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Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Story From Sensational Shanghai



Fan of travelling yes, fan of travelling in the winter anywhere, a Big No. It is true, I am not a fan of the cold weather, it is somewhat outside of my comfort zone. This November I found myself hopping on a plane for what was a work related trip to China, the last stop of which was the largest city in China, Shanghai. My first visit to the city since 2010, when I had dropped by to visit the World Expo. That was at the peak of the summer season and boy it was definitely quite hot that summer with the Celsius scale hitting 40 in the peak of the afternoon.

My three days in Shanghai were followed by quick visits to Xiamen, Jinjiang and Wuxi, from the latter I hopped on a bullet express train to Shanghai Railway station. The journey by car which otherwise would have taken four hours and given Shanghai's reputation with respect to traffic jams, not the best of ideas. After an hour long journey by train I found myself at the Shanghai railway station. This was my first inter city journey by train in China, it went by far better than I expected, and not long after my arrival into the railway station, i was at my hotel, The Radisson Blu Shanghai New World on Nanjing Road.

The Nanjing Road area of Shanghai facing people's square on one side and the Puxi skyline along the Huangpau river on one side make it one of the liveliest districts not just in Shanghai but probably all of China. As per the locals, domestic visitors also flock to what they see as China's international city, with some of the best designer shopping and some of the best food the world has to offer.

 After a few very busy work days, I had some time to myself to explore the area surrounding my hotel and if time permitted other parts of Shanghai. But given how cold the weather was, I was not too keen to wander that far off from my hotel, and stayed within the surrounding area, and considering I was blessed with an incredible scenic view of the Shanghai skyline from my hotel, it was hard to leave the warmth and comfort of the hotel room also.

Nanjing road is absolutely tourist central, tons and tons of shops, cafe's, restaurants and what not, with limitless people just walking past you every second. There are no surprises that quite a few known brand hotels are also located in the district, as well as there being a Starbucks cafe every few minutes walk. While out and about exploring, I did get the opportunity to explore some Halal dinning in the Huangpau area around Nanjing road. I managed to discover a Turkish Restaurant called Kervan, was not impressed, I have had way better Turkish food than that in China. I discovered a very decent Indian Restaurant that I even returned to for a second meal called Kebabs On the Grille, which did a very decent job with the Paneer and Chicken Tikka. Probably one of the better Paneer Tikka's I have had on my travels. But for me the icing on the cake was Tripadvisor.com's recommendation for the number one Halal Restaurant in Shanghai.

Shanghai's number one Halal Restaurant for Chinese food is this eatery called Yershari, located in a shopping mall on Nanjing Road. I do not remember the name of the shopping mall, but it is where the Apple store is located. Hard to miss the Apple store no matter where on the planet you might be. I arrived at the restaurant at 7 pm, and I was greeted with an hour long que, my thoughts, this better be worth the hype and those reader reviews on tripadvisor.com. Now this is where my visit to Shanghai got interesting and I returned home with a story I would happily share, maybe for years to come.

In the waiting area of the restaurant, I went and sat down on an empty chair besides a young Chinese man, who it seems could not speak a word of English, but could clearly identify that I am a foreign traveller to his country. He initiated a conversation with me using a translator app on his phone, at that point I was expecting just a courtesy Hi Hello, was not expecting an experience that awaited me.

He used the translator app on his phone to translate from Mandarin to English, and I began reciprocating using Google translate on my phone. I was using a VPN to access Google services in China, along with Facebook and Instagram. So this is where it began, while waiting for our respective tables, his number was 28 mine was 42, we began communicating with our phones with each other, I know it sounds rather weird and some what anti social but it worked in this case here, our linguistic limitations were no longer a barrier to communication. He would type something in Mandarin on his phone, hit translate, show me the English equivalent of what he was trying to say, and I would do the same via Google Translate, type in English, hit translate and show him my screen so he had an idea of what I was trying to say. We did this for about 45 mins or so before he got the call announcing that his table was ready, at this point he had discovered that I was Muslim, and so was he, so he invited me to have dinner with him, to which I happily accepted. Who wouldn't want some company over dinner in a far away land, as much as I love my personal space, it is always nice to have some company over dinner.





After having sat down for dinner, Abdullah was his name, I asked my new friend to surprise me with his choice for dinner from the menu, he insisted that I being a guest to his country pick what ever my heart desires from the menu, but reminded me that the Almighty hates wastage so I order carefully. Not knowing what the portions would be like at this place and what to expect, usually such fine dine looking places have smaller portions, so I did not exactly order conservatively. I ordered the chicken and potato stew, which is something u find in almost every Muslim Chinese Restaurant all across China. I ordered something that loosely translated into Garlic Beef Ribs, 2 Chinese Style Naans, Egg fried rice and Chinese beef buns. I was expecting smaller portions so that is a lot I know!

We continued our waiting area style of engagement and communication with one another for an additional hour and a half while waiting for our food, and then while having dinner itself. Due to our linguistic limitations, we could not verbally speak with one another, so we continued doing what we were doing earlier, type on our screens, hit translate and show to the other. The only words uttered were Alhumdulilah, Mashallah, Inshallah. I insisted to Abdullah that he let me pay, for the company and the experience that he has honoured with me is something I will remember for a very long time, but while I was insisting on taking care of the bill, he had already paid when our order was complete by Scanning his phone against a QR code on  a device on the table, I did not even notice when he did that and that QR code payments were so common in China. He insisted I am his Muslim brother, and a traveller, this is the least he could do and he only asked that I remember him in my prayers and well wishes.

BTW THIS PLACE TOTALLY LIVES UPTO THE HYPE! THE FOOD WAS INCREDIBLE! 

Before we said Good bye to one another, we added one another on WeChat, which is what everyone uses in China as a replacement for WhatsApp, and before we left the restaurant we were greeted with live entertainment, a cultural dance performance from Western China, from the regions that border Central Asia. I do not know at this point if my paths will cross with Abdullah ever again, but I hope we cross paths again one day in some part of this God's earth and we have another wonderful memory with which to remember each other by. My parting thoughts, language is not a barrier between two people, the real barrier lies in our hearts and minds, If we open our hearts and minds just a little bit, the world is a wonderful place, with wonderful people, and when two people meet, the possibilities are limitless.



Monday, October 16, 2017

Let's Talk About Mental Health, Shall We?

Image result for Mental health awareness month

It is the month of October and since 1949, October has been observed across the United States as a month for mental health awareness, by means of which millions of people are reached through campaigns and initiatives to create awareness regarding mental health concerns. The importance of good mental health can not be under estimated, yet there are many people out there still who do not even acknowledge this as an issue to begin with. For many people, mental health issues are non issues, some degrade it to the point of it being a figment of one's imagination. That is an unfortunate reality in a country like Pakistan as well, where generally all health related issues are put on the back foot and not even given a fraction of the due attention they deserve.

I am just going to simply talk about mental health right now, nothing else. I am going to keep this blog, plain and simple. I am going to say it again and again, Mental health issues are a reality, they are a God Damn reality, and they effect everyone. If you are not directly effected, you are indirectly effected because some one u know might be struggling with good mental health. The battle for good mental health is a life long battle.

The absence of good mental health can have negative effects on our life, they can effect our judgment, our ability to make decisions, our ability to be rational, it can lower our ability to confront or show resistance towards adversity.  Absence of good mental health can disrupt our very ability to live our day to day lives. That is how important good mental health is. I am saying it again, it is a reality, get used to it.

My experience of living in Pakistan as an adult has taught me that not only are people very apathetic towards mental health issues, but people actively contribute towards the decline of good mental health because of their sheer apathy not just towards the lives of other people, but also due to complete disregard for issues concerning good mental health.

A visit to  Karachi University's Institute of clinical psychology will prove to u, how many people, young and old, man, woman and child, suffer from mental health issues. Due to the stigma attached to talking about mental health in our society (I am guessing its like this in many parts of the world) people who come in seeking help for their mental health issues do so with a certain degree of reservation.  I have witnessed it with my my own eyes, those visiting the institute where dozens of mental health professionals tirelessly make efforts to help others, have a sense of fear and stigma with themselves that they have had to  take the initiative to come to such a place. The only anomaly u see there is the abundance of  hesitance among those visiting, but like you and I, their normal every day people, who are just seeking to make their lives better.

I am going to repeat this again, mental health issues are real issues, get used to it already. My request to any one reading this, take some time out and think about it, contemplate, reflect and what not regarding the reality of mental health. Keep an eye out on people around you, some  one around you could be suffering from poor mental health for a variety of reasons, the signs might not be too obvious and people might be reluctant to talk about it. Mental health is a reality and people right in front of you could be suffering from it. A lot of people develop mental health reasons due to personal battles, traumas, or loss and grief. Someone u know could have lost a loved one, or could have witnessed some thing traumatic, or they could have been bullied or just not been sleeping well for whatever xyz reason. Something or the other could have caused damages to their mental health. Most people suffer in silence, do not ignore mental health issues, do not ever tell people that mental health issues are a figment of their imagination, do not ever tell people that they are making excuses or evading responsibilities. We all have our limitations, there are things we can do, and there are things we can not. Sure its true what they say life truly begins when we wander outside of our comfort zone, but if human beings are pushed too much outside of their comfort zone, the consequences of that could be very damaging and have life long effects.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kindness needs a Reincarnation!

Okay people listen up, gear up! Yes I am talking to you, the person reading this blog, i wont lie, I really do hope there are a lot of people reading this. So people as you all know Ramzan is coming, or Ramadan as some of you like to call it. It is coming, in the middle of this brutal OMG you are killing me kind of summer, and very soon you will be bombed with everything Religious or Ramadan/Ramzan themed. For the faithful, fasting followed by the optional Tarawee Salah, for the not so faithful and devout, being forced to have your meals behind closed doors, keeping quite about whether you are fasting or not, and try to not  stand out for whatever XYZ reason. Yet both of you, yes both of you, a very large number of both of you are lacking in Kindness. Yes, I said it, among both of you, kindness is an almost extinct variable.

 Heads up, my blog will reek off a little bit of bias towards the visibly religious lot in particular, there is a reason behind this. I won't get into details, but what I will mention is that you visibly religious lot, certainly raise the bar of behavioral expectations that others may have off you and your new found piousness and fondness for spirituality, when that is really lacking, it adds to anger, frustration, anxiety along with severe disappointments. Then again you would blame us for having high expectations to begin, this is where i say cut the crap, stop making excuses, and stop hiding behind your religious attire u choose to to wear at your own free will. This is about kindness, kindness does not need an excuse.

Kindness is almost dead, its more extinct than the Dodo, sometimes I actually begin to wonder if we as a species have evolved properly, are we yet to get to the desired level of evolution or have we gone back a stage in the 21st century. Kindness needs a revival, it needs a reincarnation. The challenge I would like to throw both religious Muslims that will be fasting in this holy month as well as the non religious who would be continuing normal life behind closed doors, is to be kind to people around you over the next 30 days. Do you think you both can last a month without being unkind.

First of all let me make it clear, u may think you are avoiding being unkind to the other person, absence of deliberate cruelty or intentionally being mean is not being kind, but it is also a very damaging form of unkindness. Let me give u all an example to elaborate a little bit, lets say, you all need a small favour out of someone, or you want something done by someone, who u usually would not consider as someone who merits your time or maybe a lesser being owing the image u have in your head for whatever XYZ reason, ask nicely, ask in a kind manner, most people will still be accommodating even if they know their being used, least u can do is ask kindly, A little bit of kindness can go a long long way in making or shaping someone's life, you do not even have to do it beyond basic politeness and very basic courtesy, while a little bit of unkindness and cocky rude attitude can badly break some one. Most of us Millennials, be it the early lot that was born in the 80s or the later late born 90s and beyond, we are all living serious pressure cooker lives, though we broadcast a lot of shit on social media, there is a lot of things we can not share, some very personal stuff, it might be related to one's job, one's partner, one's family, one's health, the list is endless, so try and be Kind, it really does not take a lot of effort.


To make a stronger point, I will share an example from my own life. One of the months of 2016, I was fresh out of a broken relationship, was a borderline mess, took me a month or 2 to get over it and move on, but I decided to start the process of moving on within 24-48 hours. About a week after the unexpected demise of that I had a wedding to attend of someone I knew from childhood, at the proceeded with my usual Social media activity, those who know me, my usual wedding photos, including my signature wedding selfies of the crowd acting all natural in the back ground. One of the ladies who was not by design in the wedding photographs but purely because she was in the back ground, very rudely and obnoxiously in a very inappropriate like she owns me demanded I take down all evidence, absolutely all evidence of the wedding from my Timeline. Her Arguments as to why ''I know too many people, some one or the other will ask her how the wedding was'', she further added fuel to my inner rage by claiming I am ruining the wedding for the bride and the groom since they were selective in their guest list. If people see the picture, they will ask Qs over why they werent invited (all assumptions). The mental frame of mind I was in, I could have been a real mean person that point, I decided I needed to take a stand for myself without being unkind, so out of pure defiance, I uploaded one group pic intentionally and that on Instagram where the lady isnt one of my followers, not proud of that moment, but had to be done. I got to hear some foul language and swear words from that lady for daring to do something without permission, but at this point I do not care.

Anyways that's not the point of this, the point of this, be bloody kind to people around you, you do not know what their going through. If everyone of us makes a very tiny effort even to be kind and not at all be unkind to our fellow human beings, it can set off a small chain reaction, and the immediate world around us can be a far nicer place. A slightly nicer world, calmer nerves, better concentration at work, we can all sleep better, and best of all we will not be unnecessarily snapping at other people, who in turn will snap at others. So Give it a thought, my 30 day challenge to You, Be Kind Daily for 30 days, and see the difference you make.

If old TV shows and old movies can get reincarnated, why not kindness, so lets give it to a try..

Monday, December 19, 2016

Someone explain Relationships 101 to Millennials


Millennials, all right, let us get started with who or what this group is shall we? Well this group can be defined as individuals born from the early 1980's on wards, a very large number of them reached adult hood at the start of the new millennium. Think if you were born in 84, 85, 86, you probably turned 18 in 2002-4 and started life as an adult.

Some attributes of a lot of millennials, they have very high and rigid expectations of what they want out out of life,they are the generation that wants instant gratification, they are the right here, right now, I want this done yesterday type generation. They are very easily dissatisfied, and the very first signs of things not going their way, causes stress, anxiety, sinking feelings in the gut, panic, paranoia, which in turn results in severe difficulty to cultivate and manage relationships.

I am not an expert on relationships, but I do have a social science back ground, so let us begin by trying to decode millennial behavior and attitudes.

Millennials, God, I really wish they came up with a shorter word to describe this generation.

Millennials, are very very distrustful off other people, they do not trust their close friends, whom they label as close friends. Their is always the belief that every friend is a transitional friend and that their friends will not be there for them when they really need them. Most if not all millennials have probably experienced social betrayal from people they believed were their friends, its a deep down sinking feeling or belief among them that their friends will abandon them when they need them the most (for example going through  a crises) or move on to other people or other friends when something better comes along. This whole sense of distrust prevents people from taking a risk and trying to form meaningful relationships. Meaningful relationships take time, effort, patience, compromise and a shit load of hard work and perseverance.

 Relationships of Millennials are more like, first alarm bells, first whims, first random gut feelings, first thing they do not like in a relationship, or when things are not going completely their way, that is the end game, that is the deal breaker, that is when the decision to end relationships is made, swiftly, coldly, very brutally, and we do not even give the other person any form of closure. That absence of closure, in turn creates a cycle, where the person lacking the closure will make the  same mistakes in that relationship again and again, or will treat other fellow millennials in exactly the same manner assuming it to be a cultural norm, one that is widely acceptable. For the millennials, the concept of communicating , talking things through in relationships, and trying to come up with solutions to roadblocks or problems or challenges does not exist, and you know why they want instant gratification, their way or the highway. 




Okay so most social scientists and experts on human behavior till quickly throw the blame at social media, the age of Facebook and Instagram where we are all sucked into a comparative bubble, where we want a sense of association and approval from our fellow tribe, i.e. the other millennials and in that process we have a sense of dissatisfaction with what we want out of life, and what life gives us. We keep wanting more and more and more out of life, because we are surrounded with too much information about the different filters concerning other people's lives, maybe that is a very valid, but maybe it is not the only argument that can be put on the table also. We live in a world where comparison with the other is at the touch of an app away, so we are maybe always living in a feeling of relativity, the relativity to status quo of our peers. How many of us are happy for our peers, and how many of us are actually envious when good things happen in their lives? Just think about it for a moment.

Anyhow i wanted to bring to everyone''s attention another point, that we all millennials have experienced incompatibility with our environment and our upbringing. Being a millennial myself , I was told growing up that if you work hard, put in the effort, study effort, make it count, get the grades, get that degree from that fantastic university, your life is set, you will be well rewarded, that is kind of how things worked in the generation before us, our parents generation or those of us with siblings a decade or decade and a half older, but the reality of our generation is seriously different. For most organizations, it i all about the bottom numbers, profitability in terms of numeric, and employees are just a number that can be scrapped, shed to ensure profitability and cut costs. Those starting new jobs, instead of telling them what training they will be offered along the way, they are asked in interviews, what they can already do, they are expected to know everything from the moment they step into the post student era world, sometimes also in the student era world, as I got to learn the hard way at Graduate School in England. My own struggles off graduate school were  mainly due to my lacking of technical skills and knowledge that my degree required and the absence of social support.

To Sum up I would say, the solution to a lot of the problems, the stress, the crises millennials face, especially with regards to meaningful relationships is for some one to talk to them in a comforting manner, stuff like that all this is okay, sometimes these things happen, sometimes people are different, you have to make the most of it. But how are you going to teach patience to the millennial lot? condition them towards being patient, well i do not know the answer to that Question, if you do, drop some feedback in the comments section below.

Thanks for Reading

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: Undying Affinity




I Came across this book as an Amazon recommendation. I found it very unusual that Amazon was recommending me a romance novel, I am not sure how Amazon's algorithm works, usually I am a reader of Non Fiction, however I am some one who has always encouraged Pakistani writers by reading and recommending their books. I always seek out fiction written by Pakistani writers, be it by more well known writers like Kamila and Mohsin, or the slightly lesser known one's like Saba Imtiaz and Shazaf Fatima Haider. Our English language writers alongside their Urdu language counter parts are very talented and have tremendous potential to impress their readers.

I was initially skeptical of this book, firstly it being a romance novel and secondly the author's very young age, also the Amazon sampler before downloading the book did not impress me so much. The first chapter or 2 that you can read as part of the free preview slightly disappointed me with  a slightly under developed use of good quality vocabulary, there were moments when it felt the English language wasn't freely flowing as it should. But then again it is the author's debut novel and unlike her fellow Anglo Pakistani writers does not come from a back ground where she holds a degree in English or Creative writing so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and downloaded the book.

The book is about a young early 20's something girl named "Zarish" who hails from an upper middle class business owning family in Lahore. She is no different from any other girl in her age group, living a laid back care free life style that involves going to University, socializing with friends and just taking life easy. We are introduced early in the novel to her childhood best friend, a young man by the name of Haroon, who she has grown up with and has spent the most time. Their parents always assume, that their close friendship will blossom into love and eventually marriage.

 It seems everything is going according to a standard scrip, this is until one evening while she is out with her friends for dinner, she has a by chance bumping into some one who unknowingly to her would change her life in the weeks and months that were to follow. That person being "Ahmer Murad", a young man in his late 20's who has returned to Pakistan leaving behind a life abroad to be with his ageing father. Little did Zarish know that the man she had an brief interaction with at the restaurant would be one of her professors and mentors at the university in the coming semester.

Considering the embarrassing nature of their first interaction, Zarish is shown as some one who is drawn to her professor's good looks as well as engulfed in a sense of discomfort whenever she sees Ahmer Murad around. It doesn't take Ahmer long to develop a good bond with his students, as he becomes a much loved instructor at the university with students showing significant interest in the finance class taught him. As the semester goes by, circumstances move in such a way  that the amount off out of close interaction between Zarish and Ahmer increases and they see a side to each other beyond the teacher-student relationship, they start seeing each as the other person behind the curtains with a glimpse into their lives and how their families have crossed paths in the past.

As their paths cross more and more, they start developing a friendship that involves a trusting relationship as well, which blossoms into love with Zarish being the first one to confess her unconditional love to Ahmer and the 2 are left with hard choices, some moral self questioning about going beyond a student-teacher relationship and the challenges, some expected and some unexpected that will test them and tear them apart.

There are many beautiful moments in the book, many intimate moments shared by Zarish and Ahmer, such as the first time Ahmer confesses her love for Zarish, and the first time they kiss. The chemistry and bond shown in the book between Zarish and Ahmer reflects the innocent nature of our two characters which if you ask most people is a dying trait one rarely finds, that makes it the book's unique differentiating point that it is a simple innocent love story with innocent characters whose love is tested by norms, limitations and tragedy. Saying anything further would be spoiling the book for would be readers, I highly recommend it, especially if you are under the age of 25. For her debut novel Miss Naveed has done a very good job and I look forward to reading her next book.

I am giving the book 4 stars, because of some minor short comings in the book, such as the quality of English used in some of the earlier chapters is not off a very high standard, secondly the writer has not made use of the odd humour that some writers use to keep their audiences engaged in the book this may bore some readers though personally I did not experience boredom while reading this book and thirdly the length of the book was almost 400 pages, an ideal book in South Asian literature should be under 300 pages, their were some things that seemed like repetitive in the book and could have been left out, while some minor characters were not given their due justice and coverage. It would have been nice to know a bit more about Ahmer's past in particular especially his youth.

I wish Sara Naveed all the best in her future works, I am already eagerly awaiting her next book. For those in Pakistan this book has not been officially launched nationwide, it is available on the Amazon Kindle if you are a Kindle user, alternatively you could contact the writer on her Facebook page and order a paper back (In Pakistan) with an option of Cash on delivery. For readers in Karachi, not yet available at Liberty books. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Travel Diaries: Choose your Travel Companions Wisely

The desire to travel, Wanderlust, is inside so many of us, so many of us yearn for that freedom that travel brings along with it. This is in addition to the many wonderful things that travel enables us, it gives the opportunity to unwind and refresh, explore new culture, meet people and also taste some great food along the way. Some of us feel that freedom as solo travelers, while some of us love to have company around while we travel and can never even imagine getting on that plan and visiting some place new without companionship. The benefits of solo travel maybe plenty, such as freedom and flexibility to do whatever when you want, while traveling in a group or with friends, comes with benefits such as better bonding between you and your travel companions, you always have some one with good fresh ideas, some one to talk to, and not to mention of course some one to take that all important photograph in front of a landmark, which was previously not possible before front facing camera's in mobile phones and of course the horrible invention the selfie stick. I wish the latter would just get uninvented some how. There was an April fool's day joke about the Selfie Shoe coming up, boy did that cause quite the stir.

Coming back to the main essence of this blog, travel companions, I can not for the love of God emphasis enough that one must choose their travel companions wisely. Sure it sounds great to be spontaneous and make a random holiday plan with a friend, but traveling together could make or break the bond in pretty much the same way living together can also make or break a relationship. The following are some things that you need to be mindful off before going on a trip with some one, unless ofcourse their your significant other than most stuff gets completely overlooked.

1. How close are you to that person, and to what extent can you really trust that person? Have u had a history where at any point trust issues, mutually or from a single side did sprout up?

2. Do routine habits and life style choices of the person you travel with annoy you or at all make you comfortable? For many after a certain age habits and life style choices are some what fixed and no power can undo that. If your even mildly uncomfortable, it would be best to avoid traveling with that person. For example for some Muslim travelers, eating only Halal is a priority, while for some it isn't. Even though it is not a big issue, it is a cause of discomfort for many Muslim travelers when their fellow Muslim travelers are not big on Halal.

3. Alcohol consumption. In most parts of the world alcohol consumption as a social lubricant is second nature to people, kind of like having tea in some parts of South Asia, so if this social lubricant causes you discomfort, plan your way of meeting and bonding with people alternatively. In the case of your travel companion, do learn about their alcohol consumption habits, do not judge them over drinking, but if they are a good friend please facilitate them in keeping consumption to a moderate level.

4. Never ever travel with some one who takes pleasure from lighting a match, we all have atleast that one friend who loves petty gossip and lights matches for that petty gossip, it gives them a feeling of power over the other person. Lighting a match and rubbing salt on old bounds under the guise of no one else being around. On that note, never travel with some one who has a history of breaking your trust even once, unless of course they have mended all the bridges involved.

5. Never travel with any one who has bad hygiene. That one is obvious, no need to go into details.

6. Never travel with some one who has a history of being reluctant to share. While on traveling, it is not uncommon for you to forget some stuff in the hotel room or forget to pack some stuff in the luggage. Personal hygiene stuff like tooth brush apart, If your travel companion can not share with  you stuff such as let's say a mobile phone charger or a universal adapter or even toiletries such as Shampoo or Sunscreen, yeah the holiday won't exactly go according to plan.

7. Do not travel with some one that does not respect you enough to let you have a say in your holiday, it is best to avoid travel or part ways early with a travel companion who is always bossy, and tries to dominate how the holiday should proceed, from landmarks which need to be visited, from places for food, some one who doesn't cooperate with u slightly to put it simply. Last thing you want to do is get into a fight.

Just Some Food For Thought, Speaking from personal experience

Happy, safe and memorable travels every One.

We Need To Talk About Bullying (Part IV)

It must be extremely difficult being a teenager today, I am sure no matter how hard I try I really can not imagine the true extent of what young people today have to go through. Today I am talking about bullying again, because it is a topic that needs to be spoken about as much as we can because bullying isn't declining but thanks to developments in technology and social trends it is going out of control and out of proportion. We live in an age and era where offline bullying is now accompanied by digital bullying which makes things a lot worse than they already are.

Some weeks ago, it was early in the morning and I had switched on SBS in my Melbourne hotel room. SBS Australia is one of the few free to air TV Channels alongside 7, channel 9 and the ten network. They were running a program on how bullying in the digital age is effecting children particularly teenagers leading to an academic, social and emotional down fall of the next generation of young people walking towards adulthood. According the documentary the attention towards the impact of digital bullying was first noticed in many high schools with a decline not just in grade work of young students but also a significant decline in their push towards physical fitness and athletic agility. Having personally lived in Australia for 4 years I personally know the importance on good physical health, fitness and a good active life style put forward by most Australians. This is also reflected upon the agility and competitive mindset of their athletes and sports persons. In Olympics Australians always feature in the ten best performing nations in terms of medal counts, while in other sports such as Rugby and Cricket, their a force to be reckoned with.

The documentary that I was fortunate to see was set in urban Queensland, where PE or Physical Education teachers or instructors noticed a decline in confidence and a drop in motivation for being competitive towards physical activities such as sports and fitness during the school hours. Upon investigation it turned out that students who were terrified off showing their potential or making daring efforts to exert themselves in physical challenges had become conscious of themselves, their bodies, their physical appearances as a result of not just real time bullying, but a lot of digital and cyber bullying that they had to be subject to. Aggressive comments like 'O Shes a Fat Cow' or 'He is a Fat Pig' or 'He/She is a midget' were being labeled at them by their peers, and thanks to the power of social media, they had been going viral and had played a great role in shaping opinions of others who otherwise wouldn't have had any. Long gone are the days, when the bully was out of your face, you did not have to think about the bully or attempts of bullying, now considering everyone as a smart phone and easy access to social media, it seems their is no escape. Young people today are always subjected to bullying. With limits to how to manage what goes on in the world of social media, it will become even harder and harder for parents as well as teenagers to manage circumstances.

Realistically bullying could never be prevented, bullies have existed since the dawn of civilization, technology has just presented everyone with a whole set of new challenges no one ever expected. One thing that can be done is to create awareness among people as how to identify bullying when it happens and what to do in what circumstances should they be on the receiving end of bullying or on the spectator end. Part of the problem lies with people's apathy, this I was witness to when I was in school, and I witness this in the lives of young people today, its the apathy of by standers, witnesses, who not only fail to even blink an eye when they see some one being subjected to bullying, but often at times, they take the side of the aggressor and entertain the idea that maybe the victim of bullying is some one who actually deserves the treatment thrown towards them. We see it as a natural course, a natural order, we see the aggressor from the vantage of a first mover, the first mover is well within his or her right to act and must be acting right, we seem to automatically dismiss alternatives. The dismissal of alternatives comes down to our inability to feel empathy for other human beings, realistically it is impossible to feel absolute empathy for another or be absolutely sensitive as to feel for the other person, but it is totally worse on a whole different level we see the victim of aggression as a lesser being than the bully or the aggressor. It is no different from how we look down upon victims of abuse, back of our mind we want to be impartial, so we end up making things worse by giving even some benefit of the doubt to the aggressor. There can be no 2 ways about it, an aggressor is an aggressor, some one who makes the must move must be in the spot light.


When was the last time so many of us actually took a stand for some one getting beaten, harassed, socially ostracized or character assassinated because of one or just a handful of people. Standing up is far fetched, I haven't even seen people show compassion for the person getting bullied, even compassion is far fetched, I have seen people believe the image of the victim as portrayed by the bully as some one who deserves it. Just some food for thought for everyone, considering we live in a digital era, next time any of us is witness to digital or cyber or social media bullying, we should entertain the idea that okay maybe this is not right, and maybe the bully is wrong and not their victims.

Just Food for Thought.