Archive for August, 2009

Time warped.

time warped

Being someone who was born and raised in Islamabad, the recent plethora of construction, development, drive towards being a metropolitan just make me sad and angry at the same time. What happened to the Islamabad that was there say 5-6 years ago. The map has changed, you barely see the small roads you used to now. I honestly can’t differentiate sectors because to me they all look the same or maybe it’s the roads that run through them. I miss turns, I sometimes can’t tell what road to take to go home even when It’s just one straight road. I’m not saying development is a bad thing but there was something unique about Islamabad that slowly and alarmingly is just depreciating to a level where the smoke, rubble, bridges, under-passes and towers will over-shadow the green Islamabad that was. Seems like eons now. I fondly remember when we used to live in G-9/4 me and my mother would walk around g-9/3, g-9/1 and back home. It took us an hour and we’d see the same faces, the same khokha, the same “secret building” which I thought was cool because of the satellites and stuff. And now, walking there is considered a cardinal sin. Road blocks, security checks. It seems like a fortress rather than the place I used to walk everyday. And it just makes me wonder what the need for all this was. True security is an issue but doesn’t a “democracy in books” mean that the people are to be taken care of. These road blocks just jam traffic, cause nuisance to people who after a long day at work just want to get home without any complications. Getting stopped and asked for documents is even worse considering the same police walas see you everyday. But they’re just doing the job they were assigned to do so to speak.

7th avenue, 9th avenue, whatever avenue. It may streamline traffic but it has made the Islamabad I loved crap. In all honesty I miss the citibank chowk with the four roads and the signals where there were hardly 10 cars in the waiting. I remember at the zero point signal my dad used to stop even if our car was the only car there. And now the zero point interchange has changed the scenery. Whatever happened to the signal we stopped at just to see the white dove?. And now the white dove is usually covered with political slogans and kudos to Mr Rehman Malik or countering terrorism in Pakistan by one of his many chamchas. Islamabad is now in my humble view a city fortress where the rich and famous rule and the not so rich and certainly not famous people suffer. Tower upon tower. When will it all end? Where did the serenity go?! where on earth is the peace? Even haji restaurant eating areas are smaller because of a new tower being built. Hehe. That is in my view a major loss for Haji restaurant is a prime restaurant which too has lost it’s charm because people just won’t let them be.

I guess time changes everything and the crux of my rant was that the Islamabad that “Was” in my view is and will always be better than the Islamabad that “is” and “will be”. Give me a peaceful sector not a Centaurus. Give me a good khokha not a telecom tower. Give me a small but calm road, not an avenue where there is nothing but chaos (literally). To think this small semi-path/street will no longer be in a few years time makes me even more sad.

Time warped or plain simple conforming to social needs and adhering to the principles of the rich.famous.moustached.demented?

Another beautiful monsoon day


Islooites, How Do You Plan to Celebrate the Independence Day this Year?

I have vivid memories of celebrating Pakistan’s Independence Day in my childhood. Yes, every 14th August, I along with my cousins performed the same rituals of buying loads of buntings and flags, decorating my grandmother’s house with flags, buntings and candles, waking up early morning on 14th August to watch live the flag hoisting ceremony from Islamabad and listening to the patriotic songs sung by Sohail Rana’s trained and directed children choir. Nevertheless, one thing I always missed was the “21-gun salute”. A lot many of you would have followed the same rituals of celebrating the ‘Independence Day’ during your childhood.

I am a grown up adult by now. However, I stopped celebrating the “Independence Day” with the same zeal I used to celebrate this day in my childhood.  Yes, I stopped because I was frustrated by listening to ‘mere patriotic slogans’ every independence day whereas in reality I observed people neither abiding law, nor honoring our constitution and thus polluting the ‘land of pure’ to the extent that It has been ranked among top ten failed states in Foreign Policy Magazine’s “Failed States Index 2009”. Nevertheless, during all those years of ‘not celebrating’ the Independence Day I loved hoisting a national flag on the roof-top of my house in Lahore. But this was it all, I spent the whole day every year sleeping and resting in my room celebrating “my holiday” from work. However, I commemorated the Independence Day in 2007 & 2008 with my fellow Pakistani and Australian students in my university in Melbourne (Australia) by dancing in university with our national flag. Well, yes Pakistan with its bad reputation across the world and its ranking among top ten failed states of the world is my ‘identity’.

This year, when I am in Pakistan again and Pakistan’s 62nd Independence Day is only a week’s away, I am wondering how to celebrate this day other than urging my friends to ‘Go Green Pakistan’ and change their display pictures on facebook in order to show unity as a ‘nation’ at least for one single day . My question to all of you Islooites is “How do you plan to celebrate the Independence Day this year (if this day really means anything to you)?”

Happy Independence Day to all of you !!!

In the Fatima Jinnah Park

I went to the F-10 park Megazone last night for a bowling session with a colleague. It’s always good to have a little recreation when you’re stressed out and have things in your head which keep pinching you from time to time.

It wasn’t the first time I was going there, so I had a wee bit of experience in rolling that heavy ball down the alley, and hence was confident that I would be able to get a few spares or, if I were lucky, full strike outs. Although there were quite a lot of cars in the parking lot, relatively fewer people could be seen inside Megazone, which is surprising actually because I cannot imagine people having a fun time walking around in this humid weather in the park! But it wasn’t as cool as it should be in Megazone too, probably because of the fact that they’re not entirely running their systems on generators or other energy saving/generating devices.

But before me and my partner started our bowling session, I spent some time looking at a group of little children in sparkling white uniforms and belts of various colors around their waists running about in circles, kicking soft pads, and jumping through rings of fire! Oh yes, these were little karatekas training to become warriors, to get fit, or just to have a good time. All their movements were properly coordinated and they moved in synchrony on their instructors commands. What I loved most about the entire scene was the way they came running towards their instructor when they were called, bowed obediently all together and shouted “Osu”, and then got in the fighting ready stance with their feet shoulder width apart and their fist lowered in front of them. Seeing such discipline and coordination in little children whom one usually expects to NOT listen to whatever their elders have to say was very satisfying.

Here’s a picture of the kids standing in a line and kicking a soft pad which their instructor is holding. It’s obvious that I had to keep my distance to avoid getting hit by those powerful blows:


After their kicking and punching and kata session was over, it was time for them to practice extra skills. First their instructors made them jump through a metallic ring with a mattress in front of it for them to safely land on. Then they put the ring on fire and made the kids jump through it! Here’s a picture of one of them preparing to jump through the firey ring. A bit blurry, but I guess you can see what’s going on:


I talked to one of the junior instructors about what art they were teaching. He wasn’t familiar with most of the ‘technical’ karate terms I was talking about, so I asked him in plain Urdu. He told me that their head instructor was a 3rd Dan in Shotokan, a popular form of karate being taught in our country. Karate types like Shotokan stress on repetition, practice, and the importance of kata (a series of movements which are thought of as an encyclopedia of combat). A few older people were there practicing too, but the class was largely dominated by children.

For most people, martial arts are mostly about kicking and punching and maiming your opponent in a variety of clever ways. But above all, it is all about discipline, compassion, patience, balance, harmony, and peace. Teaching your children these important things can be the most valuable gift you can give to your child. So I would definitely encourage sending your children to a good martial arts school in the city. And I would love to see more of these sprouting up in the capital.

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