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)

Why don’t beggars quit being so gross?

The following is a graphic description of my traumatic ordeal last week, when I was forced to cruise through a bazaar full of beggars in my handsome new Corolla. I emerged from it with a greater understanding of their sordid ways, of which I shall gladly inform you. It was an ordinary afternoon that transformed into a grotesque nightmare. I made a fatal mistake of passing through Saddar which was teeming with excited Eid shoppers, and found myself stuck in a gridlock. That’s when it began. They came at me from every direction; tapping on my window with their yellow, misshapen ...

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Bulbulay: When a poor man’s distress is funny

The TV-show ‘Bulbulay’ enjoys a sizable fan-following in Pakistan, but I’ve never really been a part of that base. On watching its most recent episode, my face appears to have been restructured to bear a permanent grimace. The story went something like this (needless to say, you’ll find spoilers here!): A penniless man arrives at the family’s doorstep begging for food. He stays at the door for several hours, sobbing uncontrollably about his woeful condition. The fact that the show’s writers managed to squeeze jokes into the episode with such a background story, is a remarkable feat. But wait, it gets funnier! ...

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Turkish Protests: What I saw at Taksim square

I was a regular tourist, a museum buff, landing in Istanbul with little more than a working knowledge of Turkey’s political past and present. That was until the district I was staying in became engulfed in a battle between the people and the police. Even as a foreigner with no take in Turkey’s socio political course, the air at Taksim square awoke in me a sense of awe and wonder that no exhibit at the Topkapi palace could do.

Photo: Reuters

It all started with a small group of concerned citizens protesting the uprooting of trees at Gezi ...

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Five reasons why you should watch Game of Thrones

The Middle-earth had its day on screen; it is now the story of Westeros taking the world by a storm, with the launch of season three of Game of Thrones, HBO’s flagship series. Are you watching it yet? For the uninitiated, Game of Thrones (GOT) is among the most watched (and the most heavily pirated) TV shows in the world, based on the books of George RR Martin. If you aren’t following the show, here is a short explanation for what all the fuss is about: The storylines: Everybody loves a good story. Well, GOT has five or six brilliant stories running parallel to one another at the same time. There’s no protagonist. ...

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Transgenders are not running in the elections for your entertainment!

Is it possible, I wonder, to initiate a conversation about transgender persons running in the upcoming elections without provoking laughter and shaking one’s head in disapproval? What is it about transgender people that we seem to find so funny? Are they not humans? Do they not have rights? Bindiya Rana and Sanam Fakir, both members of the transgender community, have recently announced their decision to try for seats in the provincial assembly from separate regions. It’s deplorable that the media, for the most part, has been treating this news as a light-hearted, election sideshow — a ‘fun fact’, if you will — to ...

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We don’t need to segregate men and women at rallies!

It was thoroughly mortifying to read about the harassment faced by women at the PTI rally on March 23, even more so with the realisation that it is not an isolated incident, but an illness our nation struggles with. I concede there is very little Imran Khan could have done to avoid this lamentable situation. Regulating vast crowds is always tricky business, let alone doing it in a rainstorm. I was, however, disturbed by the voting results at the end calling for separate arrangements for women at rallies. _____________________________________________

Do you think there should be separate arrangements for women at political rallies?

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_____________________________________________ It’s a perturbing proposition that the key to preventing harassment is enforcing gender segregation. ...

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It’s not the hijab, it’s the attitude that bothers me

Legend has it that when the clock strikes midnight, a terrifying army of beasts awaken who call themselves “The Westernsteins.” They comb our cities, with the sole mission of shaming and persecuting women who wear hijabs or traditional conservative clothing. Such was the terror of Westernsteins that families across Pakistan forbade their women to leave their homes without donning skinny jeans and spaghetti-strap tops. The flame of hope had ostensibly been extinguished, when the nation decided to fight back with a passionate campaign to promote hijab. The dream was that one day women would be able to wear hijabs as freely as they get ...

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Can’t get shisha in DHA? Go somewhere else!

The libertarian and the doctor in me have been at war with each other for some time, generating a tremendous deal of cognitive dissonance regarding the use of shisha. I have recently begun leaning away from the ban. Here’s why, The recent move by the Defense Housing Authority (DHA), Karachi to ban cafes from serving shisha has expectedly drawn some controversy. I’ve personally never smoked shisha in my life (Hi mom! Thanks for reading my blog!) but I still believe I’ve acquired enough information about it to make a case against the ban. The most obvious problem with the ban is that it applies only ...

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10 reasons sex education has nothing to do with vulgarity

While it is truly comforting that Punjab Chief Minister, Shahbaz Sharif — among many others — is taking such lively interests in our students’ moral upbringing, he may have mistaken ‘sex education’ for ‘vulgarity’. Here’s what he may be missing. 1) Sex education does not encourage illicit activities Does having an airbag in your car make you feel like driving your Honda off a bridge? Is my plane more likely to crash if the cabin crew shows me a flight safety instructions video before take-off? An examination of 73 studies on the subject has revealed that comprehensive sexual education does not make students more sexually active than they already ...

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Deadly exorcism and our collective demons of ignorance

Yesterday, the police found a body that had been pierced by needles over a hundred times. The girl’s bones were fractured by repeated blows to her limbs, and then burned with a hot iron rod. The police claim the it was exorcism, but no one is sure about what really happened to her. Earlier last year many cases were reported. In one, a girl named Salma, who was just 13 died of exorcism. According to The Express Tribune,  The girl’s breathing was hampered by blocking her nostrils with cotton buds and holding her mouth shut. I find it unbearable that such incidents should be ...

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