Stories about inspiration

A letter to Muniba Mazari, my inspiration

Dear Muniba Mazari, You don’t know me like you don’t know the other hundreds of people who you inspire every day. I am Amna Raheel, a 25-year-old, differently-abled girl living in Karachi. I’ve always wondered how many fan messages you get every day and if you respond to them personally. I don’t know if you’ll reply to my letter and to what I have to say because you probably have heard it a million times already. But I’m going to say it anyway. There are people in your life who guide you and instil certain beliefs that you carry through life, even though you’ve never met them. For me, you’re ...

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It’s okay to be a failure

Two years ago I had a breakthrough in life; I failed my finals. It was my first experience of failing in a major way; and my teachers and peers were not helpful. They would judge me and taunt me, and at times, pity me as well. But I was never the loser, ever. How did I, being an exemplary student all my life, fail the exams and become the lowest of the low? Nobody had even taught me how to handle a situation like this. I was left broken, and since I did not know what to do, it disturbed further two ...

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Should we have a role model?

Hussain Haqqani had just finished his talk at the University of Boston auditorium and was surrounded by a horde of star-struck students. He was somewhat of a celebrity professor there, famed for his eloquence and sound argumentation, and was sorely missed after having gone on a sabbatical, of unspecified duration, due to his new duties as the ambassador of Pakistan in DC. With a train of excited students behind him, he announced that they shall all have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Seated in front of him at the end of a long rectangular table, I was among the three ...

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I rise, I am the dream and the hope of the slave – Maya Angelou

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou A great soul has left us. Everyone is saddened by the passing of one of the most celebrated poet, writer, teacher, artist, dancer, director and civil rights activist, Dr Maya Angelou, who died on May 28, 2014, at the age of 86. People will never forget how Angelou made them feel. Poet, critic and scholar Joanne M Braxton remembers her as “America’s most visible black female auto biographer”. To me, when I think of Angelou ...

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He helped me in so many ways and he didn’t even know it

Like all Karachiites, I love indulging in our local delights – bun kebabs, milk shakes and the famous Tutti Frutti ice cream have all been my childhood favourites. Every birthday, I remember begging my dad to take me to Sindhi Muslim so I could binge on all my favourite foods. I still remember sitting in the back seat with mom and dad sitting upfront, enjoying a plate of scrumptious bun kebabs, when I noticed a physically challenged man manoeuvring through the crowd with a tower of tissue boxes in his arms. He didn’t beg anyone to buy one, instead he would ...

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Paul Smith shoes and cultural appropriation

Paul Smith has come up with a fabulous new design for shoes, check them out. They call them the ‘Robert Sandals’ and you can buy them here online for GBP 300. Source: Paul Smith website Except oops, wait a second, this isn’t an original design by Paul Smith! They are in fact Peshawari chappals (slippers) that have been made and sold in Pakistan for the last, oh, 200 years? Here is a fine example of the Peshawari chappal from Zalmay, a Peshawar shoe store. They make these shoes to sell abroad, given the price in GBP, 27 pounds. Zalmay doesn’t have a monopoly on this design ...

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137th birthday: What Allama Iqbal’s poetry has taught me so far

“Maqsood-e-hunar soz-e-hayat-e-abdi hai Ye ik nafas ya do nafas, misl-e-sharar kia” -Iqbal (The real aim of any form of art should be to develop the longing for an ultimate life. It’s not art if all it does is to spark the feelings for a moment or two and then subside – Iqbal) Iqbal’s poetry, beyond doubt, goes in line with the above definition of art (hunar). Though I am just beginning to discover Iqbal myself, it is indisputable that his poetry has proven to be a truly transforming force. Some of his verses had an unprecedented and enlightening impact on me, helping me become ...

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Learn from Mad Men’s Don Draper

Don Draper of AMC’s hit TV show Mad Men is said to be one of the most influential and charismatic characters on television. I too am a big fan. Not only do I find him exceptionally good looking, but he has given me a philosophy which many have been unable to convey. In fact, this philosophy pertains to all of us, to everyone out there who is trying to find the purpose of life. Perhaps this is why so many of us are influenced by him – because we can relate to him. He is a fragment of ourselves; an amalgamation of who we ...

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The smiling gardener

The house is the same but he’s not here. Why then is it that everywhere I turn, I feel his presence? The garden he worked so hard on day after day, month after month, blooms but his corner is empty. No music blasting from among the flower beds, no hoeing of loose earth, no planting of flower buds, no watering of plants, no clearing away of rubbish, no crackling of leaves burning. The garden looks gorgeous, a testament to the hard work of the smiling gardener who tended it with so much dedication. He was like mercury- here, there, everywhere. Happiness ...

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The man who cycled to Pakistan because his heart told him to do so

Florian, a 26-year-old German cyclist stayed at my house before he left for his expedition around Islamabad. In the few hours he spent here, he was able to inspire me with his will to be free; through his life’s story, he gave me an alternate way to look at my own life.  “I left my job to pursue something that keeps me happy,” he said simply. This made me look back at my life and made me question the purpose of my existence. I thought to myself, why am I so satisfied within my comfort zone? Why do I need to have a plan ...

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