Friday, December 31, 2021

Gratitude to Allah on Eve of the New Year

From few hours from hence, the clock will strike the 12'o clock bell and the we shall leave behind the year 2021 and welcome the new year 2022. Year 2021 was, like all other previous years, was an eventful year for everyone. It had its ups and downs, happiness and ailments and challenges some of which were met and some remained unfinished. 

For me it was very meaningful for two reasons: For one my both sons got married, and then I fell victim to Covid-19 and was hospitalized in a critical state. But Allah gave me  as second life as death just brushed passed me. While I was being wheeled out of the hospital, my doctor said: "Sir you are lucky to be leaving the hospital alive, for he knew how bad in shape I was when I was wheeled in.

This post is thus my gratitude to Allah for giving me a second life and having blessed me to see the sunshine in all its brightness. On this last day of the year, I am reminded of the  prayer of gratitude which Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon, peace be upon him) in which he is thanking Allah for the immense bounties and blessings that Allah had bestowed upon him:
"Smiling at the ant's utterance, Solomon burst into laughter and said: "My Lord! Hold me under (Your) control that I may render thanks for the favour which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may act righteously in a manner that would please You. Include me, out of Your Mercy, among Your righteous servants." (Surah/Chapter 27 An Naml, verse 19)

So I too bow my head in gratitude to Allah for He has blessed and showered upon me so many bounties that even if I want too, I cannot thank Him for having blessed me. And I also pray today that all those who are in distress or suffering from any ailment, may be blessed in the coming year and that all their hardships are lifted and relief from their ailments be blessed by Allah. May all those who are being suppressed may be freed like the people of Kashmir and Palestine and may the oppressors lower their arms and let the world be a better place to live. Let the world be saved from all epidemics and pandemics like Covid-19 and its variants. Ameen

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Awesome Birdwatching in Pakistan (Index)

Pakistan is nothing but a heaven on earth. From seashore of Arabian Sea in the south, one travels gradually up north through windswept deserts, fertile and green plains and then stepping into the world of mountains. From small hillocks, the landscape changes continuously, taking a tourist to some of the mightiest snow capped mountain peaks of the world, including the five Eight-Thousanders, inclusive of the K2, the second highest peak after Mt Everest. 

These diverse types of land soil attract birds from many countries who find nesting abodes in summers in the large wetlands that could be found in the foothills of its mountains in the plains. Some of the wetlands include the Uchali Lake near the town of Sargodha, the Manchar and Haleji Lakes in the province of Sind, down south. And here one finds the migratory birds from far off lands while the wooded lands around capital Islamabad and up north abound in indigenous birds and pheasants.

We have been sharing these beautiful birds and their habitat in Pakistan in our previous posts. This post will take you to all our previous posts to see and enjoy watching our beautiful birds:

And do not forget to see mighty flamingos that fly in large flocks from cold habitats to Pakistan each year, specially to Uchali Lake.

We are thankful to all those photographers, birds watchers and nature lovers who allowed us to share their photos so that world could see the treasure we have for birdwatchers from across the world.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

20 things about Me

Whenever you meet someone for the first time, you would certainly want to know more about him/her. Though I have been here on this platform for almost a decade, I never talked about myself. So today I thought of sharing something about me so that people around start to know me and my likes.

Here are 20 things about me:
  • I am a proud Leo and the lions always fascinate me.
  • My country Pakistan is the best country in the world and am proud of being its citizen.
  • l love nature in its every form and love to be as close to it as possible.
  • For some unknown reasons, I always wanted to see Switzerland since my childhood - and suddenly unplanned I did manage to be there and loved being there.
  • My favourite band is The Beatles - something of the past though, but since I grew up listening to them, I still enjoy listening to the old songs. But for singles, Annie's Song is my favourite.
  • I always wanted to play guitar - as was inspired by The Ventures.
  • Paul Mauriat’s Love is Blue is my favourite instrumental.
  • I am very selective in choosing friends.
  • Looking down from a high rising building is ….
  • I love everything that my wife cooks - though I like to eat every type of vending junk that is sold by the roadsides.

Continuing with the list, the remaining 10 things about me are:
  • If someone confides with me, rest assured he has confided it with the right person.
  • “How things are made” on Discovery channel is my favourite TV programme.
  • I love watching sea surfing, though tennis is my favourite sport.
  • I really cannot understand poetry, so I prefer listening to a song with good music.
  • Thorn Bird and El Chemist have been my favourite readings.
  • My favourite film? Well can’t name one, but Heaven can wait, After the promise and To kill a mocking bird are some of my favourite.
  • Photography, philately and blogging are my favourite pastimes, while playing Scrabble on line keeps me busy when am not doing anything else.
  • I had a terrible handwriting in my childhood, till grilled by my mother (may she rests in heavens – Amen) and I corrected it (people now admire it :).
  • My late father continues to be my power of strength (may he rests in peace in heavens – Amen).
  • Must have been a good feeling. You know what? I recently went all the way to Holland to meet a friend after 43 years. Boy what a great moment it was.
  • Needless to mention, I love my wife and two great sons.
The listing above would give a fare idea about who I am to my readers. Have you ever tried listing yourself ever!!

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Sunday, February 2, 2020

Djokovic is the 2020 Australian Open Champion

It seems the Sunday 2-2-2020 date that is never to occur again suited Serbian Novak Djokovic as he clinches the Australian Open trophy today, beating Austrian Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Rod Laver arena over four hours in Sunday’s final for his 17th Grand Slam championship crown.

The win today brings him a notch closer to Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19) who have won more major singles titles in the sport’s history.

From Monday onward, the Serbian will return to the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings. 32 years old Djokovic will now begin his fifth stint — and 276th week — at No. 1 on Monday. Should he maintain his No.1 [lace spot in 2020, he is projected to pass Pete Sampras (286 weeks at No. 1) on 20 April and Roger Federer (310 weeks) on 5 October to set a new all-time record for most weeks at No. 1.

Watch the final moments that led to Djokovic's win today:

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Nostalgia of Marching Tune Auld Lang Syne

"Auld Lang Syne" is a famous Scottish song, usually sung and its tune played to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. But is also usually played and sung at the goodbyes like graduations or even funerals, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. Its eloquent verses are really heart moving and bring back the nostalgia of past associations and times spent together, specially under similar environment. 

Auld Lang Syne in English simply means "old long since" or, more idiomatically, "long long ago". In fact Auld Lang Syne is remembrance of the days gone by. the days gone by, or simply the old times. While this rather unusual Scottish word is popular in the civilians on gathering and reunions of old pals, it has since assumed a wider usage in the military and the military bands more often than not play it on farewell parties, or bid farewell to fallen friends and specially on military parades, when a contingent is departing after a spell of training or even leaving for combat.

Why I am sharing this song today, I will tell a little later in the post. But if you are not acquainted with this song, read the poetry below: 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, &c.

And there's a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught,

For auld lang syne

Herein under is an emotionally charged video of acquaintance never to be forgotten with a tinge of nostalgia with the song Auld Lang Syne playing beautifully synchronized with the scenic expressions:

Coming to why am I sharing this video today. The associations of men in uniform are something that one can never forgot throughout one's life for comradeship is the company and friendship of others with common aims. Men train together and then leave to fight on diverse frontiers, sometimes never to see each other again as treacheries of battlefields consume many of them who departed amid laughter and hearty handshakes and embraces. And this song befittingly fits on military departures in every sphere.

Military academies around the world are one such places where boys in their teens join the rigours of the military life, completely different to the lives they have lived before. Here they undergo strict military training, whether it is raining or snowing, whether it is mud filled trenches or freezing cold winds piercing through one's body when standing on a sentry duty while all his comrades take a nap for an eventful day ahead. They still laugh and cherish the memory of each day that passes by.

And then a day comes when they finally prepare for their graduation ceremony, smartly dressed in the military tunics and marching into the drill squares. After the routine rituals, awards of medals and the coveted sword of honour, the passing out cadets from ranks in the middle of the drill square and slowly move out of the drill square on the tune of Auld Lang Syne beautifully played by the military brass band.

I too once marched on this tune, some forty two years ago, and the heart wrenching tune of Auld Lang Syne made me both sad and happy: sad for leaving such a prestigious institution which transformed us from raw college boys to military men and officers and for leaving the comrades to meet later on battlefield or in training camps, and happy for finally being successfully and proudly joining the armed forces of the country. The nostalgia of marching on Auld Lang Syne remains fresh for as long as a man in uniform lives or later as a veteran. This feeling can only be felt, cannot be explained.

Now herein under watch the passing out cadets of Pakistan Military Academy, located in Kabul near the city of Abbottabad, marching out of the drill square on the beautiful tune of Auld Lang Syne. For decades the tune is being played during passing out parades held twice a year:
It was a similar day when I too was among my comrades slowly leaving the academy with a tinge of nostalgia that still remains afresh even till day. Some of my comrades have fallen in these forty years, and one's heart laments on their loss for we have once been together, laughing, enjoying and caring each other when undergoing training at the military academy.
I do not know who out of my batch mate remains to be the last one alive, but I am very sure if he ever listens to Auld Lang Syne, he will have tears rolling down his cheeks for there will be no one to share the memories of the days we shared together.

To those listening to this and maybe feeling the void that I feel for those that I Love and lost I pray that every coming day brings to you only health, happiness, and Love.

Photos (self) | Resource Reference: Wikipedia If you like Jaho Jalal, please follow us on Facebook

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Imran Khan's Heart Wrenching Speech at UNGA Shakes World Conscious on Plight of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir

There are only few people in the world who make a lasting impression on their audience and convey the plight of people, suppressed and enslaved, to the world in a manner that even the hardest of hearts melt and eyes that have long since dried up start to cry with tears rolling on the cheeks uncontrollably. 

This was exactly the scene on 27th September 2019 when Pakistan's Prime Minister took the podium and spoke relentlessly, without consulting any written papers, and put across the case of islamophobia and plight of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, presently occupied by India. 

Besides  exposing hypocrisy of developed world on climate change and money laundering safe havens, Imran Khan spoke at length on "Islamophobia". He blamed the world for implicating Islam to terrorism and creating conditions so that people around the world start to hate Islam and Muslims. Imran Khan spoke without any prejudice, liking or political affiliation, yet very forcefully pressed home his view point about Kashmir and Islamophobia to the world community. Imran Khan blasted the Western leaders on exploiting their self worded "Islamophobia" and said:
“Islamophobia since 9/11 has grown at a pace which is alarming,” said Pakistan's Prime Minister without fear of antagonizing some of the Western allies. “Certain Western leaders equated terrorism with Islam,” he said, by employing labels like “radical Islam.” Khan said that the very concept intrinsically contradictory, because “no religion teaches radicalism. The basis of all religion is compassion and justice, which differentiates us from the animal kingdom.”
The use of “radical Islam” by Western leaders has created an association between a whole religion and terrorism, and put people in the position of suspecting all Muslims. “How is a person in New York, in a European country, or in the Midwest of the US going to distinguish between who’s a moderate Muslim and who’s a radical Muslim?” Asked Imran Khan!!
Muslim women wearing hijabs has become an issue in some countries as if a hijab is some kind of weapon. This is happening because of Islamophobia.
IK speech which was a fine outburst of emotions duly backed with logic, captivated the audience at the UNGA session, oft interpreted by loud applause and clapping on every point that he scored. He very effectively put across the Kashmir dispute, the UN resolutions on disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir and recent annexation of it by India.

He very effectively presented to the world the issue of Kashmir, a people of 8 million Muslims, forcefully suppressed since independence of Pakistan and Indian in 1947. And more recently, after the unlawful annexation of Kashmir by the Indian government, disregarding the countless UN resolutions that declared Kashmir as a disputed territory and call for the holding of impartial plebiscite so that people of Jammu and Kashmir decide for them their future lives and affiliations.
“This is the time when you, the United Nations, must urge India to lift the curfew; to free Kashmiris who have disappeared and this is the time when the UN must insist on Kashmir’s right to self-determination.”
Every word that Pakistan's Prime Minister minced, spoke of his courage, sense of responsibility, pain and sincerity in him, far superior then his Indian counterpart Modi who sheepishly spoke before him and made no mention of atrocities his forces are committing against Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir.

Seeing and listening is believing. Listen to the part of Imran Khan's speech at the UNGA session that moved hearts and made many wept:
Talking of the consequences and fallout of Indian oppression, Mr Khan reiterated that for the freedom of the Muslims of the Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan will go to any extent, if world conscious continues to sleep and gives an indifferent attitude to the sufferings of the people under severe oppression by almost a million strong Indian army presence in Kashmir. He also warned the world that as and when siege is lifted by Indian government, it will lead to a genocide for which the India will blame Pakistan and may indulge in to an open war. 

And a stage comes to that, Pakistan will fight till the end, for a country seven times smaller than India, will be compelled to use its nuclear weapons to survive. But such a stage will be catastrophic for the entire region and the world for the fallout of the nuclear war will see no bounds, warned Mr Khan.

The speech being extempore, crossed the allotted 15 minutes time, but the enthusiasm and interest of the audience not only those attending the session but also worldwide never diminished and everyone listened to him with complete concentration, interest and understanding. For here was a man speaking his heart out to the world for it was full of pain and anguish, crying for those Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir suffering the atrocities of Indian government and its army.

Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Disappearing Tongas of Lahore - Once The Poor's Rolls Royce

The horse driven carriages have ruled the world for since time immemorial. Once these elegant carriages were the prestigious means of transportation for the rich and famous. By and by, these start to vanish from usual city roads as dirt roads disappeared and metaled roads came to accommodate cars and other means of transportation.

However, these continued to be a major to subsidiary means of transportation in our part of the world for a considerable period of times. And were used in cities as late as 70 and 80s. I remember, we had a stable called "Astabal" near in our house in Lahore and tonga stand nearby where one could hire a tonga for any destination in the city. Occasionally, the licensing teams would come and new tonga licenses were issued after giving many tests to the horses to ascertain their roadworthy strength, the same we now licensing authorities give roadworthy certificates to vehicles. 

Photo taken by me while travelling in a train

Abdullah, one of the kochwans (tonga driver) was our favourite for he had decorated his carriage very elegantly with brass couplings and plates polished everyday and a pedestal mounted bell horn. We loved riding his tonga and he would occasionally allow us to press the bell horn, a feel I still remember.

In Lahore, the single horse drawn carriage was known as Tonga or "Tanga" (in local language), similar to the one in above photograph. In Karachi, these were called Victoria for these resembled the carriages of England and the design came to this part of the world when the British came to the Indian subcontinent.
Lahori Tonga - Photographer Unknown
The tongas in Lahore were of two types: the straight carriage tongas, which were the usual sights, and the Lahore Tonga. The latter was unique design but very uncomfortable to ride. I wonder who designee it and why.

As of now these tongas are no more to be seen in the cities, but are still being used in the villages a cheap and affordable means of communication. I shot the above photo from the moving train a while ago when passing through a village.The state of the tonga speak of the poorness of its owner and the people who travel in these. But for them, it is still their Rolls Royce.

If you ever want to ride a in Lahore, do visit old Lahore, specially the Bhaatti Gate where local tour operators have these tongas specially prepared for tourists and you can have a ride of the old Lahore and be fascinated with the glory and awe of the narrow alleys overlooked with tall buildups, though now in much dilapidated condition. When the tip top of hooves of the horse of the tonga resounds among the rather closed environment of the walled city, it leaves reverberating memories of the once glory of the old Lahore where princes and wazirs once rode on their royal carriages.
Tourists from Abroad enjoying Tonga Ride in Old Lahore [Photo
One may also have a tour of famous old Anarkali Bazaar, now turned into a food street near the Tollington Market on the Mall Road. Here one can also have a hearty dinner in pure Lahore style with heavily oiled dishes which leave the diners licking their fingers even when the dishes have been wiped empty.

Watch this video below, though not in English, but it gives the viewers a good view of riding a tonga and walking through extremely compressed alleys of old Lahore:
So when in Lahore, look for tonga tours especially when you are in the vicinity of Old Lahore and Old Anarkali Bazaar. Believe me memories of tonga rides would stay in your memory chips for a long time. And do not miss to disembark at some eatery serving pure desi Lahori foods and lassi. If you are a early riser, then head for Old Lahore for breakfast of Halwa and Puri. This is something that very special to Lahore.

Photo[Header]: Source Unknown
References | Top 5 favourite breakfasts of PakistanThe Lahore Fort Road Food StreetEateries of Qaddafi Stadium, LahoreLakshmi Chowk - The Heart of Lahore | Nostalgic eateries of Lahore |

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Monday, July 15, 2019

People in Pakistan prayed for New Zealand to win ICC World Cup 2019 - Here is Why

While the final of the recently concluded ICC World Cup Cricket was being played, I and many Pakistanis had all our support for the New Zealand team. Not that we had any enmity with the Englishmen, but while watching the match and specially Kane Williams, our memory of APS Peshawar massacre flashed back. 

In December 2014, when the terrorists attacked an army run school (APS) and massacred innocent students, at that time teams of Pakistan and New Zealand were playing a series of ODI cricket in the UAE. Naturally, the incident was extremely tragic and heartbreaking for everyone in Pakistan, and even for the onlookers or those who read the news of tragedy.

It was at that time that the support and love of New Zealand Team for the victims and survivors of the APS students came to forth which was an extremely moving gesture ever to be expressed by team of sportsmen unparalleled in the sports history.

In those trying times of grief, Kane Williamson and Adam Milne of New Zealand team donated thousands of dollars in match fees and their kits to the families of the Pakistan terror attack victims. The gesture really moved every Pakistani and there were silent prayers of thanks for the New Zealand team, specially Kane Williamson and Adam Milne. After the Pakistan team came back, Younis Khan on behalf of the team visited survivors in hospital and distributed the pieces of kits beside handing over donated money to the families.

Younis Khan presenting Williamson's shirt to one of the survivors of APS Massacre [Photo: AFP/ISPR]

So when New Zealand and England were embattled in the final of the ICC World Cup Cricket 2019 in England on Sunday, I along with many Pakistanis prayed for the Kiwis to win the cup. Our prayers were almost answered had the Umpire Kumar Dharmasena not given his wrong decision of awarding six runs instead of five at the crucial stage of the match.

In fact the ICC should have taken a notice of this great violation of cricket rules and had at least awarded the trophy jointly to both teams for technically the New Zealand would have won the match had this unlawful decision not give.

Now that the event is over, we thank Kane Williamson and his team for amusing us with a more than world class cricket match and just want to tell them that they will always remain in our hearts for their gesture of goodwill five years back after Peshawar massacre in December 2014.

Photo | Reference: New Zealand Cricket Team Donate Kits and Funds for Victims of Peshawar School Massacre
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Sunday, July 14, 2019

England beat New Zealand in sensational ICC World Cup Final

What a day it was at London today where two finals were being played: The ICC World Cup 2019 Cricket between England and New Zealand, and the Center Court of the Wimbledon where the men's single final between two tennis giants was paled between second seeded Roger Federer and defending champion Novak Djokoivc. 

I was divided between the two finals but the last overs of the ICC World Cup Cricket final glued me to the cricket. And boy o boy what a closely contested finish it was for the New Zealand. In the last over, despite the bonus six runs (2+4) England could not take the last run to win the match.

The super over was equally exciting and thrilling. England scored 16 runs in six balls. And when it came to New Zealand, the same run out saga was repeated and the Kiwis just got unlucky to lose to the Englishmen.

So it is England who lifts its maiden ICC World Cup Trophy and the match brings an end to a memorable World Cup 2019.

Photo | References | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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Djokovic beat Federer to be the 2019 Wimbledon Champion

Novak Djokovic raises the winner’s trophy.
What a day it was at London today where two finals were being played: The ICC World Cup 2019 Cricket between England and New Zealand, and the Center Court of the Wimbledon where the men's single final between two tennis giants was paled between second seeded Roger Federer and defending champion Novak Djokoivc. The last time both met was at Wimbledon 2014 when Djokovic beat Federer in the final. Federer won the 2017 Wimbledon beating Marin Čilić of Croatia.

I was divided between the two finals but was more focused on the Wimbledon to know whether Federer, the aging yet extremely in shape Spaniard wins his 9th Wimbledon title or not. The first set was contested very hard and the Serbian finally managed a hard earned 7(7) - 6(5) win. But Federer fought back and had a easy 6-1 win.   

And from then on it was game of guts, stamina and fitness. None seemed to be giving in till the end. But it had to come to an end in favour of the defending champion who finally won over Federer 7(7)-6(5), 1-6, 7(7)-6(4), 4-6, 13(7)-12(3).

What a final it was and both players need commendation for providing so much thrill and world class match to the spectators all over the world.

References | 1 | 2 | Photo: Novak Djokovic raises the winner’s trophy. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

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