Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Be the Change You Want to See (Guest Post)

Name:                                     Areeba Ayub
Father Name:                         M. Ayub
Name of School:        Govt. Girls Comprehensive Higher Sec School

Be the Change You Want to See

Accept you, as you are
Believe in yourself and have fun
Cherish time together
Dream big dreams
Enrich comfort and delight
Follow up and follow through
Gratitude for life
Honor each other feelings
If I write to you
Just call to say, hello
Know when someone
Loves you through a letter
Multiply joys divide sorrows
Nurture each other
Overcome adversity together
Pick yourself up when you fall
Quickly forgive and make up
Remember your greatness
Smile, when they remember you
Thrive and share trust
Understand and just listen
Value time together
Walk side by side
Xperience ups and downs
Yearn to stay connected

Zoom time to love & laugh.


There is A Battle between Two Wolves; Despair and Hope. The Question is Which Wolf Wins? The One You Feed (Guest Post)

Name:                                     Ashjan Khan
Father Name:                         M. Umar Khan
Name of School:                    Shaheed-e-Millat Govt. Degree College for Women

There is A Battle between Two Wolves; Despair and Hope. The Question is Which Wolf Wins? The One You Feed

Abeel’s point of view:

My palms were sweating, hands were trembling and the violent sobs were leaving my throat dry, which was making me cry harder. The view was really breathtaking. The edge of the cliff I was standing on was showing how beautiful my city was. If you haven’t guessed it yet; let me tell you that I was committing suicide. Why? Well, my mother left me on the stairs of an orphanage when I was a few days old.

I was seventeen years old, and since no one likes to adopt teenagers and when I turned eighteen the orphanage wouldn’t support me, I felt that there was no other option left for me. I felt that I was, am and will be on my own. I took a deep breath and opened my arms to welcome my end as I jumped, but someone grabbed my wrist and yanked me back. Obviously, losing my balance I fell on the ground besides the person who had just saved my life.

I opened my eyes to find a middle-aged man, probably in his mid-forties. I quickly got up, brushed the dirt off my clothes, and started to walk away. “Hey kid! Come back here!” He called out, but I started to walk faster. Of course, he caught up pretty fast and stood in front of me. Was he an Olympic marathon runner? He was looking at me like I had four heads.
“What were you doing?” he asked.

I wanted to yell at him that he should mind his own business but I started to cry and you won’t believe that he did let me cry.

“Feeling better?” he asked after I was done crying and I nodded, but he didn’t let me go. He and I sat on the nearest old, dusty bench. He asked the question I knew he would; Why, sad in such a beautiful life?” I didn’t lie a bit and told him everything. He just laughed after listening to my sad story; I looked at him with pure confusion. But then he asked me if I knew Kamal Hasan. I nodded and said yes I knew him. He smiled again and said “you know his name but do you know his story”? I told him that he has made a business empire on his own. The old man cut me off and said.
“Everyone knows it, but his real story is that his father had anger management issues and his mother left him because of that. When he was fifteen he realized that he was done with his life and his father was too cold to realize that. I still remember, he was standing there like you but before he could jump, he thought about the story of two wolves; despair and hope, which one was he going to feed? He decided to feed hope and turned away from despair. ”

I looked at him with hope and smiled “You see he didn’t give up”. The man said as he stood up. I quickly stood up too and said “I won’t give up too. I’m going to feed hope too”.

“What’s your name, child?” He asked patting my head.
“Abeel,” I said quickly.

He gave me a card and said. “When you turn eighteen give me a call”. With that he left and when I turned the card over, I guess it was my turn to laugh because the card had a name on it with a number and the name was:
“Kamal Hassan”



A Love Letter to Karachi (Guest Post)

Name:                                                  Areesa Sama
Father Name:                                    Muhammad Jaweed Sama
Name of School:                              Akbar public school

A Love Letter to Karachi
Dear lovely people of Karachi,

                My lovely citizens of Karachi! I want to say something to you and you must know how much I love you all and Karachi. Karachi is our city and we have full freedom of everything and we also have the liberty to go to markets and for outings. You all also know we have religious festivals of different religions such as Eid, Diwali, and Christmas etc. And we should spread peace and tolerance in this loving city and country. For our own sake and freedom, we must spread positivity.

Our city is blessed with many choices for enjoyment and for outings such as the seaside, parks, and zoo. Karachi has the biggest steel mill and it was the backbone of economy of Pakistan, but at some point we fell into some difficulties. Our city is suffering from many problems. One of these problems is the menace of terrorism. If we want to solve our problems, we will have to follow these rules, which I would like to share with you all. We can defeat our problems if we aim to spread peace in this country and follow these rules:
  • Don’t make rubbish and just make the city clean.
  • Don’t fight with others
  • Speak politely
  • Use kind language
  • Do not hurt any person and punish the felons
  • Accept people as they are
  • Spread freedom and tolerance
  • Make biggest get together
  • Love everyone
  • Don’t break the laws and customs of your society
  • Respect teachers, elders, and also you should help others.

We should do these things to make our city helpful, peaceful, and progressive. We should always thank the Lord that He has given us a good city and for making us humans. If we follow these mentioned rules, our city will become peaceful. I love my city and its people a lot.

Loving citizen of Karachi

Aneesa Sama


Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Fight for Second Place: Xbox One vs. Wii U

(Image credit; 4.bp.blogspot.com)

In terms of sales, the PlayStation 4 is far ahead of its peers. Recent statistics show that Sony’s beastly machine has 40% more sales than Xbox One according to ArsTechnica. We believe that the ‘console war’ is now being fought between Nintendo’s Wii U and the Xbox One. It may get even more cutthroat as Microsoft’s CVP Yusuf Mehdi recently announced on Xbox Wire that Xbox One shipments to retailers are nearing 10 million. However, this does not give us any indication of consumer sales.

If we compare hardware, there is no question the Xbox One offers more power and graphical capability than the Wii U. The one thing favoring Nintendo’s little monster is that it is loaded with exclusives. Most recently, the stylish fighter ‘Bayonetta 2’ was released on the Wii U and became an instant hit and its 95/100 Metacrtic rating proves it. ‘Super Smash Bros.’ has already scored 85/100 rating on Metacritic and hopefully it will repeat the success when it releases on the Wii U on the 21st of November.

The Xbox One may not have as many exclusives as the Wii U but some of their best include ‘Forza Horizon 2’, ‘Sunset Overdrive’ and ‘Halo: Master Chief Collection’. This year’s biggest Xbox One exclusive was ‘Titanfall’. Unfortunately, its sequel is reportedly going multiplatform.

But are gamers always looking for exclusives? Some may argue that exclusives offer a unique selling point for consoles. However, since the launch of Xbox One and PS4 in November 2013, the multi-platformers performed better especially ‘Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag’, ‘Battlefield 4’, ‘FIFA 15’, ‘Destiny’ and ‘Watchdogs’. ‘Assassins Creed Unity’ is one of the hottest third-party titles going into the holiday season. ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ has already scored 83/100 on Metacritic and is a smash hit.

None of these new multi-platform titles are making their way to the Wii U. However, this does not help the Xbox One either because some gamers may chose to play the multiplatform hits on the relatively powerful PS4. The PS4 has sold 13.5 million units according to Sony’s official figures and there were fewer exclusives released on it as compared to the multi-platform titles. Thus, both Nintendo and Microsoft will battle it out on exclusives.

According to a report by Tech Times in June, the Wii U is on second place. When speaking to the Seattle Times, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said, “We think that the Wii U has a long and vibrant life in front of it. What it needs are games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Splatoon - those types of games that can really drive the installed base. We believe if we can do that effectively the Wii U has a long and robust life”.

Microsoft Xbox division head Phil Spencer will need to make sure they have the quality of exclusives to match Nintendo otherwise they may fall behind in the console race. The hotly-anticipated ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ and ‘Quantum Break’ look promising and a new ‘Gears of War’ will be greatly welcomed by fans.

According to The Motley Fool, the Xbox One is “a lost cause”, but Mr. Mehdi will surely disagree! 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Soul Survivor by Bushra Farooq

(Image credit: Conspiracy Syndrome/ Facebook)

The most beautiful sound in the world is the first cry of a baby. Pure and much awaited. The first thought in every mother's head is....is my baby ok. The first thought in the grandmother's head is........was the ultrasound right? Are you sure it's a boy? Every male, from that very first cry is the most precious living thing for the whole family. Not because he is a child but because he is a he. The pressure of being perfect is now on.

Thanks to feminism and the plight of women who have been living in patriarchal societies since civilizations came into existence, we have ignored the pressures and the plight of men...

Yes, they are the root of all evil

Yes, they are horrible and mean

Yes, we believe strongly in the fact that they have it easy. But do they?

I always assumed men had it simple. They can do what they want, when they want and how they want to do it. But on closer inspection it's not like that. The burdens on a male are as equally suffocating as those on females in society.

As a baby he is well looked after but each mother is worried if her son is growing as tall and handsome as he should. Does he have an aggressive, forceful personality or is he going to be the shy, downtrodden one?

The boy is encouraged at all levels to excel in academics as he has to get a job, not just any job but the most lucrative job there is to offer which of course are in the fields of medicine and engineering. If neither is possible then the alternative is law or maybe banking. Nobody cares if he wants to paint for a living or maybe wants to be a photographer. What if he was particularly good at writing or wanted to become a musician? Mummy jee and Daddy jee will always come up with the same argument……. What will you earn? This is not a respectable profession! What will the relatives think? The conclusion is as usual Mummy jee bursting into tears and Daddy jee threatening the boy with military school.

Sport is viewed as a male area of interest, regardless of his actual interest. He must play and outshine his classmates in playing sports and of course the knowledge of every sport. Imagine the shame Daddy jee has to go through if his son finishes last in the school race. Or what if horror of all horrors he does not have the fit muscular build that Mummy jee can brag about to all the neighbourhood aunties? So what if he loathes sport? That is not acceptable. Is it really necessary for a guy to be this way? Forget about the pressures from the parents, imagine the bullying and taunts he will have to endure in school from his peers! Sometimes bullies can go overboard and children suffer psychological trauma which has dire effects on their personality.

Once he enters university, the ever increasing pressure is now mounting. He must fit in society and do it with such ease as that it seems effortless. The boy now almost a man should be handy around the house, be able to drive his phupos and khalas to the tailor, excel in his chosen field of study, help Daddy jee with the business, start earning and of course be cool enough to be liked by his peers. Girls are able to share their emotions with friends and are allowed to use cosmetics to help themselves feel better and to overcome self doubt. The man whoever cannot do so he must wear each pimple and mark on his face like a medal of honour. Any attempts to hide them will lead to being treated like a leper.

After all these stresses the boy is now a man. Graduated and full of energy, he is searching for a job. Then reality hits……………he realizes becoming Donald Trump might take him a lifetime and he starts with a basic salary (if he is lucky enough to find one). He must now study further and specialize to earn more. Unfortunately, the corporate world is vicious and not everyone can take the stress or able to charm the management enough to get promoted.

At home Mummy jee is now on the hunt for a girl, she has not asked him what he wants or whether he has a girlfriend or not. His needs and wants are not the priority, Mummy jee wants a daughter-in-law she can control and who will be not smart enough to sway her son’s loyalties from her. She must be educated so Mummy jee can show off and be extremely beautiful so that the future generations are guaranteed to be physically blessed.

At first, every relationship has happy moments, laughter and the excitement of being new. Then the reality seeps in slowly and when the euphoria dies down you truly realize if the compatibility is there or not. At this stage he hopes that Mummy jee and the wife get along but he can only hope as most usually there will be rifts and most definitely there will be arguments. Where does the man stand now? How does he give preference to either? Making a choice is impossible and most often leads to the disintegration of one relationship. If he chooses his mother, then his wife and he will always be unhappy and she will make sure he knows about it. If he chooses his wife then the whole world and every relative who cannot mind their business will let him know he was wrong and then of course the guilt inside……

With a growing family come growing needs and demands. Some demands may be unwarranted and too much while other demands are justified and so the poor man must decrease his social activities and search for more avenues to make money. With increased stress and an unhealthy lifestyle comes deteriorating health. The man now hitting 40 is at risk for heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes etc etc

The day he has his son he looks down at him and smiles, thanks God that after he retires he will have someone to take care of him and he will be able to help him provide for the family too. Never does it cross his mind to let his son be. He cannot allow that to happen as he realizes that there is just too much to achieve and it must start from the cradle.

Where is the easy life then?


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TEDx: Teaching us to Rise Above

(Image credit: TEDx Karachi)

Khudi ko kar buland itna kay har taqdeer say pehlay khuda banday say yeh khud poochay bata teri raza kya hai – Allama Muhammad Iqbal

I had always heard of TEDx but until I walked in to the Arts Council on Saturday September 27, 2014 I never knew what to expect.  

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials" -- Chinese Proverb

Indeed human beings exhibit their best when the going gets tough. In our darkest hour, we have to learn to light the candle and the ten individuals who spoke shared the experiences that have shaped their lives. The most-anticipated talks of the evening were Sania Saeed, Tina Sani and former CPLC chief Jameel Yusuf. However, before the day was over I discovered that there were many unsung heroes about whom I had no idea.  The event MC, Umair Jaliawala, kept the audience engaged throughout with witty humor and excellent introductions.

The evening was kicked off by entrepreneur Naeem Zamindar who did not talk about his adventures in Corporate life or the world of Venture Capitalism but instead led the audience through several meditation exercises. He stated that he had taken a course called ‘Art of Living’ that changed his life. I will be honest, I was not too crazy about his guided meditation and he did not do much to keep my interest and I found amusement in seeing others experience their inner souls. Nonetheless, not a bad start to the show with some funny bits that reminded me of PE practice back in my school days.

After the appetizer was over, the main course got me hooked. This young man is a personal friend but I had never seen him speak in public. I am talking about photographer extraordinaire Mobeen Ansari and the minute he started speaking, all eyes were glued to the stage. He relayed about how he was diagnosed with meningitis at birth and it affected his sense of smell and hearing.

He truly spoke from the heart as she showed us photographs of his journeys all over Pakistan, his book, Dharkan: The Heartbeat of a Nation, that chronicled our country’s icons and heroes and some people we overlook. An interesting photograph was a reunion of Aamir Zaki and Alamgir after 30 long years. I loved this guy, and he just mesmerized the audience with each of his photographs.
Moving on, Rabia Aziz-Rizvi came on stage to talk about her young daughter who was born with Apert Syndrome and how she became her child’s voice. She became her normal and showed that there is more than love a child needs to be accepted and how she showed through her daughter, that she can rise above the prejudices of our hypocritical society. I am a firm believer to follow your heart and not stick to status quo. Bravo Rabia for inspiring all of us!

Mariam Piracha spoke to me personally because I am a writer by profession.  I have been writing since a young age, and I feel I can express myself creatively most via my written work. Her awesome project, the Spoken Stage, gave every young student a platform to be honest on paper and rise above. She also spoke eloquently and I was very impressed. I would love to learn more about her work.

We had a performance by Suhai Abro, a classical dancer who explained through her wonderful technique how she expresses her feelings through dance and how it enables her to rise above. Her story about her relationship with her mentor and teacher reminded us of the times when we burned bridges with people who were once our own teachers and learned to move on from there. I am not a huge fan of classical dance. She managed to keep my attention, although I felt her story was more interesting than her routine.

Digital marketing specialist, composer and singer Daniyal Noorani explained us to how he came up with his animated short ‘Quaid ki Batein’. One of the clips he showed educated us about cleaning trash from outside our homes and that we can eventually clean the whole country this way. His talk was well-rehearsed and well-timed. He was one of the few who stuck to the 18 minute rule. I wish the Quaid was at TEDx and I will not be surprised of his feelings. I bet he would have stood up and saluted Daniyal!

There was a break for around half an hour that turned a little too long which was expected at an event of such nature. Snacks and beverages were served and it allowed the audience to network with the speakers and each other. There were shawermas, mini-burgers and a delicious cake that really hit the spot J.

Now we come to Sania Saeed — who needs no introduction. Honestly, she was a bit boring in the beginning but with the passage of time, she gained my attention when she spoke of the profound impact of her play Aahat to women she interacted with back in the 90s. She also mentioned a few lines on her role of Mehrunissa in Anwar Maqsood’s ‘Sitara aur Mehrunissa’ and her fashion sense that eventually became a statement of its time. To be fair, she got a little interesting in the second half of her talk, but there was too much light corporate bashing considering the event had several corporate sponsors.

Ahsan Jameel, CEO of Aman Foundation, came on stage to talk about depression and mental health. He also spoke highly of his company and his subordinates. His talk, seasoned with couplets and quotes, reminded us to follow our passions as well. He meant to say a lot more but due to the 18 minute rule (that some speakers failed to observe), he had to cut his speech short. I have to say business grads, you gotta listen to this guy. He is a role model for any budding CEO.  I just wished he had more time to speak.

Jameel Yusuf was one man who broke the record of longest TED talk I feel. He went way overtime which actually caused the event to close around two hours over time. Would you say it was well worth it? He was one of the key speakers and several people had come to see him, and he had quite a lot to say. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurrat in 1992 and had worked tirelessly for the CPLC between 1989 and 2003. He was brilliant the entire time and I knew that everyone in the audience did not want him to stop. He was one of the marquee speakers and man, if this event had just his speech, it would have been worth attending.

The man is a living legend and a hero. His speech is worth a listen and I wish he had more time to complete his story. Umair Jaliawala made everyone laugh when he sat down on stage and exclaimed that Mr. Yousuf had committed a serious crime! Tell that to the man who spent his life fighting it!

The show must go on, and so it did. Tina Sani was one I personally wanted to listen to. Her song ‘Koi Baat Karo’ is my all time favorite. Anyways, starting off singing, she told her story of how music became her voice. Her upbringing in Afghanistan and how she learned to appreciate people of different cultures, something I experienced myself as an international student in the US. I love music, so to hear Tina talk about what music meant to her and has defined her personality was amazing. Her talk was a major highlight and she should return on the next TED. Marvelous singer and lady!

Finally, we got treated to my friend Yousuf Kerai and his student Shehroze’s musical performance on table and sitar respectively. As part of the Tarz group, these guys have mastered eastern classical music and wanted to showcase the true music of the subcontinent and that he did in style. Their jugalbandi was just out of this world. I am a huge music fan and this was the best way to end the night. It was seeing two maestros in perfect harmony as their instruments spoke to each other. Some audience members had left and missed out on a perfect ending to the evening. Yusuf and Shehroze, you guys rocked the house!

TEDx was in one word: inspirational. I felt refreshed, energized and enlightened. Between breaks and before the show started, sponsor activations were well done. Coke’s photo booth (manned by O’ Shoot Photography) was a great way of taking home a piece of TED with you. There was a nice swag bag, and Umair even asked us to share the ‘tohfa’ that was in each bag with our neighbors in the audience. I got a real inspiring message in the one that was gifted to me by an elegant lady about believing in oneself and not giving up. That’s the message I want to end this write-up with. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

The PS4 has won the Console War!

(Image credit: uproxx.com)

With over 13.5 million units sold according to Sony’s official figures, the PlayStation 4 has already crossed the finish line. That is around 40% more than the Xbox One according to ArsTechnica. The Wii U is a mere spectator. It is time to end the debate once and for all. Sony’s beast from the east was already a clear winner from the start.

Early last year, we had seen it coming. Sony blew everyone away with what the PS4 can do. On E3 2013, we saw the big reveal of the console itself. The sleek and sexy monster was powerful, according to ExtremeTech and screamed next-gen. Microsoft kept hyping up the Xbox One as the all-in-one entertainment machine with Kinect 2.0. PR blunders galore on used games and always-online nonsense, the Japanese juggernauts knew they had won the war before it even started.

Both consoles sold a million units in 24 hours on launch. Microsoft went back on their ridiculous DRM policies but it was already too late. I personally could not find a PS4 in stock anywhere but Xbox Ones were not hard to find. Despite price drops and Kinect-less SKUS, the Xbox One had lost the momentum. The PS4 was designed for success. Not only was it more powerful, it was developer friendly.

To be fair to Xbox One, ‘Titanfall’ was a major exclusive that kept consumer interest. Sony had ‘inFamous Second Son’ and ‘The Last of Us’ remaster. Both consoles relied exceptionally on third party titles on launch for sales but gamers had made their choice. They chose the more powerful console. Now I know, there will be a few who will debate about launch glitches. I will be honest, I knew people with BLOD errors on the PS4. But which recent console launch has not been plagued with glitches and console-killing bugs? Xbox 360 had the RROD and PS3 had YLOD. Xbox One had disc drive issues.

Lot of excellent exclusives and third party titles will be released on both consoles, but it does not matter. The war has been won. New console buyers would want ‘Assassins Creed Unity’, ‘WWE 2K15’, ‘Grand Theft Auto V’, ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ on the better system. We can talk about ‘Sunset Overdrive’, ‘Halo Master Chief Collection’ and ‘Forza Horizon 2’ for the Xbox One in the same way we could about ‘Bloodborne’, ‘The Order 1886’ and ‘Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’ on the PS4.

The case is closed. Sony’s PS4 is the undisputed champion!

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