Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

The writer works as a Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune, and has a focus on human rights, gender and peace-building. She blogs at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (twitter.com/FarahnazZahidi)

Are Pakistani women clinically obsessed with clothes?

Every evening after iftar they storm the streets in flocks, like contingent troops, with one and only one purpose alone – they want clothes, clothes and more clothes. The women of Pakistan, it seems, have found the reason as to why they were created – they were created to make, buy, sell, maintain, wear, show and love clothes. And this sad obsession is across the board. From lower middle income groups to the elite, they spend big chunks of their valuable time in bazaars and malls, and unanimously spend more than they afford. And Eid season sees this obsessive compulsive behaviour ...

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My love affair with Sindhri mangoes

Yesterday, I tasted my first mango of the season. It was like falling in love all over again. I was sitting on an elaborate dastarkhwan on a 10th floor apartment’s spacious balcony in inner Karachi. “Saroli is the most amazing mango, is it not?” asked the elderly host. I sheepishly begged to differ. I am a biased Sindhri lover. Every year, the sweltering May heat that becomes unbearable as June comes closer, is a blessing for Mango lovers. “Ramazan will be unbearably hot this year. But chalo, at least there will be mangoes in the fruit chaat.” This sentiment resonates inside so many of us. And of all varieties of this ...

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Do Pakistani women only look good for other people?

One random Monday, after my aerobics class, I went grocery shopping. Still in my sports gear, I greeted another woman there, someone I didn’t know. After an exchange of smiles and pleasantries, she scrutinised my attire, visible even under a chaadar. She asked me, “From where are you coming?” I replied, “From aerobics.” She further inquired, “But why?” But why? Seriously? I was this close to giving up on Pakistani women. I shared my sob story with another female who said, “That woman must be complimenting you because you are not fat, so why should you exercise?” A third woman heard the whole saga and said empathetically, “Maybe her husband likes her to ...

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Love in the time of Marquez

I woke up today and switched on my cell, a morning ritual. The first ping was a WhatsApp message from fellow journalist and dear friend Shai Venkatraman, “Marquez is dead!” It was followed by an emoticon denoting sadness. I sat up, partly due to disbelief. Illogical disbelief. Gabriel Garcia Marquez was 87-years-old. He was sick and frail. Reports of Alzheimer’s pointed in the direction that the beautiful mind that had given us works that pulled us through our years of solitude had exhausted its reservoir of memories. He had done his job. He had given enough to this world. It was his ...

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Are parents responsible for their children committing suicide?

“Hum maaon ko sub kuch chahiye… sub kuch.” (We mothers need everything… everything). That is how disturbing certain advertisements aired on TV today are. They show a cross-section of mothers whose sense of validation and joy is dependent on their children becoming over-achievers. Most of these advertisements are disguised with a ‘feel good’ message, the underlying message, however, is disturbing and sadly, a reflection of what our society’s parents are unwittingly morphing into – a race of achievement-hungry, hard-task masters who want their children to be their trophy to show off. The models posing as mothers stretch their necks upwards as a mark ...

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An open letter to the Sindh Chief Minister: Tharparkar needs you, Sir

Dear Sir, I wonder how you sleep at night, because I am, honestly, having a tough time sleeping peacefully these days. I have visited Tharparkar a few times. And every time I came back, it took me a long time to get the images of Tharparkar out of my system. You and your government, Sir, have visited one too many times. These people have voted for you and trusted you. I wonder how you get those images out of your system. I will not be unfair. So I have to say that visits to interior Sindh have told me enough to say ...

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Kankar: Was Kiran right or wrong in divorcing her husband?

The first slap is the worst – red, hot searing pain across the face. But what sears through is more than a slap. Something breaks inside. A feeling of helplessness, vulnerability and a shattered sense of self-worth takes over which is why, a woman’s first reflex reaction is always disbelief; shock. It is an instant realisation of the painful reality that she will never forget that moment. That she will never be able to unlearn this blow. Sanam Baloch depicted a battered woman’s experience beautifully in the recent Hum TV serial Kankar which ended on December 6, 2013. The serial, with its protagonist ‘Kiran’ ...

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Ashura’s message: Looking away, being indifferent is not an option

There are days when one just wants to give up and look the other way. Become indifferent. The inner argument is, “What difference can I make, realistically?” I recall feeling that way so many times. Like when I see “small” things like bribes being taken and given in front of me. That gnawing feeling, when people in your area steal water through suction pumps and you are the idiot who doesn’t do it because you think it’s wrong. Worse still, is the feeling you get if you stay quiet when you see a close relative scolding a small child, working ...

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Ladies, it is not ‘cool’ or ‘empowering’ to smoke

I still remember how my brothers would deftly hide their cigarettes when ammi or abba entered the room. Those were the best and worst of times – times of unawareness and lightheartedness, when I’d sit for hours in a smoke-filled room with my brothers – chatting and laughing over senseless things like one only can with siblings. All that while, I was inhaling 250 toxins and carcinogens, quite unsuspectingly. I didn’t know any better and neither did my siblings. We were secure in our belief that we, the girls, were not smoking actively. Fast-forward life. As a teenager, I started interning at a magazine and this is ...

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Is it fair to blame Imran Khan for the Peshawar Church Blast?

The church blast in Peshawer took away more than 80 innocent lives. People had gone there to pray, not knowing their funeral prayers would follow soon. As always, the shock had subsided the day after the blast, but there was sadness – a constant dull ache that refused to recede. A recurring realisation existed that so many had lost their lives just because they prayed differently. Nothing seemed to help. Tweeting and facebooking allowed people to vent and rave temporarily, but frankly, social media acts as temporary anaesthesia. It numbs the pain for a bit, but the pain and anger ...

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