Stories published in October, 2013

Want to marry your cousin? Think again!

Cousin marriages have been very common in the subcontinent and this may be one reason why quite a large number of people in our rural areas are so unhealthy. I personally know two families whose members are the products of many generations of inbreeding. In one family – distant relatives of mine – many children are deaf and consequently unable to talk. The head of the family reacted with amazement when told that his children and grand-children suffered from various birth defects because of cousin marriages in his household. In fact, many doctors advised him to stop arranging marriages of his ...

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A Pakistani in Amsterdam: Sexual harassment has no geographical location

As I climbed the stairs to my apartment, I could feel my legs giving up and my heart throbbing in my throat. I did not know if my friends realised what damage I had just incurred as we exited the bar nearby our apartments. The experience rendered me silent in shock, which is why I only walked away, hoping to reach home safe and sound, instead of smashing the faces of those two men who stereotyped, harassed, heckled, and belittled me in broad daylight. After dinner, two of my American friends and I left the bar for home. At the doorstep, ...

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Air travel: Royal treatment only if you are not Pakistani

I have realised of late that flying is no longer as enjoyable as it used to be, especially transit travel or stop-over flights. This realisation hit me recently when I travelled from London to Islamabad and had a stop-over in Dubai. The journey began well with the flight from London to Dubai well-equipped with the latest gadgets and gizmos; the air hostesses were polite and smiling; and there was a general aura of comfort and relaxation. However, this comfort did not last long and there was a world of difference in the connecting flight from Dubai to Islamabad. The plane itself was ...

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What if Muhammad Amir was guilty even before the spot-fixing scandal of 2010?

Banned fast bowler, Muhammad Amir is the talk of the town once again. He is young and obviously talented, and so is being missed on the cricket fields but alas, his ban lasts until September 2015. Before the notorious spot fixing scandal of 2010 he could have walked into any team but today, he had to wait even to get into the domestic circuit! I am not a legal expert, so I am not be equipped to comment on the legalities of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s desperation to get Amir’s sentence reduced or at least find a way for him ...

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Kankar: Standing up for the abused woman

Hum TV has outdone itself once again by airing the drama serial, Kankar, which is unfortunately, the story of every other household in Pakistan. What is even more remarkable is that as the plot unfolds, we find the lead actress making decisions that most would not have the guts to make in real life.   In this serial, Hum brings to light the matter of physical abuse, highlighting that this downright degradation of women is not limited to the lower echelon of society; in fact, it is prevalent among the educated and affluent class as well. Marvellously penned by Umera Ahmed – the author ...

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Living on the Edge: it’s entertainment not ethics!

TV is for entertainment, not for preaching. If it is messages on morals that you want, we have schools. So don’t judge a reality show like Living on the Edge from Oprah’s eyes or from an ethical angle; judge a reality show for the entertainment that it provides. Write-ups like Cruelty to animals is not ‘Living on the Edge’ discourage Pakistani initiative; why can’t our people learn to appreciate rather than putting people down all the time? Surprisingly, even the Hindustan Times wrote good things about our show at the launch of Roadies Season 9 while in Pakistan, people are only propagating ...

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Family day: ‘Staring male’ species not allowed — unless with a female …

This Eid, I ordered my kurta from an outlet in Park Towers and I was meant to pick it up after alterations on chand raat. When I got there, I was stopped at the gate and told quite rudely by the security guard that, “Today is a family day” He put his arm in front of me to block me from entering. “What do you mean? I can’t go inside?,” I questioned, to which he responded “No. You have to come with your family. Single men are not allowed inside today.” I even showed him the receipt for my kurta in an attempt to substantiate my ...

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Nawaz Sharif visits Obama, but the US is a ‘master’, not a ‘friend’

The title, as many would have noticed, is one inspired by Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s book, Friends not Masters. However, with the passage of time the Pak-US friendship has deteriorated and unfortunately, we are no more their equals. A stark comparison can be seen between Ayub’s era and the present. In 1961, when the president of Pakistan landed in Washington, the US military forces were lined up to receive him. There was fanfare and the Pakistani flag waved in all its glory above them. The American public was present at the airport alongside the legendary President Kennedy and the First Lady to ...

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Why I will never return to the USA

After a year of travelling, I had planned a last, short trip. I was going to take the train from Montreal to New Orleans. The travels I had been undertaking earlier this year had brought me to places that were meant to form the background of my second novel. This trip however was for my dad. A trumpet player, he loved New Orleans and had died a year ago. It felt like the first sensible trip I undertook this year. I had been searching for ways to forget about the last hours at his deathbed. He had been ill for ...

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When a loved one dies

How do people cope with death and loss of a loved one? Dumbledore’s response to this, ‘To the well organised mind, death is but the next great adventure,’ This was interesting because truly, how people cope with death does appear to depend largely on the mind of the person (or persons) involved.  More specifically it depends on the individual’s answer to the question; which is the final frontier, life after death, or the act of dying itself? In other words, does life go on after dying, or does it all end with death itself. Tina may not have succumbed to her disease had ...

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