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Archive for the ‘Ranting’ Category

Repost from Chai and Charas (My other blog)

The blank page can be daunting. But at the same time it offers a world of possibilities and freedom that only those who can muster up the courage to face the blank page understand. No dis-respect intended towards those who don’t write, but those who do will probably understand what I am talking about. Back after my hiatus from the pages of this magazine, I had the daunting task of writing something that would not be completely mundane and boring, as my life has seem to become.
Since there is nothing of particular interest going on in my own life; I have finished the course work for school and now wrapping up projects and working part time at two jobs to keep busy. I resort to offer commentary and personal opinions on some events happening around the world, mostly in Pakistan – the homeland.

Karachi the city by the sea that I have learned to love for its complexity and bustling life, but grown to hate for its violence, its areas divided on ethnic lines and the traffic lets not forget traffic, The time I spent there would be one I remember fondly but it recently made headlines – it usually does for all the sectertation violence but for a factory burning and killing around 300 workers, a tragedy but largely gone unnoticed in the country for the post part. Those responsible hide behind their political clout and hordes of money. Innocent lives being lost has become such a way of life for us that it hardly even makes a blip on the radar. Yes the government promised action, justice and accountability for those families who are now without a source of income. But haven’t we seen all this before? There will be ‘discussions’ and ‘committees’ and a lot of people talking in their fancy boardrooms, but when will justice prevail? The rich remain aloof, the middle class remain torn b/w their needs and wants and the poor, well someone has to clean the streets and be the poster cause of some rich socialites charity cause.

Which brings me to the second item on the agenda – recently I started noticing some Facebook activism going on in my newsfeed; something around Islam and the Holy Prophet. Now I am not a particularly religious person, but I believe in limits to freedom of speech, and when your free speech clashes with my freedom. The cause behind the protests (which I later found out was not limited to Facebook but in the middle east there have been incidents of violence and the such, I shall spare the details) is a movie by some guy which portrays the Prophet in bad light. Muslims are an emotional bunch, and after the incident with the Danish Cartoons, people should have learned not to touch our raw nerves. We almost always react to such incidents in violence and bloodshed. However beyond all the violence and bloodshed was a picture that appeared in my inbox. A story of a man in the UK distributing free copies of the Koran (Quran) with English translation in an attempt to bridge the understanding between Muslims and non Muslims. Admirable. Why cant we react to such incidents in a more civilized manner, rather then burning down everything that lies in our path, Yes the movie is offensive, I personally only saw the 14 minute clip and it seemed completely random and production value, direction acting everything was something a high school kid would make for his school project. The actors claim they did not know what the movie was about or what it was intended for. Motivations and intentions of the clip aside, I admire the spirit of the person in the UK and hence wanted to highlight his reaction above everything else, perhaps if we did not resort to violence, we could actually bridge this massive gap between Muslims and everyone else.

This was different then my usual works of satire and humor. But I personally felt like these incidents are something I needed to bring out, and express my opinion over. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and some of you may agree, some of you may disagree, but lets try make a positive change.

tra The End as we know it – Fiveless. Credits: com

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Nawab Nafees was a student of Z.A Bukhari for 3 years and the only man alive to claim as such. Apart from his family, most of the people who worked with Bukhari has passed away. So he was quite literally, a window into the past.
I had the chance to meet him in person, at Kuch Khaas. We discussed Bukhari, the man he knew, the memories he had and the time he spent with him at great lenght. To record this, I decided to film an interview with him. An interview but not of the format in which I questions and he answers them. But rather, I outlined some topics I wanted him to talk about, and in b/w takes we would discuss the questions, and what he should talk about next. For the filming, I asked the Usman Mukhtar aka Joey. With over 8 hours of shooting over two days, we managed to have 45min of footage of Nawab Nafees talking about Z.A Bukhari. A documentary is in the pipeline if we can track down other people who knew him, or his family and they agreed to be filmed.

Apart from the film, a webstie (www.zabukhari.com) is under construction, where his pictures, video’s, audio, letters and other material collected will be posted. Along with a general shoutout to people who have any material on him, or knew him to write to us about it.

So that is that.

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Dear Mr President.

I realize you’re quite busy. You have a country to run. I wouldnt even have an inkling of what that is like. I have had a short stint with ‘managment’, I imagine running a country is quite like that. Reports on excel, and replying to emails, calling meeting, conference calls and memo’s around the office. Is it?

Not quite? I’d imagine not. Ofcourse you dont send out memo’s or emails. Why would you, you are the President of the country. People probably flock around your ostancious office, pleading their woes. You dont call conference calls, our national airline is your chartered airline.  You fly it and bend it to your will. The entire country is your ‘backyard’ as they would say. Untill the next election.

Now Mr President, I dont mean to digress or insult. Merely humor you. You see, there’s humor even in the darkest of situations. If all else is lost, one must retain the capacity to laugh at oneself.

I am not sure if you are aware Mr President, but I have been your neighbour for almost 2 years now. 2 years is a stretch, but it serves to get the point across; I am not the casual observer. But your friendly neighbour. Yes Mr Predisent, you’re quite right, I live in that building across the road from your personal residence in Karachi. Aptly name after your son from your late wife, Bilawal House. I meant to ask Mr President, is that it’s actual name or something the local’s named it in affection for your late wife and her son from Oxford. Yes, quite the ‘idol’ worshippers we are Mr President.  Even though the Prophet himself smashed the Idols within the city of Makkah, we have replaced the clay idols with flesh gods. The irony is not lost on me Mr President, I am quite sure you appreciate it more then I could.

Now Mr President, having been your neighbour for 2 years, since you won the election, riding the wave of sympathy over your wives death, not only have huge billboards erected with your late wife’s pictures pasted on it, but the cities security being your own personal body gaurds and watch dogs shut off an entire section of the road for your security and well being. Now Mr President, I’d imagine shutting down half of a two lane road was quite enough to distress the common citizen. All in the name of security ofcourse, and the fact that you can do anything you wish, you proceeded to shut off the whole lane . Now Mr President I have to point out, that is quite rude, what would your neighbours say?

Mr President, are you fimiliar with the Gaza wall? Yes the one made by the Zionist Empire around Gaza to keep away those insects from their land. To my distress Mr President, I saw a Ghaza wall being errected along the road across your house. Yes Mr Preisdent, a 20 foot high conrete wall. Now Mr Predisent, who are the Zionists and who are the Insects in this case? Mr President, your people, ‘Love’ you. They loved your wife more, which is why you came to power nonetheless, they love you. Mr Predisent, I assure you, closing down an entire lane was quite the display of your power over the people, that you didnt need to build a concrete wall along the lane that still remained open to make your point. Not to mentioned the ‘Elite Police Force’ posted along the road itself, and the barriers.

I understand Mr President, that to make a point, one must supress the people of this wretched nation, but surely this is not the Middle East?

Mr President, I assure you, I mean well. I am just a humble neighbour, who wanted to bring this to your attention. You ofcourse have a country to run, and cant be bothered with minsulces details. That is why I brought it upon myself to bring this to your attention.

Sincerly Yours,

Kamil Rextin

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My friend, M.Ali just sent me a long SMS. It’s too long to share here. And frankly no one will ever read this, except Tehni, and Tehni I can always forward it to you. But the crux of it, ‘Lets do something, Lets believe in something bigger then ourseleves, lets change the country, Lets change the world’ Shall we?

I have already mused enough about this, on my own blog. And I will probably copy paste this draft into my own little corner in cyberspace (That sounds so 90′s).

I was watching an episode of Battlestar Galatica, S03 E16 to be exact. In it, the Trilium Ore Refinery goes on strike, and demands the living conditions to be improved on the refinery. Admiral Adama and President Laura arrest the guy for treason. Can you blame them? No – Your fighting for the survival of the human race. You dont get breaks when the Cyclons might jump in and end humanity. No, you do what you need to do.

Adama sends Cheif Terol, to fix the situation and get the refinery going, otherwise the whole fleet would be out of fuel. Vipers, Raptors, every ship a sitting duck. The Chief goes aboard the ship, and he takes a tour of the refinery. He see’s kids, 12 – 15 year olds working the machines. The whole episode reminded me of Motorcycle Dairies. But I shall express my ‘valued’ opinon later. So something inside him snaps. He goes to talk to the president. Tells her, ‘Do you see what is happening? Jobs are starting to be inherited. So I train my son to become a deck hand, because thats what I am? Is that all he can be? Is that all he can be?’

So the President starts rotating people with similar experience to the refinery. But some 15 year old kid, who was a farmer gets seriously injured, the Chief snaps.   He turns of the main switch and declares ‘We are on Strike’.

Needless to say, he gets arrested, and thrown in the brig (jail). Adama comes to see him, tells him to call of the strike. He doesnt budge. He calls the marines, and tells them to get his wife Cally and put her against a wall with a gun to her head. Chief protests, says he has a son, Adama cant do this.

Adama says ‘ Understand me. The very survival of this ship may depend on someone getting an order, that they want to do. And if they hesistate. If they fell that orders are sometime optional, then this ship will perish, and so will your son, and the entire human race.’

The Cheif stands down. Adama gives him the sit down with the president. They have a talk, the chief talks about how jobs and occupations have become soley based on a persons birth and ethnicity, if your born poor, you do the dirty jobs, if your born rich and on Caprica, you work as a professional in the higher echelons of society. ‘Its just a fact of life’.

The Chief says to the President of the colonies ‘ But I think we can level the playing field.  There are alot of dirty jobs that need to be done everyday on this fleet, jobs like cleaning, hauling and low level maintenance. These are the kind of jobs which should be allocated to people, well no offence Mada’me President, but people like yourself’

President ‘ No offense taken … if this society is becoming too polarized b/w an entrenched political class and a disenfranchised underclass, we are doomed… ‘

Reminds me of Karl Marx and Communism. Yes I wear ‘Red’ around my sleeve. I come from a family who farmed lands, not their own, for all their lives. And yet, my old man worked his way up and is one of the most respected people in this country. I have seen how genuinely people respect him. It’s not fear, or hatred. It’s love. It’s genuine love, because he did touch their lives. He inspires me. There was a time, like in any young boys age, when I hated my father, because to put it simply, he was never there. But like my brother said to me then, ‘Kamil, Dad is out there doing great things, he’s changing the world, don’t hold it against him’. But I did, for the longest time. And then I grew up. Another memory etched in my brain is when my dad returned from his frequent forgien trips. I was 10, maybe 11 then. I remember we went to the airport to pick him up. When he sat in the car, my first question to him was ‘Wow, you must have seen some very cool cars there’, and he looked at me and said, ‘Gul there are greater things in life, then fancy cars’. Yes he is a communist.

My father is a subject for a book, I have been begging him to write with me. So I wont discuss it here. But to end the topic of my father, he has touched the lives of so many people, and they love and respect him for it. He’s not a rich man, but his wealth is immense.

Trailing of into the darkness, here’s my parting thought. Lets live for something greater then ourselves shall we?

Hungarian Skies – RealityDream -Deviant Art 

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What shall follow below is a very short attempt at a book review of ‘ Welcome to advertising, now get lost’ by Omkar Sane.

Welcome to Advertising, now get lost – Front Cover 

Let me begin by giving a short background; it was friday evening. I was not looking forward to the long weekend ahead, so I took a walk to the local Liberty Books outlet near my apartment. The memories of the Karachi Book Club meeting quaint in my memories, I started browising through the shelves. I had little no or idea what I was looking for. “Surprise me” was my challenge to the books that lay dormant on the shelf, holding their thoughts tightly within their bindings. ‘Surprise Me!’ I challenged the books. Surprise me they did. I saw a rather colorful cover in b/w the shades of grey. Like a bride amongst the brides maid. The striking colors grappling at my vision, I slowly reached for it.

Now you must admit, the title isnt the easiest to read. The rather ‘retro’ cover art melds with the title, and it’s rather hard to actually figure out the name of the book! But notwithstanding all the gibersih, it struck me, this is the book chosen as Book of the Month – by the Karachi Book Club. Voila, problem solved. I had my pick. Now to delve into the delightful pages.

‘Acknowledgments are overrated’ thats where he begins. First impressions, this guy seems like a cocky 20 something, who thinks not acknowledging anyone is ‘Cool’ and ‘Funny’. I thought it was surprisingly immature. I cant even give him points for originality, because it seems an awful lot like forced slapstick humor. In fact, I wanted to say out loud -’ If your parents thought this was farcical, maybe they had a point’.

First bitter tastes in the mouth seem to appear. But to be fair, I don’t form a judgment. Maybe this book will ‘Surprise me’.
It’s followed by 2 prefaces by two ambiguous Indian men. Supposedly advertising gurus, but none of my concern. One even goes as far to say ‘The best thing I can say about this book is, I wish I had written it’. *cough*

I am sad to say, it does not get any better from there.   What I expected was a witty commentary on the Ad culture in India. Witty, humours, but with purpose. Sarcasm thrown in wouldn’t have hurt. What I got instead for the next 50 pages I managed to read through was something along these lines:

National Creative Director (NCD): So you have an idea?

Junior Creative: Yes sir, if we place the car…

NCD: Oh you mean like the Merceede’s I now own?

JC: Yes sir, so I was thinking if we place a car, like your Merceede’s,  against a hotel…

NCD: Oh you mean like the hotel i stayed at during my last visit to London?

JC: Yes.. exactly…

… Yes thats pretty much the content of the whole book. Each chapter is then diligently followed by a ‘quiz’ to check your knowledge each person plays, i.e. if you are the NCD you take credit for all the idea’s you’re juniors come up with. In essence you frack them over.

Now I might have been harsh in my judgements. But I do have a beef with wasting Rs 800 on a book that I cant even take seriously. Better idea would have been to have it as an article or a recurring column in a weekly paper or publication. It’s amazing you can write a whole book simply based on stupid imaginary dialogues and immature writing.

Yes I will probably burn this book if I manager to finish it. As a public service message. Please stay away from this book like a plague. And if you are one to like this book, then stay away from me for you are the plague.

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Where does it all end?

Where does it all fucking end? Money, money money. Career, career, career. Corporates, designations, names on doors. Business cards, cellphones, cars, bigger cars. SUVs. The whole damn showroom. Houses, castles, compounds, plaza’s. Does the human greed know no bounds?

More then a year ago, I came to this city by the polluted sea, not expecting what it had instore for me. I came with an open mind, but little hopes. It was my first job, it was a big deal I got hired by anyone. Let alone Procter and ducking Gamble.

‘congratulations, your going to P&G! You must be excited’

‘Eer, yeah… I am just glad those four years of engineering didnt amount to nothing. I am not a waste.’

They did amount to something. Middle Management. Smack in the center of the world driven by greed. You work, day in day out. You get a promotion. You get a fatter pay cheque. You climb the ladder. You buy a bigger house, a bigger car, hell even someday a ducking boat with a hot tub. Hours turn into days, days merge with months, months crossover into years, you loose what you held dear once. All thats left is a hallowed shadow. You learn not to question. To doubt. You learn to believe. Believe that your making the world a better place. Believe that people want to buy your product. Believe that marketing is not you shoving something down their throats. Bamboozle them into making the choice. But people are smart. Mobs are smart. The collective conscience is indeed individual choice, and individual choice dictates that they buy.

Buy. Buy. Buy.

Buy so you have your job, buy that countless others like you, blessed to have the best edcation this wretched country has to offer, so you and countless others can be a vital part of the alien culture.

Yes sixteen years of education so I can be conidtioned to be numb.

Get a good education – move to a bad neighbourhood? No thank you. I like where I am just fine.

 

Wounded by *Rueme

Wounded by *Rueme

 

 

 

 

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Ramadan Kareem

I am a day late in declaring this but, ‘Happy Ramzan’ my muslim brethern. Not that anyone reads my blog, but on the off chance, someone out there stumbles upon it, I want to make it clear, I am a Muslim. If not by choice and practice, then by birth. I particularly look forward to this month, gives me a reason to fix my bad habits and act more or less human. Others, shiver and tremble is fear, for  I assume they too are creatures of habit, but not welcome to change.

This year is different. I never remembered Ramzan to be this difficult. Or perhaps it’s the first fast that’s always the hardest. Or is it that I do my own cooking? Or is it that I was never a nicotine and caffeine addict? Modern luxuries, fast paced life have ruined my habits and made me into a raving addict of chemical kicks in the morning to get day started. Deprive me of my external influences and watch me fall apart; splitting headaches, terrible mood swings and lets not forget the general irritability and inability to function.

But, but … but, and I cant stress this enough;  Ramzan isn’t about getting over your addictions. It’s about getting closer to God, experiencing that spirituality that we so often ignore in our modern, fast paced, money chasing, ‘time is money’ life. Ramzan isnt a month or time for detox. It’s time for reflection and meditation.

‘Take it slow’ says God to us. ‘Take it slow and remember, what life is really about’.

Of course, neither of us listens. We, including myself, just go hungry and fight cravings all day. At sunset, we breathe a sigh of relief, indulging ourselves in gluttony.

‘How the hell can I think about God when I cant stop thinking about food/caffeine/nicotine’ Pick your poison, plug it in. There you have it. Staring at your own  reflection.

At the cost of sounding like a whinny baby, but this Ramzan, Eid, and 14th August, fly your flags in half mast; at least. In respect to those who have lost everything in the recent floods. A disastor greater then the tsunami in Bali, and the earthquake in Pakistan. If you cant go there, send them money, if you can send them money, pray for them. If you cant pray, think about them at the very least.

Here’s to the false hope, ‘This time it would be different’ , to silence the heart. But all in good spirit eh?

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