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 :)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sorry For Disgracing You, But I Am Hungry

It was first time that I was visiting the American Museum of Natural History, and me with my this chronic bad-habit of trying to-be-closer to guide (I always confuse curiosity with distance: I believe that, the closer you are to the object, the curious you are, but that is just the wish to be curious, not the curiosity. Curiosity is an insatiable greed for knowing) to consume the information both through my eyes and ears. The guides are shrewd. They know awes are momentary and shocks are everlasting- experiences, and they have mastered in shocking the visitors. As my brain was struggling to handle the flow of traffic of information coming from both the ears and the eyes (I don’t know, if brain also gets information through the mouth, when there is nothing in the mouth to taste, but the mouth is open, as if, it is competing with eyes and ears for information), the guide asked the group, “what makes dinosaurs, dinosaurs?” As I am the narrator of this story, so I give myself the right to stop the flow of the story  for a short-break to tell you, what was going on in my head, while I was struggling for the answer. I knew the straight answer that paleontologists like to call parsimonious answer, but I couldn't utter a word, and instead starting asking myself (It is just my arrogance and self-love that I have to have my opinion for everything: poor me), what if someone asks me, “what makes a man, man?” My mind was flooded by countless images that men express their manhood with. Some think mustache is the most expressive symbol of manhood, so they keep thick mustaches, even borrow parts of beard on the cheek to make it appear thicker, and shave the rest of beard to make their mustaches more prominent. Some think, beard is the sign of manhood. They shave their mustache to make sure, mustaches do not appear above the beard just because of their location on the face. Some think, it is long-hair that is the sign of manhood, and some think, hair at any place is feminine, so they shave their head, beard and mustache (eyebrows and eyelashes are some minor errors in this type of thinking, but minor errors can be tolerated as a common problem in all kinds of thinking). I thought, I can actually devise different classes of man-personalities just based on their preferences for hair on their faces and heads. But before I could shake my knowledge of importance of scales among dinosaurs, one of the students answered the question, “It is the anterior positioned pelvis that allow upright walking”... “That is right. That is why, dinosaurs are not extinct.
We still have them in the form of the birds.” replied the guide with excitement. That answer watered down all my excitements about the dinosaurs. So, all the thrills of Jurassic Park movie were no more than thrills of horror movies (The only horror-movie that I have watched till end is Army of Darkness. The rest are just ridiculous and yucky that I can’t tolerate more than 10 minutes). Whenever, I go to grocery store and see the chicken legs, wings and breasts, I say to myself, “Look, these are the descendants of those great-dinosaurs that for 130 million years were dominant terrestrial organisms. Forget the lion as king of Jungle. We can’t compare the lions with those majestic dinosaurs. “ When I cook them and want to eat them, I excuse the chicken, “Of course, you are the descendants of truly majestic dinosaurs. Sorry for disgracing you by cutting you into pieces and cooking you, but I am hungry and crave for the meaty legs of yours. As you know,  there is no animal-rights to knock my conscience. I can rationalize all these disgraces as my cooking skills.” Although chickens have nothing of those majestic dinosaurs that ruled the earth for long, but I still love them, as they are not like humans that once crashed by forces of history try their best to avoid present and fear to step in future, and take great comforts to go in the glorious pasts of their ancestors, that they have experienced not even a gram of it. Chicken never boast of their ancestors, nor they try to claim any honor for their works, that they themselves have no role in them.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I Think, We Need To Educate "...."

He found me in my “deep” thoughts, asked in his usual soft voice, “It is cold out here, is something troubling you? … I..I mean, I wonder, if I can be of some help?” … I didn't even notice, when he got there, feeling embarrassed, I re-positioned myself, and tried to appear normal, replied, “Oh, good morning, (trying hard to remember his name, but failed as always)... yeah, it is really freezing-cold out here (finding the question mark still hanging from his curious face, I tried to laugh), ..Ha-ha, you know, my troubles love to grow… they do not like any austerity or down-sizing!” … and and then tried to show some manners “Thanks a lot for offering help”... (and then tried to be a little bit funny -which I have never been successful at- to give the normality some gravity of expression...“No worries, man! ...You know, what? my relationship to thinking, is the kind of relationship, that health-conscious people have with oxygen. In order to get relaxed, they practice deep-breathing, and go for walking to get some fresh-air, and upon returning home, they try to fill themselves up with “anti-oxidants” to stop those oxygen with free-radicals, that they fear are actively ageing their cells. I do the same with thinking. I practice deep-thinking to get relaxed, and when the thoughts start worrying me, I try to get rid of them with South-Asian melodies.”… as I finished my rationalization, I tried to see the results of my "funny-efforts" in the form of some sparkling in his eyes...but instead of wide open eyes -as sign of fun- his eyes were narrowed, and by his expressions were signaling to me that, he is more curious than just fun-loving guy. My brain hurried to get in defensive position for his next question… And, as was expected, he asked, “Hmm, so, what was you struggling with,....was it an early morning relaxation by some deep-thinking, or getting rid of worries by melodious-memories?”... (Ah, these curious people!!! they don’t get impressed by funny-efforts at all, and make you feel that everything is just a problem to be solved..may be, I also have learned to be stubborn at times,- though, I hate to be- so, I tried to give my “sense-of-humor”, a second chance to amuse him)..."ha-ha, it was totally opposite of them. Actually, I was sugaring-up my brain by some silly ideas… I don’t know, if you have heard the story of that shepherd, who is laying in his cozy-barn, seeing his well-fed cattle relaxing, asking himself, I am sleeping in this warm place and so are my cattle. What about those wild animals, who have to spend all night outside in this freezing cold? Alas, my barn is so small, and the wild animals are countless, shy and unfriendly. What should I do to help them? He keeps thinking and fails to find any solution. Tired and helpless, he falls in sleep… I feel, I am not different to that shepherd. I keep thinking about my "people”... and then, in order to make sure, he has gotten my point, I soon corrected my last statement, “Well, it is not much of thinking, but rather worrying”... (a little pause-I think, he was trying to come up with a to-the-point question, as his face was signaling that, some sort of serious thought-process was going on in his head-)... “What exactly you are worried about mostly?”... boom! I wasn't prepared for the precision of the question, and I tried to escape answering it, “Just ask me, what is not worrying me, as the list has no ending”... “OK, let me ask it this way. What was worrying you, this morning?” …I thought, OK, let me take off my guards, and tell him, about the thoughts that were running in my mind. He might have his own opinion about the subject, and that would be interesting to know, “Well, most of the mornings that I pass the street behind us, there is a kindergarten, and I see the teachers line up the children, and take them out to teach them very basic things, for example, everything that are the sides of roads, from traffic signs, signals, how to cross the roads, bus-stops, facilities in the town, and how to interact with people on the streets. In short, they teach children, how to live and behave, before they teach them how to read and write. I take great interest in it, as despite appearing not much important is actually, the most important thing. Learning how to behave, knowing your rights and respecting others’ rights is something, that makes not only your life easy, but also other people’s lives easy.” … “That is not a worry. That is just a realization of something, that people long have devised and implemented” he appeared to be eased off… I hurriedly added more details to defend my position, “I mean, one is needed to pass traffic rule exam, take a safe-driving class and pass the road test, befor he/she is able to put a car on the road… It is in the interest of the driver and in the interest of everyone on the road, then I wonder, how is it possible that people run public institutions, like madrassahs, mosques, schools, organizations and ministries without any kind of proper education, and without showing any kind of efficiency?”... I guess, he got some of my points, “Yeah, Occasionally, I come across the reports from your country, and it is really sad”... I got a chance to explain it
in a little bit more detail, “Since 2000, we had almost 8 years of a military-civilian democracy, and it didn't
work, and then we had 5 years of civilian-democracy, and it is not working either. We had Imran Khan’s Pop-Mullah mix “revolution” through general election, and Tahir-ul-Qadri’s “revolution” through sit-in protests in the capital city with no net results on the ground. There are some basic problems that why things do not work. The problem is with the people, and with the system. I strongly believe that the whole society, including me, need education in knowing our rights, ways to protect it, and respecting the rights of others  more than literacy, just like those kindergarten children. For people who run any organization, and public office needs to pass the test, like drivers. It is in interest of everybody.” I stopped to see his reaction to my layman kind "utopia", of analogies, and over-generalized solutions… “Although, I am not much familiar with ground realities, but no one can deny the importance of education. You said that nothing is working, so do you have some thoughts on the system?” ... I felt that, his curiosity had lighted again. And, I was assuming that he knows much, so I don’t have to go into details for everything, and just need to point to the direction, and he will figure out, how this utopia will unfold. I just gave an outline, “Although, I am not saying that it is going to solve the problems in few years, or even it is going to work, but there must be a starting point. As I see no other checks, because neither military, nor supreme court proved to be a check on degrading-governance, except the people, I favor some sort of direct-democracy. For the whole decade government remained indecisive over action against terrorists and their supporters, creating more provinces, and ….blah blah blah. If there is a mechanism where people could ask for referendum, it will solve the indecisiveness. Otherwise, elections, noisy debates on media, sit-in protests and suo-moto-actions do not make some progress towards solving the problems at all.” … “You have some points here, but I am not sure, how they will look in practice, especially, in a country, where minorities are increasingly under more pressure. Direct democracy may put their survival in danger, you know…” I was sharing his fears, “I agree with you” and we both were standing there, with no clear idea,… and I guess, now, he had some idea of how, some of my worries were looking like… I took out my cell-phone from my pocket to check the time and said, “The bus should be here in 2-3 minutes”... 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It Didn't Move Me

I had a small argument with my this new friend. His name is..., wait, I am trying to remember.. I know, it is really rude to forget someone's name, particularly, if he is your friend, but oddly, I feel that confessing to your friend, that you have forgotten his name, in just a few minutes of hearing it, by asking his name again, is even more rude. It is what actually happened. He told me his name, and few minutes later, I was struggling to remember his name. You guessed it right, if I had forgotten it as I met him, how can I remember his name now? I agree, but I thought, may be somehow, by a "convection of memories from unconscious to conscious", I get a spark of names, including him. The reason for this little confession is not to appear rude on screen though, but to prepare you for our small argument that we had. 

As soon as I learned about his diverse interests, I got interested to know his opinions about subjects, that only highly-opinionated individuals have (their well-defined definitions). I asked him, "How do you define arts?".... Without any hesitation and quiet confidently he replied, "Any work that move people (thoughtful pause!!!) is a work of art"... Just as his name didn't move me (it might be offensive for some, but that was may be the reason that my brain didn't have a space for it on the desktop of my mind, and removed it to some folder inside another folder in the least used drive, may be Drive- Z, or some place that I don't have access to it), his answer didn't move me either (Hey, I am not suggesting that, he himself was not a work of art: every human is a work of art, by every imaginable definition. It is just that I was trying to be... let me think of a proper word, "critical"... no, that is very soulless word, better to say, a nightmarish word for artists... what about a "learned person"... no, if I were so learned, then I would not ask that question, right?... OK, what about "curious"... YES!!! this is perfect... as anybody can be curious...neither rude, nor naive... all good :) OK, let's move on. So, I tried to be curious, and I asked him, again (while scratching my chin just to give my curiosity a visual expression), "What do you mean by moving people?" and soon tried to explain my question, "People are moved by wars, lawlessness, economic meltdowns, immigration, technologies, political entanglements and scientific theories that are in conflict with established beliefs more than Michael Angelo's Last Supper or by The Old Guitarist from Picasso's blue period?" ... He grinned (may be he was amused by my naive explanation), "Oh! You have a very narrow perspective of arts. What you are talking about, is fine art" ...He leaned his head towards me (May be he was feeling taller like Sarkozy at that moment) and continued, "Arts can as destructive as war waged by smart-machines that are created by best minds, or can be very constructive such as the three gorges dam. It can be just a theory that changes the self-image of humanity like theory of evolution, or a novel such as Harry Potter that expands imaginations to world of fantasies" .... Well, frankly, I was trying to come up with another more sensible question, but I was totally blank. May be, from my nervousness, he understood that I am ... well, again, I don't know what he guessed ... After a pause of silence, he further explained, "In short, humans are moved either by awe or by something beyond their control and both of them are work of art"... May be, I have been moved so many times, that I was not prepared to be moved again (I belong to the cradle of super-arts: a place famed for conflicts and wars since dawn of humanity, and may remain so till end of humanity, and I already had too much of it) by his definition of art. So, I changed the topic... (By the way, I was not moved at all ;) ....(Again, you guessed it right, the people like me, may be moved by smiles, kindness, and magnanimity, things that are getting scarcer by each passing day in our part of world than those super-works of arts)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Picturing Saudi Arabia in Words: Part 2

Juhayman Al-Otaybi 
Words have the power to picture, what imaginations have done to a memory, what beliefs have done to imaginations, what experiences have done to beliefs, what life has done to experiences, and what companions have done to the life. May be the Arab Bedouins had discovered the power of the words as Lacey picture them in his words, "Juhayman means "Angry Face," deriving from jahama, the past tense of the yatajaham, meaning to set your features grimly. Arabia's Bedouin have a tradition of bestowing ugly, tough-guy names on their children. They believe it keeps trouble at bay in the troublesome world-though in the case of Juhayman Al-Otaybi, "Angry Face" of the Otayba tribe, the name came to stand for incredible trouble. With his wild beard and wild eyes , Juhayman had the look of Che Guevara about him, perhaps even Charles Manson. In November and December 1979, Angry Face horrified entire Muslim world when he led hundreds of young men to their deaths in Mecca."

In part 1 of this knol, it was mentioned that, it was the alliance of Abdul Wahhab with House of Saud, that set the boundaries of the modern geography of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is principally a puritanical movement, which reject modernism as innovation in the faith. The third King from House of Saud, King Faisal was relatively modernist and set to modernize Saudi Arabia. In 1973 Arab-Israel war, King Faisal boycotted oil sale to US and this led to skyrocketing of oil-prices. The immense wealth from oil-price-rise changed the shapes of Saudi towns, cities, and lifestyles, and behaviors of Saudis. These changes were seen as corruption by some in the Wahhabi state and some chose to return back to the life styles during the  Prophet and His companions (salaf) and started calling themselves as salafis. Juhayman was one of them. Here is how Lacey picture Juhayman group's of salafis:

......"We all slept on a mud floor," remembers Nasser Al-Huzaymi, who had dropped out of school and come to Madina seeking purpose in his life through religious devotion. "We had no telephone, and no plaster on the walls. We wanted to live as simply as possible, just like the Prophet's Companions. But we needed to read and study the Koran, so after some discussion, we considered that a single electric light-bulb was acceptable."

There were many such discussions.

"Did the Prophet eat Chicken?" asked someone in the middle of meal.

"A good question," said Juhayman.

So the eating stopped, and brothers posed over their copies of the Koran and the Hadith. Juhayman kept his books in a huge, locked tin box that was welded into the back of his pickup truck, and at moments like this he undid the padlock to share the contents of his traveling library. It did not take much time to track down the authority for chicken consumption: one verse from the Koran envisioned the Companions relaxing in heaven, consuming "fruits, any that they may select, and the flesh of fowls, any that they may desire."

Chicken was OK, then- the meal could resume."...........

Picturing Saudi Arabia in Words: Part 1

This quote is ascribed to Napoleon, "A picture is worth of a thousands words", but the problem with pictures are that, they only show skin-deep of reality. To see what is under the skins, we need the assistance of words. This is why books still matter, despite of ease, access, affordability and convenience of taking  and presenting, pictures and videos. The problem with words is that, they are easily manipulated and are open to interpretations. Still, the words can picture things that no camera might ever be able to ... Just for sake of comparison, I like to put two pictures of orientals side by side, one in words, and another with a camera, by legendary British female archaeologist and spy Gertrude Bell from her book, "Syria: The Desert & The Swan (Find it at the  bookshelf's history section)

"The Oriental is like a very old child. He is unacquainted with many branches of knowledge which we have come to regard as of elementary necessity ; frequently, but not always, his mind is little pre- occupied with the need of acquiring them, and he concerns himself scarcely at all with what we call practical utility. He is not practical in our acceptation of the word, any more than a child is practical, and his utility is not ours. On the other hand, his action is guided by traditions of conduct and morality that go back to the beginnings of civilisation...."

The history of South and Central Asia is shaped by great games, cold war between super-powers and now cold wars between regional powers. One of the regional power is Saudi Arabia, and it is important to learn about her, in order to understand, a lot of whys, that might arise from news of the region. As I am not an expert in the subject, I try to present some of the pictures that I get through books. So here are some pictures in words by Robert Lacey from his book, "Inside The Kingdom" (First a picture of the country's geography and history)

1. Why Al-Saud Family Matters?

"Think of central Arabia as being in three parts- the oil fields in the east, the holy cities of Mecca and Madina in the west, and largely barren desert in the middle. At the beginning of the century, and for most of the previous centuries of the Arabian history, those three geographical units were separate countries and, to some degree, cultures. It is the modern achievement of the House of Saud, through skilled and ruthless warfare, a highly refined gift for conciliation, and, most particularly, the potent glue of their Wahhabi mission, to pull those three areas together so that, by the end of twentieth century, the world's largest oil reserves were joined, sea to sea, to the largest center of annual religious pilgrimage in the world- and to their capital in the wahhahi heartland of Riyadh. That is the historical significance of the Saudi camel jockeys. If it were not for Ibn Saud and his sons, the oil fields now called Saudi would probably be another overly affluent, futuristic emirate like Kuwait or Dubai along the Persian Gulf coast, all lagoon estates and Russian hookers.... "

2. Why House of Saud adapted Wahhabism?

"Born in the Islamic, or Hijrah, year of 115 (1703-4 in the Western, Gregorian Calender), Mohammad Abdul Wahhab learned Koran at an early age. Traveling to holy cities of Mecca and Madina as a teenager, he went on to Basra, in Iraq, to continues his religious studies. By the time he came to dry and austere area of Qaseem, north of Riyadh, in A.H 1153 (A.D. 1740), the thirty-seven-year-old preacher had come to feel that the Muslims of his time has gone grievously astray. People gave superstitious reverences to domes and tombs, even to rocks, caves, and trees that were associated with holy men; they dressed luxuriously, smoked tobacco, and indulged in singing and dancing that did not accord with his own austere reading of the Koran.

Ibn Abdul Wahhab condemned these practices as shirk (polytheism). Calling on true Muslims to return to the central message of Islam, "There is no god but God," he led campaigns to stop music and to smash domes and gravestones in the name of God's Oneness. He and his followers liked to call themselves muwahhidoon, monotheists. They did not consider themselves as separate school of islamic thought- they felt they were simply going back to the basics. But their critics derisively called them Wahhabis, and many of Najd's settlements rejected preacher's puritanical attacks on their pleasures.

Then the first Wahhabi encountered Mohammad Ibn Saud, the ambitious ruler of Dariyah, a small oasis town near the even smaller oasis of Riyadh. History was made. In A.H 1157 (A.D 1733) the two Mohammads concluded a pact. Ibn Saud would protect and propagate the stern doctrines of Wahhabi mission, which made Koran the basis of government. In return, Abdul Wahhab would support the ruler, supplying him with "glory and power". Whoever championed his message, he promised, "will, by all means of it, rule lands and men."

So it proved. In the following year the preacher proclaimed Jihad, holy war, to purify Arabia, and after a series of bloodthirsty military campaigns, the Wahhabi armies swept into Mecca in April 1803 (A.H. 1218), extending Saudi authority from Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. For a moment the House of Saud controlled more territory than the fledgling United States".

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Tribute to Nelson Mandela

I may not need the approval of neuroscience to state that, experiences change behaviors (if I am not in the position to say, they change brain), as I have observed all around me, and have noticed and been aware of my own "growing up". Still, neuroscience tells us that experiences actually do change the brain structures and functions (called neuroplasticity). My experiences might change my brain, that somehow may translate in changing my behaviors. That is important to me, and might be important to some linked with me, like my siblings and close friends. And it is not just me. We all go through these processes. However, there are some men who stand out in this process than rest of us. The changes that comes through their experiences do not remain limited to their brains, or those immediately linked to them. They change the structure and functioning of institutions, and even more important the worldviews of people around the world. The bitter experiences of Apartheid South Africa  did change Mandela BUT in response, Mandela changed not only the Apartheid South Africa, but his struggles resonated across the globe to change the worldviews of people from societies, with totally different bags of experiences. I really like the way Jesse Jackson describes the changes in Mandela, "Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end faith will not disappoint." Yes, Mandela died and injustice still lives on, but so is his legacy, teachings and struggles. RIP Mandela 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Magnificent Delusions: Part 2

While reading the first chapter of the book, I felt like I am watching the "Games of Thrones TV series". I felt as Game of Thrones is not just a fiction. It is real and it has happened and is happening. The very familiar historic figures turned to appear mostly as the two characters of the series, Littlefinger and Varys. Varys who believes in the "Realm" and tries to protect it and Littlefinger who thinks of Realm as a shadow on the wall and has a Social Darwinian outlook. I felt as Littlefingers were the dominant drivers of the history in the Af-Pak region and it is just the combination of historical-geographical tragic continuity that provide a fertile soil for Littlefingers. There is a scene in the series, where Varys and Littlefinger has a conversation and Littlefinger tells Varys, “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again. The fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but refuse. They cling to the realm, or love, or the gods…illusions. Only the ladder is real. The climb is all there is. But they’ll never know this. Not until it’s too late.” I felt as Littlefinger's explanation describes very well most of the history and current situations (of course, the players)...

OK, let me come out of my feelings, and explain a little bit, why I felt so... Let me begin with Afghan story as chronologically, it comes first. This unfortunate land has never seen a period of peace. All her history, it was a battlefield. But why? The simplest answer is that, it is not a natural country, with a natural boundary. It was created via plays of superpower aka great games and is maintained by great games. Just the players have changed, nothing else. Haqqani briefly mentions the great game which created her modern boundaries: "......During the nineteenth century Britain and Russia competed for influence in Central Asia in what came to be known as the Great Game of espionage and proxy wars. Britain feared that the Russian empire would expand southward, threatening its control over India, the jewel in the British crown that had been progressively acquired at great expense over more than a century. The two empires settled on recognizing Afghanistan as a buffer between them, thus saving them from military confrontations with each other. Previously, the British had lost precious lives in their effort to directly control Afghanistan. But by accepting a neutral and independent Afghan Kingdom, they sought to pass on the burden of subduing some of the lawless tribes to a local monarch, albeit with British economic and military assistance...." Then Amir acted as a Littlefinger in subjugating the "lawless tribes" for strengthening his throne and used Afghani nations against each other which resulted into a historic animosity and distrust between Afghanistan's nations and it is still dominating her political landscape. It is the same mistrust that Afghan Loya Jirga approves US-Afghan Security Pact, to prevent the come back of Taliban and civil war, but Karzai acts as a Littlefinger and rejects their approval and calls US warning of complete withdrawal as a bluff (just for a little while to bargain for more: the ladder is real). Using the fear of Taliban for bargaining at home and outside is Littlefingers real bargaining tool both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In short, this region has been and is the real land of Westeros and Essos.

Mr. Haqqani mentions about ideological and economic troubles that baby Pakistan was facing but in lines also mentions about two early Varys and Littlefingers: "The need to justify their country at an ideological level was only one part of the challenge Pakistan's founding fathers faced; they also needed resources to sustain the country. Although some men like Liaquat and Abol Hasan Ispahani gifted some of their property to the new state and had no plans of returning to India, for several years after independence some of Pakistani elite acted as if their country was temporary. For instance, Jinnah told India's Prime Minister Nehru, through India's ambassador to Pakistan, that he wanted his house in Bombay kept in good condition so that he could retire there. Pakistan's first ambassador to India, Muhammad Ismail, assumed his responsibilities without migrating to Pakistan and at one point claimed that he had not ceased to be an Indian national by becoming Pakistan's diplomatic representative. And well-to-do Muslim politicians and officials went back and forth, trying to figure out where their careers might prosper more; some wanted to become Pakistani without losing the benefits of being Indian. It took several years for Pakistan to define its citizenship laws in regard especially to migrants or Indian refugees."....

And about US-Pak relations: "...After asking probing questions about Jinnahâ's plans for the new nation's constitution, Bourke-White sought his views of relations with the United States. Jinnah replied that America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America. He then told her: Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed, and went on to state, the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves . Russia is not so very far away. He spoke of America interest in arming Greece and Turkey and expressed the hope that the United States would pour money and arms into Pakistan as well. .......... This account of Pakistani thinking within weeks of its creation offers perspective into the vagaries of US-Pakistan relations over the last six-and-a-half decades. Amid frequent Pakistani charges of American betrayal, few Americans remember that Pakistan initiated the US-Pakistan alliance primarily to compensate for its economic and military disadvantages.".... Reading this commentary about the relation of Pak-US soon after her creation and reading today's Pakistani newspapers, I don't see anything has changed. Imran Khan (PTI) is protesting against US drone attacks by blocking NATO supply lines, launching FIR against recent drone attacks and unmasking CIA chief in Islamabad, BUT his government is also receiving aid from US more than any other province in the country.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Magnificent Delusions: Part 1

The first book that I chose to read in geology was "great geological controversies". Somehow, my gut-feeling told me that the best way to have an insight about something unfamiliar is learning about controversies in that thing. To Albert Camus, unfamiliarity is the absurdity and familiarity, however unreasonable, is meaningful. Ironically, the controversies that I am most familiar with are from, and about Pakistan, as not a day passes without some dosage of controversies that I like my countrymen get through media. In other words, I had a delusion that because of my long and regular overdoses of controversies out of Pakistan, I must have a deep knowledge of the country. However bitter it may be, I am not alone in that delusion. In fact, controversies are so familiar that we connect and communicate more through these controversies than anything else. It is how our history has evolved. Let me put this way, In the first Inaugural Meeting of the Pakistani Constituent Assembly, the founder of Pakistan promises (1) to all citizen of Pakistan: " Every one of you, no matter to what community you belong, no matter what your color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State, with equal rights, privileges and obligations. . . .While you may belong to one religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the State. We start with the fundamental principle that we are all equal citizens of the State. We should keep that in front of us as our ideal. In course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Moslems will cease to he Moslems, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the nation." Well, the time has proved that this speech was no more than wishful thinking as Moslems have not only didn't cease to be Moslems but they have refined their faiths overtime to become specialized Moslems, such as Deobandi, Brelvi, Shia, Ahle Hadith and so forth .... all united on a single agenda of inventing new controversies.... A lot of people scratch their heads to understand, what we get out of these unreasonable controversies? I think, Albert Camus has the answer for it, and that is, we draw meaning from them (That why, each group strongly believe that only their way of life is worth living and even dying for)

The purpose of this introductory paragraph was to introduce Hussain Haqqani's book, "The Magnificent Delusions". Hussain Haqqani is a former Pakistani ambassador to US that became controversial over controversial memogate case. Just like my first book in geology, as soon as I saw Haqqani's book, I just started reading it. My gut-feeling was telling me that there is some new insight in it. I have just finished the first chapter of the book but I couldn't wait, to not share the following two excerpts from the book, one about founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah (The nation has given him the title of Quaid-e-Azam: The great Leader) and the second about first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan (he is given the title of shaheed-e-Millat: The martyr of nation).

"Landlords in Karachi wanted American diplomats to rent their properties and pay in dollars. A job with the US embassy, as driver, clerk, or translator, was much sought after, and store owners pursued Americans as preferred customers. During a quiet picnic with US Ambassador Paul Alling, Jinnah and his sister Fatima suggested that the ambassador buy their property, the magnificent Flagstaff House, for his embassy. Alling politely informed the governor-general that the embassy had already obtained another property. The ambassador then sent Jinnah a gift of four ceiling fans after he complained about Karachi's sweltering heat."

"The Washington Times-Herald covered the secretary white-tie dinner on its social pages, boasting the headline, Came and Conquered. Separately, Assistant Secretary of State McGhee was impressed by Liaquat's ability to consume alcoholic drinks, forbidden by Islam, without appearing to have drunk at all. But Liaquat's social successes in Washington had to be kept a secret from his own people back home."

At the end of Chapter, Haqqani describes the assassination of Liaqat Ali Khan,

"Then, in October 1951, Liaquat was assassinated while addressing a public rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi. The lone gunman was a disgruntled Pashtun, motivated by what he perceived to be the prime minister un-Islamic attitude......"

Of course, these two excerpts are unfamiliar to us and they certainly look absurd, as the narratives of our history were composed of cherry picked events.... 

(1) Quaid's promise: Keesing's Contemporary Archive, Vol VI: pdf 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Oil Kingdom

There was a time, when the stories was simple. The world was divided into ideological blocks and countries were looked through those blocks. We live in a post-ideologue world, where contradictions make it really hard to make a sense of a country. For the time being, I am getting more convinced that exports of a country has more to say about a country than anything else. My guess is that this notion fits better to Saudi Arabia than any other country. We know only two things out of Saudi Arabia, salafism to Muslim world and oil to the rest of world . So, all I could imagine of Al-Saud family was of religious salesmen. Christopher Dickey's article blurred that perception by narrating King's long time messenger to Washington in these words, "Bandar bin Sultan smoked fine cigars and drank finer Cognac." CBS' 60 minutes documentary about oil kingdom blurs that common perception even further by showing an island of "free world" in the kingdom's conservative society where recently, the women's right to drive has become a buzz in the media. I thought, hmm, it seems interesting and I need to learn more. Meanwhile, I thought, someone else might also be interested to know more about the kingdom: 

Following is the first part of the report:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Comment

As far back as I remember, each year, the month of Muharram has been marked by mass movements in areas of world where people are aware and commemorate the events of Karbala. These movements run in both directions: there are those who want to commemorate the events of Karbala and those who react to them as per their capacities and interests either wishing demoralize them, to modify them or to limit them. One part of these movements are heated debates and interpretations. In short, irrespective of favoring or opposing it, one thing that makes this month spectacular is that, it makes all those who are aware of it, to react to it. These reactions are intellectual, cultural, spiritual and religious (and some are just habitual and psychological). Any individual, with a little sense knows that considering the depth and vastness of the reactions, it is only destined to grow and diversify. I don't want to pass any judgment on who is right or wrong. I just want to say that, you don't need to have a big-head to realize that once an idea, message or social movement reaches tipping point then it will just  grow and diversify.

There are personal experiences that shapes our instincts. I have a special soft corner for commemoration of month of Muharram and this soft corner has roots in my personal experience and this personal experience tells me that, whatever are the reactions and whatever are their levels, they serve one thing very clearly, and that is, an increase in levels of awareness (and in some, a level of commitment to the society they belong specifically, and to humanity in general). Let me give an account of this experience (on how a journey of awareness starts and how commemorating this month is so special for me),

I am not claiming that my study areas are really vast but I consider myself a voracious reader. I forget most of what I read, except the parts that are directly linked to my personal experiences and observations. In other words, reading gives me fresh eyes for my experiences and observation or make them coherent enough to become  something meaningful. What is the link of this introduction to the month of Muharram? For me, the most basic link to Muharram is:

If I had not experienced the commemorations of the events of Karbala each year, I may had a very shallow and bookish concept of justice, individualism, relation of individual to society, social trends and movements. The months of Muharram and knowledge of event of Karbala forces me to think deeper about current events and analyze them comparatively. Here, I would like to share one of the conclusions that I reached through month of Muharram:

In my early teenage, everyday, I had to bike from home to school forth and back. One thing that was getting my attention frequently was the stickers and screen prints of this handsome bearded guy, with long hairs, wearing a military beret that had a star on it, and was looking up, on the back of bicycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, cars and even walls. First I thought, he must be a local guy and wanted to have a sticker on back my bicycle too. Later, I learned that he was a revolutionary figure from Latin America known as Che . I had had to read about him to know, why he is popular in our part of world? Why people affiliate themselves with his pictures while they are mostly, either know very little or know nothing at all about him? When I learned that he was actually a doctor from Argentina, led the communist revolution in the Cuba, fought in Africa and was killed in Bolivia, then I realized, why a communist leader from Latin America is so popular in a traditional and tribal city such as Quetta (Where ethnicity, language, culture and religion are the cornerstone of identities). There were other communist leaders like Lenin, Mao and Fidel then why only Che is so popular among non-communist populations? I have a personal answer to this and I got this answer from my analysis that is coming from events in Karbala. The popularity of Che was because he was a master-revolutionary.

What do I mean by a master-revolutionary?

I borrowed the term master from fine art to elaborate an answer to one of MY BIG QUESTIONS that I have gotten from commemorating events of Karbala:

There have been countless rebellions but only very few have grown to become a revolution and majority had/have reduced into mere terrorist movements and campaigns. So, my biggest question to myself was, what directs a rebellion into a revolution and what reduces them to terrorism? I have crossed over prospects of ideology and religion a long time ago, as one can find terrorists affiliated with all sorts of ideologies (if you need references, let me know. I am avoiding them here just to keep this knol short and relevant). My conclusion is that, a rebellion led long enough by a master-revolutionary (ies) to mature, grows into revolution. Otherwise, they tend to be soon reduced to terrorism.

In art, you here the terms, old-masters and new-masters. Old masters were those renaissance artists who showed their unmatched skills in visualizing human experiences through their artwork. The new-masters on other hand are those artists who begin in footsteps of old masters and show their unmatched skills but then do not want to become just footnotes of old masters and break the rules of old masters to introduce a whole new art (that might not be pleasing but still are considered master-arts). In short, in order to become a master artist (both old and new) one must qualify to be a master artists, particularly for new masters, they have to show they qualify to break the rules (otherwise breaking lines doesn't mean anything).

Although, the actual battle of Karbala lasted only half a day, far away from any populated area, with 73 men (one survivor) at one camp and thousands of soldiers in other camp, still after 14 centuries later, people commemorate every detail of the events took place there. In a sense, it was a tiny rebellion but that rebellion never ceased to grow and it is still growing. It is growing because it was led by a person who was qualified from every perspective. Imam Hussein' grandfather (Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H) was a revolutionary man who founded Islam. His father was an Imam and Caliph and so His elder brother. He was educated by His grandfather, father and brother and actively participated in events that shaped establish this newly introduced religion into a whole system of governance. Though His rebellion was very brief but because earlier He had proved Himself in shaping this system of governance along with His father and elder brother, He was  the most qualified person to led this rebellion against the system that was going in a wrong direction. In short, if a rebellion is led by a qualified person (by a master), even if it is very brief like the day of Ashura, it still has the potential to grow.

In an age that is plagued with terrorism, my personal interpretation is that the rebellions that had reduced to terrorism, might have good reasons and even just causes but because they were/are led by people who did/do not qualify to led a rebellion, reduced them to terror campaigns, narrowed interests and policy of exclusions. Che didn't qualify because he was a trained physician but because after successful rebellion in Cuba, he didn't stick to power. He left power to take his rebellion into Africa and Latin America to liberate people there. We can disagree with his ideology but we can't ignore his qualifications that he earned by his actions.

In conclusion, the journey of awareness starts from personal experiences and study takes them into a next level of consciousness. Readings that do not have roots into personal experiences and observation end up into dustbins of unconsciousness and forgetfulness. I favor actual commemoration of events in Karbala as it provides basic experiences for those who really want to understand basic social, political and psychological events around them.

I am not just walking on clouds when I talk about the qualifications needed to lead a rebellion. I have observed/seen the conscious efforts of promoting some personalities to make them appear into having such  qualifications. If you remember the first time Obama, as first black American, with a slogan of "change" won US presidential election. The half red, half blue icon of Obama was an effort to make him appear a new revolutionary master (a new Che, if you like) and at the beginning he made efforts to outreach Muslim world. He was even awarded Nobel peace prize but by passage of time, he was consumed by politics at home and couldn't qualify to become a new master. The same happened to Ahmadinejad of Iran. His poor background, higher education, simple living and long service made him a good candidate to be promoted as a new master (against imperialism). Again he couldn't qualify as he was consumed by politics and deteriorating economy at home. A recent example is that of Mala. She is promoted by awards, a memoir and Malala day. These things are good at promoting a person but in order to qualify as a female master, she has yet to walk a long road of actual activism. I can only wish her best of luck (though my instincts do not tell me that she has an ecosystem to let her grow into a qualified person, still,  let's hope for the best).

I deliberately avoided psychological and cultural aspects of month of Muharram to keep it as earthly and neutral as I could do. The commemoration of this month has helped me to look at things beyond Platonic dialogues, to the events and collective consciousness of my own time. To me, it doesn't matter much, what are the reactions as long as they are non-violent and I do think that, these reactions do contribute to deepening and diversifying of awareness and that is in itself a great service to the relevant societies.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Even before typing a word on the screen, I started doubting my ability to write something that makes sense on the topic of doubt. Simultaneously, I doubted my inability and there were two doubts fighting with each other for domination of my head. To prove that I am "Mr. Positive" I gave myself  benefit of the doubt and started typing. They say, "Everything has a reason" and this saying is particularly "true" about the behavioral-traits, as behavioral-traits that we have inherited must have had a survival-value, otherwise it had long been perished. So, it must have been originated by hunters-gatherers groups as doubt must have allowed to check those ill-social behaviors that may have been leading to produce Mr. Negatives. But then I doubted this idea, as all Hominids form social groups and individuals in those groups struggle hard to maintain the social status and social order. "But" wait a minute, sociability is not just a great apes only trait. There are other social animals and insects among them have surpassed all others. Do ants doubt? I doubt it. But I also doubt that they don't doubt. If they farm, store food, wages wars and enslave other ants, they must also doubt as doubt is key to security and safety. What about bacteria? They also have colonies and makes slime to protect their colonies  that ruin beautiful smiles (teeth) and skins. Do they doubt? If they communicate, they must also doubt, right? Their doubts must be chemical (Yuck !!!). Then from yuck, I remembered that we also doubt chemically. As soon as we smell something foul, our doubt-system becomes alert and look for something unhealthy. We have visual doubts, anything appears disgusting from food to behaviors, our doubt-system alert us. That is natural. Does doubting the doubt is also natural?

May be doubting were easy earlier in history when people were not bombarded by information, ads and products. In our time, doubting is really expensive as it takes a lot of one's precious time in evaluating things and information that one receives and even after a lot of research one can still be in doubt that, if his decisions were right. On other hand, doubting the doubt is even more expensive as not evaluating things may cost both health and pockets.  I take a great looking piece of pinkish meat, with no visible fat in it, that is professionally sliced and then put it back, doubting it is healthy. My nose doesn't detect any foul smell, my eyes give it a thumb-up  in appearance but my brain doesn't accept these information. These meat are from vaccinated cows and they fatten you. The smell of freshly baked cakes attracts me and then I step back thinking of all those fat and sugar in them. Everything that is bottled, bagged or canned are suspicious. Even water flowing on streams that tickles my soul is doubted for some unknown contamination. These are not the biological doubts (as mentioned earlier senses do not detect something unhealthy) but are cultural doubts that we learn by learning the results of studies. Still these are the minor doubts, healthy and "approved" by the evolutionary-worldview and we can live with it.

The greater issue is however doubting the worldviews out there. As they say, three things, stupidity, language and religion have no boundaries and there are no limits to them. And no worldview is immune of these three things. They are either constructed to support them or oppose them and both in opposition or support, these three things obscure a worldview to unrecognizable level. It is a historic fact that any theology and theory that were adapted by people in power have resulted in burning books, cities and people. From religion to science to socio-economic theories, all have records of doing stupid things. In short, we have learned to doubt the worldviews more seriously than a canned food or piece of nice looking meat in a store. I come again to my "Mr. Positive" (still remember that stupidity and language have no limits ;) that culturally, we are in age of doubts and we learn to keep our doubts, but Mr./Ms. positive advises us that to give things the benefit of doubts (Reasons? that is something to.....)  

Monday, October 21, 2013


"By words the mind is winged." - Aristophanes

No other show can parallel in freshness and originality than kids' innocent acts and talks, as whatever they do, they do mostly spontaneously (with heart). And of course, our responses are also spontaneous. I was reading the writings of kids on this page that the following post made me laugh spontaneously, 

As Aristophanes says, mind is winged by words. My mind was winged by the analogy of egg to unborn and thought of Alferd Packer who was accused of eating five prospectors that he was supposed to guide. It is not the act of cannibalism by Alfred Packer that is connected to above post, but the comment of the judge who sentenced him (Most probably, the judge's comment was spontaneous). The judge passed the remarks, "There was only six Democrats in all of the Hinsdale County and you ate five of them" (Source : John Train's Most Remarkable Occurrences: p.24). Reading the comment of the judge (My reaction wasn't spontaneous here), I am scratching my head, "who was the sixth democrat in the county ? the judge or the Alferd Packer himself?" If it was Alfred Packer himself, then after his sentence, there was no democrat out there in the county"...

These days the Halloween-themed decorated front yards constantly reminding me that, this is Halloween season and I thought, OK, this light post justifies its place in this season.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Two Comments

Usually, I shy away from reactionary comments but sometimes a news is so important to me that I just comment on it anyway. So here are two news that I wanted to comment on,

For long, I have followed the debates of socialism and capitalism just to understand their functioning but all along, I had a firm belief that a healthy mind and healthy body is a prerequisite for proper functioning of any person and hence education and health services should be available to all, either free or with a price tag so low that everyone could easily access them without suffering. I really have a bad feeling when there is a price tag in these two areas because it creates classes of mind and bodies based on the affordability that give advantage one over other (and make a large population suffer for things that are beyond their control: like their birth in a poor family or community). It doesn't matter you call it partial-socialism, hybrid, or whatever else.

President of Third Way, Jonathan Cowen in his article "Middle Class Gets Wise" provides the statistics from National Center For Educational Statistics for his argument that in current economic recession, the American Middle Class, instead of waiting for system to rescue them, has turned to education to cope with this hard economic time. For me, it is a big news because I am getting more convinced that memory (and in case of society, collective memory) is more real in making decisions than paradigms. To me, turning of Middle Class American to education for help is indicative of a core memory that education is more plastic and adaptable to situations than systems and beliefs sets. I hail it with all my heart.

The second news is related to Mr. Muhaqiq's reply to Mr. Fouladi. Irrespective of differences in point of views, and right and wrong discussions, it is in itself a very important event. It is important as it informs people and make leaders more responsible. I hope this trend grows on as conversations increase understanding and it is the most needed thing in a society where egos are bigger than lives and welfare of poeple. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Eid

Ink on Paper 
These days, it is neither cold nor hot, a perfect weather just like spring season. The most notable part of this time of year is the change in colors of leaves that gives one a tingling sense that Nature is falling in Love (Changes in fall seasons are like changes during loveria. Changes are mostly resisted except the changes, when one is falling in love. The changes are rapid and beautiful, and these are shared properties in both fall season and loveria). She has started wearing different colored leaves, at times, she dances in wind and spread leaves all around, as she cheers the feelings that are making her restless. If you are walking in woods, you feel as if, Nature is in playful mood and she winks at you regularly by blocking and letting sun rays passes in narrow bands through tree canopies. Your ears make you slow down your paces, while you are walking on dry leaves, as it feels like, you are walking on Nature's apron. When you reach in creek, you feel like you are in arms of Nature as the cooler shades make you feel the fresh breaths of her making your forehead shrink, your eyes expand, your brain alert and spines stiffened.  

I pray that this Eid will be blessed with safety and joy, and everyone will enjoy the sensational touches of Nature.  Ameen. Happy Eid to all friends and visitors :) 

Owning a piece of art

Yes, it is political but it is not a political commentary or a political opinion. It  is simply a statement about the events that are making people concerned and seriousness is not always a good response to the concerns ....  (Ink on Paper)
So Yesterday, Bansky was out to surprise New Yorkers  by selling his original arts anonymously just for 60 dollars. Bansky and Robbo's rivalry and their graffiti war on the streets of London evolved the counter-culture graffitis into street art. New Yorkers who appreciate street arts, might be sad by losing the opportunity to own a piece of Bansky's original art. Well frankly speaking, I loved to be there by chance and could own one, but there is a Hazaragi saying, "Fish is fresh, whenever you fish it out water (means, no time is late enough). I thought, well, if I really want to have one, I can create one for myself? What can be more pleasing and original than a piece of painting that is born out of my own idea, time and by dirtying my own hand? I spent an hour to have one for myself. Here, I REALLY own one for free (if free means just money , as time is not free at all) that will stay on my blog's wall and it is an Eidi to myself. Happy Eid :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dolly Bird

One thing that surprises me again and again, is the comfort and security that I get from my mother. If I am feeling down and is talking to her, I try very hard to conceal my feelings (try to pose very strong) just to keep her happy, but then I don't know, how she senses my unexpressed feelings and makes me open up my heart and get comfort and a new energy. Whenever, I feel down, I know where I have to seek refuge. Whenever, I need  an inspiration, I know, where to get energy. In no one else presence, I feel more of myself as in her presence. May be that is why, I have formed this idea that love is where one starts acting as a kid. If an adult behaves as an adult in front of another, to me, that means there is partial trust and they don't feel comfortable enough to be themselves in front of each other. Sometimes, I encounter with real examples that strengthen my faith that even modernity has not shaken up that affection called motherhood.

It was the afternoon of first day of Ramadhan and I was returning home. Having one of the worst days of life accompanying with exhaustion from long travel, walks, long waiting, thirsty and hungry, I took the train 7 to go to Time Square (From where, I had to take bus to binghamton). Most of people looking tired and busy in their heads. I too was staring to rapidly passing buildings and then I was not seeing anything. My mind was rebooting itself to settle down the restless thoughts that were keep rushing in, and in the process, it was avoiding information from my eyes. Then like, one awakes from dream, I start seeing things again. The first thing that I saw were a woman in her fifties (apparently) and a girl in her twenties. May be, I felt that my looking is not normal, that is why, I put down my head to not see the girl. I was fasting and it is required from one to maintain a reasonable control over mind and body. But more than control over body and mind, it was strange fear from beauty of the girl that forced me to avoid seeing her. She was unbelievably, so beautiful that I got scared that I may get a permanent image of her in my mind. Her beauty was not a customized beauty as poets build out of perfect parts. It was more like a play of good proportion garnished with a comfortable smile that were emitting freshness and satisfaction from her face. In contrast, the woman in her fifties had a prominent history of hard life that were visible in all of her appearance. She had tightly covered her hairs with a kerchief and had rolled back her sleeves. Sun-tanned, frowny face and heavy arms were giving her an impression of a strong woman who has been wrestling with hard realities of life since her early times. I looked up again to this pair of ladies, forgetting my own worries for a while. The pretty young lady had squeezed herself against older lady and was rubbing herself against her like chicks hid themselves into feathers of hen. For me, it was really interesting to see a pretty young lady relies so heavily on an aged woman. Again, to avoid that pretty face, I renewed rebooting my mind to keep it able, to cope with the reality of my own life.

With strong jolts, train stopped and a lot of people started moving out. Without reading name of the station, I stood up and followed the crowd and just close to the door of the train, a hand took my arm, "Are you going to Time Square?" ... I looked back. It was that dolly bird. I just nodded my head. "The next station is your stop." and then, "Let's go mom" and both ladies stepped out (May be she had guessed from my exhaustion that I had come out of city). She was a totally different girl, unlike the girl in train who was looking insecure and dependent on her mother, she was a confident girl (apparent from her body language was not a chick but of a dolly bird). Just the image of a mom really freshen up my mind. Mother is the only one who creates an ecosystem around her that lets her kids stay kids. No matter, how confident and smart one grows into, her presence let that kid show up. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


It is a pleasant coincidence that the world has changed a lot, and so did I. You might think, well that happens all the time. What is the news in it? Yes, change is the only constant but when one sees the world from his/her history of changes, he becomes aware of the transitions that is happening and wait for the right moments (even if the experience is bitter sometimes). Let me give an example to clarify. I come across of a lot of debates regarding religion and secularism (and also evolutionary science/rationalism), and sometimes I want to jump in, but one thing stop me of doing so, and that is the reactionary kinds of comments. On "global" level of debates, I watch/read "Richard Dawkins and Co, Mehdi Hassan and Slavoj Zizek who have a clearer perspectives on issues. On national level, I watch/read Hassan Nisar, a range of conservative/religious scholars (not mentionable name because of lack of a clearer perspective, so better in put in group) from moderates and sometimes extremists. Although each are on opposite side, two things are common among them, being largely reactionary and a reductionism of core concepts in their relative fields.

To elaborate, how a personal history of changes provides a perspective, let me share my personal experience. Teenage is a very sensitive time in any person and experiences in this time of age determines his personality. The first time, I encountered with serious social concepts, such as individualism, existentialism in philosophy, cubism, surrealism and dadaism in arts and deconstructionism in literary criticism, my immediate response was "yuk". How sick are these ideas and only sick minds must have thought and developed them. Then I was wondering, how people have welcomed these concepts? Although my curiosity was pushing me to immerse myself deep and deeper in whatever writings were available to me to understand them better, but at the same time, I had to develop a personal paradigm, so I not only save myself, but also have a reasonable ground to counter them (I didn't throw my these early efforts and gathered them in the form of an ebook- To Socrates- I made it available on this blog. Although, it is poorly written and poorly organized, but I cherish it the most, as it provides me a baseline so I could track my mental development. It is like a personal history). My

The knol is under construction, please check back to read the rest ...Thanks 

Monday, September 23, 2013


There were a total of four people working in the workplace, two shoemakers and two apprentices. It was a tradition in the handcraft shoemaking business that each shoemaker had apprentice/s learning the trade. The business owner was a self-made person. He had started as an apprentice and had spent many years to learn the trade, many more years worked really hard to save enough money to start his own business. He had hired another shoemaker to increase his productions. That afternoon, they had a friend visiting them. The cozy shop, hot tea and casual talks had created a pleasant environment. Their conversation was interrupted by entrance of two men. One of the man was the father of business owner and the other man was his friend that he had brought to show the achievements of his son. 

The father introduces his son to his friend, "The one sitting in the center is my son."... Then he points to the other shoemaker and tells his friend, "He is my son's servant, and the guy sitting next to him is my son's servant's servant"... Out of respect for the elderly man, others stay quiet (despite of getting offended by the introduction) but the visiting friend replies back, "Uncle, even if this guy is servant's servant, still he is in the business. Look at poor me, I am not even in the business!!!" .... 

I don't remember any passing week in recent years that Taliban haven't blooded it with lives of innocent people in the Af-Pak region. This Sunday, the Christian community at Peshawar was their target. Beside anger and grief, one more thing that is common in the aftermath of attacks is helplessness of the citizen. They protest for the killings but they know well that, the government is either complacent or scared of Taliban.Taliban is free to attack at their will at any place and any time. People are helpless against both government and Taliban but they have to channel their anger anyway, so they express their anger in unique ways (that hold some truth in them). A general expression of anger is cursing Taliban, especially calling them, the servants of the servants. When I hear that Taliban is servants of gulf states, that in turn are the servants of US and UK, I remember the introduction in the shoemaking shop. At least, Taliban and government is the servants of servants. The people are not even in the business. All they can is to curse the attackers and their government and helplessly wait for the next attack. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Childhood Subjects

Flowers, 19 x 12 cm, ink on paper 

Roses, 21 x 16 cm, ink on paper 

Birds, 18 x 13 cm, ink on paper

Today, I went to Walmart, to find some sort of quadrate for my upcoming field trips, and there I stuck at crafts sections ending up buying colors and brushes. As soon as I came home, I couldn't resist but trying them out. When I was kid and got my first bicycle, I couldn't wait for the morning out of excitement. Identical feelings were there, so I let the color celebrate it and chose the simple childish subjects :) The surreal artists let their unconscious take control of their hands. I guess an unexplored area is painting the meditativ perceptions. The childish subjects are meditative in the sense, children have less distracting thoughts and their imaginations are less judged by their rationale thoughts. These are not meditative paintings, but I may try out soon. Let's see ... 

Friday, September 6, 2013


Sunflower  : Ink on paper 21 x 27 cm
Sunflower seeds are considered to be useful in improving short term memory by providing essential Vitamin B complex, however, my fascination with this plant is more than its seeds. I was always looking to its flowers as majestic flowers that get their inspirations from sun. At its core, its flower is simple like old black and white photographs, yet open and highly productive (large number of seeds). Despite of having shallow roots and hollow stems stands tall and give big flowers. In short, it deprive its roots and stems to reach out sunlight and maximize its productive parts, the flowers and seeds.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Pride: 12 x 22 cm, Ink on Paper 
Pattern is all that matters. A naturalist like Darwin observes the Nature, and impressed by its diversity struggles all his life to find a pattern. Once,  he thinks, he has something that make sense, he calls it evolution. Picasso, an artist, on other hand, tried to find a style in Nature and tired by trying to find a particular style in it, declared, “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.” A modern trend is finding a pattern in choices of colors and strength of strokes to interpret the feelings of the artists. As emotions do not have a style or pattern, an artist can't force himself to be in a particular mood (called style) and let his hand to be in control of his subconscious mind (if that is something that do exist). 

Monday, September 2, 2013


Resurrection: 17 x 18 Crayons on paper 

Who Says, Economy is in Trouble?

One of the worst habits, I am struggling with is that, at times, I become inconsiderate and turn a casual conversation or discussion into arguments. One of this awkward moment was, my argument with a Bengali student who was doing research on economics. "We can change the world ... Let’s believe in it; let’s make it happen so that someday soon we will visit the museum to see poverty because we will never see poverty in society. It does not belong in a civilized society." These inspiring words of Muhammad Yunus topped my mind, when the student sitting next to me, introduced himself as a Bengali student doing research in economics, and I couldn't stop myself to ask him about the success rate of microcredits in Bangladesh, and the template that it can offer for others to build on. He stared at me in puzzlement and replied, "It is terrible, it is a failure". I realized that my knowledge of economics is not credible, as it is based on second-hand writings (reports, they call it, I guess), so I tried to bring in a more credible source, "But, last year, I attended a conference at UN headquarters and the Bengali ambassador, as chief guest of the conference was asking the rest of world to learn and copy the successes of Bangladesh in microcredit and empowering of women?". "Of course, he would boast about it. It is his job to convince the world that all is well, so people come and invest in his country. He will be doing a disservice to his country, if he tells the truth". he replied, while his intelligence was appeared to be shining through his eye glasses. Impressed deeply as I was, I wanted to be enlightened by His presence, and asked this time, "The Indian rupee is also falling in value and Pakistan's economy is a total mess. What do you think, is the basic problem with South Asian countries?" "A bunch of problems?" he answered back. "Can you elaborate, please?" I asked him, hoping some great solutions. "I depends" he answered by being very terse. I tried to change the question, hoping I get some details, "So, does your research suggests some specific solutions to the bunch of problems?". "Yes, a bunch of solutions". His aphoristic answers made me impatient. I thought, because economists are heavily obsessed with statistics, I can't expect from him to give me answers in the form of bullet points but instead scattered points, somehow linked to a straight or a curved line. And as, I am not good at reading statistics, so I should bring some examples and he might provide explanations that I can understand. This time, I asked, "As you know, Pakistan has experimented with nationalization, privatization, microcredits and mega-projects over her short life history, but none has proved to be working?" From his look, I understood that my answer was very naive. "There is no economic solution for the economy of South Asian countries. The problem is not with economy, but with bad politics, at the core of them corruption". I felt somehow relieved as now, there was no chance of asking any further questions. Everyone has to wait for politicians to become good, as unless, there is bad politics, nothing is going to work (What a relief ;)

I had some doubts, when he claimed that all economic troubles are rooted in bad politics, but the following news cleared all my doubts and proved that my economist friend was right (he should be as his knowledge was first-hand : research ;)

Taliban has really an effective government and has proved to be really good at politics, as the news report is suggesting. Their economy is flourishing rapidly, and now they can't rely just on abducted chartered accountants to monitor their revenues from taxation, ransom money, smuggling and blood-money but are hiring chartered accountants. I am really convinced that good politics result in economical-leaps and our future is really bright, as Taliban is appearing to be the light at the end of tunnel.  

(For friends, who might get angry: Please don't get angry. Relax and enjoy it, as it is a sarcastic writing :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Too Close, Too Far

Water Color on Paper, 18 x 16 cm (Practically, we also treat many human groups as Invasive Species under the titles of minorities, others...etc)

Too Close, Too Far 2, Ink and Crayons on Paper, 23 x 17 cm (Practically, we also treat many human groups as Invasive Species under the titles of minorities, others...etc) 
There is a mountain that neither flood, nor wind can move. A few kilometers down the mountain, there is dust that are originated from the same mountain, but are at the mercy of wind and water. Some day, these dust particles will become a mountain. This is part of a process, we known as rock cycle. There is nothing special in it, except the stories that time imprint in them in the form of rock features and fossils, and we read these stories as earth history. There is a man called Nelson Mandela, the most respected, among world leaders, who is struggling with lung infection (tuberculosis). Doctors are trying to kill the bacteria that are feeding on his lung tissues. People around world are concerned for his health and pray for his recovery. Bacteria are thought to be the oldest life form on earth and all other life forms originated from bacteria. It doesn't matter, how much we value men and care for them, they were once bacteria and they will turn into bacteria (decomposed). It is just the story one writes with his/her in his life time that remains and are in reality valued. The same is true about life forms. They have the same origin and are dependent on each other. It is just our perceptions that creates differences of values.

It was my second time, that I was hearing the term invasive plants. The man who was educating us on local ecology , lectured us about importance of native plants and the dangers of invasive plants overtaking them, and then asked us to remove the invasive plants. Within minutes, everyone wearing gloves and armed with spades and shovels starting uprooting plants. For a while, I followed the crowd and then stopped, as I remembered my conversation with the ecologist, the first time, I took part in uprooting invasive plants. I asked him, "why we are supposed to interfere with nature?"... "The invasive plants are introduced accidentally by men and are harming the local population of plants".  he replied. "But isn't evolution supposed to be a phenomenon of accidents and competition?" In fact, what we were doing was artificial selection and we were thinking that we are doing an ecological service. Artificial selection is not "Natural Selection" in the sense that, it is based on human interests and values. Our artificial selection of pets, for example are more based on social trends and sometime, social status. 

We talk about our values and systems and values and systems of others and have created a geography of values. In our eyes, men that born in the geography of our values are more valued that are born in a geography of a "foreign values". Napoleon has rightly said, "Geography is destiny". The fact is, we don't value, what we call facts and value what we have constructed. We accept, evolutionary theory as fact, but then then put our values based on our social constructs. Even further, we distort the events (facts) by constructing stories or our versions of interpretations to convince ourselves that we are better than others.

In short, we are too close, if we want to, and are too far, again if we wish so. All contradictions, all differences are nothing more than our wants and wishes. It might seems just a claim (or babbling), but if we seriously deconstruct the social constructs either by facts, or a thought process, this won't be just a claim. Recently, I come across deconstruction of social construct by a thought process. I didn't agree with it, but I liked it and want to share it (hope, you may also enjoy reading it),

" Meeting God

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that's when you met me.

"What... what happened?" You asked. "Where am I?"

"You died," I said, matter-of-factly. No point mincing words.

"There was a... a truck and it was skidding..."

"Yup." I said.

"I... I died?"

"Yup. But don't feel bad about it. Everyone dies." I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. "What is this place?" You asked. "Is this the afterlife?"

"More or less," I said.

"Are you god?" You asked.

"Yup." I replied. "I'm God."

"My kids... my wife," you said.

"What about them?"

"Will they be alright?"

"That's what I like to see," I said. "You just died and your main concern is your family. That's good stuff right there."

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn't look like God. I just looked like some man. Some vague authority figure. More of a a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

"Don't worry," I said. "They'll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn't have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved." "To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it's any consolation, she'll feel very guilty for feeling relieved."

"Oh," you said. "So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?"

"Neither," I said. "You'll be reincarnated."

"Ah," you said. "So the Hindus were right."

"All the religions are right in their own way," I said. "Walk with me."

You followed along as we strolled in the void. "Where are we going?"

"Nowhere in particular," I said. "It's just nice to walk while we talk."

"So what's the point, then?" You asked. "When I get reborn, I'll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won't matter?"

"Not so!" I said. "You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don't remember them right now."

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. "Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It's like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it's hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you've gained all the experiences it had."

"You've been a human for the last 34 years, so you haven't stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for longer, you'd start remembering everything. But there's no point doing that between each life."

"How many times have I been reincarnated then?"

"Oh, lots. Lots and lots. And into lots of different lives." I said. "This time around you'll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 A.D."

"Wait, what?" You stammered. "You're sending me back in time?"

"Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from."

"Where you come from?" You pondered.

"Oh, sure!" I explained. "I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there's others like me. I know you'll want to know what it's like there but you honestly won't understand."

"Oh." You said, a little let down. "But wait, if I get reincarnated to other places in time, could I have interacted with myself at some point?"

"Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own timespan, you don't even know its happening."

"So what's the point of it all?"

"Seriously?" I asked. "Seriously? You're asking me for the meaning of life? Isn't that a little stereotypical?"

"Well, it's a reasonable question." You persisted.

I looked in your eye. "The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature."

"You mean mankind? You want us to mature?"

"No. Just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature, and become a larger and greater intellect."

"Just me? What about everyone else?"

"There is no one else," I said. "In this universe, there's just you, and me."

You stared blankly at me. "But all the people on Earth..."

"All you. Different incarnations of you."

"Wait. I'm everyone!?"

"Now you're getting it." I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

"I'm every human who ever lived?"

"Or who will ever live, yes."

"I'm Abraham Lincoln?"

"And you're John Wilkes Booth." I added.

"I'm Hitler?" You said, appalled.

"And you're the millions he killed."

"I'm Jesus?"

"And you're everyone who followed him."

You fell silent.

"Every time you victimized someone," I said, "You were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you've done, you've done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you."

"Why?" You asked me. "Why do all this?"

"Because someday, you will become like me. Because that's what you are. You're one of my kind. You're my child."

"Whoa." You said, incredulous. "You mean I'm a god?"

"No. Not yet. You're a fetus You're still growing. Once you've lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born." 

"So the whole universe," you said. "It's just..."

"An egg of sorts." I answered. "Now it's time for you to move on to your next life."

And I sent you on your way.

 - Meeting God was originally posted in "Philosophy Circle"  accessed on 9/1/2013 -

What I liked in "Meeting God" is its deconstruction of the social constructs, that somehow, we are superior than others because of geography of values. It is not the geography of values that make us more valuable, but personal values that earn after dying many times in our life times. Every time, we are broken, we re-emerge with new set of values, that born out of our realizations of our shortcomings and mistakes. Every time, the old-self dies, the new-self becomes a better person. Every time, an old society dies, a new better society emerges. What I didn't like, in the "Meeting God" is the concept of growth of fetus to become god (perfection is not the aim, development is). I don't feel easy with the concept of perfection (although, earlier during my teenage, I was obsessed with it and had an idea of "elysium" as an utopian society). The concept of perfection, magnify our imperfection and increase our intolerance and do not let us to be accepting us and others, as they are. I usually blame social constructs, not because they are human-made, but because they are based on the concepts of perfection and lead to uneasiness and unhappiness. The idealization of our appearances, our lives, our desires, values and our notions, and expectations from others are all based on social constructs, that are seeded in the concept of perfection.