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)

In the Indian diplomat’s case, does anyone care about the nanny?

Paying a maid roughly 200 Indian Rupees (INR) an hour may seem overly generous in places like India and Pakistan where the job market is flooded with excess manpower. But can an Indian diplomat play by the same rules on American soil? Devyani Khobragade had relied on her diplomatic immunity to be able to import her own slice of cheap Indian labour to New York, but the US law intruded her haven nonetheless. She was arrested not only for paying the housekeeper less than half the minimum wage, but also for lying about it on her visa documents. There have been ...

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I am Pakistani, whether I speak Urdu or Punjabi

We are not a sitar with a single string, and our music takes more than one chord to make. We are a convergence of languages and cultures, all of which are simply too lustrous to be overshadowed by any single one. Yet Urdu is not considered a language; it is an apparatus used to measure patriotism. It is a test that is used to verify one’s allegiance to our green and white flag. Isn’t this an awkward status to have bestowed upon Urdu, considering hardly eight percent of Pakistanis speak it as their mother tongue? On the other hand, Punjabi happens to be the first language ...

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Five myths you probably believe about diabetes

The world prepares to paint itself blue in observation of the World Diabetes Day on November 14, 2013, which makes it a perfect time to discuss some of the bitter details of this condition. Simply put, diabetes mellitus is about your body’s inability to regulate blood sugar level. This could happen in two ways: either your pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, which is the hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar level (type I diabetes), or the body doesn’t respond as effectively to an otherwise normal level of insulin (type II diabetes). The following are a few common misconceptions about diabetes that ...

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Dear Indian patriots, my criticism of Pakistan isn’t for your benefit!

A signature feature of a liberal is his scathing, almost treacherous, criticism of his own country’s culture and political policies.  On the other hand, the mark of a nationalist is indiscriminately defending all that occurs on his side of the border, while flinging mud on those beyond. Hence, it isn’t difficult to understand why a Pakistani liberal and an Indian nationalist would naturally bond over a cup of coffee. Ever since I decided to ‘betray’ my homeland by consorting with the liberal folk, as some conservatives would put it, my list of Indian friends has been snowballing. I am not in any way insinuating ...

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Uniforms in university turn adults into mere children

There isn’t nearly enough harm being done by making our students think alike; we need them to look alike as well – to iron out every last lump, wrinkle and kink of individuality in them, leaving a monochrome sheet with every thread being exactly like the other. Uniforms in schools and colleges are a vestige of a past that valued military-style automaticity as the only true form of discipline. Some people may think that it is a good idea to have every future lawyer, playwright, cardiologist and sculptor dress up in a uniform and march into the assembly ground like ...

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Why don’t beggars quit being so gross?

The following is a graphic description of my traumatic ordeal last week, when I was forced to cruise through a bazaar full of beggars in my handsome new Corolla. I emerged from it with a greater understanding of their sordid ways, of which I shall gladly inform you. It was an ordinary afternoon that transformed into a grotesque nightmare. I made a fatal mistake of passing through Saddar which was teeming with excited Eid shoppers, and found myself stuck in a gridlock. That’s when it began. They came at me from every direction; tapping on my window with their yellow, misshapen ...

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Bulbulay: When a poor man’s distress is funny

The TV-show ‘Bulbulay’ enjoys a sizable fan-following in Pakistan, but I’ve never really been a part of that base. On watching its most recent episode, my face appears to have been restructured to bear a permanent grimace. The story went something like this (needless to say, you’ll find spoilers here!): A penniless man arrives at the family’s doorstep begging for food. He stays at the door for several hours, sobbing uncontrollably about his woeful condition. The fact that the show’s writers managed to squeeze jokes into the episode with such a background story, is a remarkable feat. But wait, it gets funnier! ...

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Turkish Protests: What I saw at Taksim square

I was a regular tourist, a museum buff, landing in Istanbul with little more than a working knowledge of Turkey’s political past and present. That was until the district I was staying in became engulfed in a battle between the people and the police. Even as a foreigner with no take in Turkey’s socio political course, the air at Taksim square awoke in me a sense of awe and wonder that no exhibit at the Topkapi palace could do.

Photo: Reuters

It all started with a small group of concerned citizens protesting the uprooting of trees at Gezi ...

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Five reasons why you should watch Game of Thrones

The Middle-earth had its day on screen; it is now the story of Westeros taking the world by a storm, with the launch of season three of Game of Thrones, HBO’s flagship series. Are you watching it yet? For the uninitiated, Game of Thrones (GOT) is among the most watched (and the most heavily pirated) TV shows in the world, based on the books of George RR Martin. If you aren’t following the show, here is a short explanation for what all the fuss is about: The storylines: Everybody loves a good story. Well, GOT has five or six brilliant stories running parallel to one another at the same time. There’s no protagonist. ...

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Transgenders are not running in the elections for your entertainment!

Is it possible, I wonder, to initiate a conversation about transgender persons running in the upcoming elections without provoking laughter and shaking one’s head in disapproval? What is it about transgender people that we seem to find so funny? Are they not humans? Do they not have rights? Bindiya Rana and Sanam Fakir, both members of the transgender community, have recently announced their decision to try for seats in the provincial assembly from separate regions. It’s deplorable that the media, for the most part, has been treating this news as a light-hearted, election sideshow — a ‘fun fact’, if you will — to ...

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