My Name Is ‘Trust’

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Trust is my name, let me be loud
Thee who seeks me, just hear me out

I’m faithful to the one who knows
With time my value only grows

Worth more than all the diamond mines
And all the gold on earth combined

I, my friend, what I have learned
Can not be bought but rather earned

Though mostly lost, I’m rarely found
More tightly than love I am bound

Cannot be seen through naked eyes
For me many will gladly die

I’m present in your children’s cry
I’m in your mother’s lullaby

More fragile than a bowl of glass
Once broken, no repair could pass

But only when someone breaks me
I shatter lives into debris

Power’s a blessing and a curse
Those who abuse me oft get hurt

I’m your best friend/worst enemy
Mysteries aplenty held in me

Trust foes to hurt you when you fail
And friends to bail you out of jail

Trust is my name and you should know
To no one shall I ever bow

– Yousuf Bawany, July 2015

NOTE: My wife and I strongly believe that trust is one of the qualities that define a person and it is something that must be cultivated in children from an early age. As a rule, I never make false promises to my children so that they can understand and appreciate the value of trust. 

Never Let Go

A Literary Treat: The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Pictures

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2015 is supposed to be a year of change for me; I had stayed holed up in my comfort zone for far too long and it was high-time I ventured outdoors to follow my passions. Volunteering at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature 2015 seemed like a perfect opportunity to awaken the literary beast within me from a long hibernation. Plus, it gave me the ideal opportunity to inaugurate my new Nikon D7100. Words would be wasted on the awesome experience that was the EAFOL, so without further ado, here’s a look at the essence of the festival through my lens.

Think of me

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At times, you can’t help but jog down memory lane, remembering those you have left behind in this race called life. Even though it’s a love poem, the theme revolves around drifting apart, only to find our way back into each other’s lives. This right here is my tribute to all those long-lost friends and acquaintances, my way of telling them that they have not been forgotten, and the hope that someday, somewhere, we shall meet again.

Think of me

On our first cheesy date
Over cake that we ate
Bound together by fate
Heading back to that place
Do you think of me?

Hand in hand on the beach
Out of the world’s reach
Love’s what we did preach
Hearing the sea’s speech
Do you think of me?

I gave you a head-start
Wondering who’d finish last
Our hearts beating fast
When you look in the past
Do you think of me?

Hiding tears in your eyes
‘midst laughter and cries
As we said our goodbyes
When a piece of you dies
Do you think of me?

Giving up all my hope
would I be able to cope
Memories in cine-scope
I held onto life’s rope
Do you think of me?

In the middle of the night
I put up a good fight
With every ounce of my might
Guided by our love’s light
Do you think of me?

Happiness at each turn
Two hearts beating as one
A new chapter’s begun
After all’s said and done
I know you think of me

A Trip Down Memory Lane: Pizza Hut, Boat Basin

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You never forget your first time.

It was 1994 and I remember driving out to Boat Basin with my uncle for a revolutionary new delicacy; he just couldn’t stop talking about it. As he parked the car at Pizza Hut (read ‘pee-zaa hut’), I couldn’t help but admire the trendy joint. We didn’t go in though and he ordered some to go. As we sat in the car, he opened the mysterious flat box and let me inhale the intoxicating aroma emanating from it. Even though my sense of smell was enticed, my sight wasn’t all that impressed. I couldn’t be impolite to my uncle, and as an avid cheese and vegetable hater back in those days, I had to fight an inner battle before picking up a slice. It was pretty difficult prying a slice apart from the rest of the pie namely because of the strands of cheese unwilling to let go of the neighboring slices. I finally did manage to break the slice free and reluctantly took a bite. When you hate something, you tend to notice every little detail. What I tasted was a load of chicken, seemingly infinite amount of cheese, pineapples, mushrooms, and a few things I couldn’t quite put my finger on (paprika, oregano, etc.).

I hated it!

I hated everything about it. I hated the crunch of the vegetables, the sweetness of the pineapples, the chewy texture of the mushrooms, and cheese that stuck to my teeth. Yuck!

In retrospect, that was, and to this day, is the best pizza I’ve ever had. The old Pizza Hut (or ‘PH’) located at Boat Basin was as iconic as the Eiffel Tower, if not more. I cannot enumerate the number of good times I’ve had there. Whether it was hanging out with friends after the end of exams or chilling with the office (read ‘IT’) crowd for a colleague’s birthday party (mufta), waiting to break the Ramadan fast at the all-you-can-eat with the family or just standing in front of the take-away counter to satisfy a midnight craving, PH was the place to be. Weeks, if not months, of prep was required for a coveted visit at PH as I had to save up for it. The pizza was as lavish as they showed in the “Good times with great pizza” advertisement back in the days.

My last trip to Pizza Hut was probably about 8 months back and the memories weren’t all that good, mainly because of the quality of the food (in general) and the diminished quantity of toppings. For obvious reasons, I was a bit reluctant to go when I received an invite for a bloggers’ meet-up at the new Boat Basin outlet but I thought about giving them another chance; maybe this time around, things would be different.

As I drove to the new location opposite Boat Basin, I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic. Even though the old place was comparatively smaller than the new location, it had something that was clearly missing in the new restaurant; maybe it was the relatively difficult access or the slightly off-the-main-boat-basin-food-street location or all the memories associated with the old place, I can’t really say. The new PH is impressive nonetheless and spans over three floors. One great thing about this place is the dedicated parking space for customers, a rarity these days. Once I stepped inside, everything from the wooden tables to the red leather upholstery to the colorful wall art screamed PH. My fellow bloggers and I were whisked away to the exclusive 2nd floor, probably reserved for birthday parties and such, with Pizza Pooch and his gang watching over us while we took our seats.

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The Deal

Since this meetup was to get an honest feedback on the newly launched ‘Weekday Special’ deal, we were asked to choose from one of their personal pan pizzas, a sideline and a drink; this, according to them, is a three-course meal, but last I checked, a drink wasn’t a ‘course’. Nomenclatures aside, this deal sounded pretty good as it came at a very affordable PKR 199+tax pricing. Add another PKR 100 or so and you’d get dessert too. Upon inquiring what my choices were, I was told that I could order from the following:

  • Pizza: Chicken Fajita, Chicken Tikka, or Veggie Lovers 
  • Starters: Soup, Potato Wedges, or Garlic Bread
  • Desserts: (unfortunately, we weren’t offered any)

As I flipped through the pages of the menu, I couldn’t help admiring the immaculately photographed cuisine. From the pizzas to the Chicken Spin Rolls, everything looked too-good-to-be-true. I was particularly impressed by the potato wedges shown on the menu so I decided to go for a 6″ Chicken Fajita pizza with a side of wedges. 

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The wedges came first. I was shocked as I watched the waiter place the platter in front of me. There were six wedges (you read that right, SIX) that looked nothing like those shown on the menu. I decided to try some; they were neither crisp nor seasoned and had a bitter after-taste owing to the slight char on the sides. After my fourth wedge, I remembered I had to photograph the platter as well, so I took a photo of the two remaining wedges. In retrospect, I should have ordered the garlic bread as it is one of those things PH delivers with consistency (the second one being the salad).

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Then came the pizza, accompanied by a glass of the ‘third course’ (sarcastic much?). After what I had seen on the menu, I was a little disappointed with the amount of topping. The cheese content was relatively low and I counted between five and six 1 cm3 chicken cubes on my pizza. The taste was really OK, nothing fireworks-in-the-sky spectacular. I’d probably rate this a 6.5 out of 10.

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As a special treat, the folks at PH decided to serve Garlic Bread Platters. With three different cheesy toppings, these delectable slices of bread offered fimiliarity and comfort. Those were probably the best things I tasted all evening.

The Verdict

With a humble beginning in the early 90’s, Pizza Hut has grown to be one of the largest international food chains in Pakistan. My personal feelings for PH aside, this deal, on the whole, is pretty neat for the price it’s being offered at and is ideal for a lunch on a weekday. I’d suggest you avoid the wedges and go for the garlic bread instead, which is much more satisfying.

As with every blog, I do have my two bits to say to the PH management. I am well-aware that managing the quality and consistency of your product across so many outlets can pose serious challenges, but that’s what people pay you for. If you charge an-arm-and-a-leg for a pie that is not as good as ‘advertised’, people will go to the many alternates that have sprung-up across Karachi over the recent years.

 Oh, how I’d give anything to travel back to 1994 for a second slice of my first-ever pizza. Those really were good times and that really was great pizza. Try as I might, I cannot forget my first time.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

This week’s challenge is an homage to all the things that make me happy. Even though some of these moments exist in the past, remembering them never cease to put a smile on my face. Enjoy!

Trick Photography – Faux-Multiple Exposures

Ever wondered how photographers show multiple instances of people/things in a single photograph? It’s an age-old photography trick made easier with the recent advancements in digital imaging and tools like Adobe Photoshop. Here’s a primer that will get you started right away.
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You will need:
  • A tripod
  • DSLR Camera (some basic digital cameras may work too)
  • Adobe Photoshop (even 6.0 or 7.0 will work)
  • A subject willing to be your sacrificial goat
Steps:
  1. Make sure the place you are working has a constant amount of light; windows are a definite no-no, esp. in cloudy weather.
  2. Mount your camera on a tripod.
  3. Set your lens such that it allows you to focus manually.
  4. Set the camera to manual mode; set the aperture as well as the shutter speed appropriate for the scene.
  5. Take one image of the background without the subject – let’s call this image A.
  6. Now, take as many images as you want of the subject in different locations (ideally with different dresses).
  7. Once completed, open up a new PSD file in Adobe Photoshop.
  8. As the first (base) layer, import the background image (i.e. image A).
  9. Now, import all the other images.
  10. Using the selection tool, cut out the different variations of the subject on the scene and delete the rest of the image area.
  11. You may have to do some minor brightness/contrast adjustments on the subject but all in all, the effect should be fairly believable; your image is now ready.

Here are a few samples I did; the results could have been cleaner had I invested more time/effort into them, but I suppose I did an OK job.

Enjoy!

On Top Of The World

We are all used to seeing beautiful mountains, lush green with foliage or covered with snow. Rarely do we stop to appreciate the rugged rocky formations on a barren mountain range. Here are a few images from a hiking trip with some friends in the Middle East region that capture the raw beauty of these unchartered rocks, and for the record, I did manage to mount the highest peak. You cannot even begin to imagine how peaceful/lonely it feels when you’re at the top, with nothing but desert sand below as far as your eyes can see.

A few of these photos were taken en route to the mountain range and I think they capture the essence of the whole trip, ergo their inclusion in this blog.

Contrast

Under the greenwood tree

Grassroots

Mountain range 01

Pinkstone

Mountain range 02

On my way down

Fossilized