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Archive for April, 2011

Okay. Am done with reading two books on philosophy and science, back to back, dealing with inception, existence, purpose and history of life and universe. Phew! If I still sound intoxicated, so you know who to blame. (Not me, of course!). Just raking my way through the hangover which is more like a dizzying experience we suffer from, while standing at the edge of what we humbly term in structural engineering as an overhang.

The blockbuster ‘Sophie’s world’ written two decades ago is highly recommended. In pursuit of simple everyday babble such as ‘who are you?’ and ‘where did the world come from?’, the book leads you through a philosophical trail of three thousand years of history of mankind and civilization. At the end, the author through his masterly fabricated tale, plot and theme, leaves you wondering whether you are living in reality or surviving in a mere realm of reality. The evolution of mankind and civilization and the ever itching human quest and need to discover and explore the secrets of universe and life have been briefly narrated. A cautious approach, if not meek, towards the existence of God is evident throughout and questions of religion and faith are at best left open ended. It will be fair to remark that the author has stated a variety of perspectives without taking any firm positions for or against them.

On the contrary the assertions of our modern day researcher cum scientist Stephen Hawking are rather revolutionary and blasphemous. Relying upon a notoriously evolving M theory, in his work “The Grand Design”  he painstakingly sweats and is hell bent upon proving the creation of universe and life sans God. The complexity of what he proclaims all boils down to the fact that multiverse i.e multiple universes owe their existence to the big bang that occurred some 13.7 billion years ago when ‘something’ was created out of ‘nothing’. Thus all evolution and creation of universe and lifeform is no miracle but a logical conclusion and result of immaculate obeyance of laws of nature. Knowing our present as a reality and a fact, and eliminating various possibilities by virtue of statistical and mathematical probabilities, he argues, history as well as the future of the universe can be predicted. Thus, there are more than one probable histories as are there probable multiple futures. What comprehensively beats all my wits and senses is the sense and assumption that there exist eleven dimensions in the universe including a dimension of time space. Sounds sense less? Who knows !?

As regards the creation of first physical atom, the author claims it to be hydrogen. However, he fumbles and staggers to build a convincing case for the creation of first carbon atom from thereon, which happens to be the basis and essential element of all organic lifeform. The worst part and the bad news is that he still firmly stands by Darwin on my evolution_ when he stubbornly declares that my forefathers existed in the form of baboons and monkeys for centuries tracing back their roots and tails to the first homo sapien that came to breath some two hundred thousand years ago on the cooling planet.

From here I would rather retreat to the safety of being a believer and a monotheist, for it gets increasingly difficult to chew on and swallow bits as indigestible as these.

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The queen of hills as it is majestically known, Murree holds a unique pedestal amongst the hill stations of Pakistan. Established as a sanatorium for British troops, that soon developed into the summer headquarters of Punjab government, the town was built in the middle of 19th century. Most significant historical land marks such as church and the “The Mall” were constructed in 1857 and afterwards.   

Located at a distance of 65 km and nearly 90 minutes drive from Federal Capital Islamabad, thickly clustered alpine paradise exuding bewitching beauty, remains highly accessible throughout the year. Perched up at an elevation of about 2300 m ASL (7500 ft), the hills remain draped in white sheet of snow mostly during December to March. The annual precipitation is nearly 1500 mm, in all probability, the highest anywhere in Pakistan. 

Golf course and hill resort of Bhurban, having an elevation of nearly 2000 m, are also located in the vicinity of Murree. Development of Murree expressway recently has rendered accessibility even better. 

A few pictures taken during a damp afternoon are attached here: 

 

PC Bhurban on a soaked day

Though one of the most charming places to visit, the influx of tourists much beyond the capacity and development has taken its toll. Lack of planning, human intervention and haphazard construction without any strict control or codes have contributed considerably to the environmental and ecological degradation. The green patches are being ruthlessly ripped away while heaps of debris are becoming increasingly visible. At times, even a stink of foul odours overrides the fragrance and freshness of the breeze that is the trademark of the overwhelming atmosphere. 

We have to act responsibly to preserve the rapidly depleting beauty and aura of the place!

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Before I really get started, let me clarify that I have no personal or political affiliations with PTI or any political or religious outfit for that matter. I am an ordinary citizen of the land of pure who simply believes in keeping his eyes and ears open and as tired and averse to all the gimmickry and everyday drama staged on the political stage by the buffoons, we hold in high esteem and reverence and shamelessly call our leaders. Neither do I believe in generalizations or stereotyping (or atleast I suppose so) nor drawing corresponding inference from an action just for the simple reason that it is associated with a particular source.

Yes. If I have some regard for the man, that is for his well rounded leadership skills. For he is the only skipper who led us to the victory stands during the ‘92 cricket world cup. I believe, that is extraordinary as no one else could accomplish the feat in 36 years of world cup history for Pakistan, even with much more talented super stars and players in the respective teams. A glance upon the history of the game reveals that despite various controversies, Imran Khan is easily one of the most successful captains, the cricket of Pakistan has known. Those who think I am digressing, I am actually not, as various leadership theories emphasize that it is the personality and personal attributes that formulate the central core of leadership skills or abilities. So whether you are leading a political party, a nation or a cricket team, it has more to do with your core personality, vision and motivational charisma than prowess and acumen.

In addition to that, Imran Khan has shown much more consistency in his political career than any other so called political leader, I have known lately. He is one person who has contributed directly to health and education main stream by establishing mega projects such as Shaukat Khanam Cancer Hospital and Namal University for the common man.

When it comes to drone attacks, I’ll rather base my case on facts, figures and reason than on rhetoric. The emphasis shall be upon the basic human rights’ violation as opposed to any political argument. As the various authentic sources reveal and the buzz is in the air, some 1184 innocent citizens have been butchered by drone attacks just in 2010. Wikipedia quotes the number of the slaughtered since 2004 anywhere between 1439 and 2290 including significant number of women and children, even infants. Brookings Institution suggests that Drone strikes may kill 10 or so civilians for every militant killed. Whereas, according to Pakistani sources, against the strike on every single terrorist or extremist, 50 innocent lives are acclaimed. How shameless can it really get when we dismiss it with such a God forsakenly brazen expression as ‘collateral damage’!? Are we living in stone age? We are talking of human blood and gore for God sake!

Where are all those so called champions of human rights who keep on jumping like clowns on every drop of the pin? Why are they deaf and blind to all that unjust bloodshed? It is disgusting even to watch some of the self proclaimed human rights’ workers to ridicule Imran for the simple reason that they cannot get over his right wing political leaning. At least he has the guts to stand for a just cause and humanity that I see as more than a mere lame attempt at gaining some political mileage.

Not that the butchering of innocent population like herds of sheep and goats can be justified in any way, when it comes to effectiveness of the drone attacks, how far have they been able to weed out extremism? How many scalps of proclaimed offenders or terrorists have we claimed and how many terrorist attacks or suicidal strikes have we been able to suppress so far in 7 years? What good has it contributed to restoration of regional peace?

It is not about Imran Khan or his politics but it is about standing up for a just cause and lives of innocent Pakistanis. Forget national sovereignty, forget foreign intervention, forget that nefarious and bogus war against terror_ how bizarre and ironic it really seems asking for the right of basic existence and putting forth a demand as innocent as sparing of those precious human lives and letting them live in peace in that rush of madness, supremacy and brutality!?. Really wonder if we are living in 21st century or are we transported back in history to the age of darkness and times of Genghis Khan?

In this golden era of modern civilization, a tower of human scalps is growing and well on the making for the world to witness! 

Sources :- 

http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/174477.html 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_attacks_in_Pakistan

 

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I received an email from a colleague explaining some startling facts and intricacies of the universe, first thing this morning. The emphasis was upon the inperceivably humungous expanse that formulates our universe not to mention the enormous nebulous and material mass of heavenly bodies that remain suspended in vacuum gutted firmly to their place revolving endlessly in elliptical or circular orbits in mind boggling harmony, discipline and co-ordination. Never crossing each other’s path nor interfering in other’s business. If there is a limit, that hardly matters for it is almost meaningless putting a limit or end to a scale that is much beyond the comprehensible capacity and tendency of a human mind.

We are dealing with such a countless and unlimited scale where our earth and even our sun (much much larger in size than our earth) is lost as a tiny speck in a blaze and mass of heavenly bodies scattered across the atmosphere.

The message perpetuated therein was “what is the significance of a human being in such an endless expanse where even my world is entirely lost and struggles to assert its existence?”

If we are dwarfed to such a minuscule proportion whereby our existence becomes questionable and much insignificant, what is the point in carrying all those worries in our heads and squabbling over our mundane contentions?

After a brief consternation, a thought drifted across the bleak layers of my mind transforming gradually into a voice that echoed within the confined corridors.“I am my universe in myself; I am the centre of my own universe” That’s precisely what a philosophical and behaviourial school of thought believes in, not without much reason, I must add. Via any exchange, either I am giving something away or receiving it from the infinite entities surrounding myself, nevertheless, I remain the center and focal point of my own little world. Whether the universe is small or large, it is pointless as long as my problems remain my own just like my blessings are unique and my very own.

In this haphazard world of uneven distribution, the nature has been kind and just about one entity at least. What is the logic and justification behind that, one does not know. God has His strange ways of doing things. Time is the only resource, of which one can think of, that is uniformly distributed amongst the blessed and the condemned souls. Okay. You might again disagree. Our life spans vary, are unique and unknown until we die. Again looking at a lifetime from an evolutionary point of view_generations and generations have eroded over thousands of years since the inception of the mankind. What does a life span of 60, 70 or say 100 years signify amidst that torrent and wiping current of centuries?

Evanescence!

But what is lasting amidst all that momentary flash of life we are exposed to? What makes a difference and counts is, in addition to our deeds, our contribution to the evolution of the humanity and the permanent footprints or undeliable reflections that we leave behind for the following generations to adapt or benefit from_The environment, atmosphere, conditions, resources, morals, values, knowledge, learnings, manners, etiquettes and the material world we pass them on as theirs.

Life goes on and so does the history and evolution. On road to continous exploration and discovery, the man continues to unravel the amazing facts and secrets of universe. However, personally I shall always remain indebted to Newton for unearthing the greatest eternal truth about our universe. What holds everything together and firmly in place despite immense disparity and diversity is the mutual affinity, gravitational pull and bonding. Isn’t that what we quite call as love?

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As the spring sets in, everything springs up including our trekking plans for the year. To start the season, those who know of it, we go through the annual ritual and pilgrimage of walking through a breathtakingly beautiful trek that tears through the verdant meadows and alpine heavens running from Thandiani to Nathiagali. 39 kilometers in walking length, oscillating between 6500 and 9000 ft ASL, the warm up trek is known as a bed of roses amongst the trekkers of Pakistan. Forest rest houses provide lodging and camping options at Biran gali and Dagri, both 13 kms ( 8 miles )  apart. 

As it is not humanly possible to narrate the beauty and charm of the hike, a few pics taken during the last year’s hike taken by my friends ( all credit to them) , are uploaded to exhibit a glimpse of simplicity, purity and natural aura that pervades life in those mountains and valleys. 

A picture, as they say, is worth more than thousand words…….

 

 

As I relived all those moments, craving all the more to go through that remarkable experience all over again, how was your journey through the snapshots? Like to share a word or two?

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Entrapment

Having a hard time reconciling, taming and aligning a jumble of incoherent and disorderly thoughts simmering in my mind. But something is definitely brewing and struggling to ooze out from the suffocating confines of existence. What it  is or may be, I have no idea. Vague and shrouded, hammering with an incessant and chronic discomforting strength.

This is more like walking in utter darkness in a descending and thickening mist and haze of uncertainties. When you are lost in an endless spiraling maze of your own contradictions and every subsequent step becomes progressively heavier but the beacon ominously retreats farther away in oblivion with each trudging stride. Out of breath and weary, that is perhaps when the terrifying realization hits home whether you are moving forward or backwards? Or moving in circles; round and round. Or everything else is static, or else rushing at a breakneck speed yet frighteningly stationary with relation to each other_ just like the moon going crazy revolving round us, sweating tirelessly day and night, though never quite mustering or gaining the liberty and freedom to dash away from its orbit yet placid, merry and beaming in the vanity and glow of  its delusions never aware of the invisible strings tied round its neck ensnaring it to the very course it is destined to travel in endless repetitions. Again, we never know if that’s a blessing in disguise? For, it brings home the fact what an enormously gratifying blessing and bliss ignorance is, that prevents us from such phenomenol suffering and melancholy….

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The weather has taken a delicate turn and spring with all its exuding charm and flavour has overwhelmed the landscape once more. Rampant grassy patches have sprouted to life and flowers are seen blossoming everywhere. Spring, this year, has been characterized by frequent rains and heavy moisture laden caressing breeze has been the signature so far.

It is a beautiful evening awash with fragrance and dampness sprinkled with light rain and drizzle. The overcast makes it darker unlike the last night when the glistening moonlight filtered and tore through a haze of thin clouds that sailed across the sky, captivating everything in its glow. As I take a stroll inhaling all the freshness, it reminds me of my scribbling on the heralding of the spring last year that I shared with my adorable friends and readers on the other blog. It goes like:

Nothing is more colourful than the spring of the mountains. When it descends upon the lush green valleys, pastures and shelving slopes with all its relentlessness and might, it renders life and vitality to everything. The green turns brighter and vivid. Growth gets luxurious and abundant. Sprouting buds transform and develop into blossoming flowers. Frozen brooks and streams begin to gush into cascades. Birds migrate back to their dwellings succumbing to irresistable temptation. Their chirping complements the murmuring of water courses. Fragrance laden breeze roams about intoxicating the atmosphere.

In short, spring is a demonstration of nature exuding all its purity and charm when it is at its brutal best. It is worth something to penetrate deep into these mountains and valleys, far from materialism and commercialization, to savour a feel of this extravaganza. Breathing in purity and inhaling the densely perfumed scents is such an enviable experience.

If on a mountain trek, at the end of a day’s hike, while exploring those treasures of nature, there is something that really intrigues my mind. Even before pitching the tent and as soon as I’ve liberated my aching shoulders from the burden of the haversack, the impulse is to get rid of shoes and sweat drenched socks. If there is no fresh water, the next best thing that implores my mind is the thought of a stroll on the moist soothing turf and blades of fresh green grass. And then I am possessed as I lie on the grassy stretch staring at the endless expanse of the bright blue sky. Under a lively invigorating sun, the heavenly feeling or sensation, the state of a trance or a spell that binds, is overwhelming.

While the craving is at its peak and almost assumes nostalgic proportions, the spring sets in once again. The sun was moderate and clouds flirtatious. On a lazy Sunday morning, I felt enticed to walk barefooted in my lawn and later in the park. Amidst all this buzz and chaos that dominates life, I lied down and looked at the sky. Before too long, still stretched, I found myself seeking respite getting engrossed in the wonderful and intriguing leaves of the book that I was holding.

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