Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sabeen / Lok Sabha TV Interview

While Sabeen and I were in India my niece (Sahar) came to see me. Her husband (Dhiraj) asked me to appear on a TV Interview for Lok Sabha, a station that he was working with. I said Sabeen would be an even better person to interview, since she's young and a lot of your viewers are young, too. So he agreed and put Sab on. Here is her interview for those who may have missed it.

بچھڑا كچھ اس ادا سے كہ رت ہی بدل گئ
اك  شخص  سارے شہر  كو  ویران  كر گیا

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Its been 6 months, Ragni …

This was the oldest picture I have of Sabeen. It was on her Nana's bedside table. It is now on her Nani's wall. Although she hated having her pictures taken — and shouted at me for 'shooting' her when she was not expecting it — she really liked this one.

Ragni was about five when she became closer to Sabeen,

… and a bit of sibling rivalry existed. Ragni felt that I'd laugh at what Sab did, and she tried to do the same things, but at the wrong times. Sab, for example, would get up to go home from our library, but before leaving she'd jump on several cushions, jump down again, and say goodbye and rush off the door. Ragni would see me laugh. A little later, while I was very seriously listening to Classical Music, Ragni would repeat what Sab had done. I'd say, "Ragni, not now, please …". She'd go to Nuzhat and say, sobbingly, "Abi loves it when Sabeen does it, but gets angry when I do it." (Sorry, Ragni. That wasn't planned at all - as you may have thought, then.)

Oldest Picture of Sabeen and Me together

Sabeen soon became like a daughter to me …

and was followed shortly by being part of our extended family.

Ragni and Sabeen's love developed into a much greater friendship. They'd write to each other often when Sab was at Kinnaird College, Lahore. Here is a piece from Sabeen at that time. (Sab called me Abi, just as Ragni does.)

When Sabeen left college she started working with us.

Ragni, Jehan Ara, Nuzhat, and Sabeen, with me.

This was us celebrating my CD-ROM Sabeen had helped make: "Faiz: Aaj Kay Naam". Her love for everything she did always came through. This, though, was her favourite piece, she always said. Hopefully next year I will have put it together again since the old item won't run well on todays Macs and Windows machine.

Sabeen was 10 years older than Ragni, but Ragni always said Sab was her 'younger sister'. She said to us, "Sabeen arrived in your house after me".

I found this in her photo collection the other day.

Whenever Sab returned from Lahore on vacations, she'd always come to our house the same day. On  Ragni's birthday, we gave Ragni an iBook. Here she is with Sab and me in the Library.

Ragni's days at college, her work, her marriage, and her home, were always things that she spoke to Sabeen about. Much more than I had known. At one time we were trying to get in touch with Ragni on Skype … but she'd say she was busy and would talk later. Two nights later Sabeen came and told me that she'd been having long discussions with Ragni on Skype and we could talk to her now. Hmmm. So it was something Ragni wanted to discuss with Sab but not with us, until she was sure. Ok. That's what sisters are for, I guess.

Sabeen cooked a lovely meal on her birthday and we were there with her and her mother, Mimi (Mahenaz). Ragni was overjoyed at Sab's cooking … specially the desert.

Every time Sabeen went to the USA she'd pay Ragni a visit. 


This was the last pic I got of them together in Karachi.


Six months earlier, on 24th April 2015, Sab was assassinated.


Ragni was, like a lot of us, devastated.

She held a memorial in Brooklyn for Sabeen.

Many of her friends came.


This is a corner of Ragni's home now.


… and, dearest Sab, we all miss you more than you'll ever know!

Friday, October 2, 2015

BBC Outlook : Nuz and I

Nuzhat and I were invited
to the BBC Karachi Studios
for a talk on their program, "Outlook'.

It was the 11th of April, 2011.
Was my father's 111th birthday, actually.

Had it happened when he was alive,
we'd have listened to the program on his Ecko Radio.


But it was now years later,
so this is how the Recording came back to us.

Just thought it might be nice to play it
for all of you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's 5 months today …

Whether it was me wearing Sab's designed T-Shirt
and talking to grieving colleagues at T2F

… or whether it was someone visiting Dil Phaink
(in London) and writing her views on the wall

… Sabeen's assassination hit people everywhere.

There was music in Tunisia in remembrance of her.

There were marches, protests, meetings, seminars
in all the countries you can imagine.

People who knew her in her life were devastated.

People who knew her after her death cried uncontrollably.

A few days ago I received this card from the USA.

Thank you, Olivia Beggins, for the Candle you lit,
for your love for her, and for all of us.
Much love.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Abi … 11.04.1900 - 19.09.1963

Azhar Kidvai was born in Rampur (India) on 11th April, 1900

My father, Abi is what I called him, was named Azhar Kidvai by his father (Safdar Ali). Abi was also named Khaaqaan Alam (many people had two names in the olden days), but he rarely used this name after he grew up. In Urdu his name (ازہر قدوائ) had a ز and not ظ. Why? Think of Jaamaé Al Azhar. It means another thing when you write it with ظ. In English it was spelt with a K instead of Q. Why? Because the name is Turkish. Kidvais are descendants of Kazi Kidva who was a Turkish Judge under King Baber's rule. There is no Q for ق. There's just a K. Think of Koran. Also, و is written as V in Turkish, not W. Here is an image of their full alphabet.

The W for و was added when Hindustani Transliteration took place … earlier than Turkish Transliteration. This changed و into a W, despite the fact that the pronunciation is that of V.

A picture from a London Collection of Family Logos.
I have this in my house now in wood and brass.
The Latin translated to English means "I shall not altogether die'.

He went to MAO (Aligarh School and College) and did a BA in English Literature. Was arrested for his political views by the Brits ruling India. Later, he became a Doctor, was a Major in the British Forces during the Second World War. He was also a poet, a writer of stories and essays, and a great lover of classical music (Indian and Western). He sang fairly well, but only among friends. He used to do a wonderful Scottish accent, after having passed his Medicine from Edinburgh. He lived and practiced in Monifieth, a small town in Scotland.

His father, Safdar Ali, did send him there but then refused to send him money, though he had a lot of it. Abi's life there was odd, because of a lack of funds. He eventually was put into hospital where one of his kidneys had to be removed. I heard this from his friends, while he was alive. I asked him and he said he would never have told me this, because it was "between me and my father". (His father died in Dacca several years after Abi's death.)

Abi was an Atheist in his early life, but eventually became a rather strong Muslim. In his last few years one could always see him with a tasbeeeh, reciting his words of faith. He said eight prayers every day: the five Farz many do, plus Tahajjüd, Chaasht, and Ishraq. The last time he prayed was only a few minutes before his death.

Despite being a strong Muslim and reading several religious books, he also read extensively in English and Urdu — Fiction and Non-Fiction. He introduced the writers to me, just as he gave me my love of music.

A strong Congress-person, he decided that we'd stay in Delhi … but our house and his clinic were burnt down so he migrated to Pakistan on a temporary basis (in 1947). Dr. Syed Mahmud (my wife Nuzhat's naana) and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said to him that the troubles in Pakistan would end in 5-6 months and we'd be 'good neighbours later'. These things never happened and showed how little the Congress knew what lay ahead.

Abi died at the age of 63, after several repeated heart attacks over the years, heavy diabetes, a constant ringing in his ears, occasional faintings, and - finally - a brain haemorrhage at Anklesaria Clinic, Karachi. He seemed well as I saw him, arriving in Karachi the day before from my trip. Sadly I was on duty on the ship that night/morning and did not see him pass away.


This blogpost, 52 years after his death, is to tell you of a new website that I have started putting up.It will get ready in a week or two but there are enough things there for you to see.

1. Yaad Daasht

2. Links: A collection of my previous blogposts about him.

3. Stories that were written from 1928 onwards and were published as Nai Paod (نئ پود) in 1939, two years after he wrote his last playlet. The original cover and the inside page (Printed 1000 copies : Price Re 1), are also scanned and shown here.

These are followed by scans from his own handwriting.
(In some places it has not been possible to remove the paper lines.)

4. Ghazals, that were kept in a ruled booklet and named Parvaaz. 

5. Rübaais, Qit'aas, Nazms - which were filed under a small folder, called Parvaaz 2.

6. Humorous verses which Abi wrote under the takhallüs 'Shaikh Ji'. He put them in a separate collection, called Laghv Goi.

7. Tasveerayñ — a collection of some images. More will be added as I find them.


This collection is dedicated to Nuzhat, who constantly insisted that I must print Abi's works. She loved the idea that I was going to print it with scanned images as far as the poems were concerned. It is also co-dedicated to our daughter, Ragni Marea, who loved her grandfather's stories.

Sabeen Mahmud loved his stories that I read out to her. I also recited a few of his verses. She had one piece on her softboard in her office. She wanted me to publish his works, specially in his own writings, under T2F's planned idea of opening up a publishing unit. That never happened.

The collection is now on the Internet
where many will be able to read it.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ghulam Abbas (aka Babu)

Sabeen Mahmud's Driver, Babu,
was shot dead at his home in Korangi.

He was working in
Anti-Corruption Department (Karachi).

He was in the back seat of the car that
Sabeen was driving when she was assassinated.

Twitter, Facebook, and the TV, informed many people.

Then Dawn came out with Police's investigative report.


While I was trying to find out what the Police is saying about Babu's murder, I came across these stories in different media.

Which one should I believe?

1. He was killed outside his house (while coming back from prayers) by two motorcyclists who fired 4 shots. Bullets were recovered. People said the two had been to his house two days earlier.

2. He had gone out to meet two people who had called at his house for two days. He went out. Spoke to them. A third person arrived. They had a discussion. There was an altercation by Babu and the third person. The person pulled out a gun and shot him. They all ran away. People knew two of them.

3. He went out to talk to two people who, his daughter said, were his friends. He spoke to them outside and they shot him and left. She knows them and informed the police.

4.  One newsgroup was told by the police that this had to do with Sabeen's murder and all witnesses to that assassination should take care. Police is organising extra security.

5. One newsgroup was informed by the police that this was a private matter and Sabeen's murder had nothing to do with it.

6. Slain social worker Sabeen Mahmud’s driver Ghulam Abbas was not killed over any personal issue; he was killed by the members of a banned outfit according to police.

7. GeoNews said The constable (Ghulam Abbas) worked part-time as T2F director Sabeen Mahmud’s driver.
Quaidabad sub-divisional police officer Rao Mohammad Iqbal said two men visited Abbas’ house and when they were told that the constable had gone to a nearby mosque for prayers, they went after him and shot him.
The constable was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where he succumbed to his injuries. He had suffered bullet wounds to his chest.
Counter-terrorism department official Raja Umer Khattab said the constable was the prime witness in the T2F director’s murder case and had identified the main suspect, Saad Aziz, as the attacker.
The official said the same men had visited the constable’s house two days ago, but he was not there. He added that Abbas was sitting in the backseat of Mahmud’s car when she was attacked.
“The security of other witnesses in the case has become a concern now,” Khattab said.

8. The official (Khattab) said the trial of Mahmud’s murder case was almost over and the suspects were on the verge of being convicted but the prime witnesses had been killed. “The constable had witnessed the entire attack.”
Khattab suspected that al Qaeda Indian Subcontinent could be behind the attack."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Congrats Beaconhouse!

In November 2015 it will be the 40th Year of Beaconhouse. Having moved from a Montessori that Mrs Nasreen Kasuri opened in Lahore, it is now the world's largest chain of schools with institutions in many different countries.

Mrs Kasuri has handed the Schools to her son, Kasim. His younger brother, Nassir, is the Regional Director in the North Area.

This year there will be three conferences by Beaconhouse: Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi. They will be open to the Public, when, in the past these 5 year conferences were only for the people within Beaconhouse. I have been helping them from their very first conference and am a Consultant, again, for this one.

Speakers and Panelists come from all over the world to these conferences and many more will come this year. Be sure to attend them if you are in one of these cities.


It will be 26 years since the following article appeared on The Friday Times. KK's Micro Magazine was brilliant. He and his cousin, Mehreen Kasuri, worked very hard to keep it going.


Click on the article to enlarge it.
Use the Magnifier to make it even bigger.

Micro had an "International Computer Exhibition" that he still laughs about for all the things they did.  I was part of the Exhibition, getting some speakers and a couple of exhibitors. Sabeen Mahmud, who was at Kinnaird College then, used to appear at the Micro Office and help me with her Apple Computer.


Mrs N Kasuri and her sons are my two separate set of friends.

(I met Mr Khurshid Kasuri formally after I met Mrs K,
and was surprised to find that he and I were at GC, Lahore at the same time,
in the same year, in different classes.)

Congrats to them all.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sabeen and The Friday Times

In 1992, soon after Sabeen had joined Kinnaird College (Lahore), she was featured in TFT's Eye Catchers. She had a an early Mac Computer that she'd taken there. She couldn't live without it. She ended up paying the College Rs 140 per month, 'because it takes too much electricity', said the Superintendent. But having the computer on payment, she decided to do the college magazines and ran to printers and had it published and distributed. The college made her do all this because she loved it. But it never stopped charging her the Rs 140!

When I read this piece I was surprised that she wanted to join my company, This was the first 'job application' I had received via a newspaper :)

The company that they mention, where she learned a lot, was also my company - Solutions Unlimited - now run by my wife, Nuzhat. Sabeen had become part of it while trying to study computers from one our employees … and stayed there every moment she got.

She was brilliant!

Click on image to enlarge it

Sabeen stayed on until I moved and formed BITS (Beyond Information Technology Solutions), giving away Enabling Technologies to Jehan Ara (now at P@SHA and the Nest I/O). But before she and I moved to BITS, she had done superb work at ET: The IBM CD, the 50 Years of Art CD, and the excellent Faiz CD: Aaj Kay Naam. None of these have ever had an equivalent in Pakistan.

In a few years I decided that she'd done so much for me and the industry that I gifted her 50% of my ownership of BITS … and she and I became partners.Years later she decided to form an NGO and took over the 2nd Floor office where I'd had part of my company.

She was also featured in a Salma Warraich article when she opened T2F (The Second Floor) on Khayaban-e-Ittehad at the age of 23 …

Sabeen was the most amazing person I've ever met!

Click on image to enlarge it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

When I was a TFT Cartoonist …

I made a strip of  cartoons for the The Friday Times, from 1990 to 1993 … you'll see most of them in my Cartoon Blog coming up fairly soon.

The Blog will be called - partly because Jugnu Mohsin or Najam Sethi put my cartoons as 'Signs of the Times' in TFT. I hated the title. Still do. But that's how some people remember it.

I had two cartoons which featured Sabeen Mahmud during those years. She was part of my Solutions Unlimited in a non-official way. But I don't think that company would have been the same without her.

Although these cartoons will also be on my blog, I though I'd put them up here, too. Just for you, Sab.

The first: 1990

Click on image to see it larger

The second: 1992

Click on image to see it larger

Sabeen appeared two more times in TFT years ago.
You'll see that in my next post.

Monday, July 13, 2015

This is the beginning …

"Ships and Shoes and Sealing Wax"

… that was supposed to be the title of my book. A collection of my memories, friends, families, extended families. Wrote a few pages - around 50, I think  - and then destroyed them. Why should anyone want to read my nonsense. Mentioned this to Nuzhat, Ragni, Jehan, and Sabeen. Everyone insisted that I should do so. I tried. But no real luck.

Meanwhile, Sabeen asked me to start a blog. Which I did. Its called Windmills of My Mind. I mentioned this book many times in my blogposts, hoping I will do that some day. But nothing ever came out.

I just thought my blog may have a lot of things that could go into a book. Someone suggested I put together the whole thing in a book-type blog - selecting some, removing a lot - and I thought that would have to be on a DVD. After all, there were Audios and Videos that needed to be in it, too, apart from pictures.

Now Sadia Khatri and I are going to work on this starting tomorrow. Figure out the best way possible. I would like to put a collection of my blogposts because Ragni and Sabeen have been insisting a lot and Nuzhat and Jehan have added to those two views. My birthday is the final date.

Update: 29th July 2015

After much discussion all of us have decided
that I do these posts
in their chronological order
and put them up in a series of iBooks.


My mooñh-boli baytee, Sabeen Mahmud, assassinated by who-knows-who on April 24th, 2015, had various discussions with me for things that I will start mentioning here …


Sabeen loved my Abi's handwriting and insisted that whenever I decide to publish his poetry, it should be in his own hand. I had always wanted to do that, too. So did Nuzhat. But the costs seemed so high. Now they have all been scanned and are available as .jpg …

"Your father's prose, the pieces you and Nuzhat Aunty read out, must be printed. It'll be our first book when we start the publishing section. This year." — Sadly, that never happened.

This year, by Abi's death anniversary, I'll do it. It's a promise. All his poems and his stories and his essays.

Update: 31st July 2015

Lots of discussions held with three friends.
Sadia Khatri will start work on an Urdu Website tomorrow.


"Wow. What a delightful interview. It's a privilege to be part of your family. I wept." — This was related to a BBC Interview of Nuz and I. Sabeen asked me to put it up on my Blog but I thought it wasn't right. Now I guess I will … any day on this blog.


"There's lots of new stuff on our music that you can write and put on your blog, Zak." OK, Sab. This blog will start with my iBooks. They'll be about Qavvaalis and move on to other forms of our classical and semi-classical music.

(Sorry folks, but while the iBooks can be Downloaded on Macs, they can't be seen on a Windows machine.)


"Aadaab . Where are all your cartoons, Zakadoodle? Maybe we can have an exhibition of them."  " … many of them may not be current, specially the Political ones. Just forget about them …" "Crapathon. Lets get them all at T2F. You talk about them. LOL! Hope it's rowdy and badtameez as it should be." — Well. I'll put up a blog and have all of them in it, soon. 


"75 this year. Wowee. Let's do a talkathon with you. I'll mail you the list of what we'll ask you and you tell the T2F group what you were really like. Hahaha. I can conduct the interview. Yechhh. What a shitty term. Interviewwwhahaha. Want someone else?" 

This was to be this year in October. I have her list that she sent me. It's a bit large. I am not sure I can answer so many things but will try to do some. Maybe I'll start on a Videocast or even a Podcast … and try to live my crazy life again. There will be no T2F sessions, that's for sure. Just me and a camera. Or a microphone. Where will you see it? Maybe here. Maybe YouTube. Let's wait. 


The last message on the phone!

"Awwwww. I love you!
Had such a great morning with you today."

20.06.1974 — 24.04.2015