Stories about money

Who decides who is a beggar and who is an imposter?

Sameer is returning home from New York for the first time in six years. He passes the immigration counter, gets his luggage and comes out of the airport, relieved that he is finally through with all the hassle. Then, he squints around for a familiar face, anticipating a relative who’d be there to pick him up. Suddenly, he feels a tug on his shirt and peering down, he sees two mud-ridden little girls looking up at him, hand outstretched and wide-eyes brimming with expectation. He hesitates and tries to find some Pakistani coins in his pocket to give to them. While ...

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Governments should encourage sports, not sports festivals

While the world develops sports through long term planning and investment, in Pakistan, it is still stuck within an outdated system – a system where everything is done to boost the government’s reputation, much like a communist state. This system has become more evident nowadays, with provincial governments taking it to next level to prop up their image and use sports as a propaganda tool. Sport, like many other important issues of this country – health and education, for instance – have been made provincial subjects under the landmark 18th Amendment. Since then onwards, sports has seen a steady decline at national level ...

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The psyche of a Pakistani cricket fan and the shameless vanity of passion

To understand the psyche of a Pakistani, you first have to understand what it means to love and hate at the same time. This is not semantics. It is truly a reality. To understand the degree of pain our hearts have already endured, you have to understand the depth of hope our hearts are still willing to go to. Finally, if you want to understand the paradox that is Pakistan, you will have to take the leap of faith and understand that one cricket field with a few men in green has the capacity to undo more mental damage than all the ...

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The story of a drug addict: Opium was my drug, my addiction, my mistake

As someone who has been dependent on drugs twice in their life so far, if I had to tell you one reason why you shouldn’t do drugs it’s this: withdrawal is a b****. There are many reasons to do drugs, but the only reason not to that really matters, is really vivid and visceral is that withdrawal is extremely rough. Having regulations won’t stop anybody anywhere, not in Pakistan, not in the US, nowhere. This took me a while to understand, but here is my story, I hope it helps you. My love affair with drugs I started out pretty much like everybody else does, socially ...

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Named and shamed in Utah: How can you deny food to elementary school students?

Imagine this scenario. You are in high school, perhaps 11-years-old and you walk in to the cafeteria with a group of friends. You line up at the food counter, wait your turn anxiously because you have been working hard during lessons and are absolutely famished. Your turn is next. “Do I get the pizza or the burger?” You can’t decide because they both look so good and you are truly very hungry. You flip a coin mentally and decide to go with the pizza. As you proceed down the line with your tray and pizza, you see something rather odd happening in front ...

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Pakistani housewives and the economy: Converting rupees to dollars… for handbags

A couple of days ago I was confronted by an alarming fact. I was sitting with a group of housewives and was told that every month, 30% of those present, converted their pin money into US dollars every month. I was so surprised that I blurted, “But why do you do that?” One of the housewives replied very innocently, “Well, every year when we go on holiday, I buy myself a handbag. Recently, I realised that the value of the dollar is going up and I end up paying more PKR for a handbag each year. So now I just convert my savings into US dollars each month.” What ...

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I entered Jerusalem as a Pakistani Muslim

While I was planning a trip to Jerusalem, I knew that I was taking the risk of losing my money on hotel bookings and transport, as well as the time and effort that went into planning the trip. I visit Pakistan quite frequently and had been to Lebanon, which Israel is technically still at war with since 1948. I planned to enter Jerusalem via Jordan so that in case Jerusalem did not work out for me, I could fall back on Plan B and start my trip to Jordan earlier than scheduled. I set out at 7am from Madaba in central Jordan, still doubtful ...

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Your daughter’s education is as important as her marriage

The wedding season is currently in full swing in the country. There are weddings events and functions almost every other day.  This is the time when practically every household is involved in mehndis, dholkis and mayuns (musical nights) along with nikkahs, shaadis and valimas. I do not know whether it is the pleasant weather that inspires so many to get married at this time of the year or if it is the fact that winter holidays means that friends and family from abroad can attend weddings at this time, not to mention that local schools are also closed, making it easier for the parents. What I do know ...

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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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When you eat at an expensive restaurant, do you think of the poor?

A few days ago, a friend of mine got a job at a university and to celebrate the occasion, we decided to go out for dinner. Of course, it was going to be his treat. After a long debate over what to eat and where to go, we finally decided to have a buffet dinner at a restaurant close by. We decided the date and time and extended the invite to other friends as well. There were going to be seven of us. I lived in a hostel with another friend and so we decided to go together. We reached the ...

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