Sunday, November 28, 2010

No :) - That Wasn't Too Bad!

Assalamualaikum!

So what happened? Point wise (not up to writing essays)

1. Our Architecture course was not easy at all.
2. I had had problems explaining to the teacher how I didn't even know what a pipeline was (except oil ones)
3. The class was wayy intelligent. Esp a couple of girls - very very smart (MA?)
4. The first quiz was held, horrible. Beyond! It was a surprise one. So no surprise :P
5. So me all dejected, that this time, understanding won't be enjoyable, because I'll be far behind in class.
6. Midterm exam came up. Prepared okay. Not very crazily. Scowled for 15 minutes during the paper, because saw the two smart ladies (one is smarter) in my class, easily telling each other stuff. Under Ms's nose!
7. Scowled after the paper. Felt bad.
8. Felt it was unfair this smarter lady should get credit for work done via cheating.
9. Was reprimanded by another friend for just feeling bad when surprise quiz results came out because ''this smarter lady had gotten more marks than me!'' Hello. Why would I feel bad at that! (when I had done so badly in the quiz anyway?)
10. Tried to forget. Bless the brainless brain.. :D Forgot.
11. Midterm results. Got the highest :D:D:D ... Oh joy. The smart lady got 2 marks less. Oh double joy! :$ *sowie*
12. Last quiz of the season. I mean semester. Saw the talking-going-on again!
13. Scowled during the quiz. Wasted time in scowling !


Sessional marks were uploaded today. Out of 28. So the results are. Me = 24.67/28 ... Smart Lady = 24.23/28.

Oh triple joy :D. Scowling in the paper rocks :D. What does 0.44 marks matter?? Nothing. But in my case, Allah SWT Showed that one will not end up blaming honesty for failing somewhere... even by a factor of 0.44 :D


Er, btw. Term paper submission has to be done - and that counts for 12 marks, and THAT makes the total session marks up to 40. Which means that er, the competition is still on. Only that term papers are heck difficult to write.. :( and whatever I've written so far, doesn't look very impressive. Allah Help me, please. Ameen.

Uh. Lemme share something useful in this otherwise useless post. This Ayah struck me as so beautiful:

[94. Surah Al-Sharh : Ayah 7-8]

"So when you are free, nominate. And make your Lord your exclusive object."
This is beautiful because in this, Allah SWT is so Understanding , that human beings will need to go out to work, to study, and this means that they will be generally busy during the day hours at least, so here, He Reminds us to remember him when we are free (faarigh), and with exclusive devotion ... that now, you have spent your day in earning your bread, or education, anything... and now, its time to turn to Allah and make dua etc. It would be so great if (first me, then you) can follow this pattern that we devote some time (maybe 15 minutes, to half an hour), to studying some verses of the Holy Quran - either some time in the night, or immediately before Fajr, or even immediatly after Fajr. Im vowing to do that tomorrow Insha Allah!

Cheers!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Closed Zone

Closed Zone

Despite declarations that it has "disengaged" from the Gaza Strip, Israel maintains control of the Strip’s overland border crossings, territorial waters, and air space. This includes substantial, albeit indirect, control of the Rafah Crossing.

During the past 18 months, Israel tightened its closure of Gaza, almost completely restricting the passage of goods and people both to and from the Strip.

These policies punish innocent civilians with the goal of exerting pressure on the Hamas government, violating the rights of 1.5 million people who seek only to live ordinary lives – to be reunited with family, to pursue higher education, to receive quality medical treatment, and to earn a living.

The effects of the closure were particularly harsh during the military operation of Dec. 2008 - Jan. 2009. For three weeks, Gaza residents had nowhere to flee to escape the bombing.

Gisha - Legal Center for Freedom of Movement calls on the State of Israel to fully open Gaza's crossings and to allow the real victims of the closure - 1.5 million human beings - the freedom of movement necessary to realize their dreams and aspirations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Warning - Phishing Scam

I just received an email from ''Gmail'' which went like this:

--------------------------
from Data Required Team

Dear Gmail User,

Due to the congestion in our Gmail servers,there would be removal of all unused Gmail Accounts.You will have to confirm if your E-mail is still active by filling out your login info below after clicking the reply button, or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons.

Customer ID:
Password:
Region:

Note: This email is only for Account owner.
Thank you for using Gmail !


The Gmail Team

--------------------------------------------------
Any innocent person may get fooled by this. This is nothing but a phishing scam, designed to loot-ofye (extract) your password, so that your Gmail account can be used for their merry purposes.

Please take care of your accounts !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's the Block!

Assalamualaikum


The procrastination is getting to me. I'm unable to figure out what's the block here. I mean, I advise (or advertise) on my blog about making lists, plans, what not, and here I am, idly googling 'How to keep a one year old busy'. What kind of an idiot Khaala am I anyway.

*tries desperately to smile*

Yesterday was bad. I was furious with everything the whole day. Only at night, things becamse slightly better because we all went out to dinner in this fabulous little (tiny! I mean it) place near Tariq Road, and had a great great (amazing, beyond cool) dinner. Its a different story that Bhanju was placed in a 'baby-chair' and he absolutely hated it. And since he was seated next to me, he figured out that by pulling hard on my scarf and making my head jerk to one side rather rudely a load of times, he will probably be taken out of that 'thing' in a jiffy. He wasn't wrong.

Man, dinner was difficult at first. I couldn't enjoy anything on my plate. How can you, when a darling lil baby with stubborn eyes and even stubborn hands refuses to be distracted with french fries (his favorite thing to do, is to take a bite out of a fry, and then throw it as far as he possibly can). And then the scarf-snatching business. Eh, I could feel my bad mood returning. But Bless mum, she took one look at my face, and around at everybody else's serenly-occupied-in-their-yummilicious-food faces, and took pity on me. So she took him and tried to distract him as best as she could. Obviously he wanted to be placed on the ground. Its a cool thing the place was so tiny, and hence there wasn't any room for him to 'run away'. Finally, we came outside, and the bhanju sahib screamed to be placed on the road so he can 'run among all those cars!' .. He's become a lil dangerous. I'd say.

Today morning. Worse. My stomach didn't take very well to the very nice chicken steak, and hence I had a miserable time. Tried my best to distract myself with books and spring-cleaning my Gmail archives. But didn't really work. I think I am more depressed about this book I just finished reading. I actually read till like, 3.30 last night. Badddd!


So yeah. This book. It's written by this highly-aclaimed author (I'm wondering why!), and its called 'A Case of Exploding Mangoes'. It was released in 2009, so I'm reading it late. But the book won a load of prizes, and praises, so I was naturally curious. I should have guessed what kind of stuff the book would contain when I saw India Today and Hindustan Times highly praising this book. After all, why would THEY appreciate this book, if something nice about Pakistan was written in it? They're the poeple who are afer their own writers for taking a stand for Kashmir (let alone Pakistan!). AND this book was published in India. No surprise again.

I will not deny that the book is actually very well written. But the way Pakistan has been portrayed, the absolutely rotten way ex General Zia-ul-Haq is portrayed, and the armed forces of Pakistan have been portrayed... well, let's just say it doesn't take much to guess why this author must have left the forces (he was in PAF) and went on to become a journalist - lives in London and all.


The late General Zia may have had his faults, sure. Who doesn't . But you have got to have respect for anybody - as a human. If he used to refer to the Holy Quran a lot, and didn't incorporate the deen in his personal life (if you're really sure about it), even then that doesn't give anybody the right to ridicule his religious acts, and make a mockery out of referring to Quran, saying words involving ''Allah'' and making fun of religion / martyrdom in general. It was neauseating to see the hatred that festers in the heart of the author for religion, General Zia, and generally, any act in the name of Islam.

So someday, when you feel like getting depressed, and can stomach rotten things that have no real connection with reality, do go and have a look at A Case of Exploding Mangoes.

How Nerdy Are You?

Nice quiz. Wasn't very tough to answer. Here's what I got.. lol.

You are most like:

Your cranial ability differential has a strong left bias



You're a real purist nerd. Not distracted by the 1337 wannabe's. Face it - you probably even got the joke in the title of this result.

Keep up the nerd factor - it will likely land you a great job one day or at the very least help you take over the world in less time than you had originally predicted.

 

Take this quiz: How Nerdy Are You?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to Manage Studies + Home

Assalamualaikum

I am the least qualified person to be writing this. But I decided to write out a little tips section on how to manage both these things in our lives (if we have both responsibilities) .. :). I am struggling with this too, but I have experienced this since, erm 2008. So in Nov 2010, this makes it two years and 4 months worth of experience.

The following is what I believe, workable for a lot of people - even those that are zilch at home-management and cooking (like I was in 2008).

1. Its a great idea to write down responsibilities-of-the-day on a piece of paper. The list can be something like this:


Just a sample. You can add in anything you deem important for the day, any assignments you need to work on, homework etc. And of course, the home responsibilities. Just mark out those (like I have done in blue) the responsibilities that can act as ''fillers'' :D. Like, the things that can be done between major things; when you need a break from work, want some rest and wanna stretch your legs.

Er, :$, I don't usually make a list (I make that rarely waisay), but I always make a mental list - which looks like this one - and thats usually in my brain only. So um, lists are important, wherever you make em.

2. Then, prioritize your work. Re-order the list so that you make it according to the time of the day. Here is a sample of re-ordered list.

Um this is obviously for those who have the liberty of staying at home all day. If you are a working person, then your schedule would be definitely different. The point of reordering is to map out your tasks in time, and mark approximately the amount of time that should take for that task to complete (like I have done in black, in the picture above).

If you want even fine-grained task sheet, then you can have timings there, e.g: 9 - 10.30am: Read research papers. Etc. I don't normally do the time thing. But when I did, it helped a lot. Takes a LOAD of will-power.. :). But works in the end.

Now come to the house-work, cooking laundary bit. The thing is, that it always helps when you know what you have to cook, and how long would that food last. Plus, not everything has to be done EACH day. Like, breakfast... has to be done each day. If you're a REAL breakfast person, then you'd go for tea, paratha (always best to buy frozen paratha packs, and store them), eggs, or french toast :P... and umm..cereal. Rotate these around the week, and you won't get bored. :D. But if you're just a cup-of-coffee/tea person, then firstly, that's NOT healthy.. but if you insist, then it er, saves you 15 minutes of preparing-breakfast time... :D

Start your work after breakfast. Always. No checking emails before brushing teeth. Not good at all!

Take a break every 2 hours (again, for health reasons). You CAN work continuously for 4 hours, the brain can be programmed this way. But if you're a PhD student, its no good being wiped out in the first week. You'll get superbly bored. You gotta be consistent. [look whose talking...:o]. Yeah.. so where was I in the lecture?

Two hours, yeah. You need a break after two hours. So keep paper reading in the mornings (if you don't have coursework). Its always good to read complex stuff in the morning, when the brain is fresh. Keep coding in the morning too (you can alternate through the week). So after two hours, think about cooking lunch. If you're cooking for 1 or 2 people, then you have a pretty easy job to do. Do not go for heavy duty items like... karahi and naan ? :D. Maybe you can do that Sundays. But on weekdays, keep it light. You have to work after lunch too, not snore away.

So what do I suggest you can cook for lunch? Er, it totally depends on your taste, but lemme suggest some really simple things that can serve as pretty fulfilling to a beginner cook.
  • Baked Chicken: ALL you have to do... is get a boneless chicken (whole) pack from the grocery shop. Take a quarter (or half, it depends on your appetite really) of it. Defrost it. Place it in a platter. Don't forget to grease the bottom of the platter with 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover the chicken with salt [1 tsp should do], chicken tikka masala [or broast masala, or green masala anything works :D but tikka masala is the best]...Then take a packet of frozen veggies... defrost it, and sprinkle them over the chicken, covering the pieces. Simple sprinkle some soy sauce, some veggie masala if you want, and bussssss. Place it in oven, bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes. Check on it after 20 mins though. The chicken might be stuck to the platter.. :S Happened with me a lot. 
Once you've gotten baked chicken, you can have it with/without roti and enjoy a simple meal! If you make enough, you can eat that for dinner too.
  • Chicken Salad: If you put the baked chicken (same dish as cooked above) in a bowl and mix cream and mayonnaise in it... you get a chicken salad! Yummilicious :D
  • Chicken Salan (curry): If you brown some onions [cut 3 onions into slices, place in 4 tablespoons of oil, and fry them till they're golden], cut 2 tomatoes in that golden onion, and mix the baked chicken (same dish as above) in it, you get chicken salan :D. Just underbake the chicken a lil [say, 15 mins, instead of 30]. And then, all you have to do is add a lil yoghurt [3 tablespoons], and half a cup of water ... and put on stove [halki aanch] for 15 mins. You're done. Salan ready to tanawul-ofye with naan/roti/rice. 
  • Chicken Pasta: If you boil some noodles (umm, take 1/4ths of the whole box of spaghetti at a time -- the way to boil em is to add 2 tablsepoons of oil to the water in which noodles are boiling, in order to keep them separated), and mix them with the baked chicken (same as the first recipe), you get chicken noodles! Put some ketchup on top (if you like pasta with ketchup), and there you go. Another lunch meal done.
Okay. Enough chicken. Remember all this chicken stuff takes 30 mins - 1 hour to prepare [depends on how experienced you are, and how idiotically slow/fast you are at cutting piyaaz *scowls at herself*]. You can plan like this: Monday, Thursday and Saturday --> Chicken!! [alternate between any simple dish you like. Remember, you can try other stuff with chicken too... just google chicken recipes pakistani :P, and you're good to go].

I just mentioned chicken recipes, but of course you can get red meat recipes too. Or others. Try very simple bachkana ones first. But planning is what's really really important. If you plan out properly, then you can do this meal-cooking thing fairly easily. All you have to do is find a 2 hour slot in your whole day [preferably before meal times], and then go for it. By the way, you can download printable meal weekly planners here.

Good luck!

PS: One other thing that can be done is cooking in large amounts on weekends, and getting by on that one dish, the whole week. But one can get pretty bored, and not very happy at eating the same thing (like chicken salan?) the whole entire week! So not cool.

PPS: A good thing you can do with leftover curry is to make rice (plain), and after cooking them, make layers with rice-and-salan in a pot - put the pot on dumm (stove with slow heat) for 15 mins, and you have some nice biryani-style rice! Eat that with yoghurt, and doneeee.

I'll stop now. Sorry I cannot provide any more variety than this. For recipes more er, spectacular than the ones described above, I have to have a recipe-book (or Mum's instructions :D), and lots of timeeeee. And maybe this website :P.

Sorry, things are coming into my mind now. DO not waste time in:

1. MAKING roti.
2. MAKING paratha.
3. Buying all veggies, and cutting them painstaikingly - it takes me an hour!! Believe me, don't be this foolish.

Enjoy!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eid ul Adha 2010

Aoa

What a day!

It started with Fajr, and then Qurbaani (sacrifice) of course. I didn't watch this time. I felt too... ashamed. This is because I remembered the crowd-gathered-around-poor-tied-up-animal scenes, and how cheering is going on, and video clips are being made, and when the animal goes down, a huge roar sounds in the crowd, everybody has a huge smile/grin on their faces, the owners of the animal [if huge] have chests jutted out with pride, etc... the whole mockery of the concept of sacrifice, and Sunnat-e-Ibrahimi.

For, can we ever imagine.. Hazrat Ibrahim (AS), laying down his SON on the ground, picking up a knife, and have a crowd cheer him on? Have gleeful faces around? Even have jokes/crass remarks/hilarious anecdotes...? At that sacrific?

Can we ever imagine, that when the son was replaced by a sacrificial animal (sheep I believe), even then the sacrifice brought anything but profound humility, gratefulness, and love for Allah, in the heart of Hazrat Ibrahim (AS)?? So whose Sunnah are we following anyway?

The whole while, TV blared out news that involved the word 'Sunnat-e-Ibrahimi' in their news... but the issue remains... whose Sunnah do we really follow?

So I didn't really feel like going and 'watching' the Qurbani .. (like I always always do).. but instead, stayed inside, and tried not to imagine what was going on outside. Sigh.

That done, the next step was of course, the sorting of the meat. The meat was brought in by 9.30, and we made three equal portions of it. One was for ourselves, one for relatives and the third for the poor. The relatives one was sorted into plastic bags and labeled with neighbours etc. The needy one was sorted into piles for the domestic servants, and the ourselves portion was put in some plastic bags and stored in the freezer. This somehow, didn't take that much time.

But the day was spent cooking! Lunch: kaleji (liver?), and rice. Then for the night, we had invited (tradition) sis the priss and co. for dinner. And biryani had to be made. The biryani turned out pretty nice! Er, if one's not that great a fan of mirchi... which we're not :D..

Oh yeah, we had to go and deliver the meat packets to the neighbours, so that was one task. One very sweet thing that happened on the way was:

--------------------------------
I had parked the car (er, by neighbours I don't just mean aas paas key ghar) outside this lane where I had to deliver two packs, and I walked in that lane. The whole lane reminds me of my childhood, since I spent a lot of time in that neighbourhood. The first place was Amee Jee's where there are (I have mentioned this before) a LOT of kids - 14 to be exact..! :D. MA. I delivered the first pack to one of the bigger kids who was standing outside, and was about to walk on to the second house, that some of the kids poked their heads out of Amme Jee's gate. 'Uni baaaaaaajiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.....' - they yelled in unison..

:D. I turned in delight. And there they were. Some waving, some showing their new watches (eh eh eh), and some twirling, showing their clothes and all. Man, I heart kids (friendly ones). So all this kid-calling-Uni-baji-replying later, I happily walked on to the second place, and they have two adorable lil daughters there. So both of them greeted me very nicely, I gave them their packet of meat, they ran inside, and then brought out a packet for me, and the younger one (chotay walay aisay hee hotay hain meray khayal say :D).. started off..

'Pata hay, we had two cows this time'
Me: Reallyyyyy??? Twoooooo?????? (exaggerated, so she would get more free with me)
She: Yesssssssssssss...(even more enthusiastically). One was brown, and one was black!
Me: Wowww. Soo...the packet you've given me, is that the brown one or the black one?
They both: Hain? Humain nahi pata (we don't know).
Me: Hainnnn? You donnntttt? Bhui, if I look at this meat, how do I know its the black one's or the brown one's???
They both, staring at packet..lost in thought...'Er, nahi pata aisay to...' ...
Me: *grinning from ear to ear*... well, chalo koi baat nahi. I will see its size, - baraaa saa gosht hoga to its the big cow, and chotaa sa hoga to its the small coww....and determine... keh choti wali thee ya bari wali!
They: Oh haaaaaaan.. :)

How utterly adorable. MA.
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So after having run around the house for the entire day, I have finally settled down in front of the PC, and am typing this.

Oh and btw... this cake baking thing didn't turn out bad..! The oven in the house became functional around a fortnight back. I baked my first cake in it 2 days back ... as an experiment (cuz I was sure it would bungle up - I was doing this after years!)... The recipe said 'bake for 40-45 minutes' and ahh..after 30 mins, when I smelled something burning, I rushed to the kitchen, and pulled out the platter. :S:S:S

It was nearly black from the bottom...:( and not VERY done from the top. Sighhhh.

Totally dejected, I pulled it out, set it to cool, then cut it into pieces, and hid them all in a box and put the box discreetly in the very corner of the dining table, so that nobody notices.

At dinner time, the first question was..'What became of the cake'... I tried to change the subject, but it didn't work. So I brought out the box sullenly and handed it over to Chotpo, who took out a piece. 'Its burnt from the bottom' I mumbled....She didn't care, and just ate a piece.. (it was plain cake btw)...and her reaction was like 'Wow! Yeh to bilkul baher walay cakes jaisa hay! Wow' ..

:D... Not bad huh. Dad asked for two pieces.... said 'I really like this cake.. Meri sugar bilkul sahee hay, jaldi say doosra piece day do'

:D eh eh eh eh :D

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Oceans, the Grand Challenges - the awe!

Assalamualaikum

This post is intended to convey a very important message, but the incoherent state of my mind is such that I fear this post is probably going to be a bit weird. The problem is the continuous pressure that hasn't abated - Tuesday isn't here yet. The fact that class today was beyond heavy, combined with the quiz held today, add to that bhanja visit when I came back home that lasted till late night ... a visit where the lil chipkoo wasn't doing much except running around, wanting to play with me, or whining about wanting to be picked up - by me! Sooo adorable..MA. :D. I soo feel loved Alhamdulillah. [Check this out.. when they came over here, I hadn't returned from class yet, and Mum reported that he checked out all the rooms on his lil feet, and reached the last room and said ...''Laaa??" ... awwww MA].

Anyway. The post isn't to talk about the runnings-around of the day. I'm supposed to talk about what really awed me today.

The thing is that we're nearly at the end of this semester, and this was the second last class of Advanced Architecture. The topic we're covering right now is parallel architectures, parallel programs and how they are constructed (very generic, not specific). So the teacher today was talking about a case study, where she presented a sequential pseudocode, and showed us the parallel version - and how exactly is this conversion done etc.

The problem area she had taken was one of a Grand Challenge Problem in the field of Scientific Computing. And the challenge is that of ''Ocean Modeling'' - one of the major areas of work/research these days in scientific computing. So why would one wanna do this? Simple. The oceans cover 3/4ths of the earth (roughly), and their currents affect our mausam! The weather forecast systems depend heavily on ocean data, and the tide movements, as well as current calculations in order to determine the future weather. This is how we see next week's weather etc. Also, if one can predict the motion of the ocean, then wouldn't it be easy peasy to determine when a tsunami might occur? Just a thought.

Khair, so when she started off, I was a little intrigued. What possibly can be so difficult in this, that this is being termed as a Grand Challenge Problem in this field?

My query was very soon answered.

Er, simplistically speaking...(VERY simplistically speaking), the ocean is ... HUGE. Biggggggggg.
If there can be almost 2 billion [yes!] atoms in a full stop ... :P.. can you imagine how many atoms can be in this gigantic, huge, humungous, marvelous creation of Allah?

I can't.

The modeling of the ocean is thus, a basic understanding of how the currents change with time, and how the other parameters (like temperature, pressure) can change with time. Obviously, this isn't done at atomic level (people would go mad, trying to calculate all the atoms only!), this is done in a broader fashion. The entire ocean is divided into 1000 km, by 1000 km by 1000 km cubes, and this goes on, down till the ocean's bottom. Once you have this block thingie, you can select a bunch of points on it, and calculate stuff on it. Like, there are pretty simple to pretty complex calculations that are done on the data points per block... and then the results are seen... of ALL blocks.. and THUS some SORT of a conclusion can be reached, regarding the NEXT SECOND of the ocean's existence.

Can you now get the enormity of the problem. I understood why its a Grand Challenge, when I heard the explanation. [although, not quite in the words I used above :S].

Why did it awe me?

Because, now come to the Holy Quran, where Allah SWT, [I wanna say Subhan Allah so many times keh buss nahi, on this thing]... talks about the OCEAN...[yes!]... and compares it to ink. And then the Ayah comes, that flashed through my brain, as I listened to the whole ocean modeling thing with amazement.
The Ayah is in the last Rukuh of Surah Kahaf, and it says:


Say: “If the sea were ink for the Words of my Lord, surely, the sea would be exhausted before the Words of my Lord would be finished, even if We brought like it for its aid.’‘
So what amazed beyond amazed me, was that this Ayah, mentions the sea/ocean, and it goes on to compare it with ink... and says that we can never note down/take into account/model/encompass.... the information/data/signs of Allah [SWT]... ever! Even if that sea becomes ink [imagine, how much INK that would be!], but the sea would be exhausted, and still we won't be able to get a hold of all the knowledge of what He is, and what He Has Created.

And the ocean is just one thing that He Has Created. Image the universe, the galaxies [btw, the evolution of galaxies is another Grand Challenge Problem in scientific computing :)]..

And that's exactly what we were studying today. We were studying the modeling of an ocean, and one of the major issues here, is too much data! We have too much to take account of/to model. So we improvise, and do the best we can, on large chunks, and assume stuff (like, the ocean floor is a perfect rectangle!).. etc. We are forced to admit that this problem is a huge one, and our current resources for parallelizing computations is still not enough, that they can easily model an ocean to predict its movement... in the future. Work has been done... to the extent that the weather is predicted. But not to a pin point sharp accuracy, and movement of the ocean is still an open problem.

I am reminded once again, of this amazing Ayah in the Holy Quran [one of my favorites, actually.. something that prompted me towards Science].




Translation:  
190. Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.

191. Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): "Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted be You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Karachi CID Blast: And the Loss is Ours

"Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil". -Thomas Mann

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Assalamualaikum. 

Once again, we are faced with yet another tragedy. A building in Karachi's red zone was targetted this time. The fact that it was the Crime Investigation Department's (CID's) building (and a historic one) raises a lot of questions on what happened, and why did it happen. 

At around 8.30pm today, my sister and I were talking on the phone. Suddenly
She: Hey, what happened?
Me: Er, what?
She: Well, our windows just shut all by themselves with a loud clang!
Me: Hain?
She: Hey listen, I'm going. I need to check out what happened. Call you back later. 
Me: Please sms me if everything is okay! [imagining burglars entering via windows. Little did I know].

A few minutes later, as I went back to my studies for the upcoming midterm, she called back again, and gave me the bad news. There had been a huge blast in the CID building.

She lives about 30 minutes' drive from the blast. So you can imagine the intensity. Its being reported that the explosives weighed around 600kg [and some reports say 1000kg]. It's beyond imagination what kind of carnage these must have caused. 

I rushed to the television. Initial reports were now pouring in. The entire bulding had collapsed. The houses/residential quarters in the neighbourhood had collapsed. The cars and all other vehicles in the vicinity had been reduced to their skeletons. The buldings a little distant from the blast site had their window panes broken. All news channels were showing live coverage of the site. The scenes were beyond terrible. 

I saw many ordinary people (not just policemen) injured, and even killed. There were women (elderly too), little boys and girls, young men - with bad wounds, and being taken in ambulances or in the arms of their loved ones - to the hospital. My initial shock was also due to the fact that my former office building is right there! Almost in the neighbourhood of this building. And on certain days of the month, we used to stay back in the office till late - like I remember once we stayed till 9.30pm. The thought was terrifying that had I been working in my previous workplace, the situation would have been terrible. Thank the Lord everybody I messaged, was safe and sound. The office people had returned home. All our relatives had returned home. 

Almost half the city, heard this blast. 

We are so near disasters, and we don't even realize it. It doesn't take long for terror to strike, for evil to show its designs, and for bodies to fall. The worst bit? The perpetrators of this tragedy had opened fire on the security personnel of the CID building before they drove in their truck. They fired with latest weapons (eyewitnesses reported) and targetted the security personnel who guarded the gates of the building. The police personnel stationed there retaliated with their own gunfire, but apparently, they were not much of a match against these heavily armed six or seven people. 

This went on for ten (or 15) minutes. And it was heard by ALL those who were near that place. Again, I saw reports of people explaining how they had heard heavy duty gunfire from the PIDC area, and how they had ran for their lives, and even the traffic had been slow in that area. 

My question is. For ten minutes, heavy duty firing occurs in the heart of Karachi - the ''red zone'' of Karachi - a place which is only a few yards away from the American Consulate, the CM House, Sheraton, Pearl Continental, Rangers Headquarters.....

And nobody turns a hair??????????????????

No extra security personnel arrive as back up..., nothing happens??? And these animals (whoever they are), calmly walk back to their truck, and drive it in, breaking the security barrier..? And then that vehicle is fired upon - by the security jawaans - and it explodes..? 

Don't you find a serious flaw in this argument? How in the world can a truck (a truck!) full of explosives, calmly enter a high security area of Karachi, stand there for a full 10-15 minutes, while heavy firing goes on, and then explode? There is a gaping hole in this story - and based on past experiences, we're not going to get to the bottom of this incident, like all other incidents. 

But who lost out on lives, infrastructure, vehicles, possibly documents and data? Us. Nobody but us! So if you still believe there is an ''Islamist'' element involved here, then I'd advise you to think again.
The only element involved here is an ''anti-human, animalistic'' one... whoever these people are, and by whatever name they call themselves, and by whatever ideology they justify themselves with. The thing that is totally 100% certain, in this confusion and doubt is: That these people cannot be in favour of Pakistan, in favour of Muslims, in any favour of our city, and our country ever ever stabilizing, or progressing. 

In the end, I can only watch the rescue operation with clouded eyes, and make duas for the deceased, for the family of the deceased, for the injured, and for the countless people who have passed away in blasts exactly like this one... in the city and the country.
May Allah Protect us from evil, Give us the strength to look at our faults, to search out our enemies, and to recognize the enemy when we see them - for they may very well be walking among us, or promising us with concepts of ''human rights'', ''tolerance'', ''enlightenment'' and ''moderation''. 

P.S: Mum just informed me. Since the blast literally ''shook'' half the city, many people thought its an earthquake. It was even measured on the Richter scale, and turned out to be a 3.1 intensity one. Meaning, the earth really truly shook - with the force of this blast. 

May Allah Punish the perpetrators with much much greater intensity. Ameen.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Brain Masala :)

Aoa

Wanted to share with you some excellent quotes - that ring quite true, make a load of sense, and aren't er, dry.

"The Information Age offers much to mankind, and I would like to think that we will rise to the challenges it presents. But it is vital to remember that information - in the sense of raw data - is not knowledge, that knowledge is not wisdom, and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these". Arthur C. Clarke

I wish and hope we remember this particular thing: knowledge does not mean wisdom. This is for all those out there who believe in the 'degrees' - that a certificate will mark them as people who are one huge step above others in terms of brains and applied thinking. Thinking and applying what you learned - on a piece of paper, in an examination hall, is NOT, in any way, comparable to facing tough situations in real life, and applying your brain then. It can help, but not to a 100% extent, and not ALL the time.

So er, this essentially boils down to: That the sabzi wala (vegetable vendor) round the corner can be wayy smarter (wise) than er, us.

[Btw, I love brain masala. Its soo yumm!]

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"Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong".  ~Richard Armour

Cool no? :D
And SO true. If only! (I have lamented this soo many times now), our politicians had, and followed a strict code of ethics. If only!

"Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other".  ~Oscar Ameringer


Check this out :D. This one too points towards the role huge corporations play in the politics [funding campaigns?]... and the poor who are superbly duped [either emotionally, or by empty promises], and when the election [selection] is over, the two are shielded from each other ; the rich, and the poor.
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"This is the fundamental debate in our society: Are we a nation of citizens or a nation of consumers? Are we a democracy run by citizens, or are we a corporatocracy that holds consumers locked in dependency by virtue of their consumption?"  Thom Hartmann

The question is: Is this the fundamental debate in OUR society? [American society main shayed hoti hogi... yahan to nahi daikhi kabhi]. Even if this is one major point to ponder. What has become of us? That we're so excessively involved in the consumerist culture, that we can see nothing beyond the next flavour, the next brand, the next version, the next update, the 'freebie' offers, the 2-in-1 offer, the buy-1-get-1-free offer, the next service, the next ad, the next package.... I can go on here.

"What luck for rulers that men do not think". - Adolf Hitler

The above is by Hitler - the tyrant of the planet. But the words are extremely true. That's the dilemma of this nation - without a shadow of doubt. If we were thinkers, and if we were 'questioners' of whatever policies are made, maybe, we would have had some better circumstances, than what we have today. The very fact that we're so busy with our lives, and think that politics, political awareness is only for the farigh, has made us the totally helpless and unable to do a think about what the leaders of this nation hand down to us. I know protesting/doing anything is kinda impossible here. But at least we should try - to bring about some change - instead of whining about the problems only.

And lastly, something that again rings very true, and apply greatly to the society we're living in today:

"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves".  -Howard Zinn (1991)


Saturday, November 6, 2010

An Amazing Speech!

I wish I can safely say I understand each word in here.. but I get the idea, and it's excellent.

Whoever wrote it, and spoke it - huge thumbs up to you!


Dr Aafia Siddiqui To Be Incarcerated In CarsHELL


By Yvonne Ridley

November 04, 2010 "Information Clearing House" --

When Dr Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years by New York judge Richard Berman it sent shock waves around the world. Many of her supporters felt that it was just one step down from the death penalty … sadly, this could be closer to the truth than they imagine. For not only did the New York judge expose his vindictive pursuit of the defendant by imposing the unprecedented sentence he also personally intervened to make sure she would serve it in one of America’s most brutal institutions. In short he probably HAS sentenced Dr Aafia Siddiqui to death because if she remains in the innocuous sounding Federal Medical Facility in Carswell, Texas, like many others who have gone before her, she may not survive the experience.

Carswell is the only mental institution of its kind in the USA, and despite the fact that Judge Berman refused to accept Dr Siddiqui was not mentally fit to stand trial he subjected her to a judicial farce in which she was found guilty of attempted murder of US soldiers. So if he refused to accept Dr Siddiqui was unstable why would he then insist on sending her to Carswell which is known across the USA as the Hospital of Horrors? Let me tell you how Carswell – or CarsHELL which houses 1500 female prisoners, earned its reputation.

In the last 10 years...

· COUNTLESS young women – more than 100 - have died under “questionable circumstances” with families unable to obtain autopsy reports
· NUMEROUS cases of sex abuse, including sodomy and rape, were carried out by prison chaplain Vincent Bassie Inametti whose reign of terror lasted eight years until he was finally convicted in 2008
· RAMPANT sex abuse of prisoners was reported by prison doctor Roger Guthrie who was fired for whistle-blowing
· PRISON doctor was convicted of sexually abusing inmates while another doctor was allowed to leave without charge after being caught sexually abusing a woman patient
· GROSS medical negligence has been reported including lack of care for several cancer patients - one went untreated for a year and died
· SERIAL sexual predator and prison guard Michael Miller was convicted of raping a detainee
· FORCED psychotropic medication on reluctant detainees
· INFESTATION of ants went unchecked even when one patient in a coma was covered by the biting creatures as was the corpse of another.

To quote one local newspaper, The Fort Worth Weekly, time served in Carswell “can be a death sentence for women prisoners”.

In a different report about Carswell earlier this year the same newspaper said: “It has a troubling history of medical misconduct and sexual abuse of prisoners. Inametti is the eighth man to be convicted of or fired for sexual abuse, including rape, of female prisoners at the facility since 1997. But women there say that sexual abuse is much more rampant than that; the eight cases only became known when women overcame their fears of retribution and reported their attackers.”

And renowned lawyer Elizabeth Fink said in a statement: “One of my clients was transferred to Carswell to receive chemotherapy. She did not receive it for one full year after the therapy was prescribed. She died of classic Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a cancer with a low mortality rate – when treated.”

There are a string of court cases outstanding against the institution from those who have survived the Carswell experience and there are families of those who died in custody who are still fighting for justice, demanding to know the truth. The catalogue of crimes against the female detainees reads like something from a third world country and such an institution would have certainly been closed down by now or overhauled if it existed in Europe. In fact Dr Siddiqui should be removed from the US prison system altogether pending her repatriation.

All of this will, of course, make uncomfortable reading for Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who promised Dr Siddiqui’s family that wherever she was sent she would be treated with respect. “I will make sure Aafia’s living conditions are humane and respecting Islamic ideology and she be provided full access to family and lawyers without strip searches,” he assured Dr Siddiqui’s sister Dr Fazia Siddiqui recently. Well if he really wants to make good his promise he should now move heaven and earth to get the Daughter of the Nation out of this vile hell-hole before she becomes another of Carswell’s grim statistics.

Once again the US has shown its contempt towards the wishes of the Pakistan Government and its vindictive persecution of a woman who has been renditioned, raped, tortured and abused since March 2003 when she and her family were kidnapped in Karachi during a joint US-Pakistani-led operation. The move to repatriate Dr Siddiqui must now take on a new sense of urgency … before it is too late.
Journalist Yvonne Ridley is also a patron of Cageprisoners, a London-based NGO concerned with human rights of those caught up in the War on Terror.

Woozy-headed

The day was horrendous. Three major things happened. A plane crash and two suicide bombs. Have we turned into Iraq?

Possibly worse. Because we call ourselves ''independent'' and ''sovereign''. Apparently not.

Today, as I was going for class, I could see everybody in a huge hurry, and shops were being closed. The hustle and bustle at that time of the day (6pm) was strange.

When I was returning, (around 9pm), the scene had completely changed. We were driving at 80 km/s on a busy road of Karachi! Nearly all streetlights were off. EVERY shop was closed. ALL of them. Not even the roti wala was open [hence I had to make roti!], and can you imagine..? This was Friday night 9pm.

The city of lights? Apparently not.

Our downhill descent seems to have no end. I wonder what else can go wrong here.

Oh yeah.. one lil brightness of the day. We won by 1 wicket. Being not a big fan of cricket, I'm usually into it when some good moments occur. And hence, I was only in front of the TV because Pakistan needed 5 runs on 4 balls I think. From there I started watching :). Sigh. Okay, it never happens, but I can't help having this teensy hope that we win the series. Kash!

My quest for a good GRE score has not yielded much, despite some solid techniques and good motivation. Why? Because I have to stare glumly at 107 words which I don't know at all, [I'm actually making a list of words which I don't know at all from those darned 3500 word list], and knowing that I'm just on letter ''C"

:-(. Sucks no?

Too exhausted to write more. I wish this flu would find someplace else other than my nose! The picture cheered me up though :D

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Of Honesty and Patience!

Aoa

The day was in no way related to honesty, but it definitely showed me one rare example of patience! So patience first.. :P.

We had to give our mamu's stuff to donate (S Mamu who passed away in September), and this was supposed to be dropped off at a girl's place who works for PIMA (Pakistan Islamic Medical Association). Me and mum went over to her place, and since her sister had been in the same university as MY sis, she also knew us somehow! Khair, when we reached her place, and climbed up the stairs, a rather funny sight greeted us. There were four kids, ranging from 7 years old, down to 5 months old, two of which were clinging to their mom (the girl!), and the eldest and youngest were the only quiet ones there. We only sat for around 5 or 7 minutes, but in those minutes, I learned a lot!

Why?

1. The 3 year old was constantly crying. And when I say constantly, I mean constantly. Crying...pitch getting higher and higher! The girl (my sis's friend) had picked her up and was trying to console her...WHILE talking to us in the most normal tones possible. Not a HINT of frustration, or ''maathay pay bal'' !! ... Not a SINGLE time her voice got higher than normal... She laughed and smiled normally, while holding her howling child. And explained to us that since the kids had come from school, they hadn't had lunch - and were just hungry. And mum and I were flabbergasted, and tried to stand up at once, that hey, you can get them to eat, we'll just leave... and she says, oh no no... today lunch got late because the maasi (domestic servant) didnt come.. It doesn't happen everyday. I'll serve them in a little while and it'll be okay. Come on! They're kids, they cry on small matters.

2. The second kid (4 or so years old) was about to cry, and kept tugging at her dupatta. Why? because he didnt want to study Qirat from Qari Sahb.. ! And the mum never turned around and gave the kid a good...er, nothing. Well, she was really really patient.

3. The 5 month old - I picked him up and how happy he looked. The SECOND I put him down in his walker, he started bawling at the top of his lungs. I couldn't hear myself think. I think I nearly ran from the house - as we started to leave. God! The rukus!!

And when we came home, the question in my brain was...''HOW can somebody... who is also a doctor!! (she's a doctor!), giving her FCPS part I I think...in a few months ...MANAGING it ALL!??!?!

With a smile!??!?!?!

Without a SINGLE scowl?!?!?!

And even when no maasi comes...!>!>!>!>>!

Howwwwwww??????????????????????????


The answer to this is obvious. The girl herself is the patient one! She bears whatever trials she has, with a cheerful face and disposition! Never ONCE we felt that we have inconvenienced her, by coming to her house at a bad time or something. Never once. Not by any shade of tone! [And I tried to detect it!]. Mum, after listening to my total surprise when we reached home, remarked ... ''Humain is liay strange lag raha hay because hum khud aisay hain!!"...

*worried*... I haven't been tested with 4 kids driving me crazy ... but I can sure predict I won't be so patient...!

And I am determined to try ....otherwise! [Insha Allah multiplied by 1000000].

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Honesty. Ever heard of too much honesty? :D.. I actually LIKE too much honesty. There is nothing more appreciated than hard - cold - truth. So one day, when I was totally new to the university where I did my bachelors, this girl comes up to me and the conversation goes like this:

Girl: Hey, are you Uni?
Me: Hey, yeah I sure am!
Girl: Have you gotten transferred from XYZ Uni?
Me: Sure I have! How'd you know?
Girl: I go to coaching with this group of people, and one of them comes from XYZ Uni. FA. FA told us about you!
Me: Nice. What did FA say?
Girl: *genuinely looking very puzzled*... Well, FA said some really really nice stuff, so we thought you'd be brilliant and zabardust and all... but you.... *trails off*
Me: *grinning so wide it hurt!* - So me...????
Girl: Er, *blurts out*..laikin tum to aisi nahi ho!! [But you're not like that!].
Me: (thinking: honesty kee hadd hogayyee yaani keh)...... : Well yeah, I'm definitely not like that. You can see I'm totally average. Below average even... So Im glad you found out Im no piece of brilliance.. :P. And btw, FA and I never interacted much too. So easy to get a wrong impression you know..
Girl: Well, yeah. We were just wondering what was so special about you.
Me: Well now you know... *grinning*... nothing!
Girl: *looks relieved that I hadn't minded, and moved away*

How extremely honest :P. I appreciated it a lot. Because it gave me the humility that is always needed - comes in useful at the most needd of times. Also, it gave me the chance to look at myself, and try to improve in the areas where it was needed. Lastly, it gave me a really good laugh of the day! :D. So much so, that I still recall this conversation... and smile when I think of it.