Downfall or Der Untergang is a German movie about the last days of Hitler in his bunker in Berlin. A great movie, rated 9/10.

I liked Downfall or Der Untergang very much. It is a movie about the last days of Hitler and focuses on Berlin and Hitler’s bunker.

Some people have complained that the movie shows the human side of the Nazis. That is true, but I think it makes the movie better. Even though the Nazis were evil, they were still human in many ways and representing them as evil caricatures isn’t exactly correct. To me, the realistic portrayal of Hitler in this movie was convincing without diminishing any of his evil or craziness.

As the focus of the movie is on Hitler’s last days, it doesn’t deal much with his crimes. That is a valid artistic choice as we want to watch a movie and not a lecture or documentary. Even then, Downfall doesn’t lose sight of the fact that the Nazis were bad.

If you do want to learn more about Nazi crimes against humanity (and you should), then read some books about the Holocaust or the Nazi campaigns against the Roma or Slavs or their racist ideology and so on and so forth. This movie would give you an inkling of Hitler’s craziness but not much more.

Overall, it is a great movie. I rate it 9/10.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone. And Happy Holidays, too!

In Pakistan

Safely in Pakistan. Travel with a child is not that easy, but not as bad as we thought either. More thoughts on Emirates, Dubai airport, child meals, etc.

So we have reached Pakistan safely. We are in Islamabad right now but will be leaving for Wah Cantt (in-laws) later today.

Michelle did well overall during the journey, but it still was very tiring for her. It was a really long for one thing. For another, she likes to sleep in absolute quiet. So her sleep was very disturbed and in small patches. Also, the change in air pressure caused her lots of ear pain. Since she absolutely refused to drink from her sippy cup at the time, it was a bit of an effort to get her to stop crying.

Michelle loved Frankfurt airport where she walked about all over the terminal. She wasn’t too fond of Dubai but didn’t like Islamabad airport at all, wanting to be held all the time.

Child meals on planes are just useless. This is exemplified by the fact that Delta had fried chicken in Michelle’s dinner and skim milk in her breakfast.

Emirates rocks as an airline but they need to move their headquarters because Dubai sucks. It looks more like a shopping mall than an airport. When we got through security, we entered into a huge mall. There were no signs close by which said anything about the “transfer desk” or the gates. Also, we were just changing planes in Dubai but had to go through security twice. Why? Have transfer passengers been known to do crazy stuff?

Car rental with Avis turned out to be nightmare since their airport office didn’t have any record of my reservation while I had records from the Avis webite as well as email/phone conversations with Avis-Pakistan. Finally they decided to honor my reservation, but I hated their process overall and wouldn’t recommend them to anybody.

The car seat and the seat reservation for Michelle in the plane worked really well. It took some pressure off us and we were able to rest as well. However, I didn’t get to read anything during the journey, something that hasn’t happened before.

And is it just me or has pollution in Islamabad increased a lot in recent years? Right now I cannot really see the Margalla hills from my parents’ study and they are close by.

While in the US, the US-VISIT program photographs and fingerprints visitors, Pakistanis have decided that it would be a good idea to do the same for their own citizens. At the immigration desk at the Islamabad airport, we were all photographed, though some of the photos I saw on the guy’s computer screen were very badly framed with the chin cut off for example. At least they are not fingerprinting.


ہم پاکستان جا رہے ہیں۔ مشیل کا یہ پاکستان کا پہلا سفر ہے۔ دیکھیں کیسا جاتا ہے۔

آج شام ہم پاکستان روانہ ہو رہے ہیں۔ سفر لمبا ہے۔ اور مشیل کے ساتھ پہلا ایسا سفر ہے۔ اس سے پہلے مشیل ہوائی جیاز پر صرف کینیڈا تک گئی ہے۔ گاڑی پر اس کا سب سے طویل سفر نئی جرزی سے اٹلانٹا کا تھا جب وہ دو مہینے کی تھی۔ اس دفعہ دیکھتے ہیں کہ اسے یہ سفر بھاتا ہے یا نہیں۔ ویسے اگرچہ مشیل ابھی چھوٹی ہے اور ہماری گود میں قانون کے مطابق سفر کر سکتی ہے مگر ہم نے اس کی علیحدہ سیٹ لی ہے تاکہ اسکا اور ہمارا سفر کچھ آرام‌دہ رہے۔ ہم اسے بچوں کی کار سیٹ میں بٹھائیں گے جو ہم ساتھ لے جا رہے ہیں۔ پھر یہ کار سیٹ پاکستان میں گاڑی میں مشیل کے بیٹھنے کے کام بھی آئے گی۔

ہم پاکستان تین سال بعد جا رہے ہیں۔ پچھلی دفعہ اس بلاگ کے شروع کے دنوں میں گئے تھے جب میرے اور عنبرین دونوں کے بھائیوں کی شادیاں تھیں۔ اس بار تو مجھے ڈر ہے کہ میں اپنے والد کو شائد پہچان نہ پاؤں کیونکہ سنا ہے انہوں نے داڑھی رکھ لی ہے۔

پاکستان میں کچھ وقت گزارنے کے بعد واپسی پر ہم ایک دن کے لئے سوٹزرلینڈ میں رکیں گے۔ اگر موسم اور مشیل نے ساتھ دیا تو وہاں کچھ سیر کر لیں گے ورنہ وہ دن ہوٹل میں گزرے گا۔

پاکستان سے بلاگ پر پوسٹ ذرا کم ہو گی مگر کوشش کروں گا کہ کچھ اپنے سفر کے بارے میں لکھتا رہوں۔

We are leaving for Pakistan in the evening. It’s a long flight, 26 hours and 2 layovers in Frankfurt and Dubai. I don’t know how Michelle will handle it. She’s flown to Ottawa, Canada with us and driven from Piscataway, New Jersey to Atlanta, Georgia over two days, but this is much longer and Michelle is older, more mobile and more aware of her surroundings. While Michelle qualified for the infant ticket, we decided to get a child ticket for her as it would be much more comfortable for all of us if she had her own seat on the plane. We are taking her car seat with us on the plane. That will also come in handy in the car in Pakistan. Yes, I know no one in Pakistan uses it and I (actually my Dad) had some trouble finding a car which had rear seat belts so we could install the car seat in it, but we use it here and think it wise to use it in Pakistan’s crazy traffic.

We are visiting Pakistan after 3 years. The last time we were there for my and Amber’s brother’s weddings.

On our return trip, we plan on stopping over in Switzerland for a day. Depending on the weather and Michelle’s mood, we might explore Zurich a little.

Blogging will be somewhat light as we’ll be busy with our families and you guys would probably not be reading blogs during the holidays. However, I’ll try to turn this into a travel blog if my Dad gets DSL before our visit.

PS. 14 1/2 things to do on a 14 1/2 hour flight to Delhi. I must find 26 things then!

سرخ فیتہ

کافی عرصے بعد اردو میں کچھ پڑھا۔ اچھا لگا۔ اس مجموعے میں “یا خدا” اور “ماں جی” سب سے بہتر ہیں۔ باقی کہانیاں کچھ اچھی ہیں اور کچھ بری۔

سرخ فیتہ قدرت اللہ شہاب کی لکھی ہوئی کہانیوں کا مجموعہ ہے۔ بہت عرصے بعد میں نے کوئی اردو میں کتاب پڑھی اسلئے مزا آیا۔ یہ افسانے، کہانیاں اور خاکے مختلف نوعیت اور کوالٹی کے ہیں۔ کچھ بہت اچھے ہیں جیسے “یا خدا” اور “ماں جی” تو کچھ بالکل بیکار مثلاً “اے بنی اسرائیل”۔ اگر کوئی موضوع اس مجموعے میں عام ہے تو وہ شائد عورت ہے۔ مگر افسوس یہ ہے کہ قدرت اللہ شہاب کو عورت کے متعلق لکھنا نہیں آتا۔ کچھ one-dimensional سے ہیں ان کے عورتوں کے کردار۔ اس سے “یا خدا” اور “ماں جی” مستثنیٰ ہیں کیونکہ ان کے کردار جاندار ہیں۔

کتاب کے پبلشر کو تو گولی مار دینی چاہیئے۔ کتاب اس برے طریقے سے ترتیب دی گئی ہے کہ بتا نہیں سکتا۔


Last of the Three Colors trilogy. I rate it 6/10.

Red is the last movie of director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy.

This one is about a guy who listens in on his neighbors’ conversations and a multitude of characters who are connected one way or other.

Overall, this is a reasonable movie, though probably a bit less interesting than the first two. I rate it 7/10 6/10.

میری سالگرہ

آج میں ۳۵ سال کا ہو گیا ہوں۔ میں ۷ دسمبر ۱۹۷۰ کو پاکستانی وقت کے مطابق صبح سوا گیارہ بجے پی‌او‌ایف ہسپتال واہ کینٹ میں پیدا ہوا۔

کہتے ہیں وقت گزرتے پتہ نہیں چلتا۔ لگتا ہے بڑھاپا آنے کا بھی علم نہیں ہوتا۔ جانے کب جلد ہی میں بھی بوڑھا ہو جاؤں گا۔ آج میری سالگرہ ہے۔ عموماً اس دن میں کچھ تصاویر پوسٹ کرتا ہوں مگر اس سال اس کام کو کچھ ملتوی کرنا پڑ گیا ہے۔ امید ہے اگلے ایک مہینے میں اپنی تصاویر بھی اپلوڈ کروں گا۔

Today is my birthday. For some reason, I don’t have much to say today. I am not even posting my photographs like I have done before. However, I do have an idea or two about photographs that would have been very appropriate for today. Except that I haven’t taken those photos yet. Soon I’ll get to that and upload the images around the beginning of the year.

گیارہ سال

آج عنبر اور میری شادی کی سالگرہ ہے۔

میری اور عنبر کی شادی آج سے گیارہ سال پہلے پاکستان میں واہ کینٹ میں ہوئی تھی۔ شادی کی سالگرہ منانے کے لئے ہم کام کے بعد شام کو ایک اچھے سے تھائی ریستوران میں ڈنر کریں گے۔

Eleven years is a long time. That’s how long Amber and I have been married. Today is our anniversary. We are going to dinner at Nan, a Thai restaurant that recently opened in Midtown to celebrate.

The last year has both been the best and the worst toughest of our married life. For both, the “credit” goes to Michelle. Watching her grow from a tiny baby to a very mobile toddler was worth everything and more, but a kid is a full-time responsibility and hence Amber and my relationship has taken somewhat of a backseat to our role as parents. Anyway, it’s been a fun year.