Stories published in July, 2011

It’s not easy being gay

I am a male. I am a Muslim. I am a Pakistani and I am gay. I come from a deeply religious family, where everyone prays five times a day and reads the Qur’an every day. I came to the realization when I was eighteen-years-old, while I was in a relationship with my first girlfriend. Even though I was with her, I did not feel any sort of attraction towards her. The only feeling that I felt for her was of a friendly affection, nothing more and nothing less. I say realization, but deep down I suppose I always knew that I ...

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Memories of the Gulf War

It is 1991. I am nine years old, standing in line with my father at the checkout counter of Fahad Supplies, a convenience store near my home in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The line isn’t long, but I am impatient: I want to tear at the hotdogs, fries, and the coke my father is carrying. My eyes dart at the cashier with dislike. He is an overweight Indian man, with a thin moustache, smug smile, and froglike eyes. In the afternoons, when I come here alone to buy bread, I often reward myself by flipping through the sports magazines. Of course, ...

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Manchester United: A different side, coming soon

The summer of 2011 will be one of major changes for Manchester United. Having finally replaced Liverpool as the most successful side in English League history, United are now set to begin the new season with a different and somewhat inexperienced squad compared to the one that recently lifted a record-breaking 19th league title in May. Long-serving defenders John ‘O Shea and Wes Brown have both joined Sunderland while the retirements of Paul Scholes and Edwin Van Der Sar, in addition to the retirement of Gary Neville in February, have left the English champions short of experienced players to match ...

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HRK: The politics of pretty faces

The media coverage of newly appointed Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s Indian tour is proving to be equally offensive either side of the border. Given Khar’s youth and her inexperience, there were already plenty of ‘ifs and buts’ floating among Pakistanis regarding her capabilities with respect to her new role, but it appears the media’s fascination with her wardrobe has trounced all performance related concerns. Indian electronic and print media has recently been reported calling the minister everything from “model-like” (Navbharat Times) and “Pakistan’s Best Face” (Times of  India) extending to insinuations about her being “drool worthy” as well ...

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Doctor se Rishta: A modest proposal

Recently a friend posted a Facebook link that read: “Gift-find for the single South Asian women on Facebook.” Falling into all the above categories – South Asian, female, and single – I felt obliged to follow his instructions, which led me to an online matrimonial service. Great, I thought. Just what the free world needs: another run-of-the-mill, Shaadi.com spin-off promising compatibility in the form of a mutual love for puppies, aloo ke parathay and Bollywood. But, after giving the website a proper look-see, I realised I had miscalculated. This was not your typical vanilla, hackneyed online dating site. No, this website came with ...

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Does your foreign minister own a Birkin?

‘What was she wearing?’ rather than ‘what was she saying?’ was the question that made the rounds during Hina Rabbani Khar’s Delhi visit this week. As she sashayed off the plane onto the tarmac, glamorous HRK touched down in Delhi amidst the Indian press, her cobalt blue dupatta billowing in the wind. As happy as I am that she is Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister, I have to ask this question (snarky as it may seem): Could she not have done without the Hermes Birkin? Before you brush me aside as a hater, let me clarify that I am a big supporter of ...

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Islamabad Diary: The extent of consensus around a polarising military leader

After The New York Times, followed swiftly by The Washington Post, idly speculated last month that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was on the way out, chatter in the capital has centred around the role of the army chief. The consensus, to the extent that there can be a consensus around a polarising military leader, is that Kayani has lost the plot but will leave only if he wants to. Those who come to bury Kayani always begin by praising him. One military official said were it not for Kayani, the army as an institution would be on life-support. He ...

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Martial law at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts

I just got back from the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). While there, I saw around 200 fauji jawans, in their camouflaged uniforms and big boots, take over the place. The big parking and most of the area in front of the facility, is totally shut down for the public as of now. For a moment, I thought, God forbid, martial law had been imposed. However, upon investigation, I found out that the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) is holding an event on the June 28 (tomorrow) and the prime minister will be the chief guest. Now I have seen Gilani ...

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Why saying ‘Scene On Hai’ is more important than you think

July is here and I know this because my friend N came barging into my room and aimed straight for the fan. “It’s so hot, God you can only wear shalloos.” “Shalloos?” “Shalwars, obvi.” And Kay for kameezes, obvi (That’s obviously shortened). This same friend owns a Jenny (generator), gets picked up by her perpetually late D (driver) and has a severe dislike of “meylas” because, you know, they’re such “shady boiz”. Welcome to Burger-speak. We don’t laugh, we LOL. We take English words in Urdu context, and mix and match as we please. It started out as misspellings on the internet and on ...

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Norway attacks: We will rise above through friendship and love

There is not a single day when we do not hear news of violence in Pakistan. Our country has been a survivor of terrorism since long. Thousands of children, women, and men have been killed; thousand of our soldiers have embraced martyrdom; and thousands of Pakistani citizens have been wounded in various acts of barbarism. So, while we are thousands of miles apart, we can still feel the sting of the Norwegian masses. Sufferings and sorrows of those in Norway and Pakistan are the same today. As we heal the wounds of our citizens, we are also sympathising with the ...

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