Stories published in February, 2016

Is Valentine’s Day really something to get so worked up about?

There have been reports making rounds on social media that the federal capital, on the instructions of Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar, had banned Valentine’s Day in Islamabad. What followed was a mix of condemnation and congratulations from the two different sides of the coin; each one adamant that theirs was the right one. As a result, this reaction was followed by the Islamabad Deputy Commissioner denying that such an order had even taken place. Valentine’s Day will go ahead with full furor like it does every year; each restaurant, gift, flower and chocolate shop milking and capitalising it to the nth ...

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Bidding farewell to my dear Bajia

There are some people who surpass the realm of fame and success. They are forever immortalised by virtue of who they are and what they contribute to the society. Bajia was such a person. I remember her larger-than-life personality when I first met her as a child. Visually she was a petite lady, but her intelligence, mental strength, physical energy and determination was way beyond her size. She was always dressed in an immaculate but simple white sari and chapals. No fancy jewellery or designer handbag, no false airs, she was real and approachable. She made you feel like ...

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Why is Karachi’s DHA Phase VIII being gated against its own denizens?

The contours of Karachi through which its inhabitants tread the city alter once again as e-tagging electronic gates surge in DHA Phase VIII. In an attempt to “enhance security” and “monitor those entering” from the eight entry and exit points of the locality, the housing authority plans to erect gates with sensors at the barrier that will recognise e-tags and allow cars to pass, create separate lanes for residents and visitors, and install closed-circuit television cameras to record all vehicles entering the area. Weapons of/for ‘protection’ The apparatuses or symbols of “security” – walls, checkpoints, barricades and now the recent e-tagging ...

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You know you’re in a Kamila Shamsie Novel when…

Kamila Shamsie is amongst Pakistan’s most celebrated authors as well as the most accomplished ones. Almost every novel in her impressive bibliography is a treat to read. The contents of her books linger on with the reader even after the book is finished.   Kamila Shamsie’s writing style is such that one could identify it without even reading the name of the author. Here are eight examples of how you can tell you are reading a Kamila Shamsie novel: 1) Distressed characters Everyone around you is a philosopher in distress. People have matured so much that they’ve totally done away with the small-talk. No one asks you ...

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Why women will vote for Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton

The results of the New Hampshire primary have precipitated two distinct dialogues on the 2016 US Presidential race. The first one is marked with apprehension, unease and incredulous recognition of Donald Trump’s massive win. The second one is an attempt to understand the feminist underpinnings of the young women who are choosing to support Bernie Sanders instead of Hillary Clinton. Nobody could have anticipated that Clinton would have a problem getting support from women, yet in Iowa, Sanders received the female vote six to one, and in New Hampshire, 64 per cent of female democratic voters chose him. So, what happened? ...

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Pakistan cricket desperately needed a tournament like PSL

It is difficult to believe the Pakistan Super League (PSL) started less than a week ago, for the T20 cricket tournament has already grown into a daily viewing addiction. Featuring five teams, including Islamabad United, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi, and Quetta Gladiators, the tournament has captured the imagination of people across the country. During the last week, I have found it remarkable how keenly the games have been followed on the streets of Karachi; taxi and rickshaw walas are keeping up with the contests on the radio; roti walas, while rolling bread in their uncomfortably warm hole-in-the-walls are glancing constantly at ...

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Colonialism ruined Pakistan and India, even the Koh-i-Noor can’t fix that!

The most precious diamond England had before usurping the Koh-i-Noor from India was none other than William Shakespeare. But the legendary bard, unlike his avaricious countrymen, himself never coveted stones and riches. What he longed for was content, a pleasure which only a man with a heart and passions could enjoy. Shakespeare writes in his play King Henry VI, Part 3, “My Crown is in my heart, not on my head: Not deck’d with Diamonds, and Indian stones: Nor to be seen: my Crown is call’d Content, A Crown it is, that seldom Kings enjoy.” Needless to say, if Winston Churchill had 0.1 per cent of the writer’s virtues, the world ...

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The Assassin: Tedious and allows your mind to drift away

The Assassin is the acclaimed Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s latest film which takes places in eighth century China. Shu Qi plays the role of a deadly assassin whose next mission is to eliminate a local ruler who somehow has connections to her mysterious past. Hou Hsiao-Hsien won the Cannes Best Director Prize last year and has made quite interesting character studies in his previous films like The Puppetmaster (1993), but honestly, this film is actually a bit of a conundrum to review and leaves me stranded on the fence. Even though the shot composition and costume design is beautiful and is ...

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Islamabad is NOT a city you would like to move to, trust me

To millions of Pakistanis, Islamabad is a city they would like to move to. The assumption is, it being the nation’s capital, it will naturally be blessed with luxuries their lives have been spent dreaming about; such as uninterrupted supply of basic utilities such as water, gas, and electricity. Most importantly, a peaceful environment. In the past 10 years, successive governments have tried to make up for the disparity. No, not by lifting the standard of living of people in the rest of the country up, but by letting the capital residents down too. Even in the posh areas of the federal ...

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Did Coldplay’s video misappropriate India?

There has been some angst, both in the West and in India, about Coldplay’s latest and very beautiful video, Hymn For The Weekend. The video is being criticised by some for ‘cultural appropriation’. In this whole controversy, the west and the east have their own respective angles for their criticisms. In the west, the main argument behind the condemnation that some have expressed is that western artists should not incorporate popular art, imagery, looks, character types, and scenes representing the non-western world, because doing so constitutes an unethical appropriation of the cultural patrimony of the third-world ‘South’. This argument lacks substance. ...

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