Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

This is a cross posting from Blog Sustainistani:  A peek into Karachi


Story of my love affair with Pakistan & India !

#HigherThanTheStars #DeeperThanTheOceans.
#Handicrafts #Handlooms #Colors #Mirrors #NeedleWork
#BeatItIfYouCan !


My original post:

Credits: Origins for pics:

Pakistan from Generation.

India from Craftsvilla.



IndoPak Peace.jpg

NOTE: This Resolution has 1000 endorsements obtained on a personal basis, listed alphabetically at this link. It is now online as part of the Peace Now and Forever Campaign Between India and Pakistan.

In the 70 years since independence and Partition, the people of India and Pakistan have seen too many conflicts and the loss of many valuable lives. Enough of the distrust and tensions. Those who suffer particularly are ordinary people denied visas and those in the conflict zones, especially women and children as well as fishermen who get routinely rounded up and arrested for violating the maritime boundary.

We condemn all forms of violence regardless of its objectives.

Deeply concerned at the current rise in animosity and antagonism between India and Pakistan, we urge both governments and their security establishments to take all steps possible towards improving relations.

We note that whenever it seems that relations might improve, some form of disruption takes place ranging from jingoistic statements to militant attacks. The traditional response to such disruptions only strengthens those who want continued tensions between our two countries.

We, citizens of India and Pakistan, and concerned citizens around the world, move this joint resolution towards a peaceful subcontinent and make the following demands to the governments of India and Pakistan, urging them to:

  1. Develop an institutionalised framework to ensure that continuous and uninterrupted talks between India and Pakistan take place regularly no matter what. Make dialogue uninterrupted and uninterruptible.
  2. Ensure that political leaders, diplomats and civil servants from both countries conduct talks on the sidelines of all international and multilateral forums.
  3. Recognise that the Kashmir dispute above all concerns the lives and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, and work to resolve it through uninterrupted dialogue between all parties concerned.
  4. Implement the 2003 ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan.
  5. Renounce all forms of proxy wars, state-sponsored terrorism, human rights violations, cross-border terrorism, and subversive activities against each other, including through non-state actors or support of separatist movements in each other’s state.
  6. Support and encourage all forms of people-to-people contact, and remove visa restrictions and discrimination faced by citizens of both countries. This must be further taken forward to allow visa-free travel between India and Pakistan.
  7. Increase trade and economic linkages, sports and cultural exchanges between India and Pakistan.

Further, we pledge to uphold the principles of impartial reporting and urge media houses on either side to prevent the growing militarisation of debate. We must act responsibly and stop broadcasting hate speech and creating public hysteria aimed at the other country and/or vulnerable communities.

UPDATE: This resolution is endorsed by over 1000 prominent peacemongers in India, Pakistan and around the world – singers, actors, artists, writers, journalists, retired armed forces personnel, parliamentarians, filmmakers, lawyers, historians, physicians, businesspeople, economists, students and rights workers. They include Gulzar, Noam Chomsky, Shubha Mudgal, Aruna Roy, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Asma Jahangir, Mubarak Ali, Romila Thapar, Ayesha Jalal, Admiral L. Ramdas, General Talat Masood, General Mahmud Durrani, Jean Dreze, Nayantara Sahgal, Mahesh Bhat, Nandita Das, Naseeruddin Shah, Salima Hashmi and Amin Hashwani to name a few. See some of the names in the list online, alphabetically ordered. This resolution is also endorsed by the Sarhad song of Aisi Taisi Democracy.

Hundreds of organisations in India, Pakistan and other countries partnering for The Peace Now Campaign are also obtaining endorsements for this resolution through a signature campaign. Scores of programmes in different cities and towns are providing platforms to people of both countries to assert their desire to resolve all issues amicably and reclaim an atmosphere of peace for the sub-continent.

NOTE: Endorsements collected online and on the ground until 15 August 2017 will be delivered to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan by the end of August 2017.

This petition will be delivered to:

  • India, Pakistan
    Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan

Kindly sign the petition here>>>

Read the letter

Beena Sarwar started this petition with a single signature.


Thanks for adding your voice – let’s make this go viral

  1. Thank you for signing this resolution, already endorsed by over 1000 “peacemongers” in India, Pakistan and around the world – singers, actors, artists, writers… 

Ever imagined what happens when your name gets synonymous with a culinary dish that you are expected to make in every potluck?
Yes. In. Every. Single. Potluck. Period.

And anytime you offer for a friends party, “Shall I get something from my side?”
The obvious response is, “Yes dahi-baras if you can.”

The compliments of ‘perfection’ that flow are quite elating, and a fairly good boost to one’s self esteem.
Let me admit, it’s been decades since my last dahi-baras went wrong. I have figured out some short cuts too, and so it isn’t very time consuming & labour intensive either.

However, it has become pretty uninteresting to follow the same steps each time- soak dals overnight, grind them and make a batter, then heat oil and fry round lentil dumplings, soak them in water……etc etc like a robot. I know now how experts just learn to do repetitive tasks at a spinal level, letting brain take the back seat.
Summing up in two words: it’s become a monotonous rut.


Hence time and again pops up the urge to take dahi baras to the next level.

Making dahi-gujiyas is very interesting, yet a painstaking procedure.
Using a lentil paste of a doughy consistencey and spreading it on a plastic sheet and filling with raisins, nuts and herbs. Then carefully frying them. Rest of the process is the same.


However the itch to innovate dahi-baras to a yet newer level remained.

The idea to fuse waffles with dahi-baras came as a flash today, and just to check I am not being bizarre, I tested the idea with my son, who was busy watching a baseball match. Without much reaction, he responded almost automatically, “Yes, why not?”

So came the inception of Dahi bara waffles.

The batter is exactly the same, made from urad and moong lentils. The consistency also remains as thick as for the fried dumplings.

Still skeptical I poured the batter in waffle maker and let it cook till light brown.


The waffle was then soaked in water for 5 minutes and extra water squeezed out.


The waffle-bara was drizzled then with thick yogurt, chat masala, tamarind sauce and mint chutney.


The sponge and consistency was amazing, and the taste was delicious.


The taste was the same as a usual dahi baras, but experience of eating it as a waffle topped with yogurt & chutneys was very different.

I can envision this as a great hit in parties with individually served waffle-baras where people can add yoghurt, spices and sauces as per their taste. It can also be consumed as a crispy waffle with chutney by those who don\t fancy yogurt.

Now thinking where next to take the dahi bara journey to?
Suggestions & ideas are welcome. ❤

Down the Memory Lane

Once upon a time, when we lived in Srinagar, Kashmir, no sooner than I turned five, a formal Bismillah was held. I remember clearly Ammi stitched an orange satin Sharara from scratch and embellished it with gota for me.
An elaborate yet home based dawat(dinner), was held in which a few family friends were invited.
From the next day I was taken every day by Papa to a family friend, Hashmi Uncle’s house with a beginners Qaeda and the dupatta (from the sharara set) folded in a bag together. Hashmi Uncle’s aunt who was called Phuphijan gave sabaq(lessons) to me and Rana.

Rana was from the same household as Phupijan. The idea of going to their house to read Qaeda was more fun than learning. I distinctly remember Phupijan never beat us or shout at us, though she was strict at times. She did not let us girls giggle while reading our lessons.
In about an year, or so I finished the Qaeda, and there was a celebration(graduation) for it. Phupijan invited my parents to their home, prepared some dessert, and presented us girls with batwas (pouches) filled with candied saunf, nuts and misri (sugar crystals). The batwa was stitched by Phupijan herself during the months we were reading Qaeda with her. Incidentally I also remember thinking that she gave the more decorated batwa to me than to Rana. I have yet to see a more intricately stitched batwa which had strings and even a partition within the space.
I graduated to the 30th Sipara as the stepping stone for Quran.
In a few months Hashmi Family left Srinagar. So I was passed on to Mubarak Auntie. After a while they left the place too and we also came to Delhi.

In Delhi too, Ammi arranged an Ustani Saheba who taught Quran to girls in different homes as a means of livelihood. Ammi asked her permission if she would teach my 10 year old twin brothers too. She kindly obliged. In some years, we completed the 30 Siparas.
Again an elaborate Ameen was held at home. Close family and friends were called. Ustani Saheba was also invited and she was given a special jora(dress) and cash.
She brought for me a book of prayers as a present and instructed, “Keep practicing your fluency (qirat).”
Ammi kept in touch with Ustani Saheba as she visited us a few times after that.

A decade later Ustani Sahiba was invited in my wedding too. She came with a Quran contained in a decorated Juzdaan (special bag) which she had hand-stitched and decorated with gotta. She said she began working on it as soon as she heard I was getting married. Again the instructions from the gentle lady were, “Keep reading this to maintain your fluency.”

(I had almost forgotten the whole experience until a day ago it was reminded by a discussion on Qaris teaching Quran these days. Although there is much stress about religious preaching these days, but the personal & cultural touch to it has gone missing).
P.S. Below are the examples of Batwa and Juzdan quite close to that I was given.

Batwa: a pouch to keep candy, nuts etc.Batwa2

Juzdan: A decorated cloth case for keeping QuranJuzdan


Sufism talks of losing the ‘self’ to attain the love of God. Here in an unusual Hindi sufi poetry the poet Achal Ram, a Kabir bhakt,  describes in simple yet delightful verses how by losing one’s self, he sees the reflection of God within himself and then falls in love with that self.
Mukhtiyar Ali, a renowned Kabir singer adds ecstasy to the soulful  words through his rendition. Translation in the subtitles by Kabir Project does remarkable justice to the original verses.

Dekha apne aap ko, mera dil deewana ho gaya,
Na chhero yaron mujhe, main khud mastana ho gaya.
I saw my own self and fell in love with it,
Don’t mess with me friends, I am in ecstasy of self.

Lakhon suraj, chandrama, qurban per hain mere husn per,
Adbudh chhavi ko dekh ke, kehne se main sharma gaya.
Countless suns and moons bow down to my beauty
Seeing my spectacular silhoutte, I am speechless and blush.

Ab khudi se baaher hain, ishq kafni pehen ker,
Sab rang chola rangaa, deedar apna ho gaya.
I am free of self-obsession after being draped in love shroud,
Sporting a dress dyed in all colors, I have come face to face with myself.

Ab deekhta koi nahin, duniya me hi merey siwa,
Doori ka parda hata, saara bharam pighla gaya.
Now I behold no one in the whole world but my own self
The veil of separation is lifted, all delusions have vanished away.

Achal Ram ab khud ba khud, hai mehboob mujh se na-juda
Nij noor mein bharpoor ho, apne mein aap samaa gaya.
Achal Ram now by itself, the beloved and I are inseparable
Suffused with self radiance, I have merged within myself.

“A woman cannot use contraception without the husband’s permission.”

I wish men ever got pregnant and had to raise children the way mothers do to realize what a travesty of injustice this clause by CII, Pakistan is. It should be the other way round….men must have the permission from women for not using contraception.

I am glad that contraception is not an issue here like in Catholicism, but if Allah (SWT) allows it, I am sure Almighty has granted this right to  women knowing they are the ones who bear the children in their wombs and raise them.  Making husbands be the police over contraception is injustice and no where in any Quranic/Hadith texts can this be found. This is simply a patriarchal attempt by  opportunistic men to control women.

Having worked in a conservative community in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in the field of ObGyn/Family Medicine for 14 years, I know exactly what this means.

I narrate one incident which I clearly remember the details of.

A 40/41 year old woman with 5 children, eldest in his late teens came to me asking for contraception. After discussion on pros & cons, she decided to choose a pill that was appropriate for her age.
Half an hour later, her husband, in early 60s banged the clinic door open and showed me the medication in his hand asking: “What is this?”
I told him “This is a medication for women.”
Him: “Is this contraceptive?”
Me: “Yes.”
He threw it in my dustbin and warned me that if I prescribed a contraceptive again, he will complain against me.
He closed my door back and I was later told that he dragged his wife to the car pulling her by her head scarf.

An year and a half later, the woman had a new baby.

Three years after the child was born this man suddenly died of brain hemorrhage at 67.
The lady was left with 6 children, 2 of them not even in their teens. And she was the second of the three wives he had left behind.
I saw her all the years, until I left the job, and I know in how much misery this woman in her mid to late forties was going through raising children as a widow on 1500 Saudi Riyals stipend as a widow.
(BTW this is one of several stories I personally encountered).

It is easy for men to dictate not to use contraception but it is extremely hard for women to raise children when men take decisions but do not follow through with responsibilities arising out of it.

Decision to bear children and their number must ideally be a joint responsibility. The woman must have a voice in that decision making instead of being forced upon her.