Friday, April 27, 2007

Of cricket and men...

In this part of the world there is no escaping the gentlemanly sport of cricket. It is literally everywhere. You go into any kind of establishment whether it be a restaurant, guesthouse, watch shop, barber shop, you name it... there's a television set on with highlights or a match.

The fever of World Cup is a little less than what is normally experienced here since Pakistan's team exhibited an embarrassing outing and was ousted. In addition to that the mysterious death of head coach Bob Woolmer increased to the drama and I remember the 'conspiracy' theories spit out from some of the locals. It was absolutely entertaining to hear some of them come out of people's mouths and I sat back and just wondered... what goes on in that head of theirs, or are they just Pattan?! ;) Nonetheless, cricket in way, shape or form did not escape their lips.

I have to admit that I've watched a handful of matches and didn't know the difference between a wicket and an over. Since being in the sub-continent and seeing this game played in all types of venues I have been since educated. No matter where I went during my travels here, I would see kids in all places enjoying this sport. Seeing the poorest of folk playing this game with whatever they could get their hands on to represent the cricket bat and ball just showed me how rich they were, the love for the game, the happiness shared with friends and family and an ability to disappear from one world to another as long as someone was bowling.

The World Cup final is tonight and I am looking forward to watching. Not as much as I enjoyed the other matches though. This final is a David and Goliath story with no happy ending for me. For I am a Sri Lankan supporter from the very beginning of the world cup. Initially my support was won over by their stellar uniforms ;) Then as the World Cup progressed and I had actually been watching I soon discovered the passion within the team and favored them. If there is a David and Goliath story that I can reference to then there is a possibility that it can occur once more. I am rooting for the underdog as one should always do. They have the most passion and are more hungry for the victory dance than their opponent.

The greatest mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or in defeat. Let nature take its course, and you tools will strike at the right moment. Bruce Lee

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Aftermath I usually went to physics...

I've had a couple days to reflect and distract myself from that which has been occupying my thoughts for the past while. I could go into details about how this happened or what happened or perhaps even describe to a certain extent why it happened... but I won't. Let's just say everything happens for their reasons and that is all I need to know. What will be will be. I am however grateful for my two brothers and the way they have supported me, especially my mother this week. My eldest brother flew in to surprise my mom and to be with her during an extremely difficult time. My other brother will be coming to spend the weekend with her for the prayers that are being offered for my father. I had a difficult time and felt helpless not being able to be with my mother. The simple gestures can mean the greatest and I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her that I loved her with immense intensity. Thank you Salman and Gibran for being my brothers and loving mom the way that you do.

I am more than suffocated now with family and my stay in Islamabad. I feel constricted and am toted around like a child from one place to the next without even a consultation if I would be interested in going. The day of my father's barsi I was dragged off to some posh restaurant to sit with the former Chief Justice of Pakistan, some sportscaster from GeoTV and another significant person in Islamabad that I deemed insignificant ;) I sat there speechless and off in my own world. It made me realize how little my family actually knows me.

I was in no mood to attend people's homes the next day after my experience. I knew how I would be and just needed some time to myself, why is that so hard to understand? Instead I'm brought into hugs so tight I can barely breathe, more phone calls to attend and visits from people just to make sure that I'm 'ok', the complete opposite of what I want and needed.

So fortunate for me in the nick of time I was whisked away to the land of Wah Cantt neighbour to Taxila containing the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takshashila (also Takkasila) an important Vedic/Hindu and Buddhist centre of learning from the 6th century BCE to the 5th century CE. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations. Upon arriving I was asked why I don't like Pakistan. I thought it to be a funny question. It was elaborated on and the explanation was through the family grapevine someone was told that I liked India more and that's why I was going back. They are two completely different entities to me. In India I was free to roam, independent and when I wanted to do something it was within me to do so. In Pakistan however I feel as though I am rotting away just like the meat that hangs in the bazar with flies roaming around it waiting to be plucked from it's dangling existence and consumed. I am in Pakistan yet I have yet to experience it. The historical significance and sights are oblivious to me. I spent two weeks in Lahore and all I saw was a fingertip of what could be experienced. I'm always blocked by family offering to take me to see what I want to see and it always turns out that I get to see one thing and not the rest. If I were to head out on my own I would go from one place to another, handle this thing or the other and occupy my day to it's fullest. Taxila is home to major historical significance in sub-continental legends. It is referenced in the Mahābhārata and in the Indian epic Rāmāyaṇa (I highly recommend it for fantastical tales and folklore). My cousin-brother is going to accommodate me seeing everything that I wanted to see. He understands the flow in which I travel with and knows that I wish to discover not only family but the land that houses them.

Everything you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows

Monday, April 23, 2007

Suffocating self reliance... (cont'd)

Resting peacefully...
Originally uploaded by theusual.
Headed back into the vehicle which was now loaded up with plants and flowers we made our way to Rawalpindi. Rawalpindi is the home to the resting place of my father. It was time to get what I wanted to do for so long done. I wanted to tend to my father's grave and make sure that it was neat and tidy. Not to mention that I had to have a long overdue conversation with him.

We arrived and I began cleaning up the weeds and the weed from my father's plot. We were in need of water so I sent Shaqeel to procure some. This gave me the time alone to have my conversation. As I was having my discussion I must have said something to anger my father for the winds picked up and in the distance ominous clouds encroached with haste. The wind was picking up all the sand and dirt in it's path and throwing it against my face. I just closed my eyes and continued digging while talking. Lightning started flashing and it's thunderous boom cracked above. I must have really pissed him off and tried to figure out what it was that I said, as per usual some of my statements made to or with my father resulted in the lightning bolts slung from Mt. Olympus. That was our relationship - he the sandpaper and I the rough stone. Friction aside, we were friends and he listened to me, not always with approval, but he listened. If enough sandpaper is applied to a rough stone it shall one day come out shiny and polished. He always said that if there was ever a problem that I should come to him, I wished I would have started earlier, listening wasn't always my strong point.

The violent winds ceased and reduced to gusts. I shared with him some news of my life that I really wanted him to experience. It is with great sadness that he physically will not be able to be there, but he will be there. It was nice to share with him and he didn't have much to say about it which was even better. The plants had been planted and the three flowers in the center to represent his three wonderful sons were set. As if to say that he approved of everything rain drops came from the sky as if to wash away the anger and let me know that things begin with a seed only to bloom. Life.

The anniversary of his death is coming up on the 24th and I just wanted to let him know that his sons and his magnificent wife loves him very much. I will return on Tuesday to make sure everything is everything and to plant the flower for my mother. The one that stands tall and endures the tests of time only to show it's resilience and beauty to all that come across her.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Head for the hills...

The Pakistan Transports...
Originally uploaded by theusual.
Just a quick note about my excursion over the weekend. I headed for Murree and Nathia Gali. My first time to visit Murree, a hill station. Beautiful setting in the hills and valleys full of tourists from all over Pakistan. From romantic excursion filled with feeding each other ice cream to families just getting away from the city to enjoy good company, good chai and good scenery. We left late on Saturday and the way to Murree along the twisty and winding roads was filled with transport trucks. I have now a new passion of taking pictures of these beautifully decorated moving shrines.

This family excursion was fun for I was now transformed into Chachu Khayyam (Uncle). I handled children with love and care, shared in silliness and experienced family excursions in Pakistan. The road trip means something a little different around these parts and I truly do enjoy them. I look forward to many to come.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday's slow roll...

My only goal today was to remain in my pajamas for the duration of the day. It is officially past the midnight hour in these neck of the woods so I'm going to have to report back that the mission was successfully accomplished.

I procured a copy on digital versatile disc of Ghost Rider and Perfume when I was at the market the other day. Ghost Rider is based off of a Marvel comic premise that looked like a sound investment for the motion, picture and sound. Near the end of this picture, the sound was lost. In that moment where the motion was no more, I was lured into a trap in the living room. My hair was straightened, yes straightened. You ask how can this be? After two hours of hair ironing and detangling the hair was straight, well, looked more like the troll doll you'd find at the end of an HB pencil in sixth grade, but straighter nonetheless. After this a full treatment of mustard seed oil was doused into my salad and was ready to marinate. And marinate it did. I have to admit looking myself in the mirror gave me flashbacks of a seventies Detroit pimp soaking up a storm. Past lives are hard to shake I guess ;)

From there I wandered back to my computer and began organizing files and appropriating them according to their purpose and content. Eventful, I know... but so calming. In that calmness I was completely distracted towards some artistic en devours that led me playing and experimenting myself into great exercise.

Oh, let's see what came next in this hectic day... umm... then I made way to the world wide internet. The patience that I was exhibiting impressed me. You really take some things for granted. For example, checking your email is as effortless as to inhale, whereas here you're fighting to even exhale. The pollen count of norm is approximately 160 per cubic meter and in Islamabad right now it's 1,260 per cubic meter, I wasn't kidding about breathing. It takes me twenty minutes just to log into my email account. Time like these I have my back in Canada moments. A great exercise in my own patience.

I talked to the sunshine today. I don't know if you've ever had the chance to speak before, but I wish that everyone once in their lives could share a finely balanced moment of sunshine and moonlight. It is quite an experience and makes your temperature rise. Give it a whirl, get out in the sun.
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Suess
The evening progressed and then came the moment of make it or break it pajama day. I had finished eating and felt the need for a walk to off set the enormous portions of oil and meat I've been served these past couple of months. I had to change, or did I? I switched my top for a t shirt and kept the bottoms. I managed to keep on my pajamas. I set of into the dust and pollen and clicked about with my chappals. Amazing that I was walking along and felt someone behind me, but when I turned around no one was there ; ) Beautiful neighborhood where my cousin lives, well to do area that's safe at night for women and children to walk about in without any precursors. I came across two gents leaning up against a pole lampin' just having a conversation in the middle of the street. Then came the miscellaneous little shops that were open along the main roads. Back into the residential areas and this is where I found something of interest happen to me. I must be starting to look like a desi (local) because a taxi pulled up and asked me for directions ;) Headed back and met with the end of the initial lamp post conversation that began the walk. Just two guys hanging out, one can't go too far from home so the other walks over to his house. They cross the street so their conversation isn't within their parental unit's ears or any aunti ji's aren't eavesdropping. It was a swimmingly fantastic evening in Islamabad.

It was nice to slow my roll and have a slow simmer on a lazy, mazy Friday.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Suffocating self reliance...

I am stifled by the suffocating silencing of my independence. I am dependent on people to take me from one place to another. I run on other people's schedules and can't even entertain having one of my own. It's very difficult and I am losing my breath.

Last weekend I wanted to go to a nursery/greenhouse and get some plants and flowers to properly attire my father's resting place in Rawalpindi. Circumstances that were not in my control said otherwise. I was whisked to this place and then to that place and then locked away in an office for an entire day. Plans of a Sunday morning breakfast vanished and I was to take sympathy with my cousin. None of my needs of the weekend were met, a promise I made was broken and time won't come back.

I decided to ask my cousin Inam to borrow his vehicle so that I could get my things done. I have a lot of them and no one will let me take a rickshaw, they'll take me. We'll 'they'll take me' means that I usually have to twiddle my thumbs for hours on end before I reach my destination. I need not any more calluses on my thumbs, they've done enough twiddling for two months.

So off I went at 7am to the office with Inam. I was dressed completely inappropriately for an office setting and having none of my belongings with me. We enjoyed a great breakfast of chana masala, naan and cow brains. Yup, I had brains for breakfast ;) Ya, I don't get it either. All this consuming of animals tends to make people act like their respective animals they eat I think. I cannot wait to return to a proper diet sans the artery filling read meat and oil. I take smaller portions that most and don't take any of the shorba (the juice of the dish) and intense looks of "Is this boy ok?", "What's wrong with you?" or "How can you eat so little?". I can do so because I have seen what not doing so can do to those whom you love. I've learned a lot of lessons the hard way, this isn't one that I would like to entertain.

On with the story... the car was being cleaned and I thought afterwards I could just head back to the house, change into the appropriate clothing for the tasks of the day and grab all the essentials. Nope. Not going to happen. I had made arrangements with my nephew to grab him at school at 10am. The nephew happened to be Inam's son and so I told him of my plans to have Shaqeel at my side during the day to get me from place to place. He got on the phone with him and said this and that. This and that for me was that he'll be driving us. That's fine as long as we could leave soon so I could get my tasks done. Half an hour turned into and hour and then it decided to double and land up being a couple of hours. I sat in that office for five hours, five hours I could have been using so much more productively. I was upset with myself as well as my cousin for leading me down a road to what was to lead me to my independence.

Finally got a move on at about three in the afternoon and the car in my possession to wander about in. So I headed to Mr. Books in Sector F6 to find some Lonely Planet guides for my upcoming travels. Couldn't believe the prices they were asking and walked out. Have I become a cheapskate? The Indian experiences have caused me to respect the value of a rupee and always know I can always get it for cheaper ;) So off Shaqeel and I went to the Diplomatic Enclave to check up on the visa. I found out that my application had been sitting in Toronto for two weeks collecting dust and had them fax it to the Vancouver office. Mr. Rakesh in the Vancouver office instructed me that they cleared it almost immediately and they attempted faxing it to the Islamabad office but with no success. They will attempt it again and if I don't get it today, then try the next day. The funny thing about arriving at the Enclave this time was everyone knew me. As I walked by the mobile check, the guy hollars out, "Khayyam bhai... kee haal hai?" (Hey Khayyam brother, how are you doing?). The bus ticket guy smiled with recognition and didn't even ask me to 'Prove my identity'. The security guard that pats you down showed me something that resembled a smile compared to his steely grill that I'm usually greeted with. The guy who collects the tickets for the bus came over to shake my hand and offer his 'Salaam' and the bus driver gave me water after finding out the little store was fresh out of cold and warm water.

I walked up to the embassy and the gentlemen who had previously, I was about to write helped me, but rather spoke with me was there smiling. I knew something was a wry. So I just asked him if he received the fax. He said no. I told him that he should have received it and asked if they leave their fax machines on at night. He told me he would get in contact with me when it arrives. I asked him how and he responded that I left a number on my application. As if any of these lazy people would be bothered to pick up a phone and dial ten digits to save their lives. For some reason, it no longer mattered though. Everything was in it's motion to completion and I had everything thing bureaucratically dependent, sorted.

[to be continued]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Carcinogenic complexities...

I am not in practice of sharing the intimate details of my family, but today I had a tremendously different day. I called my tayyee ji (great aunt) and was welcomed with a very weak voice and she told me that she hadn't been feeling that well that morning. So I told her I would make arrangements to stop by. Right after I finished talking with her I called my chachi Gul (my aunt) and asked her what was going on. She explained to me that tayyee ji had cancer and that because of her age that she would not likely be a candidate for chemotherapy. This came to me as a complete shock. I had no idea of any such illness. I began discussing it with Inam (her son) and he pretty much told me that they keep her out of the loop as to the severity of her illness and that it's in God's hands. I was floored.

First of all, it's hard to take in that her own sons are that protective of her and won't allow her to know the condition of her conditions. Secondly, I just got to Pakistan and just meeting everyone, I don't want to lose any of them just yet. There are so many cups of chai to be had and laughs to be shared. My mother tongue is coming along and the frustration and reservations of calling people is slowly dissipating. It's only a little more time and my conversational skills will be top notch. What I'm trying to say is that it took me thirty years to have these members of my family truly enter my life. To see children grow, learn and pick up silly habits from me or just the fact that I can just go and visit cousins and aunts and uncles, oh my...

I went to the house to visit tayyee ji with the energy and mood in the house being quite sullen. It immediately hit me like a ton of bricks. Seeing her in such a fragile and weak state transported me back to my experiences with my father in the hospital. I was off with memories of illness. It was happening again. This time to a woman whom I can call my mother, she has that much motherly love in her to give and to see the love that is returned to her is astounding. Family is constantly passing through the door to pay her love and dua (prayers). It's almost as if she is the queen of the royal blood and all come to pay respect and hail to the queen.

The ride back to Islamabad is about 35 minutes and the whole way I wandered off in some other realm of thought. I was so saddened that it took me this long to find what I've been looking for and it had to be set in motion by such a series of unfortunate events. I am so much richer and wiser for it now and can't tell you how much it means to be able to physically hug and share in my family's company. Which made me realize that I talk to family here more than I do my own brothers. I've been imposed with the way in which everyone exists with family and have no other ability than to impose it upon mine now ;)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My foreign affairs...

The Diplomatic Enclave
Originally uploaded by iamkhayyam.
Today I spent the day at the house in Islamabad watching old Rishi Kapoor music videos from the 70's Bollywood era. It surprises me as to how modern and cutting edge the leading ladies were. I find them to be much more attractive than the ladies of today's Bollywood movies for they had no need for make up. One song stood out from all of them and I have committed myself to having this be my first song that I am able to perform in my mother tongue. The first lines of the song translated are, "I am no poet. But upon seeing your beauty I speak in poems." The simple nature of the statements are wise beyond measure. The simplicity of the poetry sung makes it all that more intriguing to learn, not to mention I've finally understood that running around a tree is indeed romantic ;)

Ah, the lounging was over and mid afternoon hit. I had only one task to complete and that was to head to the Diplomatic Enclave and visit the Indian High Commission to see where my application was. The apparent concern with my application was the exit visa stamp. How could it pose a problem? They gave me an exit visa, otherwise I'd be quite uncomfortable in a jail cell. So... again I will have to call the High Commissions in Toronto. They have sent my application there for some reason and since being sent twice to them I have yet to hear anything in due course ;)

There was a light that shone bright and beautiful in my day however. I ventured back over to the bus stand to wait for the 'diplomatic express'. Only one other gentlemen was waiting for it. He sported an English accent and we began to jest about our situations. He explained his dilemma and I, mine. That's what you do in the embassy, find another to empathize and sympathize with, or so it seems - this one's name was Anthony ;) He shared with me that forty five years to being present in this moment he had travelled around the world in a Land Rover with one of his comrades. Started off from the UK and traversed Europe onwards to the middle east and eventually through Pakistan and into India; onwards to the South Pacific and ferried the vehicle to Canada and commenced his cross Rockies and Canada tour. He even knew about Saskatoon since he had made it a pit stop. What a wonderful man and his stories were magnified by the absolutely sharp recollection of what transpired. We sat on the bus together and continued the exchange of traveller's notes, information and it turns out he's a lecturer in the tourism industry and is a certified worldy tourist guide.

This man's presence in my day made every bad thing seem right. It didn't matter anymore what was going on because it was supposed to be going on. Just being able enjoy his company for that half of an hour was a blessing.

Thank you Anthony and I wish that everything works out, you met your daughter and had a nice bed waiting for you ;) You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Feeling the guilt of four wives...

I love family, I really do. The teasing continues and I play along. Upon arriving in Rawalpindi I was greeted with statements like, Oh, you still remember me?; You haven't gone back to India yet?; Why are you afraid of Pakistan?; Why won't you shift here?; Why didn't you call? or my favorite, You don't love us?

I gladly respond to tease back that I have one wife in Canada, one in India, looking for one in Pakistan and have arranged for another one in Indonesia and haven't had the time. Oh the guilt that this family wields upon you. And I wonder why my parents coated statements with guilt; it runs in the family ;)

Now I pose a question upon anyone that reads this, what is guilt? Is it a feeling? Because everyone seems to say that they "feel" guilty about this or they "feel" guilty about that. How is it that you can "feel" guilty? Guilt is now classified as an emotion? I disagree vehemently. I've had conversations about this with many a friend and foe and have come to the realization that guilt is a thought, not a feeling.

Shame is what is felt due to the guilty thoughts that run amok in one's mind. Replace the words and you have it right. I feel shameful about not calling family, I feel shame for not being able to speak my mother tongue, I feel shame for my family for thinking that I don't love them, bottom line is that I feel shame and not guilt. Slipping me statements that are a catalyst to the thoughts of guilt, this is the way that these people impose their love? Since they are family, I've learned how to be family. I wield my own witty guilt and sport it equally and more convincingly now.

The crux is this, there is healthy shame and there is unhealthy shame. It is completely normal to have those thoughts fuel feelings of healthy shame, for that healthy shame will allow you to make different choices. That unhealthy shame will only compound your feelings of shame and thoughts of guilt. Learn to differentiate and grow.

A discussion ensued after my smart remarks of having four wives. The room filled with four women and myself discussing the fact that a Muslim man can marry four wives. What a crock pot full of burnt chana masala. I do have some reservations to any organized religion that allows the unfair treatment of another human being. Ah yes, the reason why a Muslim man is allowed to have four wives is to ensure fidelity. If a man has a wife and a mistress, God forbid, for this is a sin and you will have to answer for this wrong doing. But, if a man has more than one wife it tapers his need to be adulterous. The wives are in full awareness of his non-adulterous acts now, all if forgiven. At least he's not sneaking around making attempts to produce a cricket team, he does it in plain view. The wives are not allowed to stray however and have to be accepting of their man's choices to have more wives. Complete hogwash.

I guess I might want another wife if I had an arranged marriage, simply for the reason that the families would merge and produce a mutually beneficial partnership. I would learn to love my wife but might want another because my parents didn't have my best interests in mind. So if I wasn't happy with the first arrangement I could make others. Don't think I can condone it or even entertain it. I am of the belief that there is one woman in my existence in this form whom I will love the longest and most. She will never be treated unequal to myself and I will have no need to be adulterous for there is no other. It's that wrinkly hand holding porch love.

A familiar Jalal ad-Din Rumi quote found me recently that communicates this feeling:
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you,
not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.

When you get married and become a family, what is of utmost importance? Yes, that's right ;) Nothing else matters. They are paramount in your existence. Whether you are of this religion or that religion or this belief or that belief - bottom line is it always comes down to LOVE.

Love is my religion and it is the universal religion. Feel that and think what you want ;)

Friday, April 13, 2007

¿Cerveza por favor?

Just another piece of promotional material, well... self promotion I guess ;) Nonetheless, it's something I made and I'll share. It's nice to be able to get lost in so many ways while travelling; lost in the land, lost in surroundings, lost in family and lost in creation. So as you can see, I'm otherwise fully engaged. The pursuit of happiness has never been so easy. It is real, it is a way and most of all, it's relaxing. Peacefully co-existing and co-creating with the full support of the universe with the only limitation being your imagination. It's the attention to detail that I love the most... see if you can see what I can see on the luckiest of unlucky Fridays that are the thirteenth ;)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Smile ;)

Once again I am at the Diplomatic Enclave. Sitting on the corner on an unhealthy patch of grass which resonates how my health is at the moment. I sit contemplating the metal erected monument of the planet we reside upon. I can't help but wonder what we have done to our Mother, Ma. The damage we've done, the endless selfishness of taking, taking and taking. Reminds me of the story of gold that I recently heard.
Do you know the story of gold? Gold itself told me this story: 'I was resting peacefully in the womb of my mother, Earth, when men came and dug into Her and dragged me from my home. Then they tortured me by burning and melting me and forming me into new shapes. But I have altered their minds so that they do not keep me outside working for them; instead they keep me hidden in dark, cool vaults, very much like my mother's womb. I have cursed them for tormenting me, and now they torment each other over possessing me.'
Aghora III: The Law of Karma (Robert E. Svoboda)
I am sitting with an egressed mood that is unsettling. At one point in time I was rushed but the course which I am circumambulating has other plans. I have left the Enclave with passport in hand. Attached crudely to the back side of the leather bound representation of the country that I call home is a blue thin slip of paper. It reads on the appropriate check box: Application under progress. Applicant will be informed in due course. Great! (with the most sarcastic, yet accepting tone possible ;) Who is going to inform me? When is due course? And most importantly how are they going to inform me? I received no definite answers from the lackadaisical employed person of the High Commission to my queries except for yes, yes to all. I could have taken advantage of this opportunity and treated this man like the fortune teller at the amusement park... Will I be happy? Yes. Can I have my visa? Yes. Are you and idiot? Yes. I did however ascertain that the stench of marijuana permeating through the thick air has created some of the laziest workforce in bureaucracy, oh wait, I guess that has nothing to do with it ;) So I am left with seven days on my Pakistani visa, a motorbike in India that might not be there when I get back now which I would like to sell to fuel the remainder of my due course. Time I don't have a lot of yet there is always time. I could courier my passport back to Canada and spend over $150 more to get my visa (which I don't even know if I can do since I applied for it in Pakistan initially). I need to apply for my NICOP card (allows me visa-free entry into Pakistan for ten years) here which requires NADRA to have my passport for a duration of at least two weeks. I need an extension now for my Pakistani visa I've realized, or I could just fly to another country and make use of the time, but still I'd have to wait my two weeks before getting my NICOP card. Ok, scrap that rant.

Oh the perils and conundrums of being Pakistani or better yet, me ;) Truly the (mis)adventures of Khayyam Wakil.

So I will investigate my possibilities this evening and see what I create. The most interesting thing just happened as I wrote that last statement down. I have to rewind a little bit to describe my surroundings. I went with my cousin-brother's work place with him, the National Bank of Pakistan. Pickup time for passports was between the hours of three and five. A four bells we departed from his office and he dropped me off at the Enclave and I just told him I would ring him when I was done, should be only half and hour to forty five minutes. It was in that window that I reappeared from the Enclave, repossessed my mobile and dialed him up. He instructed me to walk down Constitution Avenue until I saw the NBP sign on the left. I told him I would ring him when I came across it. So I called and he wasn't even there. He had arranged for the manager of this branch to give me a lift. So I endured and continued writing my tales. As I made my last point of what I intended to create, I looked up. Before me was a sign on the wall that must have been printed off by an employee that read, "SMILE AND MAKE OTHERS SMILE". That completely reinforces who I am, how I deal with situations and instructions how to live.

So in retrospect, I have time on my hands and under my feet. I have some more family to get to know, familiarize myself with the internal politics that comes with having such a large and nosy family and an opportunity to see the majestic side of Pakistan. I am now setting my intentions to head to the northern most extremes to seek refuge in the mountains. The Karakoram Highway will be my guide and solace my companion. I have begun to lose the feelings that I have embraced and that little voice keeps on getting louder. Time to press mute...

Monday, April 09, 2007

I lost my train of thought...

I finally decided to get on with my movement and departed Lahore. I was suggested to take the train from Lahore to Rawalpindi. I have used almost all imaginable transportation in India: bicycle, every rickshaw known, horse, pony, motorcycle, car, train, bus, hitchhiking, pony and cart... I think you get the point. So I ventured on the rail systems of Pakistan to experience the experience. I have to tell you that this train was fantastic. This is the only way I will travel between these two cities from now on. I was feeling anxious on my way to the station though. It has been a while since I've travelled unfamiliar territories and foreign transportation. I sat in the Parlor car and next to me was a man I was always supposed to meet. Kismut.

There was a young man wandering the car asking anyone for ice cream, water, 7up, Pepsi, food, McDonald's, coffee and chai. I bit on the chai. I was finally aboard, all my belonging in the overhead racks and the anxiety of foreign affairs was now over. I just wanted a chai to settle down and relax with. The gentleman sitting beside me told me that the rail service provides you with chai and it's much better. I explained that I just wanted a cup now. I slipped back into English with that last statement and that intrigued him. He of course asked me where I was from and then the conversation ensued. I explained that I was just wandering about the sub-continent and purchased a motorbike out of the blue and just kept on driving. His eyes lit up like a kid eating candy. Younis then asked me what kind of bike and I replied, Royal Enfield. He began telling me of his passion of motorcycles and that he owned a vintage BSA and BMW. He is my new contact for purchasing a vintage motorcycle ;)

We carried on enjoying each other's company. And the stories, magnificent - some horrific though. They ranged from the history of the motorcycles in Pakistan and India and where to find what kind in what area. Younis told me that he most usually gets a window seat to enjoy the scenery along the way because if another Pakistani was sitting next to him, they would remain stiff, quiet and unfriendly. I had the window seat and this trip he had something out of the ordinary to sit beside, again reinforcing my beliefs. He told me the reason why everyone is to themselves is that they are fearful. Fearful of what could happen next. No one know what to expect in Pakistan of one another. He shared with me a story of how his son came running into the house, out of breath and told him that just down the block he had been robbed at gun point for his personal effects. Younis dialed 15 (911 equivalent) and no police we to be seen or heard from. But the tuggees (the origin of our commonly used term, "thug") came back. In the meanwhile, Younis, his son and nephew were all wielding guns and headed into to their car to engage in a chase. The tuggee opened fire on them and they returned fire. This was all happening in proper Lahore?! After the wild west shoot out Younis's son was having trouble walking. He took off his shoe and it was bleeding. A bullet found it's way into the side of his foot and was lodged there. I guess that's what happens when you play with guns, someone is bound to get hurt or worse. I could imagine this happening in Peshawar which is the wild west, but in Lahore?

Younis was a refreshing drink of water on what otherwise would be a sand filled train. This man, or rather I should say young man in an aging body was wonderful company and I look forward to meeting his family when I return to Lahore. We were instantly friends even though years of experience and upbringing separated us. It mattered none in those moments, we were long lost friends catching up it seemed. Not only did I meet with my new old friend but I have continued experiences that I have no other explanation for than it was always supposed to be this way.

Thank you for making my life a constant mystery, the illusions of confusion and for losing my train of thought...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In Rasta We Trust...

I have left the house a handful of times since being in Lahore. The 100+ degree fever seemed to keep me quite content with curtains drawn, mosquito coils burning and uselessly wasting my time. I wouldn't say wasting, rather not using it constructively. So I used the time to be a little creative. I've taken something old and made it even older. It is truly glorious to make whatever vision that comes into your head and somehow push pixels in order to have it match. So I guess if you're in the know, then know this... chicken, reggae and Appleton's can get a party started ;) I'm finally able to go outside, but the energy drain doesn't even fuel me to jump in a rickshaw and just go. I don't have the drive to just go... Whattagwon?!

Life throws you twists and turns, fevers and hospital trips. I've now taken advantage of the 'resting' time and plunged in to the world wide webs of the information super highway. That's right, the internet - I hate it, but I love it.

I've been looking at flights, insurance, employment, pictures, tweaking blogs, reading articles, newspapers, downloading music, seeing what movies are worthy of wasting my time on... I think you get the idea. I haven't really assumed this kind of role since being back home. I now realize that it is such a bad way to exist and I'm much too proficient at it. Forgetting to eat, ignoring people around you, not sleeping and most importantly... my posture. I can see the rewards of doing it from time to time, but seriously... I've been overdoing it. No need to make puppies any more.
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
Walk away from the computer" says the voice.

I've snapped and am walking away from the computer. I just wanted to vent my findings and frustrations. There, done... all better.

I'll leave you with something to ponder:
What happens when an unstoppable force meet an unmovable object?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

This April's Full...

April Fool's is filled with hoaxes and practical jokes that usually send the victim on a fools' errand. What would be a fools' errand? Is what I'm currently on, a fools' errand? What does the Fool even represent?

The Fool represents our innocence, creativity, spontaneity and our inner child. And the essence of this Fool?

Trust, as the Fool is self-confident and believes that the universe will provide him with what he needs. We still have the essence of the Fool; the innocence of the soul. The Fool himself is now better equipped as he has experienced the good and bad in life (shown in his costume). The Fool does not seem to be affected with the harshness (the bandage) or goodness (pearls) of life as he takes them on his side and carries on his journey. A carefree attitude and youthful energy; the Fool is willing to experience life (good and bad) and will be the driving force for his travels. No concern for the past as the Fool lives in the present and wants to explore new horizons (the Future), in order to learn his place in the universe. The Fool carries his belongings (his experience from life) on his back without a stick. He bears the weight of his past directly on his back and it does not seem to have an effect on him. And transformation, as during his wanderings the Fool will learn to achieve unity and/or enlightenment. The cycle of life from birth to death and then rebirth again. [ANSATA TAROT]

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I guess I'm a Fool...
Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever.
Charles Lamb (1775-1834)

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