Wishing for you all the best in life. Today, it is your birthday. – I won’t say how old you are – as at this phase in life, ‘age just becomes a number.’ And… More
In 2008, I visited the Museum of Flight near Seattle, in Everett, in USA, with my family. I was happy to see a woman who had come there alone on a wheelchair with a person to assist her. It was heartening to see this woman who must be in her eighties, visiting the museum. Like any Pakistani, I felt bad that one never sees such a sight in Pakistan. Though the elderly do come over with their families, but a person seldom comes on the wheelchair, (on his/her own) as facilities are hard to find here. It would be the same in case of any handicapped or special person who has the time to visit such museums yet, has no facility of the kind. Anyhow, I’m just showing you this place, so when you come to Islamabad next, do go over to visit this memorial and museum.
You will love it, as I did. It is not too large either and can be seen within an hour and a half if you are in a hurry. Otherwise, a couple of hours would be lovely too.
However, I have a wheelchair for each of my parents, and decided to take them to see the Islamabad Museum on February 27th 2018. Since I had to take Dad’s helper along, so there wasn’t enough space for two wheelchairs. I thought, there would certainly be another one at the museum, so we went off.
The Sir Syed Memorial is located on the service lane at right angle to the Serena Hotel in G 5 area. We reached well in time, however, we found that there wasn’t another wheelchair there. So, we decided to leave one parent outside in the car, to enjoy the lovely weather, while the other one saw the museum. It was a challenge, but what else could we do? Being the sweet persons they are, they happily agreed.
A page out of my recipe book: The Fun Cook Book.
Most of my married life, I’ve loved cooking. Then one day, my mother-in-law – God bless her soul- said, ‘Shireen, it is good that you like to cook yourself. Remember there are days when you are unable to cook, so make sure your helper is able to cook instead of you. Sometimes, you are out of the home or have guests, then let him do the cooking.’
I had to share my thoughts with you now, when I found out that you are unwell and I was missing you so much.
You have always been such a central part of my life. I don’t like knowing you are lying in hospital now, and I’m here across the world from you. I’m a little comforted to know you are getting better now, but I can’t tell you how helpless I’ve felt knowing I can’t be with you. It was good to know Waliya was handling things so well. Also my uncle Jafar and cousin Hasan there too. Nadiya has also joined in from Lahore, so I’m content, you are in good hands.
Alhamdolillah, you are better, and back from hospital after three days. I want to share my feelings. You know, as a child, I was a little scared of you. Though, you were always loving, yet you had a temper…
View original post 1,790 more words
I don’t know why we put off good times for stressful times. I mean, that is what it comes to, when someone offers you a drive to the hills – that person wants you to have a good time. You decline saying I have this or that commitment. It is usually something which will be stressful for you. I mean, a short one-day trip is worth anything! You will return refreshed and in a better frame of mind to tackle your stressful commitments. Believe me, we should just rearrange our ‘work’ to include such trips. If you live in Karachi, a drive to the seaside is bliss. Similarly, in Islamabad, a drive to the hills and mountains is sheer heaven.
Basically, I love life. Why not? My God has made this whole earth, this universe for us humans. – Me actually. (Okay, You and me!) So, why not enjoy living here? Why not celebrate this stay here, specially, when we really have no idea about the ‘departure date.’
So, one can’t help but be grateful for it all.
I heard the twittering of the happy birds outside my bedroom windows, and kept it partly open to hear them, even though it was rather cold. When I looked out to see what they were so happy about, I found out they had already finished off half of my precious cineraria plants which I had lovingly brought yesterday. They were busy eating up the rest of them!
I had put their flower pots with the saplings on top of the wall in front of my bedroom window. Because on the floor, my dog Magic would have finished them off. He wouldn’t eat them, but play, and break the flowerpots. Sighhhh! What am I to do???
My golden Labrador Magic has finished off my precious lawn. Now, I’m wracking my brains and Pinterest while planning a grassless garden! My Cocker Spanial Paprika never did anything to my lawn except to pee in it. She was conscientious about not pooping in it, unless hard-pressed. She preferred to do it in my front door neighbor’s lawn. Irum’s husband hated Paprika, so my precious pet wanted to give him this gift of her poop. Of course, I’d have to hear about her death threats from him. ‘I’ll kill her!’ He would shout across the road. He also had a precious cat, which my dog loved chasing…. So, anyhow, cats will be cats and dogs will be dogs.
Neighbors will be neighbors. His wife is a good friend of mine. Believe me, she is. Now, with Paprika’s death, (a natural one) my neighbors’ husband has also mellowed down.
So, the other day when there was this wonderful painting exhibition of mine along with 24 other artists. Generation Rahi’s exhibition – which I was hosting also – there were many guests, and afterwards we were having snacks outside in the cold. It was a very sophisticated environment of course, with the ambassador there and what not. So, as I was talking to a guest, I tried to pull out my tissue as my nose seemed to need one. I put my hand inside my purse to get a tissue out, and out popped a pair of pop socks! I looked down in shock. The person also looked in. ‘Oops,’ I thought, ‘where did this come from?’
Then I remembered, yesterday, I’d bought a couple of these, and while the salesman tried to get me a plastic bag, I said, ‘no, it’s not needed.’ (I’m trying to reduce plastic bags.) I put them in my bag, meaning to put them in my cupboard drawer, later. So, I forgot all about it. That was embarrassing, and so funny.
Life goes on, and a couple of days ago, I was still recovering from my loss of my mentor, and then Asma Jehangir passed away. Such a great person, died at 65.
– A woman who felt the pain of all downtrodden people in Pakistan. Since there are many downtrodden people in Pakistan, so she spent a very busy and a very angry life. Due to this she was even more loved by all the downtrodden people of Pakistan. No wonder she was one of the most popular women.
So, Nageen Hyat (a gallery owner and women’s activist) had arranged a meeting at her place, of the Women’s Action Forum and all others who were interested. We all made a statement that we want an official burial ceremony for Asma Jehangir.
So, before that I had gone to visit a school for the poor, near my place. A person named Usman had called me up earlier, and asked me to see it. I had made my appointment many days ago with him.
As life is, it was raining heavily when I went, barely saving my car from getting stuck in the mud and puddles on the way to it. However, the trip was amazing. The children kind of stole my heart. It was a great pleasure meeting Usman. But I won’t tell you more because I’ll write properly later on about them. From there, I rushed across Islamabad for the meeting, for which I knew I was late. I had informed Nageen about it, she said it is okay as long as I do come. So, I managed to get to her area within record time, but missed her turning (due to my speed), and had to make a detour…. I found myself stuck in an unexpected traffic jam quite near her home, in F-6/1. I had never seen such a rush before. Pouring rain, and all cars jam packed and stuck. I thought perhaps there is an accident ahead. I saw a motorcyclist coming from that side, I asked him,
‘Bhai sahib kiya ho gaya hai?’ (‘What has happened?’) He pointed towards his mouth in an eating motion, saying, ‘samosa ki dukan hai.’ (‘There is a samosa shop there.’)
I was shocked. Everyone had created a traffic jam there due to going for samosas to the Bengali samosa shop. (Samosa is a very tasty fried saltish snack of Pakistan, if you haven’t had one yet, do find a Pakistani who will know how you can have one.)
I shook my head in frustration, I thought
‘Pakistanis!’ no matter what happens, ‘food’ is their first thought. So, because it was raining so badly, everyone had to have samosas! No wonder they are so good at it! I made up my mind to come here next time. (I’ve just taken this picture of their shop from an article.)
Meanwhile I finally managed to dash off to the meeting, hoping to get samosas after the meeting, as Nageen usually has them. While driving there in the driving rain, of course I got the furthest parking from her home, as there were so many cars parked outside. I was walking to her place wearing my rainproof jacket and putting the furry hoody up, I wondered how Nageen would manage with all the wet shoes on her carpeted drawing room!
On entering the entrance area I faced the barrage of shoes on the floor.
‘Good one!’ I thought, as I took off my joggers, I realized the socks I was wearing had my big toes peeping out from the holes! (- Why doesn’t such a thing happen when my socks are fine? I wondered.) It was too cold to take off my socks.
So, I walked in proudly with my big smile. Oops, I shortened the smile, as it really was a very sad occasion. My eyes, couldn’t help noticing that the dining table set up, had only biscuits with tea today…
Luckily, due to coming late, I had to sit behind some other folks so my holy socks couldn’t be seen by almost anyone. The meeting going on was a very good one, with people remembering the great activist with love and all of us feeling very sad. Everyone wondered now who would be standing up for our rights, or for anyone going through a bad time.
I feel that, the best part was the fact that she died her own death in spite of the constant death threats she kept getting for standing up for the minorities and others.- Especially, those who stood up against the misuse of the Blasphemy Law. She stood up to fanatics, murderers and all those who were unjust. (Unfortunately there are many in this part of the world, as in others.)
Afterwards, I quickly disappeared, yes, to hide my torn socks but also as it was lunchtime at home, and I wanted to be in my warm bed for an afternoon siesta.
I put on my joggers, and dashed off for home. On reaching, I realized I had lost my mobile phone. When my daughter called me up, it was picked up by Nageen’s staff, who found it. (it must have fallen out of my jacket pockets when I bent down to wear my joggers.)
Last time, I had gone there for another meeting, it had been my car keys. Her staff had found them, then too. That time, it was because I had gone to the next room to say my Maghrib prayers.
They must think I do this all the time.
Actually I do! I’ve done it since my childhood, and so I have a lot of practice doing it. losing my keys, books and phone. My mum often said, ‘You’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on!’
This time I’ll have to agree.
How about you?
Well no one is perfect here. Nor am I. Every night, my daughter beats me at Monoply deal. It is our addiction to play. My only demand is that I won’t budge till I’ve won at least once!
So take a chill pill and relax, make sure to enjoy the funny bits that life throws at you. They are only there to make you smile as you go about the business of life and living in this beautiful planet of ours!
…. stay blessed, and keep smiling!
Note: Almost all photographs by author except photographs by members of Generation Rahi, and from Google of Asma Jehangir. Also those of the Labrador and Cocker Spaniel from Google with thanks.
Interesting events during first week of February 2018
Women’s Action Forum event at PNCA, Islamabad.
On February the 1st was a program by Sheema Kirmani, she is owner of the Tehreek-e-Niswan which is in Karachi and performs all over the country. She was participating in an event by the Women’s Action Forum at the PNCA. All attendance was free and by invitation. (I’d really love to know how the financial logistics of such an event are worked out!) Sheema is such a personality and dancer that her name alone insures a packed hall. So, of course, it was a packed hall. My friend Nili Hafeez invited me for it, and even opted going earlier to ensure the best seats.
There was no classical dance as such. However, it was all about women’s rights and how much cruelty is ‘bestowed’ upon her through no fault of hers. Right from the time of her birth, when people get sad at finding out her gender, to the education where she isn’t given equal education to her brothers, to her wedding, when she isn’t even asked about the choice of a life partner.
The wedding itself where all her rights are usurped by the Qazi by cutting out her right to divorce; to the treatment of her by the society in case she does divorce her husband. The cruel ‘tradition’ of not giving a woman her rightful inherited property, nor her other rights given by her religion. When she goes out to work, she doesn’t get equal pay from her employers. On top of that, she is sexually harassed. These plays are acted out in small villages and towns around Karachi by the group. It was all in Urdu language, and started with a Qawwali by the group of women. Though they had a few men in their team, all of them spoke out about the appalling status of women in Pakistan, who are made to suffer at all socio-economic levels. There was song, and dance and mime, and entertainment, while throwing light on all these sad facets of our society. There was even a bit of humor. The acting was really good. Each actor was doing his or her bit with all her or his heart. There was complete stress on how a woman’s life in this area is a constant spate of injustice upon injustice at all levels in the society.
What I really liked was that while throwing light upon the various sad aspects of a woman’s life, the performance showed women how to fight for their rights at all levels and in all situations. It was definitely solution oriented. They showed women how to get out of their stigmatized roles in the society, by speaking out and saying a loud ‘No’ to the men in their lives. If a hand is raised to hit, then to catch and stop that hand, if her pay is being used up by the entire household she has to speak out against that also. So, I loved the performance and it reminded me of my father’s words: In our country we cannot afford ‘art for art’s sake’. We have to have each art performing a function and a purpose. Kudos to the whole team of Tehreek-e-Niswan, and Women’s Action Forum for makingthis memorable presentation at PNCA, Islamabad.
Kishwar Naheed was there too, and together with the CEO they remembered how on February 12th many years ago, in Lahore, they had even suffered being jailed and being tear gassed by the police for standing up for Womens’ Rights on the Mall road of Lahore.
One came out feeling good. Meeting Sheema Kirmani on the way out was a pleasure, she has agreed to be interviewed, on her next trip. She has assured us that she will perform her classical dance during her next visit in April.
Annual paintings’ exhibition of Generation Rahi at AQS on February 2nd 2018:
Generation Rahi is the group of artists in Islamabad who are students of Mansoor Rahi and Hajra Mansoor. Since 2014, they have been holding their annual exhibition at AQS gallery, every year. It is a grand show. This time 23 artists participated. Of course you know, I’m also a member of this group. We put up fresh work and the impact was even greater. It came on television also and the chief guest was High Commisioner of Bangladesh Tarek Ahsan. Here are some pictures from the event. I don’t think I need to say anything else now.
Last episode of Baaghi:
It was a very ambitious project. Considering the fact that the story of Qandeel Baloch is still fresh in people’s minds, to make a serial on her was a daring step. But the team was well equipped. Saba Qamar, Sarmad Khoosat, Irfan Khoosat and specially
Screenplay by Umera Ahmad, Direction by Farooq Rind, Written by Shazia Khan, Produced by Nina Kashif.
Each member of the cast and I mean each one of them absolutely surpassed all expectations. The production was high class. The detailed and sensitive way in which a very complicated and culturally mercurial subject was rendered, was executed in a very believable manner. One kept wondering when a single flaw would occur…. It didn’t. Saba’s acting wasn’t acting at all. She was Qandeel ! Yes, what I really appreciated even more was the fact that in spite of the fact that the actual personality did skip certain norms by wearing low cuts, Saba gave a convincing performance without giving in.
Words just fail me, when it comes to praising this production which has been another climax in Pakistani television dramas. It is another high! – Loved every episode of it. Though the way the killing was done, it showed other ‘would-be-killers’ how easily it can be done! The fact remains, it was a beautiful production and the cast and team can rest assured they have surpassed people’s expectations and produced a block buster.
Note: videos and photographs courtesy my friends Neeli Hafeez, Yasmin Aziz, Saleha, and rest of my group. Video of Baaghi and tv news coverage of our event courtesy YouTube.
I realize this blog should have been put up earlier, however, I was upset about the passing away of my dear friend Shahida Apa. Stay blessed my lovely ones. Life is precious and every minute counts. We have to remain positive in all circumstances. 🙂 And we must say a big Alhamdolillah to our Maker for making life worthwhile for all of us, in spite of the sad losses of our loved ones…
The art of living well till the eighty – eighth year of your life.
When sad, I can’t sit still. I wrote on her in Shahida Azeem, my mentor and friend. Still I was sad, so I wrote about the sadness and how I tried to cope in Dealing with sadness. So this time, I’ve written a list of things I’ve observed in Shahida Apa, which I believe are the secrets of her success . Mrs. Nasreen Haq Nawaz her family friend mentioned that Shahida Azeem has been like this even when she was thirty years younger!
After her passing away, I found out Shahida Apa was eighty eight years old. She walked straight and with grace and showed me how it is possible to live at this age. Here are a few photographs I took during one of my visits to her place. I wish I had taken some videos of hers too.
Whenever I’d mention her to anyone, the first question they’d ask me, ‘what is her age?’ I’d look blankly, surprised.
‘What has age got to do with her?’ I’d think.
After I wrote my last article, I found out that my dear friend Shahida Apa met her Maker at 7.am. on 7th of February, 2018. Yesterday, the 8th was the burial. Inna lillahe wa inna ilaihe rajiun. Indeed, to Him we belong, and to Him we return.
Last night I just couldn’t sleep. A deep sadness was all over me. I wondered how I’ll be able to deal with it?
You know, I found out she was 91 years old! Can you believe it? She was so amazing, right till the end. I met her at her home just a few days ago. She wasn’t too well, but still able to talk to me in her own loving manner. Such a gem. She was leading such a full life. – Such an active one. That is how I want to be. I suppose everyone would like it that way. But how many of us would go so much out of our way for others? Allah had to call her Home, after all, even Prophets have an end to their times.
So, I couldn’t sleep last night. She isn’t a relative, but her presence just a couple of houses away, made me feel as if I have someone who cares, nearby. Suddenly, I felt a great void…
Just didn’t feel like doing anything today. So, I thought that after reading my usual sipara, I better go out, knowing I won’t be able to sleep in the afternoon either. Where to go? A bit of exercise would have helped. But I felt it wouldn’t be enough. I needed my ‘sadness therapy’ – getting plants for my lawn. (Otherwise, I’d get flowers for myself.) Recently, I had re-planned my poor destroyed garden.
Lately, my dog Magic has literally destroyed my whole little garden. All the flowerpots, with plants are a thing of the past. Even the grass is all gone. So, I’ve resigned myself to the situation. (I did try selling him, but it only lasted one day.) I’m saddled with him. He is so aggressive in his love for me, that I have to hide inside while he is outside.
So, now that I was upset, I thought I better get out of the house and execute my latest plan for a ‘low-maintenance lawn.’ I need to see my favorite nursery for plants and saplings nearby.
So, I got flowerpots of different flowers which I’ll put on top of my boundary wall. I bought rosemary, iceberg, and several palms’ flowerpots.
I was quite thrilled to find enough rocks for my place and stones. So, finally I got home and have planted these, and placed the flower pots on the wall. I took help of my staff in placing the palms in such a way outside, that Magic cannot destroy them. As I write, he is sniffing at them, but I’ve put rocks and stones around the flowerpots so he cannot dig into them, (hopefully.) He did taste the leaves too, but then decided he didn’t like them much. Lets hope he continues this way.
Recently, I had noticed that he won’t go for plants which are surrounded with stones. So, I also put some gravel, along with the stone-like chairs.
I guess old Flintstones would be quite happy with it all. After all I’m also living with a wild animal!
Im still trying to grapple with my loss. This morning I sat down and wrote all that I had learnt from being with Shahida Apa. That made me feel better. Somehow, this is the hard part of loving someone. You miss them too much. She certainly taught me how to live a life, though I could never be anywhere near her.
During most of my problems that I’ve faced in life, this has been my way to deal with misery and sadness. Just go out, and do something to get diverted. Most folks do shopping. Well this is also shopping, but of a different kind. I feel that getting plants is more satisfying and it involves a lot of growth and development.
Calling friends is good but then, you invariably end up talking about the exact things that are upsetting you. Sometimes this helps. Sometimes it has the opposite effect. So, you need to watch out.
It is good to be doing something like cleaning up or getting flowers for yourself or something which needs you to go out and do something. When you are home looking at the plants or flowers, that really helps.
Last night, as I stayed awake, I kept thinking how prepared for death am I?
Hmmmm, how much are we prepared! Lots to do. Well that is another time, another blog. For today, my sadness is better now. Specially, because that dog of mine hasn’t still messed up the plants yet!
As they say, it is better to have loved and lost, rather than not to have loved at all.
Stay blessed, dear Reader. How do you deal with your sadness?
After all, having known such a positive person, one needs to regain one’s equilibrium quickly so one can get back on the road again.
Owner of Mashal – a school for underprivileged children.
Isn’t God Great? I mean, I’ve found this in life, whenever you are deeply sad, there are many pleasant things happening too. It is God, trying to cheer you up. He is telling you, ‘things aren’t so bad after all. You can make it. You are strong. This is a great world I’ve made for you.’ In Surah Al Nashra, He says, ‘with every hardship there is ease.’ There certainly is. For instance, I felt so happy that I’ve known such a great personality all these years. Even now, I’m blessed with having her in my neighborhood.
So, just remember that where sad things do happen but so do the happy ones. We both have deep love for each other, and I have great regard also. It is a kinship. It is finding ways to live in a world without one’s husband in it. To make the best of life, anyway. She is an amazing person. Shahida Apa is the wife of General Azeem (late), who was the Ambassador of Pakistan in USA during the eighties.
I met her by chance while walking near the mountains. Seeing this petite person walking ahead of me just made me want to talk to her. I went over and wished her. She turned to me smiling, and that was our first meeting, about eight years ago.
I found out that she is owner of the well-known organization called Mashal. It is a school for poor children and also has facilities for the children’s mothers. There are classes going on here for cooking, computers, knitting, stitching and a beauticeans course too. There is also a clinic. The idea is to help women of Margalla Town area, living in outskirts of Islamabad. The plan is to make them financially independent.
I feel like writing a letter to my late husband.
You wrote your article on our family strengths in 2009. That was two years before you left our world. I was reading it today. The way you wrote was so detailed and so amazing. I feel like writing an epilogue to your article. Just to let you know how we all have been after you left.