notes on life …

It was weekend at Lahore and the plan was simple. I had company from Islamabad and we had decided to spend the evening at “Chai Kafee aur Siasat”, with a deliberate intention to get immersed into a bit of reading and another bit of conversation over a subtle dose of doodh patti and puffs. Having recently moved from Islamabad, and among other things, missing “Chaey Khana” the most, the evening was perceived to be my consolation prize in somewhat identical setting. As we underwent the standard drill at the former, I found myself tackling a growing bit of discomfort while drawing a comparison with the latter. It happens on occasions that during the events otherwise filled with the feelings of joy, an incomprehensible sadness finds its ways into the heart, and it was one such abstract feeling while I, leaning back against the sofa-rest, glanced across the collage of pictures on the side wall that was painted dark green at “Chai Kafee aur Siasat”. A moment of realization, a revelation of absolute truth, paved in and it was then, dear reader, that I pondered over the past …

a delightful slumber at Chaaey Khana: Islamabad
the collage @ Chai Kaafee aur Siasat : Lahore

During the eventful journey we call life, there are these very nice pebbles I have collected en-route. Each one of these pebbles has, associated with it, feelings wonderful and unmatched. These are the ornamental offerings of life that hang very dearly on the wall of my heart making a beautiful collage. Each piece in the is unique and sensational whenever revisited.

Here’s to places, far and away, I have wandered both aimlessly and with purpose…

My first walk in the clouds; and I had read stories describing that typical experience to their readers, that while you roam around at some authentic hill station, and you find your way in to the mist, it feels just like falling in love for the first time. The clouds up in the sky and everywhere around me, whenever I have lost myself to them, always tempted me to testify aloud, that it brings out a feeling of pure love; of being out of this world.
Travelling on my usual routes whenever I come across The Mighty Indus (mera sher darya), I re-live the feeling, when years back, standing atop a Himalayan mountain I dearly catched the first glimpse of the tiny stream entering Pakistan that gets shaped into Indus as it reaches Skardu and flows beyond. I always greet Indus with a “hello” and in that greeting there is this echo of me saying hello at “Thakot” Bridge near Besham, and at “Raikot” Bridge, gateway to the “Fairy Meadows”.
It was a beautiful dawn when driving on KKH, I did a brief halt near Jaglot and, dear reader, it was there I saw that majestic face of the “Naked Mountain”, slowly revealing itself into visibility, shining under the first rays of the rising sun. Nanga Parbat was revealing her beauty and there was no one, absolutely no one in the entire world to see that, but me …
The very first sight of Swike Waters, the very first dash into the lake and the very first wrapping of water droplets on the bare skin is of unmatched character and characteristics. The way every summer season gets inaugurated at Swike and the way the sensation gets even more invigorating every year …
A  sensation of the magnificence, of the actual enormity of the structure, while scaling uphill at Badaling, as I stopped to have the first break and looked back and down on the Great Wall of China …
The warmth at my fingertips curling dearly around a mug of hot coffee, as I stood by the Thames on one of the autumn evenings, gazing at the Tower Bridge at dusk, silently absorbing the contentment of having very dearly accomplished a stroll astride Thames …
The chilling sensation down my spine as I burst out my first ever public truth on the north-east corner at Hyde Park …
… the list goes on

to the moments with the near and dear ones …

The way I always sit across Mani keeping to a side (much to her disapproval all the time), to have the side exposure of her face, and the way it always takes me back to that amazing moment, once we were young and not yet related, while sitting beside her, much to my joy, I managed a deliberate look through all the highlights and shadows of the face I had loved.
Every time I hug Amelia, there is always this aroma in the air, a feeling exactly identical to when I first gave my daughter a ride on my shoulders, while roaming in North Colony at Kharian Cantonment.
The smile I throw at Ahmad to have one in return, but more exactly for that characteristic twinkle of mischief in my son’s eyes, I saw at the ‘Arrivals’ in Islamabad International and the way it has always been since then.

… and here’s to some more, the recent ones

Moving up-trek on Margallas, known to people as trail 3, to stand dominantly and look back fondly at Islamabad, for like a loving mother having absorbed me smoothly into her lap and looking after me well.
Of the evening abodes,  a favorite one, Chaey Khana, to absorb into the characteristic dull evenings’ nothingness and sparing the taste buds for the divine taste people call ‘tea’ (the experience is very aptly covered by Rashid Minhas here).
A den, an ops room, a Cinepax and a travelers’ rendezvous; of all the dwellings nothing but one beloved room at the Chaklala Garrison.
The unforgettable evenings spent with Chad Yaar at that beloved compound of Haji Sahib in DHA Y Block.

All these and lot many others make up the collage of life I have lived and am living through. It’s the larger picture composed of these tiny bits that are interspersed and inseparable. It’s just not possible to move a bit or replicate one as I was miserably trying to do on that eventful evening at Chai Kafee aur Siasat. I will visit  the place again and will be visiting for many evenings  to come not to replicate something, but to fondly recall the feelings I have had while scrolling across the dark green wall. Another tiny bit just got added to the collage!

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author bio

Imran Saeed

I am a teller of old tales. History, folklore, military, and more. Mostly covering Pakistan, my homeland, but also the Great White North, where I am currently settled.
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Rahman Arshad

An arbor of life beautifully molded with memories and placed in the attic of thoughts

Rahman Arshad

And on a lighter part…..”tu marayen ga kise nu” 😀