The Exquisite Art of making Tobacco-Hookah

Principally, this article should have started from the history of Hookah, its evolution and altered types being smoked in different regions followed by method of making it, but no. Wikipedia would serve this purpose in a detailed way. It has a Persian origin and was introduced to us through Mughal Emperors. In Pakistan, it is smoked in all provinces, Punjab and KP being on top. You go anywhere in Punjab, rural life is considered incomplete without delicacy of tobacco-hookah. People smoke it as a food-digester, a hobby, a symbol of culture and last but not the least, addiction.

Coming to the point, a step-wise pictorial demonstration of making a tobacco-hookah is explained in the text. Following are the seven things you will need while preparing it:

  1. Hookah Assembly having water bowl, pipe and wind-guard
  2. Tobacco
  3. Jaggery (Shakar/Gurr)
  4. Coal
  5. Cold Water
  6. Kerosine Oil
  7. Tongs

Step One:

The first step is burning the coal. Take about 6-8 pieces of coal, ignite them using Kerosine oil. Air would be needed for efficient combustion, using a pedestal fan is favourable. Burn them till they glow red. Keep some pieces partially/slightly burnt, they would be needed later.

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Step Two:

The coal-bowl has to be prepared in the next step. It is placed at the top of hookah assembly and carries coal. Place appropriate amount of tobacco in the coal-bowl, and over it sprinkle some pieces of jaggery or any other sweet so that the pungent smell of tobacco in the smoke, hence cough, can be avoided. The coal bowl is shown in the image.

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Step Three:

Now it’s the time to put coal in the coal-bowl. First place the partially burnt and slightly burnt coal pieces, so that the tobacco does not come in direct contact with the burnt coal, else hookah would have shorter life. This is very important, if burnt coal is placed directly on tobacco, it would burn very early and the hookah will die. The coal-bowl should have the following things, in sequence from the inner-most: tobacco, jaggery, slightly burnt coal, burnt coal. The coal-bowl is now ready. Cover it with the wind-cover so that coal remains inside the bowl. Wind cover has a small opening which allows air and hence further slow combustion of coal.

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Step Four:

Remove the water bowl from the hookah assembly and fill it with cold water. The colder the water, tastier would be the hookah. Some people put ice along with water in the water bowl. Now tie it to the hookah-assembly and set the water level for comfortable air suction through the pipe. After that, place the coal-bowl above the assembly.

 

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You very own delicious hookah is ready.

 

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*Health Warning: Tobacco causes cancer and lung diseases, but culture is important too.*

Stories from the Jungle

The present government of Punjab, empowered by our very own votes, has been in power since last 8 years while in a native village of Kasur called Ganda Singh Wala, children of age less than 17 are being abused and filmed for the last 10 years. For the last 10 years! This horrific act is believed to be supported by local members of the Parliament and the police officials. These films were being sold in Kasur and in foreign countries too. Above 400 video recordings have been discovered and a lot more might be on the way, which were used to blackmail families of the children.

A same event from the past, when Javed Iqbal abused and murdered more than 100 innocent children, occurred in Lahore. The Child Protection Laws were same at that time, as they are now, and God knows till when they would remain the same. Meanwhile, our law makers in the Parliament were busy making and amending laws that “directly affect” the common man like becoming Prime Minister more than three times and passing resolutions regarding the “Sovereignty” of Parliament. Just some months have passed when Peshawar incident took place, a week of promises, security and protection, and then back to the same cocained brains.

I know you have already guessed what would happen after a few days of this incident. The same which happens after every tragic incident that takes place, after that a long anesthesia-tic silence of the nation till the next incident, and so on. An investigation committee would be formed or an “impartial” judicial enquiry would take place. These committees are likely to have the IOs (Investigation Officers) of similar rank and training, as of the Regional Police Officer (RPO­) of the region where this incident took place. All RPOs who have been posted to this region during the last 8 years remained unaware of the culprits? What could be the best ever finding/recommendation of the investigators? Whatever it would be, would make no difference to the children or the doers. It should just have the ability to make our TV screens red for a couple of hours and let every news channel broadcast the report results “first, like no other channel”. The best ever solution our government has to any of the problems from observing free-and-fair elections to starting safe polio campaigns and forming political unions is to hand it over to the army, and most probably this case would be referred to military courts, because the judiciary is best for resolving “un-baised” political cases. Talking about us of nation as a whole, let a thrilling T-20 series come and see how it wipes out this incident from our minds.

Press Release: Handwritten with Love

                                                     PRESS RELEASE

Sana Khalid
Chief Executive Officer
Minerva
+92 331 523 7021
sana.k@minervites.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Stamp collectors, handwriting experts and analysts, calligraphy artists, writers and all those who feel that the dying art of handwritten letters has left a void, will be able to gather under one roof, at the Handwritten With Love Exhibition on Sunday, 5 April 2015, in Islamabad.
This extraordinary exhibition features a number of unique handwritten letters, notes, musical scores and texts – recent and those of historical significance, from individuals from different walks of life, including music, politics, science, mathematics and literature. Featured writers who have written exclusively for the exhibition include Mr Talat Hussain, senior journalist, Ms Judith Ravin, the Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy, Mr Abbas Ali Khan and Mr Arieb Azhar, popular music artists, and Mr Asad Umar, popular political leader.
Visitors will also be able to muse on reproduced manuscripts of Beethoven, Einstein, and Ibn-e-Sina among others, and will get the opportunity to read excerpts from letters exchanged between Jinnah and his wife, Jinnah and Gandhi, Allama Iqbal and Jinnah and so on.

The exhibition is being held as part of the Handwritten With Love Campaign initiated by ASAP Mail Service, a new postal service in the city, in collaboration with Minerva, one of Islamabad’s most prominent social enterprises operating since 2011. The campaign initially commenced as a small endeavor in response to the APS Peshawar attacks, to encourage people to write letters of support to survivors and families of martyrs but soon gained momentum turning into a nationwide campaign encouraging people to connect with everyone they love. As the campaign started growing, we decided to broaden the scope and turn it into an exhibition of letters, manuscripts, notes, and texts, explained Sana Khalid, founder of ASAP Mail Service and curator of the exhibition.
‘There is something about a handwritten letter that e-mails, texts, tweets and posts cannot replace. It somehow feels more personal; more permanent; and gives a lot of insight into the mind of the writer. The size of the alphabets, the slope, the loops, the stress on the paper, the paper itself, the scent, scribbled out words – they all add character and life to words,’ she added.
The exhibition is being curated at Minerva in Islamabad and is a must-attend event for everyone.

The Meaning of Life…

Inspired by the style of Saadat Hasan Manto and Javed Chaudhary. Based on a true story, one of these brothers told me!

Din Muhammad entered his house, being late than the routine time and asked his wife, “I didn’t earn a single penny today; the factory has been closed for six months due to fund shortage, sold my bicycle and got 2500 rupees which would be enough for…, is there anything in the kitchen to eat?”. He was fifty, having a supportive family of two twin-sons Ehsaan and Ahmad. He was living a satisfactory life, a small 5-Marla house of his own, which he got from his father and a job, no more, which could do for his food.

Din was a man with steel nerves. This determined, hardworking and motivated father started a job of bus-conductor in the village and used to sell vegetables in the evening to support his family, being the only earning man. The only thing, after food of course that forced him to work sixteen hours a day was the education of his sons. His sons were his only asset, something on which he could invest for the future. Ehsaan and Ahmad were admitted in the government school in the neighbor village, 3 miles away from their home. Both had a God-gifted mind, sense and maturity. They secured distinction in the middle board exam of eighth class, and got scholarship up to intermediate.

“Your father is sick and didn’t go to work yesterday”, Ahmad’s mother told him. She was a religious lady, had everything having nothing! And the trust in God made her strong enough to face such bitter situations. “Eat this, and leave half for your brother. Your father will go to work today and bring food when you return from school.” She handed him bread with pickle to eat. He said his Fajar prayer and left for school with his brother.

It was the belief on themselves, confidence and determination that kept Din Muhammad’s family going. The trust in God and the trust in their own self was their source of contentment, and the weapon which gave them power to fight the circumstances they were facing. Days passed and the critical ups and downs were preparing them for their future. Passing the Bachelor of Arts exam, being a private candidate from Punjab University, both brothers got passed with exceptionally good marks.

Both of them went for the Civil Service exam, Ehsaan passed it in the first give, and Ahmad got through in his next try after two years. Today Ehsaan is serving as a Deputy Commissioner in Pakistan Administrative Services PAS, which was previously known as District Management Group DMG, an elite cadre of Civil Service of Pakistan. He is in Lahore these days doing the Senior Management Course. His brother Ahmad is serving in Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) as Assistant Superintendent of Police, now-a-days posted in the same village where his father used to sell vegetables.

Knowing your Power!

1Knowledge is power.

We have been listening to this sentence since childhood. It is multidimensional; meaning depends upon how you perceive it and to which school of thought you belong to. The word ‘knowledge’ needs a little attention here. Knowledge simply means ‘being aware of something’. Now why you believe that your knowledge is power? If you are aware of something, how is it your power? Or how can you convert your knowledge to your power?

The sole purpose of gaining knowledge in your life is to know yourself and to know the Creator. Different levels of knowledge, depending on the level of thinking, lead to know yourself and ultimately to know the Creator. An average man and an intellectual both will have different levels of knowledge and different observations on a specific phenomenon, but knowledge of both will converge at the same concluding point, knowing them and knowing the God according to the understanding of knowledge they have gained.

So, you’ve used your knowledge and understanding to know yourself and furthermore to know God, now the next step is trust. The role of knowledge was up to this point, beyond that it is the “trust” which you have on God, and that trust acts as a source of ultimate power. In any of the daily matters, you don’t have to worry about anything, yes anything! Because you know He is always with you. Even if something is going really opposite to what you want, you know that He is looking on the matter, and He surely does what suits you best, He knows and you know not. In our routine life we usually try to cope up with the things on our own and sometimes things get on our nerves. We forget that He is there; we should at least leave the results on him after best of our efforts, that’s what real power is. Still, we think that things are wholly dependent on us, we alone can handle them. This is a very wrong perception, and if we, due to some pretty reason, lose at the end, we consider ourselves loser, neglecting the fact that our Creator will always be here to mould the things in best of our interest.

Nothing can make us more powerful than just a belief, that our Creator is supervising our life. We don’t have to worry; we just have to know Him and trust Him. This concludes knowledge, as a bridge between man and Creator, which results in development of trust on Creator, as the most powerful thing a human being can have. Can you think of any other thing you can have, more powerful than this? Than your Creator deciding your matters? Certainly not.

Here, these verses of the Holy Quran are worth mentioning. Allah (Subhan-a-wa-ta’ala) says in Surah Zumar:

“Only the men of understanding are mindful” (39 : 9)

In the same Surah Zumar:

“Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the cloud, then makes it go along in the earth in springs, then brings forth therewith herbage of various colors, then it withers so that you see it becoming yellow, the He makes it a thing crushed and broken into pieces? MOST SURELY THERE IS A REMINDER IN THIS FOR MEN OF UNDERSTANDING” (39 : 21)

Ever Green Problems of Our Pakistan

 

 

Faith, Unity, Discipline

With the independence of our country Pakistan, we have been suffering from such problems that have been with us since 1947. They are obvious, they are clear, they are logical, still we don’t have the solution; either we don’t want to solve them, or we don’t consider them as problems.

Starting from the system of Pakistan, it has never been stable. Three constitutions changed from time to time; based on particular school of thoughts of our leaders. This concludes that man-made constitution can never be accurate. They always have flaws which are hidden, and become visible after some time, and such flaws are undetectable by majority. The dictators’ interruption, representing their way of thinking that democratic governments are never perfect, represents another disagreement to our systems made by different leaders.

Education has been and is the second most alarming problem of our country. If a foreigner asks me, “What system of education your country has?” I will not be able to answer and start pondering what should I answer? We have boards of education? Cambridge? Madrissa’s? We have English or Urdu as medium of instructions? One school starts teaching English from playgroup, and the other from grade 6?  National language is Urdu, but all the offices of country whether private or public/government issue notifications in/use English. Our representative goes to United Nations and speaks in English. Chinese use their language rather hate English, French and Spanish speak their language. I go out in the market of my capital city Islamabad, and read sign board “Keep your city clean”, am I in England? This behavior has changed the mind of our people. One who can speak English is intelligent, and he is successful, hardworking and deserving, in reality he might be nothing. Mother tongue enhances the creativity of human mind, and foreign language minimizes it. On the other side, you are making your students give exam under Cambridge University. Are you making British citizens out of them?

Interest based economy is another silent problem of our country. Being an Islamic Republic, and following the Objectives Resolution, nothing in our system should be against Islam. And you can well imagine how complex problems our economy is facing. You have got a Rs. 5000 note in your pocket today, and the next day its value is Rs. 2500! The note is the same, with a degraded value.

All the other problems are the reactions/production of the main problems mentioned above. If a system has flaws, everything running under that system would definitely be problematic; resulting in corruption, mismanagement, illiteracy, bad governance, political preferences, poverty and discontinuity in policies.

The Dark Side of Technological Advancement

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As the technology is advancing, the purity in human character is declining continuously. Technology is responsible for creating enormous gaps in the society where we live. This change has isolated every individual human being and restricted its interaction. Postman has been replaced by a mobile, and rest by a laptop with a World Wide Web connection, and ignoring both things, you can have a smart phone. The emoticons have taken the place of human emotions, which fundamentally differentiates human beings and robots.

This originates a particularly “programmed behavior” in human beings. You have time only for yourself, and that too is short. Your daily routine is programmed, like a loop, and if you try to go against it, it seems to nullify your productivity and shows that you are in loss. The concept of neighbors seems orthodox. Instead of sharing happiness and sorrows, you don’t even know what happened to the one who lives next to you. After some months, you write a text message and show your concern in his matter, having a sad-faced smiley. Likewise, you store your birth date in your smart phone; it wishes you a Happy Birthday on your birthday in the same way as your neighbor will wish you on a text message accurately at midnight provided that you are his facebook friend. So where is the difference between “programmed” human being and your smart phone? It is a cycle in which we are constrained, and technology stands responsible for it.

Online wishes, online shopping, online banking, online matrimonial services, online designing, online social networks, online conferences, online meal delivery services, online job applications, online tests, online lectures, name any service and the technology is trying to add “online” before it to isolate human beings. The idea of online surgery is now under research. The concept of human, being a “social animal” is now obsolete and technologically speaking, you are “social” enough if you have a laptop and an internet connection.  And if you don’t have a mobile or internet for some period of time, you are dead. This shows how the technology has locked human in a room, where he can live alone for whole life, without feeling that he is isolated; being “virtually” social.

Lastly take example of the latest apple iPhone 5, having Bluetooth service only for your headset, not allowing you to share even files with others via Bluetooth, making you isolated in every way it can! So all this discussion concludes lack of emotions, rudeness, self-centered behavior and programmed life in human beings opposite to what nature wants.