Tuesday, September 18, 2018

On Being Uncomfortable

There are several moments and circumstances when we feel truly uncomfortable. It may vary from person to person but the moments which make me most uncomfortable are:

1) When I am in a hugely important conference/job/internship like scenario and have to refuse shaking hands with members of the opposite gender "due to religious reasons".

2) When I am cycling uphill and each turn of the peddle seems impossible, till it happens.

3) When I am staring at a software repository for the longest time and nothing seems to make sense

4) When I desperately want to solve a problem but my mind refuses to present me with any awesome solution

5) When thinking deeply about a research problem yields...nothing, really.

6) When folks brazenly ask personal tareen questions without any regard to another human's sensitivities.

All these moments occur pretty frequently in my life. But the important thing (for which I wanted to write this down) is that while these moments are happening, one may feel really really bad and may lose all faith in humanity, may resort to writing sad poems :) etc.

But once those moments are gone - and they are always always temporary - one may feel quite euphoric! The keys to feeling euphoric after bad moments may simply be because:

1) You did not give up trying to find a solution to that problem, or that bug in the code, no matter how much your Nafs or Netflix tempted you.

2) You did not snap back at the humans prying about your personal life even though you really truly wanted to. You kept your temper in check and answered politely.

3) You did not stop peddling hard - even though it seemed like another breath won't come.

4) You did not dwell over "what will this person think of me if I don't shake his hand" - but let the moment go by.

If any of these reactions are not there (and if we tend to give in to our nafs, Netflix or any other temptation really) -- then the feeling of euphoria turns into further depression.

So the take-home message is: Be comfortable in feeling uncomfortable and stick to your principles! Feelings of gratification, if delayed, are always better than instant gratification!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Let Down

Laughter rings out
Echoing here and there
Joy blooms out
Spreading everywhere

Conversations go on and on
Seemingly everlasting
Giggles and chuckles abound
Happiness broadcasting

You share the joy and pleasure
That nothing seems to thwart
You come to expect all of this
With all your (stupid) heart

You share secrets and hope
With people who seem so keen
You get used to their presence
With them, you love to be seen

Until the day comes and the bubble bursts
You are left numb with shock
Hurt and anger comes wayy later
Weren't these people your rock?

Then it begins to dawn upon you
And things become crystal clear
There is only One in this universe
Who is consistently, persistently Near

All the rest is a temporary distraction
So convincing - in them, you can drown
Expectations really should only be held
With the One who never Lets us down

Copyright Uni Let-Down-oony 2018

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sprinkles of Silver

During days that feel like multiple trucks parked right on the heart, there are a few things that can really brighten up the day.

A little background: So I am nearing thesis defense - and the thesis completion demanded X (completed) + Y (being worked on) stuff. For Y, I had gotten early good results. Prof was happy. Everyone was happy. It turned out that those results were the result of a BUG. Everyone is unhappy now and it is a dire situation. Furthermore, all my friends have graduated and left. So the only people who I can spend time here with are like, two. And sparsely distributed in my life. I should stop thinking of these terms and getting more stressed out.

In times like these, there is really and truly no motivation to keep working hard and trying to think of "novel" solutions to existing problems. Procrastination feels really attractive and so much is always going on in the world that one can happily get lost in the news and the analyses. So after one more such day, I was biking back from university...

Interesting fact: I finally have gotten the himmat to bike on public roads/sidewalks here. I was too scared to do so. So now if you see a hijabi lady huffing and puffing while cycling up a hill, that's me.

Silver linings of the day:

1. While biking back, I had stopped at a signal, and this man with a stroller was standing nearby. The man was engaging with the toddler in the stroller and toddler wasn't responding much. Toddler looked over at me, and I gave him a huge smile. He smiled back! So beautifully MashaAllah that it was AWESOME. It just made my day!
[Imagine what depths of despair you have to be in - for a random toddler's smile to lift up your spirits]

 2. While biking back, this woman walked by, stopped and told me, "I LOVE your wrap! This is beautiful." I was like "Whoa!" (inwardly) -- "Thank you so much" (outwardly).

3. For the first time in this city, I saw a bohri Aunty walking by! I stopped and said hello to her (again, my himmat - can't believe it). She talked so nicely to me and told me she was visiting. Our conversation was cut short because my pedestrian sign came on and I had to hurry and cross the road.

4. While walking (I walk halfway and bike the rest), I thought of a strategy to deal with the research issues I am facing. So at least I have a direction to move forward. Imagine not knowing at all what to do next.

5. I am blogging! I realized (after revisiting my posts from 2011) that these experiences are a treasure for my later self to reflect on :) so I am putting them out there.

So the ayah to remember is:

Monday, July 16, 2018


When you juggle endless chores
While exhausted to the core

When deadlines seem to loom
Demands from others boom

When nothing really seems to yield
In anything useful in your field

The question to ask is

Why the struggle, why the toil
Why till this hard, black soil

Why keep writing and submitting
Why endure the endless hitting

Why climb this skyscraper
All for a piece of paper

Why take this academic dictation
For one more - oh one more - publication

What is the purpose, where is the joy
Of uncovering something like a new toy

Why is this quest for creative knowledge
Wrapped so tight in quantifiable baggage

But most importantly why do we feel
Our self worth is tied to our research yield?

Copyright Uni-not-motivatedoony 2018

Monday, December 28, 2015

The best things in life

1. A 'thelay wala' who serves piping hot chicken corn soup "anday wala" :-)

2. Hot frothy coffee in the middle of a busy shopping area when all shoppers have gone home but the food shops are bustling with people at 11 pm.

3. People who push you rudely away and you turn in surprise at their rudeness, and then suddenly start smiling because ... this is home.

4. A place where people tend to say, "When you were not there, we were all silent, and now we're all animated."

5. A group of people who suddenly perk up when you make plans to leave two days later than initially planned.

6. Friends who text back "Oh you're HERE? We HAVE to meet."

7. A program of study which teaches you how much knowledge is out there and how much further you still need to go.

8. People who never ask, "When is your PhD completing?"

9. People who never ask, "When are you giving us khushkhabri?"

10. Cheap stuff found in an obscure shop which never gets destroyed in a washer/dryer.

11. Six people who are about to become 12 in about 6 months.. :-)

12. People who you can have long conversations on the beach with - about future plans, only to conclude at the end, "Allah is indeed the Best Planner."

13. People who stare at you incredulously when you reveal that you really enjoy long conversations about our state of affairs, our educational system and current political situation worldwide. 

There is so much to be thankful for ..Alhamdulillah :-)

Sunday, September 13, 2015


The trucks on heart are parked ... permenantly
Their gleaming exterior, so deceptive
The interior torn, broken, ripped to pieces
Which no tow truck can ever pick up...

Copyright Uni Sad_and_Loony 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

I never thought...

Things would come to this.

It is one thing to be mildly in trouble. PhD woes are enough to keep the back of the mind busy in planning wildly, and ignoring wildly. The brain sifts through massive traumatic ideas, their implementations, their unhappy outcomes and the resulting verbal ramifications. As the outer self watches "Zack and Cody", laughing at the witty comebacks and ludicrous scenes, the inner self cringes at the latest verbal confrontation, or the unpleasant finding of the day in which one realizes that their brilliant idea has not only be thought of by multiple people, but it has been analyzed and implemented in top conferences with multiple citations.

That, it itself, is quite enough.

It is a totally different thing to be so extremely worried, that now the eyes stare blankly at Mr. Mosby's hilarious acting, while the inner self spins out of control, trying out wild theories of survival and coming up with nothing. This is, I guess, a procrastinating "survival mode".

An oxymoron, if there ever was one.

May Allah Help us in times of trouble. Ameen. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Anonymous Musings

Aoa folks!

Or rather, Aoa blog :)

Life has been too busy lately. I can't believe I still come back here for a little anonymous rant sometimes. It's weird, I know. Nothing on the Web is truly anonymous. But I guess it's enough that majority of one's friends do not know about blogs not linked to FB profiles. So even if Google knows, Blogger knows and whoever else, the people who do not know, matter the most!

This year was a year of travel. I think I hopped on and off too many planes now.
1. Virginia
2. Columbus
3. Pakistan
4. NY
5. Boston (not happened yet)
6. Chicago (not happened yet)

Too many venues. Too many conferences. Too many strangers. Too many polite "I don't shake hands, sorry but it's nice to meet you". Too many forced smiles. Too many trucks parked on the heart.

This year taught me a lot of lessons. One of the most important ones was this: If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will do that for you. It's only you who can be confident about your own work. If you don't take that responsibility, then essentially, you have let go of something really important. And you're the only one who can take this responsibility.

Another lesson is this: Whatever you face in life, it is meant to be. What that means is that in the toughest of times when one only feels like turning one's face upwards and saying "Why me?"... the important thing to remember is that you're put in a specific situation because you can handle it. If you have faith in Allah (God) and you truly believe that He is the All Wise, then He can never put you in situation you cannot handle. This thought helps a lot! :)

Anyway, till another ramble time, keep smiling folks. Or rather, blog.. :)


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trying to keep up!


As the days go by, I become more distant from the blog. But I think I shouldn't. The reason is that this is the only place where my friends (most) don't know who  I am :)!

In almost every other social media outlet, I'm known. Who I am and where I'm coming from. I want this place to remain my sounding board - a jumble of my thoughts from which I hope to extract some coherence.

Insha Allah :)

So here goes. I am finally updating this.

The July that went by was one of the most chronically hectic month of my life! But it was amazingly joyous too. The best thing that happened in this month was the arrival of a little bhanji wanji in this world :D. Alhamdulillah. She is such a bundle of joy MA - albeit a really small bundle. She is as tiny as her brother was :p. But as I always say, if you keep eating Lays and what not, the kiddo inside you is not really going to be healthy :p. Anyway, so I am so so utterly glad I was here when she arrived on this planet. By here I mean my home town: Karachi. I was there at the hospital when the same "pacing outside the room" scene was going on. I received the glad news on text from my phuppo who was inside the theatre ... saying two words.

"Baby girl"

Uff, the joy! MA! I had hoped against hope that it would be a lil girl btw. The reason was simply that since we didn't find out the gender beforehand, the shopping was done completely in the wild. And I had (in my own emotional outburstiness when I saw baby girl dresses and the cuteness associated with them) had literally brought all baby girl suits.. except one or two. So this "suited" me :p {sorry, had to use this pun}.

The lil kiddo was soooooo cute (and she still is) MA :). Her older brother (not yet 5 years old but getting there iA) was overjoyed. He announced to the whole hospital in the following words,

"Sub log suno! Meri baby sister aagayeeee" (Everybody listen up! My baby sister is hereeeee] :D

Amused patients and their families turned around to look and many came over to gaze at the "baby sister". Hehe. It was hilariously joyful MA.

One of the choicest comments by Chotu (her older brother) was: Aap ko pata hay mein kesay aya tha? Mein helicopter basket mein aya tha and seedha governor house pe land kia tha."
[You know how I got into this world? I came in a helicopter basket and landed straight at governor house].

We shouted with laughter at this statement because a few days earlier, he had seen two helicopters and they were headed for the governor house in karachi. This had stuck in his brain, apparently.


Alhamdulillah for the family who cares so much for you!

So the hospital stay was as eventful as ever. The lil bhanji would sleep during the day and as soon as the clock turned 11ish, her eyes would become widee open. Lol. It was a frenzied time. But Alhamdulillah, it passed. Sis the priss was at our place for the next ten days. During those days of diaper changing and cleaning bottles, making iftari and entertaining bhanju wanju, I completely forgot that...

I am doing a PhD somewhere on this planet ... :)!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cleaning out the hard drive

Walking down memory lane
Full of laughter, full of pain
Can't help remembering things
Things that are part of the terrain
Of life.

Today I (had to) cleaned out my hard drives. There are too many TBs of memories out there. I came across old blog posts, unfinished poems, early pictures of bhanju wanju, and most importantly, the previous me.

If I compare myself in 2009 to the one in 2014 - I see a HUGE difference. Like, enormous. My entire brain was re-wired in these five years. My world-view changed completely.

But in that change, I think I lost quite a few things as well. I lost the easy laughter, the easy carefree-ness. Not only that, I lost quite a bit of self-esteem.

If there is one lesson I really really learned in these 5 years .. "Nothing much is going to be according to how you wish it to be".

This place has made me humble :).. that's for sure. I no longer think I'm a "good student" - I no longer even think I'm a "good Muslim".

I think this humility is a great thing so maybe I should be happy about it.

So long folks.