In Our Life & Times – 2

My first blog under this title was posted on August 25, 2015. It is a useful (convenient?) title under which I can periodically ponder over our times and give you some food for thought. So here is ‘In Our Life & Times # 2’ – just random ramblings; though mind you, not unimportant by any reckoning.

Nearly five months of 2016 have already gone by in a flash. Time has been ‘flying’ for oh, well over a 100 years. Only now it is flying at the speed of a meteor. It seems only yesterday, or last week, when at midnight on New Year’s Eve one was hearing the ‘traditional’ ‘celebratory’ aerial firing going on for a good half hour.

I am a pacifist, a wildlifer and a wanderer quintessentially, and cannot relate to arms or armaments in any manner. But even ignoramus me could distinguish at least half a dozen different weapons being fired off that night – TTs, 9 MMs, repeater shotguns, an SMG or two, and of course the uncrowned ‘national’ weapon, the AK47 or Klashnikov; or ‘Klashni’ as it lovingly called by the hordes of devoted  owners and users of this assault rifle. In my teenage years, (a long time ago, admittedly) if anyone had mentioned Klashnikov, you would have thought the Russian ambassador is being mentioned! We fought our battles the old-fashioned way with fists and kicks and knees aimed at the groin. If someone in college ever flashed a flick-knife, he was regarded forever as a dangerous hoodlum – a badmash. That’s about the worst it got. But then those were the days when girls cycled freely on the streets, foreign tourists jammed Zainab Market, and you could buy a Coke and a chicken pattie for less than 2 rupees.

Back to the present. A third of the ‘New Year’ has already gone past. The world is worse off in practically all respects than it was at the same time a year ago. More wars, more innocent deaths, more destruction and suffering, more intolerance and hatred, etc, etc. You know it yourself and don’t need me to tell you about it. In fact, you may well be feeling disgusted already and not at all inclined to keep reading on this harangue, if you will.

So alright, the good news.

  1. Zaheer Ahmed Siddique is an 82 year old eminent poet, distinguished scholar and professor of Persian, and a Government College University, Lahore teacher for a long, long time. He recently announced the donation of his life savings of Rs. 5 million and his land worth Rs. 140 million (14 crores if you prefer) to the GCU Endowment Fund Trust, for giving scholarships to financially challenged students. Isn’t that totally heartwarming? Gives a huge boost to your faith in humankind, doesn’t it? I mean as far as I am concerned, the moral value of this is no less than Warren Buffet giving away almost all his fortune, some US$ 35 billion to charity.
  1. Some weeks ago I lost my passport, quite inexplicably, and apparently in the office. Yes, it happened. Something which never should. Home and office were turned over but it could not be found. Anyway, to get to the heart of the story, a day before I was going to apply for a new passport, I get a call on my cellphone from a stranger claiming he had found my passport on a street near Zamzama (my route home from office daily) and wished to return it to me. He had got my number off a couple of business cards which I habitually keep in my passport. I recalled then, stopping at a shop on a street off Zamzama on my way home and of course getting out of the car. How the passport fell off on the street is really not important here. So this person offers to return my passport and there is a pregnant silence while I wait for what I thought would be the inevitable – him asking for a reward, most probably monetary.

Guess what? He didn’t want a cent as a reward and only requested me to remember him in my prayers. He said it wasn’t necessary that we should meet and he will simply post my passport to me. After much discussion I persuaded him to hand it over to me personally, so that I could at least thank him in person. A day later he meets me at the agreed rendezvous of Do Talwar, gives back to me the passport, shakes hands and drives off on his motorbike. A young man in early ‘thirties at most, apparently middle class, clad in well-worn jeans and an even more well-worn neck-less T-shirt, and riding a motorbike which had seen better days.

What do you say to that? All this is God’s truth and which happened with me and not with someone else and heard from someone else.

  1. Story number 3. Not many may have heard of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), one of those few government institutions which are quietly doing remarkable work, unrecognized by the populace at large. For almost half a century, the PAEC has been researching into, developing and utilizing nuclear energy for peaceful uses. It has nothing to do with our nuclear weapons arsenal, which is the responsibility of another organization. The PAEC, if it is known at all, is known as the owner and operator of our nuclear powered electricity generation plants. The oldest, KANUPP outside Karachi, has been operational for over 4 decades without any incident. PAEC also operates the nuclear power plants at Chashma, and is currently setting up 2 new plants near KANUPP, which will be ultra-safe and contribute greatly to mitigating our national electricity shortage.

But this is not about PAEC’s nuclear

powered electricity generation plants. I want to share here with you another remarkable fact about PAEC. This unassuming organization has also been operating for years, no less than 18 nuclear technology based cancer hospitals nationwide! It has treated over 800,000 cancer patients. And you thought that the only cancer hospital in the country worth mentioning is the much publicized one in Lahore, set up several years ago now, by someone who remains resolutely wishful of becoming the Prime Minister of this country.

Does PAEC get a thumbs-up or not?

What then of the rest of this year?

  1. Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States.
  2. Nothing much will come out of the Panama Papers.
  3. Global economic growth will further stagnate.
  4. The Middle East will remain quagmired in conflict.
  5. Climate change intensity will increase, in spite of new international accords.
  6. The new ‘clash of civilizations’, recently intensified by the migrants crisis in Europe will further grow.
  7. Polio will be eradicated forever from this planet, becoming only the second disease after smallpox to be completely eradicated from our world. That is, if you don’t count the stock of smallpox virus being held in top secret labs by some countries.
  8. More and more people will move towards a healthier diet.
  9. In spite of all challenges, world poverty will reduce.
  10. And perhaps most importantly for human society holistically, people like Dr. Zaheer and my nameless passport benefactor, will continue to be there all over the world, spreading goodness selflessly and keeping our candle of hope alight.

All the best for what is expected to be a long hot summer!

One Response to In Our Life & Times – 2

  1. Hunaid Tambawala says:

    I agree with 9 of your 10 assessments for the remainder of 2016. I have not given up hope on Senator Sanders.

    It is my opinion that each noble act creates hundreds of more and it will be such acts that bring us out of darkness. It may take several more generations and sometimes it will seem like we are going backwards. We will see acts that will make us give up hope especially when we see the massive amount of suffering by those who are born into suffering with no apparent way out of it.

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