Stories published in October, 2011

At least I can quote Shakespeare

I am majoring in English literature. The statement in itself does not sound too dramatic, so let me provide some context:  I am a Pakistani immigrant, living in New York, majoring in English literature.  Still, if someone is yet to see what I am trying to explain, let me clarify. Being an English major has led to several distinct issues that I now have to contend with. The first issue is majoring in English while attending a business school. Imagine a well-respected business school. Now, imagine someone who is in that business school and is more interested in Mary Shelley ...

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The wondrous world of ‘badvertising’

You have just come home from a stressful day of work and decide to unwind by sitting in front of the TV and indulging in some me-time. Just when you find a show that seems to strike your fancy, the channel decides you subject you to a commercial break. You let our an exasperated groan, and the torturous attacks on your nervous system begins. From shaking their booties to annoying jingles (remember 09-00-78601?) to cheesy plots – Pakistani ads have it all. The most aggravating part is that every channel decides to take their commercial breaks at the same time. There is ...

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International Urdu conference: Lack of hot debate

Karachi is a strange place. Every day there is a new calamity. Every day you hear shots being fired. Every day there is targeted killing. Every day tortured bodies are recovered from gunny bags. Then there is a break and life returns to normal and there is such hustle and bustle in the streets and bazaars that it appears to be a very peaceful and prosperous metropolis. It was during a break like this that I landed in Karachi. The Express Media Group had organised a two-day international Urdu conference. And it was truly international for it featured not only ...

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Thank you Mufti Sahab, for helping me out of the closet

From every angle, I am your typical Pakistani middle class urbanite twenty-something. There is nothing about my mannerisms, wardrobe or grooming that differentiates me from anyone in my social circle. However, even some of my best friends don’t know my deepest darkest secret, a secret that I have been suppressing for far too many years now: I am gay. This is a story of what made me come out to my best friends: a Mufti sahab. On Sept 6 2011, on the show Frontline, which is hosted by Kamran Shahid some panelists were discussing personal freedom in an Islamic society. The debate touched ...

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Truly special children

She sat there, on that tiny green chair, with her head resting on the hands folded before her on the table. She was a pretty little girl I thought to myself, her black hair contrasting beautifully with her alabaster skin. It wasn’t until she lifted up her head drowsily, gazing blankly at the instructor standing before her that the look of admiration in my eyes was muddled with tears of sorrow. She was visually impaired, to the extent that her left eye was a mere slit on her radiant face — she was special. The sympathy at that point was ...

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October 8, 2011
 Sidrah Moiz Khan

Would you marry your cousin?

A recent post “Why you should not marry your cousin” on the medical consequences of marrying within the family sparked intense debate on whether the tradition still has a place in Pakistani society. While many comments on the post contended that these marriages are permitted both in Islam and by Pakistani law most found them unappealing. In this video I asked a few young Karachiites whether they would marry their cousins. All of them say no. Besides the general “eww” factor which was the primary reason most interviewed gave for not marrying their cousins, a few said that they did not think it ...

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America loves me, America loves me not

It seems the world has moved on. While Europe is busy trying to save its drowning economies and make sure the Euro doesn’t fall, Middle Eastern states are basking in the light of Arab Spring. But almost a decade on, we are still floating in the abyss created by the war against terror. Let’s face it: Pakistan is a conundrum for the US. We are like the US’ illegitimate relationship which it cannot live with or without. Pakistan’s geopolitical value makes it a clinical yet irritable factor in this war against terror. What the US needs to understand is that it will ...

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Why we cannot win against the Taliban

The Islamic fundamentalists are on a slow path to victory. Faced with unsurmountable odds after 2001, nobody would have thought that this group of a few men would be able to stage such a comeback. It’s a funny thing, because many Taliban and Al-Qaeda commanders who are interviewed say that the fact that they are winning seems unreal to them. It sure is unreal – how can a small group with minimal access to advanced weaponry and technology, as compared to their enemies, be winning? The statistics are incredible; 80% of Somalia is under the control of al-Qaeda; 60% of ...

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Bleak prospects

A third of our population lives below the poverty line, and a majority of them are deprived of basic services including access to clean water, sanitation, health, education and even sufficient food. A recent report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), presented its outlook for Pakistan for 2011, which paints a rather gloomy picture of our economy: It predicts that national output will pick up modestly this year, and will be accompanied by unrelenting inflation and a weakening external financial position. Its estimate of 3.7 per cent for the increase in GDP for 2012 is considerably lower than the government’s ...

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3D: What’s in a dimension?

Two years ago, I saw, what was at heart, a simple tale of romance and ecology, disguised as a sci-fi adventure about blue monkey people. Avatar cannot claim to be the greatest story ever told, but it was told well, and more noticeably it was the banner bearer for what 3D movies could be. It quickly became the most successful movie of all time, pushing Titanic off of the top spot. The two films used to have only one thing in common, their director James Cameron, but next year they will have another – I await with some trepidation the ...

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