Friday, December 23, 2005

Faith is to not know

Uma Thurman: “What do you know for sure?”

Meryl Streep: "I know life is short and I'm a lucky woman. I think that you find your own way. You have your own rules. You have your own understanding of yourself, and that's what you're going to count on. In the end, it's what feels right to you. Not what your mother told you. Not what some actress told you. Not what anybody else told you but the still, small voice. … Beyond that, I don't know. And it's the not knowing that's the good part. To me, mystery is the most beautiful thing—the fact that you can't figure it out—that's it for me. That's for sure."

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Four Agreements

Before I forget to note them, here are the four agreements that Toltec wisdom taught the humankind to make:

The First Agreement: Be impeccable with your word.
The Second Agreement: Don’t take anything personally.
The Third Agreement: Don’t make assumptions.
The Fourth Agreement: Always do your best.

From the book The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz. Anybody read it? I want a copy tonight!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Images of beauty

‘The beauty is everywhere around you,’ said the calm voice, ‘but you cannot see!’

While searching for the meaning and the source of beauty, I saw a dream earlier this year (2005).

In my dream, I saw that my home was redone in a Kashmiri style. There were wooden carved windows and a balcony added. In amazement, I flew back to look at my home from a distance. And then I turned and beheld an amazing sight!

My neighbor’s home, I saw, was even more stunning with an etched metal roof styled in the Shangri-La fashion. There was now a tiny lake in the vast veranda of the house, which has three gondolas or shikaras – traditional Viennese and Kashmiri boats, respectively. They, too, were carved exquisitely. One of them looked like an intricate khussa.

I flew father still and saw what used to be the drab house on the corner. This house had the most remarkable make-over: it looked like a gazebo, once again all metal. The top roof was like the crown of a pomegranate upside down. Detailed etching adorned the metallic canopy.

In the unfocused expanse of my vision, I could see that the entire landscape was re-done, re-discovered, and glowing under its new beauty. I could no longer take in that utter beauty without letting out a squeal of joy. In my dream, I heard my voice remarking: ‘I never knew that my mohallah’s houses were so beautiful!’

And then, clear as ever, the voice which had been showing me images of beauty in the past many dreams replied, ‘The beauty is everywhere around you,’ it said in the ever-deep, ever-even tone, ‘but you cannot see!’

I woke up. I woke up from the dream, and I woke up in my life. I opened my eyes and I saw.

Life has never looked the same since.

Monday, November 07, 2005


From New York Times,* "What's a Modern Girl to Do?"

By the time you swear you're his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying -
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.
-Dorothy Parker

* Subscription required

Thursday, November 03, 2005

*~* wish upon a star *~*

Part the first
Part the second: wish upon a star!

Some feelings about this awe-inspiring creation of God known as the sky are universal. Particularly, if one looks up at the dark blue blueness of the night. There is something very reflective and enveloping about the curved design of the Heavens - and as many minds have wondered, it may indeed be reflecting some of what we have on Earth, but may not yet have seen? After all, the moon and the stars have been there forever - with respect to a human's ordinary time horizon - and surely they must have seen and known much more? Besides, they are all over the Earth, they travel it, they envelope it, they go round and round seeing everything...

So why not tell me, oh sky, have you seen my like?

Surely, as my thought reflects back on me, having left me, having touched you and then drifted back to me with secrets and answers - somewhere must reflect myself. Can you mirror me, oh majestic sky? And return me to me, with more wisdom, knowledge of eternal secrets, and a sense of endless joy?

Surely, oh wise sky, you have seen my like! There is a sense of knowledge and knowing when I look up at you... as if I have seen this life before, waiting to be spread on Space with Time unfurls... Surely my life has been before, or has been, and waiting to BE for me... there is this sense of duplicity in everything, and very close to it the sense of twin-ness. Certainly, just as my life has been, and I live it once again, there is also duplicity of another kind a duplication of me, and you, oh sky, have been keeping it from me!

When I am with my little friends, I tell them - and oh, they echo my feeling as their own - that I know I cannot be one of a kind. There is another, certainly another, perhaps in another world, on another Earth, somewhere, somewhere who is exactly like myself.

"Do you know," I asked my companion-of-childhood Saba, "that when I just gazed up at that sky, someone else, who is just-like-me, in fact me, in fact may be I am that person who I am thinking about because if they are exactly like me, then they are me...," I got breathless, wide-eyed.
Saba remained quite in her wisdom, with an "I know." arranged on her clear face.

"So," I resumed, "do you know, when I just gazed up at the sky, that person did too!?"


Yes, of course. We all knew that secret.
Saba, and Mani, and I. The precocious philosophers who knew that everything which only a child can, and somehow able to preserve that precious knowledge through the adolescent and adult years. But this is the wandering of a wondering mind!

It was a secret we knew with the seriousness of the child who had the opportunity to lie under the sky, and the faculty of wonder to probe it. And along came Age, and no longer were we privileged to have that peek into heavenly secrets, to converse with the stars, and search for a reflection of our souls under the umbrella of the night sky.


Many years have passed since. Not a moment for the eternal sky, but certainly a useful lifetime for a child who matured and seasoned over time. The sky changed for the adults, but it all must have remained the same over the years, with stars falling over in its vast expanses.

When we were children, we did not know about this wishing-upon-a-star business, but you know, a child's heart if so full of wishes, ever, and particularly when it yearns to know, know, and find. While we watched so many stars break into a glorious trail over our heads, we must have been wishing. Of eternal things, such as learning about the Beginning and the End, and more specifically - of more earthly things such as: WHO is that other me? WHERE is that other me? ? ? ?


"When I was a small boy, I used to think, yaar! There must be someone like me in this world!" he said, his starry eyes fixed on mine.

"Um-hmm," I gestured him to go on.

"Do you know what I used to think?"


"You'll think it's crazy, but even as a child, I used to think, ya Allah! There must be someone like me. Will I ever find her? How will I find her? Will I find her when I am really old?"

"Um-hmm. Yes?"

"But you know, I was sure. I will find her." He paused, and looked into my eyes in that affectionate, amused way - and in that instance, I had seen a reflection of myself, a knowledge of all things there, a gateway to reality in those gentle eyes. We remained silent awhile as he held warmly onto my hand.

"Hmmm." I finally murmured. "I know. I always did know. I wished for you too. I knew someday I would find you - find my soul, if I searched hard enough...?" I looked at our hands, with their destinies inter-twined and sighed. " I had once wished you upon a star!"

...a star broke on the sky

Looking up at the sky today reminded me of something I wrote early last year. It is part of the memory of the Universe now. One day, when someone captures the sounds of the Universe Past, he will hear the quiet whispers of this tale. It is, as of now, no more. It was, when it began, to not be in the sounds of the Universe-to-Reveal.

Part the first: a star broke on the sky

when we were younger, there used to more stars on the sky than there are now.

we were also luckier to have more of the skies than we can have today: one could actually see the horizon curve at the ends, and there were more shapes and patterns for a child of four to find than John Nash ever could.

in sultry, warm nights - which were sometimes breezy if the day had been particularly warm - we slept on neatly arranged charpoys on the roof. When the cool air finally lulled everyone to sleep, and all existence was quiet except for the
occasional restless bat that flew over evoking imageries of wicked fairytale characters, a child used to rise from her
affected sleep, and indulge in that primordial human fascination: of staring, searching, probing into space.

the best first thing a human mind can do is to observe, to follow closely by wonder - and then question. In questions are their
answers, and they reveal over Space when Time so intends. And so she observed with wonder.

there are amazing wonders in the skies, particularly if one's mind isn't self-assumed all-knowing, the heart isn't heavy with some faceless, unrelated grief, and the conscience is only concerned with childish misdoings.

to the child's mind rose many images, questions, answers... besides, in a sky so vast there is always a marvel waiting to
reveal itself to the curious. Mostly, it takes the form of a broken star; for which the child had a constant amazement. A star! A shooting star! ... Only at those times it was more often construed as something to do with the image of the Snow Queen she had seen in a story, etched forever on memory...

a mind which wonders is a mind that wanders, in a beatific idleness. the beauty of a blue, blue night cannot be caught, much less the secret feelings it arises in the hearts and minds of the amused young.

"Where has this world come from?"

"Am I part of this, or is this in some way separate from me?"

"How many stars are there in this constellation?"

"What if I die, do I go up there?"

And then the occasional childlike: "Do fairies really descend in the night, and put that toffee under my head? Why not ice-cream? Fairies can do everything!"

My aunt, for one, had no answers - only a look of bewilderment. "Do not talk like that, your mind will go insane!" She would say in horror.

"You do not know the answer? I read in a book..." and those 'overage' books would be hidden that evening, locked for good by those who could neither manage o answer the question they led to, nor realize a mind needs no answer other than those of the questions it asks itself, nor understand that a mind that seeks will seek... for that one needs no books but an endless blue sky with a ceaseless variety of wonders....

Have you seen...?

Chaand mubarak! Eid mubarak!

Hmmm. I just went out and looked for the crescent. I found Mars in its tiny dazzling glory. Wherever the Moon was, though, it saw me. And it sees the whole Earth. I had to ask a few things of the Moon, I had to ask if it sees…

Well. I know it sees me. And it sees… it sees the Earth. All of it. Every one on it.

Now, you are nowhere to be spotted on the sky, oh Chaand! What else do I say?

I said a quiet prayer, and came back in.

Equipped to help

And then, I will be off to Islamabad > Abbottabad > wherever I am needed. The digital camera, and the MP3 player+FM+recorder will be used to capture images and sounds to be dispatched to the interested. With the few heaps of make-up that I’ve bought, I intend to look pretty when I help around (who wants to look at a sad volunteer? Cheer up time!).

The PDA phone will be used to organize tasks and contacts. I can no longer afford the slippery-balled Ericsson which keeps misdialing numbers and embarrassing me.

I also thought a little forward, and took yoga training from yogi Anees. He taught me to toughen up the back for the trek and reduce the general strain.

Ah. I love being an equipped techie!

My Eid this year

Tomorrow is Eid. And I couldn’t decide: should I remember someone else’s pain, or forget mine?

After deliberation, I decided to celebrate Eid. I have also done quite a few other things that I hadn’t done in a life time. I acted like there’s no tomorrow. For the first time

  • I bought make-up worth a few thousand rupees in a go

  • I got an Eid dress tailored by a personal designer. It is a beautiful embroided ferozi silk

  • I bought (finally, having got over my sloth) a digital camera

  • I stole my brother’s iRiver MP3 player + recorder. My oldest passion is a tiny recorder. Did I tell you that there is a journalist/ reporter/ on-the-go thinker/ technophile/ spy somewhere in me?

  • I am buying a Siemens PDA phone

  • I am wearing henna and bangles with my new dress tomorrow, inshaAllah. I don’t care if I look pretty in a sad time

  • I am going to a friend’s wedding in Peshawar to have fun. Have fun! And from the merry moments of marriage, I will fly to a sad land to help the people I care about

  • I began all the statements above with an I, I, I. I matter.

Somewhere inside, my conscience keeps telling me I have gone crazy. It is conscience, or some in-built mommy voice with automatic activation? I told my conscience I am not interfering with myself anymore. Like a needle in a compass once displaced by force, I had lost my real bearings for a long time. I will let myself swing free for some time until I settle. Eid Mubarak.

Monday, October 31, 2005

I just don't get enough of You!

Can you believe it!? How Cute, Cute, Cute, Loving and Tender-hearted Allah is!

Two days ago, I woke up real late after Sehri. Cursed my sloth. As I brushed my teeth, I wondered if I had any chicken curry all this Ramadan? No? Why not? I deserve to eat chicken curry.

Something told me I was being ungrateful. Something also told me to go ahead and ask anyway. So I did.

Five minutes later, I found chicken curry in the fridge. Lots of it, which is a rarity in our home after three men have feasted during Sehri.

Last Wednesday, I called a caring friend in a holy land. He was also very busy, but Something told me, I can push. I requested him to perform a pilgrimage for me, and pray for my forgiveness. He would, he said, but I knew it’d take him time. It was urgent! I wish I could fly myself!

Surely, the One who hears can manage to do things faster. He heard.

Today, I got a message from M. T., my dear, dear old pal. The message read:
Salaam. Today, here at umra. In Madina Paak. You and your family members are being remembered in prayers. May Allah bless all of us.

In a few days, InshaAllah, I will also get a dedicated Umra, just for me.

Meray Allah Mian kitnay Cute Cute Cute hain! :-*

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Things I hate today:

  1. Being sick for over a week; falling sicker over nasty stuff and not doing my work.

  2. Writing two mazaidaar posts today, and losing them. Thanks to a rare Mozilla Firefox breakdown. And these were the best I wrote in months. Photos included. Don’t we hate losing work this way? Back to paper and pencil, is that where I should go?

  3. Not doing my work. Enough of wimpi-ness. Back!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I have promises to keep

What would we do without the few good poets of the world, who wrote poems that stir our hearts and inspire our characters?

Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is one such poem. I was just unconsciously humming its last lines when I realized how many, many people has it inspired. How many have gone on to fulfill their promises, spurred by the simple strength of the message of these lines.

The poem are the words of a postman. The postman, once unaided by computer-enabled "logistic systems," was a symbol of dutifulness and character. And of course he brought those personal letters that many waited for to hear from their loved ones. He had to but go on, no matter what the weather. Here are the words to this famous poem:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

I dedicate these lines to those who wait for me to deliver my promises; you are my strength. Our world will, one day, be better. Seven years! Give it seven years!

I direct this as an answer to those who sap everyone's energy and expect them to fall so they may never fulfill a worthy promise. Envious, weak, energy-sapping black-holish ill wishers. You know who you are. My world is all the better without you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Three men's prayers

Met Insi tonight. She listened to the many things I had to say. Why won’t I ever thank God? Thank God for Insi and other people who give me love? Just simple, blank, Thank God?

Alhamdolillah. I am beginning to see You. In the many ways in which You manifest. You are The Matrix.

I told Insi I will take things. Take them as they come. I told her of the many stories that relate to my life as of now. The stories of three Prophets.

I told her that I think of the story of Prophet Is’a [Jesus], peace be upon him. He cried in the prison cell before he was lifted to the skies to be sent again. He cried, and perhaps the words are: “Ilahi! Why have You forsaken me?”

And my heart echoes in anguish the prayer of God’s messenger: Why have You forsaken me!?

And I told Insi that in the depth of darkness, I cry out the prayer of Prophet Yunus [Jonah], peace be upon him, who left his duty in frustration before God him ordained. By God’s command, a fish swallowed Yunus and in its dark, wet envelope he remained for forty nights until God heard his prayer. From the depth of the darkness of the ocean and the fish’s bowels, so had cried Yunus:

“La ilaha illah anta subhanaka; inni kunto minaz-zalimin!”

"There is no God but You, Allah, and all praise returns to You; (indeed) I have wronged my Self!"*

And have you heard the story of Prophet Zakariya [Zecharia], peace be upon him? (Actually, I mis-narrated and made it the story of Yahya, John, peace be upon him.) When persecuted by a bloodthirsty mob, Zakariya reached a tree. In desperation, he asked the tree for refuge. The tree opened and enveloped Zakariya in its trunk. It is said the hem of his cloak protruded from the tree, to which the Devil brought the mob’s attention. What is not said so often is that the hem was left out beckoning on God’s command.

God said to Zakariya, “Why did you ask the tree for refuge, when I am the One who gives refuge to all? So stay quiet, as they kill you, if you are to remain a Prophet (and not be reduced to the ranks of ordinary men who pray to things for help).” So silenced Zakariya and became he quiet, until the tree was halved by the Israelites.

I told Insi what I feel.

Ilahi has not forsaken me. I did zulm on my Self. I feel, in my heart, I should stay quiet as Zakariya and endure this. Until it over. Until it is over.

* The precise words are “zulm on self.” Hurt my self; given pain to myself. I find no adequate translation for the concept of “zulm.”

Saturday, October 22, 2005

You built this city!

No, I don’t feel angry. I feel okay. In the larger scheme of things, all this is okay. Really.

God’s not the only one with the sense of Justice and Fairness. If I retain a bit of dignity, God, I have a sense of justice and fairness, too. So I’ll tell You this. It’s okay. You know when I built my house I never really said, “Thank You!” I said I built my house, and for anyone who cares to listen, here’s how and what I saved. They should invest in this place at that percent return too. And oh, I didn’t notice that You say, in your scheme of things, there is no space for profit on money. And other little things. They accumulate over time, aye, I heard that somewhere, but what care do I?

I don’t account for little things that accumulate.

You do.

And I didn’t care. But I see now.

And so I have a little dignity. And a little justice and fairness. So it’s okay, God. I don’t feel angry. I’m okay. And I’m sorry I never really said, “Thank You! You built this home, and You will take it down.” Sorry. Really.

I laughed this morning

I got up this morning and started to laugh. A full, deep, long laugh over an imaginary retaliation to a real stupid comment someone made. I heard my mind utter one of those sharp witty insults that I sometimes lash out at idiots. I told that guy, “You have the simple-mindedness of the only mullah of a parochial village with a population of 50!”

In response to the silly comment that guy made – about not asking for donations for EQ victims publicly because that’d be against the hadith that says one hand should not know what the other gave out (discretion) – and then his reminder of what ‘his organization,’ I just thought this line up, and laughed. No actually, I laughed when I thought I’d just record my trademark, “Baaaaaah. Very baaaaaaaahhd!” on an mp3 and send it along. That and the sound of baaaaaaaaahhhhd made me laugh.

But that’s not the point. All this is not the point. The point is that I laughed this morning. For no good reason really – a deep, silly laugh.

Bloggers meetup in Karachi

JAAG PAKISTAN is a financial support group for NGO's working on ground in the disaster area.
- To raise funds for reconstruction phase..- To raise funds for immediate direct relief for various allied NGO's working in the disaster areas.- To train volunteers to send to the affected areas for emergency relief and works.
JAAG PAKISTAN will be an open forum for all to contribute towards the relief effort. A collective platform where all organizations work together.
JAAG PAKISTAN is a transparent fund raising effort and its activities can be monitored throughout on our website.
JAAG PAKISTAN will be a continuous effort to be replicated across Pakistan and the Karachi chapter as the initiator will forward its format to like minded people across Pakistan.
JAAG PAKISTAN Karachi, has selected Hill Park as the central venue for its activities in Karachi , for its high visual prominence and accessibility.
JAAG PAKISTAN will come alive whenever there is a calamity in Pakistan.
Jaag Pakistan is also planning to have a blog meetup on their first event, which is Farid Raziuddin Qawwal - Live at Hill Park, 9pm October 22nd 2005.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

GIVEPakistan! A quake relief fund

There are thousands of people under the rubble. Mothers crying to save the bodies of their dead children from being eaten by dogs. Tons of donated goods waiting to be moved, when transport is bought. Thousands of volunteers working without stopping to eat or drink.

We can no longer say: These people SHOULD/ MUST be helped.
Say: I CAN help them.

Help Now. Donate at ANY charity of your choice. If you know or trust me, donate here to GIVEPakistan! We are organizing a ground-based relief effort. You can help. Donate. Just a little $ 5, 10, or 15. It's less than worth a good cup of coffee, but it can save someone's life NOW.

Don't wait. ACT. More details at


Note: Copied this post from NEXT> by Ramla. This fund is endorsed by me!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Earthquake precautions

Original link found at Lahore Metblogs. Please send to friends!

Earthquake precautions

Pakistan earthquakes: HELP!

Here is a post that I am copying from Lahore Metblog in good faith to spread the message:

As the death toll rises to 18000 and more than 40000 injured, fears are that it could rise even more. The victims of devastating earthquake desperately need our help. Please react quickly and generously. Don’t forget it could be me or you too.

People living in Pakistan can donate cash, packed food (wheat and rice for example), blankets, winter clothes (since it’s really cold in northern Pakistan) and any other thing which you think can be useful. People from abroad are may send cash donations since it’s the best way to help.

An Emergency Coordination Centre has been set up in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will be manned 24 hours. For any information, the officers on duty can be contacted at duty room: Telephone: 0092-51-9207663; Fax: 0092-51-9224205, 9224206 & 9205571. Just call in or fax and check how you can help.

You can also send in donations through Mir Khalil Ur Rehman Foundation ( It’s the charity organization of largest News Paper Group in Pakistan (Jang Group:
United Bank Account No: 0102598-5 (for international transfers also give in Swift Code: UNILPKKA)

Please click on the ads on this site to generate funds for the earthquake hit areas in Pakistan. [Note by TheProphetess: Practice not endorsed.]

You can also contact Pakistani Embassy in your country for information and help.

Faith & the Hill

Excerpt from an e-mail to a dear old friend, who has been a great listener of my life's stories over the years:

Btw, there is an athletic ritual called "Sa'ee" in Umra (in Masjid-e-haraam, Makkah). Sa'ee means "effort, endeavor" in Arabic and Urdu. It's a 3.15 km run between two hills, now paved with marble. So one actually paces up and down an air-conditioned gallery 7 times from the hill Safa to hill Marwa. It is to commemorate Hajra's run b/w the 2 hills for the search of water and food for Ismael.

It's a tough run after other Umra rituals. While I was doing it a second time in 3 days, I just gave up after the second round. My right foot is bent inwards due years of back injury and strain. I almost thought of the wheel chair rides that are available. (The ritual is a must, of course. And one can't quit in the middle and go home, though we can rest as long as we want anywhere on the route and on the two hills, now covered with air-conditioned domes.) I sat down at Safa the first hill and cried. You can cry without shame in that place. People don't really notice. And they think you're crying for the love of God. You know. I cried because I felt very disabled. Then I realized the Hajra didn’t run here in Nike runners, in an air-conditioned gallery.

That's when the lesson of that ritual was clear to me: MAKE AN EFFORT. The story goes that Hajra's effort was rewarded by the miracle of the issuance of water from between the hills - now known as the Water of Zamzam. So after a half hour of crying and massaging my feet and back, I got up and walked. I just then remembered something I read in 7 Habits: that just after an athlete has reached the limit of pain, s/he is rewarded with a tremendous release of energy that compensates for that muscle ache. I gave it a try. I limped. It is ugly to have to limp when you're so young - and it's hard when the pain is just jolt-jolt-jolting through the body. (I guess no one can know a backache and a headache until they have one.)

Then I noticed an old Pakistan man, around 70, pushing his wife on a wheel chair. And I noticed many other people. And I visualized these mountains, 1000s of years ago, naked, hot, scorched. And I imagined I am running between them barefoot, looking for water. (I passed up the temptation of the many sprays and coolers of Zamzam that line the corridor.)

It was stunning the effect that visualization had on me. Suddenly, my pain was much, much easier. My feet were actually thankful. (The entire Umra is done barefoot.) I also felt that making an effort is something that comes with, well, effort. I realized that I have so many gifts, as a person and not just socially, that hardly anything has been an effort for ME - though it might have awed others. It was time, finally, to test my character.

There are seven rounds to be made between the two hills, and the total walk is 3.15 km according to one estimate. I had an unbearable pain by the fourth round, to the extent that my mind was blacking out. But I held on to Stephen Covey's wisdom, and my life's wisdom, if any, and the visualization of Hajra. The blacking out helped, perhaps, as I imagined a huge rock in the place of Ka'aba, and the real scene disappeared. To my memory, it still seems that I ran on bare, sun-hot rocks.

My foot was ever so slightly bent inwards, but whenever I walk fast, there is a feeling of a tight string about to break from my back to the toe, and this has prevented me from extensive walking for the past many years. By the fifth round, while I was struggling to straighten my long-bent foot by placing it firmly and evenly on the ground , something happened.

My mind was really blacking out, when I thought I had completely lost it, and the pain wasn't like THERE for a second. And suddenly, a click-click sound came. Some long-displaced bone just fell in place. My foot was okay.

Do you remember the Forrest Gump's moment-of-release from his leg braces? It just happened! My foot just fell in place! What I read in 7 habits about an actual athletic phenomenon really happened. There was suddenly a tremendous rush of energy and whatever was blocking energy (blood and oxygen to be exact and more scientific) just let go of its ugly grip.

It was one of the deepest emotional moments of my life that happened without a drum roll. It just happened, and I had no one to tell this to. I walked on. Whenever I now have an "uphill" task in front of me, I will remember the little lesson of Sa'ee and of having a little but helpful amount of faith.

A little faith in a better tomorrow makes the present a lot easier, for us and for our loved ones. :)

Warm regards...

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Persistence of Memory: Undone

This is one of the many posts in a "series" that I am going to make. If it ends or starts abruptly, look for the thread. It rolls on like a Qissa Chahaar Dervesh. This is the last post of the series, which itself is part of larger Quest & Lust.


Will you now look at Silvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory differently? I do not know what Dali thought when he painted The Persistence. But I feel that this phrase means something deep and relevant to me, and to us all who are a world apart from what they are reminiscing about, but still there, in their minds, persisting in a state in which they are no longer. Stuck in the past.

It was this persistence of what-I-no-longer-am that I did not feel while I performed my Umrah. I am above 21 and quite below the next cycle of life that begins at 28. When I let my past walk up to me and held the future back, gelling them into one present, I knew that I was ready for turning 28.

To be able to enter the next phase of my life – which, by virtue of still not being lived is more valuable than my past life with which I have no chance but the opportunity to learn lessons – with this mindset has to be the happiest, and the most beautiful moment of my life so far. Even if I do not reach that age, I will have the satisfaction of knowing that no memory persists, and I have no desire for creating a future I have no control over. I am ready to take my life as it is, in the present, in every moment. And I have the freedom to make the best of it, so that my future is consequentially beautiful.


The ways of our ancestors/ the ancestors of our ways

This is one of the many posts in a "series" that I am going to make. If it ends or starts abruptly, look for the thread. It rolls on like a Qissa Chahaar Dervesh.


A close friend or form of Fear is the Fear of Change. It is the most blatant but surprisingly prevalent form of human stupidity. In the Quran and other Scriptures, it is referred to as “the way of the ancestors.” To a casual reader it appears to be a story of people who asked wood & clay dolls (idols) to supervise their lives – and their descendents just followed the practice. This is a reductionist view, and I hope that with the now widespread interest in Islam and religion/spirituality in general, people have seen deeper already.

This isn’t merely a story of bowing to the dolls humans carved with their own hands. It is about people’s stubborn misbeliefs. What the ancestors did was their own deed. There is no balance carried down. The tragedy or the lesson of this oft-repeated notion in the Quran isn’t about doll-worship*** either. It is about how people – when they can see something sensible with their own eyes – still refuse to believe in it. Still refuse to change. It is not just following the ways of our ancestors, but the ancestors of our own ways. Ever heard that the old is the enemy of the new?****

The infinite wisdom of the Creator knew just that. Thank God, I was going to get yet another body at 21. Think about it! Another body! The construct of our being remains the same, and all the components change. Ever wonder what holds a person together when parts of our bodies are falling apart and replacing all the time and in seven years we get a new physical being? What remains the same then? Our minds. Our hearts. Our souls.

*** "Idol" is a much wider term than “doll,” which is more suitable in this context. Idol is more psychological. Dolls mean a lot to those who worship to them, but it’s easier in the case of a physical idol (doll) to step back and see the uselessness of it. Intangible idols are much tougher cookies. (And I am not "politically correct" - which is a phrase serving the prime example of the distortion of fairness through coercive language.)

**** It might be a surprise that I have gained deeper insight into this matter from business literature, specifically the writings of Tom Peters. His book Re-Imagine! is about destroying the old ways to always, persistently create new methods. I do not have a complete round-up on Tom’s philosophy, and I may not agree with him 100%, yet on deeper level I agree with his basic notion: stop living the ways of the past and create your own today! And TOMorrow :).


Body: Reloaded

This is one of the many posts in a "series" that I am going to make. If it ends or starts abruptly, look for the thread. It rolls on like a Qissa Chahaar Dervesh.


I turned 14 and got a new body. Life changed in many ways after that, and so did I. I had remarkably good beliefs since I was a child and an outlook that I didn’t find among my peers. I had a lot of intelligence and wisdom, but most of it was natural and untested. I am not proud to say that it was tested through my own will. If I had my wish now, and if I were wise enough then, I wouldn’t put to test what I knew was a good thing. Who would smash a glass of resilient crystal to test how strong it is? I did.

But I never regretted. After all, in the grand scheme of things, it was to be, and I knew it. (Quite simply, whatever is to be is in the natural inclination of each person. Resistance is futile!) There is a fake belief, and a real belief, and I felt that mine won’t be real until I see the “Dark Side.” So I paid a tour to the Dark Side. There I saw many, many things. I saw Envy, and Lust, and Greed. I saw Vanity, which seduced me for a long time because I thought it was going to last. I saw Fear, which is the thing my nature hates most. I don’t think anything in the history of Mankind killed as many good intentions and produced hurried bad actions as did Fear. Complete, irrational, stupid fear.


Sacred 7even

This is one of the many posts in a "series" that I am going to make. If it ends or starts abruptly, look for the thread. It rolls on like a Qissa Chahaar Dervesh.


Speaking of phases of life, did you know why 7 is a sacred number? I figured out. I learnt a long time ago that in seven years, every cell of the body is replaced. You get a new body in seven years. Early this year, a fortune-teller* told me that the hand lines change every seven years, too.** I understood it was because we get a new body. And if there is any truth to the destiny lines – and I think there is, but they are only a distraction – then the destiny changes with the change in body too. Every seven years.

Also, if you notice, every seven days give a person a complete cycle to discharge any variety of regular duties. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey called a week the best planning unit as against a day. It’s longer than a day, and gives freedom of adjustment. And it’s shorter than a month or a year, and forces action. (I see this para has some potential for a voodooish pass-around email on the powers of 7. I plead respect.)

I was around 12 when I discovered the piece of information about the reloaded body, and I couldn’t wait to turn 14. That would give me an entirely “clean” body, a tabula rasa. Then, I thought, whatever I consider to be my life will only be a part of my head, my imagination. I could control that. My body would literally be a new body. As for the soul, I knew that the soul does not get contaminated. It is some other layer of us that is spoilt. At any rate, it was harder to salvage a body, to me, than to salvage a soul – over which a person has his or her own control. The body can be enslaved by others, but neither the heart nor the soul. On this lasting freedom, I have forever based my optimism, hope, and faith.

* May I just suggest that do not be influenced by this writing enough to consult a fortune-teller. Ever. I will never, ever do that again. I warn that whatever the fortune-tellers say, comes true. And their art and science isn’t perfect. So do not think that the fortune-teller knows what will happen. But if they say something will happen, it will happen because they said so. Life is short; do something else. Stay away from these people.

** If you really need to look into future, consult a wise man or woman who is above the age of sixty. After the age of sixty, it is said, there can be no way that a person hasn’t received the message of God. People will not be forgiven at all if they make the excuse, “But I never knew!” after this landmark age. I take it to imply that by the time a good person reaches 60, they have een enough and seen it all (as far as they are concerned). A good person of this age would *know*. Consult them without fear, but know that it is upto you to realize their words. Remember the Oracle of Delphi? And the character Oracle in The Matrix?


The most beautiful thing that happened to me

This is one of the many posts in a "series" that I am going to make. If it ends or starts abruptly, look for the thread. It rolls on like a Qissa Chahaar Dervesh.


The most beautiful thing that happened to me is the Umrah that I performed during August 8 – 16 this year (that’d be 2005). It now makes for a quick answer to the question, “What was the happiest thing in your life?” Earlier, I had to tax my memory – not because of want of a good moment, but actually because several wonderful little moments happened and most of them are intensely private. Don’t let the mind wander: many of them were between me and my God, and others between me and I.

Why is the Umrah the happiest and the most beautiful? Because for me, it was one long moment in my life when time stopped. There was no past; and no future. For a pattern-reader, this is an inexplicable joy: to be in the present. Not reading the past, not construsting the future. Just being.

It was like one of those times when you step outside the car to enter a wedding reception, but before you enter, you wait for the one driving to come and join you. And you beckon the hurried ones accompanying you to wait back, until the family have gathered to make an appearance together. The whole family, in one step, makes a “joint entrance” (for want of an un-Pakistani term).

My Umrah is the time when I have stopped, and waited for my life to catch up with me, the life that was behind me, and life that was ahead of me. This was so that I could make a smooth transition in to the next phase of my life.


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

BlogDay 2005


Expand your horizons. Get out of the "friends" room on the blogroll. Step in to the wider blogosphere. Find and list five blogs that are new to you. Diversity and difference are expected!


1/ TooMuchSexy - don't expect what you expect but get some still. New York chutzpah.
2/ The Trump Blog - "Ideas and opinions from Donald Trump and his circle of experts." From the host of wildly successful real-life business drama The Apprentice. Conventional business wisdom through an unconventional educational medium. My 5-star favorite.
3/ david blaine - Yes, the magician. Got a blog. Poof!
4/ :::::StrapYa Room::::: - A Japanese blog on cell phones accessories. Very cool stuff.
5/ Regime Change Iran - the name says it mostly. A thick news blog with daily [unconfirmed] updates.

Dropped from consideration at last minute:
Bread Coffee Chocolate Yoga - Err, do they go this together? Let's hit the blog
to find out. [link deleted]

I didn't find it appealing enough. Besides, yoga just doesn't get along with all this heavy duty eating. Ew. You'd love the Donald Trump blog I put up there instead!


How well did I do? Had you seen any of these before? I hadn't. I employed some methods to reach these blogs, and these are my top 5 picks among then many random blogs I discovered. (Actually, I lie. I kept one that I wuwed to myself. It's nothing personal, it's just business. ;))

Monday, August 29, 2005

The best of moulds

Media-neutral, solution-neutral. That was the unique point of the marketing consulting firm I started to work with. Simply, it meant: we are not an ad agency. If a brand, say Lux, came to us with a problem we would not say, “Let’s make an ad!” We would find a real solution that will solve the exact problem. May be the solution was to change the product size. May be the solution was to do more research. May be the solution was to speed up production. May be the solution was an ad. We would find out.

But we began with a plain sheet and a blank mind.

We began naked.

And then we clothed in the solution of our choice.

Just because we had no solution to begin with, we had endless solutions to choose from.

For the past couple of years, I have thought hard about this. Because a human being cannot fly like an eagle, swim like a whale, or stay suspended in the air like a humming bird – we can now do it all better than them all. We can fly across the globe (in a plane), swim deeper than a whale (in a submarine), and stay suspended in the air (in a chopper). We can climb flat rocks. We can train our throats to produce a variety of sounds or modify our voice with machines. We can amplify one human’s voice to reach across miles… Our thoughts can travel across the world in seconds through the Internet. We can change the color of our eyes with contact lenses. We can dye our hair. We can put on fur coats or sheer muslin tunics. We can walk through fire and stand close to live volcanoes. We can cook an amazing variety of dishes.

We can do all this because we couldn’t do it all when we were born.

Out of our handicap, arises our ability. In having nothing, we have a choice to have anything, within our resources and context.  

We have a naked mould. Which lets us design, choose, adapt the best of suitable moulds.

The naked, naked ape

In The Fig (Tree), chapter 95 of the Quran, appears a line:

“We have indeed created man in the best of moulds.”*

Now for a long time, it seemed to me to be a patronizing statement. Well, surely we’ve read and we know that human beings are on the top rung of all creatures – animate and inanimate.

We just are the best, so we don’t even have to think about it. What about homo sapiens having “the best of moulds?” The best of structures? This line, to me, is about the anatomy of humans, so, how do we have the best of structures?

For a looooong time, I have envied birds and other pretty thangs. Surely, a dancing peacock is a heavenly being (except for those feet it regrets)… and there are other absolutely flawless beauty queens in the nature. They can fly, which I so envy. Some of them can sing and do marvelous things.

Look at us. We are naked apes. We don’t even have lovely, foxy fur.  

Strangely, I have now found my answer from the world of business. We have the best of moulds because we are born as naked apes with little inherent capabilities with no multicolored feathers and honeyed throats and an inability to fly! Our handicaps make us the best!...

I never doubted the extraordinary capabilities of the mind and of the eye in particular. Countless times, I experimented how the eyes measure speeding cars and constantly feeds the info to my mind. How the body automatically stiffens up and relaxes as we get on and off from a staircase. The blessing of fever. The taste that the nose has. The many talents of the body that we use every living second of our lives.

Still I did not have a unified theory. Then the understanding came. It came, after all, from the world of business. It came, to be specific, from the evolution of advertising agencies.

* See this page for three variations of translations.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Quest & Lust

From now on, for a few posts, I am going to document an experience that I am undergoing.

My ability to prioritize has greatly diminished recently – because I am temporarily in a perceptual world where I see all things horizontally or, rather, unarranged. I want to understand the value of “things” myself and then categorize them. Meanwhile, I have to surrender my ability to rank and order. And therefore, there may be no logical order in what I write in the next few posts.

Why haven’t I been writing lately? Because the audience of Pakistani blogs (particularly this blog, anyway) are usually very young readers with impressionable minds. Most of what I experience is not suitable for sharing, especially when it is in a stage of development. I myself have a young, impressionable mind and – ah, the age-old problem of the writer! – I am often very possessive of what I write. A question would very often disturb me. I don’t have to know all the times why I feel a certain thing and why I write it. It just is.

In the past few months, I have experienced previously unknown things. And I preferred not to write about them because even I did not understand them. It would not be fair to subject my readers with just a glimpse of the vast new world of experience that I have entered. After all, what means a universe’ worth to a person is just an arrangement of delightfully literate words to others. This is not to doubt the readers’ capability to understand, but my own inability to capture what I felt. I would be presenting only shallow pictures of what is a deep experience for me – and be adding nothing to the tasteful reader’s thoughts. I could write well, but could not pull the reader into… well… my world? What a cliché!

Now, however, I feel that I can write. A little. Sigh! I have to allow myself some space. It is, after all, a quest. And a lust. By their very nature, these are processes not ends. (Wondering aloud & aside: And isn’t that the tyranny of the nature of quest and lust that they are not ends?)

So. I will now write. About a Quest. About a Lust. Somewhat fulfilled.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Destiny and Choice

Back to our favorite topic: destiny.

Have you read Victor Frankl's truism: "between stimulus and response lies the freedom to choose"? It just hit me this morning - the clear distinction between destiny and choice:
  • Stimulus is destiny.
  • Response is choice.

I then thought, "what about when we respond to the stimulus in a manner that allows us victory over its adversity, its challenge?"

I realized that victory takes us to another level with larger and more forceful stimuli acting upon and challenging us. Consider the example of business. A small firm grows to a medium-sized one. It succeeds in growing, but it also meets larger challenges. From local challenge, it graduates on to national, and then global challenge.

This is true for personal life too. Childhood is tough, there is so much to learn and there is so little freedom (or so we think!). But every subsequent phase in life is tougher than the last.

What about when we have beaten every challenge? When we are the most gifted, most successful, the top ranking? This poses a strange challenge. Suddenly, we have conquered the external stimuli. Suddenly, there is no stimulus. Nothing to fight for or against.

Why, then, live?

I rested my cup of tea, and focused on this thought: what about the gifted? What about the winners? What about someone like, say, Bill Gates whose book I just leafed through last night? What about when you are on the highest rung? What do you do to live?

...And then the dots connected. Ever heard Iqbal's couplet about Khudi (self-respect, self-actualization)? "Actualize and take thyself to such a summit that God will ask thee before thy destiny is formed, 'What doth thee wish for?'"

[Microsoft tag line: Where do you want to go today?]

You create your own stimulus when you have conquered the standard ones. This is a freedom that comes with responsibility to oneself, to one's gifts. And it is a great test. Though a few get this choice in more flagrant ways (being the world's richest man, etc.), many of us have more choice than we think. Whether we choose to exercise this freedom or not may be the strongest test of our spirit and character.

Note: Pulled this unpublished piece from amongst the drafts on December 08, 2007.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Because it's green

A' levels. Economics class. Teacher asks something about the text book. I told her I didn't want to read the book.


"Because it's green!" out came my reply. Dunno from where.

"That's the strangest reason I've heard for not studying a text book. 'It's green!'"The teacher was stunned. The class wsa stunned. And it took me about a minute to hear myself echoed off their lips. It DID sound weird.

"Because it's green"- in those three words, I revealed the most absurd reason - a prejudice against a bad ugly green color - for not reading a book. But, but. That was the color of the sickly green enamel I saw in hospitals when I was a kid. It's the color of the patients'/doctors' gowns on ER. Sick!

Anyhoo. I am sensitive to design. Now only if God blessed me with better designing skills myself. What am I thinking? I want to make this blog look bettah!

It's hot.

I am returning after a mini eternity to my lovely blog, and all I have to say is, "Ooh. May I have a glass of water please. [Pause] Er, bring me the jug."

I mean what is this? The clouds have been hogging the skies for a week, but not a drop of rain. Not in this city. Heard (and saw on TV) that Lahore's been practically flooded. I can't even imagine what a gigantic mess will Karachi be if it rains that sufficiently.

A trillion cars jam on a few decent roads would be a spectacle. This summer's War of the Worlds.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Twelve Monkeys

In the movie Twelve Monkeys, the hero (Bruce Willis) faces a strange contortion of fate. He is sent from the future to investigate & prevent a deadly viral outbreak which killed a large part of the humanity. He comes back in time, and finds himself in a looney bin. Here, he shares with his lunatic genius fellow inmate (Brad Pitt) his secret: he is from the future. He is here to investigate the story of the twelve monkeys which were the source of a virus.

Brad Pitt hooks on to that idea. As the movie unrolls, Bruce Willis discovers that it was indeed this lunatic who went on to derive the virus from the monkeys and break it loose. The irony? He got that idea from Bruce Willis' character who traveled back in time.

Isn't this the irony of foreknowledge? Of preimagining? Of knowing things that will be?

Foreknowledge is troubling. Sometimes I feel like the writer who writes a detailed script in her head. It's strange to see that script being acted out in real life, as it often does, to a great degree of accuracy.

One, it gives a thick, black feeling of surging power. Second, it makes me weak in the face of my own knowledge. There must be a control. But where? Is this knowledge a picture that realizes itself? Or do we get images of what is bound to be?

Sometimes I am very afraid of saying things that I know will happen for the fear that I am the source for initiating that idea. It is one of those twisted enigmas of life that we all deal with at some level. It is better to remain on the safe side and share not the idea.

For it makes me afraid of its realization. I think.... ugh, I will not discuss what I just thought.


Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stupid Muslim

Have I written this before? Sometimes all I wish these days is to be a stupid Muslim. You know, the kind who follows without question. What was the meaning of the word Islam again? Aye, submission. Submission without question. Total, complete submission.

Well, honestly, I've always believed in God though I sometimes fashionably call myself agnostic. I am not agnostic; I have only tried to question/ prove/ resolve the enigmas of my faith. If that looks a bit like agnosticism, it may be because it is at least far removed from stupid Muslim-ism. Which I now pine for.

You know it's very - what shall I say? - intellectual to do things like determine how the universe was born, and whether it's actually multiverse. Artists and writers also worry about parallel universes. Did the universe explode and grow itself, or was there something before it? Who could have started all this, or have we just taken a form and substance of our own? Was it evolution or creation (by the way, I think both theories are true at once)? Is there any theory which can further befuddle the whole humanity about whether there is a God and what's the God's gender?

Is Dan Brown all factual in Da Vinci Code? And whether there's actually some sort of female goddess out there? Will science bow to religion, or religion give in to science?

A whole lot of issues for the humanity.

But honestly, what will these theories - proved or unproved - do? After all, it doesn't hurt to treat your family well. Or to clear a stone away from the path of the people. Or to help the needy. Or "have faith" in the time of distress. Call it think positive. Call it thinking about the future. By another name, it's called having faith. All these things make pretty common sense.

So what care I whether the universe is expanding or shrinking?

I just want to be stupid.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


The first performance/exam at the end of the first semester of the third group of the first batch of the Academy went great, thought the audience. Even Zia Mohyeddin applauded. He pulled the group aside after the performance, and said, "Thank you!" I was glad everyone was happy and they responsded overwhelmingly positively. But, ugh, I expect much better theater. I don't know, I didn't hear myself errupting in applause inside. Very me, me, me to say this, - but I really did amazingly better theater in school more than a decade ago. Do we really decline mentally after school? Eh?

Still, I enjoyed the fact that our first endeavour was appreciated. I would have been mortified had it not turned out that good.

I was glad only that my mind was there, and intact. Thanks to memory, I remembered the good lesson, "No matter what the circumstances, you can!" After a series of strange, unsettling events one after another, I am glad that I can. I do. Actually, I enjoy the thrill of creating my own reality. Someone up there really was acting!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

This is where we'd rather be

For K.

Bicycle resting against a row of poppies; France.

Taken with thanks from meanwhile, here in france.... Thanks, Ruth/Julian!

Just when I came across this bicycle resting against a row of lovely poppies, which are perhaps my favorite flowers, we had been dreaming of a place like this - rustic, serene, and idyllic. Serendipity led me to this image, and I said, Aha! This is what I was looking for. Goose bumps of excitement erupted on my neck, and I thought, oh, this is where I'd rather be. This is where we'd rather be.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Time travel has fascinated many of us, and I am not exception. But why hadn't it crossed our mind to invite a future traveler in time back to our home, right now? Amal Dorai of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) thought of just that.

He's invited any one from the future to a Time Traveler Convention - if they have a cure for cancer, a home on Mars, or anything to prove they really are back from the future!

Location: MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) East Campus Courtyard (42:21:36.025 degrees north, 71:05:16.332 degrees west)
Date: Saturday, May 07, 2005
Time: 10 P.M. sharp for the time travelers

I can't wait to hear about any guest who turns up!

Note: First published on NEXT> by Ramla.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Square 1

One ends up where one begins. I am happy to have done it sooner than later. Unable to stay away from my love for education, non-profit sector, and IT - I am back to doing what I love best: beign an independent citizen of the world who indulges in the trends of her times. After working out a new work arrangement at my office, I am freer to get more involved with my real passions.

  • * Going to teach entrepreneurship at a local university! I put my foot down on this one when there was the slightest of chance I'd be steered away to another cource. In retrospect, I hear myself building an absolutely convincing case of why should I teach this course - and how well could I do it. Reminds me, one does best what one does with passion. Golden rule for work!
  • * Have rekindled my participation in the non-profit organizations I work for/ with/ in. I've found a couple of real cool non-profit portals. TakingITGlobal is one of them.
  • * Building up a website of my own. Eventually, and very soon so, it will be a people's website. It's going to be about art, culture, and media. There is a very rough front page that I have put up - in the process of gathering resources and working on it. Now that I have the freedom to!
  • * Going to read up Seven Habits - and finish it! And implement the best of it!
  • * Doing my writing work. I have to get organized to get better productivity out of me. See above!

Yes, what time is the clock showing right now? Thank God for things small and big. I am going to hit the sack now. Thank God for the sack (actually I sleep on the floor, but thank God for choice still!).


Hmmm. The SMS's, emails, phone calls, curses on social network - wait! virtual social networks - are all going unattended. I know I haven't responded. I am taking my time off.

The only real joy in the world is watching myself metamorphose. Other, lesser, joys are watching BBC Food and inventing my own recipes in a moment of inspiration.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The portrait of a young woman as an idealist

She knows the value of everything, and the price of nothing!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Theme for American Idol

Ok, yeah. I am a reality TV fan. And I'm going to talk about American Idol. (Quest for beauty!?)

So what is it with American Idol's loser loose themes? From the millennium till 2005! I mean who ever says the M word now? It's ohhhld! So Y2K!

May 8 is round the corner. It's Mother's Day. The Tuesday after, contestants may sing on the theme MOTHER. Fine, just a bit better than lame with two legs, this is a theme! Or at least this is how a theme can make sense!

We see why the producers want to keep AI themes broad, catering to diversity which is what AI4 seems all about. We thought of broad themes last time Jon Stevens was struggling with - hell! - every genre, but from Y2K to 2005!!!

Give them FREEDOM.
These sound like themes. (Readers, chip in!)

Anything that sounds better than, "songs from the year you were born in!" Shite, thoughtless American Idol producer! Busy shooting commercials and huddling with the lawyers, eh!?

Puh-leeze! There is a difference between AI and Antakshari!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Did it!

Finally, finally, finally, I overcame a great reluctance - and did something I ought to have done a long time ago.

Wow. I am feeling absolutely calm, and free. And I am getting my single-minded focus back again.

The world is my oyster?


Damn. Watching the American Idols sing last night made me sure of two things. Scott is going to get a ton load of votes despite the absolute determination of judges to get him kicked out. One, I thought he sang a song that connected him well with me, for the first time. He was who he was. Then, whenever the smart-ass judges unanomously turn against someone, the votes turn in the favor of the poor chap.

Poor chap no more!

Second, I had a nasty feeling that either Constantine or Carrie are going to see the door. Trouble with Carrie is that even if she took a steep plunge, she still had a high rating to start with. And I have a feeling she will NOT make it to the final. She has taken a dip. And she seems to be losing stamina

Constantine, however, wasn't good. As the reviews said of the earlier episodes and after his "shocking dismissal", he had begun to "act", not "be".

Scott earned my respect for the first time yesterday. Seeing him sing "Dance with my father," I realized that news say this man has been through a lot and he's struggling to keep his chin up. Last night, I would have voted for him. At least he won my respect.

Antony was also "safe".

Way forward: Carrie must watch out. Somehow all the singers are blurring the distinction line, perhaps because of too broad, too unfocused themes. I don't see anyone standing out or trying hard enough. Ironically, it is the "bottom three" who are trying: Antony, Scott, Vonzell.

The themes need to get more specific. And if the judges want Scott out (seems unfair now, I really am beginning to appreciate his genuineness), they must PRAISE HIM.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Pleasure Principle.

The pleasure principle of blogging states that if/when the blog starts pleasing an audience, it must commit suicide.

I did this with my last diary, and I have half a mind to put the principle in action here too. I no longer want to write - because what I have to write is not what I have to share too. I cannot explain. But I realize that tetrachotomies are painful to sustain. There is a conflict between what I really think, the life I live, what I want to write about, and what I actually end up writing.

I hate this. I hate this and all other dilemmas of life. I hate the fact that I am unable to take the slightest of decisions. I am lost in the jungle of what I want, what I may have, what I cannot have, what I should not have, what I can have if I desire it enough - and whether it's the wrong fucking jungle after all.

Fuck you. Fuck this diary. And since when did I start using the word diary anyway? I always hated this, as I hated jokers.

I do not want to write.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Ramla the doll!

Can you buh-lieve it! I have been honored by a doll made in my name. Aye, a doll Ramla has been created in my honor. Thank you, thank you. But did they have to do her up in a Sawahili fashion?? I will bring this up in our next meeting with the doll-makers, or I am walking over to Mattel! :P

P.S. I was interviewed by a group of documentary-makers yesterday. And it took me a while, as usual, to explain my name. I was like, "Ramla - as in the Palestinian-Isreali Ramla! R-A-M-L-A, Ramla! It means the Prophetess in Sawahili!" I quickly came to, anyway, and realized it wasn't a documentary about the etymological roots of my name. But hey!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I am not ibqqz


Great men

With the permission of the greatest guy in my world, I am going to blog about some other great guys!

Constantine MaroulisConstantine MaroulisFirst up on my list is the Constantly Cute Constantine. Yup, that's the guy I think should be the next American Idol. No one else really matters to me! (And I still can't recall who he reminds me of, but I am afraid it was a girl. Anyway.)

I have found Constantine's "astonishing" rendering of Bohemian Rhapsody
here. Thanks to, we American Idol fans can play it again! Previously, I found Fantasia's equally marvelous performance of What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? on Search up the archives. It's awesome! I have saved that song up for a special occassion, and once you listen to it, you'd know why.

What are you doing the rest of your life?

^) & (^) & (^) & (^) & (^) & (^) & (^
Second. Leonardo da Vinci - the man who's inspired my thinking in a major way. I can mirror-write, write with both hands - and that's the least of what I emulate in Leo. Though he is not who I picked my strange habits from, I am certain he influenced the general literature which inspired me to experiment with the many strange things we can experience with our many senses.

Last fall, on a very special day someone very special gave me a book about Leo that I keep by my bedside. The book's titled How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. It's a practical guide on how to think like the master thinker and inventor Leonardo, and I found some of the stuff useful in my acting classes too. The key thing is about opening up to the eternal now. It's a special gift - and for sentimental as well as logical reasons (how could a Leo fan have it any just one way?) I keep it by my side when I sleep.

Today, April 15, is Leo's birthday. Thanks to the fantastic
Google that never forgets to put up an image for special days, I have remembered to blog this! Google's day theme for Leonardo da Vinci's birthday (April 15)


But I did foGoogle celebrates Van Gogh Birthday, March 31rget to blog Vincent Van Gogh's birthday. Once again, it was Google that reminded me. As I wrote
earlier, I was a great admirer of van Gogh after whom I have named my blog A Lust for Life. I have, however, distance from him lately because I do not want to make personal heroes of those who died at their own hands. Having said that, I am finding myself falling in love all over again with the post-Impressionist genius.

Lately, my (amateur t-mobile) photography has been inspired by him and other post-impressionst painters. One day, will share my photographic adventures on the pages of Quest & Lust.

Guess what. My mother expected me to sleep well and early. How can I lust for life if I stay up so late each night? This is certainly going the way of van Gogh. (I am afraid I can sound only this sophisticated at this hour. Bring in my admiree # 4, Freud.)

Got to go! These men rule, as well as the men without whose support I would not be taking this much interest in my life. (Father, brothers, uncles, K - thanks!)

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Why have a rock solid cane furniture with an ordinary polish 'n' shine? I have chosen a theme for mine. Here it goes.

Furniture theme - for K.

This post is for K. :)

I think I love you!

Damn. Stomach ache!!!!
Why, why, why do I drink that nasty coffee all the time!!!

Anyway. Ooh. Okay. Am I right? This Constantine Maroulis dude on American Idol is H-O-T! I loved his crazy, shouty "I Think I Love You!" (that's the name of the song, right?) and now Bohemian Rhapsody! The stage lighting, the sing, the man and his looks - he is topping my American Idol list right now.

Me thinks I love him!

P.S. No more coffee for a month, at least.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

215 suggestions - note to self

Before I made a cheeky digression and laughed all the way through it, I was going to blog the following thoughts. A few suggestions on how to dedicate the zakat.

There are several selfless things that one can do to pay the zakat on their time, knowledge, physical and human resources. The best thing in the world will be to spend this zakat on what we like to do most. Do something of interest.

We can solve an issue and present its solution to the interested people - this can be a solution to the waste management issue, a better way to solve mathematical equations, calculation of cell phone tarriffs for a consumer protection group - anything that uses the idle mind to solve an issue. We can help someone out with their academic research (i.e. as a voluntary assistant, not their cheat help). Or help an ailing tree or plant. Maintain a public facility. Set aside time at work, study, or home to think how to do a certain task better, and then doing it. Give members of our interest group a tour of our private libraries and gardens... Even listening to a neglected person may help them. The point is just to make use of our extra resources and share them with others with a selflessness.

The essential thing is that whatever we do, it must be selflessly used for the benefit of someone from whom we do not expect a direct gain. In other words, we make the world a better place by using our idle resources. Whatever way one wants to put it.

My ardent desire is that we can somehow increase the influence to a larger social circle. And the solution might be as simple as doing things right in our immediate surroundings and tackling one issue at a time in our zakat time, with our zakat resources.

Note: What am I talking about? See, in order, the following blog posts:
  1. two point five
  3. I have been there, I have done that

I have been there, I have done that

There are several selfless things that one can do to pay the zakat on their time, knowledge, physical and human resources.

I know the first idea is to try to teach an uneducated child, usually the child of the masi (maid). Avoid this at all costs if you want to retain your motivation. Start with something that is limited to yourself and to which no one else is privy, because the first and often the only "help" you receive is criticism and a treatise on why something can neither be done nor started. At any rate, educating an unwilling brat is often the first selfless act most of us want to do. I have plenty of examples of why this should be avoided. Seriously. There are economic arguments (unbeknown to the child's parents, but emplohyed by them nevertheless) on why education for the poor is often resisted by them. Second, many of us are not qualified. In our zeal to unload centuries' worth of knowledge and wisdom on the child's delicate shoulder, we often scare them away. Be careful; this is a traumatic experience for some of these children. Do not try at home until you are a trained teacher!

It is better to start with animals, plants, and inanimate objects and achieve a degree of success with them until we establish ourselves as persons of authority. The masi will herself be inspired to give her child into our esteemed care - after which it is an easier task to impart our moral duty.

This is a tongue-in-cheek digression from what I wanted to write on, which was actually a note to self on what may I do with my time, but believe me, this is good advice for the misguided philanthropist. I have been there.


I calculated. In a year of 360 days (ease of calculation; sounds more financial), a little over 215 hours will pay the zakat on the time. As in, 2.5% or the 40th part of 360 days is 215 hours (216 to be precise).

215 hours of service without pay and expectation to someone or some cause that can pay us back nothing but satisfaction and all those things the heavens promise but we haven't seen but why do we care to see if we make our earth a bit more heavenly anyway!!! *breath, breath*

What goes round, comes round. A belief in this is enough to start a little motion that will perpetuate to form a never-ending heaven. Ah, I think I had seen a movie with a similar idea and a rotten contrived end. Pay It Forward was the name? A person does a good deed to three people and they pay it forward to three persons, and each of those persons reach forward to three more persons... It was a good idea. Perhaps it an be taken up per se?

Anyway. I am not going to worry about how to start or rally others to my idea. All I am going to do is to allocate 215 hours of my time, all accounted for to ensure the integrity. Certainly, some good will come out of it.

[36 minutes a day would achieve the target.]

Monday, April 11, 2005

two point five

[Editing in blue.]

I love ironing, doing the dishes, laundry, and other stupid things that do not need a presence of mind. One's got to be careful, however, that the no-brainer ironing session is for heat resistent clothes only, the no-brainer dishwashing doesn't involve the guest-reserved fine china, and the laundry for idiots does not have sensitive colored clothes. This much of foreplanning allows for a relaxed session of manual activity that does not commission the mind. You can exorcise the demons of memory, solve the problems of the world, or create new ones of your own to engage the idle beautiful mind.

This morning while flattening out the creases off my stiff white cotton clothes, I decided that I finally agree with my major influencer and supporter Kamu: there is enough intellectualisation in the world. Time to act.

Add to this the following facts:

1. Mosques' potential as integrated community centers is greatly underutilized in this country. Thousands of mosques in central locations provide an excellent opportunity to bring the community together for sharing, service, and activities other than the merely "religious rites." That will be one cool way to develop the religion into deen (way of life).

2. Islam ordains 2.5% zakat (tax) on wealth.

3. Knowledge is power is wealth in today's world. Other scarce resources in today's world such as time, effort, and, well, education are also forms of wealth. They are also the economic currency of the modern world.

Why should we not pay zakat/tax on the wealth of information, time, minds, knowledge, physical ability that some have in excess to others? The mosque can be the "clearing house" for this zakat, which is paid in kind. And everyone is in need of this kind of zakat.

Voluntary (i.e. unpaid) education and community service must be obligatory for each adult male and female. The community must identify a number of projects for which a group of selected candidates provide their services. Others provide education and other services, such as daycare.

Some arrangement of this kind does happen in Bohra and Aga Khani jamaat khanas (community centers). It will be useful if such a program is regulated and spread far and wide in the country - starting from some model areas, of course.

Hmmm. I like the 2.5 program. :)