Stories about water

Traditional remedies: Old is not always gold

Cainophobia is the irrational or exaggerated fear of newness. If our nation had a national disease, this would most likely be it because we seem to be carrying the maxim “old is gold” to unnatural heights. Most Pakistanis have an undue fondness for traditions and cultural practices – practices that are often detrimental to them. Our obsession with rasm-o-rivaaj keeps us from relinquishing old ideas and replacing them with new and better ones.Doctors banging their heads against a wall, attempting to convince their patients to let go of their cherished (and altogether fallacious) beliefs on healthcare. The thanda-garam myth There is a widespread ...

Read Full Post

Water: Going retro

Remember behishti, the water carrier? I had believed the man from paradise had reverted to the paradise along with his water skin. When I saw the thirsty pursuing one in a TV programme, therefore, I was quite incredulous. Lord, can this be real! But yes, there it was; in fact, there were several of them. So the water carrier is back – the Karachiites’ prayers have been answered. That was what the programme was about: unable to ensure dependable water supply by any other means the people of Karachi have been forced to recall the water carriers. As for the water ...

Read Full Post

Row, row, row your boat, [not so] gently down to ‘Netty’ Jetty

This is a shout out to Sophia A. Sophia rows a boat. So do 15 other schools from all over Karachi who competed at the regatta at the Karachi Boat Club. But that’s not important right now. What’s important is that she rows a boat. And before she gets to that, she does this: “Oh my God. They train you like a dog. You have these squats, these endless jogs, and if you’re late you have pushups and then something called fishies. Imagine lying down and then trying to lift both your legs and your torso at the same time.” Fishies for ...

Read Full Post

Moving to Pakistan: My rational fears

As newspapers report more blasts every day, and as one of those blasts killed a would-be colleague, I have to admit it, I’m scared of moving to Pakistan. And I’m defenseless. I don’t speak Urdu or Punjabi or Pashtu or any language except English and a poor smattering of Spanish. I’m American, and I look American. I’m female and tiny. My only defenses are my wits, and as my last post proved, those are sometimes off-mark. My friends and especially my family implore me—why are you going? I often wonder if I should have been an artist rather than a journalist. ...

Read Full Post

Too old to survive the floods

As I haul four heavy jute bags of relief food items on my back, frantically searching through the hundreds of tents, hoping to give away the relief goods to the ones most in need, my sight stops at an old man sitting with three other elderly women. They seem old. Old enough to not have the strength to even hold one of the bags I am about to offer them. As I approach their tent, even before offering them one of the bags, I am stunned at their reaction: These elderly people have tears trickling down their wrinkly cheeks and one ...

Read Full Post

A media man in a relief camp

They say guilt is absent when an act is justified. Today I felt guilty because I could not justify sipping branded bottled water as our car moved some kilometers beyond Khan Garh. People from this fertile land were without any kind of drinking water as we were asked to halt by army personnel on the roadside. Thanks to cable TV, these apparently uneducated folk have a good idea of what the electronic media can do these days. They tell me to talk about them. All they want me to do is talk about them. They want me to tell the world that they lost everything. They want us to know that ...

Read Full Post