So…grand scale drama at Pakistan airports of late encompassing all adventure elements from terrorizing shoot-outs to angry passengers not getting off the plane to airlines refusing to fly to particular terminals for safety concerns.

I am beyond thrilled. This is too much.

What got my attention the most was the fact that my newsfeed exploded about Tahir-ul-Qadri’s arrival and subsequent ‘bad’ behavior at Lahore Airport. Well, yes, I agree. So not cool. And he got what he deserved – Emirates banned him for life from flying them. So, there. His haters had a field day with that, too – lots of jokes and bad puns and all that jazz, and among that, detailed discussions were held regarding what more will Emirates do to avenge this insult? Discontinue flights operations, perhaps?

Well, that did happen. But amazingly, not because Mr. Qadri had held the carrier hostage. Emirates (and Etihad) declared to discontinue flight operations to Peshawar after a PIA carrier was fired upon there, claiming a passenger casualty. To quote a friend here, “soon there will come a time when even PIA will refuse to fly to and within Pakistan!”

Surprisingly, he was the only one who posted anything about this terrible incident. There was not much in the way of a squeak from anyone else in my newsfeed over this. All the concerned citizens who were uproarious about Qadri’s behavior a few hours ago were – well – quiet. And why not? I mean obviously Mr. Qadri is the real threat to Pakistan’s stability and economy; not the trigger-happy-airport-attacking terrorists.

So now I’m thinking – it is okay to raise hell when there’s potential for character assassination (because we love to mock and belittle people, of course) but absolutely no need to waste time worrying when something truly sordid happens because well…Pakistan mein to yeh sab chalta hi rehta hai. It doesn’t matter if the government continuously fails to protect its people against anything at all. It is okay if the state run police kills unarmed civilians in the name of law enforcement – I mean they were like only eight of them, not like eight million or something! And it is perfectly fine for the government to force passenger aircrafts to land not to the nearest airport but to the one that suits their fancies simply because they are incapable of handling the situation on ground/immature/seemingly democratic with tyrannical mood swings. For PML-N, that’s the second time.

But of course, this is all fine. This is Pakistan. This happens.

Well, there’s one other thing that’s perfectly fine. Tahir-ul-Qadri as part of the country’s political fabric.

I don’t care if TuQ is a mullah (a favorite term with many), and has a beard or is too loud and emotional for my exquisite taste or hails from UK, Canada or Mars – if he is against Taliban and wants to be in Pakistan, he needs to be in Pakistan. And so I welcome him. He can refuse to get off as many planes as he likes because that’s not what will compel airlines to stop flying to Pakistan. No, that’ll be the doing of Taliban and ilk who think it their privilege to wreak havoc in Pakistani air and land space, and the utter incompetence of the government to secure the country against that.

As for the tsunami, the inqilab, the revolution, the blah – get rid of Taliban and their ideology, that’ll be revolution enough for now.

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COOKING & THE MYTH ABOUT LOVING IT

End of May; end of school year; a bazillion grade level send-off activities that all teachers who ever taught my kids throughout the year can concoct, and one of my daughters brings home a recipe that she’s supposed to cook with Mom. Why? And as if that’s not enough, the god-awful paper sheet says ‘make it a fun experience’.

I’m ready to commit suicide. Also, they forgot to include 1 fire extinguisher in the ingredients.

I hate cooking. If I wasn’t brought up on good, healthful home cooked meals and ruined for life for wanting them, I wouldn’t cook. If I wasn’t married to a man who understood good food, I wouldn’t cook. If I didn’t have children whom we’d spoiled and nourished on healthy meals, I wouldn’t cook. Also, I’m educated – unfortunately – and I can read labels and ingredients and health blogs and magazines and oh yes, hubby is a doctor so – if we could consider fast food as food – I. Wouldn’t. Cook!

And then to have my kid with me whilst I cook? Oh sure! What are we cooking? Perfect Chaos with a hint of Hysterical Mother and a side of Don’t Freakin’ Touch That Sharp Thingy glazed with Step The Hell Away From That Stove? How about a tall glass of We’re Never Doing This Again topped with Gritted Teeth to go with it?

Besides, I’m not a fan of that trigger: make it an experience. Why? I don’t want to. What’s with the constant need to add a festive tag to everything we do?

I watch all these cookery shows – yes, I love those and I watch them on a full stomach lest I’m compelled (God forbid) to try any of the dishes they’re showing me how to make – and I listen to all those chefs sharing what an experience cooking was when they were young.

“I always saw Mom cooking something,” declares a celebrity chef proudly as she rinses out her celery, and goes on to elaborate how awesome the experience was.

I can relate to that partly. Mom cooked; always. Because if she didn’t cook, we didn’t eat. It was the same way in her house when Nana cooked; and back in Nana’s house when her mother cooked, and so the tradition had trickled down through generations and households and not just among us but all around us as this was the way of the East. Food from outside was not the norm but a sign of indulgence.

But cooking itself was never an experience as if that word is synonymous to something joyous and festive and fun. It was routine; something that had to be done – like eating or breathing or going to school. I mean of course Mom cooked because well…why wouldn’t she? That was part of her job as Mom. As is now part of mine – or my husband’s or my father’s and they have risen to that occasion countless times – lest a feminist pops a nerve here.

Point is – meals have to be cooked, not bought or ordered. You don’t have to like it; I don’t. And yes, you have to pass on the skill; I will – eventually. But I still don’t see myself making it an experience to cherish and blah. To me, it’s a prerequisite for staying healthy. It’s a prerequisite for good quality family time. It definitely feels awesome when my six year old smacks his lips and declares, “Mom is the best cooker ever!”

So yes, all the things that a home-cooked meal brings to the table with itself are, indeed, to be cherished and amazing and great to experience. But no, not the cutting, the chopping, the blending, the blazing heat of the burning stove, the strong simmering smells that fill my entire house and won’t go away, not the onions that make my eyes water, the meat that won’t thaw in time, not the ticking clock that mocks me more than it helps, and certainly not the dreaded daily question – what shall I cook today?

None of that is a fun experience. And none of that becomes any easier when I have a kid in my kitchen, holding a paper from school that says I have to cook with her and make it a fun experience. Then, I’d rather call up a restaurant and order a take-out.

Now, a clean kitchen – that’s fun 😉

Of Writers & Genres

I was recently tagged in an article that was more a compilation of quotes of some 25 renowned authors. Most of those quotes were dedicated to writing things that haunt us, scare us, upset us; are taboo that nobody wants to talk about. Shock everyone, create controversy and win.

I’m guessing depression sells tons.

Then, somebody left this message for me:

“… write a book on poor, homeless kids of XXX, or anywhere in the world, I am sure you will get a plenty of ‘stuff’ to write about. Use your talents to help the poor and the needy…”

That’s cute. And thanks but no thanks, though, I appreciate the confidence.

I don’t write books about things that scare or upset me. I can’t see why I should. I write about stuff that makes me happy because I believe people need to know that part too about the world I come from. And I believe that that is just as capable of enlightening the readers as the tales of terror and torment that are constantly dished out to portray real life.

Furthermore, if it still needs to be said, real life is made up of sad moments and happy moments, and just because I choose to write about the Happy, doesn’t mean it isn’t real or deep or worth reading about. You can say it’s incomplete, and I’ll say it is just as incomplete as the books dipped in the Sad.

Besides, what if I dedicated my earnings from my happy unreal romcoms to help the needy? Would that help? Or is money earned from romance tainted and can’t be given to charities?

I am amazed at the idea of dubbing one genre more worth one’s while than the other. The why are you wasting your talent by writing This and not That is a rude question. I’ve been asked this enough times to be sore from it.

My answer: because That is not my freakin’ genre.

Every book ever written has a genre, a category: romance, fantasy, humor, drama, horror, creative fiction, non-fiction; the list goes on. Sometimes, the writer chooses a genre but often times the genre chooses the writer. Fantasy chose me. I chose romance. And if you’re a reader who reads neither, steer clear.

Seriously, this is honest advice. I mean well.

Don’t expect Khaled Hosseini to pull off a Tolkien and vice versa because you definitely don’t want to go kite-flying with the Orcs or have them molest a child. Enid Blyton is not Stephen King and will not write Needful Things, and I certainly wouldn’t want to read to my kids about the creatures that might live up Stephen’s Faraway Tree. Sadat Hassan Manto’s idea of love is not what Sophie Kinsella writes about so let them both say what they best believe to be true.

You cannot compare. It is grapes and strawberries. Or grapes and raisins even.

You see, no sensible writer is ever wasting their talent. If I am good at what I write, and the readers determine that and by readers I mean the target market for which I write, then, my talent is not wasted.

If you didn’t enjoy a particular kind of book, and not because it was grammatically or literately atrocious, perhaps it wasn’t written for you. Maybe that book’s genre wasn’t your type. And that’s fine. For every kind of reader there is a writer and for every kind of writer, there is a reader.

It’s all about finding that perfect match.

Just don’t expect a writer to change her genre to suit your fancies. Don’t expect of Jane Austen what you liked about Alistair MacLean, and then demonize her for not doing it right. Shakespeare is nothing but pure genius and if you think otherwise because Hollywood does a better job with drama, your argument is invalid.

The idea is to read and appreciate every writer for what they write best. Now, that will be respectful.

All us writers can live with that 🙂

PS: this post first appeared here.

Mommy Writes.

This blog post is so overdue. I should’ve written it the first time someone told me I need a writing corner to be a writer. Or asked me how am I a writer?

My humble two cents for that person – I don’t have a corner. I have kids. And I am a writer.

I’ve read enough posts and articles on how to be a successful writer to know that none of those will ever work for me because they aren’t written for me. None say oh hey, your kitchen counter is the best desk because it’s close to the goddamn stove! So now you can cook, clean, wash and write. Or did you know that listening to kids radio and watching kids TV even when kids aren’t around is an excellent solo brainstorming session? And of course, you may write every day. But there will always be more days when you can’t write and that’s okay too. For instance – here’s my story with writing a little romance:

I’m all pumped up and ready with my chai and sunlight in my window and my netbook’s working fabulously. The kids are fed and the house is spotless. It’s time to get Aoife and Demon all erotic. I’m thinking hard, picturing him making his move, the warmth of his hands and feel of lips and hearts throbbing and her swooning out of her mind, totally melting and letting go in his arms, his charisma overpowering her, finally she has his heart after much anguish. Finally, her wait is over. Finally, her struggle to make him realize is over!

My words start flowing on screen like a soothing river just when my ten year old sails in and demands to know, “Mommy! How come women had to struggle so much all through history even for basic human rights while men could do all they wanted?”

“Well, darling, because men…because our society…and men, it’s…oh, great.”

There goes my kiss. That ain’t ever gonna happen now. Because now I’m thinking let’s just kill the rascal and see if anyone misses him. No wonder people say I’m good with action and suck at romance.

There’s also this glorious notion put forth by super writers, Stephen King among them, that three months is enough to get your first draft done. No offence to King but his latest books actually seem to have been written in just three months (this one’s for you Shami). AND he is not a housewife.

So, scratch three months. Embrace twelve instead.

The idea is to not give up. Don’t be disheartened if you had to vacuum your car when you really had planned on exquisitely describing how elegant your protagonist’s bedroom is. Maybe you can describe her exquisite car instead.

Also, listen to your kids talking. Often times, they dish out such delicious dialogues, you can literally have your readers smacking their lips. My daughter gave me the term lemonade sky that I used in one of my books. My son asked me if fireflies were really tiny fire fairies. That led me to write about Shimmers…and Demon’s fire sprites.

So, happy housewife-ing and mommy-ing and writing. There’s no one else who can write the way you do so don’t ever stop 🙂

photo image from: http://myliteraryquest.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/first-ever-writer-mom-comic/

Shameless in the Veil

In Taliban’s Pakistan, women will not be allowed to wear jeans but men will be entitled to wearing burqas as and when they please.

According to very terrified sources, men will be encouraged to keep a burqa handy by say, thrown over their shoulder/head/woman so that it’s always within reach in case of an emergency. In fact, every man under Taliban regime will be provided with a zambeel to store his Emergency Exit Burqa. The EEB’s can range from glossy to cotton and from body-hugging to billowing.

When inquired about possible emergencies that may require EEB’s, shunning law-enforcement authorities was number one on the list. When asked, won’t the Taliban themselves be the law-enforcers in their own regime…we were stoned.

Reporting from the grave here. Live at Night.

JAB WE MET

And so Taliban Khan prances towards the entrance to the coveted Cave of Terror. Baad-az-Saat Salaam to the Asst. to the Asst. of Terror Master guarding the gates, and sufficient laanat malaamat on Yahod-o-Nasaar (with the exception of goldsmiths of Britain), he enters.

Meanwhile, Mullah Lal Masjid was spotted harassing his tailor (bazooka blaster on-call) with sticks and stones that would break his bones if he failed to deliver the Mullah’s latest order of a silk Shuttlecock in peacock colors and pure non-Ajami gold threadwork.

Ameer-e-Islami, after caging yet another rape victim along with her three witnesses, was seen spritzing his starched self adequately with khushbo and running out singing Aii Milan Ki Bela!!!

We here are standing by to see what more this circus of Talibans talking to Talibans Only has in store while an army general is due to be hanged in about – now. We request you to please be a true Pakistani and do nothing. Just watch. Do nothing. Be nobody.

(post by My Protest, cartoon by Sabir Nazir)

No Love.

Posted: November 3, 2013 in It angers me...

No Love.

Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October. Washington’s response: a Congressional NO SHOW.

Yes, yes, how hateful of them Amreekeez! Death to them and so on and so forth. But as my friends tell me, I’m wired all wrong. This ‘historic’ hearing raised a lot of questions in my mind – just not maybe the kind you’d want to answer. Buckle up ‘cause here they come:

• Did these brave children appeal to their very own Parliament in Islamabad before going to Washington?

• If not, then why not?

• If yes, then were they heard?

• If they were heard then why were no drones struck down while violating Pakistani airspace?

• Do we not have anti-aircraft guns?

• What about the ones we bring out every twenty-third of every March every year since the dawn of anti-aircraft/drones/whathaveyou guns in Pakistan to terrify India – I mean our enemies?

• By the way, is Waziristan even our jurisdiction? Are they bound by the Constitution of Pakistan the same as the rest of Pakistan?

• If yes, then why can’t we go there?

• If no, then why are they any of our concern?

• If, in any case (moral grounds and such) they happen to be our concern, were there any countrywide anti-drone protests? Any dharnas? Tiny ones the likes of done in favor of NA-250 re-election would do. Where is all that GHAYOOR AWAM?

• Do we have Ghayoor Awam?!

• If we do then how come our politicians are so beghairat when they’re chosen from amongst us?

• How long has Hamdard Khan been in power in KPK now? Why haven’t we stopped the NATO Supply Line already?

• Who in hell goes crying and begging for mercy from the E.N.E.M.Y? Unless it’s not really the Enemy but a SUSTAINER who is showing tough love as punishment for lack of discipline. Or a tyrannical Raja poking fun at his bechari re’aya. In which case, re’aya neither has ghairat nor sovereignty so lose those terms next time you talk about Pakistan.

• Why is it wrong to kill terrorists during ‘peace talks’ or peace process or whatever you call it, but okay to have our ministers and local populace butchered at the hands of said terrorists about the same time?

• Why not just say NO to US money because obviously beggars can’t be choosers. Old cliché; still works.

• Seems to me US of A is the woman in Pakistan’s life – can’t live with her, would certainly die without her since she’s the one who earns and holds the purse strings in the family, hence wears them pants too.

The last one was not a question, lest you go sue me for not putting a question mark at the end of the sentence.

I’m not defending drones. I’m only asking what we are doing about it as Pakistanis in Pakistan. If we don’t have the guts to stand up for our own causes, the world wouldn’t care. So Mr. PM should stop that flood of crocodile tears and keep them handy for a rainy day in his life and man up and bring down a drone if he so hates them.

Now that we know America’s response to our incessant pleas to stop drones – out of 535 congress members, only 5 cared to show up at the hearing – can we now please begin to think?

Have a good brain or day or both – whichever is more valuable for you to have!

To read about the hearing please click http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/29-3#.Um_87hI7l1A.facebook