Tuesday, May 10, 2011

my own words | Geek on the other side of the world

"my own words" is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion or understanding to unique issues. Remember, one "story" could change a life, and that could be your story.

To submit your own story, click here.

I "met" the next guest writer, Azim Durrani, for this series on Twitter. He had commented about a wise crack I had made about a news outlet reporting that the people of Abbottabad, Pakistan had to know that Osama bin Laden (OBL) was in the compound where he was eventually killed by U.S. Navy Seals. I was totally intriqued with the fact that I was so {not} minding my own business on Twitter... and then pops up a young man from Pakistan who happened to live in the same city where OBL was killed. And, I wanted to know his story. He graciously emailed it to me today from his phone.

I am Azim Durrani from Abbottabad, Pakistan. I've been living in this peaceful town since childhood. I studied in Burnhall which is one of the oldest schools in Pakistan which was run by Christian missionaries. I am currently a student doing my undergrad in business.

Abbottabad has been a quiet town where there are a lot of schools, universities and medical colleges which serve as the main economic sources of the town. Mostly people in this town are sole traders, doctors, teachers and bankers. Most elderly people living in this city like it because its a nice place to enjoy life after retirement. This has been a city where nothing special ever happens. I mean we barely had any place to go to if we wanted to get together and party.

This city is very densely populated.

The people who would come to the city for their daily earnings would mostly live in small villages near Abbottabad. But that all soon changed as time passed. The population of the town grew slowly and gradually over the period of the last ten years.

When the 2005 earthquake hit Pakistan, Abbottabad was one of the places that was affected by the earthquake. After that incident, most of the people living in the villages fled to Abbottabad and settled down here.

After that, back in May 2009, the Pakistan Government started an operation against the Taliban in the Northern areas of the country (mainly Waziristan, Swat and Bajaur). Civilians from those areas had to evacuate which created a refugee crisis in the country.

Most of the people preferred to settle down in Abbottabad since it had a comparatively cool weather compared to other cities of the country, during the summers.This proved to be bad in the future since now the town is slowly becoming overly populated and most of the refugees that had settled down back in 2009 never left since this town was much safer then where they had come from.

The refugees could find education facilities for their children and especially their daughters could study here without any threats from the Taliban.

I live about 2-3 km (under 2-3 miles) from the area where Osama bin Laden's former compound is.

First of all, I didn't even know that place existed until I saw it on TV. 

My first reaction was like "WOW", he managed to live in such a huge house (I wouldn't call it a mansion since it was so different from the definition of what a mansion is in Pakistan) and the neighbors didn't even know who was living there??  How is that possible??

But when I think about it, I come to the conclusion that people had totally forgotten Osama still existed, and for the people who thought he did exist, they had a mental picture of him hiding in some cave making a video.

He was very much alive and living in our peaceful town.  Maybe like most of the citizens in this town he was getting old and thought maybe he needed to take a break from all these dry mountain terrains, so he decided to come to the town where nothing special ever happened. "Now that's just perfect", I'm just assuming this is what he thought before he moved to Abbottabad.

So now let's come to the point of how "it" all started.

It was just another one of those boring sundays where I didn't do anything special.  That day I was pretty happy when I ordered the Superman: Earth One HC and Batman the Long Halloween TPB for myself.  I then went to the coffee shop and metup with Sohaib Athar (aka @ReallyVirtual on Twitter).  After that I played some Bulletstorm on my Xbox and then played the PC classic Unreal tournament on my laptop.  (Azim is a huge gaming fan.)

The day passed by and I was still acting lazy. But then the electricity went out in the whole city around 10 and came back around 12:00 at night. I then heard helicopters coming in, which I really wasn't pushed (concerned) about until after I heard the explosion.

Five minutes later I was back to being not pushed about it at all. I thought maybe it was a sound barrier but then I thought twice and said to myself, helicopters aren't fast enough to break the sound barrier?? But then, I was like what the hell... who cares anyways?

So I got back to my geek habits, and then Sohaib Athar asks me if he heard the explosion or not. I answered yes, but I told him it was nothing to worry about... must have been some flight excercise crash and he agreed with me.

So I went to sleep and when I woke up in the morning, I felt like maybe I'd woken up in a parallel universe, like as if I was living the life of my closest multiverse counterpart...because Osama bin Laden has been captured and killed in his house, which happend to be in Abbottabad!!

Strange? Yeah I know, but that's how I think.

So, the day starts with one of the biggest news of the decade .Osama bin Laden killed in Abbottabad. Who would have thought he'd be crazy enough to live in this side of the world? He must have been totally insane, because he sounds like a true daredevil to be living about a kilometer away from Pakistan's Millitary Academy.  The al Qaeda members must have been like, "Bravo to our fearless leader".  LOL.

So this town is filled up with journalists from around the world the next day.  Who would have thought they'd see the day when American TV news reporters would actually come here.  But that's just a sign of one of the good fortunes left before dying.

I mean, I got to be in an article in Time Magazine on the very day he was captured, and after that I got an article written about me on America's biggest gaming blog.  And, I'm happy I got to be known for who I am internationally, i.e a geek.

Yes, I've been bullied by people in school about acting and thinking differently. But now, I have something to be proud of.  I can walk tall in the University knowing I got to be mentioned in Time and got to be featured on a cover article on Kotaku's website. My teachers are happy because they would always be like "Durrani, you have such good potential how come you never put it to any good use?"

Well, now I have.

The Pakistani people are worried about their future and fear what the future holds for them. The country was already facing a hard time due to the hands of the Taliban and the harsh economic conditions of the country and not to forget the electricity loadshedding.

My message goes out to the people who are reading this article -- please remember us in your prayers and pray our country stabilizes because we are truly peace loving people (if not the whole country, Abbotabad definitely has the most peace loving people in the country,  which explains why nothing special happened here lol). 

I would like to thank my mother here for her never ending support in my life. She never stopped believing in me through all the hardships and failures I have faced in this life of mine. She always forgave me of my mistakes and loves, and has nothing but her never ending love for me... for only God and she knows what I have been through these past couple of years. They have been such a rollercoaster for me and my family.  She took me to Florida with her, not once but twice, and showed me what the world outside is like even though my father was strictly against it at that time and wanted me to concentrate on my studies rather then spending a vacation in the states.

Azim (far right) and his family

I would like to give shoutouts to my friends here who have been there for me when I needed them.

First, Haris Hidayatullah whose been a really good friend of mine since I was 13 and still is.

Zabiullah Khan whom I met last year in university. An honest friend.

Ameer Gilani who has been a fellow geek since highschool, but now he's turned into this ladies' man and rarely find time to hangout with his old friend.

Sohaib Athar --- I met him a few a months ago and he and his wife are very nice and kind people. The best part about him is he's a true science fiction fan,and he's got an outstanding taste in music. If it weren't for him,  I wouldn't have been mentioned in that Time magazine article so thank you, Sohaib Bhai if you are reading this.

And a few others who are girls but I can't mention them here..but if they read this they know I'm talking about them.

In the end, I would like to say Abbottabad is a really nice tourist destination to visit in the spring and early summers. It's a quiet town and has none of the other terrorist crap people talk about. Trust me, I'm a fanboy and a geek whose lived here since childhood and I'm talking from experience.

So, do visit next time you plan to have an exciting adventure and see the colors of our country.

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Do you have any questions or comments for Azim? Leave them here in the 'Comments' section to start the conversation! Don't forget to follow him on Twitter, too!
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And, don't forget to VOTE!  Oh, #12 so close, I can smell it!

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