This life and these people

Not until today
or tomorrow
had i wondered what life will be like
in heaven
in hell

or anywhere but mountains
and forests
and deserts

this life
these times
are turning grey —– pale-grey

and I see people going
from nuts to being nutshells
or perhaps they’ve always been so

only that I didn’t wonder before…

Inahahs

Winter is coming

Ever since I got to know about Louise Glück because she won this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature, I have been reading her poems. The following poem has been on my mind for the last two weeks, all the more likely because it relates to the nights these days getting cold.

The Silver Lily

The nights have grown cool again, like the nights
of early spring, and quiet again. Will
speech disturb you? We’re
alone now; we have no reason for silence.

Can you see, over the garden—the full moon rises.
I won’t see the next full moon.

In spring, when the moon rose, it meant
time was endless. Snowdrops
opened and closed, the clustered
seeds of the maples fell in pale drifts.
White over white, the moon rose over the birch tree.
And in the crook, where the tree divides,
leaves of the first daffodils, in moonlight
soft greenish-silver.

We have come too far together toward the end now
to fear the end. These nights, I am no longer even certain
I know what the end means. And you, who’ve been with a man—

after the first cries,
doesn’t joy, like fear, make no sound?

Louise Glück

Quarter & a half life later…

Not until I turned 35 or 36 that I felt a push to immigrate to a greener land. By greener I don’t mean more money, I mean a clean, honest and ethically sustainable life. The thought to leave my country had occurred to me earlier, but it was never as pushing and was often shut down by alternate thoughts such as I had a safe and secure job here, my relatives and friends were all here and the fear of the what-ifs (what if I couldn’t get a job; what if I or my family couldn’t adapt to new culture/environment… et cetera). The desire to migrate has been on the rise continuously and I am all set to face the unforeseen challenges. I am not only seeking for permanent residence schemes in CAN (Canada, Australia, New Zealand), but also looking for countries where I can at least have a job and live for the next two decades when my kids will be all grown up to live their lives independently. So even the Mideast and Europe are on the list, more importantly because these regions are nearer to my home compared to CAN.

Not a day goes by without feeling angry and sad about the state of affairs our country is in. I may still be able to live with bad economy, but it is becoming really hard to breathe in a society where morals and ethics are climbing new heights of decay. Every segment of society is crossing levels of dishonesty and cheats. It haunts to see people resell expired medicines by changing dates as well as sell fake medicines in original packing, increase prices during festivals and making artificial shortage of things to push prices upward, sell meat of dead animals, mix chemicals in edibles and being totally careless about keeping streets and city clean. There is increasingly intolerance of others views and mainstreaming hatred is becoming normal. There is a bleak picture on the part of the current government as well. There appears to be a soft martial law in place. The prime minister is acting as a puppet, he has no road map, no plans for the future. His focus has only been to annihilate his political opponents. The country is being run by the establishment policies aimed at controlling voices of dissent. There have been record increase in prices of basic commodities and currency has touched new peaks of depreciation. The law and order is as poor as it has always been. Quality of public health services and public education institutions is still pitiable, the people are afraid to seek protection of police and there is corruption in every government institution. 

I want my kids to grow in a society where:

there is no class system and everyone enjoys self-respect;

they can express themselves freely without fear;

they should shamed if they lie, cheat or fraud not if the tell the truth and stay honest;

they won’t be judged on their color, cast, sect or religion;

they will be able to breathe in cleaner air and realize how cleanliness is half of their faith;

they will have equal opportunities.

Challenges

I know there is no such place as perfect, but comparatively there is justice, respect and more humanity in developed societies. But again, there are a number of challenges as well.

  1. COVID-19: The prospects for getting an opportunity to work abroad would have been much higher had there been no covid episode. The deadly flu has brought the world on its knees and has forced the governments and organizations around the world to change their policies and priorities with respect to survival followed by revival. The future growth has been projected to be negative for the next year at least, the economies are thus going to take some time to get to where they were before March 2020.
  2. Populism in US and Europe: Ever since Trump assuming power as the President of the US, there has not only been a surge in nationalism and racism in the US, but also Europe (which is infamous for being one in past). The right-wing political parties are popping up in every other country at the rate not witnessed before. Both the US and European countries have witnessed a rise in policies aimed at restricting expats and increasing their citizens’ ratio in the overall workforce. This has led to companies to prefer hiring people who are already allowed to work in such locations so as to spare themselves of the lengthy, and perhaps, costly visa process for the new appointees. This seems to be the reason that MNCs have included the question, “Are you allowed to work in the location you apply for?” in their job applications.
  3. Arabization: The oil-rich Gulf countries have been preferred location for South Asians, particularly for two reasons, one money (obviamente), and two distance from home (just 21/2 hr flight). But the gulf region also has been hit hard by not only covid but also falling oil prices. As a result of economic hit, the states have accelerated nationalization, i.e. to maximize local workforce, drive. There have been rise in policies to increase ratio of locals in the government sector to 100%, and even have advised multinational companies to hire more locals than expats. The picture appears to be bleak there too, at least for the next few years.
  4. Canada/Australia/New Zealand: The points based immigration system of these countries is also witnessing rise in applications, however the covid has also affected these countries and they have kind of increased requirements for new applicants. This also appears to be beyond possible.

I haven’t lost hope though, and I may continue my pursuit. It could also be that if my kids would achieve for themselves what I want for them.

🙂

30 Day Challenge to Wakeup at 5AM

January 8, 2018 was the Day 1 of my #30DayChallenge to #WakeUpAt5AM; and is the order of the day, I announced it on #Facebook. The only reason of posting it on FB was to receive friends pressure to continue the challenge, ‘coz I must admit that had I not put it on FB, I more likely had failed in the challenge.

As soon as my friends saw the post, a number of comments and questions came flowing in. The Top 3 questions were:

Why on earth?

Have you gone crazy?

Is it a Blue Whale Challenge?

The answer to the last two questions was a smiley 😀 – which definitely means No, Nah, Not at all!

So, Why?

The decision to take the challenge was neither extempore, like one morning I woke up early and decided to continue doing so, nor a well-early-planned. I grew up in a small village so I have been early riser for a long time. In fact, I had been waking up at 0630 every day before the challenge. The number uno reason was the #change in my daily wakeup routine followed by the fascination of the very idea of waking up at 5.

And what did I do?

0500: The alarm rang, I put it off (No. No Snooze at all) and by the time I rub my eyes, dragged myself out of bed and drank a glass of water 15 minutes were already past. I’d check my mobile phone for 5 minutes, then go for jogging and do a little exercise for 30 minutes. Then I’d relax for 10 minutes and do some meditation (prayer) and read a book for the next 20-25 minutes. And afterward, I’d awaken my wife and my kids to start preparing for the breakfast and school respectively…ensued by myself getting ready for the work.

What did I achieve?

The most important lesson I learnt from successful completion of the challenge was that we can do everything with strong determination and willpower. Once we challenge ourselves to perform any task and we take the first step, then nothing can stop us. All the excuses, fears, procrastinations get washed away with our resolve.

An Open Letter to Gurmehar Kaur from Pakistan

Dear Gurmehar Kaur

I am not sure whether you would even read this letter. But for a few days I have been having a feeling that I should let you know that I am just one adding up to the hundreds of thousands of people who have already stood by you.

 

Yes, war killed your father and the father of some Pakistani child during Kargil episode, but the Pakistani girl might not have gathered enough pluck to say this in the face of a legion of trolls and hate mongers who would have made her and her family’s life unbearable as they have made yours. The war mantra has always been used by our politicians to win some votes and overshadow their bad governance by emotionally charging the masses with the feeling of odium against the rival country. The people never vote to start war with another country but they vote to enjoy basic necessities of life such as education, health, security and freedom of speech. Now it is no longer hidden fact that the moment people start raising their voice against what is wrong with the country, a bullet is shot at the border and people become wrapped in the ultra nationalist frenzy. A faction in our society has taken it upon itself, without anyone’s permission, to define patriotism and they want everyone to have political opinions of a specific tinge.

 

Let me assure you that it is not an attack on you, but an attack on every idea of democracy, high morals, ideals and freedom of speech that India has long boasted about. These are no different times Gurmehar Kaur. Things have always been such difficult for people like you. And the good thing is that there have always been people like you who don’t hold themselves back from saying what is right. Let me admit that things aren’t any different in Pakistan for people like you. Had any girl said what you said she would have faced same amount of bullying and trolling by the self proclaimed patriots who believe it is their prerogative to judge others and issue certificates of treason to whoever don’t agree with their narrative of nationalism.

 

We also have the likes of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad here whose only objective is to terrorize students on the campus and maintain an atmosphere of fear, hatred and bigotry. Members of a student wing of the largest religious political party do not allow unmarried couples to hang around together at a public university in Lahore. But despite all wrongs being committed by these student terror wings no one has ever dared to stand against them, let alone a girl. I have deepest appreciation for your will and determination in the face of so much political and social pressure and your desire for peace despite having lost your father in war. I wish you success in your pursuit of love, peace and happiness.

 

Stay strong. Stay happy


Best regards

Azhar