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High on baking….

21 Mar
Its been quite some time since I last sat and scribbled some thing new…. Guess the weather is taking its toll on me….From the never stopping, on going, pulsating, vibrating, and exciting, not to forget hot and humid Karachi to the spine-chilling, cold, gloomy, quiet Toronto-the difference speaks for itself….Just sometimes one has to decide, based on not what the heart says (Yes in my case its sometimes) but what the mind says or better yet what some one, who is a piece of your heart, wants….for no rhyme or reason of your own!



Here I am braving the temperatures, way below the freezing mark, waiting just to be back….. And before I start again on Karachi, or some tweet distract me or my phone rings, let me just stick to what I planned…. 

I had never been a baking person…Never loved baked goodies, never felt like doing it myself…. And then I met this woman….who was high on baking…She WAS a friend…Mind the WAS! She would bring me amazing baked stuff, and would talk about baking all the time. She always wanted to join these cake decorating classes that another friend of hers had gone to, and she was all ga-ga about it. 

One of the first cakes-Made for a surprise bridal shower

Then one day she called and asked me to join the class with her. In fact she told me that I have to. Being the kind of friends we were and just to try it out, I enrolled for the class, shopped enthusiastically for the basics. Found out just days before the first session that she had to leave for UK because of some emergency. Without much of a choice, I attended the first session, only to fall endlessly in love with this new form of art, so much so that even after two years, I am still looking for new classes, new designs and an opportunity to learn!

I remember the first time I baked a cake, it was over-baked, and hard and lacked this thing called “taste”. Same goes for the first cake that I iced and well “decorated”…. Duhhhhhh!!! Horribly sweet icing, unrecognizable pattern though I used a stencil to copy it and most of all-even I couldn’t tell if it was a circle or an oval shaped cake.

Well I got better at decorating out of my pure interest- And now I had this new issue: I was a soon-to-be pro at decorating but horrible at baking!


This time around though, I could not go to any school becasue of time and commitment issues. So I thought of giving it a try at home. And as Aristotle said “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” 

So I just practiced, not skipping a single opportunity to bake, treating every one around with my baked goodies on birthdays, holidays, Eid, Christmas parties, Easter, and what not, even without being asked for it.

Asim Jofa inspired cupcakes

Well, it worked. It worked a great deal to help sharpen and improve my skills. And two years later, I bake, and I get paid, and I get paid fairly good. Good because I can buy new decorating stuff, try new moulds, indulge in expensive brands for ingredients and so on… I bought a pantry exclusively for my caking stuff, but now one entire room is already spilling and I need more space…My teacher always says “When you become a cake decorator, you become a hoarder.” And I guess rightly so. 5 to 6 different tools to make one single petal of a flower. Visualize for a minute those multi-tiered cakes and fancy cupcakes and then imagine the tools and material required for each. 

Alice in Wonderland Cake and cupcakes
Baking and decorating for me is now more of a passion. When I am busy, am all drowned in flour, tinted in colors and I work straight 16 to 20 hours, sometimes even more. But end of the day, its the result, that custom designed cake, that gives me the sense of owner ship of each master-piece. Makes me high-it does!

Love it!


Candle vigil for Malala Yousafzai at Karachi Press club

12 Oct

Don’t wake us up!

11 Oct

Suddenly I see and hear every one talking about Malala Yousufzai.
As per Wikipedia, the dove-eyed Malala Yousafzai is a 14 year old girl, known for her civil right’s activism, especially in the field of women’s rights in the Swat Valley, where the Talibanregime has banned girls from attending school. She was Featured in NewsWeekPakistan’s 100 Women Who Matter in Apr 2012. This beacon of hope was shot in the head and neck on her way back from school on October 9 2012, by unidentified gunmen of Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan.
So is it about a girl being shot? Is it about a 14 year old activist being shot? Is it about someone being shot in Swat? Or is it about someone being shot by TTP?
With all my sympathies and prayers going out to the little girl with a mighty heart, I am yet to discover what all this razzmatazz is about. Of course I am not pointing out to the people who really are concerned for her well being, but come on. It isn’t unexpected. We all knew it was coming, one day or another. The question remains did we do anything to prevent this from happening? OR even more now that its done, has any measure been taken to stop it from happening again? Who should be held responsible- The gun (TTP) or the hands behind the gun (???)
But the story doesn’t actually start from here. It actually started way back, years back, or say ages back. Why go way too far. We still remember Rimsha Masih, a teenage girl who according to reports is suffering from Down’s syndrome and who was arrested by Pakistani police in August 2012 and who could face the death penalty for blasphemy for allegedly desecrating pages of the Quran (or a book containing verses from the Quran) by burning. To me, Hammad Malik and Imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti are also Taliban.
Or even closer are the 13 girls declared vani on Monday by a Jirga in Dera Bugti, Balochistan while settling a murder-related conflict between two tribes. Smells like Taliban doesn’t it? 
Laugh out loud… What kind of funny people are we?? For now we are busy making score every minute using the heinous act of attack on Malala. But it wont be long before we’ll forget Malala with the next crisis. Like all issues, it’ll lose the limelight, no lessons learnt! Nothing practical! We are sleeping-Please don’t disturb!!
Its not just Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan. Its basically a mindset in the name of religion; that actually is in contrast to the beautiful religion that we follow. That believes in beheading, killing and oppressing. That believes in forcing, looting, burning and detonating. Some are targeted because they want to learn, and educate themselves. Some because they are Shia or Sunni. Some because they refuse to cover their heads and some for not growing a beard. Some even because they refuse to follow, while some because they want to separate their paths. But majority of those targeted leave this world with only one question in mind: What was my fault? They are the victims of bomb blasts, target killings, blasphemy, drone attacks, vani, karo kari-and thus the one state of mind that rules this Mumlikat e Khudadaad today-The Talibaan state! Welcome to the Talibaan Pakistan!!
Just read this beautiful piece by Mohsin Naqvi. Happy reading!!
Koi sheher aisa basaon main
Meray bas main ho toa kabhi kahin
Koi sheher aisa basaon main
Jahan sach ko sach say ho waasta
Jahan jugnoo-on ko hawa dikhati ho raasta
Jahan chaand maand na ho kabhi
Jahan khusboo-on ko badalti rut se hasad na ho
Jahan khuwab aankhon main jagmagaain toa
Jism o jaan k sab he dareechon main tairgi ka guzar na ho
Koi raat aisi basar na ho
K basher ko apni khabar na ho
Jahan daagh daagh seher na ho
Jahan kashtiyan hon rawaan dawaan,
Toa samandaron main bhanwar na ho
Jahan barg o baar se ajnabi
Koi shaakh koi shajar na ho
Meray bas main ho toa kabhi kahin
Koi sheher aisa basaon main…

Living my life…..

12 Sep

As if being in Karachi wasn’t enough, add to it whole lot of food from around the world, bestest of company of people to remember every single moment and gallons of rain-That’s a special magical recipe one could use any time any where to brighten up any day or night.
PIA Boeing at Toronto Pearson International Terminal
I landed in Karachi after 5years 15 days 19 hours amidst scorching sun and humidity levels reaching 36degrees. Everyone before and during my 14 hours long, non stop flight kept trying to convince me that Pakistan specially Karachi is a mess, there is terrorism, there is street crimes, dirt, pollution, no electricity, unimaginable mehngai and what not…and that I am going to run back in maximum a month (Some even called it 10 days)….

Well the moment I landed at Quaid e Azam International Airport, Karachi, my heart skipped a beat. No literally it did! I looked outside the window and it felt like a scene out of the Johnny Depp starrer BLOW where he lands in Mexico for some drug trafficking.(Not that I matched his intentions in anyway:) I was confused-Let me say I wanted to feel at home being back in Karachi, however at the same time I wasn`t sure if I would. 

I got into the line at immigration looking at which I thought it would easily be another hour before I could finally get to the luggage belt. To my relief, I was offered an instant rescue by hiring a porter, who would push, pull, hurt, hit, drag, even slap any one to take me to the front of the row-just so he can get his money fast!!
Swiss Cheese & Mushroom burger at Hardees
Outside, the same sticky humid air hugged me, kissed me…..There is magic in this city…Or may be I only feel so because I have spent my life here….But I know a lot of people, in fact most people, who leave their birth place after ages and live happily ever after in one place or another…..For me, I could never pull myself out of the trance…..I’ve missed Karachi, every single day, that I lived away!
Shahrah e Faisal in rain
 My family told me that today was one of the hottest day after long. Ramadan has been cool and great but just today it was hot-May be it was mother nature’s way of giving me a jolt back to the reality. The moment I reached home, my cell phone started ringing….Yes my local Pakistani number…Thanks to my ever caring friends like Shakila, Sana, Anju, Aquil and my huge family who remembered I was in town now. My FB was also full of messages of those who didn’t have my number. Itni muhabbat aur kahan milegy??

The next day wasn’t any different. I’d planned (yes I really did) to go for some beauty routine-facial, mani and pedicure plus to buy some grocery stuff from the new local chains like Metro or Naheed and also to buy some trendy clothes from Zamzama for Eid.
Steak with Chardonnay sauce at Forty 4
 Not that I failed entirely. I managed to get a facial, reach the nearest Metro for some quick stroll across the aisles and finally picking up a little fight at the checkout counter and thats it. The heat wasn’t letting me move any single step more. So much for Zamzama or even Naheed’s!!

The whole day of Eid was spent confided in a room, with air conditioner and laptop. Thanks to KESC there was no load-shedding that day. The second day came. Barely eaten anything, I was still in the one Pakistani dress my sister got for me. That was the only one that would keep me cool. I waited for a friend to call as an escape-NO CALL!!

And then came the third day-Dressed in a 100% polyester chiffon dress, in full makeup, I landed at one of the Eid dawats at my uncles. By now, I was in full Pakistani swing.Garmi hay toa kia hua??

Today is my 26th day…Ahhhhh really?? My god….I am scared…Why is it passing so fast??? I have had a blast- From shopping at Bahadurabad for clothes to kachchay amrood, from Zahid’s Nihari to Forty 4, from Flamingo’s chaat to dhagay walay kebabs, from shopping in Hyperstar to Imtiaz, from endlessly and aimlessly driving just to stay out a little more, from Ahmer to Shakeela to Urooj to Prof. Moiz; from khala’s, phuphoo’s to tailors, from T20’s thrilling matches to the most beautiful rain in the world, I cant even count it all. The blessings are endless!! The joy is super! 
Crowd cheering in the Cricket stadium

To all those who warned me and still are warning that “Jub tumhari gaari gunpoint per snatch hogy toa pata chlega” (When your car will be snatched at gunpoint, you’ll know) or “Jub traffic main jaogy toa samajh aaega” (When you’ll go out in traffic you’ll know) or “Jub baarish k paani main gaari band hogy toa maza aaega” (When you’ll be stuck in the rain, you’ll enjoy then)-PLEASE STOP!!!
Karachi Beach

I have been driving in this crazy city with the craziest of drivers for about 2 weeks now. I am still fresh. I had a little diarrhea-I’m still energetic. I have been out thrice; I want to make it umpteen; I had been stuck in rain twice; I want more!

Nothing, absolutely nothing in the world can make me not like this city.This city gave me friends, family, education, knowledge, food, money, status, strength, confidence, charm, memories-simply myself!!

Karachi I am in love with you…all over again….

Happy birthday Pakistan….

13 Aug

I’m not just bombs, poverty & corruption….
I’m Edhi’s philanthropy; I’m Arfa Karim’s brilliance….
I’m Afridi’s exuberance. I’m Miandad’s sixer…
I’m fastest growing IT industry; I’m ever-expanding middle class….
I have fought dictatorships; I’m 40000 deaths for global peace….
I’m hospitality, I’m epitome of resilience…..
I’m one of the few bravest nation of world.
Yes, I’m Pakistan!