Stories about cambridge

Remembering Asma Jahangir: A democrat in a country that loved dictators

“Pakistan cannot live in isolation. We cannot remain shackled while other women progress.” – Asma Jahangir A year ago, when the news came in that Jahangir had passed away, I felt like I no longer recognised the legal system I had worked so hard to become a part of. To understand why, let me tell you a little bit about who Jahangir was. Jahangir was a woman who was born a democrat in a country that loved dictators. The Convent of Jesus and Mary may have been the first to discover this. The Convent had a system for selecting their head girl ...

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The road not taken: Going to Cambridge or getting married

In Pakistan, and in my native language Urdu, woman translates into aurat, which comes from the Persian awrah, meaning “parts to be protected”. Literally, too, in my present Muslim, closed-knit, patriarchal society, women like me are guided — by their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons — to be protected from threats against their body and family honour. While these men encourage “western” trends to an extent — like education at reputable schools, recreational sports, or even temporary employment — cultural traditions halt these prospects after marriage. You are born, our men tell us, to marry fast, and vouchsafe both yourselves and your future daughters ...

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Dr Abdus Salam, forgotten but not forgiven by Pakistan

The hush silence that marked Doctor Abdus Salam’s death anniversary this year was palpable. It is fairly difficult for most of my compatriots to honour the services of a Pakistani if he happens to be an Ahmadi. However, there is a lot more to Salam than merely winning a Nobel Prize or being ostracised as a pariah for his religious affiliation. A befitting gesture on my part would be to clear some of the hazy aura and the lesser known Sisyphean struggle that makes him unique and inspirational. Missed out on a Nobel Prize, but never gave up Where the world is still in awe for Salam winning a Nobel Prize in Physics, ...

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Do you qualify? The imperialistic exclusivity of the Karachi Grammar School

Like many Karachiites who get very good results in their ‘O’ levels, I decided that my grades were my ticket to the prestigious Karachi Grammar School (KGS). KGS, you see, practises a vague semblance of meritocracy (and maintains its college admission rate records) by allowing a handful of high-achievers into their hallowed gates at the A-level stage. People nod impressively if you tell them you went to KGS, and in a city obsessed with class and nepotism, the doors of KGS mean opportunity and exclusivity. In short, the school represented to me an elusive and exclusive glamour that I ...

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H is for Hawk and B is for Brilliant

Helen Macdonald’s searing and savagely beautiful memoir, H is for Hawk, is a unique and sublime meditation on loss and identity. On its surface, H is for Hawk is essentially a vibrant and mesmerising account of taming and training of a young female goshawk, however, the premise and the depths of Macdonald’s sumptuous writing make this book go far and beyond the realms of traditional nature writing. It is a book that encompasses various literary traditions to create a reading experience that is as heart-warming as it is heart-stopping.  At the beginning of the book we meet Macdonald who is in her thirties ...

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The culture of fat-shaming: A conversation with Ali Moeen Nawazish

I’ve written extensively about the society’s attitude towards overweight people. Seemingly harmless jokes and unsolicited weight-loss advice often has serious, negative impact on the lives of people struggling with weight problem. I sat down with academic prodigy Ali Moeen Nawazish, to discuss the issue of fat-shaming and body image. Do you consider shaming people for their weight as something perverse? Definitely. Just judging anyone by not their actions, but the way they look, they sound, they speak; the whole concept of judging people based on these arbitrary things is perverse. Have you personally been a victim of fat-shaming, or suffered from poor self-image? Ever ...

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Let the Aitchison legacy prevail!

Aitchison College has boasted its majestic red brick buildings and traditions for over 125 years now. As we all know, generation after generations have followed the footsteps of their fathers and matriculated from the college. Recently, the new rule approved by the Board of Governors (BoG) of Aitchison College states that kinship has been abolished, so that merit may be ensured during the admission process. In my opinion, abolishing kinship is completely absurd. I, as an old boy (a term we use for ourselves after passing out from the college) think that the college builds pedigrees. Aitchison is not just an academic ...

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The tree trunks of Cambridge and an old people’s home

I have always been an ardent admirer of trees. One of my earliest childhood memories is accompanying my elder sister to watch a parrot living inside an old tree trunk. Very stealthily, we used to approach the old tree, making sure we did not cripple dead leaves or twigs under our feet, thereby alerting the parrot of our visit. It was a surreal moment for me as a child; witnessing a tree being home to a bird, since before that I had only pictured birds either flying or preying upon insects from the ground. Ever since, I started keeping an eye ...

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Rahul Gandhi versus Bilawal Bhutto: Who is the better politician?

Bhuttosim and Nehruism–Gandhism share some political traits that have blended the mainstream politics of India and Pakistan for quite a while now. The common one amongst them is, unfortunately, the politics of sacrifice. The Bhuttos and the Gandhis have given up and surrendered their lives in the South Asian region to preserve democratic norms and traditions. During ‘Operation Blue Star’, Indira Gandhi, the third prime minister and the first female premier of India, was assassinated. Her son, Rajiv Gandhi, the sixth prime minister of India, also died in a well-plotted bomb blast while campaigning in Tamil Nadu. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (R) and Indira ...

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Punting in River Cam

The city of Cambridge, located a short 40-minute train ride north-east out of London, is a centre for academic excellence and research – being home to one of the premier higher-education institutions of the world, the University of Cambridge. While the school barely needs an introduction, not many Pakistanis are familiar with the city, aside from the academic significance it holds. However, the centuries-old Gothic campus buildings and their lush green botanical gardens render Cambridge the veritable architectural museum of England, with people flocking from all over the world to experience its glory themselves. Much like them, one day I took ...

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