Archive for May, 2009

From my seat on KFC’s first floor

Well, here I am again in the Super market, wandering around aimlessly and filling my lungs with fresh Islamabadi air (mixed with popular brands of perfume, the stench of garbage cans, the smell of sweaty under arms, and the hormonal discharge of emotionally charged adolescents). Having brisk walked around the area for over an hour, I was beginning to feel hungry, and so I decided to go to the KFC outlet for my favorite snack of a chicken nuggets combo meal with an Arabian rice add-on. I hadn’t eaten something unhealthy in quite sometime, so I thought it would be nice if I could treat my taste buds to something Finger Lickin’ Good.

Since I’m a regular KFC customer and keep ordering those nuggets at my place whenever I feel like getting my arteries blocked with cholesterol, the delivery guy wandering around the counter recognized me and made sure that I got my order in time. And soon my hot star shaped nuggets came sliding down their delivery cabinet and were served in a disposable paper plate along with the unusually salty fries by their side. Since the lower floor was being renovated, I had to go to the first floor to have my meal.

What I have felt during my three year stay in Islamabad (my personal observation) is that people here like going to the KFC outlet more than McDonalds, whereas in Lahore McDonalds is far more popular than KFC as you’ll usually see every McDonalds outlet in Lahore spilling with people who are dying to sink their teeth in a juicy slab of chicken or beef meat (stop drooling, you’ll short circuit your keyboard). Accessibility maybe? With McDonalds far away in F-10 near that park thingy (Fatima Jinnah probably?), people would rather prefer going to the more accessible KFC in the Super, a market place where people are found anyway at any time (except for later in the night after 11, which I think is quite sad). I would personally rate the McDonalds Big Mac more chunkier and juicier than the KFC’s Zinger, the latter having tarnished my image of the much likened burger after I received it in a messy condition at my place. And for some reason I have this feeling that food served at the KFC is more unhealthier than that served at McDonalds.

No comparing McDonalds fries with KFC’s though! Nicely served, crisp and hot and appropriately salted, the McDonalds’ fry is the perfect sidekick to an equally good Big Mac burger, unlike the KFC fry which is a bit more oilier and inappropriately salted. The taste of the fry should be uniform; it should penetrate the flesh of the potato and be homogenous throughout the fry. Because if you chew on a piece of fry with a non-uniform taste, you would see that it is saltier on the outside, but not as salty on the inside, giving you an incomplete taste in the mouth. When you bite a fry, your brain expects the same lovely salty potato taste on the inside too, and when your tongue does not find it, the brain is disappointed. And that’s why McDonald’s fries are better than KFC’s… they just have a nice uniform taste in addition to the crispiness and freshness.

I guess we’ve dissected the fry a bit too much than was necessary.

The first floor of the KFC outlet seemed like a children’s area with balloons everywhere and lovely greeting cards self-made by children pasted to every window of the outlet. I found some of the cards very very touching. Here’s a window covered with cards the children made for their mothers, probably for mothers day:

Image044

There’s all sorts of lovely things written on them. The kids have been very creative about expressing their love for their mother in these cards. There was stuff like: There is nothing more comfortable in this world than a mother’s lap.

But I find this quite strange. Not that the kids are expressing their love for their mothers, but that a multi-national fast food outlet that serves fried chicken with potato fries and a soft drink in a disposable glass has children’s emotions splattered all over their walls. Why is a fast food outlet stressing so much on a child’s love for this mother? Is it because they want to improve their sales by attracting more children? Is it because they are using the cover of Mother’s Day to get more customers? Is it because this outlet is in a way educating these children to respect KFC more, and by doing so are preparing them to be KFC addicts in the future? Or does KFC truly and honestly respects a child’s love for his or her mother and is proudly displaying it on their windows with these cards that the children made? Quite strange if you think of it.Image045

It didn’t take me much time to finish what I had in my plates, but what I usually look forward to eating at KFC is the Arabian Rice. I often find myself ordering two plates of Arabian Rice, one as an add-on which costs Rs. 40, and one separate, which costs me Rs. 75 I believe. It’s that combination of the rich chicken flavor with the capsicum, the peppercorn and the green chilli that makes this rice so irresistible. I tried making it at home but wasn’t very successful with it. The only difference was the absence of chicken; I had put chicken stock in it instead. But it did come near to the real thing.

Image046With plenty of time to waste I thought I should send up a few tweets through my cellphone. But then I wondered if there was a WiFi internet connection in the outlet. Quite a ridiculous thought, but when I scanned for wireless internet I found a LOT of them! And everytime I ran the scan I found new ones. The first one in the picture on the left gave me 100% signal strength, so that probably was the KFC’s connection. There was another one for the Chopsticks restaurant right next to the KFC outlet, and this too was an unsecured open connection. The others had either WPA or WEP encryption, so I couldn’t get through them. But I spent my time there comfortably tweeting through the KFC and the Chopsticks WiFi connection. So if anyone of you is on the move and is looking out for a good internet connection to post a blog, check e-mails or work, then just sit around the KFC area and you’ll get a good signal.

And after having my meal, I walked back home, made two glasses of nice salted lassi with a kulcha, and went to bed with the thought that by the time I wake up in the morning, my body would have had absorbed the proteins from the nuggets and patched up my muscle tissue with it, the fries would have provided the much needed carbohydrate, and the rice a truckload of calories to burn on another walk on a Saturday afternoon.

Yaum e Takbeer: The Day that Made Us Proud

I can still go down the memory lane and collect small strands from that day when it actually happened. It was a pretty regular evening for me. I was doing my BSc at that time and was roaming around in my hostel corridor, probably trying to study for a test. Being in the hostel and not very interested in current affairs I did not have much idea of the situation outside my little world. All I knew was that India had done atomic blasts some time ago and was bullying us like anything.

That time there was a lot of praise in my mind for the then government and the armed forces who were standing tall in front of the tyrant as a strong protective wall. I knew there were pressures from the bigger intimidating bully (the USA) as well which required dealing with and that filled my heart with even more gratitude for the government and the forces.

I was thinking like a little kid that why can’t we “fight” back and “punch” the bullies. I kept asking this question from myself and always came up with the answer that maybe it is not the appropriate time to retaliate. I did not dare to think even for a second that God forbid we were incapable of replying back. That thought would have been a serious nightmare.

And then in the corridors a little noise was raised. It seemed to be coming from the TV lounge. Everybody in sight or in earshot moved towards the sound. I did too with my lazy steps, thinking that maybe it was some “girly” girl who saw a lizard and was frightened [no offense to the girly girls :-) ]. But when I reached there the scene was quite different.

I heard the news that Pakistan has finally done atomic blasts. And doing so had brought the motherland to the pedestal where 6 other nuclear power nations already stood. I didn’t think of anything else any more after that. I just glided back to my room, feeling extremely light in heart and mind. I could feel the warmth of that feeling all over me. I actually felt proud at a national achievement.

I usually never show much zeal and fervor when the anniversary of this day, known as Yaum e Takbeer, is celebrated. I never go out to any events or chant out patriotic slogans. All I do is remember the day and recall that warm feeling. It lights a little light and makes my heart glow.

That was a day that made us all proud, really proud indeed. May Allah bestow more of such achievements on us, the Pakistani nation.

Pakistan Zindabad! :-)

Bu-Bye (for now)

Anyone up for some barf ;)

Anyone up for some barf ;)

the picture suggests that heat is scorching at the moment in beautiful Islamabad.  And the girl is not so happy about having her ice lolly being shared ;)

Stay cool everyone.

As for me .. this journey at IMB was absolute fun … but I guess its bye-bye time now that I lingered on for some time ;) Will see you when hit Isloo again Inshah Allah .. and the occasional hello hi’s ^_^   2.5 years here were helluva good …  IMB will stay close to my heart  .. yup the drama queen thingy. And IMB gals and guys .. when I come back .. we’ll have a grand meet up :)

Until then ….

Goodbye for now

ps: hoping people are as active to help IDPsof swat, malakand divison and buner as they were during earthquake days.

"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry"

img_1509This is the kind of thing that makes me want to cry. And kill! Does God have to come down in person and inform CDA that this is not the zamzam spring that sprouted up on Margalla road three weeks ago, and someone will be heavily accountable for the wastage of this precious resource?

In and around Super

I usually take the van to go to the F-6 ‘Super’ Market, the place where I like to walk around for a couple of hours at night aimlessly, looking at people walking, talking, and shopping. Sometimes I choose my ‘victim’ from the crowd of walkers, and follow the unwary person around the market, observing what he (or she) is doing. But that happens sometimes, mind you, and calling me a public stalker would be an insult to a very interesting urban art form just like the more risky sport of parkour. I wonder how it would be like to be doing parkour in Islamabad though… jumping around garbage cans and lamp posts and those newly erected fancy bus stops. The city is crying out for some kind of urban sport to take over its streets, and the post-taliban era (if the army manages to beat the pulp out of those miscreants) would be the perfect time to encourage these activities, and other arts. But if we do turn into bearded buffoons and get our barbers shops and massage parlors closed in the near future, it still wouldn’t hurt to have some kind of urban sport to keep us entertained now would it? Or maybe they would accuse someone of flashing his ‘naala’ while jumping around garbage cans and cars in a parking area.

Best Price

So, when I reach the ‘Super’ market, I go to the supermarket called Best Price to replenish my supply of cereal and frozen goods, a majority of bachelors means of survival. This is one of those places where you can get all the stuff you need at a reasonable price. They do get unfriendly with their vegetables and fruits prices sometimes, but their buy-one-get-one free type offers are usually quite tempting. Plus their clever strategy of deploying pretty young women in-front of popular brands like Olper’s milk and the new Flora margarine usually fool gullible and easily persuaded men like yours truly into buying their product. And to top it off, they get your cellphone number too, leaving you wondering if the pretty young lady would call you later for a little tête-à-tête in the middle of the night, only to disappoint you later by having her ‘boss’ call you up for other so-called unbelievable offers of the same product.

Now this particular supermarket has an upper floor which has tons of plastic goods, crockery and utensils, bed sheets and other stuff. This was the first place where I came to shop for all my kitchen utensils when I first came to Islamabad, and I wasn’t disappointed. I did, however, want a nice little bowl for pouring in milk and food for cats which I was unable to find in this supermarket. Funny though that they’ve got a huge stock of dog and cat food but no stuff to put it all in! Their kitchen utensils section seems to be aptly stocked too, with items ranging from a variety of knives and forks to all sorts of cooking pots and pans.

To cut a long story short, it’s a good place to shop for everyday stuff.

The Walk

One of the activities I enjoy doing at Super, as mentioned above, is walking around for hours (well not actually ‘hours’ but half and quarter hours… lots of quarter hours!). The route I like to follow starts from the Servis outlet where the van drops me off. From there I walk towards that book and stationary store on the main road side which has rows of magazines outside up for sale, and an old tattered banner advertising the availability of the much coveted Brasstacks CD (which, in my opinion, is all a load of bull to get people’s attention). I cross the Levi’s store and turn right to get ‘inside’ the market. Here’s where I am welcomed by the fragrance of serrated edged potatoes made by a short squinty eyed Afghani, who is usually found surrounded by a few ladies wanting to replenish their energy with those chunks of carbohydrate after their endless rounds of shopping for women’s accessories.

My feet then lead me to the Illusions store, where I usually stop by to have a look around, check if the price of the new gaming consoles have reduced or not, and of course, to buy a DVD or two to watch on the weekend. Why do I like to buy DVD’s from Illusions and not from any small DVD outlet in the corner of the market? Well, I like to give my movie watching experience some more respect, and by not buying the DVD from a measly CD outlet somewhere next to a men’s underwear shop where a semi-naked man wearing a p-cap chewing a ciggie stub is sitting in front of his collection of CD’s wrapped in polythene, I am in a way making my experience more pleasurable.

I then walk out into the open and into the small sitting area with concrete (or was it wood?) benches on a nicely paved ground. You can see people sitting there, chatting, playing cards, smoking, making future plans, discussing issues, eating, etc. etc. It’s one of those places where a terrorist is most likely to strike if his objective was to discourage people from coming to the marketplace (oops!). If only they had a few low street lamps sort of lighting there… nice orange colored lights… they would have made the ‘sitting’ experience more pleasurable. And of course if the CDA wants to do that they should do so without making it look too showy and obvious. Just a few nice orange lights in the background to make the place more cosy…

From here I either go to Best Price to buy my stuff, or walk towards the pharmacies and then to the United Bakery near the KFC outlet to replenish my supply of bakery items. I love buying bakery items, even if most of them would not have the pleasure of dissolution in my gastric juices and would rot and turn green after lying for weeks unattended in the refrigerator. The items I usually pick off the shelves from this bakery are those stick thingies with sesame seeds on them,  and some nice garlic bread, although it is a bit too oily and not as good as the ones served as appetizers at Pappasallis. Somehow I feel that the United Bakery has lost its standard and doesn’t make the kind of stuff it used to before.

So here’s where it ends, and here’s where I stand for 10 minutes wondering if I should walk back home or take the cab. The cabbies here usually charge and exorbitant amount after seeing that you have tons of shopping bags in your hand and have no other choice but to hire a cab. But at least they’re not as crazy as the cabbies or rickshaw drivers in Lahore.

If anyone asked me where I would like to hangout in Islamabad for the weekend, I’d say that it would be the Super market (hint hint).

How to help the IDPs in Pakistan

Our brethren need our help. They have been displaced from Swat, Boner, Dir and surrounding areas due to the military operation there. We can help in cash and kind. What can be donated includes but is not limited to as follows:

Food
Wheat, Flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar, lentils, porridge, milk (in powdered form or in sealed tetra/brick packs), potatoes, onions

Water
Cans/bottles of clean drinking water (preferably mineral water)

Clothing
Clothes for Summer and Winter, Socks, Shawls, Shoes

Utensils
Cooking pans, containers, crockery

Bedding
Sheets, Bedding, Blankets

Toiletries and Personal Hygiene Items
Soaps, Tooth pastes, Tooth brushes, Washing powders

Medicines and Medical Items
Bandages, Painkillers, Malaria/Cholera/Diarrhea/Flu medicine (Note: You can contact your local medical centers to get more guidelines on these.)

Apart from this, money can be donated to the aid organisations to enable them to get the basic necessities for our displaced brethren.

Following are some useful links for people of Pakistan who would like to help with their generous donations:

Edhi Foundation: http://www.edhifoundation.com/contact.asp
Al-Khidmat Foundation: http://al-khidmatfoundation.org/donate-here.php
Sarhad Rural Support Programme: http://www.srsp.org.pk/IDP/internally-displaced-people.html
Pakistan Red Crescent Society: http://www.prcs.org.pk/donation.asp

PS: Every little counts, so please help even if you have just one rupee to donate. :-)

Stop the War

PakistanThe families who were forced out of thier homes in minutes took nothing with them, crops were left standing and doors left open. They paid 10 times the normal fare to travel without food or water to a maladministered refugee camp. This Army operation has been started at the behest of the American govt – not the Pakistani people or the people of Swat. Barely ten days had passed since the parliament passed the Nizam-e-Adl agreement and since the very beginning statements of ill-intent starting pouring out of Washington. Peace was not given a chance and now the summer campaign to crush insurgency has been started – at what cost? We have created 1.3million refugees just to hunt down a few criminals? thats comparable to a carload of criminals coming into F10 and the govt reacting by clearing out the whole sector and bombing it with F16’s. This is nonsense. We should all stand up and say to our “brave” troops “Stop fighting America’s War“.

Up For Roll Paratha?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcRXPx35d88[/youtube]

Just saw the making of Roll Paratha @ munchies and I’m totally up for it …. anyone else wana come ;)

Tale of Purple Lining



Purple lining, originally uploaded by jzakariya.

Falling In Love with the Blue Tower

Tough i am in love with the Green (Trust) Tower but i these days i am feeling a shift of feelings to a different side. The new gleaming Blue (Islamabad Stock Exchange) Tower keeps looking at me with those shiny eyes (glass) and asks me to stay when i am rushing ahead passing by it. It does make my head turn and make my heart flutter. I wonder where would my affections lie in due course of time. There is a tough competition between the “Green” and the “Blue”. :-)

Islamabad Stock Exchange Tower

Islamabad Stock Exchange Tower

PS: Maybe i will change the course of the “affection” and “adopt” them both. Yuppiee!

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