Karachi Review: A Hustle Bustle Neighbourhood

 

If you want to know about Block-4, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Karachi that is located in Pakistan, so here is the review which I did for Dawn publication

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Eliminating Power Theft (Published Write-up)

Electricity theft is a major cause of revenue loss and circular debt in the case of Pakistan. Power theft alone costs hundreds of million dollars every year to electricity distribution companies in Pakistan.  It is obvious that electricity crisis cannot be handled without combating rampant electricity theft in the country.

A solution has been tried in Karachi, Pakistan where the power utility of the city, K-Electric, according to the media reports has installed Aerial Bundled Cables in kunda-infested areas. With these cables, it is impossible for power thieves to apply hook connections and also ensures proper supply of electricity to the houses, saving electrical equipment’s from short-circuit.

Below is the article  that got published in Business Recordera leading financial daily in Pakistan and the first such publication to be published in the Muslim world. The publication is owned by the Business Recorder Group which is one of South Asia’s preeminent media conglomerates.

business-recorder-oct-2-2016

If the pic is unreadable so you can also click the link below for the  readability:

http://epaper.brecorder.com/2016/10/03/16-page/799291-news.html

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Karachi You’re Killing Me!

“It’s Karachi. It’s where life and love come to die. It has nothing.”

saba imtiaz

Photo by Author

The above line is an excerpt of Saba Imtiaz’s novel ‘Karachi You’re Killing Me’ which showcases a different world of Karachi. I remember that this novel was published in 2014 but I didn’t get the chance to read at that time. Recently it caught my attention when it was announced that Sonakshi Sinha’s next film Noor is based on Imtiaz novel. I just thought to give it a read.

Ayesha is a 28-year-old journalist with the gift of finding herself in absurd, often mind-boggling, situations. She lives in Karachi with her father and an arrogant cat who behaves like a sibling to her. She has a snobbish boss (Kamran) and her job becomes nightmarish as she struggles to keep up with her boss’s grueling schedule and demeaning demands (it kind of reminds me Miranda Priestly in Lauren Weisberger’s Devil Wears Prada). The only surviving factor which keeps her going in her gruesome job is lots of booze, cigarettes, and of course her 3 a.m. friends (Zara and Saad), who she could look up to for everything.

From interviewing designers, freed Guantanamo detainee to reporting on gang-wars, her brief is to cover almost everything that happens in Karachi.  Being a journalist is not easy in this conflicted area. Running from pillars to post, she stumbles upon many adversities which include the gunmen, near miss from death, starlets, and elite teenagers and who’s who of Karachi.

The book had a very Moni Mohsin’s ‘The Diary of a Social Butterfly’ and Helen Fielding’s ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary ‘ feel to it, filled with humour and a protagonist who you often found ranting about a city she loved and wanted to escape at the same time. It was inked with words that Pakistanis, especially Karachiites will understand instantly and conversations that simply leapt of the page because they honestly felt so real.

I have lived a major chunk of my life in Karachi and living here is nothing but a roller coaster ride. One will see a phenomenal diversity in this city which I don’t think one can find in other city. The city with its exuberance has a tendency to embrace every wanderer and seeking soul in its arms. It gives hopes and dreams to all those seekers who traveled to this place in hope to make it big in their lives.

Despite its vivacity, the city is a difficult place to live in especially for journalists. Interesting part of Imtiaz novel was her wittiness that enables readers to stomach out the horrendous details without grimacing.

“People tend to think living amid bombs and blood is inspiring. It isn’t. It just makes me feel exhausted with the sheer pressure of either trying to shrug it off like nothing happened or having to write about it-how many new ways can one come up with to write about blood and gore? A couple odd one-liners in the book cracked me up bad. This is not a story of terrorism or a mishap faced by the city but a feisty girl’s everyday story which is a concoction of lies, deceit, love, passion, hate, friendship, misfortunes and trust.” (Excerpt from Novel) 

The downside of the novel was having no real plot and a predictable story. At maximum, it appears like Ayesha’s memoirs on display and while they are interesting, one wonders if this would be all in the book which had an interesting enough premise to lead into a much bigger show. Nevertheless one does not lose interest, the sway appeal that one expected, especially with such a powerful title, isn’t quite there.

P.S. After reading this novel, I just wonder how Sonakshi would justify with the character of this novel.I am not optimist about Sinha playing Ayesha’s character as the novel has a tongue-in-cheek humour which I doubt Sinha would be able to pull it off.. For now let’s just wait till the cat comes out of the bag ( 2017 it is!)

 

Book Review: The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

elif shafak

Whenever you pick a book you never know exactly what are you going to get. Same happened to me with ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’.

Background of buying Bastard of Istanbul: I would not have read this novel if the author was not Elif Shafak. My love for Shafak started after reading Forty Rules of Love (FROL). It was a story about a desperate housewife who was not happy in her married life. She worked at a literary agency where she was given a book to review name as Sweet Blasphemy written by Aziz Zahra. The book is about a wandering dervish Shams of Tarbaiz who is a mystic Sufi and he sees the vision of his death and he need to find someone to whom he can deliver his knowledge to. For this purpose, Shams travelled to Konya where he met Jalaluddin Rumi, a famous Islamic scholar and a Sufi. After meeting Shams, a drastic change was observed in Rumi due to which people including Rumi’s family start hating him.

I know I have deviated from my review but the reason to include synopsis of FROL was to make you people understand my preference for this novel 🙂

I remembered I bought this book during last year’s book fair that held at Expo Center, Karachi. Before this fair, I had already finished FROL so when I reached liberty book stall and start searching for some good novels, I got hold of this novel ‘The Bastard of Istanbul’. I only saw the spine of the novel as it was in between other novels on the rack. Reading Shafak’s name raised my guard and as soon as I took it out I was just in love with the cover of the paperback. I decided instantly to buy this novel.

For one whole year I thought to read but due to job and so many other books in my reading list, it took me a while to start with this novel (and probably that’s why I am dragging it over here too) Jokes apart…

Précis: Let me trudge through the story which showcases three cultures in one story-Turkey, Aremina and America. The story is set in the United States and Turkey, concerns two families-one Turkish, living one in Istanbul and other is Armenian, living between Arizona and San Francisco

A young girl Armanoush, an Armenian- American, had a split family as her parents were divorced. Her mother married to a Turkish man, Mustafa whereas his father who was an Armenian, never remarried.  Armanoush decided to go to Turkey and stay with her step-father’s family.

Mustafa’s family based in Istanbul is a house of five women where Asya Kazanci is the youngest of all. Asya’s beautiful and a rebellious mother, Zeliha run a tattoo parlor. Asya never got to know about his father and her mother never mentioned to her of course at the end of the story.

Both Armanoush and Asya were young and didn’t know much about their past however, the former who came for a search of her identity, the latter didn’t even attempt to find about her father. According to Asiya, “Memories are too much of a burden” whereas Armanoush had different opinion and following lines might be easy to understand her perception. “Despite all the grief that it embodies, history is what keeps us alive and united.”

Review: I was really shocked when I got to know that Shafak was prisoned for three years for writing this novel. The story talks about Armenian genocide that happened in 1915. Shafak kept a neutral approach for this genocide. Armanoush tried to reason with her cousin Asya about Armenian genocide as she was appalled to find a city and a country in denial about the genocide, and she attempted to make her cousin understand how much the past conditioned the present.

What I found troubling is Mustafa’s character, whose actions are central to the plot, remains an enigma. It was quite a revelation when I got to know that Asya’ on whom the title is based, was a daughter of her uncle Mustafa and he was the culprit who raped his own sister. I think nothing justifies rape and putting on the complexities in the past is not enough reason to do such horrendous act. But then the brought up of the family do matter in the development of the personality.

Overall there’s plenty of plot in this novel however, there is no doubt that the book is clever, thick with ideas, themes and politics. But then reading through the pages I realized that it would be more interesting with fewer characters and rather less quirky description.

On the positive side, the highlight of the novel is some of the beautiful lines which really hook you to the novel till the end. Some of the lines I am sharing below in this post.

Excerpts from the Novel

Life is coincidence, though sometimes it takes djinni to fathom that.

-Language was only a reeking carcass of hollow words long rotten inside

-Literature needs freedom to thrive. For Asya, fiction was her main connection with the entire world

-Mourning is like virginity, Aunty Zeliha heaved a sigh. You should give it to the one who deserves it most.

-When women survive an awful marriage or love affair, and all that, they generally avoid another relationship for quite some time. With men, however, it’s just the opposite, the moment they finish a catastrophe they start looking for another one. Men are incapable of being alone.

-Family stories intermingle in such ways that what happened generation ago can have an impact on seemingly irrelevant developments of the present day. The past is anything but by gone. If Levent Kazanci hadn’t grown up to be such a bitter and abusive man, would his only son, Mustafa, have ended up being a different person? If generations ago in 1915 Shushan hadn’t been left an orphan, would Asya today still be a bastard

-“All these rich people! Huh! They stockpile money all through their life, what for? How foolish! Do shrouds have pockets? It’s a cotton shroud that we are all going to wear in the end. That’s it. No chic clothes. No jewelry. Can you wear a tuxedo to the grave or a ball gown? Who holds the skies for the people?”

-Imagination was a dangerously captivating magic for those compelled to be realistic in life and words could be poisonous for those destined always to be silenced.

-For the Armenians, time was a cycle in which the past incarnated in the present and the present birthed the future. For the Turks, time was a multi-hypenated line, where the past ended at some definite point and the present started anew from scratch, and there was nothing but rupture in between

-Collectivities are capable of manipulating their individual members’ beliefs, thoughts, and even bodily reactions. You keep hearing a certain story over and over again, and the next thing you know you have internalized the narrative. From that moment on it ceases to be someone else’s story. It is not even a story anymore, but reality, your reality!

Happy Reading Everyone!

 

Adopt Preemptive Measures for Energy Conservation

heat-wave_zpsc926c86dImagine you forget to turn off the TV before dozing off; you do not turn off the air conditioner before leaving room; you are out of office but your computer system remains plugged in. You have been doing this all along throughout the day without even realizing that you are in fact wasting energy.

Out of all the problems that we are facing at the moment, energy seems to be the most annoying one and still we as a nation do not stop wasting energy in one way or other.

Pakistan is already an energy deficient country where electricity load management is one of the biggest challenges faced by the policy makers.

Summer is the worst period in the country as the demand of electricity increases, adding stress on equipment, causing power outages due to excessive use of energy consumption.

With the possible heat wave that hit the province including Karachi, it’s imperative for the people to avoid wasting energy and focus on ways to conserve energy.

Energy conservation is key factor during heat wave. This year’s heat wave is considered to be of higher intensity compared to last year which killed more than 1400 lives.

It’s true that ‘Old habits die hard’ but saving energy is not a difficult task. By following simple yet effective measures an individual can play an effective role as a responsible citizen:

Reduce Electricity Use during Peak Hours of Energy Use

One may not cut electricity consumption but reserving the energy-intensive tasks for off-peak hours can reduce the rate one pays to the power company. Moreover, businesses should shift power-intensive work processes to morning or evening hours.

Shut Off Electrical Equipment While Leaving A Room

Before dozing off, do remember to switch off the TV, in this way one might save megawatts. Electricity-DESIGN-MOHSIN-ALAM-191884-640x480Likewise, plug off the computer system will save 60 MW. It’s important to keep in mind that never leave any electric appliance in standby mode because it can sip away energy and install good quality UPS as it will help to save around 20-30 percent electricity.

Use Energy Savers

The incessant use of incandescent bulbs and tube lights in homes or offices consumes about 90 percent of energy and use only 10 percent to light up the home so it’s better to replace them by using 23MW energy savers which will save around 75 percent energy.

Curtail the Usage of Air-Conditioners

We have the habit of misusing the facility that provides convenience to us for instance refrigerator or AC especially in summer season, the usage of AC shoots up resulted in high utility bills, however if one keeps their AC Thermostat on 24°C and get its filter serviced regularly so a 30 percent reduction in bill is witnessed.

Limit How Often You Open Your Refrigerator Door.

Avoid keeping the hot food directly into refrigerator as it will increase the energy consumption and also service the compressor or leakages of gaskets in fridge regularly to save energy.

Unplug Electrical equipment During Power Outage

During a power outage, turn off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment. Furthermore try to use flashlights, instead of candles for lighting during a power outage as they may pose a significant fire hazard.

Widespread Plantation

More trees need to be planted across the city as it also helps in reducing carbon footprint in the environment. It also lowers the severity of the heat

energy-conservation1Conserving energy is not only about having a reduced electricity bill but it is also about changing lifestyle. There is a need to change the nation’s behavior towards energy conservation that could only be achieved through regular sharing of information on the subject through newspapers, television, internet and obviously social media.

 

 

Planting Mangroves-Initiative of WWF with K-Electric

Mangroves are significant for ecosystem as it acts as a shield against tsunamis or flood and sea storm. Considering the climate change  and its impact, WWF and K-Electric took an initiative to plant mangroves at the Karachi’s coastline.

Below is the article that got published in Pakistan and Gulf Economist (PAGE)-a leading financial magazine of over 40 years

P.S. This is something I wrote it down for my office purpose (Or in other words, for my corporate client) 🙂

article mangroves

 

 

 

 

 

Gastroenteritis

Gastro-enteritis is the inflammation of lining of stomach and intestines which includes both large and small intestines.Gastroenteritis is responsible for 25% of all deaths in children up to 5 years and elderly patients more than 60 years lead to hospitalization and then death. Infectious gastroenteritis maybe caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites.
Viral gastroenteritis is more common than bacterial gastroenteritis. Viruses which cause this disease are Rotavirus, Norovirus, Adenovirus and Astroviruswhere as in bacterial gastroenteritis most common are E.coli, Salmonella and Shigella.

Gastroenteritis viruses: A = rotavirus, B = adenovirus, C = Norovirus and D = Astrovirus.

If there is only vomiting it indicates Gastritis but in Gastroenteritis vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea and at times nausea, abdominal pain or fever are also observed.
Unclean water is provided to different areas of Karachi especially Site, Gulshan, Orangi, New Karachi, Liaquatabad, Landhi, Korangi Gadap, keemari and Lyari.
The tanks and reservoirs that hold water are not properly cleaned and this way water is contaminated. The rain drainage system is not properly maintained although after rain the cleaning took place but the sludge was thrown outside which attract the houseflies and these flies sit on them and later carries the dirt in their wings to food items.
The disease also occurs due to contaminated food and houseflies are main carrier because they usually sit on the dirty things after which the food items on stalls near roadside or near stagnant water like aloo chat or bun kababs and many others they are present in open environment and they sit on them leaving their dirt.

SOLUTIONS

·         Firstly drink boil water which should be boiled 10 to 15 minutes.

·         Filtration of water alone is not effective until the filters are properly cleaned and many people do not know the accurate method.

·         Fumigation or sprays to get rid off houseflies.

·         Water can also be cleaned through hydrogen peroxide, chlorine or potash alum.

·         Food inspector should be assigned to check fish and food markets and City Government makes it mandatory.