Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kysi Azadi?

My name is Miriam Mehdi and I am a Pakistani. As a Pakistani I should be free to roam around in my country, go to the holy place of my religious beliefs to worship - as Quaid promised, breathe in safe environment- the breath of freedom. I should be able to do all that as a Pakistani, not as a Syed or Mirza. But I don’t have any of that. I am often confused as Christian and discriminated, looked down upon and cornered. I am asked not to not carry my ‘ID’ card around because my last name suggests I am Shiite Muslim and well people who suggest this think my life values more than my belief. And at other times I am considered to be Sunni Muslim and am asked not to go to mosques, they fear I won’t return alive. I don’t understand how one can celebrate independence with such disputes over their identity as a Pakistani.
The provincial border lines are darker than ever, the election was an example. The national top priority concerns are terrorism acts across the country (and world if I may add) by groups claiming to be Pakistanis- bombardment at the residence of founder of Pakistan was a signal. Other concerns are separation or nationalization of Baluchistan. Yet another debate in the assembly is whether KPK should be further divided or not. Still the celebrations of Independence Day carry on without any hiccup.
Our flag is stained with blood and in such times you hide it rather than raise it high. Celebrating a black day in memory of the recent killings across the country is a better choice than to stand for anthem in the stink of burned flesh. 
Don’t get me wrong, I love my country I love it very much. But we need to accept our faults and stop pointing fingers around. It is about time we start focusing our energies towards development, entrepreneurship, health and above all sincerity for Pakistan rather than migrating to Australia. The start can be from as simple a task as being punctual and fair. And well sky is the limit of the possibilities there are of what can be done. The transparency is the system is fundamental in removing the strings attached.

I wish to be able to celebrate an Independence day in my lifetime when I can look the flag with my head high and not feel ashamed in front of it. It has given me identity, shelter and a life and I owe a lot to this country. However, I do not meet the criteria to celebrate ‘Azadi’ yet and unfortunately my country doesn’t meet the criteria of being ‘azad’ still. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A graduate's guide to land a job

When applying for jobs, one has to be very careful about the impression management of oneself and one’s institute (this is truer for a fresh graduate). There are no two opinions about the role of interviews and assessments in the hiring process and for the very reason they have been stressed on much by academics. The focus of the write up is, therefore, on other elements of the job seeking process.
Here is a go through of things-to-do and things-not-to-do while sending out job applications and appearing for interviews.

STEP 1- Be focused!
Being focused is by far the most important and most ignored phase while looking for suitable employment. What normally happens is that the job seeker applies at all possible openings he comes across. And upon receiving the interview call(s) he considers whether he really wants to work at that appointment or for that particular organization or not. Not showing up for the interview on time or at all are the consequences of not thinking things through beforehand, which brings a bad name both to the applicant and Alma mater.
In order to avoid such situations one should do a self-assessment. Make a wish list of desired employers/sector, areas of interest and constraints. For example if the aspiration is to work with brands, applying for a job in the development sector is not the best way to go about it. Another important thing is to know constraints like relocation or mobility and communicate them to the employer well in time i.e. during the interview or before the offer is made. A lot of job seekers in their attempt to land a job avoid communicating such constraints to the employer which cause unpleasantness for both the parties later. If you are a strong candidate otherwise, these things hold little importance.

STEP 2- Do your research!
In times like these when the competition is tough, little extra sets you apart. Simple things like observing timings and dress code are expected but having basic information on the operations of the company shows the candidate’s interest in the employer. It’s a good idea to have a question prepared for the employer on the future plans of the company or company’s take on relevant ongoing matter.   

STEP 3- Interviews!
Interview is at the heart of recruitment process. Although different organizations have their own assessment points but the general rule of thumb is honesty, coupled with preparedness, capability and aptitude towards job.

STEP 4- The Result!
A player’s sportsmanship shows when he loses a match, same way a candidate’s personality shows when he responds to a job offer. Sometimes the job seeker has accepted a better offer by the time another recruiter approaches him; here the best way is to thank for their offer and politely excuse them, often it is a good idea to recommend some good candidates. Display of temper and accusation on non-achievement are the worst possible reactions which also ruin any possible future prospects with employer. 


It is, in most cases, better to wait for a more suitable job offer than to keep on switching jobs until you get the desired offer. Several companies over a short span of time look bad on the resume. Also the high switching rate and not sticking with companies for long leave a bad legacy for the alumnus.

Monday, April 1, 2013

MM Alam- we are sorry!

M.M Alam passed away in March 2013? Hadn’t he passed many years ago? I did know that he was a war hero. Perhaps I would have never known of him hadn’t the famous road of Lahore, on which all the posh and famous eateries are located, been named after him. I don’t even know what M.M Alam’s full name was? Or why is he our hero? Which war? The feeling of remorse kept growing as I pondered upon it.

So, I sat down and looked up his name on the internet. Our media is too busy hosting topics that improve the ratings that they conveniently trimmed the air time and newspaper space this news required. Of the obituaries and other material I found; I was impressed, astonished and most strongly of all, ashamed.

Mr. Muhammad Mahmood Alam, sitara-e-jurat’, was North American Aviation F-86 Sabre flying ace. Mr. Alam, also known as the ‘little dragon’, gunned down five Indian fighter jets in 55 seconds in Indo-Pak war of 1965- world record unbeaten till date. He was a Bengali Pakistani who was loyal to Islamic Republic of Pakistan even after 1971. Eldest of 11 siblings, Mr. Alam never married because his tough life didn’t allow him the luxury of marriage. He worked for the future and stable lives of his brothers and sisters at the stake of his own. He did the same for his country; such valor and passion is evident from his untarnished professional and altruistic retired life. It’s a shame that the ones he made all the sacrifices for abandoned him; far from the iconic treatment he deserved. He took an early retirement because he liked to walk with his head high. Although his income was close to negligible, still he refused to receive his well-earned pension. He joined the Afghan Mujahideen in fighting the Soviet. That’s the last it was heard of Mr. Alam until his death in 2013.

As much as I like to think that the new generation, the youth everyone has high hopes from, will make Pakistan a country I would proudly want to live in, I am taken aback when I see youngsters following Ashton Kutcher and Angelina Jolie rather than Abdul Sattar Edhi. Or when I see how they know who won the ‘teens choice for best actor’ rather than finding pride in the Dr. Abdus Salam’s achievement of Nobel Prize and trying to build on it. There are still many living legends who have done applaudable work and are more than willing to guide the youngster. We need to do a self-analysis as a nation and get out of this imaginary status-conscious-mind-set and rearrange our priorities. It is dire need of time that we do so before it is too late.     

Monday, February 18, 2013

25 and indifferent!

Today is my birthday and I have turned 25. I have become more indifferent and blind to what’s happening around me. I am comfortable in my cozy bed knowing I am safe. All these killings and violence are just numbers. I don’t watch TV because I don’t want to get upset. The most disturbed I get is when my breakfast is not served on time. The most tense I get is when I am waiting for my visa for the vacation in Paris. I don’t read newspaper because there is chance the news would ruin my mood. The most I do is copying a Facebook status which says “I strongly condemn sectarian killings”. Something that means to me is wearing tags. I would attend 2 parties every month on an average where as a social welfare I would ask people to pray for Pakistan.

I wasn’t like this. I used to go light the candle in hope for Pakistan. Is Pakistan taking its revenge for what I have done to it? I was actually planning on voting this year. I had finally realized that I have no right to comment on the politics in Pakistan if I am not part of the election. But that’s the most I have decided to do for Pakistan. Although it’s my right but I would really be doing this country a favor. After all, what has this country done for me? Given me identity? I don’t want this identity for which I have to be checked in detail at the airports and be called names by the self-secure whites. I haven’t done anything to deserve this. But have I done anything to rectify what our past generations have done to this country? Should I? Can I? All I can do is take my aggression out using the social media, sitting in front lawn, sipping coffee.

Where do people like Aisam-ul-Haq, Arfa Karim, Jansher Khan, Shahid Afridi, Imran Khan, Omer Nawazish, Dr. Abussalam come from? These people tried. There are many more, less famous people and groups who are doing constructive work like The Responsible Citizen (Zimedar Shehri), The Message Welfare Trust (Street Art Competition), who try. I like most try and criticize the politicians and hope that a better political party will be elected for the next term which will fix everything in this country without me having to change or move out of my comfort zone. I know everything about what an elected official should do but I know nothing about what a citizen is supposed to do. For a citizen it is okay to bribe the traffic warden but for a government official it is corrupt to take kickbacks to do routine work. For a citizen it is okay to ask a reference to land a job but for an elected official it is a sin to appoint a reference. This makes me think, if these citizen were given a chance to run the country, would our country be any different?

I can do more than talking big on facebook. I can commit to myself to abide by traffic laws, if I fail to do so I will pay the fine. I will throw the trash in dustbins and not the canal. I will not cheat in my tests; I will fail with integrity if I have not studied. I will try to make donations/ volunteer to help people run social welfare projects which help the society. I will try not to be indifferent. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013


As much as I love my people and my country I sometimes fail to understand why we do something we shouldn’t. Something like telling a beggar to *&#(#)@!. Now, If you don’t want to give him the money don’t! You do not have the right to judge and insult him. If he was annoying you by rubbing his nose on your car window and pointing a finger towards sky and saying ‘Allah k name pae dae dae’ (Please donate in name of God), that’s why they are called beggars. Here, Ignore! The same ignorance we have adopted towards the injustices happening around us. If you have to say something, say something like ‘Allah hum dono ku dae’ (May God give us both). Beggars are smart; they won’t waste any more time on you.

Why is the whole country in such a rush on the streets? We are always late for birthdays, parties and not to be mention weddings. If the phattak (railway crossing) is closed, you will only be able to cross once the train has passed. Remember! Closing of rail track gates doesn’t mean that the two way road has suddenly become one way and all the cars on the other side of the road have taken an imaginary super cool flyover. Stopping your car, after cutting your lane and moving to the coming vehicle lane, in front of phattak gates is not going to:
  • Get you to your destination any faster. In fact, it will only cause delay.
  • Get you a trophy.
  • Make anyone happy.

It is, however, going to block the road which will be followed by a lot of cursing, blaming and more cursing. On the same note, why do we have to fight with the warden if he/she stops us on breaking a traffic law? Through experience I can tell; it’s not personal, he/she is just doing their job.

People judge by the tags you have on. We expect to be respected while we only respect people who drive a four wheeler. Only thing that we ever say to the guard at the school/office/building is ‘let me in’. We want him to greet us but would rarely do so ourselves and even when we do, it is in a mastery tone. I am guilty of judging too. I judge people of being ignorant when they liter.

I am unable to swallow how people can act all so sophisticated and intellectual while not following some basic manners like not littering. It is something tiny but says a lot about us as a society. On a drive some friends were debating how the politicians are ruining the scenic beauty of Lahore by developing/ruining the infrastructure, during which one of them threw a wrapper out of the car. Right in the center of the road, worse was that it was normal for everyone. This is what happens when people focus on getting grades at school rather than education. A kindergartener once handed me a batch which said ‘every litter bit counts’ and I hope she gets its meaning before she sees her elders doing the opposite.  

Why can we not leave pathans alone? Are the other ethnicities in subcontinent jealous of them for not being ever colonized? Khans have ruled the squash world for good twenty-thirty years. Jahangir Khan has to date have an unbeatable world record of 555 consecutive wins.  We should be able to find entertainment in unity, peace and laughter; not by bashing other ethnicities but in small celebrations of happiness.  

Monday, January 28, 2013


Jan end is the perfect time to announce 2013 resolutions as you have seen how the year would be and now you are in a position to say something about it. DON’T FROWN! I tried to justify my procrastination by being funny- it didn’t work. No need to rub it on my face!

Actually I have been craving to write but have been too busy doing things I don’t really like, to not find time for things I actually like. Well, the former are the ones you get paid for. And also for the record I do like 55 percent of my job if not 70. [This statement is the precautionary-legal-statement-disclaimer-thing which is shield for any consequences whatsoever].

Anyhow (pronounced as any-hu), I want to state the resolutions I have for 2013 but even more I want to evaluate 2012. 2012 has not been my best year but it also hasn’t been my worst. I have learned a lot professionally; everything from systems to people. Of course, there is a long way to go but it has been a good start. I have matured [Trust me, I have- you haven’t met the me in 2011 and before]. Here too, I have a long way to go but then again you are young once and what’s the fun in spending it all sensibly and emotionless. I am proud of myself for making one year at an organization. Of course major credit goes to the company I work for but then again a (woo)man is known by the company (s)he keeps. (Credit: Cool colleague)

In 2012, I have put in every effort in not developing my writing skills. [Emphasis: I would want to be good at it]. Good writing, like many other things, comes with practice. I wrote around 15 pieces in 2011 of which I shared 12 on my blog; 2 got published in a leading newspaper’s blogs, one in MSN Arabia and 2 on some less popular websites. I wrote 4 blogs in 2012; didn’t write anything in the last quarter of 2012. For 2013, I need to find time for things that I value like writing, travelling, socializing.

[To reinforce how much the writer sucks at writing, she jumps to another paragraph forgoing cohesion and without using a transition.]

*Curtains roll up with fast short drum beats*

2013 Resolutions
  1. Travel, write and eat. [Start having breakfast AGAIN!]
  2. Turn the myth of work-life balance in reality. [Motivator: Your family will accept you lazy and useless and still pay for your living]
  3. Hang out with friends more often.
  4. Learn some new software.
  5. Be more organized.
  6. Don’t trust people who are 20+, the characteristic of diplomacy develops with age.
  7. Attend workshops, seminars, socialize.
  8. Be satisfied. [Inner peace- watch Kung fu panda for inspiration, twice
The above picture has nothing to do with the writing.