Stories published in August, 2018

The $$$ conundrum: Why are currencies around the world depreciating against the dollar?

For the past few weeks, there has been an ongoing verbal war between the American President Donald Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. The former has been pushing for the release of American Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkish prisons. Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since 2016 on charges of aiding a Turkish coup against Erdogan, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Additionally, in his drive to make America great again, Trump has imposed sanctions and tariffs on Turkish imports. Consequently, there has been a drop in the value of the Turkish lira against the US dollar. President Erdogan has taken full advantage of the ...

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“Mera jism, khandaan ki marzi”

It was a particularly tiring emergency day in the obstetric labour room. I was writing down patient notes on a file when a woman came pleading to me, “Doctor sahibaa, mehrbani karain, mainay jo sign kiyay hain wo kaat dain, hum nay waqfay ka chalaa nae rikhwana.” (Please doctor, nullify the signatures I just did on the file, we refuse to take intrauterine device for contraception.) IUCD (commonly known as Cu-T) is a small contraception device placed in a woman’s uterus to delay the next pregnancy and ensure better health opportunities for both the mother and the child. When I tried to ...

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From a “political nobody who would never amount to much” to the prime minister of Pakistan

Twenty-two years ago, did I think this day would ever arrive? That in little more than 10 minutes, a visibly uncomfortable Imran Khan would fumble over difficult Urdu words and take the oath to become Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister? I wish I could say a resounding yes, but I, like so many of his supporters, have seen Imran rise and fall over the years (only to rise again) with exasperation. ‘Surely he will deliver once he reaches his goal’ is how we have comforted ourselves through the many stumbles, U-turns and compromises. Along the way, we have been called cult followers, ...

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Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 is one of the finest comedies to come out of the Pakistani film industry

Very few sequels receive more appreciation than the original film itself. For instance, Na Maloom Afraad was brilliant when it was released, but Na Maloom Afraad 2 was not as crisp, witty or smart as the original. The same goes for the Hera Pheri series across the border; part one was phenomenal, but it only went downhill after that. Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2, the follow up to 2015’s Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, had all the winning elements on paper; from an intriguing trailer, stellar cast, and actually funny jokes, the film seemed set to emerge victorious at the ...

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Nandita Das does justice to the iconoclastic Manto in a way Sarmad Khoosat could not

Viewing the trailer of Nandita Das’s Manto was a great pleasure, especially since prior to seeing Sarmad Khoosat’s biopic of Saadat Hasan Manto released in 2015, I had not seen its trailer. Comparisons of Das’s version with Khoosat’s trailer will seem inevitable, even much-needed, given what the respective directors and main actors are trying to prove in a short span of less than three minutes, if the trailers are to be believed. Das’s Manto, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, comes across as an iconoclast and a rebel right from the opening scene of the trailer, where Manto is shown to be in ...

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Hide my terrorist bakra

Bakra Eid or Eidul Azha is here. With the new government being sworn in, there is more news coverage of the political situation in the country rather than the festival which always garners great interest in Pakistan. One serious issue, which pops its head every year during Eidul Azha, is of course of the collection and utilisation of animal hides. As early as food stalls pop up all over the city, volunteers from different organisations start visiting houses, requesting the donation of the animal hides to their ‘deserving’ organisation. As mundane as this sounds, anyone living in Pakistan knows ...

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If you think Eidul Azha in the US lacks spirit and tradition, you couldn’t be more wrong

Born and raised in Pakistan, one can only imagine Eidul Azha being celebrated one way, with the sacrifice of an animal in the front or backyard, right? But there are other wonderful ways to celebrate it, ways that an immigrant is familiar with, understands and appreciates all too well. I have lived in the US for over 20 years, hence I am only speaking from my experience. I have come to appreciate the festive and philosophic spirit of Bakra Eid in ways that are essential, which are maybe less obvious to some, but certainly very pertinent to the spirit of ...

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Westworld is everyone’s favourite show, but does anyone really get it?

It might sound a tad bit clichéd, but I don’t usually judge people for their choices in life. No matter how bizarre, absurd or quirky these personal preferences are, you wouldn’t find yours truly judging them. However, there is one major exception to this golden rule of mine. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you like or want. If you are looking for an opinion from an industry oldie, I can tell you I am not your man. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over ...

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Munir and Ali needed a goat like Raju

“Mama! Mujhay subha uthana please aath bajay. Baba kay sath mandi jaunga,” Ali pleaded with his mother. (Mom! Please wake me up at eight in the morning. I have to go with dad to the cattle market) She nodded as she tucked him in lovingly. Ali had been looking forward to the Bari Eid since Ramazan. He had been extremely disappointed to find out that the Eid after Ramazan will not involve getting a bakra (goat) and bringing it home. He had insisted though. “Hum le aatay hain na! Hum bakra isi wali Eid pe le aatay!” (We should get it! We should get ...

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Is Bollywood’s ‘Batti Gul Meter Chalu’ really a copy of Lollywood’s ‘Actor in Law’?

The trailer for Batti Gul Meter Chalu, scheduled for release on September 21st, was recently released to acclaim. The film, helmed by the Toilet: Ek Prem Katha director Shree Narayan Singh, stars Shahid Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor alongside Divyendu Sharma and Yami Gautam. The film’s theme is truly commendable, for this is perhaps the first Bollywood film dealing with the subject of electricity theft. The film is essentially an issue-based commentary on the subject of power theft and skyrocketing electricity bills in the mofussil areas of India. Shahid is a cheerful and carefree advocate, but his life changes completely when his ...

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