Monday, June 28, 2010

Imamed or Imam-less (Part-II)

Molvi Gullo, as I remember him, was quite old then with white beard and would carry a stick when walking. Each night, prior to the last prayers, he would visit a house in village and collect his meals for the day, for him and his old wife. Both of his sons had grown now and were doing jobs in some far off city. They urged him a lot to move to one of them but he won’t agree. He had developed a certain association with the village and the people around.

He was a simple man, simpler than anyone.  When he bought a bicycle and did not know how to ride it, he would simply ‘walk’ 3 miles dragging the bicycle and his two sons laden over it to the only high school in the area. The bicycle had no lock on its own. For security, he would have one of his cot’s leg adjusted in center of bicycle while he slept until it was stolen one day while he slept soundly with all those security measures. The ‘simple thief’  perhaps did not knew himself how to ride a bicycle there were clear evidences of him training himself in the school ground and around. People often talked about Molvi Gullo’s prayers that were rewarded in the same world. The village had a concrete road passing through, houses had ‘lamps’ lit by electricity, the villagers had good yield and happier times. Police never entered the village during his time and until a couple of years after him, and lastly, no imam would persist in the mosque for more than a year or so. That was too weird for me to think of but I had seen this last phenomenon happen over the years.

Soon after Molvi Gullo, the villagers had a young and active school-going boy as imam. He studied in 9th grade then. He took over all the responsibilities related to mosque. Children were very obedient to his stick. The villagers were happy until when one day his connections to an extremist sect made the villagers grew against him and he had to leave the village. What followed was an onslaught of arrivals and departures of imams each with own unique story.

One Ramazan , the Taraveeh prayers were offered regularly and almost whole Quran had been recited. It was around 25th day of Fasting when someone had devastatingly simple question to ask. Why had the imam not offered ‘Sajdhas’ -  a component of marking  Muslims bow to Allah with their heads on ground – on particular verses in Quran as is obligatory. The imam just befuddled and in confusing tones replied as if the people could also do it own their own. He did not even seem to know how many ‘Sajdhas’ were there and how many he had left to offer. That was a big blow on the face of villagers. Eid was his last prayer as an Imam. He had to pack up for being deceitful about the Holy Book.

The village had an ‘imam’ who would fully utilize mosque’s loud speakers to rant about the devastations of television and would read Fatwas for the dish-antenna owners. Someone’s little son had taken a meal to Hafiz’s house and returned quite late saying he was watching ‘Ainak wala Jin’ at hafiz’s house. More children had casted such doubts of presence of a television set in hafiz’s house, however,  all of them were reciprocally doubted by many had been slapped for lying so brutally about such a pious and TV-hating hafiz. Ultimately, the suspicious teens had the proof, each evening after Maghrib an antenna would rise amongst the dense leaves of the ‘neem’ tree in the yard aside the mosque and would be lowered before Fajr prayer. Villagers had never been mocked like this in religious affaris.

I had always been reported as an obedient student especially with the present imam who heard me recite the whole Quran for the second time in parallel with at least four or more friends /children around. We believed he would never let us skip with a mistake though. We would happily or at least obediently carry many of his household tasks. We would bring groceries; many a times get the fodder for his cow, get the woods chopped, and bring fresh water from the canal or the water-supply tank. In Ramzan and on other occasions, we would accompany to recite Holy Quran at people’s homes and we would often be amazed at the speed of our teacher – after all, he was a hafiz. Mom would warn me against over-involvement with hafiz. Most of my age-mates were only in 2nd or 3rd grade while I was in 9th grade had to give more times to studies than my friends in the village. I knew mom was right but Baba Ji was happy over this and I had more time with friends on such pretexts; after all how could I say no to hafiz Ji.  

On that day, we wished we never see the face of hafiz again. I tried to falsely calm my friends but they just beat grinded me to ground and took some sort of oath in name of Allah. We were only two and it was impossible to recite whole Quran. At 30 minutes per para- division, we had recited 10 paras and while fasting, we could not go further. Hafiz just remarked, “Okay, do some more. Well, skip one page and read the other. Okay, get this little one to just recite Bismillah over each line.”  That was it, all the respect for hafiz had gone. The other two were furious. We came back to our homes and never listened to any calling from mosque or hafiz. But we had to accompany him on the funeral of his father after all.

That Ramazan, the whole Quran could not be recited fully in Taraveeh prayers. Someone said according to his idea, hafiz ji was reciting with errors and skipping ayahs. It was suggested another hafiz be brought as a listener for somedays. It was just the notion of bringing a listener to test hafiz ji’s memory that he sought out a way to handle it.  That day, as I passed through the yard besides the mosque, the barber was massaging a bald head. As I drew myself nearer, I found it was Hafiz Ji. He declared Holy Quran had, all of sudden been washed from his memory. Alas..!!!

During all these years, there was just one hafiz ji who left respectfully and still visits the village.  He left to move to city for he could earn more there with his tailoring skills.

Too much of everything is bad and in our case having too many imams was more of imam-less-ness. I feel like similar is the case with our country or the institutions in the country. Whether you are shocked or amazed or surprised or bored, I have a rather weird question in mind over the years: Why has not our village produced any doctor to date? We have a few graduates to name along with two engineers but why not a doctor? Has this if anything to do with imam-less-ness? What if I we see imam-less-ness in context of Pakistan.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Imamed or Imam-less

The new water pump bought by the committee was not there, the pedestal fan donated to the mosque last summer could not be found and the 60-feet roll of rubber pipe was reported to be missing.   I had to make wudu at home for water would not be found at the mosque premises. I could not clearly make up the recitation of Quran in low voice of Master Ji at Maghreb. The noise from the fan beside the Imam would make it hard. I left the mosque even without the usual handshake with fellows. I had to milk the cow, get the chopped woods to the kitchen and above all find out who had devastated my lovely little green ‘neem’ so horribly. I had it brought it, luckily, on 14th August and persuaded my Dada Ji to plant it with me. From the trees ‘I’ had planted to date, it was the only one that survived and grew taller to me.  

It was about the same days last summer when our village was ‘Imam-less’. There was no one to lead Juma prayers.  Occasionally, Shah Ji from the neighboring village would be kind enough to pay a visit and take the charge. However, he had no beard. How could he lead the prayers? People felt being ridiculed especially if someone had guests from outside the village. Once asked about his beard, Shah Ji argued, “The nature of work I do compels me not to have a beard.” An instant response was, “Shah Ji, Do you work in theater?” Someone died that summer. People were curious and doubtful as to who shall lead and conduct the funeral and post-funeral proceedings. It could not be tolerated further. There had to be an imam, preferably a Hafiz, who would lead the prayers, funerals and teach the children how to recite Holy Quran. If I translate a fellow word by word, it would be, “Does not matter if there’s a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian. We want someone in the mosque appointed right now.”

The Friday prayer was led by a test Hafiz Ji. He made a speech, recited the Khutba and led the prayers. The mosque was filled to its capacity. People stayed after the prayers. Queries from both sides were entertained. Hafiz had studied in a school of thought the villagers did not approve of but they wanted an imam bad enough. Many decided to try him for the time being and settle their mutual differences later on. Others would hold onto sectarian grounds. Villagers met again at night, the next day and even on Sunday. Disparities grew. Two groups were formed in the mosque. Each would pray separately. As tensions grew higher, people took the case to police. The villages settled for hafiz saab and fixed his wages – wheat that he would collect from each house in the village, very small monthly stipend and whatever he could get out of his rapport on marriages and deaths. A good number of villagers were relieved to have been ‘imamed’ once again.

Our own family (Baradri) was divided over the issue. We, as children, were sandwiched among the choices of elders. One would send us to mosque; the other would stop us in the way. If at one hand, I and my friends had managed meals of Hafiz saab when his wife was away, at the same, we had stolen keys of mosque and his house, hidden his clothes, cut off his water and power supply: all on the instruction of our immediate seniors around the village. Local elections added fuel to fire. It was probably being harder, day by day, for the Hafiz to settle in village. People had started to dislike him for their own ‘worldly’ reasons. Some said he had debts to pay, others suspected he was attached to some extreme religious groups which they thought may distract their own children. He would also ask for leaves so often and would always return late.   Hafiz had been hired by another village in the surroundings when he broke to us he will be leaving within two days.

I had finished my chores at home and it was after Isha prayers, I was officially informed that Hafiz saab had shifted with his family to another village. Along with few physical entities the village had lost an imam.  Once again imam-less-ness prevailed over Chak No. 410 Gulabwala. They said, Molvi Gullo’s prayers had been answered. Hafiz(s) came to village but won’t stay. Within 7-8 years, we had had around a dozen of changeovers.

I hope I will be able to tell those interesting and thought-provoking tales in next part of this article soon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Gur aur Garha - Silver Jubilee Birthday Present

Grandma, Maan Ji as we used to call her and Bibi Ji according to dearest mom and dad, said, "You don't weep like others as you have already wept the most part of your share." when I asked her why tears did not even pass by my eyes on the death of dearest grandpa, Baba Ji despite all the sadness and gloom lurking around. It was second year of my life when she would weigh me against shoes before sending me to Jhang for check-up. Then, I was thin as a ‘broomstick’ and won’t stop crying once switched on. I had my share of cries.

She would always wait for my holidays and say, this time, I and she would be traveling by train to meet her six sisters at their places. I was among the eldest in my generation and she relied on me for according to her, I was brave enough to guide her to the places that were new even for her. It would be her second journey by any vehicle running on an engine, the first being by the train from India to Pakistan. She had felt dizzy, fell twice and fainted when the youngest of her sons coerced her to accompany him on his brand new Sohrab and had never dared touch a 'vehicle' again. As the holidays would arrive, she either would not be 'feeling well’ to travel or would have some other plans for me to work like helping the family on the farm. In the summer holidays, it was apparently hot enough to move out. It was on the day 99 cricket world cup had to begin when Baba Ji left us and that was first summer Bibi Ji did not expressed her wish. I waited all the summer but before the summer ended, she was not well even to talk. By the end of that year, I was deprived of my real mentors. All that was left was their memories, once sequential like a tape and now scattered among all the clutter I am obsessed with.

Along all his kindness, sweetness and charm Baba Ji, still played an angry young man when gatherings in village appeared moving direction-less or unfair to him. For four years in life, I would return from school and unload my bag in Baithak - guest room and be with him till the bag was loaded again on my back or that of the bike. In summers, I and he would be sitting under the shade of trees on Thara - a raised platform outside Baithak with a bunch of school children dumping their vacation registers with whatever they could get out of Khulasa jaat - solution books; and some non-schoolers or toddler who would play terrorists or one may say academic jihadists fighting this plagiarism and foul play with random drawings and blotches on pages of the registers or alternatively the faces of register-holders. Hawkers and passers-by would rest for a while in the shade and specifically ask for not-so-cold water preferably from the ‘Ghara– clay-made water pot.

Baba Ji would dislike us listening to songs on radio and had never allowed a TV to prop into house but he definitely would never miss Sair Been’ on BBC Urdu Service. Someone would walk around and trivia - as it appeared to me when seen against the algebraic and chemical equations- like fights with landlords, crops not growing well, shortage of water, children skipping schools would be discussed for around an hour. I would open my notebooks to complete my homework but often would turn to listen to the talks and thus quench my thirst of ‘knowledge’ from these interesting chapters of the book of life. Many of my non-academic answers were found here and occasionally, I would be tested for my tenses of English and tables of Math as well.

Baba Ji would sleep earlier while I would often sleep when a Chacha- uncle from village will woke up to lay out clay bricks and I had provided him with water, this time from fridge and the bicycle-pump. No matter how late or earlier, I slept I had a clue to when Baba Ji would wake up and I would ‘silently’ rush up to be ready for mosque before him. He would stay there while I would return to do my homework or at the least read some Islamic books or clippings from newspapers available around in the archives of the generation next to Baba Ji and go again for Fajr.

The moment I grew 25 by the calendar, I had the share of cake presented to friends, I was just to run into the chain ‘25 Years: The Gains and the Losses’ kind of stuff, I decided to pick up my laptop and throw some random gains, losses and suggestions into the database of very friendly Evernote, however, Baba Ji tempted me again to listen to those chapters of life and the Gur- sweets- offered by Maan Ji put an end to all the idiot stuff running in mind and I have came up with a piece of writing, my first article in the blog,  I believe I can share publicly and at the same is a private memoir into my life.

I present to you the gift from my mentors on the silver jubilee birthday of my life.

Its a gift on 'Father's Day ' for my Abu Ji. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Building a Model of San Francisco One Toothpick At a Time

Building a Model of San Francisco One Toothpick At a Time: "

Last night I was constructing an architectural model out of foam core. As I was procrastinating, I searched online for inspirational models. To my delight, I discovered Scott Weaver and his toothpick model of San Francisco. He started building the toothpick structure at age 17 and 3000 hours and over 30 years later he finished his brilliant creation.

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Starry Starry Night

Starry Starry Night: "



06.17.2010: "Archive
Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nokia Introduces Bicycle Charger for Cell Phones

Nokia Introduces Bicycle Charger for Cell Phones: "

Nokia has launched new cell phones for developing countries. Check out the Bicycle Charger Kit which costs about Rs. 1500. The Bicycle Charger Kit consists of a little bottle dynamo that is attached to the wheel of the bicycle to power up the phone by movement of the pedals. Now go get that old bicycle out and get it ready before this charger becomes available in Pakistan!

Here’s what Fast Company had to say about this launch.

It’s a wonder that no other phone manufacturer has thought of this before.

Maybe that’s because Nokia is the dumbphone ruler of the world. While other companies push ahead in the smartphone market, Nokia is concentrating on keeping less wealthy nations connected. And in parts of the world where access to electricity is limited, or unavailable, this Nokia kit is golden.

Can you see the charging stations in villages miles out in the African bush, staffed by a bunch of kids on stationary bikes, cycling away to charge people’s cellphones?

The Nokia Bicycle Charger Kit starts to work when you’re pedaling at just under 4mph and clicks off at 31mph. Hit 7.5mph and your bike will be charging your cell as quickly as a traditional charger would. Ten minutes at 6mph will give you 28 minutes talk time or 37 hours of standby time– if, that is, your phone is one of Nokia’s new models, which have a standby time of up to six weeks.


Mobile Innovation Contest Pakistan

Mobile Innovation Contest Pakistan: "

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology has launched a new initiative to support mobile innovation in Pakistan. Called Best Mobile Innovation in Pakistan (BMIP) Contest 2010 is open for any “Made in Pakistan” innovation related to the mobile industry and technologies. As the official press release says:

It can be new technology, concept, product or business model; related to networks, devices, connectivity, software, hardware, content, applications, usage, mobile marketing, mobile payments, education or social issues.

mobile innovation pakistan websiteEach winner will receive cash prize of $10,000. Furthermore, the awarded innovations are taken further into an establishment process creating new company around the innovations, creating new telecommunication or information technology companies in Pakistan.

This year we have seen a number of other activities which encourage mobile application development and mobile innovation. See Jehan Ara’s post here, my report from Mobile 2.0 expert conference and Nokia’s award announcement.

Details and judges are announced here on the FAQ page of BMIP website.

Kudos to COMSATS for starting the initiative and for encouraging our students and youth to think creatively.

Wille Eerola, CEO of RIDDES CORPORATION, the Founder of BMIP Award said:

We have plenty of Pakistani and international professional people joining us to this process supporting young Pakistanis to show the world what they can do. We all know that this country has so many innovative people so we would just invite everyone in Pakistan to join BMIP; this is done for the Future of Pakistan, to see the New Rise of Entrepreneurship in Pakistan.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Time is right for clockless design

Time is right for clockless design: "The demands of consumer applications to combine high performance with low power are forcing continued innovation in how the chips that power them are designed. After many years in the research labs, asynchronous technology has arrived as a viable approach, thanks to an emerging set of tools and capabilities from specialized suppliers who understand that the technology must not just work in concept, but also meet certain market requirements in order to be more broadly accepted and used.

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