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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

I am not a fan of labels. Specially when it comes to myself. Though I call myself a geek for the love of all things tech and science, I still dont like that label. Perhaps, I label myself that out of disgust of what everyone is chasing, or rather be labeled as – ‘Cool’, ‘Corporate’, ‘Rich’ … you get my drift. I could call myself an artist, a writer, an activist, a pathan, a muslim, a pakistani, photographer, engineer, student, and the list goes on.

I started thinking about this when Maryam, asked the editorial team to write a short bio of ourselves for the TMS team introductions. I have never actually thought about myself, from a third persons eye. I am me, its that simple. The title itself suggests that. Perhaps my ego is too huge to allow myself to view my life and my self in introspection or objectively. Nonetheless, I have to attempt at this, the one starting below being my second (I am too ashamed of my first one to put it up here, as a friend pointed out – you sound like a pompous ass)

No wait before I start, how do I start. Crap. I cant do this.

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TMS

#TMS is the buzz I am creating now. Say it with me, #TMS – yes thats twitter terminology but humor me. #TMS.

The brain child of Maryam Piracha – http://www.maryampiracha.com. I first got a whiff of it when MP tweeted about her head hunt for editors. I pounced. She sent me some fiction and an article to edit. Funny, that I ended up on the editorial team, since  I actually sincerly thought I had crashed and burned. But voila.. you can find my name here -___-

TMS is all about a fresh perspective on the current publication industry. Submissions are now open. Find details on the website below! Yes people, we have gone live. And I for one, am looking forward to this new chapter in my life 🙂

*Yes a hint of optimism for a change – though I don’t expect it to be a rosy all the time*

One last time – #TMS,

TMS has now a home: http://themissingslate.com/

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Over Cooked Eggs.

His fingers are tapping on the hard walnut table. Its brown. Dark brown. So dark almost looks black, if it wasn’t for the ripples of light breaking across the grain, pouring down from the lamp on the table. He doesn’t really need to light a lamp. The writing process takes place on the laptop, the glow from the screen enough to spot and strike the right keys. But he likes how the smoke swirls and disappears against the light. How he can see the green grey smoke rising from the smoldering tip of his cigarette.

Over Cooked Eggs.

He takes a drag. Leans back into his chair. Smoke billowing from his nostrills, he stares at the title. What deeper meaning does it convey? None. Is it even possible to over cook eggs? Dont you simply burn and char them?

He decided to keep the title. Maybe it will invoke a readers curiosity.

Now for the plot, he tells himself. In a quiet voice inside his own head.

Over Cooked Eggs

Why are you staring at the bottom of your coffee mug?’

‘I read somewhere you can predict the future by infering from the pattern at the bottom’

‘Dont fill your head with mumbo jumbo bull. Ofcourse you cant. The future’s a mystery and yesterday is history. Snap out of it.’

He looks around. Dazed. His eye’s lock with the person across the table. The eyes can tell you alot about a person. And these were soft and kind. Maybe even a hint of concern.

‘You should talk about it’

‘But I dont want to.’

‘I am not saying talk to me about it, just talk to someone about it. Its not healthy to keep it all locked up inside and let it brew.’ Eyes boring into his forehead, with the intention of drilling a hole through his skull.

‘But time makes the flavour come out.’ He smirks and looks away. Turning his head towards the door.

‘No your not leaving like this. You have to promise me that you’ll talk to someone about it. I am worried about you. This is not healthy.’

‘Yeah fruits and vegetables are.’

‘What the hell was that about?’

‘Fine I’ll go see a shrink. Or  better yet get a prostitute and have her listen my woes. Maybe I’ll get a pity lay out of it for free.’

‘Your impossible!!’

‘Thats what they said.’ Pushing his chair away from the table and and motioning to get up. ‘I am heading for the loo. You care to join me?’

‘ Don’t be absurd. Your not my prisoner.’

‘Sure as hell feels like it. Catch you in another life.’

 

 

He leans back on his chair,staring at his screen. He takes a last drag and snubs out his cigarette. His index finger hovers over the ‘Delete’ button. Taking a deep breath he watches as the words he just wrote disappear off the screen and he’s left with a blank canvas to start all over again.

‘The night is still young’  he tells himself.



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Although, when i said to my self, let me try and write something meaningfull, i had a few idea’s in my head. Mainly after a conversation with Wad, i thought i’d write something pertaining to it. In either case Wad, this is dedicated to you. And to you Dad, coz you told me. Write something. This maybe not be published in the TFT, but i am making a sincere effort. And you; Dad, never asked for more. No matter what i churn out of my Medula Oblangatas, this post is dedicated to the both of you.

21 guns-Green Day to fuel my creative juices.

He asked me if i was happy. Moving to another city, miles from my home, family, living in an apartment with a stranger. I said i am content. I guess the answer is not that simple.

If i track back on the other posts i have written, on this blog, I start by ranting on about how i dont have a career or a job or no direction blah blah. Now i have all of those things. I have a job at a very good company. I am getting paid enough to keep a good lifestyle, and i am living on my own. Independent to make my own desicions. All that one could ask for? Or is it? Is it right for me?

Yes. It is. When i ask myself, ‘what would I be doing back home’. The answer, inevitably is i would be either thinking about all those things mentioned above. Sitting in the window ledge, wondering, and slowly killing my air bags in the process. Then i would eat, lay infront of the tv. Or sit on the internet. Nothing productive. So yes compared to that, this is a much better deal . Specially now since i got a good place to live in, and that gives me a peace of mind. I have a decent, no wait, an excellent place to come back to after a long days work.

Ofcourse then, the exercise of this blog is not to let the corporate world drown out the tiny voice in my head. The voice that drives me to question social norms, status quo, in short, that gives me that individuality that i pride myself so much for. My ego. The stack of books on my bed are to keep me grounded. I am not comfortable with money or power. They corrupt people. They are the eccense of the consumerism that is killing out society and our minds. A slow creeping death. The irony. I am part of  the machine that is driving that culture. The catch. I wont let it get to me. I think it was in some Islamic reference that i heard, ‘Life is a constant struggle’. And so it is. No one said its going to be easy.

I stayed at PC and Avari, all expenses paid when i first arrived in The City by the Sea. My first reaction when i arrived at the hotel, PC, was utter discomfort and conflict. I cant do this, i told myself. I dont deserve it, I dont feel comfartable with people running around me, picking up after me. Its inhumane. Its below human dignity to be a servant to another man. But i realized after a couple of days, thats their job. They might not have chosen to have smiles pasted on their faces and fullfill every ridiciolous demand that the guest makes. But it’s their job. It fills their stomach, and their wives and childrens. In the end, all that we should/ even maybe are judged for is if we made an honest living. With our head held up high. Even though these poor bastards cant hold their head high. They do make an honest living. For the sake of their families they bear it all. All i can do is make it easier for them. Hence I humbly passed my time at both the hotels. Always being polite. Always greeting the staff with a pleasant smile. Always being grounded and not forgetting, this is not my place. It is only but passing. I was hazed and disoriented but i managed to keep my head straight. That has been how i have been brought up.

If Ali had been in my place, and he was talking to you, Wad, he would suggest Islam as a source of comfort for your troubled self. So would my sister, Gol. I would too for that matter. Although there is much lacking from me in that front myself. I am yet to get a prayer mat in my new room. I dont believe in traditional religion and rituals maybe. But i have a strong belief in God. It is an utterly personal thing for me. Not to be worn on your sleeve or displayed in your beard and piousness in wearing your shalwar above your ankles. It comes as all forms of respect and love must. From the core of your existence. It is very personal.

When i first got the call for the job, i remember sitting infront of the tv, watching, horrified, the news of a bomb blast in Peshawer. This was the second time some close had been so close in proximity to the destruction. Rabia’s windows and doors were shattered by the blast. Before this, Feryal’s parents were inside Marriot when it blew up. I asked my self, my country is drowning in blood, and i am going to go and work in a comfartable office, with people who live in a different country. Their worlds are not touched by such things. Mine has been. Or i choose to make it a point to register such things. I cannot live in a comfartable bubble and pretend my world ends where the rest begins. Politics is something every person must have a say in. It touches us all. But my justification, right or wrong, time will be a judge of it, was that at that stage, a fresh gaduate with no job experience, no money of his own. What can i do? I know, this is the question that we all must learn to answer to make a difference. I was writing those days. And i wrote a piece on the carnage of the current civil war that i saw myself at Malakand, ‘Damage Control’. I strongly believe in the written word, and its power to bring about change. But my part is not done yet.

What do all these seemingly random threads of thoughts come down to? I strongly believe i am made for things that are beyond working in an office, day in and day out. I strongly believe there must be more to life, then simply the nihilistic circle of making and consuming. We are, by God, or my evolution, in possesion of a brain. Rather a mind, the abstract concept of the slobby organ on top. The abstract which learns to say ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘Why’, ‘How’  ‘When’, and all those questions. We are after all the only animal to ask questions about our own origins and look into science and spirituality for answers. For me, i believe it is writing. The power of language to express complex human thought and emotion in a way that others perceive  it and comprehend it is just fascinating. Must’nt we all have a higher purpose? That is a void, that can be filled with religion or science or art or any other thing of your choosing. Or let your intellect sink into a ocean of numbness and debauchery untill the tiny voice in your head is silenced.  Stop waiting for someone to show you the way. Make your own path. Think of Chris Columbus, or Alexandar, or Amstrong and his team at NASA, or Watson and Crick, or closer to my own heart and home, Abdus Salaam. There are many battles out there waiting to be fought. Pick one and get on with it.

I have a strong temptation to send this to TFT now that is has crossed the thousand words mark.

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So after much worrying, and delibration and again a little bit of worrying, i have finally moved into my own apartment. My own in the every sense of the word. I co inhabit this place. Which draws a thick line right down the rent and other costs. Hence making living a little bit easier. Yes it seems i have stepped out of shell and into my own. Flown from the nest so to speak. First staying at hotels, on my own, sponsered by the company ofcourse. But me. Not piggy back with my dad on one of his trips, but me! It’s all in digestion.

About the place. Well its furnished. It has a view of the sea and the sprawling city that is karachi. And its clean and has a lot of potential to become one of those living spaces one admires on tv. That requires work and commitment. My flatmate and I have already decided to paint the walls and jazz up the place. Right now as i am writing this, there’s a constant beat of the trance that blaring from the speakers in the next room in my ears. Not my taste, but its not vulgar. There is worse music people listen to out there.

I think i need to reaccess my blogging and writing, seems like it’s come down to chronicling my time here. Well maybe its just that newness of all of this that leads to this feeling like another ‘Dear Diary’ sob story.

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What you would ask does a man who is living at Pearl Continental have to complain about? Well to kick things off, i’ll start with my car ride, from the Karachi airport to the hotel.  The driver was a local. Myself not being used to the idea of being driven around by a driver, specifically for myself. I being a noob, started polite conversation. That apparently showed me as some rich snob who was staying at the pc on his own money. Now that never goes down well. He starting expecting a generous tip. I ignored it. If i have committed some unspeakable sin in doing so, amongst the elite culture of those who are used being driven around by chauffeurs then i humbly apologize.

I should however mention. This is me excercising the muscles of my mind to keep them from idling. After two online trainings at P&G about their brand equity and company values, (read brain washing), i felt the creeping fear in my bones that i was going to become one of them. This blog shall now serve the purpose of reminding me. This is just passing. I should not get used to it.

 

Driving past security, and a sniffer dog, a beagle if i am not mistaken. Used by the english in their famous fox hunts. A passing thought passed my mind, yes the irony.Why does not the islamabad police, in their vain attempt to hunt for bombs. Anyhow. Moving on, I entered through the huge glass doors. My luggage being catered to by men in uniform. The PC staff ofcourse, not the rangers stationed outside. I could’nt help but feel that this is what the Americans must feel like in the green zone, in Iraq and Afghanistan. A safe sancutuary, a world seperate then the one outside. Right in the soft lap of luxury.

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Starting over is never easy. And I don’t think there is any book on the subject. Or humanity for that matter that says it is. It is a wrongful assumption to make, to assume everything is a a piece of cake, in life. Specially if you have 16 years of science and education which all you have to speak for you, and at the end of it all, what you really want to do is write, or something. Then its starting from scratch.

I like to imagine if I got somewhere, on a job on the basis of my education and qualification, i would be at a, not being modest, comfy job with a steady income. But since my writing for TFT has taken a step forward, I have dared to dream of a different life, that was all but a far away speck for most of my existence. I tend to under estimate my technical capabilities quite a lot.  Maybe i am just not that comfortable with it. I never came to terms with my capacity as an engineer. Though i did do quite a few not so shabby projects in my undergrad work. Specially my FYP which was awarded the first prize. But sitting at an office job, 9-5 doesn’t agree with me. Life must, MUST amount to something more then simply providing for yourself and your family. So I have found a glimmer somewhere, a door creaked open, left like that by accident, and the opportunist in me has managed to get a few fingers hinged in. Hoping to push it open. Having no idea where it leads or whether it will even ever open fully for me to walk through.

I like to imagine myself breaking the rut, and trying something new. Does that make me brave? I like to think so. But having no strings attached makes this easier then it would have been later in life. Maybe.

RR offered me to be is Research Assistant. He just called as i was writing. He gets projects and research grants for studies and what not. Like agriculture in Pakistan. Good thing or bad thing is I’l be working from home. I was hoping to live in Lahore for a few months and maybe get to go places. Maybe all that is not lost yet. I have agreed to do it. If i am up for it, i’l be getting some money per month or per project, as per our agreement. How much and the mechanics of it all are still vague. He’ll send me the material and i’l go through it and give him the green light. Long hours and everything is all good. With nothing to do and all the time to spare, i might as well do something constructive and working with someone like RR, would be good exposure. Or atleast thats the idea.

So bottom line. Instead of wearing a suit to work everyday and sitting in an air conditioned office. I sit in my shorts at my laptop, typing away furiously at the keyboard now and again.

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