Category Archives: Random

A conversation at the barber’s shop

Two Karachiites in conversation with each other at a barber’s shop while they wait for their turns:

First guy:              This ‘gormint’ is as useless as a punctured stepney.  I mean look at what just 2 days of rain has done to the city!

Second guy:       Mmmmm…. (Maintains his attention on skimming through images on the showbiz page of a newspaper without caring too much about the date of the paper)

First guy:              You know how difficult it was to just reach here from my place? It was like laboring my way through a swamp. Disgusting!!!

Second guy:       (Pulls his head out of the newspaper almost involuntarily) But you had to come here, didn’t you?

First guy:              Of course! What else could I have done at home? I was getting bored. The electricity’s playing hide and seek since the day the first drop of rain fell on those fragile electricity wires in our area. All thanks to our ‘gormint’.

Second guy:       So, basically you had nothing to do & you thought it would be a good idea to step out for a while and visit the barber’s? (Puts the newspaper away and turns his attention completely towards the first guy)

First guy:              (Affably) Yes!

Second guy:       And you ‘labored’ your way through the ‘swamp’ to reach here just because you were getting bored?

First guy:              (With the same zeal) Yes! And because I knew there would be electricity here.

Second guy:         How did you know there would be electricity here?

First guy:              Well, they have a different PMT for this area. I hook up the ‘kunda’ for my place from this very line. (Looks at the barber and winks at him with a smirk)

Second guy:         (Confused) So you didn’t hook up your ‘kunda’ today?

First guy:              Of course I did. But my cable operator doesn’t do that. So, I couldn’t watch TV.

Second guy:       Right! So, don’t you think the electricity crisis in the city may also have something to do with the ‘kunda’ culture that we have. I mean they do announce that areas with electricity theft and low recovery will experience load shedding.

First guy:              That’s all bullshit! How is my ‘kunda’ theft?

Second guy:         (Baffled) How is it not?

First guy:              It is theft when no one pays for the electricity I consume, right?

Second guy:          (Keenly) Yes…

First guy:              Well, I’m already over-charged for the units I consume legally. They can deduct the amount for the units I consume through my ‘kunda’ from there. The day they stop looting the consumers, all problems will be solved.

Second guy:         So, it is there fault completely?

First guy:              It sure is. The whole ‘Gormint’ is at fault. They can manage nothing properly. They’re just interested in getting their pockets filled. I mean, just look at these guys from the building control authority for instance.

Second guy:        What about them?

First guy:              I built an extra floor at my place and the day the whole floor got completed, they came over with their team to demolish it. They claimed that it was illegal.

Second guy:          Was it?

First guy:               So what if it was! I gave them what they wanted when I got the layout approved for it.

Second guy:          So you knew it was illegal and you still went ahead with it?

First guy:              That’s not the problem. The problem is that they knew what was happening all along and yet they didn’t say a word until it was all complete. They knew I had nowhere to go after that. Bloody blackmailers!

Second guy:          So, the problem lies with them, you say?

First guy:              Oh! So what do YOU think? It’s my fault?

Second guy:       (Retreating) Oh no! Why would I think that? Why would I possibly think that?

First guy:              See! They have crooks in disguise of ‘gormint’ officials. They can’t swallow the fact that someone can earn a little from their own assets.

Second guy:        Earn?

First guy:             Yeah! Someone must have tipped them off about me.

Second guy:       Tipped them off about you… building the extra floor?

First guy:             No, about me selling off portions of my house.

Second guy:       (Takes a look at the grinning barber who was busy clipping off another customer’s hair) Oh, boy! You sold off portions of your house. How many?

First guy:              I made 6 portions- sold 5 of them. Had to keep one for myself too, u know. (Chuckles)

Second guy:       So, you made 6 portions in a 120 sq. yard house and sold 5 of them. Impressive!

First guy:             (With excitement that had arrogance written all over it) Isn’t it? I can get you in touch with the contractor who did it. The guy can make Burj Khalifa over an Eighty Sq. Yard plot.

Second guy:       (As if he had heard enough) No, thanks. I’m good.  I think I should leave now. I will probably come back some other time for the haircut. (Stands up and puts his hand on the barber’s shoulder to indicate that he’s leaving)

First guy:            There’s a marsh outside waiting for you, remember? A gift from the local authorities to the citizens of the ‘CITY OF LIGHTS’. A blend of rain and sewerage water. They can’t even clear the gutters of this city efficiently, for God’s sake!

Second guy:       (Turns around to the first guy with a look of annoyance this time) That’s probably because the gutters are working overtime already with people like you illegally building and selling off portions to settle multiple families in accommodations that should ideally house a single household. A sewerage line installed to cater a single family is being flooded with excessive waste on a permanent basis. But hey! That’s not your mistake either, is it?

First guy:            (Pretentiously surprised) You mean it is???

Second guy:       (Frustrated) Oh no! It is all the government’s fault. All of it! Just that everyone sitting in those government offices and helm of affairs are a reflection of who we are. You, and me, and everyone around us. The ones accepting bribes are as at fault as the ones offering it. People who are not doing their jobs properly of enforcing law are as at fault as those who are breaking it. I’m literally fed up with people whining all the time about everything being everybody else’s responsibility while they sit back and be a part of the very corrupt system they complain about.

First guy:            (As calm as a millpond) Take it easy, ‘Imran Khan’! Have a glass of water. Or should I order you a cold drink? You’re next in line for the haircut and if I had to swim back home through a swamp, I’d do it with a nice clean haircut. Especially after I’d waited for it for quite some time. (Looks around at the other men waiting for their turns with the most brazen of giggles)

Second guy:       (Sarcastic) Don’t worry about me. I’ll order a boat.

First guy:            Fine, suit yourself! They’ve got Peak Factors on these days on boats too, by the way! (Bursts into laughter as the second guy storms out of the barber’s shop)

 

Hammad A. Mateen

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If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t

Think about your father, your brother, your son, your sister, your mother, your daughter, your grandchild, your uncle, your aunt, or any of the most closest relations that you may possibly have and consider close. Picture all of them in your mind with all the nicest memories you have of them till now. Recall all the moments where they’ve been there to comfort you- even if comforting meant to only have the knowledge that they’re there for you.

Say your brother’s name once… Now your sister’s name… Now your child’s.

What was the last thing you said to your brother? What did you tell your son when you saw him last? Come on! Try recalling. Even if it was minutes ago.

Now imagine if I tell you that all these loved ones of yours just passed away in an accident or an act of terror that just lasted for a few seconds. Yes! You no longer have your father, brothers, mother, wife, daughter or son. You’ve lost all of them together.

Now say all those names again and tell yourself that they are DEAD. Never to be seen walking around the house, talking to you, laughing with you, crying with you, teasing you, or comforting you ever again.

This is how it is to the surivors of those who pass away in incidents where the news goes like: “5 members of the same family killed in the incident.” News that hardly means anything to us as we casually move on to the next news item without feeling the slightest of compassion for the deceased or their survivors. Forget about compassion, we’re probably not even consciously thankful to God that it wasn’t us in their place.

We’ve belittled the value of human life in our minds so much that we only consider ourselves and those whom we consider our own as humans. We’re comfortable in leaving it to God to take care of the rest of mankind but that too after God takes care of us in a manner that we deem fit.

A few years back, a friend’s cousin met with a road accident and required blood urgently. Upon receiving the message from that friend of mine I quickly spread the word in my circle of influence in order to make an attempt to arrange the required blood type quickly. A mutual friend of ours texted me back asking who the blood was required for. When I gave him the details he was very quick to respond in a manner that boiled my own blood quite instantly. He highlighted the fact that our friend (and therefore his cousin by that connection) belonged to a different sect. He also questioned me whether I was sure about asking people to donate blood for someone from another background.

I was flabbergasted at his response to say the least. All I could come up with in response to this was a simple question: What would you do if you find someone bleeding on the road requiring urgent medical attention? Would you take him to the hospital immediately or run a background check first confirming which religion, sect or group the person belongs to before deciding your next course of action?

Although his response was far less offensive to my surprise but since that day every time I recall the same question, I end up questioning myself for asking that question in the first place. I mean, let’s be honest here with ourselves. How many of us would even stop at the sight of a bleeding person on the road? Not many. Fortunately enough, the time hasn’t come yet when I could sadly yet confidently state ‘none of us’ in response to this very difficult question. But still, the continuously deteriorating situation is not something to write home about as far as compassion is concerned in our society.

Why does it have to take someone who is our own to make us feel the pain? Why has empathy been reduced to merely a topic that corporate trainers & motivational speakers charge huge sums to lecture about in workshops & training sessions? Why does blood have to be treated as blood only when it comes out of us?

All lives have to end one day. Some later than others. If you are reading this, you’re lucky to be not one of those who aren’t. Not because they don’t like reading what I write, but because they’re simply not alive anymore to do so.

Value life, and not just yours but every other human being alive. For every man and woman no matter what religion, sect, caste, group or ethnicity they belong to, and no matter how irrelevant they may be to you, they are someone’s own. Just like your parents, siblings, spouse or any other loved one, the mere thought of whose separation till the life hereafter absolutely sends shivers down your spine.

Hammad A. Mateen

Rationality- a facade

Rationality is such a facade- a getaway that is as equal in magnitude as fantasy. The desire to be pragmatic is as incomprehensible as the yearning to achieve something ideal. Who defines rationality? Isn’t it defined by the very set of people who reject it under different circumstances. Why is a revolutionist always an idealist and why are the followers always ordinarily rational afterwards?

Photo Courtesy: https://ak8.picdn.net

Why is there always light at the end of the tunnel? Why do we always crave for light? Is it because it opens our eyes to what’s in front of us? If so, then why do we fall? Why is darkness not hope for the ordinary to achieve something new? Is it because we are afraid? Afraid of ourselves of coming across something in the dark that may feel like our own yet it may not turn out to be something acceptable to those outside in the light. Why is ‘normal’ normal? Who decides what brings us out of our misery? Who decides if misery is misery?

Evolution is inevitable. But is evolution really moving forward? What if it’s merely travelling back in time? Why do we make mistakes when everything that happens has happened before and that too countless times with countless people, many of whom live to tell the tale and warn those who come after them?

Is reality a fantasy- or is it the other way round? Bleak memories of our past surround us like wolves that threaten to tear us apart with the slightest movement of our muscles. Yet we know we have to keep moving. Growls of these wolves keep frightening our souls as our bodies sleep dead and wake up alive every passing night and day hoping for a future that is placid and free from all worries- a fantasy that we choose to pursue in a rational world.

How naive is man!

Hammad A. Mateen

Xiaomi brings Redmi 4X to Pakistan in partnership with Smartlink Technologies

With the launch of Redmi 4X, Xiaomi demonstrates its commitment to the market

One of the world’s leading technology company Xiaomi launches Redmi 4X in Pakistan on Saturday through distribution partner SmartLink Technology. The launch event took place in Lahore on Friday and was hosted by none other than the witty Taimur Salahuddin AKA Mooroo.

Audiences were provided double dose of entertainment with the hilarious jokes of Mooroo and scintillating performances by Pakistan’s leading band Noori and Nescafe Basement band with Altamash Sarver who made audiences dance to their favourite tracks. The stunning Mira Sethi also made a special guest appearance who was all praises for the newly launched Smartphone, equipped with the latest technology in an affordable price.

Smartlink Technologies Marketing Director Ahmed Butt was quoted as saying, “Majority of the Pakistani consumers prefer to purchase smartphones remaining in this price bracket and thus this bracket has always remained a key market for all brands. We have confidence that Redmi 4X will be a hit within its own price bracket, as the smartphone surely outperforms its competition in the market.”

Ahmed-Butt-Smartlinks Technologies

Redmi 4X

Redmi 4X features a full metal body, is the slimmest in design at just 8.65mm of thickness and weighs a mere 150g. Equipped with a 4100mAh battery, Redmi 4X has an impressive standby time of up to 18 days! Bid those dying battery issues adieu! It will be available with a 3GB RAM and 32GB storage, so users can multi-task more efficiently, having more space for their downloaded applications and images. Redmi 4X will be available in the markets from Saturday in black a price of Rs 18,900.

Redmi4X launch

The smartphones will be available offline across the country and online at official mistore.pk and at authorised online sales agents including Daraz.pk and Yayvo.com.

Every Redmi 4X will ship with MIUI 8 which builds in several technology breakthroughs such as being able to clone apps and manage multiple accounts on the same phone. This means that users can have two instances of a messaging app on the same phone that correspond to different accounts, removing the inconvenience of having to log in and out on the same app. With MIUI 8, users can also split their smartphones into two accounts. This means that a different password or fingerprint can allow you to access a different home screen entirely, with independent apps and data. According to their needs, users can choose to merge certain data such as the address book and their call log history.

Key features of Redmi 4X:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 with (Octa-core 1.4GHz)
  • 4100mAh battery
  • 13MP camera with PDAF; 5MP front camera
  • 5-inch HD display
  • Dual SIM (3-choose-2 hybrid SIM tray)
  • LTE support
  • 3GB RAM + 32GB Flash
  • Up to 128GB microSD expandable storage
  • Rear fingerprint sensor
  • Available in Black

About Xiaomi

Xiaomi was founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Lei Jun based on the vision “innovation for everyone”. We believe that high-quality products built with cutting edge technology should be made accessible to everyone. We create remarkable hardware, software, and internet services for and with the help of our Mi fans. We incorporate their feedback into our product range, which currently includes Mi and Redmi smartphones, Mi TVs and set-top boxes, Mi routers, and Mi Ecosystem products including smart home products, wearables and other accessories. With more than 70 million handsets sold in 2015, Xiaomi is expanding its footprint across the world to become a global brand.

About Smartlink Technologies

Established in 2016, Smartlink Technologies is a brainchild of a pool of professionals whose strong vision and even stronger conviction paved the way for an exclusive partnership with Xiaomi. We believe in reaching out to both the low-end and the high-end consumers and still give out state-of-the-art and warranted products at the best possible prices. We live in an age where the digital world meanders from smartphones to smart everything – we see it all around us. Smartlink Technologies strives to connect latest technology with modern and innovative sales techniques to change not only how brands are marketed but also how they define themselves.

‘Sangbaaz’: a tribute to the 3rd uprising- Intifada of the East

The freedom movement in Indian-held Kashmir rejuvenated from the martyrdom of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last year. Wani’s blood proved to serve as fuel to the spark of a new wave of resistance from the Kashmiri youth in the face of Indian atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir.  2017 marks the 70th year of Indian oppression over a valley, people of which drape the coffins of their martyrs with Pakistani flags and chant slogans like ‘Kashmir baneyga Pakistan!’ during funeral processions.

kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir, which has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan continues to be denied the right of its people to decide about their fate by ‘the barbarous’ India. By attempting to savagely suppress the freedom movement of Kashmiri people, India is not only quite heinously violating human rights in the valley, but is also pretty shamelessly not complying to the UN Security Council Resolution on Kashmir which ironically came as a result of the case being taken to the United Nations by no one else but India itself.

People of Pakistan continue their support for their brothers and sisters in Kashmir in their struggle for freedom. 5th February each year reminds the world of this support through ‘Kashmir Day’. This year, Inter-Services Public Relations released Sangbaaz (The Stone Pelters)- a tribute to the valiant struggle of the youth of Jammu & Kashmir. The song highlights the inhuman methods (such as use of pellet guns) used by Indian forces in the valley to crush the freedom movement and the unending resilience of the men, women and children of Jammu & Kashmir.

Pakistanis across the world observe Kashmir Day today in order to announce to the world that no matter what happens, the people of Pakistan will not cease to show solidarity with their Kashmiri brothers and sisters and will keep pushing the international community to wake up from their slumber and give the Kashmiri people their right of self-determination.

Cheen le aankhein mujhse… Khwaab tu kaisay cheenayga?

Hammad A. Mateen

Junaid Jamshed: From Rock star to Rehemahullah

I was never a die-hard Vital Signs’ fan, I was more of a ‘Junooni’, always trying to imitate Ali Azmat’s flair and style of singing. I don’t have a cognizant memory for the reason of my admiration for ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ like many others who were born in the mid or late 80’s. All I remember is that the first patriotic song that came to any Pakistani’s mind in those days was ‘Dil Dil Pakistan.’ It was like the unofficial national anthem of the country. Coming back to Vital Signs, it was never that band for me whose posters I would put on the walls or cupboards of my room. They were just there, a group of ‘Mummy Daddy boys’ consistently producing hit songs that were almost taken for granted by people like myself. It was only after the band disintegrated and Junaid Jamshed went solo when I felt his presence for the first time. Maybe that was the beauty of Vital Signs, that they were always liked or disliked as a band and not members of the band in isolation. Anyways, Junaid Jamshed was now ‘Junaid of Vital Signs’ (the original title of his first solo album too).

I had a thing about music and singing from my early childhood and I even considered taking up singing as a full time career at one point in time in my life (more about that some other time). As time passed, I became more aware about the intricacies of music and how this was not something as easy as people generally perceive it to be. I was still a Junoon fan but something about Junaid Jamshed’s voice and the songs that he sung kept knocking on the doors of my mind and musical senses. For reasons unknown, I started listening to old Vital Sign tracks all over again just to re-explore what I had missed in those days. ‘Aitebar bhi’ suddenly became one of my all-time favorites (specially the unplugged version). After Vital Signs, ‘Tumhara aur mera naam’ presented a challenge for me of sorts somehow as a singer whenever I tried singing it and then came ‘Dil ki baat’ and ‘Keh do jo bhi mann mein aey’ and by that time Junaid Jamshed had gained the respect and acceptance from my mind as a musician that he had already earned through his work a decade ago from both the fraternity and music lovers across the globe. And then things started changing.

The more I wanted of Junaid Jamshed, the more effort I had to make. His appearances became rare and news started circulating about him exiting the music scene. Honestly, I wasn’t too bothered about him leaving the music scene because by that time, the music scene in Pakistan had taken on a new shape and there were plenty of new comers who could carry the torch ahead very well from him. What bothered me more was my curiosity to know why he was choosing to call it a day from the music world. I remember watching him judge the first ‘Pepsi Battle of the Bands’ finale where Entity Paradigm (EP) gave a mind-blowing performance by fusing Junaid Jamshed’s and Strings’ ‘Tu hai kahan’ with ‘Aazmaa’. Junaid Jamshed had a stubble at that time but all I could care about was him being part of the judges’ panel and appreciating the new kids on the block. Junaid Jamshed finally announced his dissociation with music and I was again looking for reasons why someone would do that after seeing so much fame and fortune.

jj1

It was this curiosity that made me follow him even more, almost inadvertently. I started exploring religion myself. Even though this exploration was triggered by Junaid Jamshed, I never followed him blindly into it and took an unbiased route making sure that my decisions and learnings would be my own and not based on anybody else’s experiences. I didn’t know at that time that he had done the same himself. With the passage of time, I kept on getting more and more impressed by the level of faith and confidence Junaid Jamshed had on ALLAH (SWT) and the sacrifices he had made based on that very faith. ALLAH (SWT) rewarded him at each step. He got tested and rewarded and this had almost become cyclic for him. He would never lose the very public attention he had put on the line with his decision of parting ways from the world of music.

For reasons that are incomparable to a great degree, I would associate myself to him. My association though would never be based or even slightly bear resemblance to the goodness that Junaid Jamshed had as a person and a Muslim. I would find myself in situations where almost every time I could relate with how that great man must have felt in those situations. Situations where I would speak a little too much in excitement about Deen and would then realize that I shouldn’t speak without asking elders or Ulama. The constant struggle that I face each minute of my life against the will to return to a life that has no-holds-barred or at least a little more ‘independence’ to do stuff that I would normally refrain myself from doing now. My constant battles with conceit.

I guess, there are tens of thousands if not millions of people out there like me who feel the same. I speak for myself here though. But as soon as I associate myself and my situation with Junaid bhai, I immediately realize how immensely different my situation is with him. It is only similar till the time I accidentally land into it. After that, me and Junaid bhai share completely contrasting circumstances. Mine, by the grace of ALLAH (SWT) are limited to a very few people while Junaid bhai had magnifying glasses from millions scrutinizing him at each second of his life. Everything he said or did or planned to do was examined and commented upon by people from all walks of life- people who barely knew or understood what he was talking about in the first place. He had carried that extra-baggage with him. But the best part about him was that he never expressed any sort of despondence about it. He forgave all and constantly asked for forgiveness from everyone and kept walking on the road which he believed led to Jannah and the forgiveness of the Al-Mighty.

The best Ramadan of my life so far has been one in which I would listen to his nasheeds all day and night. ‘Jalwa-e-Jaanaa’, ‘Muhammad (SAW) ka roza’, ‘Mera Dil badal de’ and ‘Ilahi teri choakhat par’ would bring out tears from my eyes and they still do. I would put my children to sleep reciting ‘Ae ALLAH, Tu hi ata Tu jood-o-sakhaa’. I would envy him in a good way for the love that he would get from Ulama and renowned scholars from not only Pakistan but from across the globe. He was ‘laadla’ of all Ulama-e-Karaam. Be it Hazrat Hakeem Akhtar Sb. (RA) or Mufti Taqi Usmani Sb. (DB) or Pir Zulfiqar Sb. (DB) and not to forget Hazrat Maulana Tariq Jameel Sb. (DB). Our Ramadan would be incomplete without him and I must confess that I am yet to see an anchor handle scholars and audience from so many different sects on a single forum with such a cultured and tolerant approach like Junaid bhai used to.

I do not think I have shared so much personal detail in any of my pieces till date. And I am not sure if I will ever do that again (ALLAH (SWT) knows best). But this is for Junaid bhai (RA). An elder brother to so many like me. A man who became a source of reigniting our love for ALLAH (SWT) and Prophet Muhammad (SAW). A normal human being who was like us and yet so different from all of us because of the choices he made in his life and the efforts that he made to stick to those choices.

He was surely one of a kind and someone who made his journey from JJ to Junaid bhai and from a Rock star to Rehemahullah.

May ALLAH (SWT) forgive him and grant him with Jannah of the highest level- Aameen.

Hammad A. Mateen

 

Policy & Procedures: Do organizations really mean it?

The second half of the 20th century brought with it a start to revolutionary changes in organizational management styles. Emphasis started being given to proper management structures where a concept of shared ownership was developed and policies opened the top managements’ doors for everyone at the workplace. Management suddenly became a science and terms like data mining, forecasting, and decision analysis etc. became the talk of the town. Business had new rules- rules that were governed by the principles set by management theories. Systems, structures and frameworks had started being developed and/ or adopted. A new breed of professionals emerged onto the scene and they called themselves ‘Consultants’. They would help organizations open up their eyes to see what was happening in the outside world. This awakening though would cost organizations fortunes. But, companies felt it was the need of the hour and in some cases, an ‘in’ thing to hire a consultant and have systems implemented. There was a small problem to all of this though- humans.

I participated in a training in Osaka back in 2012 which was a trainer’s trainer course for the Management Training Program (MTP). What struck me the most in Japan was an astonishing contrast. It was a contrast between understanding human beings and implementing strong systems. For many, it may not come across as a contrast. It may not even come across as relevant for a few. But what was interesting for me to observe was the presence of such strong and robust systems and infrastructures in every field and walk of life there and yet the heart of the management training program was to understand human beings better. I think this is because of the underlying fact that all systems and policies are useless until those upon whom these policies have an effect on are understood completely encompassing every facet of their personalities. Human psychology is a complex subject and those who are students of this subject would agree to me on that. Every human being is a different person, with different needs, reactions and patterns of thinking. And to categorize them is a task that only has a start and no definite end to it.

Frameworks and policies therefore fail to take on a robust shape in countries like ours where importance is given to personalities more than the system itself. How many times have we seen organizations that are run on a system that completely depends on one or two individuals who are sitting at the helm of affairs?
It is actually unfair to call this kind of setting a ‘system’ in the first place. These are work environments where educated, qualified professionals boast about the prevalent management theories of their times or maybe even those that are predicted for the times to come. Yet, in effect, their own organizations or departments lack seriousness in the very same areas. Systems and structures are merely used as disposable tools for short term benefits that are often even limited to personal gains instead of organizational advantage.

Change is the only thing that is consistent in these kind of organizations. The primary reason behind this is the on-going violation of policies in the name of amendments/ enhancements. The interesting part is that this is led/ allowed from the top. Policies and systems in such organizations are intentionally set on weak foundations so that the same can be used against personnel by putting the blame on them for certain failures. I have seen policies that have room for exceptional cases ending up being used in way that it becomes difficult for one to distinguish between a rule and exception. Policies that are already made flexible are stretched to greater lengths and in many cases even revised frequently in order to entertain items on the wish list of those who disagree with what their predecessors had been doing- even if that means overwhelming any good practices. Dependence on institutional memory instead of concrete systems is not something that organizations should be proud of.

In this time, it is considered shameful for someone to concede that any of the work done by their predecessors was correct and on-track. This is basically because of the pressures ineffably and sometimes even explicitly put on new comers when bringing them on-board. These pressures push individuals to either re-brand the system that was already in place (discrediting all the work previously done) or start all over again reinventing the wheel. They need to do this in order to please egos of the people sitting at C-level positions in organizations who actually brought them on-board in the first position. It is sad but true.

From modern organizational management styles to pleasing egos, the work environment of many organizations specially in the sub-continent has generally deteriorated over time and systems and frameworks only serve the purpose of pleasant visual professional packaging and sometimes helps the organization get by compliance issues. Theories keep pouring in everyday and most of them may also be effective in reality. However, if there is a will to make a difference, one must adopt a mindset where scopes are defined, systems are strengthened and structures are allowed to mature and be followed. This requires consistency on both personal and professional levels and a control over one’s will to mold the system as per his/ her personal desires. Maybe that is what the world generally calls ‘professionalism’.

Hammad A. Mateen

Those mornings…

Mornings connote freshness- they represent bright starts and new beginnings. We look forward to them as they bring light, hope and enthusiasm to our lives. But then there are mornings that bring dread and angst with the awakening of the self-proclaimed unfortunate. When dreams gets shattered under the weight of reality and ideals are thrown out of the window by pragmatism. Mornings, when staying in bed means much more than just a few more moments of comfort. It’s hard to believe that the universe is still intact despite our prayers of its overnight culmination the previous night. Why did this morning come? Could our waking up actually be the beginning of a dream? How we wish it was!

Our fears stare us in the eyes and wish us good morning with all the sarcasm in the world almost mocking us without any pretense. We hide our apprehensions temporarily behind the alarm clock but that doesn’t last long either. And with a bugle call that almost signifies the commencement of our battle with our fears, we are forced- almost involuntarily pushed out into the battlefield. There’s no hiding now. The enemy must be confronted and this clash will not end before one of the warriors concedes defeat.

Some of us are so scared already that they do not want wounds to be taken along with them to the heavens and they raise the white flag anticipating a less painful death. Others use their armor of will almost out of compulsion like a cornered tiger and look their fears in the eye. They fight, bleed, and cry but they do not concede. Pain isn’t pain anymore and even though they have read the writing on the wall they refuse to die with the regret of not emptying the chamber at the enemy first.

For mornings like these, darkness brings peace. It’s an arduous journey towards the night- a night where refuge is on the offering and where reality takes a break.

Hammad A. Mateen

Motivation v Performance: An honest perspective

I see many professionals, team leaders and managers ask what seems to be a very important question to them: How do we keep our teams motivated? For several years, I kept asking this question myself. I asked this question from my mentors, I asked it from my colleagues, and I even asked this from my team members themselves. But somehow, no answer has convinced me so far in a way that I could witness actual results. It’s probably because in my opinion, I do not consider team motivation and team performance as two independent elements.

Team motivation almost compulsorily needs to reflect in team performance and that sometimes is not the case when motivation is mistaken for ‘always keeping the team happy’. Motivation and happiness without a shade of doubt have a correlation but very honestly put, this connection is only as strong as the results produced. Managers may experiment with the order of sequence in which the two work and may even compliment one with the other simultaneously but the fact of the matter is that performance will always outweigh motivation whenever looked at from a perspective of comparison.

 

As also mentioned above, motivation may at times be mistaken with the contentment of the team members. I used the term ‘mistaken’ here because for a lot of employees, contentment comes with complacency attached to it. Although these are essentially two different things but this is not how it is generally perceived especially when it comes to setting work-related goals. Average employees like myself are in search for job contentment and what this sometimes means deep down inside is the desire to work in an environment that does not challenge our competence in a critical manner.

The word ‘challenge’ when used in the present tense usually represents a situation or circumstances that we have chosen for ourselves knowingly and intentionally. Take a closer look at the situation and you will realize that there is very little in it that deserves to be called ‘challenging’ but since it was our desire to take it on, no matter how small a task it is, in our minds, it is a ‘challenge’. The same word though, when used in the past tense would usually represent a situation that was imposed upon one with him/ her not really wanting to be part of it. We only proudly call it a challenge once we somehow survive it and look back at it with a grin on the face. Otherwise, it is just a ‘demotivating’ task assigned by the boss with a single point agenda that is to set us up for failure and ruin our careers.

So it all comes down to being motivated in the present and producing results at the same time. For this, the only person with the power to lift you up and prepare you to face any challenge (real one) that comes your way is none other than your very own self. A good boss or leader can only add fuel to your fire. Believe it or not, NO ONE can ignite your passion but you. An exceptional leader will utilize even a single spark in you and turn it into fire but that first spark needs to come from within. A spark that comes from the belief that you have in what you do. And if you don’t have that- you’re probably in the wrong place.

So there’s no single answer or method to keeping your team motivated. It depends on the team as much as on the team leader to create an environment that yields positivity and is free from unnecessary carping. A great lesson (one that hit my right in the face) which I learnt from one of my professional mentors was when he told me, “Your appreciation for work is what you get transferred into your bank account on the first day of every new month. If you want more praise, do more than what you are getting paid for already.”

Although harsh but I guess that sums up pretty much everything.

Hammad A. Mateen

Do you want change?

We all want to make a difference and turn this country around on its head putting it on a path that leads to development, prosperity and overnight success. Some of us want to do it by taking to the streets, some are still exploring avenues and platforms from where they can create ‘impact’, others are thinking why this country isn’t changing despite their utmost efforts put in the drawing room discussions that they so regularly become part of. But have we thought of starting to make a difference by taking small steps instead of huge lunges.

If asked, ‘Do you want change?’ Most of us will say, ‘Yes!’

But if we are asked, ‘Do YOU want to change?’ We will not be so quick in responding in the affirmative.

Do we think about starting from ourselves and mending our own ways by dealing with the minor infractions and habits that we’ve become so accustomed to in our daily lives? Take it from me, a societal change is only possible when all pieces that constitute the society are in place and coherently moving in the right direction. Those pieces are us, the citizens of this country and members of the society.

change

So, let’s start from ourselves and start making a difference by:

  1. Being punctual to work
  2. Giving way to others on the road
  3. Respecting & following the traffic signals
  4. Accepting your mistake and saying ‘Sorry’
  5. Turning off the water tap while brushing teeth
  6. Carpooling wherever possible
  7. Exchanging gifts with colleagues, friends & family
  8. Praising your spouse
  9. Learning to say ‘Thank you’
  10. Turning off the AC & lights when leaving the room
  11. Doing regular ‘Sadqah’
  12. Spending time with your parents
  13. Appreciating your co-workers
  14. Stop saying ‘this is not my job’
  15. Saying hello to old friends
  16. Stop backbiting other people
  17. Starting to think from the other person’s perspective rather than your own every time
  18. Minding your own business when you’re required to
  19. Keeping your tongue in control and refrain from hurting others
  20. Being honest yet respectful towards others
  21. Accepting others for who they are
  22. Not wasting food
  23. Sending food platters to neighbors
  24. Stop procrastinating, especially at work
  25. Being thankful to ALLAH for all that He’s given you

These are just 25 of the hundreds of small but good deeds that have an impact that spreads like a fission chain reaction. Revolutions start from individuals and unless we become that what we expect our society to become, nothing is going to change.

Think about it!

Hammad A. Mateen