On “Useless Criticism” and “Badmashi”

A Facebook repost has me writing this. The post is publicly accessible on my Facebook page. Here is what it looks like and what I said:

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Here is what it looks like!

Pretty mellow, one might say. Not so according to the comments. I won’t say much but just put out some juicy pieces there.

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I am a-likin’ it .. yayyy all discussing how to solve the problem  

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Uh oh … what have I ever done for women empowerment? Hmmm … lemme think

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Personal against the woman we all look up to and admire? 

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I am a guy. Ask me what women want. “Voice of reason tries to intervene” Moral of the story: You can’t reason with the unreasonable. 

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You silly women! The entire concept of “criticism” against anything us men do is wrong because we are right and you are wrong and there is nothing you can do about it (a la Ms Truncball)

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“Remember when I ran crying to you because “these women” wouldn’t let me play and told me off to Daddy? Thank you for wiping my tears and letting me sleep over.”

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These horrid greedy women only think of themselves and want “free ride”. Off with their heads. 

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And we will not bow down to this BADMASHI (bullying / rascality) 

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For more inspiration on how to be more inclusive and how useless a criticism is please see above exhibits and/or go to https://www.facebook.com/nutshellconferences/ and see how much efforts are being made to add women. 

CRY ME A RIVER!

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Vulnerably Strong

Grief has got its cold, bony fingers on my heart. It’s so hard to return to life before it all. I got a clod from its grave. Taking a piece away. Taking away its power. How foolish of me. There were crying birds. Tiny featherless ones. Screeching abominably. They wanted to go back to their nest. Early morning I returned them to the earth to which it belonged. That night he shone like the moon. Serene and peaceful. My heart shivers.

A new idea is conceived to take away the edge. Foolishness, except some nights for a while my thoughts are about simpler things. Money. Fame. Success. Accounts. Funnels. Business Model Canvas. It helps.

Mosawi is keeping me sane and alive. So engrossed in working on it except for the heaviness in my heart and the world getting blurry occasionally.

Why is it such a taboo to be vulnerable? Why is it so unbelievably hard to imagine a person as both strong and vulnerable? Doing business everyone advises you to “fake it till you make it”. Being vicious is a quality. Cut-throat is coveted. I refuse to play by any rules that I don’t agree with.

It’s a struggle.

Work. Life.
Philosophy. Reality.

Writing isn’t coming naturally.

Chaos

I have always wanted a shabby chic, boho, country cottage, Winnie the Pooh 100 Acres Woods room. You know how people can put together crazy prints and textures and styles together and make them blend? Yeah. I am not one of those people. Wanted to get a simple wooden sofa in distressed finish with smaller chairs for extra seating, each chair different from another but making it a whole. Ended up buying the brightest red retro humongous 8 seater that makes my eyes hurt. Now I have that and this in one place waiting for the day their foster parents come and take them each home in completely opposite parts of the world, and I can try my interior decorating skills again.

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Ah what hopes I had for this

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What I call my Pinterest Corner

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Sher Khan and the Jacket resting on this monstrosity

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My mug and pencil collection!!

See what I mean? They are all good things. But they are different worlds. Kind of like my life. There are good parts. WONDERFUL parts. Stuff dreams are made of. But when put together in once place they kind of fall apart.

Very philosophical of me. 😀

Been invited to send an entry for some award. Don’t have the patience or the time. If you do it for me and I win, I will split my winnings with you. Takers?

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

BE ANGRY

For the longest time imaginable I resisted being called a feminist. Euuu the filthy, loathsome F word. It brought to me images of

  1. angry PMS-ing moustached fat women who couldn’t find a tub of their favorite ice cream in the store
  2. bitter LGBT community members with shaved heads
  3. promiscuous women blindly following the West and asking Makran has nude beaches

The reality only dawned on me recently. When you are 38, 2 years ago is recent. Started to notice a pattern. Every time I tried to say something someone spoke over me. Raised a point, and it was swept away. Gave an opinion and was heard with pained patience. WTH was going on here, I asked myself. And then I started paying attention.

I realized just how hard women work and yet their achievements are put in the very patronizing “Special Women Edition” of magazines, or they are asked to speak on panels about “Women Entrepreneurs and their Challenges, “Women Empowerment and it’s Importance” while the real brains of the society, the MEN, got to talk about serious stuff like fintech, incubators, block chain and blah blah.

I consciously kept an eye out for these big events organized with the support of big organizations such as Jazz, IBM, Microsoft, the Americans and all had same bias. The male to female ration of speakers and panelists was 33:7 against women or 20:9. Recently, an event was announced on Tech that claimed to

****** is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire and connect Pakistani entrepreneurs who work on innovative and disruptive technologies to create the knowledge economy to drive Pakistan’s growth over the coming decade.

A platform for entrepreneurs who are at the core of the ‘Eco System Leadership’ to get them started in the Pakistani Startup scene. A startup usually faces a financial crunch in its early stages. To help them in their endeavor, this initiative will provide eligible startups with major ‘Eco System Feeders’ which have components providing certain free and discounted services to reduce their financial burden to allow a startup economy to succeed.

While claiming they are speaking of both genders, they announce their first SEVEN speakers who were all male. When questions were raised some really funny stuff came up. Exhibit XYZ below:

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This gentleman tried to tell me how awfully underprivileged men were and asking for gender parity is promulgating double standards viz a viz the men.

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This one lady has been raising a hue and cry over manels and tagging me and others sympathetic to the cause. Suddenly, she wants us not to judge because SHE has been asked to speak. Hurray!

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Then in comes this lady who is supposedly managing the said conference’s social media strategy and having a real hard time finding women speakers. A group 3000+ women who are all associated with tech industry one way or the other offered to help if she shares the criteria. Criteria has yet to be shared.

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And then my favorite part – where we get called “girls” and told to “have patience” because social media strategy demands they put up maximum number of male guests out there and then follow it with a few females. What on earth! LOL

Whatever the men say I don’t care so much. Yeah it makes me very very angry at the injustice but what gets me really shouting DRACARYS at the top of my typing voice is when the women get into cahoots with the men. And for what? A spot on the panel and some small assignment?

By far my most favorite discussion on the topic of manels was about the launch of a National project. The photographs shared on social media were just a handful of women sitting in a hall packed with men. Here are some excerpts from that. If you want, I can share the link to the conversation separately *evil grin*

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Two men telling me how I am wrong and the photograph with 5 women and 100 men was lying. Also notice in first comment how it says the invites were limited to VCs of universities only? Next exhibit will show you a different story. And the second gentleman thinks inviting women is not the right strategy because “all events are not just for filling spaces with either gender“. He also was kind enough to discuss the issue ON THE DAY of the event with another lady. No, not before. Not while planning the guest list. But on the day.

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See the about turn? “It wasn’t limited to VCs” while previous comment says invitations were “restricted to VCs”. Makes me wonder which one to believe.

While all the time the conversation really was about what steps have organizers taken to ensure maximum female participation. As I said below:

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And you know what? Organizers started to ask! That’s all we want. Women don’t want to be fillers either but we need to realize the men have been at it for much longer and we are new. We may be few but we are there and if you try hard enough you will find us.

People are mad at me. They never expected a woman perhaps a decade or more younger than them to turn around and stop being nice and say it as it is. Have given people definition of MANSPLAINING. Told them why “feminism is not always cool” is such BS and given them great literature to read. Some have scoffed and said I was “angry”. You know what? I AM angry. Let me leave you with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words:

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OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Being Skinny Isn’t Going to Make Me Happy

All my life I wanted to live in a city with traffic lights. And then I lived in a city with traffic lights.

All my life I wanted to live in a double-storey house and have a room of my own on the upper floor. And then I got to live in such a house and got the best room.

Needed best friends closer than family. Check.

Wanted to do post-grad studies. check.

Have a son and a daughter. check

Have a career. check

Dear God, how ecstatic would I be if I ever got to travel abroad. On my own. Without owing money to anyone. several times CHECK

OMG if I ever got famous and WDL was talked about in foreign magazines and on blogs etc? believe it or not but it happened.

Today I have everything I once dreamed of but NEVER thought I’d ever have. And you know I am still not happy. Something inside of me won’t let me be happy. Or maybe, just maybe, I am not at peace with myself. I will always find something to not be happy about in the thousands of things that I should be happy about. For instance, I work with thousands of women. Most love me and it’s such a blissful feeling. But I obsess over the 1 or 2 that somehow are not happy with me, the programs I run, support I provide. That’s the person I am. Focusing on the negative. Just can’t fathom it. Why would I do that?

For example, I have caught myself many times over the past year telling myself I would be perfectly happy if I would just lose all this extra weight. And just now going through my old Facebook posts I was reminded of a time when I was skinny. And I was miserable. Because I had found, once again, something to be miserable about.

As I sit here in my PJs feeling uncomfortably tight around the middle and trying not to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror because I look hideous I am trying to tell myself to focus on the positive.

Plus, had an awesome wedding in Peshawar. Little Almost-bro got married. Both BFFs were here and we had a ball. Have a fantastic event coming up at Basecamp Peshawar to ring in the new year. Some very exciting collaborations.

OK byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Vanity Fair

Its so frustrating when after fighting fights much bigger than myself and taking on ridiculous challenges and coming out as the victor at 37 years of age I am struggling with body image issues particularly because of my expanding waist line. It just plain disgusts me.

I didn’t have weight issues except for a couple of years between age 10 and 12. Other than that even after two kids (given a generous post-pregnancy time to reclaim my body) I was at an envious weight. And then entrepreneurship hit hard and somewhere along the way the stress that comes naturally with growing a business, working a job, raising kids, looking after the home kinda started getting to me. So more and more time in front of the screen eating whatever the hell I could get my hands on and less time outside enjoying things like the weather or a walk or a hang out with friends.

No, I am not feeling sorry for myself. And I don’t want you to feel sorry for me either. I am just mad at myself. Look at all super successful people. They handle all above I mentioned and yet they stay super fit. I see men and women my age, younger, older, doing way more than me and somehow they keep things together and find the time to exercise and eat healthy.

*screams*

Have tried all kinds of fad diets from the 13 Day Military Diet – I lost 10 lbs in 13 days – and gained it back in 10 days. Tried going on this diet where I had to drink this really yummy chocolate flavored powdered drink twice a day as a meal supplement. That didn’t last v long. Have even tried doing it the right way with an hour-long HIIT and clean-eating with calorie count for 3 months and looked and felt GREAT but then came vacation time and I stuffed my face with carbs and sugar.

KILL ME SOMEONE.

Now all this is making me depressed. I don’t like it. Not so much out of vanity though that’s a reason as well, but more because I am nearing forty and at this rate I will be a whale at 41 and will develop multiple diseases.

Truth is, I LOVE MY WORK. If I had the choice I would do nothing but work on all these cool projects all the time. But I also realize it’s bad for my mental and physical health. Entrepreneurship is cool and it’s OK to be passionate but you need to draw the line somewhere and find time for yourself. And I am struggling to do that.

Can someone help me with the stress, the eating, and the sedentary lifestyle, please?

OK Byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Walk in the Park

Amazing what a little quiet time can do for a person. No, seriously. I mean I have been crazy busy past few months and when I am not busy it still feels like I am busy. do you know that feeling? Like you should be doing something but you aren’t and you are just sitting there staring at a screen or posting stupid social media updates waiting for you to recall what it is. Because you just can’t believe you are actually free.

Last weekend I took some time out and went out for a walk. At 4:30 PM in the blistering Lahore afternoon. i thought I wouldn’t last 10 minutes. But I actually stayed out for almost an hour and only came inside the house because my bratty kids wouldn’t stop calling for xyz. But that hour cleared up my mind like anything. For the first time in ages I was thinking clearly. The ideas I had been trying to work on for so long but that just appeared too complicated suddenly started to seem doable. Whoa! It was awesome.

Bottom line – MUST.TAKE.OUT.TIME.TO.EXERCISE. If not to lose some of that bulge around the waist from sitting and eating all day long then just to think clearly.

OK BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE