Edhi: the man, the legacy

For the last few days I have been struggling for words. So much has been written about Abdul Sattar Edhi, the enormity of his mission, his endless struggle to alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden, the sick and the neglected segments of our society.

Words simply fail me, what do you write about a legend, an institution? Where do I begin and where should I end? But perhaps I am wrong in my quest for words, because there can be no adjectives fit enough to describe the extent of the work Edhi started and kept on doing until his health failed him.

How can I pay a tribute to the man who unflinchingly bathed and enshrouded burnt and decomposed corpses, neither the acrid smell of burnt flesh nor the sickening stench of rotting bodies stopping him from his dedicated work?

started and kept on doing until his health failed him.

How can I pay a tribute to the man who unflinchingly bathed and enshrouded burnt and decomposed corpses, neither the acrid smell of burnt flesh nor the sickening stench of rotting bodies stopping him from his dedicated work?

I cannot find words fit enough to describe a man of Edhi’s stature. But the writer in me is restless and wants to try, although nothing I can write could be worthy enough for him. I also want my young readers to know more about Edhi and his mission.

Beginning from the scratch, Edhi Sahab created a charitable empire and his foundation is Pakistan’s largest welfare organisation, filling in the gap which the state should have covered. But the remarkable fact about our national hero is that he never gave up his simple lifestyle till his very end. Although he got millions of rupees in donations, he was content with only two sets of clothes of coarse cotton and he was never uncomfortable in meeting dignitaries and high officials in these clothes.

The two room apartment above the office of Edhi Foundation in Kharadar was his humble home for decades. He felt no shame in calling himself poor when he would get millions in donations. His ego was not hurt when he begged on the streets for charity.

We all should pay due respect to Edhi Sahab’s mother who instilled in him the habit of helping the needy since his early childhood. She would give him two paisa daily and make sure that he gave away one paisa in charity. In 1947 when the family moved to Pakistan, Edhi idealised the newly formed country to be a Muslim welfare state. But his dreams were shattered as he helplessly watched his paralysed and mentally disabled mother die, with no support from the state for the struggling family.

The passion of serving the downtrodden ran in Edhi’s blood like a fire which kept him restless and unable to concentrate on anything else. In 1951, full of idealism and hope, he stood on the streets of Karachi and asked for donations to buy an ambulance and a small space to set up a dispensary to aid the poor. He managed to collect enough funds to buy an old Hillman van and an eight feet dispensary. He spent hours washing and polishing the battered vehicle before proudly painting ‘Poor Man’s Van’ on both sides. The van became his prized possession as he drove round the city helping people to get quick medical assistance.

Edhi’s efforts were only the beginning of a new era of social services in Pakistan. What started off as a small dispensary in Mithadar, transformed into the country’s largest charitable organisation, comprising mobile dispensaries, ambulances, orphanages, shelter homes, animal hostel, maternity homes, old homes, morgues and graveyards.

Edhi began with a single van, and died with a fleet of ambulances, helicopters, orphanages and an army of volunteers dedicated to saving life. Today, there are 335 centres with 1,800 ambulances in the country, and thousands dependent on him for their free food, water, medicines and shelter. His centres are abroad too, in the US, Canada, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Middle East.

Edhi Foundation owns the largest fleet of ambulances in the world. With the network spread out in every part of Pakistan, whether there is a bomb blast, a terrorist attack, a fire or an earthquake, these white coloured ambulances reach out to the needy in just minutes.

Edhi devoted sixty years of his life helping the poorest of the poor. Bathing the mentally retarded, feeding the children at his orphanages, spending time with the abandoned people in his Old Homes, Edhi never had time for himself or his family.

He had nerves of steel but a heart of gold. Spending sleepless nights reaching out to those in need, he worked tirelessly for the under privileged. His frail figure bent by the workload he carried happily, his aging face never lost its humble smile. When he was exhausted after bathing hundreds of dead bodies after a calamity, natural or man instigated, his attitude never showed a sign of strain. When his health did not allow him to be physically active anymore, he would sit in a wheelchair with a box, asking for donations from people passing by. And even a humble donation was appreciated with a smile from the great man.

Edhi’s wife Bilquis was always at his side in his social work. Together they created Pakistan’s biggest adoption network, where abandoned babies are given up for adoption. But the couple made tireless efforts to ensure that the children were handed over to deserving couples, who could give them a comfortable and respectable life.

For Edhi, humanity was above everything. His philosophy was ‘love human beings, serve the humanity’. He beleived that to be a good Muslim we should pay importance to Huqul Ibaad. His services were beyond any consideration of cast or creed, religion or race. His passion to serve humanity inspired many more likeminded organisations to come forward for charity work, but Edhi Foundation surpasses their work by miles.

Edhi Sahab got nearly 250 awards in his lifetime, both national and international, the Ramon Magsaysay Award for public service (1986) and the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1989) the most prominent of them. He was twice nominated for the Noble Peace prize, which sadly he has yet to receive. But for Edhi, his greatest award was the happy smile of the children at his orphanages who called him ‘Nana’ and flocked around him lovingly when he made his usual rounds. For a man of his stature and the kind of legacy he has left, there needs to be an award established in Edhi’s name for those who perform outstanding humanitarian acts.

Edhi is around no more, the father of the fatherless, the man who shunned publicity, who lived the simplest of life till his very end, who proved that if there is a will, we do not need huge budgets to help the needy and destitute. Edhi preferred to die in Pakistan than go abroad for treatment. He had willed that his organs be donated after his death. Although poor health rendered most of his organs not suitable for transplant, even in death he made final act of charity. Immediately after he expired, his eyes gave vision to two blind people.

People like Edhi never die, they just move on to a world better than the one we are living in. He continues to live among us, in our hearts, in the old homes he created, in the orphanages where he was a father figure for the thousands of orphans. He is everywhere, all over Pakistan, in the vast network of ambulance service he created singlehandedly, the centres for the disabled and the destitute, the rehabilitant homes for drug addicts.

Pakistan is mourning Edhi Sahab and the sense of loss is beyond words. Friends, the only tribute which is fit enough for him is to try to keep his legacy alive and put in our best efforts to continue the great work he began. Even a simple act of charity or kindness everyday will help us to keep his memories and mission alive.

Published in Dawn, Young World, July 16th, 2016

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میں ایک باغی ہوں

میں ایک باغی ہوں!
آج معاشرے کے سامنے میں اقبالِ جرم کرنا چاھتی ہوں۔ میں ایک باغی ہوں۔ میں اس نظام سے بغاوت کا اعلان کرتی ہوں جہاں قدم قدم پہ ہمیں دوہری قدروں کا سامنا کرنا پڑتا ہے ۔میری بغاوت کے بہت سارے اسباب ہیں اور میں ایک وقت میں ایک ہی سبب پہ روشنی ڈال سکتی ہوں۔ آئیے آج میں آپ کو اپنے باغی ہونے کی پہلی وجہ بتائؤں۔۔چاہیں تو آپ بھی اس بغاوت میں میرے قدم سے قدم ملایئں ۔ چاہے مجھے قابلِ سزا قرار دیں۔
میرے باغی ہونے کے اسباب کو سمجھنے کے لئے آپ کو زندگی کے سٹیج کے چند مختلف مناظر کو دیکھنا ہوگا۔ آپ میرے ہم سفر رہیں اور میں آپ کو ماضی کے چند لمحوں کی سیر کراتی ہوں۔
پہلا منظر:
اسپتال کے بستر پہ ایک نازک سی عورت لیٹی ہے اور اس کے پہلو میں ایک گڑیا جیسی بچی۔ ماں کبھی ممتا بھری نظروں سے اپنی بیٹی کو دیکھتی ہے اور کبھی ملتجی نظروں سے اپنے شوہر اور ساس کو۔ ان کے چہروں کی مصنوعی مسکراہٹیں ان کی مایوس آرزوئوں کو چھپانے میں قطعی طور پہ ناکام ہیں۔ شوہر کو
بیٹے کی تمنا تھی اور ساس کو پوتے کی آرزو!

مبارکبادی دینے کے لئے آنے والے بھی اپنا کردار بھرپور طور پہ ادا کر رہے ہیں اور اس طرح اپنے خیالات کا اظہار کر رہے ہیں!بھئی مبارک ہو۔ فکر نہ کرو جس اللہ نے بیٹی دی ہے وہ بیٹا بھی ضرور دیگا!۔ ساس کے چہرے کی مسکراہٹ اور پھیکی پڑ جاتی ہے اور وہ چمک کر کہتی ہیں۔ بات تو سچی یہی ہےکہ پہلوٹھی کے بیٹے کی خوشی ہی کچھ اور ہوتی ہے۔ خیر ہم کوئی ااپنے للہ سے مایوس تھوڑی ہیں۔ آپ دیکھئیگا اگلی دفعہ بیٹا ہی ہوگا۔

نوعمر ماں کی آنکھوں میں نمی تیر جاتی ہے جس کو چھپانے کی کوشش کرتے ہوئے وہ بے بسی میں اپنی پھول جیسی گڑیا کی طرف متوجہ ہو جاتی ہے۔ ابھی تو وہ تخلیق کے کرب کو بھولی نہیں ہے اور موت کی دہلیز کو چھو کر واپس پلٹی ہے۔ ابھی سے اگلی دفعہ کی باتیں شروع ہو گئیں۔ صرف اس وجہ سے کے پیدا ہونے والا بچہ بیٹا نہیں بیٹی ہے۔ کوشش کے باوجود دو آنسو اس کی آنکھوں سے ڈھلک کر تکئے میں جذب ہو جاتے ہیں
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام اور سوچ سے جہاں بیٹی کو اللہ کی رحمت نہیں خوشیوں پہ اوس ڈالنے والی ہستی سمجھا جاتا ہے اور بیٹے کو مسرتوں کا پیامبر۔
دوسرا منظر
کئی سال گزر چکے ہیں اور وہ نو عمر ماں ایک ادھیڑ عمر کی عورت بن چکی ہے جس کو اللہ نے ایک اور بیٹی کے ساتھ دو بیٹوں سے بھی نوازا ہے۔ حیرت کی بات یہ ہے کہ اب اس کے سوچنے کا انداز یکسر بدل چکا ہے۔ آج کے منظر میں ہم دیکھینگے کے ماں کچن میں کھانابنا رہی ہے ۔بیٹی جو اب تقریبآ تیرہ چودہ سال کی ہے اس کے پاس آ کر کہتی ہے، “امی مجھے حساب اور انگریزی کی ٹیوشن لگوا دیں۔ امتحان سر پہ ہیں اور ان دونوں مضامین میں میرے نمبر بہت کم آ رہے ہیں”۔
ماں ھانڈی سے نظر اٹھائے بغیر لا پرواہ انداز سےکہتی ہے ” بیٹی جیسے بھی کوشش کر کے خود ہی امتحان کی تیاری کرو۔ تمہارے ابو دونوں بھائیوں کی ٹیوشن فیس ہی بڑی مشکل سے ادا کر رہے ہیں۔ وہ اس مزیز بوجھ کے متحمل نہیں ہو سکتے۔
بیٹی جھنجھلا ئے ہوئے لہجے میں کہتی ہے ” میری سمجھ میں نہیں آتا کہ ہر معاملے میں بھائیوں کو کیوں ہم پہ اتی فوقیت دی جاتی ہے۔ ان کی تعلیم اور کھانی پینے کو زیادہ اہمیت دی جاتی ہے! کل ہی ناشتے میں ایک انڈا تھا میں نے پوچھا تو آپ نے منع کر دیا اور بعد میں وہی انڈا دونوں بیٹوں کو آدھا آدھا کھلا دیا۔ کیا ہم آپ کی اولاد نہیں؟
ماں۔”بیٹی تم تو پرایا دھن ہو! آج ہمارے پاس کل سسرال چلی جائوگی۔جتنا تمہاری قسمت میں ہو لکھ پڑھ لو۔ لیکن ان بیٹوں کو تو میرے اور تمہارے ابو کے بڑھاپے کا سہارا بننا ہے۔ان پر خاص توجہ کیوے نہ دیں؟
آج بیٹی کی آنکھوں میں آنسو ہیں۔” امی اگر میں بیٹی ہوں تو اس میں میرا کیا قصور ہے؟
ماں کے چہرے پہ لمحہ بھر کو پشیمانی کا سایہ لرزتا ہے۔ پھر وہ بیٹی کو معصوم سوالوں سے بچنے کے کئے جلدی جلدی رات کی روٹی کا آٹا گوندھنے لگتی ہے۔
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام سے جس میں رزق کی فراہمی کا بھروسہ اللہ پر نہیں اولادِ نرینہ پہ کیا جاتا ہے ۔ بیٹوں کے مقابلے میں ہر معاملے میں بیٹیوں کی حق تلفی کی جاتی ہے۔ ان کو پرایا دھن اور بیٹوں کو قیمتی سرمایہ سمجھا جاتا ہے
تیسرا منظر
مزید چار پانچ سال گزر چکے ہیں۔ آج کے منظر میں ہم دیکھینگے کے کل احتجاج کرنے والی بیٹی اب جوان اور شادی کی عمر کو پہنچ گئی ہے۔ ڈرائینگ روم میں کچھ مہمان خواتین بیٹھی ہیں۔ بیٹی نظریں نیچی کئے ہوئے شرمائے ہوئے انداز میں چائے کی ٹرالی لے کر داخل ہوتی ہے اور ادب سے سلام کر کے ایک طرف بیٹھ جاتی ہے۔ ماں دل میں پریشان ہے کہ کئی دن کا بجٹ آج ٹرالی سجانے میں صرف ہو گیا لیکن خندہ پیشانی کے ساتھ مہمانوں کو پھل، کیک اور مٹھائی پیش کر رہی ہے، جبکہ ناشتہ کرتے ہوئے خواتین لڑکی کا بغور جائزہ لے رہی ہیں۔ آپس میں کچھ کھسرپسر بھی ہو رہی ہے۔ ٹرالی کے ساتھ پورا انصاف کرنے کے بعد وہ منھ پونچھتی ہوئی اٹھتی ہیں اور ماں کو مخاطب کر کےکہتی ہیں “بہن آپ لوگ ہمیں بہت پسند آئے،آپ کی بیٹی بھی خوش اخلاق اور سلیقہ مند لگتی ہے لیکن کیا کریں ہمارے بیٹے کو گوری دلہن چاھئیے اور آپ کی بیٹی سانولی ہے! آپ کا گھر بھی کچھ واجبی سا ہے، رشتہ والی نے تو آپ لوگوں کو خاصہ پیسے والا بتایا تھا! “
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام سے جس میں بیٹیوں کو چائے کی ٹرالی پہ گائے بکروں کی طرح پرکھا جاتا ہے۔جہاں اچھی لڑکیوں کا معیار ان کی تعلیم، سلیقہ اور اخلاق و آداب نہیں صرف اچھی شکل و صورت یا دولت ہے!
جہاں بیٹوں کے کئے چاند کا ٹکرا ڈھونڈھنے والیاں یہ بھول جاتی ہیں کہ ان کے گھر بھی ایک سانولی، یا موٹی یا چھوٹے قد کی بیٹی اچھے رشتے کے انتظار میں بیٹھی ہے
چوتھا منظر
مزید دو تین سال گزر چکے ہیں۔ بیٹی کا رشتہ آخر کار طے ہو چکا ہے۔ لیکن والدین پریشان ہیں۔ جہیز کی تیاری، مایوں مہندی کی تقریبات، باراتیوں کا کھانا، دولھا میاں اور ان کے عزیزوں کے لئے تحفے تحائف! ایک کمانے والا اور اجراجات کی نہ ختم ہونے والی فہرست! رات کا وقت ہے اور ماں باپ کمرے میں بیٹھے یہی باتیں کر رہے ہیں۔ ماں کئی چیزیں گنواتی ہے جو ابھی خریدنی باقی ہیں، ہال والے کو بھی پیشگی رقم دینی ہے۔ باپ بوجھل لہجے میں کہتا ہے،”آکر یہ جہیز کی لعنت کب ھمارے معاشرے سے ختم ہوگی؟ کیا یہ کافی نہیں کہ ھم اپنے جگر کا ٹکڑا ان لوگوں کو دے رہے ہیں؟ اور سسرال والوں کو اتنے تحفے دینے کی کیا ضرورت ہے؟ ہم نے تو ان سے اپنی حیثیت نہیں چھپائی تھی! پہلی بیٹی کی شادی پہ ہی اتنا مقروض ہو جائونگا تو دوسری کی شادی اور بیٹوں کی تعلیم کا کیا ہوگا؟ وہ یوں بول رہا ہے جیسے اپنے آپ سے ہی یہ سوالات پوچھ رہا ہو۔ ماں جواب میں کہتی ہے،” جیسے بھی ہو یہ سب کرنا تو پڑیگا ورنہ ہماری بیٹی کی سسرال میں کیا عزت ہوگی؟ اس کو طعنے نہ پڑینگے کے تمہارے اماں باوا نے جہیز میں دیا ہی کیا ہے؟
میں بغاوت کرتی ہوں اس نظام سے جس میں استطاعت نہ ہونے کے باوجود فضول رسم و رواج پہ مجبورآ پیسہ خرچ کیا جاتا ہے۔ جہاں بیٹی کی سسرال میں قدر و منزلت اس کے حسن سلوک، اعلی اخلاق، تعلیم اور سلیقے کے بجائے وہ ڈھیروں جہیز ہے جو وہ اپنے ساتھ لائی ہے،
آج میں نے معاشرے کے سامنے اپنی بغاوت کے اسباب پر روشنی ڈالی ہے۔ میں ایک باغی ہوں اور اس فرسودہ نظام کے خلاف بغاوت کا علم بلند کرتے ہوئے فخر محسوس کرتی ہوں۔ آپ چاہیں تو مجھے سزا دیں، چاہیں تو اس بغاوت میں میرا ساتھ دیں اور ہم چراغ سے چراغ جلانے کے مصداق ایک نئے دور کا آغاز کریں!

Lets agree to disagree but with due respect to each other!

Lets agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other!

In the times we are living in, discussions and arguments have mostly gone online. The debates which once were a part of the drawing-room culture have become an integral part of the electronic, print and social media. The options for people to comment online on news, blogs, posts and write-ups etc, have opened up new opportunities for the readers. There were times when after reading something of importance or interest in the newspaper or a magazine, I would discuss it with the people around me. We would talk about the issue, argue, agree or disagree, but never in a manner where the other person would feel that his opinion has been brushed aside, or he is being demeaned for his views. Maybe being polite in a face to face discussions was not only an important requirement of a debate it was considered an essential part of good upbringing, and no one wanted to seem rude or disrespectful to each other.

But the huge swing of technology and the easy access to it, has changed people’s attitudes and also the way they discuss issues these days! As a regular visitor to the blogs of reputable publications, I have noticed how ugly a discussion can become. It may be about politics, religion, a social issue or even a game! Most people with differing opinions mock, insult and in extreme cases verbally abuse those who have a different way of seeing things. This I-will-punch-you–in-the-face-if-you-dare-to- disagree-with-me approach is on the rise by the day.

disagree

People make an argument an ego matter, and win they must, either by hook or by crook! Instead of making it a means to a better understanding of a controversial issue, and trying to see things from the other one’s point of view, they prefer to belittle or mock those who do not agree with their way of perceiving an issue. The use of profane words is on the rise and some people really think it is “cool” to use these words in their comments. The words which once no gentleman even dreamt of using in public, have become so common that even our children are using them! While reading comments I often come across words like absurd, shit, nonsense, unintelligent, ridiculous, repressive, trash (just to mention the softer ones) etc. Some call the other’s views silly, illogical and appalling! All barriers of civility are broken and we seem to forget that there are always two faces of a coin.  

It is perfectly okay to disagree, because it is our basic right to have our own opinion on different matters. But the point we often overlook is that each and every individual has a different view, which depends on his/her social and cultural background, religious beliefs and the moral values which run in a family! And education, though last mentioned, should be the on the top of this list.

Why is this new approach getting so common? What are we teaching our young generation? Have we becoming more egoistic by the day and feel it is our right to thrust down our opinion down our opponents’ throat, least caring that we may even choke them with our efforts? Why is our society becoming so brutally intolerant, with a total disregard for a difference in opinion? Where will this frame of mind lead us too? Why are all barriers of civility broken when we do not see eye to eye with someone?

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All these are disturbing questions that I ask myself! There is already too much hatred and dissent in our world. Instead of being judgmental, raising accusing fingers and resorting to mudslinging, let’s try to create a more tolerant world through discussions and trying to understand differing views. Or else, we should be prepared to hand down a legacy of hatred and contempt to our younger generation.

In Pakistan, the illiterate have no access to newspapers, magazines or the social media. The less affluent, even if they have a formal education, are too busy trying to make the ends meet to spare time reading and commenting on posts and write ups.  So only the educated middle and upper class are among those who take interest and can take out time to participate in these virtual discussions. Education brings with it tolerance; a respect for the views of someone who sees things from another angle or perspective. And keeping in mind the class who has an access to the social and print media, I think it should try to be more open-minded and flexible. Instead of making our comments sound like a slap on the face, we can make them polite and respectful. Mocking, insulting or ridiculing someone who does not see eye to eye with us, only proves that we are educated illiterates!

Let’s agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other’s opinion. Proving yourself right and the opponent wrong should not be important, a debate should be a means to hone the mind and bring a broader perspective to one’s outlook on controversial issues!

The Demise of the Doppatta!

A slightly edited version of this blog was published in The Express Tribune Blogs

 (Before starting to read this blog please keep in mind that this is not a religious sermon! At the moment, keeping aside my firm belief in the teachings of Islam, I am just writing this piece as a social and cultural responsibility).

Hawa mein urtaa jaaye mera laal dopatta malmal ka…one of my cherished childhood memories is about this old song! On some days when we could not think of some other game, I and my twin sisters would sneak Ammi’s doppattas (each of us rushing to grab the red one). We would sing this popular song of those days, dancing clumsily on our spacious terrace, as the doppattas (too long for our small frames) flew behind us in the air!

Dopattas were once considered an integral part of the dress code in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Long flowing scarves which covered the hair and bosom, were considered an important sign of femininity. Worn with a shalwar qameez, they also differentiated our women from those belonging to the Western andother cultures and were regarded as a cultural/religious symbol.

Sadly, over the decades, the influxes of foreign influence, plus a general misconception of women empowerment, have made our women let this beautiful piece of clothing fly away from their dresses. For good!

It is a common sight to see grown up girls and even women dressed in shirts (qameez) with shalwars/trousers/ cigarette pants whatever, with no sign of a doppatta. I personally feel that their dress looks incomplete, as if they have forgotten an important part of their suit at home! Because in my opinion, a doppatta carried properly adds grace, charm and beauty to a woman’s looks and is in no way a hindrance or hassle for her.

After being hesitant for years, when I finally decided to write on this sensitive issue, I felt that taking the views of young girls would be more appropriate. Because considering my age, anyone can easily accuse me of doling out unnecessary (aunty-like) advice which does not go with the requirements of the progressive times we are living in. Both of the girls who have given their opinion are daughters of my friends and highly educated professionals.

Quratulain Ahmed, an entrepreneur, (also the chief motivator behind this writing), speaks her mind in clear terms. Out spoken and liberal, she does not mince her words while giving her views. “Belonging to a conservative Urdu speaking family, I wasn’t even allowed to wear jeans to college since my mother disliked it. Shalwar Kameez was the only dress which I and my sisters could wear once we outgrew our teens and started developing our bosoms. Wearing a dupatta was a must for us. For four years, I went to a liberal arts college managing a duppatta with the art material etc I had to carry daily. But gone are those days and Dupattas are now considered out of fashion. As someone has put “less is more”, women have stopped wearing them.

Zehra Awan, who has recently completed her ACCA and works with a reputed accountancy firm says, “Before giving my views on the disappearance of doppattas from the female apparel these days, I would like to mention that I was also one of those young girls who had done away with this important part of the feminine dress in our culture. Somehow, I thought wearing it was a hassle and a hindrance to my movement, whether I was at work or in a social gathering. To be honest, one day I suddenly realized how inappropriate it was to go out without a doppatta! It didn’t take me long to realize that I felt much better when I wore a doppata with my dress as I felt safer from unnecessarily prying eyes and somehow  I was also more inclined to pray regularly.

 “Although I admit that wearing a dupatta has not made me more religious or a better person, nor has it clarified all the rights and wrongs in my mind, but one way in which it has changed me is through my womanly conscience and sense of security when I step out of my house.”

Qurat muses, “Western influences in our culture have crept in slowly over the decades and sadly it is now acceptable so see a Muslim doppatta-less woman in a sleeveless dress in public places, social gatherings and on the television. What I would like to put across is where are we headed next? Our media is portraying the Pakistani woman as modern in the dress not in the head! Doing away with an important part of your dress empowers you in no way! If a woman feels that not wearing a dupatta makes her look chic and fit better in the crowd then she is headed in the wrong direction. If this mind set continues, I fear that soon those who wear this graceful part of a dress will be termed as backward or conservative.”

          Says Zehra “I do not want to pass stereo type comments like how shameless is a girl moving in public without a doppatta, or how her parents have failed to instill our cultural values in her mind, or (worse of all) no decent man will ever marry her! A person’s character, family background or values are not for me (or anyone) to comment on so blatantly. I am not sharing my views to mock or ridicule any woman out there who does not wear a dupatta. You can be covered in a burqa and be a worse person than the girl next to you who is wearing tight fitting jeans and a sleeveless top. Your personality and character is yours (something between you and your Creator) and not something to be judged by your clothing.

Zehra continues to share her views “I want to confess that I find myself actually looking better, more graceful and lady-like when I wear a dupatta which I now feel is the true essential piece which completes a female outfit. Sometimes I wonder why I completely stopped wearing it in the first place. I find that there is no fashion that I fail to meet while wearing a dupatta, nor do I find myself less modern or open-minded while doing the same. On the contrary, I feel more secure when I move in public. How can I complain of a man staring at me in bazaars or on the roads if I have left my dress incomplete? A woman’s beauty is never in what she shows openly and to everyone; it is in what she keeps hidden from the world.”

I wonder how do I round up this piece of writing? I just want to convince women that discarding your doppatta is not a status symbol, nor does it prove that you are highly qualified, progressive and liberal. It is only a matter of confused conception of what is modern and chic. I would like to request to all those out there who have done away with their doppattas, whether it is due to peer pressure or a misguided desire of being called up-to-date or progressive, please promote your own culture instead of a foreign one.

Doppattas may not be ‘IN’ for some girls/women these days, but they are definitely not ‘OUT’ for others. This is the main reason all designers are still promoting three piece suits and have not yet compromised with the length or breadth of a doppatta. I firmly believe that dopattas are an inevitable part of our cultural dress code and will not be blown away with the wind, come what may!  

An Obituary printed in the London Times…..

(This is something too good not be shared! With the passing away of Common Sense, we all are living as a confused and direction less generation!)

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:-
– Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
– Why the early bird gets the worm…
– Life isn’t always fair;
– And maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death,
– by his parents, Truth and Trust,
– by his wife, Discretion,
– by his daughter, Responsibility,
– and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
– I Know My Rights
– I Want It Now
– Someone Else Is To Blame
– I’m A Victim
– Pay me for Doing Nothing

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.
If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

SWEET POISON!

It is sweet. It is tasty. It is inexpensive. And it is also highly addictive! Easily available in attractive looking packets, sweet supari (betel nut) and gutka (a mixture of betel nut, katha, lime or chuna, tobacco and food fragrances), are favourite mouth fresheners for a lot of children and adults.

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School children often offer the packets to each other in lieu of candy, but most of them do not know that these harmless looking sachets are very harmful for them and can play havoc with their oral and general health. Gutka is a more dangerous form, because to get its consumers hooked, it often contains traces of tobacco. The betel nut used is usually of very poor quality, sometimes infested with fungus and microscopic insects and unfit for human consumption. The greedy manufacturers add sweeteners and food colours to make this substandard supari attractive and palatable, totally disregarding the fact that these are additional health hazards for the consumers.

Although sweet supari and gutka are popular among all age groups and consumed by members of all social classes, the habit to use them as a perfect end to a snack or a meal, is usually cultivated during the school days. The intake usually begins with munching a pack or two a day. Gradually the quantity increases as children find themselves habituated to it. And then the craving sets in!

Some people find themselves totally helpless, as they cannot concentrate or feel comfortable until a pocketful of this sweet poison is buried in their cheeks or tucked under their tongue.

Smoking is still considered a complete no-no for children and as long as they can, parents take great care to make sure that their kids do not take up this habit. Cigarette manufacturers are bound by the government to print warning notes on their packs. But sadly, there is no such rule for sweet supari and gutka. Usually we see that parents are not so particular about restricting their children’s intake of these harmful substances, because neither the parents nor the children realise that these can be as dangerous as smoking. As there is a total lack of awareness of their harmful impact on health, the usage is ever increasing.

Dr Sadaf Ahmed says, “Sweetened supari contains a chemical substance called arecoline which causes inflammation of the gums. Initially, ulcers are formed in the mouth progressing to a disease called ‘oral submucous fibrosis’ or OSF (in easier terms ‘the inability to open the mouth fully’). This in turn leads to nutritional deficiencies because impaired jaw movement affects the diet intake of children, making them physically weak and more prone to infections. The teeth become more sensitive to spicy foods and the tongue and gums often give a burning sensation.”

Dr Ayesha Khan, also warns by painting a gloomy picture, “Direct and repeated contacts of the gums with supari cause them to recede which in turn loosen the teeth. Increase in mouth ulcers and rotting of the gums is also caused by betel nut chewing. In addition to oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), in extreme cases long-term usage can cause cancer of the mouth (including the lip, tongue and cheek) and throat, because betel nut or supari is a known human carcinogen (cancer-causing agent).”

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According to the WHO, chewing supari leads to cancer of the mouth even if tobacco is not added to it. In countries where betel nut is consumed extensively, there is a much higher level of oral cancer.There is a dire need to initiate a drive against this sweet poison. To save our oral and general health, children you need to be aware of the harmful effects of these easily available packets of sweet supari and gutka. Newspapers and the electronic media can play a significant role by signalling out appropriate health messages, teaching the public what harm can be caused by sweet supari and gutka, and working for a ban on their sale to children.

Sadly, at present the situation is totally otherwise. Instead of discouraging the sale of these harmful sachets, we often see unrealistic ads of sweet supari on the television. Attractively arranged on a silver platter, a glamorous hostess is seen serving them with a flourish to her guests, or a macho man seems to drive his strength from them, fighting his opponents and making them flee after munching a packet. Children, who are easily influenced by these ads, are hoodwinked and attracted into buying them.

Dr Sadaf says, “During my internship, I have observed many school going children coming to the OPD with problems related to supari and gutka intake. Unfortunately, visits to the dentists in our country are not too frequent, so the initial symptoms of OSF are not so obvious. Usually, patients come in the third stage of the disease and then the treatment option is usually only surgical. These patients are advised not to continue chewing of supari (areca nut) and warned that the next stage is of oral cancer which has more severe treatment modalities. So the first step towards saving our children from this dangerous junk is to create awareness of the consequences of having sweet supari and gutka. They must also be taught the importance of regular dental checkups, a healthy diet and also to maintain a good oral hygiene.”

Dr Khan adds, “Apart from health problems, sweet supari and gutka have bad cosmetic effects as the food colours added to them cause discolouration of teeth. Being as addictive as nicotine and caffeine, they cause dependence and on discontinuation of usage uncomfortable withdrawal effects.”

Dr Anwar Alam of Internal Medicine at AbbasiShaheedHospital corroborates this. “The reason behind the surge in oral diseases in the past decade in the younger people is the rampant use of gutka and gutka became this popular because it was easily available everywhere and it was convenient to use.

Similarly, there is social stigma attached to tobacco smoking of women so they may not take up smoking that readily or even if they do take it up, they do not do it as openly as men do. However, gutka consumption is free of all the prejudices and inconveniences. It is as easy to carry as a small candy, it is not messy, it is fragrant, one does not need to go to a paanwala exclusively to buy it, it has no social stigma attached to it and hence can be consumed by teenage girls and adolescent boys. What most people do not know is that its health risks are just as injurious, if not more, as that of chewing or smoking tobacco.

According to a research, apart from the urban centers, gutka usage is as popular, if not more, in rural attachments to the city. The newly built 48 kilometers long road that connects Karachi to Mubarak Village is dotted with various small villages, inhabited by fishermen and their families. Every village has its own small shop and they may or may not stock basics such as milk or onions but almost every shop sell packaged and unpackaged gutka which is the perhaps the most popular item. Tahira Kaukab, program officer of a local NGO Indus Earth that works in the area stated that people in this area may go without food but will not forego their gutka addiction. She further added that the gutka sold in the coastal belts is often expired and they have found small insects and parasites in the gutka packets. 

So friends, Beware of this killer! And the greedy manufacturers who are marketing it at the cost of your health. A few moments of a sweet sensation in your mouth could cost you and your loved ones a life time trauma!

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

          Rain has always held a special place in my life! It mesmerizes me, enchants and takes me way back down the memory lane. It reminds me of the happy and carefree childhood I spent in my parental home with my siblings.

          As it rained more than half of the year in East Pakistan (now Bangla Desh), rain was a part and parcel of our lives. The staircase to the upper floor of our cosy little house overlooked a long alley. After lunch, I and my siblings would sit one child on one stair and watch with delight as rain came lashing down on the pedestrians. Some had umbrellas, other used large sheets of polythene to protect themselves and a few were seen running for shelter if they possessed none of these.

                    After nights when the thunder kept rolling, the clouds clapping ominously and rain pouring down as if it would never come again, I remember calling school expectantly. “Is the school off today?” And the predictable answer came “Why do you think the school would be off today” I would be counter questioned. The voice sounded irritated as if tired of answering the same question repeatedly. “It has been raining so hard all night” I would try to argue although I myself could feel my voice grow weaker. “Do think rain makes any difference to life in this part of the world?” and the phone was banged angrily.

          Rain made literally no difference to normal activities as schools, offices and markets opened as usual and everyone seemed to be carrying on his/her work as usual. Heavy downpours recorded in inches, were a part and parcel of life and there were no traffic jams, electric failures, overflowing storm drains or stagnant water on the roads. All that could be seen were small puddles in which children loved to splash around, but with a well maintained drainage system, these too disappeared in no time.

          Apart from natural calamities like floods or cyclones which were a normal feature in that region, little or no news of suffering of the low income class was witnessed after the routine heavy rains.

          Rain meant enjoyment to me and my siblings. If the rainy day was a holiday, picnic baskets would be packed immediately and we would set out for an outing to any of the green spots in Dhaka. Otherwise, Beisan or Potato Parathas would be cooked, to be enjoyed with Ammi’s unmatchable sweet mango chutney and ripe mangoes in plastic buckets were set out in the open courtyard to be cooled by the falling rain.

          I distinctly remember the long drives with friends after a rainy day, dashing to the famous Ramna Park of Dhaka for Chatpatti (Chat) and Puchka (Pani Puri) and the treat finished off with a Meetha Paan at the renowned pan shop outside the Dhaka Stadium. Traffic moved a bit slow but there was no disruption to its flow!

          After I migrated to Karachi, I used to miss the rains as these were limited to a couple of months only. As clouds came in, I would look expectantly towards the sky and pray for them to burst into a downpour. Until I witnessed the other side of the coin, i.e how rains could play havoc with the lives of people! To my dismay, unlike my birth city Dhaka, rain always brought misery to the lives of the residents of Karachi, especially those who reside in low lying or slum areas. Every year after the monsoon rains hits, life seems to be paralyzed as the roads are turned into rivulets in no time.

          Although in the four decades plus that I have been living in Karachi, I have seen that rains always disrupt and paralyze life in the city, I feel that things are getting worse with each passing year.

          This year, the 3rd of August began as a usual day, but before nightfall tragic news from all parts of the city came pouring in, as fast as the torrential rains we witnessed during the day. In all the years I have been living in Karachi, this was perhaps the worst rainy day I had witnessed.

          Loss of 16 precious lives was reported and all the major roads were flooded heavily. Most of the city was plunged into darkness as power went off as soon as the rain started lashing the city. Some areas, (like mine) had to go without power for nearly 24 hours or more! Emergency was declared in the city and army had to be called in to drain the stagnant water. As usual, action was taken too late as the CM dismissed the Karachi Administrator, as well as the Director Municipal Services from their respective posts. But could these belated steps bring back the precious lives or heavy loss to property? the question hangs heavily in the air.

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          But the depressing part of all the sufferings is that we Karachiites could have been spared this gloom. Although there was a forecast of a monsoon more severe than is usual to Karachi, the City Government had simply taken no steps to prevent the dwellers of the mega city from the misery it had to face.  Storm water drains (which are getting narrower each year due to encroachments) were not cleared up in time, and as these are usually clogged with the garbage slum dwellers throw in them, they overflew in no time, spreading stinking water on major roads and alleys.

          The poor dwellers of the areas lining the storm water drains were the worst affected as their homes were totally inundated! After the heavy downpour, although I was dreading the bad news, I had no idea it would be worse than my imagination. The domestic helper who has been cleaning my house for years, came frantically banging the door as the bell was not ringing. Her eyes burning with tears she was trying hard to control, she said in a voice lined with despair. “Ammi kuch nahin bacha, sirf badan pe ye kapre hain!” (Ammi, nothing is left except the clothes that I am wearing). She had lost the entire ration she had got from different affluent people (remember it was Ramzan), as well as her meager belongings. “Shukar hai, Bachon ki jaan bach gayi”! (Thank God, the lives of my children were saved). She said in a resigned tone. Such depressing stories came pouring in from other quarters as night fell.

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          There was a forecast of more rain for the next two or three days but it seems nature was also moved by the misery the heavy downpour had caused! Although the weather remained cloudy for the next few days, fortunately we only witnessed drizzling after every few hours!

          There was a time when I looked up at the clouds expectantly, praying for the rains to come. But after decades of living in Karachi, I mutter a prayer when I see the ominous clouds coming in. Rain, Rain, Go Away! We are not prepared yet to enjoy you! The burst of clouds which meant enjoyment and relaxation in my childhood days causes pain, anxiety, sorrow and darkness in this city of lights!

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE!

 

The young woman (a friend’s daughter) was fuming with anger! “Pakistan is not worth living anymore! I will migrate as soon as I possibly can.”

Her agitation was natural! Mugged by a scooter driving youth, she had lost cash, her ID card, credit card and cell phone. And as this was not the first time, the hassle she knew she had got herself into was more frustrating. As she knew from earlier experience that reporting at a police station was futile, she had to (again) set upon contacting the concerned people about her dilemma! Applying for a new NIC and credit card, getting her cell no. blocked until she got a new sim and trying to re-collect the numbers of her contacts was no easy job! And she knew that palms would have to be greased for redressing her genuine distress. And last but not the least, the cash she had lost was no small amount!

I couldn’t blame her as she was sharing the general dismal mood of discontent shared by the youth of our country! But like I always do in similar circumstances, I couldn’t stop myself from quipping back, “What percentage of our population can possibly migrate? Don’t you think that people living outside Pakistan have their own set of problems? And instead of planning to run away, we should firmly plant our feet on our soil and work hard to improve the conditions?”

Conditions in Pakistan are detoriating day by day, year by year! Caught in the clutches of greedy politicians, energy crisis, militancy, religious extremists (whom I refuse to call Muslims) blowing up themselves and innocent people in public places, the ever rising spiral of inflation, lawlessness, illiteracy, corruption and unemployment are only a few of the problems gnawing at the roots of our country.

Tall promises are made before every up-coming elections, pledges are made to solve all the problems in no time at all, but our leaders quickly forget about them and promptly busy themselves in amassing wealth in every possible and unethical manner, visiting foreign countries (with huge entourages), distributing ministries to appease their loyalists (competency being the least consideration), and stooping to any level to keep their rule intact. This is a quagmire we have been stuck in for decades now!

The brain drain from Pakistan towards the West has been continuing for the past two or more generations and is one of the reasons for the unfavorable conditions we are facing today. Qualified, young, talented, hardworking and honest people realize that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. A better paid job, much improved basic amenities, an atmosphere of general security and stability, bright prospects for their children’s future, more stable economic conditions and over all a more comfortable life style, attracts them so much that they opt for the greener pastures.

But as the saying goes “Everything comes with a price. Everything! Some things just cost more than the others.” The economic and living conditions may be much better in the greener pastures, but life is not all bliss in an alien land. Adapting to a foreign culture and still retaining one’s national identity is difficult for most people (and more so for their children) and safe guarding their religious and cultural values is an uphill task! Compromises have to be made, as leaving behind one’s roots, parents and childhood friends is always painful.

The most important negative factor is that these people are forced into raising a confused generation, which is neither Eastern nor Western, but a misfit in both cultures! Many a parents have to go through a nightmarish phase when they can no longer control their adolescents, who are attracted by the so called freedom of their native peers. Protecting their children from the culture of drug abuse, extra-marital sex and violence becomes a difficult task for them. The children who have been brought up in a totally alien culture, feel all these are normal part of life and often clash with their parents when the older generation tries to impose restrictions on them!

Sadly, inspite of these difficulties, most people who move out of Pakistan, think it is better to cope with these issues rather live in the difficult conditions back home. And so in their quest for greener pastures, they leave behind their culture, their values and a motherland which is bleeding to the core!

But I say again and again that to run away from problems is not a healthy way to solve them! We must not behave like ostriches who bury their necks in the sand! We have to face our troubles and overcome them, catch the bull by its horns and try to control it with all our might! Fighting the problems by finding out solutions and trying our best to implement them inspite of the odds is the only way things can improve!

Pakistan needs fresh blood more than it ever needed before! Dedicated, talented, hard working, honest and educated youth must come forward to control the helm of affairs! We need them in every field of action, bureaucracy, politics, military, judiciary, education and governance! Personal gains must be sacrificed for national causes! Our youth may be disenchanted and angry, but their angry outbursts show that they still care! And they know that all is not lost in Pakistan, as deep down they also feel that it is high time things should change for the better. I am not supporting or opposing any political party, but to prove my point I must remind people about the steep rise in the percentage of voters especially the young ones, when in the recent elections hope for a change was offered!

 There is always light at the end of the darkest tunnel. We must move forward, even if we are on our hands and feet, to reach that end! We have to start at the grassroots and corruption has to be eliminated at all levels. Awareness about striking the perfect balance between rights and duties can only be achieved through improving the literacy rate. Each and everyone has to put in his/her share. The effort may be small and seemingly insignificant but when a major change comes, every small endeavour will prove to help in making the difference!

Only then the plight of or Homeland can change!

I know and accept that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Life in the conditions prevailing in Pakistan is not easy! I fear for my children when they go out (and quickly recite a prayer for their safety), get panicked if one of them is late in coming home or  responding to a call on his/her cell phone, worry day in and day out how to stretch the household budget to make the ends meet, cry when I see the pictures of innocent children killed in terrorist attacks, rant and rave at the conditions in Pakistan when I read the newspaper or watch the news on the TV, but if given the choice of moving out, without even thinking for a moment, my answer would be “No thanks, the grass may appear greener on the other side, but inspite of the difficult conditions here, I still prefer my side of the fence!”

 

 

Relationships: Mending fences

Mummy looked up from her cup of tea and cast a worried look at Umair. He was not his cheerful self for the past few days and seemed to have lost his appetite. Lost in thought, he sat at the breakfast table nibbling at his French toast.

“What’s wrong son, you look so glum and depressed. Tell me if there is anything I can do for you,” mummy asked.

Umair looked up from his plate and burst into tears, “Mummy I had a fight with my best friend and I feel that I was too harsh on him. I don’t know how and when things will again be the same between us. I feel so guilty.”

Umair went on to tell his mother how Ali had borrowed his science journal to complete the work he had missed during his absence due to fever. While returning the journal, Ali apologised to his friend that accidentally he had spilled some ink on it.

As Umair was very particular about his books, he flew into a rage and picked up a quarrel with his friend, accusing him that he must have spoiled the journal on purpose and that Ali was jealous of his good grades.

“We are not on speaking terms for a week, but I want to be friends with Ali again. I realise that I was unfair and I don’t want to lose a true pal,” confessed Umair.

None of us can claim that we have never had any differences with people who hold an important place in our lives. We have quarrels with siblings, friends and classmates; sometimes on minor issues and sometimes on major ones. But it is not possible for most of us to stay away for a long time from the people we love dearly. Even if we stop talking to them and do not communicate in any other routine manner, i.e., text messaging or interacting on social forums like Facebook, Skype, we cannot keep them out of our thoughts. And a yearning to mend the fences keeps us restless and unhappy.

Some of us maybe too stubborn, making the difference a matter of our ego and waiting for the other party to make an advance to normalise the relationship. But more often than not, most of us are too soft-hearted to prolong a fight. We know that making up quickly after a quarrel brings in peace of mind and a sense of serenity as we realise that a relationship is too strong to be adversely affected by a petty difference.

How do you mend fences with a near and dear one after you have had a bitter argument, called each other names in a fit of anger or, worst still, brought up past and long settled issues? Instead of sulking, spending restless nights and worrying your parents by refusing to eat properly, try out the positive ways to make up with your near and dear ones. Although it may take a lot of courage, the best option is to admit that you were wrong. The easiest (and for some the most difficult) way is to go ahead and say ‘I am sorry’. These are the magic words which often and easily settle petty quarrels in a moment and you retrieve your cherished relationship.

There may be some of you who find it hard to apologise but still you want to show your regrets. There are many simple and warm gestures which can help you out in this difficult situation.

Write a note

If you can not directly say that you are sorry for losing your temper and picking up a fight, just send a handwritten card. You can make a simple card yourself or buy an easily available one. You can quietly slip it into your friend’s schoolbag or place it on his desk, and in the case of a sibling, keep it silently in his/her room.

Say it with flowers

To make up with a friend after a quarrel, you do not need to send an expensive bouquet. A single flower picked from your own garden and neatly tied with a piece of ribbon or a colourful string can prove to be a gesture which will salvage your friendship.

Send a gift

A gift is a caring way to tell a person that you want to be friends again. A friend’s or sibling’s favourite chocolate or any other small gift can do wonders to melt the ice between you and your cherished one. They would understand that you feel sorry but cannot muster enough courage to say so!

A positive gesture

Sometimes a warm smile, a hand extended for a shake or a hearty hug does the trick. The person you had differences with gets the message that you want to make up for your rudeness or insensitive behaviour.

Tempers usually cool down quicker than the speed with which they flare up.

At the end of the day, you come to realise that a relationship is more important than your ego and losing a close friend on a petty issue is much worse than losing our pride!

ENDEAR YOURSELVES!

Attitude: Endear yourself!

By Yasmin Elahi
April 3rd, 2010 

All of us want to be popular among our peers, relatives, teachers and all the people around us. But often we see that some children are more popular than others. Friends and relatives are attracted to them, teachers have a soft corner for them and peers respect them (however grudgingly). 

Have you ever tried to find out what qualities endear these children to everyone? It is their good manners, their etiquette or behaviour and consideration for the feelings of others which gives them this popularity. Here are some important ways to win the hearts of friends and relatives.

Always remember to say `Please` and `Thank you`. When you are asking for something, if you say please, even if it is a small favour, it appears that you are making a request rather than a demand. In the same way, when you receive a gift, when someone gives you a compliment or even when someone steps aside to let you pass, saying thanks is an important rule of good manners. It shows that you are grateful for the gift, compliment and consideration, and you appreciate the person who has given it to you. It also shows courtesy on your behalf. 

Never forget to say `Sorry`. Although some children may find saying `sorry` quite difficult, it is a basic aspect of good manners and a quality which will quickly endear you to everyone. If you have hurt someone (physically or emotionally), forgot to fulfil a promise, or misbehaved with an elder, `sorry` is the magic word which wipes out all ill feelings. 

When you are in a public place, it may be a doctor`s waiting room, a supermarket or a restaurant, show your respect for your elders by opening doors for them and offering them your seat if there is no place for them to sit. Most of us are too busy in our lives to pay attention to old people and we seem to forget that they often feel lonely. A kind word to them, enquiring about their health (or any other problem) and even listening to them attentively would brighten up their day and will go a far way in winning their hearts.

Never let a discussion turn into a quarrel. We all have different opinions on every matter and the rule to remember is that everyone has a right to his/her own opinion. Often we see an argument turn into a heated debate. Wait for your turn when you are having a discussion and do not try to raise your voice over others to get your point through. It is healthy to argue with friends and peers but the discussion should be polite and informative. Do not forget that difference in views is sometimes due to the diversity of race, traditions or religion. Show your respect to the other one`s views even if you do not agree with him/her.

An important rule of good manners is never to interrupt someone when he/she is speaking. A patient listener is more liked than an ardent speaker. Especially when someone older than you is talking to you, listen attentively and answer politely. Be courteous to your elders and treat them with respect. Even if you are irritated, never speak rudely to anyone. Remember that a smiling face is more popular than one with a frown.

Always be ready to help. You may be better at some subjects in school, so helping out your class fellows if they are having difficulties, would make you a well liked peer. Whenever it is possible, offer a helping hand to your elders. Carrying a load for someone in a supermarket, helping an old person to cross the road, or lending a helping hand to your mother in house hold chores, are gestures which show that you care and would definitely endear you to their hearts.

Be a good sport. Some children tend to turn nasty if they lose a game. Remember that there always has to be a winner and a loser in a game. If you win, do not boast or degrade your opponent. And if you lose, do not sulk; accept your defeat graciously and congratulate your opponent open heartedly. The time you spent enjoying the game should be more important than the fact that you won or lost it. 
Good manners, consideration for the people around us and proper etiquette of behaviour indicate a good upbringing and are a mark of a respectable social background. So mind your manners and happily watch the graph of your popularity rise!

The list of do’s and dont’s is never ending, but the above mentioned are only a few tips to guide you how to endear yourself to the people around you. Good luck!