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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Inequality and Jugaad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Return of Walkers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

I stayed silent...

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

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

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

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

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

"Who were they?" I became curious.

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

That Weird Aha Moment :P

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth: This is madness.

Captain Jack Sparrow: This is politics. 

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

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Idealism

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

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

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Quick Story For A Friend

Here is a quick story for a friend:

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

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

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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Army and the Poeple

Mastung, Balochistan: The artist portrays terrorist attacks on Pilgrims
Taliban attacked army in Bannu and Rawalpindi, and army swiftly responded with aerial bombings on their hideouts (So detecting, locating and eliminating enemies in remote and lawless places as North Waziristan and Afghan border is not a problem for Army). In comparison, we see regular suicide attacks and executions of pilgrims and passengers on the same highway, on the same place for more than a decade. The place is called Mastung, and it is just a conglomerate of some small villages and  a small town in the immediate neighborhood of provincial-capital-city Quetta, which is one of the largest Army cantonment in the country (It is not a remote place like North Waziristan) and yet, it appears that these terrorists have license to kill at will (As they openly claim and campaign for the murders and vow to continue their mission of cleansing, give regular press conferences, have offices around the city, do make open hate speeches and do political businesses). What this dual behaviors imply to people, especially, when people hear everyday about Jihadi forces as strategic assets, strategic depth (even if it is denied verbally, the actions speak otherwise), politicians keep rationalizing "jihad" against citizen and sometimes against law-enforcement agencies, the financial aid of extremists and the country by cheap oil and charities from gulf monarchs? Aren't these behaviors say to people that there are three classes of people, the real assets is army, the strategic assets is jihadi forces and people are at the disposal of these assets to use, whatever serve best their interests. It is definitely not the matter of incapability of government in general, and there can't be any question about the capability of army in particular, but apparently, the class mentality (even a tacit form of caste mentality). Only the lives of army, the people from privileged communities in seats of power, and the jihadi assets are valued. The rest of people's lives have no value and can be sacrificed whatever serve their interests. It just make this idea look real that it is not the people who own the country but the army (of course these words make us feel bad as for long we had cherished the army and letting go this feeling is not easy, but as they say, there is no escape but to submit to reason)

Right now, that I am typing these words, it is 5:30 AM in Quetta, and men, women and children are sitting on the streets, next to coffins of victims of a suicide bombing, in a sit-in protest (They have been there since yesterday and have vowed to sit there until army takes action against terrorists). It is the third of these kinds of sit-in protests. For last decade, both provincial and federal governments have made promises on  multiple occasions but people have yet to see any action against perpetrators. Each time that government ease off  the people of Pakistan with the promises just to forget them soon is only making this feeling more strong that the people is not asset of the country, and should not think of themselves to be equal to army and to the jihadi terrorists. The media laud the people for their peaceful and nonviolent protests despite their losses, but for how long and how much second-class citizens (modern word for lower castes) should pay for their patience?

They say, "In order to catch alligators, you need to drain the swamp" but there are reports that billions of rupees funneled through banks to terrorists each month. When terrorists are killing people with ease of mind, knowing there is no government to check on them, and they get billions each month, then people can only expect more lethal and brutal attacks. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Dialogue On Hazaragi Language : An Opinion

                             Rob standing next to his mud-oven with an engraved Greek Letter pi 
Almost a decade ago, we had a discussion about Hazaragi culture, and one of the friends, who was about 25-30 years older than rest of us, told us about some characters that his mother used to engrave on the mud-cooking stoves, and that, those characters had resemblances to Chinese characters. He had asked his mother what those characters mean, and why she is engraving them? Her reply was that she had learnt this from her mother, and don't know the reason. It was a tradition that had survived by passing from one generation to next generation until mud-cooking stoves were replaced by oil and gas stoves. It was his opinion that those characters may had been some Buddhist or Shamanistic prayers or talisman that predated Islam and adoption of Persian language, and somehow managed to survive until his mother's generation. The characters may had been changed over time by copying and individuation processes, but they were there. Since that time, I have been looking for those mud-cooking stoves first hand, and the only place that I hoped to find them were in Hazarajat, but I have never gotten a chance to visit Hazarajat. May be some friends from Hazarajat could verify this and document those characters. Alternately, it is also possible that those characters were just some decorations and had nothing to do with history or ancient culture. Only documentation and research can bring them to the light (if they exist, because it is all based on narration of a single person). I put these two pictures as examples that even in our time, there are individuals (like above picture) who engrave things that interest them on things they build (like some sort of personal signature, tattoo or motto), or it could be just a traditional way of putting trademarks (below picture), still we can't rule out that those mud-cooking-stove engravings had some linkage with a historical practice or an ancient language (anything is possible) 

A traditional Example (Japanese): Setsu engraving in the mud-stove from setsu Farm 
The reason that I started this knol by mentioning a lost tradition of engraving characters on mud-cooking stoves is to point towards something, that in my opinion has to be included in the ongoing debate about Hazaragi language on social media. People who argue that Hazaragi is a language and those who argue that it is just a dialect of Farsi have some good points, and I definitely enjoyed reading them, but I think, what matters even more is to understand that language is something of a daily usage by people. Let's for sake of argument suppose that Hazaragi is a distinct language, how long will it survive? The reason that I am asking this question is that each year 25 languages are disappearing. Yes, currently, there are few million people, who speak in Hazaragi, but looking to rising rate of migrations and urge for adaption of global languages make the future of the language look very grim. Language is not a historical artifact or a historical building that could be preserved by putting them in books. It is a tool that people use on daily basis (I recommend to read this BBC article: Are dying languages worth saving?). The replacement of mud-stoves by oil, gas and electric stoves, the tradition of engraving mud-stoves with characters have died. It is a very natural process. When we were kids, we had tens of games that we were playing on the streets, but now computers games have replaced those games. You can document those games but you can't make children play those games instead of computer games. It is how cultures evolve. Technologies and globalization make us constantly learn new things and replace our traditional tools. Fearing technologies and globalization is not a solution but understanding how things work and adaption is the solution. If Hazaragi is a language and it has to survive, then it has to grow to remain a tool that people continue to use it on daily basis. Otherwise writing a few poems, a few stories or making a few dramas won't make it relevant for long as billions of more interesting, entertaining and useful contents in global languages are competing for times of the people.

Now let's suppose that Hazaragi is a dialect of Farsi and its usage by people expands, it won't take it long that it will become a distinct language. As I said before, the most important thing is that we have not to miss the point that language is a tool of daily usage. The only way that its usage can grow is that people have to feel the need to use it. Take the example of English for example. It has grown to become global language because the center for technologies, sciences, global trade and politics are in the English speaking areas. To make it more clear, although English has grown to become a global language, yet, the classy and artistic expressions are  borrowed from French, the expressions for law, wisdom and scientific terminologies are borrowed from Latin and Greek, a number of mathematical words from Arabic, words for natural well-being and fitness from Buddhist and Chinese traditions, philosophical words from German, Italian words for stage and performances, and so on. These words didn't enter into English because some academicians planned to do so. It happened because Greeks pioneered Philosophy and Sciences, Romans mastered laws, French have made fashion and sophistication their trademark, Chinese have masterfully balanced the mental and physical health in their cuisine, exercises and philosophies. Please don't take me wrong. I am not suggesting that Hazaragi will survive or become a distinct language only if we do what Greeks, Chinese and Romans did. Instead, I am stressing on the point that a language can't survive on its own. It needs distinct things to be expressed in it, in order for it to become distinct. If we keep developing indigenous traditions in arts, literature, food, sports and on that is distinct to us, we will need expressions for them as distinct, and that is how a language will be able to stay relevant for daily usage and can grow to become distinct.

One more point to support my argument. Hazaras were living in Hazarajat since their origin with total blackout of history, and there are only few things that made them come to light, The resistance of Hizb Wahdat, Buddhas of Bamiyan and nonviolent protests of and for Quetta. Similarly, just the existence of a language is not a guarantee of its survival in the future. It needs distinct things to make it distinct, and it needs important things to become important.

To further my point, take example of India and Pakistan. Pakistan is partitioned from India on the basis of two nations theory (Although Hindu and Muslims of subcontinent are racially same but culturally they are two different nations). After partition, the film industry was also divided. The Indian film industry made better films and despite of governmental bans on Indian movies, they were widely watched in Pakistan and now the Indian film industry have practically killed the nation theory. Pakistani youths listen, sing, dress, act and speak the language of Indian movies.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Where Is My Glasses?

Impressed by the technological leaps, naturally, I was also looking to the worldviews as futuristic and filled with ambitions of conquering Universe. No doubt, naive are the impressed, and so was I. But the good news is that naivety is not a permanent damage. It is a temporary blindness of imagination, and if that is too much, I can concede to call it temporary seizure of imagination, or as an alternative I can call it poverty of imagination. Thanks to thousands of years of inherited-gossips, we can be poor at anything, but not words, and thankfully, I can use it lavishly without fearing that one day, I am going to run out of it. They are certainly, not of those natural resources that can't be renewed (so there is no worries about any carbon-taxation or facing protests of activists), and they are definitely going to inflate like fiat-money (You have to guess the rest as it is becoming too political). I hope you are getting it by now, that why am I asking for my glasses at the title of this knol?. I am going out of focus too soon, and need my eye-glasses to come back to the point, I started. 

OK, back to the starting point, I was so impressed by the technological advances that when first time, I read about Nietzsche declaring that "God is dead", I thought, wow, certainly, there is going to something mind-blowing. I have yet to understand, the invisible God, and philosophers have killed Him a century ago. Now, I was naively looking for something beyond God, bigger, better, mightier and smarter and ....etc. As I dig in more, I found, hey, am I going to the wrong direction? Is it just me having this problem (because I got a poor eye-sight) or there are other people also like me, who have orientation problem? When God was alive in the philosophers' minds, humans were looking for themselves in the image of God, but after killing Him, they are looking for traces of themselves in millions of animals, plants and in-between organisms. Hey, isn't that like we are walking backwards instead of forward. I had heard, when a person or a nation becomes old (In words of street boys, close to other side than this side), and can't see any hope in the future, then seeing into future becomes painful, and he starts looking into past, starts fantasizing his past, glorify it and start liking to live there. Whenever, he faces a difficult time, he looks back and sees his glorious youths, with all those tops that he had conquered, those jubilant moments with outburst of happiness, or his old kingdom of youths, where he had no worries, and feels better. One who has fallen into love of past, don't need any kind of morphine for any pain. Isn't that chronic-disease of Muslim world? All their assertion is to recreate the past, as their present and future is too painful and unlivable? (In fact, they are so scared of their present and future, that they miss no opportunity of destroying the present -boooom- and see those who try to take them forward as traitors, and do not hesitate to wipe those kafirs -grrrr-). I have to correct the Marx and say, past is the strongest morphine ever evolved or can be created. It can affect billions to a point of no chance for recovery. Again, where is my glasses? 

You may argue, your body, organisms, rocks, lands, water and atmophere and everything natural holding the real history and the rest are just social constructs. I certainly agree with that. There is no escape from facts, but technologies are not history, they are constructs. OK, I take back my arguments and say, there is disconnect and widening gap between technologies and our world-views. Technologically, we are moving forward, and intellectually, we are moving back. Oh, right, that is what Picasso painted. See, I need my glasses. I go back again and again to Picasso and each time, see something new there, that I had missed previous times. I can't escape not be impressed both while looking forward and looking backward. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Stayed Silent

He was really enthusiastic to take me to the hotel that he was taking his daily lunches. He explained, "It is the proportion of onion and tomato that determine, whether a gravy is going to be sweet or sour. The key to good cooking is to keep the track of proportions" Although, most of his tips and stories were repetitive, as I had heard them countless times (Occasionally, he was giving some rare insights about life, that proved to be valuable times and again to me), but he was so enthusiastically telling them that, it didn't matter to me, what he was talking about. I just wanted to listen to him. His talks were like music. You had to focus on the rhythms than lines. I was sure, the same is going to be true about his choice of the hotel, and I wasn't really going there to taste the food. I just wanted to see the satisfaction in his eyes. I just wanted to see him taking pride in touring me into his world. That mattered to me more than anything else. As we entered the hotel, I immediately noticed why he liked this place. There were couple of his friends that greeted him in their own style (using trade language) The cook was almost the same age as he was. The hotel was one of the tens of ordinary hotels around the city. There wasn't anything special to the hotel. The worn-wooden benches, large wooden double-doors that were hinged to wooden frame and opened against outside walls, the soot-black ceiling, a raised place for cook and his utensils. Everyone were talking with everyone else, not just with persons sharing the same table, but across the tables. The cook and the waiter were not only good listeners but also active participants. The topics were shifting quickly. I was so comfortable there that I could sit there for hours and just listen to them. Our lunch arrived. "How is your food?" he asked. "I really liked it. You have a great taste." and then I looked into his eyes, to see the sense of pride, satisfaction and kindness in them (Frankly speaking, I always prefer having my food at home. No matter, how great a hotel is, they can never match the comfort of home). I sensed that he was observing me, while talking with his friends. I tried to focus on my food and do not let him feel that it wasn't different than what I was used to eat. A young-man entered the hotel. He had squared face, long hairs, thick eyes-brows, narrow-eyes, humpy-nose, and plump body. He was clean-shaved and neatly dressed. He ordered tea. As soon as he entered in the conversation, the environment of hotel suddenly changed. Everyone became serious. I sensed the tension in the hotel. He was questioning everything, from their beliefs, values, practices to their life-styles. These men, who I doubt anyone had a proper schooling, trying hard to convince him that these traditions had stood the test of times. They were throwing parables, proverbs and examples from their experiences (apparently, these were all they knew) to defend their values. But the young-man was seemed determined to straighten these middle-aged men. Several times, I wanted to jump in and to face this man, but I controlled myself and stayed silent. I stayed silent because I was concerned that by my participation, he may feel that I thought, I am better qualified to face this man than him. I always wanted him to feel that he is in control of everything. The debate ended without any conclusion, as both sides apparently arguing against themselves than their opponents. The young-man left hotel and things slowly returned to normal. I guess, he had forgotten about me, when he was debating that young man. "What do you think about arguments of that young-man?" he asked me. "He is just trying to discover himself. He is going to grow. Don't feel bad about his arguments" I chuckled.... "If I was that young-man, I would have asked a lot of questions about your experiences that our generations have never gotten a chance to know. Only a gemologist knows the real worth of a gem" I added.