Stories about home

This is for Hobart

The morning of November 22, 1999 was nippy and blustery, typical Karachi winter weather. I woke up early with an air of expectation. Christmas was coming early this year and Eid was going to follow. Pakistan was finally going to beat Australia in a Test match on their home turf and I was ready for school early to savour as much of the moment as possible. The Test series was following after Pakistan had been blanked by Australia in the World Cup final earlier in the year and was billed as the ‘badla’ tour by the press. Wasim Akram, the Pakistan team ...

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I’m Sunni and I went to the 10th Muharram procession in Melbourne!

Pakistan, home to 180 million people, saw another deadly Muharram this year when 57 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Lahore. Each time, short term administrative solutions are followed to bandage the plague of ideological intolerance that has infected us for years. Cities are put under curfew, statements of condemnation floated, promises of fool-proof security made and cellular services blocked for as long the government deems fit. Nothing much has changed since last year, when Raja Bazar in Rawalpindi was gripped by sectarian violence. This religious intolerance and administrative failure is in stark contrast to what I recently experienced in a foreign land. I come from a ...

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What were you doing with so much money at home, Edhi Sahib?

Sunday mornings are the laziest mornings of the week, when all one wants is to wake up to the smell of halwa puri and thick newspapers. However, this Sunday morning, Karachi woke up to the news of a robbery at the Edhi residence – house of Abdul Sattar Edhi and Bilquis Sattar Edhi and – headquarters to the Edhi Foundation, which was looted in broad daylight by unknown dacoits. This is surprising, yes. It should not have happened, I agree. But it happened. It happens all the time in Karachi. I’m just glad that the robbers had at least this much humanity left in them that they ...

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7 types of Pakistani immigrants you’re likely to come across in Canada

It’s been a little over a year since my immigrant status got confirmed in Canada and I have met some interesting kinds of Pakistanis. Immigrants who tend to fall in a certain ‘type’. Even I fit in there somewhere. This is based solely on my observation and interaction. At the risk of over-generalisation, here goes: 1. Perpetual Complainers Inc. (PCI): ‘I complained in Pakistan. I’ll complain here. Stop me if you can.’ In Pakistan, they complained about the skin-sizzling heat. In Canada, they complain about the mind-numbing cold. Back home the hoard of house helpers was too much to handle. Now, they whine ...

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Qadri Sahib, you cannot ‘rent’ your supporters!

Battered by the monsoon and baked by the sun, many Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) revolutionaries seem to be yearning to return home. Alas, they did not or probably could not read the fine print of the contract they signed with their political party. According to a BBC Urdu report, there is growing discontentment among a large number of protest participants who are, allegedly, not being allowed to go home. These include participants who were injured in the clashes with the police, and are ostensibly unfit to sit-in any longer. A young resident from Bahawalpur informed BBC that he’d been promised a sum of Rs6,000 to ...

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It’s just a Pakistani thing…

Distances don’t matter if there is true love involved, I strongly believe in this. I may not live in Pakistan anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it or have forgotten my country. I have been wanting to write about my country for a while now. At first, I was confused about what to write on. I wasn’t sure if it should be a motivational piece quoting oft-mentioned things about Pakistan, or a letter to Pakistanis discussing their woes or a bunch of stories of people who had left India for Pakistan. What makes the perfect write-up for Pakistan? After ...

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Eid away from home isn’t that bad at all

I received a beautiful gift from a complete stranger. I don’t even know her name. It was the last Friday of Ramazan, so I decided to attend the Dua and khatam-e-Quran at my local mosque. Growing up in Lahore, I had never seen the inside of a mosque in my entire life. So, even after more than a decade of living in America, I have rarely gone to my local mosque as I, perhaps, feel that the mosque is a place where men gather. But that Friday, on my birthday no less, I went. As I prayed jammat with women of all colour and creed, ...

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Do your parents a favour and eat at home this Ramazan

According to a recent research, people in Pakistan spend 47.7% of their income on fast food and beverages. If we compare this to the spending patterns of other countries we will realise that this is, in fact, a very high ratio. Eating out is a popular pastime for the people of Pakistan – we are seen at restaurants, food courts and even food stands during festivals and celebrations. Ramazan, ironically, is like a month of food festivities for us. With people choosing different food for sehri and iftar, in Ramazan we are seen frequenting food outlets a lot more than in any ...

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Will you go back to Pakistan after graduation?

I am often asked by my family and friends in Toronto about whether or not I would want to go back to Pakistan after completing my degree here. This question stimulates a range of mixed emotions in me; I think of a lot of factors ranging from the prevailing security situation to job security, job progression and of course my parents’ expectations from me. However, at the end of the day, I always tell them that I will go back. To this, I often hear people saying, “We will see after two years.” Or “Everybody goes through this patriotic phase, you’ll get over it.” Frankly speaking, ...

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“Altaf Hussain has been arrested – get home, now!”

1:20 pm, Tuesday, June 3rd It was a regular weekday with the familiar hustle of an office facing tight deadlines. Some people had finished their lunch and were chatting over tea about the upcoming football world cup. Others were just about to tuck into their food and planning out the post lunch work plan. A colleague broke the news, the possibility of which had been discussed in hushed tones many-a-times. Breathlessly she spilled the words: “Altaf Hussain (Chief of the MQM Party) has been arrested!” All was left aside and everyone started checking social media for updates. Some turned on the news ...

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