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Archive for September, 2011

Do it anyways

I wasn’t so, not so long ago. But after all the chaos pertaining to hatred, intolerance and self-righteousness all around, I have come to believe that the only way to have real  ‘peace’ is if we donot reciprocate hate with hate or evil with evil.

The following words by Kent M Keith which inspired even Mother Teresa, hold the key to peace in this world, perhaps:

The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.


When hatred reigns.

It was with helplessness that I read an article in one of the newspapers about how school kids in certain areas of Karachi were not able to attend their school safely because of prevailing tensions between two ethnic groups- both Pakistanis, both Muslims of the same sect. A kid claimed he was friends with his schoolmates from the other ethnic community and they even played together after school, but now the same friends say they could not play with him anymore.

Another article read of how Hindus in Baluchistan who have been living there for centuries were fearful of sending their kids to schools due to escalated kidnappings for ransom and killings of the community. Although they have no animosity with the Muslims in neighborhood,  they all scared to mingle.

In brief, the hatred of a handful prevailed over the helplessness of the lot.

Before I could finish, the news broke of Karachi blast in the DHA where along with others, an innocent passerby mom and her 5 year old son got killed.
What prevailed here too was nothing but hatred.

I know first hand, exactly how it feels to be helpless in the face of hatred.

I was a first year medical student in  Lady Hardinge Medical College, situated in the heart of New Delhi, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated on 31 October 1984. The mayhem spread as faster than the spread of the news. As if a riot button was switched on. Delhi’s panorama was puking smoke of hatred from every direction.

Parents were coming to pick up their daughters, from the college hostel, and narrating the harrowing tales of watching limbs and other body parts splattered across the killing fileds that Delhi roads had turned into. I remember how a Sikh girl from my class sat cautiously frozen in the crowd of girls in the hostel’s TV room.  She broke down when she learnt that her brother had left home an hour ago to pick her up. No one reassured her not to cry or to worry for her brothers safety.  Not a single parent even offered to drop her home. Why would I blame others, when I felt the same helplessness, and feared what will happen when my parents come, will they be reluctant to take her too.

Ultimately, along with her and a few other girls, I ended up staying back to spend the terrible night in the hostel. The city had turned into an open house of looting and rampage. Next day on my way back home,  all I saw was roads stained with fresh blood, a charred and empty shop after every few well preserved shops and selectively  burn’t buildings along the way to home. Though I did not have the courage to give a second look, but I did see a glimpse of most likely a charred body lying inside a burnt shop.

At home everyone shared their eye witness accounts. Our house boy Jung Bahadur described how the shacks(jhuggis) in the slums of Mangolpuri and Sultanpuri were stocked with stacks of VCRs, TVs and other electronics. He even shared how some dead bodies were piled together, doused with kerosene and burnt to ashes. Papa had witnessed a headless body being carried in an autorickshaw.

I do not remember how and when did the Sikh girl go home, but we learnt days later that her brother could neither arrive at the college, nor ever return back home. His body was  identified some days later in the morgue.

Again, amidst the helplessness of us all, hatred prevailed like a king.

The same story was repeated with my parents, as they were left in the cold, during the riots in December 1992, that followed Babri Masjid demolition. Many Muslim houses were chalked in Delhi, including those of IAS officers, doctors, cricketers, poets etc.

In fact some like Bashir Badr’s house in Meerut was actually attacked. It was after this incident that Bashir Badr wrote this shair:
Log toot jaatey hain, ek ghar banane mein
Tum taras nahin khaatey bastiyaan jalane mein.

Being  staunch beleivers of Indian secularism, my parents had proudly built a house in 1977 in a University housing cooperative compound where his colleagues and other University professors resided. We were only 2 Muslim houses in a colony of 238 lots, but that was besides the point. However, that cold and lonely December night none of our neighbors, his University colleagues or friends came forward to even reassure them of support in case of any danger. There was a criminal silence from friends and neighbors.

As my mother narrated later, that was the first time she saw my father cry with tears, not for his life, but at the ‘sudden’ transformation in hearts of trusted and indeological friends for several decades. My parents had packed their car with valuables, in case they had to leave. Once the crisis was over, a few friends did come up, begging their helplessness.

Once again, amidst the intelligentsia of the society, hatred took an upper hand .

My grandfather often narrated of an incident when during the 1947 riots a Sikh boy had come to drop a pregnant Muslim woman to Matia Mahal,  Jama Masjid area, but was not let to go back alive, despite the helpless cries from the woman’s family to spare her saviour.

The helpless family members could do nothing as the hatred reigned.

I know I can never be able to guess from where this business of hatred all began, but can we really dare dream a day when the hatred propagated by a handful of vested interests will not prevail over the helpless masses ?

This reminded me of a discourse I had read about the controversy between Tagore and Gandhi during the non-cooperation movement against the British in 1930s.

Tagore had warned Gandhi by saying: “….besides, hatred of the foreigner could later turn into a hatred of Indians different from oneself.”

Gandhi on the other hand believed that this non-cooperation would dissolve  Hindu-Muslims differences.

Ultimately Tagore was proved right, and Gandhi had to shift his  non cooperation  against the British into a non violent movement.

The same corollary of Tagore’s could easily be applied to the situation in Pakistan, too.

What began as a hatred for the foreign faiths has turned into hatred among Pakistanis different from each other.

And ironically a handful of vested interest first made the helpless common Pakistanis hate the foreign faiths and now have turned the Pakistanis of different sects and ethnicities hate each other.

This business of hate has to stop somewhere. Whether it is for a fellow Indian/ Pakistani of different ethnicity, of a different faith or of a foreigner of different color, we have to shout in the face of hatred: “Enough is enough”.

Or else, as poet E E Cummings lamented: Hatred bounces.

A tale of two kitties

Just a week ago, arrived Taara, a 9 week old kitten, to our home. We were apprehensive what reaction the cat already present at home,  Maaya, would have.
Taara was left in the carrying box in the middle of the living room, while we keenly awaited Maaya’s reaction.

The kids had searched over the Internet about the adjustment process of the new cat at home. Since cats are territorial creatures, the two should be kept separate and it takes a gradual process over several months for them to accept each other.

Maaya’s first reaction to Taara scared us. Her tail got all puffed up and the back curved signalling danger. She smelled the kitten through the cage and roared. Hence, both had to be separated immediately to different rooms.

Since Taara kept crying in the tiny carrier, we let her out and she was allowed to survey the new home. She jumped and bumped like a puff ball smelling every nook and corner of the house. It seemed as if she was hunting for her mother and two siblings who were left behind in the other home.

In the second attempt, when the two felines were made to face each other, Taara seemed unwary of Maaya and in fact followed her everywhere. Having come from a family of cats and being a baby, perhaps she hadn’t yet developed the fear of strangers.

Maaya looked very scared though. She would recede as Taara attempted to get closer. The more she reversed, the faster Taara got to reach Maaya. She climbed over the table and jumped over the frightened, double-sized Maaya with full force. The kids would run to pull Taara away and distract her with a feathery toy.
In another instance, when Maaya was sitting on the chair and wagging her hanging tail, Taara kept playing with it from underneath the chair, until Maaya realised and ran away. Taara was all out to befriend Maaya, but being shrewd and cautious (what we call worldywise) Maaya wouldn’t give her a lift.

Maaya was kept confined to  the bedroom, as Taara was allowed to run around the rest of the house, to make her feel free. But the bundle of naughtiness and hautiness wouldn’t still be happy, and kept mewing non stop sitting outside the closed door.

Different feeding dishes were set for the two cats so that they do not get at logger heads while eating. But as if Taara would let that happen. When Maaya started to eat from her designated dish, Taara shoved her head in to it as well, and with a header pushed poor Maaya away. As soon as we witnessed this, they were separated, and Taara was given a new plate with the same food at the other corner of the space. But with no second thoughts, she abandoned it, and again went where Maaya was eating. My daughter then moved Maaya to the new plate, but then so did Taara, with no delay.

For a few days, life seemed like a referee, always on ‘attention’  for a cease fire.  Taara tried all her pranks to  tease or come in Maaya’s way and she provoked her to get angry.  After having got over as a threat, Maaya became a bit high-handed with Taara. But still she was no match to the little evil monster Taara. Barely less that half the size of Maaya, would she wrestle with Maaya as an equal. In fact, most of the provocations came from Taara.

On one occasion, she even managed to scratch Maaya on her snout, leaving a red mark on the pink ridge between Maaya’s beautiful eyes. But Maaya, being a gentlewoman, did not respond with same aggression.

As Maaya felt at ease with Taara, the scene was worth a witness,  when Taara sat at the door mewing and crying for her friend, while Maaya jutted her arm from the space beneath the door, as if trying to reach her crying friend.

All Taara perhaps saw was a mother figure in Maaya. Once when Maaya was asleep, she managed to push her head into Maaya’s belly attempting to suckle. The sight was so painful that we thought of taking her back to her mother, as she perhaps missed her mom’s suckling. My daughter attempted to feed her milk with a syringe, but knowing very well that this wasn’t the real alternative.

Licking by Taara perhaps kindled the maternal instincts in Maaya too and she started to lick back Taara over her face and neck initially, but eventually over all her body.
This has repeated over several times in the past two days. Now, they walk together, sit together to watch TV, feed together and even sleep together, cuddling each other.
In fact, they even go to loo together. As one is in the litter doing the job, the other sits outside, on guard perhaps.

It has been just a week now, and they seemed to have developed the warmest of relations anyone can imagine.

Still, they do wrestle and pounce on each other and we need to watch that it does not turn ugly…but perhaps it wouldn’t. After all they are not nasty human beings, they are lovely cats.

Daredevil Taara, testing Maaya’s patience.

Maaya and Taara watching TV together

Taara and Maaya sleeping like siamese twins

Wah ghar sab se nyara~Kumar Gandharv ~Kabir

Sakhiya Wah Ghar Sabse Nyara,
Jaha Puran Purush Humara
Jaha Nahi Sukh Dukh
Sanch Jhuth Nahi
Pap Na Pun Pasara
Nahin Din Reyn Chand Nahi Suraj,
Bina Jyoti Ujyara

Nahin Tahan Gyan Dhyan
Nahin Jap Tap
Ved Kiteb Na Bani
Karni Dharni Rehni Gehni,
Yeh Sub Jahan Hirani

Ghar Nahin Aghar Na Bahar Bhitar,
Pind Brahmand Kachu Nahin
Panch Tatva Gun Tin Nahin Tahan,
Sakhi Shabd Na Tahin

Mul Na Phul Beli Nahin Bija,
Bina Braksh Phal Sohe,
Oham Soham Ardh Urdh Nahin,
Swasa Lekhan Kou Hai

Jahan Purush Tahwan Kachu Nahin,
Kahe Kabir Hum Jana
Humri Sain Lakhe Jo Koi,
Pawe Pad Nirvana

English Translation

Oh Companion That Abode Is Unmatched,
Where My Complete Beloved Is.

In that Place There Is No Happiness or Unhappiness,
No Truth or Untruth
Neither Sin Nor Virtue.
There Is No Day or Night, No Moon or Sun,
There Is Radiance Without Light.

There Is No Knowledge or Meditation
No Repetition of Mantra or Austerities,
Neither Speech Coming From Vedas or Books.
Doing, Not-Doing, Holding, Leaving
All These Are All Lost Too In This Place.

No Home, No Homeless, Neither Outside or
Micro and Macrocosm Are Non-Existent.
Five Elemental Constituents and the Trinity Are Both Not There
Witnessing Un-struck Shabad Sound is Also Not There.

No Root or Flower, Neither Branch or Seed,
Without a Tree Fruits are Adorning,
Primordial Om Sound, Breath-Synchronized Soham,
This and That – All Are Absent, The Breath Too Unknown

Where the Beloved Is There is Utterly Nothing
Says Kabir I Have Come To Realize.
Whoever Sees My Indicative Sign
Will Accomplish the Goal of Liberation.


She is me ( PakFloods a repeat 2011)

With a chulha, a few pots and her life….She is me.
She is deprived of basic dignity of life, I am of empathy,
She is suffering from abject poverty, I am from apathy,
She is half drowned in water, I am soaked in luxuries,
If she passes away with disease, I should die in shame.
She is what she is, because I am what I am.

Donate Blood, change lives including your own !

Every three seconds, someone needs blood in this world. Blood cannot be manufactured and  there is no substitute for human blood. So the needed blood can only come from GENEROUS DONORS.

When you donate blood once you help FOUR people at a time–one of them is you (see below how?) and the other three, who receive red blood cells, platelets and plasma respectively, separated from the donated blood.

You do not lose anything except ONE PINT out of 12 pints of blood in our body. It takes about 10-12 minutes to give the actual blood. The entire process, from the time you arrive to the time you leave, takes about AN HOUR only.

What’s blood donation like?

• Donating blood is a safe process. A sterile needle is used only once for each donor and then discarded. So a donor has no risk of getting HIV or Hepatitis C infections.
• Blood donation is a simple four-step process: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments.
• Every blood donor is given a mini-physical, checking the donor’s temperature, blood pressure, pulse and hemoglobin to ensure it is safe for the donor to give blood.
• A healthy donor may donate red blood cells every 56 days, or double red cells every 112 days.
• A healthy donor may donate platelets as few as 7 days apart, but a maximum of 24 times a year.

Are there any side effects of blood donation?

The donors hardly get any adverse effects except rarely, some dizziness due to low blood pressure. Drinks lots of fluids, eat a full meal within 4 hours of blood donation, do not take alchohol or smoke a cigarette immediately after donation. This may cause dizziness to occur.

How long does it take to replace the given blood?

After donating blood, you replace these red blood cells within 3 to 4 weeks. It takes eight weeks to restore the iron lost after donating.

How is blood concentrate collected?

In general, there are two methods in which blood products are collected: apheresis and whole blood donation.

In the whole blood method, blood product is first collected as whole blood. Using centrifugation, whole blood components become separated and settle in the following order: red cells at the bottom, the “buffy coat” of platelet and white cells in the middle and the plasma on top. This is the method commonly used in places with less resources.

Apheresis is similar to the whole blood collection except only the selected components are drawn off and the remaining components are returned to the donor’s circulation. This method is expensive.

In the end, the blood products collected are red cells, platelets, and plasma. Plasma can be further fractionated into albumin, cryoprecipitate (rich in clotting factors such as fibrinogen, von Willebrand factor, and factor VIII) and intravenous immune globulin.

How can blood donation help you as a donor?

First, before donating blood, everyone must pass a mini-physical and a medical history examination. During the physical, your blood pressure, pulse, temperature and your hematocrit level (the level of red cells in your blood) are checked. Sometimes physical problems such as high blood pressure are found during a blood donation mini-physical. So donating blood can be a way to keep a check on your own health while helping others.
Second, preliminary studies also found that heart attacks and other cardiac problems were less common in men who had donated blood compared to men who had not.

Who can donate blood?

Though rules may vary, but any healthy individual above 17yrs and 110 pounds weight can donate blood.

If you are healthy and began donating blood at age 17, and donated every 56 days ( which is absolutely okay), until you reached 76, you would have donated 48 gallons of blood, potentially helping save more than 1,000 lives!

Who remembers this 9/11?

On 9/11, 1973, somewhere in some remote corner of the world,  where too humans live, called Chile and which had a democratically elected President Salvadore  Allende in power, the following events occurred:

At 7:00 AM the Navy of Chile itself,  captured the port town of Velpraiso, strategically stationing ships and marine infantry in the central coast and closed radio and television networks.

By 8:00 AM, the Army had closed most radio and television stations in Santiago city; the Air Force bombed the remaining active stations

At 8:30 AM, when the armed forces declared their control of Chile and that Allende was deposed,

By 9:00 AM, the armed forces controlled Chile, except for the city centre of the capital, Santiago.

President Allende was informed of the coup. He refused to step down, and insisted on staying in the Presidential palace La Moneda. The military declared they would bomb the palace. The president was advised by his Socialist party to escape, but he refused. Even the Military tried to negotiate with him to resign, but he did not accept to step down. Finally, amidst air and ground offensive going on in the country, the President began a farewell speech in which he vowed to die rather than leave. And finally in the presence of two doctors, he killed himself with an AK47 rifle inside the La Moneda palace. All that was announced by the coup instigators was: “Allende commited suicide and is dead now.”

After the coup, Augusto Pinochet came to be the ruler of military led rule in Chile. He went on to rule Chile from 1978 till 1990. And history is witness that his was one of the most fascist regimes with severe human rights violations, the world had seen.

Only 60 people died on September 11, 1973 as a result of the coup de’tat. But what followed as a result of Pinochet’s dictatorship, is no secret to the world.
As described by the President of an eminent Human rights group :

He shut down parliament, suffocated political life, banned trade unions, and made Chile his sultanate. His government disappeared 3,000 opponents, arrested 30,000 (torturing thousands of them) … Pinochet’s name will forever be linked to the Desaparecidos, the Caravan of Death, and the institutionalized torture that took place in the Villa Grimaldicomplex.
”~ Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, National Review.

It is documented that:
“ U.S. provided material support to the military regime after the coup, although criticizing it in public. A document released by the CIA in 2000, titled “CIA Activities in Chile”, revealed that the CIA actively supported the military junta after the overthrow of Allende and that it made many of Pinochet’s officers into paid contacts of the CIA or U.S. military, even though some  were known to be involved in human rights abuses.”  mentions Wikepedia.

With due respect to the victimes of 9/11, 2001 and all those who have died as a result of terrorism all round the globe ever since,  I quote an American Richard Clarke:

‎”We invaded a country, Iraq, that had nothing to do with the attack on us, but had everything to do with the preconceived plans of a cabal in and out of our government. In the process, we killed 100,000, wounded many times more, and threw millions out of their homes. More Americans suffered violent deaths in Iraq than did on 9/11, and multiples more were scarred for life.”

This event was what Naom Chomsky calls the ‘First 9/11’.

Bulleh Shah, the daring secularist!

In the times when  the whole world is going through an era of hatred, intolerance and extremism and Pakistan seems to be synonymous to all these words, what could be a better tribute to Bulleh Shah but to show to the world that there existed a daring secularist on this land almost 250 years ago.

Here I make a feeble attempt to write about Bulleh Shah, from  what little I know of him as a secularist : 

Bulleh Shah (1680-1757), was a sufi, who  lived in the heart of  Punjab, in Kasur,  as a  contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh, a reformer and mystic in his own right. Both of them had to face the wrath of a radical Muslim Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in their life.

Not very different from the state of our current world, ridden with extremism and hatred towards other faiths , even 250 years ago, the subcontinent  was plunged in deep turmoil.  But Bulleh Shah, who thought far ahead of his times, dared to challenge the prevailing hatred and religious bigotry.  

He lamented:

“Ulte hor zamane aaye,
Hun asaan bhed sajjan de paaye.
kaa(n) laggad nun maaran lagge, 
chiriyan jurre khaaye 
iraqiyan nun chabuk paunde, 
gade khood khavaye
aapneyan vich ulfat naahee,
ke-he chaachche taaye 
piyo putran ittfaak naa kaahee, 
dheeyan naal naa maaye 
sachcheyan nun hun milde dhakke, 
jhoothe kol bahaaye 
agle jaaye bankaale baithe, 
pichliyan farash vichaye 
Bullah jina hukam hazooron andaa, 
tina nun kaun hataaye.” 

“Perverse times have come,
I know the mystery of the beloved
crows have begun to hunt hawks, 
and sparrows feed on falcons
horses bear the whipping, 
while donkeys graze on lush green
no love is lost between relatives, 
be they younger or elder uncles
There is no accord between fathers and sons,
Nor any between mothers and daughters
The truthful ones are being pushed about,
the tricksters are seated close by
The front liners have become wretched,
the back benchers sit on carpets
Those in tatters have turned into kings,
the kings have taken to begging
O Bulleh, that which is His command
who can alter His decree.” 

Despite being a terror that Aurangzeb was, Bulleh Shah audaciously defied him not once but several times :

When Aurangzeb banned the music and dance, declaring it  as haram in Islam–Bulleh Shah, following instructions from his teacher, defiantly  went from village to  village in Punjab, singing and dancing to his Kafis.

As Aurangzeb beheaded Guru Tegh Bahadur, Bulleh Shah dared to call the slain Sikh leader as Ghazi, a religious warrior.

” Kitay Tegh Bahadur Ghazi hay ” 

Bulleh Shah hailed the revolutionary spirit of Guru Gobind Singh, calling him  a ‘protector’ of those who believed in right to follow their religious belief. He said in a subtle satire:

Nah Karoon Ab Kee,
Nah Karoon Baat Tab Kee.
Gar Na Hotey Guru Gobind Singh,
Sunat Hoti Sab Kee.

I talk about neither yesterday nor tomorrow;
I talk about today.
Had Gobind Singh not been there,
They would all be under Islamic sway.

Hence, mentioning that had the tenth Guru not been there, Auranzeb would’ve forced all to convert to Islam( implying Sunnat as circumcision).

Not only did he oppose the persecution of Sikhs in his times, he also advised Banda Bahadur not to avenge Auranzeb’s cruelty by killing innocent muslims.

Referring to the plight of his times in Punjab, and referring to the apathy of the onlookers, he wrote:

The Mughals quaff the cup of poison.
Those with coarse blankets are up.
The genteel watch it all in quiet,
They have a humble pie to sup.
The tide of the times is in spate.
The Punjab is in a fearsome state.
We have to share the hell of a fate.

(According to KS Duggal here ‘coarse blankets’ is referred to Sikhs) .

Bulleh Shah, in solidarity with Sikhs,  is said to have visited a Sikh temple at  Makhowal  at the time of Guru Tegh Bahahdur. He saw people engrossed in ‘ Kar Seva’ (service to the temple,  construction etc), ‘Kirtan’ (the morning singing of prayer) and ‘Langar’ ( the free distribution of meals ) by the devotees. Impressed by their devotion through service,  he remarked:

Ett khrikka ( sound of bricks during construction work)
Duppar vajje ( sound of dholaki during kirtan)
Nale balle chulla (langar).
Enhi galin Rabb raji rehanda
Nale rehanda Bulleh.

Aurangzeb  was  arrogant  not just to non Muslims, he even did not attempt to hide his hatred towards his own  brother Dara Shikoh for following the Shia sect of Islam. And he had heartlessly got  GuruTeghBahadur killed in public, in Delhi and also eliminated his brother DaraShikoh for his beliefs.

Bulleh Shah , on the contrary,  being a true and fearless secularist, rejected  the discrimination between faiths- be Hindu-Muslim -Sikhs or sects- Shia-Sunnis ,and wrote:

Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace.
We are neither hungry nor replete,
Neither naked nor covered up.
Neither weeping nor laughing,
Neither ruined nor settled,
We are not sinners or pure and virtuous,
What is sin and what is virtue, this I do not know.
Says Bulhe Shah, one who attaches his self with the lord.
Gives up both hindu and muslim. 

While he did not spare those who monopolised their faith:

“Lumpens live in the Hindu temples
And sharks in the Sikh shrines.
Musclemen live in the Muslim mosques
And lovers live in their clime.”

And even dared to compare their clergy to ‘barking dogs’ and ‘crowing roosters’.

Not very different from the current times, wherein ‘secularism’ is still perceived as  Ladeeniyat ( atheism)), he too was labelled as an apostate for his secualr stance. To which he taunted:

Bulleh-a aashiq hoyiyon Rabb da,
Hoai Malamat Lakh Tenon Kafir Kafir aakhdey,
toon aaho aaho aakh
A lover of God?
They’ll make much fuss;
They’ll call you a Kafir 
You should say -yes, yes.

Learning from Bulleh Shah and  Kabirdas, and knowing the history of subcontinent,  today I too gather courage to defy Iqbal’s  verses :

Juda ho deen siyasat se tou reh jati hai Changezi .
When religion is separated from politics, it is reduced to brutality.

I say: Jurey jo  deen siyasat se tou ho jata hai Changezi…
When religion enjoins politics, it becomes brutal.

If after this you call me a traitor: I should say yes, yes.

 P.S. My two penny: 

Recently talking to a friend from Bhopal, about extremism in Pakistan,  I felt disheartened to know that all she knew Bulleh Shah was that  Abida Parveen sang him and that too in the context of his love poetry. And was oblivious to his humanist and secularist stance.

It is so unfortunate that even today, many in India ( besides Punjab) and elsewhere in the world, people who know Kabirdas and Amir Khusrow backwards,  have barely heard of Bulleh Shah except in context of  his love poetry.

Even my  first exposure to Bulleh Shah’s poetry was through the verses…Bulleh ki jana main kaun...that too as a song sung by Rabbi Sher Gill. And I wondered and found the words wierd…not aware of the context. However, after having read some ‘bit’ of his history and his Kafis, it all makes sense now.

What wonders me most is that though in India, we read Kabirdas from grade Six, I never ever heard of  Bulleh Shah’s mention in any Indian history text books. What is more unfortunate that even in Pakistan, school text books never taught Bulleh Shah whether in history or in literature.

I still  consider Rabbi Sher Gill as the one who let me be familiar with Bulleh Shah’s name, to begin with. Besides many other sources…my special thanks to KSDuggal’s Mystic Muse,  Saeen Zahoor for telling stories of Bulleh Shah, the blogs Sufi Poetry, of Raza Rumi ‘s and Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi’s, who I stalked to learn about Bulleh Shah’s poetry and history.

Na maen momin vich maseet aan
Na maen vich kufar diyan reet aan
Na maen paakaan vich paleet aan
Na maen moosa na pharaun.

Bulleh! ki jaana maen kaun

Na maen andar ved kitaab aan,
Na vich bhangaan na sharaab aan
Na vich rindaan masat kharaab aan
Na vich jaagan na vich saun.

Bulleh! ki jaana maen kaun.

Na vich shaadi na ghamnaaki
Na maen vich paleeti paaki
Na maen aabi na maen khaki
Na maen aatish na maen paun

Bulleh!, ki jaana maen kaun

Na maen arabi na lahori
Na maen hindi shehar nagauri
Na hindu na turak peshawri
Na maen rehnda vich nadaun

Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun

Na maen bheth mazhab da paaya
Ne maen aadam havva jaaya
Na maen apna naam dharaaya
Na vich baitthan na vich bhaun

Bulleh , ki jaana maen kaun

Avval aakhir aap nu jaana
Na koi dooja hor pehchaana
Maethon hor na koi siyaana
Bulla! ooh khadda hai kaun

Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun

Not a believer inside the mosque, am I
Nor a pagan disciple of false rites
Not the pure amongst the impure
Neither Moses, nor the Pharoh

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Not in the holy Vedas, am I
Nor in opium, neither in wine
Not in the drunkard`s craze
Niether awake, nor in a sleeping daze

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

In happiness nor in sorrow, am I
Neither clean, nor a filthy mire
Not from water, nor from earth
Neither fire, nor from air, is my birth

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Not an Arab, nor Lahori
Neither Hindi, nor Nagauri
Hindu, Turk (Muslim), nor Peshawari
Nor do I live in Nadaun

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Secrets of religion, I have not known
From Adam and Eve, I am not born
I am not the name I assume
Not in stillness, nor on the move

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

I am the first, I am the last
None other, have I ever known
I am the wisest of them all
Bulleh! do I stand alone?

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Of Unity, Discipline and Faith

It is, as always, painful to  watch the news bulletin which on most days begin with news of blasts, target killings, street crime or sectarian hatred. Following all this, in the end usually come the passing mention of  floods, hunger, poverty and other issues that plague our homeland.

The manner with which the TV channel projected the news, marinated with spice,  is perhaps to make it appetizing to the apathetic  masses, who seem to have got immune to such news.

One such evening,  when there were blasts in Quetta and Delhi simultaneously, along with the unabated  target killings in Karachi, the  bulletin  was too spicy  for my liking and I felt severely nauseated.

To get a breath of fresh air, I walked outside in the lawn. It was refreshing to see threesome geese…and saw that  sitting beside the bird feeder. One of them was limping ( I guess was injured) while the other two  were flapping their wings and trying to encircle the injured.

Dejected with my existence as a human being, I looked at the birds in an awe– ” Such free birds and travel over 4500 miles every year from Europe to Central Asian states, to finally arrive in  Pakistani and Indian wetlands for winter. These migratory birds must have flown over awesome Karakorum, Suleiman  and Hindukush Ranges,  along the Indus River, to arrive in Pakistani marshes,”  I pondered.

Sickened and  overflowing with pensive emotions I found their partying in my lawn annoying and irritating. The geese’s a-hink-a-honk appeared unstoppable.

Perhaps I was envious of the research that I had read some years ago which  found that these geese migrate thousands of miles as ‘one’ flock, rising above their individual self and if any bird falls sick or is injured, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead. And when done, then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.

What a show of ‘empathy’, I wondered. And how shameful, we humans claiming  higher brain function have almost forgotten this word.
As I sat to watch and feed them with wheat grains with my hands…I couldn’t resist but to share with them,

“I wish I was one of you.”

”Why? “, asked one. “Aren’t you the most intelligent species created by God?”

“Yes, but I love the way you tiny, pea-brained creatures fly thousands of miles , as free birds, who need no borders, passports or visas…even need no expensive tickets or advance bookings  to travel each year …and there is no one to stop you.”

The goose eyes twinkled with pride, ”Yes indeed. But do you know how do we succeed in braving such distances?”

“Yeah, I read some research–you fly in flocks united as one group, in a V-formation, up to the destination.”

As I spelt the word ‘united’, my heart sank at the absolute disunity that we display being divided as Muslims-Ahmedis-Christians or even Shias-Sunnis  instead of staying in a flock united as Pakistanis.

“Yes, unity and discipline are the foundation stones with which we brave through our arduous journey from Siberia to South Asia”, declared one of the  geese.

“Discipline, that flying in a V you call discipline?” I taunted.

“Your scientists have researched and found out the reason why we fly in that V. Do you know why?”, he asked.

“Yeah I guess because to fly in an S would be tougher, Huhh!”, I mocked.

“Hahaha. You and your twisted human mind.  Staying organised in a V gives us strength. The bird ahead flaps his wings to reduce the air resistance and gives a lift to the next behind it . Thus, the reduced air resistance is passed on to the bird immediately behind and subsequently the whole flock gets the benefit. And this way we are able to add 75% greater flying range than if each bird did it alone. “

Hearing this rang the bells in my mind of that painful High School Physics which taught us that principle of airlift. . But what’s the point, I thought, despite learning through science or through moral science, of the advantages of unity and discipline? Did we humans ever applied it in our real life?

I had no answer to the bird, but so true to my human nature, I made a nasty taunt,

“How mean, you let one bird as a leader do all the hard work. The one at the front does the most labour, ‘alone’ by flapping its wings through the air resistance. How inhuman?”

“You call this inhuman? Being cruel is so ‘human’ I would say”, the goose retorted.

That comment really hurt. I knew the goose was right. What hurt more was that it was a pea-brained goose making that comment about the most intelligent species created by God. (Thanks to the arrogance with which we judge each other too as big or small).

“Do you know we keep changing our leader and we all take turns to lead? When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.”

“Oh really, that’s strange. How do you elect your leader—like us through elections?”

“Elections? Why? For us each bird gets its turn to be the leader. Do you humans let everyone lead, in turns?” he remarked.

How silly of these birds, I felt. If I was one of them, I would never let anyone else take the lead except me. To hell with turns.Huhh.

“And mind you, our leader really works hard, not like human leaders who live a VVIP life and never are they willing to step down.” replied the bird, as if  he read my thoughts.

“Not only do we stay united and disciplined, we keep our faith in whoever is our leader for that period.”

“What?” I inquired.

“See our leader leads and works hard the most. The ones behind, follow him with complete faith. The ones at the extreme back keep honking all through the journey. They honk ‘Keep going, we are right behind you’. Have you ever experienced how energising it is when someone gives you support and inspiration from behind? It synergises one’s capacity far beyond one’s capability.”

“Faith?” I was confused.

“Exactly, it is a mutual faith between the leader and rest of the flock. This trio of unity, discipline and faith enables us to travel thousands of kilometres braving harsh weather, sometimes even lack of food on the way”, remarked the goose.

My head hung in shame. They understood what was the true meaning of faith–not just the faith in God, but also of faith in the leadership, faith in the people and faith in one’s own abilities. And this faith should make us move forward,  not kill each other. We perhaps have misconstrued ‘faith’ as just religion and keep quarrelling with each other in the name of that faith.

By now, I was feeling embarrassed of how a pea brained bird was singing songs of its greatness. My ego could not hold back and I screamed:
“Do you know this Unity, Discipline and Faith that you follow along the 4500 km journey, was actually a slogan given by our Founding Father?”

All the bird heads turned at me in awe…and after a long silent pause one of them remarked:

“You humans  have heard of  Unity, Discipline and Faith?  Oh really?” 

And with that exclamation, all three of them flew up in the sky, in a small V formation, towards the east , perhaps for their final destination in Bharatpur Bird sanctuary.

I kept staring at them, till they went out of sight. And with them, went out of mind the lesson they taught from their lives.

Why did I need to learn from those pea-brained birds ? Afterall I am the most intelligent species living on Earth.

Dengue Fever Awareness

Dengue Fever aka ‘Break bone fever’

Dengue fever is a flu kind of illness spread by bites of female Aedes mosquito. This mosquito bites the infected person and then bites someone else who is not affected thus transmitting the infection. These mosquitoes are active during the day time and at night when the lights are on. These mosquitoes live among human beings and breed in discarded tyres, flower pots, water stores etc.

The mosquito can be easily recognised by it’s black and white ‘zebra’ stripes.

The symptoms are as follows:

Treatment for Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic fever

• As far as the treatment is concerned there is no specific medication or vaccine,
• The affected person is treated with Paracetamol to bring down the fever. But one must avoid self prescription and consult the doctor, to prevent complications.
• The person is usually adviced to drink lots of fluids.
• The infected person should be isolated until recovery from the rest of the family to prevent further infections. The infected person as such cannot spread the infection but can be a source to spread it.

Although there is no vaccine to prevent this epidemic certain preventive measures as specified below can be taken to control the epidemic.

Preventive Measures to control Dengue Fever

• Use mosquito repellents.
• Discard all unwanted items  getting gathered around the living area to avoid stagnant water that assists in breeding of mosquitoes. Eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, like artificial containers that hold water in and around the home.
• Keep the water stores clean and closed.
• keep yourself well covered when outside-with full sleeves and long trousers.
• Take prompt medical advice once fever starts.

P.S. There are emails speculating the goodness of papaya leaf juice for raising platelet count in Dengue Fever. It suggest to take 2 tablespoon papaya leaf juice per serving once a day, prepared from using 4 pieces papaya leaf (without stem or sap) after cleaning, pound and squeeze with filter cloth. There is no scientific proof of this recommendation, but papaya leaf is known to contain very high amounts of vitamins A, C, E, K, B Complex.

However, one must not stop following the medical advice for Dengue Fever prevention or treatment.


The health researchers claim that if you have suffered from dengue in the past be more careful as theSECOND ATTACK OF DENGUE CAN BE MORE DANGEROUS than the first attack.
The body develops antibodies the moment a person is sick with dengue. However, when that person gets well and is afflicted with dengue again, the antibodies that were developed the first time the person got dengue will mix with the new virus strain, causing abnormalities in the blood vessels and in the body’s immune system, causing Haemorrhagic Dengue.
Haemorrhagic dengue might lead to bleeding from the eyes, nose and through urine or stool.

Watch out for repeat infections!

And the only way is to prevent mosquito bite from the methods mentioned above or told by your doctor.

Take a couple of minutes to see this important information on Dengue causing mosquito:

Sources: WHO, CDC.

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