Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Some pictures + a thousand words

I'm sure most of you have already noticed that this will be a different than usual post. Photography is one of those passions that almost everyone has but not all get to pursue it. Fortunately the basic need is a camera; need not be the professional SLR one. A simple digital one will do for the time being. Click away amateurishly. Who knows, your passion might die there and then. At least you won't call it 'abandoned' anymore. So yeah as I was saying, this is different from my usual philosophical interpretations (read self-created). The following are some random images I took round my house. To be honest they have sort of a philosophical take too. Anyway here they are; random as random can be:

Straightforwardly, this is a junction of a blue wall and an orange wall. This wall deserves the honour to be on this cool blog because it is highly responsible for the unsurpassed creativity that Sara Q is famous for. It's the blue actually. It gives ideas; and not just for writing the blog or poetry or my journal. There have actually been a few "eureka" moments as well (don't ask). The orange is this happy colour. It's like this stimulant; I look at it and start feeling positive. No idea if that's actually been proven scientifically or not. The 'blue' theory is true though.

This here is the ‘Centaurus’ under construction. Named the ‘landmark of Pakistan’ (honestly, how many landmarks are there?) this multi-something project promises a seven star hotel, a luxury apartment complex and a mall complete with a movie theatre et all. Anyway, this is not a promotion, it’s just this huge building that will have all the fun stuff mentioned above but as of now, for someone like me only two things matter concerning this project; whether it’s going to block my sun once completed and second is understandably the security of the workers involved. This is actually an after hour shot. Usually you can see tiny, speck size construction workers moving about. What would seem like an impossible feat to us is a livelihood for them. Oh yeah, count in diversion of traffic as a concern too.

For antique lovers: this is an antique! I found this lying somewhere in the house and gave it a new status when found out that it was more than a hundred years old. It is a sort of an heirloom too actually. On further investigation on its origin I was told it was actually passed down to my grandmother when she got married. And so it resides on my fireplace. People say it's dumb to get attached to materials but i say it's not the materials it's the memory or the person associated with them.

An original Harry Potter collectible. The 'Knight Bus' that could take you anywhere as long as it was on earth. When I mention Harry Potter people always seem amused. Little do they know Harry is not about a young boy waving a wand and saying a few words. Harry Potter is a concept, a getaway from this weird humdrum of life. It sort of transports you to this other world which might be a fantasy place but it follows the same principles we follow; right and wrong, good and evil. life and death. Just like we have to make sacrifices in this world to get a happy ending, same goes with Potter. What can I say, the concept will never cease to have its influence on me. :)

Thick black rimmed glasses are actually the most stereotyped thing in the world. Words like ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ have always been associated with them. It’s like people never realized there were actually eyes behind the lenses. It became easier when ‘anti-glare’ ones were introduced though. Though this stereotype stays I’m happy to see that glasses have actually experienced a rebirth in the western world. And well lets face it; fashion travels super fast eastwards. Big names are seen sporting dark rimmed spectacles on the red carpet and award shows. So just like the world is starting to get over the ‘size zero’ concept I guess glasses are gradually getting a new meaning. There was actually a girl my junior who was a total 24/7 black rimmed glasses person and she was the most sought after female of the batch. I guess there is still hope for that minority. :P

I guess we all know that the human heart has always been associated with the concept of love. What I don't get is that the heart is this spongy thing with valves coming out of every direction. Then how come the 'heart' associated with love got this shape. Well I know a spongy thing with valves though totally amazing would look a bit strange on greeting cards and teddy bears. However, as to how this shape really came into being is a total mystery to me. Please enlighten me if anyone else knows.

The classic question; is the glass half empty or half full. How do you see it?How would you want to see it? A total optimism/pessimism choice.

An African man and woman carry water buckets on their heads. The one on the left is the woman. If you look closely you can see she's also carrying a baby. It is more prominent in the shadow rather than the original piece.

This is actually a figment of the "Flag movement" I talked about in an earlier post. The fact that our flag is an integral part of our lives as Pakistanis. It is more of a 'back to basics' concept. First realise how the flag came into being because it is humanly impossible to imagine the whole country in such a manner. A simple glance on the back of the car can provoke thoughtfulness or a realisation of our true identity. Maybe a humble reminder that no matter how much screwed up we are these days we are still ONE. Just like Talha A.B reminded us of our blessings in his last post.

A lost cause? Something we had but don’t have anymore. It’s surprising how much we Pakistanis look up to cricket to boost our ‘terrorised’ spirits. Unfortunately, like my co-author said the whole political/social instability seems to have gotten them too. Nothing seemed to go right this season; as if there was this dark cloud looming overhead. Like some curse.
Anyway, this equipment you see here is in every Pakistani home irrespective of economic situation or gender configuration. Yes, even I’m a self declared cricketer :D.
Street cricket is like this getaway and even a platform for getting ‘discovered’. It’s not just some leisurely activity. It can mean war; tournaments, challenges, a fight for glory b/w 2 different sides of the neighbourhood. Yep THAT serious. In the current situation it has become this outlet for rage. In many cases disappeared completely thanks to parents worrying over security. The latter has actually caused the young generation to go totally couch potato. Whatever exercise they got in these meager two hours is now kaput. Great! Now we have another potential evil to get rid off; obesity.

A lamp. With a light bulb. Emitting light that is obviously not needed right now so I’ll just switch it off. Somehow, under the country’s current electricity deprived situation it is unfit to fashionably photograph a lamp. This was a lucky first shot.

A mirror. Chemical composition has something to do with silver I guess. Obviously, it reflects our appearance but what else does it do. It helps us feed on narcissism. Sometimes elevates our appearance related insecurities. For some it is an obsession (think on the lines of Snow White; ‘mirror mirror on the wall…..remember?) It shows us who we are in our own eyes, even if we try to hide our truths, good or bad. It’s actually our own self looking at us in a ‘are you sure’ manner. Mirrors help us gain confidence too, its like looking yourself in the eye, accepting what you see. Like Talha A. B puts it; you need to bathe in your own glory sometimes. There are many superstitions surrounding mirrors but let’s not scare our minimal amount of readers away. Add in magic too (the mirror of ‘Erised’ in “Harry Potter”). The terms ‘mirror’ and ‘reflection’ are used as metaphors to convey love, telepathy and understanding too. As writes a local poet “He saw her as no mirror could reveal her to herself”. (The rest is unimportant and explicit)

Surprisingly this picture was taken less than a month ago. This is a tree right outside my house and it's surprising because now its all green and 'springy'. I was strolling in my driveway one day when i noticed the myriad of colours behind this tree. It was near sunset. I quickly ran in for the camera and captured it, afraid that the light will go bad. Weirdly yet logically i see the same array of colours in the backdrop the next day, same time. It was then I realised that this was like an indirect second chance. I mean, even if my batteries had been dead I could have easily caught this image on camera the next day or any day for a while, before the backdrop changed course due to weather. Somehow it seemed appropriate that this picture should mark the end of my post.

On first glance this leafless, apparently dead tree against a subtle sunset gives this forlorn look but the fact that it stays in the same position all year round, grows leaves, sheds leaves, its background goes from dull to bright and bright to dull gives a lesson in itself. It’s here to stay. Just because it braves against all forces of nature doesn’t make it any more lifeless than us. It makes it strong and steadfast.

And like I said, if nature is so forgiving that it provided the same pattern and array of colours the next day then why can’t we, as humans be forgiving. What’s so great about us? Who do we think we are? Why can’t we give someone a second chance, or nature or situations or events? Everything! To be honest most importantly why can’t we give our own selves a second chance, a break perhaps?

I’ll let you guys sleep on it. Remember it is only when you learn to love and accept yourself that others learn to love and accept you. Think about it.

Until next time, Sara Q is signing off.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The blessings on my table

We all love our country more than any other country in the world. It's what makes us who we are. Pakistani. It is the womb that gave birth to us and it is the soil to which we will return. Just like how we somehow feel the pain of a loved one, seeing our motherland bleed causes us great pain. Once again, our country has suffered a horrifying blow and the price was the blood and lives of its sons. You know the event that I refer to. It is the terror attacks that occurred in Lahore.

These days it seems that the mood in Pakistan keeps getting more and more gloomy. Even our national cricket and hockey teams seem very depressed. The poor guys feel so down that they haven't been able to perform at peak levels recently and as a result have suffered many (very humiliating) defeats. It seems we Pakistani's just can't get a lucky break these days.

Everything seems to working against us, in an almost conspiracy like manner.

As a nation, we are all suffering from depression. So whats the most basic strategy to counter this? Well, like I've been told many times by a countless number of people, the trick is to look at the positive side of things. Like they say, Always look on the bright side of life. That is what this weeks post is about, looking at all that is great about this country, aside from the fact that me and Sara Q. were born here. Here we go:

  1. This one is a no brainer. Freedom. We were born free. Now I know that given the conditions of the country we're not as free as we'd like to think, but thats our fault, we let things get like this.
  2. We are not a nation of quitters. We are a resilient nation. Obsession with a cause is what gave us the country and this obsession is what allows us to keep it. We've been hanging on by a thread since 1947 and no amount of predator missiles will make us let go.
  3. Our nation is overflowing with talent and potential. How many times have our kids gotten out of this world results in A-Levels? We won the cricket world cup and countless other tournaments on pure talent without the presence of any formal sports coaching facilities. Same for hockey. The day we tap into our potential will be the the day we take over the world.
  4. We have an amazing cricket team and hockey team. Sure, they're going through a rough patch right now, but we all know once they get rolling they'll knock down any opponent they're up against.
  5. Whats the one thing that any Pakistani returning from foreign lands crave? You know this, stop reading for five seconds and try to guess this. Chances are you'll need less than three. The answer is, mangoes. We've got all four seasons and each season brings with its own tasty produce.
  6. We are a nation blessed with beauty. Beautiful people surrounded by beautiful scenery. Whether its valleys surrounded by mountains blanketed in white and green or rolling plains with rivers carving through or historical locations with a million stories to tell, we've got it all.
  7. Our armed forces are top notch. They've got the training, they've got the tech and most importantly, they've got a dedication to protect this country that no other soldier in the world possesses.

This is not really the whole list. It's only a small fragment of it. But, I'd love to complete it or at least make it really long so comment like crazy with your reasons that make you say Pakistan Zindabad.

Till the next post,
Talha A. B.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First impressions; the inside story

For this week's post I’ll be putting down something awfully common in our everyday lives. And like every common we dismiss it rather than delving deeper into origin or logic. So I’ll come straight to the point rather than elongating my preamble as usual. Like the title suggests it’s about impressions. First impressions actually.

To the general public first impressions are what we perceive when we SEE a person for the first time. But little do they realise, it’s more than just an assumption based on physical appearance. THAT is stereotyping. The first impression is a two-fold thing. The first being the initial assumption mentioned above and the second is when you actually get to exchange syllables; a proper tĂȘte a tĂȘte. It is then that you actually get to form an opinion about someone. Watching someone from a distance and forming an opinion about them might seem unfair but it is human nature to ‘size’ up individuals and categorise them into ‘types’. SO, today we talk about what happens after we approach someone, administering them as our own type. Like Talha A. B informed me the first time you talk to someone it’s all mysterious yet cautious. You actually get to know how successful your stereotyping was. Eventually both of these things will contribute to a first impression ‘grand total’. However, you can still form an authentic impression about someone even if you don’t get to chat; sometimes you just observe how the person in question behaves around everyone else.

If you think this is some lesson on how to make first meetings successful, think again. Though I’ve been told I can make a career out of giving social advice but that’s for another time. Maybe next week we can talk about tried and tested small talk. But for now it is more of a speedy journey from the first time we meet someone till present day and how much we were right or wrong about them. Based on context I’ve donated all possible situations with metaphors. It’s better to call them relationships actually because this here is a journey rather than an abrupt dismissal on first sight. These being ‘The ugly duckling’, ‘Frankenstein’, ‘Smooth surfer’, ‘Rocky road’ and ‘Lukewarm’. I would also like to add that most of these phrases are the work of my creative co-author. (Just in case I make a sociological breakthrough and am later sued :D). Anyway, let’s look at these in turn.

The ‘Ugly Duckling’ is actually a very interesting phenomenon. Don’t be fooled by the name. Always remember that the ugly duckling actually transformed into a swan in the end. That’s how such a relationship works. It starts off a bit strange; a thing or two might put you off but then as you get to know the person well you realise how lame you were to assume. The thing is that everyone in this world has a life different from ours and as we get to know more about theirs its revelations all around. The fact that we are proven wrong by such happenings actually becomes a positive thing. At first we saw differences; now we see similarities. There are countless stories of how people got on each other’s bad side at first but later became the best of friends.

‘Frankenstein’ in the opposite of the above. Just like an apparently useful invention went nuts this is what happens in this relationship. You start off well because you probably had a positive stereotype and impression but as you get to know the person you realise your direction might be inappropriate. Maybe it’s because expectations were high at the beginning and could never be fulfilled. It is like an infatuation that loses its glitter and goes ugly when the initial love-stuck sheen rubs off. What people need to see here are the long term effects of their current doing. Kudos to all those who can get through such a phase though.

Then comes the ‘smooth surfer’. As the name suggests these people are lucky enough to be proven right of their first opinion. In brief; whatever they expected they got, the expectation can be high or low but there’s satisfaction so who cares. They can be friends or couples who are taken as an example of perfection. However, if you ask me perfection can get a bit boring. Ups and downs are essential so we realise what the other person is like in a negative situation. But hey, that’s just what I think. (And apparently ALL those who get involved in infidelities :P). Pessimism apart, a salute to all those who make a spot-on decision and keep the magic going all their lives.

The ‘rocky road’ is well an ice cream flavour I think. It saddens me to use a beauty such as ice cream for such a benefit but I was running out of ideas :P. Anyway these individuals never get along and probably never will. They got on the wrong foot but unfortunately stayed that way. Do NOT even attempt to make something like that work. A co-incidence or a bad mood can prevail once, or twice or thrice if you feel generous but if ALL the time then such a thing is not meant to be, definitely! Just do a 180 and keep walking.

Last of all comes ‘lukewarm’. And just like the name suggests that’s what such a relationship is; lukewarm. This is actually the least important form because either these people are simple acquaintances we get to see once in a while or probably one of those we’re obligated to see once in a while. They are not obligated nor authorised to influence our decisions. The same goes for us. Such an acquaintance is all smiles and civility but nothing deeper. It is always a useful tip to have a few of these lying around; beats loneliness I guess. Back in high school, there were many people I could just go and talk to about general stuff when no one else was around and till this day we’re in contact. However, don’t make it a habit because honestly we all need to delve deep once in a while. Oh by the way, if such a relationship does not consist of mere acquaintances I suggest you add some fuel to the fire.

Personally speaking one of my best friends is someone who sat behind me in class for two years but only got to know each other later and realized how totally compatible we were. Compatible enough that she’s 25% of our followers :D. Of course can’t forget my co-author here. Who knew two people who barely talked to each other despite being classmates would ultimately team up to create the extraordinary, the awesome and the next big thing. Ok I guess I’m getting carried away now; we just love our blog too much. But the point is; we communicated that’s how we got to know each other’s literary insights and very awesome traits. And yeah I just had a “Rocky road” recently; a guy my senior from college whom I got on the wrong foot with (that wasn’t me it was actually the people I hung out with but somehow they’ve all disappeared and I’m the only one he can run into :S). So yeah not only is he intimidating his chain smoking skills will probably give me cancer!

Anyway, that’s a rap I guess. To conclude, all I want to say is, types apart it’s always good to give someone a chance when you’re meeting them for the first time. I mean someone might be having a bad day, a headache, family or peer problems or maybe he/she generally takes time to open up. GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE! And they might give you one too. A CHANCE not high rising expectations or you might do a “Franky” here. (So my mom says). We shouldn’t judge from first impressions but yes we are allowed to think about them. However sometimes, at the end of the day, every little thing you find about someone is something unique and interesting so find away!

Speaking of find; I need to go find a midnight snack. This is Sara Q signing off for now. J

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm getting too old for this sh**

I still remember all those little memories that make the early years worthy of being called a childhood. Back then it was the simplest of things that made me happy. Things like climbing all over the boundary walls of our house, chasing butterflies and running around on all fours like Simba from the Lion King. These things have something in common. I can't do them anymore. Though I did do the Simba thing just yesterday. I'm kidding. Or am I?

I do remember one other thing. I promised myself I would never grow up. Now you have an idea what I'm talking about. How many times have you heard the older and wiser crowd say something like "I'm getting too old for these things" or "It's not my age to do such things". I always thought that I wouldn't end up like them. That I would always be with "it". However, these days I'm finding that it's really getting hard to fight and not become obsolete. I find myself using the line "I'm getting too old for this sh**" a little too much lately. I really don't want to be a dinosaur. Oh well.

The pop culture these days is beginning to make less sense to me as the days go by. First of all, what the hell is it with all the emo crap thats going around these days? When did androgyny become a style? Seriously, insanely tight jeans (guys, you do know you have to reproduce someday right?), girly hair, and make up? It just doesn't register with me. I'm watching a music video and I think to myself "Hey, this lead singer chick is kinda cute" only to realize, its a dude. Thats just not right. Death to emo. Seriously. I'd rather have the boy-band craze resurrected.

Moving on, the music. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, but it's all just the same. Thats it. It's like they have a factory somewhere that just mass produces these generic celebrities and artistes. The material and the attitudes are all recycled. Every time I listen to a track I can't help but spot samples taken from songs of the 90's, 80's and 70's. The subject matter of the songs also seems pointless and shallow to me. The choices available to the artiste of today are:

  1. Parties
  2. Drugs and Violence
  3. Sex (with a great deal of misogyny)
  4. Random pseudo-philosophical crap (which is cool by me)

And again, the mellow (think brit-rock, brit-pop) and emo stuff just irritates me. We were all annoyed by that person, who just walks in the room and goes "Whats that noise? Honestly the music these days.....". I really don't want to be that person, so to all the bands and performers out there, please get your act together and pump out some good music.

The movies of today are also running low on originality. They suffer the same disease. There are way too many re-hashes, remakes, prequels and sequels these days. Special effects and insane action sequences are all good but I'd rather just have a good script. You know, the kind that leaves everyone talking and immersed in debate as they leave the theater. Though not every movie has to be a life changer so its all good. Sometimes a guy just needs to watch a movie with a lot of flash and a huge body count.

The kids these days are also a strange breed. I don't think I need to say much here as Sara Q. already touched on this. I will say this, seeing the things kids today do I can't help but say "Don't these guys have parents?" (Translation: "Oh ****, inn kay maa baap nahi hain?).

This post was supposed to be a bit longer but give me a break, I'm in recovery. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run around like Simba on all fours. Yay.

Till the next post,
Talha A. B.

P.S. Who can guess which character from which movie uses the line that I have used as my title?