First Draft

بادلوں کی بات کی جائے
فاصلوں کی بات کی جائے

پرندوں کو پوچھا جائے
آہوؤں کی بات کی جائے

دم لینے کی جو ہے فرصت
آ بلوں کی بات کی جائے

اب نشاں جن کا باقی نہیں
قافلوں کی بات کی جائے

عمارتوں کو گرانے والی
آہٹوں کی بات کی جائے

منصف کو جگایا جائے یاور
عدالتوں کی بات کی جائے

First Draft

عرض مکرّر

خود کو زخماتے رھے
حوصلے آزماتے رھے

تھا فلک دور مگر
ہم ہاتھ بڑھاتے رھے.

اٹھاتی رہی قدم زندگی
ہم نگاہیں بچھاتے رھے

سانس آتی رہی، جاتی رہی
وہ آتے رھے، جاتے رھے

دل سے دعآ نکلتی رہی
ہم جھولی پھیلاتے رھے.

بھلاتے رھے انہیں ہم
اور یاور یاد آتے رھے

عرض مکرّر

Something happened.

Jospeh Heller’s Catch-22 is one of my all time favorite books. It was years ago when I had read it, and I have since read quite a few more books, but I continue to think that Catch-22 is my favorite book. It becomes a bit of a tall statement to make when you factor in the fact that a) I do not remember very much from the book, except Yossarian, Major Major Major Major and Milo Minderbender; but I do remember how much I had enjoyed the book, and I have rarely enjoyed a book as much since. b) I enjoy pretty much every book I read, everything I see on the telly, all food, all music, the sound of my own voice, and the company of almost everyone (read everyone who is a good listener) – including myself… especially myself. “b” here makes it easy to understand why I might like Catch-22, but it also underlines how much a book needs to stand out from the rest for me to put it on my favorites-list rather permanently. Its a task ‘karela gosht‘ and yours truly achieve remarkably well under the heads of food and company respectively.

There was another book by Joseph Heller called “Something Happened”. It was, quite literally, a very forgettable book. I think I forgot to even finish it. There are very few books which enjoy that distinction. Actually, there are a lot of books which enjoy that distinction if you include tosh like “The Monk who sold his Ferrari”, “Who moved my Cheese”, anything with Jack Welch’s picture on the cover, and most of the over-priced nonsense sold as management guides/books under the head of ‘Books’. However, if we mean actual books by ‘books’, there are very few which I have not finished once I have got started on them. Every now and then, I labor through some complete waste of time, but I finish it. The few Terry Pratchett books I read, for instance, took me forever (Sorry Waleed), but I finished them (You are welcome, Waleed). I did not finish ‘Something Happened’.

But I like its title. It sums up my current predicament.  I am not very reliably analytical, though I would be loathe to admitting that in a job interview. If you have a job to offer me, Knicq Analytical is my name on the passport as far as you are concerned. We read all the time about people who have their eureka moment, their epiphany, and adopt a whole new course in life. I have reason to believe that such people must be good on the analytical side. People like me… when they have epiphanies, they tend to like the titles of books written by Joseph Heller. Catch-22. Something Happened.

I was in college when a friend, whose time I used to waste every day on the pretense of joint study, had remarked that he was looking forward to beginning his professional life, and that he had every intention to put in 18-hour days to excel in his field. I was repulsed by the very idea. What is the point of 18-hour work days? There was more to life than work as far as I was concerned. I had that clarity even back then. I did not want to work myself to death – this I knew. What I did want to do though was a vague notion – too vague, in fact, to recall after all these years. For some reason, I was convinced that I would do well enough professionally, which, perhaps, is why I never gave it any thought. I wanted more out of life, this I knew; but what it was I wanted, I did not know. Nor did I bother to dwell much on it. I am not entirely sure, I know the answer to that question even today. There is a vague notion that it must involve people and happiness. I ought to have known with much more clarity after all these years, but… I don’t know, something happened.

That life conspired to have me put in 18-hour days at work is, of course, ironic. That putting in 18-hour days did not help me to excel in my field can be attributed to the simple fact that I have yet to figure out what my field is. Depending on the weather, the size of the pay check, the stubbornness of the boss, and ‘the doctrine of philosophical necessity’ I can be everything from a stalwart salesman to a marriage counselor to a management guru to an abject failure. My  peers give me credit for a lot more than I have achieved, or will ever achieve. It appears, I have done a better job of selling an impression than I care to admit. Either that or I must have been well set on that path every one so loves to race on; people seem to think I was running ahead of the pack –  or should be. I do remember the adrenaline rush from those days, so I must have done some sort of running… but then, something happened.

I am not sure if I had an epiphany at some point. I doubt if there was eureka moment. I have thought about it and I have not been able to pinpoint the exact incident which brought about this imperceptible yet tangible change in how I look at life, how I want to live it, and helped me decide what I do not want from it. It is surprising how much we think we have conrol over, when in actual fact there is almost nothing in our control. We worry about the smallest of matters or the gravest of issues; when in actual fact we have control over niether. What tomorrow holds is a secret which will unviel itself when tomorrow comes. If it comes. All we can do is do our best today, and hope for the best tomorrow. Whatever tomorrow brings can only be the best, and in that we must find peace.

Yes. Something happened, and I am glad it did.

Something happened.

Of creaking clicks…

It was a click. I am convinced of it. AP refuses to agree, but this is one debate he just cannot win. It happens to be about a sound. A sound which emanated from the general direction of my knee, when I was trying to do the agile-panthery-knicq thing, and almost succeeded in hitting the squash ball for the third time in the space of 1.59877 seconds.

Oh yes! I was a blur. Until my being, the blur that is, concentrated itself into my vision – when the world was a blur for a 0.00001 second, which hind sight has painstakingly explained to me was all an illusion – the world becoming a blur that is. On the 1.59879th second, my vision was restored, the world was not a blur, nor was I anymore, and sound had caught up with my speed, and I heard a ‘click’. It was followed by a muffled little thud, which in a squash court is often followed by either a combination of “Yes!” and “Nainyyaarr!” uttered simultaneously in two different voices, or the sound of air being punched from one side of the court while you can hear the sound of eyes rolling in another corner. The muffled little thud is the sound of  the hollow squash ball bouncing a second time before rolling away. The rolling away is often never heard in the deafening noise created by the punching of air, rolling of eyes, and uttering of war cries.

Coming back to the click though. I heard it. I commended sound on its alacrity and a job well done. Sound was panting at the time, very audibly, and it kept mumbling some gibberish about having left rain far behind. I failed to make the connection, and attributed the gibberish to a hightened state of awareness that Sound might have achieved traveling that fast – a state of awareness where memories become muddled and discerning faculties become befuddled, and a state in which Sound can be expected to confuse a click with a thunder, and then, by simple association think of rain. Out of sheer respect for an athlete, and in deference to sound’s dedication to it’s job, I decided to not knock the fellow down. Instead, I extended a helping hand, and helped it out of the court. There it stood then, leaning against the wall, waving its hands at me, and uttering rapid-fire gibberish. Sound, it is funny. It thinks just because it is sound, we must listen to everything it has to say.

All this while when this heart rendering scene was unfolding, AP had done his punching the air and uttering a gleeful ‘Yes!’. I turned my attention to the game once again. Apparently, I had lost a point and handed AP a crucial lead once again. I brought my faculties to attention, brought the requisite level of firmness to my jaw, prepared for the worst case scenario in advance with a slight stiffening of the upper lip, and braced myself to receive AP’s serve. In came AP’s trademark serve, caressing the wall all along, and making it clear that it was headed to kiss the corner – an act his serves like to do, and one I find exceedingly inappropriate, and infinitely inconvenient. Kisses and corners – so teenage, so wayward. There is, of course, the fact that retrieving a ball engaged in public displays of affection with corners requires a back-hand shot which is just not there in my repertoire of squash shots. I made an attempt though, and was about to move towards the corner when… all hell broke loose!

In an instant overflowing with comprehension, realization and understanding, Sound’s gibberish just dawned upon me – through my knee. It was not thunders Sound was talking about, nor of rain. It had been trying to warn me that on its way to my ears, when it was trying to catch up with me to bring me “Click”, it had left behind a huge mean looking guy called “Pain”. Now, because it was big and bulky, and because I was fast and furious, it had taken a long time arriving, but arrive it did, and with such aplomb so as to render me speechless, and if feelings are anything to go by knee-less for sometime. And now here it was, shooting through every tendon in my leg, and roaring and shouting and generally creating a mayhem.

Its a cocky fellow, Pain is, and even though it came in second after Sound, it refuses to budge from the knee which it thinks is the podium where the gold medal will be handed over. We have tried to ignore it and get on with other events, but it is a bit of a problem since he likes to make his presence felt, and whenever it thinks we, my sporting ambition and my limbs, are beginning to have some kind of a rythm in our day to day activities, it starts bellowing out, what it must think sweet melodies, in its hoarse and out of tune voice – and that too at the top of its huge lungs. An absolute nuisance I tell you. Not that we let it bog us down, but we will certainly be better off when this pain guy figures out how unwanted and in the way he is, and walks away.

In the meanwhile, in all this ruckus created by Pain, no-one had heard the afore mentioned thud – the one produced by a ball bouncing a second time before rolling off. Actually, I had not even heard the ‘Yes’ or the punching of the air, and I tried explaining to AP that I was distracted by the ‘Click’ and its entourage. Even Sound tried to reason with him, but AP maintains that there was no Click, and we were just paying too much attention to thuds, and calling it different names. Thuds do not originate from my knees, and this is a fact even he cannot dispute. The “Click” on the other hand came from the knee, loud and clear and even if pain took sometime catching up with click, it still means that air may rightfully have a couple of grievances about having been wrongly punched. There is no question of punching the air and claiming points, if the other player is having a conversation with clicks and pains.

Like I said, its my knee; and I know what sound it made – this is not an argument AP is winning. Nor is this a game he can claim until we have finished it; and finish it we will after we have ousted pain and stowed away the click.

Until then, he must wait.

Of creaking clicks…

Squashed Secrets, a.k.a Fate’s Revenge.

My sporting prowess has been one of the most well kept secrets about me. It ranks right up there with my various musical talents, my insurmountable courage, my exceptional culinary skills, my unbelievable linguistic capabilities and myriad others which are too secret for even me to know about. Oh, and lets not forget my super-powers – any of them.  There’s that thing to do with memory, for instance, …

For the most part, these are secrets which were locked away in vaults and the keys swallowed – just as they are wont to get done in animations. Most of the vaults were thrown into the ways of erupting volcanoes. The not-so-great thing about secrets though is that they are hard to keep. Every now and then, a secret jumps up at you from behind a door, and takes your breath away. The sporting prowess secret did that to me today. It sort of did a Kung Fu Panda on me actually. I will stop talking in riddles shortly. It is another well-kept secret, my ability to not talk in riddles, that and perhaps the immense gift I have of summing up the gist of the matter with elegance, panache and class – to get to the point in a hurry. But until I do that, stop talking in riddles that is, and let the cat out of the bag about my love for brevity, you must resign yourself to the fact that riddles are the order of the day.

Fate, it would appear, was going about humming a merry tune to herself and minding her own business in general. The tune was catchy, she remembered the words well, the weather was nice, there were clouds aplenty, sunshine in moderate quantities,  and if the swishing trees and their branches were anything to go by, there was quite a nice breeze too; but she couldn’t really know, since she had her airconditioning on despite the wonderful weather out there. “What is one to do?”, she had mused aloud to herself, “with all this dust swirling about in the air, you just can’t roll the windows down.” All in all…, all was well.

And then… she took that turn, and found herself embroiled in the Dubai-Sharjah traffic jam. Panic began to set in, as she tried frantically to cut her way into the fast moving lane; but people were just mean. They would not let her through, not even when they were driving Nissan Sunnies with the red ribbons tied to the center view mirrors. Generally, this is not the kind of people who will risk a scratch/dent on their beloved Sunny by refusing to give way in a traffic jam. Nor did Nissan actually design the Sunny as a car which could play the nudging and pushing game so often played by the Pathan-driven-Corollas and Egyptian/Syrian-driven-antique-BMWs. But it appeared something was amiss today in the general scheme of things – either that or there was a new element at play.  She smelled a conspiracy, but put the thought away for the moment.

She tried again with the Sunny guy, even brought his attention to her manicured nails as she pointed to the blinking indicator, but he was being anything but sunny. Perhaps the sight of something pretty and feminine had awoken the masculinity hidden thus far behind his sizeable moustache. It was quite apparent this was not a fight he was willing to back out of, and Fate was, at this point in time, not exactly in a mood to pick a fight with the moustache macho. So, she decided to try another route. The other route happened to be on the right side of a yellow line, which was incidentally also the wrong side of the law. It reminded her of that phrase she had heard once about one man’s fredom fighter being another’s terrorist. In her current predicament, she could well understand the whole philosophy behind a freedom fighter, and decided to take the (wrong) route on the right side of the yellow line.

Being fate, as she would have it, there was one of those contraptions installed on the road ahead, which caught her in the act of being on the wrong side of the law. “Why do the flashes on these cameras go off like firworks?”, she thought to herself just as the flash lit up her dainty little car, and blinded her for a millisecond. As her vision was restored, she looked around to find that her costly sojourn on the wrong/right side of the yellow line and the subsequent lighting up of the road had in fact been a source of amusement and comic value to quite a number of people. It was at this moment that something clicked just as something snapped in her. So, she thought to herself, it has all been a conspiracy then eh? It was quite obvious to her that there had been a conspiracy to lure her into the traffic jam somehow, and then force her out on the hard shoulder just so she would have to part with a sizeable amount towards fines when she went in to get her car registration renewed.

“So, they like conspiracies then, dont they?”, said Fate. “I will show them conspiracies.”

Now it is a given that when Fate sits down at the drawing table and begins her conspiring, she starts with yours truly as her prime subject. So she began her conspiring, ergo I landed in a Squash court today, carrying a squash racquet, armed to the teeth with ambition and adrenaline pumping through my cholestrol lined blood vessels. My opponent was AP, a life long fiend of a friend. He came in carrying his racquet, armed with his disarming charm, and loaded with his incisive sarcasm and wit which often become his principal allies in a sporting outing. Its a pity he never did play Professional Cricket, or else sledging would hardly have been associated with the Australians. It would have been Pakistan’s second gift to Cricket after reverse swing. The odds were stacked in my favor, heavily. He had never played Squash before, and even though I had played back in 1993, which was another lifetime, I could certainly and safely lay claim to being the more experienced of the two players.

We began hitting the ball. AP relied on his physical fitness and natural sportsmanship to play the game, while I kept banking on my experience and sporting prowess. Seven points into the game, my sporting prowess pulled the “Kung Fu Panda” on me, the ‘scroll’ fell as if from the cieling and hit me “bonk!” on the head. I heard Fate collapsing in fits of laughter just as I realized that there was no secret sporting prowess. All the sporting prowess in that squash court belonged to the person who had scored the seven points, and I had yet to score my first point.

Secrets, if you ask me, are over-rated.

Squashed Secrets, a.k.a Fate’s Revenge.

To Pluto and back…

If this were a blog, where I could have been sure that people who know me in real life will not be coming to read, I could have disclosed shocking secrets here today. Simply because I feel like sharing today – sharing little bits of information about myself that actually mean something and not the random facts which carry little or no value to me or to the reader.

But you see, the only people who visit this blog are actually people who know me in person. If any of you thinks that he or she is the only person who gets an sms to go read my blog and leave an interesting comment about how interesting you found the current post, give yourself a pat on the back for being in tune with reality. If any of you thinks I don’t know who sends those text messages, please know today that you are not as smart as you think as you are, or you do not realize how smart I think I am.

I am perfectaly aware that as soon as I am done writng one of my masterpieces, a mutitude of faces (all of four) lights up simultaneously across the globe. There is empirical data which the Martians have provided to Burmese space technology association (BSTA), which suggests that at particular times – which co-incide perfectly with the timings of my updates – flashes of light have been seen coming out of four different sectors of Earth, and that these flashes of light correspond with hightened siesmic activity across the globe, and miraculous altering of the earth’s magnetic field, which has had far reaching consequences, literally speaking, for our Solar System. Apparently, every surge in the electro-magnetic activity has had a spinning effect on Pluto, the farthest planet (erstwhile) of the solar system. So much so that it began to resemble a dog chasing its own tail albiet in a much larger orbit, which the Martians maintain was the primary reason behind IAU – International Astronomical Union’s decision to exclude poor Pluto from the list of planets. The IAU maintained that Pluto was too eccentric. The Martians and the BSTA believe that Pluto has been a victim of circumstances beyond its control – circumstances that are, in their Martian words translated into Burmese, quite possibly a direct product of the exceedingly suspicious activities which are set rolling when a certain blog is updated. The text messages that the four of you send to each other are only the tip of the iceberg, and the icerberg is on Pluto.

It was in part for Pluto’s sake, and in part out of a very real fear of a Martian invasion via Burma of my house that I had decided to refrain from updating. But apparently, my not updating is not helping poor Pluto in any way, and IAU refuses to reconsider its decision. These unions and panels are often quite bizzare, aren’t they?

Take, for instance, the toothless ICC. More than two years after that Darrel Hair fiasco unfolded in Oval, when the English cricket team were awarded a test match which they quite certainly would have lost without Darrel Hair’s unfortunate intervention, they continue to try and make up their mind whether to play fair and call it a draw or give in to Darrel Hair’s Australia and call it forfeited.

These bodies never seem to be able to make up their minds. And they seldom do the right thing.

So, I am going to get back to updating. Now if this were a blog which were not read by people who know me in person, I would have disclosed some shocking secrets about myself here today, but as matters stand….

To Pluto and back…

The Gazan Genocide.

Should I, or should I not write? What would I write about?

There is so much heartache, so much death, so much cruelty, so much ignorance and so much ugliness all around that I know I will not be able to maintain my positive outlook if I let it all out. I feel like such a criminal even thinking about staying positive.

For two weeks now, we have sat dumb-founded as Israel has bombarded, and murdered a people; and we have done nothing. Everyone has the numbers, everyone has the facts, and yet no-one seems to have perspective. No-one seems to understand that the tacit approval which Israel enjoys from the whole world makes the whole world complicit in this mass murder. By standing aside, and doing nothing as the village bully not only beats up but kills and maims one of us, we are ensuring that many such bullies will rise tomorrow to subject us to the exact same treatment. Or worse!

I have no energy nor the inclination to wade into a long winded argument or discussion about, or even condemnation of the Gazan Genocide. Everyone knows, or ought to know that it is deplorable and all things indescribable to starve and suffocate a people for months, and then bombard them with the deadliest ammunition at the disposal of one of the world’s most well-equipped fighting machines. (Thank you USA – and then you wondered, why the Palestinians were dancing in the streets when 9/11 happened? ) Do I need to cry hoarse and put up pictures of hundreds of children killed, maimed, orphaned and even generally scarred for life by Israel during this invasion of Gaza to remind people that Israel is killing children everyday with impunity while our lives go on, while our children live their innocent lives?

Has humanity sunk so low, and have political considerations become so base that the world chooses not only to allow a genocide to happen right in its heart, but also lends this genocide legitimacy by consistently telling us that the victim is to be held responsible for all his suffering? Have the purveyors of this injustice and this cruelty completely forgotten that there is a higher power who is Almighty? Do they find it absolutely of no value that no civilization in the history of earth has ever ruled forever? That great civilizations before them have come down to being nothing?

Children! They kill children everyday, and the world knows it, sees it, and nods in agreement!

I wish to God that the world goes nuclear – that they go to war, all of these countries which have sat in a circle and egged the mauling bear on as he has attacked the scrawny emaciated frame of  its starved prey thrown at its mercy, bound and gagged. I wish to God – that they fire all of their nuclear war heads at the same time to all over the world, and that this unfair, unjust, cruel and disgusting world, which has allowed Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Kashmir to happen without intervening effectively, comes to an abrupt end.

Ya Allah! Forgive us our sins, and end this world. Please.

The Gazan Genocide.

Pulse 95.3 – stopped.

I stopped tuning in to the local desi FM channels a while ago, when the anti-Pakistan bias became too pronounced to be ignored, when the RJs (or whatever they are calling them today) became ever more unbearable and their linguistic shortcomings began to catch up with the grey-matter shortfall in their heads too frequently, and when most of the music they played fell under explicit or implicit shirk – this seemed to have been the latest fad in bollywood ‘lyrics’, where every next song had a couplet declaring some kind of blasphemy like “Rab deewana huwa” or “Rub bhulaney ko dil chahe” or whatever it was they said.

It was quite convenient for me to stop listening to these stations, of which there are no less than five, simply because my CD collection is diverse enough and entertaining enough for me. I inserted a Tina Sani, a Fuzon, a Junaid Jamshed, a Jesse Cook, and a compilation of Pakistani music in the magazine months ago and have not felt the need to replace those CDs with others from even my own collection during this period. Sometimes, when I do not feel like listening to music, I turn the volume down and listen to the magic of my own voice in my head, or to BBC. I have hardly ever had to tune in to the obnoxious mind-rot that are desi FM stations.

I was stuck in traffic yesterday, and on an impulse switched to the desi presets on my FM2, just in time to catch a certain listener Mr. Murali calling in to the show on at the time. The show is hosted by some young chap, who is still finding his bearings in the big bad world of media, but he tries his best and when he makes mistakes, they are honest; so you forgive him. Now he hosts a sports show, where he puts a question to the audience and people call in – the standard formula, and the standard irritating callers with their ‘expert’ opinions. This Murali character, however, had other things in mind.

He launched into a tirade against Pakistan, and suggested that Pakistan be boycotted by ICC just the way South Africa was in the past for its apartheid policies. He believed that this was the only way to teach a lesson to Pakistan, and though, in his view, Bangladesh would be the only country to oppose such a move (his assumption quite obviously rooted in the fact that Muslim countries would stick together, which if had been the case Israel would have been a small city in the suburbs of New York, but that is another discussion – at this point it only laid bare his hatred for Muslims), ICC ought to push ahead with the boycott having the (financial) might and clout of Indian cricket at its back.

I was shocked. And incensed – that he had the audacity to spew his hatred on air in this country as if he were sitting in Narender Modi’s Gujrat; that the radio station allowed this hateful speech to continue and end in its own time, and that they failed to denounce the caller and his views and distance themselves from those views in the strongest terms immediately after the call.

After years of believing that calling into radio stations with one’s views was a futile exercise, and a complete wastage of time and money, I began to dial the number of the radio station frantically, hoping for the call to get through, willing it to get through, only to discover that he was to be the last caller of the day for the program. The call left a bad taste in my mouth, and a few hundred of kilos of fury, disgust and utter disdain for any and all Murali like characters I encountered after that call – and since I was in Dubai, and stuck in a traffic jam, I had possible Muralis all around me. I have a feeling I managed to not succumb to road rage, but only just. I did roll down my windows, made sure the Pakistan flag hanging from my center view mirror was prominently visible, and contrary to my usual driving habits refused to offer any courtesy to any Muralis. It did not help at all.

I was looking for confrontation yesterday, and daring any and all. Fortunately for all parties involved no-one took me up on my offer; not even the guy sitting at the coffee shop in Bur Juman, whom I gave the full honor of listening to my incensed recounting of the incident to a friend and then proceeded to stare down in person. The raging fury simmered down to seething anger, and I stayed determined to address the offense.

So I waited, and called the radio station today; and while I stayed polite and within confines of acceptable language on air, I got the whole thing out of my system. Here is how the conversation went:

I called, and the RJ answered. He asked if he could put me on hold for sometime, and I told him he could as long as he did not put me on hold for a half hour. He declared that he would only put me on hold for a couple of hours, to which I assured him it would not be a problem as long as it were not a half hour. It was bad humor, granted, but it broke the ice. He promised to call me back in a few minutes, and I rallied my thoughts in the meantime.

And then, the call came. I had been listening to the previous callers on the topic of the day, so when he asked my opinion, I told him, my opinion had already been stated quite accurately, and that I liked his program and how he conducted it (not a complete lie), but that I had a few concerns to share, and I would share them if he did not disconnect my call and let me complete. He promised he would not and would respectively.

At this point, I brought up the Murali moron’s call, and reminded him of what he had said and asked for. I made it clear that I had expected the Radio station to come up with damage control after the call, and for them to distance themselves from the zealot’s views. I let him know how disappointed in the radio station I was, and how offended by the call I was as a Pakistani listener, and since the radio station had not replied to the zealot’s views, I felt compelled to offer a response.

At this point, I half expected them to cut me short, but due credit to the guys for playing fair this time and letting the Pakistani rebuttal through as well.

I started by asserting that if there were indeed a nation on Earth today which needed to be ostracised from International sporting activities for its aparthied like policies, it was India and not Pakistan. Here we have a country, where a mass murderer like Narendera Modi is elected to the office of chief minister twice through democratic procedure of voting; Narendera Modi, the guy who was refused a visa by even the United States because of his involvement in the genocide of Muslims in Gujarat, and here he was being elected! So, the majority who voted for this man condoned his actions, and rewarded him for his murderous role. Quite obviously, he was being elected not despite but because of his role in the savage murder of 2000+ Muslims in ‘secular’ India.  What happened to the Christians in Orissa was not hidden from anyone, and the Dalits – the untouchables – have been ostracised from Indian (read Hindu) society for much of the past two thousand years – their crime? Born to the wrong parents in the wrong caste. Until and unless, India set the record straight and understood what was meant by the word Secular, India needed to be boycotted from all international events and communities.

What I forgot to add was the fact that while Pakistan is labeled with all kinds of unflattering titles, and presented as the hot bed of terrorist and extremist activity, the fact remains that in the 60-year history of the country, the extremist mullahs have never formed the National Government. We have borne the brunt of military dictators, but we have steered clear of voting the fire-brand mullahs into the executive offices of the country. The MMAs and the JUI, for all their posturing and political activity, have always been marginalized in every election. The people of Pakistan have never voted in an extremist party, while in India, on the contrary, the BJP/RSS/Shiv Sena nexus has formed national government more than twice in the last two decades despite its hate filled agenda. Who then needed to be ostracized for aparthied – a people who resolutely denounce extremism every time they go to the ballots, or a people who reward their murderous zealots with re-election for their bloody achievements?

It did not matter though.

I am sorry I had to make that call. I am sorry I had to say things which my friends from India, and I have some very dear Indian friends – Muslims, and Non-Muslims both, might have found offensive and objectionable. But I am also happy that I spoke up today when I should have spoken up and when I needed to speak up.

I hate no-one, and I respect the sovereignty and the honor of every nation, including India. I object not to the near-complete oblivion of these radio stations to the fact that there is good Pakistani music being made all the time, and I do not even object to displays of an Indian patriotism by these radio stations even though when they are to be neutral radio stations catering to the Urdu/Hindi segment of this country and region, which roughly is split 45/55 Pakistanis and Indians, since most South Indians listen to radio stations in their own language.  But when someone brings up my country, they had better show the same respect they expect from me for their country, or more.

Else, I intend to come out all guns firing every time they fire a shot this way.

Pulse 95.3 – stopped.


Khud ko zakhmatey rahey,

Hausley aazmatey rahey.

Tha falak duur magar,

Hum haath baRhatey rahey.

Uthaati rahee qadam zindagi,

Hum nigahen bichatey rahey.

Saans aati rahee, jaatee rehee,

Woh aatey rahey, jaatey rahey.

Hum bhulatey rahe unhen,

Aur woh yaad aatey rahey.

Dil se du’aa nikalti rahee,

Yawar haath uthaatey rahey.


The Singing. 1

I used to think I was a singing sensation. My mother thought me the next Qari Waheed Zafar. Never mind the fact that every kid in my class could render ‘Fasilon ko takalluf‘ better than me, and most even got ‘Zahe Muqaddar’ right. My mother had not heard them – my classmates, and I did not know I was as bad as I was. Unfortunately, falsehoods perpetuated in childhood can linger for impossibly long times; I grew up under the impression that I could sing.

They began being less polite about it all once I got to teenage years, but then those were the years when I thought people disapproved of me on purpose, to spite me. I was never much of a rebel – outwardly. I did stick to my guns though – it was much later when I found out that the technical term for this behavior was passive aggression. As much as passive voice was loved by me, it was no surprise that a sense of proud satisfaction was allowed to overcome me by me upon this discovery; but like I said, this was allowed to happen much later. At the time, I had no idea I was being passively aggressive in persisting with my yodeling despite passionate pleas for respite from my intended and unintended audiences. I was just being confident of my talent. One only has to imagine what an ordinary 13 year old sounds like without trying to sound melodious to understand the true measure of my victims’ agony.

For some reason, we never had a cassette player in our house for a long time. My parents are no music enthusiasts, and given the very nominal role they played in world affairs and Pakistan politics, they had never felt the need to tune in to BBC Urdu Service in the evenings. To borrow an expression from Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi, they knew and understood that whatever anyone was doing in whatever part of the world was doing so without their express permission or council. They only concerned themselves with making ends meet, and ensuring none of us ever stood second (or third, or fourth, etc.) in his or her class. Unfortunately for them, they got the tougher part right, the meeting of ends that is, but they failed where they thought it mattered most – whatever the other siblings scored, I was too polite to bump the guys ahead of my in class and take their spot and hence their limelight. My parents misinterpreted my courtesy and politeness as passive aggression, and tried to counter it with assertive persuasion at first and active aggression later on. Soon, however, they figured out how inherent these traits were in me, and how impossible a task it was for anyone to persuade me to push people around.

I reckon we must have had a cassette player early on, but it must never have been replaced after it broke down. It was the same with the car audio systems – as long as the “tape” was fine, we got some music in the car, and when the ‘tape’ went out of order, which it invariably did on those Mazdas and Toyotas my father loved, it would sound the death knell for our music as well. Once the ‘tape’ became useless, all that was left of the car audio systems was radio, and back in mid-80’s you did not get much by way of radio. There were no FM stations (Alas! The good old days when people were not being paid to murder common sense, good language, and brain cells on air), and the only Urdu service was Abu Dhabi urdu service, which if I am not wrong was a three or four hour service. Incidentally, the three or four hours co-incided with our homework time, and that was that.  No radio or music for us.

The long and short of it all is just that there was a serious dearth of actual opportunities for me to figure out my shortcomings in the crooning department. Sure, I never got a tune right and I should have taken the hint then, but I always put it down to not having heard the tune enough number of times and not having sung along enough number of times.

Then there came a tim when we bought a Panasonic cassette player, and I went about collecting all kinds of music to play on it. And I sang along. For hours. They say there was a mysterious epidemic in those days, which killed many many bats as far off as Ras Al Khaimah, and it was driving the dogs crazy. The mysterious thing was the dead animals all seemed to be in excellent condition, except for their ears. Apparently, it was a noise that killed them, and left their ears swollen.

And this is a completely random bit of information, which has nothing to do with this sorry excuse of a post. But, that is what you get from me when I have been up all night doing nothing, and decide to update just as the morning updates today’s sun.

The Singing. 1