Almas Akhtar

Almas Akhtar

The writer is a blogger, author, an ardent cricket fan, a movie buff, and an avid traveler. Her latest novella “The Fearful Lion” won an honourable mention at the 2018 New York Book Festival.

A Star Is Born: Tragic, realistic and brilliant

There are so many names engraved on the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard, stars that are widely recognised and acknowledged for their exceptional talents. However, the rise to stardom is the tricky part. Many work extremely hard to get to that point, for some it happens rather suddenly or quite unexpectedly. Hollywood’s new release, A Star Is Born, narrates a similar heartwarming story of two musicians; a regular girl who rises to stardom and a celebrity in agony due to his diminishing stardom. Bradley Cooper’s directorial masterpiece and Lady Gaga’s eloquent performances have delivered a lovely story of compassion and solicitude. A Star Is Born ...

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Rashid Khan, the Afridi of Afghanistan: When heroes emerge out of rubble

During my last visit to Karachi a few months ago, I spent some time going through the school assignments and homework of our family cook’s children. As I did so, I insisted on the importance of hard work in order to succeed in life. “You have to work extremely hard in school so you get good grades and then go to the army, as your father wants you to become a general in the Pakistan Army one day, InshaAllah,” I continued to lecture them. My words echoed the dreams and aspirations of not only our cook, but so many other ...

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Crazy Rich Asians may not be Oscar-worthy but it definitely is as captivating as it is entertaining

As I walked into a packed theatre in Birmingham, Michigan one evening, I was somewhat excited to see so many local ‘white Americans’ and ‘African Americans’ gathered to watch a film about ‘Asian Americans’ aka ‘immigrants’. Our stories do matter, after all. Technically, I am also an Asian American; South Asian American to be specific. The movie Crazy Rich Asians is specified as a comedy, but according to my humble opinion, it is more of a comedic satire. A bold sarcasm on the handful of ‘brand conscious’, ‘wealth managed’ crazy rich people who are found not only in Singapore (where ...

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Why are Emojis so… sexist?

“Mummy, I can’t find an emoji of a female architect or ski-instructor online,” said my confused daughter. It was so true. If I was a frustrated looking at images of a dainty ballerina, a salsa dancer or a bride emoji, representing the entire female populace of the world, you can just imagine the confusion it must have caused my poor daughter. In most of the applications, all the professional emojis depict men in different forms of employment; a detective, a cop and a paramedic! For those who don’t already know, an emoji is a small digital image or icon used to express an ...

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Following the evolution of biryani, all the way to New York City

Derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’, biryani is a spicy rice and meat dish which is prepared by mixing layers of rice, meat, tomatoes, fried onions, spices, and food colour. Biryani making is an art – one has to know how long rice should be cooked for, before it can be arranged in layers along with the meat and tomatoes. The rice can become soggy if boiled excessively, or even remain undercooked if not boiled for an appropriate amount of time. All biryani lovers take their biryani very seriously. They feel irked if the biryani isn’t yellow enough or if there’s no ...

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Diyar-e-dil: The only drama portraying the true dynamics of a tribal family in Pakistan

Over the past few years, the media has emerged as an extremely powerful force in Pakistan. With the evolution of freedom of media and the revival of cinema, I personally feel Pakistan has upped their game in this particular industry. People worldwide may beg to differ, especially after having watched Homeland and Zero Dark Thirty. Due to the broadcasting of such shows and movies, one naturally thinks Pakistan is a backward feudal and extremist country, harbouring terrorists and a place where women are not respected by their male counterparts. Living abroad, it hurts me to see how the international media portrays my country. Yes, Pakistan does have its fair share ...

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All that ‘Amreeki glitter’ may not be gold in Jackson Heights

George Bernard Shaw said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.” It is true that life can be good, it can be tough and it can, most certainly, be unpredictable. It can take a person to a whole new world. Away from his or her country, away from their loved ones. The drama Jackson Heights, named after a neighbourhood in New York, beautifully depicted the life of a group of Pakistani immigrants. Aired on Urdu1, this particular drama struck a chord with me because of its storyline. Living in the US, it was refreshing to see this angle being taken – ...

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‘Maid’ is not a synonym for ‘Slave’, Pakistan!

I came across the picture given above on a blog called People of Pakistan and it left me dumbfounded. I have seen many real-life incidents like these in Pakistan, but none have had a similar effect. The photograph shouts out everything that is wrong with our social fabric today and it makes me absolutely furious. Here are a few reasons this photograph disturbed me: 1. The family in the said picture brought their maids to the restaurant with them to take care of their kids so that they could, I suppose, enjoy a ‘peaceful meal’. My guess is that the maids were either ...

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Do we need a ‘females-only’ mosque?

January 30, 2015, was a defining day for Muslim women in the United States. Close to 150 women gathered at the Interfaith Pico-Union Project, in Los Angeles, at a mosque to offer their Friday prayers. However, that wasn’t the unique aspect. What was unique was that while there are many mosques in the US which accommodate women, this particular mosque was built just for them. For the first time in the US, we were introduced to the idea of a females-only mosque, which is managed and administered by women alone. After the prayers were offered, the women gathered around the khateeba (one who delivers sermons) who ...

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Lessons world leaders can learn from the students at Duke University

While Muslims around the world are furious and taking to the streets in protest of Charlie Hebdo, there is another Islam-related story which has caught the attention of many in North America. On Thursday, January 15, 2015, Duke University reversed one of its policies and cancelled the weekly Muslim call to prayer from the campus chapel. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association called on donors and the alumni to support this policy by stating, “As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn’t ...

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