Thursday, December 25, 2008

STAYING APART KEEPS ROMANCE ALIVE

Love knows no boundaries. Be it ten hours or ten long years away from your partner, keeping up the intimacy quotient is a prerequisite for any relation to survive. Intimacy doesn't only imply sex, but maintaining a bond that keeps you emotionally involved with your partner.

Writing letters, sending E-mails, phone calls and voice chats are pretty common in a long-distance relationship. Now, what about some out-of-the-box ideas to pep up your love life even while you remain miles away from your beloved? These methods would not only spice up your relationship, but would also let you conquer the distance factor and maintain a never-ending intimacy.

Suneel Vatsyayan, a relationship counselor states, "The most important ingredient of any relationship is communication, especially if it's a long-distance relationship. While communicating, focus on things that reiterate the good moments you both have spent together so that both of you are able to feel closer to each other. Be it an E-mail or a phone call or a web cam conversation, using words, phrases and instances that bring a smile on your partner's face can do the trick." When faced with a lack of reassuring conversations between couples, there might be chances that relationship goes through a turmoil. So, here are a few ways that will help you kill the distance and keep the romance alive.

Snail mails: Quite clich├ęd, but perhaps the most inexpensive way to stay in touch with your partner. The recipient can keep the letter and read it any time they miss you. Mahima, a bank manager feels regular E-mails and letters are the best options to stay connected with her husband stationed in France. "It's tough during office hours to make frequent calls, so by the end of everyday we drop an E-mail in each others' mail box sharing whatever activities we engaged in throughout the day, things that kept us busy, office gossip, family news and plans for the next day. And of course, some lovely messages towards the end of the mail act as an add-on to express how much we care, love and miss each other."

Point to ponder: While writing such mails, do not ramble unnecessarily on mundane details. Keep the focus on your partner and your relationship, mentioning what are your emotions and how you feel without him or her.

Web-cam magic: Overcoming the logistics barriers and staying in contact with your partner throughout the day, web cameras add a much needed kick for long-distance couples. Jitesh Wadhwani, a business consultant in the US enjoys lovemaking moments with his wife through a web cam and feels that they can keep up their sex life alive using virtual means. "It may not be every night, but we try and come online as much as we can to enjoy some pleasurable moments. Surely we miss the physical 'touch,' but merely seeing each other and then enjoying our fantasies is an intoxicating feeling. She (my wife) was a little hesitant initially, but now even she is comfortable and we both enjoy this idea of virtual sex quite a lot," he shares.

Point to ponder: As long as it's between the two of you, there's no harm and you can enjoy sexual pleasure. Internet or web cameras may not be as safe as your physical relationship, so be vigilant about your acts and moves.

Recorded messages: Try sending your lover a taped love message or a CD that alternates between your conversation and some of your beloved's favourite songs. A software engineer by profession, Javeriah misses her husband a lot, who has gone abroad on a business project for two years. Stating that they talk frequently over phone, she adds, "There are endless things to talk about like family members, kids, relatives and other office happenings, but we rarely talk about 'us'. That's when I thought the best way was to record a tape and let him know what I felt. It had everything from how I felt when I saw other couples walking romantically or getting intimate publicly to sleeping alone in bed at night and missing him every moment. I knew the phone would surely ring as soon as he received this and it worked really well. During that call, we spoke about nothing else but about our love, romance and how much we missed each other."

Point to ponder: Mellow down your voice while recording a love message and let your partner hear your thoughts brimming with emotions. Both the message and your recorded voice must touch his heart and the feeling of passion should be clear and loud enough to ignite his senses.

MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875
ISLAMABAD

Friday, December 19, 2008

THE END OF CIRCLE

Dedicated to MY MEMORIES: I LIVE & DIEwith them

When the world was fair
And the sky was blue
And our house was small
With its bedrooms two
And the children laughed
As their toys they threw.

And the neighbours kids
Loved our Irish stew
Then each evening when
The kids had been fed
Xenab, Maryum kissed
Cuddled and put to bed.

Then Moazzam dressed in black
While Rehana dressed in red
And off to the parties
As our car was sped.

And everyone of us
Sagely nodded our heads
And prophesied doom
As our money all fled
But we laughed aloud
And our life we said
Was a carpet of roses
‘Neath a star spangled spread.

Time has proved us right
Our house is now bigger
It’s grown a new top
And the noises are fewer
The children went off
On their long school skelter
Moazzam bhai disappeared
And the rooms stood empty
Looking lonelier and neater
And I missed those sweet days
All the mess and the litter
The love and the nonsense
The laughter and the patter.

Slowly but surely
Things shaping up better
Now I’m waiting a moment
When these kids have kids
With God’s grace that’s what matters
And my life’s circle will close
With the grand children’s chatter.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
ISLAMABAD
mahtabbashir@yahoo.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Friday, December 12, 2008

AN UGLY OBSESSION WITH THE BODY BEAUTIFUL

Young women today know that talent matters, but that they will go farther if they have the looks to go with them.

Last night, among an audience of high-achieving teenage girls, I found myself a little in awe. How come no one has spots any more? Why are they better groomed, dressed and poised than I am even now? What's with this Identikit babe- licious hair: long, artfully dishevelled, flicked with the imperiousness of a Louis XV courtesan.

These are children raised in an age of supermaterialism. They know their precise market worth, are savvily aware of their assets and oversee them like hedge fund managers. I can imagine many such girls in a few years time entering beauty competitions such as Miss University London - this week picketed by student feminists - using it to extract a gorgeous ballgown from dad, pouting and preening, partying through defeat, then proceding with the business of conquering the world.

As the economy slip-slides towards the 1970s, how appropriate to revive that lava lamp of the sex wars: are beauty contests misogynist? Especially as it is exactly 40 years since “women's libbers” descended on Atlantic City for what they called the “degrading mindless-boob-girlie symbol”, the Miss America pageant, where they filled a brazier with bras, false eyelashes, tweezers, back issues of glossy magazines and suchlike “freedom trash”.

The protesters outside this week's contest echoed the old plea that women be judged for their brains, not their beauty. But what has happened in the past four decades is that women are now measured by both. A woman can be a presidential hopeful, Home Secretary, a classical violinist, the driest of academics, yet she will be judged most harshly upon her appearance and must take care not to neglect her mindless-boob-girlie side.

Today's young women work to that understanding: they aspire to a seat on the board and to look great in a basque. Thanks to decades of hairy-legged protest, no professional field is closed to them. Their grades and talent matter, but they know, all else being equal, they'll go farther faster by looking hot.

So schools now pander to this, having their prettier pupils parade in fashion shows. With a trend for cheerleaders, proms and balls, British education seems to be moving ever closer to the US model of teendom as an explicit contest of beauty and popularity.

So it was heartening that young women students - rather just than the usual Sixties suspects - spoke out against beauty contests. For a decade now, feminism has fallen oddly silent, few voices raised against the pornification of popular culture that has rebranded clip joints as entertainment, pole-dancing as “empowering” and Carnage freshers' balls, in which women are expected to dress as “dirty porn stars”, as innocent fun. Little surprise that for their efforts the protesters were dubbed rabid, jealous and - what else? - ugly.

The American columnist Maureen Dowd noted that women have latterly abandoned feminism for narcissism. As London's neo-libbers may find out, it is wearisome to be forever angry. It takes courage and cussedness not to care that the world thinks you a dog. Easier, more fun to lighten up, go shopping, hang out at the spa and get laid for once.

Moreover, it is no longer just girls who are beseiged by beauty's demands. Listening to the young EastEnders buck Joe Swash on I'm a Celebrity... remark that his backside was his best feature, I wondered when we started grading the male form on its constituent parts. Women have long been a sum of their legs, tits and ass. Now men must have butts, abs, pecs and - as the Strictly Come Dancing rugby player Austin Healey dubs his Popeye biceps - “guns”. The modern male body beautiful is not natural but wholly contrived. Look at the sex gods of the Seventies - Richard Gere in American Gigolo, John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever - and their once lusted-after torsos seem soft and slack where now we expect hardbodied and buff.

There has never been a crueller age in which to be ugly. Once plain Jane looks were a misfortune, now they are a sign of negligence. Go to the gym, see Gok, read Grazia, get a surgeon to sort out that schnozz. No excuses suffice any more. Your Heat-reading contemporaries will look on you with pity and disgust, mentally ringing “circles of shame” around your unwaxed pits and dimpled thighs.

I'm not worrying too hard about the Miss University London contestants dipping a pedicured toe into beauty's shallower end. (Better that show than one I saw advertised in a London nightclub: Miss Real Breasts.) The finalists will go on, in a few years, to be the hottie in accounts, the babe at the Bradford branch. Their worst misfortune will be to start taking their looks too seriously, drift into reality TV or acquire an eating disorder. They are buttressed by education and privilege. Their beauty is only a first-class upgrade: not their ticket to ride.

Unlike the wan girls who hang outside model agencies, the plastic-chested glamour wannabes, the boy-pleasing desperates who send snaps of their breasts to be graded by Nuts magazine or the contestants in the savage professional beauty circuit. The Miss World and Universe contests are regarded as kitsch-fests in the West. Our beauty icons drifted from amateur to professional, from nervous provincial girls in C&A swimwear to supermodels and, latterly, Hollywood stars. Beauty queens were good girls: rigid rules punished promiscuity, pregnancy, even marriage. Maybe we like our chicks a bit dirtier these days.

Today the big beauty titles are fought over by nations with little but pride and pretty girls. The winners come mainly from South America and the former Eastern bloc. The present Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, raised in a two-room house in Caracas, was spotted, at the age of 13, at a bus stop. Venezuela has churned out more champs than any other nation, because it has a plastic surgeon on its national team unscrupulous enough to give breast implants to still-growing 17-year-olds. “This isn't a nature contest,” said the country's beauty queen-maker Osmel Sousa. “It's a beauty contest.” Quite.

When the backs of women's magazines are crammed with plastic surgery adverts, how can we tell our daughters that looks don't matter, that character will out. Especially when we defy the notion that beauty is fleeting, when we strive to cling to good looks unto the grave.

So this is the post-feminist age - equal face lifts for all in a mindless-boob-girlie world :)

MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR
Voice: 0300 52 56 875
House # 2026, Street # 32,
I-10/2, Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com

GRADES ARE NO PREDICTOR OF FUTURE SUCCESS

John Lennon left school without any qualifications, Damien Hirst did marginally better and was awarded an E for his art A-Level whilst Bill Gates dropped out of college on his way to becoming the world's richest man.

They are hardly shining examples of those who achieved all they did because of success in the classroom.

But according to intriguing new research, school tests are by no means a measure of true ability - nor can they be used as a tool to predict future success or abject failure.

The study, by the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors (CIEA), found that as many as 77 per cent of people believe that formal examinations fail to reflect their true intelligence.

Sour grapes? Perhaps, but there are those who have successfully bucked the trend. They include Gordon Ramsay, Ralph Lauren (who quit college to sell ties in a New York men's store) and degree-less business knights, Richard Branson, Philip Green and Alan Sugar.

Then there's fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Radio Four's interrogator-in-chief John Humphrys, the BBC's Terry Wogan, chat show legend Michael Parkinson and finally the X-Factor's Simon Cowell. Not one of them made it to university.

Not surprisingly then, just three out of 10 people associate exams with 'a sense of pride', according to the CIEA study which was based on the responses from 2,000 adults.

The research also found that 62 per cent spoke of feeling 'butterflies in the stomach' moments before they were due to sit an exam. Other reactions included headaches, insomnia and vomiting.

Pupils in England currently sit an average of 70 formal examinations, whilst primary school children are now subjected to more tests than their international counterparts.

Yet, 60 per cent of teachers who responded to a separate online poll for the CIEA said they did not think exams were necessarily the best indicators of a pupil's ability and were not reflective of their future success in a job.

'Exams don't suit everybody,' said Graham Herbert, deputy head of the CIEA, which aims to improve senior examiners, moderators and markers. 'They don't tell the full picture. Most adults agree that their performance in exams does not reflect their true abilities.

'That is not to say we should get rid of exams. What we need is a supplement to the exam system, a supplement that can be relied upon. And that supplement could be teacher assessment.'

The CIEA is training qualified assessors through its Chartered Educational Assessor (CEA) initiative and aims to place 3,000 of them in schools across England by 2011. Already 33 are in place, with a further 70 in training.

Mr Herbert said the reliance on exams meant that many schools were now focusing on teaching for tests.

'If you say the purpose is to put a school in a rank order, then it becomes a high-stakes test,' he added. 'People get really nervous about it because their reputation is at risk, so they tend to teach to the test.

'That means that their learners jump through the hoops put there by the exam, rather than testing their ability and their knowledge.

'Take Richard Branson and Winston Churchill. They are two very famous, highly skilled individuals who were both poor exam performers. So exams don't necessarily on their own bring out the best in individuals.

'And they become stigmatised by that. A lot of adults feel that. From our survey, the majority, it seems.'

MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

WHY MEN CHEAT- and how to stop them

You're not as young as you used to be. Sex hasn't been great lately. He simply got his kicks elsewhere. Besides, she's probably prettier and slimmer than you anyway. These are the reasons women think men cheat - but according to best-selling author and marriage counsellor M Gary Neuman, they're all wrong.

For his new book, Why Men Stray And What You Can Do To Prevent It, Neuman spent two years studying 100 men who had affairs and 100 men who were faithful. 'Only eight per cent of the cheating men said it was sexual dissatisfaction at home and 88 per cent said the mistress was not better-looking or in better shape than their wife,' says Neuman. 'The number one reason behind their cheating was the emotional dissatisfaction they felt in their marriage and the emotional connection they unfortunately developed in the affair.'

Around 69 per cent had thought they would never cheat and were surprised at their own insecurity. 'They didn't think they'd fall into an illicit relationship because they were in need of some appreciation and admiration,' Neuman explains.

Although his findings should make some women feel better about themselves (his affair probably wasn't a direct result of your attractiveness or bedroom abilities), the book's title does seem to suggest some of blame lies with the woman. Neuman denies this is the case; many women, he says, are interested in learning what they could have done to prevent their partner's adultery.

'It tells women that emotional connection at home is by far the most important way to develop a happy marriage and reduce the risk of cheating,' he says.

The book may focus on men's infidelity but women aren't innocent: a 2006 survey of 46,000 people found one in ten married women - compared to one in five married men - had strayed too. So should we all expect to be cheated on? Or will we stray? What happened to monogamy?

'Nothing,' says Neuman. 'Alfred Kinsey's studies from the 1950s stated half of married men would cheat by the age of 40. What I have always found strange is how society understands that to be successful at everything in life, whether it be parenthood or a career, takes a lot of time and effort but we don't have the same view towards marriage.'

For some women the book will be a fascinating read. For others it will reaffirm what they've always thought - but we won't put words into their mouths. You've probably worked that out already.

The Truth About Cheating: Why Men Stray And What You Can Do To Prevent It by M Gary Neuman (Wiley, £16.50)

Appreciation is key
One cheating husband told Neuman about what had happened on his wife's birthday. 'He got up at 5.30am to prepare a surprise birthday breakfast for his wife. They'd been in a bad way and he thought it would be a good gesture to show her that he'd heard her complaints; it was a peace offering. But he accidentally left the microwave on too long. By the time he caught it, the kitchen was smoking and the alarm began to blare. His wife woke to chaos at 6.11am on her birthday and - understandably - she was pissed off. But the husband was so angry that she couldn't even take a moment to appreciate his good intentions that he left the house that morning and didn't return until the evening. It was that day he had his first sexual meeting with another woman.'

The signs
He spends more time away from home.
You have sex infrequently.
He avoids contact with you.
He criticises you more often.
He starts fights with you.
He may start talking about other women.

Neuman's action plan
The role his friends play: Neuman found that 77 per cent of cheating men have close friends who have also cheated. Here's one woman's story:
'Roger was his friend since childhood. How was I going to tell my husband who he should or should not hang out with? I was a blind fool.'
Ellen wasn't fond of her husband's closest friend but felt it wasn't her place to do anything. It was after their third child that she got suspicious and, after a few months, discovered her husband had been cheating. He'd found his girlfriend while visiting clubs he probably wouldn't have frequented had it not been for Roger.

Neuman's action plan: If your husband is part of a group of cheating men, his social circle is sending him a strong message about the normality of infidelity.

Step one: Invite his friends and family into your home so you can learn more about them. Some wives dislike their husband's friends and choose to stay far away but we have learned that you improve your odds of fidelity by knowing as much about his friends' lifestyles as possible without being overbearing.

Step two: If he has close friends who are cheaters, introduce him to new friends by going out with other couples. The more time he spends with new faithful men, the less significant his cheating friends become.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Voice: 0300 52 56 875
mahtabbashir@gmail.com

HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS

Happiness is 'contagious’ and can spread through networks of friends, family and neighbours, a study has found.

Researchers studied complex social networks of more than 5,000 people and found that happiness is partly dependent on the mood of those near to you and their friends.

Professor Nicholas Christakis from Harvard Medical School and Professor James Fowler from the University of California, San Diego, found that a person’s proximity to happy people – specifically partners, siblings and neighbours – could make them happy too.

The researchers, writing in the British Medical Journal, found that clusters of happy and unhappy people were visible in the networks and the effect lasted for three degrees of separation - meaning one person benefitted from the happiness of their friends’ friends.


It suggests having frequent contact with other people is more important for the spread of happiness rather than the depth of the relationship, the authors said, because the closer people were physically the more likely the happiness was to be passed on.

If you have a friend who lives within a mile (about 1.6km) and who becomes happy it increases the probability that you will become happy by 25 per cent. Similar effects are seen in spouses who live together, siblings who live within a mile of each other and next door neighbours. But there is no effect on your own happiness if your co-workers are happy or not.

The authors said happiness genuinely spreads and the effect is not because happy people band together.

The same phenomenon has been seen in the spread of obesity and smoking, leading the authors to suggest it may also happen in other health-related behaviours such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, drinking, eating and exercise.
This means the spread of happiness through social networks could be used in public health policy as a positive emotional state has been shown to reduce illness and mortality, they said.


Professors Christakis and Fowler suggest the way happiness spreads like an infectious disease may be through mimicry and copying of facial expressions.
Other explanations include that happy people might share their good fortune, by being pragmatically helpful or financially generous to others, or change their behaviour towards others by being nicer or less hostile, or they merely exude an emotion that is genuinely contagious.


The study was based on data collected in the Framingham Heart Study, in which 5,124 adults aged 21-70 were recruited and followed between 1971 and 2003.

MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR
ISLAMABAD
Cell: 0300 52 56 875

SHORT-HAIRED WOMEN ARE LESS SEXY

Women who lop their hair short are no longer interested in bedroom action, say researchers, who claim that 'deliberately reducing one's attractiveness' can sometimes be a way of repelling men's interest.

Initially, the claim was made by sex therapist and former comedian Pamela Stephenson, 59, who said that ladies who cut their hair are deliberately making themselves less sexy to blokes.

However, now the theory has got scientific backing after experts claimed that the links between long hair and sex go back to caveman times, a newspaper reports.

Dr Pam Spurr, a relationships expert, said: "The woman who no longer wants sex uses a haircut to show she's reclaiming power in the bedroom.

"For women, hair is a reflection of the person, of her moods and her self-esteem." Relationship psychologist Anjula Mutanda added: "Cave paintings celebrated long-haired women - the longer the hair the more fertile and, therefore, desirable she was.

"But body language and behaviour expert Judy James disagrees, saying: "The only thing it symbolises these days is the shutting off of childhood. In terms of sex, I would argue it has the opposite effect."

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Saturday, November 29, 2008

GRATEFULNESS - A KEY TO HAPPIER LIFE

Want to find the key to a happy life? Well, all you need to do is grab a pen and write letters of gratitude.

Yes, you heard it right. But this method is only a fast solution to make your life happier than what it is now.

Thats what a research done by Dr. Steven Toepfer, assistant professor of family and consumer studies at Kent State University says.

According to Toepfer, people should explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted their lives.

Toepfer, an assistant professor of family and consumer studies at university”’’s Salem Campus, says that expressive writing is something that has been available to mankind since ink first appeared in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago.

“Everyone is pursuing the American dream. We are wealthier than previous generations, consuming more and experiencing more, but yet so many of us are so unhappy,” Toepfer says.
“The question of ””is there something simple we can do to be happier?”” is one that I have been thinking about for many years and one that has interested people for much longer, the researcher added.


With that question in mind, Toepfer enlisted students from six courses to explore the effects of writing letters of gratitude to people who had positively impacted the students”” lives. Over the course of a six-week period, students wrote one letter every two weeks with the simple ground rules that it had to be positively expressive, required some insight and reflection, were nontrivial and contained a high level of appreciation or gratitude.

After each letter, students completed a survey to gauge their moods, satisfaction with life and feelings of gratitude and happiness.

Studies demonstrate, according to Toepfer, that practicing expressive writing is often associated with fewer health problems, decreased depression, an improved immune system and improved grades.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@yahoo.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Saturday, November 22, 2008

9 mins, 36 secs make the perfect phone call!

The perfect phone call lasts nine minutes and 36 seconds later, and contains a chatty mix of family news, current affairs, a sprinkling of personal problems and a dash of the weather, according to experts.

Researchers came up with the best subject matter and timing after analysing more than 2,000 people’s likes and dislikes about talking on the phone.

According to the experts, in a call lasting nine minutes and 36 seconds, three minutes should be spent catching up with news about family and friends, one minute on personal problems, another minute on work/school, 42 seconds on current affairs and 24 seconds on the weather.

Chatting about the opposite sex should last 24 seconds, 12 seconds should be spent on celebrity gossip, one minute and 42 seconds on laughing, 12 seconds on silence and a minute on other general topics.

And it seems that mum’s the word when it comes to the perfect telephone conversation –as one in five people said they spent most time on the phone to their mother.

The research, by the Post Office, revealed that the phrase “I’ll get your mother” is common.

Only three per cent of people named their father as the person they spent most time on the phone with – because dads hand over the phone to their wives.

Catherine Blyth, author of The Art of Conversation, says anyone can conduct a good chat.

“Conversation can slip along with little more than a friendly smile and an open mind,” the Daily Express quoted her, as saying.

Hugh Stacey, head of telephony at the Post Office, said: “It was surprising that celebrity gossip only occupied 12 per cent of the perfect telephone call. The biggest surprise is that silence is golden – with 12 seconds of every call set aside for a little quiet contemplation.”

Psychotherapist Christine Webber said: “Regular contact with friends or family brings down blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and may stave off dementia.”

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Emotional Infidelity: a BIGGER sin?

It happens with most people at some point of time; when emotions betray their morals and principals.

Emotional deceit (Getty Images) Every relationship abides by an unsaid rule about keeping your love and emotions together, of sharing everything, right from your daily concerns and problems to your emotional dilemmas with the person that you're in love. But what if your soul finds comfort in the sanctuary of someone you can neither call your lover and neither just your friend? When you find someone special with whom you share a deep emotional connect, are you betraying your loved one and indulging in emotional infidelity? We explore...

An emotional connect Emotional adultery is when you embark on an emotional relationship with someone other than your partner. "Emotional infidelity is when a partner shares intimate feelings with another person, other than his/her partner, and is perhaps preoccupied with thoughts of that person and even craves for spending more quality time with him/her. It is any situation that creates or causes some degree of emotional unavailability, along with affecting the quality of one's existing relationship as a whole," explains Dr. Sanjay Chugh, a psychiatrist.

"It all started with the 'we're just friends' thing. But the connection became very obvious by the long hours we spent talking intimately on phone and the vibes that were being set off by both of us. We gelled so beautifully with each other that sharing personal matters took us just one week," shares Arpana Sanjogi (name changed), an HR manager about her friend of two years. "I didn't know what to call our relationship initially... but now I know my friend means nothing less to me than my man!" she adds further. Though Aparna asserts that it is only her husband that she loves, she dreads the day he could find out about her emotional straying.

"I was going through a low phase in my relationship just months before I broke off with my live in girlfriend. It was precisely at this time that I met this incredible woman in office with whom I started sharing a great emotional bond. Being on par professionally helped us bond regarding our career, and having similar traits drew me towards her on a more human level. It was an unspoken bond and though we never confessed our feelings we were deeply bonded. Even if I didn't see her for a single day I felt restless- missing her more than words could ever express," confesses 31-year-old media professional Dushyant Rajyavardhan who eventually broke off his affair, moved by the strength of his new found emotional anchor.

Emotional deceit: A bigger sin? Is emotional attachment to someone else other than your partner a more blatant betrayal than a physical adulterous affair? "If my husband has a one night stand, it would hurt. But if I catch him having an emotional affair, it will certainly knock the wind out of me. An emotional involvement is definitely harder to accept because it means mentally he belongs to someone else," says Sulekha Prakash, a bank employee. While Sulekha finds emotional infidelity to be a bigger offence, Suhail Sinha, a travel website manager, disagrees. "One can't tag sharing your feelings with someone as a betrayal! As long as one's spouse/partner is coming back to the same bed to sleep at night, they can't be blamed for cheating," he retaliates.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SCARS ON ISLAMABAD'S FACE GROW

Encroaching upon virtually everything that is for public use – from pavements to parks and from parking lots to playgrounds – people have made these their very own.

In the absence of any strict checks, the encroachers continue to make use of this ‘facility’ with no regard whatsoever for the public that has to suffer no end.

Blue Area, the commercial heartland of the Capital as elsewhere, has cars stay parked on pavements. Car dealers occupy entire parking lots and seminaries and mosques are built illegally on land meant for parks.

In markets across town, shopkeepers spread their ware in aisles inconveniencing visitors. Similarly, mostly students of seminaries, abuse play facilities meant for children. In this regard, a play area in F-6/4 is a fine example.

To make matters worse, every Tom, Dick and Harry has now begun to block streets in the name of security – threat or no threat. Everyone having to pass through is looked at with suspicion by the security guards or the police personnel.

The cemented slabs that have become a common sight are quite troublesome for the residents as they are for those placing them there.

The encroachment in whatever form it might be is an infringement on people’s freedom. We have to tackle this matter before it becomes beyond control.

But already this problem has become monstrous with the Capital Development Authority (CDA) seemingly making only half-hearted attempts. Had the city fathers not acted as spectators, the issue would not have spiraled out of control.

The problem of shutting down streets in residential areas stems from the nonconforming use of houses mainly by offices and embassies. However the CDA points out that crackdown on violators had already begun.

Although the authorities had made some attempts in this regard under former chairman Kamran Lashari, yet success was only limited.

Residents say that the increased commercial use of private houses and encroachments were the biggest scars on Islamabad’s face. For some reason, the will to combat these problems is lacking.

Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Cell: 0300 52 56 875

Monday, November 17, 2008

US 'pregnant man' expecting again

Thomas Beatie, the US "pregnant man" who gave birth to a daughter in June, is expecting his second child.

The 34-year-old made the announcement in a television interview with Barbara Walters of ABC News.

Mr Beatie was born female but underwent gender reassignment and is now legally male. He kept his female reproductive organs so he could have a family.

The baby was due in early June, he told the TV host. He felt good and everything was going well.
"I had my checkups with my hormone level... everything is right on track," he said. Thomas Beatie grew up in Hawaii as Tracy Lagondin, but began to live as a man when he was in his twenties.


He had breast surgery to remove glands and flatten his chest but kept his female reproductive organs.

He has been married to his wife, Nancy, for five years and the couple bought sperm from a donor when they decided to start a family.

Mr Beatie gave birth to their baby daughter, Susan, the natural way, after a lengthy labour.
After the birth, he told Ms Walters, he did not resume taking male hormones because the couple wanted to have another baby.

The couple's second child is due on 12 June.

Beatie's wife, Nancy, 46, whom he married five years ago, was unable to conceive because of a prior hysterectomy.

He has said that is why he had a baby himself, through artificial insemination using donor sperm and Beatie's own egg.

The couple live in Bend, Oregon, and have led a quiet life since the birth of their baby girl, Susan.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com

Sunday, November 16, 2008

TRUST ME AGAIN

How can I trust someone

If ‘someone’ has broken my trust
My heart is empty, its cold as ice
It reaches to break, leaks out of blood
The blood drips and slips away
That trust, that moment
All within those you have broken

I may not trust you again

But that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends
Just friends without that trust
You have to work your trust with me
Make me understand why should I trust you again

You have to repair that broken trust
You have to work hard
That don’t mean be hateful towards me
Just show me that I can trust you once more.


Muhammad Mahtab Bashir

Voice: 0300 52 56 875

mahtabbashir@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Music to your ears? Music for your heart, too.

Songs that make our hearts soar can make them stronger too, US researchers reported.

They found that when people listened to their favorite music, their blood vessels dilated in much the same way as when laughing or taking blood medications.

“We have a pretty impressive effect,” said Dr. Michael Miller, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. “Blood vessel diameter improved,” he said in a telephone interview. “The vessel opened up pretty significantly. You can see the vessels opening up with other activities such as exercise.” A similar effect is seen with drugs such as statins and ACE inhibitors.

When blood vessels open more, blood flows more smoothly and is less likely to form the blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. Elastic vessels also resist the hardening activity of atherosclerosis. “We are not saying to stop your statins or not to exercise but to add this to an overall program of heart health,” said Miller, who presented his findings to a meeting of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Miller’s team tested 10 healthy, non-smoking men and women, who were told to bring their favorite music. They spent half an hour listening to the recordings and half an hour listening to music they said made them feel anxious while the researchers did ultrasound tests designed to show blood vessel function.

Compared to their normal baseline measurements, blood vessel diameter increased 26 percent on average when the volunteers heard their joyful music. Listening to music they disliked -- in most cases in this group heavy metal -- narrowed blood vessels by six percent, Miller said. Miller said he came up with the idea after discovering the laughter caused blood to literally flow more smoothly. “I asked myself what other things make us feel real good, besides calories from dark chocolate of course. Music came to mind. ... It makes me feel real good,” he said. Most of the volunteers chose country music but Miller said the style is not as important as what pleases each individual.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
mahtabbashir@yahoo.com
Cell: 0300 52 56 875
Islamabad

Friday, November 7, 2008

GOSSIP AT WORK UPS PRODUCTIVITY

Workers who gossip between tasks, not during them, are more productive than those workers who remain isolated, says a new US research.

Office grapevine makes employees productive. (Getty Images)What’s more, communication at the wrong time reduces productivity.

Employees who remain closely knit with one another frequently are more productive than those who are more isolated, the researchers have found.

The researchers used electronic monitoring to tease apart the various types of interaction in the workplace and their differing effects.

Such monitoring could improve how individuals and organizations work, but it raises issues about the extent to which companies monitor their employees' behaviour.

Many studies of communication within organizations, such as of who e-mails whom, have suggested that loose networks, in which people have few contacts in common, boost productivity. But these don't capture face-to-face, moment-to-moment communication, says Benjamin Waber of the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"People have formal structures and reporting relationships, but when you look at who's actually talking to each other you get a different picture. We can predict productivity far more accurately from these informal structures and behaviours,” Nature quoted Waber, as saying.

Waber and his colleagues equipped a team of 23 employees at a Chicago IT company with badges that detect when they are talking, who they are close to and when they are moving about.

The workers were designing server systems. Over the course of a month, the researchers collected data on 911 individual jobs done by 23 employees in 1,900 hours. As well as measuring the time spent on each job — anything from five minutes to several days — they were able to control for its complexity and detect errors.

People who spent lots of time between jobs interacting with their colleagues — going to lunch or stopping for a chat — ultimately got much more done, the results showed. The best connected employee was 60 percent more productive than the least, says Waber, who presented his results at the International Conference on Network Science in Norwich, UK, on 27 June.

No one suspected that such interaction would help, says Waber.

"The company was astounded — formally, these people were not supposed to be talking to each other," he says.

On the other hand, if someone communicated while they were assigned to a task — whether seeking help or distracted by others — their productivity dropped sharply.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Sunday, November 2, 2008

WORLD'S MOST ROMANTIC COUPLE

The world's most romantic couple Anette and Kenneth Lund have already married each other six times as well as breaking a world record with four ceremonies in one day.

The pair are so besotted they plan to keep tying the knot every year until they die in a bid to keep the excitement of their marriage alive.
Mrs Lund, 32, explained: "When Kenneth asked me to marry him again and again, I loved the idea.
"I'll never get tired of marrying him, even when we're old and grey. I'll have a new dress, flowers and pictures every year. What bride wouldn't love that?"

The couple, from Vejle, Denmark, run a wedding planning website together and jetted off to Las Vegas for their four weddings last month.

They said their vows first at the Venetian Hotel, then in a limousine conducted by Elvis, thirdly in a helicopter above the bright lights of the strip, and finally while skydiving.

"We wanted it to be fun, and it was," said Mrs Lund. "But each time we got married, it was as special as our real wedding three years ago.

"In the morning we had to rush to the registrar to pick up our marriage licences, then we went to a shop to hire a wedding dress and suit.

"It was very hot and we were rushing around all day. But I didn't worry about my hair, or how my make-up looked.

"The only thing that mattered was the man I was marrying and how in love we are."

Ironically, Mr Lund met his wife when he planned her first wedding to her ex-husband, and they started dating when her marriage ended after a year.

Mrs Lund said: "We share the same sense of humour and there's a definite chemistry between us.

"Now we work together, live together and we're very in love.

"We always do romantic things like surprise each other with little notes on the mirror, or flowers in the bed."

Before flying to Las Vegas, Mr Lund handed his wife a box containing a sparkling pink sapphire ring to replace her real enagement ring, which she lost last year.

"I never realised there were so many ways to get married in Las Vegas," he said. "We couldn't decide which to do so we decided to do them all.

"Now we have the world record for the most weddings in a day."

The couple originally wed at a civil ceremony in Denmark in August 2005.

"We sneaked off and got married without telling anyone," said Mrs Lund. "It was romantic because it was just two people in love.

"We invited our families to dinner afterwards and luckily they all forgave us."

But a year later, Mr Lund proposed again and the couple had a full church service in August 2007.

"We had a great day with all our friends and family and Kenneth's daughter Mille, seven, was a bridesmaid," said his wife.

Now the couple are busy planning their next wedding.

"Next year we'd like to say our vows while swimming with dolphins in Mexico," said Mr Lund.
"We're also investigating whether its possible to marry on the Orient Express."

The couple's website helps brides and grooms to be plan everything from their outfits to venues, flowers and table settings.

"We hope to help people have a service as special as all ours have been," said Mrs Lund.

Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Women unnerved by ‘ogling’ security guards in capital

Islamabad continues to be plagued by a string of issues yet there are some that rarely get highlighted like the security guards - their habit of staring at women, so to speak.

With the security situation showing little signs of improving, more and more guards are now being employed, many of whom are posted outside private homes and it is here where the problem begins.

In some of the posh sectors like those falling under the E and F series, there is barely a house without a guard sitting outside. Clad usually in dark blue uniforms, for most of these men staring at women is a favorite pastime.

Having to perform long duties, at times up to 12 hours each day, there is little else for them to but to watch and stare at everyone going past, especially the women.

The situation is worse in streets where offices, embassies, showrooms and guesthouses have been set up that makes the movement of women quite troublesome. “No one likes being stared at, it is simply a disgusting thing,” remarked Shazia Ahmed, a housewife.

The movement of housewives has been restricted because of this problem. All sorts of people visit the offices in residential areas and there is so much of activity going on outside that it makes it hard for most women to come out of their homes as the presence of security guards was also a big irritant.

Today there are as many as 500 registered security firms that recruit the guards who are then posted in places where the client’s want them to be. More than 100 people come to use for recruitment daily.


However the growing numbers are clearly not going down well with women. Security is everyone’s concern but the unprofessional manner in which the guards perform their duties and their gestures make women feel uncomfortable. The guards are actually a security threat for they shared information with their colleagues and servants in the neighbourhood. They tell others what time a woman next door leaves for work and returns. Tthe guards have given different names to women in different street. This is simply insulting.


On the other hand the security guards have their own story to tell. Some of the guards instead of admitting their wrong said that why were they being singled out. “Everyone looks at women, you cannot put a person in jail for doing so,” said one guard posted in F 6/4 while another thought that it was their duty to keep an eye on everyone. As far as the guards are concerned, they are doing a good job. Really?


Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
House # 2026, Street # 32,
I-10/2, ISLAMABAD.
mahtabbashir@gmail.com
Voice: 0300 52 56 875

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

FAT women 'more sexually active'

Those who think women scoring more on the weighing scale do not score much when it comes to sexual behaviour, certainly need a reality check, for a new study has revealed that fat ladies have more sex than females with "normal weight".

Oregon and Hawaiian researchers have found that a woman's weight does not seem to affect sexual behaviour.

Led by Dr Bliss Kaneshiro, an assistant professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, and Oregon State University professor Marie Harvey, the study was based on data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth that looked at sexual behaviour of more than 7,000 women. In earlier studies it was Kaneshiro observed that obese and overweight women have a higher risk of unintended pregnancy than do normal weight women.

Thus, Kaneshiro studied the relationship between body mass index and sexual behaviour, including sexual orientation, age at first intercourse, number of partners, and frequency of intercourse.

"Our analysis demonstrated that obese and overweight women do not differ significantly in some of the objective measures of sexual behaviour compared to women of normal weight. This study indicates that all women deserve diligence in counselling on unintended pregnancy and STD prevention, regardless of body mass index," said Kaneshiro.

The study ruled out the widely held stereotypes that overweight and obese women are not as sexually active as other women, as the researchers concluded that it's the opposite that is true.

"I was glad to see that the stereotype that you have to be slender to have sex is just that, a stereotype," said Harvey.

The data revealed that overweight women were more likely to report having sexual intercourse with a man, even when she controlled for age, race and type of residence.

In fact, 92% of overweight women reported having a history of sexual intercourse with a man, as compared to 87% of women with a normal body mass index.

"These results were unexpected and we don't really know why this is the case," said Kaneshiro.

Kaneshiro's study was awarded first prize at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists' annual meeting this year. The study was published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

Courtesy: Agencies 

WHY BOYS ALWAYS FALL FOR 'A LADY IN RED'?

DRESSED TO IMPRESS: Why the boys always fall for 'a lady in red'?

Forget that little black dress. Gentlemen really prefer a lady in red. As actress Kelly Brook knows only too well.
Blushing in shades of crimson, scarlet or deep rose, a girl is regarded as prettier and more desirable, research shows.

She is also more likely to be asked out on a date - and have more money lavished on her during the outing.

What is more, men seem completely oblivious to the effect that a glimpse of red can have on their emotions.

The researchers said it appeared they were driven by primal instincts that associate the colour with sex.

The study, carried out at the University of Rochester in the U.S., involved a series of experiments in which men were shown a photo of a 'moderately attractive' young woman.

In some cases, the colour of the border framing the picture was changed, in other cases the colour of the woman's blouse varied. Red, blue, green, grey and white were tested. In all cases, red was judged the most attractive.
The men were much more likely to ask out a woman wearing red. And they estimated they would spend almost twice as much on her as one in blue.
Despite the clear effect, the men insisted colour played little role in their choices, suggesting they were oblivious to the power of red.

The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, claims to provide the first hard evidence of 'society's enduring love affair with red'.

From the red body paints used in ancient fertility rituals, to the phrase 'red light district' and the red hearts of Valentine's Day, the colour has long been associated with romance.
In the animal world, red often signals a female is at her most fertile, with female baboons and chimps blushing conspicuously at this time.
Men are not alone in being attracted to red. The research suggests a man in scarlet is just as irresistible to women.
Allow me to hum one of my favourite romantic golden song of olden days by Chris DeBurgh …

I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight
I’ve never seen you shine so bright
I’ve never seen so many men ask you, if you wanted to dance
They’re looking for a little romance
Given half a chance
And I’ve never seen that dress you’re wearing
Or that highlights in your hair
That catch your eyes
I have been blind
The lady in red is dancing with me
Cheek to cheek
There’s nobody here
It’s just you and me
It’s where I wanna be
But I hardly know this beauty by my side
I’ll never forget the way you look tonight
I’ve never seen you looking so gorgeous as you did tonight
I’ve never seen you shine so bright, you were amazing
I’ve never seen so many people want to be there by your side
And when you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away
And I have never had such a feeling such a feeling
Of complete and utter love, as I do tonight
I never will forget the way you look tonight
The lady in red
My lady in red……
Muhammad Mahtab Bashir
Islamabad
Voice: 0300 52 56 875