There is something about mountains that just thrills me. I love mountains – the higher the better. It just refreshes you. This is why Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) regularly went and stayed in a cave (Ghar-e-Hira) for several days, on a regular basis. You need to distance yourself from your everyday life sometimes.
It is good to go with your dear ones, but sometimes, it is also good to go alone.
Why? To be able to think a thought through to the end. (He didn’t even have a smart phone!) In our cases, we could literally lose our own lives, due to all the distractions we keep having.
So, I got up and went off with my driver who was assigned to my husband back in 2004. Right at the time that i was leaving, I remembered that Hasnain, my domestic help has never been to the mountains. So, I decided to take him along; – In just a ten minute notice, he was ready!
Really don’t want to deprive you of some interesting things that I’ve been up to. Specially, because these could have some value in your life too, wherever you are, and whatever you do. Sometimes, some very unexpected things happen, and you let them happen, and you wonder how you hadn’t even considered them earlier!
Somehow, life takes you to what is really needed by you. Because, it was meant to happen, I was meant to be at the LLF.
It was Nigar Nazar my cartoonist friend who took me to Lahore with her.
She said, “You are the writer, publisher, and you aren’t going! You better go with me tomorrow, I’ll book the seats and take you along.” It was ten pm the previous night at a mehndi function. We could barely understand each other over the blast of the music.
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, 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.
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.
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 .)
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
Hajra Apa and Sir Mansoor Rahi are so romantic and so cute.
Their amazing bond, their softness, and their gentle behavior is an example to us all. I’ve never heard them raise their voices. Always speaking in a gentle way, with a smile, they too, pull each other’s legs in their own sweet ways. After Khajaut, we left for Changla Gali which is much further up with over an hour’s extra drive. It was fun going to find there was snow there!
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.
The snow at the end of the journey was a real surprise.
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?
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.
Something happened during our pilgrimage and Umra trip.
Want to sit with me in a time machine? Do you want to go to Makkah and Madina? Join us in 1987 when my husband and I went there from Kuwait by road. Today, I’m feeling very emotional. It is birthday of Muhammad (PBUH) and I’m remembering how much his life has affected mine. I’ve never met him, but the impact has been there. I guess that is why God decided to make him His last representative on earth.
My husband and I were on deputation to Kuwait. He was a Captain in Kuwaiti Air Force.
Adventurous as we were, we decided to go for pilgrimage on our own by road. Usually, people went with friends, for security, as it was a very long journey of thousands of kilometers. My husband and I had already been to Europe with our one-year-old daughter. So we packed our two little girls aged two years and ten-month-old Nataliya and five-month-old Nadiya, in the car and drove off.
Our trip was going well, in spite of some real adventures which are almost inevitable on road trips. I may share some with you later on, but today I’m telling you about this Umra trip, and what happened afterwards. So, we first performed our Umra in Makkah.
Last Friday, I visited one of the greatest tourist attractions of this region. Somehow I hadn’t seen it, inspite of living just two hours’ drive from there. When my college friends were going there, I siezed the oppertunity of meeting them as well as seeing the unique mines.
Khewra Salt Mines:
These mines are located near Bhera which is the middle of Lahore and Islamabad Motorway. So, it is around a two-hour drive from Lahore or Islamabad. It was discovered by an interesting incident happening over a couple of thousand years ago. In 326 BC one of the horses of Alexander the Great, was seen licking the ‘stones’ here with great relish. They found out that it was a chunk of pure salt. As you may know horses like to lick salt. So, that is how the soldiers of Alexander, discovered this place in 326 BC. It was a time when he was busy winning his battle with Porus the local king.
After that, slowly and surely this place kept being revisited, till 1876 when the British freshly having ‘settled’ the locals to accept them as the ‘lords of this land’, took over the salt mines and set about doing it up. We had our lunch at this rest house which was built then. So now, after a hundred and forty-one years we all from Home Economics College decided to have lunch here on October 27th 2017. It was already 3.00. p.m. when we reached the rest house for lunch.
A charming railway station near Islamabad, that deserves a visit.
It’s a six to ten km drive from Islamabad, on a bad road. Yet, I was charmed to get there, to see the station which was built in 1860 looking in good shape. The breeze lifted the leaves of the Banyan trees lying on the ground. Winds of Time and Winds of Change were so evident here. It’s a charming place, from where the outlines of the Margalla Hills are visible.
Adnan Afaq, living in Lahore had worked it all out. He even hosted the group at his home. It was all possible due to Sobia Maqbool who was studying at Harvard. The duo had worked things out together. She was doing her Masters in Public Administration, Harvard, Kennedy School of Government (2017).
As Sobia put it:
“From a casual conversation between two friends about going on a road trip together to explore the scenic northern areas of Pakistan, Adnan Afaq, CEO of Pakistan Credit Rating Agency, and I, then student of Harvard Kennedy School, pursuing my Master’s in Public Administration, took along 30 Harvard students on a once in a lifetime journey exploring various seasons, landscapes, people and tastes of Pakistan.”
When Sobia joined Harvard in 2015 she saw that there were trips being arranged by different groups of students to most of their home countries. She was upset to realize that there had been no trips to Pakistan. She reached out to Adnan, who was equally disturbed. An avid traveler, Adnan immediately offered to help arrange a trek to Pakistan. Together, they decided to create an itinerary that would provide the trek participants a unique opportunity to be able to gaze deep into the soul of Pakistan and gain access to an insider’s look into the lives of the locals. Adnan and Sobia wanted to create a journey filled with diverse experiences for the trek participants – from the food they ate to the people they interacted with and the landscapes they breathed in. The main idea was to give them a flavor of Pakistan. (Yummm we all know what a great flavor it is, in every sense.)