Stories about culture

Here’s something to chew on…

“The supple, soft touch of his skin against my coarse, scaly fingers. Caressing his plump, rosy cheeks I get a whiff of his gripe-watered breath, lips dribbling with saliva. I stare, yearn, hypnotised for days just simply touching his seductive skin. I held out for six years, three months, two days and 19 hours, but my lust got the better of me and I was helpless against my desire to feel his crimson blood against my starved lips. Starting with a nail, a finger, I enjoyed him piece by piece, every square inch of his youthful arm. Our desire is no different ...

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Sunsilk fashion week: Fashion loves drama

The Sunsilk Fashion Week in Lahore was held at the Expo Centre. It was a spacious venue and ideal to promote the professionalism that is meant to accompany Fashion Week. Attendees were a mix of industry professionals, local and foreign media, retail buyers, designers’ clients, families and friends, with appearances by local icons like US Consul General Carmela Conroy—resplendent in an HSY embroidered gown—Samina Peerzada, Tahira Syed and designers Umar Sayeed, Rizwan Beyg et all. Happily, the number of sleazy uncles attending to check out models has reduced considerably from preceding years; perhaps this has something to do with the drive through jam-packed traffic ...

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Revival of baithak culture

Those lamenting the loss of the Pak Tea House in Lahore, look around you. The baithak culture is back. Baithak: a place to sit, eat, share ideas, create change, and most importantly, a place to just be. The trend is not just to have a restaurant, a cinema or a book store, but to have an amalgam of these under one roof. They are not exclusive clubs but open houses, requiring no membership, nominal, if any, entrance fees and operating on a first come first serve basis. Designer outlets like Melange now house cafes on the side, as do art galleries like Nomad; similarly, ...

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Save the shalwar!

As summer approaches I see colourful billboards everywhere! Skinny models in glam make-up are wrapped in designer fabric – all to impress female consumers. The models wear long qameezes and short ones, baggy shirts and tight ones – what they do not wear are shalwars. The traditional shalwar has all but disappeared from the modern silhouette. It has been replaced by the more Western inspired pants, capris, trousers and churidaars. The shalwar suit that was once a cultural icon is now, nowhere to be seen! The dupatta has met a similar fate. Not so long ago, the dupatta was a cultural symbol worn by Pakistani women and was ...

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Noori: Don’t make digs at pop culture

I recently chanced upon a local morning show where Ali Hamza and Ali Noor of the infamous band Noori were the guests. As the simpering hostess struggled under the weight of roughly two kilogrammes of cosmetics and artificial hair, her more composed male co-host raised a topic of actual interest. There have been few mentions of south-eastern pop culture without Munni Badnaam coming up, as it did on this instance. The brothers vehemently declared their dislike for such mainstream, sales-oriented musical productions – contrary to the opinion shared by a majority of heterosexual males. Looking like he had just discovered a piece ...

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The truth behind the Basant ruling

The Basant prohibition has been explained officially in terms of foul play by kite flyers who use metallic wire or coat their twine with such preparations that it becomes fatal for the people in the streets who happen to get it on their throats. But the real reason is the clerics’ hatred of the festivity. They campaigned against it calling it a Hindu festival and a pagan ritual. The Muslims, they insisted, must be barred from it. It was on account of this campaign that the prohibition was proclaimed. Hindus revere and worship everything in nature. To them, the stars, the ...

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Nationalising culture: A broader perspective

Historically, February is a month of kite-flying in the cultural capital of Pakistan. Basant supporters mark the event as a hallmark of Punjabi culture. By playing up the Punjabi culture aspect, their motivation has been to circumvent the religious connotation attached to it by those who see it, among many things, as a ‘yalgar’ of Hindu values meant to corrupt Muslims. Another thing February is known for is Valentine’s Day. That too has supporters who see it as a manifestation of love and festivity. For the rest, it’s a part of the ‘devil’s plan’ to lead as many souls to ...

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Why democracy fails in Pakistan

Our prime minister stands on the remains of a crumbled democracy. He has approved the expansion of parliamentary lodges so the government can emulate the grandeur of the Capitol Hill. Perhaps the government thinks this measure will help alleviate the most serious security crisis that the country has faced. They may be right as once the luxury lodges are built, parliamentarians may actually begin to attend assembly sessions! So far, the current establishment has failed to save the day. Pakistan is now graced with the 10th ranking on the Failed States Index. Wide spread terrorism, a slacking judiciary, embezzlement of state ...

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Remembering the old Coffee House

Not a day goes by without somebody in the media asking me about the goings on at the Coffee House or the afternoons and evenings at the Tea House. But everybody seems to be interested only in the patrons. Wonder if anybody at all is interested in the people who waited on them and how they survived and thrived in the midst of writers, intellectuals, artists and journalists. For I am reminded today of a Coffee House waiter. Once India Coffee House closed down, Munshi Ji, moved on to Zelin’s Coffee House. After Zelin’s too had closed down I once asked ...

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KLF 2011: The good, bad and ugly

I roped in some friends from my English Literature class to tag along with me to the Karachi Literature Festival at the Carlton Hotel this weekend, and we witnessed some enlightening talks and poor event management.  We managed to catch the last bits of a talk on literature and extremism and therein began the bad. Noisy journos and social butterflies The talk was less of a discussion and more a press/socialite event with people standing around chatting to each other and cameramen rudely pushing their way around. Can someone please explain to me why journalists who were meant to cover the event ...

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