Who’s your City?

 

Quite a few people have asked me this question in the last year, ‘what is your home town?’ or `which city do you come from?’. An innocent enough question, very simple and obvious when you meet a new person, but not for me, I could find no easy answer to this seemingly straightforward query. Should I say Abu Dhabi, the beautiful island city where I grew up and lived in the longest, who’s geography is still etched clearly in my mind but whom I left a long time ago. Or should I say Multan, which is my city by paternal rights, the city which I can never get tired of, the city I got married in and remains my husband’s home city, but I have never lived in it for too long. Should it be Sargodha, a city I have never really liked but still holds a year’s worth of precious memories for me one of which is it being the birth place of my firstborn. Should it be Lahore, the city in which I was born and in which I gave birth to my daughter and in which my parents currently reside, a city worth its name but unbelievably crowded, a city which is mine and who’s alleys I have walked and walked until my shoes became worn and yet once again I have never really resided in it for long. Or should I say Kamra. Kamra is not even a city, just a collection of ugly commercial plazas on the either side of the incredibly long Grand Trunk road almost half way between Rawalpindi and Peshawar, with a strange Dove shaped gate somewhere between the noise and the bazaar, from which one can take a road towards the city of Attock, formerly known as Cambellpur, and along this road now closed off from the general public are a collection of gates. Each of these gates leads into either a small town like colony of its own or an aircraft factory, several of which along with an Air Base make up an aeronautical complex. This was my home for thirteen or so years, from when I was no longer a carefree innocent girl and yet had still not been really exposed to the world at large, because Kamra was not really a city it was a world of its own. In between there is Sahiwal which was formerly known as Montgomery, my maternal grandparents lived here and it remains my most favorite city ever, home to one of the most beautiful houses ever, a house that still holds my best childhood memories and quite a few after I had grown up, it was a place for refuge for a little more than half a year after a sudden move from the UAE to Pakistan. Or should I say Ahmedabad, not strictly a city but the home of my grandfather and many generations of Majoka’s before him, the place where blood takes us every time, the once tiny village on the banks of the River Jehlum, it has kept changing its locations over the years with the flow and ebb of the river and whatever the weather brings with it. Situated  some twenty miles west of Khushab, in this village is our farmhouse and has been our home for quite a few odd months and a holiday home for the last eighteen years,  as well as my father’s retreat from where he runs his farms.  Or Toronto, where I have lived sporadically in bits and pieces and where I find myself once again, a city that holds my own youthful memories and is slowly becoming memorable for my own children.

So where does a body belong to? What actually is a hometown anyway? Is it a town, a city, a collection of houses and roads or just a place in which your heart or body resided for a while so when you move away it is carried in that heart and body forever? Do I have a single hometown or am I destined to find a new one in every phase of my life, but which one should I really refer to as my hometown, my city, the one I have lived in the longest or the one that lives in my heart the most; or all of them. So I just say the name of the city which comes up the quickest on my tongue, people around me still don’t know for sure where exactly I come from but then I myself am not sure which is my city, or rather which is not my city.

 

 

 

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5 Reasons To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

The hardest lesson in your life is to learn that ONLY you can change yourself. There exist no magic to change other people’s behavior but the key lies in focusing on yourself! Once you start focusing on your faults, you may find yourself living a happier life. But how it is possible?

The Rule is simple- Step out of your comfort zone & feel the difference!

Here are the 5 reasons that will help you in saying ‘NO’ to your comfort zone:

  1. Increases Your Stamina:

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If you analyze the lives of all the successful people, you will get to know that they did the things that scared them, they chose the path that nobody ever did. They compromised their nights of sleep to achieve something bigger. As a result, a body’s stamina gradually increases & you are there to do something extraordinary.

     2. It Will Boost Your Self-confidence:

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Nobody is born with a perfect personality neither they are born with incredible self-confidence. It takes years to boost one’s confidence.  For this, one needs to open themselves for new environment by stepping out of their idle lifestyles. Once you equip yourself with knowledge, you will see a sudden rise in your confidence.

     3. Builds Your Self-Esteem:

No one  can make you feel inferior without your consent”

Self-esteem is a way to analyze that how much you appreciate and like yourself.  You may meet certain people in your life who are fullest with their positive energies.  You may admire their stamina, their emotional & physical well-being. You may wonder, what makes such people untiring, motivated & dedicated to achieving what they desire. It’s their high self-esteem that makes them unstoppable.

     4. Helps In Overcoming Your Fears:

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At times you start wondering that you are not capable enough to successfully perform your task. This condition can psychologically affect your mental & physical abilities. Do something every day that makes you happier & satisfied. This strategy will gradually overcome all fears of your life.

    5. You Achieve Your Targets:

The most amazing part that comes out by stepping out your comfort zone is that you become even more productive with little efforts. This paves way for you to achieve targets in your life.

Lastly, remember to learn from your experiences & nothing will work for you if you don’t believe in yourself!

 

 

 

How To Recognise & Deal With Toxic Friends

The word toxic means “poisonous”, a condition that is particularly used to describe anything that causes a lot of harm & unhappiness over a longer period of time. Similarly, the term toxic friends are used to describe such friends who are not your well-wishers & at points they cripple you from inside hence putting your life on the verge of troubles.

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Here I am going to share some signs that will help you to identify your toxic friends.

How to recognize Toxic Friends?

Have you ever wondered what might be the immediate cause of your failure or a decrease in your self-confidence? Are your friends repeatedly taunting you or making fun of your abilities in front of others?

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If yes, then this is the best time to recognize your toxic friends & deal with them smartly.

  • Think about a situation in your life where your friends have conveyed such criticism to you that made you feel smaller & even embarrassed in front of others. This is the biggest sign of a toxic friend who leaves no room for your praise in crowds.
  • They play with your weak points & disclose your secrets for gaining other people’s sympathies.
  • They are self-centered and bully you repeatedly. This condition can psychologically affect your mental & physical abilities.

How to deal with Toxic friends?

Dealing with toxic friends is not as easy as you might have thought. The key rule here is to never let the negativity of your friend to enter your mind. Take their gossips and criticism lightly as their ruthless nature will never go away. Always try to keep your good news with yourself.

The next step is to find humor in smaller things when you are with your toxic friends. Although it might not be an easy task but you can still laugh at your silly mistakes & crack a joke about it with your friends. This small effort will change your attitude & you will develop the capability of facing the challenges with a good behavior.

“If they do it often, it isn’t a mistake; it’s just their behavior” By Dr.Steve

 

 

 

 

On Writing, and Writers Block

Sometimes it comes to me as flowing wind, not too fast, gentle but forceful, naturally, fluently pouring out of my fingers on to the keypad or into a paper. And sometimes it just stalls, behind a frosted glass window; I can glimpse it but not actually see it, it leaves me entranced and at the same time frustrated. Just like the frosted glass door in my high school. My class was upstairs and one day a few months after joining I exited the principal’s office (some mischievous errand I am sure) and about to climb the stairs when suddenly my eyes beheld a strange thing in the otherwise squalid and ugly building, a thing of absolute perfect beauty enhanced by the drab surroundings. It was a silver framed door of frosted glass, and since the sun shone extremely bright in the desert island city I lived in, it was lit up bright, a glimmering silver light filtered through giving the dusty innards of the building a cool luminosity. Outlined in the bright frame was a single branch of bougainvillea, dark green and bright red, at once visible and not clear. I stood transfixed staring at this improbable beauty, it was like a beautiful dream which overshadows your mind even after awakening, but you can never quite completely figure out what it exactly was and wonder about it for days. Its sweet aftertaste lingers on but clarity is forever eluded. I stood transfixed unable to digest what this was, was it a sign from up above that there is escape yet from this dreary world or was it just a distraction, was it a door into the occult; there I stood until the jarring sound of a banging door in the corridor brought me back to the drudgery of the world coming back to life around me. But a nagging doubt often came to me sitting in class, walking to the library, back home in bed what was that, why didn’t I touch the door or try and open it, was there even a real plant there outside, why couldn’t I see what was it exactly on the other side. That is often my situation, the frosted glass intrigues me but at the same time haunts me, I cannot manage to open the door. The worst times however are when a dark shadow falls across the door, no light shines through and I feel claustrophobic, walled into grey corridors lit up by lurid white tube lights, no fresh air comes through. So it is that I pray for all my friends who write, my the door always be there, may you be able to open it at the right time and may the light always shine through.

So I have finally decided to start Using Reusable Bottles

If you are anything like me, I need caffeine to go through the day. And if you are as lazy as me, you would depend a lot on getting take away tea and coffee. However I have recently realised that this habit of mine is a huge burden on the environment. Apparently it takes hundreds of years for each plastic bottle to decompose, loading up landfills for years and years. Also each plastic bottle and disposable cup need a lot of energy  to produce. The production of these disposable bottles, cups and other cutlery also emits a lot of toxins in the environment.

I have recently bought a reusable cup for myself that I carry everyday while I get everything done. I get my coffee and tea on the go filled in that cup now. And trust me, most of the people at the coffee shops are happy to fill up my reusable cup. This is actually the easiest thing to change in our daily lives.

If you are looking for something similar too, do have a look at these options. These images will take you to Amazon where you can purchase these too. Happy shopping 🙂

Togather we might be able to help reduce our carbon footprint and save the environment for our future generations.

My Heart My Fellow Traveler

It has been so that life is a travel series, many times I found myself unsettling and settling again. Whether I was ever prepared for this or not, whether I was ever asked or given a choice in this matter; it is not relevant. Hence I once told my mother that since it has always been so and will probably be this way then we should consider this our fate. That suddenly one day, on some whim we will simply pull out our roots and move to new place and be expected to or will automatically re-root. But try as I might I forget that every time one pulls up ones roots a part of them remains in the soil.
If I count the places where parts of my soul remain, even I do not remember fully. A spring breeze, the whiff of night blooming jasmine, an azure blue sky, the shape of a certain building and sometimes even a grain of sand suddenly brings back a strong lucid memory pregnant with nostalgia and brimming with a connection yet unsevered. Arabian nights, Gothic towers, grand green hills, flat dusty plains, desert evenings, lakeshore walks, seaside barbecues; how much of it can I forget and how much of it will I carry inside me forever. Sometimes it overwhelms me and at others it soothes me, if I can carry a whole mountain range in my heart along with the Caspian sea, a crusaders castle, the Bosphorus bridge, the citadel of Allepo and the entire city of Karachi then surely I can make room for a little more.
‘We are leaving the life we know’, my husband found this silly,’ there are entire lives we don’t know about, doesn’t make them unlivable?’ I agree but the more times you put in your roots, the longer you allow them to grow, the harder it is to un-root, move away while the broken and buried limbs lay severed, in utmost pain. Slowly they fossilize and like a missing arm or leg one does learn to live without them. Then one day you remember having that very limb and the fossils awaken for a while, feel stifled and then readjust and fall into slumber. So for now I know that a clean cut is the best but it will take time for the cut to scar over and the skin to re-grow and the memories to fade.

My heart, my fellow traveler
It has been decreed once again
That you and I go into exile,
call out in streets
Roam from dwelling to dwelling
In the hope to find some clue
Leading us to a harbinger
Asking complete strangers
The way to our own home
In this land of strangers
For us to live from day to night
Trying to be understood
To this person then that
What that I should complain to you
The night of separation is best not talked about
It would have been of some comfort
Had the days been numbered
It would have been a comfort to die
Were we allowed to die only once
My heart, my fellow traveler
It has been decreed once again
Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Feebly translated by yours truly)

What Women Want

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Yes that is the name of the popular Hollywood romantic comedy starring Mel Gibson, but it is also the eternal question that men, women, society as a whole needs an answer to. Each individual has a different answer (if they have one at all), as Gibson finds out by the end of the movie, there is no one thing that women want but most of all they want love and respect. Not to be treated as objects or rungs on the ladder to success. Although women are the focus of the movie it is true for everyone, even plants and animals.
Respect is a very simple yet very large word, it stands for a basic human right, it encompasses dignity and attitude and it simply means giving each living thing its due. It’s as basic as the right to live. An animal in the wild respects this balance in the world, examples of this can be found in the fact that wild animals rarely kill for fun or sport, only when the need for survival kicks in. When you respect life itself then you respect the fact that everyone has a place in this world, is connected to the world around them, and that the very niche they occupy is important and affects everyone and everything around them. If taught to respect we understand the true equality of mankind.
When we do not teach our children basic respect we are depriving them of following a law of nature, we are bringing up the creepy boys who prey on vulnerable women but feel their ‘honour’ is in line if their mothers/daughters/sisters/wives are being preyed upon. We are bringing up girls who think they can only climb the ladder of success if they use other people to stand up upon; we are bringing up individuals who do not spare a thought for those who are working for them, for animals and nature who are at their mercy.
It is true that most of us are taught to respect men only, especially those who have some power over us and then men also get the larger portion of respect when it comes to women’s rights as individuals. So let’s promise on this women’s day to respect one another, to respect humanity, to respect dignity, to respect nature, to respect life and most of all to respect those who give so much and demand so little. Let’s learn and then teach the next generation to respect women and respect life.