Stories about culture

Confessions of a non-hijabi

As a teen, a couple of years ago, influenced by society and culture, I decided to wear a scarf over my head whenever I went out. Then, as the wheels of maturity turned, I wriggled out of the cocoon of ignorant following and started to question myself. Why exactly did I cover my head? Was it because some of my friends had adopted the practice and many people I knew did the same? I stopped. That was it! Guilty as charged. As expected from any mother who took pride in the fact that her daughter had become a ‘modest little lady’, my ...

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Keep the hope alive, dear Pakistanis

We are no messiahs and we are certainly not asking you to turn a blind eye to all the problems that we face. It is always good to remain cognizant of the challenges that lie ahead of you ─ it can help you plan better. But there must never be any room for you to lose hope. Hopelessness, we have been told, is faithlessness. And we have faith. We have faith in the people of this country. We have faith in our belief that the people of this country will complement each other. ‘The Pakistanis’ is a celebration of the little ...

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A marriage does not just come down to ‘love’ or ‘arranged’

A few days ago, whilst skimming through the The Express Tribune, I came across a blog entry titled “Why one should love arranged marriages,” by Sidrah Moiz Khan. Ms Khan’s piece set out to discuss the age-old debate of arranged vs. ‘love’ marriage. However, rather than giving a balanced account the author, being an ardent supporter of the former method of union, gave a diatribe that seemed more suited for Khawateen Digest (Women’s Digest). As such, I felt the need to formally reply to Ms Khan’s blog. Before I begin, I wish to clarify something. I find the terminology chosen by the author ...

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What exactly is a Hindu rasm anyway?

Recently, a friend of mine shared a small story about a “dholki” where friends and family had gotten together to sing and dance and celebrate an upcoming wedding of a dear one. During the festivities, a member of the gathering, who was quite uncomfortable, got up and qualified the event as a “Hindu’ana rasm” (Hindu ritual). This, obviously, was followed by whispers amongst the guests, looks of outrage and blatant stares. Almost all of us have heard this statement at some point in our lives. There are many in our society who deem certain activities or wedding related rituals as being anything ...

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Why we Khan’t

A few days back, a family friend of mine narrated an incident about how he escaped paying taxes, or at least didn’t have to pay the full amount that was due. To cut a long story short, he bribed his way around the system by giving a very expensive mobile phone to the daughter of a tax official. This is a story that, I am sure, we have all experienced and witnessed in different forms and shapes in our everyday life. Now, I would like to point out a few things, which, I feel, are essential to the argument that ...

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The curious case of an American cousin

Imagine you’re the parent of a Pakistani teenager. Focus on the last word there, which signifies rebellion, obnoxiousness and other ‘growing up’ clichés. Who do you blame when your child acts out? TV? Their friends? Aaj kal ka zamana? But not once will you say “Stop acting like the goray children do”. Goray children – welcome to the world of immigrant parents. There’s enough talk of Pakistani immigrants to amass a small library – from ABCDs (American-Born Confused Desi) to terrorists in Britain, from the Green Card queues to the Canadian cold.  But that’s not what’s bothering me. As I write ...

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The horror of ‘the other side of the bridge’

Phrases like, ‘Oh no! Your house is on ‘the other side of the bridge’,’ or ‘That side of the bridge is so far away,’ often frequent the regular Karachiite’s tongue. In fact, there is a general feeling of time wastage, shock, disgust, annoyance, frustration and condescension associated with ‘the other side of the bridge’ in Karachi. Many of these chords ring at the mere mention of the bridge that connects the Defence side of Karachi to the rest of the city; the ‘other side’ of the city – the darker, scarier, gloomier side of the city. Sheesh, the drama! Here are a ...

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Is a safe work-environment a privilege only the rich deserve?

Recently, I attended an International Conference on Occupational Safety and Health Training  in Islamabad. During this two-day workshop, I was baffled by the advancements made in terms of protecting the valuable lives of skilled labour.  I heard talk about the use of Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) for workers’ identification and safety; the use of iPads for addressing construction workers during their toolbox meetings (a worker meeting held at start of a day); Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology for worker safety and, in short, a stream of new, innovative ideas. I must say, I was very impressed by how big companies valued ...

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Coke Studio is making a mockery out of our culture

At the risk of sounding judgemental, let me state flat out that “Coke Studio” is the place where a revitalisation of folk culture is endeavoured by slaughtering it. A not-so-thoughtful cogitation, in this case, has led people to believe that through commercialism a win-win situation can be achieved to the benefit and amusement of all the stakeholders, i.e. the producers, the conglomerate and the MTV generation. The idea clicked. The “Coke Studio” fad is running amok. Social media is replete with ‘Naulakha Charkhas’ and ‘Jugni’. Rohail Hayat seems to have acquired the status of ‘god of music’. Rambling on about the latest episode of “Coke Studio”, ...

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Treats from the street: Delicious and affordable

Traditional street snacks are a significant part of Pakistani culture. Originating from rural areas, they have also earned popularity in big cities over the years. Not only are they affordable but very delicious too, with a tinge of the typically rural taste. Despite the advent of international fast food chains, the desi roadside snack hawkers continue to run a thriving business; serving eager customers on the streets, at signal stops and outside schools. Most of these snacks are made out of locally grown fruits, vegetables and kernels; thanks to the year round crops of our country. The cooking methods employed use little or no oil ...

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