Why is the Wagah border ceremony a competition of nationalism?

It has been 70 years since India and Pakistan emerged from a single, coherent geographical unit as two sovereign nations, and both states do their best to remember and reaffirm this. Every day at around 4:30pm, the Wagah border prepares for a unique ceremony, wherein the soldiers stationed at and near the border gates on both sides re-state the identity of India and Pakistan as sovereign nations, while their people cheer for them. As the dusk sets in, it is time to lower their respective flags, but both countries do so by giving a warning to each other. The gates ...

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To all the Wonder Mums out there, do not let society shame you for the choices you make

I have come to realise that no matter which part of the world they are from, mothers have one thing in common: putting up with unsolicited advice and dealing with intense scrutiny and judgement for the parenting choices they make. Hence, this Mother’s Day, I decided to write a message to all the mothers facing this issue out there. These mothers are trying hard to do the best they can by their children, while being constantly questioned and being made to feel they have got it all wrong. The constant unsolicited remarks a mother receives are not limited to family, friends ...

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Why I teach my daughter to raise her hand

Upon her return home from school, I asked my daughter whether or not she raises her hand in class, to which she replied,  “Yes mom, I did,” she said. “In fact, I raise my hand all the time now, even when I am not sure if I have the right answer.” I can’t describe how proud I am that my daughter raises her hand to speak up. Not being sure of the answer is fine by me, as long as she takes a risk and tries anyway. On the contrary, I would be a little upset if she would not engage and ...

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When did dancing go from a form of art to a taboo, dishonourable act?

I am blessed to enjoy rhythm in my life, and blessed to have parents who put no restrictions on my body’s movement to music. I grew up as a typical uninteresting teenager; music blaring from my room, no matter what time of the day or night it was. I was so obsessed with music that even my telephone conversations with my girlfriends mostly consisted of singing along to the lyrics of the latest popular songs. All this was made possible due to growing up in a home in Lahore which provided space and privacy without disturbing the peace of other family members. My ...

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A Sindhi living in Sindh, yet ashamed of their own “tacky” language

I am one of those lucky few who got to spend her childhood with her grandparents. My grandfather would tell me stories of the days of Partition. He was quite young at the time, but seemed to remember every single detail about how everyone in his village would prepare for the people coming to live in Sindh from across the border. He told me how the women would prepare and bring food to the railway platforms, and how some people would even vacate their homes to welcome the refugees. I would often ask him why they had to do ...

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“My bahu is prettier than yours” – When marriage turns into a beauty contest

“Mashallah! Bohat pyari hai aap ki bahu!”  (Your daughter-in-law is very pretty) “Bahu hai aap ki? Khoobsoorat hai!” (Is she your daughter-in-law? She is beautiful) These are the type of comments that I, a newly married bahu, gets to hear whenever my mother-in-law introduces me to relatives and acquaintances in social gatherings. Some people are very straight forward and say it right away to my face, while others pass comments on my looks in their gossip sessions. Though they are making an effort to praise me via these comments, I never take them as compliments. In fact, I don’t like it at all. I feel that everyone ...

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How I became a drunken, cheating swine who destroyed his marriage

The year is 2011. It’s 8:30am. I am in the lounge, staring out of the window. “How do I look?” her words make me turn back. There she is, all ready to go to work. She is 33 but looks much younger and she looks beautiful in the blue suit she is wearing today. “You look lovely,” I respond, stating an obvious truth. “Do you love me?” is inevitably the next question. “Of course I do,” I respond trying to sound as convincing I can. I have to make an effort here because although this is true, it cannot be called an “obvious” truth ...

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In a society where you are either heterosexual or just “messed up”, is there any room for asexuals?

My great grandmother had a cousin who spent her whole life single. She had a successful life, to say the least – she was a practicing doctor, she had a wonderful social circle and she indulged in numerous hobbies. And she was really, really content. Contentment is a strange emotion; you can be happy but not necessarily content. She, however, was tremendously satisfied with her life. She had everything, except a husband, and not because she wasn’t able to find someone, but because she didn’t want one. She had a great upbringing in a moderately liberal family with happily married ...

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Planning your summer vacation abroad? These 12 factors may change your mind about air travel!

Everyone involved with air travel works very hard to make sure all the suffering that comes with long commutes is neatly condensed into the shortened travel times, thanks to airplanes. Suffering builds character, and our friends in the aviation industry would never rob us of character building opportunities. There is a reason it is called smooth sailing and not flying. As soon as you are inside the airport, prepare for anything and everything. This is a place with no guarantees. When people tell you to have a safe trip, they actually mean it sincerely and literally. Airports are your undoing, ...

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A tale of self-destruction: I am what they call a “functioning” alcoholic

It is 6:30am. I am up and feeling that terrible sensation in the gut. I look at my wife, who is sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the fact that I am up and about to indulge in my daily ritual. She knows, but does not know the extent to which this vice has engulfed me. I drag myself to the restroom of the other bedroom and see my reflection in the mirror. My face is summarising the story of my last 10 years. I am 40 but can be easily mistaken as a person of 50. The face which a decade ...

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