Stories published in January, 2013

From the mouth of a Hazara

On January 10, 2013 more than 100 people, a majority of them Hazara Shias, were killed in bomb blasts in Quetta. The killing prompted a four-day long sit-in by the families of the victims.  I just wish that I could have sat with the mourning families at Alamdar Road to protest against the ongoing killing of Shia Hazaras. I talked to a few people in Quetta, and a classmate of mine narrated to me the stories of mourning and scenes at Alamdar Road through emails. My classmate’s young married cousin perished in the bomb blast at Bacha Khan Road. Here I will try to accurately narrate the story of grief I was told of that young ...

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Zindagi Gulzar hai: Liberating women in different ways

“Zindagi Gulzar Hai” is a series far better than any I have seen in a long time. The drama is based on Umera Ahmed’s novel “Zindagi Gulzar Hai?” – a story about the daily diaries of two polar opposites, Kashaf and Zaroon, who are first tied in the bond of hate, then love and finally matrimony. At first, the meeting of Kashaf and Zaroon seems like a Pakistani adaptation of Elizabeth Bennet’s and Mr Darcy’s first encounter from Pride and Prejudice. This, to any female, portrays irresistible on-screen chemistry, and one is smitten by the love story right away. However, the drama touches upon many ...

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Protests and panic buying

Another day, another rally, another series of problems for the capital’s administration and residents. The first mass protest of the year is on the cards, and the track record of our devoted patriots — those who throw rocks, bricks and shrapnel at everything in sight to show their love for the country — has left the city in panic. Rumours of fuel and food shortages have led to long queues at petrol pumps, despite assurances from the big oil companies that there are no supply problems. In fact, when I asked a staff member at a petrol pump in F-7 why ...

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Restored faith in Qadri

As I write this, Dr Tahirul Qadri is moving towards Islamabad with thousands of supporters. Nobody is certain about the fate of this much publicised and controversial political game. Commentators are busy analysing this sudden political gimmick and predicting various consequences of this development. Most major political parties are opposing the march. No one can deny the importance of public pressure over the ruling elite which can serve as an important corrective mechanism if exerted the right way. But the sudden emergence of Dr Qadri and the ambiguity of his ultimate agenda have raised many questions in the minds of people. At this ...

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Eating Fatburgers in Karachi’s urban badlands

This short story is inspired by the Bloomberg article: Pakistan Loving Fatburger as Fast Food Boom Ignores Drones.   “Jahangir! Fatburger has come to town – it’s time baita, its time…” The mobile phone slipped from his hands. Eight years. Eight years had passed since Jahangir had visited a newly opened foreign fast food chain in the upscale urban badlands of Karachi. Since then, much had changed in the dark metropolis, but as he lay shaking on his bed, Jahangir could still smell French fries gone soggy…with blood. He could still see in his mind’s eye, a jostling dark mass of screaming, orc-like beings with beards as long ...

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I found a little bit of Pakistan in Hong Kong!

I have been an expat for three years now and I still can’t get over it. My husband assimilates much better than I do. He is able to adjust to change in a way that is silent and not at all messy. He talks about the new place, adjusts to his new time zone and continues to talk about surroundings in a happy-go-lucky sort of a way. His wife writes angry blogs and rants to fellow neighbours about the lack of dhaniya (coriander) and goes off in search of curry leaves to a place where no woman has gone before. Okay, that ...

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In Karachi, fear is always your faithful companion

We are the sons of Karachi. We grew up knowing danger like knowing how to ride a bicycle – memories that refuse to wear down with time. We have lived our lives with fear as a close companion. We boast the epitome of valour. One too many a time, for one too many of us, it has taken away more than it can give back – notwithstanding, we love Karachi. Uncertainty has taken a firm hold on our hearts – and it taught us how to live despite that. We heard bullets and hid under the table when we were kids. Then we lay sleepless ...

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How do you live in a country that’s killing you?

I’m not in Pakistan at the moment, but whenever I travel I leave my heart behind in its hands for safekeeping. I keep thinking about it, like a woman thinks about her beloved, talking to people about it, looking for news about its well-being. So it was with horror that I learned about the bombing in Quetta on January 10 that killed nearly a hundred Shias as they were at a religious gathering. On the same day, bombs went off in Swat and Karachi, killing yet more innocent people. We lost a wonderful human rights activist, Irfan Ali, who had attended last year’s ...

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Lincoln: Steven Spielberg’s new oscar-contending masterpiece

To get right to the point Lincoln was a great movie. What made it so? Well therein lays the romp. Time and Memorial writers have vainly tried to measure the chalice of greatness from comparisons to Greek mythology to the use of words that are rarely entertained by the common man’s diction. My belief is that the explanation lies in simplicity. What is it that garners tones of reverence and sparks the flame of excitement when an audience sees the “directed by Steven Spielberg” credit flash on a screen? It is his uncanny ability to tell a story. The bedrock of his success ...

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Public transport woes

Women cursed as they inadvertently poked each others’ flesh while making way for a new passenger. The new middle-aged commuter was equally vocal about her frustrations as her feet forced their way on the footboard. With half her body suspended in air, she was finally heading home after an hour long wait. This is a scene you witness almost every other day if you belong to the 99% of Pakistani nation. Cars and motorcycles pass by commuters quickly, while they wait for the multi-coloured buses to appear on the horizon. Each soul at the bus stop hopes the approaching bus sports ...

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