Monday, September 19, 2011

A good beginning doesn’t mean a happy ending (Terrible journey)

Waiting is stressful (boring, some may like) and to avoid stress, there is nothing more than getting busy (We don’t need a nod of Psychologists for this). When I looked to gaps between my flights, I got a little bit nervous (12 hours of waiting at Quaid E Azam airport, Karachi – Almost 4 hours of waiting at Heathrow Airport, London and 10 hours and 20 minutes at Washington Dulles Airport, originally I had to wait for 5 hours but because of “technical fault in Airplane, our flight delayed for more than 5 additional hours :( …. There is nothing more practical than reading a book at airports or airplane (esp, if you are sitting along with someone who forgets speaking during travels and even makes an angry look of *Shut Up* to polite request for giving a passage to go to washroom) and additional benefit is that books don’t run of charge. But there are two main problem with books, if it is boring, it will add to your boredom and if it is too much interesting, you will be absorbed that you may forget timing and may miss the plane (if it is too much interesting, it may not last to the end of journey), so I was in need of a book of medium grade in terms of flavor and size (easy to handle and yet last till end of travel)….It took me almost an hour to select a book….being happy that I will endure easily the long waiting hours my other only concern was weather. I was expecting that it would be hot at Karachi and Dubai and chilly at London and Binghamton and I do not like to have too much in my backpack (I had bad experiences at Past. Last year, when I wanted to go to Seattle, I checked weather on internet and it was saying that weather would be fair but when I came out of airport it was really chilly so I had no other choice other than buying a pair of coat. Karachi is quite opposite, I was expecting that being a coastal city, Karachi would have a fair weather but first time that I came in a domestic flight, it was so hot for me that I couldn’t bear it and I left the city as soon as I done with my exam). This time, Karachi had a really nice weather cloudy and breezy (because of monsoon) and there wasn’t any problem in waiting. I feared of spicy food and that was solved by homemade chicken sandwiches. The travel time from Dubai to Heathrow airport is 7;25 hours and from Heathrow airport to Dulles airport is 7;50 on tickets but it takes somewhat longer so I had planned to watch movies. I watched four movies, three Bollywood movies and one Hollywood movies so everything was fine, until I reached Dulles airport. It took 3 hours to pass through security and after passing through security I found that there is another problem and that was a technical problem in the hanger of airplane so I had to wait additional 7 hours. 7 hours would be easy, but the promises just killed us. The first announcement was that flight be as scheduled so at the time when we were mentally ready to go, another announcement for half an hour delay but then a series of announcements after each half an hour. I reach my apartment 2;00 in the morning instead of 7;30 pm (I didn’t mention that my luggage was also didn’t reach so I had to file a claim) and then I reached my apartment, I found that the new tenants had just moved in. I stayed the night with one of my old neighbors and next early morning my landlord rented me a one bedroom apartment (You can dispute my argument “A good beginning doesn’t mean a happy ending” by arguing that the end was nice as at the end you got saved of shared apartment).

A father’s lesson

I am not alone in believing that Philosophy is the work of the highly learned people. Actually it is a general belief that has roots since the inception of popular Philosophy in the ancient Greek times. What really puzzled me, just happened this morning (September 15th, 2011). My father was talking to my youngest brother who is an eighth grader (He is an intelligent and curious boy, always have some thoughtful questions for me. Besides, he got first position in his class. At least he is doing much much better than me in school. It never happened that I get first position in school until University),
“If animals got instinct so do I” reasoned my youngest brother
“Animals have instincts and a lower conscious to satisfy their instincts. Human also have instincts but on contrary have higher consciousness. With higher consciousness comes responsibility. If a dog steals a piece of meat to satisfy its hunger, no one would call it a thief. If a dog kills another dog in any case, no one is going to call it a murderer. It is because their consciousness is low enough to just satisfy their instincts. On other hand, if a human steals, kills, cheats or does anything wrong to satisfy his instincts, he would be called a thief, a murderer and cheater because he got a higher consciousness which makes him able to judge between wrong and right. Because of higher consciousness man is responsible for his actions. Keep in mind that with higher consciousness comes, responsibility and as much as your level of consciousness grows so is your responsibilities.”…My father was advising him…
I said to myself, wait a minute, this line of reasoning looks familiar to me. Isn’t he is talking like a Philosopher? Frankly, it was the most amazing piece of Philosophy I have ever heard and more than that, he was not a University Professor but a father who have not read any other book except Holy Quran. The only thing that he reads is newspapers (Sometimes magazines). What really surprised me that He was teaching EXISTENTIALIST Philosophy?
I am 100% sure; he doesn’t know anything of what we call Philosophy. What he has heard of Philosophy is that there were some highly wise persons by names of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle so you can hear him advising you, “Don’t take too much time in making decisions, you are not Plato” or “It is really simple, you don’t need to consult Socrates in figuring it out” or “Do you think of yourself as Aristotle that you pass judgments on others?” and phrases like these ones. It is just his reading loud his own thinking as he doesn’t know anything about Socrates, Plato and Aristotle other than their names.
I am saying all these because he never got a chance to attend school. The way he learned reading and writing is really interesting. In his youth time, he was working in a textile factory in Haiderabad city of Sindh Province. In the evenings, after work he was buying tea and cake for a shoemaker and in return he was teaching him to read and write. That is all of his schooling but he got a reading habit of reading every day, newspapers and occasionally some magazines. When I was young, he was reading me loud some of the interesting stories from magazines. I loved his accent and was feeling proud when I was making some corrections to some lengthy or hard to read words.
But this morning, he really impressed me. Frankly, if I had to explain a deep Philosophical question to an eighth grader, I would make it very difficult for him. I didn’t interrupt him (to inform him that, what he is explaining, known as existentialist philosophy among learned people). He was asking my youngest brother,
“Does a dog feel itself responsible if a man is in misery?”
“No, I don’t think so” replied my brother
“Does a man feel responsible if a dog is in misery?” My father put another question
“Definitely, he does” answered my brother
“See, the man got higher conscious, so he feels responsible while the dog has lower conscious so it doesn’t feel responsibility. Both man and dog have instincts but they satisfy their instincts differently just because they got different levels of consciousness. You go to school to raise the level of your consciousness. The higher is learned a man, the higher is his responsibilities”………
I was totally puzzled as I was witnessing in flesh and blood what I was always imagining of Socrates. He is not a learned man to the eyes of world but he holds more wisdom than a lot of learned people…….

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The return

لو پھر ہم نے باندھ لی رخت سفر
جدھر سے آئے تھے, جائینگے ادھر

خوش ھے تھوڑی سی یہ، ھے مگر ملال بھی
کہ جان لی اور بھی محشر ھے قبل از محشر

مانا کہ غضب کی ھیں ساقی کی آنکھیں
ڈھونڈھتی ھے وہ کوئی بڑے سے بڑا سوداگر

دل تو بنئیے ھیں, اسکو سودے سے غرض
یہ نہ جانے اس سے بھی کوئی ھے بڑے غارتگر

جس طرح ھے ھاتھ خالی، کاش ھوتی دل بھی خالی
رب ھے ساتھ مگر ریال مانگے, کعبہ ھے جدھر

Years ago, I decided that I am going to leave the practice of writing poetry (It is thought that a poet needs someone worth to be the subject of his/her poetry....Hmmmm, I don't know whether that was the cause of my decision or not? Don't take it serious, it is just a joke:(.....) and gifted my younger brother (who likes poetry) dozens of pages of my English, Urdu and Persian poetry. Now I am feeling that in every person, there is a sleeping poet/poetess that once woken up, seldom sleeps again. So from time to time this Poet forces me to write some creepy Ghazals. As "The Argus" is my diary, so I am going to mess up some of its posts whenever this Poet harassed me :(

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Things that we learn, by growing up…….

“We will remain as children in the eyes of elders”
I was sitting with one of my senior teachers that one of the friends came in and asked me for mediation in their issue. My teacher burst in laughter and while tapping on my shoulder said, “Hahaha, I never thought that you have grown up enough to resolve the issues!!!”. The puzzlement was evident in all his expressions. Frankly, I felt a little embarrassed. As my father used to say, “No matter, what you become and what others say about you, I always see you as a child”. That is a compliment as well as a warning (There is a famous saying….If you are the Alexander the great, it is not wise to go in wilderness without the company of an old man (an experienced person)…. An experienced person! Hmmm, that is an essential commodity that is shrinking, most probably because of the arrogance of our generation. Most of us think that our judgments are sufficient and in most cases better than those of experienced one (Well, I think that is just the matter of time. Realizations! Perhaps, some that we do not like make us to realize that basics of life are common to all generations). I think I have improved in this regard a little bit. Over years, I have learned that we grow together. I appreciate a lot of things now that I wasn’t able to see before.
“One never learn to relax without experiencing at first hand the pains of losses by rushing”
RELAXATION, I think, Psychologists and Yogis have defamed this term. We all learn to slow down over time by our experiences. Becoming relaxed in our responses and reactions are the pretext for the mental relaxation that Psychologists and Yogis preach and teach. I tend to rush into things and sometime to disappoint myself. By seeing the relaxed elders, I have learned that in a lot of things rushing ends in kinds of losses that can’t be repaired. Learning about people and building trusts can’t be done only with good intentions and sincerity. It requires time and timing. Sometimes early means too amateur and other times late means too late!!!.... In facing strange people, you may get mocked, get treated in uneasy ways and it is also possible to be insulted. These are all possible, if the people don’t know you well. So over time, I learned to listen more to myself than others. If I know that my intentions are good then it doesn’t matter if others question them (I know they are just showing their ignorance….in that case, I can only feel pity on them…or they just rushing…Well, in that case just showing their inexperience and that is what we must overlook to give them time to grow…Please, don’t get confused in pronouns …like, you, we, other, I, you, he, she, as we fit in all these pronouns (except gender one from time to time…)…. In short, I know better myself than other and I know very well, what my intentions are, so it is better to focus on means of delivering or expressing them (Most of the flaws are here so needed a constant attention to improve)…
“By opening ourselves we increase the free space for our activities”…
The other thing that I think, I have improved a little bit in is, “Opening Myself”. If I have the authority to expand my world then why suffer from running spaces? I was very reserved in talking about myself. Over time, I have learned that I am not different from rest of people, so there is no need to be embarrassed to accept “Who I am”. The positive sides are, “reflective learning”, “improving faster by accepting growth as a natural process”, “realizing that I am a not a born saint, great man and all sort of these “like titles” that make us to retreat into our shells”, “make others feel comfortable about us”, “not shocking others and disappointing ourselves by “Wikileaks” or “Mirzaleaks” and most importantly give us courage to face ourselves and others with “courageous honesty”…………
“Understanding is more important than learning”…….
I think, I have the legitimacy to give an “expert opinion” on this topic but perhaps it is not a good place for it (Opps! I can’t write articles within article) as I have to admit that I have learnt a lot of things without understanding them and later, I have unlearned them in order to understand them. Learning becomes a pleasant and very easy process once one starts understanding. I have not to give examples to our generation as they read almost every day in headlines of newspapers or watch analyses in the news channels about failure of “experts…those who have learned but haven’t understood” in economics, politics, managements and so on. Going across the disciplines and observing beyond the relevant fields, expand the horizon of understanding and this is a lesson that I have learned the hard way.
“Gold rushes do not last long”…….
I think, it didn’t take me long to realize that gold rushes do not last long. It is natural to get impressed by those who are blessed by being at “right place” at the “right time”. People gamble their lives, relations and so on for right place and right time but I have learnt that the “right person” and the “right people” are more important than “right place” and “right time” as gold rushes do not last long. Of course, it is counterintuitive but my personal experience says that gold rushes don’t last long but the people who you have to live with are “always” there or somewhere to be with you. My uncle used to say that “lucky is one who is surrounded by wise people”. We usually get impressed by a lot of things but what last long is the “wisdom” (Seems a line from Sadhu’s book ;)
“A baby learns walking by falling many times”….
Falling is painful but we realize over time that the pains we get by falling during our efforts never hurt but it really hurts to remain safe by choosing not to try. Once I decided to show some of my writings for an advice to an expert in literature. I was a little bit hesitating in doing so, so I went to a senior student in literature. I told him about my decision and then told him of my fear, “What if he turns down to look at them?”…… “What you lose then?” he asked me back. “Nothing” I replied. It took me some time to learn to reconcile with myself over pains of falling and not fearing them anymore….
I think, this is not going to end so why not to write the rest in another Post (Thanks Khudadad for the break :)….

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How much fat makes one addicted?

When Uzbeks came to Delhi to pay a visit to the King Babur (who was also an Uzbek from Fergana Valley), they were served with rice and meat cooked in Central Asian style (Called “Pulawe”, originally Persian style of cooking rice but in Central Asia, the amount of fried fat added at the end is higher) in the King’s guest hall. The Uzbeks sat on the ground having their boots on and started eating with their hands. When they were eating, their hands were soaked in oil of rice that were dripping back in the dishes. After serving the meal, the Uzbek visited the king in his court. The king asked them, “Tell me if you have any trouble here in Delhi?”. One of the representative replied, “Everything is fine except the food.”….”What is wrong with the food?” inquired the king in puzzlement. “The rice doesn’t have enough oil in it”…..
Though South Asian consumes a lot of oil, sugar and spices in their food but they don’t use much fat or oil as compared to Central Asian people. The consumption of fat by Central Asians look amusing to South Asian people but it is also amusing that South Asian food is too greasy for Westerners. I found several times; my landowners are warning me of eating too much oily foods, while I was skimming the fatty or oily part of my food. Chinese are still more economical in using fat as compared to westerners. The main point is that people are becoming fat and sugar conscious but I think it is more related to fashion and culture than health. Everybody knows that there is no other alternative in the taste and flavor to that of fat (In fact no spice or anything else can match with fat, Fried foods or notoriously popular across the cultures), so it is natural to become addicted to fat. In cold places, people consume higher amount of fat so they are highly addicted to it and in hot places where people sweat a lot, people tends to use spices (and lesser fat) to balance the lost minerals.
Three food items were problematic but their inflation by industrial revolution gave them popular recognition and those are Fat, Sugar and Grains. These three food items are addictive and their addictions are more harmful than cigarettes (They are killing more people than wars and diseases caused by cigarette). They are more dangerous than cigarettes because cigarettes are condemned by culture but they are promoted by culture. The overconsumptions of Fat and Sugar in South Asian sweets were promoted by culture and now the whole region is addicted to it. The use of grains in Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food as bread and pasta were promoted by culture and now the whole region is addicted to the grains. Nobody can think of eating something without bread. It is an essential part of the food in these regions. You might get amused to see some people eating rice with bread. Similarly rice has become a dominant part of food in the Sino-Chinese region.
The reason that I brought all these things is my recent experiences of observing, the rapidly changing trends in eating in our part of world. Consuming Coke and other soft drinks were fashionable at times but seeing widespread use of green tea was a pleasant surprise for me. Similarly the replacement of dry fruits and fresh fruits to that of sweets, pastries and milk tea are another big surprise for me. Though this Eid was a sad Eid because of suicide attack on Hazaras of Quetta, yet increasing awareness gives some hope.

Let's beat the drum!...!...!...!

Yeah, Let's beat the drum...In month of Ramadan, some people beat the drums going street to street to wake up the people in predawn time...I was always fascinated by their jobs; they wake up people from sleep in a time when they are in deep sleep... Socrates were thinking that most of us are in deep sleep like that of predawn time, so he was going from street to street in ancient Athens and cross-questioning people to show them that their lives are un-examined...When we do not analyse our beliefs and world views then it is like living in sleeping mode...The stronger the certainty in unexamined worldviews, the deeper is the sleep.......

As there is no Socrates to stop us on the streets to cross-question our worldviews, keeping diary is way to open yourself for your examination (it is famously known as self-accountability) here I have started beating the drums...let's see how much I am going to be committed to my diary :)