Yes, you can actually go turtle-watching in Karachi

Whenever one thinks of travelling within Pakistan and prospective vacation spots, the northern areas of the country are what come to mind. Scroll down your Facebook wall and Instagram feeds and the pictorial storyboards will corroborate this stance. Unfortunately, with the prime goal of running away from the heat and the general lack of interest in exploring our diverse culture, heritage, environment, and wildlife, we often ignore the treasures that our southern region has to offer. We often ignore the treasures that our southern region has to offer. Science has proven that there is a delicate balance between the wildlife and their habitat, ...

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Do we need finishing schools in Pakistan? YES!

As a fresh high school graduate, I remember resisting my mother’s assertion on how I should join an etiquette school to keep my summers productive. If it were up to me, I would have loved to vegetate on my couch and watch all the TV shows and movies I had missed out on during examination week. I vividly recall her retorting, “It’ll really help you conduct yourself with poise and dignity.” I thought to myself then, as if I wasn’t already a lady? Do I really need it? What would I possibly learn more from it? Reminiscing back to that point ...

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The educated housewife: A choice, not a chore

Until recently I’d felt that feminism, when it came to women working, was baseless because in most modern families, women can choose to either work or stay at home. But I’ve come to realise that the only reason I feel this way is because I’m lucky enough to have been raised in an environment where I am not expected to give up my dreams because of something as trivial as my gender. Let me tell you a story. I know someone who married at the age of twenty-six, of her own accord. She had already completed her Bachelor’s degree with a ...

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“Baji, why does Master ji not give me the same kind of attention he gives to Hira?”

She was bathed in my perfume when I entered the room. “Baji, there was some stench coming from the store room; that’s why I was using it.” She is the daughter of our housekeeper; hardly 12, with dark skin, sharp features, huge, sparkly eyes, and an innocent face. Her mother asked me to help her with her studies and I loved to teach her. She was such a bright student who wanted to learn as much as she could. But for some time now, I was noticing a devastating change in her personality; a lack of interest in her studies, a sudden interest in the latest ...

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Why God, why am I a woman?

Sexual violence towards women have reached epidemic proportions worldwide. It doesn’t matter if you’re covered in a shuttlecock burqa or strutting your stuff in a bikini, our existence as females is under continuous attack. As women, we are supposed to be pliant, obedient, great chefs, honourable, sexually available and constantly blamed for the ills of society including the misdemeanours of men.  Having lived in the West and East, my perspectives and observations are unique. I can honestly say that things on both sides of the world don’t look good for women. Being born and raised in Saudi Arabia, one of the ...

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I am a Muslim and I would vote for Trump

On July 30, 1788, William Lancaster (an anti-federalist delegate to the North Carolina Convention) warned the participants of the possibility of a Muslim becoming the President of the United States and that there was nothing in the constitution against it. I can only see two scenarios where a Muslim could become the President of the United States. First, when all of America becomes Muslim, it would be their prerogative right to elect one of their own. Second, when all of the values, principles, beliefs and rights America stands for can only be found in someone who is a Muslim, then ...

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An open letter to my younger self

Dear Tanzila, Today your wish will come true. You will get what you had always wanted. Remember that hair straightener set? Mum has gotten it for you. It has curlers too! But I have some bad news: you will forget about the beloved straightener within three years and never think about it again. Why? Because, you will embrace the hijab as your identity – don’t freak out! You will love it. Today, as the 26-year-old ‘you’, I have reached out to you of the past to share some lessons. Some of them I learned in Sweden, some as I was sitting in a training session ...

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This Muharram, I realised that my father’s childhood is still alive

The beggar who did his beat in my old neighbourhood knew his audience well. The whole year he would beg by lamenting his misfortune with mixed results, but from the first day of Muharram he would change his tactic. In his high pitched but sonorous voice he would invoke the names of the Prophet’s (pbuh) family and the martyrs of Karbala. At some point he had come to the conclusion that the street my house was on was populated by Shias who would be moved to give charity when he called out the names of Hussain (ra), Abbas (ra) and ...

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I am trapped in a cycle of suicidal thoughts

I am travelling back from a long day at work. I have my window pulled down. Its dark outside and the wind is blowing directly in my face. I am exhausted and mentally drained. I have no energy left to fight these battles. As the car pauses at a traffic light, my mind races by. I can’t bear this any longer. The car revs to a start and speeds onto the highway, cold wind blowing onto my face again. I can see the lights of other cars swish past me in a blurry rush. My mind slows down and ...

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The importance of observing Muharram the Islamic way

Having grown up abroad, we were often part of a tiny (Muslim) minority group, no matter where we were based. Thus, we celebrated all religious and cultural occasions together. It happened over two decades ago, but I still recall it vividly. I must have been eight or nine-years-old when I was attending a majlis at another (Shia) Muslim household. When it came to the maatam (mourning), I was told not to participate. The child in me did as I was told, but I remember being left confused by the command. So I came home and asked my parents to explain. They tried to explain (as much ...

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