Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sab se phele Pakistan

Karachi, aka Roshniyon ka shehar, have been, for a long while now, suffering from bouts of darkness, and no, not just because of the frequent blackouts, but due to the bomb blasts, target killings and everything evil.

While discussing our beloved city in one of our team discussions (which we usually have every morning), I broached the point concerning corruption and how everyone from bottom to top is involved in it. This was when a friend pointed out that yes you are right, we are all corrupted, but revolution begins with self, and if something needs to be changed, the change has to start from the bottom, and this change will then proceed upwards affecting everyone it touches when finally even the top will be changed for good.

Bottom, consisting of commoners, and we being commoners, have never thought about this, and even if we have, we just force our minds to think about something else. Even I had never thought of it in this particular way. But my colleague was right. If we want a change to come in our society it has to begin from the bottom. From "US".

Now don't think that "how can WE be corrupted?". Because we are, we all are. And if you think you are not, then ask yourself the following:

1) Have you never cheated in a paper/test/exam? Remember, that just confirming ture/false is cheating?
2) Do you run away from responsibilities which fall on you?
3) Do you concern yourself more with others lives? What someone's wearing? What's the "scene" between that guy and girl? 
4) Do you often lie with/without knowledge?
5) Have you ever found yourself saying ill things about some person or/and then justifying your act by saying "I am not doing geebat these are simply the facts".
6) Do you spend more time gossiping?
7) Do you ask your friend to check-in using your RFID card at office? Or are you the friend?
8) Do you take an off from office for no reason, without even thinking if you have pending work and if it will disturb others?

If you can reply with "no" to all of the above questions then may be you are a better person than most of us. But DO evaluate your everyday life and if you can still claim that  you are not corrupted then maybe you can work towards making others aware of what they are doing wrong and motivating them not to.

And if you say "yes" to even one of the above questions and I will have to say yes to most of the above questions then we need to change our ways, and it's high time that we do. Change our ways, bring betterment in our lives, be better Muslims and, therefore, better human beings. 

It won't be easy, but then again, change never is. Yet we need to change. We need to work towards bringing this change in not only ourselves but others.

A good way to start would be to involve your friends. You can begin with something like this:

Yaar I think we have copied enough assignments, cheated in enough papers, let's do one think this time, let's not cheat. We, being Muslims, should not cheat anyways. Plus, as we have not been caught till now, there is a high chance we will be caught in the future. You can't get lucky every time.. So we will not cheat, we will prepare harder, we will not cheat and we will not let each other cheat as well. What say?

Or may be something like:

When I started this job, I followed the timing rule religiously. I was always, always on time. But now, I have spoiled myself. I don't ever come on time. But this month I have decided that I will check-in at exact 9 or before that, but not later.. Or maybe, one or two minutes late, but only once or twice. Most of the days I'll inshaAllah check-in at or before 9. If Quaid-e-Azam can do it, so can I! I will set my alarm to 7 o'clock so that I can be on time. Shall I wake you up as well?

So, revolutionize. Today. Don't wait for a new year to begin before you state your "Revolutions of the year". Why wait for something when it can be done today? Make a list of what things you should change. Prioritize them according to importance or easiness. Then start with the first one. One change at a time. Then when you have changed this one thing about yourself, then work towards the second on the list. And so on.

(By the way, this is not what I had set to write about.. I had decided to write about something else, but this too was going to be a topic for my next post. But as I have this topic here, a separate post for the actual topic will be pointless, so I will discuss that too here as well.) 

We keep saying that the conditions of Pakistan are Allah's wrath (azaab), the earthquake, the floods, the bomb blasts, the target killings and what not. We give the title of Allah's wrath on our nation for all our sins and corruption and all, and then we just sit around and do nothing about it. Have we become so accustomed to Allah's wrath that it no longer scares us? That we would rather just say it loudly then do anything about it? Is it too, like everything else, just an every day thing for us? Have we become that hard-hearted? 

And if not, then why doesn't anyone do anything about it.

Junaid Jamshaid, in one of his programs which were aired during last Ramzan, said:

Why haven't anyone of his ever asked Allah for forgiveness? He forgives like no one else, then why haven't we tried? How many of us ask Allah to help Pakistan, to save Pakistan? Why don't people ask Allah to forgive Pakistanis for all their sins? If asked with real devotion, maybe we will be forgiven.                                                                                                   (These are not his actual words, just the essence of what I remember he said. Any mistake is unintentional.)

So if we truly believe that what we are going through every other day is Allah's wrath then why don't we ask for forgiveness. Why don't we ask Allah to give us the strength to change our ways and the knowledge to decipher between right and wrong? Why don't we?

Instead, we have become so accustomed to all of this, that it's only seldom that a bomb blast or even a natural calamity really affects us. And it only does, when God forbid some relative or acquaintance is caught in it. Otherwise, we just carry on with our day-to-day lives without so much as flinching, or even worse, consider it an opportunity to take an off. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The war between rivals

Reading the Workplace Sanity column of June 12, 2011 instigated me towards writing this article and penning down what many professional ladies have to go through day in and day out. The person asking for advice believed that the ‘attractive and bold young girls’ in his company own an attitude which in his own words is ‘very seductive’ and although he is not sure if it’s intentional; this behavior is driving him and his colleagues crazy, confused and depressed. Although a perfectly balanced response, both complete and unbiased was given by Workplace Sanity (Rahila Narjeo), I failed to understand since when a seductive attitude from the fairer sex has depressed the sons of Adam.

I believe, or at least, try to (although many forces work towards breaking my resolve), that to judge the character of an entire gender because of the misgivings of one particular person is not fair. As a friend skillfully puts it;

‘koi acha nahi hota, koi bura nahi hota, sab dono dono hotay hain’

‘No one is totally innocent, no one is totally evil, every one has a tinge of both’

But sometimes the forces I talked about above succeed in shredding down my believe into teeny weeny pieces and I end up asking myself
“Why are all guys the same?”

The fact that I got out everyday to earn doesn’t make it alright for people to harass me at every place they can, from bus stops to institutes, from streets to organizations. No one has been blessed with the right to judge others, though this is exactly what we do and certainly what I am doing right now. But to do a little justice to myself, I have been driven to this particular school of thought by (let’s call it) weird experiences of not only myself but many other ladies as well.

Thankfully, I work at a place where there are strict rules for such behavior. And I believe that these policies are the ones that stop them rather than their decency. But, not-so-thankfully, I also happen to belong to a society where woman, no matter what their age, no matter what their educational background, no matter what their values and virtues, are blamed for everything. It is sad to know that ‘larki ne hee kuch kiya ho ga’ mentality still prevails.

This kind of mind set, I understand now, is why most parents don’t allow the women of their household to do jobs, in particular office jobs. Even if families do allow, it is difficult enough for us to get jobs in a society where girls are automatically considered incompetent even before conducting the preliminary test and interviews. And if we do get jobs, by our continuous hard work and determination, and a bucket full of luck, our progress is hindered by the so-called “gentle” man who God knows why are under the misguided impression that they are so utterly and totally handsome that every other girl feels the urge to talk to them.

Here’s a note to the guys:
1)      A smile is just that – a smile. Do you really want us to scowl at you every time we talk? A smile is in fact a representation of good manners and professional attitude.
2)      We dress well and look good so as to follow the work place attire rules. We expect the same from you and will not like much if one day you decide to show up “extra” casual. (And believe me you won’t want the same either). But dressing well, no matter how you look at it except through the manly goggles most of you seem to be wearing, is not an attempt to impress you.
3)      We talk, because we need to. We can’t possible launch a girl’s company within the company just so that you don’t start believing we want to be “more-than-just-friends” with you.
4)      What name will you give to a girl at your workplace/school/college/university who doesn’t smile at you, talks to the point and that too in a harsh manner? That girl you’ll call “akroo”, right? So you can’t actually be happy no matter what we do?
5)      Cut us some slack. Give us some respect.

To the ladies;

No matter what you do? No matter how much you try to safe yourself from such inane thinking, you’ll be called one of two things; seductive or rude. It’s the law of nature to throw at you exactly what you are trying to run away from.
I am in no way trying to scare you off. Not everyone is bad. Out of 100 you’ll find maybe five poor souls who believe themselves to be unsung heroes of some Hollywood blockbuster.

Nor am I advising you to be not careful. Wherever you go, to whatever age group you belong to, you always have to be extra cautious. For your own sake.

But the thing is you can’t stop living just because others have decided to be insane. I’ve seen girls go into a bout of depression, spend living a life-long season of lost self esteem, resigning in the hope of finding a better environment some place else and even worse; believing themselves to be the guilty party.

This is not the way to go on. Thinking that you are the only one receiving such attitude is also a misconception. But you are the only one who can get yourself out, if God forbid, you do find yourself in such a situation.

Here are a few pointers:
1)      When you join a new office or educational institution etc, try to keep a low profile in the beginning. During this time analyze the environment and the people around you. Making friends the very first day will not necessarily be later judged as people-friendly attitude. This same attitude may go against you and get you in trouble. (This happens to be a sound advice for both parties)
2)      Try to notice if any activity is going against your privacy. Putting out un-official email addresses and mobile numbers on a company-wide website is not necessarily a good thing. Anyone who really needs your number may ask you for it. However, do not consider anyone asking for your number an outright pervert. It is a common practice for colleagues to have each other’s number and texting or calling each other as and when needed.
3)      What you consider innocent gossip may in reality be tarnishing someone’s reputation. Reputation and respect of both the genders is equally important. And there is a thick and long line between gossip and warning. Try not to indulge yourself in such activities and stop others when you find them doing the same.

Also keep in mind, that not all ladies are innocent victims. There is good and bad in everyone but in some people the evil forces are far stronger than the pure ones. So blaming just the guys is not healthy either. There is a possibility that they’ve had their share of not-so-pleasant experiences. The better path to choose is to be a little careful and a little stubborn and a lot determined.