Category Archives: My Selfish Diary

10 Things To Improve In Pepsi Battle Of The Bands

Pakistani music happened to me back in 1989 when I was hardly 5 years old and living with my mother in Karachi because my father was and still working in Jeddah. My broken memories of watching PTV in 1989 are a Puppet Show featuring Uncle Sargam, TV drama Jangloos, and songs of Allan Fakir and Mohammed Ali Shehki.

Pakistani pop music culture has always been rich. Many notable music bands became globally known among the South Asian communities like Junoon and Vital Signs. My last fondness towards Pakistani music was in the first decade of this century when many new musical bands emerged like Aaroh, Entity Paradigm, Fuzon, Noori, Mekaal Hasan Band, and Call.

In the recent times, Coke Studio and Nescafé Basement aided and gave favor to the global listeners to observe the quality, richness, and creativity in Pakistani music culture. A further addition to scrutinizing more upcoming talents, Battle Of The Bands has given the nation another musical platform to take the center stage and sought the attention.

Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Pepsi began back in 2002 in one of the local channels. It took 15 years to repackage the whole new competition under the same name and sponsor. Why season two came that late? I really don’t know but I will say it was a musical tragedy given the fact that the toppers from the inaugural season were Aaroh, Entity Paradigm and Mekaal Hasan Band and such competition didn’t return in the times when Pakistani music was beginning to decline. Imagine if PBOTB was happening every year, how many brilliant bands had emerged.

With two fresh seasons in two years, the audience has realized that Pakistani music is knocking the global doors and they have talent enough to mesmerize the listeners. Kashmir and Bayaan have deservingly won their respective seasons and hearts. And with such a magnitude of success, PBOTB has a lot of promises to attract the viewers.

But the producers/show-runners of PBOTB need to focus on this whole arrangement of the show. There are a few issues which they need to work on if they have to grab and attract more viewers and collect more critical appreciation.

This blog is about the factors which can make this show more impressive and raise its rank. I am forwarding 10 important points PBOTB needs to focus on when they begin working on the fourth season.

10. NO BIZARRE AUDITIONS

This point is not meant to fume insult nor I am encouraging to mock the participants. But this is everywhere. Some performances really come up contrary to our expectations. The performance could have been better but sometimes turn out to be actually funny or weird.

We like to see the reactions of the judges and how they respond to the artistic disaster. From the marketing point of view, such auditions can be covered in the episode to make the viewers observe how the platform didn’t enjoy the justice and the band miserably failed to perform. Millions of viewers love to watch funny auditions or funny moments in a musical show on the social media no matter how old those videos are.

09. CHANGE THE HOST AND THE DIALOGUES

I may be taken rudely by the readers to reflect this point. Ayesha Omer is a very popular name in Pakistan showbiz but I strictly believe that she hasn’t done justice with the hosting role in both the seasons. The problem is not if she lacks glamour as she is a very charming personality. The problem is that she looks very under qualified or unfit for hosting a musical series focusing on the bands. This is not her cup of tea.

Plus the dialogues written for Ayesha Omer are very flat, old and monotonous. She states the obvious. Some buddy please change this phrase, “Don’t Go Anywhere, We Will Return After A Short Break”. How is this tiresome line still acceptable in 2018?

If the show presenter fails to serve the viewers and get their attention, it will be boring to listen to her and wait for her departure to enjoy the show. In my opinion, Anoushey Ashraf or Mathira will do more justice hosting a musical show.

08. RESTRICTED MUSICAL VARIETIES

Alright, this is the battle between the bands. And we have discovered numerous promising bands on this platform who will give their fans pleasure on their beats. But I have observed that every band who is showing up is restricted to the understanding of the musical band. Under the inception of bands, no one is trying to do something different.

The bands either turned Western, performed rock and tried to be loud or went completely opposite i.e., either went Eastern Classic or focused on Sufi. How many musical instruments have been tried by all the bands in these two seasons? Almost every musical band have their members on the set of different guitars, keyboards, and drums. Fine! I am not complaining. These are the basic instruments for helping in composing any track. But why most of the bands do not think out of a parameter. How many bands came up with the idea of playing the flute, violin, mouth organ, trumpet, bongo, or harmonica?

I am not asking to bring a grand piano to the stage and play. But what my ears want is to be seduced by a composition which gives freshness, a new feeling. They are selling the same product in different ways.

The upcoming bands must learn from Meesha Shafi! Unorthodox and giving music a new space, a new dimension. In the finale of season 2, she performed with a speaker and had a guy on the saxophone. In the finale of season 3, Meesha Shafi, in one of the darkest and the deepest tracks ever composed, introduced Tibetan bowls in Pakistani music.

Then there is a performance factor. Most of the performances by the bands on the stage were dull. The craziness and excitement were generally low. Tamasha band in the season 3 was the rare case who performed with the needed passion.

07. REDUCE THE EPISODE MINUTES

Why the episode has to be of at least 80 minutes? Why not reduce to 40 minutes? Do the bands need to perform a full song? Let’s assume if every band comes to the stage to perform for 5 minutes that means approximately 13 or 14 performances are covered each episode which is quite less. And this is what I am talking about an 80-minute episode.

The format and the continuity needs a helping hand, an idea or an approach to construct an episode with more ingenuity. In your limited presentation, you sometimes lose the purpose. I would rather agree on 16 episodes of 40 minutes instead of 8 episodes of 80 minutes. The other reason for keeping the episode that long is because the participants are less. But why less?

06. LIMITED CONTENTS

The hype you build among the viewers, the sources applied to the show are very limited. Only 8 episodes in almost 45 days! Each episode of at least 80 minutes! There were a host and a quartet of judges. The bands came and gave a full performance. The judges judged, off the bands went, “meet you in the next episode”, and curtains. That’s it?

The creative team should work and bring more ideas in the programming to add more content in such a lengthy episode. Not saying to make the show fake and dramatic as it happens in many musical shows. But the audience today need add-ins. Show the audience behind the scenes, reactions, their stories, from where they came from? How difficult has been this journey? What were they before they stepped to this platform? Show the discussions between the judges on and off. Between the screen time, share some past memories and achievements in Pakistan music culture. Give some interesting facts about the show and the judges with time.

Why did we only meet the families of the toppers in the grand finale? Why not give a couple of minutes of personal segments from some of the bands? Some musical stories are painful, some band members have a few lines to say. They can be covered, why not? Give some feeling, put some money on the contents to make the episode more exciting.

05. ADD MORE LOCATIONS

Apologies if my knowledge is incorrect but I think most of the participants from the different cities have traveled to Karachi to perform in the auditions. I think it is better if the panel of jury tour themselves to 3-5 most important cities. Not all the musical bands are financially stable enough to travel the city for the auditions. But Pepsi can afford expenses, right? The concern should be that Team PBOTB cover most of the bands in their cities. There is every chance that those bands who are financially poor are more talented than the toppers.

If Team PBOTB tour to the cities, there is a chance that those bands who had excuses to travel can save the expenses and participate straight to their city and try their luck. With more opportunities open, the judges will get to catch more attention and make their selections more easily.

In my opinion, the five most important touring cities should be Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Quetta, and Peshawar. Bring three of the best bands from each center. Then do your general proceedings with 15 best talents in your show.

04. RIDICULOUS FINALE WIND-UPS

I am sure many of the readers will agree here with me that the ending of the finale episodes of both season 2 and 3 was pretty ordinary. With such a tremendous hype built in the show and on the social media, millions of viewers watched the grand finale of the seasons and impatiently spent their 80 minutes and waited for the grand announcement. When the winner was announced; multi-colored paper confetti were released, the prize cheques to the toppers were handed and the trophy was lifted by the winner, and then the hosts concludes the show. This all happened in two minutes.

We noticed even the families of the toppers stepped to the stage after the announcement to meet their loved ones. The hosts could have bothered asking hardly a couple of questions on the stage to them but didn’t.

What the show-runners should do is give some respect to the toppers and let them speak some lines about these moments. Show their celebrations behind the scene after the conclusion of the show. Allow or request the toppers to send a motivational message to the coming bands and future participants.

03. RAISE THE PRIZE MONEY, FFS!

To be perfectly honest with you, any figure in the prize money less than a Crore rupees is awful, contemptible and revolting, keeping in mind that this musical series is produced by none other than *drum rolls* PEPSI!

The runner-up gets 25 Lac (0.25 Crore) rupees and the winner gets 50 Lac (0.50 Crore) rupees with an album deal, concerts across Pakistan and lifetime royalties. 50 Lac? What is 50 Lac in 2018? And remember, this 50 Lac is not for an individual but for the band. No matter how many members exist in the band, this amount will definitely be divided.

The producers should consider this matter and improve the figures. Because when the viewers across the world notice and realize how much amount the toppers are winning in their currency, their jaws will drop.

02. LACKS FEMINISM

It is a sorry state that despite 71 years have crossed to the country’s inception, most of the women still do not have the freedom to make their own decisions, choose their careers and ambitions, befriend a man, go in a relationship, choose or wish someone her husband. And when it comes to the art, more objections are compelled and the doors are closed by their own families. Singing, dancing, and modeling for a woman in many houses become a family issue with the hashtag #LogKiyaKahenge (what will people say).

And this is the very critical reason, that only 4 women have participated in a total of 2 seasons; Mehek from Naksh Band and one from Roots in season 2, and Ifra from I.F.R.A and one from Kaghaz. Only 4 women!

If mixing with men into a band is making them insecure or putting their families in an uncomfortable position, or raising eyebrows in their concerned mohalla, then why a group of women is still not coming up with the idea of forming their own band? Just like the All Girl Band or The Cheapmunks in Pakistan. Sometimes I wonder how Benjamin Sisters marked their presence on the national television to the viewers in the late 70s and early 80s.

The show producers cannot do anything about this matter. Women in Pakistan are equally capable like men in arts and need no references from me as there is an open treasure of vast talents. If the education can really change the way of thinking, if the thinking among the people can change with time, then time will tell how many women will be stepping ahead to the platform and how many families will be in an agreeable position to support their women.

01. WHERE IS THE AUDIENCE?

My number 1 issue with the show is that despite being a musical competition between the bands, it is terribly silent. Whenever the bands finished performing, it was awkward to listen only 5 pairs of hands clapping in the studio like the raindrops knocking your window. It was a musical tragedy for not adding the audience when it needed the most.

Season 2 HAD audience straight from the 3rd episode once the judges were done with the auditions in the first two episodes. But the whole season 3 gave you the theatre rehearsal feeling. It is always exciting to listen to the boos and hoots and roars in a musical show. Audience repeatedly shouting and chanting the names of their favorite bands or their favorite lead vocalist.

How exhilarating and sensational was listening and watching Asrar perform Lajpaal Ali or Call perform Jilawatan on TV in season 2. Imagine the environment installed during these numbers in the studio last year. The attendees with uncontrollable adrenaline in a captivating ambiance.

Imagine if the audience was allowed this year and were to be blessed with the performances by Tamasha. The show-runners should not attempt this gaffe when the show returns for season 4 next year.


Through this blog, I would like to congratulate both the toppers of this season, Xarb and Bayaan, and wish them all the best in the commencement of their promising careers. Also, the bands who lost in the knockout phases, this is an experience to take with you for a lifetime memory. And is also not the end of your musical expedition. You are blessed with a platform which millions have watched and observed you. Continue doing wonders, some wise financiers will surely ring you in the near future. Those who left in the auditions, never mind and return next year strong with more improvement. The other musical doors and platforms are also opened to try their luck.

If any of the 10 points are taken seriously and are considered to work on, I hope the show will improve more and acceptable with further positive critical reception.

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My Selfish Diary: Romance Catoholics

In the kingdom where I breathe a confound alfresco, the personal and working life of the born-and-raised expats like us are at a question mark; and being the custodian of our fates, us millennials borrow some time to think on the brink because the bettering dreams turning into shattering dreams is a realization that the hope is hopped in our recession.

Although, beneath the line of soliloquy, an expat like me try to focus on plethoric theories to heal the gashes of the unwanted past and favor the time to catch a train of well-wishes. No matter how cruel how pollute the world becomes, do good and have good and leave it on God.

My best friend Liza and I are devoted cat lovers since childhood. Being sensitive to the most innocent and loving creatures in the world, we have lost our pets in front of our eyes but strived to make the better of few of the cats who caught our attention. I have come to various incidents in serving, rescuing and paying my last respects to the cats in my life. Once my family pet 21 cats at home due to the birth of few of the cats helping in multiplication but we didn’t give up during our never-ending financial crisis. We gave our pets a combined respect and sent each of them to a German lady who served animal welfare and care. May Lord bless that lady. It was a decade ago, now who knows how many of them are…

Liza with her family moved out from the kingdom for good. She has settled in the Pacific and eight months later has returned back for mere a month to meet her parents and kins. My sin is that when she was leaving, I couldn’t meet her. But when she returned, she was busy to schedule our reunion for the sake of our old friendship saga which originates since we were hardly a year old.

Yesterday night (18.04), when Liza had an outing with her family, spotted a pair of beautiful adult cats in their cat tree but to a major surprise, there was no individual on the street keeping the pets. Which clearly meant that someone dropped such adorable cats in their tree on the street and left for God knows what reason. Liza was agitated and mutilated at the same time due to the fact that she herself cannot do anything about the cats because she herself is staying with her family.

Liza messaged, sent the pictures of the poor and sought if I can look after these but I excused for having 10 cats at my own home; the numbers enough to refuse the others. She was very perturbed and distressed repeatedly thinking about the fate of those cats. The cats were silent and weren’t leaving more than few inches from their tree. I advised her to ask someone at this hour of time if anyone, by any good luck, can foster these.

It had been hours and during midnight, at my usual routine of playing FIFA17 at PS4, Liza messaged me and asked for help all of a sudden. My eyebrows grew more hair to learn what on earth had come up as late as 1.30 am. She responded that she want to drop those cats to someone who has agreed to foster the cats at this hour of time. *Yawn*

When the world is sleeping to wake up early for the prayer, for the work, for waking up the kids for the school, there are some rare breed of inhumans, I mean humans,  in some very interesting part of the world who are eager to rescue the cats and drop them at the safest place possible.

Being a huge comic books reader, I realized that I have learned more humanity and aimed to do better things in life than I was ever taught in school. Serving for good has boosted my enthusiasm and helped me follow my omens. At such a time when I used to lie on my bed, I decided to help her and rescue the cats.

To reach as quick as possible, I drove the car in haste and completely forgot that there was a speed breaker in one of the area streets where I use to drive daily towards my office every morning. The car badly hit the speed breaker and the reason of installing such thing was completely fulfilled. I cursed myself and patiently drove the next moments. In 15 minutes, I collected her from her cousin’s residence and this is how Liza and I reunited and saw each other again.

My car is driven on the sleeping streets occupied by the sound of silence. The city of Jeddah gives you freshness when you drive towards the seaside especially at midnight but here the rescuers were very fresh for the purpose. Unluckily, she forgot the spot where she was hanging with her relatives an hour ago as the place was very unfamiliar to her plus she had no internet on her cell phone. Also, was I having the luxury of losing the lifeline of the cell phone as I didn’t charge the battery due to an unexpected twist at the eleventh hour. All she knew was that the place is nearby the seaside. After a 15-minute drive, Liza called someone and collected the instructions of heading towards the destiny where we realized that we were going precisely opposite.

At King Abdul Aziz Road, I was supposed to take u-turn just before Al Manar Car Wash but instead, took u-turn after Stars Avenue Mall and drove towards Tahliya Park and Salaam Park situated in the Andalus district. The time was running and so were our heart beats because the presence of the scared cats at the spot was at risk.

I drove back and reached the spot where she had witnessed those cats. To our utter good luck, the cats were there in their tree. The pair were so scared that they weren’t popping out of their tree and had severely low cries. When Liza lifted the tree, the cats neither popped out nor hit the paws to her. They were lying inside the tree, no movement. She easily dropped the tree in the back seat and we left the spot.

  

We thanked God that they were safe and had no sign of abuse. I don’t know the class or the breed but the cats were very beautiful. The rescue attempt was half done and there was every possibility that while I drive the car, the cats may release themselves from the prison of the tree and get panic. The whole destiny while returning back, the cats made not a single attempt of escaping from the car again indicating how frightened these creatures were.

Now that ‘someone’ who agreed to foster this ongoing midnight was never met by Liza nor did she know where was she living. She had the coordinates but had no internet. I had the internet but didn’t have enough battery in the cell phone to follow the next coordinates. So she was unable to send me the coordinates, nor was I able to match the address on my app. There was no shop nearby and I was still expecting a razor paw or a love bite on my neck coming from the back seat.

The madness prevailed us to type every single unit, letter, and punctuation to form a coordinate on my app which was very bizarre. The idea didn’t make any sense but we had to act swiftly because the time had crossed 2 in the morning, the foster lady was waiting, the petrol of my car was alarming, and the paws on my neck was anytime incoming. Soon as we typed the whole address and clicked for the directions, the mobile lost its life and slept.

Liza suggested stopping the car at any shop so she buys the card to charge the internet because we had no other option. The card was bought, the internet began working on her cell phone, so were the coordinates. I drove on Liza’s directions and guess what! the destiny was a couple of kilometers away from my own home.

We reached the destiny and I parked the car on the corner. The cat tree was removed from the car and one of the cats did panic and struggled to pop out and escape the situation. She controlled and carried the weight; and disappeared into the building. Ten minutes later, she returned with a huge smile on her face and the rescue attempt was complete. We together declared “We Did It”. It was a joyous and emotional moment. We felt extremely, immensely, and supremely blessed. No matter how many bad deeds we have done in our life but there are some good deeds we are manifestly proud of.

 

God is the witness that in the humming chore of sleeping homes where the residents borrowed time to fulfill their dreams and wake up for their offices, schools, prayers and different purposes, there were two passionate cat lovers who considered no unwillingness and gave the pair of poor cats their new guardian who may/will treat them better than their former guardians. They were not our pets nor were we anything to them but it was the concern which clouded with the chance of rescue.

I dropped her back home and the time was around 3 in the morning. It was an unforgettable night. Perhaps if I had not helped her, she would have increased her blood pressure or killed her brain in developing theories or over thinking all the possibilities and plausibilities over the situation on that street; and at the same time, I may have felt guilty not to help her and the cats while struggling to sleep. Our nights were abnormally lengthy and we surely slept in our homes in peace after a very long time.

My Selfish Diary: Placate the Spectre

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Breathing a polluted age of ignorance is a confounding experience. I observe more and learn nothing. Treasures of the endorsed festivities are devaluing and the ranks of discipline among the hoppy generations collapsing. People who lack money and power are atoning. The word ‘regret’ has its own dictionary and level. The patience is pleading, the patient is bleeding. Blood on the street is more than in the hospital. The population is increasing and rate of employment is decreasing. This is like a man alive in his grave struggling to come out of the box because he knows he can live more and die later. But what if he comes out of the box? Will his fellow creatures accept and agree his survival?

Now I hair more on me face than I used to on the skull. I dig pictures on Facebook of recent past like a couple of years ago and see my physical transformational downfall. My thinking clouds produce more heavy rainfall than the aggregate raindrops of Sri Lanka in an entire year but my head hardly gets wet. I do not get the courage to step up and make my mind what exactly I want because I am disturbed by everything surrounding me.

Most of the people nowadays are not noble, don’t have a good heart and are also not respectful. Lying is exhilarating and dying is an extended version of grieving ceremony. Exchange of regards have unusual dance moves and fast-food is delicious enough to fart my sweet acidity. When I try something in life, judges on the streets have a double-look and smiles are wide. I wear a beanie cap out of context without following season because I don’t folking care. I just love wearing this cap because it facially completes me and defines differently. Now the judges on the floor behave like a curmudgeon falling from a banana skin. I enjoy the curiosity on the contrary note because this is my folking life.

In recent days I planned to watch classic films of Dustin Hoffman and after a long time, I watched Midnight Cowboy. Jon Voight played the leading role. He was a cowboy from Texas seeking work opportunities in New York. With all the excitement on his face hoping for a new career, things didn’t work and get frustrated living a new yorker life. That drop of emotional complexion is what among the millennials today. The world to us is quite a complicated and hopeless case.

A few days ago I happened to know what craziness everywhere is with the game Pokémon Go. I had no single idea of the game which has taken the world follow it madly everywhere especially on the streets which are some alarm to a social life. By realizing its features and by knowing how exactly this game is played, I was lost for a second. How far has the world gone from making logic? What the folk is wrong with people? I can easily distinguish two different classes of humans nowadays.

On one hand, there is a chaotic world where people are killing each other and both parties don’t even know the purpose behind this. Too much terrorism is disturbing the planet and a general life of a common man. There is too much ego and anger involve that installing or restoring peace between the two has become highly unlikely. While on the other hand, there is a very interesting generation who are roaming the streets, the malls and public places to catch the victims on their smartphones. To what level of craziness an app can take the entire human race!?!

By gaining weight and becoming lazy, I have temporarily stopped following google maps for interesting sites in the kingdom which is another minus to my mood. Globetrotting is a mood swinger which gives you fresh energy. Now I need coordinates for peace where I can listen to myself and follow it. I need fresh air with a bottle of alcohol with a beautiful lady beside me who can understand me, who can accept me, who can become a morphine and please to me.

But it is hard in a cruel world full of hatred and hypocrites because the faith and loyalty nowadays bargain at a cheap price. Meaning and importance of love have been damaged, sincerity has dropped and commitment has no word of mouth. Internet freedom has made things a lot easier to corrupt the word ‘LOVE’. You have more choices of rejecting and accepting a person with the least and easiest excuse that the one to whom you were in relation didn’t stand for you even if you were blatantly wrong. Love is a subject and adultery is the real business of frustration.

If we carefully notice then the newest generation of youngsters is more impatient and frustrated than the older one used to be. Internet freedom is one reason above but other genuine reasons easily are the usage of mechanism in their earliest ages which is making them clever, wit and fast but at the same time they are growing more hyper-tense than the old ones. Today a two-year-old kid can explain to the elders the salient features of smartphones. The kingdom where I live, children of 15 before the turning of new millennium weren’t that bound to television sets and watching films due to many reasons, and one of the reason is lack of TV sets at homes but now a child of 8 uncontrollably can download a film of his choice by illegal source and watch. I sense with the passage of time, nothing will be in our control. The human-made machines will kill the race and generations and we will not have a space of time to blame ourselves. It is an ugly truth.

I do not borrow commitments to tweet a decades-long relationship with ladies because there is no promise to muster my courage to betray the loyalty. Being healthy is when you are at your desiring peace. Fulfillment of lust has more promise than odd expectations in fake relationships. An honest reason to why a man fond of woman’s beauty fall prey to exotic dances and strip shows.

After losing the gem of my life, I don’t desire an espousal but a relationship before a possible nuptial. Because for me, it is disloyalty of love to consider someone for the rank I chose the one I loved the most and lost in brutally unamiable way. And secondly I believe in freedom of choice for both, the lady should have potential enough to replace her which is highly unlikely and I should be good enough for her that she will see her happiness in me.

Folk the love! What am I now? My eyes are catching artificial attractions everywhere I go. Women with crystal looks, deceptive faces full of makeup, winterful smiles, and a rainbow of huge bags are a source of blessing to my punctured and penetrating eyes. Why not is it pleasant? I don’t see any harm if my intentions were not to hurt her or spoil her mood. It is not the love I seek, but the curiosity of eyes I speak.

Jeddah is a potential metropolitan city. It’s nights on the busiest commercial roads are jazz to my ears. Sporadically when I plan to drive the popular and busiest streets of the city at night, I am lost. At that time when I am driving my vehicle, my ears play Bernard Herrmann‘s marvelous saxophone-theme of Taxi Driver. I feel myself Michael Caine driving a classic Aston Martin DB4 or a Mini Cooper S. That is some source of relaxation and comfort.

If you are mentally disturbed and need a peaceful mind, I advise you to listen to Jazz music. Jazz is the best source of music when you need to come out of stress. I recommend you to listen Miles DavisKind of Blue and some other phenomenal numbers of Thelonious Monk and Adderley Brothers.

I quest the eternal spots of repose and solace to relinquish the dystopia. In a bad mad world, the sound of seashores is more pleasant than the sound of silence; farm and cottage houses build on my masonry is a willoughby. A library of books, a shelf of action figures and comic books, a hologram light of Batman in the corner, a Jazz or Opera to my eardrums, four walls covered by frames full of historic wars and portraits, a hookah near my chair, a beautiful charming girl in her lingerie posing a centerfold near the fireplace is my ideal room with a view.

Scold my wonders but no abuse as I articulate my wish and borrow some time for eternal merriment. In my hemispheres, dictating emotions are sharper than a sword, silence is just a roof of all hurrahs. Peace and jazz of my borrowed life are just an endorsement which will swiftly and repeatedly ask me the same question all my life.

I AM SAMI NAIK


 

 

The Green Passion

The place where I open my eyes… The place where my father was allowed to earn his livelihood, to bring his spouse and make his family…. The place where their people allowed to have my own national school and complete my education….

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The place where Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.) was born… The place where Islam was born and the God’s message revealed… The place where earth’s two of the three holiest mosques Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi are protected by those who call themselves it’s custodians…

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The chosen nation whose chosen leaders not only serve their people but the entire Muslim brotherhood by providing you the best possible service in your Umrah and Hajj… Whose leaders invest billions and billions of dollars in holy mosque expansions to facilitate our prayers and worships…

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It has been 85 years when King Abdulaziz announced the country as a kingdom. There is no such example where the religion and its followers are served in that massive capacity with token of respect… And today we celebrate this day with love and respect…

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Saudi National Day 2013

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May God bless my Kingdom of Saudi Arabia….

May God bless my King, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman ibn Abdulaziz al Saud

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Follow me on twitter @saminaik_asn

My Selfish Diary: Chasing the Time

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In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on” (Robert Frost)


Chasing the Time…

The title says it all. We all earthlings are chasing the time, questing for happiness, hiding our tears, hoping for peace, begging for mercy, seeking a justice, digging our graves, listening to the whispers, silencing the outcry, watching the cruelty, praying the pardon, facing the warned….

But above all…

We are chasing the time…

And this chase continues and time keeps defeating us again and again and again.

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There was a home where I came to my senses, and I began completing my tenses. I began learning how to eat and wear the clothes, I began reading how to become able to life by …….. passing your academic exams. I began searching the lost soul of wisdom. I began dreaming high where the guardians forbid. There was a home where I celebrated my birthdays as the years went by and never realized that a year of my life existing on earth had its final say. There was a home where I came to an age of enticement and abide.

 

But there was a home where I never came to understand, I never came to realize that all my life was a ‘bloody LIE’, deceived by my own, humbled by a beast within me, truth never exposed or juxtaposed, cries never listened but heard… Yes… there was a home, missed by miles. Held my nerves, breathed and carried on.
There was a home I lived for two decades, where I began to talk, where I began to read and write my name, grew up, succeeded and lost….. Then all of a sudden in 2004, I lost my home… I lost my world… I lost my shelter… My eyes saw it destroyed, had no power to stop… Held my nerves, breathed and carried on.


The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed” (Eminem)


Indeed justification of life is unpredictable. And that is what happened when I lost that 20-year-old home. I had never expected what was coming in next 10 years. My family in the Kingdom then faced the most expensive outcry of breathing the alfresco i.e., the home I lost was not the last I moved. We were bound to change our residence three more times in next 8 years.

It was 12,000 SAR yearly rent of my 20-year-old home, a decade later I recently moved to my 5th home with a yearly rent of 26,000 SAR… For the first time in 30 years, I left the area where I grew up because of recent house-shifting crisis. And for what reasons?? Lemme blog out…

It was a perfect FML script written by someone above the rainless clouds. So allow me to speak a chapter of a turnaround in one expat family.

For years, we fed a cat since the day it began shouting from the back base of our building. It began climbing the stairs and sensed the familiar scent at doorsteps. It became a routine and soon all neighbors realized the cat-human real-life bond in their building. It became a disturbance, kids of our neighbors got scared and routinely began shouting all over the building.

Time passes by and natural phenomena began to reveal from the cat’s belly. It became a threat for us as we knew from our old experiences that cat never bore less than two kittens at a time. She gave birth to six kittens down the backyard of the building. Three of these died earlier but the rest also began to tweet the mother. Neighbors blamed the running circus on floors of building on us and warned they would kill all of these creatures if we didn’t manage to keep these stay away from the stairs. So we were bound to pet four kittens last year and they grew to adult age. This re-state of keeping cats as pets was not that expensive like before but of course, money talks.

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Now let’s walk the talk. This last residency was a fly drown in a glass of water. In the beginning, the man to whom we signed the contract, left the building in few days and we realized that there is some years-long rift between him and his brothers. We kept receiving threats from his mental brothers to leave the spot but threats were harmless. Once one of them took my brother to the counselor and things were not that same. It was hard to consider another shifting of residence in such an expensive living environment.

A couple of months ago, my mom left to India after a long waiting state of applying for the visa. Soon she left, a couple of cops marched our doorsteps in few days to leave the building asap. It looked alarming situation but we were confirming from the owner of the building. The day came when the owner gave the painful briefing to leave the building in not more than a week. A week!!!!

The owner was in a very sorry state with the explanation that his brother registered the property case on his brother in court and a short notice issued to evacuate the building in a week. The quarrel was blundered between the brothers but the most to a gash and suffer were we the tenants. With heart in our mouth, here began Wacky Races between the tenants of searching their next residency with a global-warming acidic yearly rent to confront.


 “Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor” (Sholom Aleichem)


Due to big-money rent pay involve in every ‘House for Rent’, the option to leave our area of 3-decades-stay become mandatory. It was the most disappointing search due to the reason. I was observing where the world is meeting its end, where are we going, how things are getting expensive, how life is getting complicated. With all our efforts to make a flat our home, we somehow began struggling to look for a new flat to pretend it a home and chasing the time again.

Then comes another painful time when we paid our final goodbye to our first ever car. 1982 model of Mazda 929 was our very first car bought back in mid 90’s. My father, myself and my brother learnt driving and the vehicle became the base of our normal routine with millions of golden memories. Last decade, it couldn’t afford the strength enough to stay long with us with many problems. It became a patient with regular medic visits. Later on, we bought Chevrolet Optra 5 years ago. We became used to of it. Then I bought Hyundai Veloster last year and then this Mazda became a history. Dead for a long time, the goodbye was very emotional. The dead car was in such a shape to bring a feeling as if a long-run loyal and faithful horse is finally giving up life to its owners.

Father has his final goodbye to a car which stayed almost two decades with many golden memories
Father has his final goodbye to a car which stayed almost two decades with many golden memories

As the days passed by, the short notice period came close to our throats. The cruel the nature of terrible fate was the absence of a wife/mother at home which was enough to break us badly. The quest of shelter continued and survival of the fittest finally met in last remaining 120 hours (almost close to Aaron Ralston’s fate).


Often when we lose hope and think this is the end….GOD smiles from above and says, ‘Relax, sweetheart, it’s just a bend, not the end!’” – Unknown


Living in Faisaliyah district, once questing in Bawadi district meeting a disappointment and returning back with a kind friend helping me in my quest. I was about to take a u-turn to my home with a mourning face to end another day in grief unfinished business, struck a hammer on my brain to take my chance near to Al-Salamah district with few remaining minutes to Maghrib prayers. The questing session in Al-Salamah looked fade with no sign of hope as usual until our eyes met a building with a signboard ‘House for rent’. ’twas like if the most beautiful girl offered me her life…..

Anyhow the location was observed and was far beyond than a level of satisfaction. This home was bought with no waste of time in taking the decision at 26,000 SAR (after bargaining btw). The next challenge was……….. shifting without mother!!!

To our good luck, when shifting was to be done, the weekends were about to began with the most possibility that our friends will help us in such critical situation. And that did happen, saying a humble ‘Thank You’ wasn’t enough nor was I able to make words or phrases to express the support I received from them.

A large vehicle was too expensive and unaffordable. So the camel of a carriage was one of our friend’s pickup. So expectations of numerous rounds of shifting were already expected, and efforts of more the time-consuming on moving and dropping objects at a pace were on the count. We had enough friends to help us on that particular weekend of exhaustion and combustion.

The real session was taking all the home stuff from top floor to base. Plus the packing especially the kitchen accessories required mom’s assistance. In her absence, my father and brothers had to repeatedly co.ordinate with her on Skype, through a video chat she had to view every inch of shifting stuff and decide what to reject or not. Thanks to technology which made it lil easy to co.ordinate our complicated home shifting without her presence but presence.

The interesting scene was of cabinets of the kitchen. The newly bought home had only one cabinet. Buying the new was within our financial reach, the only idea brought things to accept reality was to take the existing cabinets with us. My father proposed this idea and my brother seeking permission from the owner, he gave his consent. Within few minutes, the owner called and gave us consent to take all the cabinets (he did permit to show his anger for sure on his brother’s case filing attempt). Opening the cabinets, you need a special mechanism to un-wall. Our pickup friend helped out, with other friends altogether put the heavy labor of hours to take household shape in our matters.

Under 48 hours my father and our friends had unscrewed all major furniture and fittings, every single piece was poured down from one stair to another. Housing in 2nd floor, a friend proposed an idea that each of us must stand on each corner of stairs down till the pickup and movement of objects can be made faster in different hands at a time. The plan worked, energy saved, morale boosted. In almost three days, the whole of household items was moved. Physical exhaustion had its peak.

Not one but four tenants were shifting the same day... absolute madness!!
Not one but four tenants were shifting the same day… absolute madness!!

The view of home shifting in the building was an absolute madness. It was expected that moving of tenants within a week will make things look abnormal but one brother’s fight for power and hunger for money messed the whole situation with the funny part that he himself was the tenant of this building. They were four brothers in all once living in this building, the rest you may understand…

The day shifting began, was the day of presenting household items in shape of an open exhibition. Not only were we moving our stuff with a pickup waiting outside, also were three other tenants joining the household labor parade with two trucks parked and congested the place with no cars to move a big space. The 4-tenants open exhibition produced a dozen labors plus ourselves bringing down the items, and a lively atmosphere of children of tenants playing outside. It was an outcry.


Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life” (John F. Kennedy)


With the beginning of a new week by night, we introduced all of our four cats to the new home. Naturally, they didn’t accept the change. Confound and feeling betrayed, sniffing and wandering. With new home installed on the ground floor, guests of Al-Salamah were about to face their toughest challenge, meet the local cats of Al-Salamah. The local salamah.fm began to invite the outbreak outside our home, as the local cats surrounding outside the netted balcony looked like the White Walkers of ‘Game of Thrones’.

Tabby a.k.a. Chipku
Tabby a.k.a. Chipku.. Recognize it in a picture above

With all the cats struggling to accept the change, one of these could not qualify and met to its disaster. Rebuilding a new enthusiasm of unpacking, screwing and placing all the items, we fell mentally disturbed towards the nature of this cat. Unnaturally it went shouting for 12 straight hours. The next morning my father began shouting that it was hitting his head on the wall and walking like a blind. He was right, that cat dramatically lost his eyesight, he wasn’t able to see or understand what lies ahead of its walk anymore.

In few hours, we met another sign of horror from it, the cat was now not even sensing normally. Shaking, moving its head, lying like a dead, eyeballs getting wide and not attending us like before. We rushed to the vet clinic where the doc stated a temporary brain injury by perhaps a hit on its head allowing blindness. Brain injury meant it would not last for long. We could not hold tears and return home hopeless.

The other story broke in India when I came to know that mom had a terrible sprain on lumbar spine which pulled her nerves. She wasn’t able to walk or sit. Therapy was going for weeks. She didn’t inform us due to our shifting crises. My mother could have completed her therapy in India with a genuine delay, but yet again the local Kingdom procedures of iqama renewals made her return to Kingdom soon. These surely were the hardest times of life at a very wrong time.

My brother and I began cleaning the brain hit cat. It was kept in balcony alone for days due to the fact that it went crazy with other cats and was a possibility to spread its problem in other. The cat wasn’t able to move or walk. It passed its urine on its own body, in addition of bags of dust and litter already occupying its skin.  We realized that further dirt will increase chances of increasing the disease or such a massive pain will kill it severely. We put the cat on bath by pouring water on it, lice-shampooed its body, brushed and combed it. Cleaned and washed the balcony. Mom had advised us to manage Zamzam water for its drinking and wiping it while praying some supplications.

Things worked as the cat struggled to survive and tried to bring things back to normality. In these days, Alhamdulillah it is active and can sense normally but lack the eyesight. On the other hand, my mother began walking and returned back to the city. How strange the life can be, she left to India in one home and returned in the other.

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More stories and incidents will enter my life. Until now this is one critical chapter really needed to blog off. The reason behind writing this blog isn’t a personal diary to open. My purpose of narrating a sudden panic in life is to tell the reader how a common man in the Kingdom gets hypnotized of a situation when a second person indirectly kicks you and makes your life miserable. How a citizen becomes an expat.

While reading the whole, one will realize a socio-economic issue is persistently prevailing. Being a common man, I am not physically tortured but wounded with a burning fate trying to escape. The man who filed the case was no one to me, and life of the whole family got messed. The one who will collect family iqamas indirectly made mom’s health at risk but with no intention. Had there no such rules, my mother had fully and quickly recovered in India. The doctor who stated the cat suffered the brain injury was incorrect.

Last of all, I would like to thank my friends who helped us in our critical times of home shifting. Although I don’t write names in the blogs but I should mention due to their efforts. I would like to thank Moizuddin Bhai for helping us out in the unstoppable quest for new residency and supported/guided us when required. I would like to thank our friends Faizan, Alpha, Taha, Maroof and Rizwan who helped us in home shifting and worked day and night. In the end, I would like to especially thank Waqas and Umair, without whom this amount of work would neither have been finished nor the shifting would have ever been possible. May Allah bless you all.

It is all about only one person to rely on, cheer, motivate and make him/her powerful to survive the life and make him/her run with time. YOU. Believe in yourself… Time will pass by and will never stop and we all will grow more and more and more. So

Always look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python)


I AM SAMI NAIK

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My Selfish Diary: A Starving Patience

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(Yawnnnnnnnn)

Je me baladais sur l’avenue
Le coeur ouvert à l’inconnu
J’avais envie de dire bonjour
À n’importe qui
N’importe qui ce fut toi
Je t’ai dit n’importe quoi
Il suffisait de te parler
Pour t’apprivoiser – [Joe Dassin – Champs Elysées (1969)]

(Yawnnnnnnnn)

11.30 am Thursday…
Date unknown…

Thursday is half day… mmm full day…
Half asleep and full snoring…

Itching my ass and dust on my bed…
A rumbling routine and mumbling routine…

Sumbuddy aching my ears to WAKE UP!!!! Ahhh it is not my harlot in scarlet, it is our confound abba (father) in twilight. Now what??? yeah prayer time… so lets pray and worship Facebook…

I am the face of book on hat-trick to get blocked for past few years. I am one of the profiles who receive boring notifications but fold my legs on the sofa when receive a message in inbox. What is inside???? Nothing… it was just a fucking 8-ball pool game invitation!!!!

Good morning Jeddah. My beloved city where I was born, where I was raised from boyhood to adulthood. The food and sea of this city is the pride specialty. 

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Mornings and Evenings, I walk the lines in awakenings…. in city of happenings…. driving in the shelter of persuasion and embracement that the automobiles will be at peace but not piece… but tragically it is tantalizingly a no-holds-barred match at every space of road…

Every vehicle in Jeddah is experimented not with the driver’s capacity of capable driving but overcoming the feasibility of meeting the ditches in the road. I am a proud citizen to be one of many who encounter and flounder.

Hail the morning of Jeddah. My city is half-awake till call of prayer for Zuhr. The cars parked are washed with the washer half-asleep. Breakfasts are done for hours with no fixed timings. Building constructions are performed by unskilled labors. 

Traffic are jammed, minor vehicle-hit accidents have made the roads congested. Cafeterias are noisy of orders and frying eggs but salons and stationary are dull. Banks are crowded and govt offices carry long stinky queues. Translation offices have problems in their scanners and printers. Nurses in medical institutions are coming on time and patients are long waiting for the arrival of doctors. 

Educational sites are over-crowded with every size of life-appetizers and transports whereas industrial areas suffer more of heavy trucks, breaking the traffic signals and bounding the other vehicles to cross any side resulting into hours long traffic jam. Malls in morning are bunk places and malls in evening are over-crowded with more walks and talks, entering the shops, gimmicking the individuality, asking the prices and walking away.

In well-popularized malls, morning witnesses many foreign customers than evenings. Most of the flock of feminine are famines in self-presentation, very cosmetic-bluffed, powdered more than a clown, eyebrows furnished like Groucho Marx and contesting their slimness with the hockey stick or HB pencil.

As a customer, they are worst than the Chinese. Few of them don’t even know to whether pull or push the door of boutique outlet. As the trip ends and comes out of mall, their outside world is more cruel with the reception of world’s most cheapest wannabe boyfriends and freshy bunkers/bonkers. Oh world!!!! where are you moving towards????

A city/country with tremendous potential and source, but outspoken when it cannot meet the criteria of world’s social and moral customs. Within the binding of living culture lies a stinky ego in the alfresco. Ex-pets and local-pets are fragmented/tormented to each other by abiding the rules & laws, which are sometimes confused with religion, sometimes barred with gender-mixing and sometimes unjustified with social life and employments.

When I take a look at history of human civilization, making of warriors and empires, rising of arm forces; I come to realize and make my firm belief that there are only and only 2 ways when the greatest nations in the world are build;
1. Either by ruling over the others or
2. By building the empire/nation on your own.

What part are we, what land are we?
What soil we fertile, why curse we missile?
What proud are we, then why hopeless are we?

May we all realize and correct our mistakes, admit our sins and ask for repentance, sustain and maintain with words of wisdom under the guidance and protection of Allah.. Ameen.

May my prays and wishes come true, but that is a further stage, what about now. We suffer the duffer and praise the bluffer. The animals exemplify how human they are, we tend to qualify how animal we are. The brothers fight under plight and we smell more nonsense when we realize their bizarre reasons, is that what we live to listen for?

The world we are living is the place where your newspapers are absolute lawyers of liars and social networking websites are truth-speakers. The world we are breathing is the place where the educators and thinkers (influenced to many millions of viewers, listeners and readers) are non-believers to the existence of Allah but the poorest and the beggar of His blessing is the most religious and faithful to Allah. Just take a moment and think about it!

We bullshit the utter nonsense that science and technology has exceeded the limit of serving humanity and easing/comforting the life. Really?? Then why we suffer more diseases than before?? Why the young generation has become more frustrated than before?? Why people are complaining more of heart diseases, increase of sugar level or blood pressure than before?? If condoms are the gateway of safe sexual intercourse, then why are there more cases of HIV than before? Don’t irritate, just think about it!

With time goes by, our minds are controlled with the installment and persistence of fixed jurisdiction throughout the world. We are bound to think to the limit, not crossing the limit and thinking beyond. This is the soup in the bowl, this is bread in the plate, now have your meal. We are the most common creatures to accept what is said and done. We confess what the majority decides and declare a person either he is truth-speaker or a liar, a leader or deceiver.

When we come to the conclusions after summing all the united states of confusions and distortion, everything goes messed and wrong. Clashes between different schools of thought begin, historic sites are put on demolition, peace is pieced by unrest strikes and violence of riots, oil prices increase, demand in stock decrease, frustrations of gentlemen makes them genitalmen, children read guns and shoot books, animal cruelty is enjoyed, places of worship become favorite spot of terrorism, clapping hands become a sign of celebration, playing foul games and illegal affairs with opposite sex count in resume of honor, history becomes boring and adult movies become interesting, ancestors are your demons and girlfriends are your angels….

Just a month ago, Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living survey placed Jeddah, the 9th most cheapest city in the world. Are you kidding me??? Life is getting expensive, food is getting expensive, even the cost of breathing or living is getting way expensive than ever. I lived my first 20 years of life in a 4-room flat which cost us 12,000 SAR a year as rent from 1984-2004. To this year 2014, we have changed our residence thrice with an extraordinary rise of 9,000 SAR a year. Bring this economically ill statistician to me, so I can interrogate his qualifications with ease.

Like I said above that “The brothers fight under plight and we smell more nonsense when we realize their bizarre reasons”. The owner of the building we reside had a years-long running dispute over property with his brothers. The case is now subjugated and won by one of brothers who was hungry of snatching the whole property from them. And as result, the court has short-noticed to evacuate the building within 10 days. I repeat, within 10 days!!! Can you just imagine and calculate the sudden rise of mountains on the heads of all living/existing tenants?? The brothers were fighting for property but we are the one losing the shelter and facing the sun heat. So is it really easy to look for your new home, shift your belongings and migrate to a new home sweet home within 10 fucking days???? With me, my fellow neighbors have also experiencing painful situation. May we all tenants overcome the situation, get new homes which bring blessings to us and our families Ameen.

Sometimes the burden of chastise is shouldered by the salted amount of foul hands which sweats the half-wit bullied-wicked game to demoralize you. Not every local is cruel or a hunter-man. But lack of education and early fragrance of money and power to rule (not lead) put most of the locals in immortality and make the non-locals feel as frantic. People responsible for the welfare of this country should adopt measures to ease both locals and non-locals, so they can serve and make their own life and also of their family and kinsmen here.

Turning back to my life, I keep myself low-profile. Besides my work, I am a globetrotter, I like traveling with few of my fellow globetrotters and enjoy lifetime experience of visiting amazing sites in Saudi Arabia. Of course there is a temporary break now. I walk the work and decide what to do, eat what I want as food prepared at home or outside with friends, download and watch the movie I want, read the book I want. (Comfort yourself, overcome the complicated situations) When I drive my car, I keep my ears unnoticed of possible sounds of horns to enter my eardrums by playing the songs on my mobile connected by blue-tooth to my car because I don’t want my ears to listen traffic noises. Every month, I am notified on my mobile that I violated the traffic rules by over-speeding. Fine! I pay and I don’t cry.

Like hundreds of time, myself and driver of other vehicle come to terms to cross a road or street, I indicate him by hand to go first. Reply! he raise his palm of gratitude. Scores of time also, the pedestrians walk in front of my running car and begin losing the edge whether to move or back up, I point them to forward your steps. Reply! they smile and raise their palm and run.

Why am I speaking/telling what the fuck do I do? You don’t give a damn innit? But just notice my last 2 paragraphs, isn’t there something you find you don’t behave like me? Are you still at ease in your life? With all my miseries I personally and emotionally have suffered in my life, I adopt my own measures to live my life freely. Imagine if you are working with your own decisions; eating watching drinking reading listening whatever you want to; paying your installments, fines, penalties without panicking for no good reason, like how many tensions you overcome and breathe your life.

What if you really give the fellow driver a chance to drive the road first, what if you let the pedestrian cross the street before you race. You are on your own benefit of what you did for yourself and your life. Simply the angel on your right shoulder write good notes about you and mark your safety for right-doings. What if I tell you to get attracted from the beauty of a girl/woman crossing from your sight but do wish her that she get a loving and caring husband? I know this will sound funny, but trust me its magic.

I dream and imagine that I live in my own mansion near the sea shores, no greed of money and power but blossom of happiness and merriness. Sounds of sea waves fell high on my ears, seagulls caws and squawks. Listen the soul refreshing songs which I loved the most. The girl to whom I have loved the most join me in my prime. And I enjoy a joyous wonderful cold weather and spend a wonderful moment of life with her.

Ahh that feeling!!!! Einstein was right… “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will live as one

 

                                                                     I AM SAMI NAIK

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FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @saminaik_asn

 

My Selfish Diary: Travelling with a Zero

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Al-Rashid Mall (Al-Khobar)

This was my 3rd trip to the Eastern Region of the Kingdom. My previous visits in the Kingdom were boredom as work was consisted without perk. Had no idea what to enjoy in this silent and dry place. I just had designed my framework to this region for the month of December with the understanding that this region will please you with a cold weather. I saw that coming and that did happen.

To the exact opposite of Al-Rashid Mall is Rotana Hotel,  where I stayed for couple of days last time. The cornered rooms of all the three floors had the plus of a panoramic view of Al-Rashid Mall. I wished to see happen that again. Soon as I reached the mall, I straightly went to the hotel to test my fate. My wish came true when I got the very same corner once again. Room environment was sound with a big passage, couple of bathrooms and accustomed kitchen.

Food serving in hotel was fair as the food ordered would reach within an hour. Net service was extremely slow and limited. I forgot to bring 2-pin connector and paid the price. One night, I lost my laptop’s battery and left only 15%. Now mine is 3-pin plug but all in my place was 2-hole sockets. I found one luckily but that too in bathroom -_- It was midnight already and had no solution but to connect and let it charge.

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Workers in the hotel were very multinational. Receptionist and dealer were Syrian, cleaners were a Bengali, Tamil and Filipino each. A very quiet passage of hotel with workers itself watching TV lying on the sofas. My colleague, who came with me, was a Filipino and he was glad to see his native working here. Like I said in my previous blog, they are very friendly to each other and often get very open in first encounter. So it was convincing for him to sit and talk with him all the night down the passage and do skyping with his relatives.

Working and staying in Dammam will always be a blessing with enjoyable weather this time and company’s 3 shops out of 4 located in this Rashid Mall (the other is in Dahran Mall). Once I visited Dahran Mall and as usual I began scanning the displaying standard of my company’s showroom. Then I noticed that one of window display of Charriol brand had a backpanel featuring a lady with seductive eyes hiding her face and displaying one of advertised watch. It was further stickered with a small piece of Charriol page.

I felt pretty strange that a lady with her face veiled, qualified to install in any shop in particular region of Saudi Arabia as human faces in many malls are not allowed due to strictness from religious officers of the ‘Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice’ (CPVPV). To their bad luck, the office of CPVPV in mall was also located opposite to the shop. I asked the salesman in charge the reason of further stickering. He replied that they (CPVPV) further objected the model’s hair and forehead -_-

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The salesman Mr. Baraa of TagHeuer boutique in Rashid Mall was frustrated of lack of sales. But I became blessing for him, he sold 2 expensive watches in consecutive days in both my visiting attempts. He became a good friend of mine who assisted me in most of my work in Al-Khobar. He asked me if I like drinking hookah (sheesha in Persian). My joys knew no bound as I had no knowledge of existence of hookah in the Eastern region. I replied my definite YES.

Baraa is from Palestine and is son of our Showroom Manager for Eastern region. Born and raise here like me, enjoys a good but limited life. I did ask him if he has time enough for me to gather and enjoy sheesha. He was like me, enjoy without tension at full scale. There is a cafe at the outskirt of Al-Khobar, Ole’ Cafe. A huge cafe expanded like 40-45 meters with at least 100 seats and a dozen TVs. Now the most important aspect was quality service and quality flavor of sheesha. That surpassed my expectation. Baraa told me that double-apple is the best flavor of sheesha and he was correct. The moment I sip my first, I felt like if I ate a red apple with smoke gasped from the chewed part.

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Ole’ Cafe
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Inside View of Ole’ Cafe

 

Sitting and drinking, my brain began sinking. But the brain cells started half-flourishing when MBC 2 showed Robert Rodriquez’s ‘Machete’. I had never watched the movie but do wanted to. Aaaah! watta movie. Baraa is an old customer there, drinking for years. So a good service from workers was expected. That day, a new worker had joined. He was from Bangladesh. Very scared of his first attempt and confound. His senior was shouting at him to serve quickly. That wasn’t enough. Even customers had their loud say when he could not settle down the charcoals on the top of sheesha.

Same charcoal story in my side. He decorated 5 small charcoals and I was stunned. He lost his edge again and expected the shoutings from my side now but I politely told him to place 3 big charcoals and I will do the decorating. He apologized to me by saying he is innocent and new in the Kingdom, and poor guy looking for work to feed his family in his country. A story of millions spoken by one I encountered. I was helpless to help and just a keen listener of his dismays.

Once I finished my work in Rashid Mall, I had an hour to check out from hotel. So I intended to go Jarir Bookstore to check any interesting findings. Recently arrived Sir Alex Ferguson’s autobiography was available at SR.130. First time I got so disappointed with the collection of books I saw. Most notably I was enraged to see the West’s nowadays darling Malala’s book ‘I am Malala’ in two different corners. I checked the book and saw few pages. It was like reading a 10-year-old baby’s diary -_- That book wasn’t enough. There was a small corner under Kid’s section. Believe it or not! there were around 5 different books on Justin Beiber -_-

Checked out from hotel and with all due respect, the workers in hotel delivered a proper goodbye and well wished me. Baraa did his final serving by favoring us to drop at airport through his friend. Reached the airport and my tour ended. That wasn’t enough because few stories are more to write you.

I met my brother’s friend Omer Shahid. I am not a lot into hi-hello with him but met at a rare moment. We shared our talks and opinions about living in Saudia, working environment stuff and presently dipping performance by Manchester United. His flight was late by 30 minutes but still 30 minutes on board before mine. While waiting our turn to drop our luggage, the man in uniform told him to stay on thin red line and wait for his turn. Our turn was after him and when I reached to drop my luggage, two Arab boys stood on my extreme back :S I told the officer to keep them stay on thin red line, he avoided -_-

There was an old Arab couple in their 70s. The good thing about them was that they were smiling and goofing instead of murking.  The handbag carried by man was seized by his lady and vice versa. In sitting area, they were the only odd talking aloud. The talkative lady checked her boarding pass by every half a minute. She all of a sudden wanted to go toilet when boarding was on. But she want to go with her handbag :S Her hubby won’t let her do that. She ran like a penguin and returned within couple of minutes. The man was laughing.

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Travelers in queue as gates were opened. People from every walk of life and miscalculated sizes stood in one line to show their boarding pass. My turn came and the officer stopped me :S Hiccup! The computer wasn’t accepting my boarding pass. He made me stood aside. A moment of embarrassment! Then I checked the date on boarding pass and realized the pass belonged to my previous flight from Jeddah to Dammam. I had presented wrong boarding pass and the correct one was in my bag. Now all is fine.

Entered the plane. It was A320 -_- Plane gets smaller with my travel I guess -_- Even in this flight, air-hostesses carried same boring faces to face the unlucky travelers. Time to sit on my booked seat but hello! some buddy already placed his ass on my seat :S I had my second thought over legality of my boarding pass instead of checking his. Then I forwarded and cleared my throat to seek his attention. I requested him to off from my seat and check his number. He kept staring me until the air-hostess came to settle. He was off to my seat.

The flight and service was ordinary. Ate the same food I had in my previous morning flight, cheese sandwich -_- I was expecting a dinner to serve for me, not the same repeated breakfast for dinner -_- This time it was a little better sandwich to chew and pass my esophagus. Plus, I asked for a coffee and enjoyed reading Babaji Ashfaq Ahmad sahab’s “Zaviya”. As I told you in my previous blog that I began reading this masterpiece, but I went so deep in reading babaji’s stories that I realized how distinguished personality was he. The plane landed safely with a temperature outside double of Dammam’s one. The nights in Dammam were in tens but returned here in twenties.

Babaji’s take on the world, his philosophies and heart touching incidents circulated my deepest thoughts in brain. I wasn’t feeling normal for once at all. From departure from A320 till arriving home, babaji’s chapters on life made a remarkable full stop. It actually was like ‘travelling with a zero’. I was like Lucky Ali’s album ‘Sifar’ or Ronan Keating’s “Life is a Roller Coaster”.

Being so mystic with life circle, I entered the bus with more stories. There were two wheelchair travelers with different problems. One entered with a Bengali helper was an octogenarian Yemeni who suffered with old age. He wasn’t able to walk and lost his temper every second. When the helper made him close to the bus door, he began shouting on his helper and protesting his entry because of the height of door the wheel chair was about to lift inside. I was forced to smile when the old man snatched his stick from him to hit but failed. All of a sudden, entered the second helper and lifted the wheel chair and entered the bus with ease. He kept shouting at the entry but then he turned silent. Being silent, he stared every traveler with rage.

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Sat on the other wheel chair was a disabled teen, to whom I was observing from Dammam Airport sitting area. He spoke nothing and wore casual dress with a careful eyesight under his normal specs. I never dared to ask his helper if he was paralyzed or not able to speak also. But his hand movements and finger alignments weren’t normal.

How thought provoking was his behavior under my observation! The travelers, almost 20 meters far from him, walked towards joining the queue on board. He stared their legs and his left hand middle and index fingers made movements like walking. That was speechless!!

Then in the bus (dropping to Jeddah airport) I saw him again. This time his eyes caught a few months old baby crying under his mother’s lap. They were Sudanese family I guess. With intention to stop his cry-bullying, he struggled with his right hand to finger-snap. He wasn’t using his index finger a lot and his middle and ring fingers looked more crook and close. So he struggled to finger-snap with his thumb, middle and ring fingers. Within half a minute, the baby actually stopped crying.

What a nature of Allah!! Babaji’s reading really made me take more careful observations of earthlings. Both wheelchairs were together with a tremendous and strange on-the-spot chemistry with no match but different stories mixed altogether. I was noticing his finger-snapping and the baby. Once the baby got silent, I wanted to observe the baby more but avoided because yet again in the bus, the lady (the mother of kid) began staring me like if her eyes recognized the murderer of her husband -_-

The wheel chair stories weren’t enough. Entered a lovely young Arab couple in the bus. Precisely in 20’s and hand in hand they stood in the bus. I don’t think if the girl’s left hand and boy’s right hand ever ever untouched each other’s skin. Their love had a scent of jasmine and their innocent behavior to each other made sense of their new relation was a bed full of roses. To her bad luck, no seats in the bus were empty (fully occupied by ladies). Her man of honor made her stood holding the bar. That wasn’t enough. When the bus ran, he hold the supporter with his left hand and she pressed his shoulder from her right hand. Their other hands were still tightly grabbed to each other. The boy was in his casual dressing, a sporting cap decorated on his head behind. The girl was veiled with beautiful eyes decorated with decent black eyeliner. They were whispering in each other’s ears. All the time smiling to each other every few seconds. Ahhhh love!!! Love is a gift of Allah to mankind indeed…

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I have landed Jeddah and time to pee. Entered the male toilet and there is no hanger to hang my bag and suit. An Indian cleaner offered me to hand him my handbag and suit. It was risky but I took it. He kept holding both my stuff until I finished my toiletivity. Babaji’s worldly simplicity mashed again. I felt a lot for his service. He surely was poor guy like I met that Bengali worker in cafe, have to do nothing here in life then only cleaning the toilets. My heart humbled and gave him money for his service. He didn’t expected this and stared me with innocence with a million-dollar thanks and regards. I felt a spiritual comfort performing a good deed. My soul was well satisfied till I went colorless when no one stood to receive me. The message was conveyed on call that my brother and his friend are waiting outside airport :S Vow what a reception.

Returned home. My all 4 cats stared at me :S I began sneezing. Drinking water not available as water supplier is absent for days. Water even not coming in bathroom :S Welcome back to Jeddah Mr. Naik!!

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