Ammi we love you and miss you

ammi She was an angel sent down from heaven to make sure that we had an absolutely amazing childhood and she left no stone unturned in ensuring that, as we were growing up, our lives were filled with love and laughter. She taught us what it meant to be gentle, compassionate, loving and generous human beings. Even her silence was comfortine; her smile made all our pain and worries disappear. Her life centered around us – her family. She was the best mother in the world and all of us adored her.

On April 1 eleven years ago Ammi breathed her last and left a gap in our lives that no-one can ever fill. Her physical presence, her voice, her lovely smile, her subtle sense of humour are all things that each of us misses acutely. In spirit though she never really left us. It is like she continues to watch over us every second of every day – celebrating each achievement, smiling with us through our happy moments and being comfortingly close through every difficult period of our lives.

Even now after eleven years, whenever I go home from a day at work or return from a trip, intuitively I look towards what used to be her room expecting her to be sitting there on the lookout for me, ready to welcome me home and listen to my so-called ‘adventures’, hear about the people I had met and the things I had done during the day. She was such a good listener and always knew exactly what to say. She was our confidante, our friend, our mentor and sometimes even our partner-in-crime especially when we were trying to get out of doing something that Abbaji wanted us to do. She covered up for us whenever it looked as if we might get into trouble for some minor mischief that we had gotten into and she was always there to protect and defend us whenever we needed her to.

Ammi was ill for many many years. She suffered from high blood pressure, systemic lupus, pulmonary embolisms and various complications. She spent a lot of days and nights in hospitals in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Karachi … but never through her worst suffering did she lose her ability to smile and comfort the rest of us. We marvelled at her patience, her ability to bear suffering without ever uttering a word of complaint. At times when she should just have been thinking about herself, she continued to worry about what Abbaji and the rest of us were going through. She didn’t want to put us through any discomfort or be the cause for worry. Whenever anyone asked how she was, she always smiled broadly and responded “I am fine.” She was the most amazing person in the world. We were so lucky to have her in our lives for as long as we did.

Today as we mark her 11th death anniversary, all any of us can do is to honour her memory by continuing to be the kind of human beings she wanted us to be – to care about each other, to love life and live it to the fullest, to work with integrity and dedication and to be humane, kind and compassionate to all those around us. Ammi, we miss you so very much. You were the best mother in the world and we will always love you. May God keep you in his care and bestow upon you all the wonderful bounties of heaven which you so richly deserve.

April 1, 2014 at 12:21 pm 2 comments

Why do we not pay attention to signs?

On Sunday morning I found the grocery cupboards were bare so off I went to Metro armed with a long list of things that were needed for the house.Metro sign

As I drove into the Metro carpark, I intuitively parked in the spot closest to the entrance. But as I got out of the car, I noticed this sign. A couple of ‘d’s’ missing no doubt but the message was clear so I got back into the car and looked around for alternative parking.

The guard who was stationed in the carpark stopped me and said it was okay for me to park there and asked why I was looking for a new spot. I explained to him that those two parking spots were for people with disabilities. He looked at me as if I was some strange phenomenon; shrugged and said “That’s okay. No-one pays attention to the sign”. I didn’t really want to argue with him but I did say to him that signs such as this were placed there for a reason and that we should abide by them.

As I parked my car in another location and headed for the entrance of Metro, I noticed that two other families had parked their cars in those spaces reserved for people with disabilities.

Why am I ranting about this? Because it is not an isolated incident. I have noticed many times that at airports where there are numerous announcements stating that smoking is not allowed, people stand below No Smoking signs and smoke. At times I have gone up to such people and indicated to them that they were smoking in a No Smoking area. They shrug, grin and look the other way. Similarly, counters at immigration which are meant for unaccompanied women and children more often than not are populated by long queues of men. I am one of the troublemakers who goes up to such people and asks “Which one are you – an unaccompanied woman or a child?” . I also take it up with immigration staff  - why are the signs put up if they are not going to be adhered to, I ask. They are temporarily embarrassed and some of them move away but only until troublemakers like me are no longer in the vicinity.

Strangely these same people will follow rules and signs put up at airports in other countries so why not here? Is it because they know they can get away with it? Whatever the reason, I find it extremely irritating …

January 13, 2014 at 10:58 am 2 comments

Happy birthday my dearest Ammi

ammi-abbaji7Midnight  on the night of January 5 and 6 had always been a special occasion for me. It was celebration time. Abbaji’s birthday falls on January 5; Ammi was born on January 6 … they always cut a cake together at midnight. There were smiles all round; exchange of gifts and cards; all of us singing ‘Happy birthday’ slightly off-tune. Those were magical and happy times for our family. I remember how as they grew old together, they still continued the tradition of exchanging birthday cards and gifts – Abbaji still bought for Ammi pieces of jewelery and some of the loveliest silk and chiffon sarees I have ever seen – things he hadn’t been able to give her in the early years of their marriage while he was building his career. It was so sweet to see.

Yesterday was Abbaji’s birthday. He has been feeling rather poorly of late. He suffers from Pulmonary Fibrosis and has withdrawn into himself little by little since Ammi passed away over 10 years ago. A companionship spanning decades had come to an end and I think he has just not been able to accept that Ammi is no longer physically amongst us although her spirit and her love continue to live in each one of us. We cut a cake yesterday as we always do and I sang Happy birthday a little off-tune as I always do; there were gifts as there always are, phone calls from all my siblings to convey special wishes … but none of it was quite the same. It hasn’t been quite the same since Ammi went away. We miss her every moment. She was the most precious person in our lives.

This morning I missed Ammi’s special smile, her unaffected and genuine laughter, her amazing sense of humour, her gentleness, her warmth, her kindness, her love. I wanted so much to wish her Happy Birthday, to give her flowers, to see the delight on her face when I gave her the suits that I had had made for her, to spoil her as much as I could, to make her feel like the most important person in all the world which she was. But I couldn’t. I went instead  to visit her grave, to lay on it a bed of fresh rose petals, to pray that she was blessed with everything her heart desired.

Happy birthday my dearest Ammi. You were the very best mother in the world. We love you … we always have and we always will.

January 6, 2014 at 11:00 pm 3 comments

New Year Resolutions

For the past few days I had been wondering what New Year Resolutions I should make. The more I thought about it the more convinced I became that there was no point to the exercise. Thousands of people around the world make these resolutions every year only to break them a few days into the New Year. Better not to make them at all.

However, there was one resolution I was bent on making and keeping. I was going to start blogging again. There has been too much of a break. Friends, colleagues and youngsters from universities have been messaging me for months to ask why I don’t write anymore. They say they miss my posts. And, to be honest, I miss writing them.

I used to find so much pleasure in writing about all sorts of things – from posts about innovation in Pakistan, about entrepreneurship, about all sorts of P@SHA activities, about things I had seen and done, about different types of food, about people I met who amazed me … you name it … I wrote about it.

So here I am again on the first day of 2014 putting together my first brief post hoping that it will be the stepping stone to many pieces this year. Watch for them.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be a peaceful and joyous one for us all.

January 1, 2014 at 10:12 pm 2 comments

Calling all Tech Innovators!

Awards home page 2013It is that time of year again. P@SHA is on the lookout for innovators in the tech space. We want to recognize and celebrate innovation in the ICT space. This is our 10th year and we are really excited because we know that there are many more techies – young and old – out there who have yet to be recognized. But in order for us to do that, you need to come forward. You can only win if you take part. Go to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013 website and submit details regarding your product or service so that our panel of judges can shortlist the best of the best in each category.

The categories are divided into two distinct parts: Products and Services. There are 17 Product Categories and 12 Service Categories.

Product Categories include:

Best in Communications Applications
Best in E-Government Applications
Best in E-Learning Applications
Best in E-Health Applications
Best in E-Inclusion & E-Community Applications
Best in E-Logistics & Supply Chain Management Applications
Best in Financial Applications
Best in Green & Sustainable IT Applications
Best in Industrial Applications
Best in New Media & Entertainment
Best in Research & Development Applications
Best in Secondary Student Project
Best Startup Company
Best Tertiary Student Project
Best in Tools & Infrastructure Applications
Best in Tourism & Hospitality Applications

Note: Winners in the Product Categories will be required to represent Pakistan in the Asia Pacific ICT Awards in Hong Kong in November 2013.

Service Categories include:

Best in Animation
Best in BPO
Best in Brand Development
Best in CSR
Best in Export Growth
CIO of the Year (Private Sector)
CIO of the Year (Public Sector)
Best in Gender Diversity
Best in HR Excellence
Best in Mobile Applications
Best in Managed Services
Best in Project Management
Best in Service Innovation
Best in Social Media (IT Company)
Best in Social Media (Non-IT Company)

 This year the P@SHA ICT Awards will be held in Islamabad for the first time. Email invitations will be sent out after Ramzan.

If you are a technology innovator, or you know of any ICT innovators across the country, make sure that all of you take part in the P@SHA ICT Awards by submitting your product or service to the P@SHA ICT Awards 2013. Deadline for entries is August 8 2013. Please don’t wait till the last moment. Apply NOW!

July 22, 2013 at 11:02 pm 8 comments

Breaking News: A P@SHA LaunchPad perk for a winner or two from Karachi

If the offer of cash awards and expert mentoring at the P@SHA LaunchPad events wowed you, there is JUST ONE MORE perk for a winner or two from Karachi that I need to tell you about.

If the judges think that one or two or all three winning ideas from Karachi are ideas that are likely to become our next tech stars, P@SHA will connect them with Dot-Zero, the new community, co-working space coming up in Karachi next month. Dot-Zero is one of the grantees of the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund and they have agreed to incubate some of the P@SHA winners (who require working space).

Dot-Zero is the brainchild of three tech entrepreneurs – Farzal Dojki, Imran Moinuddin and Atif Azim who were later joined by one of our very successful entrepreneurs Yusuf Jan, of Mixit Inc. fame, as a Board Member and an Angel Investor.

Farzal, a graduate of UT Austin, worked for 3 startups in Pakistan before founding Next Generation Innovations in Karachi. He is also a co-founder of Venture Dive, another local startup.

Atif’s claim to fame amongst other things is that he was the founder of Perfigo, a technology startup in Silicon Valley, which was acquired by Cisco Systems. He went to Imperial College London &  Stanford before founding Perfigo.

Imran is also a graduate of Stanford and the founder & CEO of Nex Degree. His organization catalyzes the growth for four socially conscious startups.

So what is Dot-Zero? Briefly, it is a not-for-profit community working space that hopes to be the fertile ground from which innovative tech starts will emerge. It is a space where networking, collaboration and an exchange of ideas will flourish. For more details regarding the project, check out this complete slide deck.

It is an amazing project that still requires some funding so if you have some extra money lying around that you want to contribute, do contact the Dot-Zero team.

In the meantime, we are trying to see if we can find some perks for aspiring entrepreneurs from Lahore and Islamabad as well.

Karachi Plug and Play from Farzal Dojki

June 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm 2 comments

Additional information on the P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 process

P@SHA LaunchPad logoAs most of you are aware, registrations for the P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 close tomorrow at 5 pm. If you haven’t registered your idea or startup product/service yet, go do it NOW! You can apply to participate in the P@SHA LaunchPad events at http://goo.gl/UsVUR. We have already received a lot of entries from across the country. The Oversight Committee will go through them on June 19 and we will notify the shortlisted candidates on the evening of June 19.

There are three categories this year:

  • Innovative Idea for an ICT product/service
  • Startup with an Innovative ICT product/service
  • Innovative Idea which uses ICT for Social impact

There will be a winner in each category in each of the three cities (i.e. a total of 9 winners). If you have applied from any city other than Karachi, Lahore or Islamabad, you need to email services@pasha.org.pk and inform us which of the 3 cities you will be able to present in.

This is the process that will then be followed:

1. June 19 evening – Shortlisted Candidates will be informed. They will have to confirm that they will present their idea/startup on the following dates:

KARACHI – June 22 – Karachi Marriott – 3 pm to 6 pm

LAHORE – June 25 – LUMS – 5 pm to 8 pm

ISLAMABAD – June 27 – from 5 pm to 8 pm (Venue To Be Announced)

2. On the Presentation day in each city, shortlisted candidates will be asked to present a 5 minute pitch regarding their idea/product or service. This will be followed by a 5 minute Q&A session. The Panel of judges comprising experienced IT entrepreneurs from the local community in each city will determine the winning idea in each category. To assist you in preparing your pitch, we are attaching a template here P@SHA LaunchPad 2013 Template. You do not have to use this – it is meant to give you a sample of what is expected from you.

3. Judging Criteria – Each idea or product/service will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Does it solve a Business, Individual or Community problem?
  • Is it innovative?
  • Is there a viable market for it in Pakistan or elsewhere?
  • Does such a product already exist? How is this one different? What is the competitive advantage?
  • What is your business model? How will the idea be sustainable?
  • Is the team able to deliver on the idea?
  • Communication Skills – your ability to present the idea well

4. Mentoring - The winning ideas will be assigned mentors to help them develop the idea/product/service.

5. Cash Award - Each winner in the three categories in each city will receive Rs. 200,000 to help them develop the idea/product/service.

6. Register to attend the event – Whether you are shortlisted to present or not; whether you have submitted an idea or not, you are welcome to attend the events in each city. Though there is no registration fee, you will however have to register to attend the events at: http://goo.gl/AENZq. Please only register if you are planning to attend the events so that we can make arrangements accordingly.

Watch this space as another exciting announcement will be made TONIGHT!

June 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm 2 comments

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