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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Life goes on …

It was 4 years ago today that I was rushed to this bed at the NICD
because of a silent heart attack
(which is what happens — often — to diabetics.)

No pain.
Nothing to show anything has happened.
Just lots of sudden weakness.
Bits of sweating.


 There was panic everywhere.
Some that I saw.
Some that I heard about.

You can read about it here.
Also read Dr. Shamim's comments under that.

There was a quadruple bypass!

I'm glad it's all over … but
 I have been in and out of hospitals for stranger things, since.

The first one was 3 weeks ago when I was put into
ICU at NMC for a bit of a dizzy spell and weakness.

I saw my Surgeon (Cardiologist was on leave)
who was there and he thought it may have to do with my heart.

It wasn't.

However, the medicine the doctors on top gave me
— to take all my life —
was really bad.
I had low BP and weakness fits every day.
Saw two doctors.
One advised me to reduce the tablets.
The second said keep having them.

The Cardiologist returned in 10 days so I saw him.
He threw away those medicines and said
this is what had caused the problem.
 The original was just a random thing that had happened
and the cause could not be traced until it happened again.

Back to some new medicines again!
They worked.

A stranger thing happened a few days after that.
I was listening to my Stereo System.
I felt a slight itch in my left year.
Put my finger there to scratch it and lo …
I found I hear just 'trebles' with my right ear.

Repeated it for two days with ear oil.


The missing 'bass' is heard via the bones and both ears,
but you can't hear the accurate direction
from where it is coming.
So I was hearing it, anyway.

The 'treble' gives the direction.
I heard that perfectly well from both ears.

I tried Headphones!
They, too, give you clear trebles in both ears
and bass seems to come from the centre.

It was only that little itch that
 made me put my finger
into the left ear and discover that the 'bass' was gone!

So I suggest you do that with both ears
to check you are hearing the same thing from them.

Anyway, off I went to see an ENT Specialist.
Did an audiological test.


The doc said I should see a Neuro Physician (NP)
and (possibly) have a Brain Scan done.

The NP agreed to see me on my 73rd Birthday.
He thought I should have a Brain Scan, too,
… just in case it was a 'small' clot
(while he thought it may actually be a 'big clot).


Brain Scan done.
All well. No new clots.
Just traces of an oldish one
probably from my heart attack time.

No problems now except about hearing the bass.
Will require a hearing aid much later.
 That's like a headphone
and you do not miss
the 'bass' at all.
Right now I am doing fine, anyway.


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Baqr Eed

According to the Qur’an, only those Muslims who perform Haj are required to sacrifice animals. If Muslims do this on their own, wherever they are during that period, that's up to them. In the Qur’an there is no direct or indirect indication of a requirement that a non-pilgrim Muslim is required to perform Qurbaani (sacrifice) to celebrate Haj. The Prophet and the early khalipha (caliph) never practiced it.

I heard the mulla at a mosque many years ago, in Iqbal Town (I always used to tell people that it was named after Iqbal Bano!), state openly - in a Baqr Eed prayer gathering - that all Muslims who had performed the Qurbaani must come and be in the front rows while others should be behind them on such an occasion. Hmmm …

بقر (Baqr) means Calf.
It is also the name of Qur'an's Second Sürah.

In Pakistan some of our people can't pronounce Baqr and say Bakr (that sounds like a ک instead of a ق to others). This has led people to think it is Bakr Eed and the original term must have بکر in it. But بکر (Bakr) means a Goat. This has made some members of a new generation begin to call the festival: بکرا عید (Bakra Eed) meaning a Happy Goat's Day (but not for goats, I guess).

I must tell you, though, that one greeting card I received last year from USA had بكرید (Bakrid) written across the front page. Pleeeez: Let's get back to Baqr Eed. Or to Eed-ul-Adhaa, if Arabic is your preferred choice ;)


One of you have asked me on our phone call yesterday about why won't Jews, Christians, and Muslims, celebrate Baqr Eed together …  since they all 'follow' this prophet.

There are simple - but very contradictory - answers.

In Bible's Old Testament, the book of Genesis says that Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) was 64-ish when he married Hajira (Hagar) and 90-ish when he had Hazrat Ishaaq (Isaac). And it categorically states that it was Hazrat Ishaaq who was to be sacrificed by Hazrat Ibrahim.

The Qur'an says Hazrat Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son but makes no mention of Hazrat Ismail (Ishmael). However, almost all translators do add Hazrat Ismail's name in their Tafseer.

It is only in Hadees that Muslims find proof about which son of Hazrat Ibrahim it really was. 

While the majority of Muslims do accept Hadees as a fact … and some even consider the non-acceptance of Hadees as a 'Sin', one must understand that there are are some Muslims who do not accept the Hadees! Not just as an anti-Hadees group, which also exists, but some of my friends and family members (staunch Muslims on their own) who do not accept Hadees at all.

There are other Muslims who will say they accept the Hadees … but if you show them some specific Hadees they will say 'this one is not true', 'it was misunderstood', or 'it was for that time only'.

Those who do not believe in the Ahaadees need to tell us where they get this version of story from, if not from the Hadees. If they have a proof (other than the fact that other Muslims believe this, too), it would be great to know.

Am waiting!


In case you are wondering why I spelt the festival as Baqr Eed and not Baqr Eid, take a look at my earlier post.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Guy Delisle: Graphic Novels you must read!

A package arrived from Lahore via TCS on my birthday. Sent by Maleeha Azeem. It was longish and fat … and I thought the girl must be really mad to send me Sugar-Free Laddoos, Barfees, & Gulab Jamuns from Nirala (and I thought again, for the hundredth time, "Why the fuck have they closed their shop in Karachi?").

I hurried to open it and put the contents into the fridge … and, lo and behold, there were two gifts inside. Worth a lot more than the Sugar-Free stuff.

There was a box of 100 Comic Magazine Covers and a book: "Jerusalem" by Guy Delisle. The cards were a thrill to view quickly and be put aside to view again at leisure. But Delisle! I had to start reading it right away.

The first page had this, of course.

I had liked this French-Canadian cartoonist when I read his "Burma Chronicles", mainly because it went back to a land that I had visited three times in my early shipping days. It has changed an awful lot, since then, though the people still seem to be as aggravated as ever if they are in uniform.

I remembered how, in 1959, I had put my pass down at the main desk to go out, once. A very, very drunken guardsman had pulled out a cocked gun and pointed it a couple of inches from my head because he felt that the paper made a noise while he was sleeping. He was shaking wildly and said my body can be taken back to the ship when he was through, swearing in Burmese.

Trembling, Stanley Fernandes (a Second Engineer who was with me) and I pleaded with him and apologised as profusely as one does when facing death. Fifteen minutes of standing there, with a gun at your head is a terrible experience, let me tell you. Finally the guard agreed, took all the money we had, and let us go out.

Photo by Luigi Novi

Guy Delisle draws simple things wonderfully well!
Take a look at this mess/mass of wires …

… that reminded me of Karachi,
as did the sketch of a plug point inside the house.

So does this:

Right on!

It reminds you of how close to our home Burma is! (It's called Myanmar, now, by many countries except US and a couple of others who do not recognize it's Government and insist on calling it Burma.)

The trip to Burma with his wife who works at Doctors Without Frontiers shows you their life for a few months in that country, introducing you to its people, their customs, their religion, the repression that takes place there, and much more that could remind you of our own military rule.


So getting to read Jerusalem was essential! Once again, I thought how amazing these people are. Away from us, they think very much the same way as we do, give or take a few points.

I am not sure if we can find Mullas who would be anything like the anti-Zionist Jews, apart from the 'seven kids', their 'fashions', and the 'variations' among their personal beliefs that make everyone else a kaafir.

The Arabs, naturally, are even more like us.
Which is why we like them? Don't we?

The buses and the clothes. Wow.

The books takes us into their places that are strictly Jewish, strictly Arab, and includes the mistreatment of the Arabs by the Israelis (which is plenty!), and offers you a run down of the city that is (was?) a home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
The book also suggests, as most Muslims do, that the Second Mosque is in Jerusalem. There was no mosque at the Meraaj (Isra' in the Qur'an) of The Prophet at Jerusalem, of course. It was built much later. The Second Mosque, as you may know, is never named in the Qur'an. It just states that it is the furthest mosque. Also the Qur'an says that the First and Second Mosques will have Peace … something that this Mosque has never really had. The First Mosque is the Kaaba and the Second Mosque is the Masjid Al Nabvi — both known for Peace!!!  This statement is now accepted by a few scholars. You can go to Google or YouTube and find a video from Mohammad Sheikh about this.
The priests there, too, have a sacrifice of animals, and seem to love blood! No wonder there's so much killing of humans in both parts because this must allow them to get over the feelings I and many others have about killing. 

When I was 10 years old a Mulla came to do the sacrifice at our downstair neighbour's house. He gathered all the children and said that the way to do this is to look straight at the animals eyes  … "and that will help you kill kaafirs in a Jihad without fearing." I wonder how many kids are taught this at Madressahs.

The Jerusalem book was superb and I learnt a lot more about the Jews despite having read many of their writings. My paternal side of the family that came from Turkey used to be Jews three generations before they migrated to India with Babar, who brought Kazi Kidvah with him to be the head of his court. I was most amused to find out about the Messianic Jews. (Read the book and you'd be surprised, too.)

Now I am waiting to read "Pyongyang" - a slightly older book by Guy Delisle - and learn more about Korea. 

So, The Last Word, when are you bringing it to T2F.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Kavish and Saher: An evening to remember

My wife said that I did not introduce Kavish or Saher properly. In fact, according to her, I said absolutely nothing at T2F's session with them.

This should have been the intro that I missed that day —



It's been years since I tried to trace Kavish.
I put his name on Facebook.
And on Twitter.
I asked if anyone could direct me to him.

No response.


One day I thought I'd ask Azhar Abbas Hashmi who is married to a close cousin of mine and has a lot to do with Urdu Poetry. He runs the Shahré Karachi Müshaaerah each year.

Azhar said Kavish was alive and I should ask said Yawar Mehdi for his number.
I phoned Yawar Sahab and he said I should get in touch with his daughter, Saher, who is also a poet.
He gave me her cell phone number.


Saher was a quite mischievous child, I recall.
I remember her sitting on a dias with the poets when Kavish had arranged a müshaaerah … with me being the Sadar.

Heh heh!

Only Kavish would have done something like this, especially when there was Asghar (Gorakhpuri) Bhai and many others who would obviously recite in the mahfil.
He decided to do this only because of his memories of Chittagong where my ships always had a müshaaerah.
(Apart from local poets, we'd occasionally have shaaers come from Dacca, too, as some of you may have heard in the CDs that I place occasionally at T2F.)

In East Pakistan one could never have a müshaaerah without Kavish.
He was loved by everyone.
Including the poets!

Pity nobody called him to Karachi in a large müshaaerah.

Kavish is a wonderful man and was a regular visitor at my house in Karachi when he had migrated from East Pakistan much after it became Bangladesh.
He ran small mahfils in the camp in Bangladesh, hoping that it would get people who loved Urdu to come together every now and then.
They worked.

But the trip to Pakistan never really made it for him.

اك موجِ صدا پہ كان دھر كے
ہم گھاٹ كہ رہ گٴے نہ گھر كے
 كاوش عمر

He loved writing and teaching.
That was all he wanted to do.
He tried small jobs … but nothing really serious.

One day, in 1980, he stopped coming to our house.

I asked Nasir Zaidi and Kazim Abdi (Kajju), both from Chittagong, who had migrated to Karachi.
Nasir lived in a house next to me and was a regular part of our group comprising Asghar Bhai, Nasir Jehan, and Kajju. He was part of the many mini-müshaaerahs at my house.
Both said they had no idea why he wasn't coming.
They said they hadn't seen him, either.

Ummi (my mother), until her death, always asked why Kavish had stopped coming.


I phoned up Saher and asked about Kavish.
Told her I had been Kavish's friend of almost half a century.
I got her address and a day that he'd be in her house … and drove up with Nuzhat to meet him.

As always, he was his wonderful self.
Except that he'd had a heart attack.
He felt old and weak, had a much lower voice.
He is just a year older than me and I have had a heart attack, too, but it affected him more badly.

He had no idea why he stopped coming to our house.
He just couldn't remember.
We talked of the old days and I discovered that he had met Nasir several times until Nasir passed away a few years ago.

Hmmm …

Kavish years ago

Kavish was always himself.
Not self-centred. Just himself.
Would never ask anyone for money or help.

So is Saher, it seems to me.
As the head of her generation she has looked after all of them well.
Her husband died and she has brought up her children in wonderful ways.
She works hard.
And she is a great poet.
Her nazms are amazing.
And her ghazals have beautiful ashaar.
Here is one.

عاشقی كؤے ملامت سے گزر جاتی ہے
دنگ رہ جاتے ہیں بہتان لگانے والے
سحر علی

Saher on her book cover


We arranged for Kavish and Saher to come to T2F and we could listen to the father and the daughter recite their poems.

Kavish at T2F

It was a pity to see Kavish reading softly from the papers that he had brought with him.
He used to remember all his poems and recite them from memory.

Saher at T2F

Saher also runs a quarterly magazine called Nazmé Nao


I am sorry if you were there and wondered who they were … and what were they to me. The above are the things I should have said when I was asked to open the program.

Sorry, Nuz.
I was too overwhelmed at seeing and hearing Kavish again!


A CD of that evening will be available soon. In the meanwhile you can buy another CD that has Kavish (from my ship days) and Naseer Turabi (from my home müshaaerahs) at T2F.


Kavish's poems: Sang-o-Saman
Saher's poems: Tümharay Gham Kay Maosam Mayñ
Saher publishes 4 magazines a year: Nazmé Nau

All of these will be available in T2F's bookshop in a few days!

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