Stories about books

We don’t have a new syllabus, schools or books but you want to give us iPads?

Recently, I came across a piece of news about the Punjab government’s decision to replace traditional course books with iPads next year. Adopting advanced technology in education is a really good idea and it has already been successfully implemented by the United States, the United Kingdom, China, India, Australia and a host of other countries. These nations have the potential advantages of reducing expenses on books, saving trees, student-centric learning, greater collaboration with other students and access to wider resources of education. However, there are a number of underlying issues — some fairly obvious — that rule out the idea of introducing e-learning ...

Read Full Post

Remembering Ashfaq Ahmed: Through his stories, he will live forever in our hearts

On September 7, 2004, while sitting in my office and doing my routine work, I received a call from a close friend. Without the usual ‘Salam dua’ he exclaimed, “Ashfaq sahib is no more; just got the news.” It was a short sentence, but it had many aspects attached to it. The feeling of a great loss, sweet memories of so many stories, dramas and plays, of colourful travelogues, funny incidents, thought-provoking quotes of Sufis and other baabay (mystics); nostalgic recollections of a life well spent, and fully lived. So much came to mind and passed like a breeze, leaving me numb and motionless ...

Read Full Post

Khaled Hosseini’s new masterpiece has a story for each one of us

Khaled Hosseini has won many fans with both “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” as he enraptured readers all over the world by humanising the tragic recent history of the Afghan people.  While similar to his previous work, Hosseini’s new book “And the Mountains Echoed” is a masterpiece that will capture readers instantly, with a richly woven web of interweaving and gripping stories tracking the fates of multiple generations from their origin in a rural Afghan village to their dispersion across the world – from Kabul to Pakistan to Paris to California and beyond.   Hosseini has a gift ...

Read Full Post

Urdu and I: A love affair

In grade six, I handwrote Ibne Insha’s “Kal Chaudvin Ki Raat Thee” and gave it to a girl I firmly believed to be my soul mate. Her lack of enthusiasm at replying with an equally moving ghazal (or even replying at all) dismayed me so I delved further into Urdu literature than I had ever before. “What was a grade six student doing reading Ibne Insha?” I hear you ask. To put matters in perspective, I had grown up in a house full of books. I carried my Famous Five right next to Inspector Jamshed and His Gang. Books on ...

Read Full Post

My father: Absent but always present

My father, who is hardly ever here, Lines his walls with books As though to prevent them from falling in. The mismatched clothes he likes to wear, They smell like thoughts Of pine trees and topological functions. My father, whenever he is here, Lends me his helpless traits. And I shelve them obediently, my walls mere imitations. My father, when he goes anywhere, Carries his roots with him In the tilt of his head, in the clearing of his throat. My father, who is never here, Gifted me his hands – But not what was in ...

Read Full Post

Diary of a book lover

I almost stole a book once, from a library in Rawalpindi. It was a beautiful copy of Dombey and Son; I’ve never seen one like it again, with paper almost silk to the touch. I had kept a track of the book for months – it was never issued, except by me. It won’t be missed, I thought, and the theft will only come to surface when the yearly audit happens. Who knows where I’d be by that time? I held the book for a long time, justifying my action and finally walked out, without the book. It was my first ...

Read Full Post

10 breakup blunders you can avoid

My cable operator recently found a way to irk me and my childhood friend with a particular music channel that he constantly televises. Repeatedly playing “Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely” by the Backstreet Boys and the Titanic theme song, throws us back into a galaxy far away, purposely buried away, of our first love and the breakup that followed. Nobody likes talking about breakups, but these sappy songs reminded us of some absurdities we have gathered along the way and how to avoid them. Here are a few: 1. Breakup shopping Before throwing away your months’ salary on shoes and bags, just remember, ...

Read Full Post

A short, myopic and utterly biased guide to bookstores in Lahore

Let me qualify this first: by ‘books’ I almost exclusively mean books of fiction and poetry — and my judgment of bookstores rests entirely on the said collections. So, go read some other column if you’re into politics or that kind of a thing. Just go away. (Also, I don’t discuss Urdu books here either; there will be another piece for that.)  Now let’s begin with the usual suspects, Ferozesons and Sang-e-Meel, which have traditionally provided shadier grounds for fiction lovers. Over the past few years, however, these two have fallen on hard times — and it seems to me, ...

Read Full Post

Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows, Pottermore and saying good bye

Indeed, it all ends here as millions around the world unwillingly let go of a rope that for the last fourteen years has allowed us to descend– nay, apparate – into the most fantastical, timeless world ever to have been conjured (pun intended). Last Thursday author JK Rowling joined the Harry Potter cast in Britain, fictional home of Potter’s mystical world of magic, to promote the final film in the seven-film series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two. The cast, transformed from mousey-haired, ambrosial little children into chic, downright dapper young adults, spent hours mingling with fans as they ...

Read Full Post

For the love of books: One woman’s battle

We are not always the monstrous creatures depicted in newspapers. There are people around us who are working for the betterment of society. These are people who keep hope alive when everything around us is falling apart and crumbling into disorder. The idea was simple: to help. While most of us were fixated on how the last game of Manchester United turned out or busy posting videos of a pleading man being mercilessly shot dead by the law itself I felt hope because of a young woman I have never met. She is one person who is bent on changing the lives of ...

Read Full Post