Stories published in January, 2011

Shopping festival: Dubai’s crowning glory!

Yes, it’s almost that time of the year. There is a nip in the air, the winter rains are here and kids wear sweaters in the evening. Every day the Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk is full of people warming themselves over a cup of coffee. When friends start e-mailing to coordinate plans with me, their ‘Dubai friend’ I know the season has changed from winter to shopping. I have played host to many friends for the three years that I have lived in Dubai,  and have finalised  plans with yet another friend for the upcoming shopping season. This is perhaps the most ...

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The downfall of Pakistani cinema

Quite often I have noticed veteran directors, producers and actors from our local film industry on television screens complaining that Pakistani cinemas are greatly occupied with foreign films, further alleging that this has denied their own films’ access to local audiences. I personally feel that their attitude does not reflect a positive approach towards the issue of our diminishing film industry. By vehemently pressing for a ban on the screening of foreign films in Pakistani cinemas, they, rather than trying to raise their bars in terms of quality, are actually conceding to the fact that their films cannot compete on an ...

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Ashamed of the truth on a London bus

London was bathed in sunlight and the sky was a beautiful combination of azure and orange hues this morning. As  I stood at my window, staring out at the city, it seemed to stare back at me. I smiled but I felt London didn’t smile back. This morning I met a lady on the bus. A painfully prim and proper lady, the way most aged British women are. An Alice band was tucked in her hair, a basket of fruit was in her hands, a typically British floral dress peeked from beneath her typically tweed coat. As I sat down next ...

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Qingqis: What Karachi and Paris don’t have in common

Earlier this week government officials in Paris announced plans to ban Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and diesel fueled vehicles from entering the city centre. The move reminds me of an attempt to introduce CNG buses in Karachi. This was perhaps one of the first times that Pakistan made a serious move to address the increasing threat of urban congestion. However, CNG itself is a natural resource and should be preserved otherwise the whole world will be working on NGVs (Natural Gas Vehicles) instead of EVs (Electric Vehicles). As far as environment friendly transport goes ‘qingqis’ small electric vehicles, are the ideal mode ...

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Is there a Pakistan to go back home to?

Last week, my husband and I finally booked our return tickets to Pakistan. It was a proud moment, happy moment, not just because we had been saving to buy them for months, but because we had not been home in nearly two years. Two years! It seemed like a lifetime. We had missed much: babies, engagements, weddings, new additions to the family and the passing of old, new restaurants and cafés, new TV channels, even the opening of Lahore’s first go-karting park. I could hardly contain my excitement. Yet, my excitement was tainted by a very strange and disquieting thought – ...

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There are reasons to celebrate Pakistan

There’s no doubt that living in Pakistan one has to deal with perpetual bad news. Turn the television on, open the newspaper or just take a look around and you will see the problems that surround us. To avoid having to deal with the depression and stress caused by the situation we live in, a number of people I know have taken to not tuning into any news channels or ever opening a newspaper. A friend told me the other day that watching the news is ‘not allowed’ in her house and newspapers aren’t delivered anymore. Who can blame her? At ...

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What we can learn from Tunisia

Events in Tunisia have confirmed a simple but brutal fact about political power: no matter what ideology you hold, if you cannot feed your people, keep prices low, provide jobs and provide reason to be hopeful about future economic growth you will lose power and be kicked out by the power of popular protest. Ben Ali was a secularist but he was a brutal autocrat and quashed civil liberties and human rights with a vengeance. The Tunisian story has some grave lessons for the Arab world but also for the wider Islamic world. Of course, Tunisia and Pakistan are two ...

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Kiwis tour: Finally, a series win!

Pakistan drew the second test against New Zealand on Wednesday and claimed their first series victory since 2006. Just when it looked like Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan would make a win or draw for New Zealand inconceivable, the demise of Younus changed the setting; he had held the innings together with a superb and confident 81 runs. But unpredictability is what makes Pakistani cricket truly delightful; the opposition always has a chance. They are rarely locked out completely, and this makes for exciting cricket. What Younus’s dismissal meant – apart from a chance at victory for New Zealand – was ...

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Police check points: Learning to be less critical

Be it individuals or society as a whole, we rarely waste any opportunity to be critical. It seems to have become part of our nature. From the common man to the so-called intellectual class, we all are astute in passing out judgments. And the trend extends to the media as well. Anything positive hardly falls in the category of “breaking news”. On my way back home from work, I have to cross at least three police barricades, as do many of us. I will not be going into the merits and demerits of these check points. My focus, today, is on ...

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Liberals then, and liberals now

The lack of pluralism within our society is emblematic of our intolerance in general. I hate to be cynical, but it has always been this way and I fear that it shall remain so. There has been talk on these pages of a ‘liberal movement’ or ‘liberal activism’ as well as ‘liberal fascists/ liberal extremists’. The fact of the matter remains that left-of-centre social and political thought has never been the ‘done’ thing in this country. Ghosts of a leftist past In the early 50’s right up to the 60’s and 70’s, this country had some semblance of leftist thinking. There was ...

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