Stories published in October, 2012

The hurricane diaries

RANIA NASIR NEW YORK: As Sandy passes through New York, everyone is trying to prep the best they can for her visit. Grocery stores have long lines, where soup, bread and water aisles are empty. A bunch of Facebook posts and memes have emerged pointing out how prepping for the storm in New York meant stocking up on wine and cheese rather than flashlights and water. Hurricane parties have started cropping up everywhere. I am just relieved to have this break after the midterms. What’s impressive and quite different from Pakistan is how fast information flows here. Students are getting separate emails from the ...

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LUMS’ lesser employees

There’s been a hue and cry over the esteemed Professor Hoodbhoy’s controversial departure from LUMS university, and justifiably so, if his claims are proven true. However, even further into the seedy underbelly of the university administration’s dictatorial tactics, is a story that incites far more moral outrage. Two days before Eidul Azha, 16 janitors, many who have been working at the university for years through a contracted janitorial company, were fired without notice. The reason? Well, it’s a long story. After the janitors, with the help of students, demanded that their salaries be raised from (the illegal) Rs7,000 to (the minimum wage) Rs9,000, ...

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Doctor Who – The madman with a big blue box: Can’t wait!

“I hate endings,” proclaimed the Doctor as he sat reading a book out loud to his companions Rory and Amy Pond, in a picturesque view of Central Park, New York; the city of a million stories. Sadly, that was what we got in the final adventure for the Ponds in The Angels Take Manhattan. But before we tumble down further into the wormhole world of “Doctor Who”, let me give you a little gist of the show itself.  BBC’s “Doctor Who” is the longest running science fiction television show in the world, which originally ran from 1963 until 1989, churned out a ...

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Growing change in your backyard

Not too long ago, a select group of people got together to talk about urban innovation in Islamabad. But they weren’t all talk. These like-minded individuals, driven by a common goal to give back to the system, brought something new to the table. We’re talking TedxCity 2.0, independent talks designed to share ideas worth spreading on the cities we inhabit. In a nutshell, they were a reminder of our collective social responsibility and the realisation that it can manifest itself in various forms; that it does not require any amount of overthinking to give away leftover food to the underprivileged and ...

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Game on: When Shoaib Akhtar made us proud

The third day’s play between Pakistan and Australia was in progress in Colombo on October 5, 2002. It was the first Test match of the series where Pakistan was forced to play an almost second string side due to the unavailability of  players like Saeed Anwar, Inzamamul Haq, Muhammad Yousuf and Wasim Akram. The weather was extremely hot and humid, as is usually associated with the Sri Lankan climate. Australia performed according to all expectations and dominated the match, scoring 467 in the first innings and bowling out Pakistan’s inexperienced batting line-up at 279 on the third day’s play, gaining a lead of ...

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Only in Pakistan: In love with life at a refugee camp!

The floods that strike parts of Pakistan every other year displace many communities, economically handicap several others and leave a burning wound in the shape of puddles, dead livestock and broken up pieces of what used to be roofs, doors or a mirror. The people that decide to move away become refugees in some other part of the country. The mere mention of the word ‘refugee’ immediately suggests helplessness, strife and UN sponsored tents. Disaster changes their lives for the worse, and most refugees become reliant on the government and the aid of certain NGOs in a struggle to begin their ...

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My name is Khan, and I’m not a terrorist

Dr Shahid Masood, I read your tweet and I couldn’t resist, hence the title. Right. Has anyone ever had the pleasure of being stared at in an airport by nervous bystanders after 9/11? Not a desirable experience by any measure. Ever had the privilege of being frisked at security check for twice as long as the person before you? Awkward. Anyone ever been the not so random one picked at random for a passport check? Yep. Anyone been taken off a plane? No? You obviously don’t have enough opinions to qualify. But guess who does? The who, what, where, why and when’s will become more apparent ...

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Can the jirga and women co-exist?

A loud screech from the speakers drowned out the last word of the lecture ─ the word which happened to be ‘peace’. Nervously, the girls leaned forward to make sure they missed nothing else. They were to write an essay. Their teacher, her voice thick with distaste, pronounced the words, “…the existing judicial system and its failings, and how the jirga can help…” But the rest was lost again as a throat was cleared explosively, and the azaan burst onto the airwaves. Shifa rubbed hard at her eyes. Damned if she did and damned if she didn’t, this was the gist of her thoughts ─ ...

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If I euthanise my mother, will I be forgiven?

She can’t speak, she has no concept of reality and she is not living anymore. This woman who just exists now is my mother. Nine years ago, after a terrible car accident, my mother went into a coma, leaving three children at the mercy of a heartless world. I was only 15-years-old when this happened and my younger sister, Aiza, was just five. Aiza couldn’t even comprehend where her mother had gone. It was earth-shattering to see a once vibrant and lucid mother’s sad transformation. My father devoted all his time and efforts to fill the gap my mother’s sudden loss had left ...

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No, nuclear power isn’t the answer to all our problems!

Nuclear based electricity production has always been touted as a technology viable for the future. Proponents of nuclear power see the technology as an important contributor to energy independence, supplying electricity at cheap rates without significantly harming the environment. However, a more substantive analysis of its economic feasibility, hidden costs and environmental impact indicates that nuclear power is far from an optimal electricity production technology than it is generally considered in our part of the world. The most overwhelming concern for the nuclear power industry is its high capital cost. Although operating expenses generally remain low, plant construction costs are ...

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