Why do we gain weight during Ramadan?

ramadan-iftarEver wonder why do we gain weight during the holy month of Ramadan? We fast. From Fajr till Maghrib. Thats a whopping 15 hours (your local time may vary) of no food or drink under the blazing July Sun. But instead of making us thinner and fitter, we end up with an even wider waistline than before. Makes no sense!

Or does it.

The real problem is not what we eat. But how much we eat. And by God, we eat a lot after dutifully abstaining during the hot summer day. Just visit your nearest Iftar party in a typical Lahori restaurant; we literally invade the buffet trays as if we are famished for days.

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Ubuntu Linux, My Favorite Desktop

Has anyone tried the new Ubuntu Linux Desktop? Yes, instead of the usual Vista from Microsoft, the open source Linux? I did this week. In fact, I downloaded it out of a whim to see how what was this hoopla about Ubuntu. I am an old Unix/Linux fan and have had on occasions had Unix/Linux based machines as my desktop. So it was not my first try at this. But I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

I partitioned my Toshiba laptop hard drive and assigned a small empty space to play with this new operating system. I had previously downloaded a copy of Ubuntu 8.04 Desktop Live CD and used it to install the OS onto my machine. The first thing it gave me was an option to load the OS off the CD and try it out on my laptop without actually installing it. Which I did immediately to see how my laptop would work. To my surprise, and a rarity for me, was that it picked up all the drivers easily. I have had issues with Wifi or display drivers or something in the past with various laptops, but not this time. Everything worked like a charm off the CD and I could even surf the web or do other things.

The next obvious choice was to click on the INSTALL icon and let the installation commence. Once again, it was a smooth install. It recognized an empty space on my harddisk and installed Ubuntu in there with little or no input from me.

In less than an hour, I was actually logged into the Linux system and using the usual softwares to do my daily chores. For office, it comes bundled with Open Office. In fact, once you get used to Open Office, you will not notice which software you are using (Microsoft or Open Office). I had Firefox as my browser and Rythmbox Media player. I even downloaded, Google Picasa (Photo Sharing), Google Earth and Skype from the respective websites and they all worked like a charm on the system.

Even my USB flash drive was plug and play. And best of all, Ubuntu automatically mounted my Windows partitioned so I was able to access my files to work from Linux. Yes, all word, excel and powerpoint documents could be easily opened up from Open office and my music in itunes was quickly imported into Rythmbox to play.

And for those outlook fans, Ubuntu comes bundled with Evolution email client. Which in my opinion is as good (if not better) than Outlook.

Best of all, Linux processor and memory management is far superior to Vista as I was able to get better performance out of it. In fact, the Ubuntu persistently used 50% less memory for equivalent tasks as compared to Vista.

And oh, if you are seeking any particular software for your personal needs, then Ubuntu has that option available through its package download management application. One can easily download, MS Money or Quicken’s equivalent in Linux, or DVD/CD Player, burner and ripper software. There are literally thousands of office, games, communications, programming, educational and accessories softwares to choose from. And the best thing is that all of them are free like the OS.

So my verdict? I have decided to keep Ubuntu Linux as my default desktop. I will be using it to do my daily chores. There is still Vista on my system, but I am not likely to log into it in the foreseeable future.

In my personal opinion of using various Unix (Sun Solaris, HP-UX, NeXTStep) and Linux (Red Hat, Fedora, Ubuntu etc) based Operation Systems, I have come to this conclusion that Linux has now matured enough to compete with Microsoft’s Windows and hold its own. Yes, it is now stable enough with large enough application support that one does not need to worry about any problems or issues. It is virtually as good as anything coming out of Seattle.

In developing countries, like Pakistan, where it is quite difficult to purchase extremely expensive Microsoft products, this is a great alternative. It is cheap (free) and comes with all the goodies that one expects from the traditional operating system.

You can download your own copy of Ubuntu Linux and experience the difference from their website at http://www.ubuntu.com

Last Pole Standing; No More

This week I was back in Lahore. To my horror and surprise, the poles that I wrote about in my earlier blog entitled Last Pole Standing, that had been standing since 1917 were finally brought down by Lahore Cantonment Board (A Military run organization). They considered them as nuisance on the sidewalk and are now no more.

The poles had survived for over 91 years, but could not survive the current military regime. Let’s hope and pray that such senseless acts are not repeated and our historical and heritage is preserved for future generations to see our history and society.

Last Pole Standing

Last Pole Standing

Lahore, is an old and historical city. In fact, the mega metropolitan is over 2,000 years old. It has seen many cultures, religions and invaders leave their impact over the course of centuries. Most recently, it were the British who had designated Lahore as the capital of United Punjab (India, Pakistan provinces of Punjab etc). The city now has over 9 million inhabitants and is Pakistan’s second largest city and most definitely its cultural capital.

Now, according to the records that I have been digging up, it seems electricity reached the city around 1909. And within a decade was spread all over the city. As it happens, I chanced upon one of the earliest electricity poles in the city dating back to 1917. Yes, they still survive and two such poles can be found on Zafar Road (Off Abid Majeed Road) in Lahore Cantt.

As the picture depicts, these poles were installed in Cantonment area around 1917 (the date is carved on each of the poles). There are now only two such surviving pieces left on the street. In fact, one of them is already broken down in two the other is still intact.

Last pole almost standing

Culturally, we should be preserving them as they are almost 100 years old and carried one of the first electricity based power in Lahore. They are our living heritage.

Vintage Rolls Royce in PC Lahore

For all those vintage and classic car fans out there, Pearl Continental Lahore has a treat for you. A 1922, fully restored Rolls Royce is on display in the main lobby.

This 1922 model was imported in 1924 by Nawab of Bhawalpur in Pakistan. The car was later used by various Pakistani Presidents including General Ayub Khan. It is currently owned by Pakistan Services Limited (The owners of Ovex Technologies and Servis Shoes)

It is amazing to see how many Lahoris stop and admire the beautifully restored vehicle. Many even resort to taking pictures with it. I must say, it is a treat for us fans of vintage vehicles.

Lahore Book Fair

Lahore Book Fair

This is probably Pakistan’s largest book fair to be held this year at Fortress Stadium Lahore. There were publishers from all parts of Pakistan, and a few from our neighboring India as well. An estimated 40,000 people have visited the fair since it started on February 28, 2008. The last day is Monday, March 3, 2008. Many big publishers and bookstores had setup huge stalls where they sold books at steep discounts including the well known ones like Ferozesons, Sang-e-meel, Liberty Books, Vanguard, Readings, Oxford University Press, among others.

There were also many text book publishers and religious publishers who also sold books in English and Urdu including the Holy Quran. I even saw one stall selling audio books which was attracting lot of interest. I ended up picking up many wonderful books (business, fiction and biographies) at over 50% discount and even more for some of my favorites.

One interesting point to note was that lots of families were there with their young kids. And many of them were pushing, pulling and coercing their parents to buy them their favorite children books. It was amazing to see such huge interest in the youth in reading. It shows that Harry Potter is not the only fiction that kids read today. And it further validates that the tradition of Lahoris (of being lovers of poetry and literature) is not lost but is still vibrant and being passed onto the youth of the country with much fan fare.

I would love to see such events happening more often all over Pakistan.

Spring Time

The cold spell has finally broken. And with it the wonderful spring atmosphere is finally here. This was probably the longest cold spell for a long time in Pakistan. With Islamabad, Lahore and other major cities suffering from near freezing temperatures at night. But now with warmer afternoons and pleasant evenings, the spring weather is finally here.

Spring time

Here is a picture of my garden taken today. In a week or so, it will be blossoming with flowers that make the Lahori spring a wonderful experience.