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.