Overlooked – The Artist of Life

I arrived in Islamabad a few days ago and decided to meet up with my sister, who also happened to be in the city at the time. Since the reason of my visit was a familial emergency, I didn’t have a lot of spare time but she arranged for a car to collect me from my aunts place. Making small talk during the trip with the driver, I started learning about him and was moved by a lot of things he said.

A few days later, I decided that I would get the full picture and contacted him. Equipped with a voice recorder and genuine curiosity, I set out on the endeavor of publicizing his journey through life. This is a summary of what he told me on the first day and during the dialogue less the questions I asked. Hopefully I do justice to his account.

“Originally, I come from the North, growing up in a small village near Peshawar. Without a doubt, My mother was the most important woman in my life growing up teaching me about some very important facets of life, from the basic distinction between right and wrong to intricate Calligraphy. Unfortunately, due to certain circumstances, I couldn’t really focus on my higher education and so took a vow to make sure my children didn’t head down the same path. My brothers and I used to live together but they weren’t the most supportive in a lot of aspects and it was becoming a tight squeeze as more of us got married, so in the early years of matrimony, my wife and I decided to move onto greener pastures in the form of Islamabad. There we started sending the kids to school and started adapting to a new, faster life.

Naturally, the transition wasn’t easy. I knew quite well early on in my marriage that I would have to choose between the education of my children and a comfortable lifestyle. I chose the former and knew I had made the right choice as the value of knowledge became abundantly clear to me. There was simply no substitute for an educated man or woman.

So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when my Eldest son completed his undergraduate and knew my investment had bore ripe fruit when he went on to do his MBA. He is now a Project Manager in a well established NGO. My second child topped her batch in the “International Islamic University ” and my third one is almost finishing school, currently in Matriculation. I take great joy in the fact that all three were able to attain what I could not.

Of course nothing in life is possible without the core ingredient of hard work.

You won’t believe me when I tell you about the number of jobs I’ve had to go through. Initially, I worked as a Chef for a Colonel who hired me for about 8 years. My family had all their basic needs met and you could say we were financially secure in a way. Once he moved away, making me redundant, I had to pick up a number of odd jobs to get by.
I designed boards for shops in Arabic & Urdu due to my calligraphic aptitude and even wrote a couple of Pashto drama scripts. However, these jobs didn’t pay as well. We were barely getting by. Eventually, I had to settle for becoming a driver for an NGO and worked for them for a quite a while. But I never stopped tending to my creative side. I used to like sketching and painting, and decided to pursue it more seriously (on the side). Now, whenever I’ve accumulated a few pieces, I set them up on the roadside for display and if the right person passes by, I make a few extra bucks.”

PS. It would be unfair of me to not give credit to Brandon (HONY). His work has inspired me and several others to take a deeper interest in people around us.

Why the Political to Peace approach is BS

You lot must be getting bored by constant yapping about Nuclear warheads and what it did AND what it can do AND why we’ll all better off with it eradicated. Fear not, This will be my final piece on the subject and I’ll try to keep it succinct.

But a Nuclear War wouldn’t really happen man. Our country wouldn’t propagate one and other countries have no reason to target us. Besides, Other countries and the UN would intervene, blah blah blah” – Average Joe

All these assumptions people live under can be proven otherwise in one word. Palestine.
Although the bombs weren’t made of Plutonium or Uranium, Palestine was still hit with bombs leaving a deep emotional and mental scar on those innocent souls. The Palestinians probably thought that they were safe, living under the false pretense that the World would not allow such injustice. That they would intervene. Surely the UN would stand up for their most basic right of human safety? If not, at least their fellow Arabian countries, with whom they share a common bond of Religion, language and customs?

But not a single body answered their call for aid. All the Palestinians heard was a dead line on the other end.

Fear not though, since it was “condemned” by the majority of the world. That should make up for the 2000+ Palestinians killed (500 of them just little children). Shouldn’t it? YOU be the judge

Statistically speaking, what happened to Palestine probably wouldn’t happen to us since the majority of the readers/writers here live in Developed countries with proper defense systems in place. Lets take the example of my country, Pakistan, and India. The situation is not dissimilar to that of Russia and the US. Both have most of their Nuclear Warheads pointed at each other. However, neither lifts a finger since each is deterred by the certainty of the other’s response and the inevitable destruction it would cause. Besides, neither developing economy can endure the repercussions of a war.

On the other hand, lets not forget most of us have have a very limited role in what our government does. We might be able to elect the person we think is “Right for the Job” (ie if we live in a democracy) but we have no control over his/her actions. One wrong move at the wrong time by a higher up and millions could end up paying for it with their lives, especially if it triggers a war. And lets not even ponder the possibility of a country involved in a war having access to Atomic Power.

I wandered off topic a bit but my point is that this is a very serious issue taken lightly by most of us. And the current approach in trying to secure world peace while simultaneously trying to juggle Nuclear missiles is never going to work. Do these politicians deliberately patronize us by thinking that we are so naive?

The Little Boys always grow up too fast…

Most substantial Nuclear developments (At least the advances to which the world was privy to anyways):
Ivy King: 500 Kilotons*,
B53 : 9,000 Kilotons,
Castle Bravo : 15,000 Kilotons
& finally The Tzar Bomba : 50,000 Kilotons

*(In case you’re not aware, A kiloton = One thousand tons of TNT)

Following on from my last piece (If anyone actually read it**), This time we’re going to delve just a little bit into how Atomic Bombs (or Nuclear Warheads as the media commonly refers to them as) developed over time. The most significant one, the Tzar Bomba (50,000 KTs), was developed by the Russians in 1961. Now, 50,000 kilotons is no small number and certainly no joke.

However, before we go any further, I feel its imperative to refer back to the infamous bombings that forced a bloody end to a pretty messy WWII. Explosions that were considered so catastrophic that Japan was forced to fold their cards and concede defeat. Any guesses as to how how many Kilotons of TNT were packed into those bombs?

The Fat Man (Dropped on Nagasaki) & Little Boy (Dropped on Hiroshima) had 15 & 21 kilotons of TNT respectively. That’s it. Hard to believe? It definitely was for me. These bombs which leveled those Japanese cities and killed more than a 100,000 (200,000 according to other sources) were merely a shadow of what Nuclear Power would become.

So if 15 KTs decimated a city, what could 50,000 KTs do?

First, Lets hope humanity does not have to ever endure a scenario where this happens. When the Tzar Bomba was tested, its detonation was so strong that windows in three other countries were broken and it produced a mushroom cloud 40 miles high. It was said that if there were spectators even as far as 60 miles away, they would have experienced third degree burns.

I’ll give you peeps some time to process this, especially since it took my pessimistic self a while to contemplate not-so-pretty scenarios. I mean are we really ever going to feel safe knowing that a man or group of individuals have the power to decimate anyone or anything with 50,000 KILOTONS of TNT?

In other words, As long as Nuclear with such destructive potential exists, I don’t see humanity getting a happy ending any time soon.

** https://sullysretreat.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/never-forget-the-little-boy-and-the-fat-man/

Never Forget the Little Boy and the Fat Man…

   Despite what the title might suggest, I’m afraid this is not one of those didactic stories with a crystal clear moral conveniently present at the end of the ride. Or perhaps it is. You be the Judge.
Regardless, I’m sure you’re at least a little bewildered by the title?

Let me clarify, This “Little Boy” I talk of, weighed roughly 140 lbs and his brother, the “Fat Man” weighed 14 lbs. Even though they were genetically different, when they were unleashed onto the world both had unparalleled carnage at the time and shook the world to it’s very core, with the 140 pounder causing the ultimate massacre. Still perplexed? If you know your chemistry (I had to do a bit of research since I don’t) you will have a fairly decent idea from the following: The genetic difference is that of plutonium and uranium.

No worries if you’re still confused, I’m going to stop beating around the bush and get right to it: Hiroshima, August 6th & Nagasaki, August 9th 1945.

Ring a bell? I’ll be damned if it didn’t.

This “Little Boy” killed 90,000166,000 people when it was dropped on Hiroshima , with the “Fat Man” killing 39,00080,000 in its respective city of Nagasaki. That’s somewhere between 129,000 to 246,000 human lives. Human lives not dissimilar to you and I.
And it doesn’t end there, Just about half of these deaths occurred on the first day. So lets say you were in Nagasaki or Hiroshima and miraculously survived the initial blast (Reportedly equivalent to 15,000 Tons of TNT), the radiation poisoning would most probably lead to your genes mutating and Cancer, even if you were exposed to only a moderate dose. Not to mention your children & grandchildren would suffer with similar conditions due to the ramifications posed (Leukemia among other cancers) by the exposure to Nuclear radiation. All in all it would probably be a gruesome experience, with an unnatural death a very plausible ending.
Not pretty is it?

Although The Fat Man and Little Boy were retired in ’50 and ’51 respectively, it was not out of humanity but out of them being overshadowed by newer and more powerful upgrades. Which makes one ponder the question: What monstrous behemoths awaits mankind after more than 50 years of biological and chemical research on these Nuclear Warheads & Why do nations pride themselves on advances in this field?

I’ll talk more about this in upcoming posts, for now let us take a moment to remember the tragedy that the world likes to conveniently overlook.


“I’d rather change the world, than let it change me”

Those who build & labor in the heat – under appreciated?

I was in the local store recently and saw a construction worker pick up what looked like a drink. Maybe it was curiosity or my shamelessness to mind my own business but I approached a little closer. The guy looked at the price, pondered for a bit and simply put it back in its place.

I looked at him and saw the silent cry of sadness reverberating through his face presumably due to the poignant reminder of his financial reality (Read the preceding post for appropriate context). After he had left I examined the drink, an iced tea priced at AED 2.50 ($0.68), and my heart sank right through me as the gravity of his simple act hit me. I realized how privileged and ungrateful I was for all the privileges I’ve ever had.

Not only are they underpaid, they’re undervalued as well. So the next time you pass by a worker/builder/construction worker and you’re not in a hurry, give him a smile or a little pat on the back. Let him know YOU care and appreciate his efforts.

For these hard working individuals of society are under appreciated, and their efforts shall forever be lost between the sweat & cement of the brick walls they spend their lives building.

Do we honestly value our home builders enough?

A couple of weeks ago I was in a labor camp distributing “Care Packets” (Basically consisting of 9-10 basic necessities like flour, Rice, Powdered Milk, etc.). If you’re wondering “Why a labor camp?”, you probably come from a developed country, in which case you’re forgiven if you think that builders live perfectly normal & fulfilling lives (as is generally the case in these first world countries).

Here, however, these laborers earn around AED 700-1000 ($200-270) monthly which is very little even when adjusted for parities. Secondly, majority of their incomes go back to their homeland in the form of current transfers, as most of the laborers sacrifice their own living comforts to support their own fledgling families & kids back home. Some have the additional responsibility of supporting their parents as well. Moreover, A lot of them do not hold their newly born children until months later, something no parent should ever have to go through…

Another reason I feel for these laborers – most of whom are construction workers/builders – is that they have to often work under the unforgiving smoldering desert heat of Dubai (We have literally 9 months of summer here). Night shifts aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms either as they bring with them the intolerable humidity. As great as Dubai is, weather is not one of its prettier aspects.

Stay tuned, I’ll be posting a bit more about this topic peeps.


“I’d rather change the world, than let it change me” – Original Quote