I’d be happy if you have it.”  He then confessed that he hadn’t had his lunch today either! I felt so guilty. It was past six pm by then.

“Mum, here are the car keys.” Waliya came to give them to me. It was 11.30 pm. He had dropped the car at my home!

God bless men like Daniyal who are there to help us. Friends like Zeni and her son Zain, each giving me company, comfort and every possible help.

Daniyal came over for a while, he told me his garage opened in May 2014. It started with Ali as a partner, however, the partners kept changing. He has a degree in Automotive engineering from International Islamic University. The batch of fifteen students had good professors: Dr. Abdul Qadeer, Professor Zaidi, and Ali Khanzada. Most of them went abroad, working in other fields. Daniyal and his friend Ali were the only ones who pursued this field.

Recently he has got a job offer from Audi, in Dubai. He’ll be going there, and his partner Omair will be helping him run the garage in his absence. Omair is a specialist in sports cars, so he will be handling them. Another person Zahid is in charge of our every day issues in our cars. So, there is a game plan and qualified men to handle them. Danyal will also be in the picture –literally –  through skype. Daniyal’s gaining knowledge in latest technology and cars should be of help here too. So far, they have handled issues in BMW, Pejeros, Toyotas, Audi and other cars.

Daniyal faced many hurdles in his two years of running this garage. In Pakistan, things are extra difficult. Right now, he is choosing to go for greener pastures (!) in Dubai. However, he hasn’t cut his ties with his green pastures at home either.

I felt happy that I saw his garage one day, as I was looking for a spot to paint near my favourite Margalla hills.

This is one glimpse of my life, my dear readers. This is the life in Pakistan that I have, which I wouldn’t give up for the world.

Stay blessed, my dear reader – Just as I am – Alhamdolillah!

PS: Link for the garage on Facebook: