Stories published in November, 2014

Karachi from under the sea

My mother tells me a story of my childhood often. I was three, at some swimming club in London, and my sisters were taking swimming lessons. Too young to be allowed in at that age, I fought and wrestled against my mother, till the point that she was physically restraining me. The bemused instructor told my mother to let me go, to see what I would do. I made a running leap into the water, and haven’t looked back since. Having been a self-proclaimed water baby my entire life, scuba diving was naturally always high on my to-do list. Last year, I finally ...

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Our disregard for Pakistan’s national sport

After their historic win against Australia in the recent Test series, chairperson of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Shahryar Khan, announced a special cash bonus for the Pakistani national team. The team will get a total sum of Rs14.75 million for their glorious performance. Good to know. But while our cricket team seems to be aiming for the stars, our hockey team is being treated like its ugly step sister – it’s part of the national sports family, but no one really cares about it. Recently, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) cancelled the national team’s tour to South Korea due to lack of funds and visa ...

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Islam may be trending on the streets of New York

Thirteen years after the events of September 11, 2001, New York is ready to begin its cathartic process. News of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda may still dominate the majority of the news, but the feeling of the streets is more of intrigue rather than fear. Most of the food carts in the city are halal, and the number one street cart in the city is called ‘Halal Guys’. To see people have chicken over rice from these carts has never been surprising but now some bars are also exclusively serving halal meat, ‘halal’ food is being embraced ...

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Pakistan’s silent drug war taking another hit

Border skirmishes between India and Pakistan have left numerous civilians dead; the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) have been the worst in a decade. And media outlets on both sides of the border are revelling in front pages and headlines about the clashes. But there is another conflict that continues along one of Pakistan’s borders, and it has impacted about 6.7 million Pakistanis in 2013 alone. Yet, it continues to be neglected from the front pages. I met one of its victims when I was 15-years-old. The tiny form of an old man, curled into a ball, like a discarded shoe, ...

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Thar: A picture of negligence

Almost every year, Thar makes it to the headlines. Whenever metropolitans like Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad or Peshawar face some kind of energy crisis, ministers begin using the idea of Thar coal reserves as a solution for the country’s never-ending energy issues. The government remembers Thar when it comes to coal reserves, but why does it conveniently turn a blind eye when the people of Thar die of hunger and famine? Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has been ruling Sindh since the past six year. Six years is enough time for a provincial government to understand, evaluate and solve issues like the drought in ...

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Compassion heals, volunteering helps

Meet Amna, a beautiful 13-year-old with hair falling below her waist, bright wide eyes and an angelic smile. When I walk in the room, she has a book in her lap, and her eyes are closed. She quickly rouses and smiles as if she recognises me. I introduce myself with the biggest smile I can muster and enthusiastically chat about topics I hope a teenager would enjoy. She seems fascinated but her fascination has less to do with me and more to do with her chirpy personality. I ask her about her siblings, which excites her and she eagerly asks if I will come again ...

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Even Govinda couldn’t save ‘Kill Dil’

Kill Dil was amongst the most anticipated movies of 2014, due to numerous reasons like Ali Zafar’s first hardcore masala entertainment, Govinda’s villainous re-entry and Ranveer Singh’s flamboyant character. So, what does Yash Raj’s banner offer this time to its audience? Let’s explore! Kill Dil is about two orphans – Dev (Ranveer) and Tutu (Ali), who get noticed by a local hoodlum, Bhaiyya Jee (Govinda) while crossing a ‘kachre ka dabba’. Bhaiyya takes them in and provides the orphans with shelter. As they grow up, he nurtures them to be his special and most trustworthy assassins. Everything is mundane when until one ...

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Real men do(n’t) cry

He was sharing some of his deepest secrets about his childhood; his fears, his regrets, his loss – of a loved one, of dreams, of time lost that could have been utilised better, of a life that could have been. I witnessed this man break some barriers in those moments as he dared to bare his soul, something men in our society are not taught to do. But most importantly, this man dared to cry, that too in front of a woman. In those moments, I saw bravery. Because he kept saying, “See? I’m crying. I didn’t even know I could cry ...

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Will Ashraf Ghani be able to restore ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan?

There is no denying that foreign policies in the subcontinent region are rapidly transforming from what they were a few years back. One major factor for this are the new heads of states, especially in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, who have been elected over the past two years. What these new heads do will decide the fate of, not only this region but, all those who are connected with these countries. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of bad blood between Pakistan and Afghanistan; the two countries share a long history of mistrust and perpetual animosity, caused by a myriad of factors, including ...

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Let your children be Emma Watson, let them be Malala

I recently watched the impassioned speech that Emma Watson made for launching the UN’s ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It was a sincere appeal for a better understanding of the ‘feminist’ movement and its singular goal to establish equal rights and freedoms for both men and women. Now, in total honesty, I have grown up with a very different interpretation of what ‘feminism’ is! In fact, while I have always been taught by my family and have believed in equal rights for boys and girls, I have not really associated this with the ‘feminist movement.’ Maybe it is the word itself…why was it ever called a ‘feminist’ ...

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