Some songs never get old. It is a natural trait of humans that when one likes a particular song one likes to listen to it repeatedly. Music has power to change the mood of human in just a minute and it is considered as the natural and spiritual peace provider tools.
‘Tum Ek Gorakh Dhanda Ho’ is a beautiful qawwali by legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and is a personal favourite of mine. Hardly a day goes by when I do not listen to it. It has a very soulful melody and rhythm to it. It is still number one in my Ipod’s music play list, followed by ‘Desert Rose’ by Sting and Cheb Mami.
Qawwali is the devotional music of the Sufis and mystics which is very famous in sub-continent, Pakistan and India in particular. The term includes both the medium and its performance, and has been a dominant feature of Islamic culture since the 12th century.
It was the energetic recordings and concerts of the late, great artist, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997) which first introduced Qawwali music to Western audiences. His singing effortlessly transcended language and cultural barriers, and his spirit reached and moved people all over the world. Today, Qawwali is seen as one of the world’s most passionate and vibrant forms of music.
I am working on a blog ‘ The Soulful Journey of Qawwali’ in which I shall explain the history of ‘Qawwali’ genre of music. I shall post the blog soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this soulful qawwali:
Where do you produce your best writing — at your desk, on your phone, at a noisy café? Tell us how the environment affects your creativity. – Daily Prompt by The Daily Post
Every writer needs a place to write, whether it’s one’s desk, a coffee shop, a library or a park bench. The key thing is, it has to be a place where one feels comfortable, can easily carry out the thought process and enter what you can call a ‘writing zone’. Places to write, therefore, are as varied as writers.
You will normally observe that we get stuck at the time of writing when we are not at a place where we are comfortable. The thought process just does not move in a flow and turns out to be an extremely unproductive activity.
I have peculiar habits when it comes to reading and writing. As far as reading is concerned, I cannot read or study in seclusion. I need some activity in my surroundings. I normally have best reading sessions when I am watching TV, walking, sitting at a park bench or living room. I still remember I used to turn on music when I used to study and prepare for exams in my school and college days, particularly while studying mathematics. And I did pretty well in my exams 🙂.
However, when it comes to writing its a complete contrast. I like to be alone in my room, sitting on a sofa near my book shelf. It’s the place where I unlock my power of words. I cannot concentrate if there is any distraction around me. Whether its related to work or personal writing/blogging, my thought process and flow of ideas stops completely if I am not alone and not concentrating.
So there is no right or wrong place when it comes to writing. It’s important that you enjoy the process and write at a place where you feel most comfortable.
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Here are some of my blogs which I consider to be my best. These all were written in my room in solitude.
The Brazilian Carnival is one of the world’s most colourful and exhilarating events – Outdoor parties, colourful performers, magnificent floats, talented musicians. It truly is a fine exhibition of the Brazilian culture.
The World Cup matches have been exhilarating, exciting and delivered up to everyone’s expectations so far. PHOTO: AFP [Express Tribune Blogs]
The world was expecting a similarly elating event when the 2014 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony kicked off on June 12, 2014, at Arena Corinthians Stadium in Sao Paulo. Unfortunately, it turned out to be perhaps the worst World Cup opening ceremonies ever. The organisers of the event failed to understand that Brazil is more than just talented football players and colourful costumes. It has a rich culture and tradition, most of which was left out in the event, causing thousands of spectators to feel utterly disappointed.
However, this disappointment was short-lived; football was able to instil its magic once more, as soon as the first match between Brazil and Croatia kicked off. The opening goal of the World Cup was remarkable in itself as it was the first own-goal scored by a Brazilian in the history of the tournament. Then, we witnessed some sizzling football from Brazil. Neymar, the magician, was the star of the show as Brazil secured a hard fought 3-1 victory over Croatia.
There has been no stopping since the first match. We have been treated to some really exciting and thrilling football so far in the World Cup. There have hardly been any dull or boring matches. It has been a fiesta of goals as the games have gone with an average of three goals per game.
Before the start of the knockout stages of the tournament, let’s have a look into the highs and lows of the group stage matches.
The worst team
It has to be Spain, without a doubt. The world expected another exhibition of the dominant and silken football play, Tiki-Taka, from the reigning European and World Champions but they were simply abysmal in Brazil. Spain could not recover from the after effects of the Dutch onslaught in their first match and were eliminated after their loss to Chile in second match. The Spanish team consisted of almost the same players who led them to the World Cup win in 2010, and that was perhaps the sole reason for their disappointing performance.
Spain’s goalkeeper Iker Casillas reacts after a goal by Netherlands during their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match. PHOTO: Reuters [Express Tribune Blogs]
Perhaps they forgot that those players have grown old by four more years and lacked the magic and skills they possessed in the previous World Cup. If Spain had used the same players, who played in final group match of the team, from the very beginning, perhaps the results would have been different.
The worst player
The first name that came to my mind was Diego Costa, but an overall flop Spanish team covers that. The second name would be of the current holder of Ballon d’Or, Cristiano Ronaldo, who failed to live up to the expectations in this World Cup. He has not been able to create an impact, which the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar have been able to create for Argentina and Brazil respectively. He virtually remained anonymous in the first two games and, being the captain, failed to put any sparkle in the Portuguese team. He probably had more haircuts than he scored goals during this World Cup so far.
Perhaps his light injury had a role in it; nevertheless, it has been a miserable outing for Ronaldo.
The worst moment
This was not difficult to select, as it can only be one – Luis Suarez and his bite. The guy is a prolific striker and there is no denial about his goal scoring abilities. But there is one other thing he does on the pitch besides scoring goals, and that’s biting his fellow players. Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini is the latest victim on his biting list, after FC PSV’s Otman Bakkal and Chelsea’s Branislov Ivanovic.
Luis Suarez (L) and Giorgio Chiellini (R) react after the two collided, and Suarez appeared to bite Chiellini. PHOTO: Reuters [Express Tribune Blogs]
It was absolutely disgraceful, not only for football but for sports in general.
The best goal
The Spanish team was just starting to come in its element after scoring a penalty in the 27th minute through Xabi Alonso. It looked like the Netherlands were in for the same fate as they had in the World Cup finale of 2010. However, during the first half, in the 44th minute, a bird, an aeroplane, Superman or a five star footballer, say whatever you like, emerged in the form of an airborne Robin Van Persie. Daley Blind played a long ball over the top of the Spanish defenders and Van Persie launched like a human projectile to head in the goal. It has to be one of the best goals of the history of the World Cup ever!
Robin van Persie of the Netherlands heads to score against Spain during their 2014 World Cup Group B soccer match. PHOTO: Reuters [Express Tribune Blogs]
The best player
This man is carrying the hopes of an entire nation single-handedly on his shoulders and he is one of the most gifted players on the planet. His name is Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. Neymar has been the lone warrior of the Brazilian team so far, especially as many of the other Brazilian players have faltered consistently throughout the tournament. Although Messi and Robben have exhibited some startling game-play, Neymar has just been outstanding – with four goals, a shooting accuracy of 89% and a passing accuracy of 82% in three matches.
Brazil’s forward Neymar celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Group A football match between Brazil and Croatia. PHOTO: AFP [Express Tribune Blogs]
The best celebration
After earning four points from its first two group games, Mexico needed a draw or a win against Croatia to make it to the knockout stages. Mexico booked their place to the next phase with a comprehensive 3-1 victory. Goals scored by Mexicans were exciting, yes, but they were no match to the post-goal celebrations of their manager Miguel Herrera. He tackled defender Paul Aguilar to the ground in celebration and then motioned goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa to jump into his arms in a fit of joy.
Miguel Herrera celebrates after Mexico wins a match. PHOTO: AFP [Express Tribune Blogs]
The dark horse
Can Belgium win the World Cup? Ask anyone and this question will be dismissed with a vehement “no”. Belgium has no history or culture of success at the World Cup or any other major international tournament. The furthest they have ever reached at the FIFA World Cup is in the semi-finals in 1986. But this time around, they could very well surprise all of us.
Belgium football team. PHOTO: AFP [Express Tribune Blogs]
They currently have, what you can call, a golden generation of players: Nacer Chadli, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lakaku, Vincent Kompany, Marouane Fellaini and Adnan Janujaz. They may not have faced bigger teams in the group stages so far but they have the capability to challenge any strong team that comes there way and hence, they are the real dark horses of this tournament.
Brazil and Argentina have the South American home advantages, Germany is the most well-balanced team, France has a very talented pool of players but no team has as dangerous an attacking line up as that of the Netherlands. It has been an exhibition of magical football by the three forwards, Wesley Sneijder, Van Persie and Arjen Robben, so far in this tournament. Van Perise has been on target and Robben has dazzled the opposition with his super pace. The midfield and defending line up has been up to the mark in their support to the three forwards.
The Netherlands football team. PHOTO: Reuters [Express Tribune Blogs]
For me, Netherlands are the predictable winners of this World Cup.
The World Cup matches have been exhilarating, exciting and have lived up to everyone’s expectations so far. I can’t wait to watch the knockout rounds and see who else scores an amazing goal, celebrates a prolific victory or falls prey to a biting injury.
Soft drinks, electronics, nutrient-free snacks — you can get all of those from a vending machine. But what type of vending machine is sorely needed but doesn’t exist? Share your automated retail fantasies with us! – Daily Prompt by The Daily Post
No one in this world is self-reliant. One who thinks he can do everything by himself without any help or advice is living in a fool’s paradise. But what are the dilemmas one face when asking for a piece of advice or help from someone? Here are few of them:
Pride and Ego
We all need a healthy ego to provide the fuel and kick to our life. Nothing wrong with this. But, the trick is you have to manage your ego and not let it manage you.Your pride and your ego are the first thing that get in the way. No one wants to admit that they have a problem. No one wants to admit that they need help or advice.
Often people feel shame in asking for help or advice. Shame, the most toxic feelings of all which stops us to connect with people. What will one think of me? It’s the first question that comes to mind when we try to seek advice or help from some one. It is one of the most common problems at work place.
Expressing your feelings
The next hurdle when asking for advice is to express your problem to others. You have loads of thoughts in your mind and you just want to say it loud and free yourself. But how to communicate? How to let it out? People struggle to express themselves when facing some one.
People will judge
When someone goes to anyone for help or advice, odds are they already feel pretty vulnerable. They are trusting someone to hear them out without being judgemental or condescending. That’s the biggest fear… others will judge when one asks for advice.
A Vending Machine of Advice
So here is my idea and solution to above problems. Idea of creating a vending machine of advice. You go, simply put in your money in the machine to listen to your thoughts, feelings, anxieties, problems and then offer you a piece of advice on it. A vending machine that will listen to you without judging. A place where you will not feel any shame. A moment when your ego will not be hurt.
How special would it be to have the comfort of advice for your greatest problems at the insertion of a few coins?
“When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.” – Saul Bellow
Tie-down Roping or Calf Roping is a timed rodeo event, particularly famous with American cowboys, which features a calf and a rider mounted on a horse. The goal of this sport is for the rider to lasso the calf, dismount from the horse, run to the calf, and control it by tying three legs together. All of these activities have to be executed in as short a time as possible.
Now let’s apply this analogy of Calf Roping to current scenario in political arena of Pakistan. The incumbent government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) is a show-off rider galloping the horse and swinging the rope. Geo-ISI-ARY fiasco, civil-military relations over operation in North Waziristan, protests of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and revolutionary mission of Dr Tahirul Qadri, these are the calves lined up in a row to give a tough time to the rider. How does the rider (PMLN) react when calves are released from the chute? He misses the aim, lassos his own horse and falls down.
It has been a scorching summer so far in Pakistan and political situation in the country looks more sweltering with each new development. Last week the Pakistan Army launched an eagerly awaited military offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. So far nearly 300 militants have been killed, hundreds captured and their safe havens and explosives depots taken out as part of the on-going operation – as per the military sources. The operation involving airstrikes, tanks and heavy artillery has forced the exodus of more than 350,000 people, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) out of the affected areas.
In my view we are standing at a critical moment of our history, the moment which needs a political ceasefire and unity among all the political parties. We need to support our soldiers at the war frontier and help in relief activities for IDPs in every way possible. But Zarb e Azb has fallen to backdrop, thanks to clash of lunatics: ‘Self-proclaimed revolutionary messiah’, Dr Qadri and government of PMLN.
This is not the first time Dr Qadri has entered the arena with a revolutionary agenda. In January 2013, he held Islamabad hostage for several days while making a series of demands that had to be met within a span of just fifteen minutes by the government ‘or else’. It was a four-day-long rodeo event. We witnessed the supporters and workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) camping at D-Chowk through cold temperatures, rain and hunger. But in the course of just few hours, Dr Qadri had developed a resuscitated endearment for all stakeholders of political set-up, including those whom he had banished as robbers. He demanded arrest of the sitting prime minister of that time, however, on forth day thanked and signed the Islamabad Long March Declaration with the same person.
The previous coalition government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakistan Muslim League Qauide-e-Azam (PMLQ) acted as a maestro rider. They skilfully swung the rope, tightened it across the neck of the calf, restrained it and peacefully took it out of the arena. Situation has been completely opposite over the past few days. The calf named Dr Qadri has been riding over the nerves of PMLN.
This saga of Dr Qadri could have been written differently and sensibly. The model town fiasco and aeroplane drama could have been averted easily. Except for the most ingenious, few people would buy the nonsense about the necessity of having to remove the barriers around Dr Qadri’s house. Those barriers were in place for the last four to five years with the sanction of the order of Honourable High Court. Why did the need arise just a few days before Dr Qadri was to arrive in Pakistan and launch his so-called ‘revolution’?
Source: The News
Now comes the day of arrival of Dr Qadri. If the workers of PAT were to be stopped, they could have been blocked a long distance away from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Why did they let them reach airport and then baton charge them? There was absolutely no need to divert the aeroplane from Islamabad to Lahore, where we witnessed an unfathomable drama of Dr Qadri not leaving the plane.
Democracy warranties freedom of expression and freedom of protest regardless of whether you agree with it or not. This ‘Canadian made Business Class’ revolution didn’t last four days in its last outing and it could not have lasted now in this hellish summer. With little sense the government could have averted this debacle. A couple of months back ex-President Asif Ali Zardari called on Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif and assured full support in case of any threats to derail current government. May be PM could have asked the ex-president for some advice how to handle ‘the revolution’.
I wonder who are advising the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Punjab on this issue. The mishandling of the Dr Qadri episode shows bad judgment about the implications. It is shameful that a country, where the most important military operation of its history is underway and where over 350,000 IDPs need help, is focused on an unavoidable circus of Gullu Butt and Dr Qadri.
Immediately after leaving the gym, on Monday of last week, I went to book store to buy a fresh collection of books. Reading books on daily basis is an integral part of my life. Whatever the situation is, there is no better friend than a book. For those who make reading a part of the art of living, calmness of the mind is an automatic outcome and same is the case with me. Sheer pleasure of reading, gaining knowledge and attaining awareness are my reasons for my habit of reading.
After spending an hour in the store I bought following books:
Besides having a profound love for reading, I have great passion for sports. FIFA World Cup 2014 fever is on and I have hardly missed any match so far.
There is never a dull moment in the political circus of Pakistan and last week is no exception to it. Pakistan Army launching operation ‘Zarb e Azb’ against TTP is one of the most critical moment in history of the country. During these developments, from nowhere, a ‘Self-proclaimed revolutionary messiah’ in from of Dr Qadri has emerged on the political scene. The government has exhibited extreme immaturity and completely mishandled the situation. The likes of Gullu Butt and Dr Qadri are in limelight where all of our attention should have been on supporting army and helping Internally Displaced Persons.
Sports and the political mess kept me engaged throughout the week and I was not able to read or start any of the book.
If I could relive the past week, I would like to ensure that the political mess don’t happen again and manage to find some precious hours to start reading the books.
“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy” – Edward P. Morgan