Originally posted on bint battuta:

I’ve just watched Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible The Act of Killing (the director’s cut).

In the course of the film various people state that “gangster” comes from the English “free man” – which means gangsters are a good thing. In one scene Jusuf Kalla, vice president of Indonesia, goes as far to claim that Indonesia needs gangsters, because they get things done:

In an interview with Joshua Oppenheimer, Matt Goldberg asked him about “preman”, the word translated as “gangster”:

MG: One of the things I wanted to talk to you about is in the film they repeatedly say that “gangster” comes from the word “freeman,” and in English it doesn’t.

JO: No.

MG: So I was curious about the etymology of the English word versus the Indonesian etymology of the word “gangster.”

JO: I’m not exactly sure what the English etymology is.

MG: It really…

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For Sarah.

We walked a mile together
And then you turned away
To chastise the demons
That haunted you
with every breath
That filled your lungs,
Dancing to the drum like
Pulse of your heart.
And now,
You are beyond
This realm we cherish
More than our lives;
Beyond the demons,
And friends, and hope.
I wish I could see you
One last time,
But the Vanquisher’s utterance
Won’t be taken back.
So cruel is my Creator;
Takes the sunshine
From those who shiver
In barren wastelands
Of our time;
Takes the best first,
And leaves the worst
As a curse unto us;
To inflict sufferance unto us
For we deserved
To loose a gem
That had value only
To those who saw it shine.
My ears hear your voice no more,
Perhaps, only in my mind
I shall see
Your sad, sad smile again,
That gave me hope,
As you kept none for yourself.

Probably the best selfie I’ve ever taken.


Improvised fish-eye view – reflections off the rear of a fog-lamp.

Yep! That’s me sitting in the back of an old Toyota Hilux. And yes, that is snow. I went on a trip with some of my friends 5 years ago to the beautiful valleys of Kaghan and Naran, which is about 10 hours drive from Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.

I took this photo at the suggestion of a friend. It was more of a dare, on our way back from the beautiful Lulusar Lake, which is the primary headwater for the River Kunhar. After a few attempts, I nailed it. It wasn’t easy though, thanks largely to a slippery, bumpy, dipping, and meandering road, and our driver trying his best to maintain the truck’s momentum. Whichever vehicle you’re in, it’ll struggle and gasp above 10,000 feet above sea level. We were at close to 11,000 feet and rushing on at around 60km/h.

I still say that the best way to see the northern areas of Pakistan is by sitting in the back of truck, be it summer or winter.

Dusk and Her embrace.

I saw her standing on a dark corner.
Burning in her I saw a fire.
It was need, not desire,
Because she hadn’t much.
She came to their rescue,
And they came to her rescue.
The needs were very different,
But they needed each other,
To be; to exist independently;
To fulfill themselves and needs.
She needs to eat to live.
They live to consume all they see.
So they meet on a dark corner,
Where few would witness the transaction,
But Dusk and Her embrace.
They be and not be Human.

He Waits For His Day.

He waits for his day,

Or night if it shall be,

When he joins his friends

In the afterlife that maybe.

Today, another friend abandoned him.

Tonight, he shall weep alone.

Tomorrow, he shall mourn no more,

For he shall learn again to live alone.

To loss, his nerves seem immune.

Weathered eyes and a body frail.

Sickness, victories, life he endured,

But one day, Death shall prevail.

His stoic manner, as ever, lies.

But not when his mother, wife, sister died.

Still, alone he defies Death in silence.

But not when his father, brother, son all died.

His eyes smile apparently only,

When he holds his grand or great-grandchild.

Joy explodes in his dim old eyes.

At night comes the sadness he exiled.

In the cold of the night,

Night’s loneliness, sleep stays away.

And memory unsheathes its daggers,

And the banshee of Age keeps Hope at bay.

The voices echo and sing him to sleep.

The faces greet and frolic in dream.

Past is Present, and Present is Past, soon.

He sighs as every morning is not a dream.

He cries for his beloveds in loneliness.

The streams are dry, still, Life holds sway.

In the dreary day, and weary in the night

He waits for his day.

The Fallen.

 Their song became wordless.

The words shall never be sung,

Played to the rhythm of gunfire,

Maybe their tale shall be sung.


Tonight, the stars shine down upon them

As they lie lifeless, bleeding.

Their fervour has fled with their spirits,

Slain by evil and its seeding.


They lived not for the glory,

But their end was plain gory.

They perished with their mothers, wives, sisters,

For a Motherland. ‘Tis the very story.


“Once in a lifetime,

Once in a blue moon,

A chance to break free of the shackles.”

They prayed for it to be soon.


Stars shine down upon them,

As the enemy celebrates.

And desecrating each of the Fallen,

As their laughter reverberates.


“Each a vicious militant!

Each a savage brute!

Each an enemy of the Great Republic!

Each uncouth!”


Each escaping the clutches of the Satanate,

For hope and Freedom.

Where dignity and honour, well-preserved,

Away from this fiefdom.


“They were armed to their teeth!”

Or so the soldiers stated,

But many were feeble, young and old.

Or simply, ill-fated.


Their arms were just prayers,

Their munitions: words of God,

Their aim was just Freedom.

Or whatever was willed by God.


Escape was the only way out for them,

As their days were all slated.

Lurking in the tall pines,

Hidden, Death waited.


Their wish was Freedom,

From subjugation, oppression.

God willed it from all kinds

In His Just, Noble fashion.


The Fallen fell from our sights,

Flew away their martyred sprites.

Freedom comes in Kingdom Come.

The Fallen win in respite.