Lets be honest..


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.

What’s google thinking about you?


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

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Exploring Skardu, Pakistan


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.

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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.

Shangrila Resort

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.

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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.

Upper Kachura

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.

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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.

Shigar Fort

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.

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Satpara Dam

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?!

Beyond the Stereotype


Today, on my way back from dinner I had to pick up a tailoring job from a store and like usual it didn’t take more than a minute. But in this minute, I was forced to stop and think about stereotypes and the desperate need to break out of them.

When I entered the store, my pack was ready at the counter and I went straight for it as the shopkeeper handed it to me. In the queue although were a few European and Korean (looking) guys, waiting for their turn, so while I grabbed my pack I said ‘excuse me, sorry!’, exactly what I would have done if I were back in the UK, but instead of the suspicious stare I got from that group of guys in Pakistan, I would have probably just gotten way. I realised in that moment, that our behaviour (many a times) is not based on what the situation is, but on the pre-assumptions that we bring into that situation about each other and the situation itself.

I could also relate this stare to something which we do to people from our own cultures too. Sadly, you get to see a lot of that here as the inequality is enormous – It is when the more educated, sophisticated people judge the individuals from the lesser well off backgrounds. This got me thinking about the true solution to the problem is to truly and really accept the diversity within human beings and stop judging them based on their backgrounds, colour or ethnicity. Living in one of the most multicultural societies in the world, importance of tolerance is clear in London, where we know that only if someone looks brown, black or white, they wouldn’t necessarily be cultured a certain way or live a certain lifestyle. But I wish we could take that thinking with us everywhere – so that in every relationship, in every situation we’d start with an empty slate, with no pre-assumptions and stereotypes, so we’d really see things for what they are and know people for who they really are.

I think, one understands the true meaning of diversity when they see someone who they assume to be exactly like them, with similar backgrounds but they happen to have completely different ideas of what life is all about and different values and habits. I think that shakes us more than when we see someone from a different culture, doing things similar to us.

What I am trying to say is, whether a person is from your own or another race, you never know what hides under that skin and flesh – and I think we’re all worth that fair chance of showing each other who we really are and what we really stand for because beyond that stereotype is a whole different; and similar person in each one of us!

London Food Scene: Jimmy’s Grill, O2


There’s lots of amazing and unique places to eat in London but if I had to think about great buffets around, there might not be as many contenders for that. Although, I wouldn’t think twice about the best buffet experience, with great value for money in town – Jimmy’s World Grill.

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I say ‘best’, because every single item tastes great and they have amazing range of mocktails to go with it.

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They also have live stations for pasta, fajitas, naans and ice cream, which make dining a bit more fun. These stations allow you to pick and choose your ingredients, while the chefs work their magic infront of you.

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For chocolate lovers, there is also a chocolate fountain! Their fish pakoray, pasta and Chinese curries are my favourites. And their strawberry and peach mocktails are always on point.

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The prices range between £15-£20 for food and drink. [Halal food is served]

London in a Day


Earlier in my blog, I wrote about tourist-ing Zurich and Amsterdam is a day and as I come close to saying my good-bye, I am recording some of my favourite things to do in and about London. While I think it is impossible to see everything London has to offer in a day, I think it is possible to get a good glimpse of what the city is all about and here is a mini-itinerary if I had to see London in a day (this blog has also been inspired by tens of trips I have taken to show my visiting friends around London):

Emirates Airlines at the North Greenwich O2

There is a cable car which takes you from North Greenwich O2 to Canning Town and back in about 10ish minutes across the Thames River, giving you amazing views of the city – which I am guess you could also witness in the London Eye but at a much higher price. Also, it takes ages for the London Eye to go around and it could get boring and time consuming. On the contrary the cable car gives you a glimpse of the London’s bird’s eye view while making it time and budget efficient.

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Experience the City Life in Canary Wharf

Many tourists forget that London is not only special because of its Royal palaces and traditions but also because it is one of the world’s major business hubs. Canary Wharf is the Wall Street of the UK – only that it is much prettier and nicer to walk through. Walking in the Canary Wharf you ‘d not only see Bugattis, suits and tall buildings which make the London sky line one of best in the world, but you will also have the chance to shop, sit by the fountains, relax at a bar by the riverside or even go to the cinema. I think it is a must see for all tourists.

Enjoy a drink with the view of St. Paul’s Cathedral in One New Change

I am all about the beautiful views and amazing food and aren’t we all? I think one of the best views which is yet to be explored by mainstream tourists is the one of St. Pauls Cathedral from the One New Change. You can shop in the mall and drop by at the Madison’s Rooftop Bar to enjoy a drink with this stunning view. There is also Caffe Concerto which has amazing desserts, and other restaurants.

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Shop at Harrods, Knightsbridge

Harrods is one of a kind. It is a shopping mall which has got the culture and class. While you will only find the most obnoxiously expensive brands in the mall, you have got to expensive the customer service, environment and just the shops themselves. And if you like sweets or are buying them for anyone, go all the way to their top floor where you can find a jelly beans stations. Here you can choose the flavours you wish to buy. I find it pretty cool!

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Dinner Leicester Square -> Walk to Piccadilly Circus

Well known for all the right reasons are the Leicester and Piccadilly Circus, not a long walk away from each other. I think of Piccadilly Circus as the mini-Times Square and it has some tourist attractions one could visit as well. And Leicester Square has the M&Ms chocolate heaven and plenty of restaurants, cafes, dessert lounges and clubs. You could drop by to eat or just look around. Some of my favourite restaurants in London can be found here.

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If you still have time, take a walk along the South Bank and enjoy the stunning views of the London Bridge and River Thames, which are beautiful by the night.

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Having said this I think London attractions are a great way to explore the culture and enjoy yourselves, but all of these require lots of time which is why I have included bits and bobs which are my favourite about this city, less touristy and yet they entail a fair bit of what this amazing city is all about.

London Food Scene: Godiva Café, Harrods


We went to Godiva Café when I was in Harrods with my friends to get some shopping done. The ambience and service, to no surprise, is great. There is some great selection of chocolate and chocolate drinks/ desserts to choose from. There is also coffee and tarts on the menu.

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We tried their almond cake and mocha. Both of the items were very rich in chocolate content, which was very high quality and it tasted great. Although, even if it may not look the biggest, the portion of dessert really does fill you up and one person cannot finish a whole portion. In our case, us three friends split one, which too we struggled to finish, even though it tasted great the chocolate rich dessert did make it a heavy one.

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You can expect to pay £25 for drink and dessert.