Saturday, February 6, 2016

The early signs of Spring

The announcement by the met department that there would be no rains in February this year in and around Islamabad, the sun has started to get warmer with daytime temperatures rising to 20 degrees celsius.
Gazania - the African Daisy blooming

This unusual and early warmth has brought good tidings to the flower lovers as the flowers have started to surface from the spring plantation undertaken in the month of November.

While walking around our spring plantations, I could see colourful pansy, gazania flowers surfacing with roses showing their spring excitement too.

While generally the beds remain without flowers, some plants are striving to feel the warmth in the sun, though it is still February cold. 
Here is a daffodills giving flowers and hopefully soon the entire bed will blossom.

I will soon write a full post on our spring plantation, hopefully in March someday, to show the entire lot of plants and seedlings blooming in their multicoloured showcase.

Photo Attribution: All photos have been taken me
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

A public service and safety precaution message

Using mobile phone while driving has become a norm than exception. Many a young people and old alike are seen fiddling with their cell phone keypads while driving despite cautions and heavy fines if caught. This dangerous habit has resulted in many serious and fatal accidents and still continue all over the world.

While one may save oneself from an accident, but it may become fatal for the others. 

I came across a similar near fatality case while watching this public service and safety message and thought of sharing with my viewers to take a lesson from it.

The case shown in the video is if due to carelessness of the other or even if your own, you happen to hit a powerline pole and the electric wires fall on your vehicle, you have to be very careful while abandoning the vehicle for any laxity on your part can be very fatal as it can energise the electric field and cause severe electric shock.

Watch this video below and share with others as a public safety and service measure. This may save someone's life if encountered a similar incident - or may be yours!!

Please watch carefully and remember in case of emergency
Posted by MrKuwait on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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Monday, January 18, 2016

The Glass Bridge that would take your breath away

Do you suffer from Acrophobia? Well if you do not know what Acrophobia is, you may still be suffering from it. Acrophobia is an extreme or irrational fear or phobia of heights, especially when one is not particularly high up. So whether you know it or not, many people in the world do suffer from looking down from heights and have their legs trampling when looking down from a tall building or Eiffel Tower.

OK suppose, we take it that you do not suffer from  Acrophobia - but here is your acid test. Walk over this hanging glass bridge in China and you would know. Many people are simply resistant to walk over this glass bridge over a 590 feet crevice. At 948 feet, it is the longest bridge of its kind anywhere else in the world.

As they say, it is a Brave Man's bridge as people can barely make it across without freaking out. The glass is one inch thick and there is nothing below it - so if it cracks, God forbids, you are on your own to .......

Watch the video below, I came across on Facebook, and decide whether you would take a stroll over it to know if you suffer from Acrophobia - it will simply take your breath away!

Would you walk across this bridge???
Posted by DJ Reminise on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Here come the solo passenger drones for you

The dreaded word drones have plagued the world for long as the military drones armed with missiles have been targeting terrorists but often killing the wrong ones and killing civilians, children and women instead.

But here comes another dimension to these machines: Now you can fly a drone all by yourself and go up to heights of 11,000 feet - a height that an ordinary cessna plane can go to.

When this happens and these passenger drones are available in the market, life will be much more busy and easy at the same time. Busy for the reason that almost everyone loves to fly but due to heavy cost of an airplane, one is kept at bay. But these low cost drone will let those with a little extra to afford one and make their lives enjoyable and easy - and fun loving too.

Watch the video below I came across on Facebook and see how these drones would revolutionise the fun of flying and life:

Passenger Drones and High-Tech Gizmos
Passenger drones, aromatic alarm clocks, throwable panoramic cameras and other gizmos from the Consumer Electronics Show.
Posted by AJ+ on Friday, January 8, 2016

Can you beat this simple technology? Are you already thinking of buying and flying one?

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Top Ten Smallest Countries of the World

When we were kids, one of the most asked question was: Which is the smallest country of the world? And the answer was unanimous: Vatican City. Well, Vatican City continues to be the smallest country of the world with an area of just.44 square kilometres, perched in the Italian capital city of Rome.

Leaving aside Vatican City, which is a symbolic sovereign country, you will amazed to find nine other beautiful countries that despite being very small  in mass are considered most thriving economies of the world and favourite tourist destinations.

The video below is a run down of these top ten smallest countries of the world and one is amazed to see the sate of their development and economy, which makes some of these as the preferred tourist destinations of many.

Watch the video below:

10 Smallest Countries In The World
10 Smallest Countries In The World
Posted by Wonderful Engineering on Sunday, November 22, 2015

Which country fascinated you? Have you ever visited one of these? Well I skirted Liechtenstein in October 2014 on my way to Lichtensteig, near Zurich Switzerland. I wish I had time to have passed through it.

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year Celebrations at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Germany

We have seen the new year celebrations the world over since the dawn of 2016 on night 31 December 2015 and 1 january 2016. Some of the fireworks were really spectacular and awe inspiring. One could not resist the aesthetics of those who designed the fireworks to welcome the new year - 2016.

Like all countries, Germany too celebrated the new year in almost all its major cities - Berlin being one of these. The venue for the new year celebrations was the famous Brandenburg Gate - the 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch and one of the well known landmarks of Berlin. 

My son, seen in photo above (a screen shot from the video) who is studying in Kiel, Germany also took a double decker bus to Berlin on the morning of 31 December and was there at Brandenburg Gate to enjoy the show.

Words  alone cannot express the fiesta and the fireworks when the new year 2016 dawned. My son made a short video to save the event for us to see. 

Watch the video below and see the enthusiasm of the crowd which stood there for hours, some even as long as six hours to watch the new year to dawn amid a massive display of fireworks:

Stood there non-stop...for more than "6" hours just for this moment! Happy new year everybody! :)
Posted by Wahaab Jalal Bhatti on Friday, January 1, 2016

So that is it - Happy New Year 2016 to all of you. May this new year brings peace and hope for the future. Ameen

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Khunjrab to Islamabad: A spectacular journey from top of the world on bicycle

Karakoram Highway is one of the unique highways in the world for it connects Pakistan's capital Islamabad to China at Khunjrab - the highest place in the world connected by a metalled road. 

Part of the old fairy tale Silk Route, which had long vanished,  Pakistan and China agreed to construct the Karakoram Highway, commonly called the KKH, in 1966. The area had never been visited by machines and automobile and it was the first time that people of region came to know about automation.  One of the workers narrates an interesting anecdote about the remoteness of the area: 
When after lot of difficulties, a Pakistan Army jeep managed to reach a so far inaccessible village, a villager ran and brought a vase full of water and placed under the front of the jeep. When asked what he was doing, the villager innocently replied, "Sahib, your animal must be thirsty."
The 1300 kilometres (800 miles) long KKH, or the N-35, originates from Hassan Abdal, a place some 45 kilometres from Islamabad on the Islamabad - Peshawar Highway, goes through Abbotabad, Manshera, crosses the River Indus at Thakot, on to Gilgit (through Besham, Pattan and Sazin) and then to Chilas, Hunza and Sost before crossing the Khunjerab Pass at the height of some 4800 metres (15,750ft) - the Zero Point between Pakistan and China.

It is a marvel of human endurance, ingenuity and determination. Both Pakistani and Chinese workers and engineers worked day and night over some of the most formidable and inaccessible mountain ranges of the world, with deep gorges and torrential Indus running along the track with its full might. 

The Indus River flows northwest, dividing the Himalaya from the Karakoram. The KKH runs along the Indus for 310 kilometres of its climb north, winding around the foot of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world.  Not far north of Jaglot the Gilgit river joins the Indus from the west. The highway then leaves the Indus for Gilgit, Hunza and Khunjrab rivers to take on the Karakoram Range - where 12 of the 30 highest mountains in the world overlook the KKH. 

At Khunjrab Pass, the KKH proudly stands as the highest metalled border crossing in the world. En route to Khunjrab, before Gilgit, there is a road sign inviting the attention of the tourists to stop and see the the Hindu Kush mountains converge with the Karakoram Range, a part of the Himalayan mountain system (see the board above). 

The Karakoram (the 'crumbling rock' in Turkish language) Highway is an incredible feat of engineering and an enduring monuments to the 810 Pakistanis and 82 Chinese who died forcing it through  the world's most difficult and unstable terrain, making it possible to surface on earth the Eighth Wonder of the World.  Karakoram Highway has a strategic importance that overarches the whole region. It forms the Asian 'high road' loop that binds Pakistan and China and can also serve as a link between China and the Central Asian states. In 2003, the Silver Jubilee celebrations (1978-2003) of the construction of the road were held both in Pakistan and China.

Huawei Mobile Pakistan has recently covered and sponsored a solo bicycle adventure by on Moin Khan from the freezing cold Khunjrab at the Zero Pint of Pakistan-China border to Islamabad. This post covers the spectacular bicycle adventure that covers journey from The Pak-China border to Battagram on KKH.

The video below shows part of the journey through the border custom post Sost, Bay Bar, the famous Passu Cones, the Attabad Lake, Hunza and finally ends at Battagram. 

A massive landslide on 4 January 2010 blocked the Hunza River at Attabad, 9 miles (14 km) upstream (east) of Karimabad Hunza, and made a huge lake called Attabad Lake (above) or the Gojal Lake, for the lake lies in the Gojal Valley of northern Pakistan. The lake flooding has displaced 6,000 people from upstream villages, and inundated over 12 miles (19 km) of the Karakoram Highway - thus cutting the Pakistan-China road link. Although, ferry services promptly came in transporting people and goods across the lake, it badly hampered Pakistan-China trade.

With Chinese help, the part of the submerged KKH was realigned and 24 new road with five tunnels, totalling seven kilometres, was constructed and inaugurated on 14 September 2015. The realignment restored the road link between Pakistan and China and it is expected that significant amount of trade will be conducted between China and Pakistan through KKH. KKH is also a part of Pakistan China Economic Corridor, and is expected to significantly increase economic integration between China and Pakistan. 

Watch the video below:

Related References:
The karakoram Highway (Pakistanpaedia)
Making of the KKH
Attabad Lake (Wikipedia)

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ticket to Ride - in the bus lane in Italy!!

The caption of this post should have read: Ticket to drive in the bus lane. But I kept it unaltered for it is the title of the once famous Beatles song: Ticket to ride!! For ticket here is not the bus ticket, but the traffic violation ticket by the police.

I have in one of my earlier posts 'Caught on camera' talked of my traffic violation in Germany, for which I was fined € 20. And that was almost a year ago when I visited Germany in 2014. 

But just today, almost fourteen months after my visit to Germany and some of the Schengen countries including Italy, the travelogue of which I was about to share, I received news from the company from which I had hired a BMW to travel to Switzerland and Italy that I have been fined € 20 - wow, yet again.

Previously my 'crime' was travelling at 60 kmph while the speed limit was 50 - and this time my violation reported is: Driving in the bus lane despite the display of cautionary sign at the start of the the bus lane. So this is yet another 'ticket' to ride - this time from Italy. And the interesting part is that I did the violation on 7th October 2014 in Milan - Italy, but the ticket has arrived me through the car company I hired dated 15 December 2015.

 Violation in circle: Driving in the bus lane

Thus, this goes without saying that if you happen to be travelling in Europe and driving, be mindful of all traffic signs and parking instructions as no one is spared over there even if the violation is of a very minor nature. One of the many hazards that one faces is the language - almost all signs and warnings are in local language and one cannot decipher these unless caught and translates the ticket into English. So be mindful of the rules before driving in European countries.

We in Pakistan ride for free and make many violations and get away with it. And even if we are caught, I have seen people fighting and arguing with the traffic wardens and trying to justify our violation. No one dares arguing with a police officer in other parts of the world for you can be booked by the officer fro obstructing the law.

Now just for the lighter part, listen to the song by the same name as of the title of my post sung by The Beatles in the 60s: Ticket to Ride!!

Next time if I visit Germany and other countries and travel by a hired car, I think I will take a snail with me and drive after him so that the snail imposes a caution on me and doesn't let me overspeed.

Photo: The Telegraph

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You've gotta friend

There are certain songs that never age even after decades and one of such song is You've gotta friend by James Taylor. I heard this freshly released light rock song in the early 70s and has since resided in my memory till day along with its complete lyrics that I never forgot - even a  single line.

Just yesterday, I was just listening to this song again from my nostalgic collection and like always I drifted into my early teens - despite the fact that the ear was that of the hard rock, but this softly sung song fascinated me and moved the music loving chords inside me. Not only the song is sung beautifully by James Taylor, its lyrics are equally rich in substance, moving one's emotions. Before I share the video below, please go over the lyrics once, and then listen to the song as it does not have a moving video - in those days many songs were like this. 

When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I'll be there, yeah, yeah,
you've got a friend.

If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I'll be there.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend? People can be so cold.
They'll hurt you and desert you. Well, they'll take your soul if you let them,
oh yeah, but don't you let them.

You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call, Lord, I'll be there, yeah, yeah,
you've got a friend. You've got a friend.
Ain't it good to know you've got a friend. Ain't it good to know you've got a friend.
Oh, yeah, yeah, you've got a friend.

James Taylor is a  singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Now listen to the original song, sung by James Taylor in 1971s:

And like me, James Taylor has also aged with time - but his song remains as popular and heart moving and warming today as it was decades ago. Here is the 2009 version of the song sung by James Taylor. Watch some of the audience in their 40s and 50s enjoying the song - enjoying the nostalgia of the bygone days and youth:

Photo Friendship courtesy Friendship Day Wishes and Quotes
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The bleeding wounds of Peshawar school massacre

While I am writing this post, it was about time a year ago on 16 December 2014 when mothers were bidding farewell to their school going children all over Pakistan including Peshawar - oblivious of the bitter reality that was to take place a few hours from thence. 

And the bitter and heart lamenting tragedy occurred around 11 AM in the Army run Army Public School Peshawar, where nine terrorists barged into the school and killed almost 144 students at point blank ranges - most were killed instantly, while a few succumbed to their wounds when they were later evacuated to hospitals. 

Pakistan Army units responded with great speed and arrived at the school and bravely encountered the terrorists killing three while six blew themselves up wearing the suicide jackets - but by then the damage had been done. The school's auditorium was already bathed in blood of countless children whose lifeless bodies were lying all over. Innocent children of varying ages were gone forever in perhaps the most horrific and bloodiest terrorist attack by the subjects of a Taliban terrorists group.

Despite the bloody carnage, there were tales of bravery, selflessness and courage. The school principal chose to stay right inside the school and confronted the terrorists face to face and died while protecting her children. 

Faces of Courage and bravery
Beenis - Tahira Qazi (school principal) - Sofia - Mrs Tariq

Many teachers died while shielding their students while many children fell over the fellow students in order to save them and facing the bullets and perishing. Tahira Qazi - the APS principal (above second from left) who refused to leave the school till last of her students were evacuated. She rescued two children. When the troops arrived they told her to leave - but she refused, saying I will go with the last child. Hours after the attack, Tahira’s body was found in the bushes outside the school. She had a bullet wound to the front of her head, and an explosion may have tossed her into the bushes.

Beenish (left above) was shot while administering first aid to the wounded. Sofia (second from right above) was in the auditorium when the carnage started - but she stayed and pulling many injured and sending them to safety when she was spotted by terrorists and shot. Mrs Tariq (right), even having left the hall returned to look for survivors, was brutally torched by the terrorists as they were infuriated by her efforts to save her students.  Teacher Abu Bakar was shot three times when he threw himself in front of four students fleeing the gunmen. Three of them survived.
Uzair Ali (above) of eight class saw the attackers and leapt to shield his friends by lying on top of them. He was killed; shot 13 times, but he managed to save his companions. Fourteen-year-old Fahad Hussain opened a door so his friends could run out. He stayed by the door making sure everyone was evacuated. He was gunned down while doing so.
Khaula perished on her very first day in school - taking away her dreams to heavens

Then there was six-year-old Khaula who had happily gone to the school for the first day - probably aspiring to be a doctor or engineer. But all her dreams died with her as she was sprayed with bullets mercilessly.
Waleed - received eight bullets and survived

Most of the victims received bullets on their heads or jaws fired from point blank ranges. While many succumbed to the massacre, there were few who were lucky to be evacuated in time. Waleed (above) is one such survivor who received eight bullets on his mouth and body - and luckily survived. He has recovered and goes back to the same school - instead of running away and hiding in some foreign lands.

There were and are many tales of sorrow and sadness besides bravery and dedication, love for comrades and students. I remember having read an account of a 8th class student who said: I will go to my class ALONE as all my classmates have been martyred.

Watch the following video with eye witnesses account of the tragedy and victims (Beware of GRAPHIC CONTENT):

Peshawar School Massacre
Peshawar School Massacre !!!
Posted by Zayer Hassan Films on Monday, December 7, 2015

The merciless Taliban leader Fazlullah later claimed the responsibility and boastfully announced their achievement of killing the children of the army men - the same army that is hurting their nefarious designs and not allowing them to carry out their heinous agenda of spreading terror in the country.

Of all the countries in the world lamenting of terrorism, Pakistan is the worst hit. The number of people perished is to the tune of 60,000 plus while a large number of officers and men of Pakistan Army have laid down their lives fighting the terrorists. It is a shame for all those countries who are supporting the terrorists by providing them money and weapons to keep the world at war. The UN and all world forums have failed to address the issue while the funding to terrorists continues who are playing with world peace and lives of innocent people and children like that of APS Peshawar, Palestine and Syria.

While Pakistan continues to show the resolve to stand up and face the terrorists and its army continues to wipe out their safe havens, the bleeding wounds of Peshawar tragedy will take years and generations to heal.

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