Stories about Thailand

#SayNoToWar: Airstrikes, blackouts and bunkers – that was my childhood

Learning new vocabulary and songs on the first day of school is a part of growing up; it’s a part of childhood memories. When I recall my memories, they are a little unusual. They are of war; the war of 1971 when East Pakistan was attacked. The lyrics of some of the ‘askari naghme’ (patriotic songs) sung by Madam Noor Jehan, such as Ay watan ke sajeeley jawanon (O brave men of the country) were the first to be embedded in my mind. Words like anti-aircraft, missile, trenches and blackouts were some of the first ones I learned in the English ...

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Travelling the world amongst the roaring sea: Memories of a Pakistani sailor

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Aspiring for a career and finally achieving employment is a blessing for anyone. When I was young, my dream, like many other kids, was to roam around the world, to see far off places and to experience different cultures. One practical way to achieve my goal was to join the Merchant Marine. At a young age of 17, when one is full of hope and ambition, I finally had the selection letter tucked gleefully in my pocket after a gruelling selection process. It was a pleasant February afternoon in 1974 when I joined the ...

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Pakistan is ‘Asia’s best kept secret’ – what will it take to reveal it globally?

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it” – Martin Parr. Pakistan, unfortunately, is a country that has been at the receiving end of such mythology and perception for a good while now, even as things on ground have changed quite drastically over the last few years. According to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), terror-related incidents have declined 58%, from 2,060 incidents in 2010 to 681 in 2017. These figures are testament to the success of our Army during the massive military operations conducted in the northern areas of ...

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The curse of the green passport: 4 places to visit this Eid break without any visa woes

English novelist Aldous Huxley once said, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” He could not have been more accurate, as only the bearer of a green passport can truly understand this. However, though it is obviously very difficult to get a visa on a green passport, it is not entirely impossible. If you move away from the Americas and the European destinations to allow for an easier visa, there are several countries that wholeheartedly welcome you despite the colour of your passport. Given the (not so) long Eid holidays coming up, I shall highlight a ...

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My wanderlust took me to Cambodia, the museum of horrors and mass graves

Back in April this year, I felt really low and sort of depressed, as I kept getting a strong urge to visit a new place, somewhere I’d never been before. I made my way to Google and found that Cambodia offers e-visas for Pakistani citizens. Thus, I ended up applying for a visa on a whim sometime in the evening, and found it waiting for me when I checked my inbox in the morning; the whole process taking only seven hours to complete. My wife and I took a connecting flight, which gave us a six-hour layover in Bangkok. Thankfully the ...

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Considering torture is illegal as per US law, how is a brutal torturer appointed as the new CIA chief?

The CIA occupies an almost mythic space in the minds of those of us who watch Hollywood movies. Time and again, we come across movies that show a direct link between the CIA and various atrocities around the globe. Movies such as the Bourne series and the Mission: Impossible series bubble up plenty of theories regarding how the CIA operates. Specifically for Pakistan and the Muslim world in general, such movies are proof for drawing room analysts that the CIA has a one-point agenda: defeat the Muslims. Movies like Zero Dark Thirty showed a heroic account of the CIA ...

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An open letter to my younger self

Dear Tanzila, Today your wish will come true. You will get what you had always wanted. Remember that hair straightener set? Mum has gotten it for you. It has curlers too! But I have some bad news: you will forget about the beloved straightener within three years and never think about it again. Why? Because, you will embrace the hijab as your identity – don’t freak out! You will love it. Today, as the 26-year-old ‘you’, I have reached out to you of the past to share some lessons. Some of them I learned in Sweden, some as I was sitting in a training session ...

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Why countries in the subcontinent continue to fare poorly at the Olympics

The performances of athletes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka who took part in the Olympics continued to be dismal. While India has managed to win 28 medals since its independence, Pakistan has managed only 10. Sri Lanka lags even further behind with just two medals. Bangladesh has never managed to win any. Even a comparatively smaller country like South Korea, which has a population of only 50 million, has managed to win 21 medals at Rio 2016. Athletes from Thailand and Malaysia also performed relatively better. India, a country with a 1.3 billion population and a $2 trillion economy, mustered only two medals at the Rio Olympics. Michael Phelps, the ace swimmer from the ...

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Firni: A Pakistani rice-pudding that is a must have this Eid!

Rice puddings are part of quite a few cuisines around the world. Be it Thailand, UK, Iran, Bangladesh, Norway, Egypt, Puerto Rico or Pakistan, everyone has their own versions of rice puddings prepared with local ingredients. In Thailand, they make theirs with coconut milk and serve it with mango. In Iran, it is made with saffron infused milk. The Danish add butter and cinnamon to their rice pudding and serve it on Christmas Eve and the Egyptians make it with nutmeg and rosewater. It seems joyous occasions in Pakistan, as well as all around the world, are celebrated with some version of rice ...

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Congratulations, Pakistan!

There are certain positive developments in Pakistan that I wished to extend my solidarity with as a liberal from across the Indo-Pak border. But as I set out to write this piece, we had the news of the arrest of an Indian on espionage charges in Balochistan, fanning hatred in both Pakistan and India. Apart from this, we had some sad news coming in at the global level from Brussels,  Ivory Coast, and the blasts in Lahore on Easter. However, negativity has to be fought with positivity. We, the liberals, have to move forward with our actions to defeat the agenda of those coming in our way rather ...

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