Babu Rajab Ali

March 16th, 2014 in Poetry, Punjab

One of you recently sent me a video of a folk group singing Babu Rajab Ali’s long poem, titled Aqal da Baag. It’s like his review of Punjab — people, food, customs, professions, districts, and what not. He summed up everything he could think of that was happening in Punjab.

A treasure of immense historical value, it’s sung in a very gripping way. Without instruments, the ups and downs of the their voices make up for the rhythm. Thank you so much, Tejpal.

I knew Rajab Ali, or Babuji as he was known, but hadn’t read or heard his poetry until now. A friend of mine, a fiction writer, grew up in the same region where Rajab Ali settled after partition. Babuji appears in a couple of his stories. Lost. As someone who’s present but absent. Like a new desi immigrant in the US. Reduced to zero.

Except that Babu Rajab Ali didn’t have a choice, neither did he leave East Punjab voluntarily, not could he go back. Unlike a US visa, you cannot undo a partition. He, they say, never come out of the past. How could he? The man, in 1940, quit a career in civil engineering for the love of Punjabi poetry!

Punjab’s partition didn’t just result in the death of our loved ones, it shattered many a souls too. Beyond repair.

Since It’s Women’s Day

March 8th, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ll share what I say the rest of the year…

On Accessibility

March 5th, 2014 in Web Design

“Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible.”

Many web design professionals begin caring about accessibility only after they develop special needs. After 12px becomes too small to read. After low contrast starts bothering them. It’s sad.

It’s Finally Coming!

March 5th, 2014 in Web Design

Citizens’ Voice was a tentative title for the idea when it was presented at P@SHA Launchpad. Please suggest a local name suitable for this?

100/100 on Google PageSpeed. Ethe Rakh!

February 25th, 2014 in Web Design

folkpunjab google pagespeed insights

The State of Android Enthusiasts

February 21st, 2014 in Technology

Android devices remind me of the days when every other person or their cousin was getting a desktop computer. Bragging about the specs was the favorite pastime of those who had just bought a system. Processing power, amount of RAM, hard disk capacity, and monitor size were discussed to no end. If you could fdisk the hard drive and reinstall everything, including drivers, you were considered a pro. Windows was the default choice. 98 was the Gingerbread, XP the Jelly Bean. There was an abundance of applications. You could install a dozen programs to do the same thing. Computer enthusiasts were spending more time talking about their machines than using them to get things done.

It’s pretty much the same with Android.

The Android Advantage

February 19th, 2014 in Technology

Android may not be as polished as iOS but it sure deserves the credit for giving people full-fledged smartphones that cost a fraction.

Take Samsung Galaxy Star Pro, Huawei Y320, or another entry-level Android from a reputable brand: They all feature 4″ display, 512 RAM (iPhone 4 has the same amount), and a dual-core processor; and cost around $100.

Granted these phones aren’t as sleek as an iPhone, but they actually do all the things one expects from a high-end smartphone: Skype, Viber, FlipBaord, Instagram—you name it.

Thumbs up to Android.

Planning is Half the Fun!

February 2nd, 2014 in Travel

The Grand Africa Trip: Kenya ⇢ Tanzania ⇢ Zimbabwe ⇢ South Africa ⇢ Namibia ⇢ Nigeria ⇢ Mali ⇢ Morocco.

The Grand Africa Tour

Traveling Africa Without Visa

February 2nd, 2014 in Travel

I might be getting a bit optimistic here but it appears one can do Africa without getting a visa in advance in Pakistan. No, not all African countries give a visa on arrival but if you plan carefully, it seems possible to land in a country in East Africa, making your way to the south, and then taking a flight back home from a West African country. The return air ticket is just above $1000, which is also not bad.

All in all, it seems like a good travel plan. Will keep you posted.

Iqbal Qaiser

January 19th, 2014 in Punjab

Iqbal Qaiser was in Islamabad today. We met a few hours ago and he read me a chapter from his upcoming book. It’s a travelogue through history, a present through the past, about the Jains and their mandirs.

I stopped him after the opening paragraph and took the manuscript before letting him continue the reading, just to see the words. It’s a brilliant piece of Punjabi prose. It was a pleasure to read something so original in Punjabi non-fiction. I’ll let you know when it gets published. You are going to thank him for writing this.

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