Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This Weeks Blog Word: Most

Considering we are heading into the new year, I thought it be a good idea to go over some events of this past year:

Most Awesome Feeling of the Year: The trip back to Pakistan in July/August
Most Shocking Moment of Realization: Seeing an old buddy in the role of a Groom
Most Amazing Experience: Being stuck in Karachi after for an extra week after the monsoon
Most Amazing Hosts of the Year: Kiran, Kabeer, His parents and his 1 year old son Basim
Most Amazing Conversation: Naj and I, at her house, a few hours before my flight back to Canada

Most Amazing Party of the Year: St. Patricks day at the Steam Whistle Brewery
Most Awesome Movie I Watched in the Theatre: Babel
Most Thought Provoking Read of the Year: Charlie Wilson's War
Most Awesome Series of the Year: Heroes on NBC
Most Awesome DVD I Bought This Year: Lord of War
Most Awesome Family Vacation: Montreal on the Memorial Day weekend.
Most Shocking Incident: The random brawl outside the downtown Paramount.

Most Thought Provoking Activity: Jammie's Blog Words/Phrases of the week
Most Amazing Meeting: Meeting Umar and Insiya - Umar after ages and Insiya for the first time.

Most Amazing Thanksgiving: The entire gang at Jamie's place in Waterloo

Most Amazing Website About Pakistan: Adil Najam's All Things Pakistani

Most Missed People: The entire Karachi crowd with all its goods and bads
Most Amazing News: The arrival of Rania, Naj's second daughter, yesterday.

I think I might have missed out a few things, I might make updates to this list.
None the less, its been quite a year, aint it.

Last Weeks Blog Word: Past

Here is a song that got me interested in global politics, pop culture and history in general. A song from my past about a good number of influential events and icons that shaped the present of my generation and those before it as well. Check out the lyrics below.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dancron
Dien Bien Phu Falls, Rock Around the Clock

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bob Dole, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, Bridge On The River Kwai
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkwether, Homicide, Children of Thalidomide

Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, Space Monkey, Mafia
Hula Hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichman, Stranger in a Strange Land
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion
Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatle mania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Bejing, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline

Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan
Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless Vets,
AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores,
China's under martial law
Rock and Roller cola wars,
I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
since the world's been turning.

We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

-- Billy Joel

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Festivus Everybody!

A tradition that started in the 60s. A celebration for the common man, jolted back to life by Costanza and Kramer, its time once again to celebrate Festivus.
Bitch, whine, complain and let them know what its all about. Let the energy out, pin them to ground, shed the marterialism and gather around that shiny pole.

Festivus, for the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Its Been A While, A Lot Has Changed

Its been a while since I posted anything significant here. I made up for it with someone catchy little video clips from You Tube and Metacafe. For those who haven’t used MetaCafĂ©, I find it better than you tube since there is less junk on it. That also means that their library is much smaller. Anyhew, I decided that I would use the opportunity of the dull pre-christmas work environment and my boss’s vacation, to slack off and bring this blog back to life. I can see my fans in the deep south high fiving and throwing around Yeah C’Mons, well lads time for some How You Doings.
So a lot has been happening lately, in my life and in the world that surrounds it. On a personal level, I am working on several new career opportunities and balancing the search with my current occupation, which requires intense client facing, has been an arduous task. In the midst of it I also realized there are certain things that we maybe good at and that’s what we want to do in life, but it may not be necessary to make a job or a career out of it. So I have been further contemplating about having a work-work balance i.e. having a job that I am good at and then a little something on the side that I enjoy. So that’s what the life of I has been over the past month or so, lots of work and lots of thinking, planning and executing the crucial little steps that will eventually lead to my global dominance *insert evil laugh here*. Ever since I saw Pinky and The Brain I have fancied saying the line “Tonight, Pinky, we take over the world”.
Speaking of the world, there is so much happening out there that I had wanted to comment on, from the repeal of the Shoaib/Asif doping verdict to the more recent pardoning of Tara Conner (Miss USA) by Donald Trump (co-owner of the Miss USA foundation). However, my biggest complain this month has to be the death or shall I say the murder of Old Man Winter. Yes people of the world, Old Man Winter has died and we are responsible for killing him. It was a slow death; he is now only present in spirit. The pollution, the depleting ozone layer, our love for plastics, SUVs, CFC and aerosol cans have finally led to the demise of Mother Nature’s old friend, Mr. Winter.
Having lived most of my life in a city with pretty much two seasons, I wasn’t much in sync with the concept of global warming. After having experienced all the four seasons in Canada over year last three years, I am disappointed to see a winter that’s not quite winter like. For those people who think Canada is all Igloos, imagine them melting. The temperature drops occasionally but the absence of the beautiful white snow that adds a jolt of life to the grey of winter is just unreal. Its unlike of Toronto to not have had a single snowfall into the mid of December and rest assured, this is not going to be a white Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, we need to learn the underlying science of making Christmas Carols. They frigging get in your head and refuse to leave. You hear them and once and all of a sudden you will find yourself walking down the road, unconsciously humming Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or Jingle Bells. I don’t know if it’s the music, the lyrics, the mention of Santa, but whatever it is, we need to learn it and maybe use it to pass on our own subliminal messages.
In other interesting happenings, Iran recently held a conference to discuss the veracity of the Jewish Holocaust in WW2. I think Ahmedinejad is really going over the top to draw the ideological borders in a world that already has significant ideological differences. I do agree with the fact that people should have the right to express their opinions and beliefs but giving it government patronage is almost like waving a red flag in front of a bull (the bulls being the west). There are other methods of handling political differences and I guess Ahmedinijad should consider them.

On the flip side, there was interesting view presented by an American attending that conference. David Duke was of the opinion that there should be more freedom of expression and the “Zionist controlled media” is depriving people of knowing the truth. Of special interest was an encounter David had with Wolf Blitzer on CNN where they went all out for each others neck. Even if David Duke had an agenda, Blitzer’s behavior belied his reputation as a leading anchor and he appeared to visibly perturbed by the encounter.
There were a few key takeaways from Duke’s appearance at the confrence. First and foremost has to be Dukes own background, with reference to the Klan( the Ku Klux one). Although he claims he does not have any further affiliations with the white supremacist members of the Klan, yet his involvement with the Klan in the past must influence any analysis of his comments. He also spoke how it was a bigger crime to be critical of the holocaust than saying some crap about Jesus, which I believe is a valid complain. All in all, he was very critical of the Jewish control over the US media and the countrys foreign policy. Supporters of the Iran should however be careful in considering it as a show of support to Iran. Their interest and those of Duke collude as long as they have a common enemy.
And finally we come to Miss USA, Tara Conner. Ah, Tara Conner, she thought she was Canadian, why else would a poor Kentucky soul like her indulge in the sauce otherwise. There was a good reason why the Canadians set their drinking age at 19, it was to avoid situations like these. I do pity the girl especially considering the fact that she has spent her entire life in a fake world where women are rewarded for their looks more than their intelligence. In such situations it’s natural for a beauty pageant competitor to forget how to use a brain. It’s also natural for them to find other girls, like the Miss Teen USA, attractive and eventually embrace them with a kiss after an evening of frolicking. She was right when she said everyone has demons, but so was Jon Stewart when he said that “My demons pay to watch your demons”. Ah, classic Stewart.
To further add fuel to fire, she went on to call Donald Trump a person with a heart of gold (Neil Young, anyone?). Yes Tara, he also lives in a house that has a gold ceiling, various accessories in his car are also made of gold. He is a tacky and tasteless person in general who wants to go one up. A brother can get a grill of gold, heck Donald will get a frigging heart of gold. Beat that my ebony friends.
And so it continues, our world and our lives. If an outbreak of a third world war doesn’t kill us, the slowly changing weather surely will. And when you look at this way, you couldn’t care less about a blonde beauty pageant winner from small town Kentucky who consumes anything that gets her high and screws anything that walks on two feet.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Really Funny

I couldnt think of something coherent for the blog word really. However, there is something that I really find funny and thats family guy. So heres a really funny clip from family guy with my two favorite characters from the show, Stewie and Brian.


Family Guy - Brain Beatdown - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Wanderers Secret

My biggest secret is falling in love with a unicorn and if you have ever read through this blog you would have seen several Unicorn references. On the occasion of this weeks blog word, allow me to elaborate on why Unicorn came to be called Unicorn. If you are thinking you'd find out who the Unicorn is then be ready to be dissapointed.

Unicorn is someone so vividly there yet so out of reach that she seems to be afantasy. She is pure, she is natural, shes honest. Like children get attracted to the grace of a unicorn, people fell weak in their knees when she smiles. One cant help but fall in love with my Unicorn and to her credit, shes the only person who leaves me searching for words. When I see her, or get a message from her on MSN or on Orkut I am left dumbfounded and that for me is a first. And that is probably also the primary reason (there are several secondary ones) why I have never been able to tell her how I feel.
And as it happens, the good birds fly away. I guess my Unicorn galloped or at least trotted to her soul mate, either way she is now betrothed. All I could say about it was dam. But so be it, it will be a first for me to be friends with someone I truly, madly, deeply loved.

We had the funniest conversation when I met her in Karachi this past summer and she asked me if there was someone new in my life. I said no, there is this old girl I cant get over. She suggested that I speak to her, I told her she is spoken for, she said if I loved her enough I will get her. I laughed. Cruel cruel fate.

So thats why I decided to call her my Unicorn and this happens to be my big secret, a woman I cant name, a feeling I cant express and happiness that I wont ever experience.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blog Thought For The Wanderers: They Say It Isnt Possible

Hasan and I were seated across from each other at the Gelato Affair on that warm June Karachi night in the year 2000. He was worried like had never seen him before.

Hasan: "Do you think we can do it?"
I: "Do you have any doubts?"
Hasan: "Its big man and august is barely two months away."
I: "But you know that this is the best time to do it. We can focus all our energies before classes start."
Hasan: "I spoke to BS today, he wasnt sure if it can be done, he was quite skeptical about the whole idea."
I: "BS is a techie professor, if he could do it he wouldnt be where he is."
Hasan: "I spoke with the IBA guys too, they said it was a long shot."
I: "Dude, you know them, they werent supportive of the festival either. We have a good base to build of from."
I took another sip out of my chocolate shake while Hasan toyed with a spoon in front of him.
I: "Whats Ali saying?"
Hasan: "He is in it if we are."
I: "We can rope in Sunny too."
Hasan: "yes"
I: "I am in it to win it man"
Hasan looked straight into his cup of coffee and possibly thought about all the thing in his own Hasan way. He looked back up, with his trade mark grin
Hasan: "Lets do it then"

On August 29, Hasan, Ali, Sunny & I stood at the Karachi Marriott as the organizers of the National IT Expo 2000, the biggest and most diverse IT exhibition to be held thus far (Dawn and Jang hadnt jumped into the picture and the Expo center was barely complete). We had our share of nay sayers and detractors. We were hearing "it isnt possible" from all quarters. It took us a little over two months, unmatched motivation, a few strokes of luck and support from a handful of friends to use Rs.10,000 and hold an event with a budget of around Rs. 700,000.

In the words of Adidas, Impossible is nothing!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Last Weeks Blog Word - Sorry

its not easy to say or write about being or feeling sorry.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"You Wanna Get High?" - A Tribute To Towlie

Although I am not a big fan of South Park, I like it in small doses, but Towlie is probably my favorite character in the show.
Heres a tribute to Towlie I found on You Tube.
Cheers to college days!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Complete Wanderer

I am not certain what I can say about this weeks blog word, complete. I am the last person to know what the word complete means. Sometimes I wonder if completion is ever an objectve. Are we meant to be complete? Are our lives, our work, our days or our nights meant to be complete? Would completion not be complacency, which in my view, is death.
I guess completion is probably the motivation to forge ahead in life. We finish short term goals to be complete in the long run. Whats funny is that the if and when we reach that point of total completion, it will be over. That kind of makes more sense when you think of life as a test, all tests are over when they are complete.
Thus I too like many of us run, walk, pace and run again towards finding that ultimate completion. Till I dont, Ill just keep walking and talking and writing such oh so confusing and wasteful posts. The only thing I know about complete, is that I am far away from it, lost and wandering hence, a complete wanderer.

Readings That Leave You Shaken

I have spent the last week reading two very interesting books. One I paced through, the other I picked up and couldnt let go of till I had finished it. It was the second one that left me shaken, that made me question quite a few things that I would elaborate in the course of this post.
Monday started with me reading through Musharaffs biography on the way to and while come backing from work. It is best to describe "In the line of fire" as a birds eye view of what Musharaff has been able to accomplish since October '99. I do commend him for agreeing to some of his short comings, for instance the referendum. He also openly identifies his role in the way he is shaping the modern Pakistani politics and he is justified with it reasons that at least I am willing to consider, but then again I am known to be a Musharaffist as one friend recently put it. At the same time he paints very broad stroke of some aspects that i wanted more detail on, things like the proceedings of the Agra Summit, the political situation of Karachi etc.
The book serves as a wonderful resume for President Musharaff to justify his continued role in his position, something that I am not opposed to yet something I am slightly wary of. Since with prolonged power comes the opportunities for those powers to be abused. That, as I see it, may lead to his downfall. I am also certain that a number of reflections that he has made about several situations are his own opinions and not necessarily the hard fact. At the same time, some events have been watered down probably in the interest of avoiding a further negative image of Pakistan or for not eluding too much information about an ongoing judicial process. In either case, the book serves two primary purposes and serves these purposes rather well on a macro level. The first one is to paint a more positive picture and a softer image of Pakistan. The second is to create a commendable well balanced resume for Musharaff.
The next book, that I started reading earlier today found a great segway from one chapter of Musharaf's book about war on terrorism. The book is called A Mighty Heart and is an account of the events surrounding the kidnapping and eventual murder of Daniel Pearl (A journalist from The Wall Street Journal) in 2002 in Karachi. Written by his journalist wife Marianne Pearl, the book is now also being converted into a film starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. There arent too many books that I have found captivating enough to read through till I am done with it. Furthermore there hasn’t been any that make me get out of my reading chair, at 4:30AM, pour my self a stiff one and light up a cigar. A Mighty Heart, did all that and more.
I must tell you that I ordered the book with the thought that it would be an account of a victimized westerner who is going on an anti-Pakistan and anti-Karachi rant. Going through the first few chapters I was still skeptical about the whole premise that Marriane seemed to be developing. However, by the time I had finished reading it I could not help but feel miserable about all that Daniel, Marianne, their family and friends had to go through. Added to this was the thought that all this happened in my hometown.
The book is by no means a westerners rant, all those thinking that way can be rest assured that it is not meant to stir up anti-Pakistani emotions. Its the story of a loving journalist couple who end up in Karachi in search of a news item. Its the story of their Indo-American Muslim friend who is trying to be a party of the cities social fabric but is being rejected. Its also the story of a few very dedicated law enforcement officers who despite all odds are giving it their best to recover a foreign guest who is missing in their country. It talks about people the whole of Pakistan and the whole of Karachi is familiar with. It brings out a certain level of truth about Karachi about Pakistan and the complex bureaucracy and corruption that exists here. At the same time, the most heartening aspect of it all is that Marianne Pearls continues to describe Pakistan as a battle ground of the war on terrorism where the soldiers who fight against the menace are less equipped against a much powerful and nimble group of terrorists.
All along the book, ever since Marianne described her husband as missing, I could not help but in my heart tell her that I am sorry it happened in Karachi. The funny part is that I was still there in Karachi when this incident occurred in 2002. I would cross the house where the Pearls were residing, almost on a daily basis, yet never did I know or even care as to what was going down there. It made me question how our nature has developed in the city. I remember everyone reading the Daniel Pearl was missing, but no one I knew give it a second thought that he is a foreigner missing in our own home. Our culture pays significant tribute and respects to guests. The Pearls were guests in Karachi and yet Marianne and her unborn child left Karachi with the worst taste in their mouth. It made me wonder when this would all come to a halt, for how long must we continue to suffer at the hands of terrorists who don a "religious" veil as an excuse to carry out some of the most heinous of crimes the world has seen. I also realized how dead we Karachites have become as a people. Human casualty has become a number to us, the botheration to care about anyone in trouble is followed by the thought of avoiding a messy situation. There arent too many people who are still willing to get their hands dirty for helping some one come out of a messy situation. As inflation, poverty, illiteracy grows, there would be more extremists who would unfortunately follow the path that has been blazed by negative elements like those implicated and absconding in the Pearl Case.
Daniel Pearl wasnt the last fallen foreigner in Karachi, there were quite a bunch before him and a good number after him as well. With this trend common there is no wonder that people from all over the world think twice about vacationing/investing in Pakistan. We have to make this better, the city and the country. However the most disappointing aspect in my opinion, was the fact that government knew about murder at least a week before the arrest of the key witness and yet decided to hold onto that information. Although Marianne never said this, yet it’s quite simple to draw this conclusion from what had been happening.
What I think I should have done a long time ago was to have extended my condolences to the Pearl family and friends. Your husband/brother/son/father has not died in vain, if anything, he has opened the eyes to severe incompetence in the systems. He deserves all the respect and gratitude for all those he helped. Even in his physical absence he is spreading the light of his messages and I hope that region could enlighten from it soon. Lastly, I do offer my deepest and most sincere respect to all those who stood with you in the tragic time. The aspect that leaves me even more remorseful is that you had to experience this all in Karachi and I truly most sincerely, as a Karachite, apologize for that.
Heres to hoping that the film does justice to the book, that no more Daniel Pearls happen any where in the world, that Danny's spirirt rest in peace and Karachi continues to progress and becomes a safe haven for all tourists from all the world.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Vindictive Nature of PCB

Yes this post is about the much publicized, much talked about ban on Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif. From the title of the post, some of you must be amusing that I belong to the camp thats crying foul. Let me clarify that by saying, Yes, I am crying foul but not about the punishment but the nature of the punishment, the inequality in justice and the complete lack of objectivity from the tribunal that passed the judgement.
My friends know me as a big fan of Shoaib Akhtar, and like any fan I am deeply dissapointed by the fact that I wont be seeing much of him, if any at all in the future. His life as a professional cricketer has probaly ended with an exclamation mark. One has to see red flags that these decision were being taken by a supposedly dynamic PCB thats out to change the shape of cricket in Pakistan. We have all seen such tall claims in the past, like those of Tauqir Zia, without much coming out of them.
In the 27 years that I have breathed cricket, there have been two rock stars, Imran Khan and Shoaib Akhtar. The first one bowed out of the game rather gracefully with a world cup under his belt - lets say like a Jimmy Page or more like a Paul McCartney. Shoaib however proved to be a Kurt Cobain, his demise somewhat sucidal and blamed much on drugs and much like Kurt, Shoaib's absence will be felt by all lovers of the game.
Now let me come to my grudges. I am just an inch away from out rightly suggesting that the cricket board goes forth and multiply or something to that order. How ridiculous is this new management. Not only do I find Nasim Ashraf to be extremly pretentious but I also doubt his capability to effectively manage the board. His elevation to the position in the board is probably one of the few areas where Musharaff and I dont see eye to eye (not that he would seek my consent but still).
The board has not taken effective measures to create awareness about the drug use. These are Pakistani cricket players we arent talking about. They arent choosen for their comprehenshon ability. You have to drill these into them, make them understand. Passing out a code book and that too in English (not a commonly spoken language in the team) and then conducting a workshop to all those present is not enough and all this happened during the time of Sheryar Khan, the former head of PCB. You have to indoctrinate these fellows about the damages, both to their abilities and careers, that result from the use of drugs.
Then there is this debate about Nandrolone itself. Reputed athelets from a broad spectrum of sports had tested positive, were suspeneded and later proved their innocence. It is said that currently the IOC is debating wether the level that it has set for Nandrolone are too strict. In cases were athletes were able to clear their name, there was a thorough investigation, research was done and a case was made by experienced professional in their respective areas.
But lets get back to PCB, who decide to pick a half witted former player and coach (Intikhab Alam), a retired Judge and former governor Shahid Hamid and a Dr. Waqar Ahmad for the tribunal. As is the rule in proceedings across the world, the defendants are asked to use a lawyer and if they are unable to do so, the authorities provide them with one (Miranada Rights anyone - all those cop and robber movies that we have seen). The players were however represented by a medical doctor in case of shoaib and a by himself in case of asif.
The verdict was that asif gets a year long ban, because hes is not that literate to understand the complexities of doping law and yet the same board found it adequate for this less than literate player to represent himself. Shoaib got a two year ban. According to Intikhab, he was to be made an exmaple of, why you wonder, not because he took drug supplements alone, but also because he used to drink alcohol and had an active sex life. I knew some of these guy were and no self esteem, but Intikhab Alam has now gone low enough to crawl from under a snake . Nobody informed Shoaib that he was being judged not only on the charges of consumption of controlled substances but also on allegations of breaching the hudood ordinance.
I thought cricket was a game of gentlemen not priests, what the gentlemen does in the confines of his own space is not a concern of anyone else expect those within that space. Either Intikhab is jealous or mis-informed that Nandrolone can be created in a body through comsumption of Alcohol or having an active sex life. In either case, its non of his god dam business to talk about it with the press. For shame Intikhab Alam, for shame!!
And while all this happens we hear a whimper of news come by and probably go un-noticed from PCB about player contracts being revised. Hmmm, who was the player who had the biggest issue with the revision of contract. None other than our Shoaib, who was reported over and over agian for not having agreed to the contract and was probably among last few people to signed on his prior to the teams departure for the champions trophy and surprise surprise, he barely there for a week when shit hits the fan.
All this has convinced me, maybe wrongly maybe rightly, that although the players are at a bit of fault the punishments handed out to them have showed a highly vindictive side of the PCB. My suggestions to both Asif and Shoaib is to challenge the PCBs decision, also Shoaib should take Intikhab Alam to court for publicly talking about his private life without his content in matter that did not pertain to it at all. I hope that my favorite rocker in the Pakistani team would soon be back rocking stadias all over the world, alas I may be extremly wrong.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Wanderers Miracle

To find love
in your silence, in the quite noise
that kept reaching my heart
was nothing short of a miracle

looking at you
thinking, hoping, dreaming
was as useless as
waiting for a miracle

wasted were the moments
that I could have used
to say that my love
truly, you are a miracle

but now that you are gone
i think living a life
that i cant share with you
thats the real miracle

Friday, October 13, 2006


Only the Toronto Maple Leafs could come back 1 nothing down, to go up 6-3 and still loose a game in a shoot out!
I think I should stick to cricket.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Somethings That Just Dont Get Out Of Your Head

I read this poem by Pablo Neruda a short while a ago and its just stuck in my head. I hope he doesnt mind putting it here:

I do not love you... by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how,
or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

that this: where I does not exist, nor you
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.


I usually dont comment about Canadian politics. There isnt much happening in the boring world of it. The devilish blue eyed conserative prime minister from Alberta is running the show these days and he basically came to power because the Liberal power, more popular in the East, did not have a solid leader to garner the votes.
Having said that, the Liberal party is involved a leadership race right now with the finale a month away in Montreal. The current leader of this race is Michael Ignatieff, a Toronto native and former alum of the U of Toronto, Oxford and a PhD from Harvard.
Now considering that I only heard of this chap when he won seat to the federal legislature in last elections, I am not completely aware of what his forte is. He did compete in a tough constituency so thats one accomplishment. But what won me over today was his criticism of Israel's bombing of Lebanon. This in result saw his campaign organizer part ways with him. This comes as no surprise. Susan Kadis, another MP from Thornhill, did not agree with Ignatieffs comment that bombing of the Lebanese village of Qana was a war crime. Being a resident of the Thornhill area I realize why a majority of residents would be critical of Ignatieff's remarks and why Susan Kadis, to support her constituency, can not continue to support this man who has been critical of Israel's policy towards its latest adventures in Lebanon.
Thankfully, the pro-Israeli lobby is not as strong in Canada as it is in the US. That is not to say that the can wield influence, but at the same time, there are other lobbies that could to a certain extent pacify pro-Israeli lobby. Whats sad is that I havent heard of another MP coming out against the current PMs support of Israel because his constituency is composed of Muslim or Lebanese folks. Maybe someday, that will happen too. For now, lets take it once step at a time and hope that Ignatieff wins the leadership race next month.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

India's Hitler Connection: Subash Chander Bose

Some had posted this very interesting BBC article on their blog. I forget who it and apologies for not giving that individual the due credit here. It points to a very fascinating aspect, that at least I had never thought of till now. The article talks about the famous political leader of united India, Subhash Chander Bose and his collaboration with Hitler for the purpose of seeking independence from the British Raj.
As the article points out, Hitlers purpose for supporting Bose were at a tangent from Bose's aspirations. It may have been possible that Hitler undermined Bose's capability to influence and instigate a revolution of the magnitude that would shake the foundations of British rule in India. At the same time, I am left wondering that had Bose carried out his plans what would have been the shape of the sub-continent right now.
Would there have been the possibility of government with fascist influences? If so, would the muslims of India have faced the same fate as the Jews of Europre? In case of a South Asian holocaust would the hypothetically subjugated muslims be meted out the same treatment by the west as did the Jews? Unfortunately I feel that the answer to most of these questions would have been negative. Muslims never had the popular backing of the west, if there isnt much response to Muslim genocide in African countries in the world of today, then back in 40s and 50s it may not even have been an issue.
However, the point we must consider is the political inclinations of Netaji a common moniker for Bose in his home state of Orissa and the surrounding areas of Bengal. Us Pakistanis, who have never studied the Indian side of the history may recollect Bose as the man behind the famous line "Give me blood and I will give you freedom". His Indian National Army (INA) is supposedly still active in parts of India. His political approach was exact opposite to Ghandis vision of a non-violent revolution. At the same time, in my brief research over the internet in the past two days did not reveal any aspect of his personality that could be considered fascist. In fact he was more left-winged and anti-imperialist than fascist.
The biggest mystery surrounding Bose was his death. It was said that he died in a plane crash in August 1945 over Taiwan. The account is seriously disputed. One theory that has received some credibility is that Jawahal Lal Nehru along with the British had him exiled at an undisclosed location and eventually executed. This would makes a certain bit of sense as a political gambit that Nehru may have used. He did manage to succeed to power through being a Gandhi supporter as opposed to Bose who was opposed to the Gandhi approach. It is said that in eastern and southern India, Bose commanded immense popularity, and was an evident threat to Nehrus post-partition succession. At the same time the British feared that he would create unrest through violent means which would engage their thinning resources (the after effects of WW2) into an unwanted uprising. Hence it may have made complete sense to rid of Bose.
The truth, if we ever find it out, would take quite a while. In either case, it seems that with demise of Bose, South Asia lost a great political campaigner. He may have been the Che Guevera of India, but now unfortunately makes the list of great mind lost to global politics.

Back To Blog Words: Red

My Favorite Red

Monday, October 09, 2006

Out of time

the worst thing is to have a long weekend and some how sqaunder the time away in doing something that somehow took up all the time.
Theres so much I have to say, so much to share and not enough time in the world. I think I will act like the proverbial geek and take my lappie with me while commuting to make up for the last time.

Till Then

Weekly Blog Thought: Because I Didnt...

A lot has been said about the anniversary of last years earthquake. I look back on all that I did, all that was done by others and all that could have been done. I read about the contionous plight of the surivors and wonder what else can we do appease their pain. I look at the green wrist band I have been wearing since last year, the one that says "Rebuild Life", and I wonder if that was enough, if more could have been done then, if more can be done now. I wish I could somehow go up to my suffering paisan and tell them they havent been forgotten. I now fear running into a victim of this quake a few year down road and feeling shameful when he looks at me, the look that says that I am a lesser person than he is, because I didnt do all that I could when I should have. I pray I can do more now, before its too late, I pray we all could!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Cross Hair

Sometimes its just difficult to reach a conclusion to an argument. Especially amongst friends. I have been involved in one such debate with my friends for over a year now. We decided that the best to resolve the issue was to conduct a world wide survey to reach the answer. Hence, I came up with the cross hair. A blog to help conclude all debates that require feedback from a mass global audience like yourself.

Here is what I would like you to do. Visit The Cross Hair (Users in Pakistan click here) and take the quick survey. The survey is avaibale under the "The Answer" heading. We really appreciate your help in this.

Oh yeah, do spread the word.


A Wandering Thought: If I Could I Would ....

... Spend all my winters in Karachi, all my summers in Toronto, all of autumn in new york, all of spring in europe, be there for all my friends and family all around the world, write and retire at 45 with enough cash to indulge in all the crazy stuff that I couldnt afford to do now!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pervez Musharaf Meets Jon Stewart

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is probably one of the most widely watched political critque show in North America. Jon is a keen observer of US politics, critical of the currentl US policies in Iraq and the middle east and doesnt waste any opportunity to find gaps in what the US government says and does. His astute sense of humor and ability to put his guests on spot made his meeting with Musharaf an interesting encounter.

In a typical Jon Stewart way, he had a surprise that no one was expecting, a pot of jasmine tea - that he got from some Pakistani store - along side a plate of twinkies. He poured a cup for the prez and for himself, and started his discussion with a toast to Musharafs health. Barely had they taken a sip that he came with his controversial question, where is Osama bin Laden.

When I saw Musharaf on Sunday in 60 minutes, I was dissapointed. He appeared to be mellowed down, a man defeated in his endeavours. The soldier in him appeared to be lost in battle or missing in action. But that wasnt the case tonight. He was sharp and on his feet. He had a response to Jon's curve balls. He responded to Jon's Osama question by saying "I dont know, but if you know where he his, lead us to him." The discussion primarily revolved his memoires In The Line of Fire (I am getting it next week hopefully) but the entire references were around Pakistan, the culture, the people, the frontier provinces as well as the treaty with the tribes in Waziristan. Jon couldnt hold his punches back on George W and asked Musharaf if he seems "attentive" in conversation and if he is open to suggestions about Iraq.

Musharaf handed himself very well. He was articulate in his responses and I wouldnt be surprised if he won a few hearts with the show today. The final question that Jon asked, as a part of his seat of heat segment, was that if Osama and George W ran for some governement office in Karachi, who would win. In his true style, Musharaf remarked, they would both loose misreably. The response elicted lauhgs among the audience and the host alike.

From the view of an absolute Pakistani, and some people consider me a pro-establishment right winger, I would not have any else but Musharaf represent us on such a forum. I looked into the list of all the past leaders since General Zia and I couldnt picture anyone creating a decent respectable and moderate image for Pakistan as does Musharaf. I have seen leaders like BB, Nawaz Sharif (goodness imagine that dumbass on any talk show) and others constantly pushing their political objectives. Musharaf recognized the need and the nature of the show, and played along. Yet another reason why, despite some of his shortcomings, I continue to support President Musharaf in quest to improve the global image and domestic situation and economical situation of Pakistan

So Wrong Yet So Right

I hit my 3 PM brick wall today at well a little after 3 PM. With whole ramzan and roza thing - it was just way to tough to focus on doing work, which I didnt do much of after the said time. However I had to keep my self busy.
Its at times like these when somethings that are so wrong seem so right. Out of the blue I found
this game on the internet, and its kept me busy everysince. Enjoy it, rock on and pass it forward.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Impending Ramzan and Other Occasions To Ramble On

Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way.
Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay.
But now it's time for me to go.
The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it's headed my way.
Sometimes I grow so tired, but I know I've got one thing I got to do...
Ramble On, And now's the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
I'm goin' 'round the world, I got to find my girl, on my way.
I've been this way ten years to the day, Ramble On
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams.

So ramzan is here. I refuse to call it "ramadan" like so many people do. I dont know why, maybe its an Arabic translation of the word or whatever, but it just doesnt sound right. Like calling wuzu, wudu. Whats with this, irrespective of what others may like calling it, I will stick to my basics, wuzu will be wuzu and so will ramzan.

In respect for the holy month thats upon us, I decided to tone down my weekend activities a notch. For the next month there wont be friday night outings to the madison or saturday night flings at Club 279. No more controlled substances or substances that can result in lack of control. Its probably going to be in-house movie nights or board games at the most, which honestly is quite a bit of fun if you have the right people to enjoy it with. However, tonight, its myself and some classic rock on the sound system. I am listening to, surprise surprise, Led Zepplin and a little while ago they started of with Ramble On. Which is exactly what I decided to do. Just talk, ramble on and update my blog which hasnt really been updated lately besides the weekly blog word.

Ever since I have been in Canada, ramzan is generally accompanied by confusion of when the month actually starts. This year wasnt much of a difference. At my cousins last-day-before-ramzan halwa puri breakfast there was quite a bit of deabte among all those present, none of whom were obviously fasting, about wether today was ramzan or was it tomorrow. There were conflicting reports from all over the place and my mother herself was fasting today. Its a crazy world out there, theres going to be such a conflict on eid as well. I just know it. We cant decide when ramzan is going start how can we expect there to be consensus about other grave issues that the muslim ummah needs to act upon. Lets just face it, unity, consensus and muslims are three words that wont be positively used in a sentence in the foreseeable future. Even in Pakistan, NWFP would occasionaly celebrate the ramzan and hence eid a day earlier then the rest of the country. It became a running joke there, be lets be honest here, if man can devise a way to actually land on the moon, then it should be effortless to spot it and determine the month according to the lunar calendar. But what logic percieves as effortless isnt quite that effortless in reality, or so it seems.

I guess our parents know us the best after all since I got reminders from my mother and all those at the breakfast mentioned being reminded by their respective parents about fasting during ramzan. One of the friend got the funniest text message from his father. Well we found it hillarious maybe because we know the fellow, but at the same time, his father told him ramzan shoro ho gaya hai, kotahi nahi honi chayay. The mere articulation of that message was rib ticklingly hillarious. If he his reading this, then I apologize for using the anecdote but it was funny none the less. You know it mate.

Ramzan always makes me feel nostalgic for Karachi. The ramzan spirit in Karachi was amazing. Things were different. People were different. I was talking to a friend the other day who was talking about all the concerns with traffic congestion and making it from work to home in time etc, but isnt that all a part of what one may refer to as the ramzan spirit. I would remember one of my very religious drivers who would stop in the middle of the road in ramzan to offer his prayers. It still beats me why, why is it admissible to delay prayers by a short while in other months and not in ramzan. But then I myself am toning down my routine for Ramzan so I am no one to point fingers.

The ramzan spirit, as I may have just coined it, allows people to pull of quite a few things that may not be normal otherwise. Excessive speeding around iftar time is one of them. Cursing at the samosa wala to speed it up is another. Carrying dates in the pocket or the cars dash is quite normal for people who are on the move a lot. Also making it to all the ramzan buffet place roughly an hour before iftar is quite normal as well. You can even spot long line ups at places like Village or Lal Qilla or even Pizza Hut. Bar B Q tonight is packed as always and iftar parties become a rage. In true Karachi style, there are quite a few individual who measure their social status by all the iftar parties they are invited to. I am not sure how many of them actually fast, but yet they do make an "appearance" at the iftar parties. Considering that working days and spirits are much shorter than in regular days, ramzan is almost like a mini vacation.

Unfortunately, we in North America dont quite enjoy ramzan to that same level. Fasting is the only difference in our routine and maybe things like praying regularly and reading the Quran also in some cases. The gym usually falls out of the picture but lets be honest, its suicide to go work out after not eating anything during the day. This in some way feels like what Ramzan was intended to be like, not the way it is Pakistan or the middle east.

So aside from Ramzan, I am eagerly anticipating Musharaf's appearance on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. For all those who arent aware of it, the prez would be making an appearance on the polictical satire, to promote his autobiography, In The Line of Fire. I will definitely be getting a copy of the memoir, but the wit of Jon Stewart and Musharafs candour would be worth watching. The opinion of Pakistan and to some extent prez Musharaf can be gathered from this clip from the show. Furthermore, on his recent trip the prez has come under fire for comments about Richard Armitages' threats to Pakistan post 9/11 as well as Afghan Presidents accusations that Pakistan continues to support the Taliban. That added to the fact, that Musharaf is probably the first person of his position from the islamic world to make an appearance on the show makes for an interesting encounter. The show is schedule to air on Sept 26 11:00 PM EST on the Comedy Channel in Canada. Dont miss it.

So now having just gone on and on nothing of much significance, I will now go and watch something that goes on and on in a much similar manner, Saturday Night Live. Although I must say its a lot more enjoyable than reading a blog. So with best wishes for ramzan party on, as much as one in this month.

Words for the Wanderers Word

Part 1
So yet another installment of the weekly word. Somehow, it feels like a weekly ritual that if not performed, would cast a dark black cloud on my thoughts, my imaginative capabilities and my expression. Ah but how it could it be so, after all its a mere word and whats a word without an action, a combination of characters that conjures up an image in any ones mind. An image that maybe dark to some bright to others, an image of gore an image of beauty, an image that we wish to create of what we transalte those set of characters to really reflect. But all our translations are based on our experiences, our understanding, our context. The words I say are powerful in my world, the words I say can stir up a storm in my world, the words I say can break barriers that define the limits of my world. And it is the farewell from these barriers that allow you to peek inside what I have refered to as my world. Its the power of these words, the weight of the characters that allows for thoughts to flow and ideas to intermingle. When I read your words I understand your world and make sense of it and if you have decided to read these words so far, you may have gathered an idea of what my world is usually about. If you are thinking "a lot of talk leading to no particular conclusion" then you arent really off base.
Part 2
And there arent too many words out there that pin down the misery of our lives as accurately as these; from one of my all time favorite movies, Fight Club:
... an entire generation pumping gas.
Waiting tables.
Slaves with white collars.
Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes.
Working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.
We're the middle children of history.
No purpose or place.
We have no Great War. No Great Depression.
Our great war is a spiritual war.
Our great depression is our lives.
We've all been raised on television to believe that one day
we'd be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars.
But we won't.
We're slowly learning that fact.
And we're very, very pissed off.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another Wandering Word: Truth

So no one told you life was gonna be this way

Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A.

It's like you're always stuck in second gear

When it hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year...

The Rembrandts

Some times, the simplest truth about life could be a sitcom theme song away.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Weekly Blog Word: Decisions

A little over five years ago, some one, some where took a decision to take down WTC.
In the modern history, that is one decision that changed the lives of millions of people across the world.
Lets hope that people making such decisions are killed before they execute their heinous designs.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It seems that one of the side effects of fever is the foot in mouth disease. Earlier this morning, after suffering from varying degrees of fever, I decided to visit the doctor. By the grace of God, I dont fall sick too often. So I dont really have a fixed doctor to go to, in fact I havent been to a Doctors in at least two years. So I ended up at the nearest walk-in clininc that I could find.
The lady the reception registered me and I waited. The door to the doctors office opened and I saw the face of an angel.
Yes, Dr.Goldstein was a young beautiful doctor and when she called my name it sounded like heavens summoned me. I was caught up in her looks and her pregnant glow. Yes, she was on the family way as well. But that glow just left me spell bound. Like we used to watch cartoons that would float with the waves to find the food, I floated my way to her office on the seat across from her. And so she asked "How are you doing?" and in my state of spell-bindedness the only response my mind came up with was "I am doing well. How are you?". Dr.Goldstein laughed and asked what I was doing there if I was well. And then it hit me, I stepped out of the trance, albeit quite embarassed and explained what was bothering me. She did a check up and told me all was well. But if you ever read this Dr.Goldstein, it were your wonderful eyes and your face that can put any man in trance, that made all things better for me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

This Whole Thing About The Bugtis of Balochistan

If you are a Pakistani or an Indian who is exposed to propaganda machine called media or even someone who just takes interest Pakistani or South Asian politics, you would have seen the news that a certain Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed yesterday. The government called him a rebel a title that obviously does not please his supporters like the handful of agitated Balochis who ran amok in Queeta or the Indian media and security agencies who used Bugti time and again for create unrest around the Pakistans most critical energy reserves.
So who was Akbar Bugti and why did his end come in such a horrid fashion. To begin with, I am saddened by the fact a human life was lost in an unpleasing fashion but this however is no reflection of my feelings towards his exit from the political fray of things. As you might notice on his Wiki site, he belonged to a family of the ruling elite of the Indian Sub-continent and later Pakistan. He basically inherited his status of a so called political leader and more or less aptly labled by the government as a rebel leader. His great-grandfather, was an ally of the English prior to the 1947 partition and the whole family came to significant lime light when natural gas resources were discovered in their "tribal area" which pretty much remains under the control of Nawab Bugti and his band of trigger happy men.
His end was a long time coming. In Urdu there is a saying that latoon kay bhoot batoon say nahi mantay, which can be translated to the tune of some people just wont learn without physical punishment. Akbar Bugti, under the guise of a protector of Baloch rights butted his head with several governments before. There were times in the 70s when he was bombed by the air force. Then to control him he was put in power of the province as well. Yet he continued to be a pain in the governments already painful behind. And so it goes that Musharraf drew the line and decided that it was time to get rid of this malignancy developing in a region of increasing importance for Pakistan as well as South and Central Asia.
So what he did do? Well his demand was to seek royalties for the gas being pumped from his fields and going to the entire nation. Which is a fair demand. As long as the moeny earned in return goes to the people who deserve it, those who love on their land and not their sardar. Who is actually the feudals who more or less "owns" the people of his tribe. He is the king and his word is the final word. This in a soverign country is not acceptable. Now you may argue that fedulaism is at the root of the weed thats keeping the country from progressing so why only him. Well the answer is simple, other feudals have managed to work without calling for rebellion for their personal interests. They havent been working at the behest of other nations to challenge the national security situation. And so, they get away with it, hopefully not for long.
So who is the "foreign hand" in this equation. Primarily India, but as one goes on to think may not neccesarily have been the case this time around. There are basically two schools of thought on this situation. One that looks as historical events and recent developments and points at India and the other that points at some vested interests of some Arab states. Lets deal with India first.
I just remain astounded by the fact that a country as progressive as India recognizes the destabilisation of its neighbour as key aspect of the foreign policy that goes around in the secretive strategic circles of that nation. They are enourmouse, much more huge than Pakistan. They are economically a lot more stable. But yet, they continue to counter the Kashmir situation with creating insurgencies within Pakistan. Their first and foremost was the Balochistan province which is known for its mineral reserves. Think of it this way, it comes very close to being the Texas of Pakistan. India starting supporting the insurgencies by covertly funding, Bugtis "Liberation Army". Weapons were purchased people were harrased and killed, key infrastructure were threatened and the situation came to the level that Prime Minister Bhutto (the senior)had to order bombing of Dera Bugti in the 70s. Gen. Zia, succeding Bhutto, tried to calm things down by putting Bugti in official posts. That was when India started funding the "Mohajir" insurgency in Karachi. Eventually, that insurgency was brought under control by similar brutality by the governments, ironically it was the Jr. Bhuttoo who had to face the music this time.
With Bugti out of the present governments favor and Indias continous strategic drive to support insurgencies in Pakistan, the Bugti found a new more resourceful financier in his ill concieved plans. There were some skeptics who suggested that the IPI pipeline project would require that India withdraw its support of the Bugtis so that the region could be stablized for the project to go through. However, we all know the US does not support Iran and the sweetend the Indian energy pie with a significant nuclear energy deal which put IPI on a back burner. Hence the Indians continued their shenanigans in the Balochistan area causing the serverly restrained security resources of the country to be further burdened. That is what some may suggest to be an Indian hand theory.
So what about the Arabs. Why would our muslim "brethren" think of destablising our nation. The answer is economic interests. At this point of time, the Gawadar port project is somewhat behind schedule already. See the great vision for Gawadar was to be the new Dubai, at least logistically speaking. Pakistan is located at a very geographical location in a very interesting shape. We are a passage way. A passage way to China, a passage way to cenrtal Asia. The western chinese border and a good number of central asian states are either land locked or do not have access to a major ocean. At the moment, what ever trade that these regions indulge with the Atlantic side of the western is, happens through Dubai. It has by far the strongest sea faring logistcal set up to support the international demands. Gawadar, had it started operating on time, would have been a direct threat to Arab port. Hence the consipiracy theory that the Bugtis were being financed were Arabs.
In either case the Bugtis were seeking financing from external source which harboured malicious intent for the nation that they were a part of. It is but a simple of principal of gurellia warfare that has been seen in use time and again in some shape or form since the begining of history. If that was the case, then the government had the right to eradicate any threat to internal security and infrastructures of national importance.
As always, there have been protests. There were protests when Castro attempted his first revolution of Cuba and failed. There were protests when Shoko Ashara was arrested for gassing the Tokoyo subway. And so there have been and will be protests in light of this development as will. However, it is high time that the Baloch, the Sindhi, the Punjabi and the Pashtuns all develop a nationalist sentiment and realize they are an amalgamation identities on common grounds of religion. It is religious and thus social harmony that should bind us together in making out nation a strong prosperous nation that it deserves to be. Lets keep our dirty linen within the confines of our border and be cautious of all those international interests that intend to malign are social integrity.
People are using this opportunity to once cry fowl against the Musharaf government. But whatever the case maybe, he did set a strong example for anyone who bore such rebellious intentions. If you have to rebel, rebel against the extremisim, rebel against illitreacy, rebel against all the social ills that are plauging our communal fabric. Dont rebel against the nation, because if push comes to shove, the people who stand gaurd for the nations security, will definitely shove you out of existence.

You Know You Are Not At Home When

You have to get up and do the laundry and pay a buck-fifty for it as well, all this while running a fever!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Homeland Hangover

Its a common occurence. An evening of indulgence, mixing of several brews and liquors, followed by a morning of severe head and in some cases body aches as well. A dry throat, limbs that resist motion, eyes that arent party to opening in short a body thats facing retardation. This is a physical hangover. I recently came across an emotional version of the same phenomenon.
It took me three years to become used to Canada and start enjoying life here and it took one 20 day trip to Pakistan undo all that. I miss Karachi aggresively. Its in my thoughts and whatever I do and whatever I see is compared to Karachi. The food and its relative lack of taste, the house and the significantly dirty room mate, the job, the comfort, the feeling of being home, everything.
And this, this whole thing about constantly reminiscing the good times become an impediment it gets in the way of a leading a normal life, it gets in the way of being able to do work, it gets in the way of organizing life and moving on. This is what makes it a hangover. Sadly, asprin and coffee wont take care of this hang over - I got to live it through, drag my feet through it and then possibly one day, I will wake up fresh and ready to take on Toronto once again.

Inspire for the Wanderers

I have said it before Ill say it again - Karachi is my muse - and every time I step away from Karachi it takes a very long time to find inspiration again.

A life without Karachi is a life without Inspiration!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Son and his Soil

I am currently sitting in a place where I am somewhat out of element. The thought that I paid money from my own pocket to be here makes it even more uncomfortable. But the comfy cushy chair that I am sitting on, the manhogany wooden table thats my workstation, the filipino attendant who smiles every time I ask for a drink makes it a little more comfortable. It is Saturday the 19th of August, I was supposed to be in Toronto today however, nature had other plans since it poured in record amounts all over the city of Karachi, paralysing the city and immobilizing any movement along the major traffic arteries. Long story short I missed my flight. But whats that got to do with me being in the place I am ? Well read on my friend, since today I have some more time than usual to write and it seems I have caught your interest as well.

Let me start by describing what had been a bit of rift, a tussle, a fight for rights between a son and his soil. Karachi and I met up after 3 years in end July. It was like a mother meeting an angered son who had returned home after learning some golden lessons in life, probably something on the lines of the "subha ka bhulla" philosophy in Urdu. She, it seemed had been angered a bit as to how the son estranged her but was still rather happy to have him back. She didnt complain and embraced the son whole heartedly, the breeze was just to his liking. The days were mixed with the right amount of sunshine and clouds. She kept bringing people around that the son would have enjoyed meeting, she kept creating opportunities for her sons entertainments and new found indulgences. She was trying very hard it seems to keep him back. But the son had plans of his owns. He was now a bit of adventurer, a bit independent, with a taste of freedom and as much as he loved the soil, he wasnt so far convinced about returning to it for good. And thats when it seems that the soil, the city, the country that I had occasionaly refered to as mother collaborated with another mother, nature, to delay the my departure.

All analogies and freaky writing aside, the rain was the worst thing to have hit Karachi. I have never seen things so bad and watching the city detiriorate and suffer was the worst feeling. That added to the fact that I was wading through atleast a feet of rain water mixed with sewage and other liquids that I really dont want to know about, while looking for a cab to make it to the airport annoyed me to no extent. Emirates said their flights were on time, Geo said that the city was facing the worst traffic jam ever, Radio Cab said they werent in service till next afternoon, Aaj said that people were getting electrocuted, AK said that I cant make it, Sab said that I should relax, Naj said that I should keep trying for alternate flights through the night, Adnan said that he was stuck forever at Schon circle, my mom said that I should call a cousin who has a jeep and while everyone said all this stuff, I kept looking at the clock and kept dropping the F-Bomb with every passing minute. It moved from 6 to 7 to 8 thats when I went looking for a cab or finding a cop whom I could bribe into using his car to drop me- no such luck. 9PM and I am sulking now. I started hating the city I loved, the soil that mothered me to quite an extent. I started hating it like theres no tomorrow. 10PM AK walks in, his clothes covered in water, his car - a survivor of yet another brutal monsoon, his face a smile from ear to ear brimming with stories about the evening. I wasnt thrilled, it was evident, written all over my face. I kept quite for a while and then I snapped.
All the shit that had been accumulating in my head about the city came out, in epic proportions. From blaming its residents for choosing incapable useless mayors to blaming the federal government for putting the countrys biggest city in such a position. And so the day ended. Me annoyed, hungry and pissed at the arm twisting tactics of mother nature. The city logged with water over twenty dead. An emirates airline flight 603 that went to dubai with one less passenger.
I woke up from what some would call sleep and what I would call, a brief passover into another state to recharge the body enough to function the next day. In my view, my eyes were closed, my brain wasnt functioning and my body was unwinding from the physiological stress that it had been through a short while ago. I woke from that state bright and early. I started calling Emirates, I started calling my travel agents. I started getting scarier news with every call. "No Dubai-London flight is available till the end of the month" said the Emirates folks. "Cant do anything for another 2 to 4 days" said the travel agent. "All flights till the end of the month are fully booked" said PIA and Etihad who go straight to Toronto. I suddenly saw my life crumbling down in front of my own eyes. Loosing my job, not being let into canada, not having enough money to pay my dues, become a hobo and finding myself with a bottle of malt liquor lying in a box outside a salvation army office. Life suddenly lost all meaning and pleasure. I called my partner in crime, my disciple of windsor, the robin to this batman, the one and only Adnan Haroon who took it upon himself to make sure that I get a ticket by 1PM.
In the meantime, AK got the ball rolling on his end aswell. He could sense the gravity of the situation and started approaching his contacts in the business of travel. Naj kept calling to find out what the latest was and kept providing much needed moral support. At 1230 PM I got a call from Faizan at the travel agency. He had a proposition, an offer, the kind I couldnt refuse. He said he has a ticket available that left within 24 hours. Emirates. Karachi-Dubai-London-Toronto. He could issue it by 3PM. Is this real I thought to myself and as though he had heard my thoughts, Faizan presented the pincher the in this proposition. I would have to take the Dubai-London route in business class, that would mean upgrading my ticket and paying 25,000 rupees for the upgrade. I had no option and I agreed.
You must be going - WTF Mate - 25K - holy crap - ah well but your misery might be over so its almost worth it. Ah but its me we are talking about, Mr Last Minute Man. If I were Catholic Id be a Murphy, since all that can go wrong does go wrong with me. Like the line of thought that I had assumed a smart reader of this post would come across, I agreed to the 25K deal. I asked AK to take me to main Citibank branch so that I could use my debit card to get the cash out (the canadian cards only work in those machines for some reason). But as luck would have it. The machines were out cloud. Frigging Rain. I went to the consumer banking division hoping they could help, but it was friday, they leave at 12:30. Once again A Haroon came to the resuce with a cheque for 25K that I used to get the ticket at 5PM PST.
There were still talks through out that duration about predicitions of rain. Naj advised that I should go to her place which, relative to where I was living, is a stones throw to the airport. I took her up on that and after an almost teary eyed farewell hug with AK, Robin aka Edward aka Adnan drove me to Naj's residence at almost 11 at night. The rest of the night was spent in a lovely conversation with Naj's hubby Nabeel and Naj herself. At the end of it, I once again realized why I always looked upto her as my bestest bud you rock girl!
So alls hunky dory, things are going well, I think I have started seeing the silverlining on this dark cloud, even though it cost me 25K but still it seemed it was there or so I thought. At the Emirates counter at Jinnah terminal, the gentlemen checking me in told me that I was overweight. No not my own weight, I know I myself am overweight, but he was referring to my luggage. So I had to indulge in a quick commando action to spread the weight between my two suticases and my hand carry. I was eventually still overweight, and ended up paying another 4000 to the emirates folk. Total additional billing is 29,000 for the day. OUCH!
So if you are still guessing where I am. I made it to dubai - no problems at all thank god for that. I looked around the DFS with a maxed out credit card and 29US $ as well as a little over a 100 Pak Rupees. Then I walked around looking for the internet and thats when I saw, the Emirates business class lounge. Got to get a return on those 25K right. So I ended up here. Free food, buffet (it was breakfast when I got here) free internet, amazingly comfortable chair, clean and lovely bathrooms, free news papers from around the world a few good looking and charming ladies to add a bit of spice to the whole thing. The only other time I travelled in Business Class was in Pakistan on Karachi to Lahore, so such Pampering is alien to me and I am going to enjoy every ounce of it till I am here.
So what of the story about the City fighting with her son. Well the son lost it on the city, called it the worst names, suggested that everybody in their right minds should alienate her for such an attitude. All this while the city listened, with a bit of pain I am sure. The son was still mad for a good part of the next day. But as things slowly started to fall in place, he realized how helplessness had cause him to lash out in anger. He went to meet the city, saw a good number of things he loved about her. Saw how robust and rugged she was in the face of all the wrong things and realized, that it is she that he truly loves, it is this soil who's son he can truly claim to be. In the mean time the city also realized the sons need to explore and seek adventure and thus they resolved there differences and parted on a merry note. The son promised to try and return more frequently and the city hoped she could keep progressing and developing to make the son proud wherever he maybe. The lost song the son heard was mujhay yaad aya meray watan tu yaad aya and with much fond memories of bitter sweet moments they bid each other adieu.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free - Blogword For The Week!

The first time I felt I was free my mother put a diaper on me. The next time I felt I was free the teacher sent a note to my mom calling me a cheater (god forbid if that should happen). Another time I felt free the girl pushed me back and screamed at me for kissing her. The next time I felt free I got a boss who constantly told me what to do. There was another moment of freedom which ended with her asking what I thought about marriage and where the relationship was heading. And the last time I felt free I was at a friends wedding and I saw him sitting next to his wife smiling a smile that would last as long as the crease on his suit. Thats when I realized, freedom is relative, it changes its shape and form and hence the rules that determine it. So maybe I should look up that girl and see if her current definition of freedom would allow for that kiss to go through without the the kicking and screaming ;)

Last Day in Karachi

I should have written this post on Sunday but thanks to all thats been happening in London and the travel agents in Karachi whom one cant really trust for a solid advice, I ended up delaying my trip for few days. I leave tomorrow back to Canada for an indefinite period of time, who knows when I come to Karachi next. The classic line came from Jammie who responded to my SMS about the delay in departing with "shes a keeper". Cheers to that and to all the good things the city has kept.
I think its a bit premature for me to be penning or typing my thoguhts down about the trip since I am still enroute to the conclusion of it. I would like to snuggle in my armchair in Toronto and reminesce over the past three weeks before categorically spewing out all that I loved and loathed about the city I call home.
At the same time I would like to thank all those of you who took time out to take me around for shopping lunches, dinners and breakfasts. Most of all the Two Ks, Kabeer and Kiran and their family and their dhaishatgard of a son who kept the dullest moments alive. I hope I can reciprocate the hospitality when you folks visit Toronto.
The saddest part of the trip was the the fact that I lost my camera, ah what Irony. I make it back home after 3 years and loose my camera. Theres no real pictorial proof that I was here. How sad is that.
Anyhew, to all Karachi friends, old and new, single and married, parents and pregnant, its been a pleasure. I will undoubtedly miss the great times that were had over the past few weeks and would look forward to more merry moments in the days to come.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Much Belated Blog Word: Rain

Almost in time for the next one. Ah well I am on vacation so I assumed I could be a bit tardy.

Rain - it cant be just a shower
Rain - its got to have some power
Rain - dark clouds, cool breeze and the smell of soaked sand
Rain - comes out of nowhere, spontaneous, unplanned

Rain - it brings smiles to many faces
Rain - it brings joy to many places
Rain - Its blamed for choked traffic and absent power
Rain - it treats all the same, Defence, Gulshan or Mereweather tower

Rain - you got to love it, its natures big surprise
Rain - you got to revel it, with samosas,pakoras, all things fried
Rain - for it cant come too late or too soon
Rain - so lets sit back and enjoy the Karachi Monsoon

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Soaking In Karachi

Almost a week into my trip - I lost my camera somehow so sadly no pictures - but there are some random observations. Enjoy!

Its been about absorption ever since I landed in Karachi on the 26th this month. Absorbing the new layout of roads, absorbing the humidity and heat (of which there hasn’t been much so far), absorbing the bacteria in the city air, absorbing the elaborate sequence of dances at weddings, absorbing the fact that friends are now, parents, spouses and fiancĂ©s, basically just absorbing what Karachi is all about.

Things have changed, both for the good and the bad. It is difficult for me, at least right now, to give in an overall opinion of where things are heading. There is a slightly positive and hopeful attitude among people but this again is the opinion of the people I have spoken to. It may not necessarily represent the opinion of the masses. None the less there is lots of construction taking place. Roads, bridges, underpasses and that is always a good sign.

The purchasing power for the rupee has gone down significantly. Just last night, I spent 85 rupees to buy a small bottle of water and a big bar of Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate However the consolation was that it’s a mere buck and a half in dollar terms. This does make me think about the Pakistanis who don’t earn in dollars, could they not occasionally spoil themselves by indulging in a luxury like chocolates.

Shockingly enough, as the prices have risen so has the level of consumerism. The concept of branding is being implemented across the board in all possible interpretations of the idea. Everybody is a marketer here. Engineers, Doctors, dentists, gardeners, cab drivers, they all “know what they are talking about” when they talk consumerism. Sadly, I am may not always be an ally to their opinion. Also embracing growth is the media industry, which has what some called boomed and what I would call bubbled, over the past few years. The number of radio and TV channels has multiplied in a very short span of time and the direct result of this expansion is an industry wide extrapolation of the law of crappy people. If someone is not a marketer there is a good likelihood that they maybe a producer, writer, director, of a segment on the plethora of channels that vie for a share of consumer viewing along with a huge number of international, primarily Indian, TV Channels. The quality of the content in such an environment is not surprisingly poor however, the availability of such channels suggests that aspirants wishing to develop high quality content would have an avenue to do so. If I were an investor Id wait a while before investing in the media here. I foresee that in a year or two, the bubble would burst, the underperforming stations would go under and there would be significant consolidation in the industry, with bigger players buying smaller stations and maybe even boutique channels coming into play. That maybe the time when the focus actually shifts from the channel to the product and in this case content alone.

Among other things that I have had to come to terms with is the fact that my good friends are now parents. Its one thing to hear about the children or see their pictures and a completely different ball game to watch the little critters in action. They are a bundle of joy to say the least. Leading the cast of the brat pack in my circle of friends are Najla’s Affiyah and Kabeer and Kiran’s Basim. They are just a super duper pack of energy, who go around frolicking in their care free lives like there is no tomorrow. What beautiful little things they are.

Aside from meeting a handful of old friends over the past few days, I have also ran into in some new people I had never met before, and would probably not have met had I been living in Karachi. These are the faces of a newer Karachi. People coming from all corners of the city and country and dwelling in the safer, better managed areas in the southern part of the city. They socialize with new people all the time, they drop names like there is no tomorrow, they supposedly rub shoulders with the who is who of city. They recreate and they procreate amongst themselves. They are gay, they are straight, they are sweet on the face and would stab someone in the back. They kiss each other every time they see each other and they talk as though life is an episode out of sex and the city. The level of plasticity in their life is beyond belief. Yet another shade of this ever growing city.

And in the past 2 days I have been experiencing the monsoon. That exclusive rainy season that graces this part of the world at this time of the year. Sheets of rain pouring down with unbelievable strength virtually without a break at all. Aside from the usual corners and ravines that would gather water in this season, the rest of the city or at least the locality that I am living in, has stayed much the same. This is a far cry from the Karachi of the yesteryears where a pour would imply roads clogged with water, immense traffic jams and a huge number of stalled cars. One thing that hasn’t changed about the season is the power outage. When rain comes, the power goes, but the coolness of the weather doesn’t make it unbearable. Update between the time I wrote this and uploaded it there has been additional rain and a good part of the city is water logged. The newly built Clifton underpass is being termed as the biggest swimming pool in the city.

Finally, so far, I haven’t fallen sick in Karachi (touch wood). I am only cautious about drinking water, but other than that I have freely indulged in consuming all the gastronomic delights that I have been offered. Halwa puri, Kebabs, Chicken Makhni, biryani, qorma falooda etc etc etc.

So I am of now, to enjoy the downpour a bit more. All this while Kiran tries to keep her one year old indoor, out of the rain. She seems to have control of the situation. Its unbelievable that a mere few years ago Kiran was one of the girls privy to all our naughty antics and pranks that we played in the college days. Karachi, its people, my friends, have evolved rapidly while I was away and like a sponge in a basin of full water, I am overwhelmed and bloated by the level of change that has come about. I missed some changes, but I am loving being here to see some more things in the process of change. Heres to Karachi, may you always change for the better and become the best.

In Transit

I wrote the post below while sitting at the Abu Dhabi airport waiting for my flight to Karachi.

I am currently sitting in the waiting lounge between gate 21 and 22 at Nadia International Air Port in Abu Dhabi. The temperature here is 32 degrees and its not like the Toronto 32 where the night cools down or Karachi 32 where the sea breeze would temper down the evenings. As I stepped out of the aircraft at terminal that didn’t have Jetway facilities I was welcomed by the hot desert air. At first I thought it cant be that hot, its probably just the engines, but I realized in a short bit that that was not the case.

If I were to give an award for the cheapest, tacky and ill equipped airport that I have been to, Abu Dhabi would be it. National flag carrier did not have access to jetway facilities, the security staff can barely communicate in any language other than Arabic. I asked one of them a question about the location of the gates and got a “yes, yes” in response. The maintenance staff is primarily south asian, Pakistani, Indian, Bengalis, and all of them are familiar with Urdu/Hindi so that’s a bit of relief.

Another sign that I am currently in Asia was the lack of civic respect that other travelers had towards the folks waiting in the lounge. There were several individuals smoking away under a no-smoking sign. When requested, they said “this the last one.” The attendants weren’t too bothered either, they walked passed these smokers without giving it a second thought. A norm for them I am sure.

The funny thing is that no one seems to paying attention to the PA systems. There are regular announcements about reporting to gates but people only move when an airline representative comes in the waiting area and shouts “anyone traveling to (put destination here)” He shouts a few times, gathers the bunch that he can and like a cowboy managing his herd, leads these passengers to the relevant gate.

At the moment, the terminal is full of Pathans, I have nothing against them except their stare which is rather disconcerting. To add to that, I am wearing shorts, I guess they like to watch bare legs on anything that walks up right. Me, the stewardesses, maybe an ape even if it passes by here. I have walked to gay neighborhoods of Toronto, Montreal and New York but have felt such piercing stares (Ryan, I can feel the pain of your Pizza Panzerotto experience).

And another feature exclusive to our part of the world, the physical expression of male bonding. Men walking around holding hands of other men, others holding each other by their wastes. Throw in a few dykes and fancy floats and we can have a pride parade UAE style.

My flight will start boarding in another 45 minutes. I would then be heading home after 3 years. There are 3 people in my hometown who are aware that I am coming, the rest would be get a surprise, hopefully a pleasant one, when I call on them. The thought of that, the anticipation of the responses and mostly being in Karachi with childhood buddies make all this worth it. And to be honest, its not bad, but rather a very amusing experience. Cant wait to breather the Karachi air, and maybe cough afterwards, but still breathe on.