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View Full Version : Member Interview : Nostalgic



Abdul
20th January 2016, 01:32
PakPassion.net : What is the reason behind your username Nostalgic?

Nostalgic : Because I don’t so much take strolls down memory lane as live there, gingerly venturing to the present only if compelled by circumstance or necessity.

It has always been thus. There is a comfort to the past, a certainty that provides succor in unpredictable times, an almost talismanic shield against the prospect of a foreboding future. The old bromide of not realizing the true worth of people, and objects, until they are no more, holds true for time as well.

From a personal perspective, the past simply was better. The shelter of my parents’ house, the security of a relatively privileged upbringing, the blossom of my own youth, the promise of a bright future, the lull before the storm on the geopolitical front. And of course a cricket team brimming with talent. How quickly it all passed.



PakPassion.net : You're one of the few posters that have complete command over punctuation, grammar and language - how did you acquire such mastery?

Nostalgic : It is a consequence of suffering from a susceptibility to stutter and stammer, not because of any congenital disability, but because my brain works far faster than my tongue. I will be in the middle of a sentence, while my mind is already thinking ahead and trying to settle on the most apposite of words from the list of possibilities, while it is also judging whether what I have already uttered could have been phrased better. The result is an attempt to rephrase what I had said, in the middle of an incomplete sentence, just as I blurt out bits of what was meant to be the remainder of the sentence.

It isn’t actually quite as acute as I make it sound, but I’ve made many a faux pas over the years. Because of the aforementioned tendency, or handicap if you will, I have been, since childhood, fascinated by language: by the magic of words, the music of alliteration, the beauty of the grammatical edifice. Fascinated by language, due to my not having been able to master the spoken word as best as I have desired to. This infatuation with language quite naturally led to a love for reading, and years upon years of reading (and writing) will inevitably develop an ear for diction and phrasing.



PakPassion.net : What is the reason for you not posting frequently on the cricket section as much as on the Time Pass forum?

Nostalgic : This is a question asked of me very frequently, so it deserves a detailed answer. My not posting on the cricket forum stems from a combination of at least five factors, listed below:

i) The realization that I know less about the game than I thought I did. Or phrased another way, I know what I know, but there are so many others who know far, far more. There are some incredibly knowledgeable posters on the cricket forum, and whatever I know about the game pales in comparison. Consequently, I’m not convinced I would be contributing much to the discussion.

On Time Pass on the other hand, there are invariably topics I feel I am truly contributing to. The compliments I periodically receive on Time Pass strengthen that belief.

ii) Living in the US, and not being able to follow the game the way it is possible to in Pakistan, where any match, no matter how inconsequential, is always on TV, and whether one is actually paying attention to it or not, there it is, in the background. Consequently, I feel I have not been in touch with the game enough to be able to comment on it intelligently enough.

I do follow Pakistan games on Cricinfo, and watch highlights later, but neither is a substitute for watching a game live, in its entirety, like I was once able to. It has come to a point where I’m unable to recognize quite a few of the non-Pakistan players.

iii) An inherent resistance to change, and the comfort of the familiar, which is what Time Pass furnishes me. I started out posting on Time Pass, and it has come to feel like home. While I do browse the cricket forum frequently, it does at times feel like a separate entity entirely, and like every new venture, it is a daunting prospect to start afresh, establish my presence, and make my voice heard.

iv) The somewhat intimidating pace of the cricket forum. I find Time Pass’s relatively leisurely pace more to my liking, especially considering my penchant for taking the time to phrase a post until the feel is just right, in tone and tenor and substance (and diction and grammar and punctuation of course). These are all attributes that would be threatened by the whirlwind nature of the rate at which posts are added to the average thread on the cricket forum. We mustn’t let our standards flag!

v) Last but not least, the realization that I wasn’t so much in love with cricket as I was in love with a game my country has historically done well at. While I do love the game, its history, its traditions, its lore, the sound of willow on leather, the strategic intricacies and the sheer elegance of it all, I’m not sure I would pay it the attention I do (or did), if Pakistan were not a major player.

In many ways, what with the burgeoning Big Three monopoly and the fall of our standards and dare I say our stock, the writing is on the wall for us, even if the death throes drag on for a while, and my passion for it has waned progressively, in parallel with and in proportion to our decline.

You could accuse me of being a fair weather fan, but that may be just a touch unfair. That said, were we to get our act together again, you might just find me posting as prolifically on the cricket forum as I do on Time Pass.



PakPassion.net : Who is your favorite cricketer from Pakistan at the moment, and why?

Nostalgic : We aren’t exactly spoilt for choice these days, but if I had to choose from the current lot, I would go with Misbah-ul-Haq.

We’ve had quite a few lows over the last few years, but the England tour of 2010 was the nadir. The two bowlers who were the saving grace were gone, and how. And in stepped a man who was contemplating retirement, and well past the usual retirement age, to take on one of the toughest jobs in the game. Since then, he has gone some way in winning us back the respect his predecessor had peddled away for pennies.

He’s a decent batsman too. Not a great of the game, but a very good player nonetheless. Had he made his debut before 2001 at age 26, or had been given a proper enough run afterwards, his numbers would have been even better. I don’t agree with the belief that he couldn’t break into the stellar middle order of Inzamam, Younis and Yousaf in the mid-2000’s, because we had the likes of Faisal Iqbal and several stopgaps filling the late middle order slot during that era.

Lets not forget that he has achieved all he has whilst two heavy millstones dangle from his neck: the 2007 final, and the 2011 semi-final. A lesser man would have gone mad dwelling over what could have been. And then there is the constant criticism in the background, some of it legitimate but much of it unwarranted, and downright petty.

Last but not least, his accomplishments are a victory for gentlemanly decency. One thing I’ve learnt over my years abroad is that everything one does, the good but especially the bad, reflects on one’s country. We’ve had far more than our share of idiots who, their talent notwithstanding, have tarnished our name overseas with their antics. By contrast, I believe he has been a fine ambassador for us. If he can finish on a high, with successful and controversy-free tours to England and possibly Australia, his legacy will be secure.

All this is not to suggest that his vocal detractors are entirely off the mark, especially when it comes to ODIs, but in my estimation, the services he has rendered far outweigh his shortcomings. I fear we will realize his true worth once he hangs up his boots, and the lunatics take over the asylum once again.



PakPassion.net : What is your biggest regret in the life?

Nostalgic : Not being able to finish my PhD and return to Pakistan. This one tragedy has shaped my life irrevocably, much more so than any other momentous event. It was a real turning point, a fork in the road.

I thought I had it all figured out: finish the PhD, return home, join a University as faculty, and be in a position to mould and mentor the next generation of my compatriots, providing them the sort of guidance that was denied me, by vindictive professors with religious vendettas and petty personal axes to grind.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. For reasons I won’t go into, I ended up not completing the doctorate, being saddled with debt with a family to feed, and with career prospects not palatable enough were I to return to Pakistan. There isn’t a day when I don’t mull over what could have, and should have been, and curse the course of events.



PakPassion.net : Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Nostalgic : “Little” being the operative word? And conveniently so too, to ward off any would-be stalkers. Instead of a chronology, how about a thematic take on the question?

The overarching theme of my life has been transience. I have lived in fifteen houses in ten cities in four countries, and because of it, I have always yearned for a semblance of permanency. Also due to it, I have an affinity for certain places: airports, hotels and cemeteries, each one emblematic of the ephemeral.

I have lived half my life away from Pakistan, but the country has been one of the few constants in my life, perhaps more so when I’ve been abroad. The land, the languages, the music, the ethnicities, the politics, all have been a passion, and I like to think I am always in Pakistan in spirit if not in flesh.

Stereotypical upper middle-class concerns have been the bane of my existence. The rigmarole of studies culminating in three degrees, the drudgery of a career in one of the so-called respectable professions, marriage and children and lately, even stocks and mortgages. It is downright stultifying, and the shackles are sturdy.

So to sum it all up, I am a somewhat educated upper middle-class overseas Pakistani, with all the baggage that comes with it. There are juicy tidbits worthy of gossip columns scattered all over my posts, and in the rest of the answers for that matter, which should help filling out the rest of the details.



PakPassion.net : How do you see Pakistan in fifteen years from now on?

Nostalgic : In essence, no different from what it is right now, and what it has always been.

We are a country of mind-boggling contrasts, always have been, and always will be, and this dichotomy has encroached onto how we (and others) have prophesied our future. There was the fear that we would collapse five years after independence, yet there was also the belief that we were a potential powerhouse. Fast-forward sixty-odd years or so, and nothing much has changed in that respect: from accusations of being a failing (or failed) state on the one hand, to predictions of the economy being on the verge of taking off on the other, the conjectures are still the same.

Neither extreme has come to pass, and neither will, going by what has transpired thus far. We totter on the edge of the precipice, but have never quite plunged inexorably down it. What has happened, and will continue to, is that the disparity between the extremes that is so utterly manifest in every aspect of life will continue to accentuate. The gulf between the rich and the poor, the religious and the secular, and perhaps the most crucial of them all, the Balkanization of the self: the almost antipodean polarity within.

A more concrete answer to your question: I have premonitions about the chickens finally coming home to roost, being the perennial pessimist. We have on our hands a rampant right-wing and unbridled and deleterious Saudi influence that have destroyed the brains and the psyche of an entire generation. I fear that over the next fifteen years, we will be unable to stem this particular tide even if we were to put our minds to it, and we may be in for far more trouble than we have already seen over the last decade or so. Here’s to hoping otherwise.



PakPassion.net : Which countries would you like to visit, and why?

Nostalgic : Pakistan, first and foremost. I haven’t been back home in close to a decade now, and I pine for it desperately. Perhaps I will bring back a fistful of earth whenever I do get to visit, a symbolic memento of sorts. Then again, it may get confiscated at the airport.

Afghanistan and Iran would be next on the list. Pakistan straddles the crossroads of South and Central Asia, and we possess a socio cultural heritage that reflects the real estate. I have always been intrigued by what lies west of us far more than what lies east, so Afghanistan and Iran are high on my list of potential destinations, as are, because of an extension of the allure of our immediate west, the Central Asian Republics. I was once quite fluent in Farsi, a language I grew to love due to its influence on Urdu, especially poetry, and due to it having been the lingua franca of the elite in centuries past.

Next, the former Yugoslavia. Years ago I read somewhere how Pakistan is Yugoslavia with nuclear weapons, and an enduring fascination with the Balkans took root. While the correspondence with Pakistan may not be completely on the mark, the existence of the erstwhile Yugoslavia, and what happened to it, does have some parallels, and holds some lessons for us. Even otherwise, their history is compelling: Catholicism and Orthodoxy and Islam, the Ottomans and the Habsburgs, the overlap of ethnicity and language and faith, the trigger for World War I.

Finally, some day I would like to spend a year or two living and working in Britain. It isn’t necessarily the most exotic of locales, but British influences on us, courtesy the Raj, are omnipresent to this day, and I’m a bit of an Anglophile.



PakPassion.net : What are some of your hobbies?

Nostalgic : In descending order of appeal:

i) Reading. I’ve always been a voracious reader. I remember as I child, I was the dream guest at dinner parties. While the other children would run amok, breaking things and creating an almighty ruckus, I would try to find books to read, failing which, I would open the hosts’ cupboards and closets to see if they had any newspapers lining the shelves. No matter how old the newspaper, I would read it.

Once upon a time, I would plan my day around my reading: taking the longer route home or to work to be able to read on the commute, reading during classes, and on at least a few occasions, reading whilst stopped at a red light. Books have been a portal into a myriad of other worlds. An escape, and an insightful, fulfilling one at that. From Joyce to Faiz to religious tomes to pulpy booklets on black magic sold at roadside stalls, I’ve read them all.

ii) Writing is next. Continuing from my answer to Question 2, the written word is my preferred way of communication, whether it be an articulation of my deepest desires and fears, or the far more mundane expression of an opinion on an online forum or an email.

I have, for years now, dabbled in writing short stories, but I have still to develop a repertoire. The paucity of output stems from a lack of creativity. I find crafting a sentence, structuring a paragraph and conjuring vivid descriptive pictures of locales incredibly easy, but plots and characterization elude me, in spite of having devoured every book on plotting I could lay my hands on. Being an introvert, absorbed in books and the internet, I haven’t to this day managed to develop an insight into human nature profound enough to create the sort of authentic characters that good literature demands.

I distinctly remember a line from a hand-written note I received from the editor of a literary magazine I submitted some stories to. “Your descriptive writing is accomplished, but your stories lack sufficient tension.” I believe “Ouch” is the expression. The silver lining of course is the fact that the overworked editor of a top lit mag wrote me a hand-written note, instead of dishing out the pro forma rejection slip.

My fondest desire is to win the Booker Prize some day, but deep in my heart of hearts I know I will never quite manage the time, energy, discipline and of course the creativity to churn out (yes, because that is what it boils down to) enough quality short stories for a collection. It is a pity too, because if I were to able to weave my experiences into stories, in other words put the story in short story, I may be on to something.

iii) Acoustic guitars, never electrics, were a passion for a long time. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to boutique acoustic guitars, having travelled hours to play finely-crafted instruments, or to attend house concerts by obscure acoustic artistes.

I can debate for hours the virtues of Sitka Spruce over Cedar, or Rosewood over Mahogany, or the finer details of bracing, string spacing and nut and saddle material. I’ve owned quite a few very fine instruments myself, but like the car aficionado who owns Ferraris but isn’t much of a driver, I was never an accomplished player. I knew music theory inside out, and had what I thought were great ideas for compositions, but I never really put in the hard yards, despite some praise from established players.

Last year I sold my last guitar, since I couldn’t justify owning it. Perhaps some day I will return to playing, once I’ve taken care of more immediate existential concerns.

iv) Some may find it incongruous with my persona, I certainly do, but lifting weights is a hobby, albeit a sporadic one, which I’ve only recently really started taking seriously. All those feel-good endorphins coursing through my system are a bit of a guilty pleasure though, because a gaunt, almost emaciated physique would have suited my morbid personality better. As would goth makeup for that matter.



PakPassion.net : In your opinion, what is your biggest achievement, thus far?

Nostalgic : Finally, the question that stumped me. The “gotcha,” as the Americans call it. I’ve raked my brain for what would be a sufficiently momentous achievement to lay claim to, but there really isn’t any.

Academically and professionally, I’ve flattered to deceive. There was promise aplenty, but results have not lived up to the expectations I had of myself, and more importantly those that my family had of me. Academically, I was the star student until the PhD debacle, with a mere MS from a school ranked in the teens being the culmination of what was supposed to have been a far more accomplished academic career.

Professionally too, I am still to achieve my big break, the prospect of which is hampered by the fact that I’m a very reluctant engineer, and while as a matter of pride and principle I give it everything, I simply do not and cannot live and breathe computer chips and assorted technical objects like my overachieving peers do.

I suppose my biggest achievements thus far aren’t quantifiable in terms of laurels earned or money made. I like to think I’ve been a good son, husband and father, or at least tried to be. My parents and children would be inclined to agree, although my wife may challenge that assertion.

Having lived over half of my life abroad, I believe I’ve never done anything that would reflect badly on my nationality and heritage, and I have made it a point to slog through work, as unpalatable as I find it, partly if not purely because I wouldn’t want any lack of performance on my part to be extrapolated to a judgement of my compatriots.

Composing this answer has made me realize I really ought to get my act together!



PakPassion.net : How did you find PakPassion.net?

Nostalgic : It was early 2008, and with the boss away on a business trip, I was whiling away the time at the office. I ordered lunch, and started watching YouTube videos of memorable Pakistan games. Once I was done with that, for some reason I decided to Google “Pakistan cricket,” and came across the forum.

I distinctly remember receiving the lunch order from my favorite Chinese eatery, and browsing PakPassion for the first time whilst devouring Spicy Fish Filet with Hot Szechuan Sauce. Years later, I can still sometimes smell and taste the Szechuan chili peppers when I log in. It is fascinating how the olfactory and gustatory senses come rushing back with the memory of an event.

It took me another year to register, and over four more to start posting regularly. I believe I have a only couple of posts from 2009, right after I registered, but I haven’t been able to find them. The floodgates opened in late 2013. I had moved to another state, and in a fit of homesickness and a desire to communicate with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen, started posting regularly. And here I am, being interviewed. I suppose I can say I’ve finally arrived at the forum?

Slog
20th January 2016, 01:47
What a great interview. One of the greatest posters on Pakpassion and a joy to interact with. We have had quite a few conversations on PP on varying topics and i have enjoyed all of them. Also in real life we have twice missed being in the same city as each other by mere weeks.

May Allah always keep you and your family happy.

Might ask some questions later and hopefully got them answered. Totally missed the questions thread. Life's been a bit busy lately and I only get to log for an hour everyday and postings mostly restricted to cricket section these days

WC-Passion
20th January 2016, 01:49
Brilliant interview, Nostalgic always writes interesting posts. Sad that he doesn't post in the Cricket section.

shaz619
20th January 2016, 01:49
Great interview; enjoy reading your posts Nostalgic. I hope you are able to learn how to plot short stories; keep trying.

Can relate to bits and pieces of what has been said in the interview.

GoUgandaCranes
20th January 2016, 01:50
PakPassion.net : What is the reason behind your username Nostalgic?

Nostalgic : Because I don’t so much take strolls down memory lane as live there, gingerly venturing to the present only if compelled by circumstance or necessity.

It has always been thus. There is a comfort to the past, a certainty that provides succor in unpredictable times, an almost talismanic shield against the prospect of a foreboding future. The old bromide of not realizing the true worth of people, and objects, until they are no more, holds true for time as well.

From a personal perspective, the past simply was better. The shelter of my parents’ house, the security of a relatively privileged upbringing, the blossom of my own youth, the promise of a bright future, the lull before the storm on the geopolitical front. And of course a cricket team brimming with talent. How quickly it all passed.



PakPassion.net : You're one of the few posters that have complete command over punctuation, grammar and language - how did you acquire such mastery?

Nostalgic : It is a consequence of suffering from a susceptibility to stutter and stammer, not because of any congenital disability, but because my brain works far faster than my tongue. I will be in the middle of a sentence, while my mind is already thinking ahead and trying to settle on the most apposite of words from the list of possibilities, while it is also judging whether what I have already uttered could have been phrased better. The result is an attempt to rephrase what I had said, in the middle of an incomplete sentence, just as I blurt out bits of what was meant to be the remainder of the sentence.

It isn’t actually quite as acute as I make it sound, but I’ve made many a faux pas over the years. Because of the aforementioned tendency, or handicap if you will, I have been, since childhood, fascinated by language: by the magic of words, the music of alliteration, the beauty of the grammatical edifice. Fascinated by language, due to my not having been able to master the spoken word as best as I have desired to. This infatuation with language quite naturally led to a love for reading, and years upon years of reading (and writing) will inevitably develop an ear for diction and phrasing.



PakPassion.net : What is the reason for you not posting frequently on the cricket section as much as on the Time Pass forum?

Nostalgic : This is a question asked of me very frequently, so it deserves a detailed answer. My not posting on the cricket forum stems from a combination of at least five factors, listed below:

i) The realization that I know less about the game than I thought I did. Or phrased another way, I know what I know, but there are so many others who know far, far more. There are some incredibly knowledgeable posters on the cricket forum, and whatever I know about the game pales in comparison. Consequently, I’m not convinced I would be contributing much to the discussion.

On Time Pass on the other hand, there are invariably topics I feel I am truly contributing to. The compliments I periodically receive on Time Pass strengthen that belief.

ii) Living in the US, and not being able to follow the game the way it is possible to in Pakistan, where any match, no matter how inconsequential, is always on TV, and whether one is actually paying attention to it or not, there it is, in the background. Consequently, I feel I have not been in touch with the game enough to be able to comment on it intelligently enough.

I do follow Pakistan games on Cricinfo, and watch highlights later, but neither is a substitute for watching a game live, in its entirety, like I was once able to. It has come to a point where I’m unable to recognize quite a few of the non-Pakistan players.

iii) An inherent resistance to change, and the comfort of the familiar, which is what Time Pass furnishes me. I started out posting on Time Pass, and it has come to feel like home. While I do browse the cricket forum frequently, it does at times feel like a separate entity entirely, and like every new venture, it is a daunting prospect to start afresh, establish my presence, and make my voice heard.

iv) The somewhat intimidating pace of the cricket forum. I find Time Pass’s relatively leisurely pace more to my liking, especially considering my penchant for taking the time to phrase a post until the feel is just right, in tone and tenor and substance (and diction and grammar and punctuation of course). These are all attributes that would be threatened by the whirlwind nature of the rate at which posts are added to the average thread on the cricket forum. We mustn’t let our standards flag!

v) Last but not least, the realization that I wasn’t so much in love with cricket as I was in love with a game my country has historically done well at. While I do love the game, its history, its traditions, its lore, the sound of willow on leather, the strategic intricacies and the sheer elegance of it all, I’m not sure I would pay it the attention I do (or did), if Pakistan were not a major player.

In many ways, what with the burgeoning Big Three monopoly and the fall of our standards and dare I say our stock, the writing is on the wall for us, even if the death throes drag on for a while, and my passion for it has waned progressively, in parallel with and in proportion to our decline.

You could accuse me of being a fair weather fan, but that may be just a touch unfair. That said, were we to get our act together again, you might just find me posting as prolifically on the cricket forum as I do on Time Pass.



PakPassion.net : Who is your favorite cricketer from Pakistan at the moment, and why?

Nostalgic : We aren’t exactly spoilt for choice these days, but if I had to choose from the current lot, I would go with Misbah-ul-Haq.

We’ve had quite a few lows over the last few years, but the England tour of 2010 was the nadir. The two bowlers who were the saving grace were gone, and how. And in stepped a man who was contemplating retirement, and well past the usual retirement age, to take on one of the toughest jobs in the game. Since then, he has gone some way in winning us back the respect his predecessor had peddled away for pennies.

He’s a decent batsman too. Not a great of the game, but a very good player nonetheless. Had he made his debut before 2001 at age 26, or had been given a proper enough run afterwards, his numbers would have been even better. I don’t agree with the belief that he couldn’t break into the stellar middle order of Inzamam, Younis and Yousaf in the mid-2000’s, because we had the likes of Faisal Iqbal and several stopgaps filling the late middle order slot during that era.

Lets not forget that he has achieved all he has whilst two heavy millstones dangle from his neck: the 2007 final, and the 2011 semi-final. A lesser man would have gone mad dwelling over what could have been. And then there is the constant criticism in the background, some of it legitimate but much of it unwarranted, and downright petty.

Last but not least, his accomplishments are a victory for gentlemanly decency. One thing I’ve learnt over my years abroad is that everything one does, the good but especially the bad, reflects on one’s country. We’ve had far more than our share of idiots who, their talent notwithstanding, have tarnished our name overseas with their antics. By contrast, I believe he has been a fine ambassador for us. If he can finish on a high, with successful and controversy-free tours to England and possibly Australia, his legacy will be secure.

All this is not to suggest that his vocal detractors are entirely off the mark, especially when it comes to ODIs, but in my estimation, the services he has rendered far outweigh his shortcomings. I fear we will realize his true worth once he hangs up his boots, and the lunatics take over the asylum once again.



PakPassion.net : What is your biggest regret in the life?

Nostalgic : Not being able to finish my PhD and return to Pakistan. This one tragedy has shaped my life irrevocably, much more so than any other momentous event. It was a real turning point, a fork in the road.

I thought I had it all figured out: finish the PhD, return home, join a University as faculty, and be in a position to mould and mentor the next generation of my compatriots, providing them the sort of guidance that was denied me, by vindictive professors with religious vendettas and petty personal axes to grind.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. For reasons I won’t go into, I ended up not completing the doctorate, being saddled with debt with a family to feed, and with career prospects not palatable enough were I to return to Pakistan. There isn’t a day when I don’t mull over what could have, and should have been, and curse the course of events.



PakPassion.net : Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Nostalgic : “Little” being the operative word? And conveniently so too, to ward off any would-be stalkers. Instead of a chronology, how about a thematic take on the question?

The overarching theme of my life has been transience. I have lived in fifteen houses in ten cities in four countries, and because of it, I have always yearned for a semblance of permanency. Also due to it, I have an affinity for certain places: airports, hotels and cemeteries, each one emblematic of the ephemeral.

I have lived half my life away from Pakistan, but the country has been one of the few constants in my life, perhaps more so when I’ve been abroad. The land, the languages, the music, the ethnicities, the politics, all have been a passion, and I like to think I am always in Pakistan in spirit if not in flesh.

Stereotypical upper middle-class concerns have been the bane of my existence. The rigmarole of studies culminating in three degrees, the drudgery of a career in one of the so-called respectable professions, marriage and children and lately, even stocks and mortgages. It is downright stultifying, and the shackles are sturdy.

So to sum it all up, I am a somewhat educated upper middle-class overseas Pakistani, with all the baggage that comes with it. There are juicy tidbits worthy of gossip columns scattered all over my posts, and in the rest of the answers for that matter, which should help filling out the rest of the details.



PakPassion.net : How do you see Pakistan in fifteen years from now on?

Nostalgic : In essence, no different from what it is right now, and what it has always been.

We are a country of mind-boggling contrasts, always have been, and always will be, and this dichotomy has encroached onto how we (and others) have prophesied our future. There was the fear that we would collapse five years after independence, yet there was also the belief that we were a potential powerhouse. Fast-forward sixty-odd years or so, and nothing much has changed in that respect: from accusations of being a failing (or failed) state on the one hand, to predictions of the economy being on the verge of taking off on the other, the conjectures are still the same.

Neither extreme has come to pass, and neither will, going by what has transpired thus far. We totter on the edge of the precipice, but have never quite plunged inexorably down it. What has happened, and will continue to, is that the disparity between the extremes that is so utterly manifest in every aspect of life will continue to accentuate. The gulf between the rich and the poor, the religious and the secular, and perhaps the most crucial of them all, the Balkanization of the self: the almost antipodean polarity within.

A more concrete answer to your question: I have premonitions about the chickens finally coming home to roost, being the perennial pessimist. We have on our hands a rampant right-wing and unbridled and deleterious Saudi influence that have destroyed the brains and the psyche of an entire generation. I fear that over the next fifteen years, we will be unable to stem this particular tide even if we were to put our minds to it, and we may be in for far more trouble than we have already seen over the last decade or so. Here’s to hoping otherwise.



PakPassion.net : Which countries would you like to visit, and why?

Nostalgic : Pakistan, first and foremost. I haven’t been back home in close to a decade now, and I pine for it desperately. Perhaps I will bring back a fistful of earth whenever I do get to visit, a symbolic memento of sorts. Then again, it may get confiscated at the airport.

Afghanistan and Iran would be next on the list. Pakistan straddles the crossroads of South and Central Asia, and we possess a socio cultural heritage that reflects the real estate. I have always been intrigued by what lies west of us far more than what lies east, so Afghanistan and Iran are high on my list of potential destinations, as are, because of an extension of the allure of our immediate west, the Central Asian Republics. I was once quite fluent in Farsi, a language I grew to love due to its influence on Urdu, especially poetry, and due to it having been the lingua franca of the elite in centuries past.

Next, the former Yugoslavia. Years ago I read somewhere how Pakistan is Yugoslavia with nuclear weapons, and an enduring fascination with the Balkans took root. While the correspondence with Pakistan may not be completely on the mark, the existence of the erstwhile Yugoslavia, and what happened to it, does have some parallels, and holds some lessons for us. Even otherwise, their history is compelling: Catholicism and Orthodoxy and Islam, the Ottomans and the Habsburgs, the overlap of ethnicity and language and faith, the trigger for World War I.

Finally, some day I would like to spend a year or two living and working in Britain. It isn’t necessarily the most exotic of locales, but British influences on us, courtesy the Raj, are omnipresent to this day, and I’m a bit of an Anglophile.



PakPassion.net : What are some of your hobbies?

Nostalgic : In descending order of appeal:

i) Reading. I’ve always been a voracious reader. I remember as I child, I was the dream guest at dinner parties. While the other children would run amok, breaking things and creating an almighty ruckus, I would try to find books to read, failing which, I would open the hosts’ cupboards and closets to see if they had any newspapers lining the shelves. No matter how old the newspaper, I would read it.

Once upon a time, I would plan my day around my reading: taking the longer route home or to work to be able to read on the commute, reading during classes, and on at least a few occasions, reading whilst stopped at a red light. Books have been a portal into a myriad of other worlds. An escape, and an insightful, fulfilling one at that. From Joyce to Faiz to religious tomes to pulpy booklets on black magic sold at roadside stalls, I’ve read them all.

ii) Writing is next. Continuing from my answer to Question 2, the written word is my preferred way of communication, whether it be an articulation of my deepest desires and fears, or the far more mundane expression of an opinion on an online forum or an email.

I have, for years now, dabbled in writing short stories, but I have still to develop a repertoire. The paucity of output stems from a lack of creativity. I find crafting a sentence, structuring a paragraph and conjuring vivid descriptive pictures of locales incredibly easy, but plots and characterization elude me, in spite of having devoured every book on plotting I could lay my hands on. Being an introvert, absorbed in books and the internet, I haven’t to this day managed to develop an insight into human nature profound enough to create the sort of authentic characters that good literature demands.

I distinctly remember a line from a hand-written note I received from the editor of a literary magazine I submitted some stories to. “Your descriptive writing is accomplished, but your stories lack sufficient tension.” I believe “Ouch” is the expression. The silver lining of course is the fact that the overworked editor of a top lit mag wrote me a hand-written note, instead of dishing out the pro forma rejection slip.

My fondest desire is to win the Booker Prize some day, but deep in my heart of hearts I know I will never quite manage the time, energy, discipline and of course the creativity to churn out (yes, because that is what it boils down to) enough quality short stories for a collection. It is a pity too, because if I were to able to weave my experiences into stories, in other words put the story in short story, I may be on to something.

iii) Acoustic guitars, never electrics, were a passion for a long time. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to boutique acoustic guitars, having travelled hours to play finely-crafted instruments, or to attend house concerts by obscure acoustic artistes.

I can debate for hours the virtues of Sitka Spruce over Cedar, or Rosewood over Mahogany, or the finer details of bracing, string spacing and nut and saddle material. I’ve owned quite a few very fine instruments myself, but like the car aficionado who owns Ferraris but isn’t much of a driver, I was never an accomplished player. I knew music theory inside out, and had what I thought were great ideas for compositions, but I never really put in the hard yards, despite some praise from established players.

Last year I sold my last guitar, since I couldn’t justify owning it. Perhaps some day I will return to playing, once I’ve taken care of more immediate existential concerns.

iv) Some may find it incongruous with my persona, I certainly do, but lifting weights is a hobby, albeit a sporadic one, which I’ve only recently really started taking seriously. All those feel-good endorphins coursing through my system are a bit of a guilty pleasure though, because a gaunt, almost emaciated physique would have suited my morbid personality better. As would goth makeup for that matter.



PakPassion.net : In your opinion, what is your biggest achievement, thus far?

Nostalgic : Finally, the question that stumped me. The “gotcha,” as the Americans call it. I’ve raked my brain for what would be a sufficiently momentous achievement to lay claim to, but there really isn’t any.

Academically and professionally, I’ve flattered to deceive. There was promise aplenty, but results have not lived up to the expectations I had of myself, and more importantly those that my family had of me. Academically, I was the star student until the PhD debacle, with a mere MS from a school ranked in the teens being the culmination of what was supposed to have been a far more accomplished academic career.

Professionally too, I am still to achieve my big break, the prospect of which is hampered by the fact that I’m a very reluctant engineer, and while as a matter of pride and principle I give it everything, I simply do not and cannot live and breathe computer chips and assorted technical objects like my overachieving peers do.

I suppose my biggest achievements thus far aren’t quantifiable in terms of laurels earned or money made. I like to think I’ve been a good son, husband and father, or at least tried to be. My parents and children would be inclined to agree, although my wife may challenge that assertion.

Having lived over half of my life abroad, I believe I’ve never done anything that would reflect badly on my nationality and heritage, and I have made it a point to slog through work, as unpalatable as I find it, partly if not purely because I wouldn’t want any lack of performance on my part to be extrapolated to a judgement of my compatriots.

Composing this answer has made me realize I really ought to get my act together!



PakPassion.net : How did you find PakPassion.net?

Nostalgic : It was early 2008, and with the boss away on a business trip, I was whiling away the time at the office. I ordered lunch, and started watching YouTube videos of memorable Pakistan games. Once I was done with that, for some reason I decided to Google “Pakistan cricket,” and came across the forum.

I distinctly remember receiving the lunch order from my favorite Chinese eatery, and browsing PakPassion for the first time whilst devouring Spicy Fish Filet with Hot Szechuan Sauce. Years later, I can still sometimes smell and taste the Szechuan chili peppers when I log in. It is fascinating how the olfactory and gustatory senses come rushing back with the memory of an event.

It took me another year to register, and over four more to start posting regularly. I believe I have a only couple of posts from 2009, right after I registered, but I haven’t been able to find them. The floodgates opened in late 2013. I had moved to another state, and in a fit of homesickness and a desire to communicate with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen, started posting regularly. And here I am, being interviewed. I suppose I can say I’ve finally arrived at the forum?

Deja-vu ..

I can promise that I have read this before. Not that I am complaining, I could read this again as well, such is the mastery and expression of this interview ...

Man, Nostalgic is an awesome poster, one of the best posters if not the best.

Mamoon
20th January 2016, 02:02
Great poster. Was ready to become his pupil before I learned his real age, but still one of the few posters who posts I always stop to read.

Me he grace PP with his presence for years to come.

Abdul
20th January 2016, 02:07
Some surely interesting answers in there!

GoUgandaCranes
20th January 2016, 02:07
Great poster. Was ready to become his pupil before I learned his real age, but still one of the few posters who posts I always stop to read.

Me he grace PP with his presence for years to come.

His real age.

I think he isn't older than 28.

WC-Passion
20th January 2016, 02:08
Great poster. Was ready to become his pupil before I learned his real age, but still one of the few posters who posts I always stop to read.

Me he grace PP with his presence for years to come.

Don't blame you tbh.

Mamoon
20th January 2016, 02:09
His real age.

I think he isn't older than 28.


Don't blame you tbh.

He is in his 30's, my initial impression was that he's in the 40's or 50's. Wise beyond his years like me.

GoUgandaCranes
20th January 2016, 02:12
He is in his 30's, my initial impression was that he's in the 40's or 50's. Wise beyond his years like me.

Well, become a pupil.

It shouldn't be the physical age - it should be the mental age that you should consider.

Some people just grow old, some are born old.

Azlan Khan
20th January 2016, 02:18
That's one hell of an interview. :14:

Mamoon
20th January 2016, 02:18
Well, become a pupil.

It shouldn't be the physical age - it should be the mental age that you should consider.

Some people just grow old, some are born old.

True, but I pictured him as a 'wise old man' in my head.

Donal Cozzie
20th January 2016, 03:42
Great interview

Abdullah719
20th January 2016, 03:53
Fascinating interview. Some interesting answers there.

Nostalgic
20th January 2016, 06:34
Thanks all! Composing all those answers was almost cathartic: committing all those thoughts roiling around in the head to (electronic) paper.

There were too many occurrences of the perpendicular pronoun in that interview, but I suppose that is the nature of the beast, so to speak.

anuk
20th January 2016, 06:38
haven't personally interacted with nostalgic but i do enjoy reading his off topic posts. one of the more intelligent posters around here. don't think i've said that about anybody else.

ChachaCricket
20th January 2016, 07:52
Always read your posts with a smile on my face. Love your subtle humour and ability to capture a moment with words nearly perfectly. Need I say, one of my favourite posters.

saeedhk
20th January 2016, 07:59
What a great interview!

It is a delight to read your posts!

Sent from my Lenovo A6000 using Tapatalk

Sachin136
20th January 2016, 08:05
Great interview. You should post more in the Cricket section. You are just being modest saying that you don't know as much about cricket as others on here.

Corridor of Uncertainty
20th January 2016, 11:50
Having lived in US for a while, I do understand it's easy to get cut off - not so much from the news and scorecards - but from the emotions that go before, during and after a match. Even though Pakistan communities meet often, cricket is just one part of conversation - and outside those communities, not at all.

Loved his interview. So honest and humble - despite being couched in words I only half got :)

If you are in your mid 30s, it's too early to be pining and wondering what might have been. There is a lifetime still ahead that you can bend to your will.

Wish you all the best.

CricketCartoons
20th January 2016, 12:29
He writes so well and with so much insight that I don't scroll the thread till I have read every word of his. I think TimePass never saw better days compared to the jugalbandi of Nostalgic and saadibaba.

sensible-indian-fan
20th January 2016, 12:35
What a command over English.

What an interview.

PP legend.

#GreenRoars
20th January 2016, 12:52
Excellent interview bro. Loved it.

Haroon786
20th January 2016, 13:17
Interview was par excellence.

In recent times, Nostalgic is easily the numerous uno poster on TP and also has the best written ability within these pages.

One of the few posters that pretty much everyone stops by to read and in my case, I learn from almost every post.

Also thanks to the mods for picking my question.

endymion248
20th January 2016, 15:13
You should post a sample of your short stories here.


He is in his 30's, my initial impression was that he's in the 40's or 50's. Wise beyond his years like me.

He says that he has spent over half his life abroad. But he only went to the US in his 20s so that would imply that he is in his 40s. I used to think that he is 32-35 though.

endymion248
20th January 2016, 15:14
What are your favourite words from English and Punjabi?

Markhor
20th January 2016, 16:04
Feels like we've just scratched the surface with this interview - definitely needs a Part 2 as could've read on for longer.

Definitely one of those posters you can imagine sitting down with a cup of tea and shooting the breeze for hours on end. I always like his insight on social issues, and share a mutual loathing of Zia and the corrosive influence of the religious right in Pakistan.

GLORY OF '92
20th January 2016, 16:27
Magnificent.

A collosus of PakPassion.

Haroon786
20th January 2016, 17:23
You should post a sample of your short stories here.



He says that he has spent over half his life abroad. But he only went to the US in his 20s so that would imply that he is in his 40s. I used to think that he is 32-35 though.

He mentioned that he's lived in 4 countries, that would imply he moved to a different country prior to settling in the US.

PCP_1
20th January 2016, 20:05
One of the most encyclopedically informative (on things that happened before half of PPers were born), constantly humorous and annoyingly neutral posters on PP.

Cpt. Rishwat
20th January 2016, 20:21
Brilliant writer, it's quite funny to read that his dream was to win the Booker prize but in his heart of hearts he knew he wouldn't be able to put in the time to make it happen. Typical self effacement and melancholy.

aliasad1998
20th January 2016, 20:23
Without a doubt of the best posters on this forum

Haroon786
20th January 2016, 20:41
What are your favourite words from English and Punjabi?

For some reason it appears as though you have quoted me, did you ?

The_KING
20th January 2016, 20:50
Great interview by a great poster.

Strike Rate
20th January 2016, 23:14
My buddy baba Nostalgic had an interview and i miss the questions thread :facepalm:

Great interview buddy really enjoyed reading it but now i guess i will have separate interview with you in some time pass thread because i missed the questions thread for this interview!

Nostalgic
21st January 2016, 12:34
Thanks again everyone!

So how do interview threads work once the answers are posted? Is it traditional to answer any follow-up questions?

#GreenRoars
21st January 2016, 13:20
Thanks again everyone!

So how do interview threads work once the answers are posted? Is it traditional to answer any follow-up questions?

It's up to you, if you want to answer any follow-up questions, you can.

dhump
21st January 2016, 13:49
Why no one asked him real questions and tried to keep everything very calm and non controversial. I think Nostalgic is all about issues that are too sensitive to be discussed in our society.

Kean0
21st January 2016, 14:08
Nostalgic always a pleasure reading your work.

I would buy a book on your life if you ever happen to write one!

Strike Rate
21st January 2016, 14:08
Thanks again everyone!

So how do interview threads work once the answers are posted? Is it traditional to answer any follow-up questions?

I want to ask some hasaas type questions buddy? :13:

aniket1911
21st January 2016, 15:55
I swear to god i never seen a poster who post everything like it's a beautiful story.
I always envision you as some guy with fountain of wisdom to who is everybody's go-to-guy whenever they need suggestion.your post are equivalent to sermon on PP. :14:

Nostalgic
22nd January 2016, 13:15
I want to ask some hasaas type questions buddy? :13:

Might as well, considering the state of the chase ;)

Slog
2nd June 2017, 11:14
Stumbled onto this and read through the interview again

Really a good read

sjahmed23
3rd June 2017, 22:28
Great interview thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing!

Nostalgic
18th June 2017, 08:57
Stumbled onto this and read through the interview again

Really a good read


Great interview thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing!

I recently stumbled upon the questionnaire they sent me when the interview was being conducted, so I came looking for the thread. I didn't even know this is where past interviews come to die, so to speak.

I'm glad you guys liked it. It was cathartic getting it all down in writing.