Sunday, August 19, 2012

“EID IN PAKISTAN: Overcoming the love of self!”

“It was probably close to Isha prayers, it would have been 7 or 8 at night. I went in there and I couldn’t believe there were about a 1000 people at the mosque. I thought subhan Allah look at this religion, look at how strong they are! [pause] it was the first night of Ramdan [laughs] ‘Ramdan Muslims’.” Abu bakr shares his feeling about the night he converted Islam.

Sadly! we are slowly losing the entitlement of even being termed as the ‘Ramdan Muslims’. The zeal with which we should look forward to Ramdan has been replaced by the resentment on season, environment and time of year Ramdan has arrived at. Of little that I know about Islam, I know it is not a religion of imposition or force. Well! I think a lot of people know that already, they do practice it for skipping fasts for sure.  Eid has become another day for us on which we can sleep late, have food and send in Eid messages. It’s a gift from God for someone who has kept fasts in the holy month of Ramdan, which is filled with blessings. The excitement with which one should looking forward to this event has been lost with its meaning.

Unfortunately, the importance of Islam in our lives is limited to the extent of being emotional and aggressive when something is being said or done against its preaching. What’s more anguishing is that we, in our routine lives, do so many things that are contrary to the teaching of Islam, some have been declared as ‘haram’ (forbidden). Drugs, interest, dowry, backbiting (more popularly known as gossiping), lying, disobeying elders are just a few things that are so common in our society that they have become acceptable.

This attitude of ours is not confined to religion only, but also our country. Why wouldn’t it be same towards state and religion in Pakistan? Pakistan after all was made in the name of Islam. There is this popular TV commercial playing these days which has the following lines from a patriotic song:

Hum laiye hai toofah sae kashti nikal keh       iss mulk ku rukhna meray bachu sambhal ke
[We have brought the ship out of the thunder      My kids! Please take care of this country]   
And what have the younger generation done about it? They don’t vote, they want to settle abroad, they complain about the system, they look for references to get their jobs done, they don’t even study properly.
Having Ramdan and Independence together in the same month, once again, is a mirror for Pakistani, by large. And it is showing an ugly picture that we have made out of this country and religion for whose independence our forefather fought with integrity and proclaimed it with pride. Where have we taken this country in 65 years? Were we better off being oppressed by the majority? Are we confused by chance or by choice? Neither religion nor state, why are we not sincere to anyone? Is it another conspiracy theory or we are just a lethargic nation? Is being aggressive, patriotic and emotional only on the social media good enough a duty of the literate youth of Pakistan? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jinnah ka Pakistan sae George ka Pakistan taak

Iffi, our 16-year-old American born desi cousin was always questioning his roots. One day when the patriot kid was complaining how his parents had kept him away from his culture, the Pakistani couple instantly decided to send Iffi to Pakistan in summers. We and my aunt live together in a joint family system; so Iffi instantly decided to stay with us. Zain and Iffi are the same age so naturally, Zain was responsible for Iffi’s religio-socio-cultural tour in Pakistan.

After partying till dawn, Zain and Iffi would go to sleep after having sehri. The fast was easy, Zain only got up to offer prayers and recited the holy book half an hour before iftar. Iftar was delicious and the nicotine doze afterwards made it soothing. Zain’s routine to me is pretty usual. She does well at school and her parents are happy with her.

Iffi was a branded gora kid so he instantly became popular among Zain’s friends; who at one end hate American policies for Pakistan but on the other fancy their language, their brands, their life styles and anyone who follows them. Some of them drank occasionally, some had girlfriends/ boyfriends, some, who, religious lived by the Islamic values even refused to socialize with Iffi.

Iffi was probably more confused about his identity now than before. He was neither expecting Saudia nor Malaysia but he, probably like most of us, didn’t know which one to choose over the other. At one dimension he thought Veena was right that she has the right to choose what she wants to do, on another he thought she does represents the ‘Islamic republic of Pakistan’ so that should be her consideration too while deciding what she wants to do, on yet another angle he just couldn’t observe that the preachers of Islam can’t tolerate the minorities settled in Pakistan when Islam lessons equality, justice, mercy. He shared, probably to confuse us too, that:

“It grieves me that whenever I see a group of men in beard wearing shalwar kamiz, terrorists or fundamentalist are the first things that pop into my mind. When actually they have adopted to even adjust their life styles according to the same religion that I follow- that calls for a lot of respect from a fellow Muslim. I don’t know if media is the culprit here or a few rotten eggs but this is wrong by all definitions. I thought coming to Pakistan will change that image, but it didn’t. It also grieves me that when I see a hot chick, if I may say, wearing skinny jeans and a backless shirt; modern and cool are the first impressions I get. That’s not modernity to Islam. I am no one to judge either of the mentioned; the hot chick might be a better Muslim. What is our identity, anyway?”

My uncle answered him that, “We are neither secular nor theocratic but we have lost tolerance for other communities residing with us. And this tug-of-war between the two extremist classes is not only increasing this intolerance, which consequently even turns in violence, but also confusing us more about our identities. You should know that you are a Muslim and a Pakistani, wherever you are, and be loyal to your identity in your own way, not the media’s way or the popular way but your way.”

I don’t know if that helped Iffi, but it did help me. One thing Iffi was happy about before leaving was that he was not an ABCD because he didn’t know his roots but he was an ABCD because desi’s, anywhere are confused, even in their own country. LOVE PAKISTAN!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

4* days in heaven: Day 1

I have reached Abbottabad safe and secure. It’s 1 a.m. and it was indeed a long day. The weather here is as cozy as I was expecting it to be; the sky is as clear as it was 12 years back when me and my friends used to lie down on the water tank tops and stare at the stars for hours; my niece and nephew are cuter than ever and their excitement to see me washed away my tiredness from all the travelling.

The day started with a call-come-alarm by a sales man at 8:30 a.m. I was late for work, 9: 15 a.m. and I was office. The usual pouring of calls started and it was 12 noon already. I had by than planned the production for the next 2 days. With much excitement, I circulated the mail of my chutti, among the concerned, and seconds later I was on my way home.

It’s been six months since I have entered the professional world; IT IS as harsh as they say, but it’s worth the experience and exposure. Our sales force is master of their art and they demand the same from me. It was insane to fulfill that criterion when I joined but now I am getting better at it (or at least I think I am ;p). It is definitely easier now, not only because I am learning but also because I have a very good boss and I have gotten along with a few people at work. The people are very competent, cooperative and helpful. Its fierce competition; if you do well you are highlighted like a candle in a dark night and if you make a blunder that too – fortunately/ unfortunately- spreads like wild fire. Okay! coming back to the point- I am on vacation. To be very honest, I was feeling a little guilty when I left; who will look after my work? I am needed now, but then again when will I not be? When will there be a perfect time to go on a vacation? I don’t know but I am pretty sure that my family will accept me lazy and useless, so the guilt didn’t stay too long.

Cellphone off, laptop packed and placed safely at home. I had burned the boats and was on my way to Abbottabad- slept half the way. The journey was pleasant till Hassan Abdal. By then I had finally convinced my family to hear my melodious voice. As soon as I started singing; the sky changed its colors to rainbow, the grass became greener, flowers started to blossom, birds stopped chirping.. Well, unluckily the only thing that stopped was our car that too after colliding with another one. We were overtaking and the other car was too from the other side. *BOOOM*. The cars kissed, it wasn’t a pleasant one. My dad, at first, parked the car in center of the road and he and my brother got off to see the after effects of it on the vehicles. Our car was bigger and was less affected but the other car had almost almost lost half its right side – the windshield, bumper, bonnet, even the tyre. Seconds after witnessing this, my dad sat in the car and started driving. On this, my brother rushed towards us, opened the door of the moving vehicle and jumped in- he thought we were running away. To his embarrassment, my dad was just parking the car on road side. Me and my siblings had a good laugh at it hours later. After 20 minutes of silent gazing at the cars, the crowd that’d gathered, disappointed to see no fight, started to discuss cheap Bollywood movies. Like C’mon people!! CHEAP, at least have some heart and discuss the classy Bollywood movies only. Like Pakistanis, both the parties admitted their mistake and left at a good note.

In the mean while another car was arranged for us to continue our journey. On reaching our destination city, we stopped by the shell-shop of PSO (Yes! I know the irony) tobuy some biscuits and candies for my nephew. And after that, without waiting a second, we went straight to my sisters. She’d prepared a delicious meal (as she is now and constantly calling for my help as I write this). After dinner my parents left for guest room, leaving us kids behind. We went for a walk after dinner, had coffee to go with the weather, updated each other on our lives, laughed at my brother’s action earlier today, THANKED GOD that we no one was hurt from the accident and that all damage was materialistic and so much more.

It’s 2:00 a.m. now – I am a slow write and a lousy cook. Day 1 ends with this note. For all the people in Lahore- stay hot!

* If someone from work reads my blogs; out of these three and a half days, one was Saturday and one was Sunday- please do the math! And also IT WAS AN EMERGENCY TRIP NOT A FUN-ONE AS IS OBVIOUS.
** This was written on paper and is being posted online later. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On the path of modernization

Welcome to the modern world, where we have advanced and developed with time. Some people think that we have passed the optimum point on the time line and moved in the negative but who cares? Its more cool here. We eat using tons of cutlery; in fact the word cutlery has become synonyms with intermediary between humans and food. Days of eating the way our holy prophet used to eat are long gone. Now, the people who eat food (read rice) using their hand are paindu/ maulvi or backward; in either case they are not modern and thus not liked.

Asking Rs. 5 to buy tobacco is cool but asking back your change of Rs. 5 will make you a laughing stock. It’s just another perk of advancement. Hash, alcohol, weed are okay but what’s not okay is fighting for small amounts of change. Let me clarify here, please don’t compare small amount here with interest; interest is good!

Next, we introduce the concept of dowry*. *Some modern men at back throw confetti while opening a bottle of champagne*. You see, we are modern people, we don’t ask for dowry, you should be smart enough to give us that, so your daughter (who is coming with the dowry) can flaunt in front of our relatives. It’s not only for show-off but she and our son will be able to ride in a car, eat fresh food, and wash clothes easily among so many other things. You see its for her own comfort. On the contrary, Haq mehr is a useless right, only exercisable if a divorce takes place. Modern people don’t talk about it and it’ll lower our status if we waste our energies on figuring out the right amount according to the current time.

Yet another socially acceptable, if not celebrated, concept is to keep our surroundings clean. We will through the wrapper out of our car as soon as we are done eating. We will through trash in front of our neighbor’s house so that the outlook of our house stays clean. When it comes to chewing gums we believe the tastier they are to chew the harder they are to dispose. Spitting it out is the best strategy to get rid of it, if you accidently take it out of mouth than stick it to the nearest spot regardless of the importance of location.
Modern people believe in being on the family functions on time and in the attempt to get there we drive very fast, break traffic laws where possible and keep one hand on the car horn at all times. Cursing is used, where needed. After all, the sooner we get there, the sooner the function will be over and among many other benefits the energy conservation will be done.

And one of the biggest gifts of modernization is back biting, more popularly known as gossiping. Sometimes we don’t even grant our parents- after all everyone should be treated with justice. They are going to the old homes, anyway. Talking of parents; they should manage their financials smartly. What parent’s now-a-days do is that they spent all their money and when we hardly start making a few pennies, they want us to spend it on their medicines rather than on our food.

Ahh! Well, that’s all for now! Will talk more about our modernization some other time again.
* Please don’t give the logic that our Prophet also gave dowry to his daughter(s). Why not? Is there any comparison. I mean seriously?
* The author is also moderns, so please don’t justify yourself by comparison with the author.