Stories about Punjabi

I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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Why have we forgotten the long lost glory of the Punjabi language?

The thorny issue of “Pakistan’s regional languages face looming extinction” has been projected to the forefront in an AFP report carried, among others, by The Express Tribune and Dawn. ‘“There is not a single newspaper or magazine published in Punjabi for the 60 million-plus Punjabi speakers,” wrote journalist Abbas Zaidi in an essay, despite it being the language of the nationally revered Sufi poet Bulleh Shah and the native-tongue of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.’ The historical relegation of the Punjabi language comes from the cloud overshadowing the Punjabi stance in the 1857 War of Independence, paving the way for Urdu’s ascendance. The Punjabis meekly ceded the high ground moving house ...

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If you think Trump is racist, come to Pakistan

Muslims in the US and across the globe are condemning, in the strongest possible words, the US President-Elect Trump, for his anti-Islam rhetoric during the election campaign. And now that the British and American people have made the seemingly impossible possible, in the form of Brexit and Trump’s victory respectively, Muslims have every reason to be worried about a substantial increase in Islamophobia in the West. But while the concern for our Muslim brethren living abroad is completely legitimate, let us introspect and have an objective, impartial discussion about Pakistan’s own covert affair with bigotry. One of the reasons Pakistan was founded was for ...

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Why is Sindhi considered an inferior language to English or Urdu?

It was Friday afternoon and I was holed up in my room, surfing through the internet when my nine-year-old sister entered. She had just gotten back home from school so she was still wearing her school uniform. She’s currently in the fourth grade at a well-known school. As I asked her about her day, she started telling me about her performance in a Sindhi class test. She said that the day before the Sindhi test, she was really exhausted and didn’t feel like studying for it. She had aced it anyway. But that wasn’t the point, I asked, “How can you not prepare for ...

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The invasion of the Lahori relatives

There are times when one must write. The alternative is to burst – which would be messy. Because they came today, the rellies (relatives), while I was playing Scrabble on Facebook in a pleasant state of mindlessness. Have you ever played Scrabble? It can be exciting but right then the game was slow. I had just played ‘qi’ which, short as it is, often gets well over 30 points but this time I only got 22. Then my opponent somewhere in Australia played ‘hick’ which got him 18. Obviously he wasn’t having a good day either. Then I played ‘koi’ ...

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I am Pakistani, just like you. Except we’re not the same

Edmonton like many other metropolitan cities is an interesting blend of people of various nationalities, race, religion and creed. Walk around in the neighbourhood or enjoy the lazy summer sunshine in a park and you will be struck with a variety of people and languages you hear. The same exotic sampling of populations is present in schools, which gives children a wonderful opportunity to not only mingle or learn about various cultures but also to accept their differences and forge friendships out of their own communities at a very young age. It was a special day for the children of a small elementary school in Edmonton. They had ...

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Pakistan, I am of you, from you, and no matter where I am, inseparable from you

Once when I was six years old I sneaked out of my grandmother’s house in Lahore’s old Mozang neighbourhood and headed for the nearby Mozang Bazaar, a large market of red-brick shops over a hundred years old. The shops there fascinated me to no end and I was determined to discover kites – my main attraction – of every shape and size. Getting there was no problem as my grandmother’s laane ended in the bazaar itself. Once there though, I lost track of time and my curiosity led me to explore the entire bazaar. At some point I realised I was lost. ...

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If Hindi is a threat to our national and regional languages, what about English?

Doraemon (a Japanese manga anime dubbed in Hindi) is blamed for the corruption of our children’s own language as we continue to speak a mish-mash of Urdu, English and our respective regional languages. Doraemon has risen as the latest target of criticism. This is the time to honour our culture and language and the well-being of our children. It is heart-warming to see that big-shots in the parliament are concerned about the impact of our TV screens on the youngest of their constituents. However, one of their reasons, along with the ensuing public debates, has revealed the entrenched hypocrisy in ...

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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 ...

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He was only a Buddhist by salutations, just like we are only Muslims by virtue of rituals

If you visit the Tiananmen Square at any given day, you’ll see hoards of people flocking around in large groups. Some can be seen led by a guide, others trying to find an inlet to the tunnels that lead to the main square, turning the entire landmark into a beehive. Besides being the womb of the People’s Republic of China where Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, the square also houses the Chairman’s mausoleum. On my 10 day visit to China, I found the Tiananmen Square to be the most religious of all spaces. It ...

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