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.