Stories about Asia

Is China making Pakistan a client-state with its ‘debt-book diplomacy’?

In Pakistan, China is the most active and positive economic force. So much so that continued cooperation between the two countries is supported by virtually all sides of this otherwise deeply divided country. Everyone from the Taliban to the secularist military leaders view Chinese investment as a boon to the country, the main source of job creation, and, in all truth, the most promising source of kickbacks for themselves. It certainly is the case that the infrastructure projects part of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative are the most significant economic development stimulus in the economically underdeveloped country, and the ...

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No, you may not call me a ‘Paki’

There was a strange time when I was growing up, where I didn’t fully understand the dual identity I had as a Pakistani-Canadian. I thought I was just like everyone else, until I was nine-years-old. At school, a notice was given to students with information about how to keep hair clean to avoid lice. A young white boy scoffed at the notice, and announced that the only people who needed this reminder were the “Paki” kids. This was my first taste of prejudice, but it became all too familiar as I continued to grow up in a diverse, yet inharmonious society. Fast ...

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Kathmandu: The city of dogs, falafels, singing bowls and unexpected magic

While reading about the countries where one can get visa on arrival, Nepal suddenly caught my attention. Nepal is both affordable and beautiful, which was exactly what I was looking for. A switch went off in my mind and I became ceaselessly preoccupied with my upcoming travel. I didn’t know then that this trip to Nepal would leave a lasting imprint on my mind. The same way I did not know that the spicy topping on my favourite enchiladas, from the best café in Kathmandu, would forever hold my taste buds. Before I departed, I already secured a confirmation email ...

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“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?”

“Oh, it’s just a small cut so why are you complaining?” Those are the words of Filzah Sumartono from AWARE – a group dedicated to women’s rights – when she tries to talk about the taboo subject with members of her community. It is astounding that people avoid this topic with a wave of the hand, branding it as a “small cut” especially when the effects of such a procedure can be damaging – both physically and mentally. According to Orchid Project, girls and women can suffer from emotional distress throughout their lives, not to mention having feelings of fear, helplessness, ...

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Ephesus: City that rivaled Rome

Rome has existed as far back as the eighth century. The Roman Empire covered most of Europe, parts of North Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During its peak, this empire rivalled existing empires. Due to the expansion the Roman Empire, new cities evolved and flourished. The city of Ephesus was one of the major commerce centres that strengthened the Roman foothold in Asia. Ephesus existed since before the Bronze Age and had lived through the Greek, Hellenistic, Roman and Ottoman periods. But it was during the Roman period that this harbour city progressed, and ultimately became the second largest city ...

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Following the evolution of biryani, all the way to New York City

Derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’, biryani is a spicy rice and meat dish which is prepared by mixing layers of rice, meat, tomatoes, fried onions, spices, and food colour. Biryani making is an art – one has to know how long rice should be cooked for, before it can be arranged in layers along with the meat and tomatoes. The rice can become soggy if boiled excessively, or even remain undercooked if not boiled for an appropriate amount of time. All biryani lovers take their biryani very seriously. They feel irked if the biryani isn’t yellow enough or if there’s no ...

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What they didn’t tell you about Pakistan: Seven common myths dispelled

Pakistan may be one of the most misunderstood countries around and it is certainly easy to see why when you hit the layman’s ceiling of knowledge in about 10 seconds. What most people don’t see is what lies beyond the media coverage, highlighting just the challenges the country is facing today. There is a lot more to Pakistan than what meets the eye, so prepare for some enlightenment and let’s go bust some myths. 1. Pakistan is no place for women A young girl from Kailash in native dress. Photo: Asfandi Yar. Contrary to the stereotype, not all Pakistani ...

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Give me pain! Hot, spicy, yummy Asian pain!

As an expatriate, the memory of the most routine things back home can sometimes bring out the most intense feelings of nostalgia in me. One of these memories is that of eating out at a cornucopia of restaurants, eateries and street vendors in Karachi.  From Bundu Khan’s lip-smacking chicken tikkas, to the appetising Student Biryani, to the delectable kebab rolls at Khadda market, the list is never ending. Spicy seekh kebabs used in kebab rolls. PHOTO: Facebook page Kabab Rolls One dish in particular brings back a flood of mouth-watering memories, and that is nihari. It originated from the legendary royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire ...

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Losing our dignity, one drone at a time

I still haven’t forgotten a story that my father told me about eight years ago. We were sitting outside one late night, revelling in the midst of family and friends, smoking the traditional hookah and dining the night away. I don’t remember how we reached this topic but suddenly I found myself listening to my father reminiscing about the days when he first flew to Saudi Arabia in the 1960s. He spoke of that time with great admiration and fondness, recalling how, when he first mixed in with the locals, the first question they asked him was where he was from. And ...

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My priority list for PCB

Undoubtedly, the new Pakistan Cricket Board management has been proactive in solving problems. Unexpectedly, it has been our new PCB Chairman who has come to the rescue. Zaka Ashraf seems to be more serious about his priorities than the previous management, but there remain issues that need immediate attention. So here’s my list of what should be top on the priority list: 1. International tours For more than a year, the Pakistani cricket team has not played at any venue outside of the Asian continent. Other than hosting a series in the UAE, we have had no practice on international pitches like Australia, England, South Africa and ...

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