Monday, 22 July 2013

Book Excerpts: The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

Sharing some words from a beautiful book, The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak:

Sufi Dervaish Elif Shafak The Forty Rules of Love
"Even God recognized the need for someone like me in His holy scheme when He appointed Azrael the Archangel of Death to terminate lives. In this way human beings feared, cursed, and hated the angel while His hands remained clean and His name unblemished. It wasn’t fair to the angel. But then again, this world was not known for its justice, was it?"

> Most of the problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings. Don’t ever take words at face value.

> Friday is the best day of the week to beg, except when it is Ramadan, in which case the whole month is quite lucrative. The last day of Ramadan is by far the best time to make money. That is when even the hopeless penny-pinchers race to give alms, keen to compensate for all their sins, past and present. Once a year, people don’t turn away from beggars. To the contrary, they specifically look for one, the more miserable the better. So profound is their need to show off how generous and charitable they are, not only do they race to give us alms, but for that single day they almost love us.

> Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?

> Some people feed on the miseries of others and they don’t like it when there is one less miserable person on the face of the earth.

> “You dervishes are as crazy as rats in a pantry. Especially you wandering types. All day long you fast and pray and walk under the scorching sun. No wonder you start hallucinating - your brain is fried!” I smiled. He could be right. They say there is a thin line between losing yourself in God and losing your mind.

> "What is the point of roaming the world when it’s the same misery everywhere? Trust me. There is nothing new out there. I have customers from the farthest corners of the world. After a few drinks, I hear the same stories from them all. Men are the same everywhere. Same food, same water, same old crap.”

> “Don’t judge the way other people connect to God. To each his own way and his own prayer. God does not take us at our word. He looks deep into our hearts. It is not the ceremonies or rituals that make a difference, but whether our hearts are sufficiently pure or not.”

> “God created suffering so that joy might appear through its opposite. Things become manifest through opposites. Since God has no opposite, He remains hidden."

> "Whatever happens, do not forget, nothing God has created is in vain, whether wrath or forbearance, honesty or guile."

> “Everybody has a name. God has countless names. Of those, only ninety-nine are known to us. If God has so many names, how can a human being who is the very reflection of Him go around without a name?”

> "We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespect in differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.”

> "One does not become a believer overnight. He thinks he is a believer; then something happens in his life and he becomes an unbeliever; after that, he becomes a believer again, and then an unbeliever again, and so on. Until we reach a certain stage, we constantly waver. This is the only way forward. At each new step, we come closer to the Truth.”

> "When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine bibber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearances. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed and instead opens a third eye - the eye that sees the inner realm.”

Internet Sources:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Proteins: The Building Blocks of Life

Ever wondered what the largest and heaviest land mammal on earth feeds on? Well, amazingly, the largest and heaviest land mammal on earth is vegetarian!
Protein rich foods building blocks of life

Many amongst us believe that for size and strength consuming animal protein is a must. Hence, people commonly stress on consuming meat and dairy products for protein enrichment. However, the mighty elephant is big and strong without any animal protein intake even.

Proteins are the building blocks of life. They are necessary for cell growth and repair as they form major structural components of cells and tissues. Additionally, they contribute largely towards the proper functioning of the human body by working as hormones, enzymes, antibodies, transport entities, movement aides, virus attackers, gene controllers, oxygen carriers, and so on. In fact, after water, proteins are the second most demanded nutrient by the body.

In essence, proteins are made of chains of amino acids. Amino acids contain nitrogen in addition to carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. The latter elements constitute carbohydrates and fats with different chemical formulae combinations. Twenty amino acids are required for healthy functioning of the human body. While most of these building blocks can be astonishingly synthesised within the body, some of the essential amino acids need to be acquired from external food resources.

The need for essential amino acids can be fulfilled from both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources. Though foods such as milk and meat are high in protein-content, it has been reported that several vegetables have sufficient proteins to comfortably satisfy the recommended levels of protein intake required by the body to supply the desired amino acids.

Amazingly as well, people often take up high-protein diets to discard the excess weight baggage from their bodies. As they shift their attention from consuming carbohydrates and fats towards incorporating more proteins in their daily diet plans, the excessive focus on proteins helps in building muscle tissue and reducing the undesired layers of fat. In this way, proteins also adequately meet the body's energy requirements, and simultaneously take care of the maintenance of cells and tissues and proper functioning of important bodily processes.

"Living Raw, Living Well". Published on January 23, 2013. Accessed on July 18, 2013 from <>
Fred Kummerow, "Protein: Building Blocks of the Body". Published on October 4, 2011. Accessed on July 18, 2013 from <>

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Superstitions Unveiled

Tuesday days of the weekMy grandmother's weird hunches about associating certain things as peculiar is fascinating. She feels spooky with red colour. She once asked me to wrap myself around to conceal the red colouration of my clothes. I thought her fancy superstition was a one timer. However, in the next encounter, she asked my husband to avoid being prominent in public with the red T-shirt as she felt bad vibes in relation to the same. Likewise, Tuesdays are a dreaded affair for her. She would try to avoid undertaking any venture on a Tuesday.

Numbers are a worrisome story as well. 13 is the typically dreaded number. If someone is travelling on a Tuesday or a 13th, she would insist to change the travel plans. If the two coincide, it would be the height of intimidation. Gladly, the fears associated with the Western 'Friday the 13th concept' are mitigated by the contrary Islamic religious element that reveres Friday. Consequently, Fridays are treated to be more safe and less scary. In fact new dresses, new perfumes and new ventures are usually inaugurated on Fridays.

I also tend to be superstitious at times. Breaking of a glass gives me the creeps. Spooky stories of a mysterious crack in a mirror makes me feel eerie. In the past, odd numbers - particularly the number 13 - played their enigmatic effect. While changing the volume of the television remote, I used to scuff along the number chain to get even results and safely miss 13. Ironically, now odd numbers including 13 have become a fancy preference in some odd ways. Likewise, 7 feels to be lucky. I keep drawing 7 from mathematical operations on the various digit combinations that I keep coming across.

So superstitions seem to be weird beliefs that one tends to develop along with time. They may change and turn topsy turvy or strengthen on their own accord.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Causes of Terrorism in Pakistan

Terrorism in Pakistan
Once a peaceful and safe country, Pakistan has sadly become an intimidating land of disasters. Last week, a terrible blast explosion occurred in Lahore's popular and traditional Food Street in Anarkali that cost 3 precious lives and left several seriously injured. In another incident about a month ago, 8 foreign tourists were shot dead in the northern areas of Pakistan.

The terrifying terrorism stream in Pakistan can be attributed to certain reasons. These include explosive population growth, poverty, unemployment, Islamic religious schools, and a lack of vocational training institutes in the country. Let me explain how.

Population keeps on increasing year by year. Being a developing country with a large proportion of people living below the poverty line, the availability of basic resources is limited and insufficient to meet the needs of the existing population even. The situation becomes more precarious when human numbers keep on adding unchecked. In the midst of Islamic religious arguments, people do not allow for the use of family planning techniques. Many also believe that children are the poor man's only assets. Further, several families wish to have sons disregarding daughters for being burdensome.

A consequence of the rampant population growth is an increase in poverty. Poverty makes it challenging to acquire even the basic resources that are needed to sustain life. This is coupled with unemployment which aggravates the inability to support a family. Here, frustration and depression set in. These keep on escalating till they are eventually released through anger. Enraged with the sheer helplessness of not being able to support their families, people envy the privileged populace who are merrily enjoying their lives. Consequently, some of them decide to create havoc through terrorism to disallow fellow humans from being happy, taking a heavy toll on humanity.

Under the banner of Islam, people who cannot afford to feed their children often send them off to madrassahs (Islamic religious schools). Some people also send their children to madrassahs for religious enlightenment. However, some of these religious schools impart dangerous education about an austere and rigid form of Islam. Students may be brainwashed and convinced to believe false beliefs such as the killing of non-believers is justified in Islam. Some may provoke their students to engage in Jihad (Holy War) with a twisted explanation of the same. Madrassahs are often funded by people who hope to contribute towards a good cause but in fact are sponsoring terrorists.

Lack of vocational training institutes in Pakistan is also indirectly breeding terrorists. A hefty proportion of youth of the country is sitting idle. Under the dreary shadows of poverty and unemployment coupled with the absence of useful skills imparted by vocational training institutes, idle young minds are susceptible to engage in terrorist activities. The government should be prompted to seriously focus on establishing vocational training institutes all across Pakistan to put an end to terrorist facilitation platforms, and promote healthy distractions that would keep the youth occupied in constructive activities that would in turn help the economy.

Wish for a peaceful, safe and strong Pakistan.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Rationality of National Divisions

Pakistan India Partition Division Nations
In 1947, Pakistan was allegedly created on the basis of the two-nation theory. The theory explicitly stated that the foremost distinguishing factor to determine national identity is religion.

Disregarding any commonalities between the Hindus and the Muslims of the Indian subcontinentthe two-nation theory implied that the two distinct religious entities of united India represented two separate nations.

With this ideology in place, it was declared that the Hindu and Muslim communities could no longer co-exist harmoniously in combined-India. This led to the division of united India into fragments with subsequently agreed Muslim-majority areas forming a new nation-state: Pakistan.

Pakistanis have been allured by lands that are different and better than their parent country. Many of them wish to settle in developed countries around the world. Consequently, over the decades, we have seen several Pakistanis immigrate to other countries for better lives and better prospects.

By doing so, they voluntarily choose to live with people of different religions and co-exist with different cultures and traditions. That puzzles me. If these Indian Muslims fought for an independent country on the basis of religion, then why do they now consciously choose to co-exist with people of other religions?

We teach young Pakistani children that Pakistan was created on the basis of the two-nation theory to proudly justify the formation of an independent and secure homeland for the Indian Muslims. However, today we find Pakistanis inhabiting places all over the world. Does that suggest that Pakistan was founded on the wrong principles?

Another sad but true reality is the enormity of disparate religious belief sets that are found in Pakistan today. A multitude of different religious groups hold strictly different views under the umbrella of one Islamic faith. If religion is the foremost distinguishing factor for national identity, does that justify the formation of several small nations to account for each of the different religious belief sets that exist within Pakistan?

Moreover, now when Pakistan's provincial representations - the Balochis, the Pakhtuns and the Sindhis - demand recognition and respect for their distinct identities in contrast to the dominating Punjabi provincial forces, isn't it incumbent upon us to grant them their due rights and divide Pakistan as we adamantly stood for the partition of India in the past?

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Committee Culture in Pakistan

The other day, I learned about the committee culture prevalent in the esteemed elite circles of Pakistan.

Serving as a social participation forum, the elitist committee platform enables people to connect with the higher-ups of society to enhance their prestige and promote their status through the public relations network.

The traditional concept of committee culture has long been associated with the savings schema. This has been preferably desired by people from the middle class and lower class strata of society to force-save money for themselves and their families.

The committee works like this. Every member of the committee puts aside a certain amount with the committee fund every month. At the end of the month, one committee member is entitled to receive the whole fund amount that has been collected from all participants during one month. After everyone has received the aggregate sum once, the cycle is put on repeat mode.

This way, each committee member saves money easily by keeping it aside from his/her expenditure reserves. People prefer to save and avail the accumulated fund money. This substantial amount can be used for major expenditures or investments that may have otherwise seemed difficult to achieve.

Some committee forums also serve as a social interaction and reunion platform for gossip exchange and culinary cuisine sharing. Nowadays, the committee culture has elevated to serve as a recognition forum through ostentatious displays among the status-conscious members of society.

It is astonishing to note that the amount for committee entries has escalated from a mere few thousands to some lacs and even crores amidst the top circles of Pakistan's society. The huge aggregate amount from such committee funds allows people to make hefty purchases and investments such as buying jewellery, purchasing cars, hosting wedding functions, and so on.

Like elitist club memberships, committee memberships are winning popularity for their prestige and pomp as well as lucrative benefits. This is a good savings means that does not face tax issues, and serves as a legitimate means of saving money in a hassle-free way. Further, some people even sell off their committee money at twice or thrice the rate to the ones who are more desperate to acquire large sums of quick money immediately.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Wheelchair Ramps: A Dire Need

Wheelchairs disabled people Pakistan ramps
Disabled people exist in Pakistan the same way they exist in other countries around the world. Yet, disabled people are more 'visible' in other parts of the world as compared to Pakistan. People who are unfortunately bound by immobility in this country have no option but to stay 'hidden' and home-bound since they are not facilitated to access venues of social participation.

It is sad to see that there are no ramp provisions or facilitations for people in Pakistan who might be benefited by riding wheelchairs. In places like England, they have planned cities with the conscious awareness of laying down footpaths next to roads with ramps linking the two. Even their bus systems are designed such that people with wheelchairs can get on and off a bus quite easily.

On the contrary, in Pakistan, amazingly, there are no ramps for wheelchairs catered by most schools, restaurants, grocery stores, bookshops, mosques, pharmacies, shopping malls, movie theatres, public transport facilities, post offices, and so on, with only a handful of respect-worthy exceptions such as airports, a few universities, and perhaps some elitist socialising clubs. In the absence of ramps, where would the disabled people go?

Every social venue has some stairs to mark its entrance zone, thanks to the threats posed by the unreliable drainage system of the country. The stairs appear to be a challenging climb for a person who yearns to go past the obstacle but is bound by reasons helplessly and unconditionally attributed by nature. However, forced immobility does not imply that one is no more eligible to receive societal blessings.

On the Election Day this year, I visited a polling station in Lahore that had a decent flight of steps. It was awe-inspiring to see some enthusiastic patriotic senior citizens ascend the stairs with immense difficulty but determination to vote. Simultaneously, it was sorrowful to observe that even the Election Commission of Pakistan had not taken any steps to make the polling stations conveniently accessible for persons with disabilities, as a result of which many willing participants were unable to cast their votes.

Everywhere around the world, public and private institutions should undertake the social responsibility to incorporate permanent or makeshift ramp provisions in their facilities that could facilitate people with disabilities to participate in social activities.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Power of Dress Code

Men's suiting power of dress codeA uniformed traffic policeman looks daunting in his duty clothes. One tries to consciously stay heedful of traffic rules and regulations in his proximity. However, when the same person is in ordinary clothes when off-duty, he poses no threat to the common man. That is the power of dress code.

For years, we had seen our driver wear shalwar kameez, Pakistan's traditional dress. One fine day, he switched to wearing jeans and shirt. The drastic change from rural to urban wear made him look so oddly different, and literally created recognition issues for many. That is the power of dress code.

As Islam dawned upon a friend of mine, she gradually kept on adding clothing materials to fully conceal herself. Now, with everything dreadfully hidden behind a complete black veil, we precisely see none of her. Taken aback by her overwhelming all-black attire, I have to consciously remind myself that this is the same person who has been a close friend all along the years. That is the power of dress code.

When I saw Deepika Padukone appear in a character-tailored traditional outlook in her first Hindi Indian movie, I got an impression that was totally altered by the images portrayed by her future acting performances. That is the power of dress code.

In a formal setting, when my dad meets a stranger who is dressed in a shalwar kameez instead of the more 'proper' shirt and trousers, he hastily assumes a few things about the individual's personality from the laid-back attire. That is the power of dress code.