Tag Archives: travel

For what it’s worth


So, like every year I’ve made some resolutions this year to be a better version of me, bear with me, now:

  1. Exercise every day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes – cardio for my lungs and heart and squats for my butt
  2. I will take better care of my skin, hair and nails. more oiling, massaging and just generally keeping healthy
  3. Travel as much as I can afford to. Say ‘yes’ to every travel plan that comes my way. Within the country and outside of it. this-is-when-people-began-making-new-year-s-resolutions_524728342_nokuro-760x506
  4. I will write every day. Even if it’s shit. Even if I can’t use it anywhere and if it’s just one of many rants. I’ll be more frequent in updating my blog
  5. I’ll take out more time for creative pursuits – case in point, the miniature painting course that starts on the 31st of Jan – I’ve marked the date
  6. I have quit smoking and will generally take better care of my health.
  7. I will read every day and listen to new music as frequently as possible. Learn new words and give new genres a chance.
  8. I will be more aware of the world around me, try to learn new things, broaden my areas of interest, listen when people talk about things I don’t know much about and try to retain information.
  9. I will try to spend less money, save more, curb frivolous spending, try to donate to charities and help out those in need
  10. I will try to keep in touch with people more, call mom more often, send texts to old friends I’ve lost touch with and be available when people call me.
  11. I will clean out and organize my closet
  12. I will try to be a nicer person, try to keep my irritation in check and try to be less snappy with coworkers
  13. I will feel gratitude and be positive for the wonderful people in my life and all the things I have been blessed with
  14. In my limited capacity, wherever possible and in a respectful way, I will try to convert people to my way of thinking. I will take a stand against misogyny, misandry, sexual harassment, rape and pedophilia. I will stand for LGBTQ’s and minorities’ rights, religious (or lack there of)  and sexual freedom of expression

Boots of Spanish leather


We landed on Spanish soil and I was home. The generous splashes of color on every building façade, balcony and alcove; the garlands of artificial flowers, decorating every nook and cranny; the cobble-stoned pathways; it was like a rainbow had exploded over everything. There was unrestrained emotion everywhere, whether it was the troubadours laying their heart on the line or the artiste selling his soul on paper. One sketch magician proposed to me right there and I was dumbstruck. “I would want someone as colorful as you in my life” were his words.

We Pakistanis, as a nation, have passive aggressiveness down to an art form, any open displays of love and individuality are frowned upon, so it’s fair to say I felt these Spaniards were my people. Open, free, happy, colorful.

There was the Flamenco dance we attended at this local restaurant. I had a vague concept of what Flamenco was; a lot of stomping of leather shoes and musical clappers, but I was slightly taken aback by the sheer display of aggression and nonchalance. The feminist in me rejoiced to see this beautiful woman with her game face on, letting her man know he will rue the day he walked out on her. Though he is breaking her heart he will never break her spirit!

There was the Cathedral of Cordoba; formerly the mosque of Cordoba, so many eons ago, when Muslims ruled over Spain, torn down and rebuilt as a church; part of the mosque was saved for posterity. This Cathedral is now a testament to the grandeur and decadence of both styles of architecture. The stark difference between the two styles hits you quite violently, where one is all about gilded opulence and gorgeous sculptures, the other uses organic curves, spherical shapes and scripture as an art form.


What struck me most was how the same situation can affect people in such different ways; we were a group of about 40 people, roughly divided down the middle in to two generations, the old and the new, people in their late 20’s and 30’s and our parents. Faced with the Cathedral, the oldies spent most of their time bawling over the lost glory of the Muslims while the younger generation saw hope of coexistence, peace and love. If we respect each other’s differences we CAN all get along.  As I wiped a tear from my eye it was a proud moment for me. There is hope for this generation yet.

There was the visit to La Cartuja, a monastery on a river island near Seville, where DNA verified remains of Christopher Columbus were buried. There are parts of Columbus buried at four different locations in four different countries, each guarding its precious bit with its life. Even though most of us now know Columbus was kind of an asshole and a bumbling idiot. He discovered the wrong place, died thinking he’d discovered some place totally different. Raped and plundered the land he landed on. Brought back Syphilis to his country and thousands of people died of it as a result. History is indeed written by the victors, or severely uninformed friends of the victors.

Also, the “Earth is flat” theory had been debunked by Pythagoras 2,000 years before Spain even came into existence, so it’s safe to say this was not the reason he had a hard time procuring funds for his expedition. It was more because he knew shit all about navigation and had severely under estimated the distance he had to travel to get to Asia, which is why he ended up in America.

Once he got back his own crew testified against him for the atrocities he inflicted on them, but money talks, or in this case, spices do, as the justice system failed us once again and he was sentenced to 6 weeks in jail. Because 6 weeks is the prescribed time period for curing tyranny.

To my utter horror, people in my group wanted to take in a little bit of light animal cruelty in the form of Bull fighting. How is tormenting any poor creature ‘entertainment’?? They actually kill the bull in the end as a form of ‘mercy’ because the wounds would probably do it in anyway. The bloody scene from Hemingway’s “for whom the bell tolls’ immediately sprung to mind and I put my foot down. This was some serious bull shit, but at the rate they’re going there won’t be for long, when they kill all the bulls!

I left Spain with a heavy heart and a very light pocket. The ten odd days spent there are some of the favorite days in my life. I hope I visit again some day

Free Bird – Lynrd Skynrd



Every few months I start to get fed up of the way things are and the people I hang out with. This is not an inherent fault of the people or the place, mind you, just my fear of monotony and everything commonplace. Some call it wanderlust; an urge to pack up and take off and discover something new, what those SOME fail to tell you is that wanderlust is a pretty expensive habit. Road trips are great on paper, but with someone as accustomed to certain luxuries – daily showers, a bug-free bed and such – as I am, travel costs money.

I earn, and though I’m not rich by any definition of the word, saving would not be a problem if I could, you know, save!

The Navy League trip was a Godsend. it saved me the hassle of having to plan anything, because that seems like the most tedious bit. Though, Navy League’s excursions may not be as wild and out of the ordinary as a free spirit like me would have liked, the pros out weighed the cons.

it wasn’t the “Burning Man’ (I will attend “Burning Man” and the “Comic-con” if it kills me!), it was a wonderful experience none the less.

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Some of the things I wish I’d known before I’d started:

1) The secret to excellent time management is to be the second last person down / out. A good rule of thumb is be tennish minutes late to the absolute final time the tour guide gives you.

2) Be an expert shopper . Browsing is not an option. You want this shit? You fucking buy it! Don’t dilly dally, everyone hates dilly dalliers.

3) Befriend an older person. You’ll be able to get away with a lot of shenanigans that way. (Durdana aunty, we love you!)

4) Invest in sunscreen. Even if the tour guide tells you there’s like ten inches of snow there. The sun is not your friend and will burn you to a crisp.

5) Older people maybe generally annoying, but don’t be miss. judgey judge and give them a chance. They are a reservoir of excellent war stories (my favortie kind!) take the time to listen. one of the members was an actual POW during the ’71 war.

6) Hit on that tour guide if he’s hot, hit on him with complete impunity. When else will you ever get that chance? So what if he has a gf or a wife??

7) learn to take pictures that aren’t so blurry

8) if that broke artist proposes to you, you jump on that shit! as long as you don’t starve, it’s a good deal. You’ll be a muse!

9) people with wives are strictly off-limits. Get your daddy issues under control!

10) All the Renaissance artists thought Jesus was a fucking ugly baby!

11) Once you’ve tasted European coffee you’ll become one of those obnoxious, pretentious gits that people avoid

12) People have a weird habit of praying in places they aren’t allowed. Hell, yeah! rebels for life!

13) No matter how ‘open-minded’ you think you are, you will never like the cuisine of another country. Stop lying to yourself, embrace your inner desi and add a little ‘mirchi’ to everything

14) I’m a hippie at heart and I like colorful, psychedelic buildings, bright awnings, pastry-like exteriors that you want to take a bite out of. Look at this shit! Even their graffiti is a work of art.

15) I did say a little prayer in all the churches and cathedrals we visited, just as I do when we visit a mosque or I would if we visit a synagogue. I believe God is everywhere and we are all one. Okay, end of hippie rant

I hope I get to see every country in the world and meet lots of unique people. Life is excellent.

Much love,


You or someone like you


“You or someone like you” is the first novel by author Chandler Burr, whose literary feats heretofore include the odd book about scent and the hilarious job of being a ‘scent critic’ for the New York Style Magazine. Granted, I’m not sure how prestigious a job that is, for all I know he could be making the small to medium bucks doing it, it just makes me chuckle to myself.

Job description hilarity aside, this is a tremendous first effort. Parts of it could, perhaps, have benefited from a little Darwin-esque natural selection, but overall it is a definite page-turner. The protagonist is a British woman named Anne. We are made very aware of her ‘Britishness’ and how she finds it hard to adjust into the Hollywood lifestyle, confirming stereotypes of the legendary Brit aloofness. I found myself admiring her spunk; even though she insists throughout, how uncomfortable she is with public speaking, she seems to take no prisoners when the situation calls for someone to act as the voice of the crowd.

Okay, back story time – Anne is married to Howard, a guy she met at school. They’re both eng lit. Majors and seem to suffer from eidetic memory where they can rote word for word almost anything they’ve ever read. I haven’t read even half the books we’re made to believe these people have,  and I have no more than vague recollections of the gist of what a book was about, if that,  just saying a little more realism would’ve been nice, am I right people?

They have a son named Sam, the best-looking boy in the world, and their lives revolve around him. Howard is a Hollywood executive and knows all the movers and shakers of tinsel town. Also, he’s Jewish, and Anne’s non-Jewishness has been cause for a lot of strife in Sam’s paternal side of the family.

Doloreans in hand (booyah! Back to the future reference!), the book operates on a time loop between the present and several occasions in the past. We open to a major catastrophe that has planted itself in the center of our protagonist’s life, it has something to do with Sam, and it’s causing her and Howard to grow apart. The big reveal comes much later, when she stops acting like a schizoid, going back and forth and finally reveals what the devil is going on.

A spur of the moment recommendation of must-reads to a friend, snowballs into several book clubs that Hollywood types are bending backwards to get into, soon she’s suggesting books to turn into movies and donning the cap of executive producer on several projects. I loved the literary references, excerpts from books and poems that she uses to get her message across, whether to her estranged husband, pissed off friends or conniving back stabbers.

A coming of age trip to Israel to find out more about his Jewish heritage, reveals more than he bargained for, when Sam comes to realize that he’s not actually Jewish because his mom isn’t, pure blood and all that. This sets off a chain of events, which ultimately leads to Howards’ total meltdown. Also, we find out that Sam is gay, and no one cares.

The author uses the Hollywood backdrop to get his thoughts on gays and Jews across as well; I especially loved her comparison of the Jew philosophy to the nazi dogma, at a talk she gives about Art, no less. The woman has style!

Using a narrator whose not part of the Hollywood crowd; in fact, someone who’s the exact opposite of the typical attention grubbing, airhead that makes up most of tinsel town, gives the book a much needed impartiality. We see stark contrasts between the two; where the one has dignity, class, compassion, great taste in literature and intellect the other is greedy, classless, at times stupid, involved in idle gossip and part of the book club not for the love of reading but because it’s the ‘in’ thing at the moment, we’ll let you figure out which is which!

Overall I’d give the book a 3 out of 5. It’s an easy read, doesn’t require your full concentration like say, Moby Dick. It’s something I’d curl up by the fire with, a cup of hot cocoa in hand, provided I was living in Alaska, in Karachi I’d probably die of heat exposure.