Stories about stereotypes

Who is a Pakistani? A Muslim? A desperate migrant? Different from an Indian? A caged woman?

Over the past two years, I have travelled to 15 countries, either by myself or with friends. Before this nomadic lifestyle of mine, I had lived my entire life within a bubble in Pakistan, and honestly, the question of what it meant to be a Pakistani never occurred to me. But as I travelled and met more people whose cultures and values were as foreign to me as mine were to them, my innate assumptions about the notion of the Pakistani identity were challenged. Numerous people helped me reflect on the overarching perceptions of my country. I was a medium through which they could know more about a ...

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What if Snow White was a little healthier and the dwarves were less perverted?

“What if Snow White was a little healthier and the dwarves were less perverted?” is perhaps what the poster for the new Snow White film should have said. Instead it said, “What if Snow White was no longer beautiful and the seven dwarfs not so short?” What if the marketing team of the South Korean children’s movie, Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarfs had more sense? The movie seems to have taken a rather strong and suggestive tone regarding breaking stereotypes, showing a version of Snow White that is a heavier girl unperturbed by the notion of “proper” behaviour that is commonly expected of ...

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This Mother’s Day, let’s pay a special tribute to mothers who don’t need their child to be “normal”

What is a special child? You could scour through piles of books or websites on the internet. You could ask doctors or child specialists. You could ask anyone but the only person who knows the answer to this is a mother – the champion of life and longevity, the captain of endurance and consideration – that is the mother of a child who has been rendered special. Hearing the following phrases must have a huge impact on a mother, “Is he a little different?” “Yes, your child is a special needs child. He cannot keep up with the ‘normal’ kids.” She spends nine months preparing for her bundle ...

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We are all Pakistanis and that itself is enough to glue us together

Recently, I came across an advertisement made by Filumbaaz for Leisure Club, a clothing company in Pakistan.  Inspired by Denmark’s TV2 ‘All That We Share’ concept, it was certainly something that we Pakistanis needed to see, especially keeping in mind the events of recent times. We have seen violence result from verbal disputes over literally nothing. We have seen people pull out guns because someone looked ‘weird’.  We have seen a person lynched over a rumor. The advertisement itself was dedicated to Mashal Khan and others who were forced to leave us long before their time. It starts with various people walking into a ...

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It’s time we stopped turning a blind eye to the racism and xenophobia that exists in Canada

I consider myself a very proud Canadian. I do. I love Canada with all my heart and soul, as utterly clichéd as that may sound. When my parents were thinking of immigrating ‘abroad’ – we lived in Saudi Arabia at that time – they kept insisting that we move to Canada. And they didn’t have a valid reason for it either; they just wanted us to move here, because everyone else they knew was immigrating in flocks to the United States. I guess they knew, in their hearts, that Canada was the better option. And it was; well, for ...

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Pink: No, she does not want to have sex with ‘you’!

How do you break a woman who has the audacity to have a spine to stand up for herself? What does it take to knock her down if she has the gall and gumption to fight against all that’s wrong? How do you shut a girl who has the temerity to have a rational mouth on her? Well, you can’t! And B-Town has finally manifested the point in all its cinematic mightiness. In the prevailing culture of putrid patriarchy, if a female refuses to submit, it is considered as an attack on the male ego. You label her a slut, ...

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I learned true parenting from a foster mother

I first saw her at my kid’s school; she stood out in the crowd, a beautiful brunette with hazel eyes, radiant smile and … a stroller full of babies. There were three kids; a boy and two girls. I asked her if the girls were twins. She said no; they were 11 months apart. She wasn’t their birth mum – she was fostering-to-adopt them. Being from a country where foster parenting is not a widely acclaimed subject, fostering-to-adopt piqued my interest. I wanted to get acquainted with her, and over the following months we did. We often met on school runs, while picking and dropping ...

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My crime that night? I was travelling home with two na-mehram boys

In middle school when my cousin, like all other Pakistani girls, ditched uniform shorts for track pants at gym class, I asked my dad if I could do the same as well. I handed him the application form to fill in so I could give it to my gym teacher. He laughed, lit his pipe and set my definition of gelling in and modesty right.  Needless to say, I bore weird glances from the Pakistani community of 12-year-olds at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Virginia for two full years. I learnt indifference. But it becomes difficult to continue practicing the learned art in this ...

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If Hindi is a threat to our national and regional languages, what about English?

Doraemon (a Japanese manga anime dubbed in Hindi) is blamed for the corruption of our children’s own language as we continue to speak a mish-mash of Urdu, English and our respective regional languages. Doraemon has risen as the latest target of criticism. This is the time to honour our culture and language and the well-being of our children. It is heart-warming to see that big-shots in the parliament are concerned about the impact of our TV screens on the youngest of their constituents. However, one of their reasons, along with the ensuing public debates, has revealed the entrenched hypocrisy in ...

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Dylan Roof was not termed a terrorist, but Omar Mateen is?

In the aftermath of Orlando shooting, Muslims and Islam have come under the spotlight again. There can be no denying that there are a number of problems in the way Muslims interpret Islam and its injunctions and how these are to be implemented in the modern world – where inevitably one has to interact with people of different points of view, many of which may be antithetical to those Islamic injunctions. The issue of dealing with the LGBTQ community is one such challenge that Muslims have to confront themselves with. Muslims have to realise that killing off people for having ...

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