And so it begins…

And so it begins
Another new year
Amidst songs, smiles and a heartfelt tear
Welcoming, stylish displays, far and near
But what really is new?
I would like to hear
The same old aspirations, the same old fear
Older still, the draconian cheer
The optimistic resolves, the pessimistic smear
Taking rounds and rounds, with little to steer
Nothing too vague
None too clear
So what really is new? I would like to hear
Distancing waves or surrounding sneer
Never ending circles
No wear no tear
Like growing old, but little to tell
And nothing to jeer
An absolute stillness, the feeling sheer
So what really is new?
I would like to hear
Days and nights, lingering lights
Walking in sideways, no excuse, no swear
All too fine, but none too dear
Raving endlessly, with a useless veer
So what really is new?
I would like to hear

By farazkhalid Posted in Poems

The social gold mine!

A week ago, I decided to read one of those numerous emails that I keep receiving from the infamous banker in Nigeria. Almost everyone is aware of these emails, and I guess the first one I received was around 15 years ago.

The context is quite simple. There is a sum of $26m lying in an account in Nigeria, which our banker friend (angel that he is) desperately wants to transfer to “your” account. No, it’s not even illegal. The money belongs to a friend of that friend, who died (conveniently) in mysterious circumstances, and if that’s any worth, didn’t leave any trace of his dependents contact details. The banker, in his ultimate wisdom, waited for a few months for any heir to show up, before deciding to take things in his own hands. How he found “you” is no one’s business. What’s important is that in a very legal transaction, he will transfer the entire money to your account, then will come over to your country, kill you if he can, or as he puts it, just take a 14.5% cut. Why 14.5%, and not 15%, he never explains. Of course the banker will never come to your country to begin with. All he needs is your name, profile, account details and assessment of how stupid you are.

In 1997 when I probably saw such email for the first time, I knew instantly what a devious scam this is. Of course at that time some people who had just started using internet may have fallen for such things. 15 years later, what I wonder is that maybe some people are still falling for such things in today’s world. If it wasn’t so, such emails would have faded away a long time ago. The supply only exists if there’s a demand.

Social media, like anything else, can be dangerous in the hands of immature. Due to its inherent nature however, we cannot make laws on who gets to use internet or be on social media.

The nature of spams has evolved with the evolution of social media. We all know that facebook is a gold mine for someone interested in collecting profiles (name, address, email, even some personal data) of thousands of people. Just create a banner with a highly unimaginative quote, such as “Life is not xyz, it is a combination of abc and d, e, f, so drop g, h & I, focus on j, k & l, while forgiving m, n and o, and forgetting p, q, r, to do s, t, u & v, not to forget w”. Of course, the banner ends with the instruction, “SHARE it with everyone you know, and you know, we will try to get to them as well, if they share it with every one they know”.

My favourite one is that Chinese feng shui, which happens only once in 857 years (although it did happen 12 times in last 4 years). If you don’t forward that to people you know, then only they know what people you know will think about it.

Now I am not saying that all such quotes or shares are of spam nature. Some are, some aren’t. However I do take anything with a bland quote followed by the instructions “SHARE it with everyone you know”, with a pinch of salt. Why people need databases? well, for any number of reasons. Marketing. Profiling. Research. Most of the reasons are not meant to harm you. However, some are. The aftermath of recent elections in Pakistan is one of such victims.

While I empathise with all those whose voting right was robbed, and I do agree that some rigging happened (quite blatantly) in the elections (by multiple parities in multiple regions), I am surprised at how social media is used for personal or political benefits here. Here are a few examples:

A websites has been asking you to enter your name, NIC number and some other details if you voted for a certain party. So that “they can count how many people actually voted for the party”. Any sane internet user would know how stupid this idea is. The said party immediately clarified that it has nothing to do with this website. However within a short span of time, thousands of people “registered” their data on that site, only to hand over their profile to God knows who and for what use.

Fake accounts of celebrities (including journalists such as Javed Chowdhary or Salim Safi) are being created, where they “appear to be highlighting” election rigging. Yesterday, some of these celebrities had to come live on TV to tell everyone that these accounts don’t belong to them. It’s very easy to distinguish between a real & a fake account. Just some research and Googling is needed. However a naïve internet user wouldn’t go that far.

Fake statistics and references e.g. “according to EC, 37% of people with higher education voted for party xyx”. Again it’s very easy to know fake here. EC has no way to find out who voted for whom. However such stats get shared far too often, God knows why.

Fake stories (a lot of them) e.g. “my aunt voted in xyz polling station and she saw this and that……..” It seems that everyone’s aunt witnessed some serious rigging wherever she went to vote. Maybe aunts have a very keen observation. I don’t know.

Strong “anti violence” statements calling for some serious violence. Internet is full of these, these days. FB pages such as “I hate xyx, the master of abc” and “@$%^&*” (cant name the pages names here, as nothing decent will come out of it). Enough said.

There are many other examples. And thousands of people are falling for such things. Probably some of them may also be corresponding with that Nigerian banker, who may have promised to ensure their vote is casted in the next elections. After all, what cannot be done when you have $26m lying in your personal account.

Note: The above was just a rambling that came to my mind while flicking through facebook. Do not shy away from using social media. I myself am a heavy user of facebook. Just telling you to be a bit more cautious the next time you read a story, or statistics, and more importantly when someone asks for any information, or asks you to share their material for no obvious reason.

Note 2: Please share this message with everyone you know, otherwise Chinese good luck will go to someone else. Probably to someone in China.

it’s 12:00 noon… and the world is flat

it’s 12 noon, again
the unaccounted hour of a half lost day
the second cup of cold coffee
deliberately cold
but not intensely cold
like an odd anomaly
brewed to rescue the remaining light
till the evening nears
and the stillness steers
for when its time for a chilled stroll
thousands of words fly away
within the silent evening breeze
and when its gets easier
to sense the incomprehensible
like listening to the invisible
or watching the unheard of
hearing a cat jump the buildings
but it’s still 12:00 noon
and the world is flat today

By farazkhalid Posted in Poems

Translating Faiz (part 4)

My attempt at translating another classic (and beautiful) Urdu poem from Faiz. Dasht-e-Tanhai.

As it’s my own translation, it’s a bit wayward, and not too literal, i.e. just the way I like it!

The translation:

In the wilderness of solitude
As I see it, flickering
Drowning shadow of your voice
Vanishing mirage of your lips

In the wilderness of solitude
As I see it, blooming
Flowering oasis of your sight
Beneath the sand and dust of longing

Somewhere nearby
As I see it, rising
Blazing fire of your presence
Consuming in its own fragrance
Silently, secretly

Somewhere far away
As I see it, glittering
Falling, bit by bit, the dew of your presence

As if your long gone presence
Makes me realize again
In the midst of a vacant dawn
That the day has just ended
And the night has just begun

In the wilderness of solitude

By farazkhalid Posted in Poems Tagged

On Pakistan’s Independence Day

Let’s celebrate the oft repeated claims; of being world’s 6th largest country, 7th nuclear power, resilient, transient, innovative, and producers of best food on earth.

Or lets tell a story, also oft repeated, also true, and different.
The story of recent olympics. Where world’s 6th largest country doesn’t field world’s 6th largest team, doesn’t win 6th most medals. In fact doesn’t win any. Or of world’s 7th nuclear power, which doesn’t defend itself from the terror within it. Or the story of a resilient nation stuck in a never-ending energy crisis. Which doesn’t come out of it. Only people come out. And that too, insidiously.
Or lets do neither of the above. Neither a story of oft repeated sentimental claims. Nor silly questions and judgments. Because anyone can tell them and quote examples. Anyone can offer insights. It’s equally easy to claim unseen success, as it is to predict doom and gloom. And almost anyone can cry wolf.

Hence on Pakistan’s independence day, I will do neither of the above. I will just tell a third story, almost untold. At least not repeated much. A story devoid of any excuse, or plea, or a bargain. Because Pakistan, just like any other country in the world, doesn’t need an excuse, a plea or a bargain… This is the story of a village far away from Lahore, and of a town across the mountains in the north, and of a busy prosperous urban center, and of numerous places just like these, and of places very different from these. In all these places, all within Pakistan, as we read it, there are thousands of people sitting quietly in a corner of their homes, praying. And in these, very ordinary places, where nothing counts, a student with $5 a day wage in a small time tandoor, tops the country’s bsc examination, and a sportsman with no coaching whatsoever, becomes world best fast bowler, and a programmer with no extraordinary skills, develops a software that runs corporations.

These simple everyday stories, often ignored, happen everywhere in the world. And so they do in our country too. The prayers are said everywhere in the world. And so are they in Pakistan too. And as long as these simple ordinary stories exist in Pakistan, I will continue to have a simple, extra-ordinary hope for Pakistan.

Because in the end it’s precisely the brilliance of such stories, beyond anything else, that counts.

Translating Faiz (Part 3)

Note: Translating Faiz is even more fun when it’s 2:00 am and you are waiting for a long flight at the airport lounge!

The Urdu version:
woh log bohat khush kismat thay
jo ishq ko kaam samajhtay thay
ya kaam se aashqui kartay thay
ham jitay ji masroof rahay
kuchh ishq kiya, kuchh kaam kiya
kaam ishq ke aa’re aata raha
aur ishq se kaam ulajhta raha
phir aakhir tang aakar ham ne
dono ko adhoora chhor diya

My Translation:
Those were the lucky ones
who considered love their foremost work
or just loved none, but work
and here we are, the busiest of souls
loved but a little, worked but not enough
work kept us away from love
and love kept hampering the work
and then, maddened, frustrated,
we left them both incomplete; unfinished

By farazkhalid Posted in Poems Tagged

Translating Faiz

Translating Faiz in English is a hugely difficult task. Here’s my attempt.

 

The origional Urdu version:

 

Bahar aai to jaise yak baar

Lout aaye hain phir adam se

Wo khwaab saarey, shabaab saare

Jo tere honton pe mar mite the

Jo mit ke har baar phir jiye the

Nnikhar gaye hain gulaab saare

Jo tere yaadon se mushk-bu hain

Jo tere ushshaaq kaa lahu hain

Ubal paRe hain azaab saare

Malaal-e-ahwaal-e-dostaan bhe

Khumaar-e-aaghosh-e-mahwashaan bhe

Gubaar-e-Khaatir ke baab saare

Tere hamaare sawal saare, jawaab saare

Bahaar aai to khul gaye hain

Naye sire se hisaab saare

Bahar aai

 

 

Translation:

 

Here it is again; the spring

And with it, comes back from the void

those unresolved visions, aspirations

the ones that ended at your sight

and then began where they ended

just like sprouting of these colors

reminiscent of yet another life

of dying in vain, but in love

or like rising of these torments

of longing, yet knowing

and relishing in all its familiarity

the forgotten tales

and unanswered questions

with the answers, unquestioned

so here comes the spring

Unraveling yet again

those unresolved persuasions

Here comes the spring again