July 27th, 2017

Comment Gone Lengthy. CGL V.0

Felicity and Faramin,

I seem to have missed out on a lot lately. The two of you make some compelling arguments, let me try and see if I can help put my perspective across too.

Felicity, you have a very valid point. I will be the first one to admit that it is imperative that we put our house in order as a nation. Yet, I feel you are slightly off course.

Despite our flaws and shortcomings as a nation, we have a right to live – to not be bombed into oblivion, because a very powerful and insecure country two continents away from us has been led to believe that we pose a threat to that country. If this American premise to attack Iraq is justified, then perhaps another nuclear country might be just as justified in nuking US for fear that someday the US might nuke them. The reason no-one has done that so far is not because US has “taken them all out”, but because factually speaking no country would want to get into a war with the super power. Theoretically, however, a country strong enough to “take US out” should take it out, because US poses a threat to it – as does every other country of the world to every other country of the world. Justifying this premise, thus, is plunging the world into war.

Yes, the US name does seem to come up more often than any other, despite the fact that there are actually some countries in the world where man has inflicted and continues to inflict worse misery on fellowmen. Yet, you must make room for the fact that the US is, if only on paper, the most educated, the most advanced, the most democratic, and the most just country in the world. The US has not become a super power solely because it has the largest stockpile of annihilation material, but also because it has led the world for over a century now in all walks of life. It is the seat of learning, the epitome of civilization and the land of ideals and dreams – or at least until very recently was so. That is the real reason for its being at the top. It is at the top, because the rest of the world looks up to it.

When this leader of the world turns into a vigilante, and then into a bully – the rest of the world cannot be blamed for becoming jittery. When the US, as the leader of human rights, attacks and destroys country after country, and actually takes high moral ground for having done so, the task of the smaller bullies becomes easy. The life of an average human being becomes so much more endangered.

By comparison, when in countries with less than 30% literacy rate, and rampant ignorance crimes against humanity are committed, they do not pose a threat to the rest of the world. They pose a challenge. The economic factors that have allowed these extremist outfits to flourish need to be addressed – not by anyone in particular, but by all who care. So that the next generation is not hijacked in the name of religion. Where I know that in the last 20 years media in our own country has had an intolerant rhetoric tilt, we both know that all and sundry revile the attackers of the mosques – be they sunni victims of shia attacks, or shia victims of sunni attacks. The silent as well as the non silent segments speak out against this outrage. But, that is a different discussion. What I mean to say is these extremist factions do not have any pretensions of, or claims to being the champion of the people. So, their crimes, while no less severe, pale by comparison to those of the US because the US and its respect for human rights were to be the epitome of hope.

Also, the power of those extremist factiosn when compared with this bull gone crazy is nothing in terms of the threat it poses to the world. Hence, one sees more people speaking out against the US actions than others crimes. In short, US actions have a deeper, much deper impact on the shape of things to come than anyone else.

I do not present the extremists’ ignorance and intolerance-steeped upbringing as an excuse for their actions – I just hold US in greater contempt because it is better equipped to respect and defend humanity and does not do so. Instead, what one sees it indulging in is the worst kind of selfish manouvers – where a deemed threat to US lives, however preposterous, is reason enough to flatten a country full of people.

The two, Felicity, rooting out ignorance-induced extremism and stopping power-drunk bullyism are not mutually exclusive. However, for the threat it poses to the world, the latter needs immediate attention. Achieving the former might not be of much use, if the latter by then has got out of hands. Addressing the US problem might just make it lots easier to contain the extremism threat. Imagine, even if half the billions spent on bombing Iraq and Afghanistan had been invested helping poorer nations cement their academic institutions and structure, the last three years might have brought a sea chnge in the way the world looked at the US.

Instead, the world looks at this bully gone crazy with fear, apprehension, and despair.

For full discussion, please refer Faramin’s blog.

Madi, Joseph and Mansoor. 10

Now, doesn’t that sound like an interesting topic for a ch’haar darwesh story? My posts may not be ch’har darwesh stories, but they are ambitious attempts nontheless. The title, I would think then, is apt. The CD stories are seldom containable in one post, or tome. At least, they always present that growth potential, and one ought to be optimistic about these matters, hence the “1″. This “1″ implies a lot more than it says. It tells you that the author takes it upon himself to help you manage your time better, and so will not be burdening you with the complete details just yet. It also asks you to make a mental note to come back again – for, for every thing that has a volume 1, it is implicit that there will at least be a volume “2″, if not more. Thirdly, it makes it binding on the writer to keep his mental faculties operational by telling him that he might be in for a marathon rather than a 100m.

I am not very good at diary like posts, and often end up typing out lines after lines of boredom, as might have been guaged by discerning readers by now. Not that I think my non-diary posts are any better, but at least they do not imply that I am a boring old man with a boring penchant for boredom. At least, they do not advertise …

Wait a minute! Where is all this going…?
Do you see now what I mean? I am talented enough to destroy the promise of a perfectly nice title. Well, not today. Not now. Hopefully, not often.

It has been an interesting day, and I have decided to try and see if I can manage to reflect that here… The day was interesting because of the three people, whose names give this post its title. They made a perfectly (read painfully) average day great, and I dedicate this post, and quite possibly some to follow, to them.

Let us start with Madi. Madi isn’t pronounced the way it is written. It is pronounced the way it is not written. I guess, if it were to be spelled the way it is pronounced, it would be spelled Muddee – not with the “d” of mud, but with the “d” of Urdu dada, or Russian “Da”, or for that matter the Arabic “d”. Yeah that’s right, the last one fits it very well.

Now with the pronounciation out of the way, let me tell you that Madi is the name of one of those courageous men, who chose to be friends with this imbecile many years ago, and have since stood by their decision, come what may. He was here from Karachi on some training course being conducted by his hot shot company, and we managed to meet up a couple of times to catch up on old times. Old times happen to be the 16 months we’d spent together in PCBA back in 1997-98.

There was a lot going for us then. All the nice, pretty and beautiful girls (are there any other kind?) were falling for Madi, and I was going around proposing to each of them. Actually, I got to them with my proposals, even before Madi got around to getting them to fall for him. The worst part is he just had to be there, and be the gentleman he is, to make them fall for him. The best part is not one girl accepted my proposal. Best for them girls that is. All this, when he was just half a kilo heavier than me. It did not matter what weight I was, he was always half a kilo heavier than me. I had a theory. He had this full sand-papery shave even back then, and that was the half a kilo of difference. Either that, or he did not cut his nails. Given a choice between the two, he would inevitably be more agreeable to the former option. Why? Beats me.

We found out we were on the same wavelength during our study sessions. It would often transpire that we would get together at his place for joint study. We would agree to meet at something like 8 p.m. and be through with our thorough understanding of the topic/assignment at 2:00 a.m latest. 8:00 p.m. used to be the time I would get to his home from my hostel. After having seen the latest episode of Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, we would let his mother treat us to a scrumptious dinner, and then proceed post haste to his room sporting studious looks as well as attitude. The time by then would often have whizzed past us to 10:00 p.m. The books would be opened quickly, but before we even got started with the first topic, we would drift into either a story from his past or mine. After, the first three sessions, it used to be only his stories, since I did not have very many left in the bag by then. The first break would come with tea and snacks at midnight, after which we would often agree that we were running short on time, and needed to focus on the task on hand. The task on hand would often be an impending exam, or imminent presentation.

This is how the first five minutes of study would go at 12:35 a.m …

Madi: Oh, this is the one. I remember the teacher (names vary) had explained it with this analogy.
Me: Oh, yeah, and look here, these are Bilal’s notes from the classroom… and didn’t Felicity raise this point in the same case.
Madi: Oh yeah. See, this is how it applies to problem no.1… (followed by 30 seconds for explanation).
Me: Hmmm… the next ten problems/slides look the same.
Madi: They do? Show me…
Me: Yes.
Madi: Yes, they do.
Me: That takes care of half the chapter.
Madi: (Looking at the wall clock) We are still running behind schedule.

So, we would repeat the above five minutes for the rest of the chapter.

Madi: There, now we are ahead of schedule. Just need to get powerpoint ready. Shall we take a break.

I would give my consent, and we would drift back into Madi’s stories and my poetry. At 2:00 a.m. we would realize that we had fallen behind schedule, and so would get down to work. By 3:00 a.m. the “work” would be finished, and we would be worried about getting up late in the morning. Madi would often suggest that he could skip shaving, and I could skip brushing in case we woke up late – or we could both skip washing our faces with soap, which would translate into massive savings in soap and water over the next 3349 years. However, in case we were running really late, we could always skip tying the laces on our shoes, and he would also not lock the car. So satisfied with our time management feat, we would stay up another half hour, and would be woken up five minutes later by his mother just in time for our half hour trips to bathrooms.

Upon reaching college, we would run to Felicity and ask her if she had studied anything the past night, and she would tell us that she had. In evidence thereof she would tell us the story of the latest John Grisham novel, or a review of the latest movie she had seen the last night. We would then send her into depression by telling her that we had been up till 4:00 a.m preparing. The grades were always the same, Madi and I would score in the high eighties, and Felicity in high nineties. We hated her. We did all the hard work while she watched movies and read novels, and she always got better grades.

Anyway, Madi was here, and we were meeting after over two years. In the meanwhile, he had got married, and had been blessed with an angel. Reminiscing was fun, and meeting after such a long time was even more fun. Hope you can make it for a longer period next time, ol’ friend.

If I do not go to bed now, no amount of skipping will help me in the morning… So, Jospeh and Mansoor who made the rest of my day special shall have to wait till the next post to find mention….

Yaaaaawn! Shab Bakhair.

Comment expected to go lengthy…. CGL IV0

(This post is addressed to Jalali Baba. It is written in response to his comment on the previous post. It is meant to be a token of thanks to his highness for having taken time enough to post a comment on this infidel’s blog. It is also meant to be repentance for impertinence shown by this infidel to that exalted comment in not addressing and replying to the comment properly.)

Jalali Baba, allow me to start by offering half of the hair on my head as an offering so you may look kindly at this token. I am also enclosing a turtle’s egg shell, the left claw’s imprint of the alley’s black cat on the photocopy of my 10th grade mark sheet, a GM brochure of 2005 models, two party size KFC meals, and 24 Snickers’ wrappers with Snickers bars packed in them as an advance repentance offering for any words of insolence that might find their devilish way into this token of repentance and respect post.

Having said that I would like to disclose that my first response to your kind remarks, worded rather unkindly, albeit typically, was to complete and upload the third installment of Introduction to Jalali Baba, which awaits its ending paragraph since the day after installment two was posted. I realized, however, that it was important to first make this offering, which is why I decided to postpone it for one more day. I hope to complete that installment soonest and upload it here for the world to see. I assure you Baba that I have already admitted your greatness in the way you have patronized Yawar over the last couple of years. I shall leave the rest of this topic to be covered in that post.

Coming to your exalted comment, allow me to take this liberty to break your comment into more manageable mini-comments, so I can do justice to the whole comment.

“You forgot to mention another sibling, the one inspired by Yousfi. Bhai meray, amar-e-waqia yeah hay kay mammolay ka shahbaz say awallen takraoo Iqbal nay karwaya thaa. tum nay phir yousifi ko khainch lia.”

Baba, the sibling inspired by Yousufi is not part of the sibling rivalries. He is the good humoured elder brother whose purpose in life is to smile knowingly, to quote Yousufi, and when in doubt about any idea – to attribute to Yousufi. Call it his aqeedat with Yousufi sahab, and his unshakeable belief that it is safest to attribute all literary wisdom and excellence to Yousufi.

There have been inherent draw-backs in this approach, like the time when he had declared to an aghast audience that Yossarian was originally a character in Yousufi’s books, but when Joseph Heller had stolen the idea and the name for his Catch-22, Yousufi Sahab had graciously renamed his character Mirza. In evidence thereof he had elaborated on the phonetic similarities in the two characters’ names. Surprisingly, it was at this point that the aghast audience had changed into a not-so-aghast audience. He continues to believe that this was proof enough that they were convinced of this truth.

There was also the time when he had tried to prove that the only reason Yousufi’s work had not been translated into any other language was that no other language had been gifted with a proponent with such impeccable command on that language, because of which no translation could do justice to the beauty of Yousufi’s work. He still has me sold on the idea. Actually, he has the two rival siblings and me sold on that idea.

It was because of this reason that the Yousifiic sibling did not find mention in that post. Understandably, while the other two siblings fight for personal glory, this sweet soul endeavours to get Yousufi nominated for Nobel prize in Literature, because as he says, if Urdu ever had a chance at Nobel Prize, it was more because of Yousufi than anyone else. In this he conveniently sets aside such legends and geniuses as Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz, Ashfaq Ahmad, Bano Qudsia, … and the scores of others who have brought glory to Urdu. Nonetheless, I hope I have complied with your implicit command, and brought the third sibling to light.

Every one else supporting Yawar: Please have mercy on me. You have read 3-4 “works of art” by Yawar hence you like it. But every time Yawar has a new aamad, it is relayed 150 Kms to poor me on the phone.

Yawar is flattered, Jalali Baba, that you choose to refer to his humble pieces as “Works of Art” and choose to lay emphasis on this term by enclosing it in inverted commas – lest other infidels like yours truly overlook this award. Yawar undertakes to make an offering of 2 Fatayers with Jubna, 1 KFC Family Meal, a dead rat, and two alive lizards as a token of gratitude to you for your graciousness.

I would most humbly like to point out though Baba that the distance between your home and that of Yawar’s is over 175 kilometers and not 150 kms. Actually, it should be stated at a real value of 213.52 kms because of your propensity to lose your way coming here, and mine to do same going to your place.
p.s. There have been times when the aamad had materialized while Yawar was sitting in Ajman, beng given lessons by the legendary Mr. Nazir Khan in newspaper reading in the car etiquette, on which occasions the distance would actually have to be stated at 275 kms, given that Yawar always takes the longer beach-side road coming back from Ajman.

(hmmm… Yawar also seems to be influenced by Yousfi: Professor used to do the same in his bank and relayed poetry to subghay)

Jalali Baba, given that Yawar works for a financial institution I am assuming that he is the Professor in your Yousufiic analogy (the Yousufiic sibling concurs). This would make you Subghay, in which case you have a lot more to worry about than just Yawariyat. You will recall Professor did find his way to glory, (not withstanding his falling for the left ear of his interviewer and his surprise at finding that the other ear was equally beautiful), while subghay was left to Magrudic devices… or the lack of those for that matter. While on the subject may I borrow Sharh-e-Ghalib from you once again….I promise to read it this time (Yawar concurs), and blog about the experience (knicq concurs).

To tell the truth, I have developed a lot of poetry based personality disorders because of Yawar. I have to listen to the latest “Kalam” and also have to say Wahh waah, mukarrar. I implore you: Have mercy!!!

Your sense of humour is caustic Jalali Baba, for you to ask for mercy from infidel blogistanis is nothing short of tafannun-e-ironic. Your greatness in patronizing Yawar is lost on no one Jalali Baba. May Allah reward you for this kindness. Yawar for his part makes an offering of road kill lotas of the motorway brought to note by Momma, doubly sugared cookies baked by Abez, and a 90 minute digital recording of dholki by akvetcher.

Yawar is humbled by your declaration that he has had a part to play in the eccentricities, which make you special and unbearable at the same time. He undertakes to make an additional offering of Dunkin Donuts’ Family Pack, three and a half dried roses, two bottles of Spanish Olive Oil, a 100 stubs of Marlboro Red, and a Soehnle bathroom scale.

For my part, I thank you for your patience and understanding, and as a token of my appreciation, gratitude, admiration, and dissent undertake to make an offering of Introduction to Jalali Baba – III ASAP.

Sibling Rivalry.0

This post comes just so I do not slip into the complacent mood completely, and resort to posting Yawarnama on daily basis. Actually, unless Yawar comes up with something new and original, he shall have to wait at the sidelines from now on. Okay, maybe now and rarely then, he will be allowed to delve into Yawariyat and post something from the past. But hey! No way does he cannibalize knicqness with his stale old contributions… or so one hopes.

Yawar is all of ten years old, and is not used to having a sibling around. Knicq, ever since he came around, has taken a lot of attention and that does not sit well with Yawar. I am sure every now and then when no one is looking Yawar lands a few punches into knicq, and poor knicq is probably just not sure how to respond to that. He will learn though… everyone does.

It was not easy for Yawar y’know. He was persecuted like anything in his infant days, and had it not been for sheer grit and determination, he probably would have succumbed to his fate long ago. I can understand him getting nervous by this new arrival just when he was beginning to come into his own, just when he thought he could bask in his own glory, just when people were accepting his right to walk the street too.

Knicq, poor thing, for his part cannot be blamed. How was he supposed to know, he would make Yawar that uncomfortable just by being around? It isn’t his fault Yawar did not have it easy. It isn’t his fault, there were no akvetchers, Abezs, Saadats and Ayshs to steady Yawar’s step and hold his hand. It isn’t knicq’s fault he has them. In all fairness, he hopes Yawar were this blessed too, at least the green eyed monster wouldn’t have reared its head. Who knows if he had had them, he might just have done better too…

In all fairness, don’t all these people who steady knicq’s step, go out of their way and give Yawar a pat on the back too. For all his whining, Yawar should remember that he was blessed with personal attention from the likes of Mrs. Khan, the adorable and doting Urdu teacher in college. He was also in a world where the rules had been laid, and the path trodden. He just had to find the courage to walk that path.

Knicq comes in a world that is still discovering itself in many ways. There are not one but many paths, and he is stranded at every junction clutching his map with no co-ordinates marked anywhere. He doesn’t have it easy either.

If Yawar should get his fair share of attention, knicq sure could use some moral support as well…

Sibling rivalries, how does one cope?

Two Rubayees, and a Nazm.0

a)
Uryaani ab alaamat-e-irtiqa thehri hai,
Ahl-e-watan main ghairat na’n haya thehri hai,
Dukhtaran-e-watan se kia kahiyey keh unke liyey,
Burqa qissa-e-maazi huwa, chaadar saza thehri hai.

(October 1995)


b)
Yawar, meri saqafat ka program dekha hota,
Dukhtaran-e-watan ko raqsaan bar-sar-e-aam dekha hota,
Itney baras kitaabun main kiya padhaa kiyey tum,
Jo PTV pe aaya, kal woh Islam dekha hota.

(March 1996)

c) Fauj-e-Yazdaan.

Raastey assaan bhi ho saktey they,
Musaafir jawan bhi ho saktey they,
Ghaasib akela bhi ho sakta tha,
Zaalim natawan bhi ho saktey they.

Har dua hee gar Yawar,
Teri maqbool-e-rehmat hoti,
Har roz hi gar,
Mo’jza roonama hota,

To sehal bohat mujaahidun ko,
Qudrat ke imtihaan ho saktey they.

Par tu….
Keh na Zaahid hai, na’n Mujahid,
Tu kia jaaney lazzat-e-talkhi ko,
Ramooz-e-diqqat-o-mushaqqat jo,
Ayan hotey jawanan-e-millat pe,
Woh fauj-e-yazdaan bhi ho saktey they.

(November, 2002)

Eid, then and now…0

Then…..

Eid, in the UAE, has become a loads better occasion today than it was a decade ago. At least in terms of the options we have today. Eid is also a melancholic affair, because it brings back hordes of memories. Memories of a childhood spent in this same house, of scores of Eid prayers offered in the same Eidgaah, of the anticipation of Eid holidays, and the excitement of not having to touch the books for three straight days. I hated studying. Loved reading, but hated studying. In the Qureshi household, the only days you did not have to study were the days on which you were not allowed to fast as per shariah – the eid holidays.

One sorely misses going to the Eid prayers with one’s adorably simple and amazingly wise father, one is hit by the pangs of not having one’s brothers around to hug after the Eid prayers. In a strange way, one fondly remembers being rushed in the morning, because one was inclined to taking one’s own time when bathing, which on the special day of Eid could not be allowed, because it could jeopardize making it to the Eidgaah in time. Then, ofcourse, there was the coming home to that hug and the kiss on the forehead from Walda. It was more a ritual in later years than impromptu expression of affection. It was just what you got after the Eid prayers.

Once knighted so, the three ogres would proceed to the next ritual – the pestering of the princess. It is amazing how she managed to be in a foul mood on the morning of every Eid. It was part of the ritual I guess…

Her sharp, curt retorts were the icing on the sheerkhorma. On normal days, she would get reprimanded for unladylike behaviour I guess, for being impolite and what not. The ogres would probably find themselves serving the equivilant of grounding. But, not so on Eid. It had become so much a part of Eid mornings, even Walid sahab and Walida would enjoy watching their little lady fighting off the ogres. Princess had this habit of lapsing into English when pestered, and that was what the linguistically challenged ogres enjoyed most. Poor thing. Its been so long since I was with the family on Eid, too long actually … I don’t know if she wakes up in the same foul mood today, though it looks highly unlikely. She must get pestered the same though. Yours truly was never the more original of the ogres anyway – so one doubts if his services are missed much. Post sheerkhorma, and Eidi, Eid was much the same every year.

The limited options we had in television stations, only the local television stations, meant that we were at the mercy of the mostly arabic stations – as long as they ran special programs for kids (read Japanese and English cartoons dubbed into Arabic), we had something to do. Walid saab was very particular that he did not want us getting influenced by the “dish culture” so we did not have PTV either. Occasionally, he would allow us to rent a video, but as we grew up this occasion became less and less rare. Perhaps because we had stopped watching hindi movies early on, we had not developed the immunity which was required to sit through a hindi movie as a family. English movies, mostly action movies, were considered a better option because they were often completely sterilized by the censor boards of GCC.

After that it could vary from sleeping off the rest of the day, to reading a novel if available, to calling all friends, to entertaining an occasional guest. In later years when we had moved into this pre-dominantly Pakistani neighbourhood, we would go out with the one or two friends from the neighbourhood, who could drive – but were required to be back for the family lunch. Not that we would miss Walda’s delicious experiments in the kitchen for anything.

Yaadein gehri hain itni dil doob jayey
aur aankhun main yeh ghum num bun jaye…..
(Aadat – Jal)

and Now…

Every Eid in the last 6 years has been markedly different from all the others. The UAE is a strange place in that it acts more like a transshipment hub (only a matter of time before I used a shipping term) for many people. People come and people go, so you cannot really be sure you would be spending your Eid next year with the same people you spent it with this year. More often than not, people you were with the whole day on Eid have gone home this year to be with family, or have family visiting them from home. So, when I talk about Eid now, I shall talk about the current Eid. It was one of the most enjoyable Eids too.

Firstly, it was announced on the 29th Ramadan evening, which had completely as a surprise to almost the whole country. Somehow, we had all had this feeling that it was going to be a 30-day Ramadan, so when the Eid was announced, people scrambled to the markets to finish the shopping chores they had post poned to the last day. The last day had come a day earlier, and now the roads were clogged with bumper to bumper traffic, and parking lots of gift centres and shopping markets were full. We were part of the same crowd, and while we were there we got this call from Jalali Baba, who insisted we had to do our Eid with them in Abu-Dhabi. After a little persuasion, we agreed to leave for Abu-Dhabi after finishing the menial chores the same night, and join them for Eid. Glad, we did.

I had to get this haircut, and get my beard trimmed, but I was in for a surprise when I got to the saloon lane. It was crowded like crazy, and there were these lads, mostly locals, getting all sorts of procedures done on their faces. I saw some wearing masks and sitting out and hoped they had not taken offence to what I thought was an imperceptible shaking of my head. Others were there for the same purpose I was. By the time my turn came, it was almost midnight, and by the time we left for Abu-Dhabi it was 1:00 a.m.

We got to Jalali Baba’s at about 3:00 a.m. and decided not to go to sleep lest we miss the prayers. Until then it was talk, talk, talk. After the prayers, it was some more talk, talk, and then sleep. At a couple of hours after noon, we were treated to bhabi’s wonderful Eid meal, and I had to come to terms with my first deviation from the strict diet control I had achieved in Ramadan. Spent the whole day feeling fatter, and resolving not to trangress my limits again – until the next meal, when I completely caved in. The only damper was the fact that Jalali Baba did not have E-vision, and we had to miss on the Pakistan-India match. Jalali Baba was the only one not interested in the outcome, but for the sake of the other three adults, I kept calling friends and getting live updates. By the 30th over of Pakistan’s inings, when it was clear that it was headed towards a nail biting finish, I was kicking myself for not forcing Jalali Baba to visit our place instead.

Got to see the higlights yesterday, and it gave me the same rush it would have watching the match, even though this time I knew the outcome. The only damper was the very unsporting crowd at Eden Gardens. I remember Pakistanis cheering each Indian shot as vociferously as a Pakistani shot when the Indian team was visiting Pakistan earlier this year – even though we lost the one day as well as the test series then. Consider that it was the first time ever that a test series was lost to India on home ground, and it puts things in perspective. I am glad we showed more poise, grace and sportsmanship as a nation even when we had lost. But hey, we won the match at Kolkata, and nothing dampens that – does it?

We stayed in Abu-Dhabi for two days, and left only on the next evening because I had an office to go to.

p.s. There was one other downside to the visit to Jalali Baba’s. We were so busy getting onto each other’s nerves, we hardly ever got around to logging on and wishing Eid Mubarak to blogistan on time.

Come January 13th, we shall make amends.

Eid Mubarak.0

It rained. It rained cats and dogs, it poured, … it rained.

The blessed ones living in monsoonic regions can hardly understand the significance of this one event in our calender year – if ever it graces a calender year. The last time it had rained was some three years ago, there was a drizzle here and there last year, and the year before that, but it had not rained. Today, it rained. VGA called from Dubai to tell us of a hailstorm that had Dubai’s roads whitened, and its residents frightened. On checking with Jalali Baba I found that the poor guys in the capital have had to be content with lightning. Sharjah, it seems, had it best.

I was delirious, and so was the rest of the city, but I was not shouting at the top of my lungs as I so wanted to do, and niether was I sitting out in the rain getting lashed by the gusts of wind carrying tanker loads of water. Oh, I so so wanted to do that too. I really did not mind if that meant contracting a fever for the next week. Fevers come and fevers go, how often does one get a rainstorm here? The sole reason I did not give in to these tempting ideas was that this was the first rain the kids were getting to see, and I did not want them following their nutty old man into the rain, or getting the impression that every rain had to be welcomed with screams. I wanted them to enjoy the rain, which I think Talhah did too. Ayeshah was lulled into sleep by the rythm of raindrops.

So, we got into the car, and followed the rest of the city onto the roads. That’s the only thing you do when it rains. There is not time enough for pakodas, because you never know if it will still be raining in five minutes. You just scram out, so that in the dryness of your cars, you can have rain all around you, and listen to its rim jhim on the roof of your car. Or if you can, you step out and embrace it. You look up and receive it all on your face, and let the tingling drops from the heavens wash your concerns away.

It lasted all of a half hour, and I found myself thanking the Almighty profusely every second minute. I do not think I thanked Him enough, nor do I think I can thank Him enough for this blessing (and all His other wonderful blessings). That was about 2 hours ago, but you can still hear the firecrackers some people have resorted to to celebrate the rain. I think they are just exhausting their supply from Ramadan, Eid and Diwali.

Oh, and in all the hoopla, Talhah insisted that he had to have his bereira, and it was almost after the rain had stopped that we realized that the poor thing was asking for an umbrella. He got his bereira alright, and so did Ayeshah – his purple, and hers pink. Hopefully, they will get other chances to open them under the skies this season….

Eid Mubarak indeed.

Kiyun Likhu’n? – The edited version.0

Kis baarey main likhun,
Main kiyun likhun?
Mairey alfaaz ki akhir…
Wuq’at hi kiya hai?

Kia Baghdad main goonjein ge kabhi?
Ya Kabul main kabhi sunaey jaen ge?
Fallujah ki kisi deewar pe raqam honge?
Ya Gaza main kahin barsaey jaen ge?
Ya bus…
Kaghaz hi ke seeney pe dohraey jaen ge?

Qalam ki sihayi se Yawar,
Jo kaghaz daaghdar karun,
Ehsas ke afriyatun ko,
Alfaz ka tabeydar karun.

Tarz-e-fughan chod dun,
Naalun ka toomar tod dun,
Nai tarz se guftaar karun,
Main har jumle se waar karun.

Mairey alfaz…
Jo dhadkanun ki taal bun jayen,
To azadiyun ki dhaal bun jayen.
Jo misl-e-shola bhadak uthen,
To ghaasibun ka ma’aal bun jayen.
Jo taaziyana bun ke lehrayen,
To aflak main wabal bun jayen.
Jo mujahidun ko izbar ho jayen,
To Mashreq, Maghrib ho jayen,
Junoob, Shamal bun jayen.

Magar Yawar…
Mairey ehsas ki akhir…
Wus’at hi kia hai?
In alfaaz ki akhir…
Wuq’at hi kiya hai?
Main kis dil se likhun Yawar…
Aakhir kiyun likhun?

Introducing Jalali Baba … II.0

Saab Ki Gaadi.

Jalali Baba bought this dilapidated Pontiac, against his humble servant’s sound advice, and promptly fell in love with it – the Pontiac that is. Half the things in the car did not work, but that still did not change the fact that the electronic seats moved eight ways, and that your hand landed right onto the gear stick if you rested your arm on the arm rest. What was also of consequence was that the hood of the car alone stretched a foot or two longer than his whole Daihatsu back in Karachi. It did not matter that the transmission was totally messed up, and would have to be overhauled anytime soon, nor did it matter that the automatic windows did not roll down on half the doors, I forget which ones. He was not even bothered by the fact that the air-conditioning unit’s efficiency was inversely proportional to the altitude of the mercury.

It was high maintenance, there was no doubting that, but it was low priced. He was happy with it. I, on the other hand, pitied him. American cars have been so outdone by their Japanese counterparts here in the Middle East that the idea of buying a second hand American car is often ridiculed. For one thing the only air conditioning that seems to have any answers to the oppressive Middle East temperatures seems to be under the Japanese hoods – yet he was happy, the seats went eight-way, and the hood was larger than the Daihatsu. It was late in the year, and mercury was only taxiing before its imminent take-off.

Off and on, he kept discovering the wonders of the car, and would make a point of calling me up and letting me know about them. Like the time, he found out that the car came with a computer built in, a computer that when plugged into would give a detailed break up of what was or was not wrong with the car. He was not perplexed by the so many things that were wrong. He was amazed you could tell it all in a jiffy. Understandably, I got the call.

Then, he had this Patrol (a Nissanic cousin of the Land Cruiser) clip his bumper rather harshly. He was all worked up that day because he had been in Al-Ain with family, and the outing was destroyed. But, the next day he was delirious. He had been to the mechanic who had told him that the casualty in the accident had been this layer of protection fitted after the bumper to absorb any impacts headed chassis way. What brilliant engineering, he remarked. Again the reason to celebrate was not that the chassis had been spared in the accident, but the fact that the car was sophisticated enough to be equipped with such a crucial mechanism.

Once when he was going back from Sharjah, with the family again, this rock flew off the truck in front of him, and landed on the front seat next to him after going right through his wind shield. That was at around 2 a.m., because that was the time I got the call from him. Called me right when he was arguing with the truck driver, and told me the whole story, including the dialogue he had had so far with the driver. The ordeal finished a couple of hours later, and he went on to terrorize the insurance company as well the mechanic appointed by the insurance company for a complete over haul of the wind shield. Of course, I got every minute detail.

He had rightly nick-named it Saab Ki Gaadi (SKG). SKG was a multi-purpose term. It told you at once that the car was high maintenance, that it was not for the lowly scum to own or drive around – alluding to yours truly, that Baba could afford it, and that Baba was Saab – short for Bada Saab. He could choose to be humble too when it suited him, but the car would still be called Saab Ki Gaadi. In those rare moments of humility, he would plainly remark that he was these days looking for Saab. Essentially, the car was royal stuff, and an association with it was royal in nature. Effectively, Saab Ki Gaadi accorded royal status to Jalali Baba.

SKG showed at a couple of occasions though that it was gifted with the trait of “Mardam Shanasi” – the art of deciphering men for who they are, and provided ample evidence of its own good up-bringing in the process. This it did by showing immense respect to yours truly. Remember those windows that would not roll down, well half of those that did not roll down, one in all but numerical representation can sometimes fail to underline the magnitude of an eventuality, miraculously rolled down when yours truly’s index finger dropped a rather not-so-subtle hint. At another occasion, when the same finger was fiddling with the controls, SKG revealed a pleasant attribute hitherto not known to Saab (Jalali Baba) himself – SKG was fitted with fog lamps, and they could be lighted. Jalali Baba was unaware of either of the afore mentioned facts, and hence was pleasantly surprised, slightly impressed with yours truly, and quite amused by SKG’s concern for the feelings of the under-priveleged – the latter an allusion once again to yours truly.

Alas! SKG was sold last month. Jalali Baba is still in denial, and goes into a melancholic, meditative mood every time a Pontiac passes by him on the road. He has yet to reconcile himself with the fact that there is life after SKG. For now, he almost got thrown out of a Toyota Showroom for trying to find a computer under the hood of a Toyota Echo, for trying to move the Toyota Corolla’s three-way moving seats eight-ways, and for almost breaking the Land Cruiser Prado’s arm rest for its inability to connect his arm to the gear stick when the said arm was rested on the mentioned arm rest. Word has gone around the market, and quite a few showrooms are seen sporting Jalali Baba not welcome signs at their entrances. On the other hand, people at GM, Chevrolet and Chrysler have made Jalali Baba an integral part of their ad campaigns, and continue to implore Jalali Baba to endorse their products. They have actually offered to gift him their top-of-the-range cars also, but he has declined such offers after careful deliberation. Sure, the seats move eight ways, the hoods are all larger than Daihatsu Charades, and the arm rest and the gear stick are strategically fitted to suit his preferences. But, they fail only in one department – on all their cars, all four windows roll down at the touch of respective buttons. What is an automobile without Pontiacic imperfections? For now, Jalali Baba travels by taxis, and his favorite pass-time is dissing the taxis he rides in. Often, he has had to walk home.

How did he come to be called Jalali Baba? Now, that’s another story. One that shall have to wait.

Kiyun Likhu’n?0

Kis baarey main likhu’n,
Main kiyun likhu’n,
Mairey lafzo’n ki aakhir,
Wuq’at hi kiya hai?

Yeh lafz …
Jaam ban ke na’n to chalke’n ge,
Na’n kisi bartan mai’n sajaey jaye’n ge,
Na’n kisi dard ka madawa hi honge,
Na’n kisi marham ki patti banayey jaye’n ge.

Kisi baap ka sahara bhi nahin bane’n ge,
Kisi maa’n ki lori main na’n piroy jaye’n ge.
Kisi dil ki dhaaras bane’n ge…,
Na’n kisi dukhiyarey ki aankhun se bahayey jaye’n ge.

Na’n Baghdad hi main goonje’n ge yeh lafz…
Gaza na’n Fallujah main sunaey jaye’n ge.
Kabul main seena sipar honge yeh lafz…
Na’n Dal ki lashu’n sung bahayey jaye’n ge.

Mairey lafzo’n ke akhir…
Wuq’at hi kiya hai?
Main kia likhun Yawar…
Aakhir kiyun Likhun?
Kahan likhun Yawar…
Aakhir kiyun likhun?

Just finished this one. It should need some editing, but right now I like it quite a bit. Does that sound too full of myself? :)

I had actually planned to update Chal Bhaag Chalen, and Chal Bhaag Chalen II, but while the net connection played a fast one on me, Kiyun Likhu’n materialized.

Everything does happen for a reason :)

Introducing Jalali Baba … 1.0

So, I thought he was a Jamatiya, especially because he kept appending Bhai to my name – something of a trademark of the Jamatiyas. I decided to ignore him. That was when I had met him for the first time, along with Fash’s soon-to-be-father in law (FIL), and soon-to-be-brother in law (BIL). The Jamatiya thug was, is, the brother in law’s old buddy, and I remember trying to figure out what common interests could bring a mummy-daddy nice IT boy like BIL together with a bearded Jamatiya who spoke articulately in Urdu in his deep baritone voice. We made a nice five some that evening though. Fash and BIL are so not into Urdu literature, but FIL more than compensated for them both. I knew Fash had portrayed me as the next best thing after Faiz, and tried hard to act the part out. Not a pretty sight when I look at it in hindsight. Damn Fash and his good intentions!

We were having our fair share of laughs, more than the sort of fair share you can normally hope for when in the company of a buzurg, and that too the susrali buzurg of one of the boys. Due credit to FIL for that. What a thorough (read thoroughly well-read) gentleman. The Jamatiya thug stayed silent for most of the first hour, except joining in the laughter now and then, and quipping in with a few sentences here and there. Now dear readers, any of you who has seen my profile, will know that I am HUGE Yousufi fan. To me, he is one of the best things to happen to Urdu, and to Pakistan philosophy. I also regard him a great contributor to world humour. Having read his four books innumerable times over the last decade or so, I am prone to quoting him every now and then. Apart from making me look good, these quotations almost always elicit a good laugh – if the audience is discerning and intelligent enough that is. So I did it, I quoted Yousufi. And the thug corrected me…ME!!!

He could not be a thug! Anyone who read Yousufi could not be a thug. Anyone who read Yousufi well enough to correct me was NO THUG!!! Heck, he was no Jamatiya either. Since when did the Jamatiyas develop the good sense to appreciate Yousufi. I looked at this bearded, “camouflaged intellectual” with a new found respect. We got on famously after that. That evening we formed a great two-some, actually a three-some with FIL, because FIL knew his Yousufi as well as any. By the end of the evening I was surprised to find he was an IT specialist working for some semi-government organization. Now, here was a paradox. This guy had to be special. He was an IT guy, looked like a Jamatiya, and knew Yousufi verbatim. There was less than one in a million chance of finding that combination again. IT guys, I knew, could hardly spell their names right in any language, no offence intended. This one read Yousufi. Heck, he knew him better than I did. This was an aberration, one that interested me no end.

We did not meet for a long time after that. When we did meet, the beard and the starched dress were gone. We discussed Yousufi, and somehow the discussion drifted to patriotism and nationalism. I was surprised again – the guy loved Pakistan more than I did, if that were ever possible, the dismal situation in the country perturbed him just as much as it did me, and to top it all he knew the history of the country so well, I started feeling like an ignorant slob in front of him. His family had migrated from Bihar in 1947 to East Pakistan, and then from East Pakistan to West Pakistan in 1971. He came from a family which had made sacrifices for Pakistan twice, real sacrifices, in a span of two generations. From then on when he spoke, I listened.

Comment Gone Lengthy. CGL III0

Two posts in a day? Not really. Posted my entry and went on to Laura’s blog, and got started on this reply in this discussion and before I knew it the comment length got out of hands – again. So now I have coined an acronym for comment gone lengthy, CGL. This is CGL 3, which Saima you may want to overlook, and go straight to the post of the day :) .

“James,

You evaded my query about the people of Sodom and Gomorra. The question is not whether or not the Christian states ban or do not ban homosexuality. The question is whether or not Christianity does. The support of an activity, or lack of objection to it, by a Christian state does not necessarily construe support for it in Christianity. The Western world has gone to great lengths to ensure the separation of state and religion, at least until Bush’s recent victory. On the contrary, in an Islamic country the ideal is to work towards a state which implements the egalitarian ideals of the religion, thus making religion intertwined with the politics and the business of the state. Yet, unscrupulous elements amongst us have led to the same situation where everything that an Islamic state does is not necessarily ordained by Islam. In this, the Christian and the Islamic states seem to face the same paradox.

I used the term *almost identical* because we both know they are not identical, or else we wouldn’t be having this discussion in the first place. We can now choose to stress the similarities, or overlaps as you call them, and work towards peaceful co-existence, or highlight the differences and continue to be the warring worlds we are today. You point out very rightly that Islam does not accord divinity to Jesus, didn’t I say that much already. To us, he is a Prophet/Apostle much like Mohammad (SAW).

As for the Jews, you are right – they were driven out of Madina. You are wrong, however, they were never driven out of Arabia. There were three Jewish tribes in Madina at the time the Prophet established the Islamic Government in Madina, and all three were treated as equal citizens of Madina. However, they continued to conspire with the Makkans, the persecutors and enemies of Muslims, and sided with them each time the Makkans attacked Madina. It amounted to treason, and their further stay in Madina was detrimental to the very survival of the nascent Muslim nation. However, Jews continued to prosper as Dhimmis, the tax paying protected, under Muslim rule for centuries to come. So much so that when the Crusaders took Jerusalem, the Jews found respite from persecution only when Salahuddin conquered it back. When Muslims lost Spain to Ferdenend and Isabella, the Muslims were not the only ones to suffer. The Spanish inquisition persecuted Jews like crazy, and the only place they could find large scale refuge in was Islamic Turkey – then Ottomon Empire. Actually, the earliest footages of Jews arriving in Palestine show Palestinians welcoming them at the harbor with garlands.

Anti-Semitism, my friend, was an alien concept in Islam – it was imported from the third monotheistic faith in late 20th century after the Jews had wrested Palestine away, with explicit support from US, UK and hence the UN. Unfortunately, five decades of violence and hatred following the creation of Israel in Palestinian land has led to a wide schism between Muslims and Jews.

You have often questioned the peace message of Islam, emphasizing some of the bleakest historical facts that blot our historical landscape. The same landscape is bloodied by the blood of millions of Jews gassed by Christian Hitler – am I to deduce that Bible does not propagate peace?

I am no scholar on Quran; I have read it over though, and I know this much that Quran advocates peace and harmony, and tells us that violence can only be a last option when our well-being and survival is threatened by a belligerent enemy. I am not aware of Islam teaching the turn-the-other-cheek doctrine, but it also does prohibit hitting the cheek in the first place.

You seem to be better read than I am, but when reading the Quran you seem to make the same mistake which the extremists and militants make. They take Ayahs out of context, and quote them to validate their own ulterior objectives. I am not sure if they do so out of ignorance about Islam or willfully, and I am not sure about that part about you either.

Perhaps, you could pinpoint an ayah for me, and I could look up the context for you.

For now, I continue to read as well.”

Ramblings…0

The guy was bearded, well-built, had just arrived from Pakistan, and spoke excellent Urdu in his baritone voice. My analysis: Jamatiya, possibly a nazim or something, most probably a Punjab University thug, hence not worth my attention.

I was at the PU hostel for about a year, and was much disgusted by the antics of the PU Jamatiyas. I had arrived at the conclusion that the Jamaat had a good agenda and everything, but it had been infiltrated by many a village boy whose only chance at acting all important was to become a part of something big. Something like the Jamiyat. Once in the Jamiyat he became a thug, who derived his self esteem from asserting his Jamiyat endowed authority at people he thought did not fit in his Marxist/Communist scheme of things.

Now, that’s another thing. Have you noticed how in our part of the world the “ghareeb� (the politically correct English translation would be under-privileged) no matter how wrong he might be, is always presumed the mazloom, the victim, in a conflict between one and one not so under privileged. I am no capitalist, and I am a good Muslim who knows the importance of attributing equal respect and dignity to all people whatever their financial standing in the society be. However, I am perplexed by the stereo-types which have evolved in our young country over the last half century. Krishan Chandar (Or was it Prem Chand, it was the Chand who did not write Fasana-e-Azad), Manto and scores of writers after them have crucified the blood-sucking capitalist in their short stories and afsanas, and moviedom has happily followed suit. We are a nation weaned on the concept of evil rich man vs. good old principled but poor hero. Take a look at any of the movies of the last four decades, more often than not, this is how the hero-heroine meet each other for the first time.

Red sports car, top down, (Who drives those things in the Sub-Continent? I never saw any on the road) comes speeding around the corners, and rams straight into this 99 year old thela-wala’s fruit laden cart, who almost always decides to cross the road with his thela at the precise moment that car is coming down the road. Wham!!! The thela is destroyed, the ghareeb’s day’s assets splattered all over the road, and out steps the flashily dressed heroine to slap the thela wala for not having checked for incoming traffic before he decided to push his stupid cart onto the road. Still, she reaches into her purse and doles out a stack of currency notes to the “victim�. Enter, the Knight-in-not-so-shining-armor: “Memsaab, we do not need your money. A small dent on your car will get repaired in no time, but the scar your slap will leave on his dignity will not go ever. You in your smuggler, villainous father’s birthday gift car to you have destroyed the poor old man’s livelihood.� He rambles on about mansions built on poor people’s land usurped by the heroine’s father, the need for compassion, coup, and fund raising campaigns by Imran Khan. Then, he leaves with the old man and his cart, while the heroine slips into utopia where she prances around the world in Barbie customs with the Knight-in-not-so-shining armor in flashy yellow pants The audience claps.

The Same audience gets out of the cinema hall, and looks menacingly at any signs of prosperity and wealth. They presume any such wealth has been amassed at the expense of the ghareebs. Ergo, they have a right to hold these villainous fiends by the scruff of their necks should they now step on the toes of a fellow ghareeb. The irony is that most of these self styled ghareebs are quite well off but look at themselves as under privileged in relativity to those better endowed than themselves. It is a vicious cycle, which leads to a situation where everyone considers himself the wronged ghareeb, because there is always someone better off than them.

So, when a Land Cruiser scraps a poor Corolla, the Land Cruiser guy is, if without his body guards, held accountable for rash driving and lack of consideration for the ghareebs. (Ghuraba) Same equation applies to all of the following pairs: Corolla scraps Khyber, Khyber scraps Mehran, Mehran hits Bike, Bike hits Bicycle, Bicycle hits pedestrian. The latter party in all these pairs reserves the right to point the accusing finger, even if he were hell bent on colliding with the former.

And to think, I was going to introduce Jalali Baba. Well, maybe next time…

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