Yazd: An Incredible City in The Desert

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TRAVELLING THE WORLD SOLO

After spending four incredible days exploring Shiraz, I became a little bit worried that my Iranian adventure had started off too wonderful, and that everything following Shiraz would be a letdown.

Luckily, my next stop was Yazd, and it would turn out to be one of my favourite places in Iran.

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Yazd city is the capital of the Yazd province and it is home to close to half a million people. Located a six hour bus ride North-East of Shiraz (and quite a pleasant one if you don’t find yourself having one of those days where you are constantly desperate to pee – there is a story there – but I will spare you all of the gory details) Yazd is an incredible example of an Iranian desert city, and one that should be on the bucket lists of anyone planning a visit to…

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Ramzan 2017 is a time for introspection

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Ramzan, the month of fasting for all Muslims is arriving in the dead of summer months this time. The sixteen long hours of fasting isn’t fun – it’s a challenge. Here are a dozen ways for you to find it easier to stay focused on the main purpose of Ramzan, getting to know one’s self better. To see where we are going, and where we should be actually going. A sort of re-alignment and tuning of one’s self in every way: spiritually, physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally and financially.

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Being good at Change Management

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Aren’t my blogs turning into text books? I hope not! I have to be careful, I’ve been an educationist for too many years. My blog on transitional phases in life is actually all about change. One’s ability to do it well revolves around the skill in change management. As they say, the only constant thing in life these days is change!

So, how good are you at it?

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Weekend with poetry and writings.

Usually, weeks and months go by without connection with other writers and poets. The weekend of 6th and 7th May was an exception,  I attended two literary events. On Saturday, May 6th was the book launch of Untouched Octaves with poetry written by Amin Hashwani and photographs by Bobby Hager, a Jewish photographer from the US of A. Then on Sunday morning the 7th of May, I attended my first PANA meeting. It’s a once-a-month event that takes place in Serena. Khalida and Atle had invited me last year, but somehow, I couldn’t attend their events. The main protagonist in PANA Atle Hetland is a Norwegian whose articles are regularly published in daily Dawn.

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A Dozen Ways to Reverse Mentoring

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“You actually take make-up tips from your teenager?” Asked one of my fellow travelers, we were chilling in Ayun, one starry night in Chitral, in 2004.

“Yes.” I said.

“What do they know?” I was asked.

“Well, they do know a lot – considering the fact that they use present day products, a lot better than us.”  I could see they were surprised. Of course, it is not just about make-up but in other matters too.

Later, when I was studying for my EMBA in 2006, there was a small paragraph in one of the books about ‘reverse mentoring’. “Oh, so that’s what it is called?” I thought. Being in the educational field, I’ve learnt a lot from my students. Sometimes directly, and sometimes indirectly when that innocent question in class led me to more findings!

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Dealing with loved ones in pain

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Life has a way of testing you in different ways. As they say, “our lives in this world is like an examination, yet  each one has a different paper.” Yes, a different paper, and that paper keeps changing also! “As you get used to one channel, life changes the channel!” Is another one of my favorite quotes.  You can read as many quotes as you like. Take on as much pain on yourself as you can bear. But to watch a loved one in pain – whether it is physical or emotional – I think that is the hardest thing to bear. On top of it, when it is also your responsibility to look after that person, it can be even more painful, yet it is a relief to know you are in a position to do something about it. At least you are in an active position, not a passive one. Putting on a brave face is vital, to be able to relieve your loved one’s pain for a while at least.

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So many times I’ve taken my father or mother in almost unconscious state to the hospital. – Hoping that I’m not making any mistake of some sort in the process. Thank goodness, physiology was my favorite subject in school and Home Nursing was another subject which I took in my first and second year in College of Home Economics. All that really helps. Now, on Google you can have every type of information at your finger-tips. Still it is tough. The doctors and staff of hospitals are a real consolation. With a few ‘incidents’ you find out whom to turn to, for which problem. God bless them all.

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Love is a feeling we have for so many individuals in our lives, specially our parents and children, then our relatives and dear friends. Frankly, I can’t see a total stranger in pain either. So, how do you deal with it?

  1. Ask the person directly, how you can help. Remember, sometimes the person is too upset to think straight. Then you do whatever you can think of as the best thing.
  2. Get spiritual strength: Say two naffals for the person, specially Tahajjad, (when you are awake at night worrying about the person. Why not put that file on God’s table?)Read ‘Hasbi Allah ho wa nemal wakil’, ‘La haula wala quvvata, illa billa he’, and surah Fateha (which is one of the best for getting well from illnesses), la illahi illa, anta subhanaka, inni kunto minazzualameen. Each of these is awesome to be recited as much as possible to get strengthened.Reading the Holy Quran (preferably starting from one end, and read whenever you get time) is the best. Coming across incidents of stress and struggles of the prophets really helps. You realize you are not alone.  The prayers here and there, sometimes really feel as if they are tailor-made for you!
  3. Get physical strength and energy: Try to get full sleep, six hours straight is the goal – and two more if you are lucky. You’ll need it to be your fittest. – Recitation of simple word Allah helps a lot. Even taking a sleeping pill sometimes is better than staying awake all night. Do some exercise, or walk extra in the hospital. Take proper meals, but focus more on fruits, juices, soups and veggies.
  4. Food is one of the best ways to help. Take along something for the person or their live-in guests. Fruit, sandwiches and soup always come handy.
  5. Perhaps, you can help those who are caring for the ill person. They need a great deal of support also. I remember, when my husband was seriously ill, his friends  taking my children to a restaurant nearby or ordering food for us. We all need a relief sometimes. Especially when tending to long illnesses.
  6. Be careful what you say. Avoid telling them all sorts of similar horror stories, especially with tragic endings. Never use negative words like ‘bechari’ or ‘you poor soul.’ Talking about the weather or any other small talk works fine. Sometimes, say nothing. Just be with them. Keep alert to find out how you can be of help. Also avoid giving unwanted advice. People are intelligent and well equipped now to get any information they need. Unless, it is something really vital for them, and only you know it. Or if they ask you.
  7. It is also important not to impose on the person. Sometimes they need to be alone, or rest. So, keep the trips short and crisp.
  8. Be positive. Pamper and value your own contributions and enjoy the appreciation you get. Also, ignore if your efforts went unnoticed. You are just doing the best you can. That is enough.  We owe it to our own conscience to do our best. Particularly for those who stood by you, in your hard times. IMG-20160817-WA0011
  9. Give yourself a treat to get strong again: Don’t feel guilty … Take a break: listen to music, watch movies to boost your morale. Once you’ve done your bit, it is okay.20160827_182012 (2)

There is an amazing book ‘The Anatomy of Courage’ written by a psychiatrist Lord Moran, during first world war, first published in 1945. Its about Courage – of course!  The doctor says, that when a soldier has just returned from a battlefield, all you need to do is offer that person who is in shock, a place to sit in, give him a cup of tea and soothe him. Help him through the first few moments of shock, sit with him, he will be fine in a while. Its those first few moments that matter.

My dear Reader, we all need each other to ease the pain that we and our loved ones are going through. Stay blessed and very strong to be able to be there for your loved ones when they need you most 🙂

Meetings sheetings!

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I don’t know if it is just among us Pakish people that we have a way of saying things like…. ‘meeting sheeting’, ‘school feeses’…. (sounding like the other feces!), saying ‘electric city’ to electricity, and so on. ‘Meeting’ being added with ‘sheeting’ can be quite appropriate as many meetings in establishments do end up quite ‘sheeting’!

Sudden meetings at one of my work places would end up being a horror. A normal day had one up at six a.m, with a commute of one hour. Office hours 8.00 a.m. till 3 p.m.  and getting home by 4 p.m.   Many times,  just when I would be thankfully leaving, the guard  would inform me at the gate, ‘Madam, the boss has asked all staff to be in the office for a meeting now.’ So, I would have to cancel any other things I’d planned for the rest of the evening.

Finally, the meeting would start, with entire school staff there wondering what it was all about through half of it. It would come to the point: by giving us  more work to do after that ‘meeting’,  and having to stay on another two hours! Now, if this work had been given earlier, around 10.30 a.m. that day, it  would have been completed by 3.00 p.m. No Sir, the boss was too busy at that time. So, yes, I’d say meetings sheetings is the right terminology in most cases. Otherwise, if one would have been warned a day earlier, at least one would have been prepared for it.

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Tenants!

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“You should write a blog on tenants!” my friend Nigar Nazar said, “Everyone has problems with them, and you are having such a good time.. You MUST write about it.” Ok, Nigar, I’m writing ……

Actually, I had told her how sad I was when my tenants were leaving, and how sad they were. It was the same when I mentioned my good terms with tenants to my property dealers. One of them said, “This is the first time I’ve heard this.”

Let’s see the principles and values behind business: Our Holy Prophet Muhammad was a businessman and very successful at it. It was because he was honest and kept the well-being of the buyer at heart always. Peter Drucker the great Management Guru has always said that “business is a service, first.”

The next principle is of ‘nip the evil in the bud’ devised by Shireen Gheba, which means to avoid a bigger ‘evil’ deal with the smaller one on time. When one of my tenants did not repair the kitchen tap costing Rs.1500, I ended up having to repair consequential damages worth Rs.10,000 instead! So, a small repair of  Rs.1500  would have been more than welcome.

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The banker’s story:

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As the interview for my last blog post on ‘Let Us Get Financial Acumen’    progressed, I was deeply touched by the story of struggles and hardships that came through. I felt like sharing it with you.

It is also a story worth reading for those young men and girls who have foreign degrees and expect a golden plate to be offered the moment they set foot in their homeland. It’s a story of tenacity and determination. 

Once upon a time there was a young man named Umer Malik, he lived in Islamabad and had got his admission in a university in USA, but because he had visa issues, he decided to take a degree of BBA Hnrs. in Banking and Finance from the American University in Dubai in 2003-2004. While he was studying here in Pakistan, he had also gained IT experience from Informatics and interned in ABN Amro. At the campus in Dubai, Umer started working as a Librarian; he enjoyed working surrounded with books of his interest. After completing his studies, Umer returned due to his mother’s illness.

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On return, he tried to join ABN Amro because he knew people there.  He was disappointed to learn that there were no openings for him. He persisted and asked them  to give him any work. “Fine, but it will be undocumented, unpaid and without any certificate at the end of it.” said his would-be employer.

Umer agreed to work on these uncompromising terms.

Three solid months followed, working at the entrance of ABN Amro bank in F-7 Islamabad, welcoming clients at the entrance of the bank. Standing daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for no pay or certificate!

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Let us get financial acumen.

Getting aware of the pitfalls that can happen, and knowing how to avoid them.

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“I’ve witnessed a lady lose nine million rupees, and nothing could be done about it!” My bank manager Umer Malik mentioned. Immediately, I decided to learn more about this. The remark made me realize how vital it is for us to learn about the pitfalls during financial deals.

While this blog post is important for everyone, but more so for my fair readers! First, most of us women, are not given any financial stability with the men in our lives holding all the strings to finances in our lives. All the legalities are written and interpreted by the male members of our society to their own advantage. Making sure women are kept in the dark and at the greatest disadvantage in almost every situation.

Added to that is the female attitude…. “Why should I bother my pretty little head with these boring facts and figures? When I have enough on my hands, having to maintain my own figure!” She goes on to say to her dearly beloved… “You are there to deal with these things. I trust you.” Then, he goes on to die on her, or change with the changing times, and whispers from his family and friends….. Suddenly, she is all alone to fend for herself in this cruel nasty world. And she has only herself to blame for trusting the men in her life. They are human. They can make mistakes, why so, at your cost?

Secondly, when a woman does have financial control over her assets, she does not know how to hold on to these, how to invest it wisely or how to make it grow, in a halaal way. So, it was painful for me to hear how this woman actually lost ninety lacs and nothing could be done to help her. (One lac is $1000, so this lady lost $90,000)

How not to get swindled? This can only happen when we (and that includes the men too) take the time and make the effort to learn all we can about handling our finances in a mature way.

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So, I asked my bank manager Umer Malik of Bank Alfalah, in E-11, Islamabad, if he could spare some time, and I could interview him.

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