Stories published in October, 2014

Two decades of battling breast cancer

The early 1990s at Franklin Township Public Library, New Jersey – two wonderful mothers separately take their children out for a day of fun and learning, with books. Fully engrossed in story time, one toddler looks up from the reading to meet a stranger’s eyes. It was another child his age, with short black hair and the undeniable look of a similar, intelligent mischievousness. That’s when it began. Our mothers soon became fast friends, and we spent most of early childhood in each other’s company. These were the modest beginnings of my lifelong (best) friendship with AR*. Little did we understand the depth of ...

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Is Islamabad airport really the worst airport in the world?

Imagine the worst airport you can think of. Multiply it by 10. Then multiply it further by 20. Drop the resulting figure in a barrel, and throw that barrel away where the sun doesn’t shine. At the bottom of the crater created by this barrel drop, you will find Islamabad airport. I had the misfortune of travelling via Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport some months back, and I’m glad that has been my only visit to the place. Unless someone holds a gun against my head, I have made it a point to never travel via this airport again. From the ...

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No Muharram in Kashmir again – 25 years and counting

I recall attending a brief lecture on international law vividly. A learned professor was making a point on the integration of minorities and how nation states often misuse tools like assimilation, accommodation, tolerance, pluralism and multiculturalism etcetera to coerce minorities into submission. When everything fails to get the desired results, the law and order argument achieves significance and becomes fashionable. This brings me to the issue that has had Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir in a stranglehold for nearly two and a half decades now; the blanket ban on the historic Muharram processions. The argument usually put forth by the Indian ...

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I guess #Nilofar and Karachi just weren’t meant to be…

Nilofar has been messing with our heads and lives for a week now. It’s coming, it’s not coming. It’s severe, it’s very severe. It has weakened and will not be hitting Pakistan directly. It will rain in Karachi, it will not rain in Karachi. Make up your mind, woman! While Sindh’s fate lay in the hands of a “woman”, we, Karachiites waited anxiously for her to grace us with her presence. This anxiousness is quite disturbing might I add. Generally, citizens of a soon-to-be-affected city start making preparations to stay safe during a natural disaster, but not us. No sir, we will go ...

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Happy New Year: Just another (tasteless) Shahrukh Khan blockbuster

Farah Khan (the choreographer-turned-director) brings another enterprise titled Happy New Year, with her ever-favourite ‘superstar’ Shahrukh Khan. A brief introduction to Happy New Year is that it’s produced by Shahrukh and Ghauri Khan, is overstuffed with actors and is a tale of revenge. Charlie (Shahrukh Khan) plans to take vengeance from Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff), because of whom his innocent father (Anupam Kher) was locked behind bars for 12 years. To execute his plan smoothly, Charlie gathers a team of misfits, including a self-declared Parsi stud named Tammy (Boman Irani) who is a specialist at breaking sophisticated locks, a partly deaf, former army bomb squad expert, ...

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Drones, Pakistan’s worst kept secret

The current surge in drone strikes in FATA has reignited the infamous ‘drone debate’ and ‘Pakistan’s tacit agreement’ on intelligence sharing with the United States. Only a few months ago, Peter Bergen, a US expert on drones, had revealed that the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan may have finally come to an end. Not only Bergen, but even the current Nawaz-led PML-N government boasted of lobbying against drones and convincing the Obama administration to cease the strikes. Till June this year, one could believe these reports and revelations as there was a long hiatus in predator strikes. However, it was on June 11 when, negating such ...

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Where’s my refund, Mr Zardari?

Saturday, October 18, was an interesting and eventful day for us Karachiites. While most of us were off from work and school, the rest of us (including me) had to be at work and cover the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) rally. In contrast to popular belief, the rally actually brought with it a certain liveliness and energetic vibe to our city. However, the downside to holding the rally in our beloved city was the immense traffic and road blockage. But thankfully, by late evening, the roads had somewhat cleared up and I was able to go watch a movie (for which I had absentmindedly ...

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Hafeez, an unsung hero?

After the spot fixing saga in 2010, Pakistan was in desperate need of a solid opener to fill the gap left by Salman Butt. And it was none other than Mohammad Hafeez who took the challenge upon himself to work his way into becoming Pakistan’s next regular opener in all three formats. Before 2010, Hafeez had a questionable batting average and his inclusion in the team was criticised because he was never able to establish himself as a preferred player in our team. Despite that he worked hard on his techniques and scored numerous runs against competitive teams like England, South Africa and New ...

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Getting high in Pakistan

I believe words do not suffice when it comes to describing the emotions that run through you when you’re standing at the foot of a mountain. The raw beauty and power of these mighty mountains make you realise how small we really are. No matter how many times I see them, those mountains, valleys, glaciers or plains of multiple coloured flowers changing after every few feet, I am always left speechless. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow, just being there instils this faith that there truly is a higher power out there. To truly understand these mountainous areas and northern valleys, one ...

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O’ Canada, we (immigrants) stand on guard for thee!

If you are from Pakistan, a random suicide attack or senseless bouts of bloodshed are normal in all abnormal ways possible. Usually, a few selected cities and areas are targeted while the other parts of the country go on with life. However innocent blood is always shed and Pakistan is made out to be a no-go-zone in international news. This is a tragic reality that Pakistan has to crawl its way through every day. As a new immigrant in Canada, I imagine a life of peace and harmony because, let’s face it, that’s a given. Until it’s not. Terrorists attack Montreal and Ottawa and you get ...

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