Increasingly getting a feeling these days that being so swamped up with work, personal life, meeting deadlines etc has really just made everything in life so self-centered. Missing the satisfaction of being able to listen to a friend who had a bad day at work, or helping a roommate download an app she can’t wrap her head around, or just being there for friends/family when they need me. Really need to get better at multitasking which my Italian boss thinks women are better at anyways- thanks to evolution- because women were required to attend to multiple chores in the house while men had to focus on hunting alone. My Pakistani male coworkers cringed inside when they heard him proclaim women might be better than them.. at something… doesn’t matter what. That’s probably one of the reasons why they don’t really like him. These goras, man. Not respecting the cultural values so dear to us.
Andddd on a completely different and non-dismal note, fall is here. At least in Islamabad. The morning breeze is getting chilly and morning drives to work are becoming so much more joyful! Just waiting for those leaves to turn yellow and crisp, punctuate it with a hot croissant and a cup of hot tea, and ta daaa! Happiest time of the year is here :D
During some random buzzfeed-ing yesterday, I read about this 5 year old girl who is autistic and expresses herself through her wonderful paintings. And we are not talking regular 5 year old drawings here. Man, are those brush strokes skilled! I don’t know how a 5 year old can manage such layering and depth with those 5 year old hands of hers. And the colors so pacifying, yet the painting so stormy. You can have a look at her paintings here and you will know what I’m talking about.
Something happens as you get a little older (and maybe a teeny tiny bit wiser) and you realize that you have to do it on your own. No one will work as hard for you as you will. It’s scary to admit for yourself. But if inside your guts and bones, you feel you have something to offer, don’t let self-doubt keep your magic from the rest of us. We want in.
I have always had this weird habit of looking at pictures which pique my interest for quite a long time. Back in college when I first saw the portrait of the Afghan Girl by National Geographic, it instantly caught my attention. Sort of gripped my heart, you know. I just could not tear away my gaze from that look on her face- angry and potent, hiding beneath it a thunderous storm of rage and deep pain. It was one of the most powerful pictures I had ever laid my eyes on. And I would look at it from time to time, because I found myself connecting with the girl while looking at her picture. Weird, I know. And my room mates had quite a laugh when they found me staring at that picture, not being able to fathom my reason for doing so.
Anyways, so after a long time I have yet again come across such a picture which I just can’t get enough of.
I don’t exactly remember where I came across it but given its a popular one, must have been on one of those ”xx trips to take in your lifetime’ articles. Its a place in Ukraine: The Tunnel of Love. Besides being on my personal trips to take list, it is also already on the list of places I know are going to be a recluse for the hermit in me. This is how its going to be: I’m walking on that trail while the sun is shining on me and a gentle breeze is making the tree canopy sway slightly. I just feel that I need to know where the tunnel leads. Not at any deep, existential level, just out of curiosity. I just want to find out why this picture is so mesmerizing and enchanting.
Talk about having goals in life.
There is another picture I saved on my computer a few weeks ago from the album of a summer school friend from Kazakhstan recounting her vacation memories. I really liked the feeling emanating from it: a lazy sunday may be, filled with sun, laughter, wine, and dancing. Incidentally, also from Ukraine.
Tags: with love from ukraine
The most beautiful thing in life is that our souls remain hovering over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves. I am one of those who remembers those places regardless of distance or time.
—Khalil Gibran, Mirrors of the Soul
there are among us
wild ones, free at heart
those without check
beyond the compass
of their own mind
live as they do
or do not
but make no mistake
their existence is
which needs neither
What I love about reading self-proclaimed ”objective” commentary on historical events and figures of the British colonial Raj and post-colonial era is how angry it makes me at first. It makes me fidget in my seat, an obvious sign that something that forms a part of my core beliefs is being challenged. A moment of reckoning follows: should i read on? What if it eats away at whats left of the itsy bitsy conventional and mainstream in me and I end up being an even bigger non-conformist and misfit after I’m finished reading. Simultaneously, I get really angry on these gora people for coming up with their own ”unbiased” and ”neutral’ versions of OUR history, making our history books look like an indoctrinating tool kit. Forcing a narrowly conceived version of patriotism- a confusing blend of nationalism, Islamism (read: a vehicle of God’s will), and hatred for everything ”Hindustan”- down our throats.
I was checking out the book mart at Karachi airport today, going through prologues in the hope of stumbling across something interesting in Fiction. But that failed to happen so I randomly picked up this book titled ‘Jinnah vs Gandhi’. 3 hours ago, I wasn’t a big fan of Gandhi. Honestly, the only thing I remembered of him from school history books was that he was not a man of his word, he was strongly opposed to partition, deceived Muslims on major turning points in the freedom movement, and only championed the rights of Hindu majority. You talk to anyone in Pakistan about to graduate high school, irrespective of which system the bacha/bachi is studying in, they will more or less portray the same sketch of Gandhi for you.
This book challenged all of the above mentioned pakistani-history-book-information, which had successfully managed to form my opinion about who everyone calls one of the greatest Indian political leaders ever (not in Pakistan though. To us he is a pee-drinker). I got really angry when I moved from the prologue to the first chapter. I agreed with the author that what Quaid envisioned was that Muslims should not live with Hindus- an aim he accomplished- but he did not want those Muslims to be any different than when they were in India. He didn’t expect them to change at any spiritual or individual level after the said goal was accomplished. But my concern was this: How could Gandhi’s political aims be holistic and be based on genuine political thinking? Individual reformation as the first step for the mass political reform? That made so much sense. Gandhi believed in a Swaraj that was applicable not on the political level, but also on the personal level. Self-rule and liberation, as envisioned by Gandhi, was a means for individuals to liberate themselves from their lower instincts as a means for political liberation.
The more I read, the more I was convinced that the man was a genius!
But Gandhi? Really? How? Whyyy? Why did it take 23 years and a spur of the moment book purchase for me to get to know about the thoughts of the man we are supposed to hate? Why does being born in a particular geographical territory translate into blind hatred, distortion of facts, and massively screened versions of history? It made me angry and then it made me think. Like it always does. About everything that is wrong with us today. Holding dear a false sense of pride in the history that we were never a part of, gutting down a nostalgia that is not our own, believing in a nationalism that requires its practitioners to hate the ‘other’.
Something is very wrong with the country we are living in today.
The God of Love, Plato wrote in “The Symposium,” “lives in a state of need.”
Two beautiful words I fell in love with during the short vacation to Amsterdam. We were on a boat cruise, me and two friends who happen to be a lovely couple. So it was my last day there and it got us talking about memories and nostalgia. And T told us about this word that Brazilians use to describe the feeling when you are melancholic about having to say good bye but happy that you made all those profound memories.. saudade. Beautiful word…saudade.Someone here has rightly said that its an ‘untranslatable and undeniably potent’ word.
And while we were on the subject of how English language has no words to describe such deeply felt beautiful or heart breaking emotions and moments, we landed on another word: gezellig. Its a Dutch word which describes the feeling of being cozy and having fun with your friends. It’s a little to do with the ambiance of the place where you are and a lot more about the people you are with. Happy word.
And I recently learnt about a German word that evokes such deep nostalgia that no English or Urdu word has ever been able to do: sehnsucht. It represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experience. It tells of a longing for a place we have never been to.. a far-off country, but not a particular earthly land which we can identify.
Now isn’t this the most nostalgic and beautiful word you know? And isn’t it just unfair if we go through life feeling these really deep, complicated emotions without even having a word to explain how we feel.
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