Stories about home

Fasting in America

Ever wonder what Ramazan is like in America, with 14-hour long fasts, and store-bought parathas? Here are the three things on my mind this Ramazan, and what I miss most about home: 1. Mothers From the first sehri of the first roza to the final iftaar before Eid, I see my mother everywhere. As a child, I always woke up to my mother’s soft nudge an hour before sunrise. I vividly remember avoiding the cold tiles of the kitchen floor by wearing bright, layered socks, with Mama shouting in the background, “put on your shoes, you’re going to get sick!” Mama embraced the schedule ...

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Her brothers killed her

I was on the phone with my mother who had left for Hyderabad a few days back, but ended up in our village in district Badin. Her voice shook as she spoke when I asked her if everything was fine. She replied: ‘Did nobody inform you? Shanu was killed by her brothers.’ I felt numb. Shanu, my mother’s second cousin had been shot dead. The thought of her lifeless face gave me goosebumps. Shanu was a middle-aged divorced woman and mother of three, whose two brothers shot nine bullets into her. She wanted to remarry but her family managed to persuade her against it. ...

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Postcard from Dubai

You know, I really wouldn’t say another nasty thing about Dubai if I didn’t know a secret. Yes, it’s true. Dubai and other Gulf states which sear their bottoms on the desert sands have a dirty secret that doesn’t get publicised. And I am going to tell you what it is. To be fair, however, let me just say that there are really no points for you as a critic for singling out Dubai for criticism. Namely, because a. it is an easy target; and b. it doesn’t make a difference. And I agree. In fact, I think it is unfair to diss ...

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What my 5-month-old taught me

Usually, what goes on in the labor room, stays in the labor room. While some progressive hospitals allows dads to enjoy the whole birthing experience, more often than not, us dads and the couple’s close relatives sit in the waiting area, praying for the health of the mother and the baby. Just like in the movies, the father-to-be can clearly be distinguished from the lot as he paces the length of dimly-lit corridors, biting his nails, waiting for the nurse to come out with some good news – it’s just like a scene straight out of a movie. It could take hours, ...

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The Capital Vulture: Tales from Islamabad’s haunted underworld

Are you experiencing strange dreams and sensations in parts of your home? Do objects move on their own accord; does the TV turn on by itself; are you hearing disembodied sounds? Even more macabre: does the bed shake when it’s not supposed to; has your shrieking woken the entire house because, for a few seconds, a tall silhouette appeared and disappeared as quickly as it came? If it’s YES to any one or more of these, you either need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of your shrink (that or get better pills) or you’ve got a paranormal infestation. Most households in this ...

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Working from home: Basic rights denied

Contrary to popular perception, most women work in Pakistan, and often inside the home in the informal economy. Sixty-five per cent of the female workforce works at home, and a 2009 survey estimated their number to be 8.52 million, although activists suggest it may be as high as 12 million. These workers are not protected by formal labour laws and suffer the legal and social disabilities that are typically associated with this form of work – no rights to minimum wage, no social security benefits, inability to organise in unions and lawfully challenge violations of occupational health and safety (OSH) ...

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Let’s talk about sex – II

Sex education has always been a point of conflict between public educators and conservative religious groups. In my last post, the purpose of highlighting the hypocrisy, double  standards and bigotry in our country by focusing our attention to red light area and vulgar stage shows was not directed towards a connection between this and sex education. The only thing which I want us to ask ourselves is: Why are we hushing something that is important for our well being and confusing it with religion, morality and vague notions? It seems that misconstrued ‘religious’ rhetoric has proved to be an effective tool in ...

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What I learned about Pakistan in Muscat

I’m in a new land. Many back home think I am amongst the lucky few who have had the chance to live abroad and see “better days”. But, I wonder, do Pakistanis find happiness in the fact that they are actually home? I was filled with an overwhelming longing for Pakistan as soon as I landed in Muscat. The alien atmosphere, the new faces, the strange dresses, and the various dialects intimidated me. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of being a Pakistani, of wearing our traditional shalwar kameez and bearing the traditional Pakistani look. When ...

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Building Pakistan brick by brick

Living in Pakistan far from home and my friends, it’s only natural that there are moments when I wonder what exactly I’m doing here. Then there are prophetic moments when the clarity of my purpose washes over me with force. This was a moment of comprehension: At Ansaar Management Company (AMC), we were  quite literally, laying the foundation for Pakistan’s future. In a country that sees more poverty than its government is willing to prioritise, a lack of affordable housing means that 30-50 per cent of one’s hard earned rupees go to paying rent.  When $120 per month is considered a normal family income, it’s hard ...

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Reality check: Pakistan can beat India on their home turf

I am not a pundit, and I am definitely not Paul the octopus. I am just a cricket fan who believes in his team. All I ask of other cricket followers is to show respect to our highly talented cricketers who have played exceptionally well to qualify for the semi-final. There is every chance that Pakistan will end up playing at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011. Us Pakistani “rickshaws” will take the highway to Mumbai, leaving behind the BMWs Mr Shastri has claimed India to be. Team Pakistan can win the semi-final, and nonsensical warnings from Mr Rehman Malik ...

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