Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

I have a love-hate relationship with daylight saving time.
I hate it when I lose an hour of sleep, and LOVE it when I get to sleep an hour extra.

Rest, who cares about the clock time change?
I just do the mental maths for 6 months till the clocks start giving correct time.
BTW I follow the old trick of staying on time: I keep my bathroom and bedroom clocks 10 min fast. 😃
Cant do that with cell phone times, so I don’t see cell phone times unless outside.
Car clock: My son does change it despite my disapproval. So it gets changed.
Microwave or gas stove times: How does one change that? I don’t even use them for time check. 😃

The only info I learned from this flyer below is ‘how to change the sundial’ as I have one on my terrace.
So that”s definitely a valuable information.

Now that I am living in Karachi, I did definitely miss the weekend of Canada where the clock got an hour faster. Just for the heck of it. Here in Karachi, Pakistan or in India, we never heard of clocks being changed due to daylight saving time. But we still lived, worked, and slept.

So what difference does it make in the countries where it is done? Did the original indigenous people of North America also had daylight saving time? If they didn’t, as most likely, then how are we now doing any better by making it happen now?
I beg my ignorance and I think I need to read up. There has to be some solid philosophy or scientific argument behind it, even if we don’t get it.
It feels a lot better to know that I am not the only blissfully ignorant person who doesn’t get it. The Native American people also find it funny as below: 😀

Here’s daylight saving time in a nutshell:

Because it adds an unnecessary challenge for parents with little kids to put them to bed an hour early.

For those keen to learn and understand more about this idea, here’s some valuable information 😀


We all have known how Shah Jahan poured out his love for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal after she died in the form of Taj Mahal. The question is did he show this kind of love in her life too, apart from making her bear 14 children?

Shah jahan was a man of extraordinary tastes. And then he had a pretty wife Mumtaz Mahal he constantly wanted to shower her with surprises as his expression of love. Ofcourse when you are super rich, and a king, for you symbols of love only seem to be gold, silver, diamonds and precious stones. Hahahaha.
The legend is that Shah Jahan created his own private quarters in the Lahore Fort ( the fort initially constructed by Akbar), embellished his bedroom and meeting room with frescoes using gold and silver along other colors, pietra dura(marble inlaid with Lepiz, rubies, agate, jade etc). These rooms had airy windows lined with marble carved jaalis that looked upon River Ravi. The breeze from the river kept his quarters cool. On the inner side there was a beautiful courtyard with a fountain in the centre, that went upto 8 feet high. The marble of the courtyard was chosen with different hues that gave the impression of clouds. In fullmoon nights they created a mesmerizing, surreal view.
However, his favourite queen wasn’t too impressed. Apparently, as claimed by the tour guide, she told her husband, “You have money, so you made it out of gold, silver and precious stones. I want something that is unimaginable and priceless. Can you make me a house bringing those stars from the sky?” The metaphor in Urdu is more relatable, “Mere liye aasman se taare la ker ghar bana sakte ho?”
Like every imaginative person, this didn’t seem an impossible feat for Shah Jahan.
He ordered his Persian architect to procure the best convex glass pieces from anywhere in the world. As a result the architect traveled the region as found the right kind in Syria. Hence came into existence of Sheesh Mahal in the Shah Burj section of Lahore Fort.
Shah Jahan it is said, would lie down in his room with his queen, with one single candle lit in the room, and all the mirror pieces would sparkle like stars. And there would be cool breeze of Ravi coming from the windows, and they would see a fountain flowing in from of them in the courtyard under full moon. He would then ask his wife, “Do you like it now?”
And the queen would just give an affectionate smile.
Another thing: All over the walls of Sheeh Mahal apart from convex mirrors and glasses were paintings of King and Queen. One painting was queen serving wine to the king. . One painting was of Radha-Krishna as a tribute to their love.
So this was about the super rich, and their high-end coquetry and expensive swag. LOL.
Also,during Sikh dynasty in Lahore after Auranzeb, Sheesh Mahal became the favourite place for Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his wives.

Here for us the ordinary middle class humans of the Earth, are pictures we attempt to capture with a simple mobile phone camera, of the neglected remains of their luxurious swag. Good news is that they are being restored now, albeit slowly.

#SheeshMahal #LahoreFort #QueensSwag

Prince Khurram was the son of Emperor Jehangir and a princess of Jodhpur, Jagat Gosain. A brilliant man well versed in Persian, Turkish and Arabic. Very few know that with influence from his Hindu mother, he even was also a patron to many Hindi poets, like Chintamani Acharya Saraswati, and Jagannath Pandit. Another curious fact about him was that he was a good singer himself. Ofcourse he was a doted son of his father and groomed as his heir. So much was he doted, that Jehangir’s favourite Queen Nur Jehan got Prince Khurram married to her pretty niece Arjumand Bano.
However, jealousies dont spare the biggest of kings and queens even. Once Jehangir-NoorJehan’s daughter got married to Shahryar, the queen started to influence her hensure husband to make their son-in-law as his heir. Apparently Jehangir was getting influenced, and hence Prince Khurram in anger revolted against his father, that result in his defeat. Isolated and banished by his father King Jehangir, distraught Prince Khurram went far far in the wilderness of Thatta, Sind, a place that was hardly ever visited by any Mughal King (except Akber) in 1623 The kind hearted people of Thatta hosted him with open arms.
3 years later, the king and the prince patched up and Prince Khurram left Thatta.
In 1627 King Jehangir died and after an internal battle for power, Prince Khurram was crowned as Emperor Shah Jahan.
And he was so benevolent that he forgave his step mother Nur Jahan, gave her a pension of Rs.200,000/annum and made her son-in-law his vazir, giving him the title of Khan-i-khana.
In 1637, the Sindh coast was hit by a severe cyclone and it destroyed Thatta entirely. Now being a King of the entire region, Shahjahan was heart broken, as he had not forgotten the hospitality of the people of Thatta in his worst of times. As a gratitude to the people of Thatta, HE ordered to build the Jamia Mosque in Thatta, which is now known as Shah Jahan mosque. The resplendence of the gift symbolized the benevolence of the people of Thatta. And seeing it today, one can imagine how exquisite and exotic a gift it must have been when brand new.

Today, in the daytime, I made a major check on my bucket list by visiting Thatta, Keenjhar Lake, Makli Necropolis and Shah Jahan Mosque. Just a couple of hours drive from Karachi, I wonder, why did it take so long for me to visit this gem. Unfortunately could not go earlier with Fasih, but many thanks to my boy Ismail Fasih and friend Farah Shams for their beautiful company.

Having visited Shah Jahan’s Taj Mahal, Agra Fort in Agra, Red Fort, Jama Masjid in Delhi, and Wazir Khan mosque, Lahore Fort in Lahore, and Shalimar and Chashme Shahi gardens in Kashmir valley, I had a fair sense that anything connected with the name ‘Shah Jahan’ has to be something stunning in its aesthetics and mndblowing in its design.
The entrance was ordinary, with no clue what lay behind the unkempt entrance surrounded by thelas of Thatta Rabri, hawkers selling poppadums and a long line of kids in ragged clothes with their out stretched hands begging as we came out of our vehicle. As we walked in, the fountains lined by sky blue commercial tiles stood dry welcoming us.
The closer we got to the main mosque, the more it began to overawe us. The stunning blue and turquoise tiles from Hala, contrasting the terracotta color of their well baked bricks was a combination I had never seen before in any other Shah Jahan monument. As we entered, and walked from one room to another, I was just too overwhelmed and began to actually get breathless. I swear I am not exaggerating.
This mosque is said to be the most elaborate of mosques in the entire South Asia and also the only one with most domes. Its has over 90 domes and curiously has no minarets.
Design wise, this mosque is famous for its acoustics. As we were there, Adhaan for Asr prayers was called, and the Muazzin did not have to use any loudspeaker. The mosque is also a marvel of good ventalation where all the small rooms are airy and well lit without any artificial electricity. It can house upto 20,000 persons during prayers. Ismail my son joined the congregation in prayers, while wearing a short. And imagine, except for one person, who pointed out to him politely about this being now appropriate, no other local made any fuss about it.

Its is such a treasure for the people of Sindh and for Pakistan. Though now considered a Heritage site by UNESCO, there appears any engagement by the govt. in its maintenance or even in making any attempts to market this as a magnet for tourism. This can easily be a source of pride for Sindh if after a little upkeep and attention this is made a place a must to visit for every person visiting Karachi, much like everyone visiting Delhi has to go to Red Fort or Taj Mahal in Agra. With Makli Necropolis and Keenjhar Lake in the vicinity, this can be a prized tourist spot which brings good revenue to the Province and the country.
And ofcourse, this tourism will help alleviate abject poverty so obvious to us, and we will no see the little kids’ outstretched hands begging for pennies like we witnessed today.
And yes, my rant is not just to the govt organizations, I can bet, even most of Karachiites, whether living in Karachi or anywhere on the globe, must have never cared to visit this mosque in their life.
Hate me for saying this, no worries. 😀

Disclaimer: This is a piece of fiction written by Ilmana Fasih. Any resemblance to any part of the story or character are purely coincidental !

A wife tested COVID positive and developed severe symptoms.
Her husband felt bad that he hadn’t really been very kind to her, had always been fighting with her, forgot their anniversaries, her birthdays etc.
He thought, “What if she dies? I will live all my life in guilt for not having cared enough for her.”
He asked her, “Make a wish darling, and I will fulfill it.”
Wife; “Really? Anything.?
Husband: “Yes anything. Just say it. And it will be done.”
Wife: “Can you buy me a 2 Carat Diamond Solitaire ring?”
Husband was perplexed. That would be hell of an expensive gift.
But he thought this was the best and most likely the last moment to prove he cared.
He sold off his car and got her a $ 25,000 Two Carat Diamond Solitaire ring.
“Darling, here is your present.” As he passed on the bag following 2 meters social distancing dictat.
Wife excitedly removed her oxygen mask, powdered her face a little, put on a red lipstick and draped herself with a beige shawl with red border.
She then slid the ring on her left ring finger and told him to take a picture with her posed with the hand placed on her chin with the giant 2 carat diamond sparkling distinctly.
After the picture was taken she told him, ‘I will put this picture on Instagram with hashtags #NoOccaisionGift, #Surprise#TwoCaratSolitaire, #GiftFromMyLove and tell the world how awesome and caring my husband has been.”
And then she put the ring back in the box and told her husband, “Darling please return back the ring to the shop. I don’t want to die with guilt that I made you spend so much money before my death, just for nothing. But honey please let this remain a secret between us.
Husband replied with utmost affection,My love, money doesn’t matter. I got this gift for you. But you know I love you so will respect your wish and do as you say.”
The husband gladly took it back to the shop saying his wife did not like the ring. And he took the money back and repurchased his car.
He felt accomplished that at least once he was a good husband, and that will be the last image world will have of him if and when she dies.
“How clever am I”, he thought of himself.
And the wife, as her temperature rose, her oxygen saturation went down from 98 to 96 to 92 to 88 to 80 and so on, she coughed with contentment, “At least I will die peacefully now. This wretched man will not take any long to remarry. And then the new witch will demand where is the 2 carat solitaire ring that I was wearing in my last days, will endlessly search for the ring and they will fight on it for rest of their lives. And my soul will truly rest in peace.”

And guess what, she recovered and they continued to fight with each other for rest of their lives. 😀

This is also a first time thing after Fasih’s passing.
I was the one who got the phone call of Fatima’s COVID positive and it seemed as the broken pieces of my world which I had painstakingly gathered after Fasih, were falling apart once again.
I absorbed the shock, took a deep breath and then walked over to Fatima feigning as if I was an iron woman, and told her,
“Your test is positive. My baby you don’t have to worry, we are all surrounded by doctors and reside over a hospital. You will brave through this.”
Nevertheless, as we all decided to isolate in our respective rooms, I missed Fasih dearly, for not being around to share the anxiety and nag him with silly rants like,
“Babloo I am so scared. I hope she will have mild symptoms only. Please tell me she will be okay.”
I even missed more getting back the reassuring reply, “Don’t worry, be strong. She will be fine InshaAllah.”
I messaged Fasih on his messenger, asking him, “Wherever you are Babloo, please pray for our girls.”
We are truly blessed to have the unflinching support of Abdullah’s parents.
Not only do they call their daughter in law, and grand daughter, every few hours, they continually call on me to be sure I am being strong.
After every word of gratitude to them, they remind me, “Bhabi we are one family. You needn’t be thankful.”
The sense of shared care is one of the most empowering and reassuring feelings on can experience.
I cannot also thank enough all the friends and family who called, messaged and expressed their duas for Fatima and Rahma.
We all are what we are because of the circle of care that surrounds us.
The Zulu phrase Ubuntu says it all in 5 small words: “I am because we are.”

Yesterday I was in the office when the receptionist informed me that there is a lady calling from Lahore and she is saying that she knows me from Saudi Arabia. I took her call and she turned out to be one of my nurses when I worked in the Saudi National Guards, Jeddah. She hadn’t been in touch since I left the place in 2008.
But somehow she heard of Fasih’s passing so she searched for me and it lead her to Taj’s phone number. I had always been close to my nursing staff who in Saudia were multinational. So also knew our family by references.
She expressed her deep condolences and said she was shaken and is still not able to believe it. I asked her how was she, her husband and the three boys doing? They must be grown up now?
She replied, “Dr. Ilmana i went through hell in past few years and am now in Lahore. But its okay. I will share my story some other time. Yours is still more tragic than mine.”
But then as it happens, after a few minutes she began to reveal her story.
She told that she had fallen very sick 3 years ago while still working in Jeddah. And barely survived.
But was so weak that she decided to quit her job and come to Lahore where all her 3 boys were now in University.
Her husband didn’t like it and told her, “Dont go. I cannot live without you.”
She said she was such an idiot that she thought he wanted her to be with him. And told him to make a trip to Lahore to settle the boys. He came to Lahore for 15 days.
In the meantime her resignation period got completed and she started living at home. When her husband returned, he was shocked that she had left her job.
He asked her “why did you leave the job?”
She said, “Because I am tired to working. I am unwell now. But since you dont want me to go to live with our children, I will live here and travel back and forth.”
He got more furious, “So now you will depend on me financially?”
And he gave her a divorce-Talaq, talaq, talaq.
She cried but he said, by staying here meant working here. Otherwise he will have nothing to do with her.
So a week later she came back to Lahore to her sons. All the savings that they had done as a couple via a joint account and investment in land etc were in his name, and he refused to give a penny.
Her gratuity from her job in National Guard also came in their joint account. So she was deprived of that too.

Now since 3 years she is living with her sons, and the father is not even paying for their education. And he sends her vicious messages whenever the boys try to call him to ask for financial help. They are working and studying themselves.

I was shocked to hear her story. I told her that her story was more tragic than mine. I have the pain of a loss, but I do not have the hurt of betrayal both emotional and material.
She agreed it feels as if in her past 22 years of married life, she was in a fraudulent relationship tied to her income.

The images of this nurse and her kids have been haunting my head since yesterday.

What a pathetic world we live in… Is money everything for some people?

Addendum: Just found this appropriate quote related to the story.

Friday, 30 October, 2020
Dear Babloo,
Its Friday again.
And again I was there by your side at the grave, at the fateful time of 1:30 pm.
I shared a joke with your sister and her husband while at your side….that you would often tell me, ‘I was always lucky to get good and interested parosans but I still chose to get a partner from a thousand mile away.”.

Nadeem bhai noted and read names of the two parosans on either side of you.
I hope they are being good to you and but not too nosy.
But its okay even if they are. I hope you tell them only good things about me and not those fights and tantrums that are inevitable part of the life of any happy couple. I can bet you, none of these parosans can make better bihari kababs and cheesecakes than I do. Hey, don’t you try to share my recipes with these ‘interested’ parosans.
I haven’t cooked any of these since you’ve gone, anyways.

Ignore them if they watch Indian dramas, which I think they must be as they are from Karachi. You don’t watch any episode okay? Because they can be addicting.
Oops, I am just kidding. I just want you to be happy and not miss us and Taj, my dear, even if that means watching Indian soaps.

But on a serious note, better still if you stay close to your Amma, Abba and my Papa. That will be a better intellectual company. Your Papa and you can discuss the recent advances in Pulmonology, and even about the second wave of COVID, while my Papa can teach you better Urdu and update you about what’s latest in Trump Biden elections.
And at dinner time you can all sit together and have the musallams and qormas your Amma makes.
And I am sure you must be sharing your Ammas cooking with your neighbors.
Its okay. But no, don’t share my recipes. Just tell them my wife made world’s most delicious cheesecake, like you told people here. Let them feel inadequate without those recipes.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry?
But I was glad I had a stronger heart today to joke about you to Nadeem bhai and Kosar Baji.

I am sure you must be the most loved and sought after person up there too. Should I feel left out and jealous by imagining that?
I am not sure.
One part of me says I miss you, the other part wants to be selfless and imagine you are in such a happy place.

Jokes aside, I want you to know that your staff misses you a lot. They all miss your presence in every meeting and happy occasion. They remember how you took your bossy garb off in such fun events, and became one of them, only to come back next morning roaring like a dangerous boss.
One of your staff who got the most scolding, I had a private talk with her one day.
I asked her “I hope you have no bad feelings towards Fasih?”
She started crying and told me, “Mam his scoldings have changed me into a better and serious person.
Today I have a good career only because of him. How can I have any negative feelings for him.”

So many people come or call every day to tell me how much you impacted their lives.
They all pray for your highest place in the heavens. I am sure with so many blessings and prayers, you must be in a wonderful place far beyond our imagination.
It gives me peace to imagine you are happier and at a more blessed than you were here.

And yes, I was just kidding. I am not envious of any good parosans you have.
You can even share my bihari kabab and cheese cake recipes.
I won’t be petty. But haan, do tell them, “my wife has a big heart. This is HER RECIPE. And she is not petty not to share them”. Do put in a good word for me.
These wimmens I know will still not be able to make the kababs and cakes as delicious as mine. 😃
Love you,

The Epitome of Needlework

First time I noticed Bakhtawer Bhutto Zardari closely and felt warm about her was when I saw her engagement pictures with Mahmood Choudhary, recently, and my eyes got stuck at the shawl she was wrapped in. Let me be honest, before that she was just a middle child of super rich parents born with a golden spoon and who wasn’t even keen in joining politics too.

Thanks to the smart phone technology, I zoomed in as close as I could, from my Samsung phone to view the intricate micro-details of every single motif big or small. As all those who are keen aficionados of hand embroidery would have already read the symbolic significance of the design, I won’t repeat that.

My favourite was the motif where a sunglasses clad Bakhtawer is looking into the mirror, and the second are a dancer and musicians scene in another section of the shawl. The border in black with light floral embroidery completes the design very aesthetically.

I ased Fatima, my painter daughter, “Did you notice her shawl?
She retorted instantaneously, “Ofcourse, did you expect me to miss it? Its made by Nida Azwer who is famous for such intricate embroidered shawls.”
Having a daughter-friend who shares same fancy bordering on addiction, for hand embroidery and desi handicrafts is such a blessing. Hopefully Rahma, Fatima’s one year old, will grow up to join the club too, one day.

IMHO for those who can afford, instead of investing in gaudy gold jewelry or ridiculously expensive and blingy- overdone wedding dresses appropriate for one time use, such handcrafted heirloom pieces which are worthy of being passed on to several generations down ones lineage, is worth all the investment.

Here are the details I could zoom in of the few pictures shared on social media. I can clearly spend a day with this piece, and drool over its detailed motifs, dissecting in imagination he stitches used, and dream to attempt to plagiarize at least one motif with my amateur needle work skills. Just to satisfy my ego.

Ladies claim your lives too !

The story of Gurdeepak Kaur is a story that should inspire all women who are strong and capable of being emotionally and intellectually independent, but simply don’t think it that way.
South Asian women despite being educated, professionals and even financially independent somehow still happen to fail when it comes to being thinkers and do-ers independent of their husbands. Tagging along to their whiny husband and following his choices rather than both following their own. It is not a rocket science to honor each other’s likes or even give space to each other and pursuing independent activities including travel.

I have seen my White and Black lady friends travelling with ‘girl friends’ to far off destinations, but one hardly finds desi women who are willing to travel with girl friends. It has to be a family affair, which is certainly a beautiful idea. But if the husband is not a keen traveller, or busier and does not have time, why can’t women travel as a group or solo?

A decade ago, a cousin of my husband told me she was fond of camping in the jungles and other sites, while her husband was not. Each time she took him, he would end up spoiling his mood and that of his wife. So this cousin remarked, “I stopped asking XYZ( husband’s name) to come along with me to the camping. He got upset again, “So you will go without me?”
Her: “You do not like camping. But I do. So we have two choices: Either you enjoy going together or I go alone with my friends.”
With a lot of whining, he agreed he will prefer to not go rather than not whine on a trip he doesn’t like.
So after an initial bitterness, he ultimately got used to his wife enjoying her camping time and coming home happy, rather than them fighting on the way.
This story struck a cord with me. My bucket list and Fasih’s were different. So we also sat down and asked if we wanted to do like the cousin or just enjoy each other’s interests. Luckily Fasih and I agreed that we will happily take tours without whining.
Both of us were road riders, and loved driving. So we took turns to drive. While going to Key West, my interest was to see the Earnest Hemingway home and spend a few hours there, while Fasih preferred to stay at the beach.
Similarly Fasih wanted to go to Las Vegas, while I had no interest in seeing replica Malls or gambling slots. And instead would prefer to go to Grand Canyons nearby. So we combined both in a trip and we both accompanied each other’s places of interest. Another on my bucket list was to watch the Cirque De Soleil theatre presentation “O” in Vegas, which Fasih was not keen on. But when we watched it from the first row, in the middle, he ended up loving it too, and was glad I pushed him to watch it. Sometimes, experiences with open mind make us learn a lot.
We had become great travel buddies, but even then there were certain interests which did not intersect. And in those areas, we preferred to give each other space. I never forced my husband to tag along with me to a dosa shop, and when he wanted to eat Sajji or Butt Karahi, I told him, I will prefer to stay home with a my coffee and laptop, as he went out with friends or family.
Desi women take it for granted that they have to give space to their husbands to let them enjoy their interests like sports, but they are given little or no space for stuff that interests them. Women also need to realize they have their own lives too, beyond their Zee or Hum TV Soap Serials at home or beyond kitty parties outside their homes.
The secret is that men treat well the women who are emotionally, intellectually and financially independent. So it is a Win-Win situation and one just has to step out of one’s self imposed Laxman rekha to experience that liberation first hand.

With this rant in the background, do carefully listen to this beautiful story of Gurdeepak Kaur in her own words. Another thing, age is just a number. Nothing can reaffirm than this story of a septuagenarian woman. Hats off to Gurdeepak Kaur and her adventurous spirit.

Friday again.

Sometimes even I am surprised at my capacity to endure Fasih’s loss without throwing tantrums. But then, the one who patiently endured my whining has quietly himself slipped away from the scene.

Culturally we are a community that believes in demonstrating our pains and pleasures loudly. But if the pain is beyond one’s capacity to bear, one loses the energy to express it aloud.

Many people who have met me in person, have remarked on my composure in the midst of all the turmoil of loss and relocation. If only I could bare open the 4 chambers of my heart, in some physical form to show it’s not all hunky-dory within.
True, breakdowns have been few and getting even fewer, but it certainly is no measure of one’s intensity of pain. Probably it only represents extreme helplessness.

Let me admit, composure with self is a byproduct of extreme helplessness. Composure with near & dear ones is pure love.
Composure with the rest is because the pain is too personal to broadcast aloud.

This time visiting Fasih, I smiled and whispered to him, “It’s okay Babloo, all I wish is that you are in peace and utmost happiness in the hereafter. I will not whine by your grave.”
It’s funny, how just saying that I wont whine or annoy him anymore made me cry. 🙂

mayn ne hansne kii aziyyat jhel lii royaa nahiin
yeh saleeqa bhii koii aasaan jeeney kaa naa tha

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