Why I miss Lahore

I have spent all my life in Karachi but everytime I visit Lahore , the city of my birth, I always feel more at home there than in Karachi . This is to praise Lahore rather than undermine Karachi .

I miss its people , their friendliness , their humor , the beauty , the intellect , the meaningful conversations , hundreds of bookstalls in anarkali on footpaths , its winters , the punjabi , the ease . I miss the greenery , the fresh smell of the soil along the neher waali road , the super meetha paani and the big houses  . Even my dead hair start showing signs of life in Lahore .

I miss the dhools , the average socially awkward lahori , the passionate nashta waalas who have become billionaires just by selling nashtas and still come to the shops in the banyans and dhootis .

The educated class there actually looks and feels classy , the way people talk sounds so original .

Did I mention the nankhatais , the sufi shrines , the laddu peethian , calls of wanday di cheez in the streets ? And my oh my the kite flying ( although banned these days ) the energy , the positive vibes , the bhai chaara and the izzat o ehtaram people have for each other there . There is so much more but Lahore doesnt need someone like me to elaborate its magnificence

Rightly called the cultural capital of Pakistan and once the Paris of Asia

On being original and the urgent need for meritocracy in our society

Our society is rapidly disintegrating into a web of mediocrity . We don’t want to work hard any more rather find quick fixes to the problem . Even those who worked hard previously are not motivated any more by looking at how this society rewards the person with the most power , privileged family or most money instead of the person with the most merit .

This is what I stand against .

We have become extremely superficial and fake and I find that extremely disgusting ! We copy everything from either the west or India . Our favourite comedy show is comedy nights with kapil and our role models are shahrukh khan or amitabh bachan . This is an extremely sad state our people are in . We are slowly disintegrating into a lower level of human beings !

Fake is not attractive and mediocrity is ugly .

Look at our leaders and thinkers of the past . Why cant we be inspired from them ? Why cant we talk about iqbal ,  faiz or mushtaq ahmed yousafi more often ? Why don’t we listen to Zia Moheyddin or read Ashfaq Ahmed anymore ? Do most of us even know these names ? I’m afraid we don’t .

I was so sad to find out that there was no extra supplement in the newspaper on Iqbal this Iqbal day . We learned from those papers and our parents . Who is going to teach the kids these days who Iqbal was ? Who has the time in this fast paced society ?

I have always liked to be original . I have never followed the herd . For this I have often been a victim of harsh criticism and dislike . But that’s just the way I was brought up .

There is an urgent need to be more original . Original doesn’t have to be boring . We just need to raise our standards where we appreciate mushtaq ahmeds humour more than kapils humour . We need to create a society where iqbal bano is not boring and where the role models are quaid e azam and liaquat ali khan . A society where following the Quran in its true spirit is the norm and the right way to go about things .  A society where merit is immensely rewarded and mediocrity is looked down upon .

We need to be confident enough to wear traditional dresses on days other than Friday . We need to be proud of our past , realize that the present is indeed not good and that we need to work for it , and if we do , we can create a promising tomorrow . Lets begin from ourselves and the rest will follow .

Lets do it !

The psychiatry ward

I am posted in the psychiatry ward these days . The ward is interesting enough to warrant a blog post

Day 1 :

First day and we were introduced to the house officers and residents .. The ward round was quite interesting . There were people suffering from severe depression . Also people recovering from relationship issues . A young boy had tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrist . He looked better though . The scars were healing – the ones visible as well as the ones not visible . Then there was a man who was extremely heart broken from financial loss in business . He looked ok . He said he felt better .  A man hadn’t gone out of his house for one whole year . Again , depression .  In the female ward there was this girl who talked about going home . We could not take her history properly and moved on .

Day 2 :

Posted in the opd . An interesting case where a young girl about 14 to 15 years old complained of sudden blackouts  . She felt her mother did not love her as much as her elder daughter . She did not trust her mother and was losing friends . Then there were few patients who had anger management issues .

Day 3 :

The highlight of the day was the ward round . Finally got to meet the female patient from  day 1 whose history we could not take . An extremely interesting case . She had hallucinations . Visible , audible …and sexual . She believed that her father had assaulted her in the past and she had vivid memories of the experience as she believed she was always intoxicated first . Detailed discussion of the case followed . And later a detailed history in the presence of our supervisor . Interestingly she wanted to go back home , the same place where she believes she had been assaulted . Which indicates that what she believed to be true was not true .  She blamed a witch for the whole incident . Also blamed the father . She was confused . According to the supervisor she was suffering from the Electra complex where a girl is in competition with her mother for the possession of the father . But was definitely unaware herself and therefore blaming the witch and the father . Here is a link for the Electra complex : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electra_complex

Day 4 :

A schizophrenic patient comes to the opd . Thinks the agencies were after him . Nobody understands him according to him and that he wished his family was a bit more educated so they could understand what he was talking about . Made some references to extra terrestrials and his ability to communicate with them . On asking the details he was lost . Had this sense of grandeur . Said he could talk to the Chinese ( implied via brain ) . Also said the Chinese had given him a 2 year visa . He complained that If the Chinese knew his worth who is the family to say something is wrong with him !

And then there was another interesting young boy with a history of substance abuse . He was 20 years old and badly addicted to gutka . He now wanted to be admitted in the ward by choice so he could stay away from it . The reason he wanted to leave was his girlfriend ! We refused to admit him but prescribed a few medicines to help him taper the amount of drug and eventually quit

Day 7 :

An 18 year old female patient was in the ward tied to the bed . She came with a history of  hysteria . She was laughing uncontrollably , was verbally abusive and making no sense whatsoever . She has been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder combined with psychosis . Her mother tells us that she was absolutely normal when she went to meet her friend on eid day 4 . She has been like this since then . The family thinks its something supernatural or paranormal . I asked the girl if she prayed or wanted to pray . She replied with a very straight stare into my eyes “bohot lay liia tum logon nay Allah ka naam ..main ab aag dekh rahi hun”  Insane or not , this gave me goosebumps  .

Day 8 : Saw a young patient with anger management issues . He had very low tolerance for things he did not like . He could not take jokes . And fought very often . He has been like this since 2 years now , when his brother passed away . Most probably agitated due to depression .

A woman married for 30 years came with the complain of an unsatisfactory marriage. The husband did something that broke her heart . She just wanted to talk about it . It appeared as if she required a councellor more than a psychiatrist .

A young girl came with a history of fits since 2 months . She also had one incident of audible hallucinations about 6 months back . During the history she suffered another attack where she moved uncontrollably . Treated like a princess at home , there are no responsibilities on her. The attacks are most likely convulsions . Convulsion is a method the brain uses to let other people know that something is not right . It usually happens when the person is unable to convey his or her feelings to other people . It leaves the brain with no other option but to carry out such attacks to seek attention .

Day 9 : The first thing i did today was  go to the ward and see how the hysterical girl from day 7 was doing . Unfortunately the family had taken her back home . They had never really believed that medical treatment was the answer .

It was a slow day otherwise . We were posted in the child clinic today . A father came with 2 of his 8 children , both suffering from a form of mental disorder . The boy , 12 years old had a history of being physically beaten at home . He now did the same with other kids . He was very defensive and shy . He did not open up at all during the session . His father told us that the boy had become extremely stubborn and angry over the last few months . He was advised to get an iq check up done for the kid .

The girl , 9 yrs,  on the other hand suffered from a somatoform disorder . She came with a history of excessive vomiting and nausea . The fact that the father came without the mother , the untidy condition of the children and a history of abuse at home suggests the environment at home is probably the main culprit behind the children’s condition .

More updates as the ward continues

A walk through heritage


I am glad something like this happening in our country .

Originally posted on Lahore Nama:

This article was originally published in The News on Sunday

Haroon Akram Gill

A walk through heritageAround 600 photographers from all over Pakistan and other countries i.e. Philippines, Bulgaria, Belgium, UK, USA, and Germany participated in the Walk. — Photos by the author

The Walled City is home to the cultural and architectural heritage of Lahore. Its blind arches and the pillars of its buildings, elegant havelis, multi-storey houses, wooden doors and windows and, above all, its famous Gates are some of the old city’s glorious features, all of which have long fascinated the tourists, especially those coming from outside the city/country. Though, terrorist incidents badly hit the tourism industry over the years, the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) is trying hard to pull the tourists back in, by organising cultural activities; ‘Photo Tourism Walk’ being one such event.

The WCLA claims to have introduced the concept of photo tourism by holding…

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Me, Muharram and why I dont like the word ‘Moderate’

Originally posted on The Selfie Writer:

I don’t like the word ‘moderate’.

Imagine this. The love of your life gets down on your knees and promises to -through good times and bad- love you ‘moderately’. At your annual appraisal your boss says you remained ‘moderate’ in your performance during the year. The cards your children make in school for Mothers Day read ‘Thank you for being a moderate mummy’. Your friends come to your home, before the paint on your burgundy coloured feature wall has dried, and say you have new house is pleasingly ‘moderate’. Your friends read your blog and say its  ‘moderate’ (hypothetically speaking of course).

I don’t like the word ‘moderate’. And I don’t like being called a ‘moderate’ Muslim.

‘Moderate’ seems to suggest that I am tepid in my faith- uncertain, tentative, non-committal. Most importantly, it defines my faith in terms of the ‘extremes’, a handy short form for ‘Hey it really really…

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The verse

I am not a very religious person but at times I like to believe that I am close to God. Maybe the thought is the creation of my own mind to satisfy me or maybe it is indeed true I do not know . All I know is that Allah swt has always been there for me ,as He has been for all humans on earth . Whenever I am looking for answers that I do not have , He does not let me stay in a confused state for long .

Hazrat Ali ra said ” Whenever I want to talk to Allah,I pray and whenever I want to listen to what Allah has to say to me,then I read the Quran ” And Allah knows best.

It has often been the case that when I am pondering over things I find the answer in the Holy Quran . I usually come across ayats that fit as the solution to my problem .

So recently I started pondering over the issue of different sects in Islam . I started pondering how can people from one sect say that they are on the right path whereas rest are not . Ths pondering led to frustration and ultimately anger . I was angry how could we mess up our religion so badly that even following Quran and Sunnah was not enough for some people and that you had to be part of a sect – and that too the “right sect” to become a Muslim of the purest nature .

I didn’t want to be a second class Muslim . I too thought that I was on the right path and wanted to be a Muslim of the “purest form” .

Hence , I did a little research . I searched the internet . I learned about the basic teachings of Shia Islam and Sunni Islam . Also read a little about other sects . I read blogs , articles , used twitter to find religious people from different sects . However this added to more frustration and headache . In some articles there was hatred for others . And few were very complicated for my mind to grasp properly .

I am not too religious at this point in life , however , I still am very God fearing . The thought of being wrong scares me like anything . I have always prayed to Allah to show me the right path . Even if I did not , this prayer is a prayer by default  in Namaz in the form of Surah Fatiha

Nothing seemed to help . I gave up and thought that this might be a test . So in a frustrated state I prayed isha , prayed to God to show me the right path and prepared to sleep .

Many times the last thing I do before I go to sleep is read 2 to 3 pages of the quran wih translation and try to think over it and remember it . It is usually in these lessons that I have found relief many times in the past . The surah was surah anam and the verses were one of the last few from the surah.

I don’t like to believe that things happen as a coincidence . I like to believe that everything has order . Every person we meet is destined to teach us something . In every illness , success , hardship there is some lesson to be learned only if we ponder a little . So I like to believe that the following ayat that I came across that night in my lesson was no coincidence either . .

Here it is : 6_159

Translation : “Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects – you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do.”

Quranic ayats are open to interpretation . The miracle of the quran is that it has been sent for all times . Always relevant . And each ayat can have several meanings.

The meaning I took from the ayat strengthened my belief in the way I was brought up and what I had always advocated ; a strong and united Muslim nation .

The process of learning is indeed long and continues throughout life. People have a right to believe in what they think is right as long as it does not invade anyones personal space .

The way the countries in the Mideast are disintegrating , partly because of the issue of different sects created by mischief mongers , I think we (Pakistanis) have to open up to the the idea of talking about these issues openly in a healthy and friendly manner . Talking about these issues will make us comfortable about our differences and therefore prevent any outsiders to create differences between us .

May Allah guide us all . Ameen