Monday, January 4, 2010

Goals for 2010

Although I've made a pretty detailed list of the stuff I'd like to accomplish in this year, here's a brief synopsis of what I hope my year will look like:

Business Projects:

1. Set-up personal website

2. Expand the WordPL team, both in terms of projects and writers/designers/researchers

3. Write for print publications –local and international

4. Revenue goals: incremental from $1000-$5000 every month achieved through a variety of ways including freelance projects for international and local clients, affiliate programs, e-books and other product lines, niche websites, AdSense revenue, residual income streams & more

Personal Projects:

1. Take a mini-vacation! ($$)

2. Embark on home improvement projects: new home office d├ęcor, house paint, new window installation, new flooring for some rooms ($$)

3. Buy a laptop (yeah this one's a must for any business owner and I've been procrastinating on it) ($$$)

4. Stay healthy! (flu shots for family, health insurance & other preventive measures) ($$)

5. Get daughter admitted in regular school for next semester ($$$)

6. Track finances via Google spreadsheet (I'm always at a loss as to my incoming and outgoing!)

Several of these have already been put into motion, which is pretty darn good of me considering its still Jan 3rd, ha-ha.

If anyone wants to help me do any of the above or donate to the "Jafri2012" fund (yeah that’s when we believe an epoch will end) please note my PayPal account is and acceptable currencies include dollar, euro, yen and Pak rupee.

p.s. This is obviously a (lame) attempt at publicizing my goals in an effort to make myself get off my hiny and actually do something! I will also put this list on a large poster-printout in front of my computer to see daily – I will obviously only do this if constantly reminded by you to do so. Remind me @salmajafri on Twitter


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What to do in a Terror Attack

Many years ago, when I was still in school, I wanted to go to National Stadium, Karachi with friends to see my first ever cricket match being played between traditional rivals Pakistan and India. Since matches between these two nations were often fraught with violence and riots, my mother forbade me to go. My father, on the other hand, gave me permission with the following stipulations:

1. I was to stay close to my friends and not wander off alone (yeah this was before the era of cell phones so get rid of those smirks)

2. I was to carry a cloth napkin and water bottle with me

3. I was to know where the nearest exit was and where the car was parked.

Ecstatic at being given permission to go, I agreed to the somewhat puzzling terms. Sure enough, before the first innings was played out, riots broke out – the players hurried off the field while being pelted with oranges and empty water bottles and the game halted.

I made my way along with friends to the nearest exit; there was a stampede brewing. Then the police started to use tear gas to dispel the rioters. I was the only person able to wet my cloth napkin, put it over my face, breathe somewhat normally, and calmly walk out through the tear gas without my eyes stinging as bad.

Lesson learned: in Karachi, live it up but always be prepared for the worst.

With reference to the terrorist activity in Karachi and the latest bomb blast at the Moharram procession 2 days ago, I have this to say:

Please display some common sense and practice some basic preventive and safety measures while you exercise your freedom, because after all we live in a terrorist hot zone. While no one can possibly be safe all time, you can at least mitigate the risk.

Regardless of what authorities do or don’t do, each citizen must train themselves to be extra vigilant, extra cautious and extra careful. We cannot and should not stop our lives; we won't stop partying, or processions, or eating out, or praying in mosques, or celebrating and staying out late or anything. But we should, we MUST, think a little on how best to stay safe while we go about our normal business.

A year ago, I wrote a safety and security guide for a client. That guide is equally applicable to Karachi and its citizens. Since the guide is copyrighted to the client I wrote it for, I'll paraphrase some of the relevant points here.

Be Prepared

Vigilance starts with preparation since planning for various contingencies often helps to ensure that they do not reach crisis proportions and even if they do, we are better able to deal with them. So start your planning before leaving home by making sure that relevant people know where you're going and how to contact you and you know how to contact them during emergencies.

Be Suspicious

Just recently the case of the so-called Christmas bomber was unearthed before he could blow himself up mid-air because some vigilant and alert passengers reported his suspicious behavior. So be suspicious of strangers until proven innocent, be wary of anyone acting overly friendly without reason, be alert for anything that is out of the ordinary. Being alert is half the battle since surprise is often a key element of attack for criminals.

Avoid Large Public Gatherings

Whether celebratory in nature or protesting in nature, large gatherings are a favorite target of terrorists. Avoid them wherever possible, but if you absolutely must go to one, then follow these safety precautions:

  • Don't take any valuables with you other than some cash
  • Stay in touch on your cell phone with someone and send them regular bulletins about your whereabouts, especially if in a moving procession
  • Be alert for unattended packages, bags, even abandoned cars and keep your distance from them, while alerting security personnel
  • Stick together with people you know and don't get lost in the crowd
  • Carry some chocolate or nuts (instant energy) and water with you

What to do during a Bomb Blast

  • Fall to the ground so there's less chance of shrapnel hitting you
  • Breathe slow and conserve oxygen
  • Don’t hold your breath so there's less chance of your lungs blowing up due to the compressed blast air
  • Attempt to find out if you have any serious injuries
  • Drag your body to a relatively safe spot instead of trying to stand up at once (there may be secondary blasts or you may have concussion or internal injuries)
  • If you're relatively unharmed, try and get out of the affected area immediately by walking (not running) swiftly
  • If you can, help those around you by telling them to breathe shallow and calling emergency medical personnel

What to do in Case of Fire & Smoke

  • Avoid getting trapped in buildings - buildings can become dangerous places during fires and stampedes. Make sure you know the shortest exit route, including fire exit, kitchen exit, back exit, etc. Make sure you stay close to exits at all times in case a bomb goes off or someone starts firing.
  • Wet a handkerchief or towel to put over your face so you can breathe without inhaling too much smoke
  • Walk half bent so you inhale as little smoke as possible since smoke rises to the top
  • Avoid asphyxiation with shallow breathing

In most cases of a terrorist attack, there will be mass panic around you. Keep your loved ones close to you and stay as calm and reassuring as you possibly can. It's also a good idea to discuss your preventive techniques with children and other members of your family so they will know what to expect and do.

Whatever you do, keep your wits about you. We live in dangerous times and while the steps outlined above cannot dispel every situation, they can certainly help you be a little safer.

Although this is a pretty serious post, I'm going to end with a bit of humor. Because after all, if we can't laugh it off every now and then, the seriousness of the situation itself could kill us. So with that in mind head on over to What to do in a Terrorist Attack and get some laughs (this article was written before Michael Jackson died, no offence to him!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Killing the Pied Piper and his Rats

Am i the only one who feels that following trends is not cool? Somehow it just never comes naturally to me, be it a fashion trend, a technology trend, a twitter trend or whatever. I don't wear long kameezes, I never tweet a trending topic, I never watch a movie which is wildly famous or read a book which everyone and my maid has read, and I never buy a new tech product just because of the hype surrounding it (win 7 anyone?)

I am just not a trend follower., which is not to say i don't do things that are popular. I do, but the minute it gains a mass follower ship, like zillions of rats lined behind the Pied Piper, I tend to veer off its course.

Instead I like to make my decision based on my personal choices, what suits me, what I would like and what I feel would benefit me. So yes on occasion I'll buy a wildly popular product if I have researched it thoroughly and feel that it would be a useful addition. Or i might subscribe to the fashion of the day if it meets  my own personal approval.

I don't get blind followers, be it fashion-slaves or religious zealots. I much prefer and greatly respect loners, rebels and leaders. In the end, aren't the last three all the same really? As Gill Fielding, self-made millionaire once said (and I'm paraphrasing here)  - You've got to be a little insane to be a millionaire.

Maybe I'm on the right path after all. All i know is its the most natural path to follow.