Ok, I promised myself I will not unload myself on Facebook. But Fahd has gone to Singapore, Hussain & Azer & Saad are in a different time zone, and calling Ahmed is extremely expensive and I need my daily dose of twenty minutes of sharing shock and horror on things with someone who shares my weltanschauung. So I will give a list of twenty things that have irritated me to the hilt,

1 – The declining usage of Khuda Hafiz vis a vis Allah Hafiz showing how the values of the nation have changed and how our cultural depth is not being passed on from one generation to another.

2 – The excessive usage of perception management in our work places showing how little importance is being given to competence, hard work, loyalty and intelligence.

3 – The excessive ubiquity of bribery and corruption which show the complete lack of morals in our society coupled with a general adoration for quick fixes and easy riches.

4 – The nearly complete cultural death of our society where everyone with a cultural bent has to learn culture anew without having the benefit of the depth of millennia of our society.

5 – The general opposition to Science and knowledge in our society either in the garb of it being against Islam or simply as a celebration of our mind numbing lack of education.

6 – The overall high level of intolerance and bigotry in our society signifying the lack our society’s ability to understand that differences without and without us are natural and not threats.

7 – The common practice of contact management and nepotism in our work cultures which precludes anyone with talent from striving towards perfection and or hard work.

8 – The slow and creeping dumbing down of our youth being aggravated by the absolute lack of positive material in the media and the misplaced concepts of coolness.

9 –  The depressed role of women in our society and our propensity to not educate our daughters and then try to squash each and every germ of ability and excellence in them.

10 – The crippling class system which in our society is even more dangerous than the caste system because it condemns the creative genius of millions to the guillotine only to allow the few to propagate their generations.

11 – The in crowd and the in industries and communities who get a disproportionate share of attention and importance and end up being the source of emulation for the rest of the idiots.

12 – Left blank on purpose.

13 – The slow and steady Arabization of our society and the pronunciation of Allah and the emulation of ideals currently in practice in only other states.

14 – The public nature of Xenophobia and the general hatred of the west and India despite millions living in those states and owing all to those states yet still displaying disloyalty to these very states.

15 – Excessive incompetence and mediocrity in our work places which is forgiven due to a multitude of reasons and there is no reason to strive for perfection or betterment.

16 – The completely, absolute and all pervading worship of mammon in our society to the exclusion of all other things that are beautiful in our lives and in our world.

17 – The national obsession with the philosophy of kiss up kick down where we treat everyone below us as animals and idolize beyond sense anyone above us ad nauseum.

18 – The complete permeation of hypocrisy and duplicity in our personal and public lives where we lie to ourselves and to others about who we are and most of us use religion to conceal this hypocrisy.

19 – The media of our country which is as disgustingly dysfunctional as its politicians where journalists knowingly create products of lower quality and good channels like Dawn have to fall from grace to increase viewership.

20 – The absolute lack of people following traffic laws and rules even if they are highly educated and seemingly civilized and the complete absense of traffic police enforcing the same even when it happens in front of their eyes.

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On being 30 and such things.

Time : Midnight (the bitching hour).

Location: Five miles from the Arabian Sea.

Characters: A thirty something man Altamash, his wife Nida, a purple teapot and a rather irritable Kangaroo

It is Altamash’s birthday and a microsecond after midnight, the moon shines in it’s jaundiced glory upon the land of the pure.

Altamash: I think I am thirty.

Nida: Shut up and pour more phosphorus for the teapot.

Altamash: Yes dear, whatever you say, dear.

Teapot: I think I look purpler at midnight.

Kangaroo: I was just thinking about that. I think getting red highlights will bring out your eyes.

Teapot: (gryating like an insane planetary orbit)  That is so nice of you, of course, I was thinking that my friends from Noritake make fun of me because I was made in Sri Lanka.

Altamash: Nida, I feel old and depreciated. What do you think about this thirty years business?

Nida: No, no, you are appreciated.

Altamash: I said depreciated. My brain is hurting.

Nida: Kangaroo, what do you think? Is Altamash depreciated?

Kangaroo: I think he is a hot potato on a burning wooden spear that has emerald green hearts made on the sides in bunches of three.

Teapot: This phosphorus is horrid, it needs more Oomph! And so do you thirtysomething Altamash!

Altamash: No! Don’t call me that! Anything but that!

Nida / Kangaroo / Teapot: Thirty! Thirty! Thirty! Thirtyyyyyyyysomeeeeeethiiiiiiiiing!

Altamash: No! No! No! Out damned spot! A thirtysomething by any name is a thirthsomething!

Teapot: A pox on this phosphorus and it’s illegitimate children!

Altamash: (clapping wildly) Hamm bhee agar bachay hotay, aur khanay ko miltay laddu, aur duniya kehtee happy budday too yoo.

Nida: I was afraid of this, his brain is dying.

Altamash: Is that why Mr Teapot and Mr Kangaroo are hovering on a make belief ivory table having phosphorus and Brook Bonds Tea?

Nida: How dare someone have Brook Bonds tea in my house, even if it is the insane hallucinations of my decrepit husband!

Teapot: Shut up! I like Brook Bonds, it helps me grow fat and sturdy.

Nida: No honey, that is bone!

Teapot: (laughing like a hyena) Oh, yes, rather, quite, perhaps, quite, rather, oh, rather, cheerio, rather, perhaps, rather.

Kangaroo: Am I supposed to have this pouch? I asked the tailor to keep only one in my right trousers pocket and to keep it small. I hate Hamid, he always mixes things up.

Altamash: But, but, but, am I insane? Or old? Or both? Or neither? Tell me! Please!

Nida: Honey, I love you, but this is not helping, you need more glass for clarity! But it has to be Belgian.

Altamash: Yes dear, whatever you say dear.

Teapot: Kangaroo, do you think Altamash is quite insane?

Kangaroo: (with the gravity of a philosopher) I gather it is either the physical insanity of old age, or the mental insanity of young age, or the intellectual insanity of youth, or it is some other form of insanity that does exist but we can neither prove nor disprove its existence.

Teapot: I didn’t know you were Maniagnostic.

Kangaroo: I am, That I am.

Teapot: Remarkable. Quite remarkable. So, tell me your views on the recent book by Mr Dashinga Harvershin.

Kangaroo: Hogwash! Bullcrap! Humbug!

Nida: Shut up both of you! You are his hallucinations, not mine. Out with you; evil specters; out!

The teapot, the kangaroo and ivory table diffuse into the still dark air-conditioned air.

All that remained was: a microsecond after midnight, the moon shining in it’s jaundiced glory, the land of the pure, a life fleeting like time, and insanity.

Age creeps on slow wings, each hour now is equal to one hour, each hour in the future is equal to one year and each hour in the past is equal to one second.

And no, this is not Einstein’s theory of relativity.

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Faiz Sahab

I have always been absolutely in awe of Faiz Sb. So have most Pakistanis interested in poetry or politics or literature or aesthetics. He is the one aesthetic idol which we all worship for the beauty that he creates through words. Some admire the flow of his poetic words, some admire the wisdom of his thoughts, and some end up forgiving Pakistan for all her sins simply because she managed to give birth to Faiz and may also do something as delectably similar in the future.

Pakistanis are generally quite education and knowledge phobic. Anyone able to conduct a proper conversation in full complete and proper language without infusion of multiple languages or slang words is considered effeminate, weak, and sterile and I should not have to say that all these qualities are not seen in a very positive light in Pakistan.  In our offices we prefer street smart and witty people to intelligent and hard working people. In our homes we prefer conformists and conservatives to freethinking and liberalism. In our lives we prefer mediocrity and fate to excellence and effort. Despite all of this one does end up hearing Faiz Sb being recited, sometimes in the oddest of places from the unlikeliest of people.

Faiz Sb has the special ability to calm us when we are excited, to sooth us when we are hurt, or nurture us when we are ripe and to mellow us when we are inert. He will change you as a person the moment you start reading. I wanted to write here that his poetry is understood by all because of my opinion of his vocabulary, but alas I have seen one too many examples to think otherwise. So, we read and quote on a regular basis, in regular times.

It is only in the times of crisis; political, economic or social; when every word and every swirling poetic construct resonates with us. It is then that we are in love with Faiz, as individuals and as a nation.

So, as expected, I have seen an outpouring of Faiz from all people through facebook, emails, conversations, and the media. It means that we are in a state of crisis. And it means that we have found the eternal of medium of Pakistani communication: Faiz Sb.

Lets hope that we have the ability to listen to reason and come out the stronger from this crisis.

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w w w

Not the world wide web and the glories of the Information Age; rather, What women want.

Recent excavations at the city of Pomplaneum in central Italy have unearthed an engraved tablet which contains the first few lines of a groundbreaking treatise by Ovidirgil. The great philospher has posed a question to the reader “What is it indeed that women want?” The remaining text of the inscription has been lost. Oh what luck!

A team of archaeologists led by Dr Johnson Herbert started excavating nearby areas in earnest to get to the bottom of this eternal question and once and for all solve the riddle (and since it is not Russia, it is not wrapped in a Mystery which is inside an enigma, thank God). The team did manage to find such inscriptions as a recipe for dry smoked fish, an ode to sea urchins, a love letter penned by an angry wife, and a mason’s training tablet for engraving the letter “v”. But, the rest of the inscription? The search continued.

Dr Herbert hails from the University of Harbridge. His roommate Dr Bentham Clarke is currently the chair of Psychology as Oxinceton. They were once the best of friends. No buttered toast was consumed whole in that room. Nay. It was always cut into half. But, rumour / legend has it that there was an alcohol induced evening when things were said and comments were not reserved. The true narration of events, we shall never know. Suffice to say, the roommates fell out. There was the usual drama of allegations, barbs, comments, and the expected ownership trial for the twin lava lamps. One each now decorates the two offices across the world.

What started that fateful day in April did not end. The two erstwhile friends have been known to continue their sabre rattling to this day (yes, it is re and not er, thank you very much). Of course everyone remembers the incident when Dr Clarke was presenting a paper in Tokyo and Dr Herbert barged into the hall screaming “Chicandinanda” over and over again at the top of his lungs until Dr Clarke fainted on the stage. The rest of the incident is too gruesome to pen down, it must be left to the memory of the reader to construct the actual procession of affairs. It was a sad day for the world of Academia indeed.

I digress.

The discovery of the inscription caused an overpowering sense of human competition and reverge to rear it’s ugly bottle green head. Dr Clarke declared in the Londaris Tribune Star that “We must not endebt ourselves to the knowledge of the ancients so completely, I will myself lead a research team to ‘discover‘ what women want”. The Tribune Star reports that the comments of Dr Herbert when asked for his opinion to this statement could not be published because of editorial reasons and newspaper policy against the usage of French.

Dr Herbert managed to get a grant from the government to enhance his team of excavators through the good offices of his brother. Dr Clarke received funding from the International Masculinist Union for research to be conducted across five culturally different countries to get to the final answer. Newspapers carried these updates on the development of the projects sparingly. The Pakistani media spend five minutes during each newscast to cover the subject along with songs, polemics and newscaster dance sequences to sensationalize the competition between the two eminent doctors. One channel was banned after a semi nude dance by the newscasters; after parents complained to the local feudal lord on the long term repurcussions on children.

Dr Herbert’s team kept finding liquor bottles, steles, inscriptions, and the odd statue. Dr Clarke’s team kept interviewing, testing, and analysing woman after woman. The race was heating up. Both teams would declare regularly that the end of their search is nigh and victory will be theirs. No one paid attention to Rev Adams comment that it should have been about the truth and not personal egos. Naqqar khanay main tooti ki awaaz. As the days dragged on Pakistani talk show hosts found themselves utterly unable to disentangle rabid guests during virulent debates on the competition.

Then, on the ides of March, the Editor in Chief of the Tribune Star got a phonecall during this well deserved vacation in the Lepontine Alps. “Eddie, I have the result of my quest. Eureka! I have finally found the answers, I will give you the exclusive story if you print it tomorrow”. Eddie (sic) could hardly disagree with such a proposal.

The next day’s front page of the Tribune Star (both print and website versions) carried the following news item “Answer found (no, it is not 42)”. Below it the subtitle ran, “Both teams discover the answer on the same day, and guess what, it is the same answer”. What women really want is just two things. Firstly, to be the most important entity in the eyes of the beholder, and Secondly, to always be the victorious one in an argument. Over a cup of morning tea the Turkish President’s wife turned to her husband and declared “I told you so”, to which Mr Pasha replied “Yes dear”. He had been the wiser.

The President of the French Academy of Sciences had called a meeting with both the Doctors the next day. The solemnity of the occasion precluded any misbehaviour on part of the two men. During the meeting, to the horror of all present, Dr Herbert suddenly turned to Dr Clark. Kaato to khoon naheen. And he said, “I am sorry I called you a vapid narcissistic windbag”. The sighs of relief were heard all the way to Fontainbleu. Dr Clark looked at Dr Herbert, all eyes intently fixated upon him, and said, “I am sorry I called you a fat idiot”. Tears came to the eyes of Monsieur le President. Kiss and make up is too small an explanation for what ensued.

One week hence the Doctors were standing in front of an oven, trying to bake a cake. Their wives were sitting by the pool sipping Lemonades. Mrs Clarke remarked to no one in particular “Men are so stupid”. Mrs Herbert sighed and said “I agree”.

::Dedicated to my wife who had neither of these two shortcomings and is ready to prove this in the coming years::

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Daagh Daagh Ujala

So, there was another 14th August today. 63 years after Pakistan came into existence. East Pakistan was lost in 1971 because an excessively colonial attitude, bigotry, militarism and apathy towards the plight of compatriots. Kashmir was partially lost in 1948 when due to our insistence on using force and violence led to the state acceding to India under duress. There is currently a seperatist movement going on in Balochistan and half of the province is outside the control of the government.  There is currently a terrorist insurgency going on in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and half of the province is outside the control of the government. There is a severe flood tearing through the length and breadth of Pakistan effecting all four provinces, uprooting families, destroying farms, killing livestock and damaging infrastructure and will end up being a disaster that will send Pakistan slipping down years on the ladder of development; hundreds are benefitting illegally from the donations for these floods; no one is funding the government because of its corrupt nature.

What is right with Pakistan now? Why would anyone have any hope for this country? Why? There is no logical reason whatsoever.

But I have hope. And I have a good reason too. Quite a few actually, and I will list them below in no particular order,

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Saleemuzzaman Siddiqui, Agha Hasan Abidi, Sadeqain, Jahangir Khan, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Ishrat Hussain, Habib Fida Ali, Prince Karim Khan, Adibul Hasan Rizvi, Sharifuddin Pirzada, Saadat Hasan Manto, Javed Miandad, Qurratulain Hyder, Habib Jalib, Ali Moeen Nawazish, Qureshpur, Bundu Khan, Iqbal Bano, Sohail Rana, Bholu Pehelwan, Shoaib Sultan Khan, Jagan Nath Azad, Akhter Hameed Khan, Ardeshir Cowasjee, Jansher Khan, Bapsi Sidhwa, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, Mehdi Hassan, Raees Amrohvi, Parveen Shakir, Naseem Hamid, Ahmad Hussain, Muhammad Bashir,  Abdus Salam, Nayyara Noor, Ustad Nazir Jan, Zia Mohyiuddin, Asma Jahangir, M M Alam, Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, Noor Jahan, Ahmed Ghulamali Chagla,  Ibn e Insha, Atta ur Rehman, Ahmed Hasan Dani, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ansar Burney, Imran Khan, Alam Channa, Hanif Muhammad, Hafeez Jullundhri, Ahmed Faraz, Nayyar Ali Dada, Malika Pukhraj, Maliha Lodhi, Nazia Hasan, Gul Jee, Shaista Zaid, Haji Javed Iqbal Khokher, Syed Hussain Shah, Hakim Saeed, Tasneem Ahmed Siddiqui, Bushra Ansari, Qari Shakir Qasmi, Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi, Qateel Shifai, Patras Bukhari, Farida Khanum,

There may have been many communal failures, but there are too many individual success to give up hope. There is still hope. It is completely dark, and there is no light in sight. But there is till hope. Why? because …

younhi hamesha khilaye hain hum nay aag main phool; na unki haar naee hay na apni jeet naee

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August Mubarak

I expected a pre 14 August post where I would be gushing and beaming with happiness. But, I have already lost faith in the country and its future because of all the violence at individual and communal levels rife in Pakistan, because of the wave of extremism in our country, because of the lack of faith I have in our leadership, because of the all pervading lack of morals, education and etiquette in our nation. So, here goes my pre 14 August post.

My better half and I were out buying plain cakes for a picnic. When we got out of the shop we were in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. Coke studio was playing from Nida’s cellphone. I decided to take a long drive and enjoy the rain, and the lightning, and the thunder. It was a good rain: the raindrops were perfectly sized and sounded well. The windshield wiper’s rhythmic sounds induced a state of trance on me. Turning onto the road, there was a man, a boy even, drenched in water, selling flags that were drenched as well. The sky was beautifully cloudy, like an insane marble cake. Behind of the see of deep rich green flags passed a bright red Tundra.

Time stood still.

The passing of the Tundra was an eternity.

I realized, that this is my Pakistan. This rain on the broken road; this man destitute to the extent that he will stand in the rain to sell two flags; this incredibly expensive car belonging to someone who will not have found it difficult to buy it; this breathtakingly beautiful marble cake cloud; coke studio music that resonates with the cultural evolution of our souls. This is my Pakistan. This point in time and place, this location of existence, for these two seconds, this is my Pakistan. All else has ceased to exist. I was in unimaginable comfort and tranquility. These are the people who toil day in day out, this the culture that I am steeped in, this is the country as it looks to a citizen.

This is my Pakistan.

Pakistanis have a chronic lack of patriotism in the general sense of the word. We are mindblogglingly communal and xenophobic (at a communal level) to the core. We are so illiterate (Jahil would be the correct translation) that we consider brandishing weapons and shooting in the sky on a random basis as signs of machismo. We have an incredible lack of etiquette at a personal and at a communal level. We are living through the horrors of a terrorist insurgency and civil war in parts of the nation. We are witnessing a failing economy and a decaying political and administrative structure. Nothing, read my lips, nothing is going right with Pakistan right now.

But, this is not the true Pakistan.

We may hate Pakistan to the extent of running away from it. We may hate it’s people, it’s institutions, it’s lack of etiquette, it’s moral relaxations, it’s corruption and nepotism, it’s negation of sanity. But, after all the hate has died out, all the irritation has been enjoyed, and all the acrimony is exercised, it is home. It is home. It is home. It is home. It is where we, in all our insane glory, belong to and fit in seamlessly. At the end of the day we are all part of this madness that we call Pakistan. We are all mad, and our personal insanities add up to a national level of insanity unexpected from other nations. We are mad ,individually, and collectively, and we are all part of the madness we call Pakistan. Oh what enriching insanity!

This then is my Pakistan.

I want my country back in all of its psychotic glory, to love and to cherish, to experience and to live.

Happy Birthday Pakistan. And Pakistan Paindabad.

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Convergence and Angelina Jolie

* This post may include references and spoilers for the movie “Salt”. Please proceed only if you have seen the movie, or intend not to.

Fortunate men get to acquire knowledge. Even more fortunate are men who get to apply knowledge. But the most fortunate of men get the opportunity to see different branches of knowledge converge to form new branches of knowledge: they get to create knowledge.

An example of this would be the sudden link and understanding of the truly single nature of the mating habits of the American bull frog and Napoleon’s military strategy of attacking with the right flank first: they are indeed exactly the same thing hence linking amphibian zoology with military strategy. This discovery of new knowledge has made Ahmed Ijaz a most fortunate man.

Today, I have had the opportunity to be this most fortunate man.

I was a fortunate man during my school days when I chanced upon the knowledge of Mansur ibn e Hallaj during a virulent debate with an atheist. After the discussion I took it upon myself to discover and then rediscover the true story. Mansur’s mystic wanderings led him to utter the words “Ana l Haqq”, which means “I am the truth,” in his philosophy this meant that Mansur had learnt the true nature of the absolute, infinite and omnipresent God. For the rest of the world it meant that Mansur had declared himself God. Mansur was crucified in 922 AD.

I was a fortunate man earlier in the evening today when I chanced upon the knowledge that in the movie “Salt” Angelina Jolie is an incredibly beautiful woman. And I also learnt that a woman who can beat the crap out of men by using a gun, another weapon, or just plain fists is bound to be incredibly attractive and desirable. In addition to that I learnt that spies are taught to fly down elevator shafts and drop from aircraft and navigate new buildings with absolute ease. This means that the said spy, who is the best of the best, is infinitely more powerful than man, infinitely more mobile than man, infinitely more unkillable (if Bush can make up words than so can I) than man. This would mean that this spy is, in a way, superhuman. And since that possibility doesn’t exist, this spy actually has divine qualities. One might even go so far as to say, that this spy is God. In the movie at any rate.

Enter the fortunatestness (again, Bush) view on the story, if Salt is God in a movie, and Mansur ibn e Hallaj says that he is the truth, then, there is only one conclusion. Mansur ibn e Hallaj is a Russain Spy. Can you see it? Can you? Can you imagine that right now the barriers of knowledge in your mind are breaking down upon themselves and a new world of knowledge and information is opening up in front of you? Is this not an amazing experience?

By my earlier descriptions, you are fortunate right now because you are acquiring this new knowledge that I have created. Think of when you will apply it and become even more fortunate. And think of when you will create new knowledge and reach the highest level of fortunatelization (need I say it, Bush).

Although, I think the Great Vowel Shift might actually be linked to this. Food for thought?

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Perspective. A rather interesting English word that people from some countries are apt to mispronounce. But words are words, and Mangoes doubly so. One must not judge Mangoes or words by the apparent meaning that they portray, but, one must always continue the search for the true intrinsic meaning. Talking about finding the true intrinsic meaning of life, love and everything would have to include the stray asymptotic discussion on marriage and relationships.

I for one take immense displeasure in someone else taking displeasure in my displeasure at someone elses displeasure. Men will not understand the previous sentence. Women will. And herein lies the importance of perspective. Women will understand it, and ponder over it, get depressed, bake cakes, cry with girlfriends and feel extremely emotionally hollow and incomplete and unloved and unappreciated ruminating over this one thing. Men will only get bored and irritated and finally flee the situation to wallow away in luxirious stupor and the company of doting friends. Herein lies the import of perspective.

There you are, doe eyed sprightly young boy of twenty eight years and two hundred and twenty eight pounds. The elevator had just crossed the first floor, you are alone, and, you are screaming “Love me! Love me!” at the top of your lungs. This example is not about your emotional need to love and have companionship. This example is about your psychological issues. Or some of them at best. Pondering over such outburst of emotional non creativity makes people think. The minute the clock flies past the twenty five year mark, each tick is like a gong, counting down to the time of deathly silence preceding the instant the marriage contract is signed.

Once the ink is dry marriages are like Chicken Haleem: noone likes them, everyone thinks that they are missing out on something, everyone realizes that there are better versions available, it is tasty yet not as much as they would want, it is painful and evil like a tomato, and most of all, they are both fattening and addictive. Alas, the poor screamer, married and loving tomatoes. Forever and ever and ever. And all that he wanted was love and a little understanding. Alas poor Yorick. Alas.

مرہوم بہت ہى اچھے آدمى تھےـ شادى ہو گئى، اور پھر بربادى ہو گئى ـ بہت افسوس ہوا مجھے توـ ہمارے تو چچا کے خاص دوست تھےـ

But what can we say. Except to extol the virtues of life steeped in the understanding of perspective. In a relationship or a marriage what matters, does not matter; what does not matter, matters; what is true, is false; what is false, is true; and a cup of tea prepared by the wife is always delighting; and an evil sarcastic jest prepared by the husband is always criticised. Ah, what a wonderful thing, this marriage business is. It is like jumping into a worm hole while you are high and overfed at the same time. It is exactly that feeling.

And on this note, I must remind all the readers that life is about struggle against the forces of darkness and misuse of power. On a completely different note Ralph Waldo Emerson says that a mans wife has more power over him than the state. Vive la Liberte?

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On the academic pursuits of Doctors Murphy, Tang, Iyer, Hamidi

Two questions have baffled mankind since the dawn of time. We must consider ourselves lucky to be living in times when these questions have been answered. Dr Murphy’s (of the Boston Murpheys) eminent “Compendium of Useful and Liberating Information” published in 1934 by the ChicagoNewPressHouse starts with the insightful sentence: It is a truth self evident that all toasts will fall buttered side down. Further research conducted during the initial years of the second world war led to Dr Murphy’s second highly acclaimed book “Felinity” which has the following clause written in large purple letters on the eighty third page “A cat will always land on it’s feet”.

Dr Tang, Senior Assistant Professor of the Peoples University of Xian had always been enamoured with the great classical writers. His perusal of Dr Murphy’s books coupled with his in depth knowledge of Aeronautical Technology, Physics and Mammalian Biology led to a great discovery. In a moment of rice wine induced cerebral greatness Dr Tang asked himself “What if a cat was tied to a toast such that the buttered side of the toast and the feet of the cat were touching each other”? The wheels were turning. Within a period of one year Dr Tang did experiment with cats and buttered toast. And; voila; he succeeded in making a combo that when thrown off a ledge would hover at a height of about seventy centimeters from the ground since neither the cat will land on its back, nor the toast on its dry side.

Corporate interests sniffing profits at the expense of intellectual magnificence and misused labour covered the earth like a dark cloud of malice and self interest. NewTech Inc decided to pursue the new technology and started a two year project with seventeen consultancy firms. After good advice was provided by the resident janitor Jason, the outsourcing project was cancelled and three in house engineers completed the work in five days. The product, apparently not very well understood by the marketing team, was marketed as a global panacea for all evils with a large poster of a young boy holding a small packet of the product and rabid wolves running away from the packet. In reality, it was a huge array of cats/buttered toast combos, wide enough to carry two cars going in opposite directions and long enough to link New York City with London. NewTech would use this array as a means of rapid transport between these two great cities cutting travel time to a paltry three hours.

It was two days before the inaugural ceremony of the trans atlantic tramway that Dr Iyer sitting in his comfortably air conditioned office in Chennai realized the folly of the enterprise. One word – Birds. If a bird was to come near the array the cat would want to hunt it, and, the bird would want to peck the buttered toast; causing serious consternation and a lot of heartache to all the travelers expecting a quick and non violent journey. Dr Iyer decided that it is times like these when his PhD in Evolutionary Feeding Behaviour will come into use. Mankind needed to be set free from questions pertaining to cats, birds and bread. He is currently conducting research to ensure a smooth trip from New York City to London. May God enable him to add more light to the world of knowledge.

Whilst the wheels of knowledge were turning in Chicago, Xian and Chennai a man of learning was sitting in his reading room in Karachi. Thinking. Pondering. Maulana Hamidi had been a resident of Saudi Arabia, but was thrown out of the Kingdom, because he had had an independent thought. His family cast him out, amidst the shrieks of his mother cursing her fertility and the police officer informing him that for committing the gravest of all crimes in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (other than preaching tolerance) he will be banished to Pakistan. Maulana’s personal life story aside, when he read about the cat / buttered toast array, he just had to say the truth. Maulana Hamidi issued a Fatwa that since this technology was not available in the time of the Prophet and not even in the time of the Sahaba or the Tabaeen, it is Haraam for any Muslim to travel on the Trans Atlantic Tramway. Any married Muslim woman who still chooses to travel by this satanic bidaati mode of transport would have her Nikah annulled.

That this caused much unease to Mrs Khan hailing from Peshawar is one thing. The other being that the research on how to control the birds is still in progress in Chennai.

(Dedicated to Nida Masood, Fahd Rafi, Saad Masood Khan who helped in the development of this article on emergent technologies and ancient wisdom)

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Partial Eclipse of the Brain

Yours truly was overly excited about the great natural phenomenon which is a solar eclipse. Since I had been very bad the past one year, Santa decided to provide only half of my wishes and I was blessed with a partial solar eclipse. Viewing the eclipse became a severe obsession at 1158 hours today and due to lack of any preparation I was very under equipped for the phenomenon. I love using that word.

So, after a quick search about the office for anything pertinent, I, in a state of frenzied psychosis, ran to the roof. This, in my opinion, was the closest location to the Sun accessible to me. Once there, the search for useful equipment was started anew. Finding coloured glass was the cause of great jubilation and happiness. Mild gasps of amazement and amusement were witnessed as well.

After overlapping 10 such glasses I was finally able to see the sun in it’s glory, with a black disk at the bottom. Good good. And with a mixed plate of feelings ranging from excitement, to elation, to fear and to a feeling of immense connectedness to the universe, I gazed in awe at the glorious phenomenon.

And then I got to thinking that if the sun is a brain, and it is half eclipsed, then it would be just like a partial eclipse of the brain. Which is exactly what ruminating over the past one hour has been my opinion of my reaction to the solar eclipse. And probably even my whole life.

Also, it is also a very strong allegory for the state of Pakistan. The under utilization of gray matter is hardly something to be stressed. It is virulently evident wherever one goes. Ah, well! (To be read only up to the entirety of the words reproduced here) Magar Guzaarnay Waalon Kay Din Guzartay Hain.

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