Life can be funny….

 

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!images

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???

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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. Black-Cocker-Spaniel-Dog-Picture1She 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. 27332145_554574008253026_5973474362128823692_nSo, 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?’

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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.

download (1)– 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.27867772_1842956129071004_2884846866221277722_n

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.27973158_1842956249070992_3607491057637702539_n 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.)

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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…

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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!

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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!

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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.

 

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Sheema Kirmani,  Generation Rahi and Baaghi.

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Interesting events during first week of February 2018

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 Women’s Action Forum event at PNCA, Islamabad.

27072644_1829577587075525_5912433453390838650_nOn 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Kishwar Naheed the great Urdu writer, reminiscing her vigil of fighting for women’s rights. 

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.

 

 

 

 

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A pleasure meeting such a dynamic personality as Sheema Kirmani. 
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We met Ammar Masood at the tea on the terrace. He was keen to know when the next writers’ meet up would be taking place. 🙂

Annual paintings’ exhibition of Generation Rahi at AQS on February 2nd 2018:

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Standing in front of Asrar farooki’s painting with the artist. 
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Here I am in front of my paintings. 
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Saleha in front of her painting of the peacock series. 
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Hajra Mansoor showing the paintings to the chief guest. 
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Hosting the show.
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My friends and artists: Aania, Saima, Saleha, Samia, Yasmin. 
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The inauguration ceremony. 

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Air Cdre. Ahmed Ali and Gp. Capt Jamil who came with their wives to see the exhibition. 

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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…

PTV World Interview and the drive up the mountains.

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Sometimes, one should let life happen. Specially, when it is the good stuff. All the happenings mentioned in this blog were a surprise. No planning, nothing. Just a willingness to go with the flow. That’s all. Often enough, we ourselves come in between by saying I have this that or the other thing to do. So just say ‘yes’, and hope for the best!

Okay, so do you remember how by chance I made friends with a wonderful person named Amber? (I wrote how I met her in my blog on Power of the written word .)

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Amber is the one on the left, and Neeli on the right. We just clicked, and went off to the movies.

She was the one who later made it possible for me to be interviewed on PTV World.  A few days ago, I received a call from the producer Aamir Butt. Later, I spoke to the host Shabnam Riaz, and it was all settled. I went to PTV World, and met Aamir Butt, then Shabnam arrived looking stunning. I chose to not get the make-up done, because I wanted to look my own self. The producer and host both felt I’d be fine as I was, so we went ahead.

 

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So, anyhow, it was my first experience of the kind. I loved the fact that I got the complete time slot. This was ideal, as I was able to communicate my ideas without any interruptions. The interview was for my latest illustrated publication of Allama Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai.

As my friend Naila, (and co-editor of the book) mentioned:

‘It was nice to see the interviewer being interviewed!’ Which is a fact. I’ve interviewed people for Dawn and other newspapers and mags for over two decades. So, I appreciated more how Shabnam conducted the interview. So, here is the link to the whole interview, hope you like it, and your feedback would be welcome. It is about fifty minutes, so you can see it later, or now, if you have the time:

So, this recording was on Friday. By the evening, they had sent me the promo of the program.

Next day Saturday, I suddenly decided to drive to Lahore. I was going anyway, but felt that I’d love to go by road with my daughter.  It was a novel opportunity, as we usually travel in turns, so one of us is with my parents to take care of them.   So, this was a good opportunity to go in my own car.

It was so much fun that I wrote a blog on it last week: .Why I love driving

We returned Sunday evening. On Tuesday I had already agreed to go to the TDCP resort at Khajut, with the art group. I woke up late, and scrambled off to Rahi Studios. On reaching, I found out that we weren’t going in a coach but in our own cars. So, I dashed off to get more petrol and check the air in the tires. The gang was at the gate when I got to the Rahi Studios.

27331776_1820076771358940_1722623939207928033_nWe were happy to meet each other, and Yasmine clicked this pic as I went to meet Sir Rahi and my friends. And so we left.

To go on a trip with one’s friends is the best thing. With time, we all have got such a camaraderie, that we can say what the hell we like, knowing it will be taken well. Lots of jokes, and pulling of each others’ legs. This video is of further up the mountains. As it was so cold I put my scarf under the cap and found it nice and cozy. First, we had tea and pakoras at TDCP at Khajaut.

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Hajra Apa and Sir Mansoor Rahi are so romantic and so cute.

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The group at TDCP Khajaut, near Murree.

I’ll leave the pictures and videos to do the talking now.

Changlagali, is near Nathiagali, a place located at around 9000 feet above sea level.

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Yasmin took most of the pics here. 

The snow at the end of the journey was a real surprise.

 

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Taqi bhai with Mansoor Rahi. 

Yes, it was very cold.

The lunch of Chicken karahi, vegitables, with salad and naans was delicious and yummy. It was topped with kinnus and oranges.

It was so cold….

I came back feeling so refreshed and happy. I’ve realized how important it is to just drop everything once in a while and let the wonderful surprises happen!

Stay blessed, my dear reader. How do you like the surprises in your life?

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Why I love driving

My recent drive to Lahore.

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Driving a car is my ‘me time’, my fun time. It is a time which is exclusive for me. I love taking along friends for drives too. As a small kid I remember going for long drives. It was always fun with my parents. At the age of five years, when my father was instructor in PMA, we’d often go for long drives to Mansera or Batrasi.  I was seven years old, when my father drove all the way to Hyderabad from Kakul.  I agreed to marry my husband Najib Khan mainly because he shared my love for travel. We’d often go off the beaten track to discover new places and later took our friends along for barbecues there. Whether we were in North or South of Pakistan, or in Kuwait, or going for Umra, the drives were our real thrill. We had many adventures and have lovely memories.

Continue reading “Why I love driving”

Power of the written word

 Words can be so powerful, let me show you!

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Honestly speaking, it is hard to keep pace with all I have to share with you. Life is so interesting and hectic. (Isn’t that how it should be?) The last few days have been pretty awesome mostly. But what happened a couple of days ago to Zainab, has shattered everyone. Enough has been said about it, so I do not need to add to it. But I’d certainly like to talk about the topic of child abuse, there are similar horrific issues too like honor killings etc. which deserve another platform. Most of the public keeps a blind eye to many such horrific things going on  – sometimes even condoning it –  none of the public seems to blink an eye to those. Thank God,  there are many organizations and people trying to bring justice and sanity.

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 Each of us is trying to face personal hardships, diversions, struggles along with the collective ones that we share with each other. There are tragedies and struggles that we all are facing at some level or the other. We need to just be kind to each other. That’s all. Be careful with words and how we use them.

Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose roots is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens, – of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition. It brings forth its fruit at all times, by the leave of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition.

Allah will establish in strength those who believe, with the word that stands firm, in this world and in the Hereafter; but Allah will leave, to stray, those who do wrong: All doeth what He willeth.

-Surah Ibrahim: 14, 24-27.) Al- Quran.

Continue reading “Power of the written word”

My Year turns into 2018!

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Isn’t it wonderful to be celebrating something together? The New Year of 2018….

Lots of folks talk about how backward this country is. Yes, in many ways. But in many ways it has taken many leaps forward. I know, I’ve witnessed the process.

Lots of progress witnessed by myself:

As I look, I see…. The motorway, internet, computers, mobile phones, smart phones, many television channels, signal free highways, Metro bus systems, reversible air conditioners, Careem and Uber taxis, information access from the smart phone, blogs, e-tickets, emails, I mean I could go on and on. We have  known and lived in times without these things. Just a few years ago, we didn’t have all that we have today. Now, we use the internet to book seats in cinemas, get airline tickets, send articles to newspapers and blog, and do online banking, as well as transfer funds through the atm too. What else can you dream up? I know, I look forward to a more progressive world.

Continue reading “My Year turns into 2018!”

Happenings of November in Islamabad 2017

 

Life is just rushing by. So, this year has gone pretty well for me, I hope it was the same for you too. During December we still have time to re-align ourselves – and finish off what we can – to the original resolutions for this year. I’m sure we might have surpassed ourselves in some fields. Let’s just enjoy what we did, and forget what we didn’t. –  Just shove it off to next year’s resolution list! (What else can we do anyway?)

One thing is sure: During November in Islamabad, the greatest thing that’s happened for me has been the Verna/ dharna/book launch – and finally clearing of my MBA!  – Of course there was much else too…

Continue reading “Happenings of November in Islamabad 2017”

Mid-October 2017 in Islamabad.

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How time flies! Can you believe it, this year is almost ending. One day you feel there is the whole year, ahead of you, and suddenly, it is almost gone. I ask myself, what have I achieved so far? How are we feeling nearing the end of this year? Meanwhile Pakistan has celebrated its’ seventieth birthday.  What have I done for my country?

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Well, the timing worked out perfectly. I’ve managed to publish Allama Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai, a book on which I’ve been working for over fourteen years. The project was so difficult for me, with my limited resources; Finally, I’ve published it the way I wanted – with my Allah’s blessings and editing with Naila’s help, and printing with Qasim’s. It has been nothing short of sincere hard work. So now I’m all set for the book launch on November 9th, 2017, in Islamabad. I was happy to see it had been mentioned in Dawn’s Books and Author’s section:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1363845

In a way, I was glad the project had taken so long. Getting published on Pakistan’s seventieth birthday was rather appropriate, wasn’t it?

Continue reading “Mid-October 2017 in Islamabad.”

Pillar to Post

 … and  kindnesses too. 

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Going to sleep has never been a problem for me. Never. Having been through many tough phases in life, yet, I have been able to sleep well through it all. I’ve inherited this quality. My parents sleep well, and so did my grandfather Gerald William Flynn Young. He’d say “it’s due to my clear conscience!” I guess, it’s the same for me too.

But, in spite of the clear conscience, I’ve been having trouble sleeping and it was due to several issues on my head. Sometimes, being a single parent and doing all the ‘man’ and ‘woman’ things in one’s life, has its downsides too. There were several things … the water, pension, income tax, tenant, book launch, buying a mare, and latest is the Nadra issue, and I was financially tight.

Continue reading “Pillar to Post”

Workshop, walk and weekend!

Weekend with friends.. 

All writers work with the four ‘W’s: “What, When, Where, Why” But when I thought of last week and the weekend, I realized this too had four Ws in it! …..  You see, towards end of any week, one wants to complete everything in order to have a free weekend. Then one wants a good weekend too. Last week I felt that just as we jam up our weeks with work, we jam up our weekends with activities too. We need to …. stop and go slow! (Just like my cat Muffin here.) We need time to look out of the window. Just chill.

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My cat knows how to chill….

We have a tendency to fill our ‘to do’ lists with ‘big things‘. It is important to leave some space for the ‘little things’. Like sorting out drawers, files  and cupboards etc. etc. and so on.

It was my friend saying, “On weekends, while I want to do NOTHING – you want to do EVERYTHING!” Yes, someone knows me too well.  So, this time, I did everything on Thursday and Friday and had time for slowing down on Saturday and Sunday. How’s that?

On Thursday and Friday I went to complete my income tax returns work, with Mr. Liaqat. (Hey, it takes time.)

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Mr. Liaqat at work.

Continue reading “Workshop, walk and weekend!”