Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Journey with Harry Potter

‘What made you take out these after such a long time? And I see you are hooked onto them again.’ said my mother a little amused. I looked over my copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and smiled at her.  ‘Mama, I was always a Potterhead you know’ I said as she walked out of the room.
After 2007, when the final book launched, my Harry Potter book collection some pirated and three original copies quietly found their place in the rack along with other books.  This year as the final installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film part 2 came out and became the talk of the town (actually the world) the sleepy Potter fan inside me woke up with full zeal. Hence these days I’m found with a Harry Potter book in my hand around the house.  
To some it may seem totally pointless to go on talking about something which is now over. However, love has no limits does it? Justified or not, as a true Potter head from heart and soul, I can never thank J. K Rowling enough for giving us a glimpse of the wonderful fantasy world.
 It seems that the marketing of Deathly Hallows part 2 has triggered the Potter fever back into the minds of people, young and old. A lot of my friends on Facebook started putting up statuses about the final film being an awesomely true magical entertainment. Film reviews opine the same. Many who never read the books have expressed that they loved the movie. Even the book fans like me, who have found that all the films on the series could never do justice to the books, seem to have immensely loved the movie for a change.
The timing of the Potter series coming out couldn’t have been better. The first time I was given the first part to read was in 2000 though the book was initially launched back in 1997. Like all the things that come a bit late in Pakistan, so did the knowledge about these books. It is interesting to note that while the first book was released in 1997 in UK, it went to US a year late and so did the second book! Considering this it’s not bad that Pakistan eventually caught up to the fever not too late.
I remember my brother randomly found Harry Potter and brought it home. I read a first few pages and put it away by my bedside not finding it as interesting as my brother. I opened the book again sometime later and then there was no putting it away. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, a happy me was standing in a queue in England at midnight to wait for a copy of my book.
What makes us sad to part ways with it is that we literally grew up with an ordinary boy who went onto become extraordinary. A friend of mine said that maybe the next generation will not experience the books as we did. They might not be able to adore the books or wait every year for Rowling to finish her work on another one.  The amazing thing is that it’s not only a children’s book. Though aimed at a younger audience, the books and the story, its adventures appeal to everyone. I have grown up brothers and cousins who were in their twenties when the series started to come and they were found engrossed in the books with equal anticipation.
 The magic of  the novels was such that it made us fear and hate Voldemort and we as readers too took our time in shifting from saying  ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ to ‘Voldemort’. We felt pain with Harry as went through his ordeal of fighting evil. When Harry and his friends hated Malfoy so did we. Gilderoy Lockhart was as irritating to us as they were to Harry and Ron though Hermione dotted Lockhart. Bellatrix gave us goosebumps and more reasons to hate her.  As harry and his friends discovered their strengths and weakness growing up, we discovered ours too. Our hearts broke as we read that Sirius Black had died.  We eagerly waited for next part, contemplating and discussing among friends, hoping for Sirius’s comeback. There is so much more that connects us muggles to the fictional kid’s adventures. There is nostalgia and reluctance in saying good bye to the fantastical world of Hogwarts, good and evil wizards and magic spells.
Another thing that made Harry Potter special was the themes that Rowling used very intelligently. The books spoke out about some very valuable things in life, like friendship, honesty, bravery, standing up for what is right, the battle between evil and good. There was a lot of food for thought from wise characters like Dumbledore. One is the end note of this post.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” Dumbledore to Harry in Philosopher’s Stone.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

May you live long

My heart goes out to my country. Yes I love Pakistan. Despite the cynic in me, I love  her soil, her rivers, her mountains, her unmatched scenic beauty in the entire world. The entire year I complain and whine about all the things that are wrong with my land. Its the politicians, corruption, nepotism, religious sects and their divide, load shedding, shortage of water, the non tax paying heartless goons, the ugly label of terrorism, low literacy rate and a long list of nerve racking problems and crisis . 
There is a rush of anger I feel when something or the other goes wrong with Pakistan. I hear myself not being happy with Pakistan and like many of us, I too dream of fleeing to greener pastures where life would be secure and stable. But I realise that every time Pakistan faces a downfall, every time it bleeds, every time people point fingers at it, it is not my dislike towards her that makes me go red in the face. It is because I immensely love the land where today I live and breathe and it pains me to see her getting hurt and maimed at the hands of corruption, lies and deceit and elements hell bent on tearing it apart.
No matter how much I try or think that I cannot love a place that is ridden with innumerable problems and turmoils, there is an invisible umbilical cord that ties me with Pakistan's soil. It is something in my blood that rushes through me every year as 14th August approaches and forces me to reflect on myself and the situation around.  
It makes me think about the hundreds of selfless people who migrated in the dark of the night, in the early hours of the day, on their way sacrificing their lives and loved ones. And it is no easy feat to push your own daughters and sisters down a train or a well or see your fathers and brothers been killed by daggers by unknown faces only to protect your integrity, to safeguard a newly born land. Our people did this. They died in hope to keep the newly born Pakistan alive. My heart goes out to these people, their pristine souls and their bravery. 
So what is it that draws us far from the spirit of our elders, far from what is the heart beat of our lives. For me its the lies, the dishonesty, the double dealings, unfulfilled promises of the so called leaders, the blood of my brothers and sisters that dries up on the roads and streets after 'terrorist attacks' and easily gets forgotten by us all. It is this and much more, things very basic, things that are the right of the citizens; something that people in many countries take for granted but the poor in this land can only dream of. 
I reflect today and tomorrow and pledge yet again to stay true to the heart of Pakistan because when it skips a beat, my heart too goes restless. It must be realised that we need to unite. Cliched as it may sound, we need to look deeper into the meaning of uniting. We need to look past our sects and languages and provincial boundaries. We need to mend the divides that scar our ideology today. We are Pakistan, one country. If a man in up North gets killed, if a youth is denied a job because of nepotism in Balochistan, or if a sick dies on its way to the hospital owing to the traffic block (read: VIP passing) we all should feel the same pain. We are one. We need to make efforts honestly and courageously in our own spheres of life, if we are doctors, artists, scientists, or simply housewives, we need to think Pakistan.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Cursing the dead

Finally being on Twitter does come with benefits. For all the time that twitter has been here, on this planet earth and making ‘waves’ in peoples’ lives, it’s today that I have understood how it actually works. This would definitely make me sound technologically handicapped but then you cannot expect everyone to know everything !  one thing that sort of makes me shift in my sofa is the ‘@’ sign on the twitter page, I mean so many of them together makes twitter look a bit shabby doesn’t it? Ok, I see eyes glaring at this piece. Brushing my digression aside, today as I opened Twitter for an umpteenth time sometimes from mobile and sometimes from laptop, hoping something ‘out of the world’ will be waiting for me, I found something bordering on interesting.  Tazeen, the blogger of A reluctant mind, now quite famous in blogosphere and twitter had a tweet about someone putting up Zia ul Haq’s album on FB (another of our favourite past times).

One click on the link, opened a huge album, all dedicated to the memory of Zia ul Haq. There were around 70 pictures.  First thought, Ok so there are people who create photo albums of dead people on Facebook other than their own posy ones? Second thought was triggered by the name of the album which had Zia’s ul Haq and ‘Shaheed’ mentioned together. Ahan, I thought. Pause. I clicked and clicked and clicked.  All black and white, brilliant white where Zia’s teeth shone. Third thought, ok so Zia had met almost the entire world’s leaders with his 32 set of teeth, his flashy smile at the press before he actually died and went onto become shaheed. Fourth, he was exceptionally happy in all the pictures taken in east, west and south. Luminous, even in black and white contrary to what we have heard and read about Zia’s regime.

Nothing new there, leaders new or old, dead or alive in Pakistan have all been on foreign tours and a lot of them while their people suffered in one way or the other.  And a lot of people say whats the big deal? So do the other leaders of other countries across the Arabian Sea (where lies the legendary Osama bin laden or is it in some other mysterious waters) lavish in foreign tours and mingle with pretty ladies and gents in suits in prospered lands than their own. No big deal there. True. Sad. Sad like the sorry state of our land of the pure.  
With innumerable crisis invading us and our country, we the people, quickly restore to curse the dead or the living of the politicians for that gives us some room for catharsis. This chap/ lady, whoever the brave one was had done the opposite. Perhaps a big fan of great politicians he/she thought better of the pictures than I did. A look around our flourishing media and you will know what I mean. Everyone from journalists to common man to rival politicians- everyone is busy cursing and blaming the dead Zia ul Haq for the party of terrorists having a holiday in our land today. However, we are not that insensitive now. It’s not just the poor shaheed chap but also the ones who still breathe, albeit in green pastures far from the troubled soil of ours. The question is, is it wrong and immoral or unethical to go on bashing our politicians ? I say no because we too have to survive in these dark times be it through verbal attacks or parodies on TV or something else, as long as it doesnt do much harm.
Hence, I go back to my tweeting and facebooking. I think I missed writing ‘pun intended’ in a lot of sentences for a) it sounds cool and b) because I meant it.


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