Stories published in January, 2014

‘Beautiful Teen Boys of Pakistan’: A chance for us to introspect

There are many evils on this earth and our country has its fair share. Since our childhood, we have heard a countless number of disturbing stories – stories about little girls beaten to death by angry employers; the youngest daughter of a poor farmer being ‘taken’ by a cruel landlord only because her father failed to pay his debts; a young boy molested by his teacher in primary school; girls traded for money, women raped by beasts in the guise of aamils. And the list goes on. While female writers – including myself – are more sensitive towards issues of their own gender ...

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Karri Pakora: Finger lickin’ good, literally!

Karri is loved in almost every household in Pakistan. But the cooking procedure can intimidate even the most well seasoned and skilled cooks. I learnt how to make it whilst watching my mother cook it in her kitchen. But my love for karri goes back to my barri ammi’s (maternal grandmother) cooking skills and generosity. In her house, the rule was simple. Karri was never cooked in medium or moderate quantity. It was always cooked as if 30 people were coming over for dinner. Bari Ammi would send a bowl each to all her friends and relatives living close by. Hence, her karri was not just loved because it was delicious ...

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An unusual friendship between a Pakistani camel cart driver and an American president

I don’t know if many people are aware about the unusual friendship between former United States President Lyndon B Johnson and a camel cart driver from Karachi, Pakistan. The friendship can be traced back to the early 1960s when, during an official visit to Pakistan, Lyndon Johnson – vice president at the time – saw a man standing on the street in Karachi with his camel, waving at the vice-presidential motorcade. Johnson asked a Pakistani government official to introduce him to the ‘camel guy’. The camel cart driver, Bashir Sarban, was extremely excited to shake hands with the vice president. He introduced himself in whatever ...

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Mufti Usman Yar Khan’s funeral, broke my heart but changed my life

I have never supported any political or religious party in my life. In fact, I am one of those people who tend to make a complete fool out of themselves when trying to indulge in a heated political or religious debate. But what I have known all my life is that anyone dying a death that was planned by another human being is simply wrong. Unfortunately, being a citizen of Karachi I see it happening daily. As the death toll continues to increase every day, our collective indifference also seems to grow. Every time we see the news, we quietly thank God that ...

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Australian Open 2014: More surprises?

When I wrote a preview for the Australian Open 2013, I foresaw a relatively comfortable passage for the top players of tennis into the latter stages of the tournament. Major upsets at Grand Slams had been few with the result that two of the Big Four were still left standing come the final. But recent events in Melbourne have shredded to pieces the perception of tennis becoming a predictable game. In the past fortnight, many a Goliath tumbled while many a David triumphed, to the surprise of all. It all started on the men’s side with the departure of the big-hitting Argentine – Juan Martin del ...

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Did qawwali die with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Sabri brothers?

The melodious voice became clearer as I walked towards the shrine. And just as I started up the stairs separating the dust of the polluted world from the spiritual atmosphere of the place, the lyrics became discernible as well, “Tajdar-e-Haram, O Nigah-e-Karam…” (King of the Haram, look upon us with mercy…) As strong as commentary can ever be, this poetry has always inspired reverence in faulted souls. Not more than a decade ago traditional qawwali was still thriving and the best place to listen to qawwalis was not a privately organised concert but these very publically hosted urs. Photo: Badar Chaudhary And ...

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Jinnah may not be a hero to you, Mr Hanif, but he is to me and to many other Pakistanis!

Every sane individual enjoys the birth right of maintaining a private worldview. Democratisation of the world has granted unbounded and everlasting socio-religious and political freedom to the individual and society. The state’s dictatorial control has sunken into the past. No one can, therefore, force one’s opinion on other fellowmen in this democratic world of our times. However, there is a limit for the expression of opinions, especially when it comes to the collective interests and issues concerning the people. You cannot, for instance, speak positively about Hitler and negatively about the Holocaust across the United States and European continent. You cannot call ...

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Lahore: No gas to turn on the heat, so if I froze to death, would I be a martyr?

I woke up this morning and found out that, for the fourth consecutive day, there was no gas at home – none whatsoever. The stove fluttered to life for merely a second before going out and I understood that turning on the heater would be a waste of time. The equation was simple – no gas, no heat. I would have to resign myself to a cup of tea. I knew that as long as we have our electric kettle and chai (tea) – the answer to all Pakistani problems – we would survive. The key word here is electric, of course. There was no electricity either. And this ...

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Ladies, you are NOT doormats, stand up for yourselves!

My grandfather’s voice still echoes in my ears. He used to say, “Be a strong woman. Do not take insults hurled at you lying down! Never stoop to low levels. However, do take a stand.” My grandfather was an intrepid and a fearless man. The man of principles that he was, he never shied away from calling a spade a spade. However, he was dignified and humble too. I never saw him humiliate or ridicule anyone. Yes, he did get angry. Oh yes, he did! But he never stooped low to badmouth anyone and maintained his grace. Those who remember him can vouch for that. ...

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Baby Bhutto, his superman ajrak and the ‘cultural coup’… yeah right!

It was quite entertaining to watch Bilawal Bhutto speak of Sindhi culture, dressed up in a presidential style sherwani and speak in roman Urdu. The most amusing part of the ‘address’ was him putting all the blame on successive governments for the destruction of Sindhi heritage. What Bilawal did not notice, or his speech writer probably overlooked, was the fact that Sindh has predominantly been ruled by his own political party, PPP, which for the record, hasn’t been able to carry out any development work in any of its strong holds in interior Sindh and has, instead, destroyed whatever little heritage was left. The ...

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