Tuesday, October 13, 2015

BBQ Tonight

Since Miss Ayesha has started her donkey finding campaign and sealing eatery after eatery for unhygienic conditions, one doesn't really feel like going out and eating - specially the beef or meat stuff.  And perhaps this has become as a good omen for the housewives as their husbands and kids now prefer eating at home rather than going out with 'friends.'

Well this being one of the reasons and my annual ritual of arranging a small BBQ at my home, last night was the night when I had the BBQ tonight right in my home. However, this time, I had only myself, my wife and a son for the party, so we decided to arrange the show on a smaller scale rather than going on the roof top and using the BBQ apparatus.

And for last night, we decided to use our long disused 'angeethi' - a coal-powered domestic stove generally synonymous to Asian countries. Although being coal-fired, it had nothing to do with the Nandi Pur power project, where the coal did not give out any electricity - but here in our case our coal-fired angeethi came to life in a giffy and soon the smell of coal started to fill in the side alley of my house.

 Readying the coal

Soon the coal were red hot and ready for the about a dozen skewers to turn those into freshing cooked aromatic tikkas.

There is no parallel to the aroma of burning coal with meat juices that fell on them adding a unique combination which one cannot smell when going out. Although I was all by myself enjoying the aroma, with my wife occasionally coming out to see how 'things' were being done and seeing what was being done with her Khaddi bag!!

While the coals were being readied or even when the tikkas were put over the coal to be cooked, I was also busy taking photos with my Galaxy S4, including some gif format shots too, which can be seen in this post. So the homemade chef's photography skills were equally being tested mainly for the purpose of this post.

After the entire lot of skewers was done, came the next step - frying a part of the trove into the frying pan with tomatoes, onions and green chilli.

In the gif below, you may be able to see the oil and juice of tikkas bubbling making up the dish into a heavenly food.


And wow - the dish was finally ready and we all devoured it till there was nothing left in it. 

Oh, before I forget, a few words of Khaadi bag I mentioned earlier. Well in the absence of a 'Pankhi or Pakkhi' or the hand held fan to boost up the burning of the coal, I used one of the Khaadi bags as improved Pakkhi - while my wife really felt sorry for the fate of a good bag which could have been used for some other purpose.

Well that was all about the BBQ last night - do you do BBQ at your place too? If not try someday - there is no parallel to homemade tikkas. At least one is sure of the source and the animal!!

Photos credit: All photos including the gif format shots are taken by me. 

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Frankfurt Skyline

When we planned a overnight pitstop at Frankfurt on our way to Switzerland last October, we thought to make best of our short stay to move about the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany - a city the name of which resounded in my memory lane right from my childhood when we used to see PIA's Frankfurt destination ads in the newspapers.

[Photo credit: History of PIA]

Although the above ad is not as old as the ads I am talking of - the ads of the 60s, when PIA was one of the best airlines of the world. However, due to many administrative reasons, PIA lost its Frankfurt destination. 

As per Wikipedia, Frankfurt is a centre for commerce, culture, education, tourism and web traffic. Messe Frankfurt is one of the world's largest trade fairs at 578,000 square metres and ten exhibition halls. Major trade fairs include the Frankfurt Motor Show, the world's largest motor show, and the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest book fair.

Coming back to Frankfurt - we suffered a big setback when we came to know that 3rd of OCtober - the day we had planned to tour Frankfurt, is a German national holiday and the entire city was closed. So what to do? Well our host Mr Anwar had a better idea. After taking us for a road-ride, he brought us to the old city center and took us to Zeilgalerie (seen down below) to show us the Frankfurt skyline. 

Moving up the escalator of Zeilgalerie to the 7th floor and view Frankfurt skyline from the upper deck

Well the experience of getting on top floor of Zeilgalerie was an experience of life - one could see the tall skyscrapers of Frankfurt so close and majestically close as can be seen in the photo above and down below.

Commerzbank Tower (above right) is the tallest building of Frankfurt with a height of 259 metres / 849.7 feet (height including the antenna is 300 metres.), located at Große Gallusstraße 17–19, Innenstadt. It was the tallest building in Europe from 1997 to 2003 and tallest building in the European Union from 1997 to 2011. Today, it is the tallest building in Germany since 1997.  It is the Headquarters of Commerzbank.

My son and wife and Mr Anwar
Looking down below was really frightening while taking the photo
Commerzbank Tower (above left) and the Main Tower (above right) - two of the tallest building of Frankfurt

Frankfurt, besides Germans has people from Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Greece and Morocco living here - mostly as German residents. Now with the influx of the Syrian refugees, a sizeable number of Syrians too would become part of Frankfurt life.

My son looks my way while someone else looks the otherway

I also got luck this time to have myself snapped  - which usually wasn't the case and got myself registered along with the Frankfurt skyline in the background.

The twin tower building just behind me is Opernturm with a height of 170 metres / 557.7feet is located on Bockenheimer Landstraße 2–4, Westend-Süd. UBS AG, a Swiss global financial services company,  is its main tenant. UBS is the biggest bank in Switzerland, operating in more than 50 countries.
The best view of the Frankfurt skyline is from Zeilgalerie on the side facing the Zeil pedestrian zone

A rather crowded photo of visitors and tourists including my wife with my son (red shirt)

A combination of old and new architecture: St. Catherine's Church (left) and Hauptwache of the 'main guard-house.'(half left) with the modern architecture in the background
Going down 

My previous post(s) on Frankfurt

Frankfurt - our overnight pitstop to Switzerland
Visiting a deserted Frankfurt on the Day of German Unity

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

The heartwrenching tale of a woman who lost her everything in 2005 Earthquake

8th of October 2005 reminds me of the day a decade ago when most parts of the northern Pakistan were jolted by a massive earthquake that ate up many towns and villages besides leaving over 100,000 thousand dead and many more injured, crippled and homeless.

I was on leave that day and was asleep on that fateful day morning when the terrible jolt almost threw me off the bed. For quite sometime, the news channels did not report any major damage except the crumbling down of Margalla Towers in Islamabad. We took a sigh of relief as if that was it. But then the lamenting tales started cropping up of devastations - unparalleled in the history of Pakistan.

Soon I received a call from my office that my leave was cancelled and was to report at my office. By virtue of my post, a medium sized military hospital was under me and by the time I reached there, already dozens of crippled survivors were in through helicopters. Every injured had a tale of his own, describing the wide spread damage the quake had caused.

Out of the many who survived carry scars on their souls, perhaps for the rest of their lives. And one of these was Yasmeen - a young married woman with two dolls like daughters and a loving husband - till the earthquake struck her village, home and her life.

She came to work in our house many years after the quake and was lost person. She would forget things and sometimes she would just keep sitting staring somewhere that only she knew. And one day she narrated her story to my wife.

She was happily married with two cute doll like daughters aged 5 and 4 and lived in a small mud house somewhere near Balakot. On that fateful day, when her husband had went out for work, she cooked chapattis for her daughters and asked them to come and eat. But the elder one refused as she wanted “paratha (chapatti greased with ghee or oil” – seeing her elder sister, the smaller doll also refused to eat plain chapatti and insisted on having paratha as well. The poor mother, who couldn’t afford the luxury, politely refused - a decision she was to regret for the rest of her life. 

Her daughters refused to eat anything else and went inside the house protesting. And it was 8:55 AM - the time the earthquake struck. Yasmeen's mud house was too fragile to resist the shocks and collapsed on her two young siblings. The heartbroken mother ran to the rubble and tried to dig out her daughters – but they were to be no more. They were there lying sound asleep – no more wanting to eat parathas. Yasmeen cried in pain, but her daughters could not awake.

But her tragedy was not over as yet. After the tragic death of her daughters and her guilt of refusing them their favourite breakfast, Yasmeen lost her balance and was a lost person. Her once loving husband tried to console her for a while but then made the worst choice a man could ever make in such circumstances. He divorced Yasmeen and married again - leaving his already shattered wife for ever.

She continues to live but her grief stricken life is too painful to be witnessed. This is but one of many such tragedies that have made people lost and shattered for ever. While today just observe the day with sorrow, can someone really do something to heal the wounds of many such people like Yasmeen - who continue to live carrying scars on their souls forever. 

The main theme of this story was published by me sometimes ago here at Jaho Jalal under the title: The Lamenting Scars of Soul
[Photo courtesy: All things Pakistan

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Visiting a deserted Frankfurt on the Day of German Unity

Visiting Frankfurt was one of my childhood dreams when we would see our nation's flag carrier airline PIA's ads of Frankfurt as one of its best travel destinations. But when the day finally came to be in Frankfurt on a bright sunny day, all my dreams were shattered as it was the German Unity Day on 3 October 2014 and the entire city was closed owing to the national holiday.

So what was to be done? Visit the closed Malls and shopping arcades and follow the streams of tourists wandering the alleys and streets aimlessly !! Yes to an extent this was to be our half day that we had in this beautiful German city before leaving for Switzerland.

 My family posing in front our hotel

Distressed, we phoned a friend's friend who said he would pick up us from our hotel and take us on the city centre ride. This was some solace and we got ready and hurried down the Garni Hotel stairs and drove to a meeting point in front of the Marriott Hotel to be picked up in our host's car and be taken around.

Our pick up point near the tram station in front of the Marriot Hotel - we were to come back here (see last photo) after the 'visit' to Frankfurt - See the deserted road with no traffic at all

Soon our host arrived and so started a short tour of the city on deserted roads with hardly any worthwhile traffic commensurate with the size of the city like Frankfurt. And it did not take us long to see the Frankfurt skyscrapers and finally reaching the city center we had visited the night before. 

Our host Mr Anwar waits while my family chooses the ice cream flavour of their choice

Our host Mr Anwar was feeling sorry for us for not being able to see Frankfurt in its true might with tourists thronging every mall and eatery but offered us ice cream form one of the parlours open to give us some semblance of his hospitality. The ice cream was good and creamy and was a good starter for a long walk from where we parked the car down to the city city center.

The Day of German Unity (German: Tag der Deutschen Einheit) is the national day of Germany, celebrated on 3 October as a public holiday. It commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the goal of a united Germany that originated in the middle of the 19th century, was fulfilled again.

Since the everything was closed, the roadside stalls made a thriving day for they were the only attraction for the tourists. People had brought used and old artifacts and decorations pieces to sell to the tourists at prices much higher than their actual and go back home with their pockets full. 

There were many things to buy, but the prices restrained me from doing so. I almost bought a CD of Beatles' Rubber Soul - but its 20 Euro price tag was too much for this old album and did not stir any nostalgia in me to really go for it as I already have the LP.

The two major attractions of the city center are St. Catherine's Church (above) and Hauptwache of the 'main guard-house.'(below). Hauptwache was constructed in 1730 as a prison. It is situated in the city centre opposite to St. Catherine's Church and houses a famous café. Because of presence of the historic building of Hauptwache, the square surrounding the building is also called "Hauptwache." 

The Hauptwache square itself is one of Frankfurt's main shopping areas, complete with a large underground mall. It's also the point from which the city's main shopping and commercial streets radiate: the pedestrian-friendly Zeil heads east, and Kaiserstrasse, with many places of entertainment in its side streets, runs southwest by way of the Rossmarkt and Kaiserplatz to the city's main train station, the Hauptbahnhof, built in 1888 and one of the largest stations in Europe.

Bronze sculpture of David, sitting on Goliath's head

I too was photographed !!
Statue of Johann Wolfgang Goethe- the famous German writer and statesman

I pose while Mr Anwar shows my wife the Galleria from where one can have an overview of the Frankfurt skyscrapers - we did climb up and a wonderful view - I will share the photos in my next post

Well the city tour was over in two hours as there was nothing much to see except driving on the roads.

We came back to the same tram station to be dropped off by our host for our journey to Switzerland

But the tour wasn't that bad after all. As there were one special feature that Mr Anwar had up his sleeve to show us. Besides there was a bubble maker who caught tourists attention and we too had enjoyed the bubbles he made - the bigger than big bubbles I had not seen before. I will share these in my next two posts.

My previous post(s) on Frankfurt
Frankfurt - our overnight pitstop to Switzerland

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