Stories about poverty

“Yahan peshaab karnay wala ghada hai”: To pee or not to pee?

The traffic, temperature and the pressure is at its peak, with one hand on his bladder Ritesh Kumar stands between a locked public washroom and a mosque. Karachi: Each no-go area is a safe house for another; welcome to Karachi, a city of 16 million people where public lavatories have become equally restricted for the militant, khaki or a civilian. “Yahan peshaab karnay wala ghada hai.” Whoever urinates here is a donkey. These warnings are painted on many walls in Karachi. The only option people have is to accept the compliments written on the walls and keep on going. According to UNICEF, “There are ...

Read Full Post

On Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

“My dear sir,” he began almost solemnly, “Poverty is no vice – that is the truth. I know that drunkenness is also no virtue, and that is even more so. But destitution, my dear sir, destitution is a vice, sir. In poverty you may still preserve the nobility of your inborn feelings, but in destitution no one ever does.” This turned out to be my second attempt at reading Crime and Punishment; the first attempt was brought to a sudden halt by a slight turn of events. As a result, this wreaked havoc on my vintage copy of Crime and Punishment – the one translated by Richard Pevear ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan and India should celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

Sometime back I ran into an elderly man at work. Since I live in an area of Canada that is densely populated with immigrants from Indian Punjab, I knew the gentleman was from India. After I was done helping him out, he looked at my name-tag and asked me what part of India I was from. I told him I was from Pakistan, not India. A wide smile appeared on his face, and he asked me what city of Pakistan I belonged to. After I mentioned that I was from Lahore, his smile grew even wider as he got teary-eyed. ...

Read Full Post

Parday kay peechay: A humourous unveiling of Pakistani society

Parday kay peechay starts off with a typical scene at a funeral—relatives, both close and distant, feigning sadness for the deceased, backbiting aunties, and, of course, as is custom in Pakistani society, talk of rishtas. The play revolves around the family of the late Mr Kazmi attempting to gain a stronger financial footing by convincing one of his daughters, Alia, played by Shanze Hasan, to marry the son of an American businessman. However, Alia’s sister, Leena (Alina Salahudin), wants the American boy for her own self, and thus pursues Daniyaal, played by Saad Mirza, while comically setting up mean-girl-esque pitfalls ...

Read Full Post

What’s the point of your National Laptop Scheme if I can’t read or write, Mr PM?

The Prime Minister’s National Laptop Scheme was introduced in 2014, an expansion of a previous version by the name of the Shahbaz Sharif Youth Initiative. Four billion rupees have been allocated for the scheme and more than 100,000 laptops have been distributed through the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in colleges and HEC recognised universities. As part of phase two of the Laptop Scheme, 25,867 students were meant to receive laptops by February, 2016. But what concerns many of us is, what the return on this extraordinarily huge investment under the banner of Youth Initiatives has been so far – especially ...

Read Full Post

A six-year-old’s wish: “I like Pakistan. But I hope they make it better like Canada”

 “I like Pakistan. But I hope they make it better like Canada.” These words have been haunting me for the last couple of hours, written by an ostensibly vivacious six-year-old. They speak of the intense trauma that he is currently experiencing when relating to his homeland. A child’s innocence enables him/her to create impressions that perhaps lays bare the lines of fault and pretence which envelops our vastly deceptive lives. Children often have the uncanny ability to see through the façades which we erect on impoverished realities of life, and since their hearts are yet to be tainted by the vices ...

Read Full Post

His shoes disgusted me

I was in the bus sitting next to him, trying hard to look away. I had never seen them so close – so broken before. Generally, the stitches were patterned, the shine was bright, and even when it was dull; they made the person complete, secure. But here, a small piece from the side was missing. There were threads that were coming out from the opposite side. I could see his brown sock and his foot was visible from a hole in it. And that sight – that incredibly normal sight of someone’s foot, but in a public setting, with ...

Read Full Post

In Pakistan, the reality of poverty is hidden behind inaccurate numbers

Credit Suisse insisted that the world lagged behind Pakistan in the rate of total wealth increase between 2000-2015. Surprised? According to a report published in October 2015, the total wealth in Pakistan has increased at the rate of 7.4 % between 2000 and 2015, whereas the total wealth of the world increased at an average of 5.2% annually over the same 15-year period. The total wealth in Pakistan increased from $170 billion in 2000 to $495 billion in 2015. Similarly, the Economic Survey of Pakistan 2015-16 has claimed that the per capita income in dollar terms has increased from $1,516.8 in fiscal year (FY) 2015 to $1,560.7 ...

Read Full Post

Thari culture, palla fish, Bombay bakery and my meethi journey through rural Sindh

Quiet recently, I joined a small group of close friends on a trip to Tharparkar, Sindh. The three of us reached Karachi by air and went to Hyderabad by road, where two other group members joined us. The five of us started our journey to Tharparkar via Badin. Our first stop was at Mithi, the district headquarters, where we experienced the first taste of hospitality by a Hindu friend’s family, who despite being vegetarians had prepared meat for us with various other delicious vegetables. After enjoying the scrumptious meal, we continued our journey onwards to Nangarparkar. On our way to Nangarparkar we ...

Read Full Post

The biggest treasure we can give our kids is to teach them about Edhi

He was not a mystic, an angel or someone from out of this world. He was a common man. He was from amongst us who stayed true to his roots and taught people a better way to live through his actions. What made Edhi stand out from everyone else was not by any sort of divine miracle, but because of the actions he took and decisions he made in his life. He faced poverty, lack of resources and odds (like all of us do) but he did not bow down or shy away from challenges; whenever he was faced with ...

Read Full Post