Stories about beauty

This is what ‘Pakistan’ means to me

Walking or driving around the streets of my country, I can never give words to the mix of feelings and emotions that I experience. Is it the sense of belonging, which I never feel anywhere else in the world? Is it patriotism which brings tears to my eyes whenever I see a little boy running around the streets with a giant Pakistan flag? Driving by the Mazar-e-Quaid waving flags. Photo: Muhammad Noman “Why do you like Pakistan so much?” “Why would you want to live here when everyone here wants to leave?” “What is so good about Pakistan?” These are ...

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8 things I hate about getting my hair dyed

“Aap ke baalon mein two-tone shades aa rahe hain, dye ke bohat sakht zaroorat hai” (Your hair has two-toned shades in it. It is absolutely necessary for you to dye your hair.) There is a constant struggle between the know-it-all salon ladies and ignorant customers. Although we try to fight temptation and stay as far away as possible from these overly welcoming personas, we eventually succumb to their persuasive invitations. Anything to do with hair can be awfully frightening but it is a whole new experience when it comes to colouring hair. Treat it like a canvas and throw different shades on ...

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The veil as an accentuation of beauty

The image you see above is based on one of my very first experiences in Saudi Arabia. With the naked beaches of Barcelona a not too distant memory, I headed down to the Arabian Gulf for a dip. There, I became mystified by something black and obscure out at sea. It looked like a huge jellyfish. Then, as it approached closer, I realised that it was in fact a woman. It was such an intense experience that I just had to capture it for myself. However, it was not until a few years later in Dubai, when I had acquired ...

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Gilgit is to blame for this bloodshed

‘Paradise on earth’ might be a cliché, but it is the only locution that describes the beauty of Gilgit. Its elegance is matchless, but the sectarian violence that has plagued this area has reduced this city to a mere shadow of the beauty it once boasted.  Spring had always filled Gilgit with a rosy fragrance, but this spring, all anyone can smell is the unmistakable stench of blood. It is truly baffling how the gardener has lit his own garden on fire. People from different sects are killing each other ruthlessly, and one doesn’t dare to venture out on the streets unless ...

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Don’t be yourself, be pretty instead

One cannot change what society considers beautiful. Neither can one berate it for being attracted to certain physical features, say a fair complexion. We can, however, change ourselves. If there is something about one’s body that nettles him or her consistently, why not change it? It is inarguable that in an ideal world, inner beauty is more important than physical beauty. However, it should be realised that these two are not inversely related. A good-looking person is not ipso facto a black-hearted, Sauron-esque villain. There’s nothing wrong with being beautiful both inside and out, which is why I bluntly say: Don’t be yourself, ...

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Neck creams: The truth about aging

This isn’t usually my forte – writing about terrorism I can handle, but aging? There was nothing in the writer’s journal about this. I suppose worrying about where Osama Bin Laden has been all this time has finally caught up with me – or at least in the form of the beginnings of fine lines on my forehead. Since I’ve turned 27, I feel like I’ve aged over night. My body clock has definitely kicked in – even the most vicious of babies look like cute little bundles of joy and cotton wool. I’m slightly more concerned about the area ...

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Ads that tell us we are ugly

I was at Madihas, a convenience store near my house. We were out of cat food, and I knew better than to waste a second with mewing felines. After stacking up on cans of Whiskas, I walked to the checkout, where I noticed a curious looking product sitting on the counter. On its packaging, the product proudly sported an unequivocally grotesque picture. It was the face of some dude, with one exact half significantly lighter skinned than the other. It eerily reminded me of a poster of the Incredible Hulk, where one half of the face is Dr Bruce Banner, ...

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How Saira learned to smile again

Saira Liaqat was a teenager when she married a relative. Both families agreed that she finish school before moving in with her husband. However, just a few months later he was demanding she drop out. One hot day in July 2003, her husband arrived at her house and doused Saira’s face with acid. Her face was entirely disfigured, her right eye was blinded and she could barely see from the left. The acid attack erased any trace of the pretty girl of the past – but it has not crushed her spirit. Fortunately, she received help from the Depilex Smile again Foundation, an organisation started ...

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Why being hot really sucks

Are good looks a blessing or a curse? Studies have shown that good looking people succeed faster professionally – if two people have the exact same experience and qualifications, everything but different looks (average looking vs beautiful) – more often than not, the better looking one is selected. In all professional recruitment training, we are taught to dress formally and professionally for interviews. Appearance matters, looks matter even more. Good looking people succeed faster. Better looking girls are always sought after for marriage. Everywhere, there seems to be a certain bias in favour of good looks. The eye of the beholder It all ...

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Cleanliness: Another dream for Lahore

Shahbaz Sharif, our chief minister, has said he wants to see Lahore become as clean and presentable as Istanbul. The statement is music to my ears, weary as I have been growing of stereotyped statements reeking of hatred and violence. Given the oppressive atmosphere created by these, this one came as a breath of fresh air. But then I remembered some more statements of a bygone era and then some more – the declarations about beautifying Lahore. One I remember particularly well was an announcement that Lahore would be turned into Paris. And it was not a single Punjab minister ...

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