The Last Day Of Our Acquaintance

Well, I guess this is goodbye. I will not be posting here anymore. I will still be writing though every opportunity I get, but not here.

Nevertheless, thank you for being a part of this blog, some great memories are attached to this place, which I will be leaving behind for an occasional reminisce.

Until we meet again, perhaps under a pseudonym?


Into The Fray

There was a time when I would look into the mirror, and see my own self staring back at me.

I would admire his ambitions, bubbling with energy through his eyes. His dreams that were sky high. And his longing to call some place his own. To feel at home.

Much time has passed, and today when I look into the mirror, I still see my own self staring back at me. But he appears nothing like the one I used to remember. Like my oldself.

The world has changed him. Moulded him. Creased him.

Uglied him...

I now have to imagine a lot of things when I look at him. But even that, I can only do for so long. The reflection I once remembered appears to be a thing from the long past. That is gradually drifting away. Fading away.

Being forgotten... 

I take a good look at what I have become, and knowing that things cannot be the way they used to, I do something that I always had difficulty doing.

I move on.

I try not to look back often. As I move into the fray.

In the hope to find some place where I feel at ease. A place I can call home. My home...

Gwendolen Fairfax

On some days, try as much as you must, memories fail to come back to you.

And then, there are other days. When things like Gwendolen Fairfax just happen to pop into your head.

And on those days, you can be seen smiling into space - proper zoned out, recalling the good times...

Cheers to Gwendolen Fairfax and all the great memories that came with her.

Just Another Independence Day Post

After completing my Master's from London, and while I waited for my visa to come through for Saudi Arabia (the country I grew up in), I had a chance encounter with a strange phenomenon in Pakistan: corporate (oblique; society) alienation.

It started like this: at a friend's recommendation, I decided to join a banking institution of international reputation during the period of transit. He had a few connections and felt it would do me some good, from my credentials and professional experience point of view. He was also sure that the interview process would be a breeze.

That it was, certainly. Not to come across as boastful, but I was able to impress almost every one of the senior management I was asked to meet. It should then come as a surprise, that despite their positive attitude, I did not even get as far as an official offer letter.

At first, I felt it was human error; Human Resources is nobody's favourite the world-over when it comes to sensitive matters like these. They might have forgotten to post it. Or perhaps they got the address wrong. Or it got lost in the post, even. Calls with various people were established to understand the issue. My early acquaintances shrugged it off, telling me not to worry and that the letter will show up eventually. It did not.

Weeks went by. 

Ramadan came along. I began to wonder whether my fasting brethren were finding it difficult to cope with the work during the day. (Much later I was told that several working folk could not cope with the workload during Ramadan, and therefore, found it convenient to not fast. Just a side note for your information, to keep the post positive and relevant to the topic).

To conclude, I was awarded an exhaustive (and exhausting) list of excuses, from incomplete documentation (that was provided at the interview stage) to sudden organisational restructuring. There might have been some truth in what I was told, who knows. But the prolonged delay pointed to another fact (also experienced by a close friend of mine, with a similar educational track): territorial marking.

It was a rather gentle way of prodding me to pack my bags and leave. Somebody(ies) was afraid of getting replaced. It made sense, since most of my matters were being handled by my colleagues-to-be who took it in turns to comprehensively question my background (including, where did you get your accent?). 

I may be wrong, but this is what sense my instincts fed me at the time.

I refer to this phenomenon as strange, because our media (the only source of news I have abroad) paints the very opposite picture on the subject. Television shows and dramas are teeming with overseas Pakistanis boasting foreign accents and nationalities. And all of them seem to have found decent work, with old and renowned faces still holding on to their share of the cake.

Which makes me wonder: was I not returning to Saudi Arabia, would I have been given a chance to squeeze into the corporate world of Pakistan? Ever? I mean, accent or not, without a job I too am an "unemployed" citizen.

I even get it that the country is going through a difficult time (probably its worst): the persisting energy crisis, an incumbent government and rising inflation are not making it easy to earn a decent living. But is attacking other's bud the only way to secure your own bloom? Isn't this the Islamic Republic of Pakistan that follows the Islamic principle of a man's rizk being predetermined by the Almighty? 

Why are we afraid, then? Why can't we learn to share, then?

It's nearly midnight. At the stroke of twelve, the calendar would read August fourteenth: our much awaited independence day. So, in-between all that spirit of patriotism, the anthem-singing, the parading, the flag-hoisting, can we not vow to change ourselves?

Can we not embrace a fellow Pakistani irrespective of whether he speaks Punjabi or Pushto, wears skull caps or shorts, is fluent in English or not, wants to be an actor or a doctor, drives a Corolla or a Cultus?

I dream of that Pakistan. And I know that it is very much there - tucked in the far corner of every Pakistani's heart. I see the glimmer.

All it needs, is a little initiative.

To make this sab ka Pakistan. A Pakistan for everybody.

P.S: congratulations Pakistan for lasting this long. I hope you last longer.

Don't Take Me For Granted

People often lie when they say that apart from God they do not worship anything else.

For, all the theists and all the atheists actually only worship three things in today's time. And religion has nothing to do with it.



And people who possess them.

Not for long, though. Not for long...

First Of Many Firsts

You can call me a bit of a bore, for spending the last night of the year writing this post, while the world outside celebrates the end of the year. More like, celebrates the arrival of the new year.

Some time ago I might have taken offence had somebody said so, but lately, I have learnt to admit it. In fact, you can also catch me quoting that I have turned into an old man at such young age. In the sense that I have lost the vigour people my age generally possess. You know, the shirking of responsibility. The partying without a care in the world. The money squandering. Girls. Et cetera.

And I think it is okay. Even though people will most likely not get it. In my defence, I am hoping the end will justify my means...

The clock is a couple of hours short to announcing January 2013. The year that has past, was a great one. It was, in quite befitting fashion, the year of firsts. As a continuation to the firsts that 2011 brought with it, of course.

It was also a year of achievement. More specifically, restoration of self-esteem. That feel good feeling about yourself every rising day. The year I turned most of mockery, into downright flattery.

And then feeling awesome about myself when it happened...

So, while 2012 will be remembered for loads of things, I consider these the milestones:

1- My first job performance bonus
2- My first (and subsequently second) raise
3- My first business trip (touch wood, of many more to come)
4- My first car
5- My first house
6- My first iPhone (trust me, I have tried to own one in the past - did not happen)

The best part of 2012 (again in continuation of 2011) especially, was doing what people said I could not do. Doing those very things and indirectly rubbing it in their faces...

And feeling awesome (again) doing it.

The idea has always been to stand out. And stand out, I will. Awesomely.

Here's wishing all the readers of Skins & Flavours a very Happy New Year. Wishing you all the health, wealth and tonnes of success. Thank you for being a part of this blog.

And always remember - stay awe-(wait for it)-some. Barney Stinson style.

Making Peace

They asked me whether I had it in me what it takes to get to the top.

Whether I was mature, smart and tough enough to handle the plights of the cruel corporate world. They questioned my ability to think on my feet. Or to do anything worthwhile, really.

They called me naive. And a whole bunch of other things I probably was. Or still am.

You see, whether I have decided what kind of banker I want to be in life (at least I know I definitely want to be a banker - made it that far) I do not know. I, however, am pretty certain of the kind of human being I want to be.

And in that department, I might be able to kick ass.

In the journey to the top, one has to leave behind an awful lot of things. Usually beloved. You have just got  to be that hungry (interchangeable with greedy and selfish, I believe). And while I am no longer afraid of walking that walk on my own, I do not see why I have to do it by breaking so many hearts.

After all, they said to be tough. Not unfair.

The climb is still mine to make. It will only be easier if I have happy thoughts to reminisce when I falter, stumble - or even fall

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

When chaos, confusion and uncertainty have prowled over your life - and treated you as a rag doll - to no end, even fraction and inches of silence begin to gnaw your existence. The placidity regurgitated from the passing storm, agitating at first, becomes all the more unbearable. An odd ringing in your ears ensues as if the silence around you is shrieking, pleading to be let out. It is not dark. It is not gloomy. Au contraire it is pleasant. Sickeningly pleasant. Such that your gut begins to squirm and churn. Horribly. And those pointing fingers. That critique. That noise. You wanted to get away from, beckons as if a craving. Proving yourself. Again. Again. And again. Does not feel so bad anymore. You realise. The turbulence suddenly is your monotony. This peace your change. You want it to return. To clash. Again. To triumph. Again. To smell victory. Again. Not lust. Not desire. This is your self-worth. Your reason of being. Your purpose.

Superheroes And Their Secrets

I am a common man.

Not a superhero, with a hidden identity. Yet, I have my secrets.

We all do.

And I am afraid of letting them out.

I do not have a job. But I have a family to feed.

Three sons and two daughters.

I pray to the Almighty. And to all the Saints. It is my belief that they will take my troubles away.

I cycle to the City every morning, with a hopeful head to the sky.

Could today be the day? I wonder.

But I return, with a discontented heart to see the look of longing in my children's eyes.

They say unemployment is rife, even for the educated out there. I do not have any education. I can barely read and write.

I want better for my family. I want to change the way things are.

My father used to tell me about sacrifice that men normally make in lives to sustain their families. "As long as there is food on the table every night while saying grace, they will love you."

I started bringing money back to my village a few months ago. My family smiled. My children hugged me. I was happy.

It was all going to be okay.

Then, my wife insisted on taking my eldest son with me to work, everyday. I did not know what to say. What to do.

My son, finally able to lend a hand to his old man - was a great feeling. But how was I to tell him what I did. He would have been ashamed.

I convinced them, otherwise. I told them I had bigger plans for him. He was going to be a big man.

But he followed me, one day.

He watched me enter my friend's house, a short distance away. He watched us change into dark burqas, and leave the village on foot. He watched as I held my palms out at passers-by on the road throughout the day.

He watched me beg. He had learnt the truth.

Why I did what I did, was a difficult question. I could have been a gardener. A security guard. A car-washer. A tea-boy. Anything more dignified.

Perhaps I was afraid I was not good enough. Or glad that it was easy. To be clad in robes all day, without anybody realising who I was. Even if it meant putting in jeopardy the one thing that I had.


I was ashamed when they all found out. But it was too late. Too late to rewind and undo everything. My decisions. My choices. My life.

And as I stand at the edge of my death, I confess to you.

We all have an inner side to us, hidden behind a mask.

We all have secrets.

But no - we are not superheroes. We are common people.

And in our case, the reality does not always end nicely...

A Different Utopia

Time and time again we have gone through literary works of prolific scholars and thinkers who have, in every way and form, explained, defined, fantasised and craved utopias.

We all know what it is. We all want it. And we know exactly how far we are from getting even a fraction of an inch closer to it.

I have often wondered of a perfect world and its contents.

I have wished for a life without lies. Hypocrisy. Treachery. Hatred. There is no denying it.

A land where trust rules all. Where advancement is pursued only for the sole purpose of excellence. Not to compete. Or wage wars.

But no. We are not inhabitants of such fiction. We have learnt to accept how cruel reality is. How flawed this world has become.

And how you and I are glorified slaves to the state.

But perhaps, that is it. That is indeed the missing link. The fact.

We searched far and wide for perfectionism - and failed to realise it already is as perfect as it can get. Yes, not the kind of perfect we desired. But perfect, nevertheless.

After all, it cannot simply be a coincidence that everything spun out of our control. That our lives turned into a rat race of far greater proportions than our ancestors could have ever hypothesised, just like that.

Obviously, someone else was planning too.

Even while we slept. With dreams in our eyes and our hopes high with expectations...

Just because we did not get what we wanted, does not mean that nobody did.

In this incessant race of domination for whatever reason - we did not win. We could not break free.

And today we struggle in a world created by them. Which has lust and ego. Blasphemy and anarchy. Blood and violence. Wealth and eminent poverty...

We have arrived into a utopian system. It might be nothing like the kind we read in books or clung on to in our imaginations. But it most definitely is a utopia.

Their utopia. Their perfect world.