Happy Birthday Zehra

When I am weak and need strength; when I feel lost and need a guide; when I am confused and need to find some sense in life; when I am scared and want reassurance; when I am alone and need company; when I am sad and need to smile; when I am about give up and need encouragement; when I am close to falling and need support; even when I am having a great day and need nothing more than a partner to share it with; in all these times I find you and it is always enough.

Happy Birthday Zehra! My strength, my guide, my sense in life, my reassurance, my company, my smile, my encouragement, my support, my partner! May you live a long and blessed life.

Ten Things about Pain

1. When life does not give me what I want, the fault might not lie with life, but with my expectations.

2. When I want something badly and do not get it, God invariably compensates for it by giving me something else, usually much better. I just have to make sure that my disappointment does not prevent me from noticing that.

3. Sometimes, when I got what I wanted, I realized that it was not as big a deal as I imagined it to be and the euphoria of success died away too soon. Mostly, the effort and the anxiety are way more enjoyable than the actual success.

4. What I got (or didn’t get) are things of the past. What I am and can be are things that drive me forward.

5. Ignoring or suppressing the pain does not help. It is okay to cry and get it out of your system. Sometimes all a pain requires from you is acknowledgement.

6. Convincing myself that nothing bad would ever happen is futile. Becoming the person who can transform any tragedy into an opportunity is much more fun.

7. When my brain tells me that I just cannot go on, I just need to tell my brain that I can. The brain gets tired and just needs a little rest, I need to empty it of all fears and thoughts and then fill it with what I want.

8. Courage does not mean that I don’t feel pain; it means that I don’t let it hamper my progress.

9. Failure to feel any pain is not valor; it is numbness and could signal a mental or physical malfunction.

10. Life is sometimes like a video game. When it gets hard, it just means that you have played well and have reached a higher level.

Things I learned from my mother

Depending on the kind of hand life deals us, we spend our lives fighting for survival, striving to make it big, trying to achieve something the world will remember us for etc. But if we just take a moment out of this mad race and reflect, maybe we will realize that this is not the only path available to us. There is a higher and apparently much easier option once we put our minds to it. Looking at my mother’s life, who lived an ordinary life in the most extraordinary manner, I have learnt that maybe all you need is the capacity to

1. Smile and laugh under all circumstances because no matter what problems lie before you, there are always more blessings than troubles. You just need to notice them once in a while.

2. Cry when you feel like without any inhibitions, especially before God. If He didn’t like people crying, he would not have created this emotion in the first place. Let it go when it becomes too much to bear, it’ll relax you and give you the strength to start afresh.

3. Provide a shoulder when someone else needs to cry. Some people just cannot make sense of things by themselves and they don’t need advice or lectures. All they require is an ear that is listening and a shoulder that doesn’t judge.

4. Always be there for others, whether it is an occasion for celebration or mourning or anything that is important to them. Don’t let your presence be a favor to them; be there as if it is their right. Let them trust you. That way, you are helping them even when you are away from them. Just the feeling that one can rely on someone makes problems less scary.

5. Never lose hope however big the troubles seem. Problems are never too big; it’s the person facing them who is sometimes too small.

6. Love everyone from the heart. Don’t just pretend. Love begets love and it makes life so much easier and fun.

7. Always be ready to listen. Take interest in the stuff being said just because it is important to the person who is talking.

8. Never complain. When someone treats you badly, treat him great in return. It may or may not make him realize his error but it will surely make you the greater person.

9. Be frank with God. He doesn’t mind crying or complaining or anything of the sort. Ask only Him for whatever you want. As for the rest of the world, don’t ask, just give.

10. Make sure that you are the source of good for everyone that comes to you. You will not succeed in pleasing everyone, but any enmity or displeasure would be because of misperceptions on the others’ part. You will sleep soundly at night and have no fears whatsoever.

Sounds easier said than done? Of course it is. But it does make more sense than to keep on trying to get richer and higher on the social food chain. And Amma made it look easy.

Don’t tell me it never happened…


1. You stared at a digital watch continuously in the last minute of the hour to catch the moment when all numbers changed at once?

2. You tried to control your pee and succeeded for hours, only to fail seconds before you got your pants off?

3. The cop signaled to the car behind you or right in front of you to stop and your heart sank, even though you weren’t doing anything wrong?

4. Your wife or parents or someone called and asked where you were, and you spontaneously lied, without any reason at all?

5. You met someone and couldn’t remember his/her name and kept making lame efforts to get him to tell it, like ‘how do you spell your name?’

6. You nodded your head when asked if you knew about something even when you had no idea what it was?

7. You told a story claiming it happened to someone you know, when actually you had just heard it from someone who claimed it had happened to someone he/she knew?

8. You laughed at a joke or a witty remark hiding the fact that you did not get it?

9. You did not recognize the voice on the phone but pretended that you did, all the while trying to recall the name?

10. You pressed ‘like’ on a status not because you liked it, but because you wanted people to see that you liked such stuff?

Pakistan Idol

What if it was somehow possible for Bushra Ansaari, Ali Azmat and Hadiqa Kayani to audition for Pakistan Idol in front of the same three judges? Would they have been selected? I think not.

It would be fun to imagine what the reactions of the judges might have been if Ali Azmat had come and sang Pappu Yaar in front of them. Initially the three judges would have made those wide-eyed faces showing that they were having trouble believing what this guy was singing. And then they might have said this,

Bushra Ansari: Hai, kitni mushkil mein tha ye bacchha. Aap ko bohat log tang kartey hain lagta hai. Allah aap ko sehat de. Aur iss ka hairstyle to dekho. Iss tarah ke tainday ke saath to Pappu yaar tang karey ga na!

Ali Azmat: Mera khayal hai aap khud apney aap ko ziada tang kar rahey thay. Aap ki body movements aur shaklain daikh ke to mein darr gaya. Beta ye gaana aap ke liye nahi. Saaf nazar aa raha hai ke iss se aap ko bohat takleef hoti hai.

Hadiqa: Oonchay notes mein ja ke aap ki awaaz badal see jati hai. Aur mujhay star quality nazar nahi aayee. Aap bas apni Ammi ke saamney gaya karein. Balkey wo bhee na he gaya karein.

After listening to Hadiqa sing

Bushra: Style hai bacchi ka! Gaana waana to nahi aata lekin style poora hai. Aap modeling mein behtar chal sakti ho.

Ali Azmat: Aap ko bohat mehnat ki zaroorat hai. Moonh ziada khul jaata hai lekin sur koi nahi nikalta. Meri taraf se to No.

Hadiqa: I like your personality. But ye singing competition hai. Aap ko bohat mehnat ki zaroorat hai.

On Bushra Ansari

Bushra: Kitni cute hai ye. Itni pyaari. Gaana bas theek hai, par bohat he cute larki hai. Kya adayein hain.

Ali: Aap ki apni awaaz, aap ka apna style nazar nahi aa raha. You seem to be copying others. Apni koi shanakht nahi hai.

Hadiqa: I like your smile but aap ko bohat grooming chahiye. I don’t think you are suited for Pakistan Idol.

“Though I didn’t give much importance to your criticism bachhay, I think a little dose of truth won’t hurt here. The concept of not hurting someone’s feelings has been misused too much. I don’t lie just to save someone’s feelings from being hurt. If a person asks me whether I like him or not, I’ll tell him the truth. Remember! Your words and actions are like tools. Don’t hit someone in the face with your hammer. Bit if someone keeps hitting his face on your hammer, don’t give it much thought. In fact you might be perfectly justified in laughing at him.” Shuntoo

Bring it on…2014

As the sun set for the last time in 2013, I decided to look back at the kind of year I had.

1. I began in high spirits. JANUARY saw me planning to form a new company with some of my friends. I was excited at the prospect but also a little anxious. I didn’t know if it was a good idea and wasn’t sure what the future held. I was nervous.

2. FEBRUARY cured all my tensions, anxieties and fears about the company; just like that. My health deteriorated and I was advised complete bed rest by the doctors. All my previous problems vanished along with all my previous plans. But obviously this had its negatives. I did not know what to do, and had no idea how or when I would be able to get up again.

3. In MARCH this problem was gone as well. I was not as confused as I had been. The doctors told me that I was not getting up any time soon. The certainty was great. Now, I knew where I stood and I could plan the future fairly certain that I was going to stay in bed for quite a while. But obviously this was not enough. I still had the problem of what to do. I knew I wasn’t getting up soon but I wanted to know how or when I could get up.

4. APRIL solved that problem. I was told that I needed to get surgery and only then would I be able to sit again. The clarity was wonderful. However there was a downside. I hate surgeries especially when I am the one being operated on. And I was scared.

5. MAY took care of the fear. When I decided that the surgery was not possible in Pakistan, I had the much bigger problem of how to arrange my surgery in UK. The amount of money required was huge and I had no way to arrange it. And then there were all kinds of other issues. So my fear of surgery was forgotten. Obviously it was replaced with other, bigger concerns; most of all, where to get the money from.

6. JUNE brought with it all the money I needed, and that too from a source I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. My problems were solved. But there was a downside. Now I had the problem of arranging my trip. And that was a task that looked huge at that time.

7. JULY reduced the enormity of the task as one after another of the issues kept getting resolved. And by the end of the month, I was ready to fly. Now my mind was struck with anxiety again. I wondered how hard it would be in the UK.

8. AUGUST saw me land in the UK and I had the time of my life. The hospital was great, the staff and doctors thoroughly professional, and spending all day in the midst of pretty goris was not the worst of it. However, there still was the issue of the surgery and my old fears and anxieties of March were back.

9. SEPTEMBER put an end to all the anxiety again as the doctors told me that I would not need surgery after all. That I would be back to my healthy self soon. I was excited. I even started writing a novel. The concern now was that my stay was being prolonged and some new complications were raising their ugly heads. With time, money and patience running out, I did not like the situation.

10. OCTOBER resolved the issue as I finished my novel and flew back to Pakistan feeling better than I had felt all year. I was allowed to sit for a few hours a day and then see how things went. I was positive about my chances but still a little scared about how soon I would be back to sitting for as long as I wanted.

11. NOVEMBER was great. My sitting time kept getting longer and longer until I was almost back to where I was in January. I felt a deep satisfaction. And my old concerns were back now. What to do with my life? Should I start thinking about the company again? Or try to get my book published? Or something else? It was taxing on the mind.

12. DECEMBER proved up to the task as all the other months had. It erased all the concerns of the previous month. My health deteriorated again and now I am again on bed. Complete bed rest and I have no idea how or when I would get up. But I am not bothered. I know there is JANUARY just around the corner.

2013 has taught me that there are always troubles but they are always resolved and then always replaced by new troubles which are in turn resolved and replaced by still new ones. That’s life. It’s how you handle the troubles and what you achieve despite them that counts. I can’t wait for 2014 and what it will bring. Bring it on!