Stories about servants

A day in the life of Nasreen kaamvaali

Get-togethers at our place had increasingly become as monotonous John Grisham’s novels – the same faces, the same stories. That was before a fecund family brought along its 12-year-old maid who doubled as a nanny. Nasreen had a clean face, shampooed hair and possibly her best dress on, but bent by the weight of a chubby baby, she seemed like a blot on the landscape. She couldn’t be part of light-hearted flirtation, political discussions or trade cooking recipes, so she just sat in the corner and smiled. For a pubescent girl stuck with a two-year-old who, when not eating or sleeping, could ...

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Let’s love Pakistan: A new resolution (II)

In September last year, I took up the challenge of making a list of 65 reasons why I love Pakistan; the poor broken country we have begun to take for granted. The idea was simple, but its execution not so much, which is why it has taken me four months to come up with the second set of reasons. I plan to compile the list by August 14, 2012—Pakistan’s 65th Birthday.  Here’s a short excerpt from my previous blog to establish the idea behind this otherwise puerile exercise: I’m going to try to complete the list (of)  reasons – some small; some ...

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Not just a child, a servant

“You are not just a child, you are a servant. You are not only a girl, you are a servant.” This statement made by Dr Ambreen Ahmed highlights the sense of insecurity, and powerlessness faced by many girls in Pakistan who are made to work while they are still very young. “I had never used an iron before and I burnt my hand the first time I was made to iron clothes,” says a girl no older than 12-years-old. This utter disregard for the safety or rights of young children who are domestic labourers is prevalent in Pakistani society. Many are made to sleep in terraces or ...

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10 assorted additions to Pakistani culture

Whether they prompt you to scratch your head in puzzlement, raise your eyebrows in disbelief, or crack a spontaneous smile, life’s little idiosyncrasies break the monotony of one’s daily routine. Expats in particular have a fondness for quintessential elements of Pakistani culture that may be annoying when you live here, but are endearing when you’re away. Here are a few, chosen at random: 10. Go-Gos: Chanting “go” is a universal cheer, (like ‘Go team! Woohoo’) but to feisty Pakistanis, it literally means LEAVE. Example: “Go (head-of-state) Go!” 9. Outdated expressions: Verbal relics from the Colonial era include: “Can I have your “good ...

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