Thursday, August 31, 2006

our SEXIST BUERACRATIC SYSTEM

Finally today I managed to go to the Pakistani consulate to renew my passport. My application tucked under my arm complete with my thumb impression. As I entered I saw a small room on my left where 12 people were trying to see 3 customer service guys at the same time. “My getting in front of the mob” skills have gone quite rusty since I have been standing in queues for almost everything in USA. Just to give you an idea of how sharp my skills were, I was the first one to get my admit card in DJ college, Karachi while braving a mob of 500 guys. Anyways back to the consulate the three customer service guys were just chilling. They were not calling anyone from line whoever got their attention was given information. I stood their for 5 minutes to get called, while one of the FARIGH clerk looked at me several times and looked away to continue rolling his pen. Finally when the guy standing in the front of the mob finished talking with his girlfriend and an Afghani national understood he needs a visa to go to Pakistan ( cannot go by underground means ) I was sent to the Machine Readable Passport section. It was a nice clean room with four people in there. The guys sitting there were as disillusioned as the first group outside. One of them was reading a magazine and also highlighting it. The other one was looking at his nails with great interest. Only one of them was working (must have joined on merit). There supervisor was looking at his cell-phone making calls to arrange dinner and lunches for his family. He would call one of the junior guys to help him with the phone time to time.

While I was waiting for my turn an aunty in her mid 30s walked in complete with Manhattan cool type clothing. She was of course given preference over me as she was occupying more seat space than me and had a deeper neck line compared to my non existent one. The three junior guys and their supervisor jumped into action. Eyes twinkling and with a broad smile one of them started filling an application for her. He asked her if she was divorced, married, widowed or unmarried. The woman thought for a while and asked don’t you have a section for SEPERATED. That really got my attention, till now I was cursing the sexist Pakistani bureaucratic system. The guy paused for a second and asked with a funny look “You are divorced right?” She said blushing “no I am not I haven’t been living with my husband for 8 years now and I have no idea where my husband is”. I was like WTF? Now the supervisor said “sorry lady you have to get your NIC changed to your fathers name otherwise NO PASSPORT”. That gave me some consolation that the supervisor knew at least something besides his phone. But this feeling was short lived as the aunty started her DAMSEL IN DISTRESS routine and the supervisor melted into a pulp of pink pudding. He started giving her advices on how to go around the system infront of everyone. The lady left happy still “ TECHNICALLY SEPERATED “ but with a way to get a new passport.

When my turn came the passport guys went back into hibernation. The junior guy wrote my address in Pakistan as KARACHI, SINDH, UNITED STATES. The supervisor had a problem with my dads name. He thought it was too long. And I told him it was too late for my father to change his name as he was already a grandfather. The supervisor trying to see if I was not doing any fraud asked me trick questions like what does the abbreviation of my college stand for. Long story short my application was accepted without any bribe, The office had drinking water for visitors and the process was fairly swift. I would rate the whole experience as pretty nice as compared to what we have to go through in Pakistan.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Plight of a Patriot from the dustbin

Five years ago when I was leaving Pakistan. My Dad packed two special things for me in my luggage. He said it was very unlikely I will find these things in the foreign land. The two things were a Pakistani flag badge and a P-cap with an embroided Pakistani flag. Yesterday I threw the badge in the dustbin. And I don’t what happened to the bloody cap.
Needless to say I belong to a very patriotic family. We were taught to look up to Muhammad Ali Jinnah with respect. And learn from his struggle. But while I was growing up I just could not understand what happened to the land of the pure. Why do we have so much fighting amongst ourselves? I asked many people and got different answers. Some said it was the Punjabis fault because they want to control Pakistan, Some said it’s the bloody Indian intelligence; some said other big time conspiracies are responsible for our ill fate. Then it was the elders tales of how Pakistan was united in 1965/1971 wars. They said this disunity amongst Pakistanis was temporary and if India attacked Pakistan again we would all unite. And I wondered how can a nation who can not live without the shaking booty of Indian dancers unite?
In the midst of all this I wanted a happy Pakistan. I said to myself I will do my part by not littering, not breaking the rules and asking the shopkeeper not to give me the plastic bag. I tried donating blood, moving obstacles from the road and helping people whose rides were broken. But hatred in Pakistan kept on growing around me. I lost the battle and gave up.
I wish Allah would give us a leader. Someone who knows the pain and plight of the subdued in Pakistan. Someone who can bring harmony amongst all provinces. Someone who has the vision and strength to take us forward. Ameen.
Guess its time to go back and look for that badge in the dustbin. Clean it up and put it on my chest. After all my grandfather did not risk his life, lose all his property and status in India to raise a generation of deserters in Pakistan. My Mom and Dad’s love for Jinnah’s struggle is not invain.
So what if we are in worse shape today. It used to be worst. Just have to do my own part even if no one cares. Hopefully one day we will be united again.

PAKISTAN ZINDABAD... Happy Independence Day to all my fellow countrymen.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Ambitious Alien Immigrant Syndrome

Coming from Pakistan I was supercharged to become the “BARA ADMI “that my parents and extended family wanted me to be. It fitted well into the five year plan I had to become the technically chiseled super-dude (dramatic effects from a humble person). All was going well with most of my goals under my belt. Until I hit this wooden plank in the middle of the flower paddied road I was traveling so contently.

I am being stereotyped as being an expert of my field. I should be happy because that’s what I wanted. But why do I feel like saying….ok people thanks….but I can do other stuff too….peal potatoes, wash my car and feed my fish. Isn’t that great stuff too. anyone listening?..................
Time for deep reflection, discussion with parents, mentors, better half and looking deep in my daughter’s carefree eyes. The result....I am not sure…But maybe I am suffering from an "Ambitious Alien Immigrant Syndrome". A common third world phenomena….I think.

Back in Pakistan (when I was still considered a human) I had passions like pencil sketching, exploring nature and old historic architecture. Mohatta Palace, Hindu Gym khana, DJ science College and many ornate balconies in old Saddar apartment buildings are still my favorites.
Then I became another cog in a well oiled machine. My passions long buried under the weight of survival and ascending maneuvers I did in this new land. Trying to carve a new identity beyond another “South Asian computer junkie“.

I tried breaking free by joining the Pakistan expat community centers. But even there I saw people discussing the same topics I was trying to avoid. I wished we would stop talking about visa regulations, careers and new programming technologies. Blogging is a great gateway to let my mind loose. Joining the gym was nice too. The nature lover inside me found solace in environment conservation societies.

Maybe it was just me after all who took the profession thing too seriously. Or maybe my mom is right I am not a consistent person…So anyone who reads this boring post can feel free to throw suggestions at me on how to melt better in westeren societes.

But if you think my mom is right do let me know.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pakistan Leaps Ahead

Being from Pakistan, working as a Telecomm engineer and knowing the slow pace of infrastructure development was quite frustrating. I always knew wireless was the answer to speed things up in Pakistan. But it was hard to imagine anything wireless in late 90s when I was still in college. I used to deal with a Mumbo jumbo of old revived technologies and the emerging ones. Wireless was just considered for voice.

Then one fine summer day I read an article on a renowned forum called Government Technology which made me smile. On the very top was a picture of two Pathan brothers reading newspaper. The article mainly talks about how Pakistan has moved ahead of developed nations in the field of WiMax by buying the latest equipment from Motorola. The article also mentions that Motorola plans to set up a wireless equipment manufacturing plant in India.

Hopefully the new WiMax infrastructure doesn’t become a wrestling ring for opportunists. And Pakistani public can use of this opportunity and take themselves to a level where we can develop such technologies ourselves.

Here is the link of the article.
http://www.govtech.net/digitalcommunities/story.php?id=99849

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Monkey Business

I was recently reading news on bbc.co.uk and came across an article. This article was about how Delhi suffers from a serious monkey menace, with scores of animals seen across the city.

Here is the excrept from the article and has hilarious phrase in it. Made me think weather the author is actually a Pakistani at heart.

"
Delhi court ban on errant monkeys

A petitioner complained that the monkeys were attacking lawyers and their clients and snatching their food.

"""The monkeys are mostly seen around top government offices."""

Petitioner Nirmal Chopra said lawyers at Tis Hazari had asked the state government and the municipality to tackle the simians, but no action had been taken.

"
you can read it at

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4623890.stm

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

7 Foot coworker

Joseph recently joined us at work. And the guy is a whopping 7 feet tall. The poor guy got marching orders on the first day at work.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Welcome onboard skecther

* Loud clapping * thanks everyone..I am really flattered with all your love. I didn't know
I will get so much love when I will start my first..no second blog...I have a big speech ready for this great momemnt and I know that you are dying to hear it......* lenghty boring speech *...