Stories published in September, 2013

Security checks: Why are military (looking) men and women exempt?

My husband and I had the dubious fortune of visiting a government office recently. Before we entered we were stopped at a security barrier as usual. My husband has a martial air about him, it seems, because they often mistake him for an army officer. In Lahore, that’s useful.  Not one to be left behind, I too can produce my alter ego when required, you know, as though there’s something smelly under my nose, like Mrs Malfoy, and that’s useful too. The security guard took one look at us two stiff necks in the back seat and his resolution ...

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Pakistani blood is cheap, but negotiations with the Taliban is an outrageous idea

A dead major general is nothing to be ashamed of. There are countries in our neighbourhood who have lost their presidents and prime ministers to the violence of dissenters. We ourselves lost a former prime minister and popular leader to bullets. For a country that gave away 50,000 lives, a dead major general and a dead ex-premier are nothing less than souvenirs. Their blood is the symbol of the country’s determination and steadfastness towards the right cause. This is the sad stance that most of us have taken so far. However, now, with attempts to reach a settlement with the Taliban, it can rightfully be ...

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Vital Signs: The soundtrack of my memories

Talking to one of my old friends, my pal of 21 years, and sharing some pictures from 1994 to 1998 with him, something really interesting struck me. My memories have a soundtrack. In simple words, each time I think of my school and college life, I hear background music; beautiful melodies of the days gone by but fresh in my memory forever. And not surprisingly, all of them are from the one and only, Vital Signs. It was in the fall of 1987 or ’88 when I first heard Dil Dil Pakistan. A school friend came to me one morning during break-time with her fancy new ‘walkman’ (remember those? Such a ...

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Is Roger Federer truly the ‘Greatest of All Time’?

It has been the year of comebacks so far; Justin Timberlake and our own prime minister would attest to that. There are fewer sights more exhilarating than a stirring rise of someone written off. Such a sight was found at Flushing Meadows in the last US Open final, as Rafael Nadal wrote another winning chapter in what is becoming a saga of the finest kind.  Nadal, while battling weak knees and a congenital foot condition, added another US Open crown to his collection, bringing his tally to 13 grand slams. He now stands just one behind Pete ‘Pistol’ Sampras and ...

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Make the GRE agree with you! Here is how you can start prepping

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) isn’t just your ordinary test. The GRE is a test designed to measure the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing skills you have developed in the course of your academic career, particularly when you are aiming to go USA’s best graduate schools like MIT, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Georgia Tech; you have to encounter the GRE to study under such ‘consistently’ ranked-near-the-top-of-the-elite-school-slush-pile. Worldwide, about half a million people take the general test each year, while a much smaller number take the subject exams. As a non-native speaker, I was first a bit loathsome (yes, utilising GRE vocabulary) ...

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Bloodstained honour is not honourable at all

More often than not, I come across distressing stories about women  who are beaten, tortured, maimed, and in some of the worst cases, killed by male (and sometimes even female) members of their families. It never fails to surprise me when I learn that many of these cases are on account of an honour that was supposedly ‘stained’. This ‘staining’ hence serves as an excuse for people to resort to violence – violence against women, in particular – which has always been a global pandemic. One of the most recent of such horrid stories, or so-called ‘honour-killings’, occurred in Darra Adam ...

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iOS7: What’s all the hype about?

A recent tweet had me in hysterics: “Daddy, why has your phone gone all funny?” – A 6 year old’s reaction to the iOS7.  And that’s the new hype on online sites these days – The new Apple iPhone and iPad software upgrade – the iOS7. There were so many posts and tweets that I actually got confused because I thought Apple had launched the iPhone 6 so soon after the launch of iPhone 5c and 5s! However, after installing the new software and talking to people who have installed it, I realised that it is a major overhaul by Johnny Ives, ...

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US airport panic: Stopped because I was carrying a book called ‘The Taliban’

The mayhem surrounding the busy terminal of the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport was evaded by the striking and almost pin drop silence as the check-in machine – more precisely known as the explosive detection machine – started to beep breathlessly. What followed was not a very pleasant sight to witness, to say the least. The officers surrounding the terminal I was checking in through were overtaken by a wave of panic and confusion. Almost taken aback, the officers tried their best to veil the feelings of uncertainty and fear that were clearly visible through their faces. All this time the beeper ...

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Lamha: A progressive step in Pakistani Cinema

Released internationally as Seedlings, Lamha is the fourth Pakistani film to hit the cinemas this year. I should admit that I do not usually watch films like Lamha as I prefer madcap comedies and optimistic films more. However, watching Lamha the other day reminded me of a wonderful Mexican film, Amores Perros, which has certain qualities in common with the new Pakistani film.  One of the many narratives in Amores Perros involves a married couple who are clearly going through a rough phase. In Lamha, instead of showing a Pakistani drama type shouting match, the director explores the tension between the ...

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Teaching Comparative Religion: Lahore Grammar School did the right thing

Is it really wrong for our children to learn about other religions? A branch of Lahore Grammar School (LGS-55 Main), has introduced a subject titled ‘Comparative Religion’, which aims to “educate about Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism”. The course received considerable backlash, gaining mainstream attention following an episode of a talk show aired on ARY News, Khara Sach on September 16, 2013. In the episode, hosted by anchor Mubasher Luqman, the school was falsely accused of attempting to convert students to other religions, as well as ridding Islamiat from the curriculum following the sixth grade. Following this episode of Khara Sach, ...

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