Saturday, March 20, 2010
Sunday, December 20, 2009
T2F 2.0 is back!
Science Ka Adda — Salman Hameed, from Hampshire College, is here to start the days off with a new lecture on "Humans in the Cosmos: How 400 Years Of Telescopes Have Changed The Way We Look at Ourselves!" … Don't forget to see this startling talk (on December 22nd at 6.30 pm) by a brilliant young man.
Not into Science? Hmmm ... take a trip and see what you'd been missing! There's an exhibit of some of Pedro Meyer's beautiful work. And brilliant Coffee and other stuff. Books to buy … and many even to read at the studio upstairs. Music, too: It's soft and does not hurt your years. Urdu (and English) poetry, literature and more stuff to go. Coming to you soon.
Ohhh … if you are an Entrepreneur, there are seats for you, too, on a short/long term basis (just 5, though). A sponsor? A quick event? There's more … you know!
Drop in …
Friday, October 23, 2009
Never too late ... but ...
Monday, October 19, 2009
Gone too soon …
Salman Mehmood is no more. In my mind he was Little Salman Mehmood, ever since I met him at a Tweetup. His passing away once again underscores the fact that there is no Meaning of Life. But there is (and can and must always be) Meaning in Life.
"@skdev", as Salman's fellow Tweeple knew him, gave his life a lot of meaning in the very few days he was in this world and that is what, apart from his winning smile, I will remember and respect him for. Always.
With many other hearts, mine goes out to the very brave Ayesha (and I use the adjective after having witnessed it in our brief minutes together at AKUH) and to a family that has known more losses than many can bear with such dignity and calm.
Like the numerous legends through time that have been born of our desire to cope with death, these lines from McCreery often sustain me in moments of such losses:
There is no death! The stars go down
To rise upon some other shore,
And bright in heaven's jeweled crown
They shine for evermore.
If they were literally true, Salman would certainly be a bright star on some horizon. And true they are, in a sense that I subscribe to - the one that the last two lines of the poem state.
For all the boundless universe
Is Life -- there is no dead!
So, @skdev, you live!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Kaesay Kaesay Loag - Revelations (2)
Apologies for the delay ... but I did finally find the time to scan and edit things to put up and, so, as they customarily say at functions (but usually before making a long-winded introductory speech - which I've already done via the last two posts, anyway) I shan't come between you and the poet.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Kaesay Kaesay Loag - Revelations (1)
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Kaesay Kaesay Loag - The Teaser
[Are these names real? Well, only Samad's has been changed. As Vonnegut stated on the opening page of Fates Worse Than Death, "No names have been changed to protect the innocent, since God Almighty protects the innocent as a matter of Heavenly routine."]
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Reason takes a backseat again …
It would be ridiculous for me to even begin a post on this topic without requesting that you read xyz's brilliant and hilarious rant first.
"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use!" — Galileo
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Happy Independence Day?
Rather than write about my feelings (actually I feel kind of numb), I would like - once again - to share those of my friend, Naeem 'Warrior' Sadiq, the full-time working arm of the collective conscience of some of us.
I decided not to celebrate the 14th August this year, to record my personal grief, shame and solidarity with the innocent citizens of Gojra, who were killed , wounded and burnt, for belonging to the same God, but a different religion. In my room I will fly the Pakistan flag at half mast, I will put my TV off, have none of those “milli naghmey” and sing no national anthem. I am sad, ashamed and distressed. I will call up all my Christian friends to say I am deeply sorry and I apologise.Pakistan at 62: How different is it from Pakistan at 2?
I do not wish to celebrate the birthdays of a land where the Mullahs spread hate from the minarets of their mosques. Where 20,000 Muslims unite to kill a few hundred Christian men, women and children. Where the administration provides bullet-proof vehicles and multi-layer protection to its leaders but will do nothing to protect the life and property of its ordinary citizens. I am ashamed that not one person, the CM, the PM, the Governor or the President resigned from his job as an admission of failure to perform their primary duty.
There are plenty of flags, parades, speeches and ceremonies, but no real sense of guilt, remorse, or reform. The Dawn newspaper alone has 24 ‘ad’ nauseam ads, sponsored by the government departments, with the tax payers’ money, most carrying the pictures of four members of the same family. All under the garb of a “Happy Birthday to you, dear Pakistan”. The theft and plunder of peoples’ money does not pause for rest, even on the 14th day of August. Should not a state, at a minimum, protect the life and property of all its citizens, to deserve ‘a happy birthday’.
Not very much, I guess, in matters that really matter. From Leaders to Facebookers, from the Steeple to Tweeple, everyone is still asking others to do something for Pakistan, even if it is just to superficially 'go green' by changing your display picture.
In 1949, when I was almost 9 and Pakistan had just turned 2, Abi (my father, Azhar Kidvai) wrote a poem that he read out on at a small mushaaerah celebrating Independence Day. While the rest of the poem was simple and understable enough at that age, too, it was the brief section of it that contained an anecdote I found very amusing and read it often enough to have it permanently etched in mind. Listen to me reciting it for my daughter, Ragni, a few years ago.
Random thoughts that occurred as I read about the Jaswant Singh book
• As I commented on Fawad Zakariya's FB, the one conclusion that I strongly subscribe to - and have always held - is that the Muslims of the subcontinent have been the greatest losers because of the Partition of India.
• It is obvious that had Pandit Nehru and others accepted certain demands, the Quaid - with his fairly strong commitment to Hindu-Muslim Unity - would not have had any reason to press on for Pakistan.
[BTW, I have never quite understood how one can support the concept of Democracy and, then, expect a larger than democratic share in the cake.]
• Pakistan was forged out of the fears of a Muslim minority. Whether they were real, perceived, or instigated (by the Pakistan Ka Matlab Kyaa brand of sloganism that introduced religiosity into the equation) is of no consequence.
[Incidentally, this is one of the the major reason for the tragic state we find ourselves in, because those who have attained security (the Feudals, the Rich-by-any-means, the Theocracy, and others in power deceptively usurped) have no more 'fears' and, so, are no longer concerned about the needs or insecurities of the rest.]
• Much as the Two-Nation Theory may have attempted to shape them artificially, this 'nation' (and a separate State for it) were certainly not created on the basis of common aspirations - the key ingredient that defines real nations.
[Had the usually touted ingredients for nationhood - the commonality of religion, language, heritage, culture, and, preferably, geographical contiguity - been of any real consequence, there would have been one large Arab state, or, at least, an attempt to push for one.]
• Nations (the American Nation is just one example) continue to exist, despite their many diversities in these matters, as long as they more-or-less share the larger vision for a common future.
• I anxiously await a book from a Pakistani writer that re-visits Gandhiji in the same way: criticism, yes - demonization, no!
Sunday, August 02, 2009
What the hell is wrong with our people?
The Gojra killings, in which the Christian minority has been targeted, are not an isolated incident. The fascistic attitude of several religious groups has become a scar on the face of Pakistan and, if not checked, will disfigure it beyond recognition.
Friday, May 29, 2009
For Maleeha Azeem
Friday, May 08, 2009
Arundhati Roy drops in …
She was scheduled to deliver the Eqbal Ahmad Memorial Lecture in Lahore, along with Eqbal's close friend, Noam Chomsky. The event got postponed because of some reason or the other and AR decided, on a day's notice, when requested by Women's Action Forum, to utilize her visa and fly over to take part in WAF's event at the Karachi Press Club: Women Reclaiming Public Spaces.
PS: 8th May was also our 39th Wedding Anniversary - so we couldn't have asked for a better gift!
Sunday, May 03, 2009
A Tale of Two Anthems
Aé sarzameené paakZarray teray haéñ aaj sitaaroñ se taabnaakRoshan haé kehkashaañ se kaheeñ aaj tayree khaakAé sarzameené paak
اے سرزمینِ پاكذرّے ترے ہیں آج ستاروں سے تابناكروشن ہے كہكشاں سے كہیں آج تیری خاكاے سرزمینِ پاك
O' pure land,your every particle is more luminous than the stars.Your dust is brighter than the Milky Way.O' Pure Land
These are the only lines I can recall from Pakistan's FIRST National Anthem. It was written by the then Lahore-based poet, Jagannath Azad, in response to the Quaid's wish that our Anthem be written by a non-Muslim to underscore the vision of a secular Pakistan. The current Anthem (which includes the phrase Saayaé Khüdaaé Züljalaal that, now, apparently bristles some) was adopted just a few years later.
Can anyone help dig up the rest of the original?
While on the subject of the Anthem, people around my age may remember its majestic sound from the days of our youth. The richness of the band due so much, I guess, to the sounds of the instruments of that time - as well as the chorus version - has long disappeared, to be replaced by a relatively uninspiring re-recorded sound that leaves me cold.
Thanks to our finest composer-arranger-musician Arshad Mahmood's direction, and a brilliant recreation by the children of Karachi High School, you can download and hear that majesty again in this recording.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Laugh a while ... there may be a lot to cry about soon!
1. Each time I hear one of our boozing, womanizing, murderous, hypocritical leaders speak of Islam I am reminded of Dilawar Figar:
Agarcheh poora Musalmaan to naheeñ laykin
Maeñ Apnay deen se rishtah to jo∂ saktaa hooñ
Namaaz-o-Rozah-Hajj-o-Zakaat küchh nah sahee
Shabé Baraat pataakhah to chho∂ saktaa hooñ
2. Alexandre Dumas provided the perfect reason for voting PPP or MQM (or even, horror of horrors, JI and JUI) instead of Imran Khan &c or Nawaz Sharif &c when he said, "Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because they sometimes take a rest."
3. T2F's ex-Landlord is, like many of my friends, a mohaajir Pathan from the UP, so I've been wondering if the current situation in Karachi demands that he shoot himself!
4. I close with another Dilawar Figar gem of which I was reminded by the recent arrest of 'miscreants':
Iss khabar par to naheeñ müjh ko ta'ajjüb, Ae Figar:
Ayk ghündah halqaé Lahore mayñ pak∂aa gayaa.
Haañ, agar tho∂ee si haerat haé, to voh iss baat par:
Kaésa ghündah thaa ke jo iss daur mayñ pak∂aa gayaa?
Thursday, April 23, 2009
On the Taliboom's Pro-Love Marriage Stance
Swat Taliban promote ‘love marriages’
(The News, April 19, 2009) - via Adil Najam's ATP
The Taliban of Swat have set up a bureau named ‘Shuba-e-Aroosat’ for arranging love marriages of couples who are denied the marriage of choice by their families for one reason or the other, reports BBC Urdu Service. Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the marriage bureau headed by Taliban Commander Abu Ammad arranged 11 ‘love marriages’ in the last nine days while 300 girls and boys are waiting for their turn. “The love marriage aspirants contact the bureau on a fixed telephone number. The Taliban collect their particulars and then contact their familites to arrange these choice marriages,” he said, adding that Islam allows every adult to get marry according to his/her own choice. He said, “Most of the girls, or their families, who contacted us wish to marry ‘militant’ Taliban.” Analysts say the Taliban are paving the way for themselves to marry the girls of their choice. It is really strange that they flog the couples on one hand for moving together while on the other hand allow young couples to marry according to their choice. Also the question arises how is it possible for a boy or girl to propose while they have not seen each other, reports BBC Urdu Service.Whoaaa!
Haé zann hee pasé pardah, faqat lab peh Khüdaa hae
Talib haeñ yeh kiss cheez ke, yeh aaj khülaa haé
Inn par na hañso tüm, keh bohat yeh bhi haé yaaro
Sad shükr koee aaj sooé-zann* to huaa haé
* Since the punning is aural, I decided to leave it in the romanized style.
Note: It's never fun trying to explain jokes, but when one is part of a nation so unfamiliar with it's National Language that one needs to ask before making a presentation or taking a class whether they understand it, I guess one should.
The last class I interacted with 3 days ago - Class VIII students mainly from mid-income families - unanimously said they'd rather I spoke in English. And this in Karachi, the home of the 'muhaajir'. Haah!
I did get the same reaction in Lahore, but only at a very elite rich-brat school (mainly from its richer, brattier teachers!) although I think Aitchison and LUMS would not have reacted this way, for I find that their students speak Urdu reasonably well (or, at least, frequently).Hence, here's a somewhat justifiiable - rather than presumptuous - effort at an Urdu Lesson :-) for those wishing to understand the 'double-pun'. Here are the 4 components:
soo' (seen | vaao | hamzah) = kharaabi / evil
zann (zoé | noon) = gümaan / conjecture
⁂ سوِٰظَن sooé zann = the evil of conjecture
soo (seen vaao) = taraf / direction
zann (zay noon) = aurat / woman
⁂ سوٰے زَن sooé zann = towards women
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Iqbal Bano: You will be greatly missed!
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The Shanaakht Fiasco
The incident at CAP's Shanakht Festival yesterday should convince people that all 17 crore hearts do not beat as one all the time. Oh, of course they do, sometimes. But NOT when an identity is being forced, instead of being allowed to develop.
We have seen 'photoons' - photo cartoons - of her being married to Nawaz and Altaf on the net before. I did not take offense to them because they were satirical comments on real alliances. After all, even the textual statements in the press referred to these, at times, as 'marriages of convenience' or 'an unholy political matrimony'. The images only carried the representation further. I admit that I, too, on hearing that JI chief Qazi Husain Ahmad had tried to prevent Mian Nawaz Sharif from forming an alliance with BB, had passed around (among friends) a photoshopped image of the two newlyweds - with Husain Ahmad looking sullen - and captioned it Jab Mian-BB raazi to kyaa karay ga Qazi.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
A treat for Karachiites & visitors
Once in a while they have been known to include qavvaalis popularized by some of their well-known peers, although this happens only when the audience requests it - which is, thankfully, rare. C'mon, concert attendees … you've come to hear what these guys do best, so listen to their specialities. (In any case, how can one listen to a Sabri cover, however well sung, without Ghulam Farid's booming "Alllaaaaaah", or watch it without the silent qavvaali bit that only he could get away with by accompanying it with a twinkle in his eyes and a mischievous smile?)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The past IS another country!
Adil Najam & Owais Mughal never cease to amaze me for the sheer range of topics they manage to cover at any given time. It really is All Things Pakistan! I am truly delighted to see Politically Incorrect or a Funny Ad? featured immediately after Iftikhar Chaudhry Reinstated: What Now?
Since the CJ is being written about everywhere, I don't think I could add much to it, other than this: I'll be impressed by the 'true independence' of the judiciary when the reinstated CJ feels neither pressured by a khisiana president nor by the Sharifs' demand for returning favours and does not reverse the judicial order against them, if he genuinely feels that upholding it would be right.
Now to the ad and ATP post that prompted me to write. (Actually, this was also a form of of procrastination, given the pile of work that lies before me.) But do visit the ATP post first. Done? Ok.
After the flood of 'Fair & Lovely' - from its very name to all its implications and the horrifying ads - nothing seems politically incorrect. (Although political correctness, itself, often goes ridiculously far: Dwarfs are 'vertically challenged'? Gimme a break!!!)
I have mentioned this in some other post, but it's worth repeating: Fair & Lovely lists Pakistan's Armed Forces as its largest purchaser! Does the enemy have any chance after that?My tangential objection, however, is to the Urdu[?]: Gharayloo-o-Office? Even a pageful of 'aaarghs' wouldn't express what I feel.
'Vaao' for 'and', as we dying purists will hold, should - strictly speaking - be used only to connect two Urdu words (generally, though not always, nouns) that are of Persian or Arabic origin. Vahm-o-Gumaañ and Saum-o-Salaat are fine. Chaabi-o-Taala is a no-no!
This applies to not just Hindi examples, like the one above, but also to words and phrases from other languages that have gained acceptability in Urdu: Computer-o-Monitor? Nopes! No English. Just Faarsi-o-Arabi. Which is not the same as Persian-o-Arabic! However, Gharayloo-o-Office sinks the misuse to a really low depth. It even sounds horrible!
I know, I know. Some of you are saying 'language changes' and this old man is clinging to a past with no sensible reason. Ok. So maybe it is a personal quirk. But, then, this is a personal blog. (Owais/Adil, this is why I did not comment on ATP).
Perhaps I represent a generation that still clings to some of what we thought were the niceties of the past. I am reminded of 3 Urdu lines that I always recall with delight. They'll also serve to better show you where - as they'd say in the changed language of today - 'I am coming from'. All 3 examples are quoted from memory, so they are not verbatim. All refer to the period immediately after 1947:
The first is from the famous Khwaja Mueenuddin play Laal Qilay Say Lalukhet Tak. The young hero informs his father "baagh mayñ kavvay chahchahaa rahay haeñ". The shocked Nawab saahab says, indignantly, "Chahchahaa rahay haeñ? Jab maeñ mar jaaooñ ga to 'peehooñ peehooñ' karayñ gay?"
The second is from the inimitable pen of Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi. Describing his horror after a visit to a singing girl in Karachi's Napier Road, once this city's only 'red-light' district (ab to har mo∂ par chiraaghaañ hae!), a character in his book says: "Üss kambakht ka talaffüz to üss kay kirdaar say bhi ziaadah kharaab niklaa!"
The third, perhaps less remembered, has a particular reference to Karachi's street Urdu, influenced, as it then was, by Bombay-vaalaas and the Gujratis. Majeed Lahori, who edited Namakdaan and gave us such wonderful characters as Ramzani (the Everyman), proverbial seths Tube Jee & Tyre Jee (a reference to Tayyab Ji & Taahir Ji), and Fraudsons (representing business groups that had sprung up overnight), was also a prolific humourous poet. His collection, Kaané Namak, desperately needs a re-printing. This couplet is part of one of his more popular ghazals:
Paan mayñ choona jaastee maaroKitnee sheereeñ zabaan haé, pyaaray
Monday, February 23, 2009
We Interrupt This Blog For Some Breaking News ...
Friday, February 20, 2009
Hey folks. Sorry for the disappearance ...
... assuming you missed me at all.
Ups. Downs. Events. Crises. The usual fortnight: SNAFU! (If you are too young to know what that stands for, go look the abbreviation up. Err ... not if you are too, too young, though. In which case you shouldn't even be on my blog.)
Through all this, several posts have been brewing, too. Some are still in my mind, some on my trusty old MacBook Pro. But there just hasn't been time.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Thank you, T2F supporters ...
You have been marvelous in your messages of love and affection and support. It's overwhelming to hear people talk about what T2F has, in less than 2 years, come to mean to so many.
Hitting the ground running ...
Please pass on the url of this post to your friends - Zak
A direct message from Sabeen Mahmud=========================
17th January 2009
Dear PeaceNiche and T2F Community,
612 days ago T2F opened its doors to you. Our vision was lofty, and frankly, a bit mad. Who would walk up to the second floor of an office building on Khayaban-e-Ittehad to listen to a poet rambling on about revolution, or a scientist arguing in favour of evolution, or some kids playing drums? Well, as it turns out, thousands of people ...
In these 612 days minus Mondays, our tiny space has hosted over 150 events featuring thought leaders, artists, poets, musicians, scientists, magicians, writers, philosophers, dancers, actors, lawyers, and activists. Hundreds of you have written in to tell us how much T2F means to you and to the city of Karachi. Every e-mail, snail mail, text message, and Facebook Wall post that you have sent has given us the strength to carry on. Many of you have supported us through your donations and even helped us replace our stolen Mac. We can't thank you enough.
By now you are probably thinking that we're closing down and that this is a goodbye note. No such luck :D But there is some critical news that we need to share with you.
We called our landlord the day-before-yesterday, to ask him when he was going to get the lift fixed. He was non-committal and then said he wanted us to vacate the premises. The initial shock was soon replaced by calm determination and optimism.
At yesterday's literary event, we broke the news. Practically everyone came forward to express solidarity and support. Some of you graciously volunteered your offices, houses, gardens, and basements for us to conduct our events till we find our own space. And one of you, a volunteer/student/journalist, kick-started the donation drive with a contribution of Rs. 5,000. Thank you Batool.
So, here's the plan:
We plan to vacate the current premises by early February 2009. We have already been offered several temporary spaces to conduct our events until such time that we find a permanent venue. We would like to move to a new space - a home we can call our own - as soon as possible. It's going to be tough and we can't do it alone. We simply don't have the funds. As you know, PeaceNiche is a non-profit organization and we have meagre funding. We are reaching out to you to help us in any way that you can. We will be writing to you again with specific requirements, but in the meanwhile, please spread the word about our need for a permanent, rent-free space so that we can get up and running without losing momentum.
Over the next few days, please come to T2F as often as possible - we'll recreate the magic wherever we go but this is where it all started. Thank you Karachi for believing in us.
PeaceNiche / The Second Floor
Phone: (92-300) 823-0276
http://www.peaceniche.org | http://www.t2f.biz
The Second Floor (T2F) is a project of PeaceNiche, a not-for-profit NGO committed to becoming a vibrant centre of Pakistan’s developing civil society. T2F is a community platform for open dialogue and features a coffeehouse, bookshop, and exhibition gallery.
Sunday Update: Dawn Metropolitan carried this piece today. Thanks a million, Bina.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
At the Dentist
OK ... so this woman walks in and from about five feet away stares hard at me and says in a really lovey tone, "When did you get this shirt?" ... then takes another step forward while pulling out her glasses (perhaps to examine my clothing at a closer range) and then suddenly stops and steps back and says "Shit. I thought you were someone else!"
This is for her: