If Beauty and the Beast was based in Pakistan, what would Belle’s fate be?

Oh Disney, you and your goo-goo eyed characters and mush-tacular storylines. Here’s the thing – you can’t fool us. We hail from the land of desis. We know what’s up. Just look at Beauty and the Beast. Unrealistic! We can believe the talking furniture and the enchanted experiments in botany, but as desis, we know exactly how it would have happened if Belle lived down the road from us. Our movie opens: The power of reading Gaston spots Belle running around with a book in her hand. This is one of the best things about a woman getting a degree and involving herself in education – ...

Read Full Post

An open letter to the man I birthed

Last year, I entered the world’s finest and most respected club – motherhood. From then till now, my life has been a real rollercoaster ride. I never imagined my life as a nappy-changing, breastfeeding mother, but doing all this just made me more complete than ever. People had warned me that raising a boy was a different job and it truly is. Giving birth to a boy in a society like ours is a victory itself. The first words you hear after your delivery are,  “Mubarak ho, beta hua hai!” (Congratulations, it’s a son!) Every face around you, from the Dadi to the Nani, glows with the reassurance that ...

Read Full Post

When Cynthia Ritchie exposed Pakistan exactly as every Pakistani has known it for 70 years

It is interesting how there are times when despite your passionate avowals of the virtues of being unbiased and uninvolved, taking sides becomes a moral obligation and a strategic necessity. When you find love on your left and hate on your right, you can no longer be a bystander on the aisle of nonchalance and call yourself righteous. Photo:Sarwar Mushtaq Lies create fear and fear fuels hate. Perhaps clichéd and simplistic, but that is my only explanation for people hating people they have never met or known. With the interminable narrative of fear we are bombarded with day ...

Read Full Post

It is high time we accept that Indians are indeed racist

The government has taken great pains to explain the last few days of turmoil in Greater Noida to the world, with Indians being dubbed “xenophobic and racist”. And it is high time we accept that Indians ARE indeed racist. My experiences with the way we react to Africans and the colour of their skin have led me to believe that we, as a nation, need to change our attitude. I simply cannot erase the memory of the day a few of my older sister’s Kenyan friends were mistreated at my house in Varanasi. Many Kenyans believe India offers the best prospects for education, and those ...

Read Full Post

I was afraid of them

It was during one of my unplanned trips to Kanyakumari that I met Uma Maheshwar. I had boarded the almost empty train at Thiruvananthapuram. I was alone in one of the compartments, dozing. A few women passed through the alleyway wearing thick makeup and pungent perfume, which disturbed my nap. Another woman followed. She stopped and turned towards me. I looked up confused. To my surprise, it was neither she nor he. She begged, clapping, “Give something saar”. The clap they have patented. We consider them incomplete without that clap. I will be honest here. I abhorred them. “Saar, something”. She repeated in Tamil mixed with Malayalam. “Go ...

Read Full Post

Justice Hani: A goodbye to the harbinger of justice

In the year 2007, a 10-year-old boy sat within the stuffy walls of the Hyderabad prison, charged with his father’s murder. One can only imagine his frame of mind as he spent his days therein, surrounded by offenders averaging three times his age and boasting allegedly dark pasts. Little did he know that a surprise visit to the prisons was to shortly change his destiny. Alarmed at the little boy’s presence in what should have been a cell confined to male adults, Justice Amir Hani Muslim immediately ordered for the child’s transfer to the women’s prison alongside his mother, a ...

Read Full Post

Is Sesame Street the right platform to educate children about autism?

Julia is beautiful. With orange hair and comically large eyes, carrying her toy rabbit with her, she is the adorable new kid on the block. And that is not all! Julia is also autistic. In the current world of oddities, fewer things retain their true vigour. The most colourful street in town, however, remains as true to its purpose as it was 50 years ago. Yes, I am talking about the street that has a ‘Big Bird’ on it, the Sesame Street! Using television to teach children new ideas, basic linguistic and numerical skills was made tangible for the first time on Sesame ...

Read Full Post

Was it a djinn or genetics that was responsible for his strange behaviour?

A common misconception exists in Pakistan that if someone starts behaving oddly, the cause is usually attributed to djinns. Spiritual healers are consulted to resolve the issue while doctors and medicines are usually ignored. This thought is not restricted to the uneducated class; even the privileged strongly believe in the supernatural as it can be witnessed from the wall chalking in Karachi that advertises one aamil after another. However, a recent incident provided a more realistic and holistic insight. About two years ago, my relative’s six-year-old son started behaving oddly. He was a young and energetic boy who would go to school and behave just ...

Read Full Post

In Pakistan, men make decisions and women make dinner

Inequality between men and women is not something exclusive to the subcontinent or the Middle East. For instance, while allowed to participate in the army, women are still not permitted to serve in frontline combat in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and Slovakia. In the United States, and other developed nations, women are consistently overlooked for promotions and paid less for doing the same work their male counterparts do. In this part of the world, however, we make a clear distinction. Gender inequality is far from over in the developed world but at least mainstream statements that promote equality and denounce ...

Read Full Post

Why is Sana Safinaz plagiarising and giving copy-right notices at the same time?

Ever look at those expensive designer dresses in the display windows and felt sad? Ever felt left out because you couldn’t possibly afford to buy a Dior or a Balenciaga dress? Fret not, for Pakistani designers have a genius way of saving you of this misery.  No, no, I’m not talking about cheap knockoffs. Oh no. This is a strangely real deal. You’ll still be wearing designer clothes, probably might even cost an organ, but you’ll be halfway there on the social ladder. One of Pakistan’s leading fashion houses, Sana Safinaz is under the spot light once again and for the same ...

Read Full Post