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Tuesday, July 04, 2017


Over half the states that make up the union we call the United States are actually Native American words for the land or the people. White men kept them as they spread out …

1. Alabama
Named after the Alibamu tribe of Indians who were members of the Creek Confederacy. Literally, it means “clears the thicket.”

2. Alaska
From the word “Alakshak’ which means peninsula.

3. Arizona
This one’s uncertain but may derive from a word meaning “small springs.”

4. Connecticut
From the expression “quinnitukg-ut” which means “at the long tidal river.”

5. Hawaii
From the words “Havaiki” or “Hawaiki,” which was the legendary name of the original Polynesian homeland.

6. Idaho
Derived from one of three sources and meaning one of three things:
Comanche “Idahi”
Shoshone “ee-dah-how” which means something like “Good Morning”
Salmon River Tribe of Indians “Ida” means salmon and “ho” means tribe so we might be saying “Salmon eaters”.

7. Illinois
From “ilhiniwek” or “illiniwek”. “Illini” meant “man” and “iwek” makes the word plural, so, literally, “men.”

8. Iowa
Named after the Ioway Indians.

9. Kansas
Named after the Kansa Indians.

10. Kentucky
Means one of three things: meadow lands, cane and turkey lands, or dark and bloody ground.

11. Massachusetts
An Indian word meaning “about the big hill.”

12. Michigan
From the Chippewa Indian word “Michigama” meaning “large lake.”

13. Minnesota
From the Dakota Indian word “Minisota” meaning “white water.”

14. Mississippi
From the Choctaw word meaning “Great water” or “Father of Waters.”

15. Missouri
“Town of the large canoes.”

16. Nebraska
From the Oto Indian word meaning “flat water.”

17. New Mexico
Named after Mexico, of course. Means “place of the Mexica.” One source says that it’s derived from the name “Mertili” who was an Aztec god.

18. Ohio
From the Iroquois word meaning “beautiful.”

19. Oklahoma
From the Chocraw word meaning “red people.”

20 & 21. South and North Dakota
This used to all simply be called the Dakota Territory. The Indian word “Dahkota” means “friends” or “allies”.

22. Tennessee
From the Cherokee “Tanasi” which was a village. The word means one of three things: “meeting place”, “winding river”, or “river of the great bend”.

23. Texas
A Caddo Indian word meaning “allies.”

24. Utah
Derived from the Ute Indian word “Yuta” meaning “people who live high in the mountains.”

25. Wisconsin
From the word “Wishkonsing” meaning “place of the beaver.”

26. Wyoming
“On the Great Plain.”

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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Spiritual Music of South India

Kuldeep M Pai
"Kuldeep M Pai is an accomplished Indian classical musician and composer with an intrinsic sense of melody and creativity. He has mastered the playing of instruments including several percussion mediums. This versatile artist who is also a keen learner, has learnt and imbibed  the nuances of western classical music as well. In his ever expanding horizon of music, he delves deeper and deeper into the art form, exploring its core essence with dedication, conviction and undeterred devotion. 
Music, to Kuldeep, is a metaphysical medium which arrays the world in perfect alignment with the Ultimate energy. An in- depth understanding of the quintessence of this divine art form combined with a staunch adherence to our Santhana Dharma has persuaded Kuldeep to transcend the stylistic aspects of the art and arrive at its very core, where Music becomes a mere path to Silence."

KMP has learnt from Sri Antony Master, Sri Arun Kumar, and Sri Shamsuddeen in Carnatic Vocal. He also learnt Violin from Sri Hariharan, as well as Western Classical Piano from Sri Ramamurthy.

Although he himself plays and sings beautifully … his compositions and training of of bhajans and other religious songs which he teaches to young children are on another level.

One of KMP's remarkable series

Listen to these remarkable youngsters
specially, to Sooryagayathri.

She is going to be a really great performer,
the signs of which are already seen in her renditions.

Aren't they just amazing!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

14.09.1947 - 13.06.2017

Linda Watson

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Four books I read recently …

Brilliant Graphic Novel.
Something that many of my young friends should read
and also think of 'Growing Up in Pakistan',
as well as their future careers and their parental pressures.

Midhat was a friend of mine.
His (and Basarat's) daughter has written
a brilliant book.

TZH is a Pakistani Theoretical Physicist
and is a String Theorist.
I hope she comes to T2F for a 'Science ka Adda' session.

The book covers the most important ideas in Science
and, written as a Fact/Fiction piece,
it takes you through the passion of science.
Read it!!!

An inspiring book that addresses a lot of questions
that the young ask, given the way that the present day
forced Religious Instruction in Educational Institutes
plus the madness that current terrorists offer.

An Atheist Muslim
takes you through a Muslim/Atheist view.
The book is not likely to be available in Pakistan
but an Urdu translation is being considered.
It will also be available in an English Audiobook.

I wish people would read this and answer
some of his questions and queries.

AB, who's Fun Home was a bestseller graphic novel,
runs a series of cartoons that have to do with Dykes.
This is one such collection.
It is remarkably good and, unless you think you shouldn't
be reading this, I'd strongly recommend it.

On the other hand
I wouldn't advise young people to read this.
Not yet, anyway!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

An Urdu poet I love …

Zahoor Nazar's collection of Nazms
I bought this book in 1978
and have read it many many times.

Although he never became as famous
as I thought he would,
this collection is superb.

From his poetic Paysh Lafz,
a 7-page poem that starts with these lines
Maéñ shaaér hooñ

Maéñ nay jo mahsoos kiyaa haé jo daykha haé vohi kahaa haé

Chaahay voh dükh ho yaa sükh ho …
to his last nazm, Shahré Saba,
this collection provided me wth a lot of things to think about.
If you can still get a new edition, do get it.

Although I like many poems,
here is list of my real favourites.

His 5 poems of people's victories
that follow each other in style: 
Inqilaabé Cheen
Jagtay Jazeeray
Faith Suez
Inqilaabé Iraq
Maojé Sada

His 5 Martial Law poems:
Shabkhoon Kay Baad
Ayk Eed
A'eené Nao

His brilliant poems
(about life, the universes, and everything?):
Aé Ghamé Sübhé Tarab
Maéñ Tera Kaon Hooñ
Chiraagh Talay
Ayk Raat
Patja∂h Ki Ayk Shaam
Ayk Mülaaqaat

And, finally,
my two absolute favourites:
Naee Gali

Read him if you can find the book.
It'll be old, because it never got published again.


Sunday, March 05, 2017

Marrying Ahlé Kitaab …

Many times I have heard that Muslim men can marry Ahlé Kitaab women who can remain under their Jewish or Christian religions, but Muslim women cannot marry Ahlé Kitaab men who want to continue to be Jews or Christians.

Not only has this been repeatedly told by mullaas as well as their non-mullaa ilks, like Zakir Naik, but it is also referred to in most Muslim families by parents and grandparents.

I have looked over the net and found several pieces supporting this attitude … but almost everyone says that the idea comes from Hadees. Considering that not every sub-sect believes in Ahaadees, and some sectors believe in a different section of Ahaadees, this cannot be the final ruling. I really wanted a Quranic ruling that can be applied to all Muslims.

Discovering that many people mentioned above also quoted the Quran as the source, I asked them for the relative passages and this is what I got:

First: I was told that it was in Surah 2 Aayah 221 which is quoted here:

This is talking about polytheists and not the Ahlé Kitaab who believed in one God. And it says so for 'your women' (and in a couple of translation as 'your daughters'). That makes it clear that it did not prevent women from marrying an Ahlé Kitaab, nor did it say she must force the man to convert.

Second: Other friends and their friends also quoted a more pertinent item, Chapter 5 Verse 5

Here it says in the second part that one can marry a chaste woman from among the believers but also from those who were given the Scripture before the Muslims. The people say that the Ayat is meant for man … and not for women.

Rather strange, I thought, because we often talk of Mankind (and other similar phrases in other languages) — but always refer to Men and Women. When I said this to them, I was told, "This is your poor interpretation". — Ok, then! But lets read the first part of the Ayat again:

Does that mean that since its in the same Ayat that - according to them - applies to Men, the food restriction is not for Women and she can, if she wants, have a different type of food from Men? Obviously not!!!

I shall be really obliged if some of you with a better understanding of the Qur'an than myself would please advise me about two things:

(1) The Qur'an offers advice fairly often to Men, but Women are - inclusively - supposed to follow the Ayat (we can find instances all over the Qur'an of this). Is this a linguistic problem, as I think, and not a gender-based one. That in most cases (unless specifically stated in the verse) the Qur'an is for all genders.

(2) Is there a verse in the Qur'an that says — differently from the two quoted above — Ahlé Kitaab men must convert to Islam before they marry a Muslim women? Or is that a Sünnah (which all Muslims must follow). Or is it based only on a Hadees.

Perhaps under the Comment section here you could respond. Thank you.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Aesaa Naheeñ Chalay Ga?


Sunday, January 01, 2017

It was the end of 2016 …

… and it took another one away.

Imtiaz Ahmad
Batsman, Wicket Keeper, Bowler
5th January 1928 — 31st December 2016

He brought colour into our lives.

Played in his first test for Pakistan in 1952
against neighbouring India.

Played for Nehru's Indian Team (at Nehru's request)
against the Rest of the World, scoring
300 Runs - Not Out
at the Brabourne Stadium, Bombay.

With his partner, Maqsood Ahmed,
Imtiaz was the fastest batsman in our team.

"Caught Imtiaz, Bowled Fazal"
(Fazal Mahmood 'Fazalled' England — Remember?)
That was our favourite phrase at the time.

He retired from Test Cricket in 1962.
Remained at the Cricket Academy until his death.

Imtiaz was not just a brilliant cricketer,
he was also a lovely poet.

Read about him in my earlier posts

Thank you for those wonderful days, Imtiaz Sahab.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Shamim's gone …

Dr. Syed Shamimuddin Ahmad

My closest friend

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro: Dead at 90

Fidel Forever — 25.11.2016
Today I have seen many programs on TV, posts on the Net, emails, and a lot more on Facebook and Twitter, telling us how good Castro was, as well as how bad he was. We have seen Cuba mourning and eyes loaded with tears … and the Cubans in USA jumping with joy that he is dead.

Should my opinion of him and his one-time partner, Ché Guvera (who's picture people from Communists and Revolutionaries and Liberals and others post everywhere … and wear his T-Shirt Image in colleges and on the streets) change?

Ché Guevara

My encounter with Cuba has several things that I can recall.
Each one has been better than the other.


My first encounter was when I went to Cuba on my ship as a Merchant Navy Captain. We walked off the ship to get into the main city, but all we had were US$. We thought anybody would change them. But there was no shop around. The three of got on to a bus and offered the money to the driver who said he couldn't take US money. We said we had no other money and wanted to get to a bank to change this. He asked us to sit down.

Then, he put his hand in his pocket, brought out some small change, counted it, and put it in the ticket money box!!! His own money! He said we were guests and didn't have the money. He had the money and was paying it for us, since he can't take us free.



My second encounter was going out into the city (after we had changed our money) and walk around the place, watching people eating ice-cream, smoking cigars, singing group songs on the road, dancing everywhere. They lived quite happily, it seemed to me, despite the fact that they had problems buying most things that we take for granted in our lives.


My third encounter was to go to the University with the ship's agents. He knew Che's daughter, Aleida Guevara.

Aleida with Fidel and Ché
She was wonderful and I remembered her telling us about her father who left them to go to Bolivia when she was 4 and was killed when she was only 7. Like her father, she is a strong Marxist. A Physician, she has been part of Cuba's growing interest in Education and Medical facilities, which I will talk a little about later.

(Aleida Guevara refused to go to a mass Pope Francis would lead during his historic Cuban trip, saying it would be “hypocritical” of her to be present.)


Many years later, my daughter, Ragni Marea, was at Hampshire College and had the option of going abroad to Paris or to a place in Cuba for a year's studies. When she wrote to me, I suggested that she go to Cuba. After all, I said to her, that Paris would probably be Paris when she comes out of College and she could visit it anytime. But if Castro died, Cuba wouldn't be worth visiting, somehow. So that's where she went for a year's studies.


Meanwhile, in Pakistan we had the worst Earthquake in history. More than thousands died. Thousands lost their homes. 

(I was in New Delhi, having breakfast at Tarun Tejpal's house He had gone to the bathroom. I felt a small jolt. He came out, wrapped in his towel, and asked f there was an earthquake. We got out of the house and many people were coming out and looking everywhere. New channels told us that there areas had been hit in Kashmir. No news of Pakistan, of course. I phoned BITS - Sabeen's and my software company - and found out that life has been much worse in Azad Kashmir.

Not just worse, much much worse, as I discovered three days later. A member of our team, Ziad Asim, had lost several members of his family and was now working at BITS on a software to bring people together in case they wanted to contribute goods to the earthquake victims. I asked him why he hadn't gone home. He said there is no place to go to. Everyone is dead. Sabeen was organising for places collecting the goods to be put on our website, so that people could deliver their goods there.)

Cuba sent us Doctors and Medical Aid facilities and Equipment that flew in every few days and added more and more. We were filled with their people here. They even sent out Pakistanis that they couldn't treat, locally, right into their own hospitals in Cuba. Even Ragni was called to translate some of the patient's broken-Urdu into English for the medical program workers there.

Had this earthquake happened in Cuba, would Pakistanis have said anything other than a few minor 'sorries' in the press. After all, our 'bosses' in the USA would hardly have been happy even with that!


Later on, when I was in Pakistan, Dr. Ghazala Aziz - a friend and a Doctor - was working with the people supporting the earthquake victims. She decided to hold a concert of Indian Classical Music stars, Shubha Mudgal and her husband Aneesh Pradhan, in Karachi to get money for these victims. 

Aneesh& Shubha
Shubha and Aneesh arrived here with their team and we had a concert that was lovely. The next day we took them out to the French Beach, with Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad's group so they could hear a live qavvaali at a hut that had been arranged.

I decided to call Ragni in Cuba so that she could listen to Shubha on my iPhone. She was a great fan of Shubha and Aneesh. A voice answered. I couldn't recognise it. So I called again. The same voice said, with some difficulty, "Abi. It's Ragni. I have fallen down. Hurt my back. Badly. I will be tested again, tomorrow. Please call again." - Stumped, I called Dr, Hasan Aziz (Ghazal's husband) out from the crowd. He spoke to Ragni and then told me that I should try and get to Cuba.

Ghazala gave me a number of a Doctor from Cuba, who was now in Pakistan. I called him and he said, "Don't worry about the Visa. I'll get it for you. Just get me to talk to the Doctor in Cuba and if he says you are needed, we will fly you out, asap, in one of our planes." Imagine — a Doctor willing to help me out, in the middle of his own work at the earthquake site. 


The next day I got a call from Cuba. Ragni spoke for a while and then the Doctor spoke to me and said that she'd hurt her back but was out of danger. She'd have to stay at home for 5 weeks and would not be able to return to her work at the University. He'd visit every week and I could call his home number and ask about Ragni. There was no need for me to come there.

I was glad that she was out of danger, though worried about her back. It later turned out that she'd hurt her vertebra in three places.

I was happy that she was being looked after by these people.


Four days later I got another phone call.
This was from Ragni's professor.

(I am quoting from memory and through what were, then, really happy tears. The words may not be quite right, but the gist is.)

"Dear Mr. Kidvai, Ragni is a wonderful student and can't attend her classes any more because of her hurt. I wanted your permission to visit her every two days and teach her what she has missed in class … so that when she finishes her course, I can give her the same test. I am sure she will pass. But I need your permission to do so and would like you to speak to her house people that it is OK by you."


I come from an area that, many realise, is known for its friendship and the way we treat our new and old friends. But this, I was never prepared for. I cannot say "Thank you" often enough to the Cuban people. May you live in Peace.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A memory of the Vietnam War …

Fifty-one years ago this happened.

Read more »

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Etymology - 2 (Or should that be Et 2?)

As I said in my last post — Etymology - 1 (Kind of …), just in case you missed it — Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. 

Te 2 Volume Compact OED

Because of my friend Masood Mahmood's description, I bought this 2 Volume Oxford English Dictionary, when my ship went to London. It had the full several volume dictionary compacted into two volumes. You had to use a magnifying glass to read the entries - and that came in the little box on the top.

This dictionary not only told us of the origins of most words, their movements from one language to another, the ways it had been used, the very first time it was used, it even offered us quotes of the words from well-known authors. Brilliant!

Among the first word I found when briefing through the volume — not an easy task, given its weight and the large magnifying glass being held — was Masquerade. The word, came from Masque - a face mask that people wore at these dance balls. And who did you think generally wore masks? Clowns! So what was the origin of this set of words? Think of Mascara, the eye shadow liner that women use and that does look a bit like the eyes of a mask if broadened in its application. You are getting close. Yes … the clowns made us laugh and were called Maskhara in Arabic. مسخرہ! There were hundreds more words there that came from Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani.

Soon after buying this dictionary I also bought
this delightful book.

Yiddish is a language that was used by Jews in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It was originally a German dialect with words from Hebrew and several modern languages and is today spoken mainly in the US, Israel, and Russia. I loved Yiddish words and phrases (not only because many centuries ago my family was Jewish). I came across Yiddish words and phrases often in some American novels and very often in Jewish Humour and Satire. My admiration for Lenny Bruce - one that almost turned into worship - was another reason I loved Yiddish.

Reading Joys at the same time as reading many religious books, specially our own, I found the words had very different meanings in the Jewish language, Aramaic. Some words even came down to Yiddish, too.

I learnt, for example, the Jahannüm (جہنّم) was written as Ge Hennom, the name of a valley between two very high close mountains. The winds that went through it were terribly hot. A person guilty of treason was thrown live into that valley. The winds very slowly scorched him to a fiery death. 

This fun Yiddish dictionary, which had many interesting words, also had loads of humour - thanks to Rosten.  I still read it when I am feeling low.

Since some Yiddish words had their origins in Aramaic, Joys also got me interested in that language, too. I went looking for an Aramaic-English book, but that proved almost impossible. I did find smaller books, though, that translated parts of it, specially the Biblical stories, another area of my interest - and one that I really love.

For this who don't know anything about Aramaic,
Wikipedia says this:

The Aramaic language is a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. Originally this language of the Aramaeans, it was used, in many dialectical forms, in Mesopotamia and Syria before 1000 B.C., and later became the lingua franca of the Middle East. Aram is the Hebrew word for ancient Syria. Aramaic survived the fall of Nineveh (612 B.C.) and Babylon (539 B.C.) and remained the official language of the Persian Empire (539-337 B.C.). Before the Christian era, Aramaic had become the language of the Jews in Palestine. Jesus preached in Aramaic, and parts of the Old Testament and much of the rabbinical literature were written in Aramaic language.

Potassium comes from the English word Potash. The chemical symbol, K, comes from Kalium, the Mediaeval Latin for Potash. Kalium was taken from the word alkali, which in turn came from Arabic: القَلْيَه‎‎ al-qalyah (= "plant ashes"). The similar-sounding English term alkali is from this same root. Elemental Potassium oxidizes rapidly in air and reacts vigorously with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite Hydrogen emitted in the reaction. Kali - a Hindu Goddess -  has her earliest appearance of a destroyer principally of evil forces, and is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Her name came from the Indo-European language.

Ignis is Latin for Fire. In Hindi Agni means fire, and connotes the Vedic fire-god. In Sanskrit: “She Who Is Death”; In Hinduism, goddess of time, doomsday, and death. Another God that got its name from Indo-European languages.

Ether is the rarefied element formerly believed to fill the upper regions of space. It was all around us. It comes from Latin aethēr (“the upper pure, bright air”), from Ancient Greek αἰθήρ (aithḗr, “upper air”), from αἴθω (aíthō, “I burn, shine”). In Arabic it is Ithar (ایثر) and in modern Hindi it is Ishwar which comes from the Sanskrit word Ishvara meaning "the supreme lord who is around us all". Obviously one cannot help but see the links between this word, its Arabic equivalent, and the Hindi word. Here is a picture that describes the god.

Some of you, specially young readers, may ask
why should there be any Indo-European languages.
This is what actually happened
(taken from Herari's "Sapiens" - an amazing book!)

The Urdu word (مادر) followed the same Persian root.

Here are some more words that we use that come

from Aramaic and are used in Abrahamic Religions.

A word that struck me was Rachmon. This meant the kind of love that a mother gives to a child in her womb, never having yet seen it. Remember that many of our people also say Rakhman instead of Rahman (after all there is only a 'dot' on top of خ to make it a ح — kind of like a diacritical mark). So when the Jews say Rachmones be on you,  they mean that their God should give you the love that a mother gives to her child while it is in the womb. An undying love. The Arabic word (رحمٰن) came from this Aramaic word. ٰIt describes the Muslim God who loves them.

From the Quranic Verse [17.110]

Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names.""

(Translation: Abdullah Yusuf Ali) 

Nephesh is used in Arabic/Urdu as Nafs (نفس), and in the English Bible it as translated as Breath. A term we use often with slightly varying meanings in both these languages.

Rouach means Wind and is used as Rooh (روخ translated into روح : See my note above) in Arabic or Urdu. It is translated in the Bible as Spirit.

Shechinah is spelt Shekinah in English and is not in the Bible but comes from Talmudic writing. It is a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote 'the dwelling or settling divine presence of God'. In Arabic/Urdu it is Sakeenah (سکینہ), a common Urdu name for females.

There is so much to learn via Etymology. Let me almost end this post with a well-known Urdu word and how it may have been translated from Arabic into Hindustani.

Think of (ٰضیا)
pronounced in Arabic as Dhiya'
(and in English as Zia)
meaning "The Light".

Think of Diya (دیا)
used in Hindustani/Hindi/Urdu
as a lamp or "a source of light".

Could that difference have come from the ORIGINAL word being translated into two different forms by listening to the sounds and writing it in the Hindustani language in its Urdu and Hindi scripts? 

Happy Divali

But, finally, we must end with Death.
(It is so far the only way we know of how to leave this world,
though Science will soon take care of this, too, I know!)

We call this Death
Maot (موت) - in Urdu

Arabic = (Al Maot),
Hindi (Mautaa),
Indonesian (Maut)
and in many other languages.

We often say, in Urdu,
Maot has arrived
when Death arrives at someones door.

But where do we get the word Maut from?

From early Hebrew!
'Maot' was their name for the 'God of Death'.

God be with you!!!

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Etymology - 1 (Kind of …)

OED 2 Volumes with Magnifying Glass
Contains the full OED Compacted.

Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time … and I am in love with it. If I ever had the chance to choose a career for life, Etymologist would be it.

Of course, I never did choose a career for life.

I started wanteing to be a doctor, like my father (Abi) - but not because of his real influence. Born in 1940 to a doctor - who had been recruited in late 1943 to the British Military Service in WW2 - I travelled to several cities (in and outside India, and to parts that later became Pakistan) with him until the war ended. 

There were no children in camps but Abi insisted that Ummi (my mother) and I had to go along … and was granted permission to do so by the Army. So I was the only child around. The first trip I went to was when I was 4 years old.

With Abi I went fairly often to Hospitals where he treated several soldiers who were injured, some almost beyond belief. I saw nearly dead soldiers and even saw a soldier die before my eyes. I never seemed to fear death. In fact the oldest memory I have was that my Nani (maternal grandmother) died when I was 3 … and I remember that event so clearly. When she was gone, I was told that the angels had taken her to a place to cure her. That was what 'dead' meant to me for years.

In the middle of the war we went to Calcutta for a few days holiday with my Khala (Vaseem). It was there that sirens announced planes coming down (Japanese, I was told) to bomb us. We hid under tables. I was told not to pick up sweets that they may drop, because eating them would cause us to die. Don't know if that was to scare me or it was real.

There were two things I did remember from the camps: One was the day we were celebrating Victory. A young soldier climbed up a long set of stairs and jumped into a pool of water underneath. He missed. Fell flat a couple of feet away. And was dead. On the spot!

Before that death, I remember my father and his colleague discussing a man whose head been pierced by some bullet marks. His colleague, perhaps his senior, had said that they couldn't treat him as it was too close to the brain and there was no way that he would survive the surgery. I often thought of that. I even asked my father, who drew weird pictures on a piece of paper to show what a brain was. But I couldn't really understand.

Later on, just before the 1947 Partition, I was in Budge Budge where my Khalu (famous Indian hockey-player, Asad Ali) had been posted by the Customs.  I saw a few dead people floating down the river because of Hindu-Muslim riots. The river was just across the street. My childhood friend, Sattar, a servant 3 years older than me, was playing football with me and he kicked it so hard that it went across the street, right into a winding part of the Hooghly River. He rushed and bent down the floating bushes to pick up the ball and threw it right back after showing it to me. It was the head of a dead child he had picked up by mistake.

So I wanted to be a doctor as I grew up. A brain surgeon was what I wanted to be. Life at colleges were tough. I got thrown out of one; I walked off the exams in the second one. That'll be in another blogpost that I write. 

Abi was getting severe heart attacks during those days and I couldn't have lived off his money for long. Another year at college. Five years at Medical School. Two years of Internships. Several years of setting myself up as a Surgeon. No way!

I told Abi the only one of two lies I remember telling him: I had done well at my exams and was going to get a First Division. (The second lie I won't get into.) I then said I was going to sail away on a friend's father's ship to Chittagong and meet my cousin there … and come back. I wrote to him from Chittagong that I had actually joined a ship and was in the Merchant Navy now. He was most upset. Again, that'll be in another blogpost, too.

Abi died in 1963. Didn't even live to see me pass my exams and get a reward for having topped the International Navigation marks. Then they suddenly decided to stop giving the official awards, so my Merchant Navy College Head, Captain Safdar, gave me a TimePiece-cum-StopWatch as my gift.

Many of my loves and passions come to me from Abi: Classical Music, Eastern and Western; becoming a voracious reader in English and Urdu; love of and the writing of Urdu Poetry; watching Cricket & Tennis; being totally in love of Science; a passion for correct languages; fighting for Human Rights; loving the truth; even crying in movies :(

We were poor, too. My father had left the Army after Partition, had serious medical problems himself, had a few odd jobs but coudn't continue at his clinic so there was really no money in the house. Ummi was amazing at how she managed to make the loveliest dishes with what little we had - and kept not us but every visitor asking for more. She knew how to make the food we loved out of everything she could get. I used to always tease her about how she managed to put water into everything and make it expand into a lovely, large, edible dish.

Abi's love of books never died. On days when he did go to the clinic and made some money, he'd give most of it to Ummi … but he always bought another book. For himself; for Ummi; and for my birthday gifts. He said to me that if I were really hungry I could tighten my belt and survive another day when food would somehow arrive. But a book was a book. "It gives you pleasure whether your stomach is full or empty …".

One of his loves was Dictionaries. We had many of them. Farsi, Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish. Old and new. He loved words. … and that, too, came to me.

Which is why I really should have been an Etymologist. 

From the Merchant Navy, after 25 years of service, I came back to Karachi (Ummi's illness and the birth of my daughter, Ragni Marea, after 14 years of marriage) and set-up an educational computing company, Interface, the first of its kind in Pakistan. This arrangement, bad as it was, moved me (with a lot of difficulty) into opening Solutions Unlimited - a consultancy that now runs with my wife heading it. I founded Enabling Technologies, which produced the best Multimedia Software including CD-ROMs in Pakistan. As an Apple-only company we even produced our first CD-ROM for IBM! (That's going to be one of my blogpost, I promise.)

In the meanwhile I also joined Hamdard University and taught for three years until the first Masters came out. Jehan Ara and Sabeen assisted me at some lectures, too. My best student was Syed Ali Hasan, who is now one of our great animators and now also runs a 3D Printing company.

While this was on, I began drawing cartoons for The Friday Times. You can see them here. Do see the first few, anyway. I'll add more as soon as they become available.

My companies — when they started — had my wife Nuzhat, Sabeen, Jehan Ara, and myself … and none of us had taken Computer Studies in our lives, except Sabeen at school. And she had come to my company for further studies. Her KGS Computer Teacher hated her. From Sabeen's exam papers some pages removed when they were sent to UK … so she failed the subject. Efforts by her father, Tallat, proved that this had happened. An act on his part (probably bashing up the Principal!) was probably stopped by Sabeen's mother, Mahenaz, who was teaching at KGS Kindergarten.

The remaining three of us learnt computers on our own, using a BBC computer and then moving on to a 9" Mac. Nothing comes even close to these two systems.

Later on, Sabeen — who'd joined us when she was 14+ as a student and stayed on until she formed PeaceNiche-T2F — and I decided to open Beyond Information Technology Solutions (BITS), partly in association with the Kasuris. They soon left, dedicated as they were to Education, and I owned the company.

Jehan Ara - who had joined us when she had come back from Hong Kong - said she'd rather not be part of this. So we split half of the company: She continued Enabling Technologies and is now the head of Nest I/O and P@SHA.

Sabeen soon became a Director at BITS (as a gift for her years of service with me) and continued with me as a Consultant to some ventures that we occasionally took online (including our work at Tehelka/India and a leading paper in Afghanistan), despite running her new organisation extremely well. In fact T2F is now considered a standard here and elsewhere.

This ended with Sabeen's assassination on 24th April 2015.
Like me, Sabeen was never afraid of death.
Listen to a TV Program about her.

I am sorry I have bored you with this rather long drawn-out preamble. I promise I will move on to Etymology - 2 as soon as I have the time. If you like what I write, you'll find it enjoyable.

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