Tuesday, March 24, 2015

To Plan or Not to Plan

You know how there are some moments in your life (can be weeks or months or a month) when things happen one after the other, some planned and others not so planned and you find yourself in a whirlwind of activity at different fronts?

March was such a month for me.

I stepped out of my comfort zone this month, met some new people and touched base with some old ones. And all this activity has made me start thinking. About my writing, this blog, social media in general and how much do I want to be out there. 

I'm donning my thinking cap from tomorrow. Tonight I've got to be at the top of my game at the, hopefully, last event of this month. Here's where I'm going to be at Language and The Writer: An evening with Aamer Hussein. Come over and say hello if you have the time! 


Saturday, March 7, 2015

March and its books

February was the month I totally cheated on my reading resolution. The Grand Reading Plan was chucked out of the window because stuff needed to get done. Literary festivals and other things, some exciting and some not so exciting. 

The March reading list looks like this: 

1. The Plague - Albert Camus

I've read The Outsider and it was such a fantastic book. One of those books you can never forget. Like it's easy to forget War and Peace (Tolstoy) except for the fact that it is based around that time when Napoleon invaded Russia. Or Portnoy's Complaint (Philip Roth). But this book, The Outsider, is very hard to forget. Camus was a genius. 

2. The Raymond Chandler Omnibus 

I'm going to read 'Farewell my Lovely' only. I've read The Long Goodbye and watched the movie loosely based on the novel starring Elliot Gourd as Philip Marlowe. Throughly enjoyed the book and knowing me I just might end up reading the entire omnibus. This guy is not just good, he's brilliant in all his gory details and plot twists.

3. The Rainy Moon  - Colette

It's a collection of short stories and one story a day is not just perfectly possible, it is good for the soul too. Especially if it involves women walking out on men or vice versa for the love of a cat. Don't believe it? Read here.

4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (Re-read)

And not just this one book, the entire series. Chuck out all the other reads and just get lost in the crazy world that Adams created. And I would love one of these. 


5. Travels with my Aunt - Graham Greene (Re-read)

Whether you're a Greene fan or not, this is one book you must read. MUST read. It is hilarious and yet has so many layers. And then watch the movie based on the book starring, wait for it, a youngish Maggie Smith as the aunt. Even though the movie is not at all faithful to the book, Smith is the aunt you've envisioned while reading the book. Read the book first. Always read the book first. 

6. Laughing Gas and Hot Water - P.G.Wodehouse

Although it looks like one title, these are actually two books (collected works). A Wodehouse a month is the key to a happy life. Whenever life gets too much, read Wodehouse. Laughter guaranteed every time. 

Enough reading for a month. 

Image: Google

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday ka Sizzle

Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err with her
On some other fur?


Elinor Glyn wrote 'Three Weeks' which was the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' in 1907.

Above is a doggerel inspired by her most sensational work, Three Weeks.

It was so amusing I couldn't help but put it up here!

1999 - the year I stopped watching cricket

I was in Karachi in 1999, preparing for my IBA entrance test which meant that I had ample time on my hands to watch ALL the matches of the Cricket World Cup. I was at my grandmother's house and with all cousins over for holidays there was a big, festive gathering which sat down to watch each match. Over tea, snacks and Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate, we discussed the merits of our team versus the rest of the world. 

And what a team it was! A solid fast pace 'killer' bowling attack in the form of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Azhar Mahmood, and Abdur Razzaq. And an equally solid spin attack with the veteran Mushtaq Ahmed and the spin maestro & pioneer of 'doosra', Saqlain Mushtaq. Moin Khan was the perfect keeper. The batting line up had veterans like Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmed and of course Inzi. Lending support to the veterans were Saeed Anwar, Yousuf Youhana and the young Shahid Afridi. What a team! 

It was one of the first (and last) Cricket World Cup in which I followed all the matches, kept a tab on scores of teams, and even made notes of high scoring batsmen and top wicket takers. [Saeed Anwar was one of the leading run scorers in the tournament while Saqlain Mushtaq was among the highest wicket takers.]

Steve Waugh & Wasim Akram before the final.
Our team did surprisingly and amazingly well. The loss to Bangladesh was avoidable but just three losses to the final wasn't so bad. And what a super victory we had over New Zealand in the semi-final! There was no doubt in my mind and probably in the minds of almost all Pakistanis that we were bringing the World Cup home.

The final was a total anti-climax and with a few exceptions, probably one of the most disappointing match I've ever witnessed in my life. It was like our team was drugged or under a spell. When the batting failed, there was hope that the bowling attack will rip the Aussies apart. But it was not to be and we lost, miserably. It wasn't the loss that hurt as much as the manner in which we lost. Every effort seemed half-hearted. It was as if the team had come prepared to throw away the match. 

I don't know why we lost. Maybe the team was suffering from a bad hangover. Maybe they all got off from the wrong side of the bed or a black cat passed in front of the team bus just when they were stepping out to play. Or maybe someone, the captain perhaps, decided to throw away the final to earn an extra buck. 

Whatever it was, 1999 was the last year when I took cricket seriously. 

And in the present circumstances, it seems like a great decision!

Image: Google

Friday, February 20, 2015

Of Rooms and Views

Inspired by the title of the novel, A Room with a View by E.M.Forster  (which was a part of my February reads in the Grand Reading Plan 2015), I came up with some past, desired and present views. 

From a room with a view of sky, sea and sand (Ko Pha Ngan Island)
A view I greatly desire from a room (Laguna Beach, LA)

The view right now.

Note: All pictures are by the author of the blog. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reading Ghalib

I finished reading the biography of Mirza Ghalib titled, Ghalib - The man, the times by Pavan K. Varma. I also went through the Diwan -e- Ghalib simultaneously which made the read very enjoyable. Over the weekend, I'm going to watch the television series Mirza Ghalib, made by the poet-director Gulzar and starring the super talented actor Naseeruddin Shah. Gulzar also had a bust of Ghalib commissioned and installed at the poet's haveli in Delhi. Read more of that here.

This is one of my favourite artwork based on Ghalib's poetry by Abdur Rahman Chugtai. Ripped out of a diary, its been a part of my life since many years and occupies a prominent place in my writing area. 

 

Monday, January 12, 2015

a post-crash confession

In the middle of the afternoon today, I crashed.

It wasn't a physical crash although eventually I did crash in front of my telly and watched a christmas chick flick which incidentally gave me a great idea for my new lamps which are technically not new lamps but a gift from my aunt who is giving away her stuff but in a way they are new.

Why did I crash? Why does one crash? In my case it's usually a combination of pending things to do and things that I AM supposed to do and things I PLANNED to do. When I'm unable to meet the latter, postponing the planned activity day after day after day, frustration builds up and then at the most unlikely moment (which has NOTHING to do with the planned activity), I snap. 

SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!

Emotional snap = morose face and zero response to anything including phone calls from close friends. Also, ignoring hubby.

Mental snap = Self pity, mostly!

Physical snap = Lethargy which usually leads to long periods of time in front of the telly. 

And so I sat for almost three hours, staring at the telly, watching the Top Gear team travel through Rwanda, some bits of the television comedy Web Therapy (which is a great find!) and finally a chick flick. Between the time dinner started and the chick flick ended (roughly ten minutes), I directed all my angst at the remodelling of the lamp shades which I don't want remodelled anymore. And while having dinner I kept thinking I'll probably end up dreaming about the whole fiasco (which, in reality, isn't that big really) and wake up miserable the next day when I heard about the massacre in Nigeria. 

And my snap! moment kind of melted into a little pool of water. The same one in which one is supposed to drown in the Urdu proverb (chullu bhar paani). 

Here I was, twisting my insides over a bloody lamp and there were people in Nigeria, who not many days back, were killed mercilessly and some actually drowned because they were trying to escape being killed by militants? It was like a jolt of electricity. A major wake up call for me. What am I doing? Why am I focusing all my energy on something which is not going to, in any way, change the direction of my life?

So I took a deep breath, smiled at hubby dearest and thanked HIM. Things might not be perfect all the time but they are pretty good and that, I think, will do just fine for now.  
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