Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Awesome Books I Read in 2013

It is no surprise that every year some awe-inspiring author grants us a sneak peak into their brilliant imagination. Like other years, 2013 was no different. Although the list of books I read was quite short, here’s a list of the five best books I read in 2013.

NOTE: BOOKS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN RELEASED IN 2013

#5: ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown

Image
                               Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’

Synopsis: In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces …Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust …before the world is irrevocably altered.

 

#4 ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ by Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)
Image
After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.

 
#3 Tunnel Vision by Shandana Minhas
Image
Ayesha Siddiqui, 31, meets an accident and slips into a coma. She floats outside her body and learns surprising truths about the family and friends. This story provides an insight into the lives of women and men, in 21st century Pakistan.
 
#2 ‘How It Happened’ by Shazaf Fatima Haider
Image
Dadi, the imperious matriarch of the Bandian family in Karachi, swears by the virtues of arranged marriage. All her ancestors including a dentally and optically challenged aunt have been perfectly well-served by such arrangements. But her grandchildren are harder to please. Haroon, the apple of her eye, has to suffer half a dozen candidates until he finds the perfect Shia-Syed girl of his dreams. But it is Zeba, his sister, who has the tougher time, as she is accosted by a bevy of suitors, including a potbellied cousin and a banker who reeks of sesame oil. Told by the witty, hawk-eyed Saleha, the precocious youngest sibling, this is a romantic, amusing and utterly delightful story about how marriages are made and unmade—not in heaven, but in the drawing room and over the phone.
 
#1 ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ by Khaled Hosseini
Image
 
And The Mountains Echoed is set in Afghanistan, in 1952, where Abdullah and his sister reside with their father and foster mother. They seem to have a raw deal in terms of finances, as their father is constantly on a job hunt to make ends meet. One day, their father decided to shift from the small village where they were staying, to Kabul. Abdullah s father tries to prevent Abdullah from coming along, but is unable to do so, due to his son s persistent temperament. Abdullah is extremely fond of his sister, and would do anything to keep her happy. The two siblings are inseparable, and sleep together on their cot with their heads touching. However, the two don t seem to have a clue about the events that are about to take place when they journey from Kabul to other cities and continents. This insignificant journey made by the family dares to alter the course of their lives and those of hundreds of others, through the next 60 years. And The Mountains Echoed revolves around the relationships among family members, which are accompanied with honour and sacrifice for one another. This book also delves into the fact that people are often left dumbstruck by the actions of those who matter the most to them. It is explained to the readers that the decisions made by them can resonate through several generations.
Advertisements

Life of Pakistan

I came into being on the fourteenth of August in the year 1947. My birth was the result of irrevocable sacrifices of many, and a gift to the Muslims of the world, especially those of the subcontinent. The day I came into being, people of all caste, creed and religion had space to practice what they wished. I was a blessing in disguise for everyone.

Growing up was difficult, for I didn’t have many resources. I had to work hard from the very beginning, starting from scratch, building up my defense, trade and infrastructure. Then there were those occasional squabbles with my neighbor, India, which left my already frail body wrenched and exhausted. Nonetheless, I carried on, owing to do it for my father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and for my children – the future.

My life changed when Muhammad Ayub Khan came into power. He took me into his care, and provided for me. Our relationship was a long one –it lasted seven years. In those years, however, my trade flourished, relations with neighbours improved and most importantly, I became social. People began to recognize me and I was invited to important conferences and meetings. For the first time since 1947, I felt truly accepted. However, our end was a sad one. Jealous eyes, poor decisions and power-hunters eventually tore us apart.

I adopted a liberal stance in 1971, influenced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was, at that time and even today, much loved by all. He opened wine houses and casinos to increase the profit generated from tourism, and I obliged. It was also during his reign, that my biggest defense asset was set into motion: nuclear power. I was now able to ward of threats with one of my own.

I frequently began to fall ill, and in 1971, one of my arms was amputated. Despite the fact that I had just lost an integral body part, I felt relieved. It had never been much like the rest of me, and once it was removed, my body felt more wholesome and healthy. I could focus more on tasks ahead of me which, needless to say, were plenty. I had to school my friends and family, raise my children and provide them shelter, and these were only one of the few.

The years in between were hard, but I fought through. Here I stand today, sixty-seven years later, celebrating my birthday with a simple cake and a candle. However today, I am not happy.

I fought hard for my children, but today, they have disappointed me. Cutting each other’s throats for the sake of money, begging on the streets out for food, slaving away to other people, they have turned out nothing like I had expected. They die routinely, and yet, I am helpless. I am weak once again, and unable to break free of this turmoil.
My children have become their own enemies, and I’m afraid, very afraid, that one day, that is how they will perish. My struggle for them will be rendered futile. They will die, destroy their own property, kill their brothers and sisters, and one day, death will come for them.

I scream now to be heard, but the only voice is the echo of my own. The darkness which surrounds me is terrifying, but I hold myself steady and stare on ahead.

There, I see a speck of brightness, waiting to be touched. I look up and praise the Lord. For if it wasn’t for Him, there would never have been I, Pakistan, the Land of the Pure.It is because of Him that I believe in the impossible: a better life for my children.

And it is you, who can make it happen.butter+fly
 

Burka-tastically Entertaining – Hello, Burka Avenger!

Image
The Burka Avenger

When I stationed myself in front of the television at 6:02 pm today, I had a few questions in mind. The biggest question, in fact, the biggest worry, I had was that the Burka-haters so common on the social media ever since the release of the Burka Avenger trailer would be proven correct.

I can proudly say, my fears were unfounded.

The animation was not only entertaining, but educational. While showing off her Ninja-tastic outfit, the Burka Avenger (Jiya – in everyday life) brought up a few important points to light. The issue of educating women and treating them as equals was brought up and dealt with very carefully. The protagonist was snubbed using carefully worded satire.

The burka in the show is nothing like the piece of clothing worn by women in general. It, by no means, looks like a symbol of oppression. Moreover, the fact that Jiya does not sport a Burka in her everyday life just emphasizes on how wearing the burka is a much more of a choice than a means of oppression.

Moreover, Jiya doesn’t just fight evil. She is a schoolteacher at an institution that provides education to both girls and boys.

While the liberals’ ego might be hurt by watching their national superhero clad in a burka, I’d say it gives the whole thing a more local feel. Dressing her up in anything otherwise would have made the show difficult to relate to.

All in all, it is a good concept; one which may play an important role in moulding the mindset of our younger generation. It has raised an important issue in its very first episode, and I look forward to the upcoming ones.

Lastly, Kudos to Haroon Rashid for this brilliant innovation – and for giving Pakistanis a superhero of their own.

PTI’s Car Rally at Seaview: false hopes?

The car rally at Seaview today was the first PTI rally I’ve ever attended. Being an avid PTI supporter, mind you, most of my support was limited to my facebook profile, blog and facebook profile. Today, despite Imran Khan’s absence, I decided to attend the car rally. 

While I adorned myself in a green and white kurta shalwar -depicting Pakistani flag, of course,- my brain repeated the slogan ‘Ek tsunami, Ek toofan, Imran Khan Imran Khan.’ What I expected of this rally was obviously not anything like those at Mazar e Quaid and Minar-i-Pakistan. However, I did expect it to be a fraction of those, especially since all the other parties claim that most of Khan’s support resides in the ‘burger’ areas of Defence and Clifton. 

Was I right? No. Was I close? Ha. No. This car rally consisted of a little more than twenty cars that assembled at Seaview and proceeded to Salt and Pepper Village, before turning back and going to Teen Talwar. 

The question which arises here, is that is Khan’s support really that weak as shown by the rally today? I suppose not. Undoubtedly most of Khan’s support comes from underage youth, but the fact that less than 1% of those supporters came to the rally is disheartening. 

I would like to point out here that despite closely following all PTI and Imran Khan updates, I found out about this rally through a relative. I conveyed the message to a few of my friends and my facebook friend’s list through a status update, but most of them didn’t pay much heed. In the end, I reached two conclusions:

1. PTI should have promoted this rally better. Moreover, it should have been organized better. The few cars attending the rally were lost between the traffic of cars coming to Seaview. Funnily enough, the main Seaview road had the least traffic I’ve ever seen there on a Sunday evening, including visitors and participants of the rally both. 

2. Majority of PTI’s supporters are drawing room supporters. They will tell others to support PTI, will list off the advantages off their fingers as if they were talking about their favourite food and will stand up for Imran Khan every time someone supports PPP or PML-N. However, when it comes to actually supporting the cause and coming out on the roads, they would prefer to sit at home and watch it on television. 

This makes me wonder whether my vote for PTI is going to go to waste. Are there enough voters out there to bring PTI to power? Are there enough voters who want change? Or are we doomed for another five years?

Educate Yourself: How to Prevent Assaults.

Image

Disclaimer: THE TEXT BELOW IS NOT MY OWN. I CAME ACROSS IT ON FACEBOOK, AND AM SHARING IT SO THAT MORE AND MORE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT TO DO IF FACED BY SUCH A SCENARIO. SHARE IT WITH ALL THE WOMEN TO HELP THEM GET AWAY UNHARMED IN THESE DANGEROUS TIMES.

It seems that alot of attackers use some tactic to get away with violence. Not many people know how to take care of themselves when faced with such a situation. Everyone should read this especially each n every girl in this world.

 

A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:

1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle.
They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.

3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.

5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.

6] Number three is public restrooms.

7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.

8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged
because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.

9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas,or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.

POINTS THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER:

1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk:
can’t believe it is so cold out here, we’re in for a bad winter. Now that you’ve seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh – HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin
and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a
particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.

FINALLY, PLEASE REMEMBER THESE AS WELL!

I know you are smart enough to know these pointers but there will be some, where you will go “hmm I must remember that” After reading, forward it to someone you care about, never hurts to be careful in this crazy world we live in.

1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans : if a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you…. chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping,eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS! The
predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side,put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS , LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or
parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be
hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the
passenger side floor, and in the back seat. ( DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB) .

b. If you! u are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c. Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

With Apologies to Mr. Jinnah: I Let Pakistan Crumble in Front of Me

Image
Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Father of the Nation

On the fourteenth of August in 1947, you, Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah finally gave the Muslims (and other minorities) what they had been struggling for: a new nation to freely practice their faith. Now, almost sixty-six years later, Pakistan is anything but.

Everyday, innocent Christians are blamed, and given the most outrageous punishments for the most petty crimes. Everyday Shias are targeted for practising a slightly different faith. Everyday the sons of influential people are let loose because of their heritage. Pakistan was supposed to be a peaceful land, the land of pure as the name says, or the place where no person would ever feel unsafe no matter what their religion, caste or creed. I say now, and I’m terribly apologetic to Mr. Jinnah, that I have failed you. You made a state for my family and I and we gave you nothing in return.

I am sorry Mr. Jinnah, but I was not able to sustain the land you provided us Muslims. I let your sacrifice for us go in vain, for if we were targeted before in India, we are targeted multifold today.

I am sorry Mr. Jinnah, but I did not educate myself. I had the resources to, but I let it all go to waste. I did not stop for a minute to think about that child who was craving education, but did not have the means. I had my parents’ money, and that was enough for me. I am sorry I did not try to learn more about my country, it’s heritage, and your struggles to give us my beautiful motherland.

I’m sorry Mr. Jinnah. I sat in my home and shook my head, but I did not get up and stop them. I saw the monsters taking over my country, and I sat in front of the television with popcorn. I foresaw how this was going to end, but I refused to care.

I’m sorry Mr. Jinnah, for I was unable to protect the females in my country. I could not provide them the protection you promised. For you see, there was a more ravenous creature inside me.

I’m sorry Mr. Jinnah, I knew this would happen if I brought a criminal to power. I was greedy, and I voted for him. He kept us all well fed during his tenure, and we never felt the hunger of the poor.

I’m sorry Mr. Jinnah, for coming into government for the money, and not for the people. I came here to enjoy, not to serve. I’m sorry to have let you down.

I’m sorry Mr. Jinnah, but I stood aside and watched them take apart Pakistan. I supported them, offered them my shoulder, too. I should have not. I should have thought about my citizens. I should have thought about your sacrifice; I did not.

I was selfish yesterday, I am selfish today and that is how I thrive. But the time has come for this government to go, and I am afraid my role in this country will no more be important. I’m apologizing Mr. Jinnah, deeply, sincerely. I let Pakistan crumble in front of me, but I did not do anything about it.

Now, as the elections come near, I am given another chance. I can choose to re-elect the same government and eat off people’s taxes for the next five years. Or I can elect a reasonable, sincere leader and give the people of Pakistan what they really deserve.

But, Mr. Jinnah, forgive me once more for I am just a human. I have not learnt to place others’ needs before me, I do not know if I can start now.

I salute you for doing what no human has done for his people. It saddens me to say that we didn’t deserve it. Once again, I am sorry Mr. Jinnah, for taking your vision of Pakistan and shredding it until it was no more.

My apologies. But I’m only human.

Why Doesn’t the Government Care?

Over thousands of Pakistanis have been killed in between 2012-13. The government persists, the situation persists. People are still afraid for their lives when they go out. The government is still devouring cash for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Why haven’t we been able to capture these terrorists? Why is it that they can contact the government and the media, but when it comes to tracing their calls the government reaches a dead end? Why is it that the government spends its time and energy in banning a website in light of the blasphemy law, but chooses to ignore the immoral, gut-wrenching acts taking place in front of their very eyes?

Why does that government, which has given us Pakistanis nothing at all except tears and hardships, stand a chance to be re-elected in May? Why, after all this, do Pakistanis not understand that the future of Pakistan is in their hands?

Why is it that while people continue to die from poverty, the elite continue to multiply their resources? All these why’s need an answer. And the answer to this is simple: the government doesn’t care.

You took a criminal out of jail, and placed him at the highest position. You gave him access to the country’s resources, and you gave him the right to control your lives. You knew this would happen the day his government came. After all, what does a child do when you give him his favourite candy?

In a few months, the government will be gone. We hope that it is true, and they know that they will be gone. They continue to celebrate their last few weeks unabashedly, behaving as if they’re leaving behind a healthy and prosperous Pakistan.

But there’s a reason why they are happy. In this five year tenure, they have managed to rip open Pakistan and rattle every bone of her’s. They know that, even once they leave, they have left plenty of their own progeny to continue what they had once started. They know that even if they will not be the masters, they have way too many sources deep down to feel at discomfort with any ruler who may come.

image
Pakistan is officially going through the worst period in it's history

Pakistan is corrupt. Morally, socially, religiously, economically corrupt. It is a fact, and we cannot deny it. Removing the government will do no good, because the corruption has slithered into the masses and is throbbing in the veins of the general public.

We need money, we embezzle. We want a new car, we go harrass a factory owner to give us a bribe (bhatta). We don’t like other religions, we blame them for committing blaspemy. We don’t like other sects, we kill them. Oh, yes. We Pakistanis have a solution for every problem of ours.  

What we don’t do, is work. What we don’t know is how to rid ourselves of this monstrous being that has settled itself amongst us. Are we ever going to be normal again?

It will not take a change of government. It requires a change of priorities. People are dying, and the government is worried about changing the name of the province Sind to Sindh. Children roam about hungrily on the streets, and they are signing papers to begin the construction of the tallest building.

Where is your humanity? Have you become so corrupt and dissolute that it all simply bounces off you? Can you not understand the pain of a mother holding the dead body of her child, begging you for mercy? Do you not see the hundreds of people deprived of a normal life because they were the victims of terrorism? Do you not know that you’re going to have to face God one day?

President Zardari, I do not care what you do after this tenure ends. But right now, since you’re sitting foolishly on our heads, I plead you to see our stance. Imagine if it was you holding Bilawal’s or Asifa’s dead body. Would you, or would you not want to get hold of their murderers? Would you not try to get justice?

Please stop having these closed-door meetings and making nonsensical decisions. What more must happen for you to appoint the Army to take control of Quetta? You have failed miserably in doing anything for Pakistan. Before going, just give us this one demand of ours.

Or are you, too, against the Hazara’s because they’re Shia? Against Ahmedis because of their belief?

I’m sorry, but you’re officially the worst thing that has happened to Pakistan in these 65 years.

I’m  just glad I believe in karma, and leave the rest to God.