No spin zone: Feng shui in a hamlet - Anjum Niaz

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I crane my neck to see the Belair Condo penthouse on 524 East, 72nd in Manhattan that Benazir Bhutto bought. She died before moving in. I heave a sigh for the penthouse is jinxed. Whoever buys it dies. My soliloquy causes New Yorkers walking by to wonder if I be whacky. I carry on staring at the skyscraper that commands a thousand heart thrilling views. But sadness stays because BB told Seema Boesky, the woman selling that property, “The feng shui is not right here and is very important to me.”
Ms Boesky promptly changed the position of the entry door at the wishes of the new buyer.
What is feng shui? Literally it means wind and water. It’s a part of an ancient Chinese philosophy of nature. It is mainly concerned with understanding the relationships between nature and ourselves so that we may live in harmony within our environment. Benazir Bhutto wanted to live in harmony within her environment; hence the locale of the entrance was “important” to her.
The late Princess of Wales too searched for feng shui. Diana travelled thousands of miles away from the stuffiness of royalty stifling the free spirit within her, to a small hamlet in Pakistan near Jhelum. Her suitor, Dr Hasnat’s family, owned a glass factory outside Jhelum. The whole town turned out to welcome the royal visitor… but the union between the princess and the doctor never materialised.
Last Sunday we retraced Diana’s footprints and landed at the same hamlet that hit the world news years ago. This hamlet is God’s little acre, snuggled among green fields of mustard, a whitewashed mosque and neat havelis sprinkled with citrus trees. The salt of the earth here are happy to share the wisdom of the ages; the openness of their homes; the freshness of hope.
You come away wondering why you spent hundreds of hours the past two months listening to Mr & Ms ‘Know all’ misinform you on Davis affair. What a bunch of baloney these pundits dished out for us day after day. Thousands of words washed down the tube turning, twisting, twining Lahoregate. The net result? Zilch! Americans paid money and frisked away their master spy right under the noses of 180 million hapless, ignorant, corrupt and emotionally charged people.
The ‘free’ media has corrupted our thinking since it arrived in our bedrooms barely a decade ago. It has extinguished free thought and killed reason. It has sucked out our sensitivity. Today, we are insensitive to feel-good stories. The only thing to titillate us is ‘breaking news’ whose other name is ‘bad news.’ We love to be thrown in the cesspool sledged by our armchair pundits. Governments manipulate the media, which we all know. Agencies plant disinformation to throw the public off the scent, which we well know. Politicians spin lies, but alas that too we know by heart!
One definitive to come out of the Davis affair is the discredit earned by the civil-military establishment, the Sharif brothers, the PPP leadership and the judiciary. So to expect the brass, the judges and party stalwarts to purge the plague currently raging across Pakistan is like daydreaming. Energy shortage and terrorism, our twin curses, can only be resolved if the men in uniform, men with white wigs wielding gavels, and three-piece designer suit wearers get heart transplants donated by cadavers with hearts of gold.
I met men, women and children at the Jhelum hamlet. Their homes are amidst graveyards of their ancestors. The air is pregnant with fulfillment; the people alive. Their eyes shine with joy. After kisses and double hugs from the ladies gathered, we sat down for breaking bread. The womenfolk, all very pretty, seemed to dominate the men. In charge and in command, was the matriarch of the family. She initiated a discussion of promise, love and camaraderie. A purposeful life to these simple souls means helping each other; greeting all with a smile and tolerating different viewpoints. They are a closely knit clan with malice towards none. Coveting thy neighbour is a sin in their eyes. If fortune arrived earlier at another home, so be it. We walked through a graveyard to visit the family elder’s home. He is called Haji Sahib. He has spent his life working in the labour force across the road at a multi-national cigarette factory. “They said I had reached superannuation and I stood retired. They sent me home,” says the old man in a white dhoti kurta. His sons have done well. They went to England ages ago and today live in style. A car and a tractor were parked in the verandah. They have set up their aunts in a nearby home which has a beautiful compound with fruit trees growing.
Listening to them was like a breath of hope radiating through the whole village. Benazir Bhutto talked of feng shui when she was buying the ill fated penthouse in Manhattan. The hamlet I visited is laden with feng shui. The young girls reading naats all go to school. They are alert. The young boys are well-behaved. The men talked of the latest death toll in Japan and the dangers of nuclear radiation; they talked of Raymond Davis more knowledgeably than our anchors and their guests. In olden times, the only two topics to seize the villagers were cattle theft and water theft. Today, the rural folks have moved beyond and caught up with the urban population. Dr Zulfiqar Ali stood out among the crowd as an opinion leader. He is the founder-principal of Jhelum Homoeopathic Medical College. “We have very strict admission rules and will only admit boys and girls who have an outstanding academic record,” he told me. He is a liberal, emancipated and well read young man whose presence enriches his community. “Dr Sahib never rests,” says his young wife, pregnant with their second child. “In the evenings he runs his clinic.”
So what will happen if you have another daughter? I ask the wife. “Dr Sahib wants another girl!” she says while beaming a smile towards her husband. The doctor nods his head. I happen to glance at the entrance door of their bedroom and this is what I see hanging: “Happy Marriage”!
Can the feng shui that BB and Diana craved get any better than this sign at the entry door?

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