Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sound advice..?

Let’s take a break from seriousness today and lighten up things a bit.

Most of you must be familiar with the advice columns in the entertainment section of almost all newspapers. These advisors, mostly female hide behind pseudonyms and offer apparently unsolicited and loyal advice. Most of it seems reasonable; probably something we would say so ourselves. But what if these ‘aunties’ go haywire; misuse their power of trust and misinterpret what their ‘problem children’ are actually trying to say. Here’s a peek into how they can screw up those who are already screwed up:

Dear Aunty: My husband is my problem. He’s glued to the TV 24/7. It’s like the silly, rusty, old, big bellied telly is more attractive than I am. He doesn’t listen; he doesn't care what I say. He only gets up for bathroom breaks. It’s driving me crazy. Please help!

Aunty: Darling, I know exactly where that’s coming from. Its sad how something as small as a bathroom can create a tiff b/w two individuals so much in love. My heart swells at your concern for your husband’s entertainment. Maybe you can surprise him with a nice flat screen plasma. What’s money without love right. It’s no wonder he needs to go to the bathroom all the time. That TV is a bore. With a new hot one you can have the bathroom for hours because that guy won’t budge and he’ll adore you for the present! Talk about 2-in-1 right?

Dear Aunty: I have a cousin who visits often, usually bringing her kids in tow. They are the most rowdy bunch ever. They run around the house like wild animals with my precious cookie jar. It’s not about the cookies; it’s how they and the rest of the goodies end up in the weirdest places, half digested or thrown up! I usually go along because I don’t want to upset my cousin who’s really touchy about her spoilt brats. But now I’m having second thoughts. Please tell me how to get the message through without hurting her feelings.

Aunty: Listen up girl! Those kids are going down! Let me also add that food is important even if you don’t think so. Too many people tag along their kids so they don’t have to feed them afterwards. Listen carefully; whenever that family gatecrashes take 2 sleeping pills per kid and grind and mix them in their juice. They’ll drop like logs and don’t worry it’s not dangerous. (Try xanax; it’s the best). Or you can do another thing; press down on the side of the necks, right where the jugular vein passes. It’s an old police trick; they’ll be knocked out for 30 minutes. Pronto! One child free zone.

Dear Aunty: I’m new in town and called over a few classmates to my place to hangout and socialize. While I was away getting some snacks, my PC was running and everyone was messing around with it. Somehow they activated videoconferencing and ended up recording everything they were doing. The vision and sound wasn’t good quality but enough to let me know that it was all badmouthing and rude gestures about to me. I felt really bad. Should I confront them or simply ignore the whole thing?

Aunty: My tech consultants advise that you should get a decent webcam, maybe up to 5 mega pixels if not more. If not, check whether your resolution is on ‘high definition’. Also, your microphone might be losing it. Maybe it needs replacement or cleaning. You do both and next time you’ll get a crystal clear image and sound. I know how you feel hon; you teenage boys want the best in technology all the time. Call ‘em all another time and see the results for yourself. Good luck!

Dear Aunty: My husband and I are an average looking couple, living in a very modest way. We’re quite content with life. However, this new neighbour moved in and she came to pay a visit. I noticed how instantly she and my husband clicked. I mean she’s all young, chic and drives some sports car while my hubby is a bum with a 1988 Honda. What’s the connection? My husband has been comparing me with her all weekend. I feel very insecure. Please help me prevent a disaster!

Aunty: Girl, it’s time you put an end to those modest ways because seriously where are they taking you. Break the piggy bank and buy your hubby some decent stuff. You’re obviously not good enough for him so why try. Become the ultimate date planner. Rent a nice car; they have an hourly rate so won’t cost much. Lets prevent the disaster; the disaster that would take place if you don’t hurry. I mean things go bad he still has you right but doesn’t hurt to try! Cheers!

Dear Aunty: My farewell party is this weekend which I’m really excited about. My mom got me these clothes; they’re wonderful; all pink and yellow. Anyway sadly I failed on a test and am supposed to get it signed by my parents before the weekend. There is no way my folks would let me go after seeing that test. Tell me how to negotiate, please!!

Aunty: First of all; dump that dress. That combo is so last year. I saw your address; your place is close to this new boutique. Check that out instead. OK, about the signature: listen carefully. Get hold of your parents’ bank statement and trace that signature on a tracing paper. Next, put the tracing paper on your test paper and trace it down. A mould will appear. Shade that area with a pencil. The groove will become prominent so carefully trace that area with a pen. Wait for it to dry and then run an eraser over the whole thing to erase the pencil shading. Voila! One faked sign and one hot dress!! What will you kids do without me!

Dear Aunty: I’m currently engaged to a very rich guy my parents chose for me. He’s not bad but he doesn’t really care for my choices or opinions at all. Recently I started chatting on msn messenger with this guy I don’t know. He is so down to earth, honest and understanding. He even told me he couldn’t come online everyday as he couldn’t really afford it. I’ve still not seen his picture but maybe I don’t need to. I’m caught up in the middle and don’t know what to do; I think I’m falling for him. Help me!

Aunty: Girl you are totally insane. You are putting a future of money and a lavish lifestyle on the line for whom? Some guy who can’t use a computer two days in a row. To top it all you haven’t even seen him. For all you know he might look like Danny Devito. Eventually both of you will starve. THEN I’ll ask you how much you want to go down the ‘earth’ for him. He has probably got the oldest version of msn. Urgh! Who needs love when you got money money money!! Silly goose.

Dear Aunty: My brother is suffering from a dangerous form of obsession. He supports Arsenal and has never missed a match no matter what the time, place or event. He didn’t even attend our parents’ 25th anniversary dinner because he had to watch football. He takes it too seriously and so becomes edgy if his team loses. Should we be worried? Should we see some expert?

Aunty: Do me a favour and give him a good kick up his rear. Why the hell is he going through so much effort for a team that hardly made the top 10 last year. Show him some statistics. He needs to change loyalties. Tell him to try Chelseaor Man City instead (if he’s only interested in the Euro champion that is). Oh and try to be a little understanding from now on.

Uh, need I say more?

P.S: I think it's necessary to add that although I wrote this, this is not the type of advice I give. I give good advice. Like really good. I'm famous for that. Do NOT underestimate Sara Q's advisory service. Period! :P

Sunday, January 24, 2010

We're extremely sorry, but we're experiencing some technical difficulties...

Due to a multitude of unforeseen (and undesired) circumstances Talha A. B. will not be able to make his weekly post. We cannot confirm when Talha A. B. will be able to resume his normal posting so please bear with us.

In the meanwhile, you can listen to this neat little song by Julien-K called "Technical Difficulties"

That is all,
Talha A. B.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Green and white

Last weekend I was invited to an event hosted by Young Pakistan. Young Pakistan is an organization founded by a handful of individuals as an attempt to do something for their country. This is actually a very cool thing to do as they have their professional lives alongside and thus mostly have to work weekends for this project.

The best thing about this project is that there are no sky-rocketing aims like total elimination of poverty, corruption, illiteracy, unemployment or pollution. There are no long-term plans or deadlines. For now they’re taking it slow, aiming to portray a softer image of Pakistan. It all works on self-financing and meager donations. Here are a bunch of people willing to give whatever they can for the greater good. They started off with a “Flag Movement”. It was pretty simple; get miniature flag stickers made and get people to paste them on the back of their cars.

I went to see a movie a couple of months back and they all start with the national anthem. It ended up being really emotional; the anthem blaring out, a series of pictures of the flag and monuments of Pakistan staring at my face reminding me what a blessing it is to live in an independent country, even if it is a bit screwed up currently. That green and white simplistic piece of cloth has this strange humbling power. So being the aim of the “Flag Movement”; getting to see that flag every time we check our rearview mirror might somehow remind us where we come from and on what principles the country was created in the first place.

Anyway, back to last weekend. The target area was Capital Park, one of my favourite places in the world. (Last time a gathering was held at Civil Junction so it was a bit difficult to restrain youngsters when they were surrounded by sheesha, waffles, ice cream and well ‘scenery’. This time was quite better as more controlled individuals were involved). We were to roam the parking lot and “flag” as much cars as possible; WITH permission of course. We came across all sorts of people; most of them I’m happy to say were quite cool but there were many ignorant ones too. I was aware that people can be a bit emotional about sticking stuff on their cars so we gave them a choice; the glass or the body!

My favourite was this gentleman who got out of his car, saw what was going on and highly appreciated us for our efforts. There was also a young couple who asked their kid to help “aunty” do her job. (I was taken a back with the “aunty” but then again the kid WAS 17 years younger and well, anything for the country). There was also a bet of who’d bag a certain Mercedes roaming the parking lot. A few families even asked for some extra stickers for their family and friends.

We approached these two chain-smoking early 20’s and related our story. They said they couldn’t as it was their dad’s car and he might not like it. I wanted to blurt out why ‘dad’ didn’t have a problem with his kid smoking his lungs out as well as being responsible for the probable etching of nicotine (or whatever residue) on the insides of the same car. I had to restrain myself with great difficulty of course.

Another incident that got my blood boiling was when a man declared that he already had a sticker and showed us this lame triangular thing with something about the parliament on it; also declaring that it was the true flag as it controlled the country. Well, not that he was wrong but it still couldn’t stop me for wishing to make his bald head balder! We also emotionally blackmailed this teenager who had Manchester United’s sticker on the back of his car. It was an easy win J

Why of all things awareness for the Flag you may ask? The bitter reality is that we, the people are so severely divided and low on tolerance these days. If one person throws a rock, the other responds with a bigger one. It’s as if the only thing common amongst us is our flag, the only thing we can’t disagree upon (hopefully); it is not part of religion or the country’s different cultures prevailing the four provinces. We just don’t realise its significance. If all of us can at least accept that we are under ONE flag and one flag alone then that’s a start right? If we can’t even do that then maybe there really is no hope.

The whole activity was quite exhausting but I’m glad I did it. Somehow, deep inside I felt I was making a difference; be it an almost non-existent surge of patriotic emotion in someone’s heart. My unsurpassed social skills were on roll of course. But jokes apart, almost every time we explained what we were doing to someone I saw this light in their eyes, the kind we have when we know there’s still hope; as if some people out there still care and want to make a difference. I think I’ve finally got why our national poet, Allama Iqbal always put so much emphasis on the nation’s youth.

It was the “grownups” mess to make and it’s ours to clean up. And cleanup we shall. One step at a time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Idealism vs. Realism

I came across an article in the “Reader’s Digest” under the same title. It was by some Japanese/ Chinese/Singaporean lady (can never really tell the difference). So I just borrowed the idea because it sort of hit home. My interpretation is simple and parallel to daily life. Help me out Talha A. B. if you think this needs technical additions.

Idealism v realism; impracticality and practicality; romanticism and pragmatism. Call it whatever you like. It is an ultimate battle between our dreams and the practicality of those dreams. Always has been actually. The question is, how many of us wanted to do something really bad but didn’t because it was unrealistic? Forgoing it for something more acceptable; anything that would promise a livelihood.

How many of us had the major goal of saving the world somehow, eliminating poverty, opening up charity schools, bringing down a corrupted government and starting some revolution. I, for one did and still do and I’m sure there are others like me. Somehow all of us have a secret desire of leaving a memory footprint on this world. I remember using these exact words back in school: “I want to do something so I’m remembered even after I die”. On the brink of deciding a career I realized that I can only help anyone if I have an education and later on a capability of making money so ‘lo and behold’ Accountancy got justified.

However, all that I’ve said up there is a basic form of idealism which is quite acceptable if not wholly achievable. What I’m about to talk about next is what my sister refers to as ‘lala land’. These are ideas that can hardly ever surface the realm of regular life; ideas that our well wishers advise us either to keep to ourselves or as hobbies rather than a pursuit that will ultimately bear no fruit. That is, IF we ever admit them to anyone.

During my brief working experience I had a colleague who actually admitted that after doing A’ levels he didn’t consider any career path only because he and his friends had some band and he actually believed that he’d survive this lifetime playing the guitar; no education required. Well the reality struck soon enough but somehow I couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind could think of surviving only and only on a guitar. Even professional singers have backup plans.

Wanting to become an artist, starting a band or a singing career, doing theatre, learning the martial arts, becoming a racecar driver (kudos to all the ‘fast and furious’ movies), flying a plane, going sky diving, traveling the world, designing clothes etc, trying your hand in entrepreneur shipping or business ventures or maybe at the end of the day fantasizing about a life in the countryside, or the mountains; away from the hum drum of the city and all the formalities that come along.

Come to think of it, you can be idealistic about your love life too. But let’s not go there as that could be a separate post in itself.

The million dollar question is why we set such desires in our hearts. Are we that dumb that we can’t tell the difference b/w the practical and the totally insane? Or maybe it’s because deep inside, every one of us wants to escape the norm sometimes, the monotony, and the typical and robotic exercises we perform just to get through the day. (Rememeber the Richard Gere flick “Shall we dance”? Corportate lawyer so sick of his comfort zone that he enters a dance contest!!)

Yes, this is not only about those romantically adventurous thoughts we have as kids when we don’t know any better; when the spirit is charged up and the body is able and active. This goes on everyday, even when reality is being shoved at our faces. A few of those faces might even be wrinkled. The world, as it is today is a place of extreme fluctuations. It means that ultimately we’ll either lose out on our desires or simply become unable to adjust to that change in environment.

As for me I’m taking it slow. I’m saving up money to save the world. I want to write a book some day and this blog is the first step; I always wanted to learn different languages and so I’m taking French classes. Next up is photography, the guitar, horse riding or karate. Deep inside it’s my dream to land a chop on some crook’s head and save the day. I think my mom’s right; action movies are ruining me :P.

I get these artistic and poetic epiphanies sometimes but I confess I’m no artist. But I do pencil sketches and they’re quite satisfactory. (Sketched Harry potter once). I try to get in with some community work too, just as a minute contribution to the well-being of the country. It’s a start right?

Some day I would love to travel the world and go sky diving or gliding.

In my opinion, if anyone feels so strongly about something they should give it a shot. It is better to fail at it than thinking you MIGHT have succeeded if you had been given a chance. At least you tried. And by finding out the fact that you totally stink might even help to get rid of the self-pitying and self-sacrificing feelings. Needless to say, a pursuit as a hobby is a good way to start.

Reality check here: its not always about practicality, it’s about talent as well. You can’t be a singer if you can’t sing or an actor when you’re making a fool of yourself on stage. THIS is why a chance should be given. To test the theory you need to BE the theory. You might realise that you didn’t have talent in the first place or the activity was not as worthwhile as you thought so. So yeah, give it a shot.

Having ideals is a good thing. There are handy reminders of what we, as humans can be capable of achieving. Without them there would be no revolutionists, explorers or inventors; nobody to transform society. Even if not achievable they can help us improve. At the end of the day, maybe that’s what they are all about.

Daring to dream but keeping it real,

Sara Q.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The after-party is after the party

The regular readers of A&V, the ones on whom I bestow the title "The Loyal Ones", might remember me writing something about a wedding in a post I made not too long ago. Every wedding is different from any other. If that is true, then a Butt Khandan wedding is incomparable to any other. Why that is you will find out as you delve deeper into this post.

There are traditions that are followed on every wedding. Traditions set by our ancestors, traditions set by religion, traditions set by our culture, traditions set by society. The Butt Khandan takes care to follow all of these and goes a step further. It adds to them. Traditions set by the family. And traditions must be followed.

So just for those who  don't know what a Pakistani wedding entails lets run through the sequence of events. You see, weddings are fun. So much fun in fact that one day is not enough for them. That is  why we have three days. One day for each event, the Mehndi, the Barat and the Valeema.

We begin with the Mehndi. think of it as a pre-party where all the family gets together for just one thing. Having illegal amounts of fun. Just like all the Mehndi's before, the evening was filled with loud music, lots of dancing, lots of food and lots of dancing. Did I mention dancing? I think I didn't. There was also a LOT of dancing. Oh yeah, the bride and groom were there too I think. Wonder who invited them? The function finally winded down late into the night (Read when the owner of the premises told us the time. Politely) and everyone disbursed and proceeded to their own bat caves to prepare for tomorrow. There was however one tradition that remained unfulfilled. The tradition of the after-party. Somewhere in the dark hours of the night the council of cousins gathered to decide the location where this ritual would be performed. Once it was done, the entire khandan switched to nocturnal mode and proceeded to the secret location and celebrated. After all, a party is only as good as the after-party.

The first nightly celebration was tame, after all there was much more to come. It was a simple ritual where we all partook in coffee and other sweet delights.

The second day brought with it, the Barat. My co-author can actually explain better what it is. To keep it small and simple, this function is hosted by the brides family. So we all dressed up, slipped on the shiny shoes and put on our best smiles. The caravan was assembled and we finally made our way to the hotel and yes, we were late. When we got there the situation was dire, the brides family had taken positions at our flanks and the moment we entered they opened fire. It was madness, there were flower petals flying from every direction, a camera crew was in front of us with a blinding light to disorient us. It was total mayhem. We all surrounded the groom to guard him (and to fit in the camera frame). I myself took several hits from the flower petals but I managed to keep it together and escort the groom to the safety of the stage. Then the usual followed. Meets and greets, food, pictures, pictures and pictures and then thank you and goodbye. The council of cousins gathered once again and we headed again to the usual spot except we were late. They had closed down. But as I said, tradition must be followed. So we all got back in our cars and made our way to the opposite end of town to pick up a sheesha from a friends place at three in the morning. On our way, we stopped at every market to pick up something to eat and drink. Then, back at home the party started again. The sheesha filled the room with a smokey haze and the smell of apples and we all talked til sunrise about life, studies, family, the wedding and gir....ummmm.... politics.

The third day came. All of us fulfilled another custom. That is, sleep in the same clothes you wore last night. I'll fast forward here and skip the family breakfast and preparations. The Valeema was upon us. Again, my co-author is better suited to explain what that is. What you need to know is that this function is hosted by the groom and his family. This was our event. I'd really love to tell you what happened but I myself have no clue. What I remember is standing at the doorway greeting every guest that came in, then eating (after having served everyone) and making it in time to get a picture with the bride and groom in an almost empty hall so I could one day say “Hey kids, I was there you know!”. So yeah, that was the Valeema. Oh yeah, like I mentioned, the bride and groom were there too. Who keeps inviting them to these things? Again, to the after-party!

After being denied the fun we had planned the previous day, we decided to go all out. This was the last event and so it had to be big. So, like a vampire brood, we went off into the night. The moment we got home the car stereo was set to full blast and the council of cousins started dancing in the street, a sight that both confused and amused the passers by. Then, our first and only victim came along. The brides father was on his way home but his car was stopped and he was pulled out. The only way he could win his freedom was to join us for one dance, which he did. Once that was over, we all proceeded to the after-party ritual altar chosen by us, Glorias. We were late once again. No need to worry though. The council of cousins had taken precautions this time and they were informed of our arrival well in advance. The smell of sheesha and coffee filled the cold night air accompanied by the sound of several out of tune and out of sync voices as the whole family proceeded to play antakshari (again, Sara Q, help me out here). The fun finally had to come to an end. The residents of F-6 wanted to sleep, in particular one very cranky and vocal gentleman. We all returned to base camp and went to sleep. The next day everyone started to go their own way. The wedding was officially over.

Words can't really describe how much fun we had. When the whole family gets together after such a long time you might not do anything at all but it would still feel like you're having the time of your life. It's good to see how everyone is doing, how everyone has grown and how everyone is moving on. Each character more interesting than the last with their own charms and their own nuances. I really do wish I could describe the feeling.

Til the next post,
Talha A. B.

Note: Don't listen to dark gothic and industrial music when writing a blog post. Otherwise you end up putting words like vampire in a post about weddings. Ever seen that before? :P

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Re: Pandora's box

After reading Sara Q's post I knew I had to post a reply. Mainly because I'm a fan of Greek mythology even though its been a while since I've picked up the old Greek myth book.

First, a history lesson. Or a mythology lesson. Well, a history lesson about the mythology. Pandora comes into play during the early phase of Greek myth when the world is newly made. It goes like this, in the early days man was like any other beast. Then along came Prometheus. Now Prometheus was a big old titan with an even bigger heart. He saw that these humans had potential for being much better than they were. So he taught them a lot of stuff like math, science, agriculture, medicine and writing. Clearly, Prometheus was a great guy. But there was one thing that man didn't have. Fire. So Prometheus sneaked into mount Olympus while Zeus was off partying with the other gods and goddesses, grabbed the fire and gifted it to mankind, thus ending the stone age.
Jacob Jordaens, Der gefesselte Prometheus, um 1640Image via Wikipedia

Now when Zeus woke up the next morning he was shocked to see smoke coming from the land below. He was angry. Fire was his toy and he didn't want to share. So the first thing he did was to chain that meanie Prometheus to the rocks at Caucasus where a giant eagle would come and eat his liver which grew back the next day just in time for the eagles next meal.  Ouch.

Even after that was done Zeus wasn't happy so he ordered Hephaestus to fashion Pandora out of clay, gave her the box and married her off to Epimetheus, who happened to be the brother of Prometheus. The rest is as my co-author put it. Lesson over.

Secondly, this myth was made a long time ago, VERY long. So long in fact that the first known record of it, Hesiods "Theogeny" is considered a retelling. Back in those days, women were viewed in a different light.

I was originally going to get in this long talk about feminism and how men also have their fair share of negative phrases associated with them, but that is a long discussion, one for which I don't have the strength right now. I will admit that in Greek myth women are not normally given strong roles, but writing off the Greeks as totally anti-feminist would be a bit too hasty. There are numerous strong female characters in the mythology. My favorite is Athena the goddess of wisdom, war and justice (wisdom, how cool is that?). She got a whole city named in her honor (Athens anyone?). Then there is Hera, Zeus's wife who holds the honor of being the only god(dess) that Zeus was afraid of. How can you forget the Amazons? A tribe of women warriors more ferocious than any man. And then there's Atlanta, a hunter better than any other trained by the goddess Artemis herself, another strong female character.

I hope I haven't opened up another Pandora's box here.

Talha A. B.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pandora's box

This might seem out of the blue but I’ve noticed how much the twosome ‘Pandora’ and her ‘box’ are tossed around in conversations. Political talk shows, general arguments, it’s always “let’s not go there, it’ll be like opening Pandora’s Box”. Etc. Etc. I’m guessing not many are aware of whom this godforsaken Pandora woman was and that the “box” is more than an expression of exaggeration. What I’m typing up today is an interpretation different from the usual (as given by the example above).

The story of Pandora’s Box is but a small fragment of Greek mythology. But somehow Pandora and her darling box paved a stereotype in more ways than one. I’m not saying it is the one and only true origin of such stereotypes, but how something that is a myth, that doesn't even exist, laid a foundation to in turn shatter the foundations of feminism.

The story goes that the Gods needed to punish mankind for some reason so they decided to create a woman as a punishment. According to them there was no other way of ripping Man’s heart out and planting seeds of unrest and dissatisfaction than the creation of the fairer sex.

Pandora was given seductive gifts such as beauty, persuasion, a talent for music and ‘social arts’. Alongside, she was given this beautiful gold box that the Gods and Goddesses filled with all the evils of the world and as an afterthought added in “hope”. The box was an offering for the man who would marry her. She was instructed not to open the box at ANY cost but not made aware of the reason or what lay within.

The guy she ultimately married took her to his house and left off for someplace shortly. Pandora explored her new home, performed all household chores but somehow every now and then she’d glance at the brilliant box which was stupidly placed at a very prominent location. Finally, unable to take it any more she decided to take a peep. On not being able to see much she opened it wide and out came a big cloud. She immediately closed the lid and dusted the cloud away. Little did she know ‘hope’ was still inside. It was a cloud of all the evils we know of today and they spread out everywhere.

Like I said before, it’s not the belief that’s important here; it is the context. I patiently wrote down all these facts while fighting the urge to express my aggravation. How much these so called Gods are in the wrong. Creating a woman as a punishment? You might think hey relax, it’s a myth but like I said this myth is quite a substantial part of our lives; we just don’t realize it. How many times does a movie introduce some seductress as a last resort of bringing some man down? Add in the theory of women being inquisitive, bad secret keepers and gossipers. Moreover, I read about some survey that proved that no woman can keep a secret longer than 48 hours.

What’s frustrating is the fact that this should not be about women but about ALL mankind. I mean who says guys don’t discuss the juicy details of certain friends and acquaintances or anyone else for that matter. They somehow do it in such a strategic manner that it ends up coming out of the mouth of some woman. There are exceptions of course (I say that to keep peace with my co-author here :P ).

Back to Pandora; if she had simply been told what the box contained she would never have cared twice. Somehow all the secrecy created a reverse psychological effect. It is said that there was no intention of malice, it was just curiosity and she immediately regretted what she did. Every woman’s story; why keep her in the dark? Just tell her already before she finds out elsewhere. If the latter happens she’ll actually start judging you and you do NOT want to go there.

Secondly, why make something so dangerously attractive (i.e. the dazzling jewel studded box) if you want to avoid her probing. This is again a reflection on society; the subject matter is never as big as its hype, thus the ‘mountain out of a molehill’ concept.

Thirdly the woman was bored out of her wits. Picture this: she’s actually a newlywed who’s all alone in a place unknown to her while the guy waltzes out of the house. Believe me, if women got even a small piece of action of the outside world men would stop whining about their personality issues.

Another thing that bothers me here is the fact that the ‘box’ was to be taken to her home of marriage; call it dowry. Let’s sum up here, a woman was created as a punishment and the dowry she brought along contained the world’s evils. Wow, what a complete package. What were the Greeks thinking? But even today the world (women included) believes and admits that all evils are in fact released by women, malice or no malice. Maybe that’s what everyone wants to believe.

The irony of it all is the part where hope comes in. It is true that with all the evils of hatred, jealousy, gluttony, lust, intolerance and greed lurking around it is difficult to locate hope. Hope stayed back because it was not part of the dark cloud. They can never co-exist you see. So never look for any glimmer of hope amongst all those evils. You have to look for it elsewhere; it’s closer than you think.

They say home is where the heart is. I say HOPE is where the heart is.

And with that I retire from a discussion that is I feel, still incomplete. I have been advised to keep it short to make it readable. (That sucks, really).

Think about this unusual interpretation. Anyway, this lovely lady needs her beauty sleep now :). So long readers.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January again...

It's not really time for my weekly submission, but I figured I'd make a tiny post anyway. Besides, that weekly submission thing is just minimum we've set to make sure the blog doesn't go stagnant again.

Another decade has come to an end, the second of my life. I remember how it began, everyone was scared of the Y2K bug and the word "millennium" was on everyone's tongue. None of us could have predicted that this is where the world would be after the passing of ten years. And none of us could have imagined that this is where our beloved land would be. Saying that the state of affairs is dire these days actually sounds like good news. If I were to list all the problems we face today I would no doubt end up making another long post (thereby breaking Sara Q's record again).

We all know of the recent incident in Karachi in which a Ranger, among many others, lost his life. On all the TV channels there is talk of how he bravely gave his life trying to stop the attacker. Watching this, I can't help but wonder, why is it that men like these today end up dying? Men who have the capability and the courage to lead our nation and guide our country to better days. Why is it that incompetent men who don't have an ounce of bravery in them end up being the leaders of our country?

Is it the public that is stupid for electing them? Or are they just that good at being con artists?

If Pakistan had been in the hands of a sincere and capable leader for the past ten years, where would we have been right now? What would I have written here instead?

Happy New Year,
Talha A. B.

The year that was...

Like every other, the year 2009 started off with the usual resolutions. I’m not a very resolutions person but I probably say that because I’m usually unsuccessful in fulfilling them. Take weight loss as an example. One out of two people resolve to lose weight in the coming year. It’s more of a tradition actually. Half way through the first week of January we realize that either we’re perfect just the way we are or we’ll make a fresh start right after the wedding season comes to an end. (I don’t think elaboration is necessary on what happens next).

The start of the year was the official post exam recovery period. Free to sleep, laze around, and hang out with friends with no fear of studies or revising. Throw in a few everyday chores which are irritating at first thanks to the preceding royal exam candidate treatment but grow on you eventually. (Chauffeuring services included). Sitting under a bright Sunday sun and feasting on oranges; all the while catching wireless internet signals of the entire neighbourhood. January, the way I spend it is quite enviable.

It was a nice February morning (result day actually but I passed, thus a ‘nice’ morning) when I got a call from my college ACE. The Course Coordinator on the phone asked (‘told’ me rather) me if I could lend my time to give a presentation which was to consist of a general introduction to ACCA life and the Institution in general to various schools all over Islamabad. I was being asked to look teenagers in the eyes and convince them rather than rattling on with a typical inspirational speech. My mind immediately yelled “NO WAY” but my vocal cords suddenly got a life of their own and I heard myself say “OK, sure”.

My mom thoroughly encouraged by reminding me of my previous successful moments under the spotlight, all the while saying that I could definitely nail this one. Moms are great aren’t they? So I thought what the heck, let’s give it a shot.What followed were interesting rehearsals, constructive criticisms and well a couple of embarrassing moments.

We were to address an audience of teenagers where the guys’ hairdos were so spiky they could scour any surface known or unknown to man while the girls were heavily influenced by gothic makeovers. (Not that I have anything against that, just not suitable for school you know. At least wasn’t in our time :P)

I was first on the lineup. The stage was ridiculously high and ‘the’ walk was excruciatingly long. I took a deep breath and started off. I made sure I looked each kid in the eye. My hands were shaky but my voice steady.Overall it was quite a successful presentation for a bunch of first-timers. And the kids were pretty cool too. A few stayed back for career advice and we, students ourselves felt very important and professional all of a sudden.

Presentations were a norm after that. We got polished as we went along, to the extent that it seemed like a pinch of salt a few months later. Why I’m mentioning these scenarios is because my year was very much populated by them. The whole activity used to be fun overall and the triumph and relief after was simply priceless.

I had a similar feeling when I was offered to teach a revision class. I knew a lot of students personally but there were still a couple of notorious ones nobody was happy to teach. I guess it was because I was forewarned that I didn’t find them too bad. I had an informal touch so it was always an entertaining and friendly environment. Teaching is one of those things I’d always wanted a try at and I’m happy I got it.

End of March 2009 came the day that my grandmother passed away. It was completely unexpected. There was no illness, no taking to the hospital and no revival. My Dadi (grandmother in Urdu) was in Toronto at the time. According to my cousin she simply had a spasm when coming up the stairs and was gone within seconds. Cardiac arrest they said. She always prayed to God to take her as she was; no pain, no illness and no dependency. And that’s how God took her, just minutes after she’d finished cooking an undeniably delicious meal for my cousins.

It’s strange how things turn out. Whenever my dadi left she’d say long goodbyes, also that she might not ever see us again. We always laughed it off, telling her not to worry so soon. This time was no different because none of us knew something like this could ever happen in the coming fortnight. This was my first actual loss of a loved one. (As a grownup that is). And I know exactly how it feels now. This whole situation made me realize how we can’t even predict what will happen in the next minute.

The couple of months that followed are a bit hazy because of the mourning and the onslaught of people coming to pay their respects. It sort of made me proud that my grandma was known and respected by so many people. A bit on the lighter side, my mom thinks I’ve inherited her social skills and voicing of opinions.

The middle is always prep leaves, exams and vacations that follow. However this time included playing desperate housewife while my parents were away for a couple of weeks. Not a very pleasant task I’d say. I’m glad my result in August brought a bit of sunshine to the summer.

As we come closer to the last quadrant, it’s basically the usual. Start of classes, Eid, in this heat! And yes getting ambushed by guests, both wanted and unwanted for a definite as well as indefinite amount of time. Life is hard as it is without having to act civil and disciplined all the time. Not to mention looking decent 24/7 and strict abolishment of sibling rivalry. It was these days that I stayed in college much longer than I was supposed too.

My mom’s favourite uncle, who was very much like a grandfather to us passed away in October. It was exactly like the scenario in March. A lot of people I know didn’t make it to 2010.

Last two months are always terrible. Firstly I’m not a winter person at all. And then exams. Staying warm while resisting the urge to sleep anywhere and everywhere is a tedious task. Not to mention these subjects sucked the life out of me. I think I’m still going through a recovery period. Talha here is one of those who witnessed my level of sanity; or lack of it.

Technically I should be giving a thorough thought to my next step in career making but currently delaying it till the result because I’m quite sure of a screw up in one exam.

This year had its ups and downs. I can’t even remember any resolutions, if I had any that is. There are a couple of things I regret doing and I learned the hard way that it’s best to keep shut and not act social worker/arbitrator/opinion giver all the time. My mom says it’s a very effective way of avoiding high blood pressure and hey, I need that. Family health history you see.

On the flip side I think I’m more sure of myself and what I want. I’ve come to terms with my strengths and tend to make them stronger. I’m also more aware of my faults now and have a rough plan to cater to them. I made new friends and got in contact with long lost old ones. The latter I’m very proud of because you have no idea how much effort it can take.

How can I forget? I took off part of the exam wrath on getting a rebellious haircut. But hair talk is for some other time because I can go on and on about hair, hair care and hair damaging products.

Still blank on the resolutions but have complete hope and faith for the year to come. And I’m going to quote my co-author here: 2009 was the year two very cool people started a very cool blog :). To conclude I think I’m going to quote my facebook status here:

For me 2009 had its highs and lows...for the country and its people, one of the worst years ever I’d say. Let's all pray and hope 2010 turns out to be one of the best in history. May God rid us of all these calamities. Happy new year everyone! Lets all make it one :)”

P.S: Talha A. B, I think I’ve broken all previous records with this one :D