Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Journey Home - Story

"Ammi, it's so scary in the dark. Will Allah watch over us and protect us?"
"Yes, Nazo. Remember what the Maulana Sahib said Allah is always present everywhere, to help his followers and when you need his protection, call out His name. Better still, do what I do."
"What's that Ammi?"
"Well," Jameela said, stroking her daughter's hair," I recite a simple but powerful dua."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Honest Beggar – Honest Outcome

Once upon a time there was a very honest beggar.

One day he came at the gates of a Big Bungalow. The servant came out and said, "Yes, Mr. beggar what do you want.

The beggar answered, "I am a smack addict spent all my money. I am getting this severe urge…Just a bit of charity in the name of God."

"I shall have to take this up with the lady of the house." Said the servant

The servant consulted with the lady of the house and she was a social worker, answered. "Don’t give him money he will surely take drugs like he says, give that good man a Roti (Indian Bread). Only one… And, if possible, from yesterday. He is anyway wasted lot"

Servant, who was secretly in love with his employer, in order to please her sought out a stale Roti, hard as a rock, and handed it to the beggar.

"Here you are, beggar," he said, no longer calling him Mister.
"God bless you with healthy kids," the beggar answered.

Servant closed the massive oaken door, and the beggar went off with the Roti folded in hand. He came to the vacant lot where he spent his days and nights taking drugs. He sat down in the shade of a tree, and began to eat it suddenly he bit into a hard object and felt one of his molars crumble to pieces. Great was his surprise when he picked up, together with the fragments of his molar, a fine ring of gold, pearls and diamonds.

"What luck," he said to himself. "I'll sell it and I'll have money for a long time."

But his honesty immediately prevailed: "No," he added. "If I go to a shop keeper to sell he will take me as robber and give me to police and then rehab or maybe jail, better I'll seek out its owner and return it."

Inside the ring were engraved the initials Big Bungalow’s lady. Great was his joy when he realized it was the very house at which he had been given the Rot containing the ring.

He knocked at the gates.
Servant came and asked him, "What do you want, Mr. Beggar?"
The beggar answered, "I've found this ring inside the loaf of bread you were good enough to give me a while ago."
Servant took the ring and said, "I shall have to take this up with the lady of the house."

He consulted with the lady of the house, and she, happy and fairly singing, exclaimed, "Lucky me! Here we are with the ring I had lost last week, while I was punching the Atta (dough) to make Roti! These are my initials, Big Bungalow’s lady which stand for my being.

After a moment of reflection, she added, "Servant, go and give that beggar another Roti as a prize."

Servant, who was still in love with his employer, in order to please her sought out an Old Roti again, hard as a rock, and handed it to the beggar.

"Here you are, Mr. Beggar."
"God bless you with healthy kids," the beggar answered.

Servant shut the massive gates, and the beggar went off with the Roti under his arm. He came to the vacant lot in which he spent his days and nights taking drugs. He sat down in the shade of a tree and began to eat the Roti. Suddenly he bit into a hard object and felt another of his molars crumble to pieces. Great was his surprise when he picked up, along with the fragments of this his second broken molar, another fine ring of gold, pearls and diamonds.

Once more he noticed the initials Big Bungalow’s lady. Once more he returned the ring and as a reward received a third Hard as a rock Old Roti, in which he found a third ring that he again returned and for which lie obtained, as a reward, a fourth Hard a rock Old Roti, in which ...

From that fortunate day until the unlucky day of his death, the beggar lived happily and without financial problems. He only had to return the ring he found inside the bread every day. Oh yes he lost all his teeth though.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Right to Heaven

Now that I am married I have lot of time to waste… which I am not doing…

I am trying to relearn things before I start preaching to my wife, principal one being Religion. That’s huge crossover for someone to disown her life-long belief and adapt to a new alien credence. I believe in religion, contradictions don’t exist but that’s another story for another blogging day. Anyway I guess the best way is to explain to her is to learn through her premise. That’s where my new favorite comes in

Read an interesting thought provoking passage today which I want to share with you
Matthew 22:
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'
5 "But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

13 "Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

14 "For many are invited, but few are chosen."

This is a passage I've read couple of times now, and I get stuck at verse. 13. Coming from bible I was expecting it to read, “Then the king told the attendants 'Get this man some nice clothing. Buy him a suit and give him a nice tie.’”

It seems many people focus on the "loving" and "merciful" aspect of Christianity, and might say the God of the Old Testament is different in personality than the one in the New Testament. It's interesting to think, though, that there will be many people who "show up to the banquet" in heaven, before God, only to be cast out of His presence because they aren't prepared.

I think there is an important distinction to draw and a glimpse of similarity with Islam sans the language used - it is through the mercy of the king that the man was invited to the wedding in the first place. God's mercy and grace give man an opportunity to approach Him, to seek forgiveness of sin. However, it is still the man's responsibility to be "dressed appropriately" once the party starts. I think so many us today live our life by thinking, "God is loving and merciful. He'll let me into heaven because I'm a nice guy" when the truth is that we need to be a little more prepared than that. Perhaps in the way he wants us to be prepared.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Friend Devan Shauran

I have a friend who must be the sweetest, shyest person in the world. His name is brittle and soft like him (Devan Shauran), his age modestly intermediate (forty). He is rather short and skinny, has a thin moustache and even thinner hair on his head. Since his vision is not perfect, he wears glasses: they are small, round and frame-less.

In order not to be an inconvenience for anyone, he always walks sideways. Instead of saying 'Excuse me', he prefers to glide by one side. If the gap is so narrow that it will not allow him to pass, Devan a.k.a Daddu waits patiently until the obstruction -- be it animate or inanimate, rational or irrational -- moves by itself. Stray dogs and cats panic him, and in order to avoid them he constantly crosses from one side of the road to another.

He speaks with a very thin, subtle voice, so inaudible that it is hard to tell if he is speaking at all. If you ask him to speak up in a loud tone… he will hold his breath for half a minute before he continues on the same pace with bit more strain. He has never interrupted anybody. On the other hand, he can never manage more than two words without somebody interrupting him. This does not seem to irritate him; in fact, he actually appears happy to have been able to utter those two words.

Devan has been married for years. His wife is a thin, choleric, nervous woman who, as well as having an unbearably shrill voice, strong lungs, a finely drawn nose and a viperous tongue suffers from an uncontrollable temper and the personality of a lion tamer. Devan-- you have to wonder how -- has succeeded in producing a child named (by his mother) Aayush. He is tall, blond, intelligent, distrustful, sarcastic and has a fringe. It is not entirely true that he only obeys his mother. However, the two of them have always agreed that Devan has little to offer the world and therefore choose to ignore his scarce and rarely expressed opinions.

Devan is the oldest and the least important employee of a dismal company that exports cloth. It operates out of a very dark building with black-stained wooden floors situated in Zakariya street. The owner as I have seen and been told he has a ferocious moustache, is bald and has a thunderous voice. He is also violent and greedy. My friend Devan goes to work dressed half shirt well tugged in and wooden slippers, wearing a very old pant that shines from age. I don’t know how many cloths he got but to avoid any attention and remark he makes sure he always come back wash his cloths and get into it again before he goes to office next day. His salary is ludicrously low, but he still stays behind in the office every day and works for another three or four hours: the tasks his boss gives him are so huge that he has no chance of accomplishing them within normal hours. Now, just after his Boss cut his salary yet again, his wife has decided that Aayush must not do his secondary studies in a state school. She has chosen to put his name down for a very costly institution. In view of the extortionate outlay this involves, Devan has stopped buying his newspaper and (an even greater sacrifice) The Reader's Digest, his two favourite publications. The last article he managed to read in the Reader's Digest explained how husbands should repress their own overwhelming personality in order to make room for the actualisation of the rest of the family group.

There is, however, one remarkable aspect to Devan: his behaviour as soon as he steps on a bus. Generally, this is what happens:
He requests a ticket and begins to look for his money, slowly. He holds up one hand to ensure that the driver keeps waiting, unsure of what to do. Devan does not hurry. In fact, I would say that the driver's impatience gives him a certain amount of pleasure. Then he pays with the largest possible number of small coins, which he delivers a few at the time, in varying amounts and at irregular intervals. For some reason, this disturbs the driver, who, apart from having to pay attention to other cars, the traffic lights, other passengers getting on or off, and having to drive the bus itself, is forced to perform complicated arithmetic. Devan aggravates the problem by including in his payment a US 10cent which he got long back from someone that he keeps for the purpose and which is invariably returned to him. This way, mistakes are usually made in the accounts and an argument ensues. Then, in a serene but firm manner, Devan begins to defend his rights, employing arguments so contradictory that it is impossible to understand what point he is actually trying to make. Finally, the driver, at the end of the last tether of his sanity and in an act of final resignation, chooses to throw out the coins -- perhaps as a means of repressing his wish to throw out Devan or, indeed, himself.

When winter comes, Devan always travels with the windows wide open. The first to suffer as a result of this is Devan himself: he has developed a chronic cough which aggravates his already aggravated asthma that often forces him to stay awake entire nights. During the summer, he closes his window and will not allow anyone to lower the shade that would protect him from the sun. More than once he has ended up with first-degree burns.

Because of his weak lungs, Devan never smoke and, in fact, he hates smoking. In spite of this, once inside the bus he will take out his age old never smoked long cigarette trying to irritate the already irritated driver to shut no smoking in the bus.

Devan is a tiny, sedentary, squalid person and has never been interested in sports. But come Saturday evening, he switches on his portable radio and turns the volume up full in order to follow the Ranjhi match commentary. Sundays he dedicates to listening to hindi news and tortures the rest of the passengers with the noisy broadcasts.

The back seat is for seven passengers. In spite of his very small size, Devan sits so as to allow room for only five or even four people on the seat. If six are already seated and Devan is standing up, he demands permission, in an indignant and reproachful tone, to sit down -- which he then does, managing to take up an excessive amount of space. To this end, he puts his hands in his pockets so that his elbows will remain firmly embedded in his neighbours' ribs.

Devan's resources are plentiful and diverse.
When he has to travel standing up, he always keeps his bag in a awkward position carefully adjusting his posture so that the lower edge of his bag keep hitting the face or the eyes of those sitting down.

If anyone is reading, they are easy prey for Devan. Watching him or her closely, Devan places his head near the light so as to throw a shadow on the victim's book. Every now and then he withdraws his head as if by chance. The reader will anxiously devour one or two words before Devan moves back into position.

My friend Devan knows the times when the bus will be fully packed. And for those occasions, he makes sure he doesn’t eat he keeps his lunch box half eaten and the rest he eats on the way dropping the curry making it as messy as he could.

If he manages to take the front seat, he never gives it up to anyone. But should he find himself in one of the last rows, the moment he sees a woman with a child in her arms or a weak, elderly person climb on board he immediately stands up and calls very loudly to the front passenger to offer them his seat. Later he usually makes some recriminatory remark against those that kept their seats. His eloquence is always effective, and some mortally ashamed passenger gets off at the next stop. Instantly, Devan takes his place.

My friend Devan gets off the bus in a very good mood. Timidly, he walks home, staying out of the way of anyone he meets. He is not allowed a key, so he has to ring the bell. If anyone is home, they rarely refuse to open the door to him. But if neither his wife nor his son is to be found, Devan sits on the doorstep until someone arrives.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Being Worst Enemy of oneself

I usually don’t speak for everyone, but in this case I will. The phrase that proclaims ‘you are our own worst enemy’ is in fact a solid truth in life for just about everyone. Not many revelations in life could be much clearer or to the point than this one. The reason I suggest that we are the ones sabotaging our own lives is that we tend to make a repetitive mistake every day; We listen to ourselves. It’s only natural to think, but unfortunately our thoughts are often negative, self conscious, egocentric, and irrational emotions that drop us into the very pitfalls we spend most our lives climbing out of and complaining about.

You might have already started disagreeing with me, little Johnny within us always goes the other way. Fine let me talk about myself… I not only complain too often about the problems caused by results I myself initiated, but I often trick myself into blaming outside sources for these problems when in reality the fault ultimately lies within. It’s for this very reason that we shouldn’t buy into our own misguided thoughts all day long without putting the source (us) in perspective. Maybe one day I will make truce with the devil and realize that none of us are perfect and that is just the way it will always be (especially myself).

I hear many speakers say the phrase “listen to your heart… always”. Well I think that listening to your heart is often damning and that “always” word clinging at the end is nothing but gateway to hell. What if my heart is laden with inferiority, full of anxiety, confusion, anger, Jealousy, or even hatred? This is not exactly a valuable list of sound advice to follow in my opinion. That’s why I’m admitting that since my birth and for the remainder of my life, the reason for most of my shortcomings, frustrations, stresses, setbacks, and annoyances are not caused by outside sources trying to tear me down. Nor the responsibility of a giant conspiracy from outside sources out to get me, but rather caused by my real worst enemy……ME!

The basic life sequence comes down to the choices that we make. Life is not fair and it’s no secret, and many people have trials that are astronomically larger than ours. It’s not until you begin taking some level of responsibility that you can wipe out the enemy that lies within.

I often wonder why the hell I end up writing such bullshit which doesn’t have anything to do with the actual thoughts circling my mind… it doesn’t give any picture to anyone what’s happening within the confinement of my decaying brain cell. I guess before one makes truce with the devil he got to make truce with himself. Off late I realized I love my wife much more than I thought I loved her before marriage. Her daily struggle to be accepted is such a pain to bear … oh that’s another story will cover it later.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Again that Writers Block

Have you ever just sat down with pen and paper in hand (although these days its with a laptop) and have totally no idea what to write about? Well, that seems to be happening to me today. I can think of absolutely nothing to say. I got married to a Croatian warrior precisely a week back, got Indian Muslim marriage defined and redefined in these 6 days…came to know of cultures and tradition which no one was aware of apart from the one who popped it. Saw the widest range of Muslim Hijabs and missed both marriage and reception dinner… but still if you ask me… I have nothing to write. Much on the lines of Ghalib it feels like so much has happened that nothing remains relevant.

Some days I have no problem at all. I'll be scratching my week old beard or traveling and all of a sudden I get this great idea for an article; I can sit down and bang that puppy out in just a few minutes…I love those times. Then there are days like today, I sit in front of the computer screen and stare at that annoying, blinking cursor. It just sits there and blinks at me. It's like its taunting me, laughing at me because I have nothing to say. The pressure is unbearable. Blink, Blink,Blink…comeon you brain-dead…Blink Blink Blink

I suppose I could change it to one of those smiley faces or a dinosaur, but then I would have a smiley face or dinosaur blinking at me.

I guess I could probably not stare at the screen; I can watch TV or maybe go to sleep. But how is that going to help me write an article? Blink, Blink. Stupid cursor. This really isn't helping me. I'm so obsessed with this cursor, I can't let my muse come to me and do its muse thing. Knowing my luck, she's staring at the cursor too. Well, if my muse won't come maybe I should start digging my nose or something. No, it will never get that bad. When is there ever a good excuse to dig your nose? Have you ever been so bored that you decide, "Hey, I'm bored, I think I'll just start digging my nose for time being." I don't know about you, but I've never done that. I can see pulling my chair bit back and start digging my nose filled mixture of city pollution but if that Croatian warrior see me doing that probably I will be divorced before I could actually realize I was married. Now digging a nose to get an easy divorce might be a good reason but digging it because you don’t have any ideas to write is not at all a good reason.

So, I'm back to square one, although now my fishes are looking at my direction and blinking at me…!!!God this is spooky… how many times have your fishes looking at you leave alone blinking underwater? I'll tell you...Never. You can't get a fish to blink. Actually, you can't get a fish to do anything. Well, you can get it to shit every five minutes without asking much, but how hard is that. Now, all of a sudden the stupid thing gets it into its head to blink at me. This is getting out of control. First the cursor, now the fish, what's next? Now, the light on the phone is blinking. OK, that's it, I'm done. I guess I just won't write anything today.

I will put a marriage pic of mine… but my warrior is still arranging it in some order and till the whole 700 pictures are arranged I won’t be getting anything.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We are just friends bullshit

The other day I was having a phone conversation with a friend of mine. In the midst of that long call, he said something about a guy whom I met only once and mentally tagged him as a slimy asshole. He mentioned the fact that he believed that as a married guy he was wrong to have so many female friends that he spent time with. My friend feels this asshole might not be doing it just to irritate his wife he might actually have a addictive problem… addicted to making female friends and leading friendships to an unknown territory.

His sentence was not a point in itself; it was part of a wider conversation about what had happened to some of our mutual friends since they left college. The guy that he mentioned was married to someone we both knew but had not kept in touch with since her marriage.

The next day that sentence about the married guy with female friends finds its way into my idle thoughts. The rest of the conversation has long since evaporated but this sentence has managed to linger as if it were embossed and visible above the rest of the now faded words.

Why is it wrong for a married man to have female friends or vice versa? I believe the rule applies both ways. But even though I feel like I understand the reasoning behind the 'rule', I'm not sure I understand the logic.

Okay, so there's the obvious attraction issue. But just because one person is male and the other female that doesn't mean there will be an attraction or does it? And are we then saying that it is wrong to have friendships with people you may at some point find attractive? In fact taking that question one step further, is it wrong to have a friendship with someone you presently find attractive? How practical is this rule in reality? How will you like to know your partner is avoiding that person from opposite sex because she finds him attractive? Will you smell loyalty or breathe jealousy and inferiority.

I'm of the opinion that if I'm in a relationship with someone then I simply would like to trust her... that she will never make such things visible to me. I would prefer remaining ignorant of her attractions.

Understand folks, If they're going to cheat on you then they're going to cheat on you. No amount of rules and barriers or freedom and understanding will prevent that or help address the far more serious underlying issue that must surely be there in the first place. And if they did cheat on you would that be the end? How far can forgiveness go? How broken does something have to be before it simply can't be fixed?

I suppose the question is an age old one. Can men and women really be just friends? I'd like to think so but then again most of the time I don’t think about stuff the way I would like to think.

I think maybe it comes down to how secure you are in your relationship. If you're worried that your partner is at risk of cheating on you then that is a tough place to be. However, perhaps the problem isn't that your partner is about to embark on some secret sleazy relationship, but more the fact that you think they would do so? I hate that guy and his tribe real slimy ones and the good thing my wife also hates that tribe equally if not more… what about you?

Cattle Class

Some people have accused me of being socially irresponsible because at times I prefer not to watch the news on TV or scan the daily newspaper.

I'm not big on watching the news on TV. At times I steer clear of news websites. And I don't get a newspaper, not even the one where some random wannabe sex symbol bares her breasts for all to see on page three.

In short, there are simply times where I try to avoid knowing what's going on in the world. It's not that I don't want to know what's happening, it's just that the more I know, the less I want to know.

Right now if I turn on the TV and the news is dominated by talk of war. Thousands of United States and British troupes are already in strategic positions around the Gulf ready, or so it would seem, to simply sweep into action against the ghost of Saddam Hussein this time trying to hunt Iran, it doesn’t make much of a difference Mr. Obama getting a Nobel peace award. Then Indo-Pak argument on sharing Kashmir booty and lately resurfacing of Naxalite movement. Oh yeah did I also heard about Pakistan declaring war on Taliban. So now Pakistan is against Taliban and India, India against Pakistan and Taliban and Taliban is against everyone.

These top stories almost push another situation into obscurity too. North Korea. I don't know much about this, and again, I don't want to. But it looks like they've been doing their own mini war dance with America, a dance that Japan recently got involved in saying they would attack North Korea if their was evidence that it was planning a missile attack.

And then, instead of the 'and finally' stories where we usually get a nice inside story about who slept with whom in the big bad world of entertainment (Michael Jackson died …so did the news) we get the usual run of the mill news about the economic downturn and some horrible killer flood or earthquake in some place across the world.

Following this there will be a weather report, which given the fact it's time of Global warming mockery you got to forget anything natural.The weather doesn't spell the end of the news though. No, after the world news and the weather we have the local news. This will consist of a collection of stories about regional slaughters, explosion, scams, and some company shedding x thousand jobs.

This bulletin will however still have time for one of those walk, sit on the couch interviews where some big shot enlightened guy will knock the day light off from your already cramped head.

And after all this, what will we do? We'll sit there and watch a reality game show or an episode of Friends or movie re-run. We'll escape into the make believe world of television for a while, until the next new bulletin, at which point we'll probably say "Ok the body count didn’t rise much." then switch it off and go to bed…And people have accused me of being socially irresponsible!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Refusing to turn 28

I'm supposed to turn 28 years old this December. But I think I'm going to refuse and stay 27 another year or so. I have my own reasons to hold my ground or my 27yrs of age by neck and not let it go for next couple of years. Few reasons which I can make public are:

Number 9 is my lucky number. 2-7=9 OOO that’s a wrong calculation. Ye smartass I was just waking you up, people tend to fall asleep as soon as they are done reading my first paragraph.

Now Concentrate…

You see by the time my Father turned 28 he was in a great job for 5 years, a beautiful wife (mmm atleast his wife thought so), a nice home, 1 1/2 kids (I was still inside) and a Bike to take his family for rides. I, on the other hand, have none of those things. I might have been able to pull off the bike or maybe a car if I would have cared enough for taking some driving lesson but I found it easier to sit at back and do the back seat driving. There is one thing I will have at 28 that my Father did not and that is staying with your parents and eating home cooked food. Yes, all the more reason to stay 27 and not get rebuked by people.

Once you turn 28 you can no longer use the excuse that 'you are young and in your 20's' when explaining why you do dumb things. Once you turn 28 they start saying he is in his LATE 20’s or nearing 30’s and then if you do stupid stuff you are just immature and irresponsible. Actions that at 27 are met with laughs and giggles will then be met with eye rolling and looks of disgust. People who loved hanging out with you when you were 27 and still 'young' will now shun your company because you are too 'childish'. I can't speak for anyone else but I personally plan on engaging in lots more dumbness and I don't want to be looked down upon for it just because I crossed some imaginary age marker.

I am getting married shortly and I don’t want people to think in the direction where the hoarding says “Old Groom”. I want them to feel and say young couple most importantly Young Groom.

I don't feel I am nearing 30. I don't think your age should legally change until you feel that age. It just seems stupid that just because 365 days have passed I am no longer allowed to be in my mid-twenties. I don't feel a day over 24, ok maybe 26 fine at times I feel I am 40 but that’s a very hush hush and private feeling. Sure I'm starting to get a few more aches and pains in a few places and maybe I don't have the strength and stamina that I used to, but that could just be from hard living. It has nothing to do with the number 2 or the number 8.

2 years from 28 if counted stupidly correct you turn 30 and ten years after you turn 30 you turn 40 and I'm in no condition to deal with that kind of pressure right now...

Keeping it honest and simple this time, I sum up my reasons here. Hopefully, I will inspire others who read this Blog to take up this cause and refuse to be bullied into premature aging as well. If we all stand together we can put an end to this insane and outdated practice once and for all. We will be able to form a world where people are as old as they want to be and no older. We will be The Ageless, The Forever Young, The Ones Who Never Became Senior Citizens. Then again, I'm young and in my mid twenties, what do I know...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Letter To Uncle Sam - Saadat Hasan Manto

About Saadat Hasan Manto:

Saadat Hasan Manto, the most widely read and most controversial short story writer in Urdu, was born on May 11, 1912 at Sambrala in Punjab’s Ludhiana district. In a literary, journalistic, radio scripting and film-writing career spread over more than two decades, he produced 22 collections of short stories, one novel, five collections of radio plays, three collections of essays, two collections of personal sketches, and many scripts for films. He was tried for obscenity half a dozen times, thrice before and thrice after independence. Manto’s greatest work was produced in the last seven years of his life, a time of great financial and emotional hardship for him. He died several months short of his 43rd birthday in January 1955 in Lahore.

-- * --

31 Laxmi Mansions,
Hall Road, Lahore

16 December 1951

Dear Uncle,


This letter comes to you from your Pakistani nephew whom you do not know, nor does anyone else in your land of seven freedoms.

You should know why my country, sliced away from India, came into being and gained independence, which is why I am taking the liberty of writing to you. Like my country, I too have become independent and in exactly the same way. Uncle, I will not labour the point since an all-knowing seer like you can well imagine the freedom a bird whose wings have been clipped can enjoy.

My name is Saadat Hasan Manto and I was born in a place that is now in India. My mother is buried there. My father is buried there my first-born is also resting in that bit of earth. However, that place is no longer my country. My country now is Pakistan which I had only seen five or six times before as a British subject.

I used to be the All India’s Great Short Story Writer. Now I am Pakistan’s Great Short Story Writer. Several collections of my stories have been published and the people respect me. In undivided India, I was tried thrice, in Pakistan so far once. But then Pakistan is still young.

The government of the British considered my writings pornographic. My own government has the same opinion. The government of the British let me off but I do not expect my own government to do so. A lower court sentenced me to three months hard labour and a Rs. 300 fine. My appeal to the higher court won me an acquittal but my government believes that justice has not been done and so it has now filed an appeal in the High Court, praying that the judgment acquitting me be quashed and I be punished. We will have to see what the high Court decides.

My country is not your country which I regret. If the High Court were to punish me, there is no newspaper in my country that would print my picture or the details of all my trial.

My country is poor. It has no art paper, nor proper printing presses. I am living evidence of this poverty. You will not believe it, uncle, but despite being the author of twenty-two books, I do not have my own house to live in. and you will be astonished to know that I have no means of getting myself from one place to the other. I neither have a Packard nor a Dodge; I do not even have a used car.

If I need to go somewhere, I rent a bike. If a piece of mine appears in a newspaper and I earn twenty to twenty-five rupees at the rate of seven rupees a column, I hire a tonga and go buy locally distilled whiskey. Had this whiskey been distilled in your country, you would have destroyed that distillery with an atom bomb because it is the sort of stuff guaranteed to send its user to kingdom come within one year.

But I am disgressing. All I really wanted to do was to convey my good wishes to brother Erskine Caldwell. You will no doubt recall that you tried him for his novel ‘God’s Little Acre’ on the same charge that I have faced here: pornography.

Believe me, uncle, when I hear that this novel was tried on an obscenity charge in the land of seven freedoms, I was extremely surprised. In your country, after all, everything is divested of its outer covering so that it can be displayed in the show window, be it fresh fruit or woman, machine or animal, book or calendar. You are the king of bare things so I am at a loss to understand, uncle, why you tried brother Erskine Caldwell.

Had it not been for my quick reading of the court judgment I would have drunk myself to death by downing large quantities of our locally distilled whiskey because of the shock I received when I came to know of the Caldwell case. In a way, it was unfortunate that my country missed an opportunity to rid itself of a man like me, but then had I croaked, I would not have been writing to you, uncle. I am dutiful by nature. I love my country. In a few days, by the Grace of God I will die and if I do not kill myself, I will die anyway because where flour sells at the price at which it sells here, only a shamefaced person can complete his ordained time on earth.

So, I read the Caldwell judgment and decided not to drink myself to death with large quantities of the local hooch. Uncle, out there in your country, everything has an artificial facade but the judge who acquitted brother Erskine was certainly without such facade if this judge- I’m sorry I don’t know his name- is alive, kindly convey my respectful regards to him.

The last lines of his judgment point to the intellectual reach of his mind. He writes: “I personally feel that if such books were suppressed, it would create an unnecessary sense of curiosity among people which could induce them to seek salaciousness, though that is not the purpose of this book. I am absolutely certain that the author has chosen to write truthfully about a certain segment of American society. It is my opinion that truth is always consistent with literature and should be so declared.”

That is what I told the court that sentenced me, but it went ahead anyway and gave me three months in prison with hard labour and a fine of three hundred rupees. My judge thought that truth and literature should be kept far apart. Everyone has his opinion.

I am ready to serve my three-month term but this fine of three hundred rupees I am unable to pay. Uncle, you do not know that I am poor. Hard work I am used to, but money I am unused to. I am about thirty-nine and all my life I have worked hard. Just think about it. Despite being such a famous writer, I have no Packard.

I am poor because my country is poor. Two meals a day I can somehow manage but many of my brothers are not so fortunate.

My country is poor. But why is it ignorant? I am sure, uncle, you know why because you and your brother John Bull together are a subject I do not want to touch because it will not be exactly music to your ears. Since I write to you as a respectful youngster, I should remain that way from start to finish.

You will certainly ask me out of astonishment why my country is poor when it boasts of so many Packards, Buicks, and Max Factor cosmetics. That is indeed so, uncle, but I will not answer your question because if you look into your heart, you will find the answer (unless you have had your heart taken out by one of your brilliant surgeons.)

That section of my country’s population which rides in Packards and Buicks is really not of my country. Where poor people like me and those even poorer live, that is my country.

There are bitter things, but there is a shortage of sugar here otherwise I would have coated my words appropriately. But what of it! Recently, I read Evelyn Waugh’s book ‘The Loved One’. He of course comes from the country of your friends. Believe me, I was so impressed by that book that I sat down to write to you.

I was always convinced of the individual genius found in your part of the world but after reading this book, I have become a fan of his for life. What a performance, I say! Some truly vibrant people do indeed live out there.

Evelyn Waugh tells us that in your California, the dead can be beautified and there are large organizations that undertake the task. No matter how unattractive the dear departed in life, after death he can be given the look desired. There are forms you fill where you are asked to indicate your preference. The excellence of the finished product is guaranteed. The dead can be beautified to the extent desired, as long as you pay the price. There are experts who can perform this delicate task to perfection. The jaw of the loved one can be operated upon and a beatific smile implanted on the face. The eyes can be lit up and the forehead can be made to appear luminous. And all this work is done so marvelously that it can befool the two angles who are assigned to do a reckoning once a person is in the grave.

Uncle, by God you people are matchless.

One had heard of the living being operated on and beautified with the help of plastic surgery- there was much talk of it here- but one had not heard that the death can be beautified as well.

Recently one of your citizens was here and some friends introduced me to him. By then I had read brother Evelyn Waugh’s book and I read an Urdu couplet to your countryman that he did not follow. However, the fact is, uncle, that we have so distorted our faces that they have become unrecognizable, even to us. And there we have you who can even make the dead look more beautiful than they ever were in life. The truth is that only you have a right to live on this earth: the rest of us are wasting our time.

Our great Urdu poet Ghalib wrote about a hundred years ago:

If disgrace after death was to be my fate,
I should have met my end through drowning
It would have spared me a funeral and no headstone would have marked my last resting place

Ghalib was not afraid of being disgraced while he was alive because from beginning to the end that remained his lot. What he feared was disgrace after death. He was a graceful man and not only was he afraid of what would happen after he died, he was certain what would happen to him after he was gone. And that is why he expressed a wish to meet his end through drowning so that he should neither have funeral nor grave.

How I wish he had been born in your country. He would have been carried to his grave with great fanfare and over his resting place a skyscraper would have been built. Or were his own wish to be granted, his dead body would have been placed in a pool of glass and people would have gone to view it as they go to a zoo.

Brother Evelyn Waugh writes that not only are there in your country establishments that can beautify dead humans but dead animals as well. If a dog loses its tail in an accident, he can have a new one.

Whatever physical defects the dead one had in life are duly repaired after death. He is then buried ceremoniously and floral wreaths are placed on his grave. Every year on the pet’s death anniversary, a card is sent to the owner with an inscription that reads something like this: In paradise, your Tammy (or Jeffie) is wagging his tail (or his ears) while thinking of you.

What it adds up to is that your dogs are better off than us. Die here today, you are forgotten tomorrow. If someone in the family dies, it is a disaster for those left behind who often can be heard wailing, “why did the wretch die? I should’ve gone instead.” The truth is, uncle that we neither know how to live nor how to die.

I heard of one of your citizens who wasn’t sure what sort of funeral he would be given, so he staged a grand “funeral” for himself while he was very much alive. He deserved that certainly because he had lived a stylish and opulent life where nothing happened unless he wished it to. He wanted to rule out the possibility of things not being done right at his funeral; as such, he was justified in personally observing his last rites while alive. What happens after death is neither here nor there.

I have just seen the new issue of ‘Life’ (5 November 1951, international edition) and learnt of the most instructive facet of American life. Spread across two pages is an account of the funeral of the greatest gangster of your country. I saw a picture of Willie Moretti (may his soul rest in peace) and his magnificent home which he had recently sold for $55,000. I also viewed his five-acre estate where he wanted to live in peace, anyway from the distractions of the world. There was also a pictures of his $5,000 casket and his funeral procession made up of seventy-five cars. God is my witness; it brought tears to my eyes.

May there be dust in my mouth, but in case you were to die, may you have a grander farewell than Willie Moretti. This is the ardent prayer of a poor Pakistani writer who doesn’t even have a cycle to ride on. May I beg you that like the more farsighted ones in your country, you should make arrangements to witness your funeral while you are alive. You can’t leave it to others; they can always make mistakes, being fallible. It is possible that your physical appearance may not receive the attention it deserves after you have passed away. It is also possible that you may already have witnessed your funeral by the time this letter reaches you. I say this because you are not only wiser, you are also my uncle.

Convey my good wishes to brother Erskine Caldwell and to the judge who acquitted him of the pornography charge. If I have caused you offense, I beg your forgiveness. With the utmost respect,

Your poor nephew,

Saadat Hasan Manto,
Resident of Pakistan
(This letter could not be mailed because of lack of postage.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Mrs. Ashraf...with Love - Love Sayings

I love her and that's the beginning of everything.
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald
…Asshole stole my line but not my girl and thank god for that.

Few week back Mrs. Ashraf wrote some twisted line about love on my facebook which takes hell lot of patience to read the entire length of it and worse remember it because I know she is gonna ask if I read it and if I did what did I decipher…contemplate and what am I gonna do about it.

Usually when I am in doubt, I tend to make a fool of myself. Not saying I don’t when I am not in doubt but on second thoughts there is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So the great Ashraf brain says, what the hell. Anyway I tried being equally philosophical about love and rattle my brain to find some witty saying then came my favorite task …Google Search… nothing fits the bill. She will sniff it out from a mile its not my words…not my thoughts nor I believe in that saying. Well that’s the bad side of marrying someone who knows you inside out.

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. . . It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more.

I believe in the saying Love comes when manipulation stops…

It’s the time when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you… When you dare to reveal yourself fully… When you dare to be vulnerable. It’s the time when you allow them or they know you inside out… what thing can shatter you to pieces. You are honest and barely romantic. When you tell them their departure from your life won’t kill you but you will forever be colleting remaining pieces life.

God knows it was not easy… vast geographical distance brings lot of cultural, language and religion boundaries but like the say “Two people are connected at the heart, and it doesn't matter what you do, or who you are or where you live; there are no boundaries or barriers if two people are destined to be together.” It all started with a dream to build a happy life for myself. A Selfish dream just for yourself… when you are truly in love you realize in dreams and in love there are no impossibilities. However insignificant and small you are world is your turf.

Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.

So I say if you are living a fairytale… man you are in love...provided you have an ordinary life like mine… a life where you can't stop loving or wanting to love your partner because you know it’s right and it's the best thing in the world for you(till it becomes the second best). On ground reality when you're in a relationship and its good, even if nothing else in your life is right, you feel like your whole world is complete.

Falling in love in this kind of isn't going to be easy... anger... tears... jealousy… every single drop of it weighing mountain on your chest but it's when you still want to be together despite it all at any cost. It’s the pain of her absence which hurts you above all and deep down you know everything in your life and around you will fall into place which she takes her designated space which you have reserved in your life.

When you smiled you had my undivided attention. When you laughed you had my urge to laugh with you. When you cried you had my urge to hold you. When you said you loved me, you had my heart forever.

You keep on thinking of ways to amuse her and most of the time it falls flat but still you don’t stop trying Oh you become creative. What gift you can ever give to your heartbeat mmm maybe healthy dietary habit and quit smoking. The one gift you will surely crave to give every moment of your life is the ability to see themselves as you see them, so they could see how truly special they are…

And people will ask you what the hell is wrong with you… don’t worry its nothing she can’t fix.

What’s my pick in all the love sayings I ever came across… “I believe in a kind of love that brings sailors home from the sea…”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Miss Dove and Mr. Bat – Love Story?

It didn’t happen in the past, so don’t mind me not starting with Once there was.... There is this Huge tree really big... home for millions of birds... different species different colors... tree is so huge that a bird from one side of the tree may never come across a bird from the other side ever... so many birds and insects that tree is alive at any given moment, you can hear calls of so many species of birds every second of every day...100s of eagles live on the top... thinking the tree is theirs.. There is a colony of millions of parrots, crows, woodpeckers etc etc...

And then there is a colony of Bats and White dove also...

Bat you will think is common ye sure but white dove is also common if you go to their colony... but this Dove is unique... although she lived in her colony but was always interested in seeing different parts of the tree especially the part where the Crows had their colony.

One fine day, she came back from her daily chore in the evening and was about to settle down on a secluded branch when she saw a bird hanging upside down. It was time for our Mr. Bat to wake up for his night work. At first Miss Dove was bit apprehensive it was getting dark and she has not seen anything hanging upside down something so dark and hairy. She thought maybe he is Jerk trying to get a bottom top view of her chastity. What a jerk to meet at the end of her day. Well she was not completely wrong this Bat was a jerk ...not a unique jerk but a jerk alrite... he was inspired by the spiders he used to see hanging upside down daily... Spiders who work hard on spinning an artistic web to trap those ignorant insects...
Back to the evening when our Miss Dove and Mr Bat saw each other first time. Bat was smitten with love. He has not seen anything so fair... so elegant... so charming. That night when all the other birds slept and only owls and Bats like him roamed the tree he just sat their seeing his Lady Love sleeping.

As time flew by... soon bat found himself an outcast... he didn’t have a job... hanging upside down daily and doing nothing he started getting into dark mood swings the only thing good happening was those few hours when his lady love will come back in the evening and they will chat a bit before she went to sleep. He started living for those few hours of evening. Slowly our Miss Dove also fell in love and one fine day just chatting and joking they realized they love each other a lot.
They decided to get married.

A Bat getting married with a Dove!!! That caused a huge uproar in the Bat aswell as the Dove colony. Everyone had a something to say... ahh its just infatuation... this marriage will never work out... remember that dove who married a crow; her life was so pathetic later... you can’t marry a Dove she will never understand our Bat culture...

They decided they will not give much importance to what others say but will trust each other and follow their heart and prove everyone wrong. Things worked fine for some period... it was more than fine it was heavenly... but slowly things started to change. Bat was back in doing job and making arrangement for his future life with the Dove but still somewhere it was not as rosy and beautiful as it was in the start. Bat became very demanding. He won’t compromise on anything but would expect the Dove to change. Dove was scared of hanging upside down like him but Bat just won’t help her or support her. Dove promised she will never eat grains again like she did all her life but will eat those insects what he and his family eat but still Bat will demand more.

Everyday became a pain for Dove she wanted their marriage to happen, she was in love she said; like she was never before and she knew Bat loved her the most, but his attitude was killing her. She was soon to leave her colony of Dove and come to the Colony of Bat and live with his people all hanging upside down and eating insects and having different custom and way of living and she was very scared but Bat was immune. Bat was not that bad I guess he wanted to give her the best of life, he wanted to work hard... very hard and get everything settled for his lady love. They loved each other the most but still it was not 100%.

What is missing?
What should Dove do? And most importantly what should Bat be doing?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mom Vs Wife

Here’s a sticky situation that many of you may deal with…of course once you are married or on the verge of getting married.

Mom vs. Wife is the epic saga that has plagued many families and put the husband-sons in the most ultimate “damned if you do” situations. I really feel for my brothers, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I think the wife comes in at a grave disadvantage especially if the mom is still below 60 and loud in saying and clear in hearing. Not only does the wife have to compete with the mother-in-law for the husband-son’s love and time, but she has to do so with kindness and understanding. I mean really, sons and mothers…forget about it. That is a bond that when it is strong, is virtually unbreakable.

We guys take pride in being called Mamma’s boy till the wife walks in and wants to change the world upside down, most hit with this tsunami is mama dear.

And so my friends, the power struggle begins.

The quest for ultimate supremacy is on. Who takes top spot on husband-son’s priority list? Basically, who’s number 1? On one hand, you have the woman who actually gave life to your husband, clothed, and fed him for years. On the other hand, you have the woman he has picked to be his life mate and bear his children. She has left her family, comfort everything to walk side by side in all your triumphs and tragedies. It’s not so simple.

Hmmm…Don’t think I have the answer, because I don’t. I know some people will have very strong views about this topic based on what they’ve gone through individually but honestly I don’t have any answer, because the moment you start seeking an answer it means you are ready to give a pound of your flesh to someone and I am not ready to do that. Be it my mom or my wife.

Stupidity sometime lies at our end as well when we start comparing Mom with wife or more often seeing wife from a mother’s prism. Get real guys, your mom is 50+ fat and flabby and probably she is not ashamed of farting in front of you she calls its natural cause. You don’t want your wife to be like your Mom, your Mom is best handled by your Dad. Don’t try to change it.

At times we guys also have the tendency of declaring our parents dead before they actually are. That’s not being wife lover that’s being stupid... no one can cook as good as your mom irrespective of how bad a cook she is... you are used to her kind of extra oil extra fat food. Don’t think your wife will take all those shit what your mom is capable of taking she thinks your shitty attitude is her by product.

Life is not Boat in a storm situation and you got to save either your mom or your wife, I think my mom and my future wife is too smart to present such situation in front of me because both of them know if that’s the case I am going to abandon both of them and swim to a brand new girl on the shore... So I say when its Mom Vs Wife take time out and discuss with your GF!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

4.8 Million Great Britain Pounds Sterling!!!

Hi Laura,

Thanks for trusting me with this Noble job of utilising your late husbands 4.8 Million GBP. I have always wanted to help the less privileged and destiny kicked fellow humans in my life. Although I never had money to help them financially I always include them in my daily prayers before sleeping. I request you not to die before you transfer me the money. I am not a bad person you can ask my wife and my mother also. Recently my country is hit by Swine flu as well and people are dying like swine or killing swine. I also want to help people suffering from swine flu and poor pigs who just cant help shitting flu. So once you die after transferring the money to me I can assure you not only these people but the animals also whom I will save will include you in their prayers.

Let me know how soon can you send me the money.

Very sincerely

From: Laura J. Carvon []
Sent: 20 August 2009 18:45
To: undisclosed recipients:
Subject: Dear Friend

Dear Friend,

I hope that this e-mail reached you in the right frame of Mind.

I am Mrs laura j Carvon , I am suffering from cancerous ailment,When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of 4.8 Million Great Britain Pounds Sterling which were derived from his vast estates and investment in capital market with his bank here in UK. Presently, this money is still with the Bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that I have limited days to live due to the cancerous problems I am suffering from. Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition to the cancer. With this hard reality that has befallen my family and me, I have decided to donate this fund to you and want you to use this gift which comes from my husbands effort to fund the upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans, destitute, the down-trodden, physically challenged children, barren women and persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped financially.

Please contact me on the email below for further clarifications:

laura j Carvon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Being Creative Elephant

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out. Every mind is a building filled with archaic furniture. Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it. – Dee Hock

When still a baby, the elephant is tethered by a very thick rope to a stake firmly hammered into the ground. The elephant tries several times to get free, but it lacks the strength to do so. After some time, the animal gives up trying, believing that it cannot be free.

At this point, the trainer changes the thick rope to a thin one but the elephant makes no attempt to run away. Even when the elephant reaches adulthood, it continues to be tethered by a thin rope, reconciled to its captivity.

As we grow up and gain experience, we absorb assumptions which then drive our life and limit our choices. They are similar to the elephant’s thin rope tied to a post. We can break away from them with a simple tug if we want to but we don’t.
As we acquire more and more experience, our repertoire of blind assumptions grows too, correspondingly limiting our choices. Our experience becomes a hindrance in our being creative.

I have identified few of such tethers of elephant size which more than often holds me back from being creative. Questions is am I willing to break free... I am not sure... what do you think?

What will people think?
My self-consciousness is one big hurdle in my being creative. I don’t even try to do so many things in life because I am afraid of making a fool of myself. We waste a lot of our energy in protecting ourself and presenting a ‘good’ image.
We had no such inhibitions as a child and therefore we were naturally creative. It is perhaps the fear of the unknown and what might happen that makes us self-conscious. It holds us back and hinders our creativity.

When we walk into something in spite of the fear, it simply vanishes because by then the unknown turns into the known. The trick is not to think in terms of conquering fear but being with it.

That’s what I did lately when cupid struck me... I got my life partner...not saying every time you do that you will get your life partner but it will be worthwhile...try can check Mrs.Ashraf’s snap to boost your morale :)

But I’ve never had any great ideas!
Most people don’t have enough opportunities to bring out their creativity. So their creative abilities remain untapped. It seems to make no difference because not being creative is not too inconvenient.

Being creative is actually a search for a better way and in today’s world most solutions come ready-made. Most of the things that you do have been researched and the ‘best’ ways to do them have been arrived at.

Most people follow the standard ‘best’ ways without questioning – how to clean teeth, how to reach office, etc. They do a great number of tasks automatically.
Trying a ‘different way’ may in fact be inconvenient in most situations – driving speed, the route to office, how to tie your shoe knots, standing in the queues, etc.
Most of these automatic ways are perhaps good. By sticking with them, you are able to accomplish many tasks without thinking. They save time but you end up with the habit of not thinking afresh.

Over time, you develop attitudes and assumptions which prevent you from thinking creatively, locking you into the existing ways of thinking and doing things. You become a prisoner of familiarity. You never have great ideas.
As a result, even when the need arises for you to think differently and generate new ideas, you are unable to do so.

I somehow am unable to break this shackle. If you can, share the trick.

What is the right answer?
One of the worst aspects of formal education is the focus on the correct answer to a question or problem. When somebody asks a question, you generally give an acceptable answer instead of an original one fearing it might be wrong.

While this approach helps you to function smoothly in society, it hurts creative thinking. Real-life issues are ambiguous. There is no one single answer to any problem. There can be several answers if only you think about them. They may all be contradictory and yet correct. Women are great in that. My wife at the risk of being stupid ends up making me feel stupid, rigid and uni-focused.

I don’t want to fail.
The fear of failure is something that you learn in school…and it never just goes away. All through school, you perhaps take hundreds of tests, exams, assignments, etc. You are in one big trouble if you fail even once. You are scared of failure.
By the time you finish school, the fear of failure has seeped into your system and you avoid situations which could result in failure. You are extra-careful about whatever you take up. You learn the art of playing safe.

The fear of failure does not let us try new things, crippling our creativity. If you look back and if you are someone like me perhaps you will find more failures than triumphs. Makes you wonder what did that fear actually result in actual?

That’s not my area.
Creativity requires finding connections between unrelated things. The diversity of your interests and experiences enhances your ability to find connections.

When you explore completely unrelated areas, you are pleasantly surprised by the interrelatedness of almost everything. You start seeing new possibilities when you discover new connections.

In an era of hyper-specialization, the scope of work is getting narrower and narrower. Loss of creativity is the immediate casualty.

Sticking to ones area is bound to takes it toll on being Creative

I don’t like uncertainty.
If you are not confused, you are not thinking clearly – Tom Peters
Till few months I didn’t know what the above shit means...

When people are confused, they feel compelled to resolve the situation quickly, making it systematic and orderly again. They are likely to miss the key issues in their haste to do so.

There is something in our culture or perhaps in the education system, which makes us want to be ‘knowers’ rather than ‘find-outers’.

This attachment to ‘knowing’ makes you feel jittery and inept when you ‘don’t know’. This tendency is so engrained that even small kids begin to lose their curiosity in order to become ‘knowers’.

However, when it comes to creative thinking, not knowing is a good thing and ambiguity is a great thing. Certainty is the enemy of creativity.
If you are certain about something, you don’t have much leeway to generate new ideas to solve problems.

That’s the way it is done!
The need for standard ways of doing things is perfectly legitimate. But then it gives rise to an ever increasing number of rules that govern people’s lives.

While some of the rules are legitimate, some are totally unfounded. They are not very different from the thin rope that tethers the elephant. This is bane of our Indian society which I am the byproduct. Maybe in next post I will tell you more about what a fool I make of myself most of the time when I talk with my wife on the way things should be done.

Everyone says so.
When all think alike, then no one is thinking. — Walter Lippman

The desire to belong is a powerful one and at times it leads to ‘groupthink’. This herd approach is probably a relic from the cave age. It is important to have a mind of your own in order to be creative. I can say I came out of the cave but unfortunately I still reside on the trees.

I feel safe when I am like everyone else.
People start off as unique beings. They are very different from each other as children and young adults with their very own likes and dislikes.

Yet, as if by magic, they get into a common mould after they reach their thirties. Their likes, dislikes, wants, needs and goals somehow begin to converge. They seem to become more and more like one another.

As a result, their creative abilities suffer. I am still few years away from reaching my thirties. What age are you?

I have strong views and firm opinions.
There are people who pride themselves for having firm stands and being inflexible. They have strong views and unshakable opinions. They are too judgmental.

Being judgmental means blocking or ignoring other points of views. It means reducing your options and leaving your mind with much less to work with. It is then reflected in your ability to generate ideas and solutions.

When you are nonjudgmental, you have an open mind. You have more choices. Being nonjudgmental reduces the surface functioning of your mind, stimulating its deeper functioning.

The trick is to allow ones unconscious mind to throw up more ideas into his conscious mind.

Why keep thinking unnecessarily when I have found the answer?
Such is the hurry to find a solution that people are satisfied with the first one that comes to their mind. They stop thinking further.

However, if you don’t share your ‘first’ idea and keep thinking more and more, the subsequent ones are sure to be better.
The more you think, the more the chances to find better solutions. You never know when you will hit the jackpot.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

101 reasons to be happy!!!

1. Love the note she puts in my wallet to miss her and not flirt.
2. Love when she gets irritated and says HAAAABEEEEEE!!!!
3. Love her beautiful big blue eyes
4. She can wait patiently for hours for me before blast me off!!
5. Love the way she cuddles up a rare perfect fit for my chest
6. She’s excellent at taking care of my things
7. She teaches me how to dance
8. She like me the way I am – Fat, Dark and Ugly
9. She genuinely cares about others but at times I am jealous about that
10. I like when she gets tears of happiness and when she jumps with both hands folded like a kid with all smile
11. I love her multi-coloured hair
12. I love her hiding her sunburn
13. I love her laugh
14. She watches out for my health
15. She can drive while I play with her cheek and hair
16. She makes great lasagne
17. She won’t eat or order things which I don’t like
18. She will send me shopping with less money
19. She won’t tip the waiter where I am spending
20. She at time uses big and tough English words and say Ventilator instead of saying Fan
21. She gives great hugs
22. Her hand fits just right in mine
23. She is never boring to me (that’s a big deal)
24. She’s good with small details
25. She is creative in nature
26. She scratches my back and plays with my hair
27. Even when she abuses she sounds cute somehow
28. She’s good with kids and elderly people
29. She is honest and trustable to the core
30. She made me buy sneakers and got a perfume
31. She’s very humble and down to earth
32. She’s assertive and demanding in a cute way
33. She was by my side when I was unemployed
34. Her come here –kiss me expression makes me go weak in the knees.
35. Her face is very expressive
36. Her lips are so soft and kissable
37. She has a childlike sense of wonder.
38. She writes mails to my father like a cute a daughter
39. The only time I don’t miss her is when I’m with her.
40. She puts perfume on me and oils my hair also
41. She has a great deal of empathy for people especially for poor
42. Her dazzling smile
43. She thinks I’m sexy
44. I know she’s sexy
45. She sleeps like baby
46. She’s rubbing off my rough edges and helping me to be honest
47. My breath still catches in my throat when I see her on webcam
48. She will never let her ego hamper our relation
49. She stands her ground
50. She’s good at meeting people
51. She’s smart and intelligent
52. She knows how to give massages
53. She forgives me when I screw up
54. She plays a perfect mother hen
55. She is neither arrogant nor snobbish
56. She let’s me tell the same old stories over and over
57. She help me to realize that it is more important to care for others than oneself
58. She is scared of lightening but not spiders
59. She says “I love you” and means it
60. She is a romantic
61. She looks great what ever she wears
62. She’s a good homemaker
63. She doesn’t mind me overweight
64. She cries during movies
65. She loves to dance
66. She hates drug, doesn’t smoke and won’t do alcohol
67. She believes in the power of our relationship
68. She goes bonkers discussing Indian marriage
69. She will go bonkers again discussing Lolek and Bolek
70. She tolerates my workaholic nature
71. Her skin is so soft and smooth
72. She’s absolutely faithful
73. She’s not materialistic.
74. She is very feminine
75. She is a war survivor without hatred and I admire her for that
76. She will discuss even the silliest thing with sincerity
77. She acts like a slave master at times
78. She likes to talk to me
79. She’s determined and knows what she wants in life
80. She makes me look good
81. Her hair always smells so good
82. Her body always smells good
83. She can eat anywhere, not just posh places
84. The way her face lit up when we saw each other for the first time J
85. She looks incredible in a formal dress
86. She makes me feel like I am the Best Guy in Town!!
87. She looks good with makeup
88. She looks great without it
89. She will talk with me whenever she is free
90. She will always end with a Pusa
91. She always calls me Hubby or Jerk
92. She thinks I will be the best hubby
93. She is short tempered but cools down equally fast
94. She will put my cloths and things in order without being asked
95. She puts up with my dark mood
96. She likes my chest hair
97. She gets mad when she sees injustice
98. She drives safely
99. She needs all the covers to stay warm
100. Her clothes are so tiny compared to mine!
101. Because she is the one and now,.... I can’t imagine life without her!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Meeting my Future wife – Ivana Ashraf

Back from Croatia in One piece... Future wife didn’t pluck my hair.... in-laws didn’t chop my limbs.... Croatians didn’t shoot a dark skinned hairy beast with vague human similarities... I did it... a thing which I thought is beyond the potential of any Ashraf to do: go and meet the Future wife and wannabe in-laws in person right in on their turf.

On a serious note I was never comfortable due to chain of unfortunate incidents happening since this idea came in my mind. Visa issues, Parental pressure, non- parental judgement, de-motivating feedbacks... its just a crush... you are not rational... get over your infatuation... how come you know she is what she says... this will never work out... best one “what kind of f@#@ing nut you are?”

It was uneventful... I went via Istanbul... bloody everyone sleeping... all the passengers... on-flight crew everyone and there I was with my heart (or was it balls?) in my mouth... what if she doesn’t show up in the airport... what if this doesn’t work out... what if we are not able to understand each other in the absence of typed text? So many questions at 22000 ft above sea level...

To make matter worse my next seat neighbour was not helping me at all... the girl was coming back from India after meeting her lover and she was under the impression few days of meeting is just to short a time period to know if you want to live your whole life with that girl. She was in relation with her Indian prince charming for couple of years now and I guess she had absolutely no idea about the Indian arranged marriage where you at times don’t get to meet the girl at all before the nuptial hour. Well we parted ways in Istanbul and then it was time to fly Zagreb.

Zagreb international airport is not more than a regular Indian airstrip and the first thing that hits you is the fresh air ... next thing to follow is people are staring you. Immigration exit I was the last guy to come out and I can see a marginally fat girl in blue waving from outside.

Great at least she is waving good thing I didn’t send a flying kiss across to her...she was not Ivana....

Came out, turned left and there she was standing. She looks beautiful if you see her for the first time she really does. A Big hug and a kiss got me over all my hiccups. Surprisingly we could understand each other pretty well she sounds like a south Indian born bihari kind off. Felt like I knew her for ages... felt like we are already married and I am coming back from a business trip.

Oh yes...She was not alone she got this huge giant standing behind and laughing along with her younger brother ... felt like taking the next flight back.

We came out and whoa... no population... 3 hours drive back to her place- no traffic. Initial thought was this is peaceful but soon you will start missing the crowd. It so happened that my future fatherinlaw had bloody taken a leave and sitting at home to meet me. I had not used the toilet since I left Delhi and badly needed to take a crap... 14 hours sitting with not much place to move... I was dead tired and really not ready to meet him. She just won’t understand and that’s the first thing I realized about my future wife. She is a decision maker – for both of us.

Anyway finally met him nice simple guy offered me a cigarette as well. He doesn’t know English and I don’t go beyond Dobro & Havala in my Croatian diction. At times communication gap works and it worked pretty fine for me.

If you ever visit Croatia do go visiting Vukovar its beautiful situated in the banks of river Danube and if you come to Vukovar ask for directions to a county named Borovo. Once you enter Borovo watch out for a sign board “BOSO 13Kuna Pizza” that’s the land mark for my in-laws place. Do come in and tell them you know me real nice folk I guarantee you that. Try the homemade Burek and Roasted Chicken... ask Ivana to make Lasagne for you... she will burn her fingers... take long thousand and one things in between but you will like the taste... my wife makes it real good... feel free to smoke in front of my in-laws they don’t mind and Yes, when you are leaving do pat their pet named Munja from my end.

Few hours with Ivana and I was really settled. Unlike many others I don’t feel bad or suffocated in the company of someone who is demanding...bossy... crazy...fussy... nagging. Ye I was feeling at home with my future wife. She infact brought back fond memories. She was a super mixture of all those sweet uptight asses I have met in my entire life. Don’t do this... don’t do that... don’t cross the road from here... don’t sing so loudly... wave to them... hold my hand when we walk... don’t throw your cloths like that don’t mix washed cloths with dirty cloths... she even told me “how can you fart so loudly”... well sweetheart I don’t have volume control panel fixed on my ass. And I belong to India ... half the Bihar culture is in my blood... its my birth right to do things what others don’t want me to do... to cross the road where I want to cross from along with my buffalo and my buffalo also has the right to shit right in the middle of the road taking her own sweet time keeping your bloody traffic on hold. The weird thing was I wear jeans for a month at a stretch and it never gets might get rugged and torn... change it colour from anything thing to dark brown but it never gets dirty how the hell it used to get dirty every 2nd day in Croatia.

Anyway back to the trip detail, that huge giant turned out to be a real good guy. Nemanja - her cousin brother. He also doesn’t understand English but I spent much time with him. A Simple and hard working guy who cares a lot for his cousin sister. He also had a girlfriend cute girl named Tanya who spoke English like a Russian. Few days down and we both wished we could talk without Ivana playing a translators role.

Overall Croatians are like kindergarten kids. Overtime one might get bored with their mechanised systematic life governed by countless of laws and etiquettes. The thing that pinches most is the lack of population... you are on road - place – empty anywhere u go bloody no population and people who are there they work like machines, move in society like machine enjoy.
I don’t go there to do a cultural & economic research; I went to meet Ivana and her folks and they were more than a handful. They have a huge family, three grannies...couple of grandpa... hundreds of uncles & aunts and millions of cousins... and leaving few all speak in Croatian and everyone asks too many questions... right from the day I was born till the time I landed at Zagreb airport they want to know everything. They don’t ask in group they ask the whole set of questions individually. Ivana had to first translate what they were saying and then translate my response to that question... somehow I felt she was enjoying playing the bridge. She is excellent in that role pushing people to like me...pushing me to like them. Pushing everyone closer trying to make one big happy family... yes she plays Mother Hens role to perfection. You will like to see her in all the roles she looks kind of cute being a friend a daughter a sister a companion a lover what you don’t want to see her is when she is all charged up with anger. Her anger is like a nuclear explosion Boom!!! Anything in its radius gone... no second thoughts... Her face color changes from white to tomato red... eyes become bigger and red... canine teeth’s come out like vampire... nails become sharper and lethal... body takes a threatening position of a charging African elephant.. she is surely one of her kind.
Cultural issues:
They don’t use fans... no ceiling fans or table fans or hand fans nothing and I have a problem sleeping in absolute silence sans the sweet humming sound made by fans. They don’t eat rice or roti and they bloody water is never served; you have to ask for it. Left hand driving makes you feel all the cars are rushing in from the wrong direction and though I don’t know how to drive I used to end up opening the door of the driver’s seat.

Bit pressed for time more in the next post.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Few words from Mrs Ashraf

Ohhhhhhhh, how should I start? I m not so good writer as my hubby, actually i m not writer at all, and my English is so bad, but i wanted to put few sentences here, just to mark my territory :-). I guess first i will introduce myself. My name is Ivana, i live in Croatia and soon I will be Mrs Ashraf. Just I have to change my name, so soon I will be Mrs..... Ashraf.
What else can i say? Yes, i m very nice girl although Imran calls me bitch or slave master , don’t know why, I guess he found that these nicknames suits me :-).

We met last year, i guess it was September, but he was such a jerk, I didn’t want even to talk to him, he thought he is interesting but on contrary he was so boring and bothering, u cannot imagine, he was flirting with everyone we can call female on the internet (don’t kill me because of this). And one day he started to be interesting, i have no idea how, but now he is the most important person in my life. After 8 months we finally saw each other, when i saw him at airport i said wowwwwwwwww!
Usually people say or think 10 days is not long enough to see or realize if that someone is for u or not, but since that first moment i saw him at airport, after our first hug i knew he is the one and I want to spend all my life with him.
I love you Immi the most!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Packed up and ready to go

Just a quickie!! Oh man I love this word Quickie... all packed up and ready to hit Croatia... I am sorry been long long time didnt vomit anything here..would be doing it from there hopefully

so long Mates catch you soon

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Kuch Aashaar

Wahi Taj hai wahi takht hai wahi zehar hai wahi jaam hai...
Ye wahi Khuda ki Zameen hai Ye wahi Buton ka nizam hai

Bade Shauq se mera ghar jlaa, koi aanch na tujh pe aayegi
Ye zubaan kisi ne khareed li, ye kalam kisi ki ghulam hai

Mere Diye duniya ke aandhiyon ne bujha diye
Magar ek iraadon ka jugnu ab bhi roshni ka imaam hai


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Matter of Shells and Spines...

If one looks at the history of evolution of life on earth, there are some very interesting facts that emerge. I assure you that this is not an essay on life sciences full of biological jargon, yet there are some references drawn from the life sciences, after all to understand life per se there is no harm in looking at a science which claims to be about it. I have very many doubts about how much the practitioners of this discipline respect life, but that’s outside the scope of my article.

Life as it is originated in the waters (some claim it did so in marshy landscape), evolved from very simple organisms to complex ones. A lot of very interesting changes took place along the way, but we would pause at just extremely fascinating ones- the origin of shells, which happened in the deep waters- molluscs like shell fish, oysters etc. devised an ingenious way to protect themselves from the predators. A hard impenetrable shell within which they would retreat when in danger. There were many forms, attached to the body, not attached to the body; small, big, colourful, camouflaging, blending into the surrounding etc...For the lack of argument lets say “The Age of Shells” lasted for a million year spanning through the never-ending geological eras and then creatures like tortoises and rhinos went over board with it, they got for themselves designer brand shells, many weighing much more their soft tissue’s weight. This curtailed their movement and locomotion, yet they couldn’t care less, so obsessed with safety they were.

While several species could never give up on the good old shells, along they way came some truly rebellious organisms, who couldn’t bear the drudgery of the living and carrying shell. Evolving in this sprit of rebellion the organisms were forced to think out of the box, er… shell. ‘Why not’ they wondered ‘have the hardness, the strength of the shell within us, rather than outside’. These spirited brave lots grew a backbone, literally and metaphorically. Thus came into being the greater of animal kingdom... predators, birds fishes and human beings. Evolution is a bloody slow process, it is not a overnight change, while they did do away with shells considerably, the vestiges stuck along. They kept their young ones in them; eggshells protected the tender, vulnerable little ones. Mammals went a step further on and did away with the very concept of shells, even for their babies. The first clarion call for child rights I guess, “Whatever is unacceptable to us, shall be unacceptable for our children as well”. They developed the protection, safety mechanism within; they developed an excellent skeletal system with the spine at the centre of it.

The spine that helps all of us to stand upright, of course does various other functions as well, but that’s digression again. Well, the point I am trying to drive home is that from shells to spines is the journey that all of us have made, our ancestors have fought to give us this freedom, to develop thus far, so why are we regressing and getting so obsessed with shells?

Shells, however strong, nice and cozy can never let the little bird fly in an azure sky towards the golden the sun. To fly the little bird has to break that shell, step out into open, even though it might be wrought with dangers, the cruel paw of a predator, a fall from the trees, a sharp metal tipped arrow…. yet in the midst of such lurking dangers is the possibility of growing strong from within, finding freedom of the open expanse and of course all the lovely smells and delicious fruits.

A little seed, with the possibility of a massive tree within it, is buried in the soil. Caged or protected in the layers of cover, tree to reach its destiny it got to break its shell. It would send a tender shoot up to search for air and sun, a hesitant root moves down to seek nourishment. Within it’s shell the seed shall perish, rot within, if it doesn’t move out.

When all around us we see that for life to blossom, to thrive and to grow, the shell has to be broken why on earth are we so obsessed with shells? Tiny holes we hide in, walls between communities’ houses protected by massive gates, electric fencing, forces deployed to protect LoCs and worst of all people security in the confinement of their cars.

Spine of an individual organism, a community or a nation is the true strength within, shells are only external covering. In our preoccupation with the shell we forget to strengthen our spines. To strengthen spines the work has to be within, on ourselves, which is much more difficult than raising walls and barricading ourselves.
The future course of evolution, of us as an individuals, communities, people and inheritor of the world would vastly depend on the choice we make, do we want shells or spines?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Burning Sensation

Sometimes we are given what we ask for and sometimes it is more than what we bargained for...

When the later happens consequences can be devastating... I could feel myself dying by degrees. Everything in my mind was rotting...decaying. My body was going this way too. Daily overdose of codeine mixed with blue smoke of marijuana acted like catalyst. My emotions were still running riot, vivid and colorful as ever... Yet they were becoming increasingly detached from reality. They were becoming no more than abstractions to be used like pawns in the ever raging war of my mind. And emotions have no awareness of themselves - they play, they fight, they die. They do not care about tomorrow. Emotions are like children. The mind is weaker than any one emotion, but it understands the necessity of living... It can plan. The mind is not a bad thing, not in itself. The mind is naturally just as bright and loving as those childish emotions, it's just tinged with a bit more seriousness, a bit more sobriety. Unless, of course, it's dying. It is then a fearful enemy, to anyone and anything, but most especially to its master.

And all throughout this slow death of mine, I prayed for some kind of deliverance or reprieve. I wanted my mind to be healthy again, in fact healthier than it had ever been - as healthy as it was meant to be. I wanted to be alive, fully breathing, fully blooded, fully thinking. The fuzzy existence of a pathetic individual, fluttering vainly against his own apathy was (and is) a horror to me.

Life has not been terribly hard on me, compared to some. Some might look at my life and think it'd been soft and easy. Still, there are serious losses, serious wounds that I will carry to my dying day - and hopefully not beyond... These are things that I've honestly tried my best to compensate for, by keeping a good demeanor, being kind and learning to have a sense of humour. The sense of good non sarcastic humour is still pending.

All I wanted is to feel the hope of a boy, to know the determination of a man and be a fresh and aware human being. It was not too much to ask from oneself, though sometimes it felt like too much to expect from a non-obedient self.


By degrees I can feel all this coming to pass. I am coming alive. My whole body spasms with life sometimes, as the blood and electricity return to muscle tissue long abandoned.

My mind is returning to life too, the decaying thoughts are being shed, and it has stopped manipulating my emotions. Now given liberty, my emotions are leading me onto a new path - one I would have missed not too long ago. My body is also regaining its health. Everything in me seems poised to take a dramatic leap into a wildly beautiful future. Beautiful future crafted with help of much beautiful human being who never fails to see goodness everywhere and believes in dreams coming to reality.

Yet sometimes, as the sun goes down, my heart fails me. I can feel my body grow grey as it trembles with every quaking heartbeat. The old fear, unused to this newer self, resurfaces, pure jealousy surfaces riddling me with doubts. I am on the verge of tears, thinking: "What have I done?". Dark mood super imposes my being. I retract to my shell vowing never to leave its secured walls till the deafening silence is unbearable.

I go on long walks and try to tame my troubled mind, with its dark and bottomless fears, using introspecting talks or music. These things invariably work. There will come a time when I won't need to trouble myself over these fears, a time where my heart won't skip and my blood won't treble in my ears at night. Until that time, I will have to bear the pains of the awakening I have begun. It was, after all, the very thing I desired. It is just surprising how painful it can be, at times. Why do my hands shake, sometimes for no reason at all? What is this sleeping dragon I am awakening?

What is it for? What's its destiny?

What have I done?

(Why am I speaking so cryptically?!)

It's alright though. I'm too curious to see what happens next to stop what I have begun. I guess this is what it means to be in love.
Volim Te Puno Cuppi

Sunday, February 8, 2009

In the name of GOD

She silently begged him to stop but he was so full of the wrath of his God that he did not hear her timid cries. So intent was he in putting his mark on her that he could not see the scars forming on her soul, wounds that would never heal. He sucked her tender mouth with a driven ferocity, almost trying to inhale all of her at once. His clammy hands slid down her young body, trying to grab as much of it as he could. He grasped her flat, unformed chest where even the first signs of womanhood had not yet begun to appear. The unformed breasts inside her body began to hurt painfully, a hurt that would last a lifetime. His arms had her body trapped even though she never stood a chance in the first place. Her tiny frame was no match for his bulky hulk. She clenched her eyes tightly shut throughout the ordeal so as not to see the lust-driven, monstrous face in front of her that was almost succeeding in devouring her whole like the mythical dragons in her book of bedtime stories. “I hope you don’t mind the manner in which I love you” he said between his lust shortened breaths; “it’s just that I miss my grand-daughter so much and you look just like her”. And with the picture of his grand-daughter in his mind and the little girl’s tender face between his ruthless palms, he would suck her mouth with renewed vigor, pinching her body wherever his hands rested.

When she did open her eyes in between, she could see the dead, indifferent Gods figure hanging on the wall in front of her. How she silently, desperately begged the same God to weave a miracle and make the monster stop hurting her... but sweet God was dead, he did not care. The preacher, to whom she went everyday after school for an hour, was a friend of her parents and had volunteered to teach her all about God. She could not remember how long this had been going on; a long time she guessed since she had been coming to this little room in the back for quite some now; to learn about God you see. She didn’t remember each episode but she was certain her memory was failing her; or perhaps saving her. She sensed that this was not the first time. She never told anyone, not a single soul. God told her not to. And when God tells you not to do something, you simply do not do it or else you could get into serious trouble, trouble that would mean very bad things would happen to you; your best friend could die or your parents might stop loving you or God would make sure that the heavens never opened their door for you and then you would be stuck here on earth long after everyone you loved or ever would love was long gone and when your time finally comes its only hell for you... So she kept quiet... She didn’t say anything.

Today was the last day she came to learn about God; the monster just wouldn’t let her go no matter how hard she tried to escape his grip. He bit her; mouth, chest, whatever he could lay his hands on until he had bitten the last of his lust out... He then patted her on the head in a paternal fashion and said: “You are truly such a wonderful girl. God is very, very happy with you. You don’t even need to come here anymore my darling. I am getting a new little girl tomorrow and I will have to spend all my spare time teaching her what I taught you. Besides, you have already learnt all there is to learn about God Almighty. Just keep remembering and do not forget anything I taught you.” Oh she wouldn’t forget she knew; that she couldn’t forget she didn’t know then. She ran past the monster, past the unopened, dust laden Holy Book, past the dead, mute, uncaring Gods grasp, out of the cold, stone structure where no prayers were heard, no timid cries answered. She ran out into the open and standing there under the endless blue sky, she spat with all her might. Spat the monster out of her mouth. She spat, spat, spat. She spat at the holy man and at God; the God trapped within her and the one, supposedly everywhere, all around us, the one who can see everything, who stood by silently and watched her soul lose the sense of direction to any road that might ever lead her back to Him. It was her birthday. She had turned eight that day; the day she stopped believing in God; the God who lost her in His all-seeing silence.

At home, when her mother asked her why her lip bled and why there were bruises on her arms, she said she stumbled on a stone on her way back home.
Her Mother sighed “God help me with this child.”