Stories about cigarettes

If I look like a boy and walk like a boy, why can’t I be a girl?

While I found private buses very easy on my pocket, I hadn’t travelled in one for over a year, even though I would travel in it all the time while I was in university. I had started noticing something strange. We all know what goes on in buses; but this was different. I realised that people were talking about my gender; they weren’t sure if I was a woman or a man. For instance, once when I was going back home from work and had to take a bus, the female compartment was almost empty so I availed the opportunity and hopped on the ...

Read Full Post

This Ramazan, go from smoking 20 to 4 cigarettes per day

Most Muslims who smoke refrain from smoking during the period of fasting, which may last up to 12-14 hours. Even after breaking their fast, most smokers smoke only a few cigarettes. Research has shown that somehow, during fasting, smokers do not have the urge to smoke. Those who smoke 25 cigarettes or more on a normal day, decrease the number of cigarettes to four or five a day during Ramazan. This provides an excellent opportunity for a smoker to get rid of this bad habit for good. With strong will power and a little extra effort, they can surely succeed in ...

Read Full Post

Khan, paan and Pakistan

The streets of Islamabad are filled with an extremely diverse collection of people. There are people on the street who can’t afford a meal, but on the very same street you could find a multi-millionaire. Politicians can be spotted in hotels and local cafes, and so can journalists who, in Pakistan, are as popular as any celebrity. In terms of progress as a country, Pakistan has been on a downward spiral for most part of the last two decades. A lot of people point fingers at political leaders, military dictators and even religious ‘scholars’ but many believe that this is also because ...

Read Full Post

Is Pakistan ready to pay the cost of a complete ban on smoking?

The Pakistan Paediatric Association estimates that about 12,000 adolescents become addicted to smoking every day. If this seems like another passable statistic, let me confess that I smoked my first cigarette when I was only eight-years-old. Most of my childhood was spent in an environment clouded by thick smoke of the cancer sticks, yet I was always taught that smoking was bad. The mind of a child can never grasp why something his male relatives indulge in so often can be harmful and I was no different. Not until I took up smoking in my late teens and observed examples of smokers ...

Read Full Post

My life with the fire-tipped devil

At what point does one call oneself a non-smoker? I myself have been guilty of premature declaration. I was told that I must publicise my attempts to quit smoking, thereby putting my reputation at stake. My ego would then kick in and do the needful. So I was told. That’s why, the last 14 times I tried to quit, I told the world about it – initially via email. And then, as social media took over our lives, I posted and tweeted my way into shame and ignominy. However, this time feels different; because it is different. Today, I reach my thousandth un-smoked ...

Read Full Post

The Prado effect

Adam’s story I backed out of the driveway, closely monitoring the environment around me. This was the first time I was driving such a large vehicle and it was safe to assume that there was a very steep learning curve with regards to keeping the jeep on the road. “I need to pick up something for Natasha.” Amir squeaked from the backseat. There were around five people sitting atop each other. I nodded, glancing towards the road ahead before putting the jeep in gear. A slight tap on the accelerator and the monstrous engine roared to life, launching the vehicle onto the road. Sitting behind ...

Read Full Post

A strong man

He really hated elbows on the table. It made him feel as angry as when they hid his cigarettes. But he had no choice in the matter. It was a conspiracy hatched by three women, against him, and not just any three ladies, but three headstrong, exceptionally sensitive and explosive women. So he let it go. But the matter of elbows on the table really got his goat. How difficult was it to just rest the forearms at an angle of 45 degrees with the wrists dangling gently over the cutlery? It wasn’t hard. He had done it for 28 years ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

When the poor pay with their lives for fizzy drinks

Travel through rural Pakistan and two things will strike you. One is heart rending poverty and the other is hospitality. Visitors are greeted with warmth and selfless generosity. The poorest of the poor will immediately call for ‘paani’ for their visitors. Paani means water in Urdu, but in the local lexicon it has come to mean a bottled fizzy drink. And ‘paani’ brooks no refusal. Visitors can demur all they want but the host is not deterred.  “It’s only paani”, he says. “It can do no harm”. But it can and it does. The impression amongst the general public that it ...

Read Full Post

Can’t get shisha in DHA? Go somewhere else!

The libertarian and the doctor in me have been at war with each other for some time, generating a tremendous deal of cognitive dissonance regarding the use of shisha. I have recently begun leaning away from the ban. Here’s why, The recent move by the Defense Housing Authority (DHA), Karachi to ban cafes from serving shisha has expectedly drawn some controversy. I’ve personally never smoked shisha in my life (Hi mom! Thanks for reading my blog!) but I still believe I’ve acquired enough information about it to make a case against the ban. The most obvious problem with the ban is that it applies only ...

Read Full Post