Stories about hospitality

No country for Kiki challenge: Forget corruption, ‘goras’ dancing with our flag is the bigger problem

The entire world is familiar with the rather infamous ‘Kiki challenge’ by now. It is yet another one of those social media influenced fads, readily embraced by the younger generation, along with celebrities of course, and involves dancing on the song In My Feelings by Drake. However, one particular challenge landed both a vlogger and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in trouble, and left Pakistanis wondering – why? Eva zu Beck is a Polish tourist and vlogger currently on a world tour, who recently filmed herself doing the Kiki challenge in collaboration with PIA; the latter being eager to promote ...

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With its sandy white beaches and visa on arrival, picturesque Maldives left me spellbound!

In 2016, a colleague of mine happened to take a trip to Maldives, and showed me his pictures when he came back. I didn’t know much about Maldives at the time, but the moment I saw the pictures, the extraordinary beauty and splendour of the place blew me away, and I immediately placed Maldives on my bucket list of the ‘must-see’ places around the world. Soon after, I did my initial research and realised the trip would be an expensive one. Thus, it was a couple of years after being introduced to Maldives that I finally got the chance ...

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Can the real American desi please stand up?

While Pakistani-Americans receive some notice in news because of their professional and social achievements, there are several amusing habits of desis which are hardly ever explored in the media. Noted writers like Kumail Nanjiani, Ayad Akthar and Mohsin Hamid have portrayed Pakistanis in America close to reality, but have missed some interesting facts about them. After living in the US for over a decade, I have observed several habits of American desis which distinguish us from other members of society. Mentioning them is not an attempt to stereotype all Pakistani Americans; it is, in a humorous way, my take on my ...

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If my father dies, I will hold Islamabad’s Shifa International responsible for his death

As I write this, my father is fighting for his life, unconscious with a ventilator pumping oxygen into his frail body from a makeshift tank in the surgical step-down of supposedly one of the best health facilities in this unfortunate country, the Shifa International Hospital of Islamabad. But my father was not like this a couple of days ago. He came to this hospital expecting humanity, civility, hospitality, professionalism and some refined attitude. None of his expectations were met and instead he nearly lost his life. As his bed was being darted into the ICU, he was unconscious and heartbroken. He had ...

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Is the majestic and secular Turkey ready for its horde of tourists?

Nearly 42 million tourists flocked to Turkey last year, generating over $36 billion in revenue for its tourism industry and this year, Turkey is expecting more tourists than ever before. Amidst more than a million other tourists, I too was one of them and visited Istanbul last week. The massive influx of people was evident from an aerial view of the airport, even before we touched down at the airport. Planes landed in quick succession, at intervals of barely a couple of minutes, and the immigration desk lines for foreign passport holders far exceeded those reserved for the locals. The fruit of Turkey’s past efforts in aggressively promoting its many historical, cultural and natural wonders was evident. ...

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‘Kabul gets bombed 24/7’: Eight stereotypes about Kabul

A six-day long Afghan-Pakistan Youth Dialogue in Kabul changed my life forever, as I set off to a venture that helped me break stereotypes about Afghanistan. From their meritorious hospitality  to appetising cuisine, from their commendable social activism to unwavering dedication, I could pen down a novel about my week-long stay in Kabul. But for now, let me share some of the stereotypes which were shattered once I moved across Kabul myself, experiencing and collecting cherished moments. Not everyone gets bombed 24/7 Kabul is not a battlefield and rockets do not come falling over your head. Chances of you dying while driving in Kabul are higher than getting shot at. An Afghan man roller blades ...

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Travelling through Pakistan with my (fake) husband

I am travelling to Pakistan with a stranger I met on a layover in Hong Kong. Within minutes of meeting each other, we knew we could travel together. We hatched a plan over lukewarm Tiger Beer while sitting on smurf-sized chairs in Hanoi. Out of respect for Islamic values, and as precaution, we decided to pretend to be husband and wife from elsewhere, anywhere but America. We rendezvoused in Guangzhou and entered Pakistan from Western China down the Karakoram Highway. As I stood at the airport waiting, I thought, Do I know what he looks like? I wondered for the briefest moment if ...

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An Indian in Pakistan

A simple white shalwar kameez, a pair of traditional Peshawari shoes and a black jacket. The packed hall of about 900 people exploded into thunderous cheers and a standing ovation. Young boys and girls jumped up with excitement, thumped their tables and filled the air with whistles. The welcome befitted a rock star. The man in white moved to the stage and commenced speaking. He spoke clearly, simply and in elegant Urdu; every member of the audience could understand him. His thoughts were crystal clear; he stood for a multi- cultural and secular framework, believed in a corruption free society, ...

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So you think Pathan jokes are funny? Read this!

 The screen of my touch phone glowed and it beeped. I picked it up and it said, “One new message received.” There was a text message and it read something like this. Man: “What’s the difference between a radio and a newspaper?” Pathan: “Yaara (dude), the major difference I can think of is that one can wrap chapattis in a newspaper but not in a radio.” The moment I finished reading it, my cell beeped again. And this time it read, “A man was drowning in the sea. Tourists stood on the ship, helplessly watching the man frantically gasp for air. Suddenly a Pathan, standing on the deck, jumped into ...

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From Palestine to Chitral: Miracles do happen

In an age in which reading or watching the news is enough to turn any normal human being into a raging lunatic or a hardened cynic, the smallest piece of good news is often like a breath of fresh air and can do wonders for restoring a positive outlook on life. Rooftops near North Jerusalem. Photo: Abdullah Saad I am originally a Palestinian from Jerusalem, and like many Palestinians, I suffer (or perhaps benefit) from a severe case of Wanderlust. Dome of the Rock. Photo: Abdullah Saad This means that we have to remain on the move ...

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