Happy Birthday To You …

The ladies sit together. Pink balloons on their table indicate a celebration. Their clothes seem perfect. Almost too good. Hair made up perfectly. Ladies who wear the hijab have on the most tasteful hijabs one could imagine. Smiles abound.

And there is a popping sound and a sound of laughter. One of the balloons meets a terrible fate at the hands of one of the ladies. She stands in an awkward arch, laughing, not quite sure what to do next. But she resumes her poise very soon. Five of them and the chatter is audible enough for the whole mall.

Far from the elevators walk in four men, two holding bags on their shoulders. Baggy pants and buttoned shirts. Black to brown to blue to whites, a range of manly colors adorned their fit and stout bodies. The men don’t really seem to care much about how they look. Unfinished and unpolished, or rather unkempt. They walk over to the ladies who are now making space on their table.

One of the ladies calls a waiter who is wearing a red tee. Tall guy with dull features and stooped shoulders pulls over a table and a few chairs to the ladies’ table and chairs to make more room. He seems uninterested almost disgusted. It looks like a routine and he is used to seeing groups of young men and women chill out. His eyes avert and he just puts everything together and rushes off.

The group sits together and one of the men takes out a yellow crown made of paper and wears it on his head. Seems like he is the unkempt birthday boy bent on being the entertainer, also wearing black sunglasses. While it is evident that it is a birthday bash, this group of youngsters is totally unaware of realities or at least wants to care less about it.

The selfie session is on. Group selfies and picture time. A 2k+ spending on food and an extravagant card that has snippets of memories and a snow spray on everyone. The women seem to be in charge of the party arrangements while the men seem to just execute anything handed out to them. Evidently the societal conditioning of human beings.

Some new forms of celebrations pop out. Call-outs, hearts, mooch and fancy specs on sticks to click some more memorable selfies. All of the memorabilia which costs some money to buy and was not handmade. Another area where the women got creative and men only executed. Societal conditioning????

The washrooms aren’t devoid of the selfie- mania. The ladies throng the washroom to just selfie themselves. Another depiction of what the society expects of women who have a smartphone with camera. The confirmation and validation women ‘try’ to go through to fit in is level best weird. It can be judged from the fact that each woman gets an individual picture with the birthday boy, in addition to the gang picture, while the guys get a gang snap only. Looks like the gay fanaticism is high in this group.

After all this spending and celebrating in all the earnest, most sensible young people find it absolutely their right to do so a second time and a third time, money being no issue each time. But that man in the red tee who help put the table and chairs together doesn’t really get that chance. He just stands by to see more such celebrations and earn his cash. This guy might not think it weird to get individual snaps with all his buddies or even weird pics with his buddies, but maybe with women he might have weird reservations. O yeah he will. So there is a practical weird for everyone.

We have two poles and amazingly sometimes they just co-exist in the same space at the same time without saying a word to each other. Sometimes without even hating each other. They don’t even love or appreciate each other. They just exist and that is Pakistan or may I exaggerate KARACHI!

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Take Me Up … Please!

The morning brings a new hope.

Well to most people.

To some its a routine. A boring and exasperating routine.

To those who want to change, everyday is an opportunity. I guess only 10% see it as an opportunity to change. To swell and grow.

In a country like Pakistan where somehow people manage to filter out the worst from all that is going on, opportunities get filtered too. What many miss is you can only grow food where there is none. Plant a seed where there is a barren land. In a stagnated or full grown land, there will be no space to plant a seed or grow anything. But then again the farmer waits and waits to get his produce. Patience is a virtue. Isn’t it? Sometimes its requires a lifetime to get results.

The worst situations could be the best recipe for growing into resilient organization. And by organization I mean any sort of organization, an organized human form. It could be as small as five or as big as five hundred thousand.

But every economy has its own requirements. A growing economy will not pay repeaters very well. It will distribute the wealth between them, paying the initiator the highest and the followers in a descending manner. The initiator is the first person who found a new solution or brought an innovation. Growing economies have lots of problems which need to be addressed and any such initiator gets the chunk.

The better-off economy always pays off the innovator the most or the want-need creator since such economies have sufficed all their basic needs. Or at least the product should look like it is something out of the box.

Thinking in terms of economy and direction gives a better view of the opportunities available in a country without the drama that is usually attached to defaming and deriding a place and finding excuses to not doing something by blaming everyone around you and not doing your own part.

Obviously something needs to change but someone needs to do them if everyone is not doing it. The opportunity is lying open and staring people in the face, requiring a sense of responsibility 🙂

‘happy’ new year…. really?

Here we were dancing as a nation to the tune of the Taliban as they blasted some 140 children out of nowhere. Just before the year turned new and just before the world celebrated, Pakistan buried some of the well educated children whose only crime was being related to an Army space.

The media goes berserk and so does the international political space. But the borders of Pakistan aren’t safe and the LOC becomes a line of tension. The American President decides to visit the subcontinent and suddenly the exchange of fire and arms is on the high. Whether this happens as a matter of strategy by both countries or as a planned execution by one, the series of events is alarming to say the least.

The destabilizing fires in Karachi and Lahore, the targeted killing in Peshawar, is just the beginning of the age old game of bring-the-attention-of-the-people-to-daily-chores-and-poverty. Once accomplished the simple man will get busy with the daily life with a new fervor that maynot necessarily be positive in all its manifestations.

As things are again falling back into place we can assume the positivity of people will also fall back into place!

Lets play elections

The recent political environment changed to considerable heat and dangerous pokes when details of the elections 2013 in Pakistan were bared open by a member of Election Commission of Pakistan. The to and fro of comments and news conferences, even resignations which do have the potential of being over turned is an exciting game that has started. The people sit glued to their screens listening to people who claim to have experience, are pretty old and seem adamant to leave their seats.

What makes this a matter of concern is that the public of Pakistan loves new conspiracies and new games. Will this open, bare and outspoken statement of a member of the Election Commission of Pakistan strengthen the stand of the people and the Inquilaab/Azaadi March or divert all attention to itself and kill the media hype that the Revolution needs is yet to be seen.

For now the drama is in nascent stage. The ball is in the election commission’s court to prove that they did conduct one of the fairest elections that Pakistan has seen, which is by far not true. But as they say not all five fingers are the same length. Not everyone in the Election Commission of Pakistan is corrupt and shrewd. And that makes the task for a common man even more difficult!

Finding Peace…

“Some people just don’t give up!” Mujeeb said with desperation, throwing his Iphone on his bed which slid across and fell to the floor.

Krishna looked up from his book and knew what was going on. Both had been room mates long enough for that.

“Why do you keep arguing?” he asked, “Study, that will help you more!” and he threw the Psychology book at Mujeeb. Mujeeb caught it and crossed his arms looking with an angry expression at Krishna.

“Why can’t people just let go? Why can’t they just believe that Pakistan is a sane place and Islam is not the name of a terrorist organization?” blurted Mujeeb keeping the book down.

Krishna got up and walked over to Mujeeb, “Coz they need to gossip man. You are taking away their joys. How about giving people something to talk about!” picking up the book and thrusting it back in Mujeeb’s hands. Krishna waited for Mujeeb to open it.

Exasperated Mujeeb opened it and started reading but his mind was stuck. An hour passed. Krishna kept an eye on Mujeeb all the time knowing full well Mujeeb would snap. And he did.

An hour later…

“I have had it,” he reached for his Iphone, opened Twitter, looked at the distraught Krishna and typed his reply. He then looked up with a victorious smile at Krishna.

“Happy?” asked Krishna

“Yup, very!” a broad smile across Mujeeb’s face.

“What did you type?” asked Krishna.

“Nothing much. I said that may God help you find your peace like He helped me find mine!”Mujeeb smiled again. This time Krishna smiled with him.

Mobbing to bring a change…

Another turmoil in the country…

Another movement, another call for jam packed ‘dharna’….

Personally, this feels good and a bit changeable. I used ‘changeable’ because it feels positive and the call for mobbing (again a very wayward word) seems to be making a positive impact on the majority. Although the imbecile and impotent politicians would like to think it is derailing the so-called hanging-by-the-thin-rope democracy, I feel it is strengthening a bit of it. After all a strong opposition is all that a strong democracy needs…

While people will gather 11th May, many uninvolved parties have already started leveling allegations against the intelligentsia involved. Seems like the harassment has already taken its toll on the weak. The weak has gone for a grievance procedure and is looking for some satisfaction. But the grievance procedure is detailed and long and needs to be preached to a higher authority and most probably is being preached to the major fund-givers of the country. Now isn’t that sweet! But that is not the ‘changeable’ part.

The ‘changeable’ part is the electoral crap that comes every five years with division of the entire Pakistani area among the existing parties. The parties enjoy the fruits which come from the labor of the workers living in each. The feudal ownership of land and then swap it for another portion every democratic term.

Unfortunately this is inbred in successive generations, from father to son/daughter. Breaking a psychological satisfaction of automatic ownership is a breakthrough. Earning instead of inheriting is a better choice, even for the baby born with the a silver spoon. The inheriting class does not want to go from being the inheritors to earners, which is fair. No one wants a life of luxury turned into a life of hardwork 🙂 The other way is pretty easy and imaginable.

But the ‘changeability’ is inevitable in an environment. That is the law of nature. Someone will rise to the occasion or the people will be fed up with the lawlessness. If the inheritor wants to survive in luxury, they have to provide for the people too to make them happy. Minus that and down they are to hardworking! Money is a fickle friend 🙂

 

Coming together to social improvement…

For the past month I have been writing half-baked posts, and leaving them to bake to perfection, but they never came to perfection. So this time its either do or die 🙂

The International Dance Day was commemorated in Pakistan with some of the brilliant dancers of the region giving breathtaking performances. Some dancers got together for a bigger cause, the country! It is always amazing how each element of the society comes together for the betterment of the society in their own capacity.

The critics, seculars, Islamists, atheits or minorities have always had a stance, free speech. Extreme poverty, decadent lifestyle has never stopped them from having their own respective powers and stances within Pakistan. Ofcourse the rich is born with a tongue and the right to speak, but this right is earned by an impoverished man.

In times of desperation the rich and impoverished need to line up together and of late this has been going down. Whatever the political, social and dire reasons, the liaising of two social strata can be adventurous for both.

Social understanding and ideas for social betterment can come from a refined mind that has a direction. Although it is hard to find such a person on the lower level of social standing, yet the lower level can be honed to come up to expectations and move forward. While we may be light years away from developing a rocket to send into space… some small incidents do lend hope that the glue holding the class structure of the society is still fresh!

Art Thou a Good Book???

I recently read a news article that Malala’s book launch was stopped in Peshawar. And IK had a balanced yet debatable view on it. Although we don’t have ‘jahils’ in Peshawar we can’t call KPK an educated mass of land which can bear the brunt of Malala’s story. When Karachi and Lahore have issues with her book and cannot sit and debate about her book amicably in a reasonable manner without disrupting the peace of the larger majority and the non-Muslims of Pakistan, the book was being released by a dastard crowd in the most volatile province of Pakistan. Does that make sense to anybody? It doesn’t to me!

Book launches in Pakistan are a wonderful affair, smell of fresh paper, literati and the media circus. It does wonders to boost your self-image and, if you are an avid book reader, does wonders for that mind that is yearning for the flow of words and some alone time with a fresh cup of chocolate, milk or tea.

I particularly like the signing booth. I guess most writers would like to see themselves signing books, but the line of excited people trying to get their books signed by the author is mesmerizing. Shows a lot of compassion for books.

Same goes for exhibitions and book expos. A whole lot of books sold and a whole lot of people looking for those favorite and wonderful titles from old stocks and and clearances that different participants do in exhibitions. But exhibitions are a wonderful way to see new countries exhibit their collections of exotic covers and once in a lifetime chance to see some of the titles. They might be priced heftily but some titles are just single copies and such expos might be the best time to grab them.

Books and information in books should be treasured and pleasurable. Investment in books and lone time is made with a motive of enjoying a novel or reading for understanding one’s life better and easier. Once that is out of the equation, no one will want to buy a book. No one wants to listen to a soliloquy or self-praise. No one wants to read something that degrades one nation or one class, creed against another. If someone is looking for such material explicitly, beware, they might have severe failings as an individual to find fault with a crowd!

Harass the harassment…

“Muashra kharaab hai (the society is not good for you),” said the mother, with concern.

“Bahir jaogi to kuttay kha jaegay tumhain (If you go out alone people will not leave you),” said the father, furrowing his forehead.

“Taangein na tor dun tumhari mein (I will break your legs if you leave the house),” said the brother, tightening his fists

“Bohat shoq hai tumhain sunnay ki, aur sun lo (Don’t you love listening to all this),’ said the sister, filing her nails.

These are the regular you can hear in the less-than-average household in Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, maybe any random city of Pakistan with slight variation in the severity. Anyone who knows such a household will know when a girl from such a household tries to go out and work cannot because of the ‘wow’ factors of the such a neighborhood even though the girl will wear the best covering in terms of clothing.

Another scenario:

“Khayaal se jana (Take care),” said the mother, concerned.

“Bhai chor aaega, akele mat jao (Don’t go alone, take your brother with you),” said the father, motioning the ‘younger’ brother lounging in the couch to get up and walk his sister to the stop.

As frustrated as he can be at being asked to get up from that couch, he still goes with his ‘baji’ till the stop.

“Mujhe bhi job karni hai parhai k baad after studies (I will also work after my studies),’ said the sister, gulping her milk with a wishful look on her face and hurrying for the van. A slight look of concern flashes across the faces of the parents.

A middle class family prays for the safe return of their daughter each day. She travels in a bus to save money for that Sony smartphone and for that wedding gift she wants to buy her friends next month. But she has ground realities waiting for her till she can fulfill all those innocent wishes.

And there you have a household with a story and a community with a culture and a Pakistan with a sensibility. But do we have to be concerned with the concerns that all these people have for the female gender of the society. Let me think and ask again….. oh yes we do. Are we insecure? Yes. Is that good? No. Can it be any different? Yes. How? 🙂

A famous Pakistani comic strip thinks we should raise our voice against the atrocious behavior that leads to such sensibilities; namely sexual harassment and sexual assault. But what has raising voice done for violence against women, liberation for women and rights for women. Little I would say! So without raising voice and crying out loud, I say solve the problem.

It isn’t that difficult. Groping a woman isn’t funny, neither is calling her funny names on the street or even talking about her in a sexual manner with a bunch of friend; that my friends is the worst form of sexual harassment that goes unnoticed, un-felt and unseen. So who is the culprit here and who is the victim. Personally I feel the old adage; a victim, being a victim gives rise to oppression. Now, now, now don’t just start with that stereotyped whaling, ” O she is against women,” or even the more famous, “she feels so victim-centric” whatever that means really! Coming back…. both the oppressor and oppressed are to blame.

Women in our society are ‘taught’ to be the weaker sex, ‘brought up’ to be the weaker sex even ‘conditioned’ to be the weaker sex, so much so that many, almost 90% believe that being weak is being pretty. Sorry to burst your bubble gals! It aint pretty, you are stronger than you think, use that physical and emotional strength at least to protect yourself. Men on the other hand are always ‘taught’ by those same ‘weak’ women that they can conquer the world and by some magical inference women too.

So sexual harassment ‘comes easily’ to men and not to women. Has a woman ever groped a guy in a public bus? Has she ever hooted at a lone boy in Pakistan? Will she ever think of touching him? The answer is a plain NO! She wouldn’t touch a boy no matter how high on estrogen she is because she is ‘ingrained’ with morals, while there is ‘no check’ on the morals of the boys of the same family! Boys can fake it too well I guess. The same ‘weak’ women of the family will hardly notice it through the facade!

Cutting a long story short, most of it comes from the house, training and what and where you learn. A man who harasses a woman outside his home, probably doesn’t respect his mother, doesn’t talk right to his sister or has ever seen what an ideal gentleman should be like. He probably has a father who has been a failure in his life, or doesn’t respect his own wife or mother and will never respect his daughter because he knows what world he has created for her. A harasser lacks confidence in himself always, don’t give him the confidence that he can shake yours!

Rigging In 62 and 63

Hatred! Black and red, burning, scorching and taunting. Back when Section 62, 63 were launched into the limelight, this was a select reaction by a select group of people. These people came from different walks of life; especially politicians.

The politicians tried every act in the book to kill the Constitutional requirement. And yes they did kill it. They got away with it. After all it is a requirement made for man, by a man, ordained by Allah. Ewwwwww. Now that is a tough one isn’t it. Ordained by Allah. Don’t mess with the big guy, as in ever. He usually knows how to get his way.

After hearing Imran Khan’s first speech hours after his accident, something seemed out of the ordinary. Something was just not ‘political’ enough. Then came an interview of his members. Me got skeptical, they can’t be so simple people. Methinks that was just a political stunt. But then came the ‘regular’ political and somehow the Gilanis are a gem of a people and should have more emotional outbursts. They give the true picture of how dirty politics can get if it is ‘made’  to run in families and if power is institutionalised.

Now the simple people in team of PTI don’t seem too out of place. Me-now-thinks why shouldn’t we have sincere and honest, simple people in our government? Why shouldn’t we have people who are educated, smart and not opportunistic? And these characteristics make up Section 62, 63 I believe.

The 2nd speech and address to the nation that Imran Khan has actually won him more supporters. People want to live decent lives. They want to be honest and simple. They don’t want to be dacoits, murderers and playthings for party motives. Now the youth sees light, optimism and its importance. They want to live in peace. Kindly let people live the life they deserve!!