By the end of this year, I would have spent more time abroad than at home in Pakistan. I never planned it this way, but life can unfold unexpectedly. It is difficult to know in January what the garden is going to look like in May. While swimming in the water called time, I remember the day when I realised that I might not return home as planned – I had cried. This visit was planned before the recent dog-fights with Hindustan. The airspace had partially opened on the day of my departure, and somebody was kind enough to get me landed at Islamabad. A car was waiting outside the airport to whisk me to my scheduled appointments in Lahore. I did have a break on the way in Kallar Kahar – had a steaming cup of milky tea with vegetable pasty (called ‘Pattie’ in Pakistan) and a slice of burfi. The air was chaste, and smelled of mother-earth due to the drizzle which had accompanied us from Islamabad. Lahore was buzzing with “deal or no-deal” rumours about the Sharifs and how dysfunctional Buzdar government was. Orya Sahib was pleased to see me, “another soldier for Ghazwa-e-Hind has arrived”. He is always great fun – seems to have information no one else does. The problem lies, however, with the conclusions he draws from that information. Our PM recently asked for, and Orya gave him one piece of advice – “reduce your daily exercise by an hour for the benefit of this nation”. He was more worried about the “real PM” though who got out of his chair to pick up a tissue Orya dropped during lunch, and presented to him with both hands. Zia-ul-Haq was notorious for such antics. Prominent civil servants remain sidelined or are licking their wounds. Mr Buzdar (read Shahbaz Gill) is stressed because this is hurting the government, and could result in his sacking. The government had an own goal when the PM told off CM Buzdar for attempting to increase pay and perks for the members of parliament and himself. This also put Dr Gill’s credibility on the line. We could not meet because of the relevant fallout but Dr Gill could also go down with this ship. This would please people who are dog-tired of his cocky nature, but the downfall of a fellow technocrat would make me uncomfortable (and also because his wife is the niece of a close friend). Fayyaz-ul-Hasan Chauhan’s sacking has been globally welcomed. I really feel sorry for him now (as he in hiding) as well as his parent-party Jamat-e-Islami. The latter seems to get nothing right including, dare I say, the re-appointment of Siraj-ul-Haq as Amir I reached home (Lyallpur) on the second leg of my visit. Some places, where I hang out, remain the same – Circuit House, Serena, Chenab club; others like the Medical College, Public School, and Golf Club were as welcoming. Some have lost their taste (Jahangir MurghPilao, Ludhiana Sweets, Khayyam Restaurant) and culture though. Since Lyallpur has become Faisalabad, it always shows its colours. A celebrity kindly came to see me from Lahore. We were coming out of Serena when a group of people approached and insisted on a Selfie. During the endeavour, one of them was debauched enough to say that he did not like being photographed but was only doing it as a favour to her. I felt embarrassed. I missed Brig. Ejaz Shah in his hometown, Nankana Sahab. He is still missing his next posting because the word got out too early. Two main players are OK with it but all is not well where the gremlins live. I was pleased to know from him that he got the Gurunanak University approved by the government. I wish him well because this government is still struggling to get the basics right. Our PM needs wiser-heads around him, and there is no substitute to appointing people on merit, even if they have served Sharifs or Zardari. ‘Khans only’ approach is great for loyalty and in a fight, but savoir-faire and gamesmanship are not their inherent virtues. Fayyaz-ul-Hasan Chauhan’s sacking has been globally welcomed. I really feel sorry for him now (as he in hiding) as well as his parent-party Jamat-e-Islami. The latter seems to get nothing right including, dare I say, the re-appointment of Siraj-ul-Haq as Amir. They need serious in-house reforms to become relevant again (They are free to dust off a paper I gave to Qazi Hussain Ahmed). In Jamat-e-Islami style, Mr Chauhan meddled in everything he should not have, including sacking the Board of my baby, Lyallpur Museum. His new Board is full of PTI faithfuls who do not know what to do with it. God then moved in mysterious ways. Movers and shakers in Islamabad are alive and kicking. They tell tales and offer crystal-ball insights coloured with their own biases. A couple of non-civilian friends have been promoted beyond their station, and this seems to have gone to their heads. The spiritual halo from Banigala is invisible but spreading its influence through material and cryptic means. No cause for despair though while we have mavericks like Qureshi, Umar, Saqib, H. Athar, and Dr T fighting their corners, and others waiting in the queue. My final communique is: the economy is going to get better and this government is not going anywhere. The writer is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor. Published in Daily Times, March 25th 2019.