To-do or not to-do

to do listMonday is start of the week. And after weekend, this is the day we all dread for different reasons; be it work, university, school or household chores. For past few days, I was all over the place and it is because I was doing everything on an impulse.

Therefore, I have decided to write a to-do list which will help organise my day. I used to follow this ritual before but then I left it.

Several studies have revealed that people perform better when they have written down what they need to do. This is because once you write down the tasks that you need to do, you are clear in your mind.

The best part is the internal satisfaction you get when you cross them one-by-one.

According to psychologists, writing a to-do list lessens anxiety, gives you a plan that you can stick to and is proof of what you can achieve that day.

To-do list is different from time table. You are not bound by time. You do things according to your own convenience. This is easy to follow compared to time table.

Here is to a new start and hope this will help structure your day as well as your life.

What do you think about to-do list? How much does this help you in organising your day? Share your answers in the comment section.

Americanah: A Tale Of Race, Love And Home

“The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. Weamericanah all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue. I didn’t think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America.”

The excerpt is from Adiche’s renowned novel Americanah. This is a powerful story about love, race and immigration. Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman living in Princeton, New Jersey, decides to move back to Nigeria after a breakup from her boyfriend Blaine. It was ten years ago when Ifemulu came to America from her home country Nigeria. During this period, she faced a lot of difficulties. The foremost obstacle was her skin colour.

In Nigeria, race was not an issue for Ifemelu, and she was never called black in Lagos; she was Nigerian. Upon arriving in the United States, she was shocked to discover that she had been labeled black; especially a non-American black. This made her start her own blog where she addressed issues related to race.

Other than that, the love story between Ifemulu and her teenage sweetheart Obinze is riveting. Their love story witnessed many ups and downs. During Ifemulu’s stay in the US, she suffered from depression and this became the reason of her detachment from Obinze. Later Obinze married Kosi and Ifemulu dated Curt and Blaine. But when Ifemulu came back to Nigeria, their love reignited. The author knows how to touch the heart chords of her readers. There is yearning for love which is engrossing.

Moreover, the author has also shown the importance of family values and blood relation in this story. Education is also central theme of this novel.

Rate: 4.5/5.

Ready To Take That Leap?

life hope 1

At times, we hold on to people for so long; not realising that this may be suffocating the relationship. The fact is what is meant for us will not go away and what is not, let it go. Set yourself and them free so that you may see the bigger plan that Almighty has made for you.

We do know that this is going nowhere but we keep on lingering because we hope that one day things will turn in our favour. We pray and still see no result. We feel disheartened and want to shout and cry. I reckon there is nothing wrong to feel sad. It’s normal. However, nobody can understand our tears more than Almighty Allah. Indeed He is Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing, The Omniscient). He is aware of all things, even before they happen.

It’s true that brokenness and desperation lead us to finally let go to Allah and admit powerlessness. Faith is the only way that can bring us out from darkness. Believe that He can heal all wounds. We only need to embark on the journey for true surrender to the Will of Almighty Allah. It’s not an easy path. We may falter and lose. Knowing how difficult this may be, the question is, are we ready to take that leap? Am I ready to take that leap?

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

handmaid tale

Photo by writer

It took me a while to digest Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. When I first start reading this novel, I had no clue what world I was about to discover and let me tell you it was all doom and gloom. The storyline was disturbing and stayed with me for days.

The Canadian author has hit all the right buttons to stir up the reader’s uneasiness. The dystopian world she describes in the novel is stark and skewed by religious fundamentalism. Written in 1985, the story revolves around Offred, a handmaid (female slave) in the new Republic of Gilead. The Gilead was formed after attacks on US government. The totalitarian state that took control has rigid laws against women. Women rights like equality, sexual reproduction rights and general human rights are deemed punishable by the men of the society. The fictional world has food rationing, class hierarchy and public hangings for wrongdoing especially for women. Does this ring a bell?

Offred (not the real name) is part of class called the handmaids. The purpose of handmaid in the society is to conceive and bear children for the families. They are dressed in red colour and symbolism of fertility. Women here are only considered for childbirth and taking care of household. The Commander, where she lives as handmaiden, sees her as more than simply a surrogate.  Serena Joy, the Commander’s wife, is naturally jealous of Offred, but she is desperate for a child so, when Offred fails to become pregnant, Serena Joy arranges for her to sleep with Nick, the chauffeur.

margaret atwood

Photo by writer

Offred is reluctant to accept this world and she cannot suppress her desires. This is why she thinks about her past life and how one day she can leave this dark world. The end of the story leaves you in suspense of whether Offred has found the freedom or prison.

The narration is very erratic as it jumps between past and present, and at times makes you confused due to obscure description. It is what author has emphasised to show in the novel. She wants readers to be perplexed while reading the novel because the world of Gilead is extremely disturbing and secretive.

The story is about power, fundamentalism and misogyny. It’s horrific but somewhat true to reality. I felt hopelessness and sadness while reading this story.

A word of caution: This is not a happy read. So if you want to have a nice weekend, do not pick this novel.

“Remember forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest. Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven.” – Excerpt from book

The Handmaid’s Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Vintage Fiction, London

ISBN: 978-1-0-099-74091-9

320pp.

 

Living Your Dream Life

This interview I took when I was working in Geo TV in 2012. This interview was posted on Geovision website. I am sharing some chunks of the interview over here for my readers.

ayesha ehtesham 1“I believe that everything happens for a reason but if you really yearn something, it definitely comes your way,” says Ayesha Ehtesham, a renowned face in the news industry.

She is the most admired news anchor of the program. Unlike her presence on the screen that comes out as a strong and a confident person, there is a naivety in her personality off-screen.

Whether it was by coincidence or destiny, Ayesha joined the media industry during her university life. It was not a pre-planned decision, but as J.K. Rowling says: “What we are today is not a reflection of our abilities but the choices we make,” thus Ayesha is fortunate enough to make the right choice for her career.

During university days, she proved her ability as radio presenter in FM channel of University of Punjab Radio. However, before joining Geo News, she has not only worked as an associate producer in one of the former channels but a broadcaster as well.

She hosted a program known as Geo Extra that airs on Geo News. It is a one hour slot based on news and events where the style of the news is different from the other run-of-the-mill news presentation. Ayesha talked about the latest news by adding an extra zing to the news bulletins.

Geo Vision brings you up-close and personal with lovely Ayesha Ehtesham who believes in making the right choice at the right time.

MADIHA AKHTAR: Why you choose to be a news anchor?

AYESHA EHTESHAM: During my childhood days, a part of me always wanted to do something in front of camera though I never had any plan of being a newscaster, but it seems that my luck played its role. I had two options in my university life, the first was Clinical Psychology and the other was Communications. Interestingly, my fate chose the latter one for me and I accidentally bumped into this profession.

MA: According to you, three qualities that are needed to become a successful news anchor?

AE: Foremost one need to have sharp senses because a single mistake means you are out of the game; secondly confidence and finally knowledge. I believe that these are some of the significant components that a news anchor should possess.

MA: Do you think that looks are given more importance than knowledge for being an anchor…your take?

AE: Personally, I disagree from this statement. Before one could give importance to the looks over knowledge but after the inclusion of private channels, anchors are required to be well-prepared. However, there are two reasons of my disagreement; firstly you have hourly live news and breaking alerts one cannot survive until and unless one is not well-informed. Secondly, one needs to be camera-friendly – any sane person can lose confidence while facing camera, though for a newscaster you need to have confidence for your mental alertness.

ayesha 5MA: Who is your inspiration in anchoring?

AE: Faiza Dawood, former Geo newscaster Nida Sameer and Hala Ghurrani of CNN.

MA: Give one positive and negative point of being a news anchor?

AE: I think the positives are good package and limelight (giggle), whereas the drawback is the compromise of the personal lives.

MA: While doing live bulletins, did you face any mishap?

AE: There are several occasions when you come across funny or embarrassing situations; which include munching words during bulletins or doing lisping so on and so forth.

MA: Your most memorable moment while doing news bulletin?

AE: (Thinking hard) I guess it is yet to come!

MA: Any news that made you speechless or gave goose bumps? How did you recover yourself?

AE: Well, to be honest it’s not a good feeling at all to present bad news to the viewers, I really feel bad from inside. The assassination of Salman Taseer and the recent Malala issue – these were the times when I felt crying. But this is the job of us as anchors to control ourselves. At a glance, it might seem insensitive but this is a part of our job to avoid showing any lines of emotion on our face.

MA: What has been your favorite news that made your day?

AE: Once a batman entered a news studio where a presenter was sitting and giving her bulletin. She shrieked at the sight of flying creature, it was one of the news that really brings a smile on my face. My reason of amusement is because of my association with the profession. I am a newscaster, so definitely any news related to your contemporaries is hilarious.

MA: Among noted personalities at Geo News, who is your favorite one?

AE: Najam Sethi – he is the man of masses and his style of explaining things is very casual which I find it interesting.

ayesha 3MA: In our present lot of politicians, who do you think is the rational one?

AE: For me, Imran Khan all the way!

MA: Other than you, who is your favourite anchor in Geo TV?

AE: Danish Anis Sheikh-the attribute of being involved in every show is commendable. The peppiness and an interactive style of his anchoring are his strong points.

MA: Are you a planner? Do you have any goals?

AE: I am not a planner, I live at the moment. Though my goal is to excel in the field of media and I am just hoping for the best.

MA: How has been your experience working with Geo?

AE: So far, it’s been a good journey. In my opinion, Geo is one such organisation that provides you a family environment to work at your comfort.

MA: To your fans, what you want to say?

AE: Nothing is impossible, yes nothing is! I never thought I would land into news anchoring, but destination paves its own way. It’s not impossible to achieve what you want; the only means is to have a firm belief on God and one’s ability.