Thursday, December 8, 2011


I once read somewhere that the biggest advantage of being unorganized is that you are constantly making new discoveries or, as I have found to my delight, rediscovering old things.
The joy of coming across something you had thought lost forever can only be experienced by the messy. The well organized have no clue as to how much pleasure even a simple random discovery can give.
My latest discovery was made while going though the accessories of a food processing machine that hadn't seen the light of the day for several years.It was a long lost graduated cylinder that measures the precise amount of water to be poured into an egg boiler. I have already mentioned on my blog that with out this cylinder my fancy egg boiler had become pretty much useless.
Well it is not useless anymore.
So soft boiled, medium boiled, hard boiled or any kind of eggs that one could possibly wish to have can now be made to order.
Breakfast anyone?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

H Plus

All kids mispronounce a few words when they are little but my daughter was a champion at it. She had an entire list of words that she would twist in her mouth. The funny thing was that her mispronunciations were catchier then the actual words themselves.
For instance Kamra (room) was pronounced as Karma. Chakkar (dizziness) would become Kachar, Chocolate was Chlokate and so on. The best one was perhaps Katchpali which was her version of the word Chipkali (lizard). Since there was an abundant number of those surrounding the porch light during the evenings, the word was uttered with persistent frequency.
I thought she had out grown this habit until she came to me today saying that Nana is asking for an “H Plus”.
And I was like …..What?
Turned out Nana had asked for a Pech Kus (screw driver)
Took me a while (not to mention a consultation with Nana himself) to figure that one out

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Still Eight and a Half

It turned out that the reason my daughter had asked for all her toys to be removed was not because she had grown too old for them but because she was sick and tired of picking them up and cleaning the room after having played with them (which incidentally she never did).
So the deal now is that if I want the toys to stay in her room, I am going to have to do the tidying up.
This is what I call taking black mail to a new level.
Since I was cleaning up after her anyway, what makes tidying up now any different from before? The difference is that now I have lost the right to even chide her for being messy.
Boy! these eight and a half year olds sure know how to twist you around their little finger.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All Grown Up

My little girl just asked me to pack up all her toys.........and I am left thinking "where did this come from?"
Has she grown up so much that she does not need them anymore?

She is only eight and a half years old.

I suppose my constantly telling her to stop being babyish was to eventually have some kind of effect, though my intention had been to get her to be a little more well behaved, not discard her childhood altogether.
Nevertheless, after applauding her mature decision I did as she asked. I brought out cardboard boxes to put all her toys in but when it came to actually doing it, I could not do it.(Now who is being immature?)

I know I am being silly but to me those toys are a symbol of her childhood and it can’t be over yet: not at eight and half. I Know she is going to outgrow her playthings eventually, if not now then in a couple of years. It is part of life and there is no reason to feel depressed about it.
And yet I am depressed.
I have two other kids in their teens who have definitely left their childhood behind. I did not feel half as depressed at their time as I do now. Perhaps because in both their cases I still had a younger child following behind to focus all my attention on.

This time I know it’s all going to be over for good. All those hugs, kisses and cuddles are going to be steadily reduced till they disappear altogether. One night before going to bed I will suddenly realize that I have not had a hug, kiss or cuddle all day long. My child has not even once run up to me crying or upset because she no longer believes that I am the only one in the world who can solve all her problems.
My dethronement from the world’s most important person status will be permanent this time.
So what am I going to do?
I am going to use all my persuasive powers and talk her out of putting away her stuff for now.
I suppose I am behaving like an ostrich, avoiding reality by dunking my head in the sand. But I can’t help it. I can't deal with this reality right now, may be I will able to do in another couple of years (or maybe in another 18 or 20 years) but not now.
Most definitely not now.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Decelarating Time

I have discovered the secret to slowing time down, something guaranteed to make it go by at a snail’s pace.
And the secret is to stop eating.
This is not a joke. The best way to slow down time is to GO ON A DIET.
I started mine about a month ago and it is still only day seven.
Believe me it works. How else would I have managed to stretch my week to over a month?
Well my diet is almost over. The best part of it was that it was only a seven day plan so today is last day of my diet.
I will leave the complex workings of the Time Universe relationship to geniuses like Stephen Hawking and like. As for myself I am going to celebrate the end of a torturous near starvation week by having a Paratha with a huge fluffy omelet for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Guess I was wrong.
Spring is here after all.
So I suppose it should be Bienvenue Spring

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bienvenue Summer

According to schedule this should have been Spring but I think Mother Nature muddled up her time table this year because it seemed to have jumped straight from Winter to Summer skipping the season of merry blossoms altogether. It seems impossible that barely few days ago I was huddled under the blanket at night and now I can not bear to be in a room with out the fans turned on.

With the advent of summer another thing is back along with the heat and that thing is none other than the arch enemy of mankind’s night time slumber, commonly referred to as the MOSQUITO.

After a particularly disturbing night I was reminded of a long ago conversation I had with a friend who lived on the 15th floor of a high rise building. Since mosquitoes have limited flight capability I had assumed, somewhat naively, that our friend’s family would be safe from their persistent nocturnal attacks.

Not so, he told me, “We suffer at their hands just at much as you guys do”

But how on earth did they reach his high floor, I had asked him.

“Same way every body else does”, he retorted in an exasperated voice, “They take the elevator to which ever floor they want to go to”

It was such a comfort to know everyone suffers the way we do.

So Coils, repellants, nets, sprays and every thing else that had been so gratefully put aside during winter months is back in action again.

What a way to welcome summer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pause and Reflect

There are invariably several moments in one’s life when one pauses to reflect upon certain things. One such moment came into mine some time ago.

I had stopped over on my way back to Pakistan from London at my Sister in Law's place in Dubai. While I was there another Brother in Law joined us from Bahrain while my father also unexpected flew in from Islamabad (both men on official trips) to complete the get-together. It was a happy reunion. Needless to say we had a wonder full time.

At tea time we were served with a cake (among various other delectable delights) brought in all the way from Pakistan and presented to my hospitable hosts by some Dubai based acquaintance of theirs who himself had arrived back from Pakistan that very day.

What should have happened was that I should have dipped my cake piece in my tea (that is how I eat my cakes …..and most biscuits) and having eaten it, thought nothing more of it. But to have done that would have been such a boring course of action. And one’s thought process is anything but simple and (thankfully) never boring.

As I dunked the end of my spongy triangle in the hot beverage, it occurred to me that all the people sitting enjoying this particular cake right now were literally thousands of miles apart at the time when it was being baked.

My self: somewhere in the departure lounge of Heathrow. My Brother in Law: busy packing in Bahrain. My father: ready to board a flight from Islamabad. Even my Sister in Law and her family, who had not traveled beyond a 20 or so mile radius from their own home during the past two days were no where near the Pakistani bakery where the cake had come from.

And did the people baking it know that one of the confectionery items among the lot they produced that day was destined to travel across the ocean in order to be presented at the table of people who had all collected at that one point from literally all over the world?
Probably not.

Suddenly that cake in my hand was no longer just another snack but something special, some thing that proved the age old phrase Daney Daney Pe Likha Hai Khaney Waley Ka Naam.
I don’t know if this was a fascinating insight or not but it certainly appeared that way to me back then.

All this musing does not mean that I did not eat my cake. On the contrary I finished my lot and probably even had some extra.
I mention it now because just like those mustard fields it is something that popped into my mind out of nowhere after all these years.
I have already mentioned an awesome sight so I thought I might as well write about a reflecting moment also.

By the way the picture on the top is not of that cake. That one is long gone and it never occurred to anyone to capture its image. This is one that my daughter baked a few months ago. I added its picture because it looked really good…..........and tasted even better

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

It was back I those days when we (my parents and me) used to come to Pakistan for our annual visit to friends and family. Since friends and family were scattered across the length and breadth of Pakistan, the trip usually consisted of one month of extensive traveling starting form one end of the country and ending at the other.
One fine morning during one of those trips as we were heading towards Mirpur and Mangla cantonment, (to visit an uncle and an army cousin who were posted there respectively) that I looked out of the window from the back seat of the car and saw mustard fields in full bloom. I watched open mouthed as acre after acre of brilliant yellow flowers sped by.
Coming form the land of sand dunes this was something I had not seen before. Besides I thought my sand dunes were pretty terrific. Any body who has witnessed the majesty of the desert will agree with me. It is a sea of shimmering, glittering gold as far as the eye can see. Sometimes the metal road on which you happen to be traveling in a desert is the only reminder of civilization, while every thing surrounding you is probably as primitive and unchanged as in the days of mother earth’s own infancy. How could anything compare with the mesmerizing effect of that?
I was wrong.
The mustard fields not only compared but topped the desert sands by a hefty margin.
Unlike the pure gold of the sand dunes this was a vibrant, joyous shade of yellow resting on a bed of emerald. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen in my life. I have seen a few since than that have stayed with me but those mustard fields were the first. If there were any before that, I was probably too young to remember them.

The mustard flowers were once again in bloom along the sides of the road when I went to Islamabad a few days ago. Though these were only a few sorry patches grown in between the wheat crop and were neither lush enough nor widespread enough as my original vision, still they reminded me of a long ago road trip when the boredom of traveling was suddenly replaced by an awesome sight that has managed to stay with me even after all these years.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This one's for Johnny; who ever he was, poor fellow

I just read something in M.M.Kaye’s Golden Afternoon that made me double up with laughter. I thought I would include it in my blog (though I seriously hope I don’t get into trouble regarding copyright issues for doing it).
Ah well, it is hilarious enough (at least I think it is) to be worth the risk.
While reminiscing about the Raj years Kaye writes about the Horse Show Week in Delhi (circa 1929, I believe) which at that time was the greatest among all the “Weeks” that were held through out India during the cold weather. Here are a couple of incidents, in Kaye’s own words, that took place at that time.

“To give an example of their unique entertainment value, there was an occasion when a friend of ours, one McCandlass (better known as ‘loopy Mac’), whose enthusiasm for riding was not matched by his skill, when competing in an owner-riders race sponsored by the business community, came tearing into view on the first lap and, to wild cheering from his supporters, a full two and a half lengths ahead of the field. Unfortunately there was a narrow side track ahead of him - possibly for the benefit of any rider who had lost a stirrup or otherwise come to grief and wished to retire from the race. But since his horse was in fact bolting, and not even faintly under control , it made straight for the side track and tore off down it - followed by the entire field, who either thought this was the correct way round, or whose horses had also got the bit between their teeth and intended to forge ahead or else….. The whole lot followed Mac’s lead, shot off the course and disappeared with the speed of diving ducks into a fairly dense patch of wooded land, which at that time bordered one side of the course. After lengthy but unknown adventures, they eventually emerged, looking exceedingly sheepish, wreathed in strands of creeper and assorted greenery and brushing twigs and bits of bark out of their hair.

There was also a more dramatic occasion when one of the amateur jockeys parted with his mount a mere yard or two from the winning post, and crashed to earth among a forest of hooves. At which point a girl rose like a rocketing pheasant from her seat in the stand, and, shrieking his name over and over again, fled down the aisle and across the grass, scrambled over the rails, and, still screaming, flung herself down on his recumbent form yelling , ‘Speak to me, Johnny! Speak to me!’ whereupon his wife broke the deathly silence that had fallen upon the stands by turning impatiently and remarking in a carrying voice: ‘Silly bitch! He’ll never forgive her for this.’ I gather she had got used to her husband’s frequent straying and come to terms with it.
You didn’t get those sort of dramas included in the price of the tickets during Ascot week or Newmarket.”

I couldn’t agree more, even though I have never been to either Ascot or Newmarket and missed the Raj years by a good quarter century or so.
But at least I can read about it and that is almost as good as being there in person.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Affair to Remember

I recently watched a movie that was being shown on one of the cable channels (or half watched it to be more precise). Since I had to run an errand somewhere in the middle of it, I missed a considerable portion before I could manage to get back and see the conclusion. The movie was called “The Thomas Crown Affair" (the remake; starring Pierce Brosnan & Rene Russo).
“What a clever way to a steal a painting and an even better way to put it back.”
That is what I recall thinking after having watched the bits and pieces of the film that I did.
Because I had missed a major chuck of the movie, I decided to get my self a DVD and see the whole of it in one go .
This unfortunately did not turn out to be one of the better decisions of my life.
The icing on top of my blunder cake was that I even told my kids that they could watch this cool robbery film with me if they liked. Fortunately my son had to study so he skipped the family movie session (Thank God) but both my daughters (including the little one who is rarely interested in any film that does not include the name Barbie or something similar in the title) decided they had nothing better to do than accompany their Mama in watching the film she had brought home.

So there I was with almost my entire brood gathered around me for collective viewing when it suddenly dawned on me that there was a reason fate had intervened making me miss the middle part of the film. And that was because it was meant to be missed.

To be honest I don’t know what the kids found funnier, the fast moving obscenity on the screen or their mother’s desperate attempts to block it from their view. I sat with my thumb literally glued to the fast forward button for more than half the duration of the film. To cut the long story short, I ended up watching exactly the same parts of the movie as I did the fist time round; the beginning and the end. The rest went past in a blur of fast moving images, (though not fast enough judging from constant eruption of giggles from two highly amused young girls).

I checked the back of the DVD afterwards to find that it was rated R (Restricted viewing) not that it would have done me any good if I had checked it before buying the damn thing. I never did have any idea what those alphabets that denote ratings ever meant .
But I most certainly do now.
I guess it serves me right for buying a film without checking out its ratings and more so for inviting my children to watch it with me with out having watched it first from beginning to end.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bachey Humarey Ehed Key Hushiar Ho Gaye

Now that we are on the subject of fairy tales, did anyone ever find any of them weird as a child? I certainly never did. They seemed like perfectly normal children’s stories to me. Full of fairies, giants, princesses, castles, dragons and witches etc. My seven year old, however, sees a lot more in them than just these things.
A few days ago I was reading Jack and the Bean Stalk to her at bedtime. Every thing was going well till I reached the part where Jack sprints off with the giant’s gold, hen and harp. At that point my daughter looked up at me and asked very solemnly,
“Isn’t Jack stealing from the giant”?
“I guess he is”. I said
“But stealing is bad, than how can jack be a good person if he commits a sin"?
My seven year old realized the injustice prevalent in the story, something I was not able to do when I was a child. Maybe I was the product of an age when things were accepted as they were without much questioning. Then again, maybe I was just plain dumb
It never occurred to me when I was a kid as to how a common thief can be the good guy in the story if he continues to go back to steal someone else’s stuff while the giant is labeled as the antagonist, when all that he is trying to do is get his things back and teach jack a lessons for pinching them in the first place. (There is another less popular version which states that every thing Jack took had belonged to his father at one time. The giant was the thief who stole from his Jack’s father so Jack was only bringing back what was rightfully his inheritance. But that is just poppycock; it does not even make sense. For instance, where would Jack’s father, a mere mortal, get his hands on a magic harp and golden egg laying hen to begin with).
This moral dilemma occurred with disturbing frequency in several of my childhood stories ranging from Jack and the Beanstalk to Puss in Boats.
What I never realized back then was that these children’s’ stories actually depicted European mentality at that time, which more or less stated that you have a right to claim as yours what ever takes your fancy and if the owners object, it is perfectly justified to kill them, subjugate them or get rid of them any other way you see fit. History is full of living examples of this. Colonies were set up all over the world based on pretty much this very principle.

Perhaps that is why I appreciate the concept of motion pictures like Shrek. So what if you are an ogre, ugly and even bad tempered. No one has the right to kill you or throw you out of your place as long as you are minding your own business and harming no one. I am glad that this is the message which is now being conveyed to children. Perhaps that is the reason they have a better understanding of the realities of life than we, their parents did as children. They are sharper, cleverer and more perceptive.
I got a hefty doze of this keen awareness of theirs when I made up a story of a boy who played computer and video games all day long; a concept that was instantly rejected by my young daughter.
“There is no way he can play all day long”. She scoffed. “He has to stop during load shedding hours”.
I did not know weather to be delighted because my child was clever enough to take note of this technical flaw in my story or be devastated because to a seven year old, load shedding had become such an integral part of every day routine that life with out it , even in make belief stories could not be accepted.
Bottom line is, you can’t fool these kids. “That is how things are” and “you just have to accept it as such” are no longer appropriate answers. Children nowadays want answers that make sense, which can satisfy their ravenous curiosity. And I am ashamed to admit that I do not have satisfactory answers to more that half the questions my kids throw my way.