Oct 30, 2008

Will Ferrell and Tina Fey as George Bush and Sarah Palin.

Ferrell: Hello my fellow Americans. I've chosen to schedule this impromptu address at night. Because quite frankly every time I address in the afternoon the stock market goes to the crapper. I've come to you tonight amidst a very important election between two very qualified candidates. The Hot Lady and the Tiger Woods guy. And yes I did have three Xanaxes and a silver bullet about half an hour ago. I'm outta here in a few months so screw it! *creepy giggle* Now let's bring out here Governor Sarah Palin and Sentaor McCain.

Fey: It's so nice to meet you, President Bush. I've seen you on TV. But unfortunately Senator McCain upon hearing that you want to make him a super-public endorsement - cannot be found.

Ferrell: George Bush always finds his man save for one huge exception.

Fey: Yep, we're going to get 'er done!

Team Arctic guy brings in McCain (played by Darrell Hammond).

Ferrell: (shakes hands as McCain tries to tug his hand away) Hey let's get a photo of this. Lemme do this. I, George W. Bush, endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin. (McCain tugs to leave, GW doesn't let go.) John was there for me 90% of the time for past ten years. When you think john mccain think of me. Think of this face when you're in the voting, before you vote, picture this face.

Oct 29, 2008

"How to Steal a Million (1966)"

I return with an ode to Audrey Hepburn, who, in this flick, plays the granddaughter of art-forgerer Bonnet. Her grandfather, out of obsession, out of a sense of adventure, likes fooling art-lovers and museum curators that he is in possession of pieces by none other than Monet and Van Gogh and since,

Bonnet: American millionaires must be all quite mad. Perhaps it's something they put in the ink when they print the money.

The film is considerably glib with characters that are justifiably witty (one's an art-lover, one's an art thief, and one's an heiress). Consider this:

Nicole Bonnet: I didn't want to keep you waiting, so I got engaged to him. Is it alright? Am I on time?
Simon Dermott: Perfectly. In fact, we have ten more minutes, so if you want to go back and marry him?

The film is 2 hours long and passes with enough enjoyment if you're an art-lover or an Audrey Hepburn fan.

Oct 26, 2008

Frantic update I.

  • Work is killing me.
  • Sarah Palin is stupid.
  • Humanistic Counseling rocks. My future career is suddenly all-the-more clearer.
  • Writing plays is not easy. I have newfound respect for Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams and Anwar Maqsood.
  • I'm reading "Half Blood Prince" for the umpteenth time.
  • I had a 'near-death' experience. Our car almost collided into a bridge on a very busy, a very fast lane last night. I have newfound respect for life. Which didn't last very long - but anyway.
  • Facebooking through Iphone is boring.
  • You can't blog through your Iphone or your N95 either. Unless you want to go mad with frustration or blind after straining your eyes to read one word.
  • My wedding gharara is going to be blood red. *dreamy grin*
  • Madrassah started again. This time new teachers. I keep telling them I'm going to question everything about Islam and faith, so they should be prepared. Fariya Baji says she has also told them about M and I. So yay.
  • Our UPS has gone to hell so we're literally living in the "Dark Ages" now that KESC has decided to push tolerance levels even further.
  • I'm talking about electricity ... so that means I'm outta stuff right now. Or that I just want to begin venting (and who the hell wants to hear that, right?) ... so.

Until then, folks. Until I get a new video graphics card. See you on Facebook or email.

Oct 19, 2008


Can you believe it?

I just called Ather-Shehzad Studio.

Shahzad Raza charges THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND RUPEES for bridal makeup.

And if youwant him to come to Karachi, he will charge you extra ...

PLUS ...

YOU have to give him a Business Class ticket and five star stay.

Shahzad's assistant charges one hundred thousand. You can give him an economy class ticket and stay.


Mom still thinks I'm joking. Even though I made the call in front of her.

Does this mean we no longer live in the good ol' days where looking beautiful came naturally?

But now it has to come with a private jet and a bank balance?

Oct 17, 2008

"Wait Until Dark (1967)"

What starts as simply a creepy thriller ends up being an intelligent, well-crafted film with Audrey Hepburn outclassing everything else onscreen with her portrayal of the "world's champion blind woman" being tricked by a set of crooks. Wait Until Dark promises more to the audiences in its one sequence than at least 20 of those Final Destination-type blood-and-gore-filled flicks.

I absolutely and wholeheartedly fell in love with the talent Hepburn has. She has been irreplaceable. Alan Arkin has played the psychopathic villain brilliantly, his performance pairing up well with Hepburn's. Great watch, splendid cast and a plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat for sure. Stop wasting time. Go watch.

Oct 15, 2008

Frankly, m'dear ...

I'm tired.

I'm tired of the same old swagger of the whiz kids and the biz kids at the university. Tired of the petty shameful politics, the insecure staff and the immensely self-conscious brats that walk through the halls decking it with their shallow intentions (I showed them August Rush and one kid said he liked 'the larki/girl' the best). I am tired of trying to write a script that can change the trend of the university to do shitty plays and begin it on a more classical, less third-grade path by trying to write a play with enough oomph to hook in the hoi polloi and enough jazz to let me look at myself in the mirror with a clear conscience.

I am tired of this. This is not what I wanted from teaching.

Having said that, I refuse to quit or give up (wish I'd learnt to though, it's such a blessing sometimes) on something I've promised myself I will end properly. So ploughing through is a teacher who is quite OUT of ideas right now. So any helpful hints on how to tolerate 160 18-year-olds will be appreciated.

And by tolerate I mean to hold out for the next 9 weeks without bombing their brains (or mine) out, managing a million (or plus) rupee function, checking mid and final term papers and saying good bye to university once and for all.

Oh and by the way. Readers of this blog, join The Black Mirror Network on Facebook. Confirmations on the author will be appreciated. And if you're too stingy to take time out to help a pathetic, miserable old teacher feel better, then fie on you.


Oct 11, 2008

Living for the only thing I know.

It helps to see things from that rose-colored glass. Even cynics do it when they need it.

They just don't like to admit it much.

Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you

Forgetting all I'm lacking
Completely incomplete
I'll take your invitation
You take all of me now...

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

There's nothing else to lose
There's nothing else to find
There's nothing in the world
That can change my mind
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
There is nothing else

Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you....

I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you

Just hanging by a moment (here with you)
Hanging by a moment (here with you)
Hanging by a moment here with you

Hanging By A Moment - Life House

Oct 10, 2008

"Islam and Post Modernism."

By Dr Asghar Ali Engineer

What is the relation between Islam and post-modernism? Earlier, we used to talk of Islam and modernism and now we talk of Islam and post-modernism.

First let us understand the difference between modernism and post-modernism. Modernism which ruled the roost until the early 1950s was characterised by a hegemony of reason. Modernism rejected anything which was not in conformity with reason.

Modernism was, in a way, quite intolerant of forces of tradition or even anything supra-rational, let alone irrational. It was for this reason that Freud’s theory of the subconscious or unconscious was also ridiculed by modernists. It was not deemed to be in conformity with reason. Even Marxists also rejected Freud and his explanation of deeper sources of human behaviour. Naturally they also rejected religion as something irrational. Thus, modernism was as intolerant of anything non-modern as one religion is said to be of another.

Europe throughout the 19th century was characterised by modernism and Asia and Africa were looked down upon by the Europeans as anti-modern and irrational. Thus, the 19th century was the century of modernism and of European hegemony. It was in the early 1950s and ’60s that new trends began to emerge and post-modernism began to be theorised by academics and social scientists.

In post-modernism, reason lost its hegemony and supra-rational forces came to be accepted. Post-modernism is mainly characterised by pluralism, be it cultural, religious or literary sphere. Europe and North America became multi-cultural and multi-religious societies due to the migration of people from the western powers’ former African and Asian colonies.

Also, it was during this phase that religion also found a respectable place again in western society. In other words, religion came to be re-appropriated. Thus, post-modernism, unlike modernism, is not hegemonic and is tolerant of other cultures; its main characteristic is pluralism. Now let us explore the relation between Islam and post-modernism.

Islam believes in religious and cultural pluralism, and while accepting importance of reason it also accepts supra-rational forces. According to the Quran, Allah has created several religions and cultures though he could have created only one, if He so desired. (5:48). Thus, pluralism is the very basic to the Quran.

According to the Quran the world has been created in its plurality, not only in matters of religion but also by way of ethnicity, nations and tribes. These have been described as signs of Allah (30:22). About national and tribal plurality, one only need see Surah 49, verse 13.

The Quran stresses pluralism to such an extent that even when one is convinced that others’ gods are false, it stops believers from abusing them. The Quran says, “And abuse not those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest, exceeding the limits they abuse Allah through ignorance.” Further, it says: “Thus to every people have. We made their deeds fair-seeming…” (6:109)

Here, it is a Quranic injunction not to say bad words about others’ religion(s) because to every people their religion looks true and valid. The Quran even says that in every place of worship Allah is remembered and hence it should be respected. Thus, the Quran says, “And if Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered, would have been pulled down.” (22:40).

Thus, there is no place for inter-religious conflict in Islam. The Quran also subscribes to the doctrine of what Shah Waliullah and Maulana Azad called the wahdat-i-Deen i.e., unity of religion, which means all religions are same in essence and in their core teachings. Both the eminent theologians have thrown detailed light on this question in their respective writings.

As far as multi-culturalism is concerned, the West accepted it only in the latter part of the 20th century. The West had otherwise long been a mono-religious and mono-cultural society, because the Christian church had rejected validity of all other religions except Christianity. The church now of course believes in inter-religious dialogue and has issued instructions to Christian organisations to that effect. The Quran had accepted all Biblical prophets during the revelation itself.

Islam accepted multi-culturalism too by saying that all believers are one Ummah regardless of their ethnicity, language, tribe or nationality. It also admonished believers not to discriminate between Arabs and non-Arabs, as Arabs were very proud of their ethnic origin. Islam spread far and wide among peoples of different cultures and even the Shariah respected the ‘adat (customs) of different people. Local customs and traditions were integrated with Shariah formulations from the earliest time.

Thus, it will be seen that Islamic teachings anticipated what came to be called post-modernism today. The most essential thing is tolerance for diversity and for those who are different from us. Being different should not mean being inferior, superior or hostile to the other. We must project Islam in the right spirit, emphasising the practice of tolerance it so ardently advocates to the faithful.
The writer is an Islamic scholar and heads the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai.

Taken from: Dawn.com.

Oct 7, 2008

Watan ka Sajeela Jawan.

My brother Ali and his friend Saad reenacting Zardari-Palin encounter.

You can note the thurkeeness in Saad's eyes (on the left) and the slightly terrorized look on Ali's (on the right).

"The Color of Money"

And then there is that one actor no one can take their eyes off of.

Shocking as it may sound, I am not and sincerely not referring to Tom Cruise. If you ask me, he's one of Hollywood's overrated stars and if he jumps on a couch, it just doesn't make him any more interesting.

I am actually referring to the legend, Paul Newman. If there's anyone who can parallel Brando and Peck in grace or DeNiro and Redford in artistic achievement, it's this guy right here. In this 1986 flick, he's got more poise and gallantry at 61 than most men do at 30. Tom Cruise was aptly chosen by Scorsese to play the slightly goofy-but-talented pool savant in front of a seasoned liquor-seller (Newman). There is no way anyone could have managed looking better than Newman.

The plot of the movie is a treat for pool-lovers but for those of us who haven't been around a pool table apart from our Iphones or desktop games, this film is more than just 9 balls rolling around on the table. It explores characters deeper than pool-playing money-winners. Scorsese has this knack of humanising elements which are untouchable, elements that can only be viewed from afar. Although this humanising is done brutishly, not as elegantly as Coppola, it nevertheless breaches the divide between a luxury sedan driver and an average Joe or any of the streetside hoodlums you avoid gazes of.

A must-watch. A must-must-must watch. Newman is truly one of the finest actors Hollywood has ever had - and they are absolutely right to mourn his death.

Oct 6, 2008

Whose War is it anyway?

WASHINGTON, Oct 05, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group announced today that Howard Gordon, the executive producer of Fox's drama "24," has withdrawn his endorsement of the anti-Muslim film "Obsession" currently being distributed to some 28 million households in presidential election swing states by a shadowy non-profit organization called the Clarion Fund.

Source: Marketwatch.

The film and the words "anti-Muslim" are strongly tied. It makes me wonder if there's a Holocaust round the corner. I am back in the year 2001 right now where I would hear horror stories of Muslim kindergarten children being pelted at with bananas and Cheetos for wearing tiny headscarves.

The history of Muslims is conflicted, I'll give you that. But I don't altogether believe that we deserve as much hate as we are recently acquiring. Just like the war on terror isn't exactly a war on terror, I wonder if people are able to see that the "Jihad" in Jamiya Hafsa or the suicide-bombings from 9/11 to 7/11 to 9/20, isn't exactly like the Jihad the Prophet of Islam waged 1400 years ago. I wonder if there will be any room for an explanation for what a fundamentalist is in the next few years. And I sincerely wonder if the average Pakistani man will ever stop calling himself a 'radical muslim' just because he has a beard or prays at the mosque. I've never heard of the phrases 'radical Christian' or 'fundamentalist Jew'. Is it some South Asian dilemma? Radical Hindus and radical Muslims?

While we're at the topic, another problem with the Pakistani nation that is rampant and quite the trend in the holier-than-thou society: rejecting modernity. Refusing modern culture or the adaptation to technology. The more of a Luddite, the better a Muslim. The more of an idiot a woman is - all the better to be a wife. Because wives of present-day "good" Muslims, unlike the Umhaat ul Momineen, aren't supposed to be literate enough (Hazrat Ayesha RA) to have the ability to quote 5000 ahadeeth or advise on war matters or educate a nation, no. Neither should they be of enough power to assume a choice to divorce her husband (Hazrat Zainab bint e Jahsh RA) nor should she have enough gumption to be strong for a husband when he needs her the most (Hazrat Khadeeja RA). No. Our women's piety and chastity is justified by just how tightly our burqas are clad, just how quietly we can take a husband's beating and exactly by how many slaps and insults and acid-sprinkles we can withhold from our in-laws. Our society isn't an Islamic one - neither are our people, and I'd really wish the global media would desist the stupidity of calling us the 'followers of Quran' who wish 'death upon America'. If anyone's terribly un-Islamic, it's us. We are not waging Jihad in any way. We are waging a war of political interests, of international conflict, using and abusing Islam wherever we deem necessary, whenever we can throw in a quotation about God willing to fight the 'non-Muslims', to obliterate the 'enemy', forgetting it was the Prophet Muhammad SAW who announced sanctuary to the people of Mecca, the women and children, and anyone who took refuge in Abu Sufyan's house. And bonus points for guessing whose side Abu Sufyan was on.

They can all us great terrorists if they want to, but they should drop the Muslim alibi (which I know they won't, the war on terror hasn't shifted to OIL either - Operation Iraqi Liberation) which is just a bad excuse for a badly played hand by Al Qaeda. It's a shame that not even a few people in the Muslim world have had much luck explaining this to the west. Movies such as Obsession and Danish cartoons and 'anti-Muslim' sentiment will continue to thrive and multiply. We're seriously not interested in an image revamp.


Pakistan and Pakistanis Muslims, to the world, are torch-bearing, Kafir-killing, flag-burnig, suicide-bombing fanatics who beat and kill their wives, spit on modern medicine and probably eat their young daughters. And then there's that other end of the spectrum. Where we're belly-dancer oglers, suppressed, bearded, dark-eyed heretics who worship the Satan as badly as the other-enders worship Allah.

There are definite moments where I am not proud to be a part of this race - this Pakistani Muslim category which has proudly marshalled its militant image. Mainly because of the lay man who sported bin Laden's picture on the back of water tankers and pan shops. My greatest fear for my country and my people is that we are not even aware - not even remotely cognizant - of the threat we have come to face because of our incessant stupidities. We have supported Talibanization whenever the West has wanted us to without dictating a clear democratic or diplomatic stance. Instead of proclaiming a support for the US we have camouflaged our US-love as Ummah-love and in the end, eat our own vociferous speeches. There is no harm in accepting that we are quietly supporting a US-led war on terror in Afghanistan (which we are, are we not?) and quietly letting them dictate a future with India and now with Iran because our own infrastructure is weak and frail. It cannot withstand an enmity with the biggest dog in the yard.

I don't believe that America is the greatest nation to grace the planet but I do believe that it is indeed a powerful nation - and for good reason. I believe that Americans have survived great odds like war, famine, economic depressions, nuclear threats, the handling of a federation of 50-odd states, a combative bi-polar world of the 1960s - to overcome and emerge as one of the most powerful nations of the world. They have worked hard and they've gotten what they invested in. They aren't perfect but they've done whatever they possibly could in their powers. Which is something Pakistanis just do not understand. We are too busy fighting over petty issues, thrashing each other apart whether it is judicial killings or judicial positions. For us, all we need is a spark. We'll add the feul to the fire ourselves.

Muslims, along with the rest of the world, need to understand the clear difference between a Mullah and a Muslim. They need to understand the difference between sexist and gender-based; between jihad and political tactic; between diplomacy and consistency; between resentment and tolerance.

This entire hoopla on suicide bombs is only going to prove Marx right once and for all that religion is what masses get high on - how leaders can sway the devotion of people in their favor. Chant Allah hu Akbar and ram the fourteen year old into the mosque with explosives. Cite a certain text (albeit misinterpreted) and thrash your wife into a pulp. Give a misquoted example and wage a war against innocent American civilians.

Marx will also be right when we'll land as an American army on Iraqi/Afghani soil. Look at certain profits and send your troops in to wage a 'crusade'. Sign certain oil proliferation treaties and declare weapons of mass destructions all over any country you like. Find a potential threat and fool the prolateriat by any means necessary - economic downfall, a threat of terror or a politics of fear. The idea is to raise capital. And raise it must.

This is nowhere a holy struggle. The present state of affairs is in no way a prediction or order from the Quran or from the American constitution. It is a malady produced by the personal choices and greeds for more, an exploitation of the powerless masses, the ridiculed and the befuddled. We keep making movies like The Obsession, we keep chanting slogans against the Muslims or the Americans and we keep feeding to this black hole of vested interests.

This is not a war on terror, this is not a Jihad.

This is humanity at its best.

Power hungry and stupid.

Oct 4, 2008

The day I made THE cheesecake.


Consider this my fist in the air.

I am capable of being more than just cheesy, I also capable of making this:

THE cheesecake which turned out even better than I had dreams of expecting.

Life is great when that happens.

Happiness is in these great, happy, tiny realizations that indeed there existeth a world where existeth a perfecth cheesecake.

And now I'm only delirious.

But happy nonetheless. Apart from the cheesecake, I am also capable of making many other things but this day is important since I also made Singaporean Rice, Afghani Kebabs, Chicken Ministeaks and Green Chillies Qeema.

Lo and behold.

Chicken Ministeaks with Garlic Fried Rice.

Singaporean Rice - sideview. For additional information *smirk* on the layers.

Hari Mirch Qeema (with the hari mirch in the middle, hmpf) and Afghani Kebabs (in the bowl).

Pineapple Delight - a novel way of decorating it (a la Mom.)

Oct 2, 2008

The Dark Knight - Cinemascope.

And here I thought I wouldn't get tickets.

The Cineplex's Cinema 2B, practically empty, was only occupying the four of us, a rowdy family with kids and ladies who looked dressed up enough for a prom and insisted on transliterating every scene to people sitting next to them, a couple with their tiny, well-behaved son wearing the cutest orange baseball cap over his stiff kurta and a dad with his three overactive boys. The latter repeated every shout and scream uttered in the movie and wanted a play-by-play of every scene including a loud session of trivia directed at their Dad regarding each and every one of Batman's personal reasons for anything from jumping off a high tower to driving his Batmobile at a deathly pace.

Which can only tell you one thing. Pakistanis: not ready for cinema.

After buying ridiculously expensive popcorn and soft drinks, we settled down to watch Heath Ledger in action, ready to devour each line of the film, for the fifth or sixth time at least since the release of the Dark Knight. We tried to ignore the loud disturbances and were actually happy to hear the eardrum-shattering noise drowning the "dhishoom-dhishoom" shouts of the kids (honestly I love kids, but some parents don't know when to tell their kids to zip it) and basically had a real nice time watching the 2-hour-plus flick again on the big (well, compared to my tv anyway) screen. During the intermission, the little dhishoom-dhishoom boy began dancing his butt off at Kismat Konnection's remixes.

After watching it again, my favorite parts of the movie are highlighted thus:

1. "People deserve to have their faith rewarded." - Batman.
2. "Because I'm not wearing hockey pants." - Batman.
3. "I like this job, I like it!" - The Joker.
4. "I'm not sure they'll let us," Harvey Dent referring to the bringing together of two tables together at a posh restaurant. Bruce Wayne responds, "Oh I'm sure they will. I own the place."
5. "Accomplice?" says Wayne to Alfred. "I'm gonna tell them the whole thing was your idea."
6. "Whatever doesn't kill you ... only makes you stranger." - The Joker.
7. "Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn." - Alfred.
8. "It was a big dog." - Wayne.
9. "Why so serious?"

And number 10:

The Joker:
Aaah, never start with the head. The victim gets all fuzzy.
Batman: You wanted me. Here I am.
The Joker: I wanted to see what you'd do. And you didn't disappoint. You let five people die. Then you let them take your place. Even to a guy like me that's cold.
Batman: Where's Dent?
The Joker: Those mob fools want you gone because they want the way things were. But I know the truth. There's no going back. You've changed things. Forever.
Batman: Then why do you want to kill me?
The Joker (laughs hysterically): I don't want to kill you. What would I do without you! Go back to ripping off mob dealers? No, no, no. You complete me!
Batman: You're garbage who kills for money.
The Joker: Don't talk like one of them. You're not. To them you're just a freak. Like me. They need you right now. When they don't, they'll cast you out. Like a leper. See their morals, their code, it's a bad joke Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down ... these civilized people .. they'll eat each other. See I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
Batman (has had enough, begins to beat the crap outta the Joker): Where's Dent?
The Joker (undeterred): You have all these rules! You think they'll save you?
Batman: I have one rule.
The Joker: Oh. Then that's the rule you're gonna have to break to know the truth.
Batman: Which is?
The Joker: The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. And tonight you're gonna have to break your ONE RULE..

The Day that was Eid.

Eid is a fairly typical, conventional affair where I come from. Kids beg for Eidi, grown ups distribute the crisp (and now extremely pathetic-looking) banknotes and there are the siwayyans (sweet vermicelli) which grace every table in Pakistan. There is no pardon for sleeping in or arriving late at Dadi Jan's place. There is no way in the world you can sheepishly pass up on the opporunity of getting the five-rupees that your DJ has been giving you for the past 25 years (no wait, she used to give us 2 rupees when we were younger), it'd break her heart and you'd end up looking like a jackass anyway. There is no way you can tell your mom you don't want to wear the glass bangles this time (oh the horror).

But it's fun. Eid is fun because you get to meet relatives you haven't met since the last Eid, you get to join in the merry-making that you probably don't like a lot but it's family and it's fun and heck, it's Eid. You can let a few lame jokes pass once a year.

But perhaps the terminus optimus was my end of the feud with Ali. How Eid-spirrity, eh? I was mad at him for being a jerk over something and he messaged this last night,

"By the way. Thank you for the suit. And remember if I don't say sorry or thank you out loud doesn't mean I don't mean it."

These boys