Stories about culture

Aunty Pussy, butterflies and social shenanigans

Don’t get the wrong idea. Aunty Pussy is just the title character in Tender Hooks, a book I just read – and what a crazy read it has been. This little paperback is a piece of work that’s sure to be misunderstood on many levels. I’m not what you call a hardcore reader (I manage to consume one or two titles a month) but this is surely the finest example of “don’t judge a book by its cover” on my bookshelf. At first glance, one co-worker described it as a Pakistani erotica. Another thought it to be an attempt to “undermine Pakistani ...

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The drawing room culture: Girls on parade

I am one of the many girls who have been through the archaic and bizarre tradition of the drawing room ‘parade’. It involves carrying a tray of tea and goodies to a roomful of strangers and being put on display. Here is how the drawing room scenario unfolds: You are informed by your mother that guests are coming to “see you”. As unwilling as you may be, you to give in to your mother’s orders, or this cliché line may be thrown at you, “Beta, apni ammi ki baat mano. Mein akeli maa nahin, sab hi maayein karti hain,” or “Listen to me ...

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Wayward verses

Let us talk today about a wayward creature. Waywardness, of course, is not a preserve of the humankind. There are countless verses in Urdu that merit the tag including some very high standard stuff. One hears and reads verses that would be credit to whoever they were attributed to and yet like some unfortunate orphans or our urban poor they remain ‘homeless’. I mean you don’t see them in a famous poet’s work or in a celebrated anthology of poetry. And yet, they are not quite unfortunate either. Given that you don’t see them in a renowned collection, they have a secure place ...

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Leave Veena Malik alone!

When Pakistani film and television personality Veena Malik went to India to participate in popular reality show “Big Boss 4” she was doing a job – as an actress not an ambassador. According to Malik one of her tasks on the show was adding melodrama to the program – which she did. She was also, apparently requested to display a certain degree of intimacy with Indian model and actor Ashmit Patel.  This was where it all went wrong. The Pakistani public’s moral barometer hit the roof at the sight of a “quom ki beti” cuddling in the arms of ...

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Violence against women: Where is justice when we need it?

The issue of violence against women in our country is, unfortunately, one that has existed for far too long. Many women still await justice against the brutalities that have made their lives miserable. Anwari Bibi, a resident of Ghotki and a mother of four children, was one of them. She was gang raped by her brother-in-law and his companions while pregnant. After her husband took custody of her children and divorced her, she came to Islamabad to knock at the doors of the self-proclaimed representatives of justice. She returned home not too long after, empty handed. Being a reporter, and more ...

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Book fairs in a country of book haters

“Me and books?” was the sarcasm filled reply, I often heard during my early years when I asked peers, “Which book have you read recently?”. This was my idea of making conversation,  but those around me would rather discuss the latest fast food deals in town. Hence, I spent many hours of my life reading and writing on my own, talking to books, wondering how to share the love of words. However, the situation seems to have improved. Or perhaps there are just more places for me to discover other bookworms like me now. One such venue is the Karachi International ...

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Fight corruption with civic education

It can be said that one of the great pillars of the liberal democratic project is civic education. This project requires the cultivation of certain virtues in the hearts and minds of citizens, in order to foster a democratic culture. These virtues include respect, tolerance and generally revolve around the concept of citizenship. Without these civic and moral resources, the democratic state cannot survive. Indeed, one of the failings of Pakistani democracy is the absence of a universal, coherent and robust concept of citizenship. What does it mean to be Pakistani? Pakistan is a country with a huge youth population, experiencing a ...

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Are you a player?

Men who remain commitment-phobic for too long and have a relatively high success rate with women often continue bachelor lifestyles (whether married or not!) into their middle and even twilight years. With the right amount of energy, money, and zest for life, today’s desi‘champions can become the Hugh Hefners of tomorrow. If you think you are destined to stay forever ‘young’ while dressed in a brocade robe, answer the following questions and see where you rate on the playboy scale: 1) Exes from your younger days are now the mothers of: A  Babies B  Teenagers C  Grown men and women 2) Your pick-up line on women ...

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Prado power: Licence to abuse

My friend’s brother, Saad, was driving back home from work on Shahrae Faisal when a car behind him honked frantically to get ahead.  Even though Saad was in the fast lane, he was apparently not fast enough for the Prado on his tail. He took a little time to slow down and moved into the next lane to give the impatient driver some room. Instead of just driving by, or perhaps offering a subtle note of gratitude, which we rarely witness on the road, the Prado sped ahead and swerved sharply in front of him. Four boys, maybe in their late teens ...

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Eid in Mumbai: A celebration of tolerance

Being a secular, multi-religious country, there are a number of festivals celebrated in India and the festival season just doesn’t seem to end. If Diwali just went by, well now comes Bakra Eid. And when someone talks about unity, at least when it comes to occasions like these, what’s great is people coming together irrespective of their religious backgrounds. Yes, when it comes to the religious practises like the prayers and sacrifice, its only the Muslims who do follow it and most Muslims have to go to the slaughter house or local mosque compound for the sacrifice so as to ...

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