Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Lust for Life gets published in INSPIRE Magazine, Canada!

Ladida! Just discovered: A Lust For Life archives have been published in the nascent Canadian Islamic magazine INSPIRE. Alhamdolillah! They are an small project, steadily growing. I discovered INSPIRE by chance, and their artful covers completely awed me!

It means to me to be published there - at least because it makes me happy today!

I have written perhaps all my life, but have never published for reasons known only perhaps to my Shadow. But then someone opened my eyes to choices.

I sent some writing samples from A Lust for Life - all of which got accepted and published in one go! Hmmm, perhaps that was a bit too enthusiastic a publishing spell, but it's fun nevertheless!

Check out INSPIRE, and download it free from the website. I'd appreciate your comments on the articles, especially if you send them in to the editor Salma at info (a.t)

Also recommended is the interesting article "What's in a Word? - The Literary Transcendence of God" by Sadiq Alam for its historical insight. I have explored a similar theme in the post Ilahi and the One Language.

INSPIRE is a non-profit magazine, friendly and open to new writers - I suggest writers of related subjects definitely contact the magazine with their work!

P.S. "Faith and the Hill" has also been published in the Pakistani magazine Hiba.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Buying books in Karachi - a guide

Where to find books in Karachi? Jamash of Karachi Metblog has written a guide on buying books in Karachi. Readers of the blog have suggested the stores they seek out when looking for books. While not exhaustive, this guide is an interesting effort of its kind, and much needed too!

What's your favorite book store or book cart? What kinds of books do you like and where do you get them from?

Related posts:
Can we design access to good literature?

Literature: Opium for the psuedo-intellectual mind

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Comfort of Friends

Nothing surprises me like the generosity of my family and friends.

I completed yet another year of life today, Alhamdolillah. This year, I spent a great deal of time misbehaving with people who are closest to me: family, and friends. A great deal of it was displaced anger. Another great deal of it were suppressed or belated opinions. I had been having some difficulty telling it exactly like it is earlier, so I spent this year "cleaning my system."

This year I haven't replied to emails, been obstinately refusing to answer to invites, haven't responded to my friends' persistent inquiries after me and my well-being. Some may have been surprised by my "change" later in the year to a strong-headed being. For those who are recent friends, this is a reversion to being who I truly am.

I had lost myself in the process of growing up and older, and this year I reclaimed my life - a process that was as challenging to me as it was surprising to my friends and well-wishers.

But come today, I am surprised at the goodness of all who have been affected by my metamorphosis... and wished me. Truly, I have been strange for absolutely no reason to some, at least as far as they know.

As the new year starts in my life and on the calendar, I know that I have made a lot of decisions. I have decided to forgive who I should. I have decided to not displace either my tender-heartedness to those who don't deserve it and in situations where it is not right, or my hard-headedness.

I have decided that no matter how strange or hard-to-accept it may be for myself and for those I am related to, I am best when I am my true Self, realizing my destiny - and hence this process of change and development and seeking my truth continues.

I am truly touched by and grateful for the love and warmth of my life's people. Thank you for making this a day!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Karma of Unforgiveness

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different."

Sigh! The dreams would not give up throwing up the idea. I saw the dream again. Rather, the same person in new dreams - always there, like a wallpaper in the room - usually not interacting with my main dream that actively, but there. They say if you see someone from the past in the dreams, you have unresolved issues with them.

I talked to my friend Dr. H. M. about it. She and I have taken up the activity of analysing our dreams together. With time, not only are we improving our skills, but adding to our repertoire new techniques and angles of analyses. She believed that the person in question, a friend from the past, may be a symbol for an associated concept.

I do see symbols more often than I see persons from the waking life. Which is why these dreams have caught my attention: I do not see real-life people in my dreams, I see concepts enacted visually. But that is another matter. What has concerned me more than the dream business itself is their content, and the ever-present character.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching, well, Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire. Don't ask why I like HP, but I have always liked fairy-tale movies, magic, and like subjects. I do like Harry simply because he's a wizard - and I love fairies and wizards and people who do unusual things. In one scene, a matured Harry can't help but suppress smile when a thoughtless Hermione remarks at her athletic boyfriend, "Victor and I didn't talk. In fact, he and I don't talk at all. Victor is more of a physical type." I missed the pun too, until an embarrassed Hermione quickly realized, and Harry cracked but the gentlest of smiles, without a remark.

And somehow that was it. For a very vague association of this scene with the innocence of my own teenage years, I am ready to accept the message of my dreams. I am ready to close the unfinished business. I have decided to forgive the person that my dreams are concerned with.

The Indian thinking states that "unfinished business" creates a karma - a kind of sycle that must close or end, or it will go on. If it's not inherently evil, it's certainly very sad - for it's all about memory and none about possibility. The karma of our relationship has haunted many persons involved. I recently learnt that the karma had come back to hurt once again, another person involved in this network of teenage relationships and hurt-doing. I think, I have had my part of the karma's retribution. So did the person in the dream. So did another person I later related to. So has another person they later related.

I have been watching closely, and fate has been coming, again and again, to hurt everyone involved in this web of broken friendships, betrayals, and losing a good thing for nothing just because a group of childhood friends refused to grow up at the right time. The fate, the karma, and the dreams are all coming with a message: this cycle has to break: someone, somewhere, must cease to inflict hurt back and forth for things of the past. Someone, somewhere, must forever clean their heart of grudge. Someone, somewhere, must choose to step out of this cycle of childish jealousy, causing pain, suffering retribution, remembering bad things for years, forgetting good things - like the slips of tongues among two friends who were once as innocently connected as the magical Harry and Hermione... or any two children friends - and letting dreams stage their purposeful drama. Someone in this network of karma-stricken persons has to forgive.

I will be that someone. I have decided after years of needless, pointless losing and breaking of perfectly gentle and respectful relationship amongst a group of talented, beautiful persons - that we all deserve better. We all deserve to move on. And that it cannot happen unless we understand the depth of our own heart: we are all, in our hearts, kind but afraid to accept that, willing to let go of the past but unable to take the first step. And that this very dual feeling is leading everyone involved to be forever stuck in this cycle.

I have forgiven - myself first, for I was part of the cycle of wrong-doing and I got my just reward several times over. The person in my dream, for he deserves this and better - he deserves happiness and a use of his talents; and by Allah, he too received a severe retribution. And the associated everyone, for their continued bad luck means that my grudge is their bad karma...

Allah says, "Cooperate with the faithful in good deeds." With a group of people who were once fine friends, I cannot but only cooperate from now on in good will, and good deed. What one sends into the world comes back to them, and I want to send forgiveness in the world. Where I realize my good intention will not be well-received, I will still send forgiveness, so as not to get resentment. It is strange how these things come and go.

Dr. H. M. says, "Pay attention to your feelings in the dreams." My dreams are not of anger or grudge nor of jealousy, but an amused letting go, that is quite not indifference, but an unpossessive attachment. Of a fresh relationship. My dreams have told me, I am over. I am over a long, long cycle of the karma of unforgiveness. My dreams tell me that I have understood why Allah says, "The wronged is rightful in taking a revenge, but it is better that you forgive, if you understand."

To inhabit, to cultivate, or to honor: The Family Breakfast

cul·ture [kuhl-cher] n.

A set of learned beliefs, values and behaviors the way of life shared by the members of a society.
From Latin: Colore: To inhabit, to cultivate, or to honor

con·ver· sa·tion Pronunciation Key[kon-ver-sey-shuh n] n.

1. Informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.
2. Association or social intercourse; intimate acquaintance.

Breakfast conversations are one of the best ways in which families come together and strengthen a common culture. After years of "rushing off" to school and work – a behavior I learned as part of the package of being a Karachiite – I've now realized how important is to have a breakfast over paper, daily news, and an exchange of views. Culture, even in a family, is a process of diffusion – of sharing – of ideas, beliefs, and values traveling from one person to another.

The breakfast, with everyone at the table, is a barometer of change in the everyday values and learning of all family members. You learn what your brother or mother learnt yesterday, and how it has subtly changed them. You note how your father is concerned about the news last night. You learn your mother's view on the rising cost of a household budget. And you learn the price of potatoes and tomatoes, and gauge them against your future aspirations.

Unlike the lunch or the dinner, the breakfast is the time when you treat yesterday as yesterday and bygones as bygones because you have woken up to a brand new day. At lunch, you are in the think of things, you are in the present. Dinner is reflective upon the whole day, which is still today but has become a part of the past about which one cannot do anything but reflect on that day.

It's at the breakfast table that you set the rules for a new day with a group of people who not only likely share your belief, but also, within just a degree of separation, your genetic code. The bills. The space. The inter-dependence.

Everyday is a new day in the lives of humans: new circumstances, new challenges, new opportunities. The past goes in the codes of memory. The present is lived. The future is anticipated. At breakfast time, you archive the past. You begin the present. You look forward to the future, and announce your course. You share it through a conversation. You create a culture. The family gauges where it stands today, in relation to its members.

The morning is also an excellent time to educate the freshly awakened minds. Hunched over the paper, discussing views, critiquing the headlines, reading aloud the absurd and the shocking, letting in the sound of the morning news, passing a comment at the strength of the tea and the taste of the bread - the conversation naturally steers to food, to health effects, oh!-the-hair-loss, the remedies, the drawbacks of each remedy – blaming it on the winter or the sun. Having a sudden thought about the car, the repair, the rising cost of petrol and everything, the concerned frown rising at all foreheads – the gentle reminder to watch the expenditure. The sudden hop to a future plan, asking each other what's going on with our work… learning and educating, and re-forming the genetic code.

I have started holding more conversations on the breakfast now, free as I am from the routine of school and college, and office work. It's perhaps one of the most rewarding things I have done lately. I used to be given the breakfast as a school-going child in haste – and now I set the course of the breakfast, choose a variety based on our new learning of food and health, and direct, in a larger part, the course of the day. How truly wonderful and important these tiny experiences and everyday routines are!