Saturday, 27 September 2014

I had a secret meeting with Richard Branson in the basement of my mind

Last night's dream:

I had two meetings with Richard Branson last night in my dream: one to discuss my poems and to get his feedback and one to invite him as a business mentor. During the first meeting, he was quite vague and made funny faces. But for my second meeting, which was several hours later, he goes, "IT company in Liberia? Yes, this is good." He made a thumbs up.

I woke up feeling very good!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Good morningggggg!

I am trapped in a vicious sleeping cycle. For the first ten days or so after I came back from Dubai, I was sleeping at 5 or 6 AM only to wake up around 3 PM.  Kavita's sleeping pattern was more or less the same thanks to me and, she was busy exploring and playing. She broke the honey jar one night and a small glass vase a couple of days after.  The pattern changed when I experimented with just staying up instead of going to sleep at 6 AM. One day we stayed up. Kavita was hyper active as ever. We went for an early morning walk and felt invigorated! My mother was also out for a walk and we spent the morning together. How curious to be awake when other people in the house were! We came home and  had parathas and eggs for breakfast. We went into town to town run some errands.  

I felt like a real human experiencing morning day light once again. So, now for the past few days, we stay up all morning and go to sleep at around 1 or 2 PM only to wake up again at 7 or 8 PM. 

My days and nights have no real beginning or end. It reminds me of how Anthony Hopkins explained how he does the southern American accent: it was like the beginnings and endings of words merged together and tumbled like dominoes one after another. This lyrical description of diction by one of the greatest actors has always stuck in my head.

In between the free moments I get, I keep myself busy contributing to the 'Keep Flying Social Media Campaign,' catching up on work e-mails and blogging. When you don't have to be anywhere, it is a great accomplishment just to make one's bed and keep one's things neat and tidy. 

I definitely feel like I'm in a limbo because almost all flights back to Liberia are suspended. It's extremely frustrating, an outrage, in fact. 

See photos of this morning's exploits in our garden. I am so happy with the results of my Q-Mobile's phone camera. 
























Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Gooood morning!


And, I saw wood pecker for the first time today. "Heh-heh-heh-HEH-ho!"


Friday, 5 September 2014

The Weekly Round Up

I don't update "The Weekly Round Up" as frequently as I should (hint: weekly) but here is a long over due one on what I've been reading and sharing on Facebook.

These posts take about an hour or more to do, depending on the gaps between the posts. It also takes time to read the articles again, click/paste the link locations, and go through what I liked about the articles or memes in the first place.

Pakistan's Hidden Shame

The documentary "Hidden Shame" alleges that 9 out of 10 children in Peshawar have been victims of pedophilia. The trailer contains partial interviews with truck drivers who have committed such crimes.  See "Pakistan’s Hidden Shame: Documentary reveals horrors of pedophilia in K-P."

Celebrity Passing Away: "Actor Maqsood Hassan passes away"

The Azadi March
 
This is a hilarious and very informative piece "In crisis-hit Pakistan, a new lexicon of politics emerges on Twitter"

Great news (not!): "Two captains: Miandad backs Imran's protest"

A very embarrassing piece on Imran Khan's Azadi March: "The Pretender to Pakistan's Throne." See excerpt:
Khan may be the world's oldest teenager, with a captive national audience. He thumbs his nose at political niceties and employs an invective that dumbs down the discourse. Like Justin Bieber, Khan focuses on electrifying the urban youth who genuinely believe him to be a messianic solution to the disenchantment they feel about their country. And Khan's understanding of Pakistan's problems is probably only slightly more sophisticated than Bieber's. Khan does not have the policy chops to fix what ails Pakistan: The crux of his efforts during these few weeks has been that he, not Sharif, should be prime minister.
The Ice Bucket Challenge Backlash


Innovative cities according to The Times of India: "The 18 most innovative cities on earth"

Blast from the past: Grammar and English Lit

This article "A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences" brought back memories of English class. I hated doing these diagrams mainly because of a 9th grade experience. When I barely passed a test that involved doing these diagrams and complained to our English teacher, Mr. Agnor, at DA, he said his heart was crying tears of blood for me.

And speaking of English classes check out "If White Characters Were Described Like People Of Color In Literature."

John Stewart's Amazing Rant about Fox's Coverage of Ferguson: "“Do you not understand that life in this country is inherently different for white people and black people?”

Chris Rock and Bullet Control

 

Junaid Jamshed Says Women Can't Drive?!

I got this meme from Laal's page:



Ebola Crisis in West Africa

An excellent article "The Cure for Ebola Is Accountability"
Despite millions of dollars of investment in the decade before the Ebola outbreak, there were only 150 trained doctors in the entire country of 3.5 million people. As a result, access to services is inevitably exclusionary, lending itself to networks of corruption as patients do anything they can to receive care.
Why does Liberia not seem to be able to get a grip on the epidemic as compared to Guinea or Sierra Leone? "As Ebola Grips Liberia’s Capital, a Quarantine Sows Social Chaos"
No one knows yet why Ebola has succeeded in spreading at such an alarming rate here in the capital. Ebola has reached the capital cities of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Conakry, Guinea — the two other West African nations most affected by the current outbreak — but the disease has been more effectively contained in those cities.

Our company's blog post about how ebola is affecting business: "How does a business cope with an ebola-struck economy?" Excerpt: 
It is doubtful guidebooks written by business gurus appearing on the prestigious New York Times bestseller list or a graduate of the Harvard Business School could advise a company on how to handle the deteriorating situation as the likes of which we are now facing in ebola-struck Liberia.
"Ebola: Can we learn from SARS?" made an excellent point about quarantine:
Quarantine was abandoned a century ago.

There is an essential difference between quarantine and case isolation. Quarantine targets well people potentially incubating an infection; it’s impractical, ineffective and economically disruptive. Case isolation, on the other hand, targets individuals showing symptoms of disease and is the cornerstone of effective infection control.

Quarantine didn’t help control SARS and it won’t help control Ebola. Because of fear of Ebola, whole areas of West Africa are being cordoned off and airlines are cancelling services. These are forms of quarantine. They will hinder the flow of aid without stopping the disease’s spread.
  

"If God saved an American doctor with Ebola, why did he let 1,200 Africans die?" is a sarcastic look at Dr Kent Brantly's gratitude to God. It's worth reading.

One of the best articles on how the ebola crisis unfolded in Liberia: "Ebola has caused Liberia’s cauldron of dissatisfaction to boil over." See an excerpt:
When looters invaded a treatment centre on 17 August, declaring that Ebola was not real and that the government was using it as a ruse to shore up donor funding, this revealed a crisis of citizenship.

When Liberians decide to hide suspected Ebola patients in their homes because they do not trust the healthcare system, this reveals a crisis of citizenship.

When healthcare workers avoid going to work because their colleagues have died without the proper protective gear or training to safeguard them from infection, this reveals a crisis of citizenship.

Those with money have the wherewithal to leave Liberia while others remain barricaded in their homes, shielding themselves from a silent killer with no cure. This also reveals a crisis of citizenship.

These actions are not those of illiterate, unreasonable people, but indicative of the desperation of poor people who have seen the state fail them repeatedly.

Ebola outbreak: fight against disease hampered by belief in witchcraft, warns British doctor 

This meme is directed to the public in the developed world:


Feminism, Gender Oppression and Equality

"The Fate of Feminism in Pakistan" is a fantastic article and, really helped to me further understand the issue in Pakistan.
But many Pakistanis cling to the idea that feminism is not relevant to Pakistan — that it’s the preserve of the rich and idle or, worse, that it’s a Western imposition meant to wreak havoc on Pakistani society. Many Pakistani men and women believe that women’s rights need go no further than improvements Islam brought to the status of women in tribal Arabia in the seventh century. Men in Pakistan are not yet ready to give up their male privilege, and many Pakistani women, not wanting to rock the boat, agree with them. The Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal calls it the “convenience of subservience” when elite and upper-class women marginalize women’s movements in order to maintain their own privilege.

The clinical psychologist Rubeena Kidwai said this about the status of women in Pakistan today: “Pakistani women are like bonsai trees, clipped and pruned and weighed down by the expectations of Pakistani society.”
 5 things women couldn't do in the 1960s was an eye-opener. I had no idea that American women were treated like second-class citizens well into the 60s and 70s. It only goes to show that even in the more open and free societies of the West, the attainment of equality was hard fought and, still has a long way to go.

I wonder how long it will take until patriarchy is completely removed and wonder what kind of society will overtake it. 

Meanwhile, get a dose of what American women couldn't do in the 60s:

1. Get a credit card 
2. Serve on a jury
3. Go on the birth control pill
4. Get an Ivy League education
5. Experience equality in the workplace

I follow Dr Taimur Rahman on Facebook. He is the founder of Laal, an Marxist activist and a Professor at LUMS. I was really moved and inspired by the note he shared on becoming a father and the realisation he made about women. It struck me because that is exactly the epiphany I had when I became a mother. Taimur's note is a perfect balance of poignant sentiment and intellect. I wonder how many Pakistani men understand this when they become fathers?

The entire experience of bringing a life in this world has left me completely in awe of women and in particular of my woman.

We men are genetically designed for violence. We have greater upper body strength designed to throw or hit things.

In a word, we are designed to bring death. Women to bring life.

It seems even more grossly unjust then that those built to bring death should dominate over those built to bring life.

Engels wrote that women were the first oppressed class. The rise of property deprived women of their free status. Patriarchy therefore is the oldest and most entrenched form of class oppression. Even Marxists fail to grasp the significance of this view. The first form of class oppression will arguably be the last form of class oppression eliminated with the elimination of classes from history.

For my part I do what I can to love and respect the woman who has brought a new life in our lives: my wife Mahvash Waqar. And as for our daughter, Zara Rahman, she probably won't see the end of patriarchy in her life but I hope we can give her the strength to stand up to it.

Gaza



This is Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian surgeon who traveled to Gaza to help the injured and has been treating hundreds of victims wounded in Israel’s ongoing assault, including young children.
Dr. Gilbert says hospitals are operating without electricity, water and proper medical supplies, but
adds: “As a medical doctor, my appeal is don’t send bandages, don’t send syringes, don’t send medical teams. The most important medical thing you can do now is to force Israel to stop the bombing and lift the siege of Gaza.”Gilbert recently recently submitted a report to the United Nations on the state of the Gaza health sector in 2014. “Where is the decency in the U.S. government allowing Israel this impunity to punish the whole
civilian population in Gaza?”
Image s
hared by Current News Service.

Marriage and Love

"How we end up marrying the wrong people" is a masterful piece on how we end up marrying the wrong person. See an excerpt below:

1. One: We don’t understand ourselves

The problem is that knowledge of our own neuroses is not at all easy to come by. It can take years and situations we have had no experience of. Prior to marriage, we’re rarely involved in dynamics that properly hold up a mirror to our disturbances. Whenever more casual relationships threaten to reveal the ‘difficult’ side of our natures, we tend to blame the partner – and call it a day. As for our friends, they predictably don’t care enough about us to have any motive to probe our real selves. They only want a nice evening out. Therefore, we end up blind to the awkward sides of our natures. On our own, when we’re furious, we don’t shout, as there’s no one there to listen – and therefore we overlook the true, worrying strength of our capacity for fury. Or we work all the time without grasping, because there’s no one calling us to come for dinner, how we manically use work to gain a sense of control over life – and how we might cause hell if anyone tried to stop us. At night, all we’re aware of is how sweet it would be to cuddle with someone, but we have no opportunity to face up to the intimacy-avoiding side of us that would start to make us cold and strange if ever it felt we were too deeply committed to someone. One of the greatest privileges of being on one’s own is the flattering illusion that one is, in truth, really quite an easy person to live with.

2. Two: We don’t understand other people
3. Three: We aren’t used to being happy
4.  Four: Being single is so awful
5.  Five: Instinct has too much prestige
6.  Six: We don’t go to Schools of Love
7. Seven: We want to freeze happiness
8. Eight: We believe we are special
9. Nine: We want to stop thinking about Love

Little Tibet

An article on the beautiful Shigar Valley in Dawn: "Pakistan's most well-kept secret."

Wisdom


Humour

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Keep Flying Social Media Campaign

A group of us are trying to start a social media campaign to bring attention to the aviatic quarantine that has been put on the countries experiencing the ebola epidemic. 

The suspension of flights to and from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea only adds to the sense of uncertainty, panic and stress. How can entire countries be put under quarantine? 

The group is an e-mail thread and there's 30-40 recipients. Only a few people are active on that list, contributing with ideas and comments. I had some emotional outbursts in my head during the virtual discussion and, I realised how differently vested I am in Liberia as compared to most people on that list.

At one point in the conversation, it felt like most of these people really do not understand what it actually means to be quarantined because many are still able to avail the SN Brussels flights (only one of two airlines still operating to and from Liberia). Some of them were evacuated by their organisations and are out of the country. Some persons did not seem to understand that there are other regional airlines who have suspended flights to Liberia, too.

I guess one really has to have a vested interest, a fully settled life, an apartment with all of one's worldly belongings, and a business that provides you with your daily bread and butter to feel desperate because of this quarantine. Not only am I emotionally attached to my life, friends, and staff but I really do not want my staff to feel like they are working for someone who abandoned them. I am also worried about business in general.

I also had one of my rants inside my head when it was pointed out that people in the West are also frightened of ebola. It reminded me of the concept of Fortress Europe and Fortress America: it is the idea that the West is able to close its borders to immigrants seeking better economic opportunities and/or seeking political asylum. It is the idea that the West is able to keep itself safe from the chaos of the Third World. And, to keep itself safe, it will even invade other countries preemptively in order to stamp out future threats. Needless to say, it is quite ironic that the West can do that given its colonial history. Europeans did not need a tourist visa when venturing into, exploring and colonising Africa, the Americas or Asia.

This cartoon below was printed in the New York Times and it is trying to say that ebola is not an African disease and should not be treated as such. It made me think: are diseases racial? The small pox was introduced to the Americas by Europeans and, in addition to massacres, pillage and stealing of lands, also played a part in decimating local populations and civilisations. 

And while the three poor countries struggling to contain ebola - Liberia seemingly the most hard hit - depend so much on international support and goodwill, history still does not favour Africa. It is not only BA or Air France which have shut its doors but Kenya Airways, Air Côte d'Ivoire, and Gambia Bird have also suspended flights. Read this article: "As Africans, we should hang our heads in shame and hope that Guineans, Liberians and Sierra Leoneans have Goldfish-like memories."



But anyway, we came up with a few memes. See here:


Designed by Ilyas Qureshi
Designed by
Ilyas Qureshi
 The inspiration for the text comes from this article: "Ebola: Can we learn from SARS?"
Designed by Bai Wakokai

The campaign really hasn't kicked off yet: the group still has to decide on a main slogan, decide on a hashtag, a main poster and to figure out how to get the attention of the groups who can actually convince airlines to start flying. Needless to say, the action of airlines is political and some of it driven by fears of flight crew themselves:
 "My understanding is that BA cancelled flights as the staff refused to carry out their jobs on those journeys. Same happened with Air France. after an internal petition, they suspended its flights to Sierra Leone yesterday. "

For KQ, this is the perspective we got from Kenya:
"I have been following this discussion keenly and while other have talked about BA and other air companies from the west - let me weigh in on how I think messages designed for Kenya/ns should be crafted. From the onset KQ was reluctant to suspend flights even though it’s cabin crew were very very scared to fly into Liberia and Sierra Leone and after a barrage of attacks from frozen stiff kenyans and declarations/calls/orders from the National assembly that KQ suspends flights - ministry of health caved in made and the decision not to allow citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea hailing from these countries not to be admitted in Kenya. KQ was seemingly left high and dry and so it had to stop it’s flights. The popular phrase in the mouths of Kenyans that took to the media (both traditional and social) was “prevention is better than cure” and that it was “reckless” to continue flying into Ebola affected nations. Kenya itself has been going through some challenges with insecurity with the rag tag somali group Al Shabab that have made western nations issue travel advisories against Kenya and something that Kenya has violently attacked at every opportunity to do so. The president has chastised the west at every opportunity given to him for issuing these travel advisories by claiming that “Kenya Feels Abandoned in the  War on Terror” and even went ahead to  quote Richard Branson in saying  “...we should actually face up to the enemy, invest more, be more in Kenya” and in light of GOKs action to ban flights - this is hypocritical to say the least! From where I stand any message that is fashioned towards GOK via the ministry of health and consequently KQ should should remind them of that!  It should ask them how they would feel if the west used the statement “prevention is better than cure” when advising it’s citizens to take precautions and stay away from Kenya? it should ask them how they would feel if a trip to kenya was classified as being “reckless”. The message should also use their own words to remind them that West Africa feel “Abandoned in the war on Ebola” and just as travel advisories make Al Shabab victorious - banning flights same exact thing with Ebola. It should remind them at banning flights additionally has the unintended result of Kenya looking like a fair-weather friend, keen to do business in West Africa when it is smooth sailing, and abandoning the region when the going gets tough. Reminding them that these tough times will pass but West Africa will not forget the ill-treatment it received so far but there is still room to mend this strained relationship."
 I shared the memes above on Facebook and also sent messages to contacts to share it. There was very little reaction to it. I don't know if the graphic design or the text or both are not hard hitting enough. Maybe it is not catchy or clever. It certainly made me appreciate successful social media campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the #Bringbackourgirls.  

What makes certain social media campaigns so successful? How do they create simple but easy to understand messages and, then how do they go viral?

Bot
h the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and  #Bringbackourgirls have borne criticism. For every Ice Bucket Challenge video where either celebrities or 'normal' people are performing the challenge, there is an extremely clever and sarcastic meme talking about for instance women all over the world sometimes have to walk a kilometer to get water. There was even a response from Gaza where they started a rubble bucket challenge to highlight the devastation of the conflict. 

What else have I learned through this project? That people are extremely selective about causes. Most Muslims can't get enough of sympathising with the plight of Palestinians but how much empathy do they have with suffering in the rest of the world?

I hope the campaign takes off and, not only shames everyone but also brings to attention the crisis in general.  

Monday, 1 September 2014

Ebola Rage

I am sick and tired of hearing and reading that Liberia has a weak healthcare system without trying to analyse the context. Neither the government nor the international community made healthcare a priority. It did not spend enough money to strengthen it. Instead the international aid has been gobbled up salaries and programmes/projects designed by technocrats that use the latest fashionable buzzwords.

I have been away from Liberia since March in Pakistan on a long holiday. My trip got extended a couple of times: at first I thought I would get the India visa (which I did not) and then had to get gall bladder surgery. Haresh came to Pakistan to spend Eid here and then we were meant to go back together.

Haresh and I parted ways in Dubai after a week-long holiday and family visit. He proceeded to Liberia and arrived in Monrovia on the 17th of August. I was back in Islamabad by the 21st of August. 

We had been in turmoil for the preceding couple of weeks, wondering whether we should go back together as a family or for me to stay away. Haresh was visiting Islamabad and right about that time, ebola struck Monrovia and a state of emergency was declared. Haresh and I extended our return dates a couple of times so we could think things through. Finally, his visa was about to expire and we decided to go to Dubai for a few days together. We changed our minds nearly every day about whether I should come along with Kavita or not.

In the end, I only packed for Dubai but little did I realise how painful it would be to bid farewell to Haresh in Dubai and then travel back to Islamabad alone with Kavita. Uncertainty loomed over my head. Haresh and I agreed that he would see how things were and then, confirm whether or not I should come back. We wanted to make up our own minds instead of being bombarded with everyone's else sense of panic. 

Things got tricky even before he got to Monrovia. Gambia Bird, the airline he was booked to travel back with from Accra to Monrovia, had cancelled its flights to Monrovia. He had to buy a $ 500 single way ticket to Monrovia with Delta which was apparently going to stop operating in a week (which it was apparently going to do anyway before the ebola crisis due to lack of business).  Liberia was being isolated. Pretty soon, it was clear that hardly anyone was flying to Liberia anymore. 

I felt awful and wished I had just gone ahead and traveled with Haresh. We would be safe if we practiced caution and common sense.

As Haresh settled in, I gathered from the news and him that expats and well to do folks really are not in any kind of danger. They are secure in their homes, they are able to practice hygiene and will follow all the precautions that they need to to be safe from ebola. But the vast majority of Monrovians live in densely-crowded communities in and around the city without access to plumbing or electricity. But what is really working against them is their overall mistrust of the government and lack of information about what is going on. 

Things deteriorated mostly because of the government's sheer incompetence.

Ever since I have been back to Islamabad, a sense of inertia has settled in me. I have hardly left the house. Even the idea of visiting one of the several beautiful parks or going to one of my favourite restaurants doesn't interest me.

I feel anger everyday thinking about the suffering of ordinary Liberians from one of the most deadly diseases known to woman and man. Liberia is a country where you can't even hope to get accurate, reliable and easy access to medical care. If you feel funny, a hospital or a clinic will tell you have malaria or typhoid or a combination of the two. They'll give you some medicines or put you on drip. The drip is a common medical practice in Liberia. They put you on drip for everything. Need a dentist? There are, to borrow an Americanism, like 3 of them in Monrovia. If have a really serious ailment or you need surgery, go to a neighbouring country like Ivory Coast or Ghana to get some medical attention. If you're pregnant and can afford to have the baby anywhere else, that would be very wise.

I
have experienced losing Liberian friends and staff because there is no decent hospital in Liberia. My long-serving housekeeper Joseph Dennis was taken ill and rushed to the JFK Hospital where he died. His death certificate says "Stroke or blood pressure." Monrovians cynically refer to John F Kennedy Hospital as Just for Killing. A young woman I knew through my late boyfriend had her leg amputated unnecessarily by the hospital in Firestone Plantation and continued to suffer unbearable pains and shriveled down to a bag of bones. Haresh and I tried to help Naomi through our company and sent her to India for diagnosis and treatment: it turned out she had jaundice, cancer and TB. She received a first round of treatment but needed to go back to India for further treatment - but only to extend some years of her life since the tumour in her body was too big now to remove surgically without killing her. We simply could not raise more funds to send her abroad again. She tried herself to get public figures to help her but of course nothing happened. She passed away, in the hospital, since she was sick all over again. It made me extremely angry and I felt helpless. 

Most of my rage is directed towards an international system which stepped in to conduct peacekeeping/peacemaking experiments in a country suffering from civil war. This system brokered a peace agreement where warlords get to enjoy the spoils of peace. It poured billions of dollars into the operations of a United Nations peacekeeping mission that has been present in Liberia since 2003. It poured millions of dollars into programmes in the first flush of a seemingly successful end of civil war like the Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilittion and Reintegration (DDRR) Programme starting in 2004 and continued years afterwards in other projects that were meant to reintegrate former combatants and build on the peace. The international community helped to hold elections and, welcomed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf into power who for the international crowd represented the most perfect candidate to lead the country and also to do business with. Without even looking for any evidence of her achievements they got so over excited, they crowned her with a Nobel Peace Prize literally in the middle of the 2012 elections which re-elected her to power. 

Why am I so angry? I am angry because this system pretended to create a new, peaceful Liberia on the road to recovery and social justice but where it was business as usual. The average Liberian is still disenfranchised in every manner possible. There is money in the country for everything but what would make Liberians' lives better. It is a shame that after billions of dollars were poured into the country and handsome salaries are paid every month for Senators, Government Ministers, senior UN staff, and Country Directors of NGOs there is not a decent hospital in the country. It is a shame and injustice that there is no sense of guilt in the people who travel in the most expensive 4 x 4 jeeps and land cruisers on the streets of Monovia but there are hardly any diagnostic medical equipments in the entire country!  

I am sick and tired of hearing and reading that Liberia has a weak healthcare system without trying to analyse the context. But why is that so? Because neither the government nor the international community made healthcare a priority. It did not spend enough money to strengthen it. Instead the international aid has been gobbled up salaries and programmes/projects designed by technocrats and use the latest fashionable buzzwords.

Healthcare and education should have been among the top priorities for Liberia. That is social justice. Investments should have been met as soon as the so-called peace was ushered in. What kind of Liberia are we building if the people cannot hope to get a decent education or hope to save their lives from treatable illnesses in this day and age? Today we have university graduates who cannot spell and, a country where besides from ebola, people are dying from other illnesses because the healthcare system simply can't cope with the epidemic.

We who live and work in Liberia miss modern conveniences such as cinema houses, Starbucks coffeeshops and supermarkets selling 50 types of cereals. But we get over it.  What we do hope is that we never get sick. Not worse than a cold because there is simply no clinic or hospital we really want to get treated at. We also hope we never get seriously injured. None of us want to end up at Just for Killing. 

Of course if you're with the UN, you'll get flown to Accra on a UN flightt. A friend at an international NGO was flown back home to Europe because of a stomach bug. 

We live in separate worlds: a bubble of privilege versus daily struggle for survival. Us well to do folks and the average Liberian. We have to adjust ourselves to dire poverty and figure out how you relate to it and what it means on the cosmic scale of things. Some of us are working in the development industry. Some of us are in the private sector. 

Actually, you can't really relate to poverty because hardly any of us were ever that poor. We are aware of it, we live right next to it, and we probably feel very guilty for having been - comparatively -  born into the lap of luxury while the average person on the street literally has to hustle every day to make ends meet. We try to, in our own ways, make a difference.

Now, we have to also think about how ordinary Liberians are dying from ebola and how we are so lucky and fortunate that we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from it. 

I don't claim to be a hero or a saintly figure. Hardly. But I do feel an enormous sense of guilt that I can keep myself safe, healthy and pretty entertained while my staff, neighbours and friends are at risk and, are going through daily stress and uncertainty. A part of me wants to draw out my vacation and maybe even visit my best friend who currently lives in Malaysia. The other part wants to just head back, be by Haresh's side and demonstrate to my staff that I am back and going to be there until this thing passes and afterwards.

I have no idea when Liberia will be declared ebola free, especially since WHO projected that ebola will spread to a total of 20,000 people. Officialy, ebola has claimed 1,200 persons. We have a long way to go. How long can I stay away? 

What's making me making even more restless and anxious is that I can't get to Monrovia the way I usually do. My flight from Islamabad lands in Accra via Dubai. All flights from Accra to Monrovia have been suspended. I would have to fly up to Brussels and then to Monrovia. It'll cost me a couple thousand bucks more. 

Do I wait for things to appear to be marginally better before going back? What signs should I be looking for? Resumption of flights to Monrovia from Accra?  

The lifting of the quarantine of West Point is a good sign that the government is going to avoid taking actions which could result in chaos and insecurity.

According to all my friends, everyone is avoiding handshakes and direct contact. That means, we wouldn't let anyone touch Kavita. That could get frustrating and, what if we make a lapse and then start panicking? Haresh, as much as he wants us back, is saying what if Kavita gets sick? The clinics and hospitals in Monrovia can't cope but with the exception of one private clinic, I wouldn't trust any medical institution in Liberia anyway. 

Venting my rage has not made me any less angry nor helped me clear my mind. Maybe I should take a walk, lift my self-imposed week-long quarantine and go for a walk.