Stories published in May, 2016

Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories will grab you by the throat and compel you to read on

For me, the greatest discovery of 2015 was the work of Clarice Lispector, a deceased Brazilian writer whose marvellous stories have been compiled and published posthumously in this stunning new collection. And after reading the whimsical, electrifying and dizzying 85 short stories in this book, it is impossible to recommend this outstanding, austere writer strongly enough; for me, reading her work felt like discovering some long lost sister of Jorge Luis Borges. In Complete Stories we witness the emergence of a significant Latin-American writer, and a prose stylist of the highest order, one who was mostly overlooked in her time. Clarice Lispector’s collection ...

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Azealia Banks and our obsession with her attention-seeking “hairy curry scented Punjab” tweets

My niece is a huge ‘One Directioner’ (is that what they are called?) and was heartbroken when the boy band lost one of its key members, Zayn Malik. We insist on a special connection with this young musical icon on account of sharing a nationality and probably having a Zain for a classmate or a Malik for a neighbour. This gives us the inalienable right to judge him of course; from his tattoos to the racy lyrics of his new singles. “Haw Haey! Larka haath sey nikal gaya!” (The boy is getting out of hand!) He should thank his lucky stars he isn’t a ...

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Should doctors have allowed a sexual abuse victim in her 20s to be euthanised?

If there was ever an instance of discussing the moral grey areas when it came to human morality, this would be it. A woman in Netherlands, in her 20s, was recently given a lethal injection in a case of physician-assisted mercy killing. She was a victim of child sex abuse from the age of five up until the age of 15. She was suffering from severe anorexia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She had multiple problems, said the Dutch Euthanasia Commission, and even though her psychiatric conditions did improve, she had decided to end her life. The arguments pro and against euthanasia ...

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Shahbaz Taseer finally breaks his silence and we blame him for cooking up a story? Really, Pakistan?

Warning: The pictures displayed below are graphic. Please use discretion. Shahbaz Taseer has spoken up for the first time about his five-year horrific ordeal. Why now, is anyone’s guess but with so much negativity and fabrications going around, perhaps it was time to set the record straight. Even after his interview with CNN and BBC where he had to relive the torture by recalling the details, many people called him out for not being truthful and making up most of it. There were comments like:  “But he doesn’t look like he was tortured.” He clearly states that his torture stopped after a while, so there ...

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With PCB and BCCI unable to set aside their differences, what happens to cricket?

The story goes that the chef at Jaipur’s Rambagh Palace had 40 baby lambs slaughtered the day before Pakistan’s military dictator, and arguably the most hated man in his country, was to be hosted as part of his trip to India to enjoy a game of cricket. Former PM Rajiv Gandhi with then Pakistan President Ziaul Haq at the Palam airport on Decemeber 17, 1985.Photo: Hindustan Times Paying true homage to Mughal culinary traditions Safed Maas (White meat curry) and Akbari Raan (Akbari mutton leg) were on the menu as General Ziaul Haq rubbed shoulders with the likes of Lala Amarnath ...

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Changing maps will not mean Kashmir is a part of you, India

The Indian government wants to pass the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill (GIRB). This bill will essentially make any map in India (ONE that does not toe the official line on geospatial information provided by the Indian government) illegal and liable to seven years in jail and a fine of up to a whopping billion Indian rupees. Predictably Pakistan reacted by shooting off a letter to the United Nations (UN) protesting that the official Indian maps show the disputed territories of Kashmir as wholly part of India, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). While one respects the sovereignty a foreign nation state, the provisions of this law ...

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How I survived four and a half years in captivity

August 26, 2011, an ordinary day. I was driving to work on the same road in Lahore that I took every day, and my mind was busy with the mundane. A car blocked the road, but I didn’t give it much thought. Then five masked men put a gun to my head, pulled me out of the car and my world spun horribly out of control. Right now, I can’t tell all of the details of my capture or my release for security reasons. Someday I hope to be able to recount the full story. But I can say for ...

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Isn’t it about time the Pakistani government considered giving qualified stay-at-home parents jobs?

I had taken a hiatus from work due to my household responsibilities, but now that my children had started school and all else was well, I decided that it was the perfect time to start working again. I had my first job interview in five years and as I sat there waiting for my turn, I couldn’t help but feel rather uneasy looking around at the other candidates. They seemed to be more qualified individuals with updated resumes and a fiercely competitive knack about them. Clouds of doubt began to mar my enthusiasm. Perhaps I should have improved my qualifications before restarting my ...

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Despite increasing the education budget, the Sindh government is failing its youth

If you want to see how Sindh has failed its children, visit a public school in some of the obscure towns of the province. I was well aware of the fact that government-run schools had flaws, but the extent of this problem was always abstract for me, up until I had a first-hand experience. I was in Shikarpur recently (the city once known as the Paris of Sindh) to attend a cousin’s wedding. While in town, I thought it would be a great idea to see how education was faring in a place known for its academic excellence, considering Shikarpur ...

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The story behind my film, Maalik – From the horse’s mouth

Maalik is in the midst of a huge controversy; all kinds of motives are being attributed to my film and, although everyone is entitled to their own views, I thought a straight narrative from the one who knows Maalik the best may help. A brief intro before going further: I was born in Quetta and proudly call Balochistan my home. I am ethnically a Punjabi and my ancestral roots may be connected to a village near Nankana sahib in the district of Sheikhupura, near Lahore. Being a common man, I have little use for title, surname and caste and I have never used my ...

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