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Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

Crazy week – Friday morning blues

Crazy doesn’t even come close…

Monday morning Jehan reminded me of my two commitments to judge the P@SHA Launch Pad event as well as stumble my way through 2 feet (yup that is how high they stack) of applications received for the P@SHA Social Innovation Fund.

As I dressed and rushed to leave home on our daily 18 kilometer trek to drop our kids to school at 7:30 am, I saw Fawzia waving to me while talking to someone on the phone. “There has been a bomb blast near the school, Kaleem is saying we should take the kids back home”.

For a mad second I thought, it will take more than a blast for CAS to get shut down and kids can’t miss school because of a stupid bomb. Back inside it was TV, Twitter, Face book and cell phones. One look at the breaking news and any thought of making an anti-terror statement by sending our kids to school was dead in the water. An hour later I had given up on TV since the quality of news coverage started eroding immediately after the news broke. We have to figure out how to fix this – a country of 180 million creative people and the best we can do rating wise is Geo and Express News? Big F to the PBA and the twenty odd news channels that are really all doing Ctrl C and Ctrl V with the same content. Twitter and Facebook took over where the media industry failed.

By Monday evening after sitting through a full day of news coverage, I was in a state of rage and drafting my own ten step plan for fixing this country involving politicians, the Arabian Sea, our many so called well wishers, friends, partners, advisors and nuclear weapons. I had to shut down my trusted laptop and disconnect the internet before I wrote something that I would regret later which would get me banned on Facebook and bring a Seal team through my front door, not necessarily in that order. Maroof suggested we should all come out into the streets and bring the government down but I wondered if that was really a solution (coming out in the street, not bringing the government down…)

Tuesday was P@SHA Launchpad and for the first time in my life as a mentor, teacher and trainer I was surprised by the quality of pitches presented at the event. More so since because of the blast and the lives we have started leading there wasn’t any preliminary prep session. While violence still resonated at the back of my mind, the fresh promise and potential of young, itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie companies and teams that we had been working with gave me hope and direction. Imagine with so much destruction and devastation around us if we could still inspire kids to change the world, where would we be if we could only put Monday behind us. And maybe that is the solution we need: jobs, prosperity and ownership – if we all had jobs, money in our wallets, food in our stomach and a reasonable civil society that would respect our claim to speak, interact and not kill each other, would we still apply for that suicide bombing position on Craiglist.

Wednesday was my newly discovered, slightly used dentist’s appointment. While I dreaded heading towards Awab’s clinic, once I landed at its entrance, all such misgivings disappeared. It felt as if I had left Pakistan and moved to an exotic Far Eastern location. Moss covered red brick facade, old green trees with shade and rather than white antiseptic window less walls, wide open spaces and filtered natural light. Unlike many of the faceless, featureless hospitals I have suffered in my life, this one had 60 years of history and character draped around it. If it wasn’t for the drills and the x-ray machine one could easily confuse it with a herbal wrap spa (how is that for a suggestion Awab). This was obviously before Awab started playing with the cavity in my left incisor, took a look at my x-ray and started laughing. I wasn’t sure if it was dry dental humor or sophisticated civil activism at work.

Thursday my wading through two feet of P@SHA Social Innovation fund applications yielded some results. There were some really crazy kids with really crazy ideas that just might work (and they don’t involve nuclear weapons, Facebook or Seal teams). I sent over my inch thick selection (so about 1/24 selection rate) over to Jehan, went back to pick up a filing at the Alvi Dental Hospital while listening to piped U2 and Springsteen tracks and then headed straight to Sama – the last one of my baby sisters, who tonight will leave this country to settle in Canada.

Is there any other place in the world where you could get such rich and conflicting blend of hope and violence, promise and despair in a given week? And it is not even Friday afternoon.