The Evergreen Milli Naghmay!


Picture Credits: Obaid Chawla (I REALLY like this picture!)
So here I am, humming the evergreen milli naghmay (national songs) in my horrendous voice, amidst the Dolby Surround Cough System (yes, my religiously regular cough is back, apparently the flu and cough virus is in the air ... reminds of yet another song: 'Love is in the air!'). 

I remember the time when we used to gather for the August 14 function at school with a patriotic feel as if ready to conquer the world with our free souls. And who doesn't like the lovely and catchy milli naghmay aired till the decade of the 80's or those composed and sung up till the early 90's? Well, because after that no musician in my opinion has been able to create worthwhile national songs. No composition or poetic justice has been done to the term 'milli naghma' itself. Gone are the days of sagacious composers like Sohail Rana and poets like Jameeluddin Aali or Masroor Anwar whose team work used to produce national songs that are still top of the list. Perhaps the dedication towards patriotism was valued over mere commercialism. 

These days, I'm loving the recent rendition titled, 'Tribute to Pakistan from Christian Singers'! Where on Earth have they got such brilliant vocal cords from?! Without a doubt they belong to a Church choir. This could also be a new chapter after the Benjamin Sisters with singers such as these and others like the Viccaji Sisters and Alycia Dias. This particular national song rendition seems to be sung by nightingales and I've been playing it on repeat:

These are some of my all time favourite milli naghmay:

Hum laaey haen toofan sey kashti nikal key:
This is said to be Pakistan's first ever national song that was sung by Saleem Raza in 1956.


Sohni Dharti, Allah Rakhay!:
 
Poet: Masroor Anwar
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Shahnaz Begum 
Year: 1965

Coke Studio had made a lovely remake two years back for their eighth season.

Jeevay Pakistan:
Poet: Jameeluddin Aali
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Shahnaz Begum 
Year: 1972

Yeh watan tumhara hai:
Poet: Kaleem Usmani
Singer: Mehdi Hasan 
Year: 1962

Ay watan pak watan:
Singer: Ustad Amanat Ali Khan 
Poet: Karam Haidery
Year: 1965

Chand meri zameen phool maira watan:
Singer: Ustad Amanat Ali Khan
Poet: Saqi Javed
Year: 1970


Roshan o rakshan:
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Habib Wali Mohammad and various other singers  
Producer: Mohsin Ali 



Watan ki mitti gawah rehna:
Poetess: Sheba Akhtar
Composer: Can't seem to find the name of the composer but I think it was Arshad Mehmood. Please correct me if I am wrong.
Singer: Nayyara Noor
Year: 1981

I simply adore this lady for her voice and simplicity! I wish to see her in Coke Studio some day, creating magic through her voice ... 


Zameen ki gowd:

Poet: Asad Muhammad
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Muhammad Ifrahim
Year: 1980

Hum Mustafavi haen:

Poet: Jameeluddin Aali
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Mehdi Zahoor and various other singers
Year: 1954

Khayal Rakhna:
Poet: Tahir Parwaz
Composer:Nisar Bazmi
Singer: Alamgir & the Benjamin Sisters
Year: 1982


And tell you what ... when I played this song, my parrot, Coco loved it so much that she started dancing which I documented in this video. I know the quality of the video is poor but I couldn't immediately work on the lighting part, she's very moody and could have decided to take a break.


Hum zinda qoum haen:
Composer:Nisar Bazmi
Singers: Tehseen Javed, Amjad Hussain, Fatima Jaffery, and the Benjamin Sisters
Year: 1982

Millat ka pasbaan:
Composer:Nisar Bazmi
Poet: Mian Bashir Ahmed (1945) as per emap.pk
Singer: Masood Rana

Tera Pakistan hai yeh mera Pakistan hai:
Poet: Bashir Farooq
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Amjad Hussain
Year:1982

Mein bhi Pakistan hoon, too bhi Pakistan hai!:
Poet: Jameeluddin Aali
Composer: Sohail Rana
Singer: Muhammad Ali Sheikhi
Year:1986

Deen Zameen Samandar Darya Sehra Kohistan:
Poet: Jameeluddin Aali
Composer: Khalid Asghar
Singer: Iqbal Qasim and Mona Mukhtar
Year:1987

Ay Rah-e-Haq kay Shaheedoun:
Poet: Mushir Kazmi
Composer: Mian Shehryar
Singer: Naseem Begum
Year:1965


Gathering the names of composers and poets for some songs has been very difficult because of very limited or insufficient information. It seems that the 80's was abuzz with a lot of national songs being composed after which the trend of quality music concerning national songs started declining. You may correct any information that you feel could be incorrect and I'll be grateful for that.

With the advent of social media, we have been able to keep track of our treasures. Likewise, such platforms have also made promotional campaigns and direct marketing easier. For instance, I've got the same promotional message from a pizza outlet at least thrice which seems quite tempting despite 'thrice' being somewhat invasive.

Our service industry seems to be gaining momentum as consumers have started following the ZMOT pattern with growing e-commerce, although there seems to be a long way to go. Sastaticket.pk for instance, is celebrating independence through it's Azadi Sale and is offering a 14% discount so if you plan to opt for domestic travel, this maybe a good chance to save money. 





Let's talk Food at The Patio


A few days ago a bunch of us bloggers were invited to The Patio for lunch and hence I thought of sharing my honest feedback regarding their food, from quality to pricing. When it comes to dining out I end up being a burger person (eh ... as far as consuming it is concerned). I like the ambiance of this restaurant and the simple decor they have. However, a little issue is the location itself because there are barriers at the beginning of almost every street and you have to find the right passage to reach the place.

Let's begin with the starters:

Arabic Mezze Platter:

Arabic Mezze Platter (Price: 719)
My mouth has started watering again at the sight of this picture. Ohhh! Trust me, it's amazing! It comes with Hummus, Baba Ghanoush (Lavintine dish of cooked egg plant mixed with tahini, olive oil, and various seasonings), Labneh (the delicious yogurt balls), served with pita and Lavash (the crispy thin bread). It's a must have, the taste and presentation as you can see were splendid. 
Price: 719
Highly recommended

Quinoa & Roast Beef Salad


Quinoa & Roast Beef Salad (Price: 590)

The Quinoa and Roast Beef Salad is served with greens and Dijon dressing. This was good too and very delicious but if I had to choose, I would go for the first option, it gives more of a starter feel and this one part of the main course.
Price: 590

Buffalo Mozzarella Salad:


Buffalo Mozzarella Salad (Price: 890)

This comprises of marinated fresh mozzarella with cherry tomato on a bed of arugula and dressed with olives and chilli gremolata. I loved the salty taste of cheese and its soft texture, besides, it was beautifully presented as well.
Price: Rs. 890

More starters -  Flat breads:
Margherita:

Margherita (Rs 375)
 This is served with Classic Marinara Sauce with mozzarella and basil. 
 Chicken & Jalapeno Flatbread:

Chicken & Jalapeno Flatbread (Price: Rs. 450)
This one was without a doubt better than Margherita so my recommendation would be this one.
Highly recommended

Grilled Jumpo Prawns:

Grilled Jumbo Prawns (Price: Rs. 1930)
Oh my! My! Look at these scary faces and those eyes! This was quite a specialty and very expensive too as it's priced at Rs.1930. These prawns are served with zesty Sriracha Butter and Mango Salsa, the latter is season specific and replaced with pineapples as mangoes discontinue. However, since I don't have the taste palate for tropical cuisines, I didn't like the combination of mangoes with a savoury dish, it's the same as not liking Zardah mixed with Biryani (sorry for the lame comparison). The prawns were good but a bit too bland for the liking of desi foodies, that's because you're supposed to have the butter poured over them and the salsa mixed based on your own liking. Therefore, I only poured the Sriracha butter on the prawn and tasted it, otherwise no mango salsa ... I also don't like fruit salad with sugar or any spice added, I believe it kills the original taste of fruits. So my Ramzan Iftars went with fruit salad without sugar or chaat masala, also summer fruits are already so sweet so why the need for added sugar?
So in conclusion, this particular dish is perfect for those who like tropical cuisine in its original form.

Main Course:
Steak au Gratin:
I can't believe I didn't order a burger despite the choice being there right in my face. I'll make sure that I request for it the next time I go to The Patio because I deviated from my own tradition. 
I went for the Steak au Gartin. It's a pan-seared fillet mignon, topped with shitake and button mushrooms, infused with cream and parmigiano. When it was served, it turned out to be half done and I just couldn't have the knife pass through so had to remind the kind waiter again to have it fully done which he did. And this was so wholesome, considering I had tasted bits from the starters, I was bound to leave quite some part of the steak uneaten.
I'm always concerned about food not going to waste, I hate it when during weddings for instance, people fill up their plates and waste the food. So I asked the owner about what strategy she has in place for left over food and if she donates to social activists like the Robinhood Army. She told me that the customer can either have it packed for themselves or if the food is in decent condition they have their staff who can eat it. So eventually no food goes to waste which is great isn't it?!
I really liked the mushrooms and the sauce and yes the seasoned potatoes were the best, potatoes are love ... I still would like to try their burger! :)
Price: Rs. 1,184

Steak au Gratin (Price: Rs. 1,184)
Other highly photogenic dishes (the plating was lovely for all) that my blogger friends tried were:

Chicken Tournedos:

Chicken Tournedos (Price: Rs. 956)

It's a roulade of chicken breast roasted, and stuffed with mozzarella, spinach, and olives. This is served with herb induced cream sauce and house fettuccine pasta. I tasted it and really liked it although it may appear a bit bland/dry to the liking of some people, especially those who usually prefer food to be spicy.
There were Malaysian Butter Prawns as well which tasted very buttery and creamy, however, I would pass this dish because of the same reason - not too fond of tropical cuisines. But it's Heaven for those who like it along with a very cheesy and buttery taste. 
The person who ordered Prawn & Crab Ravioli felt it was insipid also I feel was because of the same reason, it's not supposed to be spicy otherwise if you're fond of such food then do try it (it's crab stuffed ravioli served with prawns with basil cream sauce).

And here comes the best part of life!
.
.
.
DESSERTS!!!
Patio's desserts are meant to suit different taste palates. Here's what I think about the three different desserts we tasted: 

Tres Leches Cake:

Tres Leches Cake (Price: Rs. 450)
Pronounced as Trayse LAY-chase, it's made of three kinds of milk. It's indeed a delectable three milk cake (evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream) meant for all chocolate lovers and the terrible case of a sweet tooth, even those who play it safe when it come's to the choice of chocolates. Despite being coated with a dark chocolate ganache, it isn't bitter, therefore even meant for those who play it safe and prefer everything sweet. It's an absolute love!
Price: Rs. 450
 
Cheese Cake served with Passion Fruit Curd:

Cheese Cake with Passion Fruit Curd (Price: Rs. 495)
It is a typical cheese cake, therefore only meant to please those who appreciate the taste of the original lemon cheese cake because it would taste a bit intense and strong.
We were told that they import the Passion Fruit from Sri Lanka during its season.
Price: Rs. 495
 
Dark Chocolate Mousse:

Dark Chocolate Mousse (Price: Rs. 410)
Woah this was something! Highly recommended for dark chocolate lovers. Those who only prefer mild chocolate, this may not be for you.With an added taste of cherry, it would definitely delight dark chocolate lovers like me who prefer this strong taste of chocolate. For some reason, it also reminded me of Quality Street's fruity chocolate with the pink wrapper.
Another interesting part is that it is water based, and egg and gluten free or even milk for that matter. Therefore, perfect for people with lactose intolerance.
Price: 410
Overall, the food was superb! However, I feel the prices of a few things were a bit too high especially for starters, these are too costly to begin with, although perfect in terms of taste and quality. 

Trip to Gorakh Hills


Zero Point in the mountains where we stopped before reaching Gorakh Hills

Last week we decided to explore a new place and spark our adventurous souls as we planned to go to Gorakh Hills along with a travel group called the Rover Adventure Club as they're quite renowned for their well planned travel trips in Pakistan. We thought it's finally time to try their services.

Gorakh Hills is a hill station which is located at a distance of 406 km from Karachi and 95 km Northwest of Dadu, Sindh. Also being known as the Murree of Sindh, it definitely is meant to create a memorable experience starting from the long, long, loooong journey as it takes about 8 to 9 hours to travel all the way to Gorakh Hills from Karachi. 

Gorakh is known to be a Sanskrit word which means shepherding and when you'll visit, you'll know why. It is also said that the medieval saint, Sri Gorakhnath Ji had wandered in these hills.

The hill station is situated at an elevation of over 5,600 feet in the Kirthar Mountains. The temperature is often pleasant in summer, generally staying below 20 °C and dropping below zero °C in winter. It even witnessed snowfall once. 

However, when we went last week, it was pretty hot till we eventually reached G-Resort at Gorakh Hills. But it wasn't a matter of concern since we were taken in fully air conditioned and clean vans till Wahi Pandhi (Gorakh Base Camp) after which we travelled up hill in jeeps. The latter part was warm but that's the point of being adventurous; you get to feel the essence of that place while exposing yourself to its climate.

The cost of Rs. 7,000 per head seemed quite reasonable and justified considering the overall trip and the astute management of this travel group. The meeting point was Aga Khan Hospital where we departed from at around 12:45ish - Saturday morning and reached Sehwan Restaurant at around 8 in the morning where we had the scrumptious unda paratha. The reason I called it scrumptious is because trust me, people can even end up burning or deep frying omelettes, this one was good.

Sindh is enriched with natural beauty, especially the bird species that you would encounter on your way so make sure you're carrying a zoom lens along and have a keen eye for details.

Asim, our trip coordinator had been very proactive from the beginning till the end while being available at the onset of any tantrum anyone would throw, so basically this young boy was the mommy for grumpy grown up souls. He often refrained from eating most of the time; for some, travelling and eating don't go along that well so that should be a point of consideration. I have a little issue of motion sickness so I made sure that I wear my motion sickness straps (acustraps) that my sister-in-law sent me and they are quite effective. There is a small stud on each bracelet that applies constant pressure to the P6 point on your wrist thus preventing and relieving motion sickness.

The jeep ride was quite exhilarating and the way, quite winding (reminds me of a poem we read back when I was in the second grade - Winding Ways) and at times bumpy but it was fun. If you're not up for the adventure including the long ride then you might want to think twice.
video

Following our stopover at Zero Point when we finally reached G-Resort, our camping tents were waiting for us where we crashed, post the never ending drive. And then finally lunch was served. You can even pay an additional amount if you want a room to yourself especially the bathroom possessive people because in this case there were a lot of people with only one bathroom to share so this was slightly challenging ... well I guess more than slightly. However, despite so many people, the place was well maintained and there was an endless amount of water unlike here in Karachi. One can even see the water pipe going all the way up. So for a Karachiite like me this aspect was somewhat fascinating - a lot of WATER! 

Also, you should leave all 'nakras' at home if you're going to a place like this; the food is ok and you shouldn't expect a hi-end menu. We were not happy with the biryani that was cooked but then dinner was very decent, the chicken karhai they served was very well cooked and I loved their chapatis, they were out of the world, including the parathas that were served the next morning for breakfast.

You have to catch up on your sleep while on the go because there won't be enough time to sleep on the spot.

The unique selling proposition of this place is the gorgeous sunset and stargazing thanks to no pollution unlike in the city. Benazir Point which is at a hiking distance of 15 minutes is where magic happens. Although we had to hike all the way up but the tour coordinator made an exception for my mother and got the jeep ready since she has an issue of arthritis and her knees become sore easily. It is therefore, a safe ride for people with such medical issues too, don't kill the adventurer inside you just because your joints often feel unhappy.

And this place, my friends was so pleasant and mesmerising that it seemed like a totally different planet altogether. With the sunset so dramatic, thus reflecting upon the mountains with its sheer warmth that it seemed we were on Mars. When you watch movies depicting Mars, often warm hues are highlighted, this is exactly what it seemed like. Also, be careful as it gets extremely windy as you get engulfed by rapidly sweeping clouds. If you don't hold on to your camera or phone properly, these can easily get swept way by the wind to the point of no return. I had my camera set on the tripod, yet it seemed that the kleptomaniac gale was interested in taking both.






As you can see in the pictures below, this is what the sunset looked like although I'm sure it would look even more gorgeous in winter.
This one is a phone click

The oblivious Sara and Quratulain who were with us during this trip

Here's the video of the venue and the strong gale:
video

And DAMN! The much planned stargazing was not possible because of the very cloudy weather which was quite unfortunate ... I mean not the weather but not having to see the stars. This is when I thought it's better to sleep and wake up early and avail the first opportunity to go to the bathroom! :)

There were alot of moths at night and some appeared to be mutant moths as I saw one with glow-in-the-dark eyes. It was perhaps smiling too.

I set an alarm of 4:30 am and yet ended up waking at 5 am so I wasn't the first one to avail using a fresh bathroom, my mom was. And again, the sunrise was lovely too. Here it is:

Something quite extraordinary about this place was its very young and happy donkeys, donkeys that seemed respected and were healthy. They were jumping around with glee, a feeling absent in Urban donkey because they are typically used as donkeys. 

Just look at these donkeys for yourself! 





As we were returning, there were a lot of farms on the way which we missed observing earlier because it was dark in the night. 
I tried snapping some pictures of the fields while in the fast paced van so they maybe blurred.




 We stopped over at Sehwan Restaurant again for lunch and were served with the highly appetising and well presented Sindhi Biryani with each serving sufficient for two people.

And throughout the trip there was an option of photography that Asim was busy in as he snapped pictures of whoever felt (and thought he/she was) beautiful and posed. 

Here's a comparison of traveller moods:

How to Enjoy the trip:
  1. Start enjoying the trip from the point of pick up. If you haven't had dinner, then Aga Khan Hospital's cafeteria is a food haven, you'll love their snacks.
  2. Cherish the ride in Rover Adventure Club's comfortable and air conditioned van. You might want to keep something to cover yourself so that it makes you cozy and you doze off. No fazool music plays unless you request and give them a fazool mp3 collection yourself.
  3. Amaze yourself with the sight of village life during your travel and the presence of unique bird species that you don't get to see in the city - thanks to trees being cut down and the evident monogamous plantation (the poisonous Conocarpus trees which are not indigenous to our land).
  4. Have fun during the jeep ride and observe the mountains ... however, the steep roads and scary turns maybe a test of your nerves. 
  5. Make sure you don't look down from heightened places.
  6. Devour the food at Sehwan Restaurant and admire the chapattis/parathas at G-Resort.
  7. Thank God for the lovely sunsets and sunrises and well ... the stars too.
  8. Hope for stars and when you return to Karachi, hope for clouds ... clouds that shower a consistent supply of rain all over the city.
  9. Look at the helipad near G-resort in awe of the politicians who built it for their own convenience and neglected the basic needs for the natives, especially at Sehwan - the need of a hospital for instance.
  10. Look at the happy donkeys and give your own (corporate) life a thought.
  11. Breathe the fresh, clean air in and thank God for not being stuck in the city traffic jam that very moment.
And here comes the notorious part!

How 'NOT' to enjoy the trip:
  1. If you're travelling in the form of a group, thinking that you have the right over any specific kind or kinds of seats to stay glued to each other. More so, thinking that you have the right even over those seats which people are already seated on.
  2. Thinking you're on a luxury trip despite paying an amount of Rs. 7,000.
  3. Complaining about everything and everyone who is part of the trip - HELLO! That's the point of travelling with a travel group; you get to be acquainted with new and interesting people. However, you can ignore the not so interesting people and mind your own business.
  4. Thinking that the menu maybe customised to suit your preference.
  5. Expecting flying unicorns instead of donkeys at Gorakh Hills.
  6. Expecting a rainbow to compliment the romantic sunset.
  7. Expecting the jeeps to be limousines to rest your weight in (I'm being decent here. Ok?)
  8. Complaining about the tent spot you got.
  9. Not having the perfect seat to continue hugging your significant other while travelling.
  10. Realising that you were not able to keep your mouth closed while you slept in the van.
  11. Actually expecting the tour coordinator to become your mommy for two days despite being adults yourself.
  12. Assuming that you have actually hired the trip coordinator as your official trip photographer and you are not able to exploit him properly.
  13. Complaining that Magnum is actually worth Rs. 150 at G-Resort.
And these lists can go on, to add to the first one you should definitely travel with Rover Adventure Club. When asked why it was named as such, Asim explained the concept of rover being a free spirited person or one who spends his/her time wandering.

In conclusion, it was a good experience and I hope to join this group for more adventures ahead.










Oreo Ice Cream Milkshake



One fine day I felt like experimenting with everything OREO so I decided to make Oreo milkshake and enjoy life the cookie way. And what good would this picture be had I not shared the recipe with you all lovely people? 

Here is what you need:
For the milkshake itself:
1. 250 to 300 ml chilled milk
2. Igloo Cookies and Creme ice cream (2 scoops will be needed)
3. 3 Oreo cookies
4. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
5. 1 tablespoon Cadbury cocoa powder
6. Ice cubes

AND ... a Mason Jar!


For decorating the top
1. White chocolate chips
2. Chocolate sprinkles
3. Chocolate syrup
4. Whipped cream spray
5. Mini Oreos
6. Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate
7. Biscotto Cappuccino wafer sticks 

Instructions:

1. Pour milk in a blender and pray to God that there is no power break down. Add 3 Oreo cookies and a scoop of Igloo Cookies n Cream since that too is Oreo based and adds to a lovely consistency of milkshake. Blend!




Quick Fact: The Oreo biscuit was first developed by the National Biscuit Company in the United States (now Nabisco) in 1912. Some people liken it with the Greek word, Oreo itself which means beautiful or well done. Initially these were sold in novelty cans in glass tops.

2. After blending these ingredients for a few seconds, pour the now blended milkshake in a mason jar.

3.  Add a scoop of Igloo Cookies n Cream on top. I wanted to try adding their Fudge Brownie ice cream too because I love the flavour of rich chocolate, however, due to its specification in terms of being rich in chocolate flavour and consistency, it melts quickly and I didn't have a helping hand at the time when I was preparing the recipe and shooting the video all at once. It would have melted too soon.



4. Spray Puck's whipped cream, pour chocolate sauce and sprinkle chocolate chips and chocolate sprinkles. Don't forget to insert two Biscotto Cappuccino wafer sticks, and Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate pieces at the side.

And VOILA, the Oreo ice cream milk shake is ready! 



Here's a video for a better understanding.


CAUTION: It's SO very wholesome that it would require two adults to consume the entire milkshake ... trust me! :)