Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Rare Commodity

Islamabad had a culture of well kept gardens-both big and small in governmental or private residential areas. At the government level, green belts used to be adorned with beautiful flowers - regularly cared for.

This was a ritual all the year round but not anymore.

I visited a nursery to buy some plants and hence took the oppotunity to ask the nursery owner for the reasons behind it. He told me that sales have gone down and so have the people's interests. According to him, prices have gone up sharply over the years. He further revealed that just about everything in his nursery - flowers or the seeds - were imported from Japan and some from the Netherlands.

I fail to understand this because we have a very rich flora and fauna in this country. All we need is to promote the native species of plants. We have this huge department called the "Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC)" they must take action. Do something - seriously.

The landscaping department of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) must also take this into consideration.
No wonder- why people are losing interest what so ever!.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rawalpindi over the Years!

Today, me and my brother visited Rawalpindi. It is a sister city of Islamabad -the two are famous as the "twin cities of Pakistan". A lot has been written and said about them-together or individually but I remember that a Islamabad based English newspaper used to run a regular column captioned as "The Tale of Two Cities" comparing the two - which does not make much sense because each city has its own character.

Anyhow, it has been a really long time that we had a chance to go there. Visiting Pindi was an exciting, extraordinary and a memorable experience. It brought back many memories. It is the birth place of one of my brothers – when the biggest hospital in Islamabad and Pindi was the ‘Central Government Hospital’ and people used to refer to it as the Central Hospital.

Rawalpindi has become much cleaner. All the roads I explored have been paved and is literally beyond recognition. Smooth flow of traffic and footpaths can be seen almost everywhere. Food stalls, accessories, ready to wear garments, sabizi mandi ( whole sale vegetable bazar), fresh fish, meat of all sorts and unbeatable prices are enough to make a person go there again.

I loved MOTI BAZAR meaning pearls bazaar which has a unique name. Moti Bazar was established in 1901. It has been the centre of trade and commerce ever since. It is called MOTI Bazar because of its proximity with the SARRAFA Bazar or the goldsmiths bazar who would have been the clients of pearls from this market for making their jewelry and maybe the place would have been the biggest hub and thus was named so.
I loved the way people anticipate, entertain and market their products. They make sure that you will end up buying stuff - whether you need it or not! I also loved the Chana Chat (Chick peas/potatoes and fruits mixed with tamarind juice and spices) and Dahee bhallay ( Firtters in yogurt topped with apricot chutney, tamarind chuntey and some other stuff) from one of the famous shops which I used to visit while accompanying my mother as a child! All sort of confectioneries - probably made at home were on display with bright and interesting colors and shapes. These can be the most fascinating gift for kids in villayat (overseas).

This place is a heaven for women and reminds me of "Myeongdong" in Seoul - where once you enter you just don't want to leave - absolutely fascinating! Oh yeah, before I forget to mention, we bought a kilogram of "small/fresh Talabia Fish" -the best I ever tasted and the price- well only 2$ US.

From one of the alleys we reached the famous 'Lal Hawelli'....it is beautiful-I wonder if there is a kitchen in the Lal Hawelli and if yes - why?? It is at the crossroads of some of the tastiest food stalls in town. Lal Hawelli is also famous for its owner cum resident Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed - who is a seasoned politician.

I also bought a few kilos of rose petals for my dad's and my brothers graves from there. They have a huge floral market near "BUNNI" ( an intersection) – that takes you to all the different directions of Pindi. We also took a ride of "neavau" Rickshaw of Pindi from Bunni - the thing is hooked with a bike - an absolute genius. Over the years, it has been my propriety that I hop on public transport - no matter where I am in the world! This is one of the best ways to explore a city like locals and you will see that it always open doors to a new world. I found Nala Lai. It is huge. They can make parks on both side of it or can develop it into a recreational place. Anyways, I must say that the ride was fun and is worth a try!

Rawalpindi caters both- the rich and the poor. It feeds them, clothes them, gives them energy and hopes to move on with their lives. As we all know, Rawalpindi has a history of a few hundred years hence, I wish that we, as a nation, realize the importance of our heritage and culture that these cities offer.

Older a city is, the more the chances are that tourists, both domestic and international, would come to rediscover it. Hopefully, we will also learn to celebrate the culture, tradition, architecture and uniqueness of these places and take pride in them as is the case all around the world.

In the mean time, I hope that Rawalpindi and its residents can figure out ways of BRANDING Pindi. It can bring business, money and stability which will in turn bring an even stronger, healthier and stable Pindi - for its people and for the world at large.
I hope that people look beyond personal achievements and goals.
I hope that we can look beyond biases.
I really, really hope that I can visit Pindi again.

NOTE: The most comprehensive website on Pindi is run by Dr.Kashif Ahmed and you can visit it at: http://www.pindiplus.com

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I visited H-8 Graveyard

This is the place where I went on the second day of Eid. The final resting place of our loved ones who are not with us but their memories will last forever...

After visting my father's grave, cleaning it with rose water, putting rose petals, burning incense and offering fateha...I felt that nothing can be better than being with those who are not among us anymore but without their thoughts we are some how incomplete.

On my way back home, I also visited Begum Viqarun Nisa Noon's , Parveen Shakir's and Mrs. Pirzada's grave. These were the people who have touched the lives of many but now that they are gone seems as if they are forgotten....maybe I am wrong..

Inna Lilahe Wa Inna Elehey Rajeoon!.

A Partly Cloudy Day & Finally it Rained.....

Since morning there were clouds floating around and then finally it rained!!
Thank God!!

A View to...

....well, sunrises and sunsets have always been amazing in Islamabad. I would rather say, anywhere and pretty much everywhere.

I got here a month ago and it has rained only twice - light showers.
I consider it not enough however, the skies have been incredible...stunning patterns and colors that I get to see from my room or the terrace. Miss it all the time.
It is funny that no matter where I’ve lived over the years, whenever there was a thunderstorm or heavy showers they brought back memories of Islamabad – I’m clueless- why is that? But why not: it is indeed a beautiful memory.
Hope that this extremely dry spell is over and pray that it will rains.
Such a long dry spell may lead to many problems such as air borne diseases, water shortage for our crops – is a big headache for farmers and even a bigger economic loss for the country in the longer run, low water levels in dams means no electricity as we are so dependant on hydro electric power- though we have other choices to bring relief to public by introducing solar power, wind power and Pakistan has plenty of both. Among many reasons from environmental changes to global warming - one thing is for sure that an extensive cutting down of trees for whatever reasons can be one of the many reasons for dust and shortage in rains. I have witnessed tress being cut all over the place. Needless to say that our deeds, good or bad, will repay us in kind.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Visiting Pakistan

Last time I was in Islamabad (Pakistan) was 2 years ago. In 9 years, only twice have I been able to visit my hometown (Islamabad) and unfortunately, so much has changed that I can NOT recognize the city anymore - the city where I grew up, started my school and spent most of my life.

I have also lived for a little over two years in Gilgit in the Jutiyal neighborhood. I hope to see a better Gilgit than what I left when I was there. On the Internet, I do visit websites about the Northern Areas of Pakistan (NA) or what they now call it as Gilgit-Baltistan Region (GB). A real treat for me was the news of the establishment of their first ever university in Diamer, which used to be a Degree college for boys back in the days. Second news was about giving NA the status of a province - making it the fifth province of Pakistan. It was indeed a good news because this is what the people of NA had been demanding for years. Last but not the least, news of yet another disaster in Pakistan and this time in the NA – it was the forming of lake near Hunza which is drowning in it the small villages in areas like Gulmit etc. - this whole episode started off with earthquake after-effects and then melting of the icy glaciers. At the moment, some 5,000 workforce is trying its best to minimize the damage with the help of the Chinese experts at Karakorum Highway (yes. You are right. The same old - SILK ROAD). Hope that it turns out well. I hope and pray that all the people who have been displaced by this calamity find relief as soon as possible and start their lives with new hopes and dreams. People of the Northern Areas of Pakistan are very hospitable, caring and loving – one of the best - I have come across. They deserve the best.

The third city on my itinerary was Lahore. So far, one of the most beautiful places with a lot to offer to its visitors. Lahore and vibrancy are synonyms. Lahore has a rich history and culture – its museums, mazars (tombs), mosques, malls, murghzar, mohallay (old neighborhoods), minarets, and you name it and they have them - with no comparisons. It has so much to offer that one life is NOT enough...and this is good that one has to go back there again to discover or rediscover - something new every time. Its food, people, architecture, history....is world class! It is rightly called the "cultural capital of Pakistan".

I hope that every city, town and neighborhood in Pakistan prosper! There is so much potential - all we need is a good, dedicated and honest leadership in Pakistan. I would also like to see more and more self-help programs by the people and the NGOs. They surely help a lot where the governments fail.