The meeting went well, I cut a nice deal, made some money, saved some money, a subordinate promised to take me for lunch on MM Alam road, the weather was beautiful, I felt confident and it looked like the perfect day. I had myself booked for the 4.30 pm bus from Lahore to Pindi, they call it the Royal class! So I was going to be traveling in Royal Class! The lunch was as good as it could be, in between tasty mouth watering morsels of Chinese food there was man talk, followed by fresh pomegranate juice. That left me with around an hour plus to make it to the Daewoo terminal. So I decided to buy a few books from “Readings” at the boulevard. That went well, in fact very well.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Got myself a haircut, clipped my nails, showered and shampooed, wore that new bright bluish suit with a red necktie matching my shoes, junior was kind to lend me his coat pin, then poured some jazzy perfume (can’t remember which) and looked myself in the mirror. Saw the man in the mirror and liked him, instantly. A 48 years old hunk, a few extra pounds with lots of greying hair, the boyish look and a killer smile (or so I thought), things looked perfect. We were going to a friend’s daughter’s wedding. It was Friday night, beautiful weather, would get see old friends, lots of them, it will be fun. Jokes and laughter and good food. What could be better than all this?
Image courtesy of stockdevil at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It would start at around 10 in the morning daily with out fail, slowly increasing in intensity sometimes throbbing, sometimes like a burning sensation. For two hours it would ascend pushing me in to an abyss of loneliness which at times seemed unfathomable. During this time, not one but two strong pain killers would be needed to contain its venom. After two hours it would decrease albeit slowly in intensity, when finally diminishing after four or five hours. If an engineer were to describe the pain he would say the graph was bell shaped. The bell along the graph showing the intensity at different times. As time passed with no improvement in sight I became used to it, in fact I would look forward to it and when it would hit me, it was like meeting an old foe, but with a smile. It would challenge me to a duel, which I would accept but with a grudge, and the whole thing would start all over again. It had by then become a daily ritual for me. Pain was my regular unwanted companion, someone I disliked but had to bear. During the initial and final time when its intensity was low, it would seem like a friend, but with time it became ugly attempting to wallop me in its despicable grip. My life now centered around the pain. The pain became an inevitable part of my life. To me it seemed like something physical living inside my body, a manifestation of an ugly monster. I wanted to reach deep inside the folds of my skin and tear it out with my very hands, but alas that wasn’t possible. It went on till the doctors decided to use scalpels and all to tear it out, and they finally did got rid of it.
Sometime back the MoI in its magnanimity did a great favor to the citizens of this country by lifting the ban on arms licenses. The ban was actually imposed by the previous Government to control the worsening law and order situation in the country, which itself was deplorable as well a laughable thing to do. That is because the petty criminals, thugs and terrorists do need a license, it is in fact the law abiding citizens like you and me who need arms licenses to protect ourselves from the very same people. The philosophy was perhaps coined by a drunk or a stoned Minister sitting somewhere in a cozy bathtub. Off course the minister(s) with their coterie of Police wallahs to protect them have always been least concerned for you and me. One can write a separate post on this issue alone. Anyways getting back to the subject, the Ministry of Interior (MoI), Non Prohibited Bore license (NPB) as it is called is a much sought after arms license in Pakistan. This is because it can be used countrywide and also is NPB means one can purchase any NPB weapon on that license, it can be a pistol, shotgun or a bolt action/semi-auto rifle (in the non banned category). It is plastic card based license printed by NADRA and unlike the book based old licenses issued by the Provincial Governments once. Here’s how to get an MoI, NPB license in Pakistan.
“The most dangerous thing in the world is a Second Lieutenant with a map and a compass.”
For 29 years I tried to live like a “civilian” in the Army, much to the chagrin of my bosses (sorry guys, if you’re reading this, that is ), funny thing is after retirement I am Colonel Sahib in civil trying to act like a Fauji. The roles have reversed, and I am confused whether to act like a Fauji or a civilian. It was in 1989 that I decided to join the military, much much before, we were termed as “Khalai Makhlooq”. A time when life was simple, in fact very simple. There was the greatest stress on physical training, in fact at PMA it was all physical. After PMA and off course upon getting commissioned in the Pak Army the real training started. This was the best time of my life, and I can vouch for any Second Lieutenant or Subaltern that they will trade anything to get those times back. It is always a period of adventure, fun and excitement, absolute carelessness, goofying around with no responsibilities. “Lieutenants” were to be seen only, not heard, was a common saying. I am sure its still holds true. A Subaltern, is the most unpredictable human being. He is simple, brave, loving, compassionate and above all silly. A subaltern’s life is never uneventful, he will generally know the choosiest of invectives, he will fall in love with almost anything feminine, regardless of age, shape, color or smell. He will lay down his life for his friends, unassuming in approach to most things in life, highly emotional, at times irrational/illogical/emotional separately or all of these combined together in any order. Foolishly simple or simply foolish, hardy, full of love, rarely insubordinate and above all highly dependable. Such traits normally come when you have either been through tough times together or are unbelievably stupid. And the subaltern dies either in action/accident/disease or after being promoted as a Captain. And so I went through all these stages, times and experiences of living life, and finally made it to a Captain’s rank. That is how this scribe transited from a subaltern to a thinking man.
It was during my service in the initial years that I started reading books. My foray in to the world of books was somewhat accidental. I liked to read, but the love of books was purely a due to a screw up by me, being a subaltern. Won’t go in to the details of it, but my CO was furious and decided to send me and another subaltern to the border area for three months in summers. The area was devoid of electricity and it was there that I learned to live and sleep in scorching heat of Punjab without the luxuries of life. As luck would have it, I found a box full of books belonging to my father and so started this love affair with books which to this day is going strong. There wasn’t much to do in that desolate area except read, and I made the best use of this time, reading Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, Robin Moore, Wilbur Smith and Mario Puzo to name a few. The hobby then turned to passion and is still going strong.
Life in Military was simple, get up in the morning, go for PT, come back, shower, breakfast, office, tea break, after office lunch, the compulsory “siesta”, games, and then TV or lots of gup shup. I am talking of times when computers were ghosts, Internet was unheard of and words like TV, VCR or in the extreme case Satellite Receiver made sense. Most of the time was spent in frolicking, movies, sports and more sports. Telephones were still pretty much a luxury, I am talking circa 1991, so the pretty old medium of communications like letters, were in fashion. The best sort of recreation would be a get together of few course mates, and it still is even after 29 long years. An officer regardless of age and rank will be transformed in to a Gentleman Cadet on meeting his course mate/s. The conversation would be colorful, full of the choosiest expletives, and lots of laughter. If I were to look back at all these years, my biggest asset is the life long friends that I made while in military. Friends that would not hesitate to go any length at helping you.
As time passed I made it through various ranks, appointments and postings. It was all a big learning experience. In fact the best thing about Army is that it gives you a very very diverse experience. And after that if you’re put to any situation you will fare well out of it. Over the years the Army has progressed and prospered. In the years of yonder, there was more of simplicity, with time it became modern and facilities increased. I have no inhibition in saying that Army made me the man I am today. It is like one big family, having its own rules and procedures. The system is devised in a manner that one gets trained with time. I was mostly lucky at having good bosses, bosses who stood by me. I am not sure if they have similar feeling about me, but generally the going was good. Off course there are tough and difficult times, but that is the moment when a man’s mettle is tested. That is the way it works.
I am lucky to have served in all areas of Pakistan except GB, starting from Punjab, then Balochistan, KP, Sindh and AJK. The one problem which I always had in Army till the last part of my service was not having enough money, but a lot many shared my predicament and I wasn’t alone in this. But since life was simple, it was easy. Hey I don’t want to sound philosophical, and this is not my life story in the true sense, at best it is just a casual fire side chat kind of post when I look back at the times that have passed. I do not believe in reincarnation, but I can sure as hell say that is I am given another life I will definitely be walking through the gates of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) happily. I still get nostalgic abut it! And I have no qualms about saying that, “It has been one hell of a ride”. Proud to be a “Khalai Makhlooq”. Pakistan Zindabad, Pak Army Zindabad
Please read this post as a continuation of this one. So I was on the lookout for options,as junior needed a small thrifty device on his daily sojourns to the football field. Being in contact with him gives me that peace of mind, considering today’s not so comatose environments. Since all cellular operators in Pakistan backed out on the kids watch, this tiniest cellphone, a keypad operated Lilliputian contraption caught my eye in the small cellphone shop. A Nokia was deftly dumped and the petite thing was bought instinctively for Rs 2000! Holy smoke!
So far it has worked well. Fits in one’s palm, has dual SIM option, a small camera, MP3/MP4, 3.5 mm Audio jacks, Bluetooth dialing capability! A single charge lasts three days at least. It has left me deeply impressed. Forget the looks and clunky ringtones, this thing works. And I am seriously considering getting one for myself as a backup phone. Any parents out there who want connectivity with their kids, please consider getting something like this. Lacks the Shebang but works well. Cheers.
Just last week an acquaintance, a man I knew since more than a year, got shot, and died due to bleeding. He got shot in the arm by one of his business partners. In order to protect his privacy I will not share much details about him except that he was over 6 feet tall, in super fit physical condition and above all a gentleman. He went to his business partner’s house that fateful evening, the discussion turned in to a heated debate over some issue and the man got shot in his arm. Help arrived late, and the man died on his way to the hospital due to bleeding.
“Motorcycle Girl” is a new Pakistan film based on Zenith Irfan’s solo journey from Lahore to Khunjerab on a motorbike. It was her father’s dream to travel the world on a motorbike that could not be realized due to his death. Zenith then took it upon herself to travel the journey in memory of her father. She is in fact the first Pakistani “brave” girl to travel this long and arduous journey on a motorbike, solo, that is. To me this is more than a movie. It is inspirational stuff delivered in a most witty way. I will not discuss the caste or story-line etc. This ramble is about the message that the movie aims to deliver.
It was 2006 when I bought my first UPS. It was a basic model 700 VA thingy with a 12 V, 100 AHC battery attached to it. It was good enough contraption to power my small house with three bulbs and a fan. That was the time load-shedding had reared its ugly head. I needed the power to put my small family at ease during those long hours of darkness. This happened in Kashmir. Then things became worse in 2008 when I moved to Lahore. There was eight to twelve hours of unannounced load shedding in the provincial capital, in those days. No UPS could work in such circumstances as the darned devices need electricity to charge the battery first and then use that juice. I couldn’t afford a generator and so a solution had to be found. It came in the shape of Hyperstar at Fortress Lahore, where I would go along with my family to kill those long hours of boredom. Off course one couldn’t go there daily, but we did go there at least two days a week as the place was centrally air conditioned backed by huge generators.
This post when read in the backdrop of recent pedophilia cases that have surfaced in Pakistan (Kasur to be specific) will make a lot of sense. It is a lamentation of a concerned parent who has been ripped off by a Telecom operator, without so much as a reminder or anything of the sort, called as “Customer Care”. And off course there will be many parents out there who will vouch for this ramble’s piety.