Sunday, October 16, 2016

I am just different, I am Autistic

I am a child, a loving, caring child. I am Autistic.

It means that ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches that any of you may not even notice can be highly excruciating for me to absorb. My environment often feels hostile.

Today I went to the shopping mall with my dad and this is what I felt.

'My hearing is very sharp, very acute ... termed as Hyperacute. It feels as if hundreds of people are jabbering at once. Music blares from the sound system. Too many people are walking. Too many noises of check out registers, 'hellos' by sales person, kids running,  babies wail, carts creak, older people walking with walking sticks, slamming and dazzing of doors'.

 My brain can’t filter all the input...

My sense of smell may also be highly sensitive.  The big fluorescent lights are not only too bright, they flicker. The space seems to be in constant motion.

There are too many items for me to be able to focus lights on the ceiling, so many human beings in constant motion, so many voices all jumbled up together.

All this affects how I feel just standing there,scared and confused...

Please understand me, I am Autistic!

Don't be scared!
I am just different!

Life is to create memories, not just to collect money!

Life is about creating lovely memories and maybe not just about saving certificates...

(this is the story of a friend's parents my friend personally asked me to write his life story and put on my various blogs)

October 2016
Just picked up three large boxes from the front door at my mother's house.

' What did you order this time', I asked Mama.

' New towels and sheets for all the bedrooms, I got a good deal on them', she showed them to me.

These simple things, buying ordinary house hold items has given my mother some sort of relaxation and it has given me a lot of pleasure seeing her buy things whenever she wanted to buy them.

Growing up I had never seen my mama spending money,freely. it was not that our family was tight on money. My Dad worked in a big Multinational Company. He made good money, Mama worked at my younger sister's school. Dad was a 'penny pincher' or a 'tightwad' to be specific. He believed in saving ...saving a lot of money and never spending any!
He spend only 30% of what he earned, rest was always deposited in the savings account. He made Mama put most of her pay-check in the savings account as well. We were four siblings two brothers and two sisters. Most of my younger siblings clothes were hand me downs, we rarely went out for dinner or on vacations. It was all waste of money according to Dad.

Dad was not an angry or rude person, he just did not want to spend money. Even at the grocery store he looked for the cheapest cereal brand or apples which were on sale.

He gave mama a certain amount of money every month for groceries and other utilities. We were allowed to buy a new dress and shoes  just for our birthday or a religious celebration. We had very few toys. We had one old car which was used by Dad, rest of us used public transport.

My friends at school used to talk about new restaurants they went to with their families or when they went shopping. I used to dream when my family will go to a fancy restaurant for dinner.

I started to mow our neighbor's lawn when I turned 15. They paid me $45 after a month. I felt as if I am the richest person in the world. I asked Mama to take me to the mall so I can buy the black colored sweat shirt I always wanted to buy. On our way back I told Mama that I will take our family for a family dinner next month when I get payed. She smiled and hugged me!

Next month I collected $80 by mowing lawns of two of our neighbors. ' Lets go out for dinner' , I asked everyone to get ready.
' Why should we go out, why to spend so much money,we all can eat a home cooked meal for 1/2 the price', Dad insisted.

' We go out for fun' I replied.
' You guys go, I will not', Dad was not interested.
We all went...Mama and us siblings and we had so much fun! We laughed, talked about school, friends and enjoyed our pizza!

Time passed me and my siblings started baby sitting neighborhood kids or mow lawns or cleaned windows so we could make some extra money and buy stuff for ourselves.

When I got admission in an Ivy League College my teachers, my mother and I all were super excited.
' What an achievement', my school principal called my parents.

' I want you to study at an In state College, these Ivy Leagues are too expensive and it doesn't even matter', Dad did not want to spend a lot on my college tuition.

' Please Dad take a loan I will pay you back when I get a job', I pleaded. Mama and I spent weeks pleading my case but in the end it was Dad who won the discussion.

His point was that he is saving money for retirement, he can't send four kids to very expensive colleges then he will not be able to save anything.

Maybe he did not realize that spending  on your child's education  is also a great investment.

I was in my final year in college when I received a call from my mother early in the morning that my dad has suffered a massive heart attack. I rushed to the hospital. The doctors told us that his heart was working only 25% and his condition was pretty bad. The doctors took him for angioplasty. Later on Outpatient physical therapy helped Dad regain some of his strength. He went back to work after two months. That evening when he came back he looked very tired.

'I saved a lot of money for retirement but it seems as if I will not live long to enjoy life after retirement. On the bright side I will leave enough for all five of you, you guys can live comfortably after I am gone' , he said at dinner time.

'We don't care about the money we just want you to always be with us, you will be fine, soon!', my mother replied with tears in her eyes.

Dad passed away few weeks after my college graduation. Both my sisters were in college at that time and my brother in last year of high school. He left a lot of money for us in the savings account. Mama collected  a big check from the life insurance policy.

All of a sudden we had all the money at our disposal which we always wished we had, we all could spend the money there was no one to stop us but we just couldn't...we all missed Dad. We felt awful he never enjoyed the money  he had, he was just busy in saving every penny.

Mama was in terrible state. I got a job, moved back in my parents house so I could be close to my mother, so I could take care of her!

'You have to start all over again, Dad is gone but we have to live our lives', I said to her.

Slowly after almost a year Mama went back to her job. She enrolled my younger brother in one of the best Universities in the country. She started buying things for herself, for us, for the house. She bought a new car for herself and gave the old car to my sister. Both my sisters came to town for summer break, we all went out a lot for dinner,shopping and movies. We talked,laughed and enjoyed 'quality family time' but I could tell all of us missed Dad every day.

Sometimes I sit in our backyard and look up in the sky, I am sure Dad would be looking down at us and smiling!

Thanks Dad for all the financial planning and investments but I wish that 'you' could  join us during those 'quality family outings'...I wish, I really do!

Save Money; yes for sure but don't forget to Enjoy Life!
Don't forget to create memories...

Sunday, September 4, 2016

sometimes bad things have to happen so good things can...

I saw his picture on Facebook this morning,he and his wife together  at one of our distant cousin's wedding!
All of a sudden I thanked him!
I thanked him, while looking at his picture! Thanks for my two beautiful children, thanks for an adoring husband and most of all thanks for a very happy life...

It was summer of 1996, my Khala called my mother to ask for my hand in marriage for her son who was a banker in New York. He was few years older than me, well educated and good looking. My parents were not that well off, I was their eldest daughter, they were very happy to hear that and immediately said 'Yes'.
'Wedding will be next month', said Khala.
My mother started the shopping and Daddy booked the ball room at a local hotel.
Azlan my cousin  and my fiancĂ©  returned to Pakistan a week prior to our wedding day!
He came over for dinner at our house, did not talk much!
He called my sister the morning of the mehndi ceremony and asked if he can meet her and me at the local coffee shop!
My sister teased him that the groom should not meet the bride a day before the wedding  ceremony.
'It is very important', he insisted.

Azlan told us about his friend Alina whom he really like and want to marry her, he tried to convince his parents but they refused to listen to him. Alina was older than him and divorced.  His parents did not want a slightly older divorced girl marry their only son. So as to solve the problem Khala asked for my hand in marriage, she wanted him to marry me within a month so he can move on in life and forget Alina. How convenient? My aunt thought things will change very easily?

But her son did not!

I started to cry, the news was very shocking but my sister said its good that he informed us prior to the wedding. Azlan met my parents that evening and told them that he can't marry their daughter, he can never be happy with anyone else beside Alina. My mother got very angry but my Daddy said its ok, their daughter will certainly be better off without him!

My parents called off the wedding two days before the scheduled date!
Azlan left for NY, my Khala and Khalu tried to apologize but my mother never replied to their phone calls. All the wedding decorations were taken off, mithai and florist orders were canceled. My parents had to answer a gazillion questions of nosy relatives and friends, they did it, we all did it...

I was very heartbroken, after few months I returned back to college to complete my masters.

And we prayed...
And we moved on...

After a year I got married to Zarak son of a family friend who was settled in Dubai. Zarak means 'blessing' and he was definitely a blessing. I am living a very happy married life with him, we are parents of two boys. Life could not be better!

I am Liela the luckiest girl on this planet...
And thanks to Azlan for breaking our engagement two days prior to our wedding day!

Sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can!

Monday, August 29, 2016

It's JB vs JB James Bond vs Jason Bourne

who is the 'ultimate spy Jason Bourne or James Bond'?

One roams around in a  dinner suit, custom shoes, expensive cuff-links and all!The other wears a casual charcoal colored sweater and quite ordinary outerwear. One has an entourage of vehicles and some awesome  technical gizmos at his disposal. The other moves in borrowed trucks and bikes, tracking his way through maps.

James Bond is very charismatic he works in a league under M’s unwavering leadership and the infinite bankroll of MI6. Bond works for the government, his sympathies are with the program, with the government.

On the contrary Bourne is the complete opposite. He is an outsider, the total reverse working against the corrupt forces working within the government entities but against the bigger moral values of the government. His goal is to root them out. All he wants is to get out of the bigger fight and just relax but sadly he is roped back into the craziness again and again, against his will.

 Jason Bourne wants to wipe out the corruption which turned him into an assassin. Quite rightfully he wins every time mainly because for his morality and sanity.

In short Jason Bourne is ' real' in fact the 'real deal' and James Bond is 'fascination', the one who 'powerfully appeals'...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Unifying Power of Sports


For the last couple of days pictures of Egypt's women's beach volleyball team playing against Germany's team during an Olympic 2016 match has swept the internet. One lady wearing a full body suit which covered her entire body from head till her toes while the other one playing wearing just a bikini.Many people focused on what divided the players, what was so different many others focused on what united them.
It was termed as  a 'culture clash' but I guess it was the unifying power of sports, the spirit of sportsmanship and most importantly the passion to represent one's homeland on the national stage.

It is a beautiful and diverse world we live in. It may be afflicted with war, terror and social disparity but it is still beautiful. It is not a cultural clash and it certainly not is a cultural difference but it is a celebration of the many cultures of the world.

The international volleyball federation (FIVB) altered the uniform regulations shortly before the 2012 London Games so it wouldn’t exclude cultures that might be turned off by the standard bikinis or shorts uniforms.

Saudi  Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei entered female athletes for the first time in 2012 London Olympics so that every eligible country has sent a female competitor to at least one Olympic Games. A great achievement for female athletes of the world in particular and women in general.
Our world today in the year 2016 is plagued with more terrorism than any other time. Despite all the the problems and security scares before the games  IOC was able to gather  10,000 best athletes in the world, competing with each other, at the same time living peacefully together in one Olympic Village.
The athletes are there to compete, to show their abilities to the people of the world and most of all to prove that the values of humanity shared by them and many other citizens of the world are stronger than the forces which divide them.

IOC's Olympic refugee team ... comprising of 10 athletes who have fled war or poverty were present to compete in Rio, two athletes one North Korean and another South Korean took a selfie, a hijabi athlete marched in front with team USA, Iran's flag bearer was a girl on a wheel chair who is an Olympic and Paralympic Archer and the images of the German and Egyptian female beach volleyball team all a symbol of hope and  that the world is still beautiful, people still care and spirit of competition is greater than fear.

Sports can bring people, can unite them under the umbrella of a certain sport which they can play and enjoy... maybe in a slightly different attire but with the common spirit of sportsmanship.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Why are we so good at Being Envious

Why are we so good at 'Being Envious' and awful at 'Being Courteous'

A Pakistani can be so good at what he or she does, on the contrary a group of Pakistanis can be terrible together as a group.

Why is that as a group we Pakistanis generally drift apart or are unsuccessful ?

My humble answer is 'Envy' and 'Jealousy', it is extremely sad yet it is the bitter reality...

Let it be a neighbor getting jealous of his or her neighbor, let it be a co-worker trying to disgrace a fellow co-worker or a family member killing a female family member in the name of 'honor killing'.

Killing someone is 'never honorable', not all, no way!

It happens because we can't accept others  'being liked' or 'being popular' than us, may it be a mother in law showing attitude to her very talented daughter in law or a husband criticizing his smart wife or a rising social media star killed by her brother...

Qandeel Baloch was an overnight Internet Celebrity. She was bold and brave and quite outrageous.She was very different from the ordinary Pakistani Women.

She instigated a debate in Pakistan on whether choosing to defy family and society symbolized  women's empowerment or it was just a popularity stunt?

Ms Baloch labelled as the Pakistani Kim Kardashian became a household name for posting sometimes very bold, often raunchy photographs, she may be an attention seeker and the not so 'naik Parveen' but to kill her, not right, no way...

Qandeel Baloch tweeted "If you have strong will power definitely nothing can let you go down. Life has taught me lessons early. My journey from a girl to a self-dependent woman was not easy"!

 In life she was labeled as attention seeker, opportunist or 'chichorey' but her death has transformed her status to being brave and the one who defied the stereotypes.

Just wondering why Masculinity in Pakistan is thinner than the thinnest paper which can be easily squished.

Life is to be protected and respected!!

When will we grow up to focus on ourselves and not just be the 'gossip-loving', 'society gazing', 'envious' human beings, WHEN?

RIP a human being

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Iron Lady #2


United Kingdom is about to usher in a new leader who is steady and strong ...
And a woman!
She is being compared to the last woman who ran the country: Margaret Thatcher.

Like Thatcher aka Iron Lady who served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990, Home Secretary Theresa May has a reputation for steely determination and the immense courage to stand up to the men who traditionally dominate British politics.
May joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the leader of one of Europe's most powerful nations. If Hillary Clinton wins the U.S. presidential race in November, women would be in charge of the Western world's three powerful countries.
May, 59, emerged as the leader of the U.K. Monday when her only rival for Conservative Party leader, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom, 53, dropped out of the race.