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.

 

 

 

Advertisements

DIY Mid Autumn Moon Festival Lantern

Schools these days expect kids to complete projects that are extremely difficult for their age. So, a lot of times, parents end.up.doing those or they hire someone to do it for them.

Last week, my 5 year old.daughter was asked to make a lantern for the Mid Autumn Moon Festival celebrations at her school. As the lanterns started coming in, I noticed the lanterns to be extremely compliand probably too difficult for my 5 year old tpanage even if I helped. Choosing any of those designs would have meant that in fact I would have to do most of the work. That was not something I was willing to do because I wanted my daughter to contribute in a meaningful way in this project.

A search on the internet led me to am extremely simple design which only required paper of different colors, glue stick and scissors. Thats it.

Steps to follow:

  • Take a colored piece of paper, make some design on which woud be easy to cut.

IMG_20180912_113130.jpg

  • Once done, roll the paper into a cylinder and stick the ends with glue stick.
  • Take another paper, draw parallel lines on it (I drew the lines) leaving a little space on both ends and cut along those lines (my daughter did all.te cutting). We also made holes using a punching machine. My daughter had a lot of fun doing this.

IMG_20180912_113523.jpg

  • Roll up this piece of paper on the cylinder.

IMG_20180912_114322.jpg

IMG_20180912_115025

  • Cut and paste the handle to enable easy holding.

IMG_20180912_120935.jpg

Actually, I was quite happy with how it turned out and it only took us around half an hour to get it done.

I think I will be making more of these lanterns with the kids, especially for Eid celebrations at home.

Do try these at home with kids and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

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.

Girl Crush of the month: Hania Amir

In recent times, new faces have popped up in the Pakistani media industry. Naturally, the millennials are now taking the spotlight. While big names like Mahira Khan, Imaan Ali and Shaan are still relevant and will be for a while, I anticipate a lot of the new comers’ time in the limelight will be short-lived.

_20171209_215759.JPG
Enter Hania Aamir. This young woman of only twenty years of age has quickly rose to fame not only because of her adorable dimples but her incredible debut performance in the blockbuster Pakistani film, Janaan.

Being one of the younger A-list celebrities, Hania also knows her way around social media quite well and has a large fan base on Instagram that constantly keeps her relevant. I, personally, find at least two or three pictures of her on my Explore newsfeed even though I haven’t even followed her!
There’s just something about Hania that makes her special and is my Girl Crush for the month of December. The girl always seems so full of energy and vibrancy. She’s always on her feet and is now in the process of shooting an upcoming film Parwaaz Hay Junoon in which she is set to star besides big names like Hamza Ali Abbas and Kubra Khan.

_20171209_215727.JPG
Fun fact: for those who have been avidly following Hania even before her inception as an actress (even before her small role in the Sunsilk commercial!) know that she was popular on ask.fm and had a large following¬ based entirely on her witty answers – what an all-rounder!

But life goes on…

Written by Kanza Naseem

Death is hard. We have lived to see people in pain, and watched them deteriorate into nothing. In the end all we are left with are memories, like deep cuts in our skin which scar so horribly, every time they are touched they bleed, seems as though the cut becomes deeper, similar to how we fall so far deep, in to water. The fear of it all takes over. Suddenly you can’t seem to breathe, somewhere, somehow we are supposed to learn that its just life, and this is the way it works. We never do, there is no time, ‘bury heads in sand, but our future’s in our hands, it means nothing, if I haven’t got you’.

A persons touch can leave you breathless. Every aching moment when they pass away makes no sense. For a while you just want everything to stop. You want to stop zhurting and feeling pain, just until everything is over, so you don’t have to deal with it. It’s natural. ‘That’s enough for now’

Everybody moves on, it be too soon for some. We like to hold on, clutch onto hope, so tightly, that we forget what people meant to others. We went slowly we took it easy, we stood still. Somehow we forget that others didn’t, they did not stop, and wait for emotion. They persevered, their grief is over, ours has just begun. We mourn what we have lost, on our own, sometimes its better this way, no body understands now. Grief meant their problems have disappeared (not), they let go to soon, we were not ready. Now we are. ‘And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day.’

Time is a healer, we are supposed to understand, not forget. We never do, its easier to forget to get caught up, with other things, to bury ourselves with work, tasks things to accomplish, goals, a light to chase. Its all fear of some sort, how can we understand it? For it takes over everything, its seeps in to every empty crack, there is no balance, no way, or one to stop it. In summer we plant our seeds and hope to watch them prosper in to something beautiful, a sweet pear, and oozing ‘tamato’ 😉 a flower, we are consumed in their beauty. We forget come autumn they will fall, and disappear, in to the winds they blow, where they end up nobody knows, everything is meant to fade. ‘He must have been a gardener that cared a lot. Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop, Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls. We hear, we hear your name’ ♥ We are blinded by lights, which make things look easy. Feelings are not. They take over. They don’t make sense they make things difficult.

This is reality, it’s your grief, and it’s allowed; this is your life. It hurts and sometimes it’s supposed to, it bruises but somehow you have to feel it, you have to deal with it, fear is uncontrollable, but it always will be. Use your pain to come out the other side stronger and always remember someone’s watching over you.

The Relationship between late night Television and Sandwiches

Written by Fatima Majoka

Toast a largish piece of bread with a slice of cheese until it starts melting, lay on a cutting of salami, add a crunchy salad leaf and cover it with a half fried egg sprinkled with a pinch of salt and pepper. Top everything with another piece of bread and press it gently until you hear the satisfying plop of the yolk breaking. Now bite into the contentment. Sip some soda in between the bites as you watch senseless late night television.

This had been my ultimate treat after I had put the kids to sleep, for years their bedtime ranged between ten pm to two am and I led myself on to put up with it by dreaming about this very moment. Of course most days I went to sleep while putting them to sleep or would be too tried to even sit on the sofa and some days there was nothing left in the refrigerator to make a sandwich out of! But the addiction to this, the moment of satisfaction, that bite into a big juicy sandwich was what mostly kept me going through. So much so that it became almost an addiction. I wanted to savor this feeling of elation every single day; it was my drug of choice. Cold chicken sandwiches, garlic mayo and leftover sandwiches, mince beef and cheese sandwiches and when there wasn’t anything else boiled eggs and tomato sandwiches. Needless to say I could whip up a sandwich anytime and from almost anything.

DSC_0101

Then quite dangerously I started buying foodstuff that complemented my sandwich addiction, I started getting DVDs to make my sandwiches worthwhile and drinking more and more soda to make everything last longer. So much was my ‘me’ time taking over my life that I would resent anything or anyone that came between us. I wanted to be home on weekend nights and even wanted my husband to go to sleep early so I could enjoy this time by myself. I dislike guests staying late and hated it if the kids got sick and I was too exhausted to stay up for my addiction.

At one point; around 20 pounds overweight and quite mentally deranged, I realized that this was becoming a very ‘unhealthy’ obsession. Late night high carb food and resenting your own family has its toll on your mind and body. I do enjoy my sandwiches but now I make them for picnics or weekend movie dinners with the kids. And yes I am much healthier, still a little obsessed but with healthier things now.

What it’s like to be a Foodie!

Written by Fatima Fizza

Edited by Pragya Shrivastava

The importance of cooking was made clear to me in that one month which I had spent in a single room of an Army mess. I had never really considered cooking as an important act in my life. My mother cooked and when she was tired or needed help our trusted manservant of long would pitch in and his food, although not exceptionally good was passably bearable. On weekends, holidays and trips abroad we ate out, Mediterranean, seafood from around the world and pizza were the staple favorites of the family (it wasn’t easy to agree on a single restaurant since we were a large family).

Even while travelling we mostly stayed in furnished apartments to allow for the occasional ‘roti and salan’ craving to be easily fulfilled. My mother, may God keep that excellent woman in great health always made it seem so easy. Then I got married and moved in with my in-laws. My mother in law was a keen cook too and despite being a working lady her kitchen ran smoothly and staple homemade food kept my stomach satisfied.

Although there was a difference in taste and variety, my inner cook still lay sleeping and setting foot inside the kitchen was not something I did much often except for the occasional baking. Cakes and Pizza I can bake since I was in grade school and except for a few special dinners and an occasional soup I was not tempted to be in the kitchen.

Then there came that one month when I was stuck in a single room and even though the mess waiters lined up daily to receive orders for any menu on this side of the Kabul River, whatever they presented each evening tasted oddly alike and of nothing I could put my finger on. So, it was this oxygen food (tasteless and odorless) that made me start wishing for a place of my own which must include a kitchen. The moment my husband and I shifted into our first new house, I focused on setting up the kitchen first (which is one place in the house where a woman who cooks spends a good part of her life).

IMG_2369With the expert help of my mother I did go about this task and started this wonderful journey of self-discovery which is cooking. Cooking is the other side of the coin which spells Foodie!


I am the average woman, trying to run a house, bring up well behaved children and balance relationships all the while trying to make something of my life. Unlucky to have been born with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I have been lucky to have life throw me a pretty amazing mix of everything and I have been learning on the job. I am an avid lover of nature, i love to read and write and occasionally paint. I’m blogging to share my personal experiences in case they prove to be of help to other thirty somethings and if not then be a source of amusement and humour. So do forgive me for my excesses in advance and comment to share your own take on my musings.