Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz is a writer and editor, and has worked as the Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works in the field of marketing and corporate communications. She loves literature and traveling. She tweets on @FarahnazZahidi. Her work can be seen at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/

In Pakistan, restaurants only care if you fast, but not if you pray

“Fast, pray, feast!” This attractive marketing tagline, alongside tempting pictures of food, is being circulated by a well-known eatery this Ramazan, as is the case every year. Not only is the food tempting, but also the deals. And why not? When one opens their fast at sunset in this most special month for Muslims, delicious food is but a must. But there is one issue. While they openly marketed the “pray” bit, there is no place for praying if you go to said eatery for an iftar deal. A young girl I spoke with who went there with her friend ...

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International Women’s Day: What if women started getting paid for household work?

“So do you work or are you just a housewife?” I remember being asked this question many times by people I was meeting for the first time. I also remember asking other women the same insensitive question, simply because I too, like so many of us, had been conditioned to only value work that gets remuneration in return. Looking back, the years during which I took a hiatus from work as a journalist, because I was looking after a home and my family, were the years I perhaps worked the hardest. Even physically. Imagine for a moment that the women all around us ...

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The lifafa culture and the materialistic desire to ‘earn’ more on Eid

Anybody who has grown up in Pakistan recognises that pretty lifafa (envelope) in pastel colours or in whites, embellished or plain, sometimes with just a name, at other times with loads of prayers written carefully. Inside, the coveted crisp notes and the smell of the currency printing press chemicals. These notes give many a banker sleepless nights during the last two weeks of Ramazan, as clients are ready to both beg and intimidate bank officials for fresh notes. Fifty ya 100 walay (ones). Five hundred walay. 1,000 walay. Even 5,000 walay if the family is upper tier. Getting eidi is the one time when we all enjoy feeling young because every one of us is ...

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Dear Ms Fiza Ali, how can you say Karachi has no culture?

They say the best way to discover a settlement’s “culture” is on foot. Try walking around on a busy street of my city (and yes, I say the “my” with a sense of unapologetic pride and ownership). Try sitting in a bustling chai dhaba here. Try taking a walk on one of its beaches on a crowded Sunday. Try experiencing the sights and sounds and smells of Karachi. Try and shun stereotypes and just enjoy the Karachi experience…. Karachi is the dream of a writer and a photographer and an anthropologist and of anyone who has an eye for detail ...

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Will the real liberal please stand up?

The recently held Karachi Literature Festival 2017 was a hub alright. But a hub of what? What it stands for, ideally, is not just celebrating books and authors, but also to serve as a hub for Pakistan’s beautiful minds that allow critical thinking and are truly progressive. Literature and the arts, on such forums, are designed to allow an open inflow and outflow of thoughts and ideas, and an exchange of not just narrative but also counter narrative. One counterfoil session of the KLF 2017 was introduced as a discussion on conflict-resolution through art and enterprise. One of Pakistan’s well ...

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Did Yasra Rizvi deserve to be trolled for her unconventional mehr?

When actress Yasra Rizvi set out to marry Abdul Hadi, little did she know that her claim to fame will be that she married a man 10 years younger and her mehr, which her husband agreed to, is Fajr prayer (obligatory morning prayers for Muslims). The couple was scrutinised harshly through the lens of a magnifying glass, and was trolled on social media for one simple reason – they dared to do something against the norm. And nothing scares us like what we do not understand. People are still familiar with the older-woman-weds-younger-man scenario, even though they see it as abominable, even those who harp on about how important ...

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The Junaid not many knew

Sitting here, writing a blog that is an obituary for Junaid Jamshed. This is surreal. It is unbelievable. And is an unpleasant and painful task, but one that I must carry out as someone who knew him well. Because he would have liked me to write this. For two reasons: Firstly, Junaid, or JJ, or Jay as close friends called him, was a people’s person. He did not mind the attention. He was used to it from a very early age. I remember asking him, during one of the three interviews of his I did spanning over two decades, whether ...

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Rehman Malik has left but his legacy of barring cellphone networks still lives on

My driver didn’t show up today. I could drive myself but then my other family members need the car too. None of us can call Uber or Careem because the apps are not working in the absence of mobile data services so we are stuck. My friend from college is in town for a day. I cannot reach out to her because the only way to contact her is via cell phone – I cannot expect her to check emails to figure out a plan. I had planned that she would come over; we would order something and hang out ...

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Why I shared the #ChaiWala’s picture

The piercing blue eyes. The stubble and the moustache. The attractive indifference. Blissfully unaware of the fact that thousands are ogling at him, he has become the hottest (pun intended) topic of debate, and has taken the internet by storm. Bad start to the blog? I can already hear echoing disapproving remarks in my head that I have been reading on Facebook walls of friends. We over-read and over-intellectualise everything nowadays. I do too. This is why I thought many times before I posted the undeniably handsome chaiwala’s picture. Should I post it? Or not? And why exactly am I ...

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Being a man isn’t just about masculinity

“But that’s how we guys are.” Is a common response when a woman asks a man about a few traits and attitudes that are seen as manly and macho. While walking on a street near you, in a mall, or even when couples enter weddings – a familiar scenario ensues. The husband can be seen walking a few steps ahead of the wife for sure, and the wife trudging behind him, adjusting her ensemble, trying to catch up. For Pakistani males, Def Leppard’s classic Two Steps Behind You is too mushy I’m sure. It is seen as some mark of masculinity to walk at least ...

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