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Wheels of Empire

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Wheels of Empire by Salman Rashid

Salman Rashid is clearly Pakistan’s most notable and erudite travel writer. His work is informed not only by deep insight but an even deeper love of his subject. A signature Salman piece welds impressive knowledge of geography, history, ethnography and ingenious and tradition with a writing style that quivers with life.


Salman Rashid is also an accomplished lensman with a sensitive eye for landscape photography that further enriches his travelogues.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, July 23, 2016, , links to this post

Deals in dinning

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Gowalmandi Food and Heritage Street has become an enriching experience in Lahore. It is a wonder what a few million rupees spent on the renovation of built heritage with balconies and angular projections lining the street some years ago have done to the ambience of the street. Lahorites have already (and justifiably) stated comparing it with lanes in Rome, Paris and Athens. More so during Jashn-e-Baharan.

Sizzling spicy foods on display in Gowalmandi reminds of what Vasco de Gama shouted after setting his foot on South Asian soils on the dawn of May 21, 1498, "For Christ and spices!" No data for consumption of spices in Gowalmandi Food Street are available but a proprietor of one of the biggest shops in the street told, "On the average I sell about 120 Kilograms mutton and over 40 kilograms of chicken every day. People prefer to eat mutton karahi and chicken barbecued. A milk shop proprietor said, "My daily milk consumption - in the form of chilled milk, yogurt, Kheer, khoya, lassi -- is over 2000 kilograms."
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, July 22, 2016, , links to this post

Have a Blog or a Printing Press

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Who all should have a blog? The answer depends on who is being asked this question. Given my personal interest, I say everyone should have a blog.

For marketers, public relations professionals, writers and all those who need to reach out with their ideas and or products and services, blogs are a must; easier, cheaper, convenient. But think outside the box and you will find people have experiences to share, stories to tell and put the things on record. They all need a blog.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, July 14, 2016, , links to this post

Calling Abdalians

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Comfortably tucked in green hills north of Islamabad, Hasan Abdal is situated right on the Grand Trunk Road. The town's claims to fame are Cadet College and temple of Panja Sahib. This small and clean historic town neat is sacred for Sikhs.

Hassan Abdal is famous for its cadet college and also serves as the gateway to some most stunning sites in Pakistan. It is from here that Karakoram Highways turns towards Northern Areas. It is a convenient halting point of Grand Trunk Road (G T Road) from where one can go to places like Abbotabad and Northern Areas, Peshawar, Taxila, Wah, Rawalpindi. Coins of the Greco-Bectrians kings discovered from the adjoining tract suggest that the area was inhabited in first century B.C. Accounts of Xuan Zang, a seventh century Chinese Buddhist traveler tells us that the place was also sacred to Buddhists. However, presently the town is associated with Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and Baba Wali Qandhari, a revered Muslim saint.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Sunday, July 03, 2016, , links to this post

Revisiting Abbottabad

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Located north of Islamabad, Abbottabad town is surrounded by lofty peaks and pine scented air. Among Pakistan's towns and cities, Abbottabad -- small, neat and clean in a spacious valley -- is a rarity. Apart from being famous for its educational institutions and Pakistan Military Academy, Abbottabad also serves as the gateway to some most stunning sites in Pakistan. While other hill stations are deserted during winter this place has visitors due to its bracing weather all year around. The town has beautiful gardens and tall, tree lined roads: splendid stretches of turf with plenty of room for polo, football, hockey and golf.

At 1,250 meters above sea level, Abbottabad lies below the lush pines of the Murree Hills. The importance of the town has been diminished a little after the completion of Karakorum highways because, in the past, the only track available to reach Karakorum was through Babusar pass, which could only be approached through Abbottabad. In spite of this development, it continues to be a transit town for those who want to venture to northern areas of Pakistan. Abbottabad is the junction point from where one can go to places like Hunza, Gilgit, Skardu and Indus Kohistan of the Karakorum Range. One can also reach Swat, Dir and Chitral of the Hindukush Range or can approach to Naran, Lake Saif-ul-Muluk, Shogran and Babusar Pass of the Himalayan Range. Neelum, Lipa and Jhelum Valleys are also connected through Abbottabad. It is where the hills start.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, June 28, 2016, , links to this post

Every Rose Has Its Thorns

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While most of my friends were having a great weekend, I was taking a trip to explore the lush green plains of Punjab, riding my trusted old motorbike on Band Patri (track along the bank) of Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC). Many new and interesting things came in the way, which normally remain hidden from commuters on the National Highway or travellers in the area. The countryside embraces you with lovely colours, atmosphere, people and bits and pieces of history. And, there is no hassle anywhere in the way.

As spring approaches, the traveller, especially in the irrigated tracts, ride through endless expanses of waving crops of different shades of colour, out of which the villages seem to rise like islets in an ocean of green.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, June 22, 2016, , links to this post

Mai Bismillah

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I believe in “mothers” as an instruction. They are always there for granted. I had to say fare well to another great mother on Saturday, June 18, 2011. I feel the pain, sadness and void within on two accounts; one she was my mother in law and second she was a great person – an anjuman in herself.

I will always remember her for many things. Best one that I liked is that she would say Bismillah with almost each sentence in her conversation. Starting everything with the name of Allah had visible effect on her persona and I could see blessing of Allah almighty in her worldly affairs. Anyone could see that. Due to this I very fondly used to call her Mai Bismillah.

Another of her distinct trait was her generous hospitality. She was very hospitable. Anyone going to her house (and many people used to go to her house) would have food or whatever was suitable and possible at the time. She would go a long way to make sure that any guest has food before leaving. And this act too brought in more blessing in her life.

Looking back, I can say that what she did for her off springs and what she accomplished would not have been possible without uncounted blessings of Allah almighty.

You were a great mother and great person Mai Bismillah. I will miss you for ever. May your soul rest in eternal peace.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Saturday, June 18, 2016, , links to this post

Sailboat in sea without wind

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, June 09, 2016, , links to this post

Chill out at Chillas

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In northern Pakistan, Chilas - a small town - was once an important crossroads on the ancient trading route taken by travellers like Marco Polo. A jeep track leads from Chilas over the Babusar Pass to the Kaghan Valley. Until the opening of Karakorum Highway (KKH) this track was the main route to the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Going still is tough on the route that is passable only in the summers. We decided to take this track when I took the trip in May with my comrades, which started from Shinkiari.

Before leaving Chilas, visit to the famous inscriptions on the rocks is a must. Ancient inscriptions around Chilas date back in a period around first century BC. The most interesting thematic inscriptions are itched onto the faces of rocks between the KKH and the Indus River below Chilas town. One of the most interesting rock drawings we saw depicts two figures dressed in robes -- presumably Buddhist monks -- approaching a stupa in order to worship. The larger figure with a shaven head is carrying some sort of offering. The stupa to which theoffering is being made consists of a rectangular foundation with a ladder leading up to the path for circumambulation, which is surrounded by a railing. The dome of the stupa is decorated with a zigzag line, may be indicating a garland, and is surmounted by a small rectangular shrine and a vertical shaft with three horizontal discs. The architectural and stylistic features of this stupa drawing are similar to those of stupas found in the Swat Valley and other parts of ancient Gandhara in north-western Pakistan. Above the human figure making an offer and to the left of the dome of the stupa is a drawing of a single pillar with a capital (apparently a wild goat or ibex, which is the most common animal in rock drawings in the area) on a rectangular platform.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, June 08, 2016, , links to this post

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

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Commencement address by Steve Jobs a few months ago when he stepped down as the CEO of Apple. As Jobs passed away on October 5, rediff.com brings you his words of advice that are as relevant today as they were in 2005 when he addressed students of the Stanford University.

After going on medical leave that has lasted six months, Steve Jobs has announced that he is stepping down as CEO of Apple.

It is common knowledge that the head honcho of the one of the most valuable companies in the world, who built it up from scratch, is ailing from pancreatic cancer.

There is a lot we can learn from Jobs and not all of it pertains to succeeding in your profession -- he believes you should live life to the fullest, without compromise. Here, we present a prepared text of the commencement address delivered by Jobs on June 12, 2005:

I am honoured to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, May 23, 2016, , links to this post


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