Donut Gonutz

12016335_10153666330866528_2083265959_oI am usually aware of decent restaurants around DHA since there are quite a few foodie friends in my list on Facebook and Instagram. While driving back home I came across this new place Donutz Gonutz at Badr Commercial, which I had not heard before from anyone. Since I had only known Dunkin that specializes in donuts, decided to try the place out. I went in and found many different and colorful treats all over. From cupcakes to mini pizzas there were plenty of items, the price range seemed decent as well. I bought a few of donuts to  try them out.

One had dark chocolate top with white beads filling. Mildly sweet, it was light to eat and I felt I can eat multiple of these without loosing appetite. Another was quite unusual, a peanut butter donut. Decorated with brown top and peanuts, the taste of peanut butter was strong and it even stuck to top of the mouth like traditional peanut butter spread. Compared to the first one this one was quite heavy and one was quite enough for me (not a peanut butter fan either).  Third donut that I tried a while later was star shaped with green top, and it was tasty. Like the first one not much heavy either. The closest donut taste I can compare it with would be Boston Creme from Dunkin, but without the heavy cream filling in the middle. In a way it was good because I was able to actually enjoy the donut rather than worry about creme jumping out from the donut with every bite.



Lamudi Hosts Blogger Meetup

IMG_9522KARACHI, 20 AUGUST, 2015: ( organized a bloggers meetup in Karachi on 20th August, 2015 at Neco’s Cafe. It was a general meet and greet session of the bloggers with Lamudi’s Country Director, Saad Arshed.

The main aim of the event was to brief the bloggers about Lamudi’s phenomenal success over its two years of operations in Pakistan and introduce them to its Google inspired work culture. Saad gave a presentation to the bloggers about Lamudi’s achievements and its happy productive work environment.

The accomplishments included Lamudi’s launch of Android and iOS apps in June 2014, which have been downloaded over 535,000 times since. Other milestones achieved, included its launch of a property magazine, conducting real estate empowerment programs and lastly the launch of its new developments section on the website.

Saad also shed light on Lamudi’s employee-centric work culture, which according to him is the ingredient behind Lamudi’s growth and makes it different from more traditional work places. Lamudi has a flat management structure, where all employees from the CEO to the sales, marketing, finance, human resources and customer services departments sit together in an open-plan office.

IMG_9525Other perks of working at Lamudi include being entitled to unlimited snacks, access to TV while working, monthly entertainment dinners and lots more.

This presentation was followed by a networking session where bloggers could ask Saad anything about the property portal, its journey from a startup to a full grown business and the future of tech industry in Pakistan. The hashtag for the meet up was #asklamudi.

It ended with a scrumptious a la carte dinner and a photo session of the bloggers with the Lamudi team. Overall, it was a fun-filled evening and was thoroughly enjoyed by the bloggers and Lamudi team alike.

Sabeen’s Last Session that Silenced Her for Unsilencing

603798_10152628969100876_4279672868014387794_nI went to T2F straight from work, finding it jam-packed with all chairs occupied and people, mostly young, standing towards the back. I silently entered the rows and stood with my back towards the counter as I listened to Mama Qadeer, a Baloch nationalist whose son was killed some time ago by LEAs, reading from a paper in Urdu. It seemed like a long press release, about the state’s injustices to Baloch people and military’s heavy handedness on the locals.

I took out my phone, clicked a picture and shared with my friends on Facebook and WattsApp to show how crowded it was. After that I listened to the panelists and various topics they touched, from missing persons whose case was taken up by Supreme Court and nothing happened despite over a hundred hearings to long march consisting of 20 people. A 3000 km journey, starting from Press Club Quetta right up to Islamabad, after which still nothing came out except criminal silence from the government and complete ignorance by LEAs.

This was the 5th time trouble had stirred up in Balochistan. As the panelists highlighted, it started back in March 1948 when the sovereign status of Kalat and Balochistan (as agreed by Jinnah at the time of creation of Pakistan) was taken away that Baloch resistance began and it continues to stir every decade or so. People are not senseless or brainless to keep fighting, there must be some problems that led to first resistance, then second, and then third right up to fifth. Grievances, whatever they are, were not addressed and neither resolved, leading to Balochistan becoming a no-man’s land where multiple powers are trying to gain dominance.

Farzana Baloch talked about her endeavors to find her brother that was kidnapped by intelligence agencies. Mama Qadeer spoke at length about his missing son that turned up dead, all this while not knowing why he was taken away, what were his crimes and why wasn’t he punished through the courts. Mohammed Ali Talpur gave historical details of the events that started Baloch movement for self-governance and Pakistani state’s heavy handedness since (which includes borrowing helicopters from Iran to attack Baloch people). He maintained a clear stance, even during the Q&A session, that he wasn’t Pakistani.

Some interesting points were mentioned. For example, Mama Qadeer said that in a television program the anti-Baloch elements claimed Mama Qadeer was given 1 lac rupees for every kilometer he traveled. The journey was of 3000 kilometers that translate to 3 crore rupees. Mama Qadeer has photo copy of 5 crore rupee cheque that was given to him by Balochistan government which he returned after making a copy and said which figure is higher? 3 crores or 5 crores?

Mr. Talpur gave simple explanation. He said he is Baloch who is demanding his right of self-governance back that was agreed at the time of creation of Pakistan and taken away by force, subjugating the people through military. Baloch have history of centuries, Pakistan is a state that is barely 70 years old. Pakistan, as a nation, does not exist because it is a country created in the name of Islam and not because of the nations that existed within its borders. So how can those with centuries of history would forget their past and become a paste-less person for the sake of a country that doesn’t even own its own past of its creation?

Wusatullah Khan was vocal from media side since he works for BBC Urdu. He told about the challenges of media, where the only ones dare to write anything are English newspapers since they are not read by the masses. Urdu newspapers were so heavily censored during Zia that a sense of self-censorship emerged within media that works to this day and topics like Balochistan, MQM and missing people are unfavorable because they get owners into trouble. Then any negative topic about China and middle east countries (especially Saudi Arabia) is a BIG NO because there is no way they can handle the pressure that would come their way. Balochi language has become a taboo for written material because anything written in it is assumed to be by and for terrorists. Since the military can’t be bothered with keeping translators, they banned the use of local language altogether for literacy, education and media while promoting non-local languages including Urdu and English that can be controlled. Media desks in Balochistan do not forward news because doing so will get the media persons killed by one part or the other, and Press Club of Turbat seems to be empty for sometime now.

A short documentary was played about missing persons that was made in 2007, and I recalled seeing some of the clips. This was towards the end of Musharraf’s time when Chief Justice was dismissed and locked up by Musharraf on charges that were already proven false in court, and missing persons case was what lead to judicial crisis that nearly toppled the regime. One clip was of the plight of a mother whose husband was missing since long and she finally held demonstration in front of LEAs in Balochistan where his son was then arrested and dragged so inhumanly that his shalwar came off which was ripped out and he was thrown into the van like a grain sack in semi-nude condition, his mother and sister crying and screaming with no one of authority willing to listen.

The Q&A session followed including questions asked via emails and also by the audience. I believe most of these questions touched most subjects and the panelists answered them as well without reservation. One person from Hazara community also asked about why solidarity was not shown when for 5 days Hazaras kept dead bodies under rain in protest, to which Mama Qadeer gave response that the Baloch Nationalists were certainly there and so were Hazaras with Baloch Nationalists when Long March began.

After quite a few questions, and it was Sabeen Mahud (T2F founder and owner) who has handing the mic to the audience, I was the last to raise hand. Sabeen recognized me since we have interactions in the past during various events, both at T2F and outside, and she gave me the mic instantly.

My question was simple, why civilian institutions and governments couldn’t do anything about Baloch rights if military governments were so much repressive? Surprisingly, this was answered the longest. Mr. Talpur began that establishment and government authorities were on the same page regarding Baloch rights and when military decides, the civil authorities can’t do anything except follow. The case of Supreme Court was pointed out where after a hundred hearings, it is now pretty much in cold storage and no further progress being made in the case since neither court nor LEAs are interested in the case. After Mr. Talpur it was Mama Qadeer who spoke and he spoke from his heart, where he simply dismissed civilian governments completely. He gave multiple examples where, when civil governments tried to intervene, the military simply gave a shut up call. He started with the Long March where sitting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked them to meet. When the group demanded they will only meet if General Pasha, General Kiani and one member of international body will also be part of the meeting, PM simply said I don’t have power to do so. Similarly when Zardari was approached by one person to get his released and even paid 3 million, Zardari called General Pasha to release the person’s kid. He was simply told to mind his own business and few months later the dead body of the young man was found. Mama Qadeer gave multiple examples where people were told their missing relatives will turn up on Eid and instead dead bodies were found, later on clarifying that they never promised if they would be alive.

When the panel had spoken, the session was ended and everyone first clapped for panel and then for Sabeen Mahmud for her bravery to hold the session. Her smile is the last thing I remember, standing just inches away as she took in the applause and strode forward to talk to the panelists. I made my way out towards the car, noticing two people in Shalwar Kameez standing at the corner of the street, one in greyish white while another in light blue (drivers?) as I sat in my car and drove to home.

An hour later, Sabeen was shot dead after leaving from T2F and the news reached me after another two hours.

And Sabeen was silenced for unsilencing Balochistan!


P.S. Within hours after the session, Facebook and Twitter profiles of T2F (The Second Floor, the cultural establishment where the session was held) were closed down.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

OPEN eCON 2014

OPEN Karachi held its 3rd Annual Conference on 20th December at CBM. The topic of the conference was “Economic Sustainability through Entrepreneurship” and was attended en mass by both students and industry professionals. Chairman TDAP, S.M. Munir, was chief guest of the conference who shared moving views on progress and development of Pakistan’s exports. President OPEN Karachi, Dr. Zakiuddin, spoke about OPEN platform and its performance in Pakistan with glimpses to upcoming chapters and events planned. Other speakers from the inaugration ceremony include Ronald Jonash from Hult Business School, Brian Heath from U.S Consulate Karachi, British Deputy High Commisioner to Pakistan Mr. John Anthony Tucknott, Co-founder of Online Healthcare Group Mr. Handre Dreyer, Amy Scerra from Think Global andMariam Ahmed and Eram Abbasi from OPEN. Several announcements including new collaborations and ventures were main focus of the ceremony. Notable industry people including President P@SHA Jehan Ara, CEO SoloTech Farhan Masood and Founder KITE Afaque Ahmed attended the event which was followed by student final year projects display and conference sessions on academia role in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurship and technopreneurship.

Jeffrey Archer in Karachi

Jeffrey Archer talking to his fans at Liberty Books in Karachi via Skype

Jeffrey Archer talking to his fans at Liberty Books in Karachi via Skype

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw an update on Facebook. It said a Skype session has been arranged with Jeffrey Archer at Liberty Books BBQ Tonight branch and it is a great chance for his fans to talk to him directly. Soon I saw event page being shared on out The Readers Avenue group and decided to attend the session. Despite the fact that I was tired from office, air conditioner wasn’t functional and needed to be fixed and I was still in the middle of downloading the newly released Watch Dogs game, I managed to take out time and reached the venue on time.

One of the best decisions I ever made.

The session was lightly attended, the dreadful traffic probably kept a lot of people away and that took away some of the charm of the event. I met Afrah and marketing team of Liberty Books, a pleasant meeting since we have made acquaintance over the past few months and it felt nice to catch up. Jeffrey was online right at the time and I easily got front row seat for the session. Jamal moderated the session and after a short introduction he asked Jeffrey to talk about his writing experience.

Jeffrey was animated. He spoke clearly about his experience as a writer and how his life events and knowledge provided the necessary information for his novels. The audience, although not many, asked him varying questions from his ability to write for multiple genres to dealing with Writers Block. He answered all openly and often humorously, leading us to fits of laughter when he declared he his God gifted and doesn’t suffer from Writers Block and would write forever till he dies. Since most of the questions were general in nature, Jeffrey didn’t go into unnecessary details about his writing. He talked about how he is closer to his first novel ‘Not a Penny more, not a Penny less’ than his other novels since that was the first and how he loves to write, particularly since he is a best seller. In fact, since he has been best seller so many times is the reason he still goes on writing.

Also, he doesn’t type but write by hand. His recent book has gone through 9 drafts and all of them are handwritten. It’s an old habit that is still a part of him and can’t switch to typing so easily. His past experience as a politician has had a great impact on his writing. Since politics is what he understands best, his novels also surround such themes and he is particularly fond of his current series Clifton Chronicles. His advise to all budding writers is to write what they feel comfortable about and have knowledge. For example Jeffrey said he has no idea about Pakistan, so if he writes a story based on Pakistan it will be a bad story since he has no knowledge of the country. There will be those who tell you there is nothing in you to pass on through your stories so why write, but don’t give up and continue to write.

Jeffrey had plenty to offer in terms of advise to the new writers for both reading and writing. The session ended after 20 minutes of conversation where Jamal did his best to successfully maintain the flow of communication between Jeffrey and his fans. After a polite good bye, all participants were upbeat and are excited about participating more in future of event of such nature. And hopefully there will be a bigger crowd the next time such an event would take place.

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