Stories about culture

Sindh Festival 2014: ‘Culture’ is not a spectacle to be sold, neither can it disguise past failure

The Sindh Festival 2014 is not a beacon of hope; it is a reminder of just how far behind we are lagging. Perhaps it is because of my deep Sindhi roots, my familial history and my life experiences but I don’t think that the Sindh Festival 2014 is anything worth celebrating. I have lived in Hyderabad for 14 years followed by five years in Karachi and the distinction between the two cities is clear – Hyderabad is more Sindhi centric culturally while Karachi is more of a melting pot. Neither one is better than the other but they are both different. In Hyderabad, spectacles similar to ...

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Losing our culture and identity, one drama at a time

Gone are the days when families would sit together and watch Pakistani dramas. Instead, today we get to see the ‘not-so-moving’ storylines that seem to be inspired by Indian soaps. What is worse is that our TV channels show things that are in direct contradiction with our cultural and social values. From pregnancies to abortions, from extra-marital affairs to illegitimate children and elopements, we have been exposed to all kinds and degrees of absurd content in these dramas in the name of modern entertainment. Even respectable relationships are not spared. I have seen countless dramas where a guy falls in love with ...

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Pakistan, a nation raised by ‘maids’ and ‘aayas’

During my last visit to Pakistan, I happened to attend a three-year-old’s birthday party. As the birthday boy belonged to the elite class of a capital city, the extravagance that met my eyes as I walked through the magnificent rust and copper gates, did not dazzle me at all. I was, however,  surprised to see a group of young girls, aged 10 to 15, dressed in obvious hand-me-downs standing near a bunch of little kids playing pat-a-cake. These girls matched the kids around them, both in number and jocundity. My host told me that the girls were the ‘maids’ of the invited ...

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Sindh festival: Learn from Bilawal, arrange culture festivals in every province!

Regardless of whether you like or dislike Bilawal Bhutto, regardless of where your political affiliations are based, the Sindh Festival initiative deserves nothing short of unanimous praise. The homepage of the Sindh Festival website reads, “The inaugural Sindh Festival, instigated by Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, was conceived because Sindh’s rich heritage and culture is in danger. Mohenjo-Daro, the world’s oldest planned urban landscape, lies in a state of disrepair, a victim of neglect and indifference. It is but one of a myriad of sites of antiquity scattered across Sindh and Pakistan which need attention now if they are ...

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Karachi is the lover, the tormentor: Mysterious, dark and hurt

It’s human nature to desire that which is not in your grasp, love which will always remain unrequited and stress about matters that are not in your hands. The worst part is that we know this. And yet it doesn’t matter. Despite this, certain things are bound to catch our attention, making us fall in love so that it’s impossible for us to simply move on, and accept the stark reality of our existence. A small break, sometime apart, a little space can of course prove healthy for our minds as well our hearts. However, our basic instinct always remains an instinct ...

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I am a woman and I can carry my own luggage, thank you

An airport can be a good starting point to begin learning about the culture of any country. Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Airport is much the same. I was motivated to write about this seemingly trivial topic because of the sheer frustration that I felt on arriving at this airport. The experience left me wildly exasperated, and what I am about to give you is a microscopic account on the matter to make you understand my ordeal. After a 12-hour flight from Canada, as I was making my way towards the baggage collection point, I saw a string of porters looking out for potential ...

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If I were prime minister of Pakistan in 2014 I would…

The year 2013 has been heavy on all of us. We’ve gotten through drone strikes, kidnappings and the elections, and had to suffer through the likes of Sahir Lodhi on our radio. On a more positive note, there were a record number of people at this year’s elections. There were talks of better relations with India (which did not really pan out) and Geo finally realised that Sana Bucha’s perfect hair was not enough to keep her on. However, with the coming of the new prime minister, I realised that there are a lot of things that I would change if I were to become ...

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Weddings in Pakistan: Down with the dowry, enough with the spending!

An often ignored reality that has plagued Pakistani society is that getting married is a financial nightmare. Marriage in our country is an occasion for insane displays of spending on outrageously lavish valimas, mehndi banquets, jewellery, give-aways, dowry and similar acts. What is interesting and downright appalling is that all classes of society are guilty of this madness. Our upper-class uses the occasion to show how wealthy they are. The middle-class, as always torn between the echelons of society, tries its best to spend as much as it can and register itself within the upper-class so as to feel accomplished. The poor take out the money ...

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Pashto films are destroying Pashtun culture

“Khandani Badmaash, Bewaqoof, Sharabi, Wehshi Badmaash, Ujrati, Charsi, Dama, Mastay Jenakai, Gandagir!” No, I am not abusing you. I am only naming a few of the famous films Pashto cinema has produced over the year. What is even more astonishing is that Pashtuns are known for their distinct code of conduct called the Pakhtunwali, which is quite different from what these movies depict. The Pashtun culture is an amalgamation of different elements which include the family structure or joint family system, the melmastia or hospitality, the jirga or tribal council which makes all important decisions, ghairat or the concepts of honour and courage and the satar or area of the ...

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Pangea, Cultivate our Cultures event: Uplifting Pakistan’s image in the US

Martin Scorsese, an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor and film historian once rightly said, “People have to start talking to know more about other cultures and to understand each other.” The ethnic diversity of Fargo-Moorhead, in Minnesota, USA is rapidly increasing with the influx of people from different countries and cultures. For the last couple of years, the area has been home to a festival called the Pangea – Cultivate Our Cultures (PCOC) held regularly in order to bring together different communities in Fargo-Moorhead and provide them with a forum to represent their respective cultures. Although there are a number of Pakistanis living in ...

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