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Archive for May, 2011

Thousands of years of human evolution has failed to quench the insatiable thirst of man for a man’s blood. Just like striving for power, is killing and annihilation a basic human instinct? We have learned and groomed and polished ourselves and become civilized. But civilization has taught us one art to perfection. Beyond a shadow of doubt, we have learned and mastered to kill and annihilate with sophistication. 

We are proud to build immense data & information warehouses. And what do we gather? A bare ironic fact. Our immense knowledge, history, experience and learnings have done absolutely nothing to alter the beastly seeds of greed, lust and power ingrained in our genes. Everything pales in the face of this bare truth.

I don’t know if Jagjit’s ghazal has any co-relation to the ramblings and makes any sense here but I felt like embedding it in the same post.

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Caught with my pants down?

Many accomplished singers owe their success to the known phenomenon of ‘Bathroom singing’. Its not that the place mentioned herein is equipped with some cutting edge instruments and designed to extract the best pitch out of your vocal cords. Rather, it’s the sheer privacy and the confined isolated environment that ignites your desire and triggers the stimulus to build raw confidence during the preliminary solitary trials.

Again ‘bathroom’ affords an ideal playground or the kindergarten that induces an urge and then nurtures some of our earliest pursuits with regards to the smoking adopted during the carefree adolescent days. Now that’s where you drifted and plunged into that habit. Right?

While the former is more innocent and a personal affair, the latter is often mischievous and comes with a twist to relish the taste of a ‘forbidden fruit’ only to be savoured with your buddies and pals at all the appropriate forums like the campus, café, lounge or simply a ‘tharra’. Needless to point out, there is more to the whole deal that partly includes invoking required precautions and experiencing such fun together only when the atmosphere is deemed fit.

When ‘Bathroom singing’ is a commonplace term and ‘Bathroom smoking’ a known reality, it is absurd to realize that someone needs to coin a term ‘Bathroom reading’ for I can’t be the sole offender with the tendency to indulge in such an inhibition.

Whereas it has been conveniently settled in one of the ilogs that the art of multitasking transcends through the centuries to the days of Leonardo Da Vinci and Mona Lisa, my personal history of the act traces itself back a little later and stretches itself to the last decades of the last century.

The earliest known facts comprise reading of suspense-thrilled works by Ishtiaq Ahmed, Famous Five and Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton. Evidence of more profound ‘bathroom reading’ grew as the quantum of assigned homework bundled or as the examinations drew closer. Instances of such occurrences increased as the pastime developed into a habit. Manto, Shafiq –ur – Rehman and Pitras paved way for Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen. Naseem Hijazi somehow always resulted in serious bouts of constipation.

As life turned mechanical and demanding, hardly leaving any slots to pursue personal endeavours, proportion of the trapped reading within the four confined walls accentuated. In other words, the pleasure or leisure became more of a necessity. The reading stuff would now vary extensively from anything like a lame leaf of newspaper, a flamboyant business report, a solemn and stringent specification code, magazines like Aurora or Economist to exciting works produced by the likes of Jackie Collins or some great scribbling about the adventures of Isobel Shaw. Thus I always mixed business with pleasure but how my poor stomach would cope with such a huge chunk and large variety of content is entirely a different consideration.

The mix became progressively richer. My fondness for reading aided by typical and conducive environment helped me grab some understanding of the ancient brotherhoods and complexities associated with interpretation of masterpieces of art and convolutions involved in deciphering ancient codes as brought out by Dan Brown. It made me digest intricacies of life, love, destiny and fortune as explained by Paulo Coehlo. Thanks to the reading addiction and equally to my bathroom, I could squeeze something out of the subtle humour and deftly laid absorbing story lines by John Grisham. The arid management theories put forth by Jack Welch and Stephen Covey felt so much lighter and softer_and I confess to have gone through most of the confessions of an economic hit man in_ the secrecy of my washroom.

As the addiction grows, so does the necessity for multitasking. While I have been able to keep such weird desires in check and at bay that takes all the willpower and strength of character when at work or a public place, something needs to be done to respond to that rousing need and addiction with some fidgeting. Well that’s exactly when the cell phone comes in so handy; The best and most personal moments to respond to a text, forward a nasty joke or sms, surf on the web (on a high tide while comfortably seated ‘there’), update your status on FB or something as innocent as composing the latest blog post.

Time is too precious a resource and that’s why we should make the most of it. With mounting work pressures and intimidating targets I feel a strong urge to carry my laptop along each time. So far I have been able to negotiate and curb the temptation but who knows for how long?

(It was originally scribbled and posted on August 2, 2008. Since then the reading has intensified causing the mix to further enrich and diversify.)

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A sarcasm laced account by Mrs. Delirium

With OBL safely dead and the world a better place to live in, we can safely resume our friendly relations with Uncle Sam.  The place was well not that near to Islamabad and no threat to our nuclear assets. And even if they did breach our sovereignty, they were acting in line with their policy on terrorism and since we are the front line estate against terrorism, well they trusted us to understand. And of course we do! So if the place did happen to be where it was, they couldn’t do much about it, could they? With the ISI having strong links with the Taliban, it is perfectly understandable that they could not trust them.

Summarizing the whole episode, it would not be a bad idea if Uncle Sam were to adopt us altogether. We have behaved like the infant terrible up till now, but if we were to be adopted as its 52nd state. The only difference would be publicly declaring it. No? Like an extramarital affair seeing the light of the altar.

Our army has been wrongly accused of acting as their mercenaries, but once declared, it would be perfectly natural for them to safeguard the honour of their country. Unlimited benefits would entail of course.

1.     Firstly IMF would be history. And our credit ratings would improve. Instead of us going to them, they would be falling over themselves to give us their loans.

  1. Energy, unemployment, lawlessness would be tackled with
  2. We would not have to give up our nuclear programme. It would be a strategic asset rather than a liability. With their (ours) nuclear installations in the region, they can keep China and Iran better at bay.
  3. For professionals and intellectuals, it would be a boon. Our pay_scales and social security would improve. Unemployment would increase regrettably (who would want to work if they are being paid unemployment fund?)
  4. And the best part part is that WE WONT NEED A VISA to go to the land of opportunities.  But knowing Amreekans, they would surely contrive a way out of this. & our Afghan brethren would go crazy getting our Identity cards (those who haven’t already).
  5. For the other side the deal would be far from futile. Instead of spending billions on outsourcing, they would be providing job opportunities to their own, instead of Indians. This would decrease foreign spending and save foreign exchange for them.
  6. They would not have to spend any money on us in the name of Aid and give explanations to skeptic lawmakers about us. It would all be going to the building of their own country.

This alliance is so much more strategic in so many ways and so convenient for both sides. We would not have to pretend to our respective people our actions and they don’t have to ‘pressurize’ us to do any more or less.

 Wonder when the goons at Pentagon realize this.

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What excites a human mind is challenge and what intrigues it is what is unknown. In the quest of discovery and accomplishment, it learns quickly and explores and unravels layer after layer progressively adding to the cumulative treasures and wealth of discovery.

Accomplishment (sometimes) originates satisfaction and complacency transforming the extraordinary into just ordinary; The thankless human nature thus listlessly relegates it to an object or collection what has been the exclusivity we have been eagerly pursuing or marveling at all along.

As the philosophers and scientists believe, what distinguishes us from the animals is the fact that we can think logically and process the information to reach a logical decision or conclusion. We have the ability and power to judge between good and bad, virtue and sin, nobility and evilness, black and white; Thoughts that keep germinating within the intertwining and inseparable strands of good and evil that co-exist in our souls. In a nutshell, we can safely claim it is the reason and human brain that makes all the difference. Yet as I was reading somewhere, not surprisingly Einstein is stated to be the person known to have utilized most of his brain ever, but surprisingly the proportion of the human brain that even he was able to make use of was a mere 3% or thereabouts. So much for the power and potential of a human brain.

Logic is thus supreme and the principal driving force. But is it so?

Lets glance at the bigger or holistic practical picture evolving on the larger canvas of life. The ironies and ludicrous reasoning dominating the decision making across various spheres of life that drown all logic are evident even without so much as blinking your eyes.

With all that rampant injustice oblivious to all logic and sense, makes me sometimes wish life were a logical puzzle_one like suduko. Insensitive but fair, logical and definite. Having specific answers and solutions with a clear distinction between the wrong and the right. Where one only gets as far as one applies, determines and executes. The only determinants of success and achievement being intelligence, common sense, rationality and determination. Where there are no favours, no short cuts or ladders, no free rides and no leg pulling. No protective or impermeable heavens of mediocrity barring all excellence and merit thriving on the golden principle of mutual respect ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’. Thank you very much!    

Perhaps it all sounds ideal, crude, wishful, cynical and individualistic. But if collectivism is all about earning favours and privileges for a few chosen ones at the cost of exploitation of ordinary mortals then what good is it!?

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In contrast to one of those momentous narrations & ostentatious bragging about scaling some monumental peaks or heights that go on endlessly, this is a recount of one of my recent preposterous misadventures. It was the last day of our sojourn at one of the newly established cosy hotels in Donga Gali during last August.

I woke up early in the morning only to find a chilly breeze and drizzle greet all of us. Unfortunately, no one was interested to saunter by. The atmosphere was too tempting enticing me to set off for the enchanting world stood waiting to be explored with all its besotting charm. Soon, I took the turn and started to climb the metalled ascent along the drive that runs through the historical buildings and hotels built in stone masonry and the vacation cottages with gaily coloured tin roofs and gables.

Along the highway from where the trek originates

Mushkpuri hotel; One of the oldest nestled in the hills

The mist was lowering veiling the breathtaking landscape in mild rain gradually. I continued to walk along the steep grade as the rain picked up.

Along the drive- One of the many views I found mesmerising

After a few minutes I approached the end of the paved lane marking the beginning of the thick forest. It had started to rain hard by then. But the mud track that lay before me bisecting the dense calm green was too irresistible. It was all unplanned and all I was carrying was my camera and cell phone- No backpack – No rain coat ; But as soon as I inhaled the moist heavy breeze laden with intoxicating scent of pines, I knew it was unstoppable. 

The ever gratifying encyclopedia courtesy Forest Department

Just in case you are inclined to hire the asses

As drawn by some invisible force, taking larger strides, I walked towards Lalazar and Mushkpuri top. Strolling along the face of the hill, looking down along the shelving dense green slopes covered with tall pines, for a short distance, I could make the diminishing signs of the meandering highway far below. Soon the trek disappeared in the dense jungle where I encountered all sorts of protesting voices, ranging from insects to monkeys, evoked by my unexpected foreign presence. 

Was I wandering in a fairyland?

 

It was a strange strand of intertwining and inseparable emotions, I was subjected to, being lost as a tiny speck in this wide expanse of wilderness. To be honest, I was sweating in rain and chill owing more to excitement and fear than exertion. But in the end the curiosity that had once killed the cat got the better of me and I continued. 

Once you start there is no looking back

 There was a huge log of a thick tree that fell across the narrow trek. Only way to cross the barrier was to climb and jump over the thick trunk. Having hiked for half an hour or so, there was a diversion and a sign reading Lalazar pointing towards a steep ascent. The grassy layers were subsiding making the steep trek muddy and harder to climb. Slithering, I tumbled upon one of the slopes and rolled on for quite a while discovering only much to my dumbness having recovered my senses moments later that the dearest wifey’s camera was all smeared in mud_ Lens, view finder, batteries compartment and all (how I went through the trial and painstaking process of detailed sapping interrogation is an adventure saved for another day) and its batteries gone and lost. The pair of jeans I was clad in was all daubed in mud as well and so was my sweatshirt. Not to worry about the joggers as those were already drenched and soaked.

In a shroud of haze

 

A drape of mist or green?

I moved on. My biggest regret and worry being, I would no longer be able to take photographs. But we all know, life can be so unkind at times. Nothing more eventful took place during the rest of the climb.

 On my return, I was consciously aware that it was cold and I was drenched and getting late. I hurried down the hill and jogging wherever possible. The last scare came from the barking stray dogs as soon as I stepped into the civilization again. But perhaps they soon realized that I was as harmless and astray as their wretched souls and they decided against it when I came to a complete halt.  

 I took a sigh of relief as I approached the hotel. But the shopkeepers looked at me with gaping mouths and bewildered eyes when I told them that I was just back from Mushkpuri. That didn’t count much. But what really counted was that I made it before the breakfast buffet was over and hungry as I was, I had the opportunity to unleash myself and devour all the food laid on the tables.

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Technology takes its toll!

The means of communication are becoming unbelievably fast and ubiquitous. Bright side is you are connected to the world literally through your finger tips having instantaneous global access. Flip side being you are accessible anywhere- anytime. Your life, your personality, your moments are being shared. The privacy is being invaded.

Am I a multitasker, workahlic or a cyber addict?

Is it an intrusion or a convenience?  Do you gain or lose?

Think and decide.

 TGIF!

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Osama Bin Laden is dead and the world is celebrating. Why not? The biggest terrorist on the planet and most wanted and spiteful scalp in this Holy Global War Against Terror has been claimed and consigned to where he belonged. That spells an end to a dark era and extinction of all the misery and terrorism from the face of the globe. World abruptly turns into a much safer & peaceful heaven to live in. Congrats!

The condemned soul or his ghost has dissolved into thin air or depth of oceans where it was dumped in much haste. Why? For the reasons best known to the captives but that is perhaps not important and pointless.

What is important is to know that the myth or creation had approached its imminent shelf life. Nothing lasts for ever and every product is launched with an expiry date. As Robert Fisk sagely asserts, following the wave of insurgence and awakening in the Middle East and Arab world, Bin Laden had lost all relevance.

A ghost or a pawn that was created on the global chess board during the American war in Afghanistan by the agencies in the eighties continued to play according to a game plan. The puppet took the centre stage and limelight and entertained the audience world over as long as it was effective and meaningful. Invisible hands kept pulling the strings smartly and the absorbing show and act carried on until the dynamics began to change.  In business terms, the product had completed its total useful life and was on its way to turning obsolete.  

And that’s exactly how we deal with an obsolete object. It is ultimately dumped and gotten rid of upon its expiry. The man who had eluded the entire global intelligentsia laced with endless resources and information tools, equipped with surveillance systems that can penetrate and hunt down a needle or even its shadow or impression miles beneath the crest of the earth, for some unknown reason, took ten years to be traced and killed. But why the hell of all the places in the world in Abbottabad?

If it had to be Pakistan, perhaps it would’ve made some sense had he been dug out of some rocky caves in deserted Baluchistan or tribal belt; Or if he was captured from the stony expanse of Kohistan or even for that matter from the shadow or base of some of sky rocketing peaks in Gilgit or Baltistan. But as the luck would have it, it happened to be a most peaceful, serene, blooming, progressive and developing hill station; And above all home to the Pakistan Military Academy_ the training school of all the under commissioned army officers_ and a cantonment having significant military presence in the form FF and Baluch regimental centers. Is that just a mere coincidence!?

Like the rest of the world, as the fast paced events quickly unfolded, our government and foreign office was completely dumbfounded caught in utter shock and disbelief. For hours there came no official statement and when eventually it was issued, it was highly vague as expected. What is even more notable is that US president, Obama, in his statement specifically congratulated American forces and people without even slightest of mention of Pakistan or its co_operation. What is being regarded as a major diplomatic setback and failure, with a bit of cynicism, can be seen in a different light. Does that allude to a major policy shift on behalf of US in a new paradigm where Pakistan is being conveniently dumped or worse portrayed as a villain in the game? I sincerely hope not!

As one of my respected and wise friend most aptly puts it

“After successful screening for ten years internationally, the curtains on the greatest show on the earth “The Phantom of the Osama” have been drawn. The world waits with abated breaths for the next big international block buster. The hunt for the next big Charlton underway all over the Muslim world”  

Isn’t it so true and sums it all up so befittingly?

Whatever happened, we should be pleased about Osama’s elimination as it terminated and permanently closed a bleak and deplorable chapter from the books of history. But wait a moment. What did the Saddam’s extermination lead Iraq into? If I think upon the similar lines, is that what is apparently visible just a twist in the fairy tale, a sinister beginning or a tip of the ice berg?

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