Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

Islamabad’s food is terrible, and posh restaurants cannot fix that

The people of Islamabad are deprived of good food, and as a Rawalpindi-based critic, I promise not to take too much pleasure in this declaration. We are all aware of our guests from Lahore, our undisputed food capital, being notoriously hard to impress with nearly any kind of food found in Islamabad. Islamabad is a young city, and has not had time to evolve its own unique cuisine and celebrated eateries as many other cities like Karachi, Multan, and Rawalpindi have done in the last 100 years or more. Islamabad, true to its modern self, has wholeheartedly adopted the global trend of ‘culinary gimmickry’. We are impressed by burgers ...

Read Full Post

Hong Du Noodles: Is this what good food is supposed to look and taste like?

Here’s what might happen when you walk into Islamabad’s curious new food joint on Hilal Road, F-11. You’ll find a grand total of two tables bathed in yellow light, in a space enclosed within quirky green, neo-oriental wallpaper. Both of these tables are occupied by Chinese patrons. One of the parties may immediately vacate their seats on seeing you, and offer you their table. You realise that these are the owners and operators of this proud family business. Seated at the table, which is neither lavish nor comfortable, you may ask to see a menu. There is no menu. The Chinese owner/chef/waiter, in a faded green ...

Read Full Post

Dear Pakistani universities, you cannot disrespect your students by infantilising them

We, the educated citizens of Pakistan, are concerned about the administrators of various universities and their obsession with the private social lives of their students, especially with regard to their inter-gender interactions. We are hereby compelled to issue the following notice, to address this disturbing phenomenon. To all university deans, chancellors, proctors, wardens, and administration officials, We thank you for upholding our long-valued tradition of lovingly blurring the line between an educator and a parent. In the light of the socio-political advances made over the past few decades, this paternalistic tradition has not only been rendered moot, but has become outright obnoxious. Parts of your campuses ...

Read Full Post

Benazir Bhutto International Airport: A nightmare that doesn’t end

Alas, it was only a matter of time before the “Worst Airport in the World-2014” would crawl back into news headlines by having female passengers assaulted on its premises. Are we dismayed? Yes. Surprised? Not at all. A hair-raising video has gone viral recently showing a woman passenger – a Norwegian national – being beaten up by a female Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) official at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad. The video begins with what appears to be the person behind the camera arguing with the security personnel on why they aren’t helping a woman being beaten behind a screen. As screams continue in the background, a male ...

Read Full Post

The strange myth of America’s ‘humanitarian’ wars

In March 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a forgetful 71-page report, calling out Israel’s indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated civilian areas in Gaza. No rhetoric of bringing the oppressor to justice was heard within the American halls of power, and no tomahawk missiles were launched the following week. The perversity of President Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes speaks for itself. It’s fair to assume that if Assad’s regime had been backed by powerful western interests, the latest unwatchable video of Syrian children suffering from the effects of chemical warfare would have invited the same response as Israel’s hawkish policies consistently do – Assad ...

Read Full Post

Why marriage is not for everyone

There are more routes to happiness than those identified by the social majority. It is time we acknowledge that not all of these routes transit through the terminal of marriage. Any discussion on whether a certain custom is right for you, must begin with an honest recognition of your primary goal. The goal is your happiness and prosperity, and nothing that any parent, uncle, aunty, friend has to say about it has any agency over your own awareness of what brings you contentment. Their counsel may be wise and worthy, but they have the disadvantage of not knowing you the way you might ...

Read Full Post

“People are dying” because of the bad healthcare system, not the YDA protests

You may put your mind at ease, because I will be singing no undue odes to the greatness of the ‘noble profession’ and all those who are a part of it. But there are more than a few reasons to empathise with the protesting doctors, a few of which I feel compelled to state. A recent blog on this site passionately listed the reasons for the author having no sympathy for the Young Doctors Association (YDA) doctors and their recent activities in Lahore. As a person who is closely linked with the medical community, I find it necessary to revisit some ...

Read Full Post

In Pakistan, mental illness is diagnosed by a legal expert not a doctor

Every psych unit in the world teems with patients who confess a desire to do the morally unthinkable, or legally dubious. What separates them from the garden-variety criminal is their lack of control over their own thoughts and behaviours. Imdad Ali, a 50-year-old citizen convicted of murdering a cleric many years ago, is a known schizophrenic. His condition has been verified by a government psychiatrist, Dr Tahir Feroze, among others – who, reportedly, has also demanded pardon for Mr Ali on medical grounds. Schizophrenia is a condition characterised by hallucinations, illogical thoughts, and bizarre or even aggressive behaviour. The sub-type of ‘paranoid ...

Read Full Post

Would you accept blood from a gay donor?

More than a month has passed since the Orlando shooting revealed an exploitable defect in American gun laws. What it also exposed, was a structural bias against a peaceful community that has existed for a long time. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen – later identified as a young Muslim who was troubled by his own homosexual orientation – opened fire inside a nightclub, killing 49 innocent people. In the wake of this devastating attack, we’ve heard survivor accounts that challenge what we’ve been indoctrinated to believe regarding the alleged inhumanity of gay individuals. We’ve learned of ‘deviants’ who threw their bodies in ...

Read Full Post

Dear Facebook, stop censoring Kashmir

As a Pakistani writer of Kashmiri descent, it may not be entirely possible for me to speak without prejudice; but what’s one humble blogger’s bias against an iron curtain drawn over Kashmir by powers barely within my comprehension? If you’re outside Pakistan, and not politically motivated to draw your attention towards the gruesome events unfolding in Indian-administered Kashmir, it’s likely that you’re unaware of the gravity of this matter. And you’re not entirely to blame for your ignorance. You could be a hearing-impaired, computer-illiterate villager in Irkutsk, Russia, and you haven’t managed to keep yourself from finding out about a deadly rampage ...

Read Full Post