Stories published in August, 2011

The Smurfs is a flop!

The Smurfs is a 3D adaptation of our beloved childhood cartoon, but this time the blue Smurfs drown in the deep blue sea, and even Neil Patrick Harris, who has proven he can save just about any sinking ship, cannot make this boat float. For those unfamiliar with the concept, The Smurfs are mythical characters who come from a magical village. Each Smurf is named after its personality trait. The 3D animation starts off with a vibrant essence of colours, showing happy, joyful Smurfs living harmoniously in their village which is magically isolated from the human eye. The Smurfs keep away from an ...

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Anna Hazare’s movement: An invitation to anarchy

Amidst the din, noise, and clamour against corruption in India in the past week, there is a deafening silence – the silence of political class. This is the first time democratic India is witnessing a popular televised revolt against the institutions of democracy, the inefficacy of the democratic system to deliver, and the ineptitude of the political class who are at the receiving end of the anger of the middle class din the country. This revolt is being led by non-political players. A group of civil society members under the leadership of a veteran, anti-corruption crusader, Anna Hazare, have come ...

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10 assorted additions to Pakistani culture

Whether they prompt you to scratch your head in puzzlement, raise your eyebrows in disbelief, or crack a spontaneous smile, life’s little idiosyncrasies break the monotony of one’s daily routine. Expats in particular have a fondness for quintessential elements of Pakistani culture that may be annoying when you live here, but are endearing when you’re away. Here are a few, chosen at random: 10. Go-Gos: Chanting “go” is a universal cheer, (like ‘Go team! Woohoo’) but to feisty Pakistanis, it literally means LEAVE. Example: “Go (head-of-state) Go!” 9. Outdated expressions: Verbal relics from the Colonial era include: “Can I have your “good ...

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‘Zaid Hamid told me so’

After a hiatus of few months, Zaid Hamid is back in the news and regrettably – though not surprisingly – for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, his labeling of SAFMA as an extension of RAW, didn’t sit too well with the SAFMA people and they have decided to press libel charges against them. A week before this new development, a few friends and I met him at his house: The assistant introduced us and left. The desk, the comfy seat, the black monitor and sheets of papers scattered all over the table were a shock. I was expecting a middle-class ...

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A product of the 2000’s tries to make sense of 1980 Karachi violence redux

When Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Rawalpindi, my family and I were in one of the last cars to cross the Islamabad motorway toll booth before the city went into total lockdown. In the midst of the shock, anger and fear felt in the capital as it nervously eyed its neighbour, one image would particularly stick: the receptionist at the hotel leaning forward across the counter saying in a terrified whisper, “Aap log… Karachi say hain?” [Are you folks from Karachi?] The TV was on in the background, and for the first time we were forced to tell frantic ...

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Maulvi breaks a leg – literally

I was 6-years old. Images of a long beard, flecks of spit flying out of an infuriated mouth, and an unforgiving cane had robbed me of my sleep.  I was sobbing miserably, twisting and turning in my bed, in the middle of the night while my-eight-year-old sister tried desperately to console me. My hysteria must have awoken my father, who came in to my room and asked in alarm: “What’s wrong, my jaan?” “I’m very scared of Maulvi sahab” came the reply from my quivering lips. My infuriated father probed me and prodded me as to what the Maulvi sahab had done ...

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You are no legend, Cesc

Dear Cesc, It seems that you’ve decided to return to Barcelona, your boyhood club where you took your first formative steps in football, which also happens to be the place of residence for your family. Fair enough. And who could blame you? Who wouldn’t want to play for the world champions, the team that plays the ‘most attractive football,’ the one that is being heralded as ‘the greatest team in history’ by pundits world over. The team in which more than half your World Cup winning Spanish teammates play. Kudos to you for attracting an interest from a team of that ...

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Yes, we can…live without foreign aid

Unbeknown to most, the Pakistan Army does not need to adhere to unreasonable American demands because of its dependence on American aid. The Pakistan army has enough financial resources to meet its most immediate needs – the operations in FATA – and to completely modernize its creaky armoury. Simply put, the Pakistan Army doesn’t have to wince at American threats to withhold aid. Never mind the TV pundits who warn of doomsday lest America stops giving us aid, because it might actually herald some desperately-needed reforms. Let’s look at one of the least obscure illustrations of our military’s largess: Lahore cantonment ...

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Political journalism vs Business journalism

Business journalism receives little attention in Pakistan. My observation is that most newspaper readers don’t read the business section the way they read the news, sports or opinion pages. Few newspaper readers have a favourite business writer. Of all the well-known journalists, op-ed writers (opinion and editorial), and analysts in our print media, hardly anyone specialises in business and the economy. Despite readers’ general apathy, the fact remains that business journalism matters more than political journalism. The op-ed pages of Pakistani newspapers are full of opinions and editorialisation. But you’d ask, “Isn’t that what op-ed is supposed to be:opinion and editorial?” Well, ...

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Old movies and how cool they are

Call me old-school, call me outdated, but one of my ideas of fun family entertainment is watching classic movies. My sheer fondness for these movies is both appreciated and made fun of by people my age. I developed this fondness early on, when my dad made me watch Citizen Kane. Citizen Kane, he told me, is considered the Mount Everest of Hollywood classics along with Gone With The Wind and Casablanca, or in simple words, the greatest of the greatest. Back then I was completely uninterested in watching something in black and white since it clearly implied being old-fashioned (or so I thought). As a little ...

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