Falling on my face and other hurdles: How I nearly missed the PSL final

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Photo courtesy of PSL Facebook Page

Originally written for Dawn Blogs, published February 25, 2016: http://www.dawn.com/news/1241842/falling-on-my-face-and-other-hurdles-how-i-nearly-missed-the-psl-final

If there’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do, it is to watch a cricket match live in the stadium — I’ve been a cricket buff for as long as I can remember and I follow the game closely.

The recently concluded Pakistan Super League had me excited and proud. For the sake of my cricket-starved country, I wanted the PSL to shine, to be amongst the best leagues in the world, to be the league all the international stars yearn to get into.

Even though my favourite Zalmi and Afridi were out of the tournament, I still liked the gutsy Moin Khan-esque Sarfaraz Ahmed and was hoping that Quetta would win.

So, when the opportunity presented itself, I decided to go and watch the PSL final at Dubai International Stadium.

My sister and her family had flown in from New York especially to watch the match and had one extra VIP ticket — it was fate. After settling the kids down at home, I set off for Dubai Sports City at around 7:30pm.

The drive was fairly smooth and my best friend Google ensured that I was on the right track.

As the beautiful lit-up stadium came into view, I called my sister who was already inside and told her that I had arrived and would soon be joining them. Little did I know.

As I neared the exit for Dubai Sports City, the traffic came to a standstill. The queue was extremely long and many people resigned to just parking their cars in the sand on the right and walking to the stadium because the match had already started.

After being stuck, for around 20 minutes, I realised that even if I did cross the exit and get into the stadium area, finding a parking spot there would be near impossible.

So I swung the car to the right and entered the sandy area where thousands of cars were already parked.

I could see the stadium a little farther ahead of where I was. I took relief in the fact that if so many people had parked here, there was probably a way to walk to it too.

As I measured my options, I realised that I would either have to walk along the main road (easily a 35-40 minute walk) or find a shortcut to the stadium from the sandy parking area.

None of the options seemed exciting — the road did not have a sidewalk so it felt dangerous to walk alongside the heavy traffic, and the sandy area had no lights and looked pretty scary.

I took a deep breath and finally decided to follow a group of men nearby, who were also trying to find a shortcut to the cricket stadium.

Only a short while later, a big fence cut off our progress. But one of them inspected it carefully and found a spot where the fence was half bent and jumped over it easily. The others followed suit.

Realising there was no other way except jumping over, I, too, gathered my flowing chiffon top (green, of course) and decided to go for it. Shaking, both because of how challenging it seemed and because of my company that night, no one was more surprised than I when I made it to the other side.

Just as I went over, I heard one of the guys say that their tickets were at the East side.

Mine’s premium West, I thought to myself and felt faint: I had left my ticket in the car!

I made the jump again and this time I nearly ripped my jeans because a pointy bit of the fence got stuck in the side pocket. Now began the process of trying to find my car in the big sandy jumble of vehicles. I traced my steps back and to my utter horror, my car was nowhere to be found.

Alone in the dark and eerie parking lot, which was in the middle of nowhere, with scores of people who didn’t even look remotely friendly and with a car that was lost, I wondered if the cricket match was worth it at all.

I decided to drive back home — as soon as I found that dratted car.

Just then, coming out of the darkness, I saw a lady in a long white skirt leaning on the arm of a man. “Oh come on, Rano, walk a little faster. And I told you not to wear a skirt and heels!” he told her.

Rano looked as desperate as I felt. Then, just as suddenly, I spotted my car and I rushed over, grabbed the ticket and followed the couple.

“Err,” I began uncomfortably. I told them that my family was inside and that I had to get to the stadium, asking if I could walk with them.

The couple was sweet and happy to let me tag along. I gladly did so, relieved that I hadn’t already left.

When we arrived at the first fence, the man, Hassan helped Rano and then they both helped me. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, had I not forgotten my ticket, I would never have run into the helpful duo.

On the other side of the fence, things looked pretty grim. There was a humongous construction pit on the ground, and that was the reason a fence had been put up in the first place. I’m terribly scared of heights and here I had to walk on the narrow path by this huge pit.

Another fence! I swallowed the lump in my throat and ploughed on resolutely, not looking left or right. Rano landed on the other side of the second fence with some help from Hassan. Thanking God that I was wearing sneakers, I, too, crossed the hurdle, sweating and exhausted.

I wondered how much longer we would have to walk in the dark. It seemed as though the stadium was moving farther away from us, and for one long moment, I wondered if we were even going in the right direction. But Hassan was confident that all was well, and so, on we went.

Ten minutes later, the night air brought a welcome sound to my ears. We could hear the faraway noise of a national song, which I surmised to be ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’.

My heart leapt with joy — we were close.

The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.

In front of us, not more than a ten-minute walk away was the entrance to the Dubai International Stadium. Quite a sight for sore eyes. But just then my phone rang (the family had been calling all this time and had called again to get an update on my progress).

In answering the phone, I missed a gutter along the road. It was covered thankfully, but the cover jutted out at a strange angle and wham! I fell flat on my face on the road.

Hassan and Rano helped a dishevelled me up and I let out a groan as my knee began to throb. Gladly I was okay except for minor scrapes. I walked along carefully now.

At last, we walked into the entrance and showed our tickets. We were seated in different places, so I thanked the lovely couple and found my family.

What I saw next just blew me away!

It was a real cricket match, just like on TV, only better and clearer. Ahmed Shehzad had just hit a four and the crowd had gone crazy.

People were wearing Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United jerseys and screaming and signalling four, swaying from side to side.

If I had any doubts at the parking lot about the match being worth it, I had none now: the atmosphere was electric.

A young Quetta Gladiators fan.A young Quetta Gladiators fan.

The next three hours just flew past. I followed the game closely but the side I was supporting (Quetta) lost, thanks to Islamabad’s great batting.

The energy and the vibe of the crowd were infectious. I’ve heard of people having a passion for the game but this one I embodied in a way that I had never imagined.

Crazy as it was, my experience of watching my first match live was truly memorable and I would definitely go again.

When a mother of three, all alone at night, save for a strange couple, jumps over fences thrice to watch a league final, you know the PSL has made it.

 

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Flowers on Eid

To all readers and friends,

Eid Mubarak! 

How was Eid? Well, mine’s been a bit boring to be honest. Never mind though, it’s been good to chill out a bit. Ramadan was kinda hectic, yet I am so sad it’s over. Eid ul Fitr is a kind of tug of war for me — on the one hand I’m depressed that Ramadan is over, and then at the same time, I am happy because it’s Eid.

Hope you enjoy the following photos!

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So if you think I received all of these lovely flowers for Eid, umm no. I was clicking at the flower arrangements in a hotel. 🙂 Oh and this was before Eid. But I figured this was a good time to share these photos.

Never really photographed flowers before... Not much anyway

Never really photographed flowers before… Not much anyway. I think I’d enjoy it.

Always thought I'd wait for the right camera you know.. DSLR and stuff... but I think my point and shoot ain't doing too badly here. Especially in bad light

Always thought I’d wait for the right camera you know.. DSLR and stuff… but I think my point and shoot ain’t doing too badly here. Especially in bad light.

I feel that detail in this could have better, besides I'm not too crazy about the composition of this picture.

I feel that detail in this could have better, besides I’m not too crazy about the composition of this picture. Don’t want to whine about the camera…honest

This was a beautiful bunch, flowers make me smile.

This was a beautiful bunch, flowers make me smile.

I like these tones. You?

I like these tones. You?

Working mom versus stay-at-home mom

Note: The last couple of years have been tough with work, studies, and for the most part, no hired help. Could be why I haven’t been blogging as regularly as before. Read my thoughts on the same in this Gulf News column: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/working-mom-versus-stay-at-home-mom-1.1200885

(image via source)

Work drives me insane. As a matter of fact, it also keeps me sane. What, did I just hear you say you don’t quite follow me? Read on, and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum. I’ve played the role of a home-maker (or housewife if you will), a studying mom, and a working mom. I realise there are benefits and drawbacks in each, and each has its own charm.

When I wasn’t working or studying, the day stretched ahead of me long and tiring, a bore, with house chores being the only thing to look forward to. I wasn’t however permanently tired or short on sleep and when I spent time with the children, I was all theirs and I didn’t worry about unfinished assignment or colleagues and bosses.

There was always fresh, home-cooked food on offer and we never ran out of things like toothpaste or dishwasher tablets. Enter studying.

Anyone will tell you that trying to study whilst playing mom and home-maker is no joke. It means having ugly circles under your eyes because the only time you could study was after the kids snoozed, and it means knowing the paper you wrote on Durkheim could have been so much better if the girls didn’t get food poisoning that week.

You are however glad you could turn in the paper after all and the sense of accomplishment you feel when you pass, is unparalleled! Oh, and sometimes you nod off during class because you’re so unbelievably exhausted.

With me, that of course wasn’t such an issue, what with years of high school training! The best part however, is when you take an exam and the whole family comes to see you off.

You are told, “Mom, you’re the smartest. I promise it’s going to be easy,” by someone who actually means it, and the icing on the cake? You are presented with a melted and squeezed up Mars bar saved especially for you as a gift.

Reality check

And then you start work. You are so ready to implement all of that knowledge you acquired and you wonder just how hard could it be? And then you get the reality check you always knew was coming: it’s really hard but it’s also fun!

You get to dress up and go out every morning, you can’t make random trips to the fridge because you’re no longer vegetating at home, and you feel content when things go right. You do however, hate the fact that you appear to be aging faster because you never really get beauty sleep and because the sun seems to eat up your hands as you drive!

On the other hand, you accomplish things you didn’t think you ever could and then you challenge yourself and climb another rung on the ladder of satisfaction. And when you finally see your own kids again, you bring with yourself an infectious positivity and even though you’re physically tired, you’re not frustrated.

You’re actually more productive than you were before and you begin to appreciate the little things because you miss them at work.

So you sometimes run out of things and there are days when the only thing the family must eat is a take-out meal, but then you learn to value your weekends and make the most of them. Your children see you working hard, as a student, as a mom and as a working woman, and they begin to gain a sense of responsibility too. You learn so much with every passing day; you feel like you finally looked outside your own little world, reached out, had wonderful experiences and became abetter person for it.

In no circumstance however, is life perfect. On the best day at work, you might be in a brutal fight with your better half and after the most amazing weekend in your life, that Sunday makes you wonder why you wanted to work in the first place.

I’d like to sign off by saying that the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is keeping my chin up through everything that happens, to find my inner positivity and to let my spiritual energy keep me in the right place. Our happiness does not depend just on what we do, but it also rests heavily on how we think, how we approach life, and whether we see the glass half full or half empty.

Dubai: the lesser known side

I’m sure you’ve heard about the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building, and seen the pics in the Burj Series on my blog.

And you saw the architecture at Souk Madinat Jumeirah as well.

Heck, I even brought you the beaches!

It’s now time to see some greenery! Enjoy! 🙂

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17.05.13.pic3 17.05.13.pic4

Yes, some of these are edited and stuff, but a photographer is an artist. It’s a mixture of composition, perspective and feeling. Hope you liked the photos. Do let me know what you think.

-Mehmudah

There is life after Facebook

Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff”: http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/there-is-life-after-facebook-1.1179484

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Dear Facebook,

You asked what’s on my mind. Well, there is a lot that we need to talk about. It’s been about three years since I logged into my account. When I quit Facebook, family and friends were not pleased. They thought I was being antisocial, and such a spoilsport! However, I bowed out of the online social party as gracefully as I could.

At first it seemed like there was nothing left in life. I missed checking the ‘likes’, friend requests and friends’ updates every few minutes. Life felt … empty. But when the initial feeling of being cut off from the world was conquered I realised I had so much more time, and I was so productive!

I didn’t have to log on to Facebook every few minutes, and I didn’t need to know what other people were up to. I was suddenly getting some actual work done! It was possible.

A life without an over-reliance on Facebook was possible. Life could go on without needing to know how much weight so-and-so in New York had gained post-baby, or without knowing how magnificent a party had been, or without knowing what someone else’s children were up to.

Without getting a number of ‘likes’ on my oh-so-witty and well-thought-out status updates, and without getting a bunch of compliments on my latest pictures, as much as I would have liked to deny it, life really could go on.

And quite smoothly too.

Life after you, Facebook, had an odd satisfaction to it, a secure feeling that the world did not know what I was up to. There were people who totally ridiculed my idea of not using you, Facebook but I was more in touch with my real friends than ever before.

Those who wanted to find me landed on my blog, and we became even better friends than before. I became accessible and available to a selected few, who knew how to reach me, and who knew that my email messages to them were not broadcast conversations over status updates and pictures, and were real chats.

Slowly, Facebook, I forgot about you. I had a life that did not need to be lived online. I had family and friends in person, and admittedly on whatsapp and email. And I wouldn’t even have written to you today if a colleague hadn’t asked for my Facebook ID. When I tell people I’m not on Facebook, they generally have two reactions.

One group thinks I am a totally antisocial person. The second group thinks I am an eccentric woman who probably has an interesting story to tell about why I quit you.

Well, Facebook, the truth couldn’t be farther away. I’m just a normal human being who decided to quit you because I was growing addicted to you.

When I told my colleague I wasn’t on you, she insisted that it was good to have a Facebook account, and that one can stay in touch with one’s friends. Yes, Facebook, I miss that.

I also miss being able to share my articles to a great number of people in a single click, and I miss sharing thought-provoking quotes and the like. To my colleague I mumbled something along the lines of “Yeah, Facebook’s really cool that way,” and wondered if I would ever join you again.

Join you again? Is that even possible, or likely? Well, anything is possible. Maybe I could join you and keep myself hidden with the privacy settings you thankfully worked out and add a total of say, 15-20 people?

Wouldn’t I look like a completely unpopular moron if I didn’t have at least 200 ‘friends’? And then if I didn’t share any of my own pictures, I would definitely look like a snoopy observer of others’ pictures. And Facebook, is it not all about letting others know how wonderful and awesome I am, and what an exciting life I live?

To be honest though, I’m nothing spectacular. I’m just an average person with an average life, but all my friends on Facebook look like they have the most amazing lives in the world.

Look at me. I sound like I am in a ‘Facebook frenzy’ already. Perhaps I’ll wait a little more before I can join you again. In the meantime, I’ll work on living a real life away from the carefully crafted perfection of the internet.