Stories published in July, 2010

Do judge a book by its cover

A book’s cover design is more than just the artwork on the front and back, unimportant once we’ve plunged into the storyline.  In these days of limited readers and competitive markets, a good book cover screaming “I’m interesting! Buy me!” can make the difference between a sell-out and a washout. Early hand-bound books, had simpler cloth or paper covers with little design. Decorative covers and printed book designs became common when mechanical methods of book-binding were introduced. The cheap production of books in abundance meant that more attention could and had to be spent on cover design. In the early 20th century, ...

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Confessions of a desensitized journalist

As Pakistanis we should now all be well versed with disaster coverage. Bomb blasts, terrorist attacks, violent protests, military operations, natural disasters – you name it and we have seen it all. However, instead of making us more proficient at covering tragedies, the influx of disastrous situations seem to have worked in reverse. For media personnel these situations are double disasters. The more serious the disaster is, the worse the situation in the newsroom becomes. As I started writing the first script for a television news package regarding the rescue operation at Margalla Hills crash sight, I was rudely reminded time and again, by ...

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A collective approach for good

Growing up, I’m pretty sure that most Pakistani kids never heard, “Mera beta, social entrepreneur banai ga!” I’m also pretty sure that most kids in the Western world would have never heard that either. Social entrepreneurship is still a fairly new concept in the developing and developed world, and since the term is often associated with non-profit or voluntary work, it doesn’t seem to sit quite as well with individuals looking to make a significant chunk of change or parents who would prefer that their children become successful businessmen, lawyers, doctors or engineers. And who can blame them? The ...

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No trains, more pain

With the revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) being a distant dream, the suspension of Shalimar Express and five other passenger trains have added to the miseries of commuters. The decision by the Pakistan Railways (PR) to suspend six trains has deprived the vast majority of people of a cheap mode of transport. The timing is particularly upsetting as summer is peak traffic time with schools off and people traveling upcountry for vacations. It is upsetting to see yet another burden dumped on the people of this country who already have to bear the brunt of rising commodity and utility prices. ...

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Stop analysing the Airblue tragedy

Exactly 24 hours ago from when I write this, someone was having breakfast on a plane chatting about his plans for the next two days. Two rows ahead, someone was preparing for an interview. Another might have been thinking about his wife. Or maybe he was disturbed by the nonstop chatter of children sitting behind him. Yet another soul was snoring peacefully, catching up on her sleep debt. Obviously, this is all speculation. We’ll never know the truth. No one lived to tell the tale, you see. Because in a matter of minutes, the plane they were sitting on would be forced to ...

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Selling the idea of ‘family’

If we look around us, we see a lot more working women, some single parent families, many grandparents raising children, but advertising is still shying away from reality. So why still this fascination with the stereotypical portrayal of family in advertising when the reality is that life is fast changing? The big question is: does this fascination with old fashioned families in advertising really work?  Women in traditional domestic roles? Joint families? I raise this question in the context of the social break down of the traditional family values, structures and systems that are so visible all around us.  We see modernism ...

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What are we worth?

I knew six of the 152 passengers and crew on the ill-fated Air Blue Flight 202 personally. They were friends – not very close – but friends nonetheless. Two more among the passengers I didn’t know in person, but knew about. The initial news had shocked me to the core. Until then, I wasn’t aware my friends were on board and I watched the national tragedy like the rest of Pakistan on television. The messages of the deaths started to pour in late afternoon, when the news spread from family to relatives and then friends. Four of the crew members were ...

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We truly know nothing: afterthoughts to the Airblue crash

We have our lives planned out, we think we know how our day will proceed – the housewife will do the daily chores, others will spend an endless day at work, some have a party planned in the evening, some have deadlines to meet, there’s a birthday coming up, an estranged friend we think we’ll finally talk to today… we plan and plan some more, not knowing the whole time that we know nothing. How does this realization hit us? For the most part of our lives actually it does not; not until there is a tragedy to offer a ...

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How to dhamaal in New York

The Sufi Music Festival organized by Pakistani Peace Builders (PPB) in Union Square was the closest I’ve gotten to Lahore in three years. And was it a treat. Think food street, Salt N’ Pepper, faludas, kulfis, funny but poignant commentaries on rickshaws, naani force feeding you, freshly picked jaaman, all thrown in one – then, multiply this by a thousand. And add in some jasmine and rose necklaces and bracelets. And that still doesn’t compare. Despite the sweltering 90-something degree heat and the sun beating down on the New York concrete, hundreds if not thousands of people showed up for ...

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What went wrong with Airblue ED 202?

Airblue flight ED-202 crashed with 152 people on board — 146 members and 6 crew members — a tragic event indeed. However, some key issues need to be discussed. 1. The pilot had retired from PIA after that airline’s retirement age of 60 – he then got a job with Airblue – whose retirement age is 65. 2. Several comments on our website suggest that out of two runways in Islamabad, the ILS (Instrument Landing System) is operational for only one of the runways — one is runway 12, the other is runway 30. ILS enables air traffic on the ground to guide a ...

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