Posts tagged ‘Islamabad’

Hey world meet a true-blue Pakistani!

More often than not we tend to forget that the world is full of all kinds of people – some good, some bad, some honest, some dishonest, some loving and compassionate, some harsh and cruel. And they live in different counties across the globe.

Pakistan is no exception – of the 180 million people in this country, the majority are hardworking, dedicated and compassionate human beings who are trying to make an honest buck and live a decent and happy existence. In the dismal conditions that have prevailed this past week, thankfully today I was once again reminded that I live amongst some really amazing people.

I arrived in Islamabad this morning at 9 and after checking into the Guest House, I decided that instead of renting a car for the day (unnecessarily wasting company funds), I would hail a yellow cab and make my way to the Evacuee Trust Complex where several meetings were being  held back-to-back. It was only when i was in distant sight of the Marriott Hotel that I was told by the security guys there that yellow cabs were not allowed beyond that point. I had no option but to get my laptop, iPad and other paraphernalia and walk the remainder of the way. The sun was scorching hot but I braved it and had almost reached the Software Technology Park (which is next to the Marriott) when I realized that I didn’t have my wallet in my pocket.

I backtracked and frantically looked for the yellow cab – saw many of them but not my chappie. Dejected I gave up and headed back for the Tech Park, phoning my office on the way and asking Mustafa to call the Guest House to find out if they had noted down the license plate number of the yellow cab when I left there earlier that morning.  I knew I had little hope of getting the wallet back but kept whispering a small prayer hoping that God would hear me.

I had Rs. 28,000 in the wallet (had to pay someone here), two credit cards (VISA and AMEX), my NIC Card, my Health Card, my Frequent Flyer Mile cards and heaven knows what else. My life was going to be hell trying to replace some of the cards. Sigh!

As I was drowning my sorrow in a glass of ice cold water, the lady from the Guest House called and told me that the cabbie had gone back to the Guest House and turned in my wallet at the reception desk. He had first gone back to where he had dropped me but by then i had given up and left and he did not know which office I was going to in the Technology Park. However, he did know where I was  staying. For me Rs. 28,000 is a lot of money; for a struggling cab driver it is a whole lot more. And yet he went out of this way to drive back to the guest house and return what didn’t rightfully belong to him. There is hope for us yet. 🙂 I hope one day I will run into the cab driver again if only to thank him for renewing my faith in the goodness of people and the integrity that is in-built in many of us.

Disclaimer: this is not a picture of “my cabbie” – just a placeholder until i find the real McCoy.

May 10, 2011 at 12:08 am 24 comments

Meet Sohail Abid – a freelancer who is a real trailblazer!

Pakistani freelancers have made quite a mark on sites like Rent-a-Coder, oDesk and Elance. They have shown that despite the challenges that they face in terms of power outages and connectivity issues, they have been able to meet customer deadlines and more than live up to the expectations of customers from across the globe. Some estimate that the freelance business via these sites may be as high as US$40 – 80 million which is truly amazing. We are going to try and find a way to substantiate this figure by conducting some specific research this year.

In the meantime, it is still a wonderful day when you come across someone like Sohail Abid who shows you that freelancers are going beyond just delivering outsourced work.

Sohail is a cultural analyst who also happens to be a software engineer by some weird act of God. He had quite a good career in the Pakistani software industry but says he quit after 3 years when during an interview for a new position, he asked for better salary than they were offering, and the potential employer said to him “If you are that good, why don’t you work for yourself?” So he did just that. He refused their offer, and started working on his own. He had been working as the team lead/project manager at that time. “And I have never looked back.” says Sohail. “9-5 is a big no-no for me now.”

So what has Sohail done that has prompted this post? Well, he has done many things (he wanted to be a physicist, studied software engineering, wrote an existentialist novel, and ended up in cultural research. About 9 months ago he also embarked on a Motorcycle tour of Pakistan). I may write about all that in detail some time but, at this moment, the Breaking News is that he has developed a WordPress plugin that gives users something Facebook isn’t offering: the ability to embed their public material on their blogs. It is called “Embed Facebook” and lets one embed various Facebook objects (albums, single photo, page, event, video, group, or note) in a blog post by simply pasting the URL.

Here’s a demo of the plugin:

This plugin is available from the official WordPress plugins repository: (and has been downloaded 7000+ times in less than two months, which is a success from a wordpress plugin perspective as they are only used by website owners, not end users like iPhone apps :).

So when we assessing the talent that exists in Pakistan, let’s not forget that other than the companies, there are many freelancers who are marching to their own tune and doing their own thing – all below the radar. Well done Sohail. We are proud to know you. Keep doing whatever your heart tells you to because it is your passion (in addition to your hard work and talent) that has resulted in some of the wonderful work you have been able to do thus far.

January 15, 2011 at 12:17 am 18 comments

Happy 20th birthday APC from all of us in Pakistan

1990 – 2010 the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) is 20 years old.

APC, the world’s longest-running network, celebrates their 20th anniversary in May 2010. Twenty years networking online for social justice and sustainable development.

Since so many APC women were in Islamabad for the FTX, we decided to celebrate the birthday at Saidpur Village over dinner by cutting two cakes (each depicting one decade of APC). Happy birthday to a dynamic association that has become a network that many of us have come to depend on.

Shahzad joining the APC women in cutting the two cakes.

Here I am presenting a Sindhi Ajrak to Jan as part of the celebrations.

A warm hug from Jenny as she receives her Ajrak.

Afia explains the history of the Ajrak as all the visitors oooh and aaah over their newly acquired pieces. 🙂

June 13, 2010 at 9:11 am 3 comments

The slogan: “We work hard but we party hard too!”

June 13, 2010 at 8:43 am 2 comments

What are your views about the FTX Sana?

Sana Saleem, activist, writer, medical student and blogger has now decided to be Director, Producer, Star, Script Writer and Distributor all-in-one. Here she shares very briefly her experience of attending the first Feminist Tech Exchange in Islamabad.

June 13, 2010 at 12:13 am 1 comment

Jan talks about the Digital Story Telling workshops

Jan Moolman, one of the facilitators of the Feminist Tech Exchange, and a key member of the APC Women’s Program, talks about the Digital Story Telling workshops and what they entail.

June 13, 2010 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

So Jenny tell us about the APC Women’s Program

Jennifer Radloff, who is a part of the Association of Progressive Communications (APC) Women’s Program, talks about the APC Women’s Program and the capacity building work that she and others at APC are a part of.

June 12, 2010 at 11:56 pm 2 comments

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