Saturday, April 19, 2008

Temporary Suspension In Service - Reason: Mugging!

I have not been adding anything to my blog lately. The main reason is that I am no longer in possession of my favorite portable imaging device, which I was involuntarily relieved of last February. Simply; I was mugged and my mobile phone, along with other belongings taken away.

Although this happened on the 26th of Feb. (i think), I did not feel the need to put it in writing, that is, up till now. The event may have made interesting reading for some but sadly is a much too common occurrence in the streets of Karachi.

The situation regarding street crimes in our city is dire one. One cannot feel easy walking through them, specially after nightfall. The routine of this quick operation, as confirmed by many others, is a consistent one. Usually, two motor cycles are involved ridden by 3 riders. Occasionally, the configuration varies to one bike and two riders. As one can imagine the group surrounds the targets on gun point and one of them tells the victims to spit out their wallets, mobile phones and valuables; A standard mugging.

These activities are now part of the every day life for the Karachites. Governments have come and gone yet this issue has nothing but prevailed. The city police is apparently either powerless or unwilling to tackle this major issue of security. As the use of mobile phones have spread at a monstrous pace, so have these crimes. It is difficult to find a citizen who or his first family has not been a victim of these street crimes.

I hope that our new government takes this issue head-on and actually does something about it rather than leave it to the people.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Trip to Haleji Lake - Sanctuary for Migratory Birds, formerly.

3rd Feb. 2008
(Missing images updated 13th Feb.)

My trip to the famous Haleji Lake, situated around 80 Kilometers from Karachi, started before dawn. Accompanying me was a friend who happens to share a similar interest for such random outings.

As the whole country has been encased in an uncharacteristically long winter spell, Karachi too has been colder than usual. At the temperature in the city was around 12 degrees centigrade. As we moved to the outskirts we found the temperature to be lower than than. That is probably due to the lower pollution level and open spaces.

After taking a breakfast stop over at the locally famous "Haji Malook Hotel" at Gharo we continued our journey towards the lake. Upon leaving Gharo I witnessed a beautiful sunrise that was too good to be captured through my mobile phone camera in all its magnificence. However, I did not let this opportunity pass me by uncontested.

At about 8 AM we reached our destination. Here I would like to add few words about the Haleji Lake. It is a fresh water lake spread over a 6.5 square kilometers, acting as a major source of fresh water supply to Karachi's population. At the web page on Sind Wildlife Department dedicated to the lake, it is referred to as a "A sanctuary for birds and an outdoor attraction for humans". (

It is not exactly a case of false advertisement, only the information is outdated. Currently, the situation has changed drastically, from a wildlife sanctuary to just a regular lake. This slow transformation has gone almost unnoticed and has failed to attract attention people in charge. Where there use to be various flocks of diverse waterfowl, there is nothing but open water from one end to the other. In place of thick lotus growth on the water surface there is scarce patches of water bush. The following images show the difference in the prevailing and the past situation.

Haleji Lake (undated photo) from Sind Wildlife Department website

View of Haleji Lake as on 3rd Feb. 2008

On that particular day the winds had really picked up. The water became quite choppy as the wind made its way carving diagonal patterns on the surface. Initially, when we entered the boundary of the lake I thought that may be it was due to the high wind speed that the birds have taken refuge in the growth. However, as we started driving around the lake it slowly dawned on me that the wildlife that made this lake famous does not prefer this place as anymore.

Still, I did not give up in my attempt to spot even little flocks of migratory birds in the lake. After traveling about a quarter of the total area that makes up the lake's boundary we came across a sad little gathering of "American Coots". These are black birds that look like chickens, having webbed feet and small white beaks. It is nothing less than a wonder that these birds can fly, let alone migrate. Although I did not posses an optical zoom camera, I was able to capture a low quality image of the group.

This image was taken through the lens of a binocular by manually positioning the lens of the camera on the lens of the binocular. It would have not been possible in the absence of auto-focus function in the camera. As seen in the picture there are hardly twenty birds in the group. Overall we were able to spot only three such flocks throughout the lake.

Continuing down the dirt road we came across a lot of old tress. Some of them were burnt from the bottom of the trunk where apparently people have lit fires to either keep warm or prepare food. Some of the shots I took of the trees, though not so impressive in digital form did, however, stand out in reality.

I have heard from various local people that there lots of crocodiles that inhabit the lake. After surveying the banks I remained completely unconvinced of even the lightest evidence supporting their existence in Haleji Lake. Even if they are living in the lake they cannot be in huge numbers, as locals believe. We did, however come across a lot of cows, if that is of any consolation.

To wrap things up I took a couple of photos of two truck accidents we came across. One one them was overloaded with hay, while the other one, a 40+ foot long truck was over-turned on its side for no clear reason.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fire Incident at Berger Paints Factory

Although not exactly an internationally significant event it certainly filled up the "breaking news" criteria for our local channels. The fire that engulfed the Berger Paints factory in the SITE area, Karachi, raged throughout the afternoon and well into the night. Almost all of the fire extingishing vehicles were called upon to help control the wild blaze. I witnessed the thick column of smoke from as far as one kilometer and as close as few hundred feet. As I neared the hot spot I saw at a time flames leaping as high as hundred feet, and that with a fury.

Eventually, the fire was contained by the constant and determined efforts of our fire brigades.

Picture taken by me from my mobile, about a kilometer away from the fire.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Muharram and Muslim World

Its been a while since my last post. Seems I've lost some of the enthusiasm I had when I started about two weeks ago. Anyways, writing something may be better just to keep things rolling in here.

Recently, so many events have taken place that I just kept thinking that I would right about this, or may be that. Eventually, I ended up writing about nothing. Finally, I decided on writing some words on the holy month of Muharram.

Last Sunday was 10th Muharram of the Islamic year 1429. Being the first month of the Islamic calender this month hold so much significance in Islamic history that it would be unfair to summarize in few lines or words. The prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him [s.a.w]) had informed us in his teachings about the many significant events that had taken their place in the history. However, as we take a look around us we see the significance this day holds nowadays is the tragic events that took place at Karbala in 680CE. A heart wrenching chain of events unraveled during the time. The most cherished and loved ones of our prophet (s.a.w) were martyred. A portion of the Muslim world still mourns those deaths with a certain passion. Differences have plague the Muslim world since those days, which have sometimes ended up in meaningless violence and hatred amongst the ignorant population.

There is no doubt that some of the scholars of the two main school of thoughts try to reconcile their differences. However one cannot ignore the the number of not so scholarly scholars who are intolerant of others' views and their records of history.

I can only hope that these differences become only matter of debate, not matters of life and death.

Friday, January 11, 2008

General (R) Musharraf's Weekly Q&A

Gen. (Retired) Pervez Musharraf has recently been spotted on a weekly basis facing a curious audiance. The group is shown questioning our dear leader with various subjects. Contrary to the millatary-man image he has eagerly portrayed during most of his ruling period, it seems now he is willing to show a side that none of our previous leaders have displayed; that is, answeribility.

In the past we have seen prime-ministers, presidents and all sorts of millitary chiefs ruling our country. Few of them, with the a few exception from the "care taker governments", have displayed even a hint of being answerable for their actions and methods of governance. Either they have been kicked out by a millatry regime or by presidents. None of them however, have been found to call upon them bunch questioneers to enlighten the general public about the leader's current and future plans.

However, lets not take everything at its face value. If I have learned one thing from our political history is that no matter how good they say they are, their successors make sure that every bad situation is routed to the "previous goverment".

Yesterday evening I was watching the latest airing of the Gerenal's weekly Question and Answer session I discovered something. It seemed that most of the questions being asked we either too soft or they were praises rather than issues. All in all the "show" did not seem to have the enthusiasm and on-the-edge questions one expects to find in such a setup.

But, I think we should see it as a positive sign. We have to start from somewhere. So what if this session was being held inside the president house. I mean I'm sure the people collected for these sessions are not at all effected by the tons of security guards, guns, and all that goes into making safety of our leadership a real life possibility. Does it not seem that the poeple taking part in question our leader would be influenced but the ambiance.

Anyways, let us hope that such programs are not just publicity stunts.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Right from the horse's mouth, qwerty pad in this case.

Just a trial post made directly from my mobile. Apparently it works well.

P.S: I think I should start writing some interesting stuff here if anybody is expexted to read through.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

View of Underpass

A view of one of the recently built underpasses in Karachi. Positive step towards traffic management.

Though an age old tool to control traffic flow, it has been only recently introduced to Karachi's roads. Have been definitely effective, as long as they are not filled with rain water; But that is altogether another story.