Stories published in April, 2013

Federer versus Nadal: Who is the greatest of them all?

Art is the purest form of human expression – free from the quagmire of social pessimism. The best way to appreciate it lies in the process of rising above vague parameters of judgment, which in their very design, are destined to create an infinite cycle of controversy.  Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are two modern day champions who epitomise art in sport. Watching these two greats grace the tennis court is akin to the privilege of observing Leonardo da Vinci paint Mona Lisa, or Beethoven author a masterpiece. It is with these thoughts that I attempt to write about two of the greatest champions ...

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At government hospitals, life is cheap

It is almost impossible to change the fate of those little children who depend on government hospitals to save their lives. Recently, I visited several hospitals in Karachi and the condition of those hospitals and the quality of the care provided to the children was disgraceful. The poor health system prevailing in Jinnah Hospital, especially, made my heart sink. There was no electricity and to my horror, a large number of insects and cats were roaming about in the wards aimlessly. The terrible stench from the toilets could be smelled till the far ends of the corridor, and to think that this is a hospital where cleanliness ...

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My mother’s lost letters

One memory from my childhood was watching my mom sit at the kitchen table with a pen and stack of lined loose-leaf sheets of paper to write one of her three sisters a long letter, handwritten in attractive Arabic script. This was one of the only activities that could draw my mom away from her rigorous daily routine of managing every family affair and caring for three daughters with boundless dedication. Taking the time to write letters was a rare respite for our supermom. She would become immersed in her thoughts and intently focus on the blank sheets in front of her, ...

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For the love of roti: The flatbread connection

Water, flour and salt, simple ingredients? In fact, they are, but magic takes place once you mix them together. Growing up in a Pakistani home, it was natural for me to see dough being kneaded everyday to make roti. I never paid much attention to it. I didn’t particularly like eating it either; it had a strong taste because of the whole-wheat flour. Once the dough was kneaded, it was portioned and rolled out with a rolling pin into large discs. Flour was applied while rolling out to avoid the roti from sticking. While all of this was happening, I was ...

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What war does to women

There is so much going on in the world. The clouds of war and violence seem to hover around the globe and there seems to be no end to this mayhem and chaos. Billions of military troops march out in the name of war and conflict every day. They fight against each other under the shadows of cannons, tanks, nuclear warfare, chemicals, gunfire and smoke. The fight goes on and on and when it ultimately ends (which it never does), we find them buried deep under the ground. They take cities, culture and heritage down with them, like they never existed. And ...

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A SWOT analysis of Pakistan’s political parties

The following is an analysis of our political parties gauged on their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT): Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Strengths: PML-N has a strong following in Punjab – the largest and most powerful province in Pakistan. Furthermore, it has a great alignment with right wing groups and religious circles. Major cities of Punjab have seen tremendous development during the last five years. Weaknesses: PML-N has not been able to carry out any substantial development in remote areas and far off villages of Punjab. It has teamed up with same old faces that previously supported and strengthened a dictator’s government. Opportunities: The poor performance ...

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Boston Blasts: What happens when the news and social media get it wrong

In today’s highly competitive climate, it seems that the race to reach the finish line first for journalists is more important than how they get there, or if they are even running in the right direction. In Pakistan, as Zarrar Khuhro explains so eloquently in his column, watching news break on local TV channels is only a little less painful than stabbing yourself in the ears with a screwdriver. Here, media outlets that win the breaking news race, finish like sore winners, beating their chests bloody till their sternums are cracked open.  “YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST! DID YOU HEAR THAT? ...

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General Musharraf: A fine specimen of bravery and stupidity

Having never liked the former military dictator-cum-politician, it is not very easy to present an unbiased case for Pervez Musharraf. Thinking back to the days when he assumed power after overthrowing Nawaz Sharif in a military coup, he had been hailed as Pakistan’s saviour for delivering it from a ‘corrupt and autocratic’ regime and from preventing Sharif from ‘declaring himself Ameerul-Momineen’. As a young boy, my firm distrust of the military man never went away, even after witnessing grown-ups close to me staunchly standing by the mentioned narrative – and myself being too politically naïve at the time to counter it. Generally ...

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No lamination paper, thus no passports for any Pakistani citizen

“May I help you?” asked the lady behind the counter.  “Yes, I’m here to renew my driver’s license,” said my husband candidly.    “May I see your passport and proof of your legal residence in the United States?” “Yes, here they are.” The lady glanced at my husband’s passport which had expired in March but still had a valid visa on it. My husband had applied for the renewal of his passport way back in January and by mid-April, we still had no news about it, except that our government had run out of lamination paper – seriously, it’s true. His passport was stamped ...

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On my sister’s death anniversary: Jasmines to ‘the daughter of the eastern stream’

Time is a great eraser, yet its weak opacity has failed to blur the loving memory of noted poet, short story writer, journalist, fine artist and columnist Abeda Iqbal Azad – my Apa, who passed away on April 20, 2012, leaving us behind in deep shock and sorrow. She was a great lady, a good person, a beautiful human being, a devoted wife and a shield for the family against all odds. Unlike just a conventional ‘big sis’ figure in the family, Apa stood with us in all our ups and downs, supported us through and remained involved inseparable till ...

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