45 and my ode to life…

Photo by Jeremy Zero on Unsplash.

Reflection isn’t easy if it’s 45 years of your life and you’re trying to summarize everything in a tiny, tiny article. My mind goes not too far and not too deep, it lingers around the obvious – life’s too short to get too invested.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, the average age of the people of my Ummah (my followers) is 60 years. Divide 60 by 3 and you get three phases of your life, two decades long each. At 45 today, I’ve spent two of them entirely and another 25% of that third phase already – what’s left isn’t much and isn’t enough.

Think of anyone you know from history – legends, leaders, great men and women – people who passed away more than 70 odd years ago, chances are, they’ve spent more time dead than they spent when alive. Many have turned in their graves for some lifetimes over, and it’s very sad once you realize that this would be you, some point in time.

Being dead is an eventuality; if one can keep that in focus, life becomes much easier than what it is for most people.

Turning 40 was scary for me, not that I was 40 that day, no, it was because I had once exclaimed to two of my closest friends that, given how life is today, it’s tests and harshness, I would probably be dead by 40. I had said this when we were all playing cricket in my room, back in Askari Apartments 4, and I was about 20 years of age or thereabout. They were both a bit sad to hear this, and I never regretted saying it for one bit, and not at all because they were sad or anything. I only felt that living in a more dangerous, ruthless world meant that life would end abruptly.

We lost our dear school friend Faisal Munir in 1994. I consider that as one of the most painful moments of my life. I’m not sure about other friends, but Faisal was my best friend – most loving, caring and a huge teddy-bear kind of guy. We spent time together doing crazy stuff when science exhibitions were held at our school, or when we simply went to have steak at PDO.

That trip for steak was a nerve-wrecking experience. It was his idea, and I was scared to death…and I never knew he was going to unleash this scare on me. Moments before one of those wide speed breakers approached, he exclaimed, ‘Hold me tight at the belly!’ I may have pleaded, shouted, screamed ten times to have him not do it, but that was it, we were airborne in a couple of seconds at the back of his motorbike. I had simply survived that first jump, not knowing that another speed breaker was heading our way. Once I saw it, I knew what he was going to say, so I just grabbed him tight and prayed! As the motorbike landed after that second jump, the back tire had wobbled, and for a split second I thought we’d fall. We didn’t. The steak was tasty too!

When I turned 40, I was like DAMN. Did I curse myself into some form of spell – having said that I’d die at 40? I don’t believe in all this, and I never thought I had — still, once you say something absurd like this, it can come back to haunt you. The human spirit to live and endure is undying and it keeps us wanting to go forever.

Isn’t that the ultimate goal of science today – to figure out a way to move human consciousness to a livable system where we can continue to live forever? This is a valid scientific problem, and it’s interesting. If everything is material, as scientists love to believe (us Muslims don’t), then there’s a material reason and possibility to simply transmogrify into digital beings.

Nonsense. Any digital existence so designed by humans, or artificial intelligence, will be void of age, pain, suffering, disruption, the daily challenges of life and the question of conscience and morals. I’ll be more hopeful of artificial intelligence throwing a realistic challenge at us in terms of design, but most such artificial ‘intelligence’ relies on human-designed models of understanding – yup, so far we dictate what AI must do and how. Ever wonder why Youtube Ads and suggestions are so stupid?

We humans are good at conjecture, especially in areas of thought where we have zero understanding. Allah Subhana Wa Taala gives us a clear answer:

Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the fire and admitted to the garden will have attained the object (of life): for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception. Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently and guard against evil then that will be a determining factor in all affairs. Verses 185 and 186 of Sūra 3: Āl-i-‘Imrān, or The Family of ‘Imrān

I’m 45 today. I was born at around 6:00 AM on July 18, 1976 and it had rained like the devil all night in Karachi. My second Mamu (uncle), who was with my parents, says that they drove through heavy, crazy rain to the hospital with broken wipers on his windscreen! Baree Phuppi (my older aunt), who has passed away, told me the story of that night almost every time we met. She used to say, “Jis din tum paida howey thay, waisi barish Karachi main kabhee nahee pari thee (the day you were born, that kind of rainfall had never happened in Karachi).”

The mysteries of life, it’s trials and tribulations, it’s challenges, it’s nuances, it’s many, many hurtful moments, it’s beautiful bright days, it’s rain and it’s grandeur, it’s staring in our faces, it’s rewards, it’s miracles, it’s friendships, it’s never ending stories and it’s wanting us to crave more of it, is only a sign that we’ve been put here, alive, in this wondrous, rebellious, spinning, big, blue ball – to see, to believe and to praise the name of the One, Allah Subhana Wa Taala, whose Face we seek to See one day. – إن شاء الله

That’s my ode to life. What’s yours?

Forgetting…

Forgotten bug photo © Copyright by Peter Pryharski

I can’t seem to recall the name of our arts class teacher, Madam ________. It was a very unique name. I do clearly remember her face and one particular interaction with her, when she said, ‘it seems Yasser’s favorite color is orange’.

I simply can’t recall the class we were in, or my age at the time, but this could have been the seventh or eighth class for all I can recall. We didn’t have Arts in later years, so if orange was my favorite color, I got to know at about that age. If you ask me today, I still feel, orange is my favorite color. Or it’s a dazzling color to see, that sure it is.

As for our teacher’s name, I just can’t seem to remember and I’ve tried for a few weeks now. It’s a very interesting name, one that you’d remember, but I simply can’t, and I haven’t asked any of my friends. I simply wanted to see if I could recall it over the past few weeks. I haven’t yet.

To confirm that I haven’t lost a huge portion of my memories, here are a handful of names of our teachers from class one and onwards… Madam Tasneef, Madam Zahoor, Madam Kazim, Madam Karim, Madam Azra Wasti, Madam Fatima, Madam Erum, Madam Razia, Madam Ghazala, … all of them no problems, I can recall them and know their names quite well.

Amongst the above, there’s one teacher who slapped me once. And she’s not Madam Razia, thanks to Allah Subhana Wa Taala for that, because if anyone was spared getting a slap from Madam Razia back in the day, it must have been me, and, I vouch for the fact that irrespective of race, color, gender or creed, every student that crossed the path of Madam Razia, had felt the crack of her slap right below their left ear or right below the left ear of a fellow student. If not every, a qualified majority had. I’m only assuming Madam was right handed, if not, then of course everyones’ right cheeks would have been honored. Yet, I was spared and that story is worth telling, in a future post.

So, I can recall a whole bunch of names from childhood, and my interactions, but for some reason, some darn reason that evades me, I just can’t remember the name of our Arts teacher, who actually was a great teacher. Immaculately dressed, appreciative of us and I still do remember her. The name seems to be lingering around, I almost can say it, then I get stuck at, “Mrs/Ms …”.

Wondering over this has given me a valuable thought. My memory may have only started to fade slightly, the slight bit that wouldn’t worry me, but that, the thought of losing some memories close to my heart forever is scary. Not that, like Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter, we could simply store some of our key memories in the Pensieve of Hogwarts, only to review them later! If at all that was possible in our frail world, it would be another mischievous disaster.

I have found some of my friends in a slightly more worrisome situation. They can’t recall some of what they said or did, and have forgotten great moments that I do remember vividly, we had together. The scale at which this runs is simply shocking. One of my friends who used to visit his brother at PAF (some twenty odd years ago) raved about the Chicken Quorma or Murgh Korma (one of the most tasty curries that originates from Delhi and from the cuisine of the Mughals) made at the PAF mess. It was so amazing for my friend that he had once requested the PAF chef to make a large portion, what we call in Urdu, a Pateela (larger than a usual pot) of this Chicken Quorma so he could bring it back home and store in smaller portions, to eat later. These were times when we were back home in Pakistan to study and our parents still lived in the GCC, so living alone and having someone prepare our food for us, was a challenge.

I never ate or saw this particular Quorma, I can’t place this thought, did I try it, or did I not? Still if ever, I do remember my friend’s insane love of it and this particular story – it’s a true story and we can make a movie out of it – The Quorma? Unfortunately for him, he doesn’t remember it at all, zero, zip, zilch, nada. Whenever I’ve reminded him about it, he just hasn’t been able to remember. I wonder what that PAF chef remembers about this Quorma Haram (derived from Namak Haram, slang and used to mean: unthankful $#&@), a nagging younger brother of a PAF officer who pestered him to make Murgh Korma in bucketloads.

Then there’s another friend, who’s on all kinds of medication (the ones that control sugar, or keep your BP in check) because of a lifestyle that the human body just can’t sustain for long periods of time. He’s been forgetting whether he had told me something or not, over and over again. It’s either the effects of these meds, or it’s simply the fact that one’s too busy to put a marker out there, for what someone had said or was told, at some point in time. This isn’t a disease or something, it’s just poor memory management, or it’s mental fatigue, the fact that you say the same thing over and over again to so many people, you literally can’t recall who you’ve said it to or have. It’s simply an over worked brain, and that affects memory, or may trigger memory loss.

We all forget. It’s said that the name ‘Insaan’ in Arabic comes from a root word that means ‘to forget’. Jokingly I often comment that if said or read like a Westerner, the word would almost be pronounced, ‘Insane’, which is quite amusing given that this particular creation of God, doesn’t seem to stop amazing at any and all levels of stupidity. Stupidity, or the things we choose to do for years (or don’t), then graciously, we tend to forget, naturally, with the passing of time, or the advent of old age.

I’m sure there are events in my past that I wouldn’t recall. I’ve been told that, but I’ve found it hard to believe. As if my mind simply looked up the memory and came back with a blank or a note that, ‘This never happened.’ It either never was, or that I never found it important to hang on to, in which case, it was neither painful enough, nor enjoyable at the least. May be it did occur and that it’s been lost, which is okay with me, because it must’ve been entirely rubbish.

Then there’s the idea that memories are worth keeping, which they are not, because as people realize their Photo apps are getting smarter and smarter in reminding them what they did (or photographed) years ago, or sometimes just an year or two ago, and I’ve only seen people fall into nostalgia (longing for the past) and sadness after spending time looking at their own photos and videos – which should really make them happy for the amazing time spent, not sad or skewed towards an unhealthy state – yet, it’s rampant, our mind, our emotions and our little friend Satan, all nudge us towards madness and unthankfulness.

Considering the fact that this entire article came about because of a little glitch in my mind, about the name of our teacher, and that I’ve been wondering what if I lost some of the things I know from my past about our elders and family, it only encourages me to write more, and make it an excuse to note down some of the stuff that keeps me kicking subconsciously.

An effort like this can help me share thoughts with my children, and to pen some stuff to remember, for the time (if I am blessed with it; old age) when it will be fun to read or to have someone read, this journal.

At least, I’ll try to be a judge then, to see if it all was worth… forgetting?

Warp speed ending…

Dying rose photo © Copyright by Silvestri Matteo

44 years (45 this month) in and on this planet makes me very finicky about what I choose to do during my typical day. It’s the nervousness of knowing that the rest of the time I have left on the planet, is literally quite limited. I’m guessing yours is too.

This doesn’t mean that I simply don’t waste time, I do, and at times I realize that what I’ve lost in reading news, or random blog posts is my sanity and mental peace. In today’s times, with the pandemic around and old wars roaring anew, to some extent it’s wise to stay informed, yet, it’s also a massive headache to deal with all the senselessness and tiredness that follows.

Over the years I have left time wasting activities as a whole and these haven’t affected me much. I left Facebook at least six years ago, as far as I remember, and have had no intention to engage on Twitter, simply because there’s just too much wayward engagement, with strangers and unwanted advertising. Other social platforms came later, so I try not to catch up.

The general rule of the thumb here is – if it’s taking a lot of my time, it’s something I’ve got to get rid of – without too much reasoning or convincing. News is an addiction, I want to know what’s going on, yet, if we think about it, most of it is irrelevant, it’s not local and it’s always bad or sad news. Still, I go about it, reading, sharing and using apps like Google (not the news app, just the Google app) that in most silly ways can’t stop sharing the same kind of stuff that I just read an article about. It’s really silly intelligence, or stupid intelligence, or artificial intelligence, whatever you want to call it, but if a topic interests me for a split second, I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life reading about it. Planet Mars and all the human shenanigans going about on the planet right now are interesting, and irrelevant.

So I’ve recently deleted the Google app on my Samsung S10 Lite (now retired). I usually never bother using it on my iPhone, but it’s worth deleting it there too. Which I have.

WhatsApp and Youtube are also big time wasters, though I have come to the conclusion that I have to live with these two, at least because at some level I have to engage with humans (friends, family and business acquaintances) and human generated content. Sigh.

That said, I’m still inclined towards deleting WhatsApp, it would be a huge time saver, but then I feel I’ll lock myself out from some of my closest friends who I need to annoy for my own petty reasons, and draw away from family, missing the little moments we share together from afar.

As for YouTube, it’s another mess, and there’s all kinds of content, so it’s very important to know what I’m looking for and be brutal in selecting my ‘subscriptions’ (yes those Subscribes that all YouTubers keep asking us to become). I am a YouTube Premium member now, because I simply couldn’t get over the fact that my kids were being bombarded with vague and at times insane advertising. So YouTube Premium takes away all these ads and sets me back AED 35.99 every month. Damn.

So what’s the take here?

Time is not only not on our side, it’s warp speed ending.

How are you?

You Are Important photo © Copyright by George Pagan III

One great habit I learnt this year last year, is from my close friend. I have got in touch with them after 17 years – a very long time for someone who’s my childhood class fellow and a close friend in Karachi where we lived to study, once.

Having chatted to him on WhatsApp, I noticed something profoundly different in the way a chat was started, day in and day out, the very same way, almost in a profound ‘new way’, one that feels forgotten in online chat, the three golden words:

“How are you?”

So right after السلام عليكم (which is the greetings of all Prophets of Allah) and much used by Muslims today, the next sentence has always been, ‘How are you?’

There may be other forms of the same greeting, said in many ways and languages, like in Urdu we would say, ‘Kia haal hain?’, which means the same. In real life, all of us are humble and polite enough to greet one another, still at times it’s simply for formal or casual use, to forward our conversations.

Online, life can be lonely, specially when people like me who live online find themselves opening new conversations more, reaching out people more and finding very few times when someone would actually begin a conversation that really feels close and caring.

The norm often, is to endure unwanted messaging on WhatsApp or other mediums and deal with them in one way or another. My earlier post Shut the WhatsTAP should be an interesting read on the subject. I prefer conversing with people more, rather than endure a continuous feed of what excites them in the form of unwelcome shares.

‘How are you?’, is a profound opening to any chat, any conversation and I’ve begun using this with everyone who I chat to – irrespective of what or how they open their conversations. If I speak to anyone, I try to say ‘How are you?’ when it’s my turn to speak.

This has been the case even when speaking to my clients on the phone or writing emails to them. I have felt that they respond in a welcome and friendly way. At times a simple ‘How are you?’ has started a pleasant conversation.

Asking someone how they were on a day that was going too well or too glum seems to be the kindest of greetings.

So, how are you? ❤️

Friends are gems and blips…

Football outside Jakarta photo © Copyright by Robert Collins

The course of history, or the usual course of history comes to a halt when friends visit. Time as we know it, ceases to exist and the few moments we spend together are immemorial.

Living in the UAE can be a lonely affair depending on your circumstances – you may live without your family or live without your friends. One or both of these situations can be true.

When back home is same-old, same-old, purana (old – used here in reference to the movement back in Pakistan to have everything naya or new), people like me rarely travel to their home country, if at all wish of going back forever.

In all this, there are a few friends who simply travel to see you and have you among them, not for silly pick and drop service or for help in an errand here or an errand there – they genuinely come with ‘you’ in mind. Those few people, are gems. They travel to see you, be with you, to spend time with you, to talk over the many ups and downs of life and for the few reasons that life gives them, they make you feel special.

I am fortunate to know a few such beings and this post celebrates them, gems. Of course, anyone who visits the UAE, wants to enjoy and see the country or to attend its many exhibitions and festivals, yet to have a great time with them when you meet them, is an altogether lovely experience. It’s time out, and it’s time big.

There are a few others, on whose list, you’re a small bleep, a sign-off, a simple keep in touch, minor blip. They visit and leave, and while we do get to meet, you know you’re on a list of people they wanted to see, or blip. These are close friends who keep in touch on a day-in and day-out basis and they make sure you’re always a great friend, someone who’s felt loved and cared for, via a chat message here, and a share over there. Close friends, true friends, yet, while we go and meet them, time never stops, time never holds and if anything, very few memories form – most only tiny blips in time.

My extended family (cousins and other relatives) never travel to the UAE for any purpose whatsoever. The few who do, or have done in the past, came to see someone in my immediate family, just not to see me – so we’ll simply leave them out. I feel they don’t see UAE as a magnificent place to visit, to experience or that they simply have other priorities. Which I believe is true. They’re the others.

The few friends I keep, the few who really are my age old friends from times when we were just friend, are both types – gems and blips (though the use of the word ‘blippers’ is more appropriate, and that this word is entirely made up, by me). Gems love to want to come meet you and time simply stops. Blips make you want to see them, and time moves on. The others, well, stay away.

Friends are gems and blips. There are others too. Who are you?

PS: If any of my friends want to know if I consider them a gem or a blip, I will gladly tell you. Wanna know? WINK!

Once upon a time, there was a Paratha…

Anda Paratha Nashta photo © Copyright by Khadeeja Yasser

My cup of tea is ready, it awaits the first sip. We’re out of bread this morning and I’m awaiting the planned Paratha Anda breakfast so the traditional and lovely chai thos makhan protocol has broken this morning. It’s Friday, the weather’s nice, at least indoors, and I have set our pedestal fan on the ‘wind’ mode.

Paratha Anda means bread and egg, but that meaning is only literal.

Paratha is traditional bread made with bread dough similar to or the same as chapatti aata (flatbread dough) prepared on a traditional tawa (a thick disk of metal) with ghee (clarified butter) or butter (this can be tricky since butter burns faster than anything). I have known ‘some’ to use oil but that is so tasteless and rubbish.

Pakistanis are powered by paratha. I am one of them and I love it. I simply don’t eat one every day, some people do. I have a one-ish paratha every three to four weeks, but the past ten days have seen a higher frequency of these lovely home-made breads, for reasons beyond my control.

It’s been served at lunch and I have carefully had a little of these lovely parathas, some with various kinds of cheese, some with white-radish, some with aalo methi (potato and fenugreek curry) in them. The amount of ghee used was light, or that I was served ones made in olive-oil, regardless, they ‘were’ and then they ‘were not’. I may have intruded upon one a many parathas designated ‘for-kids-only!’

My son who is 10 (ten), though he claims he’s 11 (eleven) is the best paratha saikney wala. This term saikney is giving me a hard time translating it to English as I am unable to find a word for it, so let’s use this in English too. Saikna means cooking a chapatti or crisping a paratha on a tawa or flat skillet, that provides the saik (consistent heat).

So he’s a champion paratha saikney wala (expert guy at crisping a paratha on a skillet) and can prepare a paratha to perfection. We know it’s a tad risky for a kid so he’s supervised, but some talents are innate and they blossom.

Our paratha dough recipe is simple, one part of chapatti aata, one part of maida, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of butter ghee (clarified butter) made into a soft dough using lukewarm water. The technique involves letting the dough sit for some time so it rests, then small balls of dough are rolled into flatbread, followed by crisping them on the skillet. paratha recipes are many and vary by taste and culture. If I hear the word paratha, I’m in – regardless of how it’s made.

Anda in Urdu simply means egg. When preceded by paratha, the meaning changes – it implies an omelette, a Pakistani omelette at that. This involves cutting up some tomatoes, green chillies, onions, fresh coriander finely and whisking them in one or two eggs (per portion) along with a pinch of red chili powder and salt. Red-chillies taste better if we use crushed red chillies over powdered, they give that much more kick. Green chillies can be either too hot, or too placid and balancing the amount can be tricky. So try your luck with them, but don’t skip adding the greens. Oh yes,… and do fry the omelette over a medium heat using a teaspoon of butter ghee (clarified butter), about 30 seconds on each side or a bit more, but don’t overcook it.

Paratha Anda is served on a plate with the paratha at the bottom and the anda (omelette) on top. Both are best when super hot and right out of the pan. If you ask me, an early morning post-dawn Paratha Anda breakfast can suffice your hunger for pretty much the entire day. I can vouch for this, I’ve tried it.

As for the calorie intake or ‘Oh, this will make me fat’ – well yeah – it would if you consume parathas like a Panda. If you’re prudent in your paratha consumption and simply have this lovely meal every couple of weeks, you should do just fine. After all, life’s too short to not indulge in some of the blessings of Allah, moderately. WINK!

If you’ve read this far, and have done so at the wrong time of your day, you will be at the brink of dying of paratha cravings. I apologize for that but like you I’ve been writing this post for the past hour and like you crave a scrumptious Paratha Anda nashta (breakfast).

If you’re Pakistani, stop that indulgent paratha consumption for the sake of your heart, and your health. If you’re non-Pakistani and a lover of parathas, please do the same. Try a routine of having these every two to three weeks, if not three to four. One or one-ish paratha at a time. If you’ve never had Paratha Anda – oh my – please get in touch with a Pakistani friend or family and demand a Paratha Anda breakfast. You have a right, exercise that. HAHA.

Some might despise having parathas, mostly because of the meal being unhealthy or just too ‘oily’ or ‘calorie-laden’ – mute them – great parathas made traditionally are nothing but healthy when prepared with care. Overdo anything and it’s going to bite at you – at least that’s how I see it.

Once upon a time, there was a paratha … and then, I ate it. الحَمْد لله‎

Shut the WhatsTAP

The three wise monkeys photo © Copyright Rachit Tank

Since the dawn of the Internet, we’ve always had some chat program that takes the limelight and everyone, that is everyone you know uses it, and considers it divine.

A few chat programs from yesteryears come to mind: mirc, icq, msn messenger, aim, yahoo messenger – these were some of the most used and almost revolutionary chat platforms at the time. Email was the second best to them.

This was the late 90s and we had almost nothing to ‘share’ or ‘forward’, not the way you know these terms today. We had cosy, easy to remember URLs like yahoo.com and altavista.com to remember and use. Anything else was a URL too, and we used to copy and paste these into our chat and email programs. Other forms of sharing were simply copying and pasting the text or photograph of interest and we were done. Chat was simply chat, it was one on one conversation, and it was done using a computer.

With the advent of the ‘phone in your hand’, the mobile phone or known popularly to some as the cellphone, we were introduced to another form of chat, text-ing. This suffered from the difficulty of typing messages, yet we all became accustomed to text on our Ericsson and Nokia phones at the speed of light. This wasn’t a chat platform per-say. It was pay-by-the-text, and it faded away slowly.

The years that followed saw another chat platform rise to stardom. The Blackberry. I never owned a Blackberry, it never appealed to me personally, but every person in business thought a Blackberry was the best tool for typing quick (because of its keyboard) and for BBM, BlackBerry Messenger. Many a business deals were made on the new platform. People considered acquiring a prospect’s BBM pin, a feat.

The iPhone in 2007 changed everything. It changed the way we interacted with a computer. Apple didn’t introduce a chat service out of the box. Had they, their chat platform iMessage (2011) or Messages (today) would have ruled the world.

February 24, 2009 changed chat for ever. WhatsApp came to the iPhone and the rest of its story is history and worth reading. As the iPhone grew, WhatApp grew as a platform for sharing status messages, photos, videos, voice and what have you. It became and remains the largest chat platform on planet Earth. One that was acquired by Facebook for some US$19 billion green.

I have never liked WhatsApp, there’s something about it that I despise, and I can’t figure that out either. It’s maybe it’s antisocial in some ways, it’s maybe everyone is so gaga about it or it’s maybe it’s just too well made, it’s too perfect to let people into our lives, in so many unwelcome ways.

Having said that, my current WhatsApp setup is this:

  • I have WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business, both running on my iPhone (it’s possible to set this up, even if you have a single sim iPhone).
  • I use WhatsApp for personal use and WhatsApp Business for business use.
  • WhatsApp is limited for use with my friends (including my better half). No family or extended family.
  • WhatsApp Business is for all our customers and I rather adopted this app proactively. It offers some nice features over WhatsApp.
  • As official family policy (chuckle!) we don’t allow WhatsApp on our kids’ iPhones (and employ strict Parental Controls too! WINK!!).

I do feel the main reason why I don’t like or at times ‘hate’ WhatsApp is the constant stream of unwanted, uninteresting, unintelligible, unwelcome ‘forwards’ that run like a loose tap, an almost drain on our behavior and intellect.

Having faced this menace, I have caged myself into the above way of WhatApp-ing. There are very few people who can get to me (the personal number I use for WhatsApp is known only to a handful) and the ones who have access to me on personal WhatsApp, were told and made to understand the following:

  • No groups for whatsoever godforsaken reason.
  • You are welcome to chat and share photos of interesting stuff you do. Family photos are welcome and loved.
  • Audio messages are super welcome, it makes me feel happier than chat.
  • No senseless forwarding. No jokes, no videos, no anything. If I see the text ‘forwarded’ besides your message, you will be made to regret that action. Many have! BIG GRIN!!
  • If something is really important – tell me, I’m interested in knowing – so any input on topics of interest is welcome. Any news that excites you or troubles you, is not.
  • I seldom read Status messages, and I have posted a few at times. I don’t plan to post status messages anymore.

I have strong views on the culture of the ‘forward’. It’s intrusive, it’s abusive at times and it outright ignores the fact that the other person on the line is a human being. Humans can have good and bad times, and being human requires social contact, not social nonsense.

The result is that WhatsApp is over-crowded with hundreds of unwanted groups and people, and thousands of unread messages. It’s not chat any more, it’s a tap, a never ending tap of nonsense that aims to flow perpetually, unchecked, uncontrolled.

Shut the WhatsTAP. You’ll live a happier life.

Many a castles lie in ruin…

Desert Cairo Temple photo © Copyright by Fynn schmidt

I skipped writing yesterday, I had a new design to push for our Spiderz home page and that went well. Using the tools we do, it takes about a day to refresh a web page’s design, mobile friendly and all, polished. You can see it at www.spiderz.com – it’s slick.

I’ve had my breakfast, and tea’s on my side, so the day’s begun early and on the right footing. The weather outside seems pleasant, sun’s up and I have an urge to go out for a walk. Hurray, summer ended yesterday!

I really wanted to take a small nap after praying Fajr this morning, which thanks to my commitment last night, happened almost on time. I was late by 40 minutes or so, but I prayed and I’m happy about it, of course at home, not at the local masjid (there’s one about 100 steps or so from our building). I never go to pray fajr at the masjid, if ever. Once a year may be.

I’ve been regular at my salat all my life, not in the way that praying as a Muslim is compulsory so you have to do it, but in a way that salat has always kept me functioning. There were days back in my teens when I’d miss a prayer or two purely because I had forgotten or got tied up in PC gaming or cricket, but it always remained on my list of tasks to complete and I recall completing the ones I had missed, later. Salat as we know it in Arabic and namaz in Urdu has always been a mission, a mission to report back to Allah and be amenable to the few things asked of us.

If there’s anything that keeps my thoughts and behavior in check, it’s the continuous realization that life’s going to end ‘soon’ and that soon isn’t really far – it’s around the corner. Being conscious of your reality is better than living in deceit.

I find most people have no interest in knowing, or talking about the day when this Earth shall be upon them. People love their lives and the world around them. The idea of ‘all of this’ been taken away from them is incomprehensible for some. Distant to others.

The modern man’s belief system, the so-called modern values and the ideas around the purpose of life in the twenty-first century, are all broken. They’re broken because they’re imagined and constructed on the faulty premise that life’s eternal (or that you must believe that it is, eyes shut) — a never ending recursive loop.

In reality, recursive functions are carefully constructed to end at a point in time, of which, you nor I have any knowledge, any certainly.

Many a castles lie in ruin, many a ways deserted.
I live to see the end of mine, I wish to see me live.

Chai tos makhan khain…

Breakfast 2 photo © Copyright by Steve Harvey.

An early morning, breakfast of chai tos makhan (brewed-tea, toast and butter) has returned.

After my strong tea article, one of my dear friends pointed out the risks of having tea on an empty stomach. For one, many of the articles on the subject sight black tea as the problem, while some of the articles that talk about milk tea, really talk about each individual ingredient within the tea and their risks, not the full concoction, ‘chai.’

If I cared, I would have researched the affects of chai on ourselves a bit more, but as most research goes, it’s never conclusive, until of course, it eventually is. Which it is never.

The idea of having chai early morning is not a new one to anyone in our family. You wake up, get out of bed and crave tea, demand tea and some are known to have opened their eyes only when tea was served at bedside. I’m not one of those, but this is factual and I know who of the few I refer here. SMILE.

It’s true, tea is our day-starter and there have been no noticed consequences for centuries. We sub-continentians can vouch for this, ‘tea in the morning, when brewed with the right quantities of milk, sugar and love, is harmless.’

The only thing I’ve missed from my day-start equation is this, ‘chai is always taken with nashta (breakfast).’ This when said, is the traditional position, though I know of many who take chai with no breakfast and have rather healthy and long lives. ما شاء الله

Having thought about this from another angle, having a cup of tea early morning, then breaking off a couple hours later to take my breakfast isn’t really productive. A break mid-morning is nice, but at times I just can’t take one, so breakfast gets delayed, very delayed, which isn’t good. It only makes me want to eat too much at lunch, or that it does.

The chat (not chai!) with my friend helped me dig into one of those few ideal breakfasts we have in our culture, chai tos makhan. He suggested ‘chai key sath tos ley ley’ (take toast with your tea, said with utter disrespect to a close friend, speaking in the very direct and personal, unforgiving, unmannerly tone of ‘tu, tujhey, tera’) that instantly made me recall the ‘ideal’, the ‘absolute’, the ‘perfect’ and ‘the breakfast’ I used to have, many many a thousand times, ‘chai tos makhan.’

For the past two days, I have prepared and had my chai, with a well-toasted slice of brown-bread and 10 grams of butter. I have, I must agree, indulged and added a slice of cheese to the mix. I sip into my tea a few bites into the toast, which has its own taste to it, a taste I’ve missed for a little too long.

If you’re looking for a perfect day-starting breakfast, try the chai tos makhan breakfast. It’s fairly quick to prepare and you can supplement it with cheese or an egg in whatever form you prefer.

Chai tos makhan khain, jannat main jain. (Have tea, toast and butter; ascend to Heaven.)