Health and Safety

My dad was big on juicing, and here I refer to the ’70s era, when only a few indulged in such uppity pastimes. One fine day he picked up a juicer, and suddenly orange juice, apple juice and, most importantly, carrot juice became a daily breakfast fare. I loved the little talks I got while drinking the juice, especially carrot juice. “Beta, for sure your eyesight will remain 20/20 forever if you drink a glass of carrot juice every day.” Rightly so, I don’t need glasses at this ripe old age a little south of 50.

And then there was my school friend Ayla, whose older sister developed an orange hue to her skin tone because she ate a bucket load of carrots while on a ‘teen years-onset-induced diet’. Hence the carrot anecdotes I have are many, but for now I’ll introduce you to some interesting history notes about the journey of the carrot.

Borrowing from the article Food Stories: Gajar Ka Halwa, “Carrots were indigenous to Afghanistan for almost 5,000 years. They came in colours such as red, yellow, black and white, but not orange, until the 17th century when the horticulturalists in the Netherlands decided to honour William of Orange, from the House of Orange, by creating an orange carrot. Though many believe that it was a coincidence, and the orange colour was a mutation of the red and yellow carrot and had no significant link to the Royal House of Orange, this new orange carrot was sweeter, prettier and of a non-sticky variety, making it popular amongst the cooks of the world. Legend has it that the Sikhs from Punjab introduced it to the house of Mughals.”

This simple winter vegetable can be transformed into delicious dishes

The cooks in the subcontinent liked the new imported carrot and the sweetness that came with it. It was an era when new cuisines were being developed by chefs and connoisseurs and the new carrot proved to be something to be experimented with to make halwa, with sugar, milk and butter, sans the flour and nuts.

Punjab apparently took an instant liking to it, and began to develop innovative new recipes, sweet and savoury. It was a vegetable that was harvested in abundance in winters and the cooks came up with a hot delicious dessert best served any time of the day, before or after a meal, or as a side with chai or doodh pati. Gajar ka halwa was an instant hit all over the Indian subcontinent.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan of carrots, may it be sweet or savoury, or a little tangy, like the carrot achar. Hence, I share with you my three favourite carrot recipes, from my kitchen to yours.

GAJAR, MATAR, AALO SABZI

INGREDIENTS

2 cups chopped potatoes
2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon amchoor powder
Salt to taste
4 to 5 tablespoons oil (or as desired)
Curry leaves
Garnish with chopped coriander, lemon wedges and green chillies

METHOD

Heat oil, add cumin, curry leaves, mustard seeds, turmeric, onions, fry for a few minutes and toss in the vegetables. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring and spraying with water, periodically, once vegetables are tender, add all the masalas, cook for a few minutes, garnish and serve.

GAJAR KA HALWA (SERVES 10 TO 12)

INGREDIENTS

1 kg carrots (orange)
1 ½ to 2 litres of milk
½ pint Half-and-Half
1/3 pint heavy whipping cream
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
¼ cup oil
8 to 10 cardamoms
1 tablespoon raisins
2 tablespoons blanched and chopped almonds

METHOD

Lightly peel and grate carrots and set aside. Bring milk to boil and add the carrots, let the milk and carrot mixture come to a boil then add half-and-half and sugar, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the mixture comes to boil, reducing heat to medium. Once the milk evaporates (should take one-and-a-half to two hours) add heavy cream, stirring constantly. Once cream evaporates, add butter, oil and cardamoms stirring constantly, keeping the flame medium to high. Keep stirring until oil separates, and the colour is a rich beautiful deep orange. Garnish with raisins and almonds and serve.

CARROT JUICE

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds carrots, chopped
4 or more cups water
1 can condensed milk, or malai with sugar (I prefer it with condensed milk)
Dash of nutmeg/cinnamon or green cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon fresh ginger

METHOD

Blend carrots in a blender, adding water; sieve through mulmul (muslin) cloth. Squeeze extracting all juice, discard the pulp and pour the juice into the blender, adding all ingredients. Puree and serve hot or chilled.

Published in Dawn, EOS, December 3rd, 2017

کیلے دنیا میں سب سے زیادہ پسند کیے جانے والے پھلوں میں سے ایک ہے اور اقوام متحدہ کے مطابق دنیا بھر میں اوسطاً ہر سال 18 ملین ٹن کیلوں کی کھپت ہوتی ہے۔

یہ پھل پوٹاشیم اور پیسٹین (فائبر کی ایک قسم) سے بھرپور ہوتا ہے اور اس کے ذریعے جسم کو میگنیشیم، وٹامن سی اور بی سکس بھی مل جاتے ہیں۔

تاہم جہاں اس کے متعدد فوائد ہیں، وہیں اس کے کچھ نقصانات بھی ہیں اور یہ دونوں آپ نیچے جان سکتے ہیں۔

فوائد

دل کی صحت

کیلے دل کے لیے اچھے ثابت ہوتے ہیں جس کی وجہ ان میں موجود پوٹاشیم ہے اور دل کے افعال کے لیے یہ ضروری ہوتا ہے، اسی طرح سوڈیم یا نمکیات نہ ہونے کے برابر ہے لہذا یہ شریانوں کو ہائی بلڈ پریشر سے بھی تحفظ دیتا ہے۔ رواں سال ایک تحقیق میں یہ بات سامنے آئی تھی کہ کیلے میں موجود پوٹاشیم شریانوں کے لیے فائدہ مند ہے اور ان کے اکڑنے یا سکڑنے کا خطرہ کم کرتا ہے جس سے ہارٹ اٹیک یا فالج جیسے امراض سے تحفظ ملتا ہے۔

ڈپریشن کے خلاف بھی مفید

کیلوں میں موجود ٹرائیپٹوفن نامی جز جسم میں جاکر سیروٹونین میں بدل جاتا ہے جو کہ مزاج پر خوشگوار اثرات مرتب کرتا ہے، اسی طرح وٹامن بی سکس نیند کو بہتر کرتا ہے جبکہ میگنیشم پٹھوں کو سکون فراہم کرتا ہے۔

نظام ہاضمہ بہتر اور موٹاپے میں کمی

فائبر سے بھرپور ہونے کے باعث کیلے قبض سے تحفظ فراہم کرتا ہیں جبکہ وٹامن بی سکس ذیابیطس ٹائپ ٹو کا شکار ہونے سے بچانے میں مدد دینے کے ساتھ ساتھ موٹاپے میں کمی لاتا ہے، چونکہ اس میں قدرتی مٹھاس ہوتی ہے اور پیٹ کو جلد بھر دیتا ہے لہذا بے وقت منہ چلانے کی عادت پر بھی قابو پانے میں مدد ملتی ہے۔

ورزش

جسمانی توانائی کی بحالی اور الیکٹرولائٹس کے باعث کیلے ورزش کرنے والے افراد کے لیے انرجی ڈرنکس سے زیادہ موثر ثابت ہوتے ہیں۔

بینائی

صرف گاجر ہی نہیں بلکہ کیلے بھی بینائی میں بہتری کے لیے فائدہ مند ہے، اس پھل میں کم لیکن نمایاں مقدار میں وٹامن اے ہوتا ہے جو بینائی کے تحفظ کے لیے اہم ترین جز ہے، یہ عام بینائی کو صحت مند رہنے اور رات کی بینائی بہتری لانے والا پھل ہے۔

ہڈیاں

کیلے ہڈیوں کی مضبوطی کے لیے مددگار ثابت ہوسکتے ہیں، ایک تحقیق کے مطابق کیلوں میں ایک جز fructooligosaccharides موجود ہوتا ہے جو معدے میں موجود صحت کے لیے فائدہ مند بیکٹریا کی نشوونما بڑھا کر جسم کی کیلشیئم جذب کرنے کی صلاحیت کو بہتر بناتا ہے۔

کینسر

کچھ شواہد سے عندیہ ملتا ہے کہ اعتدال میں رہ کر اس پھل کو کھانے سے گردوں کے کینسر سے تحفظ حاصل کیا جاسکتا ہے۔ ایک تحقیق میں بتایا گیا کہ جو افراد پھلوں اور سبزیوں کو ترجیح دیتے ہیں، ان میں گردوں کے کینسر کا خطرہ چالیس فیصد تک کم ہوجاتا ہے، اور اس حوالے سے کیلے موثر ترین ہے۔ ہر ہفتے چار سے چھ کیلے کھانا گردوں کے کینسر کے خطرے کو کم کرنے کے لیے کافی ہے۔

حمل

برطانوی طبی جریدے دی رائل سوسائٹی میں شائع ایک تحقیق کے مطابق کیلے میں موجود پوٹاشیم حاملہ خواتین کے ہاں لڑکوں کی پیدائش میں مدد دے سکتا ہے، اس تحقیق کے دوران 740 خواتین کا جائزہ لیا گیا اور معلوم ہوا کہ حمل سے قبل زیادہ مقدار میں پوٹاشیم کو کھانے سے لڑکوں کی پیدائش کا امکان بڑھ جاتا ہے۔

طبی نقصانات

یہ پھل اعتدال میں رہ کر کھایا جائے تو کسی قسم کے مضر اثرات مرتب نہیں ہوتے تاہم اگر ایک وقت میں بہت زیادہ مقدار میں کھالیا جائے تو سردرد اور غنودگی کا باعث بن سکتا ہے۔

اسی طرح چونکہ یہ میٹھا پھل ہے تو اسے زیادہ کھانے پر دانتوں کی صفائی کا مناسب خیال نہ رکھنا دانتوں کی فرسودگی اور ٹوٹنے کا خطرہ بڑھتا ہے جبکہ اس پھل میں چونکہ مناسب مقدار میں پروٹین یا فیٹ نہیں، لہذا جسم غذائیت سے محروم ہوسکتا ہے۔

تاہم واضح رہے کہ کیلے اسی وقت نقصان دہ ثابت ہوتے ہیں جب انہیں بہت زیادہ کھایا جائے اور طبی ماہرین کے مطابق ایک دن میں دو سے چار کیلے ہی صحت کے لیے بہتر ہوتے ہیں جبکہ اس سے زیادہ کھانے سے جسم میں وٹامن اور دیگر منرلز کی سطح بہت زیادہ بڑھ کر نقصان پہنچا سکتی ہے۔

بالوں کی جڑوں میں موجود ہارمون میلانین آپ کے بالوں کی رنگت کا تعین کرتے ہیں تو جب جسم میں اس کی کمی ہوتی ہے تو اس کا نتیجہ سفیدی کی شکل میں نکلتا ہے۔

خوش قسمتی سے بالوں میں سفیدی کو آنے سے طویل عرصے تک روکنا ممکن ہے اور اس کے لیے میلانین کی سطح کو برقرار رکھنا ضروری ہوتا ہے۔

بالوں میں سفیدی جلد آنے کی متعدد وجوہات ہوسکتی ہیں۔

مزید پڑھیں : بالوں کے سفید ہونے کی 4 وجوہات

یقیناً بالوں کی سفیدی چھپانے کے لیے ہیئر کلر کو استعمال کیا جاسکتا ہے مگر طویل المعیاد بنیادوں پر یہ بالوں کے لیے نقصان دہ ثابت ہوتا ہے جو روکھے پن اور بے جان کرسکتے ہیں۔

یہاں آپ لیموں کے عرق اور ناریل کے تیل کا ایک گھریلو ٹوٹکا جان سکیں گے جو بالوں پر جادوئی اثرات مرتب کرتا ہے۔

یہ نہ صرف بالوں کو چمکدار اور نرم کرتا ہے بلکہ قبل از وقت سفیدی کی روک تھام بھی کرتا ہے۔

جیسا آپ کو معلوم ہوگا کہ ناریل کا تیل طاقتور جراثیم کش خصوصیات کا حامل ہوتا ہے جس میں موجود دیگر اجزاءبالوں کی نشوونما اور مضبوطی میں مدد دیتے ہیں جبکہ اینٹی آکسائیڈنٹس پروٹین کی کمی کرکے بالوں کی سفیدی کو ریورس کرتے ہیں۔

مزید پڑھیں : ناریل کے تیل کے 13 حیرت انگیز استعمال

اسی طرح لیموں وٹامن بی، سی اور فاسفورس سے بھرپور ہوتا ہے جو بالوں کے لیے فائدہ مند ہے جو کہ طویل عرصے تک بالوں میں سفیدی کی روک تھام کرتا ہے۔

اجزاء

تین چائے کے چمچ لیموں کا عرق

50 ملی لیٹر ناریل کا تیل

طریقہ کار

ان دونوں اجزاءکو اچھی طرح مکس کریں اور بالوں کی جڑوں میں لگائیں۔

اس کے بعد دو سے تین منٹ تک سر کی مالش کریں اور اس مکسچر کو ایک گھنٹے کے لیے لگا رہنے دیں۔

اس کے بعد سر کو معمول کے مطابق شیمپو سے دھولیں۔

ہفتے میں ایک بار اس کو آزمائیں، اس کا نتیجہ آپ کو حیران کردے گا۔

مرودوں کا موسم اب شروع ہوچکا ہے، جن پر چاٹ مصالحہ چھڑک کر کھانا تقریباً ہر ایک کو ہی پسند ہوتا ہے۔

مگر یہ صرف منہ کا ذائقہ ہی دوبالا نہیں کرتا بلکہ اس میں ایسے اجزاء بھی موجود ہوتے ہیں جو اسے صحت کے لیے بہترین پھل بناتے ہیں۔

وٹامن سی سے بھرپور یہ پھل کتنے فوائد کا حامل ہے، وہ درج ذیل ہے۔

کینسر کا خطرہ کم کرے

امرود میں موجود وٹامن سی، لائیکو پین اور دیگر اجزاء ایسے اینٹی آکسائیڈنٹس کا کام کرتے ہیں جو جسم میں نقصان دہ اجزاء کی سطح کم کرتے ہیں، جس سے کینسر زدہ خلیات کی نشوونما نہیں ہوتی۔

ذیابیطس کے مریضوں کے لیے بہتر

فائبر سے بھرپور ہونے کی وجہ سے امرود ذیابیطس کو بڑھنے سے روکتا ہے اور بلڈ شوگر کی سطح کو ریگولیٹ کرتا ہے۔

دل کو صحت مند بنائے

امرود کھانے سے جسم میں نمک یا سوڈیم اور پوٹاشیئم کے توازن میں بہتری آتی ہے جس سے بلڈ پریشر کنٹرول میں آتا ہے، یہ پھل صحت کے لیے نقصان دہ کولیسٹرول اور دیگر عناصر کی سطح بھی کم کرتا ہے جو کہ امراض قلب کا باعث بنتے ہیں۔

قبض کشا

اس میں غذائی فائبر کی مقدار کافی زیادہ ہوتی ہے اور ایک امرود ہی فائبر کی روزانہ کے لیے ضروری مقدار کا 12 فیصد حصہ جسم کو فراہم کردیتا ہے جو کہ نظام ہضم کے لیے بہت زیادہ فائدہ مند ہے، امرود کے بیج بھی قبض کو ختم کرنے میں مدد دیتے ہیں۔

بینائی بہتر کرے

امرود میں وٹامن اے پایا جاتا ہے جو کہ آنکھوں کی صحت کے لیے بہترین ہے، یہ پھل نہ صرف عمر بڑھنے کے ساتھ بینائی میں آنے والی تنزلی سے تحفظ دیتا ہے بلکہ اسے بہتر بھی کرتا ہے۔ یہ موتیے کے مرض کی رفتار کو بھی سست کرتا ہے۔

حاملہ خواتین کے لیے بہتر

اس پھل میں فولک ایسڈ موجود ہوتا ہے جو حاملہ خواتین کو استعمال کرنے کا مشورہ دیا جاتا ہے۔

دانتوں کے درد کو کم کرے

امرود میں ورم کش خصوصیات بھی ہوتی ہیں اور جراثیم کش ہونے کی وجہ سے بھی یہ انفیکشن کے خلاف جدوجہد کرتا ہے جبکہ جراثیموں کو مارتا ہے، اس لیے اسے کھانا دانت کے درد کے لیے اچھا گھریلو ٹوٹکا ثابت ہوتا ہے۔

تناﺅ کم کرے

امرود میں موجود میگنیشم، مسلز اور اعصاب کو پرسکون کرتا ہے، لہذا دن بھر کے کاموں کے بعد اسے کھانے سے مسلز کو سکون ملتا ہے، ذہنی تناﺅ کم ہوتا ہے جبکہ جسمانی توانائی بڑھتی ہے۔

دماغی پھل

اس پھل میں وٹامن بی تھری اور بی سکس بھی موجود ہے جو کہ دماغ کی جانب خون کی فراہمی کو بہتر کرتے ہیں اور ذہنی افعال کو تحریک دینے کے ساتھ اعصاب کو بھی سکون پہنچاتے ہیں۔

موٹاپے سے تحفظ

اگر آپ جسمانی وزن میں کمی لانا چاہتے ہیں تو امرود کھانا شروع کردیں، جس سے آپ کو اپنی غذا میں پروٹینز، وٹامنز اور فائبر میں کمی نہیں لانا پڑے گی جو کہ اس پھل میں موجود ہے جبکہ یہ میٹابولزم کو بھی بہتر کرتا ہے اور ہاں اسے کھانے سے جلد پیٹ بھرنے کا احساس بھی ہوتا ہے۔

جھریوں سے بچائے

وٹامن اے، وٹامن سی اور اینٹی آکسائیڈنٹس جیسے کیروٹین اور لائیکوپین کی وجہ سے امرود جلد کو جھریوں سے بچاتا ہے، یعنی ایک امرود روزانہ جھریوں کو کافی عرصے تک دور رکھتا ہے۔

I celebrated my 30th birthday just a few days ago. All through my 20s, the internet had been dishing me advice on what to do, have, and be before you hit 30.

As I turn the decade, I would like to share my experiences through the lens of my travels, and how I’ve come to define success in life.

This is the story of how I travelled 20 countries in the past four years and the lessons I learnt along the way.

I was raised in a middle-class family. My dad never allowed me to wear jeans and tees and hang out with friends. I was not allowed to drive the family car — even in the neighbourhood — whereas my younger brothers had those privileges.

The fact that privileges were distributed by gender never sat well with me. Conscious of the inequalities, I became a rebellious child with the ambition to do more for myself.

For a family who had not seen women working other than in gendered roles of teachers, doctors, or home makers, I ended up seeking inspiration from foreign role models.

No one in my family had ever travelled abroad (except for my dad visiting India to see relatives).

 
Canoeing on the bewildering Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda. -All photos by author

 

My favourite show used to be Musafir Hoon Yaron, which was then being aired on Star Plus.

I had a strange pull toward the concept of that show: Deepti Bhatnagar travelling every week to a remote location and showing the world what it’s like to eat, breathe, and sleep in another part of the world.

This was back in 1999/2000. Since there was no Instagram or Facebook at the time, the show didn’t exactly give me any 'hashtag travel goals,’ but it did instil in me a yearning for the far off and the unknown. I wanted to be adventurous and do big things – this was my idea of becoming someone important.

These friendly monks agreed for a photo, South East Asia.
These friendly monks agreed for a photo, South East Asia.

 

Fast forward to 2012, I was living with my parents, working at an ad agency as a copywriter, and my MBA was to be completed in a month. I had never travelled outside Pakistan.

My life changed when I found out that a group of students from a course on international retail, along with some teachers, were going to Dubai. I was not taking that course, but a few of my friends and I had previously studied the course with the same teachers. My friends insisted that we go and that it would be fun.

Fun? I thought to myself, once again, this would be me asking dad for permission and him saying ‘no’. I would end up sad and angry. I could sense that this idea would not turn out to be fun for me.

But then I imagined what it would be like to be in Dubai for five days with zero parental supervision, no need for permissions, and no curfew times. And I’d be getting to wear jeans. It seemed like a dream that could actually come true!

Visiting the top of Burj Khalifa, Dubai.
Visiting the top of Burj Khalifa, Dubai.

 

Using what I’d learnt from the advertising world, I packaged it to be a very serious, important, safe, and strictly supervised trip and mustered the courage to ask dad.

He realised that on this occasion he shouldn’t say no because the tour was related to coursework. Also, because the faculty members would be accompanying us and one of my close friends whom my parents knew well, also got permission to go. Hence, he said yes.

I could not believe it. I wrote the biggest lesson of my life down in my diary. Never be afraid to ask, no matter what you think the odds are.

Riding the world's fastest roller coaster at Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi.
Riding the world's fastest roller coaster at Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi.

 

I was not earning enough at the time and was paying for my MBA, as well as all personal expenses. And so, I planned this Dubai trip on a very, very tight budget.

I ate falafels and Burger King only, so I could save money to visit Formula Rossa (Ferrari World) and the top of Burj Khalifa.

I did the six-day trip in about $600 including air tickets, visa fee, stay, and chocolates for the family (no trip abroad is complete without bringing chocolates back).

It was when I roamed the Emirati streets at 3am clad in jeans, I finally felt I could exercise my right as a human being to go and breathe where and when it pleased me.

There are many women who abide by house rules and are perfectly happy with limited mobility, but I was never one of those. I was, for the first time, in my element, able to finally roam and rove at will.

Travelling solo to Africa.
Travelling solo to Africa.

 

I loved being away from the known and comfortable. Travelling touched me. All of it.

From being at the airport, to seeing so many people in transit, all the while imagining where they were going and coming from, affected me deeply. The moment I stepped out of the airport, I was filled with a great sense of anticipation and uncertainty about what was going to meet my eyes and excite my senses. All of this transformed me forever.

Roaming aimlessly on the streets, finding something new at every turn; I became addicted to the feeling of experiencing something new. Does that feeling have a name?

The travel termite had officially bit me. And so began my insatiable journey into the discovery of my nomadic tendency.

Bathing in Szechenyi thermal bath in Budapest.
Bathing in Szechenyi thermal bath in Budapest.

 

As soon as I got back, I made plans of where I could travel next. But my parents refused to give me permission since these were no university field trips.

Unfortunately for the next two years, my plans could not materialise and Dubai remained my only foray into the foreign world. Thanks to our patriarchal culture, a girl does not travel unaccompanied. The idea of a single female travelling solo always prompted my parents to ask “Log kya kahen ge?”

My angst grew — I hated this sexist culture.

I kept putting down my destination goals on paper; making itineraries of trips I wanted to take, thinking one day I would execute these.

 

In 2013, I stumbled upon Anthony Bourdain’s travel show on CNN called Parts Unknown.

It had been a while since I had come across a travel show, where the anchor left a deep impact on me. It had once been Musafir Hoon Yaron and now it was Mr Bourdain in Tokyo. That episode reignited the fire in me. I wanted to travel so bad, I cried.

I wanted to once again feel the sense of release and freedom that I had in Dubai. I had had a taste of what it really meant to be free and there was no going back.

Visiting Guinness World Records' Cafe Delirium to see how they serve 2000+ beer varieties in one shop.
Visiting Guinness World Records' Cafe Delirium to see how they serve 2000+ beer varieties in one shop.

 

I grew more rebellious and one year later, after major arguments with my parents, I left home to be on my own. I had built quite a sizable amount of savings during the past two years, thinking I would use it one day to finally break free and travel.

I was turning 27 that year and found out from a friend that on my birthday, the world’s biggest electronic music festival, Tomorrowland, was taking place in Atlanta, Georgia.

I decided to take a chance and applied for a US visa.

Experiencing love and community at Tomorrowland USA.
Experiencing love and community at Tomorrowland USA.

 

At the embassy, I was questioned thoroughly about my reason to visit the US. I told them I wanted to treat myself to a Tomorrowland ticket for my birthday.

They then asked me at length about the festival, the DJs attending, and also expressed amazement at the fact that Pakistanis even know about electronic music. It was a most amusing exchange for both parties.

They asked me in detail about the nature of my job, to which I confidently responded by describing what I do and how much I enjoy doing it.

Feeling lost and overwhelmed in Manhattan.
Feeling lost and overwhelmed in Manhattan.

 

I don’t know if it was my lucky day, or if they liked how neatly I had presented my documents but I somehow managed to secure approval for the visa.

The lady who had interviewed me told me they had seen many apply for a visa there, but never a girl who wanted it to travel to a music festival.

She was fascinated. I was ecstatic. Getting a US visa, with barely any travel history was indeed an unexpected victory.

The trip to the US in 2014 was a three-week-long adventure with friends, during which I travelled from California to Vegas to Texas to Atlanta and ended it all in New York.

When I returned, I already knew where I was travelling next.

Skydiving over Nevada.
Skydiving over Nevada.

 

By that time permission was no longer an issue, because my parents knew they could not stop me from taking off any more. Yes, they were upset and angry at me for not listening to them, but the urge to travel was too overpowering to ignore.

At the start of 2015, I travelled to South East Asia, all by myself, for ten days. To mark the occasion of my first solo trip, I got inked.

Travelling solo was not always fun and games. I travelled alone for the first time to seek a cure. My heart had been broken, and it was not healing.

Visiting the magnificent Lake Victoria and discovering massive bananas.
Visiting the magnificent Lake Victoria and discovering massive bananas.
Having the biggest sea food buffet of my life comprising of various varieties of lobsters, octopus, fish, prawn and crab.
Having the biggest sea food buffet of my life comprising of various varieties of lobsters, octopus, fish, prawn and crab.

 

I had realised that only I have the power over my happiness and hence I decided to give myself a chance to get away and truly be all by myself. And so, I bought a ticket to Thailand and Cambodia. It was not as easy as I thought.

Being alone, without any distractions, meant having to deal with my thoughts and fears all by myself. It scared me. I felt lonely.

I watched a movie, took tours, sat on the beach, and had many dinners all by my lonesome on that trip. I learnt that while on the one hand we are scared by the harm others might bring to us, on the other hand we are also afraid of the absence of others around us.

Being on my own, I would get scared about getting robbed or raped, but I learnt to overcome my fears. I also learnt to portray myself as being very confident to others around me. I was mindful of not doing anything stupid.

I became aware that I appeared younger than my age, which could be a disadvantage because to the world I looked like a teenage Indian/Mexican girl on a summer break/gap year. And a young kid alone is easy to take for granted or rob. Or worse. Because of this, I learnt how to dress and appear older while travelling.

Enjoying a view of the canal at Leidseplein - Amsterdam Centrum.
Enjoying a view of the canal at Leidseplein - Amsterdam Centrum.
At a Hindu temple located in Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, East Bali famous for the holy springwater bath.
At a Hindu temple located in Pura Tirtha Empul, Tampaksiring, East Bali famous for the holy springwater bath.

 

After South East Asia, I was curious to venture off into a completely different landscape. Europe had always held a great deal of fascination for me. The sophistication, history and culture, and most importantly, the architectural marvels, were calling out to me.

Moreover, Tomorrowland was once again happening, this time in Belgium and I was not over the magic and exhilaration I had experienced while attending it for the first time. And so I planned a trip to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and on the way back, Turkey.

I had wanted to travel to more cities, but my Schengen visa limited me to just 12 days. So in order to extend my trip, I decided to spend four days in Istanbul and Cappadocia .

 

After Europe, I was in a bit of a financial crunch. I had exhausted all my savings. I had also borrowed a little bit from a friend, which I returned over the course of the next three months following my return.

Toward the end of 2015, I got married and finances were no longer an impediment to my desire to travel. For our honeymoon, we travelled to Bali and Kuala Lumpur over a period of nine days - a heavenly treat all paid for by my husband.

Seven months after my honeymoon in 2016, I had an itch to travel again and this time, to Africa. I had saved money by then, and planned a three-week Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania itinerary.

Honeymooning in Bali.
Honeymooning in Bali.
Bungee jumping over River Nile in Uganda.
Bungee jumping over River Nile in Uganda.

 

After Africa, I took a small weekend trip to Dubai once again, this time with friends, to attend the Sensation White event. My husband bought me the event ticket as a birthday gift.

And recently in 2017, we planned a trip to Europe once again to attend Sensation in Amsterdam (the last flagship Sensation event in Netherlands). This time, we planned a backpacking, city-hopping trip, covering in three weeks, seven countries we really wanted to visit in Europe.

It started in Italy and from there to Zurich, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Amsterdam, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber (Germany), and ended in Prague.

And this is how I travelled, from 2014 till today, to more than 30 cities in South East Asia, Europe, and Africa, all the while pursuing a full time career in advertising.

Before embarking on a safari at Great Rift Valley viewpoint, Kenya.
Before embarking on a safari at Great Rift Valley viewpoint, Kenya.
Visit to Masai Village, Africa.
Visit to Masai Village, Africa.
Taking a surfing lesson on Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia.
Taking a surfing lesson on Kuta Beach in Bali, Indonesia.
River rafting on Mount Ayung, Indonesia.
River rafting on Mount Ayung, Indonesia.

 

Every time I planned a trip my approach was generally to see more places. I typically spent about three to five days in a city, not more, not less. This was not because I was counting countries, but because I was, in fact, counting experiences.

People often wonder how I can afford to travel so much. I have gotten nasty comments from trolls about daddy’s money on my Facebook page. Trust me, I have supported my family on multiple occasions, besides taking care of my own expenses and saving up for travel.

During the time I was working but was not allowed to travel, I saved all my money, planning to one day break free from the prison that my home had become and use the savings to fulfill my dream of travelling.

Walking amdist hundreds of tortoises at Prison Island, Zanzibar.
Walking amdist hundreds of tortoises at Prison Island, Zanzibar.
Walking the narrow lanes of Stone Town, Zanzibar.
Walking the narrow lanes of Stone Town, Zanzibar.

 

I prioritised saving over spending. Over the years I did not upgrade my lifestyle in proportion to the growth in my income.

I never lay emphasis on keeping up with the latest trends. One would never find me splurging on the latest designer wear. I made do with drugstore cosmetics and spent very conservatively on gadgets. I was perfectly happy owning an old iPhone and using car-hailing apps for my commute instead of buying a car.

The one thing I did indulge on was eating out and that too was not a regular occurence.

This is how I was able to save mostly half or more of what I made every month and put it in the form of dollars in my travel fund.

Kenyan savannah in Masai Mara National Reserve.
Kenyan savannah in Masai Mara National Reserve.

 

In the time spent saving up, I also spent time researching and planning for the destinations I’d like to visit in the coming months. I mostly booked all my flights myself rather than going to travel/tour agents, which saved me a considerable amount of money.

Over time, my spending priorities during travel have also seen changes. I no longer spend on touristy things as much as I used to. That means no hop-on hop-off tours or museum tickets for me.

One might wonder how I find the time to travel so much; how I am given so much time off from work. It may seem like I take a lot of days off, but actually I don’t.

In my first year with my current employer, I took a total of 22 working days off to travel and in the second year I took 24.That was it.

I had always managed to plan my trips craftily, utilising public holidays and ensuring weekends fell on both ends of my trip.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town in Germany.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a well-preserved medieval town in Germany.
From a balcony in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.
From a balcony in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.
Discovering the gorgeous river town, Salzburg.
Discovering the gorgeous river town, Salzburg.

 

Also, I had established from the start that travel is my only motivation to earn. My employers were indeed a group of very accommodating people who understood my passion as long as I was delivering on what was required of me.

While, my employers had been understanding, one might wonder if I find the same sort of support from my spouse. Well, I am happy to report that I have more than lucked out in that department.

My husband understands my passion for travelling and respects my goals. When I told him about my wish to travel to Africa a few months after our honeymoon, he told me to go right ahead.

I travelled to Africa, six months after my wedding, alone. I travelled to Kenya & Uganda all by myself, my husband joining me two weeks later in Tanzania.

Staying in a geo-dome on a lake island resort in Bunyonyi, Uganda.
Staying in a geo-dome on a lake island resort in Bunyonyi, Uganda.
Sunbathing and swimming for seven days on the gorgeous beaches of Zanzibar.
Sunbathing and swimming for seven days on the gorgeous beaches of Zanzibar.
Stuffing Zanzibari pizza and so much other sea food at the Forodhani street food market, East Africa.
Stuffing Zanzibari pizza and so much other sea food at the Forodhani street food market, East Africa.

 

Travelling also helped me broaden my mind. I understood the similarities in people. We are barely different from one another, no matter what geography, language or faith we follow.

Our ambitions are similar, our problems are similar, and our fears are the same. We are similar even in our desire to be different.

Travelling helped me realise the insignificance of the self. It helped me conquer my fears and anxieties. It introduced me to the biggest battle that I must win: against my own demons of self-doubt, procrastination, and narcissism.

It also made me aware of my addiction for the strange, unknown and new. It has helped me discover the explorer within myself, the wanderer that can’t stick to the same place.

Some people like the comfort that comes with familiarity. I enjoy the thrill that comes with uncertainty.

Partying with German girls at Fullmoon in Thailand.
Partying with German girls at Fullmoon in Thailand.

 

During those years spent travelling, I used to write my yearly goals every December, wondering about the meaning of success and how I wanted to define it for myself, and I found an answer.

I am going to count my achievements each year and each decade, not in terms of how much money I have earned, or to what extent my lifestyle has improved, or what is my job title is, but in terms of the new experiences and adventures I have had.

Because of these experiences, I realised that since I have found fulfillment in life through travelling, this was success for me.

Visiting Tomorrowland for the second time.
Visiting Tomorrowland for the second time.

 

Having defined success for my own self, I believe I must also inspire others to define success for themselves in their own unique way.

Travelling the world may not be everyone’s idea of success, but if success is to travel, then one must never be discouraged by circumstances, money, visa, or lack of knowledge about places.

I want to be the first Pakistani passport holder and woman to have travelled more than a 100 countries in her lifetime. My aim is to step on all continents, expand my understanding of the world, and share my experiences with people.

I want my fellow countrymen to travel, meet people of other religions, languages, and castes, etc and learn tolerance for other viewpoints.

What I want to tell all the girls reading this, is to be assertive. Carry in your eyes and in your whole presence the fire that fuels you. Let it be seen, and those who respect you and want to be a part of your life, will support you, eventually.

And to the men of my country I say: Have a big heart and an open mind. We only want to pursue our dreams, just like you do.

Getting charmed by the medieval UNESCO heritage city, Bruges.
Getting charmed by the medieval UNESCO heritage city, Bruges.

 

The street leading to Hrad Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The street leading to Hrad Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia.

فالج ایسا مرض ہے جس کے دوران دماغ کو نقصان پہنچتا ہے اور جسم کا کوئی حصہ مفلوج ہوجاتا ہے اور مناسب علاج بروقت مل جائے تو اس کے اثرات کو کم از کم کیا جاسکتا ہے تاہم اکثر لوگ اس جان لیوا مرض کی علامات کو دیگر طبی مسائل سمجھ لیتے ہیں اور علاج میں تاخیر ہوجاتی ہے۔

فالج کے دورے کے بعد ہر گزرتے منٹ میں آپ کا دماغ 19 لاکھ خلیات سے محروم ہو رہا ہوتا ہے اور ایک گھنٹے تک علاج کی سہولت میسر نہ آپانے کی صورت میں دماغی عمر میں ساڑھے تین سال کا اضافہ ہوجاتا ہے۔ علاج ملنے میں جتنی تاخیر ہوگی اتنا ہی بولنے میں مشکلات، یاداشت سے محرومی اور رویے میں تبدیلیوں جیسے مسائل کا خطرہ بڑھ جائے گا۔

فالج کو جتنا جلد پکڑلیا جائے اتنا ہی اس کا علاج زیادہ موثر طریقے سے ہوپاتا ہے اور دماغ کو ہونے والا نقصان اتنا ہی کم ہوتا ہے۔

فالج کی دو اقسام ہے ایک میں خون کی رگیں بلاک ہوجانے کے نتیجے میں دماغ کو خون کی فراہمی میں کمی ہوتی ہے، دوسری قسم ایسی ہوتی ہے جس میں کسی خون کی شریان سے دماغ میں خون خارج ہونے لگتا ہے۔ ان دونوں اقسام کے فالج کی علامات یکساں ہوتی ہیں اور ہر فرد کے لیے ان سے واقفیت ضروری ہے۔

ایک کی جگہ دو چیزیں نظر آنا

بنیائی کے مسائل جیسے کوئی ایک چیز دو نظر آنا، دھندلا پن یا کسی ایک آنکھ کی بنیائی سے محرومی فالج کی علامات ہوسکتے ہیں مگر بیشتر افراد ان علامات کو بڑھاپے یا تھکاوٹ کا نتیجہ سمجھ لیتے ہیں۔ طبی ماہرین کے مطابق تھکاوٹ یا بہت زیادہ مطالعے ایک چیز دو نظر آنا بالکل ممکن نہیں، درحقیقت خون کی ایک بلاک شریان آنکھوں کو درکار آکسیجن کی مقدار کو کم کردیتی ہے جس کے نتیجے میں بنیائی کے مسائل کا باعث بنتے ہیں اور اس دوران فالج کی دیگر علامات بھی ظاہر نہیں ہوتیں۔

ہاتھ پیروں کا سن ہوجانا

اگر آپ دوپہر کو کچھ دیر کی نیند لے کر اٹھتے ہیں اور آپ کے ہاتھ یا پیر سن یا بے حس ہورہے ہو تو آسانی سے تصور کیا جاسکتا ہے کہ یہ اعصاب دب جانے کا نتیجہ ہے۔ تاہم طبی ماہرین کا کہنا ہے کہ اگر آپ کا ہاتھ اچانک بے حس یا کمزور ہوجائے تو یہ کیفیت چند منٹوں میں دور نہ ہو تو فوری طبی امداد کے لیے رابطہ کیا جانا چاہئے۔ ان کے بقول شریانوں میں ریڑھ کی ہڈی سے دماغ تک خون کی روانی میں کمی کے نتیجے میں جسم کا ایک حس سن یا کمزور ہو جاتا ہے۔

بولنے میں مشکلات

کچھ ادویات جیسے درد کش گولیوں کے استعمال کے بعد بولنے میں ہکلاہٹ یا مشکلات کا سامنا ہوتا ہے اور لوگ سوچتے ہیں یہ ان کی دوا کا اثر ہے مگر یہ فالج کی علامت بھی ہوسکتا ہے۔ طبی ماہرین کے مطابق اگر اس سے پہلے یہی دوا استعمال کرنے پر آپ کو کسی قسم کے سائیڈ ایفیکٹ کا سامنا نہ ہوا تو پھر یہ فالج کی ایک علامت ہوسکتا ہے او رآپ کو فوری طور پر طبی امداد کے لیے رابطہ کرنا چاہئے۔

سوچنے میں مشکل

جب لوگوں کو درست الفاظ کے انتخاب یا کسی چیز کے بارے میں پوری توجہ سے سوچنے میں مشکلات کا سامنا ہوتا ہے تو اکثر وہ اسے تھکن کا نتیجہ قرار دیتے ہیں۔ مگر اچانک دماغی صلاحیتوں میں کمی فالج کی عام علامت میں سے ایک ہے۔ طبی ماہرین کے مطابق ایک لمحے کے لیے تو سوچنے میں مشکل کا سامنا کسی بھی فرد کو ہوسکتا ہے مگر اس کا دورانیہ اگر بڑھ جائے تو یہ باعث تشویش ہے۔ ان کے بقول کئی بار تو مریضوں کو یہ اندازہ ہی نہیں ہوتا کیا چیز غلط ہے کیونکہ ان کا دماغ کام نہیں کررہا ہوتا اور ان کے سوچنے کی صلاحیت متاثر ہوتی ہے۔

آدھے سر کا درد

ہوسکا ہے کہ یہ محض آدھے سر کا درد ہی ہو مگر یہ تکلیف آپ کو پہلے سے متاثر نہ کرتی رہی ہو تو یہ فالج کی علامت بھی ہوسکتا ہے۔ طبی ماہرین بتاتے ہیں کہ آدھے سر کے درد یا مائیگرین میں فالج بھی چھپا ہوسکتا ہے کیونکہ ان دونوں امراض میں دماغی علامات ایک جیسی ہی ہوتی ہیں۔ ماہرین کے بقول آدھے سر کے درد کے شکار افراد کو اس کا علاج فالج کی طرح ہی کرانا چاہئے اور ڈاکٹروں سے مدد لینی چاہئے۔

When I gave up meat, four years ago, my family and friends were convinced that I would revert to the oh-so-juicy goodness of animal protein the very next day.

But, as time passed and they realised that I was serious about it, the deliberations started, with an intent to bring me back to ‘sanity’. I was open to discussions, but I had given it a lot of thought over the years, so it wasn't something I was just going to snap out of. It wasn't a fad, it wasn't a phase, and it certainly wasn't a ploy to lose weight.

After a while, people close to me gave up on convincing me otherwise and started respecting my decision, even accommodating me with good vegetarian cuisine when possible. But, out in the larger society, the responses were varied and ranged from bemused to utterly shocked.

The social nuisance

When I go out to a dinner where people are not yet aware of my vegetarian diet, and decline the offer of a meat-based dish, people almost always respond with, “Take a little bit at least” or “At least give it a try”. Their first reaction is that I am a little snobbish about food, or that I have had some bad experiences with meat dishes and that their food would change my opinion, if only I tried.

After reiterating that I have given up meat and don't eat it at all, quite a few folks go on to suggest a chicken-based item. This, I guess, is because they assume I have been medically advised to give up red meat.

When I clarify again that I don't eat any kind of meat, most people just go blank. And I kid you not, some still counter-offer and ask if I would like to try some seafood instead?

Better yet, when there's some kind of a meat-curry, many suggest that the gravy should still be fair game.

It is only after they have exhausted all their efforts, do people dishearteningly allow me to feast on the usually lone vegetable dish they had not expected anyone to indulge in. Large public gatherings like wedding ceremonies are especially hard to negotiate because most of our society considers it below themselves to include any vegetarian dishes in the menu – "loag kya kahenge ke kitney cheap hain (people would think we are so poor)."

Once the matter of what I will eat is settled, they are suddenly hit with a pang of curiosity and start inquiring about the reason for my vegetarian diet. Most people automatically assume it to be a medical reason and ask only to validate their assertion. When I deny, their curiosity multiplies and they push further with a desire partially to inquire, and partially to convince me otherwise.

When I tell them that my personal moral compass does not allow me to, they feel it's their duty to reason with me. It isn't unusual for the discussion to turn into a heated argument, so I had to train myself to politely back out of it or steer the conversation to a different topic.

These discussions become extra sensitive when people bring religion into them or start throwing labels like 'ungrateful'.


After a few of these conversations, I realised that the issue makes people touchy and insecure because my defending a personal belief and choice makes them feel like their own beliefs are being threatened.


I have learned my lesson though, and unless I am dead sure the person at the other end of the conversation is on the same wavelength as I am, I rarely encourage the discussion. On occasions when I was too tired to argue, I even lied, admitting to it being a medical reason.

I can't say people have been condescending or judgmental, but I can see the nods of disagreements almost everywhere the topic is discussed. In countries like the US where people are more used to vegetarians, I don’t raise many eyebrows (but they do get shocked sometimes when I reveal I am not an Indian and this is not a religious thing).

Is it easy being a vegetarian in Pakistan?

Even though it's more of a social nuisance to be a vegetarian in Pakistan, I prefer the food scene here because of the breadth of vegetables you can get and the delicious ways they are cooked. I can eat chapatti and sabzi every day. In both places though, if you are eating out, most of the non-meat choices are full of staples or grains and not exactly vegetables, which makes it a tad harder to eat healthy.

People often ask me if I still crave meat, and honestly, there are times when I crave meat, a lot. No matter how strong-willed you are, when the aroma of a well-cooked chicken tikka, badami qorma or a juicy mushroom swiss burger tantalises you, it's very hard to ignore.

But just like we control a lot of our other desires that contradict our ideologies, this one also becomes a hard-but-necessary act of self-restraint. The craving becomes much less frequent as time passes. There are some soy-based proteins available that taste just like meat but I usually avoid them because of the large amount of preservatives and artificial ingredients in them.

Another question I am always bombarded with is whether I would eat meat for my survival; for example, let's say I am trapped in a jungle and it is the only thing available to me. My answer is always a resounding "Yes". Just like everything else I choose, my choice of what to eat should also have a degree of flexibility. In fact, there have already been a couple of occasions when I was really hungry and not so well, and had to eat meat because nothing else was available.

Did I like doing that? No. But I understand the importance of eating meat over starving on these rare occasions.

Also read: Why is India called a vegetarian country when two-thirds of Indians eat meat?

I am usually also asked about how I feel or what difference it has made in my life. To be honest, it feels amazing. I don't feel heavy after a meal, I don't crash a few minutes after a meal, and yes, it did make a tremendous difference in turning me into a calmer person.

Moreover, if I keep a good vegetarian diet (lots of vegetables) as opposed to an unhealthy vegetarian diet (lots of grains/staples), I also get a large amount of really important micro-nutrients that help a human body in healing itself. I have, over these last few years, fallen less sick with day-to-day ailments than when I was not a vegetarian.

I should clarify that my purpose here is not to convince anybody to become a vegetarian. Eating meat or giving it up, are both completely personal choices that each of us should make independently. All I am saying is, I made mine and expect people to respect it.

login with social account

12.png

Images of Kids

Events Gallery

Currency Rate

/images/banners/muzainirate.jpg

 

As of Sat, 16 Dec 2017 19:54:21 GMT

1000 PKR = 2.758 KWD
1 KWD = 362.529 PKR

Al Muzaini Exchange Company

Go to top