Friday, July 15, 2016

What is your favourite building? in pictures

What is your favourite building?

It’s a strange question, isn’t it? One that we never really think about or actually ask people. Do you have one? Think about it. In Karachi? Or in the places you’ve visited over the past few years?

A lot of people might say Burj Khalifa because it’s the tallest building in the world and an engineering marvel. I don’t like it very much. It’s kind of scary. Whenever you look at it don't you wonder how it’s standing up? Aren't you afraid it might come crashing down on the dancing fountain? I do. 

Can the favourite buildings of a friend also become dear to you? I remember seeing the Chrysler building through the eyes of my dearest friend, Samiya. It was through the pictures of her first trip to NYC (maybe in 2002?) that I was introduced to the skyline and architecture of the city in-depth. It didn’t mean much to me then but all I thought of was her when I finally saw the Chrysler building two years back. Or the house of Frank Lloyd Wright, her favourite architect, in Arizona. 

What about buildings in other cities? Maybe the National Art Gallery? It was one of my favourite haunts in London. I loved going there again and again. Whenever I approached it I felt comfortable, as if I’ve come to a familiar place. There was this one time when I rounded the corner and came across it, completely unaware, and it brought a smile to my face. In many ways, that building was the focal point of my everyday exploration of London. 

After giving it some thought I’ll probably say one of my favourite buildings in Karachi is the Hindu Gymkhana which is now NAPA. That is where I hung out with my husband during our courtship period and it was such an important part of my life in the initial years of our marriage. 

I think Atif was right when he said that buildings by themselves don’t carry any meaning. It is only your experiences with that particular building which makes it important for you. We all admire buildings, or are disgusted by them, or just give them a passing glance as we walk or drive by them everyday. But if they are the place where we spent time with a lover, or where we saw our first Van Gogh and Monet - then they acquire a special place in our lives and I guess, become favourites. 

Note: This blogpost was inspired by a conversation with my friend Atif who told me that this is a question in the IELTS speaking test. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

book shots

This was not a part of the 100 books challenge but a selection for the Desi Writers' Lounge Karachi Readers' Club. The book has just got published and we figured it will be a perfect read before we take a Ramadan break. 

As the title indicates, the book is about Mrs. Sharma and her shenanigans. A working woman in Delhi, she has to take care of ageing in-laws and keep an eye on her troubled teenage son while her husband is earning tax free income in Dubai for their 'better' future.

A chance encounter with a young man at the Delhi metro station leads to a series of events which, eventually and predictably, lead to disaster for our protagonist. 

An easy read which gives a sort of sneak peek into the lives of the marginalized in a big city.

Beanbagtales is on Instagram and I'm posting pictures of books recently read with mini reviews or 'book shots'. Some I'll share here on the blog. If you're interested in more clicks on the beanbag then simply follow on Instagram (I take quite decent pictures).

Image by: Me

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Power of BFFs

I'm one of those people who sort of shut down during Ramzan. I call it 'the hibernation mode'. It's the one time of the year when I go nocturnal; all my reading and some writing happens after iftar. Because let's face it, I can't think one creative thing on an empty stomach. My friends will tell you that I become a gorilla when I'm hungry and to save the world from yet another calamity, I tend to spend most of the waking hours of fasting, sleeping. 

So what has fasting and my sleep habits have to do with my BFFs? These past five rozas, I did not just abstain from food and water, I also kind of lay low and didn't talk to any of my friends. Well, most of them are not even in Pakistan and by the time I can figure out the various timezones, it's not the 'decent' hour to make any calls. And five days of not gossiping with my girls turned me into a freak who was talking to herself while brushing her teeth at night!

There was a time, some many years back, when I spoke to my friends everyday for at least an hour. And this was after I had spent most of the day with them in school and later, college. And the next day, we started off from where we left our previous conversation, which was usually a couple of hours old only! 

Owing to marriage, work and in some cases a combination of the two, most of us are now in different timezones. We are 'connected' through the good old WhatsApp group, but exchanging occasional messages and pictures isn't the same as having a good, long, fulfilling talk (which can range from how the kids are doing in school to the husband's frustrating habits and end at how everyone feels about Kim Kardashian's contouring).

Friends, both old and new, are so important in our lives. As a woman I cherish the friends I have whom I can still call and tell stuff that's bothering me, after we've gone over the preliminary conversation about kids (theirs) and weather of course! I'm lucky that I have girlfriends, both old and new, who are willing to listen and share 'stuff' without passing judgement. Just like in the good old days, when we were young and all we had to worry about was grades and nail colour shades and whether any one of us will ever see Sampras play at Wimbledon!  Most of us are scattered in various timezones now but when we get the chance to be together, we continue from exactly where we left off, even if it was a couple of years back.

As far as my freaky behaviour of the night before is concerned, all it required was a powerful dose of BFFs - even if all three of them were in three different time zones!

Note: Yes, I'm sort of binge watching SATC these days. 

Image: Google

Monday, June 6, 2016

Save your story from pneumonia

"Write to please one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia."

(Kurt Vonnegut Jr.)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sunday ka Sizzle

"I got this from Tate Modern because it reminded me of you," said hubby dearest.

I think it was the expression. Or was it the hair?

Portrait of a Young Woman 1935 by Meredith Frampton

Friday, June 3, 2016

Thirty days to a new-ish me

There was a time when writing here wasn't so difficult. The blog is an online diary of sorts which one mostly writes for oneself but also with a faint hope that someone out there in cyber-space will read it, like it, share it and comment on it! Which, of course, doesn't happen all of the time. Or in my case, MOST of the time. And you know in the initial days of blogging, it really didn't matter. What was important for me was to write everyday. No, that isn't correct. Let me rephrase it. What was important for me was to write what 'I wanted' everyday. Over the last year or two, I've become so affected by what other people will think about me, I've not done any 'honest' writing here. When I do write it's with so many ifs and buts in mind that I usually end up not writing a single word. 

I've been struggling with writing for almost my entire life. And isn't it dumb that I'm always thinking about writing but never end up doing it? Maybe I haven't been true to myself about what I really, really want to write about. Do I want to write epic fantasies or chick-lit novels or maybe, literary fiction (gulp!)? Maybe all three or none of the above? 

While driving the other day I heard one of the RJs on City FM 89 say something like how Ramzan is sort of a break from our everyday, all year round-the-clock routine. It's true. For thirty days we get a chance to unwind a bit and get our shit together. Some of us find this the best time to lose weight while others consider this as a chance to reconnect with God. And I thought that maybe THIS Ramzan I, too, can change. No Ramzan Reading Challenge this month, oh no! What I want is to feel different after these thirty days are over. I'm sure I won't turn into a completely different person and that's not what I'm aiming for also. Maybe someone who is at peace with who she is; mind, body and soul. Yup. A simple goal during the one blessed month we have all year. Besides my birth month, of course!