Logic is Variable

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Net Cafes

Internet cafes have played a visible role in promoting internet usage. It is a public place where people can use a computer with internet access for an affordable fee. Café may or may not serve as a conventional café. Besides internet connection, a number of cafes also provide other services such as printing, scanning, CD viewing and burning. Some even conduct internet training classes for beginners. The word is that some of the cafes around the world are being used for activities much beyond their scope.

Eva Pascoe, a PhD student while sitting in the coffee shop of London City University conceived and decided "to put a permanent PC connection in a coffee shop and link it to internet."
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 7:04 PM, , links to this post

Ucchali Lakes

This article appeared in daily the Nation

People try to hunt out the most alluring and the most fascinating places that they can find to visit. The thrill or idea of a place is what inspires curious and quirky travels further and deeper. Locale of twin villages Ucchali and Dhadhar is one such place for anyone who can be happy just being closer to the raw nature and it is off the beaten track.

To travel as a person interested in nature (as if there were other ways to travel) is to have regrets these days. Inevitably, most is already gone. But there are, of course, many such places out there. Only one has to find them. Three lakes near quaint villages Ucchali and Dhadhar are good examples. Complex of three lakes is recognised as International Ramsar Site (number 818). Hills in the background, grass and walking trails make the place attractive.

The lakes are picturesque with the foliage of different kinds of towering grasses, their meadows of floating lotus leaves, their myriads of waterfowl of diverse species. In seasons when lotus and grass come to bud, the lakes present an exquisite appearance, as the water surface along the shore and marshy patches are covered with an unbroken succession of flowers and leaves. I have travelled to, and through, many places but Ucchali Complex, as the three lakes are called, have something for, or do something to, me every time I am there. Everyone who visits this place can have the pleasure.

Tucked in the southern periphery of the Salt Range and hemmed in by its higher cliffs, cluster of natural lakes ? Ucchali, Khabbeki and Jhallar ? are situated in district Khushab. Biologists say that the lakes have been here for at least 400 years, maybe more. But the complex of lakes first came to prominence in 1966 when it was declared a protected sanctuary for the native and migratory avifauna on the appeal of World Wildlife Fund. Later, Ucchali Complex was designated for the list of wetlands of international importance in the Iranian port city Ramsar (from where the convention draws its name) when Pakistan became a contracting member to the convention held there in July 1976. Some other recognized Ramsar sites in Pakistan are Tenda Dam, Taunsa and Chishma Barages on Indus River, Drigh, Haleji, Kinjhar lakes and Thanedar Wala Game Reserve. All wetlands are active agents for recharging water tables and aquifers, besides being home to diverse bird populations.

Ucchali Lake Complex in the central Punjab is unique in many ways. Nestled at about 800 meters above the sea, lakes have some marsh vegetation and are mostly surrounded by cultivated land, which is picturesquely intersected by hillocks. The lakes are fed by the spring, seepage from adjacent areas, and run off from the neighbouring hills of the historic Salt Range. The water level and salinity fluctuate according to rainfall in the area and it varies at different times of the year, and year to year. The depth in the lakes also keeps changing and the water is usually saline. The number of birds present in Ucchali Complex also rises and falls widely from time to time, depending upon the water level and salinity. The lakes are one of the most important wintering areas for the rare white-headed ducks (Oxyura leucocephala) in Pakistan that comes here from Central Asia.

Marsh vegetation is confined to small patches along the lake shores. There is a very rich growth of grass (called plankton) in the marsh. The natural vegetation of the region is a mixture of subtropical semi evergreen forest and tropical thorn forest. Even the grass looks magical when it comes into flowers. The golden colour Salt Range in the backdrop also wears a greener look in the spring and rainy seasons. On the southern side, vast stretches of vegetation in the plains are lined everywhere with avenues of trees. The lakes provide good opportunities for scientific research, nature oriented travel, walking and bird watching.

Walking the area is very refreshing. The only company you might have en route is squirrels, rabbits or butterflies. The public sector orchard near the complex is another restful spot where one can sample off-season fruits of several varieties. The area also makes one of the finest rendezvous for watching birds. The most prominent presence is diving birds that hover over the lakes ready to dive the moment they spot the catch in water. Winged creatures that have arresting tonal contrasts also catch the eye and attention.

On one visit to the Ucchali Complex, I was accompanying a high profile group of wetland experts. They talked in jargon-loaded language ? even the name of local birds and trees did not seem familiar to me.

Experiencing ennui in their company, I took a chance to talk to the locals and picked up ideas in the process instead. I learnt many interesting stories: In 1982, a strange phenomenon was observed in the villages Ucchali and Dhadhar. A very broad and distinct rainbow appeared over the horizon of Ucchali Lakes Complex that was seen continuously for 15 days. No scientific explanation of this has been given so far, but the locals think that the rainbow appeared because of a volcano hidden under the three lakes located near the villages. I kept looking at the sky and it looked clearer and cleaner. They also tell that the water of these lakes keeps changing colours due to the volcano. Also, the lakes? water is considered as a cure for gout and skin diseases. People have been taking the water from the lakes as far as Lahore and Karachi. People think that a pure white winged creature called Great egret, from Grus family, found in the area is a symbol of longevity.

The ancestors of Qutab Shahi Awans, who migrated from Afghanistan many centuries ago, inhabited Ucchali and Dhadhar villages among many others in the Soan Valley where they live in peace using old agricultural methods. The hospitable folks of the area can be recognized by their long shirts and sandals they wear and the loving dialect they speak. There are no facilities in the area, but of course you can rely on Awans? hospitality.

So far, only geologists or NGOs interested in ecology venture on the Ucchali Complex. The main reason why not many people know of the place or have traveled to the Ucchali Complex is lack of information. And the public sector tourism departments do not seem keen to help even in providing information about the serene place that?s particularly interesting for nature lovers or bird enthusiasts. I have not seen the mention of this location in any touristy literature. Residents of the area do not seem interested in research-oriented activities because it does not involve them or have any return for them. They wish that the lakes should be developed as a recreation spot like Kallar Kahar, as it was before the completion of the motorway. It is wise now that the Kallar Kahar Lake is turning into a typical buss adda (stop) due to the proximity of the interchange on the motorway near the Lake.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:30 AM, , links to this post

Those who make Thatta Kedona possible

Related: Thatta Kedona volunteers, Thatta Kedona Dolls, Thatta Kedona Toys, Thatta Kedona Images, Dr. Norbert Pintsch, Dr. Senta Siller, Sale Points


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:00 AM, , links to this post

Preservation of cultural heritage

The Mud Housing Project is being currently implemented by SPARC in Lahore.

SPARC had taken up the initiative years ago in order to remind of the importance of mud as construction material and to sensitize the general public in this respect.

Mud is not a construction material of the past; that steel concrete and bricks have pushed back such good construction material is a story in itself. Considering the enormous costs of cooling and heating the current form of buildings, it becomes quite clear that mud is environmentally friendly, energy efficient and biologically far superior.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:22 AM, , links to this post

How nations look at their women?

Societies pride in different strengths: Some give importance to bravery, some to democracy, and some nations think that freedom of expressions, development and or education are the hallmarks for their long-term sustenance. “The nations should be judged on how they look at their women,” writes Abbas Khan, the author of Urdu novel Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada, his eleventh, that I have had the chance to read.

There is a famous saying that every thing in fiction is true except dates. But in the novel written by Abbas Khan even dates are true because he has based his novel in the back ground of five very famous women in the history: Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Quratul Ain Tahira (Iran), Mughal Princess Noor Jehan and Umrao Jan Ada.

Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus and Leda and wife of Menelaus, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris caused the Trojan War and made thousand ships drown.

Cleopatra (actually Cleopatra VII) was the last of the Ptolemies, the Macedonian-descended pharaohs who ruled Egypt beginning in 304 B.C. Cleopatra has come down through history less for her administrative skills than for her beguiling ways, which she used in an attempt to keep Egypt free from Roman domination. Among those whom she charmed was Julius Caesar, with whom she had a son, Caesarion. After Caesar’s death, Cleopatra joined forces with Caesar’s colleague Marc Antony; they became lovers and political allies against Antony’s rival Octavian. Octavian’s forces finally defeated those of Antony and Cleopatra in the naval battle of Actium in 31 B.C. The two lovers fled to Alexandria and, faced with defeat by Octavian, committed suicide. Legend has it that Cleopatra died by the self-inflicted bite of a poisonous snake called an asp, though no firm evidence exists to support that claim.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:43 AM, , links to this post

My Cup of Tea

Pakistan is one of the best travel destinations in the world – desert expanses in Thar and Cholistan, Lush green plains in Punjab, mighty mountains in Northern Pakistan, Chitral and Swat, so many unexplored and just to yourself places, what else. Start of some of the world history can still be traced down to Pakistan – Indus Civilization. Moreover, Pakistan being one of the cheapest countries in the world is best for budget travelers. Which is why it is said that Pakistan has a lot to offer to every one; not only to travelers, hard core adventurers, mountaineers, and rural tourists, vacationers but also to anthropologists, archeologists, and researchers? (Also for those who want to sit back and enjoy the ride from the comfort of home). Read about my travel experiences at  Doodh Patti - My Cup of Tea.


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:28 AM, , links to this post

Crimes and Criminals

This articles appeared in the daily the Nation.

Violent crimes have been at historic up nationwide; they are rising sharply in all cities. The rise seems to have been set off by something more bewildering.

Imagine Lahore only ten years ago: It was a different city; socially cohesive, closely knit. Young children could go visiting neighbors or to nearby shopping centers to get groceries and other things but not now. People then knew each other personally and had strong social bounds; hence courtesies for each other.

Things started changing with an exponential increase in urbanization. Large number of outsiders started moving in Lahore to live and or work. Now even the immediate neighbors do not know each other and people act like total strangers. Garish housing societies have come up on all the open spaces inside the city and Lahore has expanded much beyond what used to be municipal boundaries. The crime rate has grown with mush faster speed than the city.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:05 AM, , links to this post

A self help project in Punjab

Related: Thatta Kedona volunteers, Thatta Kedona Dolls, Thatta Kedona Toys, Thatta Kedona Images, Dr. Norbert Pintsch, Dr. Senta Siller, Sale Points


posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:16 AM, , links to this post


My Abode

I don’t live in hell of this world.
Then where you live?
In my thoughts.

Approach to acceptance

No doubt you love the girl but she doesn’t listen to anyone. How did you succeed in winning her over?
I asked her to hate me, treat me real bad instead.
Because she has destroyed me; made me worthless. All the time I keep thinking of  dreaming about her. I want to get rid of this miserable condition I am in. I have so much to do in life. May be I will get back to normal if she behaves badly with me.
Did she do accept your request?
No. She accepted me instead.

Net result

No one comes to my rescue in sadness, hopelessness. Assurance by religion, society, family and friends, strength of the wealth, countless mediums of attractions all fail.
What happens to you then?
Sadness, hopelessness pass by thinking this person is totally powerless.

Short stories from Sitaroon Ki Bastiyan by Abbas Khan

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:00 AM, , links to this post

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