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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Best of 2016 in Books

So, year 2016 comes to an end as well. For this year, the target that I had set was of reading 50 books, almost one book a week; I ended up reading 60 which feels nice. Starting this year, I've decided to compile a list of 10 books and put them up on here. Every one of the following titles are highly recommended which would do great service to the reader.

1.  Fallen Leaves by Will Durant

2. No God but God by Reza Aslan

3. A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif

4. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

5. A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid

6.  Our Oriental Heritage by Ariel Durant & Will Durant

7. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh 

8.  A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

9. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt

10. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury 

The following books didn't make the list but are highly recommended as well. 

11. 1984 by George Orwell

12. The Greatest by Muhammad Ali

13. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell 

14. Mort by Terry Pratchett

15. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Can't wait for the new year to begin so I can start on the new target I've set for myself. Due to work commitments and an extremely busy routine overall, I'll try and read 40 books in 2017. Fingers crossed. 

Good luck and Happy New Year :)!

Monday, December 12, 2016


A week has passed since Pakistan lost one of her most famous, iconic and polarizingly loved sons, - Junaid Jamshed or JJ. An individual who became the Voice of the Nation through a song which has become synonymous with the anthem - Dil Dil Pakistan. I wouldn't be surprised if more people can sing along to the the lyrics of DDP than Pakistan's national anthem. It rejuvenates passion and zealousness at a very micro level in my being every time I listen to it (which is now at this very moment). And the same is true for millions of Pakistanis as if the song has practically become a part of their genetic construct. Being a Pakistani and not having heard of DDP borders on blasphemy. 

One other phenomenon that needs to be comprehended is that DDP was more than just a song performed by 4 rockers; it was a source of identity and a breath of fresh air for millions of Pakistanis coming out of a decade-long asphyxiating dictatorship under General Zia. It was a glimmer of hope that the youth needed desperately at the time and a depiction of glee and happiness in the best way that these sentiments can be thoroughly advertised - through music. I listened to the song for the first time in 1989-90, and thence started a love affair with a band called, "Vital Signs", which continues to this day. JJ not only became the face of a rock band in the 90's but was literally synonymous with Pakistan's music industry. 

Vital Signs was one of the bands alongside Junoon that inspired me to sing and eventually become a vocalist of a little setup while I was at University in Pakistan. I still remember singing "Aitebar" at my first ever gig, and almost every single of them thereafter. One of my biggest heartbreaks also came when Vital Signs decided to split, and I must admit that JJ's style of music never impressed apart from a few tunes. My fondest memories of his voice are from the time he was with Vital Signs - 4 albums in total, and shall remain so.

The question that pops to mind is though why has JJ's demise affected me so much. Apart from his music there was little of his life that I ever followed with a dichotomous viewpoint on his take on women rights and quite a few other Islamic ideals he possessed. And the impact of his untimely death has cut in so deep that even now I tear up every time I find myself humming his tunes or listen to one of his songs. I've realised that with every person I know or follow one aspect of their personality diligently passes away, a part of my soul departs and an intimate connection that I had with the past also withers away with them. In 2012, we lost Zaigham Bhai ( in an air crash close to Risalpur. His passing is all the more pertinent in this scenario because he was my oldest brother's friend, and I personally didn't spend any time with him but just knew him as one of the close "Bhai's" within the Air Force community. Living in an armed forces community is a very interesting dynamic. Every single one of the Officers on a base you're residing in is an Uncle and his wife, an Aunty; even though the sentiment it dishes out is predominantly titular, a connection and kinship is established. A very similar phenomenon seems to have occurred with respect to JJ as well. His songs were a big part of my childhood and a source of new experiences aplenty. I, for one, will miss his presence dearly. God bless your soul, JJ! Thank you for all the joy you've given us.

mar bhee jaoo tau
beeti huiee baato ko
jaagi huiee raato ko
yaad karna
yaad karna aur jee lena
main apni awaaz 
aur apney saaray geet
tumhain day jaoon ga
meri sab cheezon ko
yoonhe rehnay dena