The Him of Our Society

Every day is a new challenge. But the real challenge of everyday is to follow that one same aspect of your routine that you most despise. In my case, it is the walk. The walk, which might have been the best part of my day, had it come with different circumstances.

I wake up at the same time every morning and drive up the Mall Road of Lahore to get to my destination, the National College of Arts. I park my car behind one of the heritage buildings of Lahore known as the Tolinton Market and get out of my car, which is when my heart starts to race and my breath becomes heavier. Now is the time to cross the street filled with dark eyed, smirking men on bikes and rickshaws, staring and gawking at every passing female pedestrian, one of which is me. I know I have to walk fast, I console myself thinking, “watch your steps, don’t trip, don’t worry, it’s just a thought and a building to cross.”

I hold my bag close to my body, and stiffen my shoulders, as I start to walk away from my car and towards the first street. As I leave the parking lot I look towards the right and then the left to see all the cars, rickshaws and bikes. As the traffic breaks I pull my thoughts together and cross the street as fast as I can. Now and then I wish there was someone walking by me, a familiar face, a person who is safe. I look around to see if someone I know is close by and would walk with me to the NCA gate, but I catch the eyes of the men staring at my direction, scanning me with their dark piercing eyes.

My heartbeat fastens and I quicken my pace, I cross the Lahore museum, lowering my gaze towards the path and console myself thinking, “It’s just a few more steps.” As I reach the college gate and take the first step inside, my heartbeat goes back to normal, the horror is lifted. I can finally feel the air I breathe filling my chest and thanking God for the life ahead.

Over the past year I experience this every day and I feel like I may never get over this, but then I question, is it just my thought or is this actually happening? One of my professors once commented on this attitude of our nation saying, “our people are just prone to stare, we are a staring nation, and it doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything if someone is staring at us. We just can’t get rid of it.”

I agree to the fact that we are a staring nation, and I myself sometimes get lost in a thought and don’t realize where my eyes are affixed while I am experiencing a metaphysical realm of reverie.  However, the women on the streets, going about their business in this part of the world are more likely to have their eyes fixed on the ground than the men roaming the streets purposeless, as they may seem.

This makes one wonder is it the clothing or the figure of a woman, which of these is so enticing, even though she is most likely covered from head to toe with no room to peak.

With literally millions of women, maybe even more than men in this world; so common it is to see ‘her’ moving past you every single day, then why is it that the ‘him’ of our society feels the need to hold a sociopathic stare as she passes by in the markets and streets?

 

 

The Essence of Life

Go back in time to a dream you first saw. That dream which you confused with reality. Or was it a reality which you perceived to be a dream? The souls exist in the back of your mind, those conversations which supposedly happened in front of your eyes, that house which was once your home, the house which might not exist anymore. Now you go ahead and shut your eyes, you are already living way too many lives. Take a deep breath so that the air may travel to your heart; make this connection to what is a world apart. The past which was once in the innocence of your childhood may show you the intimate threads of connection. You see yourself where and there is where you live, the place where your child self is not at all afraid. He is safer, he is calmer, he is once again curious. He is excited about the future with no memories of the past, and that is the past which you long for, a past which was the present with no memories of the past.

The house that you visualize is yours alone. You live in peaceful solitude, as you visualize your private, warm corners in that dim lit room. You are connected to yourself and your beautiful pure soul. The air is light, blurry is your sight, but it is and will always be yours and yours alone.

It’s vast, it’s far and wide. It is as you saw it as a little knight, fighting your emotions, accepting what you have without the knowledge of it being real or a dream perhaps. The movement is smooth; you walk through that room, up the stairs as you rise, the compassion, passion and butterflies. You are eager, curious to explore that house; a space which you think is only without. But, you have to know, just, need to know, the house is not without, but a space within. Every dream you ever had with open eyes, every second you were lost in the well of thought, you explored the depths of your own existence and reunited the fragments of the treasure of memory; the calm and hopeful treasure and the very essence of life.

 

Japanese Minimalist Aesthetics

“The ancient Taoist scholar Laotse espoused that the true beauty of a room lay in the vacant space enclosed by the roof and walls, rather than the roof and walls themselves. He aspired to an aesthetic ideal of emptiness. True beauty could only be realized in the material world, he held, when it was stripped bare, with only the merest suggestion of color, pattern or texture. The mind, the imagination of the beholder should be allowed to complete the picture in the mood of the moment.” The Japanese House by Noboru Murata and Alexandra Black.

The theory of Japanese architecture and interiors revolve around the idea of what modern day architects would call the minimalist approach. Spaces are visually empty, yet have the atmosphere of wholeness, tranquility and spirituality. The structures made out of wood, bamboo and paper, provide a warm and cozy space. The walls are made, of sliding doors which open into Zen garden, transferring life from nature into the man-made space. Everything within a Japanese home is functional and purposeful.

The beds are not solid and elevated, but the contrary, Futons are the traditional Japanese bedding comprising of a padded mattress, called a shikibuton, a quilt, called a kakebuton, and a pillow filled with beans, called a makura, all of which is pulled out at night to sleep, Folded and stored in sliding door cupboards by day. Not only out of sight, but out of mind. There are small seasonal decorations used as a part of completing the minimalist aesthetic involved in Japanese design, the scroll in the living room alcove changed as the seasons change, the flower arrangement at the entrance marking the arrival spring, etc.

Material and Elements

A few of the materials used to build these spacious, beautiful and peaceful homes are comprised of:

Tatami, the floor covering which is weaved from straw forming matting. It is the key element of any Japanese house because of which the space is called home. The straw used to make Tatami is well suited to the climate of the region as it allows air circulation, and is very soft, warm and welcoming.

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Tatami

Bamboo, is a common feature of the Japanese house, it is used to make the fence around the house thus being the boundary and the connection between the outside and the inside. Thinner form of bamboo, the reed stick is used to make blind, the Japanese form of curtains. The material doesn’t only hold crafts value but also aesthetic value as it gives a smooth, glossy, satisfying surface and also stimulates the artistry of nature.

Paper, In the Japanese home, the play shadow, adds to its aesthetics as it lacks ornaments, making the shadows smooth and contrasting since it grasps walls in its cast.

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Sliding Walls

Wood is perhaps the most precious and a beautiful material to use in building homes and for Japanese houses it is the pride of the home. Pine, Cedar and Cyprus trees are used as the raw wood, which is processed into elegant structures put together to construct fine building.

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Floor Sitting

Stone is a silent part of the interior yet an equally important visual element in the exterior. Stones are used for the landscaping of gardens, for building pathways and in a bigger size could be a centerpiece for a fountain in the garden. When polishes stone has poetic qualities, since it shines in the light and reflect the dim lanterns at night.

 

The Perfect Pen

Art is a word. It is just a three letter word, a sound one makes from their mouths, like every other sound we produce to talk, express or impress. But it is the meanings, the romanticism, the clichés and all the other vast meaning we attach to this word which need to be contemplated. We describe things we don’t understand as art. We label thing we refuse to understand as art. And once we have done that, we attach the idea of madness with the one who forms the art. The artist is widely known as mad and eccentric.

Another way we see art or artist is a person who creates visuals out of paint and brush and other tools. The instruments and gizmos used to create what the eye can see and the mind can name, tools which are used with sheer level of skill to create visuals, so pure and perfect to be named with one’s mind and held with one’s eyes.

But little do we understand that art in itself is a word so fluid, it can be used to appreciate anything and every skill which exists on planet earth and beyond its horizons. But there’s a condition, the idea and skill behind anything called art should be nothing less than the excellent and exceptional.

One of my favorite quotes, from a brilliant movie describes this, and i.e. the idea: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but great art can come from anywhere.” And that is exactly what distinguishes the ordinary from the extraordinary. The ability to take a leap of faith, to think the new, to understand the existing, and to observe the ordinary from a phenomenal, unprecedented angle leading to an excellence of consciousness and instinct together working on producing the “new”.

ART: The Essence of Life

Art come in all forms, from the mother excellent at cooking breakfast pancakes to the painter, who is a master at using his brush, and the writer who uses his pen in the ambition to make a change. The tool, the idea, the conscious, the subconscious, the knowledge and the ignorance; all of it together becomes the perfect pen. And a pen is the agent for recording the essence of life. And that record is ART.

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Empty Souls by Muhammad Ali Bhatti

 

The Statue by Khalil Gibran

Once there lived a man among the hills who possessed a statue wrought by an ancient master. It lay at his door face downward and he was not mindful of it.

One day there passed by his house a man from the city, a man of knowledge, and seeing the statue he inquired of the owner if he would sell it.

The owner laughed and said, “And pray who would want to buy that dull and dirty stone?”

The man from the city said, “I will give you this piece of silver for it.”

And the other man was astonished and delighted.

The statue was removed to the city, upon the back of an elephant. And after many moons the man from the hills visited the city, and as he walked the streets he saw a crowd before a shop, and a man with a loud voice was crying, “Come ye in and behold the most beautiful, the most wonderful statue in all the world. Only two silver pieces to look upon this most marvelous work of a master.”

Thereupon the man from the hills paid two silver pieces and entered the shop to see the statue that he himself had sold for one piece of silver.

 

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Khalil Gibran Museum at Bchare in Lebanon

Hallucinations

Life is supposed to be lived, and not wasted. That’s what everyone says. Yes it is very true it is supposed to be lived, but there are billions of people out there, and everyone has a different way of living it, individual lifestyles. There are articles everywhere telling people and inspiring them on how to live, and make the best out of themselves, but here’s my question, do the people who write these articles really live themselves the lives they teach others to live.

It’s a fantastic organ the brain, it has its secrets, and its weapons (imagination) and its physical and non-existent parts. It is widely known that the average human being only uses about ten percent of it. The not so physical part of our brain is what we call the mind, is that the part which contains our soul? But that is not what I want to talk about here.

It is me I am talking about. I am 19 years old, and I am very disturbed by all the information I have about the ideal life, coming from everywhere, I am sure most of you would agree about all that advice we are given, all the instructions we shall have to obey and all the knowledge we are given to take in, leaves our true minds in horror, and lost in a crowd, we have no idea where to go whom to listen to. It is interesting to note, how much all these institutions play a part in our daily, small decisions. I’m am talking here of the very basic, religion, family, rituals, culture and of course the wide spread internet which leaves all the knowledge of the world hanging around in our jeans.

Over the nineteen years of my life, I have only gained control of my conscious in the past five, but still I have no control over myself. There was a time when seventeen year olds were considered fully grown “adult” men and women, who had no trouble knowing what they want, of course, considering the limitations to information they were given, they had a choice either to rebel or to follow, and when it came to follow, they had only one decision to follow, the words their elders, at a very young age, embedded in their minds.

It seems that as the world’s information has grown infinitely and is now in the pockets of every human being, it has left us, the youth, very confused. We live our mental lives in a different realm every hour, of course, we do end up blaming our hormonal changes, but, really, do you think that is all it is?

It is supposed to be more than that, considering history, where very few people had this problem of not being able to think straight. We, on the other hand, are never able to think straight, we are like children, except that we don’t take pleasure from our imagination, instead we bare it like weight on our shoulders, on our conscience, and at night when we lay on our beds, our mind keeps giving us flashbacks of whatever we had thought and done which wasted our precious moments, and that arises guilt in our throats, blocking our nerves, making us tense, and the only way out is to masturbate to sleep.

Sooner than later this guilt becomes a form of pleasure, and anonymous quotes like, “The worst part about anything that’s self-destructive is that it’s so intimate. You become so close with your addictions and illnesses that leaving them behind is like killing the part of yourself that taught you how to survive.” become a pleasure to the senses, and we calm ourselves down, and instead of curing our illnesses, and trying to get out of the imaginary realm we have created, we end up making it our best of friend, not realizing that we, in our ideation are slowly leaning towards a form of schizophrenia.

Since we are not able to describe this to anyone, we let it take over our lives, and when we are finally ready to step out of this realm and make matters right, that’s when we realize it has been too late. Our conflicts with our past, our parents, our religion, our inner self and our prejudices have consumed and rotted the best part of our lives, and now that we are out of it, it is simply too late. There is no going back in time. Thus another pang of guilt clutches our hearts and vows to our soul:

“Till death do us apart.”