Wednesday, October 31, 2012


This post is by one of my very good friends, Danyaal - who is not only a great writer but also an excellent poet. He sent me this and I absolutely had to share this here. Also, if you think Dan should start his own blog - comment with "Dan is stupid and needs to have his own blog!" Thank you. 

It was mid-November and I had just finished up at the gym. Stepping back outside and walking in Karachi’s cool night breeze was the most rewarding part of it. On my walk home, I used to stop at Master Juice and have an ice cold strawberry shake - sitting and just sipping away thinking about all my troubles and how difficult this life is. Sitting there, I would dream about everything I wanted life to be and thought of ideal circumstances that would make these dreams a reality.

As I was sitting there dreaming, I saw a little boy standing in the middle of the road stretched out in front of me. He was staring at me and wouldn’t stop so I waved at him to come and sit with me. He carefully walked across checking the road for cars. He was a poor little boy under  the age of 10. 
He walked up to me and said, “Jee sahab?” 
I asked him why he was standing there and he told me that he had lost the cloth he uses to wipe down cars with along with the money he earned that day. He didn’t have any money to go home with and his mother would be very disappointed in him if he went home without his earnings and cleaning cloth. One of the older boys had beaten him up earlier and took everything from him. I asked him if he was hurt and he said, “Nai yeh choti moti chotein toh lagti reh ti hain sahab magar aaj ki kamai chaligayi” 

I offered him a milkshake and he smiled from ear to ear asking, “Kailay ka pi sakta houn?” 
I ordered him a banana shake and we sat there talking a while. His name was Wasim and he lived with his mother and 2 younger sisters. His father had left them a couple years ago and now Wasim was “Ghar ka mard” as he put it and had to take care of his family. His mother worked as a maid in a few houses during most mornings while Wasim looked after his sisters. When his mother came home, Wasim went to school and after school, took a rickshaw to Defence to clean cars as “yahan paisay achay milte hain.”  

At no point during our conversation did I feel like I was speaking to a 9 year old child. He was very mature and quite aware of his responsibilities. He knew why school was important and was saving up so he could eventually send his sisters to one. I asked him why he didn't work at a store or with a vendor. He said he had trouble memorizing numbers and mixed instruction confused him. For this reason, when he tried working for a vegetable vendor he could not memorize “pyaaz 50 rupee kilo yatimatar 40 rupee kilo” and the different divisions of weight and currency made things worse. 
The poor kid was dyslexic and that became more obvious as we continued to talk and as he tried explaining his problems. I inquired about school and he said he is a couple of classes behind because of the same problem but he is slowly getting the hang of it.

After he finished his shake, we walked to a nearby store to buy another piece of cloth. The only time I felt like I was with a kid was when he saw the mini sponge/wiper thing that the kids have at traffic lights displayed at the store. He excitedly started jumping and begged me to buy it, “Sahabpleej who wiper bhi dila do”
After buying the cleaning supplies, I gave him what little money I had left and put him in a rickshaw headed home. Upon my request, he promised me that he would come see me again the next day at Master Juice. I was there every night at Master Juice the next three days but Wasim did not show. I was a little worried but on the fourth day, I was in the neighborhood during the evening and getting in my car after buying some groceries, when he came sprinting shouting, “Salaam sahab!” 
I was relieved to see him and he seemed pleased to see me too which was nice. I asked him why he didn’t come to Master Juice and he told me a very disturbing recap of the night after I had first met him. 

He was waiting for me at Master Juice the night after our first meet when another man started talking to him. He offered to buy Wasim new shoes and asked him to get in his car so the excited boy, expecting shoes, did what he was told. The man drove Wasim to a nearby alley and attempted to sexually abuse the boy. Luckily however, he bit the bastard's hand and managed to get away. He avoided Master Juice a couple days, afraid he might run into the pervert again. I drove him to Master Juice and introduced him to the waiters so that they can look after him for the time he waits for me during the evenings.Wasim and I started having supper together at Master Juice a few nights a week. Spending time with him made me appreciate my life a lot more. My troubles started to seem meaningless in front of the struggles this child went through every day. 

A couple of months later, Wasim’s mother married another man and he came to see me one last time before leaving for a different city. I was glad that at least with this change, his circumstances will now become a little better. At the same time though, I became grateful for what I did have. My circumstances didn't change throughout any of this but for some reason, hearing Wasim’s perspective every night made my days seem like a walk in the park. I was back to where I started and once again just complained and dreamt of solutions to my problems without having the power to actually change my circumstances.

The fact that somewhere the boy is still having a hard time living day in and day out lost its effect very quickly, once that connection was lost. The mind again started to think about how much better off A or B are compared to me. Questions like why me? Why can’t it be easier, simpler? Or even why is he always picking on me? They all started coming back to mind more often. I know people are much worse off than me but why should that even be an excuse for me to feel good about my situation? Why is it so difficult for everybody in the first place? I am probably going to hell for how ungrateful I am but I seriously get very angry with God sometimes at how unfair this life is. What did Wasim do to deserve any of it? It isn’t even by choice! We just end up on this planet and have to work with what we get. I understand that I am privileged and should be thanking God day and night for all that I have but at the same time, I have been beaten down so hard so many times that I question a lot of what he has in store.

Maybe in the future, I will realize why all this was necessary and begin to see why it had to be so difficult. Like my friend Mujtaba says, “It is a test and was always supposed to be difficult. We were never promised an easy life and so shouldn’t expect it to be any less than the painful struggle it is.”
I guess that’s why faith is hard to hold on to at times. However, some events make things worse. Wasim’s life made me more grateful for mine but it also led me to question God’s plan a lot more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You know who you are

It bothers me. Bright sunshine outside creeping its way up from behind the tiny gaps in your curtains. The smell of tea, the sound of shuffling feet on the wooden floors, the swish of cloth and the freshly baked banana bread. It was always banana.

You're asleep, I don't want to wake you. I make small talk with your mom, run my finger over the dusty picture frames whisking through the past in a few minutes. Tiny faces smiling back at me.

I look around your room, feeling at home. It is not clean. It is untidy with clothes covering every surface, make up heaped in a pile on your dressing table, one half of your pair of red high heels lying on the floor - the other; nowhere to be found. Then there are the books and your precious book shelf, the laptop humming quietly.

I shove a pile of clothes away from a comfortable spot on your beige couch. I pick up some fashion magazines lying on the floor and flip through them; waiting for you to wake up. You jolt up from the bed just like you always do. It cracks me up.

"How long have you been here?" you ask looking around for your glasses and gathering your pile of bushy hair on top of your head.
"Only just arrived" I lie.

A day of sorrow. Brought together by pain yet moving far apart. It continues today.

We were not many things. Best friends, confidants, companions, late night phone call.
We were many things. A sanctuary, a wonderland, a comfort, outcasts, real, familiarity, similar story.

Now, we are nothing. It bothers me.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to survive in the world of advertising

1. Point out things that do not matter and make a big deal about it

For example, the shade of red on a poster needs to be the "right" red. If it is not red enough, you must huff and puff, throw your fists in the air, stare down at the graphics guy and act heartbroken in front of the top management. The management MUST know you are losing sleep, have dark circles under your eyes and are absolutely appalled at the stupid colorblind graphics dude for not getting the red right! I mean WHO DOES THAT!? 

2. Re-do everything

This will really get you far. After taking feedback from your supervisors, re-do the design (that took the graphics dude 20,000 hours to produce) with changes to the design that probably won't make much difference to begin with. Staring him down will help too. 

3. Hold a meeting

Can't decide whether the background should be blue or dark blue? Hold a meeting. Is the header on the website too big? Hold a meeting. Was there a spelling error in a presentation of a total of 118 slides? Hold a meeting. Having a mid life crisis? Hold a meeting. Also, make sure the meeting lasts a good 2-3 hours with a whole lot of quotes about life.

4. Make a presentation

Want to communicate with anybody else in the office? Make a presentation. I mean seriously - want to suggest where to have lunch? Make a detailed presentation outlining the pros and cons of 50 places to eat. With pictures. Want to tell the client you can't make it to the meeting? Promptly engage all employees (who could be doing something more worthwhile with their time such as ACTUAL WORK) into preparing this presentation and then sending it out. Feeling like green as pigeon shit with a toe swollen the size of Russia? That's right, make a damn presentation about it.

Happy selling!