Monday, August 23, 2010

Goodbye Saleem!

Saleem cutting his last birthday cake with us!
I will always remember 22 December 2008; it was the day when I first met Saleem Mirza.
It was nearly 2 pm as I was waiting at the reception to be interviewed by the Karachi Office’s Director. Just when I was beginning to get impatient a man entered the reception area and asked for me. He was of a tall stature, wearing glasses and a courteous countenance, as I observed. I stood up as he introduced himself as Saleem Mirza, the director of Techlogix Karachi Office, and lead me to his room for the interview. He opened the door and entered after me, took his chair after I had taken mine and apologized for keeping me waiting! He asked if I would like to have some coffee or tea, and inquired if I would not mind waiting a few more minutes, so that he could finish writing an important email!
I was very astonished at the gracious manners of the Director, towards a fresh graduate, who came for an interview! 

It was almost 2 hours later that I left Saleem’s room; it was a thoroughly unique experience for me. I came to know that Saleem was not only modest and frank but exceptionally intelligent and a cool minded person, having a ‘Nothing-is-Impossible’ attitude towards his profession. He had the ability to course a constructive discussion on any topic be it technicalities or education, hobbies or politics, with an ease that speaks plainly of the vast scope of his intellect. A very rare person who makes you comfortable the instance he starts talking with you!

This was the first impression that I had of Saleem, an impression which never left me and will always stay with me whenever I’ll think of him!

From my very first day at Techlogix, Saleem was very helpful and genial. Be it the Employee Handbook, health insurance forms or the bank account opening, he explained everything to me in detail. During lunch he used to discuss any topic at hand, be it current affairs, games or our hobbies, and his demeanor always encouraged us to speak up our minds and share our ideas. I will remember all those lunches, events and TRF when he used to share his experiences of traveling or people, when he used to say something witty and laugh at it along us. He was not only cheerful and friendly at his verbal communication but also in his written communication. His emails addressed to Karachi office always used to start with ‘Folks’ and end with ‘Cheers!’.
Saleem extreme right on his birthday celebrations!
Reminiscences of Saleem would be incomplete without mentioning Table Tennis! He was a champion when it comes to TT tournaments, always the best at everything, how Saleem could have been any different at TT! He was a player all others used to awe and dread, especially his classic smashes and serve! We used to wonder how come Saleem played so extraordinary without any practice!

Whenever I had a concern or a complaint, I used to consult Saleem without any hesitation. I always found him attentive and hospitable, assuring and helpful. I will never forget the concern and kindness with which he used to inquire in detail after my father’s health, at the time when my father was seriously ill and undergoing medical treatments, he was always assuring and benign.

My work experience with Saleem was no different either. It was challenging because there wasn’t any area and technology that Saleem didn't knew. He always used to be well prepared for all the meetings, well informed regarding the project(s) and the task at hand. Always eager to explain and help with the learning of new tools and technologies. He was involved deeply in nearly every project going on in Karachi office, a living FS and Design Guidebook of all those projects!

I remember all the long project discussions we used to had, and me coming out of his room with my mind full of things, wondering with awe how did Saleem knew such a lot! He was a perfectionist when it comes to work, very committed and dedicated. He used to read our minds, I remember those times when I used to show my disapproval of the minute change requests sent by the clients, and taking in my expressions he used to put in a funny comment so abruptly that I had to stop myself with difficulty from laughing hard! He always used to give credit with such enthusiasm and generosity that the next time you wanted to work harder to please him!

There was no haughtiness or pride in Saleem; he always treated all of us on an equal footing. I noticed after joining Techlogix, that everybody called him Saleem. Our seniors used to say that he had asked them not to call him by anything, but his name. It had been just a month working with him on a project, when one day after the meeting he called me back and said, 'Jinaab, there is no need to call me Sir! Bas Saleem bola kerain'!

There is so much more that I wanted to write and say. I want to pour out all the recollections and to keep on writing. But I must stop, because there are memories etched deep in my mind, memories which I will keep cherishing and remembering!

The 17th of August was a heartbreaking day when I read about Saleem’s death just after the Mo’azan finished the call to Fajr prayer. I was frozen with shock, when I got the SMS telling that we have lost Saleem forever, it was incomprehensible, meaningless, and I keep repeating to myself that it can’t be true! Until the news was confirmed, I hoped dreadfully to let it be a mistake please, don’t let it be true. It was just the same with everyone else I contacted to confirm or inform about Saleem! We all didn’t want to believe that Saleem is gone!

Inna Lil Lahi Wa Inna Elaihi Ra’jioun!

All that day memories kept flashing at me, at times making me cry and sometimes making me smile in spite of myself. The happy face of Saleem, his ways and his jokes, all the events we had with him, the ice skating and bowling at Arena, the dinners and lunches. All the project status meetings with him, the late sittings for the releases, the CBD QA fixes on Saturday at which he was present to give us support, all those kept coming back to me.

All of a sudden it dawned on me that the contact ‘Saleem Mirza’ will never again blink on my screen, there won’t be any new emails in the folder ‘Saleem Mirza’, the first line of the attendance register won’t say anymore that Saleem reached office at 8:30 am, not anymore would he peep from his office’s doorway and beckon me in, saying, ‘Jinaab aik cheez discuss kerni hai, agar time ho tou ajain!’. I remembered our last meeting, our last goodbye, our last lunch and our last TRF with Saleem. Not for a second have we dreamt that we would never ever see him again!

I wanted to say so many things to him; it was only after he left for the US, that I realized I will miss him very much. It was then, that I felt his special qualities and virtues most deeply. I wanted to apologize and thank him for many things, but that moment never came!

Saleem have parted with us forever, and the only memories he left behind are good and beautiful! There are very few blessed people who leave behind them only good feelings and recollections. It’s with tears and sting that I will say goodbye to Saleem. The void his absence has created in Karachi office and Techlogix could never be filled in! We all simply can’t imagine a Karachi office without Saleem!

O Allah, bestow your mercy and peace upon the gentle soul that has left us! Bless him with high honors in Janaat-ul-Firdous(the most esteemed Garden of the Heaven)! And give strength and peace to the hearts of those he left behind him especially his Family. (Ameen)

Saleem(extreme left first row) with Khi office after the cricket match

Friday, August 13, 2010

The True Love!

12 August::
A day ago I read this verse from Surah Al-Baqarah inscribed upon the calendar for the 11th of the month :
"I complain to Allah alone of my sorrow and grief."
Al Yusuf[12:86]

And below it was inscribed.
 “Rest assured that He is full of pity and mercy for mankind.”
                                                   Al Baqarah[2:143]
It was the second verse that kept coming back to me that day time after time. And made me write and share my feelings with you all.
After reading it, I couldn’t help pondering upon the mercy and love of Allah for all of His creatures, especially for the offspring of His beloved Aadam(AS) and the Ummah of His most beloved prophet Muhammad(SAW)!
The more I thought, the more I came to see the signs of His love and mercy all around me.  While watching the birds pirouette gracefully in the sky above, while passing by the towering leafy trees, extending out green cool canopies as far as their branches could stretch , while looking at a mother's care and love for her children. In short, in every little thing that was a part of my daily routine, I saw His love and mercy for His creatures. 

Everything keeps reminding me, O mankind come to your Creator, He loves and care for you more than anyone else put together!
Have a look around yourself. You are bound to notice and comprehend these signs too.

Have you ever thought how your mind and body relaxes with the zikr of Allah? Have you ever noticed that you feel at peace with the world, with everything around you, just by calling Allah from the depths of your heart and pouring out all your troubles to Him? Have you ever experienced the feeling of ecstasy and deliverance while you praise Him and prostrate in front of Him during Salat?

Its because Allah is most closest to you, as He himself says in Surah Al-Qaf:

"And indeed We have created man, and We know whatever thoughts his inner self develops, and We are closer to him than (his) jugular vein."
                                                                                                                             Al Qaf [50:16]
That is the bond of closeness between Allah, the all-Encompassing and completely Knowledgeable, and us!

Then why do we neglect this bond? Why do we seek earthly benefactors and supporters? Why not seek Allah, who is the closest to you. 
Allah, the most Compassionate (Ar Rehman),  the Forgiver (Al Ghaffar), the Concealer[of our faults] (Al Sattar), the Bestower of honor (Al Mu'izz) , the Granter of prayers (Al Mujeeb), the Gentle One (Al Latif), the all Powerful (Al Qadir).... 
Allah the Greatest(Al Akbar)!

Look towards Him with hope, for His forgiveness of our faults and seek His guidance, pity and mercy. "Call your Lord with fear and with Hope..." [Al Araf 56:7].  He gives us chances, shows us His signs so that we may return to Him with hope of being spared, to seek His blessings and love.
Rasool Allah (SAW) said,  Allah سبحانه وتعالى says to His servants: "If you come to Me walking, I will come to you running." [Hadith-e-Qudsi].
Just imagine the love of the Omnipotent, the Compassionate! Moreover Rasool Allah(SAW) said, Allah سبحانه وتعالى says," My servant keeps coming closer to Me with more volunteer deeds, until I love him" [Bukhari].

Get closer to Allah, you don't  have to be a sufi or a darwaish to be His friend. Because Allah سبحانه وتعالى lives in your heart and soul!

I'll end with this prayer...

Oh Allah, the almighty, 

Protect me and guide me,
Through your love and mercy.
Ya Allah don’t deprive me, 

From beholding your beauty.
O my Lord accept this plea.
Hasbi rabbi jallallah [My Lord is enough for me, Glory be to Allah]

Ma fi qalbi ghayrullah [There is nothing in my heart except Allah]

[excerpt from Sami Yousuf's hamd 'Hasbi Rabbi']

Have a blessed Ramadan!
Ramadan Mabrook.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Great Job Absher!

A friend of mine send me a link on msn today from Jehan Ara's blog.

The caption read, "Abshar Rashid solves a problem on Innocentive"
"Abshar Rashid, Bachelors of Computer Systems Engineering (2008) from NED University, has solved a problem posted on the InnoCentive website. His solution was accepted from hundreds of solutions submitted online from across the globe.....".

The article gave me immense pleasure and joy! Just when it seemed that there was only despair and tension in news, this piece seemed like a breath of fresh air!

Absher was my batch mate during BE at NED. Besides being a friend, he is an intellectual individual (read a philosophical thinker!), a very good problem solver having the potential to stand out among masses(that's what he recently proved), not to mention a very good editor as well!

This news is indeed a ray of hope for Pakistanis, it shows that besides being intelligent and smart, our youth knows how to channel their abilities positively. As Jehan Ara rightly commented in her blog:
"Way to go Abshar! You have proven that there is indeed tremendous talent in this country. All we have to do is go look for it, nurture it and provide it with the right environment in which to flourish."

We need a youth who have the ability to take their ideology forward, nourish their talents, explore and conquer emerging vistas and motivating others along the way!

With the youth day just days away(12th August) all I have to say is:
There is just the need to follow your heart and mind, to focus on your goals.Let go the fear of failure, that daunts you. Work with zeal and commitment toward the achievement of your aim, and have firm faith in God.
Success will surely be yours.
You must understand that success is not only about winning, its the experience you gain on the way. The transformation from well to good, good to better and better to best!

Happy Youth Day & Good luck!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

United we Stand...

In less than a week, from the 28th of July to the 3rd of August,  perhaps time, has given us many reasons to mourn and grief the destruction. Whether it was the devastation caused by the Margala crash, then the havoc and chaos because of the recent floods and then the Karachi horror. We’ve seen and heard everything from death, violence, helplessness, famine, and much worst the dark side of human nature…., taking advantage of the adversity of your own brethren!
How come life saving items, food and eatables and sheltering necessities are short in the market at the time of any crisis? Why is it that the price of everything of need is increased as soon as we hear of a calamity in neighborhood? Why do media channels gloat their efficient services by exploiting situations rather than causing awareness and urging people to help, why do government officials assume themselves freed of their duty to the nation by mere air visits, when those who are going through the ordeal are least interested in it?
The need, is being united as a nation, especially in these trying times. United we stand, divided we fall. With the entire nation gripped in natural crisis and devastation we don’t want any more trouble. We had already buried many whom nature had taken from us; we don’t have the strength to burry those who are being snatched away at the hands of culprits causing terror, culprits feeding on our differences and divides. We want a solution, an ending to all this violence, we need to control our anger and forget the animosity to bring peace among the conflicting groups.
We need people to come forward and make their contributions, whatever they might be, in helping the millions of displaced and surviving victims. It could be anything from consolation and words of hope, which will help them bear their loss, to, provide the homeless with shelter, food, medicines and relief.
Let’s make a start by contributing in Pakistan Army’s or any reliable fund so that those waiting for our help wouldn’t be disappointed. Just think how much we spend on a single shopping spree, a favorite branded shoe or on a dine out with friends. Letting go of such small pleasures for the greater good will not only leave you satisfied but happy as well. Besides monetary help we can try creating awareness in our social circle, urge people to come forward for our own country and play their part. 
It's time that politicians should also take the responsibility entrusted upon them; play their role and prove their mantle by insisting peaceful demonstrations to condemn the violence that took place on the 2nd of August in Karachi. Taking justice in our hands is not the solution but the cause of further clashes. Rather than venting out energies on spite and hatred we should use them collectively to bring about a positive change. The millions of people who now stand homeless were the ones who voted these 'leaders' to power; they should not let them down this time!
Come ahead to serve our nation so that history will bear witness that the youth and people of Pakistan didn’t sit back fighting amongst themselves when they were needed most. 
Remember patriotism isn’t only about singing national songs,  waving a flag on the 14th of august and making emotional speeches. Patriotism is simply loyalty to your country; there is no gauge to measure it. 
Your country comes before all your social divides. It is patriotism when you keep the crumpled gum wrapper in your pocket rather than throwing it on the road while travelling, or when you give your savings, time and love for those who need it more than you do. Becasue,
Your country needs you. Your people need you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Beauty is in the Eyes of Beholder!

I simply love walking at the shore. I love the waves as they fall back touching my bare feet, the calm of the shore, the song the wind plays along with the sea, the endless blue sea stretching from left to right, the soft wet sand more beautiful and softer than any carpet hands could ever weave, looking back at the footprints that I left in my wake, watching them being swept away or fade by the waves. All of It soothes my soul, my mind and always gives me a lot to think about (well I said sooth not rest ;))
I also love collecting pebbles and shells that interest me during these walks, shells because they are pretty and pebbles... Well it all began when I spotted a beautifully round, smoothed pebble on one of these walks, it was a hue of different colours - blue, brown, white- all blended artistically with so much beauty that I couldn’t help marvelling at the grace of almighty and pocketed it up.
 Yesterday was no exception. I gathered as many pebbles and shells as my hands could carry before leaving the shore. On my way back as I looked at the pebbles, smoothed and curved by the ageless waves that keeps washing the shore, pebbles of all colours (yellowish brown, greenish blue, a marble textured one maroon, a dim purplish and all sorts!) and shapes, I couldn’t help wondering why is a stone portrayed only as a symbol of cold heartedness, selfishness, difficulty and misery in poetry and literature.
Why a poet compares the heart of an uncaring sweetheart to a stone, why it’s said that all a person have gathered in their lap are stones, when talking about the hard share of fate. I agree stones are hurtled at someone to cause pain but we overlook the action of the person in causing pain and characterize the stone with pain.... stone might be hard but it’s beautiful as well, stone might look ugly and cold but in it home many of creatures of land and water, to moss and fungi and much more. Rocks and stones also live with time as does the trees and the seas. When a sea can be beautiful and lovely in spite of being ruthless, I feel a stone has every right to be so.
I'm not advocating the cause of stones and pebbles here;) I am  merely comparing our perception of stones with our attitude towards people we met and see. How prejudices of color, cast ,creed and appearances makes difference in our thinking. We are reluctant to befriend a simple person, a quite or shy fellow, or a person observing different religion. How easily we tend to neglect those who fail our glittering criteria of cool friends and company or how we don't feel the need to make friends at all, or sometimes we only socialize for incentives.
We judge and evaluate people on their outlook and don't bother look into the person, the heart and soul behind the cover . And in doing so, we sometimes miss the beautiful people, some true and everlasting friendships and relationships we could have earned rather than gathering  fake jewels that fade with time.
So I think it all comes to your love of nature, how you look at it. And I thank God for helping me stay away from this shell of prejudice we have cast around our minds....
Because its not wrong when we say that "Beauty is in the eyes of beholder". 
Shakespere must have thought the same when he said in Love's Labours Lost :
Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean,
Needs not the painted flourish of your praise:
Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,
Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Margalla Crash -- A tragic injury

28th July 2010 was the day when the deadliest air disaster of the nation became inevitable. The Margalla plane crash brought tears to many eyes and grieved many hearts across the nation.
I was at office when I heard the news from a colleague of mine. I hurriedly connected to a local news website to check the news myself.
What I learned was no good, it was shocking! It was all flames, smoke, fog and wreckage.

It only was a month ago that my father went to Islamabad with my sister. It was the same ill fated plane ED202 that they boarded, unaware that shortly they were going to hear about the terrible loss of 152 lives in the crash! The pilot and some of the crew were also the same they had during their flight. My father was ill when he went to Islamabad. The crew was very helpful and caring, they took all possible measure to ensure that his journey should be a comfortable one. We all felt deeply for the tragic loss, for the loss of all those who cared and were cared for.

All the news channels were debating probable causes of the crash. Boasting that they were the first to give a full coverage. Allowing rumors and speculations to spread. Causing hope to burn by saying that there are survivors left and extinguishing it the next moment. Please stop humiliating ourselves as a nation further, rise from the stooping fall we are going to land in. Stop the race for brand for once and mourn and help those in suffering rather than wasting resources making 3D videos showing the crash. The need is not to place the blame but to put balm on the burning scars of those who've lost their everything in these catastrophes.

In all this time if I find something commendable, it was the unwavering spirit and support and help the locals gave to the rescue teams throughout their operation. We are proud of you all who rushed to aid the victims and extended their help. God bless you.

May the souls of the departed rest in peace for eternity and their loved ones have the strength to bear the loss and carry on. Ameen.