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.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Drama UDAARI...a celebration of motherhood

a celebration of motherhood

The horror of childhood abuse can often linger for a lifetime, with higher rates of depression, anxiety and drug abuse found among abuse survivors.
Child abuse, child molestation or any other type of inappropriate behavior like starring, inappropriate  touching or verbal abuse is faced by almost every fifth young child in this world. It is a painful subject to discuss but it cannot be resolved by just keeping it locked in a box.

Sheeda, Muneera and Sajida are ordinary women but extraordinary mothers...

These ladies are the very humane characters of Hum TV drama Udaari. This drama is quite different from so many other dramas mainly for two reasons; for discussion about child abuse on national tv and for its portrayal of few very strong, open minded women.
While many viewers debate that it should be taken off-air for discussing the painful topic of child abuse. My humble opinion is somewhat different I think this drama is a celebration of those strong women in our country who know very well how to protect their families and their communities.

I salute all three women because they are there to take care of their children, trust their children and protect their children...

Many mothers could not or maybe tried not hard or were scared to protect their children...

Nomi was  a 8 year old kid who was abused by his religious tutor very often, he tried to run, tried to protest but to whom? His mother would leave for shopping once the teacher entered the house. Nomi' s mother was well-educated quite confident lady but she could not protect her child. After months of abuse, one day his father came home early and caught the teacher.

Sila was inappropriately touched by her mother's cousin, she gathered courage to tell her mother but was told to remain quite. Family and friends should not be know about it. Everything should stay the same, Sila should wear a duppatta and no western outfits. From that time onwards Sila would lock herself in her bathroom during family get togethers. She was scared but she had no one to care for her. Her mother was a professional lady they lived in a big city. The mother did not step up to protect her child.

Sana had expensive toys and dresses but she had no protection, she was abused by her nannies. Her parents were successful industrialists. They had to travel a lot for work. Sana started protecting her baby sister Sasha once she got little older.

Mothers all over the world please protect your children, all the time, every day. I know it is very difficult in a conservative society like ours where joint family lifestyle is very common and where social and family pressures are hard to tackle. And to fathers please help your wives taking care of the children, it's just not a mother's job to raise children.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Baar Baar dekho, Hazaar Baar dekho

Baar Baar dekho, Hazaar Baar dekho

So many us have seen the famous image of Hollywood Icon Marilyn Monroe standing over a New York City air vent. After so many years people are getting attracted to a new image of Marilyn. This new image is quite Desi...
Yes, Ms Monroe has been transformed into a 'Desi Haseena', she is wearing a brightly colored, flowery printed angarkha, her hair in a beautiful paranda, with gold juhmkas in her ears and chappals on her feet. As soon as the image went viral, through social media it was an instant hit. People all over the globe started praising the artist Summaiya Jillani, she named that particular piece as “Baar baar daikho, hazaar baar daikho”.
The talented artist is a resident of Karachi,Pakistan.A graduate of Visual Arts department of Karachi University. Jillani is a 'pop-artist', her inspiration the rich culture of her country, especially of her city of lights...
She has given other famous artists like Farida Khalo and Beatles, also a Desi-makeover.
Jillani has added her artistic touches to the brochure of musical program Coke Studio.

( thanks Amna Alam Husain for the introduction)

Monday, May 30, 2016

Life is short enjoy it and don't criticize others

Life is short enjoy it with Laughter, Companionship and Love and let others do the same...

'She married an older guy, father of four children, he is quite wealthy I guess that was the reason Aunty Jee got attracted to Uncle Jee', one of my old friend informed me about Ayesha second marriage who happens to be one of our common friend.

Ayesha is an old friend, she also is a widow who has two teenaged sons. She had worked really hard, her boys are very confident, hard working, nice kids. One is leaving for college in England this fall other one is a year younger. I guess she took the right decision of marrying again, soon both of her kids will be in college and studying in another country. I guess she had been a terrific mother who raised her children single handily after her husband passed away.

Now when she has remarried that is good too, she will not be lonely and depressed, she will be with her husband. The same is true for her husband, he is a divorced father of four, who sees his children only for few days during the year as two of them are married and the other two live with their mother.

Even though Ayesha and her husband Ayub are both somewhat middle aged, they have been married earlier and both of them have children but I guess they made the right decision of marrying a second time instead of just being lonely, depressed or  be dependent on their children all the time.

Our religion and society has given each citizen to live life according their own choice. Yet according to our Desi standards it is still regarded as something 'unusual', ' to be talked about', along with abundant comments from people all over  ' why are they getting married at an old age?', ' burhapey mey Shaadi'.
Too many critical remarks,too much negativity, BUT Why ?

A  great companionship elevates one"s conscious and evolves a person then why to criticize?

Maybe it's time to think differently...

Saturday, May 7, 2016

I am my mother's son


My name is Ahsan Khan. I am a son, a father, a husband, a brother and a father-in-law and I try to respect all the nice, kind hearted women around me...

I was raised in a feudal landlord family in Pakistan. We had numerous cotton and rice farms. Men were the center of attention in our family and women were there just to take care of the house, to bore children, to listen to anger or criticism. My earliest memories are of my father screaming at my mother and sisters and spoiling me every bit. I was my father"s most prized possession, his only son who was born after two daughters. One of my uncle once told me that my father would have remarried if my mother would have given birth to another girl. 

We lived in a Big Haveli along with my Uncle’s family and my grandparents. Men made all the decisions in the house, all the men went to college to study but the girls were not allowed to study after 10 grade. My grandfather bought me and my cousin new cars on our 18th birthdays. 

“Go have fun,” he said.

My father and uncle"s daily routines included talking to the farmers and "munshi jee", driving big cars around town, yelling at their employees and their wives. Aba jee as I called him, bought expensive gifts for me.He spent a lot of money on me but had very little time for me due to his so-called "very busy" lifestyle.  At a very young age I found out about many of his extramarital affairs. I did not like that, got very angry but did not say anything because I did not want my mother to find about it. 

My mother was a quiet, gentle woman. Her mission in life was to raise three strong, hard working, noble children.I had seen tears in her eyes on a number of times but she never complained in front of us, her children. She loved me and my sisters alike. She taught me that strong men treat the women around them with respect may she be his mother,sister,teacher or servant. She picked us up from school, helped us with homework. She was present at each and every school activity me or my sisters participated.  Every night she told me the story of Prophet Muhammed how he treated others and especially women with respect. She taught me to respect all maids in the house and not to scream at them.

“You don't scream at an older lady who is working day and night for you,” she said.

I still remember Mama saying "One person can transform the lives of many others". 

My older sister was the first woman in our family who went to college. It took my mother many months to convince my father to let her go to college. She was so happy that day, I think I have never seen her that happy. Mama taught me compassion, honesty and integrity. She was my guiding light! and my teacher and my reformer. 

After my grandparents died my uncle and his family moved to Dubai. I got admission in MBA. I wanted to expand our family business to many other foreign markets. Both my parents accompanied me to my graduation. Aba jee was proud of his son and Mama was proud of the gentleman she has raised. 

When I started working in our sugar mills, my mother reminded me "respect others, they will respect you too!"

After a year I got married my mother said the same thing “respect your wife, she will respect you!" 

Few days after our marriage my father asked my wife to make tea for him. When she brought tea for him he screamed " you call this tea, it's horrible, throw it away". She got nervous and I could see her hands trembling. I went to my father said " Aba Jee, Ayesha will make another cup of tea for you but you have to promise me that you will never talk to her in this tone". 

Aba jee looked at me “I am your father,” he said.
“Yes and I am your son who wants his father to respect his wife,” I said in an affirmative tone. 

Both my parents looked at me, my father angry and confused. My mother with sheer pride. She had raised a son who respect women. Her hard work has paid off and she was able to raise that one person who was very different...

Mama passed away few years after that incident. Both my sisters are happily married. I am a father myself of two children a son and a daughter. I love them both equally, I respect and love my wife dearly and I also respect the many employees who work for me. Aba jee lives with us, he is suffering from Alzheimer's, he often forgets my name and that I am his son but he asks about Mama very often, maybe he wants to apologize...

But she cannot come back...

Today on Mother’s Day I am so grateful to my mother for raising not just a son but a man who knows how to respect everyone around him...

Love you Mama...

Friday, May 6, 2016

Life is not just to be helpful but life is to be useful


Life can be cruel, life can be strange. Life is also precious and life is unpredictable,  you never know what is coming next. Just be grateful and stay positive. 

There is nothing more noble in this world  than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for someone else, maybe a complete stranger.
This World is full of wonderful people. I am glad I found some of them...

I belong to a middle class family. I was the only son, my parents wanted me to become an engineer. My father was a government employee, we lived in a small house in the outskirts of the city. He was an honest man, we lead a decent life. Our parents always emphasized on the importance of good education. 

Our lives shattered all of a sudden on a warm summer afternoon when my father died in a traffic accident. I was 15 years old at that time. The little savings what we had were gone in few months, my mother started working in a local factory and my uncle started helping us financially what little he could do. 

I started teaching neighborhood children while studying for my intermediate examinations. I thought I will collect enough money so as to pay for first two years of college and later I will try to apply for scholarship. I did not want to burden my mother or uncle anymore. 

I got very happy when I checked my result online. I got very good grades. "Ami now I can get admission in NED University of Engineering, the largest engineering university in the entire city of Karachi, now you can also tell people that your son will be engineer very soon", my mother hugged me and started to cry. My sisters bought mithai and we all celebrated that evening but our happiness was short lived. Next morning my mother fell down from the rickshaw and injured her hip bone.

"We need to operate on her immediately, she is in pain,” the doctor told me. 

"Ok you can do the surgery, I will deposit the money,” I went home and brought the money I saved for my education. My mother"s health was definitely far more important than my education. 

Ami came home after 10 days, she was much better. Her factory gave her 8 weeks paid medical leave. 
"Beta how will you pay for college fees?" she was worried. 

"Don't worry Ami I will take admission in Bsc and will continue with tutoring kids and will collect money in the next two years,” I replied.

"My dear you will be work hard day and night again for two years,” she started to cry. 

"Don't worry Ami,” I tried to console her. 

“Inshallah God will reward you,” she prayed. 

Indeed God listened to my mother’s prayer and rewarded me. The next day one of my friends told me about NED scholars, a scholarship started by few NED University Alumni to help students who need financial help. I sent all the details to them, they invented me for interview. I got the good news the next week when the NED scholars sent me an email explaining that my entire tuition will be paid by them and I can start my education at the university next month with the new class. 

Time passed and by the Grace of God, prayers of my mother and help from NED Scholars, I graduated from NED University as an Electrical Engineer. 

I work in a local multinational company now, just got a new car, my younger sisters are studying and older one got married last year. 

This scholarship not only helped me but my entire family...
The purpose of life is not just to be happy but to be useful...

Monday, May 2, 2016

God Listens... Just keep faith

just keep faith

Linda is my friend"s sister she is a successful lawyer settled in Tennessee. She got married to Tim when both of them were 28 years old. They both are successful lawyers.Their story is that of perseverance and of their strong belief in their faith.

They both adored children. Both were healthy individuals but even after many years of getting married they did not have any kids. After 5 years the couple started their long ordeal of fertility treatments. Approximately after 3 years and after two failed IVF treatments they were advised to go for adoption.

During that time Tim was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. He was lucky that it was caught at an early stage. He had to go through 7 months of treatment after which he was declared cancer free. Linda was by him through the entire ordeal. After 2 years of Tim"s diagnosis the couple decided to adopt a baby. They signed up for adoption. After few months they received a call from New York that their "baby" will arrive in few weeks and they should fly to New York to meet the birth mother. Linda was so happy that she rushed to the store, bought many clothes,accessories for the baby,ordered new furniture for the Baby"s room. They both decorated the baby"s room in the shades of blue and brown as they were informed that they are going to be the adopted parents of a baby boy. They flew to NY the following week.

The baby was born on Monday morning in January, they were so happy when the held him for the first time. They named him Adam. But their happiness was short lived, after two days and before signing the final documents they got the devastating news that the birth mother has refused to give the baby for adoption.
Both Linda and Tim were heart broken, they quietly packed their stuff and left for the airport.

Tim went to the office the next day, he asked Linda to go to her mom"s or a friend"s house. "I don't want you to stay home all alone,I know you are very sad", he said.
"I am extremely sad but I have not given hope, I have complete faith in God", she replied.

After Tim left Linda opened the door of the nursery and looked around, she started to cry. Linda sat on the floor and cried for hours, she asked God why can't she not become a mother? Is she not a good person?

Life once again moved on both Linda and Tim started going to work. After four months Tim surprised Linda by arranging a one week vacation to China. She had studied Mandarin in school and always wanted to see the Great Wall of China. It was the perfect Birthday present for her.

"I have a bad headache maybe I am jet legged", she said after arriving at the hotel. Her headache and nausea got worse the next day. So instead of sight seeing Tim took her to a local hospital to get some medicine for nausea. The doctor gave her some pain medication but also advised some tests before taking the medication. The next day they received a call from the hospital. Tim did not understand mandarin so he gave the phone to Linda. "Congratulations you are pregnant, the test results came in this morning ", the nurse said.
"What ,How,Are you sure?", she was confused.
"Yeah we are sure", she had waited 12 years to hear this news.

Linda, the lady who has tried every medical treatment, endured so much heart ache, had went through a failed adoption process and whose husband had fought cancer bravely, got pregnant naturally on her 40th birthday.

When she told Tim, they both started to cry.

"After all God listens to everyone, he listened to our prayers"...
"Maybe we should have come to China many years back"...
It was a miracle,maybe more than a miracle!

They went back home after few days, they welcomed their son John Adams, a very healthy and active baby. He was born after 34 weeks after his parents returned from China, on a chilly January morning exactly a year later after his parents flew to NY for the failed adoption process.

God always listens, just keep faith...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Selflessness, Humility and Nobility... Dr Adeeb Rizvi


marks of an honorable person

There is a Chinese saying“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime help others"!

This morning a friend told me a very tragic but a moving true story which made me realize that there are still so many noble people in Pakistan who know very well how to take care of each other.

It's the story of a old retired college professor who worked hard all his life, raised 5 children, one son and four daughters. His daughters are all settled in Karachi but he sent his son to United States to study medicine, his son did his residency and decided to settle in USA. The parents never complained, life moved on they received few hundred dollars every month from the son and few visits from him from time to time. The mother passed away three years back and after her death the father was diagnosed with renal failure, he needed dialysis. His older daughter whom he stayed with called her brother " Abu needs medical care, why don't you call him to US and get his dialysis over there, he will be happy to spend some time with your children".

" Treatment will be very expensive I can't afford it, I will send some money, you guys take him to a doctor there", the son replied.

Soon the daughters took their father to SIUT ( Sindh institute of urology), they met with Dr Adeeb Rizvi the head of the institute who guided them about the treatment plan. Soon his treatment started, Dr Rizvi greeted him every time he arrived for dialysis sat with him for some time, talked about his college, politics and cricket. Soon the doctor and the patient became good friends.

The father died after a year, when his son came for the funeral, the daughter handed him an envelope with $15,000 which he had sent for his fathers treatment and a letter.

" My dear Beta, I tried my best to teach my son the importance of good education, hard work, your mother and I worked very hard to make you an honest and trustworthy human being but we failed in teaching you "nobility", nobility in your deeds and selflessness.We failed to teach you to help others. I salute Dr Rizvi"s parents who taught their son nobility, who left a prosperous career in UK to come back to Pakistan to help the sick and the poor families of this country. Please Beta try to teach nobility to your children otherwise you will miss your well educated physician son everyday in the final months of your life, I was lucky enough to find another son in Dr Adeeb Rizvi but maybe you will not...", wrote the father in his letter.

 The public healthcare system in Pakistan, as in many developing countries, struggles with extreme shortage  of resources. Sindh  Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) is  one man’s passion to provide top-class medical treatment, at no cost to the poor and sick people of his country.

In 1972, Dr  Rizvi set up a small urology unit in Karachi in Civil Hospital Karachi.

SIUT has grown from just eight beds to over 650 beds at nine separate centres across Pakistan and today is the largest health organisation in the country.
I have met Dr Rizvi just once very briefly but have heard many stories about his dedication to his work. He is the first one to arrive at SIUT in the morning and the last one to leave.He is a friend to all his patients and his employees. Everyone( patients from any background)is treated equally in SIUT.

I am thankful to God for everything He has given me, for all His blessings. I also wish and pray for nobility in my deeds...

Postpartum Depression; a disease which needs to be addressed

Postpartum Depression; a disease which needs to be treated

I was very happy that finally after so many years,I will have a baby, my own baby! I bought so many clothes and toys.
My son was born the day after my 29th birthday, I quit my job at the bank to stay with my son. I was the happiest person in the world.

Suddenly after few days of his birth things changed, I don't know how, I don't know why but I was angry all the time. I started throwing temper tantrums, me and my husband started fighting every day.

I started suffering from depression and severe anxiety.  I was experiencing moments of rage. I couldn't understand what was happening to me and also was unable to explain to others what I felt like. I was stuck in the deepest well of sadness every few days. I was cranky, sleep deprived felt tired most of the time.
I used to sit in a corner and cry for no reason, I thought I am a bad mom...

When ever I looked at my baby I felt very happy but after few minutes the smile faded from my face and I was back to my usual depressed self.
There was no one who understood me, my husband said " you had a normal delivery, baby is fine then why are you acting weird? You are not the first mother who has a newborn baby to care for"
Even my own family and friends expected me to act "perfectly". They wanted to talk, drop by and were asking for baby pictures all the time.

I was suffering from "postpartum depression" and the people of the world thought I am "just making a big deal".

I did not who to talk to? What to do?
I was confused, angry and frustrated at the same time!

PPD can strike without warning, 20% of postpartum moms suffer from it. It can happen to anyone; women with no history of depression or women who have had it before. It can happen to women who are highly successful in their careers or women who stay home with their children.  It can occur after the first baby, or after the fourth.
 It can happen to any woman...
It is a disease which needs to be treated.

That was the 70s, time has changed...

Women do talk about this issue, even high profile Hollywood stars create awareness about this issue!

My name is Raisa I am a mother of 4 and a grandmother now, I work as a councilor with a psychiatrist trying to help young women.

Monday, March 28, 2016

My special family


It was last week when I spotted something unusual in the toy aisle of my local departmental store . Lego's newest figure: A hip-looking stay-at-home dad dressed in a bright red shirt and denim jeans. He was a cute looking dad holding his child in stroller with a working mom standing next to him.

"How sweet, how appreciative, finally", I thought.
With a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face, I bought that Lego set for my daughter.

I am a proud son of two loving individuals whose love story is very unusual yet so beautiful...

My parents met at engineering school in India. They got married in the early 1980s and moved to Canada. Me and my twin brother Sam were born in 1984. Sam was a bright kid but he had problem keeping focus, had difficulty keeping track of time. He was very caring but he had a complicated personality. At the age of 6 he was diagnosed with ADD. Both my parents worked so our grandmother and nanny took care of us in the afternoon till our parents got back from work but as time passed Sam started having more problems in school. Baba and Mama used to spend hours helping him complete his homework. Kids at school started to tease him. We were in 3rd grade when our grandmother passed away. Soon afterwards our nanny also left us. My brother got very sick all of a sudden. Children with ADD generally have deficits in the ability to think and to organize. He needed a lot of attention. Baba and Mama were very worried for him.

Next thing I remember was that my Baba quit his job to take care of Sam and me. He told my mother to continue her work while he will look after the house and the kids. He started taking Sam to the library more often. He taught me to ride the bike, picked us at the bus stop everyday. Cooked for us, took us to the grocery store and to bookshops. All of a sudden Sam started to get better. He was more relaxed and happy. Mama on the other hand tried to help Baba as much she could on the weekends. We all were so happy but then suddenly kids in school and people in the neighborhood started making fun of my Baba.

" Your dad does not has a job, all he does is make sandwiches for you and play in the backyard with you, my dad said that I should better not turn out like him"

" Hey, you're dad is just Mr. Mom"

"Daddy baby sitter"

All these comments and that weird look in people"s eyes made me sad, made me angry...

Yes my family was a bit unusual among all the other Desi Families in our community.

Then one day Mama took me to the ice cream shop and said "let people say what they are saying but you and Sam and I know that Baba is doing such a great job by taking care of you guys, our family is very different and very unique from all other families, we are the best"

Yeah my family was so unique, so special we had a loving father who take care of us and the house, we had our mother who worked 9-5 every day for us. Both our parents respected each other, Mama never looked down at Baba and he never seemed angry or ashamed at being home all day doing the housework.

My brother Sam has gotten so much better now he works at a local departmental store. I am a successful lawyer, happily married and father of a little girl. My parents have started a small online business. Baba still takes care of all the chores around the house and Mama respects him and loves him, maybe more than any other Desi wife I know...

I am a proud son of a Stay-at-home dad and a professional mother...

Republican Primary getting raunchier every day

getting raunchier everyday

From the time when the world discovered how ugly looking Carly Fiorina is to  Big Donald eating Little Marco, Republican presidential primary is the best reality show around these days. It has something new and entertaining to offer every week.
The candidates have not only taken jabs at each other but also have discussed all important issues relating to the 2016 elections including sharing private information about their "private parts". Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are recently engaged in a full time Twitter war trading barbs over their wives.

After an anti-Trump group ran Facebook ads in Utah ahead of Tuesday’s primary that featured a nearly-nude shot of Melania Trump, Mr Trump roared"I will spill the beans on your wife!” Cruz tweeted "if you try to attack Heidi, you’re more of a coward than I thought!"

This country has bigger problems than which presidential candidate has a "notable wife", republican presidential primary 2016 is far better than any reality tv show which gets raunchier every week!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Criticism getting Attention; Addressing the critics of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Just because "Criticism calls for Attention"

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. 
~Winston Churchill 
Last night was a triumphant night for Pakistan when filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won second Academy Award for her country. Not only did she win for her short feature documentary "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness", about honor killings Chinoy also delivered a strong acceptance speech about the power and strength of women and that it is the power of films and in particular this one which was able to make a change in her home country. 
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif screened the film at his residence in Islamabad few days before the Academy Awards Ceremony and reiterated his commitmentto ending the practice of "honor" killings in Pakistan. 
However it is so ironic that everyone was not happy with her win. Shortly after her speech in Beverly Hills criticism of Obaid-Chinoy began circulating on social media under the hashtag #WeDisownSharmeen, the major criticisms being that her documentaries that, only show the negative side of Pakistan. There are many good and praise-worthy aspects of Pakistan which are not being filmed by her. Another accusation that she does this to seek attention from western media who generally sympathize with the "bechari female victims" of a third world Islamic Country. 

Well I just don't agree with such remarks. A filmmaker speaking about potentially life-threatening concepts of ‘respect’ or "honor" of a family is not only helping the victim but is also creating awareness that this concept is morally and religiously wrong. 
Obaid-Chinoy is not defaming’ and ‘disgracing’ Pakistan in my opinion she is helping those sufferers who are being ditched by their own family members in the name of "honor". 
"Yes she will definitely win Oscar as she has worked this time harder to defame & disgrace Pakistan in front of west,” tweeted one critic. 
In my humble opinion Sharmeen is not defaming Pakistan. She has addressed a problem which has not been tackled in the 68 years. Honor killings have been going on for many years in Pakistan, many people did not know about it. Maybe because no one ever had the guts to discuss it! 
To all the critics of Miss Chinoy I would like to say do you know who introduced Lady Gaga on the Oscar stage when she sang her Oscar nominated song about rape ? the Vice President of United States, Joe Biden! 
Gaga gave an emotional performance of her Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary film about sexual assault on college campuses. Gaga appeared on the stage flanked by survivors of sexual assaults. 
The best picture winner at the 2016 Oscars was the film "Spotlight", it is the chilling Pulitzer Prize winning story of sexual abuse chronicled by the Boston Globe. The producers of the film thanked the writers for bringing this painful subject in the media.  

Spotlight did well in bringing a horrible story to the limelight from under covers. Scandals and problems  even the magnitude of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church have now become familiar. 
So do Americans think that the crew and cast of Spotlight are defaming the image of their religious institutions and their country? 
Grammy Award winning singer and a sexual abuse victim herself, Lady Gaga brought the Academy Awards audience to its feet with a flawless rendition of "Til It Happens to You" from the documentary 'The Hunting Ground', was she criticized by her countrymen? 
No not all, social and print media is full of praises for both the film and the song! 
Then why Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and why the people of her native country are criticizing her?
Maybe because they just don't want to accept their flaws or maybe they just want to hide the problems rather than struggle to solve them!
Please people, for a change accept your mistakes, your short comings it will help you conquer them. What do you think by hiding the issues,  they will go away? 
Bringing taboo subjects to an international stage can be perceived by few as an embarrassment for the country. Maybe so, but it looks like a  motivation for bringing change for Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and many other emerging Pakistani film makers who are making films about the subjects of child-marriages, feudalism and abuse.
Maybe it's the beginning of something big something great... a change in the status quo.
Where ever there is life,there is hope! 
The Revolution introduced me to art, and in turn, art introduced me to the Revolution!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Yes! Quetta Gladiators can win

yes the Gladiators can win this one!

It's the eve of PSL Cricket Final, the entire city of Quetta will come to a standstill tomorrow as more than a 1,000 kilometres away in the desert of Dubai the Gladiators... yeah! their very own Quetta Gladiators fight it out for the PSL trophy.

Quetta Gladiators is the team of underdogs, group of few hardworking youngsters who represent a city which rarely gets it fair share of attention on the national stage.Whatever the outcome tomorrow the men in purple under the brilliant mentorship of Sir Vivian Richards who is being termed as Sardar Viv have already won the hearts of the people whose city’s name they wear so proudly across their chest.

Quetta has been put on the world map, it has emerged as a team which plays as a unified group, who are not scared,who always rise again like true Gladiators!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A larger than life Personality Fatima Suriya Bajia


An old lady with white hair, who wore beautiful sarees, who gave warm hugs and who could speak the most perfect Urdu... was Fatima Surraya Bajia.

When ever I saw her picture on the news media she reminded me of my maternal grandmother. I have the privilege of meeting her. She knew the art of making everyone comfortable around her.She was distantly related to my grandparents who migrated from a small town in UP India named Badayun. Bajia"s family moved to Hyderabad Deccan from Badayun and settled there. In 1948 after riots started in Hyderabad the family moved to Karachi.

She was a gifted writer but few people know that she never attended a school or college. She was home schooled by the elders in her family. After migrating to Pakistan her father and grandfather died within few years. The responsibility of raising 10 children came on the shoulders of her mother and Bajia being the eldest helped her what ever she could. They sew dolls in traditional dresses which were sold in the Gul-e-Rana Centre started by Begum Rana Liaquat Ali Khan. Later on the Bajia and her younger sister Sughra who were experts at stitching "ghararas" started perhaps the first bridal boutique in the city of Karachi.The two sisters along with their mother stitched ghararas for clients.

Mrs Sughra Kazmi and her daughter in law Bunto Kazmi( who was another sister Sarah Naqvi"s daughter) are still to this day are regarded as the most esteemed bridal designers in Pakistan.

Bajia started writing TV dramas for Pakistan television in the 60s. Her dramas focused on the Muslim culture and heritage of the sub-continent. Shama,Afshan,Ana,Aroosa are few of her popular dramas. She was also on the advisory board of PECHS College Karachi and Karachi Arts Council. Many of her dramas were translated in Japanese and she was also awarded the highest civil award of Japan.

She never had any children of her own and considered her younger siblings as her children. Her brother Anwer Maqsood is a popular tv personality and artist. Another brother Ahmed Maqsood was a famous Bureaucrat. Sughra Kazmi is a designer, Zehra Nighah is a famous poet who also worked in BBC. The youngest sister Zubaida Tariq is regarded as the Culinary Queen of Pakistan who teaches cooking on various networks.

Fatima Suraya Bajia was more than a motherly figure for the citizens of Pakistan. She was an institution, a human rights activist who tried to help everyone around her. Fatima Surayya Bajia’s timeless work and contribution for urdu literature and for Pakistan television will remind us how a tiny frail lady without any formal degree was able to teach us so much...

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Will 2016 be Leo"s Oscar Year?

Will 2016 be Leo"s Oscar Year?

He is the 41 year old, blue eyed good looking hunk of Hollywood who has earned lots of praises and many accolades in his acting career. He started acting at an early age appearing in the soap opera "Santa Barbara" and later the sitcom "Growing Pains". He has won numerous awards and trophies and is adored by millions of fans all over the globe.

He is Leonardo DiCaprio, one of Hollywood"s most talented and most liked heartthrob.

DiCaprio has fame, friendships and fortune but there is one thing missing from his credentials.Something which every actor desires; the grand trophy the ultimate award ... an Academy Award.

Leo DiCaprio is up for his fifth Oscar nomination this year, after brilliant work in "The Departed"and "The Wolf of Wall Street" it seems as he'll probably win this year as his acting in his latest film "The Revenant" is truly amazing.

At age 22, DiCaprio earned his first Academy nomination in 1994 for his breakthrough role in "What’s Eating Gilbert Grape." As Johnny Depp's developmentally disabled younger brother, he received a nod for best supporting actor. Leo lost to Tommy Lee Jones.

By the time he received his next nomination, in 2005, DiCaprio was an established movie star, having starred in the epic "Titanic," and "Gangs of New York." He was nominated for playing Howard Hughes in "The Aviator," but the award went to Jamie Fox for Ray.

Two years later, DiCaprio was back at the Oscars again. This time, he was nominated for best actor for his role as a diamond smuggler in "Blood Diamond." But it was Forest Whitaker, who won for "The Last King of Scotland".

Many thought DiCaprio would win for his portrayal of a crazy, cunning stockbroker with "The Wolf of Wall Street" but Matthew McConaughey, won the Oscar for his portrayal of an AIDS patient in "Dallas Buyers Club."

DiCaprio also lost as the producer of "Wolf of Wall Street" to "12 Years a Slave".

Leonardo Dicaprio may have a tough competition against Eddie Redmayne of "The Danish Girl" this year and that may be the obstacle in between him and the trophy. Thirty-four-year-old Eddie made a name for himself in "My Week with Marilyn" before getting more attention in "Les Miserables" and then winning an Oscar for his outstanding portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The "Theory of Everything", last year.

Redmayne has played the character of a transgender very beautifully in the "Danish Girl" which is based on a true story.

DiCaprio surely deserve an Academy Award. The question is does he deserve it for his performance in The Revenant? And maybe not just for one film but it's highly likely that Academy voters will think of his body of work more broadly when making the decision. DiCaprio’s depiction of the  bear-battered Hugh Glass serves as the perfect showcase for what have become DiCaprio’s trademark strengths: his surreal portrayal of facial expressions and his physicality.

At the moment, every single expert and pundit at the Hollywood Gold Derby is predicting a win for DiCaprio.

Let's see what happens on February 29,2016...

Oscar or not Leo will still be the ultimate super star for his fans.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lack of Diversity in Hollywood? maybe not...

Lack of Diversity in Hollywood?maybe not
While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is being criticized these days for lack of diversity and for nominating all white actors or directors in all the major category. 
Lack of diversity? 
Yeah maybe because a dark skinned guy or gal is not nominated in major acting or directing categories! 
But which 3 movies captured the attention of Academy Personal in the last 3 years... Gravity, Birdman and Revenant. 
Three spectacular films made by 2 Mexican film makers. 
Isn't that Diversity?
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuaron are called 3 Amigos of Hollywood.They all are Mexican film makers, who have slightly hard to pronounce names and talk with an accent but are incredibly talented film makers. Inarritu's "Babel," and del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," were released almost 10 years back which started the sudden surge of talent Hispanics in Hollywood. Cuaron's "Children of Men," debuted at Venice Film Festival few years back and he won best director in 2014 for Gravity while Inarritu won last year for Birdman in best director, best screenplay and best picture categories.He is nominated again this year for The Revenant.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Absent Fathers; those honorable care-givers

The Absent Fathers
“Those honorable caretakers”

I like playing with Sahab jee and Begum Sahiba"s young son. Every morning he gives me a hug, he calls me Uncle. I take him to school. He is such a nice, well behaved kid, reminds me of my younger son back in my Village. Yeah I have 4 kids, two sons and two daughters. The live in my village with my wife, my father and my mother in Khyber Pakhtun Khuaw province in the northern part of the country. There are not many good paying jobs available in my area so I had to move to Karachi to look for a job. I have been living in this city for almost 12 years. I came here as an 18 year old with my father and learned driving cars. My father moved to Karachi when I was 5 years old, he was unable to find a job in our area and he had many people to take care of; parents, wife and two children, younger siblings. I remember he used to send us letters, my mom used to cry after reading every letter. He came to visit us once every year for five or six weeks. He was a driver with a family in Karachi who lived in a big house. They had given one of their servant quarters to my dad to live in. 

My Abu sent money to us every month, we were able to build more rooms in the house with it. Abu worked with the family for 15 years then he became sick. He suffered two heart attacks and was unable to work. I was 18 years old at that time, I went to Karachi to stay with Abu jee and took care of him. Abu jee taught me how to drive a car. After I got my liscence he went back to the village and I started working in his place. 
I was happy that my mother would not cry and that my father would be with her and my younger brother all the time. I was also scared in the big city with so many cars, people, big traffic lights and noise. I did not know anyone...

As time passed I made friends. I went back home after a year with lots of gifts for every one. My parents and younger brother were very happy to see me. After few days my mother said next time when you will come home, you should get married. 

"Why, not now, I can’t," I replied. 

"I don't want another woman live alone without her husband, children miss their father every day of the year, who they meet after every 10 or 11 months,” I can't do it to myself.

"But for how long,” said mother.

I got married to a distant cousin next year. Left my wife live in the village with my family. It’s been almost 12 years I am father now, I see my family just once a year. I tried once to find a small apartment so I can call them to Karachi. I earn Rs 18,000 I cant afford an apartment in this city and keep my family here. Living is not very expensive in my village and my family lives in my ancestral house. 

I miss my family every day, I wonder how long will this cycle continue? Will my son do the same?
Many people from many small villages travel everyday to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. They all leave their families back and make this journey to earn money for their better future. 

Every year thousands of Pakistanis move to Middle-East or Persian Gulf in search of better, high paying jobs. They too leave their loved ones back home.When will our country will have enough good paying jobs for every citizen in every small town. When will all the fathers stay with their children, every day of every year...