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Archive for June, 2020

Farewell To My Friend Dr. Syed Fasihuddin


Aah it was a 36 years of friendship in total with 30 years of marital association of two people of opposite personalities.
Fasih was quiet, gentle yet nerves of steel, living in the moment and a fearless risk taker. And despite being not too talkative, he was a people’s person, and a helper.
I am, as always expressive, explosive, yet a loner, super cautious bordering to being fearful, never living or enjoying the present, mind always planning 5 years ahead.
Yet for some weird reason we clicked very well. And clicked so much that both of us did not need to change our personalities. I learned from Fasih how to give space to the other partner. He let me be me and certainly wanted me to let him be him.
But the fearless risktaker that he was, I tried my best to be a check on him. But I always failed. And he always proved me wrong.

Whether it was his decision to marry an Indian and the practical challenges related to it. (This is another story, that deserves another memoir).
Or refusing to hand over his wallet on gunpoint at Sharei Faisal( Karachi) traffick jam in rain and handing that boy a brown envelope with patties saying, “I don’t keep wallet, eat this it must be hard work as there are so many cars.”
T
he guy remarked, “Fauji lagtey ho is liye itni himmat dikha rahe ho.”(You look an armed forces man and hence being so daring). And the boy walked to the next car.
Or whenever we travelled, which were very frequent, he would leave at the nick of time, despite my cries to keep some margin of time, speeding to reach on time. Once when we were travelling from Makkah to Jeddah airport to catch PIA flight for Karachi, the car’s tyre burst and we ended up reaching airport 2 hours late when the counter was closed and they were wrapping the list.
Fasih went straight to the manager desk, who was Manzoor Junior ( A Pakistani Hockey Olympian). He was very angry.
Fasih said, “Sir tyre got burst.”
He replied, “Yes this is an old excuse.”
He was not in a mood to listen to Fasih’s pleas. He then touched the chin of Manzoor Sb, “Sir aap hockey bahut achi kheltey the.” (Sir you played awesome hockey.)
Manzoor SB got even angrier and yet said, “No. Sorry.”
Fasih them told him, “Sir aap tou 1984 olympic team ke captain they. Sir, gold medal bhi mila tha….” (Sir you were the captain of 1984 Olympic Team. You even got the Gold Medal).
Manzoor Junior laughed and told his staff….“Inko toilet ke pass wali jo khali seat hai woh issue ker do. Family for peeche wali row de dou.”
(Give him the empty seat near toilet and the row behind to the family).

I wanted to travel Egypt, as it from his Egyptian experience and stay that inspired my father to name me Ilmana. Fasih suggested we drive by car all along River Nile from Luxor to Alexandria in Egypt, even though there were some news Muslim Brotherhood’s recent surgence in Upper Egypt in 1996/1997. I dreaded and he said, “With two toddlers car journey is the safest journey.”
In the area of Asyut, half way through, the Egyptian Army stopped us. “Pakistani?What are you doing here?”
Fasih replied, “Long drive along Nile al Gameel.” (River Nile, the beautiful)
The armed forces guys were so cordial, they drove ahead of us all along 1200km or more, proudly stopping to show us the historical points. And Fasih said, “See we have free guides. You just fear for no reason.”



Or when he gave up his lucrative job abroad to build a hospital in Karachi Pakistan, when target killing of doctors were at its peak in the city. I lived those years with my heart in my throat. I owe this to one of his politician friends who suggested to him, “Fasih bhai at least in haalaat mein bachon ko tou mut Karachi laao.” (Fasih bhai at least in these risky times dont bring your kids to Karachi). So my kids and I came to Canada in 2009.

In the middle or all forms of corruption and bribery in Pakistan he wanted to do good work. So for approval of his hospital plan, confronting the Director General of Karachi Building Control Authority, KBCA (who is now a fugitive for corruption) in his polite affirmness Fasih demanded, “I want to make a quality healthcare setup that provides honest and ethical care in Karachi but I dont have any money to give bribe. I am a salaried man, not a builder.”
And imagine the miracle, the man famous for not sparing a penny of bribe relented saying, “Pray for me in Haram”.
Fasih then took out a box of Ajwa dates as a reward for him. With his mild sense of humor, he came out smiling from the Director’s office saying, “This ajwa dates will control his hypoglycemia for not have got any bribe.”
He was famous in Building Control( KBCA) that, “ye doctor tou kangla hai.” (This doctor is a pauper). And Fasih enjoyed his nickname.

When we inaugurated the dream of his life, Taj Clinics( now Taj Consultants Clinics) he named after his mother Tajunnisa, and realized the hard work wasn’t yet over and it was now a 14 hour per day job, with no vacations, no salary, not even a car for first 2 years of the startup.
I often joked to him, “Deewane tou pehle hi the, ab aur tarah ki deewangi hai.” (Crazy you were already, now this is another level of craziness).
He just laughed and retorted, “Zindagi kya hai jaanne ke liye, Karachi mein rehna bahut zaroori hai.” (To know what living means, you must experience living in Karachi).
He did not regret for a single minute the U-turn his life had taken from a high salaried Consultant luxurious life in the Middle East, to a life in Karachi far from family, with no rest, no money and loads of sweat, loadshedding, manipulations, navigating a thororughly corrupt system for every paperwork, and most of all never ending expenses in newly begun Taj Consultants Clinics.

At our inauguration of Taj Consultants Clinics on April 5, 2015

In 30 years there must have been 100s of such incidents when I feared but he just kept taking risks but with a belief that he is not doing anything unfair or unjust. And that this is the right way and nothing good happens by being fearful. He kept proving my fears wrong.

Last pic together near Niagara Falls on May 11, 2020

He came for a 2 week spring break to us in Mississauga on March 1, 2020. With blessing in disguise due to lockdown and no flights he got stranded here with us for 10 weeks. He travelled back to Pakistan on May 15, 2020, despite our pleas to not go, as I feared he will risk his life in COVID 19 as a Pulmonologist in a madhouse called Karachi. He said he has his patients, his staff that needs to be paid salary before Eid ( May 23, 2020) and,
“I can’t hide from what I am trained to do. My patients will die. I promise I will be safe.”
He started his Chest Clinic at Taj Consultants Clinics on May 25 and saw tens of patients each day with at least a quarter of them were clinically COVID 19. He used to tell me with frustration that many of them are negative on tests and they refuse to accept and to be referred to COVID Centres. On asked to be tested from a relaible lab one man even said, “Sir I have 3 daughters. How can I label myself COVID 19.”
And I kept worrying yet praying and nagging him across oceans, as usual, to follow strict precautions, PPE and SOPs knowing this time too I will be proven wrong.
But this was not meant to be. And as I always told him, “If any risk goes wrong, we wont get a second chance
Last he saw on Friday 19 after which he developed fever and isolated himself. He was admitted on Sunday. Alas, Fasih lost his battle to COVID 19 on Friday 26 June 2020.

Hisaab e umr ka buss itnaa sa goshwaara hai,
Tumhein nikaal ker dekha tou buss khasara hai
.
(This is the mere calculation in the ledger of my life,
If I see excluding you, it is nothing but a total loss).

Farewell My Friend

Walk Through Lightly…


“Historically pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.
We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
~ Arundhati Roy

The journey is inevitable, but the baggage is optional…

When US Marines looted Ancient Treasures from Iraq


ATTENTION ATTENTION


All those complaining of looting & rioting in US cities in past few days be reminded of the following 2000-5000 year old archaeological treasures looted by US Marines in Iraq in 2003.

“American military members, contractors (such as Blackwater and etc), and others caught with culturally significant artifacts they brought home from the war there largely aren’t prosecuted. It’s not known how many Americans brought home artifacts as souvenirs or war trophies, but one expert suggested that the known cases—a defense contractor who brought back gold-plated items from Saddam’s palaces; a U.S. employee who shipped home an Iraq government seal; a Marine who bought eight ancient looted stone seals off the street—are just “the tiniest tip of the iceberg.”
~ UNESCO ( link here: http://international-journal.com/unesco-expressed-its-concern-over-us-forces-looting-iraqi-antiquities/)

In 2006, the headless stone statue of the Sumerian king, Entemena, was recovered after it was offered for sale to a dealer in New York. A year later, a 4,000-year-old inscribed clay tablet was pulled from eBay’s Swiss website minutes before the close of bidding.
In 2008, 11 cylinder seals, made of agate and alabaster, were found by customs agents in Philadelphia.
Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2009/08/09/worldwide_iraqi_treasure_hunt.html

And worse tragedy is the US Marines, first invaded Iraq, killed their people and then ran away looting their thousands years old Sumerian Civilization Treasures.

READ THIS TOO:
When the world was furious and outraged at this, the Secretary of Defense then Donald Rumsfield shrugged it off, “Stuff happens.”

BOTTOMLINE:
Violence or looting is never okay. Yes, its NEVER okay, not only when a specific skin color or group is doing it, not even when US Marines do it overseas.

#GeorgeFloyd #AntiBlackRacism #PoliceAtrocities #Minneapolis

Shadeism is rooted in anti-Black Racism


Have we not heard over and over and over again, one of the first comments we often get to hear when a new baby, boy or girl is born:
“Iska rang itna gehra kyun hai. Kis per chala gaya?”
(His/her skin color so dark. Who has he/she taken on.)
“Arrey iska rang tou itna saaf hai. Bari sunder hai”
(Wow, she is so fair, she is so pretty)
Matrimonial Ad: “Chahiye, ek PhD larke ke liye ek gori, lambi, parhi likhi….”
(Required for a PhD boy a girl fair, tall, educated…)
Don’t fail to notice that fairness is emphesized before the qualifications… 😀

This list can go on. Majority of our conversation on looks hovers around complexion.
Our Bollywood superstars, including top actresses including the so called ‘intellectual’ Ashwarya Rai have adverstised for fairness creams. #Fair&Lovely

Not just women, Bollywood men, even superstar #KingKhan have also been complicit in shamelessly endorsing bleach creams for men.
#Fair&Handsome

It is estimated that in India alone, over $430-million worth of skin lightening products are consumed annually.
This is not all. In a brown-skinned India, you hardly see a dark skinned girl as a heroine. Of course unless you have to show her as an ugly or a destitute.
Here is an Ad from Pakistan by a senior icon, who is herself pretty wheatish branding her own fairness cream. Don’t miss how dusky girls are portrayed as sad, depressed and unfortunate.


We even make fun of the skin tones, hair textures, names and language of African black people, calling them derogatory words like #Kaala #Kalia #Kallu.
A couple of years ago two Nigerian black students were a target of violence in Greater Noisa, near Delhi. (Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-39482239)
In defence to that one of India’s Federal Ministers remarked:
“Indians are not racists. We have been living with South Indians, black people around us.”
How tragically comical can that statement be.
(Wonder if this is for real? Here is the link: https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/racist-tarun-vijays-we-have-south-india-we-live-black-people-comment-sparks-row-59990

#YourStoryTeller developed a story called Shade ( Saanwali) based on a true story:

World has seen enough racial prejudice. It is not just for Black people to rise and protest against anti-Black racism. South Asians too must stand with them in solidarity, and also wake up and rid ourselves of anti-black prejudice and internalized racism in the form of shadeism.

Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter


Why are people protesting all over US?

Here is a story:
Reporter: What do you want?
Black youth: We want justice.
Reporter: What does justice look like to you?
Black youth: We want equality.
Reporter: What do you mean equality?
Black youth: If I walk with my white friend, I will be stopped for question, but not my white friend. This must change. And if to get that, we need to see this place up in flames, its okay. All we want is equality and justice.

African Americans have been subjected to intergenerational trauma from discrimination, racism and violence over centuries.
Black young men continue to be brutally killed for little or no reason by white police officers, and the officers have been getting away with it. They are disproportionately represented in US criminal justice system for their skin color.
Black mothers dread when their boys step out alone and pray they return back alive.
Do you not know why?


If you are criticizing the violence in US cities as unjust while remaining silent on the brutal murder of #GeorgeFloyd, you are only voicing your antiblack racist prejudices, no matter which white, yellow or brown skin you may be.
If this angry outburst and property damage has no justification, there is even disproportionately bigger INJUSTICE in brutally killing an unarmed man with excessive use of one’s power as a white police officer.
Is that a rocket science? Or do you have little or no grey matter to get that?

#BlackLivesMatter#Equality#Justice
#AntiBlackRacism#PoliceBrutality#GeorgeFloyd #AhmaudArbery #EricGarner
If you are still not convinced why are these people protesting, you need to watch this: Trevor Noah:

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