Aisha Iqbal

The author has recently moved to the UK. She is working part-time at a nonprofit in Nottingham and her new year's resolution is to write more. She blogs at

“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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From the ‘slow-mo’ to the ‘self-starer’, the kind of people you come across at Zumba

It’s been a few months into your first desk job and you realise that you are expanding horizontally. You can physically feel your behind increase in size as you sit heavily, day after day on a swivel chair in front of your stupid screen. Not only does a nine to five (read nine to eight) job drain you psychologically, because you would much rather be reading a book or travelling the world than sitting in an office signing off emails with ‘regards’, you’re also physically degenerating into a lazy, large, unhealthy mass. And this is precisely why I started Zumba. Before you confuse Zumba ...

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Looking for a blissful holiday? Forget Thailand, hello Zanzibar!

The orange of the flame trees was so vivid that I felt it would come off on my finger if I were to touch it. The colour of the flame trees stands out in my memory when I think about Zanzibar, with its white beaches and dreamlike turquoise waters. Zanzibar, an island off of Tanzania, is a beautiful place to escape to. The brilliant green of the trees is unfettered by billboards, tiny shacks with metal roofs crowd the roadsides, selling bright red, yellow and blue football jerseys, t-shirts and flip-flops. The locals are predominantly Muslim, the women are dressed ...

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Do journalists have the licence to transgress?

A press card can come in really handy. It doesn’t matter how dumb your picture is on that piece of plastic, you can wear it around your neck and ease your way into concerts or talk your way out of traffic predicaments. You can use it to flaunt your power at the policeman who has parked his metal contraption in a narrow lane, blocking a series of helpless  vehicles that are forced to reverse and go all the way around. It would have been fuel for another series of ‘our police is so  corrupt’ conversations were it not for the ...

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Government schools: What’s lost in translation

Working for a newspaper has definitely brushed up my Urdu reading and comprehension skills, especially when it comes to words like mulzzim (suspect), purisraar (suspicious) and muzzamat (condemn). However, a few days ago when my maid’s 11-year-old daughter brought her social studies book – which is in Urdu – I was left dumbfounded. I had grown accustomed to teaching her English, because I understand that it is not the forte of most government school teachers. Even if a certain class in society has grown used to thinking in English, the majority of the country isn’t familiar with the language at ...

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A reason to hope

I was stuck. I had managed to come within two feet of the huts I had been aiming for but now I was on a grassy edge of the mountain with four large goats and the huts were on a level above with no way to get there. Then the lady appeared. Like an angel with wrinkled skin and orange hair, she was startled to see me with my army green shoulder bag and sneakers, a dupatta perched on my head. “Where’d you drop from?” she asked in surprise and then called over her family. It took two women and ...

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