Stories published in June, 2016

My family’s most treasured recipe, Tamatar Gosht

Pakistani meat dishes to me are a celebration of local produce. Combining fresh seasonal vegetables with tender meat is the ultimate in rejoicing my land. Tamatar Gosht, which literally means ‘Tomato Meat’, is my most treasured family recipe. My mother combines many cooking styles and this recipe speaks just that; meat cooked with vegetables – a Punjabi idiocyrancy – together with her adopted North Indian habit of ‘Bhuna’ or well-stewed meat with Sindhi nuances of the use of curry leaves and the use of Indian ‘Panch Puran’ mixed spices. This is just the kind of Pakistani cuisine I grew up eating. What I ...

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Who was Jinnah, an Islamic cultural relativist or a brown sahib?

There are two bar rooms in the Lahore High Court. One is considered the bar room of left liberals and progressives. The other bar room, much bigger of the two, is the favourite haunt of those with a tinge of religious right wing. The left leaning bar room has a photograph of an emaciated Mr Jinnah in a suit. The other one has a sombre portrait of him in a black sherwani and karakul cap. Next to his portrait is an equally serious portrait of Allama Iqbal.  In a poignant piece for Granta sometime ago New York Times journalist Jane ...

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Possibly Out of the Shadows

Despite being reviled critically, the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took in close to $500 million at the box-office which was supposedly enough to warrant a sequel. But while the 2014 reboot of the 80’s comic book about a group of talking, genetically mutated, pizza loving teenage ninja turtles was too dull or bland to be enjoyed in the slightest, its successor, Out of the Shadows thankfully manages to improve considerably. And despite its flaws, it manages to standout as an enjoyable piece of summer popcorn entertainment. After saving New York City from the wrath of Shredder (Brian Tee), turtles Leonardo (Pete ...

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Government officials will fast in their air-conditioned offices and the public will face eight hour power shortages

I remember the times when power outages were rare. This was before the widespread use of air conditioners. Today, in every government department, air conditioners are switched on long before the baboos arrive in the morning. This is to ensure that when they enter their cabins, the temperature is not more than 20 degrees centigrade. These government officials, ministers included, want to remain cool so they are comfortable even when the temperature outside is 45 to 50 degrees. One doesn’t mind our bureaucrats and ministers enjoying themselves in their ultra-cool offices. But what they forget is that the electricity they use ...

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From Kakul to Hampshire: Will our team finally reap the benefits of the army boot camp?

The Pakistan Army and the game of cricket have one thing in common; both unite the country but while the soldiers are ‘revered’ from Karachi to Khyber our cricketers have in recent years brought the country together by their comical ineptness which makes us scoff at them in unison. Of late, the cricketers have had their fame replaced by infamy as they continue to hog the headlines mostly for the bad and ugly causing widespread outrage. The flak is not restricted to our cricketers alone; the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is easily the most maligned sporting body in the country but ...

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Why I’m not fasting this Ramazan

According to family legend, I first fasted—for a day—at the age of four. I have no clear memory of this fast, although I do have the vague recollection of walking into the kitchen while my mom prepared iftar and her asking, “If you’re fasting, why are you sucking on a lollipop?” Ramazan in our house was a big deal. Ramazan meant we could—at least for a month—pretend we were adults. I insisted on fasting the entire month starting at the age of seven.  My parents agreed, but with three stipulations: I had to wake up for sehri, eat whatever was served during sehri (generally, ...

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Congratulations, Modi, on being the mascot of Hindu fundamentalism in India for two years

India’s Donald Trump completed two years in office last week. We, Indians can relate to the fear the Americans may have on the possibility of the Republican leader winning the elections. We have been living in that anxiety and fear since 2014. There are many people in the United States who believe that the raucous, divisive Trump will be a changed man once he becomes the president. They are willing to buy the argument that power will mellow him down. The same argument was touted when Modi launched himself as the candidate for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for premiership three years ago. Many, who ...

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Housefull 3: Awful, painful, and anything but cheerful

How is it even possible that you go watch a movie with zero expectations, but yet walk out of it feeling utterly let down. And that my friends, is precisely the kind of feat the third instalment of the Housefull series managed to pull off. Promoted as a rib-tickling screwball comedy, the only reaction Housefull 3 got out of yours truly was that of head-scratching. It surely must be a record of some sorts making a 145 minutes long comedy where not a single joke lands. So in between all the failed attempts at humour, there is this laughably ridiculous plot ...

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If that was my kid, I’d want Harambe killed too

Over the past few days, the incident of a four-year-old boy (who had somehow ended up in a gorilla’s pit at the Cincinnatti Zoo, and where one of the gorillas was shot dead in order to keep the boy safe) has turbulently taken the internet by storm. Countless tweets, Facebook posts, blogs, and articles have been written about the incident; some justifying the killing of the gorilla for the boy’s safety, while others expressing immense outrage, stating that the boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, was “negligent” and that the gorilla, the beautiful and endangered Harambe, should not have been killed. Curious, I decided to watch ...

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When The Greatest, Muhammad Ali, came to my mohalla

Block 13 in Federal B Area is a settled neighbourhood, a place where the word neighbour still carries meaning. Part of the city’s district central, it became inhabited with people of my clan who first lived in Nizamabad and other places where Urdu speakers from India had formed their enclave. As the 70s started they moved from these places and built homes here creating a sort of “Little Amroha.”   I grew up there surrounded by folks at whose place you could drop in unannounced at lunch and be led straight to the table. Indeed, the general saying was that you ...

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