East|Love|West

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Chapter 1:

It’s 1976. A handsome Pakistani Punjabi gentleman falls in love with a most stunningly beautiful Bengali girl. So deep is the pull of love that he, endangering his life, relentlessly pursues against all odds, breaking all norms, the heart’s desire of a union, all the way to Bangladesh. All eyes are fixated on him; he is considered an infidel, the son of tormentors. The blood gushing through his veins are West Pakistan, his loyal grass roots, the nation of the ‘Butcher of Bengal’. He cannot be trusted. The Bangladeshi intelligence monitors his every move, but remarkably allows him to set foot on their soil in pursuit of love.

In Dhaka, the flesh wounds from the 1971 Pakistan-Bangladesh liberation war are still raw. Families are still grieving from the death, destruction and carnage caused by West Pakistan army. The youths of East Pakistan were mercilessly executed, the women were brutally raped, and the men were sentenced to tortuously indescribable deaths. Recovery from remnants of any war is soul shattering, but recovery from a war waged by your very own people is shockingly beyond belief. The sentiments towards Pakistan are remarkably ambivalent, happy to be separated, but also a dull ache of sadness in severing the blood vessels, somewhat like the aftermath of separating conjoined twins.

Within this icy cold environment, the Pakistani gentleman unnervingly handles fluctuating emotions, navigates through the endless questions, and constantly proves his enduring love, his rock solid commitment to the family of his beloved. How can they trust this man, the son of a Punjabi soldier? Their memories remain vivid, of Punjabi soldiers tearing through their front door, searching for their daughters to use as subjects of carnal terrorism. God saved them that day. Their daughters were hiding in a neighbour’s house which escaped the carnal rampage. That day sealed the fate of this Pakistani gentleman, who walked through the very same door 6 years later, not with the intention of terrorising, but requesting permission to marry their beloved, most precious, youngest daughter.

The pot-pourri of emotions burning through this family was nerve wrecking – this Punjabi man was standing between their patriotism and the endless love for their precious daughter. These violent fluctuating emotions caused havoc for days to come within the family; they lay divided on their stance. How can they betray their nation by allowing a Pakistani, that too a Punjabi man to integrate into their family, their bloodlines forever intertwined for generations, on the other hand, could they destruct the life of their precious daughter by leaving her love unrequited? Could they accept this man, love him, respect him, look beyond his roots, not penalise his heart for the actions of his nation..

They eventually resigned to the love story, succumbing to their daughters destiny. They accepted him. They found it in their hearts to bury the resentment, bring to surface that dull sad ache of separation and transform it into acceptance. They showered him with love, respect and attention. They gave him her hand with an open heart.  All for the happiness of their beloved daughter. A Bengali beauty, she unknowingly weaved together the bloodlines of Pakistan and Bangladesh…

© as|fa 2016

Happy|New|Year

HappyNewYear2016

I had imagined I would start a New Year Blog reflecting on the predecessor year and anticipating the outlook for the year upon us, but clearly it didn’t go according to plan for 2016! Even though I’m almost two months late, I figured that since I like going back and reading through my notes, it’s better to pen the Blog than not!

From a year in review perspective, 2015 challenged me (and I mean this in a positive way) post to pillar from a career front.  My plans literally fell on my lap. Actually, it seems like an easy journey, but trust me, at the time, my levels of anxiousness were uncomfortable. If I had to derive learning from it, I would say that when embarking on a challenging journey it always seems overwhelming and somewhat unachievable, but that feeling is only momentary, because once you jump in, you must swim. And we all swim. We have to. Quitting is not an option, especially for me as I like to follow my commitments through to the very end.

2015 was interesting year at the home front. Sporting commitments took over most of our weekends, ranging from Tennis, Soccer, Cricket, Basketball, Netball, Swimming and Futsal and additional physical activities for hubby and I. Sports seems to form a big part of our lives, which I really appreciate. I find it’s beneficial for the kids to play a variety of sports, it good for their physical & mental well-being as well as giving them energetic choices of social activity for the rest of their lives..

Apart from sports enthusiasm, we hosted plenty of get-together at home for family & friends. I’ve lost count! Hubby’s cooking never fails to draw a crowd. He has creatively cooked up some exceptional delicacies. To say that I’m lucky is probably an understatement. Feel free to be envious 😉

Having a good circle of friends with whom you deeply connect is important, not only for the adults, the kids too. 2015 has reaffirmed that time is of the essence; to spend it on superficial friendships is neither meaningful nor logical. Connect with the friends that share your values, have similar interests and future outlook as your family.

The reason I say this is that our kids are watching our every move, our every social interaction; they are observing our behaviours towards others and our reactions over incidents and circumstances. As we are raising the next generation of humankind, it is our social and moral obligation to inspire these inquisitive little sponges in absorbing good ethical values. So the learning here folks is – choose your friends wisely 😉

On a side note, Netflix came into our lives in 2015 and since then, numerous TV Shows have been devoured, which conveniently will be discussed in a future Blog!

There are no specific plans for 2016, but I am anticipating more reading, and significantly more writing, the definitely aiming for weekend walking to continue as its progressed exceptionally well. There are a couple of big family milestone dates this year and it would be wonderful to plan a family getaway before the end of 2016 to celebrate.

So here we are, waved goodbye to 2015, year of the Sheep and hello 2016, year of the Monkey.

Wishing you all, pleasant reflective thoughts for the year passed.

All the best for 2016. Don’t let any mischievous Monkeys waver your plans!

© as|fa 2016

F|Word

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Happy 2016!

Yes I have been gone for a while. Life (and Netflix) has kept me pre-occupied until now, that I am compelled to voice my opinion – though most would argue that I don’t need much compelling as my personality is opinionated. But what the Fudge, there is nothing wrong with being opinionated.

This issue has been nagging at me for over a week. It’s not just a personal issue; it’s a major societal issue, a burning organisational issue, a man issue, a woman issue, a human kind issue -which needs urgent attention.

It’s a male dominated industry I’ve been working in ever since the start of my career – Technology. The gender balance is skewed heavily in favour of men.  At face value there seems to be no issue, men & women collaborate towards organisations strategic targets, achieve success in their collective projects, all as one big happy team, but under the surface there is an infestation of subtle discrimination, gender biases, and sexual innuendos.

The biggest concern for me is not that these issues exist, but, the fact that women brush it under the carpet and laugh it off. Why? I can’t comprehend the reasons. Women should not be impressed at being showered with compliments from male colleagues – would those male colleagues compliment another bloke on their outfit, colour of lipstick or hair. No. Then why treat women different? We are hired for our capabilities and skills and that is how we should be perceived. I find it offensive when my male colleagues go out of their way to remind me of my femininity, regardless of good intentions. I am not at work as a feminine; I am at work as a capable and skilful professional. Treat me as such. With Respect.

The workplace needs to be gender neutral, de-sexualised. How will women be taken seriously for senior leadership positions when they are considered as sexual objects?

There is a threat to achieving the gender equity commitment that most organisations have embarked upon (50% gender equity ratio in leadership positions), if men continue to harbour unconscious biases. On the surface they may be OK to see women being promoted all around them to achieve gender equity objective, but are they really OK? What is being done to help males understand the rationale & science behind why gender equity is important? They need to be taken on the journey, or else there is a risk this becomes a statistical exercise causing resentment which inadvertently snowballs out of control.

This mindset, possibly unconscious bias, needs to change in men and organisations have an obligation to effectively implement this change. Men and Women need to take equal responsibility to neutralise these biases and appreciate our contributions & determination in the workplace – minus the biases, once and for all.

© as|fa 2016