Friday, April 10, 2015

Tell me....

Tell me, which is the one book you'll always like to have on you? Always. Something you'll never get tired of and which, on each reading (or re-reading) will surprise you. Maybe surprise is too strong a sentiment. Let's say it won't bore you, no matter how many times you go through it. Do you think there is such a book?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

20 minutes

Twenty minutes' sleep. Just a nice doze. In that time I had muffed a job and lost eight thousand dollars. Well, why not? In twenty minutes you can sink a battleship, down three or four planes, hold a double execution. You can die, get married, get fired and find a new job, have a tooth pulled, have your tonsils out. In twenty minutes you can even get up in the morning. You can get a glass of water at a night club - maybe. 

(Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Finding Freedom

How many of us are liberated in the true sense of the word?

I'm not. Not completely. Of course there have been some brief periods in my life when I felt free...but they have been few. Lately I've developed this very bad habit of pondering over everything. What will someone think or say if I wear this? What will that person think if I write on a particular topic? How will I be able to justify to someone my inability to do some xyz task? Is our manner of life correct? Are we not misfits in the family, society, world? Will people be interested in what I have to write? Do I really have a story to tell?

I am plagued with such thoughts almost every single day. Thoughts like these create self-doubt and once that finds roots within you, life becomes hell. When I mull indefinitely over a tweet, a blog post or a story, I eventually end up not tweeting, not blogging and not writing. And thus end up feeding my self-doubt even more. 

It's not easy to liberate oneself. A change of scene is not a solution, as I've experienced because the self-doubt neatly folds itself into your luggage and comes along for the journey. And of course, spoils it. 

So, what to do? After some thought, I've brought it down to these. 

1. Let go. More like.......LET GO!

2. Believe in ME.

3. Always look at the grass on my side of the fence and be grateful for it. 

4. Laugh more. With friends, family, loved ones. 

5. Make no.1 the goal of the year. 

And most importantly,

6. Write. Without shame, without care, without remorse. 

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