Archive for December, 2007


There’s no word more torn than ‘Peace’. Can we gather its fragments and form a living whole?

Gather it from the screams of the holocaust,

From the ghosts of Bosnia,

From the seeking arms of Darfur,

From the despairing souls of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay,

From the shell-shocked blur of Iraqis who know not if they are to mourn, fight or resign,

From the beseeching women who are trapped in their own helplessness,

From the yearning orphans who know not whom to turn towards and if they can even hope to do so,

From the shunned, rejected and the ostracized,

From the anguish of the maligned and the misjudged,

From the battle of our own pasts,

From the cozy evening with one’s beloved,

From the embrace of a secure family,

From the expanse of generous hearts,

From the souls who know their purpose in this world,

From the pride of achievements well-earned,

From the minds of the discerning,

From the hearts of the content,

From everywhere, but only to breathe in the word, to live it as a whole.


For some or even many, this might not make sense and I can’t debate that. I’m at feeble terms with the word myself. Just giving the whispers of my heart a wobbling crescendo, so that a few of us can string it into coherence.



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Overdue Review


No, ‘Wheeee!The Tri-continental Human Rights Film Fest was a treat!’ won’t do, neither will, ‘Yes- Siree! The Tri-continental Human Rights Film Fest was a treat!’, I guess, I can honestly say, it was fodder for my grazing mind 🙂 It was held very many weeks ago but didn’t find enough time to reflect in peace, until now. I was able to grab only the first batch of films, I couldn’t make it for the second schedule, sigh* and I so wanted to see Leila Khaled’s  work. But never you mind, I did enjoy three very good documentaries.

One, ‘The Rockstars and The Mullahs’, two, ‘Return to Kandahar’ and three, ‘Venezuela Rising’.

It was even more of an experience because yours truly had to become the default spokesperson on the Islamic stand, being the lone Hijabi but I suspect not the lone Muslim in the audience. I’ll have you know, it’s terribly awkward to have pointed glances from people who keep turning around to give them -smack in the middle of the movie, especially, when you just want to take in the movie from the farthest corner of the last row in the room. So much for wanting to remain as inconspicuous as possible!

The coordinator as per protocol (I assume) invites different opinions from the audience after each screening, there was only a loud silence greeting the invitation this time. I bristled some and more, heck! Nobody seemed to know any better and if there wasn’t someone to clear the muddle, everyone would go home with this half knowledge at its garbled best. When I came to this thunking conclusion, I’m guessing it’s only a rhetorical question when you ask if there was a heated debate after ‘R and M’.

I’ll have you know that the very first thing I said sounded profoundly stupid to my ears. I hemmed and hawed and said, (hold your breath), ‘Obviously, I’m a Muslim and Obviously I need to speak up’. Do you see the moron-like use of ‘obviously’, obviously I was blabbering. I wonder why I thought that people wouldn’t notice without my ‘obvious’ remarks and why only Muslims need to speak up. I had to take a deep breath after that and gather my seething wits.

Briefly, ‘R and M’ is a story narrated by ‘Salman’, the lead guitarist of ‘Junoon’, a Pakistani band. He takes the audience through the contradictory nature of ‘shariah-based’ law in Pakistan, especially, pertaining to music. The contradictions are not just against human nature/will as Salman wants us to believe and enduringly focuses on but more importantly, they’re against the very nature of Islam- to promote peace. Most of the opinions on music in Islam, in the film, are taken from imams who spout opinions without knowledge. Islam does not forbid music in the manner of an absolute full stop as the Imams in the documentary vehemently declare, and I found it particularly outrageous that they could state such blatant lies with utter conviction, ‘No room for music, no room for singing’.

Oh and by the way, even if the directors aren’t around to care about what I have to say, I didn’t particularly appreciate the snide way each of these clipping was followed by Qur’an recited in Qirah, it would have been much more helpful if you’d done your research with greater care. Each ill-informed mullah’s opinion should have been followed by a well-informed mullah’s- on the same topic. It is deliberate misinformation if you let the audience believe that being a ‘good’ Muslim should include keeping the women within the four walls and discouraging their ‘azadi’(freedom) as was one cheesy Mullah’s opinion and presenting these mullahs as if they’re the shining examples of  scholars in Islam is infuriating.


Stepping up and clearing the misconceptions was relatively easy but having to explain over and over again why I was covered in the Jilbab-niqab was not. People simply didn’t understand that the literate could allow themselves to be covered so, one even implied that I might be suffering from deep psychological issues-oh dear!

The poor co-ordinator had to step in then and steer the discussion to neutral grounds. Someone sauntered by and offered in a sympathetic tone, ‘you’d be shot dead in Pakistan, you know’, I was simply stunned. People considered themselves as authorities over subjects they hardly knew.

Oh and I must not forget another ‘helpful’ person’s opinion, ‘You know, Karl Marx once said that religion is the crutch of humanity’ and arched one very vocal eyebrow.

All I could come up with was, ‘What he was trying to say, really, was that Humankind is naturally weak. And nobody denies that and I assure you that I can think of far many other crutches that man prefers over religion’, at which he guffawed heartily and nodded with much glee. Although, I don’t see how it was funny. I don’t think I conveyed what I really wanted to say, Karl Marx was not as clever as he sounds.

Then we went around in circles on the same topic until it was time for the next film. I came back feeling like I could take up an alternate career as a spokesperson with great success, I didn’t know I possessed quite so much flair for saying ‘next!’ with a sweep of my hand punctuating it. 😀

Didn’t stay back for the discussion after ‘Return to Kandahar’, had another engagement to take care of. The film was about an expat woman’s return to her homeland, Afghanistan, to look for her long-lost friend. The narrative is not contrived and has many poignant moments but sometimes I found the woman’s opinions annoying and narrow-minded, especially, since she kept talking from a frame-of-reference that had no room for understanding on certain issues when there should have been. Yes, I’m shamelessly nit-picky.

‘Venezuela Rising’ was thunderously reiterating of a resolute public opinion about itself as nationalists and as the block against presumptuous super-power-toting bullies, very specifically the USA. Little surprise.

 Remarkable was the energy of the womenfolk, tirelessly campaigning for their leader, the men watching on and contributing whole-heartedly. The flurry of campaigns was complete with generous supply of good cheer, good food and endless cups of coffee and bottles of coke- testimony to the efficacious ‘feminine’ touch- multi-tasking at its best! Therefore, it was NO to ambreeka and NO to its puppets!

Good riddance!

Yes, thank your lucky stars that I missed the second schedule. 😀



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