A Message of Hope from Cairo, Egypt

Few years ago I worked in Lahore. As common there, we had an army of drivers, office boys & cleaners in the office. They were very very low paid so on occasions I used to collect money for them to help. I would send an email request to colleagues expecting people to drop money at a collection point but response was used to be almost zero. Frustrated I would take an envelope and do a round in the office. Some will donate 10s, few 100s, & rare will 1000 + Rupees. In short it was a daunting task to make people cough up money. There was a colleague from Egypt. On one such a round, I passed by him also and explained my purpose of visit. Without a second thought he put his hand in pocket and gave me 4 or 5 thousand Rupees. I was shocked!

The Egyptian brother was living in the same block as I so we met on few occasions with families afterwards. Time passes quickly. I moved out of Pakistan, and after sometime I lost touch with him. Few days ago when uprising against Mubarak regime was at its peak, I received a message from him through another colleague. He was in Cairo and taking full part in the uprising.  See this message first, and then he himself wrote a message.

Tomorrow I am also going to Cairo and will meet him there. Stay tuned to read my story.

MESSAGE 1:

I just spoke to the brother from Egypt (our ex colleague), who is in Cairo now. It was uplifting to detect a hint of hope in his voice. He goes to Tahrir (Liberation) Square every day and participates in the demonstrations. He and his family are all well but of course, there 300 martyrs and many thousands who are injured as a result of state brutality.

MashAllah, he sounded well determined and hopeful that people will bring Mubarak down! I told him about our apprehensions that when Mubarak goes, Americans and British may replace him with another of their cronies! He also mentioned that Muslims in Egypt do want to see the change of system and he remembered our discussions about Khilafah!

I thought I share this with you all. I am copying him on this e-mail so that he could keep us up to date with the situation on ground.

We pray that may Allah bring what is best for this ummah. Ameen

MESSAGE 2: (From Egyptian Brother)

AOA All brothers;

Very sorry for late reply, but I was totally occupied in past few weeks because of the new situation, please forgive me for being late. Al Hamdu Lellah Egyptians removed this regime and hopefully the people in Libya will follow Insha Allah, then other Muslim countries will follow….

 I hope Muslims will unite now and make sure they don’t do old mistakes again, ,

 Situation is improving day by day now and there is no security issue at all as the media trying to show, its moving better than before for sure.

Some people are trying to gain benefit from this revolution and taking their rights, and some are trying to take whatever they can -:)  regardless of it is their right or not, but those are well know to all.

We hope a person who understands Islam will lead us this time Insha Allah, we are all sure that Islam is the only way for this Umah to come up again and make the world more peaceful.

I hope to live one day to see the whole Muslim countries united under one flag of La Ellah Ela Allah Mohamed Rasul Allah, Amein, 

I will keep you people updated on the situation here, and let’s do what we can to make people understand the beauty of Islam,  and let’s start with ourselves and improve our knowledge about our great religion.

Please come and visit us in Egypt, I will be very happy to see you people again Insha Allah…

                — [Yes, I AM coming brother – Kashif]– Read My Visit & See Photos to Egypt Here

Bahrain Comments (March 2011)

One of my friend who stayed in Bahrain for some time, sent the following comments & photos regarding my blog on Bahrain.

These comments help understand the current situation in Bahrain. Recently unrest has escalated again and Saudi’s have sent their army to curb the protestors. You can understand Saudi Royal family’s interest in protecting Bahraini Royal family which also descends from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Bahraini Bridge King Fahad

“” I stayed for about 4 months in Bahrain on a project in 2002. Attached are some of the snaps of my visit.

Such a small country and that too half occupied by the US naval base (no go area).

You have been very lenient describing the actual purpose of the King Fahad Bridge. You haven’t also described that there is no parking space in hotels on weekends (Thursdays & Fridays) and yet for the remaining five days most of the buildings and hotels are free.

Saudi Cars

The long line of latest car models (never seen in our part of the world) that cross that bridge or road over the weekend is meant to seek the forbidden pleasures available in abundance in Bahrain. Alcohol, wine, women anything is available not just for Saudis but for the entire Gulf elite.

Sunni minority Shah rules the Shiaa majority and has even issued fake passports to Sunni Arab migrants to offset the balance. The only real green parts in Bahrain are around the King’s palace. Large majority of jobs in market and technical areas are occupied by Indians mostly South Indians and they have a very strong hold.

Jaamia Mosque Bahrain

 

Imagine a country surrounded by water all around and yet not one natural sand beach. Overall a pathetic place to live. “”

BELOW are some Video and Photo Links relating to the attrocities in Bahrain:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEw3E3POc7Y&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nI02Z8B1dw

 http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&Id=231659

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&Id=231698

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xNQurFBkKU&playnext=1&list=PL22648D6857A053FB

The End….

Lagos Nigeria Visit – Part 3

(Read Part 2 Here)

Here I am in Lagos, enjoying such a nice country & people. Before I continue, let me tell you a bit about Niger & Nigeria. It is really fascinating: 

Beautiful Islands

Story of NIGER: Country Niger, Delta Niger & River Niger – Majestic & Bizarre:

Once upon a time there was a river called Niger (it still is..), the biggest river in West Africa. This river is a funny character. It passed through a land, so they named it the country Niger. The river continued and passed through another country, now they named the country ummm…. Nigeria. Luckily this was the last country river Niger passed through before passing out into Atlantic Ocean. God knows what they would have called, had it passed through another country!!!

Amazing Route of River Niger

Usually rivers run from high lands towards sea. Strangely, starting only 150 miles from Atlantic Ocean, river Niger runs away from the sea towards Sahara Desert, then just touching it, river takes a sharp right turn, runs toward and falls into the same Atlantic Ocean after covering a long journey of 2600 miles . This phenomenon has baffled the geologists since long. According to a popular theory, Sahara had water thousands of years ago and Niger used to fall into it. Once it dried up, river also gave up on it & ran back to Atlantic Ocean. Hence river Niger’s path formed the most unusual Boomerang shape.

The odd doesn’t end here. This river produces a big in-land delta called “Inner Niger Delta”. Deltas are usually formed where rivers meet the sea. River flow gets slow due to low slope and it spreads its path covering a large area where lakes, marshes, canals and water ways form. But strangely Inner Niger Delta is formed well away from the sea. It takes away two third of river’s water. And as a result produces marshes and lakes as big as Belgium (approx 30,000 Sq KM).

Yet, the river continues further and meets the sea where it produces the biggest river delta on the earth called “Niger Delta”. River Niger, Inner Niger Delta and Niger Delta collectively bring a lot of prosperity for the people of neighbouring countries in the form of fishing, farming, agriculture & transportation.

Cars, Cars, Cars:

Being a heavily populated country I was expecting lots of people on streets of Lagos, as was the case in China. But to my surprise, Lagos roads are choked to death with cars. The situation is almost out of control, especially on the islands. It takes hours just to cover few miles. One good thing I noticed was that despite huge traffic, drivers stay in their lanes by & large. And there was no excessive buzzing of horns either. There were many expensive cars also. Same old story repeats here, majority is poor and minority is rich; a huge unjustified uneven spread of wealth – a fruit of capitalism.

Horrendous Lagos Traffic

Public Transport – Rickshaws, Mini Vans, Buses:

I found all my favourite transports from back home Pakistan present here, and that includes Rickshaws, Lahori mini vans, as well as buses. The only difference was that all the public transport here is coloured yellow for easy recognition.

World’s Bravest Traffic Warden:

I peeped out of Lagos office’s 3rd floor window and noticed a disabled person crawling briskly using roller coaster skateboard  among cars on a very busy junction. A beggar I thought, begging for money. Few hours later and I noticed two, again moving quickly among cars. Both were unable to walk, sitting on a skateboard, and a stick in one hand. Barely visible from inside the car, this is really dangerous I thought. The same evening I passed through the same junction and had the chance to have a close look at them. I was shocked to discover that they were actually controlling the traffic! It was a busy junction without any traffic lights. They would point with stick to one side of traffic to stop and let other side to go. To make sure no one jumps the traffic they would move right in the middle of the road in front of cars using skateboard. It was just so daring act of bravery. Meet the bravest traffic wardens in the world – and they are just volunteers!

Bravest Traffic Warden - A Disabled Person

And I Went Out:

I was a bit scared going out alone initially. Advice was to avoid it. I desperately wanted to go out to see the place in day light and days were running out. Then a day before leaving I decided to go out alone. I wanted to buy souvenirs. There was a famous shopping area where I could buy traditional items. It was only few streets away; I decided to walk to it. A man got to do what a man got to do. So I took directions from a colleague and left the office. It was hot & humid that day. A bit nervously I walked through the streets of Victoria Island. Soon I felt comfortable. It was business as usual around me. Streets busy with cars, people walking around, and street hawkers selling goods. It was pretty much like a busy street in Lahore. I went to the place and bought few items. It was an enjoyable experience.

Traditional Items Stall at Iko Hotel

Syria Masjid & Club:

My friends offered to take me to a halal restaurnt in the evening. It was next to a Mosque called Syria Mosque. We were greeted warmly by the lively owner of the place. Some 40 years ago, this gentleman moved here from Syria. He bought a big piece of land cheaply and established a club. Now in his 60s, he has changed it into an informal restuarant which serves Middle Eastern food & sheesha, etc., a quite popular place for ex-pats, especially muslims. A big mosque is built next to it called Syria Mosque. There is a small playing area fo kids and a football ground which is rented for sports. Indian, Pakistanis play cricket here. This man is a laugh-out-loud kind of jolly person.

Syria Club & Restaurant

Food:

Nigerian food revolves around rice, fish, beaf, palm oil and yam (vegetable similar to sweet potato) and plantin (banana-but-big-&-bland, used as vegetable). It has plenty of coconut, palm, papaya and pineapple. I enjoyed eating here, especially the tasty fresh Papaya, Pineapple & other fresh fruits. I visited different restaurants during my stay here.

Soon it was time to leave. Good bye Lagos, Good Bye Nigeria; see you again!

Visiting Nigeria – Lagos part 2

I Leave for Lagos Nigeria – PART 2

(Read Part 1 Here. It cover information about Nigeria & interesting Wedding Rituals)

Taxi Arrives..

Peeping through my window, I was anxiously waiting for the taxi to take me to airport. i was due to fly to Lagos. It arrived just 5 mins late. Driver was a Pakistani as expected. All seated comfortably, and taxi turns to a small road. Please take the motorway, I requested. Small roads take longer than motorway. He turned to motorway hesitantly. Are you from India? Pakistan I replied. Ooh, City? Village? I answered. Achaaa, me too, he responded excitedly. Gentleman then started telling his story beginning from when he came to UK as a child some 40 odd years ago, his family, friends, land back home… soon he had left the motorway and was running fast down the memory lane. This nostalgia is a disease found commonly in everyone who was born & bred in one country & then migrated to another. Person physically lives in one country but is emotionally attached to another.

Taxi Driver Leaves Motorway and Takes Memory Lane:

More the driver was running down the memory lane, slower he was becoming on the road. Motorway speed limit is 70 miles but I swear he rarely touched 40. It took us quite long to cover just one junction. Here he declared that we must take small road as motorway could become busy unexpectedly; no traffic was visible to me at the time though. Anyway we (more precisely he) took the small road. His adventures on the memory lane accelerated even higher. We stopped on one junction & he literally forgot to drive on. The car behind horned, waking him up. “Oh sorry, I forgot to drive brother, I hope you won’t mind”. Oh no, it is only a flight, I will take the next one I exclaimed. With good luck I made to the flight!

Hamatan means Poor Visibility & Dust Everywhere

Strange Cloudy Fog – Hamatan:

It was an overnight flight. We reached Lagos just before sunrise. It was a bit foggy and dark when we landed on the Lagos airport. Just before touching the runway, plane passed through strange clouds. I have never seen such a cloud like fog so low near the ground. I think it was hamatan, a phenomenon that happens in West Africa in which fine Saharan sand mixes with moisture to create this strange rust colour fog. It happens between December & February, and brings visibility to a minimum.

The Light Goes:

The plane taxied off the runway for a while and then stopped abruptly. Passengers started leaving seats. Suddenly captain speaks; “Passengers please remain seated, we have not reached our gate yet. Actually the taxiway lights have gone unexpectedly therefore we cannot move any further till the lights turn back on.” I looked out of the window. The airport building had gone dark. Welcome to Nigeria. Power load shedding is a common place in Nigeria. Minutes later lights came back on. Soon we were in arrival lounge. Lagos airport is a small & old one, neither too busy nor too gloomy.

Lagos Airport

Airport Security Escort:

I was strictly advised not to leave the airport building at any cost due to security concerns. There was a special security team arranged to receive me at airport & take me to hotel. A representative was supposed to meet & greet me in the luggage hall. I was eagerly looking for someone with my name card but none there. Little concerned, I called the given number, no response. Something not right, suddenly kidnap stories started creeping into my mind. Tiny drops of sweat on my forehead, it was warm weather or?? I left the luggage hall anxiously looking at each face in the crowd, walked to the counter in departure hall where I was asked to go in case of no contact.

The receptionist informed me that the person had gone to collect me at arrivals. Soon he arrived with a big smile on face. He was there with my name card; perhaps my anxiety prohibited me registering him. Sam briefed me about my escort arrangements as well as advised me what to do / not to do on route. Don’t open window, don’t buy anything on the way. In case of emergency stay in the car, etc etc. There was a 4-wheel drive was waiting to carry me and an armed police escort to follow with red & blue flashing lights. Soon we were cruising through Lagos roads. We went through the city, passed the connecting bridges arriving at Islands passing through connecting bridges. Nothing really happened – it was business as usual, except there were a lot of cars on the roads.

Palm Trees in Royal Palace Hotel

Stay in Hotel Royal Palace was a nice experience. I was offered a chair as I reached reception. The receptionist was also sitting on the other side. This was much better than standing in front of a high reception desk after a long tiring journey.

Loud Laughs, Warm Shakes:

Nigerians are very friendly people. They believe in “talk loud & laugh loud”. Nigerians (excludes younger generation) speak good “old” English, as spoken in 60s. British left them in 1960 and this is where Nigerian English is frozen. Emails would start with “Good Day Sir”. Our office in Lagos is small one, within a day everybody knew my name. I was greeted with a warm handshake in the morning. Some people would hold hands, followed by finger hold – an exciting & welcoming handshake.

Lagos Streets – Rikshaw also Available

Wed Next Day:

We were passing near a government building on Thursday morning.  I saw few people gathered in a ceremonial dress, then there was another group & another… My Nigerian colleague explained that this is the marriages registry office & these people have gathered here to get married. Marriages are registered every Thursday. This is how the name of previous day is formed i.e. Wed-next-day = Wednesday. Apparently he was serious, and so were the baraati (marriage attendees).

Meeting the Head of Chee-KuMa Tribe —– Not Really

This is not the head of Chee-Kuma tribe. Poor person is only a door man, wearing traditional African tribal dress. Why is that a door man is always dressed in traditional dress in countries ruled by Britain, e.g. India, Pakistan, Nigeria etc?? And seniors like managers wear suit & tie. Can anyone explain why a poor person standing on the street in the sun has to wear what our forefathers wore as symbol of honour & dignity?? It was done deliberately to humiliate our traditional dresses & local culture to put us in inferiority complex. We should work to reverse this.

OK, rest in next part (READ PART 3 HERE), where you will meet the bravest traffic warden..