Dont Wait; Create You Own Opportunity

“Weak men wait for opportunities; Strong men Create them.”

Dead Wood Doesn’t Move

All of us seek a better job, a business or an opportunity to progress at some stage in our lives. But most of the time we just think about it, sit back and wait for it; wait for it to drop in our lap which rarely if ever happens. Seizing an opportunity is like catching a fish. You need to go to the right spot and drop your fishing rod in the water. Merely wishing to catch a fish won’t work. Similarly, just wishing for an opportunity won’t help. You need to strive for it. Majority of the people I have spoken with would have done nothing or negligible in this regard, yet they anticipate catching one big fish!

Don’t Wait; Create One

If an opportunity doesn’t come to you, don’t wait, create one for yourself. For instance, if desired job isn’t advertised, just approach the suitable employer and present yourself. The possibilities are endless; invention of internet has made it easier than you think. Every company has a website and every person has his credentials on Facebook, Linked-in or something similar. A simple Google search reveals it all. Similarly, 100s of business ideas are there on the internet.

Right Mood?

A phrase commonly heard is “I am not in the right mood now” or “I don’t feel like doing it now”. To be honest, this is just an excuse for something you just don’t want to do. Many important tasks keep pending for days as a result. You don’t accomplish anything if you wait for the right mood. Your mind must know that it has to get down to work. Issue here is not mood, rather an underlying reason prohibiting you. Either you are not convinced that this task is important or you hate doing it, scared of it or don’t feel capable of achieving it; this underlying reason needs addressing in order to fix the mood.

Trick & Treat

OK, I admit, there are certain tasks which I don’t fancy doing, but I had to complete them regardless. For instance, cleaning car is much less desirable than watching news on TV. “A man got to do what a man got to do”. So I don’t wait for the ‘right’ mood, I adjust my mood to the right thing. One trick I use is, I finish the tasks I don’t like first then do the ones I like; in a way rewarding myself for completing an undesirable task.

The Formula

There is only one way to success and that is “Hard Work & Dedication”. There are no short cuts; you have to work diligently on the following, in the same order:

Plan -> Prepare -> Perform -> Pray

Let me explain using the example of seeking a Job:

Plan for it

First thing first, decide what you want to do, be very clear about your goal. Could you start a journey without knowing your destination? This is where most people fail i.e. not being clear about what they want to achieve. You should be certain in which industry, which area and even which company you want to work in. Your goal must be clear. You must be able to state your objective in one single sentence, not in a paragraph. If you can, you are clear on what you want to achieve! This one-sentence test is true for any task you wish to perform, be it small or big.

Prepare for It

Prepare your CV accordingly. Research the organization. Refresh your knowledge of relevant skills & technology. If you are going for a business, make a business plan. Attempting a task without preparation is just like going to a battlefield without a weapon or attempting to catch a fish without bait on the fishing rod.

Perform It (Act upon the Plan)

It would be worse to prepare your CV and then not send it to employers. Or prepare a business plan and then not execute it. Many people plan and prepare but when it comes to taking the action they shy away. Reasons could be many; most common one being the fear, fear of failure or losing. Remember, if you take an initiative there could be two outcomes; either you fail or you succeed. But if you don’t take the initiative there is one & only outcome i.e. you fail, even before starting. By not taking the first step, you ensure your failure. Every journey starts with the first step. Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight elections before winning the presidency of America.  If you want to succeed you have to take risk, take the first step.

Pray

In God we trust. Once you have done all you could do, leave it to God. Pray to God. God helps those who help themselves!

The End..

William Wordsworh’s Lake District

Lake District Part3

(Read Part 2 Here)

 

William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

I was introduced to this romantic English poet when I was studying A levels through his poems Daffodils and “We are Seven”. At the time it didn’t make much sense to me, it still doesn’t, though fully fault of mine, Wordsworth is innocent. He was born and lived here in LD.

Daffodils in Lake District

 

          I wandered lonely as a cloud
          That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
          When all at once I saw a crowd,
          A host, of golden daffodils;
          Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
          Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

I don’t fancy much the Daffodils; there are many more beautiful flowers in my garden. But, the choice belongs to the beholder.

 

 

 

“We are Seven” was the poem that really inspired me, still does. It is the story of an innocent eight years old girl , not aware of the only absolute truth of this life, that is, death. They were seven brother and sisters. Two of them have passed away, buried in the church-yard. But to her they are still part of the family, “We are seven!”

          I met a little cottage Girl:
          She was eight years old, she said;

          How many may you be?”
          “How many? Seven in all,” she said

          Then did the little Maid reply,
          “Seven boys and girls are we; 

          Two of us in the church-yard lie,
          Beneath the church-yard tree.”

          “But they are dead; those two are dead!
          Their spirits are in heaven!”

          ‘Twas throwing words away; for still
          The little Maid would have her will,
          And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

Dove Cottage

 

Wordsworth lived in a house named Dove Cottage. We visited the Dove Cottage which is near to the lake Grasmere. My wife bought a book of her poetry. Kids were more interested in the Frankenstein museum just next door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley, the author of this famous horror novel “Frankenstein” also lived in LD. In her story she describes a person called Frankenstein who creates a monster creature from the bones and fleshes of the dead and gives it life through experiments. Sometimes this monster itself is referred to as Frankenstein which is wrong. Anyway this monster was ugly so human hated him. As a result he started taking revenge from all humans. He, feeling lonely, demands his creator Frankenstein to create a female companion for him. On refusal he starts killing people. Eventually the Frankenstein dies and the monster leave for the North Pole, never to return.

Magnificent Air Force Falls

 

 

Slate & Slatee to Pencil& Rubber

Thousands of years ago, Romans and Egyptians used a rod of hazardous metal ‘Lead’ to write, hence came the name “Lead Pencil”. Few hundred years ago, Lead was replaced by a safer material Graphite. Large deposits of Graphite were discovered in Borrowdale LD (Lake District) in 1564 making this place the centre of Pencil making. To make a pencil Graphite is ground, mixed with clay and shaped like a thin rod, which is then encased in Cedar wood. Sometimes it is mixed with colours to make a colour pencil. Some pencils are crowned with humble rubber as an eraser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge Pencil at Pencil Museum

 

We visited the Pencil Museum in Keswick which houses many articles of history of Pencil industry. It has a 26 feet long colour pencil which was once the longest in world.

Pencil Goes to Space

In early days of space travel, USA spent millions of dollar to invent a ballpoint that would write in weightless space environment. Russians, on the other hand, equipped their astronauts with a pencil; a simple solution to a sophisticated space problem.

 

 

 

Bridge Houe

Bridge House

 

This Bridge House was built in Ambleside in 17th century on a canal in order to save Land tax! A novel idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castlerigg Stone Circles

Castlerigg Stone Circles

 

These stone circles were built 1000s of years ago, probably for worshipping.

 

 

 

 

The End..

Slate Mine in Lake District

Lake District Part 2

(Read Lake District Part 1 Here)

Mining in Lake District

 

A Pond inside a Slate Mine

 

Have you ever gone inside a mine? If not please do so. It is an amazing experience. LD (Lake District) Mountains had many mines, most notable and still operational one is Slate mine. Slate is a very fine grained smooth surface stone, usually greyish but also available in other colours. It is mainly utilize d as building material especially as roof stone plates because it is durable. We used it as a pencil to write on a black metal plate when we were young. Not sure if it is still in use somewhere for writing.

People of LD area were quite poor if we go a few decades back. Their main livelihood came from farming and animal growing mainly sheep and cow. Mining was one of means to earn living even though it was very dangerous, demanded harsh labour and paid very little. Miners would walk to the mine site from as far as 40 miles in hilly terrain. They would bring two weeks food packed at their back; maximum they could carry. Food consisted of mainly bread & boiled potatoes which would go mouldy after few days but they had to eat it, there was no other option. They would work inside the mine dawn to dusk, everyday with Christmas as their only holiday. The work was carried out by the whole family; all of them lived inside for weeks to save time.

Mine Tunnel

There was no electricity so work was carried out manually in poor lighting of lamps or candles. The process of mining began with digging a hole in a rock. Young would hold a heavy metal rod in place and adults would hit it with a heavy hammer.  After digging a hole, it was filled with gun powder and blasted from a safe distance to break off a big chunk of slate rock. It was left overnight to settle because explosion usually disturbed a large area and it sometimes made rocks fell from top killing miners. This blast would damage the broken slate, usually wasting up to 90%. The remaining good slate was carried back by adults to sell. They would earn small amount at the end of a hard day’s labour if lucky, nothing otherwise. And working conditions, it was pitch dark, hot and humid with no ventilation inside a mine; they used candles to see what they were doing. Their lungs failed at early age (40s) because of inhaling fine dust, if they survived till then from other diseases, falling rocks, and gun powder accidents. Children suffered frequently from accidents. But disabled children were good for the family, they could beg on streets; a far better option than inside.

A Beautiful Slate House

The finished slate was cut in different sizes and given names e.g. empresses was 26 x 16 inches and small lady was 14 x 8 inches. It was then exported to Britain as well rest of the world. The conditions inside mines have imporved condiderably now days. The mine safety is regulated and monitored closely, at least in modern countries.

Honister Slate Mine Visit:

Honister Pass & Romantic Street - B5289

We visited the only working “Honister Slate Mine” in LD. It is situated on top of the Honister Pass in Borrowdale area. The valley and the area around are unique & stunningly beautiful. We approached the mine via a long narrow mountainous road called Romantic Street, similar to hilly roads in Kashmir. Dark greyish green debris of waste slate stone around the mine is visible from miles, much like a mole on a charming face. One stunning path of Honsiter Pass continues down the valley. Low clouds reminded me of Nathia Gali. After parking our car we saw a bus climbing the mountain. We wondered where this bus is heading to. After passing through the mine shop, we landed in a room that had miners’ high-visibility jackets and safety helmets lined up. We were greeted by Mark Weir, the late owner of Honister mine. Yes he died only 3 months ago. It was his video recorded message.

 

Bus to Honister mine Entrance

 

Soon we were sitting in the same bus going up the hill to visit the mine. A young lady led a group of 20 inside the mine tunnel. Soon we were browsing through the inside tunnels and halls where mining has been done. The mining is conducted in a systematic layered way. A section is mined, then next section is skipped in order to make sure the mine roof doesn’t collapse. We wondered in the caves for some time. The lady guide showed us tools used inside, both old & new. It was dark inside and tunnel roof was low. I banged my quite a few times, thanks God I had helmet on. We brought back few stones as memories, now on displayed in our drawing room, come & have a look (by appointment only!).

Inside Honister Slate Mine

 OK, the LD visit continues. Read about Pencil Making, Wordsworth and other interesting things in next blog.

Lake District in Winter

The End of Part 2.

Lake District

(Part 1)

The Most Stunning Natural Beauty in England

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I have been living in England for years and have travelled to many parts but somehow Lake District kept escaping, even though it is officially the most scenic place in England. My wife nagged me so much that we ended up here for a week long holidays. Before starting let me explain where it is and what it is:

–          A small area (40 x 33 miles) in North of England. This is the last district before Scotland starts.

–          It is stunningly beautiful area filled with lakes, forests and mountains.

–          There are about 50 lakes here, Windermere being the largest in England.

–          It has the highest English mountain Scaffell Pike, nearly 3,209 feet high.

–          It is the wettest place in England with highest rainfall.

Click to Enjoy the Beauty

One sunny morning we left for LD (Lake District), with a car full of clothes, foods, toys and lots of noise. It was a nice 350 miles long journey; there was not much traffic on roads. Our first stop was after 250 miles at a service station. It was built in such a way that seating areas was right above the motorway, so you could enjoy food while watching traffic passing through. People were quite excited about motorways when M1 the first one was built in UK back in 1959. They started having picnics on the hard shoulder (service lane). Having picnic next to fast moving traffic wasn’t a safe idea. Result was obviously few fatal accidents. UK government made it against the law to stop on a motorway without reason. We enjoyed coffee & ice cream here, staying above the law & traffic!

Soon we left the motorway and took a small road into LD hills. Suddenly I saw a strange bird similar to stealth making funny movements across the horizon on top of the hills. It must be a big kite I thought. Few meters down the road I saw signs for an Air Festival.  There was an air show going on in the area. It was an actual plane, a “Vulcan Bomber” designed & built by Britain in 1952. For the next few days we enjoyed many air shows from our window. It was happening on Lake Windermere where we were staying.  I was surprised to see this activity in the hilly area. On enquiry, a local lady told that Royal Air force has a base here and they practice here regularly.

Vulcan Bomber

Bowness on Windermere

We stayed in a small town called Bowness situated on Lake Windermere’s shores.  Using it as a base for the whole week we travelled through the LD enjoying many forests and lakes ranging from as small as a football ground to as big as we could run marathon around it. The biggest lake is Lake Windermere which is 11 miles long, 1 mile wide and 220 feet deep. One day we ended up in Coniston, the most stunning area. It is on the other (western) side of the Lake Windermere. There is no bridge on this lake. Going across from one side to another takes very long time because of narrow hilly roads around it.  A ferry service links both sides which is used by cars and foot passengers. We took the ferry back to Bowness. While on board I noticed a rope running in water on both sides of the ferry. This was strange; I asked one crew member, what is it for? There is no engine in this ferry. It is pulled with these two ropes, he replied. Once ferry docks on the shore, the rope is lowered to the bottom of the lake to let other boats and ferries pass across.

Windermere

Kayaking on Windermere

One day my daughters insisted we must do kayaking in Windermere. Kayak is a small boat rowed with 1 Oar (rowing stick). Idea was that they will kayak and I will watch, safely at shore. I have forgotten swimming now (never knew much anyway) so was scared with the very idea but their insistence persuaded me too. I asked the person at sports centre if it is safe. It is safe for even 7 years old. Do you really mean this? I confirmed this 3 times. Positive he replied.  So I decided to be brave and took my 7 years old daughter as partner. Surprisingly it was quite enjoyable experience in the end. Initially we stayed at shores but then started venturing a far also.

Kayaking in Windermere

Romantic Street – B5289

B5289, a road starting from Keswick is so beautiful that it is termed as Romantic Street. It is a narrow road passing through lush green jungles, Lake Derwent, other small lakes, little towns and valleys. Once in a low valley Borrowdale & passing by the Honister Yew Tree Restaurant, it starts climbing up the Honister Pass. The scenery changes from lush green lands and high trees to unimaginable low bushes terrain. I don’t know why it is but it is stunning. The Honister Pass is all worth visiting. The Romantic Street continues, I wish I could have gone further but there was not much time left before sunset so I turned back. Honister Slate Mine is also situated here.

High Lands in Honister Valley

Read Honister Mine Visit in Part 2

Ramadhan in Cairo

(Read My Previous Visits to Cairo Here)I was happy that I did not need to travel in Ramadhan (month of fasting) this year (2011). It is difficult to go to a foreign land and arrange for suhar (fast starting meal before sun rise) & iftaar (fast breaking meal after sunset) and keep fast. But what has to happen has to happen. Just a week before Eid I was asked to travel to Egypt. Partly I was happy because I was going to a Muslim country. It would be nice to see & feel Ramadhan spirit there. I have celebrated Ramadhan in Iran (Read Iran Visit), Germany & Sweden in past.

Pyramids from Hotel Window

Long Long Fast

Soon I was on a flight to Cairo. I arranged my flights in such a way that I could eat iftaar food on the plane. The fast duration shortens when you travel towards east. Going to Cairo was easier, my fast shortened by 1 & half hour, I was happy. The captain announced at the time of sunset and we were served with dates and water by Egypt Air crew, followed by yummy hot meal.

 

It was tough on the way back though. My fast expanded by hours. We were flying with the sun and it was not setting down! So much so that we were circling over London city waiting for our turn to land and people below had broken fast but we couldn’t because sun was visible from above. (Heathrow airport is so busy that planes have to queue to land and wait for long time up to 20 mins). I kept asking one crew member again and again, is it time? He was also fasting and serving passengers with visibly dry lips. He kept comforting me, don’t worry I will tell you. But time only came when we were literally going down for landing. He gave me (& others fasting) a bag of food and then sat down on his seat for landing. As I understand, while travelling fast is started & ended based on the local timings wherever you happen to be at the time.

Decorated Cairo for Ramadhan

Wrong Iftaar,  KGB & Girl

This reminds me of an Uzbekistan Airways flight I took from Karachi to London via Tashket in 1996. It was Ramadhan and I was fasting. We were flying above Europe somewhere. When the iftaar time came according to Pakistan where I had started my fast, I declared that I have to break fast and that hostess must serve me the food, which she did indeed. Though sun was shining loud & clear outside. I persuaded or rather commanded the girl sitting next to me to break the fast also. May Allah forgive me for that.

Talking about that girl, she was studying in Birmingham. We stopped in Tashkent for a stopover. It was an old rusty airport. There were many old planes laying on ground, rotting away. Suddenly police took that girl away for some kind of investigation. I was a bit scared; Russian KGB’s reputation is not that good. She was released just before we boarded our flight for London. I enquired her as she sat next to me. There was something about my passport they were not sure, she replied.

Ramadhan Decoration

Egyptian Celebrations & Decorations

OK, coming to the subject, Ramadhan in Cairo. Sign of Ramadhan were evident in the city. Mosques were decorated with lights and the streets were also prettified with colourful flags and buntings (jhudiyan) similar to what is done on Eid Milad ul Nabi SAW in Pakistan. This was nice. Shopping was also on the rise, especially after iftaar. All buildings including offices & hotels were decorated inside also. All displaying colourful Lanterns and other beautiful ornaments. Fanoos or Lantern is a must for children. Kids used to make these during Ramadhan traditionally which were lit with candles. Tradition goes on; though China makes lanterns now and these are lit with Bulb and Batteries.

 

 

 

Lanterns or Fanous

Foods

There are some foods which are only made during Ramadhan. These include special Baqlawa (Arabic sweets) and some bakery items which include Qatayef, Feteer and Kunafah. Feteer is a layered pastry like bread. It was present at the suhar so I ate it. Then there is Konafah; my favourite. It is a sweet made with layers of vermicelli (savaiaan) with cheese or cream in the middle; so yummy, the best I tried was in Jordan.

The end of fast was traditionally announced with cannon from top of Citadel at Moqattam hills but not anymore; the voice of azaan does the job.

The hotel was offering sahri breakfast from 3 am. I went down to the hall and filled myself with all sorts of foods especially Foul Medemes, a traditional breakfast Egyptian dish made with red beans, (similar to cholay – chickpeas). It was excellent in keeping hunger away for hours. There were not many people on suhar.

Kunafah & BasBoosa

 

Famous Egyptian Museum

I was staying very next to Ahraam (Pyramids). I wanted to visit these but weather was too hot to go. Instead I visited the mummies in famous Egyptian Museum.  This is an excellent museum filled with 1000s of historical items. There are many mummies in it including Ramesses 2 which is commonly believed to be the Farrow (Firaon) that involved with Moses (Musa AS) but this is probably not true. He is kept in a separate room and requires $15 fees in addition to normal fees. I didn’t bother going in, no charm for me, keep waiting Ramesses 2Ramesses II Ramesses II Ramesses II Ramesses II Ramesses II Ramesses II Ramesses II. No doubt he is the most famous Firaon who lived a rather long life of 90 years and witnessed many his children die before passing away. He ruled for nearly 66 years. Egyptians usually removed their kings after 30 years, Mubarak went after 30, is it a coincidence or….

infront of Egyptian Museum

An interesting fact is that there is no hard metal (such as iron) object present in the museum; mostly these are gold or silver. It is surprising how they carved stones and built huge pyramids without any hard tools. Looking at the objects makes it clear that they were quire advanced in many aspects like designing, building, furniture, fabrics, stitching etc etc. I saw King Tutankhamun’s underwear (didn’t touch it!). Its stitching is so unimaginably fine that it looks like machine made though it is only 3300 years old. And this King had a folding bed which accompanies him on travels. It is a shame that taking pictures is not allowed. I smuggled the camera inside but didn’t use it.

 

Egyptian Museum – Main Hall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read my next Visit (Sept 2011) Here