Saturday, October 21, 2017

Let Go

  
The older guy smiled and said 'Yes, he knew the place and had walked the familiar corridors'. The young man, in some puzzlement and trepidation, looked at the older person and nodded. 'I have heard your name before, they say you were very good'. The older guy, was not even sure his name was  recognised. Long time ago, these corridors belonged to him and were his creation. C'est la vie.  
The mace passes. What is today will not be tomorrow. Do not forget it. Age gracefully. Move on before your downtime comes. Let go! Leave some of yourself behind. So that some of it is remembered, which in time will also be forgotten. Do not hold onto the past. It is a recipe for defeat, ridicule and pain.    
This is the best advice I would give to anyone, in youth or old age.. There is a time and place for things. One day move on and do new things.  And some day like all humans, we will go the way of eternity. There we can seek the everlasting. 

Lastly the best words related to this are from Percy Shelley in Ozymandias.   
    
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” 

*picture is from Pinterest.com 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Life's like that"

Such a common phrase. We hear it used often. "Life's like that". It explains much and most of us, who have lived long enough, understand it immediately. It does not need any further clarification.

There was a time in younger and more idealistic days, we would rant and rail when destiny went against us. A bad umpiring decision in cricket would bother us for days. I  remember the awful decisions against Pakistan during the 1982 England series (no neutral umpiring in those days). We were angry for days, as it meant not winning our first series in England. Alternatively, sometimes it was just about luck. A terrible FA Cup final in 1977. Liverpool would have done the treble that year, long before any other European team. But they missed out on the FA Cup, while winning the  League and European Cup.  In the FA Cup Final they    attacked Manchester United all the game, were parked in  their area and scored only one goal. ManU attacked twice during the whole game, and scored two goals. The second goal was a horrendous deflection of a ball going well out, but catching an errant foot and looping over Clemence into the goal. I was distraught for days. The reach of Allah had meant this to happen.  

You see plenty of lack of perfection and equity in life. And this discussion need not be about personal events. Infact, through the course of life, the personal blips are the least bothersome. Generally, a person feels that one has the capacity to get over personal setbacks, injustices or failures. It is the events which are uncontrollable and happen to others which bother the most. So one of the most bothersome was the gruesome Bosnian war in early 90s. Watching those horrible events on television was excruciating. But other than donate money there was not much we could do. Similar events in Syria, brought sadness and helplessness to the fore. Donating money is never  enough. The inner conscience requires action and in today's very structured world, one feels disenfranchised in such situations.

Eventually, through the course of this life, we actually do learn that Life has a mind of its own. I think of it as Allah's will, others will have different names. This world is not a perfect place called Jannah.  Life is about striving; the good, the bad and the ugly, all will be thrown at us. It's up to us how to handle them. Decades ago, the lyrics of Bob Dylan made much sense. His words about the perceived injustices of this world rankled and pained. We were always ready to take up a cause, however small. Then slowly, life taught us a lesson. Even Dylan stopped ranting and raving and became more mainline. He became a born again Christian, lost his revolutionary fervour and eventually the establishment gave him a Nobel Literature Prize!  


That unfortunately happens to us as we grow older. Experience, attrition and a declining ability, teaches us that 'Life's like that'. We grow to accept this and sadly go the way of all humans. Our destiny is that. This is life and not Jannah.

*the cover of Two doors Down.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A List of Hope


 
Forever one has tried to be positive in this life. Even in the   worst of times. That is a trait which beats next to the heart   and keeps it ticking. Recently, after a couple of these 'knife  in the guts type' world wide events, I was going to write a  list of despair. Fortunately, reflection made me change it into a list of prayers. 

So I pray fervently, with a sincere heart, without any prejudice and with belief in Allah.

  • I pray that all wars go away and killing fields disappear. 
  • I pray that the rich become softer and less concerned about themselves.
  • That the poor become more hopeful and happier.
  • Perhaps corporates, superstar actors, singers, sportsmen, high flying executives be less greedy and more human.  
  • That journalists and judges are good, honest people.  
  • That wealth is distributed more evenly; the rich give more.  
  • That humans waste less and not cut trees.  
  • I pray that humans do not starve, go unclothed or have no roof. 
  • That children have a chance to play and the old a chance to rest. 
  • That education is for all.
  • That everyone finds a passion and stays engaged in life. 
  • That religions find their space and Allah guides all. 
  • That armies disarm and spies go home to their families.
  • I pray there are no refugees and humans welcome all. That home is everywhere. 
  • That discrimination on language, colour or creed does not happen.
  • That leaders are servants and not rulers.
  • Once everyone gets their due,  justice is not needed.
  • That everyone loves and finds their love.
  • That the softer subjects prevail and arts and spirituality abound everywhere.
  • That humans guard their tongue and hurt others less.
  • That people will be healthy,  live long and be happy.
  • That people will acquire wisdom and big hearts. 
  
I pray for the above and much more. Just a small list of wants. Now who is to say, Allah (swt) might accept all this in his absolute wisdom, knowledge and power. Ameen.


Monday, September 4, 2017

The Darogha Mindset

In Mughal times the Darogha was a senior position. The Empress Nur Jahan's mother, Asmat Begum was a Darogha in the Mughal courts. Her position of authority and custodianship was the charge of the women quarters of the Mughal King. This was a high honour and a position of some trust and authority. 

When you research the word Darogha, it carries several meanings, including an inspector, a manager, a warden and a custodian. To me personally, it is about security, and hence, I use the word Darogha as oft used, to equate to sentry. So rather than a broad spread, I looked at it as a narrower definition for the purpose of this blog.

Ibn-Kathir, writing some seven hundred years ago, made a startling revelation. His source, was apparently from the earliest Muslim texts. Writing in his End of Days history, he predicted that the Muslim 'zawaal' (decline) will come when sentries will be posted on Muslim rulers as guards for security and safety.  You just need to be on the streets of some of the Muslim countries, when todays rulers are commuting. In one instance, I personally witnessed eighty security cars in the flotilla accompanying one of our rulers. 

What would be the logic of Ibn Kathir's definitive statement about the future? In the time of Umar bin Khattab (ra) a man came with a petition from Egypt, citing the injustice of the then Governor. He found, Umar (ra), the Caliph of Islam, standing alone in the street, wearing simple clothes and with no security. It showed that Hazrat Umar had no need to fear his safety. His faith and his deeds (as Caliph) left no need for security. He was ruling with his conscience and any adversity on this path did not matter. Life had little meaning, without it being on the right path and death was welcome rather than do any wrong. It is no wonder, that three of the first four Caliphs suffered shehadat, but did not compromise on what they thought was right.

Unfortunately, this thinking does not simply stop at security. It pervades into our lives. I can remember, one hardly ever saw a sentry or guard in my younger days. A deteriorating mindset has led to the present situation. But what it really implies is a lack of trust. When you expand that to our 21st century society, then you see it everywhere. On one side people are causing lack of trust by their actions and on the other side we are not ready to trust anyone. It's chicken and egg and I am not sure which has followed what. 

You see it in our daily lives. Guards everywhere. Cross confirmation everywhere. To open a bank account you have to prove your life history. To get a visa or permit, the examination is all encompassing, including finger printing. Documentation in commerce is all invasive; cross checks and audits are absolutes. You may have got used to it, because you have not seen better, but I promise you some few decades ago this was a free world. You could actually travel without a visa and you could open a bank account without proof. Somewhere, we decided we are not capable of this higher level existence and descended to a Darogha mindset. Now we guard and watch everything. And even the watchers have watchers on them. Some societies have on average a monitoring camera for every dozen people. Soon we will require computers to watch our cameras...George Orwell partially saw this slavery a long time ago (1984).


A very stunning example of this Darogha Mindset which I personally witnessed recently. On trying to enter a hotel mosque to say prayers, I was asked to produce an  identity to prove I was connected to the hotel, either as guest or an employee. So the Darogha is now even preventing the worship of Allah. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

2087

I estimate that if events were to go positively, then in some seventy years, in the year 2087, my great-great-grandchild will be in the range of 7-10 years, In-sha-Allah.       

It's a totally ridiculous piece of forward planning, in a world where Allah is Qadir and might dispose as He wishes.  But an even more audacious piece of forward planning is, I am hoping that these great-great-grandchildren would be resident either in Siberia or Northern Canada!!!   
   
There is some method to this thought process. If present trends continue, then not many places will be liveable on Earth. With Himalayan glaciers gone, Pakistan, Northern  India, Bangladesh and eastwards, plus Southern China will all be barren deserts, high temperature and not much to drink and eat. Other ice masses, Arctic, Greenland and  Antarctic will also recede, causing damage elsewhere in the world. So, Africa, Southern Europe, Australia, much of USA, South America will be very unfriendly places too. Growing wheat will be a challenge, the outside temperature will be unbearable and water scarcity would be extreme. Some hardy souls will eke out a living from these places, but these would be like oases in a desert. Perhaps some areas of Northern Europe might be habitable, but it would be so overcrowded with climate migrants that one can see it being a messy place.

That is a conclusion I reached, having worked and lobbied on climate change and water for close on to two decades.  From being eternally passionate about saving humanity from its own folly, to being certain something will change, I have now become realist enough to feel we may be headed towards self-extermination. Sadly! Infact, recent forecasts from some experts suggest that the sixth mass extinction in this worlds history has already begun. 

Why this conclusion? Well most of you who will read this blog, are well aware that there is real danger on the horizon. But are you doing anything about it? You are going about your daily struggle of existence - and I acknowledge that goal in itself is a tough one - and do not spend a passing thought on what is coming just around the corner.

What we are witnessing today is, huge temperature rise in US, Europe and in Kuwait recently, trees by the road side caught fire, as temperatures reached 59 degree Celsius.  This is not normal and in the last fifteen years, average temperature worldwide have risen year on year. And let me elaborate a bit more. What we are witnessing today is the effect of our actions from the last century. The damage we have caused in the last twenty years, has still not come home to roost. This is a delayed cycle and it will be coming around soon enough.

While we doggedly go about our daily business of survival, ignoring our future, the damage to other species continues. So plants, animals, amphibians, birds, bees and sealife is all disappearing at a pace. We just ignore the fact that without this eco system, we will disappear too. Unfortunately, our climate sceptic corporates, with the oil and gas corporations at the head, are ignoring this story. They are simply playing out the same tactics as they did with tobacco. Pay politicians, lobbyists, scientists and media to create a sense of doubt, that the story is not real. The first knowledge that tobacco kills was available in the 1950s.  Sixty years later, they are still fighting a retreating battle of pro choice. Cigarettes are being consumed at a higher level worldwide, than it was sixty years ago. 


In the case of climate change, we have not got sixty years. We probably do not have even ten. We are standing at the edge of a precipice. If the people and nations of the world do not take immediate action, the battle is lost. It probably is even now. We need to do simple things. Consume less, travel less, burn less fossil fuel, use alternative energy, save water, stop cutting trees and plant them again. We need to go back to some of the basic ways of living, which served us well till the 19th century. If we do not do all this, we will be exterminated. That is why I personalised this at the beginning, in that I fear I too shall have no progeny to carry on the work of man.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Our Home ❤

The question is simply what makes a home and how much is it worth to one? 

My home was handed down to me by my elders, and it is old and it is dilapidated in places. it has got some rotten pipes and wiring and  at times it is frustrating to maintain it. Some of the residents are much favoured, while others are less so. And the family fights and oft times there is injustice in the decisions. But for all the problems, it is my home, has been all my life and it is my identity. For the life of me, I have never been able to nor have any wish to be out of this home. Because it is mine and I love it. And to be truthful, what someone else (from another place) thinks of it, is of little relevance.   

My home Is identified by an old, upright, stately man, the likes of whom I cannot see anywhere in the last century. It is identified, by high mountains, rivers, deserts, large fields, by another bearded human who gave his life working for the needy, by a man holding a crystal glass trophy aloft and then making a cancer hospital, by a painter who painted Allah's words every which way, by a poet whose words and wisdom will survive till the end, and by two women who brought our home awards on the world stage, for their courage and strength. It has had singers and artists galore and writers who the world admires.   

It is no ordinary place and as I get older it brings a bigger wrench to the heart to see it suffering. More and more, it's songs bring tears to the eye and it's young bring a shine and glitter. I cannot define this love affair which has lasted a lifetime, but I know that by changing my green book for a red or blue one will not bring happiness. This home of mine has been given to me by my Quaid's generation and for better or worse, one will live and die here.

My prayer on this day is that we live together, we are just to our people, we love all and do our best. Rest we leave to Allah, who made this home on 27th Ramadan, for what purpose only He knows.


A very happy 70th birthday to Pakistan, our home!💖💖💖

Friday, July 21, 2017

Do Schools serve their end?

The caption from Bruce Springsteen's famous words really says it all. Maybe, I need not expound on this further. However, to do a fair evaluation of the subject of school and learning, we shall start with positives.     
       
School taught us to think. What does that mean? The process of structuring thought. To use logic, to recognise emotions, to react with thought or impulse. To read a situation and come up with an answer - unfortunately the answers are wrong, because the motivation targeted behind the thought, is wrong.      
What else did school teach us? It taught us to concentrate for long and some of us learned to work hard and understand the worldly equation of success and rewards, failure and repercussions. Again the problem is this worldly equation (driven by economics and competition) itself is a lie, so our chase itself is wrong.  
      
That is mostly it. Yes, I understand we learned many subjects, but all those have been forgotten. Even language as taught at school, was not used in our daily lives. We just learned a different method to write and talk at work and in the house. And to add, this is not to denigrate the wonderful caring souls who taught us in school, i.e. our teachers. They are not to be faulted at all, it's the crazy system. 

For a sum total of plus 20 years of education, that is pretty awful results.    
   
Now if I alone was saying this, then it was I, who must have been a lower quadrant student. But, it's what almost all my contemporaries tell me also. School did not teach us life. It taught us stuff which failed to translate into any use in the real world. It did not teach us the art of living. It did not reach inside and touch us lifelong.  
     
Along the way, outside the curriculum and in the real world, we learned much. Firstly somewhere we learned a bit of a value system and secondly we learned the emotions quotient. We learned how to deal with people, how to interact in various situations, how to live together in society and how to get ahead. Laughter, fear, scorn, friendship, love, hardships, pain, rejection all came as a dose and left us more knowledgeable. Many of us learned compassion and giving, unfortunately many learned taking and exploitation.     
  
Now looking back over a life which has wound its normal course, surely, there must be a better way? Packed together, stressing out over results, facing the wrath of teachers and parents, we have collectively lived a lie. It has made some of us weak, others evil,  a few rebels and many saddened normal humans. This could have been much better, because schooling has been around forever, but we do not seem to have learned and improved.
      
Schools sole purpose should be to create rounded humans, who will go on and create harmony in their environment. Society's betterment has to be our end goal. No wonder, the world is such a dog-eat-dog place, where today only eight people own more than the sum of half the worlds population. Surely that cannot be right? ( Oxfam report on world wealth )


The worlds 7.3 billion people, are paying the price of our schooling. 

*picture from weheartit.com