Stories about Urdu

Thari culture, palla fish, Bombay bakery and my meethi journey through rural Sindh

Quiet recently, I joined a small group of close friends on a trip to Tharparkar, Sindh. The three of us reached Karachi by air and went to Hyderabad by road, where two other group members joined us. The five of us started our journey to Tharparkar via Badin. Our first stop was at Mithi, the district headquarters, where we experienced the first taste of hospitality by a Hindu friend’s family, who despite being vegetarians had prepared meat for us with various other delicious vegetables. After enjoying the scrumptious meal, we continued our journey onwards to Nangarparkar. On our way to Nangarparkar we ...

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The newspaper boy

He threw it inside the house and as he cycled forward and heard it land softly on the doormat. Great shot, he thought. There were three streets to go. And the light around him was slowly spreading. He continued. In the street before the last, he slowed down because he was nearing the house filled with flowerpots. Previous shots had broken some pots and invited anger from the owner whose life seemed to be divided into the dozens of pots she had. This time, though, he came near the gate and slowly hooped it inside. The sound of contact with ...

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KGS isn’t perfect but it isn’t quite as bad as you may think either

To some, Karachi Grammar School (KGS) is a name as synonymous with snobby elitism as it is with academic prestige to others. On the one hand, those enrolled in the school make us proud with an impressive list of notable alumni and achievements, in both national and international competitions. The same students also warrant spite for their reputation of being overly westernised, entitled and completely out of touch with the society in which they live. But the question is, how did it get to this? To understand that, we have to go back to colonial India in 1847, when the school was first ...

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Why has Pakistan forgotten about the 2.5 lakh Pakistani refugees in Bangladesh?

A few years ago, I was travelling to Birmingham from London’s Marylebone Station. I sat with an elderly Asian who happened to be a Bangladeshi. During the course of our discussion, the tirade of the Fall of Dhaka came up. He suddenly became defensive, stating that Pakistan never wanted Bangladesh to be part of it from the get go. He began to justify his stance and he went on to mention Allama Iqbal’s blunt ignorance towards Bengali Muslims, whilst defining the territorial limits of free Muslim States, claiming that they would constitute the north-western frontier parts of India. He added that in 1948 when Jinnah, the father of ...

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The problem with Vande Mataram and Hindu nationalism

There is a constant debate of whether Hindutva nationalism has mainstreamed in India or does it remain confined to the right-wing constituencies. Whatever may be the case, the Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen MLA Waris Pathan’s suspension, through a unanimous nod, by the Maharashtra Assembly is an indication that there is a thin line between Hindutva nationalism and Indian nationalism. For now, Pathan remains suspended for the entire budget session until April 17, 2016; for exercising his right to not to speak certain things that he didn’t want to say, as guaranteed by the Indian constitution. In the double irony – which seems to have become a hallmark ...

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Why has it become so acceptable to know English but not know Urdu?

“Humne Urdu k saath sautanon wala sulook kara hai aur almiya ye k ye samjhanay k liye bhi aik dusri zubaan ka sahara lena parega.” (We have always treated Urdu as a step-child and the worst part is, in order to fully understand our native language, we seek help from a foreign one.) It hits hard, doesn’t it? Sadly, what we never realise is that language is an art that breathes with those who breathe it. It matters not which language you speak, neither does is matter what your prowess is in the language, but what does matter is the respect any and all languages command. ...

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From Mehdi Hassan to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Tanya Wells does renditions like never before

“Music has no boundaries. No matter what language, genre, rhythm, it can always find a way to everyone’s heart.” Watching the English singer Tanya Wells sing the ghazal virtuoso Mehdi Hassan’s ‘Duniya Kisi Ke Pyaar Mein’ while playing the guitar is part of what makes her singing even more soulful and mesmerising. Her voice rose steadily in pitch, along with a distinct sweetness in her voice, which delightfully astonished Pakistan’s music lovers. Her choices of songs ranged from Shahanshah-e-Ghazal Mehdi Hassan’s ‘Rafta Rafta Woh Meri Hasti’ to the ‘King of Qawwali’ Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Man Kunto Maula’ to Nayyara Noor’s ‘Ae Ishq Humain Barbad Na Kar’ to a mash up of Blackstreet’s ‘No ...

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Can Pakistanis not speak in fluent Urdu anymore?

I am not proud of my inability to read and write Urdu well. Growing up overseas, I did not have the opportunity to study the tongue, and English became my first language. As a result, it takes me far longer to read Urdu words than it should. This is not a good thing, and when I speak in Urdu, which I do well, I try to use as many Urdu words in my speech as possible, hard as it can be with English having infiltrated the language tongue so heavily. Surprisingly, when I moved to Pakistan later in my life, I ...

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From Lahore to London – From Karachi to Kensington

London held a host of activities highlighting Pakistan and the cultural vibrancy it has to offer to the world. This weekend saw the launch of Suzali, a platform showcasing Pakistan’s most well-renowned designers which included Mehreen Noorani, Nida Azwer, Naureen Arbab, Lalarukh, Shirin Hassan, and Sarah Anees.  Although these designers are well-established in Pakistan and Dubai, they are not so accessible to Pakistanis living in London. Suzali aims to provide a bridge between renowned Pakistani designers and potential customers in England who have limited access to high-quality Pakistani clothes. Sana Habib, the brainchild of Suzali, was inspired to create the name using the ...

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The day he took my love away

She never expected her marriage to come to an end. No woman ever does. She distinctly remembers the day she was betrothed and how excited she was. Her mother kept telling her not to smile for she had to make it look like she was genuinely sad about leaving her father’s home, but secretly she was over the moon. He was perfect; good looking, professionally accomplished, lived abroad and came from a good family background, and to top it off, he loved her wholeheartedly. What a beautiful union it was. Everyone was smiling and everything was going to be completely perfect. And yet, here she was ...

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