About Yasmin Elahi

I am a typical Pakistani woman, just a face in the crowd! Writing is a hobby with me, something which I do randomly and enjoy thoroughly. My full time jobs are being a homemaker, a mother and a grandmother... jobs I find more fulfilling than anything else in the world.

Dealing with difficult people

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Dear friends, we often come across people whom we find different than the usual lot. They can be obnoxious for no reason, can have a bad temper, or they may find faults in others and never agree with anyone.

The kind of attitude they have makes us steer clear of them and avoid them completely. However, there may be some whom you simply cannot avoid and are forced to put up with. What should be your behaviour in this situation? Here are some suggestions to make things go smoothly, even though some people are way too irritating.

Let us call these complicated people difficult ones as they are difficult to deal with. These people can be divided into many categories, some of which are the mean, the bossy, the smug, the show-offs, etc. Then there are those whose personal grooming is not up to the mark and you feel repulsed when you have any interaction with them. The obnoxious are the extreme category and it can be hard to deal with them.

The mean

Some children think that by being mean to their peers, they are proving that they are better than them. They will try to make fun of you, pass unpleasant remarks and degrade you whenever they get an opportunity. The mean person may also be a grown-up and you have to be more careful when dealing with him/her.

Try not to get distraught by the mean person’s negative behaviour. The best policy is to ignore them. If you reply to their objectionable remarks, they will lose no time in picking up a fight with you which can grow from vocal to physical.

Have full confidence in yourself and believe firmly that this disagreeable behaviour is due to a hidden inferiority complex.

Stay polite with your mean peers and do not stoop down to their level by behaving in the same manner as theirs. Your courtesy may have a positive effect and slowly improve their behaviour and make them realise that their conduct was not proper or acceptable.

The bossy

There are children who simply love to boss around, trying to impose their opinion over everyone. Whether you are in the classroom, in the playground or on an outing, they will always want to have their way.

Bossy people also have the tendency to bully their peers, pressurising them into accepting their views. In an argument, they will try to prove that their stance is correct, without listening to the facts and figures the other person is giving. They may harass you, yell at you, or threaten you of an assault.

Bossy peers should be dealt with tactfully. If you defy them openly, they may become nasty and quickly pick up a quarrel. If you tackle a bossy classmate by using a bit of diplomacy and say, “The option you are giving is not bad, but don’t you think this one is better”.

In this way, you can make them believe that the choice was theirs’ and their domineering nature will be appeased. In trickier situations you can just state that “Majority wins”. When a group of your peers vote against what the bossy one wants, he will be more likely to give in.

The smug

Life gives better opportunities to some children. They may be born in an affluent family and have more luxuries than their peers. Some of you may be more intelligent than your classmates and always attain good grades. In the same way, a few of you may be good at sports. All of us have our good and bad traits.

The smug usually have a sense of self-satisfaction which may grow into arrogance. Instead of attributing their achievements to the better opportunities they received and being grateful for them, they develop a sense of superiority and look down on their peers disdainfully. They are haughty and consider the people around them inferior.

Simply stay clear of the smug children around you. They will make an all out effort to shake your confidence, treat you with scorn and always try to ascertain their superiority on you.

The best way to tackle such peers is to work hard and try your best to prove your mettle. Your good performance and achievement will convince the smug that he/she is not the best of all, and make him realise that their attitude was totally nasty. You should firmly believe that your character, education and achievements matter more than the worldly things they keep on bragging about.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

The show-off

Boasting is perhaps one of the most irritating attitudes a person may have. Making tall claims about everything related to them is an unpleasant hobby of a boastful peer and he is usually disliked by everyone. Whether it is his house, his clothes, his car or his electronic gadgets, he will always claim that his belongings are the most superior of all.

Some show-offs even resort to telling lies to support their tall claims. For example, even if they went to a road side eatery on a weekend, without a blink of the eye, they will claim that they went to a five-star hotel. If they are wearing branded clothes which they got from the flea market, they will brag that an uncle or cousin sent it from abroad!

Whether they are telling you the truth or are lying, always make it clear to the show-off that you are not impressed! Give him the clear signal that you are fully content with your life, your possessions and your circumstances. It is your right to struggle for a better life, but do not allow his bragging act as a catalyst for your efforts. Follow your dreams without being impressed by the negative effects of the boast.

You should firmly believe that your character, education and achievements matter more than the worldly things the show-off keeps on bragging about.

The hygiene-ignorant and ill-groomed

Some children have a poor sense of hygiene and do not know the basics of self-grooming. Often they come to school without brushing their teeth or taking a shower. Their uniform may not be clean or pressed, neither their shoes polished. These children are usually shunned by their peers who feel repulsed by their foul breath or the reek of perspiration coming from them.

Tackle your hygiene-ignorant and ill-groomed peers with kindness. Instead of humiliating them in company, talk to them when you are alone. Explain to them politely that personal grooming is very important to make friends.

Maybe they live in an area where there is a shortage of water, you can advise them to brush and wash properly and use deodorants and talcum powder. Tell them that keeping their uniforms clean and crisply pressed and their shoes polished, is not an impossible task. Your compassion/tolerance can save them from embarrassment and improve their quality of life.

This topic is so comprehensive that I could go on and on. In the end, I would like to remind my young friends that no one among us is perfect! It is humanely impossible to be so. We all have our shortcomings and good traits. It is very easy to overlook our short comings but quickly pounce on our peers’ bad traits. Be careful before judging anyone or giving them a negative label.

By nature, there is also an in-born element of self-righteousness in all of us. Always be on your guard and do not let this element grow out of control, so that you become an unpopular person. Before pointing fingers at someone else, carefully look for your own flaws.

Do you have any of the above mentioned attitudes? Be honest with yourself and if you find yourself on the wrong end, try to correct your weaknesses. If you find them in your peers, try to help them with compassion and a positive mind-set. You may not realise it, but your kindness and patience may change someone’s attitude (and life) for the better.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 30th, 2019

Manners Matter!

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Fareed walks into the lounge where his dad is absent-mindedly flicking through the TV channels.

“I want the remote,” he says as he holds out his hand.

Dad looks at him thoughtfully for a moment and says, “Wouldn’t it sound better if you say, ‘Dad, may I have the remote please?’” Dad’s tone is more of a reprimand than an advice.

Fareed gives his father an embarrassed look and says, “Sorry dad, I will be careful in the future. Now please may I have the remote?”

Times have changed! So have the values about a lot of aspects of behaviour. In this fast paced world we are living in, most of us are in such a hurry that we have no time to meet the demands of good manners. An attitude which was totally unacceptable a generation back, is not even given a second thought by youngsters today.

My dear friends, I definitely do not want to imply that your generation is ill-mannered or discourteous. Actually, there is a very thin line between appearing ‘cool’ and being insolent. I feel that your concepts are a bit confused. The manners or behaviour you consider as old fashioned, are true for all times and all people, young or old.

On more than one occasion you must have heard from your parents, “Would you please mind your manners!” Maybe this is one sentence which, though short, is common to all parents all over the world — and perhaps very irritating for all children!

Often, unintentionally we make some lapses in our behaviour without meaning to be impolite or rude, but a timely correction from parents and elders goes a long way in laying the foundation of good manners.

A beautiful quote says “A parent can give a child no greater gift than beautiful manners.”

Let us discuss some basic principles of good manners. I am sure most of you follow these rules, but a reminder now and then helps in refreshing one’s behaviour. I assure you that practicing these simple guidelines will go a long way in guiding you towards a successful life.

First impression is not the last impression

It is often said that “The first impression is the last impression”. People usually agree with this saying, but I have a different view. Suppose in a party you meet a person for the first time. You are impressed by his looks and dressing, and want to be friends with him. But when he starts talking in a loud tone, boasts about his education or wealth or is rude to someone, you are bound to change your opinion at once.

Always behave in a dignified manner when you are in company. Never try to show off or impress others. When you are gentle, kind and polite, your actions will speak louder than your words.

To put it in a few words, “A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait” said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German literary figure.

Politeness is the foundation of good manners

Showing respect to the feelings of people around you, valuing their opinion and trying to be helpful, are all the qualities of a polite person. When an older person enters the room, stand up to greet him/her and offer your seat if there is no place to sit.

Hold the door for the person behind you when you enter an elevator/room. In a supermarket, if you see an elderly person or a young mother with kids, struggling with his/her heavy trolley, offer to help by pulling their trolley for them. In a queue, never push or try to move up in the line.

Keep a smiling face and a cheerful disposition when you are in company. Always be quick to give a compliment where it is deserved. Your kind words can make someone’s day.

Use the magic words often

‘Please’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Sorry’ are the magic words which are sparingly used by people with good manners. Some children think it is not cool to use these words nowadays, but I assure you that using them often will help you throughout your life.

If you get a gift, do not take it for granted. When you say thanks or write a thank you note, you give the message that you appreciate the gesture and thoughtfulness of the person who has given you the gift.

Suppose you push someone by mistake in the school line or at a park. Instead of just walking away, don’t you think the shoved person will feel better if you say sorry? Try to put yourself in the other individual’s shoes and think what you would expect in such a situation.

When you ask for a favour, always begin your sentence with ‘please’. Even if you want a sibling to get a glass of water for you, don’t forget to use this magic word. Your words sound more like a request than an order, when you say please before asking for something.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Respect and love your parents and elders

Respect and love for our elders is an essential part of good manners. Never talk back to your parents, grandparents or teachers and listen politely when they are speaking.

Our parents are our best guides and mentors. At every stage of life, they endeavour to bring out the best in us. This may mean reprimands, scolding and punishments too, if we behave in an improper way. Often children feel resentful and sulky when they are scolded, but as they grow up and have to face the world on their own, they realise that their parents’ advise was for their own good.

Be thankful to your parents for their tireless efforts for your well-being and always be quick to lend a helping hand whenever you can. Try to the best of your abilities to make them proud of your appropriate behaviour, both at home and when you are in company.

Grandparents usually love you unconditionally and think that giving their advice or views on matters related to you are their right. Don’t be impolite if you have a different idea about something. At times you may not follow their advice or instructions, but never forget that they are much senior to you, both in age and experience. Even if your opinion is different from theirs’, don’t challenge them in company. You can discuss the issue later on and explain your point of view on the matter.

Teachers play an important role in our lives and lay the foundations of our future. Always be respectful to them and value the hard work they put in to your education.

Be kind to younger ones

A very important component of good manners is to be loving and kind towards your siblings, friends and cousins. Help them when they need your assistance and try to settle disputes amicably. Children are often confused when the word respect is used for those younger than them, but every human being deserves respect. Remember that all of us, young or old, have an ego, which is hurt by rude or unkind words and behaviour.

Your younger siblings often idealise you and feel proud in following in your footsteps. Be a good example for them and pass on the good values you have learnt from your parents, without being harsh. Often, a loving advice goes deeper than an inconsiderate reprimand.

The way you talk is a mirror to your manners

The way you speak in company is a reflection of your upbringing and background. Keep your tone polite and courteous and make eye contact when someone is speaking to you. Always make the person you are conversing with, feel that you respect him. Never interrupt when a discussion is going on and if you have to say something, always use “Excuse me please” before starting to talk.

While talking to someone, try to stick to topics which are of common interest. Don’t keep bragging about yourself, your achievements or your family, as these are not a mark of good manners. Holding your temper when someone is rude to you proves that your manners are much better than the offender’s.

The right way to argue

Disagreements are a test for our manners and upbringing. Respect for the opinion of the participants in the argument proves that you know proper etiquettes.

Never raise your voice to prove your point, because this would in no way support your opinion. Nor make it a matter of your self-esteem and move away from arguments if you cannot win. Remember that participating in debates/discussions is a way to widen your concepts on different issues and also increase your knowledge.

Table manners are important

Very little importance is given to table manners these days. My parents had very strict rules for me and my siblings. Here I shall relate a few of them:

• Never complain about food, even if it is not your favourite.

• Never bring a book, toy or other unrelated things (there were no cell phones in my childhood) to the dining table!

• Wait for the elders to start before you fill your plate.

• Don’t try to grab the best portion.

• Stay on the table until everyone has finished eating.

• Always make light conversation while eating.

• If something serious has to be discussed it can wait, till after lunch/dinner time.

I feel that writing about good manners is like trying to fit an ocean in a cocoon. I could go on and on but have to stop somewhere!

I would like to sum up with a saying of Hazrat Ali R.A, the fourth caliph of Islam “Good manners are your beauty.”

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 27th, 2018

Let’s Paint Pakistan Green https://www.dawn.com/news/1428668

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

There is a fable about an old man who was planting a tree by a roadside. A passerby stopped to watch and asked in an inquisitive tone, “Why are you planting this tree, when you won’t live to enjoy its shade?”

The old man replied with a smile, “I am not planting it for myself, but for the generations to come.”

Martin Luther, a German theologist, once said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

Friends, every day we read about global warming and climatic changes and how disastrous it is for the human race and all living things on our planet. In simple words, climate change refers to the changes in Earth’s climate, especially the gradual increase in temperature. Out of many reasons for this rise in average temperatures, a major one is the high level of carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases in the atmosphere. This in turn is due to the diminishing forest cover around the world, a negative effect of the rapid industrialization taking place all over the world.

You all must have learned in your science classes how trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, for the process of photosynthesis, a cycle nature has devised for them to create their own food. In return, they give out oxygen and moisture, which are essential for our survival. As forests are decreasing, this natural process to keep a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has become badly disturbed. The importance of increasing the green cover and forests, is one of the most important steps suggested by experts.

You may not be aware that Pakistan is one of the worst affected countries from climatic changes. Rising temperatures, severe droughts, flooding due to heavy rains and melting glaciers are some of the problems we are facing. Here we will not discuss the reasons, but our small input to fight this grave problem.

Friends, we all can put in efforts, big or small, to make a difference and fight this enemy which is not knocking at our door, but has already entered our precious motherland. Although the international standard for forest cover for a country is 12 percent, a World Bank study shows that Pakistan has only 3.3 percent of forest area.

Let’s make a vow that from now on, we shall paint Pakistan green! As I have mentioned above, deforestation is a major cause for the rising temperatures in our homeland. Ruthless felling of trees by the timber mafia for their selfish gains, for fuel by the poor people who do not have alternate source of energy and an indifferent policy by the government, have reduced our forest cover and greenery to a disastrous level. Instead of lamenting on our national loss, let us decide to take our destiny in our own hands and strive for what contribution we can make to control the situation.

Friends, here are a few suggestions for a greener Pakistan.

Start a green drive

You may be surprised at my suggestion, thinking that this is something for older people to do. But if you think deeply, you will realise that you can work according to your age. Your plantation drive can start from your homes, your family and your neighbourhood, and you can work on it according to your age.

You can start by planting small plants in pots, and trees in the open areas in your homes. Those of you who live in apartments or small houses, can reserve a corner of your house or a part of your balcony where you can keep small pots of plants of your choice.

Spread awareness among your family and neighbourhood and request them to join your plantation drive. You can offer to volunteer to help in planting, watering and taking care of the green areas on weekends for those who do not have a lot of helping hands and find it hard to take care of their plants and trees.

One tree for every child

Recently I was deeply impressed by a story I read about a prospering village. This village adopted ‘A tree for a child’ policy on a self-help basis. With every child born, a new fruit tree was planted and handed over to the child when he/she was old enough to look after it.

Although this was fiction, if we think seriously this measure could make our country green in a few years. Whenever a baby is born in your family, ask the parents to plant a tree dedicated to him/her. Trees can also be planted for older children and they will feel proud as they see their saplings grow with them, out beating them in height in no time.

Plant according to your age

The younger ones among you can look after small pots, after requesting your parents or elder siblings to plant seeds or saplings for you. Make sure that the plants get enough sunshine and water them regularly according to their requirement. But be careful not to over water your seeds, as it will destroy them.

The older ones among you can go for bigger plants, shrubs, creepers or trees, whichever you like more. Ask around, consult your science teachers or search the internet for the vegetation best suited for your area. Your mum will be delighted if you grow vegetables or herbs in big pots or open areas in your homes.

Plant according to your region

Pakistan is a country with diverse physical features. We have highlands, mountains, plains, valleys, deserts and a long sea shore. Find out which plants and trees are the best to grow in the climate of your region and the best months of the year to plant them.

Choosing wisely will save you from disappointment if the plants you sow wither away quickly.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Plant in open spaces, roadsides, parks and public places

We often see open areas which are devoid of any greenery. With the permission of an authorised person, you can work in a group in such places in your neighbourhood and plant suitable trees. Take turns to water these plants and look out for any pests or other problems.

You can consult an older person to help you out in solving your problems if using pesticides or adding manure is required. You will feel proud when these trees grow and create a green cover for the previously barren area.

Save your seeds

Friends, we all enjoy fruits at our homes. Make it a point to save the seeds of these fruits. Dry them in shady place for a few days and then you can replant them in a more open space so that they can flourish into a large tree. If you do not have enough space, give them to your acquaintances who live in bigger homes.

In the same way, some vegetables can also be grown. Tomatoes, lady finger and spinach are some of the vegetables which you can easily grow at home.

Create a green fund in every home

My young friends, you will need money for buying seeds and plants to paint Pakistan green! Create a common fund in each home.

You can request your parents and grandparents to donate to your ‘green fund’ and also save some amount each month from your pocket money. We all love to go out and enjoy on weekends. For the love of trees, I would suggest that for at least one weekend every month, you all skip this outing and add to your fund instead.

At the end of each month, if you have money left in your green fund, plant some more or give the amount to those who cannot spare money to create a green corner in their homes.

Follow the instructions in parks and green areas

I feel sad to write these lines, but as a nation, we love to break rules. Often clear instructions in bold words are written at important points in parks which read, ‘Do not walk on the grass’, or ‘Do not pluck flowers’, but people ignore these instructions with impunity.

Do not follow the example of those who break rules, but create awareness among your peers that protecting and taking care of greenery (and following rules) is not only our duty, but it is also for our own good.

Cut down on paper usage

I hope you all know that the paper we write on, the paper plates and cups we use during outings and the tissue papers we throw away after using once, are all made from wood. Use your exercise books carefully, utilising them as much as you possibly can. Cut down on items of onetime use and avail recycling measures wherever possible.

Although these steps are simple, they may be time consuming. But staying out in the open will also be beneficial for your health. In the long run, adopting these measures will create a big difference, a difference for a better tomorrow.

Best wishes for a greener and better Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, Young World, August 25th, 2018

Vacation with a difference!

Children of all ages are happy these days. Exams are over, results have been announced and hopefully all of you have passed with flying colours. After appearing for your final exams in the sweltering summer heat and the hard work you all put in throughout your academic year, you all deserve respite from the tedious school regime the annual summer vacation provides.

Friends, just like you, your parents also look forward with anticipation towards these relaxing months. For mums, vacation means no pulling out sleepy children from their beds to get them ready in time for school, no pressing uniforms daily (and sometimes washing them too) and no packing lunch boxes and filling water bottles. In the evenings also, they have more time for themselves, as they do not have to help the children in finishing their homework and assignments, as well as making sure that they have dinner on time and do not stay up late

For dads also these months are a respite from dropping grumpy children at their respective schools, helping them out in subjects they find difficult and catering to their endless requirements for school projects.

Friends, have you ever noticed how quickly the charm of the much-awaited months wears off for your parents? Hardly a fortnight into the holidays and you find your mothers at their wits’ end, complaining about the extra workload they have to bear. With no strict routine to follow, you all get lazier than usual and create a mess in every corner of your home. Late breakfasts have to be served and in these hot summer days, that is an extra burden on your poor mother.

Fathers are also vexed as they find the house noisy late into the nights and have to settle the arguments between siblings on nearly a daily basis. The television remote, which was theirs’ solely to flip through their favourite channels late into the night, is often nowhere to be found. It also has to be shared with the kids, who want to watch programmes of their choice (even if daddy misses the news or his favourite ‘talk show’).

This frustration is definitely not one-sided. A couple of weeks into the vacation and children feel frustrated and complain that their parents are getting irritable and they are being scolded unnecessarily. Friends, what you fail to realise is that your parents are not on vacation like you! They have to carry on their normal life with their day to day responsibilities, both at home and at work.

In the intense heat of these summer months, parents are simply drained out of energy. The change in your routine proves to be an extra stress for them. With all the free time you have at hand, you unintentionally create problems for your parents, which you can easily resolve with only a little consideration for them.

This year, let’s join heads to think of some simple steps to make this vacation as enjoyable and relaxing for your parents as they are for you. Here are some tips which will keep you happy and your parents stress-free during these holidays.

Set a mutually acceptable time-table

The most common complain mothers have during holidays is that the children stay up late and then get up late in the mornings, sometimes even around noon. For them, this means serving late breakfast and making beds high past noon, as well as clearing up the mess you created during the wee hours of the nights you stayed up.

Sleeping an hour or two later than your school days routine may be acceptable to your parents, but if you stay up the whole night you are not being fair to them.

As soon as holidays begin, discuss with your mum a mutually acceptable time for getting up. Help mummy with breakfast and opt for a simple breakfast you can manage yourself instead of vexing your mums with demands for an intricate meal. Fruits, a bowl of cereal, bread slices with butter, jam or your favourite spread with a glass of milk can be a simple menu for your breakfast which you can have without any help.

Be helpful

Vacation gives you more leisure hours than your usual routine. You have every right to enjoy this free time according to your wish, but try to be considerate to your parents too. Helping mum in her daily chores, clearing up your room, setting and clearing the table at mealtimes, are small gestures from you which will make your mum more than thankful.

You can polish daddy’s shoes, help in washing the car or just give him a good foot massage when he comes home from a tiring and hot day at work.

Help your parents in the yearly summer cleaning. Assist your mum in clearing extra clothes which you won’t wear anymore from your wardrobe, clear your drawers, study table and shoes/toys racks of the things you can easily give away. Your dad may need your help to sort out and file important documents, bills etc, a task, which he never finds time to do.

Your efforts will make your parents happy and also de-clutter your home. The best benefit will go to the needy persons who will find your extra stuff a luxury they cannot afford.

Do not be rowdy

Children usually stay up late and tend to be noisy when left on their own. When you are choosing activities for your late night sprints, chose those which will not cause disturbance for your parents.

During the hours you stay up, if you are watching your favourite show on television, be careful to keep the volume down. If you are playing a board game, such as ‘Ludo’, ‘Carrom’ or ‘Monopoly’, make sure that you are not making a lot of noise. It’s natural for siblings to argue and sometimes quarrel, but try to settle your differences amicably instead of running to mum and dad on trivial issues.

If your parents do not sleep soundly at night, they will not be fresh to start their daily chores. Remember that their day will start on the usual hour, and they will already be stressed out when you wake up. This will bring on scolding sessions, which neither you nor your parents will enjoy. So instead of sulking around on the reprimands you get on a routine basis, try to understand the reasons of your parents’ moodiness and quick temper.

Do things together

Vacation should bring enjoyment for your parents too. After all, they toil around the year to make your academic year a success. There can be many activities which you can enjoy with your parents as well as make your vacation creative.

Hunt for DIY’s (do it yourself) projects on the internet. Choose the ones which are cost-effective and in which you can use some things already at home. Involve mum and dad in these projects, they will really enjoy this activity and you will also end up finishing it better.

When I was a schoolgirl, summer vacation was the time when Ammi used to teach me and my sisters new stitches of hand embroidery, an activity which we thoroughly enjoyed. Learning to stitch on missing buttons and simple mending steps will make you feel more co-operative towards your mum.

Your dad can teach you cycling and if you are lucky enough to have a garden, you can learn gardening tips from him. Mum would really love it if you help her in planting herbs and flowers in small pots. Paint the pots in bright colours, place them on your entrance and help her in watering them as per their requirement.

After dinner is over, you can play a game of Scrabble, Ludo or any other board games your parents enjoy. Picnics, a visit to the zoo or an evening at the beach or a park, are some activities which you can enjoy with your parents. They will feel refreshed and relaxed after the outing as we all need a change from our day to day routine.

Surprise your parents with a day-off!

Friends have you ever thought of giving a complete day off to your parents? Plan a Sunday in which you serve them a simple breakfast in bed, make your own beds and clear up the house for them. You can give your mother a respite from the kitchen and assure her that you will be happy enough to finish the left-over food in the refrigerator.

You can insist that they go on an outing on their own. If you can manage to stay back with your siblings at home (and your parents are comfortable with it), you can do so. Otherwise, plan to spend the day with your grandparents, while your parents have a full day to spend the way they like, indulging in an outing or activity they enjoy, something which will be a luxury for them.

Friends, life is not as easy for your parents as you think it is. They have to fight on many fronts to keep you happy, safe and comfortable. This summer holidays, in addition to your own activities, give them time to relax and rejuvenate to face the tough routine of the year ahead. Let this vacation be different, so that mum and dad look forward to the next vacation too!

Published in Dawn, Young World, July 7th, 2018



Attitudes: Insensitive sympathies…http://dawn.com/2011/12/18/attitudes-insensitive-sympathies/

The only predictable fact about life is that it is totally unpredictable! Consoling (or trying to do so) people who have lost a near and dear one has some norms. But often, in our eagerness to ease their pain, we forget these norms.

Yasmin Elahi

Death has different ways of striking and carrying away the people we love dearly. Sometimes it comes on tip toes from behind, taking us by surprise, hitting like a tsunami, destroying our peace of mind and happiness in just a moment and leaving us agonised and dazed by the intensity of the pain it creates.And on others, we watch in despair and anguish the ebbing away of the tide of life from a cherished person, hoping against hope that some miracle would stop it from striking.

When it comes to the passing away of our loved ones, the sorrow it causes has the power to sweep off the feet (though momentarily) even those of us who are emotionally strong. Only time can heal the heartache we experience. But this is also the time when we expect and need maximum emotional support from friends and family, and more often than…

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A Simple Guide to Popularity

All of us want to be popular among our family, peers and teachers, but very few of us know the simple tips which make us better-liked than others. We usually look up with admiration to people who are more popular than us and sometimes even envy them.

It may interest you to know that we only have to follow some simple rules to gain popularity. Read and follow this simple guide to popularity and gain admiration within your social circle in no time.

Share and care

Generally, people who have a high graph of popularity are quick to share their blessings with their acquaintances. Whether it is a book, a gadget or a meal, they like to share their belongings with people around them and even happily give these things away, whether as a gift or a loan.

meal, they like to share their belongings with people around them and even happily give these things away, whether as a gift or a loan.

Popular people also love to share their joys and sorrows with friends and family. They are sympathetic when they find their friends in a problem and always try to be first to congratulate others in their moments of joy. They are quick to show people in their circle that they are an important part of their lives.

Caring for people around us endears us to their hearts. A kind word, a sincere advice and a helping hand in difficult times, and sometimes even a gesture as simple as offering to carry someone’s load, are small acts which have far-reaching effects.

Try to visit the aged in your family, especially when they are not well or at least call them from time to time. These small acts will make a special place for you in their hearts.

Always remember that a soft voice, which expresses a logical view, is more effective than a loud one. Soft-spoken people are usually popular as everyone feels more comfortable in talking to them.

Politeness always pays

Being polite is the easiest way to win over someone. It may be holding the door for the person who enters a room or car, offering your seat to an elderly person who cannot find a place in a bus or standing up when someone older than you enters the room. These are endearing gestures, which people do not forget easily.

Always try to be the first to greet friends when you meet them. Take interest in their activities and ask simple questions to show that you give importance to them. Listen politely and never interrupt someone when they are speaking. Always wait for your turn when you are in a discussion.

Remember, ‘Thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘sorry’ are magic words which are a mark of politeness and good upbringing. Using these words habitually will add to your popularity.

Be a good listener

Most of us seem to be in love with our own voice. Instead of listening attentively to what our friends or peers have to say, we like to speak non-stop without caring whether people around us are interested in what we are talking about or not!

Most of the times, it is better to take interest in what people around us are discussing. When we listen with interest, we are bound to gain knowledge and learn to perceive things with an angle different from ours. When friends are talking about their problems, only if we listen attentively, we will understand their troubles better and be able to give out a word of advice where needed.

While discussing a current issue or a hot topic, we usually get over excited and raise our voices to try to drown out those around us. Always remember that a soft voice, which expresses a logical view, is more effective than a loud one. Soft-spoken people are usually popular as everyone feels more comfortable in talking to them.

Light the world with a smile

Have you ever wondered why you take an instant liking to a new teacher if she enters the classroom with a smile on her face? Often we have to go to a party or wedding where we know very few people. On entering the venue, as we look around for a seat, we are instinctively drawn to a person with a smiling demeanour. We are more comfortable with a doctor who wears a smile on his face.

Remember that a smile has a magnetic and endearing power. It is also highly infectious and has the power to cheer up people around us. Learn to smile even if you don’t feel like doing so. All of us have problems, but wearing a sulking look will not solve them in anyway. People who have a smiling face are definitely more popular than those who habitually wear a frown.

Be helpful

Helping out people around us is a very endearing habit. You may help a classmate in subjects he/she finds difficult, help your mum by sharing her workload, take care of your younger siblings or run an errand for your grandparents or an elderly neighbour.

You may be better than your parents or grandparents at computers, tabs or cellphones. Never complain if they ask for your help repeatedly. Consideration for others with a quick helping hand is a simple quality which makes one popular.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Kindness is cool

Speak lovingly with your younger siblings and cousins, and be kind to them. Take interest in their activities in order to show how much you care for them.

Never be harsh or rude to your maid, driver or any other person employed by your parents. Listen with sympathy if at times they discuss their problems with

you. Help them out whenever you possibly can.

Give away your extra toys, clothes and books to the needy people around you. They will be more than grateful for your compassion. Remember that kindness always pays back positively.

Personal grooming is paramount

At first thought you may feel that this tip is not related to popularity. But in my opinion, a person looking fresh and neatly dressed is always better liked than those who do not care about their personal hygiene. We usually shun people who smell of perspiration, have a foul breath or are generally untidy.

Keep your nails trimmed neatly and hair properly brushed. Shower daily, brush your teeth twice a day and be sure to use a deodorant when going out. You do not have to spend a lot on these things; only adopting healthy habits will make you well-groomed and attractive to others.

Try out these simple and easy tips to be better liked in your circle. I am sure you will find your graph of popularity rise in no time.

Published in Dawn, Young World, October 7th, 2017

Bounties Unbounded


What comes to your mind when you think of Ramazan? Some of you associate this month of fasting with lips parched with thirst and a stomach growling for want of food. Others do not find fasting as difficult and look forward to the mouth-watering pakoras, samosas, fruit chaats and other goodies mummy prepares so lovingly in Ramazan.

Only the more compassionate among us will feel a surging sense of sympathy for the less privileged around us, and how hunger for them is not an option but a part of daily life!

The holy month of Ramazan brings with it countless blessings for us. As you all know, fasting is the third pillar of Islam. Much is written and said about the spiritual blessings of this sacred month and how most of us come out of this month a better and more considerate person.

There can be no two opinions about the spiritual gains of this month, but before I write about them, I would like my friends to know about some additional benefits as well.

Physical benefits of fasting

While we all consider fasting a religious obligation, only a few of us have an idea about the physical benefits we derive from it. Fasting is a healthy practice, but only if properly implemented. It promotes elimination of toxins from the body, making the internal organs healthier.

When we are fasting, the digestive organs get proper time to rest instead of being constantly at work when we go about eating all day. The enzymes, which are required to break down the food we consume, get more concentrated as they do not have to work on the junk food most of us habitually munch on. This leads to better absorption of the nutrients in the food we eat at iftar.

Some experts assert that fasting promotes resolution of inflammatory diseases and allergies. It reduces production of insulin and the pancreas has to work less. Another benefit of fasting is that it tends to bring down blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Fasting also helps to reduce excessive body weight. The first response of the body to fasting is the breakdown of glucose. When the store of glucose is exhausted, ketosis begins. This is the breakdown of fats stored in our body to release energy. And this in turn brings down our body weight.

It has been observed that fasting reduces craving for processed foods. It promotes the desire for natural foods, especially water and fruits. Fruits increase the body’s store of essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A and E are good antioxidants, which help to boost our immune system.

Fasting promotes healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Although we all love the fried snacks which are usually a part of our iftar meals, we should be particular about not overeating them. Try your best to avoid too rich and oily food items and opt for natural food and a lot of liquids instead. By sticking to a balanced diet in Ramazan, we can derive the maximum physical benefits from fasting.

Moral benefits

The holy month of Ramazan comes as a blessing for us, as it enhances our moral values. We learn to be more compassionate towards the needy people around us who often go hungry. They may be fasting too, but hardly have enough food for sehr and iftar. By giving away as much alms as we can (or when our parents do so), we learn to care and share with others in need.

We also feel empathy for the fasting helpers in our home and try our best not to burden them with unnecessary workload. Out of compassion for them, we perform many personal chores ourselves, (something we do not habitually do) to make their fast easier for them.

Try to nurture these feelings of sympathy even after Ramazan, so that we are a better and more considerate person throughout the year.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Economic benefits

If you observe closely, you will find how people with financial needs look forward to Ramazan and the economical assistance it brings for them. People usually give away a major part of their zakat in this month. As you all know zakat, the fourth pillar of Islam, is a fixed percentage of our wealth, which is obligatory for all affluent Muslims to distribute among the poor on a yearly basis.

During this blessed month, even the underprivileged manage to have wholesome meals as many people give away provisions for the whole month. They happily buy new clothes, shoes and other items of necessity from the money they receive from their well-off Muslim brethren, luxuries which they cannot afford otherwise. Debts are cleared, entrepreneurs set up small businesses and hard-up parents usually plan weddings of their children from these donations and alms. NGOs doing complimentary social work also depend heavily on the funds they receive during Ramazan.

Social benefits

Ramazan is the perfect time to strengthen ties with our family. In the fast-paced lives we all lead, during the normal months, we seldom have meals together or do so in a rush.

Ramazan is the month when all gather at the iftar table before the call for the Maghrib prayers. We talk more to each other, share our day to day activities, while parents and grandparents will have some quick word of advice or stories of their own to share.

Boys are usually particular about praying with the congregation during Ramazan. They also go to the mosque with their fathers for Taraweeh prayers. This helps them to be better acquainted with the neighbours and make new friends. Some mosques have arrangements for ladies also.

Sending trays of iftar snacks to neighbours is something most of us practice. This promotes a feeling of goodwill and often becomes the reason to strike a new friendship.

Iftar parties also help us to connect with relatives and friends. This strengthens our social ties with them.

Spiritual benefits Last (but by no means the least), are the unending spiritual benefits of this sacred month.

The Holy Quran says:

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness” (2:183).

Fasting is not only abstaining from food and drink, it also teaches us to keep away from all bad deeds. We shun quarrels, unnecessary talking, telling lies and learn to exercise self-restraint in all walks of life.

Fasting inculcates in us a natural desire to perform good deeds. We feel closer to our creator and often take out time to ponder on the message of the Holy Quran as we recite it more during Ramazan. Fasting is a blessing in disguise for those of us who are irregular in your daily prayers. As the holy month starts, resolve that we will pray five times daily even when it is over.

The blessings of Ramazan are innumerable and I have tried my best to emphasise on those which my young friends can comprehend easily. In the end, I would like to quote two Hadiths about this month, so that you can understand the unbounded bounties of Ramazan.

“Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High Says, ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’ For the fasting person, there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.” [Imam Bukhari]

In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) says, “Ramazan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Imam Tabarani]

A very happy and blessed Ramazan to all of you with prayers that Allah accepts our fasts, forgives our sins, guides us to the right path and brings all of us closer to Him, not only in this month but always! Ameen.

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 19th, 2018



درد کے صحرا سے لی مٹی

اشکوں کی نہر سے لیا پانی

ہمت وعزم کے پہاڑ کی چوٹی سے

اٹھائی کچھ ان چھوئی پاکیزہ برف

ملایا اس میں پھر کچھ وفا کا رنگ

اور ایثار سے گوندھ کے اٹھایا خمیر

شاید یوں اللہ نے بنایا ہے

ماں کا وجود

خوشی سے سہتی ہے وہ ہر غم

اپنے لال کو دکھوں سے بچانے کے لئے

کرتی ہے وہ اپنی نیند قرباں

اپنے بچے کو چین کی نیند سلانے کے لئے

سائیباں بن جاتی ہے وہ

زندگی کی دھوپ میں

 اللہ کا عکس ہے پنہاں دیکھا

ماں کے ہر اک روپ میں

زندگی بھر ممتا کے دکھ سہتی ہے وہ

اور اکثر یہ بھول جاتی ہے

کہ وہ صرف اک ماں نہیں

انساں بھی ہے !

عورت بھی ہے !

لیکن کبھی یوں بھی ہوتا ہے

ممتا کے دکھوں سہتے سہتے

 تھک سی جاتی ہے وہ

اپنے منصب کو بھول کر

زندگی کے دامن سے

چرانا چاہتی ہے کچھ رنگ

اپنے بے رنگ خوابوں کو سجانے کے لئے

لیکن یہ لغزش ہوتی ہے بس

چند لمحوں کے لئے

کہ فرض کا آہنی ہاتھ

اس کو جھنجھوڑ دیتا ہے

اور یاد دلاتا ہے


یہ خواہش اسے زیب دیتی نہیں

کہ وہ انساں نہیں

عورت نہیں

پہلے اک ماں ہے


جس کو بنایا ہے اللہ نے

درد سے

اشکوں سے

وفا سے


ایثار سے !

رنج و غم کو اسے گلے لگانا ہے

اور اولاد کے لئے مٹ جانا ہے!

یاسمین الہی

You are a murderer!

You are a doctor, and yet you let someone die…just like that!
All you cared for was your fees… You were only bothered about your bloody fees…
You should be ashamed of yourself. Your degree should be torn and then burnt into the fire and your PMDC registration should be canceled right away and you should be hanged till death…because you were part of this murder!
I am a Pakistani and these above lines are wrenched from the bottom of my heart. I just found out that a woman died in a hit and run case yesterday, in Karachi, near Sea View. I am sure you all must be aware of this tragic incident; I am not going to focus on the mad driver who didn’t stop his car and instead, ran all over her and didn’t even stop for one second to look back at what he had done … He’s a murderer and he will rot in hell…
I am not going to comment on that bloody desperate thief who came forward to see the severely injured woman on the road…And in the pretense of providing a helping hand, he STOLE her mobile phone…without even thinking for one second that her phone could have been used for locating her family…or her family would have died a thousand deaths when they would have tried to contact her and her phone would have been turned off because that’s what thieves do, right? No… I am not commenting on this either…
I am commenting and condemning this DOCTOR who refused to treat her when the eye witnesses and some police constables took her to the nearest medical center. This DOCTOR had the audacity to refuse any kind of treatment because all she was worried about was the fact that the woman’s family was not there and her main question was that “Who would pay my fees?” That patient was dying… I am sure no one could have saved her…but at least some HUMANITY could have been expected from that DOCTOR…right?
My hands are cold right now, my eyes blurry with tears…I am mourning the death of humanity in our nation… our nation has stooped to the lowest levels and I really don’t know what to do now…my head is pounding with the images of this accident site and some flashbacks of the sanitary worker that died when THREE DOCTORS refused to treat him in Umerkot few months ago…but above all…my heart is HURT at the inhumanity of all these doctors… It’s killing me because I am a Doctor myself and we take OATHS to protect people. We have pledged to keep people’s safety and benefits before our own…and in cases of emergency…we are bound to come up front and take control…without thinking about money or any other superficial things!
It is my humble request to all, who read this post… Please do something… This nation is dying… Please please please become someone’s light instead of prying it away from them…
To all the doctors out there, don’t forget that YOU were bestowed with the power of healing… YOU were entrusted with the amanat of taking care of people before your own needs… YOU are going to be held accountable too!
Think a thousand times before you refuse treatment to any patient next time…
Dr.Ayesha Ansar Khan