Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

Lights, camera, action: Faisal Vawda, the ‘hero’ we did not need

The heinous attack on the Chinese consulate brought many brave women and men of the police to the forefront, all earning well-deserved national admiration. However, Mr Faisal Vawda was not one of them. There is no reason that a tragedy like this should ever be eclipsed by a satirical side-show, but that is something with which we must now cope. Amidst the chaos at the consulate, appeared a hero that nobody had asked for, and nobody quite needed. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA, Vawda, arrived at the scene with a gun and a bulletproof vest. While media reporting on the Karachi terror ...

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A pizza-less Naya Pakistan: Cheese, the greatest villain in Pakistan’s economic tragicomedy

In the same month that the country discriminated against one of its economists for his religious beliefs, our cheese imports appear to have come under jeopardy. Coincidence? Certainly none of us expected karma to come knocking at our kitchen door so soon. When the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) assembled a few weeks ago, cheese was not expected to be revealed as the greatest villain in this economic tragicomedy. The session was held to discuss ways on how to avoid another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout. No, 15th time is not the charm! It was in this session that an economist – who ...

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A Rs10 tip on a Rs4,000 bill is an insult, not a favour

Tipping is unique to the food industry. As a doctor, never once did a patient hand me an extra Rs20 note as a thank you for a good knee exam. The reason is that we expect a doctor to receive adequate compensation for his work through the bill alone. It was when I put down my stethoscope and took a hiatus, serving chai to paying customers at my own café, did I develop a greater appreciation for this art. Tipping persists in the food industry because we don’t expect the labour to be paid what they are due. Serving food ...

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We, the 99% non-VIP population, are important too

The Sindh High Court (SHC) Judge is a very important person. You can tell that he’s very important because he has a nice car that travels at disruptively high speed among a convoy of other large vehicles. It’s very important for us, the ordinary people, to acknowledge that the SHC Judge is an important man who makes important decisions for this country; for which we should all be grateful. My reaction to the menacing approach of a security protocol is the same as countless of my docile countrymen. We sigh, and give way to the baraat (crowd) of armed men as ...

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Why your husband might be gay

Allow me to get straight to the point. Homosexuality exists, and contrary to the mass media being dominated by heterosexual affairs, the ubiquity of same-gender attraction cannot be ignored. Yes, we need to talk about this. It’s difficult to say what percentage of the population is gay, because ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ are not distinct demographics. About 2.5% of the population may be exclusively gay, but realistically speaking, every person lies somewhere on the spectrum. For a long time, we’ve relied on what is known as the ‘Kinsey Scale’ – rating a person on a scale of one to six, with one being ‘attracted ...

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Do not accept praise for healthcare when you cannot accept blame for a woman giving birth outside your hospital, Shehbaz Sharif

They want to attribute this incident to a developing country’s poverty, meaning that it is nobody’s fault in particular. But I believe it is appropriate and needed for the public to shake its fist at the administration that has failed us all. No woman should have to bargain for shelter and basic healthcare while in labour. But that is what Sameera Bibi had to do at Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital in Raiwind. Sameera, the wife of a humble brick kiln worker, was refused obstetric care because there was seemingly no doctor available at the facility at that time. Knowing Shehbaz Sharif’s history with ...

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Dear Centaurus Mall, forcing single males to pay a non-refundable fee of Rs500 is elitist and offensive

Centaurus Mall has once again fired shots at the lowly invaders of its ‘family-oriented’ atmosphere. I fear this will only get worse. Frustrated social media users have posted images of Rs500 entry tickets to Centaurus, applicable only to single male visitors. Unlike older entry coupons, these tickets are neither refundable nor adjustable with purchases inside the mall. #Boycott #Centaurus_MallAbsolutely ridiculous! Centaurus used to charge 300 previously which was adjustable. They're… Posted by Islamabad~~~Rain~~~Music~~~Walk~~~Perfect Combination on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 It appears that the management of Centaurus has done nothing that is not within the class-warfare guidelines of Islamabad – the face of Pakistan’s elite ...

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The oil tanker spill didn’t expose the ‘jahalat’ of the poor, but the inhuman apathy of the ‘educated’

One wonders if there’s a special hell for those who quickly assign blame to the society’s poorest and most vulnerable members in the wake of every catastrophe. A second oil tanker has toppled in Vehari, and locals have been found attempting to pilfer its fuel. This is uncomfortably similar to the situation just a few weeks ago, when over 200 people lost their lives trying to collect fuel from an overturned tanker near Bahawalpur. The victims and their families who beggared our sympathies, got caught in a storm of hostile opinions instead. Most disconcertingly, these opinions were all aired by the society’s most affluent and privileged quarters who ...

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Islamabad’s food is terrible, and posh restaurants cannot fix that

The people of Islamabad are deprived of good food, and as a Rawalpindi-based critic, I promise not to take too much pleasure in this declaration. We are all aware of our guests from Lahore, our undisputed food capital, being notoriously hard to impress with nearly any kind of food found in Islamabad. Islamabad is a young city, and has not had time to evolve its own unique cuisine and celebrated eateries as many other cities like Karachi, Multan, and Rawalpindi have done in the last 100 years or more. Islamabad, true to its modern self, has wholeheartedly adopted the global trend of ‘culinary gimmickry’. We are impressed by burgers ...

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Hong Du Noodles: Is this what good food is supposed to look and taste like?

Here’s what might happen when you walk into Islamabad’s curious new food joint on Hilal Road, F-11. You’ll find a grand total of two tables bathed in yellow light, in a space enclosed within quirky green, neo-oriental wallpaper. Both of these tables are occupied by Chinese patrons. One of the parties may immediately vacate their seats on seeing you, and offer you their table. You realise that these are the owners and operators of this proud family business. Seated at the table, which is neither lavish nor comfortable, you may ask to see a menu. There is no menu. The Chinese owner/chef/waiter, in a faded green ...

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