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Our relationship with the winter season is similar to U2’s song With or Without You. We spend our entire summers cribbing about how hot or humid it is, and reminiscing warm blankets, stylish sweaters, hot coffee, savoury soups and long walks – the pleasures that we associate with winters. And of course eating peanuts late in the night!  Come winters and most of us can be found snuggled in our blankets, with laptops hugged closely or TV remote in our hand. Needless to mention, surrounded by a month’s ration since it’s a challenging task to abandon warm comforters and step out to get something. Hit by the winter blues too soon, the weak-hearted and lazy ones among us wish they could hibernate throughout winters.

On the other hand, the adventurous ones who truly appreciate and enjoy every season begin planning vacations as soon as the temperature dips. Come rain or shine, our spectacular northern valleys are a perfect getaway for most Pakistanis. Our snow-capped mountains and icy cold lakes are a sight to witness.

In case, you too have decided not to stay tucked in your comforter, keep munching and then be amazed how did you turn into a ball, this article aims at helping you plan an eco-vacation this year.  

ecotourism

What is an eco-vacation?

Precisely it means:

  • Selecting a natural spot over a magnificent resort constructed out of human cruelties such as deforestation and mismanagement of natural resources.
  • Going around and talking to the locals to inquire what carnages in the name of luxury hotels and profiteering businesses have been carried out.
  • Gathering knowledge about environmental disasters.
  • Partnering with the locals to create awareness and to prevent exploitation.

Planning the Trip

Before you head out for the adventure, make sure you have acquired sufficient information about the environmental issues faced by the locals. Also do not forget to study their culture, as some people take an offence if not addressed properly. No matter what stay polite. You can rant at your heart’s content when you return home.

Buy Local

Firstly, you must ensure that you are adequately equipped with all the essentials that you will be requiring during the trip. In case, you’ve forgotten to pack something do not be tempted to buy it as soon as you see it on the shelves. Look for a local alternate instead. For example, if it’s a bag of chips you’re dying for; ask if they serve fries or a replica of the dish. Not only will this save you from paying an exuberant amount for an ordinary thing easily available in your hometown, you will also do your body a favour. Potatoes are packed with vitamins, flavonoids and other nutrients which are usually lost in transportation or at risk due to pesticides residue. Being an organic-kitchen-gardener-in-the-making, trust me nothing tastes better than home grown fresh produce.

Similarly, hide those coffee sachets or teabags. Order a steaming cup of kehwa instead. It’s a healthy cleansing tonic for your body. Have a cup and you’ll be asking for another!

Support their business, appreciate their local crafts and traditions and you have made friends for life.

Staying Responsibly

Does this even need to be explained? Of course, do not litter around you’re on an eco-trip you have to practice what you preach. Do not begin chopping trees, picking flowers or hunting animals and birds. This also doesn’t mean to throw a tantrum when your host insists. Refuse with courtesy.

Getting there:

Unfortunately, we have not developed any railroads to take us to the mountains and the ones that we have we’re bend on destroying them. Sigh! Travelling by car or plane is NOT AT ALL eco-friendly. Hire a bus and make it a big family or friends’ trip.

Do not want to kill the excitement, but before you get set check on storm or blizzard warnings, if any. You’ll definitely not relish the idea of being stranded in the middle of nowhere. And while we’re at it make sure you’ve packed enough warm clothing, food and water to help your survive the trip. Whether you choose to take your own car or hire a bus, have a mechanic check the battery and ignition system. Test the wipers, lights and heating system. Fill up the fuel tank and keep a spare tyre. Lastly, be clear on the directions to avoid getting lost.    

Upon Returning Home

After you have slept at your heart’s will to unwind the travel related stress, get up and start working on the promises you made to the locals. Look for environmental groups handling those issues and willing to support. Come talk to us, share your experiences and tell us how we can team up to stop this exploitation. Remember unless we speak and discuss, a miracle is not going to happen on its own!

Year 2011 is being termed as the year of revolution, let’s make some promises to Mother Earth, conserve and opt a sustainable lifestyle.

 

Few months ago, a video was circulating on Facebook titled Disconnect to Connect . The video carried a beautiful message that while instant messaging has reduced the distances and helps one stay connected 24/7 we often disregard the one sitting right ‘next to us’ seeking for our attention. 

Has that ever happened to you? Have you considered it might be hurtful if not annoying for others?  I for one certainly have been in this situation. I have been invited to evening teas and Sunday brunches only to find my friends over-occupied with their social paraphernalia. Everyone for some moment seemed invisible to the other. Even after the meal arrived, people held their forks in one hand, strongly gripping their cell phone in the other. A small talk here about how appealing the food appears or a comment that meat isn’t tender enough and a text there. Seeking attention by sharing with the world, “Yaaaaaaaay!!! Having fun with friends.” While there hasn’t been any ‘real’ conversation between the friends for past one hour. Everybody has been busy updating their status. Have we really become dead inside?

After this particular advertisement caught my attention, my brain transmitted an instant signal yearning for a ‘reality check’. Yes! By no means I want to pose I am the victim and I have never ignored a person sitting right next to me because I was busy texting away. Before, I was introduced to the cell phones and social media I had several hours of ‘me’ time. During that time, I managed to do a lot more than what I do by spending (read wasting) time over Facebook, Twitter or text messaging. Now my to-do-list is always getting longer and I have not been able to strike-out the things I planned to do months ago.

And that is not enough. While people want to take a breather from the unnecessary stresses of daily life, or more precisely the corporate world, by going on a vacation they are still carrying madness and chaos with them. There is no time left to connect with our inner being. 

As I spoke to the voices in my head, I knew I have wasted numerous precious moments by not embracing the present or acknowledging the people with me right NOW. In my struggle to keep a balance between full-time job, socializing and personal relationships, I know I have neglected those who should have been my priority. In my pursuit to staying connected, I forgot the existence of some very special beings. And most importantly my hobbies which have given me hours of productive time. Had I restored my hobbies much earlier, I wouldn’t have been grumbling over our power(less) situation.

Disconnect to connect has helped me recognize and appreciate that life is short and beautiful. We may have several reasons to complain, but we also have much more to be grateful for. We all need to disconnect for some time to realize its worth, to identify our priorities wisely, to find answers to questions, to be able to make better decisions and most importantly to connect with our inner beings.  

Here is the video that moved me, after watching it, look around to see if there is anyone around you that would appreciate your attention. Enjoy!

 

Today more than ever this message goes out to the hearts of every one in Pakistan and citizens of the world over. In light of the escalating violence, the great unraveling of civil liberties and suffocating inequalities, let us take pause for a moment. This speech will stir something within you.

This epic speech was filmed in 1940 by Charlie Chapin as a satire against Nazi Germany. The film caused a huge stir, and some say that the public outcry from this video helped push the US to join the war against Nazi Germany.

I’m sorry but I don’t want to be an Emperor – that’s not my business – I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.

We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The humility and humble introduction is literally spine tingling, and begs the question, in our lifetime ha there been anyone in such a power position that would renounce that power for the good of humankind? Chapin then goes on to comment about the state of the world in which we live:

We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

Was Chaplin ever right about that, and to think that 71 years has passed and still, still we are left wanting.

 

Happy Birthday Pakistan!

From all of us at PSN, we hope you have a wonderful day of celebration.

We know there is a lot to be done to make our country great, but it all starts with love, and we are all great at showing love on 14th August! Lets fuel our passion for our great country by contributing to great things that build our nation.

Our friends in Karachi are organizing a Pot-hole filling event to help raise awareness about the need for citizens to be involved in the development of their communities. So if you are in Karachi do join the fun!

Also, across Pakistan (and now Jordan) people are making a pledge for compassion. See what they have been up to and make a pledge today. For one simple action can truly make a difference.

Remember, in Pakistan everyday can be GREEN.

This Ramadan lets give peace a chance.
Ramadan is a beautiful and spiritual time in Pakistan. It is when we are reminded of our frailty and our power. For many it is a time to reconnect with friends and family, God, or for some, to atone for past sins by giving in charity.
It is also a time of discount iftaar deals, and new designer Eid clothes.
Whichever way you choose to spend this month is up to you, after all, you will reap only that which you sow.

Now we all know that the country has been gripped in violence, natural disasters, and failed security, economic and educational promises. So it is only natural that most of us feel like we cannot make a difference, that no act can change the way things have become, after all “this is just another day in Pakistan” right?

What if it wasn’t. What if the simplest of actions could have the biggest impacts? I am reminded of the story of the snowflake, whose weight was nothing more than nothing, yet still felled a branch. Therein it’s lesson about the importance of union in Compassion. Here is a quote by Abd-Ru-shin on Union:

Union! Do not pass over this lightly, but try to deepen yourself in this concept that ripeness and perfection are attained through union. The principle rests in the entire Creation as a treasure that needs to be unearthed! It is intimately connected to the Law that only in Giving can there also be Receiving! And what does the correct grasping of these sentences require? Thus, the experiencing? Love! And therefore, indeed, Love stands as the highest power, as unlimited might in the secrets of the great Existence!

This Ramadan, our friends at the Charter of Compassion has provided a great tool for help us set easy to obtain goals for each day during Ramadan. And each action will have endless ripples. So like the snow flake. If you ever feel like you cannot make a difference, put a smile on someones face, and see the whole world brighten up.

This Ramadan, let’s give peace a chance!


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