Allah is Beautiful, and Hu Loves Beauty!
When the primordial Question, "Am I not your Lord?" reached my perception, I remember, I had said, "Yes! And You are Beautiful! And I love You!" That became the anthem of my soul. Then I was put to sleep. Now I wake up. This is a chronicle of my awakening.
Saturday, April 30, 2005
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
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
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
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
First 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 rickey.org, 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 rickey.org. 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.
See: 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!
But I did forget 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, 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
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:
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.
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
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. :)
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Yesterday, I reached the Academy earlier than scheduled. I thought ok let's pray here. Someone brought me a prayer rug and I found a quiet room. White walls. Silence. And only my sounds echoing. I began to enjoy it aftr a while. Not sure whether it was okay to say the prayers out so loud, I did so anyway: vocal and resonant. The sound bounced off the walls. It seemed as if it chanted with me, right after me.
I loved the space. I realized I do enjoy peace and a quiet afternoon. Undisturbed, doing just what I like to do. No time lines.
It reminded me of the lovely, serene British Council and the slight hustle and rustle of crisp pages. The buzz of muted conversations. The occassional sound of the photocopier and the swinging shut of the glass door.
When the class finished yesterday in the evening, we lounged and chatted seated around the tables. A lavish supply of tea accompanied our conversations. These conversations are sometimes a drag, and I am beyond many of the topics discussed. I am wary of whining and problem-descriptions and cynicism and arm-chairing life. And I was thankful for the occassional word of wisdom, whle I secretly wished that I finally put to practice what I keep learning. Enough knowledge and little action around the table, while tea flowed and conversation errupted in small circles in the peaceful atmosphere. The air remained cool while the sun shined, and I was happy about that one prayer I was able to say in peace while I mulled the possibility of an open-air salaat.
It was a brilliant Karachi evening, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Thank you Allah Main for small pleasures. :) Alhamdolillah!
I was reading Garrett James Hardin's madly brilliant ecological masterpiece Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle I found something really curious, awesome, inspiring: the food chain gets poisonous as it goes up.
This is how it happens: there is poinson in the form of metals and other substances in the environment. They can be poisonous because they harm humans (and other species in general) and are not consumable by the body. Mercury is one such element. If taken in with food, these substances either pass out of our body, or, more commonly, remain in the body as a residue. This residue deposits inside. This is an alien chemical that stays inside the animal body. If in moderate amounts, this will only lead to a very slow death. If excessive, this will rapidly disturb the body's elemental balance and bring premature death.
In making a case on how there should be an accounting (with ledgers and all) for the harmful mercury, Hardin explained that the bottom rung of the food chain is the least poisonous, as it intakes poison directly from the environment. The eater of that poisonous member of the food chain, however, intakes poison not only from the environment, but from its prey. I was like, oh my God. Thank you Garrett for letting me know that God wasn't arbitrary when separating the kosher from non-kosher.
Plants often do not eat up other plants and animals directly. So exclusing those plants which have known direct poisons/ yucky chemicals, all others are eatable or consumable in medicine. Animals eat up plants and other animals. Those animals that eat other animals are taking up all the poison from the levels of the food chain below it + its own environmental poison. So a lion has the wild dog's poison, and of the cat the dog ate, and of the rat that the cat ate, and of the trash that the rat ate. Man, too, consumes immense amounts of poison from all sources. Healthy women menstruate out some of that harmful pollution; but men's residual poison/ pollution appears in the form of facial and excessive body hair.
That's why a lion and other scavengers and trash-eaters (I call them "dustbins of the food chain") are haraam/ unkosher.
AND raising a pig in clean conditions so as to qualify it as kosher/ eatable is unfair with the world's ecology. The pig is a dustbin. It should be allowed to rid the world of its excessive filth and poison by consuming it up.
Have a chicken, have a clean environment!
Now. Should Terry Schiavo have died? Allowed to die, i.e.?
Now what is it with cleansing that allows ideas and inspiration to awaken in the mind? I got an answer to this vital question, as I had to the issue of cryptography and language, while brushing my teeth one morning. It's time for me to harrass the occassional guest by installing a crazy note-filled writing pad on the washroom cabinet. (But first, a cabinet for the absent-minded girl!)
My fine conclusion was this: if Terry Schiavo's mind and heart (in that order) were not dependant on any artificial injection other than food, she must have been allowed to live. If, however, she was being sustained on machines which wer providing for other-than-food life support, without which her brain and heart would (instantly) die, then she was clinically dead and her life should not have been elongated artificially.
This is my general opinion on any similar case of coma, vegetation, etc.
In cases of extremely elongated coma (NOT clinical dead persons sustained by artificial means), a council must decide the chances of recovery of the patient. Given that there are no foreseeable chances, the patient may be euthanised. However in the case of coma, I would more often favor life. There are clear cases of complete vegetation and artifically sustained life where it is easy to decide pro-choice/death.
Sadly but truly, it is often times the decision between resources spent on a recverable patient and someone beyond reasonale hope. I am a person of faith, I will assert, but not of unreasonability. This is my cold opinion.
Question: Why are certain kinds of food prohibited (non-kosher/ "haraam" in Islam) and the others allowed (kosher/ "halaal")? The law is, until something is specifically prohibited, or turns out uneatable/ unfit for human consumption through experiment (such as a rock, or fungus), it is halaal. Common sense would say that out of the great variety of eatable organic species, some are isolated for prohibition. Why?
I was reading [break. at this point I have wandered off to my old weblog in search of a reference. That was a much better diary!] ...
Saturday, April 09, 2005
I have wondered about the special case of adultery. What kind of a life does an adulterer have after exposure, and possibly after rejection by their spouse? First of all, hardly any civilized society deems such persons with respect. So accept that respect is gone. Second, unless in this unjust world one is rich and able to live by and have people who want to associate more with their status - there is no status and association left. Of course in the same societies, artificial respiration breathes new life into such cases, but really, if the purpose of life is success and success equals happiness (divided by achievement, I'd say), then what sort of life there remains?
The society must massively bend and curb its natural instinct to accomodate one such person who the civilized people will, honestly, not like at heart. This is a huge cost to the society - to the game of life. The rules of game cannot change. They must not change. Eject!
Murderers, criminal misanthropes, pedophiles, adulterers - all of these people affectively reach a social dead-end. I understand that this observes justifies capital punishment in the best interest of the society and the offender.
P.S. The fornicator, if I am to use such a term so crudely, is a case where there is a way forward and an understandable forgiveness. Of course, an adulterer may also be "forgiven" by their partner, but I do not think natural human psychology allows for any real long-term forgiveness.
And how the hell do you turn the TV off at night after watching a movie like that?
P.S. What was that horse thing anyway?
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Something just struck me - the value of tolerance. I just talke dto someone who, unlike most other ppl i know, is tolerant of his situation. That's not how most ppl in the world think today. Whining, whining, objecting, objecting is the global policy. Wow. May be I have learnt something. Goodie!
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
1 - Pakistani people are in interesting times. Having battled our unfair associations with all kinds of -isms especially the recent talibanism and then terrorism, and socialism etc. in the past, we are now facing a peculiar kind of identity crisis. This is the lose/win identity crisis solution as I'd put it: take my identity and run, because I longer want to associate with what I have been associated with. Thank you. The world keeps spinning, and I dunno who and where I am.
2- Thanks to our clever manipulation of Pakistanis' id in specific and Muslim id in general, we are rapidly shedding off our skins. I understand it's not right to be parochial and dogmatic - but how right is it to lose a sense of self? Example in context - the Pope's death is all over the world's media. How about if some Muslim thinker died? Could we mourn him without feeling that we are causing an excess?
3- Lets keep religion totally out of the discussion. Overall, I find an over-emphasis on political correctness and thoughtlessness. To have an opinion on the society's superficialness, it's rapid marginalizations, the crazy degenration of its media and the non-sensical copy/paste identities of our people - etc. Who needs to talk about these issues when there is an investment boom? How ugly would it be to talk about ecological balance when ports are developing? Labor rights when private corporations are riding on the boom? Greed and fear when the stock exchanging is climbing like alcohol in a thermometer? Ethical standards when journalists are openly erasing the line between journalism and advertising?
4- The case in point for me is my own fear in exploring this feeling of mine. I must admit I already feel a hail of stones and, au contraire, a loud, "aye aye, absolutely correct" - and I wonder how much of it really is thoughtful?
In one line, I summarize thus: I advocate neither closing up nor opening up in naivete. I don't feel comfortable. I must be allowed to think and to express my opinion. And I should be free to object to that which I consider wrong and which I do not want to see marching under the banner of positivity, development, and progress.
[Started March 23 - also see Finding my Religion]
Isn't it a tad difficult to speak up agianst what we consider wrong? Be it uncle cha-cha ji's corruption, or the society general degenerative trends - I often find myself on the wrong side of prevalence. As in, in the minority that neither practices nor feels happy about what they consider wrong - and are hapless. No objection; no action.
Now if I am to avoid any bias of recency or latency, the dominance of "wrong" isn't something I haven't seen since childhood. But there's a definite difference this time.
I feel the (young) Pakistanis are actually living in interesting times. [Aside: Chinese Curse - May you live in interesting times!] All too quickly, we are dealing with ideologies that are:
1. not our own
2. conflicting with our long held beliefs
3. perhaps better than our own, but are we included in the change process? Where's our change management plan?
Anyway. So that's the issue. It's kind of becoming fashionable to say: Zia did blah-blah and therefore we didn't have any ideology and ID and blah-blah and now let's just accept whatever comes our way otherwise oh no we are retarding back to Zia's era. Fine.
Me thinks first Zia put a blanket on everything. Now, we must tolerate and accept everything. No questions asked. What is it, the swingin' 60's of Pakistan? And who are we Pakistanis anyway? Talibani, Osami, India's-broken-offees, progressives, tolerantos, thoughtlessos, idiotos? First someone tells us, cover up. We do. Then someone tells us, open up. We do. We weren't thinking then, are we thinking now?
My issue isn't with the goings-on. My issue is the way goings-on are going on and the clear absence of a decent change management plan. And yes, I bring myself to say it with a degree of apprehension of being misunderstood - but some of the 'developments' aren't that right either and I am NOT being a bigot. Exposing Pakistan to the world and the world to Pakistan is a bit like wedding off a 12-yr old girl. Heck, we have to mature as ourselves and have our own ID before we can rush to embrace.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
One book that I have been avoiding since I heard of it has finally wound up on my lap: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.* By John Gray, Ph.D. Really, now that I am dealing with Martians, this sounds like a helpful manual. But a thought strikes me: I am going contrary to a belief that I have held over a greater period of my life: human intellect is similar across genders, then why bother about the differences?
However, being with a Martian has taught me more than a little about my real-world polarity. I can't give the final world until I have charted this territory in detail. Is it a feminist's failure or necessity to accept the gender differentials, esp on the rationality-feeling see-saw?
* I do not like books that put men against women, victimizing either - and I thought this book was in the same league. I just think the whole gender conflict thing is non-sensical.
The only dilemma is, how deeply should we label our differences? Does it in some way create a difference?
I am not certain how truthful this story is - or whether this should elicit sympathy for the pianos and pianists, but there seems to be a "rationality" in the tale. At any rate, it's a good lesson about things that prevent us from running for life.
Armed with this insight, I took a brief look at my life. To my dismayed surprise, I heard the distinct music of many pianos playing. There are, I see, fields upon fields of of pianos harvested. Sometimes they grow, sometimes they stay in old attics of memory and play their ghost music on. The music is so lovely, so soulful - at times the simplest thing is easy to forget: we could play a piano if we survive. We cannot, if we await our death by the side of a piano.
Indeed, why have a piano at all? The best is the ability to create music, which is what makes a musician gifted and able and loved. Why love an instrument at the cost of the musician?
Saturday, April 02, 2005
A string of biryani centers struck up the thought in my mind: Biryani is Karachi official food. And the animal...?
Here's a well-pondered list. Comment and pass on!
Karachi's Official Color: Black (Red is a close second)
Karachi's Official Food: Biryani
Karachi's Official Drink: Cha'ai [Tea] (Nestlé’s Pure Life is a close second)
Karachi's Official Fruit: Papaya
Karachi's Official Tree: Coconut Palm Tree (Eucalyptus has been found in Murree in viable numbers, according to my council of voters.)
Karachi's Official Transport: Minibus (Rickshaw is a close second)
Karachi's Official Bird: Hawk
Karachi's Official Animal: The Green Turtle
Karachi's Official Flower: Gladiolus
Karachi's Official Poet: Jamil ud-din Aali
Karachi's Official Painter: Sadequain
Karachi's Official Language: Minglish - that curious wanna-be, cosmo mingling of English & Urdu
Karachi's Official Dress: Jeans & T-shirt (Males); Shalwar Kameez - Pakistani, Arab, Indian variety (Females)
Karachi's Official Sport: Kir-kit (Cricket)
Karachi's Official Holiday: New Year's (Any strike day is a close second)
Karachi's Official Park: Nishtar Park? (Hill Park and Safari Park have lost their 'it' factor)
What do you think? Read and pass on to friends!
Note: This was first published a few minutes earlier at the fantastic indie news source PakPositive.