Monday, January 12, 2015

A Few Impressions @GWP Srinagar

Suhail sir

One of the best persons I have met(believe me I am not flattering J). I still remember the day of joining ,when I came to his cabin and introduced myself. The extraordinary warmth and I must say delight that was discernible from his demeanor stood apart from the cold glances that I had experienced outside(mostly).  Over time our warm relation moved to an intellectual plane as I found Suhail sir to be of multi verse interests complimenting his wonderfully affectionate and astute persona. Poles apart, ideologically ,yet he helped me analyze why the so called liberals or seculars think the way they do and yes I found that there is a zealot inside that liberal shell, perhaps struggling to assert itself in an environment and circle of domination. I hope that shell is a bit shaken now J

Junaid sir

A perfect example of how a believer is supposed to deal with people.” If you have any problem never hesitate to ask one person i.e Junaid sir” as the saying goes in the college J Respect

Tabasum Sir

I like his spirit , his never say die attitude. He manages a quip, a smile out of even the most troubling times and issues. None will ever tire of his company. Must mention his inspiring dawah and relief  work – a multidimensional always smiling fighter kind of a person……That fighter bit is not meant but allegorically(incase)

Illyas Sahib

I had heard of Illyas kashmiri have u? if yes this Illyas from Kashmir is an exact opposite J jokes apart, another wonderful person I met in the college, ever ready to help, discuss and innovate solutions to all kinds of problems, the go to guy for any temporal issues(well don’t try him for spiritual issues u will be ruined J). From losing my car keys to extracting(and tempering J) attendance database he was always there to help me. Yet we used to be at each other’s throat as soon as Syria or Iran entered our realm. J

Nasir sir

He is a bureaucrat, a singer ,an educationist, a mathematician; what else above all he is a wonderful human being as young as ever. What I enjoy the most is when he talks about the past it is so eloquent that I feel enamored. When u discuss things with him he makes you feel so comfortable that it becomes hard to discern where he agrees and where he disagrees


A real fighter ,a man who has some real entrepreneurial talent. He has a multidimensional personality living a full life besides delving into social work. Yet can be a little bit overbearing at times

Nehvi The Great

I have not seen any one like him in my life. Be aware of him was the universal advice I got about him almost always but somehow I gave him a fair bit of trust. He is a self less person, does every task diligently even those tasks that he is not supposed to do. For example he is the only “cricketer”  from a batting side I have seen helping the fielding side retrieving the ball from the boundary more diligently than their own fielders.


Adab sahab

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Mysterious MTG

Then there was this mysterious friend of mine let’s call him Mr M. His name starts with M and I used to call him M….. The great. He just got married. The first one from my immediate circle to take the gauntlet or to throw in the towel as they say. I am happy for him may be more than happy. We have or may be had a very strong personal relationship for I don’t know how people change or are supposed to change post marriage. Me and MTG we confided in each other and a lot of trust ; Yes am one of the surreptitious few who know the girl he married was his one yes one and only love while he managed to fool the world into making it an arranged affair. You see what a genius, this mysterious friend of mine; even his parents thought that he is marrying on their choice alone. Genius yes or wait you need to be more than a genius to pull it off; you need destiny ,luck ,fortitude or whatever you like to call it for it’s no mean a feat . Whatever be it, the thing that matters to me more is that MTG has achieved his only demand from life as he put it. But there is a dampener for me in all this so far hunky dory tale. You see , can you believe it, does it make any sense , how do I say it; You know what my genius friend has cut all contact with me post wedding. The last time we talked was the second day of his marriage when we our party of four college friends returned from his place. Is it weird or is it normal, see he is the first of my close friends to get hitched as they say so maybe that is the way it is, or may be that will be the way it will be ,that he has started a tradition for our circle or well may be it will depend on the girls that come or the bahus that come into our lives and homes . 
At times I get may be angry at him at times I try to contemplate may be he is angry at me too. I try hard to recapitulate my brief sojourn to Sopore for his wedding , maybe I did some mistake or maybe he did not like the gift that I gave him or may be the sherwani, he did not like the sherwani that me and Tawseef arranged or wait nothing MTG never bothered about such mundane things he always talked and even thought on a higher plane or at least made it out to be so for now we know what a master he is in making things out.
MTG  was always a mysterious figure. He would mostly avoid the classes in the college and books too I mean the books in the syllabus. He had immense dislike I think, for regimes and routines, for curricula and syllabi. The guy who did not read the topic before an exam but immediately after returning he would in all earnest start reading the topics that had been asked without caring for the next paper. He hardly ever failed , he hardly if ever scored well, he just passed the exams. And he did not care for he did not give a damn to the grades or the pointer. He used to enjoy his life in the hostel. ‘I wish I could spend a lifetime with you guys here ‘.
There were two things that kept him constant company his cough and cold and his Shahrukh khan like hairstyle- he was smart too – You could at times mistake him for the real Shahrukh if he had just woken you up after a fresh bath. ‘The bathroom and the balteen are now all yours to relish’. Yes after he had relished them for an hour or so as he usually did. Then came along what was to become his third constant companion the cigarettes, the gold flake cigarettes. He claimed that smoking had cured his constant zukaam and for some strange reason it in fact had had a positive effect on his . I never understood why ,to me the smoke should have choked his bronchi more but then he is our Mr mysterious the MTG.
You know in an engineering college placement time is festival time , everyone is looking to get placed and with fat packages, someone is revising his books, someone is browsing interview tips from the net, someone is getting a brand new suit for his interview, still others are getting their funky styles transformed into more somber ones. Everyone is excited, full of hopes wanting a share of his pie. And here I am looking frantically for my mysterious friend. He has suddenly disappeared on the day of placement. He did not want to get placed, he did not want to leave Kashmir, his family here, he did not even want to think so ,not to even take a chance with, so he just vanished from the hostel for the day. He is not even receiving anyone’s calls. ‘The number you are calling is not responding’. Call after all call, corridor after corridor, Bathroom after bathroom my search , our search yields no results- i.e positive ones for he is again as I said earlier a genius at hide and seek :at making things out.

But then he is a lovely friend to have one of my best. I shared all things about my life I could possibly share with any friend with him. He was such a nice friend to have full of love full of care. More loyal than the king , if I may take the liberty of using the phrase for he really was more concerned about my concerns than even I was, especially when it came to the matters of heart ’ dil ke mamle’ as they call it . His smoking stints would increase in frequency in direct proportion to my travails. He was and is such a lovely person to have as my friend and yes we agreed on almost everything we have the same world view more or less- a rarity for my oh yes our worldview. I can only wish he gets over his wedding hangover (if there is any such thing) soon or may be that I need to write an application to bhabi ji for that .

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Revolution and the Post Revolution Crisis in Egypt

 Shakeel Shaheen 
What has happened in Egypt post Mubarak is not difficult to discern. It has been a cocktail of deep state, entrenched and vested interests and opportunistic politicians trying their best to delay and /or subvert an inevitable change of fortunes. Since the Free Officers coup of 1950s Egypt was ruled by a ruthless elite class which dominated its polity as well as economy. Egypt was one of the worst Police states in the world with one of the most brutal and largest intelligence apparatuses in the world aimed at choking any hint of internal dissent. Egyptian torture chambers have entered into pages of history with all their stink and brutality with books like Days of My Life by late Zainab al Ghazali. Egyptian society is marked by a dichotomy between a smaller, so called liberal or secular but well established class and a much larger but economically weaker and religiously conservative class barring a few exceptions. The elite class has been in power and has enjoyed all the bounties of power for decades. It dominates all the important state institutions be it the military, civil administration, judiciary or the media. It has a particularly potent presence in the field of media where its accumulated wealth of decades has translated into telecasting and print media empires. It is a class of Egyptians that has been most influenced rather penetrated by the imitation of western values and ideas.
As is universal with elites such an elite class is a minority in Egypt. The majority of Egyptians rather by and large embody a starkly opposite entity in terms of socio cultural values, political preferences, religious values and economic conditions of what is conspicuous about the elite class. These are people who have lived under a ruthless and brutal police and intelligence apparatus which has abused their rights for decades.  These are people who hold a deep love for Islamic movements and Islamic culture .By and large they look towards Islam not only as their religion but also as the fountainhead of all their values, ideals and ideas. That has translated into Islamists winning all the elections in the Post revolution Egypt. So we have had Egypt as a country where an ostentatiously secular/leftist elite has been more or less dominating (at times battering) the conservative majority for fifty years at the orders and for the favors of its foreign backers .The bureaucratic-military nature of Egyptian state fits it firmly in the description of an overdeveloped state. It is pertinent to emphasize that the relationship has not been as static over the years. The primarily rural and disenfranchised majority of Egyptians has made steady progress rather inroads in the fields of modern education and businesses traditionally dominated by the elite. Most of the professional syndicates, for example, are dominated by the Islamists. The emerging Egyptian middle class has thus been a steady projection of the conservative Egyptian majority into corridors of progress, business and education. But the corridors of power are what have been precisely shut for them. While they were allowed to dominate fields like medicine and engineering, the critical state apparatuses like bureaucracy, judiciary, and military were shut on them.  The recent voting on constitution by the Egyptians is an instructive example. The Islamist sponsored constitution was bitterly opposed by the elite class. The Egyptian expatriates in Gulf voted overwhelmingly in its favor where as the comparatively smaller in number expatriates in the west voted mostly against it. The dichotomy was obvious, the Egyptian expatriates in Gulf are mostly middle class professionals where as the elite dominates the expatriate class in the west. A similar but comparatively less intense dichotomy was observed between rural and urban Egypt, exceptions included. Rural Egypt voted overwhelmingly in favor of the constitution where as the competition was more intense in the cities. In fact in Cairo it was the no vote which eked out a thin majority over the yes vote.
There is an important point that needs elucidation.  As distinct as the elite and the non elite classes of Egypt may seem, the stratification still is not watertight and there is a lot of cross class movement. Many well off and elitist sections have taken Islamist orientations. Islamists have consistently tried to propagate their ideas in the elite class and their efforts have not been without fruits. Similarly the Egyptian state controlled by the elite has consistently cultivated collaborators in the poorer sections of the society. The rank and file of the Police establishment or for that matter even the army and intelligence come from the non elite sections of the society. But the centers of power and decision making have remained an exclusive dominion of the elite. Even if some have managed to reach there, they have been organically absorbed and thus detached from their roots completely; exceptions included. The non elite Egyptian majority is not completely uniform either. Disenfranchisement remains its single most defining feature. The elite have considerable leverage over its large sections. It is particularly the case in Delta provinces where the peasantry is considerably under the tutelage and influence of the elite landlords. The defunct NDP of the deposed dictator Mubarak is particularly strong in such areas. It needs to be emphasized that such cross class movement has not wrought fundamental changes and as a result the dichotomy that was discussed earlier persists.
Now let us take a look at what has changed after the revolution. Firstly it will be wrong to label the revolution as a revolution of the non elite or the conservative class against the elite class. It was essentially a revolution in which people from all classes participated to get rid of the dictatorship of Mubarak and his party the now defunct NDP. NDP had consolidated its control of the state completely earning the resentment of significant sections of the elite Egyptian society as well as the disenfranchised non elite. Egyptian revolution saw unprecedented cooperation between these sections and the vast conservative and non elite part of the Egyptian society. It was these sections which took the lead in the revolution as the Islamists maintained a lower profile. That is not to say that they were in any way behind in the revolution, just that they tactically kept their visibility low.
 Once the revolution was over and the die was cast for elections, it became clear who owns what in the new Egypt. Islamists led by the Muslim Brotherhood won all the elections one after the other ruffling many feathers in the process. The west appears to have at least overtly reconciled to the new Egyptian reality and has tried to engage constructively with the people it once dismissed as radicals and fundamentalists. The response of the Egyptian elite has been different. Its protagonists in the judiciary dissolved the first freely elected parliament for minor technical glitches. It tried its best to keep Dr Morsi from winning the Presidential elections. Finally it had to bite to the bullet and the son of a farmer from a remote part of Egypt became the first freely elected Egyptian President.  At this the Egyptian elite realized that their privileged status was under threat and as a result tried to put up a united front under the fa├žade of liberalism. The media dominated by the elite launched a concerted campaign against the government of Mr. Morsy which still goes on .They also tried to stonewall the process of constitution writing under flimsy excuses and later tried to mobilize electorate against it. The constitution was passed overwhelmingly by the people with more than two thirds of votes in favor thus reinforcing the writing on the wall once again. Having realized that they stand little, if any, chance of winning elections the elite have tried all else they can. Street protests, violent attacks on Brotherhood Offices and members, media defamation, judicial interference into executive  realms, calls for military rule; just to name a few. Egyptian elite is behaving exactly in the way a suckling child behaves when weaned. It is crying hoarse and trying to hit left and right doing whatever it can to stop or delay the inevitable. The situation has been compounded by opportunistic politicians of leftist as well as elitist orientations who see little chance of electoral victory. This combined with a state apparatus that is filled with Mubarak loyalists and a hostile judiciary has made life tough for the Morsy administration. The economy is in doldrums and the foreign reserves are running critically low. The bureaucracy, police and intelligence that are filled with the elite have been uncooperative at best and at worst hostile. Pockets of judiciary have openly shown their biases. Recently the parliamentary polls have been delayed thus extending the transition period courtesy another judicial faux pas. Media has been the most hostile of all leading a heavy campaign of defamation, slanders and outright distortions.
Thus what we are seeing in Egypt is a well entrenched elite class trying its best to safeguard its privileged position and stone wall or at least slow down any change. But the disenfranchised majority is slowly pushing its way to power. Slow yes, but the change is happening. It will certainly take time to uproot a deeply entrenched elite something that is called as the deep state in the parlance of political science, it will take years may be even more than a decade. But the die has been cast and there is no going back in Egypt.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Poem of separation with english translation

Shakeel Shaheen

Zard Boseeda patu ke beech zeba nahi
Jab bahar aaye ham b muskura lengay

abhi halat e hijr mai kho jaanay do
gam kai aagaosh mai sar rakh ke so jaaney do
jo dard dil mai sambhal rakha hai
nainu ke duwar beh jaanay do
taareek sanaatay mai theek nai
jab sehr hojaye ham b muskura langay.............(not amidst dead fallen leaves

let spring usher i will smile

lemme get lost in pain of separation
lemme sleep in the lap of gloom
the melancholy beholden in my heart
let it flow by the trail of eyes

no not in the depths of darkness
wen dawn ushers i will smile)

Zard Boseeda patu ke beech zeba nahi
Jab bahar aaye ham b muskura lengay..........................

abi to purnam aankhain hai pareshan dil hai
na khulwat mai sakoon na darr e mehfil hai
watan sai door jo furqat mai hu shaheen
is soorat muskurana kathin mushkil hai
chodo abi hamsai muskuraya nahi jaata
jab watan ko lotain to muskura laingay

zard boseeda patu ke beech zeba nahi
jab bahar aaye to ham b muskura laingay
(not amidst dead fallen leaves
let spring usher i will smile

eyes are wet and heart restless
solace not in solitude not in companionship
shaheen is away from home in separation
to smile now is hard too hard

no now no i cant smile now
wen i reach my land i will smile

not amidst dead fallen leaves
let spring usher i will smile)