The Waiting Game

It was to be the perfect farewell.

I had the best heading in my mind for how I would write about it;

The Seven Year Bitch

It was going to be catchy, it was going to be poignant. And it would be killing two birds with one stone. I was getting out of a job that I knew was killing me, day by day, minute by minute. And I was getting out of it via the love of my life, writing.

And then I hesitated.

And another year passed.

The Eight Year eye-sore?

I didn’t quite feel the same pull. Let’s give it some more time, it’ll come to me.

And another year passed.

The Nine Year niggle?

When did the job go from becoming a bitch to just a niggle?! At which point had I finally given in to the inevitability of my fate? Was it when I ordered the second plate of oily samosa chat and wiped the stain off of the file which my senior had sent back with some minor (read: hair-tearing) corrections? Or was it the day I found myself finishing a sentence with the words, ‘For your kind approval, please?’ at home?

Whatever it was one thing had become certain, my mind had grown tired of dillydallying and decided on my behalf that I wasn’t going anywhere and so had thrown away its jeans and designer shirts and instead had let the gut hang out in the sarkari baboo suit. I was now institutionalized. No question about it

I am no longer the twenty year old who had the world at his feet. I have responsibilities now that prevent me from taking spur-of-the-moment decisions. And the cold hard facts are that after almost a decade in government service I am still not sure as to what additional capacities I have which would appear promising to a potential employer. The bureaucracy is a glorified post office and the best officers, the ‘shining stars’ are those who are able to ‘network’, move the letter quickly along. And that’s pretty much it, from what I have seen so far. But I could be wrong. I want to be wrong. That is perhaps the only reason why something holds me back. Maybe I am being myopic in my skepticism.

This too shall pass. And maybe I just have to ‘pay my dues’ until one day it will all come together. I can always quit, nobody’s holding a gun to my head.

And so another year passes.

The Ten Year Trauma?

Advertisements

Ice breaker

where did the years go

You spend all your time on this earth searching some meaning in life. And then one day, you find that all this time, life has been staring back at you.
Waiting for you to break the ice.
Sometimes, in fact almost always, all it takes is the first step.
Writings comes easily to me. Like all our other gifts that we are born with, I never really appreciated the joy of writing. Oh I knew I could work my way around a lengthy thesis; get a passable grade on almost zero preparation based solely on my ability to bullshit my way with words. But it’s only with the knowledge of one’s own mortality that one starts taking a more focused interest in one’s inventory.
For me writing enhances a world that otherwise I feel I’m not suited for. I mean it’s not like I feel I am from another planet and ET phone home and all that. It’s just that there are people who are great conversationalist and then there are people like me. We’d rather sit back, observe people, and notice their idiosyncrasies, their quirks.
And of course put in a word now and then, because let’s face it; otherwise we’re just coming across as creeps. I have found that the ability to write helps me become a more functional version of myself. It compliments my other faculties-as in I see more, I empathize more- and in the process, completes me. Countless have been the times when I have found myself in a situation and imagining how I would write that down on paper. I have decided that I will start writing again. The decision isn’t new, I have taken it countless times. Each time, something or the other, usually laziness on my own part, compels me to give up the habit.
I don’t know what I will write about, but I will not let my love for expression be burdened by expectations. For now I will just let my mind wander and my hands gallop on the keyboard as wild horses.
It will come to me..whenever it will.
No hurry.

The Burgers are extra- spicy

dharna

Let us for a moment, talk like the arm chair analysts that we are and not like the Pulitzer prize winners we pretend to be.
Let us for a moment ignore the precedents it would have set and the precedents for it already extant.
Let us make an effort to differentiate between de-politicising a situation and dehumanising it.
Let us fade out the coloured lines. Forget red, blue, green. Let us revert back to black and white.
Let us all take a collective step back .
Exhale.
Let me tell you of an incident that happened to me, many years from now.
When I was thirteen I got a room of my own for the first time. It was the high point of my existence till then. I was the master of my domain. The king of my castle.
The only thorn in my crown being the other occupant, my two year old brother.
In retrospect it shouldn’t have bothered me. How much space could a two-foot child take? I practically owned the place, as depicted by the posters of my idols adorning three fourths of the room. The only exception being the corner occupied by my kid brother in his crib. For all practical purposes he was a guest in my home.
And yet it rankled me.
As long as he stayed within the confines of his crib, I could tolerate him, for a while. But my mother, astute policy maker that she had shown herself to be over the years, had given me the room with a proviso. The room was mine, provided I kept the other occupant, satisfied.
In plain terms, the room was not mine by right, it was a trust, made on an understanding with all of its occupants, that I would not usurp their rights. All fine and dandy when they were just words that I excitedly kept nodding my head to.
Something had to give.
When my brother started crawling, nobody had been happier than I . Of course that had all been before he took up residence in my den. Suddenly nothing two feet from the floor was safe from his tiny hands.
I tried keeping him barricaded in the middle of the room with obstacles that he couldn’t climb over.
In time he learnt to crawl around them. Things came to a head when he managed to crawl under my study table, the seat of my throne, the Kings Landing to my seven kingdoms.
All attempts to drag him out from under there were met with loud wails and hysterical sobs that brought immediate response from my mother.
I had arrived at a deadlock. Force would only give temporary respite. I might get my room back but for how long?
Mother would not let the wails of her youngest go unheard. And once she intervened the decision would no longer be in my hands.
I summoned a meeting of the elders.
My two sisters had also been given a separate room and my action would no doubt affect them too. So it was only fair that I discuss the current dilemma with them.
The two sat impassively as I presented my case; the study area was sacrosanct, if I let my brother enter it, I would be setting precedents with disastrous consequences. Pretty soon he’d be roaming all over the place.
So? They inquired.
But that must never happen.
Why? They inquired.
I owned the room he should limit himself to the crib! I bellowed.
Owned?! They inquired.
Fine, I shared it with him, I huffed.
And? They inquired.
It was a trust shown in us by our parents and we were both equal parties to that trust, I mumbled.
So is the room yours by right? This was getting annoying.
No, but I was the majority by size and I couldn’t give in to the whims of a smaller party, that would show me as a weakling, I sputtered. He’s a mummy-daddy weakling! I earned this room!
And a show of strength against this mummy-daddy baby will prove your strength? They asked, what’s the worst you can do? Lock him in his crib? Once he has endured your worst do you think you will ever be able to use it again without mother finding out? And how much longer after that will you be able to hold sway over the room? On the other hand, what if you let him roam around? He tears your posters? Stick them a bit higher where he can’t reach.
Let him crawl wherever he wants to, how long do you think will he stay there? What’s the worst that can happen? He can’t possibly take over the room. Most probably he will grow tired and bored. You will still have the aura of being bigger without having to show your superiority and he will continue to look up to you for guidance and support. On the other hand if you choose to show him who’s boss, mother will have no choice but to interfere. She will take away our privileges of being responsible adults and you will have wasted, in a moment of arrogance and high handedness, our years of obedience and diligence which led us to our freedom.
It was an eloquent response, I had to agree, albeit to myself, but I wasn’t ready to cave in yet.
He will always be a mama’s boy won’t he? Calling for her help to get his way.
Weren’t we all, at one stage or another? She smiled.
Yeah but not anymore, this is mothers way of keeping us in check, my tongue was running ahead of my mind now.
And that’s bad because?
Because I’m too old to take directions and instructions anymore! It’s my room I’ll do what I want there, I can’t let mother question me everytime he complains to her! I was losing the argument, I could feel it the balance shifting.
My elder sister stood up, grabbed my younger sisters finger, sighed and said, do what you will but know this, I will not be a part of this, it will define who you are for the rest of your life, you will not have gained anything and your strength will forever be exposed .
With that the two walked off into the sunset of their room.
In the course of time, I learnt to ignore the odd torn book or spilled milk. To say I was happy would be an understatement , I was happy with the status quo prior to the onset of the crawling. But now I realised that change cannot be stopped. You have to roll with the punches and hope to remain standing at the end of it all.
That is strength.
The source of power lies in never having to use it.
I never again had a problem with my brother , who in time has come to be my greatest supporter and defender.

Roadside Buddha

 

060What is the meaning of life?
How is one to attain happiness?
These are the type of introspective questions that are bound to pop up in one’s head from time.
I am no exception. Both in terms of thinking about life as well as in coming up empty handed.
Travelling by bus during the afternoon as the sun is a sullen red ball about to dip over the horizon, is perhaps the best time to indulge in actions lazy cousin; introspection.
And you just have to get a window seat or else all is lost.
As the bus meanders through the city and makes its way to the countryside the sea of humanity starts petering out until you catch a weathered old man reclining on a rickety charpoy puffing on a hookah, surrounded by his meager wheat field. A toddler crawls at his feet, probably grandson. There’s a look in the kids eyes that sparkles in anticipation of the stories that he will listen over a crackling fire under a starry sky.
In the background smoke rises from a mud house. A muscular and younger version of the old man carries a pail of milk to the open kitchen.
As the bus passes this scene I lock eyes with the old man. He nods.
I nod.
Is his life easier, more comfortable than mine? Not likely.
Is he happier than me? Perhaps, yes.
Would I trade places with him? Absolutely not.
What did I just see in those few seconds? Happiness? Maybe, sure why not.
Contentment? Absolutely.
And there it is. The meaning of life is what one chooses to make it. Happiness is not a path that one stumbles upon or finds through the sayings of a sage. In all probability these sages lived lives which were harder and troubled than we can imagine. But they learned to savor the few fleeting moments of happiness in between the troubled seas of life.
And so it is my friend. Happiness is cherishing those fifteen early morning minutes spent with your child before heading off for work. The meaning of life is fleeting. It changes as you change. Don’t beat yourself too much about it. Just find your source of happiness and hold on to it. Life will find its meaning accordingly.

Blink before you peak

where did the years go

Where did the years go?
One day you wake up and realize you are closer to 40 than to 30 and the sinking feeling in the pit of your love-handled-surrounded stomach lets you know that the net balance of those years is showing a deficit. You have nothing of significance to show for the decade since you stepped out of college, full of promise, hopes and dreams.
Now what?
Is it too late?
Should one give up? Reconcile with fate and trudge on towards that ‘elixir’ we have been spoon fed on; pension?
Don’t kid yourself, you know the answer. You always did. You were aware from the first day of the creeping vine of complacency as it twinned itself around your ankles and immobilized you one muscle at a time.
You are being fed, just enough to ensure that you can still nod when spoken to and sign your approval if and when required.
And that’s about it..
As the years go by, your body and mind develops a taste for this feed. Those organs that do not adapt to this sort of nourishment are atrophied and fall away by the wayside. Foremost among these is creativity and independence of thought. Once you find yourself starting every sentence with a ‘Sir if I may’ and ending with a ‘you are absolutely right Sir’, it is time to burn all your childhood photographs, for that person is gone, lost.
So, is there hope? Animals raised in captivity are not always able to survive once they are released in the wild. It all boils down to who you are and who you were before putting on the collar. You already know the answer to that, it is not important. What matters is what you are willing to live with. Freedom with the chances of being your own boss and enduring bleak days of famine and rejection, or servitude with a steady feed of bare essentials and an assurance of being put down humanely once your use is over. So which one is it?
You already know the answer.

A path with a heart

 

Anything is one of a million paths.

Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path.

If you feel you should not follow it you must not stay with it under any conditions.

To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life.

Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront to oneself or to others in dropping it,if that is what your heart tells you to do.

But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.

I warn you.

Look at every path closely and deliberately.Try it as many times as you think necessary.

This question is one that only a very old man asks.

Does this path have a heart?All paths are the same,they lead nowhere.They are paths going through the bush or into the bush.

In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths but I am not anywhere.Ask yourself,does this path have a heart?If it does the path is good,if it doesn’t it is of no use.

Both paths lead nowhere but one has a heart and the other doesn’t.

One makes for a joyful journey and as long as you follow it you are one with it.The other will make you curse your life.One makes you strong,the other weakens you.

Before you embark on any path ask the question,does this path have a heart?

If the answer is no,you will know it and then you must choose another path.

The trouble is that nobody asks the question.And when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart the path is ready to kill him.

At that point very few men can stop to deliberate and leave the path.A path without a heart is never enjoyable.You have to work hard even to take it.On the other hand,a path with heart is easy.It does not make you work at liking it.

I have told you that to choose a path you must be free from fear and ambition.

The desire to learn is not ambition.It is our lot as men to want to know.

The path without a heart will turn against men and destroy them.

It does not take much to die and to seek death is to seek nothing.

For me there is only traveling on the paths that have a heart.On any path that may have a heart.There I travel,and the only worthwhile challenge for me is to traverse its full length.

And there I travel looking,looking, breathlessly!

~ Carlos Castaneda ~

 

Subah ho gayee maamoo..

That would’ve been so cool if I had been woken up by that text would’nt it?

But your mom, sadly lacks a bit in the sense of humor department, as you will, I am sure soon find out when you pee all over the carpet or her clothes and she does’nt find it as funny as you did. Ok on second though the humor might even be lost on you, but trust me, it WOULD”VE been cool, cuz you see there was this famous bollywood movie, Munna Bhai..and..hmmm siiighhhh…never mind yaar, just trust me on this one.

But anyway, back to the story, so yeah, that was’t what the text read that woke me up at 9 in the morning-late, I know yaar, but as you grow up you will realize that all your hatred for early morning rising and going for work was justified, it DOES suck- but the message was pretty much the same, malik saab, a.k.a the latest addition, thats you by the way, was on the way!!

So while the rest of the womenfolk, that is meme, saadia,your hira aapi and your dadi hovered around mano and did the things that women do-whatever it is maan, i still don’t know- I spent a restless day at the office, just waiting for some news, and your parents will tell you i HATE office, so yesterday was even more awful.

I felt like the minutes literally dragged by on this hot, sweltering day, by the way, great choice of month maan,i mean cmoon!! If you HAD to choose the summers you could’ve picked late July or August, then you and I would’ve been Leo buddies…and meme…and Baati..and Hajira….and Ayesha…ok fiiiiine!!! so there are a LOTTA Leo’s already in the family??? So? you can’t ever have too much of a good thing can you?

But anyway, you could’ve done much worse, atleast you’re a Gemini, thats a pretty neat thing. Abba is also a gemini, I know, technically he is your nana, and you don’t quite get how everyone calls him abba, even meme..yeah our family is wierd that way, welcome to the gang!

But yeaah, so when i realised you were going to be a Gemini and all, i read up on your horoscope just to get a few tips on how to bond better with you (oh yeah, heads up, I’m going to be your FAV mamoo, no second options there). So, here’s what we’re looking at:

Your birthstone is pearl-Thank God you’re not a girl, cuz im NOT getting you any pearl necklaces man! And you’re flower is rose…hmmm odd choice but i guess they do smell nice, and thats all im sayin..hmm what else…ok here:

“If You Were Born Today, June 20:

As gentle and likeable as you are, there is a resolute part of you that is unmistakable. This combination of heart and courage almost guarantees success. You are also have a strong belief in yourself. Love and relationships are very important to you, and you will go to great lengths for a person you love. Famous people born today: Nicole Kidman, Lionel Richie, Chet Atkins, John Goodman, Errol Flynn.”

Hmmm not bad maan, Nicole ? You should get some of those old classics-im figuring DVD‘s will still be around by the time you’re old enough to appreciate Nicole Kidman- hmm sounds all good, I think we’re going to hit it off pretty nice.

Hehe ok this one cracked me up, listen to what this says about your year..

“2012 is a Number Four year for you. Ruled by Uranus. This is a year of work and development. It’s “nose to the grindstone” time. It’s a time to deal with practical matters, and it’s not a time to be lazy or especially gregarious. Sometimes, it can be a year that feels hard, monotonous and routine, and/or lonely. Advice – get yourself organized, work to build your resources, keep busy.”

Hahahha…this year is going to be ruled by Uranus…(get it?) *siiiighhhhh* never mind..but that much was pretty straight forward, obviously its going to be ruled by uranus since you’ll be pooping most of the time, besides sleeping that is…That also takes care of monotony and routine…poop,sleep,feed,repeat..on endless loop..and thats not such a bad lifetstyle too if you ask me.

So, lets bring you up to date, with whatever else has been happening around on the day when you finally decided to grace us with your presence.

The PM FINALLY decided to leave the office after months and months of crap talk that i seriously don’t pay much attention to, but just for posterity this guy, the ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gillani was once held in jail and your nana ji, my father and the universal abba actually handled his case, a fact that the former even mentions in his memoir.

So abba was pretty much hooked on the whole escapade..and so was meme…so thats that.

Hmmm and what else? The Euro’s are going on, didnt get much time to watch most of the matches but the smart money is on Spain winning their third consecutive major trophy. And Wimbledon starts from Monday..(just making sure you get a headstart on having the same interest in sports as I do).

On a sad note, you missed meeting your Sherry mamoo by a couple of months, you would’ve liked him…

Anyyway, i got held up by babys sitting duties, looking after your cousins fateh sher and hajira-asfand and baati were back at the farmhouse playing Xbox ALL day…i really hope you are more outdoorsy like me- which is why i was’nt there when you finally arrived.

sorry bro, it was fifa 2012, couldnt miss that, hope you had an awesome homecoming

And then there was all this confusion about when to go where to go, you know how it is with women and giving directions and making up their minds? Well, you’ll find out soon enough. By the time i got to the hospital, you were already fast asleep and i could only sneak a couple of peeks before Hira bossed me away from her ‘new buddy’.

You looked happy and content and a LOT like your father. And from what I heard about the ‘ghutti’ incident where you seemed to LOVE the honey, I have a feeling that you have inherited his love for all things culinary and gastronomical, which is great, cuz i LOVE food too.

did somebody just meniton chicken karahi????

But we’ve gotta burn that off too, I’m going to teach you tennis and football, don’t get fooled by what your dad tells you and believe that cricket is the only sport in the world. I mean ok its fun to watch and all, but wait till you get the ‘polo bug’…

Thats something else maan…( I know i keep calling you maan, its a guy thing, you’ll get it later, plus mano and fawad are waiting for your dada ji to come back from Brazil to finalize your name, although i hear the frontrunner right now is Rafay, although Hira seems to like Ibrahim..so for now, we’ll stick to maan or dude-even that went out with the teenage mutant ninja turtles- or something or the other)

Anyyway, I see that I have started to ramble, thats another thing you’ll have to excuse us grown ups for, we have sooo much to tell you that we don’t know when to stop. But inshallah , we have time to make so many more amazing memories..

So…here’s looking at you kid..