Stories about culture

Why I chose Karachi University

Karachi University (KU) is to Karachi what Karachi is to Pakistan. I was the first member of my family to attend KU for a Bachelors degree and even after completing four years at the institution, I still get concerned queries from people wanting to know how I survived. It seems strange to me that KU appears like such a distant and uncharted territory to those who have never studied there; it is as if people from KU are aliens! Hence, I thought that I would shed some light on this mini universe for those who have never been here and ...

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Childhood memories of India

In the early 80s my parents, who were both Indians, settled in Pakistan and got married. Yet, somehow they never left India behind and thus began our annual tradition of travelling to Rampur, India each summer. As toddlers, my siblings and I loved the feeling of crossing the Wagah Border. We used to grin and wave at the Sikhs guarding the border who stood there tall and proud, flaunting their grand horses. And how can I forget the petrichor as we passed by the vast, barren fields – it was truly beautiful. For my parents, India was a safe haven ...

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Prayer leader tries to rape 3-year-old: Just another day in Pakistan

We have all read the headlines:  a neighbour held for child rape in Faisalabad, two teenage girls raped and shot dead in Gujranwala and the latest in the never-ending list of gruesome crimes – the horrific attempt of a prayer leader to rape and kill a three-year-old child while she was at a seminary to study. Such revolting treatment of children in our homeland certainly makes everyone feel sick to their stomachs but one wonders what allowed such a shameful rape culture to prevail? There have been 2,713 rape cases registered since January 2012 according to research by the Awaz Foundation Centre ...

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The people of Karachi: Everyone has a story

When in Pakistan, do as the Pakistanis do. Decoding our culture is difficult due to the diversity Pakistanis are blessed with. You’ll always meet people here with a story; they all have a story to tell. And so do I. After having breakfast and reading the Smoker’s Corner on Sunday, I went to a butcher shop. Traditional butcher shops are not a place to visit for the fainthearted in Karachi. They have an acquired smell, resulting from carcasses of goats hanging right above the butcher’s counter and an even row of chickens lined across, with feathers plucked and skin removed. The ...

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La Tomatina festival in Lahore: Can we afford to do this?

It seems as if the time has come for the Pakistani youth to be reminded of the simple yet appropriate pleasure offered by the water balloons. It just so happens that we’ve found a rather unorthodox substitute in the form of the tomato. But we can’t take all the credit for this, or any credit for that matter, as the idea has been copied from Spain’s annual tomato fight festival, ‘La Tomatina’.  For a country such as Spain, with its own traditions and culture and a far superior economic situation than ours, we might let such frivolities slide.  Millions of ...

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Brazil: More than just soccer, samba and sandy beaches!

Soccer, samba, and sandy beaches – I hate to admit it, but those were the three images that came to my mind when I was first informed about my move to the world’s largest Lusophone nation. Alongside many other individuals, I knew little about Brazil itself apart from the hype surrounding its football, economy, and beaches. That is probably what made my fifth country of residence all the more appealing to me – my home for over a year now. Life in Brazil can almost be classified as an art. The appealing climate does have an instant relaxing effect on ...

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Shuddh Desi Romance: Fairy tales exist, with or without marriage!

Three days into the release of Shuddh Desi Romance (SDR), most of the Bollywood viewers (irrespective of whether they have seen the movie or not) know that the film circles around the theme of cohabitation, or live-in relationships as more commonly known. Most of these people have also formed opinions about the movie and its concept, which leaves little room for me to address the movie in. After all, what can I say? Everything has already been said! Frankly, to me, SDR is not about love or relationships at all. Strangely enough, it makes me want to take a good look at ...

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Why you should pick a college away from home

Unlike the West, where living away from home is a norm, a large part of our traditional Pakistani society is new and rather averse to this notion. Most parents are overprotective by nature and are unwilling to disrupt the family dynamics. Thus, they are reluctant to even consider the possibility of sending their children away from home. Sure, attending college in one’s hometown is an experience in itself.  However, I think that the purpose of college education entails character-building, ability to deal with copious amount of pressure and exploring the person that one is or wishes to be. Dorm-life, in ...

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Diary of a frequent Indian ET blogs commenter

Dear Readers, The regulars here know me by my pseudonym ‘Nandita’. The head of the blogs desk has asked me to write a piece about my experiences of commenting on this page for the last couple of years. This is an attempt to enumerate the multiple reasons that compel me to visit The Express Tribune blogs on a regular basis. I started frequenting this site sometime in 2010. I had moved to a new city (yet again!) and I found myself in an unfamiliar environment with little to keep me engaged after office hours. I’d spend the evenings reading books or articles/blogs on the internet while ...

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Landa bazaar: More than just poverty, heat and mud

At the heart of the cultural hub of Pakistan lies the decades old ‘Landa bazaar’. To some it is but a crowded alley of poverty and inexpensive counterfeits; to others, it is a source of sustainable livelihood that bridges the class divide through duplicity. To me, as a student of photojournalism, it is much more than the former or the latter. The bazaar is an important aspect of our diminishing culture; a sea of faces, a juxtaposition of the traditional and the contemporary, and a true depiction of what Pakistan is beyond the urban comforts. The colourful humdrum of Landa Bazaar. ...

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