Saba Khalid

Saba Khalid

A blogger for Rolling Stone magazine, a contributor to Kulturaustauch and Musikexpres, Saba is an Institute for Foreign Affairs (IFA) Cross Culture scholar for the year 2012 who also teaches creative writing to young aspiring writers. She blogs at www.thecityalive.com and can be found on instagram as @thecityalive

Our first transgender model and other milestones for Pakistan

As Indian activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi stomped the runway at the Lakme Fashion Week, US athlete Chris Mosier appeared in a Nike advertisement, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shared an iftar meal with a transgender celebrity, a change has been brewing globally this year. But there’s still so much activism, action and inertia that is still needed in Pakistan. Let’s recount some of the trailblazing moments that shook the Pakistani society, empowering the notions surrounding transgender persons: June 2009 In order to ensure their rights, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the first census for transgender people to take place. However, ...

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Why are places like Espresso and Dolmen Mall so averse to live music?

I’m standing at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, hearing music from three different directions coming from street artists who have set up their hats. One plays under a bridge, another next to a shopping district and a third outside a beer hall. I’m not sure which one to listen to when I get an urgent e-mail from Marium Kamal. Marium is an artist and a fine arts teacher who, in her free time, manages Shikari; a small indie duo who play only original Urdu and English songs in Karachi. I met her and the band quite cosmically at a coffee shop on my ...

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Mahira’s “matkas” and “jhatkas” prove she’s the greatest marketeer in Pakistan

Mahira Khan’s larger-than-life performance and her red-carpet appearance at the LSA2016 (replete with a dress and entourage big enough to fill up all of Expo Center), proved to me that she’s an excellent brand manager who understands her target audience very well. At a time when people are desperately trying to go back to old values, Mahira brings back the charisma of yesteryear. Her audience loves when her lip is bitten in sharam. They oppose the women who bite it in lust. They love when her dupatta falls strategically at the right time during a performance. They do not like women whose ...

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Five things that could make the Lux Style Awards 2015 actually fun!

The year 2015 will be hosting its 14th Lux Style Awards (LSA) ceremony. LSA is almost a teenager now, but instead of turning out to be a rebellious punk with a killer sense of style, it’s turned out to be a meek wallflower in dowdy dungarees. I say that because during the 14 years of its existence, I can’t recall a single memorable dance performance or a tear-jerking speech by any Pakistani actor or actress. For that matter, no outfit on the red carpet left any impression either; no glamorous gown, sari or dress left me absolutely stunned. We pause our lives to watch the Oscars, write thesis-long posts about each of ...

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“If you want to teach here, you have to wear a burqa”

“You just have to wear a burqa inside the school; you are free to take it off when you leave the school premises,”said the principal of a Karachi-based school while interviewing a candidate. “It’s just a garment,” thought the candidate, and a garment that was helping her get a higher salary than all the other schools. So she signed the teaching contract and took the burqa home with her. All day at home, that burqa in her bag haunted her. How could she don something all day that represented something she hadn’t fully accepted in her heart? Wasn’t she lying to impressionable children? Wasn’t it hypocritical of her ...

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Zehreeli Chummi: The controversial ‘chummas’ Pakistanis need to take

There is one thing that all Pakistanis know about themselves – they can’t stand cartoons or comics. No, I’m not talking about the meek, biscuit or washing detergent company sponsored comics; I’m talking about those that question our beliefs, provoke our preconceived notions about religion, and reveal the corrupt system and politicians. We get so emotional about a drawing that we are willing to destroy our own city, kill our own people and any outsider who comes in our way. It doesn’t matter if he or she had nothing to do with those comics. Photo: Zehreeli Chummi Facebook page We ...

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Risks of writing an authentic book in Karachi

I’ve been writing since I was in my mother’s womb. According to her, I never kicked – but she felt constant scribbling on her tummy. I probably came out of her holding a novel called My Nine Months in the Womb by Saba Khalid, which she probably threw away because it was too graphic for her Jamaat-e-Islami sensibilities. While girls were playing with Barbies, I was busy picking up my favourite books, cutting out the author’s name, putting my own name instead and then pretending to be the centre of attention of my very extravagant book party! By the age of eight, I had written ...

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When you’re at the salon and you hear “Aap ki larkiyan Christian hain?”

I was expecting that being a “foil” lioness for a full-hour at a top-notch salon in Karachi and not being able to move around, read a magazine and put on headphones, was going to be painfully long and boring. But as I sat, heard and watched all the action from the mirror for an hour, I not only lost all my faith in Karachi, Pakistan and humanity but somehow gained it back again within the same span of time.  On an ordinary day, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed her come in! Beige duppata perched on her head with a Louis Vuitton bag loosely hanging from ...

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Where have all the urban Pakistani girls gone?

Hello Pakistani filmmakers and television producers, my friends and I exist in this country too! There are two types of Karachi girls shown in Pakistani dramas and films – she’s either “bholi bhali” ,“seedhi saadhi”, “masoom” larki or a complete “chundaal” aurat out to snatch your “bhola bhala”, “seedha saadha”,“masoom” man! One of the reasons why I can’t watch anything “Pakistani” these days is because I can’t see a representation of women like myself on TV. I yawned when people fawned over Khirad – I was pissed off that a smart woman like Mahira Khan would take on a role so ...

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A conversation with Faiza Saleem – The Facebook superstar

Lawyer by day and Facebook star by night, 24-year-old Faiza Saleem gives a new meaning to celebrity-hood. She might not come on TV, or star in a local film, but her two-minute-long videos, which are produced through a phone camera and uploaded on Facebook, rack up more than a million views from around the world. The videos, which are satirical in nature, star Faiza and her friends and they poke fun at all sorts of social issues in Pakistan. Some of her characters are so popular – especially ‘Aunty on the phone’ – that she has turned it into a ...

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