Stories about society

Based on real-life story of Muslim immigrants, Ali’s Wedding hits too close to home

Based on the real-life experiences of its star and screenwriter Osamah Sami, Ali’s Wedding follows the story of its neurotic titular character Ali (Sami), an Iraqi immigrant living with his family in a Muslim community in Melbourne, Australia, where his father Mahdi (Don Hany) also happens to be a cleric. Ali’s life is burdened by many of the same expectations that people even in our society can relate to, particularly the young people: his parents want him to become a doctor. But after he fails the medical school entrance exam, he is caught in a web of lies regarding his grades. He ...

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I wanted to change the lives of underprivileged school kids, but they changed mine

While growing up in Karachi in the turbulent 90s, my neighbourhood used to be a perpetual warzone. Acting tough was the only way of surviving. Our future outlook used to be so bleak that career orientation was not even a fleeting thought in my mind. As time passed by and I was faced with the prospect of monetary meltdown at the domestic front, I used to wonder why no one ever extended a helping hand to me and to numerous others who stood at the brink of an abyss that had already consumed hundreds, if not thousands, from our generation due to ...

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Smoking kills, but so does patriarchy

What is the duty of a good brown woman? For most of our society, it’s ‘upholding traditional values’ – whether it’s the ideal bahu (daughter-in-law) in most TV dramas, desirable conservatism in Bollywood dynamics, or unsolicited advice from politicians. A 2017 Ipsos Global Trends report even reveals that 64% of Indians believe that a woman’s primary role is to be ‘a good mother and wife’. This burden of sanskar (values) and dutifulness then become a tool of oppression, of restriction. On the other hand, men have no such shackles, and end up having a monopoly on the social acceptability of ‘having fun’. There is a systematic curbing of women’s freedom to experience ...

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Tête-a-tête with Beenish Afreen: A rebel reclaiming her public space, one bike at a time

In this technology-saturated modern biosphere, women motorcycling are still not a welcome sight. In a conservative society like Pakistan, it is unfortunate that people are more vocal and contemptuous about women riding bikes than they are about the harassment they face in their commutes generally. In a traditionalist patriarchal society where domination is believed to be a masculine realm, the general perception still is that women riding bikes and claiming public spaces or independence are against the orthodox status quo. The ill-norms, taboos and misogynistic expectations ballooned in society are holding women back from empowering themselves. Not many women dare to ...

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Being bipolar in Pakistan has not been easy, especially when people call you “pagal”

The squeaky voice of a trolley passing by woke me up. I was on a hospital bed. I slowly tried to get up while still trying to remember what brought me here. I was alone in the room, and the bed next to mine was neatly made up, with fruits and snacks lined up on the edge of the wall. ‘I had to be somewhere really important’ was all that I could remember. But where exactly? Nowhere! It was all just an illusion, a very dangerous one. I later learned that I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (or maybe it was ...

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Jibran Nasir’s defiance of power and the proverbial slap heard all across Pakistan

A slap is the ultimate insult. It demeans a person; humiliates them. While it’s physically not as painful, the psychological and emotional wounds are much deeper and agonising. The manner in which Mohammad Jibran Nisar was dragged, slapped and bundled in the police van yesterday, on the orders of a Sindh High Court judge for “not giving way” to his vehicle, is symptomatic of the fascism our society has faced for thousands of years in one form, shape or the other. The CCTV footage should be made public to verify what @MJibranNasir is saying & to punish the errant protocol officer of #SHC ...

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Jeez woman! Just take the compliment!

I remember the last time I met with a close female friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. I greeted her with a warm smile and complimented her for being in great shape. Instead of accepting my compliment, she responded by saying, “No, I need to lose some weight.” I wonder why accepting a genuine compliment is so difficult for women nowadays? Why can’t they just say, “Thank you, so sweet of you”, and reciprocate the compliment? Instead, their usual response is blushing, looking away, losing the ability to articulate their thoughts or shaking their head in disagreement, even where ...

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Mahwish Arshad’s cold-blooded murder puts the killer and women behind bars

“O Mother! Hold me in thy embrace, For it is where no scoundrels roam; ‘tis the safest place, Come wipe my blood away and clutch me to your chest, I toiled the day away and now I wish to rest…” Last year, on our way to Lahore, my mother and I chose to travel through a private transport company bus. A young girl in her early 20s welcomed all passengers on board and started serving people food and drinks. A few minutes later, a group of boys boarded the bus and started signalling to the hostess. Their constant catcalling and bothersome behaviour was ...

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“Like father, like son”: Are you hitting, scolding your kids because they are turning into you?

Recently, my friend narrated a story to me which shook me to the core and instigated me to write this blog. A week ago, she witnessed a close relative of hers scolding and hitting his 10-year-old nephew over the fact that the child had started using abusive words in his day-to-day conversations. She added that the outrageous part of the scene was that the man is a habitual user of abusive words himself and was also reiterating offensive phrases while scolding the child over doing so. This is where it hit me yet again, how messed up we are as ...

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Suno Chanda makes the choice for women yet again – marriage trumps education and career

Pakistan’s drama industry has recently been making eye-opening TV shows. We get to see many societal flaws and are made aware of issues people face in their everyday lives. But then there are light-hearted shows as well, made for the purpose of entertaining the audience. One such show is the recently popular Suno Chanda. The adorable couple Arsal (Farhan Saeed) and Ajiya (Iqra Aziz) finally tied the knot in the last episode of this Ramazan special series. The story begins with a betrothed couple’s desire to call off their wedding while the whole family is preparing for it. Arsal and ...

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