Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell’s research finds that “there is an asymmetry in the way people compare themselves with others. We tend to look exclusively at those better off than us, rather than contemplate our position within the full range of outcomes. When the lot of others improves, we react negatively, but when our own lot improves, we shift our reference group to those who are still better off. In other words, we are never satisfied, since we quickly become accustomed to our own achievements. Perhaps that is what spurs people to earn more, and economies to grow.”
The more I live, the more people I meet, the more I see, experience and do, the more I question the idea of something or someone being ‘right’. Like many others around me, I was raised with a very rigid notion of what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and most of my years, I have spent evaluating options, situations and people on that scale. It was never a problem because I wasn’t opinionated about what others should and should not do for most part and my definitions of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ were just mine. And that was a good way of looking at it, until I realized that I could no longer pretend like I didn’t care about what the world around me was like, especially when I was ready to build relationships and friendships stronger than ever before.
I was however, challenged to rethink my ideals. Because by this time, I had met too many great, kind people who didn’t always fit into my definition of ‘right’. They were not doing everything ‘right’, but they were still pretty great people and those who I think were doing things ‘right’, seemed to have gotten it completely wrong. I am sure this doesn’t stand true for everyone, but it did for many of them.
I was left puzzled, and I re-evaluated what really mattered. May be the ideals we were brought up with (which might be great in theory) do not always govern the rules of life and we need to look at things for what they are. So, may be it makes more sense to be honest about us, than to be ‘right’ as this is what most of us had gotten wrong. We are so worried about being right, we forgot to be honest, real, kind and utilitarian. May be the rules were indeed made to be broken? Both in life and in our minds.
We’ve all seen some of google’s auto-completes on our screens and thought to ourselves, does google know me better than I know myself?!? Well, the auto-completes for ‘how much does a’ … ‘ cost’? have been put together and some of the results are hilarious, yet ironic. Here’s my favorite ones:
Russia – to fly a MIG?, Pakistan – weddings, Canada – passport, S. Korea – Rhinoplasty, Angola – Food, Mauritania – Slaves, UAE – Ferrari, Brazil – Prostitutes
In religion, in life, in love – we are taught that we are created with a soul mate out there and we spend years building ourselves, preparing us for when we can finally meet them and make a life together but I am starting to question what this ‘soul mate story’ means anymore.
Is it that we make a soul mate? Or are we just in our architecture a perfect fit? And if it were the later, why is it that all successful relationship are based on some sort of compromise, tolerance etc – and that stands true for every relationships, friendship, family and so on. We are not all the same, not even children in the same family, so it would only be fair to acknowledge that, cherish the similarities, respect the differences and find what makes people great together.
But here’s what I am think thinking…. Do we make soul mates or meet them?
Earlier this morning, in a conversation with my family about all the places we’d been to and explored in our lives, it dawned on me how much of our country we left unexplored. While there are places we’ve been to, there’s so much more out there. So, in that spirit, I thought I’d document my trip to Skardu, a few years ago. It is probably the most memorable trip I have taken in Pakistan.
We started our trip by reaching the Skardu airport, which is located between the hills in a valley, which makes the approach of the flight, not the most straight forward one. From there, we made our way to the Shangrila.
We had to travel through Balististan to get from Skardu to Shangrila resort. Baltistan is relatively urbanised with proper roads and shops, which means you can shop for some ethnic garnets, rubies and pashmina along the way but you’d find most other places don’t have the best roads and drive is a rather adventurous one. Having said that, it’s nothing new for the drivers there; so there’s not much to worry about.
Expect driving from over lakes and along the cliffs. It’s the closest you get to heaven in this world. At Shangrila resort you can enjoy a nice meal in a hut surrounded by water (I don’t remember the food being very exceptional though), in a valley between the mountains. Many people also choose to stay there for a few days.
Our next stop was Upper Kachura, where there are more lakes and nature waiting to be explored. The best thing about the place is that not many people come this far, so it is impeccably calm. Here at Upper Kachura, I saw the most beautiful lake in my life. The only comparison I could make with that water is of a mirror. Given the bitter cold weather (and the water) I didn’t dare take a swim, but the cold didn’t keep my father and brother from taking a dip. It’s a swim they will remember for life.
In this area, they say the fruit grows itself, they don’t have to plant seeds or irrigate the area. So, it is not a surprise that no one will stop you from just picking an apple, pear or apricot from the trees and enjoying the most juicy and sweet fruit ever. There’s lots of amazing dry fruit you could buy too.
A little drive away from Skardu, is the Shigar Fort. This was build back in the 17th century and has been restored and well-kept, thankfully. They have also converted some of the rooms into residences, where you could hire the room to experience royal life back in the days.
On our last few days in Skardu, we paid a visit to the Satpara dam, which was still under construction as that time. I am not quite sure what the situation is like anymore. But it was quite a drive and view.
By the end of the trip, we all had experienced nature like we had never before. But this only reminds of all the amazing places I haven’t explored yet, including Kaghan, Naran, Nanga Parbat, Kashmir – Perhaps, they should be next on my list?!
Earlier today, recommending restaurant to a colleague, I realized how long it has been since I reviewed one myself. So, here I am. This break does not in any way mean that I have not been eating out much. In fact I have discovered some really nice places to eat in Islamabad, while many still remain on my list. One of the amazing places I have been to lately is Smokin’ Joes.
It is an Italian restaurant in F10 with a really quirky and diner-ish vibe, yet classy. There are aquariums, fountains and really welcoming interior/ lighting. The funny thing is that we’ve been to this place three times now and it has not officially been launched as they are still finalizing the menu and dealing with some legal modalities, but they wouldn’t mind serving you nevertheless.
The food has been consistently pleasing. The lasagna and pasta Alfredo are probably the best in town. The lasagna has a crispy top layer, with a very cheesy and succulent layers underneath. The pasta has also impressed each time. Their grilled chicken cheese sandwich was quite nice too. If you like cheese and chicken, this is the place to be. They call themselves the ‘pizza & grill’ but sadly I didn’t find pizza up to the mark. It was neither thin crust nor a thick one. While it didn’t completely disappoint me, there are definitely better pizzas in town. When asked, we did recommend them to work on it; who knows they might improve it. Every time the service has been great, even at 1.30AM. One of my favorite things about the restaurant is that its open until 2.00AM, so it’s a great place for an untimely snack.
Earlier last week, stopping by for coffee at Butler’s made me want to move to Lahore (a little bit) because if I was there, it would be my happy place where I could go to just enjoy a good read and a cup of some great coffee. Luckily though, I get to go to Lahore every now and then.
Nevertheless, at Butler’s Chocolate Café I ordered the standard cappuccino, which was probably the best I have had in Pakistan, in terms of presentation and the taste. They serve the coffee with a truffle or chocolate of your choice, which makes it only better.
With the coffee, I had the nutty brownie, which was undoubtedly the most ‘well thought of’ brownie I have ever had with everything I love: milk & white chocolate, cranberries, hazelnuts and caramel.
Having had such an amazing experience at the café, I decided to take way some hazelnut praline which too was remarkable, so I really can’t complain about anything at all. I just wish I could go there more often, but it’s not so bad especially as I decided to avoid both coffee and chocolate for a healthier diet.