Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Inevitably changing.

'Be the change you wish to see in the world' 
- Gandhi 

Growing up in a city engulfed by terror and a hypocritical title of 'The City of Light', Gandhi's words were what I grew up listening to. 

The transitional period from that to my arrival to the United States introduced me to YouTube (YouTube was banned in Pakistan on 22 February, 2008, following the controversy over the video which is said to depict the Prophet in a lewd manner. The ban was lifted and put again a couple of times and was blocked permanently after September, 2012). 

Familiarizing myself with YouTube after five years was an obstacle I had to overcome to blend in with the society bearing in mind how the latest trends/Viral videos thrive on this video-sharing website. 
The spectrum of channels I came across while YouTube-ing(?) ranged from 'How-to..' to 'Funny cat dance' and other irrelevant stuff whose comment sections were stormed with lifeless 'lol(s)'. 
Somewhere in the mist of this website, I came across FouseyTube

If you don't know him, other than having my sympathies, there's a couple of other things I would like to enlighten you with.

Yousef Erakat is a YouTuber (If that's a word) who currently resides in Los Angeles. 
My teacher used to say a good sense of humor and personality compliment each other and apparently, Yousef has mastered this notion. Other than making funny videos, he is in a constant struggle to play his part in making the world a better place. His experiments such as that on bullying and how the public would respond to such a scenario have served as an eye-opener to whoever has access to his channel .
Needless to say, Yousef is doing his part right. 
His channel opened my eyes, and I bet it will open yours, too. 


Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Community service.

One of the rudiments of the program I'm on is...yes, you've guessed it.
Community Service. 

Nevertheless, deciding where you think you'd volunteer in the near future can be a hectic job at times.
I remember just after I got selected for this exchange year, a part of me was briskly supportive of the belief that the more community service hours I got, the better it would be for me once I get back. 
Not the case, whatsoever. 
I've been in the United States for more than five months now and I'll be honest, I'm not proud of the number of hours I've summed up so far. Not that I haven't or anything. My mediocre record makes me feel 'voluntarily inferior (If that's a thing)' to my peers. 
I mean, just look at everyone!. They're working their tushies off (which is good) and I'm here typing this draft on a fine Tuesday evening, regardless of the fact I, at this very moment, could be helping an old lady cross the street or something of the sort.
 Okay, maybe that was rude. 
Volunteering at MercyCare would be more appropriate. 
I have a friend. Great guy. Amazing personality. I won't name him, but just for the sake of it, let's call him Sir Work-A-Lot. He's currently in Massachusetts right now and let's say, is in Harvard (I bet he wishes this was real). Now, me and him, with a couple of more students from Karachi, came to the US at the end of August. A month later, I get a message from Sir-Work-A-Lot and we chat like the friends we are till we end up talking about community service. 
I hadn't even started yet. 
And he already had 83 hours. 
And I'm just staring at the chatbox like..

Okay, now, now. I'm not that much of a terrible person as you think I might be. I did volunteer at a couple of cool places. Here, have a look yourself.

 Hornell Animal Shelter 
Nothing beats the feeling when you're among your own kind. Wait, that came out wrong. What I meant was, the people who work there, they're just bow-down awesome. I was privileged to work with dogs and cats (And the people, too). No, I don't hate on any sort of canine or feline zoological being.They're all equally precious to me and the time I spent at the shelter was one of my best. Period. 

Babe was one fine French Mastiff. 


 Imagine yourself blended into a plethora of new faces looking up (literally) to you and trying to surpass the other in who gets your name right, or should I say, pronounce it right, first. If you haven't figured it out, I coach little kids with a buddy of mine. If you know me well, you would willingly bet what sport, too. Indoor soccer. It's just so, for a lack of better word, cute. If kids, running parallel to each other, thudding their way across the gym with a soccer ball at their feet and accidentally step on the ball leading to a dramatic crash on their buttocks doesn't make you laugh, then what does?

Fun fact about me: I didn't volunteer anywhere the first two months after I moved to my local community.


Saturday, 8 February 2014

Do you have an iPhone?

Now, I can bet five bucks you (Yes, you!) have been, once, asked this while making acquaintance with somebody you've just met at the bar five minutes ago (Or is it just me?). 
Oh boy. You, then, with a downhearted grimace, muster the courage, man-up (Sorry, ladies), look at the person in the eye and before the words fall out, look away and what are the chances your initial respond sounds something like, "Umm, naah, man..I'm aah not really an Apple person..y'know.."?

Before I get ahead of myself, I would like to add that I'm a foreign exchange student currently in New York and as much sense the title makes right now, it won't once you know what really happened.

I don't really know where to begin so I'll jump right in. This kid (A freshman, I believe) walked up to me in the hallway, leaned against the locker next to mine, and asked me something. Now, just so you know, I'm not hating on anybody, but the absurdness of that question made me wince. In fact, time actually froze for a second and my facial expression went from that of a jolly teenager to...

His speech sounded something like this.
"Hey, man, so I was wondering, umm, how do you guys travel in your country, I mean, like umm, you don't have cars, so, umm, do you ride camels?"

Needless to say, I was like..

Matter of fact, yes, we do.

Moving on. 
Back to the iPhone I never had.
A couple of months ago, I gave this presentation about Pakistan in one of the Global Studies classes in my high school. Everything went great. In fact, judging from the vibrant atmosphere and the shimmering eyes of the kid in the first row, I was positive they were having a good time. Their enthusiasm manifested itself, later on, in the questions they asked after the session.
The questions varied from racism in Pakistan to me being rich and were diverse as New York City's population. But curiosity killed the cat, didn't it?
They started getting out of hand. Funny, actually. These are some of the questions I encountered. 

1) Do you have iPhone(s) where you come from? Is Apple really a thing there, or just a fruit? (Hence, the title)
2) Do you have slaves there? Do you own a slave? 
3) Do you have internet there? (No, sweetie. I'll ignore the fact that you're following me on Twitter)
4) Do you know someone who is a terrorist? (LOLWUT)
5) Do you live in a house or a tent?
6) Do you have a lot of sand there? Have you ever seen snow?
7) Have you ever shot a gun at someone? (Kid was a huge fan of The Lone Survivor)
8) Have you ever seen grass? Do you have trees there?

I can go on and on with these questions and each question will surpass the former in terms of hilarity and my amusement. 

Nevertheless, it was a great experience. I had a great time. It felt amazing. Magical (Kinda). I made a difference. We all did. Isn't that what really matters?


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Who am I?

Long time no see. Or blog. Or whatever floats this blog. (I suck at this)
Aah, yes! So, who am I? 
I am a boy. (Wow. No crap, Sherlock)
Let's do this, shall we?
En garde.

 I looks at the world by the eyes of a child/genius/procrastinator and other adjectives I have no letters to shape all dependent on what I feel like. I also possess an inevitable habit of inheriting character traits from the latest movie I've seen. Sometimes, when life comes knocking at my door to enlighten me with some good news, I'm not home.

Now, before I say more, I would also like you to know my taste buds despise lemons more than a cat fears water (Well, technically, a Tiger doesn't..) and I never really understood the meaning of  “When life gives you lemon..” (Simply because it sounded so ‘citric’) so I once confronted an acquaintance and confessed the matter to him who, though shocked, with a tone of sarcasm advised me to seek someone whose life gave the person Grape Soda and enjoy.

I also have a sloppy habit of waking up late, with respect to my designated alarm time and often or maybe all of the time, so, my dad functions as an alternative alarm. He often hollers my name from the dining table which is actually an euphemism for, “Get up, you sleepy head!”. He, keeping up with a teenage-me, also developed a senseless habit of screaming my name from the top of his lungs and giving out an idiotic chuckle under his breath just to hear a frail bag of bones falling of a bed and symmetrical thudding as if someone’s hammering the bathroom door.
Ah! That reminds me, I also have an innate habit of spending long intervals of time in the bathroom. I often go to answer the call of nature, but apparently, am put on hold.
Also, you might find this silly goose blogging more often from now on.
Brace yourself.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

When teenagers rebel.

An issue in my country which I find too crucial to be left untouched is racism. Pakistan constitutes of four major provinces, the natives of each having different ethnic background and hence, are bound to have different complexions, accents and way of life. Though a difference, or diversity, is good, it, over the past few years has lead to inevitable violence. Why? Racism. 
Majority in most of the cases, regardless of the race, oppress the minority which nowadays is apparent in educational institutions where the minority is often bullied. Other than that, people also tend  to live by stereotypes and find sheer pleasure in degrading the ridiculed race. This is something which makes me sad and is not what the the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah fought for day and night. 
Over the past few years, racism has been on its peak and there have been numerous occasions which has lead to the death of many innocents. The Pathans, who are said to be the descendants of the army of Alexander the Great and indigenous to the north, often indulge in war with the Baloch, who inhabit the south west and are the descendants of the Arabs and Africans who migrated to the Subcontinent, over petty issues of just 'hate'.  

If racism doesn't stop, it is inevitable that it be adapted by the new generation which is likely to have a reverse effect on the economy of Pakistan.  If that happens, then after sixty years when I sit in the balcony next to my grandson and when he asks me about how our country, OUR Pakistan was back in my days , would I just reply with, "Not as much racist as it is today"?
 I often contemplate over the matter and devise literal plans on how to work for the betterment of my country, and to raise it to the likes of Great nations like Japan and USA but often end up dumbfounded on this question, "How shall a country compete with other nations in the world if it's busy fighting off with those who inhabit it?

I, as and individual and with my group of YES candidates, want to bring this predicament to an end. Racism on the basis of accents, complexion and sometimes even religion won't get us anywhere, we preach. We aim to invigorate a sense of brotherhood in my people, my fellow Pakistanis, bearing in mind the teaching of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Gandhi, that whatever God we believe in, we come from the same one. That an eye for an eye would end up making the world blind. That the person next to you, regardless of his race, bleeds no less than you. That the person next to you feels no less pain than you. That treat the person next to you, regardless of his/her social status not as an inferior/superior race, but as a human being. Treat him as you want to be treated. 

Friday, 11 October 2013


2011, I recall, December (Not quite sure about the date but I was a bit excited for new year's eve) there was a lot of fuss in school what everyone else would be doing for their vacations. I, with nothing to brag about, sat in the corner, alone, romanticizing with my own isolation. The last school day before the winter vacations, I, being the lazy guy that I am, put a strap of my bag on, and as the bell rang, set off to my home. The bus driver usually dropped me off at a distance of 500 meters from my place and I would head back at such a pace which made it quite apparent I would take pride in coming third in the rabbit-tortoise race. I, finally somehow, got home, went in, exhausted and took my shirt off. Laying on the bed half-naked and shaking my body symmetrically in accordance with the beats of the music I had on, I was held back to find a kitten sniffing about my foot. I was freaked out but over time, I ended up falling in love with her. I, for some incoherent reason, ended up labeling her as 'Jojo'.

Ah, yes. I was going through this magazine the other day and saw this poster of this young girl, sadly older than me, who went by the same name.

Jojo was an enthusiastic and cuddle-craving cat who enjoyed having processed food and loathed live meat giving a bad name to her cousins in the wild. Physically, she grew up to be quite big. Black, with orange patches on her back and white fur underneath her chin, she stood unparallel to my neighbor's Persian cat. As for her specie, I was always quite uncertain. The previous owner told me that her mom were Persian and her dad were Himalayan. A cross breed. A beautiful one, nevertheless. 

Jojo was always a playful cat. Since the day she arrived to the day we had to, for the sake of my grandma's allergy, give her away, other than sleeping and eating she was always messing around with the other pets. She often ran by the water pond and just stared at the fish and would often get lucky as for the turtles curiosity when it used to pop its head out of the water and she would give it a pat. Other than that, on numerous occasions, I've seen her trying to chase her shadow, but not in the carnivore stance, but in a Hey-I-can-watch-you way.

Jojo, I noticed over time seldom fought with any of the stray cat be it an issue over food or territory. She just used to purr but never attack. Being an epitome of a cat's health weighing out at five kilograms, she never fought back (Lucky stray cats). She just used to sit back, watch the other cat get done with whatever they were doing, and move on with her life. Her peaceful nature I often categorize as a miracle for a carnivore of such caliber. 

Jojo's nature has been one which everyone praised. Those who feared cats often ended up patting her. Though she's been gone for a while, the name 'Jojo' still depicts in me a picture of a black cat sitting next to a pond not for the sake of catching it, but just for the God-knows what enjoyment she got off of it. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Football..wait,no, I mean, soccer.


Yup. Pretty much sums up with what I had to adjust to when I got here. Ironic how it's called 'Football' in the rest of the world yet still I'm developing a habit of calling it 'soccer' because, well, I'm here.(I'm just kidding)
Now bare in mind that I'm not complaining and keep up with me. Things are different here. It's not what it's like 'back there' in Pakistan (Back at ma' crib). You can't expect others to change themselves for you. It's you who's changing here. Ever seen a majority fall down to the minority, eh? What's that, no? Aha you got that right. 

You don't know how embarrassing it is when you ask someone what time's training, just like back in Pakistan, and they're like, 'What?....Practice?". Yes. Practice. You don't have words to describe on how bad you feel for yourself, regardless of the fact that you went last night to bed memorizing different euphemisms and terms which substitute the exact equivalent in Pakistan.
"I play Football and yeah, I think I'm pretty good at it" - "Well, then why did you join the soccer team?." Well, crap. You did it again. It's soccer, NOT football. In other words, it's what you would call 'Rugby' back in Pakistan.
Over the past week, I (think) might have realized what it feels like to be a High School Student (Not like what it's in the TV. Take my word for it. Please). You know that feeling you get when you fascinate yourself being the protagonist, or maybe sometime's just trying to fathom the vibrant atmosphere around him, in a teen movie and when he get's all the attention? Well, it's not like that. Nobody cares who you are (Unless you're 6 feet tall. Then everyone's gonna come up to you and ask basketball related stuff). 
Being an exchange student from "Pauuykistaan", I find High School quite fun, though (Ignore what I mentioned above). Everything is so...clean (Don't be surprised hearing that from a Pakistani). Plus, everything is just so scheduled as if all of it is coming off a movie script (And I'm the hero. Lol.)

Nevertheless, forget the gibberish leprechaun chants I mentioned above. My exchange year, so far, has been great. I'm loving it here. Plus, subjects like photography and studio Art are something I'm so going to brag about once I get back to Pakistan.
Just so you know (Not bragging), I'm in the varsity soccer team and just won my first tournament with Hornell High. 

  (Great people, I tell you.) (And, oh, I'm the one in the black sweatshirt)

Well, pretty much what I felt like saying, or typing, or maybe blogging. Yeah, that's it (I'm kidding, I have way too much to say but this schedule won't let me sit in front of a laptop for more than 15 minutes)

For now, adios.