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Friday, September 19, 2014

"… And there's one more thing"

Sorry, this post is not about Steve Jobs. Or Apple.
It's about my Pacemaker, fitted on
August 25th, 2014.

In case you (or someone you know) is going to get one,
this is what happens in Karachi.

As you can see, my Pacemaker came from Meditronics,
a world-famous firm that makes great stuff.
Yes, it works. Don't worry.

But "… there's one more thing". Or maybe even more.

The Cardiologist I went to was Dr. Zia Yaqoob (ZY) who was also my Cardiologist during my Quadruple Bypass in 2009. He works at National Medical Centre, which is just a couple of minutes from my house. Very convenient.

(You can read this and this, if you've missed out the past!)

I was admitted and was to have my surgery performed in the afternoon. ZY said he had asked the Vendor to supply the Pacemaker and it would be here in a while. A little later I was taken to the surgery and was being prepared.

Outside, my wife had someone who approached her with a package that she had to accept and pay for. It was the Pacemaker and parts. Pay? I thought the doctor had told us what it would cost and since we were paying the hospital they should pay the Vendor and bill us. But no. In this case you bought it separately.

Fine, said my wife. But could you please take it to the surgery and make sure its the right thing. No, said the Vendor. "You pay. You take it in." My wife gave the person the money (he left right away) and she handed the Pacemaker to ZY&c. It was, thankfully, the right one … but its awful that the Vendor doesn't hand it over himself. The receiver may not know if its the right item or not.

I came out of the surgery an hour and a half later and stayed in the hospital overnight. The next day I was asked to leave and was told that the Vendor would give me an Implanted Device Identification Card in two days. I should carry it with me all the time. I gave Sabeen my Visiting Card to make sure she'd call the guy up and give him the correct spelling of my name. She did. And he said in two days you'll have the card. I thought I'd wait another three days … nothing works on time here.

On the 29th I called him up again. No answer. We continued doing this for several days. No response. Finally, on the 5th September, I went to see ZY for a check-up and also mentioned to him that the Card hadn't yet arrived. He called his assistant and told him to phone up and get the card delivered to the hospital.

On the 8th September we phoned up the guy and he responded. He said he had sent the card via TCS Delivery Service. "Where to?", asked my wife. "I don't know. Could be your house … or the Hospital!", said the Vendor. Wow. Isn't that just great.

Three days later we went back to ZY without a card. He said he'd "chase the chap right away". Nothing happened. On the 15th September I visited him again and the chap at the Reception handed me an open Card and said someone had just left it there a little while earlier. No TCS. No envelope.

I thanked ZY and said I'd had to cancel my trip to Lahore because I could not have flown without this card. He said to me, "The Vendor is a nasty piece of work. There was another Vendor who was better but this chap had him removed. We have no choice. I have told the other doctors about your bad experience."

Got home and decided to scan the card and keep a copy.
Here is what had arrived.

Apart from an overtyping of my name and the Serial Number
there was Hospita.

Khaér. I scanned it.
Then I'd thought I'd check the boxes give to us.
Most people just throw them away.
And, in any case, with an English Literacy rate of 1%
they can hardly read anything.

Fortunately, I did open the boxes up!

The Serial Number should have been
(Just a digit missing, right?)

Worse, the Lead Number should have been
(Absolutely wrong on my card.)

Tried phoning the Vendor. No Answer.

I called up my neighbour and friend Dr Shamim Ahmad, who phoned up ZY, and got the address of the firm. We spent a lot of time looking for an office "above Scholl's". The Scholl chap said the building had a top floor. There was nothing there. The door was locked.

After more searching we went back to a small tailor shop at the other end of the building. He said, "Oh, the ACP store? Come through my shop. It's above us." Actually one could have seen the door from outside, too, but there were no Signs or Names to look at. This is what it looked like.

 On the right you can see a man opening the door and going up

A trip to the stair case took me to this entrance.

That's the Tailor Shop on the left.

After ringing a small bell that had the company's name badly written, I walked up through the door that was just opened by the man I had seen earlier.

What a bell!!! The company name is on it. So easy to spot, no?

There were hordes of boxes on the stairs all the way up to the office, with a couple of people pulling them up and stacking them. The boxes were from Turkey.

Of the two gentleman the senior one asked me what it was. I told him. He said Mr Waheed does the typing and he is "at the Cardiovascular Hospital. Can you wait?" 

The other person said I should come up and sit down. He'll call Waheed on the phone. In I went. Saw even more boxes piled up everywhere.

I am sure the Turks think this is a great company.

I also asked the person that the office must keep a record of what had been given and to which patient. There must be a record in the office. Accounts? Delivery challaan? Huh? Huh? No response.

Waheed came on the line. Was told what had happened.
Not even a 'Sorry' from him.

The gentleman said to me that Waheed had written on the last card they had in the office and sent it on to me. There were no cards left in office. I said it shouldnt't take more than a couple of days to print them here … but was told that they have to be from Medtronics in the USA.

Given the card that I had, it was on a rather poorly printed version with Medtronics in Blue. Easily printed here, I am sure. Specially by their Distributor. I asked him why Medtronics didn't send as many cards (plus a couple more) than the machines they sent here. I mean that seems obvious, right? "It's Amrika", he said "and they can do what they like."

Sad that in a country, with little or no literacy rate, a Pacemaker can be fitted and the card (with the wrong numbers) sent out after 3 weeks … with so much more worrying, and visits to the Doctor, by the patient. What if the patient happens to be a chap from the interior of Sind (and one who cannot even read what's on the card). He may be travelling to the UAE for a job, for example, and have an invalid card. If something happens to him, the Medtronics team will not be able to trace these boxes back, if called.

Although ACP wanted a TCS Delivery Address I have left my phone number, instead, with them and asked them to phone me when the cards arrive. Will go and pick it up myself. And make sure its correctly filled in.

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Saturday, September 06, 2014


 On 24th October 2009 I had a heart attack.
You can read about it here.

So, what's new?

About 7 months ago Sabeen Mahmud (of T2F & my adopted daughter) went to Dr. Cyasp Nowsherwani. She asked me to come along, too, partly because I had complained about an occasional giddiness when standing up after being in a chair for a long time. The Doc asked me if this always happened. I said No. He said I should "get up slowly and hold on to something if necessary … and soon this would go away. It was only temporary." Was it Age? Perhaps!

I waited for months. Nothing happened that seemed connected. But things didn't work out too well. Read the follow-up here to see how some things did happen. But, again, it didn't seem to indicate a heart problem.

Over these months my dizziness kept happening slightly more often, even sometimes while I was walking from room to room. So I went to the Emergency Ward at NMC and the Doctor said it would take a couple of months to get all right … I should continue taking my regular medicines.

More months passed. Nothing happened. The pain attack returned once. I rushed to the heart hospital. A checkout showed that it wasn't my heart. So I came home. Dr. Shamim (S) gave me a medicine to reduce the pain … but no pains came after that.

Then the dizzyness started happening when I climbed downstairs/upstairs. Not all the time, but getting worse. Mind you, the dizzyness came for just a second or two. Maybe three. Never longer.


While Ragni was here and was visiting a doctor. I was in the waiting room. I phoned and spoke to 'Ms. House M.D.' — that's Sabeen Mahmud -  and told her I was feeling increasingly dizzy again.  She (a Lady Doctor, Psychologist, Psychiatrist … without any qualifications) said it could be Tachycardia or Bradycardia.

(See how useful that amazing TV series is!)

Looking this stuff up on my iPhone, I felt that Bradycardia could be the possible cause. For this I downloaded a Heart Rate Monitor Application on my iPhone. I checked it out and it showed 72 beats per minute.  60bpm, I discovered on a website, was low. 40bpm was fairly terrible.

I kept checking my heart rate there in the hour I was sitting in the waiting room … and this is what I saw happening afterwards: 67 - 58 - 65 - 44 -72 - 41.


That website also mentioned Arrhythmia - a missing of heartbeats or irregularity in them. There was no way to find that out unless I went to a Doc. So I had to go see Dr Zia Yaqoob (ZY).

Dr S phoned Dr ZY and told him that a Holten Monitor needed to be attached to me for 24 hours. I went to see him and had monitor fitted by 'Mike'. He asked me if his children should continue to stay in Pakistan or move out. I said if they were Jews, Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Shias, Aga Khanis, Bohris, or any other 'breed' that the 'incoming Pakistan' feels should be killed — and that includes several Sunni sects, too — they should leave right away. Mike - (whose real name was Mukesh, I found out later) - told his assistant that I was the second person to say this to him. I guess his kids will soon be on their way out.

Holten Monitor

The monitor records were kept on a USB card that was plugged in. After 24 hours the USB was removed and the events were checked. "You should come back for a report on Monday evening", said Mike, and off we went.

We were almost near our house when Mike phoned and said I should get back and see Dr ZY right away!!! Huh???

Anyway, I got to Dr ZY and Mike arrived there with my report. The Doc looked at it. There were 48 times in the 24 hours that my heart had stopped. Many missed beats were upward of 3 seconds. The longest one was 4.478 seconds.

Fortunately— or not — I was asleep.
I guess I could have died.

Dr ZY said to me that I'd have to have a Pacemaker fitted as soon as I can … and I should rest until then. I came home and we thought that I must have this on Monday, since Ragni was leaving in three days and could be with me at this time.
So it was on Monday, August 25, that my Pacemaker was fitted

(I also posted these pics on Facebook/Twitter)

Pacemaker 1 : The X-ray

Pacemaker 2 : Recovering at NMC

Pacemaker 3 : If I'd been a little fatter this wouldn't be seen!


On 27th August Ragni celebrated her 30th Birthday
(her first in Karachi in 10 years)
and I decided to celebrate my 73rd a little early instead of October 2nd.


 So now, Tony Afzal, you know what happened.


Oh, here's a fact to remember:

SOS is quite often 'translated' as Save Our Souls.
Apart from the fact that there is no 'soul' to save,

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Monday, August 18, 2014


Visit the Website

and watch this to see what people have to say about T2F

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Real Independence Day

Yes dear friends.
Today, 15th August 2014, is our Independence Day
(altered to 14th August, much later).

Here is a picture of Jinnah Sahab's writing pad.

15th August was Jüma'tul Vidaa in 1947
and he thought it would be ideal to have
our Independence on that day.
The Congress had no objection.
The day was immediately decided.

Rashid Latif Ansari (ex-EMI and ex-Minister at BB's Government),
a respected older friend of mine,
says the date was altered to suit the Mullaas much later.
They thought the 27th of Ramzan (14th August 1947) was a better day.


Trust them to alter all forms and ideas of history.
By the way, Rashid Bhai was at Abbey Road
recording the famous Beatle's Album.

He was also told by the Government to remove the original anthem
at EMI and to leave no traces of it.
The tapes and records were all deleted/destroyed.
Radio Pakistan Karachi sent its Musicians to record
the new Anthem by Hafeez Jullandhari.

The original anthem was by Jagan Nath Azad, a Hindu poet,
selected by Jinnah Sahab to show our seculariness.

Many people now say that there is no record of this.
But they can ask Rashid Bhai, if they want.

Most of our first Postage Stamps were from India
with PAKISTAN written on them.

But we also began printing our very own stamps
that celebrated our Independence Day.


On the 15th of August 1948 Jinnah Sahab gave us his message
reproduced here from DAWN.

(I adored our first Ekco radio!)


Finally, here's another Govt. of Pakistan Publication
from our Press Information Department.


14th August 1947 was, actually, the last day of
Pakistan/Hindustan being under British Law.

Why celebrate that???

The slavery came to an end at 00.01 on 15th August 1947.

Khaer. Chalo — ab to phañs hi gaé!


Here's something to end this post on a good note.

The Government of Pakistan brought out a book of
Jinnah Sahab's photographs in 1997.

They even had someone forge his signature, pretty well.
Sadly, the forger forgot about the date ;)

(1897 or 1997)


Have a great day!

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Friday, August 08, 2014

RIP Tunnu Apa

You were a source of strength, laughter, love and more!

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Saturday, August 02, 2014

You're gone but I will always love you


Friday, July 25, 2014

As Allah is my witness …

When I was about 9 a (Muslim) teacher, who was our Scout Master and also taught Arabic and Persian, said to us that the "Islamic word Allah" had no other meaning and that it meant 'to whom we pray' ... And he added "it has not been derived from another word and no other adjective, adverb, or other derivation could be made from this word."

I was pretty confused.

At home we were told that our Prophet's father was named Abdullah (Servant of Allah) well before Islam came into being. So the name was hardly Islamic. Also I had never heard of a name (my surname was Kidvai) being used in anyway as an adverb or adjective.

Were he alive in Malaysia today, he'd be considered a great 'Muslim', I suppose. The country that many of my Pakistani friends think is amazingly modern and Islamic has announced that no one other than Muslims can use the word Allah. 

Do remember that the word Allah is a name for God, which is used by Arabic speakers, both Arab Muslims and Arab Christians.  This word cannot be used to designate anything other than the one true God.  The Arabic word Allah occurs in the Quran about 2700 times. In Aramaic, a language related closely to Arabic and the language that Jesus habitually spoke, God is referred to as Allah.

Despite the above fact, Malaysia decided that Christians could not use this word and a Christian newspaper was asked to stop using it. I suppose Arabic translations of the Bible in Malaysia would have to be redone.

I am wondering that to convert to Islam and become a Muslim a non-Muslim person needs to state “La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad ar Rasool Allah" and understand its meaning … so how does one convert to Islam in Malaysia?

As I grew up and read several religious books (of most religions), as well as treatises and books related to them, I discovered that the name Allah had been derived from Al-Lah, the highest of all gods, which is why Abdullah was named thusly.

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Friday, May 02, 2014

RIP Latif

May 1st - 2014


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Friday, April 11, 2014

Pakistanyoñ Se

Today was Abi's birthday.


In 1949, just a couple of years after Pakistan was born,
Abi recited this Nazm at a Mushaerah celebrating
our independence.


Here is the complete original in his handwriting.

For those who cannot read Urdu,
I have recited just the lateefa for them
which can be heard on here.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Rage that is Ragni …

This is just a quote from the CUNY Newsletter


Rage M. Kidvai (’14) Awarded Equal Justice Works Fellowship

March 24, 2014

Rage M. Kidvai (’14) has been awarded a two-year Equal Justice Works (EJW) fellowship, starting in September, to work at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), providing legal representation on asylum applications for low-income transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex (TGNCI) immigrants.

Kidvai pursued the EJW fellowship to address the “huge gap in providing asylum and deportation defense services to TGNCI people with criminal records.” This is especially important “where transgender and gender non-conforming folks of color and immigrants are disproportionately poor, policed, and incarcerated.”

Prior to law school, Kidvai represented survivors of interpersonal violence and trafficking on cases regarding public assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, and housing, and decided to pursue a law degree to be “better able to listen and serve” those facing transphobia, homophobia, racism and xenophobia in the forms of state violence caused by criminalization, incarceration and deportation.

During the EJW fellowship, Kidvai will file asylum, withholding of removal, U-Visa, T-Visa, naturalization (citizenship), adjustment of status and employment authorization applications on behalf of clients, and will also provide legal assistance to the Prisoner Rights and Survival and Self-determination Projects at SRLP, assisting clients with public benefits and name change applications.

While at CUNY Law, Kidvai participated in the Criminal Defense clinic, and interned with SRLP, Brooklyn Defender Services Family Defense Practice, Orleans Public Defenders (through the CUNY Law Mississippi Project), Brooklyn Defender Services Criminal Defense Practice, and The Bronx Defenders.


Lots of Love, Hugs, Kisses.
We are so thrilled!

Ummi & Abi

Marvi Mazhar, [Me], Jehan Ara, Nuzhat Kidvai, Hareem Sumbul, Sabeen Mahmud

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dead at 99 … and we'll all miss him

Khushwant Singh

I was visiting my friend Tarun Tejpal in Delhi and one night I was invited with him to Khushwant's house for dinner at 9:00pm by his son. I said I wanted to meet Khushwant Ji. The son said I should come at 8:30 and meet him as he goes to his room at 9:00pm.

Meeting Khushwant Ji was a pleasure. He was eating his daal and chatted away with me about Pakistan for which he had a great love. At 9pm he started to reach his room and I saw that the door had a large kalmah around the sides. I asked him why that was and he said "Hindu bohat ghabraatay haéñ daykh kar …"

His books on every subject, serious, laughable, biographical, and his novels, have always fascinated me … but his Train to Pakistan was totally remarkable.

RIP, Khushwant Ji

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Getting the facts right …

I have to start this post by saying that I am in no way willing to accept the 'rules' suggested by the CII for marrying again without the wife's permission or to allow underage marriage.


Take a look at cutting off limbs in stealing. Do we cut off the hands of a poor man who stole to eat his only meal … and also of the businessman who took away millions from his firm illegally?

No. We don't. Even in this Islamic Republic.

We have courts. The Judge listens. He announces his Judgement. He may say that the poor man is wrong, warn him for further crimes, but add that he doesn't have to be put in jail. On the rich man he will also pass his Judgement. A long sentence, fines, and maybe more.

To force us to obey 'all the rules of the 7th Century' today would be wrong. Rules change as times and spaces become different, as the world becomes different.

Do we still burn witches today? No.

I can come up with many more examples that have changed because we have jails now, and insane asylums, and medical practices. We understand that a murderer may have killed in self-defence. 


So why am I writing all this?

This morning I found Iqbal Ismail's Facebook account having quoted Laal (or Taimur, to be precise). Here's what Taimur had to partly say:

Taimur's Reactionary Proposal is OK, I guess, but let's just get our facts correct. The Qur'anic Verse that he refers to is badly translated. There is nothing that prevents one from marrying a widow, an orphan, or a regular virgin here. Nothing!

The Prophet married THIRTEEN wives. Apart from not marrying until Bibi Khadijah's death, he married Bibi Soodah who was a widow. But then, as his THIRD wife, he married Ayeshah. She was neither a widow, nor an orphan. As his TWELFTH wife he 'married' Bibi Maria about whom we do not know if she was a virgin. She may have been an orphan or a widow. Victors picked up slaves from every area when they won wars. Others bought them. She was gifted to the Prophet by al-Muqawqis of Abyssinia. Some historical records show that she was a concubine and the Prophet never married her: Read Ibné Saad's "Life of the Prophet"

Some of the Prophet's marriages certainly happened after the Qur'anic Verse quoted in Item#3 above. He did not divorce any and had many wives at at time. There is a Qur'anic Verse (XXXIII:52) that shows that the Prophet was not allowed to add more wives than the ones he had … something that others could do, as you will see in this post.

If you think that I may have faltered in my perception here, let me get to the fact that the Qur'an had certainly been completed just before the Prophet's death. Which means that anyone after that time should not have married more than one wife (except, of course, widows and orphans … if the verse meant that).

Let's look at Hazrat Ali, who remained married to Bibi Fatimah until her death. After that he married eight more wives. Some of them were NOT widows or orphans. He was the father of 15 sons and 18 daughters (of which 12 daughters came from two slave girls… Humia and Umm Shuaib).

Hazrat Ali's son, Hazrat Hasan, who died while he was in mid-forties, was known as Mitlaaq (=Great Divorcer). He was married, according to Philip K. Hitti's "History of the Arabs", to around 100 wives whom he divorced. Some people say that all this took place in his later 9 years.

To make FOUR WIVES as the prevailing rule … it is an Islamic rule from the Hadees rather than a Qur'anic Injunction … we have people saying that Hazrat Ali had only four wives at a time, as did Hazrat Hasan.

Surely when you marry it is for all times to come, unless you or she have problems when there can be a divorce. It does not mean that you marry one and divorce her and marry another and divorce her and go on and on like that.


Let's go to the Qur'anic Verse (IV:3) which has been misinterpreted. While there is a part in the verse that says 'one' would be better, the phrase that causes the major problem is "Mathana va Thülaatha va Rübaa" (=Twos and Threes and Fours). This phrase certainly does not mean 'unto four' as it is now interpreted. It meant 'many' in those days. This is much the same way as when you say to a child, for example, 'I have told you hundreds of times not to lie'. 'Hundreds' does not mean 'several hundred' … it means 'many'.

If you think that the Qur'an is the best way to decide things if the same verse is found elsewhere, let's go to (XXXV.1) where it says that Angels have wings that are "Mathana va Thülaatha va Rübaa" (=Twos and Threes and Fours). Surely it means 'many' here. Muslims do not have an article of faith that says an Angel can only have 2, or 3, or 4 wings. Several legends tell us about Angels with numerous wings.

Incidentally, here's another part that will convince you further. Read (XXXIV:46) which says "... that you stand up for Allah in twos and singly". This does NOT mean that Muslims can offer prayers in twos or ones … but not in a Jama'at.

Good luck!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

This is where it's at …

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gaé Dinoñ Kaa Süraagh Lay Kar …

Musadiq Sanwal — known to many as Musadiq and to others as Sanwal —was named Muhammad Musadiq Iqbal at his birth. Sanwal means pyaara (loveable) in Seraiki and (probably) has the same roots as Sañvali (which means dark and delightful in Urdu/Hindi).

We met him years ago when he was performing a play under his group, Baang … and we chatted and talked and discussed music that he loved and I listened to constantly. We became close friends. He said to me that among his favourites was Munshi Raziuddin. That brought us even closer.

I used to have programs every month at our house with people sitting in the garden and Writers, Poets, and Musicians performing on different days. Musadiq came to sing there once and stole everyone's heart. We sat after the event in a small group and he sang a few more songs. Amazing.

One day he came to my office and I asked him to sing a song for the 20-odd people there. We moved into the room (which, eventually, became The Second Floor — or T2F). He sang my favourite piece from Mirza Saahibaan. That was without any music … and even people who couldn't understand the words cried! Here it is for you all, but not recorded that day. Sad — because I loved his voice even more without any musical instruments. It was powerful and carried me into a heavenly abode..

Tehrik-e-Niswan decided to perform Jinnay Lahore Naeeñ Vaykhia. Sanwal did the music and sang the songs. His performances were unbelievable. Many of my friends attended the play again, just to hear him sing.

Nuzhat was in the play, too, and during the partition scene Ragni (about 6) was among the 'little girls' who travelled with the migration group. Ragni loved Musadiq's singing and always wanted him to sing theNasir Kazmi ghazal: Udaasi Baal Kholay So Rahi Haé.

One night, later in 1990, Sanwal and Khalid Ahmad (a friend who is a beautiful Director, Actor, and Reader …  and plays the flute beautifully) came to my house. A small group gathered in our den and heard them sing and play. Ragni, feeling slightly sleepy, woke up fully as Musadiq began to sing her favourite. This is his recording from that night.

A CD of his recordings, called Aajzi, was released and sold at the original T2F. He performed there and at T2F's newer spot.

A few months ago he asked me to come over to his office (DAWN - The Web Edition) and to talk to his staff about Urdu Poetry and recite a few verses for them. I prepared the program but when I phoned him he was ill and was rushing off to the USA. Cancer had gotten to him and he seemed to be in a dangerous position.

After months of treatment in USA, he recovered fully and came back, working at his office again. One day, a few weeks ago, he came to T2F at a program and he was all smiles. I asked him if his voice was back. He smiled and said, "Tho∂i si, but I can sing again at your place". We decided that Khalid and he would come and sing-play again … but he was rushed to the hospital the next week.

He smoked all the time and I felt that that is why his lung had to be removed. The surgery was successful. Doctors celebrated his return from his Cancer. He was cured. I phoned and was told that he'd be home in 2-3 days. He was in the ICU so I thought I wouldn't go there, but see him at home when he got back.


That night (Friday, 17th January) I saw a message on Twitter saying blood was needed for him at the hospital. This was followed by more such messages. Sabeen wanted to go that night to give blood but was told that she should come the next day.

In the morning we received a message that Jehan Ara's father had passed away … so Nuzhat, Sabeen and I rushed there. On the way we received Nadeem Farooq Piracha's message that Musadiq had passed away.


I went to his funeral after Mushtaque Sahab's janaaza prayers, and saw Musadiq's body being put into a casket and made ready for a flight to his home in Multan. His wife, Shehla, told us that he had recovered from Cancer and was going to go home in 2-3 days … but a bug in the ICU killed him! Damn!


On Sanwal's soyem his friends Khalid Ahmad and Mohammad Hanif read out his verses. We all shared his stories. Shehla's mamooñ came over and said he always felt he was Musadiq's mamooñ for that's how close Musadiq was to everyone in their family. Actually he loved everyone who became his acquaintance.


There's little one can say about a friend after he has died. Sanwal was a constantly smiling individual (even until he passed away), a sahaafi, a brilliant poet, a loving person, a great musician, a delightful film-maker, a talented Director at plays. Perhaps Hasan Zaidi's lovely column may help you understand him more.

This evening I will attend A Celebration of Musadiq Sanwal at Karachi's Arts Council where friends, his students, his office staff, and fans will all be there.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014



I have written several pieces in my blogs about Abi. He had many friends who adored him. He was a good doctor and had the finest bedside manner I have seen. Even after his heart attacks he would go to a patient if they called at night, thinking that they may not get anyone else to attend at this time.

He loved books (English and Urdu), published a set of short stories (Naee Paod) and wrote poems (to be published soon) in Urdu, loved music (Eastern Classical, Qavvaali, and Western Classical), could read musical notes and tried his best to teach me … but failed, sang fairly well (in Urdu and English), spoke English well (and sometimes, as a joke, in a perfect Scottish accent when we asked), wrote Urdu with a lovely consistent writing, loved Science and Arts. And he adored sweets and mangoes (as do I).

Abi was extremely religious in his last years … but very liberal in his conversations with me even when they were against some parts of his beliefs at times. I owe him so much. My love of literature (and specially Urdu poetry), arts, and music, come from him.

When Abi was in Scotland for his medical studies he had been left with no money (specially from a father who had a lot of it). Abi never brought this up in any conversation and, once, when I said that this was terrible, he got angry at me and said that was between him and his father and I had no business criticising my dada! He finally had to get more money to pay for his examination fees and his last semester. He borrowed this from a 'friend' of his in Scotland (Auntie Dorothy) and promised to pay back soon when he started his practice in Monifieth (Scotland). However, he was called back to India when his mother had Cancer … and then he did not go back to UK.

He got married to my mother and told her in two days that he had to send most of the money he earned here to Dorothy in Monifieth. Ummi decided that it was a bad idea to owe someone money at all … and sold some of her jewellery and gave the money to Abi. That was within a fortnight of their marriage. I met Aunty Dorothy years later when I was in the Merchant Navy and went to Dundee, close to Monifieth. She spoke very fondly of him and of my mother whom she knew through letters.

From his practice in Aligarh (which began soon after his mother died), he eventually moved - in a few months after I was born - to Qarolbaagh in Dilli. He was taken into the British Army as a doctor and we travelled everywhere (Jhaañsi, Mayruth, Attock, to name a few) … but he also went to Palestine, Iraq, Cairo, Babylon, and many other places.

Then came the Partition. Ummi and I accompanied my Khaala and Khaalu (Abbu Jan and Ammi Jan) to Bombay where Abi was supposed to meet us. He did. He had just come from Dilli and found that the house and his little clinic had been burnt completely. Ummi was shocked at all the good things they had saved and bought … and never ever wanted us to buy anything, thinking that it would disappear one day. We set out to Karachi after Abi (a Congress Party member) had been assured by Dr Syed Mahmud (Nuzhat's Nana) and Pandit Ji that things would quieten down in six months and we could return.

That never happened :(

Life in Karachi was fairly bad. We had no money (the first few years Abi would treat refugees free from Ramakrishna Mission Hospital that he was working at. He had been called to join it by his friend and colleague from the UK who was now a Doctor and a Priest! They also gave us a small flat near where they lived. Despite this he and my mother had several friends and relatives who were coming from India to stay over at our house. Often a dozen, sleeping everywhere. How did Ummi manage their food was always a mystery, specially as I grew up and started understanding the 'finances'. Ammi Jan used to laugh and say that Ummi put in a lot of water to make the dishes seem larger than they were.

Abi's health kept getting worse … and he could not keep a job for long after having left Orient Airways as the Chief Medical Officer. He was in his clinic one day and off for days at a time. On some days he made nothing. On other days he made a few bucks. Doctors who were his friends told him that he should give up the refugees and move to a bigger place (Dr Afzal Habib offered to have him in his clinic), but Abi was Abi. The refugees came first. Then relatives. Then friends. Alwaysnd a book, if he ever had money.

When I ran away from home to join the Merchant Navy (there was no way that my father could have paid for my education, college, medical school, going off to UK to learn about the Surgeon I wanted to be), it was quite a tragedy. Abi was really hurt … although he soon discovered that I was a good cadet. Sadly he never lived long enough to see me pass my Second Mate's exams and get a prize for Navigation (from the Commonwealth).

It was the 19th of September, 1963, that Abi died.

His death - at 63 - was a shock to us, despite the fact that he had often been unwell: Heart problems (and small attacks, much as I have had until I had to go in for a quadruple bypass), Diabetes (he'd have his sweets once in a while and add an anti-Diabetic tablet with it … something that I do, too), High Blood Pressure, and an occasional lack of 'balance' as he lost his hearing in one ear and it made him fall at times (I have that now … though I haven't fallen, so far). Despite all these medical problems, Abi died of a Cerebral Haemorrhage when his Blood Pressure was Normal and his heart seemed fine.


It was on January 13th, 1988, that Ummi died.

Ummi lived through most of this widowhood of 25 years in a wonderful way — until she was confined to a wheelchair, having hurt her spine in a fall at the kitchen. She laughed, watched TV, went out to picnics among family and friends. Some of our relatives and Abi's friends visited her and she would begin to, occasionally, laugh with them.

She had always been a great wife and a lovely mother … and what was really important were two of her qualities: (a) she laughed a lot (and loved mad jokes), and (b) read tremendously (in Urdu). Among the numerous things that Ummi taught me was to laugh at everything. Even in a tragedy - after the initial crying - Ummi would laugh and talk about all the good things the person had said. Most important: she taught me not to be worried. That has been a remarkable thing in my life. I get over most things almost the way she did.

It was a pity to see her on an armchair in the last few years as she spoke less and less, laughed rarely, ate very little so that she could die and just prayed to be taken away. It was sad to see her go but I am glad she went.

Ummi liked animals. Specially mainaas and cats. When we brought Lenny home from our ship and decided to leave her with Ummi, she fell totally in love. Lenny was a strange cat. If Nuzhat and I left the house Lenny would come to the gate with us and wait there until we got back. Even if it was two in the night, there'd be Lenny. Waiting. When we left for our trips, Lenny would be in Ummi's room all the time.

She once said to me that I had one of my father's good habits: I loved books … But I also chose a bad one: I smoked. Abi gave his smoking up the day Ummi asked him to. I had started smoking when I was 14 … and now I was 37 years old. I went into the room and brought my large collection of pipes, my Lucky Strike cigarettes, and 2 Cigars that were in the Phillipine Wooden Box that had my name engraved on it, and told her to pass it to whomever she wanted. I would never smoke again. 

And that's true …

Not having a child for years after I was married — (Nuzhat and I married in 1970) — must have hurt Ummi, though she never told us about it. Or asked us to go to doctors. On our own we did go … and all doctors said was that we were OK. But soon we gave up thinking of a child, until a day in Hong Kong when, Muzaffar, a close friend of ours, asked us to adopt a Viet Nam baby. His wife, Gulnafar, was working with an agency that helped people adopt these children. We agreed after their insistence to come over in two days and see.

While both of us would have been happy with a baby, I felt that it wasn't the right thing to do. Nuzhat's had 5 brothers. They'd have babies. Their children would be the Nana/Nani favourites. My adopted child (and I) would never be able to handle this at all. Still, we had promised and the day came. I went to office and told Nuzhat that I'd pick her up as soon as I returned. Nuzhat said she had a headache and went to a doctor. She came back home and phoned me saying the doctor says she is pregnant. I rushed off and went with her again to the doctor. I wanted to see the baby and she said she'd just 'seen' the baby in the womb — but Nuz and I insisted. She showed us the child. Amazing. 14 years of marriage … and now we were going to be parents.

Nuzhat and I came back to Karachi. I left her and went off to sea. Thought I'd take leave closer to the birth. One day I got tons of calls from Karachi and they couldn't get through (telephony was really bad!) and when I got a call from the Port Office I was told that I had to rush out from the berth and come to office. Had no idea what was happening.

Soon Anwar, Tahira, their children, arrived. I was told that I had a daughter. I said that's silly. Its only 7 months. But they drove fast and picked up Jehan on the way and took me to Saulat (the head of our company) who had arranged a flight for me to Karachi. I got here and saw Ragni: Fairly blue! It was like having given birth to Krishna.

I was told that Nuzhat had gone with her sister-in-law who wanted to see the doctor. Nuz felt a bit of pain. The doctor checked her out and said she must have an operation right away. Called another doctor who arrived. Doctors told her that the baby had the umbilical cord around her throat and could die if they waited anymore. Her sister-in-law rushed home and brought the family. The blueness of Ragni was because of the lack of breathing well. She became alright after a few months with the blue fading away. (Well, almost!!! - Eh Ragni?)

Nuzhat and I named her Ragni Marea: The Melody of the Sea. Jan Ammu (my father's first cousin and the older brother of Talat Mahmood) came a recited the Azaan in her right ear and, at my insistence, he sang an alaap of Raag Darbari in her left ear :)

In the last four years Ummi saw my daughter … and that thrilled her. She adored Ragni. She didn't even cry when Ragni jumped on the bed and rolled over her aching feet. She spoke constantly with Ragni and that made Ragni improve her Urdu. Ragni started using words that we all laughed at because they were really big words. And she told Ragni numerous stories.

On the 13th January evening Ummi was lying on her bed and Nuzhat, Nihal Bhai (an old family friend who was staying with us), and I were with her. Ragni, now 4 years old, came in and started speaking to Ummi. Ummi held her hand and looked at her grand-daughter. I heard Ragni saying a few minutes later :  "Can't you see me, Amma Jan?" … Nihal Bhai said Ummi was feeling very weak. Nuzhat and I went immediately to get a doctor. Ragni fell asleep on her side by the time we came back.

The doctor arrived and said Ummi had passed away.

We didn't let Ragni come into the room and sent her off to school the next day (14th Jan) while the funeral was being prepared. In the afternoon we told her that Ummi had been take up to the heavens where angels would treat her. She looked at us and said, "Please don't alter her room. I want to see it look like that." (Now, that's her room when she comes back for a holiday from New York.)


(A whole year later, Nuzhat's father - a younger brother of Ummi - passed away on the 14th January 1989 …)

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Monday, January 06, 2014

Happy Birthday, Iqbal …

A very dear friend of mine decided to post this on FB on his birthday today.

Iqbal IsmailIt is sad day, Quaid's Karachi is burning. 'Sindh' is resisting division. Altaf Hussain is scheduled to set Pakistan on fire. I don't know how to react to all this. But let me here point out that this is the legacy of ZAB. He was the first civilian martial-law administrator. We know that in the PNA movement against rigged election, Asghar Khan and Wali and the rest were arrested. He was the one who relied on Martial-law in selected places. He was the one that caved on the Qādiyānī issue, He was the one who adopted extreme Islam and encouraged the Maulvis by adopting their agenda. No drinking... No sex... No nothing. Be good Musalmans. And the Indians we will destroy them. We will eat grass to have an atomic power. So, tell me on what grounds does the 'PPP' talk about democracy? And to cap it all, everything that was a gift from other states went straight to his account and BB inherited the habit and bought 'Surrey Palace' and other properties. On what grounds does the PPP talk about democracy? Democracy is its own revenge says Benazir Bhutto. I reply, If this is your revenge, BB. I am migrating to the 'United States'. Keep your democracy, cheat your people, produce more "Jiyalas" I don't care.

And, as he says, he will move to the USA soon. Pity. I'll miss him when he goes. But I had to respond to his piece above, so I wrote, twice, on his Facebook page under the comments of his message. Both times, for reasons that I do not understand, the comment disappeared … so I thought I'd write a blog - based on my comment - and include all of my points in it.


Dear Iqbal,

Democracy is no one's prerogative in this country. What you have written about Bhutto is true. But let's not forget the BB and NS were removed, twice, because of their own stupidities and corruption. And BB did not storm the court — something the NS did!

A friend of mine said, "BB understands - but won't listen; NS listens - but won't understand." While you have added BB here, there is a large amount of money that NS also took - perhaps not as blatantly as Zardari. But let's not forget that there was money that was transferred out of Pakistan and it was disclosed, with bank account numbers, to Hakim Said. He was going to read out the list at ILM in Lahore. Sadly he is not here to tell us anything. Someone killed him. NS thought it was the MQM and recalled, on TV, that they had the recorded voice of an MQM man negotiating the killing. Soon he changed his mind … and one of his ministers told me that I (and hundreds of thousands of others) had heard it wrong. NS never said that.

Are they democratic? No. They headed their party under the names of BB's father and NS's godfather (Zia). Elections inside their party? No. Oh … and that letter (that we didn't see) that, eventually, made Zardari our President.

Now we come to your party: the PTI. Let me tell you that I am (was?) a great fan of IK. His Cricket was excellent. The Cancer Hospital was absolutely amazing. I wish he'd stayed at that and been our hero forever.

I have had a couple of meetings with him (although he may not remember them at all). He was late at the meeting at Naeem-ul-Haque's house the first time he came to Karachi. I left when he arrived an hour late. What was the point for a leader to not be there when he was going to show his face for a meeting.


At one point he called a group of several people to LUMS Lahore to discuss the schooling system. There was Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dr Q Isa Daudpota, and about two dozen others who were called. I was also invited.

I went to the meeting at LUMS. Everyone was there. IK wasn't. He called and found everyone was there and came in about 30 minutes late. Again!!!

There he told us that everywhere he went people threw money, women threw the gold ornaments, etc., at him, asking him to 'do something for schools and education'. He had called us all to sort out the best plan to do what he wanted to do.

My question to him at that time was that he'd built a great hospital with the help of doctors  and should now build a school, or a couple of them, to alter things here. Others will soon follow. The governments will also understand and support it. We moved on and at some point - perhaps because of Pervez's suggestions - it was decided that he would 'build three technical schools: Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi'. A gentleman got up and said he was from Baluchistan and was surprised that IK had ignored the province. He stated, when IK asked, that he had come to the meeting with his own money and was very interested in having a school there. So we finally had four institutions to be built.

IK stated that it was important that the school would make everyone a good Muslim. I asked if non-Muslims would not be admitted and IK said they would … but we'd teach them Islam and they will adopt it themselves. That left Isa and me feeling odd, though we stayed for the meeting. Pervez was finally chosen to head these schools. Pervez did start the beginnings of this project but left within months, just as we thought he would. I am not sure how far it went …

My next meeting was at Khurshid Kasuri's house at a small party. I discussed matters with IK and his view was that I didn't "really understand Islam". He'd been there. Done that. He really understood our problems and was going to change all of that.

Years later, IK /PTI (no democracy there, either!) are now in power at KPK. He and NS want to 'negotiate' with the Taliban. Which group from the Taliban's 50 sects, I don't know. But negotiate they will. In fact NS has already asked Mulla Sami Sandwich to lead the team on Pakistan's side to start with this lovely Islamic and Nationalistic project.

Sami Sahab says that the earlier Taliban's were trained by him. Their early leaders were taught by his team. And he fully subscribes to their views. Fine. Let's look at their views then:Taliban will begin the negotiation talks when Pakistan meets the following conditions:1. All our Army will have to be removed from 'their areas'.2. Sharea - as practiced by them - will be made  the Law in our country.3. All prisoners, regardless of which country they are from, who have been caught for being Taliban supporters, will have to be released.4. Khilaafat will become the mode of operations here. Until then they do not accept our Constitution.5. Since Islam does not recognise political boundaries we will have to accept that the Durand Line is no longer the border between us and Afghanistan.

We can't do very much about their 'demands' since they are no longer Pakistanis under these requests, but if Sami agrees with all this, he should be in jail - tried for treason. How can he represent Pakistan and talk to his brothers from our side?

IK hasn't given us as crazy reasons so far because he has to take both feet out of his mouth to speak. But he wants to negotiate. That's for sure.

The word Negotiate in the dictionary says this: • [no obj. ] try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others: his government's willingness to negotiate.• [ with obj. ] obtain or bring about by negotiating: he negotiated a new contract with the sellers.

Compromise is what the Taliban means. So, once, NS/Sami/IK start the discussion and end it by giving the Taliban all they want (Taliban cannot give up their 'claims' since Allah has ordained these things, according to them) we'll have a Taliban Government, I guess, which will disregard Pakistan as a Nation-State. That sure sounds good. Right?

Can you imagine …

• Women won't learn anything. That's forbidden in their Sharea. How will the women find a Gyno is difficult since there will only be men practicing. Ayatullah Khomeini's idea will have to be turned around: Men can practice or surgery on women if they look into a mirror and do it. (Have you ever tried to put a thread into a needle while looking at the mirror?)

• Shias will, of course, all be killed (which will lead to an encounter with Iran, for starters … but, then, who cares if the fighters have Angels on their side). So will Ahmadis  be killed, as will Aga Khanis, Bohris, and other sects … like Barelvis. (Shit! No qavvaalis, either.)

• Christians (and the two Jews we may have here) have to accept Islam or pay the Jizyah. Or be killed. At least that's what Dr Israr stated on TV once. He said the Ahlé Kitaab have been given this option … otherwise we will fight with them 'on behalf of Allah'.

• Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, and Budhists will have to leave for some other country, I suppose … since they are not Ahlé Kitaab. Or they can be converted. Or killed.

Soon this will open the door for Afpak to start their negotiations with India about Kashmir. Slowly, in the fullness of time, the world will become Talibanized. Anjem Choudari for the Khalifa?

My question is how do Leaders, who were voted into power under our Constitution, give up their country - to damned foreigners, insane people, and their chamchaas - without even asking the people who gave them this tremendous power? Has almost everyone gone mad?
If there's anyone who can talk to IK, Iqbal, you can! Try. Get him to listen and understand.

Love … and a very happy birthday

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