Stories about young

Charles Bennett: The one and only ‘gora’ cricket umpire in Pakistan!

“Howzat!” yells an energetic and enthusiastic young handicapped bowler, looking at an American umpire, at a friendly cricket match played at a local ground in Islamabad this summer. The American umpire turns down his caught-behind appeal and the bowler turns back to prepare to complete his eighth over of the Twenty20 match. “It was very close, good call by the umpire,” whispers a fellow batsman in the ear of his colleague in the dressing room. The friendly match ends and both players find themselves surprisingly seeking cricket tips from the American umpire. The man I’m talking about is Charles Bennett, known as “Chuck” among his fellow ...

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When street children can don national colours to represent Pakistan

It was a sweltering Saturday afternoon, when a group of young street children stopped to watch another group of children play football on a playground in New Karachi. The sport had captured their young imagination and they looked at the game longingly. The coach noticed these children – who were seemingly returning from garbage collection – and asked them to join in the football practice. They rushed forth with excitement and realised that the children they were playing with were ‘street children’ as well. This made them feel comfortable and so they played their hearts out. This was a practice session of Street Strikers Football ...

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The doctor cannot see you today – he’s tired

Ever wondered if your doctor had a birthday party to attend? A valeema to go to? A bunch of kids at home wailing out in indignation because daddy hadn’t come home in time to take them to their favourite park? He would have, had he not received a call about a patient with a ruptured aneurysm. As a doctor, I have never met a surgeon who, at some point during the surgical procedure, did not envy the person sleeping soundly on the operating table in front of him. Barely more awake than the patient he operates upon, his tired mind races through the ...

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A plea from a young doctor

Dear people, I do not receive any pay, perks or privileges for my job. I have to work 28 days a month with only two Sundays off. Every week, I have to perform emergency duties at least once for 12 continuous hours, apart from ward duties that extend up to 30 consecutive hours. Who am I? You guessed it – I am a young doctor working in a public sector hospital in Pakistan. This hospital is in Punjab and I’ve been working here for some time now. There are three main departments in any hospital namely the emergency department, the indoor department and the outdoor ...

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The Lyari we all (don’t) know

If you see people with curly hair, pan gutka in their mouth, speaking their own Balochi version of Urdu, then you are definitely among Lyariites. Being someone unfamiliar with this Pandora island of Karachi, one should be worried because it is here that you are among the most dangerous creatures to be found. In a few minutes you may be killed or drugged, or if lucky, kidnapped. Your head will be ripped off and given to the children to play football. Your hands and legs will be severed and sent to your parents and so on. Unfortunately this is the misperception ...

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The legacy of UK’s Pakistani Muslim predators

On May 8, 2012, nine men, of whom eight were of Pakistani background, were convicted at Liverpool Crown Court for a range of offences including trafficking within the UK, rape, sexual assault and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. They were part of a gang who had groomed vulnerable young girls in and around Rochdale, Greater Manchester. They were given prison sentences ranging from 4 to 19 years. Two distinct themes emerged from this trial; firstly, the perpetrators were by and large men of Pakistani heritage and the victims were young white women. On its own, there ...

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Botox, surgical revamping and the elixir of youth

Sequined, satined, bejeweled, and heavily perfumed, a female form came hurtling in my direction. “Oh Mariam, what a surprise! Where have you been all these years? Good to see you!” It was a classmate from medical college who had been in the United States for many years. She had recently relocated  so that her children could be eased into Pakistani culture and make the transition from west to east. “You look great. What have you done? ” I asked enthusiastically. “Nothing major really, just surgery around the eyes, collagen fillers around the mouth, and laser resurfacing on the skin. You know it’s a constant ...

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‘No Baba, not her 18th birthday party, her wedding’

“Baba, I need to go to Mehek’s* mehndi tonight.” “Mehek’s sister?” “No, Mehek’s. As in, Mehek in my class.” My father lowers his newspaper, eyebrows raised. “Mehek in your class is getting married?” Yes, Mehek in my class is getting married. And I am cordially invited. Who gets married at 18? Apparently, a sizable chunk. I can easily produce a list of girls who have gotten married, will get married this year, or will be getting married in the next year or two. The list of girls whose possibility of getting engaged in the next year or two is exponentially higher. And this phenomenon is not ...

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Of Shab-e-Barat fun

What a blessed festival our Shab-e-Barat is – or was. Let’s forget the bloodletting going on all around us for a while and the games people play around it and talk about the colourful lights associated with the festival – about its phuljharis (sparklers), mehtabis (flares), anars and patakhas (crackers). But today the Shab-e-Barat characterised by these fireworks is no more than a memory. It’s a sign of the times that the festivals that used to bring fun and happiness to Pakistani children are now so devoid of joy. What little remains, faces an imminent threat of an edict declaring it ...

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Parenting the digital generation

It is normal now days to see very young children in Pakistan confidently operating technology, possessing cell phones and using social media. A seventh grader can multi tasking; constantly uses SMS to communicate, spending a lot of time online, staying connected with people through the social media and surfing the net and checks out brainpop.com to get homework help while simultaneously listening to his/her iPod. Many young people have blogs by the age of 13-14 years now. So, even if their essays or stories do not receive a good grade in class, or their ideas and thoughts are not entertained ...

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