Saturday, December 24, 2016

I miss the speed at which Sab changed her graphics!

I miss your designs, Sab.
And I miss your improvements.

One Christmas you sent me a design that you'd share
with your T2F friends.

You sent me this first.

I thought the Image was OK,
but not brilliant.

You sent me this again, in 30 minutes.
with a Title that said
"I won't stop until I get it right".

I thought this was OK,
But it wasn't quite you.

You sent me this in just another hour.

"DONE", I said.

And that's the way it finally stayed.

Just look at what you did in under 2 hours

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Etymology - 1 (Kind of …)

Please click the above and go to the actual post.
There are some links
(including Sabeen's)
you may have missed.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A Year and a Half

Has it really been that long, Sab?
18 months?

I drink my Coffee every day
from the lovely mugs you gave me.

Remember this in 1988?

It was the first mug you gave me at Solutions Unlimited.
You had just come back from England.
We had hardly talked very much by then.
You were at KGS and came to our office to learn computers.
You fell in love with the Mac.
When you gave me this you were not sure if I would like it,
or would i just say 'Thank You' and put it aside.
I loved it and put it on my table.
Shireen's little son came a little later and saw it.
Poor kid. He started to cry.
Told Shireen that I was retiring.
I would not be at SU again.
Time passed.
Years later, in 2000, you gave me another mug.

There never is Life before Coffee.
(Although now, it seems, there isn't much life after Coffee, either.)
I brought it home and used it for years as my favourite mug.
It was, very recently, in the centre of my mug collection.
Now it is back again with my Espresso Maker.
And you finally gave me this mug.
2013 was when I got it when you came back from UK.

How wonderful.
My favourite book.
Now on a Penguin Mug.
Its the one I drink Coffee from, often.
(I have a lovely picture of you drinking from it)

But today I will put all those mugs away.
I don't ever want to break them.
Shatter them.
They cannot leave me.
But you did!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Has it been that long ago?

Doodle by Sabeen

17 months!

It seems like just a few days ago we were talking.

I often think you have gone on a long trip
and will be back soon …

… and Jaadu feels the same way.

 We all miss you, baby.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Remembering you …

Dearest Sabeen

There are many things about you
that I recall every moment.

Here are some:

Nuzhat, Me, Ragni, Jehan Ara, Sabeen
The Brilliant (YES!) Interactive Faiz CD - Aaj Kay Naam.
Your Authorware Programming was the best.
Nothing close to it has ever come out of Pakistan.

Sabeen & Her Nana
Even the death of your wonderful Nana, who loved you so much,
didn't stop you from completing the CD on time.
You were always totally committed.

Sabeen at Apple's Office Garden
I think so often of our trip to Apple on your 21st birthday.

Sabeen at my house fixing Macs.
Our love of Apple and Macs
that led you to so many things including
being invited to the USA launch of the First iPhone.

Your Facebook quotes and conversations with friends. 
This was to Sara and there were many to other friends.

While this is to me (and I was not sure I can put it here)
I did want to say this:
While you called me your Mentor
(and many people still say I was)
it was what any older person would (should!) do
for someone much younger.

Then you grew up and I was no longer your Mentor.
and now I have none!

Sabeen serving us food on her birthday
I loved your unbelievable passion for everything you did!

Protesting about violence in Karachi
You came with Nuzhat and me, at first,
to our early protest marches …
but moved on (wholeheartedly) to attend and protest 
at gatherings that mourned the deaths of
Sunnis, Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and more.

At KPC after Awab, Sabeen, & I
had a session on the banning of YouTube.
This was a dangerous moment. I always remember
asking you to leave from the back door
because ghoondaas on trucks were
announcing our names and phone numbers
to get people to reach us and attack.

(While we left just before the crowd got to us, 
Dr. Awab and Farieha Aziz were stuck inside
and had to be escorted out by the police much later.)

Sabeen looking at a tree planted by Yoko Ono.
(Yoko's note on the tree is visible top right.)
I often think of our wonderful day at MOMA
on our last trip together.

Sabeen with Fawzia Mirza at T2F.
Whether someone met you for a very little while …

Sabeen & Marvi Mazhar
or for a few years …

Ragni & Sabeen
or maybe a little longer
(like an adopted Sis)

Sabeen, Mahenaz, Seema
… or you had known all your life:

(And you loved them back!)

Rest in Power

I'll end with your lovely old poem

Sabeen Mahmud
30 November 2007 ·
i am tired.

tired of running
tired of the struggle
tired of arguing
tired of explaining
tired of the machinations of the rich tired of the mumbo jumbo
tired of the greedy
tired of the bored
tired of the dumb
tired of the petty
tired of waiting for another day tired of being polite
tired of corporate crime
tired of generals
tired of taxes
tired of banks
tired of coping
tired of the silence
tired of the battles
tired of the smug
tired of the manipulators
tired of being tired
tired of life

stop the world. i want to get off.

Monday, July 25, 2016

15 months …

You are remembered everywhere, Sab!

It was almost four years ago that you walked into my library and found me crying. The first thing you said, and rightly, was, "Are you thinking of your father?"

My father died in 1963 and I have cried about him often. Every time I saw a lovely film, read a wonderful book, heard a delightful song, got transported by a piece of classical music, listened to a remarkable performance of a Qavvaali, or found a superb shayr, I thought of him. And, very very often, I sobbed. It has been over half a century and this still happens to me.

You've been gone for 15 months and I cry just as often … for the same reasons that I listed for my father. I miss your friendship beyond belief. I miss your conversations, your humour, your laughter…


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

کاشف نصیر - صبین کے قتل پر

ایک اور آواز خاموش ہوئی

مصنف: کاشف نصیر 
وقت: پیر، 27 اپریل 2015

آنکھوں میں چمک، چہرے پر امید سے لبریز تازگی، لب پر مسکراہٹ، لہجے میں اپنائیت اور دل پھیک انداز بیان، وہ جب بولتی تو سامع سننا چاہتا، وہ جب سنتی تو مقرر بولنا چاہتا۔ خاموش اور بامہر زبانوں کو جرأت اظہار اور قوت گویائی کی تقسیم گویا اسکی متعہ زندگی تھی اور اسی جرم کی پاداش میں خود اسکی اپنی زبان کو ہمیشہ ہمیشہ کے لئے خاموش کردیا گیا۔
صبین محمود اب اس دنیا میں نہیں ہے لیکن اس نے اپنی مختصر سی زندگی کو بھرپور، متحرک اور بےباک گزارا۔ کنیرڈ کالج لاہور سے گریجویشن کے بعد اس نے اپنے کیرئیر کا آغاز ایک ماہرِ ٹکنالوجی کے طور پر کیا۔ اپنے استاد اور رفیق زہیر قدوأی اور سافٹ ویر صنعت کی جہاں آراء کے ساتھ ملکر پاکستان میں پہلی بار ملٹی میڈیا سی ڈیز متعارف کرائیں جن میں فیض احمد فیض کے کلام پر مبنی سی ڈی آج بھی اپنی مثال آپ ہے۔
اسکے اندر ایک عجیب سی بے چینی تھی جیسے کوئی بپھرا سمندر اسکے وجود سے باہر نکلنے کے لئے بے تاب ہو۔ یہ بے تابی اسے کبھی سکون سے بیٹھنے نہیں دیتی تھی۔ 2007 میں جب پاکستان میں سوشل میڈیا نے سر اٹھایا تو جیسے اسکے ہاتھوں میں جنت کی کوئی کنجی لگ گئی ہو۔ بلاگرز اور آن لائن دانشوروں کو متحرک کرنے اور ایک دوسرے سے قریب لانے کے لئے اس نے لاتعداد کانفرنس، سمٹ اور میلے منعقد کروائے۔
وہ ایک سچی اور کھری لبرل دانشور تھی۔ اسکی ترقی پسند سوچ، مطالعہ، قوت برداشت اور رواداری اسے جعلی لبرلز سے نمایاں طور پر جدا کرتی تھیں۔ آپ اس سے ہر بات پر اختلاف کرسکتے تھے لیکن کسی بھی اختلافی نقطے پر اسکے چہرے کا رنگ نہیں بدلتا تھا۔ وہ نظریاتی رواداری کی قائل تھی اور ڈائیلاگ اسکا ہتھیار تھا۔ اگست 2012 میں اس نے ہند و پاک سوشل میڈیا سمٹ کا انعقاد کیا تو میں نے اس تقریب میں امریکی سفارت خانے کے کردار اور ایک مخصوص طبقے کو پاکستان کی واحد آواز کے طور پر پیش کرنے پر شدید تنقید کی۔  یہی تنقید آگے چل کر ہماری دوستی کا سبب بنی۔
اس نے معاشرے میں بلا خوف و خطر گفتگو کی روایت کو زندہ کرنے، تخلیق کاروں کو ذہنی بانجھ پن سے نکالنے، طلبہ و طالبات میں غیر نصابی کتب کا شوق پیدا کرنے اور عام لوگوں کو کھل کر زندگی جینے کا حوصلہ دینے کے لئے ایک گوشہ عافیت “ٹی ٹو ایف” قائم کیا تھا، جہاں گزشتہ آٹھ سالوں سے روزانہ کی بنیاد پر کوئی نہ کوئی تقریب ضرور منعقد ہوتی۔ کبھی شعر و ادب کی محفل برپا ہوتی تو کبھی لکھاری مل بیٹھتے، کبھی ساز اور سر کی لو چھیڑی جاتی تو کبھی مصوری کی نمائش اور مقابلے منعقد ہوتے اور کبھی محفل سماع سجتی۔
میری اس سے متعدد ملاقاتیں ہوئی اور اس نے کم و بیش ہر ملاقات میں اس اندیشے کا اظہار کیا کہ اسے دیکھا جارہا ہے، اسکی حرکات پر نظر رکھی جاتی ہیں اور اسے نشانہ بھی بنایا جاسکتا ہے۔ اسکا ہر دوست اسکے اندیشوں سے باخبر تھا۔
تین سال پہلے اسکی ویلانٹائن ڈے کمپین کے شدید ردعمل سے اور سال پہلے ٹی ٹو ایف پر خطرناک پارسل ارسال کرکے بھی اسے ہراساں کرنے کی کوشش کی گئی۔ یہی وجہ ہے کہ میرے نزدیک اسکے قتل کو صرف اور صرف بلوچستان اور ماما قدیر سے متعلق پروگرام کے تناظر میں دیکھنا درست نہیں ہے۔ اس میں کچھ شک نہیں ہے کہ اسکے گرد خطرات بہت تھے لیکن وہ کبھی خوفزدہ نہیں ہوئی یہاں تک کہ جس خوف کے حسار کو وہ توڑنے نکلی تھی اس میں خود الجھ کر بہادری و جوانمردی کا ایک عنوان بن گئی ہے۔ اسکی موت میں ان لوگوں کے لئے ایک پیغام ہے جو بولنا چاہتے ہیں، لکھنا چاہتے ہیں اور اپنی مرضی سے جینا چاہتے ہیں

Saturday, July 2, 2016


17-year-old Leila Rasul Khan, an A-Level student at KGS,  is well worth a watch. Keep your eyes open: She's going to be a great dancer. And keep your ears open, too: She could be a well-known poet someday.
Leila is a student of Sheema Kermani — whom we all know is one of our great Dancers, Theatre-makers, Actress, and a Human Rights / Women's Rights supporter.

Sheema during an Interview

When you see Leila's performances you can feel that she has put her heart right into it. Her facial expressions are just right, something I don't see in many young dancers here.
Here is Leila a couple of years ago at T2F.

The Face

The Feet
The next two were taken at Alliance Française
during Creative Karachi Festival.
It was held on Sabeen's First Death Anniversary.
Sheema and Leila
performed a tribute to Sabeen.

Sheema and Leila
Leila's Tribute to Sabeen

Leila is a poet, too. 
I enjoyed the few that she sent me.
Hope she continues doing this.
Here are two.
She wrote this on today's times

Stand, bend, kneel, stand. 
“Amma, why are we doing this?”
“Beta, this is something you must learn.”
“But why must I learn, Amma?”
“Beta, it is your Deen.” 
“Deen, Amma?”
Your deen. Your faith. Your love. Your heart.
Stand, bend, kneel, stand. 
“Did I do it right, Amma?
I think I’m getting the hang of this. 
“Yes , well done. Don’t lose your focus. 
You lose your focus, all this loses its meaning.”
Stand, bend, kneel, stand. 
“Oh must I, Amma? I’m so tired now. 
“I won’t ever force you, beta.
But there will come a time
When you realize that this was more important
“I’ll do it later.”
“I’m sure you will.”
Stand, bend, kneel, stand. 
“Isn’t it rather poetic, Amma?
All of us millions, doing 
The same thing, at the same time, on the same day.
How loud do you suppose it is,
When the same low murmur
Rises from every corner of the globe?
“That is how He meant it, beta. 
Stand, bend, kneel, stand.

Everything has changed now, Amma. 
I wonder if I should teach this to my children
If this is something they should learn at all
The act of Deen has been twisted
Pushed, and pulled, and shoved 
It has become an act of defiance 
Exploding from the throats of the mad few
Into the lives of the many unfortunate
Nobody does it right anymore
They’ve lost their focus, Amma. 
I have to do it later now,
Because in public, I am afraid.
It’s not poetic anymore, is it? 
The low murmur 
Seems to have changed  
Seems to have devolved
Into a scream.
“Is this how He meant it, Amma?”


Here is one she wrote after Sabeen's Assassination

The value of what she did for us all

The number of lives she touched 

The number of people she gave a voice, that she inspired , that she gave a belief that they too could change their world, just like her 

Three hundred
The meagre cost of the invaluable enrichment a session at her little paradise would provide 

The number of times I had the honour of meeting her myself

Little pieces of metal

Beautiful, blazing, blinding light



Good luck, Leila!

Monday, June 20, 2016


Sabeen Mahmud would have been 42 today.
She once gave me a T-Shirt that said "42 is the Answer" on the Front … and "What is the Question?" on the Back.
(The question came from Douglas Adams: In the radio series and the first novel, a group of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings demand to learn the *Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything* from the supercomputer, 'Deep Thought', specially built for this purpose. It takes 'Deep Thought' 7½ million years to compute and check the answer, which turns out to be 42. 'Deep Thought' points out that the answer seems meaningless because the beings who instructed it never actually knew what the Question was.)
I miss Sab everyday and think of so many things from the 26 years she was with me.
Last year, on Sab's first birthday soon after her assassination, David Berne put up a Poster of her that is reproduced here.

(Thanks, DB).
A few days ago Jo Cox was also assassinated in the UK. Reading about her life and aspirations I thought of Sabeen many times. Jo was also going to be 42 this year … just two days after Sabeen's birthday.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

13 months

Missed you so much yesterday as Ragni, Nuzhat and I went to the same Cinema in Brooklyn (where you, Ragni, Julián, and I, went to see Toy Story 3, two years ago). We saw Jungle Book 3D this time.

After the movie we went to The Chocolate Shop (where we 4 had gone to eat fabulous chocolaty things on the same trip). I had your favourite Chocolate Soda.

Today I will miss you every minute.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The 'bits' Tributes


was how
Beyond Information Technology Solutions (Pvt) Limited
was known by its members and clients.
Although founded by Beaconhouse and myself,
BSS soon left their IT business
and concentrated more on their Education Field.
I took over the company, with Sabeen and a few others.
Sab's efforts and workmanship were always amazing.
Soon I 'gifted' half of 'bits' to her.
Sabeen and I were Co-Directors.


 These were some people who were close to Sabeen
and sent me these tributes for her
for her death anniversary.


Mina Siddique

Mina says,
she's better off putting her images online
than writing.
So here is the lovely image
she made for me soon after Sabeen's death.
It hangs on my sitting room wall and captures
Sab brilliantly.

And now to the writings!

Rubab Hasan

Hey Sabeen - will talk to you like I find myself doing in my head from time to time, as if you never really left. You taught a very scattered fresh grad how to be an unapologetic strong women with opinions.

With time you became a dear friend. We would talk design, passion, and ideologies. I would secretly hang on to every bit of validation you would give me on my work ;)

It took your absence for me to realise what a mentor is and that you were pretty much it for me :)

Rest in power dear friend - until we talk design again.


Amber Jabeen

I have so many memories of Sabeen from the time I was at b.i.t.s. but I feel so lost when I start writing something. It still doesn’t feel like a year.

I feel it is important to start with b.i.t.s. if I am going to say anything about Sabeen. After all that’s how I met her.

I remember that day so clearly. Zak and Sabeen (the founders of b.i.t.s.) were sitting in Zak’s living room. Someone told me that Zak was calling me. When I entered the room, he said, ‘Amber! Sabeen and I are starting a new company. Do you want to join us?’. I wasn’t really expecting the question, I was very nervous. By that time, I’d already grown so fond of Zak but I barely knew Sabeen. So I automatically looked up at Sabeen, feeling somewhat unsure. She was smiling, her usual charming smile that everyone talks about. I immediately said ‘Yes, I do.’ Of course, I didn’t know at that time, that this was going to be one of the best decisions of my life.

Sabeen and Zak started b.i.t.s. in the year 2000. b.i.t.s. was no ordinary company and neither were they. The five years that I spent with Sabeen and Zak were so extraordinary that they altered my life forever. It was like tasting the ‘Rainbow Fizz’ from the ‘Solitaire Mystery’. Your whole body tastes it, not just your tongue.

As soon as I joined, I got a chance to directly work with Sabeen and that’s how I began my journey towards becoming what I am today. I was always very impressed and inspired by Sabeen’s unmatchable ability to not give up on ANYTHING or ANYONE. Be it a design or coding challenge, a tricky client or a tough business decision with no possible solution in sight, she would always approach it with a positive attitude and try to find a solution, even when everyone else had given up. I didn’t see her giving up on even the most stubborn ones of us, including myself. :-)

Sabeen not only had some great leadership qualities but she had her own special way of leading people, in the most human and warm manner. She could judge exactly when her team needed her to stand by them. I remember one such occasion when my team and I had worked several days and nights to deliver a multimedia presentation for a famous Unilever tea brand called Brooke Bond. The project was delivered and was a great success. We got showered with praise from everywhere including the client. Obviously, we all felt very proud of ourselves and super over-confident. It was the next morning when Zak came in and casually asked me to show him the presentation. I played it. About a minute passed. He looked quite happy. I wish I had showed him just that much that day. ;-) Because next came the screen with the brand name ‘Brook Bond’ (instead of Brooke Bond). Zak picked the typo in an instant. Now a typo was a sin at b.i.t.s., but this one was even more special. I not only got ‘Zakked’ but also had to hear something like ‘how could you miss this one Amber, you’ve grown with this brand?’ And it was killing to hear that. I was heart-broken and I needed a shoulder to cry on. I went straight to Sabeen and told her the whole story. She knew very well how big the mistake was but it was more important for her to support us at that time, even if it meant to overlook a big mistake. She consoled me saying ‘I know ... Zak could be harsh sometimes. But he’ll be fine. You’ve done a good job. Maybe you guys were too tired.’ It was funny how many times I went to her after getting ‘Zakked’ and always got full support. :-) This episode taught all of us a great life changing lesson. If there were a thousand people who saw your work and even if there was only one who noticed a mistake, your work was not good enough. I still live by this rule and always check my work with a hawk’s eye.

Despite the fact that Sabeen was very tough in the face of all sorts challenges, she had an equally soft side of her personality when it came to connecting with her team on a personal level. Almost all of us could confide into her. She could spend hours counselling and consoling, investing her personal and family time in her colleagues, many times even after having a tough day herself and well past 6 O clock. We left her room feeling hopeful, positive and strong.

It was b.i.t.s and with Sabeen and Zak where I first learnt that it didn’t matter where you came from, what you were and whether you went to a big school or college. What matters is how big your dream is and how stubborn you are at making it real. b.i.t.s. had a unique vision. They said, ‘our vision is that every one of you grow at b.i.t.s. and one day make your own b.i.t.s.’. Today I run my own company in Dubai. I’ve been successfully running it for the past 10 years now. I owe my success to THIS vision and Sabeen who invested her time, efforts and trust in me for 5 years, to help me reach where I am today.

In just 5 years, Sabeen managed to touch my life in so many ways and passed on to me an invaluable treasure of values, knowledge, passion, work ethics, affection, and confidence. I cherish each and every memory of working, arguing, crying, laughing, learning, getting mentored and counseled by her at b.i.t.s. I always will. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for everything, Sabeen. You will live forever in our hearts.



Ziad Asim

Sabeen was my mentor and like a sister. 

Whenever I think about Sabeen; it reminds me as how she was gentle, loving, caring but yet tough to me at the same time. I may not have understood it then but did get it very soon once I left b.i.t.s.

Whatever I am today professionally and how I conduct myself doing my job is if not all but most of it is taught to me directly or indirectly during my tenure at b.i.t.s. and there specifically but Sabeen.

I remember when we were working on National  Foods project one day during our meeting with client there someone from client team was very rude and said few things in moment of heat which really unsettled me. Once back in office I went to my cube to work and started writing an email to the same person; while I was writing the email Sabeen came to my desk and said do not send this email and write it at least 5 times keeping in mind what you are really trying to convey and keeping your anger in check.
I did what Sabeen asked me to do and really when I read my emails first version vs the fifth version I myself was amazed to see the difference in writing.

After so many years a similar incident happened at my current job here in USA in 2014. I did the same exercise and my manager in time was amazed to see my email and asked me about it and I narrated the same to him and he was all praises for the method.
This and so many other small and big learnings will remain with me due to Sabeen’s mentorship and I will always be thankful to Allah for blessing me to get in touch with her and all other amazing people at b.i.t.s. who all have made difference in my life.

Sabeen we miss you and we will love you till we are alive may Allah bless you my mentor and sister.

Bey Naam Saa Yeh Dard Thaher Kyooñ Naheeñ Jaata
Jo Beet Gayaa Hay Voh Güzar Kyooñ Naheeñ Jaata


Salman Azeem

A few words about Sabeen Mahmud from my heart:

My best friend Zubair introduced me to Sabeen and got me to join b.i.t.s. Through Zubair I had learned a bit of HTML and CSS, at that time. When Sabeen hired me, I wasn't quite ready for the job - didn’t even have a graduate degree. But none of this mattered to Sabeen, she put her full trust in me and got me on board. I worked with her for almost 5 years, I learnt so much professionally that it is impossible to put in words.

I admire Sabeen not just as a boss or colleague or my mentor, she was so much more than that to me. I remember our first Qavvali evening from b.i.t.s. at the KTN studio. I have always been very fond of Qavvali and I enjoyed the evening very much. There were also some Farsi Qavvalis sung that evening. We didn’t understand a word and we were talking about it. After a few days, Sabeen was distributing small booklets of Farsi Qavvalis with Urdu and English translations in office. Next time, when I went to another Qavvali evening, I had my booklet and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This was just one occasion among many many more when this amazing and extraordinary boss of ours was looking out for us in ways that still warm my heart. I can never forget that she introduced me to her aunt Ghazala Khala and I got invited to so many Qavvali evenings in her house. That was also through Sabeen.

On another occasion, when I was worried about a personal problem in my life, Sabeen invited me to her home after work to discuss it and gave me so many ideas about how I can make things better. She often spent hours counseling me not just on a professional level but also personal, including my career counseling.

Sabeen was not someone who compromised on the quality of the work that went out of her company. I learnt from Sabeen, to be strict with myself and criticise my own work until it is pixel-perfect. It has always paid off in my life, especially now that I run my own business. Damn serious about work, on the other hand, Sabeen was full of ‘moj masti’ when it came to having fun with her team. No one could have guessed that Bitsians were with their boss the evening when Sabeen got us all together at Clifton rides. She wanted everyone to unwind after all the hard labour we had done on a project. And that evening is one of the many memorable ones. We all enjoyed so much and actually felt like children - careless and full of joy. It was a happy and dizzy b.i.t.s. returning home in the evening.

When I got the news about Sabeen on 24th April last year, I went numb. I am still in that state of disbelief. For me she is alive and will always be, with all the amazing things she has done, especially for me on a personal level. Love for you, Sabeen. May you rest in peace and joy, forever.