The Pakistan I LOVE, The Pakistan I abhor

It is one of history’s ironies that a people who share so much, refuse to acknowledge their similarities and focus so avidly on their differences. I have a ‘split personality’ when it comes to Pakistan. It is a failed nation with a savage society that swears by archaic ‘values’ and it seems people have compromised with the situation now. I abhor Pakistan for concentrating more on destabilizing India than stabilizing itself. I abhor the way Pakistan has injured itself over the years. I abhor the way some of it’s leaders have this dream of conquering neighboring nation(s). But there is something about this banana republic that I love. There is a Pakistan I adore. There is a Pakistan I value. Pakistan has been my fairy tale land.

Way back in 1947 my paternal & maternal grandparents migrated to India because of the partition and started a new life here. While we ( me and my cousins) were growing, apart from the usual dadi-nani ki kahaaniyan; stories from Pakistan always fascinated us. I remember sitting with my dadaji for hours and listening to his experiences in Pakistan. I want to sit in the ‘aangan’ of the ‘kothi’ where once my grand mother was born. I want to visit the narrow and dusty  lanes of Multan where once she played. I want to go down the barren, sandy and arid tracts of Dera Ismail Khan, the land where my grand father was born. How can I not love Pakistan where my grand parents were born; where they grew up and spent their childhood!  And even today we speak MULTANI/SARAIKI at our home. It is my mother tongue 🙂 Multanis : Punjabis, but not quite Punjabi

Pakistan’s blistering borders are a cultural treasure trove. The Punjabi culture across the border is beautiful, secular and enduring. I love Pakistan for giving us some of the greatest Sufi poets, singers and writers who have reached a crescendo crossing all borders and hierarchies, whether between classical and folk and spiritual music, or between Urdu and Brajbhasha, or between faiths. Bulley Shah, Warris Shah, Sadat Hasan Manto, Faiz Ahmed Faiz are people who have left behind a rich cultural legacy and I so envy Pakistan for this. Waris Shah is my Shakespeare who immortalized the Heer-Ranjha saga, the immortal epic of doomed love. Over a period of time a  body of literature unique to Pakistan has emerged in nearly all major Pakistani languages .Talking about music; Punjabi folk music has such rich mines of gold that its luster can never be scraped by time. Nusrat Fathey Ali Khan , Abida Parveen, Tina Sani; with their soulful strains take us into the depths of Sufism and evoke passion, love and most of all spirituality.  How can I not love Pakistan? But at the same time I abhor Pakistan for losing out on this legacy to the hands of Taliban and neo-Islamist outfits.

I love Pakistan for the rich cultural and physical diversity spanning through the four large provinces; from Sindh to Punjab and from Khyber Pakhtunwala to  Balochistan.From the mighty stretches of the Karakorams in the North to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus where the world’s oldest & highly developed civilization – Indus Valley civilization once flourished . And today it can be found in the ruins of Moenjodaro and Harappa which are considered as one of most spectacular ancient cities of the world. It is Pakistan where archeological remains found in Taxila, Peshawar, Charsadda, Takht Bahi, Swat and rock carvings along the ancient Silk Road give the evidences of the history of  Gandhara. The Gandhara region was the hallowed center of Budhism and had once been the cradle of the world famous Gandhara art, culture and knowledge.  As a history lover how can I not love Pakistan? Pakistan has so much to offer. The region that is today known as Pakistan once had a large Buddhist population, but today hardly any Buddhists live there and I abhor Pakistan for this. It has failed to protect its own heritage.

Pakistan’s Punjabi culture, history and literature have an alluding aura which transcends beyond politics, beyond war-mongering and stuttering conflicts. Something beyond the border. Let us lower the walls so that the conversation continues!! People cross seven seas and go to London, Paris, New York etc. but I just want to cross one border. And I hope I make a visit to this beautiful country before I die. Mujhe to bas sarhad-paar jaana hai!!

I end this blog post by quoting my favorite lines written by Faiz

अब क्यूँ उस दिन की फ़िक्र करो,
जब दिल टुकड़े टुकड़े हो जाएगा
और  सारे गम  मिट जाएँगे,
तुम ख़ौफ़ ओ खतर से देर गुज़र करो,
जो होना है सो होना है ,
हसना है तो हसना है,
अगर रोना है तो रोना हे,
तुम अपनी करनी कर गुज़रो,
जो होगा देखा जाएगा.
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TERRORISM & RELIGION!!

A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.

It was September 11, 2001 when I first came across the word ‘terrorism’ or ‘terrorists’ and the word made its way into my mind’s dictionary. 9 years have gone and now terrorism is such a big problem that even if you ask a 6-year-old about it he/she will probably know the meaning.  And according to  me  it’s undoubtedly the biggest threat to the mankind right now.

“Terrorists have no religion” This is one phrase which has been used for infinite number of times now and has actually become a clichéd. But still, I absolutely believe in it and I hope that there will be a day when people will stop weighing Terrorism and Religion on the same balance!

I am 22 and though I am not an expert in religious studies and through this post  I am not discussing what religion teaches or orders because as far as my knowledge goes I think no religion in this world believes in violence.  And though I might sound dramatic when I say this but essentially we all are humans at the end of the day and what should matter is just humanity! Now,  as far as I remember, this inter mixing of religion with terrorism started off from the west and one religion that came under scanner was ISLAM and innocent Muslims became the victims of someone else’s deeds.

I haven’t read the Quran and I certainly don’t know much about Islam but still I am 100% sure that what is said about Islam and interpreted about it is absolutely untrue.  And I was shocked to know that how many of my friends (whom I considered uber cool & smart) hated Muslims. It’s certainly not about being ‘narrow minded’ or ‘broad minded’ because you have all sorts of people from all walks of life having a set notion towards Islam that it’s bad.

And now with the recent developments in the Mecca Masjid  & Ajmer Blast case we have a new term coined by the police ‘HINDU TERROR’!  And let me be honest here that though I am advocating the cause that Terrorists have no religion but I did feel bad, in fact really bad when I heard it. I could feel what a normal and average Muslim would have been going through all these years when people made the claims that “All Terrorists are Muslims”!

But this is just one side of the coin because merely by saying that terrorists have no religion things don’t get that simple. Because the situation is not always hunky dory.  The fact is if you catch a Ajmal Kasab or Afzal Guru  they remain a Muslim. Similarly if Sadhvi Pragya or Abhinav Barat come under scanner they remain a Hindu. But the larger question here is that are all Muslims or all Hindus terrorists? Or Is it right to link religion to terrorism? These questions need some serious answers.

Howsoever good we might be and howsoever mature we might act but the fact is you can’t take the name away from a terrorist. And I beg to differ with Shakespeare here when he said “What lies in a name”! When it comes to terrorism much lies in the name. Fine, religion doesn’t teach all this but at the end I can bet that if a certain X,Y or Z is termed a terrorist people notice the religion and it is something which I believe will never change!

The only thing we need to understand is that few people who do all these heinous crimes do not represent their religious community at all. And it’s unfortunate when people start judging a religion and its followers on this. This attitude and this thinking need to change! But at the same time what I know is that religion cannot be taken out of terrorism. What originated as a concept from the West is now accepted everywhere. Need of the hour is that we should know where to draw a line!!

As I end this post I do hope that religion and terrorism are not seen in the same light anymore but let me end it on a pragmatic thought which says that terrorism will always haunt religion because now our minds work on this and I am sorry to say but I don’t see the things improving in near future. Muslims live with it and Hindus will now start living with it!! Don’t know if any other religion is on target!

Read these beautiful lines while I was searching the net so I leave you all with it:

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.

Fair & Lovely…!! Are we being UN’FAIR’?

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams! – Ashley smith

When I say the word ‘beautiful’ the first thing that comes to our mind is something which is appealing and physically attractive. Even the dictionary ‘Thesaurus’ states the same. But here I would like to go with an age-old saying that “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”. I absolutely agree with it as different people have different outlook towards beauty.

But when I talk about our country INDIA and the general society; of which we all are a part of, the definition of beautiful is “Fair”. And this is where my concern starts.

I would like to share my thoughts on Indian’s Obsession with FAIRNESS!!! INDIA- The land where Mahatma Gandhi was born and who apart from getting us all Independence from the British, fought a battle against the racial discrimination prevailing at that time. We respect him and his ideals but still we ourselves are trapped in this colour game and the large market for “Fairness Creams” is a proof.

I get frustrated when I see these commercials because they change the whole meaning of an average  Indian girl! I mean do girls really want to look fair? Is it an obligation in our society? “TUM HAUNSLA DE DO” this is what is repeated during the whole advertisement. Hello…. Where are we living? Are we those big fools who take them literally and buy them? And the reports say that many metro cities have a big market for these creams. This clearly shows it’s not a matter of being literate or being a metro-city dweller and we certainly can’t blame the company for making such products or TVC’S because this is a case of simple Economics– “Demand & Supply”.

And the demand is so much that we have a “Mard Wali” Fairness Cream? Though I absolutely love SRK but I was disappointed when I saw him endorsing the same. And now John Abraham & Shahid Kapoor joins the list. They should learn from Aishwarya Rai who refused to endorse the fairness cream range from L’Oreal.

The larger question is where are we heading to? Isn’t all this a serious type of RACISM? What do we want to prove that people with a dark complexion are low on confidence and are big failures in life? Come on this is bull shit! We are tensed about the racial attacks in Australia but I think we need to clean the mess here in our own country also. And I have some really sickening examples to prove this.

“Hum kale hain to kya hua dilwale hain”, “Jiski biwi gori uska bhi bada naam hai” , Ek garam chai ki pyali ho.. chahe “GORI ho ya KALI ho!! WTF?? These are some of the songs from our movies which show us the importance of being ‘FAIR’ or the ‘disadvantage’ of being dark..eh..!!. Then we have serials also which show the dark-complexioned girls facing all the troubles in getting married. They feel dejected, miserable, pitiable and what not! When will all this stop? I am saturated now!! I pray to Lord Krishna that please knock some sense into people who give your example to convince those who are dark-skinned that “Krishna ji bhi to kale the” Ugh!!

I know it’s clichéd but it’s a FACT! It’s all about inner beauty.. I would like to end this post by quoting few lines:

“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”

Let’s get up and take a pledge that we’ll stop this petty act if we do and let’s hope that INDIA becomes a land where Fair is not always Lovely!!!

Wo’MEN’ is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity.

Woman must not accept; she must challenge.
She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her;
she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.

~ Margaret Sanger ~

Of late there has been a lot happening in the country. We have had a controversial IPL  season 3, Sania getting married to Shoaib and media going mad over it, Tharoor one of the most decent ‘neta’ resigning, RTI Act, Women Reservation Bill, Jessica Lal getting justice after 11 years, Dantewada massacre which took away 76 CRPF Jawans and much more. But through this post I discuss something which has been bothering me from a long time.

When the news of Sania marrying Shoaib broke there were so many questions that came up but one question that was asked to Sania by every reporter and which was on everyone’s lips was ” Will you continue to play for India? OR Which team will you cheer for from now onwards?” Nobody even ‘cared’ to ask the same question to Shoaib!

Now, I was wondering why the hell people are after poor Sania? And trust me, the answer was very simple “Because She is WOMAN’! Even citing this reason makes me feel so outmoded but at the end this is reality. We are living in the 21st century where India is progressing by leaps & bounds but when it comes to women, I feel sorry as a ‘man’ because the way we treat them is atrocious.

What kind of society is our’s where a woman is answerable to the whole world but a man is not?  Why every time women are made the scape goat and why do men escape as smart ‘asses’?? The problems women face are huge and I really don’t think I can do any justice to their severity and through this post I discuss some of the things which disturb me!

I recently read somewhere that the Pakistani Media is calling Sania Mirza – ‘Malik’ now. Now it has nothing to with Pakistan but it just makes me wonder why the hell women have to change their surname/last name after marriage? I mean WTF is this and who the hell came up with this concept? Why can’t men change their surname OR Why can’t be there no changing business at all? I really don’t know how women adjust with it. At least I feel it should be women’s call only. And though I don’t support the trend of using ‘two’ surname’s also viz. “Aishwarya Rai Bachchan”, “Shilpa Shetty Kundra”! Can’t they keep it a Rai or Shetty ONLY? Why to oblige your husband or the society? But still something is better than nothing!

“A woman needs to be a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom” (Read it while searching the net). Agreed cooking is an art and it is always said women and kitchen go hand in hand. But I seriously wonder that in which book is it written that men can’t cook? Why is it that the society thinks that kitchens are ‘tailor-made’ for women only? Men can work as chefs in hotels but they want women to cook for them at home. Why? Ofcourse the issue I raise is very weird! Weird because society is now set like this only and even women are set accordingly. And am quite sure that things won’t change even when I get married but the larger question is can’t men help women with all this? Why always women have to toil themselves with the household chores? I am not even sure that the question I raise is how much valid but at least I feel so!

Women in India and all over the world face a lot. The few points I raised are nothing when compared to female infanticide, rapes, dowry etc. But still I felt like sharing my views with all because I strongly respect women and I absolutely believe they are stronger than all men in everywhere be it emotionally or be it mentally!

I believe that women have a capacity for understanding and compassion which man structurally does not have, does not have it because he cannot have it. He’s just incapable of it.- Barbara Jordan

And I say this because I have many ‘girl’ friends (not literally) and they are way mature and understanding than me. My mother, my nani, my aunt’s, everyone I know are just super woman’s. And come on let’s be honest and take a pledge that no more male chauvinism yaar. It’s time we realise that we all are normal human beings and we all are equal.

It’s time we shun all the age-old rural ideas, beliefs, practices and whatever and make this world a better place to live for women where they can breathe freely. And I am sure if every man thinks even for a second about her mother before doing any thing wrong, things would be different!! Now, I would like to end this post  by quoting a few lines:

“Woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot; but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved”

P.S. – Guyz I know it’s a very immature article and I know I can write better but seriously I have just written what my heart said. Hope you all like it 🙂

Why I hate going to MARRIAGES?

Marriages are made in heaven! This is one of the most widely used and most frequently used line all over the world to describe marriage in a very simple way. But we forget that marriages are consummated on this earth. Earth means ‘SOCIETY’! And this irks me! Now you must be thinking why I say that?

Though I absolutely believe in the concept of marriage and I completely understand the whole celebrations and rituals going around BUT still there is something that forces me to avoid going to and attending these marriages and I am pretty sure that at least the teenagers would agree with me. I have so many points to make that I might miss on something so please oblige 🙂

First things first, the basic reason I avoid going to marriages is because if you are 22 and you are done with your graduation then you have the whole world around you who is worried about your future plans! Ab unhe kaun bataye “Biotech mein bahut scope hai”! (We are still researching the credibility of this statement 😛 ) And if you have a job then you have all the auntiji’s at your mom’s service suggesting her bahu’s. And god forbid if you are a girl then you are GONE!! I pity the girls because they are a soft target.. literally! I am sure every half an hour deals are done 😉

“Beta Pehchana”? “Beta paaon chuo” This is the biggest turn off at least for me. I mean you have loads of uncles and aunti ji’s whom your parents introduce to you and then goes Bournvita Quiz Contest where you have to crack the tough question that who the hell is the person standing in front of you! Bachpan mein to hamari god mein khela hai.. SO? How do I recognise you now? Huh. Then added trouble is you have to touch everyone’s charan. I mean I respect this tradition of taking blessings from our elders but COME ON does that mean every one is welcomed.. eh??

Okay now when the guessing game ends you go on to meet the bride and bride-groom which is so irritating. I mean you don’t even know them and here you are posing with them for I don’t know what? And if you are a kid you would be made to sit in the centre of the couple like ‘haddi’ in the ‘kebab’! Huh

Next, after all this when one thinks of gorging on the delicious food in the marriages which is the only saving grace I guess, you have the photographer hovering around the whole area, focussing on your plates as if he has paid for the food in the marriage. Every move of yours Every bite you take is under vigilance. I mean after all the sweat and energy lost in BQC and touching of umpteenth charan’s you can’t even eat in solace! And girls are again a soft target here. The photographers love to zoom in on their plates and ahmm.. ahmm.. 😛

And if all that is not enough you will find silly kids running here and there and dancing on the floor as if they are future MJ! And to top it, the parents are so happy watching their kids do all this stuff! :-/

Well, I have tried my best to cite reasons which force me to skip marriages but at the end its part of our Society and am sure when I get married or when my friends get married in the near future, it will all remain the same just the victims would change! 😀

P.S.- The above post is written keeping in mind a typical ‘North Indian’ wedding. It might be different in rest of the country.

Having said all this I have to mention that I love all the dance, songs, masti and dhamaal in Indian Weddings and I leave you all with a video from the movie ‘Bride & Prejudice’ which is my all time favorite wedding number.

JAWAN’S LIFE: Taken for Granted?

Its been one week since the ‘Dantewada massacre’ and I write this post not to discuss the problem of Naxalism in India or to propose solutions to the problem. Nor do I write this post to pay tribute to the 76 CRPF Jawans who died in this attack because I strongly feel the real tribute will be when their deaths don’t go unnoticed and they get justice!

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is a paramilitary security agency/Force functioning under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA), Government of India. The CRPF’s primary role lies in assisting the State/Union Territories in police operations to maintain law and order and contain insurgency. The CRPF is the largest paramilitary force in the world with 210 battalions besides various establishments. Of late, CRPF contingents are also being deployed in UN missions.

Now this gives a very rosy picture of the CRPF jawans in our country but the reality is quite different from it and it reminds me of the line which Napoleon Bonaparte quoted:

“Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them.”  And here in India the situation is worse. How can we expect the jawans to fight during insurgencies when they don’t have proper weapons only and they are fighting for basic amenities like water, shelter and medicines? I was shocked to see the poor state of CRPF jawans in Dantewada recently in a documentary by NDTV. The recent naxal attack brought into the light the conditions in which these jawans live!

Weapons are not the only problem,” a CRPF deputy commandant in Dantewada said. “We face shortages of medicines and rations in our base camps; we are yet to figure out how to treat our men who fall sick in the camps from malaria or diarrhea; we get no doctors here.” Chintalnar camp, like many other base camps tucked inside the forests in the densely forested Bastar region, faces water scarcity and food shortages. And in the scorching summer, scarcity of food and water means half the battle is lost.

They are required to walk on foot for at least 20 km daily with a load of around 15 kg to 20 kg, including the firearms! And what is their mistake? That they chose to serve the country and its people without caring about their life or family! It’s shameful on government’s part. In America the soldiers are offered handsome salaries and umpteenth number of perks which is absolutely justified given the job they do. The families of the soldiers also lead a secure life if in case he loses life!

BUT, here the jawans don’t have access to food and water. There are no doctors to treat them. Malaria is a common disease in the camps and in the absence of proper medication it worsens  leading to ‘brain fever’ and ultimately deaths. They don’t even have proper weapons to defend themselves. There are  no ‘mine detectors’ to detect the mines which are laid frequently by the naxals. SO, what does this indicate?

The callous attitude of the government goes on to prove that in our country a jawan’s life is taken for granted! It hardly matters if they live or die. The ministers should remain safe and healthy! And its sad that the death of 76 CRPF  jawans in Dantewada made us look into the issue. I am sure the situation would be nearly same in all the CRPF camps on the country.

 This post is just a way to show how sorry I feel for the jawans. And I just pray that the jawans get their due at least now when things are out in the open. Its time a jawan gets what he deserves because I strongly believe that they deserve all the honour, respect and yes ‘perks’ also because what they do, is the most difficult job in this world!

I end this post by saying”

Let’s not WAIT, Let’s not DEBATE!

Come let’s PROPOGATE…

And not allow the country to STAGNATE!!

CWG 2010- What is the ‘common’ man doing?

 Come October and India will see the  largest multi-sport event conducted to date, in Delhi. The first ever ‘Green Games’. And ‘IF’ the games are a success then it would surely be a proud moment for the country and for all the Indians!

But for me the proud moment was way back in November 2003 when India won the bid to host the 2010 CWG by defeating Canada which had earlier hosted the games four times. I was on the moon at that time as my country had proved that it has the potential to host  an event which will be looked upon by the entire world! And now when we are only 5 months away from the D-Day I am disappointed!! Not with the Government but with the common man or the ‘aam aadmi’!!

Much has been said and much has been written about the sorry state of management and completion of projects. We all have our doubts that whether India will successfully conduct the games or not? What was the government doing since last 7 years? Where was our tax going? I absolutely agree that we have been ‘very’ slow in completing the projects and the deadlines were changed frequently. But the latest statement from the Organising committee says “The Games are going to take place from Oct 3-14 in India and there is no way the date or the venue is shifting.India will be ready in time to host a successful event.”

Now comes my concern! What have we done to ensure that the games are a successful event which makes India proud? Since the venue is Delhi, I raise the question to all the Delhiites only. The government is doing their stuff -building stadiums, improving the transport in the city, broadening the roads, making the auto wallahs learn english! In all Government is doing all it can do. But what have the people done so far?

We have public toilets everywhere but we still love to make the bricks around us salty or water the poor plants along the roadside. And if the public toilets are not good enough in numbers then think about women in such a situation .

We have dustbins but still its fun throwing stuff anywhere and everywhere. We enjoy eating paan , rajnigandha and we equally enjoy spitting the same on walls and roads. We love going to forts and tombs but its our habit to sign the  old walls with some of the cheesiest and sleaziest lines. ‘Delhi Metro’ is a sign of development and is a hard feat to achieve but it pains when I see the route maps inside the metro getting torn or despite of  the repeated announcements of ‘no eating & no drinking inside the metro, people are found munching ‘mungfalis’ during winters.  WHY?

Are we doing any good to the games or the city by doing all this or letting all this happen in front of us? Have we started using dustbins so that the city becomes cleaner or have we stopped spitting on the roads? Have we started using public transport instead of our cars so that the pollution levels go down in the city as was done in Beijing during the Olympics? How many of us are planning to volunteer for the games?  We as citizens of the country or to be precise as citizens of Delhi are doing nothing apart from complaining.

Government has increased VAT on various commodities and taking a lot of tax from the middle class. But in return government has given us low floor buses, BRT , flyovers etc. So we can at least help by keeping those roads and buses clean! This is the least we can do. With this hope I pray that CWG 2010 be a roaring success and there should be no IF’S attached to the games. They will Rock!!

P.S.- The questions I raise are very general and do not apply to the people of Delhi only.  In fact every citizen of this country should act responsibly . And  I don’t  feel that people should start acting in a civilised way because the games are around because there are simply no reasons to act in a civilised manner.