Blogs (87)


What do you say?

Bumped into a man busy on mobile. Extremely agitated, asked for an apology. He looked at me, then hard at my mobile. Walked away.

Found him rude. Later as over a cup of green tea, celebrated Pakistan cricket team victory realised I was at fault!

I was so engrossed following the cricket match score on Twitter that was oblivious to the world. I had bumped into him, not him into me.

It happens all the time! People on mobiles bumping and maybe getting run over!

A few months back, was the victim of a man’s temper loss. I was telling family and friends back home how the man was refusing to settle in his seat on plane, making me agitated. On Whatsapp as I chatted, the man continued standing up, sitting down, hitting his head, saying something. I thought he was just creating a scene which he was not.

He was terrified that due to my never ending mobile usage, the plane would not take off!

I only came to know when he started shouting and screaming at me. I switched my mobile immediately.

Why did he not say it to me politely? He did but I was too busy announcing my adventures to the world.

Talking to the person next to me on the plane used to be my favourite thing to do on a plane when I was a student. I loved listening to stories. Would end up giving some advice too but now do not remember a time when I have even said hi to the person sitting next to me.

There are far too many avenues for being social, for giving advice. Facebook is one. Allows me to comment on any issue any of my FB friend is facing or like anything for example the friend having a bad day at work!

Within 140 characters, I can socially interact with anyone in the world on anything I want to. I can clap and slap the Pakistan cricket team, the never ending road work in Lahore and the never on time PIA. Maybe none of the victims of my clap and slap will read what I write, but my conscience sleeps peacefully for I am playing my role in changing behaviours and people.

At an airport, waiting for planes especially delayed, could become such a challenge especially if you had no one to talk to or no book to read. You would try to strike conversations or borrow books. Now airports are a blessing for they give you time to concentrate much more on your laptop enabling mails to be replied and reports to be finished. Games to be played and movies to be watched.

Airports are full of people who seldom talk to one another but engage intensively virtually!

Recall the time, when getting to the airport, the first task used to be finding a telephone booth to call mom to say all is well. Now mom knows the exact second the plane took off or landed. What to say of mom, the whole world of followers know.

As I see people around me including me cling to mobiles, find it hard to recall what did we cling to a few years back. Have we gained something or lost something!

I do not know but I do know that we are losing reflection time. We read loads, watch loads, communicate loads, play loads, listen to loads but still cherish a long walk or a yoga session to assimilate and reflect.

We have many sources to get advice, vent out our feelings and frustrations but why do we still cherish a talk over cup of coffee with a sincere friend. Why are Cafes in London or tea places in Lahore still full of people talking to one another.

Maybe we cling to the mobile because this is our communication and information pathway with a global world and we cling to a friend or a walk because we all like our private world too. Maybe we have grown to be global public citizens but cannot cut off the umbilical cord of privacy.

What do you say? Trying to get best of both worlds!




Committee party chat

She is an absolute menace.

Mine is a magician.

Mine is a social butterfly.

Mine loves to seduce.

Mine breaks homes.

Mine adds to my sins.

Why did we have to bring them into our lives?

I did not, my son did.

I did not, my mother in law imposed her on us.

Well I brought her to wreck my life myself. Since that day have not even had a momentarily relief.

Ever since her footsteps are all over my house, I cannot sleep due to the noise of her heels.

I have started cleaning my hairbrush hourly for she is on lookout for my hair. She does magic, you see.

I have a highly educated one but completely oblivious to status and style. She turns up at weddings in cotton suit and slippers.

Mine is exact opposite. For every event, a new designer dress and a new set of jewels.

Mine has to rush to Dubai every four weeks to buy her make up.

Mine has a way to win the heart through stomach. Courtesy these irritating cooking shows and packet spices, cooks such food that even my husband cannot stop raving about it.

Mine has her ways. Milk at bed time. Should I press your feet? Pretending to enjoy stories of youth gone by. Even my mother in law, who never had any love lost for me is madly in love with her. She is manipulating, is doing all this to deprive me of share in property.

Mine just does not get out of her room. Wonder what she does in her room?

I am sure plotting against you with family and friends.

I remember my time as a daughter in law.

So do we.

How obedient and respectful we were. Whatever the mother in law ordered, would be the last word. To make a place in the in-laws house and heart, forgot our own peace of mind.

Never did my mother in law like me. Always had a grudge against me.

So did ours.

I was so young. Had left my house and family, just wanted a bit of love and respect.

So did we.

But you see for my mother in law, sharing her son was very difficult. To date I think she thinks of me as a rival.

So do ours.

I could not have been as dear to her as her daughter, but a bit of consideration and appreciation would have made me happy.

You are right.

At times I think, is my daughter in law also  in a position similar to me…. maybe yes, maybe not but I just cannot like her.

For she is a daughter in law.




They are no longer made

They are no longer made.

I spent three years of my life listening to the above line almost every day.

Mrs Clarke, an extremely noble woman in whose house I lived as a paying guest in Dublin, used to utter this sentence to show her respect for people whose nobility and humility she missed.

Her words came back to me, discussing state of sports in Pakistan over lunch, with my father a couple of days back.

My father was instrumental in making me madly in love with cricket, hockey, tennis, squash and all kinds of sports.  At times to the dismay of my mother who would have loved my whole- hearted dedication to studies and books exclusively.

He needed a partner to share his sports joys and sorrows.

Our collective proud memories to date are Pakistan winning the cricket World Cup and Pakistan winning 1984 Olympics hockey title. Despite my preferred passion for cricket and Imran Khan, the hockey victory remains my childhood most proud moment.

The flag, the anthem, the green shirts….even today it brings tears.

Alas those memories are becoming painful.

Hockey faces extinction. Squash is extinct. Cricket lives on oxygen.

Soccer ……. never had a present or future.

Athletics……… not in my lifetime have I seen glories.

A country of 170 million people does not have any sports prospects. There is no future!

How is it possible?

At the lunch table as we discussed. My father recalled the days when there used to be nurturing of sports talent at school and college level.

We have schools, colleges and universities today. Why do we not have tournaments? We do have sports seats. Where do these sports seats holders sportsmen and sportswomen go?

Why do Beaconhouse, City School, Educationists, Grammar Schools not produce sportsmen or sports women? Why do government schools not have some programmes for nurturing sportsmen and sports women?

Why has this escaped the interest of our extremely creative CM Shahbaz Shariff?

We all know we have millions of frustrated youth. Unemployment is rampant. Can no one think of a plan to channelise capitalise youth talent into creating sports genius?

As we discussed,over lunch, solutions. My father had a solution.

The only man who can transform Pakistan sports scene is Imran Khan. I tell you he should leave politics and become the Chairman of the Pakistan Sports board. He has the vision and the commitment that others do not. His talk about domestic cricket was way to sustained cricket glory. He had the traits that Nur Khan had. …… unfortunately just like we now do not have sportsmen as classy and elegant as his generation, we do not have dedicated honest visionaries.

I disagree. Imran Khan need not leave politics but what he and others including politicians, educationists, corporates and sports lovers have to do is to think, plan and do something to revive sports in Pakistan.

We are joy starved nation. All we have had over the last many years, have been few sporting glories to keep us smiling in the face of depression and deprivation.

Imagine our pursuit for sporting happiness, we even dance at Pakistan defeating Zimbabwe!

Till we put our sports act together, many like me and my father will cling to the memories of sports legends, who to borrow from Mrs Clare are no longer made.

They must however be made, a handful in a country of millions maybe definitely!




So why bother!

Am sure you all would have met this person. 

He\she is never happy. Their mission is to spread misery around wherever they go. Whatever you do, even if you can bring stars and moon and sun from the sky. In their eyes, you are terribly useless.

People around them know they are difficult to please but many still hope and toil hard to achieve personal dream of the perpetual frown changing into a smile even if just for a second.

It does not happen. Day after day these people worsen making life of people around them hell.

If you happen to be cooking for such a person. At times salt in the food will not be to their taste. If spices and salt are perfect, food will either too hot or cold, food could be too little or too much. If everything is fine, they may say the plates are stained!

If such a person happen to be your boss or co-worker, your life but very importantly life of your family becomes devoid of any peace of mind. You go home ranting and cursing the person. You continually think how to win the heart and mind of the person. Your prayers are distracted. You watch a movie but plan for the pleasure of the person. Your life partner, your parents, your kids – all give ideas on how to soften the attitude of the person. Every evening they wait for a good news but there you are – stressed and on the edge.

It becomes an onerous life, but think for a minute what would be life without these nasty people. If life only had considerate, caring and compassionate people. Our life would be dull.

Work is not exciting or challenging because of the plans and tasks. Life is not interesting because of amicable family and friends.

It is fun due to people who leave no stone unturned to make us feel upset.   Imagine what a dull life would be without these people!

For a minute think!

Nothing to gossip about. Nothing to make fun of. Nothing to be worried about. Nothing to plan. Nothing to criticise.

It would be miserable.

Think of your old age. Amicable people will bring smiles but no stories to laugh at. No stories to make you feel good as to how despite odds, you survived. We need such people for stories to make our grand children laugh and make friends reunions a lively affair.

I used to get upset with nasty people. Now I feel sorry for them. Massive negativity must be consuming them not letting them enjoy their short life. They usually end up having heart problems and high blood pressure. Scheming and conspiring with the only aim to torment people or maybe humiliate or defame them. They must be suffering from insomnia. Just imagine how sadist they must have become.

What a life they must be leading?

Age has made me feel sympathy for them. Greying hair has made me wiser. I no longer worry about them or make my loved ones worry about me because of these happy. No longer I strive for their pleasure, for growing up they must have gone through some unpleasant experiences making then unpleasant forever. I cannot solve their problems.

When nasty people express displeasure, are rude I try to remain focussed on what can be done rather than what should be done. As they rant and rage, I try to pacify myself by saying that the person is not well. The person needs help. The person is not angry at me but angry with him\herself. I ask a lot of questions. Try to push them back too.

But to be honest you cannot win from them. So just keep on accumulating stories to laugh at in your old age. Have glasses of cold water and go for a walk post any encounter. Pray hard and talk to yourself. Do not reply to their emails instantly. Sleep on them. Feel sorry for these people.

But do not make your life a nightmare for then they would have succeeded.

And do you want them to succeed… definitely not.

So why bother!




I want to die

I want to die, tell me how? 

But why?

No one loves me!

No one, I have taken out time for you.

But you do it for others too.

Not exactly, but anyhow no one loves you. And who all are supposed to love you.

My mother at least.

And she definitely does not love you.

You are right! She does love my elder sister and brother.

Why?

Well! Simply because they have jobs where they earn millions.

And she needs those millions, does she?

Well in her old age she would. And they are smart!

You are smart too. You have great ideas.

But those ideas did not get me anywhere.

You did make it to an excellent university.

And I messed it by dropping out.

Yes…..

You  know what these traditional universities are not for me. Why bother going to a university, sitting through tortuous classes, taking those pen and paper exams. I can do all that sitting at home.

Yes…

But my parents cannot forgive me for dropping out. They do not love me.

Have they stopped giving you food?

Food is my basic right. How can they deprive me of it?

Oh yes…

But they no longer love me.

What a lovely mobile phone.

Yes my father got it from Dubai…..the latest model….it rocks!

Of course.

But he does not love me. For I will never have a stable 9 to 5 job like him. You know why?

How would I?

Because that is out of fashion. Plus I want to be cool, not boring like him.

So you want to die….may I ask how?

That is what I want to discuss.

What!

You have an idea for everything.

Not for suicide fortunately!

It is not a suicide. It is helping me. It is liberating me.

Helping you?

Not only me, my family too, my friends too…I am a liability for everyone.

No you are not. You are a bright talented person with fantastic ideas, only that you need help in putting them into action.

So help me with the idea of killing myself.

I……have no experience.

Even you do not want to help me. You are like the others.

Okay…calm down. How do you want to die?

Comfortably in the luxury of my home. I want a painless death.

Well…..deaths are not painless.

I have a sleeping tablet every second day.

You are only 20…..and you have sleeping tablets. Does your mother know of it?

That is none of your business. If I eat twenty of them, will I die?

I usually struggle to sleep if I ever have a sleeping tablet, so maybe if you have 20 you may not go to sleep for 20 years!! Why not jump into the sea?

I know swimming…will save myself.

Save yourself….but you want to die!

Well, you see I do want to die. That is all I want to do. Once I tried to kill myself by driving the car at a reckless speed. As the car was about to lose control, I panicked.  I cannot live without air-conditioner, the grave will not have one, will it?

Definitely it will not have one. You want to die because no one loves you. Your parents still let you live in their air-conditioned house, they still feed you, they still provide you with luxuries.

But they are always shouting at me.

Always ….. or at times….they want you to do something in life. If you want to do it your way, talk to them.  Killing yourself is killing them along with you. Your mobile is ringing. Who is it?

My mom….must be asking where am I and will I come for dinner. She gets worried.

If you kill yourself…maybe then I will have her sitting there on that sofa saying:

I want to die.




Loved in jubilation: hated in frustration!

Yes, I love you! I have always loved you.

You swept me off my feet in my early youth. So handsome! Did not know the meaning of ambition and passion, but on reflection those were the traits most impressive.

You made me feel liberated, around you the world was under my feet. I had the world conquered.

Those lush green fields, those bright long summer days at time marred with slightly irritating, at time much welcomed rain of Leeds, Manchester and London. You made my heart beat with anxiety for your ambition at times and at times made it filled with infinite joy. No one could have a beloved as dearest as you.

And then there was India. Do not recall the month or the date, all I recall is the euphoric feeling. Had thought that was the climax of our romance but I was wrong. We continued to add new dimensions to our romance in Middle East and Caribbean.

The climax however was Australia – in the disappeared sunlight, my knight in shinning armour engulfed my world with pleasures unparalleled.

The memory lingers; reflections force smiles inhibiting sealing the separation.

Why what we love foremost is not permanent? Why does a dear beloved have to betray? Was my love not pure or unconditional to retain your loyalty forever?

Your flirtations were ignored, your loss of ambition at times rationalised but what you did in London can neither be forgotten nor forgiven. I have become the taunt of the world. My life a haunting humiliation. The head in the air is now grounded.

I had lost my will to live post London but then in your usual unpredictable way you bounced back infrequently giving me some moments to smile and splash joy.

Moments are few and far between but my life is so entrenched in dismay and depression that I cling to the occasional opportunities of overwhelming delight. I definitely hate you intensely at times but hardly have anyone other than you to love.

You have lost your magic, you are unpredictable, passion may be there focus is not. Joy and sorrows are part of relationship. Am willing to stand by you in laughter and tears but unanswered questions about your honesty and integrity torment me but you are not alone.

I AM PAKISTAN!

My loved ones give me abundance of desperate tears. In love patience is an essential virtue. Maybe my patience has to be tested again and again. One day I will be rewarded. Eventually I will be a land of honestly honourable people.

Till then my beloved cricket team, you too are loved in jubilation and hated in frustration!




Ramadan Remembrance

So it is Ramadan – used to be Ramzan when I was a child! Do not know how it became Ramadan?  
Ramzan or Ramadan – the memories are many.

Do you remember your first roza? I do not. I remember the first roza of my sister though. My Grandmother made her Gulab Jamans and Jalabis which she did not do for me.

My childhood memories of Ramadan go back to me begging and urging Mom to let me fast for all my cousins and friends were doing so. My Mom stance was why fast if you are not required to do but for me fasting was a competition too which I was failing. What I never thought even for a second, in my continuous state of rage, that relapses of typhoid have left me frail. Fasting could have be lethal.

Mom would not have made me feel physically disadvantaged but was prepared to be the target of my fury and frustration. So typical of Moms!

As a teenager, fasting became an enjoyable habit. The family getting together at Sheri at the odd normally unthinkable hour. The occasional cliff-hanger Sheri where everyone’s alarm did not go off till someone got up at the last minute. The full house last Roza Sheri at my grandparents house…to think of this is the first Ramadan without anyone of them. They had a way of accommodating the likes of everyone at the dining table.
How time flies away. Many among us now fast in lands far away. Join us through skype at Sheri though to tell us tales of their diverse fasting hours and Sheri menu. Some fast on pasta, some on coke, some on self made quorma and parathas.  All carve for home cooked food and Moms!

As they narrate their Sheri stories, memories of my fasting for six years in Ireland come flashing. Those iftars with much missed friends at the mosque. How eating together from a tray was perfect etiquettes!  Those chaotic Sheris where not everyone was in a good mood and not everyone wanted to have the same thing. Those lonely Sheris too where there was much to contemplate over prayers and in terms of food, for cooking at normal hours is barely enjoyed, at those hours Coffee, Pastry and Pizza sufficed.

Hallmark of my fasting has been accelerating greed with Iftar time approaching. With siblings around, the greed would take shape of emotional blackmailing Mom to have a ten course Iftar after which the thought of food would be shunned till the next Iftar when the agony of yesterday was absolutely forgotten.

With wisdom inflicted by greying hair, has come restraint. Enhanced consideration for the thousands of people unable to have water and bread for Iftar makes the thought of ten course Iftar repulsive. Wasting food when many do not have even anything to fast on is a disliked idea.

Was in my childhood poverty not as rampant or awareness not as widespread or ignorance of childhood so intense that the thought of thousands without food in Ramzan never passed my mind?

I do remember Mom giving sugar, squash, dates etc. to people but those people did not look under nourished. They needed food and drinks but could have had something at home… or maybe not!

Maybe childhood induces fantasies and greying hair compels realism!

It is realism that is compelling sharing the joys of Iftar and Sheri by showing moderation in personal consumption and excessiveness in facilitating others nutrition.

May Allah help us in sharing blessings with others during Ramadan and forever!




SKMTH: Awaiting Answers!

  • July 8, 2013
  • Blogs

I need your help in answering a few questions that always creep in my mind whenever I visit Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore:

1) Why do we not insist on parking the car in front of the hospital?
2) Why do we not argue when told that limited number of attendants are allowed along with a patient and food is not allowed?
3) Why do we not jump the queues?
4) Why do we not search for referrals to beat the appointments registers?
5) Why is the hospital including the toilets so spotlessly clean?
6) Why are the security guards not shouting to ensure they are being listened to?
7) Why do the nurses have a smile?
8) Why do the doctors explain and then perform procedures?
9) Why despite the overarching blanket of death; an ambience of positivity triumphs?
10) Why a large number of the patients are Pathans?
11) Why visiting Shaukat Khanum even under the most adverse circumstances leave you with an overwhelming feeling of national pride and achievement?
12) How are patients irrespective of their financial or social status treated equally?
13) How is merit maintained in processing of financial aid applications?
14) If merit and inclusion are practised effectively by Shaukat Khanum, then why not by other hospitals?
15) For Imran Khan the hospital was a dream, what inspired and has continued to inspire millions over decades to confer their confidence and cash on the hospital?
16) Why even when fingers have been raised, the confidence in integrity of the hospital financial management has remained generally untainted?
17) What will be Shaukat Khanum Hospital Peshawar contribution to improving social and economic landscape of KPK?
18) Do we not owe it to the catastrophes stuck KPK to rise above political differences by coming together for timely construction of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Peshawar?
19) Is Shaukat Khanum Imran Khan’s most credible, most magnanimous gift to Pakistan? If so why- because it allows us to show discipline at times or because it gives an opportunity to be generous or because as a nation we need a beacon of hope that we can fondly boast about.

Await your answers!




Happy Father’s Day

Baba, I am scared, can you sleep in my room today please. 

Yes I will!

Baba, I saw a bad dream, cannot sleep, will you sleep in my room.

Yes I will my dear!

Baba, I cannot do this ride, too dangerous. I will fall.

You can do anything in the world! Just do it, I am here if anything goes wrong.

Baba, cannot understand the theorem, who made these no relevance to life theorems.

Let me help you, they are easy, you are so intelligent.

Baba, pray for my exams, if I do not do well mom will be upset.

You have my prayers, you always do well but love to fret.

Baba, am getting late for school. Driver is not here.

Come, I will drop you.

Baba, am getting late for meeting, where is the driver!

Do not worry, let me be your driver today.

Baba, can you tell the driver to come tonight at 1, have a flight at 330.

It is late, I will drop you.

But you cannot always be getting up in the middle of night to drop me. I travel the world on my own.

It is fine. If I do not drop you, will have your mother up the whole night.

Baba, this conference paper, just do not think will go down well, please pray.

Will do, my dear, can I have your itinerary please.

Mom has it, why do you need it? She worries, you are strong.

Just wanted to keep a track of you.

Why is mom not picking up the phone, wanted to tell her my flu is better.

Good to know that, I was so worried.

Baba, you worried, since when have you started worrying.

I am getting old, my dear.

Old and you, never. Come on, do not sound like mom.

Fathers in the eyes of daughters never get old. The man, who they fall in love with the moment they can hold their finger, remains their super man, ever young, ever handsome. No one can take his place. Important men in lives have to be like him.

Fathers cannot worry for that is for faint hearted mothers to do. Fathers cannot be anxious for they give daughters the self-confidence that enables them to achieve success. They are the pillar of support, strong and steady even though in acting strong, they may have many fears and concerns that if shared can shatter a daughter’s fantasy world that her father is the strongest of all.

When a father hugs a daughter, she knows she will be protected and cared for always. Even if she knows, she pretends not to know that with time, the hug gives more strength to the father than to her for the eyes under the influence of old age yearns for the sight of the beloved daughter and the hug is an assurance she will be there as strength fades of her Superman.

You will never be old! Happy Father’s Day Baba!




Kazakhstan

Unforgettable is the moment when I had looked down from my plane. All I could see for miles and miles….snow!

Memory recall took me back to my school and college days. Remembered were Leo Tolstoy novels. Out of the closet of early days memories, emerged stereotyped Russians….stern and strict. The snow reflected only hardness of the hearts of the people living in this snow inundated country.

As I stepped out of the plane. The airport challenged my already formed perceptions. As usual hard it is to accept that you are wrong. Tried to find reasons to prove my biases right but only found warm smiles and eager to help people.

Kazakhstan

 

 

Most of the times they did not understand what I was saying nor did I understand what they were saying. Kazakhstan has taught me words do not matter as long as sincerity to understand exists.

Kazakhstan in winter is snow wrapped but in summer as the snow melts emerges one of the most loveliest green country with white and blue mountains.

As I walked around enjoying this country, came across an old generation that has seen far too much to be conveyed in sign language but whatever they said and did, showed immense pride in past and future.

The young generation impressed me with its confidence, with its fascinating curiosity to discover its roots, yet relentless to make a dent in the universe. They unlike the old generation may not convey the same blind pride for their country for they in their pursuit to achieve national excellence do come across as skeptical but their skepticism is underpinned by a strong desire to make their country the best.

Women rule the business world of Kazakhstan. Confident, creative, smartly clever and caring, they are steering the economy and business to incredible growth.

Almaty is a blend of Old and New time. It is a city at peace with a mix of Old and New values, Russian constructed buildings symbolise an era gone but yet imprinting certain behaviours. The modern buildings symbolise resilience, a confidence to live harmoniously with the past yet determined to craft a more illustrious future.

Astana is different. A modern city with masterpieces of architecture. It is a loud statement about the ambitions for the future.

Kazakhstan has taught me people should influence opinions not literature or media. If I had never visited Kazakhstan, I would never have met one of the most hardworking, focused and driven people in the world.

Wish Kazakhstan a very great future!