Stories about stories

Reading for the soul: Helping kids love books

Today was the last day of my self-conceived experiment at a school in Lahore. A few months ago I had offered three hours a week of my precious time to read stories to my daughter’s kindergarten classmates. I was convinced that after months of interacting with these children I‘d be able to flush out and pacify a bully terrorising my delicate daughter. It would also, I reasoned, provide a good opportunity for a bookseller like myself to test that age-old lament that the youth of today lack the attention span for books – although granted, by “youth” most parents ...

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Pakistan needs to celebrate Mothers Day

Today is Mothers Day – a day specifically marked in the calendar around the globe to honour the women of our society who throughout their lives labour so that their children may have better lives. At first, I didn’t believe in celebrating a day created by the Hallmark Card Company to make profits off emotionally charged children. But, after reading some of the most shocking stories related to mothers in this very newspaper, I have been forced to change my thought process. Mothers Day is important for the entire world – but more so for Pakistan. While we are going through, what can ...

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The big bra brouhaha

Working in the online news world helps you develop a certain knack for determining viral stories. Words like sex, death, rape, religion and blast call out to you from the screen. So, when a headline like “Padded Bras are Devil’s Cushions says Council of Islamic Ideology” pops up in the wires I can understand why a bored sub-editor would sit up and take notice. Here’s a story about extremist mullahs from terror infested Pakistan cracking down on a symbol of women’s sexual liberation – it’s so perfectly cliché, it’s almost funny. The small story soon found its way to international websites, ...

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We do not deserve Shahbaz Bhatti

Minister for minority affairs Shahbaz Bhatti has been brutally gunned down today –  joining the list of many to have been killed.Voices of sanity do not do well here in Pakistan. Just when you start thinking things will be okay, that now the maniacs have safely put away Aasia Bibi and they’ve killed Salmaan Taseer so maybe that’s enough to make their point – you are jolted into the reality that is Pakistan. You understand completely and fully, even if you did not that morning when reading the opinions page of The Express Tribune, why George Fulton is leaving. Today’s breaking news ...

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If you can’t control rape, legalise prostitution

In 2005, thirteen year old ‘S’ was sodomised by a truck driver. After 5 long years in court, ‘S’ finally saw Mola Dad, his abuser get convicted. The judge has given Mola Dad the maximum punishment.  But for this monstrous act, even the maximum means only three years mprisonment, a Rs45,000 fine and Rs200,000 compensation. So while the victim spent five years striving for justice, the criminal would be free in three years and can resume his life. When “success stories” are like this, what can be said about the countless incidents that never reach the police station? The street I grew up on ...

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Pakistan army and the latent power of cinema

It’s safe to say that as a nation we don’t believe in the power of cinema. While it’s true that currently Lollywood doesn’t offer us much in terms of cinematic thrills, it doesn’t mean it has lost the power to deliver. Recently, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in collaboration with a private production company launched Faseel-e-Jaan Se Aagay, a drama series based on the true stories of the brave Pakistanis who stood firm in their fight against terrorism. The principal objective of this drama series is to pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives in the name of their ...

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Dhobi Ghat: Better than Bollywood, a film about truth

Kiran Rao’s debut venture, Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries), is well written and artistically executed. For fans of regular Bollywood masala movies the movie has little to offer. The movie has no songs at all, and does not have a very captivating background score. But if you are interested in alternative cinema you will find the film spellbinding. A few years ago, when Slumdog Millionaire, became a runaway hit, a lot of people around the world got a glimpse of the harsh, dog-eat-dog world Mumbai that is. Dhobi Ghat also provides a glimpse in to the underbelly of the city, but instead of dwelling ...

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Ten things I hate about being a writer

1.       Bleeding on the pages. To my chagrin, I’m one of those writers who unconsciously project themselves in their writing. I’m frequently baffled when people ask why my character is so similar to me or people I know until they point out the obvious details I’ve missed. 2.       Getting too involved. It’s bad enough that my best friend/editor keeps begging me not to kill a particular character she’s fond of, if I didn’t write in the fantasy genre, there would be no rational way for me to bring back people from the dead just because I like them too much ...

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