Let’s Try Kindness Therapy – #ItsTimeToChange

By Yousra Mateen

Recently I was talking to a classmate who mentioned how a girl in university was distributing chocolates to everyone, so my classmate asked why she was doing it; was it a part of a project? Or was it her birthday? So this girl who was distributing chocolates smiled and said, she was doing that because it was the World Kindness Day. We were all a little surprised first and actually contemplated on how there are these angelic sort of people who exist who distribute chocolates because they want to be kind but then appreciated how it was a good gesture and later the conversation moved on to other topics.

Later that day, I was thinking about how there was actually a day dedicated to being kind and sat down to research on it. Initially the old weird negative approach we hold towards “Hallmark Holidays” was the first thing which came to my mind, that there shouldn’t be one day for kindness, everyday should be a day of kindness but then I brushed through that thought and eventually found out that this year, the world kindness day was celebrated globally on the 13th November. The day was first initiated by the World Kindness Movement, which is a group of NGO’s working in different countries. It is mainly propagated by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation but is now rapidly gaining popularity worldwide where people are actually taking up small acts of kindness and compassion and sharing them on the social networking sites.

Even though we shouldn’t need a day particularly to be kind, and carry on everyday but maybe by initiating and forcing ourselves to be caring that one day instigate the feeling of contentment we get from being compassionate and eventually continue carrying out random acts of kindness for the rest of the year. Some of these acts actually outline our personality too in the long run as we are usually defined by our actions. There are various ways through which we can adopt to show random acts of kindness. It isn’t just restricting to giving charity or giving out candies but way beyond it. Even in simple things in life like holding doors and saying thank you and giving out hugs to people you know will feel comforted from it. It isn’t just making an old man cross a road; it is also removing that big stone on the path or offering to hold an extra bag for a friend. Not just giving your seat to elderly or disabled or pregnant, but also putting your shopping cart back in place and writing a small motivating text message and sending it to someone who really needs it at that point in life. Hence, kindness doesn’t have any form of boundaries; it can range on all levels and at all levels is equally appreciated. A very small positive gesture can make someone’s day a little better!

Let’s take out time, change ourselves and change someone else’s life positively.

#ItsTimeToChange

Say No to Stereotyping – #ItsTimeToChange

By Neha Zubairi

A middle-aged man, sitting at the airport lounge eagerly waiting for his flight to arrive, keeps his bag aside and walks to the restroom to freshen up; so that he can finally eat that meal, he purchased from the tuck shop near the departure lounge. But before he could step out of the restroom, he is ambushed by two armed security guards holding him by force and the third one holding his bag. They rush him to their security office…why? The man had a Pakistani passport and a thick long beard.

This is just one of many different examples we see around us, highlighting the height of stereotypes; created by our own society. But the worst part is, that we as a society, hardly fight against it. Instead, without thinking twice, we give in to our impulse of labeling an individual as a terrorist, if he has a beard.

Not just that, if unfortunately the color of your skin is a tone too dark, you’re in a bit of trouble! You are most likely a drug dealer or you have substance abuse issues. And if you are an Asian, BRAVO! People have probably already deemed you smarter than the rest. If you are a girl wearing a head-scarf, everybody will be appalled, because you are forced into a lifestyle you probably haven’t chosen for yourself.

When a person sees something or someone, they search for any type of information that they might have stored in their memory regarding that thing; making it easier for them to properly understand what is before them. But sometimes, the information that they have stored away in their mind might be wrong. But, on their level of understanding, that perceptions they have are absolutely accurate.

The problem is that most of us are too proud and indifferent, to the fact that we need to educate ourselves and broaden our horizon to see what lies beyond what our eyes see. How can a few physical features and lifestyle choices dictate an individual’s complete personality?

It’s time to rid our society of stereotyping…it’s time to take a pledge to open our mind’s eye and look beyond what we already see.

#ItsTimeToChange

The way forward for Shan Ad.

The Shan masala ad., much-hyped throughout Ramadan, was undoubtedly something all of us desis could relate to. The sad Umer in vilaayat missing ammi and her food on Eid and the caring Bhai going off the way from getting Shan masala and ingredients to preparing the gourmet dishes (Sindhi Biryani and Tandoori Chicken *drools*) and presenting it to Umer became household favorites in Ramadan. See the ad here: Shan Masala Ad

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The ad not only filled tears in the eyes of those living abroad but also was a huge emotional hit with the local audience. Within all those emotions, one thing the ad. successfully imprinted in the audience’s mind was that Shan masala was available across the globe and could come to a solution everytime a Pakistani expatriate wanted homelike food.
But even with the spot-on emotional appeal, amazing background music, and unique plot; the ad will go in back of the mind of all audience and be forgotten within no time. So, what to do now?

Well, here are a few suggestions Shan foods can take from marketing students like us and do wonders.

After the great ad, another great thing Shan foods can do is not let people forget Umer, Bhai and ammi that they kept seeing throughout Ramadan. They can do this by making a carry-forward ad (like the movie sequels). The audience would like to see Umer and Bhai returning to Pakistan and meeting ammi after (say) 5 years. Then ammi would cook their favorite food after tasting which they won’t be able to hold back their tears and finish till they eat their fingers off (ungliyan chaat’te reh jaayain ge). And then ammi lovingly makes the guys sleep in her lap and thanks Shan masala in her head. With the Pakistani audience, mother’s love and an emotional ad can never go wrong.

Shan Foods can further take the story forward in the third ad where Umer and Bhai are shown cooking different recipes using Shan masala. This way, the branding of Shan masala as the ultimate solution for cooking for both amateur and professional cooks would be enforced. It would come out as a sigh of relief for women tired of making and mixing masalas, and as a magic wand for all the amateur cooks.

Good – See, Be, Do! #ItsTimeToChange

The other day a teacher of mine sent me this wonderful practice done by an African tribe where when a member of the tribe does something wrong, he/she is taken to the center of town and is surrounded by the entire tribe. For two days they tell the person every good thing he has ever done. Behind this practice is their belief of every person being ‘GOOD’ from the origin and committing mistakes in the pursuit of safety, love, peace, and happiness. They see these mistakes as cry for help, so they unite to cure their fellow by reconnecting him with his true self and making him remember the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected: “I AM GOOD”.
I was pretty amazed by this idea and wondered whether it will work in our world. Yes, I do believe that everyone is good from within, good in at least some role of their life. But accepting one’s mistake comes as a result to realizing it. When a master talks cruelly to his servant, he thinks it is the right of his position; when children talk to their parents in slang, they justify it by labeling themselves ‘new generation’; when a student argues with a teacher for trivial things, he says he’s fighting for his rights. Thus, we get to see a lot of people continuing their wrongdoings due to lack of realization.
Moreover, majority of us have turned into selfish beings thinking for ourselves and not concerned for what happens in others’ lives. We would very rarely spare time for the good of others. Spending two days insulting a person looks easy to us but telling him good things he did for two big days would be hard for us. But only when we ponder over the idea of “what goes around, comes around”, we will be more considerate towards others. The aforementioned practice could be an ideal one for us wherein not only the person committing mistake is taken out of the sin harmlessly, but others also get to participate in an act to retain humanity within them.

The loudest life lesson!

I woke up in the morning to see my mother waiting for me. She had to discuss something very important. I went to her and after a serious conversation, I was asked to consider my options and take my life seriously. So there I was, deciding between studies or job, or something else, if studies then which courses, if job then which company, if marriage then which boy. There were so many thoughts, so many dilemmas. Suddenly my phone vibrated.

I was shocked to hear what the person on the other end of the call told me. All my plans, my discussions with my mother in the morning, everything I ever thought about my future seemed meaningless. A few minutes earlier, my dear friend SK had told me of a girl almost my age passing away. Sid was an event organizer, a person I had seen in a lot of pictures but never met. Her accident two days prior to her death had been a tragic news and now her death was a news difficult to believe.

I recited Quranic verses for her and left for office after some time. But the more I tried to shake off the thoughts of the death, the more the realizations struck me. Meaningless materialism, unpredictable life, images of friends and family fading, scenes of people sitting with her in a cafe and the next day with her corpse, a multitude of thoughts crowded my mind and disturbed me to the core.

So I thought of pouring this out in words and sharing it with you all.

We think we have so much time. Time to show love, time to tell truth, time to accept people and feelings, time to be ourselves, but deaths of people around us are reality checks. And specially when we see very young people dying all of a sudden, its a reminder louder than anything. A reminder that life is unpredictable and all you have is NOW.

We make so many plans for our future and so many associations with people. Dresses, meet-ups, studies, jobs, travels, weddings and what not. But death defeats everything, literally EVERYTHING. You never know if you’ll be able to wear that wrist watch you spent a fortune on or eat at the place you’ve planned to go the next day after much longing. No point of forming enemies because when you die, you’ll leave behind people talking ill about you and not praying for you. Friends you give your life for will remember you for maximum an year or on very special occasions. When you’re gone, everything would go with you.

No keeping things in heart, no delaying things, less associations, less expectations and most importantly “LIVING IN THE MOMENT” is what Sid’s death has taught me!

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The undiscovered hero

Note: This blog I’ve written in two different times hence the months are mentioned.

October ’13:

Hey lovely people,
I’ve been away for quite a long time. Got busy with exams, GRADUATED, found a job and then again got busy with that. But a couple of days ago a friend of mine, DK, asked me for my blogs and there I was, charged up again and searching for a motivation.
I searched and searched but couldn’t find anything worth writing. Its today that I realized that ‘the’ topic of my next blog was right there, giving me a pick n drop service daily. Yes, its none other than my rikshaw driver!

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Last week, I called up my rikshaw driver to pick me up since I was done with the work at office. Unlike other days, he got late and finally arrived after an hour. Quietly, I sat on the back seat only to notice that there was already a girl wearing a black gown (Muslim’s abaya) sitting there. I thought she must be a student or a working lady he picks and drops. But after a conversation with her, I found out that she was the rikshaw driver’s daughter. She told me she studied in a law school and was in her 2nd year of law education.

2 days had passed and again the rikshaw driver came to pick me up with another abaya-wearing girl. After a conversation with her, I got to know that she was another daughter of him who worked as a Manager Operations in a well-reputed company. Since the rikshaw driver’s girls were giving me surprises back-to-back, I asked this daughter of him what her other siblings did. I was told that one brother worked in an NGO and other 2 siblings were studying. Till this time, I was quite impressed by the rikshaw driver because I knew he wasn’t earning more than Rs. 30,000 a month and he had still managed to get his children good education.
In a country like this, whenever people fall in the whirlpool of poverty, one of the first few things they let go of is education. Their reason “how can an empty stomach study?” looks quite reasonable at that time. So they conveniently put the necessity of education in the ‘luxury’ category and keep earning and eating. It’s thus a pleasure to see a rare specie who goes out of his comfort zone just to fulfill the necessity of education for the greater good.

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January ’14:

So I was going through my archives and found this. Its embarrassing that I haven’t blogged since a long long time. I keep writing a few pieces though but uploading just this one today.
The rikshaw driver has now bought his own taxi and climbed another stair towards betterment. What thoroughly impresses me in him is his integrity. Never did I see him being ashamed of how small was the work he did. His children inherited that from him too and were proud of telling everyone that their father drives a Rikshaw. I reckon that comes with the conviction of earning through hardwork. People who lack this integrity and conviction can take this as food for thought.
My father told me once that the same Rikshaw driver was once a street hawker. I can’t imagine how he had made ends meet along with giving his children good education with such a minimal income. But God has definitely blessed him slowly but steadily as his income level increased a little with the Rikshaw and now a little more with the taxi. This signifies the value of faith in my eyes.

Now my lovely readers, if you can spread this story of my Rikshaw driver to the people you know, we might be able to discover more of such undiscovered heroes around and gain inspiration from them. More interestingly, we might even be able to create such examples of hardwork, faith and conviction.

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The not-so-real reality shows

Hello lovelies,

I hope all of you brave people out there are coming out as winners in every battle of our life. Now before I write this short story of mine, I must mention here that I don’t intend to offend any person or profession, nor is it necessary that all my opinions are agreed upon. I found it important to mention this little note because what I’ll be writing might reveal some hidden secrets of the media industry.

Recently I participated in this famous singing “reality” show where thousands of want-to-be singers like me participated. The first round of that competition was in my small town where I, along with 12 other contestants, was selected. It was all smooth and real until I got ‘yes’ from the two audition rooms. After that, I was told to ‘act’. First I was taken to the registration booth and asked to act as if I’m entering and chest sticker is being placed. That part was easy, I did that. I was then asked to act for a lot of scenes. In one of them, I had to show that I was practicing songs, in the other I had to look as if I was nervous before entering the audition room and in others I had to show happy and sad expressions on getting selected and not getting selected. So much for a reality show!

Then came the time for the second audition which was held in the city of lights. I was all excited for the auditions with high spirits and higher hopes. We were told that we had to reach the hotel at 9:30 am, which we did. Around 40 contestants who were selected from 2 cities were to be auditioned that day so I roughly estimated that we would be free by 5:00pm. But what happened there was a different scenario. The auditions of participants from 1 city (PSW) started around 5:00pm and ended by 10:00pm. We waited, waited, kept waiting. The morning, afternoon, evening passed and we still waited. After a wait of almost 15 hours, our auditions took place at 1:00am. Such mismanagement came as a shocker to me. Now I do not intend to say that there was a partiality between the two cities, because there wasn’t any. What I would just like to convey is that our celebrities have started acting like our politicians (coming late and making the contestants and audience wait) and our media people have mastered the art of hiding the misses and highlighting the catches (showing the excited crowd, not the tired, pissed off faces).

But even after all this wait and messed-up-mood, I would praise the channel which was sponsoring the reality show. They were very considerate, providing quality food in lunch and dinner and caring for our comfort throughout the day. Overall the experience of waiting for more than half of the day, socializing with a variety of contestants coming from different backgrounds and observing the operations of media industry first-hand was good!

One thing that I’ve learnt and that I wish I would not have learnt is that “reality” shows are not very real. I used to watch reality shows a lot, which ‘I guess’ I’ll still do. But all those scenes of excited, nervous, crying, insulted contestants will not amuse me as much. Somewhere in my mind I’ll always think that their emotions are mere acting skills and will consider them unreal.

By the way, the set was very well-decorated. For all of you, I’m sharing two pictures of the set. Watch and enjoy!

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