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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Are you putting pictures on the Net? Read this.

My problem with several pictures on the Net and specially in Facebook and other Social Media spaces are that they are crooked or unclean … or they are not put straight (and often at 90° from the original) … and are left with poor colours when they could be rectified and made so much better.

We've all seen these and more

Colours Changed
Picture where you have to bend your head
Crooked picture
This one is seen very often

You can use Lightroom, Photoshop, and a number of other tools - many of them Free, like Preview (on a Mac) and many on Windows (can a friend please identify them; I am a Mac user). Colours can be corrected or rectified in some of the mentioned software.

Another problem - and now seen most often as we put up old pictures we find in our homes, or are computer scanned - is the degree of distortion or spots or colours there are in the one we find. 

I found this in my old family collection

Of course you could go to a photo shop and get it fixed, for a price, but if it's not something you'd do, and I certainly won't, you could try and clean it up (partly!) and make it into a Black & White image and put it on the Net.

This is what I did here

FINALLY: Please do label it - even partly, if you don't know the names of everyone. Someone on Facebook, or wherever you put them, might recognise the others and add to your link.

In the above picture (from March 1913) starting from the left, are Safdar Ali (my Dada), Shahid Hosein (a friend of my Dada and married to my mother's cousin whose children included author Atiya Hosein and Pakistan's brilliant Air Force Pilot Fuad Bhai); Sitting as a Child was Rishad Bhai (the elder brother of Atiya Hosein) who was also India's Ambassador to Sri Lanka; Bilquis Phupi (my aunt who died very young) and Mahlaqa Begum (my Dadi).

Also, take a look at flickr. It's great. Use it.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Four Years …

and not a day passes without your thoughts!

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A look at Abrahamic Religions — 4

Part One is here.
Part Two is here.
Part Three is here

A friend of mine from Lahore was here and staying at our place. She asked me about Gog and Magog (Ya'jooj and Ma'jooj, in Arabic) … and what the Abrahamic Religions had to say of them. So that's where I will be heading this time, but here's a small preamble that is important.

If we are to consider the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions Abrahamic, there must be something that is similar among them. Abraham, of course, stands as the Father of all three religions and so do many of the texts in the books that are often similar and, at other times, differing in their details but common.

Jews don't accept the Catholic or the Protestant versions of the Old Testament Bible (yes they are different, too), except for the first 5 books which the Jews consider the Jewish Bible: the Torah. They obviously do not accept the New Testament at all.

The Christians accept the Old Testament (OT) - except for the number of books that the Catholic Version has, as opposed to the Protestant Version. But both sectors accept the New Testament (NT) - a collection of the Jesus's Ahaadiths and a few Epistles and other stuff that were put together 70 years onwards after Christ's Death (and Resurrection). But they do not accept the Muslim book, the Qur'an, as a religious work at all.

Most Muslims accept all the books given above. The Qur'an is their book and the others are mentioned in the Qur'an. Although there is a difference in how one interprets the aayaahs: There is a Saheefaé Ibrahim mentioned in Qur'an and becomes another book (apart from the one mentioned below) that is no longer available.

Almost all Muslims believe that there are 4 Books mentioned: Torah, Züboor, Injeel, and the Qur'an. Some members of a Muslim sect, however, also believe that Qur'an was not mentioned at all, because ''we are reading it and accept it as the word of Allah. The fourth book is really Saheefaé Ibrahim''. The Khalafiyya Shias (now extinct)- who believe in the importance of Fives - correctly believe there are 5 books mentioned in the Qur'an.

In addition to the total absence of Zuboor, a book sent to Hazrat Dawood (the OT's Psalms of David allegedly contain some of it), there is the Qur'anic saying that Jews and Christians have altered their works in many places. Often the Qur'an corrects it. Here is a basic example:

Exodus [20.11]
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Qur'an [50:39]
And verily, We created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six periods, and no weariness touched Us.

A major difference lies in the Muslim and Christian understanding of Injeel (the word in English is Evangelism, which means Good Tidings). The Christians believe that Jesus gave them the Good Tidings of the world coming to an end when we would all be with God. Muslims believe that this was a book sent down to Jesus and the Good Tidings were about the coming of the final prophet.

The Christians do not accept that a book came down to Jesus, at all. In fact my teacher, a priest at my school, said Jesus IS God so there was no reason for a book to be sent by Himself to Himself. The Qur'an says there was such a book. A major dispute, here!

Let us now get back to Gog/Ya'jooj and Magog/Ma'jooj

Let's start with the Qur'anic beliefs, since they apply to the majority of my readers and to, specially, my friend.

Chapter 18 Surah Kahf:

94 They said: "O Dhül-qarnain! the Gog and Magog (people) do great mischief on earth: shall we then render thee tribute in order that thou mightest erect a barrier between us and them?"
95 He said: "(The power) in which my Lord has established me is better (than tribute): help me therefore with strength (and labor): I will erect a strong barrier between you and them:
96 "Bring me blocks of iron." At length when he had filled up the space between the two steep mountain sides he said "Blow (with your bellows)." Then when he had made it (red) as fire he said: "Bring me that I may pour over it molten lead."
97 Thus were they made powerless to scale it or to dig through it.

Chapter 21 Surah Anbiyaa:

96 Until the Gog and Magog (people) are let through (their barrier) and they swiftly swarm from every hill.
97 Then will the True Promise draw nigh (of fulfillment): then behold! The eyes of the unbelievers will fixedly stare in horror: "Ah! woe to us! we were indeed heedless of this; nay we truly did wrong!"

Who is Dhül-qarnain? The translation of the term is 'the one with two horns' and is accepted by many Muslims as Alexander the Great because he wore a Skull Cap that had 2 horns on it. However, there is another school that believes that it is Cyrus the Great and you can see a Video about it here.

The Jewish and Christian stories differ strongly from the Cyrus story and have Alexander as the King.  According to Muslims these books have been changed over time. The stories in both (Jewish and Christian) books are heavily contradictory within themselves.

1. Gog and Magog appear in the Hebrew Bible as individuals, peoples, or lands. Yes. All three are mentioned and they change after a few chapters.

2. In Ezekiel 38, Gog is an individual and Magog is his land.

3. In Genesis 10 Magog is a man, but no Gog is mentioned.

4. Centuries later Jewish tradition changed Ezekiel's Gog from Magog into Gog and Magog. This is the form in which they appear in the Book of Revelation, although there they are peoples rather than individuals.

5. A legend was attached to Gog and Magog by the time of the Roman period, that the Gates of Alexander were erected by Alexander the Great to repel the tribe. Romanized Jewish historian Josephus knew them as the nation descended from Magog the Japhetite, as in Genesis, and explained them to be the Scythians.

6. In the hands of Early Christian writers they became apocalyptic hordes, and throughout the Medieval period variously identified as the Huns, Khazars, Mongols, Turanians or other nomads, or even the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

7. The legend of Gog and Magog and the gates was also interpolated into the Alexander romances. In one version, "Goth and Magoth" are kings of the Unclean Nations, driven beyond a mountain pass by Alexander, and blocked from returning by his new wall.

8. Gog and Magog are said to engage in human cannibalism in the romances and derived literature.

I presume these tales and legends, as well as the beliefs from which they come, should answer my friend … and any others who are interested in religious geography, history, and legends that spring around them later.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Education IS Expensive

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar
With so much going on about the soon to be ex-CJ's orders about schools, I received this from a school. Well worth a look. 

The Government should improve its schools … but that seems impossible with no students and lots of teachers in some places, no schools at all (ghost schools) in some areas where salaries are being drawn, no actual buildings or even remains of them where money is being given for work in building it and maintaining it, with money even being paid to 'remove' a school which never existed. I got most of this from Anita (Ghulam Ali) Apa, a leading Educator in Pakistan. 

The fact that Private Schools do all this to prevent Government Schools from functioning is a gross mis-statement. Many private schools have even tried to help some Government Schools run better (and that included Railway Schools, as an example) by offering them many services. However, that didn't last long, either, because the Private run schools were not allowed to fire any teachers who did not come at all: It was the Government's job to fire them (which they did not do).

I realise that with inflation and several children (Preferred: don't have more than two kids!) it is impossible to go to schools where the fee is higher than parents can afford. But they do have a choice: Take them out of that school and send them to a lower fee school.

Listen: Many can't buy a Louis Vitton Bag so they choose a lower priced bag; many can't eat at Okra so they go to cheaper restaurant like McD; many can't use airplane tickets to go to see their child in USA (I certainly can't, except once in a year, when I could easily take 3 trips to USA earlier when I worked), so some wait for two years, now.

But what is the parents argument? I need the same education that the top schools provide but I will pay what the lowest fees is in the lower schools.

Remember this saying by the President of Harvard
(where many parents want to send their kids)

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

A look at Abrahamic Religions — 3

Part One is here.
Part Two is here.

There are several blasphemous, ridiculous, and violent stories in the Old Testament, something that no god could have Written, while several people think it was Sent Down, Dictated, or He Inspired people to write. Here are a few for those who do not have/read the Bible. It is also aimed at many Christians who read it and gloss over these stories, try to forget about them, or say they now follow what's in the New Testament only.

In case of Roman Catholics, they believe that the Pope has a link with his God (Jesus) and has conversations* with Him. Some of these conversations make the Popes change their beliefs accordingly: Galileo is one case in point.

I'll just stick to a few them
but if you really want to know more
you can read Robert Ingersoll and others.

Oh, but was an Atheist?

Listen to Bishop John Spong, then.

At the beginning in Genesis we have several examples.

The most important ones after the Creation Stories, where YHWY does not know that the Sun is also a Star — (OT Genesis 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.) — are the Creation of Adam and Eve, who ate a fruit (now translated as Apple) at the Snake saying so, and were banished from Heaven. The most true part in this is the Man blamed the Woman, never agreeing to take the blame on himself :)

Those tales about Satan coming as a Snake is a bit odd since I can't believe if Eve spoke Cobranese (or whatever) or the Snake spoke Aramaic or some other language. How did they communicate?

What is most peculiar is that God said they can eat any fruit from every tree, except this particular one. (OT Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.)

Satan said He is lying.
They won't die.

They took the risk. And ate it. And lived.
Does that prove that Satan was right? I wouldn't argue.

Another peculiarity has me completely befuddled. God did say there was ONE tree. Not TWO. Just one tree. But look at this part that follows the above in Genesis:

3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Errrr … "one of us"? Haéñ. I thought there was just One God.

Even in the First Commandment to Moses he said "Thou Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me" (Does that mean we can have others in line after Him.)

Of course Adam and Eve had children. Abel and Cain were their sons. (There are stories that they had a sister called Aqleema. Fahmida Riaz has written a wonderful poem about her. Google it.)

At some point Cain got upset and killed Abel. (Does that mean we are all children of the murderer? I hope not.) 

Anyway, let's see what Genesis 4 says.

4:16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod.

4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch …

So there were other women in Nod? Hmmm. Who were her parents? If they were not Adam and Eve's children, that doesn't make those two the only first human couple at all. Unless God (although He hasn't said this in the Old Testament) made more people and put them in different parts.

Leaving other stories aside,
let us turn to Genesis 6.

6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Sons of Gods?
Looking at Daughters of Men?
Isn't that a part of what we (now) call 'mythologies'?

See what this is followed by:

6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Well, not really, but anyway - we can skip that.)

6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Even more like those mythologies!

6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.


(We mustn't forget that
President Idi Amin also spoke to Allah
President Bush the Younger also spoke to Jesus)

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

There is a reason to support T2F …

Sabeen Mahmud, born 20th June, 1974, was assassinated on 24th April, 2015 by those that hated Pakistan.

She was marvellous in every way. I knew her for 26 amazing years as a Student, as an amazing Colleague, as a Friend, as a member of my Extended Family, as a Mentee, and as a Mentor!

I was in the car behind her a few seconds later, after the event at T2F, and had just turned left when she was shot. I was at the hospital when she was pronounced dead.

Sabeen started T2F (The Second Floor - since it was on that floor where she opened it).. There were 6 other founding members and I was one of them*.

The concept behind T2F - a not-for-profit NGO, was to have a place to sit and chat and discuss things with others that one rarely, if ever, met otherwise. 

One object was supposed to ensure that guns and violence would end. People would listen to others. Discuss and talk about their views. Learn from each other. At least be willing to understand that in a free country there were going to be 'other' views, too … and, if not agreeing with them, one could allow them to exist. Or change them through discussions.

In most cases ARGUMENTS meant FIGHTS; T2F felt that DISCUSSIONS promoted UNDERSTANDINGS.

The exhibition space of T2F was meant for Large Discussions, Qavvaalis, Music, Book Launches, Science ka Adda, Urdu Preservation Project, Arts, Performances, Photography Shows, Plays. Even courses or small discussions helped many people to share their ideas. People from around the world have spoken or performed at T2F. 

There have been many other things that T2F has done: Creative Karachi Festival at Alliance Francaise (another one coming up shortly!), T2F supporting SOT recently at Beach Luxury, and many more.

Internationally it held Dil Phaink in London - a large exhibition of taking Karachi to London! It won an Award from Prince Claus Funds in Nederlands.

When Sabeen was assassinated, major newspapers and events around the world - from Universities to the main road events - mentioned her, wrote articles about her, featured her in books, and even composed music about her.

All this has survived, often with great difficulty, for 11 years now. Most of it through support by its fans. 

You must understand and believe that supporting T2F is a tribute to the greatest public place in Pakistan. Drop a tip when you attend an event. Whether it is a rupee or thousands, in cash or by bank account. It needs your support to go on.

If you are into Qavvaalis, do go to the Arts Council T2F Fundraiser with Fareed and Abu. Tickets are Rs 2000 each and the evening will be truly great.

I left T2F after Sabeen's death …
for working without her seemed impossible.

I rejoined as Director when Khalid Mahmood took the place over from Sabeen's mother, who found it difficult to carry on working there through this terrible tragedy. KM and others wanted a person there who had been part of the original team.

Having left the Directorship on the 1st August 2017, I stayed on as Executive Director until we found Arieb Azhar who joined us and then I left the place, finally.

But only 'officially'.
T2F is part of my life and will always be
the centre outside my own house.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Place of Learning

Well, yes. I know that's difficult right now. Too many pressures. Not enough alternatives available. And the Governments in the Majority World don't really want their children educated: Why would an educated person vote for the ones that are now in Power.

Learning is something we all do. Every day. From the time we are born to the time we die … though schools do lessen the habit and sometimes completely take it out. The Forces, of course, ask you to leave that habit outside when you join them and make you do whatever the Command says you must. Remember: Enemies become friends and change back into enemies as the Governments feel.

Education may, at one point, have meant the same. In some Universities it still does — though it seems to be changing about who you can invite as guest lecturers. Anyway, that was before Governments altered Histories and ever-changing goals, with no allowances to discuss alternatives or different views. Soon Corporations got on and even started adding books with heavy corporate ideas into the books. What? Well, look at the Math book with 'a little help' from McDonald's.

At my schools (I started mine at 7 years and changed into 4 of them … but for goodish reasons), I was regarded as an average student. I passed my Senior Cambridge in 1956 in the Second Division with one A, five Bs, and an F in one subject.

Most teachers (though I must admit that Messers D'Souza, Nazareth, and Chohan, didn't agree with them) thought I was not a good student at all … while I thought I was being forced to learn subjects that were of no interest to me. I adored Maths, Physics, Literature, Urdu (as a First Language. No, not the Second Language that was really crazy). If the subject was of my interest, I really could do well. If not, it was nearly a Zero …

Part of my loves of these subjects came from my father, Azhar Kidvai, who was a Medical Doctor and an Urdu poet … and even sang reasonably well (something I couldn't do, how hard I may have tried). The love of Maths came from his engineering father, Safdar Ali Kidvai, who changed my near-zeros in that area to an ardent love in the 4 months that he was here for his operation.

My memory was good: I could go to a Mushaérah and come back remembering most of it and recite my favourite shayrs to my mother. But I could not use my memory to learn and regurgitate things that I had no interest in. And that has become the most important thing these days in schools.

My tastes were varied. I loved Music: Western Classical, Eastern Classical, Jazz, and great Pop. I adored films, from the Silent ones to the latest - if they were really good. I worshipped Comics and felt that some of them were like pieces of Art. But I guess they were not — until Joe Sacco appeared!!! I adored books. Read a lot of them. You'll be able to see most of these in a Library that wants to use the books, music, films and more for the public. It should happen in a year, I hope.

In 1957-58 I went to two colleges. Thrown out by the first one in Lahore for reasons that they knew, I joined another one in Karachi … and walked out of an exam, running away (despite being an only child and much loved) to join the Merchant Navy. (More on the walk-out and going ships in another blogpost.) 

Once I became a Junior Officer on the ships, I started to teach Cadets who came from colleges, some even with a degree in Maths. They knew very little … and, invariably told me they'd forgotten most stuff after exams (which had happened less than 6 months before they joined us). I had to teach them Maths and a lot more. Most of them were joining the Merchant Navy to see the world but couldn't pick out countries in a world map. 

I felt that these students, too, had been taught 'wrongly' (like I was) … but how could one say this with any assurance? So I started to try and understand Education and Teaching.

Having read several books from the greats: Russell, Dewey, Piaget, Freire, Kohl, Kohn, Postman, and many many more (see the lists of some of these at the end of this post) … I soon also met the BBC B Computer in January 1982. Wow! Later I also added an Apple IIe. Both went away after I got a Macintosh in 1984.

BBC B Micro

All of these taught me how much Education could be supported by these technologies. So I started a computer company (the first Educational Computing company in Pakistan: Solutions Unlimited, now run as a consultancy by my wife, Nuzhat Kidvai). The computer companies went further ahead. First I opened Enabling Technologies - a multi-medea company (which was later run, independently, by my once-partner Jehan Ara, now heading P@SHA and Nest I/O). Finally, BITS - a venture that began as a collaboration with BSS in Lahore and me in Karachi. Later on the Lahore BITS stopped, because they wanted to continue to serve their Education base.
(Sabeen Mahmud was part of this from the time she was almost 15 years old until a few years later she became my full-time Partner at BITS. I was with her when she formed T2F … and BITS became a net-based consultancy. The day she was assassinated, after a session at T2F where I was also present, our car was only 10 seconds away from her when her mother phoned and said they'd been shot.)
For those who believe having no real Education is terrible,
believe me, it's not!
As long as you get into something you really love.


Having no academic experience, I was called to seminars to speak about Education and my sickness of it having turned into what it now was. I spoke at IBA (Karachi) several times, spoke at several schools, taught at Karachi's Teacher's Resource Centre, went to Apple Conferences, taught teachers from Kuwait at the Melbourne University, attended schools to see what Windows did in Education (almost nothing!) versus Apple that did a lot of what students and I loved. But, of course, Windows machines were cheaper and forced Teachers to teach nothing of Education, except Computer Science, initially. Visited MIT and worked in a Conference that was run by Nicholas Negroponte

I met and worked with Seymour Papert and spent a lot of time with Roger Schank (whom I have had come over to Pakistan many times). At Hakim Saeed Sahab's insistence — he changed the requirement of being a PhD to head a Department and said 'PhD or equivalent' — I headed the first New Media Department in Pakistan at Hamdard U and taught there for three years. The course that I taught, because I insisted that it be vetted, was accepted by a Canadian University as being a good course.

I am a Consultant to Beaconhouse School Systems for who knows how long. I have helped them open up TNS (The New School) and taught teachers there. I also worked with them to start the Beaconhouse National University — which is an NGO and gives them no money, unlike what many people think. The School of Learning has had me for many talking sessions and Cedar College has me on their Board of Advisers.

So it works.
Drop Out if you must.
But do Drop In and love what you do.

My talks at all of these, whether teaching teachers or students, had always included several things that I thought were essential - unlike the people who put their money into building schools (and, often, secretly accepting my views). Here are some of the things I talked about from 1989 to 2009 in my presentations, lectures, workshops …

* Grades are Degrading *

* Let's get back to the One-Classroom Schools *

* Life isn't about 45 minutes for each item —
so why do we have 45 minute periods? *

* Power tends to corrupt,
PowerPoint corrupts them completely. *

* A country's Geography decides its History:
Why two subjects? *

* There should be no Competition. *

* Let children learn by doing. *

* The Story-Based Curriculum is the best bet. *

* Children are different.
Schools want them to be the same. *

I must admit that many feel changing schools to useful places - to teach children how to learn forever and improve their lives - is too difficult to do. This is true because they are pressured by book-selling companies and some amazingly funny educators*, hardware companies that want boxes to be put out, parents who think they know education because they went to a school or college, teachers who think that because they have done this for years they truly understand today's kids (and write stupid reports that always seem to say 'could have done better'), and the ones that only do this for finances: The is why Dr Eqbal Ahmad called such schools "The McDonald's educational equivalent" at a conference in Karachi. (Do visit and learn more about the world.)

We need Parents/Teachers trained about Education/Learning and to understand that they are training children for a future that they know very little about. A child who enters a school today will not have many of the jobs that we work with now when s/he comes out of School or College. In their lives they may even have to change jobs several times and relearn things or understand several new ideas. Many children will drop out of Education to do things that parents couldn't have even thought of. Non-formally educated kids can now go into many major companies if they can do stuff that schools never teach.

Don't forget this: At the end of their school career the child scores an A (actually too many A's, now), having spent days at school and then paying more than the school fees to Tutors. The Schools take out glorious ads saying this is what we did to the students. Baaah … How about placing pictures of the failed kids who were with you for years and this is what you did to them!

The trend that I love most is Microschools. Read this and get to know more about them. It is absolutely essential if you are a parent. Or even a student. While the UK started this, take a look at Brooklyn, NY, where many such schools are happening. Go here.

Recently, thanks to a friend, Jawad Ali, I came across Portfolio-School.  It's a school in New York run by Babur Habib (from Karachi) and Doug Schachtel … and it made my day. I hope to go there and see the school and enjoy myself thoroughly. This would be a great gift to me just after my 78th birthday. You must visit their website. Go there now.

In November we have a great conference in Karachi. It's at the Beach Luxury Hotel, 3rd/4th November. SOT's Conference this time is called The World of the Future - Reimagined. Loads of people are coming in from worldwide as well as Pakistan (and India, too, if they get their Visas). They'll look at how the world is shaping up in all directions, discuss numerous subjects, and the impact that they'll have in the future of Education, as well.

And Babur Habib will be there, too.

Some SOT Conference details are here for you. The following five, broadly-overlapping dimensions will be explored:
* A Symbiotic Future (focal points: artificial intelligence in governance, fourth industrial revolution, effects of technology on concepts of gender, human sexuality & reproduction)

* A Balanced Future (focal points: sustainable economic development, environment and climate change, gender, minorities, the end of poverty and the future of humanity)

* An Expressive Future (focal points: art as a universal language, the role of visual and performing arts in effecting change, global vs. local languages, freedom of expression)

* An Inclusive Future (focal points: unity through diversity, inclusion of the economically disadvantaged, learning differences, gender bias in education, sports and other pursuits, non-binary gender issues, barriers for change)

* An Unknown Future (focal points: safe learning spaces, personal security and data security, navigating a world increasingly under surveillance, new directions in science)


Go to Amazon and look for these people.
There'll be tons of books by them that you'll love.

Finally, a couple of interesting notes for you.

* Book Publish Companies
An Educator

Just a couple of small thoughts. Roger Schank and I were discussing (after the first SOT Conference) the possible future of today's schools. Both were against what the schools taught. We thought they should end soon if we can get around the pressures. The Head of a major publishing company in Pakistan was with us and said this is a ridiculous idea. What would her company do? As if we had put up schools to ensure that her company succeeds over what children needed.

She also added that children would get to talk to each other in schools (not that they don't in their mohallās!) … and I though that if they ever did that in the class, the teacher would ask them to shut up, since it "is not a playing field. Break is the time …"

The same night we had a dinner at the host's house where I asked a really senior, fully qualified, educator (who was about to head a University shortly) if he ever needed Pythagora's Theorem in his everyday life — since he thought Roger's idea was stupid. He said "yes; I always do."

This was (not verbatim but almost accurately) his answer: Whenever I come to a triangular patch in a field where I could go straight and then turn right to get to my destination, I think of the Pythagora's Theorem and work out that it would be easier to cross the patch at an angle because it would be shorter. (Hmmm!)

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Āj Mohsin Ehsan bohat yād āé …

Mohsin Ehsan
a very dear friend who is no longer with us.


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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

India? No! Sindh∂is? Yes!

The recent laws in India
Going to India 2 or 3 times a year seemed normal a few years ago, but the recent rules have mede this impossible. Although the new High Commissioner from India has promised that things will get better (good luck to him!), it won't be until laterlaterlater in this year. On the other hand, what happens laterlaterlater is not something all of us can decide now, actually, with the extreme right wing been given the powers to stand up in our elections by a Commission: People are still trying to understand what they are committing to, though many people I have met seem to have very similar ideas about why this is happening.

No point discussing this here, for Democracy does mean differences of opinion, so I will let their opinions stay … but I may try to change them in conversations, though. Democracy, right!!!

The first thing that happened was my 'Indian' niece, Sahar Zaman, who ran a lovely Art Program on TV, is a wonderful Artist and Designer, and runs a News broadcasts on TV, refused to come to Pakistan (for a School of Tomorrow Conference) because she thought it would be dangerous here. The Media in India obviously supports this view, so I could not change her opinion.

(Media here is - er, was - better,
but it's also headed that way, either by choice or by force.)

Months later my niece decided to host a show on her grand-uncle (and my Chacha Jania), playback singer and film actor, Talat Mahmood, in 2 places in India (so far)

Talat Mahmood & Sahar Zaman

I so wanted to go. I called her up to ask for the dates — and she said I shouldn't try to come because of 'various reasons' (I won't mention all of them here, though, but lack of Visas was one of them.)

Jashn-e-Talat Announcement

Her lovely husband, Dhiraj, who is also an Artist, Traveller, and a Designer of the strangest of things that attract a lot of audience, is now holding a Mango Festival in Art and probably has good mango stuff to eat there, too, apart from his delightful Mangoes. I am sure I could have gotten Dassahris, Lang∂ās, Lakhnavva Safaedās, and much more if I went. 

Dhiraj Singh
But a NO is a NO and I can't travel to India again
until some miracle happens.

(Actually that doesn't ever happen!)

Sitting in Karachi hasn't been too bad. I've had delightful Dassahris and Lang∂ās, here, and despite being constantly reminded that its against my Diabetes (it's not!) I eat three mangoes a day: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner. And my sugar count remains ok.

3 Mangoes a day is fine!
A little digression - but still about mangoes and diabetes: I used to check my blood sugar count every three months, since my father was Diabetic. So I discovered that I was in the beginning of Diabetes. Rushed off to a Diabetic Expert as fast as I could. She told me that I should eat from a list she gave me. There were no Mangoes on that list. I was teaching at Hamdard University, heading a New Media Class, and used to eat Mangoes everyday during our lunch with my Vice Chancellor, Dr. Qazi, who was also a Diabetes patient. (He was a wonderful man who died recently.) The Diabetician told me that if I didn't eat mangoes this year my life would get me 2 more years. Shit! I left her and went back to eating mangoes. Can you imagine 2 more years of life without mangoes?

Dr Qazi - we all miss you!

These days my life is full of delightful Sindh∂is, sent to me first by Umer Khan of Champion Mangoes. And you can even send them to USA.

Umer Khan

This was added to later by
Hana Tariq and Zawwar Taufiq
a piece by Qasim Aslam that started as
The History Project and has now spread much further!

Hana Tariq

Zawwar Taufiq

Finally, a large crate was sent by Marvi Mazhar (from her Mangoes grown in her gaõñ). She's a lovely Architect and loves preserving heritages. She did the CAP's National History Museum in Lahore (Karachi will also take place, some day, IF the Sindh Government[?] agrees …)

After having done so much work in Karachi (take a look at the Cantt Station, folks) and in parts of Sindh. She also runs PCCC, a place worth going to if you are in Karachi. 

Marvi Mazhar

Happy Summer, friends!

… and Peace, forever!

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Dream Fulfilled: Mustafa Zaidi Event at T2F

Mustafa Zaidi Ki Yād Mayñ
Born 1930 Murdered 1970

It was really such a great event. All my dreams came true. For years after MZ's murder (although the courts asked us to consider it a suicide … and, sadly, many people believed it) I have been wanting to do something for his memory. Something that would put the record straight … instead of the idiotically crazy pictures that the press painted for us (and I feel that Jang, a newspaper that actually surpassed the sales of all other dailies in Pakistan, did). Something that would indicate what he was as a poet! He was one of our greatest poets that lived for just 40 years before death engulfed him and left us poorer in poetry.

But it wasn't just that …

It left us all poorer in the love of a man who always told the truth; poorer for a generation that had not even heard of him (thanks to the lack of availability of his books); the bans on his appearing on radio and tv broadcasts; the erasures of his lovely works from those libraries; and the actual poorness of that man's last few years when he didn't even have enough money to phone his family often.

After a ridiculous 303 movement — the removal of maybe many crooks but one that included a lot of decent people who were shunted out by President Yahya Khan (on advice from many who had personal grudges against them). The News says that "Yahya Khan’s military regime had summarily dismissed 303 civil servants and government functionaries, but did not prosecute them." That's not true, really. Blocks were put on MZ by having his passport confiscated and a ban was placed on his travels so that he could not see his family, a family that loved him and he loved so much. 

MZ mentioned this in a poem ("Pahla Pat'thar"). We all loved the poem … but the press refused to print it.

He then went to the two people who were known here as the speakers of freedom … but they, too, thought that it was wrong, so he wrote another poem ("Banaamé Idāraé Lail-o-Nahar"). Always worth listening to on his only audio CD: "The One and Only Mustafa Zaidi" — a collection that I have. It is now available at T2F (or by post in Pakistan if you pay the mailing charges).

Both became poems that the crowd celebrated and repeated to each other. But they were never published. You can read it now in the (almost!) full selection of his külliyāt.

The book is now available everywhere.
Why did I say almost? There were two lines that were omitted in this collection … I have them and can read them out to you if we meet ;)

It was soon after his death that I kept telling Nuzhat (my wife) that it was something we needed to do. The press was unfair. The politics was unfair. The people who read all this were being prejudiced because they neither knew the man … and even if they did, they thought the press must be right about him.

To the world he became the lover of Shahnaz Gul (a one year encounter in 40 years of his life!) …something that his wife, Vera, has to talk about, if she wants to.

How many people who read these posts can look into their own lives and not admit their 'other loves' after marriage. Many, I am sure.  Men and Women. But that's the theme of Hypocrisy. Blame others, not yourselves. One that now seems to pervade everyone … even more by the recently converted religiosity people. The first poem above says that, too, for MZ knew where we were heading.

Years later, when I was heading Enabling Technologies, we decided to do a CD-ROM (Do you remember what those were?). I decided to do one for MZ, first. Sabeen Mahmud loved his poems after I recited them for her and really loved the idea I had for the beginning of the CD-ROM and we decided that it would bring him back to life.

But … with MZ's books missing from the market, and no voices that I could gather other than what I had with me, added to the fact that many parents and others had removed his books from their libraries in case children would know about this mis(represented) man, plus the banning of Mustafa Zaidi's work from Radio and TV, would make for very few people interested in him. So we chose to do 'Faiz - Aaj Kay Naam' as a CD-ROM. There was lots available for Faiz, anyway. And we loved him, too. The Faiz CD-ROM had 16+ hours of amazing works. We hoped we'd do MZ the next time. As events passed we realised that a few kids, who had access to computers, knew nothing of MZ and their parents rarely understood or used computers. Pity.

Finally, back to our event …

The guests at T2F were superb:

Ismat Zaidi, MZ's daughter, who read out and talked about MZ in ways that we never would have known;

Saba Zaidi, Irtiza Ji's daughter (and MZ's niece), who talked of him;

Nusrat Zaidi, a 93-year old cousin who was a close friend of MZ, despite the age difference, talked about his humanity and love;

Nargis Saleem, the daughter of Dr Omar - a very close friend of MZ - who read MZ's letters to her father;

Khalid Ahmad who read out a few poems of MZ;

Our wonderful poet, Iftikhar Arif, who spoke for long and had so many wonderful things to say about MZ and our own lives in general (a person who is always worth listening to);

… and the moderator, Asif Aslam Farrukhi, who handled the occasion brilliantly. I am glad that he is on T2F's list as an advisor.

If you missed the programme (it was broadcast LIVE and will be on YouTube, too), here it is for you again.

One of the T-Shirts that I was wearing (now available at T2F and can be mailed out to anywhere in Pakistan, if you are willing to add the mailing price on it) had this shayr on it.

I knew there'd be an objection and a person in the audience did raise it. He said the shayr was wrong. There was no kahēñ but it was koē. I pointed out that MZ had written koē, but a young college boy went up to him and said that the word, Kahkashāñ, was meant for Milky Way and not Galaxies. We all knew that was the galaxy we could see with the naked eye (and still can, if the annoying lights that hide all the stars in the city don't block out the sky at night). In fact we never had a word for galaxies in Urdu (now we do: we say گیلکسی ) … so MZ agreed and changed it to koē. He wrote that to the publisher when the work was going to be printed in his book and the publisher added kahēñ to the book … but forgot to correct it in the preface that was written. So now we have both available, with the correct one in the poem and the original in the preface. Take your pick. I'll stay with new one.

We have had many people writing to us about the live broadcast. Some who missed it are waiting for it to go on YouTube.

Naseer Turabi (whom Saba and I contacted and got no response from him) was a very close friend of MZ. Now he says we wish he had been contacted. We did, NT! Several times. And would have loved you to be there. Don't worry we'll do another one next year on him and you'll be there, we hope.

We sadly missed Tina Sani who was supposed to come and sing a piece or two of MZ's poems … but she was extremely busy on that day and forgot. You'll be on the next programme, too, Tina!

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