Predicting performance

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 arificial routine

Intelligence in 140 characters

Static saturday

A 2pm start to the day. There was no breakfast. No lunch. I was in the middle of nowhere. My sister fixed me tea and biscuits. Oreo and tea, they don't have a working chemistry. I realised this today. Two biscuits in my stomach.

At three, we had to pick Fozee from Ojha hospital. I was not ready for this. Way too weak for any movement. Forget about high speed vehicular motion.

So I left for a long, hot bath. Singing out songs, old and new. Chalking out future events, big and small. The water was hot. I came out boiled.

By now, lunch was ready. Thank God. I had some frozen chicken curry from yester-week, and fresh roti (bread). This roti's wheat is red. It has its own taste. Metallic flavor. Probably good for health.


I googled this red roti. It took me to Marho Rajhastan, and then to Banaras.

Pick Fozee

3.45. Fozee called in. She inquired what was our plan. Zee informed that we shall be leaving shortly. Since it was already late, we fixed a lunch box for Fozee. Red roti and palak (spinach).

As is the norm for our Saturdays, Zee did the driving. She is driving fine. Switches her lane too often, without looking. Plus she prefers not to shift gears. So we could be on he the fast lane, Zee pedaling hard on the accelerator. Car still in the first gear. The engine would yell vroom.

We pick Fozee up at four. She says that she is real hungry. We offer her palak and roti. She says that she hates them. She adds that since she is hungry, she will have them anyway.

Her quote, "when faced with hunger, man can even resort to eating dogs."

Now we are driving back home. Ojha is a ten minute drive from home. Fozee tells us that she wants to buy a burqa. We laughed. She isn't moving to Saudi Arabia. No.

It has been a silent Saturday. It happens when both dad and mom kill the day sleeping. The hallway feels empty.

I fix the super evening tea. "Everybody loves your tea", Ami reminded me, as she moved back to her room to resume sleep.

the Wedding movie

For the umpteenth time, we watched Fozee's wedding movie. It is a four hour ordeal. Almost like a CCTV footage. We would move from scene to scene, person to person. Noting down each and every detail.

The whole event is now engraved on to our memories. The food, the dresses, the songs. Every person within that movie has developed into a close acquaintance. We know them all too well now.

Twenty minutes of film time goes at the groom. Every inch of the groom's dress filmed. The bride would get even more attention. Almost twice the time, four times the special effects. Hearts, flower petals.

And now we are done dining. Fozee gives us the second round of tea.

It is eleven in the night. The day about to end. A relaxed one indeed. Far, far away from the worries of work.

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Things settling down

I am in an empty room. My room mates are gone. Junaid, or Jay, as we would call him lovingly, left last week. Naeem had left last year.

And now, it's an empty room.

There’s a knocking at the door. The first for the day. Had Jay been here, he would have opened our door even if it was three in the morning. I am the laziest of us three brothers: Jay, Naeem and I.

It takes me a while to realise that there is indeed someone knocking at my door. I am asleep. So the knocking must be going on in that sleep. Right?

The intensity increases. There’s a knocking so hard that the walls vibrate.

I have to pick my self up. Else Zee, the first person that knocks at our door each day, will break the wood out.

It is 8 am. I calculate. So I open the door, and get back to sleep. Important dreams to continue. Today, we were shopping out with my brother’s in-laws. A fight broke up.

It was a dream. Thank God it was a dream. The fight continues, and then arrives the more sober, second knock. It is my father at the door.

9 am. I calculate.

Again, I get back to sleep. I will be back in 15 minutes. I promise the world.

An hour and a half later, I am on the road. The crazy route. I have sort of started loving this route. I am not sure whether the way back home is more fun, or the way to my workplace. Or may be, it’s a tie.

This is late in the day. The sun, starting to heat things up. It’s a shame that I am so late to my office.

Heavy vehicles move this way and that. Transporting oil and stuff to other parts of the city. Kids, the kindergarten ones, getting back home. I wonder whether such schooling is a fuel-efficient option. Why burn so much fuel to get young toddlers 2 hours away from home.

A.b.c. One, two, three. After me.


Midway, a police van screens all in-coming cars. These are tough days in Karachi. People are dying each day. Its sad.

But, each day, I have to dodge these guys. Our police screens us for potential bribes. My fault, I have lost my driving license. So, these police guys would catch me everyday, for a 500 rupee penalty.

I did the math. If this were to continue, I would go broke. So, I mapped out a different route for myself. One without the Police van doing the screening.

11 am.

11 am. I have reached my workplace. My colleagues greet me. I pass them Greetings for the day, and then work begins.

I am Junior Geotech Engineer. So for starters, I am working on soil types for a certain dam being constructed in Sindh. However, a lot of the day gets used in doing stupid EXCEL stuff.

There’s this rumor in my office, that I am a Microsoft Excel expert. I always remind them, that I am still learning. They all disagree. So, all day long, I am moving in this building, like a Microsoft Pacman, solving Excel issues. Printing out reports for colleagues.

Junior Geotech engineer, I remind myself.

Ms. Asra, my colleague sitting in front, is busy doing the Hydraulic design of spillway. She is exceptional. She sort of works all day, from nine to five.

I work for 15 minutes at a stretch, which is followed by a 10 minute break, where I do my fun, personal stuff. Creative work.

Merey hathon mein noe noe churiyaan hein…


Caption: Me wearing bangles (Just for kicks!).


(Okay, I think I have bored myself out. I need some rest. Shall finish this write-up tomorrow!).

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Restarting intelligence

We begin. Each day, with memories of yesterday. Good memories. Bad too. That's our school bag, as we leave for work. Heavy if we have a big memory system in our head, light if we are the forgetful type.

I begin each day light, and I know I am right. I spent the last four months or so, in a cave. Not officially, but in spirit. I took a leave from whatever I had to do. Took a leave from all the pressing problems. To take a step back, to regroup. To understand what I have done to date, and to organize, for what I am to be tomorrow.

Deserve respect.

The break worked wonders, or at least that’s how I am going to sell it for the moment. Today, was the second consecutive working day, when yours truly, was on-time for office. For the record, never before had I been on-time for office.

I truly deserve a timely pat on my back. Well done bro!

Ear rings.

This has been like week three. My right ear has been down. My fault. I wanted it all clean. So, I pushed that small finger right till the end of the ear-hole. So here, we are today, I can hear only 20% of the sound dB (decibels) you generate.

So, the moment I enter the room of my office today, my colleague, Ms.Tahira asks, “How’s that ear now?”, and I respond after trying hard to hear with that 1/5th of an ear, “Bad, very bad. There’s pain today.” She’s like, “Oh.”

Ear crackles. Rings. There’s fluid moving from left to right ear. Law of continuity:

Flow in = Flow out

Oh God, help!


The whole day of office work is traumatized by all sorts of phones ringing. Landlines, 19th century Nokias, Iphones, Skypes, and what not. Buzz, buzz, buzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZ.

My colleague on the right, is the biggest culprit. Say twenty calls a day, 15 missed calls. And hundreds of text messages. All this I presume, and exaggerate, as I recall, and write. Its pure, ringing pain.

So, I try to flip her iPhone the next time it rings. And voila! It keeps ringing. Hey, no fair. All iPhones go mum once flipped, what’s wrong with this one.

As she arrives back on her table, I tell her that her iPhone is a fake, since it keeps ringing even on flip.

The deal

I had this car wash deal with the office clerk last week. He would clean my car, twice a week, and I shall pay him PKR 250 per month ($2.75/month). A good deal for me, since this would keep my car shiny white all week long.

All great men have nice, clean cars, right?

So, I request today this clerk to begin, and he responds, “I don’t have time today (Urdu: میرے پاس ٹائم نہیں ہے). Wow, what a service. Truly reliable.

Killing the heat

We are having a heat wave in Karachi. The city is oven hot. And here’s how you kill the heat: Confuse it!

So, I think up of new ways to cover myself up. I tried the dupatta at a wedding in my village. It nearly burned my neck. But, I felt spectacular photographically.

Next, I want to wear ties. Plain shirt, and bright ties. That would surely beat the dupatta look, fair and square.

Reminder: the air conditioner in our office does not work, and there are 8 people in our small office room.

Reminder 2: The second reminder is that I presently do not have a plain shirt to go with a tie. Hence, there’s some shopping to do first.

Green things back home

Once home, I tend my garden. Its like juggling twenty balls all at the same time. I make a sad clown juggling them. Little success, tonnes of failure.

A lot of the plants are drooping the wrong way. The grass, its receding fast. What comes in plenty are plants with thorny stems, creating more threat, and less beauty.

And then I look around, there are places where grass is not required, and yet it somehow, magically springs up. Concrete. How can it possibly do that? So not fair.


Fresh Prince of Bell Air

Nostalgia: Remember the good ol’ days when we were young. Remember that comedy drama with that song. I used to sing it as it aired. Always.

Yet, there were only four words I understood: ‘Fresh Prince of Bell Air’, for all else, I made the ‘whoosh, wish’ sound.

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Arificial routine is a place where I write with freedom, writing about the day to day things. There are no benchmarks to be met. Just me writing regularly about my university life in Karachi, Pakistan.


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