Monday, December 25, 2006


Sorry, Alex.
It was a bit late when I realized we shortchanged you on the Christmas tip.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Peter Brizzi is marvelous!

Watched an almost hour-long puppet show called ‘The Night before Chris Mouse.’ It is amazing how much talent can be stuffed in one person. The whole show was single-handedly run by Peter Brizzi, who can speak in a multitude of voices and can artfully manipulate his many puppets from behind the curtain. The performance was intended for children but everybody in the audience enjoyed it and had a great time. An excellent show!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Greater Good!

Greater good for all cannot be achieved by excluding some from the definition of "all."

[A thought in response to a person's argument that the Adivasis (tribals) must understand the greater good for all being achieved through Uranium mining in their area. Antinuclear activists from Jadugoda, Indian Uranium mining site and a tribal area, spoke at Stanford and other venues over the last weekend.]

See pictures at:

Monday, November 06, 2006

San Francisco Library’s Second Annual South Asian Writers Reading Event held at SF Public Library on Saturday, November 4

Roshni Rustomji-Kerns and another writer read their short stories. Rustomji’s story was titled “South going woman, north going woman.” Rhoda Sohrabji, the protagonist, grows up in the US, where she was transplanted from India when she was four; she now lives in Oaxaca where one day she gets involved with a network of people sympathetic to Oaxaca’s indigenous uprising; Rhoda gets to listen to stories of communal riots in India and ethnic strife in San Francisco. “South going woman, north going woman” appeared partly autobiographical--the only question being if Rustomji really took that dangerous ride in Oaxaca’s mountains to give safe company to a rebel. With the latest bout of political upheaval in Oaxaca—Mexico still struggling with its identity and notions of equality and justice, five centuries after the arrival of Conquistadores—Roshni Rustomji’s piece was timely and pertinent. It had humor sprinkled in good amount too. “If my kind of Indios aren’t allowed to rule Mexico, then your kind of Indios can rule Mexico.”

The other writer read English translation of his Urdu story. The translation was done by Moazzam Sheikh, widely known for his translation of Intizar Hussain and other Urdu writers’ work.

Most people in the audience were themselves writers, a self-supported community (members satisfying each other’s desire to be heard)—strong testimony to declining popularity of fiction writing as an art form. Why read or be read to when you can watch a movie?

(Picture shows Roshni Rustomji-Kerns and Moazzam Sheikh)
Need a ride to/from SFO?
has excellent information on BART to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Caltrain to BART, SamTrans buses, shuttles, and all.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sharing a planet and an epoch

It was a chance meeting. I ran into him more than a year after we met last. But that short meeting brought back fond memories.

Save for my parents few people have done as much for me as he has. And knowing his boundless benevolence I am sure I am not the only recipient of his kindness.

“In the vastness of space” wrote Carl Sagan, “and the immensity of time it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Annie.” The reference was to his wife Ann Druyan. How true! Look at the history and the millennia to come and then look at the countless stars and imagine their planetary systems and lives that might be. How easy it is to miss a kind person by a few hundred years, by a few solar systems!

It indeed is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with Safwan Shah.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Columbus Day entry from my notebook

USA celebrating five centuries of illegal immigration.
[One of the first batches of illegal immigrants landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.]

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Secure but hated is not well-secured.

(on 911's 5th anniversary)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Unbearable Heat
The temperature was in triple digits yesterday, and inside the house it was even hotter because the gas heater had its pilot on. So, whereas heater had been off the heat from the pilot was making our lives miserable. And in some ways it was hurting us financially too--our last gas bill being $60.12 for using 46.4 Therms.
When I came back last night the temperature inside the house was 88 F. Earlier I had tried to open the heater panel to switch off gas supply to the heater, but I could not figure out how to open it. Last night on coming back home I opened all doors and windows to bring the indoor temperature down. That late at night it was pleasant outside, the temperature must have been in the 60s. I thought about trying to open the gas heater panel one more time, but it was dark near the heater and I decided to give it a try during daytime. I just paced up and down the living room till the temperature dropped to 82 F; by then it was a little after midnight. Even with all the doors and windows open it was taking longer to cool the house because outside air was still and the heat from the heater was trapped near the ceilings.
I got up very early this morning; I had to talk to people on a conference call during their work hours (in Istanbul and Dublin). The thermostat indicated it was 72 F inside. After attending the conference call I went to the gas heater. The writing on its bottom panel instructed the operator to, "Press to open." I pressed the panel but it did not open. I fought with it until I pressed at the right spot (very bottom) and the panel swung open. I lay on the floor to see the controls inside. I could locate the shut off gas valve in the back. I reached back in the heater and turned the knob off, the pilot went off. I felt so relieved--a monstrous ugly monkey off my back.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

How to be productive while baby-sitting?
(Alternative titles:
How to efficiently use your baby-sitting time? Things to do during your baby-sitting hours. Efficient use of your baby-sitting time.)

This is how the morning started. I did a Google search on efficient use of baby-sitting hours. I baby-sit on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I am a firm believer in multitasking, that with computers and other automation it is possible for you to do more than a couple of things concurrently. But when I am baby-sitting I fall short of my parallel processing goals. I put a child gate at the door to my garage office and start working on the computer, but the children strongly disapprove. They start with loud protests and then go on to throw their toys in the office; if I still don't pay attention they tell me they need to go bathroom, right away--just about anything to disrupt my work. I have also tried taking a nap during my baby-sitting hours especially when the children are busy playing with each other. I thought I would refresh myself and when children would take their afternoon nap I would be full of energy to do my work. But that scheme did not work either. The children might have been playing with each other but as soon as they saw me reclining on sofa and closing my eyes, they smelled foul play. They rushed to me and told me that they too needed to take a nap, when actually it was not their nap time. One other thing I tried was to write my diary during my baby-sitting time. These days I mostly write on computer, but since working on computer while looking after the babies was not practical I thought I would discreetly use my diary to write my thoughts, and would later type the stuff on the computer. But discreetly writing diary while baby-sitting did not work either. The children realized I was up to something. They came close and discovered my diary and the pen; then they wanted to snatch the pen off my hand and tear off pages from the diary. I wonder if I should build myself a cage. I sit in the cage do my stuff and occasionally accord a glance to the children. I am afraid they would use their 'need to go the bathroom, right away' trick to get me out of the cage. Oh, I have also tried watching documentary films while looking after the babies thinking I would efficiently use my baby-sitting hours to gain knowledge and nurture my soul. But babies don't like documentaries, and when I tell them to play with each other they normally go but very soon there is a big fight; I have to get off the sofa and intervene. And the most important part of the documentary is aired right at that very instant.

But my baby-sitting ordeal has not gone completely unfruitful. I have finally discovered a prescription that works, although I am not too big a fan of it. It is retail therapy. Well, actually I don't buy anything I just take children to a large store and look at things with them.
So, this is where I was this morning: looking for new ideas to put baby-sitting time to good use. My search took me from one web site to another, and then I saw this:

"Where do I begin? I am 47 years old, a male with a lot of issues that I don’t seem to ever get any warning before they explode on me that serve to wreck my life and the lives of those around me. I had a lot of emotional issues as a youth........."

The narrative moved me. I wanted to write a response, but the web site didn't let me post a comment. Here is what I wanted to say:

You have come to the right place. Write more, pour your heart out. It would heal you and would ultimately set you free from your demons. Being suicidal is stupid. Life has to end one day; why end it sooner? Learn to look at your life from a distance, as if all that has been happening with you is actually someone else's experience; as if you are reading your past in a book. Keep going through life one day at a time. Make little doable goals for every day and get those things done. And remember that you are not the only owner of your life, the rest of the world, all 6 billion of us, are connected to you in one way or another.

Friday, May 19, 2006


It rained today. I was on my baby sitting duty. In the evening when the children were busy watching TV I remembered 1992. I was about to leave on a long trip. One Sunday evening I was headed to my office when I stopped to fill gas in my car. Going to office Sunday evening was my routine remedy to fight the Sunday blues. It is like taking head-on what you are actually dreading. I put the nozzle in the gas tank and while waiting for the fill thought about the places the upcoming trip would take me to. I thought of very tall, old, kind, shade trees. I thought of wild animals. These most probably were the images from my childhood storybooks. But no matter what the origin of these thoughts was, the imagery made me elated. Few months later I took off. I went from one country to another for a duration of eight months, till I was out of money. That backpacking trip set me up for life. I made friends of all kinds of people and saw life in its thousand hues. I learned the frivolity of our existence and found the tools to keep life interesting. I mastered the art of subsisting on little, and learned to revel in abundance when it is chanced upon you.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Karachi Doctors and Quacks

Karachi is full of quacks. They include people who apparently have medical degrees, but still end up hurting people more often than healing them. A good friend of mine, who wants to remain anonymous, has compiled a list of doctors who have good reputation (information collected through first-hand accounts). Here is the list. [Very shortly I will also put here the list of doctors you should avoid, along with their sordid tales (once again, knowledge gained from first-hand accounts.)] So, here are the good ones, along with their fields of specialization.

List of Consultants
May 04, 2005
SN Name Of Doctor Clinic Address / Phone No. Remarks
01 Anesthesia
Dr. Wajahat Malik at Anklesaria Hospital
Dr. Sadeea Hayder at Civil Hospital

02 Cardiac
Dr. Khan Shah Zaman at Medicare
Dr. Asad Pathan at OMI Hospital
AKUH (Agha Khan Hospital)

03 Children
Dr. Aysha Mehnaz at Civil Hospital
Midtown, Bahadurabad
Dr. Habiba Hasan at Medicare
Dr. Zeenat Esani at Mehran Clinic

04 Dental
Dr. Rafeel at Seven Day Hospital

05 Diabetes
Dr. Tahir Hussain at Remedial Center

06 Dietitian & Nutritionist
at Seven Day Hospital

07 ENT
Dr. Umer Farooq at Anklesaria Hospital
Faiz-e-Aam Hospital
Dr. Aleem Kadir at Jinnah Hospital
Private Clinic, Garden, Above Café Mubarak
Dr. Abbas Zafar at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital
OMI Hospital

08 Eye
Dr. Misbah Aziz at Hashmani Hospital
Dr. Kashir Haider at Hashmani Hospital
Dr. Muneer Qureshi at Taj Medical Complex

09 Gynecology
Dr. Nighat Shah at Murshid Hospital
Dr. Yasmin Wejahat at Star Hospital
Dr. Shareef Bhutta
Dr. Aziz Kapadia

10 GIT
Dr. Hamid Manzoor at Qatar Hospital
Dr. Waseem Jafri at AKUH
Dr. Zaighum Abbas at AKUH

11 Hematologist & Oncologist
Dr. Tahir Shamsi
Dr. Zafar Hashmi at Liaquat National Hospital
Dr. Narjis Muzafar at Ziauddin Hospital

12 Medical (Internal Medicine)
Dr. Tahir at Remedial Hospital
Dr. Rauf Memon at Faiz-e-Aam Hospital
Dr. Shaheen Bhatti at Civil Hospital
Mamji Hospital
Remedial Hospital
Dr. Hamid Manzoor at Qatar Hospital

13 Neuro Surgery
Dr. Junaid Ashraf at Civil Hospital
Liaquat National Hospital

14 Neurology
Dr. Sarwar Siddiqui at Civil Hospital
Rehman Plaza Hospital (near OMI)
Dr. Shiraz Hyder at National Hospital, Defence

15 Orthopedics
Dr. A.R. Jamali at Jinnah Hospital
Faiz-e-Aam Hospital
Dr. Zaki Idrees at Liaquat National Hospital

16 Pain Management
Dr. Shakil Baig at Mehran Clinic

17 Phulmonary / Chest
Dr. Nadeem Rizvi at Jinnah Hospital
Medicare For Adult & Children

18 Physiotherapy
at Seven Day Hospital

19 Plastic Surgery
Dr. Tahir Sheikh at Anklesaria Hospital
Dr. Atia Hussain at Taj Medical Complex

20 Psychiatric
Dr. Shifa Naeem at AKUH
Dr. Amin Gadit

21 Psychologist
at Institute of Clinical Psychology, Gulistan-e-Johar

22 Radiology
Dr. Anees at National X-Ray

23 Peeds Surgen
Dr. Mohsin Azher Ali at OMI Hospital
Dr. Shahab Akhtar at Garden Medical Center

24 Skin
Dr. Zarnaz at Civil Hospital
Mehran Clinic
Dr. Badar Dhanai at Regal / Rimpa Plaza
Dr. Hamid Zaki at Ankle Seria Hospital
Faiz-e-Aam Hospital

25 Surgical
Dr. Saeed Qureshi at Anklesaria Hospital
Dr. Badar Siddiqi at Anklesaria Hospital
Dr. Nahid Sultan at Taj Medical Complex

26 Ultrasound
Dr. Tanveer Zubari at Haroon Chamber
Dr. Shahida Zaidi at Private Clinic, Kashmir Road

27 Urology
Dr. Aziz Abdullah at Seven Day Hospital
Dr. Altaf Hashmi at Burhani Hospital

28 Vascular Surgery
Dr. Khalid Mukhdomi at Liaquat National Hospital

List of Renowned Hospitals
SN Name Of Hospital Address Remarks
01 Agha Khan Hospital Stadium Road
02 Liaquat National Hospital Stadium Road
03 Seven Day Hospital M. A. Jinnah Road
04 Chinniot Hospital Korangi

Friday, March 24, 2006

World Social Forum 2006 Karachi kicks off with gusto

Heartwarming speeches and a palpable spirit of solidarity between delegates from all continents helped World Social Forum Karachi commence with vigor. Over three thousand people attended the program. Many local labor and farmers’ parties had their representation in the KMC Sports Complex stadium where the first session of the six-day program took place.

Pictures are here:
A short video is here:


PS. There is a big contingent from India--so glad to see them here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thinking of living off the land? Read this: