January 12, 2006

Seven wonders to make you wonder

I remember when I was a little girl studying 4th grade social studies in Pakistan, and we got to learn about the Seven Wonders of the World. Even though The Hanging Gardens of Babylon no longer existed, imagining they did was still alluring to a 10 year old. I feel ever so inclined to nominate my own idea of the seven wonders of this world, but will do so further down on this post.

The seven wonders once chosen by Philon of Byzantium more than 2000 years ago were indeed fascinating architectural accomplishments however very Eurocentric or perhaps Mediterranean.
Among the seven wonders only one remains still today; The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. The other six; The Lighthouse at Alexandria, The Temple of Artemis, The Statue of Zeus, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon all remain in posterity only through our imagination.

Founder of The new 7 wonders Bernard Weber felt that it was high time to name seven new wonders of the world and after a process of nomination, 21 candidates were presented. Anyone can vote.

The Muslim world is finally represented in an area of positivism with candidates of the likes of Al Hambra in Spain, Haga Sophia in Turkey, The Taj Mahal in India and Timbuktu in Mali. Then there are of course other more ancient constructions nominated that lie in Muslim countries but were built in a pre-Islamic era such as Petra in Jordan and The Pyramids of Egypt.

A wonder that makes you wonder is the nomination of The Statue of Liberty. Whatever it once meant in America has eroded today. I say we move it to Cuba! Wouldn't G W B love that!

Anyway, I thought I'd present the seven wonders of my world:

1. The rickshaws in Pakistan: tiny, three wheeled yet carries up to a total of 4 grown ups, still maintains a high speed and manages to re-arrange your entire organ content, ending up with your heart literally in your throat, for a mere price of 15 rupees.

2. The taxi cars of Cairo: some have doors, some don't. Some have windows, some don't. And should they have windows, they don't have the device needed to wind it down. But they all come equipped with your own state of the art driver who manages to make even atheists call to God for help once in their life.

3. The donkeys of Petra: I lay my life in their hands and surprisingly I survived. Taking a ride on a donkey up a steep, narrow mountain is something of a death wish, but these donkeys knew exactly where to go without needing their master show them. Props to the donkeys! Which is more than I can say for Jordanian cab drivers...

4. PIA (Pakistan International Airlines): or Perhaps I'll Arrive... I once took a flight from Lahore to Islamabad that later was bound for London but after landing in Islamabad, picking up a few passangers, it went back to Lahore again. Why? They said they had to fill the tank...need I say more?

5. The Pakistani People: Whenever the son or daughter gets married and it's time to "move out", they always amazingly enough manage to find the only available apartment or house in that city at that time, directly placed in front of their own. Sometimes it's so close that you can actually look into each others living rooms and wave!

6. Microsoft Word: Can you believe that the word "Kaaba" (I also tried Kaba) doesn't exist in its "dictionary". The most famous and holy building for Muslims. Instead I got the suggestion of "Kaibab" and "Kabala". However when I try writing the Jewish words "Kibbutz" and "Bar Mitzvah", there is no problem whatsoever. I am happy for the Jews, don't get me wrong. It's great to be represented with words that are of significance to your faith or culture. Still, it sure makes you wonder. Microsoft... Get a grip.

As for the seventh wonder, I invite my readers to come up with suggestions... now be fair...

12 comments:

zee said...

You really have a sense of humour SS, it is so true about Pakistanis and living across the street, I nearly cried of laughter.
I will think of a seventh wonder and get back to you.

BuJ said...

hehehe very funny stuff.. and also nice to read... it flows beautifully..

how about this for the seventh wonder of the world:

The Dubaian Driver:

Pushes the queue if he's in the back
but once in front he's as slow as a rat
Honks when the lights turn green
but slows when he sees Christine

I wrote the top one myself (yeah the crappiness shows) but this one below (extracts shown) was written by Paddy Briggs:

"If the traffic lights are in his way,
He'll climb the kerb to get away.
And skirt the stop, and cross the sand,
The horn is always near his hand.
...
The Dubai driver wore no belt,
And nothing feared, and nothing felt.
Until the truck came straight at him,
Shattering more than his silly grin."

Enough said!

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

haha :) ya hari hareeshak inta! Slows when he sees Christine... Rabbana yahdeena :)

Fair enough, I accept the nomination. Nice bit of verse.

Umar said...

haha.. funny stuff :D

The Al Hambra sure represents Muslims, but the Hagia Sophia was actually a Byzantine church before it was converted to a Mosque. As for the Taj Mahal (maybe it's just me) but since it is in India, it brings to mind Hinduism & Indian culture more than Islam... even though it does have minarets and Quranic scriptures written on it.
Timbuktu - doesn't really strike a chord with me as relating to Muslims.

BuJ said...

By the way, I really hate microsoft and word especially (excel is ok).
I've heard it called microzeft in some places. I'm sure you do not need a translation :)

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Salam Umar! True that Haga Sophia was once a Byzantine church however upon its conversion, changes were made and therefor I would say it qualifies. :)

Timbuktu is very very much Muslim. Mali first of all is muslim, the place that is nominated is the old clay mosque, I believe it is the largest clay structure standing intact today. Built by muslims, therefor, very muslim indeed.

Taj Mahal since built by a muslim, will get that credit :) I mean Al Hambra is in Spain, but it doesn't feel any less part of the muslim world for that.

Prhaps I'm grasping at straws but so be it :) all buildings are examples of creativity, and even genius and if for once in this modern day world we muslims can be associated with that then alhamdolillah.

7mada said...

- Timbuktu hosts a collection of ancient Islamic manuscripts

- The Sankore University in Timbuktu, whose 50,000 Muslim scholars helped spread Islam across West Africa.

- Despite the recent years of fighting that pitted ethnic Songhrai against Tuaregs, Timbuktu still has an impressive population of philosophers and Islamic scholars who maintain the city is a symbol of peace.

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Welcome 7mada and thank you for your input. I'm sure many people didn't know that. :)

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