In Conversation with Allama Iqbal on Self Esteem

Self esteem is a product of nature and human existence – Journey of discovery and wisdom. It is learnt through experience, knowledge, tolerance and upon principles of humanity.  It is inherent, embedded and its manifestation comes with an awareness of one self and how we relate to others.  By its very virtue of being given and presence, but one has to work towards it. West tried to understand the concept of self esteem through rationale, through logic and reason but the East added more. Allama Iqbal covered this not in one dimension but in multiple dimensions and added more what nobody had done it before- the human dimension and its transactions with the forces of nature and the Universe in itself to create that balance. It is that state or being in that state where the concept of being unique and different, a concept of being rare and accommodating kicks into action and also the concept of loosing oneself in that very existence we call existence, life and its oxygen. At times losing one existence for a bigger cause provides that sense of belonging and awareness which cannot be captured- one can feel it only.

Therefore, what you see in Iqbal and taken up by others as well but no better than Iqbal, that there are stages to what one arrives at. Iqbal used philosophy, poetry and law and most importantly Islamic thought to rebuild and bring it out in the open the concept of “Khudi” which brings out all different forms of human composition in alignment with the nature and its patterns. Second stages of it were the experiences of culture, and different civilisation, travel which enabled him to harness this concept more and finally it was he himself, as a human through reflection and ponder, which really brought it out the notion where not he understood this concept about himself which became the core concept in his poetry, in his writings and all we see through the concept of creation of Pakistan and its ideology but he bounced it off into different directions for all of us to find this.

In a more summarised forms it is one of the most simple and yet the most sought after, this intangible commodity from the early humans and their civilisations up till now – What is it we as humans do? All of us try to and all of us before us tried to answer these questions: from the times of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato to the present world, where some express this true art, some through literature, through philosophy and literature and we through the ideology of change and progression.

The search for our questions continues. That has existed from the moment of time as it kicked off into action with human development and its existence. It is the human composition and its fabric built from these tissues and molecules of spirituality and love, again the product of nature. And its manifestation is human transactions and all our affairs of heart and mind. How we reconstruct our behaviour and actions and expression of thought through the intellect which is been provided to us and its use and the instincts to help out further.

And finally it’s the composition of our thoughts, its expression, behaviour, patterns, all these things that become and make us what we are. We become humans not from what we know of and what we are in the end but how we are viewed as within this universe. The vast and unbounded physical space one side provides a grim view of our miniscule presence and almost forgetfulness but at the same time the very awareness and realisation that this whole Universe Almighty Allah created for us to discover, to learn and to stand upon its wonders and reflect leads us towards only dervishes can discover, the moment of liberation from those physical needs and its presence.

We all are trying to find ourselves in all our different forms and shapes but the road to discovery and objective may be the same. How humans are different through the difference of languages and culture, barriers that exists through the geographical boundaries but there is something that binds all of them and it always has through the period of time, the sense of humanity and its expression and how we work towards it.

And an  example which I have used occasionally when asked or given the opportunity but never really provided the full reasoning actually brings me to this last paragraph below and how it relates to this concept of “Khudi” and self esteem as far as I am concerned in an effort to provide that answer or attain that realisation.

As a young boy, I had always wondered why I have to read Shakespeare, and all the English literature and different mechanics of science. I had always wondered why I am being asked to look into detail and align myself with the effects of English civilisation, culture and its architecture, all that it brought in subcontinent and other parts of the world from the notions of British Empire. Why this effort and awareness to know all this?  Will it bring that respect or determination to succeed or whatever partial means to achieve those end objectives?

It was enthralling to read and to reflect about these experiences in the deserts of Bahawalpur and Multan through its heat.  It provided the shadows of peace and tranquillity. But then life moved on and the question still remained during those years why this? I am sure there be more to it. And that brought me to this distant land; we call England, United Kingdom in search for those questions, as I needed to know the reference point how the English see themselves. How this very civilisation came to bring its very own effects and the rest. This quest was to lead me to read about Roman civilisation and their conquests and their influence in the field of warfare, science, politics and literature and more.

As the story goes, I went like a beggar from English to the Romans and from Rome to Athens, to marvel upon their architecture, and how they developed the concept of thought and rationale, in the writings of Socrates, Aristotle, Herodotus, Plato and many more. But it did not end there- Although I was partially pleased that I have now found the source where it all came from. Few more years down the life, the journey brought upon from Greeks saw Egyptians as their masters and constant references of their pyramids, preservation techniques, the early development of epistemology, etc. Egyptians brought me to the land of Euphrates and Tigris, the land of Babylon and its civilisation.

And few more years went past looking for answers and all those connections I was trying to discover to build my ties with this world and the Universe in general and finally the very realisation came  like the warmth of sun one cannot avoid and the cold of the winter as I retraced the whole journey where it all started from- From English to Romans, Romans to Greeks, Greeks to Babylon, and all looking at where I stood in the very same desert where I had started to look outwards but never looked inwards. All of these civilisation and their traces and journey ended in the land of Indus, in Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the most ancient civilisation known to mankind and it is where I  stood upon its chest and on its soil. As I looked at the rest of the world from that desert and from that place we call Pakistan, the whole world and the old civilisations looked upon it right at my feet covered in dust and face, carrying all the ancient marks of all those civilisations and their aspirations.  It is then that day I knew that I had become unique, and found those rare patterns to my rare existence which Almighty Allah had placed it in there as a gift. It was there I knew where I was the most oldest person living on this planet earth and all its imprints upon my conscience and intellect and it is where I finally knew the meaning of “Khudi” and self-esteem which Allama Iqbal had so beautifully constructed and explained through his poetry, the breath of imagination and all those dimensions he covered and travelled within that infinite concepts of time and space. It is where I found myself amongst my own people, my own civilisation, culture, art and the journey of time which Islam had provided and all its interconnects to all civilisations before and after. It is where I stood on those grounds that had been borrowed by all, to see their reflection and to have their point of reference. My reference was Islam and its civilisation and its shelter and refuge and all that contained in there which Iqbal had so beautifully and masterfully explained. My references were principles of humanity, wisdom and experience. My references were of justice, self-esteem and all that makes one humble and provides that courage through those compositions of distance and travel to lands unknowns …unimaginably far!



Kinhar-Part II


In old pages and pictures of my existence
Lurks somewhere, the old tales of purity
The river that flows across those valleys
Where I once grew up in protection

Through its peace and tranquillity
The old valleys, sheltered in my books
Stand there by its side, from years of travel
Stand there by its side, the old monuments
The old stories of blunder and danger

Travels with me the people of that land,
Strange and few, the beauty and its demise
As I breathe that air from years of distance
As I grow old, with memories of separation

Never there dwells darkness only the light
The silence in that land, where once fairies grew
So I thought as my desire to grow old embolden
Walk as I towards those places, in hesitation

Will I find what I left behind?
Will it find me as I move away from its tranquillity?
The old lake saif-ul-malook and its serenity
As Indus snares in its awake, all that arrives

The old imprints within my mind, as I travel
From footsteps of Kashmir to Sindh,
To meet its creators, to meet the creation
The adventures of distant times of nature and mankind!


Only The Light…


Absent and not in view
The golden words of our past
Still there, an old craving to explore
Only in view, the shackles of time
The separation of days from its demise
As I write, to form a soul
Of once that was, now a dream

As I labor to turn,
The old wheels of fortune
In the land of my ancestors and poets
Only the words I have
At my disposal and at my service
As I rotate with the earth and its burdens
Through labyrinth of time and space
Not guilty my conscience and my soul
Of all my crimes, still there some peace
Always in debt to serve, in tattered clothes
The land up in smoke and in fury of hatred

When will you awake, from this slumber?
Of mayhem and of shames,
What will you do to these traditions of past
The murderous routines and ghastly crimes
The future is yours, belongs it to you
Only the steps, you need to take
Silence is a crime if you chose to remain
In surrender to the desires of the world
The glory will come, only if you refrain
From these acts of crime, to your land
Plenty of enemies in view but it’s within
Distinguish it well, as there it remains
The clues to your success and dreams

Hold it well and keep it close
The memories of your past
The promise of the future
Shine, my friends, shine …..
As it is in there you will find
The story of your being and its land
Do not wait or hope for others to come
Summon your souls and bodies to perform
The miracles of change, the miracle of unity
It’s time for you to form a soul
Still there, an old craving to explore
In shackles of time and despair of days
Only the light, only the light, in your fate


The Pyramid Makers

the story, of her legend, contain no words
like those passing dreams, devoid of life.
in colour,like shadows drifting away, unheard,
empty in their existence, searching her slaves,
her victims, blinded by her fury and passions.

slowly, descends life, upon those rocks
built to last, lover’s tribute to perfection;
oppression the tool, hands their enemy,
sacrificed. strange price for immortality;
demanded she, war to win, in madness.

past their interest and civilisations their living;
slaves they were then and now orphans;
artists of form and symmetry; and sand
seek justice, denied when alive, from time
as they fell to earth, like november rain.

strange battle it was and made no sense
to mind and heart, and their loss immense;
strange rules, virtues of politics and religion,
hands their saviour, hands their enemy, to
create palace of bricks and have no graves!

Hate, heavy as those stones,carried,
they once, for generations, for those Pharos,
as colour, idea and words are to the artist.
noticed they never, the Gods, revenge of those
hands, letting them free, and Pharos hostages!


The Cairo Trip

My friends near and far, Salaams.
Apologies for being absent for last 10 days or so as I was travelling in certain parts of the globe because of work commitments. Although I replied intermittently every now and then, but that was not suffice enough…
I came back to London last night from Cairo. Came back and then the first thing i had to do was to write a speech for my friend who wanted to present his local council for some development plans for London Olympics 2012..during my travels i have been reading your blogs, comments, observations, thoughts in union, thoughts in diversity, poetry, and all the other things which makes you what you are as individuals and as a group…..there is a specific Urdu term for that group “Yaren-e-tabish”
Just posted a poem in Urdu” chalow tou sahee” written at Cairo airport on chowk and on my blog..Strange it seems now the words that I want to describe and experiment is gone to Urdu.,…all the balance seems to have shifted..hahahah I guess that is what urdu does to you at times… Back in London, at my desk listening to this old song of lata from film “safar” hum they jin ke saharey…i remember listening to these songs when very young in train journeys to the deserts of Bahawalpur…….
Ayesha nice thoughts on various topics..i will comment….and that goes for all of your blogs…
As one travels from one portion of the world to another, as one depart from one terminal to another, there is always that becomes part of you…there is always something you leave behind…its amazing when you cross different boundaries, immersed in their own thousands mists, immersed in their own cultures and you just fly over them……thousands years of civilizations and few hours in those places…they become part of you…from tea-seller, shops, pyramids and to the people in the airports….each movement, each words they utter, gives away a reflection of their existence…..faces different, places different but needs remain the same….in rotation with these thoughts as this world rotates, sometimes you want to stop! sometimes you want to be part of this inertia, this inability to solve anything and sometimes you just want to become fluid like water, like intangible light to be able to creep into all those places, all those faces that have been left untouched, as their stories of their existence appear and falter in those routines… I guess I have written enough in order to say “Good morning friends”.

The Journey- Khunjerab to London

This journey took place few years ago as I travelled from Khunjerab to Islamabad and then from Karachi to London via Doha. It was this journey that brought me the discovery of finding an immortal friend who will remain with me for the rest of my life. It is this journey where I found myself and became a butterfly!

I was the last one to board Qatar Airways flight due to my late arrival as I had been travelling from Khunjerab to Islamabad across the Karakorum highway for many days. It were all those places, Passu, Gulmit, Gilgit, Chillas, Bisham, Skardau, Abbottabad, and all the other places I had been wandering for quite some time ..I must say the breakfast was great in Abbottabad, the final stop over point before reaching Islamabad. The breakfast filled me in with all the necessary ingredients and I did not feel the need to eat again during flight from Islamabad to Karachi.

Now having got my boarding pass at Karachi airport, I decided to disappear to the restaurants upstairs with few friends. Despite several announcements on the PA system, I had not taken any notice…eventually; around 7ish when turned up, the flight was due to take-off.Boy did they create a scene? They were right and so was I in my justifications.Questions like “where was I”, “do I have any regards for others” and stuff like that was fired away in my direction. I basically told them that they should not have waited for me”…this reply did not go well with them……anyway, it was funny to see so many passengers alert in their seats ready to look at their murderer. Found it so funny that I could not resist the temptation to introduce myself to several passengers. They did not know what to make out of me.Anyway the flight resumed…all belted up and plane took off…I sat by the window and had a last look at Karachi through the window,,,,the sun shone brightly over the city and it looked beautiful….and I was just too tired and ready to sleep..But there was one problem…the passenger who sat right next to me…he was going to Doha to meet up with his brother. But there was this smell oozing out of him.the kind of smell one notices  from the dead cattle…I just could not bear the thought sitting next to him…I don’t know whether he realized it or not but I had to have a word with the airhostess…told her to that I needed to go somewhere else…she asked me why and I told her the reason…she had obviously noticed herself but unfortunately they were not carrying any deodorants or any vaporizers…she went at  the back to chat to someone else and few minutes later I had moved to the back of the plane…no more smell and time to sleep…she brought me a glass of an  orange juice before I nodded off…. within an hour and half we were at Doha International airport, to step into the excruciating heat and scorching sun. There they all bundled us off in this bus towards the terminal building. The tarmac shone brightly as the kala kola hairstyles in those ads with its deep intensity of heat and oil in the background. The journey had just begun.

The prospects of waiting there for good four hours was daunting in itself.First, I confirmed my arrival and had to take the boarding ticket for London flight. I had made a request for the upgrade seat at Karachi and I was quite happy on getting one. Then I was given a breakfast voucher. So I went upstairs to the restaurant to get something to eat. I wanted orange juice but it was not on their list. Anyway in the end I told them that don’t worry as the need was not there. Lighted up a cigarette and made my way downstairs to the lounge.

Having seen what Doha International really was (I don’t know why they call it International…it is smaller than Gilgit’s airport), I decided to see what their duty free looked was disappointing to see three shops selling shampoos and mustard oil…managed to buy three cartons of B/H cigarettes and then went downstairs to wait for another three hours to get the next flight..Half an hour later, first time I saw so many Sri Lankan women coming out of one flight and en-route to another..The place was filled with them. I think they all were going back to Sri Lanka on holidays after working in Doha. Not a single man on that flight. They all queued up to get their boarding tickets. They were all wearing rather bright colours – too bright to be there in that hour of the day….they all whispered. I think they talked about their husbands, boyfriends and families. but they whispered a lot…one of the most whispering nations I have ever come across…..then they all stood up as they were about to sing their national anthem,  went upstairs with their breakfast vouchers.  Having had their breakfast, they came downstairs to sit down and wait for their flight back home. It was funny watching them. Some of them sat down, with their hands underneath their hips, some holding their chins as if they had seen something really evil, some playing with their dark hair, and some even slouched upon those sofas as if they were to be painted…I am sure Gauguin would have made a good painting out of them….and they carried on whispering…I think one of them did point to another, that this person (me) with his head-phones on was constantly staring at them….so within minutes, their head-mistress came  charging towards me and spoke to me in broken English that I should mind my own business…I was minding my own business I told her but I cannot help staring at you guys since you happen to be straight in front of me and secondly you appear to me as a very interesting subject. I am a writer and for me observation is the key part to my art. ..I don’t think she understood what I meant, shook her head and walked back with heavy steps. I think to my knowledge the rest of the team were not too pleased with her performance and some of them within their groups had whispered that when they are in Sri Lanka they should have a new election for the new headmistress…I don’t know how it got along but they presented an interesting observation and insight into their lives, full of toil and so beautiful……work had consumed them totally and what a price to pay for ale and bread…the old forsaken beauty of the Lankan islands..

FEW minutes later came the flight from Nepal. It was full of Gorkha students. They performed better than those Sri Lankan women. They queued up, no whispers. Just stared…all of them in one direction.few sat beside me.I wanted to speak to them but they would not understand what I was saying and I could not make any sense of what they uttered I think most of them were Buddhists but few seemed as they belonged to Hinduism…the one who sat right next to me watched me with great interest as if I had landed from some another planet with constant smile upon his face…so I gave him the headphones, inviting him to listen  to Sting’s “Desert Rose”..He seemed pleased when he heard the music and then with thanks in their language he returned it back to me.but it was brilliant to see the whole platoon swaying in discipline, momentary glances to check their coordinates and following up a mode of life which determined all the outcomes resulting from this behavior and attitude.

There were few other incidences as well….especially there was this really fat police woman Airport police equivalent of ASF. She would walk around the lounge and then get back to her little room to powder herself up and then to come out again. She kept doing her routine after every twenty minutes.  every time she would walk her whole body shook…it was so hot but she was wearing almost three layers of clothes……..and her face covered….she walked in the middle of the lounge…raised an eyebrow every now and then just to make sure that there were no suspicious characters hanging around. I could not help laughing.I don’t think she noticed that I noticed her every move…but it was strange the way she would go into her little room, put some makeup, take a light puff on her silk cuts, and then come out again…..Her male counterpart meanwhile just sat on a stool, and snored most of the time…..I don’t think he would have noticed an earthquake the way he slept and that constant noise coming out from his nostrils. The word “mannerism” was as alien to that person on the stool as UFO’s are to the rest of the world. But he was still a character of his surroundings and enough to start off a whole chapter on him.

Apart from that, there were few other people as well from all over the world…A Philippine sat on my right for most of the time, she looked beautiful from the side but older when facing towards you.she constantly chewed a gum for good three hours and every now and then scratch her neck with her left hand…..and then rummage through her purse..i don’t know what she was carrying but she gave an impression that she was up to something..But the fat lady, the policewoman I don’t think she noticed her…..she had a beautiful nose and clip of her ear though…….

Then in the middle of the lounge where Sri Lankan women sat for good two hours, had taken over by Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis…they all seemed tired and most of them were asleep…..some lying on their stomachs, some in strange positions, with their hands underneath their heads, mouth wide open, and snoring…I noticed one of them, quite keen at this Lebanese woman, who stood not far from him..she was very pretty indeed and the guy kept up his gaze straight at her as she would disappear if her were to change his stance…I don’t think the policewoman noticed that either…she was far too busy doing her rounds with make up and layers of cloth and laden with gold…..I m sure if there ever were to be famine, drought in that part of the land, she be the one they look for….as there lied the answer to most of their questions if not all.

And then after observing literally every one around there for good three hours, I lighted up a cigarette and made my way to the departure lounge. We took the bus and then stairs to board Qatar airways international flight. As I made my way to the seat I was promised, I saw someone else sitting over there..Moments later, an air-hostess approached me with the name “Dippika” and told me in her apologetic tone that they decided to give that seat to a man who wanted his wife seated right next to him and I in turn got theirs right at the back…I was fuming as they not informed me and since I was the first one to ask for that seat..anyway she tried her best to put me at ease by promising I will get extra food and the rest…I told her that this promise of extra food is not going to work with me but eventually she almost broke down that it was not her this point I made my way to the back of the plane…she brought me orange juice immediately…I put my walkman on and went to sleep…..I don’t think I was disturbed again as I slept during most of the flight only to be waken up when we were due to land at Heathrow……and landed we did amidst rain and heavy storm…..

Few days later, I woke up and found myself that the transformation had taken place through this journey, turbulent in its nature and of its surrounding characters which had accumulated around me and found the voice within me to bring into an existence;  a friendship of a lifetime. This journey is indeed an old debt with revised words and expressions in labyrinth of time and its space to that friend, strangely enough in me, for all its years and for all its space.


Atlanta Trip- Day 1

Day 1 Saturday

It looks like rain will stay here for most of the week for these Atlantians and for us aliens here me and D-gee. Denver crew expected to be here in couple of hours. Shopping malls don’t open till midday. So we have two hours to lounge around.

Looking at the objects in this place and people… TV enclosure is as big as our wooden cupboard in Sheraton. Few crappy paintings on the northern wall, lamps all over the place, and not to forget the bible… Notes in the bathroom reading that we must be careful with water as Atlanta is experiencing water shortage..Water shortage and all this rain- where is this water going! Try telling dgee who spent almost an hour in the shower putting that drought to its paces… And now multiply this by 3 times 6 days. The amount of water he is going to use could very well be a whole month’s of electric supply for a small African nation.

I have a perfect view of nothing but rain, airport and McDonald buildings….

Also visited the gift shop inside Sheraton. Will be posting the perfect view of Atlanta tomorrow-the post card…I have never seen that many Chinese working here in the restaurants.

Efe called me from London, an old friend from Travelport. We spoke for good 20 minutes and then I told him I am in US. He immediately put the phone down and then called again from a different number.

To be continued