Stories published in September, 2010

Photo Essay: Surviving with a smile

I am a traveler. When I was six years old I was flying to the moon in a make-shift cardboard space ship now I travel to Rome, Marakesh and Indonesia in the span of one year. I try not only to immerse myself in a village, city or country but also its soul.  This week end for the first time in my life, I felt like I experienced the soul of Pakistan. At a camp in Sehwan Sharif for internally displaced persons (IDP) I witnessed need, desperation, anguish and pain but also laughter, smiles and gratitude. In the West we associate the ...

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Auntysville

All of us know them. Whether it is a wedding, a funeral or a birthday party there they will be asking questions, making oh-so-helpful suggestions and gathering information to file away for future reference – aunties! It may start innocently enough. But don’t be fooled by their innocent questions – otherwise you may regret it. 6:05 by the chaat table Aunty Jan: Beta, how are doing? And how many rozas did you keep? Bobby: Just kept a few. I fell sick one week before Eid and missed a few. Aunty Jan: Oho! You must take care of your health. Get well soon. Say my salaam ...

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Shobhaa has her day

Feisty, clever and – at times – abrasive, Shobhaa De has penned a plethora of electrifying books which, in their unorthodox appeal, have astounded critics and readers alike. The shock value of her work is as rich as her thoughtful renderings of Bombay, Bollywood, child-rearing, marriage and national pride. And yet, her writings have always been viewed skeptically on account of their sheer originality. On the other extreme, the element of subversion that is dominant in her work has always made one wary of her. It is this incongruous treatment of her novels that has baffled me ever since I ...

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Sacrificing education for floods

As the aftermaths of the deluge begins to unfold, the national economy has started to cringe under the weight of the losses incurred. With the flood waters having affected nearly one-fifth of Pakistan’s land-area, we can only start to imagine the total damage. On one hand, power generation units and fuel supplies have been battered and on the other, the huge losses in crops and livestock weigh heavy on our agrarian economy. To top things off, governmental neglect has been utterly baffling. Not only is there absolutely no crisis management strategy on ground, there also seem to be no economic policies ...

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Ijaz Butt needs to shut it

Minutes after we won the 4th ODI at Lords my Facebook news feed was flooded with jubilant cries of victory. Cricket runs in our blood, and no matter how hard it becomes, how let down we are, a victory in cricket is special for us. Some of the people rooting for Pakistan cricket on Facebook were big skeptics who stopped believing in the team at the smallest sign of danger, while others were those who held out hope for the Pakistani team in the aftermath of the news of the world allegations.  This victory has got them believing and rooting for ...

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For those who haven’t donated…

I was endlessly going on about how fundraising for the flood survivors has developed into some kind of a competition among various organisations, all indefatigably striving to outdo each other, when my wife suddenly interrupted. “What are you doing to help them?” she said. “Nothing that I know of.” A pause followed. After struggling to find some face-saving answer, I naively replied, “Don’t know yet.” “Donate through an NGO, perhaps?” she suggested. “Hmmm… but I don’t trust them.” “Then what else will you do?” Good question. I wanted to help, make a difference… but how? Perhaps the events that followed the earthquake in the country’s north in ...

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A new system of education

The idea is simple and yet has the potential to make a big difference. I suggest a National Education Service be setup in Pakistan which makes it compulsory for all college and university students and graduates to spend six months to one year teaching in remote parts of Pakistan. The dynamics of the process like curriculum, rotation and teaching structure etc. can be worked on – it won’t be rocket science – but as a start it might help to make enlistment to this service compulsory for all people to serve in areas far away from their domicile. Advantages The ...

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Dreams of grandeur for Pakistan’s elite

There are several armies in Pakistan. First are the regular Faujis. They’re a dependable lot; one can generally rely on them to own a vast amount of land, produce decent quality corn flakes and stage a military coup every decade or so. Then there is the army of God. This is a versatile lot – they function as terrorists, loony ideologues, charitable organisations and scapegoats and fodder for dozens of conspiracy theories. Lastly, there is the great army of liberal Pakistanis who represent enlightened moderation. Oh wait, just kidding. Let me rephrase that: lastly, there is a minuscule group of elite Pakistanis ...

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Futsal is the new football

Pakistan is a poor country and one of the primary reasons for the lack of growth in football is the unavailability of resources and facilities. Most of the grounds are mud grounds and in a terrible state. This has kept many people away from football as they are unwilling to play on these grounds. In recent times ‘futsal’ has seen tremendous growth in Pakistan. The primary reason being that various locations are available for playing it. Futsal is a smaller version of football in which there are five players per team and the field is approximately the size of a ...

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Making the right call

While Sunday may be synonymous with snooze-fest among most work-goers, yesterday was a particularly restless day for nurses from a nursing institute in Punjab. The nurses took to the streets along with members of civil society to protest against the expulsion of a number of their brethren from the institute for using mobile phones during work – a decision taken by EDO Health, Doctor Mukhtar. Leaving aside the claims and counter claims to police mistreatment during the expulsion, I stand by Dr Mukhtar’s decision to penalise this misdemeanor. Nurses should not be allowed to use their mobile phones during work hours ...

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