Posted on January 20, 2017
The other day I was sharing with my friends that the strength of our country’s foreign policy can simply be analyzed by the experience of a common citizen’s visit to Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad, Pakistan. My office driver was telling me that before 1994 it was not an area with huge castle high boundaries and everyone could go there. He was telling me wonderful stories of hippies and foreigners whom he has been interacting with when he used to be a cab driver in Islamabad.
“We used to have one or two passengers for whole day and that would have earned enough money for us to spend a luxurious and healthy day”, he said.
I was picturing the past of whole area as “a wonderful and peaceful place to visit” while listening to his stories. Minutes later I was looking at senior citizens waiting for Shuttle Service on different road corners of Diplomatic Enclave. Those finely dressed men and women were standing by road side, waiting for bus as being common citizen they weren’t allowed to bring their cars inside the Diplomatic Enclave. Security concerns are rightly taken into consideration by concerned authorities but still revenue from Shuttle Service can be used by authorities to provide at least proper bus stops where our senior citizens can sit reasonably to wait for bus. How can we even expect the respect of Green Passport at foreign Airports when we aren’t able to negotiate the SOPs of consulates, embassies and Foreign missions residing in Pakistan to balance “respect element” for our own citizens? Hope to see some positive measures by Foreign Office, SP Security Diplomatic Enclave Office and CDA in near future to facilitate citizens in this regard.
By Raza Ahmed Sukhera
Posted on December 21, 2016
Mr.Z a.k.a. Zeeshan Arif Siddiqui talk to Wings & Strokes about his recent travels and experiences. Traveling teaches you a lot, not just about the world but also you may find aspects to your personality that you were unaware of. Traveling is the best way to find yourself. Zeeshan in his earlier promise to enlighten you all about #dreamticket is finally putting it all down into words. He has been very busy lately with exams but the wait was definitely worth it. Read on to know more about it 🙂
W&S: Tell us about #DreamTicket and how did that happen?
Mr.Z: #DreamTicket is a Dream-Come-True. It is basically a collective ticket(s) to a few (just a few) amazing, adventurous, beautiful and worth-visiting destinations that God has created for us to explore. It is not very often that you get to explore so many places, all at once, best thing is knowing that your trip is sponsored.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank #OriflamePakistan, my side business for cosmetics, through which I had earned enough to spend on this trip, which is why I am always looking for so many young energetic prospects, to brief them about how they can also earn using simple methods and techniques, without any investment.
Thanks to my boss (at work – ZonG) too for having faith in me and my work and allowing me to experience this wonnnnnnderful trip! J
It could have been just the places visited, food eaten and photos taken kinda trip, had it not been planned as I did. Thanks to #Google for I could plan every second in every city in every country visited.
W&S: Tell us about places you visited
Mr.Z: The itinerary included 6 countries – Netherlands (also called Holland), Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and France.
Specifically speaking about the cities everywhere, in Netherlands I got to visit Amsterdam, Utrecht, s-Hertoghenbosch and Boxtel. In Portugal it was just Lisbon (also called Lisboa). In Spain it was Barcelona, Lloret de Mar, Palafolls and Blanes. In Italy I got a chance to visit Rome, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Milan and Como Lago. Only Zurich in Switzerland and Paris in France.
W&S: What was the most fascinating thing about your journey?
Mr.Z: The most fascinating thing was meeting myself. I had never traveled and visited a lot of places alone before. From thinking of what to do, to actually making the bookings, arrangements and finally experiencing them all was enchanting. I had never thought I could do most of these things.
If I would have to pick one most fascinating thing out of all that I did, it would be Scuba Diving (Deep Sea Diving) near Lloret de Mar beach in Spain. Experiencing the navy blue water, with schools of fish passing you by, touching and literally rubbing the sand at the extreme base of ‘THE’ Mediterranean Sea was a one of a kind experience. The corals, the sea weeds, the cold water and the sight of the giant sea was AMMMMMAZING. What surprises me the most is that it did not make me nervous even for a single second, which makes me believe now to the fullest that I do NOT have Water Phobia Alhamdolillah! J
W&S: Best place according to you and why?
Mr.Z: I would rate #DisneyLandParis in France as the best place during my trip. I believe that growing up in the 90’s, we #The90sBabies, have well absorbed all the Walt Disney characters in our blood. Not only that the rides were amazing, the souvenir shops every few steps away, the costumes, the Disney characters that you get to meet and take a photo with, the photos in the adventurous rides, the food shops, the Disney Parade and last but not the least the Fireworks and Laser Show at day end, these are known to be a signature of #DisneyLand – all were soooo exciting that you would easily get goose bumps and tears in your eyes for having been blessed to experience this in your lifetime.
W&S: Best cuisine you had and where?
Mr.Z: Didn’t get time to try different cuisines as I hardly ever try new food anywhere I go. Plus on this trip, food was not on my priority list and hence I had planned intentionally not to waste much on food (which wasn’t possible since I’m a foodie) J
But so far as what I remember the best I had was in Milan, right next to the hotel where I stayed. It was desi food, made by Muslims from India. They specially made Parathas for me, which were not on their menu and I had those with White Chanay J. I would love to visit them again if ever I get a chance.
W&S: Any life changing experiences during your trip?
Mr.Z: This is a tough question but I would still think of something. I feel nauseous whenever I am travelling (even on the plain roads) lol. But after this trip one thinks of investing in traveling and exploring the world. Alhamdolillah – all thanks to Allah for a beautiful house that we have, which makes me focus on saving for my next endeavors.
Insha Allah I am hopeful that I would win trips soon from the company I am working for and I would love to plan each tiny detail for them again and spend my savings there. This is one life changing experience, as I had never planned of exploring this beautiful wide world earlier.
W&S: Advice on how to make the most of a trip for aspiring travelers and how to plan it?
Mr.Z: I would say traveling to beautiful places to relax from the busy routines that we have, “DOES NOT” mean that we have to waste time sleeping there. Every minute in every city in every country should be planned and strictly followed. I believe that is the best how one can make the most of a trip.
For cheap flights bookings, there are a lot of websites. My personal favorite has been www.skyscanner.net. I had also explored a lot of websites to check the accommodation bookings and expenses. In this regard I liked www.booking.com the most. For the activities and places to visit in any part of the world I searched Google and also apps like #Triposo and #TripAdvisor. Not only that they would tell you the amazing places to see, things to do, things not to do, language, temperature, currency, even the electricity voltage by default and the socket shapes in those countries.
Thanks to Google for easy online bookings for the theme parks, activities, museums, etc. which saves us a LOTTTTT of time for not standing in the long queues anywhere we go.
I made a file and captioned it #DreamTicket and filled it with all my tickets, booking passes, hotel bookings, flights tickets, boarding passes, museum tickets, theme park tickets, water sports activities tickets, trains tickets, buss tickets, etc. This gives you a feeling that you are well-prepared and also lets you know about the spare time slots you have for the things to do, that you actually get to know once you are there.
W&S: Which place do you think is vastly overrated?
Mr.Z: I believe #Switzerland was vastly overrated. I happened to visit #Zurich. It was beautiful, people were nice and polite, roads were clean, buildings were great BUT I could not find natural beauty there as we had always thought about since our childhood listening to the word SWITZERLAND. Perhaps that’s because such places do not exist in the main cities but in the suburbs and I did not get time to visit the suburbs.
After all you make an image of every place that you visit, before you visit it. So Switzerland was totally not what I expected it to be like, but still it was a visit of a lifetime – an experience of a kind. J
W&S: Most memorable moment during your journey?
Mr.Z: Most memorable moments were a few – hard to define just one. I made some new friends. There is someone I met in Amsterdam, who was an English teacher in Ireland, but was basically from Brazil and we became very good friends.
I happened to meet a professional song writer and singer in Lisbon, Portugal, who was visiting there from NYC. It was a great time exchanging ideas with him too.
I never knew I could do Scuba Diving easily. But my instructor in Lloret de Mar was one amazing person that I’ll always remember.
Made a new Muslim friend in Barcelona, who was visiting from Paris but was basically from Morocco – that I happened to meet again in Paris. Isn’t it amazing? Making a new friend and getting to meet the same person twice – both in different countries – during the same trip???
I also happened to meet a caricature artist in Florence, Italy and it was fun getting a caricature made in just 20 minutes.
Happened to meet and befriend another artist in Zurich, Switzerland who made a charcoal portrait of me – that too for free. The person ranks among the Top 100 Artists of Europe and is constantly exhibiting his creations in one or the other museums or galleries in Europe every now and then.
W&S: Traveling teaches you to….?
Mr.Z: I believe travelling teaches you a lot of things, if you think about it
Being thankful for the AMAZING food that we get every day at our home.
Being amazed at the beautiful creations of Allah that we get to explore while travelling.
Getting to know different cultures, people, their nature, their food, weather, their history, their historical places and monuments, etc.
Also it teaches us to compromise on certain things. Since we being from Pakistan are definitely not treated very nice at some parts of the world, hence, allowing us to feel great once we come back to our homeland as a First Class Citizen.
You can find Zeeshan on: –
Thank you very much!
Posted on August 16, 2016
Each year we think about celebrating our independence day with great fervor. We plan a lot of things and then there are others who plan to sleep the entire day. Some of us take this opportunity to tell the upcoming generation how we got this beautiful land while others spend the entire day watching television. We all are different in our own ways, we all take things differently and we all have our own ways of celebrating something. Speaking of celebration of course we can’t deny the fact that a lot has changed over the years, the good old days of decorating our houses in colors of green and white, finding the biggest flag in the market, watching the fire works, bringing fire crackers, getting up in the morning to watch the glorious parade, singing patriotic songs, and the list is endless. There was something about the 14th of August that made us proud and happy. Times have changed, we have buried our good old traditions somewhere and adapted to the modern belief of less is more. Hence we think of not doing anything at all except maybe watch TV and sleep the whole day. Hats off to all those who still make an effort to keep the spirit alive! Truly!
I personally believe in keeping up with all that we have experienced over the years but also make a difference by doing something for my country. Planting a tree or two, eating with the poor, cleaning the neighborhood, educating poor children on my own etc.
Over the years, we have heard some of the greatest patriotic songs of our times. Let’s relive those and recall the good times. I thought maybe it would make us stop and think for a second how we spent our independence day this year and inspire us enough to spend it differently next year. Enjoy!
Dil Dil Pakistan
How can we forget Dil Dil Pakistan. The song we grew up with! Its original version is still as fresh as ever in our minds and nothing beats that!
Junoon brought forward a song that took the entire generation by storm. With glimpses of the 92 world cup in its video, it became an instant hit!
Ae Jawan by the young boys of Awaz shot in the breathtaking mountains of our country was a treat to watch.
Tera bina dil na lagay
Faakhir came out with his solo and touched hearts all over.
Ae Rah e Haq Ke Shaheedo
This years Coke Studio gave us goose bumps by bringing forward this masterpiece. A tribute to all martyrs who lost their lives for the beloved country.
Mersmerizing vocals of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan never fail to win our hearts.
Main to daikhoo ga
Strings came out with this song in times of crisis and could relate to the common man and his problems. Became an instant hit!
Last years Coke Studio brought together different artists to relive this beauty.
There are of course many other beautiful patriotic songs out there. Do tell us your favorites! 🙂
The man that changed the world map. He fought to create the country we call our home, Pakistan. Muhammad Ali Jinnah known as the Quaid-e-azam took a dream, a hope, a thought and made it a reality.
Let’s make our Quaid proud. He gave us this beautiful homeland and its upto us to take care of it preserve its ideology. Let’s not forget the minorities are very much a part of each and every one of us. Live and let live!
Long live Pakistan!
I’m the girl with the mind that never sleeps. Something is always cooking up in this little mind of mine. Music is my best friend and maybe your cat can be too. Read more about me here.
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