Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spinning Crap: Pieces of a Jigsaw Puzzle

Spinning Crap: Pieces of a Jigsaw Puzzle

We The Living

We The Living

Spinning Crap: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Spinning Crap: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Pieces of a Jigsaw Puzzle

Star spangled glory. And mist. Looking out through fogged up glasses, two different worlds. Or the same.

Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we fit into where we belong. Eventually.

Is it a good thing, or is it bad?

Or is it one of those things which is neither good nor bad, which just happens, which just Is.

It’s like floating. Then beating hard to keep alive, the thrust of the storm, the violent, fierce force compelling you to push against it to beat it, till either one of you, dies. Because in games there are either winners or losers. Depends on what your definition of losing is. It is that which keeps you going. Or which eventually makes you so dead you surrender.

Is this a story, made up, a bag of lies.

Or is it truth, the story of life.

Helpless, tired souls cry about how the world has been taken over by steel and concrete. We celebrate all that. Because this steel, this concrete is a standing, solid example of human ingenuity and the greatness of his mind. He’s risen over preconceived notions. He has defied gravity.

Running businesses from dreary little rat holes. Never succumbing to pressure.

Books by Ayn Rand- the Fountainhead,Atlas Shrugged, We the living. They’ve been more than inspirational. They've been eye-openers and important lessons in life, and how to live it. They've been life changing.

Young and Ruthless

Gathering from garbage, treasures, little artefacts, collecting tiny morsels of survival, dredges of life.

Offices overflowing with ruthless ambition. It’s a tough world out there.

The youth of Pakistan are brave, vibrant , hopeful.

After all we’ve been through, the constant bad press, the depressing media coverages, we’ve taken all in our stride and moved on. But when everyday becomes a struggle for survival, what then, is ambition, how then do u describe living to the fullest? What meaning does life hold then?

What drives us is our will. There really is enough discouragement around: long spells of all encompassing darkness, unbearable heat, sinister politics. Yet for us, there’s opportunity all around. We’ve grown up hearing that no one respects talent, that Pakistan is a failed nation. But we believe in ourselves. We create opportunities.

But through the dark alleys where murderers and robbers roam at large, through the dark corners where suicide bombers breed and flourish, through the unending bleakness, we shall rise. We’re dreamers, we don’t lose.

If you would only just believe in us enough.

The Last Faint Clue

‘So small a thing,
This mummy lies,
Closed in death
Red-lidded eyes,
While, underneath
The swaddled clothes,
Brown arms, brown legs
Lie tight enclosed.
What miracle
If he could tell
Of other years
He knew so well;
What wonderment
To speak to me
The riddle of
His history’

From mysterious wrecked statues to ancient mummies, from the mighty pyramids, to the Rosette Stone, accounts of history appeal to our immense fascination with antiquity. They are whispers from the past which bring alive the dead and take us through an interesting and informative journey-one that is set in another era. Reading about what people were like before, helps us understand the present world and, indeed, ourselves, better. However, the credibility of history books becomes questionable when they, instead of providing objective accounts of the past, contain information that has been corrupted and changed over the years.

I have special interest in reading about the past. In exploring lost world. I like traveling to places and reading about the various civilizations of the past. The Indus, Greek, Egyptian and Mayan civilization are all enchanting fragments of a time long gone and are brought to us in the shape of history books- our first encounter with the remote past. The articles and pictures in these books depict the lifestyles, beliefs and means of communication of these ancient people. They contain pictures of archaeological findings such as the paintings and hieroglyphics which the Egyptians used to represent their ideas of life and death; as well as photographs of statues and other artifacts recovered from sites like Moen-jo-Daro. These books are thus gateways to lost worlds. They educate young people about the lifestyle of the ancients. These accounts are mostly reliable as they are based on archaeological findings.

In today’s world, technology plays a major role in determining the reliability of a historical account. Archaeological methods have become more sophisticated over the years and through various findings, for example the Rosetta Stone, we have even succeeded in deciphering the hieroglyphics. Technological advances such as carbon dating and genetics have helped in clarifying many doubts about the past. For example, through advances in science ad technology we know now that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was not just a mere farce. Findings like these lend credibility to the historical accounts in text books.

But that is probably the extent to which history books are wholly reliable – ancient history. When it comes to history of the modern world, the material in these books often becomes warped and twisted. It is ironic, that when there are better methods of recording data, fewer and fewer of these records are reliable. Many of them have passed through government censorship which leads to the government’s own version of events. George Orwell’s 1984 contains a fictional yet believable depiction of how the fascist government would delete passages from history and actually create new ones. This happens when history is used for propaganda and manipulation. With such unreliable sources of history, reliable evidence can hardly be obtained and history books actually become versions of what the State wants its people to know.

It is said that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. When history is written by an Indian, Japanese, or an American we see things form his particular point of view. The author’s social, cultural and religious prejudices come through when he writes a history book. The way in which history is interpreted by different people leads to questions over the reliability of history books. More often, we are left with biased, single-sided viewpoints on events that occurred in the past. For example, The Holocaust holds immense significance for the Jews as a reminder of the cruelty and injustice they had to suffer. On the other hand, Ahmedinejad of Iran dismissed it as a fabrication and a myth!

Although history books provide information about the past, they may not be wholly reliable. However, if we look in the right direction and trace the evidence back to the sources ‘till the last faint clue dies out’ we may be able to find out the truth for ourselves. Perhaps ‘nothing is so lost that it can never be found’.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Kraft of Living

Brisk, alive, energetic. This is Karachi.
We thrive on our ambitions and our drive to excel and achieve. We study, work hard, pave our own paths. Rely on nothing but sheer power of will. We’ve built it with our hands. And we destroy it every day, bit by bit, just as we add another brick, as we build it a little more.
We’ve lived through a lot. Entire days when the city has been under fire from elements it has nurtured and taken care of itself. Entire nights of mind shattering bomb blasts, explosions, worries, torturous memories. We’re a city of contrasts where individuals in shiny new BMWs zoom past stuttering rickshaws, minibuses bent on a spree to kill, and families of six riding on a single motor bike. This is how we have mastered the art of balancing. This is how we sway on our unsturdy foundations from being a city of lights to an abysmal state of utter darkness. This is how we live, each day, picking through the trash on roadsides, knocking on car windows for a rupee, satisfying our never ending appetites with juicy bun kababs, studying at top universities and colleges, reading, making headlines, building garage schools for the less privileged.

This is who we are. And this is how we live.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Confusion, misconceptions, identity crises.
Liberal minded individuals giving in to ferocious fundamentalism.
Harrowing tales of torture.
Nostalgia drawing you back, swallowing you into a deep, dark abyss.
Events so beyond your control, so out of your reach, absolutely distant. Events which touch you so deeply, carve out wounds so bad, they change your life.
Lessons in forgetting.
Divisions within, which wrench you apart, tug at you in opposite directions until you lose your way so badly, you can never come get back to being the same person, living the same life.
Entire lives lost. Forever.

Life unfolds around us in unforeseen ways. When 9/11 happened no one could have predicted it except maybe the ever suspicious intelligence agencies brewing up nefarious plans to take over the world. What no one could also have predicted was the immense impact it had on individual lives all over the world. The entire globe was transformed from its complacent state of delinquency into a mass of action, combat, terror. Stories of horror began circulating soon after. Stories of horror and merciless torture.
What transforms peoples and lives so completely they become insidiously hateful, corrupt, malicious, and rotten? What happens that makes idyllic lives lived in perfect ‘mehals’ with picturesque sprawling lawns so impoverished and lack lustre? Where goes the serenity, the surety of knowing what you are and where you belong? What brings you at odds with everything around so that you lose yourself so completely it’s just you and that moment and eternity in each brief, fickle speck of time.


Round my neck,
from time to time, there was the hallucination
of a noose, and now and then, the weight
of chains binding my feet.

There’s a certain charm in randomly running across things, events uncalled for, in stumbling upon ideas and figments of real life you never knew existed, in realizing how much you want things you never thought you needed.

The excesses in our lives, when we don’t know when and where to stop, or when we just let go because holding back becomes a huge and heavy burden, an inconceivable liability, destructive, painful, inhibitive.

To some extent it all comes down to personal space and how much you can let others in and interfere and inhabit your life- ‘your life when they live you’ the fragile physical frame of existence yours, the solid meaningful bit privy to rules set by others, just a puppet maneuvered by the harsh strings of a world ridden with misery and corruption.

In one country, one city, one place, one culture, there exists an assortment of lives- a wealth of ideas, beliefs, interests, talents and perceptions. For each there exists an individual set of problems. But there’s always an all encompassing set which transcends through the borders of class and status- there’ll always be power outages, unruly corruption, bureaucracy, distasteful proclamations and sermons, violence on the streets, in our homes.

No matter how many walls you build around you, they'll trickle down to you sooner or later.

Friday, March 26, 2010

There's a king on a thrown with his eyes drawn out, there's a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt
There's a rich man sleeping on a golden bed, there's a skeleton choking on a crust of bread

King of Pain by the Police....these lyrics always create very vivid and somewhat gruesomely unnerving images in my mind. But they're powerful words, the contrasts starkingly brutal.