Surf Excels

The missus has mentioned you in a comment – that’s how I read my Facebook notification one morning.

There are several couples who show a lot of public affection for each other, constantly share content on each other’s timelines or tag each other very frequently; we’re not one of those couples.  Well, not yet anyway – we’ve been married over three years and it hasn’t happened yet.  We are very selective on what we tag each other in – anything that would be too much of a hassle to share on Whatsapp basically; so the scope is quite narrow!

Anyway, I click on the notification and I’m shown this:

Now, my wife had mentioned this ad to me a few days prior but she didn’t make a fuss about it so I didn’t bother looking it up.  I’m guessing it struck a chord or she liked it – no, I still didn’t discuss it with her afterwards.

However, it certainly struck a chord with many on social media and even people in India including celebrities.  Prominent websites from the region, and maybe the world, featured the ad and had words of praise for it.

Did I like it?  Sure.  Probably not for the same reasons as most people have liked it.

Did it touch that emotion nerve of mine?  Nah.

But, there are times when one just has to sit back and appreciation what has been done.  Here are 3 reasons why I appreciate the communication:

1. Detergent and Ramadan, Who’d Have Thought?

Surf Excel has communicated the idea that daag tou acche hote hain (dirt is good) repeatedly over the years.  Furthermore, those communications were mostly about a child doing a good deed – helping a friend, helping a senior citizen; and, getting their clothes dirty in the process but it was all good because if it’s done for a good deed and you have Surf Excel by your side then dirt is actually good.

So it all made sense and was very clever.

Now, Ramadan is usually associated with food; well, it’s meant to be about a lot more but from an advertising point of view we have usually just seen a splurge of adverts from food/beverage brands and why not?

Another aspect of Ramadan is people trying to be better people during the holy month.  The way the brand team and their creative partners have picked this aspect up and integrated it with their brand’s message is…well…I don’t want to say ‘brilliant’ but it’s certainly very very smartly done.

It directs your attention away from food, the hustle and bustle of iftaar (futoor or breakfast) time; and, brings your attention to why one shouldn’t be hesitant to do a good deed even if it means your clothes get dirty in the process.  Actually, one should especially shouldn’t be hesitant during Ramadan because that’s the month to really notch up some blessings via good deeds.

It all ties up really well.

2.  Eager Fever

Not sure if that even makes sense but couldn’t think of another word that rhymes with fever and would get my point across!

Muslims, generally, are emotional people when it comes to religion.  Pakistanis, generally, are emotional people.  Now, add the two together and you can imagine the state of mind our population is in during Ramadan.

Generally, the people are eager to be better persons during this month; whether they actually become better or not is a different matter.  Praying more, maybe read the Quran more, give more to the less privileged, and help more.  That eagerness is there.

So, in a way, the brand actually cashes on an aspiration factor – we aspire to do noble deeds, especially during this month.

3.  Simple, Relatable, Desirable

The execution is simple, the story is simple and relatable.  The scene that is painted is something many would be familiar with day-in-day-out during Ramadan.  There are samosa/jalebi stalls in every neighborhood; there’s a hustle and bustle environment during a certain time period before iftaar.

Sure, the neighborhood portrayed seems a tad unrealistic but then again I’ve only seen so much of the world.  Sure, new clothes (like the protagonist wears) are usually associated with Eid but I guess it wouldn’t be too unrealistic to see the same in Ramadan.  Definitely, though, we don’t want to get our clothes dirty especially if they’re new.  All very relatable.

So, what’s desirable?  We want to be that little kid.  We want to help someone out, and who better than an old man?  Again, especially during this month.  If we’re parents, we would love to see our kid commit an act of goodness like this.

Around six years ago, I think, I went for Umrah and an old man took the support of my shoulder to walk one length between Safa and Marwa; later I heard my dad narrating the tale to someone with a lot of pride – not the arrogance driven pride.  Again, religion stirs up another sort of emotion in us.

This sort of ties with cashing in on the eager fever that I mentioned earlier.

There you go, 3 reasons.

Living in Saudi has limited my viewership of Pakistani Ramadan communications this year so I don’t really have much to compare with nor can I really be bothered to look up other ads but thankfully I came across this because it has me writing again!

Anyway, this communication is also an example of how important good execution is; it’s been kept simple and relatively real.  Similar to what Shan did last year in terms of execution.

I will end this now as I have absolutely no train of thought; I had written 95% of this a week ago but got caught up with something else, so…yeah.  ‘Till next time!

Dil Se…

Before I begin (technically I’ve already begun), any of you who think this post, based on the title, will be me opening up about my feelings on some topic or another then I apologize because it’s not exactly that.

Rather, the title is “inspired” by the 1998 Bollywood movie of the same title.  In fact, a good portion of this post revolves around the film.  So, if you enjoy reading a bit of personal recollections then read on.  If you want views on wider implications of the film and/or Bollywood, you may want to skip the first few paras!  If you’re not interested in either, well, up to you if you want to stick around.

For any non-Pakistani/Indian reader(s), the relevant translations are at the end of the post.

The Birth of Bollywood in Me

I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia by a Pakistani father and an Indian mother.  Growing up, summer vacation was the only time we traveled, barring a few winter vacations when the summer wasn’t working out.  The majority of those trips were to India; very few to Pakistan and the times we did go to Pakistan, it would be for like a week after the month and a half or more spent in India.

The first music that hit my ears, as far as I can remember, was from Bollywood.  Not sure if it was Papa Kehte Hain which my dad would sing along to in order to encourage me, to achieve, from a young age or if it was Chandni.  It wasn’t too long before Ek Do Teen had me cursing myself for not knowing how to count in Urdu/Hindi past ten!

I believe the first movie that really captivated me was Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, I was alreadyvlcsnap-2016-05-22-23h31m03s209 into cricket by that age and was developing a competitive streak so you can imagine why such a movie had me enthralled.  From there, I just wanted to watch more.  I loved television and I was beginning to love movies.  Sure, the Disney films and film adaptations of cartoons also had their place for me; but, Bollywood was just something else.

Oh, and there was this Amitabh flick titled Toofan which inspired my friends and I to Continue reading →

IBA United Memories – Remembering AKU’08

A few months ago I began writing about my football journey, so to speak; that’s in chronological order and will continue to be so once I continue that!  However, a bit of nostalgia has overcome me and not the good kind!  I recently saw some updates of my Alma Mater’s team’s progress in an important tournament; the team progressed to the semifinal and it got me thinking back to when I had just become Captain and we debuted in that tournament.  So this is a recollection of that tournament and the time around that… Continue reading →

The Give-Give-Take Relationship

There’s a side of me which is slightly emotional.  A side which places a lot of value on relationships with certain people who do not fall under the partner/family category.

So, what?  We all do.

True as that may be, I like to believe that some of us treat those relationships a little differently.  How?

We give a bit more.  Or at least we like to believe we do.  How?

Ha ha, don’t get me started.  Please start.

Alright then, here goes:

We are a lot more attuned to those people’s emotions and needs which allows us to be there for them without needing much of a hint.  We are almost at their beck and call because we want them to be happy – their happiness is our happiness.  We will go out of our way at times to please them.

Of course, it’s not all about just pleasing them but they certainly are priority.  We do enjoy their company as well.  It’s not exactly a one-sided relationship where we just serve them, so to speak.

Why do you think you give these certain people so much importance?

Self-reflecting, not quite like this though!

Self-reflecting, not quite like this though!

Initially I had no clue why I did; but, as time wore on and as I did some soul searching…

Really?  Soul searching?

Okay fine, as I indulged in some self-reflection and self-disc…

Don’t say ‘discovery’…

Fine, self-reflection!  Anyway, I guess a lot of it has to do with approval and acceptance.  Feeling this need for approval and acceptance, it’s not a conscious feeling but I think that’s behind it.  Where does that feeling come from?  I don’t know.  Maybe the poor bond with my immediate family makes me seek bonds elsewhere?  But that’s me, I don’t know if that’s the case with others who are like me when it comes to giving more to certain people.

So, what’s the problem with all this?

Ah, to the crux of the whole matter!  The problem is reciprocation and perhaps, just perhaps, under-appreciation…


Let me explain.   We feel we give a lot more than receive.  Sure, we hold certain people in high regard from a relationship point of view but it sucks big time if they don’t feel the same way about you.

What we believe

What we believe

Okay, let’s say they feel the same way about you, then there’s definitely a gap between our actions and theirs.  We just seem to be doing a lot more for them and they just never seem to know what’s up with us as much.  Effort.  That’s the word!  More effort on our part.

In fact, it’s all about reciprocation.  I’m fine with silent appreciation even, I believe reciprocation can be a result of appreciation.  However, it can be a bit of a slap in the face when it seems like you value someone a lot more than they value you.  You feel really, really, REALLY stupid.

A bit excessive with the feelings there, no?

I did say this is the emotional side of me.  I know it sounds petty but this bothers people like us.  I guess we’re more about the small things?  Or at least I am.  A lot of small things which add up to the make the whole.

Have you ever wondered why there isn’t any reciprocation?

Yes, I have.  I haven’t found a definitive answer.  However, one theory relates to the whole strength of a family bond observation I made earlier; so, the people who let me down back in the day seemed to be close to their family i.e. parents/siblings so perhaps they don’t need to find strong bonds elsewhere?  A simple friendship will suffice?

The second theory is that they might be a bit more self-centered than we are; making them incapable of ever giving as much as we do.  They take as if it’s a given because they have a sense of high self-worth or self-importance.  They prioritize themselves, which is fine; and, that sort of doesn’t allow those tendencies to develop…the tendencies that people like us have.

The third theory is simply that perhaps you really don’t matter to them as much.  Wouldn’t that be a bummer to find out? reciprocated-quotes-4 Ha!  Seriously though, maybe you’re not the good friend they want.  That’s also possible.  It’s not a nice thing to know but you can’t blame someone for not feeling the same way as you.

People tend to believe that every effort deserves an appreciation, no matter how misguided that effort may be.

So, how did you deal with this?

Well, it hurts and is disappointing of course.  However, I learned that I must not hold any expectations.  It’s a difficult thing to do – not hold any expectations – but once you practice it, like REALLY practice it, your life becomes a lot easier.

I actually don’t hold any expectations from anyone anymore.

You stopped giving as well?

Well, no, not entirely.  I now give without any expectation of reciprocation or appreciation.  Do I give as much?  Probably not.

If I take any of the three theories I stated above, either way, I’m just not needed in those people’s lives in that capacity.  Can I hold them in that capacity?  Sure.  I still do.  However, my actions have toned down.  My expectations are pretty much zero now so I stopped feeling let down.  It’s actually quite liberating.

In fact, you learn to be a lot more self-sufficient.

Self-sufficient how?

You don’t rely on others’ approval/acceptance anymore.  You learn to give more time to yourself and you do find things to do that can keep you occupied and happy, as cliched as it may sound.

I’ve actually probably become more generous and giving since holding no expectations albeit with less frequency.  I think it becomes more about overall happiness and not just my own happiness or a friend’s happiness – so if I can help someone out in any way to make them happy then I try my best to do so.  That way I’m happy I’ve made someone happy rather than wondering if the person would ever make the same effort for me.

It’s a shift in mentality actually.

Having said all that, it doesn’t mean I’ve let go of people entirely; but I’ve let a distance grow between us to some extent and they don’t seem to be bothered by it – something I predicted when I did this – so it’s all good.

Moreover, it just might allow you to be a bit more social.  One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that there are so many people in this world.  Of course the population figures are there, but I guess I became a bit more open to socializing with different people and developing relationships with others, as basic as they may be.

So, you seem to have it figured out, why write all this?

Good question.  I know some people who seem to get frustrated by the unequal give-take in their relationships with certain people so I thought I’d put my philosophy out there.  Who knows, it might give them a useful perspective!

How noble of you [not], may I be excused now?

Yes, sure!

Who am I by the way?

A writing style I decided to experiment with today 😉

Images Sources:


Engro Foods: The Good, The Not So Bad, and The Ugly!

Engro Foods’ (EFL) rise over the last ten years has been admirable.  Their knack for continuously bringing something different to the market – even if the categories aren’t new – is laudable.

This post will look at their product innovations of sort from the 4Ps perspective.  No, I will not be simply stating Engro Foods first launched this, then this, you can find their goods at these stores blah blah. Not here to relay common knowledge!

Rather, as the title suggests, it’ll be some opinions on what has been the good, the not so bad, and the ugly of their efforts from a 4Ps perspective.  Don’t worry, the 4Ps don’t fall under each head so hopefully this won’t be too long except for when I go in my rant-like mode when discussing the ‘ugly’!  If you’re only looking for critique then you can skip the good part 😉

The Good

Product, product, product!  And price, and place 😉

Okay, so EFL hasn’t brought anything new to the table when it comes to milk or cream or tea whitening.   Continue reading →

The Friend Zone: A Self Made ‘Trap’

Before I begin, I’d like to thank Soban Zafar (@thearsenalox) for the title of this post.  I informed him I’ll be writing about the friend zone and he replied saying 

Hayyeee friendzone

The ultimate trap


To which I replied that the friend zone is a self made trap.  Now you know the origins of the title – wahay!


I came across a discussion/debate on my time line a few days ago regarding the ‘friend zone’.  I offered my two cents but the-friend-zone_889thought I could offer more, so here I am!

The ‘friend zone’ – a term that makes the nice guys whimper at their rotten luck, girls frown upon potentially losing – if not lost already – a good friend, and the friends of those men/women shake their head at either the blindness of the chased or the irrationality of the chaser.

Can’t you see he loves you so much?  He would do anything to make you happy?  You’re being unbelievably stupid!

Dude she just doesn’t like you back, MOVE onnnnnn!

This post will look at why us men fall into the ‘friend zone’ – no, it’s not merely because a girl says ‘I see you as a friend’.  This post will primarily look at

  • Why we’re seen as only a friend [hint: it’s not because nice guys finish last]
  • Why we are unable to accept that we’re seen as a friend

I’m no expert, this will be purely opinion based on personal experience, hours of listening to and observing female friends about their relationship issues; and, being in a long-term relationship really places perspective on the whole idea of the ‘friend zone’.

Without further ado, let’s begin! Continue reading →


Today, I will bare my teenage soul to tell a short story about how I became loyal to a certain brand.

My hormones started kicking in at the age of 12; incidentally, the same year as receiving sex education but the hormones definitely kicked in a few months before we reached that part of the textbook.  I had my first crush that year.  She went on to play a little joke on me by pretending to like me.  The little confidence  I had, was shattered.

Not really, it wasn’t shattered, but I always had little confidence.  I wasn’t good looking, not at 12 especially!  I couldn’t get myself to talk to the girls I fancied – by girls I mean different girls over the years, never more than one girl at one time!  Though I never asked any of them out, I had confessed feelings and asked some to the prom or school dance.  None of those ever worked out either.

Continue reading →

Bloggers, Bloggers, Everywhere! – Unedited

The final published piece of the draft below was posted here.  However, I felt that the post wouldn’t get the points across as my original.  So here’s the original 🙂

Earlier this year, a certain tweet* caught my eye, before I realized these tweets were fast becoming a trend:


Tweet generated at


Oh, fellow bloggers!  I thought.

Enthusiastically I clicked through the profiles to see what these people blog about.  The blogs consisted mostly of write-ups of brands’ BTL activities.  Somewhere in between 12 posts would be a piece of writing that did not seem like a brand’s push tactic.

Ah, the disappointment! 

Since that tweet, I have been fascinated by brands’ willingness to jump on this bandwagon, especially after observing the following: Continue reading →