Stories published in September, 2018

Stepping into the void: A magical journey to the picturesque Swiss and French Alps

The mountains are calling and I must go – this is what I told myself while planning my summer vacation. Selecting Switzerland was a no-brainer, as it remains one of the most sought after and popular destinations for tourists around the world, thanks to its alpine peaks, mountain vistas and magical landscape. I started my European journey from Chur, reportedly the oldest town in Switzerland, and made my way to the Glacier Express, dubbed the world’s fastest slow train. This is a panoramic train which reaches Zermatt, a Swiss mountain resort, passing through spectacular lakes, enormous mountains and breath-taking landscapes. [caption ...

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When clothing brands profit from your grief

In this capitalist world, everything is for sale. Every season, every holiday, every occasion can be commercialised. Christmas Day sales, Black Friday, Thanksgiving sales, Diwali discounts, Eid collections; you name anything and there will always be a person making money off of it. In Pakistan, Eid and Ramazan are probably the most celebrated occasions, no surprises there since this country is the Islamic Republic after all. As soon as the month of Ramazan closes in, prices of food elevate to another level. From your fruit vendor to your butcher, everyone demands more money. And then there are of course those gazillion iftar ...

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Young at heart: Badhaai Ho hilariously tackles old-age pregnancy and intimacy

The trailer of the much awaited Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra starrer, Badhaai Ho, is finally out and surprisingly, it is not what you would have thought. Badhaai Ho, which is basically a Hindi expression to congratulate someone, is not an ordinary movie. I was taken aback by the audacity of the filmmakers who came up with such a novel concept and that too in the world of Bollywood. First off, I would like to establish that this is by far the most hilarious trailer I have watched this year. The trailer begins with Nakul’s (Khurrana) father (Gajraj Rao) hesitantly breaking ...

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The billion dollar question: Why Pakistanis fall for fake news so easily

As a nation, Pakistan runs high on emotions and little on common sense. In an effort to make our otherwise tedious routine from nine-to-five feel a little more interesting, we like to create gossip, spread rumours and conspiracy theories, and mainly take active part in circulating fake news. Anything floats the boat in Pakistan, as long as you make the news sound somewhat real to a common man. A good example of this is the spread of something as wild as the claim that Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-American billionaire and the richest person of Pakistani origin, is donating $1 ...

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Siksa Valley: Turning Gilgit-Baltistan’s barren lands into green miracles

I had never been past Khaplu in the Ganche District of Baltistan, a lovely green valley encircled by towering mountains. I had stayed a few times at the picturesque Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel, which has painstakingly been restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Khaplu Fort Palace Hotel Hence, I was excited to actually drive past Khaplu and head further north towards our border area with India’s Ladakh region. This is a restricted area controlled by the Army and most tourists are turned back. Luckily, we had clearances as we were heading to a village ...

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Thrilling and gory, The Predator delivers what it promised

The last time we got to watch a predator hunt his prey was back in the 2010 movie, Predators. The James Rodriguez produced and Adrian Brody starrer was a decent entry in the franchise, but couldn’t quite revive it the way it was meant to. However, eight years later, 20th Century Fox decided to double the budget and brought Shane Black to the helm. Black, who had a small role in the original Predator (1987) and has also directed hits like Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, was the perfect choice. Titled The Predator, this latest addition to the sci-fi ...

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I wanted to be a doctor my whole life but ended up doing BBA, and life changed

As a child, I always wanted to pursue medicine. I was the kid who would memorise the names of bones from a skeleton drawn in her book and tell her dad about this achievement. Medicine was my passion from the start. As a teenager, I wanted to do something substantial in life and my goal was to be an independent woman like my mother. Working hard had become both a passion and a liability to achieve what I always wanted to do. But last year, when the time for admissions into medical colleges came, things didn’t play out so well. And ...

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The silence that kills us

Perhaps it isn’t the discomfort of the narrow streets which makes liberty unbearable for us, It isn’t the sharp scents of sweat which disgust us, It isn’t the crowd which suffocates us, In fact, it isn’t the noise, the crowd or the obvious lack of quality in products, It’s the silence.   The unsaid hush when I turn to speak up to the unwanted hands up my clothes, The constant background whistles of frustrated middle-aged men, It’s the toxic masculinity which suffocates us, The vulnerability when your body turns into a canvas, Painted by obnoxious stares, Held by unholy hands.   It’s the desensitisation, the normalisation, the silence, The echoes of shameless name ...

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Addiction killed Mac Miller, and it wasn’t Ariana Grande’s ‘job’ to save him

I was on my way to work last week when I came across #MacMiller trending on Twitter. Confused regarding what that could be about, I scrolled through my Instagram and found numerous tributes to the 26-year-old rapper, only to confirm what I had already expected. Mac Miller’s death, caused due to an apparent overdose, came as a shock to many. Working as an entertainment journalist, the aforementioned incident ultimately became my priority for the morning. As I added testimonies and tributes from famous artists and celebrities in Hollywood, there was one that I, along with the rest of the ...

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Is reformation of Pakistan’s civil service another empty promise?

“How would you reform the civil service?” Some eight months ago, when one of the members of the interview panel constituted to select the most suitable candidates for the Central Superior Services (CSS) asked me this question, I heaved a sigh of relief. The questions prior to this were trickier than my expectations, and hence unnerving. But this one was, in cricketing terms, a half volley, and I had to try to make the most of it. However, less than a minute into my impassioned speech on what I believed blighted our esteemed civil service and what ought to be done to improve ...

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