Dubai Cares Annual Education Walkathon 2017

The 2017 Dubai Cares Walkathon kicked off at Dubai Creek Park with full fan fair over the weekend. What looked like stormy clouds that were about to burst into an avalanche of rain did not hamper the participants from flocking in. Whatever the weather, the entrants from all walks of life turned out in droves; some 14,500 of them. Men, women and children participating in unison with the children across the world as part of the “Year of Giving” and in line with Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum Global Initiatives highlighting the need for children’s education. Imagine having to walk 3-5 km daily to school to learn! I knew personally of villagers who would walk the 3 kilometers’ trek. One only has to recollect the trials of childhood and having memories of not wanting to get up for school!

imag1039

As the crowds trickled into the park in preparation, we encountered a chorus of people who were warming up to the sound of the beat emanating from the speakers. What looked like a warm up session turned out to be aerobics! A combination of Yoga followed by a dance routine had the crowd ecstatic. From the cha cha to two-step, the crowd followed suite. Out of shape and out of step, we giggled away at each other as our steps were out of synch. One couldn’t help but join with the contagious crowd. It was all fun.

imag1058

imag1054

Our very own presenter from Virgin Radio, Maz Hakim, engaged the audience in particular the many sponsors in recognition for their participation. “Shout goes out to …we love you….” could be heard far and wide as the sponsors waved back in appreciation. The scene was set as the army of walkers gathered in formation including two Storm Troopers from the First Order!

imag1052imag1049

And the walk began. School children, parents, drummers, practically people from all walks of life marched to their own tune. This was a journey for those fortunate to tread the steps of those less fortunate. Watching a trickle slowly form into a river of people and the camaraderie of the different groups walking together made it all the more special. I witnessed a flurry of wind send granules of sand in the face of those marching which amazingly did not hinder the flow. Such was the enthusiasm of the crowd. Droplets of rain came cascading down and for a moment, I thought the clouds could no longer sustain their weight and would pour their load.

img_20170217_095443

It’s not every day I wake up to walk to this type of iconic British weather. The feelings of nostalgia transported me back to good ole England. That feeling resonated with me even more so as to why I walked in solidarity with the nameless children in far-flung lands. I could have been one of those children walking to school every day. Any of us could have. I am forever grateful. And yet here we were back at the finishing line.

Acts like this bring back the joy in humanity. It is the year of giving. Every year should be the year of giving. Give your energy, your resources and above all your time however small an amount it may be. This is our future we have to consider. Our children. Education is key to brighter prospects and harmony. Pay it forward.

Last but not least, I wanted to give a big congrats to the participants, volunteers and above all, the organizers for contributing and making this event a success. We appreciate what you do. We all care. Hats off to Dubai Cares.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A time for contemplation: 2017

 

The aftermath of fireworks bringing in the new year. Much to contemplate on. It’s been a roller coaster ride for me as I’m sure it’s been for all of you out there. One of the most challenging years of my life. Like most of you, I came through and here to fight on. I look back at this picture that Yasin Valimulla took and pause for a moment.
 
A prayer. May the scars of our challenging moments drift away akin to the plumes of smoke emanating from the fallout. May the moments that challenged you become your force to wield with. For as Rumi has said “The wound is the place where the Light enters you”. What does not break you can only make you stronger. I want to thank all of you for being there. You know who you are.
 
What do you aspire to achieve for 2017? In order for you to acquire something you never had, you need to do something you never did. Im going to do just that. Will you?
 
Here’s to all of you out there. May you shine and go beyond the boundaries. I pray this year brings happiness and prosperity to all. Peace and much love to all.

img_2798-1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gateway to the unknown

A scene from my travels in Northern Pakistan through passages of the ancient Silk route. There is more to this picture than meets the eye. A sense of hope and desperation intertwined. Seldom have I come across places where I witnessed humans go to lengths to either succumb or be victorious in such a remote place as this.
Behold! The gateway yonder to the unknown. Therein, beyond the white clouds emerges a host of mountains, the greatest of them all – K2 also known as “Savage mountain”. For every four that summit, one perishes in the process. I wonder what makes a human go to great lengths to venture into the unknown.  

On the left straddles the weather beaten road that we meandered through in our 4×4 to meet the legendary “Little Karim” (see previous post). 

On the right, beyond the overarching jagged mountains lays the disputed Siachen glacier. This is home to the highest battle ground in the world between both Pakistan and India. Many a soldier stationed at the behest of their respected army perished without a shot being fired. I wonder what goes through the minds of these people who succumb to the elements. What were their last words? Was it freedom from the bonds of the bitter cold that howled through their pores? A tragedy upon itself.

The green pastures further on are inhabited by villagers that succumbed to a landslide behind me. Courage over fear to start over where the elements lay siege upon them rolling rock and ice. And if you were to meet them, therein you would witness the Ray of hope of humanity. For amidst all that had been taken from them, they would offer their hospitality to those that cross their path with angelic reverence. Such is the case through these lands. The land of the ancients. The land of the mountain people.

This pic is a testimony to the grandness and the spectacle of earth and all she has to offer. Such rawness, depth and beauty. And a reminder to us all that what we tread on we must respect. Always.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 8 Comments

Do you see what I see

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. If I was to tell you that you could hear your own heartbeat and be one with nature, would you believe me?

Amidst the chaotic adventures travelling through Northern Pakistan, I came across a place where time and space I felt stood still. This for me was a place of solitude.

What a mesmerizing sensation this was looking back. The richness of the myriad of colors was a sight for sore eyes. Hues of green, blue and brown intermingled with an artistic effect on the canvas. The ripples in the lake felt in unison with my heart. A feeling of elation, of peace and tranquility beyond measure. The lingering sound of the breeze intoxicated my mind into a trance. The outer elements seeping into my very pores shredding all conflicting thoughts. I felt at one with the universe.

To be calm and one with nature is key. One aspect we need to do properly is breath. I hope this picture will allow you to stop and do just that. BREATH! Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Slowly. Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your own being…. Rumi. We become one.  

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

An evening at Jabal Al Jais

One of those epic pictures one has to share. I was fortunate to accompany my friend Riaz and his family on a trip to Jabal Jais mountain, the highest peak in the UAE. Cruising to the top at just under 2,000 meters, the views were a sight for sore eyes. The luminous rays of the sun emitted her last shards of light as we settled in, huddled around the embers of a fire we had made.

564a7071

Munching on marshmallows after our dinner, I peered towards the sky as a hue of colours formed. The stars slowly came out, each emitting the vibrant essence, each vying for that star bound moment with us. I pondered at the minuscule dots, each glowing with energy as my retina honed in.

My mind wandered to the traveller of the millennia. From the tradesmen of Arabia to the seafarer from Portugal, they all had an intimate dependency on the stars to navigate their course to new destinations. My mind further raced to the mystics who in some cases fell into a state of ecstasy trying to unravel the mysteries from above. Then there were those that studied astronomy going as far as stating that the basic elements in the stars, and the gas and the dust around them were the same elements that make up our bodies…!How amazing would that be? How similar or different are we?

A quote from one of my favourite philosophers, Rumi from Balkh – Modern day Afghanistan, came to mind. “We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust”. In effect we are but that minuscule particle.

Aside from the thoughts I had, I was accompanied by Rahim who cleverly took this picture; the epitome of my boundary with the outer star world. My very own stargate taking me to a new dimension. Looking at the picture, it is surreal now as it was then.Genius.

564a7173-edit

What is between the heavens and the earth is any bodies guess. However, I’d like to add as Rumi further states:

“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” 

We all are our own northern stars. There’s a star in every one of us. May we all be enlightened and guided. Shine like the shimmering star that you are. Peace – Kabul.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aim For The Sky But Stay Grounded

rise

Once I was given a private tour of the iconic #burjkhalifa – The tallest man-made structure in the world. As and as we stopped at a particular point, the view was magnificent from all angles.

I could see tourists taking pictures as we observed the Dubai fountain sprouting away to the sounds of the music.

Turning around, I looked up at a particular point of the building, stretching as far back as I could and pointed up. The BurjKhalifa is definitely a feat of engineering that defies the odds. I pondered for a moment. What was beyond imagination some years ago is now a reality. 
Like the visionaries, we too should aim for the sky. “Aiming for the sky but trying to stay grounded.” That is the key.

Life has its ups and downs. A sturdy ship was not meant to say anchored at the port. So reach out and live your dream. The bumps on the path are there to define you, chisel you and make you stronger. Aim high and don’t settle for anything less. Do what you can with what you have while you have it. Live it. Breathe it. Peace and blessings to all. #success #focus #burjkhalifah #burj #tower #iconic #vision #Life #suit #dubai #mydubai #dream #hardwork #sky #visionary #tall #strength #high #power

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What are we celebrating?

In my travels through northern Pakistan last year, I was fortunate to be hosted by my friend Asim, whose grandfather is revered as a hero of the north. As a Junior officer and later to become Group Captain of the Eskimo Force of the Gilgit scouts, Lieutenant Shah Khan took charge and had lead the liberation effort to seize control of Gilgit reaching as far north to Kargil through the Deosai plains with an altitude of 14-16,000 ft. (The land of the giants) with little supplies. He routed out his opponents in their bunkers and took control. No small feat either. What a legend. He wrote a book that he presented to me about his experiences. Mr. Shah Khan was awarded for his bravery too with Pakistan’s 3rd highest military award; Sitara-i-Jurrat – The Star of Courage.

IMG_6933

IMG_6960

However, if I asked him what he thought of the state of Pakistan today, especially concerning the minorities, IDP’s and the Baluch issue to name but a few, he’d probably like many his age sigh, shrug his shoulders and look at me with pain in his eyes. “We could’ve done so much more. We should do much more”. Injustice everywhere, might is right and if you speak with a conscious, you can kiss life goodbye. That is the order of the day. Is that what we have become? I’m sorry to say but I think we need to do more than just wave flags and sing patriotic songs. There’s just too much patriotism going on and we are lost within the words and emotions.

We have a moral duty to think inwardly and do more. To blame anyone else for the mistakes, shortcomings or underlying issues is just facade. We need to think. What can be done? I’m sure there are many out there like me who would like to do something for the greater good but don’t know what to do or how to go about it. This calls for leadership in all of us. Those that know me know that I speak from experience doing what I can when I can for the people of the region. The Pakistan flood relief effort in Dubai is an example. We are all the same and speak the same. We can do more.

It will be India’s Independence celebrations and 4 days later it will be Afghanistan parading away with great fanfare. Respect. But enough already. What are we learning? Surely the older generation fought thinking the younger generation would benefit. They did. But at what cost and what did that translate into? One could say that the masses largely celebrate the state, yet they are celebrating a material existence and the true essence is lost upon the new generation. I hope not. “Faith, unity and discipline” are the cornerstones of Pakistan. Where are we? I hope for the likes of Mr. Shah Khan that we honor and do more. The unsung heroes who fought valiantly against all odds. But it’s not all about fighting. They did that so we wouldn’t have to fight. The days of warfare has gone. It’s about respect, hospitality, coexistence and so much more. More love not hate. Whatever the case, we need to do some real soul searching. All of us wherever we are. This goes for all the other countries too.

We should be concentrating on the next steps forward. Conserving our energy and thinking ahead for the next generations to come. Advancement in health, education, science and technology is the need of the hour.  We will only be questioned and be accountable for what we could have done but did not do. Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. Scrap that. Yes. Scrap that. We should not be patriots of a particular country. We should be patriots of humanity. Which brings me to this fine example that I stumbled upon by chance. I read an article today of a woman from Karachi, Ms. Nargis Latif who nearly lost her life to and in doing so, swore that if she lived on, she would dedicate her life for the greater good and help those in need. And lo and behold. In her efforts, Ms. Latif has gone about using recycled waste and garbage to make structures for housing to toilets for those in need. That’s why I ask. What are we celebrating for? Jeevay jeevay Pakistan or I love my India or Afghanistan when the population cannot be looked after? We all should and can do our part in our own small and special way. Yes, commemorate those who fought for better days. However, contribute in consolidating your brainpower rather than ego and make it a better place before you leave it. As the wise have said. Humble yourself people or life will humble you.

Sources

  1. Ghani, Faras. The woman turning rubbish into homes in Pakistan, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/06/woman-turning-rubbish-homes-pakistan-160629181246015.html
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment