Stories about culture

The domino effect of terrorism

While the dictionary defines it as the “use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims there is no unanimous legal definition of ‘terrorism’ If it was up to me, I would define it as a continual dose of fear that creates uncertainty, distrust and melancholy. That melancholy triggers depression, which in turn gives birth to numerous psychological ailments. Recently, a noted psychiatrist from Peshawar, Dr Khalid Mufti, released a survey report, conducted under his supervision by an NGO called Horizon. According to the survey, 80 per cent of South and North Waziristan residents are suffering from mental illness while ...

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The Capital Vulture: Diplomatic Enclave party culture – The bitter truth

The lot of us pitiful Islooites who are used to night life elsewhere will attest that, come Saturday, a deep panic sets in. Has anyone made a plan? What if no one does anything? It’s happened before. However if you’ve got an invite to any one (or all) of the smorgasbord of embassy associated clubs – you’re on the list and maybe you invite a friend along – you’re all set for the weekend. You can politely refuse other invitations with a wry smile; say you’re, unfortunately, going to the _______ Club. Sorry, man, just can’t make it. But at the end ...

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In search of a tea house

Being an army officer’s daughter, I have seen many cities in Pakistan. To say that I have been exposed to various cultures however, would be wrong as the only culture I have an understanding of is that of the army. Most of my adult life however, I have been in Islamabad. Islamabad is the closest it gets to any city being my home. There’s something about the Margallas, the wide clean roads, the neatly laid shopping malls, the winter mornings and the summer afternoons in Islamabad that is so familiar, so comforting. Just recently I had a chance to live in ...

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Kalash: What we can learn from the lost civilisation

My family and I were fortunate enough to spend a few nights among the extraordinary Kalash last summer. This unique tribe is tucked away in the isolated mountain valley of Bumberet, hidden from the rest of the world. Legend has it that 2,300 years ago, when Alexander the Great and his army were pushing deep into South Asia, on their way to India in 327 BC, some of his men remained in the villages of Chitral. As a result the Kalash tribe of roughly 3,500 today consider themselves direct descendants of the Macedonian king. We began our journey along the Chitral-Dir ...

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A return to 80s-style Lahore

Last night I was supposed to attend a Sufi music festival organised by the good people of the Rafi-Peer  group. I didn’t. Why? Because it didn’t take place. That seems to be the story of Lahori cultural life of late. I can remember when things began to change. To someone who came of age in the Post-Zia Pakistan during the early ‘90s, this country was a happening place to be in – almost. In 1989, when PTV tentatively shed its mandatory dupatta, a live concert featuring Pakistan’s premier pop/rock bands was aired and young people danced next to the catwalk style ...

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Khamosh Kalam: The psychology of a writer

Khamosh Kalam, a production of Laaltain – the IVS performing arts society – won the blue ribbon at the Youth Theatre Festival arranged by the Youth Affairs Ministry in collaboration with the Arts Council. The play is a mime that deals with the creative struggle of a writer as he crafts the perfect anecdote. I spoke with the scriptwriters and directors, Zehra Nawab (Foundation year student, IVS) and Arsal Hasan (Second year student, IVS) who discuss the challenges of theatre art in Pakistan. How did the idea for Khamosh Kalam come about? Khamosh Kalam was derived from a question that ...

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Lush language: new words for a new generation

Time is short. Life is full. Too much to share. Let’s micro-communicate. Say it all, in a few words. The new micro-lingo seems to be a word-conservation drive, where you pack a lot of meaning into a few catchy memorable words; this language sticks in the mind like no other. It’s entertainingly expressive, creatively concise and just flows fast and runs deep. Read on to see how. It’s where the punch is “I dined out at this new restaurant. What wah wah food they had there.” “I went to this concert. What wehshee music. Uff I loved it.” For the uninitiated in the ...

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TR = Terror

You’ve heard the rumors: literature is dead, libraries are museums, reading is an outdated practice, and writers are beggars. But, gentle readers, let me assure you, the truth is as ever: people love their writers — and today more than ever. In fact, today’s readers love writers so much, so intensely that they want them to be more than just writers. They want them to be their mystics, oracles, psychics, visionaries, political experts, policy makers, cookie monsters, cuddly bears, bffs, everything — that is, everything but writers. And most writers are like attention-famished kids who have managed to trick everybody ...

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‘Are you having a baby? I hope it’s a boy’

In an era where cell phones and Botox have changed our lifestyles, our mentality is still not very different from the dark ages. If you browse through any Urdu newspaper’s classified section, you might come across an ad that says “beta” (son) in big, bold letters. If you read further, it says “Inshallah, beta ho ga” (God willing, it’ll be a son). And it’s not just newspapers. People send spam text messages like “Boy or girl, choice is yours”. This is a gruesome reality that tells us our thinking has not evolved at all. The stigma attached to the birth of a female ...

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Is the veil not cool enough for France?

Is it difficult to be a woman, a Muslim and a self-proclaimed fighter of gender discrimination – and not support the French government’s ban on the burqa? Nope, no problem. In fact, I feel I am in a position of advantage as a member of a religion that has come under fire from the world’s democracies as well as an outspoken advocate for  equality for both sexes. Let me iterate here: I do not support the ban on the face veil. It is tantamount to human rights violations against minorities. What is French culture? The French government’s ban  says that the ...

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