Monday, December 31, 2007

My Last Adventure of 2007!

The fact that these Christmas holidays were falling in line with a weekend provided me with a perfect opportunity to make a road excursion to California. Zeeshan, a friend of mine in Redmond, was the instigator of the plan. So I went to Seattle last Friday (Dec 21st) where on the same day, we (I, Zeeshan and two other friends) set off for a road trip to California.

After nearly 15 hours of long, tiring but fun-filled journey, we were in downtown San Francisco. Luckily our hotel was right in the heart of downtown which allowed us to experience a real downtown Christmas celebrations. After staying in San Francisco for a day and having been to places like The Museum of Art and Golden Gate Bridge, it was time for us to head to Los Angeles – another 6-7 hours drive from San Francisco. One day was never sufficient to explore San Francisco but that leaves me with a reason to visit it again in coming years, hopefully with family.

On the night of Dec 23rd, we were in Los Angeles. Our stay was in a hotel in Orange County – very near to Disneyland where we had to visit next morning. Next morning we were in Disneyland. It was an awesome feeling; here I was visiting a place which was, before, only a childhood fantasy for me. We spent an entire day at Disney, watched the Christmas parade of all the famous Disney characters, enjoyed all the dare-devil rides and to top it all off, there were fireworks in the evening right on the top of Snow White’s Castle. Amazing! the best fireworks I have ever seen in my life; be it live or broadcasted.

The next day, Dec 25th, was for us to explore LA and Hollywood. We went to Huntington and Newport Beach, had a lush lunch at a desi restaurant and then headed straight to Beverly Hills (aka Hollywood). Visited wax museum and wasted the remaining time walking on the Hollywood boulevard. Now it was time to catch a flight back to Seattle. We dropped the rental car at Avis and headed straight to Airport. In the night, we were back in Seattle and guess what, we were greeted by the same familiar wet weather. The next evening, I took a bus back to Vancouver.

Given that I have had really busy couple of months, it was a welcome break and I am glad I spent this time in California. If I am to pick only one thing out of the entire trip, I’d say it was weather. Amazing Californian weather! Clear blue sky with bright sunshine.

Life returns to normality. Heading into 2008, I know I have plenty and some more work to do. Hopefully it’ll be a great year ahead, Insh’Allah.

That finally brings me to the end of this essay-cum-post – the last for 2007. A very Happy New Year to all of you! May it brings peace and prosperity to all of us!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

O Canada!

Nearly four months ago what appeared to be a remote possibility is now a reality - Yup! I am here in Canada to work for Microsoft. Canada but you got an offer for USA? you would ask. Well, it's a result of H1B saga of 2007. I spent nearly 4 months in limbo waiting to hear an update on my H1B application. It was a painful (read horrible) experience but as they say what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger. After my H1B application wasn't selected in the lottery, Microsoft offered me to work for them in Vancouver and now I am happily employed here. Anyways, all is well that ends well.

It's over a month since I have been here. I am currently staying in temporary accomodation which is in Richmond, Greater Vancouver area. I have so far liked the Richmond city - it's quiet, green and peaceful. The Vancouver downtown is just 20-30 mins drive from Richmond. Just like anyother downtown area, you could see the metro lifestyle prevailing all over - skyscrapers, shopping streets, malls, resturants etc. Oh and clubs, of course. Surrey is also 20 mins drive from Richmond. Surrey is a desi place with all the essential ingredients that make up a desi lifestyle - desi food, grocerry, halal resturants, cinemas etc. (by the way, did I mention I had a poori-halwa breakfast today in Surrey :) )

As for Microsoft - Although I am still in the ramping up phase but it's been a good experience so far. I am on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) team. Just in case you are wondering how this vancouver office setup looks like, here is a sneak preview.

What else ... and if the word hasn't reached you yet about my engagement then now you know that I jumped on the engagement bandwagon just before leaving Pakistan.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Going, Going, Gone

Okay, so this post comes straight from a transit hotel in Taipei, Taiwan where I am staying en route to Canada from Pakistan. What I am going to do in Canada is a discussion for another post. Right now, I just wanted to say goodbye to all my friends in Pakistan. Shortage of time meant that I could not call everyone to say goodbye - so, this is a goodbye post to all of you.

Good luck everyone! Take care and have a lot of fun!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Starfish Story

Recently I stumbled across this beautiful piece of writing called 'The Starfish Story'- short, simple and mighty inspiring. Here it is for you to get inspired.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Silver Jubilee

Today marks the silver jubilee of my arrival in this world. It has been a fascinating period of my life. I am thankful to God for whatever I have after these 25 years.

Now that most of the childhood targets are met, it's time to set new goals and to start thinking and doing something for those who haven’t had the same amount of luck that I have had. It's time to work for less privileged class of the society. It's time to be cooperative than to be competitive.

Monday, May 21, 2007

May 12!

You didn't have to be a political pundit to predict what was going to happen on May 12 in Karachi. Even a novice like me knew that the bloodshed was on but surprisingly the Sindh and the Federal government was too naïve to know it. Funny!

Back in 1999 when Gen. Musharraf took over the charge of the country as the Chief Executive of Pakistan, I wasn't particularly concerned. I had earlier seen the regime of the two most eminent political parties i.e. PML and PPP, not only once but twice. Their lackluster performance at the office made me think that the change was for better. I thought a military man in uniform would be able to address some key issues that the democratic forces could not e.g. building the damns to make sure our future wasn't dark, reducing corruption in the society etc.

Now, almost 8 years down the road, I am disillusioned by Mr. Mush's performance. Now I understand why people say that a man in uniform can never be the right person to lead the country because his own interests to save his neck take precedence over the interests of the country hence the May 12 mayhem.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spin of Wheel!

Life is surely weird. You never know what's coming next. When I last posted on this blog, I pretty much had an idea of what I wanted to do next in life. Things have changed so much since then. The situation is fuzzy again. Now I am waiting on the "spin-of-the- wheel" to decide my fortune.

I am writing it on the onset of probably the decisive week. It's a make or break situation. One thing I am sure of is that whatever comes out will eventually be good for me in the long run.

Monday, April 02, 2007


We are towards the end of an action packed March. There has been some happening. First in the series was the deplorable duel between the "state" and the judiciary. It was followed up with news that the federal prime minister had a "big-arm". The media was then taken to the task by the police for their blunt coverage of the said duel. Amid all this, the cricket team of Pakistan had reached Caribbeans and was all set to start its world cup campaign. As it turned out, participation in the world cup was a mere formality and it took 4 days for the 4th ranked team in the world to end its title hopes. Just when you thought that things could not be any worse, the worst thing happened - the coach of Pakistan cricket team was strangled to death. The news was followed up with Inzi's resignation.

While all the action was taking place, I was busy playing a "Business Analyst" – number crunching, slicing and dicing of the data to obtain useful trends and information. For a change, it was a nice experience but I'll be happier when I take this analysis from an excel spreadsheet to workable piece of software.

[The post was actually composed in March but the author's dreadful home dialup connection meant that it could not be posted until today.]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another Bloody Basant

The day before yesterday, the residents of Lahore along with thousands of tourists celebrated the 'Basant' festival. Last year, the Punjab government had imposed a ban on kite flying - a rare commendable step. This year the kite flying was allowed for two days on 24th and 25th February. Many objected the relaxation in the ban knowing that it would attract several accidents risking many human lives. The concrened authorities turned a deaf ear to these voices and were adamant at giving it a go.

As it stands now, as few as 11 have died in various incidents. Fortunately this number is low as I had feared more. A school going 11 years old boy in my uncle's neighbourhood died as a sharp string cut his throat.

It's so disturbing to know that it was all imminent and yet nobody could prevent it. Who is to be held responsible for this manslaughter? - our reasonbly incapable leaders who lifted the ban, the law enforcement agencies who could not enforce the law, you and I who could not do anything except writing in the media and on the blogs.

There is something seriously wrong with all of us as a nation. We need to fix our attitudes before its too late.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Commenting Service Moved!

I have shifted to for the comments on this blog. The default commenting system provided by Blogger is not accessible from Pakistan. I'll have to manually copy-paste all the comments from Blogger to HaloScan whenever I feel like doing it. I guess I'll probably keep all the nice comments and do away with not-so-nice comments ;)

So 'Comments' section is up and running - give it a shot.

Monday, February 05, 2007

MS - What is it worth for?

Last year I had an opportunity to attend an open house session with the final year class of my undergraduate school, FAST-NU. The session was aimed to provide an insight to the students about the employment and the higher education opportunities available after they graduated. Alongside me, there were several other alumni mostly from local software industry and graduate business schools. One impression that I walked away with after the session was that somehow people from local industry thought that a MS would be a waste if anyone was willing to work in the software industry. Some of them passionately opposed going for a masters degree. I used a few arguments as a rebuttal to their misconception during the session. I intend to present the summary of some of those arguments in this post. One reason that inspired me to blog on this topic is the increasing number of questions that I am repeatedly asked by friends, colleagues and fresh graduates about the significance of a masters degree. Here is what I have to say on this issue [and it is limited to a MS from abroad]:

- Going abroad in a new country is a different learning experience altogether. Your faculty and class mates come from many different countries and possibly from various backgrounds. Each one has a different problem solving approach. Therefore working with those guys, learning in the class and outside the class is immense. I had my class fellows coming from more than 13 different nations. Some of them had been to schools like Caltech USA, Monash Australia and EPFL Switzerland etc.

- One important thing that a foreign degree contributes to is the broadening of vision. You get to know what the world is doing and what you want to do in it. Also, you get exposed to lots of opportunities that are almost inaccessible from Pakistan. To reach out for these opportunities, a masters degree is one right step in this direction.

- You learn to live at your own. No more pampering by the parents, you are virtually your own mom and dad. All this exercise does a world of good to your confidence and goes a long way in completing your personality.

- It looks good on your resume and you can use it to impress your colleagues and friends :)

Each of these points can be stretched to pages but I'll keep it to what it is right now. If any of the reader has had a similar experience of studying abroad, I solicit your input to make this list complete. Let's hear what you have to say on this topic.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Brand New Start

It is exactly a year ago when I started writing this blog and it is such a shame that I was able to update it only twice throughout this period. Although I have not been an active blogger but I refuse to accept that it was a bandwagon effect that brought me to blogging. I was purposefully here. Anyways, It's a new year and I plan to give a brand new start to my blogging life. Hopefully I'll be around often this time.

As for 2006, my word! what a year it has been for me. Some of the events that took place in this year may have long term repercussions on what I do professionally (and otherwise) in years to come. I am tipped to 'Discover Life on the Last Line of Defense' - only if you know what I mean :) That said, God knows better what lies ahead.