There is a small one room restaurant on Jenkins Avenue in Norman Oklahoma called “Greek house”.Its family owned, full of little square tables and it serves gyros. You can get them on a plate or in a sandwich and as soon as one enters the place the air is thick with the fragrance of meat roasting on a skewer. The fries are crisp and the white sauce accompanying the gyro’s to dream off..they should make this place a local landmark because every Friday since I came back to Pakistan as soon as the prayers are over I miss it bad, I can almost taste the white sauce at times as this is a key memory of many lunches burnt in my mind from the small town experience that my college life there was.
That to me is the essence of life, take circumstance mix with emotion throw in visual and audio inputs, garnish with experience and you get wonderful little bits of bio organic data which can then be later recalled to profound effect. Life in the year 2010 was a collection of many of these bits as it was a year rich with experience and enlightenment for me as a person, here is how it went…
Dread : With plummeting stock prices and even further plummeting property and business markets it began, many of us prayed for political change even when we knew none was forthcoming
Terror : The bloodbath was all around us, the war on terror had come to our neighborhoods, my kids school shut down for a week because of threats to it, there was barbed wire everywhere, security guards galore, strange looking devices poked into ones car along with a wet sniffing dog snout or two upon going to any hotel in Karachi, going out became going to someone’s house and ordering in.
Limbo :The wonderful vacation I had with my family to the U.S. The joy of knowing the safety net was there if one fell, the little things one does not take for granted in Pakistan being obvious, even pointed out. Meeting so many college buddies in my stay there, evenings filled with laughter going on long in the night. The embrace of people who grew up together in an environment so far from home, the repetition of so many tales known only amongst really close friends as affirmation that bonds do exist even over time and distance. The realization that this place can only sustain my chaotic need for high voltage doses of info and stuff happening short term, the stretching of the umbilical cord of a place called home and the triumphant return.
Gratitude: Being present with so many of my friends at the blog awards, the recognition of peers the swelling of pride at my face on the big screen. The inner knowledge that my feet must remain on ground, the realization with each piece I wrote and the emails that flowed in shortly after that my voice was now better defined, my niche formed and found and I could perhaps just keep on writing and doing what I do best forever.
Spiritual : The red lanterns swinging in a gentle breeze on trees lighting roads in Shanghai, the masses of people going everywhere, the hustle and bustle of my trip to China, the intensity of the boom there, the constant feel of ancient around you, the amazing things I have seen, the utter destruction of my mental levels of scale in face of the enormity of enterprise before me.
Disaster & Hope: The flood, the raw hurt which showed in the faces of those around us, the cold lifeless tv anchors even weeping at the carnage, the screams of pain and anguish of this land as it was burdened with the deaths of so many of our brothers and sisters. The words of four friends who set out on the 14th of August to do something worthwhile. The doctor hugging an 80 year old in sukkur at an hour past midnight telling her “I will not let you die” The outpouring of vehicles laden with aid from Karachi. The news of anyone who had any resources helping out. The amazing blogosphere of Pakistan and what they achieved through social media. The cries of “we are with you” from all corners of the world on twitter. The utter humiliation felt when people fell one ones feet for a square meal…the tears of strain and stress and the smiles of hope at the end, the process of going and coming back and going, the feeling of liberation singing old vital signs songs in a tin can at 15,000 feet, the strength of those who stood together for their nation. The humbleness of the givers and the gratitude of the receivers, the apathy of the system, the beauty of human spirit and its undeniable frailty.
Blissful Limbo again: The crazy unplanned trip to Srilanka at the end of the year, lush green everywhere, elephants swaying majestically along roads like gods, innumerable temples mosques and girjas side by side,the island nation lost in its own entity, my son running along a virgin beach skimming the waves green surfboard in tow with a dog trying to lick the spongbob on the seat of his pants, the sunsets out of a poscard, the amazing seafood, the palm trees and the lazy hours swinging in hammocks not a care in the world. The hushed whispers of a geek at witnessing a mythical mountain in a safari. The majestic tea plantations of Nuwar eliya, the mist seeping over tops of green valleys, the eeriness of the nights there, the silence so desolate one could hear their own breathing, the multitude of tea bars, the smell of pine cones and the cold breeze with the voice of the azan wafting across mountains.
Hope : The editing re editing and finally the launch of my ebook. the enormous moral support by people around me on this venture, the hilarious demand for signed copies and the feel of watching it appear on screen. Then the feeling one gets right before the end of another year, the warmth one feels in this nation and its curious blessings, the innocence with which we celebrate the oncoming date change as if it makes a difference, the countless resolutions and the feeling of rebirth, the old is in the past , the future is out there for those who can shape it, destiny is best seduced by men of honor and purpose to their bidding says me, jo dar gaya so mar gaya…here comes 2011 in Pakistan!!