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Friday, December 31, 2010
Dolls from Thatta Kedona wish you happy new year.


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Muslim women profile in America.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Around Sept. 11, 2001, not long after she founded the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta, Soumaya Khalifa heard from a group whose name sounded like “Bakers Club.” It wanted a presentation.

The address was unfamiliar, but she went anyway. The group turned out to be the Bickerers Club, whose members love to argue. Islam was their topic du jour and their venue was a tavern. Ms. Khalifa laughed, and made the best of it.

Ms. Khalifa, who was born in Egypt and raised in Texas, wears a head scarf but also juggles, comfortably, the demands of American suburbia: crowded schedule, minivan and all.

She is one of a type now found in most sizable U.S. cities: vocal Muslim women wary of the predominantly male leadership of their community and increasingly weary of suspicions of non-Muslims about Islam.

These women have achieved a level of success and visibility unmatched elsewhere. They say they are molded by the freedoms of the United States — indeed, many unabashedly sing its praises — and by the intellectual ferment stirred when American-born and immigrant Muslims mix.

“What we’re seeing now in America is what has been sort of a quiet or informal empowerment of women,” said Shireen Zaman, executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a nonprofit research institute founded after the 2001 attacks to provide research on American Muslims. “In many of our home countries, socially or politically it would’ve been harder for Muslim women to take a leadership role. It’s actually quite empowering to be Muslim in America.”

As Najah Bazzy, a American-born nurse and founder of several charities in Michigan, put it: “Yeah I’m Arab, yeah I’m very American, and yeah I’m very Islamic, but you put those things in the blender and I’m no longer just a thing. I’m a new thing.”

It is not always easy. Several of the Muslim women interviewed for this article said they had been the object of abusive letters, e-mails or blog posts.

Yet in their quest to break stereotypes, America’s Muslim women have advantages. They are better educated than counterparts in Western Europe, and also than the average American, according to a Gallup survey in March 2009. In contrast to their sisters in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they are just as likely as their menfolk to attend religious services, which equates to greater influence. And Gallup found that Muslim American women, often entrepreneurial, come closer than women of any other faith to earning what their menfolk do.

“Muslims coming to North America are often seeking an egalitarian version of Islam,” said Ebrahim Moosa, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Duke University. “That forces women onto the agenda and makes them much more visible than, say, in Western Europe.”

Besides her speakers’ bureau, which advertises itself as “a bridge between Islam and Americans of other faiths,” Ms. Khalifa heads a consultancy working with students, executives, soldiers and even the F.B.I. to overcome stereotypes. Some people she addresses have never met a Muslim. Some look askance at head scarves.

Ms. Khalifa, who has degrees in chemistry and human resources, began wearing a head scarf in her mid-30s, about 15 years ago. At first, she said, people looked at her “like I was different, Muslim, un-American, stupid.”

But she is quietly persistent. When a small-town newspaper refused to run Ms. Khalifa’s ad listing the hours of a nearby mosque, she organized a successful boycott by local churchmen.

Perhaps the most noticed figure among American Muslim women is Ingrid Mattson. In a bright-red jumper and multicolored head scarf, she stood out among the gray-haired clerics in black who gathered in Washington in September to try and defuse the anger over the planned mosque near the World Trade Center site in New York.

Ms. Mattson, who is 47 and teaches at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, became the first woman to head the Islamic Society of North America, one of the largest Muslim associations on the continent.

She was first elected vice president on Sept. 4, 2001, then president in 2006, a position she held until September; those years were so full of sound and fury over all things Muslim that gender took a back seat. 

Read here


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Ramla's Journey of Hope

Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Ramla Akhtar

I'm in Punjab. Making micro-documentaries. As part of the Hope Express project... which the team decided to convert into a short films/ mini documentaries project - rather than a train journey project. So I grabbed my brother's Sony Handy cam, and decided to film whatever inspires me on an unplanned journey.

I went to PakPattan from Aug 3-6, returned to Lahore and stayed a night at the beautiful and gifted fashion entrepreneur Maria B's. Met S A J Shirazi, a traveler n prolific blogger/ writer.

He pointed me to Thatta Ghulam da Dheroka, where the Thatta Khedona brand hand dolls originate from. I let go of an obsession to 'go up North' and hopped on a car, bus, rickshaw, van and finally a taxi to get here yesterday.

Back to Lahore today and wondering what next? Don't want to stay in one place for too long! Hope to settle in a new place in Lahore or go elsewhere - I have a mental plan to return to Karachi by August 18. Let's see where Allah takes me next between today & then!

My wonderfully caring hosts at PakPattan (Dastgir of Sabri Langar Khana) & Lahore (Afia & family) have made an uncertain journey very comfortable!


I miss going North, but right now, carrying the message of a benevolent transformation across to people, while watching the Face of God wherever I turn, seem to take precedence as an intent!

Allah does best!

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Much More Than What Meets the Eye

Buffalo pond is already functioning in the village. The goal of the project is connect the (gray water) canals in different bazaars with the pond, so that grey water can run in the pond. On a special mark, the water will be pumped into the regional canal, and fresh water will be brought into the pond from the regional canal.

Update: Canals for grey water from several bazaars can already flow in the clean buffalos’ pond, which is now walled and have another pump house in one corner. Canal from the pond to the regional canal, with exchange possibility between clean and grey water, is helpful for the farmers’ buffalos.

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TGD Images

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best mud hut in Thatta Ghulamka Dgeroka

Best exterior

Best brick house

Thatta Kedona stall

Growing with Thatta Kedona


Volunteers at work

Some of those who work together to make all that happen.

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Why travel

Travel writing is a fine art; accepted literary genre that is read. Writers who are gifted with an ability to understand what they see can breathe life into a place when they narrate their travel experiences. The Internet that is wrongly considered a pedestal for instantaneous scribbles mixed with emoticons and indecipherable abbreviations has already become a place to find some good travel literature, travelogues and travel stories in addition to online trading of travel services. It can be one of the best display places for local writers to showcase what Pakistan has to offer.Travel is prosperity and leisure pursuit, which is a result of many things: history, heritage, culture, natural beauty and a quest to know what is unknown and meet wonderful people.

Pakistan is a land of geographical, geological, and natural contrasts and has every thing nature could bestow; from some of the places like Mehr Garh in Balochistan and Harappa in Punjab where some of the initial human activities began, Lots Valley (NWFP and people there) once home to Gandhara Civilization where Chinese Hiuen Tsiang who is regarded as an early trendsetter traveller treaded, or ancient city Multan that, as per the legend, is living since the time of Hazrat Noah (A.S.), Kalash community existing in an on the edge district Chitral still holding awaiting for anthropologists’ conclusive research about origin of their unique identity against all outside pressures for development and modernity, unsolved riddle where rivers were lost (River Hakra in Cholistan) to pristine locations in Northern Pakistan (tree line in Himalaya Range) where one can see two seasons at the same place — winter above and summer below, and thematic pilgrims for Sikh and Buddhist communities, to name just a few.

Now consider this: All major national publications have some portions designated for travel writing but it is a small and competitive market. For those who write in English — language that is understood on World Wide Web – the market is even smaller. Experienced travel writers are associated with newspapers and magazines and new ones get chance to appear in print only occasionally. The print publication should open more opportunities for travel writers.

There should be more travel journalism and industry news. Public should know if the Ministry of Tourism reduces royalty fee by 50 percent for climbing Pakistani mountains that are above 6000 meters.

Facts packed guidebooks with eye-catching, superb, clear and sharp images of people and places enlivening every page provide good background information into any country’s history, culture, attractions, and its people; information that are useful during journeys to new places. Guidebooks have their own style quite different that travelogues and travel stories. The guidebook publishing business is totally in the hands of famous foreign companies and it is hard for local publishers to compete with them. “Only foreign tourists need and buy guidebooks and they already have one when they arrive in Pakistan,” says a publisher Munir Ahmad. Still opportunities for travel writers do come up from time to time. Some guidebook companies also get updates and inputs from local writers and photographers that appear in their newer editions. Some time ago, for example, Insight Guides commissioned a local writer to revise their outdated edition. Tony Wheeler, British founder editor of Lonely Planet while marketing guidebooks on Pakistan prides in growing up in here for some years and has contact with many local travel writers for updates. But, Munir Ahmad says, “Publishing guidebooks is not a viable option here; it is difficult to sell books.” Same is the case with self publishing by writers.

Given the rate of travel industry growth and every one’s interest in knowing new places, people and cultures, so many Websites have come up that show travel contents all over the Internet. So far Pakistani destinations have very scanty presence on the Web. Print publications, particularly English, get the original work and pay to the writers whereas most Websites just recycle travel articles from print media.

This scarcity of places where to get published leaves the travel writers to turn to the Internet where they can pitch their ideas to many editors of travel Websites and or interested foreign publications who are always looking for new talent; eager and encouraging. Not only that, writers can read what has already been published there, find background material and facts. Quick search on the Internet reveal so many starting points, notwithstanding travel writing how-to services and premium travel writers’ marketers. BootsnAll.com, where I am published some time, is a Web service that post articles by writers from all over the world. I have found it writer friendly and receptive to new locations.

In Pakistan, so far much has not been documented systematically what to talk of presenting it on the Internet for others to find about with an aim to tempt them to come here and see (and spend their money in the process). Which is why Pakistani travel writers and photographers have a vast field of activity on hand right at home? In addition to glob trotters with a compass, a camera and itchy feet, historians, geographers, archaeologists, geologists, naturalists and birdwatchers also need to publish their work in order to generate wide ranging interests in off beat and mostly obscure destinations in Pakistan. I know an engineer Itehar Mahmud who works with oil exploration firm and writes about places where ever he goes in connection with his duty. Mobashir Ahmad has travelled all along the borders, “for recognisance purposes mostly on foot,” he says, during his long service. He also writes his memories from the Salt Range (and Katas Raj) to Jhang and more in the form of travelogues. It is in this context the Web can be viewed as the playing ground for local talent.

Travel calendar of Pakistan is quite impressive. Where else in the world other than in Pakistan polo – grandest of all the sports — is played at the high ground like Shandor Pass that is called the roof of the world, or moving international cultural festival are held along Kharakorum Highway. But all the events on the calendar go without any advance publicity or follow ups. One wonders how interested people come to know about these events. PTDC list of events and festivals need to be improved and lot more can be included in the list.

Somebody has to write the travel literature in order to keep fuelling the demand for airline seats, hotel rooms, tour operators, eateries, transport companies, porters and facilitators, guidebooks, atlases, picture postcards and posters publishers, and other affiliates of the travel industry besides those communities whose major source of income comes from tourism. Kim Rahan, a traveller from China who bought History of Rohtas Fort on location, told, “This buy is to promote interest of people in travel related vocations.”

Too often, deftly executed travelogues or a travel story can accomplish much more than any other promotional activity, particularly a story that combine passion, personality and perspective. Every place has a story (and a history), as they say. If you have a drive to write, there is a need of extensive travel writing showcasing Pakistan  from Pakpattan to Pashin on the Web.


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Blogging is Like Building a Home

Saturday, December 25, 2010
Blogging is like building a home. You start putting things together (working hard) and ultimately end up having a nice place. No?

Read more »


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Year end blogging review - 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010
Read Year end blogging review - 2010 here.


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Right to Education

Indian school stand by the blackboard at a Urdu-language primary school in Bangalore on April 1, 2010. The historic Right to Education from into force April 1 providing free and compulsory schooling to children in the 6-14 year age bracket with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking the states to join in this national effort with full resolve and determination. The new statute makes it obligatory on part of the state governments and local bodies to ensure that every child gets education in a school in the neighbourhood. Its implementation will directly benefit close to one crore children who do not go to schools at present. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)


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Churail in Dolls Village

Thursday, December 23, 2010
Ramla Akhtar

The lives of the residents of this village changed 15 years when a German art teacher took up her student Amjad's invite and visited his village: Thatta Ghulam da Dheroka.

An enterprising spirit, she asked the villagers about their craft. The women showed her hand-made rag dolls. The art teacher, Dr Senta Siller, told the villagers she could teach them to make refined hand-made dolls.

Thus spun off a social enterprise in this 200-house strong village that has changed the way of life and living here. Women have a school. The village has a road. They experimented with alternative energy very early on, and now are undertaking community energy & food projects.

The women from this conservative village now go on study tours with the Germans. The villagers have learned about sanitation, childcare, and eco-friendly living. Cleanliness is rewarded here.

Above all, these changes were brought within the system, without breaking down the structure violently.

The whole village participates in the making of the dolls, which represent the four provinces of Pakistan. The original doll is called, "Churail."

This is my peek into their lives. More here!

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So Muddy

Youth cover themselves with mud during a festival at Nitzanim beach in southern Israel on April 1, 2010. The three-day festival attracts many young Israelis and includes rock concerts, meditation, yoga sessions and nudist camps. AFP PHOTO/DAVID BUIMOVITCH (Photo credit should read DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)

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Volunteers in TGD


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Fine Art of Bloggging

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Fine Art of Bloggging - This article appeared in in Sci-Tech World daily Dawn
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Women and chimps

Muhammad B. Aldalou

Scientists reported through their recent studies in Uganda that in the same manner that little girls may cradle their toys and dolls, female chimps carry around sticks to express their "care-taker" nature as a form of mothering.

Although these female chimps do utilize their proudly owned sticks for other activities, such as forms of weapons or self defense and finding water or food in holes, they always revert back to cradling the sticks, in a baby-like fashion.

The findings of the research, which were published in the Journal of Current Biology reveal that gender roles might be more biologically rooted than some people might have thought.

The lead author of this journal, Sonya Kahlenberg, looked at incidences of stick-carrying in a chimp community in Uganda for over 14 years. After close examination of various cases, she noticed a distinct gender difference; out of the young females, 67 percent carried sticks, as opposed to just 31 percent of males.

It was also revealed that the stick-carrying demonstrates a more feminine approach to care taking. Subsequently the males who did carry sticks stopped doing so, as they grew older and more masculine, but the females would only cease when they gave birth.

Kahlenberg is eagerly waiting to see which toys her 9-month-old daughter chooses to pick up or adopt. "Right now it's just blocks. It's too early to say," Kahlenberg said.

Interesting observations concluded in these studies showing that some of the young chimps even played the "airplane" game: lying on their backs and lifting the stick in the air, much as human parents entertain their youngsters.

As similarities pile up between Chimpanzees and human beings, especially when it comes to gender distinction and preferences, it has also been tested among male and female chimps that they possess the same gender oriented preferences as boys and girls do.

When presented with dolls and trucks, subsequently the female chimps chose the dolls while the males chose the trucks. [Via]


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The Golden Girl Image

Robin Black says making older women complicated heroines in fiction is a political act that can help bring about social change.

Rarely are older women centered as protagonists in American fiction, a fact that mirrors their marginalized role in society. In If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, her new collection of stories, author Robin Black pushes back against this trend. Black's bright and nuanced tales make protagonists of those who, in life as well as in art, are more often caricatures. We meet a 70-year-old artist who grieves the end of a romance while painting a dying man's portrait, a woman in her mid-60s who makes an unexpected connection with a stranger in Italy, and another older woman who lies about her recent stroke while coming to terms with her daughter's marital infidelity.

Black talked with TAP about feminism, the political implications of narratives in which older women play central roles, whether social change can be instigated by art, and what it means to her to be a widely heralded debut author in her 40s.

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This is unusual in that it features so many protagonists who are women in their 60s and 70s. What drew you to these characters' stories?

I've spent a lot of time with older women. When I was 10, my 72- year-old grandmother moved into our home. She was widowed and bedridden, and she was both admirable in her strength and difficult in her judgmental nature. She was an early, dramatic education for me, as was my father, in the idea that people needn't be perfect for us to love them and for them to deserve that love, and that understanding is certainly at the heart of much of my work.

She also had six sisters, all of whom were frequent visitors over the decade that she lived with us until her death. They each seemed to have lived about a dozen lives. Not because they had lived even a remotely glamorous existence but because of the richness of it all, the layers, the sense of passed time as an almost physical characteristic. As I think about it now, it makes sense that when I began to write, I found myself drawn to characters with similarly layered, complicated lives.

Is writing about these older women a political, feminist act? What are the social implications of narratives where older women matter?

I'm reminded of a story about Grace Paley. Essentially, someone asked her why she didn't write political fiction and she said, "I do. I write about women." I've always understood that to mean that throwing a light on lives otherwise not represented, the lives of too often overlooked people, is an inherently political act.

And when depicting older women, you're also combating widespread stereotypes. These tend to fall into two strains. These women are either simplified beyond belief into monolithically generous and nurturing beings -- the grandmothers who exist only to dote on others -- or they become the naughty nanas of sitcoms whose sexuality and other passions are played for laughs. And of course both versions are premised on the idea that a qualitative change occurs in women as they age so that normal human desires and complexities are absurd phenomena. I'm a big fan of

The Golden Girls, but when I watch it now, there are moments at which I cringe at the degree to which mature female sexual desire is played for laughs. Ultimately, the show is better than that. Those characters are far from cartoons. And there's a kind of subversive awareness at work that in order for these women to continue to be fully alive and as complex as all people are, they have to play along within the cultural norms of old ladies -- meaning that as complex characters, they have to fly under the radar of allowing themselves to be viewed as only funny.

Can concrete change in social norms and public policy be instigated by art?

I was raised on the idea that it can, and I believe that. My father, the late Charles L. Black Jr., was a legal scholar who played a role in writing the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's brief for Brown v. Board of Education. He was also a white Southerner, a Texan born in 1915. In the early 1930s while still a teenager, he saw Louis Armstrong perform at the Driskill Hotel in Austin and was stunned, altered, by the experience of encountering genius for the first time in the form of a black man. As he wrote far more eloquently than I will here, it became evident that everything he'd been told, every assumption woven into the society that surrounded him, was wrong. For him, the moment of insight came in the context of what he called genius, but more generally, I take his experience to be about the realization that a group of people who had been defined for him in very specific, profoundly limited ways, might indeed exist within the full range of human possibility.

Art doesn't feed anyone, usually not even the artists, so in that way it isn't of concrete help. But what art can and should do is encourage compassion and shore up those aspects of us that are capable of imagining that someone else is as real as we ourselves are.

You yourself are a widely heralded debut author who doesn't fit into the trope of the mid-20s MFA grad. You sold your first book when you were 46. You have written elsewhere about how this fact often ignites surprise and tearful joy in those who learn it. Why do you think that is?

Yes, I wrote about that on my blog, in the context of my own weeping at the Susan Boyle video, over and over again. I think it's impossible to exaggerate the degree to which women are given the steady message of marginalization as they age. And I'm not talking octogenarians here. I'm talking about what happens to women as soon they begin to shift outside the societal visions of what sexy is -- to put it rather crudely since in truth it is all rather stunningly crude.

Those tears come from a place of deep, deep discouragement and doubt about the possibility of anyone listening. It's inherently moving to us all, I think, to have a glimpse at the chance that who you are really may triumph over the prejudice with which you are viewed.

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Love Writer

Indian afsana writer Amrita Pritam poses on March 30, 1983 in Paris, France.


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Word of the Year - Austerity

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
According to Merriam-Webster, "austerity" was the most-searched word in its online dictionary this year, sparked by austerity measures announced by European governments. Runners up include "pragmatic," "moratorium," "socialism," and thankfully, no Jersey Shore-related phrases.

Austerity clearly resonates with many people," said Peter Sokolowski, editor at large at Merriam-Webster, who monitors online dictionary searches. "We often hear it used in the context of government measures, but we also apply it to our own personal finances and what is sometimes called the new normal."

Second on the list was "pragmatic", a word that rose steadily in searches this year, and which the dictionary said "described a quality that people value highly, want to understand fully and are looking for in their leaders".

"Moratorium" was third on the list, reflecting the ban on offshore oil drilling that followed BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Other words in the top 10 included socialism, bigot, doppelganger, shellacking, ebullient, dissident and furtive.

Source: Merriam-Webster.


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Fine art of skin painting

Monday, December 20, 2010
Art seems to have been important to almost all human societies since before recorded history. Art expressions have been, and still are, used to record, to explain, to interpret, to predict, to gain awareness, and to express those things cultures find important,” wrote by Turner Rogers, an associate professor of art education at the University of South Alabama.

This assertion is truer in case of Pakistan where some of the medieval arts have originated, and have not only been preserved but are practiced till date. The history of Pakistani arts and crafts – Kashi work, painting of skin, woodworks and painting on wood items -- goes back to medieval period.

Among the various arts that are practiced in Pakistan, skin painting has attained a higher state of refinement and Pakistan is famous this art around the world. The use of foliage or branches and leaves of trees and superb richness of colours (mainly blue) in skin painting is an evidence of Persian influence. As Persian arts themselves have been under Chinese Mongol influence, therefore some historians are of the view that skin painting had originally come from Kashghar China. Over a period of centuries Pakistani work has matured and developed a unique and distinctive style of its own. The finest quality work is done on the camel skin in southern Punjab (Multan, Bahawalpur, Dera Ghazi Khan) and several products are exported.

The tedious technique of shaping the camel skin crafts and decorating them with indegenously prepared lacquer colours is an age old tradition that has withstood the test of time. This is a part of our ancient cultural heritage and needs to be preserved. Not only that, there is always a room to bring into the art new innovations, endow it with fresh spirit and set the science as its guide. The range of possibilities in the field of ceramics is very vast. The whole world is there to appreciate the work.

How to preserve the craft for our next generations?


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Project in Gross Behnitz

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Differences (and similarities) in crimes by Bill Clinton and Julian Assange

Saturday, December 18, 2010
Wendy Murphy 

The WikiLeaks founder sits in a British jail based on evidence authorities generally scoff at. Former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy on how the case politicizes rape—and hurts women.

As a former sex crimes prosecutor, I'm the last person you might expect to come to the defense of the unsavory WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. But the charges that now have him sitting in a British prison reek of opportunism and political expediency, and that does women around the world no good.

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Punjab culture


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Thursday, December 16, 2010


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Harappa research

Harappa or “Hari-Yupuya” as mentioned in the “Rig Veda” marked the height of urban development of the Indus valley civilization at 2600 B.C.E till 1900 B.C.E. for 700 years. Harappa is located in the present day province of Punjab , near Gogera, and in its full glory was the perfect proto-type of a fully developed city of the Indus valley civilization. It was the perfect reflection of the kind of organized thought which the Rig Veda emphasized. [Wheeler, Kenoyer].[go over page25 at the end]. Read here
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Social Media

Sunday, December 12, 2010
Use of social media applications is being debated across the World Wide Web. Fans support the usage of tools like Blog, tweet, Facebook to break down barriers between businesses, public servants and ordinary people to discuss ideas and gather feedback. Trend watches and analysts still see the social media tools as time wasting diversions. It is in this milieu that we need to look at the fast growing social media usage in our own, still low tech, corporate and public sectors.

Read Social Media in the Attention Age by S A J Shirazi


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Give two choices to liars

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Need to weed out a liar? Try tricking them with a choice. Because liars have to think so much to keep track of their lies, they'll often be unable to come up with an alternate to the options you provide.

Liars, when faced with two choices, tend to pick one of the choices presented rather than seeking a third alternative. This tendency is due to cognitive overload. Truthful people do not experience cognitive overload; they simply convey facts. Liars, on the other hand, are operating at near-full or full cognitive capacity depending on the complexity of the lies.



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Dolls on the World Tour

Friday, December 10, 2010
Dolls from Pakistan are on the world tour these days. Last weekend they were in the Berlin Ethnological Museum. Earlier, dolls along with Dr Senta Siller were in a Museum in Vienna, and with Dr. Norbert, they were in Museum in Hamburg. Even before thy had visited Museum in Stuttgart.

On Thursday, 20th of November, they were also on display during the opening ceremony in the National Exhibition and Art Hall in the Federal City Bonn. Pakistan Dolls from Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka are now available in the Museum Shop.

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Jhando Art

Young Aslam displays his art work (bedspreads sheets, table cloth, wall hangings, a melee of colour and an extravaganza of design) in Thatta Kedona show room at Lahore under the approving gaze of Dr. Senta Siller. Aslam needs no coaxing to display the finished pieces. As quickly as he spreads his art pieces, he rattles off the names. Persian 1, Persian 11, Masjid Wazir Khan, the palm tree, peacock palm, dancing parrots, the elephant tram and six peacocks, also naming the prestigious places where these designs are in use at the moment.

Aslam represents fourth generation of the family carrying forward the art of block printing that is at the verge on extinction. Block printing represents an age when mastery over art was the struggle of a life time of hard labour and Aslam does not seem to forget this philosophy even thought he has ambitious to innovate and diversify the art of his forefathers in a big way.

Jhando, the master craftsman exported hand painted and printed cottons and silks and velvets to agencies in London and New York. An international nomenclature some seventy years ago and now Calico Prints in Lahore is representing the family name and craft which once enjoyed international repute. Aslam is carrying the tradition further.

Indeed today Aslam with his skill of colour and stroke work, epitomizes an art technique which Jhando had carried to the pinnacle of perfection. Jhando -- the legendary great grandfather of Aslam -- was of course a figure of epic stature so to say. It was he who left to the family a collection of over twenty two thousand blocks drawn from diverse cultures like Muslim, Mughal and Punjabi cultures and Hindu mythology. The grandfather was illustrious too to be sure with his collection of awards and accolades kept zealously safe even today in velveteen cases.

Block printing is a very fine art that has matured over time. So intricate are the patterns that a single motif may need anything from two to twelve blocks to complete the details. Different block motifs cater to different colours in the same pattern. All this requires dexterity of hand to prevent them from running the other. The grand finale of course is the intricate brush work. Fashioned from local needs these indigenous brushes with all their quaintness high light of the motifs.

It goes without saying that Aslam’s exotic collection that I saw at Thatta Kedona is a treat for eye. Ironically, block printing is a cultural heritage reduced to penury under the influence of a mechanized industrial society and bulk production phenomenon. Yet one has to see it to believe the richness of this art from which even in its quaintness excels the grandeur of modern printing.

Preservation of the craft is a very noble passion but there is a difference in the preservation methodologies and objectives. “It is different to preserve the ancient cultural heritage for the sack of its perpetuation as an art and to do it for commercial purposes,” says Dr. Norbert Pintsch. Thatta Kedona is trying to patronize in order to preserve this (and many more) arts for the sack of those arts in their own original contexts.

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Power of Hypnosis

Life is stressful and everyone needs to relax! Everyone needs to unwind. I suggest you visit Serenity and have an enriching mind and body experience. Thanks to the advancement in knowledge that there are ways that can help to create happiness and health and relive you from anxiety, chronic fatigue and more worries in life.

Hypnotherapy treatment is one of the process that help to access to your subconscious mind making it an effective tool for creating significant, long-lasting change. Anyone living with fear or worry can approach Cathy Unruh - a certified hypnotherapist in Los Angeles, California – and can work together for the change.

What is Hypnosis? Have a look at neatly laid out Powerful Perspective Hypnosis and lean how Hypnotherapy weight loss works or how stress relief hypnosis brings permanent changes in anyone’s life.

I was amazed to discover the power of Hypnotherapy and how simply the powerful effect of hypnosis in a safe environment can perform wonders, change habits, and achieve your goals. Best thing is that before the start of the treatment you will define the goals and desires and together with Cathy Unruh chalk out treatment plan.

Have a look at the information rich site and see what all is on the offer. Better still take the step and recreate new you.
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Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - Punjab Heritage

Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka - The Toy Village - is the name of the village in Punjab, about which a lot has been written, about its unique and special concept, Thatta Kedona is the name under which the handicraft products of the village and institutions connected to it within and outside the country are marketed.

“Thatta Kedona” is quite different in nature as compared to other NGO's or similar institutions: Help and support is provided to the people within the countryside, because “if the villagers earn some money, they are not forced to move to the cities, which are already overburdened with many problems”.

The agricultural activity in the village is not sufficient and therefore it is necessary to provide opportunities for additional income in the villages. This can be done by promoting the traditional culture and its conversion into handicrafts. The approach must always be understood in its totality and implemented properly.
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Is Internet for rating girls?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
In case you've already forgotten the lessons of The Social Network, allow Boston University sophomore Justin Doody to jog your memory: the Internet exists to determine which girls are hottest.

According to the Washington Post's Campus Overload blog, Doody created RateBU.com after getting the idea from the Facebook movie — and, like, everything else ever. Doody's site acknowledges and celebrates its unoriginality — "Unique? Not really. Still fun? Absolutely!" — but he swears this version won't get anyone into legal trouble. Says this brave bringer-of-girl-rating-to-the-masses, "Everything on this site is user generated, I'm not adding any of these girls. I let the users do that, and then I just approve it or whatever. So I mean, all the photos on the site come from Facebook."

Read BU Student Reminds Us Internet Is For Rating Girls

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Dolls network

Proof of this is found in the escavations in South America, the Subcontinent, Japan, Italy, Greece, and other sites all over the world. Made out of sa number pof materials like wood, wax, clay, cloth etc., they were not only a toy but used also as religious symbols and cult items for example as miniaturized images of persons.

Even today they are used by many people as fetish. Today, the experts are not sure what was the first purpose of the dolls; as a toy, out of which the cult figure developed or the cult figure which became a toy.

Over and above their value as toys with educational value, dolls are realistic documentation of past and present times and therefore important source of our knowledge about the games, life, living and work conditions and economy. They are important cultural carriers.

Dr Senta Siller established different projects in Pakistan, Cameroun, Columbia, etc., in which small but long-term progress was made towards development of rural areas, help towards self-sustained development, discouragement of urbanization by way of income generating projects in the rural areas through production of certain types of handicraft items. Dolls are manufactured here lovingly and clothed in traditional dresses and accessories. Fabric design and types of clothing are revived and take an important place in daily life.

Dolls from Pakistan: The women project established by Dr Siller in 1993 in the pakistani province of Punjab, which has in the meanwhile also added a men centre, has 120 women members and it is generating income. The women here work not on full-time basis but in a traditional way so that family and field work is not compromised and festivals of different types, common in villages, can be celebrated as usual. The village Thatta Ghulamka Dhiroka has about 1200 residents. The villagers established the NGO Anjuman-e-Falah-e-Aama in 1991, which co-operates with the DGFK e.V. (German Society for Promotion of Culture). The Anjuman itself co-operates with six further projects in the country.

Dolls from Cameroun: Three co-operatives (Akwatinuighah, Akaankang, HandiCraft CAT) are functioning since 1998 in Bamenda, the capital of the North-West Provinz in Cameroun, which is located near the border to Nigeria. Also this NGO co-operates with the DGFK, Germany. Bamenda has about 60000 residents living on seven hills, who speak eight different languages. Apart from the men of CAT, over 100 women manufacture a variety of handicrafts.

Dolls from Columbia: The co-operative Tantomejor was established in 1999 in Saboya and it works in the meanwhile with three other initiatives. Saboya has about 6000 residents near Chiquinquira, the capital of Departemento Boyaca, north of Bogota. Also this NGO enjoys cooperation of the DGFK. Over 100 women are engaged in the manufacture of handicraft items.

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Make your own Christmas cards

How to make your own Christmas cards? Learn here.


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Social Media

Saturday, December 4, 2010
Use of social media applications is being debated across the World Wide Web. Fans support the usage of tools like Blog, tweet, Facebook to break down barriers between businesses, public servants and ordinary people to discuss ideas and gather feedback. Trend watches and analysts still see the social media tools as time wasting diversions. It is in this milieu that we need to look at the fast growing social media usage in our own, still low tech, corporate and public sectors.

Read Social Media in the Attention Age by S A J Shirazi


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Guests at Dolls Village

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Fine Art of Blogging

Friday, December 3, 2010
I am glad to learn that Logic is Variable has been named number eight in Best of Pakistan Blogsphere - Top Ten Blogs – 2010 list published at Light Within. Thanks for this recognition.

S A J Shirazi says, "for me, blogs are resources for my writings. More often, I blog informally, sharing impressions, generating ideas and seeing how they invoke reactions, keeping track of others’ work in fields of my interest, or simply ranting or pointing out things that come to my attention. Also, I use blogging as a platform to prune ideas. This is where I meet others and share thoughts."

In addition to many other interests, at Logic is Variable, Shirazi keeps a record of my articles that appear in print media.

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Acne ups suicidal thoughts in teens

Increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts among teenagers with severe pimples is because of the acne itself and not the used medications, a new study says.

Previous studies have reported that certain acne drugs including Accutane are linked with increased risk of mental health problems, particularly depression, and suicide in teens.

Being concerned about the potential links, many dermatologists do not prescribe acne medications to the sufferers.

According to the study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, having severe acne places teenagers at an increased risk of having suicidal thoughts and social problems. Having suicidal thoughts is an indicator of having emotional distress rather than being vulnerable to committing a suicide.

Compared with those with little or no acne, the risk of having suicidal ideas is three times higher in the affected boys and two times greater in girls with the condition, the study found.

“There is a pretty strong and consistent association between acne and symptoms of depression or mental health problems,” said lead researcher Jon Anders Halvorsen of Oslo University Hospital.


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Celebs boycott Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reports reveal that on a daily basis over 200 million users login into Facebook and over 35 million users update their Facebook status.

Yesterday, December 1, 2010 was different; celebrities turned the tables by going silent on the leading social media sites like, Facebook and Twitter.

This was not just another strategy aimed at drawing fans to follow their favorite celebrities’ posts and tweets; the project, Digital Life Sacrifice was organized by Alicia Keys on behalf of her charity Keep a Child Alive.

Associated Press reported that celebrities including: Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson and Serena Williams will silent their Facebook and Twitter accounts, until the World AIDS Day fundraiser strikes USD 1 million for charity.

To launch the campaign, participating celebrities have recorded their “last tweet and testament” video, which will be airing soon showing them lying in coffins to demonstrate their digital deaths and to spread the seriousness of the campaign.

In a phone interview in New York, Alicia Keys told news reporters, “It is essential and super-cool to use mediums that we naturally are on to help charities.” Keys currently has over 2.6 million followers on Twitter alone.

Keys further told news sources, “It is important to shock people to the point of waking up and it is not that people do not care, it is that people do not want to do something about it. It is like they have never thought of it quite like that and that is what they need to feel.”

Leigh Blake, President and Co-founder of Keep a Child Alive told Associated Press, “why do we care so much about the death of one celebrity as opposed to millions and millions of people dying in the place that we are all from? It is about the love, respect and human dignity.”

Blake added, “Lady Gaga may very well raise the funds all by herself.” Lady Gaga has 7.2 million followers on Twitter and almost 24 million fans on Facebook.

Moreover, Keys is hoping for more people to participate and is quite optimistic that the fundraiser might go beyond the set targets. Keys has invited all her fans to follow the trend, "it is just not for those who are celebrities, it can be anybody. As a human being, those dying deserve to have a chance at life.” [Via]


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Life after fifty

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Barbara Hannah Grufferman

Four years ago, I turned 50. It felt as though ­everything changed overnight.

In my 20s, 30s and 40s, I had charged ahead with life, first throwing myself into my career — I worked as a magazine publisher — and then, in my late 30s, meeting my ­husband, getting married and ­having children.

Those busy years — spent first at work and then at home looking after my two daughters when they were young — almost seemed like one long decade, during which I didn’t feel any different about how I looked or acted.

I never stopped to think about what impact the way I was living might have down the road.

Then, one day, I woke up and I was 50. Suddenly, I would catch myself in the mirror and start to notice my drying skin, my wrinkles, the way my hair looked. I felt aches and pains for the first time. I also began to gain weight.

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