June 22nd, 2018

Cricket and the crown.5

There was a little bit of ambiguity surrounding the catch Sir Ian Bell had taken to dismiss bloody M. Yousuf, when bloody M. Yousuf had shown his impudent intent approaching his century. Thankfully, Sir Simon Tauffel was the umpire, and he took Sir Ian Bell’s declaration at face value, and ruled bloody M. Yousuf out. There was absolutely no need to refer the matter to the third umpire, since Sir Ian Bell, unlike bloody Rashid Latif is a gentleman, and would never have appealed for a catch, had he not taken it cleanly. Preposterous as it is, the bloody Pakis have been drawing parallels between the incident involving Sir Ian Bell and the infamous incident involving bloody Rashid Latif, and have had the audacity to even suggest an inquiry into the matter of Sir Ian Bell’s catch.

Bloody Rashid Latif was banned for five matches by the esteemed ICC for appealing for a caught out decision after what was shown by the TV replays to be a less than clean catch. Gentlemanly conduct does not come easy to the low-life brown people, and expecting them to display same under all circumstances is rather optimistic. Realistic approach demands that all appeals by the bloody brown people should be referred to a third umpire to ensure complete code of conduct of a gentleman is observed when the game of the gentlemen is played, especially by the bloody brown people with the gentlemen themselves. A gentleman’s word however should never be doubted, nor should a gentleman be slighted by referring a matter to a third umpire when a gentleman has already stated his position on the matter. It is because of this reason that any comparisons drawn between the incident involving Sir Bell and that made infamous by bloody Latif would in essence have to fall under fallacious comparisons. Apples may not be compared with dried dates.

There is then the matter of the decisions His Umpiring Excellency Darrel Hair has made. His credentials have been questioned by the insolent Pakis for having called bloody Shabbir Ahmed for chucking, or for warning bloody Kaneria for running onto the pitch, or sending Salman Butt back after he had visibly and intentionally run on the pitch while takng a run. His Umpiring Excellency is beyond reproach, even approach. That he should be requested to officiate in matches not played between gentlemen teams in itself is derogatory to him, and beyond the comprehension of yours truly. That he should undertake these assignments despite the low social stature of the ‘hosts’ in itself bears testimony to his dedication to upholding the cause of gentlemen.

His Umpiring Excellency does the bloody brownies an immense honour by often officiating in matches played by them, and at the same time ensures that the devious scehmes employed by the bloody brownies in their impertinent attempts at rising to the status of equals with gentlemen on the playing field are checked at all times under his scrutiny. If bloody Shabbir Ahmad thought he could jeopardize the English Gentlemen’s plans, he had another thing coming. In case, bloody Kaneria had forgotten his rightful brown place in the general scheme of cricketing things, His Umpiring Excellency was quick to remind him of the same; and for the impudent Salman Butt to think he could repeat his insolence of the past in the second test match was childish. His Umpiring Excellency knows a thing or two abour disciplining children.

What is beyond comprehension is the insistence of the bloody Pakis that His Umpiring Excellency did not have to refer the matter of bloody Inzamam’s dismissal by Sir Steve Harmisson to the third umpire. Some have gone so far so as to suggest that even Sir Steven Harmisson should have been reprimanded for shying at bloody Inzamam’s wicket in the first place, since, as they put it, bloody Inzamam was making no attempt at taking a run. A knighted gentleman to be penalized for exhibiting his exalted fury? What nerve, what impudence!

Why, I ask, should bloody Inzamam not be ruled out when he has the insolence to take evasive action when a gentleman throws a ball at him. And to suggest that His Umpiring Excellency should have favoured Inzamam for this insolence, and that too after his 109- run defiance in the face of the exalted English attack. Who, by the way, was to ascertain that bloody Inzamam’s foot lifted in the air, and the other outide the crease was not a precursor to his attempt to take a run. Are we now to assume the best on the part of brownies?. Such amateur optimism can only spell doom for us all. Bloody Pakis know this well, but continue to expect us to give them the benefit of the doubt, and some even have the audacity to suggest that we play the game with them as equals, while many have been demanding that His Umpiring Excellency should be relieved of his duties.

Alas! The world outside the Empire, as well as beyond the realms of pure, white skinned people seems to have forgotten its place.

Monk Knicq!5

I have obsessive compulsive behavioral disorders…if that is the term I am looking for. For years, when my mother and I were closer than we are today, she would stop me early, hence ensuring it did not become a habit. There are scores of habits that she saved me from, and there are still scores that she perhaps did not even know of – most of the latter ones plague me today. I have lost count of the relatively innocuous ones like nail biting, clicking my tongue, plucking my eye-lashes, and making a deep squeaking sound that could easily be mistaken for a stifled hiccup, every now and then . There were more serious ones at all times, but they kept changing (because mother would pounce on those more aggressively than she did on the other ones, and left me with no option but to invent new ones) and that is why it is easy for me to not remember them, especially when I do not want to.

I remember when I first saw episodes of Monk, I was terrified, excited, and amused all at the same time; because I knew exactly what was happening with him, I could identify with his compulsions out of personal experience. Thankfully, my compulsions were not that intense, and unfortunately I was never that brilliant, or anything close. But, I had my problems.

I could not look at a fan, when I was about five years old. It made me dizzy, and it frightened me. I distinctly remember going back to Pakistan from here when I was about 6 years old, and not going in to meet my relatives when they came visiting, because the fan in the room they were sitting in was revolving so slow I could follow each of its blades, and I did, and that made me dizzy. You would think a smart kid would figure out that part and not look at it again, but once I knew that it made me dizzy, I could not ignore it, not even if I forced my eyes shut, and then to be on the safe side looked at the floor with my closed eyes. Actually, I could not look at anything that was revolving, so for obvious reasons, merry-go-rounds were not for me for a long long time. By the time, I was over that fright, I was too old to be seen on one of those rides. Who knows the latter might just have been the very reason I was able to overcome that fright.

A fly hovering too close to a dining table was enough to kill my appetite, which in itself was not a very pronounced entity. Actually, I did have an appetite as most growing children do, but there was little that I ate. I did not eat most lentils, rice in any form, meat that came with a bone and most of it did come with a bone, and anything remotely green or classifiable as a vegetable.

Walid Sahib loves food, and relishes it in all forms. He also has a deep, personal disdain for anyone who does not share his love of food. Mother, though not entirely taken with food in itself, eats everything and anything that is halal, and edible. They were like that quarter of a century ago also, which I think is about the time I must have started acting up. Ours was a house where not eating food served on the dastarkhwan was tentamount to nashukri – unthankfulness to Allah; you could have your preferences, you could also keep something really low on your preference list, and if something figured low on everyone’s list, it was seldom cooked or served, but if and when it was, it was to be eaten. Now, factor in the fact that I did not have a preference list, I just did not eat anything that was not curd, cheese, jam, or chapati with butter on it. Sometimes, I ate a few varieties of lentils, and that was that.

My parents’ initial strategy was the “take it or leave it” route, which failed to yeild desired results, since I would finish my chapatis/rotis dry, or by pressing them against the curry served to absorb the spicy oil from the plate. I do not remember how we ever managed, but as far as I can remember I was not eating what was cooked and getting scolded for it. Sometimes, they would give in, and allow me to eat with cheese, and when I say cheese I mean Kraft, and jam. In these moments of dastarkhwani bliss, all could be spoiled by one housefly hovering over any of the items served – even if I were not going to be eating those items anyway.

I have spent night after night plotting to wipe out the entire housefly population from the face of earth. My disdain for houseflies was not without reason – Pak Railways were to be blamed for breeding that hatred, because it was on one of our journeys aboard one of the tezgaams/expresses from Jhelum to Karachi when I had seen the flies covering a pile of dirt on another train next to our train at the station. The image stuck, and to me every fly was dirty, and anything they sat on was dirty, and utterly inedible.

Speaking of nights, I would not go to sleep for what seemed like hours after we were put into bed. It was a combination of fear of darkness, and over active imagination that kept me awake, and often got me into trouble. For when you are a seven eight year old, one of the most difficult tasks in the world is lying still in bed. It becomes an impossible task, when you have to lie in bed, petrified by the ghosts staring at you from all corners of the room, and insects crawling up and down all over you.

When your father is as light a sleeper, as Walid Sahib used to be in those days, all these factors can lead to a lot of trouble for you. Walid sahib found it difficult to go to sleep if the little green light our air-conditioner used to emit were not covered with a piece of cardboard…the little green light that indicated that the compressor was active. He could be startled out of his slumber by the noise of a television being switched on in the neighboring room…needless to say the volume on that television used to be turned down to zero. The best part is that the television used to be in the same room in which we used to be sleeping, because for a long time one room used to be all we used to have, and when you have lied down fidgeting in your bed for two hours, you finally decide to watch some cartoons! The peculiar thing about cartoons is that they are quite bright, and are set to a super sonic pace. When I think back to it, I realize Walid Sahib must often have woken up thinking he was on the dance floor of a disco; all that flickering lighting. The rest as they say is history, and I am not complaining it is.

Those days are long gone, Walid Sahib sleeps like a child under flash lights and with stereos blaring under his pillow. This has a lot to do with the fact that after 30 years of a 7-1 government job, he is putting in twice the physical effort running his gift items shop; and with the fact that he has lost hearing in one ear, and strains a little to listen to what is being said normally. But my habits are coming back with a vangeance.

No, I am not an insomniac, on the contrary, I am a hopeless hybernating animal. But, I am getting those little unsettling habits, new ones and hordes of them. The other day, I found it difficult to fall asleep on the couch because I knew my glasses were lying under the couch. I could feel them under me, and even though I was as sleepy as I always am, I had trouble dozing off…the presence of those glasses under the couch poking me in a remote area of my warped brain. As if that were not enough I could not lie down and watch the match the other day, because the remote control of the VCR was lying at a rather non-complimenting angle to where I was lying down – across the room on the table!

I had to get up, and correct its angle. Increasingly there are things that I do not really have to do, but I have to do, and vice verca.

I am headed the facility way….the mental facility way. Promise you will come visit…?

A Month Ago…!1

This morning, at precisely 8:51a.m. PST, it will be a month since a devastating earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck the northern areas of Pakistan; or at least that is how most of us will see it. There will be some amongst us, who will choose to interpret it as 30 days since their fellow human beings were devastated by this calamity. However, for the three and a half million, whose lives were turned upside down on that fateful morning, all sense of time is lost. It is as if the earthquake broke all clocks in the region, and time now stands still with no needles to prod it on, no pendulum to help it swing from one minute to another. For most of these people, it has been one long painful moment of misery that refuses to pass.

Tragically, for many, as many as 73,000, time did stop that morning. Then there are those, who fervently pray for time to stop this instant, because every new second brings with it untold misery, unimaginable pain, unprecedented gloom, and new forecasts of doom. 73,000 dead is the official death toll, which has come under fire for being conservative to the point of understating the tragedy. The NGOs have near unanimously put the death toll in excess of 100,000 already; gangerine, pneumonia, diarrheoa and diseases of the respiratory tract threaten to kill untold numbers still, and looming over all of it is the harsh winter of the northern region which it is feared might freeze over a 100,000 people to death in the coming weeks.

Yet, these are not the gravest threats faced by the people of Azad Kashmir and Northern Pakistan. The greatest threat that these people face is human failure, our failure. Hundreds of hours have been lost in pledging this and that; in explaining why this cannot be done and why that is not feasible; in pondering if this might be the right course to take, or that; and in not believing that such a collossal tragedy has strcuk such a large section of the earth’s population. Countless hours have been lost in not pushing those who have the power to help and contribute to saving the lives of those struck by the earthquake and stuck in the face of fast approaching death. Innumerable failures have beset humanity as humans have struggled to put aside limitations they impose on themselves.

The earth has a population exceeding 7 billion, and every hour lost in not ensuring that those affected by this tragedy are saved, provided shelter, food and security is equivalent to 7 billion hours lost. I agree, it takes a utopian naivete to expect every person in the world to contribute to this cause, and that too with this urgency, but I wonder if it really must require a utopian world for each country of the world to take responsibility for the reconstruction and rehabiliation of a village, if not a couple of villages. The UN has 191 members. When something this tragic strikes humanity, humans must rise above themselves, and set new precedents with an urgency with which they would expect others to come help them if such tragedy befell them. I wonder if it is too late to set new perecdents now?

For to most of us, it was a month ago….!

What If?3

In a few hours from now, it will be exactly a month since a devastating earthquake rattled the Richter Scale at 7.6 in the northern areas of Pakistan. Baffling as it sounds now, the official death toll by the end of that day had not exceeded 100. Consequently, the world community’s response to the calamity was lukewarm, evidenced by the USD 100,000 pledged in aid by the US on the first day.

Earthquakes are devastating, and with the exception of earthquake prone Japan, which is one of the best prepared countries to combat earthquakes, an earthquake brings with it large scale death and destruction. Almost a decade ago, on January 17, 1995 Kobe, Japan was jolted by an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale. The earthquake had lasted 20 seconds, and the death toll from this earthquake was 5100 people. This in Japan, where afterwards Japanese seismology Professor Tsuneo Katayama had written that he “had opportunity to observe the damages causd by the 1989 Lome Prieta and the 1994 Northridge earthquakes”. However he had thought that Japanese structures would not collapse as the US structures had in those earthquakes. He was wrong, Japanese structures did collapse, despite the fact that they had been constructed under stringent earthquake safety regulations, and in so collapsing brought death to over 5000 people.

I wonder what were our poeople thinking when they spent the whole day covering Margalla Towers, when they knew full well that the epicentre of the earthquake was 90 miles to the north of Margalla Towers, and how did they arrive at the ridiculous figure of under 100 dead at the end of the first day, when they knew the eqrthquake had measured 7.6 on the Richter Scale? Did they think, our construction models were superior to those of the Japanese?

I just cannot stop wondering what might have been different had we reacted 24 hours earlier than we did…

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