Sunday, January 30, 2011

Of architecture and jobs

The lack of architectural jobs, especially of ones own choice is a great matter of concern during recession. This was my experience while staying in Pakistan. I had been offered positions by two major institutes, owned by two experienced and might I mention ‘old’ architects who later backed out on their words. Here I will mention my interest which is research, documentation and on-field experience about local construction technologies.

The two institutes (for now I will not mention their names) are not just any organizations, they are prestigious ones, with their names on the international boards and donor groups. It was a disappointing experience for me, not only because I had respect for the two architects, but also because I respected the offices they run.

However, after my experience, I decided to delve into journalism and write on any topic under the moon, including urban and rural issues and architectural practices at Daily Times. During my work at the Daily Times I came across those two architects countless of times, and later on was even approached by them to cover their events to spread out their message. Where I found it was workable, I did. Where I thought it is only a gimmick to attract more donors, I did not.

Although, I try to retain my respect, I think there is a definitive need among the young architects of Pakistan to evolve for themselves a platform. It should be a place, where they can bring out their grievances against the old ones, and file complaints if any of their rights have been abused. This will give the new and upcoming architects more freedom to voice their concerns. Also, firms and organisations that have repeatedly violated the rights of any of the architects should be black listed, so the new ones know who they are dealing with.

Moreover, I feel there is a need for some major reforms in the curriculum at Art and Architecture schools. Students should not just be taught how to slog for the old ones (which may be difficult, cause most old sharks teach as well), but also be trained in case they want to venture out on their own. I remember during my student years, instead of being encouraged to be confident about my own work and choosing my own style, I was berated for challenging the norms. I felt architectural studies were too tyrannical. Instead of positive input, most input was negative especially about young students who tried to make on their own. Whether those loners succeeded or failed was a different thing. The old sharks probably did their utmost to bring ‘em down... or at least keep 'em under the heels....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Evolving Conspiracies & Theories

Jews are actually Muslims: Biggest conspiracy theory of our times

People love conspiracy theories and Pakistani Muslims more so. According to many Islamic websites, that want to reason everything by saying it was the Jews, the .22% of the world’s population is capable of inflicting more terror on the Muslims than the Muslims themselves. The theories range from them (the West, Israel, Jews, US of A) owning most of the big corporations and research institutes, that are capable of not only manipulating Muslims economically, but biologically as well.

I wonder if it is because of the Quran that says, they (the Jews) are conspiring against Muslims. The most outrageous so far has been from a married Lahori lady, who said Israel has devised certain rays that are transmitted from a television set to make people indulge more into sexual activities. She used this excuse to not only explain her having four babies but also the ‘bay rah ravi’ prevalent in Pakistani society, which was never the case before, mind it. However, since I am into developing conspiracy theories as well now, I think it is because the Jews are actually rich Muslims in disguise.

It is their plan to make Muslims produce more and more babies, hence the chemtrail and television rays to increase their libido and make them breed like rabbits. Also, propagating the negative side of Islam is one of their conspiracies, since hundreds of people (according to the Muslims) are converting to Islam. Why I said that? Due to the negativity in the media Muslims appear as the under dogs and thus to the minds of the biologically as well as psychologically mutilated, Islam starts appearing as one of the best religions on planet Earth.

This further proves the Jews are actually Muslims, because despite knowing that the ignorant are turning more towards Islam because of their shenanigans, they continue their aggression. They know people will become more and more ignorant about being manipulated if they believe in the ‘man in the sky’. Thus, they can use them as slaves and make them do the dance of labour versus consumerism.

However, what most people fail to understand is, this is just about using religious ignorance. Since, the more people turn towards religion, the more power they give to the instigators and aggressors to use them. Yes, this is my conspiracy theory.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Well well, what matters it! believe that too

And do you think that unto such as you

a maggot-minded, starved fanatic crew

God gave the secret and denied it me

Well well, what matters it! believe that too

(Umer Khayyam by Robert M)

A while ago I read an article about our habit of terming suicide bombers and extremist mentally ill. The article said it is not a mental illness because putting it under this term limits our treatment options, and actually also makes us sympathetic to some extent. The writer was talking about the Palestinian children who grew up watching jihad propaganda and all. In case of Pakistan, kids grew up listening to justifications for killing women in the name of honour or anybody else in the name of religion. The law itself provides for such crimes to be committed with minimum penalties and sentences.

The Pakistan Penal Code in this regard covers Qatl-i-amd (Culpable Homicide, which varies geographically) Sections 302, 324, 337 and 338, which accommodate killers who commit the crime in the name of honour. It is defined as: “{offence committed in the name or on the pretext of honour} means an offence committed in the name or on the pretext of karo kari, siyah kari or similar other customs or practices.” The punishment for such people is minimum five years, which gives a lot of leeway for offenders in getting away by terming almost any murder an honour killing. Hence, the justifications and support this act receives is also large.

With such provisions in the law, one must not wonder if the collective psyche of the nation instead of condemning such acts actually condones them. Women have been the most targeted under these laws, for reasons starting with the man wanting to take another wife and not being able to afford two at a time, to property matters where a brother kills his sister or sisters/mother to be the sole benefactor.

The recent case for Veena Malik, a Pakistani actor, is clearly testament to the misogynist psyche where women are not only considered as a property, but also their body a ‘safe’ for the ‘honour’ of the entire country. The medias’ role in this scenario instead of being open minded and supportive has been hypocritical and extremely biased. Especially the right wing media groups like Jang, Geo, and most prominently Express 24/7. Instead of forwarding support, the whole episode has been given a religious colour, which of course is one of the best ways to instigate a reaction.

These issues need to be addressed on a serious note, especially by the secular media. Instead of keeping the messages subtle and ambiguous, due to religious and social restraints, the message should be clear and in your face. The secular media as well as civic society and other secular and liberal groups should take a stand for the lady and stand by her. Not wait for her to be a target like Salman Taseer, this time for something as petty as the choice of clothes and a few stolen hugs with a guy.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hemline of 'ghairat'

The media charade over Veena Malik’s participation in the Indian show Bigboss has been going on for weeks. But yesterday it reached its ultimate heights when she confronted a Maulana on live television and asked him the questions every woman of this region wants to ask the male dominated religio-fanatic society. It seems no matter how advanced we get, the ‘ghairatmeters’ are still stuck on how women behave or not behave here.

One almost wants to cry when the only thing that seems to ruffle the calm of this otherwise dead general public is the hemline of a girls dress. How easily the sensibilities of the religious get offended by the Veena Maliks or the Sania Mirzas who dare to take a step for their emancipation. Who challenge the set norms for women and break the bounds which define the fragile ego and ‘ghairat’ of the men in sub-continent. Or rather I must say the so called ego and ‘ghairat’ of the religious bigots who are slaves to their tribal mentality.

Why are these humane people not shocked by the suicide bombs? Why do they not come out on the roads and demonstrate against the religious seminaries where they not only molest children, but also train them to kill others? Why do the Maulvies not become so vociferous when talking to another Maulvi and accuse him of sodomizing a child? But how can they do that? The hands of their ‘ghairatmeter’ are tangled in the bra strap of a girl and their eyes are glued to the hemline of Veena Malik’s skirt.

Everything else, including the sodomized, crying children, are nothing compared to a hug given by a ‘Musalmaan Larki’ to another guy. The children of the nation can go and blow themselves up one by one to be with hot virgins in the surreal ‘Jannat’ but in realtime, women cannot be hot.

They can let their children die and get molested by nasty bearded men belonging to the religion of so-called peace, but lo and behold, the garb of a woman should be modest. Why modest, because if they don’t dress modestly, they will lead the pious men away from the true path. But I want to know, what is the true path and who are the pious men? The only true path according to Muslims, leads them to a place of booze and women. And the pious men dream of being with 72 virgins in a place where booze is free and limitless. So why be such hypocrites in this life?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Mosque business

Currently the USA is not just reaping what it sow in Afghanistan, but also facing the same extremism over the issue of the Park 51 Muslim community centre project.

And although strategically it may be a wonderful idea to promote Sufism as opposed to the Salafis, there still are countless aspects that need to be kept in mind within Sufism, including the various orders, which can either be classified as Sunni or Shi'a. Moreover, remembering the rivalry between the Barelvis and Deobandis/Wahabis is important, while keeping in mind the violent aspect of Sufism.

The USA is without anticipating the repercussions putting two opposing Islamic schools of thought at loggerheads. Whether it is out of nobility or a genuine desire to promote peace between the Muslims and all other religions and ideologies, the proposal to patronize a Muslim cultural center would bring the same problems to the US that Pakistan is already facing.

For many the Muslim community center has been so blown out of proportion, it seems people have nothing better to do but to either support or oppose it. However, it is not as simple as that. It appears that this project has quite understandably exposed the extremist streak in the country.

Having evolved in a highly charged religious and sectarian environment almost every sect in Pakistan owns a political or militant wing to counter a rival sect.

And although the most famous are the Salafis and Deobandis for their militancy, the Shias and the Barelvis are not far behind in countering persecution any more. The only difference between all the political and militant wings of these religious sects is, some are blatantly violent and some are sneaky.

Under the leadership of Muhammad Saleem Qadri the Barelvis established the ‘Sunni Tehreek’ in 1990s, which was aimed to promote the interests of the Barelvi Sunnis, especially against the Deoband and Ahl-e-Hadith (Wahabis).

Several members of the Sunni Tehreek have died over the years facing the wrath of the former Sipah-e-Sahaba (now Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat) and the banned Lahkar-e-Jhanvi, while the Sunni Tehreek has also retaliated in kind.

Only in Karachi countless targeted killings of Pesh Imams and various religious scholars have been exchanged between the two schools of thought, as they both consider the other as ‘Kafir’ (infidel), and fights over the ownership of mosques often take place.

With all the rivalries different Islamic schools have with each other, locations of mosques for different sects are extremely important. The best location means, better outreach, increased donations, higher enrollment at Madrassas and more say in the development of the neighborhood. After that what matters is the size of the mosque, the bigger it is, the easier it will be to swallow up the smaller entities around it. Basically, it is not just a mosque but a business that the ‘mosque mafia’ is best at.

With such staunch rivalry between the Barelvi and Deobandi, it would be no wonder if after a few years, the heart of downtown Manhattan would become the center stage of urban warfare between these two schools of thought. As many mosques originally built by the Barelvis have been taken over by the Deobandis in Pakistan.

Many people may consider this opinion far-fetched, but when one compares the number of incidents in Britian and the United States since September 2001, it would be revealed that the Jihadists are well-organized and have infiltrated deep into the system.

Therefore, State sponsorship of the Barelvi school of thought would give rise to the same rivalries; and may emerge as something similar to the martial religion concept, that would wreck havoc in the long run.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Barter or legal prostitution?

The idea of arranged marriages somehow always sounds repugnant to me. It seems wrong in some basic way which I always try to put into words, but I cannot. Mostly the words that come to my mind are legal prostitution. Every time I get to know about an arranged marriage, something new pops up. If it’s not about the girl being pretty, kum-umer and highly educated, it is about Pakistani, good cook and gharailoo. Actually the higher the bidder, the more complicated and high is the demand. Arranged marriages have ceased being the epitomes of compromise, respect and harmony between two families (which could actually just turn out to be heresy, but lets assume it isn’t). Rather, they have become more business like and professional to the point of barter and legal prostitution.

The only difference seems to be that the women or men are selling themselves (in I guess most cases) to just one person, and the compensation is not just pure hard cash, but things like greencards, foreign visas, work permits, businesses, cars, houses, you name it they have it. Here I would for now divide the thing in two broad sections. One is where a highly qualified Pakistani guy is searching for a perfect match in the form of a green card or any other passport from UK, Canada and Australia, with options ranging from spoilt foreign brats (being forced to marry to avoid a cross race marriage), to divorcees, women looking for doctors who can clear exams in the foreign country and earn daalars and vise versa. The second is where a foreign qualified guy, who has sown his wild oats is now looking for a gharailoo desi larki in Pakistan - who preferably has had no past, no interaction with the male of the species and is a gourmet chef - for breeding a few legal brats. Options are semi educated to averagely educated girls/women looking for a comfortable foreign existence and a good retirement plan with an exchange of ‘pure’ sex and reproduction of a few children. Not bad eh? It does not matter if the guy kicks it at the club once a night per month, as long as the money is rolling in, all’s well.

Those discussed before were mostly high end marriages. Let’s discuss the average or below average arranged marriages these days. Like a good for nothing man, looking for a kamao larki. A girl who can not only manage the day to day expenses from her salary, but also bear him children and do all the house work, while the guy will just work on some odd job, earning barely enough to manage his own expenses. These types of marriages usually end up between women, aged 30 who are considered as left on the shelf, and loser men. Intelligence, education, personality, compatibility are mostly or interchangeably thrown out the window in these arranged marriages.

However, having said all this, I must admit these situations are also visible in un-arranged marriages these days. So, I guess, it is not others who need to realign their thinking rather I have to readjust my ideas about it…. And modernize, by becoming more materialistic?