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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

With an unwavering commitment to set foot on anything that remotely resembles a mound or a dune, my eccentric quest and pursuit continues. The latest victim happens to be the remains and left over of a structure that once stood tall like a dignified rock. While the British were busy extracting all the jewels and treasures of the ‘golden bird of subcontinent’, they ruthless crushed and reduced the endeavouring rock to pieces. Whatever is left of this mound, it lends its name to the wannabe hill station situated in an endless ocean of plains called ‘Sangla hill’.

Located at some 55 kms from the industrial centre of Faisalabad roughly to its North East, the government has finally realized and developed a park surrounding the so called hill ( more of monument) to conserve the remains. Once approached, despite scorching heat and blazing sun, the temptation got the better of me to climb (read crawl) to the top and take some photographs, just in case, one fine day the hill just disappears from the face of the planet like scores of others that vanished from its neighbourhood leaving it behind as a solitary mark of distinction today.

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The world we are living in has changed and is transforming at a phenomenal pace. If technology has revolutionized one thing over the years that for sure is communication. Gone are the days when voice of masses, a populist movement or uprising could be hushed or silenced by authority and censorship. Liberation of media, advent of internet and social media in particular has changed the rules of the game altogether. If someone has any doubts, please revisit the events of recent upsurge in Tunisia, Egyptand Middle East. What was the dynamic behind the abrupt change in the region that brought an autocratic rule to its knees within days of the suicide of a young university graduate despite all authority and censorship?

Yes. As much as the followers of strong leadership theories (I being one of them) hate to believe, it was the popular campaign and well co-ordinated effort through social media such as Facebook, twitter, youtube and blogsphere that moblized the educated and impassioned youth to the point that rattled the forces of status quo and shook the foundations of the monarchs and military backed regimes in the entire region. In the event of such a deluge, if leadership gets arbitrary and widespread temporarily, is beyond the discussion but more importantly what we have witnessed lately is the real power and potential of a virtual medium and social marketing in achieving objectives of an uprising or an upheaval when it has the potential to connect and resonate with the aspiration of the masses. Grasp over English language or not, a thin or narrowing tip of pyramid constituting a stream of spearheads has shown to represent and influence an exponential base and human resource at the bottom.

What brings me to resort to such an introduction is an excellent article published in the daily ‘The News’ today (June 18th, 2011; Taking social media by storm by Malik Siraj Akbar). It discusses at length about the similar phenomenon that is brewing in the much neglected but largest province of the country i.e Baluchistan. Arguably one of the least developed areas having low population and even lower literacy rate, the most critical and lethal element remains the relevance. There is no denial that Baluchis today find themselves in utter state of deprivation and negligence. Though this galvanization and resentment against the state is not a nascent development, the recent socio economic events and catastrophes have definitely alienated and disenchanted the Baluchs further.

The gruesome reality and mystery regarding the fate of missing persons remains shrouded. How ruthlessly we dealt with a 79 year old Sardar and Baluch icon, Sardar Nawab Akbar Bugti in particular and other political and national figures sharpened the wedge a great deal and intensified the feeling of unflinching hatred against the state. Baluch nationalistic sentiment is gaining momentum and only gets stronger following each clash with the security forces. It has got to the point where they are resorting to target killings and living in the province for a Punjabi or a non native is a potential life threatening risk. The lukewarm and listless response to the earthquake in Baluchistan a couple of years ago further aggravated the economic woes of the people. So much so, the blogsphere and press talked about deliberate flooding of portions of Baluchistan with allegiance of military and police to safeguard the interests of some Sindhi influential landlords during the devastating floods last year.

Poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, unemployment and deprivation remain the chief concerns of the tribal and gallant Baluchs. Mineral rich Balochistan is brimming with resources like natural gas, copper, coal and recently discovered huge reserves of gold. A long stretch of coastal belt runs along the shores of Makran and Gawadar but unfortunately any plans to develop potential goldmine of port of Gawadar have been jeopardized mainly because of the insecurity and partly owing to the cold war and conflicting interests of giants like America and China in the strategically located province.              
          
Isn’t it ironic that a democratic government cant even associate itself with marginalized population ( a mere 5% of the total population) of the largest ( that constitutes 44% of total area of Pakistan) but most backward and sparsely populated province of the country?

Although the history of nationalistic unrest and military intervention and use of force to curb such elements dates as far back as independence, the widening chasm and technological revolution demands a grossly varied approach to the issue. There was much propaganda of an impending economic package for Baluchistan by the prime minister but nothing has materialized so far.

Coming back to the point, there are  a number of blogs and forums that represent Baluch nationalists and promote their extreme agenda and hype on the web. Talking of most popular ‘Baluchistan’ page on Facebook alone, considering the low literacy rate, there is a following of close to 6000 individuals which by any standard or stretch of imagination is substantial. The worsening law and order and security situation doesn’t help. Thanks to social media, well organized, energetic and flambuoyant youth are quick to grab bits of news and information and share and disperse them within the community and cyber space within no time.

If the infested and bleeding wounds of Baluch pride and marginalization are not daubed with serious dialogue, concerted and well organized effort and if what the article reveals about the extent of co-ordination and the activity and commitment of Baluchs to use social media as an alternate platform to counter all censorship, we have a mammoth, ominous and worsening political challenge to tackle at our hands.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=53240&Cat=9&dt=6/18/2011

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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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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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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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An eighty four year old groom weds a seventy six year old bride. This is not a page out of an epic tale weaved by the great Marquez Garcia in another world representing another age but a real show staged in our world of happenings and dramas. 

Unlike Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza (a girl with the doe’s gait), who in order to stay together, for the lack of better option mutually decided to keep that gooddamn coming and going forever_ our present day bride and groom preferred to choose a convenient, reliable and prudent course by deciding to settle for good in their native village near Bhowana instead of an old stinky marine vessel. Times and circumstances do change after all.
While Florentino had to wait for fifty three years seven months and eleven days and nights to espouse the love of his life, the history books are silent on the length and even depth of current affair. However, the groom has confessed of knowing the girl for ages. In cultural context, if that took ten years to seek permission from her seven kids (who in all probability would’ve constituted the bulk of the dowry by now), after she turned into a widow, or more than twenty years by the groom to convince his own seven offsprings_ a period for which he has remained a widower, nevertheless, remains an enigma. Whatever the barriers were, the couple has successfully surmounted them together with their stoicism and sweet will to lay foundations for yet another happy beginning in their lives.

Amidst all that torrent of suicidal strikes and terrorist attacks that mars the country, the seven kids merrily bid farewell to their mom. Let us join the celebrations and wish the married couple the very best for their union!

Here is the link to the story as published by local press

http://tribune.com.pk/story/144696/no-age-limit-on-love/

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I watched this movie a long while ago. It was touching to the core. Overwhelmed I watched it over and again. There is something very unique and subtle about the human feelings, sensations and realizations embedded deep down. The plot is simple yet warm and passionate steeped in sincerity and bonding typical of a human soul.

There is a subdued air of romance and love about the whole theme but this love emanates out of the realization and commitment of the man with the family and the role and responsibility he has taken upon himself. This has more to do with the penance and grief he is suffering from within that induces him to go to every possible extent within his capacity to make amends for the accidental death of a stranger and the unintentional loss he has inflicted upon his family living worlds apart.

Apparently with all his sincerity and prowess, leaving no stone unturned that is humanly possible, he smoothly blends and mingles into their lives and turns things around for them! 

Perhaps it is another depiction and hue amidst a spectrum and rainbow of multitude of shades reflected by the prism of selfless and devoted love.

Each time I listen to the music from the movie, it leaves a lasting impression upon my senses and mind and transports me to another heavenly material-less world. But then this ghazal is immortal!

Lyrics:-

Koyi fariyaad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise
Koyi fariyaad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise
Tune aankhon se koyi baat kahi ho jaise
Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaan baaki baaki hai magar saas ruki ho jaise

Jaanta hoon aapko sahare ki zarurat nahin
Main sirf saath dene aaya hoon

Har mulaakat pe mehsoos yehi hota hai
Har mulaakat pe mehsoos yehi hota hai
Mujhse kuch teri nazar pooch rahi ho jaise

Raah chalte huve aksar yeh ghumaan hota hai
Raah chalte huve aksar yeh ghumaan hota hai
Woh nazar chupke mujhe dekh rahi ho jaise
Woh nazar chupke mujhe dekh rahi ho jaise

Ek lamhe mein simat aaya hai sadiyon ka safar
Ek lamhe mein simat aaya hai sadiyon ka safar
Zindagi tej bahut tej chali ho jaise
Zindagi tej bahut tej chali ho jaise

Is tarah pehron tujhe sochta rehta hoon main
Is tarah pehron tujhe sochta rahta hoon main
Meri har saas tere naam likhi ho jaise
Meri har saas tere naam likhi ho jaise

Koyi fariyaad tere dil mein dabi ho jaise
Tune aankhon se koyi baat kahi ho jaise
Jaagte jaagte ek umr kati ho jaise
Jaan baaki baaki hai magar saas ruki ho jaise

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