Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Utopia

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When I was about four and we lived in Durand Road (No 13), I one day dashed across, at that time, an utterly traffic-less street. I was hit by a car that was crawling along really slow. I fell and scratched my chin. The driver, a kindly faced gentleman, having seen me run out of our gate, gathered me up and brought me home.

My parents and everyone else were duly concerned about my well-being. But the greater concern was about the flustered driver. They sat him down, brought him a glass of water and told him children being what they are; it must have been my fault for not watching the road. Moreover, I seemed none the worse for wear and that he should put himself at ease. Tea was offered and had and then the gentleman was shown out of the house. That, if you ask me, was utopia.

There was no rage. No instant thrashing of the poor driver and no rush to burn his car to ashes. There was understanding and a fellow-feeling. There was recognition that a child was more likely to have erred. There was a spirit to accommodate and forgive. It was the year 1956.

That is the kind of world I would like to live in. In my utopia if something untoward occurs, people do not go mad. If they go wrong they have the courage (yes, it takes great courage to concede an error) to say they went wrong and apologise. And if they are aggrieved they possess that largesse of the spirit to forgive. In my utopia when you open a door for a total stranger, he or she insists you pass through first. And when you wait for them they say thank you. In my utopia you do not have to call back a young person you just opened the door for and ask them if no one ever taught them the word thank you.

Utopia for me would also be where a place where folks would be mindful of little, seemingly inconsequential, kindnesses. Such as parking their car so as never to block another parked vehicle or a public way. It would be a place of courtesy and kindness to strangers – not just to people one knows. This utopia would have many smiles and few scowls. It would be a place where courtesy and decency were a way of life and where such behaviour was not deemed a sign of weakness, and loutishness taken as courage. Here courage would be the ability to speak the truth even in the face of danger to oneself and to stand for the underdog.

Utopia would be devoid of ostentation and cheap displays of power and wealth. It would be where respect was for loftiness of the character and for intellect; not for the car one drove or the gaudy monstrosity one lived in. In my utopia even they who pretend to rule would respect the law of the land and where the upholders of the writ of the state would be impartial. It would be where the lure of lucre would not sway women and men from the path of whatever they believe in; where integrity of character and honesty would be the cherished ideals.

And last of all, utopia would essentially be where faith lived in the souls of humans; not on the tips of forked tongues. It would be where religion was each person’s personal and very private communion with their Maker; where it was not demeaned to one-upmanship. It would be where rituals of worship (particularly of the ruling elite) were not routinely debased by being photographed and filmed for the press.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM,

7 Comments:

At January 11, 2016 at 9:47 AM, Blogger AHMED BAJWA said...

Thank you sir. Though it's Utopia while being in Pakistan unfortunately. There are still some societies in the globe who match your Utopia. Canada is one of them. I love to read and follow your thought provoking columns. Hopefully the deaf ears would be able to listen some day. God Bless You.

 
At January 11, 2016 at 11:50 AM, Blogger Spade said...

Thank you for your thoughtful blog. I would point out that the Uthopia you describe would be found in some countries of the West , e.g. Sweden , or Denmark . The economic system suggested by the Koran , requires firstly to eradicate absolute poverty , that is a societal obligation and an necessary condition for a society to be called Islamic . The Koran also suggests that people be paid according to thier talents , this is essential since we wish the best amongst us to be in charge of our collective affairs , there is therefore disparity in incomes . Income however is a gift of God , and one is required to use it for his or his family's betterment . But not on consumption meant to display wealth and status. All income that is surplus from ones genuine needs is to be distributed . Best in an organized fashion . Invest in schools hospitals production centers to ensure that all are provided opportunity to learn and therefore there is to be convergence in expenditure . This system is on a voluntary basis . Some western countries alrèadý have this in place with the exception that it is not voluntary ,

 
At January 11, 2016 at 11:53 AM, Blogger Spade said...

Intense urbanization is stressful and is only sucessful if the urbanites follow a code based on mutual respect , like say the Japanese , who have managed to induct politeness in thier manners in response to living in congested overpopulated places .

 
At January 12, 2016 at 1:59 PM, Anonymous Mehr said...

I would like to call it Paradise Lost.....thank you for your heart touching write up Sir. Rgds, Mehr.

 
At January 27, 2016 at 10:18 PM, Blogger Memoona Ali said...

Sometimes it seems we are lost in a dark jungle that is deprived of kindness & patience. You have very aptly penned down the small kind deeds that can give us a chance to attain utopia.
Really touched by the serenity(yes this is what it invoked) of the write up.

 
At January 28, 2016 at 4:52 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Memoona, I was fortunate to have been born when I was. I saw a really great time. We were then human.

 
At March 7, 2016 at 10:39 AM, Blogger mohanramneek said...

Each and every word an echo of what any sane human being would feel.

 

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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days