Yet another winters day

It’s a warm day in winters. Sun is smiling up in the sky and I can feel the warmth on my hairs and face. As the car is moving on, my eyes are fixed on a stream running down the bridge. The water down is sparkling like someone had thrown diamonds in it. It seems like a child playing - laughing and running over the stones. There I see trees lining up across the road. The dried red leaves among the bare brown branches of the trees look awesome. The real life painting of nature had chosen the best colour combinations for the canvas.

But people passing by seem quite in hurry to notice all that. Some are getting late from work, others have things to do - worries to deal with - worries that are haunting their minds since the previous day or even before. Once they will get rid of these worries, they will manage to dig out more for themselves. Since, when one goal is achieved, we start aiming for the higher ones. When one dream is fulfilled we begin to pursue new ones. This never ending race keeps pacing on and our worries keep adding on and on. Night after night, we wake up carrying this bag of worries on our shoulders - unable to appreciate the beauty of the extraordinary things around us.

Only if we could take out a few moments, raise our head out of our worries and take a look at this beautiful canvas - we could realise how unreasonable our worries are. The beauty of the nature keeps reminding us of the love of God for us. How beautifully he has painted the whole universe and the things in it that fascinate human minds. Each day in this world is a wonder - yet another miracle. The whole universe is the biggest menisfestation of generosity and vastness. Why do we dwell on narrow mindedness, disappointments and useless worries then? Can’t we see the unbiasness of nature? The sun smiles warmly at everyone – rich or poor, strong or weak. The green sceneries are there for everyone to see. Why do we keep dwelling on the biasness and unfairness when we stumbled upon them at times in our lives? As if we haven’t seen any thing fair ever happening to us in our lives.

This whole world is itself the biggest favour on us. But we take all these things for granted. Our worries keep revolving around us and we keep revolving around them. In all this centeredness we completely ignore the nature and its gifts - the fair laws on which the whole universe operates. We don’t think of playing our part - paying back some of these favours by helping our own kind. I think it’s time by intriguing something new. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the beautiful winter scenes around you, fill your self with gratitude and see if you can pay back a bit of these favours by inciting something good today.

Bushra Naz

The Rohtas Fort

Recently I happened to visit the magnificient Rohtas Fort, 130 km on the GT road from Islamabad to Lahore. Because of its marvellous strength and solidity, it won’t be wrong if I declare it - the finest specimen of medieval architecture in Pakistan.

Occupying an uneven piece of land, the gigantic fort is founded on steep rocks jutting into the river Ghan. Being protected on the west and north sides by the river and by high hills from east and south, it was never taken by assault and survives intact to the present day.

The fort was built in compliance with the orders of Sher Shah, grand son of Ibrahim Lodhi. He was Afghan of the Sur section of the Lodhi tribe. It derives its name from Rohtasgarh fort in Bihar, which Sher Shah Suri captured from the Raja of Rohtas Hari Krishan Rai. Lying on the old GT road between the North (Afghanistan) and the Plains of Punjab, the fort was constructed for dual purpose: to block Emperor Humayun's return to India and to suppress the local Ghakkar tribes.

Humayun, son and successor of Zahiruddin Babur, had at the hands of Sher Shah suffered devastating defeats in two battles, at Chaunsa and Qanaauj, both on the Ganges. He had to retire to his younger brother Mirza Kamran who held Kabul and Ghazni under his control. However suspecting deception on the part of his brother, he decided to fall back on Persia. The Gakkars tribes were Mughals’ alliance and could pave the way for the Mughal re-entry. When Sher Shah summoned their boss, the Rai Sarang, who depended upon the strength of his country in the Koh e Jud, he dispatched the skin of lions and tigers in reply. This enraged Sher Shah so much that he decided to ravage the Gakkars, saying, that he would drive such an imperishable spike into the breast of the Gakkhars as should remain there till the end of time.

It took 8 years to complete the fort. Sher Shah Suri died before completion of this magnificent structure and it was finished during the reign of Sher Shah’s son and successor Jalal Khan. Ten years after Sher Shah’s death and the end of the Suri dynasty, when Emperor Humayun returned to rule India for another 15 years, the Governor of Rohtas, Tatar Khan Kasi fled. Ironically, Rohtas then became the capital of the Gakhars, the very people it was designed to crush.

This fort is a successful amalgamation of Afghan and Indian architecture. The elements of Hindu architecture are Haveli Man Singh, balconies on Sohail Gate and decorations on Shahi Mosque. The elements of Afghan architecture are use of stone instead of bricks in building wall and its utilitarian construction since it doesn’t have any living quarters and has comparatively less decoration. Most of the fort was built with ashlar stones collected from its surrounding villages.

The fort could hold a force of up to 30,000 men. Due to its location, massive walls, trap gates and Baolis (stepped wells) it could withstand a major siege although it was never besieged. The fortification has 68 bastions (towers) at irregular intervals. The terraces in fort are linked by staircases. The topmost terrace has merlon-shaped battlements. Muskets can be fired from these battlements. The wall had also machicolations. Machicolations are small drains that are built into the walls and are used by the soldiers on the inside to pour molten lead or other hot liquids on soldiers trying to scale the walls.

The fort also resided a mosque called Shahi (Royal) Mosque, the most decorated of the original buildings of the fort. On the wall of the mosque are beautiful round designs in which Islamic verses are written. These verses are surrounded by a Lilly going around the script. The Lilly design was later used by Mughals in Tomb of Jahangir, Tomb of Nur Jehan and the Shah Burj Gate in Lahore Fort.

There are no palaces in the fort except for a structure built by Raja Man Singh called the Haveli of Man Singh. It is built on the highest point of the citadel. Near Haveli Man Singh, there is another one storey structure called Rani Mahal (Queens’s palace). It originally had four rooms used by Raja Man Singh’s widow sister but only one room remains standing today. However, the foundation of the four rooms can still be seen today. The dome like room still standing today is about 20 feet high and beautifully decorated on the inside and outside. The roof of the room is like a flower. The inside of the roof is decorated with flowers, geometrical patterns and fake windows.

Although Rohtas fort was built for purely defence purposes, yet a few of its twelve gates were exceptionally fine examples of the architecture of that period. The Sohail Gate, deriving its name after the Sohail Star which rises on this side of the fort, is in fair condition even today. It houses a rest house, a visitors’ information center and a Museum. Its arches are decorated with beautiful and simple motifs of sunflower which is repeated in all parts of the Qila; Shishi Gate derives its name from the beautiful blue glazed tiles used to decorate its outer arch. These tiles are the earliest examples of this technique which was later refined in Lahore Fort by Mughals; Talaqi Gate derives its name from ‘Talaq’ (divorce). According to a legend, Prince Sabir Suri entered through this gate and had an attack of fever which proved fatal. This was regarded as a bad omen and the gate was shut off; Khwas Khani Gate, named after one of Sher Shah Suri’s greatest general, Khwas Khan, was the original entrance to the fort because outside the gate lies the old GT Road; Shah Chandwali Gate was named after a Saint Shah Chandwali who refused to get his wages for working on this gate. The saint died while still on work and was buried near the gate; Gatali Gate, faces to the village Gatali Ford (ravine) which is called also Patan Gatiali or Gatiyalian, was the important point to cross River Jhelum for the Kashmir Valley; The other gates are Langar Khani Gate; Mori or Kashmiri Gate opening to the north and faces Kashmir; Tulla Mori Gate, Pipalwala Gate, Sar Gate and the Kabuli Gate facing Kabul.

Bushra Naz

Published in Pakistan Times, 9 November 2009

An evening with a dreamer

I met Ahmad Habib, the young artist and poet, for the first time on a solo exhibition of his oil paintings titled ‘Splash of Life’ at Nomad Art Gallery, Saidpur village. While he seemed quite busy painting, strange objects, he didn’t seemed disturbed as I kept on asking him a hundred questions about his colour compositions, his brush strokes and different objects in his paintings. In his collection of 27 contemporary paintings, each painting had a different story. But one thing was common in all his stokes- a feeling of peace, beauty and above all ‘love’. Here is my account with a dreamer:

BN: We live in a period of one of the worst socio-political crisis? Can art touch us, reach us, in the same way it once did?
AH: It sure can. All forms of art depict its time and environment. The socio-political environment leaves an impact on an artist, be it a writer, poet, sculptor or a painter, in the same way, it affects a common man. It’s just that artists are the sensitive beings. What they see, listen or feel – they express it through their works.

BN: Talking about your latest body of work, in this painting titled ‘Down to the Valley’, I see some bridges, trees, and empty spaces – what does it indicate?
AH: For me, colours are what exist in my mind; and what I absorb from nature to constitute my own inner vocabulary. In this painting, the bridges, trees, and empty spaces indicates ups and downs in man’s life. Architecture of the dwellings offers a glimpse into creativity of villagers, who design houses to their own satisfaction, keeping them as close to nature as possible.

BN: Tell us about your series of painting titled ‘With My Self’?
AH: These four paintings are dedicated to the memory of Afghan sculptor Shabgard, who was killed during the Afghan war. ‘With My Self,’ portrays the fragility of the human beings versus the sturdiness and brutality of the environment in which they live.

BN: What are some of the influences behind your paintings?
AH: When I sit down to paint mostly, I only have a dot in my mind. I just nurture it, care for it like a seedling and wait for it to sprout. And when sometimes it does sprout like a dream - I try to make my dream come true in the shape of my painting.

BN: How do you decide upon your compositions? The colours you use?
AH: Often, the most difficult part for painters is choosing the colours but I don’t put myself into the problem of choosing the colours. I just recall my dream and pick the exact colour I dreamt about. My paintings are not the slave of formal compositions which are taught in school. Most of my canvas gives empty looks, some of my critics say that my paintings give an impression of being unfinished; I never gave them any reply because they were not there when I was dreaming. I would rather say that I don’t know much about colours, because the colour tubes are easy to buy from the market and this can be done by any one who has few rupees in his pocket. You just have to press the tubes to extract these colours on your pallet and spread around with the brush. The art is not in the colours, but in my humble opinion, it is the name of articulating your feelings. So I search for my feelings. That search is the most difficult time for me. I drown in myself and try to go through what I am feeling. Some times I am successful; and some times I just retreat without any success and just wait for another revelation.

Ahmad’s paintings leave quite an impression on common people, trapped in the anguishes of day-to-day life and the unruly environment. His paintings reflect the beauty of ordinary objects, things that many of us do not care to appreciate in everyday life. Seeing his paintings is just like reading a whole new story of love, with minimum words. This is exactly his style of painting; he paints - with minimum strokes – an entirely novel story of love.

Bushra Naz

A voice from the roots

I went to Mecca but I did not find the truth,
Even though I prostrated myself a hundred thousand times over,
I went to the Ganges but I did not find the truth,
Even though I bathed myself a hundred thousand times,
I held the rosary; I turned the beads in my hand,
But I did not turn the heart in my breast.
I went inside the mosques and the temples
But I did not go inside myself.

These heart throbbing lines by Bullah Shah were sung by Arieb Azhar in the most inspiring voice in his concert ‘A Melodic Expression of Spirituality’ last Thursday. His songs sat the audience on the edge of their seats, wrapped in mysticism. This concert was organised by Asian Study Group (ASG) in collaboration with Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) as a seasonal event with the theme ‘Peace and Tolerance’. Besides concert, the event also featured a painting exhibition of 10 oil paintings by Shafique Faruqi titled “Mysticism through Colours.

First impression can be deceiving as apparently Arieb Azhar is one cool dude, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and shaved head covered in a bandana. But when he played the first single from his album Wajj, ‘Husn-e-haqiqi’ he captured the hearts of audience through his magical voice. The single is set to the Sufi poem written about a hundred years ago. It ponders the beauty of truth and the nature of god. It's not unheard of for these poems to be sung, but never in quite this way.

With scintillating voice, he then sang “Allah Hoo- Alif Allah Noor Paay” and continued with mystic poetry of Bullah Shah, Sultan Bahu, Sarmad Sehbai, Khawaja Ghulam Farid and Guru Nanak. By the time, he sang the Rajhistani folk song ‘Kesarani Balam (Long haired beloved), the audience was completely overwhelmed. At the concert, Arieb Azhar was accompanied by Zeeshan Mansur on guitars, Akmal Qadri on flute, Amir Azhar Rubab on Bass and Ajmal Khan on ‘tabla’, all of them truly did justice to their instrument playing.

Arieb said ‘True music is the union between the individual and the universe - a release, rapture, celebration, quest, and lament of the human spirit. If I am able to touch that in the moments of my life, I will consider myself fortunate’. He continued, ‘Some of my earliest memories are of Shaukat Ali singing Saif-ul-Muluk, and later of Abida Parveen’. He added that he found the ‘feel’ he was looking for but the task of interpreting it in songs was far from over!

Fascinated with music for as long as he can remember, Arieb Azhar grew up listening to Eastern and Western classical and folk music that influenced his love for ‘roots’ music, and has always used the guitar as an accompanying instrument. The artist went to Croatia and Yugoslavia at the age of 19 for his studies and spent the subsequent 13 years there. In 2003, he moved back to Pakistan with the aim of immersing himself in the music of the Subcontinent. According to him, “I felt I needed to return to my roots in order to rediscover the genuineness of my music.” He has performed and been involved in leading music festivals of the country, such as the Rafi Peer World Performing Arts Festival and Sufi Festival, and more recently, the Coke Studio Projects.

Hats off to Asian Study Group and Pakistan National Council of Arts for organising a truly scintillating event - that was a relief for people watching violence on their TV screens. Events like this demonstrate the world that we are a land with our roots in the powerful ideology and life long struggle of great people rather than a country of terrorists. Love, peace and divine knowledge through direct experience of God are some of these powerful messages.

Bushra Naz
Published on: 14 October 2009, Daily Mail
(The e-paper)
For my other writings, see the archives.

My God, you’re still whining!

Mostly, everybody I know, my colleagues, friends, acquaintances…they all have to talk about their worries regarding either their jobs, family lives, love lives and if not this then this country and politics. Seeing them often makes me feel that everybody is trapped in a life they are not much happy with, since they are always whining and complaining about it. I’m getting fat, I’m overworked, my boss is such a freak, I’m going to be jobless soon, I am hopeless of this country and its people, and most of all I don’t have enough money. Why do we always have to complain?

We all have lost our real selves in the day to day things going around us. We are trapped in a routine life. Therefore, we cannot hear our selves. We fail to hear the sweet songs of chirping birds because we’re too busy to hear our whining boss. We can’t laugh with the laughing trees as the breeze rustles through their leaves; or smile with the warm sun that smiles on us everyday - all because we have too many worries to care about. We can’t see the love of God for us as we glance over freshly grown flowers, for one gives flowers to show his/her love to other. But we can’t spot it because we are too busy chasing the other love pursuits of our life.

Our day starts with all the worries that revolve around us, and so does it end. At the end of the day, when we go to bed, we don’t have much in our hands, except of a new worry, a new concern that has everything to do with us and only us. We fail to notice that the whole world is made out of a purpose – ‘love’, the love of God for us, the love of us for each other. Why do we have that much wrinkles on our foreheads then? Is that how a person to whom God and His whole universe love, should look like?

In our crazy lives, have we ever stopped for a moment just to ask ourselves ‘what is the purpose of our lives’? When everything around us has a higher purpose, why don’t we have one? Till when we’ll remain on the receiving end of this universe, taking its favours for granted and not giving anything in return? This is the only reason why most of us are not happy with our lives. Have we ever thought of anything above ourselves, our worries, our day to day chores and desires? What about others - the underprivileged, sick or needy - in whose lives we could make a difference by one simple deed of kindness, by one tender expression of love or by one gentle gesture of support?

I always love these lines from Helen Keller, ‘If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain: If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin, Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain’.

Managing your anger

Anger is one of the most misunderstood and overused of human emotions. It is a normal healthy human emotion though. It only becomes unhealthy when it is too long, frequent or intense. When it is person-directed and destroys interpersonal relationships and reputation.

According to George Anderson, an anger management coach, ‘Anger is not a planned action rather a reaction to an inner emotion. It is the energy that serves a purpose, by giving people the drive and determination to cope with difficult situations. Anger helps release tension. If handled well, anger can help resolve conflicts and improve relationships with others. Anger is an easy emotion to show; everyone gets angry’.
So basically anger serves two purposes: it tells you that something is wrong, and it gives you the energy to do something about it. However, anger can’t tell you how to handle a situation. That’s where anger styles come in.

The other day I came across a book ‘Letting Go of Anger’ by Ron Potter-Effron and Patricia Potter-Effron. They identified the following anger styles which are adopted by most people. Your anger style is the habitual, predictable way in which you handle angry situations.
Anger Avoidance. Anger avoiders don’t like anger, and in many cases they fear anger in themselves and others. They think they’ll lose control if they get mad, or that getting angry is a bad thing. They feel that they’re a good person because they don’t get mad. The problem with those that avoid anger is that they often fail to heed the signs that something is wrong, they fail to act assertively, and they often feel like others are walking all over them.
Sneaky Anger. Anger sneaks don’t let others know they’re angry. Often, they themselves don’t know that they’re angry. However, their anger manifests in sneaky ways, such as “forgetting” to do things they’ve committed themselves to do. When an anger sneak resents some demand from another, they keep from meeting the other’s demands through avoidance, and this can lead to frustrating relationships with those around them.
Anger Turned Inward. Some people feel that it’s safer to get mad at themselves, rather than getting mad at others. Therefore, when something goes wrong they blame themselves, even if the other person is at fault. Although it’s important to ask ourselves how we may have contributed to a situation that has gone wrong, too much anger turned inward can lead to feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Sudden Anger. People with sudden anger let all of their feelings “hang out”, for better or for worse. Their anger is like a sudden thunderstorm. They yell and make a big show of force, maybe even throwing things against the wall, and then it’s over. These people often lose control when they’re angry, and they often say and do things in the heat of the moment that they later regret.

Shame-Based Anger. These people feel ashamed by even the slightest criticism. They don’t like themselves very much and often feel worthless. When someone else ignores them or says something negative to them, they take it as proof that they’re not good enough. However, these feelings of shame make them feel bad, so they lash out the other person. Their anger strategy is the following: “You made me feel bad, so now I’m hurt you back”.

Deliberate Anger. Some people use anger deliberately to get what they want. They’ve discovered that they can control others and get what they want from them with their anger. Deliberate anger may work for awhile, but people usually get tired of being bullied around and they figure out a way to get back at the bully.

Excitatory Anger. Some people like the adrenaline rush that comes from anger. Their anger gives them emotional excitement, and their lives feel dull without these sudden “rushes” of intensity and emotional power. If they haven’t gotten their anger “fix” for awhile, they deliberately provoke a fight. Anger may not be a pleasant emotion, but for these people it’s better than feeling bored.
Habitual Hostility. Habitually angry people get trapped in their anger: anger is a constant, background emotion. They wake up grumpy, they’re usually complaining about something, they immediately look for the bad in others, and so on. Anger runs these people’s lives.

Fear-based anger. Fear based anger occurs when someone feels irrationally threatened by others. These people see aggression everywhere: people talking about them behind their back, plotting to take things away from them, and getting ready to attack them physically or verbally. Because of this irrational fear, they spend a lot of time “defending” what they feel is theirs, from their possessions to their relationships with others.

Moral Anger. Morally angry people feel that their anger is for a good cause. These people are always fighting for one cause or another, and whoever isn’t with them, is against them. They feel that their anger is fully justified since they’re on the side of righteousness, morality, and justice. These people suffer from black and white thinking, are intolerant of the opinions of others, and often have rigid ways of thinking and acting.
Resentment/Hate. Hate occurs when someone decides that another person is completely evil or bad. Hate starts off as unresolved anger; this anger turns into resentment, and then it hardens into hate. Hatred makes people bitter and frustrated, and it prevents them from moving on with their lives.

The idea is to recognise your habitual anger style and avoid falling into its trap next time. You need to realise that anger is a good emotion as far as it is healthy yet it needs to be managed properly. There could be several ways people can mange anger. They could work on creating self-awareness through developing certain skills like empathy, conflict management, good interpersonal skills, diplomacy, flexibility, personal accountability and sensitivity to others. They could learn to evaluate candidly what is said and then make a balanced decision. They could relate to others, to persuade or correct them in a nice manner. And most importantly, they could surrender the need to control others.

2 October 2009
Published in Daily Mail, 05 October 2009

Perfection…..doesn’t exist

Do you often procrastinate things because you think it is not the right time or situation? You are not in the right mindset to do that? Or not sure if it’s the right thing to do or will bring the right outcome? Thinking that, you feel stuck in one point and not progressing in any direction? Are you a writer staring towards a blank screen knowing not what to type, a painter lost in the plain canvas thinking where to draw the first line, a professional not sure about making a new career move or a business man with an invention on the back burner but knowing not where to start from? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are one of the many people suffering of ‘Perfection Paralysis’.

If we will use perfection as a measurement tool to determine our success and failure, we can never achieve our goals and will always fail; since we can NEVER be perfect. In one form or another, we all strive for perfection. We all want the right time and right situation to do the right thing. But the reality is that perfection doesn’t exist. Even then we look for it. Let's be honest, no matter how hard you try, your article will have a grammar error, someone will tell you and you will fix it; you will accidentally send a communication to a list you didn't intend to and; yes, your newsletter will have a broken hyperlink. But it’s not the end of the world.

Don't get me wrong, I am not asking you not to go for or do the best possible thing. The world is for doers. But there is a difference between ‘being perfect’ and ‘doing the best possible thing’. We need to realise that every situation we’re in is ideal, the one most right for us. It was meant to be so. Whenever you blame yourself of not coming up to the perfection criteria, just change your mindset and think that it was the best possible thing you could do in that situation and with that little information. In this way, we’ll never really fail because we’ll know everything is ideal, just in the right place for us.

We’re never stuck. It’s only that sometimes we pause at places temporary, just to learn something that needed to be learnt in order to move ahead in the right direction. When we use perfection as a yardstick to determine our success, we put boundaries to our selves. We miss on so many opportunities that were not perfect but just right for us and meant for us. Come out of this perfection paralysis and don’t let go of these opportunities!

Bushra Naz
28 September 2009

Published in The Daily Mail on 30 September 2009

Change or you’ll become extinct

While in my last article, I proved Darwin's theory of 'Survival of the fittest' wrong; I would support his saying, 'It is not the strongest of the species, nor the most intelligent that survives, It rather is the one that is the most adaptable to change'. The only thing that is constant in this life is 'change' it self. The whole world is changing, constantly evolving. Someone who doesn't change becomes extinct. Everything keeps moving in the positive direction be it sun, moons, planets, our whole solar systems. (Sketch above: 'Change' sketched by me).

Why do we humans are so resistant to change then? The more we are exposed to some prevailing source prompting us to change the more we resist, trying to keep in our original form. Friction is in human nature. When we come across a difficult colleagues, teacher or fellow, who seemed to have something that challenges us, our first response is usually an attempt to sustain our egos. We try to convince ourselves that he or the change he is suggesting is not good enough. Why do we do that? Why do we get offended, why do we resist? Whenever we come across something really challenging that has the power to move us, it is always for a reason. It always leaves us with some cause to develop, start over a new path or with a bundle of lessons to learn.

As for those of us who fear meeting different new people and disagreements, I have a little piece of advice 'open up'. In every meeting between two people, both people exchange a part of themselves. Whoever comes across us takes a part of us and leaves a part of him with us. Actually it's not the comments of others that we fear in conversations but we fear our own reactions to it. Only if we can learn to listen to others, calmly analysing what the other person is disagreeing to and let the other person express all his point of view without resisting it. If it is right it will make its way inside us no matter how much we resist, the quicker we accept it, the more we will save our own time. And if it is something wrong, and offends us even then there's no uses bringing your ego in the way. Just let it go, because people usually hurt and recklessly blame others when they're in pain themselves. Whatever wrong they would say about you is reflection of their own minds. It is their problem and has nothing to do with you.

Bushra Naz
17 September 2009
Published in Daily Mail on 18 September 2009

Survival of the weakest

We all are familiar with the world known Darwinian Theory 'Survival of the fittest'. This theory turns out to be wrong when it comes to human beings. Human beings are not the fittest ones on this planet; instead they are a species that needs to be protected above all. A bee is independent after five minutes of its birth and a baby giraffe is autonomous only six to eight months after its birth, however the specialists say a human being hardly becomes capable of surviving on his own after nine years of his birth. If Darwin's theory would be right, we would have been long extinct from the face of earth.

Today, this theory seems to penetrate so much in our everyday professional and personal lives. We've always been told that there is a cutthroat competition among us all and only the fittest survives. At our schools, we were taught to compete with our class fellows. Each child has a hidden talent of his own and he needs to be mentored in the right direction accordingly. Instead the emphasis was always laid on scoring well in pre determined areas of study when it should have been on acquiring knowledge and identifying our unique talents.

At works, we are in a constant practice of a cutthroat competition and we are appreciated for that by our employers. Someone who fails to follow the competition is considered incompetent and de-motivated. Research shows that people bring out the best results when they work in an environment that offers good team working instead of an antagonist environment where individuals fight for competition. Team working is working together, taking everybody along, in order to achieve a mutual objective. It's about helping and developing others - willingly sharing all resources and information. There is a famous saying, 'with competition there is always ego and hubris... competition gets in the way of work'. The only competition worthy of a man is with himself. Try determining your success with the number of people you help daily at work. This approach may not get you the so called fastest journey up in the hierarchy, but there is no fastest journey up. We all get the right stuff at the time most right for us.

This turns out to be right, even at our personal lives. All our lives we try to be in charge of everything, be it our feelings or emotions. We want to be independent. We are not supposed to show others that we are dependant on them otherwise we will be exploited or considered weak by them. The truth is that human beings have always been dependant and weak when it comes to relations. We are born with an essential dependency on each other and we need others support to survive. We only are able to live our lives truly when we are able to express our emotions fully.


14 September 2009

Published in The Daily Mail on 15 September 2009

We can’t change the colour of our skin

A high up trend these days is almost everyone among us has some plans to fly abroad, and leave this country for good. Be it students or young professionals, for some reason we all have this thing as a firm career objective in our future plans. We strive so much after it that most of us would do anything to go abroad.

The blame is not entirely up to us, we are encouraged to do so by every one - our families, friends, employers and society. Although, we have been free from the colonial rule since last 62 years but the mindsets of our people haven’t changed. Anything that has some western label is a cut above for our people. A degree pursued from abroad is worth many years local experience in the eyes of our employers. Nobody bothers to see if anything is actually gained by the individual through this degree or it’s just a label. The clich├ęd perception is that anything pursued from abroad is the best possible standard without any mistake.

Studying is just one thing, people who had been abroad don’t only get good jobs here but they are also supposed to get good spouses from here. Credit goes to the colonial psyche of our people. Everybody wants to go abroad. Going abroad seems like going to some fairyland. Often people forget to even scrutinise the prospective spouse for other basic things, a label of being abroad is more than enough. We willingly follow long lines and pooling of money from all the relatives just to get a student visa, which is easiest to get. Once we get it, we salute the embassies for making us stand in the line and then gladly fly out of this country. Later on, who asks if we are working full time on a student visa? Going abroad is such an attraction that we can even run the risk of going contrary to another country’s rules.

I admit, we do not have their so called standard of living but is that all one needs. What about our adoring families who are always there with us through thick and thin? Does a lonely life without any true relations worth leaving them? A lot of people who live in Pakistan in big houses willingly go abroad and live there in a room actually smaller than their store rooms. We would hate our own people - the way they live, the way they speak, they way they behave, all their ways. But we would absolutely love anything from white skin just because it is from them. We don’t mind even if the foreigners look down upon us, calling names at us as we turn our backs. In any case, beggars or slaves don’t get to choose.

When will we come out of this colonial enslavement and learn to realise our own strengths. Who is stopping us from pursuing a good degree, acquiring knowledge and work experiences there, but having a mind set of enslavement and a hatred for our own people will get us no where. We cannot change the colour of our skin, so it’s better to change the way we think. A country has a greater share in our identity, and we need to learn to accept our strengths and weaknesses, instead of denying both of them and finding a way to escape. We are too busy looking in the beautiful flowers in the other’s garden that we forget to tender the buds of our own garden. We don’t realise that another’s garden can’t be even to ours, because our garden is ours after all!

1128 hours
10 September 2009
Bushra Naz
Published in The Daily Mail on 11 September 2009

Losing real world

There is a famous saying that technology is the ability of arranging the world in a manner that we don't have to experience it. Quite right! If we look at our way of experiencing the world, we will realise that we are becoming more and more virtual? For most of us, a working day consist mostly sitting on an aloof desk, busy taking calls or staring at the computer screen for several hours in a row. As for after work…, there are quite a many things to keep us busy, TV, LCDs, DVDs, home theatres, play stations, broadband and face book. The trend of family outings and friends hanging out is becoming rarer and reduced to weekends mostly. Some of us hardly get to chat with our family everyday.

As the pacing technology has brought the entire world at our finger tips, at the same time we are losing touch with the real world. The trend of exercising and morning walks among young lot is no where to be seen. We exercise only when we want to appear in shape, and for that too we look for shortcuts. So gym or pills would sound a good idea. Outdoor activities are getting replaced by indoor ones. We are losing touch with the nature. Our physical inactivity is resulting into unhealthy body and mind. We have lost our balance between nature and tools. The emerging technology is so addictive that we don’t mind losing our pinch of nature for that.

Despite of the many advantages of technology, its misuse is becoming more common as well. The proportion of constructive use technology to inept use is really bad. The most in demand TV channels in our part of the world are either for movies or music and the most visited website is face book. The clumsy e-mail or forwards and indecent jokes in texts are so common. We’re falling short of the creative and innovative people - writers, painters, musicians - everybody around is just an inept techno.

The cyber world has not only made the business networking easier, it has made the virtual social networking even more easier, and thanks to the face book and chatting messengers, we can even date virtually now. It has become so easy that now even the kids have started to date. Today the 13 years old can put the relationship status on face book as ‘complicated’.

But with the clutter of so many tools and machines around, where are the chirping morning birds and enlightening fire worms; curvy footways covered with trees and the sparkling water of a stream; the fresh sunrise and beautiful sunset; where’s the peace of mind? The technology will continue to evolve this way, keeping us engaged but it is up to us to understand that technology may pace and abridge the things but it’s not a substitute of real world. If we want to stay sane and healthy, we need to stay close to nature, keeping a balance between technology and nature.

Bushra Naz

1400 hours

7 Spetmeber 2009

Published in The Daily Mail on 8September 2009

Drive slower, live longer

A reflection of any nation’s ethics is the way its people drive, and the way we drive shows a lot about us.

When it comes to unethical driving, the list has no end. For most of us, breaking the traffic rules when the traffic police are not around does not come under any offence really. We clearly speed over limit, being slow is not really us. Instead, if a car in front of us is following the speed limit, it’s our right to flash the headlights, to say ‘get out of my way you slow jerk’. But when it comes to us…well, giving way to others is not really us, is it? We can even drive at a speed of 20 mph in the fast lane, where the speed is 80 mph. No matter how urgent and serious the issue is, at times even the ambulances have to wait. As the green signal turns on, if the car in front of us fails to move within 1 second, it’s a norm to press horn immediately. If we are freaked out while driving, we can simply roll down the car’s window and abuse the other driver. Especially now, with countless barrier and security checks on main roads, we have the right to drive completely out of ethics and showing absolutely no mercy.

With the onset of Ramazan, we should be demonstrating some tolerance towards other drivers and traffic, but all we see in Ramazan is an increased level of intolerance and unethical driving. Where are we speeding to? Why are we in that much hurry? And who will get benefited with our ruthless, hurried driving.

Research shows, no matter how fast you drive you will always reach your destination almost with the car that’s driving in front of you, unless you are driving on a highway without signals and barriers. You can try testing this theory yourself. When it comes to barriers and signals, we all get even. Except you’re driving only for the sake of thrill and speeding, it’s insane to take so many risks and upsetting quite a many people, just to reach at work 3 minutes ahead of the car in front of you.

By ruthless driving we are not only frustrating others but frustrating ourselves for most of the times. It is evident that ruthless drivers, starting their day with frustration, usually keep yelling out at work and for rest of the day for no good reason. This way we are only initiating a chain of frustration spreading from one person to other and then coming back to us always in one way or another. According to the universal law of attraction, when we remain upset and frustrated most of the times, we keep attracting things that frustrate us over and over again. On the other hand when we avoid frustration and remain at the state of calmness and happiness, we’ll keep attracting all the good in the world.

Only if we can learn to turn the steering around, set out for work with a smile on our face, giving way to others and enjoying the view, we can make a difference not only in our lives but also in the lives of so many people around. Keep smiling!

Bushra Naz

1600 hours

02 September 2009

When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars!

I don’t want to bring in your notice what everybody is already talking about these days – the political, economical and social crisis our country is going through. We all know them very well as we are living it everyday. Each day we are reminded of these crises while shopping, driving, even while chatting with friends and colleagues. Our news channels keep telling us everyday how worse the situation is. They always have a tape to run from what’s going wrong and what’s not working in this country. The most terrible makes the news. Watching these channels, it seems nothing is working in this country. But is it the truth? If nothing is working why do we still exist on the face of earth?

Insufficient supply of basic utilities, ever increasing inflation, worsening road traffic, bomb blasts, religious fanaticism, regionalism, women issues, terrible stories…who is denying these problems don’t exist? But do they have to be repeated each and everyday through every mouth? Is there an end to it? Is this way bringing a solution to all these problems or just worsening it?

We are so much obsessed with what is going wrong that we miss out what is working. Why can’t our media focus on promoting our culture and tourism? Has Pakistan ceased to become a country with beautiful landscapes and magnificent Mughal architecture? Where are the lovely folk tunes, dances, colourful dresses? Have people forgotten to dance or play their instruments? The people from interior regions of Pakistan don’t have only the stories of women abuse or feudal exploitations; they have innumerable stories of hospitability, loyalty, sincerity and bravery. But how often do we hear about it?

Unfortunately, these beautiful stories are dying. Because our government is too busy in doing wrongs and then defending it, our media is too busy in covering government’s wrongs and our people are too busy watching all this.

The inappropriate proportion of terrible stories told against the stories of our achievements, has made us a hopeless nation. You will hear it every now and then: ‘Pakistan is a terrible country’, ‘this country has no future’, and ‘God knows what will happen to this country, it can’t stand on its own anymore’. It certainly won’t, not because of all these terrible things happening but only because we have lost our ‘hopes’. When a nation loses hope, it loses everything. We blame politicians, government, media, other people - everybody but ourselves for all what’s happening in this country. I think it’s too much of criticism and blame game now. We should put an end to that.

Countries are made up of people. They represent each individual that shares its identity. When you complain about a corrupt Politian, it’s good to first make sure you don’t corrupt your office hours with your leisure time, if provided a chance. When you blame government about the dirty streets; make sure you don’t throw out wrappers on streets while driving. The other day while driving I saw a display of Pakistani flag with Mickey Mouse printed on them. When we are left with no respect for our country and its ideology, why do we expect the world to do so? Change your self first, and then spread this change. Don’t adopt a destructive, hopeless blaming game.

The way I see it, each day a Pakistani make his living is an achievement. With countless inconveniences and obstacles, it’s amazing to see how we manage to survive. Security threats, increasing inflation, scarcity of basic utilities are just a few obstacles to name. We are a nation with majority of people who choose not to waste their times in pubs and useless leisure. Majority of us has a drive to achieve - achieve things to improve our living. Why is the world not told of the stories of our drive for achievement, why are we not appreciated for our ability to cope with the worst of all crises? I wonder if we survive this sort of socio-political crisis, what we would become - irresistible and invincible.

They say if something disturbs you, change it and if you can’t, then change the way you think about it. Complaining about it won’t do you any good. Every change starts from changing one own self. We can change the whole world by a random act of kindness.

Happy Pakistan Formation Day!

Bushra Naz
Published in Daily Mail on Tuesday 18 August 2009

Getting inspired by my own reflection

What draws us towards a person? Why do we look up to certain people or qualities in others? Why do we get inspired? (picture on left: 'Inspiration' painted by me)

Anything that inspires us in others is a reflection of our own selves. We often think that our source of inspiration is external, out there in another person. But the reality is that the very reason we get inspired by something is that a part of it resides within us. They are hidden some where deep down us and more often we’re not even aware of their presence. They have some connection to our embedded dreams - who we wanted to be in real.

At times something inspires us but we look up to it so much that we end up thinking we can’t really come up to that, or we see it as impossible. These are only the impediments we put to ourselves. We set our own boundaries. Impossible is what we define as impossible.

Every one of us has his/her special part to do in this world and we’re programmed accordingly. We are born with all the basic instincts and qualities required to achieve that. However, on our way to our destiny, we come across people, barriers and failures. But they are all programmed to come in our way to refine and shape us, so that we could fit in the key hole of the door to our dreams - our destiny. The things that inspire us help us in becoming exactly the person required to do that special task. It makes us the specialist of our assigned task.

So next time you’re inspired of something, don’t just think it’s not in your reach to come up to that. You’re getting inspired because it’s part of your dream. It’s something you see when you look yourself in the mirror - your own reflection. Something inside you wants to be like that. That thing was searching for some answers, had known them already but a manifestation of your answers outside yourself is just to remind you of your destiny - only to make you agree to that.

You don’t need to copy the source of your inspiration to fulfil your dream. All you have to do is to do it your way, because your way is the best way ever needed to achieve the special task you’re assigned to do. Always remember, no teacher can teach you unless you have a thirst of the subject in yourself. No escort can guide you unless you are curious about the destination your self. Your thirst and your curiosity are part of you; they have their origins in you, instead of in the teacher or the escort. They can only intensify it. The rest is your job.

Life is strange. Often we realise when we explore others we explore ourselves.

By Bushra
1413 hours
7 August 2009
Published in Daily Mail newspaper on 11 August 2009

The way she smiled

Lost in infinite gloom, my world was all dark

When someone lit a candle in the dark inside

Dazzled were my eyes, I couldn’t even see

Anything but where the cobwebs and dust reside

Is it my alienation, the estrangement to my own self

That made me so trembled that I shut my eyes wild?

I wanted to blow the candle off

Run back to where I always hide

Just when out in a corner, in the dim light

A pair of glittering eyes smiled

Holding some colours in her tender hands

She giggled with the innocence of a child

Her illness could reach her body but not her heart

In her face both pain and joy confide

The colours in her hands began to fly

Making a rainbow above me, they all allied

Her glittering eyes chased the darkness away

With her bright smile all my fears died.


2146 hours

15 February 2009

Of the Online Media!

The world has been changing and we are heading towards becoming a closer and closer global village. Among these astonishing evolutions, one of the most noticeable is the changing media trends globally, including in our part of the world.
Now online media in Pakistan is marking its presence through online news websites, blogs, forums and other online resources. It is reporting very vigilantly, relentlessly and timely on politics, business, technology, arts, culture, education and the list goes on…
Online media has become a very powerful tool, if invested upon, especially for third world countries like Pakistan. These days the world relies mostly on news from the western media that do a lot of propaganda against Pakistan for their own vested interests.
Because of the less recognition of our local print, electronic and most specifically no care for the online media, it is thus the monopoly of western media to make a mountain out of a molehill. Even though a lot has been done in last decade to revolutionise the local media of Pakistan but still it cannot obviously come up to the mark of international media.
The western media more often promotes an exaggerated picture of Pakistan. We are shown as an entirely devastated country. Bomb blasts and aggressions receive a full time coverage while any work in arts and crafts hardly finds its place in the news. This is not only earning us a bad reputation, but also having adverse effects on our foreign exchange, and thus on our economy. The investors shy away listening to these news and our remittances go records low.
Of-course, our online media is playing a pivotal role in improving this situation. The trends in media are changing and more people tend to rely on online resources now. Any news about Pakistan that is originated from Pakistan is considered first hand and more reliable by the worldwide search engines, as compared to those originated in a second country. Thus, it is a very good opportunity for Pakistan to promote to world its good image through online media sources and tell them that we are not a terrorist country.
A good portrayal of how we are investing funds to help IDPs in Swat or handling any disaster management could also help our government to raise enough funds. It has been observed that mainstream media also collects their stories from blogs and other online media, which is evident of the development and reliability of the online media.
An eye-catching revolution is in the online presence from Pakistani advertisers, which actually picked up gearing since last couple of years and are gradually pacing up with time. Early in this decade, advertising was entirely different as compared to current its scenario. Now a large number of the advertisers and consumers have online presence. It is easier for advertisers to filter their target market online.
The increasing ratio of advertisements from Pakistan on Google, Yahoo, Facebook clearly shows the increasing number of Pakistani advertisers adapting to online marketing. The reason is that they get comprehensive results, statistics and prompt responses by using online advertisements.
They instantly get statistics of their advertisement that how many people have hit their message. Online media [or phrased as e-media] - is the only resource where you can reach to your real target people. For instance, if you want to target younger generation like students, volunteers and internees then the ideal places to advertise is Orkut, Facebook, Hi5 etc. Blogs have also played a key role as well to attract an extensive number of internet users.
One of the most infectious advantages of online media is that you can communicate your message to your target audience in the most appropriate way, with animations, links, surveys etc.
Although so much is being done in getting better and better, but at the same time, there is lack of industry’s involvement in online media. We can easily find hundreds of news and advertising agencies - but only couple of them manages and control online media. So we need to dig out this potential and to capitalise from the opportunity that we have with us today.
Now the time has come, where we [the online media] demand an official status of online media, its legislation, terms and conditions, do’s and don’ts and above all protection from government. We should also be allowed to get registered with the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) as well as the other journalists’ unions or associations.
I do not see a reason for our government to neglect this powerful medium - the online media. But as our government has so many other things to do, and they may not bother sparing time for this cause, it will be good if our senior bloggers and established online media sources can contribute towards this effort, and discuss the issue in an organised and centralised manner.


Published on Sunday 28 June 2009 in Pakistan Times

Fake it!

‘Faking it’ is one of the most prominent and evolving trends these days, especially in our part of the world.

We are born with an inferiority complex of being a part of the third world and a superiority complex of being a Muslim. Our religion and our ideals are two opposite and strong forces pulling us in different directions. Since we can’t really be pulled in one direction, we stay in the middle and we fake it.

We all are fakes. Majority of you would think I have made a very bold statement. But if I tell you that the pop concept of presenting yourself by exaggerating your strengths and hiding your weaknesses is also a part of ‘faking it’, some of you may consider giving it a second thought?

We all invest years to learn techniques of impression management in professional and personal life both. Whether it’s a job interview or a date, the norm is to exaggerate your plus points and disowning your weaknesses to the extent you could. Most of us would advocate there’s nothing wrong in doing so; it rather is a tactful technique that would most likely get you a job or probably appeal your date as well. But there is a huge difference in highlighting your strengths and exaggerating them, not spoken about your weaknesses and disowning them.

Who we are at home is always very different from who we are at workplace or with friends. We may appear very sophisticated while eating with colleagues; making use of all the right cutlery but at homes we don’t mind dipping our fingers in food. I am not asking you not to feel at ease while at home, but giving an eye to someone who can’t hold the fork right is definitely not appropriate then.

I understand the fake accents, courteous words, classy dressing as an effort to keep up with others, but what I don’t understand is forgetting at all in public that there’s a different part of us back at our homes. I understand the exaggerated attributes as one’s desire to appeal to employers or opposite gender but I don’t understand the need to stick to it when exposed, the need to adhere to it even if the other gender is uncomfortable about it. I may even understand hiding the reality for good but I don’t understand faking it...

I know most of you would say what good it would be if you don’t fake it, some one who can, would perhaps replace you, showing up himself as more competent. But I would rather take the pain of telling my interviewer that I haven't been involved in this task directly but am open to learning it. I would rather enjoy telling in public that they would find me in un-ironed clothes back at home.

Because what I appear to my self is more important than what I appear to others.

1342 hours
Tuesday 28 April 2009

Published in Daily Mail on 26 August 2009

Insanity is in my genes - Episode IV

They say there is a child in all of us. But I don’t get to see it in most of the grown ups.

Children know what true passion is. One should learn the best way to live from them. Have you ever happened to observe children playing? When they want something they would do anything to get that. You would find it really hard to make them understand the constraints or limits in achieving what they want. They simply won’t buy it. They would pursue their wants without even thinking how much time it is taking them, even if they’re tired and haven’t eaten anything since hours, you cannot really convince them to abandon.

They are also very open about expressing their emotions and would tell you in the most direct manner what they want or feel. They would outburst into laughter even on silly things and would breakdown into loud cries, not afraid of being the centre of attention. You would tell them to behave but they don’t seem to understand that behaving is actually a better option than what they do.

We all did this when as kids. But as we grew up, we learnt to keep away our feelings, to hide what we want. We learnt to behave. Because someone told us while we were growing up that we cannot get everything we want…The biggest lie of the world! We actually get all what we want, if we don’t we get something even better than that but impatient being a human we more often don’t wait to see better things coming up our way and end up telling our selves we’re not supposed to get everything we want.

There’s nothing in this world like losing. What we think as losing are only lessons and diverters that lead us to somewhere better than what we thought for ourselves. But we usually quit trying at all because of the fear of losing.

What keeps us from expressing our emotions? Fear of others, what the other person would think about it? We won’t be ourselves just because we’re afraid of the reaction of other people. We would do what they like and won’t do what they don’t like. Why do we give our control in the hands of others?

We were supposed to grow up with time, but we actually get worse than we were in childhood. We lost our natural instincts to be ourselves. Insanity it is, indeed.

22:07 hours
Tuesday 31 March 2009

This article was published in The Pakistan Times on Sunday 21 June 2009 (

Insanity is in my genes - Episoe III

The past is over and gone and the future is not yet here, it’s not guaranteed. Then why do we spend most of our lives repenting on our past and worrying about future, crucifying ourselves between the two of them. Sounds insane?

The key is to enjoy the scenes at the driveway instead of giving the steering in the hands of your past and future concerns that would keep crashing you at blind spots.

We can’t undo our past sufferings and repentances but what we can do is to learn from our mistakes and use these learning to improve our present lives. It is also pointless to be anxious about future as we would always be able to cope with it with the same weapons and justifications that guard us against present.

There’s a universal law of attraction, ‘whatever we think about mostly we attract that in our life’. When we spent most of our time thinking about our past unpleasant experiences, we keep attracting those unpleasant things all over again.

It is not the failure that makes us lose, it is the fear of failure that does. Our fears and concerns about our future based on our past hinder us to achieve our goals. When we spent too much time fearing about what may go wrong, it will go wrong – the law of attraction.

Do your best to follow your hearts and then surrender in front of the Highest Power, the caring hand in which is the command of us all. Figure out what do you want and do not insist on how it should occur for you. Stay happy and let the universe figure out for you all the ‘hows’. What you want will more often come from the least expected place. This is the beauty of life.

Life is the present moment we are living in. It is the moment that if passed, would never come back again. This moment has in it whatever it takes to keep us happy. So stop driving insane and take the steering in your hands. Count the blessings you have today and enjoy the present moment – That’s life.

The caravan of life shall always pass
Beware that is fresh as sweet young grass
Let’s not worry about what tomorrow will amass
Fill my cup again, this night will pass, alas.

Rubiat of Omer Khayyam


2315 hours

Saturday 14 March 2009

Published in Daily Mail on 12 August 2009

Insanity is in my genes - Episode II

Politics was never my favourite discussion. In fact, it is something I always felt reluctant to talk about. The reason wasn’t that I am not interested in current affairs. It was because I always fear reactions of people on topics related to politics or affairs of this country. For some reason, you get a strange kind of harshness in people when they talk about this country, its politics and current affairs. They are just not themselves.

Broadly you can come across three types of people when it comes to political discussions:

The first is the concerned type. They seem really concerned about this country and current affairs. Sometimes they’ll get you in hot arguments. Even if you’re not confronting them, they will get confronted themselves; and if you will, they’ll get even more confronted and will get you confronted as well. But you’re never sure what will come out of this hot argument except of the heat that will vanish the moment they’ll walk out of door.

You would also find a type of people who’re just made to speak and to be listened. They’re born leaders, as people would tell them. Because they sound really good, even if you’re not sure you’re quite getting what they’re saying. They talk about the higher purpose of life, something that is far higher than you your self and anything thing else that you think is important to you.

Then there are some people who’ll tell you they don’t give a damn about this country and whatever is happening in it. But if you look at the tone with which they say it, you’ll know how much damn they’re giving about it, in fact, far more than they were supposed to. This is the disappointed type. There was a time they loved this country and wanted everything to be alright but then something made them lose or they got better things to worry about. They’ll convince you to lose hope, or you can go to hell for all they care. But the funny part is they won’t let you live at peace in the hell as well and will keep poking you there from time to time.

Sometime back, hot arguments used to get me boiled, leaders would get me stupefied and disappointed people would make me horrified. So much that I was puzzled who I am actually, aggressive, stupid, selfish, coward, hypocrite or just a Pakistani (to be warned some people also use this title when they mean swearing)? Who was I?

It wasn’t long time back when I realised the reason I get so much affected by these types was that I have a reflection of them in me. There was one thing common between them and me… Insanity!

We can waste all our time in arguing, defending one party, one policy or one point of view. We can get even more insane, convinced that we haven’t done anything for this country, go to a demonstration against government and get beaten up or made to run away by security. Or we can just sit back and relax over a cup of tea, switching news channels covering the violence. But what we won’t do is to realise that countries are made up of people and to make it the way we want we need to do very simple things, not with others but to ourselves.

Stopping myself to give a horn to the car in front of me as the green light turns on, buying a pen for my personal use instead of using my office’s stationary, have the sympathy of stopping to dispose the dead body of a crushed cat on road, or finding a bin to throw the wrapper instead of rolling down my cars windows and throwing that on road. What we need are ethics, the strength and willingness to do the right thing. And this can only be done at the individual level first.
1855 hours
12 March 2009
Published in Daily Mail:

Insanity is in my genes – Episode I

Once upon a time, there was a wicked magician who hated a king of a far off kingdom for a good reason. As part of his enmity, he casted a spell over a common well from where all his subjects used to drink water, so that anyone who drinks from that well gets insane. The number kept multiplying everyday and in no time all his subjects were insane.

The king, upon hearing the rumours, issued an order in the kingdom that no one shall drink water from that well. When his subjects heard of the order they said the well is absolutely fantastic instead the king is talking non-sense and has probably gone insane.

Soon there were protests against the king and all his court men also turned against him, taking him and his wife as insane. The king had no option but to resign from throne. Just then the queen asked him ‘let us drink water from that well' and when they did, they also became insane. They started talking non sense like all their subjects.

His subjects thought the king has recovered from his insanity and can now get back to his throne again. And the king ruled happily ever after.

Fairytales are not always fantasy, far from reality. If we notice, we may see a lot of fairytales stuff happening in our real lives. Insanity is not ‘an abnormal state of mind’ it is rather ‘just a different state of mind relative to majority of people’.

Confused? Try something different that the majority doesn’t do and then see how this majority will end up calling you insane. All our lives, we don’t try things that are different and non conventional just because of the fear of others, because others think it is inappropriate. We follow traditions and customs just because everybody else is following that whether these customs seems to fit in our mind or not. We would fear to raise our voice against the things we think inappropriate, just because others are silent and submissive to it. We live the dreams of others, instead of living our own dreams, our own life.

Every man on this earth is a unique creation that would never come in to being again in this world. He has within him all what it takes to achieve the purpose for which he is sent into this world, the purpose that he and only he could achieve. Why do we then want to lose our uniqueness and get lost in the commonness of the crowd?

I really envy those living in the mental houses; they don’t care about raising their voices, about the surroundings, manners, traditions or customs because all these things don’t seem to fit in their minds. They just do what they feel like, what they think is appropriate. We call them insane but in fact we all are insane, the only difference is that they do what they think is right.

(The fairytale in my article is a story narrated in my words from book 'Veronika decides to die' by paulo Coehlo, 1999)

0235 hours
16 March 2009
*Published in Pakistan Times on 10 May 2009*

The Whirling Dervishes of Konya

I’ve been always attracted to the dance of Whirling Dervishes of Konya, and found it very mysterious up until the time I learnt about the background behind their custom. After that I found this concept very practical. (The image above: Whirling Dervish - painted by me)

Whirling Dervishes are a Sufi order founded by the followers of Rumi in Konya, present-day Turkey. They are known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as remembrance of Allah. The dervishes wear a white gown, symbol of death, a wide black cloak that symbolizes the grave and a high brown cap that symbolizes the tombstone.

Their dance represents the spiritual journey of man through mind and love, to the ‘Perfect state’. Turning towards the truth, the dervish grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth and arrives at the ‘Perfect state’. The ‘perfect state’ means that the truth has rectified the entire life of the follower and now he will live his life for others.

I find this concept of spiritual journey quite interesting and useful. I think the path of every spiritual journey or learning starts from love. When we love a thing or a person, we are in fact on our way to an adventurous journey that leaves us with a bundle of lessons to learn and help us to develop.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a challenging environment. When we see anything inspiring in others or anything new that we didn’t know before, our existing believes and thoughts are challenged. Friction is in human nature. We resist changes. We usually pull our defenses on, whenever we see a challenging person around and resist change to the extent we can.

Having difficult and challenging people around, is not a disadvantage, it rather is an advantage. Challenging people and environment always develop us. You may have noticed, at workplace as well, often one of the major hurdles that stop us from learning and progressing is usually our ego. Our ego deserves to be deserted when it comes to learning something. When you find your self saying ‘I know it better’ in front of a person of outstanding merit, you are actually depriving your self of a chance of developing.

Imitating the people who are successful in achieving the things we aim for, is a key to success. ‘I measure what's going on, and I adapt to it. I try to get my ego out of the way. The market is smarter than I am so I bend’ - Martin Zweig, a successful and influential American investment advisor quotes.

Even at your personal life and relationships, if you want to be happy, then you should go beyond your ego, your internal dialogue. Make a decision to turn down your need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three major things the ego is doing all the time. It's good to be aware of them every time they arise.

Another concept that I love about the whirling dervishes is when a dervish reaches to the perfect state - he will live his life for other human beings. Apart from Sufism, living your life for others is the best practice I ever came across. In our lives we experience a great deal of joy and often suffer a great deal. But our joys can only be real if we look upon our lives as a service and have some kind of objective in life, outside ourselves.

As we give of our time, talents and resources to tend the needs of the sick, offer food to the hungry and teach the dependent to stand on their own, we enrich ourselves spiritually in true sense. When we concern ourselves with other people, we live our lives to the fullest and feel truly alive.


1705 hours

Saturday 11 October 2008

*published in The Pakistan Times on 8 May 2009*

Just scribbling…

Some people say you love once in your life. Some believe in love at first sight, others don’t. Some people put demarcations of ‘real love’ and ‘just love’. Some believe love is the other name of sacrifice, love is unconditional, and love is all you have to give while some would also believe giving too much would kill the love. We all love, yet it is the most misunderstood topic. Why is that so? Something that is human nature should be as simple as our need to breathe and to eat.

Have you ever experienced when you feel drawn towards someone or something, you move towards its direction and if it moves away, you get more drawn towards it? Sounds familiar? We all experience that and a lot of us end up taking our longing for that thing or person as love. But the funny part is that we hardly know, it’s not the object of our affection but our own longing that is keeping us engaged, making us fall in what we are calling love.

Have you ever wondered why do the things you love most in your life, tend to get away? Who moves them? Who makes you follow them and end up somewhere? If you look carefully at the path you had followed you would find the answer as well. Every person and every thing you think you’d ever loved in your life has changed you in a certain way, has taught you a certain thing, has made you developed into a person you are today. People and objects were there to grab your finger and take you from one point to another.

It seems to me, we all have some sort of hooks in us and love is the rope. And then, there is Someone, in whose hand is my rope, Someone Who is truly wise and superior. Who knows exactly where He’s leading me to. Grateful yet or not, but everybody realises this at some point in their lives. Every single man on earth is sent with a purpose, a destiny to achieve and our loves are the ropes that pull us towards it.

Wednesday 11 March 2009
0010 hours