Stories published in June, 2011

Notes from the underground: ‘Most people don’t listen to folk rock’

The underground music scene in Pakistan is replete with an array of diverse talent. Bilal Mehmood and Mohammed Abbas bin Yaser are testament to this facts. The enterprising duo has proved themselves worthy of accolades by winning the online cover-song competition organised through the official website of Yusuf Islam (aka Cats Stevens). Participants were required to upload their own renditions of Yusuf Islam’s songs on his official website and the popularity of each entry was gauged through Facebook likes. The duo covered “The first cut is the deepest” – one of Cat Stevens’ most popular songs from the 60s – and ...

Read Full Post

Capital encroachment: Laws, promises and a delicious piece of pie

“Silence is a source of great strength” – Lao Tzu As an optimist will confirm, waking up is supposed to be the best part of the day. It doesn’t matter what time you wake up, or what sleep cycle your body follows, waking up full of energy is part of the charm of facing a new day and the new challenges that come with it. So why this weak feeling? Maybe it’s the school up your street. Maybe it’s the office next door. Maybe it’s the VVVVVIP next door (they love their V’s don’t they?), or maybe even ...

Read Full Post

Is it time for gay rights in Pakistan?

Earlier this month, for the first time in its history, the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to protect and uphold gay rights universally. The US Department of State successfully lobbied to bring under the banner of universal declaration of human rights, equal rights for lesbians, gays, and transgender people. The resolution was passed with 23 affirmations against 19 disavowals. While some of us celebrate this momentous turn in attitudes, it is sobering to note that it took the UN this long to recognise the oppressive violence faced by homosexuals everybody and to finally declare that yes, gays are human ...

Read Full Post

Brighter futures: Kids, and their dream cars

The Dream Car Art Contest is an international event organised by Toyota for children to explore their imagination and design the car of the future. It is the only competition of its type held in Pakistan where children, as well as parents, can learn and realize that cars nowadays are designed by transportation, industrial and automotive designers, rather than engineers. The children, who took part in the 5th Dream Car Art Contest, might have been young, but they were also aware of problems around them. Most entries by Pakistani children revolved around solving their country’s problems. It made me proud ...

Read Full Post

Aftermath of Sepp Blatter’s (s)election

Sepp Blatter might have been re-elected as Fifa’s president for his fourth term but many question the prospect of whether his victory makes the world’s most powerful sports body any stronger. Not only were the elections held under the shadow of fierce criticism and corruption allegations, but to be honest, Sepp Blatter won the presidency not because the member associations had faith in him, but because he was the sole candidate left to elect after Mohamed Bin Hammam withdrew from the two-man contest. However, the allegations that surfaced during the elections have stained the integrity and unity of Fifa and it ...

Read Full Post

Functional cities need mass transit

Much has been said and written about lack of predictable and efficient public transport system in Pakistan’s major cities – to no avail. Former mayor of Karachi, Mustafa Kamal, who built a swirling network of flyovers and signal-free corridors during his four-year tenure, was smarter than that to realise, and voice, that adding more roads was only a short-term solution. True unclogging of our major cities’ blocked arteries would happen when you remove a significant number of vehicles from the road, which is only possible when you provide commuters with a viable public transport option. But the argument for a mass ...

Read Full Post

Money 101: Workplace matters

The workplace is somewhere we head to in order to earn money and yet discussing money in the workplace is one of the most difficult topics to bring up. Do your own thing Starting from something basic as lunch orders – in most urban workplaces the current trend is to order in and split the costs. In this situation the financially prudent individual who brings lunch from home or wants to pay exactly Rs99 for his one order of fries can find himself/herself being labeled as a bad sport, kanjoos and so on. And given that you end up spending 9-10 ...

Read Full Post

MV Suez’s return: Why did it take 10 months?

In an overwhelming and emotional sight, the sailors of MV Suez finally returned to their respective countries after the drama that unfolded in the wake of the crew’s abduction by Somali pirates last year. The crew seemed to weather all storms – from long drawn negotiations to the ship being attacked more than once after it was released. And as if that was not enough, the rescue mission threatened to snowball into a diplomatic row with what was described as ‘dangerous manoeuvres’ by Indian naval ship INS Godavari. However, as the high strung episode comes to an end, serious questions need ...

Read Full Post

‘How could you serve breakfast to a Hindu?’

Early one morning, a few days ago, I left my hometown Umerkot for Mirpurkhas with some friends. On the way we stopped for breakfast at a roadside cafe. What followed was an incident that left me shaken, although it involved no violence. While we were eating, a man with a long beard approached the café owner. We could clearly hear the conversation. He was telling the owner off for having served breakfast to us: “Tum Hinduon ko bhi nashta karwate ho?” (So, you serve breakfast to Hindus too?) The owner responded: “Kisi ke maathay pe likha hua nahi hota ki koi Hindu hai ya ...

Read Full Post

Huma Abedin: Refusing to be humiliated

Generally, the world loves to side with famous women whose celebrity husbands’ extramarital escapades are chronicled by scandalous headlines. Judging by the smorgasbord of sympathetic magazine covers, TV chatter and internet buzz that supported the marital tribulations of Maria Shriver-Kennedy-Schwarznegger (her ‘Governorator’ husband’s affair with their housekeeper that resulted in a ten-year-old son), Elin Nordegren-Woods (whose golfer husband Tiger’d it out with countless prostitutes) and, of course, Jennifer Aniston-Pitt (who continues to get public sympathy six years after the Brangelina coupling), Huma Abedin-Weiner should be the public’s darling by now. Instead, she seems to be bearing the brunt of the ...

Read Full Post