Have a fabulous 2012


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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Donate Blood

World's largest blood drop made in
Pyeongchan, South Korea
According to World Health Organization (WHO), voluntary and non-remunerated blood donors are the lifeline of a community and the safest source of blood and blood products for patients (p.2). To celebrate the gift by such donors World Blood Donars Day has been established. Hence June 14 (the birth of Karl Landsteiner, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the ABO blood group system) each year is celebrated to honor the gift by donars for saving human life.

When I was still in middle school (in 1980s), Fatimd Foundation (an NGO) in Pakistan, vibrantly worked in blood collection and blood related field. They used to sponsor many programs on TV when there was not the madness of hundreds of channels. In 1990s, they faded somehow in their public/media campaigns and now, I have no idea where do they stand in this noble yet forgotten cause?

My 2011 trip to Pakistan made me see parents and old people begging for blood donations when Dengue virus assault was on the rise in Lahore and elsewhere in Pakistan. This reminds me of where we stand in terms of ‘blood donations’ and blood banks in Pakistan? Simply put: blame the government since health-care and education are the last things in their mind and why wouldn’t it be when the masses have no clue about the importance of education or cleanliness which may cut down the health problems to half if people know the basics. Nonetheless, we are a country that considers military power, arms and ammunition and atomic bomb and nuclear weapons as their asset and not its people.

Whart needs to be done?
One thing must be awareness.
Two: A partnership between the civil society, local, national and international governments is another important aspect.
Three: National campaigns with a goal in which public can trust and confide.
Four: Demand of blood is increasing at a fast pace particularly in developing countries but the supply of quality blood is very sloppy. This has to change by bringing blood donations campaigns to educational institutes at the national level. I have complete faith that the youth of Pakistan will realize our goal of self-sufficiency in blood donations in these times and age.

Possible Fears
WHO in its report said that transfusion of unsafe blood puts lives at risk because HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, Chagas’ disease, malaria and other infections can be transmitted to the recipients through transfusion. Blood which tests positive for any of these infections cannot be transfused and is discarded, resulting in additional financial costs. These issues are of particular concern in countries facing blood shortages.

* Globally, up to 4 million people have been infected with HIV by the transfusion of unsafe blood
* The prevalence of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis in donated blood is still unacceptably high in many developing countries; the prevalence of Chagas’ disease in donated blood is a major problem in some South and Central American countries
* Many countries lack policies, procedures or resources for ensuring the safety of blood, including South Asia which are facing the HIV/AIDS pandemic
* As some infections, such as HIV, cannot be detected in a person’s blood during the "window period", laboratory testing of donated blood – no matter how sophisticated – is,alone, not enough to ensure a safe blood supply. The safest blood comes from the safest blood donors.

We must understand that only about 40 per cent of the blood collected each year is donated in developing countries, which are home to over 80 per cent of the world’s population and the goal to collect the amount need is still far-fetched. The average number of blood donations per 1,000 population is 12 times higher in high-income countries than in low-income countries.

According to the WHO report, an overwhelming 99 per cent of the 500,000 women who die each year during pregnancy and childbirth live in developing countries, with hemorrhage – which invariably requires blood transfusion – the most common cause of maternal deaths.

To overcome blood shortage, both public and private organizations must work hand in hand. Medical staff and hospitals can also be the key drivers to convince people to donate blood.

Nationals campaigns must be rigorous and collaboration with media can play a very important role. Schools, colleges and universities are a good source to convey message of blood donation. I don’t think that we need earthquakes and floods to awake the spirit of nationalism in Pakistan. It is too heavy a price to show nationalism and patriotism. Youth of Pakistan can be brought in the sphere of working for Pakistan. Nevertheless commitment is a necessary tool and must NOT let go.

At a national level blood service delivery must be an integral part of the health strategy of any country. I fail to understand why people are begging for blood at the last level and how come our hospitals and health services have been failing to help people in need of blood.

WHO Report and WHO Intl.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reporters Wanted for The Korea Herald (Jobs in Korea)

The Korea Herald, the nation’s No. 1 English-language newspaper, is looking for reporters who have experience in English journalism.
Applicants should have at least one year of experience in English-language news media and an excellent command of the Korean language. Pay and working conditions commensurate with experience and ability.
Applicants should send a cover letter and resume, both in Korean and English, and writing samples or other examples of work to editor@heraldm.com.
No inquiries will be accepted and only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

코리아헤럴드 기자 모집

한국 최고의 영어신문 코리아헤럴드에서 다음과 같이 기자를 모집합니다.

1. 모집부문: 기자
2. 인원: 약간 명
3. 전형절차
- 1차: 서류심사, 2차: 면접 (필요 시 실기 테스트)
4. 응시자격: 영문 뉴스 미디어 및 관련 분야 1년 이상 경력자로 한국어 능숙한 자
5. 제출서류
- 국영문 이력서 (커버레터 포함)
- 영문 기사 혹은 관련 작업 자료
6. 보낼 곳: editor@heraldm.com
7. 합격자 발표: 서류전형 합격자 개별 통보 (개별 문의 사절)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Picture of the Day: World's Largest Blood Drop (South Korea)

Participants form the world's largest human blood drop to celebrate World Blood Donor Day in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, South Korea on Thursday.

Photocredits @ Chosun Ilbo.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Book of the Day: Contentious Kwangju

Contentious Kwangju: The May 18th. Uprising in Korea's Past and Present (2003) is a book which came as a result of papers presented in a conference hosted by USC and UCLA's Korean Studies Departments and is edited by Shin Gi-wook and Hwang Kyung-moon.

This book is available on Google Books and therefore you can read it here or purchase here

A really good book which combines analytical, personal retrospectives (part-1) with scholarly explorations of the uprising's aftermath (part-2). A very comprehensive reassessment of the events and the effects available in English (xii).

More on Gwangju (Kwangju) Uprising can be seen on this website here.

Kwangju Incident is also called Gwangju Massacre, 5-18 Gwangju Democratic Movement (5.18 Minjuhwa Undong/민주화 운동), Gwangju uprising,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Walking Through Islamabad: Between G-11 and F-11

A mazar's door of an unknown saint!

Dirt-cheap oranges can be seen everywhere- near a crossing!

Cattle Herd that supplies milk to the locals.

Malnourished calf  :-( A perfect pose!

Adorable and scared!

A Chicken in husk houses..

Enjoying the day...
More of them...

Most solid structure - a masjid (mosque)  in the neighborhood built illegally!

Mosque from afar...

A vey unique grave - solid stone carved!

A husk-house and apartments in backdrop...

Kitchen area!
A gardener trimming his beard and a hukkah on his side!

Gardener's traditional shoes called Khussa (made with pure leather and hand stiched)

Apartments for Federal Government Officials and some of them are rented out to Afghan Familes by the proud owners!
PTI 's (Imran Khan's Party) Flag rising high on a husk-house - PTI picking up real roots at the grass-root level!

Margalla Hills in the backdrop!

Mobile ice-cream vendor

Carpets being sold at the road -side in Islamabad - the most frequent scene!

More carpets: how much does CDA and Islamabad Police get in kickbacks???

More Pakistani rugs and carpets

Mahasher (also called Mahseer or Indian Salmon or Tiger Fish) - such fish stalls are found on the road sides in Islamabad!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to make Homemade Cheese /Paneer [Cottage Cheese]

Gone are the days when we could NOT find cheese in Seoul. In ten years everything has changed beyond imagination.

Today, I would like to share a recipe of how to make cottage cheese at home which takes a few minutes and it's very good and fresh. It may be helpful for expats in Korea who do NOT live in big cities or who live outside Gyeonggi area with difficulty to find Costco etc. You can make your own cheese and have fun! By the way its shelf life is about 4 days.

For homemade cheese you will need:

1 liter of  milk.

1/4 cup of white wine vinegar or lemon juice (about 2 oz.)

1 table spoon of salt

The method is quite easy:

Slowly bring the milk to a boil and then turn off the heat.

Add in vinegar (or lemon) and salt and stir occassionally.

You'll see the milk turning into a white, grainy paste (the curd) and a yellowish liquid (the whey).

Let the coagulation to complete (by letting it stand for 5 minutes).

Filter the curd through a colander lined with a cheese cloth/muslin cloth. Let it drain for about 5 minutes by pulling the cloth up around the curds, twist, and squeeze out the whey.

Press the curd in the cheese cloth and shape it into a ball.

It's ready to eat or if you will refrigerate it overnight it will be fermer and tastier!

Note: What to do with whey??

You can keep the whey but first let it cool.
Some people use it in their curry in paricular a curry made with yogurt and pakoray processed into a curry. It is so good.
If NOT you can use it in the rose bushes (like me) - both ways..it is good, don't just throw it down in a drain.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pictures of the Day: Seoul

Full moon
Right use of television
Working on Korean still ;-)
Use TV as a tool to learn!

강산에 (Kang San-ae)

거꾸로강을 거슬러 오른 저 힘찬 연어들처럼
His Popular Song From 1993.

1 흐르는 강물을 거꾸로 거슬러 오르는 연어들의 도무지

알수 없는 그들만의 신비한 이유처럼 그 언제서 부터인가

걸어걸어걸어 오는 이길 앞으로 얼마나 더많이 가야만 하는지

2 여러 갈래중 만약에 이길이 내가 걸어가고 있는 돌아서

갈 수밖에 없는 꼬부라진 길일지라도 딱딱해진 발바닥

걸어걸어걸어 가다보면 저 넓은 꽃밭에 누워서 난 쉴수 있겠지

3 여러 갈래중 만약에 이길이 내가 걸어가고 있는 막막한

어둠으로 별빛조차 없는 길일 지라도 포기할순 없는거야

걸어걸어걸어 가다보면 뜨겁게 날 위해 부서진 햇살을 보겠지

4 그래도 나에겐 너무나도 많은 축복이란걸 알아 수없이

많은 걸어 가야할 대 앞길이 있지않나 그래 다시 가다보면

걸어걸어걸어 가다보면 어느날 그 모든 일들을 감사해야 하겠지


보이지도 않는 끝 지친어깨 떨구고 한숨짓는 그대 두려움 알아요

거꾸로 강을 거슬러 오르는 저 힘찬 연어들 처럼

걸어가다보면 걸어가다보면 걸어가다보면...

거꾸로: upside down, inside out, backward, back to front, in reverse order[process]
(을)거슬러 [거스르다]:  against, contrary to, in defiance of
힘찬[다]: powerful, vigorous, energetic
신비하다: mystery, mysterious, mystic, magical

꼬부라진[꼬브라지다]: bend, stoop
딱딱[하다]: firm, hard, stiff
누워서 [눕다]: lie down

막막한 [막막하다]: gloomy, desolate, boundless
부서진 [부서지다]: broken, destroyed, damaged

햇살: sunlight, sunshine, sunbeam


축복 (祝福) blessing, bless

떨구[다]: to lower, drop

한숨짓[다]: to sigh
두려움: fear, dread, terror, horror, fright, panic

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Searching for Volunteers in Seoul

Seorae Global Village Center is seeking volunteers to make handicrafts with the elderly in Isu, Seoul.

Date: 20th. February(Monday), 2012

Time: 13:00~15:30
(depart from center at 13:00)

Activities: Making handicraft with origami technique (very easy ones)and sharing a tea time and refreshments of cakes and fruits with the elderly.

If interested, please contact by mail:
seorae@sba.seoul.kr or telephone (02-2155-8949)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Old Book Shop's Tradition in Pakistan

My living room's book shelf holding my father and
grand father's best buys -some are 130 years old book

Lahore is the most fascinating city of Pakistan. It feels like you have magically become a part of the famous book - One Thousand and one Nights (Alif Laila). With thousands of years of history behind it, new and interesting stories and lives keep unfolding here. When I was visiting Lahore, I did NOT want to go back home but stayed out, walked around and walked more until my feet gave up. Even if one tries his/her best, it is quite unlikely that they will know Lahore to its full.

People are so friendly and welcoming still that I doubt if this is Pakistan of today unlike Islamabad, my hometown - a culturally dead city. Islamabad has nothing to offer except concrete barriers, machine gunners, barbed wires, check post, foreign refugees ( not the IDPs), a huge number of madrassas and ugly construction sites all over. Oh yes, I forgot to mention safe heavens of the rich, tucked in a corner of the city.

On my visit what strike me the most in Lahore include: the number of motorbikes. Yes, Vietnam is no match, really. Another thing is: the (mis)use of animals such as bulls, oxen, horses and donkey  in the old city...which is real Lahore.
An Ox mistaken as a tractor in Lahore
Last thing: the stalls of old /used books - on pavements, near parks and near bazaars...it was so awesome. Now, if I have to compare the old book shops culture of Islamabad, which used to have many old book stores near Covered Market, Melody (place where the Lal Masjid episode unfolded) and Aabpara (in G-6 Sector) or Super Market in F-6 sector - they are simply wiped out. Depressing may be the right word to explain my feelings.

In Pakistan, we do NOT see people holding/reading a book or a magazine anymore. You will find them doing whatever but NOT reading - and that is a pointer to too many problems that we are facing as a nation at this point. Reading habit has almost died out and interest in books is almost gone. We may blame Google Books, free E-books and Project Gutenberg  as culprits however, in Pakistan's case their contribution is very marginal and it is unjust to blame online free books etc for the disappearance of old book shops. They used to cater to students, housewives, parents and even children for their favourite picks for nominal prices. It will be unfair not to mention that these old/used books and old book shops, in many ways, take us back in times.  I love the smell of these old books, their discolored and ripped apart cloth binding, really old first editions with old style hand-writings - they have such a character of their own but we are losing it slowly and calmly.

We can blame literacy, which has been a problem of Pakistan since its inception. The reason being that education was always at the bottom of the list of priorities for the governments. Education of masses is NOT in the best interests of the ruling classes (the ruling class strongly believe in slavery in Pakistan which is thriving in rural areas. By the way, all our senators and parliamentarians are also from the rural areas but from feudal backgrounds).

Anyhow, back to the old/used books - BBC Urdu has a very nice story from Lahore about Abdul Khaliq Sahib. He has his old book store on wheels. Even though his wife is against this business because at times, he can NOT sell a single book- he feels that it is his responsibility to bring books into the lives of the customers through his mobile shop in all the different neighborhoods of Lahore. He has about 5,000 books in his motorbike driven store. Recently he has started lending books to those who can NOT afford to buy books but still want to get hold of a book or two to read. In my view, Abdul Khaliq, a proud owner of a mobile old book store is a beacon of hope for many in our society who have, despite all odds, made a huge difference without even knowing about their contribution!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pakistan Ka Khuda Hee Hafiz!

Samaa TV has fired the entire team of  idiots who ridiculed common citizens of Pakistan in the name of moral policing ( a crime in itself). As soon as this show got viral on You Tube, concerns/protests started pouring in regarding limits the media should exercise as well as the ethics and code of conduct that should be followed while conducting programs.

Difference between private space, invasion of privacy, human rights violation, harassment, right to choose to be on TV or not as well as what makes a responsible behaviour have to be taken into consideration by TV administrations. In my opinion, at this point, the morning shows are a dis-service to Pakistan - questionable behaviour on these shows is simply contrary to what defines Pakistan and Pakistani-ness per se. I strongly feel that most of the talk shows or political shows are more of a circus - full of loose talk and verbal diarrhea and nothing else. Sadly, entire team of the program in question is still in some sort of a bubble and believe that what they did was a good cause and there is a conspiracy behind all this. :-)

Newspapers around the world covered this shameful and irresponsible act which was morally, ethically, socially, religiously wrong. The New York Times, LA Times, BBC, Herald Tribune, Asian Correspondent - literally, newspapers worldwide criticized the manner in which the program was conducted. Everybody who saw the clips is convinced that an apology (in a right manner) is still due. By the way, the word apology is defined as "a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another". To say the least, it must be apologetic but what we saw was anything BUT apology.

How to tackle this menace is a pressing question in a country where lawlessness sees no bounds? My best bet is that legal suits and heavy fines may bring some relief. 'Mayas of sorts' are in abundance and another equally questionable anchor is:  Jasmeen also from Samaa TV (who can only shout but NOT talk normally) and the list goes on. Such anchors/hosts  must go through checks and balances before they open their mouth. These schizopheranic TV hosts needs medical treatment and not the Pakistani television audience on whom they throw their baggage of verbal trash and dirty thoughts using televisons in our living rooms, on our families, on our children and on our citizens at large on daily basis. This nuisance MUST STOP and sooner the better!

According to the New York Times article "...A Television Show Goes Too Far" contributed by Declan Walsh here, states that:

"... television is ...a lucrative business controlled by powerful, largely unaccountable tycoons. Last year Pakistan’s television ... advertising revenues ... (were) ... more than $200 million  — 28 percent more than the previous year. Amid stiff competition for viewers, channels have relied on populist measures — rowdy political talks shows and, in recent times, vigilante-style “investigative” shows modeled on programs in neighboring India."

NYT while quoting the host of the show writes:

"...She also denied that there was anything unusual about asking couples for their wedding certificateeven though she does not carry one. All of “Pakistan knows me and my wedding pictures,” she said. “So I don’t have to.”  NYT further states that :

"...four local non-government organisations (are filing) a civil suit against Samaa TV in Pakistan’s Supreme Court, hoping to galvanise the country’s top judges into action."

If someone will research and dig a little than they will realize that Samaa TV in particular has a number of "questionable programs" in their pandora's box. Though this channel has apologized and Pakistanis as a nation are those for whom an apology suffices and are celebrating it but in my view the channel's heavy-handedness, shameful track record and short-term memory loss - where they have NOT learned from their mistakes - should be seriously scrutinized and penalized.

In an interview,  the producer of the program in question on BBC Urdu said that he is not responsible to anyone, at all. The language he uses is objectionable. His interview is worth listening and I am extremely sad that "this type" of (jahils) people are vested with so serious and critical positions. God forbid!

In recent years Meher Bokhari, Amir Liaquat Hussain and sorts despite being guilty of spearheading hatred, and violence by their remarks that led to the death of people in different cities are still working for the electronic media. People with mental disorders and split personalities must be thrown out from public domains. The cancer of "munafiqat" (hypocrisy and contradictions) be treated on urgent basis before it is too late but the irony of Pakistan is that we do NOT have accountability at any level and anyone can easily get away with anything in Pakistan.

On media's vigilante behaviour, I believe that the best discussion was aired by PTV's Moeed Pirzada in "Sochta Pakistan". He had in his panel Quatrina Hosain, Mohammad Malick, Farzana Bari and PEMRA Chairman. They also had Maya - host of the show in question. The entire program can be seen here on You Tube. Maya raised suspicion with regard to the mentality of the whole panel of Sochta Pakistan which left me thinking about the integrity of this woman - Maya. Media has made these god-forsaken TV hosts larger than life, these hosts are the judge and the jury, BBC rightly said that they act like the "vice of God". These TV anchor/hosts are vested with absolute power without realizing that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Moeed Pirzada's concluding remarks were very interesting and were equally shared by the panel in which he  said that the (former/X) host Maya is on denial and has NO CLUE of her irresponsible behaviour. She is unable to understand that she has committed a moral wrong".

In the last 15 years, one thing that left a really bad taste in my mouth is the TV channels of Pakistan. On daily basis Pakistan's traditions, culture and values are torn apart ruthlessly in the name of freedom of media/press etc by TV mafia. My humble request is that: please stop sabotaging beautiful Pakistani culture and traditions - or else, Pakistan ka Khuda hee Hafiz!