Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Do you remember this car?

Yesterday I went to a nearby market for grocery shopping and the moment I came out of my car, another car partially visible stopped me right in my tracks - for I was seeing something that I first saw in early 60s.

In an instant, my cell phone came out of my pocket and I moved towards 'this' car in sea green to take a few shots. Have you recognised and remembered this car, if you happen to be of my age, you would. Yes it is a Morris Minor 1000 car that first came into Pakistan in early 60s. I remember it vividly as a next day neighbour bought this while I was living in Lahore. 

British Morris Minor was built as an economy car in 1948 and its model 1000 came in 1956 continued to be produced till 1971. By February 1961 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units.

In Pakistan, most of the Morris Minor 1000s were seen in Rawalpindi and a time came when this car had almost vanished from all other cities of the country, Morris Minor 1000s were still used as Taxis  - I believe till 1980s.

However, there are still some people fond of vintage cars, who have preserved this car and is spotted occasionally as did I. I waited for the owner for almost half an hour to ask him about his passion of keeping this car - but finally had to abandon my plan and buy the grocery to go home.

On Facebook, the present prime minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif is also seen sometimes posing with his Morris Minor 1000 when he was studying in Government College Lahore. 

Another famous artist Ajaz Anwar of Lahore is also still maintaining his Morris Minor as can be seen him posing with his car in Lahore above (Photo Courtesy Ajaz Anwar's Facebook Page).

Do you like vintage cars or know someone still maintaining this once most widely used cars in Pakistan?

Know more about Morris Minors at Wikipedia

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Monday, August 31, 2015

It was a moonlit night (Not) in old Mexico

Last night was the full moon and it always fascinates me to go out and enjoy its majesty and might. So as usual I went out with my new Nikon Coolpix L820 camera to test some night shots of the full moon. I did not have tripod and it took me a while to shoot some palatable moon shots.

And while I was taking the shots, suddenly an old song recoiled from my memory: Speedy Gonzales

For many Speedy Gonzales is a cartoon of modern times - but people of my age who listened to the 78 RPM records in the 60s, Speedy Gonzales was a famous Pat Boone song that still vividly resides in my memory.

The song stared with a narrative that said:
It was a moonlit night in old Mexico. I walked alone between some old Adobe haciendas. Suddenly, I heard the plaintive cry of a young Mexican girl.
And then the song started with a shrilling voice of a young Mexican girl followed by the song that goes like this:

You better come home, Speedy Gonzales
Away from tannery row
Stop alla your a-drinkin'
With that floozie named Flo
Come on home to your adobe
And slap some mud on the wall
The roof is leakin' like a strainer
There's loadsa roaches in the hall

Speedy Gonzales, why don'tcha come home?
Speedy Gonzales, how come ya leave me all alone?

Spoken in a male Mexican accent: "Hey, Rosita-I hafta go shopping downtown
For my mudder-she needs some tortillas and chili peppers. "

Your doggy's gonna have a puppy
And we're runnin' outta coke
No enchiladas in the icebox
And the television's broke
I saw some lipstick on your sweatshirt
I smelled some perfume in your ear
Well if you're gonna keep on messin'
Don't bring your business back a-here

Mmm, Speedy Gonzales, why don'tcha come home?
Speedy Gonzales, how come ya leave me all alone?

Spoken in a male Mexican accent: "Hey, Rosita-come queek-down at the cantina

They giving green stamps with tequila!! "

Does this narration compels you to listen to the song? Well to some yes may be. So here it is for those some who are attracted to listen to the voice of the young Mexican girl or for those who have listened to this song in their teens. Here i t goes:

I am sure next time you see a full moon, you will be reminded of Speedy Gonzales and the plaintive cry of a young Mexican girl !!

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Passing through Königsallee, Düsseldorf

The tour of Schengen countries including Netherlands, Belgium and France finally came to an end with us passing through Düsseldorf and heading Kiel on the Baltic Sea from where we had embarked upon our almost two week long Schengen Tour.

Leaving Viersen

After a memorable stay at Mr Qamar Baig's house in Viersen, I have details of which in my previous post, we after a hefty breakfast bid farewell to Qamar Baig and his German wife and headed towards Düsseldorf, just about 32 kilometres due east - our last pit stop before Kiel.

Düsseldorf is the capital of the federal state (Bundesland) of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and is one of the economic centres of Germany, located along the River Rhine in the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area.

The first thing that one sees entering the city is the tall Rheinturm or the Rhine Tower on the city skyline (as seen above). The 240.5 metre high tower houses many aerials for telecommunication besides a revolving restaurant and an observation deck at a height of 170 metres.

Although the observation deck is open to public, daily from 10:00 AM to 11:30 PM, we did not have time to visit the place as we had a long drive back to Kiel. As per Wikipedia, there is a light sculpture on its shaft works as a clock. This sculpture was designed by Horst H. Baumann and is called Lichtzeitpegel (light time level). The light sculpture on the Rheinturm is the largest digital clock in the world. 

Some of the places to visit in the city are Schlossturm, Castle tower, Pegeluhr and St. Lambertus Basilika, the City Monument, City Hall and Jan Wellem in front, the 'falling-like' Gehry Buildings, Pillar Saint: Bride, Jröne Jong and the Benrath Palace.

Driving through city streets, one is often trailing trams or being trailed by these. One has to be very careful of these machined monsters as they take time to stop - so thumb rule is just stay away.

My son found this red Ferrari parked just a few cars away from ours and could not resist a hurried snap.

My younger son posing with a sculpture

Due to paucity of time, we straightaway headed for Stadtmitte or the city centre or the Königsallee - the King's Avenue, or just 
Kö as it is lovingly called by the natives. The Königsallee is approximately one km long along the canal which is fed by water from the Düssel, from which the city got its name.

Besides the the landscaped canal that runs along the Königsallee center, it is here that most of the expensive shopping malls are located. Like 'good tourists' we parked the car, had an extensive window shopping. Occasionally we went into the malls, asked the prices of shoes and lady bags and enjoyed the 'prices' and promised to come back after  surveying the market to pick a few !!

The canal with its tall trees that protect it from the sunlight has clear reflecting water - which provides a serene place right in the city centre for travelers and tourists to take a stroll or rest on the benches and enjoy the cool view for hours. 

While I accompanied my wife to the shopping centres, my sons had ample time to take snaps of the canal and resting.

The quick and short window shopping visit to Kö, it was time to head home to Kiel. While driving out, we left behind some of the sweetest memories of our lives - from meeting a friend after 43 years at Groningen, Netherlands, the lifeless was statues of Madam Tussaud at Amsterdam, the Moroccan dinner at Shahid Latif's house in Rotterdam and a full four day visit to Paris.

The first part of our travel to Schengen countries thus came to an end with a nostalgia that will stay with us for as long as we live.

But this was not all - as we got back, we started planning for our second tour to Switzerland and Italy. So stay with me as my travelogue is far from finished. 

Adieu (French Goodbye) for now - Hasta la Vista (Spanish 'see you later' - pronounced as Asta-la-VEE-sta)

Or the German Bis dann (until then - BISS-dun) Auf Wiedersehen (Good bye - owf-VEE-der-zayn)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

From Paris to Viersen - a hearty dinner and warm hospitality awaits

Bidding farewell to Paris was a hard thing to do. But tourists are always running short of holidays and money - and and so did we. So we bade farewell to Paris and drove towards are next destination: Viersen - a German border town, 20 km east of Venlo, Holland. 

As I have explained in my last post Goodbye Paris, it took as quite a while to leave Paris visiting the Notre Dam cathedral and the Carrefour store and a lunch break half way from the Belgian border.  So by the time we reached Viersen, it as already very late - something like 12 o'clock - but our host Mr Qamar Baig was awake waiting for us with his big smile and warm hospitality. 

He had dinner laid out, cooked by him personally in pure Pakistani style. And its was treat to eat a homely food after munching burgers and pizzas since our last eastern / Moroccan food at Rotterdam, Holland. We were served with sizzling hot 'Channa Pulao' and chicken curry along with assorted salads and cold drinks. 

 My son in front of Mr Qamar's house

Although the German wife of Mr Qamar loved gardening and had made a beautiful lawn, the house adjacent to theirs had a big back courtyard full of fruit trees. Herein under are tow photos of the apple and pears. The pears appeared much bigger than what we have in our country and looked juicy and ripe.

The neighbour knowing of our presence gifted a few ripe pears and it was a treat to eat these - thanks to the German domestic hospitality.

The morning began with a hefty breakfast table, which Mr. Qamar's German wife had laid down for us. As I told in my previous post, she missed to see us the night before as she had a long day in her office. But was up early to share her part of hospitality by making omelets and fried eggs besides many types of German breads, creams, jams and jellies.  

 Pre departure good bye photographs with our hosts

A few words about Viersen: Viersen is a small German border town with roughly a population of 75,000 and is the capital of the district of Viersen, in North Rhine-Westphalia. Viersen is twinned with Peterborough and Cambridgeshire in Great Britain, Pardesia in Israel, Lambersart in France and Kaniv in Ukraine. 

Some of the international events that take place at Viersen are:
  • March: The World Championships of Carom billiards take place in Viersen's Festival Hall (Festhalle). 
  • September: International Jazz Festival in Viersen's Festival Hall (Festhalle).
  • September: International Biker Meeting, organized by the local biker-club 
As for travelers wishing to see something special at Viersen, following are some of the few sites of this small town to be visited:
  • Viersen Bismarck Tower
  • Dülkener Narrenmühle und Narrenmuseum
  • Städtische Galerie im Park Viersen
  • Viersen sculpture collection
Being a small town, it has a typical look of a modern village landscape with farmlands with ready crops, swaying in the morning breeze as we left. The tall trees along the road and the farmlands was a treat to see as we left Viersen for backhome Kiel. 

We could not see the Viersen town itself as we were running short of time and before Kiel, we had one more destination: Dusseldorf. 

Dusseldorf - here we come!!

Since we were not to come this way again, though for the time being, we thought of visiting the nearby big cities of Cologne and Dusseldorf. But as we had a long distance to travel to Kiel up in the north, we skipped the former and chose to pass through Dusseldorf city centre doing some window shopping.

So my next and last post on our first part Schengen tour would be on Dusseldorf. Please stay tuned for my next post before we reach back Kiel and prepare for our second leg of Schengen tour that includes Switzerland and Italy.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Special children celebrate the 68th Independence Day of Pakistan their own special way

I was wondering what should I write to express my gratitude to Allah for having brought us independence some 68 years ago from the British Empire. And how should I thank the father of nation Mr Jinnah, a thin fragile and man on the brink of his death, who stood in front of all odds and forced the British to carve out Pakistan as an independent country for the Muslims of British India. It was the his concerted efforts and his colleagues and millions of Muslims who came in rag tag to breathe in the free air of independence on 14 August 1947.

We have come a long way with a chequered history, from zenith of progress to a war of terror imposed on us by countries for their own vested interests. We stand on the crossroads today- a time when the Pakistan Armed Forces are fighting the menace of terrorism and the nation standing behind the men of the nation to support their efforts to ensure a better and progressive peaceful tomorrow. 

Now coming back to my opener - what should I have been writing today. And I came across a fine tribute to celebrate the independence day by some 100 deaf children who for the first time ever in Pakistan's history 'sang' the national anthem in their own special way. And let me tell you that by the time the beautiful national anthem tune ended along with the sign language of the deaf children, I was all tears for I had never experienced the love of those who cannot speak - yet are so expressive both in expression and effort that one really needed to give them a standing ovation.

Watch the video below and you will realise the outburst of my emotions:

Experience the National Anthem Like Never Before!
Experience the National Anthem Like Never Before! For the first time in Pakistan, Deaf students from the Deaf Reach School perform the national anthem in Pakistan Sign Language! Watch this video and share it with your friends on this Independence Day! A Big Thank You to Grassroots Productions for making this possible. Happy Independence Day Everyone! :)
Posted by Deaf Reach on Thursday, August 13, 2015

Long live Pakistan!!

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Goodbye Paris

It was a wonderful four days stay in Paris last September 2014 when we had driven into Paris after spending a memorable school friends reunion in Groningen, Holland. 

Paris has been a dream country and sure enough this is the reason why this single city attracts majority of tourists and travelers from around the world. We were lucky to see the major landmarks of Paris but due to shortage of time we still missed many.

Leaving Paris was not that easy and reminded me of Bonnie Tyler's song 'I was lost in France' time and again. 

Passing by Austerlitz Viaduct

Austerlitz Viaduct is a single-deck, steel arch rail bridge crosses the Seine. It is used for the railroad traffic on Line 5 of the Parisian Metro Network. It links Gare d'Austerlitz on the left bank to Quai de la Rapée on the other side of the river.

Before we leaving Paris, we still had two destinations to visit: The Notre Dam cathedral and the Carrefour shopping centre. I have already written a separate post on visit to the Cathedrale Notre Dame

Carreefour is a big multinational retailer chain, with its stores are spread around the world. In Pakistan it operates under the brand name of Hyper Star. We just had enough time to find a parking and visit the store and I was lucky to buy to pair of joggers - one of which though did not last my second Schengen trip and its sole gave away and thus my 24 Euros too!!

It was getting late and we had to cross Belgium and enter Germany through Holland to a German border town of Viersen where a lovely Pak-German family awaited us for our night stop over.

Belgium is perhaps the only country Schengen country which has street lights throughout its length of motorways. Unlike other countries, therefore, we had a well lit night drive through Belgium on deserted roads as it was late at night.

By the time we reached Viersen, Germany, it was almost one in the morning and the entire town of Viersen was asleep. Thanks to the excellent navigation of the BMW we were driving that we did not have to ask directions - even if we wanted to, there was no one around. So we reached dot in front of the house of Mr Qamar Baig, friend of a friend of mine, who was awake waiting for us. Since we were utterly late, Mr Qamar's German wife who had come from the work late in evening was asleep and we met her on the breakfast table in the morning.

A sleeping Viersen

Now we were back into Germany - but we still had a lot of travelling to do to reach Kiel from where we started our Schengen tour almost ten days ago. I will talk about our stay in Viersen, then a quick run through Düsseldorf.

Stay tuned for my remaining part of Schengen tour!!

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