Stories about culture

How do you explain ‘the lota’ to a foreigner?

We miss many things when we’re living away from home – mangoes, bun kebabs, paan, the dust, the loadshedding. Okay, okay, just kidding! We miss some of these things, but we manage without them, one way or another. There is one thing you cannot do without, though, and that’s the lota. It is such an integral item of sub-continental and Muslim culture, that even a short term visitor such as the famous American designer Charles Eames couldn’t help but notice it most particularly when he visited India in 1958.  He had this to say about it: “Of all the objects we ...

Read Full Post

This Independence Day I long for peace with India

“Panchee, nadiya, pawan kay jhokay, Koi sarhad na inhay rokay, Sarhad insaanon kay liye hai, Socho tum nay aur mainay kya paya insan hokay ” – Javed Akhtar (Birds, streams, the flowing breeze No border can stop them Borders were made for mankind Just think,  what did you and I get for being human?) Monday, 5:45am, December 7, 2012: I am at the India-Pakistan bus terminal in Lahore. It’s bitterly cold and yet the throng of well-wishers outside the gate is ever growing. Some are waving goodbye to their relatives about to embark on the bus for Delhi. Others are crying into their shawls or trying to put on a stoic face ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan, where humanity is dead

A few years ago, my aunt was driving with my uncle sitting next to her. They were in the service lane, and wanted to change lanes when my aunt saw the car next to her trying to make a turn too. She thought that the car was turning in another direction, and so, decided to proceed with the turn. However, things didn’t work out in her favour and the two cars collided. In the accident, the other driver walked out without a scratch while my aunt was badly injured with blood oozing down her arm. After that came the traffic fights. People crowded around the ...

Read Full Post

A tour of Sri Lanka’s history

One can recall Pakistani culture, when standing in front of the National Museum of Sri Lanka – the most beautiful and historic place in Colombo. The visitors always talk about South Asian culture and art, particularly, Buddhist art in Pakistan. Governments of both countries are also fostering a relationship based on the shared cultural heritage. Now, the High Commission of Pakistan in Colombo is taking steps to send replicas of key artefacts that can be kept permanently at the museum in Colombo. Watching the history of the Stone antiquities Gallery of the Colombo National Museum, I was told that it goes ...

Read Full Post

This is not a political piece, it is the politics of everything

This will not be a political piece. I stare at the word document as my fingers click to the beat of muted thoughts. No, I will not write about ongoing protests. This will not be another election monologue. People need a break from the prevalent hyperactivity. There has to be something worthy of being written that is not political. A copy of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas sits next to my laptop. Surely, the six narratives that weave the plot of the novel are not related to Pakistan. But part one of the book — Adam Ewing’s journal entries — circles around the ...

Read Full Post

Life in South Korea

May 2011, I came to South Korea with lots of questions in my mind. Truly speaking, back home we have heard about oriental countries, mostly China and Japan but rarely Korea. A lot of people may not even know that North and South Korea are two different countries as they are mostly referred to as simply “Korea”. Whatever the reason, I am still not sure. The funny thing is the the only time I see people making the mention of South Korea is after Gangnam Style becoming a youth anthem, and yes, of course, after the recent tensions between North ...

Read Full Post

Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewah will have you in fits of laughter

They say good laughter is a form of internal jogging, so when was the last time you laughed out really hard? You know, the uncontrollable, hearty kind of laughter that leaves you appreciating the object that triggered it? Yup, that kind. I laugh out loud every time I watch ARY Digital’s drama serial Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewah. Though many people I know are quite skeptical about the authentic humour it contains, I admire it for the realistic portrayal of events that the socio-economically lower class witness in their everyday lives. Quddusi Sahab Ki Bewah is a comedy drama serial which aired for the first time ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan could be a tourist’s delight

You may have heard some remarkable stories about Pakistan as a tourism hub from your parents and grandparents. The 60s and 70s, in particular, were the decades when tourism in Pakistan saw its prime. The pictures of those days can still be found doing rounds on the internet, boasting a plethora of visitors from all around. Those were the days when Pakistan would invariably feature in the lists of international tourist destinations. I haven’t seen that Pakistan, but I can well imagine it, owing to the accounts I’ve had from many people around. Therefore, when I came across this article titled, ‘Pakistan tourism: a sleeping giant?’ in an Australian ...

Read Full Post

In Lahore: Bridging divides through culture

As I was taking my place in the audience at the first Lahore Literary Festival, all eager and ready to report for this paper, my gaze took in around 50 or so young people milling about. It was 9:30am on the morning of February 23 and there they all were, dressed up in their fashionable best, to hear that leftist Tariq Ali speak about all things revolutionary. And there I was, thinking it was mandatory for all young people to stay in bed past midday at the weekend. This is not to say that the Festival was without groupies. Much ...

Read Full Post

Jahaiz, destroying families one wedding at a time

The absurdity of the dowry norm, commonly known as jahaiz, prevalent in our society has long been debated. I did not realise the gravity of the issue until recently when my father’s cousin had to sell off his shop — the sole source of income for his family — to arrange the jahaiz for his daughter. The girl is now happily married to a financially stable guy but her family back home is finding it hard to survive. Her mother, who started sewing clothes to earn a living, has developed an eye illness that cannot be treated due to the treatment’s high ...

Read Full Post