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 :)

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)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A History of A Problem

The term syndrome is so frequent, that sometimes, I wonder, if this term really does mean, what it supposed to mean? I mean, it is used so frequently that I doubt, and feel, that this feeling is quiet genuine, that psychologists have the syndrome of making syndromes. I have a problem with it, and the problem is that syndromes make you get this syndrome of looking for patterns, and it makes your observations patchy, and that is something negative. It stops from looking to life, and people, who struggle so hard for that life, as a single entity, complete in itself, but as problems need to be managed and solved. If people is more concerned about their looks than about their ideas, if they are more concerned about their weight than their impacts, if they are more worried about their dogs than refugees, if they are more interested in knowing what Angela Julie is doing than what policy makers are doing, if they are more mad on the noisy children next door than noisy politicians trying their best to prove entire populations evils, if ......, if..., if..... , still, calling them suffering from some sort of syndrome is heartbreaking. The world is and has never been black and white. Different civilizations at different times in their histories have discovered, and acknowledged the duality as an essence of things. So, no matter, what one observes, one always has the choices in describing that thing as negative or positive. Let me follow the tradition of elaborating the ideas by providing examples. Sherlock Holmes is an imaginary character, with a gift of genius, possessing a mind, totally occupied by scientific thinking. "That is brilliant" in the words of Dr. Watson. But there are people out there obsessed in proving that this character was bipolar manic. Here is where my problem begins. When one has the choice in describing things, what is the pleasure in seeking negativity? 

I have this problem for a long time, and here is a description of the earliest history of this problem. When I was at class one or two, I was seeing two conflicting worlds, and had no idea, why this conflict exist at all. Our drawing teacher was drawing a mountain, a sun that had half risen behind those mountains, a school in front of the mountain, a flag on the roof of the school, a green front yard, a road running parallel to school, a car on the road, a running water tab at the corner of the road, a blue sky, two clouds, one on right side of sky and one on left and a lot of birds flying in between two clouds. This world was on black board and we had to transfer it on our notebook and color this world. Now, I had two problems, each one more serious than the other. The first problem was that the mountain on the black board was triangular and black in color. In my real world, our area was surrounded from three sides by mountains. These mountains had multiple peaks, light to dark grey colors (depending on the time of day) and were standing tightly shoulder to shoulder with each other. Each mountain had a quiet a personality, each their own recognizable features. They had no resemblance to triangular mountains on black board that were just clones. Our school was surrounded by walls, had many classrooms, all with flat roofs, a medium size metallic gate on main entrance. The school on black board had a gable roof with no walls surrounding it. Even funnier was the flag on school, which was rectangular and crispy like new bank-notes. The flag in our school was a piece of cloth, always folded and hanging down lazily from a pole. There wasn't any green lawn in our school. There were a lot of pigeons in the sky during morning or evening but they weren't looking like those lines on the black board either, and clouds? No need to say anything about that, right? My tiny brain had the problem in understanding, why my teacher wants us to draw the world, the way it doesn't exist? The other problem that I had was that my hand was not getting what my eyes were commanding it. What I was seeing on blackboard, I wanted my hand to draw the same on the page. But when I was looking to what it had drawn, they were just pieces of modern art (as I know it today. At that time, I didn't know about Picasso. I am pretty sure, if I knew that I creating abstract art, I would not definitely weren't concerned about low marks on my drawings) and were just disappointing to both me and my teacher. I had the problem to understand, why my hands are not as good as my eyes.

It was not that just drawings weren't conflicting with my real worlds. The same was true with photographs. On my way back from school to home, there were a number photographic stores that had displayed framed photographs of the individuals on the glass shelves. In a couple of photographs, individuals had photographed themselves in the front of shrine of Imam Reza (A.S). I was trying to understand the photographs but they weren't making sense to me. The individuals were taller than the shrine. I hadn't seen any individual taller than building or any building shorter than people. I had that much sense that there must be some benefits in not conforming with real world, however, no one was there to explain, what are the benefits? As a child, all I was struggling with my conflicting worlds. I still struggle, though, the subjects and nature of the struggles have changed a lot. In real world, there are as many worldviews as many people are there. I mean quiet a lot. When I see the struggles to make people conform with a particular worldview, it appears to like those drawings on blackboard or those photographs that differ from real world. When people function and function well, searching problems in them is a problem in itself. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Less Serious History

Everyone has some "weaknesses", and one of my "weaknesses" is history. History fascinates me much more than futuristic objects, ideas and visions. I blame two things for this biased behavior towards futuristic utopias, my stronger inclination towards verbal-perception than visual perception, and my utter dislike of star-war shows. Actually, I disliked the first star war show that I watched and my opinions of such shows have not improved over time. I believe that my verbal-perception developed out of my passion to see the world. Since our circumstances weren't allowing me to travel, so I compensated this passion of mine by reading whatever were available to me. Words were allowing to be in places, and live the lives of the people, who I had not the privilege to visit and meet. Travel journals and biographies were and are my best friends. Why I don't like star war shows? Well, I don't remember any time that I could have tolerated watching a whole episode of a star war show. Although, my memories of the first shows are vague, but I remember the reasons that I disliked it, and since then, I haven't dared to disturb this perception. I watched my first show on our black and white, made in Russia TV. It was not the colors, or the dotted, low-resolution screen that generated the dislikes, but the characters, their appearances, their environments and the lack of a "real" story in them. The characters had the minimal facial expressions, almost devoid of normal emotions, dressed in bright, tight, shiny covering, walking, sitting and behaving in abnormally rude manners (I would rather say, fake self-confidence), and the environments were clean (devoid of any signs of "real" life: life is more messy than tidy) and extravagantly geometrical, the interactions were absolutely spartan, and all they were living for, were survival and dominance. I thought, the shows were totally laboratorian (I made the term, so don't look it up in dictionary), and were poor in imaginations. I thought, if I have to live such a life, I would definitely not survive in such an environment, and even if I could somehow survive, it would be a life of agony and despair, sugar-coated by fake perceptions of living-beings and life in general. In fact, it was as frightening as imagining oneself as a crocodile living with other crocodiles, the kind of scaly skins of crocodiles, rough faces, devoid of any expression and two big eyes and large, strong toothed mouth, always greedily looking for preys. No tolerance for emotions, weaknesses, compassion or anything associated with softheadedness (It is not that I don't like crocodiles. It is just, how our brains are wired to see scaly skins as scary, part of our warning system).

I like natural landscapes, museums, cities and people, as they are less serious histories, and are too diversified (may be a better word is too complicated) that never let your imaginations become sleepy (always have hidden surprises ☼), and are always open to interpretations of the observers. In comparison, written histories are always organized around certain worldviews. Written histories are limited and lose their charm once one is aware of the details.

It was one of those nice summer weekends that I decided to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I like NYC not because of her skyscrapers, but because she let me realize that, life is not a single story. Life is millions of stories that no matter, how much they contradict each other, each is worth living and keep people struggle hard for. In other words there are millions of life perspectives, and that is just magnificent and really absorbing, once you start observing the life perspectives. It let one free himself from conformity with traditional lenses of great, good, bad and evil, and start understanding the passion and struggle in each perspective, and see things as they are instead of how should they be. I had planned a sort of "time travel". The whole city is a like giant museum full of different characters, each carrying his/her own histories. Everybody sees and only few really observe (I regularly read the metropolitan diary, just to know, of all those things that city dwellers see, what they choose to observe . It is a kind of comparison with my own observations. After all, it is believed that US is all about freedom of choices, and while seeing is mostly a matter of chance, observations are what we choose to see in details). The time travel plan was to spent sometime around the city, make some rudimentary sketches out of my observations, and then go to museum to observe the historical art pieces from around the world. I found a terrace like place at the edge of a pond in the central park, where people were sitting, eating, walking, biking, taking pictures, some reading and a couple guys were fishing. After spending sometimes and taking some notes, I headed northward towards museum. I realized, I had difficulty finding my location on the map, and to avoid going in the wrong direction, I needed the help. I started looking around to find somebody to help me finding my direction. A lady with two woolly puppies were on the same trail that I was. I asked her to help in locating me on the map. She told me to follow her to the road, where I could locate myself and then could easily follow the map. While we were walking towards the road, she asked, "You like flowers"... "Everybody does" I replied... "You like drawing?"..."Yes, but did you guess it because I am going to Museum of art?" ... "No, I guessed it from your cap. It has embroidered flowers on it" ... I got curious (embroidery and flowers are usually taken to be feminine, and I didn't want☻) ... "It also has a man, holding an ax in his right hand. It is a contradictory combination" I showed it to her by pointing with my finger... and tried to explain that the cap doesn't represent me in any way, "The cap was on sell, and its size was re-adjustable, which is useful during summer time. That is the reason that I bought it"... "That is complementary combination, flowers and tools are man's best friends" ... That was an expected answer....Her fingers and wrists were filled with all sorts of beads and stones, and usually artists and those who have spiritual tendencies use their fingers, wrists, ears and necks as galleries... "Do you do some sort of art?" I asked..."Oh, I lived the craziest life ever.." and there came the road .... I thought, we all carry our histories that we have made by the choices that we have made. Even if I insist that the cap didn't represent me, still it was one of the choices that I made..

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Young Man Who Shattered My Concept of a Buddha

Until now, I had this idea that all those who leave their homes for a greater purpose are living Buddhas (By Buddha here I mean, an enlightened person). On morning of January 23rd, some pictures put the first hole in my this dear concept, and on January 25, I had to rethink the whole concept anew. I had to accept that I had built my concept of a Buddha on a snapshot of the first Buddha’s act of leaving his palace into the world out there to find “the truth” as essence of Buddha’s whole story. This was definitely kindling my thinking, while I was shaping and reshaping my plans for wandering into the world out there. On January 22nd, I woke up with the terrible news that a suicide bomber has blown-up a bus carrying pilgrims in Mastung district of Baluchistan. It was not the first suicide attack on buses of pilgrims, and in words of Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi, the Pakistanis who live out of country hear bad news so frequently, that they have become sensitive like seismometers who start vibrating with any news come out of the country, and pray that this one shouldn't be true, and every time, the news turns out right. The pain and suffering is heartbreaking, and the inability to have a helping hand is nerve-racking. That day, the news had no human-face and the victims were just numbers.

The next day (January 23rd), the first images of victims started surfacing on the social media. Among them, the pictures of Ibtihaj and his sister Umm-e-Farwah caught the attention of media. The pictures were speaking loud the love of the sister and brother , and their enthusiasm for life.As I mentioned at the start of this knol that, on January 23rd, some pictures put the first holes in my dear concept of Buddha. These were the pictures. These pictures reminded me that leaving the home for a purpose is just the start of becoming a Buddha. The journey is not the purpose. The purpose is to overcome the suffering. It was a wired feeling. A true tragedy that has occupied my mind. I was not able to stop not imagining a young boy who has to live the rest of his life missing his dearest sisters, mother and grandmother (Ibtihaj had lost his two sisters, mother, grandmother, and he himself was injured in the event and was hospitalized). If just the image of such life was so painful, how this young boy is going to cope with the pains that he has to live the rest of his with? I just didn't want to think beyond this. It was these thoughts that made me to think about the teachings of Buddha. My understanding of  his teaching was that, life is suffering and suffering starts in minds and the only way to reduce the suffering is through the mindfulness. In other words, my concept of living Buddhas were replaced by the teaching of the Buddha. It is very likely that brain is wired to compare the contrasting images, as out of no where the image of Spozhmay came to my mind. The image of 8-years old, visibly disoriented and distressed Spozhmay (arrested teen-female suicide bomber) started to appear even more painful to me. They say, "young souls are innocent". There were two different pictures of teens on my screen. At one side, teens that were filled with love and life and lost in the suicide attack. On other side, there was a teen who was forced to blew herself up.She survived by failing, but her pleas for life and protection from her brother was equally painful. At one side, there were brother and sister who were best friends, and on other side, there was a sister who was asking protection from his brother. What I could do? These images were facts on the ground and I had to live with them. I had to incorporate the Buddha's teaching that life is suffering and suffering begin in mind. The sooner one accepts the fact and reconciles with them, the lesser are the sufferings. It is easy to utter these words, but practically, it is not easy to not think about the families who have to live the wounds for the rest of their lives.

On January 25, an image of Ibtihaj surfaced on the social media that was showing him making a victory sign with a smiling face. That was unbelievable, and it shattered my all concepts altogether. Here is a teenage boy, who has lost 4 members of his family and he himself is wounded, but do not show any sign of pain or weakness. He had left his home for a purpose (pilgrimage) and had been through worst possible suffering and yet has not let pain and suffering overcome him. If Buddha is a person who has overcome his suffering, so far this boy definitely fits my new concept of a Buddha. I pray that he stays strong, and grow even stronger in the course of his life. He is definitely a source of inspiration.