Two American celebrities grab an opportunity to invest and become the owners of a Welsh football club, Wrexham A.F.C. The journey from takeover until the conclusion of the first season under their ownership is documented in ”Welcome to Wrexham”.
”Welcome to Wrexham” is a sports documented series by FX that covers all the important events that have occurred with time since Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds bought the club. Wrexham A.F.C. Why Wrexham? Why this club has blown the trumpets all over the world among the football loyalists? There are two major reasons that reflect highly on Wrexham’s significance.
One is history. Wrexham A.F.C. is the oldest football club of Wales and the third-oldest professional football club in the world. The club was formed in 1864 and since then, the Racecourse Stadium has been the club’s home. Therefore, this is the world’s oldest international football stadium that itself was established back in 1807.
There was a time when the club used to be Wales’ best club. In the late 1970s, Wrexham actually reached to the second division. But in the eighties, the city become economically challenged with increasing unemployment. With that followed a sore collapse in the club’s performance and got repeatedly relegated. Since 2008, the club has been playing in the National League which is the lowest division in the English Football Pyramid.
The second compelling significance is the people of Wrexham. Their staunch enthusiasm and passion for football has kept the spirit of the club alive for 150 years. The one remarkable proof of their dedication is the existence of the club’s official public house, The Turf. This tavern was built back in the 1840s and since the inception of the club, this place has lit up to gather the locals and support the club at any cost. In the past, it was the only pub to be built inside the ground of a football club. Today, this is the oldest pub in the United Kingdom for any sports.
Observing what Wrexham stands for in the British football, the coverage of their remarkable tale of football attracts the global football audience to be sticking around towards their progress.
”Welcome to Wrexham” has many incredible aspects for a sports docu-series. The show serves its purpose not only in reminding us football fans why Wrexham story should be narrated louder and deserves revival but also showing us what it takes to the owners and the locals to raise optimism to see them achieve success.
Yes, Rob and Ryan like a few American owners of football clubs have no knowledge of ‘soccer’ as we can watch in the episodes that they try to understand how this game and the whole football system in the United Kingdom works. But the point that I loved about them is that they found a purpose to buy the club. Considering to document the whole new-era club-story has to be the wisest decision. Not only recording the whole progress brought awareness in the global football audience but also helped in generating the revenue that contributed to the seasonal budget.
By this way, Rob and Ryan with or without intentions also demonstrated to the world how the business decisions and strategies can help fetch the positive results in a venture where you have your heart but the knowledge is minimal. More than that, Rob and Ryan set an example by getting accustomed and understand the system, the society, and the legacy of the local club. Visiting ”The Turf”, meeting hardcore club supporters, asking their opinions and taking suggestions. Things like these wins the locals and builds the trust. Despite all the investments and further heartbreaks, they trusted in the manager, the staff, and the squad.
The presentation and editing of the series makes the case to develop interest towards such an incredible underdog story. Wrexham story under Rob and Ryan is something the writer and director seeks to script down and intensify the proceedings. Wrexham’s last season needed no spice to add up. The earlier episodes stretched to their failures and changed the tone with their winning ways. It looked like some Bollywood larger-than-life unthinkable tale. So, I particularly liked how the show maintained the tone while depicting their ups and downs.
Another point of admiration is that the makers of the show reflected most of the sentimental setup around the Wrexham society that correlates with the club. The show took care of covering the club’s die-hard supporters and volunteers. Broadly covered the personal lives of a few of them. Even after losing the last league game, no fan left and cheered for the team. Recording such scenes grows the following of the show.
Impressive leadership skills, never-say-die spirit of Wrexham fans, and superb presentation of the whole Rob-Ryan football journey has won the hearts of millions of fans. Like many, I whole-heartedly wish Wrexham football club all the success. If you are passionate to listen and watch a football story, Wrexham should not be avoided at all.
I wonder what if Wrexham gets promotion and with time, progress to reach Premier League one day? It is a tough call. English football is mad and unpredictable. But if Wrexham reaches to the highest football rank with all these years-long recording, ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ will be the greatest club football story ever told.
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16 years after the events that wrapped in ‘That ’70s Show‘, the house of the Formans in the fictional town of Point Place in Wisconsin becomes lively in the summer of 1995 when Leia Forman arrives to spend time with her grandparents and joins a group of teenagers.
“That ’90s Show” is a spin-off of “That ’70s Show” with Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp as the cantankerous Red and super-cheerful Kitty Forman returning as one of television history’s most beloved parents ever.
The aesthetics are the same and the fans of That ’70s Show will be excited to get into the skin of the spin-off so easily. The nostalgia is there and is still vibrant.
Red Forman has gone a little soft by some tiny little percent and is understood as the character goes older. If anyone notices, he begins to hold a stick in the second half of the season.
But Kitty hasn’t aged. Debra Jo Rupp has not aged at all. She is still someone where heart melts for the elders. The Formans are still a joy to watch. I wish Betty White would have returned as Kitty’s mother. She passed away a few months after the announcement of this show.
Maybe it is surprising that the reunion of the group didn’t happen. Perhaps, it is better to keep it for the future when the audience settles well into the second season of the show. Who knows? Maybe Danny Masterson as Steven Hyde makes a cameo in the future and we manage to see a complete reunion only if he gets cleared as Danny is hit with heavy sexual assault allegations that have finished his career to date.
But the rest of the old friends were fun to watch especially Eric Forman. The father-son chemistry just never fades at all.
Coming to the new batch of teenage friends. At first, I wasn’t confident about how far will they take the show to convince the audience in a new phase of fashion, music, and humor. Plus, the show is run by Netflix, which began to indicate whether the political messages will ruin the show.
See, the Netflix element is present and it is very obvious that the new batch will never be able to stand as the new favorites as those in the ’70s were. I felt that the makers remade the nostalgia in the new band. The theme, the personifications, and the references were all there. I am okay with it but settling for the new band to act the very way as the older ones lack originality.
Nate and Nikki are the new Michael and Jackie. Ozzie is the new Steven. Jay is the new Fez and I must praise the selection for Jay as Michael and Jackie’s son was so accurate. I thought if the actor is actually the son of Ashton and Mila. And this Kelso is smarter than his father.
And speaking of the Kelsos, Michael and Jackie are remarried. If I am not wrong, Jackie was with Fez in the series finale. I have forgotten if Jackie went back to Michael in the finale or what? Maybe we get to see Jackie and Fez in the future.
Ozzie represents the Queer community and is gay. And I think it was a good idea to address the complicated silence of that group of teenagers in the ’90s living in the US who were overthinking to coming out. And it was never easy for the kids to show their parents and friends who they were. It still is not easy for sure but Ozzie’s character went in the right direction.
Isn’t it that funny Eric and Donna named their daughter Leia? Knowing the fact that Eric is a lifetime lover of Star Wars, naming her Leia looked so naturally funny. They must have added a character of Leia’s brother and named him Luke. Leia is the new Eric, awkward and nerd.
If the use of humor in this group looks to fall apart, remember this is a teenage comedy and we are older now. We certainly cannot expect them to build the same ambiance as the oldies did.
It is plain stupid if the audience compares it with the original. But one thing is for sure, in order to run the follow-up in the right direction, the show does not disappoint at all. It is not at all trash. Even if you do not like it, at least you will agree this is a lot better than the last season. “That ’90s Show” is funny and enjoyable and will make the audience wait for the second season.
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I have done blogging my own version of Filmfare for seven straight years. Since the late 1990s, I have observed and got annoyed on many occasions when I witnessed the prestigious awards show of Filmfare losing its credibility. Therefore, I have been managing to scrutinize and make my own list of honors who, I believe, deserved the most and need to be recognized.
Since 2014, I have been passing my annual report of Bollywood’s best every year. My Bollywood’s best had 21 categories that are segregated into three different sections which are musical (5), technical (10), and major (6) sections. This time, I have added one more category in technical that is ‘Best Makeup & Hairstyling’. I felt that is the need of the hour as things have changed and improved in the Hindi-film industry.
And yes, the industry is changing, in a sense that the new generation of writers and directors, a collective group of veteran actors and new artists, are trying to do new and attract the audience in the industry. Just, for example, Kajol picked a pretty different film last year, Tribhanga. Akshay Kumar, out of the equation, played a supporting role in Atrangi Re which is quite not his thing. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, with all the highly talented ensemble cast, got the critical acclaim it deserved. A few years ago, this wasn’t possible due to a large inclination towards mainstream cinema. But now we observe flexibility and the audience is willing to try innovative.
MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF THE PAST YEARS
Those who want to read my previous annual reports of Bollywood’s best, click on any of the following links:
For music, I keep my options open and there is no limit to the number of films because quality work in music can happen in any film. But besides music, I chose the following Hindi films released last year under my scrutiny to judge for all the categories:
So how do I work myself as a film critic honoring in the blogs every year?
I judge and pass my reviews of the selected films.
After watching each and every selected film, I make notes about the plusses and minuses, and further note down in what categories these films qualify.
From this year, each of the 22 categories will have a maximum of 5 nominations and for the first time in eight years, I will now rank my nominations. No more ‘Other Notable Works’ or ‘Special Mention’. If I feel I need to write a few lines in any category, I will.
After I am done with honors, I will write down the total number of nominations and wins submitted in my report as stat fun.
MY BOLLYWOOD’S BEST OF 2021
The wait is over…
Allow me to honor Bollywood’s artistic and technical excellence in 2021 according to Sami Naik.
There can be no better scene than dramatizing this horrifying part of pre-independence history. This scene was kept on wait after two hours well spent on developing the story and Udham’s character in entirety. The intensity and provocation of that bloodshed were extremely detailed. This scene was deliberately shot violent. The graphic detailing of this three-minute scene full of gunshots and painful cries was more savage than what Lord Attenborough showed in Gandhi. It was a scene that boiled the emotions and broke the hearts. Udham’s commentary about his fury for this incident all this time made his case.
2nd. Sardar Revisiting her Lahore House (Sardar Ka Grandson)
3rd. Sandy Loses Her Child (Sandeep aur Pinky Faraar)
4th. Arjun Thakur Recovering from Vomitting (Dhamaka)
5th. The revelation of Maanvi (Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui)
Vicky as Sardar will be remembered as one of the best performances in Hindi cinema for this new decade. You feel pain when his portrayal agonizes. There is much discomfort to watch his rage and hatred for British Imperialism and he has perfected that genuity you want to watch in the films about Indian freedom against the British. His tense courtroom scene of justification and in a lengthy struggle of saving many lives after the massacre are the best examples of Vicky’s notable performance.
Parineeti has to be the most improved actress of the last year who gave not one but two brilliant performances. But this role, she had the grip. When a role for a woman in desperate help or seeking freedom from her misery requires a solid actress to perfect it, talented actresses like Aliya Bhatt, Taapsee, and Bhumi are coming to your mind. So Dibakar chose Parineeti and gave her the platform. You observe her when she loses her child, when she gets scared on a lot of occasions, or when she tries to escape the rape attempt. A marvelous display of mental and emotional acting.
Sardar Udham is one of the best directed Hindi films I have watched in recent years. Shoojit’s presentation makes me wonder if Sardar Udham actually is an Indian film. It is some accomplishment. The courtroom scenes, Sardar speaking about freedom alone in the park, Sardar’s quest for O’ Dwyer, and most significantly, the horrifying Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and its extremely lengthy aftermath are the bullet reasons why I feel that Shoojit has set the standards and raised the bar of directional artistry too high.
2nd. Manjari Makijany (Skater Girl)
3rd. Seema Pahwa (Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi)
4th. Bugs Bhargava (Nail Polish)
5th. Gitanjali Rao (Bombay Rose)
Believe me! Honoring the best film of the year is the most challenging judgment. And being a film critic, it is my responsibility to make a decision that supports the purpose of being the best. Milestone focused on the struggle of a broken man in the wake of tragedy; while Nail Polish highlighted a complicated criminal case. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi was a family drama but with a real-feel dramatization. Sardar Udham shows the darker side of the freedom fighter. All these films had elements that have been watched before but were extraordinary films.
Skater Girl is a totally different rhythm and beat that sparks attraction to its audience with a fresh direction, and a catchy screenplay. A story about a village girl who finds her heart in skating after two foreigners introduce skateboarding is a genuine love story to filmmaking.
The writers spent one year getting the feel of the village and creating the characters that stamp some quality portrayals. And this is exactly why Skater Girl looks so real and close to life.
2nd. Sardar Udham
3rd. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
4th. Nail Polish
TABLE OF MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
Silence… Can You Hear It?
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi
Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar
The Girl on the Train
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui
Sardar Ka Grandson
Bhuj: The Pride of India
Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.
Welcome to my world where Sami Naik presents you his annual report about the best things that happened in Bollywood that year. It has been declared that the quality of Hindi-language films has declined due to mainstream commercialism and entertainment which is unfortunately true but believing that quality films in India are extremely less in production, I beg to differ. The prime reason is that the sensible audience has to discover such projects and in the times of streaming services, more chances have increased that a lot of writers and directors, who were not getting the platform, will get offers and earn recognitions from the audience when they release their work. Audience or film critic like me make efforts here by blogging and do justice for people who deserve to be recognized for their quality work.
Since 2014, I have been publishing an annual report into my blog about the Hindi-language film industry of India. The purpose of this report/blog is to inform my fellow cinephiles about the better prospects of filmmaking in the film industry and making them aware of the rich quality of films that either caught the viewer’s attraction and received the deserving praise or unluckily went unnoticed and unrecognized. Following are my previous reports about the best of Bollywood:
My judgments are based on the realistic measures fetched from the films whether those are big or small budgeted, comprised of the ensemble or lesser-known cast. No compromise on quality. Every year, I dig around three dozen potential Hindi films, watch, and judge, pass the reviews and note down the artistic and technical excellence. For 2020, the following 38 films were selected:
There is a scene where Bhonsle is done with the meeting. Bhonsle is fixed in a crowd of 70,000 people during a festival of Anant Chaturdashi. That lengthy scene took six retakes to complete the shot. In all this continuity, Bhonsle becomes a deep muted narration of a revolutionary poet.
The most important consideration for a slow cinema is the camera work which makes the viewers observe the detailing of the smaller portions of the screenwriting. And this is where Bhonsle was very impressive. Visual shots fixing you to the neighborhood like dirty old tableware, a mischief of rats, a loaf of bread near to a street dog, etc are the essentials of adaptable graphics that squeezes you to care this kind of visual bravura.
Axone highlighted the social challenges the Northeast Indian migrants were facing in the capital. Mee Raqsam depicted the fondness of a young girl about a classical dance in a conservative Muslim family and the consequences. Kaamyaab voiced their support for the lesser-known side actors and told an influential story about such an actor who wishes to conclude his career on a memorable note. Ram Singh Charlie gave a painful insider into the circus entertainers and their struggle to survive at an old age after the business is put to halt. AK vs AK was an unusual plot about celebrities taking professional and personal revenge.
But my pick is Chintu Ka Birthday which was astonishingly built on innocent hopes between the screaming agonies of political conflicts. A six-year-old boy wants to celebrate his birthday with his Indian family, and friends in war-torn Iraq in the times when the US military has invaded the country. What is more observing about the story is feeling the agony of one of the great political conflicts of this century through the eyes of the kid who is not even a civilian of that country. That said so, the story indirectly takes you to so many millions of stories of Iraqi children into sparing a thought who wished to live free in those times enough to cut a cake on their birthday.
Many of you have noticed about my film reviews that I concentrate and judge more about the film’s screenwriting. Because it is the most essential part along with the editing which keeps the spirit of the film intact and helps in maintaining finesse.
Halahal, Ram Singh Charlie, Thappad, and Bulbbul, all had the best screenwriting to compel the audience and drive into it. But why I feel Kadakh is the best work from all these? All four films have a story interchanging its parallels whereas Kadakh has time to spend in between the lines of an unusual incident to get a hold of the entire story towards the conclusion. Rajat Kapoor’s screenwriting had smartness of continuity by playing a lively party with well-crafted supporting characters giving the couples a helping hand in a limited time. The audience will feel the misery and stay in the party unnoticed and waiting for the couples’ next steps towards the body lying in the box.
What else can there be the best scene of the year than the slap? Thappad is Anubhav Sinha’s social drama film centering on a slapping culture generally forced by men as a sign of gender dominance over women. Now we as the audience know that Taapsee will be slapped at some time in the film. The excellence of the slapping scene lies in the whole buildup which makes it so special.
Vikram enjoying one of the best evenings of his life, celebrating with his friends until that call which infuriates him and makes him verbally come into a rough argument with his colleague. Enters his wife, Amrita, trying to take her man to avoid the scene until becoming herself a scene and then comes a whacker.
Interestingly, she was nowhere involved in this incident. She became the victim and all the party attendees stared at her. Even after the slap, the scene continues to shoulder her in a slow-motion camera work towards her room with the female members of the family shell-shocked.
This slap scene is the core of the film and that part was directed superbly than any scene I have watched last year.
Barun Sobti was one of the driving forces in Halahal’s excellence. Amongst the other best-supporting roles I have noted below, the only genuine competitor to him was Anurag Kashyap. But Anurag’s capacity as a supporting role was misleading and becoming equivalent to Anil’s leading character despite the plot’s thickness demanding the importance of Anurag’s role as secondary. What makes Barun worthier than Anurag to me is his supporting role justifying in the script and becoming a helping hand to Sachin Khedekar’s role. And Barun gave a realistic look to his role. His body language was more precise to work on the screenplay.
Manisha’s terrific performance was penalized to a shockingly shorter period in the film where the leading roles were given to the amateur actors having a tough time running the film on their own. Manisha’s role had the weight, the charisma of the character who went into the skin and displayed rich body language, accent, and physical performance of a typical Parsi woman.
Surprising, innit? None other than Kumud Mishra. Am I serious? Yes, I am. We have been watching him playing different character roles, most prominently since starring in Rockstar. But expecting to do a leading role? One has to ask the director’s thinking behind considering him for such a physically challenging role. He dropped his weight, he did Chaplin impersonations, he ran driving a rickshaw. And there were moments where Kumud executed so well. That scene where Ram Singh paints his face and gets emotional or when he meets himself and speaks to him, those were the melting points.
There were other actors who did so well like Adil in Pareeksha especially when he confesses his crime, drops my jaws. Sachin surprised me in Halahal. Sanjay did such justice to his role in Kaamyaab. Amitabh with age proved that he still is phenomenal in whatever role he considers to play. Anil Kapoor’s role in AK vs AK was the only tough competitor to Kumud’s as he gave his career’s best performance.
This one was easy for me. No, I am not judging her performance because the makeup was impressive. With this real-life character, Deepika smoked a soul and gave a performance she has rarely given before. She applied a different facial and body language. Notice how she smiles and laughs when she interacts with Amol.
Amongst the best performances I have written below, Deepika’s toughest competitor for me was Taapsee Pannu who had a similar victim card but less severe than an acid-attack which was a face slap. But Taapsee’s most acting minutes in consequences of the incident were gloomy and in despair. More emotional and a little slow.
On his directional debut, I think Randeep Jha has learned a lot of directional techniques straight from Anurag Kashyap for whom he was assistant director in Ugly, Raman Raghav 2.0, and Mukkabaaz. Because you will see some glimpse of Anurag when you watch this Halahal. I am really impressed with the tone of the film on which the story is developed.
Keeping it to hardly 100 minutes, Randeep Jha wastes no time in building the plot and grows it to further implications. And the most important element which the director misses about the film in India, Halahal gets its deserving technical ending, a fitting conclusion.
And now the final winner!!! Six films were in my mind. And after closely observing all of these works, I believe AK vs AK is easily the best film of 2020. AK v AK is about real-life celebrities, director Anurag Kashyap and actor Anil Kapoor, who were not destined to work with each other in the past, and at some event, they throw themselves into a heated argument resulting in a professional enmity. Anurag takes his revenge by kidnapping Anil’s daughter Sonam Kapoor and films his struggle to find her.
This is the funniest kidnapping you will watch in any Indian film. You are watching something you have never experienced. This mockumentary-style cat-and-mouse mystery chase is a blend of suspense, black comedy rich with entertainment.
Other Notable Works:
Ram Singh Charlie
MULTIPLE WINS & NOMINATIONS
Love Aaj Kal
Ginny Weds Sunny
Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa
Chintu Ka Birthday
AK vs AK
Ram Singh Charlie
Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan
What Are The Odds
(Most of the images used in this blog are produced from the web sources inserted in the image.)
Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.
I cordially welcome to my 6th annual Bollywood honors report.
In the past three decades, I have observed that many showbiz platforms, especially the most prestigious Filmfare, do not do much of the justice with their Hindi-language films with their ultimate decisions about the nominations and wins. So, many ‘good’ work doesn’t get the credit.
Since 2014, I have been publishing an annual report on my blog about the Hindi-language film industry of India. The purpose of this report/blog is to inform my fellow cinephiles about the better prospects of filmmaking in the film industry and making them aware of the rich quality of films that either caught the viewer’s attraction and received the deserving praise or unluckily went unnoticed and unrecognized. Following are my previous reports about the best of Bollywood:
My judgments are based on the realistic measures fetched from the films whether those are big or small budgeted, comprised of an ensemble or lesser-known cast. No compromise on quality. Every year, I dig around three dozen potential Hindi films, watch, and judge, pass the reviews and note down the artistic and technical excellence.
To be honest, I decided the winner between the three best songs of 2019 unsurprisingly from the same film; Doori, Apna Time Ayega, and Azadi. All three songs were the outcry on social problems and rebel rage. Azadi was the one I felt the best with much deeper commentary.
Yes, it has to be Hamid. People tell me that Bollywood doesn’t make good films. The point is if Bollywood is coming up with quality stories, yes. That is the other thing if viewers are ready to accept or not. Article 15 raised the equality issue and Upstarts was a much-needed push for the people who create a startup with dreams of building it big. Section 375 was a courageous effort of depicting a misleading part of feminism and Photograph was a situational drama about the meeting of two very different people. While Gully Boy was about the struggles of the street rappers.
Hamid is a completely different plot than any 2019 film I have watched. Hamid is an impressive, heartbreaking and emotional story about a 7-year-old kid in Kashmir who has lost his father and his relatives comfort him that his father has gone to Lord to do some work. Desperate to meet his father again, he quests for some source to speak to God in all innocence.
I am much focused on screenplays whenever I watch a film. The entire film can drop your emotions wherever the screenwriting falls flat. It is a very essential part of filmmaking. People hardly know about this film and astonishingly is the best screenwriting against many excellent writings of 2019 for me.
Let me tell you why. In almost 120 minutes of the screen time, writers Ketan and Udai (who is also the director) tell you about some friends who think about creating a startup and convincingly fit all the phases of business cycles. The film neither runs in haste not goes slow. The pace is neutral and the story easily grows on me. It is not easy to tell all the business phases in precision in given limited screen time. And that is why for me, the screenplay of Upstarts is the best.
I don’t know if anyone will agree with me but this film actually had the most contrasting dialogues than any film last year. A young journalist gets an assignment to solve the decades-old mystery about the assassination of the former prime minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri. She gets a place in a committee to dig into this matter where different kinds of intellectuals sit and argue.
So for this kind of political thriller, the dialogues require a terrific momentum of an intellectual conversation, history talks, rumors, blames, heated arguments, bold and bullet criticism, and I believe Vivek Agnihotri nailed it. Impressive dialogues were the main reason that the loud performances of such an ensemble cast doubled the worth of this film.
This may be unpopular or unexpected choice after watching all the films of 2019 but I found this 8-minute shot one of the best things ever happened in Bollywood in recent years.
This is when teacher Anand Kumar orders his students to perform a street act outside the school for 20 minutes strictly in English without uttering a single Hindi word. The next day, the kids strive out in front of the scores of students and get an outrageous response. The spectators roar to leave and the performers refuse. In repetition, the performers somehow finds the way to extend the act by giving an unexpected entertainment for which they didn’t prepare for. The beauty is that Basanti Don’t Dance naturally happens without the teacher’s instructions with the help of the spectators and angry response by floor beatings.
This crazy segment was deep, dark, bizarre and a remarkable commentary of class divisions. This was an astonishing presentation of a mind-blowing provocation against classism. Ganesh Acharya’s superb choreography and powerful performances by those youngsters gave that lengthy sequence a distinguished quality of filmmaking.
Not MC Sher from Gully Boy? I am afraid not. I admit it was, without any doubt, a wonderful performance on his debut but my opinion is that it is the popularity of the character and the performances leading to his favor, especially in the awards function. Tremendous confidence in the role he played but there weren’t many minutes to invest for acting than the focus was on his performance. I think Murad’s other friend Moeen had a much sensible performance.
Another factor that the readers must understand is the comparison with the other supporting roles. There were other actors last year who I believe certainly did better than Siddhant. In my mind, two were the closest in this honor, Deepak Dobriyal, and Vishal Jethwa. Deepak’s case was highly physical and Vishal’s case was mental. Deepak has the experience, Vishal is a 25yo debutant whose incredible villainous role in Mardaani 2 caught our attention. Vishal’s facial performance and killer eyes brought horror in the script and gave a memorable performance which will certainly remind anyone of Ashutosh Rana’s earliest success in Dushman and Sangharsh. Imagine, both Dobriyal and Jethwa were not nominated in this category in Filmfare!
I never thought Ranveer will ever impress me but one thing was for sure that his energetic charisma can get the use of better promises. He needs a director who can develop his acting potentials and here we are. Zoya picked the right man for the role. Ranveer is naturally the perfect Gully Boy.
An escapist and socially furious Murad is lost in the troubles from his domestic life and love affair. Addicted to his passion, he raps his social commentary and inclines towards the changes in the coming times.
I don’t know how did Alia Bhatt win Filmfare in this category. Technically, Alia’s role in Gully Boy is more of supporting as the film is completely centralized on Ranveer as Gully Boy. More bizarre was Bhumi not being nominated for her performance in Saand Ki Aankh but won the critics award.
Anyway, why Bhumi? She plays the role of an old villager and the portrayal is spot on. She brilliantly gets hold of the Haryanvi dialect and superbly adopts the mannerism of an old woman. Observe her walking style, rage, facial expressions and all funny scenes with Taapsee. This is Bhumi’s best performance to date and I found her to be the most impressive in executing her role.
This was a difficult decision. The tie was between Zoya and Shonali. Why I chose latter is because she took a very sensitive subject to its utter depth and also directed a few shots which hit straight to the heart like the couples arguing over transplant in the hospital, Aditi’s first mental collapse, Niren falling on his son’s lap and crying and many more. Shonali had a tough time in developing the characters due to different time periods.
What other film wins this honor than Gully Boy? There is no strong competition. There do are excellent films as mentioned below but none comes close to this. Gully Boy is the outcry from the slums of Mumbai where Murad is stuck in his tense domestic life and for escapism, tries to focus on rapping and does the social commentary.
Gully Boy, from all sorts, was a unique cinematic achievement where the voice of a lower-middle-class common man was whispered and the struggle of street rappers was depicted. I wish Gully Boy had made to the final round of the Academy Awards for the foreign-language category because this film was the most potentially acceptable film from all standards to reach the Oscar.
Gully Boy is full of energy and covers a few significant aspects like parent abuse and child labor. The story, screenplay, and dialogues are so carefully worked that the film easily grows on the viewers. Then the characterization also goes in favor to apply on remarkable writing. Some very impressive characters in the support develop the plot. The brilliance in the musical numbers does the rest.
Other Notable Films:
Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
The Sky Is Pink
The Tashkent Files
Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil
Mere Pyare Prime Minister
The Accidental Prime Minister
Saand Ki Aankh
The Sky Is Pink
Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
The Tashkent Files
Saand Ki Aankh
Thank you for reading my annual Bollywood honors report. I will return with a new report next year. Share your opinion below. Stay safe.
“Being alone with fear can rapidly turn into panic. Being alone with frustration can rapidly turn into anger. Being alone with disappointment can rapid turn into discouragement and, even worse, despair.”
My jaws drop. My handbag too. I sense that my soul has departed already. My body is cold like dead meat for a few seconds. My brain is losing blood and cannot think furthermore. This ridiculously generous man who did a huge favor to me by giving this job and helped me recover from what I was suffering for all these months is… a criminal? Mr… Rodriquez? A killer? Did I give my semi-personal job interview to a murderer?
He said he loved his wife and she was expecting. How can he kill his pregnant wife? He was worried about his daughters. All his life stories about survival that day and being a responsible and loving husband and father at his yard-
[“Always love your family. Always always love and shield your family.”]
This is conflicting and unthinkable!
“He has murdered his wife and his children this morning. We just saw the evidence and he has also confessed. He does have murdered his family.”
This is just gruesome and dreadful. That day, he was in such a jovial mood that he planned to watch the NBA game with me today. And he just committed homicide this morning.
“I cannot believe this. I never felt in our last conversation if he can be a criminal.”
Mr. Proctor shoulders me as he acknowledges the significance of my meeting with him and we go to the office. No formal introduction. The office is silent. I see people around muttering with each other. As I try to regain my shattered confidence, some cops behind me are murmuring. It is the most unexpected beginning of the first day at the office in my professional career and I-
“Please go to my office *indicating*. I will see you anon.”
In his office, I observe an enthralling abstract painting of Kandinsky’s Composition VII framed on one of the walls. The other wall has a fine art print of the album cover of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue. On the main wall behind his Victorian office table is a wonderful portrait of Mr. Proctor sitting on his chair and Mr. Rodriquez standing behind him inclined towards him dropping his arms on his shoulders.
“An astounding work of art, isn’t it?”
“Without an inch of doubt. You, sir, are the man of the art.”
He hands me a cappuccino. A phone on his table rings. He attends, speaks, apologizes and confirms that the candidate has been recruited. Reminds me that Mr. Rodriquez instructed him to tell the candidates to call today. We sit on the sofas opposite each other.
“As it is very clear that I am much older than Mr. Rodriquez but we share a camaraderie because we have spent a lot of time in office life. And I have known him for years. *sipping cappuccino* He was never a criminal. Mr. Rodriquez and his wife, Julie, loved each other all their lives. They were childhood friends. With age comes responsibility. He was a prodigy, exceptional student and held managerial promises when he topped in business management. His father immediately put him to work and fulfilled his wish to marry his wife. They had 3 daughters, Nancy, Shirley and Maggie, and had a son, Peter. Nancy was the eldest, Shirley and Maggie were twins. The fifth was supposed to arrive… in a few months.
Mr. Rodriquez and Julie were the perfect couples. He took me to many opulent parties with his wife. Opulent because he has many rich friends. And in those parties, they were eyes and ears to many.
♪ We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that’s walking around with me
And then she asks me, Do you feel all right?
And I say, “Yes, I feel wonderful tonight” ♪
The couples were so generous, benevolent and meek to their *thinking* Cercle des Amis that no one spared a moment to speak maliciously about them. I… still remember… their slow dances.
♪ I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes ♪
[*Julie tight hugging Rodriquez during the slow dance. Her arms rounding over his shoulders. Her feet over his. Rodriquez kissing her forehead. Julie smiling in response. Rodriquez whispering something at her ear and smoothly kissing her ear lobe. Julie feeling shy and burying her face over his chest.*]
♪ And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you ♪
Years passed by, Mr. Rodriquez led a very happy personal and professional life. And no curse assaulted their companionship. But then, someone spread a false rumor that Julie was cheating on him. First, he didn’t believe but some terrible coincidences fixed Mrs. Rodriquez meeting her old schoolmate, Thomas, to whom he never liked since his childhood. The most annoying part was that Thomas looked like him. No one brainwashed him. No one discussed it with him. It was a very sensitive matter. He just happened to unintentionally eavesdrop in a gathering. He expressed his fear to me, I calmed him and advised to trust his woman. After all, they have been together since childhood.
But he, unfortunately, began doubting on her. On a few occasions, he noticed Julie being with Thomas at some distance from the weekend parties. Once, he dropped her to their home. Julie was wearing that Michael Kors ruffle dress he gifted her on their wedding anniversary. Rodriquez told me that she never happened to wear that dress until that night. He questioned her the choice of her dress for that evening and asked her about the emergence of Thomas followed by a series of sudden frequent meetings. Julie could not believe nor tolerate the magnitude of suspicions Rodriquez built on her. In the coming days, there were heated arguments. Julie intentionally began to see Thomas in front of him to infuriate him as a reprisal for doubting. They began to verbally fight and disappear from the weekend parties. Their kids began to notice the shambles.
The mother convinced her children that their father has gone naive and has started to doubt her character. She let the children meet Thomas and sometimes, he offered Julie and children the ride and dinner. Soon, he lost the company of their children. No more birthdays were celebrated at home. No more gifts were accepted at home. And… no more money was demanded by his children at home.
Things were falling apart. His family was everything to him but he couldn’t bear the growing distance. A couple of times, he was lost during the meeting. I once asked and he revealed that he saw his wife on the call in the middle of the last night.
Once, she came home as late as two in the morning. As expected, Thomas dropped her. Rodriquez explained that he noticed from his window that she, in his car, was visibly upset. Maybe she shared the recent tensions between them to him but he could be encouraging her not to finish with her husband. But then, Rodriquez noticed Thomas’ hand touching her bare knee as she was wearing a knee-size skirt and smoothly comforting with the tip of his fingers around her knee for a few seconds. Her upset face and the body language stood unchanged and she didn’t even warn him of any possible harassment. Things had really fallen apart.
Sporadically, I noticed him weeping in his office looking at his tab or sometimes gazing outside the window.”
Was he pretending to watch the polo game through his binoculars that day?
“I advised him to revert to his Catholic faith and give up atheism expecting that God may listen to his prays with the change of heart. There could be a miracle, who knows. He accepted. This was the first time since his university days that he began to follow his religion. It was a very difficult period of time and he struggled to maintain the balance in personal and professional lives.”
“But he told me during the interview that he is an atheist.”
“Because he was secretive. He maintained his repute and didn’t let his personal distraught interfere with his office work.”
“Hm. So what happened then?”
“His close neighbor, also an associate of mine, informed me this morning that around 1am, a friend of them, surely Thomas, left the apartment and Mrs. Rodriquez delightfully waved her hand for goodbye. A few minutes later, Mr. Rodriquez parked and came out of the car looking furious. The neighbor stayed on their window to check their lights and tried to listen from them but there was no sound and the light went off after an hour.
The neighbor heard the screaming outside the door at around 7 this morning. There were two old couples which I realized were in-laws of Mr. Rodriquez because he had informed me a few days ago that they were coming to spend a week with them. So they noticed the bodies lying on the floor through one of the windows. Mr. Rodriquez wasn’t there and the cops were called immediately. So was I. The couples had tried to ring the bell for 5 straight minutes, knocked on the door and call on their phones. Even checked them on social networks. Their last activities were around seven hours.
The worrying old couples guessed that Mr. Rodriquez may have left for the job early morning like he does every day. But the neighbor disagreed as he informed that he leaves for a job at around 8.30 am because his duty starts at 9 am. Why would he leave so early? And didn’t he see his family dead while leaving? And if they were killed after he left then when were they killed? Because the neighbor noticed an incensed Rodriquez entering his house at midnight. There is a possibility that he may have witnessed Thomas before reaching the doorstep. And why would he leave so early when he knew that his in-laws were arriving? Then why would he murder his family when he knew that they were arriving to spend the whole week? Mr. Rodriquez would have noticed Thomas before reaching his home from some distance as the neighbors confirmed that Mr. Rodriquez entered a few minutes after he left.”
“What about the evidence?”
“Mr. Rodriquez is stranger to crime as this was his first. Rage summoned him to spill more blood. As the series of questions were uttered to make a case, one of the phones rang. It was Julie’s phone. It was Thomas. He informed that Mr. Rodriquez has just threatened him but didn’t tell him anything about the crimes he has just appalled. At the same time, one of our colleagues called me to reach the office as Mr. Rodriquez looked pretty suspicious as he was threatening to someone on the call. It was then apparent. The cops and I immediately reached to the office. When we entered his office, he was just sitting on his chair and weeping while looking at his phone. One of the cops grabbed his phone and when he checked, a photo album was open. The cop noticed the latest picture and clicked.”
“He… *eyes wide open* he took the picture of his criiime?”
“No. He took the picture of the family sitting on their chairs. And each of them had their wrists, feet, and mouth duct-taped. And they were looking straight to the camera as if they were ordered to do. The time was 2.57 am. Their bodies were… *thinking*… lying… on the floor when we found this morning.
The cops began their formalities. Rodriquez started crying. He confessed despite the cops gave him the Miranda warning.
[‘Mr. Proctooor! *gulping* He was there. He was theerree at myyy home. In myy absence. She callled him in *lump in throat* when I was not there. The kids were okay about their mom seeing him. *voice breaking* They let him come to see her. And then I realized *shouting* that thoose were never my kids. *shaking head* I was nevver their faather, he was!’
‘Mr. Rodriquez! You have the right to remain silent.’
‘I could not bear it. *moaning* I beat each of them in their rooomms, taped and made them sit on their chair so they can listen to me for once. Listen to me for once. But… but they were trying to yell and pulling force to cut the tape. *shouting* It drove me craazzier that they can let her lover in but cannot spare a minute to listen to meee??? *screaming* I took the chef knife and started stabbing their children one after one.’
♪ A call for blood for what you’ve done
No tolerance for what you’ve done ♪
‘Anything you say can be used against you in the court.’
‘I positioned her chair to witness the wrath!’
‘You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions.’
‘*shouting* I made her watch me whamming the knife on their bellies and breaking their ribs. I made her eyes observe the horror of their eyes popping out of the affliction after I stuck their faces with the sharp blade. *screaming* IIII made herrr watch themm diiieee!!’
♪ A call for blood for what you’ve done
No tolerance for what you’ve done ♪
‘*moaning* She swooooned. I sat there on the blood-floor with the knife in my hand anxiously waiting for its final victim. I kept rocking until she regained her consciousness. I wasted no second. Then I reached her. *shouting* I glarrred at her. Gazzed at her knee which allowed him to touch. I said to myself *eyes wide open* that this part deservves a better toool *nodding*. I searched and brought my hammer. She got frightened, piddled and wet her skirt. *head shaking* But I didn’t forgive her. *shouting* And I smmmashed the hammer on her knee and kepttt smashing until the hammer crushed the knee structure. Her mouth struggled to screeaam and resulted in altering her voice. Her head shook rapidly, maybe the pain was unbearable but not more than mine in deceiving me all these years. Then we looked at each other *slowing down* one last time… taking me back into the times… when we were in our teens… enjoying each other’s company… until, *voice raising* to my disgust, he shows up *shouting* and she leaves me to speak to him. I thrust the knife into her belly without blinking my eyes and yelled I LOVED YOU. *moaning and screaming* IIII LOOOOVVVVEEEEDDDD YOOOOUUUU… She felt the excruciating pain but I didn’t. Because *screaming* I whipped the knife again…
*WHIPPING KNIFE ON HER*
♪ Let the blood spill
Vengeance is mine ♪
*WHIPPING KNIFE ON HER*
♪ Let the blood spill
Vengeance is mine ♪
*WHIPPING KNIFE ON HER*
*MORE BLOOD ON HIS FACE*
♪ Let the blood spill
Vengeance is mine ♪
*WHIPPING KNIFE ON HER*
*MORE BLOOD ON HIS FACE*
♪ Let the blood spill
Vengeance is mine ♪
*WHIPPING KNIFE ON HER*
*MORE BLOOD ON HIS FACE*
♪ A call for blood ♪
even after she died.’]
The cops and the entire staff stood on their feet unmoved and listened to him for the final few minutes of his laments. The cops couldn’t continue the typical warning during that horrible confession.”
“You were lost for almost a minute, sir. You remembered something.”
“Yes? Yess. Mr. Qaisar. Yes, yes. I remembered… something. I was lost deep in my thoughts.”
“So, what did he confess when they were arresting him?”
“Well, *thinking* h.he began crying and *thinking* admitted to homicide. He wanted to fetch the details but the cops hurried because Mr. Rodriquez was fainting.”
Cappuccino is now poison to me. I have a dry neck. An associate enters the room and shoulders Mr. Proctor for his courage to listen to the details at this age what Mr. Rodriquez uttered. I realize that Mr. Proctor didn’t speak the detail to me on purpose because it was unnecessary. He looks blenched and lost. He tries to regain his composure. He is a gutsy ol’ man. The associate leaves the room.
“It was a scary confession, Mr. Qaisar. He raised his tone and gathered a sympathetic crowd. He was not in his senses but he was. Because he remembered every detail of the crime he submitted. His disturbing statement blew the minds of everyone. Some of them quickly left the scene. A few left the office. One of our associates vomited due to a sudden headache. It’s a rough day.”
“I have no words. *shaking head* This whole horrible incident has moved me. I never imagined that my first day at the office can be like this. The other day, I came to know so much about him, about his life, about his struggles. He already had lost so much in his life when he was young and now these murde-”
“I.I’m sorry. Perhaps I am not following you here. What did he lose when he was young? What did he tell you?”
A thought twisted my head. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
“Apology for not understanding. What did you mean that he lost so much in his life?”
“I just remember. Why did you say earlier that his father made him work and let him marry his wife?”
“I asked you the question first, and twice.”
“That his parents died in a fire when he was very young. And his sister during the delivery.”
“His father is sitting right in front of me in the GM room pretending that he is on a business call which I am guessing that he is speaking to his wife who is not here because she has gone to attend an art exhibition somewhere.”
I look back where he points through his eyebrows about his… father. I stand up looking at him, hands in my pockets. Trying to understand what story was Mr. Rodriquez telling me that day.
“He said his parents died in the fire!”
“And he doesn’t have any sister. He is his parents’ only child. Which means that once his father retires running this company-”
“Running this company?”
“he will take the seat and run the company which I believe is not certain to happen after this horrible incident.”
“What is going on? I just don’t understand. Why did he lie to me? I was so impressed listening about his success story and this was all fake?”
Mr. Proctor doesn’t look surprised at me. He is sitting on his sofa with the same facial expressions, blank. He does look hurt by the vicissitude but the contradiction in the stories doesn’t bother him at all. So what is that supposed to mean?
“You know all this? Right?”
“Mr. Rodriquez is strange but was a humble and generous individual. You are not alone. He lied to most of the candidates. Even to the younger generations like students or friends of his children.”
“But why? Why did he lie to the people? It doesn’t make any sense. Why waste your time speaking spurious stories when you don’t want to hire them? I.I am filled with gratitude for his munificence but was this all necessary? I was praising about my new boss to my parents who live in Lahore now. Can you understand how my emotions have dropped after knowing that he is a liar?”
“One day I asked him about lying but the response moved me and I never ventured to doubt him or his worthiness. He told me,
[‘Mr. Proctor! *looking outside his window* I wish if I was born poor so I would understand the value and significance of money. But that wish has vanished because *smiling and facing Proctor* I am the son of my father. The fees for my school and university were all paid with ease. I never stood in this queue full of job seekers nor did I wait in the guest room… for hours. Nor did I pay my bills or any expenses. *sitting with hands on his back* I live a lavish life.
I got this chair by my father and when I sit on it… and the candidates show up into my office. I look at their desperate faces. All of them. The accountants, the salesmen, IT people, all of them. Some fake in front of me about their confidence as if they have multiple interviews and it doesn’t bother if they are to be eventually rejected. And some enter the room like beggars who pray day and night to pass this interview. These all candidates are the same people who want the jobs to survive, to get the money and make that life which I already have. And their faces and body language drops the moment I tell them that we will call you. Mr. Proctor! Whether they get the job or not, they need to be encouraged.
You understand the ongoing global economic crisis. *shaking head* Millions and millions of people around the world are losing their jobs. Many companies are cutting jobs or reducing the pay scales to avoid the deficit. When people go jobless, it is like his/her family goes homeless. Social and economic lives are hit by some kind of rock. With people going jobless, the country’s economy is also hit by a rock too. The policies should be revised to boost the chances of those who lost their jobs. In my capacity, they must be helped. If not in my company, I recommend to my friends in the other company to hire them.
I have seen people committing suicide due to failures. Many of them struggle without any outcome. I know that people at my position in most of the companies won’t even care about them. So on many occasions, I ask them to confidently open up and I lie to them convincing that my story is more miserable than theirs so that they can buck up their spirit and stay positive. And why won’t they? *smiling* I make my story more frustrating than what they inform to me. They surely ask themselves that if he had more problems than me then my series of whining is completely useless.’]
I feel sooo anguished that this man has to end up this way. May God force his wrath on the culprit who spread rumors about his deceased wife. She didn’t deserve this *wet eyes* nor did their children. He began to theorize that his children were actually Thomas’ because Thomas and Mr. Rodriquez resembled. You see how one rumor or a gossip destroys the house? I am in no position to speak to his father.”
“And I was so excited all this weekend because that man cheered me with his fictional stories and offered me the job. He helped me, Mr. Proctor. I cannot express the crisis I was suffering for some time before this interview.”
[“Do not fail me, young man! And never ever give up!”]
“Mr. Qaisar! Do well and have well in return. And never whisper false as this leads to no good. Slandering harms, distrusts and distances people. Mr. Rodriquez did a favor and helped you. You have a lifeline to prove that he wasn’t wrong about you.”
[“Do not fail me, young man! And never ever give up!”]
“So tell me, young man. After all what happened today, are you still willing to work with us?”
[“Do not fail me, young man! And never ever give up!”]
“Yes, Mr. Proctor. I am more determined to work.”
[“Do not fail me, young man! And never ever give up!”]
“And I promise I won’t fail him.”
“Very well. *nodding* I think you should start by tomorrow. Most of us hardly will make the day.”
“Yes. You are right.”
“I will leave too.”
“Sh.Should I speak to his father?”
“No, no need to bother him. Even I cannot speak to him. I will introduce you to him myself when the time is right. Come on! I will drop you home.”
“Oh, that is very kind of you, Mr. Proctor.”
“By your age, you have to be close to his father more than his son.”
“Who? Ah, yes yes. His father and I have been close associates. He gave me this job and I started as his helper. Learnt a lot from him with age and time. Our families have strong ties for some decades. When Rodriquez was growing, I promised I will look after him when he starts to work. I feel I have disappointed him but I will speak to him soon. Maybe tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Mr. Qaisar. Oh, and do you see the one on the left?”
“Mustang in blue with a broken bumper and headlight?”
“Correct. This one is Mr. Rodriquez’s.”
*SITTING IN THE OLD CADILLAC*
“Wow. He even met an accident recently?”
“He really met a lot of troubles in recent times.”
“Mr. Rodriquez and I were picking a business friend from the airport early morning. *driving* We dropped her at her hotel and then we routed towards my place to drop me. During the drive, his wife called him. In a few seconds, they began shouting and he drove fast. I requested to slow down but he was furiously abusing to her on the call.”
“Then? He came back to his senses only when he hit a dog near the signal.”
[“Things… happen… for a reason.”]
♪ He blew his mind out in a car
He didn’t notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They’d seen his face before
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords♪
“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”
[“Mr. Qaisar! We have observed your CV and expect you to visit our office today at 1’o’clock sharp. Regards, William Proctor.”]
Minutes have crossed since I received the message but I am still not accepting that there is still hope. I can still cope.
I am reading the message again. Finger-pointing each and every word. Yes, I am asked to reach at 1.
*LOOKING AT MIRROR*
♪ This time tomorrow where will we be
On a spaceship somewhere sailing across an empty sea ♪
I slowly touch my throat, gulp and feel the movement over there. I shake my head in shock. I am still wearing the shorts I vomited and piddled. The exploding heart has slowed down in these past few minutes. The house is silent. My shrieking ears have gone deaf. Push, my fatty, is returning with contentment by seeing me normal but after sniffing my shorts, she leaves within the seconds disgruntled.
Although, this is just a response to the job opportunity so I must not fall deluded believing that I will get the job. They are obviously calling me for an interview. And there will be many more prospects waiting for their turn. Which means I will not be alone. I will be surrounded by many bootlickers with no quality experience but strong reference. Or I may be adjoined by the candidates with fake CVs who really are digging jobs like me but do not have work experience. But will I get the job? I cannot refuse to visit the office just because I am not prepared for this. Forty-five minutes is too rapid and difficult to manage coming out of a suicide attempt to reaching the office.
A suicide attempt! Yes, Qaisar. A few minutes ago, you were about to take your life with a sorry note to your brother. Is this the sign? Was Qaisar waiting for this all these months? Is this why you lost your job?
Gosh, my hands and feet are still shaking. I feel stomach ache. I have to be sober and try to come back to my senses. Ponder, Qaisar! Ponder! I’ll take the bath and wear the most suitable attire for the job interview.
Oh, wait! My car! *palm slap on forehead* Oh my car! It is at the car repair shop. I emptied my wallet this morning. I don’t have money for transport. It is a very important moment in my life. I see no other solution than asking my neighbor for a favor. And I hope my neighbor be kind enough to lend me some money as I feel embarrassed to ask them every week. I am afraid that one day, I will disappoint so many people when they ask me to return.
I am thinking but I am not thinking. I am confounded but excited. My brain, my throat, my stomach is still sensing the aches. Recovery will take time but I don’t have enough… time. So what I am going to do is prepare a strong coffee and take a quick cold shower.
Relax, Qaisar! Everything will be alright. This message is the indication that I will have good news by the end of the day. Be optimistic, Qaisar! Be optimistic!
♪ I don’t know where I’m going, I don’t want to see
I feel the world below me looking up at me ♪
ONLY 40 MINUTES AFTER ATTEMPTING TO COMMIT SUICIDE
To the receptionist, “Good day, madam. Mr. Proctor asked me to show up at-”
“Aaah Mr. Qaisar! The name is William Proctor. I mailed you an hour ago to join at this precise time. *looking at his watch*”
“Oh! Mr. Proctor! Good to see you, Sir.”
“I cannot share both the titles simultaneously. You can simply call me by my name. But if you still insist, then add Mr. and avoid the first name.”
“Very well Proctor Sir. Ssorry, Mr. Proctor.”
“Are you in haste? Do you have an appointment at two different places at a similar time?”
“No no. Actually, I wasn’t ready for…. Mr. Proctor! Maybe we should discuss the reason I am called for.”
“Mr. Qaisar! Please have a seat in the guest room. Be prepared when your name is announced. Then I will respectfully escort you to Mr. Rodriquez.”
“*nodding* espectflee scort you to Mr. Rodriquez. *losing confidence* Understood. Thank you.”
When I enter the guest room, it is already full of my competitors looking for a white-collar job. As soon as the door opens, they all stare at me. Some of them smirk to make me feel sheepish. I have undergone this all my life. I remember such similar awkward memories like my parents introducing me to their entire ugly extended family in the hometown when I was a kid, or when I was stepping in the school bus and then in the classroom for the first time and in the waiting rooms of the hospitals.
I have been sitting for the past couple of hours and almost a dozen candidates have left. And then, when the time is near to call my name, I realize that I have come to the office empty-handed and looking around hither and thither like a nincompoop. Like a panicked Basil Fawlty. In hurriedness, I left all my project notes from my previous works behind. I look at my palms and then bury my face in it. My palms had the boldness to hold a knife but cannot occupy with the documents. I have badly forgotten the documents on the dining table. *reasoning* Is this why some of the candidates were smirking at me?
I raise and look at myself in the mirror and to my misery, I notice that the visible portion of my shirt between the sides of the suit jacket has visible marks of my old sweat.
“Mr. Qaisar Amjad! Your wait is over. Let me escort you.”
At the corridor, I am receiving a call. Oh my God! It is Nizam! I forgot to call him.
“Brother! At least answer my phone.”
“I.I.I’m so sorry. I am about to give a job invertiew. Call you later, bye.”
I step on Mr. Proctor’s shoe. What a terrible mistake! While I stepped on him, I notice that I am wearing a pair of running shoes.
“Oh, I am so sorry, I.I.I don’t know how did I step on-”
“Never mind Mr. Qaisar. It was-”
“A.Allow me allow me to collect your documents and and *thinking* your coupons, Sir”
“Coupons, Sir. These are, are they?”
“It is coupons, Mr. Qaisar, not coupons.”
Humiliation at its pinnacle! Never came to my attention aaalll my life that the correct pronunciation is kew-pon, not co-pun. And here I slipped my tongue in all innocence in front of this old British gentleman.
“Oh, I get it. A.Actually I-”
“Mr. Qaisar! *grinning* Let me state you a fact which you do not realize while being in a jiffy. You are not the only gentleman who discovers the nervousness of listening about his fate from the interviewer. Did you notice all the gentlemen and gentlewomen who were sitting before you?”
“When they came out of the room, they behaved the same way as you. One of them actually couldn’t reach the interview room and left for the restroom. *laughing* So, you see! You are better than-”
“Thank you, Mr. Proctor, for the tenth consecutive motivational speech. It is very certain that you should take rest from escorting the candidates and drink a glass of water. Now, if you are done, will you please be kind and send Mr. Qaisar to my office?”
“And *smiling* this was the voice of your interviewer. I wish you the best of luck.”
Mr. Proctor leaves me at the door. Bare hands, sweat on my shirt and the running shoes. I have already chopped more than enough onions. I take a deep breath and knock at the door.
*ENTERING THE ROOM*
Tall man *speculating* in his forties of height near 6 feet sporting long hair brushed back and a stubble beard. He is watching polo through his binoculars outside the window with a folded arm.
“Because of *eyeballs down* considering me for the interview, Sir.”
“Have a seat.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Why are you hoarsing?”
“No, Sir. It is just the dryness of-”
“Take this glass of water.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“This morning, I found your response to my offer in the junk mail. I don’t know how that mail moved to that category. But anyhow, I found your CV interesting and informed Mr. Proctor, the one who escorted you, to message you to visit us.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“And now, you will address me, Mr. Rodriquez.”
“Ok, Mr. Rodriquez.”
*CHECKING CV ON HIS TAB*
“Your latest job ended three months ago. Why?”
“My direct manager didn’t honor the agreement. My working hours were fixed for 8 hours a day. But he made me work for 11 to… 10 to 11 hours several times which was not acceptable to me.”
“*scoffing* Not acceptable to you? *surprised* Why? Didn’t your boss pay you overtime for working extra hours?”
“He did. But this led towards work stress *he is listening carefully with eyebrows near his eyelashes* and I was not able to balance my mental capaticy, oh sorry, capacity between home and office.”
If I haven’t committed suicide a few hours ago, my English certainly will make me in a moment.
“For how long were you working there?”
“Three years, Mr. Rodriquez”
*LOOKING IN THE TAB*
“It says two years here.”
“Yes, I think two years. But overall… five years.”
“And you were appointed as?”
“BM. Brand Manager.”
“A Brand Manager. Hmm. Gooood. So what were your responsibilities as a BM?”
10 MINUTES LATER
“I notice you do not bring any folder or document with you which I find quite strange. Even a flash drive of your works supporting your lengthy details would have convinced me. So how can you help me understand your potential as a BM as the oral presentation is not enough, you know?”
“Mr. Rodriquez! Believe me, if I had time to prepare a.for for the interview then I would not have raised your doubts by coming empty.”
“I am not doubting your capability. But it is quite strange to understand that you were not ready for this. Candidates who seek jobs are always ready for the call. *head shaking like NO* I am sorry but-”
*EYES POP AND MOUTH OPEN IN SUDDEN SHOCK*
I am not able to maintain myself at all. My composure is compromised. He shook his head. It is over. I was an imbecile to arrive here with no preparation. I should have requested for a-
“Are you alright? Take another glass of water. Feel free.”
*DRINKS IN ONE BREATH*
“I assume you took my ‘sorry’ as rejection. I was about to say sorry if you mind because I find the response terrible. That is it. That is what I was going to say.”
Duffer you, Qaisar. Duffer you.
*MUSTERING THE COURAGE*
“Sorry to facially embarrass you, Mr. Rodriquez. Actually, this is the first call in three months for a.any job. So I was lost.”
“If you don’t mind, may I discover what have you been doing for the past three months?”
“I will try to sum up in a few lines. Basically, I have arrested myself at home because all my savings have been incurred on my brother’s education, *voice breaking* shopping, bills, rents, etc. I tried to mail about the job vacancies in this time period but failed to get any response. I lost all my money and had to seek help from my friends to pay the rent to the landlord.”
“And did you physically hunt? for the jobs? anywhere?”
“Only one brother with you at home?”
“Yes. My parents left the city due to the financial crisis a few years ago. At that time, I had a job and good money enough to help myself, my brother, and send a few to my parents. Now, they are not aware of my current situation because I don’t want to-”
“bother sharing, heart-breaking account, to the parents, who depend, upon you. Yes yes. Hm.”
“Yes, Mr. Rodriquez. But not that they require my financial assistance currently. They are in a much better situation then they were when they moved back. They are a large migrated family so they have each other’s back.”
“Mr. Rodriquez! You asked about these months and that is why I spoke in length. And I know that this has nothing to do with my work. But thank you for listening to me as a person.”
“Therefore, I sincerely request you to give me time to prepare myself for the next day.”
“You mean Monday.”
“Oh yes yes yes. Today is Friday. Kindly give me one more chance. I promise you will listen to no complaints when you conduct another interview.”
“Do you realize Mr. Qaisar that you are selling yourself pretty quickly? I understand your situation but you do not have to drop yourself that your professional appearance compromise at your current situation.”
“My apologies, Mr. Rodriquez. But my life heavily depends on this job. It took three months to finally get a response. I don’t know what would have happened if I had not received the message. Sir, you are the boss. We have different economic situations. *smiling* You will understand my situation only if you are in my place.”
“*scoffing* In your place? *smiling* In your place? Mr. Qaisar! Are you assuming that the man in front of you has enjoyed an ideal and perfect life? Without any suffering or hardship? Do you ween that employers or those employees in senior positions or those working at some collar jobs with high pay never face difficult situations?”
“I.I never meant that, Mr. Rodriquez? What I want to make you understand is that I am mentally disturbed in my life for some time and that is why I am not able to impress you in a job interview.”
He separates his folded hands, stretches his palms, brings close to his chest and tries to make a point.
“You are mentally disturbed in your life because this is how you feel in the given circumstances. And believe me from your most exhausting brain and heart that I have seen worse cases than yours. Every individual in his/her magnitude of depression and stress behaves and believes that he or she is at the lowest possible form of life crisis. They behave like any normal human caught in flu or body ache. I am not a doctor but a human with the emotional experience.”
“Mr. Qaisar, how old are you?”
“I am 28.”
“28 haan! *grinning* You feel you are facing the worst crisis at 28 haan!? Are your parents alive?”
“Yes. Both of them. Like I told yo-”
“Both of them? *raising eyebrows* Both of them? Now imagine a 15-year-old boy in the hostel been informed that his parents have died trying to save the house on fire.”
I am unmoved for a few seconds and not believing what he just said. I am honestly lost for words but trying.
“I.I.I am sooo sorry to know this, Mr. Rodriquez.”
He lifts from his chair. Inspects outside. No more polo. Fills his pockets with his hands and speaks to me.
“They were burnt in our home where I was born and raised with my toys, cards, cassettes, music player, childhood pictures, drawings, and countless memories. My sister was teaching in the kindergarten as the fire ate our house in daylight. She was six years elder than me and at 21, she agonizingly screamed that it affected her brain and also lost her voice.”
“No more candidates today Mr. Proctor. Inform them to call on Monday morning. Thank you.”
“While *pointing at himself* this prodigy returned from the hostel, myself and Suha, my sister, were taken by my childless uncle and aunt who later admitted me to a better school and Suha, who was not able to teach further after losing her voice, was married to an old businessman. Three years later, I lost my sister in her maternal death. So I was alone at 18. Mr. Qaisar! *grinning* Have you lost anyone in your family?”
“No, I haven’t. My parents are old but alive and my younger brother is with me.”
*TAKING HIS JACKET OFF*
“We humans are a subject of comfort and torture. Somewhere, we are responsible and somewhere, we are put to test. Young man! Realize that you are put to test and your case or crisis is not that bad as many others are suffering. Be thankful Mr. Qaisar! Be thankful! Look at you! Only three members of your family are depending on you. And *looking in the tab* you are not even married, are you?”
“No, I am not.”
He hits politely on the table and sits back on his chair.
“Are you engaged? Or committed to someone?”
“No Mr. Rodriquez, I am not.”
He shakes his head in bewilderment.
“So why are you so depressed? Look at me! *pointing at himself again* I am married with my lovely wife and four kids. 3 daughters and a son. The fifth is arriving soon in a couple of months.”
“Oh congratulations in advance to you, Mr. Rodriquez.”
“Thank you, young man! But try to understand my point here. You are a bachelor and your depression is nowhere close to a married man like me.”
“I understand, Sir”
“No, you don’t understand, young man! *lifts from his chair and stands nearby* When I was 24 and I married the woman I loved. She gave me twins. We were bubbly. One day, the company went bankrupt and it shut down within a week. After all the promises, the owners didn’t pay a penny to me or any worker. It was a recession period but somehow my family and I survived. Some helping hands and some labor force. With work, I was preparing for my graduation exams. But I gave up due to no money. And the family was my obvious priority. It took 18 months to get a new job, 18 months young man!
Today, I am worried about my young girls. Every father naturally is. Every time they see me, they insist to hand them some money and I cannot refuse. And this belief kills me, what if I meet the crisis again? So I have more things to worry about, Mr. Qaisar.”
“It is very understandable that you are a practical man who has encountered more difficult times than me. Maybe I have solutions but I am not thinking that deep to overcome the crisis. But I fear that one day, those who helped me in difficult times may question because it is their right.”
“See, my experience and moral teaches me that when you help someone, never ever expect for a favor in return. Never. And ever. If they are able to help you in return or repay you, it is up to you to accept the aid or money or just simply refuse in good spirits. Your friends at least helped you to pay the landlord recently. That is what you said before, right?”
“Yes, yes, they helped me.”
“Goood! At least you were helped by your friends.”
“What about you? Did you happen to-”
“Yes. *laughing* A few years ago. Before joining this company, I was broke and lost much of my earnings in a failed business venture. That resulted in fake promises to my landlord. For two consecutive months, I sought financial favors from my friends but no help came. It was not their fault because none of them were that financially stable as I was before my business failed.
And one day, the owner arrived at my door. He ordered me to empty the apartment within two hours. Imagine the agony. I was helpless as a husband and unprotected as a father. He was just standing there gazing my hopelessness and I was wandering and staring at the flats in my neighborhood. To my good luck, someone solaced our agitation. One neighbor offered the money to the landlord at the eleventh hour. And then we stayed there. After observing that neighbor, another showed up at our door and gave us some curry. *smiling*”
“Honestly, I am speechless to your accounts.”
“*laughs* Mr. Qaisar! *sits on his chair and both hands on the back of his head* This is life. Always love your family. Always, always love and shield your family. We are different people from different backgrounds for different purposes but one facet which should always remain common is humanity. Someone in the neighborhood was human. I cannot repay him for what he did. And again, if I would ever repay that kind of favor, I do not know if he would accept or refuse in good spirits.
Life has taught me to help people. This reduces the distance between them. Now, you were supposed to impress me by your professional capacity as a BM but thanks to you, Mr. Qaisar, that you forgot to bring your work material to start a different conversation. And this is a very important point that you *pointing finger* must always remember *pause* that things… happen… for a reason.”
“Because humans today have lost themselves in materialism, violence, self-destruction and greedy competition so they don’t realize. But you, Mr. Qaisar, after all that lengthy heart-to-heart conversation, I honestly believe that you deserve a chance.”
*DIAMOND IN MY EYES*
“R.Really, Mr. Rodriquez!?!? D.Do I?”
“Yes, young man! It will be too jarring and discourteous; and I will be evil to send you empty, hopeless and distorted after that *thinking* tête-à-tête. Today is Friday, so you can commence working from Monday. I will put you on trial and will scrutinize you if you really are capable to work as our company’s BM. If things work well and you surpass my expectation, I will make sure that you are paid with all the possible allowances and provide you vehicle and accommodation. *grinning*”
He takes his key, a journal, a handbag. That is it. Interview ends. I get the job. Yes, I get the job!
“Thank you so much, Sir. *shaking head* Thank you sooo much. Much obliged, Sir. *handshakes* I am… I am lost for words and I wish if my parents were with me, I would have invited you to meet them.”
“Otherwise, you won’t?”
“No no no. *grinning* I didn’t mean that. You are most welcome, Mr. Rodriquez.”
He is folding his suit jacket.
“You have no idea how much I am grateful to you despite the fact that I wa-”
“Attaboyyy!! I have your number. See you on Monday.”
Honestly, that ‘Gooood’ was in Palpatine’s voice. But he has surprised me. What a jolly fellow he is. Such a friendly gesture he has. And he also likes NBA! We actually are watching NBA together soon? With drinks? Am I dreaming? Who does this? I haven’t even started working. Is this for real? I hope this is not a prank. I hope he is normal.
“Leaving, Mr. Rodriquez”
“Yes, Mr. Proctor. Please look after the employment formalities of the newcomer.”
“Will do, Mr. Rodriquez.”
“*looking at me* And you! Do not fail me, young man! And never ever give up! See you on Monday. And we’ll plan about watching NBA. Mr. Proctor will also join.”
“Me? *laughs* Oh, I’m afraid I-”
“Come onnnn! It will be fun. This guy has 8K UHD! Even I don’t have at my home. Oh, by the way, Mr. Qaisar! He is Celtics. *sarcastically laughing*”
I am confused. Why is he laughing? And should I laugh with him or not. He prepares to leave.
“I must leave now. It was delectation to have you and speaking in length. Come prepared, Mr. Qaisar. Do wash your shirt and wear a better pair of shoes here.”
He kneww itt! And he still recruited me!
“Welcome aboard, Mr. Qaisar.”
“Mr. Proctor! I must admit that Mr. Rodriquez is a very generous and humble man. He is completely the opposite of my former boss. If we have people with such qualities holding the chairs in most of the companies, we employees can never feel distressed.”
“I wish if the global powers would have been that kind and perfect, there would have been no economic crisis.”
“Is he always like this with all the candidates?”
“Most of the times. Yes. He is fond of making people optimistic. But today, he invested more time on this young chap.”
“You are right. I can relate to your point somehow.”
“And I hope *smiling* that you won’t lose your… job.”
“I am confident that I am staying here for long.”
“It’s 4 and I suggest we should do these formalities on Monday.”
“Mr. Proctor! I am yet to ask about your position in the company.”
“I am the secretary to the company’s GM and also have my say as a consultant. Enjoy the weekend.”
I come out of the building. Then I gaze back at the building to the top. Heavy clouds pouring drops on my head in laziness.
It wasn’t pouring for some time. The weather forecast was sunny this morning. I went to the building empty-handed but I feel that my hands are carrying some weight now. The weight of my fate.
♪ I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world ♪
♪ Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’ ♪
A few hours ago, I was about to take my life. I was lost and hopeless. I had an accident this morning. My phone was not mute. I had no money to reach here. I left my documents at home. My e-mail was on the junk. The interview was semi-personal. And this man under his authority gave the chance I was craving for some months. Maybe he was in high spirits before I stepped in to meet him and he may have thought to make the life of any of the candidates. But the point is *thinking* that things happen for a reason. Things… happen… for a reason.
I am looking around, trying to notice why the vehicles stop at red and run at the green from my wet eyes. I think I understand something. I am clapping and joyously chuckling while still looking around. I am smiling as if I have fallen in love again. I look around the busyness of the city.
Two kids of around 8 licking ice creams at a stall. A woman reading a book on the bench with her poodle sitting near her. The workers lifting bricks and some working on a billboard. I am loving everything whatever I see.
But there are things which provoke me to observe the harsh realities on the same streets. A mime entertains a small crowd nearby and after the act, no one drops a penny to his name. A beggar bundled in torn clothes whines for food and a group of witnesses strangely guffaws over his misery imagining if this is a slapstick. A street singer goes unheard lamenting about the man of words who committed suicide after his poetry fell on deaf ears.
♪ Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley ♪
I help an old woman with a walking stick cross the street on the red signal. She thanks me and leaves. I wave my hand on her back which goes unnoticed. Then a beggar from my back appears to me asking for money. I realize on his face that my wallet is empty of notes. I stare at him.
♪ And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall ♪
“Nizam! Don’t forget to collect your key. I am leaving now.”
“Good luck, brother.”
I have my parents’ blessing. I spoke with them on the weekend and informed about the new job. I pretended that I left the previous job for this and skipped reporting all the jeopardies. Why should I tell them? Why should I?
[“Beta! I am so happy and proud of you. Always work hard and earn good money.”
“Oh yes. Something I forgot to tell you. Mrs. Khurshid came last night at our place. You know her daughter, Saba? She has returned from Amsterdam completing her studies. Maa Shaa Allaah, Saba is such a beautiful-”
My car is still in the workshop because the workers later that day left for strike due to non-payment. The neighbor lends me more money as I informed him about my new job. That day, I called the landlord and my friends to inform about the job. Now I am at peace.
I have my Montblanc business bag and derby shoes of Hugo. And there are no marks of sweat as my attire is laundered. So I am missing no chance to give a better impression this time.
And I am enjoying cool breeze hanging in the bus. Above my head, the sun is hiding behind the clouds… just like my recent past. *smiling* And behind my head, I notice a teenage girl making a video of a sleepy passenger with saliva dropping from his mouth and snoring loudly. The scene catches the attention and his nasal thunders chuckle the other passengers, so does I. I recognize the delight on many faces and suddenly my eyes catch sight of a striking girl in a red and white sleeveless fit and flare casual dress of an unknown brand who notices me after chuckling at the sleepy passenger exactly the same time as I to her. She reminds me of Lauren German.
♪ Black Sabbath – Orchid ♪
As soon as we look at each other, my eardrums hark Black Sabbath’s Orchid. We are not chuckling anymore. We don’t care whose snoring has been funny all these seconds. We are glaring at each other. Her sparkling hazel eyes are inviting. She looks at me as if she is daunted with the unwanted coincidence of the chuckling faces fixing the eyes over each other. Maybe she is augmenting her careless mettle where emotions foolishly wander. Maybe she is making a statement. All my conundrums have vanished.
Oh, wait. Some lady holds her arm from the back. She looks back and they are smiling at each other. And she leaves with her at her stop and doesn’t glance back at me. Maybe she is with her. Maybe she is her sister or a friend. Maybe I am thinking too much. Maybe this is becoming my tendency. I remembered Sakina for a moment when she and I fixed our eyes at each other. Our misfiring chemistry led to abysmal farewell.
Now I realize how stupid I was thinking about killing myself. The opportunity knocked and I got a new job hours later. And that is why we should never lose hope. Because someone above the clouds is very kind to you. He is testing my patience. He is observing me.
I have reached on time and I am a few minutes away from 9. It is the new beginning and I hope that I will fit in the working environment with my new….
*STOPPING AND STARING AHEAD*
Why are the cops patrolling down? What is happening in this building?
I walk a few steps ahead. People on the streets are gathering to observe the situation. I ask a few who are standing near the cops. They have no idea. I have no idea. I am getting late on my first day but I am not allowed to enter the building for some time. I must call Mr. Proc-
*EYES WIDE OPEN*
A team of police escorting a handcuffed Mr. Rodriquez out of the building!
Mr. Rodriquez is handcuffed! The cops are here for him?
Mr. Rodriquez is arrested? What is going on?
♪ Life ain’t always beautiful
Sometimes it’s just plain hard
Life can knock you down
It can break your heart. ♪
My eyes are not believing the scene I am witnessing. I try to reach to one of the patrolling cars nearby.
“Why is he handcuffed?”
What did he do?
He is three steps away.
“M.M.Mr. Rodriquez! What happened??”
He is smiling. Shaking his head. He looks like he was crying before reaching here. He doesn’t look like if he has slept the last night. The cops are making him sit in one of the vehicles.
“Things happen for a reason, Qaisar. Always remember! Things happen for a reason.”
The door of the vehicle shuts!
“Do not fail me, young man! And never ever give up!”
♪ Life ain’t always beautiful
You think you’re on your way
And it’s just a dead end road
At the end of the day. ♪
I stand there as the cops leave the site. Mr. Rodriquez keeps looking at me until he disappears from the scene. I am believing as if he further wanted to say something to me. I am feeling if he is downtrodden by the authorities for being humble and kind to the helpless people like me. The spectators around become pedestrians. The time has passed 9. I am allowed to enter the building. Should I? I can barely move my feet from where I am standing.
♪ But the struggles make you stronger
And the changes make you wise
And happiness has its own way
Of taking its own sweet time. ♪
A silence spells for a few seconds then I see Mr. Proctor reaching towards me.
I am dumbstruck but I have to begin from somewhere.
“What in the world just happened now? I cannot believe what my eyes just witnessed. What did he do?”
“Please come to the office and we will speak on this matter.”
Entering the building and the gate from where he was escorted out handcuffed is not helping me make up my mind because I want to know.”
“Please Mr. Proctor! Tell me. What did he do?”
“I hope you realize that this is not the place to sp-“
“What did he d-“
*RAISING HIS VOICE*
“HE HAS MURDERED HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN!!”
[“Always love your family. Always, always love and shield your family.”]
♪ No, life ain’t always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life ain’t always beautiful
But it’s a beautiful ride. ♪
“I have seen many storms in my life. Most storms have caught me by surprise, so I had to learn very quickly to look further and understand that I am not capable of controlling the weather, to exercise the art of patience and to respect the fury of nature.”
♪ Amarillo by mornin’ Up from San Antone Everything that I got Is just what I’ve got on
When that sun is high in that Texas sky I’ll be buckin’ at the county fair Amarillo by mornin’ Amarillo, I’ll be th- ♪
I have changed around three dozen tracks in the past five minutes. But nothing is diverting my mind. I’m driving at 50kph on a road whose name I never bothered to know. My eyes are wide open to locate my home which I am not recalling for some time because my mind is lost somewhere thinking about the reasons I lost my job almost three months ago.
Why do I cogitate so much when I shouldn’t? Why do people drive reckless? Perhaps they don’t cogitate like me. Or maybe they haven’t lost any job. Or possibly they are not working but enjoying their life on their father’s money. Or maybe I am thinking too much. Or maybe the dystopian ark is too heavy to collide with the sacred tsunami. Maybe I am not driving on the road at all and the other vehicles are honking for fun. Possibly this journey is leading me somewhere but I am not perceiving. Perhaps the reckless driver has an emergency. Perhaps the race of life is settling on the road. No, I am thinking too much.
I should not have lost my job. But what was I supposed to do? That boss was irking me. He was putting me to work for abnormal working hours. He was insanely scolding me almost every day. Despite completing the assignments, he was lambasting me in front of my team. It was humiliating. Perhaps he wanted me to lose my patience and do something terrible. But why was he being so stern?
*YELLOW SIGNAL LIGHT*
A car on my right, racing at more than my speed. I think he wants to break the signal.
*RED SIGNAL LIGHT*
A street dog crossing at zebra in front of the assembly of the stopping vehicle but that…
Oh my Lord! I hit mine on the back of the car ahead in the queue. My foot presses the accelerator instead of the brake in the panic.
My heart is beating fast. My hand is pressing the gear tightly. I am sweating. The driver of the other car reaches my window to shout and argue. The other vehicles are honking. The pedestrians are staring. The driver of that car is still shouting and indicating to come out. Come out of the car.
The driver’s family comes out from the car now. A woman of his age, visibly pregnant, questions in front of my car about my possible blindness and driving. A frightened girl appears with a crying baby in her arm.
*GREEN SIGNAL LIGHT*
Another car from my back shows up to my right, abuses me and leaves.
The driver is angry and cannot tolerate further to the discontinued situation. He spits on my window. The baby is crying out loud. His woman is still shouting.
On my right, the dog is dead. Its bleeding face is towards me. I am weeping. I cannot bear this. I feel I will urinate at any moment.
The pedestrians have stopped to watch this freak show. The entire family is yelling and shouting.
All eyes are on me. The disfigured bloody dog is also gaping at me.
The crying baby is not giving up migraining despite migrating from sister to mother.
*LOOKING AT THE MIRROR*
♪ All day staring at the ceiling Making friends with shadows on my wall All night hearing voices telling me That I should get some sleep Because tomorrow might be good for something ♪
My name is Qaisar Amjad. I am a 28-year-old bachelor, born and raised as a foreigner, living in a rental apartment. My parents are Amjad Chishti and Bilqis Amjad from Pakpattan, a city of central Punjab. This is the land where the shrine of Baba Farid is situated. But a long time ago, when they were living here, they sold their property in Pakpattan and moved around 200 kilometers away to Lahore to reunite with my father’s siblings. But they continued to visit the shrine and pay their respect. My father apprised me that our ancestors have been revering to the shrine for the past two centuries and I was born by his blessing.
I haven’t visited my country that often. I was a kid when I went with my parents. Even there, I was a foreigner to my extended families. Those were strange and different species to me and I was alien to them in all sorts. So I was alone and isolated in my childhood. Here, I grew up meeting people from different backgrounds, learned different languages and gathered on many different occasions. I usually preferred to stay out from home because apart from my studies, I had nothing to do.
My parents were very remote to diversity. Almost every social contact with their lives were the mortals belonging to our own country. When they tuned in to the television, the only programs they watched were the news and entertainment channels of our country. On the road, they used to stop only those taxis whose drivers were their native. In the stores and malls, they stood only in that queue where the cashier was their native. Punjabi was the only language they spoke at home and on the telephone. They spoke Urdu when the national guests of the other provinces showed up. With time, they learned to speak broken English which they improved, again, with time. It was extremely hard for me to adjust with my parents because of our preferences and priorities. Luckily, my parents and I realized that we were people from different backgrounds under the same roof. My parents tried to accustom me and I did try to acculturate them with the norms of a multinational country but we, unquestionably, failed each other.
I have a 17-year-old brother, Nizam. He is studying at home and is not enrolled in any institution due to the costly semester fees. I was paying for his tuition but since I lost my job, paying any kind of money has become a huge burden. We have mutual respect due to a gap of generation but that gap vanishes when we watch the NBA together. I am Clippers, he is Lakers.
3 months ago, my landlord notified me to pay him the agreed quarterly rent. At that time, I was losing my job and the money was already spent on the required domestic expenses. My expenses were already talking as my pay was low and the boss was refusing to raise my pay. Therefore I was out of solutions. So for the first time in my life, I sought financial help. To my good luck, a few friends gathered the amount and I was able to pay to the landlord.
When I lost my job, the prices of food and petrol and the bill for electricity hiked, and it became exceptionally hefty to save money like before. The suffocation period has now arrived and a couple of days ago, the landlord had rung me twice to pay him this week.
My friends already have done the favor in the previous quarter and I b.bothered them this morning. So I am in no position to ask again within a few hours. I am yet to return their money used in the last rent payment. No no no, I don’t have the courage to ask for the help again.
What will they think about me? That Qaisar is raising his asking habit and not seeking a job to fix the critical issues? I do was hunting jobs but no vacancy, no message, no e-mail, nothing. Nothing. And now this morning, I hit a car and emptied my wallet with the remaining notes which were for my brother. Now I am not able to pay for Nizam’s tuition again. But I have to buy more time from Nizam’s tutor and request to pay him next month.
*LUMP IN THROAT*
I have never encountered so much restlessness in my life and this is getting really hard to tolerate.
♪ Hold on
Feeling like I’m headed for a breakdown
And I don’t know why ♪
In my room. On my knees. Bowing and pressing my palms on my head. Using my nails on my skull. Then making a fist and hitting on my knees. Then smacking my face until it gets red from one side.
♪ But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see
A different side of me ♪
Nizam leaves for tuition. He doesn’t know that his tuition fees are not paid for the past two months. I could have paid if I had not panicked this morning. I must call the tutor before he reprimands his arriving without the fees and considers to scold him.
Qaiser: “H.h.hi hi sir. Howa you?”
“I’m good. Yes?”
“I want to… *thinking* I want to speak something very important.”
“Is Nizam unwell?”
“No no no. He is on his way to your place. I I want to speak to… about about your fees.”
“You have it now?”
“No no. I mean, p.p.please. Thank you for giving some time. But *sweating* b.but-”
“But what Mr. Qaisar? I am occupied with students here. Will you please be quick?”
“Yes yes. Can you please give me *raising index finger in the air* one… one more month, sir? I I promise I-”
“What is this Mr. Qaisar? This is the third time! *glasses off* I really cannot afford this. I cannot say much as I am in the middle of teaching the students. You must consider paying me this month. Okay, Mr. Qaisar?”
“Okay, sir. I will… I will conta-”
♪ I’m not crazy, I’m just a little impaired
I know right now you don’t care
But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be, me ♪
I keep my phone in the room and come to the drawing room. *tears dropping* The tutor was not attending my calls before because I was embarrassing him giving the same excuse. But this time, he looked forced to utter some words in a higher tone.
And I am ignoring his call. I don’t know what to say. He knows that my friends helped me the last time so if I request to him for a delay in payment so he may suggest me to ask my friends. And I don’t wa-
I am sitting down the floor with my hands on the back of my head. My legs are curved as I feel I will piddle any second.
The landlord calls again and I completely forgot to mute my phone.
*RIGHT EAR MOVING IN TAUT*
My phone is in my room. I am standing a meter away from the main door. So I am not aware if he can listen to my phone ringing from a distance.
The phone stops ringing. Pin drop silence for the next couple of minutes. All that I hark is my series of puffing.
I have lost my weight due to severe desolation and depression in these few weeks. I have been regularly losing my appetite due to tensions and not eating in entirety to save the food for long. No job offer calls or emails. No vacancies. Nothing. And here I am sitting on the toilet shirtless and wearing cargo shorts; sweating and looking at my fate in the carving knife which *voice breaking* I am holding t.tightly for the past five minutes.
This moment was certain to occur because my life w.was not moving nor revolving towards any hope. My old parents in their hometown have been assuming for several months that I am still working *voice breaking* and things are normal here. I know what they have suffered while growing us *teary eyes* and I am in no position to lie to them after *lump in throat* I put them in numerous jeopardies since my rough teenhood.
I realized my responsibility only when I got the job the first time five years ago and involved myself in contributing to pay the house rent and Nizam’s fee from my first pay.
*TIGHTLY HOLDING KNIFE*
Now, I cannot fight from the bonafide miseries and look into Nizam’s eyes *voice breaking* and tell him that he will be able to sit in the examination room.
♪ But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell I know right now you can’t tell But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see A different side of me ♪
Ok ok. *eyes rolling* I will stab myself in the belly. I must make my mind. That is it. Go for it. Go for it. *gulping* Goo for itt.
*BOTH HANDS TIGHTLY HOLDING KNIFE*
*BLOWING AIR THRICE*
*EYES WIDE OPEN*
Gooo for itttt! Gooo for itttt!
Do it! Doooo ittttttt!
Oh God! I can’t! I can’t! You mmust do it, Qaisar!
I must do something quickly. Cut the vein? Shove the knife on either skull or heart? But I should do in a rage so that I endeavor a powerful force without hesitating. *lump in throat* Then I am gone in a few seconds. The ravage culminates. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. It is just a matter of a few seconds. *weeping* Then I’m gone. No more pain, no more stress, no more agitation.
♪ I know it doesn’t seem that way But maybe it’s the perfect day Even though the bills are piling And maybe Lady Luck ain’t smiling ♪
Heart then. That is it.
It is the heart. A hand is enough.
*CLOSING OTHER FIST TIGHTLY*
I’m sorry ammi.
I’m sorry abbu.
I’m sorry Nizam.
My pregnant Siberian cat, Push, hears my whining, reaches the toilet, stops, and stares at me holding the knife in the air with my eyes wide open. She certainly looks terrified with my strange behavior as if the knife is meant to kill her.
Throat it is. Is It? Yes, throat. Troat, thrrooat. Throat it is. Shove the knife breaking my trachea*puffing*. That is it. May Lord forgive me. *crying* I’m sorrryyy.
Now I am holding the knife from both the hands and pointing the tip of the knife towards my throat.
*BLOWING AIR TWICE*
Give me the strength. *blowing air* Please forgive me, God. *heavy breathing* I failed my life. *holding knife tightly* I failed my family. *gulping* I failed myself.
♪ But if we’d only open our eyes ♪
[*Children laughing on Qaisar in the classroom*]
♪ We’d see the blessings in disguise ♪
[“See beta. This is Hafeez uncle. Come on, say salaam.”]
[“Wake up Bono! Please meow to me. *voice breaking* Please wake up! Please don’t leave me! *crying* I promise I’ll feed you, my baby. Please don’t go, pleeeaaase.”]
♪ There’s gold in them hills ♪
[“My wedding is fixed. Please forget me Qaisar.”]
♪ There’s gold in them hills ♪
[(On laptop) “Please come soon beta”]
I’mm sorrrrry ammmmmmmiiiiii maaaaaaaaaaaa.
*RIGHT EAR MOVING IN TAUT*
*EYES WIDE OPEN*
An uncontrollable painful headache suffers me to vomit on my lower body. My shorts is dirty with the substance. I am unmoved on the toilet seat. All I listen to is my breathing. I cannot gulp anymore. I felt someone was hitting my head with a sledgehammer before throwing.
The phone rings again. It may be the landlord.
This predicament has made the temperature of my body disordered. I am sweating but at the same time, I am feeling icy-cold. I am still sitting on the toilet seat without moving an inch of my body. I am urinating in my shorts. My feet and palms are cold. The heart is beating fast again due to this unnatural phenomenon. I am still not on my own.
*EYES STRONGLY BLINKING*
*PHONE STOPS RINGING*
I take a deep breath. I try to move. For some time, my body was stiff. Only my arms and face were moving. I feel some neuralgia when I distance my head from the wall. I stand up trying to balance myself. Some drops of my urine and vomit were absorbed on my shorts and some dropped down the floor which the shorts couldn’t absorb. The frightened cat runs away pussyfooting. The knife is still in my hand. I take the mobile which I had left near the soap dispenser. It was Nizam. Ohhh. Is he returning?
Has the tutor demanded his fees and send him back?
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I cann’t. I cannn’t.
*SITTING ON THE TOILET SEAT*
No noo noooo no no.
*MOBILE ON MY KNEE*
What else can I do? The tutor is asking to pay three months of tuition fees. I have to pay back to my friends. The landlord is calling me to pay the rent. Nizam is calling me. I am lying to my parents for months.
*REPEATEDLY HITTING PALM ON FOREHEAD*
*REPEATEDLY SLAPPING FACE*
*HAND ON MY FACE*
I take the mobile from my knee. Opens the photo album and see Nizam’s picture one last time. I am smiling and looking at the bathroom walls. Push ran away because she sensed my death. *shaking head* It is over.
“Nizam! Brother! Never ever give up on your dreams. One day you will realize how much I-”
Re: Job Offer
*EYES WIDE OPEN*
“Mr. Qaisar! We have observed your CV and expect you to visit our office today at 1’o’clock sharp. Regards, William Proctor.”
Seems like repeatedly forgetting to mute my phone is a good omen.
♪ So don’t lose faith Give the world a chance to say
A word or two, my friend There’s no telling how the day might end And we’ll never know until we see That there’s gold in them hills
There’s gold in them hills So don’t lose heart Give the day a chance to start
There’s gold in them hills There’s gold in them hills ♪
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 Davis‘ Kind 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.
A couple of weeks ago, the blogger was in al-Khobar. I visited Jarir Bookstore in al-Rashed Mall to look for a proper reading masterpiece but failed. My eyeballs glanced and paused at an eye catchy handbook. The handbook was about ‘Madain Saleh’ with scores of attractive pictures and detailed accounts of its history and civilization. I was already planning my expedition tours in upcoming vacations and had visited the place TWICE before but couldn’t complete the whole site in exploration within a frame of limited time. This time I attired my expeditionary vision to finish the unfinished business in the city of al-Ula where the history and ancient civilization speak and where Madain Saleh is nearly located.
I have finally taken vacations to avoid the mental adversity of working and the plan has been framed. My fellow musketeers are ready for a 2-day trip to the city of al-Ula. The chosen transport of legitimacy is my Hyundai Veloster 2014. The plan is simple and fair. We will leave our city at midnight, reach al-Ula by morning and visit a few historical sites. We will stay in a hotel till the next morning and at last visit Madain Saleh before we depart back to Jeddah.
By road, there are two ways to reach al-Ula from Jeddah. Either you reach the mark via Yanbu, with a traveling distance of 692km and reaching in approx seven and half hours if driven at an average of 120kph, OR you chose to reach the destiny via Madinah, with a traveling distance of 750km and reaching in approx eight and half hours at the same average speed. The choice is yours, just set the navigation and choose the route which eases you more. I preferred the Yanbu one.
Driving at 120kph, things didn’t look normal to me in the long run. My hand palms were tickling to press the accelerator hard and cross the limit. I knew that Saher ‘the vehicle speed detector’ was installed in our way but where exactly? I guess we crossed the Saher and I should break the 120kph barrier. So once I increased the speed to 140kph, Mr. Saher welcomed me for a photoshoot -_- FML!
Our destiny forwarded towards the beautiful night view of Petro Rabigh and further on the Yanbu Industrial area where the immense use of lighting in an absolutely dark night attracts. We stopped by a side to take pictures of Yanbu factories.
Another embarrassing moment almost to happen was that my car began losing all its petrol. We had crossed more than 300km and realized that something conjured my understanding that I will regularly find petrol stations. I was trolled by a huge absence of the stations and speed from 160kph was brutally cut to 40kph at around 5am. The weather was cold and pleasant, the temperature dropped from 27 to 19 degrees Celsius, but our blood temperature almost broke the mercury.
At the last hiccup, we finally saw a closed station on the opposite road with a masjid and store. It was Fajr prayer by then. The temperature had further dropped to 14 degrees Celsius. One musketeer slept in the car and the other decorated the dinner at the engine of the car. We had butter chicken and a packet of bread to eat. Two more guests joined and waited for their turn with shivering meows to grab the attention. The petrol was filled and ran towards destiny.
The sun rose, street lights got off, beautiful landscapes brought freshness to me and the mountains as usual touched the heights of the sky. A lone warrior ran towards the mark early in the morning with unwelcomed speed breakers at the entry of each small town and village. Shops began to open. The smoke revealed from the laundry shop, customers were seated in the cafeteria and ful tamiz (fava beans and Afghani bread) shop, the salon opened with the barbers sitting on customer seats watching TV, septuagenarian Yemenis and Egyptians sat on their bamboo beds and goats ate grass.
We now have entered the city. Let me brief you about al-Ula. The city is in Saudi Arabia’s northwestern part. From Madinah, it is located north 341km far. The city is the closest to Madain Saleh (22km). Al-Ula is very much about God-gifted natural mountains. It has many sandy mountains bordering from the east such as Mount Almojder and Arezikea Mountains from the west.
Al-Ula is 825m above sea level and the climate is moderate. The temperature doesn’t rise more than 45 degrees Celsius in summer but is very cold in winters existing in December and January with a temperature of 9 degrees Celsius. The average rate of annual rainfall is 250mm.
To more attraction of interest in knowing Al-Ula, the word “Dedan” used in the Bible Old Testament is the biblical name of Al-Ula as well as used in Assyrian and Arabic writings. Dedan means ‘low ground’ and people belonging to Dedan were called Dedanites. In Bible, if you read all 36 verses of The Book of Ezekiel – Chapter 27, you will understand that the chapter was about the roster of trading routes and partners of the city of Tyre. Tyre is modern Lebanon and Dedan were their trading partners dealing in precious clothes used in the chariot as referred in verse no.20.
If you visit Madain Saleh and ancient historical places, there is a huge probability of confusion over the mentioned Kingdoms in very informative plates installed on the sites i.e. Lehyanites, Dedanites, and Nabateans. Let me try to clear the confusion which I suffered the same in my own primary attempts at research. Actually, the Kingdoms of Leyanites (Lihyans) and Dedanites (Dedan) are the two who ruled the city as Lihyans were the original settlers to Al-Ula. According to Arab genealogists, the Lihyan tribe are from the Adnanite Arabs (west and central Arabians and opposers of Qahtanites of south Arabian) from Ismail. This tribe is still surviving, settled in the desert between Makkah and Madinah.
This ancient city was the capital of the Kingdoms of Dedan and Lihyan from the 6th to the 2nd century BC. From the 2nd century BC, the Nabateans took charge of the city until 106 AD when the Romans conquered their capital, Petra. So the Nabateans made Hegra (the modern Madain Saleh) their second capital and we musketeers first stepped to the oldest town of the city before booking a room in the hotel.
Like I said before, this is the 3rd time I traveled to this city for research and exploration which has become my passion to know what lies beneath the country where I was born. The significance of traveling by road towards the city is rare and strange mountains. Your eyes are always forced to stare at them. Most of the mountains are of unusual shapes. I am precisely not into orology and due to the fact I have no words to describe the nature of mountains. I didn’t even know if I am supposed to feel blessed or on contrary, considering the wrath of Allah with the understanding that a sound wave struck the region by Allah on the idol-worshipers of Thamud region according to the Holy Quran?
The plan to first check in the hotel was abrupted as the old al-Ula town known as Deira District appeared on the screen first. So we made up our minds to explore the world of Deira and then move to a hotel.
So what is all about Deira. This Deira district (which was once a city) is nearly 700 years old. According to Wikipedia sources, “The city of Deira was built with the re-usage of stones of the Dedan and Lihyan ruins. al-Ula now became the major settlement of the region again until modern times. A railway station was built for the Hejaz Railway in 1901-08. The railway line was built through the western part of Al-Khuraiba some twelve kilometers to the north of the old medieval town which is believed to be the site of the old Dedanite and Lihyanite towns.
In the 20th century, the new town center was established beside the old town, and eventually the people left the old buildings. The last family is said to have left in 1983, while the last service in the old mosque was held in 1985. Both the ruins of the medieval town and the site of the Liyhanite settlement now lay within the limits of the modern town.”
Exploring Deira city was exactly like our trip to Thee-Ain village in Al-Baha. You may click here for the details of our trip. (http://atomic-temporary-52124787.wpcomstaging.com/2013/10/11/rocky-doodle-in-centuries-old-ville/) A very quiet place with renovation work under process. Glad to see Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities working with the local contracting company for the development of cultural heritage to attract tourists and create awareness. The cement is supplied by Tabuk Cement Company.
No humans to shelter, no stopping of helter-skelter. There is easy foot stepping towards the 1st floor and ceiling in many houses. In a similar case in Thee-Ain village, ceilings are made of bamboo and juniper trees. When we entered the city and walked inside the streets, we felt a little creepy and mysterious place. Stiff walls and few small store rooms. Numerous walls are arrowed and doors are numbered. Passages are broad.
Walking through the passages and streets, I separated myself from my fellow musketeers and tried to focus on the language of the silence of a 700-year-old civilization. This place was once a trade route to Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt. I could listen to the truck lorries and laborers shouting, lifting heavy sacks, and shifting materials. With the understanding that it was a proper Arab community living scores of years here, this place dramatically went wild and alive. An Arab social and cultural fantasy was in front of my eyes and all of a sudden, it was ‘Sami in the Arab wonderland’.
My mind played Shayne Ward’s “Breathless”. Near my sight sat an old sexagenarian Yemeni drinking a traditional huqqa (hookah). I turned my head towards the other side. Two meters far, I saw a bamboo table decorated with a dominoes game, and two Ismaili Egyptians sat on their wooden chairs playing the game. From the door close to the game, entered a teenage boy with a wooden tray carrying traditional koshary shai (tea) and a plate of ful medames with sliced hard-boiled eggs. The boy’s friends shouted at him to join the gang who have found a snake and were eager to tease it.
My clothes got a little wet by the vapors dispatched from the garments handed by the old ladies standing on the ceiling in order to dry them. To the bottom of the very same building, oped a wooden door, and came out two young Syrian girls in their twenties in black veils going to a madrasa. One carrying school bag was plumpy but the other one was attractive with two copies in her soft hands decorated with coiled bangles. She placed the copies on her upper chest and kept an eye on me. When I gave her the same look with a paroxysm of a smile, the fatty began whispering in her ears and both laughing. That Syrian schoolgirl surely was the daughter of that old lady on the top, who caught me staring at her and all of a sudden began shouting with agony :S In a panic, I edged towards the wrong way and hit a milkman and his bicycle. I dropped my mobile and ‘Breathless’ met an end with a pin-drop silence…
In very few houses, I saw old Lihyanite and Arabic scriptures. More to a mystery was very weird looking graffitis especially star of David with a minaret :S Weapons were also graffitied on the walls. After wandering like a vagabond, I found a large wooden gate. Entered and I found a masjid. It was in extremely shattered shape. Don’t know how old was that masjid but I found a ‘Tat’ fan hanging on the ceiling.
Overall, this old town is consisted of 1032 houses and is formed of two lanes named al-Hilf and al-Shaqiq. Each house carries two storeys. Each first storey was built out of stones carried from the ancient site of al-Khuraybah and allocated to receive the guests. While every second storey was built out of mud brick and used as a living area. The whole town was designed to make the defense easy. Many houses were built attached to each other forming fortifications around the city. The town originally had fourteen gates that were opened in the morning and closed in the evening.
Al-Ula was a major station along the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Makkah. Pilgrim caravans used to halt at al-Ula in order to obtain provisions and water. Some of the pilgrims used to leave a portion of their baggage with the people of al-Ula and then collect on upon their return. Those were the golden days because one cannot expect or rely on a person you don’t know to leave his property and receive it back from him. Syrian merchants used to travel as far as al-Ula to sell supplies to pilgrims.
To be more accurate with the history, Islamic history compulsorily lies here. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) during his ghazwa (war fought by Prophet Muhammad S.A.W.) against Tabuk, made a temporary stay in this town and prayed in Masjid al-Izam. Izam means bones and is known due to the fact that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) designated mihrab using a bone.
This heritage village is not only a town of 1032 houses and a masjid from the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.)’s era. This ancient town also has a castle. The castle was built back in the 6th century BC to defend the town and was renovated many times. Lihyanite inscriptions and Nabatean coins were found in its archaeological strata. The area is 180 square meters and 45 meters high above the town level. Till 2009, it was difficult to ascend the top of the castle due to the deterioration of the stairs. Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities implemented the project to restore the stairs. Now there is access to reach the top of the fort and enjoy an amazing view of the whole ancient town of al-Ula and the farms in the surroundings.
Now the castle is known as Musa bin Nusayr Fort. According to historians, the famous Islamic commander of the 7th Hijri, Musa bin Nusayr, lived and died in it. The castle has walls covered on the top surrounding the top of the mountain with openings to monitor and shoot in the wars fought in the past. Many informative plates are installed for timeline education. The water could be supplied to the castle from a well dug in the rocky area down the mountain. We found that well close to the graveyard.
It is almost 2pm here and the temperature wasn’t touching 20 degrees celsius since we arrived in the city. It was impressive and very convincing to observe that the renovation of half of the town has been almost completed. The passage and streets have been cleaned and lanterns are hung on the ceilings. Electricity work has been done and signboards are installed on the streets. In that specific half, most of the wooden doors have been closed. So in near future, I see that happening in the remaining half. We are lucky to enter the rooms and use the stairs to go to the upper floor and ceiling of many houses. We even sat on the top boundaries and also jumped on the rough surfaces. We walked on the bamboo and juniper trees used for ceilings. These exciting stunts might not happen but I am glad to see that Deira’s Old Town will be alive with a lot of tourist attractions very soon.
Off from Deira district hungry and exhausted. Time to look for a hotel and eat lunch, so we can reboot our system and hunt for more sites. To our major surprise, we have found a hotel for a day for only SAR.120!!! Gosh, rates in winter in al-Ula are cheaper than expected. About to look for food and have just found that I forgot to bring the charger for my laptop -_-
Would love to read your feedback below and you may ask me questions related to my trip. Stay tuned for the next chapter under ‘The Breezing Ula’. Until then, goodbye.
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