One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inequality and Jugaad

Bowl of Hazar Chiragh
Thanks to photographer-friends who let us see Mehrabad (also Mariabad) through their lenses, by sharing their pictures on social media. This allow us appreciate the uniqueness of the valley, which, otherwise is an ordinary town. In fact Mehrabad's pictures create a mix feelings; a sense of pleasure from rugged beauty of the valley , and a sense of deep sadness from first-hand knowledge of the unequal treatments, and in a lot of cases criminal-ignorance or complacence that forced people to build their houses on the mountainside.

On this Blog Action Day, I wanted to write a post about issues that are common, but as they say, "charity begins at home", I thought, I might remind the concerned/sensible people of the continued injustices to the people, I recognize with, myself:

 While the homes that are built all around mountainsides create an image of a bowl of Hazar-Chiragh (thousand-lamps) which might be an appropriate name to the valley, where Hazara people live (People of the valley also call it Mehr-Abad - The land of love -, for the valley is an oasis of love in the desert of hatred that has encircled it.). Beautiful and lovely, as the valley appears is only the soul of the valley. The body of the valley are the results of the  thousands of jugaads that evolved as a results of deep rooted inequalities that Hazaras in Quetta face. In fact, Hazaras are reminded regularly to not think of themselves equals (following is the list of some):

* The extremists religious groups remind Hazaras, no matter what you do or say, we are not accepting you as equal Muslims, by issuing constant warnings through media outlets calling Hazaras infidels, by target killings and by suicide bombings (Human Rights Watch Detailed Report)

* Hazara Town residents are reminded to not think of themselves as an equal humans by denying access to drinking water: Despite of several capped-water-wells (drilled wells and capped) in Karkhasa nala for last decade, Hazara Town, which is adjacent to nala and suffers from its annual flooding are not supplied of these wells. They are even denied of rights to drill tube-wells and forced them to buy drinking  water from tub-wells of adjacent orchards. If you have heard of water-tanker mafia, it is well-established in Hazara town.

* Hazara Students are reminded they are not equal in the eyes of Department of education: There is only one government boy high school and a government girl high school for a population of more than 200,000 people  of Hazara Town (Total Hazara population in Quetta is 500,000 - 600,000. Approximately half of that population live in Hazara Town).

* Although a sports stadium was part of the development plan in PSDP 2009 (District Development Profile 2011: Section: 7.1), there is no playground in Hazara Town (People who were using Hazara Town's graveyard for morning walk was attacked by terrorists). Hazara town residents are reminded that they are not equal to other areas, despite of giving the province sportsmen, who have won several national and international medals.

These are only a few examples of many including, constant police and land-mafia harassment of the people.

There are two populations of Hazaras in Quetta, Mehrabad and Hazara Town. As Mehrabad is much better-off in terms of roads, schooling, housing and is surrounded three sides by mountains (a sense of security), a lot of Hazara Town residents migrated back to Mehrabad (although it created economic hardships for them). In fact, Mehrabad had become overpopulated by mid-90's, and that is the reason, a lot of people moved to Hazara Town, which is a plain area, with abundant space. When target killing of Hazaras intensified and a lot of people were targeted traveling between Hazara Town and Mehrabad, a lot of people migrated back to Mehrabad. This forced people to build houses over the mountain. Yes, these houses turn the valley into bowl of Hazar-Chiragh but imagine for a moment, all those old men and women who live in those houses. They have to climb, hundred plus concrete/stone-steps to reach their houses. Think of pregnant women who live in those houses. What if they need emergency medical help. The ambulance neither fit in those alleys, nor they can climb those steps. What about the children, who have to walk to school and play on those steps. Some of these houses don't even get  enough share of daylight (as sunrise is late and sunset is early). These houses are jugaads of the people to escape insecurity and unequal treatments. I see these houses as a living statue of inequality.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Return of Walkers

Ali was watching The Walking Dead and I was reading Madam Bovary. I have no stomach for horror shows, even those, in words of Ali with "moderate zombies", still, when I have an interesting read in my hand, I can even tolerate the "extremists zombies", of course, in the safety of TV screen. Long story short, while I was wandering in the world of Madam Bovary, a dialogue caught my ears. A woman in the show asks another one, "Are you a practicing Atheist?" 

"What! a 'practicing Atheist?' " I asked Ali, "That doesn't make sense at all."

"It does." Ali axed my doubt. He paused the show to explain, "If one doesn't believe in God, he is a practicing Atheist? Isn't he?" 

"I guess, that makes the person a professing Atheist. Practicing means, observing the obligatory codes, for example a practicing Muslim is one who prays everyday, fasts in month of Ramadan, eats halal food only...etc, and a practicing Christian is a church-going Christian. I don't know any kind of ritual among known Atheists to call them practicing Atheist." I looked at Ali's face to see his reaction.

"I don't know but Google might know." Ali giggled and played again the show.

I opened my laptop and searched the phrase, "Practicing Atheist".

"Ah, now it makes sense!" I tell myself, as I find a page which defines a Practicing Atheist as someone who claims believing in God, and practicing the religion but actually they doubt the existence of God. "With this definition, most people are practicing Atheists. Most of people did not come into believing in God through their personal quests but through indoctrination. As saying goes, "Do in Rome as Romans do". It is just practical to accept practices that are accepted by majority in a society." Thoughts surge.


"I know the Walking Dead is quiet an imaginative show, but biologically speaking, the Walkers (zombies) in it doesn't make sense at all." I suggested Ali.

"There are times that one can explain things through non-sense better than things that make sense." Ali replied me, as he was leafing through Catcher in the Rye

"But, biologically speaking, body works as a whole system. If someone's major organs are damaged or missing, it is not possible that he or she could function. Don't you agree?" I tried to make my point clearer.

"Let me put it this way: Last evening, a teenager suicide bomber walked to Hazara Town chowk and blew himself up near vegetable cart of an old man. The vegetable vendor, a woman with her two daughters and a 6-7 years old boy were killed on the spot. More than a dozen other people were injured in the blast, some critically. What your biology tells about that? Does that makes sense at all to you?" Ali argued.

I stayed silent...

"Don't you think that the boy was infected by a lethal virus (ideology), he was already dead, and he was hungry for human flesh and blood?" he added.

"Oh, I get it, what you wanted to say." I replied, "By the way, I had seen that old-man for years. He even had not a proper cart. He had converted a wheelbarrow into a vegetable stall and was selling fresh salad for a few rupees. Every time, I had bought a bunch of salad from him, I asked myself the question, how is he running his family with this salad cart? I agree, only a Walker can do this, not a human being."

The old salad-vendor, who had not even a proper cart and had converted a wheelbarrow into salad-stall was the main target of suicide attack :(
People are examining the remains of old-man's salad stall. The wheelbarrow, salad and blood/pieces of flesh of the old-man is visible in the picture :(
"Have you heard about the story of the mother with her two daughters who were killed in the attack?" Ali inquired.

"No, I just saw them in the picture. They were covered with chaddar and I couldn't recognize them." I nodded my head.

The women with her children :(
"I learned through my friends about them." Ali put aside the book, and sighed.

"Who were they?" I became curious.

"Around ten years ago, the woman's husband went to Iran to find a job there in order to support his family and since then he is missing. No one knows he either is alive or dead. You know, a lot of our people have lost their lives in that route. The woman had four children, two daughters and two sons. You can imagine, what she was going through.... She tailored the Eidi clothes for her children. That evening she took the hand of her two daughters and was on her way to machine-stitch the buttonholes of the clothes in one of the tailor-shops of Ali Abad road. They never reached the shops." Ali was quite emotional.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

That Weird Aha Moment :P

Can you imagine that weird moment, when tonnes of newspapers articles, talk-shows, interviews with experts, and number books that you have been through, not only fail to explain series of apparently counter-intuitive events, instead add to your confusion, a movie explains all in one scene? My gut feeling is that most people have had that Aha moments, at least one time in their lives. Here, I am sharing my latest such an Aha moment;

Being a hardcore fan of “Pirates of Caribbean” movie series that I am, I was watching the “Pirates of Caribbean: At World’s End”;

Pirate lords have gathered in Pirate Council Chamber on Shipwreck Island for a brethren court. A globe is placed inside the chamber, close to the entrance. Each pirate lord thrusts in his/her sword in the globe, as he/she enters the hall. The globe symbolizes the earth and the insertion of sword into it, the rights of pirates to plunder the wealth of the earth as per their wishes.

Elizabeth has replaced late Sau-Feng, as a new pirate lord of Singaporean pirates, and is new in the brethren court:

During the court, the pirates lords start a messy fight with each other, with no clear enemies or friends, everyone attacking everyone else:

Elizabeth: This is madness.

Captain Jack Sparrow: This is politics. 

Nothing has so clearly demonstrated the messy world affairs of our time than this scene from Pirates of Caribbean movie;

Not so distant, there was a time, when world was divided between reds (communists) at on side, blues (capitalist democrats) and greens (Islamic dictatorships) at the other side. Once red was gone, the blues and greens started fighting each other. Then greens blew up from inside out. Blues favored some of the greens against other greens. Then some green allies turned against blues and now, everyone fighting everyone else. Everyone with a sword thrusting the globe, and declaring their rights to plunder the earth as they see fit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Idealism

I certainly do understand that most of the clashes in the world of ideas predates me, and I have just happened to prefer one over the other, and hence have become highly opinionated, but still, I like to stay opinionated. And there is a reason for that. Over time, I have realized that, Idealism is the beginning of coherent thinking. Actually, it is one of my “tools of analyses”. Whenever, I see idealism, I try to find the young forces behind it. My own exploration into the world of ideas started with strong tendency to develop my own idealistic worldview, and still, some of my ideals are so dear to me that I do my best to stick to them as the foundations of my core values. Although, sometimes, they do create a lot of troubles for me, and I have paid for them (still paying for some of them), but I have reasons to do so. As you may have guessed from my concept of coherent thinking, idealism allows one to stay enthusiastic and mentally youthful. But that is not the main reason. The main reason is that I have seen “reasoning” being used both ways, for peace and conflicts, for inclusion and exclusion, for freedom and servitude, for humanization and dehumanization, and hence, I can’t rely solely on reasoning, but I need a bunch of value system to steer my reasoning in favor of peace, inclusion, freedom and humane faces of individualistic life perspectives. 

My idealism was not, and is not so bookish, or to say just a mental process out of ease of a chair. It was in fact developed from the harsh realities of the city that I was born and grown in. Quetta was/is a multi-ethnic, segregated city, and the peace in the city was always fragile (any small incident can turn into a bloody chaos, as it has happened many times). All the people in the province complain about mistreatment of the province at federal level, but at the same time, whatever little assets that the province has, are also targeted and destroyed by locales. Now, here is the hard reality. Roads, bridges, electricity grids, gas pipelines, railway lines, schools, hospitals have no ethnicity or religion, and they serve anyone who use them, e.g,there is a overhead road in Quetta and it serves thousands of people a day without any discrimination. First time, that I traveled from Quetta to Islamabad crossing three provinces, I could clearly experience the differences in developments but then seeing businesses, workers and students from Balochistan all across Punjab and Sindh, I realized, poverty and progress do not stay at one place. If there is a development in one place, its fruits will definitely reaches to all corners. My inclination towards my idealism is not just limited to my experiences of my city, province or country. It is also global. Politically the world is divided between countries, regions and civilizations and conflicts make people suffer. That is a reality. No one can deny that. But it has also another face. Electricity, engines, electronics, modern medicine and agriculture were developed in West but they did not stayed in West and have reached all corners of the world, irrespective of race, ethnicity and religion. Technology, Science and Commerce have no race, ethnicity and religion. If I look back in history, even the rise of Mongols (that have been labelled as blood thirsty nomads) was proved to be a force to take out world from dark ages of Medieval period. The world in general and West specifically owe ancient Greeks and Roman for the modern system of governance. 

So, how this idealism actually translates into my “core values” or so called my steering of reasoning? Well, there is an easy answer to that. It certainly makes me submit to “justice” as inclusion of all than any kind of “ism” as exclusion of some in the favor of some ( the “ism” is my idealism is an exception to this rule :P).

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Quick Story For A Friend

Here is a quick story for a friend:

To enjoy the story, one needs to have a mental image of the area, and a sense of the time, when it occurred. In those days, the place of the story was known as Kaday Ghulam. It was an open area, with small muddy ridges, shallow depressions, and many holes, some with few meters diameters. Kada means a hole in the ground, and it might have been the reason, the place was named Kaday Ghulam. People used to take dirt from the area for construction purposes. These holes were also used as shelters by drug addicted individuals. They would eat, sleep, smoke and poop there. On our way back from school, we used to peek into these holes, and if there were candlelight, that were signs of their presence. We would throw stones in the holes, and escaped. When it rained, some of the large depressions would turn into pools. We would swim in them. Our hairs and clothes would get muddy and we couldn't go home with dirty clothes (Punishment for dirty clothes. Also punishment for being late: To not get punished we would put straw under our tongues believing that it would make the elders kind). So, we would go to water tank, wash ourselves and waited there until we got dry. In Mornings and evenings, people would come to play soccer, cricket, occasionally hockey (very rarely golf), fly kites, bird fights, play cards, and friends gathered to converse and socialize. Long story short, this was an undeveloped part of the area, and at the time, people were mostly sit back and relaxed. Now, it is an upscale area of Alamdar Road, and is called Gulistan Town. Now, that we have a picture of the area, the story begins like this,

That afternoon, we were sitting on a small muddy ridge, and were having a general discussion. It was a spring afternoon. There were some goats and sheep grazing on patches of wild bushes and grasses. On our left side, some young men playing soccer. The soft breeze were really refreshing. A tall man carrying a bicycle also appeared. He took the bicycle on a larger ridge, sat on it, hold the handle tight, both of his feet were still touching the ground, took a deep breath and let the bicycle go. From wobbling of the bicycle, his dragging feet, and rigid posture, it was evident that he was practicing to learn riding the bicycle. Just like a boat on stormy waves, the bicycle was going up on ridges, and then down on depressions. After several ups and downs, the man with the bicycle disappeared. After a couple of minutes, someone in the group asked, “Where did that bicycle-man go?” Some hypothesized that he was actually successful in riding and had gone further down that is hard to see from where we were sitting. Others however, hypothesized that he had fallen in one of those holes. When there was no consensus, it was decided to bet on the issue. Everyone walked down and guess, what we saw in the first hole? The bicycle was on one side and the tall man was sitting on the floor of the hole and was cleaning his hand with dirt clods (his bicycle and clothes were stained with... :P)