Stories about peer pressure

I resigned not because of my boss, but my co-workers

It is said that people do not quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. However, what I believe is that sometimes people quit not because of their boss, but due to a hostile work environment – or in my case, the bad attitude of some co-workers. Let me offer a disclaimer that I am not here to badmouth my former colleagues. Instead, I wish to share my experience, and my realisation that sometimes people are so competitive and callous in a workplace that they don’t realise how their bad attitude can affect a person’s mental health. It was last year ...

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Islamophobia is an undeniable fact in the West, but Muslim Americans can’t jump the gun and label every act as hate crime

It is true that Islamophobia is a real phenomenon; Muslims have been and continue to be targeted because of their faith, principles and values. There are segments of societies in the western world that stereotype Muslims as gangsters, thugs and terrorists, want them barred from ever entering their countries, and it is highly unlikely that this hostile attitude towards Muslims will simmer down anytime soon. The President of the United States, Donald Trump, is a racist bigot who hates Muslims (but not his rich Arab friends) and will continue to incite violence against law-abiding Muslims wherever and whenever he can. Having said that, and in the light of recent developments ...

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With friends like Ali Abrar’s, who needs enemies?

Recently, a video has gone viral across Pakistani social media. It shows what appears to be a good-natured young man standing on the edge of a few rocks while staring naively at a stream. Here, his ‘friends’ egg him on to take a plunge and swim across the river to the other side. The problem with the challenge can be clearly seen in the boy’s eyes – the current is moving quite rapidly, with hidden dangers lying under the water, and unless he’s Superman, he’ll be in trouble. But peer pressure is a funny thing. It can initiate anyone into an ill-advised decision in ...

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13 Reasons Why: Hannah lives and dies in all of us

The bathwater, initially clear blue, gradually takes on a pinkish hue. Like rose water, or fresh henna that’s come off of tattooed hands and feet immersed in a bath tub. The water overflows onto the pristine white tiled floor, making it blush. The changing colours mesmerise me. My mind unsuccessfully tries not to focus on the source of that colour. Blood. Blood that oozes out of deep slits in both forearms of a beautiful young girl. Hannah (Katherine Langford) sobs quietly and sighs deeply but refrains from screaming despite the pain from incised sinew, nerves, arteries and veins. Hannah’s muffled groans eventually ...

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Medicating women’s feelings

Women are moody. By evolutionary design, we are hard-wired to be sensitive to our environments, empathic to our children’s needs and intuitive of our partners’ intentions. This is basic to our survival and that of our offspring. Some research suggests that women are often better at articulating their feelings than men because as the female brain develops, more capacity is reserved for language, memory, hearing and observing emotions in others. These are observations rooted in biology, not intended to mesh with any kind of pro- or anti-feminist ideology. But they do have social implications. Women’s emotionality is a sign of ...

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Being dishonest about ugliness

Adults often tangle themselves in knots when discussing physical appearance with children. We try to iron out differences by insisting they don’t matter, attribute a greater moral fortitude to the plain or leap in defensively when someone is described as not conventionally attractive, or — worse — ugly or fat. After all, there are better, kinder words to use, or other characteristics to focus on. The Australian author Robert Hoge, who describes himself as “the ugliest person you’ve never met”, thinks we get it all wrong when we tell children looks don’t matter: “They know perfectly well they do.” A former ...

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Women will do anything it takes to look beautiful

“Aap moon haath dho kar fresh ho jayain. Mein chai laati hoon.” (You can freshen up. I’ll get you some tea.) The women uttering this on TV mostly look immaculately well put together, French nail tips and blow dry et al. This sentence deserves the award for the most oft-repeated sentence on Pakistani prime time television. But what is amazing is how good most of the women on our prime time television dramas look while working in kitchen all day, if the dramas are to be believed. Female news persons are also perfectly painted and coiffured, even if not well versed ...

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It’s okay to be a failure

Two years ago I had a breakthrough in life; I failed my finals. It was my first experience of failing in a major way; and my teachers and peers were not helpful. They would judge me and taunt me, and at times, pity me as well. But I was never the loser, ever. How did I, being an exemplary student all my life, fail the exams and become the lowest of the low? Nobody had even taught me how to handle a situation like this. I was left broken, and since I did not know what to do, it disturbed further two ...

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Why are Pakistani women obsessed with their weight?

I should make it clear from the beginning that this unhealthy obsession with weight is not limited to Pakistani women but is the universal truth for women everywhere.  We are either too thin or too fat, with most of us being the latter. In Pakistan, a woman’s elegance, grace, beauty or self-worth is all linked to her weight and other women, mostly, deem a skinny female to be successful.  I noticed this on a recent trip to Pakistan. After meeting relatives whom I hadn’t seen for a long time, the first thing they commented on was my weight, which had become quite rotund. It didn’t occur ...

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6-year-old child beaten to death in school: Are we teaching our kids to be bullies?

As a parent of a fairly young school-going child, you get a lot of feedback from friends, family, teachers, peers, experts, columnists, TV show ‘analysts’, blogs, books ad infinitum. You get to see a lot of competitive parenting and then you hear of how you need to teach your child how to tie shoelaces, how they need to learn to be independent, how important it is for them to know their ABCs, have the right pencil holding position, etcetera. Lots of parents even brag about how creative a child gets when he or she has to fight another child for their favourite ...

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