Sunday, March 5, 2017

Ever since my elder daughter went off to university I am always being asked the inevitable question regarding whether I miss her or not. My answer to that is usually in the negative which comes as a surprise to some people and amuses others. But the honest truth is that I don't ALLOW myself to miss her .
I never think of her as not being around. I just think of her as being someplace else and soon to return home. But admittedly, there are moments that seep through the unseen cracks in my facade and play havoc with my emotions. Moments like when I pass through corridors of the university where she used to go, which feel strangely empty even though they are full of students, their constant chatter and activity. Same is the scenario in my younger ones case. Ever since she has been shifted to another branch I have avoided going to the turf area where she used to have her recess or the rooms where her classes were located because it tugs at my heart to know that I will not see her there. That is the biggest disadvantage of working in the same institution where your kids study or used to study. There are too many nooks and corners that remind you of their presence. (I cant even begin to think what places I am going to skip once my son goes to finish his studies. Mercifully he and I don't share the same educational institution so I am hoping that the list would be short).
My guilty confession is that I often skim through school boards to see if I can locate some old picture from any old event. And when I manage to find one of my kids, it is jack pot.
So, do I miss them?
If I allow myself to, yes.
But then I also miss the wonderful time when they were little babies and I used to rock them to sleep in my arms. I can no more turn the clock back to the time when they were dependent on me for fulfillment of every whim than keep them from moving ahead and advancing in life .
So yes, even though I do miss them and will continue to do so, the all important question is that will I ever show it and will I ever let it overpower me to the point where I will stand in the way of my children's progress?
Never in a million years.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A nation of careless people

We are a  nation of careless people. We take things lightly, a little too lightly for our  own good. Recently there has been an explosion in a commercial area near where I live. Contradictory statements are evolving on daily bases relating to the nature and cause of the explosion. Some say it was a pre-planned terrorist activity, others say, a gas leak. Although I am not ruling out the possibility of a terrorist attack, a gas based explosion also seems plausible.
Only a day prior to that tragic event on Thursday I happened to walk into the staff lounge at my work place with another colleague. Upon entering the room both of us immediately became aware of a very sharp hissing sound. Walking towards the source of  the noise we came upon a couple of exposed and open ended pipes near the back of the room.  Another second was enough to make us realize that it was the sound of gas coming out from the pipe at full pressure. I quickly turned the valve off but by then the whole room was already full of gas. We quickly exited, opening all windows and turning the fans full on. Apparently some idiot plumber had come into the room a few minutes earlier to check on the pipes. The fact that he had not even bothered to check whether the valves was completely turned off or not before going back out to turn the gas supply on from the main supply port just goes to shows his casual attitude towards the whole thing.
An attitude we have sadly inherited as a nation.
How often do we stop to check if all the safety measures are in place before attempting some thing risky?
How often do we not utter the words that everything will be fine when we are about to do something which we know is pretty stupid and dangerous.
I have done this myself. We all have. Countless times.
I keep thinking about those turned on valves in our staff lounge. Had the plumber's mistake or negligence to be more accurate not been discovered in time, the consequences could have been devastating.
Sometimes it takes a tiny mistake to make us realize the errors of our ways and mend them.
It is time we learned that being cautious is not the same as being a coward.
It is high time we turn our vigilance up a few notches and start being more careful and responsible in our day to day matters of life .

Monday, February 13, 2017

What really amuses me is when people entrust someone with their secrets starting with the line "DON'T TELL ANYONE"
And I am like "come on"
You are the one telling it.
How can you expect someone else to hold on to something that even you yourself could not?
If you really want something to remain unknown then don't go around telling anyone about it in the first place:-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Camii Eyup Sultan

On a cold winter morning when it was drizzling outside, we decided to pay a visit to the tomb of Hazrat Abu Ayub Ansari. The tomb of this trusted and valued companion of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is located somewhat in the north of Istanbul where the Bosporus strait starts to narrow down into a tighter channel.  It is approximately an hour‘s drive from the Sultanahmet district where we happened to be staying at that time and where most of Istanbul’s famous attractions are located. Since most of Istanbul’s mass transit links cover only the Fateh district plus a few areas beyond that, getting to the tomb meant you had to arrange for your own mode of transportation whether it is a bus, ferry or a privately hired taxi or car. It had been pre decided by us that no trip to Istanbul would be complete without paying our respects to this esteemed "Sahabi e Rasool”.  How we managed to get there is a long story, not to mention that by the time we did, the drizzle had changed to steady rain and we had lost two of our umbrellas on the way. We approached the burial place from the back side. Fortunately there was a huge sign indicating the entrance to Camii Eyup Sultan or the Ayub Sultan Mosque. We entered the alley under the sign and voila!!!!! For a moment everything came to a standstill…. including us. What we had entered was a beautiful cobble stone path sandwiched between walls on either side and beyond the walls the land rose and fell naturally giving us view of what lay on the other side. On either side beyond the walls was a cemetery all the way till the Mosque itself, which housed the grave of Hazrat Ayub Ansari.
 It was a cemetery the likes of which I had never seen before. The graves and the tombstones were so unusual and majestic that we were all spell bound by the impact they created. It was a cemetery that commanded respect and we all walked in silence forgetting the cold biting wind and the lost umbrellas. Miraculously it even stopped raining or to be more accurate the rain changed back to a drizzle.
I had wondered how this revered companion of the Prophet (PBUH) had ended up being buried so far away from his native land and from what I learned about it from my father, left me even more amazed and impressed.
Istanbul in the old days was called Constantinople. It was not only the capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire but also the sparkling jewel in their crown. It was a city rich in heritage and culture and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century it became the main city and the center of the Christian power.
The Prophet Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) had declared that whichever Islamic army conquered Constantinople will carve its own sure path to heaven. So many years after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) when the attack on Constantinople was planned Hazrat Ayub Ansari, enlisted in that army, despite being extremely advanced in age. He wanted to be part of the great army that conquered the last Christian stronghold.  Being an extremely old man Hazrat Ayub Anasari was not able to survive the expedition and expired before the army could take over Constantinople. But his final request was to be buried, if not inside Constantinople, then as close to Constantinople as possible. Urged by his last wish the Muslim soldiers pushed on till they reached the outskirts of the city where the finally laid the body of Hazrat Ayub to rest. They were unable to conquer Constantinople at that that time but they certainly put some serious fear of God into the hearts of those Byzantines. So much so that when they (the Muslim army) left, they did so with a warning that if the grave of the Prophet’s (PBUH) companion was desecrated in any way, they would come back and level the whole city (or something of the sort) .
It was not until 1453 that Constantinople was finally conquered by the Turks under the leader ship of the Ottoman Emperor Mehmet the conqueror (Sultan Mohammad Fateh) and remains under the control of the Muslim Turks to this very day. Over time Constantinople was renamed as Istanbul and it expanded as all thriving and prosperous cities expand. The grave of Hazrat Ayub Ansari which had initially been in the outskirts of Constantinople now lies in the midst of Istanbul. The Turks marked the grave by building a mosque over it and naming the area where it is located as EYUP which is basically Ayub in Turkish. The Turkish government and Ottoman Sultans before it did their best to protect and preserve this grave and over the centuries many members of the royal family chose to be buried as close the grave of the companion of the Prophet (PBUH) as possible hence giving rise to this magnificent and beautiful cemetery. Weather any other soldiers from the original campaign are also buried here alongside Hazrat Ayub or not and if they are, then whether their graves have survived over time or not is something I do not know. All I know is that if one gets the opportunity to pass through Istanbul even briefly, a visit to Camii Eyup Sultan and its neighboring graveyard to offer Fatiha is a must . 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

“To travel is to live”

Here is something I wrote for an online writing course a couple of months ago , thought I might add it here as well.

According to most dictionaries, “to travel” means, “to make a journey”. To most people this represents a physical journey and the distance covered is geographical only. But that is not the case. There is so much more to travelling then packing your bags and leaving the comfort of your home to get from one place to another. Travelling is about broadening your horizons, learning new things, testing the boundaries of your limits and occasionally crossing them. It is about meeting new people, finding new places and sometimes revisiting old ones from a new perspective.
Speaking from personal experience I have done some reasonable amount of travelling myself, not too much, but not too little either. Each trip has given me something new, whether that is insight into a strange and unique new culture or just cherished precious memories that stay with me forever. Each place I have visited has left its impact on me. Whether it is the barren hills of Balochistan or the lush green valleys of Kashmir, whether it is the centuries old architecture of a historically rich city like Istanbul or the contemporary wonders of any modern day metropolis. Each is beautiful and special in its own unique way. The joys of travelling lie in keeping an open mind and not being judgmental. Only then these places reveal their inner most secrets to one and only then, can one appreciate the exquisite magnificence of each individual location.
It is true that the world has shrunk to literally fit into the palm of one’s hand. Information about everything and everyone is available to one at the merest touch. You can learn about all these different places, different cultures and different people without even venturing out of your living room but none of this comes even close to immense degree of pleasure and sense of achievement that you get when you make the effort to go to them. An article on the internet can tell you the height of a hill or the splendours of the surrounding picturesque view but it cannot give you the crisp fresh air that tingles your lungs as you inhale it while standing at the top. A feature in a magazine can tell you about the length of a long country track, it cannot give you the comfort you experience when you sit down to rest your tired feet on top of a little boulder in the middle of the walk.
In the words of the great Hans Christian Anderson “to travel is to live”. He knew what he was talking about when he wrote that. Being alive is truly not just about being able to eat , sleep and breath, it is about experiencing all that life has to give you and one of the best ways to experience is to put aside your hesitations and fears and take that first step forward. It does not matter where to; anywhere is good enough as long as it is somewhere. And live life as it should be lived.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
Hans Christian Andersen, The Fairy Tale of My Life: An Autobiography

Saturday, December 17, 2016

To happy and safe arrivals :-)

My baby is to come home from her university in a few days and I wish the time would pass slowly.   Crazy ! right?
The thing is that I know once she arrives the days are going to fly and before I know, it will be time for her to leave.  And then ……..… I am going to wish with all my heart that somehow time would go back to the point when she was still about to arrive and not about to leave, back to the point where there were no goodbyes and departures to dread but hugs and kisses to look forward to.

And that is why I want time to pass slowly because I know that in barely a month’s time, these very days that I am living through now are going to become my most yearned after point in time. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Feeling Ashamed and Angry :-(

What is wrong with our media???
My son came home yesterday and told me that a boarder at his university had been found dead in his room. The cause of death: drug overdose, is not being publicly disclosed as yet out of respect for his parents. The parents will eventually have to be told of course once they arrive but till then everyone is keeping mum about it. 
Today I saw the news on several TV channels who are running the clip again and again complete with the student's name and picture. Don't know who leaked the news to the media but apparently someone did. 
Do they even realize how devastating this could be for the grieving family? 
How badly it is going to hurt them? 
All our media is concerned with is increasing its own stupid ratings. It has no respect for anyone, not even the dead.