Mid-October 2017 in Islamabad.


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?


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:


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?

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Pillar to Post

 … and  kindnesses too. 


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.

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The four ‘W’s of last week!

(Work, Workshop, Walk and 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.

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.

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Mentors of Art, Wisdom, Spirituality and more!

Why does everything happen together? I mean, there could have been some space in-between – ideally speaking. But that’s life.  So, I decided to enjoy it!


To start with, my spiritual mentor Mahjabeen had had an operation and was seriously ill. I couldn’t think straight. Just felt like praying for her, that’s all. So, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do anything till I’d met her. So, I did. Thank God she is better now, but it was touch and go for a while. I begged Allah to spare her life, as I need her in this world very badly.  Though we don’t meet very often – Just the odd message on WhatApp here or there. But just knowing she is around, makes me feel so strong. I know, if anything happens or if I need her, she will be with me on phone helping, guiding and consoling me. She is that kind of person. Very very religious. Totally shrouded in her beliefs in purdah, and full of love for all. She is nothing but a complete source of ‘sakeena’  or ultimate peace for me. As she remarks often “what can I do, Allah has put love for you in my heart!” I feel so humble and honored.

So, I realized, how many persons in our lives mean the world to us, even though we do not meet them often. Yet they are a very integral part of our inner strength and happiness. So, thank God, she is better now.

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Powerful weekly plan.


The weekend is here, you have a lot on your plate, and here is another blog from me! Well, I’m going to let you into something that is part of my ‘time management’ or ‘self-management’ strategies.  I’ve met people who have been successful in their careers who regretted not giving enough time to their families. You know how much Steve Jobs regretted that. I’ve met others (mostly women,) who gave so much of their time to their families that there was no time left to pursue their own interests. Here is a way to put both together, so that you can have both! It is only possible if you can start it all within the week which is one’s most powerful unit of time.

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One day in my life


I’d like to share something with you first: this blog post was to go before the last one! But what happened the next day I uploaded immediately.  This blog, has indications of what was to follow next . But I didn’t know it then. So, I just went and uploaded the occurrences of the day after this one, as I was too emotional. So, here is the prologue for the last blog post as this had been scheduled earlier. I suppose, this is life, we have ‘signs’ of things to come, but don’t notice them.


As a kid, my life was regular, routine and very predictable. So, naturally I wished for a life which wasn’t. Luckily, no two days of mine are the same-  exactly how I like it. So, if I take you through a day in my life, it won’t give you any idea about how the rest of my days will go through.-  Just a glimpse. Anyhow, why should it interest you anyway?

Why not?

We all are living our own lives, and sometimes we wonder how the others are getting along with theirs?-  I’d love to know how your day goes! I’m sure its even more exciting and productive than mine. But let me give you a peep into how mine went today:

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Of car servicing, hospital, art and Monal restaurant.

Isn’t life just awesome? So many surprises round the corner. – Might as well enjoy them, even if some of them are quite horrific.


Yesterday, I got the fright of my life. I was busy finally getting the car serviced when I got a call from our batman Sabir, “Baji, your mother’s condition doesn’t look good at all, please come.” At the petrol station, the men were just completing the servicing and the oil change had not yet taken place, I was buying chocolates for Mum, as she loves them, and her sugar had been low in the morning… I went and told the guys to please just stop wherever they are as I have to go, my mum isn’t well. They said “it will only take five more minutes, the oil really needs changing, and you may have to drive the car far…” They were right. So, I asked them to hurry. One of them drove it to the oil change spot, the work began, while the other two hurriedly dried up the car, and wrapped up everything. The bill was also taken care of. “We will pray for your mother, Baji, she will be fine, Insha Allah!” the man said to me, as I hurriedly dashed off.  I had already called Dr. Mehmood who lives nearby if he can visit my mum, but he told me he was in middle of an endoscopy. (He had asked a nurse to take my call, knowing it must be an emergency, God bless him.) He said he’ll come as soon as possible. But it can’t be now.

Continue reading “Of car servicing, hospital, art and Monal restaurant.”

Went to Rawalpindi – the twin city of Islamabad.

 Avoiding visits to Rawalpindi is my forte. Even though it is my birth place,   I think it’s the birthplace of all humanity. If you pick up a stone – a human being comes crawling out from under it – in fact you will find one sitting on top of the stone also! All of them are on the roads, and trying to cross the roads, as you drive.


Well, then why did I go? I had to go for my dad’s medications at AFIC (Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology,) and look around for some stuff for him… since he is spending more time in bed these days. For example, a hospital bed, which can make the patient sit up and lie down easily. Also, it has safety rods on the sides, so the patient doesn’t fall off the bed.

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My December 2016 & start of January 2017


As far as I can remember, life has been fast paced, yet exciting. The end of last year and beginning of this year have been no exception.

Attended SDPI conferences December 6th to 9th, 2016:

19thsdc-2016-img_0414Starting from early December when I was invited to the annual conferences by SDPI (Sustainable Development Policy Institute.) Well, I’ve been attending these conferences since 2005 actually. What I really like about them is that many important topics are covered by authorities in the field. When you attend a conference, it certainly opens up your mind to what is going on in our region. Representatives of organizations in Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka come here to discuss problems of regional interest. When you find out the statistics of each issue the gravity becomes even more apparent. This year the topic was Envisaging the Future Together and it carried on from 6th to 9th of December. Usually, it is all very interesting.

Continue reading “My December 2016 & start of January 2017”

Painting wisdom, friends & tenants.

“I might as well accept my life as it is, and stop calling it ‘crazy’…. I mean that is how it is, and that’s exactly how I love it.” Let me show you what I mean.

Yesterday morning…. as usual I had my breakfast in bed. Porridge, aumlet (made deliciously with chopped tomatoes and onions in it,) toast, and a cup of tea served on a bed tray by my batman. (I finally, decided to stop being prudish, and allow the gentleman into my room. So, I could have this luxury.) – of course, I drape a shawl around my shoulders…. And sit up. Usually, I’ve read my prayers, and am in process of reading my Siparah. This process of breakfast and prayers takes around an hour, then I’ve started being a bad girl and laze around, watching morning shows or my favorite DW channel. It was about the part of the brain that is developed when you navigate yourself around the town without using the GPS and how good it is for you to use your brain to orientate yourself around town yourself. It said that 85% of children’s brains are already developed for it. We grown-ups have to use this consciously as much as possible. I just loved the program. Why can’t they have such programs on other channels? Of course, Germany is Germany after all.

So, it was about 10.30 am when Sabir came along saying

“Baji, Dastagir is here, he wants to meet you.” I remembered that today is the last day of painting up of my house. It has become a ‘normal’ drill. I remembered the first time I walked into that paint shop four years ago, looking for a painter. It was a Dulux paint shop in F-10 Islamabad, and I asked them about painting up the basement, which I was planning to rent out… I had bought the paint myself and decided to get it done myself instead of asking for help from others. (ofcourse, ‘myself’ means without help of the architect.) The owner introduced me to Dastagir saying he will help me…. Now, I just give him a ring, he brings all the paints I need, and the labor and gets the work done in record time. “These men work quietly and methodically…” my Dad said.

It is true. Dastagir, knows, I’m going to  trust the men to work properly, so he sends me highly skilled and trustworthy men. This time, just two men have done the work. He also knows I’ll pay over and above what he asks me, plus I try to give them tea and food whenever possible. Laborers and poor people have a soft corner in my heart. (I know exactly how it feels to not have money…)

The other day, my tenants’ wife Kishwar was saying “My husband says, these people really rook Mrs. Najeeb and over charge her for chores they do for her.” (He is in the building business himself, he is building a plaza and other housing projects.) I felt like telling her, “I know. But they give me more in return. I pay by the project, not by the day, so my work gets done faster. I pay more, so they give me their best. I am aware of the fact that they are not insured also. I pay through my nose to the lawyers, yet, these laborers do more work for me. So, why not pay them more?”

On the dot of 10.30 am Dastagir came. I always value and respect punctuality. I felt guilty that I didn’t have the money to give him and told him, I’ll just bring it from the bank nearby. But it turned out, it was good as  he had not done the two black gates, which had not been considered in my budget earlier. But then, we agreed that it is best to get it done now. So, he went to get the paint, and asked his men to do that too. While they worked, I brought the money, did some more grocery shopping, and asked my batman to prepare lunch for the workers, as it was their last day.

I got a phone call from my cook’s daughter, that he won’t be coming as there is no transport today due to the hanging of Qadri the killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January 2010. I remembered how Waliya and I had been nearby, and witnessed that murder. It was gruesome. So, I told Rahim’s daughter that its ok. I know, he will come if possible.

So, there was that ‘nihari’ of Saturday, so we all had it one more time, and there was enough for the laborer, Dastagir and his son (whom he brought home from school.) they had lunch sitting in the porch on the garden chairs and table. I felt good that they had not only done the basement banisters, two gates but painted up the table and bench as a special gesture. (I didn’t have the heart to tell them, that the bench and chair were supposed to be unpainted! I told Waliya, “Its too late now, as they have already done it. So, I didn’t tell them…”

On way home from the bank, I had received a phone-call from a new friend of mine Humaira. She wanted to invite me for her marriage in mid-March. So, I said “I’d love to come.” My friendship with her, is another story, another time.

So, after lunch, I went in to relax and came across a long-lost friend on skype. Someone I had lost track of and given up long ago.  I had heard once “Let go of the one who leaves…. and accept the one who returns… because this is a quality of God.” One can’t help but feel there is some Higher Intervention in one’s life.

So, in the evening, what happened was that my tenants were to come for the basement (which I had been getting cleaned up for last two days.) So, as a special gesture, I got a basket of fruit ready for them and added two glasses of  strawberry smoothie made by Nadiya, and sent these down. Earlier I had rung him up, welcoming him and his wife, and expecting a happy response from him for all our efforts. He asked me to come down for a few minutes please…  I found there was a detailed sms from him: the tenant. a pilot had an incoming  stream of unhappiness. I took Nadiya my daughter along, and we went downstairs to the basement. His wife stood next to him quietly as he went round showing me what a dirty basement I’d given him. I told him, “my maid is pregnant and she cannot do more than this. If you want more cleanliness, bring your own people to do it, I’ll pay up Rs.2000/- for two day’s cleaning.” We parted happily with offers from him for getting us anything from anywhere in the world and especially from Dubai, since he is a pilot. I told him,” I have everything I need here in Pakistan. But will certainly ask if needed.” We ended our conversation on a happy note. With due apologies, the couple went off to spend the night in a hotel, as the place was too dirty! This was his first home in Pakistan after 25 years….

I remembered, all the scrubbing and cleaning my husband and I used to do when we went to any new home. It was part of the process. We both would don our dungarees and joggers and put on loud music and get going and the kids always joined in too.

Nadiya and I came upstairs to our lounge and joined my Mom who was sitting there as usual with earphones attached to her Ipad watching a drama. We looked at our two Persian cats and the dust bunnies all over our sofa set. Then Waliya joined in and we told them the response we got for all our cleaning. She said “maybe we can give them a whiff of my cat’s litter box!”

So, we all had a good laugh as Nadiya reconstructed our visit downstairs, and had everyone in stitches due to her comical narration. She acted out my response to them, and I pointed out how she told them “who gives original paintings to tenants?” Well, it all ended well, because we realize, when people come to Pakistan from abroad, everyone can’t bear the ‘dirt’ not realizing that here we have very big homes. It is easier to clean up two room apartments. Here the sizes are enormous and the cleanliness standards are rather laid back. We all reminiscence on how paranoid we all had been when we came from Kuwait and England. I remembered how finicky one is in the beginning of one’s marraige. Then nature gives you children and you have days and nights spent cleaning ‘poopies’ and ‘pippies,’ and all that vomit which also has to be contended with! Your whole perspective changes and using too many chemicals in your home is no longer a priority. Nadiya said “I was like that too, till I realized that either one can be squeaky clean or happy!”

So, that was another typical day in my life.



Thank you so much for reading all the way to here. Stay blessed!