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What Interests Me?

It’s a typical April morning in Lahore, a pleasant spring breeze is blowing in the plain and the sun is shining brightly. Temperature will gradually rise as the day matures, but it feels quite good at this hour. It is pretty quiet in the house since it’s a Saturday which is primarily a weekend for all of us, except for occasional meetings, visits and events that is. The only two members who are wide awake are my father and myself. The head of the family is occupied, reading his favourite Urdu daily. I already know what the breakfast announcement would be today:  petroleum tariffs are being hiked. That’s the front page story for the day. Here I am, picturing the scene for you from the dimly lit living room of my house, with earphones plugged in and a nice mug of coffee that I made for myself. Presently the track “Paar Chaana De” by Noori and Shilpa Rao from the 9th season of Coke Studio is being played. Footsteps! Mother is awake as well, great!

Saturday Morning

I was surfing through various blogs on the internet yesterday and came across one where a youth from Australia has written about the thing she likes to do and what interests her. It was pleasant to know that she is interested in the sport of cricket and enjoys her athletics. She had enlisted about ten to twelve things of her liking and it was certainly a fun read. Her blog gave me an idea and I thought of making my own list in my next blog post which happens to be this one. I am not sure if I can manage a list like hers, but I can surely talk about my likings and interest.

Societies and Cultures

I am very interested in people and their ways of life influenced by the various social systems and cultural rites. It is always fascinating to learn about a new custom prevalent in the region miles away from my own. I have grown up watching a lot of National Geographic and have developed a habit to read from various people about their societies and cultures on the internet, I fancy interacting with them and learning from them about them. Similar to customs and traditions, I am interested in languages, all of them. I can learn and wish to learn as many as possible. I am a multilingual with command over Urdu, English, Hindi and Lahori dialect of the Punjabi language. I know some very general phrases and words from Sindhi, Pashto, Marathi, Bengali, French, Spanish and Japanese. I believe that basic etiquette is to express gratitude to everyone when they serve us, help and be courteous to us and so, “thank you” is the first word that I try to learn in any language when I meet a native. I can say “thank you” in twenty four languages and greet “hello” in fifteen different languages. I am willing to learn a new word, a new phrase and a new language altogether as long as one is willing to teach me.

History

It would be an exaggerated statement if I claimed that I know a lot, but I am very interested in history. I read whenever I have enough time, on the internet and the books available to me. I started reading on the Czarist Russia only this morning and I feel like I am pretty dumb and know nothing at all. Well, I’m certainly not taking that to heart because it’s better late than never to start and there is always something that someone doesn’t know… or I am being too kind to myself? In any case, I have embarked on the journey to learn about the time that has past and will continue on my path even if sluggishly.

Cricket

If I had some talent, I would have been a cricketer. I simply love the sport. I have grown up in a cricket crazy environment and developed interest in the game. Last week, on March 25, we celebrated the silver jubilee of Pakistan’s glorious world cup victory in 1992. It was an extravaganza, there were special transmissions and the match recordings from twenty five years ago were televised, “who rules the world?” started echoing at midnight and much more. We have won the 2009 world championship title in the shortest format of the game and were the worlds best the longest format for a brief period during 2016. Pakistan Cricket Team is known for its unpredictability, sheer natural talent and flamboyancy; the sport is simply not itself without the Pakistani flavour. Despite our inconsistency on the international level, the sport is followed like a religion in the country and I am certainly one such follower… it’s in the blood you see.

Music

I have a very peculiar taste in music; to make a confession, I like melodies which have a message to convey. A beautiful tune complimented by meaningful lyrics is what I prefer. Sufi music has its own charm for me and I do have a strong liking for a few hymns and kalaams. Perhaps, the taste has been developed because of interest in poetry and literature. The only person who shares a similar playlist in my circle is perhaps my best friend. Our music preferences are very similar and we do sing even if we shouldn’t. Gives a silly smile.

Military and Mystery

I love to watch animated series and military and mystery are my favourite genres. I love the ranks, discipline, organisation, strategic brilliance and fighting arts and everything else about militaries. I confess that I am yet to read from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but I enjoy mystery and detective series based on Sherlock like intelligence and deductive logic the most.

Uh, I think that’s pretty much it for now. I don’t know what else I can tell you about myself. This is all I could think of since yesterday. I should get going for the breakfast… yes, I love my food, and I’m a foodie because I’m a Lahori you see.

This will be posted after I finish my meal… Saturday morning meals are fun. Do share your interests.

Happy blogging!

Why Facts And Commentary?

Spring is blooming in Lahore, the season that we associate with new beginnings, when the colours of life fly across the vast sky and engulf the City Of Life. As the month of Chet is already nine days old and March is nearing its end, the colours of Holi have already been spread and the lamps of Mela Charaghan are soon to be lit, the rare sight of the Basant kites has also been witnessed by my city and so, I have decided to let my words bud into blossoms as well, cherry or peach, it is for you to discern.

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Waving my greetings to everyone, I am Zahra – the voice of Facts And Commentary. I have commented on this before; however, now that I have decided to fly again, this blog is a commentary of an observer upon the various facts… facts which are merely experiences that I tend to collect or perhaps, the philosophy called life. I chose to blog because interacting with people from diversified backgrounds and with varied outlooks is how I learn. I am usually not the one to break the ice and initiate conversations despite having some good communication skills nor am I the one to cage my ideas. One of teachers, a figure with much influence of me, is of the idea that we should indulge in an open exchange of ideals and thoughts in order to broaden our horizons and grow. I tend to agree with her. I usually converse with only a few people in a face-to-face exchange, freely, but I can convey much through writing. I can be quite evidential and statistical in my commentaries, but I can be quite animated in my casual elaborations too.  I fancy endeavours in poetry, if that is poetry at all, and I can play caption-the-picture to cultivate stories. I am a strange kind of a writer, perhaps, because I am myself and under my own shadows when I write, but that is precisely what compels me to write… to give words to my own thoughts. The reason to write is to learn and for the reason that it comes naturally; all I require is a mental space to write, a physical space has never been a need when I wish to write.

While my status is a subject to controversy and debate, I make yet another return; however, this time round it is in spring! It would be a pleasant to explore the reasons why you all write. Smiles.

Until next time, Happy Blogging!

 

 

 

The Oblivion

Living in a delusion is fancied by the man of today, the today when time is merely spent not lived by humans. His reality today is the delusion that fabricate the reality of life, a lie with remarkable likeness with te truth! Did he know his reality, he could distinguish compassion from servitude, humanity from vanity, pride from narcissism, avarice from altruism, peace from stagnation… his oblivion is his reality today! 

The First Attempt

Life plays its best card when you expect the least. If I state of my forgetfulness towards the experience of being a first timer at something, I wouldn’t be lying. I have been doing what I have been doing for quite a long while now, everything. Intervals might have come in between but I hadn’t made my first attempt anything until this very week. I had forgotten if nervousness could make one’s heart beat a little faster, anxiety make her look at her own composition thirty times in an hour or if she would wander of making a good fool out of herself in front of everyone. A much needed reminder is what I got this week.

Upon being asked by the president of the university’s English Club and a fellow Student Council member who commended my writings, I ended up making a submission for the Spoken Word Poetry Competition. I had made my endeavours in poetry and so I submitted one of my pieces. Aimless Drifting. To my surprise, it was shortlisted for the top eight which were going to be recited at the competition. There came the harder, the first timer part of the contest. I had been on the stage too many times, enough to have forgotten the count, I had acted, spoken, hosted and voiced for silent mimic characters. I had made the morning announcements, presented shows on the radio and conducted interactive sessions too. However, the one thing I had never done until this week was reciting a poem. I wasn’t asked to read Wordsworth or Keats in front of the class which I have been doing since school, I was told to recite a piece of poetry that I composed myself, aloud and before a huge audience that turns out every university event. Top it all up, I was the last speaker for the day. After quite a long, some two years I felt the vibes of a first timer.

I wrote the poem on a piece of paper, read it countless times, altered my tones, adjusted my rhythm, made of speaking no word incorrectly for no matter what I do I would always be a non-native English speaker. I timed myself and then worked on tones, rhythm and pronunciations again. One of our faculty members who is the acting consultant to the English Club has taught me one of the courses in the sophomore year. I recited the poem before her, a teacher I share a good bond with. She approved of everything I was worried about. I questioned her on my number on the list of speakers. She told me that she wanted one of her best at the end. I told her that she was being too optimistic, I couldn’t match the literature students in their spoken word excellence. She shrugged me off and I returned to reading, reciting, practising for my first ever Spoken Word poetry Competition. I would lie if I speak of confidence in myself. I was nervous and anxious because I was a first timer and… I wasn’t a literature student.

Even if took out the batteries, only the needle on the clock would stop moving. Time would march forth and so it did. I didn’t take out the batteries, going by the logic – I’m an economics student, we put logic first. The event kicked off and the contestants made it to the podium, on after another while I listened to their refined voices syncing words in flawless rhythms. I was sitting in the green room, backstage with all the other participants, evaluating each speaker according to my own senses and understanding. I found them overwhelmingly stupendous. Time kept ticking over. Boom, it was my turn, the announcement was made. I marched my way from the green room, onto the stage and to the podium. Hall lights and the stage lights were switched off to create and ambiance, only the foot lights of the stage were lit, the crowds gave a welcome applause, the mics were settled and the projector was set to screen the background imagery I had provided. I looked at the audience once, took a deep breath and began to speak if not really recite the poem. Applause broke again once I finished, with a briskly beating heart throughout. We maintain the decorum of courtesy, we applaud. We had our faculty consultant, my teacher, recite her own composition, the principal and the jury making the speeches and recitations before the results were announced. The jury spoke with their poetic wisdom, I understood what they meant to say. The wait was over and our winners were announced, the most deserving of all had won their ranks. I was delightful that two of the top three ranks were given to my friends from the school of literature, those who deserved it. Merit matters, it matters as much as democracy does.

Appreciation is worth millions, it is an act of kindness I believe. I felt overjoyed on being recognised for the attempt I made. The words of kind appreciation spoken by the jury and the principal for all the first timers weren’t exclusively for me but they were for a first timer and that I was. It was more than heartening to hear that none of use read or sounded like a first timer. It was overwhelming to hear the Principal make a request for all the poems to be published in the coming year’s University Magazine, before the whole audience. The culmination of my first endeavour was sprightly and inspiring. I will always remember, as I remember much from all my first attempts in the past, the one hug that the club consultant had awarded me and that one appreciating pat on the back from another literature professor with the words, “It was great to see you on the podium today. Didn’t know our economics students were participating too.”

It is important to be a first timer, from time to time. They are needed to realize the importance of keep discovering one’s potentials, as important as a daybreak. I am thankful to the moment I responded positive to my fellow Student Council member, a good acquaintance.

 

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Three Word Story: The Lantern

Too many ideas spinning yet I can’t convince myself to write about anything. People would generally refer to it as the Writer’s Block. However, the case is quite different from my perspective. Writing is something very natural for me. It is a way of expressing my thoughts and opinions which I generally don’t voice. The name of this blog, Facts And Commentary, is very self-explanatory in this regard. I observe, contemplate and then make a comment through the medium called writing.  For the past two days I have made at least ten drafts on ten different thoughts but have failed to complete even one. A troublesome situation it is. I am doubtful of my own thoughts perhaps, and that’s not that problematic… I believe.

I decided on playing my favourite game, given the troublesome situation I am faced with. I have grown Fond of this kind of storytelling, I presume. I captioned the following picture for my Three Word Story:

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Three Word Story: Find Your Legend.

The story or the caption as it is, is inspired from Paulo Coelho’s classic, The Alchemist. I have read this book five times and wouldn’t mind a sixth read either. Each one of us has a personal legend of our own. Our lives have a purpose, we bear a destiny defined by the decision we make to cross the path to our fate. However, the personal legend needs to be sought if not through omens as in case of Santiago, through contemplations and interpretations of the patterns of our own nature. The path the self-discovery is never-ending; however, the journey must continue. I agree with Coelho when he says, “Everyone on Earth has a treasure that awaits him!” And that treasure is the realisation of his personal legend!

If I had to make one book recommendation to anyone, it would be” The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Eid Mubarik

Greetings to all on the asupicons occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, and smiles. 

Eid is the occasion to meet and greet everyone we usually don’t call on. I have been away from here, for long enough. And so, what better day to make a return than Eid? None! 

Eid Mubarik to everyone everywhere. May we all nurture the spirit of sacrifice and giving in ourselves. 

The Journey

Life is no bed of roses

Many challenges it poses

It is journey each one makes, arduous and long,

At the summit, begins the race when bangs the gong

Along his chosen path one begins to stride

With nothing but courage for the ride

Many cross his path, he befriends a few

Each gifts him with an understanding, all new

His road may be the route taken by many

Or perhaps a path never chosen by only the uncanny

He is none else’s shadow,

Unlike he finds in the meadow

He is blessed as are they

But never in the same way

It is nature’s law

None is without a flaw

None is without a quality

That’s nature’s generosity

His life is, this, his own

A unique flower of an ordinary seed sown

Through the woods, across the vale

Following the light, with the gale

He walks his chosen path, his destiny

Falls the water in magical symphony

Blossoms the morning glory

Whistles on the bank, the ivory

Tweets the humming bird, the melody,

Tells the world how he moves slow and steady

Hops by the little bunny

Tells all time is money

The cliff knows the tale of his tribulations,

It has seen the rainbow of his jubilations

Miles from the summit comes the traveler,

Wiser and stronger, now a battler

At the edge of the cliff, the vale looks greener

Above his head, the sky looks brighter

Wind fondles with his hair now so white

A feeble smile blooms, eyes so bright

His wrinkles testify his endeavours

Hair that speak of the trials

For his wins, he now smiles

Acceptance sparkles in his eyes

All regrets, it certainly defies

Writes the book, the last leaf

Acceptance heals all the grief

For the forgone, a reward is must

Because only the Almighty is Just!

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