Stories published in December, 2010

2010: The year my mother didn’t die

The eve of a new year brings hope and the promise of positive expectations to all. There is a chance to believe in dreams again. A hope that the resolutions left unfulfilled last year may finally be achieved in the new one. I was also excited about the year 2010. It would be the year when I would go back to my beloved Pakistan after completing my higher education in the UK. I was excited about meeting my family and rediscovering my home city , Lahore from the eyes of someone who has been away from home for so long ...

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Pak-China friendship: ‘Win-win’?

Forgive this little presumption of an open letter to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (there could very well be another Ministry in charge, one is not singling out here) but in its eternal labour of serving the country, one finds their toil riddled with well-meaning bugles or inadequacies. Responsible as they always are for ‘communicating’ the government’s will and intent , they are also its welcoming hand, proffering it through street sign or billboard to all foreign dignitaries that may visit the country or the capital. Of course this is its mandate. Recently in greeting the Chinese premier, Islamabad ...

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Are animal rights even an issue?

A couple of years ago, a relative of mine met a government employee whose job is the eradication of stray dogs. By profession, he is a dog shooter. He roams the streets searching for strays, and shoots them on sight. Sometimes the first bullet only maims, and he must walk towards the dog to shoot again. He did not choose this job because it was to his liking; he entered this profession because it was all he could find as a means to feed his own family. After all these years of violence day in and day out, he is psychologically ...

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Sapna Babul ka Bidai soaps it up, Star Plus style

Question: Ever wondered how someone can stretch the lamest concept to such heights that it can span over 5,000 episodes? Answer:  So did I, till I had to go through the horror of watching a soap on Indian television called “Sapna Babul Ka Bidaai” (Marriage, the dream of a father). Narrated below is a scene between two sisters who apparently love and hate each other at the same time and yet they claim to be one big happy family. Rag-nee: What is up? Sad-henna: Nothing much, you tell oh dear cute lovely sister of mine? Rag-nee: Well, just waiting for my lovely, cute husband ...

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Surviving those teen years

It has been proven that teenage years are the most confusing for any individual. I would love to be able to share my rebellious teenage misdeeds, but sadly, there are none. I was, what one would call, a good kid. I had a decent set of grades, a dream of becoming a surgeon cum bass player and an inability to maintain my composure at the slightest hint of humour. I spent my days running around in pointless circles, arranging concerts and painting 60-square-foot play backdrops that no one would ever see again after opening night. With the boys I played music, ...

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Australia’s selection woes mount as England shines

The mauling Australia had to endure at the hands of England in the second Test of the Ashes at Adelaide has prompted wholesale changes in the squad. If Australia’s batting was a worrying sight, their bowling was lamentable to put it mildly. In fact, such is their plight in the spin department that there have been numerous calls for a comeback from legendary leg spinner Shane Warne, who is 40 years old now. England on the other hand won the Test match firing on all cylinders, and it would not be surprising if they go into the third Test, which start ...

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Secular or theocratic: State needs to deliver

The discourse on the secular versus religious state in Pakistan is almost always based on the personal alignments of the debaters. Routinely missed out though are the hard facts about the actual actors – people and institutions. If the average citizen is asked to describe in one word those who form this state, one can rest be assured that it wouldn’t be pious, modest, honest or trustworthy – the presumable attributes of momins and true Muslims. The state structure has its roots in the Delhi sultanate and then the Mughal Empire, which was established by Muslims from Central Asia. The true ...

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Zardari stands tall amidst disaster-struck Pakistan

With the intellect of a potato, the Punjab leadership recently banned sugar in all government offices. The cosmetic step left many offices with tasteless tea and coffee, and achieved absolutely nothing. The politician-owners of many sugar mills, in the sitting government, continue to print money with high prices while harping about their nonsensical policy to save sugar in government offices. Having said this, the Pakistan Muslim League is the most likely alternative available to the present federal government. The existing government is a symbol of inefficiency and corruption. But then, so were all the other previous governments. Our parliament consists of ...

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December 16: Bangladesh’s day of liberation

The newspaper headlines in Dhaka on December 16 gave me pause: “day of liberation”, “victory day” they proclaimed in big black letters emblazoned across the masthead of the papers. In Pakistan, isn’t this day perceived as a somber occasion where Pakistan was rent asunder by the forces of evil? The answer that was evading me while scanning the newspapers came to me when I saw these words of a Bangladeshi columnist. “The 16th of December 1971 was a day of transformation. It turned caged birds into free birds. On a single day, our life changed for the rest of our ...

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Forget love, I’d rather fall in chocolate!

Chocolate – the mere mention of this word sends shivers down my spine. You cannot even begin to imagine the lengths people go to, to get their favourite high. If you dig through history books, I’m sure you’ll come across at least a dozen wars that were fought for the love of chocolate – if this is not the case, then all historians are big-fat liars. People idolise TV stars and scientists, but I personally am a huge fan of Willy Wonka – heck, I’d even settle for one of the Oompa Loompas (don’t care if they are real or ...

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