Pakistan, Japan and other stuff
Thursday 29th June 2006
Here is a neat idea and one that I would welcome here in Islamabad as well. A new KFC branch in Karachi requires customers to place orders using sign-language. Granted that imposing restrictions on your customers in similar ways isn't considered a good business practice, but in this particular case, most people would welcome the idea.
"Sign language is needed to place an order at this Pakistani franchise of the American fast food restaurant, where 27 of the staff suffer from impaired speech and hearing."
Maybe it would help improve the quality of the food as well (the Isb outlet's quality sucks enough to be in my black list of places to eat).
Monday 19th June 2006
It's not often these days (unfortunately) that I see a movie which really leaves an impact, at least for a few minutes, after the credits have rolled. And I don't mean just the sound track or some of the special effects. I'm talking about a feeling of great awe or unease, even sickness, much like that after an accident or having won the lottery. It means there was something different about the movie. Something special, either intended or unintented by the makers.
I remember getting that feel after watching Se7en. Fellowship of the Ring was another. And Mememto and Matrix to name a couple more. The Butterfly Effect really had that effect. Enough for me to blog about it. Worth a watch.
Saturday 17th June 2006
My good friend Nabeel had a bike accident last week and broke his leg. He's had to have a metal rod inserted in his leg which will stay there for a while and he won't be able to walk for at least a couple of weeks.
Good luck Nabeel and get well soon.
Saturday 10th June 2006
If you were a millionaire, how would you decorate your living room? If you're anything like this guy, you would mount your beloved sports car on the wall.
I wonder when I'll make my million ($ not Rs.). Have some excellent ideas. :)
Friday 9th June 2006
"The bizarre, the obscure, the objects that seem to defy all logic. The artifacts that are worthy of a section all their own. The curb side oddities that have even left us wondering "What is it, and how did it get there?"
I have to agree with Faisal. The Internet is getting weirder and weirder.
Tuesday 6th June 2006
The Beeb is reporting on how air pollution in Pakistan's major cities is among the highest in the world. I'll write on the water crisis mentioned in the article some other time, but the sudden and spectacular growth of the last few years has pushed a lot of things to dangerous levels.
Virtually everyone I know in Islamabad now owns their own vehicle whereas just a couple of years ago, some of us rode bikes while others didn't even have those. Though the quality of cars is much better here when compared to other cities, just the density and lack of proper quality control must translate into a lot of pollution. Also, the trend among the wealthy to have gas-guzzlers refuses to subside.
"The government has been encouraging the use of vehicles powered by the less polluting compressed natural gas (CNG)."
Though most of us have hybrid, CNG cars, the quality of the gas at Islamabad's few CNG stations is quite abysmall. On top of that, there just aren't enough stations to serve everybody so we try to fill up at odd hours to avoid the long queues, or do this in neighbouring Pindi where the gas is better. Nevertheless, it's nice to know that my car is part of the third largest fleet of CNG cars in the world (after Argentina and Brazil).
I'll say this again: building more roads to deal with the traffic is just a short-term solution to one problem. What needs to be done is to improve the public transport system so that instead of driving to work, I can get a more comfortable ride on a faster subway or instead of worrying if my car will make it to Lahore without breaking down, I can catch a maglev.
Since so much else is changing, it would be a perfect time to start planning and implementing a long-term solution.
It's June the 6th, 2006, (at least in most of the eastern hemisphere), or 6-6-6 and the devil's day for some. Well you can all go to Hell for the party. Isn't there any Heaven on earth?
Saturday 3rd June 2006
When an injured bird was brought into Cordelia's Bird Rescue Research Center, an X-Ray revealed the head of an alien inside the duck's stomach.
Results of a necropsy are still awaited, though my guess is that the duck just got sick of the little alien constantly making fun of how it walked and finally snapped, literally.
The alien's family was not available for comment, but it is speculated that the decapitation will not go well with the alien race and a full blown invasion within the next few days is imminent.Link
Friday 2nd June 2006
A couple of months ago, I heard a rumour that a huge hotel was going to be built on the green belt in front of the current PIMS (Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences) which is pretty much at the physical center of current day Islamabad.
Today, I saw the sketches of what the hotel and mall complex will look like after three years and they are very cool (couldn't find the other one online):
My office is in the area right behind this so it would be a pretty awesome sight.
Currently, Islamabad's biggest and most impressive structure is Faisal Mosque, built by the Saudis at the foothills of Margalla hills and visible as a dwarf in the above sketch. Then there are the government buildings, such as the Prime Minister's secretariate and the Convention center, built by corrupt regimes to mimic the grandeur of the Moghul empire. But they seem nothing in comparison to this.
The thought of such a great structure in a place like Islamabad seems quite odd. This was once considered a quiet and peaceful little city (and still is by Lahoris and Karachiites) and I remember going for casual strolls as a young kid with my parents in the very same area the hotel will be built. There wasn't even a road near the place which is currently the capital's center.
Yet the main city's design is such that it can't grow very dense. That is, without some serious remodelling. Maybe this is a start in that direction. Guess will have to wait and see.
Was pretty surprised to see that Pakistan's WiMax deployment plans made it to CNET and Slashdot. The rollout will be ahead of the US and possibly ahead of the rest of the world since we're using the recently finalized, 802.16e standard. I guess it can't be that impressive. After all, we are a "failed state":).
Though Motowi4, mentioned in the article, is building the network for Wateen Telecom, Dancom Online Services, my employer, is aiming to be the first to actually deploy it and offer it as part of its broadband service. I'm starting to like my job more and more (yes, there is something else. Expect to read about it in a couple of weeks).
Thursday 1st June 2006
I know it's hard to believe, but suddenly I seem to be engulfed by stuff about Vlad III (aka Draculea, aka Ţepeş or Impaler). Firstly, my cousin asked about the origin of vampires and Dracula, out of nowhere, a couple of days ago. I already knew the myth was based on Vlad so I told him.
The same night, there was a documentary about him on the History Channel. Then, this news about Vlad's castle being returned. Then this morning, I stumble upon Vlad's profile on Wikipedia (fascinating stuff I might add) and now I find him mentioned on a popular forum in a thread not even remotely related to vampires, legends or Romanian history. Once a coincidence, but FIVE times in a couple of days?